Life And Chronic Illness

It’s a bit cold… hopefully my fingers won’t freeze ><

Consider for a moment chronic illness. I know I mentioned this last post but I think a more thorough investigation is in order.

It currently seems that I will be bipolar and on some sort of meds for the rest of my life. I didn’t really realize what this meant until yesterday. Like I said last post, it’s been 5 years… and it’ll be another 5 and another 5 and another 5… (assuming my meds don’t catch up with my liver…)

So what does this mean? It’s strange to think about. Chronic means until you die. I suppose then, I have a chronic illness, bipolar, and a terminal illness, existance.

It’s quite hard to process.

But this life is the only one we have on this earth. We don’t get a second shot free of illness and death.

I recently saw a video on youtube by AronRa talking about his granddaughter who died at three years of age.

Three years.

Now I’m not asking you to compare that to your situation. I find all such comparisons useless in general. “Oh he has it worse” doesn’t mean anything really. You don’t have a choice between his life and your life.

Children in Africa born with AIDS have it “worse”.

But that doesn’t really matter when I consider my own situation. I must not dwell on the sufferings of others. I don’t mean to ignore them, if you have the ability to help in impoverished regions or donate to some charitable organizations please do.

However all the sick children in Africa do nothing for my bipolar.

We can compare all day long.

But that won’t help our condition. We must live our lives as best we can. We should enjoy all that we can and mitigate our symptoms when possible.

We can’t change our chronic illness.

But we still can live… even if this life is harder than it would be for someone without a chronic illness.

We have to live.

Living is a direct attack at bipolar itself.

“Oh, you want to bring me down? Well f—- you! I’m not going down! I’m going to do the best I can, regardless of what life throws my way. I may have limitations, but I will not define myself by them. There are some things I will never do, but that’s ok, there are lots of things I can do.”

Live while you can. Life is precious and short… sometimes far too short as for that three year old mentioned above. While we should not compare our situation to the girl or her family, we should live in memory that we may not last another day. If this is our last day on earth, fine. We will not go into that darkness thinking “If only I had not been bipolar” but rather “I lived. And that is all that matters”.

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Chronic Means It Doesn’t End

Anybody else realized this?

Chronic doesn’t end. Chronic Illness ends when I end.

I was diagnosed about 5 years ago. And I haven’t really thought about the next 5 years.

Or the next 5

or the next 5…

Chronic doesn’t end folks.

I don’t know what else to say really

Why am I sad???

Depression isn’t fair.
Mental illness isn’t fair.

We shouldn’t require happiness of ourselves. Depression is not about emotions, not at its core anyway. Depression is an illness, depression screws with brain chemistry.

It’s like if you had a glass of wine, and suddenly someone replaced it with a glass of cod liver oil. No matter how much we “should be happy” about getting wine, we’re not getting wine. We’re getting cod liver oil, and there’s no real way to choke down the stuff and think it’s wine (at least, I don’t think so, I’ve never had cod liver oil ><).

I see this in myself and in some of my compatriots at times, we’re mad at ourselves for not being happy in a good situation.

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Anger and Stress and Mental Illness

I must admit that this topic is not well decided/understood in my own mind, but I feel it’s important.

Anger and stress exacerbate my condition.

As does caffeine. Which I’m now attempting to rid myself of. I’m not moralizing about this, this is a connection that is present in my own mind, it’s helpfulness to others is debatable.

It leads to an interesting question though. How does an individual who has… well, an itchy trigger finger, have a conversation about conflicting ideas that does not end badly?

I’ve gotten better about it. But I see bettering myself from this point on as just avoiding unnecessary conflict. Which in principle isn’t a bad thing until you consider that a little bit of conflict is ok. Really a little bit of conflict is good for you at the idea level. It’s problematic though. I’ve turned off the comments on youtube (look up No Comment on google chrome for the add-on) because I get aggravated by stupid people. Even stupid people who are obviously trolls.

I don’t watch much TV anymore. I can’t stand it, though not for the normal reasons. I actually liked a lot of the crime shows, it’s just that as my illness has progressed, it became more and more evident that watching it was untenable as it left me in a very odd position. I can’t stand to watch people argue. I can’t stand to watch shouting. Weird thing is I’m pretty good at shouting. I have a huge, scary voice.

But, like a cornered pit viper, I hit hard to those things that push me into the corner. The worst part is I may even be right. It’s very hard to show people that you’re cool and calm and have the correct point of view when you’re shouting at the top of your lungs.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far… in case anybody’s interested

1) Physical Awareness: Don’t strain your body while straining your brain. Pain in the body will just irritate you more.

2) Avoid Law & Order: That just seems to be a must for me

3) Be self conscious about your language. Not in an obsessive way, and DO NOT require this of other people’s language. You can’t change them. But you can look like a cool and collected person rather than a bumbling fool like myself if you can keep your cool.

4) Apologize. This last one is specifically if you get in a fight with a friend and you realize that your manner was not controlled. You can avoid losing friends this way.

So two things in the end:

1) Sorry G, I’m shaking with irritability right now, so I’m sure I said some stupid shit that I didn’t even realize I said on top of that that I do know about.

2) Be well, and think twice.. or three times.. but not over seven.

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A Toast To Life

Life at times seems a petty thing to me. There have been and are days when I have no or very little will to live. Thankfully most of these have landed in the apathetic rather than suicidal side of things.

It’s very hard for me to keep blogging every day. But it’s worth doing. It’s worth doing because it gives me something to be doing and something I do because I believe it should be done not for the will of some other being or power.

Of course, anyone looking at the dates of the posts will see very quickly that I have missed days.

But I’m still trying.

And it’s this trying that’s the important bit. Depression or depressive phases can beat you to the ground, leave you lying on the cold pavement of life bloodied and bruised. There’s a movie with Cuba Gooding Junior where he has to walk some odd steps in a giant diving suit, and half way either his leg breaks or is badly injured it seems. But though tears of pain are on his eyes he keeps going. I think this is apt because of the pacing. He just had to make the steps. He didn’t have to do it quickly. If I were him I’d have to take it one step at a time. One burst of pain at a time.

We must toast to life.

And we must live life. One step at a time. Even if we break our legs we need to keep going to get to where they can be repaired.

If you’ve suffered depression you’ll know that there are days when getting out of bed seems damn near impossible.

But we just have to keep going. It is not in living that we should find our purpose but rather in the steps we make while living. The steps we make against the tide, through the pain, and toward tomorrow.

Let us make it to tomorrow.

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Starting an FAQ page

am developing a frequently asked questions page for this blog. The goal is to give answers to parents and associates of the mentally ill and give answers to the mentally ill themselves. I remember when I was diagnosed. I didn’t want to be. I thought it meant I was crazy. I literally screamed at the nurse that I wasn’t crazy before going to the fetal position and crying as I rocked back and forth. I repeated to myself “I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy.” So perhaps my leading question is:

Am I crazy? As asked by the newly diagnosed patient.

No, you are not crazy. Crazy is not really an appropriate term in this context, in that it is non-diagnostic and nebulous. What does crazy mean? Does crazy mean you may have a problem related to brain function that is causing visible issues that are directly and strongly affecting your life? Then I suppose I’m crazy. Hopefully that means “Oh, I’m in good company” rather than “Holy crap! How can I be in the same category as him??” But people often have this image of crazy that implies a person
A) doesn’t know they are crazy
B) acts without any rationale.
The first one is silly. When you are diagnosed and accept that diagnosis, you no longer fit that criterion even under the most lenient forms of “crazy”. The second is simply false. With very very few exceptions people act according to their present, sometimes evanescent, rationality. If you are manic for example, you may feel that you do not need to sleep. In this case it is perfectly rational at the time not to sleep. Is it deterimental? Often yes. But it is not irrational relative to the person making the decision. Perhaps we all need to realize this, even those of us who are mentally ill. We are still responsible for our actions in most cases, but we are not acting without reason. As an associate of a mentally ill individual one should not react as though their actions are random. They aren’t (except in some strange cases of schizophrenia and even that’s doubtful). We must understand that to that individual at that time what they are doing makes sense.

For example, there is a condition known as body dysmorphic disorder or BDD. This is a continuing and pathological state of believing oneself to be ugly and unattractive bodily. This is not the standard idea we associate here. This is much in the same vein as paranoia, at the time you don’t understand that this is wrong. You don’t even understand that there’s a possibility that this isn’t true. Rather than seeing attractiveness as being in the eyes of the beholder, you see it as, at least in your own case, factual and inescapable. Your friends, with good intentions, may try and convince you that you are good looking. In BDD this WILL NOT WORK.

So, I guess the take away is:

you’re not crazy. crazy can’t be mitigated. you are not crazy and therapy and if necessary medication are your best bet for stability.

If anyone has any questions they think should be on the page, leave your question in the  comments section and I will do my best to answer them.

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Speech: The Strong Indicator

An inability to speak, or even just a speech related malady, triggers something profound in us. The only comparable feature I know of is the face. Disfigurement of the face is more disturbing to me than spasticity, even though spasticity would (most likely) physically have more challenges.

But everything is speech to us.

So much so that we demand a freedom to speak.

Think about that. Think about the utter necessity of self expression and aphasia. Broca’s aphasia  or Weirnecke’s aphasia. In my case it was psychsomatic aphasia.

I also had bouts of muscular retardation, which was incredibly embarrassing, but it wasn’t nearly as frustrating as not being able to speak.

Think about people with Down Syndrome. We can identify them by facial aspect and vocal affect. Or at least that’s what we relate to them.

For some reason pathology in speech, even though I have had it myself, instantly provokes a strong disturbance in me. I assume, sadly, that the person is retarded. How wrong is that? I mean people with aphasia can be perfectly intelligent but I personally for an instant assume retardation until I think about it for a second.

I wish this weren’t the case.

But I don’t think I can help the immediate assumption, just the one second later understanding.

Perhaps internally we don’t want to understand that speech can be lost and all other faculties maintained. Because that means it could happen to us and we would be, in some sense, trapped inside a broken machine.

If there are any of you that don’t like the use of the word broken, I do not apologize, you either are trying to be stupidly optimistic or just lacking understanding of the magnitude of the damage.

I would say the same thing for those who don’t like the idea of the “illness” part of mental illness.

If someone is a paraplegic I sincerely doubt you would say that he wasn’t broken.

Broken has nothing to do with intrinsic self worth. Broken is the condition. They are worth everything anyone else is worth intrinsically.

For the love of all that is good and holy never use the phrase “handicapable”.

A broken leg is broken. It’s not some strange “feature”. This truly is a bug and not a feature.

I’ve heard this sort of thing before. Usually talking about bipolars in particular because there is, in some cases, an artistic aspect that seems to be connected with the manic stage.

Remember that those are just the ones you hear about. Most mania and depression is far from an “inspired” state.

Yes, I am sometimes more productive in hypomanic states, even the very minimal version I have these days with medication. I also am more irritable. I often have trouble concentrating to the point of not being able to read. I often sustain a hypersexual state that generally is just an incredible annoyance if not worse.

I’ve mentioned this before. Most mania is not a “good” mania.

Yes, I do live in a fog. Yes, there are severe side effects of the medication. But I don’t have another acceptable choice. Suicidal is not an acceptable state. Severe depression and severe mania are not acceptable states.

This post seems incoherent. Could be since I’m on very little sleep.  And hypomanic.

If nothing else maybe this will give an understanding of uncomfortable and unwanted mania.

Sometimes I just need to vent.

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Concentration and Mania

Have you ever not been able to read during your adult life?

It’s extremely frustrating. To look at a page and just having a mental wall you can’t seem to get over.

It’s hard to even write this post, it takes a lot to keep my concentration.

I think, though I’m not sure, that this is a product of hypomania (bipolar II version of mania). I just can’t concentrate. My mind will not let me. Even these small sentences seem to show this.

I took two tylenol, hopefully it’s just a tension headache.

Sadly even if it’s that it could be a result of hypomania.

I hate this.

I don’t want to go through this anymore.

But I don’t have a choice.

I’m going to try to write a few more lines but my body is trying to stop me.

Hopefully I can make it.

I hope people have an amazing week!

I’ll try my best to have one…

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It’s just in your head

Mental illness is a condition. We must remember that. A recent comment on a post led me to make this a post, since it was getting a bit long for a comment and contained issues that I wanted to express to the general public readers.

Some people have “pulled themselves out” of depression. But what does that mean?

If you pull yourself out of mental illness and get back to normal functioning… I don’t know, I’d be hard pressed to call that mental illness. Sure, you might be able to get to some form of function, but completely recovering by yourself to the same place you were before in my opinion is not mental illness.

Clinical Depression is mental illness.

Mental illness is by definition highly debilitating.

“In addition, for a diagnosis of major depression to be made, the symptoms must not be better accounted for by Bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.”

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx22.htm

One of the problems with depression is that people treat it differently than bipolar or schizophrenia, because for one reason or another only bipolars and schizophrenics are “crazy”.

For many people I would argue that they cannot get out of it themselves. I mean, think of a broken leg. Ya you can let it heal, but you’ll often be debilitated for life because of very badly healed bone.

People often do not treat mental illness and “physical” illness the same way. For some reason antidepressants are a “crutch” that isn’t necessary, while a physical crutch is at least temporarily necessary if you want to be able to deal with anything more than laying down. Antidepressants are more like a wheel chair in many cases. A paralyzed person can work without a wheelchair, but it’s damn near impossible. I don’t see why people assume depression or bipolar or schizophrenia is necessarily different.

There are cases of temporary mental illness, that is, mental illness that seems to be healed after a certain amount of time. And I do believe that can be real depression. Just like pneumonia is a temporary illness if you get it dealt with, in some cases depression can be temporary.

We must be careful though. Depression is not just the feeling or the apathy. If it is truly a brain chemistry issue, fixing your own physical brain is extremely difficult or possibly impossible. Depression can entail a lot of things that are very hard to deal with. In my case (with bipolar) I had psychosomatic aphasia and paralysis. I also have Tourette’s and OCD. Those two are often comorbid.

Attempting to deal with it completely by yourself is what people usually do before they get help. No one wants to think of themselves as mentally ill. You have to get to the point where you can’t get out of it yourself and are willing to admit that you’re ill. Or to the point where you’re a danger to yourself or others.

I really am not trying to single the commenting person. First, the position given was vague and I don’t want to impute intent or meaning when I’m not completely sure. Also it’s a common position and should be addressed to everyone. I’m not mad about what the person wrote. Honestly it gave me the inspiration to write this post. And I certainly do not impute all these beliefs to that person, I’m relatively sure that person didn’t mean everything that I wrote down. It just reminded me and I wanted to write out the possibilities thoroughly.

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Emotionally Unstable: The Myth Gone Bad

Is it just me or do people cringe most or get most annoyed not by longwinded argued points, but by assumptions and off-hand remarks?

I was just watching this:

Slut Shaming

The part that got me didn’t have anything to do with the girl. The part that ticked me off was the off-hand remark about kids being emotionally unstable.

Let’s think carefully about that word for a minute.

What does it mean to be “emotionally unstable”? Does it mean the person is just a little away from the average in emotional scale?

No. He doesn’t give us that option.

He links it directly to “medication” going around. And somehow that is an explanation for more kids being emotionally unstable. This argument can be used to belittle clinical conditions. Granted, so can overprescribing medication. But we can’t merely say that all the growth is from the psychology of children changing or overprescription.

What about those children who wouldn’t have been found in the past? How many autistics went unhelped because it just wasn’t diagnosed or hadn’t been studied fully and so it was determined only by very obvious signs. What was a schizophrenic before the term came around?

He was just crazy. Mad.

Bipolars? Mad. Depressed? Lazy. Fibro? Liar. ME? Weakness. Autistic? Mad. Aspergers’? Weird or Neurotic

With better diagnostics and more studies shouldn’t we expect more children to be helped by medication and therapy? I know a young child who was diagnosed early with Asperger’s Syndrome. Did you know that there is a higher rate of suicides in Asperger’s children than those who do not have the condition? His mother was able to get him into special help so that he could learn to socialize with other children despite his socialization problems related to Asperger’s.

This very well may have saved his life.

People want to believe that mental illness really isn’t there. Especially in those illnesses where it isn’t extremely obvious due to hallucinations or the like. They want to think that this isn’t real. I’m not sure if this is so much because they can’t see it or because they just can’t conceive it and don’t want to believe that it could actually affect someone such that their actions are severely affected.

Think about the death penalty.

Why is it that we want/have wanted a “humane” death penalty at one time or another? I propose that it has nothing to do with the executed. It has to do with the executors. By that I mean not only the operators of the machine but also  all the people of the area that were for the penalty being used. And I would argue it has nothing to do with their sense of conscience.

It’s because we don’t want to see death.

We want death to be quick and painless (or as painless as possible) because we can’t think about death for more than a few seconds in real life.

I thought of this when watching Green Mile during the botched execution seen. One of the executors didn’t wet the sponge on the victim’s head to allow for a quick death. A lot of people are watching him be killed/executed. But when it goes to long, and death stares them right in the face, they run like hell.

And perhaps this is part of the mental illness myths. We don’t want to believe they’re that serious. We don’t want to believe that that could happen to us or our children and that we or our children have no control of that? What do we do about a disease that we can’t see and has no complete physical understanding?

The unknown stares back at us and it is a darkness which we want no part in.

Well, I don’t get that luxury.

So I’m bringing my own dry sponge.

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