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.
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.
“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. ( )
<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…