Tag Archive: Major depressive disorder


Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted this almost a year ago and after reading this again I feel that it speaks to me as much as anyone else. My challenge has less to do with my bipolar disorder and more to do with the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue that I experience. I am trying new treatments but there is no guarantee that they will work. So the question on my mind is how do I create new dreams that are both fulfilling and also attainable? Of course everyone who has gone through a serious mental illness or physical illness asks these sort of questions.  To give up and spend the rest of your life watching TV is not what most people want. For me it has been hard not to feel useless and I always do best when I am working a fulfilling job.

This post is designed to stimulate thinking, not provide concrete answers. Ultimately it is up to the person as to how much they think they can handle. But even a little bit of effort can go a long way!

Making New Dreams

Every blade of grass has its’ angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’ The Talmud

Every one of us has that divine spark of life that strives for fulfillment. Just because we have an illness does not mean that we have to give up our dreams and crawl under the covers. A diagnosis is not a life-sentence. Read  more here…

English: A DNA microarray. Français : Une puce...

English: A DNA microarray. Français : Une puce à ADN. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Science Daily is a great source for learning about the latest research in just about any area. They have a good mental health section which I subscribe to.  This article is a bit old but still relevant. For those of us who have trouble with side effects from medications this could very well be a boon for us!

Gene Chip for Personalized Meds
Psychiatrists Can Now Predict An Individual Patient’s Response To A Drug

August 1, 2006 — The first in a new generation of gene microarrays, computer chips that chemically or electrically express DNA, can predict how a person’s body will metabolize about 25 percent of drugs on the market, including most antipsychotic medications. The chip tests for mutations in genes that break down drugs. Molecular biologists say that slow metabolizers may be susceptible to side effects, while fast metabolizers may not find a drug effective.  (Read more and watch a video here)

A Travesty of Justice Against the Mentally Ill!

Pregnant woman in the shadows (BW image)

Pregnant woman in the shadows (BW image) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received this horrifying e-mail today. Many of you may already know about this as it looks like this case is moving towards a trial. However it is not too late to make your opinion known! Please read and sign this petition and pass this along to as many people as possible!

Mary

When my friend Bei Bei found out she was pregnant, she was excited to start a family. But things took a turn for the worse. Her boyfriend abruptly left her and said he didn’t love her anymore, and she fell into a spiral of depression. It got so bad that she tried to kill herself on Christmas Eve.

Luckily, a friend found Bei Bei and rushed her to the hospital. Bei Bei survived, but after an emergency C-section, her baby — whom she named Angel — didn’t survive. It gets worse: now an overzealous prosecutor is putting Bei Bei on trial for murder.

Bei Bei lives in Indiana, which has a law that was meant to criminalize people who attack pregnant women. This law has never been used to convict a pregnant woman of harming herself — and suicide is not even illegal in Indiana. Bei Bei went through a personal tragedy, and now she could face 45-65 years in prison.

I started a petition on Change.org calling on prosecutor Terry Curry to drop charges against Bei Bei. Will you click here to sign?

I am terrified for my friend, and also for the precedent this trial could set. What if a woman like Bei Bei was struggling with suicidal thoughts, but then was too afraid to seek help because she knew she could be prosecuted?

After Bei Bei tried to kill herself, she did everything doctors recommended to save her fetus, taking rounds of medication and consenting to emergency surgery. When doctors told Bei Bei that Angel had to be taken off life support, Bei Bei was so devastated she had to be sedated.

Bei Bei has already been through so much — it seems like Terry Curry is the only person in Indiana who wants to prosecute her. I hope that if thousands of people sign my petition, we can bring enough attention to his cruel vendetta to get him to drop the charges and let Bei Bei finally move forward with her life.

Click here to sign my petition demanding that prosecutor Terry Curry drop all charges against my friend Bei Bei Shuai.

Thank you,

Brooke Beloso

Indianapolis,

Indiana

1212mentalhealth-RW

1212mentalhealth-RW (Photo credit: Robbie Wroblewski)

 

I have noticed that I am getting a lot of searches on my blog about setting boundaries with bipolar family or friends. So I am going to devote a short post to this topic. Unfortunately I am in a lot of pain right now with my fibromyalgia so I am saving some of the longer posts that I had planned to write until later.

So this is my opinion based on my thirty-some years of dealing with this illness and my work with others who suffer with mental disorders.

Note: Do not take what I am about to say as an excuse for bipolar behavior. I am only noting the complexities of dealing with this illness as simply a behavioral disorder. Please read the entire article before making a judgment. I do in fact talk about what the responsibilities of the person who has bipolar disorder are. Ultimately it is up to the person who has to live with the person who is diagnosed as to how much they feel they can tolerate. However I encourage an attitude of compassion, rather than judgment. Also you are welcome to respond to this article as long as you do so in a respectful manner.  If you cannot do that then your comment will not be approved.

Boundaries, for the most part, should be similar to those that anyone without an illness should adhere to. However, there are some caveats:

1. Recognize that bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizo-affective disorder, and schizophrenia are not character disorders. The person you are dealing with is the same person that she was before she got sick, so if she was a good person before then she is also a good person even in the midst of her illness. Often people get bipolar disorder confused with borderline personality disorder (which often even has the same initials as bipolar disorder, BPD). While the symptoms may be similar to each other borderline personality disorder is a part of a person’s character and is formed early on in childhood. Medications tend to not help much.  Therapy is recommended as the most effective treatment. However in people who have a true mental illness based on biology, medications are very effective in restoring function and therapy is considered an adjunct treatment.

2. Because of #1 it is very important that you not shame the person who is dealing with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness. Chances are they are already dealing with a lot of shame, even if they don’t show it. Suicidal behavior is often motivated by feelings of guilt. Guilt is actually a hallmark symptom of the depressive phase of the illness. You are not responsible for any suicide attempts but just keep in mind that the goal is to help the person feel better and guilt trips don’t help.

3. Don’t take their behavior personally. Most of the time it has nothing to do with you.

4. Keep in mind also that some people experience a break with reality in which they are not totally in control of their behavior. See my article Are People With Bipolar Disorder Inherently Evil?

 5. After saying all this I think that the primary way of setting boundaries should be to insist that the person get appropriate help. It may be that it is impossible to live with that person’s behavior otherwise. I have dealt with that problem myself when I took in a homeless schizophrenic who refused to take his medications. He became homeless when he quit his job and went on a wild spending spree. Unfortunately by trying to help him I only enabled him to continue his destructive behavior. Please note that I am not suggesting that a mentally ill person should be left out on the street. There are mental health organizations that can help with finding them medical help and housing. See the bottom of this article for resources.

6.  Keep in mind that most medications do not work overnight and it may take a while to find the right combination. Also most people do not get total relief from their symptoms so they might still have mood swings, just not as bad as before.

7.  Because of #6 most people need to also develop coping skills to deal with their illness. This is where therapy and support groups are helpful. One of the things that I have learned and continue to learn is how to separate my bipolar feelings from my healthy feelings, This is where self-responsibility comes in to play. I can’t take my feelings out on others and this is where appropriate boundaries are needed.

A good resource for family and friends of people who suffer from mental disorders is NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). They also offer classes in coping skills for those who suffer from mental illness.

For information on support groups and other programs to help the mentally ill go to the Mental Health America website.

For a good list of therapists and other mental health professionals who can help both the person suffering from mental illness and also family members who need help to deal with their loved one’s illness go to the Psychology Today website and click on “Find a Therapist” on the top of the page.

Related articles

Bee on flower (female Xylocopa violacea)

Bee on flower (female Xylocopa violacea) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi all! I know I promised a post on the Law of Attraction and how that relates to the buddhist concept of non-attachment but I have gotten a bit derailed by my fibromyalgia.  I’ll get to it soon I promise! If you missed the first article about fear and non-attachment you can read it here.

In the meantime I have an old post that I would like to share. I originally wrote this as part of a book I was planning on daily meditations. I hope you will enjoy it!

Beauty and Pain In Suffering

I found that the nature of life is joyful, that deep within the core of each one of us is the joy that indeed surpasses understanding. This is a joy beyond polarity—a joy that includes sorrow, a hope that embraces despair.

Dorothy Maclean

In the tapestry of our lives there is a poetic theme. Often it is hard to see the beauty behind the pain. For many of us life has often been in a state of constant upheaval due to our illness. It is hard to see a sense of order or the Divine in it…read more

June Is Bustin Out All Over

June Is Bustin Out All Over (Photo credit: outdoorPDK)

Hi all! It will be my first anniversery doing this blog in June! So I am going to share some of my earlier posts with you this coming month in case you missed them. Here is the second half of my post My Bipolar Disorder: Curse or Blessing? (If you missed the first half you can read it here):

So in my last post I was talking about how we attract certain situations into our lives in order to learn from them. This has nothing to do with punishment or blame. It is about the Universe giving us another chance to get things rightread more here

Under the Weather

Helloo!.. Loving the rainy weather...

Helloo!.. Loving the rainy weather… (Photo credit: *SeniHome Photos*)

Hi Peeps!

I want to let everyone know that I am still here, but have taken a few days off due to a really bad sinus infection. Silly me, I tried treating it on my own and got in really bad shape before going to the urgent care. Everytime I get sick it just makes it much harder to recover from my chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia. Also to those that I have been corresponding with on your blogs, I haven’t forgotten you! I’ll get back to you when I can. In the meantime, I am coming up on my one year anniversery writing this blog so I thought I would share an earlier post. Enjoy!

My Bipolar Disorder: Curse or Blessing? Part One

I have discovered in the course of my journey that life and psychic growth move in cycling spiral rings of descent and ascent. Every new growth in myself has been preceded by a descent of the seed into the dark ground.

Linda Shierse Leonard

I believe that I have been given the experience of having bipolar disorder for a reason. It is here in my life to teach me. Now that doesn’t mean I am a Pollyanna about it. Far from it…read more

 

Drive-By Snarking

Sam saves Emily from drowning herself (2006).

Sam saves Emily from drowning herself (2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it finally happened. I had my first “snark attack” on my blog. Frankly I am surprised that it has taken so long for this to happen since I do post on some controversial topics. Even though it was an unpleasant experience it did spark some thinking on my part. In essence, how do you explain your illness to someone without making it sound like you are making excuses for bad behavior?

In the article in question I made it very clear that having bipolar disorder does not give you a free pass. However what I was focusing on was that there are people who have bipolar disorder who experience a break with reality, including me. Any court in the land would not consider that person to be responsible for her behavior. Now the area gets a little fuzzy when it comes to medication compliance, someone who is not getting treatment may bear some responsibility for getting into the situation in the first place. Unfortunately, I lost a good friendship with a man who has schizophrenia because he stopped taking his medication. I ended up in a very co-dependent relationship with him, which ended badly.

Getting back to this comment she basically was angry with her bipolar husband and so all people who have bipolar disorder are evil and don’t take responsibility for their actions. Furthermore mental illness is not a serious disease, like cancer, so I should just suck it up.

I won’t get into my reply here, but you can read it for yourself.

What she missed was that this article was intended to help those who are perplexed by their loved one’s behavior. To let people know that the strange behavior has nothing to do with them. In other words, I was trying to comfort people who have been deeply hurt to help them understand that they are not at fault and also that most likely the person does not intend to hurt them or anyone else.

One of my deepest regrets is that I have hurt others through my suicide attempts. However I was not doing that to manipulate and punish them, it was to punish me. I felt everyone would be happier without me and that I didn’t deserve to live. At one point I was delusional and I thought God wanted me to kill myself.

When I have told some people this it has been because I want then to feel better, to let them know that I don’t blame them and to ease their minds. While my dad gets that, I have gotten a very negative response from some other people. They just see my well-intended words as excuses and that I had some evil intent to hurt them. I have even been accused of lying about my symptoms in order to get medications, even though they do not make me high and they are non-addictive.

When I get accused of not taking responsibility for my actions, that is not true. I have made changes in my life and I no longer act destructively towards myself or others. I have not made a suicide attempt in 14 years. I think this is the best apology that I can give, which is doing things differently. I didn’t have the skills to manage my illness in the past, now I do.

But I will not admit to having evil motives when I did not. I’ll take responsibility for my actions, but I am not going to roll over and be beaten up for the mistakes I made in my past. The fact is that I want very deeply to reassure them that I do not blame them for my illness, but they won’t accept it.  That means that I am not responsible for their misery, because they are the ones who are choosing to hold onto it.

So what do you guys think? Do people react badly when you try to explain your illness to them? At what point do you think that maybe you were not responsible for your actions? At what point do you think you were? Please share.

Darkness Is Not A Thing

Dementor

Dementor (Photo credit: ap.)

In 1998 I wrote this poem when I was in the midst of my worst depression ever:

Darkness seeps in

Through cracks and under doors

Slowly drips down windows

Obscuring everything

It rises and I choke

On its acrid smokiness

Now logically I know that darkness has no substance in itself. It is just the absence of light. But this is what depression feels like. It is like some dark entity has taken possession of me. Not literally, like a demon, but it sure feels like it. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, then the feeling is like when the Dementors tried to suck the soul out of his body. They literally convinced him that there was nothing good in the world at all. If his other self, the one who had come from the future, hadn’t rescued him, he would have been lost forever.

Perhaps this “other self”, could be a metaphor for the Higher Self, the part of us that knows that this darkness and despair is not real. The one who can help us if we will let it. The one that sends the magical Patronus (animal protector) who charges to the

English: Harry Potter's deer-shaped patronus E...

English: Harry Potter’s deer-shaped patronus Español: El patronus de Harry Potter Français : Le patronus de Harry Potter prenant le forme d’un cerf. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

rescue and restores us to sanity.

Of course, as with all fairy tales, things are usually not that simple. But they point us towards a truth worth considering: That our illusions are just that, illusions. Depression is not reality. Love and light are reality. Even if we can’t see it all of the time.

I had a strange dream a few nights ago. Someone who I intensely dislike told me that I was not alone. I angrily rejected that. I didn’t trust him. This is not something that this person in real life would have said to me, ever. However, with most dreams the images of those we don’t like are “borrowed” from the outer world to make a point. The man in my dream was a part of me, an unconscious ally. He was letting me know that I have more strength than I think I do.

Anyone else have any thoughts about this? Is there a part of you that knows that even in the blackest despair that it is not real? Please share.

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn't because ...

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn’t because she was trying to get to sleep. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found this excellent interview with Amy Simpson, who is a Christian mental health advocate and speaker. She has written a book called  Troubled Minds, a book to guide the Church in better understanding how to help those struggling with mental illness. Here is an excerpt from this interview done by   from her blog Christ and Pop Culture. The context is about Rick Warren‘s son who committed suicide recently due to a depressive illness. Rick Warren is the author of the best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life:

Pastor Warren’s statement indicated that “only those closest” to the family knew of his son’s story and struggle. Why do people’s struggles with mental illness continue to be hidden and is this even more the case in the Church context?

Mental illness is stigmatized in our culture. We carry old, superstitious ideas about it. People fear mental illness and marginalize those with mental illnesses in a way they don’t treat people affected by other forms of disease. We tend to treat mental illness as either a source of entertainment, subject matter for jokes, a source for romantic notions, or something to be terrified of. We don’t tend to think of mental illness as what it is—that is, illness with biological and environmental causes just like a lot of other diseases. We tend to think that if someone has a mental illness or receives treatment for mental health, that person is somehow compromised or perhaps unable to live a productive life.

Within the Church, we add our own layers of stigma. Many churches assume all mental illness is spiritual in nature and reflects a spiritual weakness or lack of faith. Some churches assume all mental illness is caused by spiritual forces like demon possession and ignore the overwhelming evidence for the biological factors involved. Some churches assume mental illness is meted out as punishment for sin and anyone who exhibits an ongoing problem with mental illness must have an ongoing problem with sin that’s the real cause. So they point fingers at suffering people and blame them for their illnesses. Some church people are simply so horrified and offended by the idea that mental illness could happen to them and their own families, they keep their distance. They marginalize people with mental illness to make themselves feel better, convincing themselves they’re different and it couldn’t happen to them.

In this kind of environment, who wants to speak up and admit to mental illness if it means being kicked out of the church, being treated like a second-class or third-class citizen, or being subject to insistence that the church can pray the problem away or that the solution is found in simply having more faith or praying more? Rather than subject themselves to this kind of treatment, most people would prefer to stay silent. Many people are also afraid of risk to their jobs, their relationships, and their reputations—so they keep quiet.

This is a great tragedy made even more tragic by the reality that in any given year, more than 25 percent of adults in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental illness of some kind.

You can read the rest of this at:

www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture/2013/04/overcoming-mental-illness-stigma-in-the-church-an-interview-with-amy-simpson