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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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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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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