Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures – What are they?

eye with monster

I want to tell you a little about something that is going on with me.  This is very difficult to talk about.  Admitting this is happening to me is difficult.  Talking about it is difficult.  It shouldn’t be this difficult, but it is.

You may remember back in February I was hospitalized for having seizures and it was then determined that I do not have epilepsy.  It was thought that a medication I was on may have caused the seizures but that isn’t the case, I’ve had more seizures since being off the medication.  (some people prefer to call these seizures events or episodes instead of seizures since the brain is not firing like it does during a true seizure.)   I do not have them regularly, and I haven’t had many, but I do still have them.

“A seizure is a temporary loss of control, often with abnormal movements, unconsciousness, or both. Epileptic seizures are caused by sudden abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Psychogenic (non-epileptic) seizures are attacks that look like epileptic seizures, but are not caused by abnormal electrical discharges. They are stress-related or “emotional.” They are sometimes called pseudoseizures, but “psychogenic non-epileptic seizures” (PNES) is now the preferred term.” -1

The type of seizures I get are psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).  By definition, PNES are a physical manifestation of a psychological disturbance and are a type of Somatoform Disorder called a conversion disorder.-1  “For some patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, the seizures are a manifestation of trauma, which is also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In order to treat patients with PTSD, the clinician has to take the seizure apart to see what the seizure represents in terms of emotions and memory as well as where this trauma is stored in the body.”(Kelley)-1

Since many people with epilepsy have normal reading with an EEG, PNES is diagnosed by an EEG with video monitoring which has to be read by a specialist in epilepsy.  Diagnosis this way is nearly 100% accurate.  There are about 10% of patients with epilepsy who also have PNES.

“PNES, unlike epileptic seizures, are not the result of a physical brain disease. Rather, they are emotional, stress-induced, and result from traumatic psychological experiences, sometimes from the forgotten past. It is well known that emotional or psychological stresses can produce physical reactions in people with no physical illness. For example, everyone has blushed in embarrassment or been nervous and anxious as part of a “stage fright” reaction. Today, we also know that more extreme emotional stresses can actually cause physical illnesses.”-1

As my psychiatrist said, my brain just gets to the point where it decides it can’t handle any more and says screw it.  I’m seeing a psychiatrist for medication to help with anxiety and my normal bipolar stuff, and whatever else comes up.  I’m seeing a psychologist for therapy to try to figure out what is causing this.  I’m not going to discuss what is causing my seizures because frankly we aren’t exactly sure yet.

Today I wanted to make people aware that psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are real.  People cannot control them.  People often refuse to accept the diagnosis because of the stigma related to it.  Family and often physicians do not understand that the patient cannot control what is happening to them.  I wanted you to know that you know someone who is going through this, and I have no control over it.  I also wanted people to know they are not as rare as you may think,  “in the general population the prevalence rate is 2-33 per 100, 000, making PNES nearly as prevalent as multiple sclerosis or trigeminal neuralgia”.-2

for more information please read

  1. Psychogenic (Non-Epileptic) Seizures by University of South Florida College of Medicine
  2. The Truth about Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures 
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Mindfulness Monday 13

from d100 008

If your relationship to the present moment is not right
nothing can ever be right in the future
because when the future comes
it’s the present moment.

~Eckhart Tolle

 

The primary cause of unhappiness
is never the situation
but your thoughts about it.

~Eckhart Tolle

 

 

Have you tried? Do you think ___ caused it?

butterfly color
Butterfly, by w. holcombe

Hello.  My name is Wendy.  I just turned 53 years old and I have chronic illnesses, including Meniere’s Disease.  Unless something amazing happens, they are not going to go away.  Sometimes I feel I need to make this statement before anyone speaks to me.

Recently I was asked a few things about my health.  This was not by people who see me often, or have much knowledge about my illnesses.  This is how I handled a few of the questions, some of it was good, some not so good.

Have you tried yoga?  It can really help your balance.  I used to do yoga regularly until the Meniere’s Disease got so bad and I ended up on my face during a class.  It can only help your balance if you have some to start with!  After having a disease ruin your balance system, yoga isn’t possible.  (ok, this may have been a bit harsh, and some people with Meniere’s may get some help from yoga, I don’t know.  However, anyone as advanced as I am, who has been through Vestibular Therapy and still has balance issues all the time, cannot do yoga.  And if you have had a disease the compromises your balance for as long as I have, do you not think I would have heard about YOGA by now?)  

I heard about these positions you can get in that will make vertigo go away.  Why can’t you just do that?  There are maneuvers you can do to help certain types of vertigo.  However, there are numerous causes for vertigo and what causes mine can not be helped by those maneuvers. (do people think my doctors would just let me suffer  this much if it was so simple to “cure” my vertigo?)

Do you think this could have been caused by all the drugs back when you were younger?  Okay, this one caught me off guard.  I thought, what the heck is she talking about?  I may have experimented a little when I was younger, but she wouldn’t have known that.  I must have looked shocked and said, “nooooo?”  She then explained, “All those psychiatric drugs they put you on.”  I was shocked.  How could someone think that the treatment I received for my mental illness caused me to get chronically ill?  I’m sure I looked shocked when I answered, “No.”  “Well I was thinking….”  I stopped and said, “I know many people with Meniere’s disease and really we have nothing in common except some of us have relatives with the same disease.  They have no idea what causes this.”  “That’s good to hear, I’ve been so worried about it.”  “Well there is no need to worry about that.  The medication I’ve taken for my Bipolar did not cause me to get ill.”   AHHH!

This last question has continued to plague me.  Is this one of the reasons people do not seek help for their mental illness, they are afraid of what side effects the medications may cause?

I have Bipolar I disorder.  I take medication for it.  I also try to keep a good sleep schedule, eat well, keep my stress controlled, and see a therapist…there is a lot more to taking care of yourself  when you have a mental illness than just taking your medication.

I have never been afraid of taking my medication.  Each time my medication is changed my doctor and I talk about it.  We discuss exactly what it is supposed to do, any side effects, if it will react with any other medications I’m on at the time, and if the side effects are worth it.  I don’t just take a medication not knowing what it will do to me.  No one should do that.  If your doctor does not automatically discuss these things with you make sure you ask BEFORE you fill your prescription and start taking a medication you are not familiar with.  I also advise you to read the information the pharmacist gives you about your new medication just in case your doctor forgot something.  It happens, doctors are human too.

I have decided to take a medication even though I knew there was a chance it could cause damage to my thyroid.  It did.  I now have to be on medication for hypothyroidism.  Am I upset that the medication caused this side effect.  No.  I went into this with my eyes wide open.  At the time there were very few medications to treat Bipolar I and I decided the pay off from the drug was worth the side effect that it may cause.  I’m still happy I decided to take that medication and have those years as a stable person.  Truthfully, I would take it again today if that was the only medication that would keep me stable.

I would hate to think that people would not seek out treatment for any illness because they are afraid of the side effects of the medication they might be put on.  Become informed.  Know what the medications will do.  Know how it will help you and the side effects it may cause, you decide if it is the right medication for you.

Many of you may be thinking that there are times that a certain side effect is unknown.  You are right.  There are many stories of someone who took a medication and had a severe reaction.  There are stories of people taking a medication and years later they find out that it hurt them in ways they never knew it could.   These stories are not typical.  We simply can’t live in fear and not be treated because of the “what ifs”.

I can tell you, if I hadn’t been treated for my Bipolar for all these years, my life would be totally different, and not in a good way.  I can almost tell you for certainty that I would not be alive to write this post.  I will never regret taking the medications that helped save my life.

 

My Story – Being Bipolar

wendy hairOn this the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month I’ve decided to tell a little about me.  I have a story.  I feel it needs to be told.  If for no one else, this is for me.  (This is the very condensed  PG version.)

Something was wrong.  I didn’t know what it was, but I was wrong.  I was wrong inside.  I didn’t react to things the way other people did.   I knew it.  I could see how other people were different.  I was always told to be myself.  But I just wanted to be like everyone else, I didn’t understand what it meant be  “myself”.  I spent days in tears feeling like I had this black cloud over me.  At a very young age I longed for my life to end.   Other days I was flying high.  I could not control my thoughts from going everywhere, I could not control my actions, I could only follow them.  This wall all considered a natural part of growing up.  I was just a moody child, then a hormonal pre-teen, a troubled teen….  I look back and don’t know how I, or the people closest to me, survived.  There are many stories from this time that are very hard to tell.  They may come out at a different time.

My ups and downs carried on for years, and years, and years…. the older I got the worse it was.  After all when you get older your actions have many more consequences.  However, when the moods were swinging to either end, those consequences simply didn’t exist in my mind.   On the down swings I was fighting for my life, literally.  On the up swings I couldn’t rationalize things.  I couldn’t see beyond the emotions.

After a failed suicide attempt at 25, I finally started getting some mental health treatment.  I was told I suffered from Manic Depression, and was put on Lithium and an antidepressant and started seeing a therapist.  Maybe if I had just been able to stay the course that I was originally put on life would have been different, but things changed.

I was re-diagnosed a number of times.  Things changed so much over the next few years it was a constant battle of up and down trying so hard to get a grasp on reality.  The biggest mistake that was made, I was told that I did not have a mental illness, I had hypoglycemia and the fluctuating blood sugar levels were causing my mood swings. I was so relieved that I didn’t have a mental illness.  I was normal like everyone else.  I simply had to watch my diet and everything would be alright. I believed this for years and tried so hard to control everything with my diet.  If things got out of control, I would beat myself up for not following my diet strictly enough.

People couldn’t see just how bad I was because I was still able to hold down a job, even if I changed jobs frequently, I seemed normal, I was just “moody”.  I went through friends like water.  Friends I made when I was manic, couldn’t stand the depressive side, and friends I made when I was depressed, didn’t understand the up me.  Friends I made when I was in my normal state couldn’t understand my swings and they simply disappeared.

I had a job, but I also had a lot of debt.  I lost days.  There are huge gaps in my memory.  I’ve met people while I was in a normal state and had no recollection of meeting them before.  I didn’t remember men I obviously knew very well.  I did drugs.  I stayed up for days.  Risky behavior?  There were no thoughts of the risk.  Nothing could hurt me.  And if it did, so what?  In both states there was not much thought about my own safety.

Then the day came when the depression took hold so tightly I held a razor to my wrist and started to slice.  I just made the most cursory of cuts, deciding exactly the way I should do this, how deep did I have to go, how much would it hurt, how long would it take….then suddenly I thought….The Mess.  There will be such a mess and my roommate will find it. Someone will have to clean up the mess.  That thought saved my life.  That thought gave me enough pause to call a suicide hotline.  I would not tell them where I lived but I promised to go to the out patient center of the mental health department and talk.  I drove there, and when I got there I talked and told what happened that night.  I could not promise I would not harm myself if I left.  I honestly don’t know if I could have or not, but I knew I needed someone to help me.  I needed to know for sure that I could get through the next day.  I knew if I said I would not be a threat to myself or others then I would not get the help I desperately needed.

Since I was not able to say I would not harm myself I was not allowed to leave, I was told I as going to be admitted to a mental health facility.  I admit I actually felt a relief.  I suddenly felt safe, at least for the night.

The police came and took me to the hospital.  I was entered as a non-voluntary admission.  That is the only way my insurance would pay for this, but I had insurance now, this was what got me into this facility instead of the state hospital.  I had no idea the amount of debt I was about to get into.  I needed help, that is all I thought about.  I no longer cared what people thought of me, I no longer cared if this would follow me forever, I only wanted to lie down and never wake up.  I knew these thoughts had to stop, I knew if something didn’t change I would end my life, soon.

(If you would like to know more about my stay in the mental hospital please see my post: Inequality in the Mental Health System.)  The stay in the mental hospital changed my life forever.  I was there longer than I thought I would be.  The little overnight stay turned into two weeks,  but when I left I was in the mental health care system.  I had group sessions set up, I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist and therapist.  I had a new lease on life.  With another wrong diagnosis, Borderline Personality Disorder.

Soon after starting to see my new psychiatrist it was then determined that I do indeed have Bipolar I disorder.  I started being treated with Lithium and other medications again and things finally started to get on track.

It took some time to get the medication just right.  It took a lot of time in therapy.  It takes a lot of work to get things right and get better.  It takes a lot of work to keep struggling through the system.  It takes a lot of work to help yourself when there doesn’t seem to be an out.

I’m a lucky one.  I was able to find help.  I was able to get a correct diagnosis.  I was able to get a treatment plant that worked.  I’m still able to get the help I need, when I need it.  So may people are not as lucky as I am.

There are many obstacles in getting mental health care.  I fought hard to get where I am today.  I still fight hard to ensure my mental health is a priority.  I will never give up.

Too many people are fighting for mental health care and have so many obstacles in their way.  If you are one of these people, please don’t give up.  Reach out. In my experience, things don’t always go smoothly, but getting help meant my life is so much better than my life was before.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline    If you are in crisis please call.  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Mental Health Alliance (This site has a lot of useful information, including help getting care without health insurance.)
National Institute of Mental Health
Seeking Mental Health Care: Taking the First, Scary Step (this is a very useful article from Psych Central)

Mental Health Care Awareness Month is closing, but we should always be aware and working to obtain equal and affordable mental health care for everyone without stigma.

 

 

Depression, it’s not just being sad.

Recently someone asked me to write a post on what I felt depression was like.  Funny thing, I had just read a post over at Bipolar BarbieQ that included that very thing, I think everyone could get a lot from her post I’m the Queen of Run-on’s it is an honest gut wrenching post and I wish all of you would read it.  (yes this is the second time I’ve shared this post, I really like it.)  She also had this really cool graph in her post, so I’m going to steal it.

depression graph

 

Most people think that Depression means you are Sad.  Even Webster’s Thesaurus will say that Depression and Sadness are synonyms.  Well yeah, you are sad when you are depressed, but there is so much more, so very much more.

When someone says they are depressed, that means they are sad, when someone says they have depression, this is a mental illness.  When you look up the definition of Depression you get both answers, “(1) :  a state of feeling sad :  (2) :  a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

I think feelings of Depression can vary from person to person.  Profound Depression is all-consuming.  You don’t just feel sad, it consumes you.  You have difficulty doing anything else because your feelings are so torn up.  It spirals down to the depths of your soul and you are trying your best to claw your way out.  Depression can also have states of severe anxiety mixed in, feelings of paranoia, feelings of suicide.  When you are just sad, you don’t have all of these other emotions consuming you.  With depression you often just feel numb most of the time. Nothing can bring you out of that darkness.  You find joy in absolutely nothing.

The definition above mentions “difficulty in thinking and concentration”…yes we can click that off my list.  “A significant increase or decrease in appetite”…oh I eat, I want comfort food, or anything that might make it in my mouth sometimes. I’ve actually envied people who lose their appetite when they are depressed.  “Time spent sleeping”…now this one is tricky.  Sometimes I sleep a lot, sometimes I can’t sleep at all.  Normally, I have a very hard time sleeping when I’m very depressed. “Feelings of dejection and hopelessness”  YES!  That is the overwhelming feeling that I have, HOPELESSNESS.  “Sometimes suicidal tendencies”..this depends on just how deep my depression gets.  Normally I am not suicidal but I’ll wish I wouldn’t wake up.  I’m just so tired and hopeless, I don’t want to have to deal with it anymore.

Something they don’t mention, I cry, a lot.  I’m an emotional person anyway, but when I’m depressed I cry every day, many times a day.  Not just a few tears, I sob.

There are other feelings that get all mixed up when I feel depressed.  I feel very guilty. What right to I have to feel depressed when there are so many tragedies in the world?  What am I putting my husband and friends through when I’m like this?  Why does it keep coming back, it must be me?

I get angry.  Angry at me, angry at everything.  I try not to speak to people because the thoughts in my mind are so snide.  Why can’t they get it?  Why can’t they do things the way they should?  Yes, in my mind everything needs to go the way I think it should, then I’d be happier.  I want to control, everything.  I think that’s because I feel so out of control.  I lash out.  Some of this must be someone else’s fault, if I can find out who then I will have to feel better.  I feel so alone. I try to isolate myself from other people so I won’t hurt them, even though being alone is the worst thing I could do.  I never said I was being logical.

When depression takes hold of me I used to believe it would never end.  Now I know it will and that helps me get through it. It makes me seek help.  I keep telling myself, “This will end.  This will end.”

I do not just have Clinical Depression, I have Bipolar I disorder.  That means that, unless I’m stable, I will have severe manic states and depressive states.  As I said, I used to think when I was depressed that nothing could pull me out of it, but then I’d be okay for a while and couldn’t believe I ever thought that way.  Then I’d go manic and think that nothing could harm me.  After a manic swing, I couldn’t believe I ever felt that way.  I’m lucky that I’ve been mostly stable for a long time now.  I will have break through depression sometimes and need my medication adjusted.  My new psychiatrist told me that often when people get older they have fewer manic swings but battle depression more.  That’s why he prescribed a drug that is for Bipolar Depression, and it seems to be working well.

If you are having any symptoms of depression please seek out professional help.  It doesn’t just go away.  Psych Central lists the first steps to getting help, and a list of professionals in your area.  You can find this information here.  Where To Get Help For Depression.

If you are having suicidal thoughts please call

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255

 

If it’s wrong, then it’s wrong

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  This year the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is asking everyone to take the pledge to stop the stigma surrounding Mental Illness.  You can do that officially here: Stigma Free. (#stigmafree)

stand-up-logo-hi-res-300x200

I think the stigma around mental illness has gotten better over the years, but there is a long way to go.  I saw this great article talking about phrases you shouldn’t say, I think it’s worth the check out.  9 Phrases You Shouldn’t Say During Mental Health Awareness Month.

Here, I want to talk about how differently we treat and think about people with mental illness compared to other illnesses.  For example cancer.  Why cancer?  Because you’d never make fun of someone who has it, you’d never blame them for having it, if the treatment doesn’t work you’d never say they aren’t doing enough, and you’d treat them with respect and compassion.   It is wrong to treat a person with a mental illness differently than you would treat a person with cancer.

A few facts you may not know.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. (Oct. 23, 2015)  – See more at:on the NAMI site.  Learn More Mental Health by the Numbers. 

 

Think about that, when you meet 5 people, chances are one of them has a diagnosable mental illness.  That’s huge!

There are many reasons someone may not get help, one of them is the stigma behind mental illness.  Because of the stigma, they are afraid of how people may react, they are afraid they may lose their jobs, respect from others….   This barrier for treatment has to stop.  People cannot feel embarrassed to go for help.  They cannot be made to feel they need to tough it out, to pull themselves together, to stop being so dramatic…..  We need to acknowledge when someone is having difficulty and let them know you support them.  We must also realize that, just like people with cancer, people with a mental illness may not realize it, they may be afraid of the diagnosis, they may not want to face it…  If we noticed someone we care about feeling or looking sick a lot we would encourage them to see a doctor.   We need to do the same when we see someone who we care about struggling with mental illness.  We need to let everyone know they are cared about and supported.

There are many reasons why people do not get help that have nothing to do with not wanting it or searching for it.  Often people  do not get the care they need because they simply can’t get it.  They don’t have insurance.  They can’t afford it, even with their insurance.  (there are a lot of barriers within the insurance system that keep people from having access to health care, I could write a whole post on just this crisis).  We often think there are public places people can go, “the mental health system will help”.  This is far from true.  There are a lot of hoops one has to go through to get be seen by someone in the system.  Often someone with a mental health issue gets way too overwhelmed to be able to do all of this.  Even when someone is in dire need of help they often have to wait months to see a professional through the mental health system.  Unless a person is “a threat to themselves or others”, it is almost impossible to get in to the mental health system in a timely manner.

These barriers are signs of stigma within the system.  Many people need and want help, but can’t get it because of the barriers.  We have to break down these barriers.  We must break down the stigma that people with mental health deserve less then people who have any other type of illness.

Please take the time to take the pledge to stay Stigma Free.

Read more about Mental Health Awareness Month and find more ways to contribute through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

 

#BAD2014 Blog Action Day 2014 – #Inequality In Mental Health

Blog badgeI admit I had not heard of Blog Action Day until yesterday.  I left a comment on fellow blogger Kitt O’Malley’s blog and she told me that it was worthy of a post for this year’s theme Inequality.  Kitt is an amazing mental health advocate, please go and check out her blog.  Kitt O’Malley – Living with Bipolar. Loved by God.

Inequality and Access to Mental Health Care

Sometimes you need help.  You may or may not want it.  You are a risk to yourself or others.  A stay in a psychiatric facility is needed.  The care you receive will vary drastically depending on your financial means.

This is my story…..a 30 something white woman, with not the best insurance, with no savings, and no other financial support….

I was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility, I was suicidal. I had called a Suicide Help Line and was talked into coming in to a mental health facility to “talk”.  They wouldn’t let me leave.   I was taken from there to the psychiatric hospital in the back of a police car.  It was scary.  Really I wanted to be committed, I was afraid of what might happen, but officially it was involuntary. My insurance would only pay for inpatient treatment if it was listed as involuntary. However, once I got in, I wasn’t told my rights.

I wasn’t treated badly. I actually had a good stay for the most part. There were no windows my room.  The view from my window in the main room was through a thick metal screen, it was more like a prison. But it was a nice atmosphere for the most part, and it was clean and the people were good and they had really good food!!  It was surprising to me how much the patients were supportive of each other.  There were times when you would hear screaming and there were times when everyone was rushed into their rooms and closed in….but for the most part, it was a quiet and restful stay.  This hospital had separate wards depending on the seriousness of the illnesses.  This is not always the case.

My biggest problem was the psychiatrist they made me see. He made me very uncomfortable. I was a rape victim and he gave me the creeps. He insisted on being in the room alone with me. I complained and complained and I couldn’t get this resolved. He said I had Borderline Personality Disorder and my complaints were part of my disorder.  (I had already been diagnosed as being Bipolar.  This diagnosis was again confirmed by a different psychiatrist.)

My second problem was I was told I needed to stay beyond the time my insurance normally pays and that they had gotten approval from my insurance company for the extended stay.  They didn’t do that.  Since they didn’t get that, my insurance didn’t want to pay for the rest of my stay. Well I had no way to leave. They wouldn’t let me. Plus, I didn’t know they didn’t get approval for the rest of the stay.  I left there with a HUGE bill.

This stay ended up making me almost declare bankruptcy. did it help me mentally? Yes. Mainly because it got me in the system and I was able to continue treatment.

I did end up not having to pay for the psychiatrist outrageous bill he tried to saddle me with because of the complaints I had made against him and the many request to have him removed from my case. I also had most of the bill from the hospital dropped because they didn’t get it authorized, and since I was involuntarily committed I couldn’t be held legally obligated to the papers I signed when I was admitted. I wasn’t of “sound mind”.

However, I lost my job. I couldn’t pay my bills when I got out. I was single and alone. My roommate stole from me when I was in the hospital.  I had no one to help me.  If I hadn’t been so determined to get better, and stay the course, I would easily have stopped taking my medications….I had a hard time affording them. I would have stopped going to therapy and to a psych doc….again it was very had to pay for it.  However, I wanted to be more normal.  A lot of Bipolar people really miss the highs…I did.  I’m an artist, and I will say, I feel I creating has been a lot harder than it was before. But I will not jeopardize my health.

These are trials I had and I was really there because I wanted to be. I didn’t have an advocate. I wish I had. There were a lot of things going on with my case that no one told me about.
If I had not been so eager to want to get better, I don’t know if I could have done it.
The system is so very far from perfect!
I worked so hard. I still work hard at it.
many people who are involuntarily committed won’t be committed to working at it.

Many people who need help and want it won’t even be able to get in a hospital because they don’t have the funds.

No one should feel they have to declare bankruptcy because they need help with their mental health.  My credit was ruined for years after this hospital stay.  I was afraid to answer the phone because of bill collectors.  Yes, I was able to finally get the bills straight with the hospital, but it put me in such financial straits with everything else it followed me for years.   My employer didn’t hold my job for me.  So when I got out of the hospital, I had no job, and a whole lot of bills.  I was still in a very fragile state of mind.  This is not the ideal way to enter back in society after leaving a psychiatric facility.

Can you see the Inequality in the Mental Health Care system?

Can you see how different it would have been for me if I had the financial means to pay for a higher quality facility, and have an advocate help me?

Can you see how different it would have been for me if I had not had the financial means I had?  If I hadn’t had insurance?  I easily could have either have been ignored, or put in a state hospital.  I could have been put in a ward with people who were very dangerous.  I could have gotten lost in the system.  These kind of things happen every day.

What can we do to stop the Inequality in the Mental Health Care System?

The first thing we can do is talk about it.

Talk about it more….and more….perhaps the more we talk about it the more attention we call to it.

The more attention we call to it….the more noise we make about it…they will have to do something about it!

How? What?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how to fix it.  I wish I did.

But I do know this is an inequality that must end!  People cannot continue to suffer because they can’t afford mental health care.

 

To read more on Psychiatric Hospitalization please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness site.  NAMI

 

 

Being Bipolar….will I ever really be stable?

Bipolar
Bipolar by SimoneBryne at deviantArt.com

Note….At this time one of my medications has stopped working, my psychiatrist has replaced it with another medication, but at this point, I am not stable.  I have recently read through the past year of my blog and my personal journals and feel I haven’t been completely stable for a long time, but I have been manageable….most of the time.  When I reference Bipolar Illness below I am referring to Bipolar I.  There are different types of Bipolar, when you think of classic Manic Depression, you normally think of Bipolar I.

This post is going to come from the heart, and will reveal things I haven’t freely talked about outside of my therapist’s office.

From all the tests, and talking, and everything else psych doctors do, my psychiatrist feels I have had Bipolar tendencies most of my life.  My first suicide attempt was at 11 years of age, but it wasn’t the first time I thought of it.  It just isn’t right for an 11-year-old to think that dying would be for the best.  I remember my sister and I had been arguing….I think…I don’t remember what it was about, or if it really even happened.  I guess that wasn’t important.  I know I silently went into my parent’s bedroom, they weren’t at home, I opened the top drawer of my father’s chest of drawers and took out his pistol.  I knew nothing about guns.  It was in a little holster thing.  I don’t think I even took it out….after all, wouldn’t a bullet go through that leather?  I put it to my head and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.  I tried again……Nothing.   By this time I was shaking and thought my sister might find me, I replaced the gun right where I found it, after all it didn’t do me any good.  I don’t know if the gun was empty, if the safety was on…or what.  All I know is that it didn’t do what I thought it would.  What I wanted it to.

How can an 11-year-old child be so depressed that she puts a gun to her head, and pulls the trigger?  Was I scared, yes.  But not because of the reasons you may think.  I was afraid of being caught, afraid of doing it wrong, and very afraid of who would find me and have to deal with the mess.

I didn’t tell anyone.  Not for years and years, actually, not until recently.  Since then I’ve had 3 more suicide attempts and serious thoughts and plans for others.  When I’m depressed I simply cannot believe it will ever get better.  The lady in the dark is whispering her promises that it will be better with her, and she is all I can hear.

When I’m more level, or a bit manic, I cannot believe I would ever think that way.  I even have a hard time when  others are feeling suicidal.  How could that be?  I have had a number of friends reach out to me when they have felt the cold comforting hand of death reaching for them and they are so very tempted to reach out and take hold.  I often just can’t understand how they could feel that way.  They have friends, they are loved…look, they have me.  But didn’t I have friends?  Don’t I have friends?  Was I not loved?  Then why…why can I feel it would be so much better if I simply didn’t exist?  Please don’t get me wrong, I can empathize with my friends who are going through their own darkness, I talk to them and understand their feelings…or at least most of them.  But feeling suicidal is very personal, each person has their own demons.   I know I can’t understand all my friend is feeling because their demons are their demons and I can’t hear or see them.  I can only see the light on the outside, and try to help them see a little glimmer of that light, just enough to give them a bit of hope.  However, I would never judge a person who cannot find that hope….that flicker of light that they need to help them out of the darkness.

Many people think ill of those who commit suicide, and even those who have fought the battle and continue to fight.  I’ve heard how it’s the most selfish thing someone can do.  How they are doomed to everlasting hell.   I don’t think like that.  I know many people who contemplate suicide do so because they think they are such a horrible burden on the people they love.  They are trying so hard not to be selfish.  They do not want to cause those they love any more pain.  Yes, the pain from the suicide is something a loved one cannot get over, but to the person who is deeply depressed and sees this as the only way to save their loved ones…it is the most selfless act they feel they can perform.    Do I think someone who commits suicide is doomed for everlasting hell….no, personally I think they have already been living in it or they never would have committed suicide in the first place.

Suicide is not performed by people who are mentally well.  I will never judge a person until I have lived their lives while looking through their soul.  A mentally ill person does not see things the way a healthy person does.  My views on suicide are just my own.  Please do not judge me.  And please, at this time, do not argue with me….I’m not even sure I could handle a grown-up discussion of different views.  You see, I’m having trouble with my medication, and I’m not stable.  I need to release some of these feelings, but I’m not stable enough to debate them.  I promise, when things are better, I will open this discussion up again, if anyone wants me to, and we can discuss it then.

Oh, the Bipolar…..That is what I started to talk about isn’t it.  It isn’t all about the depression that takes me to the depths of my own hell.  There is that other side, the euphoria of mania.  It can be so seductive.  Many people who are Bipolar I, will often stop taking their medication because they feel numb.  No, they don’t miss the depression, but the mania….it’s like a drug.  Some of the best artist (of all kinds) have been Bipolar, or more as it was more commonly known, Manic Depressive.  When one decides to go off their medication, I don’t think they think about the depression that seeps the life out of them, they are thinking of the high they get from the mania.  Speaking from experience, it is so very hard to feel that high of creation when you are taking your medication.  I used to have sparks of inspiration and spend days in my studio, never leaving, barely sleeping….painting, and painting, and painting….I have never felt that surge of creativity since I started my medication nearly 20 years ago.  Do I miss it?  I could never express into words just how much I miss it!  I do not believe I have created a piece of artwork that stands up to anything I created before I was diagnosed.  So yes, I miss it.  But do I miss it enough to risk the rest….NO.

Bipolar doesn’t just include the extreme lows of depression and the euphoria of mania….it also includes uncontrollable anger, confusion, for some a loss of time, and a myriad of other symptoms…always to the extreme.  I used to notice when I got happy from something, it simply didn’t stop.  I didn’t just get happy, it kept growing and growing….oh it’s so hard to explain, but that’s how I felt about most of my emotions.  The emotion would start, like any normal person’s emotion would, but my emotion wouldn’t stop….it grew, to the point where I felt the emotion was no longer mine, I was the emotion.  I have huge gaps where I simply lost time.  I have no idea what happened during that time.   There have been out of control arguments, but I can’t remember anything about except the anger.

When I first started getting serious with Stuart I decided I had to be honest with him if we were going to have a real relationship.  It was very hard to tell him I have a mental illness, I am Bipolar.  Due to this, I have no idea how many men I have slept with.  He took it like the man he is, with grace and sympathy.  He held me while I cried and explained more about my illness.  How I was being treated…ect.   (He is a very good man.)

There is much more to my story, some I can never tell, because I simply do not remember it all.  Some I can tell…perhaps I should write a book.  *smiles*

Please forgive any typos, or grammar errors…or anything like that.  I started to proof-read this and needed to stop.  If I have offended anyone I apologize.  I hope I have brought a little bit of understanding about what it means to be Bipolar I.  Or what it means to be me.

Calling all Health Activist — Write For a Month Challenge by WEGO Health!!!

I’m joining the challenge!  Am I crazy?  Well yes, we’ve already established that fact.  I do have a verified mental illness, and now I have been diagnosed with a brain disorder so you, my friend, are absolutely right when you say, “She is insane if she thinks she can pull this off!”

May we take wagers?   Who out there thinks I can do it?  Who would dare to take that bet? hummmmm?  Well, I will.  I will take you on!  WEGO gives you 2 days that you can miss.  I vow to post no less than 28 days in April!  I’ve already read the prompts, we don’t have to follow them, but some are really good…so you may be seeing a new side of writing from Wendy.

Now for you who want to wager against me……just remember all the things I’ve over come.  And also think…It’s March 19th, and she’s already started writing next month’s posts.  Maybe you should rethink that bet.  *wink*

So here’s the official call to arms…or should I say to computers, laptops, ipads…oh what ever you use these days!

Hey everyone – I just wanted to tell you about a new activity I’ll be doing this April. The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. I hope you’ll join me in writing every day about health. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’d love to see what you have to say about each of the topics, too. All you have to do to join is sign up here: http://info.wegohealth.com/HAWMC2012 and you’ll be able to start posting once April rolls around. Looking forward to writing with you!

You can really tell I didn’t write that huh?

I will be writing a lot more about this new diagnosis of course, and just what it’s like to live with a disability.  If I think of it, and it I feel it needs to be said, you know it’s going to be regurgitated here.  (lovely picture huh?)

If you are a health blogger, jump on in.  Give it a try.  Some of my days may just be a photo and a quote, but as long as it’s appropriate, that’s alright.  We can do it, get the word out, we have chronic illnesses and don’t want to be invisible any more!!