Guest Post: What it’s like to be Bipolar by Sherry

delsherryPlease don’t ever take your mental health for granted.  You have no idea what it is like to have every thought, behavior, and emotion questioned by those around you.  Sherry sure is laughing a lot — she might be manic.  Sherry seems a little down today — she might be depressed.  Sherry is angry at me — she must be sick again.  I can have NO legitimate feelings, because they are all questioned if they are the least bit different.  If I have an argument with a person, my anger is never viewed as legitimate.  Instead, “she’s getting sick again.”  I have a good productive day — “she’s getting manic.”

How wonderful it must be for “normal” people.  To not be second-guessed at every turn.  Can you imagine what it would be like to never be taken seriously?  Because it might be Sherry’s “illness talking.”  If I have a differing opinion — “Sherry’s not thinking straight.”

This can’t be my life.  What in the heck did I ever do to deserve this?  All I want is to be treated like everyone else.  If you have a problem with me, come to ME.  Don’t pull a family member or friend aside and say, ” I wish she hadn’t done that.”  If you are concerned about me, tell ME.  Yes, I am fragile, but  I DO take into consideration what others think.

How wonderful it must be to have a “legitimate” illness — like diabetes, or heart disease — where others don’t look at you and think, “Sherry just needs to get over it.”  “She could get well if she really wanted to.”  When you have a mental illness, it is viewed not as a medical problem, but as a personality flaw.  A character weakness.

The truth?  I AM more fragile than most people.  I DON’T bounce back from emotional pain as well as other people.  I feel hurt much more deeply than most.  It’s all part of my illness, and it stinks.

This  bipolar disorder has robbed me of friends, relationships, children, a career, and a decent self-image.  I hate myself — why shouldn’t everyone else?  I can’t even remember the last time I felt glad that I was even born.  Every time I get better, I am haunted by the thought of “how long will I be okay this time?”  Three years?  Three months?  Imagine the most horrible time in your life, and knowing that it will happen to you again and again and again.

Imagine being held responsible for things you said and did when you were sick that you had absolutely no control over.  Knowing that even though people say, “I know you didn’t mean it” — that they will ALWAYS remember.  And knowing that every time you get well again, you have to apologize to everyone you harmed while sick — EVEN though you weren’t in control.  It’s not my fault that I’m bipolar, but yet I am blamed for every hurtful thing I said and did when I was sick.

Do I sound bitter?  Absofreakinlutely.  I didn’t ask for this.  I don’t deserve this.  This can’t be what my life was supposed to be like.  But everyone has something, and this just happens to be MY cross to bear.  So I will cry into my pillow, begging God to either take this cross, or take my life.  Either way, it’s a win-win.  I have had wonderful happy times in my life, but the good times were NEVER as good as the bad times were bad.

I don’t want pity.  I want understanding.  I want compassion.  I don’t want my emotions, behaviors, or thoughts questioned every time they are somewhat different from the mainstream.  I have been very angry this week for personal reasons, and I had every right to be angry.  But instead of letting me be pissed off, because I have a RIGHT to my emotions, my anger is viewed as “irrational” or “unwarranted”.  I will ALWAYS have people questioning me.  I will ALWAYS have people that see me as “crazy”.  I will ALWAYS have people talk about me behind my back.  But I sure as hell don’t have to like it.  I want to live as normal a life as possible.  I want the RIGHT to FEEL and THINK and ACT, and be taken seriously.

Now you have a glimpse of what it’s like to be bipolar.  I wouldn’t wish one day of that hell on my worst enemy.

Note:  At the time I wrote this, I had every right to be angry, as I mentioned in the text.  I was forced to change my work hours to a less convenient time because a co-worker didn’t feel comfortable working with someone who was bipolar.  I was so hurt that my boss at the time, who normally fought so hard for people who fell through the cracks, decided to cater to that co-worker.

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What can trigger mania?

triggers of maniaBelow are triggers that can cause a manic episode.  It is important to be aware of your triggers.  Knowing what your triggers are could help reduce your chances of getting manic.

Stress                                 Not enough sleep

Alcohol                              Failed Relationships

Drugs                                 Change in Seasons

Pregnancy                         Lack of Schedule

Antidepressants              Deadlines                           Money Troubles             Traveling

Pregnancy                        Loss of a job                        Loss of loved one          Noise

Routine Disruption        Unhealthy diet                   Lack of exercise             Moving

Loss of Job                       Changes in medication    Schedule Change           Caffeine

Menstruation                  Major Events                      Surprises                         Arguing

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Is Tom Sullivan right? Is bipolar disorder a fad? Are there people on disability who shouldn’t be?

deldis3Tom Sullivan, a Fox news contributor, stated that he thinks that bipolar disorder ” is the latest fad” and that “we all have good days and we all have bad and I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.” Story

He added that bipolar disorder is “something made up by the mental health business just to be able to give people prescriptions and keep them coming in, and keeping you — paying them money.”

deldis2I agree that many of the people who are on disability shouldn’t be entitled to benefits. I also strongly believe that pharmaceutical companies are preying on people with mental illnesses and many people are over medicated.  Many doctors get kick backs by prescribing their medications.

I actually also believe that bipolar disorder has become somewhat of a fad and that people are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a catch all for people who are struggling in any way.  I also think that some celebrities announce they have a mental illness for publicity reasons.

By misdiagnosing people as having bipolar disorder when they are depressed occasionally or might have slight mood swings, hurts the people who truly do have bipolar disorder  and should be getting disability benefits.  It bothers me when someone tells me that they have bipolar disorder when they have never have had a manic episode and/ or been hospitalized. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness yet so many people who say they have bipolar disorder are not seriously ill.

Although I think Tom Sullivan was wrong in clumping everyone with mental illnesses as scam artists and part of the latest fad, I do understand why he would come to this conclusion.  There are many people out there who are told by their doctors or have diagnosed themselves with bipolar disorder who simply do not have it.  They may struggle with depression or have slight mood swings, but they do not have bipolar disorder.

There are mild forms of bipolar disorder like Cyclothymia  and Bipolar II Disorder.  I don’t think that these should qualify people  to get on disability easily.

People with bipolar disorder do not get hospitalized for mania because they want to.  They don’t deal with the mistreatment of patients at psychiatric facilities to get on a disability.  They do not choose to have a mental illness that is so debilitating.  They don’t take medications that have serious side effects because they want to either.  I doubt anyone with a  serious mental illness would ever wish their illness on anyone.  I would think that most do not want to be on disability either.

Bipolar disorder has become the latest fad in many ways. However, Tom Sullivan needs to learn more about serious mental illnesses along with many people in the media. By doing so, they could help people rather than contributing to the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness. They could educate people where to get help and let them know it is okay to seek help.

To learn more about bipolar disorder go the National Institute of Mental Health

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Tom Sullivan: Does Fox discriminate against people with mental illnesses?

tom sullivanI am starting to wonder if Fox does not like people with mental illnesses. The recent story of  Fox news host, Tom Sullivan, telling a caller that her illness is made up  is not the first time that Fox has added to the stigma of mental illness. It is not the first time they have discriminated against people with mental illness. They allow the people who work there to do and say things against people with mental illnesses with no punishment.

Sullivan said that he thought people with mental illnesses are just saying they have a mental illness for attention. I have to wonder if Fox News is allowing such behavior by their staff for attention to help their ratings.  He also thinks they are lazy and just saying they have a mental illness to get disability.  I think that Fox News is lazy not to research about mental illnesses and does not do anything when people who represent their network say discriminatory things.

Like I said, this is not the first time that Fox has made things harder for people with mental illnesses.

There was the incident with Shepard Smith where he called Robin Williams a coward for committing suicide. My reaction: Robin Williams a Coward? Apology NOT accepted!

Then there was the incident with Bill O’Reilly where he talked about how another violent episode because of mental illness was making America look bad.  My Reaction to Bill O’Reilly’s Opinion Regarding Mental Illness

I have heard people who work for Fox use  words like schizo  instead of crazy.  They have used mental illness as synonymous for crazy too.  (“The real mental illness is coming out of the White House.”)  Using terms like these so loosely are wrong and contributes to the stigma.

When is Fox going to stop adding to the stigma? Do they not know that by not doing anything to punish their staff when they say such things could potentially prevent  people from getting help?  Do they not know that these people who don’t get help because of the stigma could potentially commit suicide or possibly hurt someone else?

They are so quick to mention that someone who has committed a crime has a mental illness. What they don’t say is that less than 1% of those with mental illnesses are violent. They also don’t’ use the opportunity to educate people and let them know where to get help.

I think what Fox has allowed when it comes to mental illness is appalling.  If someone there had said something negative about someone who was black or was a homosexual, would things be different?  Fox News would never be able to get away with calling someone from those groups lazy or downplay  the things they face in any way.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when people from the media who say negative things about people with mental illnesses will  suffer consequences.   1 in 4 people in America have a mental illness. I find it very hard to believe that there isn’t anyone who works for Fox doesn’t know someone with a mental illness.  When will they speak up about what the person they know endures? When will they let the network know the harm they cause for those who struggle with mental illnesses?

The media does not help when it comes to the stigma of mental illness. I would now have to say that Fox is the worst!

Let them know how you feel:

Twitter: @FoxTV @sullivanradio

Facebook: Fox News  and/or Tom Sullivan 

Email: tomsullivanradio@foxnews.com

delstigma

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Guest Post: Interview with Author Michelle May Krack

delmichelleMichelle May Krack is the author of “Michelle May Crack” 

She also has a Facebook page and Twitter account.

1. How long has it been since your diagnosis?
25 years ago, age 31, I was married 12 years and my children at the time were 11, 9, 7, 2.

2. What led you to advocate for mental health?
Because I want to help fight the amount of stigma involved with mental illnesses. My experiences as a mental health patient made me realize there needed to be more support for myself and others with mental illness.

3. How do you advocate for mental health awareness?
I am a peer recovery advocate at the PEACE Zone peer-run recovery center helping others in the community with mental illness. It’s a safe haven to offer support for hope and recovery.

4. What mental health organizations are you involved with that support advocacy?

NAMI, as a presenter for its Family to Family Program, and I was recently awarded the Mental Health America of Indiana 2014 Consumer Advocate Award.

5. Who do you advocate personally in day-to-day life?

I share my story of hope and recovery at local hospitals with the PEACE Zone outreach program. I have written a book, “Michelle May Crack”, a story that shares advocacy along with life struggles with mental illness and offers hope for recovery. 

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Public Hospital in Williamsburg, VA October 1773

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Note: All pictures taken at Public Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia

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Writings from the Mother of Bipolar Bandit Part 8: A Mental Health Advocate Lives On

mom gazeboIt has been so hard to write this blog as it is just another way that it confirms  my mom, Sue Lande,  is only in my heart and mind from this point forward.  I will no longer be able to email her, call her, or see her when I need encouragement and advice.

My mom, one of the best advocates I know for mental illness died November 16th. It is still hard to say or think. It does not even seem like reality yet.

She  blogged in hopes that other parents could learn from her mistakes and be encouraged when their children are struggling with mental illness.

She was my mental health advocate for over 25 years after I was first diagnosed and also advocated for others afflicted by mental illness who she did not even know. When she saw injustice, she was ready to fight for the rights of those with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses.

She also helped by giving input to local meetings that dealt with mental health and often voiced her opinions and even got upset enough to try and do something about some things. She encouraged and was proud of me when I wrote letters to the editor regarding mental illness and they got published.

She tried to help my friends and family understand my illness so they could help and accept me.

She helped  me organize an event called Embrace Life Day last year in honor of mental illness awareness week.  It was very successful and it could not have been done without her help.

It is a hard thing to say, but…Mom, I love you and will miss you always!  You are in my heart, but there is such a void that I don’t ever see being filled.

I know that all the work that you have done as a mental health advocate will not be done in vain. You tended to work behind the scenes when it came to helping others. You were humble and wanted no recognition. However, I want you to know that I recognized it and that is what really matters.

So many others have talked about your smile and how you have helped others by writing cards and jumping in when things needed to be done.  These are constant reminders of how great you are and will help to keep your legacy alive.

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Are Psychiatrists held to the same standards as other Doctors?

psychiatry“Do no harm” is something that all doctors say when they become a doctor….

If a cardiologist prescribed a medicine that his/her patient was allergic to and the patient died, would the family be able to sue for malpractice win? most likely

If an oncologist did not present their patient with an option that they knew about, but could save their life and the family found out about it later, would the family win a malpractice suit? most likely

If a psychiatrist came to their office with obvious symptoms of tardive dyskenisia, a side effect of a medication they had prescribed and the psychiatrist did nothing about it and it became a permanent problem, would the psychiatrist get into trouble? not very likely

On the other hand, if someone went to see their primary doctor who had recently prescribed a medication and the patient showed signs or symptoms of a serious side effect and it eventually lead to a serious condition that could have been avoided, would the patient be able to sue? most likely

Let’s say a psych patient went to emergency room seeking help because they were really depressed, suicidal, hearing voices or told their doctor that they were so manic that they feel they might do something harmful to themselves or possibly someone else.  Regardless of pleasto be admitted or at least evaluated better get ignored and the doctor tells them to go home.  Is this doctor held accountable if the person leaves and kills someone, robs a bank, flies across the country with money they don’t have ,  has sex with people they don’t know, has a drug overdose, does something the voices tell them to do, etc? No

If a doctor ignored signs of a stroke or a heart attack, it could be deadly and if they did the family would win a law suit.  However, if a doctor ignored symptoms of a mental illness and did not preventing that person from ending up doing something that could potentially be deadly, nothing would be done to that doctor.  Although they did not prevent the person from doing something harmful to someone else or themselves, the medical community does not view mental illnesses and how they are treated or mistreated like they do heart attacks and strokes. Both could be deadly. However, it is excusable to ignore signs of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, etc. It is not okay to ignore signs of a stroke, high blood sugar, kidney failure, or heart attack.  

If a psychiatrist saw a patient who told them they were depressed and suicidal and they dismissed it because they thought the person was making it up or not serious and they committed suicide, would the family win a malpractice suit? doubtful 

If a psychiatrist told a patient to wait until Monday when the patient stated that they thought they were getting manic and they went and got in their car without sleeping for a few days and killed someone, would the doctor be held responsible in some way? I don’t think so. However, if a endocronologist did not advise their patient to go to hospital because they showed signs of a diabetic shock, they would most likely be held responsible if that person got in their car and ended up killing someone.

You probably see where I am going with this.  I know the answers to most of these questions from personal experience and by hearing from other patients with mental illnesses.  I can tell you that most of the time, psychiatrists are not held responsible.  They are allowed to over-prescribe medications that they get kick backs from pharmaceutical companies, can  misdiagnose, dismiss what their patients say,  ignore symptoms, not be there for patients when in need with no one on call, and drop patients that won’t take medications that they recommend for various reasonable reasons.  

Over-prescribing medications is common among all doctors because of the kick-backs they get  from the pharmeucitical companies. It might be because they are uneducated about alternative ways of treating illnesses.   However, other doctors can’t dismiss what their patients say and get away with it. They can’t ignore symptoms that cause harm and suffer no consequences, they have to be available for their patients or have another doctor on call and I would have to assume most would not drop their patients because they ask for an alternative treatment. 

In the world of psychiatry, it is a whole different story.  I know from personal experience and have heard so many horror stories. I don’t know the statistics, but I guarantee there are a lot more malpractice suits filed and won against “regular” doctors vs, psychiatrists.  Psychiatrists hold their patient’s lives in their hands yet that does not seem to matter.  Psychiatrists are not held to the same standards as other doctors and this is just wrong!

 

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Writings from the Mother of Bipolar Disorder Part 7: Giving Back

pic for bbMy mother has written six blogs that have touched many lives.  She has been an advocate all my life and by sharing our struggles and giving great advice, she has quite the following.  Writings from the Mother of Bipolar Disorder

My mother has been struggling with cancer for quite awhile. She has never given up, but the cancer is winning.  She is currently in Hospice.  We are hoping for a miracle, but have all accepted that my mom will be entering heaven soon to join her father who passed away a few years ago.

I have started a Caring Bridge site for her if you would like to follow her journey.  Also, we have started a scholarship fund and although I normally don’t post fund raisers on any of my social media sites, I am going to make an exception here.  If you have been reading my mom’s blogs and/or like my blogs, please consider donating to our cause that is in lieu of flowers.

My mom helped me organize an event called Embrace Life Day last year that dealt with healthy living, but had a focus on mental health.  It was a free community event with free food, games, entertainment, speaker from Wounded Warrior Project, inflatables and more.

We had over 45 exhibitors and approximately 350 attended. It could have never happened if it weren’t for her.

She recently told us that her favorite job was as a school.  Her compassion made her a nurse who kids wanted to go see. She “adopted” some of them.  She brought some home with her and took others shopping to buy things for their parents for Christmas. My mom has such a kind heart.  She is beautiful inside and out.  I have to say the beautiful part because everyone always says that my sisters and I all look like my mom.  :)

Our family has decided that in lieu of flowers, we will be asking people to pay into a scholarship fund.  We will use this fund to set up scholarships on an annual basis for the kids who attended her poverty-stricken home.

We would appreciate anything. If you can’t help, please pass this on to some one else.

I have not been on lately because we have all been by my mom’s side as much as we can during her decline that started about 3 months ago.

If you would like to share how my mom has helped you or if you would just like to send my family and I a message, please go to Sue Lande’s Carebridge account.  You can also see pictures of her, see what others wrote in the guest book, and read our journal updates.

Thanks for being followers of my mom. I would share when people liked her blogs or commented on them.  She thought I was kidding when I told her she was famous.  She might not have been exactly famous, but her blogs were doing better than mine. :)

Sue Burghardt Lande ScholarshipFund

 

 

 

 

 

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Positive Things Can Come From Amanda Bynes’s Extended Hospital Stay

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When I read an article by ABC News that Amanda would be required to stay at the psychiatric hospital for another two weeks, I was relieved and am really hoping that good things can come from this.

I wrote a blog yesterday that talked about how I was disappointed in her mother that she after trying to get help for her daughter, denied that she had a mental illness after Amanda was discharged.

Being admitted is good for Amanda, it is helpful to others who know nothing about mental illness, and is important for those who have a mental illness to hear that even celebrities struggle with mental illness.

Although Lynn, Amanda’s mother, said that the marijuana made her do all the bizarre things back in May, I am not convinced that this is true and explained that in my other blog.

As I discussed in my other blog, so many good things can happen from this all.  Most importantly, Amanda will get the help she desperately needs.  In addition, others will see her struggles and hopefully learn things from it all.

However, why I think good can  happen from this, other than her having a chance to get treated, is that by having these experiences, she can share her story and help others.  Yes, she had a successful childhood career. Yes, she could turn her life around and act again or work in the fashion industry (what she was going to school for).

What I hope for is that she becomes another person who uses their fame and misfortune of having a mental illness to join the other celebrities who have been coming forward and using their experiences to raise awareness, educate others, and do their part in erasing the stigma.

For a complete list of Famous People with Mental Illnesses or Famous People with Bipolar Disorder, please check out my Pinterest boards.

You will be amazed at how many celebrities have a mental illness.  This goes to show that mental illness can affect anyone and that just because you have a mental illness does not mean that you won’t be able to make a difference or accomplish great things.

Although so many celebrities have come forward, I especially am impressed with Demi Lovato, Glenn Close‘s family, Patrick Kennedy, and Brandon Marshall.

Amanda could  deny that she has a mental illness or she could show the world that there is nothing to be ashamed of.   She could contribute to the stigma or she could become part of the solution when it comes to mental illnesses.

She could use her mental illness as a platform and I guarantee that more people will respect her especially in the mental health community. I believe that would help her career gain momentum. She would be known as an actress with a mental illness rather than a “crazy” former actress who denies she has a problem and does not care about other people who have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, autism/aspergers, PTSD, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, drug addictions, etc.

What do you think she will decide to do?  Do you feel strongly enough about letting her know what you believe she should do? If so, contact her.  One way would be to tweet her.  Support her and encourage her and let her know why you think she should do the right thing.

I hope to be writing a blog in the near future about how much I admire her and add her to the list of people who are making a difference when it comes to mental health advocacy.

In conclusion, I truly believe that no matter what happens, that her being in the psychiatric hospital for two more weeks is a good thing and a lot of good can come from it- I hope.

Picture found at: www.starpulse.com

 

 

 

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