Daily Archives: January 25, 2016

Best Friends

It is impossible for me to have a discussion about my best friends without mentioning the shoelaces. Anyone who went to high school with me probably has memory of this. There were seven of us guys; we all had a black shoelace given to us as we entered the group, a sort of symbol of […]

So I am Confused Today

I have been thinking it was Tuesday ever since my youngest daughter came home.  I was getting ready to tell her to get ready for piano lessons when she asked me what was I doing? I said “Waiting to take you to piano.”  She just looked at me with her head tilted.  Then I realized it was Monday.  So that was embarrassing.

Got my first assignment for Nonfiction class and have to write a story about “home”.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do   I so far have three ideas floating around in my head and need to nail one of them down.  I think any one of them would make for a good essay.  But we will see.

Constant battle again to stay awake. I got up and got out early to get my oil changed and buy groceries, then came home and slept about a hour and a half.  I’ve felt halfway decent during the weekend and was hoping I was on the upswing.  Maybe later I will do better.

We’re having a bit of a revival in our church among the young people.  Several high schoolers were baptized last night, some of them my middle daughter’s friends.  I’m so glad to see God moving among the y9ung people.  They need so much help coping with what life is throwing at them nowadays.

 


How ECT works by Natasha Tracy

How Does Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Work?

In the book I’m writing on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) I’ve had to address the question as to how ECT works. However, in spite of the fact that ECT has been in use since the 1930s we really don’t know how ECT works.

But recently we may have gotten a bit closer to figuring it out.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor
One of the things we have noted is that people who undergo ECT have measurably increased levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is critical in supporting healthy cells and cell growth in the brain. This increase in BDNF is something we’ve noticed when people take antidepressants as well. When you think about it, it makes sense that this would be part of why ECT and other therapies work as it combats the shrinking of the brain seen in depression and other mental illnesses.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) “Reboots” the Brain
And one of the things I have said is that electroconvulsive therapy does not “reboot” the brain. There is just nothing similar to this analogy that we can point to with regards to ECT. Until now, that is.

Recent research shows that functional connectivity in areas of the brain may be up-regulated in people with depression. In other words, there are areas of the brain with too much connectivity. This theory is known as the “hyperconnectivity hypothesis.”
How Does ECT Work in the Brain

This seems counter intuitive when you think of depression but I suppose it’s like anything else, too much of anything can be a bad thing, especially in the brain.
Recently a study was done where functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measured the connectivity in areas of the brain. And specifically around the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortical region it was found ECT decreased the functional connectivity, and this decrease in functional connectivity seemed to correlate with positive results from the ECT on depressive symptoms.
Thus ECT was found to change the functional architecture of the brain in a way that helped with depression.
Note that the study size was extremely small but that this is typical for studies using technology like fMRIs. Thus, we cannot say this study proves anything but we can say it leads us in a new, and perhaps promising, direction in terms of discovering how ECT works.
Please see Electroconvulsive therapy reduces frontal cortical connectivity in severe depressive disorder for all the details.
Why Does it Matter How ECT Works?
Well, on the one hand, it doesn’t. For the people for whom ECT has worked, how it worked doesn’t matter a lick. However, the end goal for researchers is to figure out how ECT works so that they can retain the therapeutic component of the treatment while reducing the side effects (like memory loss). Maybe this study got us one step closer.


Better

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in therapy and on meds. Going to therapy, takin’ my meds. Rescheduling therapy, adjusting my meds. Adding more therapy, adding more meds, then backing off a little on both. Though I’m still a habitual marijuana self-medicator, I’ve more or less stopped drinking over the past year. I definitely stopped that shit where I pick up a 6 pack on my way home and drink alone in my living room with my guitar before the sun even goes down. A bottle of gin in my house has a way longer shelf life these days. I been good. A model prisoner of my illness (or whatever poetics you wanna stamp onto this situation).

A week or so ago in therapy, my doctor commented on how much better I was doing. I’ve been on Depakote for like 5 months. No hair loss or anything! I’ve had some kinda funky depressions and at least one pretty awesome hypomanic episode, but overall things have been less sharp and less rough. I’ve been writing a lot. I’m working on a collection of poems and I’ve been writing some essays just for shits. I feel stupid and wordless a lot. Then I don’t. Sometimes I feel proud of myself. It’s real weird.

But my doc says I’ve been doing better. She has my chart. She’s been treating me for 8 and a half years. I told her I didn’t really believe her, but that she’s the expert. So here we are. I’m better. Yikes.

Part of me is upset by this prospect: better. It makes me wanna destroy myself a little and I certainly know how, but there’s a large part of me that feels I owe it to my psychiatrist – to all the hard work she’s done and all the shit she’s put up with from me – to stay better. Why don’t I feel beholden in the same way to myself?

Couple theories: Firstly, and most obviously, if I’m doing terribly, I probably can’t get a whole lot worse. There’s nowhere to fall from rock bottom. It’s paradoxically comforting to know there are no threads left to cradle you. You get to lie all the way down.

Secondly, I’ve had more experience with depression than…almost anything else over the past decade. I know how to navigate it. Sure, it hurts like hell, but it’s a hurt I’m used to. I can change all the dressings ‘n everything. I’ve been ill as a full time job for years and years. I’m getting fired or something. Additional metaphors relating to the unknown, etc.

But I think my biggest problem is: what now? My identity is kinda shifting away from simply Bipolar Laura to _______ Laura. Not sure how to fill in that blank. I mean, I’ll always have bipolar. I didn’t get here by magic, I worked toward this. I don’t think, though, I ever really thought concretely about what I was working toward, just that I needed to keep pushing in an upward direction. Now I have more time and energy (most days) and I don’t need to use those circumstances to patch myself up the same way. I can do things!

I told my doctor that I’ve arrived at the downside of up and she said, “Yup, that’s the downside.” She recognizes that the new imperative I’m facing to do something with my life is not an easy thing to tackle. Maybe it’s even complicated by the fact that there are like a hundred things I wanna do with my life. Basically, I’m having a Sylvia Plath problem:

tumblr_mt1afsX54X1qebh0ko1_500

The Bell Jar

‘Cept I’m starving not just because I can’t decide, I’m starving ’cause even if I do decide, I can’t rely on my own self-motivation which has been directed entirely at my mental health for so long that I don’t really know how to use it for anything else. I just haven’t really had to, and though people keep telling me to be easier on myself, I still insist that I’m awfully lazy.

So let’s not confuse “better” with “cured.” I still have to take care of my illness, but the difference is that it’s not the sole thing I have to take care of right now. I still have mood swings and panic attacks and episodes. Like, that shit’s never going away entirely. Not unless I cloister myself in completely perfect behavior and probably take some stupefying meds that I don’t want. But that’s not a life. I’ve always been scared of the future for the same reason I’m now scared of being better. I don’t know precisely how to move around in it.

That’s basically where I’m at. And don’t think that I won’t stretch my indecision and cowardice and self-doubt into months and months of soul searching or some bullshit, ’cause I definitely will. Out of fear and hesitation. I have some thinking to do. It’s probably gonna be a minute.

-LB

Tagged: bipolar disorder, booze, depression, doctor, guitar, hypomania, laziness, literature, marijuana, meds, mental health, motivation, poetry, quality of life, Sylvia Plath, therapy, treatment, wellness, writing

Better

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in therapy and on meds. Going to therapy, takin’ my meds. Rescheduling therapy, adjusting my meds. Adding more therapy, adding more meds, then backing off a little on both. Though I’m still a habitual marijuana self-medicator, I’ve more or less stopped drinking over the past year. I definitely stopped that shit where I pick up a 6 pack on my way home and drink alone in my living room with my guitar before the sun even goes down. A bottle of gin in my house has a way longer shelf life these days. I been good. A model prisoner of my illness (or whatever poetics you wanna stamp onto this situation).

A week or so ago in therapy, my doctor commented on how much better I was doing. I’ve been on Depakote for like 5 months. No hair loss or anything! I’ve had some kinda funky depressions and at least one pretty awesome hypomanic episode, but overall things have been less sharp and less rough. I’ve been writing a lot. I’m working on a collection of poems and I’ve been writing some essays just for shits. I feel stupid and wordless a lot. Then I don’t. Sometimes I feel proud of myself. It’s real weird.

But my doc says I’ve been doing better. She has my chart. She’s been treating me for 8 and a half years. I told her I didn’t really believe her, but that she’s the expert. So here we are. I’m better. Yikes.

Part of me is upset by this prospect: better. It makes me wanna destroy myself a little and I certainly know how, but there’s a large part of me that feels I owe it to my psychiatrist – to all the hard work she’s done and all the shit she’s put up with from me – to stay better. Why don’t I feel beholden in the same way to myself?

Couple theories: Firstly, and most obviously, if I’m doing terribly, I probably can’t get a whole lot worse. There’s nowhere to fall from rock bottom. It’s paradoxically comforting to know there are no threads left to cradle you. You get to lie all the way down.

Secondly, I’ve had more experience with depression than…almost anything else over the past decade. I know how to navigate it. Sure, it hurts like hell, but it’s a hurt I’m used to. I can change all the dressings ‘n everything. I’ve been ill as a full time job for years and years. I’m getting fired or something. Additional metaphors relating to the unknown, etc.

But I think my biggest problem is: what now? My identity is kinda shifting away from simply Bipolar Laura to _______ Laura. Not sure how to fill in that blank. I mean, I’ll always have bipolar. I didn’t get here by magic, I worked toward this. I don’t think, though, I ever really thought concretely about what I was working toward, just that I needed to keep pushing in an upward direction. Now I have more time and energy (most days) and I don’t need to use those circumstances to patch myself up the same way. I can do things!

I told my doctor that I’ve arrived at the downside of up and she said, “Yup, that’s the downside.” She recognizes that the new imperative I’m facing to do something with my life is not an easy thing to tackle. Maybe it’s even complicated by the fact that there are like a hundred things I wanna do with my life. Basically, I’m having a Sylvia Plath problem:

tumblr_mt1afsX54X1qebh0ko1_500

The Bell Jar

‘Cept I’m starving not just because I can’t decide, I’m starving ’cause even if I do decide, I can’t rely on my own self-motivation which has been directed entirely at my mental health for so long that I don’t really know how to use it for anything else. I just haven’t really had to, and though people keep telling me to be easier on myself, I still insist that I’m awfully lazy.

So let’s not confuse “better” with “cured.” I still have to take care of my illness, but the difference is that it’s not the sole thing I have to take care of right now. I still have mood swings and panic attacks and episodes. Like, that shit’s never going away entirely. Not unless I cloister myself in completely perfect behavior and probably take some stupefying meds that I don’t want. But that’s not a life. I’ve always been scared of the future for the same reason I’m now scared of being better. I don’t know precisely how to move around in it.

That’s basically where I’m at. And don’t think that I won’t stretch my indecision and cowardice and self-doubt into months and months of soul searching or some bullshit, ’cause I definitely will. Out of fear and hesitation. I have some thinking to do. It’s probably gonna be a minute.

-LB

Tagged: bipolar disorder, booze, depression, doctor, guitar, hypomania, laziness, literature, marijuana, meds, mental health, motivation, poetry, quality of life, Sylvia Plath, therapy, treatment, wellness, writing

Better

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in therapy and on meds. Going to therapy, takin’ my meds. Rescheduling therapy, adjusting my meds. Adding more therapy, adding more meds, then backing off a little on both. Though I’m still a habitual marijuana self-medicator, I’ve more or less stopped drinking over the past year. I definitely stopped that shit where I pick up a 6 pack on my way home and drink alone in my living room with my guitar before the sun even goes down. A bottle of gin in my house has a way longer shelf life these days. I been good. A model prisoner of my illness (or whatever poetics you wanna stamp onto this situation).

A week or so ago in therapy, my doctor commented on how much better I was doing. I’ve been on Depakote for like 5 months. No hair loss or anything! I’ve had some kinda funky depressions and at least one pretty awesome hypomanic episode, but overall things have been less sharp and less rough. I’ve been writing a lot. I’m working on a collection of poems and I’ve been writing some essays just for shits. I feel stupid and wordless a lot. Then I don’t. Sometimes I feel proud of myself. It’s real weird.

But my doc says I’ve been doing better. She has my chart. She’s been treating me for 8 and a half years. I told her I didn’t really believe her, but that she’s the expert. So here we are. I’m better. Yikes.

Part of me is upset by this prospect: better. It makes me wanna destroy myself a little and I certainly know how, but there’s a large part of me that feels I owe it to my psychiatrist – to all the hard work she’s done and all the shit she’s put up with from me – to stay better. Why don’t I feel beholden in the same way to myself?

Couple theories: Firstly, and most obviously, if I’m doing terribly, I probably can’t get a whole lot worse. There’s nowhere to fall from rock bottom. It’s paradoxically comforting to know there are no threads left to cradle you. You get to lie all the way down.

Secondly, I’ve had more experience with depression than…almost anything else over the past decade. I know how to navigate it. Sure, it hurts like hell, but it’s a hurt I’m used to. I can change all the dressings ‘n everything. I’ve been ill as a full time job for years and years. I’m getting fired or something. Additional metaphors relating to the unknown, etc.

But I think my biggest problem is: what now? My identity is kinda shifting away from simply Bipolar Laura to _______ Laura. Not sure how to fill in that blank. I mean, I’ll always have bipolar. I didn’t get here by magic, I worked toward this. I don’t think, though, I ever really thought concretely about what I was working toward, just that I needed to keep pushing in an upward direction. Now I have more time and energy (most days) and I don’t need to use those circumstances to patch myself up the same way. I can do things!

I told my doctor that I’ve arrived at the downside of up and she said, “Yup, that’s the downside.” She recognizes that the new imperative I’m facing to do something with my life is not an easy thing to tackle. Maybe it’s even complicated by the fact that there are like a hundred things I wanna do with my life. Basically, I’m having a Sylvia Plath problem:

tumblr_mt1afsX54X1qebh0ko1_500

The Bell Jar

‘Cept I’m starving not just because I can’t decide, I’m starving ’cause even if I do decide, I can’t rely on my own self-motivation which has been directed entirely at my mental health for so long that I don’t really know how to use it for anything else. I just haven’t really had to, and though people keep telling me to be easier on myself, I still insist that I’m awfully lazy.

So let’s not confuse “better” with “cured.” I still have to take care of my illness, but the difference is that it’s not the sole thing I have to take care of right now. I still have mood swings and panic attacks and episodes. Like, that shit’s never going away entirely. Not unless I cloister myself in completely perfect behavior and probably take some stupefying meds that I don’t want. But that’s not a life. I’ve always been scared of the future for the same reason I’m now scared of being better. I don’t know precisely how to move around in it.

That’s basically where I’m at. And don’t think that I won’t stretch my indecision and cowardice and self-doubt into months and months of soul searching or some bullshit, ’cause I definitely will. Out of fear and hesitation. I have some thinking to do. It’s probably gonna be a minute.

-LB

Tagged: bipolar disorder, booze, depression, doctor, guitar, hypomania, laziness, literature, marijuana, meds, mental health, motivation, poetry, quality of life, Sylvia Plath, therapy, treatment, wellness, writing

Guest Post: Behind the Smile by Patricia Grace

delmud

For those of you that have met me I’m sure you’d probably say I seem like a really happy go lucky kinda person. For those of you who haven’t met me I’m sure you’d probably say similar. After all I am a very optimistic and a positive type of person. You can probably tell this from my posts on Muddled Up Mummy. But there is more to me than meets the eye. Behind the smile there is a whole other person. A person who has been through more than most people you know. So let me introduce to you the real me.

I was born in Perth WA Australia in 1984. I was born into what seemed like the perfect little family. To onlookers it would have been. Behind closed doors though it was far from that. At first things seemed good. Well for a bit they were. Then my brother was born and soon things turned really sour in our perfect little family scenario.

First it started with my Mother. Mentally and physically abused by the person who was supposed to love her. After a couple of years my Father kidnapped my brother and I and fled to the capital of Australia, Canberra.

My Mother soon followed but he wouldn’t let her see us. She was devastated, and the fact the she already suffered from poor mental health didn’t help. As time went on my Father got worse. Hurting everyone, even his own kids. Once he put me in hospital in the Intensive Care Unit, fighting for my life. What he did to me is a bit too much to share though, but so you all know it wasn’t pretty and I was only 4. Another day he was sick of me and put me in the car boot while he was driving.

My brother and I were living in fear. Every mistake we made suffered dear consequences at the hands of our so called Father. This went on for quite some time, until authorities finally stepped in and we were saved and we went to live in foster care. We soon started seeing our Mother and that eventually became every Saturday. She was the most beautiful soul and I knew this already at such a young age. It was sad for us though as she suffered from Bipolar and really couldn’t take care of us full time. So when we did see her we really looked forward to it.

We adored her so much. In my eyes she was perfect and could do no wrong. At the time though we didn’t even know she wasn’t well mentally. Then one day just before I turned 11 she passed away from a burst aneurysm in the brain. I felt an angel had been taken from earth. I was so sad. Even angry. God had taken one of the most beautiful souls on earth and it had to be my own Mother. I took this out on my foster mum because in my eyes she would never be or replace MY MUM.

I was really down for many years. I was never the same after my Mother died. As I got older I started to date. I was in 3 serious relationships over a period a 8 years. Two of them were disasters. The other wasn’t that great either. Violence. Mental abuse. Name calling. Control. Alcoholism. Cheating. These were just some of things I had to endure. After I finally got free from this evil dating spiral I realised I‘d been dating versions of my dad and lost a lot of trust in people. After years of torment I developed a mental illness.

Although doctors believe now I had problems with mental illness from a young age as I would constantly struggle. But after all my trauma from both my childhood and from adulthood I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) I tried to take my life many times and was in hospital a lot. Slowly though I started to understand it was trauma from my past catching up to me and invading my life like a virus I couldn’t shake.

With a lot of support I got my life back on track. It took a lot of strength and plenty of counseling but I got there. But this wasn’t the end of my struggles. It turns out I had Bipolar. I was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago but they say it’s been around for awhile and just wasn’t being treated. I hated getting this label. It made me feel like I must be some kind of crazy. But you know what it really doesn’t make me crazy at all.

I can’t help that I have this. They say it was probably passed down to me because both my parents have it. But each day after finding out I would wake up, realise I have this label and it would get me down. So one day I decided to ditch the label. I decided I am who I am and not the label I’d been given. So this is me.
I’m intelligent and witty.
I’m not Bipolar.
I have a positive outlook on life even if I have some really down days.
I’m not Bipolar.
I can actually be pretty funny.
I’m not Bipolar.
I’m good looking.
I’m not Bipolar.
I’m an amazing mother.
I’m not Bipolar.
I’m a great friend, partner, sister, daughter and aunty.
I’m not Bipolar.
I am me.
I’m not Bipolar.

So although I have this label that I don’t really like I try not to focus on it. I focus on all the other things that make me me. I take my meds and get on with it. But I do have days that are really hard. I have anxiety attacks at times. Some days I don’t really feel like talking to anyone. But amongst all this I’ve decided Bipolar doesn’t define me.

It doesn’t make me a freak. It’s just something I’ve been dealt and I’ve learnt to be ok with that. So much so that I’m now sharing this. Most of my family and friends don’t even know I have this. This will probably even surprise some of them. I used to be so ashamed because of the stigma behind Mental Health that I didn’t want anybody to know. But not anymore.

There needs to be more awareness so this is my part in spreading it.

Mental Illness doesn’t define a person. But you still need to be aware it’s there. It’s a struggle and if you think those with it can just suck it up and learn to be happy. They can’t. It doesn’t work like that. So please share my story as awareness is key in removing the stigma and being more open about the struggles that some people face. Make a note to yourself that you truly don’t know someone and their struggles unless they are open about it. So spread some awareness so more people feel they can open up. Also try to be more understanding when they do because if we can all do this it just might save a life.

Behind the Smile Video

Facebook Page: Muddled Up Mummy

Muddled Up Mummy's photo.

a particularly petulant post

I feel battered by my life, my history. I used to feel rather fiercely proud that I was never one of those people who declared they’d never trust again, or love again; nowadays I feel as though I’m sitting in a particularly muddy trench, clutching an inadequate pisspot helmet and weeping. I’m not blaming anyone … Continue reading a particularly petulant post

Weird Monday!

If this doesn’t weird you out…well…I can’t help you😆

Enjoy!

If you have time, look up the interview with the animation artist, Sally Cruikshank, creator of Quasi.  It’s fascinating and, to me, inspiring.

Happy Weird Monday 😉


bibliotherapy

Stephen Fry, Ian McKellen and Melvyn Bragg share stories of how literature can help with mental health problems. Stephen Fry on depression and  bipolar disorder Fry chose two poems that have helped him in dark times: John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” and Philip Larkin’s “Aubade”. Keats’s poem was written the year after his brother … Continue reading bibliotherapy