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Are you uncomfortable and don’t know what to say? Is this why the majority have ignored me? Well you are in for a bumpy ride. I can guarantee that when my son died you had no earthly idea what to do or say, but you DID sent cards and called. When someone is dying from a PHYSICAL illness or is enduring a PHYSICAL illness, you reach out. I have not been home (Buffalo) in 3 years (could be a clue) and had the COURAGE to publicise my  illness, including its severity and I can count the responses on my 2 hands. It would be hypocritical to send cards and attend funerals for those ignored during their illness, wouldn’t you think? Some Bipolar Disorder stats for you; there is no cure, the illness is in my fucking face everyday, life expectancy cut by 9 years, suicide is the number one cause of premature death, 25-50% attempt suicide once, one in five are successful, Bipolar Disorder is the 6th leading cause of disability in the world, affects 5.5 million in USA, 1/3 of homeless population have Bipolar, 90% divorce rate, 50% with drug addiction, bankruptcy and financial issues are higher, ……….

“The stigmatization and the excruciating pains of social alienation have compelled most victims to conceal their status while the malevolent ones continue to distribute the virus free of charge to unsuspecting men and women”Oche Otorkpa, The Unseen Terrorist

Suicide-for those of you who view this as cowardly and selfish, try putting this in your pipe and smoking it….

When we criticize the suicidal for being selfish, we are actually criticizing them for not enduring their pain with grace and good manners. These are nice qualities; we may be correct to reproach average citizens for not having them. But to expect everyone in pain to have them is unrealistic. Bearing pain quietly is what moralists call a supererogatory act–an act that is above the call of duty. Expecting everyone to who is suicidal to behave in a way that is morally above average is simply abusive.”David L. Conroy, Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain

“Even when we turn around, there are no footprints behind us… Nor the road we came along, nor the tune we hummed… When we die, No-one will know it’s happened”Kazuya Minekura, Stigma

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.”Shannon L. Alder

It is sad that I had to seek internet studies and writings to validate my feelings

Think about what it would be like to spend most of your time alone because being around other people is just too difficult. You feel that others are judging you for your mental illness, and so you are scared to face the world. You withdraw to avoid this stigmatization. This social withdrawal is emotionally very costly. But this is a two-way street — the mentally ill withdraw from society–society withdraws from them

Social relationships are important for anyone in maintaining health, but for the mentally ill it is especially important. People with mental illness value contact with family. But families may be unwilling to interact with their mentally ill family member. Social isolation is also sometimes due to the unwillingness of others to befriend the mentally ill. The public may avoid them altogether. The stigma associated with mental illness creates huge barriers to socialization.

Another reason the person with mental illness may experience social isolation is the nature of their mental illness. Social phobias like agoraphobia, or severe anxiety or depression often cause the suffering person to be afraid to venture out into society.

When anyone, mentally ill or not, does not have enough social contact, it affects them mentally and even physically. Loneliness creates stress, taking a toll on health. Other things affected can be the ability to learn and memory function. High blood pressure is also seen. It can be the trigger of depression and alcoholism. (2) Imagine the consequences, then, if you are already depressed or have other mental illnesses? Loneliness can make you worse. Loneliness and loss of self-worth lead many mentally ill to believe that they are useless, and so they live with a sense of hopelessness and low self-esteem

Too often the public does not understand the challenges of the mentally ill and doesn’t want to try. It is therefore necessary to confront biased social attitudes in order to reduce the discrimination and stigma of people who are living with mental illness.

WHAT HELPS WHAT HURTS
I know you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings. It’s all in your head.
I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help. We all go through times like this.
You are important to me. Your life is important to me. You have so much to live for– why do you want to die?
Tell me what I can do now to help you. What do you want me to do? I can’t do anything about your situation.
You might not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change. Just snap out of it. Look on the bright side.
You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. You’ll be fine. Stop worrying.
Talk to me. I’m listening. Here’s my advice…
I am here for you. We will get through this together. What’s wrong with you? Shouldn’t you be better by now?

Oft-times the diagnosis of bipolar distances people even more greatly from their empathy, removing people’s compassion for the suffering one who lives with this disease. Without that compassion and empathy, we become unable to hear the cries and screams of our loved ones with a bipolar diagnosis. At the same time, in their minds, people’s silence and “not knowing what to say” equates to them hearing us screaming back at them to “snap out of it”. Meanwhile, that same pregnant silence makes the opportunity to openly discuss what’s going on in the mind of our loved one with bipolar even more remote.

In other words, we experience unheard screaming in the silence: First and foremost, society’s silence, in refusing to have an open, frank and meaningful conversation about mental illness. Bipolar manic depression seems to be the most misunderstood diagnosis. Secondarily, there is the silence of the One trying to communicate what dire straights they are in (while they are in a downward spiral). And last, but not least, there is the silence of those living with and around those living with bipolar. The sad fact is, all the while, a distress signal is being sounded – but unheard.

We must also remind people that we may have a mental illness, but we are NOT the mental illness, itself.

Severe anxiety can literally cause physical pain to the point of mimicking a heart attack, yet many people are told to get some fresh air or try deep breaths. Someone with bi-polar disorder, who may be having a manic episode, can seem irritated or agitated — “So maybe we need stay away from Dave at work today because he’s in one of his moods again.” Someone with depression may not be able to get out of bed to hang out with friends — “Stop being a baby and come out!” All of this advice from friends, co-workers, and family, may seem light-hearted and they may be done with the best of intentions, but it is usually these words that seriously affect the way a person acts and reacts to others with regards to their condition. Not only do people with mental health conditions suffer inside, they are judged on a daily basis by those closest to us. “What’s wrong with her again”, “You’d feel better if you left your house once in a while”, “You’re just having a bad day”.

“Not only do I feel like absolute crap, I then have to convince others, or prove that I have a legitimate reason for feeling this way. “Dealing with a mental illness can often be a very lonely, misunderstood place where you feel stuck no matter what you try to improve conditions. Imagine the battles we face daily in our own heads, now add the stress of dealing with the outside judgmental world.

Sympathy towards those with physical conditions flows freely. If we as a society can somehow react the same way towards someone struggling with a mental health condition, life could be a little bit easier for them. It’s not helpful to dismiss how someone may be feeling , like their mental health issues are not legitimate or valid. In fact it can actually make things worse. You think most people want to wake up and feel like they can’t even get out of bed to shower, or that we want to worry about things so far in advance to the point it makes us physically ill? Most of us with mental health conditions so badly want to live a “normal life”, but we still need to realize our limits and take care of ourselves.

In a nutshell, bipolar people have troubles due to the symptoms of the illness and others who do not understand associate the stigma and prejudice. That can only hurt those with bipolar disorder. It doesn’t help anyone. It only alienates those who have the disorder, and then, it just picks at them to their core.

Social Distancing- when people feel that an individual with mental illness is dangerous, that results in fear and increased social distance. This social distancing may result in the experience of social isolation or loneliness on the part of people with mental illness. This stigma and social distancing have the potential to worsen the well-being of people with mental illness in several ways. First, the experience of social rejection and isolation that comes from stigma has the potential for direct harmful effects. It has long been understood that social isolation is associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes and even early mortality – “the lethality of loneliness.”

More, people with mental health issues recognize and internalize this stigma to develop a strong “self-stigma.” This self-stigma will often undermine self-efficacy, resulting in a “why try” attitude that can worsen prospects of recovery. Further, as people begin to experience symptoms of their mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, stigma may cause some people to try to avoid, separate from or suppress these feelings, all of which have been linked to the worsening of well-being.

Thank you to the 10 people who reached out to me and NOT a close family member of mine (those supportive words never reaching my ears). I refuse to acknowledge your concern and would appreciate help destroying the stigma of mental illness you are supporting instead. Send a card or call someone (other than me) with a mental illness and let them know you care. They might not respond, but that is part of the mental illness package…….

Emmy award-winning actress Glenn Close has launched a BringChange2Mind Campaign to fight stigma

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was high in early June and it didn’t cost me a cent, only a dive into the black waters of depression. Hypomania is an exhilarating switch from hell and I never know when it is coming. When this mood approaches, I am filled with creative ideas, energy, talkativeness, euphoria, excitement, goals, dreams and the list goes on and on……. I want to savor every minute of this mood switch because my heaven will eventually crash and burn. Why can’t it stay longer than 10 days???

Hypomania is a CONSTANT state of euphoria. Who wouldn’t want this after coming out of depression?Motivation and direction are so welcomed after long periods of being clueless on what to do, how to do it and do I have enough energy to follow through.

Hypomania is a complete RUSH, my heart races and adrenaline is off the charts. First is the need to clean and organize without needing much sleep,then comes the ideas. The “Lists” start; one by my bed, one in the truck, one in the TV room and one in the kitchen. Tiny scraps of paper with ideas scribbled so fast I can hardly decipher the words. Then I get everything I need in sight; garden tools, paint, bricks, hardware, sewing machine…………..I start all these projects at once-multi-tasking, forgetting that within a short amount of time it ends and everything will sit incomplete, adding to the misery of depression.

Hypomania can switch to full-blown mania and has in the past, fortunately I have not been hospitalized for this mood. Mania for me means hallucinations, rage, irritability and high anxiety. Looking at the past 2 years I should have another round of hypomania/mania this summer.

Hypomania/mania means we have excessive amounts of serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter). So what do they give us…..anti-psychotics which quickly kills the serotonin, creating  a numb, emotionless, non-motivated zombie most likely headed for depression. I down-play this mood to my doctor and handle it on my own if manageable.

Stephen Fry’s explanation of bipolar moods couldn’t be more precise, click here

Below is Shanee’s view on hypomania

Response by Shandee United States on 6/16/2011 12:41:14 AM

I am 36 years old and have had severe depression as long as I can remember. A few weeks ago the suicidal thoughts became very persistent and I decided to take myself to the hospital for some help. I had tried antidepressants before without much luck and thought they were basically a joke. The hospital put me on Wellbutrin XL and OMG!! I had the most wonderful euphoric hypomanic episode of my life! Of course I didn’t know that was what was happening, I just thought that Wellbutrin was the best high I could ever hope for. I am normally a very shy quiet person and not outgoing at all. I became talkative, funny, engaging, and I felt so empowered. I made friends with everyone on my unit and everyone wanted to be around me and I became a leader full of confidence, and I was the center of attention for the first time in my life and I swear I glowed….Best day ever.

I have had a few more days like that since, but they are followed by a crash and an overwhelming since of despair and hopelessness and the next day I can barely move, I feel like I have the worst hangover of my life. It seems so unfair that such a wonderful feeling can end so horribly….I want to be that girl that everyone loves all the time, not the girl that no one understands or wants to be around.

Tonight I took my first dose of Lithium and I have to admit that I hesitated before I took it…I hate the thought of never feeling that high again. Sometimes I think it is so worth the crash to feel so amazing even for a short time. I don’t know what lithium has in store for me, but I will never ever forget the amazing feeling of euphoric hypomania.

When I don’t have to leave the house it is a huge sense of relief. Staying home is my preference because anxiety will overcome me. Anxiety will build when I know groceries and gas are low, but I will wait until the last piece of bread is eaten or the gas light is illuminated (this is almost constant because I usually can only stay for a mere $20 worth). 

Anxiety is fucking crippling and this bitch rules me along with bipolar moods.

Time of day- if I don’t leave the house before 11  I probably won’t go shopping. There will be traffic and long lines.

Noise- if I do venture out during active hours I may run into potential stress-screaming or unruly children in line. These are triggers and could send me into a full blown panic attack (where I would just leave my cart and go home). During high anxiety every sound has the same volume. People talking, the music, the buzzing of the lights, cell phones ringing, cash register buttons, opening and closing of doors, the shuffle of groceries and my brain is on stimulation overload and need to exit quickly because it is impossible for me to function and focus.

Getting gas-this is also a challenge. I need to make sure there are no problems; the station is off the road I am driving on, no lines, the pump is close to the clerk, there are no people gathering outside (they may see the fear in my face or worse, make a comment resulting in verbal conflict-fight or flight response).

I have to keep a bottle of water, lavender spray, chap-stick, gum/candy, e-cigarette in my purse at all times for stressful moments. Anxiety brings about heavy breathing, drying the throat and lips. The electronic cigarette and lavender spray may calm me.

There are only a few times I am not in the house by 3:30 (well before traffic) because I can get lost easily and driving in the dark is a nightmare. I will avoid going into the public at all costs when there is a hint of anxiety…..

 

 

“Diana, you make me tired just watching you” or “Where do you get the energy for all this” were normal questions people asked of me over the years. Hypomania and mania were very common moods where I could multi-task and run circles around anyone without being tired. Christmas cards and cookies were started the day after Thanksgiving, bills were paid early, dinner was prepared by 9am, nothing in the house was out of order, no appointments were forgotten and my arrival time was always 10 minutes early.

Bipolar Disorder has a vice grip around my head affecting every aspect of my life. I feel like time has stood still for 3 years wasted with this shitty illness that knocks me around physically and emotionally, not to mention the impact on my family.

Being a designer and a perfectionist (or was a perfectionist) is a double hit because everything inside and outside of my house needs to be designed perfectly, EVERYTHING. When I get stuck and hyper-focus on something that is not working, I feel absolute disgust with myself, the anxiety with frustration builds and depression is intensified.

It can be unbearable to realize someone else CAN DO THIS and I have to WAIT until my mood episode changes. Wait….Wait…Wait while time passes by….

Walking away and try again later when feeling better….. Easier said than done.

There is never a typical day and one never knows what the mood will be. High anxiety, paranoia, panic, irritability, anger/rage, depression, hypomania or mania are some of my typical days. Hypomania is the closest to a “normal mood”, but always ends in depression or full blown mania. These moods are influenced by sleep, stress, my personal triggers (events that change mood) and side effects from medication or the interaction of many. It is difficult to plan anything or to work (so I don’t). I’m a recluse and isolation is much easier to handle. I avoid people, mail/email, phone calls at all costs because the energy needed to “fake it” is exhausting.

The correct medication should keep bipolars pretty even, but not perfect. For 3 years doctors have been trying to find the compromise and failed.

I seem to be a “rapid cycler”, which means I have at least 4 changes in mood each year, with depression as the dominant. This type of bipolarism is more difficult to treat and when combined with panic disorder, ADHD, and Seasonal Affective Disorder it is a nightmare. Some medications that treat certain conditions cannot be used because of the danger of intensifying other conditions. Medications include a mood stabilizer, anti-depressant, stimulant, anti-anxiety, sleeping pill and sometimes an anti-psychotic at one time.

So chances are that a typical day is a shitty day…….

We waited 90 minutes at the “Free Clinic”  to see Julie, who provides my psychiatric medications, just to be told she could not help me. I have been a patient here for 2 years being juggled from one prescriber to the next, Julie being the 5th. My chart/case is in limbo waiting in some file cabinet to be transferred to another doctor or nurse!!!! Why didn’t someone call me when Julie decided she didn’t have the confidence to treat me (her words). Why the fuck did we waste time with this appointment!!!!

So very strange because “I” requested a transfer months ago because I did not have confidence in HER and like always, no one got back to me. This is our mental health care system at its finest.

We all decided to ween me off every medication to clean my system and start fresh because 15 different medications over the past 3 years have been ineffective. I have been med-free for about 6 weeks and thought we were to introduce one medication at a time in order to see effects of each. Time is being wasted as I lay on the couch everyday with no energy to work, complete household chores or basically anything. I even missed my therapy session this past Monday because I had no energy to drive and have complete exhaustion from 4 hours of sleep each night for weeks.

During this appointment I asked for Trazodone for sleep. This medication is one I have been on for years for insomnia. For those with bipolar, sleep is very important because lack of it can throw someone into a manic episode. Another reason I cannot sleep is the constant throbbing pain in my feet and calves (it’s difficult for me to stand longer than a couple of minutes. We have started another long journey of trying to figure out what is medically wrong with me).

The waiting game is constantly played in this house. Waiting for doctors/nurses to call back, waiting for medications to be approved or denied by insurance, waiting for blood test results, waiting for specialist appointments, waiting 2-6 weeks for medicinal effects on my system, so what the hell is the difference now……lets just wait. Lost 3 years, what is another few months……

 

 

I checked into a crisis center (for those who could do harm) so I could wait there until a hospital bed opened (5 days of HELL). Moses Cone Hospital decides to take a girl (who spent less than a day) before me. I have no health insurance for mental health and we are still paying on my hospitalization from 2 years ago. This girl has medicare (which the hospital would be paid immediately), just decided to stop taking her medication, she smokes crack and boyfriend does heroin. I felt lost and alone when this happened. Hospitals can choose who they let in and it’s all about the dollar. At that point, I no longer wanted to be hospitalized for fear of how I would have reacted.

The crisis center was nothing like I imagined. Bed bolted down was the only thing in my room, along with snot on the wall where my head laid. Meals were high in fat and carbohydrates fed to us on paper plates, on the dirty floor. I did not breath fresh air the entire stay. There were other patients with anger issues that would wake me up in the middle of the night screaming, ” fuck this, fuck that, I am ready to leave this fucking place.” On occasion, they would be placed in the padded cell by the police officer or security guard. There were teenagers who had to hear all of this too. I didn’t take a shower for days because another patient said she just had a miscarriage (wasn’t true) and shit on herself. This same patient was pushing my buttons and thank you to the police officers, they helped me from attacking her.

I spent 5 days without any medicinal treatment. What a waste of time. They kept telling me that this is only a holding facility. You would think that treatment for the severely depressed would start immediately and continued at the hospital. The doctor prescribed paxil for depression and oxcarbazepine as a mood stabilizer. Unfortunately takes weeks to see if anything works. I just have to wait it out and stay calm.

For anyone that can help with my hospital bills and everything else, you can send to

Diana Williams

2652 NC Highway 62 East    Liberty, NC 27298

I cannot thank you enough……click here to read the story

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