bipolar disorder

Worst Things To Say a Person with a Mental Illness

→ September 16, 2010 - 135 Comments

Worst Things To Say a Person with a Mental Illness

I think everyone with bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, has their own personal list of annoying things people have said to them and about them. I’ve listed my 10 least favorite things to say to a person with bipolar disorder, plus a bonus #11. #11 is just my absolute least favorite.

Worst Thing to Say to a Person with a Mental Illness – We Create Our Own Reality

We create our own reality. This is one of my most hated sentences in the English language. This sentence screams of middle-class-real-problemless-spoiled-rich-person. Yes, undoubtedly people who have homes and families and health and happiness can make their own reality. They can fix the issues they have, like leaky pipes, and not be upset when the paperboy misses their front porch. I have no doubt this is possible.

But give me a fucking break.

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Am I Manic or Hypomanic?:

→ September 9, 2010 - 2 Comments

Last week I provided a real look inside a hypomanic mind, which was interesting (more on living hypomania), but doesn’t really address the question of: what is hypomania?

What is Hypomania?

Hypomania, as a word, is becoming more well-known as bipolar II becomes more well known. People though, are often confused as to what hypomania is. Hypomania is not mania. The easy way to tell the difference is: if you’re not in the hospital, you’re probably not manic. Check out my article at HealthyPlace for more on the Difference Between Mania and Hypomania.

A Glimpse Into Hypomania

→ September 2, 2010 - Comments off

Blur of Hypomania, ManiaI do stream-of-conscious bipolar writing here sometimes. I like it. And actually, other bipolars generally respond quite well to stream-of-conscious writing as well. I have found, though, that those without mental illness are left somewhat dumbfounded. Or, at least, that’s the impression I get from the lack of feedback. Stream-of-consciousness writing is tough to get if you’ve never been in that type of consciousness. Hypomania. Crazy.

I Do Stream-of-Conscious Bipolar, Hypomanic Writing Anyway

Nevertheless, I insist on doing streamed bipolar writing anyway. I’m obstinate that way.

And I really think hypomanic stream-of-conscious is illuminating, particularly for those with no experience in it. It really helps to give a glimpse into a moment of life in my brain. So for HealthyPlace I wrote, Hypomania Means Never Having to Make Sense.

Take a gander. Let me know what you think.

Hypomanic Morning Means A Devastating Afternoon

→ August 25, 2010 - 9 Comments

This is not of the quality you typically find here. Sorry.

I knew I was hypomanic because yesterday I couldn’t sleep.

Not sleeping. Waking multiple times during the night. That’s hypomania.

I’m sleeping too little, eating too little, producing too much and feeling too OK; that’s hypomania. It makes you brilliant and insightful and creative and magical. It also makes me completely fucked up.

The hypomania is probably from being on Pristiq and Welbutrin together. That’s a long story.

Being a Writer, My Wordiness is Hampered

I know these words aren’t coming out right but that’s because I’ve had 6 mg of Lunesta, now 9 mg with clonazapam to boot. Sleep is critical to calming the mood swings, hypomania, depression so I try to make sure I get sleep, but at the moment my attempts aren’t looking terribly successful.[push]This is higher hypomania than I’ve been in quite a while.[/push]

So that’s right, I’m smashed on meds, typing incoherently, and I know, that in very short order this hypomania go to end with a devastating mess of epic proportions.

Hypomanic SymtpomsSigns of Hypomania

Signs of hypomania have probably been going back to a week ago, which is far for a gal like me. Usually with bipolar rapid cycling you’re up, you’re down, you’re hypomanic, you’re depressed, with almost no warning signs. But not at the moment. I’ve become so terribly obsessive over – everything. And song are getting stuck in my head for days. Over and over and over I hear the same pop tune endlessly playing.[pull] “I Would Die For You” by Prince was yesterday’s favorite, who knows what today’s will be.[/pull]

Yup, hypomania. Work production goes up, creativity goes up, randomness goes up, follow-through goes down. Chattiness goes up. Irritation goes up. Impatience goes up. Fragmentation goes up. Food intake goes down. Sleep down down. Oh, and you might have noticed, comprehensibility goes down.

Fear of a Devastating Afternoon

And extra-specially devastation is coming as the pendulum swign soars. Nothing that goes up, doesn’t come down. Depression crater.

Bipolar Disorder and Remission

→ July 25, 2010 - 3 Comments

Depression RemissionI’m not sure that remission is something we will all get to enjoy, as bipolars. And the remission from depression, the remission from hypomania, the remission from bipolar we do experience seems to be a very watered-down version of the lives we want, the lives we deserve and certainly the lives we’re promised by doctors and treatments. So if remission isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, what is remission in bipolar disorder?

Are You Bipolar? Do You Have Bipolar Disorder?

→ July 12, 2010 - 2 Comments

Natasha Tracy is BipolarWhen you think of mental illness, bipolar disorder, do you consider yourself to be bipolar or do you think of yourself as someone who has bipolar disorder? Just like: Bipolars have mood swings vs. people who suffer from bipolar disorder have mood swings. (I also think I’m crazy, and no, I don’t think “crazy” is derogatory necessarily.)

HealthyPlace Writing Clears Up Bipolar Confusion – I Am Bipolar

Personally, I say I’m bipolar all the time. I don’t have a problem with “being bipolar.” I know some people do dislike this concept for psychological reasons though, so on Breaking Bipolar there’s Are You Bipolar, Or Do You Have Bipolar Disorder?

Do Others Want You to Deny You Are Bipolar?

→ July 9, 2010 - 8 Comments

Deny Bipolar DisorderIt’s pretty common to deny you have bipolar disorder, before, and even during diagnosis of bipolar disorder. None of us wants to be sick, and none of us wants to be crazy-sick (sick-crazy, crazy and sick?). And it can take us a long time to come to terms with living with a mental illness like bipolar disorder.

Deny You Have Bipolar Disorder?

But sometimes, worse is the fact that those around us want to deny, or want us to deny, our bipolar disorder. They want us not to talk about bipolar, or to “control the symptoms of bipolar” or they just don’t believe in mental illness or treat it like a disease at all.

So earlier this week I wrote a piece at Breaking Bipolar about Bipolar and Denial. (Hint, I’m not for it.)

It’s Scary to Show People Bipolar, and Not Just Tell Them

→ June 28, 2010 - 6 Comments

Show People Bipolar DisorderThere are two types of writing I do about bipolar. The first type talks about being bipolar, what it’s like, information around it and so on. It’s generally not overly emotional. The second type is written from the point of view of my bipolar, period. It’s not therapied or controlled or softened.

And that second type really bothers people.

Showing People Bipolar Disorder

It has happened many times over the years that people have come onto my blog and gotten upset at my very “real” writing. Often bipolars tell me it expresses exactly how they were feeling and they are grateful. Others though, complain that I’m illogical, need help, and am just generally crazy. They want to yell at me, for expressing the sickness. Yell at me for showing bipolar disorder as it is.

So today on HealthyPlace I write some more about showing someone the bipolar versus just telling them about it.

How To Get Off Pristiq or Reduce Pristiq

→ June 26, 2010 - 25 Comments

Now I’m not a doctor, in fact, I don’t even play one on TV, but I wanted to share a little about me and how I’m handling getting off of, or at least reducing, Pristiq.

Please also read: When to Get Off Antidepressants with Bipolar Disorder

and: How to Get Off Antidepressants Effexor/Pristiq (Venlafaxine/Desvenlafaxine)

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Are bipolars crazy? I am. It’s OK to be Crazy.

→ June 10, 2010 - 4 Comments

CrazyI am crazy. I tell this to people in my personal life. It’s not a secret. I figure there’s no point in trying to cover it up; it’ll come out eventually. I’m crazy. The approximately 20 scars on my forearms rather give away that something is amiss.

But people really don’t like the word “crazy”. In fact, most often, what people say to me is, “no, you’re not!”. Well, actually, I am. I have a mental illness, I’m bipolar and I’m crazy.

more at Breaking Bipolar: Are bipolars crazy. I am.

Bipolar Natasha Tracy’s Interview with HealthyPlace

→ June 9, 2010 - Comments off

Breaking Bipolar at HealthyPlaceHere is today’s interview with me, Natasha Tracy, complete with call-in questions. I think it went well. We discussed some of the negative impact bipolar has had on my life.

I talked about bipolar disorder, depression, suicide, coping and how my writings at HealthyPlace have been controversial.

 

Watch live streaming video from healthyplace at livestream.com

 

See more video and audio at Breaking Bipolar at HealthyPlace.com.

Psychiatric Disorders in Children – Diagnosed and Medicated

→ April 20, 2010 - 13 Comments

I have bipolar-disorder-type-II-ultradian-cycling. I diagnosed myself when I was 20 years old, and once I finally agreed to see a doctor, he agreed sometime thereafter. My diagnosis was fairly easy for me. I’m very self-aware and I could pick out discrete moods and swings. But as a 20-year-old, in university, using research, and having a fairly high IQ, this is not terribly surprising. If I were five-years-old, the picture would have been a little different.

Epidemic of Children Diagnosed with Mental Illness

There is an epidemic of children, as young as two, being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders in North American right now. It’s made the cover of Time magazine and countless articles have been written on the phenomenon.

So, Antipsychotics are Now Approved for Children

It was once thought that disorders like bipolar did not occur before adulthood, but thoughts on this seem to be changing as diagnoses go up and more drugs are approved for treatment of children.

Antipsychotics FDA-approved for use in children (under 18) is:

And so on. And of course, doctors are free to prescribe any medication off label to children just like adults.

Antipsychotics Can Fuck You Up

I have been on all three of those antipsychotics and all three have fucked me up. Specifically seen has been weight gain, blood pressure changes, twitching, extreme fatigue, incurable hunger, and in the case of Geodon, psychosis. Among other things.

What Do Antipsychotics Do?

Antipsychotics turn down the dopamine in your brain. That’s what’s the do. They also turn down serotonin. These are two of the “feel good” chemicals in your brain, and you are turning these down. This seems to help with certain disorders like schizophrenia, but dopamine in integral for motivation, reinforcement, learning, and memory. If, for example, your five-year-old eats his peas, and you praise him, he feels good because a shot of dopamine is released. This then reinforces the pea-eating behavior, so that next time, he will again eat his peas. If you take away dopamine, he may not be able to make this link. And if you take away dopamine from a child’s (naturally developing) brain for a long period of time, no one has any idea what would happen.

I cannot, in any world, imagine giving these drugs to a child.

We Don’t Know How to Diagnose Bipolar In a Child

The truth is, no one knows what bipolar looks like in a child, or if it even exists. There is no diagnostic criteria in the DSM. Psychiatrists are using relaxed versions of symptoms seen in adults for diagnoses. This is patently ridiculous.

Children are Naturally Crazy

Kids blur the line between fantasy and reality. Kids act out. Kids throw tantrums. Kids ignore you. Kids break rules. Kids often don’t show a great regard for their safety or the safety of others. Kids throw broccoli across the kitchen table. Kids do, the darndest things. They’re kids. It’s what they do. None of this makes them crazy.

Recently a friend of mine was talking about a girl who hallucinated a dead robot baby. Moreover, this same girl spent her recent birthday having an elaborate funeral for a bird found dead in her back yard. Sound crazy? Not for a seven-year-old. It might be a bit unusual, but to me this speaks of intelligence creativity and compassion, not a mental disorder.

And let’s face it, some kids are very challenging to handle. Some are overly aggressive, or sad, or obstinate. They hit their sister, break a vase, or refuse to stay in their room for a time-out. This still doesn’t make them crazy, this just makes them challenging. Parents don’t get a pass just because their job is harder than they thought it was going to be.

Kids Can Be Crazy and Still Perfectly Normal

Basically, kids can have almost any pattern of behavior and still be pretty darn normal. And that doesn’t take into account all of the environment factors that are effecting kid’s behaviors. I’ve never seen great parents with a kid with huge behavioral problems. Yes, I’m sure it happens, but generally, kids are a reflection of their home lives. And kids with bad home lives don’t need or deserve drugs. They deserve better home lives.

And on top of all of this, if a child really is having behavioral problems there are specialists who can help with that, they’re called child psychologists. They help children and parents all day long. And they don’t cause weight gain and high blood pressure.

And don’t get me started on how idiotic it is to diagnose a two-year-old with a mental disorder. Two? Really? It can take an adult two years for an adult to get a diagnosis of bipolar. That sounds like a parent disorder if ever I heard of it.

Children on Antipsychotics and Other Psych Medication Seem Like Lab Rats

It feels to me like these children are being treated as lab subjects, and not real people. I am highly suspicious of any doctor that would medicate a child. Could it possibly be a reasonable thing to do? Well, maybe. But you’d be hard pressed to convince me.

Mental Illness as Self-Fullfillment

And in addition to whatever drugs are being fed to these children, they are also being saddled with a diagnosis – for the rest of their lives. As an adult it can be extremely detrimental to be labeled “crazy”, but as a child I can only imagine it would be infinitely worse. These children don’t even have a chance to find an identity before they’re told they’re crazy. How can that label not result in self-fulfillment?

Victims of Fad Diagnoses

When the movie Cybil based on a woman with “multiple personality disorder,” came out, the diagnosis of this disorder exploded across the US. A disorder that had virtually never been seen was suddenly everywhere. But over the decades that followed, medical professionals were able to determine that these were not genuine cases. In fact, some doctors feel that there has never been a documented case of “multiple personality disorder” as featured in the film. There are other disorders with similar features, but the giant outbreak seen after the film, just didn’t exist.

Is Childhood Bipolar a Fad Diagnosis?

And one has to wonder if we’re seeing something similar here. If more adults are being diagnosed as bipolar, then naturally, we are looking for markers of it at younger ages, and in their genes. We want this information to help people, to help treat the disease, but it can just as easily be used to further label people before we even know how to do it properly. Multiple personality disorder looked like a correct diagnosis until we figured out it wasn’t.

And if someone as young as a toddler gets diagnosed with some behavioral disorder, don’t these children deserve time to correct this issue via safer methods than drugs? It seems that out of an eight year life, it’s impossible that enough other treatments have been tried to warrant drugs.

Now, it’s true, I’m not a doctor, or a parent. And I do have a strongly held belief that doctors and their patients should be able to choose treatments without judgment from the outside world. But I also think any doctor worth seeing is going to try the least harmful treatment first, especially in a population that has been radically understudied. True, behavioral therapy might not work, but it’s unlikely to cause debilitating side-effects. And what about waiting for a child to grow out of behavioral issues? I hear that was a thing that used to happen. Before we got all diagnos-y.

I’m not suggesting that no one under 18 is sick, or that no one under 18 should be treated with medication. What I am suggesting is that diagnosis and treatment of children needs to be handled with extreme care and caution. I’m an adult and I give informed consent to fuck with my brain; children do not have that ability, and yet, they will be the ones that have to live with the results. They deserve every possible solution that avoids nasty, unknown side effects. Parents need to be held to a higher standard of decision-making and not pick what is easiest for them, but what is best for their child. Doctors need to be held to a higher standard to care with children, ideally with third party monitoring of underage drug-treatment. This is not something to be taken lightly on any front.

Someone needs to sanity-check the parents. Kids need to be able to act crazy, without getting labeled crazy.

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