Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Mixed” Up

Things have taken a bad turn via a rough mixed episode. I am unable to write very clearly, but wanted to note that if things don’t improve soon, hospitalization may be imminent and posting through next week may not be possible. I would really appreciate some good vibes… thanks for your support, hopefully things will bounce back soon.

The Heart of July 4th

Propaganda of the American Colonies

Propaganda of the American Colonies

I would never refer to myself as an ardent patriot, but I do (on occasion) have the opportunity to spend time researching history and then living in a manner that our forefathers (and mothers) were accustomed to. The time of the American Revolutionary War is one that is of particular interest to me.

What is it about the period leading up to the war and the transition into a unified country I find so fascinating? Well, while others are roasting their hot dogs today and lighting off fireworks, I’m thinking about why July 4th is a holiday in the first place.

It is a story of a group of people being taken advantage of; an example of a true tale of the underdogs fighting for the rights they believe they deserve until they have achieved them.

This is an important story, and though it is one that comes up again and again in US history focusing on many different groups of people, this is a story that is still in its early stages when it comes to our story.

The American Revolution itself faced difficulty in reaching unity within the colonies. It provided a period of thought and contemplation about what basic rights should be afforded to all people, and (what people usually remember) also included a brutal struggle through the physical act of fighting.

You might be surprised to hear it, but I see a lot of similarities between the fight for American independence and the fight for fair, competent mental health services in our country and the need to bring people together on this issue. I don’t expect our journey to involve a navy or muskets, but I’m sure that is for the better!

The snake, for example, in the propaganda banner above is broken down into pieces representing each of the colonies that needed to come together to create a unified force. I think we face similar issues when attempting to unify people behind the cause of mental health because many of us have different viewpoints, different backgrounds, different disorders, different symptoms! Still, if we can find a way to work together we will find we are a force to be reckoned with; a snake you’d better not step on again!

Guerilla Warfare

Guerilla Warfare

During the American Revolution the British soldiers greatly outnumbered the colonist militia, so the militia changed the rules of war; hiding in wooded areas in an attempt to shield themselves while making an attack.

Most of us with mental illness have felt like we have needed to hide in order to keep ourselves safe, and being smart about when we share our experiences or staying calm and choosing our battles is a strategy that has already began to show some improvement in our nation’s social dialogue.

I know that while I feel comfortable coming forward and being open with everyone in my life about my experiences, I understand there are others in situations (like in a questionable workplace, family, or school environment) who have to be very careful about the battles they choose to fight and when they can fight them. I know these situations can be distressing, but I don’t consider this to be a drawback because when a hidden warrior chooses to finally make themselves seen there is a big impact.

Community

Community

One of the things I’ve found is that the act of hiding makes discovering a sense of community ten times more rewarding. This is part of what makes us strong; we truly appreciate much of what each other has to offer. Though I know there is still a little work that needs to go into unification for our cause, our community is constantly growing.

I expect that this 4th that there will be picnics and a sense of community and giddy children lighting off fireworks in the streets, but I hope that today you will also think about the reason behind it all.

No, it isn’t our right to bear arms, nor our hatred of paying taxes. It isn’t about guys in powdered wigs or military prowess. July 4th is about being someone who has struggled, someone who has been walked on, and demanding a better life.

If nothing else, that thought inspires me because I see myself in itIf that is what it truly means to be an American, maybe I’ve been a patriot all along?

Grass

Jagged little pill: has the recovery narrative gone too far?

Sarah:

There has been a post floating around right now that sheds a little light on something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Since I couldn’t have said it better myself, I’m pleased to pass this one on. Thanks!

Originally posted on purplepersuasion:

I feel that in writing this post, which has been brewing for a long time, I am saying something that some might see as controversial. So let me start by making something clear. This post is not intended to criticise the work of the big charities – I am a proud member of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and have undertaken both paid and voluntary work for both organisations. I have also volunteered for Time to Change and made a TTC pledge at last year’s Mind Media Awards. A huge amount of good work is being done on a daily basis to challenge public perceptions of mental health and to normalise discussions of the topic. Time to Change is entirely right to highlight just how peculiar it is that mental health stigma continues to loom so large given that a quarter of the population is thought experience some form of…

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((Pause))

Yesterday meant the second ER visit in two months. Apparently the problem I have been having is with rupturing ovarian cysts. Not the most pleasant situation(s), but preferable to anything that might require surgery. Between the pain and narcotics I am not exactly on the ball, so consider this a brief pause on posting and comment replies until I can do more than lay around on Vicodin. Cheers!

The Onion Mocks Therapy, We’re Not Happy About It

Sarah:

Normally I’m a big fan of the onion, but this was a tad upsetting. When does joking about mental health go too far?

Originally posted on Girls Can't Resist:

In an article titled “Supposed Adult Pays Man To Sit In Room And Listen To Him Talk About His Feelings,” the Onion mocks therapy and in doing so makes mental illness seem like a joke.

Here’s the piece in full:

BRIDGEPORT, CT—Reportedly going twice a week to his special safe place where he’s told he doesn’t have to be afraid, local accountant and supposedly grown adult Carl Rowley confirmed Wednesday that he pays a man to sit right next to him in a room and listen to him talk all about his feelings. “It’s really helpful to talk through my issues out loud with someone who has an objective viewpoint,” said the feeble approximation of a mature self-respecting grownup, describing the hour-long sessions in which he nestles himself on a big comfy couch with a soft pillow and tells the nice man how he’s sad and lonely and…

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How to create a self-harm safety box…

Sarah:

An extremely insightful post about one method to avoid self harm, I love this idea!

Originally posted on All that I am, all that I ever was...:

Once upon a time, when I was much a much younger (and sexier) man than I am today, I used to own a box. On a purely aesthetic level, there was nothing special about this box. It was just a run-of-the-mill shoebox decorated with Doctor Who stickers, newspaper cuttings and images of the great Australian actress, Toni Pearen.

What was special about this box was on the inside, for I’d filled it with colouring pencils, rubber bands, bath salts, candy, a mini-colouring book, a couple of novels, a DVD and some (slightly more) risqué images of the great Australian actress, Toni Pearen.

For this box was my safety box; a box I could turn to when my self-harm urges grew so intense that I needed some serious distraction to stop me from injuring myself.

Over the years I owned this box I lost track of how many times it prevented…

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Let’s Talk: The Language of Mental Illness

Sarah:

Shout out to my Canadian friends, we’re all in this together!

Originally posted on climbing the crazy tree:

“Bad enough to be ill, but to feel compelled to deny the very thing that, in its worst and most active state, defines you is agony indeed.”

― Sally Brampton, Shoot The Damn Dog: A Memoir Of Depression

So today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day (There’s also the Time to Talk Day based in the UK on February 6th, not sure why we didn’t all join forces). I firmly believe that talking about mental health is a critical to improving the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. We have gotten a lot better about talking to mental illness and becoming more accepting of those with mental illness, but there’s still an echo of the belief that individuals with more common disorders such as depression and anxiety are “making it up”/”making a problem for themselves” or that they just need to “cheer up” and “stop worrying.” So we have all…

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Mental Health Bloggers Widen Their Support Systems on WordPress.com

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

When we start a blog instead of simply keeping a private diary, it’s because we want to connect with others. When you start to blog, you join a community.

It comes as no surprise that many bloggers are drawn to online communities as a place to work through challenges — to heal and process, find others with similar experiences, and seek (or offer) support. There are lots of supportive communities around WordPress.com: women dealing with breast cancer, people managing diabetes, parents of children with unique needs, and many, many more. Throughout January, we’ll be zooming in on how bloggers use WordPress.com to support their health and wellness.

Today, on the heels of the Blog for Mental Health 2014 kick-off, we’re focusing on mental health. Read on for a look at the many ways WordPress.com bloggers use their sites to improve their own lives, and the lives of others who have…

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SSDI Prep – A Doctor’s Testimony

I got a call from my SSDI lawyer this week. Basically he wants to add the testimonies of at least one doctor to my case files, preferably the psychiatrist I’m currently seeing, if not another as well.

The trouble with this is that 99% of doctors will not do this for free. And when I say not for free, I mean it costs several hundreds of dollars for each doctor.

My lawyer assumed (correctly) that I have virtually nothing in terms of money but told me my chance of being awarded a favorable verdict will require more proof from a doctor. 

Obviously, I believe him, and though I often scrape by doing whatever it takes to survive, this is a situation where I need to do whatever I can to win. At this point I’ve put over a year of my life into this process, and it is important for me to feel like I’ve done everything I could do to increase my chances of coming through it on top.

(Ok, so I’ve been watching too much survivor, and clearly that doesn’t mean things like lying or cheating or stealing, just the general sort of MacGyvering I do to figure out how to solve the (there isn’t enough) money problem.)

As of right now, I am waiting to hear back from the attorney about how much it would cost for my doctor to do the review I need, and then I will figure out from there weather I can make that work or need to find another solution.

Ultimately the answer will probably be another form of deprecation. Giving up my phone to save what I need to, or not eating out for the next six months, or whatever. Realistically, this is the sort of thing that comes standard with my life, and it isn’t something I’m complaining about, just stating. Of course, if I can figure out a way to have my cake and eat it too, I will.

I think the point of all of this is really to convey how much our current social security disability system requires one to give up before offering them a chance to be taken care of. I mean, I would gladly give the doctor everything I have if it guaranteed me a social security award, but that isn’t the case. When applying for social security means living for over a year without any income and relying on the people around you to take care of you simply for a chance to make your case to the government, I must say it is a very hard road to go down.

I realize that people say that if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it… but is this system causing the people with the most need extra unnecessary hardship?

In any case, I knew this was what I would be getting into when I started this process a year ago, and that is why I waited for so long to give it a go. I wanted to be sure that this was the right road to be going down, and despite the hardships I am still sure. Still pressing forward, figuring it out as I go.

Five Ways to Support Someone With Mental Illness During the Holidays

The holiday season can be stressful for the best of us, and for those (like myself) living with mental illness it can be extremely challenging. I feel like one of the questions I hear most is, “how can I be supportive of my friend or family member with mental illness during the holidays?” Here are five great places to start!

5. Invite them over

Many of the people I know who are struggling this time of year don’t get along well with their families, and therefore have no place to go during the holidays. If you can invite them over for Christmas dinner with your family that would be swell, but even just inviting them over to spend time together one on one or in a small group around that time can be incredibly uplifting when it can be hard to get out of the house. That said,

4. Don’t take it personally if they don’t make it over

Many times, just the invitation of having someplace to go is nice, but sometimes this prospect can be overwhelming or our current mental state isn’t exactly polished enough to feel comfortable in a large social setting. Our discomfort often arises from our moods, anxiety, or medications, not the person kind enough to invite us over. If you’ve invited someone over to your party, gathering, or other social event, please remember that if we say no, it isn’t a reflection on you.

3. Encourage them to arrive late, leave early, or take a breather from the party

I know I’ve often felt pressure from folks at parties when I expressed that I needed to leave early (often because of mood swings or side effects from medications) and being encouraging of your friend or family member during a social gathering to arrive or leave when they need to, or even to take a breather outside to get out of the crowd can be extremely helpful. When I know people are grateful that I came to an event, even if just for a little while, I’m much more likely to feel comfortable enough to go again.

2. Try to avoid the pressure of gift-giving

While many people with mental illness do perfectly fine for themselves monetarily, there are also many of us who can’t work because of our situation. Though it is always nice to receive a gift, it can feel very stressful knowing you don’t have anything to give in return. My family has done something this year that has really, really helped me with this; they’ve expressed they’re more interested in spending time with me than receiving gifts. Putting focus on being able to spend time with someone that you love or care about instead of the gift-giving aspect of the holidays can be a big stress relief.

1. Let them know how much they mean to you

Maybe the person you want to feel supported is someone you see regularly, and it is easy to tell them how much they mean to you. If not, a phone call is a great option, or even sending a card with a note inside in the mail. Personally, I shy away from messages through electronic means (email, text, and facebook) as I find they feel more impersonal and actually make me feel more isolated and depressed. If you’re sending a message of love, why not make it feel as personal as possible!