Suicide Prevention: Our Interview with Nina Bingham – Mental Health Counselor and Author
Please join us in welcoming Nina Bingham to Mental Health News Radio. Our topic of discussion is Suicide Prevention. We asked Nina to provide us with some additional information for our blog readers about her work as an advocate for suicide prevention. Nina is passionate about working to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness, especially among mental health providers who themselves struggle with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, and for their family members.
This is an important and timely topic. Please listen in!
We asked Nina to tell us about her work, and her new book, Once The Storm Is Over:
I’m an author, but I’ve been a Life Coach and Clinical Hypnotherapist for 12 years. I have two degrees in Psychology, and completed an academic program for my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. I also happen to suffer from clinical depression, but I hid that from my university professors and clients. In 2013 my 15-year old daughter who’d inherited the family depressive gene committed suicide. I decided then to “come out” of the mental health closet. Once The Storm Is Over was written for suicide survivors and for young adults and teens struggling with depression. It was also written for mental healthcare professionals who are waging their own private battles with depression, or some other mental health issue, so they can feel better about seeking support for their own mental health issues.
What is the book’s message?
This is a book about how to survive grief, how to reclaim your life, and get moving forward again. It discusses how to grow from pain, and definitely how to understand depression and suicide. It’s an autobiographical confession of my struggle to come to terms with being unable to save my daughter, and learning to love myself again.
What impact did your daughter’s suicide have on you?
Even though I’d been a mental healthcare professional for 12 years, nothing prepared me for the suicide of my daughter. Beautiful, smart and loving, she’d inherited my family’s depressive gene, and hid her unhappiness from me. Five days before her death, she stopped taking her anti-depressant, and committed suicide in the next room as I slept. The guilt and grief left me shattered and devastated. Because I suffered from post-traumatic stress symptoms, I had to take a leave of absence from my Life Coaching business. Suicide leaves a trail of destruction that can be very difficult to overcome.
What are some factors that have helped you overcome the grief, and were key to your healing?
I believe it can get easier over time, but only if you get enough support. One thing I’d do differently today is allow myself get more support than I did. My self-imposed shame over being a mental healthcare professional whose daughter committed suicide caused me to withdraw instead of reach out. Fortunately, I’m a “wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve” kinda gal, and since I’m a writer, I decided to journal about my journey through grief. The journal turned into this book, which was the biggest healing factor for me. Externalizing my grief by journaling about it was the catalyst for my healing. Being able to finally tell the truth about how mental illness had overshadowed my whole life was the key which freed me from the guilt and shame.
If a mental healthcare professional is experiencing symptoms, or one of their family members is, what is your advice for them?
I’d encourage them to realize that by “coming out” of the mental healthcare closet, they are they showing themselves or their family members the same compassion that they have been trained to offer their clients. They are also setting a good example for others in the mental healthcare field. More and more celebrities are coming forward to share their stories about their mental health issues since the death of Robin Williams, and I think this is a good thing. As celebrities and mental health professionals educate the public about their own issues, it will make it easier for people to come forward and get the support they need and deserve instead of hiding it in the shadows. If this trend continues, there’s no reason why we can’t end the stigma about mental illness in our lifetime.
How has coming out of the mental health closet changed your life?
It’s radically changed my life for the better, which is something I would have never guessed. I told myself that if I was honest about my depression, and my daughter’s depression, that I wouldn’t be respected by my professors, and among my peers. Although the world of academia still resists the idea that medical professionals could be proficient despite having a mental illness, those who have been through it bring a deep wisdom and empathy. They view their work as a continuing part of their recovery, much as an addiction specialist is most respected when she has overcome her own history of addiction.
What can be done to address the stigma that has accompanied mental illness in the past?
As more successful people are willing to share their own mental health journeys, the shame of mental illness will begin to fall away. It takes people in all walks of life willing to step up and say, “Hey, I’ve experienced that, too.” And the more we educate ourselves about it, we realize it’s not a character flaw or because the person is weak-mental illness is a neurological problem, a brain problem that is medical, and treatable. There’s no shame in that.
If our listeners have a friend or family member who is struggling with mental illness, or if they are, what should they do?
Just remember it doesn’t matter who you are: mental illness is no respecter of persons. Young and old, rich and poor, male and female, all ethnicities and cultures and even healthcare professionals experience depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The important thing is not to ignore it. Don’t let somebody else’s hang-ups and outdated ideas about mental illness keep you from being compassionate towards yourself or someone you know. Tell somebody you trust and ask them to come along as you see your doctor. Or make an appointment to see a counselor. When my daughter committed suicide, I realized I couldn’t handle it alone, I needed some professional help. I saw a psychologist who encouraged me to write about the pain I was in, and that was the beginning of my healing. Don’t make mental illness mean that you’re not good enough, or that you’re broken or not deserving of as much respect as the next person. See it for what it is: a medical condition that can be worked through. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, American Pacific University, HI
Associates of Arts in Psychology, Santa Rosa Junior College, CA
Bachelors of Arts in Applied Psychology, City University of Seattle, WA
Masters of Science of Mental Health Counseling Academic Program Completed-Capella University, MN
Nina Bingham is an Author, Life Coach, and Clinical Hypnotherapist. Inspiring, sincere and whole-hearted, she educates not only from her academic knowledge, but shares from her own hard-won life experience in a new and profound way. In private practice since 2003, she has treated individuals and couples with a wide variety of mental health issues. She is the author of 3 books of poetry and one recovery workbook, Never Enough. Her fifth book, “Once The Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing After The Suicide of My Daughter,” is due out in early 2015. It’s the autobiographical confession of a counselor who lost her teen daughter to suicide. What she learned about love and forgiveness changed her life forever. It will change yours, too.
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“Being an author myself, I come across some of the most gifted writers of our time. One of them is Nina Bingham. Nina’s new book, Once the Storm Is Over, is something you shouldn’t think twice about getting. When this book is available, I will be among the first to write a review.”–D.E. Evans, author of Truth Be Told: It’s About Time“Both Nina and her fiancée witnessed phenomenon’s that happened after her teen daughter’s death….Nina tells her moving story (Once the Storm is Over) and gives incredible advice about living life powerfully, how we can grow from pain, and definitely how to understand suicide. I really like Nina, you will too. Lots to learn to help you in your own life…”—Sandra Champlain, International Best-Selling Author of, We Don’t Die: A Skeptics View of the Afterlife
Tags: Depression, Family Grief, Kristin Sunanta Walker, Kristin Walker, Mental Health Counselor, Mental Health Is Real, mental health news radio, MHNR, Nina Bingham, Not Changing the Name, Once the Storm Is Over, Once The Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing After The Suicide of My Daughter, Suicide Prevention, Survive Grief, Symptoms of Depression, What is Mental Health?