Don’t ever feel alone with bipolar disorder…

Do you ever feel all alone with your bipolar disorder? That there is no one out there who could possibly understand the great heights we reach, just as we must hit the pits of despair as well.

I know everyone suffers bipolar disorder differently, but here are a few of my favorite people who I’m proud to stand and be counted with.
Beethoven anyone? Demi Lovato, (possibly) Brittany Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Carrie Fisher, Sinead O’Connor, Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Linda Hamilton, and Vivien Leigh.

Best known of these is probably Carrie Fisher, she’s certainly been one of the most outspoken actresses about her disorder. Here’s a little bio on her:
Carrie Fisher, actress, 54, best known for her role as Princess Leia in theStar Wars trilogy, has experienced plenty of turbulence in her life—and not just aboard the Millennium Falcon. After years of struggling with mania and depression, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 28.
Fisher told USA Today in 2002 that she now leads a normal life and her behavior is much more predictable, thanks to the lithium prescribed by her doctor. But it wasn’t always so easy. “I hacked off my hair, got a tattoo, and wanted to convert to Judaism,” she said of her most recent manic episode.

Ah, the readers, the writers, the dreamers and me…here a few other bios just in case you needed more enlightenment on why you are amazing for just being you. Starting with a Emily Dickinson and ending with Vivien Leigh, just a few amazing people with bipolar disorder. I’ll try to do another one of there as interest shows what’s read and what’s not 🙂

Emily Dickinson

This introverted poet’s work is often dark and gloomy. While it is impossible to know for sure if her mental illness would have been classified as bipolar disorder today, a 2001 study in theAmerican Journal of Psychiatry that examined cycles in Dickinson’s productivity suggests that may be the case.
Dickinson’s doctor diagnosed her with “nervous prostration,” which, according to the study’s author, psychiatrist John F. McDermott, MD, was “characterized by anxiety and depression.” In Dickinson’s time, physicians had not yet identified bipolar disorder as such, but, Dr. McDermott notes, Dickinson’s writing patterns are “not inconsistent” with the symptom profile of the disorder.

Linda Hamilton

Actress Linda Hamilton is best known for her role as Sarah Connor in Terminatorand Terminator 2: Judgment Day. She also starred in the TV series Beauty and the Beast. Despite her professional success, though, she was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and her mood swings damaged two marriages. Hamilton struggled with symptoms of bipolar disorder for 20 years, a time she calls the lost years, before overcoming it. Though she initially worried that treatment would diminish her talents, she is now on medication and speaks openly about being bipolar. “Somebody needs to come out and make this okay for people to talk about and get help and take advantage of the resources,” she told the Associated Press.

Virginia WoolfThe dark diaries and letters of Woolf, who suffered four major breakdowns before drowning herself at age 59, have convinced numerous scholars that the writer must have had manic-depressive illness. According to a 2004 article by psychologist Katherine Dalsimer, the “mood swings from severe depression to manic excitement and episodes of psychosis” that Woolf experienced would be diagnosed as bipolar today.

Vivien Leigh

Best known for her iconic Oscar-winning role as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh also captured the public’s attention with her marriage to fellow actor Laurence Olivier. However, Leigh was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and her unpredictable behavior eventually ruined her professional reputation and destroyed her marriage to Olivier. “In her day there were no pills, there were no clinics, there were no publicists, there was nobody between Vivien and an outside world which she found chilly, hostile, and sometimes, because of her mental state, could not cope with,” said her friend Sheridan Morley in a BBC documentary.
Feel better? Invincible? Unbreakable? Well you should be feeling that way. Look at what just a few of have done. This handful of names has changed histories! No other group of people with the common theme between them being their diagnosis has this. We are amazing. You. Are. Amazing.Now go out there and change the world. I know I’m trying to.



Day 27: How am I feeling?

I’ve seriously been neglecting my blog. 31 blogs in 31 days was a pretty epic fail. Maybe it’s because I’m scared of success or of achieving anything, so I doom myself to failure, all the time. But that’s another story, another time.

How am I feeling? Why is that such a hard question to answer? Can’t normal people do a quick assessment and just know? Why don’t I know? Why do I dig and dig and dig, but still aren’t sure about my emotions? Why are they so stifled? I know I’ve written about this before, but it bears a repeat because it’s actually really important to me. I want to feel.

I can feel negative emotions and recognize them fairly easily, but positive emotions are a lot harder to get to. I can’t associate anything with them. I was talking to Josh today about how I had a lot less issues when we first got together, and he told me that wasn’t true, I just wasn’t as aware of them. I’ve never thought of it that way before. I know I’m a lot more reserved now, to the point of standoffishness, but I thought I was happy back then. Josh says it was a false happiness, more of a deluded happiness. It makes sense, in a way. And maybe what I’m going through now is normal. I mean, I was on a manic high for years, maybe I’m just going to be in a more depressed state for years too.

It’s all so foggy though. Why is my life so hard to remember? Why are the memories so elusive, so dim? My short-term memory is pretty good, but long term…that’s shot.

This is quickly turning into quite the confusing post, and just when I thought I had this writing thing down. Well, I can’t help I’m in all sorts of a mixed emotional state tonight, lol. I’m pondering a lot of deep things, and they just trigger more questions than answers. Which I then type out as they come to mind. I’m slow going on the keyboard tonight, usually the words just flow naturally through my fingers, and I can type a post pretty quickly, but tonight I’m struggling for each sentence.

It could be exhaustion. I am pretty tired. We visited my sister-in-law last night, and didn’t get home until around 2 AM. And then I couldn’t get to sleep until around 4. I’m definitely going to bed much earlier tonight. Then maybe I’ll be able to write more coherently tomorrow. Maybe sleeping will be easier now that I’ve vented about not feeling things normally again. It’s been rough the last few nights, even with the Seroquel. Which I certainly didn’t take last nite, I’d never have gotten up this morning otherwise.

So right now, I’m feeling tired. And spent. But not irritated. And not depressed. I had a pretty good day for the most part, I did some shopping, watched Dark Knight Rises, took the oldest to the park, and saw Iron Man 3, again. Robert Downey Jr. always cheers me up. Has anyone else ever wondered if he was possibly bipolar? Not that I’d wish this on anyone, but I’d love it if he were. At least, if he’d come out in the open with it and embrace it as part of himself. Or maybe it’s just the characters he likes to play, who knows? I watch him act, and watch the characters he plays, and I always wonder. I mean, watch him in Sherlock Holmes, or in Iron Man, doesn’t he seem to be running totally manic? I love his portrayal of the craziness we feel inside. At least he’s not making people with mental illness look like gun slinging psychopaths. You know, like the news seems to want to portray us.  But I’m definitely digressing here.

I’m going back to how I’m feeling. I’m feeling good I think. I’ll take that for the time being and just accept and embrace the positive emotion.

Day 18: Thankful Thursday! (again, it happens every week :D)

We all know it’s my favorite day…thankful Thursday!

So what am I thankful for today? Today I’m thankful for NAMI. What is NAMI you ask? That’s a great question.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the offer so many wonderful things. They offer support groups not only for individuals with mental disorders, but also for family members of those with mental illness. They also offer classes for both the mentally ill, and family members. In fact, I’m a certified BRIDGES instructor, meaning I can teach a class about mental illness to other people with mental illnesses. I teach about conflict resolution, medications, the types of mental disorders, being active in your treatment plan, how to explain things to your family, all sorts of fun stuff. There is another class for families, called Family to Family, that teaches family members about mental illnesses, what to look for, and how to support their loved ones with the disorder. There’s even a class called Basics, which is for parents of teens and children who have a mental disorder. The support groups they have are wonderful, here in Utah, we have support groups that meet twice a month, as well as board meetings, and presenters once a month.

I love being involved with NAMI. The support I have received, and the friends I have made habe been such a blessing in my life. If you’d like to find your local NAMI chapter, here is the link for that. The actual NAMI website is here.

Please check them out, support their cause, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Have you heard of NAMI? Did you know about all the amazing things they offer? Is there anything I didn’t mention that I should have? Tell me in the comments below!

Day 14: What Are the Signs of Emotional Abuse?

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, and today I was struggling for a quick and easy blog topic, and Psych Central had an article about emotional abuse that was perfect. Yay!
Did you know emotional abuse is much more elusive than physical abuse and sexual abuse? That the people suffering from it may not even know that’s what it is, and more surprisingly, the abusers may not even realize what they’re doing is considered abuse! Although some people may not realize this, (I happen to know first hand), emotional abuse can be more detrimental to a person than even physical abuse because it alters how we feel about ourselves. It truly cripples us because we allow something untrue to define who we are and thus act according to that false assumption. 
How can you tell if you are a victim or perpetrator of emotional abuse? Here are several good questions you can ask yourself to see where you fall.
In the area of humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing do you:
  •  Do you get put down in front of others or made fun of?
  • Is sarcasm a way to put you down or degrade you?
  • When you try to stand up for yourself, do they say ‘Oh I was just joking around.’ or that ‘you’re just too sensitive’?
  • Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?”
  • Are you regularly made to feel devalued by people ridiculing you, disregarding your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, or even your feelings?

  • Or how about in the area of domination, control, and shame, do you find that:

    • Do you feel treated like a child?
    • Are you constantly corrected or chastised because your behavior is “inappropriate?”
    • Must you “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions?
    • Who controls your spending; you or them?
    • Are you treated as though you are inferior to them?
    • Do they make you feel as though you’re never right?
    • Are you constantly reminded your shortcomings?
    • What about minimizing your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are?
    • Do you receive disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior from them?
    What about accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings, are you the subject of any of these, or guilty of any?

    • Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true?
    • Are they unable to laugh at themselves?
    • Are they extremely sensitive when it comes to others making fun of them or making any kind of comment that seems to show a lack of respect?
    • Do they have trouble apologizing?
    • Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes?
    • Do they call you names or label you?
    • Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?
    • Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests?
    Or how about emotional distancing and the “silent treatment,” isolation, emotional abandonment or neglect?

    • Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?
    • Do they not want to meet the basic needs or use neglect or abandonment as punishment?
    • Do they play the victim to deflect blame onto you instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes?
    • Do they not notice or care how you feel?
    • Do they not show empathy or ask questions to gather information?
    And finally, what about codependence and enmeshment?

    • Does anyone treat you not as a separate person but instead as an extension of themselves?
    • Do they not protect your personal boundaries and share information that you have not approved?
    • Do they disrespect your requests and do what they think is best for you?
    • Do they require continual contact and haven’t developed a healthy support network among their own peers?

    If you read this and answered yes to more than a few questions, you may have some very toxic people in your life. These people won’t help elevate you to where you deserve to be in life, and you need to start taking steps to remove them from your life. If you asked these questions to yourself and found that you felt you were treating someone else this way, it’s time to stop. Apologize to them ASAP, and start making the necessary changes to become a better person who people would want to have as a friend.

    This struck a chord with me because I answered yes to more than a few of these questions when I thought about certain people in my life. I’m now at a cross point in my life where I have to decide whether I want to approach this subject with those people in my life, or just start letting them phase out of my life. I’m proud of myself for being able to take an honest look at my life and see where the toxicity is coming from, but seeing it is one thing, actually doing  something is totally different. Let’s see how well my venture into improving this aspect of my life goes.

    How about you? What happened when you read over these questions? Was there anyone in your life that you specifically thought of as you read through these? Did you feel that maybe you were guilty of some of these traits? As always, let me know in the comments below!

    Day 13: So how do these schema things operate?

    We’ve discussed all 18 schemas, well, all except two, which I promise I will eventually write about, but today I want to talk about the most important thing of all…once you know what your schemas are…how do you go about changing them?

    First off, you need to know that there are two primary schema operations: schema healing, and schema perpetuation. I bet you can guess which one is the more valuable one, right? All thoughts, behaviors, and feelings may be seen as being part of one of these operations.

    Schema perpetuation is the routine processes in which schemas function and perpetuate themselves. This is accomplished by cognitive distortions, self defeating patterns, and schema coping styles. Cognitive distortions are a central part of cognitive therapy and consist of negative interpretations and predictions of life events. The schema will highlight or exaggerate information that confirms the validity of that schema and will minimize of even deny information that contradicts it. Unhealthy behavior patterns will perpetuate the schemas existence. Just as an example, a person with the Mistrust/Abuse schema may seek out abusive relationships in adulthood and remain in them, providing constant evidence that this schema is true. I can attest to this, I seemed to subconsciously pick out douche-bag after douche-bag to date during my twenties. Even Josh wasn’t the sweetheart he is now when we first met. I just thought I deserved to be treated with disrespect and no appreciation because I was a worthless person. Now that I’ve grown and worked through my insecurities, I can see that I deserve so much better, and I have higher standards for my relationships nowadays. This goes for all my relationships with people, seeing as I’m involved in only one romantic relationship, lol.

    So, in order to fully understand how schemas work, we need to recognize that there are three schema coping styles that are out there. These styles are schema surrender, schema avoidance, and schema overcompensation. It is through these three styles that schemas exert their influence on our behavior and work to ensure their own survival. We’ll go into deeper detail about these types of coping skills in future blog posts.

    So now. Schema therapy. When treating people with schema therapy, one of the most important innovations is the concept of mode. I’ll define a mode as the set of schemas or schema operations that are currently active for an individual Or you could think of it as simply a mindset or state that you might be temporarily in. I’m sure you can relate to the idea that we all have different parts of ourselves that we go in and out of all the time. Just as an example, if someone tells she is having a bad day because her toddler is in his raging bull mode, you’d probably know exactly what she meant.

    The exact pattern of work with modes will vary from session to session in therapy. Nut some of the more common activities in mode work can be described. The history of the mode is often discussed; the person will speak about when the mode started and what was going on at the time. Connections are made between modes and current problems. Dialogues can be conducted between different modes when there is a conflict. Just as an example, a miser mode and a playboy mode might have it out over what type of car to buy. There is always an effort to link the mode work with other aspects of the therapy.

    So what do you think of all this? Does it sound like it’s just mumbo-jumbo new age hippy therapy, or does it have the ring of truth in it? Are you more or less interested in discovering what your modes are, and how you can work through them in therapy? Do you have family members or friends who you recognize some of these schemas in, and does it make you more or less empathetic towards them? Feel free to let me know below in the comments! Also, please, give me your opinion on this topic of how schemas work and how modes tie into schema therapy.