Daily Archives: March 24, 2015

look before you linkdump

“Not to be mad would amount to another kind of madness.” (Pascal)

“I’m Persian, made in Iran pre-revolution, born in America mid-revolution, bred in Ohio post-revolution. I place trust in signs, in duty, in divinity — things that psychotherapists often dismiss as incidental, if not superstitious or worse yet, symptomatic. The couch is not the place for me.”
A Persian in Therapy

Here’s one for the bipolar twos: 
“Unlike depression, though, hypomania is intrinsically pleasurable. It is a better-than-well state that often confers a heightened sense of creativity and power. So what is the down side to hypomania?”
When Bipolar Masquerades as a Happy Face

Various stats and facts about how bipolar happens. “And contrary to the researchers’ expectations, the 82 patients with bipolar II disorder did not spend more time in depressive states than did the 69 bipolar I disorder patients.”
Recurrence dominates bipolar illness course.

“It turns out that bipolar disorder has a genetic link to at least four other mental illnesses: autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), major unipolar depression and schizophrenia.”
5 genetically linked mental disorders – there’s a decent breakdown of current theories on the causes of disorders too.

This one makes perfect sense and gives solid advice about what to watch out for.
Subthreshold mania signals impending bipolarity in children of bipolar patients

I don’t agree with absolutely everything in this HuffPost blog post, but there’s a lot that makes sense to me. An interesting read regardless.
Learning to welcome a bipolar diagnosis

“A young woman who jumped from a 50ft balcony because she believed she could fly hopes that her story will help bring further understanding about mental health.”
Rachel Edwards, a bipolar WordPress blogger in Suffolk, England.

Healthcare professionals are invited to participate in Three Brand New Online Learning Modules on Bipolar Depression.

Paul Dalio, director of Mania Days talks about his motivation for making the film. Dalio, who has bipolar said, “You have to create a tragedy so that people don’t live it.”

In the mood to be enraged and outraged?


$cientology & mental health. Fuckers. Their policy kills people. F.U.C.K.E.R.S. If you are a $cientologist, kindly piss off before I summon a hillbilly, a pit bill, Dyane and a shotgun.

We have bipolar weather, governments, economies and moody attention seeking brats and now … Kera and The Lesbians: Bipolar folk for the world traveler
Apparently they “…lovingly refer to their musical style as ‘bipolar folk’. Bipolar in the sense that in one song drummer Michael will pound his drums, expelling his demons with sheer force, while Kera croons and screams and serenades, enchanting all within earshot.” source

Make a note in your mood tracker diary …


One Order of Darkness, Please!

Originally posted on The Truth Ache:

secretI will let you in on a secret. I will tell you a secret about myself that I don’t talk about, that I don’t think about, but live with. I am sorry to say it isn’t a dirty little secret nor will anyone be that astonished. It may not be understood by anyone, but it is my reality. And the secret is…I like the darkness.

Let me back up a couple of steps so that you can understand. There are important steps to know when coming not only to terms with your own mental illness but when you have teach others about the diseases. Trying to entertain while still teaching about a subject I know like the back of my brain without scaring my family (and husband) out of their wits is difficult. There are certain truths that you have to lightly touch on and others that you simply have…

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Finding a Therapist That Works for Me


By Lois Caniglia

 It hasn’t been easy for me to connect with a psychiatrist (pMD) or therapist. It took me a number of years before I could accept my mental illness. In my first set of blogs, I only scratched the surface of my failed relationships when it came to finding a psychiatrist (Dr Candyman) and psychotherapist. I went through three pMD’s before accepting my illness and ready to comply with an effective treatment. I find that just like diabetes, it takes time to find that right mode of treatment. My mental illness has been even more intense than that. I went through 3 pMD’s, 2 therapists and 1 support grp before landing upon the right treatment plan and counselor that could help me.

As a bipolar, I know that I can suffer with a love-hate relationship with my psychotherapist. I did not allow for proper closure when firing my last two therapists. Meaning, I stormed out of both offices, never to return again. My abrupt escalation of disappointments left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty taking long breaks before trying another therapist.

Before being diagnosed, I have become an expert at burning bridges which alarmed me that something was wrong. It is really out of character for me to act in such a manner. I used to be a dependable, enthusiastic, and loyal employee up until then. The difficulty to maintain employment for more than 3-6 months warranted my seeking the appropriate diagnosis and effective treatment plan to return to a natural state of balance.

Here are some tips I can share when finding a psychotherapist that works for me.

1. Doc Candyman provided me with several therapist names for me. If he didn’t, I would have asked him myself. It has been my experience that an internist is not properly equipped to refer a psychotherapist.

2. ASK: I would ask a support group, a medical personnel in psychiatry or a case management worker. These are just a few of the professionals with the knowledge or experience who I find qualified in recommending a therapist.

3. I did my research. Once I had a few therapist names; I looked up their credentials. I called the office to find out if my insurance would cover. Some therapist advertise their specific specialty. Such as: counselor for bipolar, substance abuse, family counseling, etc. I also search psychotherapist patient reviews on websites.

4. I chose the therapist that was right for me. I shopped around before choosing my therapist that I have now. During our first few sessions, I wanted to get to know each other. I made sure there was a workable connection to our relationship. I told myself that I must be willing to accept the unexpected. If a little ‘tough love’ goes against my grain, I need to pause and not jump to my own conclusions. Which leads into my last tip.

5. Giving it time. I’ve only been with my new therapist for 7 months. My therapist provides me an evaluation survey on his effectiveness towards my wellness. It’s in my nature to be openly honest and straight-forward but that has frequently come back to bite me. I remain reserved in how I choose to handle my sessions. Still, I try to be honest with myself to ensure that I receive the most effective therapy I can.

I hope that you will find these tips as helpful as I have. I enjoy the feedback and comments from my readers. It ensures me that I am making a connection. I don’t have a bipolar/mental health support group that I can attend. Connecting with others who also struggle with some kind of mental illness would help in my own recovery. 


RESILIENCE: THE SCIENCE OF MASTERING LIFE’S GREATEST CHALLENGES by Dennis S. Charney, MD – Dean Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai RESILIENCE PRESCRIPTION Positive Attitude Optimism is strongly related to resilience Optimism is, in part, genetic but can be learned…

In Our Own Voice

So the training began early Friday morning.  We met at a local church; there were five of us there for the training and two trainers, Marci and Monica.  The other participants were from Oxford, Hattiesburg, Gautier,and another girl from Brandon. (It was all women).  We introduced ourselves and afterward watched Marci and Monica do a sample presentation from their own experiences.

We then worked through the presentation in sections.  Each section of our presentation can only be three minutes long.  We did Introduction, Dark Days, and Acceptance the first day and Treatment, Coping Skills, and Successes, Hopes and Dreams the second day.  Each of us got up and practiced our presentation for each section.  We also have a DVD to play during the presentation and so learned how to manage that.

Each section presented it’s own difficulties for me.  My story is so long and drawn out that I can’t hardly condense it down to three minutes–I wound up shorting it considerably and talking too fast to try to get it all in during such a short time.  During the Dark Days segment, I concentrated on the year before I had my first big breakdown.  Acceptance consisted of me telling about coming to Jesus and finally accepting that there was a reason for me to have this disease even through I did not know what  it was at the time.  In Treatment, we talk about medication ad therapy without endorsing specific medicines.  In Coping Skills we talked about what we did to manage day-to-day.  I talked about prayer, a low-stress life, my bogging, and my church activities.  And in Successes, Hopes, and Dreams, I talked about how coping daily was a success and that I hopes to one day be able to share my story in a book.

My main goals in improving my talk are to slow down, speak more extemporaneously, and be as open as I can about my problems. So I plan to practice and see what I can do to improve in those areas.  It was a very enjoyable training–Marci and Monica made it fun even though the subject matter is very serious.   I talked to the executive director of our local group, and she said she would go ahead and start trying to line up places for me to speak.  So I am looking forward to that.  Wish me grace in the places I go that I can get my message across and tell my story in a way that helps people.

Male Followers RUN!–It’s Fiction Time….

readerIf you are a male and a follower or visitor, you will want to move quickly away. Ladies, we have more fiction up! Here you go.

If you are a new follower or visitor I wrote this story quite a while ago when I was feeling GOOD! (If you’re bipolar you know what that means…)

For anyone following my health saga, the headaches are still here but are milder. I still haven’t been out much because I don’t do anything when I have a headache.

I really think it was going off the Lexapro cold turkey that is causing this. One of you guys suggested it and I think you are right. I got on the net and read these horror stories of getting off of Lexapro. Headaches are always mentioned. But I want to stay off of it now and not go backwards. Meds suck.

hugs all,


Tripping the Light Atlantic

Relatives on my father's side are a bit verbose...why not just write: "Oh ffs?!"

My father’s side are a bit verbose…why not “Oh ffs!”?

Disclaimer: To quote the copy of “Brideshead Revisted” that is currently MIA on one of our many bookshelves:

“I am not me. You are not you.”

…or something like that. Yes, I could look up the quote on the net, but I refuse to do that with a book I have actually read, own, and could find, if only I could figure out where the hell it is.

This is “based on a true story“, as they say at the beginning of all the best films (1)

Once upon a time, I had the standard number of grandparents. (2) Two of them travelled from Tennessee to Michigan, to find work. The other two took large, slow boats across a big, cold ocean from Transylvania to America for adventure – in the case of my then-17-year-old grandfather, who had not yet earned the name “Mosu” (3) – and to keep house for her brother (4), in the case of my 15-year-old grandmother, who later became known as “Mama Buna”.

Both sets, I suspect though do not know for certain in the case of my Southern grandparents, faced struggles, including prejudice. Certainly the Romanian ones fought the local Irish immigrants for jobs, and for … well, whatever reasons the most recent immigrants sometimes fight with the previous arrivals.

Times were hard, for all concerned. All four were born within a 10 year span which meant they lived and worked through WW1, the “Spanish” flu (5), the Great Depression, and WWII.

A Romanian Dance Troop in Indianapolis, ca 1913. My grandfather is the handsome one on the bottom right.

A Romanian Dance Troop in Indianapolis, ca 1913. My grandfather is the handsome one on the bottom right.

Fast forward a whole lotta years, and the development of flight from rickety contraptions no one but the early aviators would dare go up in, to the transatlantic flights of the mid 1980s. And the refinement of the telephone from something barely advanced from Bell shouting for Watson, to landlines which were capable of transatlantic calls, if you didn’t mind paying through the ear, throat and nose.

I fell in love. With my pen pal. Who just happened to be English. And lived next door to God. Which is to say, in Yorkshire.

The City of York: a city of love.

The City of York: a city of love.

So, I moved to Yorkshire, to be with my new husband. It took some time, and form filling, and to-ing and fro-ing. Which is annoying when you’re young, and in love, and just want to be together. But, to the extent that a fairly impatient person can accept anything, I did.

Because it was worth it. Because he was, and still is, worth that wait.

Fast forward a few more years, and a considerable decaying of accent, later. Attitudes towards foreigners in both my home country, and my adopted one, shifted. In a way that was far from pleasant.

I decided to do this:

The day I officially added the "Anglo" to "American": Citizenship Day, 2010

The day I officially added the “Anglo” to “American”: Citizenship Day, 2010

The process of becoming a British citizen involved time, paperwork, the “Life in the UK” test (6), and a lot of dosh. And was done as much for emotional reasons, as the right to finally – after around 25 years – be able to add the description “voter” to my already existing ones of “resident alien”, and, let’s not forget, “taxpayer”.

During the ceremony, I sat in one of the chairs at the Mansion House, holding the “death card” which the funeral home produced when Mosu died, aged 104.

Because I remembered that he, and later Mama Buna, both went through a similar process, to become US citizens. Because he was proud of both his Romanian heritage, and his US citizenship.

Because he, and the rest of Dad’s family, taught me it’s perfectly possible to wear two nationalities with pride.

Whether that be Romanian-American, Anglo-American, Romanian-British, Black British, Asian British … the list, and the possibilities, are endless.

And the pot is as ready for the melting, as for stirring.

Pass the spoon, please.

"There was a time when strangers were welcome here...!

“There was a time when strangers were welcome here…”

(1) Unlike the films, this really *is* a true story.
(2) Which is probably something like 4.2 on average, if you figure in step-grandparents
(3) Literally “old man”, it also means “grandfather”
(4) “Only for six months”, she told her mum. It ended up being more like 80 years.
(5) It killed more people than WW1.
(6) There is, and was, also a test to check potential citizens’ abilities to speak English. I was spared this, for some reason.





Merry Sidekick

As part of my quest for living a better life with bipolar disorder, I spent this past weekend in Minneapolis/St. Paul, reweaving connections with old and dear friends, and sending out a few new runners.  These are the kind of friends who will make me stand in their kitchen until they understand the difference between rapid cycling and mixed state; the kind of friends who find a restaurant for lunch on the other side of town because it will accommodate both their Paleo diet and my vegan preferences; the kind of friends who make me laugh until I have to hop to the bathroom to avoid leakage.

And when I have a melt-down (as I did on Saturday), these are the kind of friends who let me bolt back to my hotel without offense, who will hold my insecurities and shame like a porcelain bowl until I can shake the ashes into the trash.  We can say to each other after a morning of coffee and gab, “Are we done?  I’m done.”

These are people who allow me to be myself, who are honest and clear, who look at me with compassion and see all.  They are the keepers of my history since I can’t remember it.  They fit forgotten pieces into place.  They restore me.

This is a difficult time of year for those of us with Seasonal Affective elements included in the bipolar disorder.  Spring brings chaos, fluctuations in mood, and, for me, warp speed cycling.  This is the time of year I am most likely to be hospitalized.  I need the support of people who love me, but my tolerance for stimulation and novelty is severely limited.  It’s a quandary.  But my friends are willing to walk this weird tightrope with me.  And when I can rise up from the ashes, I am grateful.

Easter Time Sadness

There’s something about the sudden change in the air. We don’t have seasons here, we are propelled from Summer to Winter within the space of a week, with little time to adjust. But there’s something about that drop in temperature. That earlier sunset. That cloudy sky. The smell of flora finally allowed to flourish now that the heat has subsided. Rain! What is this rain? We celebrate those fat drops of water. Our grass starts to green again after months of dehydration and water restrictions.

It should be blessed relief. The sun doesn’t beat down with such a vengeance, burning the roads, the houses, the children in their 50SPF sun cream. The mercury doesn’t relentlessly soar past forty degrees (104F). We don’t have constantly choose between the extortionate expense of running the air conditioner, or lying in bed covered in wet flannels. I start to venture outside again. Walk again. I savor the air around me. I can breathe. I sit at the beach and laugh at the cool breeze that tickles my face. March and April in Western Australia is the feeling you get when you dive into a pool on a stinking hot day. Relief. I love this time of year. I love it.

But, oh, how I hate it too.

Every single time I have been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons it has been during March/April. I have eaten my Easter eggs, alone, in a psychiatric ward multiple times. Nearly all of my severe episodes (depression and manic) have started around this time of year. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I can do to stop it.

So here I am, late March, and I feel that pull of sadness upon me. Smell is so evocative. I smell the changes in the air, and feel the temperature drop and immediately experience flashbacks. Admission to hospital. Pills. Sickness. Doctors. Nurses. IV’s. Catheters. Surgery. Suddenly I’m locked in a bathroom trying to strangle myself. Then I’m being given a bite block for ECT. I’m being held down by staff and injected. I’m crying. I’ve lost it all. I can’t go through this again. Please don’t let me go through it again.

I shy away from the Easter eggs in the shops, as if by merely seeing them I will plunge into darkness once more. Superstitiously, I donate the clothes that I wore around this time last year, and buy new things, as if that is enough to hang on to my mood. I refuse to think about anything upsetting. I throw myself into work, into cooking, into TV shows. Anything to keep the darkness at bay.

But I’m not sleeping.

It’s then I realize that my journey isn’t over. I survived last year. My autoimmune disease is in remission and my bipolar is stable. But it’s never over. There is no cure. I’ve been so confident. So happy. So sure that the hell I have been through is enough. Enough pain. Enough expense. Enough trouble. I never really considered the possibility of it coming back, despite warnings from my medical team.

But here I am. Considering that possibility. I’m so tired of constantly having to fight for what other people seem to achieve quite naturally.


But weary though I am, I pick myself up and breathe in the fragrant air. I feel the wind in my hair. I accept the beauty of this season. Then I go home and take my medication. Put on my pyjamas. Cook something I love. I wrap my arms around my knees and look after myself, a little more than I do normally. I tell myself that I’m ok. That the change in season doesn’t necessitate a change in stability.

I tell myself that this Easter is different. Because of course it is the first in over a decade where I haven’t heard voices. Imagine that? I tell myself that I’m ok. Because I am. Truly.

This is a time of reflection and healing. It’s a time of learning and change. And as the anniversary of my hospital admission looms, I realize that it’s a time to recognize just how far I have come.

Things I’m Loving Right Now

Maybe it’s the new meds, maybe it’s spring finally arriving, but I feel pretty good. Let me share with you things I’ve been enjoying of late:

  • small batch coffee roasters and small batch indie beauty companies
  • HAIM (the band)
  • spending time on my beauty routine
  • M&M’s
  • “springifying” my home
  • actually feeling attractive and desirable again
  • aromatherapy

I’ve been more successful in quieting the inner critic in my head and much, much better at taking care of myself, though I still have a ways to go in that respect. Please share in the comments if spring’s arrival is helping you, and any things you’re currently loving!

Filed under: Coffee Snob, natural-organic beauty, Self Discovery Tagged: beauty, coffee, medication, music