Today marks the launch of HealthPlace’s new campaign that encourages people to Stand Up for Mental Health. You can learn all the details about the Stand Up for Mental Health Campaign here.
What Does it Mean to Stand Up for Mental Health?
So what does it mean to stand up for mental health? Well, basically it means making mental health issues and mental illness visible. It means talking about mental illness. It means talking about people who have mental illness. It means showing your support for others. It means not being ashamed of your mental illness.
Let’s be clear. I am not supported by pharmaceutical companies. No pharmaceutical company has ever paid me one cent. Got it? OK.
But let’s say that Pfizer or GlaxoSmithKline did advertise here, would that pharmaceutical advertisement ruin my credibility?
As per the usual, I’ve been a busy little beaver. I write about five mental health articles a week for blogs as well as other articles for clients. It’s the reason why I’m up on the latest research – I pretty much have to be; I spend most of my day looking at it.
And if you just hang out on the Bipolar Burble – I love you – you might miss a lot of interesting things. So here, without further ado is what has been going on at Bipolar Bites at Healthline.com and Breaking Bipolar at HealthyPlace.com.
Bipolar Bites Blog
Bipolar Bites is a blog I started writing in February for Healthine.com. It contains what I call more “sciency” articles – those with facts and figures and study references. It’s for the mental health geek in many of us.
Recently at Bipolar Bites we’ve seen:
- Medication side effect chat – antipsychotics and brain shrinkage and the danger of dry mouth.
- A companion piece to the one I did on the biological evidence of depression – the biological evidence of bipolar disorder (part one and part two). Hint: there’s lots.
- Something I’ve mentioned before – can people with bipolar disorder properly recognize facial emotion?
- A pet peeve of mine is the notion that some people will commit suicide no matter what you do – I don’t believe that for a second.
- An important issue and the data that supports it – do antidepressants work? And do they work as well as other medications?
Breaking Bipolar Blog
Over at Breaking Bipolar I’ve got all kinds of advice for living with bipolar disorder:
- Does Mental Illness Get Better or Worse?
- How Do I Tell My Parents I Need Mental Health Help?
- Relationships Can’t Fix Bipolar Disorder
- Do We Internalize Mental Illness Stigma – Yes, and this affects recovery. Doctors can also sabotage treatment with medication.
- What to think about when you travel – Travel Tips for the Bipolar
- Why Worrying About Medication Side Effects Won’t Really Help You and What is Medication Tolerance (when medication stops working)
- Mental illness, guilt and making amends.
- Bipolar – Attack of the Body Snatcher – written at the behest of a reader
- Power to the Crazy – Why Writing Off People with a Mental Illness Hurts You and Not Us
- Depression Symptoms – Easy to Tear
- Why It’s Ignorant to Write off Psychiatry – another shot across the bow of antipsychiatry
And while you’re perusing your articles of interest you might want to check out a series I did on mental illness and stigma or my piece for Sharecare: Succeeding with Mental Illness – Slow and Steady Wins the Race.
Oh, and did I mention I got name a mental health hero? (Thanks to Chato Stewart for the drawing seen above.)
Thanks all for your continued to support. I shall continue to do what I do as long as you keep your eyeballs facing forward.
Every six weeks or so I like to do a quick round-up of writings I’ve done elsewhere, just in case you’ve missed them. This session’s round-up include subjects like assisted outpatient treatment, self-harm and mental health stigma. Here are some of the notable articles:
- Assisted Outpatient Treatment Thoughts – I’ve previously written here about assisted outpatient treatment (AOT; also known as Laura’s Law) and I’ve written two additional pieces on Human Rights and Assisted Outpatient Treatment and Does Assisted Outpatient Treatment Work?
- Self-Harm Thoughts – I’ve been on a bit of a self-harm jag recently and I’ve written about Stress Leading to Self-Harm, created a video on Stress, Anxiety and Self-Harm and whether or not to Hide Self-Harm Scars. I’ve received some amazing and touching comments on these pieces.
- Credibility and Mental Illness – ironically, by admitting I write under a nom de plume I seem to have lost credibility with some people on a very post talking about Losing Credibility Due to a Mental Illness.
- Acceptance and Mental Health – as I wrote about Acceptance of Bipolar Disorder Being a Process, acceptance of mental illness treatment is a process also, including the idea that Taking Medication Makes you Weak. This includes information on accepting the limitations placed on us by bipolar disorder.
- “Soft” Bipolar – information on what Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) is. Indications you might be bipolar even if not traditionally so: Soft Signs of Bipolar Disorder.
- Drug-Free Treatments – Alternative Treatments for Bipolar disorder, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Bipolar disorder and Drug-Free Products to Help you Sleep better.
- Understanding How Lithium Treats Bipolar Disorder – mice are helping us understand bipolar disorder and lithium.
Hi all. A lot happens around these parts in six weeks. As most of you know this month I launched a new blog on Healthline.com called Bipolar Bites and, of course, I still have my blog on HealthyPlace.com called Breaking Bipolar.
Bipolar Bites and Breaking Bipolar Articles
In case you haven’t kept up with your reading, here’s the best of what you might have missed in the last couple of months from both blogs:
- A discussion on the unique mental illness therapy deep brain stimulation and bipolar disorder in two parts: New Treatment for Bipolar – What is Deep Brain Stimulation? and Does Deep Brain Stimulation Work for Bipolar Disorder?
- Bipolar Disorder and Fixing Your Circadian Rhythm – The start of several article on light, darkness and your circadian rhythm in bipolar disorder.
- Can Treatment Noncompliance be Good? – An idea that is hard to bring up without seeming to endorse treatment noncompliance. Is treatment noncompliance sometimes the right thing?
- Lack of Understanding of Mental Illness and sometimes even Hatred Towards the Bipolar Community – it’s difficult for someone without a mental illness to understand what someone with a mental illness goes through every day. Here is some of what I go through that I don’t think people understand.
- Is Bipolar a Personality Disorder? – a question that gets asked frequently along with questions about bipolar disorder and identity.
- Mental Illness as a Disability – can we handle the idea that mental illness really is a disability like any other?
- Bipolar Depression and Feeling Nothing at All – a rarely discussed part of bipolar disorder – feeling nothing at all.
- Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Psychosis – psychosis, delusions and hallucinations, isn’t just a part of schizophrenia, as many of us know too well, it’s a part of bipolar mania, and even depression, as well. Recognition of Irritation and Anxiety is also important.
- Telling Your Family You Have a Mental Illness – You’re Not OK – we all face the battle of telling others about our illness, how do we do it and what do we do if family members remain in denial anyway?
- Why Didn’t Evolution Cull Bipolar Disorder? – Bipolar Benefits – are their evolutionary benefits to having bipolar disorder?
Oh, and the mental health resources page has been updated. Check it out.
If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll see if it tickles my fancy.
I’m a pretty busy gal right now, so not a lot of time to write new material. I promise I’ll try to get to something new next week.
- Last Minute Holiday Tips for the Bipolar – just published today. Here are four things you should know before you get any deeper into the holidays.
- What 2011 Taught us About Mental Illness – a wrap-up of the top ten things research taught us about mental illness last year including: bipolar misdiagnosis, bipolar treatment success predictor, mania treatment comparison and antipsychotic information. Part one and part two.
- You’re Narcissistic! Getting Over Insults – How one reader got to me even though I knew they shouldn’t have.
- Celebrating Mental Health News – on why we should celebrate the good moments in mental illness.
- How to Choose a Good Psychiatrist – one I’ve touched on here but in more detail.
- Bipolar Disorder Thought Types – have you ever considered the odd types of thoughts you have a person with a mental illness? I have.
- The Importance of Self-Care in Bipolar Disorder – tips on self-care plus a video.
- Sexual Health and Bipolar Disorder – the sexual concerns of people with mental illness.
Mental Illness Articles You Should Read
As per the usual, however, I plow through my own research materials like a crazy person possessed. So I do know of many excellent articles you should be reading.
Check out these articles from Breaking Bipolar and other great sources:
- Schizophrenia Awareness Fights Fear and Stigma – This is a video embedded in a post at Breaking Bipolar and has been quite well-received. Please take a look at this short piece and learn something about a mental illness that most people irrationally fear.
- Do Mental Illness Diagnoses Matter? – Sometimes people argue that diagnoses are too broad and overlap too much. I’ve even heard of doctors not wanting to tell their patients their diagnosis because they don’t want them “hung up on it.” But I argue that even if ill-fitting mental illness diagnoses do matter. (Also read a good piece about addiction terminology. Did you know “addiction” isn’t in the DSM?)
- Doctors Asking Questions About Suicide – Sometimes it seems like the questions doctors ask about suicidal thought are useless, but I don’t think they are.
- How to Handle the Common Symptoms of Schizophrenia – This is an amazing document by the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society. This is so clear and so useful that I think it’s a must-read for anyone that has or knows someone with any mental illness. It will not just tell you about schizophrenia and psychosis, but will tell you about mental illness thought processes in general. (Also, How Friends and Families can Handle Psychosis.)
- Scientific and Consumer Models of Recovery in Schizophrenia: Concordance, Contrasts, and Implications – Interesting paper that discusses various treatments including medication and non-medication based. Yes, it’s long but there are some interesting bit in there.
Hope you enjoy, I’ll be back with fresh content next week.
As most of you know, in addition to the Bipolar Burble I also author Breaking Bipolar on HealthyPlace.com. I write a column there twice a week as well as produce one bipolar-themed video and two audio files per month. It’s a fairly well-received bipolar blog often with much discussion, feedback and sharing.
Recent Breaking Bipolar Blog Highlights
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Breaking Bipolar lately, here are a few of the highlights:
- How to Help Someone with a Mental Illness – A new piece yesterday in response to someone’s query about helping their newly-diagnosed loved one with bipolar disorder. Helping someone with a mental illness is a huge challenge but these tips seem to be striking a chord with people.
- Mental Illness Treatment and Risk Tolerance – I like this writing a lot. The article talks about how some people are willing to accept greater risk in their chosen treatment of mental illness. It’s about respect and choice.
- Bipolar Disorder and Treatment Stigma – Yes, I was talking about electroconvulsive therapy here but don’t reference ECT directly. I don’t like to bring the hugely contentious issues or opinions onto Breaking Bipolar due to the wide audience and huge amount of (likely negative) reaction it will receive. I do, however, think it’s important to discuss the issues around bipolar/depression/mental illness treatment whether specific or not.
- Mental Illness is Only a Problem when Mental Illness is a Problem – This is essentially in response to people saying every behavior is being labelled a “disorder.” My point is that people only get help when their issues rise to the level of a problem.
- Why Don’t we Shower When we’re Sick – A popular article on the question of forgoing showers when extremely ill. I present four reasons.
- Zealotry and Rules for Debating Mental Illness – I wrote this article in response to the people who insist on making mental illness discussion into nasty, name-calling, unscientific, overly-emotional fighting. Really drives me bonkers.
- Shame and Electroconvulsive Therapy – When I got electroconvulsive therapy I experienced a lot of shame. This really is unnecessary and illogical but has to do with the massive stigma on receiving ECT treatments. (Excellent comment about stigma and ECT treatment here.)
- Minimizing Mental Illness – The Worst Things to Say – Most popular overall article with over 20,000 reads. I added a bonus worst thing to say so someone with a mental illness here on the Bipolar Burble as well.
Upcoming Bipolar Burble Articles
I’m sure that’s more than enough for now. Upcoming pieces on the Bipolar Burble will likely be about hypomania and delusions and possibly regarding the black box warning on antidepressants actually increasing suicides (you can yell at me about that after I write it). There will probably be a piece about my own ECT experience as well as that’s not really covered here (I wrote quite a bit about it on another blog.)
If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Bipolar Burble or Breaking Bipolar or have a question you can always contact Natasha Tracy. I can’t promise I’ll respond but I’ll do my best.
New Mental Health Resources Added
The bipolar and mental health resources page has also been updated. These are good resources you should know about.
I get emails and messages now and then from people asking what to do about their mentally ill loved one. They want to convince their loved one to get help for a mental illness.
These people are in the unenviable position of watching someone they love be sick. And the unfortunate thing about mental illness is that when you confront it, it doesn’t like it very much.
You are trying to tell someone their brain is sick and expecting their sick brain to comprehend and agree with that.
It’s kind of a tall order.
And the thoughts I have on the matter don’t really make the issue sparkle either. Because let’s face it, the person either listens to you or they don’t, and really, they have the right to do either one. Here’s a bit of reality on convincing a loved one to get help for a mental illness.
And for the record, even if you don’t immediately succeed, many of us first hear about our mental illness from a friend, but sometimes that takes a while to sink in.
Once you’ve read this article, you might also want to check out this book for many more ideas about convincing someone to get help for a mental illness.
I have written thousands and thousands of words in this blog and elsewhere about how much I hate medication.
I hate it in the car, I hate it on a train, I hate on a boat, I hate it in the rain.
I hate it in the snow, I hate it in the sun, I hate it standing still, I hate it on the run.
I hate it before breakfast, I hate it after lunch, I hate it in the morning, I hate it during brunch.
And while I could fill an entire blog with all the ways I hate psych meds, I still, take them, everyday.
Weird you say?
(Well, yes. But no more so than the disease it treats.)
Because no matter how much I might hate psych meds, medication non-compliance kills.
It Doesn’t Matter that I Hate Meds, I Am Medication Compliant Anyway
Someone said to me that I have such conviction for a method that has been proven fruitless again and again. Well, yes, but there has been the odd pomegranate here and there. Moreover, I can’t think of anything better with which to convict, so I have to go with what has the greatest (however small) possibility of working. [push]Psych meds are backed by science and doctors and experience; not to mention my personal experience with medication where it has definitely been useful from time to time.[/push]
But I completely understand people who want off their meds. Now. Like. Now. No more medications. No more antidepressants. No more antipsychotics. No more mood stabilizers. No more tranquilizers. No more medications. Medication non-compliance. Now.
Bipolar Medication is Horrible
I get it. Psych meds are horrible. My list of psych med side effects is terrifying, even to me. Some I wouldn’t go through again no matter what. So I totally get it. Bipolar medications and side effects can all but ruin a life.
But Bipolar Medication Saves Lives
But psychiatric medication saves lives too. In fact, it may be saving your life right now, without you even knowing about it. The fact that you’re not trying to kill yourself may be thanks to the little pink pill that you take in the mornings, even though it is your least favorite part of the day.
And that’s the thing. I understand the consuming desire to excise the poison of psych meds from one’s body, but doing so can be just plain dangerous and life-threatening. All sorts of nasty things happen to people when they suddenly stop their medication. This is known as medication non-compliance and is a topic I wrote about at Breaking Bipolar.
If you’ve been reading me for a while, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms I typically experience as a person with bipolar disorder type II rapid-cycling.
My Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
- Sadness / depression / tearing
- Lack of motivation / concentration
- Slowness in thinking
- Thoughts of death
- Decreased need for sleep
- Excessive speed talking / thinking
- Increased productivity
Each symptom depending on the mood of the moment (blue being depression, yellow being hypomania).
However, did you know that someone who also has bipolar type II (maybe even rapid-cycling) might have completely different mental illness symptoms?
Your Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
- Weight loss
- Restlessness. agitation
- Feelings of guilt
- More goal-directed activity
- Spending sprees
- Inflated self-esteem
That is totally different from my list, and yet we’re still both bipolar. The diagnosis “bipolar” is more of a big-tent thing. It’s the clumping of people with group of symptoms into a group called bipolar, but each person in the group is still unique.
In the kink world there is a saying, my kink is not your kink, and that’s OK. That is because kink run the gamut. Some people revere feet, others play with blood and others are only interested in rope-play. And sometimes one group thinks less of another group. You lick boots? Ew. I only play with good, clean rope. or my kink is 24/7 so I’m kinkier (better) than you, who just shows up Friday night nights.
Naturally, entirely silly. Kink is all just kink. It’s all just stuff that would get you kicked out of a vanilla person’s bed, the specifics are inconsequential.
And the bipolar community does the same thing. Somehow we’re caught up in our differences and end up fragmenting the group. And even worse, people seem to have a constant of one-up-man-ship to see who is horrifically sicker. Ridiculous.
So, take a gander at my HealthyPlace piece, My Bipolar Isn’t Your Bipolar But That’s OK, where I write (and talk) all about it.
Some people really hate the bipolars. Bipolar disorder evokes ire in many. I’ve had people refuse to see me for no other reason than I am bipolar. Bipolar seems to make you grow another head, or tentacles, or something.
But that is not the worst part. Not by far. No, the really bad bit is why people hate people with bipolar disorder so much. Among the other accusations, I’ve seen: we’re liars, we cheat, we manipulate and we’re violent and angry. These particular myths along with three others are in Seven Biggest Myths About Bipolar Disorder.
People Show Prejudice Against Bipolar Disorder
The thing is, the people who make these accusations, like everyone with a prejudice, is simply showing ignorance and a lack of rationality. It doesn’t matter what group of people you hate, you’re always showing ignorance and a lack of rationality. It’s terribly unimpressive.
What generally happens is that a person has a bad experience with one person, who is bipolar, and then generalizes to all of bipolar-kind and possibly mental-illness-kind. And they blame every problem on the bipolar. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. In fact, it’s stupid. Sorry, it just is.
But there it is, my little poke back at the prejudice. I hope it makes someone think.
Like that? Well you’ll love another Top Ten Psychiatric and Bipolar Myths.