Bipolar and Being Incapacitated by Anxiety

→ June 21, 2017 - 13 Comments

Bipolar and Being Incapacitated by Anxiety

I know that anxiety is not a symptom of bipolar disorder, but many with bipolar disorder also suffer from anxiety, whether it’s an official anxiety disorder or not. And when my anxiety gets really bad, which it has been lately, I become absolutely incapacitated by anxiety. I, literally, sit on the couch unable to move to do anything. And writing or working is right out. Anxiety causing an inability to act is having a devastating effect on my life.

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Calming the Cycle of Anxiety and Bipolar Depression

→ October 14, 2014 - 7 Comments

Calming the Cycle of Anxiety and Bipolar Depression

The Bipolar Burble is extremely honoured to introduce today’s guest author: Ross Szabo. Ross and I met when he introduced me when I won the Erasing the Stigma Leadership award earlier this year. Ross is a past recipient and an inspiring mental health speaker and, well, human being. Read below how he has learned to calm his bipolar depression by recognizing anxiety.

I was an anxious person before my diagnosis of bipolar disorder with anger control problems and psychotic features. Needless to say after my diagnosis, my anxiety did not improve. It took a lot of years of extreme alcohol abuse, broken knuckles, sleeplessness, hallucination-filled nights and dangerous behaviors until I was able to find ways to balance my disorder.

Anxiety seems to be at the root, or heavily tied to, every mood I have with bipolar disorder. One of the most dangerous cycles I have gone through is when anxiety swings in to contribute to constant thoughts of death and suicide. Overwhelming anxiety or crippling depression are hard enough to face separately. When they combine the results can be tragic. Working with a professional to locate your anxiety/depression cycle is a great way to enhance your treatment.

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What Does – and Doesn’t – Help When Someone is Anxious

→ July 1, 2014 - 20 Comments

What Does – and Doesn’t – Help When Someone is Anxious

Today my anxiety really flared up. I suddenly found I had less time to get to a bus that took me to a train that took me to another bus that took me to a hotel. And if I missed that last bus in the chain, there wasn’t another for five hours. And I still had to pack and get dressed and eat cake and just, in general, get ready.

And this freaked me out – or, put another way, this created some instantaneous, nasty stress and anxiety. My mother tried to help with the anxiety. It didn’t work.

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Dealing with Fear and Anxiety in Bipolar Disorder

→ October 18, 2013 - 23 Comments

Dealing with Fear and Anxiety in Bipolar Disorder

Tomorrow I’m flying off to see some family I don’t know at all. Oh, and my dying father. I won’t get into the specifics but suffice it to say I’m scared of family in general and my father is in a very bad way.

So at the moment, I’m being eaten up with fear and anxiety.

My mother says to me: “But I know you know how to handle that sort of thing.” And I say, “Yes, it’s a wonderful drug called lorazepam.”

I was only half joking.

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New Research in Bipolar and Depression – The Glutamate Train

→ June 11, 2012 - 5 Comments

New Research in Bipolar and Depression – The Glutamate Train

After looking at the future treatment approaches for treatment-resistant depression, I thought I’d share a bit more depression and bipolar research. New options offer hope for everyone who run the gamut of bipolar or depression treatments.

  • A new mood stabilizer
  • A new, novel antidepressant
  • Knowing when depression isn’t depression

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What’s the Worst Mental Illness?

→ January 17, 2012 - 49 Comments

What’s the Worst Mental Illness?

I, as a good little webmistress, keep an eye on my web analytics. So yes, I know some things about my audience, and one of the things I know is what people are searching for when they find me. This sometimes influences what I write about, like today: What is the worst mental illness?

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Bipolar’s Not Bad Enough – We Beat Ourselves Up – Advice

→ October 3, 2011 - 16 Comments

Part of having a mental illness like bipolar disorder is having a brain that hates you. A brain that overreacts to the slightest perceived imperfection. All it takes is believing that we have done something wrong for our brain to see it as a capital offense and spend hours or days beating ourselves up about it.

This is pretty de rigueur for someone with a mental illness (especially depression or anxiety).

Bipolar Making You Beat Yourself UpBeating Yourself Up Over a Perceived Error

And this morning I got an email from someone in just this situation. This person had spent some time with friends and felt they were overly-anxietious, overly-talkative, overly-hyper and so on. And unfortunately, this person was using this perception to beat themselves up.

This is wrong. Please read my response to this person. I hope it will help anyone in this situation (which includes me, from time to time).

To those who would beat themselves up over a perceived mistake:

First of all, be gentle with yourself. This is a Buddhist concept. You deserve to be treated as well as you treat others. You’re being far too harsh.

You have to understand that your perception of what happened might be skewed. You may not have been nearly as anxious, hyper, talkative, and so on, as you think. And even if you were, others may not have found that a negative.

You’re basically beating yourself up for something that might not have even happened!

Additionally, try to remember that you’re not perfect, none of us are. Even if you weren’t perfect yesterday, that’s OK, because none of us meet that standard. These people care for you and aren’t going to judge you nearly as harshly as you’re judging yourself because they’re not perfect either.

You try your best, every day, which we all do, and that is good enough. Your flaws are OK. Your imperfections are OK. You didn’t do anything wrong or bad it’s just your brain trying to make you think you did. Brains tend to lie. You were just like everyone else. Which is what we all are.

Try to remember to be gentle. It’s rough out there. You deserve to be your own best friend.

Linky-Madness, Drugging Children and Anxious Hat Makers – 3 New Things

→ August 25, 2011 - 4 Comments

In my line of work I come across the most obscure information, which is why I love sharing it with you. This week’s three new things about mental illness include:

  • A weekly mental health link-party
  • How scientists want to drug children who might get a mental illness
  • How hat makers used to experience social phobia

How could you not want to know the details about that?

1. What I Like – Madness Mental Health Linky

I’ve been participating for a few weeks in the Monday Madness Mental Health Linky over at the WordsinSynch blog by Shah Wharton. As the name implies, there are fresh links every Monday.

[push]Anyone can contribute a useful mental health link. Shah features her own work or the work of others and then lists useful links.[/push]

(No offence to Shah, but the layout is awful and kind of hard to understand.  Here’s how it works: Simply read the Monday Linky article and at the bottom there are featured links. Below that is the “blog hop” where the reader-submitted useful mental health links are posted and below that you can enter your own link.)

Click. Read. Enjoy.

2. What I Don’t Like – Drugging Children (or anyone unnecessarily)

Drugging Children with AntipsychoticsI could just leave it there but what I especially don’t like is the drugging of children who might get a mental illness. This is one of the troubles with that fad diagnosis I mentioned last weekpsychosis risk syndrome. While we do, honestly, know what puts a person at risk for psychosis, that’s a far cry from actually being able to accurately predict who is going to get a psychotic disorder.

For example, I know smoking puts you at risk for lung cancer, but you still might not get it. (Although smoking’s a lot more clear cut than psychosis. Don’t smoke. Seriously.)

In this study, people age 15-40 were to be given an antipsychotic (quetiapine) to see if it would delay or prevent the onset of a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. And – here’s the kicker – up to 80% may never get the disorder anyway.

So I ask you, is it worth exposing a 15-year-old to a powerful antipsychotic associated with an increased mortality rate on a guess? I think not. (More next week.)

3. What is Just Bizarre – Hat Makers, Mercury  and Anxiety

Think you have social phobia? Do you make hats?

Excessive shyness, embarrassment, self-consciousness, timidity, social-phobia and lack of self-confidence are components of erethism, which is a symptom complex that appears in cases of mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning was common among hat makers in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, as they used mercury to stabilize wool into felt fabric.

(From Wikipedia, where else?)

See you all next week for an attempt at a smarter and better me.

PS: Have you entered to win yet?

Depression, Bipolar – Feeling Alone with a Mental Illness

→ January 23, 2011 - 54 Comments

People with a mental illness feel alone.

Depression makes you feel alone. Depression makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world that feels the pain and sadness that you do. Depression brings about negative spirals of thinking that convinces you that there is only darkness, nothingness and that you are utterly alone in the world. This loneliness is a symptom of depression.

Bipolar makes you feel alone too. Bipolar makes you think you are alone because no one else experiences the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Then there’s loneliness with schizophrenia thanks to the rest of the world unfairly thinking you are violent and dangerous. And there’s dissociative identity disorder convincing you that you are alone and that no one on the planet is as “crazy” as you.

In short, mental illness makes you feel alone and like there is no one else like you in the world.

Depressed AloneAlone with “High-Functioning” Bipolar

Last week I wrote an article on Breaking Bipolar at HealthyPlace on what it’s like to be considered a “high-functioning” bipolar. On how somehow this convinces people I’m not really sick. On how lonely and exhausting it is to fake normalcy at work, to fake normalcy socially, to fake normalcy out in the world. This behavior allows me to fake a life, and work, and communicate, and to live in spite of the fact that I am shattered the moment I walk through my apartment door. “High-function” should be renamed to “High-Acting-Function”. (The Academy can simply mail the Oscar to my house.)

And in response to this article I’ve received many comments about feeling alone that are just like this blog comment:

“thank you thank you thank you. You put into words what I have been trying to think out loud for decades.”

And then there is this blog comment:

“[snip]It’s comforting to hear that I’m not alone in this. I’ve been feeling like a freak for years. Thank you.”

Writings about Mental Illness Remind People They Aren’t Alone

The comments above are actually ones I get from people all the time. I take great pride that my writing is able to affect people in this way. If all my writing ever does is help people realize that they are not alone, that they are like so many, that there are thousands of us out there, that they are not “freaks,” then my writing is worth it.

Human beings feel like freaks. Human beings feel alone.

Every teenager in the world, right now, feels like a freak. Every one of them feels alone. Every one of them feels like they are unique and no one understands their pain. (Teenagers are just like that; remember?) There is something about the human condition that convinces us we are alone, at least, when we’re teenagers. I have found that even those who talk about mental illness have a hard time truly expressing what it is to have their mental illness. It isn’t their fault. Their brain is sick. And they need their brain to express themselves. It’s a catch-22.

But when we grow up we come to learn that there are many people like us. Hoards of them. We learn we are not alone. There are people like us everywhere. Unfortunately people with a mental illness often do not have this experience. People with a mental illness often do not know another person with a mental illness as no one wants to talk about having a mental illness. No one wants to talk about being alone with depression or bipolar.

People with Mental Illness are not Alone

It doesn’t matter if you’re depressed, bipolar, schizophrenic, or anything else – I can guarantee to you with all the certainty that tomorrow the sun will rise, that you are not alone. All the scary feelings of mental illness are the same feelings that someone else with a mental illness has too.

  • People think they are alone because they self-harm – many people self-harm. I have the scars to prove it.
  • People think they are alone because they are suicidal – many people feel suicidal at one time and get through it. I have the scars to prove that too.
  • People think they are alone because of psychotic, delusional or irrational thoughts – pretty much everyone with a mental illness has these thoughts to some degree.

Whatever you’re scared of, whatever your secret, whatever keeps you up at night, whatever is harming your life, you are not alone.

Not Alone ImageNot Hearing Your Depressed, Bipolar, Mental Illness Story Doesn’t Mean it Doesn’t Exist

The one thing to remember is this: as much as you are hiding from the mental illness monster in the dark, so is everyone else. People don’t want to talk about their pain and suffering. The mentally ill often can’t even find the words to talk about their illness. But just because you haven’t heard the story doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. That idea that you’re alone? That is a lie. That is a lie your mental illness is feeding to you. Don’t believe this lie.

I, Natasha Tracy, professional crazy person, tell you this: you are not alone. Period.

Self-Harm: Stabbing Yourself is Bad

→ May 28, 2010 - 13 Comments

Stabbing is bad. It just is. If you have to pick self-harm options between cutting, hitting, and stabbing, don’t pick stabbing.

Unless you’re trying to kill someone, in which case I think stabbing would be pretty good. And satisfying. I’m surprised more murderers don’t pick stabbing.

Anxiety, Impulse Control Self-Harm and Stabbing

I’m having anxiety issues. And impulse control issues. And stabbing issues. Well, that last one is really a function of the other two, but it’s an issue nonetheless.

I’ve always been attracted to stabbing. I think that’s because when you start wielding a blade with force, you can’t change your mind. And it’s so easy to did deep. And draw a lot of blood.

Stabbing and Scars

And as I considered stabbing, I also thought it had the advantage of leaving a minimal scar. You cut down, not across.

This turns out not to be the case. Stabbing doesn’t produce a large incision, but the one it does produce tends to gape and cause more scarring than you think. Just trust me. Don’t try it.

And so, as much as I like the force, and blood, and bruising associated with stabbing, I’ve really written it off as a self-harm method. Death method, probably decent, self-harm, not so much.

Anxiety and Self-Harm

Self-Harm, Stabbing is Bad

But as I’ve said, I’ve been having issues.

For whatever reason, for whatever cocktail, for whatever brain misfire, I seem to be turning in super-anxious-suicide-girl at night. Like, way more than usual. And on top of that there seems to be a real lack of impulse control on my part, last notably seen with the cutting of my wrist with broken glass.

Hitting is Bad Too

And so I had been hitting myself with a blunt object, went into the kitchen to cut up a yellow pepper, and then as I was removing the core I thought to myself, I wonder what it would be like if I hit myself with this knife. And then I just did. And then there was a lot of blood. I was standing next to the sink so I just tried to keep standing while the blood went down the drain.

It just kind of, happened. Like stubbing your toe. An accident.

And it’s fine. My arm is fine. There does seem to be some nerve damage going into my thumb, but it seems minor and may get better, I don’t know. This isn’t really my area of expertise.

Self-Harm Without Control is Really Bad

And I don’t know. It’s a scary thing. To do something, without intention. One of the problems is I really don’t care if I die. I mean, like, really don’t care. I’m so over it’s unbelievable. So when something pops into my head, whatever filter I did have doesn’t exist. So I just do it.

And then there’s the drinking. Crazy people shouldn’t drink. Crazy people on meds really shouldn’t drink. Crazy people on meds and tranquilizers really, really shouldn’t drink. But I feel so irreparably horrifically self-loathing and suicidal that I couldn’t care less that it’s a bad idea. I’ll take any idea at all that would mask the pain. Even a little.

Sigh. All roads lead to scar tissue.

Again, try not to worry, OK? You’re scared, I know. I am too. But there’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing I can do. I’m suppose to see my GP on Monday and maybe she’ll be able to get me in to see a psychiatrist. Of course the psychiatrist won’t have any answers so it’s a bit moot. More moot than usual. Ultra-moot. Now with more brightening power.

Free Gift with Depression – A Tale of Anxiety

→ March 29, 2010 - 4 Comments

Anxious and DepressedAnxiolytic Isn’t Even in the Dictionary

I grit my jaw. I bite the skin around my nails. I pull at my hair. I bunch my fists. My breaths are shallow. I twitch and clench erratically.

I tell myself not to grit, bite, pull, bunch, twitch and clench. I tell myself to intake more air. Those instructions are followed. For moments. And then they’re not. While I wasn’t looking I started gritting, biting, pulling, bunching, twitching, and clenching all over again.

Anxious. Anxiety.

These are tiny, little words. The barely seem to warrant entries in dictionaries bloated with words like crunk (a type of hip-hop or rap music) and yogilates (a combination of Pilates and yoga), and yet somehow they have achieved great significance in my life.

Anxiety and Depression, Like Peas and Carrots

Anxiety and depression always come in pairs. The each cover half a sphere. How much you feel of each of them depends on your point of view of the sphere.

I was never an anxious person before. Or at least, I was never inordinately anxious, I think. But then came the psych meds and so the anxiety. Anxiety – the side effect that’s it’s own mental illness.

And now I worry. And I’m overwhelmed. Frozen with the fear of things not getting done . . . leading to the very obvious result of things not getting done.

Anxiety. A self-replicating organism.

Caffeine and Mental Illness and Caffeine Disorders

→ February 21, 2010 - 13 Comments

Caffeine and Mental Illness and Caffeine Disorders

Caffeine is the world’s most popular psychoactive substance. So many of us love it a la Starbucks, Tim Hortons or just out or our home coffee machine. Me, I love coffee and I’m a fan of caffeine too. Coffee’s the nectar of the gods and nothing will convince me otherwise.

It seems though, caffeine can actually hurt you. I know, I never thought my beloved coffee could harm me, but I suppose anything that you abuse, will abuse you back. So, here is everything you ever needed to know about caffeine, caffeine disorders and caffeine and mental illness but were afraid to ask.

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