Struggling with the Elephant in the Room

A Manic Depressive Blog

Archive for the tag “Suicide”

It’s a New Day, I’m feeling Slightly Better- Today’s Post is on Ways to Deal with Depression/Mania

A New Day, A new Beginning

A New Day, A new Beginning

So far today has been a lot better then yesterday, I guess writing out my frustrations helped to ease my mind, I still feel the same way, but at least the pain isn’t as bad. The odd thing, is how popular the post is. Maybe everyone wants to read my rants and see how bad my self-hatred is, or maybe it’s the title, or the keywords, or just luck. I’m not really certain, but I’m happy people read it. I’m definitely not perfect, and maybe someone out there read the post and realized they aren’t alone in this crazy world. That some days we just feel so horrible, it’s as if our minds are trying to destroy us. Or other days we feel like we’re drowning in the darkness of depression. But one thing is for certain, we can’t give up, no matter how hard it gets. We all have the strength to survive, we just have to latch onto something. For me, it’s my cat Domino. I love him dearly and he’s helped me over the years. In fact, if it wasn’t for him I don’t know how far I would have gotten. Yes I know a lot of it was me, but it helps to have something to grab onto (it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you can hold on tight and know that it will pull you out of your hell). It also helps to have a hobby; mine’s watching TV and playing video games (I love being able to escape from reality and drift off into a new word that doesn’t demand anything from me or judge me, a place where my depression seems to evaporate and I feel invincible).

I guess that’s what today’s post is going to be about, ways to deal with manic/depressive episodes. For the longest time I suffered from severe mixed episodes and/or rapid cycling (it really depends on which doctor you talk to, as both episode types are very similar). I could have multiple episodes in a day, swinging from severe depression to extreme mania and back again- sometimes this happened in the same hour and it got really stressful, even frightening. There were days I just wanted it all to end and unfortunately I self medicated to compensate. It started with alcohol.

Alcohol is not a good way to deal with depression/mania

Alcohol is not a good way to deal with depression/mania

(www.recoveryoptions.us)

Some quick background: In high school I never drank or used drugs. In fact I never went to parties, or hung out with people after school. When I got to college I was desperate to fit in, so I hung out with the football team and started to drink with them. My first night drinking I blacked out after having over 15 beers. I thought it was great, I was “fitting” and I loved the buzz. I started drinking regularly and would party with the football team. My drinking increased as I tried to keep up with offensive linemen and feel to peer pressure. A few months into my drinking, I went to a party at the baseball house and went crazy, I ended up blacking out for almost 16 hours, waking up in a pool of vomit-well there was vomit everywhere. I convinced myself I would never drink again and it was on that day my anxiety and paranoia was born. The football players messed with my head when I asked them what happened and it escalated to the point where I was afraid to leave my dorm room. I was convinced they were stalking me and trying to destroy my life. I was also convinced everyone else was after me, so I locked myself in my room and only left for class. Because of this, I developed agoraphobia and social anxiety.

As this increased I started to drink again, this time while I was alone. I started spending the weekends at my parent’s house and my dad found out I had been drinking. I thought he was going to be pissed, but it was the opposite, he was ecstatic because he had finally found a drinking buddy.  It was around this time my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and to cope with the stress I started drinking excessively. It was the first time I used alcohol to deal with depression…my mom is ok now, she has been in remission for over 8 years…Fast forward a few years. I was working the night shift at a hotel and I was a full blown alcoholic. My doctor was worried that I was killing my liver so she demanded that I stopped drinking. She also prescribed an anti-depressant, which actually led me to quit drinking. But at the same time it caused my mania to grow, I just didn’t know it at the time. I was sober for about a week until I started smoking weed to fill the void. Overtime I developed a heavy habit, I also started to abused pain killers and benzos. Because of the drug abuse my mental stability was shattered. I caused my episodes to increase in intensity and frequency. Eventually I was diagnosed Bipolar type I, with OCD, severe social anxiety, PTSD and addiction. It took me a few years to quit using and by the time I did, I ended up in a mental hospital after dropping out of graduate school (sorry for skipping  a lot of my story, I’m late for work and it there is to much for just one post. I’ll come back to it in the future) and spent the next two years isolated in my apartment while I recovered. During these two years, anxiety increased exponentially and depression became severe. There were times I didn’t think I would make it, but a few things helped me through this period (well that was a lot longer of a background then I had anticipated, but now we are back to the discussion on ways to cope).

Depression

Depression

(jeffreymasson.wordpress.com)

When my depression got really bad, I found that doing something mindless really helped: watching TV, cleaning, playing with Domino, playing video games etc. That Is one of the things I’ve told people to do when dealing with depression (or anxiety, or mania), it doesn’t have to be what I suggested. Rather, the idea is to do something you love, while spending as little effort as possible. The reason is that it allows your mind to relax and escape, you aren’t adding to the stress and you are giving yourself a chance to breath. That’s why I love TV. Not only do I get to relax, but I can lose myself in TV show without spending much effort, further, I can stop anytime I want  or go as long as I want. The idea is to just escape. Another thing I loved to do is listen to a book on tape, the idea is the same as I don’t have to spend much energy and I can let my mind wander and for that bit of time I can forget about my struggles. The goal is to find something you love and to have it available so that if you feel depressed or anxious, or unstable you can help yourself heal. Another thing that helps is talking with someone, just having some human contact can help alleviate the stress and again can help you escape from your worries (you don’t have to do this in person, in fact you could just text). Taking a shower is another great way to relax and the concept once again is similar, allowing your mind to wander and for you to have some quite and some peaceful time where you can forget about your worries.

For me, finding something that allows me to escape into another reality helps almost as much as therapy (furthermore, it allows me to deal with my depression without having resort to illicit drugs. Although there are days where I struggle to keep those thoughts in check, but I’m human and not infallible). Also therapy, for me, helps tremendously but it’s not for everyone. The idea is to find someone you can talk to, who is both willing to listen and provide feedback (it can be a friend, a trusted relative, a teacher, a pastor/rabbi, someone you meet on the street, or even a journal. The reason I put a journal, is that it allows you to get your thoughts and feelings onto paper and in doing so, you can step back and examine what you have been going through. It gives a new perspective that you might not have seen before).

Hope for a better future

Hope for a better future

(wolfhirschhorn.org)

I’m going to end this post with question: how do you deal with depression/mania and do you have any tips or tricks that you do to help keep yourself sane (or at least provide yourself with some comfort)? I’m always looking for ways to help myself when I’m struggling and I know there are things I’ve yet to do.

Wow this has been the longest post I’ve written in quite some time.

I hope you are all well and look forward to hearing from you,

Dave.

A New Day Has Begun as the Confusion Slowly Leaves my Body

An End to the Confusion (Disclaimer: There is some talk of suicide, so please be wary that it might be a trigger) What a month, it has been an intense roller coaster of emotions and at one point I thought I was going to crash. However, I pulled through and was able to find a job. A good friend of mine runs a curb painting business and hired me last week. He trained me on Saturday and the very next day I was on my own. In fact, I’m taking over the curb painting, as J (I’m not going to use his full name) is now going to work full time on his Christian Evangelical ministry. Prior to being hired, J had offered me a job to do public relations for his ministry, which is kind of ironic being that I’m an atheist. However, we both respect each other’s beliefs and as such J really wanted to hire me (I’ve known J for over a year, and many times over the last year we have had long and deep conversations about religion. Not debates, but enlightening conversations that taught both of us how to be better human beings and how to accept other’s beliefs. That’s why I like J so much, he is open and accepting of everyone regardless of their religion or Irreligion), however, at the last minute the book J had written (it’s a text detailing his ministry as well as providing a map on how to evangelize like J) was picked up by the largest Christian publishing group in North America, and as such, they were going to do the PR for him.

I was devastated.

Unfortunately, I had put all of my hopes and dreams into the job and when it fell apart I was at a complete loss. For the next few days it felt like I was drowning- my head was filled with dark thoughts, angry thoughts and suicidal thoughts. It felt like my life was slowly crumbling and all I could do was watch the destruction. My anxiety was out of control (I had run out of Neurontin a few weeks prior to this event, due to my stress and anxiety of having to move to a new home), my depression was suffocating and for the first time in years I thought about ending my life. I remember it vividly, it was last Tuesday. I had to go to the bank to pick up the money for my therapist. When I pulled into the parking lot and found open space, I pulled in and shut my engine off. I sat there staring at the street in front of me and out of no where a voice said it was time to die. The voice got louder and louder and I started to think of ways to accomplish my utter destruction, ways that would work on the first try. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on as my brain had taken over my  body (I’ve been convinced that my brain is a living entity, that has been trying to destroy my life for years), forcing me to think of horrible things. I tried my hardest to contain the suicidal feelings, reminding myself that the collateral damage my suicide would cause would be enormous- my parents would be devastated and I don’t know if my dad would live through it, my sister would be at a loss, my precious cat would never be the same and those that new me would be endlessly sad. I don’t know why, but it was at that time I got out of the car and walked to the ATM machine. Reminding myself of the collateral damage worked, the suicidal thought subsided and my brain had lost control of my body. Although the suicidal thoughts were gone, I was extremely miserable.

That night I went to my support group and it was a horrible experience. I was angry about the unfairness of my life. I was angry that I had been born this way. I was deeply ashamed for putting my family through hell. I was ashamed that I had let myself fall so far into the dark hole of self-pity, self-hatred and depression. I lashed out at the other group members and got angry when someone said I should be patient as a job would eventually show up. But I couldn’t accept that response, I couldn’t accept the positivity that most of the group members had, as I was sickened and scared of the feeling of happiness (the day I ended up in the psych ward I had woken up extremely happy. In fact it was the happiest I had felt in years. However, it did not last long as I later experienced a mind splitting mixed episode that caused the nurses to put me in the psych ward). I thought everything was over and when I got home from group I took a few benadryls and drifted off into sleep.

The next day my life changed for the better.  J texted me and asked if I would be willing to work with him on the curb painting business. I immediately said yes and my life finally took a positive turn.

Don't Lose Hope

As I said at the beginning of this post, it has been an intense roller coaster of emotions.

I will end this post with a question: Have you experienced an intense and difficult point in your life and how did you overcome it, or how have you dealt with it? I would love to hear your stories and if you have any advice on how to deal with horrible situations I would be very grateful.

I just want to thank my loyal readers for continually coming to blog even though I have been absent quite a bit over the last year. I’m slowly working on posting more often and I hope I can increase my visitor stats, the reason being if I can get a couple hundred more readers I might be able to buy my own domain and put ads onto the blog so that I can make a little bit of money to pay for my rent, food, gas etc. So please spread the word about Struggling with the Elephant in the Room- tell your friends, tell your family, and help me turn this blog into a thriving community where everyone can feel comfortable and accepted.

I hope everyone is doing well, and I hope you have a wonderful and restful Wednesday afternoon.

Dave.

Ps. Baby Domino says hi:

Tuxedo Cat

Thank You for All of the Amazing Comments and Support

As I said in the title thank you for commenting, discussing, supporting and relating to my struggles. This means the world to me. The last week has been a living nightmare. Every day I woke up, I was drowning in darkness and despair. My depression was at an all time high and to make things worse I was also struggling with crippling anxiety and paranoia – essentially this was a mixed episode and the last time I had one I was locked up in a psych ward.

For five days I was desperate to have the pain end and midway through my episode I wanted my life to end. I’m not suicidal, but I have had thoughts of death before and this time I truly wanted to die. I thought my life was pointless.

However, a day later I contacted one of my friends and asked for help. This was a huge step for me as I rarely reach out to other human beings.  But it was the right thing to do. My friend spent the next few hours texting and talking with me.  She reassured me, provided me with support and listened to my struggles. By the time our conversation ended, I felt a lot better. Although I was still depressed, I had confidence to continue fighting. Because I reached out and asked for help, I was able to overcome my mixed episode and realize that that my life is not pointless.

Currently I’m not depressed, or anxious, or paranoid, or manic. In fact, I feel great. What made this possible was seeing all of the amazing comments that have been left on my previous post.  My goal is to read through all of them and try to respond to as many as possible.

Again thank you for your support and your stories. The goal of this blog is to become a forum for people who struggle with mental illness and to be a safe place for people to discuss, comment and tell their stories.

I would love to hear more of your stories. How many of you have had a mixed episode? How many of you have spent time in a psych ward? And does anyone have any tips on how to overcome depression?

I hope you are all doing well! And remember, stay strong and never give up!!!

Dave.

Domino says hi :) And here is a picture of baby Domino

 

The Problem with Mixing Manic Depressive Illness and Weed

(This post was originally a guest post on prozacblogger.com. You can find that post here) The following is an example of what a mixed episode is and why it can be so dangerous (it also shows why a person with manic-depression should not smoke weed). I’ve experienced a lot of mental breakdowns, but there is one that almost shattered my mind.  It happened about two years, before I was diagnosed with manic depressive illness. I had just quit my job and my life seemed to have no meaning. I was smoking weed everyday, waking up late, watching hours of TV and constantly getting into fights with my parents (I was still living at home. To this day, I’m embarrassed and ashamed at the way I acted to my parents, but I was blind to my surrounding. It also didn’t help that I had major mood swings).  It was the middle of the week and I had gotten into another argument with my parents. It escalated and my dad told me that I could no longer live in his house. I didn’t know what to do- I was scared, angry, confused and paranoid. So I left the house, got into my car and started driving. I called up a friend of mine and asked him if he wanted to pick up some weed.

About an hour later I was in my friend’s car driving around the city of Long Beach, smoking a joint and talking about nothing. I was texting a girl [C] that I had just started seeing, complaining to her about what my parents had done. I kept sending her texts, even though she didn’t respond. As a result, my paranoia started to grow so I convinced my friend to let me drive.

It was about 5pm when we arrived at the dealer’s house (mental note:  I was still high and still frustrated about my parents threatening to kick me out of the house. The problem was that my frustration was starting to turn into depression and the weed was making me paranoid). My friend called him and we were instructed to stay in the car. About 10 minutes later, the front door of the house opened and a guy with a beard came out carrying a large black case. He got into the back seat, greeted us and asked what we wanted.  After making the deal, we rolled up two joints and smoked out the dealer.

It started to rain.

The drive back to Long Beach took almost two hours.  Upon returning to my friend’s house, I called C and asked her if she wanted to hang out. She said yes

……a few hours later……

We were all sitting in my friend’s apartment, passing around a bong and making small talk. At that point I was really high- my mind was racing, my palms were sweaty and this voice started to fill my head. We all decided to leave the apartment and hang out at the pool. C and her friend jumped into the pool, while I sat on a bench watching. You are a worthless piece of shit!  The voice in my head started to grow. No one wants you, no one cares about you, you are better off dead. Go ahead, just slit your fucking wrists and end your life. My thoughts were racing, I was extremely paranoid and depressed and the voice in my head continued to grow. All I could think about was how pathetic my life was. I didn’t have a job, my parents didn’t want me and I had this feeling C didn’t like being with me. She thinks you’re an idiot. The only reason why she is going out with you is to fuck with your head. Just look at her. Look at the way she stares at your friend. She cares nothing about. Just kill yourself and be done with it. I started to rock back and forth. Sweat was pouring down my face and I felt like throwing up. I didn’t know what to do. I had never felt like this and I was beyond scared. My thoughts would not stop racing. The voice in my head just kept getting louder and louder and louder.  Just kill yourself! Just kill yourself! Just kill yourself! All of your friends hate you; no one wants to be with you. No one wants to love you. Just kill yourself!

I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and ran back to my friend’s apartment. I found the bong and started smoking again. About twenty minutes later, the voice in my head disappeared and I realized I had left everyone downstairs. Unfortunately, C had gone home- angry that I had left her and frustrated that I was acting “weird.” In fact, that was the end of our relationship. She wanted nothing to do me after that night (that was my first and last relationship. I was devastated she left me because of a mental breakdown and as a result, my self-confidence plummeted causing me to have a hard time trusting people).

This was the first of many mixed episodes; however, due to the weed it was extremely bad. This was very hard for me to write about, because it is still a very raw and emotional memory. However, I hope this explains a bit about why you should not mix marijuana and manic-depression.

Stay Strong!

Dave.

Manic Depressive Illness- Low Self Confidence

It’s been almost a week since I last posted and my life is still in limbo (I have felt like this ever since I was diagnosed with Manic Depressive Illness. Its  not that I was always like this, but rather, I have been using it as a crutch). Although the depression has receded a bit, I am still struggling with low self-confidence and a need to escape from the world. Instead of working on my writing, the one joy in my life, I am avoiding it at all costs. And I hate myself for that. I want to write, I want to hone my skill, but my mind won’t allow me the pleasure. Instead, I have spent most of the last week mired in self-pity, putting myself down and giving up on the world. The fact that I am writing now is amazing to me- it has taken almost all of my energy to sit down in front of my computer, put my fingers on the keyboard and type. At the moment its like performing a root canal on myself without painkillers or dental knowledge.

What makes this even worse is the fact that I have multiple posts waiting to be polished and published. I just keep holding myself back.

So there you have it, a brief explanation of why I stopped posting. Even though I feel like shit. I really want to keep this blog alive. Please bear with me as I try to get more posts out.

Dave.

Ps. I just want to thank everyone who commented on my previous posts, I will be responding to them in the next few days (depending on how stable my mind is).

Manic Depressive Illness-Why Self-Harm can Happen to Anyone

(Warning, there is graphic content in this post that could potentially become a trigger) I never thought I would cut myself. I never thought I would resort to self-harm as a way to escape my emotional pain. I never thought my wrists would be covered in scars or that my favorite knife would become my only friend. But life takes its toll, causing us to do things we normally would not do. I was 22 when I first cut myself and I still remember it vividly. It was the middle of the week and I had just come home from work. Tired, I spent a few minutes talking with my parents before I retreated to my room. Closing the door, I walked over to my bookshelf  and examined my collection. My thoughts were racing, dragging me closer to a depressive episode (at the time I did not realize I suffered from Manic Depressive Illness. Although I had spent most of my childhood in therapy, my adult life was the complete opposite. I thought I had been cured. I thought that my mind was finally stable and that I could return to a normal existence. But I was wrong. I spent so much time trying to escape my past, that I did not realize I mentally unstable).

Walking away from my book case, I sat down on my bed and started to worry. Thoughts of death consumed my mind, causing me to further crack. I didn’t know what to do. I had no one to turn to (at the time I did not trust my parents, I had been so wrapped up in my own life that I forgot my parents were there to help me. So instead of walking out of my bedroom and confront my parents, I just sat there in silence). Tears began to trickle down my face as the darkness grew. I tried to tell myself that the thoughts were not real, that my brain was just fucking with me. But nothing was working. I was desperate, so I started to chant “Go away bad thoughts, go away bad thoughts, go away bad thoughts,” hoping that the darkness would recede. Unfortunately I was wrong. The negative thoughts began to grow, telling me that I would never have any friends, that I was ugly, that my co-workers hated me and that my own parents had given up on me.

It was around this time that a knife had found its way into my hands. Opening the blade, I stared at the cerated edge, contemplating my next move. Without realizing what I was doing, I placed the blade on my left wrist and began to cut. At first the blade did break through the skin. I pulled the knife away, stared at my wrist and began to laugh. A smile had formed on my face, as I tried to cut my left wrist again. This time I cut deeper into my wrist, causing blood to form at the cut. Not satisfied, I cut myself again and again and again until I had created a small gash. I dropped the knife and stared at my wrist. I watched as the blood poured out of the cut and fell onto my tile floor. I sat there for twenty minutes, staring at my cuts, watching as more blood left my body. It was a very surreal moment. The darkness had evaporated and I felt happy for the first time that week. I licked the blood off my arm, put my knife away and went to the bathroom to clean up. Unfortunately, that would not be the last time I cut myself (or caused other bodily harm). I refused to think that I was harming myself, instead I viewed it as a way to temporarily eliminate the darkness.

Some of the scars have disappeared, but if you look close enough you can still see where I had cut myself.

Unfortunately, society does not prepare us for self-harm. We are taught that only pre-teens cut themselves, that it usually is a cry for help or a faze one goes through. But that is not the truth. Anyone, at any age can fall victim to self-harm and unless we start to change the stigma surrounding it or create an open dialogue, then the problem will just continue to grow.

I learned the hard way that self-harm can happen to anyone. But like addiction, the problem is not easily fixed. Although I have not cut myself in the last year, I still feel the urge to get my knife and open up old wounds.

That is all for now.

Dave.

Manic Depressive Illness- My Struggle with Avoidance and Life

One of my professors sent me an email yesterday. It was urgently inquiring about my late work and a meeting with my advisor. Most people would respond promptly, wanting to make sure they cleared the problem up. I, on the other hand avoided the email, not wanting to address the issue. Essentially I wanted to pretend that the problem did not exist. I know this might seem childish, however, it is a real problem that has greatly impacted my life (please bear with me, I am really struggling with this issue at the moment. It is something I have struggled with prior to my diagnosis with Manic Depressive Illness. Hence why I have not posted regularly).

Even now, as sit at my computer my brain is trying to convince me this post is a horrible idea. That I should just turnoff my laptop, move myself to the couch and start playing video games. Most of the time I give into the impulse to avoid, which usually leads to horrible decisions (i.e. drugs, alcohol) I have spent most of my adult life avoiding my problems. Drinking heavily to the point of black out, or getting so high on pain killers that I can barley function. I usually take the easy way out, hoping that if I continue to avoid the issue it will just go away. But that leads to further problems: loss of self-confidence/self-worth, depression, anxiety and negative thoughts. It might seem easy to break out of this cycle, but once you are in it, escape seems impossible.

I guess you could say I was born into a culture of avoidance. This was not learned from my parents, but rather being around an extended family that tried to constantly avoid its problems. I saw how alcohol could be a solution (yes I know, that is a fucked up view, but when you are young and impressionable you don’t know what is right). There are numerous examples where avoidance has fucked up my family, but at the moment I do not want to put them all in this post. Hopefully at a later date I will be able to write about them, but for the time being just know that my extended family is beyond fucked up. It is a family you would never wish on anyone.

I am really struggling with avoidance and along with my other insecurities, you can see how my mental state is a bit wobbly. Unfortunately, I still don’t take all of my meds. I guess I keep hoping that my mind would work without medication, that it would just go back to the way it was when I was a child; innocent and un-burden by immense depression and mania. Some days I wonder why I had to go through all this shit, why my mind is all fucked. Why did I have to go through drug and alcohol addiction, why do I have to deal with deep depression and constant hate for myself? Why did i have to be beaten down by my jobs, why did my boss strangle me and threaten my life and why does everything hurt?I understand that we can’t choose our lives or our genetics. But sometimes I wish I could just get one day without out all the shit in my head. One day when I could just have a break from it all and be normal.

Well that is my rant for tonight. Please forgive the rambling, but I needed to get this off my chest, to at least have someone else hear what is going on in my head.

Dave.

Manic Depressive Illness- A Week in Review/The Problem with Bias

Well I made it- my first full week back as a Mental Health blogger and what an experience it has been. For the longest time I thought my writing career was over. I had become so used to isolating myself, that failure and complacency had become normal. I let my Manic Depressive Illness win. There is a reason I still use this term. It is a way to get people to address the bias that surrounds mental illness. Although it is the 21st century, mental illness is still seen as a blight on society and those that suffer are considered social pariahs. While studying the New Testament I was amazed at how people with mental illness were treated. Most were seen as being possessed by the Devil:

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy (Matthew 17:14:21)

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21]

As can be seen, the previous passage found in the Gospel of Matthew compares mental disability with demonic possession. There are other instances of demonic possession/mental illness that are found within the New Testament (Mark 9:14-29; Matthew 4: 23-25; Matthew 12:22-23; there are more passages, however, at this moment I will only post the previous texts).  The problem is, this creates tremendous bias and “hatred” towards those that are mentally ill (please do not take this the wrong way, I am not accusing Christianity or putting it down, but rather providing various points of interest that dictate how we currently deal with Mental Illness. My field of study is Pastoral Care/Spiritual Counseling which allows me to examine how psychotherapy and theology combine). We have come along way in our quest to “cure” mental illness- medication has evolved over the last couple of decades, providing us with various options and the field of psychotherapy has grown immensely. However, the more advancements we make, the more society wants to blind itself to the truth.

For fucksake, the moment I was diagnosed with MDI/Bipolar Disorder/OCD/Agoraphobia I was told by my therapist to keep it a secret. Even my parents who had spent most of their married lives helping me (taking me to therapy, working closely with the school districts and making sure I continued to work on myself), made it clear that I was to hide my diagnosis.

I will not lie, it has been a struggle. It took me almost a year to come to terms with my diagnosis and work up the courage to talk to those around me about my mental condition. However, there are still scores of people who live in fear…..that is what angers me the most: The fact that society still views mental illness as a horrible disease. Until we can properly eliminate the bias, people who suffer from mental illness will live in fear, shame, confusion and isolation.

The following bloggers are must reads! Follow them, read them and share their links with your friends:

If You Are Going Through Hell Keep Going

Soulful Sepulcher

Bipolartude

Bipolar Batesy

We Had Pennies In Our Pockets

Bipolar Burble

If Narky, Feed Profusely

Rock. Paper. Shut Up

Well that is it for today. I hope everyone has a restful Saturday. Till next time,

Stay Strong!

Dave.

Manic Depressive Illness- The Problem with Accurate Diagnosis

A little over a year ago my life changed. After going through numerous mental breakdowns (please see my previous post, for a detailed description of my various mental breakdowns, that led me to quit all of my jobs and give up on life) I finally decided it was time to seek medical/professional help. With the support of my parents I began looking for a psychiatrist as well as a therapist. It didn’t take long for me to find a psych who would accept my insurance and before I knew it I had an appointment (At the time I did not realize how bad/shoddy/ignorant this psychiatrist was. Had I done some research, I would have avoided the pain I was about to go through. The problem was that I was very manic and obsessively determined to fix my “problem.” In doing so, I hastily found a psychiatrist without the prober due diligence).

About a week later I went to my first psychiatrist appointment. The office building was located in an upscale area of Long Beach. The lounge was large- filled with numerous patients, desks covered in magazines, cheap art  and worn-out chairs. I signed in and took a seat in the back of the lounge. Thirty minutes passed and still had not  been called. Impatient I walked over to the receptionist  desk and asked if the psych was still in. I was informed that Dr. A was still in a session with another patient and would be with me shortly.

 

Two hours later I was finally allowed to see the psych. His office was in the back of the building and it was filled with artifacts from around the world. Dr. A sat behind a large mahogany desk and he was covered in gold and platinum jewelry. He told me to sit down and informed me that he was the only psych in the area who could diagnose a patient in less than five minutes. (I know this might sound ludicrous, but this actually happened to me. He was a very sleazy man. Not only did he have a large platinum and diamond cross around his neck, but he also wore a rolex and numerous gem rings. On top of that he was ignorant and made numerous comments that degraded people with Bipolar Disorder). And he was right, he diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder the moment I began describing my symptoms. I was put on depakote, however, that did not work as it made me insanly depressed. Then I was put on Abilify which lasted all of three days, but those three days were hell as I could not sit still or concentrate as I was constantly overcome with tremors. Next I was put on tegretol (oh and another thing, he was never available when I called his office. I always had to leave a message with his secretary. And it was always his secretary who would call back with an answer, as Dr. A was too busy to call me personally) and that seemed to work. However, as the week progressed I started to become very manic and very depressed. I began to realize that Dr. A was not the best psychiatrist for me, so I stopped seeing him. This was a very hard decision for me, as I am usually very scared of change as well as mortified by other people’s response to my actions (will I offend the psych if I no longer see him).

I am glad that I was able to break free from this psych and move on to someone new. It was around this time that I had started seeing a therapist and he suggested a psych that was highly regarded in the area. My therapist was right, the psych was amazing and within two weeks we both were able to workout a med cocktail that balanced my mind. I am still seeing this psych, as he is very empathetic and knowledgeable.

One problem still exists: my diagnosis.

To this day I am considered Un-catogorized Bipolar, with Rapid Cycling, Mixed Episodes, OCD and a mild form of agoraphobia. No one has been able to determine my exact diagnosis which scares me.

Well that is all for now,

Dave.

Manic Depressive Illness- A Life Long Struggle with Mental Illness

A couple of months ago my mom made a comment that stuck with me- she said that I had won the “mental illness lottery.” I tried to understand what she had meant, but at the time I was pretty clueless: Was my mom trying to be funny, or was this an accurate depiction of my life? It wasn’t until I feel into deep depression, destroying the little bit of progress I had made, that I began to comprehend my mom’s comment. I started to examine my family background and what I found blew me away.

I was about 8 years old when I was first taken to see a psychiatrist. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, the psychiatrist recommended that I see a cognitive behavioral therapist as well as take ADD medication. At the time ritalin was the most prominent drug. But I refused to take it and my parents agreed. So the only option available to me was intense psychological therapy. For the first year I would see my therapist three times a week. It was not an easy time for me as most of my classmates would be spending their afternoons playing video games or sports. I would be stuck in therapy working on issues that I thought were pointless. I hated going to therapy. I hated being singled out. And I hated the fact that my teachers thought I was lying about my mental illness (my kindergarten teacher tried her hardest to fail me. She would put me down in class, talk about me behind my back and ignore my raised hand when I had a question. This was my first taste of the bias/ignorance that surrounds mental illness. I was only a child and yet she thought it necessary to treat me like shit). My childhood did not get any easier. In fact most of my childhood is a blur; I don’t remember much prior to my 13th birthday, only fragments of my childhood remain in my memory (I will come back to this topic in a later post. For now, just understand that I was in therapy until I was 18).

When I turned 18 I decided I no longer wanted to see my therapist. My life was stable. I had just been accepted into Whittier College, my grades were strong and I had a large group of friends. What I did not realize was that my mind was changing. I was becoming very manic and although that allowed me to accomplish a lot, I was destined to crash (I just did not realize it at the time. During this manic period I graduated from Whittier in three years with two majors and a minor (Political Science, Religious Studies and History) I worked for the football team, I was a PR agent for the President of the School, I played video games, I drank daily and I was constantly writing. Upon graduation I began working for a labor union as well as a hotel. However, my life began to crack. It would seem that every three months I would fall into a deep depression, isolate myself and anger those around me. I didn’t know what was going on. Unfortunately, I did not seek help as I was still able to perform at both of my jobs.

About two years after I graduate from college, I quit my job at the Union and started working as a telemarketer. It was during this time that my pain killer addiction was at an all time high (I would buy hundreds of pills every two weeks) as well as my weed smoking. I had my first major breakdown and in doing so I destroyed most of my friendships. Still I refused to seek help. Quitting my telemarketing job, I began working with the Orange County Republican Party. I had an internship with a prominent US representative as well as a high ranking position within the OCGOP. I also became addicted to Oxycodone. It was at this point in my life that I experienced a horrible mental breakdown. I had to quit all of my jobs as I could no longer function and I finally told my parents about my drug problem. My dad, who originally was skeptical about my ADD, helped me to overcome my addiction as well as push me towards seeing a therapist. My mom was extremely supportive and suggested that it might be time to try medication. So at the beginning of 2010 I was diagnosed as being Bipolar, with rapid cycling and mixed episodes and was put on a cocktail of drugs.

Sorry for going off on a tangent, but I thought having a bit of my background would help in understanding the original comment: me winning the “mental illness lottery.” As I stated above, I recently became interested in my family history. There is a lot of mental illness on both my dad and mom’s side. My mom’s sister committed suicide last year after a life long battle with depression. My great aunt on my dad’s side, spent most of her early adult life in a mental institute. My great grandmother on my dad’s side died in a mental institute, as well as my great grandmother on my mom’s side. My 1st cousin on my mom’s side was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and my 1st Cousin on my dad’s side spent much of his childhood in special education classes (he was never diagnosed, as his parents thought mental illness was a curse on the family. Instead of helping him,  they demanded that his elementary school FIX their son or they would sue. Unfortunately, he has yet to see a therapist). This list does not include the numerous drug and alcohol abuses that exists within my extended family (my paternal grandfather’s brother died in drink-driving accident, and a second cousin of mine died after shooting up pure cocaine).

As can be seen my mom’s comment was right, I had in fact won the “mental illness lottery.” In my immediate family (parents and sister) I am the only one who is “mentally ill.” All of the psychological problems that exist within my family passed over my parents and sister and landed in my head.

Well that is all for today, my head and hands hurt. I hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday,

Dave.

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