mental health

Mental Health Mobile Applications – What Do You Want?

→ April 6, 2015 - 2 Comments

Mental Health Mobile Applications – What Do You Want?

Mental health mobile applications (apps for your phone, generally) can do things like track your mood, track your sleep and are targeted at different populations like people with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. But there are gaps in the marketplace, things that are not currently being addressed by mental health mobile applications. So my question is for you, if you could have any mental health mobile application, what would it be?

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A Mental Health Picture Book for Kids – Free Signed Copy

→ November 14, 2013 - 60 Comments

A Mental Health Picture Book for Kids – Free Signed Copy

The Bipolar Burble blog welcomes Karen Tyrrell back. Karen is an Australian author and teacher and she has written a new book Baily Beats the Blah. This is a picture book that aims to help kids develop more awareness around mental health and build up mental health coping skills.

Leave a comment below to be entered to win a free, signed copy of the book.

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Why “Mental Health” Can Be Insulting to the Mentally Ill

→ October 1, 2012 - 79 Comments

Why “Mental Health” Can Be Insulting to the Mentally Ill

There is a bone of contention in the mental health world. Well, OK, there are many, but one of them is the terms “mental illness” and “mental health.” It seems more politically correct these days to say “mental health” vs. “mental illness.”

For example, people have mental health conferences, not mental illness conferences. There are mental health policies, not mental illness policies. And so on. I guess it’s the glass half-full theory. Mental health is more positive than mental illness (and don’t get me started about the term “behavioural health”).

But there is a problem with this whole rosy-colored view. It completely ostracises and further stigmatizes people with a mental illness.

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The Dance of Anger – A Memoir Excerpt

→ March 20, 2012 - 16 Comments

The Bipolar Burble welcomes author of Hopping Roller Coasters, Rachel Pappas for today’s guest post.

I wrote my memoir as an apology to my daughter, who I tore apart emotionally and verbally for years. But I also wrote the book to quiet some old ghosts. And I wanted to remind people fighting similar demons they are not alone.

My Ugly Dance

Probably like many of you, my “ugly dance” began ages ago – before I was old enough to know my own steps. I was following my very unhappy, sometimes untamably furious mother’s lead. I kept dancing once my daughter was born.

The red hot flashes would come on, the wires in my head would tighten, then pop, and I’d go at Marina. Later I’d kiss her tear-streaked cheek, tuck her in. Flip the light switch with the white kitty and sparkles, and hope my little girl would sleep soundly. Feel sick about what I’d just done, then do it again.

My sweet girl with the pixie cut and bangs accepted my apologies. Over and over.

Then Came Angry Adolescence

This was the start of the ground-rumbling, mother daughter meltdowns. Marina screaming with her fists clenched. The head banging and threats, because by now she was angrier than me.  We had a long, rough ride … five schools in five years, a blur of ambulance rides and overnights in the ER. And two years locked in a residential treatment center for sick, angry kids.

After a decade of pushing to find better meds, better psychiatrists, better therapists for both of us, Marina and I have started to heal.

Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Ready to Take On My Mother

I think I’m ready to tune it out, just take a hit of my Tension Tamer tea. A few back and forths to my therapist for a quick fix, and I’m so close.

Anger and Mental IllnessThen a call from my brother once Mom’s been on a marathon spiral, and I flash back … see him six years old, backed in a corner while she goes at him with his orange, plastic Hot Wheel tracks. I’m in my ugly dancing shoes again. I have a long, seething rant. Then I hate myself for hating her. Because this is who this woman is . . .

A mother who would tell her child she was going to read her obituary in the paper. Then come in her room the next night and pick her up because her child was sick. She held me, my long gangly legs dangling down her side while she cried herself, like she did every time one of her kids hurt.

I lob back and forth, between the orange Hot Wheel tracks, and my head on her shoulder while she rubbed my back. I volley between the mom screaming she’s going to drown the cat. And the one who hugged and kissed my dad, and danced with him in her bare feet–him in his slippers–in his last days.

She hasn’t changed in the 50 years I’ve known her; and probably never will. So guess who has to be the one to shift gears if she’s going to hang up her “ugly dance” shoes?

One of the hardest things in life is letting go. You fight to hold on, and you fight to let go.

The tricky part is figuring out what, or who, you can hold onto–or how to hold them at a distance that works. So at the same time, you can let go of what you need to leave behind.

Memoir Excerpt: Hopping Roller Coasters

“You used to tell me you probably had cancer,” Marina said. “Why did you say that to me, Mom. Why?!?”

A few tears spilled as she let herself go back in time, to when she was just five. Hearing her mother say she may be dying … leaving her alone and unprotected. Feeling her sad, angry eyes on me now, I want to kick myself in the ass. I’m speechless and ashamed–and touched. Touched that of all the things she had to get out in this family therapy session, it was the fear of losing me that came first.

Still, I couldn’t admit that I screwed up, though I could see it clearly now, and I started thinking again about other hideous things I’ve said to her. I squirmed in my seat, thinking about all the baggage she’s hauled over the years. And I remembered what her therapist, Ericka told me privately earlier: “She’s holding a lot inside. When it surfaces, she’s going to vomit it all out. It’s going to come gushing.”

I wasn’t sure if Marina could ever understand, even if I could admit my mistakes. I didn’t completely get it myself. But I remember growing up incensed about the make-believe games in our house. I hated the pretending.

“Rachel was angry, even as a child. It started way before there was tension in our home,” my Mom would tell relatives.

She didn’t remember her bad days, when she couldn’t bring the reins in.

“You’re going to wake up in a box!” she’d scream between clenched teeth, shaking her head agitatedly. You could practically visualize the internal wheels spinning as she paced with her dust cloth, thinking out loud under her breath …

“That’s a lie! I never said that!” she told me years later when I summoned up her demons and threw them in her face … I was furious. Why couldn’t’ she see I needed her to acknowledge it? I needed an apology, damn it.

Now it was my turn to dislodge my tail, the one I’d stuck between my legs just now, when my daughter exposed me in front of her father and therapist.

Instead I said, “I never said that to you, Marina.” I’d taken only a split second to process what I’d just heard.

“You DID!” she shrieked, her face burning red. “You used to tell me you had cancer.” The tears were flowing full force now.

I fell silent, but the memory was surfacing. I couldn’t fix it now. Still, my baby had to hear how very sorry I was.

For more excerpts or to order Hopping Roller Coasters at a discount:

Stop Trying To Stigmatize Me – Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

→ October 23, 2011 - 47 Comments

Stop Trying To Stigmatize Me – Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

It seems it’s more politically correct these days to say “behavioral health” rather than “mental health.” Hospitals and governments are changing their programs from mental health programs to behavioral health problems. And somehow this is progress. Somehow this is less stigmatizing.

How’s that again?

Did my behavior suddenly become a problem while I wasn’t watching? Because, quite frankly, I found the notion there was something wrong with my mind to be insulting enough, to find out that now, my behavior is the problem has pushed me over the insultant edge.

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Mental Health Information – 3 New Things

→ August 4, 2011 - 1 Comment

Sometimes writing for a living drives me bonkers. Basically, I have to be brilliant on-command. And seriously. That’s hard.

You. Write. Be brilliant. Now!

It’s a lot of work for me. My brilliance gets tired and bogged down in the bits of my job I don’t like doing.

However, then I’m reminded there are many wonderful things about my job. Specifically, I get to learn new things, every day, all the time. While others work at real jobs I spend all day looking up facts and studies and learning things I didn’t know when I woke up.

I love that stuff.

3 Things I’ve Learned About Mental Health

Three New Mental Health Articles

So, I’m creating a weekly feature by sincerely flattering Jane Friedman and stealing her idea. (Jane writes Three Happy Things about writing once a week. Go check her out.) I’m not sure they will be three happy things, exactly, but I will be sharing three new things about mental health I’ve learned each week.

This will give me a chance to share smaller details that don’t make it into a full blog post, pimp the resources I like and otherwise share my knowledge.

On board? Great!

Three New Things About Mental Health

Not surprisingly, I’m inundated with information about mental illness/psychiatry/psychology. I’m constantly researching, reading articles, checking sources and other such things. I come across things I like and things I don’t.

  1. What I don’t like – the British Psychological Society’s comments on the revisions proposed for the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The British Psychological Society appears to be a non-profit group dedicated to psychology/psychologists. Which is fine. I’m a fan of psychology/psychologists. But their remarks on the DSM-V revision sound like propaganda nonsense. Not only can they not get through a paragraph without cutting-and-pasting, they seem to have only one thing to say – we don’t like the idea of diagnosing mental illness; oh, and we’re better than you.
  2. What I do like – a Psychiatric Times article: The FDA Advisory Panel on the Reclassification of ECT Devices. I wrote about this issue for Breaking Bipolar to put it into smaller, more easily-digested chunks. (Why There Isn’t More Modern Data on ECT and Should the FDA Consider ECT Devices Less Dangerous.) But read the original article. It’s good and shines a light on yet another ECT issue that get’s people’s knickers all twisted.
  3. What I think is interesting – a journal article on methods of schizophrenia treatment. This article is interesting because it outlines non-North American treatment options as well as standard antipsychotic/medication options. The article’s goal is to define schizophrenia recovery and use evidenced-based methods to determine the best path to schizophrenia recovery. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself about schizophrenia.

I do admit, those may not be easy reading, but they are worthwhile reading (or skimming, anyway).

I’ll see you next week when will I learn more and try to do better.

PS: If anyone has any direct knowledge of the British Psychological Society I’d love to hear it. They seem quite legitimate but I have to question the motives of such an odd report.