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.
Hey Everybody! I recently made this new brain/neuron fabric and gift wrap! I made a giant brain pillow for my psychiatrist too, and he seemed to like it which was awesome! :) Here are some pics! Also, the fabric, gift wrap, and wall paper are available on spoonflower here: http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/3713721
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! Just wanted to post this to ask people to please sign the petition to the President and Congress to increase funding for research related to finding cures for mental illness. It only takes a minute! Please share with your friends too!
Hi! I’m happy to report I got my Cure Alliance schizophrenia magnet today! Strange that my bumper wouldn’t hold the magnet! haha. Anyway, please check them out at the Cure Alliance Facebook page here. Also, see the related post I made about their campaign here.
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.
Yes, my life is all about math and cats. Here is another cat I’ve finished making. This one is for a friend of mine who likes green. :)
I have one cat for sale in my Etsy shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtByKristinBell.
And I’ve made a new Calculus fabric out of my math homework and uploaded it to spoonflower.
Here’s my shop on spoonflower: http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/kristinbell
OMG I was so excited when someone bought one of my fabrics! You have no idea how thrilling it is!!!
I’m quite a boring person…obsessed with making cats and doing math homework! hehe. Thank god the anxiety has calmed down quite a lot, so I can go about my business and get stuff done!!! What a relief! :) :) :)
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.
() I might owe my fast reading of this book to my Starbucks coffee run, but it could also be attributed to the good and interesting writing in this book. “Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine” by Stephen Braun is a captivating discourse on two of the most beloved substances on the planet. At one moment you are a molecule-sized scuba diver following the path of the ethanol molecule throughout the body and the next you are sizing up the athletic advantages of caffeine. The first half of the book is dedicated mainly to alcohol and its effects on the body and brain. The second half discusses caffeine. While the book may be a bit outdated (published in 1996), it still has relavent information for lay readers interested in how caffeine and alcohol work in the human body. The book really left me wanting to know more of the unanswered questions about how these substances work on a microscopic/molecular level. I felt that the first half covering alcohol was more complete, and ultimately more interesting, than the caffeine part, which is why I give this book 4 stars instead of 5. A good read nonetheless and you will come away probably knowing more than you do now about alcohol and caffeine.
“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. ( )
“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr is a terrific and fascinating book. I couldn’t put it down. It would be easy to dismiss Carr and say “oh yah, whatever, the internet is making us all dumb, riiiiiiight,” but his case is compelling and hard to dismiss. He isn’t even so much saying that technology is bad at all. His point seems to be that we should be more mindful of the impact that technology has on us. Only Carr talks about it with interesting and thought-provoking examples from ancient history to current psycho-biology! You’d do well to read this book in print and NOT on an ebook reader too!
This book is engaging, well written and thought-provoking. If you really believe you are getting so many things done by doing 100 things at once, you should pick up this book and think again. Well worth the thoughtful contemplation time. ( )
“Understanding the Borderline Mother” by Christine Ann Lawson is an interesting book, but I felt that it focused far too much on the negative aspects (yes there are many) of the Borderline Personality. If you pick up this book, but didn’t know anything about Borderline Personality Disorder you would probably think that people with the disorder are pure awful with no redeeming qualities. The book does have some good aspects and is compelling to read, but it seems too one-sided and lacks any understanding of any of the pain and suffering that might motivate the behavior of a person with this disorder. Borderlines are often difficult patients and difficult people to understand, but many times it seems they are completely misunderstood in therapeutic situations. This book does not really attempt to “understand” the Borderline, but does describe some of the behaviors that are often times seen. ( )
I’m just going to say it: GOD DAMN DEPRESSION!!! It is so horrible that words cannot describe it, right? You know what I am saying. And, at this moment, I have no idea how many people out there are thinking about or attempting suicide. It is the great loss, the tragic loss…every suicide. I’ve tried wrapping my head around it. Tried thinking of it as someone’s way out of pain, but the truth is, each attempt, every moment spent toiling over it: TRAGIC.
I know that it feels like the only way to relieve the pain. Looking back on my own suicidal ideation and attempts, I can only wonder: WHAT WAS I THINKING!?! Okay, I know what I was thinking…tired. tired of being tired. tired of having this huge pain that I couldn’t really describe, this unending sorrow swallowing me whole. Tired of being a failure, and broke, and stupid, ugly, horrible, disgusting, friendless, and every other bad thing I could think to call myself. But, I don’t know, mostly I didn’t even care if I lived or died. These few pills will take away the pain? Okay, I’ll be dead and it won’t matter anymore. My big dillema was getting rid of my body without horrifying other people. Continue Reading Suicide…
Well, not only am I a schizophrenic, but I’m a regular girl type. The kind of girl you all know. Which means that growing up I had regular girl problems (not that eating disorders are girl-only problems), not just schizophrenic girl problems. I was a chubby kid. And then as a teenager I went on a crash diet right around the time I first started losing touch with reality. I essentially starved myself so the weight would come off, but then, my hair started to come off too. And, eventually Continue Reading So…the Bulimia….
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)…
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…
Whew! It has been awhile since I have written a tip/trick. The last few months have been crazy, but not really in a good way. Oh well. The tip I’m writing about today has to do with this special time of year for people. This may be rather specific to people who are in the US and/or to people who celebrate certain holidays. Anyway, in the US most people have some holiday that they celebrate or they go on vacation or just have some time off. The major holidays are Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Again, I know there are more holidays that I’m sure I’m missing, but these are the big ones. So, here is my tip: Continue Reading Tips And Tricks For Surviving A Mental Illness #11…
<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…