I will share my quilt

 

quilt
‘Contained’ Crazy Quilt at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Here, wrap yourself in my yesmetoo quilt made from words that pour out of my heart. Be comforted with the knowledge that you are not alone with whatever you feel. Burrow beneath the warmth from the surety that others have survived what you are experiencing.

Since I’ve started writing, I’ve learned that there are people all over the world that are very different from me yet we have shared experiences. The simple “Yes, me too!” comment is my favorite. After so many years of being told I’m crazy, stupid, or wrong, it’s comforting to know that there is at least one other person that knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So here, wrap yourself in my yesmetoo quilt whenever you need it.

Luxury

A view of "Inca de Oro" (Inca gold) town (C) in the middle of the Atacama desert, near Copiapo city, north of Santiago, Chile

Luxury is unattainable.

I am a child, luxury is a hug from my mother.

I am a young girl, luxury is a Barbie Dreamhouse.

I am a teenager, luxury is acceptance.

I am a college student, luxury is self-respect.

I am a young mother, luxury is a loving partner.

I am a survivor of domestic violence, luxury is freedom from fear.

I am a person with mental illness, luxury is sanity.

I am a woman, luxury is self-love.

via Daily Prompt: Luxury

Mindfulness fail

meditationI was going to leave this until Monday, but one of my readers kindly checked on me, which pulled me out of my funk.

Sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s, my mother became a biofeedback therapist. She made the poor choice of trying to use me as a practice subject, and my anxiety level was so high that the needle on her machine would just stay on the highest setting. I’m telling you this to give you an idea of how my brain works (or doesn’t). Like many with bipolar disorder or anxiety, I have racing thoughts. I simply can’t turn off my brain. For a while I did pretty well with Healing Touch, and I learned to relax. But then life got in the way, and I had to stop. I thought I could do it on my own, but it just never was the same.

When my therapist suggested DBT, I thought perhaps I could be successful…until I saw that it was based on being mindful. Oh great, here we go again, I’m going to need to learn to make my brain shut-the-fuck-up. Then a free online mindfulness seminar came up this week, so I attempted to watch the first video yesterday. While the speaker was discussing how to be mindful, I’m doing everything but just that. I’m thinking “I have to pee…is this really over an hour long?…crap, I need to do the dishes…no wonder, I’ve gained weight again, I’m not eating mindfully…it’s getting cold in here…I really have to pee…I wonder when the psych nurse will call me back?…I can’t pee until she calls, what if she calls while I’m in the bathroom (my cell coverage stinks so she’s going to call on our landline)…oh thank god, there’s a “download audio” button – click.”

On my iPod, I have numerous meditation audiobooks, mindfulness podcasts, chakra drum music, and now this lecture. But it does me no good, because when I choose to listen to something it’s either something from my eclectic taste in music or a mystery audiobook…while I’m doing something else of course. What, you actually thought I could sit still and listen to something? On the other hand, I am able to read a book, well usually. If it’s a really good book, why I could sit for upwards of 20 minutes before thinking I really should be doing something else.

And did I mention I’m scatterbrained and easily distracted? It takes me at least six edits to get a blog post written. I write lists to try to stay organized, but then on my list I have “make a schedule” or even sometimes “make a shorter list.” Invariably, one item will take me to one part of the house, but then I’ll find something that needs to be done there. Then I forget what it was I doing in the first place, so I go back to my list. But then the list is all scribbled on (because no way am I going to put it on the computer – can you imagine the distraction every time I sat down to the computer?), so I have to write a new list.

But I digress (see, not focusing again). According to the speaker, yes I’m back to the seminar again, mindfulness can be more effective than therapy in helping with depression. No wonder I’m so depressed…if I could be mindful I might feel better, but instead I feel worse because I’m having trouble being mindful…

The cat just jumped on the table, aww nice soft kitty needs to be pet…let’s go sit on the couch.

Symptom overload

My psychiatrist is a Doctor of Osteopathy, which is basically the same as a Medical Doctor. This type of psychiatrist may also be considered a holistic psychiatrist, as he has often stated that he believes in treating the person not the symptoms.  As the DO website states:

DOs practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Instead of just treating you for specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.

Someone who knows me very well was lovingly listening to my frustration with too many diagnoses, and too many drugs. For the most part, I prefer to be proactive in my own treatment. Learning and doing everything I can to help myself is very important to me. I want to be in control, I don’t want to just sit around and wait to feel better. She suggested another diagnosis to look up, which is often misdiagnosed and usually not even considered in adults PDD-NOS.

First, for giggles, I went to the WebMD Symptom Checker and ended up with 37 different diagnoses including Jumping Frenchmen of Maine (really, it’s a thing) and Mad Cow Disease (this is why I’ve never done this before).

OK, back to being serious..The following are excerpts from an article in The Medical Journal of Australia:

Key features are impaired social cognition and communication; obsessive interests, routines or activities; and social or occupational dysfunction.

Pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) are comprised of the neuropsychiatric developmental disabilities, autistic disorder (autism), Asperger disorder and PDD — “not otherwise specified”. These conditions are also commonly known as autism spectrum disorders. The key features are severe developmental difficulties with social cognition and communication, and non-functional obsessive interests, routines or activities.

PDDs are considered to have been under-diagnosed worldwide, and the variety of presentations and outcomes has only recently been recognised.

… IQ criteria can be used to divide PDDs into “high functioning” (IQ of 70 or greater), and “low functioning” (IQ of under 70).

Taking all this into consideration, along with my other diagnoses of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, then sprinkle in some general depression and anxiety and top with a generous helping of PTSD; I’ve come up with the following simplified chart, and I’ve found that I have a majority of the symptoms in all three groups. Which then explains why I can never find a medication cocktail that works, and perhaps it’s time to stop the med-merry-go-round and concentrate on Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

confusionOverwhelming confusion and frustration shall now commence. I’m feeling very grateful that I’ll be seeing my therapist tomorrow.

PDD-NOS
∙Impaired social/communication skills
∙Impaired development of relationships
∙OCD-type behavior
∙Social dysfunction
∙Impaired perceptions of emotions
∙Impaired expression of emotions
∙Psychiatric comorbities
BPD
∙Impulsive/risky behavior
(with difficulty controlling said behavior)
∙Inability to control self-harm
∙Suicidal behavior
∙Wide mood swings
∙Intense episodes of anxiety/depression
∙Inappropriate anger
∙Inappropriate antagonism
∙Feeling misunderstood, neglected,
alone, empty or hopeless
∙Fear of being alone
∙Feelings of self-hatred
Bipolar Disorder
(a little more difficult to simplify due to several different types)
Mania:
∙Inflated self-esteem
∙Decreased need for sleep
∙Talkativeness
∙Racing thoughts
∙Distractibility
∙Agitation
∙Impulsive/risky behavior
Depression:
(most of these last all day,
every day)
∙Sad, empty, hopeless, tearful
∙Reduced interest or pleasure in
almost all activities
∙Insomnia or sleeping all day
∙Fatigue
∙Worthlessness
∙Inappropriate guilt
∙Suicidal ideations or planning

Time for a refresher course

The fifth version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses) came out in 2013, and people still seem clueless (but then, who really reads the DSM).  Regardless of whether or not you have bipolar disorder, or you have a partner or friend with bipolar disorder, or just want to be able to understand what someone is going through, it’s important to get both professional and anecdotal evidence (as long as the person has actually been diagnosed with bipolar disorder).

It’s quite often difficult to diagnose someone with bipolar disorder. I was originally diagnosed with major clinical depression and anxiety. For me, I think it was because of the abusive situation in which I was living. Being depressed most of the time, it makes sense that the diagnosis would be depression. It wasn’t until after I escaped the domestic violence that I received the correct diagnosis at the age of 40. Looking back I can see it throughout my life, and it was actually a relief because it explained a lot of behavior that I didn’t understand and of which I was ashamed.

This is from an article by Natasha Tracy about myths of about bipolar disorder. I strongly suggest that you read the whole article, she goes into depth about each myth.

Myths About People with Bipolar Disorder

These myths are brought to you by the commenters, here, at HealthyPlace.

  1. Bipolars are liars
  2. Bipolars cheat on their partners
  3. Bipolars are manipulative
  4. Bipolars are “spoiled teenagers”
  5. Bipolars feel it’s “all about them”
  6. Bipolars are angry and violent
  7. Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are almost the same thing

Well now, that’s quite a list. It’s amazing I’m allowed to live outside with all the “sane” people. For my own part, I am nothing like those seven things. I have never known a bipolar that was those seven things.

The following is from an article on the Healthline website:

The highs or extremely joyful times are called manic episodes. Low periods marked by sadness or hopelessness are called depressive episodes. A mixed state is a mood episode that contains moments of mania and depression.

Manic Episode Signs: Some people experience several mood episodes in one day. Others may have sustained periods of one single mood or experience episodes infrequently.

Not all manic episodes are marked by happy or positive feelings(*see note). You may just as easily act anxious, restless, and irritable. Your speech may speed up and your attention may be easily diverted.

People in manic episodes often have difficulty sleeping. Sometimes, a manic episode can cause a person to energetically start a new project or work extra hard on something. But a manic episode may also lead to reckless behaviors, especially those related to sex, drugs, or money.

(*Note: I get agitated mania, not pleasant one bit. This is when I’m in danger of harming myself or others.)

Depressive Episode Signs:  Depressive episodes are long periods in which a person feels discouraged and hopeless. Like someone with clinical depression, a bipolar patient often withdraws from activities that were once enjoyable, such as having sex, socializing with friends, or dabbling in hobbies.Sleeping and eating patterns often change when a person is in a depressive episode. In serious cases, a depressive episode can lead a person to alcohol or drug abuse. Patients may also have thoughts of suicide.

Mixed State Signs:  A bipolar disorder patient in a mixed state may demonstrate some of the best and worst aspects of the disease, which can confuse those close to the bipolar person. For example, someone in a mixed state may be very energetic and hard working, but also seem very depressed. Mixed states can be especially frustrating for the bipolar patient. Feelings of elation may be accompanied by crying, for example. Changes in appetite and sleeping habits may also develop during this state. (Note: I can certainly attest to mixed states be especially frustrating).

Bipolar Subtypes:  Like many health challenges, bipolar disorder can be mild, severe, or somewhere in between. There are three subtypes of the condition: (Note: I think this is why most people who do not have bipolar disorder get confused, it even confuses us at times. FYI, I have Bipolar I Disorder.)

  • cyclothymic disorder: the mildest version of bipolar disorder. A person still has highs and lows, but they’re less dramatic.
  • bipolar I disorder: the most serious subtype, with extreme shifts between mania and depression.
  • bipolar II disorder: less serious than bipolar I disorder. It can still cause problems in relationships, school, and work.

Some excellent sources for information and support for both people with the disorder and loved ones is DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance), NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), PsychCentral, and, WebMD

And if you want to get really technical (there are all kinds of “Bipolar Disorder With…” diagnoses) checkout the DSM webpage, following are their diagnoses (which I believe will be updated soon).

  • Bipolar I Disorder, single manic episode
  • Bipolar I Disorder MRE, manic/hypomanic
  • Bipolar I Disorder MRE, depressed
  • Bipolar I Disorder MRE, mixed
  • Bipolar I Disorder MRE, unspecified
  • Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorder
  • Bipolar II Disorder AND Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorder

And finally, from the Mayo Clinic Website:

Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

Please comment below about your experiences, or any corrections or additions you may feel are important.