Mental Health: No Stigma

Image result for World Mental Health Awareness

Today is World Mental Health Day, with the 2017 designated theme of “Mental Health in the Workplace.”

There are two huge and simple things we can do as employees and employers in our jobs: help to end stigma, and human kindness.

I live and thrive with bipolar disorder. It wasn’t always that way. I was (mis)diagnosed with depression at 14, and due to a negative stigma around treatment thanks to religion I went untreated for many years. Sure I tried therapy here and there, but fought it until I stopped going. I tried meds until I stopped that too, believing God healed me. Religion tending to feed into stigmas around mental health aside, although that is huge story that could be told, going untreated for so long culminated in a suicide attempt in 2010.

After that, I got onto this antidepressant and that one, struggling through the uninsured system of having a pre-existing condition before ObamaCare was a thing, until I got onto the antidepressant that would trigger my manic episode, 4-days with no sleep, and eventual involuntary hospitalization under a 5150 hold. Not uncommon for someone with bipolar who is misdiagnosed as depressed to be diagnosed this way, but unfortunate.

During all of these instances and hospitalizations, I had jobs. Myself, or my caretaker, usually boyfriend, would have to go to my manager and explain what had happened and where I was. We always went with compete honesty. They always gave complete kindness and confidentiality.

Many years and struggles later, and I’m on a regimen that works. I can report that I am currently more manic than otherwise, and that be ok because I know what it means for me. I know it’s who I am, that I have two main emotional states and where my boundaries lie. I know how to ride the waves, and how to take it easy on myself. Some days I don’t, and some days I need to take a mental health day from everything. Some days I can’t be around people, and some days I’m tackling projects left and right better than anyone around me.

I function. I thrive. I live and I love. I’m a person with a mind, and a heart, and a career. I just happen to also have a disease for which there is no cure – but there is help for.

What we can all do is make it so that speaking about my disease is no more strange and uncomfortable than someone telling  you they cannot have that cookie because they’re diabetic.  My friend who sees things that aren’t there is no more different or strange than my friend with Celiac disease. End the stigma.

And be kind. Be kind to everyone. Always assume the best. It’s so much better for everyone when we are kind to each other. When we don’t say mean things, or assume the worst. When so-and-so calls out for being sick – again – don’t feed the negativity by talking shit about her. You don’t know her story. Be kind, be empathetic and compassionate.

Read more great things you can do with this great article including 5 way to show support this year for mental health.

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“Feeling bipolar today” – Stop it.

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You are not being bipolar. You are not a little bipolar at times. It is not funny, so stop saying it.

Bipolar is not mood swings, no not everyone is “a little bipolar”.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by having experienced two polarities: depression, and mania. There are degrees of severity, but no one who experiences the two extremes think it is something to take lightly.

As someone who has been hospitalized for both a manic episode and a depression episode, watch a father go in and out of the hospital throughout the year, it is hell.

Now I’m all for the fluidity of language. It changes, and with how people use it words mean different things. I still say ” that’s gay” at times, and and still can’t seem to shake saying “Jesus fucking Christ”. But this feels different. Maybe it’s because it is personal.

But this is a disease that people fight. I don’t know why anyone would want yo joke about it, or belittle it into being equivalent with life’s natural swings between happy and sad.

Newsflash: happy is not mania, sad is not depression.

I digress.

Reader: What are your thoughts?

Is Marijuana really safe?

Is it?

Is it?

Is it really?

I am neither anti- nor pro-drugs, let me say that first. I live my life pro-choice, believing strongly that it is one’s right to do with oneself what one wishes. However, I am unsure of how safe it is to tout certain mind-altering drugs as entirely safe.

Amongst humanity there is the negatively connoted reality of mental disorders, and other neuro-biological conditions. The most scientific of studies (not CannabisTimes, mind you, actual medical journals) suggest that the use of these types of drugs, weed included, can lead to and increase the risk of psychosis.

Is it any coincidence that so many thinkers, artists, philosophers, and the like have killed themselves? Does their drug use have anything to do with this? They say that drugs can not make you do anything you would not otherwise, but for the deep thinker.. just how terrifying is that? We know that we are entirely capable of all things as a human being, so why not?

However, this post is not to arouse doubt but to discuss because it is something that must be:

Are mind-altering drugs safe for all? Would you do them, or have you done them? What were their effects?

Penny for your Thoughts?

Atheists’s should kill themselves

kill yourself

I was partaking in a discussion on abortion when I realized I was arguing with individuals with set religious biases. It seemed necessary to clear the air concerning my own biases, so I set about explaining my perspective as an Atheist, and my view on abortion and life upon the assumption that there is no God.

The above image is a screenshot from a particular Christian I was opposing due to her constantly using “God said…” as the premise for her arguments.

I wasn’t mad at her. The truth is I have said similar things to individuals in an argument when I was a Christian. Many people still don’t believe that individuals can be so indoctrinated into their religion to really believe and say such things, but I can personally attest to it as true from having been one spewing it, and now the one to receive it on multiple occasions. It can be difficult for someone so in depth in the belief that there is a deity who loves and lives in commune with them personally, that there is any life outside of such a relationship. It becomes more than a crutch or a drug, it becomes everything and the whole universe shatters around them at the prospect of it not being real.

Thoughts? How would you have reacted? Can you understand it, or is it simply too bizarre?

Rainy Day Phenomenon

rainy day

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. ~Dolly Parton

There seems to be two sides of the opinion on what a “rainy day” means. One side perceives it as a blessing, one that brings harvest and growth. The other side perceive is as melancholic and dreary.

I have been witnessing the later, lately, when rain finally hit my area of Stockton after a long drought of a fall and winter. Even while it was much needed hydration, I saw a stark decline in the moods of those I worked with and were social media friends with.

Another noticed phenomenon comes from having worked in the food industry. I have worked in multiple restaurants, in multiple cities, and without fail people flood in for their serviced meals, often bringing business to volume.

How do you perceive rain? How do you subconsciously react to rainy days? Do you ever find yourself with the blues on a rainy day, and not quite understand why?

Penny for your Thoughts and observations?

Overthinking Thoughts

overthinking

“We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap.” Anthony Hopkins

What a strange concept: overthinking.I was contemplating the negative connotation behind the verb “to dwell” last night and could not help but wonder just what is so wrong. Dwelling seems to be connected with negative thoughts, and with distorting reality into something dark and distorted. But overthinking?

I ask myself: what can one overthink to the point of becoming negative? Is the act of the constant thinking the evil? Or is it, rather, the act of distortion that the mind can sometimes do unconsciously? Certainly, it can not be the former.

The first thing that comes to mind with the act of dwelling is on ex-‘s, be it friends, lovers, or loved ones through death. However, for me, the image that comes to mind with this is of a teenage girl dreading her latest infatuation’s abandonment. In that context, can I imagine a loving mother telling her not to dwell. Can this apply to a healthy, thinking, humanistic adult individual? What harm can come from thinking, contemplating, twisting and turning, prying, deducing, and gleaning from a prior relationship?

Surely, we can all quickly come up with examples of the harm it can cause… but perhaps there is also great good to be learned as well. Perhaps it is the good we should strive for, and not, as they say: throw the baby out with the bath water.

A penny for  your thoughts? I will gladly pay it, if needed, to atone for the pain perhaps uncovered from delving into the dwelling portions of the psyche.

Mind: Illness and Illumination

mental illness

John Nash, known best for his depiction in the film “A Beautiful Mind,” suffered from debilitating schizophrenia. He won the Nobel Peace prize for his work in Mathematics and the Game Theory.

Sylvia Plath, known for her dark poetry and many other works, suffered from depression until it pushed her to take her own life.

Vinvent Van Gogh, French painter and artist, although created many great works under the influence of absinthe, a careful review of his letters indicates he may have suffered from manic and depressive episodes. He committed suicide at the age of 37.

I write this post under the cloud of my own disorder. It is debilitating, confusing, and a constant battle that far too many understand all too well. Despite the fact that so many undergo such conditions, and so many end up leading brilliantly creative lives, the stigma towards mental disorders keep us hiding under a rug, afraid to talk to any about what we struggle through.

The words that we bear as the name describing what we daily fight through, find themselves as the punch line of jokes or the careless belittling of someone we do not like.

Over the past few days, I heard and even used the term “bipolar” to describe the behavior of individuals at my job who were not everyone’s favorite to work with. Upon careful inspection, it may become clear to any caring individual that, maybe – just maybe, they did struggle from bipolar disorder. The tragedy is that many go untreated because of the stigma, the name calling, and the poor treatment.

“A Beautiful Mind,” albeit not entirely accurate to John Nash’s struggle, portrayed the story of a mathematical genius inflicted with schizophrenia. It wasn’t until half-way through the movie that viewers uncover, along with Nash, that his adventurous escapades were not at all what he thought but were elaborate hallucinations composed out of the misconstructions of his own mind. It can be difficult to put what an individual with such a condition goes through without artistic methods, as too many who have this condition end up on the streets as “that rambling homeless man talking to himself on the subway.” The movie eloquently depicted a side of the condition that few ever see: the struggle.

Too few of us care to see that side, even among those of us who undergo it. The mind is a beautiful and terrifying thing, capable of pressing us to create marvels, and wreak havocs. With our minds we can create vaccines, invent airplanes, and paint pieces of art that inspire anyone who views it. With our minds we can also drown our new born infants, leap in front of trains, or lead a nation into believing another race is a blight on human kind and insight them all to commit atrocities against them.

Each individual is capable of creating and destroying. Each person we work with, see on mass transit, or making our coffee is capable of ending their infant’s life, or finding the cure for cancer.

Which will it be? Which will our words move another to accomplish? Will our haphazzard label of “crazy,” “bipolar,” or “depressed” push our fellow man over the edge to self harm? Or, perhaps, will we choose the higher road of listening and asking “How are you today?” while truly listening… and carry our fellow man through the storms?

A Penny for your Thoughts, or a penny for your fellow man?