Daily Archives: July 9, 2015


I have mentioned a number of times that a major motivation for doing this blog was to help get information about what living with bipolar is really like into the world. Part of the reason information needs to get out there is because of the stereotyping and stigma associated with mental illness. The reality is […]


I have mentioned a number of times that a major motivation for doing this blog was to help get information...

The post Martyr appeared first on Pretending to be What We Are.

Parenting My Teen

Manipulated photo of my son at the beach. Made to look like a painting.

So, I decided to change psychotherapists. Not an easy decision for me to make. Except during the nine months we lived in Eugene and the two years we lived in the Mojave Desert, I’ve seen the same psychologist since my son was four. As my son turns fifteen next week, that’s a pretty long-term therapeutic relationship for me. I’ve seen psychotherapists since I was an eighteen-year-old freshman at UCLA, and in August I turn fifty-two. You do the math. Obviously, I’m pretty well therapized.

Why did I decide to change therapists? Because I need to see someone who loves working with and understands today’s adolescent – my adolescent in particular (that’s a manipulated photo of him up top from our vacation last week).

This morning I spoke to my previous therapist, thanking her for her help over the years. She asked the name of my new therapist, for in her own words, she was “too old” to work with adolescents and appreciated having an excellent young therapist for adolescent referrals.

Adolescents require a certain youthful optimism and tons of energy. (Please do not attack me for ageism. The truth is sometimes wisdom is in order, sometimes youthful energy.) When I was in my twenties, I worked with adolescents as a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. Back then, I had the required vim and vigor. Now, I’m comparatively world-weary. Actually, I’m downright exhausted.

Here I summarize three relevant articles Blahpolar Diaries recently shared in her post pour me a link. Please read the articles for more details.

  • Parenting Insights for Those Who Have Bipolar Disorder (Part 1 of 2) by Brad Hoefs
    1. Children easily trigger the best of parents
    2. Never go without your medicine
    3. When you are upset with your kids and they need to be disciplined “dial-down” your reaction, until you have settled down emotionally — you are likely overacting out of the agitation and irritation of your mood.
  • 10 Tips for Supporting Children Through a Spouse’s Mental Illness by Dr. Leslie Capehart
    1. Acknowledge the Mental Illness By Giving It a Name
    2. Provide Open Communication
    3. Let Your Kids Know It’s Not Their Fault (Or Responsibility)
    4. Let Your Kids Be Kids
    5. Let Your Kids Express Their Emotions About the Challenges They Face
    6. Talk Openly as a Family
    7. Let Your Kids Know They Can Still Rely on You
    8. Create Time and Space for Your Kids
    9. Reassure Your Kids that They Are Loved
    10. Don’t Let the Mental Illness Dictate the Family Mood
  • 10 Brutal Truths About Being Married to a Bipolar Person by Maggie Ethridge
    1. When your partner is diagnosed, you won’t know what’s coming.
    2. Part of not knowing what the person’s bipolar disorder is going to look like is not knowing what they are going to be willing to do.
    3. Your partner may not have the same ideas about what it means to treat their bipolar disorder that you do.
    4. You will struggle with letting go.
    5. You will feel guilty.
    6. The medication they take might not work.
    7. …You have to throw ‘should’ out the door when having a relationship with bipolar.
    8. You will need to re-learn that taking care of yourself is important.
    9. Your relationship could become all about bipolar.
    10. Bipolar is a disease that shows up on MRIs.

Filed under: About Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Parenting, Family, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Psychotherapy Tagged: adolescence, changing psychotherapists, parenting an adolescent

#BeReal, Kitt


Here I am, being real. On a typical day, I do not shower or bathe and do not wear makeup. I am middle-aged. My gray hair,  wrinkles and turkey neck are hard-earned. This is not a Before or Ugly Duckling photo. Just is just me being real, showing you myself bare.

Thank you, HastyWords, for #BeReal, a movement to counter the #DontJudgeMeChallenge where people posted Ugly Duckling photos of themselves (before) and best possible versions of themselves (after). Thank you, Lizzi, for bringing Hasty’s #BeReal movement to my attention in the post
In a World So Quick to Judge, Just #BeReal on Sisterwives.

Hasty was unimpressed with hashtags which contribute to a bodycentric culture - so she changed the world.

The world is READY for this movement. Our body-obsessed culture NEEDS this movement. There is not a person who won’t benefit from a new way, which supports putting people first. Go on, #BeARebel – show yourself off, exactly as you are, because YOU ARE WONDERFUL.

Show yourself off on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, on Tumblr, in Real Life, and be YOU. Be Beautiful. #BeReal.

via In a World so Quick to Judge, Just #BeReal | by Lizzi for The SisterWives.


Filed under: About Mental Health, Health Tagged: #BeARebel, #BeReal, #DontJudgeMeChallenge, body image, bodycentric

Regret is such a toxic thing.

(pic courtesy of dumpaday.com) There are a lot of things in my life that I regret. I regret not being a more patient parent, I regret not being nicer to people I had dealings with both personally or professionally. I … Continue reading


It’s a long and winding linkdump, as long as a piece of string and as winding as a clock. All links are from the USA unless marked otherwise.

But wait – there’s more!

Actually that’s a total fallacy, there’s no more.

A Grassroots Angel


Mexico: “Fifteen miles past the city limits of Juarez, an insane asylum serves as the last stop for a group of indigent and mentally ill people. It’s called Vision en Accion, or Vision in Action, and it sits like a citadel in a filthy desert dotted with dumps and junkyards, in an area haunted by years of violence from the drug cartel wars that claimed more than 11,000 lives.”

“”Let me tell you something about the bipolar people,” Galvan offers, switching back and forth between English and Spanish. “The bipolar people are artistas. Their painting are hermosas [beautiful]. They paint landscapes, flowers, the sun, the trees. The schizophrenic people, no. They paint demons, skulls, assesinatos [murderers].” The autistic people just paint stripes, he says.”

Article: At An Asylum In Juarez, ‘We Believe In Hope’
Transcript of NPR programme. 

Are you kidding me?!

“She’s not a mindless, brainless zombie so a lot of my research was focused more at people who have extreme mood changes and bipolar disorder. She goes from this extremely happy loving girlfriend to an angry, livid monster. I had to do some real research on that which I felt rang more true for the character.”
Ashley Greene ‘researched bipolar disorder’ to prepare for zombie role (Burying the Ex)
I’m renaming her. Asshole Green.


And our word for today is BOYCOTT.


Eagles bassist Randy Meisner put under court-mandated supervision after allegedly threatening murder-suicide.
The search into the death of beloved 80’s film star Amanda Peterson has revealed a troubled past. The “Can’t Buy Me Love” actress, who was found dead Sunday at age 43, was arrested several times in her hometown of Greeley, Colorado over the past two decades.
Paul Gascoigne Reveals Terrifying Extent Of Psychosis Caused By Cocaine: ‘I Thought Wine Gums Were Staring At Me.

Hey baby

“While postpartum bipolar disorder isn’t as common as the other PMAD’s, I wouldn’t classify it as “obscure”. Even if postpartum bipolar disorder was an obscure condition, we all have issues close to our hearts, and this one is mine.
I know I’m not the only one who has suffered with PPBD, but I feel that way. I was diagnosed in 2007 and now I’m reaching out in the hopes I can connect with others who understand life with this type of mood disorder.”
My PMAD (Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder) Gets No Respect! Part One and logically enough, Part Two!

Scotland: Birth of hope for postnatal depression.
More mental health provision needed for mothers during pregnancy and after birth.
Australia: Mothers with postnatal mental illness need all the help we can give them.



My bipolar bag of sunshine.
Anger: part of bipolar or not? (tl;dr nah, but bipolar can make it worse)
New Zealand: suicide rate a national tragedy.

The staff had put up a Christmas tree in the 5B ward and there were these decorations on it, and all I thought about was cutting my wrists with them,” Ms O’Callaghan said. “I went to one nurse and told her what I was thinking, and she told me to discharge myself and to (kill myself) elsewhere. She told me, ‘we are only here to help the people who want help’.” Ireland: woman tells of hell on earth in Limerick psychiatric unit.

All you need is love?
Bipolar Depression And Unipolar Depression: What’s The Difference?
Caring for Carers – support Reveal’s new campaign.
UK: Children’s mental health must be cared for. Or the consequences will be dire.

Untreated Mental Illness: A Matter of Life and Death.
The mentally ill have never had it easy
Prevalence of mental disorders in the USA.
NSFW Being bipolar improved my sex life.

Today’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for panic attacks. Madison routinely experienced seven: palpitations, trembling, choking, chest pain, abdominal distress, fainting and the fear of going crazy. (He admitted to one early biographer that the attacks “suspended his intellectual functions,” a description that has disappeared from most histories.) Honor our (USA) flawed founding fathers

Ireland: New eLearning video on lithium.
UK: A young man found drowned in the Thames  had suffered from substance-induced psychosis after smoking cannabis heavily.


For me, it became a very hopeful idea. I’ve struggled a lot with mental illness and bipolar disorder. It was like a little tyrant inside my head that was telling me things like I could never be a good father. So my therapist said, ‘Why don’t you change the narrative of how your bipolar disorder works and think about it another way?’ I came up with this idea that I would stop trying to be a ‘good’ parent who’s only authoritative and responsible, and I was going to play to my strengths of being silly and funny. I called him Crazy Dad. My daughter loved it, and I loved it, and it allowed us to connect. Q&A: Author Eric Wilson on how to create an authentic identity in an increasingly fake world.

Katherine M. Chin Shares HOW TO MANAGE MENTAL ILLNESS in New Book.
Bipolar author on a mission (Melva Freeman)
What Happened, Miss Simone? Recap & Cheat Sheet.
Brian Wilson‘s Story Serves As Powerful Message For People With Mental Health Issues.
India: Amy Movie Review: they’re talking about the documentary and the last line of the review made me LOL hard.

Subtitles are provided for those of us who speak English but do not understand that incomprehensible British accent!”

I’m still LOLing. (Fair point though, and since I’m  English by birth, I’m entitled to say it, regional accents can be impenetrable.)
Director claims Amy Winehouse had ‘mental illness and brain damage’. 
RIP Amy, you are still loved.

Funny but sad


The 63-year-old with the grandmotherly mien and the white bob haircut will subsequently be escorted onto a plane to Chicago, where she will be arrested, incarcerated, and released multiple times following a predictable spate of incursions upon that city’s airports. And so will continue a bewildering, years-long odyssey for Hartman, who has made a perplexing habit of pinballing around the country in search of something that she herself cannot quite articulate.

The woman who smuggled herself.

Prior to Hartman, the last stowaway to amuse the nation by sneaking onto a plane was Charles McKinley. He was the New York savant who, in 2003, mailed himself to his parents’ Dallas-area home. He was busted when, inexplicably, he emerged from the crate in the presence of a deliveryman.


Of All U.S. Police Shootings, One-Quarter Reportedly Involve The Mentally Ill

DISTRAUGHT PEOPLE, DEADLY RESULTS Officers often lack the training to approach the mentally unstable, experts say. Details of all shootings

Fact: Based on studies of mass shooters, about half of the shooters suffered from serious mental illness. But the most common form of violence associated with mental illness is self-harm; more than ten percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar die by suicide. It’s time to talk about fear and love.


Props to the media for pushing the matter so hard.


Before bipolar, is there a prodrome?
7 Steps to Prevent and Manage Violence in Bipolar Patients. (Slideshow.)
New research into bipolar and cognitive impairment.
Boys more likely than girls to receive anti-psychotic drugs.
Study: Antidepressants Can Worsen Rapid Cycling In Bipolar Depression
The Fascinating Relationship Between Bipolar Disorder and Weight
UK: Straight-A schoolchildren at higher risk of bipolar disorder, research claims.
Seeking Better Ways to Treat the Lows of Bipolar Disorder. Researchers work to understand the difference between bipolar disorder and regular depression.
India: New insights into brain functioning.

Well this is irritating

New Zealand: 10 reasons you could lose your temper: 1) You have bipolar disorder
Extreme mood swings can indicate mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Often patients will seek help when they are depressed, but not when their mood is manic. Fuckwit.

Afrique du Sud!


I’m going to add a South African section to this regular linkdump (when there are links to add), since it’s where I am. And I’m going to bug you every single time to follow our lived experiences, and if you have any connection to my country, no matter how tenuous, please submit a story there. Please? (rg I’m looking at you bro)
July 2015 is Mental Illness Awareness Month (or psychiatric disability month, depending on where you’re reading about it. Here is some more info.

“Chambers says South Africa doesn’t have resources to meet the demand for mental healthcare. “Our call centre is incredibly busy with people who need treatment. But there aren’t enough hospitals, doctors or clinics. Not every community clinic has a psychiatrist or a psychologist.”” It’s a nightmare when mental health medicine runs out. (There’s one psychiatrist per +300k people in SA and 80% of the population receives no mental health treatment. Eighty perfuckingcent!!!)

Not disclosing your mental health status to insurers may compromise future claims – expert
Cape Town: – Half of all mental health cases in the Western Cape are related to substance abuse, the provincial Health Department has said.

Thrive Magazine – general mental health, published quarterly.

Adcock Ingram Pharmaceuticals, is launching a dedicated depression and anxiety helpline (0800 70 80 90) which offers free telephonic counselling and referrals for callers to psychologists, psychiatrists, GPs, hospitals, clinics, support groups, counselling centres and other NGOs, nationwide. “Stigma is still a major problem in South African society. Many people don’t know where to go or who to speak to for help – people fear they will be judged or discriminated against, or that others will think they are weak. By educating the population about mental illness, we can create more awareness and encourage more people to seek treatment,” says Sadag’s Cassey Chambers. (Ja it’s the same Chambers as before, but this is a very different article.)

Help Wanted

Canada: Research Participants Needed for Bipolar Disorder Study ($$) (Bipolar1 – depression – Toronto)
UK: Participants wanted for survey on bipolar disorder. (UK only)
Are you interested in making a video for Project UROK? Awesome. Project UROK is a global conversation about teen mental health, and your voice is huge part of that!

Deep Blue Indigo Funk

I can handle being labeled mentally ill. I can deal with being thought of as odd. I can sort of handle living in mixed episode world. What I cannot handle well are the deep blue indigo funks that accompany having Bipolar disorder and PTSD. I never know when they are going to come and completely […]

Self-Esteem Relies On Others

I’ve had two days back at work.  Remember how I was so bored while I was off and so eager to get back to work?  I’m already complaining and counting down until quitting time.  Remember how having surgery changed my perspective and I didn’t feel suicidal anymore?  Suicidal thoughts on the first day of work. […]


Ever have those days where you wake up, and you’re already done with the day? Yeah, that’s me most every day because of chronic fatigue. Today was that to a higher degree, with my only goals being getting laundry washed, and washing my hair. The former was going to be… I won’t say easy, but I knew that I could make it happen. The latter? I woke up too fatigued to even think about bathing. The mere idea of it was too exhausting. But I figured that as long as the baby cooperated in going down for a nap in a timely fashion, then I could probably work myself around to it.

Care to guess who didn’t want to nap today? Yeaaaah.

I pulled out all the stops too — plenty of food and fluids, play and cuddles. She didn’t want to be put down, but she didn’t want to go to sleep either. She recently likes to shove hard and claw at moles and freckles on my torso and grab my neck and other bits, which um… no. Fuck no. Anxiety through the roof no. Put you down before I scream no. Except she didn’t want that. Fuck? Yeah. Oh yeah, and when she was being happy to stay put laying against me, she kept pushing against my arms instead of staying centered, and that hurts. It’s like having a heavy-ass bowling ball resting all its weight on a scrawny ass arm, which… well. See the before cycle of putting down and pissy baby.

Suffices to say, my panxiety hit the point of wanting to scream and break things. I know that such won’t help so I fight myself to not doing it, but man. All the tiny things were doing their best to contribute to the spiking panxiety too, like noticing everyone elses’ mess encroaching on my area, to being pissed off that I didn’t manage to finish my daily writing until 1:30pm (a task I usually knock out before noon even on weekends), to the fact my hair was dirty and I think most people agree that having that dwelling on your brain (literally *rimshot*) makes for some dark and unhappy thoughts.

So of course, she falls asleep just as my husband gets back from work. Sod’s Law, right? I growled at him a bit more about messy stuff and he obligingly took a stack of things to sort through. Bless him, he’s a doll. I made sure to give him a bit of affection once I managed to drag myself through the bath. And then he took her with to pick up her big sister from school, meaning I got the precious few minutes of alone time that I direly needed to finish my recovery from the panxiety of the morning. Now everyone is home and having a good time together, so all’s well that ends well.

I will say on the subject of anxiety that I am thinking I will have to talk to my psych when I see her at the end of the month. I think it has continued to be severe enough that I need to get on something for it. I know that antidepressants are the usual approach, but the one I’m on doesn’t seem to touch it. It does a great job of keeping the depression mainly at bay, so I’m not keen to change it. I also don’t want to have to go through the hell of adjusting to a different antidepressant — adjusting to this one twice has been rough enough. In some ways, I’m better able to handle it now; in the past, when I’d hit this level, things would be broken, tears would flow, and it would be a crapshoot as to whether or not my brain was telling me I should off myself. That I could speak mainly politely and not shout or break anything or anyone… it’s really good, and the coming down is a lot faster than it used to be. But it could be better. I don’t think that I’m greedy for wanting better. An actual quality of life would be faboo.

Anyways, hope everyone is well… and also chuckling with amusement at how all of us show up more frequently when we have something to complain about. xD


Mental Illness: Giving Yourself Permission To Just Be

I have sort of tuned out, dropped out, as of late. I still take care of my kid and cats, and I’ve done brief dish stints every day for a week. The thing is…I had to quit trying to keep up with the fast lane and move to the slow lane. Give myself permission to just *be* rather than flogging myself with the standard “Get up and do something” bullying tactic. And it’s been nice to not feed my own self loathing monster when I’m simply overwhelmed and need to take a step back.

And it all goes back to the single best piece of advice a therapist ever gave me: “Sometimes, you have to accept that you feel how you feel. The more you fight it, the more defeated you feel. Set one small goal, meet it, and allow yourself to just feel how you feel.”

The wisdom and therapeutic value in that one statement- made to me over twenty years ago- has served me well over the course of my battle with mental illness. It’s so simplistic, yet absolutely brilliant. Rather than pushing myself and adding to my resentment and self hatred because I fail again and again, I can let myself off the hook and just allow myself to live life. The slow lane works for me. And truth be told, by letting myself off the hook…I end up accomplishing more. Maybe not all that should be done, but once I stop bullying myself…It doesn’t feel like work or punishment to do dishes. It’s just the little task to accomplish to justify my lethargy.

I am feeling better. But it doesn’t take much for that to happen after six weeks of medications that made me suicidal…Anything would be better. I just don’t think the Cymbalta is giving me the boost I need out of the depressive abyss. To face another med failure is a thorn in my paw. The doctor promised not to give up on me and yet, I don’t feel he’s pulling for me, either. He’s just doing what he’s paid to do, which is push pills. Except this doctor doesn’t seem to have much regard for how hard it is to get the right combination to work with an individual’s chemistry. It’s disheartening, but I’m not giving up. Much as I am loathe to try any of the meds he’s pushes as wonder drugs after the last two being so wretched…If I am still this far down the rabbit hole of depression in July…It’s gonna get much worse when the seasonal affective kicks in. That scares the hell out of me. There’s GOT to be a combo. I’ve even pondered the dual mood stabilizer without an anti depressant. That’s just proven so unwise to do going into a seasonal depression.

I don’t have any answers and believe me, my mind spins constantly in search of them. That one missing element that will put my mind into normal space. Because I am well aware my overreactions to simple positive thought are not normal. I am feeling the frustration of seeing those around me improve while I tread water. I maintain it’s okay to be a realist, but I am borderline-ing into that area where my own darkness seeks to taint everything around me. Run everyone off. And maybe that’s why self isolation is my thing, no one to compete with (not that mental illness is a competition, but it’s hard not to be envious of those obtaining what you cannot). No one to make me feel like I am not trying hard enough. Just me and the meds and time so eventually I end up in a better cycle. No pressure. No fear of “tainting” others unintentionally. This is not an aspect of my personality I am a fan of. And it doesn’t exist when I am in a good mental space. Which means the depression just devours one more part of me, altering who I truly am, bringing credence to my detractors for dismissing me as a negative nelly.

This where giving myself permission to just be is crucial. If I get too wrapped up in the OCD “why is everyone but me getting better? it must be me, I am a loser, I am a lost cause, I should just die”…It’s counterproductive. And I am well aware the depression is a master manipulator and grand liar. Until I escape it’s clutches…The lies ring as half truths.

I have no plans for today. Sit at home and do nothing. Which must seem like all I do, anyway. But when I am not suffering from writer’s block and depression and high anxiety all at the same time…I do live life rather than just existing. And while I’m in the snail lane right now, I’m still doing a large percentage of what is necessary. I haven’t curled up in bed and given up. I’m still fighting, even if my rawr is more like a meow at the moment.

I highly advise you to take the time to let yourself simply be. Get out of that fast lane. Breathe. And in doing so…you may just find yourself relaxed enough to focus on doing little things that need done at a pace that isn’t too taxing. It’s okay to simply be.