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December 23, 2016 / cherished79

STIGMA – And Mental Illness

What is stigma?

When someone appears to be different than us, we may view him or her in a negative stereotyped manner.  People who have identities that society values negatively are said to be stigmatized.

Stigma is a reality for people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.  Society feels uncomfortable about mental illness. It is not seen like other illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Read more…

December 22, 2016 / cherished79

Welcome – Glad you could join me

This site “Living in Stigma” is dedicated to all of us struggling with mental illness, including our spouses, family and friends who are also affected.

Many forms of mental illness comprise of DepressionBipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, PTSD, Eating Disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and many more.

Mental illness is neither one’s weakness nor a character flaw, however, we regrettably live in a society laced with Stigma.

January 18, 2017 / cherished79

Depression and Caregiving

Could the sadness, loneliness or anger you feel today be a warning sign of depression? It’s possible. It is not unusual for caregivers to develop mild or more serious depression as a result of the constant demands they face in providing care.

Caregiving does not cause depression, nor will everyone who provides care experience the negative feelings that go with depression. But in an effort to provide the best possible care for a family member or friend, caregivers often sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs and the emotional and physical experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. The resulting feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, exhaustion—and then guilt for having these feelings—can exact a heavy toll.

Read more…

January 18, 2017 / cherished79

Imagine asking: Are you even trying to get better?

What kind of question is that? Who would ask someone that? Mental illness stigma at it’s best.

There are still so many comments made by society concerning mental illness, striking close to home with me and my struggles with depression.

Dusting off some old journals, back from my days in the hospital, I came across one stay where I “interviewed” informally some fellow patients enduring their experiences. While there were many more stories; I only selected these three:

These are samples of mental illness stigma and what society perceives.

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*Denise in her early ‘20’s gave a rather heartrending account of an outing just that evening with her mother.

Denise’s mother picked her up from the hospital for dinner at a mid-priced restaurant. It was trivial talk mostly, due to the fact that she had just undergone an ECT the day prior and depression was relentless. After dinner, they both drove to the mall where they shopped for a new outfit, but it was on the drive home that anger and that feeling of failure set in.

Read more…

January 13, 2017 / cherished79

Depression continues…

I didn’t compose the words in this quote, and for the past few months, I’ve been struggling with depression several days per week.  Researchers state that there is a connection between migraines and depression, and living daily with excruciating migraine pain; who wouldn’t be depressed. I’m pretty much housebound. Depression seems a never-ending crawl through muck.

But, writing is my passion, keeping me sane, and distracting my mind off my thumping head.  I’m starting Somatic Experience Therapy next week, anyone ever heard of it? Does it help for trauma?

Deb

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January 13, 2017 / cherished79

Quote: Well Said

January 13, 2017 / cherished79

NIGHT EATING DISORDER

A fairly rare eating disorder whose signature is excessive eating – though not necessarily bingeing – at night needs further study since it may signal other mental health issues, researchers say.

They analyzed eating disorders and mental health history in more than 1,600 university students and found about 4 percent met night eating disorder criteria, with about a third of those also engaging in binge eating.

Read more…

January 12, 2017 / cherished79

Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder: The Overlap

The two disruptive mental conditions which contribute to the ‘dysfunctionality’ of the normal human behavior, are intricately connected and often difficult to distinguish. An individual diagnosed…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: medium.com

January 11, 2017 / cherished79

Memorable Quote

 :

YES.

January 11, 2017 / cherished79

STIGMA – IN THE WORKPLACE

STIGMA ~~

Considering so many people have such difficulty opening up to people close to them, it’s no wonder that there are real fears about being stigmatized in the workplace. The cost of mental illness in the workplace is enormous: 30 to 40 % of disability claims are for mental illness, and the losses amount to about $33 billion a year, not including treatment and health care—plus the unknowable costs in lost productivity by those people who suffer in silence.

Employees should think carefully about how much and to whom they are planning to disclose information. If an employee is performing a job well despite a mental illness, then there would be no obligation to disclose his/her condition. In fact, the benefits and risks of disclosing should be carefully weighed before any action is taken.

Sharing information with co-workers is a matter of personal choice. Trust is the issue, and although there is always talk among co-workers, be wise when or if you choose to disclose. This could be detrimental to your future with your company. Really ask yourself – am I going to be farther along by disclosing or just remain silent. Will it hurt or harm? And is it worth it?

*In my personal situation, I never uttered a word fearing possible job loss.  Trust was one reason but stigma was the main issue.

January 10, 2017 / cherished79

EMDR Therapy for PTSD?

A friend has struggled with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for many years, and has just started EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy.  She found it unusual and felt uneasy at first, but after a few sessions could feel a positive effect.

Read more…

January 10, 2017 / cherished79

What If You Don’t Like Your Therapist?

therapy

I’ve consulted a few therapists over the years, and it’s always been advised to “give it some time”, but just how long do you “give it”?   I prefer not to ‘therapist hop’, however, even after a few sessions I can sense if this is the therapist for me. I’ve been with the therapist I have now for almost 6 years and knew almost immediately it was a ‘good fit’.

I found this article in Psychcentral.com interesting.

 

January 9, 2017 / cherished79

7 Signs of a Covert Introvert Narcissist

Introvert narcissists are often difficult to spot and yet can carry the same self-conceit and negative contagion as their extroverted counterpart. Look for these ke

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.psychologytoday.com

January 9, 2017 / cherished79

Depression may pass from mothers to daughters

Depression appears to be passed down from mothers to daughters, say researchers who have been looking at similarities in brain structures between generations. The research is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Around 8% of Americans aged 12 years and over are affected by depression. It is commonly found in both mothers and daughters, previous human studies have reported.

Animal studies in the past have shown that when mothers are stressed during pregnancy, this is more likely to be reflected in the brain structure of daughters than of sons, specifically in the corticolimbic system.

The corticolimbic system is used to assess danger, and it is also where emotions are processed and regulated. It includes the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and stress are reflected in changes to this system. These structural changes are most likely to be passed down from mothers than from fathers; they tend to affect daughters rather than sons.

Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), led by Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, PhD., an associate professor of psychiatry, studied 35 families, none of whom had a diagnosis of depression, in an attempt to link the two study areas.

Source: Medicalnewstoday.com 

January 8, 2017 / cherished79

7 Signs Your Relationship Is Abusive (Even If There’s No Physical Violence)

Women who are especially empathetic are actually often bait for psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists—exactly because of that sensitivity to the feelings of others. These are some of the things (besides physical violence) that suggest your significant other might be abusive.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.mindbodygreen.com

January 8, 2017 / cherished79

Mental Illness Stigma

Mental health stigma quote - The perilous highs, and desperate lows, and extravagent flurries of mood are not always symptoms of a broken mind, but signs of a beating heart.:

January 8, 2017 / cherished79

7 Ways To Make Therapy More Affordable

There’s no denying therapy is a huge financial burden: Affordability was the number one reason people avoid mental health services according to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Depending on where you live and what kind of insurance you have, the price can be upwards of $80 to $200 for one 45- to 60-minute session.

But here’s the truth: Therapy doesn’t have to be expensive in order to work. There are multiple options to get the help and treatment you deserve — and getting that help is crucial.

“Mental illnesses do not just ‘go away’ on their own, and they usually do not get better over time without treatment,” Leslie Swanson, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post. “One of the major benefits of therapy is that you will learn skills that you can use to manage your mental health and well-being throughout your life.”

Below are just a few ways Swanson says you can fit therapy into your budget. Read more…

January 7, 2017 / cherished79

The 8 Types Of Narcissists + How To Spot Each One

We’ve all been in toxic relationships. And, while you might’ve known your partner just made you feel icky, you might not have characterized them as a classic narcissist. Well, it turns out narcissism can manifest in all kinds of behaviors and personalities. Here’s what you need to know.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.mindbodygreen.com

The narcissist will never change.

January 7, 2017 / cherished79

Remembering Carrie Fisher, Princess of Hollywood

She helped take us to a galaxy far, far away. But the late actress’ Earth-bound achievements were equally impressive.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.wired.com

Remembering Carrie Fisher and mother Debbie Reynolds RIP

January 6, 2017 / cherished79

No need for advice

Fun Psychology facts here!:

January 6, 2017 / cherished79

Ambiguous Grief: Grieving Someone Who Is Still Alive

I found this article interesting recalling the grief I experienced while my grandmother struggled with Alzheimer’s, gradually becoming worse and failing to even recognize me.

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My guess is that when people read the title of this article they will react with either a, “what are they talking about?  How can someone be grieving someone who is still alive and what the heck is ambiguous grief???” or a “holy crap, yes!  I have felt exactly that way! Thank goodness WYG is finally covering this topic”.  This is one of those topics where if you have been there, you get it and if you haven’t, you don’t.  Either way, hopefully, you’ll read on.

Before we dive in, if you clicked on this post because you feel like you are grieving someone with a terminal illness who has not yet died, there is another WYG article you should read before you read this article.  Check out our article on Anticipatory Grief, which is about the grief that comes when we anticipate that we are going to lose someone.

In contrast to anticipatory grief, there are times in life when someone we love becomes someone we barely recognize.  The person is still physically with us, but psychologically they are gone. There are a range of reasons this can happen.  Some of the most common are things like addiction, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and mental illness.  If you have never lived through loving someone in such a situation, this can be hard to understand.  The person you love is still there, sometimes they ‘look’ sick, sometimes they don’t.  But regardless of how they look, they do things they would never have done, they say things they would never have said, treat you in ways they never would have treated you, and they are not there for you in ways they previously were.  This is sometimes referred to as “ambiguous grief” or “ambiguous loss”.

This may sound very abstract, but when it occurs in your life it is very concrete and real.  Your mom, who always loved and supported you, doesn’t recognize you, understand you or says hurtful things.  You husband, who was always kind and considerate, is now lying and stealing to support an addiction.  You son, who was brilliant and driven, is now struggling with delusions and hallucinations.

More on this article @  whatsyourgrief.com

January 5, 2017 / cherished79

Psychodynamic Therapy

My first involvement with therapy back in the early 1990’s was Psychodynamic Therapy, and at the beginning I was uncertain what it involved.  This form of therapy was used to confront the issues dealing with PTSD, but little did I know I was in for an incredibly bumpy ride.  Back then there wasn’t much information on types of therapies used, and wished I had researched and had use of the internet and resources that we do today.

The information on PsychCentral.com site explains:

Psychodynamic therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior.  The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior.  In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse substances.

The article continues on PsychCentral.com

January 5, 2017 / cherished79

Mindfulness

This is SO good. 15 habits of mindful people and how you can incorporate them into your daily life...:

January 4, 2017 / cherished79

7 Ways to Avoid Re-Traumatizing a Trauma Victim

I found this article somewhat helpful appearing in PsychCental.com.

Trauma is a complex phenomenon. Many of us have probably experienced an event that we struggle to not only forget, but emotionally cope with. If I were to ask you if you have ever experienced a traumatic event what would you say? Was it severe, moderate, or mild? Was it long-term or short-term? Were you able to easily get over it? Whatever the case may be, a traumatic experience must be an event that we find difficult to cope with over time. Sadly, many people who tend to lack knowledge about trauma fail to recognize that anything a trauma victim comes in contact with can re-traumatize them.

For example, I previously had a client who witnessed his mother slit her throat and commit suicide. Prior to this suicide, the mother had been playing hiding-go-seek outside with all 4 of her children. This child struggled with understanding why his mother would walk away during hiding-go-seek and kill herself. Now, at the age 10, he watches movies with his father that often include crime scenes, murder, and suicide which tends to trigger memories of his mother’s suicide. He is unable to sleep at night, relax, or put the past behind him. Yet, his father is unaware of the reality that he  is possibly re-traumatizing his own son with these movies.

This article will discuss 7 things we, who are close to trauma victims, should be mindful not to do. I will also give suggestions on what we should do instead.

It is sad to say but a large amount of individual, families and parents come to therapy with unrealistic expectations about the therapeutic process. I often have parents and families ask the following questions when they see me for the first time:

  • “How often will he/she see you?” This question is asked because the unrealistic expectation is that if the child/teen sees me more often throughout the week, progress will happen faster.
  • “Will you make him/her talk?” This question is asked because the unrealistic expectation is that I am someone who should make an individual talk about the “bad” things that have happened to them in order to stimulate great progress.
  • “Has she/he talk to you about what happened to them?” This question is also asked with the unrealistic expectation that an individual, who just met me and may be slow to warm up, will open up like a fountain and start talking. Many families often tell the child/teen “your therapist is not going to judge you so just open up.”
  • “Why isn’t he/she talking about what makes him/her so mad?” This question is asked with the unrealistic expectation that if the person talks about their past, they won’t be so angry anymore.

Remainder of this article @
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2015/06/7-ways-to-avoid-re-traumatizing-a-trauma-victim/

(repost)

 

January 4, 2017 / cherished79

Quote for Today

Some people try very hard to make a virtue of their indecision and shortcomings. . . . . beware!:

January 3, 2017 / cherished79

Looking forward

I love this..love what you see in the mirror:

If I achieve the “eat more greens” and “attend cooking classes” it will be a success!

January 3, 2017 / cherished79

What is Huntington’s Disease?

Quick Answer: Huntington’s disease is an incurable, hereditary brain disorder. It is a devastating disease for which there is no currently “effective” treatment.

Nerve cells become damaged, causing various parts of the brain to deteriorate. The disease affects movement, behavior and cognition – the affected individuals’ abilities to walk, think, reason and talk are gradually eroded to such a point that they eventually become entirely reliant on other people for their care.

Huntington’s disease has a major emotional, mental, social and economic impact on the lives of patients, as well as their families.

Fast facts on Huntington’s disease

Here are some key points about Huntington’s disease. More detail and supporting information are in the main article.

–Huntington’s disease is, to date, incurable.

–Huntington’s disease attacks nerve cells gradually over time. Read more…

January 2, 2017 / cherished79

PTSD Survivors: Why is validation so important for healing?

dissociation 3

Throughout my years in therapy, validation was comparable to receiving a gift, at times triggering tears of sadness, yet happiness and contentment at the same time.   Finally, someone was not ignoring me, was respecting my feelings and best of all, no interruptions with cruel words.  As a daughter of a narcissistic mother, very rarely showing any validation, empathy and usually telling me “you’re making things up again.”, this was all new to me.

Validation means to express understanding and acceptance of another person’s internal experience, whatever that might be. Validation does not mean you agree or approve. Validation builds relationships and helps ease upset feelings. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by others is powerful. Validation is like relationship glue. – psychologytoday.com

This article from PsychCentral.com explains ‘Validation’.

Have you ever wished you could take back an email that you sent when you were emotionally upset?  Or maybe you made some statements when you were sad that you didn’t really mean or agreed to something when you were thinking with your heart that you later regretted? Or maybe you wanted to be supportive and helpful to someone you love but couldn’t because your own emotions made it difficult?

Communicating when overwhelmed with emotion does not usually work well. Being overwhelmed with emotion is not a pleasant experience. For emotionally sensitive people, managing their emotions so they can communicate most effectively and with the best results means learning to manage the intense emotions they experience on a regular basis. Read more…

January 1, 2017 / cherished79

Narcissistic Behaviour

January 1, 2017 / cherished79

Which weather changes trigger migraine headaches?

 

I’m reposting this article (Feb/2016) as my migraines only worsen year after year, and yes, in my belief the variation in barometric pressure plays a huge factor.  Last month I decided to try hot/cold stone massage therapy and peppermint oil via a diffuser.  It’s eased less painful migraines, however, I’m still stuck with the excruciating migraines that last for days and days.

Which weather patterns or changes in weather might trigger your migraine attacks depends on you. Every person with migraines likely has a unique set of triggers which may include stress, certain foods, alcohol, and other factors.  In the same way, some people with migraines are likely sensitive to one weather factor, and others are sensitive to other factors.

An American study found that some people with migraines appear to be sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Another American study found that higher temperatures increased the number of patients with migraines who went to the Emergency Department with headaches.  Barometric pressure may be another factor.  One study looked at whether falling barometric pressure seemed to trigger headaches during a time when a typhoon hit Japan. It found that 75% of people with migraines had migraine attacks associated with the drop in barometric pressure, while only 20% of people with tension-type headaches experienced an attack.

Read more…

December 30, 2016 / cherished79

Ice vs. Heat for Pain

December 30, 2016 / cherished79

He Cheated on You ~ Now What?

Image: pixabay.com

Image: pixabay.com

7 Things to do after you find out he is cheating

You’ve just learned the unthinkable:  Your significant other cheated on you.

It’s the twist every one of us in a committed relationship dreads facing the most, and now it’s happening to you. Your mind is reeling, your heart is racing, and you’re hurting so much, you’re not sure you can go on. But you have to.

Believe it or not, there are things you can do — productive, healthy things — when you find out your husband or boyfriend has betrayed you in the worst possible way: by being with someone else. At a time like this, when you’re in complete shock, denial, disbelief and pain, it’s all you can do to wake up in the morning and get out of bed. But there are other ways to cope with such a devastating revelation.

_____________________________________

Here are seven steps to take when you find out he cheated on you.

1. Decide whether you want to stay with him or not and whether your relationship is worth saving

This will take some time after you’ve processed what happened. One way to figure out whether you should stay together and fight for your love is, to be honest about the type of man he is and the sort of betrayal involved. If he’s not the kind of guy who strays and it seems like it was a one-shot deal, you should try giving him another chance. Ditto if he confesses the affair or at least apologizes profusely and seems genuinely remorseful once you find out about it.

“Slip-ups happen, but the good news is that when they truly are slip-ups, they’re survivable,” William July, the author of Confessions of an Ex-Bachelor, tells Cosmo.

But if he’s done this before, this was more than just a one-time thing (i.e., it was an actual full-blown affair or romantic relationship with someone else), it happened with his ex, or he doesn’t seem the least bit sorry, think long and hard before choosing to stick it out.

2. Talk it out

Read more…

December 29, 2016 / cherished79

THE JOURNAL – Thoughts on Paper

THE JOURNAL

My first diary dates back to 1972. I was in high school and not enjoying life a great deal. The majority of my entries were depressing and distressing, and this seemed my only avenue to express feelings. I have been somewhat devoted to journaling throughout the years, and cherish them written throughout my darkest, blackest depression days.

Lengthy days spent in hospitals, which included charting extensive medications prescribed and daily feelings were recorded. Memory loss can be recaptured now due to these entries. Even though I am on my road to recovery, I still record daily, or weekly and it’s somewhat of a habit.

The journal itself doesn’t have to be an expensive, leather-bound book – mine is an inexpensive spiral ‘4 subject book’ purchased at a department store. Keep in mind this is YOUR journal.

Getting Started

Find a comfortable chair or seat yourself at the kitchen table. Clear your mind. Relax. Let your thoughts and emotions flow freely. It is important that you do not censor yourself as you write. Do not worry about grammar or punctuation errors. Put every thought onto the page.

Read more…

December 29, 2016 / cherished79

The Lady Found in the Snow

She was in her fifties and reported missing four or five days ago, a picture of a woman looking cheerful, with striking blue eyes, shoulder length light brown hair wearing a black and green mid-length parka. It was on the news and in the newspapers repeatedly, her picture of a woman with a warm smile.

To me it sounded peculiar, as if intentional or planned; waking in the morning, followed by calling in sick to work then vanishing. When reported missing, the police were summoned, then several friends and relatives began searching also. The investigation dragged on with no success, and it’s as if she went ‘poof’ into thin air, no trace, no use of credit cards.

Days passed, when someone identified her van at a cemetery, and not too distant from the van they discovered her body dead in the snow. The police didn’t reveal information as to the cause of death.

The newspapers stated that she was a registered nurse, worked for twenty-two years at the same hospital, extremely well liked and exceptional at her job. Her spouse was a clergy at the only church in the town where the family lived, and she leaves behind two children.

Read more…

December 28, 2016 / cherished79

That Bipolar Feeling

Image: adanta.org

December 27, 2016 / cherished79

Financial Abuse ~ A form of Elder Abuse

Financial abuse is a form of abuse that often goes hand in hand with other abuses.  It’s also an all too common form of elder abuse. Anyone who is frail, sick, in an institution or unable to handle their own finances completely and with understanding, is vulnerable to financial abuse. 

Frequently, financial abuse is a part of domestic abuse, being employed as a way of controlling the victim and preventing her from being able to escape the abusive relationship.

Financial abuse is often a part of another abuse such as domestic violence or emotional/psychological abuse or even bullying. It can result from drug or alcohol addictions too.

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is any abuse involving money. It can be perpetrated by an individual or an organisation. If someone forces you to take money from your account to give to them, takes money from you, pressures you into giving them money, borrows from you and refuses to repay the loan, forces you to sign something without explaining the full implications or allowing you to read the small print, takes your benefits or charges for services you have not received or requested, it is financial abuse.

Financial abuse can also involve cowboy traders who undertake work and leave a substandard job after receiving payment.

Financial abuse in domestic abuse/domestic violence

Read more…

December 27, 2016 / cherished79

PTSD: Why do I have a ‘short fuse’?

Image: pixabay.com

Image: pixabay.com

“She’s such a nice girl”.

I’ve never recognized why I developed a short fuse or experience sudden outbursts of anger while growing up until I was in my therapy session last week. My therapist and I are seldom at odds, yet one particular thing she said ticked me off and I snapped at her which resulted in anger.

We talked it through and resolved the issue, but I was shocked when she said, “when angry, the PTSD kicks in just like that”. I never connected anger, irritability or having a short fuse before with PTSD, but it makes sense.  Yes, I have a ‘short fuse‘ and I’m terribly impatient at times.

I’ve been termed ‘such a nice girl’ often, and to others, I suppose I am. Well-mannered, respectful, soft-spoken, compassionate, but underneath, I’ve held back anger on many occasions. Outside smiles, inside tears.

Read more…

December 26, 2016 / cherished79

We Are Forever Beautiful

December 26, 2016 / cherished79

Disenfranchised Grief

Disenfranchised grief” is when your heart is grieving but you can’t talk about or share your pain with others because it is considered unacceptable to others. It’s when you’re sad and miserable and the world doesn’t think you should be, either because you’re not “entitled” or because it isn’t “worth it.”

See if any of these examples of disenfranchised grief ever applied to you:

Your relationship is not recognized by others because they didn’t know you had a close relationship.

This can occur when there is a miscarriage; a friendship not known to the family; caregivers such as a health professional when a patient dies; a former exchange student lived with you for awhile and when she went to her home country, she was killed; when you are extremely close with someone and someone they love is dying of has died; or the family knows about the relationship, but doesn’t know how close it was.  It could also occur because you had to give up a child for adoption or if you were given up for adoption.  Children can experience disenfranchised grief when they experience a loss and their grief is not acknowledged.

Your loss isn’t a person. Read more…

December 24, 2016 / cherished79

Thoughts

This is one of my favourite quotes.

December 24, 2016 / cherished79

Parentless at Christmas — my child within

Christmas time isn’t always as cheerful as it is meant to be..It isn’t what you see on tv or in films..It isn’t all happy, with big families, presents and lots of love..It has most definetely not been this way for me.. Christmas is a tumultuous time for those of us with trauma & loss..It is […]

via Parentless at Christmas — my child within

December 24, 2016 / cherished79

6 Things You Should Know Before Donating to Charity

It’s hard to know which charities are most deserving — and yet questioning the merits of a nonprofit (Where is my dollar really going? Is this a scam?) can make you feel like a curmudgeon. We asked the tough questions so you won’t have to.

(Article source: Huffington Post and written by Kathryn Wallace)

1. How can I make sure a charity is legit?

First determine if the organization is a nonprofit, meaning it’s been granted tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the IRS (churches and nonprofits with less than $5,000 in revenue, however, don’t have to register). But this shouldn’t be the end of your research. “Just because a group is a bona fide charity doesn’t mean it’s going to use your donation wisely,” says Sandra Miniutti, CFO for Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates nonprofits.

Websites like CharityNavigator.org, Give.org (the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance) and GuideStar.org compile data in a donor-friendly way to make it easier to vet some of the more than 1.4 million registered tax-exempt organizations that want your donation. On these websites, you’ll find information on charities’ spending habits (how much is going to administrative expenses?) and transparency (are they open about what they’re doing with the money that actually goes to the cause?). And remember 35 percent — That’s about how much nonprofits should spend on admin and fundraising costs. The rest should go to charitable initiatives.

2. But I’ve got only $25. Is that enough to make a difference?

Yes, say all the experts! In fact, many donations come in small packages, so don’t get hung up on the number. Give what you can.

3. Am I a jerk if I don’t participate in the “give a dollar” campaign at the drugstore? Read more…

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