Daily Archives: February 13, 2016

“Child abuse produces damaging effects in bipolar patients.” Yes, true, but I am healing from all that!

Duh! People with bipolar d/o who have been abused as children develop the illness more than four years earlier than the not abused ones. They are twice as likely to attempt suicide and four times as likely to have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But no suicide attempts here, not in the past, not in the present, and most definitely not in the future. I have too much to live for, my son, my family, and my friends and even my Flufffluff! However, I am certain I do suffer from PTSD. Some events throw me into a firestorm of fight or flight and I act so out of character and so extreme, that after the storm passes, I am just left shaking my head and saying “Was that really me?” No it wasn’t the true, the real me, it was me under the influence of active PTSD. I think along with healing the abandonment issues with the techniques I am using, breathing, feeling the past pain, talk therapy, I will also diminish the effect of the PTSD resulting from child abuse. All this will allow my true self, which is warm, caring, loving, understanding, and patient to emerge and stay. These healing modalities will allow the abandonment anxiety and the abuse PTSD to hopefully mostly go away.

I have a small proof that they are working, last night we went to dinner, and after we got home, I couldn’t find my phone. Now normally, I would literally have been beside myself, I mean sitting beside myself, my fight or flight in the full on position, as if a massive lion was attacking me. BUT last night, I CALMLY went downstairs and looked for my phone in my car, not there. I CALMLY called the restaurant and asked if someone had turned in a phone, no. I remained calm and remembered I had the “find your phone” App, and used it on my computer, turns out it was in my condo, the sound was turned off. And I CALMLY found it! I noticed my calmness as all this was going on, it was a new feeling, to not be in full fight or flight mode. It was a new feeling, to BE OK!

I have other small victories, I was getting very anxious about an important issue in my life, and I was going to email out of that anxiety, but I calmed myself down (breathing) and talked my self out of acting out of anxiety. Something I wouldn’t have been able to do even 2 weeks ago. 

So I am learning, I am learning. And if I can learn, so can we all!

http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/health-news/child-abuse-produces-damaging-effects-in-bipolar-patients_1854144.html

Child abuse produces damaging effects in bipolar patients

London: Childhood abuse and neglect can lead to a range of negative outcomes in patients with bipolar disorder, warns a study.
Bipolar patients with a history of childhood maltreatment developed the depressive mental condition more than four years earlier than patients with no history of maltreatment, revealed the study.

In addition, they were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide and nearly four times more likely to have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, up to 15 percent of people with bipolar disorder die by suicide, the research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, showed.

“Our findings have important implications for clinical practice, as they suggest that a history of childhood maltreatment could be used as an early indicator of high risk for poor outcomes among individuals with bipolar disorder,” said Jessica Agnew-Blais, post-doctoral researcher at King’s College London.
Bipolar patients with a history of childhood maltreatment have more severe manic, depressive and psychotic symptoms; higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and substance and alcohol misuse disorders; earlier onset of symptoms; more frequent manic and depressive episodes; and higher risk of suicide attempt, the researchers elucidated.

One in every 25 adults is diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their life. The disorder is characterised by periods or episodes of feeling very low and lethargic (depression) or of feeling very high and overactive (mania), the researchers said.
It is important to identify bipolar patients with the greatest clinical need and risk as early as possible, in order to ensure that they receive the most timely and effective interventions to reduce their risk of poor outcomes, the researchers suggested.

Maltreatment in the form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect, affects one in five children under 18 in Britain and is known to be highly prevalent in bipolar patients (up to 60 percent).


Into The Light of Day

I don’t know whether our recent spate of nice weather had anything to do with it, but I am most decidedly NOT depressed anymore. I literally felt it lift a few days ago, and suddenly life doesn’t look so grey and washed-out anymore. Colors are returning and the beautiful deep-pink roses Will bought me for Valentine’s Day are exquisitely fragrant. And even though the rain has returned, I feel like I’ve made a recovery of some sort and everything will be OK, even though it really isn’t.

Will has had some decent days, too. He throws up pretty much every morning—so reliably, in fact, that our son-in-law Clark says the vomiting is like an alarm clock that wakes him up to go to work. But the nausea doesn’t last long, and he’s been working on his models a little and getting dressed most days. More importantly, he’s comfortable and hospice is doing a bang-up job of keeping him that way. They even sent over a massage therapist the other day, which was an unexpected treat for him and he just loved it! He’s never been able to let go and allow himself to receive a massage—he’s always been the giver—but he felt so good after it was over that he asked to have her come once a week. And the world tilted on its axis a little…this is perhaps the first time in his life that he’s put his own needs ahead of others’. Bravo!!

In the meantime, my mind is still racing but more of the thoughts are getting through that narrow little door I talked about the last time I wrote. I’ve been posting a lot on my nursing website and sharing stuff on Facebook. I’ve also been dipping my toe in the political waters, although I only share with people who are of the same persuasion as I am. Yes, I really have made Facebook friends with total strangers because of politics. Too bad I’m disgusted with ALL of the front-runners…I wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump in a million years because he’s an uncouth, narcissistic troglodyte who’s going to get us into a war if he becomes President. I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either because she’s dirty and I don’t trust her as far as I could throw her. Nor would I vote for Bernie Sanders, simply because he’s a socialist and his belief system scares the beejeebus out of me.

Have I covered everything? (laughs)

Oh, yeah, I bought a Thank You card for Dr. Awesomesauce. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to see him one more time for closure purposes, but it doesn’t seem to be in the stars so I decided to send this card, which he’s going to love because it has a ginormous toucan on the front of it. He won’t forget it…or me. But the real reason for the gesture is I owe him a debt of gratitude for four years of being my greatest cheerleader and advocate, giving me lots to think about and a million and one laughs. I don’t know where I’d be right now if I had never met him, sought his advice, listened to his wisdom. He saved my life back in October 2014 when the forces of darkness were taking me down into the depths…how do you just walk away from someone like that without at least saying good-bye? Well, I don’t, hence the card.

Speaking of psychiatrists, I see my new one—who is actually a psychiatric nurse practitioner—in about three weeks. I wonder what she’ll be like, and if she’ll want to mess with my meds. I’m afraid of that. I’ve had some strange looks from medical people who get a gander at my med list and I’m sure they think I’m overmedicated. Little do they know that it takes every milligram to keep me sane!The worst thing anyone could do to me is start screwing around with my chemically altered brain. But I’ll deal with that when the time comes…no need to borrow trouble…gotta keep an open mind.

Yes, it’s good to be out of the depression and into the light of day once again. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising (albeit slowly), and winter will be over in only a few short weeks. Hopefully there won’t be any late-season snow or ice. I’ll leave that to my daughter Mandy and her hubby, who live in Vermont where it is dangerously cold and they’re expecting a huge snowstorm. No thanks…I’ve got me a nice little Caribbean island picked out where the only ice around will be in my (non-alcoholic) tropical drink.😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Into The Light of Day

I don’t know whether our recent spate of nice weather had anything to do with it, but I am most decidedly NOT depressed anymore. I literally felt it lift a few days ago, and suddenly life doesn’t look so grey and washed-out anymore. Colors are returning and the beautiful deep-pink roses Will bought me for Valentine’s Day are exquisitely fragrant. And even though the rain has returned, I feel like I’ve made a recovery of some sort and everything will be OK, even though it really isn’t.

Will has had some decent days, too. He throws up pretty much every morning—so reliably, in fact, that our son-in-law Clark says the vomiting is like an alarm clock that wakes him up to go to work. But the nausea doesn’t last long, and he’s been working on his models a little and getting dressed most days. More importantly, he’s comfortable and hospice is doing a bang-up job of keeping him that way. They even sent over a massage therapist the other day, which was an unexpected treat for him and he just loved it! He’s never been able to let go and allow himself to receive a massage—he’s always been the giver—but he felt so good after it was over that he asked to have her come once a week. And the world tilted on its axis a little…this is perhaps the first time in his life that he’s put his own needs ahead of others’. Bravo!!

In the meantime, my mind is still racing but more of the thoughts are getting through that narrow little door I talked about the last time I wrote. I’ve been posting a lot on my nursing website and sharing stuff on Facebook. I’ve also been dipping my toe in the political waters, although I only share with people who are of the same persuasion as I am. Yes, I really have made Facebook friends with total strangers because of politics. Too bad I’m disgusted with ALL of the front-runners…I wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump in a million years because he’s an uncouth, narcissistic troglodyte who’s going to get us into a war if he becomes President. I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either because she’s dirty and I don’t trust her as far as I could throw her. Nor would I vote for Bernie Sanders, simply because he’s a socialist and his belief system scares the beejeebus out of me.

Have I covered everything? (laughs)

Oh, yeah, I bought a Thank You card for Dr. Awesomesauce. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to see him one more time for closure purposes, but it doesn’t seem to be in the stars so I decided to send this card, which he’s going to love because it has a ginormous toucan on the front of it. He won’t forget it…or me. But the real reason for the gesture is I owe him a debt of gratitude for four years of being my greatest cheerleader and advocate, giving me lots to think about and a million and one laughs. I don’t know where I’d be right now if I had never met him, sought his advice, listened to his wisdom. He saved my life back in October 2014 when the forces of darkness were taking me down into the depths…how do you just walk away from someone like that without at least saying good-bye? Well, I don’t, hence the card.

Speaking of psychiatrists, I see my new one—who is actually a psychiatric nurse practitioner—in about three weeks. I wonder what she’ll be like, and if she’ll want to mess with my meds. I’m afraid of that. I’ve had some strange looks from medical people who get a gander at my med list and I’m sure they think I’m overmedicated. Little do they know that it takes every milligram to keep me sane!The worst thing anyone could do to me is start screwing around with my chemically altered brain. But I’ll deal with that when the time comes…no need to borrow trouble…gotta keep an open mind.

Yes, it’s good to be out of the depression and into the light of day once again. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising (albeit slowly), and winter will be over in only a few short weeks. Hopefully there won’t be any late-season snow or ice. I’ll leave that to my daughter Mandy and her hubby, who live in Vermont where it is dangerously cold and they’re expecting a huge snowstorm. No thanks…I’ve got me a nice little Caribbean island picked out where the only ice around will be in my (non-alcoholic) tropical drink. ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Birthday Party

I’m hiding out in my bedroom from the birthday party to type this.  They’re watching a movie and settling down for the night.  WE got five total girls to come, which is just about right; they all fit around the table for pizza and games and all have somewhere to sit/lay besides the floor in our den while watching the movie.  So far it has been very successful. I got to have a heart-to-heart talk with my older one when she came in from indoor percussion practice as she sat and ate pizza and told me percussion kid stories.  And theatre stories  and other things we’re usually too rushed to sit down and talk about.  So that was nice.

I still hurt all over from yoga.  But I got the cake made and got drinks for tonight and tomorrow morning.  Got the house cleaned up enough for company and a sign made with my daughter’s help for the mailbox for the kids who had not been here before.  SO it was a mostly successful day. I went ahead and turned in my essay for nonfiction workshop class. It is what it is and I wonder what their reactions will be to it.  All I can do is wait and see Monday.

Hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day weekend!

 


Sadly, the only thing I can do is change psychiatrists

This is a little difficult for me to write about. It’s actually hard to believe it happened, but it did. I went to see my psychiatrist on Feb. 10th. I was telling him about how much anxiety I feel about my son, his being so far away from us, whether he is ok, whether he is looking for jobs. I have anxiety problems, as you know, and sometimes I transpose those onto my son. Sometimes there really is something worrisome going on. My psychiatrist seemed to get upset himself, and said “You have no control over what he does! He could be getting hit by a car and dying right now and you have no control!” This is making me very anxious even as I write it. I was totally flabbergasted and I sort of shrieked and said “What are you saying?” I told him that is not the right thing to say to me. It was in fact a horrible thing to say to a mother who has anxiety problems focused on her son. The whole night I kept waking up with a start and sort of panicking about my son. Who says a thing like that to a mother? How did he, my psychiatrist, who is supposed to help me, say such an awful thing? I don’t understand it. What I do know is that it is time to find a new psychiatrist. I calmed myself down in his office with the breathing exercises I have learned. I did that all night long. Even the next morning, I awoke with a start, anxious about what he had said to me. Pretty preposterous, I think. This on top of him prescribing me 125 mcg of Synthroid (my endocrinologist had prescribed 88 mcg) which was too much for me, so that now I have bad osteoporosis in my spine! and now I have to take medication for that. He had also prescribed Premarin for me, luckily I refused to take that because I knew that hormones push me into mania. Pretty awful. And this man is a highly respected psychiatrist, a supposed expert in mood disorders. Where is a person to turn? Obviously, I have to find a new psychiatrist. That in itself is quite anxiety provoking. Let’s hope I find a good one. And long live breathing exercises.


Maybe My Mental Illness Does Define Me. And?

Every so often, I’ll get an email from a reader that says something like, “Sam, you can’t let your mental illness define you! You are so much more than that!”

(Has anyone else noticed how this is a distinct theme in my life? Since when does everyone know me better than I do? But OK.)

What if I told you that my mental illness does define me? And what if I also told you that I am much more than that? That these two realities are not mutually exclusive?

I know, it’s mind-blowing.

Fun fact: I have early onset bipolar disorder, along with generalized anxiety and OCPD. Which means, for most of my life (if not all of it), mental illness has shaped and impacted my lived experiences.

It is the filter through which I have seen the world. It’s as ubiquitous as the air around me.

The ways that I struggled to adapt in the face of this trauma has taught me so much about who I am and where my values lie. It has taught me resilience, persistence, and optimism; I’ve also glimpsed a kind of darkness and despair that has undoubtedly left its mark on me.

So when someone tells me that mental illness doesn’t “define” me, I’m totally perplexed.

How could something that I’ve grappled with for my entire life — something that has not only impacted and contextualized my experiences, but also helped to reveal the character and values that I embody — have no bearing on what defines me?

People will go ahead and define themselves based on the weirdest things, like their taste in movies or their passion for knitting or their sailing hobby (no judgment here, you do you). But I can’t say that my experiences with mental illness are a major part of who I am?

I think what I find particularly annoying about this suggestion is that the person who says it to me is basically saying that they are in a position to determine what does and does not define me.

And, you know, it’s almost always someone who has no experience with mental illness.

Which begs the question: Why are people of privilege always trying to overwrite the narratives of folks who are marginalized? Why do they not trust us to tell our own stories, to name our own identities?

As a transgender person with mental illness, this is especially frustrating. Everyone has an opinion on my identity and how I should (or shouldn’t) talk about it. They know my gender better than I do. They know my illness better than I do.

Apparently everyone but me is an authority on my life.

So many people of privilege have heard me articulate my truth, but instead of accepting it as I’ve written it, they insist on squeezing me into a framework that they prefer — whether it’s misgendering me or asking me to separate who I am from my disorders, the implication is that my identity does not belong to me and that my lived experiences are invalid.

The simple truth is that I do not know who I am without mental illness because I’ve never lived a life without it. 

Does that make me a “perpetual victim”? Does that mean, while I wallow in my past trauma, I’ll never be able to find happiness because I’ll be stuck in the past?

Uh, no. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

But it’s weird how many people write me to suggest that I won’t be happy if I keep talking about what I’ve been through. They seem to have missed the memo — I am happy. Being silent about what I was going through was one of the major sources of my unhappiness, actually.

Coming face-to-face with what I’ve been through, writing about it publicly, and integrating it into my identity has been super empowering for me. I’ve let go of the shame and sadness and, instead, begun to do the important work of healing by no longer attempting to outrun my past.

I’ve found community, too, in being honest about my struggles. That community has been essential in affirming my experiences and feeling whole again.

I’m not a big believer in pretending that my trauma never happened. I actually believe in confronting the scary shit so that I can begin to heal. If that makes me a victim, I don’t really care. By all means, call me a victim if it helps you sleep at night.

Honestly, though, even if I chose to label myself a victim and described my experiences that way, that would also be my prerogative. I can choose to engage with and process my suffering however I damn well please.

This obsession with telling people they shouldn’t call themselves victims or identify with their struggles — as if there’s anything wrong with affirming what we’ve been through — seems to imply that we should ignore the realities of our lives and, instead, pretend that our pain does not exist.

This whole conversation around not defining ourselves based on our struggles (or otherwise taking on a role of “victim”) looks to me like a really shitty attempt at erasing and overwriting the experiences of folks with trauma and/or disabilities.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand the impulse to tell me how I should and shouldn’t identify, but what I will say is this: Until you’ve lived my life, it’s probably safe to say that I have a much better idea of who I am than you, Reader-Of-One-Article-I-Wrote-Six-Months-Ago.

(Do you go up to someone you’ve just met and say, “I know your whole life story”? Because, if not…)

And really, let’s be honest for a quick sec. Before you tell me that being a “professional victim” will never make me happy, it might be better to work on your own insecurities first — starting with why me being honest about my trauma is so damn threatening to you.

 


So Happy to Share That

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 7.47.14 PMDSCN7502 - Version 2

So happy to share that:

1) I got 31 Likes on my blog posts today. Thank you to my dear readers for this record number of likes!

2) Because of the abandonment work I’ve been doing on my self (more on that later) I am learning the signs of anxiety and not to act because I’m anxious! This is huge for me, because basically until today, whenever I felt anxious, I could not control myself from acting out in ways that were damaging to my relationships with my friends and family. Getting my life back, from the past, from the abuse, from the anxiety and panic. I am not going to let those miscreants control me anymore. I am going to control myself and my own life!


What Can I Add?

image

Really, the sign says it all. 

This lovely “Green Area” is not a joke, according to the manager of the Escapees North Ranch campground near Congress, Arizona.  They’re one serious bunch here.

I’ve been here one whole day, and already I’m champing at the bit to leave.

For one thing, it’s hotter than hell.  I’m very heat intolerant.  Heat literally makes me sick.  Atina, too.  She demanded a walk at 2 p.m., and got diarrhea, which is a predictable consequence of heat stress.  We’re not going out again till after the sun goes down.  At least it does cool off rapidly, and even gets chilly enough for a sweatshirt at night.

The people here are unfriendly and unhelpful and even belligerent.  Very odd, since most travelers are very supportive of one another and eager to help.

I discovered this when I was forced to ask someone for help opening a water faucet at my campsite.  I am wearing a brace on my left hand, since I broke my wrist two days ago tripping over a log in the dark.  Even so, all the help I got was the loan of a wrench.

I’m looking for a place in New Mexico to wait for spring to spring in Colorado, where it is still colder than hell.

I camped at a really nice place near Silver City, NM last week.  I might go back there.  It’s inexpensive, the owner is nice, and the washing machine is free.  The shower is even decent, a big plus.

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This was taken from the Mc Donald Observatory in Southwest Texas. 

I was surprised to find that West Texas looks just like the country you see in cowboy movies.  This is a hundred or so miles north of Mexico, officially part of the Sonoran Desert.   It’s a beautiful place.  The people are friendly, and I saw several Roadrunners (meep, meep), but Wiley Coyote was heard but not seen!  Bugs Bunny did make a guest appearance, but he scrammed when he got a load of Miss Malligator (Atina).

http://youtu.be/hU9e-LZvYIk