Daily Archives: January 12, 2014


My first job in the mental health field was as a Residential Social Worker at a mental health hostel for young people. There was one person living there who had  – to put it bluntly – bad teeth. It was my job to accompany him to his dental appointments at which he underwent multiple extractions. The reason that he had bad teeth was due to a year’s worth of severe self neglect following the death of his mother.

Cycle Corps

The week before I went to my G.P. and told her what was wrong with me back in 2001 I went to her with a foot infection I think I was trying her out, to see if she was any good before returning to tell her about my mental health. While I did keep brushing my teeth (they’re not exactly sparkling white) I ignored my feet.

They continued to feel itchy, the skin flaky.

Bad teeth and poor podiatary are not a bar to recovering one’s mental health but they are external signs (if hidden in my socks). And that’s the thing about mental illness that comes up again and again – it’s not visible so it attracts less sympathy, concern and consequently is simply not taken as seriously. Recently I heard someone say of depression ‘well it’s not breast cancer.’

That hurt. Suffering is not a league table. If it hurts (physically) it hurts. If it hurts (mentally) it hurts. And most of all, if it could kill you it could be mental or physical.

It’s often said that mental illness is a ‘hidden disease’, and that’s true to some extent. But sometimes it’s just because we may prefer to not look too closely at give away signs, such as poor self-care, as mentioned above, or self – isolating – not returning calls, not engaging in previously enjoyable activities.

In Bi Polar Disorder the symptoms can be very noticeable indeed. Signs of hypo mania and full – blown mania characteristically mean the making and carrying out of grandiose plans, impulsive behaviour such as rash spending sprees leading to mountains of debt, or dangerous sexual behaviour. In the hypo manic (less severe phase of the cycle) a person may talk rapidly, be full of ideas, switching from one topic to another without an apparent connection.

These kinds of symptoms are most certainly visible – and most difficult to treat.

Mental Cases

Who are these?  Why sit they here in twilight?

Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,

Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,

Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ tongues wicked?

Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?

Ever from their hair and through their hand palms Misery swelters.

Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

- These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.

Memory fingers in their hair of murders,

Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.

Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,

Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.

Always they must see these things and hear them,

Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,

Carnage incomparable and human squander

Rucked too thick for these men’s extrication.

Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented

Back into their brains, because on their sense

Sunlight seems a bloodsmear; night comes blood-black;

Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh

- Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,

Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.

- Thus their hands are plucking at each other;

Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;

Snatching after us who smote them, brother,

Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.

Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918)

Forbes’s 30 under 30 has no mental health leaders..


I have no idea! No idea! Why aren’t there people under 30 trying to make a change for mental health patients all over the world? Is mental health issues really that underground? Are mental health bloggers all we got in this fight?

Time to turn that around.

Any idea of how we can bring this fight closer to reality, and global??

Lipstick & Lithium YouTube Channel Has Officially Launched!!

Come see the Girl behind the Lipstick, and the Mind behind the Lithium…

A Weight Off My Shoulders

I’m not sure if the weight came off my shoulders, but it came off of something. Unfortunately it wasn’t my ass. It’s been a busy week so I didn’t get

The post A Weight Off My Shoulders appeared first on Depression and Bipolar Disorder:.

Another “Untitled” Post

I hate it when I pull stupid stunts like forgetting to title a post. Yesterday’s wound up being called ’953′ because I wrote the thing without coming up with one of my typically catchy headlines first. (OK, you can stop snickering now.) So because I’m not feeling terribly creative, tonight’s post will have a title that’s not a title…..or it won’t have a title that IS a title. Or something like that.

It was good to have a day off, even though I can hardly wait to get started on next week’s learning. I know the time will arrive when I’ll feel a desperate need to take in great gulps of free air on the weekends before I have to go back to work, but for now it’s great to be on a normal schedule like most of the rest of the civilized world.

I could’ve done without some of the stuff I’ve seen on TV this afternoon, though. Will and I watch a lot of true-crime shows on the ID channel, and for some reason there were two different shows that featured murderers with a history of—yep, you guessed it—bipolar disorder. I’m just glad things are going so well for me, because I’ve been triggered by less than this in the past, and gotten quite upset.

Now, we all know that some mentally ill people commit murder, but obviously not every killer is mentally ill, and not all mentally ill people are killers. In one show, the female detective repeatedly referred to the suspect as a kook: “The guy’s bipolar, he gets a free pass (on the crime) because he’s a kook, his neighbors know he’s a kook, we know he’s a kook”, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

Well, isn’t that special. Just makes me even more resolute in my decision not to disclose my own illness at work. I can’t have people looking at me as if I were a hand grenade with the firing pin pulled, or calling me a “kook” behind my back. It sucks that I practically have to live a double life in order to have a normal one, but if that’s what I have to do, it’s what I’m going to do. I want things too badly and have worked too damned hard to lose yet another part of me to this infernal illness.

Which gets me to thinking: really, who determines what constitutes ’illness’? I am most certainly not in a state of distress right now, although I’m well aware that the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean I don’t have the condition in the first place. (I got fooled that way once……it won’t happen a second time.) So should I still be considered ’mentally ill’? I don’t think so. After all, I am currently able to live as a fully functioning adult human being; compare that with where I was even a couple of months ago, and I’m doing extremely well by comparison.

I’m sure there are those who would disagree with me on this point, and still others who might find something ominous in the assertion that I’m as healthy as someone with bipolar disorder can ever be. But I am, and what’s more, I’m doing everything possible to stay that way.

Even if I do forget to name my posts every now and again. ;-)


Bipolarly 2014-01-12 03:53:00

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” 
-Benjamin Franklin

Two Hebrew Kings Blog For Mental Health

I lived in Seattle for a time, and was crazy as a bed bug (ugh! bed bugs!) due to indiscretions in several arenas of my life and untreated bipolar disorder.  Fortunately, I found a wonderful psychiatrist named Ray Vath.  Dr. Vath, if you are reading this, please know you saved my life.

On more than one occasion, I got so manic and paranoid that I locked myself in a hotel room for several days at a time, hallucinating, emerging only to walk my service dog and get more bottled water.  I ate nothing.  No amount of Ativan slowed my mind.  I had to wait it out.  I would not call the doctor for fear he would put me in the hospital–something I feared worse than death, having been in twice already.

On one post-mania visit, Dr. Vath, after writing a script for Lithium, suggested that King David was manic-depressive.  Just look at Psalms, he said.  In one poem he would be elated, dancing and singing before G-d, and in another, crying out in pain and suffering, begging forgiveness and professing to be nothing but a lowly sinner.

I did look at the Psalms, but at the time had no Hebrew, so I had to make do with translations.  These did put across Dr. Vath’s point.  But it wasn’t until I learned Hebrew that I really got the impact of the language David used.  It is so poignant–and so bipolar.

As I got more confident in my Hebrew (and my ability to use a dictionary) I set myself the task of reading the first book of Samuel in Hebrew.  It’s easier than a lot of the ancient texts, because the language is more like modern Hebrew; and it’s easier than the later prophets, because they raved on so.  (It says in Samuel I that the prophets would fall down in something like an epileptic fit and prophesy.  Hmmm, sounds like a Pentacostal Church service.  Maybe they read the Prophets too?)

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that David’s uncle Saul, the first King of Israel, suffered terribly from depression!  He would send for David, “The Sweet Singer of Israel,” to play his harp and sing for him.  That was the only thing that would pop Saul out of his black melancholy.  But what happened then!  David, playing his lyre and seemingly oblivious, would jump slightly to the right or left, in order to avoid the spear that Saul, waking from his depressive trance, heaved at his head!  And David would just keep playing, while Saul hurled spears at him right and left.  Crazy, or not crazy?  I vote crazy.  Sounds like one of my family get-togethers, fortunately rare.

Saul did some other manic-type things, like going to a necromancer to call up the prophet Samuel, who had recently died.  Saul needed some information quick, so that was the best course of action, he reasoned.  He got severely punished for that through Divine Retribution.

Saul had this thing about trying to kill David.  David would run to various difficult to get to places in the Land of Israel, like the caves at Ein Gedi, which overlook a beautiful waterfall and pool. I have taken a dip in it.  It was cold.  The caves are very high up, but that did not deter Saul and his army from hunting David down.

One time, David was hiding in a very dark cave.  Saul needed to “relieve himself,” so he went into the very cave in which David had crammed himself way in the back.  While Saul was indisposed, David sneaked up and silently sliced off a piece of Saul’s garment.  Must have been a very sharp knife!  After Saul finished and left the cave, David ran after him and handed him the piece of cloth, entreating him to show some reason and call off his dogs.  This only intensified Saul’s paranoia, and he continued to hunt David from North to South and East to West.

It gives me comfort to know that I am not the only crazy person in the world.  Yes, I know the numbers and statistics, but sometimes the isolation of my own particular variety of bent mind makes me feel as if no one else could possibly have experiences even mildly reminiscent of mine.

This is where Mental Health Blogging comes in.  Here in this wonderfully crazy part of the blogosphere, we let our hair down, and let our brains hang out.  We listen and console and comfort each other.  We do not throw spears at each others’ heads.  Instead, we provide a warm, loving community, something we all need desperately.

Some of us are more functional than others, holding down jobs, having families and social lives.  Others, like myself, confine our social interactions to the safety of the Internet and especially our safe Mental Health Blogging community.

A cornerstone of our community is that paragon of group blogging,  A Canvas of the Minds.  Masterminded by Ruby Tuesday and Lulu Stark, it is truly a place where mental health issues are out of the closet.  If you haven’t been there yet, I urge you to do so immediately!  But not before you finish reading my post :-)

Although Lulu has retired from Canvas, she left a very special legacy.  Each year, Mental Health Bloggers from all corners of the Blogosphere take the following pledge:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

blogging mental health


Well, that was easy, wasn’t it?  Because that’s what I do anyway, and I intend to continue to do it until my fingers dry up and fall off (Heaven forfend), and after that I’ll have to learn Dragon Dictate that I already bought but haven’t even looked at yet.

So.  You’ve heard about my crazy Hebrew relatives, and I hope you enjoyed their stories.  Reading this post over, I realized that my own 21st Century family gatherings are no more shockingly unhealthy than the Hebrew families of 2500 years ago.  Not that it makes me feel any better about family gatherings.  On the contrary, it reinforces my commitment to being a recluse.  Lonely at times, but many fewer slings and arrows!

Advice for your mind

Plus..it gives you headaches.

Don’t do it.


I’ve been all over the mood gamut the last couple of days. Up, down, all around. Half ass functional one day, crash landing into lump form the next. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it. The lack of impact on the depression that the Cymbalta is having is pissing me off. I am sick of the meds failing. Trial and error is fine, but all I get is error and yet, the depression is real and it does not go away. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Today I had planned on going out. I even got dressed. But I could not make myself do it. I absolutely could not. I just watched TV shows all day and played Word Poker on Neopets. Spelling is the only thing I am truly good at and that game lets me get lost and not think about anything but letters and words. I’ve been hooked on it off and on for ten years. Sometimes I feel idiotic playing children’s games at my age but with mental illness, the name of the game is survival. The method isn’t as relevant as the end result. I’d put on a tutu and a cheese hat and dance a polka if it meant riding out the rough patches.

Tonight I am experiencing a sudden dip in my mood and my mental status. I am anxious, borderline panicky. My brain has returned to paranoia town and it is telling me all these little things that logically I know are not true and yet…I am fragile enough to let the thoughts squirm around my brain like the insidious fucks they are. Once I enter this mindspace, I am screwed. Until it passes, I am looking at reality through ten layers of gauze. There is only the distorted thoughts, seeming so real, so convincing, so debilitating. How I hate this mindspace.

But I took a xanax for the rising panic and all I can do now is ride it out like waiting out a bad storm. Just gotta wait for it to pass. Patience is not a virtue I possess so waiting is excrutiating for me. But there’;s nothing else to be done. It is what it is.

My mind has decided to go wonky and I am at its mercy. But it’s a vindictive bastard without mercy and I am its prisoner for the moment.

It’s too bad one can’t take a vacation from themselves. I think more than anything what I am more tired of is me. My mind and all its moods and anxieties and paranoid thoughts. The noise in my head never dies down, it never stops spinning. I want a break from myself.