Tag Archives: national alliance on mental illness

30 Day Mental Illness Awareness Challenge – Day 3

Day 3: What treatment or coping skills are most effective for you?

 

I participated in 6 months of inpatient schema therapy which was really great for me.  This helped me with my BPD.  Perhaps having to sit down for 6 months and break it all down into my mind is what this really worked for me.  It was all broken down into every group I went to, plus we had one group where the therapist added in a bit of DBT, but not much.  Schema therapy really was great though.

I also did quite a bit of CBT here and there.  It helped me when I really thought about it, but I never would actually practice it outside of a hospital setting.  When I was inpatient, and had the sheets in front of me, had to do the assignments, it all made sense.  Outside of the hospital — I just could never make myself think of it.

Outside of therapy programs though, using my coping skills is really the best thing for me.  When I am able to bring myself out of my “funk” enough to actually do something ….

  1. painting
  2. zentangles
  3. juggling
  4. reading
  5. writing
  6. writing on here has been amazing!
  7. walking or running
  8. support groups (NAMI)
  9. grounding techniques

those are the ones I try to use most frequently as they seem to be the ones that work right now….they change quite frequently… like a few months ago, I was obsessed with knitting — nonstop!

 

 

Pros and Cons for Today – 8/17/14

This is my challenge to create a “Pros and Cons” list of my day.  “Pros” are the things that I am happy for, grateful for, or things that just made me smile. “Cons” are those things that you just want to forget about because they do nothing to help with your anxiety or mood that day.

First of all – yesterday I had some goals- to read a bit, to perhaps walk a bit, and maybe paint a picture.  I did achieve some of those!  Yea!!

Cons –

  • To be honest, I can’t really think of anything — I guess that’s good right?  Nothing really happened.  I didn’t do anything at all. So nothing bad could really happen.

Pros –

  • I read a book.  It was a young adult book, so nothing hard to read.
  • I went out to a store for about 30 minutes
  • I really wanted to order pizza, but I stopped myself cause I have no money whatsoever — self control!
  • I got to just hang out and watch some Netflix today – that is always fun 🙂

 

So tomorrow – I have my NAMI meeting that I facilitate, so I need to go to that. I also need to make sure that I continue to stay active.  So hopefully I read or get out again tomorrow.  That is my goal – same thing I did today…continue that.

 

Hope you all had a good day!

 

I Hate Mania

Risky behaviors. $$$$$  Frustration.  HAPPY!!!! Anger.  Noooo ZzzzZzzZzz’s.  A million thoughts going through your head!

Mania Mania Mania.

When you are bipolar, you are up you are down.  When you are up, you are manic.  I’ll be honest, with my bipolar – I am depressed 97% of the time.  I really haven’t had any major manic episodes – maybe 3 real manic episodes ever.  The rest have been hypomania.  I have been in severe depressive episodes the majority of the time.

When I have gone into a manic episode though – mine is not a happy or good mania.  It isn’t really a productive mania either.  I kind of got the short straw when it came to mania.  I do want to do a lot of things, but I want to do so many things, I start them all and go from one thing to another and so none of them get done.

So why is my mania not a good mania?  Well – I don’t really get happy so much.  I get irritated, I get agitated.  People seem to bother me a lot more.  When I am depressed, people bother me, but I don’t seem to have the energy to deal with them.  I will yell or get mad, but I tend to just cry when I get frustrated.  When I am manic – I have the energy to yell back and argue back and carry on with it.  I don’t get physical and never have but I have those thoughts, my anger consumes me.

I also spend a lot of money.  Way too much money.  I have no idea what I am doing – I don’t think about the consequences of it at all.  I am on disability because of my mental illness.  I have no money whatsoever to be spending.  When I am manic though, I am not even thinking about that.  I just feel the need to buy something to keep my mind distracted, to keep my mind busy.  Everything seems interesting to me.  My mind sees something and I have a million thoughts on how I could use it and why I need it.  Or I do things that I have no way of returning.  I feel like I can save the world.  I donate money to charities and give money to people.  Not like $1 or even $10.  I donate $100’s, and one time — a heck of a lot more than that.  Yes, my credit card was not happy with me.  I am glad it went to a good cause, but my bank account suffered – as did my refrigerator, pantry, and stomach and other bills.

I tend to do other reckless things too.  Speeding, not horribly bad, but normally I am a very safe driver, so speeding is just crazy to me.  Usually it is at night, cause I normally am only out at night after a NAMI meeting.  But I feel like I am flying, ruling the world (of course when I am manic I have these crazy delusions).  I tend to catch myself when I am doing this, and as I said, I never speed horribly, but the fact that it happens in the first place is something that definitely sets me apart from when I am not manic.

My lack of sleep is ridiculous.  I can stay up all night, all day, all night.  Or I may sleep, but only for an hour or two.  I don’t know how I do it.  I can pace my apartment, which is not big, so I don’t know how I don’t get bored? Seriously?  Or I will start all these projects, which I referred to earlier – but never finish any of them.  I will be inspired to paint pictures, draw zentangles, or draw abstract pictures.  I will stay up watching Netflix movies galore.  Everything just seems entertaining to me though. Or boring, everything can also seem boring – my mind will find it entertaining, and then suddenly switch to something else that is more entertaining.

The racing thoughts – they can drive you mad!  These tend to happen in mania or not, but they are a hundred times worse when I am manic.  From one thing to another.  I cant figure out what to do, where to go, who I want to talk to or see.

On that note, who I want to talk to or see —- I am suddenly social!?!  I have horrible social anxiety – what is going on?  I can talk to people, I can see people, I want to see people!  Mania does some crazy things to my brain.  Well, I guess this might be a good part of my mania – socialization is a good thing.

So, my mania — overall, it isn’t a good mania.  I hate my mania.  People always say they miss their manias.  They like their mania.  I don’t like mine.  I am so used to being depressed, severely depressed, that I don’t even know how to handle mania.  I prefer depression.  Even when I am not severely depressed, I have the low grade depression.  I think everyone would prefer to just be stable over all – feel happy, experience the sad when appropriate, but be stable.  That is what I hope for many times anyway.  I know it is not what I have been given though, but I know that I will manage what I do have.  I am going to battle these manic episodes and I am going to battle my depressive episodes.  I am not going to give in though.

The Worst Day of My Life

Trigger warning — discusses suicide.

It was the lowest day in my life.  My depression hit a wall.  I didn’t know what to do anymore.  I had been out of college, graduated 5 months prior, in December 2011.  It was May 2012 now.  I had no money.  I had quit my job in March, but it was a student job from my college, and I wasn’t a student anymore so I was bound to lose it at some point anyway.

My parents had been paying most of my bills.  Even with my job, I didn’t have enough money for rent and food.  They wouldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t blame them.  Rent, food, even my students loans – they were paying for them.  They cut me off.  My lease ended at the end of May.

I had to move home to Texas to live with my mom and her husband or I was homeless, in Indiana.  Neither option was a good choice.  I didn’t want to move to Texas.  I hated it there.  I wasn’t fond of my mom’s husband nor was I fond of my relationship with my mom – living together for more than 2 weeks usually ended up in a disaster with arguments galore.

So back to the worst day of my life —

I decided I could live anymore.  I was done.  I had attempted to end my life multiple times before.  I had failed many times before.  Usually, I called for help.  I realized it was the wrong choice.  I realized I didn’t really want to die, just wanted the pain to end.  This time, it was different though.  I went all out – I was determined to die.  I was ready to die.  I didn’t want to be saved.  It wasn’t a cry for help.

It was still an overdose, as usual.  I didn’t take the pills all at once though.  I strategically took them over time.  Ten pills here, ten pills there, ten pills here… over a course of 24 hours.  They slowly built up in my system.  My liver was toxic.  My case manager met with me the next morning.  I didn’t tell her anything.  The tone of my voice and the negativity in my voice I suppose let her know that I was having the suicidal thoughts though.  She left, but 30 minutes later called me back.  I answered and she asked me how I was.  Of course, I said fine.  She said she would call me again.  I couldn’t understand how she knew something was going on.  Before she ever called me back – there was banging on my door.  The police, paramedics… they were all at my door.  I refused, I refused to go anywhere.  Because of my past history of suicide attempts though, they could get a court order and have me taken in – with handcuffs and all if I did not go.  So I went.

The paramedics took me, I refused to tell them anything.  Blood tests were taken and showed that my liver was at toxic levels and I was very close to actually dying.  They couldn’t believe I was not sick, that I wasn’t in horrible pain from how my levels were.  I told them I refused treatment, I wanted to go home.  Absolutely not – it was not going to happen.  Mucomyst – it is the antidote to Tylenol overdose.  I was given it, immediately.  It also made me incredibly ill.  Police were outside of my door since I was set on leaving and not being treated.  I was throwing up and became very ill.  They gave me Reglan to combat the vomiting.  That was a mistake because I was allergic to Reglan.  My face swelled.  I got hives all over.  I couldn’t breathe well.  I was going to die!  Nope — then I got Benadryl.  I was miserable.  What a miserable way to be.  A few friends from my NAMI support group came to be with me.  They sat with me, disappointed that I had gone to these lengths.  I was upset.  I was upset that I didn’t die.  Yet I was happy.  I was happy that someone cared enough to save me.  I didn’t know how I felt.  I was horribly ill – mentally and physically.  I was supposed to be sent to the ICU, but the ER was trying to stabilize me from all the reactions I was having to the medications to combat the overdose.  Finally, I was sent to the ICU.

I spent 5 days in the ICU.  Maybe 4.  I’m not sure.  I was then released into a psychiatric hospital.  I spent two weeks there.  I had been to that hospital before, many times.  They weren’t surprised to see me.  Upon my release I only had a few days to be out of my apartment because my lease was up.

I won’t forget that day though.  The day I attempted suicide.  Sure, I had done it before – but that day, it was the worst attempt I had ever had.  It was the attempt I really wanted.  The attempt I had hoped would actually work.  It was right near my mother’s birthday, right near Mother’s Day.  It was the attempt that actually really hurt my family.  The one that made everyone realize that I was struggling really bad.  It was the day that I realized I was hurting everyone around me whenever I hurt myself.  It was the day that I realized I would probably never attempt suicide by overdose again either – hopefully never attempt suicide again period too.

I have had really crappy days since then.  I have had horrible days.  I have still had my suicidal thoughts and been back in the hospital since then.  But, when I think of the worst day, that is the worst day that comes to mind.  It was caused by all the horrible things that happened before me.  The culmination of all my past events that made my mind go crazy, it was caused by my chemical imbalances … and all those things just created the worst day ever.  The lowest day in my life.  The lowest point in my life.

Facing the Storm

In Tampa, during the summer, it rains a lot! There are storms almost everyday, or at least that is how it has been this year. Even in the rain, summer is beautiful and I learn a lot through it. 

20140722_180408

In my life, I feel like I get rained on a lot too. I feel like my life is a storm. There are ups and downs, and a lot of the time, I feel like it is mainly downs, it feels like it is raining and raining and raining and the thunder and lightening roar down around me.  The sun doesn’t seem to be up at all. 

This bird though, he just stands tall in the rain!  He stands out there and faces it!  Jumping from car to car, playing in it, basking in the rain!  He doesn’t hide from it.  He doesn’t run away from it.  It doesn’t hurt him.  Sure, when we have problems in our life, it may be hard, and it may hurt, but we can still stand tall going through them.  We don’t have to run away.  Just like this bird, we can go out into the storm, we can stand in that rain, we can face it. 

When I saw this bird, I was walking out to go to my NAMI meeting.  I wasn’t having the best day, I was going through a “storm.”  But I saw this bird on top of my car, then he jumped to the car next to mine.  He just freely exposed himself to the elements.  I needed to be like that.  I needed to push myself to do that – to be stronger, to not curl up into a ball.  I know I am strong, I just need to come out of that curled up ball and show my strength to myself. 

20140722_180402

Crisis Intervention Team – Importance of Having CIT Trained Law Enforcement

Recently on The Journey of Kylie, she blogged about a situation involving the cops handcuffing her in a rough, violent manner during a mental health encounter when she was not violent or resisting them in a violent manner at all.

This got me thinking about CIT officers.  CIT officer stands for Crisis Intervention Team.  These are officers within the police or sheriffs department who are trained to interact and deal with individuals who have mental health illness. 

I have personally dealt with CIT officers when I was in college, on many occasions.  All of my interactions with them were very positive.  In my city, the majority of officers were trained in CIT.  In fact, when they were trained, part of their training was to go to the local psych hospital and talk to the patients and get our perspectives on how we were treated by police officers when they were called to our apartments/houses.  I was in the psychiatric hospitals multiple times, so I talked to those going through training about 3 or 4 times to help them understand what would help me if they came to my apartment, and what would not help me, and my past experiences were like. 

Not everyone has positive experiences though.  As you can tell from The Journey of Kylie, interactions with cops during a mental health issue, is not always positive.  And not every city has CIT trained officers.  In fact, a lot of cities don’t.  There are actually countless stories of people with mental illness being shot and killed by cops for one reason or another when it could have been prevented if another tactic could have been used to help them rather than kill them. 

It is really absolutely reprehensible that these things are happening.  People with mental illness should not be treated like this.  If we are not an active threat to someone else.  If we are not an active threat to ourselves.  Holding a gun.  Holding a knife.  Holding something that could be used as a weapon and actually dangerous.  If we are not resisting arrest and causing problems.  Why are we being shot and killed?  Why are we being slammed against walls and handcuffed? 

Yes, I have been taken to a hospital in handcuffs.  But my hands were cuffed by my sides or in front of me.  I accept this and understand why this was done.  It was explained to me and done in a dignified manner.  While I did not really see the need for it as I was not resisting and was voluntarily going, I was treated respectfully at least.  But these awful treatments of people with mental illness are completely unacceptable.  They are not and should not be accepted by anyone. 

If you do not have CIT officers in your city, talk to your criminal justice department about implementing it, I have listed some resources that you could contact about it at well:

CIT International

NAMI – CIT

Mental Health Crisis Institute – Law Enforcement CIT Training

FBI – CIT Article

 

 

 

When You Have a Family Member With Mental Illness

I know my illness affects those around me.  I know that I have said and done things that have hurt my loved ones.  I am sorry for that.

Today, I saw a post on a site from a family member of someone with mental illness (no one related to me) that said something to the effect of, “What about the family members, we deal with them all the time, we have to suffer all the time!”

I actually had two reactions to this:

-In one way I was actually mad.  You deal with it! Think about me! I DEAL with it. I LIVE with it.  Think of what goes on in my head.  How much I struggle with it. Think about how much I hate to do the things I do and struggle to not do them and fight with myself and feel depressed and manic and suicidal and have no idea what is going on in my head a lot of the time. 

-And then, there was a part of me that agreed with their comment.  Yeah, they do have to deal with us.  They deal with our “drama” of our emotions and ups and downs and hospitalizations and medication changes and whatever else we might be going through. 

 

So what can family members do to help them when they are having a hard time with us? There are some things that family members can do to help them cope with having a family member with mental illness.  This will allow them to keep from the anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, and burnout that can occur from the caretaking and worrying of their loved ones.

1) Avoid placing blame – You cannot change anyone. You are not a magician.  Just be supportive of yourself and your loved one and look toward the good things.

2) Take time for yourself – set aside time each day for yourself.  Even if it is just 20 minutes that you can get away at first and slowly build up.  Practice meditation, read a book, get out in the sun, go for a walk, do something you love to do.  This will give you some time to relax.

3) Set limits (boundaries) – Learn to say “no.”  If your family members are asking to much of you, just say no.  Take care of yourself first. 

4) Educate yourself – Learn about the mental illness.  Sometimes it helps just to know about what is going on.  If we understand what the person is going through we are more empathetic about their situation and often get less frustrated when situations occur and know what to do during a crisis.

5) Find a support group – NAMI has a Family to Family Support Group where family members and friends of those with mental illness can come together for support. NAMI also has a Family to Family Course that is 10 weeks which helps educate on different mental illnesses. DBSA also allows family members to attend their support groups alongside those that are mentally ill, so it is a mixed support group.  There are also support groups for those with mental illness through both NAMI and DBSA that you can get your loved ones involved in as well if they are willing.

Mental Health Organizations Promoting Advocacy

I have talked quite a bit about NAMI on here.  But there are a lot of other good organizations that promote mental health advocacy out there. 

Here are a few of them:

To Write Love on Her Arms – I really love this organization. A little bit about it, per their website – “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
To Write Love on Her Arms began in Orlando, FL in 2006 when our founder, Jamie Tworkowski, wrote a story about a friend who struggled with self-injury and addiction and the five days preceding her entry into treatment. The story, which was entitled ‘To Write Love on Her Arms’ went viral, and T-shirts were initially printed and sold as a way to pay for that friend’s treatment. Since then, TWLOHA has become a non-profit which serves as a bridge to hope and help for people facing the same issues.”

Rethink Mental Illness – This is an organization based in England.  They help provide advice and information to those affected with mental illness. They provide support groups (150 across England!) and have 200 mental health services.  They campaign for policy change and run the Time To Change campaign.

Active Minds – Is a great organization that is developed on college campuses.  It promotes those on University’s across the nation to get involved in educating others about mental health and encouraging people to seek help if needed. This organization aims to remove the stigma associated with mental illness by educating the minds of college students and the communities they are in by creating open conversations.

Bring Change 2 Mind – This organization is aimed at ending stigma and discrimination by distributing public education materials which are based on the latest scientific insights.

The Jed Foundation – This organization is aimed toward college aged students by promoting mental health and suicide prevention. They work with the public and those involved in higher education to teach them about the knowledge and warning signs of suicide, importance of mental health, how to encourage help-seeking behaviors, and promote awareness and understanding among them.

 

Of course there are others too.  If you know of some, feel free to leave them in the comments section for others to see and I will add them on here too!

Denial and Learning Acceptance

Last night at my NAMI support group meeting we started talking about how many of us were in denial when we were first diagnosed.  It made me think about when I was first diagnosed.

In one way, I was very relieved.  My whole life I had been suffering with immense emotional pain.  I had been severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts since I was about 10 years old.  I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what and I didn’t want to be different, especially as a kid and teenager.  So when I finally got my diagnosis, it was a huge relief – it was a medical issue, there was a name for it, I could take medicine!

But then – it hit me.  There WAS something wrong with me, I had to take medicine for it, people thought that “people like me” were not normal and that we could just snap out of it – not that it was a medical problem. I didn’t want people to judge me.  I was already judging me.  What would others think of me?  I didn’t want to take medications for the rest of me life.

Denial caused me a lot of harm.  I would start the medication and I would stop the medication.  I would start it and then just not want to take it.  I hate taking meds, so that would be one reason.  Then I would just end up back in the hospital.  Or, I would start the medication and it would actually make me feel better!!! And so I would quit taking it, because of course, I thought I didn’t need it anymore – I was fine, why was I on meds in the first place?  Then, the downhill spiral would occur once I was off and I was back in the hospital.  For me, meds are needed.  As I have mentioned in some posts before, not everyone needs them and some can function fine without them.  But for me, I need them, so when I was in denial, and felt I didn’t need the meds, it just caused my mental illness to get completely out of control.

It wasn’t until I hit completely rock bottom.  It wasn’t after my first suicide attempt, my second suicide attempt, or even my 7th or 8th suicide attempt.  It was after I was finally admitted to the state hospital, and 3 months into that admission when they decided to get the court order to extend the commitment another 3 months because I was not progressing, that I realized I did have a problem.  I realized I NEEDED to accept that I had mental illness.  I needed to learn about my bipolar, my PTSD, my borderline personality disorder.  I am still learning about all of them.  I needed to learn to cope with them.  I needed to learn to take my medications as prescribed and not be more own doctor.

When we are first diagnosed, it can be a relief but it can also be scary.  Education and a good support system is the best thing we can do and have.  It is hard to accept our illnesses at first, especially when there is a stigma attached to it.  I have learned to open up to those around me, even if they are not willing to accept the diagnosis.  I will continue to educate those around me as much or as little as they are open and willing to learn.  Just as I slowly had to open up my own mind to learning, those around us will do the same.  Attending the NAMI support groups and the MHA support groups really helped me to gain the acceptance, support, understanding, and education about my illness.  With the help of others with mental illness as well as my long term hospitalization, I have really come to terms with what I will, most likely, be dealing with the rest of my life.  But, I know I will be able to face it head on, and I am ready for it now!