Daily Archives: October 10, 2014

On Stigma: World Mental Health Day

Today, October 10th, 2014, is World Mental Health Day—a day to acknowledge the importance of mental health, and a day to educate others about mental illness. Here’s my contribution.

Today I’m going to talk about stigma. I’ve discussed it in this blog at times, but I’ve never really gone into it in depth because it is painful to acknowledge the fact that most of the world believes that people like me are crazy. That we are defective, weak, useless. That we are…..alien.

Stigma is pervasive and sneaky, although some people are openly prejudiced and even hostile toward those with mental illness. Others use MI as fodder for jokes, while still others employ it as political theatre (gun-control advocates in particular). But the social opprobrium is the worst, in my opinion. There is SO much judgmentalism out there, and nowhere is it more obvious than the working world.

I know, because I’ve lost jobs and had my work hours cut to the bone in others simply due to the fact that I have a mental illness and became symptomatic. The Americans with Disabilities Act may protect the diabetic who has to inject insulin at work, but it does nothing for the mentally ill worker who loses her job because she had to deal with a crisis. I’ve struggled my whole life with sticking to a job for a significant length of time, and I can’t help believing that if I’d received some understanding and assistance from my employers, it might have turned out differently. I’ll never know for sure; it could merely be the nature of my disease. And of course, I didn’t even realize I was sick until 2 1/2 years ago. But I am convinced that if I’d taken medical leave for a heart attack or become ill with pneumonia instead of bipolar disorder, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

I am also certain that stigma exists in part because the average American is uneducated about mental illness, even though according to statistics, one in four of us lives with one or more such conditions. We are notorious for not seeking help even when we know something is wrong; in some studies, fewer than half of Americans with psychiatric issues are seeing a mental health professional. Why? Because we’re afraid someone will find out and think we’re crazy, psycho, nuts, loony. We are also reluctant to take medications; who wants their family or friends to see their prescriptions in the medicine cabinet, or their pharmacists to know how many meds they need to control their condition?

In addition, stigma exists because of the good old Puritan work ethic, which shames us for our “nonconformity”. We are viewed as weak-willed, lazy, worthless, while at the same time we’re expected to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps…..even when our illness has left us barefoot. Every depressed person has been told to “snap out of it” or “think positive thoughts” or “count your blessings”. Every anxious person has heard “if you’d just calm down you wouldn’t be so nervous”. This is not helpful, people. Would you tell someone with cancer to “just get rid of that tumor, you’ll be fine”?

On this World Mental Health Day, then, let us open the door to a real dialogue on mental illness and those who suffer. If you don’t know anything about it, learn! If you have MI yourself or love someone who does, educate! There is no other way to erase stigma. I’m doing my part. We all must…..and not just today, but every day.

Shit . . .

This has been a down week. Fuck! I don’t really know why. I had a treatment (ECT) last Friday and ever since I’ve felt like shit. I don’t know if it’s the treatment or if I am just mad at myself for not doing the “No Sugar” thing perfectly (yes I’ve fallen off the wagon and had some binges). I am still pursuing clean eating, but GODDAMN it’s hard!! I’m still thinking in terms of a new life plan for eating, this is not a diet!! But oh how it’s hard.

The days here in Colorado have become markedly shorter and that certainly fucks with my brain. The sun is also lower in the sky, even that bothers me. I feel like a fucking whiner. I think I AM! Is whining a symptom of Depression? I think I’ll google it. Google asks me “Did you mean to ask if yawning is a symptom of Depression?” No motherfucker I didn’t!! So I found an article, more like a Q&A, Ask A Therapist, where someone says they tried to cut off their arms because they thought they were plastic, and they’re asking if there’s anything wrong with them? Oh my.

Ohhhh YEAH my ECT psychiatrist told me to get a new therapy light. Maybe I should actually do that. Is anyone else feeling the effects of less light? It’d be a comfort to know I’m not the only one. Don’t make me cut my arms off, people . . .

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Depressed, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar ECT, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader, Winter Blues

What research into Bipolar Disorder do YOU want to see?

Originally posted on MindfulEm's Toolkit for the Mind:

In collaboration with other organisations, The James Lind Alliance has launched a new Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) for Bipolar Disorder. The purpose of this work is to undertake more research into bipolar disorder.

At the heart of this project is the patient voice. The research that will be conducted with take into account the questions that sufferers, parents and carers would like to be answered. Following receipt of these entries, a top 10 of questions will be published. Again, the public can comment on these and rank them in order of preference.

For example, here is a question I intend to pose (or something along those lines):

“What is the impact of SSRIs on triggering a first episode of hypermania and/or mania”.

I’m particularly interested in the impact of SSRIs when prescribed at a young age (eg. late teens, early twenties) and to see how many go on to develop bipolar…

View original 72 more words


Bipolar Disorder has no “cure.” It is a chronic, progressive illness that will forever be part of my make up, and therefore there is no clinical measure to assess bipolar recovery. So what does “recovery” really mean? Recovery looks different to each individual stricken with this illness.

For me, bipolar disorder has three main stages: crisis, management and recovery. In these terms “recovery” could also be referred to as remission. Crisis refers to being in a full-blown episode (either depression or mania). Management means that you are currently handling your symptoms to the point that they are not taking over your life. And, to me, recovery represents a place where treatment is optimized and I actually have a life.

Recovery happened for me when I was finally prescribed the right medication cocktail, was receiving worthwhile therapy and psychiatric care, made the necessary lifestyle changes, and had a successful support network. This is my tool kit, and when all these factors align I feel like I’m in recovery. Recovery is not one thing, but rather a process of stages and everyone passes through these stages at different speeds. Generally, it’s a very slow road.

Unlike most physical illnesses where recovery means returning to a level of functioning of the pre-illness condition, that is usually not possible when dealing with bipolar disorder. You decide what recovery looks like to you. For me it’s getting up and dressed every day, leaving the house and having rewarding personal relationships. For others it is more full-functioning like holding down a job.

My goal is to lead a productive, meaningful life with as few bipolar interruptions as possible. I understand my illness quite well. I understand how it manifests itself in me. I realize that being sick is only a trigger or crisis away. So I use all my tools and try to keep my symptoms at bay. I set short-term goals and celebrate when I reach them. I feel well. For me, I am in recovery.

Bullying Can Have A Lifetime Effect

I hate to admit it, but I was a bully. It hurts to think about it, so I can only imagine how much it likely affects the two individuals who were victims of my bullying. This is especially true after reading a study by Kings College in London which shows the impact of childhood bullying […]

The post Bullying Can Have A Lifetime Effect appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Sweating Buckets Over S/M/L Stuff

At the ripe age of forty-four, I thought I wouldn’t let petty things get to me quite as much as they did when I was younger.  Unfortunately I do let petty things  (and sometimes not-so-petty things – see items #2 & … Continue reading

It is NOT okay to take your own life……

I was on a train on Friday afternoon, something I haven’t done in years. And it was full of university students on their way home for the weekend. I sat at a table alongside three of these students, one to … Continue reading

Academic papers re bipolar with cool titles

“Not in their right mind”: the relation of psychopathology to the quantity and quality of creative thought
“Nothing is Absolute in Life”: Understanding Uncertainty in the Context of Psychiatric Genetic Counseling from the Perspective of those with Serious Mental Illness
How Might Circadian Rhythms Control Mood? Let Me Count the Ways…
Rumination in bipolar disorder: evidence for an unquiet mind.
[Neuropsychiatry and creativity: “Starry night” of Van Gogh].
The mythconception of the mad genius
Friedrich Nietzsche and his Illness: A Neurophilosophical Approach to Introspection

Line Forms Here For Anyone Else to Kick My Ass

It was war today. War on my kid’s head lice, and war getting her to cooperate. I laugh at parents who say, “I know, I went through it with my kids.”
I don’t think so. My kid is..frankly, she makes Linda Blair’s performance of demonic possession seem comical and tame.
Bex and I have been taking turns at the icky ickie nit picking. We have been slapped in the face, headbutted in the chin, kicked during her thrashing fits. She got me in the crotch and the boob with those flying feet of fury. She threw things, growled, screamed. Said we are horrible women and she has a horrible family who is torturing her. All the screaming she has done this week has prompted us to start running video just to prove there is no torture going on, just us trying to get at her with a lice comb.
Since my mother’s tirade about how I don’t care about my kid,they will take her away from me, (and allegedly telling my kid mommy doesn’t love her) I have become uber paranoid about being investigated by child wellfare people. And my little angel,while in some ways a normal five year old,she is also manipulative, she lies, she likes you until you tell her the word no then starts in on how you’re mean and mistreat her.
She, combined with my insane mother, have me a nervous fucking wreck even if on the outside, I am trying to seem cool, calm, and collected. It’s not apathy. It’s trying not to transfer my anxieties onto her.It’s that whole shark/blood in the water thing. My kid will feed on any weakness I display and use it to her advantage. So I bottle up what a basketcase i really am and just try to deal best I can with this situation. Lice is not nice, but it ain’t ebola, either.
We were invited to R’s by his wife earlier this week. The instant she found out about the lice, she basically started yelling at him, “Rescind the offer!”
Like I’d take her around people at this moment.
What irks me is this woman has a degree in the healthcare field and she is convinced only dirty, poor people get lice. Last year when this happened, once the kid was finally declared lice free, Mrs. R interrogated me about how did she get them, who gave it to her, best not ever let her play with them again. Oh, and my favorite, “My kids never got that, I’ve always kept an immaculate house.”
This is where I have to give credit to R. No matter how he irritates me at times,on this lice thing,he has been totally relaxed and cool. He raised three girls alone and they all came home with it once a year. By his wife’s standards, that would make him poor and dirty and a lowlife. I cannot grasp such ignorance in his highly educated wife.
I asked him if she was going to have a hazmat team in the house since I’ve been there this week thus I’ve been exposed to the icky ickies.
He said, “Hey, we get them, so what.’
When your own family is treating you like a leper colony over the whole bit…That kind of intelligence, supportiveness, and relaxed attitude count for so much.
And no, I get that no one wants to risk a head lice infestation. Like we wanted it. Best you can do is suck it up and deal.
Mom hasn’t even called to check on this child she seemed so convinced I was being neglectful of (am I the first person who missed head lice in a kid????). Dad keeps calling wanting to know why we haven’t taken care of it already.
Hi-larious. “Isn’t there something you can do to just wash them out?”
Sure,the chemical laden toxic chemicals can do that. You’re still stuck with dozens and dozens of nits that have to be removed by hand.With a kid who channels satan and physically lashes out so you can’t even get the comb near her head and she’s already screaming that you are hurting her…Yeah,it’s a process.
The ignorance-and I mean the definition of that word, as in not armed with the knowledge to grasp the concept- just makes me wish we did live on a leper colony,far from these narrow minded, judgmental, and basically ignorant people.
I get a giggle wondering what Mrs. R would do if she knew a week or two back he’d gone to see some friends who told him, after he’d already been there on the furniture, “We’re fighting a bed bug infestation.”
Pretty sure she’d have the house condemned and call the cdc to have him placed in an isolation tent.

So…tough day in every way. My body aches from my kid kicking my ass. My ears are raw from all her screaming,much of which was prior to a comb ever getting near her hair. My mood managed to stay in the mid zone even if my anxiety and agitation were off the charts.
That came crashing down by 3 pm. I got so sleepy and lethargic and just…mentally overdrawn.I wanted to batcave then and there. I just didn’t want any more noise or human contact or the sound of my kid’s voice and whiplash personality switches. We got video of the couple of times she was actually cooperative with the combing. Two positive clips verses about ten channeling satan episodes. But gotta be optimistic even when faced with overwhelming pessimism.

About the only thing I did today other than comb her hair and try not to spaz out with panic…was cook two meals. I kept looking at it all and reminding myself, Bex keeps doing all this,it’s my turn…And even guilting myself couldn’t shake that “deer in the headlights” paralysis that is a hallmark of a mood disorder.

By 5pm, I’d had all I could take and declared batcave time. All three of us were exhausted and oddly, zonked out before 6 pm.
Me, on the other hand, an hour before unable to keep my eyes open, suddenly couldn’t get my anxiety under control or keep my head from churning. I was so tired, but I tossed and turned and couldn’t get comfortable. Then at one point, I nodded off…Only to be woken by the phone, which sent the anxiety right into the stratosphere. Took me a half hour after to get back to the comfy sleepy place. Only to be woken by my kid who was demanding a cat to love her so she could go back to sleep. Juju went under the bus, so to speak, but the cat likes laying in bed with Spook so it’s not like I threw the cat under all the wheels.
So…anxiety,spinning thoughts…and finally nodding off again.
Only to be wakened by the phone again.
I tried to calm down and just go back to sleep. It wasn’t happening and I gave up.
So I come here to rant and sound like an utterly babbling idiot.

I even feel guilty for feeling so low, so exhausted, so anxious and paranoid. Hell, someone knocked on the door wanting to bum a smoke and I nearly threw up with panicky feelings. Phones,knocks on doors,it all sets me into a tailspin.

And I have one more bit of proof that I am circling the drain mentally.
It’s October 9th and I don’t have my Halloween decorations up. I even had them up by the first of October even after The Donor walked out. Halloween is my only true happy time of year. And the depression and anxiety and exhaustion are sucking the joy out of it for me.It’s like, why bother.
For every other holiday,that is my normal mentality.
For Halloween? This is like my mind having been replaced by a pod person. This is not me.

I had planned to bite the bullet and call the shrink’s office this week. My daughter’s hair icky ickies have thrown a wrench into everything. I know it’s not her fault (well,except for having to hug every person she sees, including perfect strangers, no matter how many times we have all tried to explain it’s not appropriate.)

I need a shower. I need a good night’s sleep. I need to win the lottery and move as far away from my family as possible.

I don’t need a Magic 8 ball to tell me I’m not likely to get any of that right now.

I will aim low and at least try the shower thing.I mean,I showered yesterday so it’s not like I’m circling the hygiene drain. YET.

I am falling down the rabbit hole. That’s not personality or drama or pessimism.
It’s called seasonal affect disorder and the fact my doctors have never seen how non functional I get every year at this time tells me…
I am screwed.
There’s another telepsych doc there and I saw him once when Dr V was on leave, he seemed nice enough. I wonder if I could ask to transfer to him.
Least he wasn’t mocking me with all the nods and smiles and “You made my day by being so well.”

I am beginning to wonder if I just need to drive to some remote place and engage in some primal scream therapy. Nothing else is working, maybe it’s time to think outside the box and color outside the lines.

First things first…
The lice must die, their eggs must be eradicated, and next time I comb her hair…I am gonna go to the shop and get some bubble wrap for me and Bex to use as body armor.
One day,I will post the video clips on line because I am sure everyone thinks I am being dramatic.
Becca thought that prior to getting here.
Now she KNOWS. I don’t need to create drama.
I gave birth to the drama llama.

Fricken Moles

Several years ago I had a large precancerous mole on my back, it left a rather horrible scar but instilled the fear in me that I needed to check my body monthly for more of these little buggers.

As mentioned yesterday my husband found a couple of moles during our monthly search and today I decided to see a doctor as opposed to my therapist. Turns out I likely have a smaller version of one of those same moles. Lovely.

I go to the dermatologist at 7:30am next Friday to likely have it removed. I was assured it’s not melanoma so that is good at least. I am upset, when I should be somewhat relieved. Not dealing with this all that well.

The depression is definitely not helping at all. It’s just making it so I am unable to find happiness in much of anything and have little to no strength to pick my ass off the couch and do anything anyhow.

Screw you depression!!! I painted a little today and watched a cheesy movie.. I win for today.