My Story’s the Opposite of EVERYTHING We’ve Been Taught About Mental Illness

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

One year, six months and eight days ago I was in the worst state I have ever been in during my over twenty-seven years of living with mental illness. I was severely suicidal and had been for many days and months in a row and was experiencing an elated mania mixed episode.

One year, six months and eight days ago I attempted suicide and thought I was leaving earth forever. I strongly wanted to and was ready. I faced the reality of what death meant and I was there…

Those were scary and heartbreaking words to write especially because…

today I am beyond blessed to be alive and I feel better and happier than I ever have in my life. I feel inner joy, a peaceful spirit and a mental wellness I don’t think I ever felt before…

My suicide attempt was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to go off Klonopin, a Benzodiazepine, the only psychotropic medication I was on at them time. Because I overdosed on Benzos (as well as other psychotropics I had saved and stored in my home for years), the psychiatrists in the hospital would not give me anymore Benzodiazepines while I was in the hospital. And after staying in the hospital for two weeks and beginning the severe horrible hell of Klonopin withdrawal syndrome, I knew I would never take another Benzo again.

After I was forced to stop taking the Benodiazepine, Klonopin, I never looked back.

After surviving the severe beyond painful and debilitating neurological like impairments for over two months from the withdrawals from Klonopin after over two decades of their use, overuse and abuse, I am mentally well. I made it.

After the damage caused from taking Klonopin and the many other combinations and cocktails of Psychotropic medications and after having over a hundred ECTs over a twenty-five year period, my brain continues to improve and rejuvenate every day. I keep improving both physically and mentally even at my ripe old age of 56. My arthritis is even improving. It is uncanny and unbelievably amazing.

This is great news and I thought everyone would be happy to hear it and receive the inspiration of hope from my story.

However, my words now are sometimes more difficult to share with the mental illness community than when I shared my thoughts and feelings of the pain from being suicidal. I am happy I could do that then to help others, plus writing about my pain was very therapeutic for me.

Maybe more people could relate to my posts about heartache, loss, pain and despair because that was what they were going through, as well. Maybe it is harder to hear the blessings of wellness because it doesn’t seem possible to them. Recovery and happiness seem so far away and out of reach many people don’t think it could happen to them.

I must reiterate a million times that recovery is possible and is in everyone’s reach. Some people must stretch further than others. But recovery and happiness are possible for everyone.  Keep going. Keep reaching for that first grasp of success and recovery. You can do it. Once you grab on to recovery never let go.

For years, we have been taught that mental illness means:

  1. Continued struggles and ups and downs with recovery.
  2. Mental illness diagnoses are forever.
  3. You will need to be on various psychotropic medications for the rest of your lives.
  4. Mental illness is a life sentence.
  5. You will never be normal.
  6. We can get you to live a functional life. Ugh.
  7. You must accept your diagnosis and use of medications as the first step in recovery or you will never achieve it.
  8. You must accept that this will be a lifelong battle.
  9. You must lean how to deal with the knowledge of this permanent life sentence before your journey of recovery can begin.

At lease those were some of the things I was told. Yikes. No wonder so many people struggling with mental illness attempt or die by suicide… There is not enough hope and sometimes there is no hope…

We must have hope for survival, recovery and wellness.

I want to help inspire that hope.

At first, I was so excited to share what I had learned and the positive experiences that happened to me. I thought people would be happy and receptive to hear what I had to say.

I received mixed reviews. Although people are happy for me they are very skeptical. Some think I am manic and that is why I feel well today. They think I am “crazy” and that this can never happen. I am living proof but it is almost like they can’t believe it.

I want them to believe it. I know it is true because I am living it and I must share my story. What else can I do? I hope people will listen and find hope from my story.

Some people get upset with me for making it sound like I am promoting for all people to be psychotropic medication free. This is not the case. Medications are necessary for many but maybe not forever for some people.

Psychotropic medications are not ALWAYS required, necessary or healthy for all people to take for the rest of their lives. The use of psychotropic medications needs to be evaluated more often on an individual basis for people after diagnosis. The pros and cons need to be addressed much more often than they are and the damage these meds can cause needs to be looked at very closely–ALWAYS.

Please think about this regarding the use of psychotropic medications…

We repeatedly hear…

“Everyone is different and responds to medications differently.”

If that is true then why do we hear the blanketed statements, “Psychotropic medications must be taken for the rest of your lives. Never stop taking your medications.” If everyone is different than why do we assume EVERYONE will need to take their medications for the rest of their lives. We DO NOT know this to be a fact. Not yet anyway.

We also hear and read, “Bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are lifelong chronic illnesses. You will have bipolar disorder, for example, for the rest of your life.” If everyone is different, how do we know this to be true for sure? I don’t think we do. We do not know this to be a fact as they do not have all the answers about mental illness. There are still learning as they go and we are currently their subjects.

We need to keep an open mind and keep the possibility and hope that mental illness is not ALWAYS a lifelong illness.

Also, some people don’t like it when I talk about the dangers of Benzos and other psychotropic medications. I know everyone is different, but still the dangers are very real and affect everyone differently.

I share my story to inform, educate, increase awareness and inspire hope.

Some people are not receptive to what I have to say. It is a very sensitive area. My story conflicts with what we have been taught about mental illness.

My story is the opposite of EVERYTHING we have been taught about mental illness. I share my current story about how…

  1. My recovery continues to improve and I have reached mental wellness.
  2. I no longer have bipolar disorder (I was told it was a misdiagnosis.)
  3. I am psychotropic medications free for over a  year and a half.
  4. I have less anxiety symptoms than before starting Klonopin and other medications (withdrawal symptoms from Benzos can cause an increase in anxiety like symptoms worse than anxiety was. We blame increased anxiety on mental illness when in actuality it was from withdrawal effects of Benzos and possibly other psychotropics).
  5. I feel like my old self before my initial diagnosis of postpartum depression 27 years ago. This continues to improve every day and is a welcome joy.
  6. I enjoy working again. I am a resident care assistant for patients with Alzheimers. I get paid to give love again like before my diagnosis when I was a special needs teacher.
  7. I am joining church groups and signed up for an adult tap class.
  8. Slowly I am learning how to be social again and I welcome that as well.
  9. Nothing is permanent.
  10. My mental health improved. I am better and can live a beautiful, productive and meaningful life (BEYOND FUNCTIONAL).

Once I was given a mental illness diagnosis, it was drilled into my head that it is permanent and will never go away. I was told I will HAVE to take psychotropic medications for the rest of my life. “You must NEVER stop taking your medications,” I was repeatedly told. “You will never be normal. We can get you to live a functional life but you will never be normal.”

These kind of things are also said to many people after being given a mental illness diagnosis. The rest of your life seems like an awful long time to endure the type of hell I went through. Maybe that is why there are so many suicides. People with mental illness diagnoses are not given enough hope.

I was diagnosed with mental illness over 27 years ago and have been mentally well about a year after the Klonopin withdrawal symptoms finally subsided enough to enjoy the beauty of living again. Maybe my recovery  took 26 years, but the point is… it is possible and it happens. Regardless of the length of time it took, reaching recovery and mental wellness is a huge beautiful glorious blessing and is worth every pain and heartache.

Keep going. Keep fighting. You will make it too and once you do you will know it was all worth it–every painful step and pothole of your journey matters.

The pain and suffering from mental illness does not have to be forever. It really doesn’t. It will get better. You will get better. You can do it. You can make it. I am living proof.

Never forget…

You are loved by many.

You are needed.

You are important and you matter.

Your life has value.

You can live a long, successful, happy and productive life.

You can and will make a positive impact on many people’s lives.

You can and will enjoy the beauty of living…

and hopefully one day without the interference of mental illness.

I pray that for all of you.

Never give up.

You got this.

When you don’t feel like you can do this…

GOD HAS YOU.

Much love, Sue


Photo credit: Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

It’s All About the Flash (a Very Free Verse Poem)

It’s all about the flash,

the flash of the past,

the flash of what was

the flash of what could have been.

The flash of dreams you want to come true,

dreams that would make your life better.

You know it.

You can feel it,

so you pray

and wait

and dream some more

for a better life.

Then you dream for better flashes,

flashes that tell you you are good.

flashes that tell you it will get better,

flashes that tell you people care about you,

flashes that tell you people love you,

flashes that tell you you will make it again

because you did it before.

Then more flashes asking why

and when will life get better,

flashes of other people’s lives

that seem so much better,

so much easier

than yours.

Then you just pray–

pray for acceptance of what is

and acceptance of what was.

Pray for peace

and patience

for your faith to become stronger.

You keep trying and fighting,

praying you will feel better soon

and then

you just pray.

Pray for happines

and peace

to come

again.

This is what recovery is

over

and

over

again.

I keep typing until I feel better.

It hasn’t worked yet

but I will keep trying,

fighting,

typing

woking through it.

Typing to feel,

to love

and live.

I will make it again.

I have made it before

and I will make it again.

Type, type, type

to feel real.

Type away my sadness.

Type, type, type.

The sadness–

it is still there,

so I type.

I type some more

and pray for happiness and love

to fill my soul,

for loneliness to leave me.

I will make it.

Recovery is possible.

Remember.

I am living proof.

I will never forget.

I am living proof.

So I keep living

and fighting

always.

I am ALIVE.

I am breathing.

I am a survivor.

I am ALIVE

to enjoy

the beauty

of living.

~Written by Susan Walz 


This is why I write and blog. Sometimes I know I need something, so I just type–to feel, to feel real. Thanks for reading. I hope you can relate to this.

Keep fighting, feeling and being.

Sometimes all we can do is “be.” Just “be.” Give yourself credit for accepting when you need to just “be.” Today is a day I just need to “be” so I am ‘being” for a little while until I can “be” more than I am now–until I  can feel more like me–the better me.

All of the “me’s” I have are okay

and all of the “you’s” you have are okay too.

Some days are like that. We need to give ourselves a day to just “be.

BE all that you can BE.

BE the best you

you can BE.

Much love and hugs, Sue


© 2019 myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

My Loud Whispers of Hope–My New Blog Name and a Poem

“Turn loud whispers of hope

into shouts of joy

for the triumph of life and living.”

~Susan Walz


My Loud Whispers of Hope

When I finally accepted the theory that Bipolar 1 Disorder was in fact a misdiagnosis for 26 years, a heavy ugly weight has slowly been lifted from my being and soul. It is in a small sense an emptiness–void of a label I worked long and hard to finally accept after many years of fighting it. Now there is a huge lightness and freedom from this release of a hugely stigmatized label that was branded on my forehead like a flashing neon light for the world to see.

Since I have embraced the lack of the bipolar disorder label from my list and my LIFE, I realized it was time for a new blog name. I wanted to keep the name My Loud Bipolar Whispers similar so I just removed the word bipolar and wanted to name my blog My Loud Whispers but it was already taken. Rats.

At first I thought My Loud Whispers of Hope was too long, but then I decided it was perfect. Hope was the key to my recovery and beginning of my journey of wellness.

I wrote the following poem AFTER I changed my blog name. I started writing my blog post and this poem was transpired.

I hope you like my poem and I hope you like my new blog name.

Be well my friends.

Much love and hugs, 

Sue


My Loud Whispers of Hope

The silence of shame

ate at my soul,

weakened my spirit,

and extinguished my light,

until God ignited my spark,

rekindled my flame

and unmuted my voice

with loud whispers of hope.

My loud whispers of hope

became clearer words

of strength,

recovery and healing.

My loud whispers of hope

became lyrics and melodies

of courage,

inspiration and faith.

My loud whispers of hope

became shouts of joy

for the triumph of life and living.

~written by Susan Walz

“Turn loud whispers of hope

into shouts of joy

for the triumph of life and living.”

~Susan Walz

Copyright © 2019 | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

Regarding Stigma and Addiction

I have been researching a lot lately about addiction and recovery as I have come to realize that most of my struggles and pain from living a mental illness life were caused from the stigma of mental illness and my addiction to the Benzodiazepine, Klonopin for over twenty years.

Regarding stigma–it was not the illness itself that caused most of my problems–it was the stigma of mental illness that created the hardships and roadblocks along my painful destructive life. If my illness was treated with understanding and compassion like most other illnesses, I would not have lost my career, friends, relationships with my family, my dignity, respect and my own identity. Those would have all remained intact while I battled the pain from my illness. Instead, the stigma of mental illness–being shamed and shunned for the name of my illlness–ripped out my soul beyond repair for years. I am in the process of removing and repairing my shame.

Image result for stigma and addiction

Regarding addiction–my physical dependency on Klonopin caused increased anxiety, depression, insomnia, mixed bipolar like episodes and suicidal ideations for years of my life. Instead of realizing Benzos were the culprit, Psychiatrists, my now ex-husband and family blamed me–my weakness, character flaws and my mental illness labels–they thought everything was all my fault.

I also blamed myself and hated myself for taking extra Klonopin and overdosing. I never understood why I did it. I was never told or learned until now–now that I am finally psychotropic medication free for over a year that it was caused from being addicted to the prescription medication, Klonopin my doctor prescribed me for over twenty years.

Image result for klonopin withdraWAL SYNDROME

Additionally, I unknowingly experienced Klonopin withdrawal syndrome for years. Going through complete Klonopin withdrawal is a hell like I had never experienced before. However, it is a hell I would gladly go through again now that I survived and know how amazingly beautiful it feels to be free from all Benzodiazepine use. After suffering for over twenty-six years there is nothing better than feeling mentally clear and a peaceful serenity inside my body.

Taking Benzodiazepines and other psychotropic medications for over twenty years at a high doses actually damaged my brain. The magical beauty and miracle is that the brain can heal. It can transform and repair itself back to a new normal. It takes time but it happens. While you take medications like Opioids and Benzodiazepines, schedule II and schedule IV drugs your brain adapts to them and changes. When you stop taking those medications your brain must relearn how to function without them again. It takes time for your brain to transform, and recover, but the beauty and gift is that it can heal.

I know everyone is different. I share my story to inform others of the possible dangers of some medications as I do not want others to go through what I did. I share my story to inspire hope that recovery and mental wellness are possible. I am living proof.

It has been a year after my near fatal suicide attempt–

a year of being psychotropic medication free,

a year of no hospitalizations,

a year (minus three months of the excruciatingly painful recovery from Klonopin withdrawal syndrome) of living with mental wellness.

It has been a year of new discoveries

and a celebration of life and living–

My Life is a celebration over death.


Just an FYI–my psychiatrist has completely removed the label of bipolar disorder from my medical files and charts. What????

Wow. It has been a process but I am beginning to accept this as true. My psychiatrist says I was misdiagnosed for over twenty-six years and do not have bipolar 1 disorder. My diagnoses instead are borderline personality disorder and PTSD which were on my long list before. Two diagnoses are enough. He kept BPD as my diagnosis because bipolar disorder and BPD have similar symptoms and people with Borderline Personality Disorder can learn to cope with symptoms and can recover. Bipolar 1 Disorder and generalized anxiety disorder have been removed from my list of psychiatric disorders. A weight has been lifted.

Whether or not I was misdiagnosed, I will never know for sure. The point is I do not have symptoms now and my new psychiatrist believes most of my behaviors and severe symptoms came from taking high doses of the Benzodiazepine, Klonopin for too long–over twenty years. I will elaborate more on my process of accepting a misdiagnosis on a later post and…

I believe when there are no explanations–

IT MUST BE GOD!

Healing is possible.


Copyright © 2019 | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

What Anxiety Feels Like (and two worship videos to give you hope)

Imagine you are about to give an unrehearsed speech to 500 people in a large auditorium. This speech will determine whether or not you get a job. It is very urgent as you are unemployed at the time. Your children are depending on you.

It is thirty seconds before you start. You are about to go out. Take a deep breath. Relax.

You can’t relax. There is no relief. The greater problem is that you are not about to give a speech. You are sitting on your couch watching television, or you are in bed trying to fall asleep for the night.

When you have anxiety, you feel like you are about to give a speech to hundreds of people on a topic you know nothing about. You feel this way 24 hours a day, no matter what you are doing.

Now imagine feeling this way, but quadruple it when you attempt to get ready to leave your house or really need to talk in front of others or even just to talk to one person. You already feel like you are about to give a speech and now on top of your speech giving feeling you have to get ready to go to your daughter’s school performance wearing a bikini that is much too small in a crowd of Parkas.

That is anxiety. Now try to live your life. Oh, and wait there are medications with side effects to help ease your anxiety and depression that actually make you feel so drowsy you feel like you just woke up from surgery and your tongue is glued to the roof of your mouth. Plus, the medications caused you to gain weight, so now your bikini is even tighter and more uncomfortable.

Depression, anxiety and bipolar mixed episodes can force you to observe life from the corner back fence area of the pool of life, instead of diving into the pool of life head first.

Don’t worry. There is hope. Life will get better. You learn to give good speeches and you can pick whatever job you want. Your bikini fits better, or you learn not to wear a bikini and wear sweats. You become comfortable in your own skin and life.

It just takes time, patience, the right medication or the elimination of medications (don’t forget this is a great option for many–like me), therapy, the right treatment, supportive people and love.

Prayer and God always helps.

Plus, a nice bikini body would help, too. Oh well. A girl can always dream.

I hope we all  jump head first into our pool of lives. No splashing or peeing.

~written by Susan Walz


I am currently living without anxiety for the first time in my life–after living with severe anxiety most of my life. I may have mild (mostly likely “normal”) anxiety at times, but it is NOTHING.

I went to a show choir performance last night and sat there thoroughly enjoying the show, talent and beauty of the moments without the interference of electrical currents tapping at my brain and out the pores of every inch of my body. It was such a beautiful blessing.

I have many of those aha moments and think often how much easier life is without anxiety and could have been without the constant sensations of electrical currents ripping throughout my entire being–interfering with my ability to function, speak, relax, be my authentic self and grow and form into the person I was supposed to fully become.

I know life would have been so much easier and I could have become a brighter, smarter and more loveable person. But, I will throw away the what ifs and could have beens and I will take who I am now and will accept what is. This is the package of me God intended me to be. I will love me and make the now anxiety and medication free package of me the best me I can be.

I share this with you so you will never give up.

If this is possible for me, it is possible for YOU. 

Praise. Praise. Praise God!!!

When there are no explanations, it must be GOD!

Much love and hugs, Sue

*****

Everything is POSSIBLE with God!!!

 

Never give up hope. You are gonna do great things.

Be strong in the Lord.

Copyright © 2019 | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

Melancholy – A Poem

“And so being young and dipped in folly, I fell in love with melancholy.”

Edgar Allen Poe

Hello. You’re back. I remember you well. We go way back and are like old friends of sorts, or acquaintances, or frenemies rather.

I missed your familiarity. You are ugly, yet comfortable like my old favorite, ripped up, tattered and torn sweatshirt.

I feel you. I know you. I sensed you were coming back and here you are.

Now, I’m not alone in my loneliness. Not with you entering back into my life. You are here giving me a gentle hug. A squeeze to my heart. A peculiar warmth. Your essence creating a sorrowful glow that touches my heart weighing it down like an uneven brick of pressure.

You are a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause. Your name is melancholy. A painful melancholy that overwhelms and overflows my spirit.

Miss melancholy, I know you. Sometimes you bring all your friends with you. Sadness, sorrow, unhappiness, desolation, dejection, depression despondency, the blues, gloom and misery. You are basically the same and yet slightly different at the same time. You seem to work in groups. One leads to the other or leads to a group of mass destruction that can wreak havoc on the most beautiful life.

You call out my name and scream, but no one else can hear you except me. I listen to you because I know you. You have been part of my life for many years, since I was a little girl.

The depths of familiar pain I have reached with you by my side. This indescribable feeling is still a feeling. Oh, the depths of something I can’t describe.

I have been blessed and cursed in ways others can never know unless they too have been visited by your touch. I know the depths of human emotion for I have known death while living. Pre-death, the outer edges of dying, the place just tipping the end. A flirtatious taste of what it is. I know it. I have been there.

Your hug is singing inside me. You have come to visit so far a little bit at a time. However, I fear you will overstay your visit. Please do not try to get too close. I don’t want you to stay and enter back into my life fully and completely. You are destructive and can lead to depression.

You have caused tears already. Tears that have come when I did not want them to come. I think you have been here long enough. It is time for you to leave and take your tears with you. Take your sorrow. Take your grief and your shame and you hurt and your regret. Take it all. I do not want it. I need you to flee. It is time for you to run, scram and scadaddle out of here.

Get out of my heart, get out of my soul and get out of my life for good. Never return.  Goodbye.

“Melancholy is the happiness of being sad.” Victor Hugo


Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

Ripple Effect of PTSD and Mental Illness

I wrote this about a week ago after a visit from my parents. My PTSD was triggered significantly after only seeing them briefly, but I made it through once again. What an indescribable joy it is to feel peace and wellness after being consumed with overwhelming anxiety, anger, sorrow, shame, regret and suicidal ideations again. Plus, what a spectacular feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment it is to overcome after becoming undone.

My childhood and life experiences may not have been a warzone, but I can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just the same.

The ripple effect of PTSD and mental illness is like a Tsunami. I learned I must prepare for the Hurricane’s arrival by fleeing the scene or not going anywhere near the presence of the storm to begin with. I must stay away from the destructive properties of the storm for my own safety, survival and well-being and for the lives, well-being and happiness of others.

A Tsunami is a ferocious dangerous storm that does not care who it hurts. A Tsunami is never good and there is nothing good about it. It does not discriminate and has an eye and deceptive mind of its own destroying everything in its path. I must stay away from the eye of the storm—his piercing destructive glare wounds deeply.

Image result for PTSD quotes

I must avoid the storm from hitting again. The mere thought of it sends shivers throughout my entire body causing panic, terror, anger and sorrow from memories of past abuse, pain and destruction.  Even if I do not know the outcome of the storm, I can never take a chance. It is not worth the amount of work and energy it takes to recover. The risk is too great and the wounds and destruction are too painful and sometimes costly. I have had to struggle to survive and overcome too many past storms the Tsunamis in my life have caused throughout my lifetime and I will never do it AGAIN. I am finished with this natural disaster in my life.

One of the huge problems with this storm is the lifelong damage it has caused and maybe even greater is that this storm continues to destruct. It will not die, go away, change its path or course of destruction it chooses. It sometimes just selects different victims which actually wounds me even MORE. I could not stop this storm myself and I can’t protect the other victims as much as I should have. This saddens me as well. This storm continues to be a mean beast of a storm wounding and damaging others in its lifelong destructive path. I have not been the only victim. I must stay away from the evil eye of the storm… and warn and protect others… if only I could.

Image result for PTSD

We must stop abusers and bullies, all bullies. Sometimes the biggest and scariest bullies live in our own homes. Then there is no place to go for safety or protection The person or people who are supposed to protect you the most are the ones that hurt you the most. Who can you trust? It makes it a lonely, scary and unhappy place to live.

How can we help those we do not know need help? We need to educate. If when I was young I knew how dysfunctional my family was and I had someone to talk to, maybe I could have gotten help. I will never know that, but I pray no one will ever have to go through what I did. So, I continue to talk, to educate, to inform, to start dialogs. I am trying but I know I am not doing enough. I pray I can do more. I pray God will show me the direction I need to go so that I can best help myself and help others at the same time.

Please keep fighting and keep keeping on. Please do not let suicidal thoughts ever win.

Related imageI must confess that after the visit from my own Tsunami this past weekend, I was triggered and my brain took over. I went to my past thoughts. My hope. My way out. My only way I thought I had to end my pain. The only thing in the past that gave me comfort, peace and hope. As sad as that was for so many years of my life, suicide was my hope. I saw no other way out. Please fight those thoughts. I had to fight through them again over the last two nights.  I fought and I won again. I will never let that storm or storms win. I beat that storm before and I will beat it again and again. So can all of you.

I know from experience that it will get better and suicide is not the answer. Recovery is possible. Look out for YOU. Take care of you and know that you matter and you have a huge value and purpose in this world.

Image result for PTSD quotes

For me, the answer is Jesus. Jesus saves. Jesus saved my life numerous times. He can and will save yours too. Let Jesus help you. Let Jesus enter your life and heart.

Open your heart to Him. Have a relationship with Jesus. I guarantee you it is the best relationship you will EVER HAVE!

Have hope and faith. It does better. Pray and pray some more. Have people pray for you. Have them lay their hands on you and pray. Get on your hands and knees and pray. It works. I am telling you it works.

God answers prayers. Recovery is possible. I am living proof of that.

To pray is to let go and let God take over. ~Philippians 4:6-7

Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

The School of Hard Knocks Opens the Door to Recovery

If you have been following my blog or story for a while and are familiar with my story, I apologize that some of this post repeats my story and journey. In case, someone is reading my blog for the first time, I didn’t want to confuse them by leaving out pertinent information necessary for clarity. So, I repeated information about my life I have shared before. Sorry about that, but please keep reading because there is new writing and information in this post. I promise. There is even a (silly) QUIZ at the end of this post (just for fun). Please keep reading. Thank you. Much love and hugs, Sue


Living with bipolar disorder is difficult in many ways, and one of them is the unpredictable nature of this illness. I have bipolar 1 disorder with rapid cycling and mixed episodes and my mood poles used to switch often from a hypomanic mood pole to a severe depression, sometimes many times within the same day. Because of that I have learned to keep an open mind about life.

Image result for school of mental illness life

I had the same psychiatrist for about twenty years until he retired. Even though my psychiatrist was the one that initially prescribed my Klonopin no matter how many times I overdosed on it, I do not blame him. He tried his very best and truthfully saved my life many times, maybe unknowingly killing me at the same time, but hindsight is 20/20. He helped me more than anyone ever has — never throwing me away like many others did over 25 years of living with a severe mental illness. It helped me tremendously to know he was there for me — even calling me sometimes at 9:00 at night. He truly cared about his patients and humanity.

He was a rare gem of a man. I used tell him, “You are Jesus like. You save people’s lives through your compassion, kindness, and genius.” He was a very humble man and my complimentary words usually made him blush.

He had a severe illness but worked until he could no longer work and had to retire about 5 years ago. I have not had a Psychiatrist since that time. It was not for a lack of trying. I tried for a little while, but couldn’t find the right one for me at the time.

One P-doc said I was ADHD because I was shaking my leg. What? I did not know that was how you diagnosed it. I was probably shaking my leg because of my anxiety or side effects from my medication at the time or experiencing withdrawal effects from the Klonopin I was attempting to reduce the dose of and eventually wean myself off of. I was unaware of the dangers of doing this at the time. Back to the ADHD diagnosis. I knew the last thing I needed was another medication, especially a stimulant that would make me fly higher and faster internally more than I already was.

The next P-doc was a handsome young man and resembled Lin Manuel the creator of the Broadway musical Hamilton. I have to be honest. At first, I thought it would be a nice bonus to have a good-looking young Psychiatrist. At my first hour-long appointment I told him an overview of my life history. I am older and mine is very long. Plus, I talk too much so that appointment took even longer than it was supposed to.

As I was leaving his office, I heard him say as a by-the-way comment, “Oh, and I know how to get you off your Klonopin.”

Those were the last words I ever wanted to here. I thought, “What? Go off my Klonopin? No way. I love my Klonopin. I need my Klonopin. It is the only thing that helps me and it doesn’t have side effects.” So, I put a kibash on that doctor. I thought he was wrong and stupid to try to take me off my Klonopin. Klonopin and I went together like two peas in a pod — so, I thought. I was having nothing to do with going off Klonopin or him.

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At that time, I decided I could do this on my own and felt I had to at the time. I ended up going to the county health department to make sure I got my Klonopin and Trileptal. I saw a psychiatrist there a couple of times but she wasn’t very thorough or effective and I saw a nurse every once in a while to get my medications. The effectiveness and success of my treatment at that time in my life was partly my fault. I didn’t tell them my whole truths as I didn’t completely trust them or maybe even want their help at the time. I told myself the lie that I could do this on my own and I was going to be okay. This worked for a little while, so I thought or told myself the lie that it was working. Actually, it was not working at all and my mental health was slowly deteriorating right in front of everyone’s eyes.

After about a year, I was forced to stop taking my Trileptal — a mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar disorder that I had taken for over eight years. The Trileptal had caused severe adverse reactions that could have killed me, so I was forced to stop taking that medication cold turkey. This is a link to my post titled, “My Bipolar Medication Nearly Killed Me Because I Didn’t Get My Sodium Levels Checked,” which describes the syndrome in case you are unfamiliar with it.

I only had one medication left to take. I took 3 mg. of Klonopin daily to treat my bipolar, anxiety, and PTSD. I found out later, the hard way, that Trileptal actually had been helping me more than I realized. Taking only Klonopin was not working. I never realized that the severe symptoms of anxiety and suicidal ideations were caused from the fact that I was messing around with my dosage of Klonopin because I wanted to see if I could stop taking it. I took two mg. Klonopin at night for sleep and one in the morning. I had already decreased my prescribed Klonopin use from 5 mg. to 3 mg. on my own.

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I was on a quest to take even less. I tried nearly every day not to take them. Little did I know that I was putting myself in a perpetual withdrawal syndrome by adjusting my dose without the guidance of a medical professional. I didn’t understand that when I took less after two days my brain and body went into withdrawals already and cried out for more. The withdrawal symptoms mimicked severe anxiety and suicidal ideations, My brain was hurting and slowly becoming destroyed from my own doing and the power of my Klonopin-Benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawals. I had been unknowingly abusing Klonopin and was addicted to it for over twenty years.

“Hello, I am Sue and I am A Klonopin addict. I am a Klonopin abuser. I survived Klonopin withdrawals,” I would say at the meetings I would go to for Benzodiazepine/Klonopin addictions if they had them where I lived. I sure wish they had those kind of meetings because they would be very helpful for me. I must admit that I was a substance abuser and a drug addict for over twenty years. They were prescribed to me but I was still physically addicted.

I overdosed many times on Klonopin. My body and brain craved Klonopin every day of my life. It was a strong force and craving that overpowered my mind.  I never understood what was wrong with me for always overdosing. I sure wish I knew then what I know now. I NEVER would have taken Klonopin to begin with if I knew the damage it can and did cause to my brain, body and life for over twenty years of use and misuse.

The lesson here, of course, is something I needed to know then and need to always remember. It took my severe suicide attempt to realize I must keep an open mind and I need help. I cannot do this on my own.

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Being medication free is new and foreign to me, but it is something I want to continue. I strive to remain medication free. I am keeping an open mind and will pay close attention to my mental health. I feel better than I have in over twenty years.

The mystery or possibly the obvious answer is that I stopped taking Klonopin cold turkey almost six months ago after a severe overdose. I do not take any other psychotropic medications and I have not started therapy yet (I want to but have not been able to get in yet). My life is basically the same except I finally feel much happier, clearer, more focused, grounded and feel more at peace than I ever felt. My brain moves slower and is not overcrowded from rapid-firing thoughts at all times of the day or night. I believe I feel the way a person with a “normal” brain may feel. 

I do not have an explanation for this. Doctors do not have a sure fire explanation for this. I have been medication free for six months but suffered severely for two months going through Klonopin withdrawal syndrome. That is a horrific painful story for another day. These are the possible reasons for my psychotropic medication free mental wellness for over four months. 

  1. I am psychotropic medication free after over twenty-six years.
  2. My brain/brain chemistry changed favorably after years of taking psychotropic medications.
  3. My brain/brain chemsitry changed favorably due to having over a hundred ECTs (Electro-convulsive therapy treatments) over a twenty year time period.
  4. My brain/brain chemistry changed favorably due to the aging process.
  5. Menopause changed my brain/brain chemistry favorably. I just now went through menopause.
  6. Years of using and misusing Klonopin caused many of my adverse symptoms.
  7. I was addicted to Benzodiazepines for over twenty-six years and did not know it.
  8. I was wrongly diagnosed and treated. This one baffles me because I had too many bipolar symptoms. I had them all. At the time I tried to fight the diagnosis, but it was as if I was a poster child for bipolar. It was like the diagnosis was written for me because I had every symptom listed for the bipolar one diagnosis.
  9. Prayer always works.
  10. God healed me.

These are possibilities, but there are no definitive answers. The answers would help me solve my mystery but they do not really matter because it is as it is. My life is the way it is. I accept it as it is and I am truly happy and grateful for my new life and brain as it is right now.

Don’t get me wrong because I still have occasional setbacks. I am unsure at this time if they are symptoms or are from learned behaviors of living a mental illness life as long as I have. Hopefully, some questions will be answered at my next P-doc appointment. I am going to have some genetic testing done then and hopefully that help answer some unresolved questions for me. We will see what it can tell us and how it can help me. I will let you know.

Until then, please let my life and situation be an inspiration that life will get better. I am living proof of that. Keep keeping on and keep fighting. There is hope.

Also, don’t forget to pray. Prayer works. It sure helped me. God bless you all.


Please take the following quiz. It’s easy…

Please remember when reading the questions and taking this quiz that these questions and answers are for me. They are appropriate for myself and for my life at this stage of my life.

Everyone’s journey of mental illness, recovery and wellness is different. Everyone takes a different route. Everyone has a different time frame for healing. Everyone has a different treatment plan and medication plan . Everyone’s answers are their own. Everyone’s answers are correct. There are no wrong answers as long as you are trying your best and YOU NEVER GIVE UP.

Please remember to study hard. Learn everything you can about mental illness and wellness, about your treatment and medication options. Study hard. Retake your quiz of mental wellness as often as  you need to get it right. Take your time.

Always remember to be proud of your achievements.

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Quiz:

What are the changes that occurred in my life since my overdose four months ago and are the reasons for my positive recovery, growth and mental wellness. Pick the best answer or answers:

  1. Writing my blog and memoir are extremely therapeutic for me.
  2. I have five amazing children (two are married to my children).
  3. I am almost finished writing my second draft of my memoir, which encourages me to keep fighting and gives me hope.
  4. God healed me to the point he wants me to be healed.
  5. I do not take any psychotropic medications, right now (but those doors and windows are always open).
  6. When I help others essentially I am helping myself.
  7. I am blessed beyond words and measure.
  8. God healed me to the point he wants me to be healed.
  9. This is my mantra… “People need love the most when they least deserve it.”
  10. All of the above.

Correct answer/s:

10 – ALL OF THE ABOVE 

What answers can you choose or write for your own life?

How do you score on your school of life exam or quiz?

Write your own material. Write your own quiz. Study hard. Take the test. Learn more. Always keep learning new ways of living and thriving. Retake your test as often as you need. There are no right or wrong answers for your life.  Write new questions. Make new answers. You can never fail as long as you keep fighting and doing your best. Your best is the right answer. Just find out what your best is and achieve it over and over and then overachieve it and surpass your goals. Make new goals. Keep on keeping on.

Remember recovery and wellness are possible and beyond achievable.

I am living proof of that. 

We never graduate from our college of life.

Every day is new and every day there is something new to learn.

Never quit fighting, learning or growing.

Keep on keeping on. Keep surviving. Keep living. Keep thriving.

Much love and more hugs, Sue

Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

The Cure for Depression: Meditate, Pray, Journal, etc.

Welcome to suggestion #12 on curing depression. I’ve got a word for you fellow depressors: Mindfulness.

Have you heard that one lately? I don’t even social media that much since realizing it contributed an unhealthy amount to my negative self-image and my -sorry; rambling. I don’t get around much, and even I saw that word everywhere.

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I think it means being full of yourself, right?

Mindfulness is meant to be synonymous with introspection, self-awareness, inner peace, and self-acceptance. It’s a calming state of mind similar to where one gets with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but with more calming and less control.

In fact, CBT is the more-chosen recommendation of professionals at the moment. We mental types can get a little crazy when we meditate incorrectly. Who knew?

Anyway…. why practice mindfulness?

A calm mindset in which we have learned to meet and release negative situations and impulses is very beneficial. This mindset reduces stress, keeps us healthier physically, tends to decrease depressive thoughts, helps when we feel bullied or belittled, improves learning, and gives us a general resilience to negative life situations.

Sounds great, right?

Let’s get some stretch pants on, then, and get ready to lotus right into it. Here are the top ways to get yourself mindful:

  1. Meditation.
    Set aside just a few minutes around the same time each day for a little calm introspection. Yes, you can sit cross-legged and hum if it’ll make you laugh. Then, you’ll need to get a tad serious for any inner peace type moments. I also recommend calm music and limited distractions.
    A very important warning I found online is that meditation can have a dark side. If you’re going to look into yourself, do it with guidance (like with the directions of a psychologist). If you’re extremely depressive and want to go 24 hours into deep meditative prayer, get professional instruction first. I have many addictive habits and negative thoughts, so learning that we can actually go a bit haywire delving into our psychosis didn’t surprise me all that much.
    A peaceful reconnection with ourselves for a few simple minutes each day, however, is great.
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  2. Prayer
    I grew up in an organized religion that I am still a part of. We were taught to pray daily. From this, I know both the positive sides (divine help, meditative benefits, divine worth, etc.) and the negative ones (anxiety, trust issues, etc.).
    Thing is, I’ve been reading about a lot of non-religious people finding some suspiciously-religious results from their definition of praying. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Eat, Pray, Love about writing to herself in a journal but that it wasn’t herself who answered. Whilst binge-listening to TED Talks, I heard a woman describe coincidental inspirational thoughts and events that led her to positive directions in her life.
    Prayer can work. Perhaps like the meditation, do it in a small, beneficial amounts -maybe even with guidance.
  3. Journaling
    “But, I’m not a writer…” “But, someone might see….” “But, but..” as your grandmother might say, “Buts belong in ashtrays, sonny!” Who cares about your skill as a writer? Just burn the journals when you’re done if you want. Journaling is for YOU.
    Despite the technically-advanced society we live in, consider an actual journal with actual paper and pencil or pen. We’re still very primal and tactile homo sapiens so the behavior of actual writing can be therapeutic.
    What should you write about? How about: guided CBT strategies you and your paid friend are working on, positive thoughts you had, goals for the day, hopes, dreams, and dark poetry …that ends with an inspirational message.
  4. Yoga
    When I think of yoga, I think impossible stretches and smug people with long hair and smoothies made from grass. Yoga doesn’t have to be that way, however. The wonderful world of online videos gives us simple stretches to do in your jeans, advanced positions you need to work up to, and even quick morning routines.
    It’s the marriage of meditation and exercise, so may be the perfect solution if you just want to get this mindfulness crap out of the the way quickly.
  5. Other things
    Like: Self-massage, visualization, rhythmic exercise, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
    Depression is the continual weather forecast of cloudy skies with scattered showers (in terms of hygiene and crying fits). Most calming activities that break us into relaxation and positive self-awareness are good. They’ll provide a sunbeam, or a full-on clearing of gray matter.

As always, start small and consider working with your doctor and/or counselor for any of these suggestions. Pay attention to how your body responds to each relaxation technique. You may not respond the way 75% of case studies do and it’s super important to do what does work.

Use your inner voice to channel light against the darkness of depression, young Care Bear. You can do it.

Namaste.

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Photo credits:
Lesly Juarez
Le Minh Phuong
Jacob Postuma