Monthly Archives: December 2017

Gaslighting and Bipolar Disorder: A Follow-Up

Over a year ago, I wrote about gaslighting and bipolar disorder (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-pm). In my post I said:

[W]hat does gaslighting have to do with bipolar disorder? Someone who is in the depressive phase of bipolar – especially one who is undiagnosed – is especially susceptible to gaslighting. The very nature of depression leaves a person wondering, “Am I insane?” To have another person reinforcing that only strengthens the idea.

Since then, gaslighting has become a hot topic, appearing all over the Web, so I thought I’d write about it again.

The essence of gaslighting is that someone denies your reality and substitutes his own. (Gaslighters are mostly – though not exclusively – men.)

What I believe is driving the interest in gaslighting is the “#MeToo” movement. Women everywhere are speaking up about incidents of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and even rape that they had not spoken of before. Or that they had spoken of but not been believed.

In many of these cases, gaslighting was involved. The women say, “This happened.” The men say, “It was a joke/flirting/a compliment/not that big a deal/consensual.” Until now men have denied the women’s perception of abusive reality and substituted their own innocent explanation. And, for the most part, the men’s reality has been accepted. Again and again.

Some of the high and mighty have recently been brought low by revelations of misconduct. The more we hear, the more it seems that men who achieve prominence in any field see women and especially their bodies as just another perk – like a company car or a key to the executive washroom. An audience for a dick pic. A pussy to grab.

Those are the cases that make the news. But the problem goes all the way down to the least prestigious situations. Any male in a position of power over a woman has the opportunity to exploit that relationship. Many are decent men and don’t. But many – from your local McDonald’s manager to the city bus driver to the head janitor – do. That’s millions of men and millions of women, the gaslighters and the gaslit.

Again, why discuss this in a bipolar blog? Because the very nature of our disorder makes us a little unsure of reality anyway. Perhaps this is mania and my boss is complimenting me because I really am sexually appealing. Perhaps this is depression and I deserve the degrading thing that just happened to me. Perhaps this is somewhere in between and I can’t guess what’s what.

A person unsure of her emotions is more likely to take the “bait” that the gaslighter dangles. A person unsure of her reality is more likely to accept someone else’s definition of it.

The #MeToo movement is empowering. It allows women to bring into the light the shameful things that have been hidden away. And it gives the bipolar person a more objective standard against which to measure reality. “That happened to me too! I was right that it was inappropriate!” “I saw that happen to my friend. Next time I’ll be strong enough to speak up!” “I see what’s happening. I’ll teach my daughter not to put up with that behavior. And my son not to do it.”

And it says to the bipolar person, “You have an objective reality outside your moods. You can trust your perceptions on these matters. You too have a right to live without these insults, these aggressions, this gaslighting. You can trust your feelings when you perceive that someone has stepped over that line.”

We have bipolar disorder. We are not the disorder. And it does not rule every aspect of our lives. When we perceive a situation as unprofessional, harmful, insulting, degrading, we can say so – and deserve to be believed. Just because we have a mental disorder does not make us any less worthy of decent, respectful treatment by the men in our lives, whether they be boyfriends, husbands, fathers, employers, or supervisors.

We have enough problems in our lives. We shouldn’t have to deal with gaslighting too.

 

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: #MeToo, bipolar disorder, emotions, gaslighting, mutual support, news stories, public perception, support systems

In 2018, let’s stop pretending cis women are the only ones having periods. Seriously.

We need gender inclusivity when we're talking about menstruation.

2017 Year-End Wrap-Up

2017 stats, most viewed, and favorites.…

2018 One Word – Partake

Choosing one word for the year is an interesting thing.  I always think I know how it will play out, but it always surprises me.  I'm sure this will be the same.

It often starts with a feeling.  I get a sense of what I need to focus on.  Sometimes a clear word.  Sometimes just an ethereal idea.  After pondering on it for a while, usually several days, I settle on the word.  Always a bit before the end of the year.  I've known my word for next year for a few weeks now.

And when I choose a new word, I tend to start changing my life to fit it, even before January first.  Can't help it.

This year's word is PARTAKE.  As usual, I have a very clear feel for what it will be, even if I can't quite say it. 

The first word that came to mind was consume, then consumption.  It was an idea that I needed to be more aware of what I take into my mind and body.  Consume was so completely not the right word, and consumption made me feel like I was in the 1800s with some disease.  I had to work on it for a bit.

But partake is so totally the right word.  It's not about devouring something.  It's about accepting something.  It has a spiritual feel to it.  It helped me flesh out my view for the year.

It's both about not partaking in something unhealthy for me and choosing to partake of things that are.  The duality of that might not be obvious.  But I can choose not to partake of certain negative things and go on my merry way without too much change.  When I'm presented with good options/opportunities, I need to partake of those.

See?  It's totally clear in my heart but tough to communicate.

I've already started to prepare and to put it into practice.  It's very compelling, this year's word.

In a simple and obvious way, I've whittled down my viewing and music choices.  I already leaned on the less adult side.  I already limited my movies to PG-13 and my TV to TV-14.  This cut out so much objectionable stuff.  (For me.  Let me be clear - this is about my tolerance, not a judgment on anyone else.)  But there's still so much that I'm not proud of, that I know isn't good for me, but I was hesitant to get rid of because I like it.

I've gone through Netflix (where I do almost all my viewing) and cleared everything from my queue that's rated more than PG.  I've also cut out some things that are PG but with content I know isn't in accordance with this plan.

I've created a new music playlist without swearing and without sex.  I already had a pretty clean selection, but once in a while I had a song I wouldn't play around other people's children.  I figure that's a pretty good indicator.

These seemed to be a good place to start, easy to discern. 

I tend to be porous, picking up on the emotions of people around me.  Not just aware of them, but carrying them, whether I want to or not.  Until now, I didn't make the connection that I have that same experience with the media I partake of.  It soaks into me in much the same way, whether I want it to or not.  I believe these changes will help lighten my soul.

But it's not just about making better choices about what I consume.  It's also about how much.  And when.  And so many other things.

And as I've begun to put it into motion, without really trying, I've found interesting thoughts cross my mind.  When I was disappointed with something and wanted to be critical, I paused.  We live in a society that seems to relish complaints, criticism, and sarcasm.  They're easy to throw around.  But when I paused I heard these words in my mind - "Partake of positivity."

I found it very intriguing.  When I stop myself from complaining or criticizing, I've always thought of it as an outward thing.  I'm doing this to them, for them.  I'm stopping negative feelings and expression from leaving me and going to the other person.  But in that moment I saw it from a different perspective.  Partaking of positivity, inviting that into my heart, stops the rest.  It strengthens me, lifts me.  It's not that I stop myself from saying or doing anything negative, because that just goes away.  It's just gone.

I know I'm not explaining this very well.  It makes sense to me.  I hope it makes a little sense to you.  And I hope I can observe and document it a bit better this year, so I can share it with you as I go along.

Do you have a word for 2018?

The Free Floating Anxiety Chronicles

I am not fond of posting multiple times a day but when something has me so out of sorts…it really helps me work through it if I vent so here goes…

R’s appearance, uninvited Wednesday night (to his credit, he did text first for the first time in weeks, but when my lackluster response was met with ‘since you’re so disinterested…and I didn’t reply otherwise, yet he still turned up, no desire to talk or listen to me, yeah, he’s digressed to the elitist narcissist he always was, money changes people.

Since then, I have gone back to high anxiety, paranoia, and a dark cloud of anxiety over my head. It’s impacting my sleep whereas the four days R free days I had, I was starting to feel calmer, more at peace. What this proves to me is that while much of my anxiety is indeed free floating and often without a discernable trigger…this ‘friendship’ has become toxic for me.

He will never cede to this, he will remind me how good I’ve got it, how he fixed the furance, fixed my car, gives me the credit card to put gas in the car…He will flout every kind thing he has done for me in an effort to make me feel guilty and like I am betraying him. I know this because it has happened a few times before. Do his bidding or you are disloyal and a user.

This is the very definition of a toxic relationship. The man calls himself my friend, but didn’t offer me a Christmas ‘bonus’ of $20 bucks so help with my kid’s Christmas. When I even mentioned it, he scoffed indignantly and said, ad nauseum, “I’m buying you a car, what more do you want from me?” Needless to say, this hurt. And after six years trying to atone for how poorly I treated him 20 years ago when being given the wrong diagnosis and meds…It was plain insulting. Cruel, even.

He never asked me if I wanted him to buy me a car. He just deemed mine too old, too ugly, and I AM BUYING YOU A CAR. What no one realizes is if I go for this seemingly ‘good deal’ I will never escape being under his thumb. His acts of kindness are just that, until I displease him, then I get flogged with them and made to feel like an awful ungrateful monster.

This is the epitome of a toxic situation.

I honestly thought with his wife home from her job I’d be free of his visits for the better part of a week. Oh, and before you say, Just tell him no…Yeah, last time I did that, he got huffy then spent the night texting me about needing this part and that part, even though I told him I didn’t feel well and was tapped out. If I don’t perform, be it him not wanting to be alone or jumping thru hoops to do his bidding…He turns on me. In true narcicssist form he cannot see the err of his ways. He never will.

A year or so back he demanded I come into the shop and mostly it was to fetch lunch and keep the phone from bothering him but I was crying and told him, “I have a sick cat at home, she may die and I’d like to be with her.” To which he said, “I should think you’d rather be here than watch that.”

WTF? It wasn’t about my comfort because of course I don’t want to see an animal sick or dying. But it was important to me to be there so the cat didn’t die alone and he just could not relate because his emotional IQ is so low. And yeah, EQ is just as important as IQ. Smart but soulless does not work for me. I should have abandoned ship then and there.

Instead I have let the situation metastasize and now I am at a loss how to bow out gracefully without bringing his wrath down on me. You may wonder why I care, once I am out from under his thumb, I will be free. But R seldom lets it go, he will bully me or simply write me off as if I betrayed him. It’s scary thinking just to save my sanity and lower my anxiety I have to risk blowing up a friendship. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s not a friendship, not really. He doesn’t even send a birthday or Christmas text, treats my kid like an annoyance even in her own home. When he got this ‘real’ job and started making good money and now that he knows the shop is merely a side project to line his pockets…Throw in the forcefed political bullshit and it’s become an unbearable situation for me.

The fact that his reappearance, even in a social situation where he didn’t even mention the shop, is setting off alarm bills. He once bailed on me because he felt my mental health issues were dragging him down but he will never accept that the same is now true for me in this situation. So how to be diplomatic, calm, fair, and cause as little turmoil as possible…I tried to tell the psych nurse how it was breaking me down, but she could not have cared less. That leaves me on my own and just handling the whole thing has me panicking.

Top that with inexplicable free floating anxiety…I have to save myself at all costs. If he won’t accept polite, then…burn the bridge. It’s not worth it anymore being treated like the poor relation forced to do his bidding while he lords his well paying job and this magic car promise over my head.

Personally, a true friend to me would be someone who while not pleased with my choice to walk away would at least be understanding and supportive.

Sadly that has never been the situation with this person, except when he was the one ditching me for being too erratic and stressful.

Toxicity personified.


Can People With Mental Health Diagnoses Ever Trust Their Own Feelings?

Yesterday’s post, I was feeling secure in my realization that Trintellix had caused my disorders to become worse (and this is very common with anti-depressants, especially when on a two med regimine)…Today I am filled with fear and self doubt. As the calendar nears my appointment with Dr. B in two weeks, I find myself riddled with self doubt because the psych nurse seemed to doubt my sincerity, as well as the severity of my disorders, so it has trickled down and made me question myself, my motives, my ability to view things objectively without my sporadic wrong thoughts tainting my perceptions and feelings
.

It isn’t merely the mental health professionals who constantly make us doubt ourselves, either. We are constantly barraged with relatives and friends and basic acquaintances all too quick to negate their own rude behavior by blaming our hurt feelings or sense of disrespect by blaming our disorders and invalidating whatever emotions we have by saying we’ve distorted it.

So with so much going against us, how can we ever trust our own feelings?

I struggle with this on a daily basis. I am not a weak willed person. My school life was living hell filled with verbal abuse and even physical bullying yet I never backed down to become what they expected me to be. I liked what I liked, popular or not, and I was stubborn to the very end. I never changed who I was at my core, on the outside in my fashion style nor on the inside where I felt bullies were wastes of oxygen and far weaker than I could ever. Over the years, I have held tough to these views against complete adversity. So I am not one easily swayed.

However, when it comes to my thought disorder and anxiety issues…I falter and second guess and doubt myself and wonder if others aren’t right. That no feeling I have is ever legitimae, that the masses are right and I am the one in the wrong because so many people mitigate responsibility for their shitty behavior by placing blame on me for being ‘crazy’. What doesn’t help is the fact that often, my perceptions are amplified and turn out to be wrong or simply less of a problem when my mood cycles rapidly.

When you have a mental health professional who seems skeptical and does nothing to help you when you feel you are in crisis (if you don’t claim suicidal or homicidal ideation, it’s damn near impossible to get into even a day program)…self doubt takes over and because we are programmed from an early age to hold doctors in high regard as if they can never do any wrong…It’s a hellish way to live your life and certainly cause for questioning whether the effort to take the meds and seek the care are worthwhile.

Counseling, what the docs and nurse consider necessary, served only to confuse me more when new counselors decided three sessions in I had a new personality disorder. Which if they are right, I spent 20 years working on fixing traits of my previous diagnosis when all along I was Disorder X so now I have to start all over again…and lather, rinse, repeat, for when the next doc or therapist comes along and decides to slap me with yet another new label. It’s frustrating, maddening, it wreaks havoc on your self esteem and makes it nearly impossible to trust yourself.

What has become my bottom line however is that these professionals spend very little time with me, they don’t care about mitigating circumstances, they don’t care how the merry go round of counselors with all their different biases damage our minds and self esteem even more. They don’t know us. And if they can’t take time to get to know us to make our treatment more effective, then the only thing left to trust, for better or worse, is ourselves. We live with ourselves 24-7, we suffer the endless cycles of being up, being down, being stable.

And what has become clear to me, without the aid of any professional, is that if something is still bothering me a couple of weeks later after multiple mood shifts…then I can pretty much trust that that particular feeling is for real. Otherwise, it would have passed with the mood swings. Learning this is a huge sign of how much I have grown and how much self awareness I have gained.

Maybe many of my behaviors are personalty related. Maybe much of it amounts to bad medication cocktails or endless rapid cycling mixed with long depressive bouts during the winter, Maybe it’sa combination of everything.

I know I cannot keep going through life in perpetual self doubt. There is no way I was stronger as a bullied 14 year old who was powerless to escape the bad situation.

Self doubt is what seeking treatment for my disorders got me. Counseling made me full of self doubt and confused me even more than my disorders. Do I give up on it or do I keep fighting to find my happy medium?

Positive reinforcement can go a long way but when I am not even getting that from the people who are supposed to help me…and I have felt this way for months and months and made every effort to be fair and not overreact simply because psych nurse’s bedside manner doesn’t suit me…

I’ve got no choice but to trust myself. Because I know I am honest, sincere, and dedicated to getting better. I cannot allow some bad experiences defeat me from my goal of emotional balance. I don’t know what the answer is but I’d say started with removing negative anxiety inducing people from my life is a good start. If they don’t give me empathy and the benefit of the doubt…

There is no reason for me to reciprocate. Of this, I am certain.


15 Mental Health Resolutions For The New Year

It’s powerful to begin a new year by saying, “I’m choosing me.” 

Still Down

with a sinus infection.  We are slowly making progress on cleaning up the decorations for Christmas and packing away stuff for the two oldest to move away.  I wish I could be more help but I can’t the way I feel.  I so wanted to enjoy them being home right now.  But I feel so yucky I am spending most of my time in the bed.

 


When Anti Depressants Make Things Worse

Do NOT try this at home, kids.

Last week I bottomed out and got to thinking…the nurse doc thingie has pretty much written me off cos I had a booze bender the day before an appointment…I told R more than once that I had been slapped with a bad label and it upset me…but he responded with “whatever” and “does this woman know you?”

That was when it hit me. She does NOT know me. I bet she’s spent less than ten minutes over the last six months perusing my file before appointments. She is inexperienced, which in itself is malpractice for someone with my history of med resistant instability…She may well be a perfectly nice person, but she is…lacking in what I need in my treatment.

So R’s question, even if he is an elitist version of satan, got me to thinking. What could make me start behaving in a way contrary to my own nature? What had me so anxious and stressed that I would even need to dull things with alcohol to the extent I was reeking of it the next day? And furthermore, what the hell could make me not be interested in spending time with my child and finding my cats so vile and annoying????

It hit me then that much like a few before it, my anti depressant might be the culprit. It might help me remain upright and semi functional but was it also making me strung out on anxiety?

There was only one way to determine this.

I quit Trintellix cold turkey.

No withdrawal. Within a couple of days (and no doubt, not being at the shop and dealing with R helped) I was feeling less hostile, less anxious, more interested in my kid and cats…

Hell,we even had a GREAT Christmas Eve at my mom’s with zero family drama. Christmas day was spent at home, warm and cozy.

Six days later without Trintellix and I am wanting to play with my kid (long as my attention span allows, anyway), I am more patient with her even when she is acting like a twonk, I find joy in my cats again…

The nurse dog thingie can make all the wrong judgments she wants and blame drinking, or my personality, or whatever…but I honestly put it to the test and I am feeling BETTER WITHOUT TRINTELLIX.

I reiterate, do NOT do this at home. It is ill advised to stop meds without a professional’s consent but since doc nurse thingie put me in suicide bomber mode, the last thing I wanted was to call and try to get her to sign off…When I first started it and called to tell them about agonizing stomach aches, they said keep taking it and get my lithium level checked. Apparently, my misery is not of importance to her and her minions. So I took matters into my own hands.

And had there been a backslide, I’d have gone right back to the nausea stomach inducing lice crawling nasty medication. But the fact that going off of it made me feel less anxious and less hostile…kind of indicates it was the wrong medication. I got so busy focusing on being functional to pleas Satan, er, R, that I failed to notice the abrupt change in my own personality. And the fact not even my so called psych professional noticed kind of speaks volumes. I just didn’t want another med to fail, I wanted this to be ‘the one’ , to be successful, because your psych professionals are a bit like mom and dad, you may have your issues and resentments, but ultimately, you want to please them, even if it’s a fallacy.

I’m sure there will be backlack for my ‘poor’ choice to stop the Trintellix cold turkey, but since I did stop it…I have needed less Xanax, had fewer meltdowns and stress fits, and even though still waking up multiple times a night…I’ve found a reduction in waking with panic attacks. That, for me, is a ringing endorsement for stopping the medication.

Right or wrong…I am already feeling better. And R made an appearance last night which caused my condition to re-emerge, resulting in waking with panic attacks today cos I just can’t handle his oppressiveness anymore…So the nurse doc thingie wasn’t willing to say I needed to rid myself of whatever is causing me to be so nervous and contrary to my own identity…

I did her job for her. I also got my furnace working Saturday night by using Google rather than panicking and calling R. What this tells me is…

I’m a hot mess and my mood’s going to ebb and flow and crash and burn cos of seasonal depression…but I will be damned if nurse doc thingie is going to make me give up on myself. It may be her idea of tough love, but she set me back quite a bit in my trust in my own mental healthcare. I wish I could sue the whole place because she made me feel so hopeless and unworthy.

She is wrong.

I am going to make it out of this hole someday and I will do it without R and in spite of my noobie psych nurse who made me feel about as shitty as anyone ever has. My mistakes may be called out and I will own them, but that gives her no right to question my sincerity. If she knew me at all, like Dr. B, did, she would have recognized I’d done a 180 against my own values and identity.

She’s not gonna defeat me, nor is R. I am taking back my life and I will handle the fall out. I am tired of being enslaved to someone’s bias, to someone’s financial manipulations (fuck you, keep the car, I’ll drive my bucket of bolts).

DONE.

That may be the sanest thought I have had in months.


Another Book Review from Another Awesome Blogger!

Originally posted on Mental Health @ Home:
Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder chronicles author Dyane Harwood’s journey with postpartum onset bipolar disorder.  The story’s rich, vivid descriptions draw the reader along on the intense roller coaster ride of the author’s illness experience.  Many elements of her story will be hauntingly familiar…