TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Posts tagged “Stigma of mental illness

Life vs. Death, Living vs. Existing

 

I know the importance of mental health screening first hand, as a person who is Bipolar, with Asperger’s, OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Therapy works.  So does the right combination of medications.  It is the difference between life and death.  It is the difference between just existing and living a productive life with loving relationships.  If you are having difficulties coping, feel you cannot go on as you are, are depressed or have any number of emotional problems, get screened.  Get help. You cannot do it alone.  I know.  I tried.  This may be the single most important decision of your life. And if you are interested you can read about the story of my battle against mental illness.

For screening go to: 

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

 


No Laughing Matter: a Tribute to Robin Williams

Robin Williams fans mourn the loss of one of the greatest comedians of history today.  In this world of wars, and anguish, Robin Williams made us laugh.  

For Robin Williams was a most gifted comedian but Robin Williams was also Bipolar. 

His Bipolar disease fed his genius. It also killed him.

His Bipolar disease gave him the ability to wildly free associate right to the heart of our funny bones.  His performances were floridly manic but his alcoholism was depressed.  

In truth of fact, Bipolar disease often does beget genius but far more often Bipolar Disease is the cause of suicide.  The most deadly of all mental illnesses, we Bipolars see, and at times, enjoy the mania but far too often are caught in the black hole of depression.

And while fans may mourn Robin Williams, we who are Bipolar cry tears of anguish not just for one of our heroes, but also for a disease that could kill us.  

Like most Bipolars suicidal thoughts and wishes are not foreign to me, just as they are not alien to many mentally ill people.  But more Bipolars die from their mental illness than any of the other mental illnesses

Fans loved Robin Williams and ignored the Bipolar aspect.  Mental illness is still stigmatized and talked about in hushed tones.   

We who are depressed are told to “snap out of it”, “look on the bright side,” engage in “positive thinking” as if we have total control over our psyches.  If anyone could look at the funny side, it was Robin Williams and yet Bipolar depression sent him to an early grave.

Pay tribute to Robin Williams by accepting Bipolar Disorder and Major Depression and, instead of stigmatizing mental illness, treat the afflicted with acceptance and empathy.  

 May Robin Williams rest in peace at long last!!



On Finally Seeing Maya

A fragmentation of reality

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A major psychotic break

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The other day I wrote a poem, Point of View, about having a psychotic break recently.  Well, the break was a very slight one.  Perhaps many people thought I was just being poetic.  It reminded me of a time when I was being prepped for a surgery and the surgeon asking me about the medications I take.  When asked why I took Thiothixene, an anti-psychotic, I told him that I was Bipolar.  He said, “I think we are all Bipolar.”  Maybe it was an effort to relate to me but it hit me in a “sore spot.”  Everyone has moods, it is true, but being Bipolar is not just being “moody.”  If we who are Bipolar have to endure the stigma of mental illness, at least allow that it is different from being “normal,” and not just some self-indulgent form of self-pity.  So braving the stigma of it all, for I am sure many will stop reading here if they have not already, it seems incumbent on me to educate people.  Bipolar Disorder is a major axis 1 mental illness characterized by extreme highs and lows.  It is one of the most risky mental illness diagnoses because people can die from it.  They suicide during a low.  In Bipolar 1 the sufferer can become manic and while manic, and even while despressed, can become psychotic.  Normal people do not become psychotic except perhaps in their dreams.  Being psychotic means a major break with reality.  It means entering another world that most don’t even know exists.  So, no, we are not all Bipolar.

And, yes, people have fractured views of reality.  But some views are more fractured than others.  There is another “reality” in psychosis.  This other reality exists when one is psychotic. What interests me is that different people who are psychotic have similar experiences, making me think there really IS another reality that is floating around out there.  In this other reality the TV and radio can give you messages directly relevant to your life– so relevant that one begins to think there is some mind-monitoring device in your TV or radio.  And the AC has a microphone that allows you to talk to the world outside one’s window, to the people in the street, and they respond to your commands.  When one has the nerve to venture outside of one’s apartment, a cacaphony of voices tells you positive or negative things.  People (I thought of them as teachers and/or psychics) do not come up to you and speak to you directly for they know you could not handle that.  Rather they speak loudly to one another about your behavior so you can’t help but overhear.  If they are pleased with your behavior at the time, the comments are your reward for getting well.  If they are displeased, criticism comes from everywhere.  There is nowhere to hide the shame you feel because negative feedback is coming at you from every direction.  Then life becomes a hell that does not disappear when you go back home, because you can still hear the voices next door or in the street.  That is just one down side of this other “reality.”  Everything has self-referential meaning.  You are either hearing voices that don’t exist, or you are one step away from that because the voices you hear are actually real, saying real things, but those things all have meaning for you and you alone.  There is no safe place.  No escape.  No privacy.  I was living in an apartment at the time.  How much worse is it to be living in a shelter, hospital, prison or, worse on the street where one is overwhelmed with every kind of stimuli possible!

Synchronicity is everywhere. This is, I suppose, a lower from of altered consciousness. Life alternates between heaven and hell.  That is what I meant by a fragmented view of reality in my poem, Point of View.  One wonders if there is some divine intervention in these states because of the ubiquitousness of synchronicity.  Is this another take on discerning Maya?  I often lament to my husband that I cannot see the world as a dream or Maya and I feel so utterly unenlightened.  And yet, how foolish I am, for many years ago I lived in another reality.  Only now can I see that “reality” IS a consensual dream or “Maya.”

(For a narrative non-fiction account of being Bipolar and Aspie, the quest for sanity and the search for love, please see: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html to purchase my book.)