On COVID-19 and Mental Health:

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Hi, it’s me, a sometimes mental health blogger who realized that I might have picked the worst time for society to stop talking about taking care of your mental health.

But the truth is, I was taking a break because I needed one. Things are weird right now, and though I’m handling it pretty well, I think I speak for everyone when I say even those who are handling it well still feel the dread and uncertainty that comes with a worldwide pandemic.

Even if you somehow were not worried about the illness itself, isolation can get to you, and so can the uncertainty when it comes to our economy and jobs. It’s great if you’re handling it well but it’s also 110% okay if you’re not. It’s okay if your spending most of your time stress eating and hiding under the covers. It’s hard times and you’re allowed to feel them. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I feel like I’ve seen two viewpoints, the utter panic one and the “grind” while off the clock one, and honestly I don’t think either one of them are very healthy. Panic is bad for you, forcing yourself to stay up to date on the stats and the latest news can plumet your mental health. So can trying to hard to be productive in a time when stress has infiltrated everyone’s lives.

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Trying to delete depression as it forms:

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Oh boy, another post about mental health, after a few months without them I’m back! Mental health is so important and with all that has been going on in my life lately, mine got a little rattled. As I said to my husband “I’m in a funk”, only, I knew what that funk felt like. It felt like the beginnings of something much worse, something that I needed to act on as soon as possible. My warning signs were clear. It was time to shape up my mental health, here’s how I’m approaching that:

Talking about it: Whether you do it with a therapist or with a trusted friend or family member, talking about your mental health is important. It not only makes you feel less alone but it also helps you untwist your feelings. The same way journaling is good for discovering what is really the root cause, talking helps you get to the bottom of your feelings. As I spoke about “my funk” I figured out some of the key things that were causing me to sink. It was important information!

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Your inner voice is telling you more about your mental health than you know.

I’ve been stressed lately. We’ve had a queue of bad events coursing through my family lately, everything from ill health to work problems. December and January  were busy, but we’re starting to see the light (maybe, hopefully?).

I knew that the stress was bothering me, like it would anyone, but I thought it ended there. I was keeping up with everything, handling what needed to be handled. It was going as well as it could.

Then that little voice in the back of my head started nagging me again, and I mean that in the rudest of ways. When I’m over-stressed, run down, anxious, or depressed my mind doesn’t stop with the negativity and it starts directing it at me.

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The little things that get you through depression:

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Every now and then you’ll see a post on social media that says “the only reason I haven’t committed suicide is because my dog would miss me” or “the only reason I haven’t spiraled into deep depression is because I’m looking forward to this trip.”

These statements are dark, but a lot of statements having to do with mental health are dark, it’s unfortunately part of it’s nature. But these statements are important, because they give reasons to live, reasons to be happy, reasons to look forward to life.

A lot of people struggle to pull themselves out of depression and while you’re in it it’s easy to believe that you need something huge to make a difference in your daily mental health, but that isn’t true. The little things might not send shock waves through your entire life, but they give you reasons to move forward, and I’m begging you to cling to the little things.

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About a past post: I think there are wrong ways to feel emotions.

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Someone I know personally sent me a message about my language in my last bipolar post, about how I said that under the right treatment plan you could feel emotions the normal way, the right way. I seemed to have slightly ruffled feathers by implying that there was a normal and right way to feel emotions.

It’s true, I suppose, that everyone reacts to their emotions differently, even completely healthy people with no hint of mental illness, that being said, there is most definitely, without a doubt in my mind, a wrong way to feel emotions and it’s not normal.

Being bipolar does not define me, but it is most certainly something that is wrong with me, I think to say otherwise is dishonest. I wouldn’t have chosen to be bipolar, even though it has gifted me with some wonderful things, like being so creative. Actually this has been a debate in my mind, would I give the creativity in exchange for the mood disorder? I don’t really know, but I would never miss the disordered moods. I’d never miss not being in control of my emotions, of not being able to feel happy when surrounded by things that should make me overjoyed. The simple fact that I could be in a situation where literally nothing is wrong and still feel depressed? That is the wrong emotion, that is the wrong way to feel emotions. The same goes for being so manic you lose control of your ability to rein in your thoughts or in some cases control your actions. Is that right? Certainly not. It is a wrong way for emotions to overtake you. They aren’t supposed to do that, they can be consuming, but they aren’t supposed to be controlling.

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I ran out of one of my bipolar medications…

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I ran out of one of my bipolar medications, and not in a “I wasn’t paying attention” sort of way, but in a “my doctor was on vacation, I switched pharmacies, and spent hours on the phone only to finally get my medication after four days of not taking it” sort of way.

After two days of not having it I noticed something, a hint of self loathing, then the next day a large drop of despair. A taste of where I would be without my medication. I don’t understand why, I’m at a really really good place in my life. Things are going great. If I would have guessed I would have thought that if I stopped all my medications I’d be manic, but I was faced with something else, clearly, after my little medical mishap. I’d be depressed right now.

I don’t know if that was what startled me most over these bits of mood turbulence that came from only four days without just one of my many medications, was it that I would be depressed now without them, surrounded by all the current joy I have, or was it the fact that this is all it took for me to feel those ends fraying, me losing control over my emotions?

The reality of bipolar isn’t an easy one, even for someone like me who isn’t a control freak. I’m not in control of my own emotions; perhaps I’m painting with too wide a brush. I am in control when I’m also in control of taking my medications.

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Touched by Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament: A Book Review

The definitive work on the profound and surprising links between manic-depression and creativity, from the bestselling psychologist of bipolar disorders who wrote An Unquiet Mind.

One of the foremost psychologists in America, “Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness” (William Styron).

The anguished and volatile intensity associated with the artistic temperament was once thought to be a symptom of genius or eccentricity peculiar to artists, writers, and musicians. Her work, based on her study as a clinical psychologist and researcher in mood disorders, reveals that many artists subject to exalted highs and despairing lows were in fact engaged in a struggle with clinically identifiable manic-depressive illness.

-Goodreads

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The importance of identifying mental health cycles:

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Life comes in phases. It’s a up down cycle of happiness and sadness. A constant revolving door between good events and bad events. It’s easy to dismiss that fact, to overlook it and think that each bad phase is going to last forever, but they never do. So, why is it so easy to dismiss the cycle?

Our emotions are overwhelming. They completely take over our thoughts. Our memories of both good and bad times get fuzzy and we think the only thing we know for sure is the crisp emotions we currently feel.

Because of this it’s easy to miss the fact that it isn’t just happiness and sadness that cycle, but all aspects of our mental health. Anxieties that we have conquered in the past can come up again in different ways. Habits that we haven’t seen in a long while can come back when we least expect them.

We often find ourselves trapped in cycles without even noticing it, and perhaps that’s because we really can’t control these cycles, and they’ll always come back despite us. But not being able to control our cycles doesn’t mean that we can’t beat them.

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