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Mental Mending

A year into the pandemic, it’s time to examine our shifting lives

A year after it encroached on American soil, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us in some way, shifting our lives, possibly forever.

That’s why this èXtra is dedicated to a few of those issues in support of our readers, providing enlightening, and hopefully empowering, content.

Our Hometown Hero, Scott Spiezle, founded Kids Minds Matter, an organization that has, in a short time, raised substantial awareness and given hope to young people and families in our community who battle mental illness and its effects every day.

Here, you’ll find a first-person account of a woman who endured the gut-wrenching journey of her son’s mental illness and the help they both sought — and found — through NAMI Collier.

Necessary for assuaging the problems we cannot resolve immediately or by ourselves, is rest. Our sleep meditation feature explores the various avenues that could help you get the restorative sleep desperately required in stressful times.

And we continue our coverage of the NextGen speaker series with a lesson from Joel Anderson, President & CEO of Five Below, regarding what his team learned from working remotely this past year of the pandemic.

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History month, we shine two Entertainment Spotlights on women: one visual and one auditory. Both are presented and facilitated by our area’s own nexus of public broadcasting: WGCU. We present its lineup of stories about women who have made history and its joyfully informational Grape Minds podcast, presented by locals who know a bunch about wine, Gina Birch and WGCU news director, Julie Glenn.

We offer these words of personal development author Karen Salmanshon: “Often, it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.”

 

HOMETOWN HERO

Scott Spiezle knows this for sure: Kids’ Minds Matter

Mental illness must be treated like any illness, nonprofit founder says

By Karen Hanlon

Scott Spiezle, the founder of Kids’ Minds Matter, remembers the sleepless nights he spent on his daughter’s bedroom floor trying to prevent her from jumping out a window. 

Hearing the words, “Dad, I think I could hurt myself tonight,” the father of two grabbed his pillow and kept a bedside vigil.

The entrepreneurial businessman — Spiezle started a gourmet French restaurant in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and ran a Philadelphia architectural firm — is a creative problem solver. Still, he felt helpless against his daughter’s suicidal thoughts.

“I wanted to fix it, but I couldn’t,” says Spiezle, whose Kids’ Minds Matter helps children find early access to mental health care. “Eventually, I came to understand that I wasn’t doing something horribly wrong as a parent. It’s a disease to be treated just like a physical illness that requires insulin or chemo.”

The mental health advocate discovered that children’s suffering impacts family and friends like a pyramid expanding its grip from the top down. Families often are destroyed, and Spiezle’s marriage did not survive.

 He still experiences trauma, similar to PTSD, when he reflects upon the accident that left his daughter in a touch-and-go coma. She had walked in front of a car, and the impact threw her 95 feet. Through that harrowing incident, the family found the right doctor, an accurate diagnosis, and the best treatment.

Experiencing firsthand the devastating and far-reaching effects of mental illness, Spiezle guides other families to treatment at the earliest signs of an issue (usually anxiety) without the fear, stigma and embarrassment that often stifles that first call for help.

A MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT

Spiezle remarried, and about eight years ago, after selling his architectural firm to his employees, he and his wife, Susan Goldy, moved to Naples. Their plans to volunteer a few hours a month at the newly constructed Golisano Children’s Hospital quickly deepened when they discovered the facility had no mental health program, despite the tremendous need and requests by physicians.

Like true heroes, Spiezle and Goldy accepted the challenge to start that program. They chose to support the 46,000 children in the area who suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychoses, substance abuse, autism and ADHD.

In 2016, they launched Kids’ Minds Matter (KMM). Initially, they raised money and awareness by speaking three times per week to Rotary and Lions clubs that sometimes had six people in attendance. When the couple launched plans for a gala, friends called the Naples newcomers “over-ambitious.”

Goldy responded, “You don’t know my husband.”

“I'm a driven guy. If I make my mind up to get something done, somehow it happens,” Spiezle says.

Scott Spiezle with granddaughter, Aubrey

KMM’s early fundraising effort for the Lee Health Foundation evolved into the Golisano Children’s Hospital pediatric mental health program, staffed by 29 full-time professionals. KMM became a movement, raising $10 million for a new autism testing center, scholarships, and clinics throughout the region that work with established mental health resources, including NAMI and the David Lawrence Center.

“This elephant cannot be taken down by any one of us. With suicide the second leading cause of death in 10- to 34-year-olds and a state with one of the lowest amounts of per capita mental health spending, it’s just too big. We have a mental health epidemic, and it has to stop,” Spiezle says.

Philanthropy alone is not enough.

Spiezle says legislative changes are necessary, and he urges supporters to contact state representatives for more Medicaid reimbursement for mental health treatment.

Without access to resources, Spiezle’s family could have had a different outcome.

“There is no question, my daughter would not be here with us today,” says Spiezle. He is happy to report she is healthy and thriving with a career and family.

He shares his personal story to illustrate that people are not alone. Every speaking engagement prompts audience members to step forward, share a hug and recount their stories.

One night, two food servers tearfully approached to tell him about their child, who had slipped through the cracks and never received the necessary care. They contributed five dollars. 

“They are the ones we are fighting for,” Spiezle says. “Every child deserves quality mental health care and a productive life.”

 
 

LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE NEXTGEN SPEAKER SERIES

Presence

Joel Anderson, President & CEO of Five Below, shares a lesson from the last year of the pandemic. As we think about remote work, determine when your presence will make a difference. Watch the video to learn how his team is deciphering this from simply being present.

 

Continue learning from world-renowned entrepreneurs and CEOs with the NextGen Speaker Series. Register now for the March 26 interactive virtual event with Bill Sanford, the CEO who turned STERIS Corporation into a multibillion-dollar organization: www.nextgennaples.com/subscribe

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TO YOUR HEALTH

Sleep Meditation

Ways to achieve healthy sleep, something we need now more than ever

Courtesy of Cure.fit

These days, our minds are a mess of turbulent thoughts. With so many unprecedented issues, our minds and bodies haven’t been able to keep up. That affects our ability to get a good night’s sleep, which is proven to be important for our physical health, mental well-being and the effective functioning of our immune system.

One way to improve sleep is through sleep meditation, simply put as practicing mindfulness or meditation techniques just before sleep or anytime you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep. Studies show that mindfulness and meditation in preparation for sleep can help calm the mind and relax the body, allowing for improved sleep quality and duration.

 

How it helps

At night, when all other activities have stopped, our mind starts racing. Meditation and mindfulness help us rest our heads and relax our bodies. It also reduces amygdala reactivity —the part of the brain associated with stress response — and lowers our heart rate, encouraging us to breathe slower, thereby promoting sleep.

 

Who benefits?

Anyone with sleep issues or trouble ‘tuning out’ can try sleep meditation. More than half of us are sleep deprived and don’t know it. Some people have trouble falling asleep; others have restless sleep patterns or wake constantly through the night. Many people use electronics too close to bedtime, suppressing the release of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) and delaying sleep.

Meditation can be an easy, natural and safe medication-free sleep aid.

Though best practiced just before falling asleep and in a calming environment, these techniques can also be practiced throughout the day to lower stress and ultimately sleep better at night.

Here are four meditation techniques that can help you relax and nod off. 

Music

The easiest and most enjoyable form of sleep meditation is listening to music. Music creates biological changes, like slowing your heart rate and breathing, lowering your blood pressure and also triggering muscle relaxation — everything needed to prepare your body for slumber. 

Familiar songs work well, preferably music that’s easy to listen to, like classical, jazz or even meditation music and nature sounds.

Adults who listen to even 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed can fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake up less during the night.

Body scan

This is a type of meditation in which you focus on the sensations of the different parts of your body from your toes to your head. The method is mainly used to manage pain and anxiety, but it’s also effective in treating insomnia.

 

Gratitude meditation

This type of meditation causes you to reflect on the people and things you are grateful for. A study showed that two weeks of gratitude intervention resulted in greater sleep quality and sleep duration among participants. It also showed less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction.

As a part of your bedtime routine, you can think about any three things that happened during the day that you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as a conversation with a loved one, a task completed or a successful cooking experiment.

 

Visualization

This involves using your mind and imagination to “see” your goal or a certain event/outcome. As a sleeping aid, visualization expands your ability to focus on calming and comforting images, instead of letting your mind think about stressful things.

You can imagine yourself in a place you generally feel safe and relaxed, such as the beach, mountains or your grandparents’ home. Focus on the details, like the colors around you, the other people/animals present, the weather and the sounds. Try these techniques and see what works best for you. 

Other forms of meditation that can be used as sleep aids include abdominal breathing, counting down and mindful meditation.

Sleep meditation techniques are simple to introduce into your daily routine and, over time, they may help you fall asleep faster and get quality sleep through the night.

 

Cure.fit is an integrative health app that includes all facets of a healthy lifestyle on one platform. It has holistic health offerings across physical fitness and workouts, healthy food and mental well-being. For more information, visit www.curefit.com. 

 

ENTERTAINMENT SPOTLIGHT

Groundbreaking Women

WGCU programs reveal their remarkable lives

In celebration of Women’s History Month, local public media source WGCU is offering programs that celebrate the creativity, activism, bravery and talent of women throughout the month of March on three of its channels. Here’s what’s on tap this week.

 

Wednesday, March 17 at 9 p.m. (WGCU Encore)

American Masters: Hedy Lamarr

Discover the story of the most beautiful woman in the world, who was also an ingenious inventor. Her pioneering work helped revolutionize modern communication, including Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.

 

Thursday, March 18 at 8 p.m. (WGCU PBS)

Untold Stories: Mina Miller Edison, the Wizard’s Wife

Perhaps best known as the wife of Thomas Edison, Mina Miller Edison was a remarkable woman in her own right who left an indelible mark on the world —

especially on the Edisons’ winter home in Fort Myers. Like the private and public gardens that Mina sowed and tended so dearly, her work in Fort Myers planted the seeds for growth, change and beautification that can still be seen today.

 

Sunday, March 21 at 8 p.m. (WGCU Encore)

Great Performances: Ann

Enjoy a powerful and revealing look at legendary, larger-than-life Texas governor Ann Richards, who enriched the lives of her followers, friends and family, in this critically acclaimed play written by and starring Emmy Award-winner Holland Taylor.

Sunday, March 21 at 10 p.m. (WGCU Encore)

Great Performances: Gloria, A Life

Experience a unique interpretation of feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s life told by an all-female cast starring Emmy Award-winner Christine Lahti and directed Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus.

Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

Reel South: Ingrid

A successful fashion designer who gave up her big-city career, Ingrid Gipson discovered a reclusive life of solitude and unhindered creativity in Arkansas’ rural Ouachita Mountains. As if through poetry, she opens up her world again to those of us willing to listen.

Wednesday, March 24 at 7 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

Penny: Champion of the Marginalized

This is a multidimensional portrait of Penny Cooper, a celebrated criminal defense attorney, art collector, supporter of female artists, and protector of the underdog. Cooper’s life brims with stories mirroring the profound changes in our country from the 1940s to the present. In this revealing documentary, Cooper proves herself quite the raconteur with seemingly unlimited anecdotes. Her stories are engaging; sometimes funny, and sometimes distressing. The film is a collection of these moments as told by Cooper and the people who have been impacted by her dynamic spirit.

 

Wednesday, March 24 at 10:30 p.m. (WGCU Encore)

Erma Bombeck: Legacy of Laughter

Examine the extraordinary life and career of beloved American humorist Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), whose honest tales of domestic life gave voice to millions of homemakers. Archival photographs, video clips and personal memorabilia trace Bombeck’s life, from her childhood during the Great Depression to her work as a women’s rights activist.

 

Most programs re-air during the month. For times and subsequent broadcasts, go

to wgcu.org/tvschedules.

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LOCAL LIFELINE

Igniting Advocacy: One Mother’s Story

NAMI Collier helped my son find a way to live in the real world

By Patty DeMauro

Patty DeMauro, Feb. 2021

 

When my son, now 37 years old, was first diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 20, I realized I didn’t know how to spell schizophrenia. How could I help him if I couldn’t even locate the word on the internet? Little did I know that this would be the first of many times I would feel in the dark and helpless.

My battle for my son began before he was born. The doctor had told me he would be a stillbirth, but he had other plans. Born three months premature and weighing only a pound and a half, he surprised everyone with his loud cries. I vowed to protect my only son no matter what it took.

Throughout his school years, he had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. With intermittent periods of sobriety, he excelled in school. But it was his strength to survive that would get him through the mental health diagnosis that would change his life and the lives of our entire family. 

Doctors told me that my son would never recover. The best we could hope for was a quiet institution in which he would be comfortable. But I railed against these predictions. I knew my son. I knew his sharp mind, his wit and his limitless, untapped potential. But 20 years ago, there was no roadmap for help. I was continually confronted with the confusion and contradictions that engulfed the mental health care system.

One time, my son was released from a local mental hospital with nothing other than a bus ticket. He ended up on the beach, disoriented and ill, where he was picked up by the police and put in a group home. Stories like these for me and other families dealing with mental illness are commonplace.

 

Another time, he went missing. After an exhaustive search and distraught beyond belief, I drove to NAMI Collier County, where Kathryn Hunter (the late director) greeted me with open arms. That afternoon, Hunter cleared her schedule, and we talked until I was able to see a ray of hope. She spearheaded the turning point in my son’s recovery. Step by step, she guided me through the maze of hospitals, medications and treatment options, one advocate, one psychiatrist, one politician, one doctor and one counselor at a time.

 

My son went through several more hospitalizations, all with unsuccessful results. We were left with no alternative than to petition the state mental hospital for admission. My son was very sick by this point, and time was of the essence. With Hunter’s help, I galvanized every skill I had. I wrote to our governor, senators and a variety of legislators concerning state hospitals’ policies and admission procedures.

 

I truly believe that God directed my path to NAMI and to Kathryn Hunter that bleak day when I had no idea if my son was dead or alive. If it weren’t for NAMI, we would never have survived the ordeal that is mental illness.

Today, my son is well and happy. He has been medication compliant for the past five years, the longest since his initial diagnosis. He lives on his own with his emotional support dog, and he helps me with the technology portion of my business and is always there to lend a hand.

Finding the right medication to treat schizophrenia isn’t the hardest part. Staying on the medication and finding a way to live in the real world is. That’s where NAMI comes in.

I never thought that the very thing I needed to help my son would be given to me by NAMI Collier County. It ignited the spark that would change our lives.

 

Patty DeMauro, a supporter of NAMI Collier County, is the owner of Patty’s Apparel in Naples.

ENTERTAINMENT SPOTLIGHT: PODCAST

Grape Minds Podcast

Julie Glenn and Gina Birch celebrate “The Women of Wine”

In honor of Women’s History Month, podcasters Julie Glenn and Gina Birch are talking to some of the “wonder women of wine,” as Glenn says.

“We start with a woman who captured our palates with her rosé long before we met her, and she captured our hearts.”

Glenn is talking about Nicole Rolet, principal — and what she calls “senior plate-spinner” — of Chene Bleu in La Verrière, France.

Glenn and Birch talk about the Rolet family’s origins, the vineyard’s philosophy of wine and winemaking and the bright future she sees for women in the industry.

Upcoming Podcasts

Upcoming podcasts will feature:

 

Chelsea Barrett is the daughter of winemaker Bo Barrett, who might be familiar to those who saw the movie “Bottle Shock,” or heard the story of the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris (Judgment of Paris (wine) - Wikipedia), when Barrett’s California wine from Chateau Montelena beat French vintners in a competition that put California wines on the map.

Go to Grape Minds (podbean.com to listen to the informative and entertaining Grape Minds podcasts created by Glenn and Birch right here in Southwest Florida.

If You Go

What: Unmasking the Epidemic, a virtual community event

When: 7-8 p.m. Thursday, March 18, 2021 (Virtual doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Cost: Free

Emcee: NBC-2 anchor Kellie Burns

Keynote: Brad Hunstable, founder of Hayden’s Corner, named for his almost
13-year-old son who died by suicide last year

To Register: https://kidsmindsmatter.com/event/unmasking/

Questions: Email info@kidsmindsmatter.com

The mission of NAMI Collier County is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by serious mental illnesses through education, support and advocacy. All programs are free, financed through grants and philanthropy. For more information about the programs and support offered by NAMI Collier County, visit https://www.namicollier.org/.

DID YOU HEAR? TIP FROM THE EXPERT

Can a simple hearing screening be your
first step to a happier healthier life?

Timothy J. Roupas, Doctor of Audiology

According to many recent studies, the answer is a solid “yes.”

 

Hearing loss affects a variety of physical, emotional and mental health issues. Above and beyond the impact on social interaction, even mild hearing loss can as much as double your risk of dementia. As a licensed Audiologist and with 30 years of experience serving our community in Naples, Dr. Timothy J. Roupas strongly encourages you to get a hearing screening to see if you might benefit from hearing devices.

 

Want a simple way to get immediate results? Click below to take our in-depth online screener.

Did you know people with hearing loss experience increased social withdrawal and isolation, which are factors that may cause depression? Thirty percent of individuals with untreated hearing loss report feeling depressed, compared with 22 percent of those who treat their impairment with hearing aids.

*The Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss in Older Persons, The National Council on the Aging 1999

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