Striking the balance between overloading people and suffering in silence:

It is very hard to tell people about the hardships you are going through without being an overall mood crusher. It’s why a lot of people suffer in silence- without support. They are afraid of being turned away. They are afraid of the texts coming in less and less, especially those who suffer from chronic depression. At some point people want and expect a different answer when they ask you how you are doing and start pulling back when they don’t because they can’t handle it.

It is easy to blame this all on bad friends, they don’t love us unconditionally! They should, at least we feel so, but we also have to know that talking about our depression all the time can drag other peoples mood down too making it harder for them to support us and also harder for them to cope.

Hoping to find a balance? It’s possible though, like most things with mental health it is also very difficult.

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Childhood bipolar diagnosis: The good, bad, and ugly.

I saw a post about whether or not children get diagnosed with bipolar and it sounded like a lot of doctors have changed their diagnosing and are waiting till the children are older. I don’t think this is wrong, a lot of children can have mental health episodes without being bipolar and I do think for a while we were over diagnosing everything from bipolar to ADHD. The fact is that children are hard to read, and I totally understand if doctors are hesitating to pull the trigger on really big diagnostics like bipolar disorder

But being a child (I was six) diagnosed with bipolar disorder I think there are both benefits and draw backs from being both diagnosed at that age and actually being bipolar that young.

The Positives:

  • I was able to learn the big lessons early: Being diagnosed early meant that I got to learn the hard mental health lessons young and didn’t have to struggle with them as an adult. I learned that going off your medications was a terrible idea and that my episodes of mania and depression weren’t cured they were medicated. A lot of young adults who are freshly diagnosed try to go off their medication because they feel better and they think that maybe everyone got it wrong. These unmedicated periods make the suicide rates so much higher for bipolar patients and can cause other major problems. It was easier as a nine year old to go off of them while being super supervised by my parents to make sure nothing bad happened.
  • I was able to learn coping skills while learning other daily skills: It’s easier to make pathways while your brain is growing! I was able to learn a lot of skills while I was still picking up life habits, that means they are seriously ingrained in me. This is great!
  • I’ve learned which meds worked young: I’ve had my trial and error phase with most medications. And while it’s possible for me to need a new medication at some point in my life, we still have a solid foundation to work with based on which classes of medication have worked for me in my (long) past! The trial and error phase is terrible, I think anyone can tell you that, so having most of mine behind me as a young adult is wonderful.
  • I spent a lot more time analyzing my emotions: I do better than a lot of freshly diagnosed adults at identifying my swings. It’s because I’ve had parents point out my habits over the years so I have a base understanding of them. This makes it easier as an adult because I don’t spiral as much because I have learned how to catch them before they get to bad (normally- I’m still human).

The Negatives:

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The plus side of being open about your mental illness:

You probably have gathered that I really don’t care who knows I’m bipolar, seeing that I run a blog that is mostly on mental health. I’m not just open online though, I talk about it in person too. While I’m a firm believer that your mental illness isn’t the most interesting thing about you and you should never frame your identity around it, I also believe that it’s important to be able to talk about your illness.

Here’s why:

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Be your obnoxious mental health advocate:

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When you’re going through a hard time mental health wise, it seems impossible to get up and do something to help it. It’s hard, everything takes 10xs the energy, you don’t have any motivation and you certainly don’t have any dedication. Its where mental illness gets a bad name, that people write it off as a laziness problem. It isn’t a laziness problem, but tackling one thing on your list can help you break through the chemical fog that’s taken over your brain.

Depression, severe anxiety, they are all consuming. I’m not suggesting you can “fix” it easily or with a few simple steps. I know you can’t, but as I’ve written about time and time before there are ways you can help yourself slowly move towards a better mental state.

But what is going to force you to do it? To dance to an upbeat song, to sit outside in the sun for a little bit, to get out of bed and get dressed nice, to clean the kitchen, to do the laundry, to call the doctor, to reach out to a friend, to wash your hair.

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Don’t be so quick with your mental health medications warning:

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I once wrote a blog post about not googling all your medications side effects, especially mental health medications. I said it does nothing but add stress and anxiety and it can make you imagine side effects that aren’t real.

I stand by that post, but I also want to expand on it.

I recently joined a few bipolar support groups on Facebook. I haven’t done this before because my disorder is fairly regulated and I haven’t been having problems with my medication, but I thought it was a good idea to have a sense of community.

One thing that I notice a lot of is people saying their doctor is putting them on a new medication and asking what it’s done for people. I get the concept, if it’s done good things for people it’ll make you worry about it less, but the fact is the reverse is also true.

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Enjoy things you’re bad at.

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I’m one of those people who get frustrated when they don’t immediately become good at which ever hobby they pick up. I guess I didn’t used to be this way, because all the hobbies that I have now I was pretty bad at towards the start. But lets be real- at seven or nine I probably thought I was pretty good at things even when I was doing quite terrible at them.

I’ve struggled to pick up hobbies as an adult because of this though. I don’t like the idea of failure, even though it isn’t technically failure to be bad while you’re learning. It just feels that way. I get stuck in ruts because of it.

It’s different at work, because it’s required, but on my own free time I don’t want to deal with being bad at things. It’s been this way for a long time. But as I was singing in the shower the other day I remembered how awful of a singer I was, and I laughed, because I sing around people all the time. It doesn’t matter to me then that I’m always off tune and should never try to hit the high notes. I just do it, because it makes me happy. Music makes me happy and singing when the music stops makes me happy.

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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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