Why mental health stigma angers me

It usually takes a lot to get me angry. Cut in front of me in traffic? I’ll just smile and nod. But when people are just outright rude and mean, that’s a hot button issue for me.

Recently it seems, there have been many celebrities/sports stars who have disclosed that they have a mental health issue. The most recent disclosure has been from Brandon Marshall,  in which he shares that he has Borderline Personality Disorder.

Now, anyone who has mental health issues (I *hate* using the term “mental disorder”) can tell you that it is quite painful to live with it, and even more painful to disclose it to people. You never know how people will look at you after you tell them what is going on with your brain. You are afraid of how people’s judgement will color your relationship with them.

I clicked on the article about Brandon today, and was glad that he was brave to announce what he is enduring. Then, I scrolled down to the comments and that’s when my blood started to boil. People were making nasty, rude, and ignorant comments such as:

“I call it Spoiled Black Thug Trying To Save Face Disorder”

“Yeah Im an @#$% too, Brandon.”

“another over paid whiner”

“I see “acting black” now has a new name…”

There are some thoughtful comments in there, but they are few and far between.

Why the anger, you ask? Because it’s in these ignorant comments that people in the mental health will never get support, understanding, and help.

The next time you hear someone disclosing their mental health issues, take a step back and think this: It could be you.

 

Mental Health Awareness Month: The Power of Hobbies

When I was younger, I was a dancer. I was a tap, jazz, ballet, and Hawaiian dancer until I was in 7th grade. I remember those years very fondly because it was so much fun to be creative, active, and with other people my age. As I aged, my extracurricular activities drifted into drama and cheerleading/drill team. Once those extracurricular activities were finished for the season, I remember feeling very empty, like a part of my identity was missing.

Fast forward many, many years. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I realized that I needed something to do besides being a mom all the time. I took a pottery class when the boys were still little, and really enjoyed playing in the mud. When the boys became toddlers, I started scrapbooking.

When the depression hit, all of the hobbies that I enjoyed just came to a crashing stop. I ceased to care about doing anything fun because I felt like I didn’t deserve to do anything fun. (Yup, you gotta love that self-discipline when you’re depressed. /sarcasm) Again, it felt like a part of me was missing.

While I have endured the ups and downs of depression, I have realized that hobbies have been one great way to help lift myself out of the pit. Yes, at first it will seem overwhelming to start back into your hobby if you haven’t done in it a while because of your depression. You might not even want to do it because you feel guilty about wanting to do something fun.

Do it anyway. Listen to some music. Dance. Bring out your arts and crafts materials. You could even learn something new. The point of getting back into your hobby is to have fun. You need to re-energize that part of your brain that says “you know, life can be fun, and I’m going to be a part of it again.”

This past fall, I learned how to crochet. I can’t tell you how calming it is for me to take the yarn and the crochet hook and make something. I’m still a little overwhelmed about picking up my scrapbooking and rubber stamping again. I guess I’ll take it one step at a time.

That’s all we can do- try to take it one step at a time when we’re trying to take care of ourselves.

Untangling ties

Today was THE day from hell. Not only did we forget to set the alarm so we could wake up in the morning, but we were running late. You know the panic that runs so high when you’re running late? Take that and multiply it thousandfold. Then add your loving child telling that you’re a “bad parent” because you forgot to set your alarm. You have the start of a recipe for a disastrous day. I felt like I was in knots.

The above episode is just one layer of the tangles that entwined my day. I was still reeling from my emotional meltdown from last night. For those of you relatively new to The Den, I have clinical depression, which almost borders on being bipolar. I can go from one extreme to the next very quickly when things are incredibly tangled. Some things that really tangle up the ties include not getting enough sleep, not eating well, and constantly feeling isolated.

Mix into this day more tangles from acidic arguments,  malodorous moments, and rancid rage. At this point, you can see the taut knot, tightened to the point where it is almost impossible to see where it begins or ends.

How can one even begin to untangle such a tied-up knot like this? I don’t know at this point. Today’s knot has me in a stranglehold.

One thing upon which I can usually rely is music. I have a memory bank of songs that I extract for days like today. Granted, some people say that if one listens to music that is sad, then it will augment the sadness. For me, it is like a security blanket. I know that I can retreat into my music and be comforted by words from other people who understand how I feel.

This song is one of the many I have in my security blanket chest.

(Photo was graciously provided by Mr.Greenjeans by a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.)

Milestones and musings

We’ve had a couple of huge milestones here at the Den. First, Casey learned how to ride a two-wheeler bike! After much practice, telling him that we can’t put the training wheels back on because he’d only bend them out of shape again, he has started to master bike riding! I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it is to see him finally bike riding independently. For a while there, I thought we were going to have to shell out beaucoup money for one of those three wheeler bikes.

Another huge milestone is that Casey *finally* pet a dog without getting scared. This. is. huge. In the past, he would run away from dogs, either screaming or crying. This time when he saw this little fluffy puppy, he said “I’m not scared of dogs any more, Momma.” He then went up to the owner, asked if he could pet the dog, and asked, “Which way do you pet him, Momma?” It was so wonderful. I hope this fear doesn’t regress. Oftentimes, kids with autism will progress, then regress. I hope he continues on this path of progress.

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A while ago I reported that I was put on Abilify to stabilize my ever-changing moods. One of the horrid side effects with that medication was feeling that you are in a perpetual state of sleepiness. You can literally feel the sleep in your head, at the base of your forehead. Please note this is one patient’s experience. Your mileage may vary. 😉 I went to my nurse practitioner psychiatrist, and complained about the side effects. I am now on Lamictal, which is another mood-stabilizing medication, mostly used for bipolar patients. Thankfully, I was already off the Abilify for a week since I ran out (the weaning off process wasn’t too bad, except for a few wacky dreams). The titration process for Lamictal was brutal. The first two weeks I was on the 25mg dosage, and I was so irritable. Take cranky and multiply that times 1,000. That was me. When I was graduated up to 50mg for the next two weeks, the irritability finally dissipated. I started feeling level, a lot more balanced.

Now I’m up to 100mg of Lamictal, and I’m starting to feel that sleepiness again, but at least this time it’s not a constant fog that invades my head. It waxes and wanes during the day. I can almost set a clock to it and know exactly when it’s going to happen.

My impression of Lamictal versus Abilify thus far is that I like Lamictal much more. One caveat, however. You need to take it at the exact same time every day. Do. not. miss. a. dose. Trust me on this one.

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I’ve been wanting to go on a political rant for the past few days. What the hell is happening to our country? First, let me disclose that I am a conservative. I will not apologize for my beliefs. I strongly believe in the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment, and One Nation Under God.

This Cap and Trade bill, aka “Cap and Tax” is a tragedy. What’s the deal with the 3:00am extra pages to the bill? Doesn’t anyone in Congress read what is given to them? Then, I read an article that explains how some countries want to amend the Kyoto Protocol, which caps rich countries’ carbon emissions while developing countries are not capped, to “focus on rich people everywhere”. Now, I am by no means a wealthy person. But, if someone wants to drive an SUV, live in a large house, and fly their private jet to their vacation, let them do it. We should not live in a Nanny State.

And what’s the deal with Michelle Obama being elevated to some fashion icon worthy of celebrity status? I’m quite pissed that she is using tax dollars to purchase a $6,000 handbag, then she has the nerve to wear $500 tennis shoes to a food bank? I’m sorry y’all, but this boils my blood. They can talk about ‘distributing the wealth’ and looking out for each other (cue the Kum Bay Ya guitar strumming), but the Obama’s think nothing of jetting off to New York for a glitzy date, a Paris shopping spree, and rubbing it all in the faces of Americans, while so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

Ugh. End rant. I could go on, but I don’t want to raise my blood pressure more.

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Here’s a tune to sum up how I feel about our current economic mess.

Shutting Detroit Down- John Rich

Coming out of the den, once again

bearden1

(image from http://www3.telus.net/airedales/newsletters/may2004.htm )

Well, my dear readers, it’s been about a month (maybe over a month) since I’ve written anything here. To be honest, I’ve felt like I was silenced out of writing. Back when I wrote about the PTO elections, I was told during a talk with a friend that I was seen as “unstable” by some people because they had read some of the things in my blog. This was from someone who works at my boys’ school. I figured that if I didn’t write anymore, then no one would be able to even try to use anything against me or the boys. Most importantly, I didn’t want anyone to use what I write or what I’m going through against my boys. They’re innocent; they didn’t ask to have me for a mom.

So, I’m going to let it rip. Who in the world is completely “stable”? Why in the world is not OK to be able to write about how I feel, what I’m going through, or what goes through my mind? I’ve had other people comment in previous posts that they’ve been relieved that someone else feels the same way and that they don’t feel alone. Isn’t this the point of this blog?

As I read in a friend’s blog today, “As a popular saying goes: if you can’t accept me at my worst, then you certainly don’t deserve me at my best either.”  I think this rings pretty true for how I’ve been feeling about being silenced out of my own blog.

If you don’t want to read it, don’t click on it. I’m not here to please everyone; I want to be able to write from my heart the way I want to, and be able to hopefully help others to do the same. People don’t always understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. And, don’t judge me by calling me “unstable” because you don’t know the whole story.