Daily Archives: October 6, 2014

Mental Illness Awareness Week #MIAW #B4Stage4

MHA Infographic

Facts listed on this infographic from MHAScreening.org:

Get Screened, America!

  • 125,000 screenings since the launch of MHAScreening.org in May 2014
  • 66% screened positive for moderate to severe anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD…
  • and 64% of them had never been diagnosed.
  • 44% said they would discuss results with someone.
  • Stay healthy. Take a screen, and talk to a doctor, family member, or friend about your results.
  • After taking a screen, this is what people want most. HELP (most heavily weighted word in word cluster)
  • Take a screen MHAScreening.org
  • MHA Mental Health America#B4Stage4

Why B4Stage4?

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them.  We start way before Stage 4.  We begin with prevention…

This is what we should be doing when people have serious mental illnesses, too.  When they first begin to experience symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, we should act…



Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: #B4Stage4, #MIAW, Mental Health Screening, MHA, MHAScreening.org

The Elephant in the Room (# 2)

This edition is an updated version of one I published in 2010

As the sun goes down this Wednesday evening the seven day Jewish festival of Succos will begin. Some of you may know this festival as The Feast of the Tabernacles. In any event, among Jews it is known as The Time of Our Happiness. A favourite time of year for Jewish manic depressives like me, clearly.

Sukkot Succos Succot  Succoth

The whole happiness theme is liable to send me on a trip down the leafy undulations of memory lane. It brings to mind the era when I was a student of the Dark Arts of Philosophy, back in the halcyon days of the twentieth century, when the Soviet Union was going through General Secretaries of the Communist Party like there was no tomorrow. While I was hanging around in Covent Garden playing chess, busy being a Founder member of The Chelsea Poets and learning how to spell Wittgenstein, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko shuffled off their mortal coils, to be succeeded by every capitalist’s favourite Soviet leader, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. Margaret (‘Stand Down , Margaret, Stand Down’) Thatcher was showing the National Union of Mineworkers a thing or two back then, as I recall.

But I digress, as Tony Blair says frequently in his most entertaining biographical tome ‘A Journey’.

The pursuit of happiness, ah yes. It brings to mind that famous Empiricist Philosopher of the late 17th century, John Locke. He wrote in his 1693 bodice – ripper An Essay Concerning Human Understanding that : “the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness.”
On Succos, Jews are commanded to be happy. The Talmud recounts scenes of raucous abandon in courtyards of The Second Temple as Jews tried to out do each other in the fulfilment of this religious obligation.
As the father of a son and a daughter I have been in a position over the years (although with sharply declining frequency, I must admit,) to command them to do things. ‘Apologise to you brother/sister!’ was a family favourite. Or, ‘Stack the dishwasher!’ On second thoughts that one never really caught on. In any event, my doctors have never tried the ‘Smile!’, or ‘Laugh when I tell you to!’ approach with me.

But Succos is not all belly-laughs and giggling in the temporary huts we build for ourselves and dwell in as commanded by The Almighty. On the Shabbos (Saturday in English), we read The Book of Ecclesiastes. This is a book that starts with the slogan of The Association for the Advancement of Depression: ‘Futility, futility, everything is futility!’ The Rabbis teach us that we are meant to read this text during the festival to temper our mood, an antidote to frivolity. Quite.

For those of you who are still reading, you must be wondering what this rambling stream of consciousness on the ironies of the festival of Succos has the title ‘The Elephant in the Room’. The Talmud discusses the laws regarding the construction of these temporary huts at great length. The question is asked: ‘Can an elephant form one of the walls of the Succah?’ (I kid you not). The answer is a resounding ‘Yes, We Can!’ with the one understandable proviso that the elephant must not move. So a dead elephant is fine.


Since my G.P. wrote me my first sick note for depression back in the spring of 2001, I have seen a change in how mental illness is viewed by The General Public. Although I have always been up-front about my diagnosis, I have seen and heard a wide range of reactions to my disclosure. People still ask me ‘How are you feeling?’ (Do you really want me to tell you? I’m thinking.) Sometimes, I actually tell them. Back in 2001, a friend asked me this while we were watching a football match on T.V. ‘Suicidal,’ I replied. The conversation abruptly turned towards a detailed analysis of the use of The Christmas Tree Formation by the teams running about in pursuit if a ball on the screen in front of us. He’s known for a long time now when to ask, and is ready to hear my reply.


Cycling is a great teacher. One of the things that it has taught me this summer, is that I can change my plans, and do things on the spur of the moment – and nothing bad will happen. In fact, last minute changes of plan and doing things on the spur of the moment, have led to some of my most satisfying experiences. For example, the recent cycling trip I went on with my son in Dorset.

As a rule, I’m not a fan of translations, translations of poems, in particular. However, this one makes me think it would be worth learning Japanese to read the original.


I may live on until

I long for this time

In which I am so unhappy,

And remember it fondly.

Fujiwara No Kiyosuke (1104 – 1177)

Out Of The Blue

I promised you a few posts ago that I’d write one about mood episodes that come out of nowhere, and since I really don’t have a lot to talk about today, here it is.

I call them “sneaker waves”—mania or depression that has no identifiable trigger, but which slaps me flat and knocks the wind right out of me. This is one of the characteristics that distinguishes bipolar disorder from borderline personality disorder, which is a diagnosis I don’t have but have studied at some length because a lot of the symptoms overlap. In BPD, mood swings are almost always touched off by a trigger; in bipolar, they can certainly be triggered, but some of them come right out of the blue.

These are the episodes which frustrate me the most. It’s one thing when I can point to a cause or a contributing factor in the development of a depressive or manic mood; but when I’m going crazy without a reason, I feel betrayed by my own brain. It’s just not fair—when a person takes their medication regularly and does what they can to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they shouldn’t have to deal with unexpected mood swings. But it happens, and it really doesn’t have much to do with how well or how poorly one manages their disease.

I remember one manic episode I had a couple of years ago. It was summertime, yes, but I don’t spend entire summers in a manic state, and this was the middle of the season when I’m usually well. I was going about my business, nothing unusual was going on, and then WHAM! It didn’t even give me the customary few days of hypomania as a warning; I went from 0 to 120 in a matter of of hours. I also recall freaking out and calling the on-call psychiatrist at the clinic—Dr. Awesomesauce was out of town—which resulted in my being introduced to my first anti-psychotic. I also got sent home from work and told to “get that shit under control” before I came back.

I’ve also had depressive phases that had no obvious origin. One of them even happened in the early summer a few years back, which of course is when I’m normally hypo/manic. I analyzed that one to death and never figured out where it came from, but it was an angry, agitated depression which is memorable because it cost me my moderator position at another website and created a great deal of tension between my family and me. It also lasted throughout the entire summer…..in fact, I didn’t pull out of it until the early autumn.

Now, of course, my meds have not only decreased the frequency and severity of my mood episodes, but also the number of “sneaker waves”. I’ve also gotten better at sniffing out the subtler clues as to what might have contributed to a given mood shift. This is good, because the worst thing for me is being unable to explain something even to myself.

So that’s a bit about the mood changes that happen for no particular reason. Now it’s your turn to tell me about some of your experiences with “sneaker waves”. :-)


The following quote is from my most recent blog post: After the blog discussion, [my therapist and I] talked about some short stories I submitted for publication, and other topics writing related. He was grinning through our entire conversation and when we paused he laughed a bit and said, “You are not the same person […]

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The Eroticism of Placelessness


“Those who claim to prefer solitude or placelessness are usually the greatest romantics of all. They have too often been disappointed by humanity and have chosen to retreat into themselves like a butterfly in retrograde, shedding its wings and descending into its cocoon once more.”

Originally posted on Cody C. Delistraty:

On the way loneliness, freedom, and romance are intertwined.

For the past few weeks, I’ve woken up unsure exactly where I am. My bed, a modest full size, looks out onto a cobblestone courtyard framed by green linden trees and an intricately decorated castle. I’m in a pocket-sized one-bedroom apartment and although it is behind the Place des Vosges in Paris, by the looks of it I could be in Normandy or Toulouse, even Vermont. For that matter, there is no real way for me to know the year is 2014: save for the circle-pronged electrical outlet tucked behind my dresser, I could be waking up in the eighteenth century. In the haze of the early morning, these things tend to meld together.

The feeling of placelessness is a bit like a dream: the heightened romance, the intense brooding, the inherently transitory nature of the whole affair. Placelessness happens…

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Just Don’t It – Redux

  Hello friends! I wrote a different version of this post a few months ago. I decided to revise half of it and added a section about “micromovements”, a concept created by the bestselling author SARK. What’s a micromovement? you may ask.  (Hint: … Continue reading

Mental Illness- Psychological Bulimia

I am NOT making light of bulimia. My sister had it and still suffers the repercussions (sore throats, losing her voice, because the stomach acids damaged her vocal chords and such.)
But venting psychologically is kind of like purging. Life is what overfeeds you, letting it out in words is what purges you of the over indulgence/intake.

So, yeah, two posts in less than 24 hours. I know it irritates followers and seems either self absorbed or redundant.
It’s what I need right now because my mind is on overload.
AND for the record…Those who have cared enough to comment…Your feedback and support mean the world to me as it is rare in my life and much needed.

tonight…My mind is reeling. My body aches. My anxiety is all consuming. Saving graces: my cats and music.
Funeral For a Friend: “This eventual stop, this break in the mold…I scream down this hotline…just to feel something…”

I am screaming inside.

I am in this bizarre place where I feel helpless and doomed by the lice situation with my kid yet I want,need,to be an adult who just rolls with the punches.
I just can’t shake all the cruel things my mom said.
My dad,who I have always called the King of Gloom and Doom, has handled this lice thing with empathy and without screeching panic and judgment.
So wtf is my mom’s deal?
She’s got me so afraid of losing my kid,my paranoia is off the charts and my anxiety is somewhere in the stratosphere.
It’s one thing to doubt yourself because you are insecure and mentally off kilter.
To have someone who supposedly loves you telling you how subpar you are…Devastating.
Especially when you have done your absolute best only to be told it’s not good enough.

Yeah,I know. Me and my mommy issues are boring and redundant and I need to grow a pair. I just can’t shake that subconscious need to make my mom proud so she will love me, even if I know my mom is batshit and I will never be good enough.

It’s almost 11:30 pm.
I keep telling myself I am gonna go shower.
I’m not feeling it. It feels like I am so defective, sleazy, and hopeless that bathing is pointless. And while I do have my issues feeling like my best isn’t good enough as far as my kid is concerned…
I never believed it to be more than my own ever changing neuroses til my mom implanted the seed of ineptitude.

I suck.
As is the running joke with me and Bex, I rock the sucking thing.

I feel lousy for posting twice in one day. How self absorbed am I? It’s a compulsion,like I need to get it all out so it doesn’t fester,metastasize, and become this fatal thing I can’t combat.

There are times I think I’ve gone batshit crazy.
There are other times when I think of my unstable past compared to now and think,wow, i rock the casbah.
It’s a razor’s edge I walk.

On a final note…A song lyric that has spoken to my soul for the last 20 years.
Warrant “The Bitter Pill:.
“I’m often silent when I’m screaming inside.”
PLEASE feel free to leave any feedback or comments. Positive or negative.
I don’t want sympathy.
I just desperately need support and to know I am not talking insane gibberish. PLEASE.

Don’t be drunk, said the adult.

Drunk posts are fun. They remind you that what you did the pervious day was adolescent and risky, and made you feel okay. Some don’t, but this one is. (Remember, your body is getting old and can’t handle the same it did when you were 18. Remember you have a mental illness that effected by …