This is a great presentation/speech. I hope you can watch and share it! It really needs to go viral! Hopefully the correct video will play. It is a TED talk about mental illness and community.
Recently I made a medication change (with the help of my psychiatrist), and as you might know from your own interactions with meds sometimes it can cause issues to develop. I was happily strolling along for a couple of months with a few bad days here and there, and then I started to notice the bad days piling up more often. I was really irritable, sad, became unmotivated, and suicide starting sounding better. I became alarmed, because I knew something was going wrong, but how was I supposed to explain to my psychiatrist that “irritable” is a symptom for me?
The problem with mental illness is that even when we fit into a diagnosed category of disorder, we all have our own unique symptoms that we need to pay attention to. I have schizophrenia, but for years I didn’t appear “sick enough” to most doctors, because they expected me to be talking to the walls and completely disheveled. There were times when I was talking to the walls and completely disheveled, but the doctors rarely saw me during those times, so they figured I wasn’t that bad off. Because I could communicate relatively well most doctors dismissed schizophrenia as a diagnosis.
Over the years I have come to realize what my symptoms are (for the most part), and now that I am doing better I can advocate for myself more effectively. However, it still isn’t easy to call up my psychiatrist and say “wow, I’m extremely irritable, this isn’t normal for me, and I need to increase my meds.” Most psychiatrists won’t believe that “irritable” is in any way related to schizophrenia, but for me (and many others) it is. I don’t become psychotic over night, and I don’t believe that I should have to be talking to walls in order to get the help I need. I also don’t believe that people should have to try to kill themselves before mental health professionals take people seriously.
Unfortunately, a lot of mental health professionals won’t take a person seriously unless they are debilitated to the point of needing to be hospitalized. So, as people living with mental illness or people who love people with mental illness, we have to be very proactive about getting the help we need before it turns into a crisis. Think about the good days and what you are like on those days, and compare them to the bad days. What are YOUR symptoms? How do things manifest in your day to day life? You might want to write down what you know your symptoms to be, and take that list with you when you talk to your doctor. It isn’t easy or fun, but we have to advocate for ourselves even when we are not doing our best.
In the end, you know your symptoms the best. Remember that you aren’t “crazy” for wanting to feel better and you aren’t making up excuses. Be pragmatic and straightforward, and get the help you need.
Hi! As you might know if you have scanned my blog, I make it a point to talk about mental health/illness, because I have schizophrenia and I believe in stomping out the stigma of mental illness. Well, I have this cute story to share! I was waiting outside of the classroom for my biology lab class to start this fall and started talking to a supernice girl who was in my class. We got to talking and to try to explain why I had been in school so long I decided to tell her that I have schizophrenia. Lo and behold she says “oh yah, my mom has bipolar and my brother has schizophrenia too!” What a small world!!! It turns out her whole family is active in the mental health field in advocating for the erasure of stigma related to mental illness and they have a website called http://bringchange2mind.org/ . I am always surprised when I talk to people about my own illness and then they also know someone or are someone with mental illness too! It is such a big thing in peoples’ lives and when we talk about it, it is surprising/amazing/wonderful that we aren’t alone in our struggles. So, I just wanted to share this little story and a link to the Bring Change 2 Mind website. It was a wonderful feeling to meet someone else at school who knows first hand about mental illness and to be able to talk openly about it! :) Three cheers for no more stigma!!! :)
Hey check out Lindsey’s vlog! Great to hear her story! :) She is also an amazing artist! Check out her art at http://www.etsy.com/shop/lindseycormier
Hey Everybody! I’m really excited about this new show on TNT called “Perception.” http://www.tntdrama.com/series/perception/
It stars Eric McCormack (of Will & Grace fame) as a university professor, author and crime solver who is also living with schizophrenia! I’m always skeptical of depictions of people with mental illness on TV and in movies, because they usually make them out to be psychopathic killers or something. I’ve watched the first two episodes of the show so far, and I think they do an excellent job of making the character seem like a regular human being! It is so fantastic! They use the hallucinations as kind of a dramatic device and employ some other Beautiful Mind-esque devices to try to make it like the viewer can see what the character is seeing. Some commenters have argued that it doesn’t show the horrific aspects of schizophrenia enough, but I personally like that they are showing him to be a regular person, and an intelligent one at that! I like that they show him holding down a job, interacting with people socially, and using the help of other people to reality test. I’m excited to see how the character and the show develop and I hope it gets picked up for another season! Please check it out if you get a chance! Again, it is on TNT Monday nights. Here is the TNT link: http://www.tntdrama.com/series/perception/
I thought I’d do a little mental health update, since it has been quite some time since I’ve blogged about my overall mental health. As some of you dear readers may know, I have schizophrenia. I first had issues with it when I was about 15. My first hospitalization was when I was 16. Towards the end of 2000 I got mostly stabilized with my Haldol injections and Zoloft. I haven’t been in the hospital since then! Yay! Quite a long run I’ve had and I hope it continues! For quite some time I had problems getting things done, being motivated and feeling down…that sort of thing, even though I was mostly fine. I think it was last year that I started taking Abilify and it has made a HUGE difference! I’m still taking Zoloft, Buspar, Haldol and some non-psychiatric meds in addition to the Abilify, but the addition of the Abilify was great. I’m doing really pretty well these days. Sometimes I have anxiety, although I think it might generally be related to performance issues with school. I also tried taking Topamax to help with weight loss, but I thought it might be making me stupid and giving me more anxiety, so I quit taking it. I think overall, the Topamax was not helping. It seemed like I was becoming less motivated and more sad with it. I also had that bad anxiety day that I wrote about recently.
So, I think I was just hoping for a magic weightloss bullet with the Topamax. It didn’t work. Boo. I have lost about 90-100 pounds though which is good, but I still need to be less sedentary. I’m also a believer in fat acceptance, but of course it is hard to say that I never want to try to lose weight. I would be an even bigger believer in fat acceptance if I wasn’t actually fat I think!!! hahaha. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is kind of true. I can accept the hell out of everyone’s fatness, but my own! lol.
Anyway, enough about fatness for now. What I want to say is that I’m doing well on the whole. My sleep patterns have improved with my sleep apnea machine, and while I’m not sleeping on any kind of normal schedule yet, I’m getting sleep every day and mostly at the same time! I still tend to be somewhat paranoid, but I’ve found that opening up with people over the years on the internet has really helped me to realize that I don’t need to be afraid of everyone in the world. I still have some delusional thoughts that blow through my brain now and then, but I consider them to be more of a slight annoyance than a big deal right now. But seriously, it is because of the medicine. If I wasn’t taking my meds, and doing so faithfully, I would be in and out of hospitals and massively psychotic. Some people don’t believe me, because I “seem so normal,” but I have to wonder what THAT means anyway? And, I don’t know, it seems like I should be insulted when people say that to me, but I’m not sure why I find it so insulting! I don’t necessarily want to be abnormal, even though I pretty much am, but I think it just bothers me that people attach a kind of value judgement to the term “normal” as if “normal” is superior. It is definitely easier to live in the world if you are “normal,” but it isn’t the only way to be in the world, that’s for sure. Normal is just such a peculiar word, no?
So, I’m doing fine. Some anxiety here and there, some weird thoughts here and there…a depressed mood now and then, but mostly just good. Which is nice. Thank you meds and thank you lucky stars! So, that’s my update after living with schizophrenia for 24 years. Wow! 24 years! Man am I getting old!!! LOL.
Sometimes I get terrible anxiety that I can’t seem to make go away. I try my usual coping mechanisms like eating (bad idea), and obsessing on the computer (bad idea), but those don’t help. Sometimes I plop down in bed and try to relax my way out of the anxiety. It probably doesn’t help that I drink a lot of coffee, but I really feel like the coffee doesn’t do much to me. It feels more like a different kind of anxiety than a coffee-induced jittery type anxiety. Lately, I’ve tried focusing my anxiety into doing productive things like making cats and cleaning and doing homework. Sometimes I can harness it and actually get stuff done. Other times I’m too agitated to concentrate. The making cats thing seems to help a lot, because it involves using my hands and my imagination and I can sort of zone out on it. I also have to focus on details which is helpful. I feel guilty that I’m making cats instead of doing my math homework sometimes, but there are times when I just can’t motivate myself to do math–like tonight. I really really need to do my math, but I’m not doing it. So, I could either start on a new cat or just fritter away my time doing nothing. I think I might start a new cat despite the guilt of not doing my homework. I do take Buspar, which is an anti-anxiety medication, but it doesn’t seem to do all that much. I think part of it is that I need to figure out why I’m so keyed up. I know that part of it is that I’m worried about my school work. Perhaps another part is that my parents just came back home after being gone for three months to Arizona and I’m having to go through some adjustment having people back in the house again. It is just an adjustment I think I need to get used to. Anyway. Writing about it has helped a little I think.
Loud In the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl is a new book by Stacy Pershall. Of course, I was immediately drawn to this memoir, because it is a) a memoir b) about a “strange girl” and c) deals with mental illness. Yay! Since I’m undoubtably a strange mentally ill girl, I knew I had to read this. Pershall writes about her life growing up in Arkansas and her morphing from an über-sensitive child into a teenager and young adult with Borderline and Bipolar issues. Anyone familiar with the mental illness memoir genre will certainly have heard of Elizabeth Wurtzel, and I just bring her up, because UNLIKE Wurtzel, Pershall is not whiny in her writing! Pershall is matter-of-fact about her trials and symptoms, even though the reader can imagine the actual playing out of illness to be much more harsh and unbearable.
Pershall describes her unrelenting eating disorder, mood swings and suicide attempts with a steady and precise hand. This book seems really accessible to me, because Pershall speaks not only to those of us who have been through the mental health care system, but also to people who might not really understand this special weirdness. The only thing I would like to see more of in this book is more OF this book! haha. Seriously though, I enjoyed reading this memoir and would love to read more from Pershall. I would especially recommend this book to people struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. There is a special misery only known by Borderlines that is never really represented in the books that ostensibly deal with Borderline Personality Disorder. I really wish there were more accounts like this that show the uncrazy through the crazy of Borderline Personality Disorder.
“Devil in the Details: Scenes From an Obsessive Girlhood” by Jennifer Traig will tickle your inner OCD child if you have one. I’m not a full blown OCD person, but I can relate to some of what Traig writes about, and she shows us with much wit what a full blown disorder is like. It is great that she has such a wonderful sense of humor about a disorder that is so crippling to her and so many millions of people like her. For those who don’t understand Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, this gives a good glimpse into a life that is severely train-wrecked by it. I give this four stars instead of five, because I found the ending a bit weak compared to the rest of the book that kept me enthralled. My only unanswered question is: am I the only one who noticed that the candies on the cover of the book aren’t COMPLETELY straight???!!! haha. ( )
I just finished reading “Manic: A Memoir” a few days ago, so I thought I’d share my opinion with you. The book is the memoir of this high-powered female attorney from Los Angeles who has bipolar disorder. I’m usually really interested in most Continue Reading “Manic” A New Memoir of Bipolar Disorder…
Okay, I rarely write about celebrity gossip, but overnight Britney Spears was taken into the hospital for psychiatric evaluation and I guess I feel the need to comment. From what I’ve heard on the news, she hasn’t slept since Saturday and she’s now on a 72-hour hold. I have also been Continue Reading I Feel For Ya, Britney!…
What is ironic is that I’m here in a hotel room in Seattle up late at night watching the movie “Awakenings” just as I finish my own participation in research related to my own mental illness Continue Reading Ironic…
I just wanted to share this great video made by my friend Zoe who is on YouTube under the Continue Reading Notes on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)…
I just finished reading Elyn R. Saks’ book, The Center Cannot Hold, and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially people who are touched by someone who has mental illness. The book is a memoir of Ms. Saks’ life and coming to terms with schizophrenia. From an early age she recalls having strange thoughts, but Continue Reading A Book Everyone Should Read!…
Well, it is that time of year: the holidays. I know that for people with eating disorders this can seem like the most terrible time of year. Whether you are facing holiday get-togethers with family, friends or co-workers or are just tempted by the food that is normally around, there is no doubt about it: if you have food issues these times will be hard. The thing I want to say about this is Continue Reading Steps To Body Acceptance #6…
You might be asked to participate in an eye tracking exercise like the one shown above. All of the equipment is just used to keep your head still and to track your eyes.
I just wanted to let you all know about this schizophrenia research study I am most likely going to be participating in and I hope that if any of you out there are interested, you will join in on the study! Well, as you might know, I got a new job at schizophrenia.com. Well, one day I was visiting the site and an ad popped up looking for research participants for this schizophrenia research study! Here is the link: http://www.schizophreniaresearch.net/Involved.asp
Unfortunately, at this time it isn’t an Continue Reading Schizophrenia Research I’m Participating In…
<Sleeping graphic from HowStuffWorks.com>
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this tip before. Probably because I haven’t mastered this and should really follow my own advice about it. Plus my dad likes to harp on me about my problem with this a lot…which just irritates me. On with tip 10. Continue Reading Tips And Tricks For Surviving A Mental Illness #10…
Hi! Since a lot of my posts are about mental health issues, I thought I’d post this video that Kevin put up where he has an actual panic attack on video. Be warned, because it might disturb you. It is sad to watch him go through this. Kevin has two channels on Continue Reading Kevin’s Panic Attack Video…