What are you Living for? Answer to Mental illness in this Revolution.

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“Latest Banksy Graffiti”

Why do you get out of bed every morning? To go to work? You think, “Life is about working and then someday I’ll die.” Are you living to go to school? Perhaps a student for life, the best is to gather and gather. A klepto of information.  Maybe you live, instead, to stay home and not leave. That can be worth it. Leaving home feels like going to one’s death for many, in fact, with anxiety.

Is what you are living for, worth “living for?” Why didn’t you kill yourself last night? I’m not asking for “13 Reasons” or glamorizing suicide in any way, like it is, unfortunately, being done in the media these days. I’m just asking. (Straight face. Eye contact.) Why?

Suicide is increasing, this year up by ~30%. It’s sad but I’ve heard the ignorant say, “When our world is being overrun by humans, this is just one more way to improve population management.” Why anyone would say that, let alone to a psychiatrist, speaks toward the unfortunate person saying it more than anything. Even so, these are the people that contribute to our cultural stigma and sentiment, like the wrong colloid for growth. This stigma is best diminished by peer-to-peer influence. Your voice; you speaking up is the painting over the foul-language graffiti. You speaking of your own journey with suicidality or any related diseases changes the ignorance into empathic knowledge. 

We are in the mental health equivalent to the industrial revolution. Fortune. We are wealthy in mental health treatment options. Bling! Bling! It wasn’t too long ago when we were trusting depression medical therapies to crude agents bulky, and bluntly stunning our neuroreceptors. These were a big stick coming down on a flower.

Think of the cart and horse transforming into the automobile; course into sleek and refined; slowly moving and grossly impacting changes, contemporarily working rather as specific rapid responses. Now remember your parent, or mine, who never had the opportunity to receive a treatment that would work in a matter of weeks, and without turning her/him into a zombie-blimp.

A child stands there going through his own vasovagal experience, scared and confused while watching his favorite person in the whole world performing like a broken toy. The child tries to make sense and restabilize their once clarified existence. The parent goes through this at first for about six months and then somehow “gets better.” Was it the prayer that worked? Was Momma finally able to “pull through it?” Was it because the child’s behavior finally became “good enough” to please God who then condescended to make his momma better? Momma does well for another 2 years. She’s connected. She’s filled with purpose. The memory turns into something like, “Boston’s worst winter in fourteen years;” briefly print-worthy and then thankfully, not much more.

Then momma is again dark, hopeless and staying in bed whenever she can. The child, Teddy, is now a preteen of ten. This comes back, like finding another letter from his cheating dad’s girlfriend under a magazine in the back of the closet where his golf clubs are. And instead of six months, Momma’s change lasts about two years. (Can we even call it a “change” when it lasts two years?)

The amorphic improvement comes again though, like a miracle, but who can trust it. Miracles aren’t gotten in vending machines after all. We can’t buy them with a paycheck.

Sadly, as Teddy feared, another some many months later, Momma drops again. This time she plummets rather than drops, into a drunken, more terrible condition. For longer, and the boy is now a teen. He at first appears more calloused. Yet, if questioned, he will show his grief and bewildered young self, just there behind a gentle touch, or a cluster of inquiring kind words. He loves her well. Why can’t she love him? Moms who love their kids will get up in the morning. They’ll shower and they’ll talk. They don’t write suicide notes or leave their son’s to find them half conscious when they get home from school. Not mom’s who love their kids.

Our moms, yours and mine in the seventies, didn’t have the privilege of taking treatments that worked or worked well, and rapidly. We are so blessed. How to grasp the immense difference in our Age; this Age of mental health revolution.

Now a little boy sees this change in his favorite person in the world. She is fortunate enough to receive medical treatment, and within weeks is “back to myself again.” This little family escaped years of decomposition by the ravaging damages from brain illness. 

My grandma, Elsie Louise, (isn’t that a great name!), was washing her laundry in a new machine that decreased her labor by many hours. One day, when she was daydreaming about her young handsome husband, or maybe it was the chicken she lost to the fox, when she screamed, jerking out from a terrible pain in her hand. Her fourth finger was gone. She lost it, pulled off by the twisting force of the machine’s internal grips.

Now we place our laundry in a closed lidded box we just walk away from. We don’t even think about the appendages we are allowed to retain. We don’t imagine the privilege. 

In psychiatry, it is like this. The treatments we had generations past were better than none. But, enter now into 2018, and we don’t realize how good we have it. We forgot most of the print-worthy stories back then. Not to use the treatments from this revolution, is going back to the darker ages of medicine. The treatments save lives. They bless. They make us rich in life. Bling! Bling! Look at your wealthy character. Healthy.

Why are you still alive? Whatever you answer, fight for that. Take advantage of the mental health revolution and live well.

Questions: What are some stories of those you have loved who missed out on mental health treatment? What are some stories of those who did not? Where is the difference?

Self-care tip: Speak! We need to hear you. You are painting over the foul-language graffiti of ignorance!

Keep on!

Dead kids and Mother’s Day 


To all the surviving mothers who celebrated this recent Mother’s Day without their children, lost to mental illness, we dedicate this post.  To the mom’s who have outlived their babies. To the mothers who have watched their boys and girls deteriorate slowly with piece meal pincing bites that brain illness has taken from them until they were gone. To the mommy’s of those who left them fast, at the end of a rope, under a car, at the point of a needle, or in the many bits of brain that a gun blows apart. 

I’m dedicating this post to the mothers who continue to live. Who remember more than the moment of their child’s death. Who celebrated on Mother’s Day the individual of her child that was more than his or her behaviors and emotions. 

This post is for the mothers who remain for us, we who need them still. We need you. Thank you for telling us your story and living with us, among us. For fighting for brain health, for freedom, we thank you. 

To the mothers who survive(d) the death of their children to mental illness, happy belated Mother’s Day. You are amazing to us. 

Today’s question is more of a request: Tell us your story please. 

Or, those of you who know these courageous women, and want to share, please do. We are listening. 

Self care tip: You tell me. How do you (they) do it?

Keep on. 

Bilbo and Me, trying to get to the Smoky Mountain

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Imagine, a young father playing basketball with his buddies on a Sunday in the gym, joking around, slapping each others butts, (because, help us, that’s what they do!) Sweat is rolling down his face. Call him Jake. He’s heavier after three kids, but he’s trying to lose the baby weight. His wife has to wear earplugs to sleep, he sounds so loud in their bed. Jake has been playing hard for about thirty minutes. He’s feeling good. He never lost his touch. He’s with his same buddies from high school. They stay in contact. They’ve got each other’s backs. They’re running down the court. He’s guarding Tom and everyone’s diverted, running, heaving and breathing hard. Tom makes the shot and they’re all slapping each other’s butts. They are throwing the ball back into play and someone laughs at Jake. “Hey Jake! Get up!”

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a leading cause of early heart attack.

I wrote this out in what may seem almost tasteless detail only because this is how it happens. I wish it didn’t and I want it to stop. It is as horrible as you imagine. Jake dies. His wife and gorgeous kids are left to live life without his laughter and counsel and noisy snoring that his wife would do anything to have again. Jake’s community is man-down. Obstructive sleep apnea is a deadly sleep disorder.

CPAP is 99% effective when used to treat OSA. It works. It is just not always the easiest treatment to tolerate for many reasons. But it is worth fighting for. The fight for CPAP might look something like multiple visits to your primary care practitioner to get that referral to go through to your sleep lab. A referral is made, and silence, then made again, silence, then finally by the third or fifth try, it goes through. Or multiple visits to your sleep specialist, exchanging one sleep mask after another and then another until you finally find one that keeps a good seal on your face through the night. There are truly a mountain of barriers to compliance that you will trek across, more barriers than Bilbo encountered heading toward Smaug, and you’ll need as much courage.

Keep on!

Questions: To start with, how is your breathing, or your loved one’s? Did you know that you might have to walk such a circuitous trail toward being your own friend? Who else will do this for you?

Self-Care Tip: When you are deflected, when you get stuck in the moment of loss, pull back into the big picture. You are your own friend and it starts with Me.

“I’m Making You My Business!”

“I’m Making You My Business!”

It is pervasive.barriers

We talk about salvation as if it is an event, a diploma, a point in time, something with a frame and boundaries and a rejection of everything else about us.  Salvation is not this.  Salvation is pervasive.

Same with carrying your cross, going out into the world, and so forth.  Salvation and all these life axioms are in the divorce we are suffering, the depression, the trouble with sleep, the courage we demonstrate going into public, the fear we succumb to, the freedom we give up to anxiety – this is all about salvation.  This is what going into the world means.  It’s not one or the other.

When we say, the world will fall away, it is saying that there are no dividers any more.  If you’ve ever heard the term, the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make her a friend, this is the same idea.  God who is and who is personal takes away the dividers and makes us Her business.

God who is and who is personal is important for self care because She is all about Me.

Self-care tip:  Let the barriers go and accept the presence of Love.

Question:  Does God improve your self care?  Do you see dividers between your personal stuff and what is, who is, God?  How does that serve you, Me?

Keep on people of courage!

Caregiving and Selfcare

Fallen_tree2Being a caregiver is, well, …giving!  There is a need.  We respond to the need.  We give.  There is taking from what we give.

When we talk about this, some of us hear the tap, tap of a bookkeeper balancing ins-and-outs.  Tap, tap, take, take.  We feel dangerously close to objectifying what is Magical.  Objectifying what we get from giving loses at this point in our thoughts the bigger circle of love that motivates us.  Let’s acknowledge and respect that.  The bigger reasons are so worth aspiring to and treasuring.  You who believe in what is more than the numbers of our motives and behaviors, please continue to nurture us with this wisdom.  Be patient as we wander in the corners and cracks and in the places we don’t understand so well.

The point of giving, others pursuing the caregiver’s story later respond, is what we receive.  The love, the satisfaction of observing what our efforts contributed to in another’s rescue.  Perhaps, knowing we participated in saving a life.

Am I a caregiver?  Are you?  Well, maybe we think we are excluded from this category because we don’t liaison between one suffering life-being with the world around.  But are!  We all are caregivers by the definition of what is means to be living.  Living is connection.  We, each of us, are connected to the Universe and the different points from there to here where we stand.  Connection is inherent to living.  To live is to be connected.  To disconnect is to die.

This is somewhere along the philosophical thought experiment of, “If a tree falls and no one hears it, does it exist?”  I am told by those who might be wiser that it does not.  I don’t get it and what does that say about me? 😉

Observation vs. reality.

Connection is like that.  It is not perceived sometimes, and sometimes it is perceived.  This is important to Me.  To the part of each of us that is more than our senses.  More than Time and the condition of our health.  More than brain illness.  This is important to caregiving because by increasing our self-awareness of our role in connection, and thereby caregiving, we have an opportunity to increase our ability to combine the Magic of it with the “accounting ins-and-outs.”  Thereafter, we are lead to increase our transparency to others, increase our connectivity and increase our experience in Life Quality.

Magic is compatible with that which is known.  More even, they are not divided, whether we know it or not.  Magic and that which is known, just are.  We are arrogant people any way we turn the talk, of course.  None of us without agenda.  None of us without projectile pride.  But despite this, we have Grace and whether we hear the tree or not, Magic and knowledge have made allowance for us.

Caregiving comes with connection.  We give, we receive, and we do it with agendas.  Increasing our self-awareness through the process, although it feels at times like ringing out a cash register, and feels soiled by the sound of that which taking brings, – self-awareness of our agendas brings more freedom.  We are more free to give by choice rather than martyrdom.  We give without perceiving ourselves the victim to those to whom we give.  We are more free to give to our other agendas.  We are more free to consider our own needs as needs-of-value from one who is also Loved and valued, Me.

Question:  Might increasing our consideration of our “Me” increase our giving well to others?

Do you consider yourself a caregiver?  How so?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Give well to yourself to give well to others.  Keep on.

Tower-of-Babel Syndrome

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From time to time, I hear complaints that someone’s brain illness got better with medications and/or ECT, but just came back when they stopped. This almost always happens when a patient never transitioned to maintenance ECT and/or medication therapy.

I dub this, the Tower-of-Babel Syndrome.  We all suffer from it at some point in life, trying to be like God.  Or maybe a lesser god?  During this Tower-of-Babel Syndrome, after we have paid the price, after we have complied with the many hard tasks, after we have built ourselves up into something glorious, we are cured from illness. Right? Once we stop perceiving it, illness that is, we are closer to God, more like Him/Her, perhaps more perfect, when we feel better and do not need medical care. Little gusts of wind are all it takes to fill our wings and off we go, living life free from disease laden earth.

But this is a mistaken expression of freedom.

The number one reason for relapse is…? You remember.  Treatment noncompliance. Is relapse most often due to life stressors? There are so many. No. All those reasons for why we think we feel what we feel and do what we do, all those forces acting on us from the outside in, they are not the reasons we relapse most often.

There is something like a super-bug growing amongst us who engage in treatment on and off. We do it four or five months out of seven. We skip here and there and do not “over-react” if we do. “They don’t control me, after-all.” We apperceive the situation. We think we, by not being consistent with medical treatment, demonstrate our freedom. We are free when we engage in medical treatment or when we do not. We are free because we are human.

The super-bug in brain illness is a progression of disease process heightened and sharpened by treatment noncompliance. A growing resistance to treatment and an acceleration of our falls, how long it takes for us to drop into a relapse and how hard and far we fall.

Let us work together to take away barriers to consistent treatment.  You may laugh when you hear about the Tower of Babel.  You can laugh.  A bonus.

The Tower-of-Babel Syndrome is familiar to those of us who stop any variety of medical treatments on our own, excluding our treatment team members, (such as our physician, Wink! Wink!) in our decision to end treatment.

By stopping medical treatment, many of us have this sense of eliminating the reason we started in the first place.  Take treatment.  Disease continues.  Stop treatment.  We are superior.

When my son was about one year old, he learned that if he turned his head away from you, it was as good as denying your existence.  Turn.  You are gone.  Turn back.  You reappear.  Turn.  And just like that, you have been eliminated.  Even now, remembering it delights me.

Not so cute however, is disease relapse.  Maintenance ECT and/or medication therapy has a protective effect on the brain, prophylactic against further insult. It does not increase the distance between Me and God.  It does not increase a mislabeled dependency on treatment.  Maintenance therapy is part of our life journey.  It is part of our ability to be present with ourselves.  It is friendly.

Questions:  What keeps you in treatment?  Do you feel more diseased when taking maintenance therapy?  How do you manage that?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Stay in maintenance therapy.

Say It Out Loud. Three Day Challenge.

Hello friends. Please join us at Friend to Yourself in a three day, “Say it Out Loud,” challenge.

Throughout the next three days, whenever you think of something you like & are grateful for about yourself, say it out loud to us.

I’ll start! 😉

I like my body.

Say It Out Loud.

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