Daily Archives: December 17, 2014

Captain’s Blog, Mixed State 47634.44

Day 9 of this so called Mixed State and to be honest, nobody has a clue where we are.

The Manic Sector?


The Agitated Sector?


The Depressed Sector?


All of the above, frequently all at once. Yes, it does get confusing. What’s binary about bipolar?


Btw I am actually #teamstarwars


Trigger warnings for suicide.


Looking for a suicidal Christmas song? The BBC has got you covered in an eye-poppingly bizarre way.

“I walked you to the infirmary, the cuts were deep so they sent you to sleep. It was 1987, you had just been diagnosed with manic depression. You said, “Next time I do it, I’m gonna do it well”. I just told you to go to hell.’

The chorus goes: “Slashed wrists this Christmas, lifeless and listless.”

The BBC describes the tunes, by artists including Rufus Wainwright, Blink-182 and The Futureheads as ‘sweet ’n’ sombre’.

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen such formally punctuated song lyrics btw. If you’re feeling masochistic, here it is on YouTube. As a connoisseur of dark, sad ballads, I have to say that even if this one wasn’t very fucking cruel, it’s still a really shitty song. Hipsters must be past their sell by date, because they’re trying way too hard these days. Gruff Rhys, you’re a knob. People really do kill themselves at Christmas, you imbecile.

Feel free to click the thumbs down icon under that music video.

[Internalized stigmatization in bipolar patients: relationship with clinical properties, quality of life and treatment compliance].
I’ve only read the abstract. Could be interesting, the claim is that internal stigmatisation affects clinical outcomes. Embrace your bipolar? Hmmm.

Sad, inspiring, disheartening, frustrating, humbling … not an easy read (guilt), but a very worthwhile one next.

Laura says she can never move forward because her son never stops dying.
“Schizophrenia is not a casserole illness,” she says — no one is bringing food to the door. Nor are they staging fundraisers, as they do for cancer patients. “Who’s going to come to a fundraiser for my son?” she asks bitterly. “To them, he’s a problem.”
The Fortunate Mother: Caring for a son with schizophrenia

In a recent roundup, I linked to an article about mental healthcare in my own country (South Africa), that said 3/4 of mental health patients do not get any treatment at all. Here’s a photo essay showing psych meds stocks in a Gauteng hospital. They’re truly shitty photos, but the message is there nonetheless.

6th in a series about dying, this article might horrify you, but I think it’s valuable info. Living wills, people … we needs ‘em.

To offset that a bit, here is a positive look at getting a bipolar diagnosis.

Return to Involuntary Institutionalization?

In 1963 President Kennedy signed The Community Health Centers Act. The purpose of the Act was to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill and support them through community mental health clinics. The law drew enthusiastic bipartisan support. Fiscal conservatives were interested in saving funds by shutting state hospitals. Civil rights advocates believed that mental patients needed to […]

The post Return to Involuntary Institutionalization? appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

I Do Not Like My MIL today

Yesterday I was in a really great mood. I was happy and wanted to continue this mood, it was making me look forward to the holidays in my little prison here. Yet that had to change.

Last night the voice finale was on as was the finale for ink master. We watched the first hour of the voice then switched over to tattoo nightmare. Everyone was ok with this. Near the end of the hour MIL got impatient and went upstairs to find out the voice winner then came down and told us who it was.. let’s put it this way never watching that show again..

Anyhoo.. the news came on after all this shit and i asked if anyone was going to watch the news since I’ve been advised by my therapist to not watch it as it really affects my moods. Normally we just don’t so I was hoping I could put on something happier. Then I am sure just to be a bitch went, ya I’m watching it.

So I said fine I’m going to bed. I was hoping hubby would join me but he waited 30 mins which made my mind start to wander and become angrier and hate filled. I’m sure she heard me call her a fucking bitch through our door last night and I don’t care.

This is the only TV I can watch actual televsion on, she has one in her room that is hooked up to cable. If she didn’t want to watch ink master she could have said something.. she didn’t have to be a fucking snot..

anyhow, today my mood is still pissy. I feel like she ruined my happy and am not sure how to get it back causwe I just want to slap her in the face and say stop being so fucking selfish all the time.. ugh.

I mean she is like this with everything, she gave us every single thing we had around the house to stuff into the room, cause she doesn’t like sharing her space. We’re like prisoners that are allowed out to watch tv occasionally. it’s painful.


I Knew What Was Coming

I bought my ticket in advance.  I put on lipstick.  But I knew what was coming.

Thorin BoFAThe Hobbit has been one of my favorite books since I was in junior high.  I wrote my Senior Thesis on Tolkien.  I’m in love with Richard Armitage.  But I knew what was coming.

Everyday for the last few weeks, I’ve whipped from depression to hysteria.  I wondered, since I knew what was coming, if going to the movie now was wise.

But, I went to the premiere last night and sat in a full house of other Tolkien geeks who cheered and wailed along with me. Because we knew what was coming.  And it was glorious.

And as an additional kick to the emotional gonads, Billy Boyd (Pippin from The Lord of the Rings) sings the theme song.  In this YouTube piece, his song overlays all six of the movies Peter Jackson crafted from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings along with behind the scenes moments.  Those are mostly of the cast and crew saying their own farewells.  Excuse me while I go get another box of Kleenex.

The Process

Social Security goes through a step-by step process to determine if you are medically eligible for benefits.  The first step is to collect your medical records.  If you have been treated for your condition, you need to turn that information in.  List all doctors, counselors, hospitals, mental health centers, and other treatment facilities you have been in. Social Security pays those entities to send your records in to them.  If you haven’t been able to afford regular treatment, Social Security can send you to a medical professional for a complete evaluation that they pay for. This doctor cannot treat you; they simply do an evaluation that they then send to Social Security.

With bipolar disorder, a key factor in being allowed for benefits is the frequency of your episodes.  I was found eligible because I had experienced both manic and depressive episodes at a certain frequency.  You can also be found eligible depending on the type of difficulty you are having working.  You can be allowed on what is called your “mental residual functional capacity” which is Social Security’s term for what kinds of work functions you are still able to perform.  If you are found unable to do skilled or unskilled work, you can be allowed for benefits.  If you have restrictions in being able to interact with people, you can be found eligible as well.

When reporting your symptoms, particularly if you do not have regular treatment, be as specific and honest as possible.  If you are taking medication and have side effects, make sure you report those as well, particularly if you have had to discontinue certain medications because of the severity of the side effects.  If you are noncompliant with treatment, that can affect whether or not Social Security will allow you for benefits, depending on the situation.  If you have co-existing diagnoses, be sure to include those in your information as well.

I was sent on an exam by Social Security, but since I had regular treatment, I was able to schedule the appointment with my treating psychiatrist.  The exam consisted of my doctor asking me about my current functioning day to day and about my difficulties working.  Depending on your diagnosis, you may also do psychological testing, such as IQ testing and memory testing.

If you are allowed for benefits, you will get a notification from Social Security telling you your onset date (when you became eligible) and how much you will receive in benefits.  Keep this letter for your records.  If you are denied, you have avenues to appeal this decision.  Do not get discouraged if you are denied the first time.  Tell the Social Security office that you want to appeal this decision.  Your case will be reviewed again by the agency that issued the denial, depending on if you were denied because of medical or financial considerations. IF you are denied again, you can appeal that decision as well, going before a judge versed in Social Security law.  Contrary to what some may tell you, you do not need a lawyer to appeal to the judge—you can handle your own appeals.  Avenues for appeal exist even after this level—Social Security can inform you about your options at that point.

Stephen Fry and Bipolar

You’ve seen Stephen Fry: The secret life of a manic depressive haven’t you? It’s on YouTube if you haven’t. I think it’s my favourite documentary about this neurobloodyillogical neurobiological disorder we have. It’s two hours of solidly good viewing, I watched it on the Beeb when ot came out (2004? 5?) and again after my diagnosis this year.

Trigger warnings for suicide stuff. Also spoilers by the fuckload. Many words too, the damn thing is full of them. And the screenies are from YouTube and comments.


Happy?! I remember that … seven years old, ice cream, holiday … not since then really.

I love the way Carrie Fisher explains mania – so joyously theatrical. Guilty lol at Stephen saying, “And she’s on medication, imagine if she weren’t.”

Since he has a damn fine brain, he researches as deeply as possible and since he has incredible wit, there are delightful breaks in the generally sombre information. He went for an MRI and then had his DNA tested, “My DNA! It’s so attractive, I knew it would be.” And of course, he manages to be inspiring, because he’s one of the few openly bipolar celebs who does and says more than, yeah I hadda speak out to fight stigma. It’s also great to be able to identify with him, isn’t it? He’s lovely.

There’s a major message there too, for all of us weighed down by self loathing and all of those who try to convince us otherwise. He’s successful, but more than that, he is a much loved figure – and deep down he sees only worthlessness. He’s attempted suicide more than once as well. If you want an in-depth look at what makes Stephen who he is, his three (3!) autobiographies are as well written and self-effacing as you’d expect.


As an interviewer, he is so, so kind and empathetic with people, children and adults alike. And always thoroughly respectful. I suspect that his attitude would work with any kind of issue at all, it’s utterly gracious.

He asks a man whose career and marriage were wrecked by it and whose suicide attempt left incredible scars, if he wished he wasn’t bipolar. The man said the answer was an easy no, because he’d walked with angels. That’s a clear case of psychosis without insight, but he seemed perfectly fit, active and happy, so I certainly won’t judge him.

When he asks people if they would take a cure for bipolar, most of them say no, despite it being, ‘the greatest killer of all psychiatric illnesses’. Personally, I’d say yes with alacrity. You? Credit due, he then went and spoke to someone who’d say yes in a heartbeat. She once tried to drill a hole in her head – and for anyone reading who thinks that’s crazy, it’s not. It’s pain. Picture your mind as the worst torture imaginable, now imagine you’re trapped there.

Googling news about him shows that although documentaries end, bloodypolar bipolar doesn’t. There was another suicide attempt in 2013. Still, he survives and advocates beautifully for and with the rest of us. Thank you Mr Fry.


11 years after his initial diagnosis of ‘mild’ bipolar (cyclothymia), when he refused lithium for the usual reasons, Stephen discovered that his condition was worsening and decided to start medication.

I have screamed in the faces of people who didn’t deserve it. (Richard Dreyfuss)

Dreyfuss is very compelling on the subject of medication. He’s a walking advertisement for it too. And he also has ADD and anxiety to deal with.

A psychiatrist tells Stephen some sobering stuff, that bipolar patients are symptomatic for almost half their lives, that cognitive dulling occurs in both the disorder and the meds that treat it, that if you stop and start lithium you will have more manic episodes than if you’d never taken it … fun times!


Stephen’s depression on camera is an interesting thing to see, poor dude. He has 3 or 4 episodes of depression per year and they each last a week to 10 days. How does that compare to yours? Not that I’m trying to host the suffering olympics.

Here’s more on the Zoe Schwarz segment. This is one of the saddest things I’ve read; it’s her parents on the subject of her suicide.

Could anyone have convinced her otherwise? We will never know. If only, while she was such a bundle of morosity and self-absorption, we had kissed her more often.

The collateral damage of manic depression is so bloody and so hellish. Poor things, those kisses very probably wouldn’t have helped much at all.

I learned that Andy Behrman’s teeny daughter had an Electrobaby tshirt and that the sectioning laws in the UK are freaking draconian. Guys, we need to look at our own countries’ laws asap. Mark Salter said, of sectioned patients, “Nine and a half punters leave here happy!”


“I can’t even write about being depressed when I’m depressed,” said Cordelia, neatly summing up the dilemma of creativity and bipolar. Manic = enormous creativity, depressed = none and the fear of the middle of the range being … bland. “I wouldn’t press the button and live a normal life,” said Stephen, “not for all the tea in China.” And there it ends, without him saying yea or nay about medication.

Well, I was unmedicated and bipolar for most of four decades. Show me that button I’ll probably break bones scrambling desperately to push it.

Stuck In The Middle With You

I realized something today as I was “chatting” with some of my friends on Facebook about yesterday’s blog post. Several of them mentioned that I might still be in a bit of denial about my illness, as I tend to perseverate on the idea of reducing my medications in the face of overwhelming evidence that this is NOT a good idea. At first I was somewhat defensive—getting that bipolar 1 diagnosis put an end to any illusions about the nature of the disease—but then it occurred to me that there is a subtle difference between merely not being in denial and fully accepting a thing. And I am stuck in the middle.

I’m not sure why this is, and I’m not going to ruminate on it for long because that won’t get me any closer to resolving it. But knowing I still have some acceptance work to do is something of a disappointment. So many times I’ve thought that battle was over, and yet evidence keeps surfacing that it isn’t. Good Lord, you’d think that after almost three years of fighting this thing, I’d have surrendered to its reality. But while I am no longer denying the presence of the illness itself, I have yet to come to terms with it.

As usual, my friends reminded me that it’s not how many or how few pills I need to control the beast. The fact is the meds help me, and messing with dosages would be foolish, which is why Dr. Awesomesauce is leaving them the way they are. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Yet I still dream of a day when I’ve been stable for long enough that we can try cutting down…..not wanting to admit that day may never arrive. It shouldn’t matter. It does. And I don’t know what it’ll take to get me to the point where it won’t.

What I do know is that I’m grateful for the wisdom shared by so many wonderful people. They’ve seen me through both depression and mania, darkness and light, thick and thin. I take their counsel seriously because they want only the best for me. Sometimes they are sympathetic, and sometimes I get my butt handed to me, but at no time have I ever had to question their motives. I’m pretty choosy about the people I allow to be close to me, but overall, I have the best support system on the planet…..and it’s because of them that I’m still here, trying to figure out how to get unstuck. :-)




For the S.A.D. in all us