Archive for mental illness

Laugh More with Team Giggle On 2013!


Yes, you!

Team Giggle On is baaaaaaack!

Join me on Sunday, October 27, 2013 and get your Giggle On for the Mental Health Association of Delaware!

My mission is laughter and laughter ALWAYS finds a way!

By the way, today, October 10, 2013, is World Mental Health Day, and it is the perfect time to raise awareness about mental health.

Why I Support MHA’s E-Racing the Blues event

I support the MHA because I believe in the importance of raising awareness about depression, mental illness and suicide. Every life matters. Everyone deserves the chance to live and to live well.

I am also very thankful for the opportunity to attend a recent ASIST suicide prevention training provided by the MHA. Within 48 hours of the training, I was using what I learned on a Skype call with someone in need of help. Thanks MHA, specifically: Laurie, Ali, Jennifer, Emily, Jim & Roberta!

I understand the important exercise plays in mental health from my own personal experience and from medical research. Walking, running, swimming, weight lifting, yoga and laughter have a real and significant positive impact on mood.

  • How many times have you felt better after a great workout?
  • How does your mood change with or without exercise?
  • Are you looking for ways to boost your endorphins and lower your cortisol naturally?
  • Want more energy? Better sleep?

I am also very thankful to the MHA for for the opportunity to attend a recent ASIST suicide prevention training class. Within 48 hours of the training, I was using what I learned on a Skype call with someone in need of help. Thanks MHA, specifically: Laurie, Ali, Jennifer, Emily, Jim & Roberta!

Get your Exercise On!

Reference: Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity, Mayo Clinic

Let’s show Wilmington how Team Giggle On rocks the E-Racing the Blues event!

Register for the Team

Click right here to be redirected to our team sign up page.

Look for this drop-down box at the bottom of the registration page:TeamName-GiggleOn



 Drop that baby down and choose Giggle On. Then click the Continue button to proceed with your registration. The first 30 registered team members will be given a “Stress Less, Laugh More” shirt.stress-less-t-shirt

So, get to clickin’ and register!

If you are unable to participate in the 5K walk/run or the 10K, but would like to make a donation to support the Mental Health Association, please click here and unload the contents of your bank account. *giggle* We appreciate anything you can do!

Date & Time

This year I’ll be leading the 5K Laughter Warm-Up at 9:00 am. You read that right: I will be conducting a 10-minute laughter warm-up session that will prepare 5K participants’ bodies and minds for the race while teaching them how to laugh unconditionally in order to improve their mental, physical and emotional health.

Team Giggle On 2013 will hit Dravo Plaza on the Wilmington Riverfront this October 27th at 8:30 am and WE NEED YOU to make this event memorable whether you run/walk or not! Come out and help me show the participants how to warm up by getting their Giggle On!

We need YOU to help E-Race the Blues!


This year’s team is dedicated to anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide especially all my SOS friends (SOS is an acronym for Survivor of Suicide), people like Kelli, Jayla, Annie, Shawn, Dawn, Patti, Kim, Erica, Dempsey and especially friends and family of the Two Jims,  James Karl Thompson & Jim Ed Sims.

Directions to Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE

Dravo Plaza is near Frawley Stadium where the Blue Rocks play.  Get directions here.


In previous years, we wore silly hats and clown noses to rev up the fun and playfulness. If you have gear from prior years, by all means wear it, but don’t feel compelled. We’ll love you, take you and laugh with you no matter what you wear. Just PLEASE make sure you come clothed. Nobody but your momma wants to see your birthday suit. Capiche?

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The Ultimate Laughter Training Summer Internship

Sara WoodwardLearning to get my Giggle On

by Sara Woodward, guest blogger, Laughter and Wellness Assistant at Giggle On

I had no idea what I was getting into when Christa Scalies, a family friend, offered me a paid summer internship at her start-up, Giggle On. I had visited her website and already liked the her concept of helping people “enjoy life, laugh and have fun,” but that was all I knew.

Coming into this position, I thought my job would mostly be running errands and doing clerical work – general boring stuff. Truthfully I was happy for a way to keep busy and earn some cash over the summer; so boring was fine. But I realized a few hours into the job that I was going to get paid to learn, laugh and have fun.

Can you say ‘dream paid college internship’?

It All Started with a Marshmallow Launcher Fight

A few days into my internship as a “Laughter and Wellness Assistant,” Christa tossed a marshmallow launcher and a bag of mini marshmallows onto my desk. Startled, I looked up to see my “mature” boss (twice my age) crouched behind her desk and hastily loading her own marshmallow launcher like a 7 year old boy on a combat mission at day camp. With a maniacal grin on her face, she started to load her ammo into the plastic tube. Quickly getting over my shock, I began ruthlessly bombarding her with mini marshmallows.  As I ducked behind my desk to reload and laugh, I realized I landed a pretty awesome gig. In case you’re wondering, I was victorious in the battle! Ha Haa!

Serious Business of Laughter

Though some of my job was general office work, it was so much more than that. I learned about the effects stress, depression and anxiety have on a person’s mental state and their body. When I started working for Christa, I didn’t fully understand the connection between laughter and depression. I also did not grasp the significance of Christa’s mission and what she was trying to accomplish.

Over the course of my time at “Giggle On Headquarters,” as Christa calls it, I assisted with three workshops: Stress Less, Laugh More for a staff meeting at a local nonprofit, Make a Joyful Noise for a group of homeless people and elderly, and a Laughter Yoga session for people with HIV/AIDS. Helping these stressed, hopeless, and depressed people to laugh and smile was a heartwarming experience. Christa truly has a gift helping people smile and laugh and I am inspired by her charitable works. These workshops, particularly the last one where I led an exercise, “When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Laughter Lemonade,” also helped me crack open my shy shell!

Suicide Sucks

Click image to enlarge

Getting Paid to Be Creative

Assisting with the workshops was great, but the creative work I did was most exciting. Though I concentrated in visual arts in high school, I have not taken any art classes in college.

So I was ecstatic about continuing my art and using it for a higher purpose – not to mention getting paid for it! I am most proud of the book art sculpture I created for the cover of the e-book, see image to the right.

Collaborating with a digital artist to turn my 3D piece into the cover art was quite exciting as well.

I also had a lot fun creating graphics for the website (never imagined I would Photoshop a saint holding kazoos!). I can’t wait to tell all my friends who went off to art schools that I’m already a commissioned artist! Scroll to the bottom of this post for a sample of my work.

The Serious Business of Laughter and Mental Health

Between all the fun and games of the artwork and marshmallow fights, I did some serious learning about:

  • Business Communication 
  • Market Research
  • Utilizing Social Media for Advocacy
  • Positive Psychology
  • Benefits of Laughter  
  • Team Building
  • Stress Reduction
  • Mental Health, specifically Suicide Prevention, Depression and Stress

I am so grateful for the new knowledge and skills I gained the last few months. The business skills and success tips will definitely help me in the future, but everything else will help me more immediately.

When I return to college, I will be a Resident Assistant. My responsibility is to make sure the 30  students on my dorm floor are handling college life well, meaning they are mentally and physically sound. Because of my work at Giggle On, I now have a much better grasp of the mental issues my residents will face, like stress, anxiety, and depression. Even better, I can now use laughter to improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.

From just two months working here, I’ve learned the importance and power of laughter. I have always been a pretty happy person, but now I know how to truly get my Giggle On®.

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Walking for MHA, a personal story

A message to Team Giggle On participants and supporters:

With all the excitement and fun planned for Sunday (wait until you see all the clown noses), I want to take a few moments to share the serious and personal side of why I plan to walk for the Mental Health Association this Sunday.

This event is more than clown noses, kazoos, bubbles and raffle prizes.

E-Racing the Blues© is about encouraging people to exercise to improve their mental health, build self-esteem and improve the overall quality of their lives.

I am on a crusade to raise awareness, build community relationships and save lives. Please join me!

The Relationship between Exercise and Depression

Aside from honoring the life of my friend, Jim, who died by suicide, I walk because physical activities like walking, running, swimming and yoga have a real and significant effect on:

  • reducing stress
  • easing symptoms of depression
  • improving disturbed sleep patterns
  • controlling weight
  • improving mood

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can seriously impact an individual’s everyday life and well-being (I know this from first-hand experience).

Mental illness affects families and relationships, overall productivity at home and at work, and impacts our country’s increasing health care costs.  And mental illness, most seriously, is a common factor in relation to suicide.

A new study reported in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine concluded that the individuals who participated in group or individual exercise routines did as well on questionnaires of depression symptoms as those who were treated with antidepressant drugs.  Source: MHA

Brandywine Park

Regular exercise has been a key component to the management of my depression because it helps me cope with life’s challenges. I walk in Brandywine Park every morning with my dog, Rosie, practice yoga (Hatha and Laughter) and weight train at Fit Fitness. I no longer have a need for anti-depressant medication.

Life is good!

E-Racing the Blues

Your Participation Helps. Thank You!

There is still time to join the team and make a financial contribution. Please visit the Team Giggle On page to contribute. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for the MHA. To date we’ve collected $2,950.

With your help the funds raised through the 7th Annual E-Racing the Blues© 5k Run/Walk and 10k Run support the following MHA programs:

  • Education & Prevention Activities, Information & Referral Services, and Depression Screenings — serving thousands of Delawareans in the community, at work, and at school.
  • Statewide Support Groups — serving hundreds of people experiencing depression or anxiety disorders, loss of a loved one to violence or suicide*, and to parents whose children suffer from a mental illness.    *Note: The Support Group for Survivors of Suicide Loss co-facilitated by myself and Kelli Karlton is not funded by or affiliated with MHA. We are currently looking for financial sponsors to help pay for rental space.
  • Delaware’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Plan and Suicide Coalition – co-sponsor with the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
  • Child Mental Health Matters in Delaware – statewide collaboration with community agencies and school districts to provide comprehensive programming and services focusing on enhanced access to care and educational resources for children, teachers, and parents.
  • Active Minds Program – mental health advocacy and awareness campus organization
  • Educational Conferences for Medical and Mental Health Professionals and the Public – People of Color Mental Health Conferences, Suicide Prevention Conference, May is Mental Health Month events, and Town Hall seminars.
  • Advocacy and Awareness Campaigns – targeting state legislators and business leaders.

I look forward to seeing the walkers, runners and Giggle Ambassadors this Sunday.

Thanks again to all the financial donors who contributed to the team but won’t be able to make it out. I am deeply honored and thankful for your support.

Remember: Don’t Give Up! (on yourself, your dreams or on your life).

Instead…Giggle On..or should I say, Walk On, Bike On, Swim On, Yoga On!

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions!


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Team Giggle On E-Races the Blues

9 Tips to Boost Your Mood

Grieve, Give, Giggle

Why I Love Wilmington Park

When a loss becomes a gain

Walk to beat depression and suicide

Wilmington’s Out of the Darkness Walk, photo essay

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Survivor Q & A: Erica Volkman

Moving Through Grief and back into the Giggle

Earlier this year I posted some questions to my fellow survivors of suicide in an effort to better understand the grieving process and to gain tips and insight about moving through grief and hopefully, back into the Giggle.

No one dodges loss in life completely but we can overcome the pain and learn to embrace the beauty life has to offer us.

Just last night at our SOS (survivors of suicide loss meeting at Supporting Kidds), we took time to share the happy and fun memories of our loved ones – special thanks to “D” for the 7 fishes story, to “K” and “P” for the hair story, “P” for the toilet paper story and “S” for the singing video!

From Surviving to Thriving

In all honesty, I am not a big fan of the word “survivor”. Jim’s death was a transformational event in my life, yes, but I do not define myself by that loss.  I prefer to think of myself now as a “thriver” and so does my friend, Kelli Karlton. The motto of our SOS group is “From Surviving to Thriving”!

E-Race the Stigma

As much as I have moved on from the trauma of his suicide, it is still very important to me to discuss topics relating to mental illness and suicide and support people in need. I can’t erase mental illness from the planet but I believe I have the power to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

If you would like to help me, please join me on October 25th for the E-Racing the Blues walk or make a donation to Team Giggle On.

Meet Erica

The 4th part of my Survivor Q & A Session is with my new friend, Erica Volkman (pictured left). Erica lost her best friend who was like a brother, Anthony “Anth” Duffie to suicide on August 31, 2007.

Quote from the Anthony Duffie Memorial site:

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight. – Quote by Kahlil Gibran

My thanks goes to Erica for opening her heart and sharing her experience as a suicide survivor. Sharing helps us heal. Communication raises awareness.

Q & A with Erica Volkman

How was grieving the loss of your loved one by suicide different (if at all) from the loss of another loved one who did not die by suicide?

I have been fortunate that I have not lost anyone besides Anth, who is super close to me and in my day to day life.

I do believe though that the main difference would be guilt. Feeling like you should have been able to do something, or you should have known that your loved one was SO unhappy, etc.

In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, what 3 Things helped you learn to enjoy life and laugh again…aka getting your Giggle back? (could be a person, movie, habit, book, yoga, blog, pastor, support group – anything).

Seeing a Therapist and taking her advice. (Luckily I already had one, and she knew a great deal about Anth, so she knew how horrifying the whole experience was for me and what I was going to face, before I even did.)

Becoming more selfish. It sounds bad, but learning to pay attention to my needs and set boundaries instead of catering to everyone else.

Building Positives in my life. This kind of goes with #2. Once I was up for it I planned trips, dinner dates,  movies, started projects, etc.

Did you feel guilt for laughing again and enjoying life after your loved one’s death? Meaning, did you feel you were not honoring their memory because you moved past intense grief?

I understand the question and why someone could feel this way but I really have never felt bad for being happy after Anth’s death. I figure if he is watching me, it would just make him hurt, to see me hurt. Plus, he is the one who bailed. I am the one who should be pissed. ;)

For those of you past the 12 month mark of a loved one’s suicide, what advice would you give to someone who has recently lost someone to suicide?

I would say that I know how absolutely horrifying the experience is, and it might feel like you are never going to get through it, but you will, and on your own time. There is not a right amount of time to grieve, every one is different. You would never stop hurting over the loss of your loved one, but it won’t always be so crippling.

What type of resources do you feel survivors of suicide need the most?

The need to talk to other survivors is strong. People that have not lost a loved one to suicide might not understand some of the questions you maybe asking yourself or the different feelings you might be having. It is priceless having someone who you can relate to.

Erica is working on a few web sites related to loss and and suicide survivor’s.  Good luck with your projects Erica and Giggle On! sista.

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Related posts:

Survivor  Q & A: Annie DiMattia

Survivor Q & A: Jayla Boire

Survivor Q & A: Kelli Karlton

Grieve, Give, Giggle

Suicide Survivor’s Guilt

How to Help Suicidal People

25 Tips for Survivor’s of Suicide

Remembering Them

When a loss becomes a gain

Walk to beat depression and suicide

Wilmington’s Out of the Darkness Walk, photo essay

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Team Giggle On™ E-Races the Blues

Team Giggle On™ is back!

Please join Team Giggle On™ Sunday, October 25, 2009 for the E-Racing the Blues Event benefiting the Mental Health Association in Delaware.

Update: November 13, 2009. The Team Captains Luncheon was help today and thanks to the 74 registered participants on our team we were recognized by E-Racing the Blues Chairwoman Jane Castle for having the largest team in the 2009. We also were congratulated for raising over $3,000 for the organization. Thank you to everyone who joined us in spreading the laughter and raising awareness.

We had so much fun (even me in my wheelchair). Enjoy the photos below.

Top 10 Reasons to Join Team Giggle On™:

    1. Eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide is a great cause!
    2. Walking & exercise help to relieve symptoms of depression, reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, release tension in muscles and positively affects the same neurotransmitters that antidepressant medications target.
    3. Because you believe in the healing power of laughter and playfulness and want to help me get out “The Giggle“.
    4. There will be Laughter Yoga.
    5. Because ya’ll keep askin’ me how you can contribute to the Giggle On mission – this is your chance.
    6. I am giving away clown noses, kazoos and tiny bubbles.

cropped bug face

  1. Because I can NOT eliminate CGDS (Chronic Giggle Deficiency Syndrome) alone. Well…you shouldn’t LET me.
  2. You’ll hav e a chance to win the Giggle On™ Basket of Playfulness
  3. It’s going to be fun! :-)
  4. We are raffling off some great fitness gifts (see below for details)!

Let’s get our Giggle On™ together this October 25th.

Sign up today folks – I NEED YOU!

Register HERE

E-Racing the Blues

Mental Health Statistics

According to the NIMH, “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.”

  • In 2008, 90 Delawareans died by suicide. Source: Suicide Survivors Link
  • Over 33,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
  • 90% of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • Every day, approximately 90 Americans take their own life, and 2,300 more attempt to do so.
  • Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.  Source: AFSP

Depression is treatable! Don’t suffer in silence. Help is available.



Kelli Karlton and Christa ScaliesYour Team Captains

Team Giggle On is led by  Christa Scalies and Kelli Pedrick Karlton.

Kelli walks in memory of her dad, John Pedrick and I walk in memory of Jim Thompson. Both of these men died by suicide and we miss them a lot.

Kelli and also I  co-facilitate a peer-to-peer support group for Survivors of Suicide Loss twice a month in Hockessin, Delaware. If you have a question about the group, please contact Kelli or email me at christa (at) giggleon (dot) com.

Register HERE to join the grooviest and most giggly team the Mental Health Association in Delaware has EVER seen  – Giggle On!

If you cannot participate, make a donation, p-u-lease. You’ll earn Giggle Karma points, I promise! Kelli and I understand times are tight financially, really we do, but your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more would help a lot. Thank you. :-)

Raffle Items

Please bring your checkbook or cash for the great Giggle On raffle. Tickets will be sold for $2 a piece or 3 for $5. You’ll have the chance to win the following items donated by Delaware businesses:


One lucky Giggle On Team member will win the Giggle On basket of Playfulness. All you need to do is enter your name in a drawing before the walk and I’ll draw the name of the lucky winner after we complete the 5K.

Directions to Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE

Dravo Plaza is near Frawley Stadium where the Blue Rocks play. Use this link for directions


The event is held rain or shine so please dress appropriately.

If you have a Giggle On shirt, hat or sweatshirt, please wear it to show support for the team. Proceeds from the sale of Giggle On items are donated to charity. To purchase, visit the Giggle On Store at Café Press or see the fun girlie items at


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Related posts:

One Life Lost and One Life Saved

Christa’s Story from the News Journal

Walk to Beat Depression and Suicide

Have Fun: Tips to bring playfulness into your life

Bob Downing: Giggle On Spotlight

Wilmington’s Out of the Darkness Walk, photo essay

Reflections on World Suicide Prevention Day

Walking for MS, Walking for Kathy

Survivor Q & A: Kelli Karlton

Is it Depression or lost Mojo?


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