mental illness issues

Something Good Comes from Bipolar?

→ May 31, 2012 - 71 Comments

Something Good Comes from Bipolar?

Making a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Bipolar

Many people feel that with this site, I have taken something terrible – bipolar disorder – and turned it into something positive – this site, my writing, etc. People feel that I have taken all the agony and sorrow and turned it into an ability to help people.

And true, those people are right, but I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Read more

Why Don’t People Get Help for Mental Illness?

→ May 20, 2012 - 118 Comments

Why Don’t People Get Help for Mental Illness?

There is a lot of help available for people with a mental illness. There are hotlines, mental health resource locators, therapists, doctors and many others. And yet, many people with a mental illness continue to live every day with bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses without getting help.

And what’s worse is that we know that by not getting help, or by delaying help, the course of the overall illness and outcome is worse.

So why don’t people get help for mental illness?

Read more

The Desperation of Mental Illness and Depression

→ May 16, 2012 - 44 Comments

The Desperation of Mental Illness and Depression

I woke up one morning in 1994 crushed with depression. The first thing I thought of that morning was how much I wanted to kill myself, and if I couldn’t do that, then how much I wanted to hurt myself. I kept cutting implements and bandages near my bed just in case the feelings were too much to bear.

Of course, this was like every morning of my 16-year-old life. I was depressed, but I didn’t know it. I only knew that I wanted to die. I needed to die. I needed it like most people needed breath. And I knew that no one understood.

Read more

What to Do if You Start to Feel Suicidal

→ May 10, 2012 - 48 Comments

What to Do if You Start to Feel Suicidal

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else please get help now. People want to help you. You are not alone.

Often people with bipolar disorder, depression and other mental illnesses feel suicidal. And people often feel suicidal knowing that they aren’t, actually, going to commit suicide. And while the knowledge that you likely aren’t going to commit suicide might be comforting to some, it sure doesn’t make feeling suicidal any more fun.

Starting to Feel Suicidal

And starting to feel suicidal can begin with little things like feeling crushing depression, unstoppable loneliness or indeed feeling nothing at all. People have different cycles that lead to feeling suicidal. Regardless though, when you start to feel like you want off the planet, there are some things you can do.

Read more

Compassion for Those Who Love People with Mental Illness

→ May 7, 2012 - 66 Comments

Compassion for Those Who Love People with Mental Illness

Rarely, if ever, do people accuse me of having a lack of compassion for people with a mental illness. This is probably because I am a person with a mental illness so I kind of know where other mentally ill people are coming from.

Nevertheless, this is exactly what one commenter recently did:

This is a tragic post because the writer is incapable of honoring the struggle of a human being who is in pain. Rather than muster empathy, compassion and problem-solving, she shuts out the people who need her most. There is something wrong with America when families send their loved ones to prison or institutions when what they need most is the love and support of their community.

The commenter is referring to a post wherein I suggested that sometimes the right thing to do is to say goodbye to a person with a mental illness. Particularly in cases where a person is abusive and refuses to get help, sometimes walking away is the only thing left to do in order to protect your own life. I stand by this sentiment.

Read more

Why Do Bad Diseases Happen to Good People?

→ April 30, 2012 - 21 Comments

Why Do Bad Diseases Happen to Good People?

Or, am I a bad person?

Some people believe that if you do “bad” things then “bad” things will happen to you. If you don’t help the little old lady across the street, then a car splashes a puddle over your brand new shoes. That sort of thing. Conversely, if you do help the lady across the street, doing “good,” then something good will happen to you like getting your favorite table at a restaurant. It’s the basic concept of karma (religious underpinnings notwithstanding).

“Good” and “Bad” People are Convenient

This is a very convenient view of the world suggesting that things will “even out” somehow. That bad people will “get what’s coming to them” and that good people will be rewarded in the end. And on some level we’re all taught this and believe it to some extent. Why do people do the “right” thing when no one’s looking? In the back of their mind, part of the reason is selfishly because they want good things to happen to them too.

And that’s all well and good until you realize this: bad things have happened to you. Bipolar is the worst thing that ever happened to me. Does that mean I’m a bad person?

Read more

The Mind-Brain Split and Enlightenment in Mental Illness

→ April 22, 2012 - 26 Comments

The Mind-Brain Split and Enlightenment in Mental Illness

I wrote a rather popular piece a while back called A Damaged Brain and a Mind Trying to Deal with It. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this before as it’s part of my bio. If not, then it might be the first time you’ve heard that turn of phrase.

Commenter Reply

And recently a commenter replied:

I do not believe in this mind/body duality. I believe that you are your body.

OK, no problem. I don’t expect everyone to agree on such things. I have nothing invested in making the world agree with me.

But the thing is, I know there is a brain-mind separation. And how do I know this? Perspective. It’s your free gift with a purchase of 10 or more years of bipolar disorder.

Read more

How to Tell Someone They Have a Mental Illness Part 2/2

→ April 12, 2012 - 4 Comments

How to Tell Someone They Have a Mental Illness Part 2/2

Continued from part one of How to Tell Someone They Have a Mental Illness.

Thirdly, I recommend printing out information about the disorder for the person. There are plenty of resources online that will tell you the basics about a disorder and if you have this information ready, the person with the illness doesn’t have to go searching for it. Books are another good option. But know the person with the mental illness may use this information in dribs and drabs as information overload is a real possibility and will help no one.

Fourthly, look up places and ways the person can get help. There’s no point in pointing out a problem if you can’t offer a solution. In this case the solution is help. The easiest place to get help is your family doctor so maybe you could make an appointment for the person. You family doctor can do an initial assessment and refer the person to the appropriate person (probably a psychiatrist) for a full evaluation.

Additionally, there are all sorts of mental health and addiction related resources available and they are listed by location here.

Read more

How to Tell Someone They Have a Mental Illness Part 1/2

→ April 9, 2012 - 31 Comments

How to Tell Someone They Have a Mental Illness Part 1/2

When someone has a mental illness it can be very difficult for them to see it. The very nature of a brain illness is such that the brain itself has a hard time recognizing it. We are often so wrapped up in the symptoms that we can’t see that what we’re really suffering from is an illness and not just a bad day, bad week or bad month. This is to say nothing of anosognosia, the clinical condition wherein people don’t possess the insight necessary to understand that they are sick.

Sometimes Others Can See We Have a Mental Illness

So sometimes the people around us are the ones that realize we’re sick before we do. Sometimes it’s our loved ones that can clearly see a pattern of behavior that goes beyond unusual into pathological.

But if you know someone who you suspect has a mental illness, how do you tell them?

Read more

Mental Illness – What is “Normal” Anyway?

→ April 5, 2012 - 27 Comments

A pet peeve of mine is when people say, “normal is just a dryer setting.”

Um. No, it isn’t. Normal is a word that means “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.”

Normal is not just a freaking dryer setting and pardon me for stating the obvious, but I am bipolar and I am not normal.

Read more

Overcoming Bipolar Disorder at University

→ March 28, 2012 - 21 Comments

The Bipolar Burble welcomes guest author Daniel Bader, Ph.D of Bipolar Today for today’s post on dealing with bipolar disorder in university. Bader proves again that you can do anything you want to do with bipolar disorder, you may just need a bit of help.

I was a student for a very long time, having just finished up my doctorate after nine years of study, not counting my two years of parental and medical leaves. It was quite a challenge, and most of those challenges came not from the program, but from my bipolar disorder.

However, having gone through it, I wanted to discuss some of the challenges of being a student with bipolar disorder and some of the tricks that I picked up along the way. Hopefully, it can help others who might be presently in university or considering going there.

Challenges as a Bipolar University Student

There were a lot of challenges with being bipolar as a university student, but there were definitely three issues that dogged me through most of my program:

  • Isolation: Studying is an isolating experience. There’s endless research, reading and writing that is done entirely by myself. I found being alone with my moods was rarely a pleasant experience.
  • Fluctuating Self-Esteem: It’s hard at the best of times to evaluate the quality of our writing. With bipolar disorder, my work would often seem incredible or terrible, making it hard to do revisions.
  • Depression: Depression is awful, and it just crushed my ability to work efficiently. As a result, I often found myself falling behind.

My Strategies as a Bipolar University Student

Over time, however, I was better and better able to deal with these problems, ultimately finding my experience a satisfying one.

  • Finding Ways To Be Social: For my entire university experience, I never once lived alone. I lived in residences with shared meals, with a good friend, with my parents and ultimately with my wife and children. This kept me from slipping into the infinite regress of self-reflecting moods that isolation brings.
  • Finding Someone Whose Opinion I Trusted: I was able to develop a good rapport with my dissertation supervisor, who would help me see what was working and not working in what I was doing, when I wasn’t able to get the proper perspective. Before my dissertation, I would often show papers to friends to get their opinions.
  • Getting Help: It took me a while to get proper help as a student, in part because I kept being put on the wrong medications (long story). However, once I had a proper regime of medication and therapy, I found that my depression improved significantly, and I was able to zip through the last few years of my doctorate, even while teaching half-time and starting a family.

University Student BipolarFinal Thoughts on Overcoming Bipolar Disorder at University

Being a student with bipolar disorder, especially a graduate student, provides a lot of challenges. The isolation and fluctuating moods can wreak havoc. However, by figuring out what those challenges were and finding strategies to deal with them, I found I was able to complete and even often enjoy my experience.

Daniel Bader, Ph.D., is a recent graduate and works as a university instructor. He now runs his own website on bipolar disorder called Bipolar Today.

Why Natasha Tracy? Why a Nom de Plume?

→ March 17, 2012 - 72 Comments

Last week on HealthyPlace’s Breaking Bipolar I mentioned that I use a nom de plume. Yes, that’s right, Natasha Tracy is not my legal name. I don’t think this should come as a gigantic shock to anyone given as writers have been writing under pen names since the beginning of the written word.

But apparently it did come as a shock. And apparently people felt betrayed by this piece of information. And apparently some people felt like being rather nasty about it. And apparently some people felt like becoming ex-readers over it.

Well, OK, fine, that’s your prerogative. But I have my reasons for not using my real name. Here are a few.

I don’t want people knowing where I live. I don’t want stalkers.

Allow me to relay a short tale to you.

Writing and Death Threats

I have a good friend who is a writer. He writes on sensitive, emotionally-charged subjects similar to mental illness. And is the case with us online personalities, he got death threats. Horrible, but not something that isn’t expected in the world of the internet.

My friend was the kind of person who did share real details about his life and family and he did use his real name. So when it came time that a stalker really hated him, the stalker found out where his kids went to school and made threats against them.

Yes, that’s right, threats against his kids. Deplorable. Unthinkable. And illegal.

And if you think I’m going to facilitate that type of behavior where I’m involved you’re downright batty.

No, I’m not in the Book

The reason that I don’t use my real name and I don’t tell people exactly where I live is because I don’t want a real-life stalker. It’s because I don’t want someone to make death threats and easily have the capacity to follow them through. It’s because my privacy is important to me. It doesn’t mean I’m not open, or honest, or even make public appearances and videos, but it does mean that you don’t get to be able to easily find me. That is not your right.

I want to be hirable in fields other than mental health.

Again, a short story.

A Nom de Plume for Mental Illness WritingHealth Problems and Stigma

I was working for a very fancy software company. One that makes the software you’ve probably got on your computer right now. I worked among some of the smartest people you can imagine. Their big brains were barely contained in our building.

And while I was working there I had a vagul nerve stimulator implanted. The details aren’t important but suffice it to say that when it activates it cuts off my throat and makes it difficult to speak. So if I was in the middle of a conversation with a co-worker I would wave a magnet in front of the computer implanted in my chest to turn it off so I could continue speaking. I never told people what it was or why I did that, trying to make it as inconspicuous as possible.

However, my co-workers decided on their own that the device must have to do with my heart and that every time I waved something over that area of my body it must be because I was so stressed in the conversation that something was going wrong with my heart. My co-workers assumed that I couldn’t take the stress of the job due to something that had nothing to do with stress.

They just made a judgement without facts.

(I didn’t know this for a long time. Eventually one of my co-workers told me.)

And once I found this out I realized that’s why people had started treating me differently – not because there was anything wrong with me but simply because they perceived that something was.

Employees Judge You

And you can bet the judgements would have been worse if, heaven forbid, they thought I had a mental illness. People suggest that others don’t judge you for your differences when this blatantly isn’t true. I had a slight difference that produced no change in my behavior and yet it changed the way other people treated me. People can be biased and bigoted and small-minded. If nothing else, it’s a subconscious thing.

Employers Judge You

And even worse, in the same environment one of the employees was assumed to be bipolar. And he had to leave the country (and finally the company) to get a fresh start because of how it affected how people treated him.

These are not things I made up. These are things that I have witnessed, things that I have lived. If your experience has been different that is great, but I wouldn’t risk having that kind of experience again. I just wouldn’t.

(Keep in mind that I’ve work in very-corporate America where backstabbing and politics run extremely amok.)

Employers Google You

And let’s not forget that before any techie geek is hired the employer Googles the heck out of them and if they were to find my writings, judgements would run rampant.

Why I Use a Nom de Plume

So, quite frankly, death threats, stalkers, prejudice, hirability and other reasons are why I use a nom de plume.

And I will not apologize for that. You can judge me and feel it discredits me if you like, but I believe my work speaks for itself and your judgement speaks considerably more about you than it does about me.

Page 15 of 25« First...5...1213141516171819...25...Last »