Therapy Thursday 11.29.18

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Thin vs. Stable

We live in a society today where “thin” is beautiful and the words mental illness are filled with all sorts of stigma.  There are people who are considered “thin” and also mentally stable.  They’re lucky, I suppose.  People don’t realize this, but 1 in 4 adults lives with a mental illness, and that is just based on the number of people who actually seek help.  And another thing most people don’t realize is that most psychiatric medications (especially the newer anti-psychotics) are prone to cause weight gain.

So what is it?  Thin or stable?  Accepted by society by the way you look, but looked down upon when you show any signs of mental illness?  Or looked down upon for the way you look,  but commended for how reliable and stable you are?  The pressures of society push at you from both sides and you have to decide which side will win.

It’s easy for those of us with a mental illness to say “I want to be stable” because when we’re not, living is some sort of hell.  But then, we start taking our meds to become that stable person and our bodies start to change.  People start to notice as we put on weight.  We have to go buy new clothes because our old ones don’t fit, and our self-esteem plummets.  We work out and watch what we eat, but nothing seems to work.  What was that thing about wanting to be stable, you wonder?

So we start chipping away at our medication, hoping something will get us back to “looking good” until we realize that the stability we had is slipping away.  So we try to catch ourselves and try to get it back, but that comes with the weight gain again.

So what would you do?  Me?  I’ve done both.  And stability far outweighs society’s need to be “thin.”  And, remember, thin doesn’t always mean healthy either.

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Therapy Thursday 9.27.18

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Well, for some reason yesterday (Thursday) images weren’t loading.  So I tried again today.   Here’s yesterday’s entry for Therapy Thursday.

Today I’m going to touch on the subject of social anxiety (also called social phobia).  Social anxiety manifests itself differently in people, but there are a few classic signs that are usually present.

With social anxiety, there is an extreme fear of social situations and high levels of anxiety.  Many feel self-conscious and even embarrassment because of the fear of judgement.  These things can lead to disruptions in one’s life including work, school, and other activities.  It’s important to remember that this is not normal levels of anxiety such as a job interview or just meeting new people for instance.  Social phobia interferes with your whole life.

I, myself live with social anxiety, and the following do reflect a lot of what I deal with on a day to day basis.  I have learned coping skills, however, and am on medication, so it has eased a bit, but it will never go away.

A few signs you or someone you know may be living with social phobia are:

  • thinking you ight embarrass or humiliate yourself
  • fear of judgement
  • Avoiding things because of embarrassment fears
  • Getting anxious before events
  • Analyzing your behavior after a social ituation including things you might have done wrong, any obvious flaws, etc.
  • Avoiding anything that may put you at the center of attention
  • Expecting the worst possible outcome in any social situation

There are also physical symptoms that can occur, but that’s a whole other blog entry, as it deals with another disorder too.

Any comments or questions?  Feel free!

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Music Monday 9.17.18

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Welcome to the first Music Monday!  From now on, on Mondays I’ll be talking about specific artists or songs and why I find them important to me.

For the first week I’m going to introduce you to my new love, Halsey.  Halsey is a 23 (almost 24!) year old singer who’s first LP, Badlands, was released in 2015.  Her second LP, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, was released in 2017.

My first exposure to her was finding her song Gasoline featured on a playlist.  I was mesmerized, so I downloaded it and put it in one of my playlists in iTunes.  Then, a couple of days later, I came across her song Control.  After that I was quite interested, and downloaded her CDs, listened to them quite a bit and she became one of my favorites.

When I broke down and Googled her, I realized that, despite our ages, we had a lot of things in common.  Mostly because she has Bipolar Disorder, which is a huge part of my disorder.  Our similarities don’t end there, but I don’t want to ramble on.

The song I chose to feature this week is Angel on Fire from Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.  The song speaks to me on a deep level, and although she’s talking about things happening in her own back yard, the feeling resonates with me.  The song is her waking up after all of her friends had partied in her back yard all night, yet didn’t bother to wake her up.  In the second verse she talks about when she was there partying with them and these lyrics stick out:

I’d laugh and drink and talk about things

And Fall in love in my back yard

Now it’s my own anxiety that makes the conversation hard

But nobody seems to ask about me anymore

And nobody even cares ’bout anything I think

Nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd

In the background screaming, everybody look at me!

Personally, this reminds me of my own journey with myself, my social anxiety, and my social group.  It’s like, while admitting the anxiety is a huge part of what happens, a person concentrates so much on their fall from grace, as I would call it.  They (and I, admittedly) always focus on how they’re treated by the people around them and compare it to how it used to be.

The song has definitely changed my viewpoint on the subject and how I’m more comfortable with both my own anxiety and the interactions of the people around me.  And I’ve realized that I’m actually a big part of the evolution of my social life and that things don’t go back to the way they were.  That I’m still affecting this because I still deal with that same anxiety.  And I’m okay with that.

Have a listen:

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Therapy Thursday 9.13.18

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Welcome to the first ever Therapy Thursday.  It’s where I’m going to talk about mental health issues.  I have personal knowledge, but we all have our own experience. Things that I talk about on here you may have more personal experience with, and I would love to talk with you about that.  First, though, I’m going to be taking things from my experience, realizing that it’s not the only way a disorder(s) can work.  I’d love comments on these to gain even more intimate knowledge of what I choose to talk about.

That all said, this week’s topic will be on mania.  Mostly spurred on because my own mother really doesn’t even have a grasp on what mania is or can be.

When people refer to mania, they are usually referring to Bipolar Disorder.  There are other Disorders that have mania included, but they are mostly related to BD.  I, myself, have Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar type.  Many people don’t realize that this disorder is placed on the mood disorder scale and not the schizophrenic scale.  There will always be people who have more schizophrenic tendencies than others, though.  Mine is, however, more of a mood disorder unless I have a psychotic break, and mania is most definitely part of what I deal with.

I’ve been on medication for awhile now, but I vividly remember a few manic episodes I’ve had while off meds.  The first being when I was 15 years old.  Now, while it was happening I didn’t realize what was going on, but I’ve since then recognized it for what it was.  Another I had when I was a senior in high school.  And yet another after college.  Those are the ones that stick out the most.

To understand mania, you have to forget the thoughts that all bipolar is are “mood swings.”  While in concept, it can be “mood swings,” they are much more intense and have much more to them than just a feeling.  Mania varies from person to person, but it has symptoms such has elevated mood (euphoric), racing thoughts, engaging in risk-taking behaviors such as promiscuity, driving fast, or spending all of your money/money that you don’t have, and a decreased need for sleep.  There could also be irritability, increased self-esteem, and starting multiple things which most times won’t get finished before another idea pops into your head.

There is also a lesser form of full-blown mania known as hypo-mania in which the prominent symptoms are experienced to a lesser degree.  I, being on medication sometimes experience the symptoms of hypo-mania still.  People with bipolar disorder who experience deep depression and hypomania are most times diagnosed with Bipolar II, and people who have ever had an episode of full-blown mania are diagnosed as Bipolar I.  With the bipolar part of a Schizoaffective Disorder usually have the mania’s of Bipolar I.

With my own mania’s, there have been differences every time.  When I was 15 no one knew what was going on, but I was irritable, I couldn’t “think straight” because I felt like everything was on my mind, I would lie in bed without sleeping practically all night, and I decided to take on different endeavors every night.  As I got older, sexual promiscuity was definitely part of the mix, true euphoria, as well as some peculiar behaviors.

That said, this may have just been a “well, duh” post or an eye-opening one.  The most important thing to take away from this is that while I’ve sat here and listed what mania actually is, I haven’t said that everyone’s mania is the same.  Those symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to certain people too.  Mental illness is such a complexity of symptoms that while you can “label” something, not one person will be exactly the same.

So, thus concludes my first Therapy Thursday.  I know it was a big factual mess, but I’m hoping that as time goes on I’ll be able to write a bit more cohesively.  If you have any thoughts, or questions,  please feel free to comment!

Thank you!

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How a TV Show Saved My Life

Back in 2012, I was not attending a church of any kind and, therefore, was relying on myself to put the puzzle pieces in order, so they would actually lock together.  They never did.  And in 2012 I had a huge psychotic break that landed me in the hospital.  My two best friends, Clarise and Mike (married then, now divorced) were up in New York with Clarise’s parents and had no cell reception.  Eventually, though I got through, but was hit with some startling news… Clarise’s mother had passed.

So, here I was, in the hospital, finally becoming lucid, and my friend was suffering.  I got out of the hospital the day before our friend’s wedding and, me being me, forgot all that had happened to Clarise and needed her.  I wasn’t fully recovered and she was right there.  Right when I needed her.  She helped me out.  She never once abandoned me.  I didn’t realize what had happened until many years later, and I still don’t forgive myself for not being there for her tragic loss.

It wasn’t the first time having psychosis.  I’ve had it practically my whole life.  But this was BAD… extremely bad.  I can only liken it to the break I had my senior year in high school, and even that paled in comparison.  It kept getting worse.  I had to leave my job.

But within all this, Clarise and Mike introduced me to Supernatural.  I know some of you have a bad taste in your mouth when you hear about the show, but this entry is ABOUT it.  So deal.  I started watching and fell in love with the show.  It was during the middle of season 7 being currently aired, and I quickly caught up.   Mind you, I was still having delusions and hallucinating a bit.  As I watched season 7, Sam, after all he’d been through (not spoiling it for others!), was having hallucinations and delusions.  He even ended up in a psychiatric facility.  So there I was, suffering inside, and this character on a tv show was feeling like me.  I cried.  I literally cried.  I’ve continued to watch the show except in recent years (gotta play catch-up, right?).

So, even if the root cause wasn’t the same for Sam, the show showed me that it could tackle anything.  Any kind of life stress.  Things no one wants to talk about.  Sure, the show is about two brother who hunt and kill evil things (and in recent years have had a nice story line with the King of Hell and the devil himself, but now I’m getting into details), but there’s humanity underneath all that.  There’s happiness, emotional pain, physical pain, rage, love… everything.  When I realized a person like Sam Winchester could be dealing with what I did in a way gave me hope.  The next year I went to the convention on a Sunday and was just there for the Q&A.  in 2015, I went again, this time for the whole weekend, but didn’t have a photo op with him.  I honestly think if I did, I’d break down in tears.

That’s my story.  I always had help in the form or friendship ad family, but a tv show wormed into my heart, and I will forever be indebted to you, Sam Winchester.

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