Allow yourself to transcend the naming of your symptoms

French political cartoon of French cardinal Je...

Mental illness, diseases of the mind, behavioral disorders or however our community allows it to be named, it is all inadequate.

Mental illness, is a stale description.  It has sat in the open community air, over the many years when our awareness grew too slowly, when stigma and ignorance gave it the old cold frost-bite.  It reminds of me of the, Confessions of Georgia (Anne) Nicolson series, by the most hilarious Louise Rennison, When Georgia Anne says, “Have you gone mental?!,” in one-thousand-and-one ways.  There is just so much sniffing and eye swirling around the term.  I do not mind Georgia Anne using it at all.  It is fresh in her mouth.  It is not, however, winter green in ours.

Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, states that these terms are “impediments to progress.”  He uses the term, brain disease, as a way to diminish barriers to scientific investigation, hopefully leading to earlier detection and treatment.

Others, however, challenge even this term, brain disease, stating that it is premature and narrow.  The illnesses that demonstrate emotional and behavioral pathology involve more than brain and mentum.  They include the magic, the internal/external stressors, the arguments and the weather.  They include the intersecting paradigms that make us who we are, often referred to as the biopsychosocial model.  These, “Others,” argue that it is presumptuous to name pathological symptoms of emotions and behaviors with, “brain disease,” until we know what the brian does in the first place.

Questions:  But what do you think?  Are the terms we use more impediments to progress than they are tools toward?  Do you have any recommendations?  How have these terms affected your life?  Please tell us your story.

Self-care tip:  Allow yourself to transcend the naming of your symptoms.  

More on ECT – TV Episode happened upon

Hello Friends.  I don’t know if you’re interested or not, but we’ve opened discussion on ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) in the past and because it remains open, I wanted you to know that I just ran across this TV episode online that is done surprisingly well.  Check it out and let us know what your thoughts are.  Keep on.

Emotions – One Part of The Multi-Paradigm Weave That Makes Us Who We Are

Immanuel Kant developed his own version of the...

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Yesterday we spoke about the emotion, happiness, as it connects to and does not connect to spirituality.  Traditional western religions squirm  or  more, disagree when they hear this.  Everything is spiritual in their school of thought.  However, as our understanding of where emotions and behaviors come from, we have happily disentangled ourselves from the stigma and judgment that comes from the way many people have (mostly unwittingly and often without intended malice) abused us with mental illness.

I know that I have also been in this crowd of prejudiced.  Coming out of that has been fun.  There is still so much that I think I see clearly but don’t, as it is for us all.  The growth we’re talking about is part of the high adventure that brings pleasure to life.

To say it plainly:

  1. Emotions come from the brain.
  2. Emotions are not always directly chosen as we can’t directly choose the way our brain works.
  3. Emotions are what we use to interpret the world around us.
  4. Emotions don’t have intrinsic moral value.  Morality is bigger than the way we feel.
  5. Emotions are not constant between us.
  6. Emotions are a sense.  We’ve called them the Sixth Sense.  Senses are subjective and not objective.

How does this fit into your biopsychosocial model of how you see yourself?

Biology.  Psychology.  Socially.

How does it influence the way you befriend yourself?

How might this influence stigma surrounding emotional illness?

Emotions are just one of the many things that make us who we are.  Many many things.  As we tease these bits of ourselves apart, it is not the same as denying the multi-paradigm weave that makes us who we are.

Self-Care Tip – Enjoy your emotions but don’t put your life on them.

Safety in Connections With Others

Nami 01

Marcy came in looking like a question mark.  Despite her gorgeous face and swank, she still looked uncertain.

Marcy was born into chaos.  Get this.  Her father who spent her whole childhood using drugs, alcohol and strange women, who was emotionally and mentally absent most of her life, who is possibly still using, is the one person in the whole world Marcy calls her confidante.  “He gets me.  I can really talk to him.  Even my husband doesn’t understand me like he does, you know, emotions.”

Marcy, despite years of fear, panic attacks, the survivor of abuse and neglect was clinging to her dad.

Marcy was lost in the headlights of the oncoming life.  She thought after having spent her entire life afraid, it was time to heal so she though she’d give medication therapy “a try.”

After initiating medications for Marcy’s post-traumatic stress disorder and after her panic-attacks stopped, Marcy started attending NAMI.  What a believer in NAMI she became!

They just make it easy for me to talk about myself, say things I can’t even tell my husband, and they know what I’m going through.

Listening to her talk about them was letting fresh air into our room.  Hope floated in.  Now Marci doesn’t believe that her dad is the only one in the world she can connect with at this level.  Now Marci does not feel as alone.  Why?  Because she went and got connected.  She whacked through the briar hedge of misperceptions, biases and insecurities between her and others.

Marci still thinks largely of her father, but he’s not the only one.  He has some competition to the throne which means, Marci has a better chance of being influenced by someone healthier.  Rather than attack Marci’s attachment with her Father, NAMI is giving her more to fill her heart with.

Self-Care Tip #285 – Find safety in healthy connections with others.

Questions:  When have the connections in your life saved you from warped views?  How do you think we could do better with this?  Please tell me your story.

Grief Can Be Treasured At The Same Time That We Celebrate Life

Self-Care Tip #283 – Find the treasure in your grief while celebrating life.

Today is my daughter’s sixth birthday.  If ever there was a person who doubled the love she received, it is this chid.  She is all passion.  Yes, both ways, but that isn’t to judge.  Just, there is so little I can offer in words to describe her power of self.

They're asleep!

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Tonight, we pushed two twin beds together so she and I could sleep beside each other.  Her sister slept nearby on another twin bed.  Her brother set his bed up in the closet.  (I know.)

If I wasn’t so tired, old and broke, I might be made vulnerable by times like this to having more kids.  Since that’s not going to change, these chubs are what we will stick with.  Happily.

My mind is turned toward God by this girl.  I somehow arrive in the moment praying when with her, perhaps for strength and patience or for humility and gratitude.  I learn from her.

Mommy, when I’m scared I talk to Jesus.

Often in times like this, I think of my niece, dead now six years, and how her parents and we wanted what was, what was stripped.  Still grieving and still living the life with us and in us, our braided thoughts and emotions easily lose their flow.

But today I have this clarity.  My niece is gone now six years and ten days.  Today my daughter is six years old.  Today I am sleeping with my three children.  Today I know that this is precious but this is not all we want.  We want what comes after our living years.  We want to let loose to Love the grief and the life; to untangle.  Not more.  Not less.  But we want.  We want what we have, now, although still in the unknown dimension of our forever.

In psychiatry, we are alert to grief that warps the ability to engage in life.  Grief that mars the connections of survivors.  Grief that becomes pathology, brain disease and a medical condition.  This grief disables and, for example, in the case of my daughter’s birthday today, would dissolve my ability to feel pleasure.

It is difficult to gain access to treatment as many of these survivors have ill opinions about medical care.  Such as; fearing medications will mute their connection with the deceased; mute their grief, or in other words, tribute/offering to the deceased; take away the personal punishment for surviving…

Questions:

  • What do you say to these weeping lives?  How can we de-stigmatize medical care for them?
  • How have you been able to treasure your grief and the life with you and in you?

A Testimony of “Being A Friend To Yourself,” From Bipo Blogger

You might recognize these five questions from yesterday’s blog-post.  Thank you for your testimonies.  Is there anything more powerful than hearing someone’s personal story?  I think not!  Here is what Bipoblogger has to say.

Q1:  What does being a friend to yourself mean to you in real-time life practice?

A1:  That’s easy, but not so easy, LOL!  Being “a friend to yourself” means that I acknowledge I need to respect myself, just like I do other people.  It means not sabotaging my self, plans, job, relationships, etc.  I love myself enough to not kick myself when I am down. 

Being bipolar can be so detrimental to my being, but just like normal people, I still have the need to …allow for room and time to grieve about whatever horrible circumstances (were) caused (by) the bipolar disorder.  

…Stop every once in a while to acknowledge my accomplishments and own that.

Q2:  What helps you do this one time vs. another?

A2:  Yes, I have found that BPD is in part an anger disorder and knowing the true source of the anger can help me go forward.

I have chosen to no longer hurt myself cause when I do, and anyone else, I build up layers of hurt and it hurts to start to take the layers off when I’m ready, so why even do it? …

Also it helped me so much to learn that God doesn’t deal with me the way I deal with myself or another.  I’m not a fanatic, but I just believe in what makes sense.

Q3:  What still hinders your efforts?

A3:  Wanting to be better than I already am.  Not accepting that the balance I have is better than having less or no balance at all, …(which means various kinds of) risky behavior.

Q4:  What has pushed you past those barriers?

A4:  Really just forgiving myself for how I was affected by BPD and remembering that I am breakable and valid as a human, just like all of us.  If I keep practicing a constructive way of life, I will be okay, and that has been true for the last 3 years.

Last push.

Q5:  How do you understand the interplay between biology and choice in being “a friend to yourself?”

A5:  I was created with the choice to choose how I live my life and I do, BPD or none.  Natural inclination is to do the wrong thing because I am imperfect.  I seek power, fame, notoriety and in someway someone, including myself is gonna get hurt in the process.  …People without mental deficiencies don’t experience or don’t carry out to this degree.  So in short, biologically the deficient brain makes more extreme choices, overly withdrawn or overly outward and destructive.

Whoa, I smell smoke.  I never think that hard.  LOL.

Questions for you:  

  1. Anything you’d like to share with Bipo Blogger? 
  2. If you had a blank page for this, what would your own questions be?  What would you answer?  

Mental Illness Relapses When Medications Are Stopped

Free face of a child with eyes closed meditati...

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #246 – Collaborate with your physician to change your medications.

It keeps happening.  People are stopping their medications and then getting more sick.  Recently it was Olivia.  I can always tell when she’s off medications – she personalizes things way more and she acts like a victim to many many random things.  She is irritable.

Olivia, did you stop your meds?

Olivia on medication was not a super easy-going person but she dropped much of the edge, her thoughts were clearer and she was able to see other people around her.  Today Olivia felt like her bullets were in place and about to fire.  She answered my question obliquely.

There are sooo many reasons I am better without those in me!   I used to not be able to feel God.  When I prayed, I didn’t sense His Spirit.  Besides, I’m doing fine.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  I’m happy!

The biggest bummer about getting into the scene after the medications were stopped verses before, when stopping them was just a consideration – is that the patient doesn’t see themselves clearly.  They don’t see how bad it’s gotten.  They can’t be objective largely because they are using the same organ that is ill to describe itself.  If I could have discussed it with her before she stopped her medication, she would have been in a healthier state and more able to weigh her risks and benefits of medication verses no medication.

Sometimes we do agree together, patient and physician, to stop medications and sometimes we don’t.  Doing it together is the key though.

Questions:  How do you work with someone who wants to come off their medication?  How about yourself?  Has this ever been a problem for you and if so, how did you deal with it?  Please tell me your story.