Tag Archives: mental illness

Denial, Floods, and Small Talk

Denial – the action of declaring something to be untrue

I deny so well that if the behavior were an Olympic sport, I’d have the Gold. Actually, no, we’d all be in the running for the Gold medal.

In this post, I’m wondering why most of us  walk around acting like we are perfectly fine, our world is 100% on track, and nothing is bothering us. We smile and exchange pleasantries but are inside often lonely, hurting, frustrated, confused, or angry. Why can’t we open up more with one another?

 

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“You doing okay these days?”

“Oh, yeah. Great. You?”

“Sure thing. How are the kids?”

 

 

 

 

The older I’ve gotten, the more open and honest I’ve become. It’s liberating yet embarrassing at times – because others don’t share their weaknesses or what’s wrong in their own lives. Leaves me feeling alienated, y’know, or different from the norm? What really “is” the norm?  I admitted to starting on antidepressants again the other day to a friend. She blurted out that she’s on about three! I felt closer to her immediately. The honesty was air-clearing.

Ever feel completely overwhelmed? I did about a month ago (when I got back on antidepressants). I felt like I was drowning in a flood of cold, dirty water but nobody paid attention. I realized I was denying my feelings to those closest to me, trying to make the bad feelings go away. But they didn’t. I reached out for help . . . before my chimney went under. ;-)

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So, can we try to reach out to one another more? Share our truths more? I won’t judge you; I promise! I may suggest a counselor but I’d never judge you. :-)  Let’s stop “pretending” everything is okay and going about our days in denial about how much something may be bothering us or altering our lives. Stop biking in the flood, my friend, and admit there are about two feet of water at your feet! The rest of us will help you dry off and find a canoe.

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Do Not Give Up!

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Change – it happens every day. Whether change is positive or negative, it does one thing every time . . .  it makes you re-evaluate your current position and either find a new path or alter the current one.

Let’s talk about big shifts ~

1) Some changes happen quickly but take a long time to work through afterward.

2) Other changes occur over a longer period of time and allow you to acclimate to those changes as time passes.

Abrupt changes are tough. They slam you in the face and say, “HERE! Sort through THIS!” That’s what happened to me when I realized my marriage of a quarter-century was slow-swirling in the bottom of a shallow well. A sudden realization of the enormity of my problems and the likelihood they’d not be resolved while in the marriage . . . well, it made me sick. I became mentally sick and there was an urgent need in me –  I ran away from home and didn’t go back.

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Let’s talk about metamorphoses. I knew what started my mental upheaval. It was my first child moving out of our home. The two “kids” were my life – literally. That nuclear family had cracked down the middle and was threatening to drop me into the abyss of whatever lie on the “outside” of that shelter. After seeing, for the first time, that I had to make a radical revolution in the way I lived, my mind went numb. Autopilot kind of took over.

So, those of you who are new subscribers (about 80 of you), now know a little about my recent past. Here’s a quick lo-down -

Year one – Manic behavior. Spent a lot of money, promiscuous (had a boyfriend at the same time I was going through divorce), flunked out of college twice, drank (I’m not a drinker), smoked (yuck), did other stuff I shouldn’t have (nothing serious), and other classic symptoms of mania. Started anti-anxiety drugs. Aimlessly wandered. Felt blind.

Year two – four – Mania settled and  depression visited. Depression is a sneaky thing. At first, I had “bad days.” I couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t keep my mind working, so instead of finishing nursing school, I became a nursing assistant. Was so disappointed in myself. Just attending a few classes a week was tough. Gained  40 pounds, and tried half a dozen antidepressants. None worked well. Finally, I didn’t leave the house and barely left my bed. I didn’t attempt suicide but came extremely close twice. My support system kept me from leaving life. I was eventually on Bipolar II drugs.

Year five (present) – I have weaned off of all meds because I chose to do so (first time in five years!) with the help of my new doctor.  I have FINALLY found a counselor that I click with. I’m back in college and making As and Bs!! My decision-making is better, my memory is better, and I leave the house on a regular basis. ;-)

I want to share my life with you because it’s been such a strange and difficult ride, and I hope it might shed light on some of your own problems. Three different people (friends and my mother- who doesn’t give accolades where they aren’t warranted) have called me courageous and brave. I didn’t see those traits in myself until recently.

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It can be done, my friends. Wherever you find yourself at this moment . . . if you aren’t happy or healthy or satisfied . . . things can change. If I can go from Life A to Life B (two completely different existences, I promise you), then you can, too. It wasn’t a quick accomplishment. It wasn’t seamless. But, by gosh I am doing it. The little flicker of light inside me that REFUSED to give in or give up – well, it got me through and brought me to the other side. It’s where I am feeling thankful, stronger, and full of hope for the future.

Just a year ago, I was a patient with a Psychiatrist. I took mood stabilizers and antidepressants. I read about my disorder and saw many of my symptoms as classic. Just a year ago, I cried in my king size bed, avoided people, and wished to die every day. Just a year ago, I hated everything I was, saw no redeeming value in living, and planned how to make my savings last so I could continue being disabled and disconnected. It’s all I had.

Note: Not everyone who is going through a difficult life-change necessarily has developed a permanent mental disorder. I was just grieving the loss of my life and staring in the face of a new one that I didn’t know how to live.

Change . . .

It’s evil ~ and it’s heavenly

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Bipolar Disorder – Need to Know Info!

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STABILITY  of moods. That is what the majority of people with Bipolar Disorder seek.

 

(thanks to healthtap.com for the following for questions and answers below)

Dr. William Drescher answers:

What causes bipolar disorder?

Multifactorial So far no one has established a genetic link with bi-polar disorder, and many have tried. It is certainly true that it runs in families, but that can be a result of the family environment. There is a reasonable theory that the manic episodes are a way of combating the depressive feelings and that both are the result of chronic internal stress leading to depletion of neurotransmitters.

What exactly is Bipolar Disorder? One or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy/mood/cognition, with or without 1 or more Depressive episodes. The symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily functioning or cause significant distress.

 

What are some treatments for bipolar disorder?

Bipolar main treatment is mood stabilizers. Other medications are added depending on presentation, such as anxiety meds, antidepressants, antipsychotics. Also Psychotherapy.

 

Dr. Byron Law-Yone answers:

Can anti-depressants help with bipolar disorder?

Yes but …. They must be used carefully. they can sometimes cause a switch from depression to mania. Mood stabilizer meds are the most important and antidepressants can be added if depression cannot be controlled by mood stabilizers alone.. Some believe that there is no role for antidepressant use in bipolar depression. Talk to your psychiatrist about this very important topic.

 

Dr. William Holmes answers:

My mom has bipolar disorder, so am I likely to get it later?

Possibly If your mother has bipolar disorder you are at a higher risk of having the same problem compared to the general population. At the same time, there is no guarantee that you will have bipolar disorder.

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Dr. Bernadette Onuoha answers:

What are some examples that might help me recognize Bipolar Disorder?

Mood swings. Bipolar disorder as the name implies involves highs and lows in mood. Period(s) of depression with at least one episode of mania ie euphoria, insomnia, racing thoughts sexual/financial indiscretions etc.

 

Dr. Neil Liebowitz answers:

How can you tell if you have Bipolar Disorder or just a weird personality?

Level of function. Bipolar disorder is a serious disorder that affects your level of function and has dramatic cycles of energy shifts that last days to months.

 

Dr. Jerold Kreisman answers:

What are some discussions that can help demonstrate to someone that he has Bipolar Disorder?

Ask about how mood changes affect usual routine functions–staying up for days at a time without sleep, not feeling the need to eat, being hypersexual, spending too much, taking on too much responsibility, noting increasing anger and impulsivity.

 

I realize this is, by far, not a complete list of questions/answers about this subject. If you question whether you have a mood disorder, please visit a doctor. Remember . . . only an M. D. can prescribe meds, so an actual psychiatrist is helpful to find. Some only handle medications for patients. Others offer counseling, as well. Meds may be miracle drugs for some. For others, not so much. Counseling has been shown to be helpful, as well. Be proactive, and if you can’t muster the energy to help yourself, ask a loved one to help, but you must be completely honest with him/her about the severity of your symptoms. Don’t waste your life by staying in an abyss of depression or an uncontrollable mania.

Life can be better ~

 

 

 

 

 

What to do With Myself?

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I’m trying to figure out what to do with myself. I have trouble looking into my eyes in a mirror. I tried self-talk . . . maybe regain self-worth. That didn’t work out well. Why can’t I look myself in the eyes?

I’m coming out of an initial “bout” of bipolar 2. I woke up and was full of energy, ideas, and plans. The mania began. I had no idea.
A year and a half later, I fell into deep depression and stayed there for another three years. Yes, really.

Being treated for depression only doesn’t work if you have a bipolar disorder. Ya need a mood stabilizer as well. Didn’t know I had this disorder, so I was spinning in place. Who’d have thought that initial period of weight-loss, extreme exercise, pricey vacations, thoughtless spending, job-hopping, college-flunking, divorcing-a-25-year-husband, taking up with a stranger, drinking, smoking, and other energy-filled activities was actually mania?!

I’m trying to figure out what to do with myself. The old mind is finally coming out of the clouds . . . the fog that encircled my reality. Now I want to know what my reality is. All of the self-evaluation is exhausting, but I see progress in ridding myself of self-hatred.

My mind feels as though it has been shaken and now has small fissures from the traumatic event. The cracks don’t completely heal, however. I’ll be “full o’ fissures” from now on. The injustice makes me mad. In fact, lots of things make me fricking mad. I’ve been over the facts a million times. They don’t change.

I’m trying to figure out what to do with myself.

Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn . . .

 

What do these people have in common?

Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, Rosemary Clooney, Patricia Cornwell,

Robert Downey, Jr., Richard Dreyfuss, Patty Duke, Carrie Fisher, Connie

 Francis, Mel Gibson, Ernest Hemingway, Vivien Leigh, Demi Lovato,

 Kristy McNicol, Florence Nightingale, Jane Pauley, Edgar Allen Poe,

Jackson Pollock, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Sidney Sheldon, Jean

 Claude Van Damme, Virginia Woolf, and Catherine Zeta Jones.

All “-Accompanied by verifiable source citations associating them with bipolar disorder  (formerly known as “manic depression”), either based on their own public statements or (in the case of dead people only) reported contemporary or posthumous diagnoses of bipolar disorder.” (Wikipedia)

“It is often suggested that genius (or, at least, creative talent) and mental disorder (specifically, the mania and hypomania of bipolar disorder) is linked.” (Wikipedia)

Sooo, do we run with it and say, “I knew I was a creative genius!” or will we pity ourselves right into a pathetic un-life. I call it an un-life because untreated or improperly treated bipolar disorder is no way to live. It’s not “living” at all.

C’mon, fellow fighters, gather your wits, gather your support system (or find one), and get to a really good psychiatrist and also a counselor (two different professionals). Don’t stop trying until you find the magic mix of meds! You WILL feel better, loves!

XO

<3 Lea

Bi-polar Bear

Y’know . . . I’ve been floundering for years, wondering why I wasn’t “myself.” I tried anxiety meds, antidepressnts, and bagan to abuse wine (caught myself there). Nothing was really working. I never felt like myself. Sometimes, I’d feel “okay.” Mostly I was depressed and juset didn’t care about anything. The depression worsened until I didn’t get out of bed for days at a time.

Now, thanks to a talented and observant psychiatrist, I’m on meds used for bipolar patients, and they are working! Today is day 2 for me in feeling NORMAL. I can’t tell you how important that is. I could barely even remember what normal was.

I’ve realized that this disorder isn’t going away. I’ll have to deal with it for the rest of my life. I am still grieving the loss of my health. Y’know?

I see Lithium printed on the side of my med bottle and want to cry. Pus a mood stabilizer? What the crap is that? 2 mg of Xanax just to sleep at night? UGH!!!!!

So, this post is dedicated to the sadly forgotten Care Bear, the Bipolar Bear (see him above). Spread the word, dear blue nut. Spread the word.

(XO. Love y’all.)

 

Does Bipolar Disorder Run in the Family?

A note of interest is this: my father was rumored to have this disorder. He killed himself at age 44. My first manic episode (and the one that changed everything in my life) was at age 44.  ~Irony~

This informative article is written by Marcia Purse, Health Guide for Healthcentral.com. Thank you sharing information, Ms. Purse

Does Bipolar Disorder Run in the Family?

Marcia Purse
By Marcia Purse, Health GuideSunday, March 11, 2012

There’s no doubt that there is a genetic component to the risk of developing mental illnesses. Several studies have confirmed this. It’s been found that people with unipolar depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are highly likely to have siblings, half-siblings and children to have one of these disorders or even have symptoms of more than one.

Studies of identical twins show that if one twin has bipolar, the other has very high risk of developing bipolar as well. There is also an increased risk within fraternal twins, but it is much lower than for identical twins.

What about more remote relationships? There are no studies, but here’s a look at a family where four cousins are all diagnosed with bipolar disorder (names changed to protect privacy).

One Family’s True Story

My friend Janet, who has bipolar disorder, also has three cousins on her mother’s side with bipolar. Linda and Stacey are the children of an uncle and Jeff the child of an aunt.

Janet doesn’t know everything about the family history, but was curious enough to put together what she does know in the chart below.

Family Bipolar Chart

As you can see, the only known factor the four cousins have in common is Janet’s maternal great-grandfather, who was diagnosed with “melancholia” (an old term for depression) and committed suicide.

Janet herself, the only one who had childhood bipolar symptoms, also has a history of mental illness on her father’s side.

Is this a stretch? I don’t believe so. Even though all four cousins also have siblings with no known signs of mental illness, it seems more than a coincidence that the four all have bipolar disorder.

Sources: McGuffin, P, et al. The heritablity of bipolar affective disorder and the genetic relationship to unipolar depression.  Archives of General Psychiatry. 2003 May;60(5): 497-502.

Lichenstein, P, et al. Common genetic determinants of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in Swedish families: a population-based study. The Lancet. 17 Jan 2009. 373(9659) 234-239.

Edvardsen, J, et al. Heritability of bipolar spectrum disorders. Unity or hetergenity? Journal of Affective Disorders. March 2008. 106(3) 229-240.

Is Bipolar I Worse Than Bipolar II?

The following article, in its entirety is by Marcia Purse, Health Guide for Healthcentral.com. Ms. Purse is an informative writer. I hope you enjoy.

 

Is Bipolar I  Worse Than Bipolar II?

Marcia Purse
Health GuideWednesday, March 28, 2012

People tend to think of Bipolar I as being “worse” than Bipolar II. In discussions about this, people diagnosed with Bipolar I have sometimes said, “I wish I only had Bipolar II.”

 

I’m not here to tell you people with BP I don’t have a rough time – they do. But what those who said they wished they had BP II, and the public in general, don’t realize is that Bipolar II is profoundly different from Bipolar I.

 

If you have ever had soaring mania, perhaps with hallucinations or delusions; if your mania has ever been so out of control that you had to be hospitalized; indeed, if you’ve ever had a manic episode at all, you have Bipolar I Disorder. Mania and the hypomania of Bipolar II and Cyclothymia (also known as Bipolar III) share some characteristics, but the severity of mania makes a great deal of difference. (See Mania vs. Hypomania)

 

But people who have Bipolar II have a miserable time at the opposite pole: depression. In general, these people have far more depressive than hypomanic episodes. Those depressive episodes last longer and are more frequent than in people with BP I. Again, this isn’t to say that people with BP I can’t have very bad depressive episodes. They just aren’t likely to have them as frequently, or for as long as, people with BP II.

 

And there is one more key difference between the two disorders – the one that sometimes makes me wish I had Bipolar I, believe it or not. That is the fact that people with BP II are very likely to feel at least slightly depressed almost all the time that they aren’t hypomanic.

 

It’s true for me. In fact, my psychiatrist told me that on the 1-10 scale he uses for rating mood, 6 is normal, and most of his patients with BP II hardly ever get above 5 (having to push yourself some), and 4 (having to push yourself often) is more common.

 

That’s where I live most of the time – between 4 and 5, with days I’d rate as 3 at least twice a week. And at those levels, my symptoms don’t even qualify as a diagnosable depressive episode! Yet I’m struggling all the time to a greater or lesser degree. “Up” periods generally don’t last for more than a few hours.

 

So don’t let anybody tell you that because you have Bipolar II Disorder you “aren’t that sick.” Both Bipolar I and Bipolar II are serious disorders. It’s just important to understand that they are so different that they can’t be compared.

 

Sources:

Mantere, O., et al. (2008). Differences in outcome of dsm-iv bipolar i and ii disorders. Bipolar Disorders, 10(3), 413-25. Abstract retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18402629

 

Maina, G., et al. (2007). Health-related quality of life in euthymic bipolar disorder patients: differences between bipolar i and ii subtypes. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68(2), 207-12. Abstract retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17335318

Major Depression: What Does it Feel Like?

“What does it feel like?”

That is what my daughter asked me a couple of days ago – referring to the crippling depression I was feeling. My daughter is 27, happily married, finished with two college degrees, and raising her first child. Her life is full of hope and dreams for the future. I hated to explain to her what my own colorless days were like. Downer!

Outside of my counselors, I don’t think anyone has asked me the question, “What does it feel like?” When Sarah asked me that question (via text), it touched my heart. To know how much she must love me, I mean.

So, I texted her back honestly, but briefly.

She said she wished she could do something to help me.

My mother texted me the same thing (wanting to help me feel better) yesterday. I told her to just keep loving me and letting me vent to her now and then. ;)

I love my family. They are what keep me putting one foot in front of the other.

What does it feel like, you ask?

Chest aches and feels heavy. Tears fill eyes and fall when the pressure hits red. Emotions are hopeless, futureless, aimless, apathetic, sadness, goal-less, joyless, fatigued body and mind. Not enough energy to even bathe (but I do, so my boyfriend doesn’t leave). Think grieving, but the loss is your own identity and autonomy.

So, there it was, and here it is. Today is about a 4 on a scale of 1-10 (one is the saddest). Yesterday was a 3. I guess I’ll go to the store. I need cat litter and cat food and to mail a letter.

Au revoir, mes amis!