Daily Archives: December 17, 2017

Book Review – “Acts Of Kindness From Your Armchair”

“Acts Of Kindness from Your Armchair” by Anita Neilson is a very easy read. At the same time, it is full of practical and easy ways to show kindness to yourself and those around you. Anita is writing for those of us who, like herself, are mostly housebound due to chronic illness. How can you …

Is My Pain as Real as Yours?

The other day I got a comment on a post I wrote a while back called “Who’s a Spoonie?” (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-h6).

The commenter said that I was wrong to use the term “Spoonie” for those with mental illnesses. The kinds of disorders that merited the appellation “Spoonie” were only those that involved a “physical debilitating condition where pain and fatigue play major roles.” That I am not a Spoonie. That the language is not mine to use. That I am a part of the problem.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those assumptions.

Mental illness is not an invisible illness.

I wrote about that, in a post called “Is Bipolar Disorder an ‘Invisible Illness’?” (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-gI). Disabled World (https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/) seems to think it is. Their definition specifically includes mental disorders:

These [mental] diseases can also be completely debilitating to the victim, and can make performing everyday tasks extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Bipolar disorder and depression are included in their partial list of “invisible illnesses.” And if you want to talk about “everyday tasks,” consider the number of bipolar and other sufferers who can’t get out of bed, can’t shower, can’t leave their homes, can’t work.

The condition must be physical.

To the best of our current knowledge, bipolar disorder and many other mental illnesses spring from glitches in the neurotransmitters in our brains. The brain, a physical organ. Neurotransmitters, a physical substance.

Pain and fatigue are required to play major roles.

Well, I’ve written about that too, in a post called “Depression Hurts” (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-6Z).

My head and eyes hurt from all the crying spells. My back hurt from lying in bed all day. I had painful knotted muscles from the anxiety that went with the depression. I had intestinal cramps because my overactive nerves led to irritable bowel syndrome. I had headaches and eye strain from the over sensitivity to light and noise. And I had the general flu-like malaise that is practically the hallmark of depression. You know the one. Every bone and muscle aches, but you can’t think why.

Were these aches and pains psychogenic? Undoubtedly some of them were. But others, like the irritable bowel, were all too demonstrably physical phenomena.

Oh, and are they chronic? I’ve lived with them all for years. Not all at the same time, maybe, and not without times when the pain let up. But are all Spoonies required to be in constant pain and fatigue? Again, Disabled World says not.

The language is not mine to use. 

Sorry, but language doesn’t work that way. Once a word is released into the wild, it goes where it wills, acquiring new usages and new meaning. And “Spoonie” is certainly out in the wild. The essay that first defined it is all over the Internet. The suffix -holic has escaped from the word “alcoholic” and is now used for dissimilar ideas including “shopaholic” and “chocoholic.” Can we say, “No, you mustn’t do that. It must be reserved for alcohol addiction”? We might, but it’s not going to happen. Trust me on this. I have some training in linguistics.

I am part of the problem.

I suppose so, if you believe there’s actually a problem. In my post on Spoonies, I asked:

Isn’t that how Spoon language started – as a way to begin a conversation on what invisible illnesses are and how they affect our lives? Not a secret language that only those who know the password and handshake can use.

Obviously, opinions on the subject will vary, and mine is only one among many. I cordially dislike exclusionary language. Does anyone else want to weigh in?

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar disorder, invisible illnesses, mental illness, my experiences, physical pain, psychological pain, Spoon Theory

The Purge…blog version

I don’t feel like writing because my brain is a funnel cloud of thoughts, tortured emotions, and let’s not forget the pms-dysphoria that has me in physical and mental agony. Because I know the hormones are amping up my emotions but….Purge. Necessary.

Today I accomplished only two things. One was to take my kid to the Christmas party at the library. The other was to fix supper. Other than that…I’m tapped out from my week in the dish and all the R-induced stress.

It’s no longer about the shop. He’s taking blatant advantage. Making me clean microwaves, fetch phone chargers, getting mad when he shows up without calling first and is pissy that we’re out and about…Yeah, there’s not much distortion going on with that situation. The man is a psychological vampire egomaniac and he’s bleeding me dry. I’m not the only one noticing. Guess I just don’t have thick skin like others. I’m ready to burn the bridge to the ground because I am trying to get better here and when I told him that, he muttered, “Whatever.” I don’t need a different car desperately enough to be so repeatedly disrespected, and it’s clear there is no end in sight, his behavior will never change. I’m tired of being this tapped at week’s end, I don’t remember any actual real job who made me feel this exhausted and abused.(No, because for all of that I had a supportive psych doc who could tell me I needed a few days off so I didn’t snap and the bosses were either cool or sucked it up cos it’s the law.)

He’s not the entire reason for my problems but he is a very destructive faction and since he won’t hear me when I try to talk to him…Pour the gasoline, throw the match, let it all burn. Metaphorically.

Next up…Psych nurse. My last visit with her has had me reeling. She didn’t mention the outpatient day program, didn’t suggest maybe a stay in the hospital a few nights might help me regain equilibrium, she was not helpful at all and while prior to going in, I wasn’t suicidal…The way she made me feel that day, and all the appointments before, really put me in a dark place. She didn’t motivate me to stop my occasional alcohol screw ups. She made me want to drink more. I’ve been pretty good abstaining but when I think of how hopeless it all is…And the counseling thing, I am out of luck, cos that one place is my only option and it’s like gun, knife, noose, you end up dead no matter the method.

THEN I started looking into personality disorders because a former doc had scribbled “schizotypal” into my chart but never once told me about it so I had to Google it to even know what it means. Apparently,dyeing your hair pink, wearing black clothes, and talking about vampires (as in reading, writing about them, not believing they are real) are qualifiers. I’ll own some paranoia, definitely a loner and most often it is by choice because I simply like my own company, ffs, and that is not a disorder.

I moved onto the borderline personality disorder thing, since that last counselor decided after 3 sessions that I am definitely suffering from it. Never mind weeks before my other counselor, before she left for a better job, sat down with me and her diagnostic manual and we went through each symptom together and she told me she absolutely did not see me as borderline, it’s just too easy for bipolar to be confused with borderline. About my only borderline qualities involve being in relationships, it puts me on circuit overload and I’ve yet had to have a supportive partner who could grasp the bipolar and depressions let alone the monthly roller coaster of hormonal insanity….Of course, it’s gonna be an issue. Not an entire disorder. And when I am stable, it’s always very different. So….

I went back to the one I’d had slapped on me for 20 plus years-personality disorder otherwise not specified. And this one I can actually live with. Because of them all, it is the one I check off the most points on. Meaning two points from borderline, one or two from schizotypal, maybe one or two from histrionic when manic or hormonal…Am I wrong to simply want my label to fit? How can someone see me three times, change my diagnosis, after a counselor with three times the experience flatly said, no, that isn’t you.

I want some help. Someone to hear me out on occasion, maybe help me with some healthier coping mechanisms. But ones that help me, not frustrate me and bring out my resentment. (Cognitive and mindfulness, total izombie Max Rager stuff). My last DECENT counselor, whom I called the sunshine spewer, cos she was always so cheery, was required to start each session with their little worksheet where you have to rate your moods for the last week or so using happy faces and numbers. By the sixth month of me growling, “Oh, yay, time to do this useless thing again”…she gave up on doing it. Because she saw it didn’t help me, it just agitated me. And so she adapted her approach in order to help me and it meant a lot. Not hand holding. Just….consideration.

So round and round it all goes and it’s making me crazy. It won’t stop. And to an extent, that’s the pms-dysphoria thing. I’ve been in cramp agony all day and I toughed it out 4 hours before I finally broke and took some Tylenol. Does that sound like someone who waves the flag and reaches for a pill to make life easier? I suffer until I can’t take it anymore. Same goes for my mental health.

Except this time, I told her over two sessions in 3 months that I was melting down, calling crisis hotlines, feeling like I needed hospitalized even if it’s not what I want…And nothing. She was so apathetic I’ve spent the days after that dismal appointment wondering if maybe I wouldn’t be better off dead.

Then again, she didn’t see anything too disturbing about an unbathed woman reeking of last night’s alcohol, spazzing out and nearly hyperventilating in front of her. Like it was all affectation and faked on my part. Dr. B never once questioned me or made me feel there was need to. And I’d always been honest with him, too, when they asked if I drank alcohol. I told them occasionally for holidays, birthdays, or certain social situations. He never mentioned it so he didn’t spaz out like I was a waste of time.

I am bloody well lost.

But I will find my way back, somehow.

Or I’ll submit six months of my journals detailing how wrong a fit the psych nurse was for me and maybe when I finally walk in front of a train…my family can sue that place and make sure my kid never has to worry about money.

Apparently, she wouldn’t be losing much of a mom. At least, that’s how psych nurse made me feel. I wasn’t aware kicking people when they’re down is part of the therapeutic process.

When a pych pro makes my mom seem empathetic and supportive…

So doomed.