"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

May 30, 2014

When You Give You Receive!

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me? 

When You Give You Receive!  If you've been on this platform before, then you may have heard me speak to this opportunity I am presenting to you today...  It's so easy to get caught up in the challenges and demands that this profession can present, right?  However, with a little self-care and self-awareness by your side you will be able to cope in a manner that will allow you to see, When You Give You Receive!

As I find myself walking into a new and exciting chapter in my career, I have been moved to share because this opportunity I speak to is so clear right now, crystal!  When we are empowered by the opportunity to support another for their benefit and gain, this process is truly inspiring. If you are having trouble following my lead, you may be in that space and place that has your availability on empty.  Our profession (helping others help themselves) asks us to balance two different outcomes of our efforts (reward and challenge).  However, sometimes one can get stuck in the effects of that challenge, and the impact that this can create will not support one's wellness...

If I have you thinking about just that, there is good news awaiting you...  This state (stuck in challenge) is as permanent as you choose for it to be.  The point here is that your suffering can either be temporary or long term, you get the opportunity to choose.  If you don't see it that way, then there is some work to be done.  We are provided with so much opportunity to give to ourselves as we enact the process of service and support, but it has to be of value to you, a choice, belief, and ultimately a commitment to the necessary work.  If you are able to get to this place, then you are more likely to receive when you give!

Recently, we lost one of the wisest pair of eyes that I have been fortunate to learn through, Ms. Maya Angelou.  I leave you with her gift to all of us, as her words, lessons and wisdom will live on... 

“I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

~Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email 
Founder of Can You Hear Me?  Adjunct Lecturer and External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work | VAC.  Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work).  He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing processMore about the man behind the mission ⇢

May 2, 2014

Learning Through The Eyes Of Neitcha Thomsen

The Learning Through Your Eyes Series was created because we recognized that the opportunity for helping professionals to share a part of their story can be a powerful tool, one that provides an opening to empower and support both the storyteller and reader.  It teaches us in a manner that allows us to inspire and reach, educate and teach, and tap into that space and place that has intention and purpose.  Our hope for all of those that can here us is that these stories will provide you with an opportunity of your own, as there is always a choice!
The sharing we present to you today is told through the eyes of Neitcha Thomsen, a part-time MSW student at the University of Georgia (Gwinnette campus) clinical program who just completed her second semester of studies.  By sharing her story (as scary as it may be to tell it), Neitcha hopes that it will somehow help others.  We truly thank Neitcha for taking the time to share (and embrace) this opportunity, her courage and resilience are heard loud and clear as she gives and receives!

Writing this brings feelings of anxiety.  Maybe it is fear of judgment or a sense of shame that still lingers.  My daughter had her first psychotic break at the end of her freshman year of college.  After many different diagnosis; different medications;several hospitalizations; dealing with a 1013; an attempted suicide and various treatment tracks, I am happy to say she is stable as she finds purpose, joy, independence and love in her life.  It took a long time and much courage on her part to reach this moment. 

At the time of her suicide attempt I felt many emotions. Some of these were due to me being her mother and others were from my own suicide attempt around her same age.  I was saddened knowing that she had felt such pain and desperation and saw suicide as the solution.  I felt like a failure for not having seen the signs or to have sought help for her sooner.  I understood what one has to feel in order to reach that moment that death seems like a good option.  I struggled with sharing my experience with her, and I think that came from my lingering feelings of shame surrounding suicide.  Eventually, I shared it with her and she said my opening up made her feel not so alone or like such a failure. Even my closest friends do not know this part of my history.

While struggling with my daughter’s illness I began to reach a place of hopelessness and anxiety.  This led to the return of my depression and suicidal ideations.  After a friend in a support group shared with me her decision to reach out for counseling and how it had helped her, I realized that I needed this same type of professional help.  My therapist helped me to identify my feelings while recognizing my lack of boundaries and unhealthy coping skills that had arisen while dealing with the impact of mental illness on my family.  I learned to pay attention to my needs and put in place self care.  I set goals for myself such as entering graduate school while working on my feelings of low self esteem and lack of confidence.  I was able to have enough hope in order to reach for my dreams.

I volunteer with NAMI.  When I share my experience or volunteer to bring information and support to others, I feel as if I have taken one more step on my path of healing.  Sharing this story in a more public way is one more step.  I look back on these experiences and know that even though they came with pain and crisis, they also brought to me opportunities.  I have shared the part of my story about my daughter with some of my fellow MSW students in hopes that it will allow them to maybe see the family from a different perspective.  I found that sharing it with them was scary due to my fears of being judged by my fellow mental health professional students.  This fear has prevented me from sharing the whole story...  Finding ways to share our stories in appropriate settings will aid us in recognizing our own possible triggers and bias, while helping to support our practice as we work with clients in the future.

-Neitcha Thomsen

About Neitcha

Outside of her MSW studies, Neitcha volunteers with NAMI Northside Atlanta where she has taught the Family to Family curriculum, been captain of the NAMI walk team and served as a chair for their mental health fair for two years now.  Neitcha has found further opportunity to advocate (sharing her story and its learned experience) at family orientations for Skyland Trail (a treatment facility in Atlanta, Ga) supporting families who have a loved one entering treatment for major mental health illnesses.  Prior to her path in the field of social work, she worked as a Spanish Interpreter for the Dekalb School System for 12 years.