Daily Archives: March 11, 2018

Penny Positive #71

From An Optimist’s Calendar



Using Mania: Don’t Freak Out

freak outI had a psychiatrist who would tell me I was not manic when I knew I was and my family knew I was.  This was frustrating because I felt like he didn’t believe me and therefore was not helping me.

I now have a very new psychiatrist who I think believes me, but does not want me to get admitted to a psychiatric hospital when I get manic.  This has always been a back up plan when I get into serious trouble.  Therefore, I am now left with “what now?”

I think I am learning is to not freak out when I am manic.  I need to take on responsibilities myself and can’t rely on doctors, medications, and the hospitals.

This is not something totally new to me, but something I need to start remembering.  I should use my manic energy, but be smart about it.

Blogs I have written in the past that I need to remember and use to heed my own advice:

8 Tips If You Feel like You are getting Manic

Beware I am Manic

When Using Your Manic Energy Can Go Too Far

Helpful Things You Can Do When you are Manic

I need to pace myself and remember all the things I need to do when I am manic.  I am really bad about knowing things that work and not doing them. This includes depression. I spend months depressed so severe that I don’t leave the house or even bed many days.  I can’t or more likely don’t use the techniques I have written about. It is an unhealthy choice I am making and I need to get off this roller coaster.  I so have a choice more than I think I do during the difficult times. It is just hard to push myself to do them.  No more excuses!

Going back to not freaking out when I manic,  I need to do all the things that I would be doing in the hospital at home and follow my action plan to the tee.  I will be all right and I will get through this.



“Lock Up the Crazies Before They Hurt Someone”

Mass shootings and the public reactions to them are pretty predictable among the mental illness community.

One thing you hear after every mass shooting – and after many smaller ones – is that the mentally ill should not have access to guns.

Fine. But I have bipolar disorder, as well as some guns that I inherited from my father. I occasionally go to a gun range and fire them, but not often since I’m not the gun aficionado my father was.

So what am I supposed to do? Sell the guns? Give them away? Turn them in to the police? My therapist? I was taught gun safety from a young age by two certified pistol and rifle instructors (my parents) long before I received my diagnosis.

The further you go into the debate about guns and the mentally ill, or about whether the mentally ill are a danger, the deeper you get into fundamental constitutional, legal, and medical issues, as well as considerations of simple practicality.

Some advocate locking up the mentally ill. This is irrational. What the proponents really mean is “Lock up the dangerous mentally ill before they become mass shooters.” And that is impossible.

First, there’s the matter of due process, which is as much a part of the Bill of Rights as the vaunted Second Amendment is. You can’t just lock people up without a trial or at least a hearing.

Second, there’s no way to determine whether a mentally ill person is likely to become a mass shooter or any other kind of danger. The only generally known predictor of violent behavior is past violent behavior. In fact, there’s no way to tell whether any given individual is going to become a mass shooter. That’s because it’s really hard to predict the future.

Third, there’s the consideration of medical decisions and the right to privacy. HIPPAA has gone a long way toward protecting the privacy of patients – including the mentally ill. At the moment, a mentally ill person can only be held for 72 hrs., and then only if the person goes to the hospital voluntarily or is determined to be a danger to self and others. That’s a high standard, and it should be.

Fourth, the mental health system is already understaffed, underfunded, and overwhelmed. There are long waiting lists for beds in hospitals and treatment facilities. Are we to build new asylums to accommodate all these supposedly dangerous persons? Train more counselors to treat them? Or just lock them up and get them out of sight, out of mind?

Fifth, the idea that mentally ill persons can be forced to accept treatment and take their medication as prescribed violates several basic rights. My mother, who was not mentally ill, hardly ever took her medications as prescribed. She would quit taking one after a few days “because it wasn’t helping” or “it caused sores in her mouth” – without telling her doctor. Should she have had a caregiver to monitor her compliance? Who would monitor all those potentially noncompliant mentally ill persons as they take their psychotropic drugs? I see, we’re back to putting them in asylums.

Besides, refusing treatment is a right that patients have – even mental patients. Physically ill patients, for example, can choose to forgo chemotherapy or dialysis or medications that cause side effects worse than the condition they’re prescribed for. And mental patients have the same right. They can stop taking a medication because they fear side effects like tardive dyskinesia or even weight gain, though we hope they consult their doctors first.

But forced treatment and forced medication, as some have suggested, brings us back to the question of who, how, and where. Asylums? Court-ordered treatment? Medications that must be taken in the presence of a doctor or a therapist (who is not qualified or licensed to dispense medication)?

Take all those arguments against forced treatment of the mentally ill and add the fact that the mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it, and where are we? Admittedly, the mental health “system” is broken, or at least badly fractured. But is the answer really to take away the civil rights of people who have broken no laws?

The press and the public are quick to focus on the mentally ill as the culprits in mass shootings. But even if they were correct, taking away fundamental rights would not only be no real solution, but would chip away at the rights of other disenfranchised or minority populations – the homeless, for example.

If there’s a solution to this problem, I don’t know it, but locking up the “crazies” isn’t it.


If you want to read more on both sides of the issue, see the L.A. Times article by Paloma Esquivel at http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-adv-lauras-law-20140310-story.html.

Guest Post: Mood Swings: Don’t Lose Hope By Gertie

hope 2I am sitting here wishing I could be in a different head space that I have been in for the last year and a half. All I want in this world is to be back to doing well. I can’t help but think something better is coming my way. I just want some type of breakthrough with whatever the heck is going on with the continued symptoms that appear to not be subsiding. I just can’t lose hope. Hope is the essential to a person’s recovery.

As part of my recovery, I need to create some structure to help me and this is something that I feel like my treatment team is failing at but I share the responsibility as I am the one the is responsible for my daily life not my treatment team. I’ve learned that personal responsibility in my recovery is something that no matter how a person is doing symptom wise people respect you. I just need to take personal responsibility in make sure things don’t get worse.

One way I do that is doing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills. Skills that have been quite helpful for me over the years. If I do my DBT homework I know that I will be able to do my skills.

I think after doing DBT homework, I’ll do some art. Specifically, painting and collaging. Art helps me express my emotions in a way I am unable to do so in other ways.

Read more things she has written: GERTIES JOURNEY