Kindly Disregard my Absence, for my Brain Has Been All-Consuming

Hey hey everyone. I didn’t mean to ignore you recently. I’ve been riding the train of instability. a.k.a. mood swings, hallucinations, irritability, and  suicidal thoughts. My mind is currently numb and I’m a little lightheaded, but allow me to get you up to speed.

64743d1eacbd79e683a776b1ee3c34f6Suicide Stuff Again…

I know I talk about my suicidal ideation pretty often, so I apologize that I’m bringing it up again. I’ll make it brief, I promise. The last couple of months, my mind has been stepping into the dark territory again. It automatically starts developing plans and twisted theories. ( Example: “If I do it while my son is still a baby, I won’t give him an abandonment complex.”) I would try to get these things to stop entering my brain, but like clockwork, every morning, I obsessed about death. This has been constant for at least two months. It usually fades into the afternoon, so I would just try really hard to not allow it back in. I spoke of it only a little bit with my wife because I know she hates when I talk about it. She thinks I’m morbid (duh!) and it brings her down. Not my goal at all. She did make me agree to a no-harm pact before she and my son went out of town for the weekend, leaving me at home. I agreed to it. It gave her peace of mind.

WTF is THAT?!?!

Never in my life have I had visual hallucinations. I mean naturally. I’ve battled auditory hallucinations for years. Usually I hear voices speaking to me, or chatter, or music playing. About three weeks ago I saw a spider. Then I saw another spider the next day. The day after that I saw a spider on the wall. Okay, no bid deal, right? I live in the Midwest and spiders are part of the woodwork. Except these spiders didn’t start off as spiders. An imperfection on the wall. A leaf. A piece of lint I spot from the corner of my eye. They all grew legs and started moving around. They were in my kitchen, my car, my bedroom, bathroom, even at the office. I did tell my wife about the spiders and she looked panicked, but remained calm and urged me to talk to my pdoc.

The Appointment…

I’m not crazy about my psychiatrist. I mean, he’s alright, but I don’t love him. I’ve been seeing him for over eight years now and we have a customized payment plan, which I appreciate. He is very educated and has many, many fancy plaques on his wall. He dresses in funky plaid suits and hates the government. And he makes me feel like he thinks I’m crazy. No joke, I tell him about the spiders and his eyes widen, almost in disbelief. Really? Like isn’t he the ONE person obligated to not make me feel crazy? Anyway, I suggested increasing my Seroquel. He decided to put me back on Abilify. I just got him to take me off of it a few months ago, and now I’m back on it.

Drugs Drugs Drugs!

It’s been five days and the side effects are certainly present. I don’t feel better yet. But I am hopeful. My next appointment with Dr. Plaid is in a couple of weeks, and I am to call him next week for an update. Until then, my upper body is tingling, my arms are tingling and restless, I feel lightheaded, and my body temperature is fluctuating. So far I’m not experiencing akathisia or twitches, like I did when starting Abilify last time. This is also a pretty low dose, so we’ll see.

 

Okay, thank you all for listening. I hope you all are well!  (I’m sorry this isn’t a better written post.)

 

 

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World Suicide Prevention Day 2014

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Every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. And every 13.3 minutes in the U.S. Don’t become a statistic. YOU HAVE A PURPOSE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK

For information on suicide, grieving, warning signs, coping, and how you can help spread awareness, visit the following links:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
To Write Love on Her Arms
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

(Gif image via Tumblr)

 

The Breaking Point of a Legend

Like many, the death of Robin Williams surprised and saddened me. His means of death- suicide- interested me even more.

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To some of you, this will sound completely morbidly fucked up. To others, it will be hitting the nail on the head. But whenever I hear of someone dying as a result of self infliction, it triggers my own suicidal ideations and obsessions. Am I saying Mr. Williams is a role model for committing suicide? Absolutely not. But I am saying that I get it. I understand that point of hopeless desperation. Of despising yourself so greatly. Of thinking that your absence will only make things better for those around you.

Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

It has been confirmed that Robin Williams battled drug and alcohol abuse throughout the years, and sought help for it on a few occasions. It is also reported that he had a long battle with depression. I’ve read a handful of articles claiming he had bipolar disorder, but nothing was solidly confirmed on that, so I won’t make claims on it either. Nonetheless, depression can be absolutely crippling. It is the job of folks in the entertainment industry to wear a face for their audience. To act. To become someone else. I remind myself that these entertainers are part of the same human race that I’m a part of. And I could not imagine wearing a new face all the time, hiding a harrowing illness. Not to mention living their life in the spotlight, under a microscope. I know when depression grabs a hold, there are days I don’t leave my bed. There are days I am not mindful on what clothes I wear in public or whether my hair is washed or not. Sometimes I can’t make it to work. Now I look at someone like Robin Williams, who has been in the spotlight for decades, that he no doubt has people watching him in public, judging his every move. Of course that’s the life of a celebrity, and some might argue that celebrities choose this lifestyle, etc., but when it comes down to it- celebrity or not- nobody chooses mental illness. It doesn’t matter if you’ve won numerous awards for your comedic and dramatic acting skills. Mental illness can still sink it’s teeth in. And sometimes it can get so bad, that -celebrity or not- you lose sight of hope.

Let’s Take a Minute to Talk

Okay as many of you know by now, I swim in the pools of suicidal thoughts, ideations, fantasies, and even a few well thought out plans. It is an ongoing nagging battle that I fight. These notions entertain a spectrum of how obsessive they are, and how desperate I feel. It’s not unusual for those with bipolar to have this. So, it may seem a little odd for me to post this next segment about suicide. Truth is, I don’t love that I have this part of the illness. It’s a horrible way to think, and education on suicide and suicide prevention is imperative to living a mentally healthy life. Plus, it could help save the lives of people you know.

Understanding Suicide: Myth vs. Fact

To understand why people die by suicide, and why so many others attempt to take their own lives, it is important to know the facts. Please read the facts about suicide below and share them with others.

Myth: Suicide can’t be prevented. If someone is set on taking their own life, there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

Fact: Suicide is preventable. The vast majority of people contemplating suicide don’t really want to die. They are seeking an end to intense mental and/or physical pain. Most have a mental illness. Interventions can save lives.

Myth: People who take their own life are selfish, cowards, weak or are just looking for “attention.”

Fact: More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one and often more than one treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will put the idea in their head and cause them to act on it.

Fact: When you fear someone you know is in crisis or depressed, asking them if they are thinking about suicide can actually help. By giving a person an opportunity to open up and share their troubles you can help alleviate their pain and find solutions.

Myth: Teenagers and college students are the most at risk for suicide.

Fact: The suicide rate for this age group is below the national average. Suicide risk increases with age. Currently, the age group with the highest suicide rate in the U.S. is middle-aged men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The suicide rate is still highest among white men over the age of 65.

Read more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Risk factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take her or his life. Suicide risk tends to be highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time.

The most frequently cited risk factors for suicide are:

  • Mental disorders, in particular:
    • Depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
    • Alcohol or substance abuse or dependence
    • Schizophrenia
    • Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
    • Conduct disorder (in youth)
    • Psychotic disorders; psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Impulsivity and aggression, especially in the context of the above mental disorders
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of attempted or completed suicide
  • Serious medical condition and/or pain

It is important to bear in mind that the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior.

Environmental Factors That Increase Suicide Risk

Some people who have one or more of the major risk factors above can become suicidal in the face of factors in their environment, such as:

  • A highly stressful life event such as losing someone close, financial loss, or trouble with the law
  • Prolonged stress due to adversities such as unemployment, serious relationship conflict, harassment or bullying
  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide (contagion)
  • Access to lethal methods of suicide during a time of increased risk

Again, though, it is important to remember that these factors do not usually increase suicide risk for people who are not already vulnerable because of a preexisting mental disorder or other major risk factors. Exposure to extreme or prolonged environmental stress, however, can lead to depression, anxiety, and other disorders that in turn, can increase risk for suicide.

Read more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…

 

My final words to you on this topic is to please talk to someone if you feel you are a danger to yourself. If you are feeling hopeless, allow someone to show you hope. If you think there is nobody to talk to, call a hotline number. There is always someone available and willing to hear what you have to say. On that note, we say farewell to a legendary performer, a legendary person, Mr. Robin Williams. May he finally be at peace. And may we remember him for what he loved to do- make people smile.

 

Suicide Prevention Resources:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

 

Interview with Nectar Madness

Hey everyone, a little while ago I did an interview for ‘My Bipolar Roller Coaster’ about my bipolar disorder diagnosis, and my experiences with the illness. If you want to know more about yours truly, check it out. Also, check out this awesome mental health blog.

Take a Chance with the Side Effect Dance

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I know I’ve written about side effects in the past, and this is one topic we all seem to be on the same page about. Side effects suck! My latest endeavor has been trying to lose weight. Over the last year, I have put on a bit of weight, and am having a more difficult time than usual in getting rid of it. I examined my timeline of events- I went on my current cocktail of Lithium, Abilify, and Seroquel about a year and a half ago. And then last fall/winter my wife was pregnant and I know I can attribute some of my tummy to joining her in prego eating. Okay, between those two variables, I put on about 30 pounds. I realize to some, this doesn’t seem extreme. However, I am only 5’1″ and I have a petite frame. None of my clothes fit. I feel uncomfortable. The CDC rates my BMI as overweight. Yeah it’s time to take action.

I gave up sweets and other junk food. I stopped drinking soda. I don’t eat red meat, and I adopted a strict regimen of vegetables and fruits and lean protein. Nothing fried enters my mouth. I exercise. After a few months of this lifestyle change, I dropped barely 5 pounds. I couldn’t believe that my weight was hardly moving despite my efforts. I was really discouraged and trying not to become depressed.

This is when I decided to go further, and research my medications. I learned that two of the three meds I’m on have a tendency to contribute to weight issues. These weight issues include gaining of weight, and/or difficulty in losing excess pounds. Immediately I flashed back to about 12 years ago when I was an inpatient in the psych hospital, and I had gained a good 30 pounds within a month’s time. But that time Depakote was the culprit. I never want to go back to that feeling again. So I knew at that moment I had to consult with my psychiatrist. I hate the way I look. I’m tired of feeling bloated. If I can’t look good, then I don’t feel good.

I decided to ask him about alternatives to Seroquel. This was scary because the Seroquel really does seem to be a miracle drug for me. I figured the Seroquel had to be the problem child since I am on a medium to high dose. I am on a very low dose of Abilify so I didn’t think it was contributing as much. When I went to my last appointment, I expressed my concerns and explained the efforts I have been trying. He asked me to honestly tell him which of the two helps me more. Of course his question presented a battle internally for me- my own self-fueled convictions say “Seroquel makes you fattest”- but I knew the truth, and that was Seroquel helps me the most. Nights when I don’t take it, I cannot sleep and the next few days I’m completely thrown off. If I skip Abilify, I barely notice. I was honest with him. Clearly this resulted in his decision to wean me off of Abilify, and continue my Seroquel.  He even informed me that Abilify is actually more prominent in weight issues than Seroquel, even at a low dose. He also mentioned that Zyprexa (which I had been on in the past) is not a good alternative to Seroquel when weight is a concern because it’s even worse thatn the other two.  He said to continue what I have been doing in regards to eating and exercise, and in a couple of months I should notice a difference in my weight.

So, it has been a week. I’m watching what I eat and weighing myself. I came off the Abilify pretty smoothly. At this point we shall see. I’ll keep posted. If anyone has any stories of weight gain as a side effect, please share!

 

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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Kitt O’Malley, author of Life with Bipolar Disorder and Thoughts about God, has ever so graciously nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. This is an absolutely pleasant surprise, and a huge honor. Kitt’s writing is not only creative, but it is informational, spiritual, personable, and relatable. I thank Kitt O’Malley for recognizing my work, and I take this award nomination as a sincere compliment.

 

TheRulesSign

The guidelines in accepting this award include:

  • Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Once again, I say thank you to Kitt O’Malley for keeping me in mind when nominating bloggers. It means a lot.

 

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  1. My passion is writing. I am obsessed with the written word and love to create anything literary.
  2. I have a tendency to change my hair color quite frequently, along with the length & style.
  3. I am a lesbian. I am married to an incredible woman who is the love of my life. We are lgbtq advocates.
  4. I am a mother to a precious baby boy. He has given me a new perspective on life.
  5. I administer another blog, Dyke Fruit, which revolves around my life and views living as a lesbian in today’s world. (Check it out!)
  6. I am educated, with two college degrees. My BA is in Human Services, with a focus on mental health. I plan to go back to school for my Master’s.
  7. Things I love include photography, obsessing over music (specifically Tegan and Sara), hot summer days, iced coffee, and my dog and three cats.

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Here is a list of bloggers I nominate for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. (Some of you may have already been nominated by someone else, but that just means you’re extra awesome!)

 

 

The Selfie: A Social Trend or Mental Illness?

Selfies. Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere. Certainly if you are not taking them yourself, you know someone who is. I shamelessly confess that I, too, indulge in a good selfie on occasion. I will share some studies on the psychology behind this photographic phenomenon, as well as my views on the history of the self portrait, and this wildly explosive trend.

What is a ‘selfie’ anyway?

sel·fie: noun. A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

PUBLISHED by catsmob.com

 

This isn’t a new trend.

Take a look at some of history’s most profound artists. Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, and George Harrison. What do all of these famous names have in common? They all have at least one self portrait in their collection. When I say self portrait, I refer to a piece of work featuring him/herself as the subject. Many of these I named were paintings, and some of the paintings were done before photography was even an art form.

I absolutely put to test that these early self portraits were indeed an origin of the self portrait of today. I presume these artists painted themselves while placed in front of a mirror. (I’m not an art historian, so I may be wrong.) But I do think this is where it began, and then led into the days when having a 35mm camera was a common household device, in which we utilized to take more photos of our own pretty faces. I remember being a kid and on Christmas every year my parents would dress my sister and I up in our fanciest dresses, then my dad would pose us all in front of the tree, set his 1980’s style Cannon on the mantel, and push a little timer button. We’d eagerly watch the blinking light, and then snap! The family self portrait was complete.

A few years later, when I was in high school, I remember buying those disposable cameras and my friends and I would flip the camera to face us, with our arms extended on a 45 degree angle above our heads, attempt to all line up within what we assumed was the tiny viewfinder, with the hopes nobody’s head would be cut out of the final print. Yeah those self portraits were selfies too.

What the experts say.

According to some experts, taking excessive photos of oneself can actually be a sign of mental illness. Dr David Veale, a consultant psychiatrist in cognitive behavior therapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and The Priory Hospital, told The Sunday Mirror: ‘Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.’

BDD is characterized by a preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in appearance, which are unnoticeable to others.

Dr Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Centre in Boston Massachusetts, said: ‘Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t spectre of either narcissism or very low self-esteem.’ ‘Preoccupation with selfies can be a visible indicator of a young person with a lack of confidence or sense of self that might make him or her a victim of other problems as well.’ She believes that excessive or provocative taking of selfies is a form of ‘acting out’ in young people and can be a cry for help.

It’s important to point out that there are two different acts being analyzed here. One, is the taking of the photo. The other is the sharing of the photo. People take and share for different reasons. This leads to another concern that is associated with the excessive posting of selfies, which is that young people may be putting too much weight on what kind of response their photo may or may not get. In today’s realm of social media, many young people base their own self value on what their followers and online community say.

Obsessive selfie takers may take 50 selfies, for instance, and then critique each of them, deleting all but one, which is the photo that gets shared on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. If this is happening all the time, then this person is shaping the image that people see of him/her.

I admit, I do this. I only post the pictures in which I approve, usually in the best light, and after I’ve utilized a filter or blemish correcting photo app. Is this problematic? Perhaps it is. Perhaps we are spoiled (drowning?) in all of the technology and options available to us on our smartphones and tablets.

Lastly, the phenomenon of “if there’s no photo, it didn’t happen”. This isn’t literal, but many people act under this pretense that if anything- or nothing- is happening, it must be documented. At what point is is too much? When is it unhealthy?

Good selfies vs. bad selfies8b4799f4fe3d1be1ae8cb4d421171ad1

The last thing I want to touch on is the difference between when it’s okay to take a selfie and when you should reconsider. This is just my opinion, but I really like progression photos. For example, the pregnant belly growing or the weight loss and/or exercise shots are really fun to look at. If you need a profile picture, but have no one around to take it for you, then take a selfie where you fill the frame evenly, and where your hand placement disguises the fact that it is being taken by the person in the frame. I also like the ones that are silly and fun, as long as there are not a ton of them posted.

DO NOT take selfies in the bathroom mirror, especially where you can see the toilet. I know everyone does bathroom pictures, but seriously, they are tacky. If you choose to do one anyway, then close the toilet! And finally, please don’t do the duck face. I think the duck face can fit into a condition of it’s own. It’s not attractive. At all.

I don’t foresee the selfie trend going anywhere any time soon. The more we utilize technology and social media platforms, the more the reason to pose, snap, and share.

Just for fun, check out this dance hit by The Chainsmokers:

Source: Mail Online UK

Thoughts On New Bipolar Drama, ‘Black Box’

Tonight I finally had a date with my DVR and the pilot episode of the new ABC series, ‘Black Box’.

The show is about Dr. Catherine Black, a neuroscientist who works at The Center for Neurological Research and Treatment. This world famous doctor has bipolar disorder. She hides it from some, while others can’t escape from it.

Catherine, played by Kelly Reilly, has a non-compliance issue with taking her meds, which the show made prevalent when she decided to come off of them. Her mania was triggered, and she experienced symptoms such as delusions of grandeur, hypersexuality, hallucinations, increased energy, rapid speech, and grandiosity. She ended up hurting her boyfriend/(sort of fiance), and she almost messed things up at work. The show features Vanessa Redgrave as her psychiatrist, and shows them meeting often to discuss Catherine’s mental state and returning her to stability.

My Thoughts
I really liked it! I had been obsessing about watching it for weeks before it premiered. So far, I can absolutely relate to Catherine, in terms of bipolar, and I can even say I idolized her a little bit. Yes, her actions made me think about my own non-compliance issues and I suddenly felt a desire to cut the drugs and free myself into a colorful mania of my own. I may or may not have made a comment about this, and my wife, who was watching it with me, gave me one of her famous “I don’t think so” looks. We have a deal that if I can’t stay on meds, she (and the baby) can’t stay with me. Okay, well that’s more of an ultimatum than a deal, but for the most part it works.

Anyway, I think that bipolar disorder was represented very well (except maybe the rapidness of the episode onset), and Dr. Catherine Black’s character was portrayed beautifully. I, personally, feel the symptoms are accurate and I have had most all of them myself. I think ‘Black Box’ is groundbreaking in the sense that bipolar disorder has never been seen before in this light. We have all dealt with such an incredible stigma due to our illness and this show expresses the rawness and truth of what manic and depressive episodes can be like. It is a very vulnerable and necessary place to be.

Changes, Changes, Moods, & Changes

So much change going on right now. Change makes me moody. Change frustrates me. Change leaves me forgetful. Change makes things not boring. I hate change as much as I love it.

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My current whirlwind of change:

Hello Spring. That’s right, the good old change of season has bestowed us. My bipolar always switches gears when there is a seasonal change. I know I have been reacting to the warmer weather and having more mood swings than usual. I feel it and I know everyone around me feels it.

This past week I returned to work after a five month lay off.
I have a love/hate relationship with my job. Well, mostly with having a job, but yes, with my job too. As it turned out, much to my surprise, I was really good at doing the stay at home mom & housewife thing.

My wife began a new job after not working for three years. I’m really happy for her for landing a good job where her skills and degree can be utilized. It’s just so different because I’m used to her being home while I’m at work. And this was even before we had a child. While this is definitely a positive change,  the new busy lifestyle will take some getting used to. It doesn’t help that I’ve been rather moody with her lately.

I had to drop my baby off at the sitter’s for the first time. This has been really emotional for me. I especially enjoyed spending time with him over the winter, and I was so fortunate to be able to have this quality time during his first few months of life. People don’t prepare you for the emotions you go through as a parent. I miss him constantly.

My sleep schedule has been completely rearranged. Obviously having a baby in the house alters your sleep already, but having the baby with each of our work schedules, puts our mornings and nighttimes into a whole new category. I must go to bed so early now just so I can wake up early enough to take over baby duty since my wife leaves at 6:00a.m. I now take my nighttime pills around 8:30p.m. so I can be asleep no later than 9:30. I know it’s manageable, but it’s just different. And a bit challenging.

 

I don’t know exactly what steps I need to take in order to get everything under control. Maybe I can let it ride out and fall into routine. Maybe I should talk to my psychiatrist. I guess I’ll see how bad the mood swings get as time goes on. There is just so much going on that it’s hard to even focus on everything each day. Surely I’ll keep posted as I monitor my crazy self.

 

World Autism Awareness Day

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April is Autism Awareness month and today is Autism Awareness day. In support for Autism Spectrum Disorders, I’ve posted this list of myths and facts found on autism.about.com. I thought this was pretty informative.

1. Autistic People Are All Alike

Myth: If I’ve met an autistic person (or seen the movie Rain Man), I have a good idea of what all autistic people are like.

Fact: Autistic people are as different from one another as they could be. The only elements that ALL autistic people seem to have in common are unusual difficulty with social communication.

2. Autistic People Don’t Have Feelings

Myth: Autistic people cannot feel or express love or empathy.

Fact: Many — in fact, most — autistic people are extremely capable of feeling and expressing love, though sometimes in idiosyncratic ways! What’s more, many autistic people are far more empathetic than the average person, though they may express their empathy in unusual ways.

3. Autistic People Don’t Build Relationships

Myth: Autistic people cannot build solid relationships with others.

Fact: While it’s unlikely that an autistic child will be a cheerleader, it is very likely that they will have solid relationships with, at the very least, their closest family members. And many autistic people do build strong friendships through shared passionate interests. There are also plenty of autistic people who marry and have satisfying romantic relationships.

4. Autistic People Are a Danger to Society

Myth: Autistic people are dangerous.

Fact: Recent news reports of an individual with Asperger Syndrome committing violent acts have led to fears about violence and autism. While there are many autistic individuals who exhibit violent behaviors, those behaviors are almost always caused by frustration, physical and/or sensory overload, and similar issues. It’s very rare for an autistic person to act violently out of malice.

5. All Autistic People Are Savants

Myth: Autistic people have amazing “savant” abilities, such as extraordinary math skills or musical skills.

Fact: It is true that a relatively few autistic people are “savants.” These individuals have what are called “splinter skills” which relate only to one or two areas of extraordinary ability. By far the majority of autistic people, though, have ordinary or even less-than-ordinary skill sets.

6. Autistic People Have No Language Skills

Myth: Most autistic people are non-verbal or close to non-verbal.

Fact: Individuals with a classic autism diagnosis are sometimes non-verbal or nearly non-verbal. But the autism spectrum also includes extremely verbal individuals with very high reading skills. Diagnoses at the higher end of the spectrum are increasing much faster than diagnoses at the lower end of the spectrum.

7. Autistic People Can’t Do Much of Anything

Myth: I shouldn’t expect much of an autistic person.

Fact: This is one myth that, in my opinion, truly injures our children. Autistic individuals can achieve great things — but only if they’re supported by people who believe in their potential. Autistic people are often the creative innovators in our midst. They see the world through a different lens — and when their perspective is respected, they can change the world.

For more information on Autism, visit these links below:

Autism Speaks

Autism Society

About.com Autism Spectrum Disorders

 

World Bipolar Day!

Today is World Bipolar Day & I want you to go on a journey in your mind to the places you’ve been, the changes you’ve made, the strengths you’ve developed, the people you’ve loved, & the person you’ve become. Take this time to nurture yourself & celebrate you. You are beautiful!

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Is Instagram the New Port for Mentally Unhealthy Behavior?

TRIGGER WARNING. I advise you to take caution before reading this. There are photos and material containing heavy content.

It takes a lot to shock me. So when I decided to innocently search for ‘bipolar’ on Instagram, I was shocked at how shocked I became. Photos of girls consisting of skin and bones in their underwear, pictures of sliced and bloody arms and legs, declarations of suicidal desires, the list goes on.

The only way to really express what I’m referring to is to show you. (These images were taken directly and anonymously from Instagram. I do not have ownership rights.)

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These images are just a few of many that I saw. All I typed in was ‘bipolar’ with the intention of finding something valuable for this blog, perhaps a quote or whatever. Instead I discovered an entire underground network.

I began to click on various profiles with names similar to ‘anas_helper’, ‘selfharmerr’, and ‘lifeish0peless’. As I read the comment feeds, I saw a true camaraderie between young sufferers. For those battling eating disorders, the support is unbelievable. By support you may be thinking encouragment for recovery. While I’m sure there is positive support on Instagram, that’s not the kind I’m talking about here. On more than one account, I saw users post what seems to be a crest of the eating disorder community.

photoThe picture encourages followers to like it, in exchange for an hour of fasting. It’s sobering to see how many people liked the picture because these people really want this girl to accomplish her goal of not feeding her body. One can only assume that they are just as ill as she is. Other things I noticed were Instagram users giving each other tips on how to hide food so their parents would think they are eating, how to hide a scale in their room, tricks to boost metabolism, and more. These self proclaimed anorexics and bulimics even have weigh ins.

Another community with a heavy influence are those who self injure, specifically those who cut themselves. You find many photos of young folks who have hacked themselves up something awful. It appeared to really be a story of one cutter triggering another. photo 4 (1)

From the various accounts I saw a lot of the same names supporting one another, and thus posting their own bloody pictures. Some of them were suicidal, some were just content with the razor blade release.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the dynamics of self harm, or even eating disorders in this post. This is simply to expose a community of no doubt, thousands of suffering people. This is simply for awareness.

You may be wondering what role Instagram plays in this. I decided to test out a couple of different hashtags to see what came up and here’s what I got whe I typed in “cutting”:

photo 1

And here’s what popped up when I typed in “anorexia”:

photo 2

I was surprised and glad to see that some advisory is in place for potentially dangerous situations. I also know this is a CYA, otherwise known as ‘cover your ass’ for the company. But I guess it isn’t their responsibility to make sure everyone is safe on an open sharing network. I did not select the ‘learn more’ option, so I can’t say for sure what anyone would be learning, or if it gives help options or what. And it is very easy to just select the ‘show posts’ option anyway, which I did. For shits and giggles, I tested out a few other hashtags, ‘sex’, ‘nude’, and ‘fuck’. For each of these, IG clams there are ‘no tags found’.

I don’t know if any of you already knew of these underground support systems, but it is scary at how uncontrolled an environment this is. I know it is extremely difficult sometimes when dealing with a mental illness. I do. I just found this interesting and wanted to share it with you. Please leave a comment on your thoughts.

Updated March 26, 2014
I’ve received a lot of feedback on this article which has raised some questions.

Why did I write this article? Well, I simply wanted to raise awareness to something very serious that is occurring in social media, in this case, Instagram.

What do I hope to accomplish with this post? The awareness needs to spread to the people who can stop these underground communities. If enough of us are made aware, then real action can occur.

What help can I offer? While this was written as primarily informational, not necessarily clinical, I do want to address these topics of self harm and eating disorders. If you or someone you know is harming themselves, or is suicidal, or is starving, binging/purging, then you or your loved one need to get help right away. Here are some resources that may be useful to you:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Eating Disorder Association

I hope this helps to clear up any confusion. Thank you all for stopping by. I know this is a tough one to swallow. Take care.