Tag Archives: Mental disorder

“I Have a Mental Illness” Project

Please come visit my new posting site (and podcasting site) ihaveamentalillness.com. I am a cofounder, though not the initial founder, that honor goes to another.

We are trying to educate the community. Please visit, and leave comments so that we can be a better bastion as time goes on.

unconstructed

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The Square Circle: Consciousness, Mental Illness, and Local Understanding

In Dr. Sacks book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat“, in precisely the case of the man who mistook his wife for a hat, we see consciousness.

Or at least, insofar as I can perceive consciousness.

And this is precisely the problem. We cannot conceive consciousness for, if we did, it would be akin to conceiving a square circle.

There is a mathematical analogy here, and I beg my non-mathematician readers to allow me this as I do not know how to otherwise describe it without referring to persons, but as soon as I have done that I have forgotten the possibility of a square circle, indeed I may very well be, in some sense, actively supressing the square circle.

There exists, within the mathemato-cosm, an idea known as a “smooth manifold”. These are, essentially, surfaces on which we can create a calculus, in the same sense as we “create” a calculus in 3 dimensional space. Or, for those to whom calculus does not help understanding, imagine that we could generalize speed and acceleration and distance on this body.

“Locally”, in a mathematical sense, a 3 dimensional manifold looks like our common understanding of three dimensional space. We must be careful here in explanation because “Locally” and “Globally” are vastly different and often hard to understand.

Imagine that you were walking on a road and all of the sudden your understanding of speed and distance suddenly failed you, to such a degree that you could not even tell if you were moving. But once you reacclimated yourself to this spot, everything came back into view.

This is my current understanding of consciousness. Globally we are systems, locally we are individual persons. This would seem contradictory and backwards if interpreted incorrectly, so let me explain…

When I say locally here I do not mean one in a crowd or a persons feature. I mean the entire person. By global I mean, in effect, a surveillence under which personhood cannot be understood. Like the manifold it is not real 3 dimensional space, but rather only recognizable at local understanding. Similarly, from a personal view, that is a view that assumes ones own personhood, others are visible as persons. But insofar as we cannot understand our own personhood we cannot understand or comprehend personhood in the other either.

This allows for an interesting understanding of mental illness. If we saw “ourselves” as something that does not admit a legitimate understanding of “ourselves” mental illness would be self-understood to be an abberation in nature. That is we would perceive, rather than a distorted worldview, a distorted brain chemistry which affected this being that we cannot legitimately call “myself”.

The experience of mental illness is the experience of our understanding of self fighting for legitimacy as a being in a complete sense rather than an “Ikea Disaster” (if there really is such a thing as an “Ikea Success”).

Given this understanding the necessity of psychotherapy of some sort in addition to psychiatric care is readily apparent. Should we recover from the brain chemistry error, we must also recover from the self-conception error, an error developed in defense of personhood during a time of self-crisis.

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To my fellows on the battlefield

(I am not referring to war here, at least, not the kind of war people first imagine)

I want to send out a message of hope to my mentally ill compatriots, especially those who cannot speak about their illness for any number of reasons.

Keep fighting.

Stay strong.

I wish you the best, and hope that some day you can be relieved of the battlefield situation. But if you never do… you have my respect. And I hope that means something.

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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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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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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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On Therapy And Therapists: Why Not Just Drugs?

Think about what happens when someone does serious injury to their back. Sometimes surgery is required. Sometimes pain meds are required.

And sometimes physical therapy is required.

Why is this?

Physical therapy is required to help get the person back to normal movement or at least improve abilities to move. If you didn’t have one, any bad habits picked up to eliminate or minimize pain wouldn’t easily be fixed.

Compare this to therapy for the mentally ill. Consider OCD. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is marked by compulsions to do one thing or another. But what happens when you do something many many times? It becomes habit. A psychiatric medication may be able to make the obsessions escapable, but removing the habit will take more than that.

I had the potential to ruminate if I wasn’t thinking about enough things. Rumination would just bring back negative thoughts. So I multitasked to an extreme degree to keep the thoughts back. Some drugs I take help me to avoid the really deep depression where the negative thoughts emanate but they can’t remove the habit of overtasking, that is multitasking taken to a level such that nothing actually gets done. It was a defense mechanism against the horrible thoughts. I’m working on this at the moment, and I’m seeking a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist/Dialectic Behavioral Therapist to help me with that.

Medications can do a lot of things. I like to think of it as someone throwing you a rope when you’re in a very deep hole that you can’t get out of. You say ‘Well, I would get out of this hole, but what will I do then? I’m always in this hole. I’ve planned days, months even years relative to being in this hole. I can’t just leave!” Therapy is a method of getting the individual to grab the rope.

It’s not just the rope. It means you have a way of getting out. Therapy helps remove the habits revolving around being in the hole.

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Mental Illnesses: Perspectives From The Mentally Ill

I’m working on putting together a new page on the site. This is for people with mental illnesses to describe their understanding and their experience of mental illness. I want to cover at least:

Depression, Bipolar (I and II), Borderline Personality Disorder, Adult ADHD, and Fibromyalgia.

A person on ProBlogger thought of this. A page to describe mental illness in a personal way, rather than a behavioral diagnostic of webMD. Not to disparage webMD by the way. They provide a good service. But they don’t have a personal description. They don’t have implications the illness has on everyday life.

We need that. The world needs that. The mentally ill and those who are not need that.

Message me at

archangel.associate@gmail.com

with a story. I won’t necessarily post them, but if I do I will not edit them. By that I mean the person will tell their own story as they see it. Editing the work would make it partially mine, and not fully theirs.

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Say ‘Thank You’

This is just a quick thought:

If we’re lucky when we are seriously ill there is someone who will help us out. With regards to mental illness this often is not done terribly well. But there are people who are trying very hard as the caretaker or support for the mentally ill and still screw up, with the best intentions.

If you have someone who has supported you in times of trouble and illness, especially mental illness, you don’t always think to thank them because the state you’re can leave you barely able to comply do anything.

If such a person exists in your life, I would hope that you would try your best to say

“Thank you”

even if they screw up, as long as their intentions were good, they probably will find hearing that a nice thing. And when someone helps you with your needs, like putting your meds together or waking you up because the medication makes you drowsy or reminding you to eat if your med makes your hunger levels very low or helps you get where you need to go because you are not capable at that time for whatever reason, consider saying

“Thank you”

It could possibly mean a lot to them.

 

–Unthought

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