Need Help? Go On and Ask for It

Mental illness sucks.

That’s the summation of my thoughts, usually after a depressive spiral. It’s what I think when a good friend loses a job because of a schizophrenic episode. It’s my answer when another friend hits the low part of his bipolar cycle. It’s the phrase I mutter in response to people’s suicidal thoughts, lack of desire to do anything, or expressions of overall sadness.

Not only do we all experience the side effects of our mental issues, we also get no support whatsoever from our own minds. When enveloped in the venom of negative thoughts that mental illness supplies, we hear things like:

You’re a terrible person …with specific reasons.

No one likes you …complete with names.

Whatever you try fails …including examples.

No one can help you. No one wants to help you.

All of these Wormtongue-spoken messages are not true. In fact, the last one is the most not-true. There are plenty of people who can help. Heck; there are strange people who voluntarily went to school and paid a lot of money in order to listen to others’ mental health problems all day.

Weirdos.

I speak of counselors or therapists. I speak of psychologists. To some extent, I speak of psychiatrists as well. They have all chosen a career, voluntarily, to listen to crazy people like you and me.

Uh-oh: negative-thought brain is talking again:

They don’t really want to help you. They’re just doing it for their job …with examples of friends or relatives who’ve complained about a bad experience.

It’s impossible to find one who’ll be good …with reasons why your issues are a special case.

You can’t afford a counselor …with a list of your expenses.

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Guess what, brain! They really do want to help you. Granted, there must be therapists who are terrible. There must be some who are in it for the money. If you ask around and/or read online reviews, however, you’re likely to weed out the bad ones. After all, these weirdos did choose their job. In my experience, they did so because they wanted to help people.

Plus, the costs might be manageable. Depending on where you live, some of those strange people who can and want to help are cheap or free. Some are covered by job insurance plans, others by government programs, and still others by ecclesiastical assistance.

Don’t be afraid to ask around, get a good listening ear, and get going on your life!

You are important. You are worth any cost.

I promise.

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Photo Credit: Pexels
Matheus Ferrero
Dan Meyers

Mental Illness Really Sucks

You wouldn’t believe this, but mental illness sucks.

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I spend a lot of days just stuck. I lack motivation or a positive outlook or even the will to shower. People telling me that things will get better do not help. I mean, things will get better for them

And I only have depression.

What I’ve read about bipolar, schizophrenia, and anxiety (to name a few general terms) makes me understand the suckiness of mental illnesses can only go deeper.

And the worst part? Stuff like motivation and will power is nonexistent. It’s been sucked away. That’s the analogy I keep thinking of with all the recent news about black holes in space.

That’s it! -Mental illness is like a black hole.

The Event Horizon Telescope, a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration, captured this image of the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87 and its shadow.

Image: © EHT Collaboration

So… why am I bothering to write about it? It sounds like we ought to just accept our fate and enter another dimension as re-composed atoms, right? Wrong. I’ll tell you why, and you don’t even have to get up from the floor to listen.

Things actually will get better.

No, that’s not a cheery aphorism. I do not believe in those, because they also suck -but not like the suck of mental illness black holes. Go get your own sucking analogy, aphorisms.

But you don’t really care about that right now if you’re in a spiral.

What you need right now is to calm down. That thing you think you really need to be doing will wait, unless it’s a pot of boiling dinner on the stove. Turn that off, remove it from heat, then calm down. Now that we’ve mitigated a fire hazard, everything can wait. The Earth will keep moving and you can take a little break.

Then you need to do something for you. Something funny.


Watch a funny movie, read a funny book, look at funny memes online, ask your dad for a joke, or search for internet fails. Get laughing, or at least get not-crying. Try a smile -that’s it. I’ll take it.

Make yourself slightly more comfortable.
Use the bathroom, eat something reasonably healthy and brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Shower and get dressed.

Lastly, do SOMETHING.
You just got up and ready, after all. It’s not like your couch is a great date, though sitting on it with a great date or group of friends is fine. Text someone (even your mom) and leave the pit house.

Only after you’ve re-centered your mind, aka escaped the black hole, are you ready to do try facing whatever space anomaly sent you near it.

Speaking of, you may want to clean off your stove. That crap’s hard to get off if it stays on there.

 

Photo Credits:
Tiago Bandeira

Y’all Are Crazy, and That’s Okay

Having a mental illness is a lonely thing.

Like most people, we want at least someone with whom we can talk. We want a friend to cry with, or even laugh with. We need a deep connection with another human, to feel loved and validated.

Unfortunately, we have a few things that get in the way of socializing.

Many of us are scared. We have trust issues. When we feel hurt, we feel very deeply and wish to avoid feeling that way again. Often, we’ve had a bad experience of someone breaking a promise or shying away when we shared how we think. Heck, a lot of us have a bonafide diagnosis from a doctor that we have social anxieties.

Besides the hurt and fear, we avoid people for their own benefit. We tell ourselves that we are flawed and unsafe. We justify our anti-social behavior with statements like, “I know I’m a downer,” “No ones talks to me at parties. They can see, in my face, that I’m no fun,” and “If they really wanted to be around me, they’d talk to me.”

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Those reasons and that voice are hard to work with, but our health and mental stability need to fight against them. I mean, did you know that human connections were rated the most important thing in a happy life?

So stop beating yourself up. Seriously. I’ll tell you why:

  • Most people are some level of crazy. They may not be certified, but they have issues. I can’t tell you how many people I talk with who have experienced some angle of what I have, if not the whole enchilada.
  • Even though you are crazy, what are you gonna do about it? I’ve tried starting over, but the person that is me always shines through. I am what I have to work with and I accept that.
  • Crazy people have options, like crazy-people doctors and crazy-people medications and crazy-people blogs. There are even …crazy people groups that meet and talk crazy together. It’s a blast.
  • You are you, and are a work in progress. Just think: are you still crawling around and stuffing car keys in your mouth? NO! You did that as a baby, silly. Now you are older and know better. You are knowing better every day.
  • The future will be better. The future will be even betterer if you keep moving forward -even if all you can manage is a shuffle.
  • If all else fails, there is chocolate.
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I have a few friends. Of those, a few have mental health challenges. Some struggle with depression and social anxiety like I do. One has panic attacks. Another is schizophrenic. A mutual acquaintance is bipolar.

Sometimes when I try to plan a get-together, a friend flakes and doesn’t show up. Sometimes I have a terrible week and have to cancel on one of them. Since we are all in this not-sea-worthy-at-all boat together, however, we get it. If not, we talk about it. We hug. We pull out the chocolate.

I need people. I need understanding. I need connection. So do you. Plus, your challenges and perspectives mean that you are more understanding and empathetic than other people.

I mean, we may all be crazy, but that’s okay. We’re as human as the next person and our needs are just as valid.

You are worth it. I promise.

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Photo Credits:
Sayo Garcia
Ethan Sykes
Anita Austvika

schizoaffective bipolar, schizophrenia, and bipolar and me

Schizoaffective bipolar is schizophrenia and bipolar. When I found out that I was schizoaffective, I found it helpful to look at both sides of my disorder. Due to researching the disorder and both aspects of it, I have begun to understand and accept how my brain works. Today I’m going to look at both aspects of as well as the disorder itself. This is to be informative and reduce the stigmas of these disorders. This is not to diagnose anyone. I was diagnosed about 2-3 years ago now with schizoaffective bipolar. I was scared; I thought that I was psychotic and I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to be called or known as.

Schizophrenia is often described as having disturbed thoughts or feelings. Some with this disorder are often losing touch with reality. There are positive and negative aspects of the disorder. Some with this disorder will experience hallucinations, delusions, thought or movement disorders. I know this sounds bad, but these are the positive aspects of the disorder it gets worse. Many people with this disorder also experience flat affect, reduction in feelings of pleasure in everyday life, difficulty in the beginning and/or sustaining activities, and a reduction in speaking.

Some of those with schizophrenia will have a reduced ability to understand information and use it to make decisions, focus as well as inattention issues, and issues with using information directly after learning it. Some causes of this disorder are genetics, environmental, and psychosocial factors. Some other causes are a chemical imbalance and chemical reactions. Current treatments are antipsychotics, specialty care, and psychosocial treatments.

Schizoaffective disorder is mostly described as schizophrenic symptoms as well as mood disorder symptoms. Many people are often diagnosed as a mood disorder or as schizophrenia. This is diagnosed in .3% of the population. Some symptoms of this disorder are hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, depressed mood (depressive type), or manic mood (bipolar type). The causes of this disorder aren’t entirely clear, but it is thought that genetics, stress, and drug use are factors. To be diagnosed with this disorder you need to have symptoms of schizophrenia with and without a major disorder episode.

Bipolar disorder is described as having shifts in mood, energy, the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, and activity levels. Some ranges in mood are manic (extremely “up”) to depressive (very “down”) periods. There are 4 types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar 1 severe manic episode requiring hospitalization and lasting 2 weeks or more. Bipolar 2 hypomanic and depressive episodes. Cyclothymic disorder rapid cycling between hypomanic and depressive moods for at least 2 years in adults and 1 year in adolescents. Unspecified bipolar and related disorders characterized by bipolar. Many sufferers may experience unusually intense emotions, sleep patterns change, activity levels change, behaviors become unusual. These distinct changes are called mood episodes and are distinctly different than the person’s normal mood and behaviors. Causes are brain functioning, brain structure, genetics, and family history of the disorder. Treatments for this disorder are medications and psychotherapy.

I have been on many different medications for my schizoaffective bipolar in the past 2-3 years. I have also been doing DBT as a part of my psychotherapy. I have found that Wellbutrin, Abilify, and DBT have been very helpful. This combination has been beneficial because I have seen myself during these therapies. I have been able to slow my brain down enough to pick up on key things in my life that causes shifts in my mood. Without my medications, I could become very depressed or manic quickly.