Guest Post: Love in a Bipolar World by Rebecca

delauthorWhen you find that special person that you know you want to spend the rest of your life with, you have to consider a lot of factors.  If you are bipolar, the list of considerations changes quite a bit.  Should you tell that person up front?  Will it scare them away?  What if you don’t tell them, and you experience depression, anxiety, even mania?

 

I know in my situation, I met a couple of guys before I met my husband, and I was always brutally honest.  I never kept my condition from anyone.  I was sure to make it clear that there was nothing easy about my situation, and there would be ups and downs.  If the discussion ever warranted, I also made sure that they knew that kids were not in my future.

 

Some seemed to think they could handle it, but truthfully couldn’t.  The first time my depression kicked in, they stopped calling.  Others were long gone before I finished the words, bipolar disorder.  Joe was different from the start.  He was kind and caring.  He seemed to accept my issues.  He came from a strong Catholic background, and I knew it would be hard to sell me to his parents.  Particularly with no grandchildren in the mix.

 

It didn’t take very long for Joe to realize that perhaps I wasn’t right for him.  He suddenly dropped out of the picture, and I was left confused and alone.  I hoped my disease wasn’t what scared him off, but deep down, I knew it was.  Not many people know that about us.  Our first time trying to make a go of it, we just didn’t click.  I suffered through a series of mentally and sometimes physically abusive relationships after that.  I convinced myself that this was the best I could do.

 

In May 2001, Joe started calling again.  I was guarded because I didn’t want the past to repeat itself.  My parents were thrilled, especially my mom.  She had always liked Joe and she was constantly worried about the other guys I chose to spend my time with.

 

Joe confessed to me that he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about me.  That a couple of years earlier, he wasn’t grown up enough to understand what challenges I would bring to the table. We worked harder at a relationship this time around, and by the end of July, we were talking about marriage and moving in together.

 

When I look back on my failed relationships, I absolutely cringe.  I should never have settled for the pain and heartache I had to endure.  My self-esteem was so far in the toilet.  I just knew that since I wasn’t truly good enough for anyone, that men could treat me as such.  I just accepted it.  After you subject yourself to this for years, if something good comes along, you can hardly recognize it, let alone believe it’s actually happening.

 

I’m here to tell you that you do not have to allow yourself to be treated like you aren’t worth it.  You are not broken, useless or a failure.  You have just as much to offer this world as anyone who doesn’t suffer from mental illness.  There will probably always be that little voice inside your head telling you that this one is going to walk out on you too.  Don’t let that voice take over!

 

Relationships are hard for anyone.  They are even more difficult on those of us with bipolar.  I’m not going to tell you that it’s always perfect.  Once you find the love of your life, it’s pretty damn close.  Honesty, communication, and laughter.  You must have all of these.  Talk about your feelings!  Give them a voice.  Know that your spouse loves you for you, and for the happiness you bring into their life.  When you get down, don’t do what I’ve done in the past and offer them a way out.  It hurts them more than it hurts you.

 

Anything worth fighting for is hard work, we all know this.  When you find love and acceptance in the eyes of your best friend, you will know true happiness.  Don’t doubt yourself or your relationship.  You will, of course, have ups and downs, there is no way around that.  Everyone does!  Yours will be a different set of challenges, and you must be realistic about that.  Just know that you can do this.

 

 

All of my life, I have struggled to find something that I am actually good at.  I have finally found it.  Loving my husband so completely is my calling in life.  He means everything to me, and I can only hope that each and every person reading this can find that as well.  Being married with mental illness is not impossible.  It takes work, but it is more than worth it.

You can also find Rebecca on Twitter  Facebook  Blog Website 

She is also the author of  It’s not Your Journey

 

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Dear Future President,

delpresinsFor a year now, the presidential candidates have been dodging questions about the problem of mental illness in America. Some will bring it up when talking about gun control and others ridicule the mentally ill.

Well, when is the question going to be asked, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THE PROBLEM FACING AMERICA IN REGARDS TO THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM?”

Donald Trump is going to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out and send the people here illegally back to where they came from. Well, Donald Trump, you can’t keep the mentally ill from entering the United States because many of us are already here legally. You can’t send us back either. Where would you send us?

The mental health facilities are so overcrowded that people can’t get the help they need.

People are too embarrassed to get help because politicians and the media contribute to the stigma that prevents people from getting the help.

People are not educated as to what signs to look for and where to go to get help. One in four people in America have a mental illness- that means that everyone most likely at least knows someone who has a mental illness.

So, what are you going to do Trump, Clinton, and Sanders?

I think the people who have mental illnesses, their families, and anyone who has been affected by a mental illness due to tragedy deserve a right to know.

I can give you some answers since you can’t seem to come up with any of your own. At least if you have, you have not shared them.

1. Ask the mentally ill and their families what is lacking and suggest what could help.

2. Ask the employees at mental health facilities what they see as problems and see how they would fix it

3. Consider bills that are in Congress right now

4. Go visit psychiatric hospitals and see how awful most of them are. The patients are being treated worse than animals and not getting the care they need. The Emergency Rooms are filled with people who can’t get help.

4. Visit the prisons and see how many people who have a mental illness are there instead of a psychiatric facility

5. Stop the revolving door for prisons and hospitals by having inexpensive if not free care after someone leaves

6. Finance things like Medical First Aid, Peer Support Specialists, NAMI, DBSA, and Mental Health Association instead of having them rely on donations

7. Ask other countries what they are doing

8. Revamp NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health)

You can’t just throw money at the problem. You can’t keep dodging questions, you definitely should not add to the stigma like I have heard some of you do. There are 25% of Americans who struggle with mental illnesses and we deserve to know how you would handle the crisis before we cast our votes.

The topic of mental health deserves so much more than any candidate or media outlet gives it.

I suggest you:

-INVESTIGATE

-Ask for solutions from people who are in the trenches

-Do SOMETHING! Talk about SOLUTIONS

-PROMISE that you have things you are going to do to help the mental health system within your first 100 days in office.

I hope to hear the topic of mental illness talked about at the debates and I think that it is not only the responsibility of the politicians, but also the media. Don’t just let them talk about it- Make them come up with a policy as to what they are going to do. It is just as important to America as any other issue.

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Do You Know the Signs of Mental Illness?

You never know when you, a loved one, or a stranger on the street might have a mental illness.  In a time where mental illness is a huge problem in our society, it is important that every citizen does their part in helping prevent future tragedies at the hands of someone who has a mental illness.

The mental health system is in crisis!   There is a shortage of hospital beds that result in people not getting the treatment they need. This results in homelessness, them being jailed, or ending up doing something awful that hurts themselves or others.

People don’t get help many times because of the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Most people with a mental illness can recover with the right help and it is important that someone suffering with a mental illness gets the help they need.

A huge part of what all individuals need to know is where a person can go to get help.  Before that, however, they need to know what signs and symptoms to look for.

Today I came across a very promising initiative.   It encourages people to learn the 5 signs of mental illness.  They are asking people to join others in signing a pledge that they will learn these signs and share them with everyone they know.

Please join The Campaign to Change Direction in learning these signs. You could save a life!

Five Signs

delper

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Picture Credits: The Campaign to Change Direction

 

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What People are Doing for Mental Health Awareness Month

 

mhamMay is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Below are some some things that I have come across that people are doing to recognize this.  Many of these things you can do very easily to help raise awareness about mental health and mental illness.

 

 

Note: If you would like to be added to the list, please send  Facebook  message or direct Twitter message.

mhm

 

Picture Credit: Out of the Ashes   and Unknown (Found on Twitter) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: 10 Things I’ve Learned Since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder by Jake

deljaThe things I’ve learned since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder:

1) Naps are critical. Whether it’s because of a mood swing, medications or being tired,  I often try to sleep through the worst parts.
2) I’m still trying to grasp the concept that people take drugs to get high. My medications make me feel normal.
3) My mental health is more important than any situation. If something doesn’t feel right. I leave.
4) Keeping a regular sleep pattern is a necessity. The more mature my condition gets, the more being tired affects everything I do.
5) Bipolar isn’t just a mental illness. It has some very real physical symptoms as well. Stomach pains and headaches are very common for me. And are mostly stress induced.
6) You tend to live in the moment. Which makes it hard to plan for things. Because you’re busy caring for yourself in the moment.
7) Your extremely in tune with your emotions. After 8 years of psychotherapy, I’m a practical dictionary of coping skills.
8) You need to take care of yourself in the moment and find little things that are natural antidepressants. For me it’s almond M&Ms, Mountain Dew and pineapple orange juice. Little things like that help get me over humps.
9) Whenever you bring a new friend into your life, you realize that one day you’re going to have to have “the talk.”
10) I’m the one who has the illness. People’s judgments of me are largely irrelevant. They don’t know and have no idea what it’s like to wake up in my world.

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Movies & TV Shows with Bipolar Disorder Characters

moviesThese movies and television shows are not in any particular order.  Some are fictional and other movies are more factual including some biographies. 

Some of them do a better job of depicting someone who struggles with bipolar disorder. 

  • Touched with Fire:  Two poets who have bipolar disorder meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall in love. Ref
  • Infinitely Bipolar Bear: Cameron takes care of his two  daughters while his wife attends graduate school out of town.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Pat has bipolar disorder and has moved in with his parents after he is discharged from a psychiatric hospital.
  • Mr. Jones: Mr. Jones has bipolar disorder. During one of his manic episodes he jumps up on stage during a concert and ends up being arrested.  He also struggles with suicidal depression. Ref
  • The Hours: Virginia, who has experienced several nervous breakdowns and suffers from bipolar disorder, feels trapped in her home, intimidated by servants and constantly under the eye of her husband who has begun a publishing business, Hogarth Press, at home to stay close to her. Ref
  • Shameless: Ian, like his mom Monica, has been diagnosed with BIPOLAR DISORDER and  he currently refuses to visit the doctor and does not believe he needs to take medication. For these reasons his behavior has been erratic and out of control, worrying his family. Ref Ref
  • Michael Clayton Arthur is the lead attorney in a class-action case.  His struggle with bipolar disorder makes things harder for his colleague, Michael, as they deal with the case. Ref
  • Call Me Anna Patty Duke plays herself in this movie.  Growing up she struggled with bipolar disorder, but was not diagnosed until 1982.  Patty Duke’s Biography
  • My Friend Paul: Paul is diagnosed in prison with bipolar disorder.  After he is released, he moves in his friend and filmmaker Jonathan. However, Paul’s manic rantings threaten the filmmaker’s own equilibrium and  he begs Paul to return to the psychiatric hospital. Ref
  • The Informant! Struggling with bipolar disorder, Mark confesses to the FBI that he and his company are doing illegal business. The stresses of having to wear a wire and organizing surveillance cause his meltdown.
  • The Flying Scotsman: This story is based on Graeme Obree, an amateur cyclist, who struggles with crippling bipolar disorder.
  • In the Best Interest of the Children A woman struggling with bipolar disorder while raising her five children eventually leads to the children being taken away from her.
  • Shine Biography about pianist David Helfgott who had bipolar disorder and spent years in mental institutions.  Ref 
  • Surviving Family As Terry struggles to rebuild her relationship with her older sister, she learns that her niece has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her aunt helps her  begin to come to terms with the truth behind her mother’s life and death, and her father’s alcoholism. Ref
  • Sweethearts Arliss meets Jasmine on a blind date at a coffee house, but it turns out Jasmine has bipolar disorder and is  carrying a gun contemplating suicide.
  • Black Box (tv series)Catherine Black  is a famous neurologist who secretly has bipolar disorder  and the only person who knows is her psychiatrist who has been a maternal figure for Catherine  since her mother, who also suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide. Ref
  • Homeland  (tv series) Carrie is a CIA officer who, like her father, struggles with  bipolar disorder. Her dad also has bipolar disorder.  Although her family knows, she is able to keep her illness a secret from others for a long time during the season.
  • Empire (tv series) Andre, the oldest of the the Lyon family has bipolar disorder. He’s power hungry and hopes to run the empire some day. Leah, Dwight’s deceased mother, also had bipolar disorder Ref
  • The Big C (tv series)  Sean, Cathy’s brother, suffers from bipolar disorder starts and taking medications because he wants to be more stable for his unborn child.  He was homeless and refused treatment up until then. Ref
  • ER (tv series) Abby has a mother with bipolar disorder who comes and lives with her.
  • Law and Order SVU  (tv series) Elliot’s mother has bipolar disorder and he finds out his daughter has it too when she has a manic phase and ends up prison.
  • Six Feet Under (tv series)  Billy, Brenda’s brother, has bipolar disorder
  • Shutter Island Marshalls, while investigating  a psychiatric hospital come  across Daniels who might have killed his bipolar disorder wife after she supposedly killed their three children. Ref
  • Next To Normal a mother struggles with  bipolar disorder and attempts to not let it affect her family Ref
  • Manic  Chad has bipolar disorder and forms a friendship with Lyle while in a psychiatric facility. The two make plans to go to Amsterdam with the money from Chad’s trust fund.

Below are other movies that are believed to be about bipolar disorder. However, the viewer has to come to that conclusion on their own based on the plot of the movie and its characters.

A Fine Madness

Blue Sky

Cobb

Splendor in the Grass 

Rocks in My Pockets 

Prozac Nation

Tamil Films: Aarohanam and 3

 

 

 

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The History of Bipolar Disorder Infographic

History of Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar Disorder Statistics Infographic

Bipolar Disorder Stats Infographic

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I Care for Someone Who Has a Mental Illness and Want to do More to Help Them

care for mentally illMany people who have a mental illness or have a family member or loved one with a mental illness know that the mental system needs a lot of work.

In order for the mental health system to change, we need to start at the top. In order to fight for your loved one, changes are going to be needed.  In order for changes to be made, there is not much we, as the mentally ill and their families, can do but to go to our legislators and ask for them to listen to our concerns, give us a chance to ask questions, and be patient while we offer solutions.

Many people like to complain about how their loved one is being mistreated or how awful it is that they can’t get help.  They often feel hopeless because it just seems like nothing is ever going to change.

Change won’t happen until we, the people who care about the mentally ill, start taking action.

I am not a political person.  I just want things to change. Sitting around complaining about the system and listening to others complain about the system is not going to change anything.  Being supportive of someone with a mental illness is important, but think how yours and their lives would be different if more research was done and their mental illness had a cure and/or there was more of a support system for them.

The only way I can think of to change things is to contact our legislators and politicians. I don’t think that is political. I think that is advocacy and caring about the mentally ill, many who can’t help themselves. Advocacy is just publicly supporting something.

Yes, contacting the President, the current candidates, senators and congressmen is contacting political figures. However, I don’t think that makes me a politician. That makes me someone who cares.

Please help me in making a difference in the lives of the mentally ill.  

It will take ONE MINUTE.  Copy/Paste or type out the words “PLEASE TALK ABOUT HOW YOU WOULD SOLVE THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS” Then, write on a candidate’s wall, your own wall, or simply tweet it.  You could also spend the minute to ask others to do the same.  

If we can get the candidates to talk about the mental health crisis and what they would do to solve it, that would be a great step in changing the system.  It does not make me a politician to want to make the lives better for the mentally ill. It makes me a compassionate, caring person who wants things better for the people who are struggling with a mental illness and can’t get help, are being stigmatized, and are mistreated and discriminated against.

I consider myself an advocate.  An advocate is someone who publicly recommends or supports. It is not someone who wants to be a politician. I don’t even want to talk to politicians. I just know that without doing so, nothing will change and the mentally ill will keep having to struggle.

 

Candidates-Do you care about the 25% of Americans who have a mental Illness? PROVE IT!

Mental Health Should be a Priority

40 Million Voters Ignored

Why June 3rd Is an Important Day in the US, Who is Invited, and What is the Agenda?

Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses Need to Unite

What can a mental health advocate do to help people with mental illnesses?

What is required to be a Mental Health Care Advocate?

Encouragement from a Political Mental Health Advocate and News Channel

Mental Health Awareness Day & Thanks to Some Governors

Appeal to the media and politicians: Does anyone care that it is Mental Illness Awareness Week in America?

Major Overhaul Needed Re: Mental Health System

 

Candidates-Do you care about the 25% of Americans who have a mental Illness? PROVE IT!

Mental Health Should be a Priority

40 Million Voters Ignored

Why June 3rd Is an Important Day in the US, Who is Invited, and What is the Agenda?

Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses Need to Unite

What can a mental health advocate do to help people with mental illnesses?

What is required to be a Mental Health Care Advocate?

Encouragement from a Political Mental Health Advocate and News Channel

Mental Health Awareness Day & Thanks to Some Governors

Appeal to the media and politicians: Does anyone care that it is Mental Illness Awareness Week in America?

 

 

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How it can take ONE MINUTE to Start to Change the Mental Health System

mental health advocate

Just think of how loud our voices would be if we all spent ONE MINUTE of our day asking a candidate (or several) to talk about how to SOLVE the mental health crisis. Getting them to talk about it is an important step in making the lives of the mentally ill and their families better.

It literally takes seconds to type or copy/paste these words:  TALK ABOUT HOW TO SOLVE THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS.  In the rest of the seconds of ONE MINUTE you could get that message out in several ways: Put it  on your own page, put on a candidate’s page, tweet it, tweet it to a particular candidate and ask others to share/RT it, or write it as part of your  blog.

Do you know why the candidates are not listening to our complaints about the mental health crisis? They are not taking it seriously because the advocates won’t come together and take ONE MINUTE to send one message.  We want them to talk about the mental health crisis, but we are not joining hands as advocates to send the message that we want them to talk about it.

By not joining together, we are doing exactly what they are counting on: NOTHING because they think we are too CRAZY  to figure out a way to join together to send a message.  Well, they are right- So far, we haven’t joined hands and fought  with one voice.

I know that advocates want something done and they all work hard every day to do so.  Now, during the election, is a great time to get our voices heard.  Please take that ONE MINUTE now and type  or copy and paste this message and ask that others do too.

TALK ABOUT HOW TO SOLVE THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

Please don’t just read this and think that it’s a good idea. Please act on it. Spend ONE MINUTE right now to help send a message:  We need them to take the mentally ill and the crisis seriously. Don’t let them win because mental health advocates can’t join forces.

 

As a strong advocate, I am MAD!  I am no longer mad at the candidates who won’t talk about the mental health crisis. I am REALLY MAD at the mental health advocates for not joining together to send a message to Washington.

For over two years now, I have pleaded with the mental health communities that deal with mental illnesses to unite. It is the only way we, as mental health advocates, are going to get our voices heard.

Instead, all the advocacy groups go about their own way trying to raise awareness about their particular cause and members of the health communities complain about the mental health system.

Also, the mentally ill and those who love them, want things to change. They want better medical care, they want less wait time in Emergency Rooms, they want insurance companies to cover more services, and they want to be treated better in mental health facilities.  However, they will say they don’t want to get political.  How in the world are those things going to change unless they get political?

 

 

 

 

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