Daily Archives: November 15, 2017

Brave souls change hearts and minds!

cast photo

Photo: “This is My Brave” cast in Wheeling, West Virginia 

There’s a special feeling when we can be a part of something far bigger than we could ever accomplish alone.  This is my overwhelming feeling of having participated in Youth Services System and NAMI Greater Wheeling’s “This is My Brave Show,” which was held last night at the historic Capitol Theatre in Wheeling.

Audience photo

Photo:  The Experience Church Worship Team & Audience

If you aren’t familiar with “This is My Brave” let me shed some light on it for you.  It’s a national non-profit organization co-founded by the amazing Jennifer Marshall.  The purpose of the show is to allow those who live with mental health conditions (mental illness & substance use disorders) to share their stories through creative expression-poetry, original music, essay.  The intent is to impact the stigma of mental illness through story telling.

The sixteen cast members in our show inspired the audience and made a lasting impression on all those who attended.  Those who shared struggle with and persevere daily through challenges related to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, binge eating disorder, suicide attempts and alcoholism.  Our show had an added bonus with the Experience Church Worship Team (aka-the band), kicking off the show with their inspiring and impactful musical talents.

The audience feedback has been nothing but positive.

Many people have said the IQ on that stage was beyond impressive.  Translation – people with mental illness can be smart.  Multiple people said, “it was fascinating to see the broad range of socio-economic levels and diversity of those impacted by mental illness.  Translation – mental illness does not discriminate.   One gentleman said, “I’m not affected by mental illness and I never realized what people go through.  This show helped me understand what others deal with.  I’m so grateful to be here tonight.”

And…the overwhelming comment by numerous people, “This show is inspiring.”

This morning I received this amazing quote from one of our cast members, Mr. Bill Hogan.  Bill writes,

“I have been involved in a bunch of stuff in my almost 90 years but never have I been so “electrified” by a group or an event as I was last night.  I love the word mystery and last night the wonder of it all, that unidentifiable power that charged the people on the stage as a group and as individuals was wonderful and gave everyone in that theater, on stage and off , a sense of joyful peace.  Everything was lined up the way it is supposed to be.
I am thinking of a quote  by W.B. Yeats  “ Go forth teller of tales. And seize whatever prey your heart desires.  Have no fear. Everything exists.  And everything is
True. And the earth is but dust under our feet.”  I am truly blessed to have been fortunate enough to have been part of a great happening.”

And that my friends sums up my feelings of being a part of something greater than myself.  Being part of a movement to shed light on mental illness, one person and one story at a time.  As Jennifer Marshall says, “Storytelling saves lives!”  Indeed it does.

Jennifer Marshall and Cast Photo:  Jennifer Marshall speaking to the cast of “This is My Brave” Wheeling, West Virginia

How Hollywood Gets Its Portrayal Of Bipolar Disorder All Wrong

I have lots of agonizing stuff going on atm and I am not mentally fit enough to put it together in a coherent way so instead…I’m giving myself a topic to write about, something I feel passionately about, frivolous as it may seem.

We all know the creative license that Hollywood movies and television shows take when it comes to making “hits” that will net them money and acclaim. Fair enough. No one wants to watch ninety minutes of someone so despondent they can’t even bathe more than once a week. It’s much more exciting to make something like Girl,Interrupted, or Crazy Beautiful, depicting bipolar axis one, where there’s mania and anger and tears and happy fun ball time before suddenly our heroine/hero go back on their meds and stay on them.

MInd you, this is all fairly accurate for an axis one diagnosis.

What I would like to see is portrayal of someone with bipolar axis two, where depression pretty much consumes your entire life. I want to see them show how we shovel our pills and get therapy-d and do all the things we are supposed to that will make us better…all to end up cycling through it all over again with no real stable period. Show me the inability to focus. Show me the days without showering, the tears, the rages, the hopelessness. Not entertaining enough?

Neither is cancer but Hollywood has no problem depicting it in all its ugliness.

Show me the neverending anxiety, the tics and nasty side effects our “happy pills” give us. That’s ugly. It’s as worthy of empathy and acclaim as happy fun ball episodes. For so many axis two patients, our lives are one long neverending cycle of depression, brief stability, heaps of anxiety, strained relationships, pill bottles that could serve as a pharmacy. Show me that reality TV, Hollywood.

I’d love to see them get that part of bipolar right. Axis one is a different beast than axis two and while we one the axis two plane aren’t always glamorous or even likeable…we’re real. This is our life, this is our struggle and it never ends. THere is no magic ‘take mood stabilizers and you’re better’. I’d rather be axis one and just need one medication.

Actually, I’d rather not have this disorder at all but since I wasn’t consulted and got it anyway…I’d definitely choose the one pill version. FAce it, if mania 90% of the time is your symptom, then the one pill mood stabilizer really is the magic bullet.

Axis two isn’t as clear cut.

And before anyone starts in on how I am glamorizing axis one…NO AXIS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER IS A GOOD THING. We all suffer, just in different ways.

I just think it’s time Hollywood acknowledges that axis two exists and it’s not merely depression where we take a happy pill when we’re down and a mood stabilizer to avoid being manic. It’s a chronic condition and I have lost friends to it because they hit their wall and decided living with it was too hard. They died and I don’t care what society says about manner of death…They died from bipolar axis two.

Tackle that one, Hollywood. No? Not entertaining enough?

Or maybe too much of an intellectual challenge to fathom people who are forced to endure such a grueling disorder?

Good Day

SO I did see Dr. Bishop yesterday and the visit went well.  He agreed that if I was doing well cutting back on my Klonopin that that was fine. I will have to start taking drug tests next time I come because the legislature passed some new rules about opiates and benzopadines–it seems they’re being taken together causing opioid deaths. SO I have to take drug tests to show I’m not taking opiates as well.  So that is a downer but you do what you have to do.

I spent yesterday afternoon trimming down my flash short stories into less than 1000 words each for a chapbook competition by Rose Metal Press. I sent in 26 pages of six stories and tilted it “Slience” since so many of them have to do with keeping secrets and silencing in other ways.  So we will see how it fares in the competition.  It was HARD trimming them down.  I like my words to stay the way they are, particularly my more voice-driven stories.  Cutting out words makes them all sound the same.

Have to catch up on laundry today.  Get my youngest one’s done and sort through mine.  Then tomorrow I do Bob’s.  I’ll have time off while Rachel is gone next weekend and Thanksgiving week that maybe I can get caught up on everything that I am behind on.  We will see.

Hope everyone has a good rest of the week!  Thanksgiving is coming up and I will take about a two day hiatus so be warned of that.  Thanks for reading!




Penny Positive #20

From An Optimist’s Calendar


I don’t look sick.

Why is it that when we are physically ill, as in for example having the flu, we are allowed to rest and recuperate. However when the illness is mental, as for example a mixed episode of bipolar disorder, we are not allowed to rest. We must keep going as if we are not sick at all. If we are housewives, dinner must be on the table when the family gets home. If we don’t make dinner (just an example of work) then why didn’t we? People might say “You don’t look sick, why don’t you do your work?” I have been in a mixed phase, as I generally am in the Fall. I feel terrible, emotional, terribly anxious, weepy, nothing good. Can’t eat. Yet I’m not given much of a chance to rest. I don’t look sick.