May You Rise, Patty Duke

Actress and mental health advocate, Patty Duke dies at age 69 on March 29, 2016.

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A true hero in the mental health community, we say goodbye to the talented academy award winning actress, Patty Duke. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she has openly discussed and written about her struggles with depression and mania. Patty Duke was one of the first celebrities I read about upon my diagnosis years ago. Please let’s all take a moment, also in lieu of World Bipolar Day (March 30th), & send some thoughts to her loved ones & cherish her memory.

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99 Bipolar Disorder Facts

99 Bipolar Disorder Facts

Great list of truths from bipolarlives.com:

Bipolar Basics

1. Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depressive illness.

2. It is a MOOD DISORDER characterized by MOOD SWINGS between the “highs” of bipolar mania and the “lows” of depression.

3. It is an episodic illness. In between episodes of bipolar mania and/or depression, there will usually be periods of stable or “normal” moods and wellness.

4. The usual age of onset is late teens to early twenties.

5. Bipolar disorder is NOT CURABLE and must be controlled by mood stabilizing medication. This is one of the most unpalatable but important bipolar disorder facts.

6. Despite being a life long illness, bipolar disorder is very manageable. In fact, it is one of the “best” mental illnesses to have in that there are many effective bipolar treatments available.

7. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression in women or schizophrenia in men.

Reminder

Bipolar is frequently misdiagnosed so make sure you see an experienced psychiatrist.

8. Another common misdiagnosis is to pronounce someone bipolar when they really have borderline personality disorder.

9. Untreated bipolar disorder is dangerous and may lead to suicide during depression, or self destructive activities during bipolar mania such as wild spending, crazy business ventures, sexual promiscuity or infidelity and other high risk behavior.

10. Bipolar disorder must be diagnosed and treated by an experienced psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders.

Bipolar resources you can trust

Bipolar disorder facts need to be distinguished from bipolar fictions.

The best source for bipolar disorder facts.

Use these reputable and independent sources for accurate information about bipolar disorder:

11. Facts on Bipolar Disorder from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

13. Bipolar Disorder from the Mayo Clinic

14. International Bipolar Foundation

15. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

Are you bipolar?

One of the most frustrating bipolar disorder facts is the difficulty of accurate diagnosis.

You may have bipolar order if you answer “YES” to ALL of the following questions.

If the following self-screen for bipolar is positive, you should see a psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders to confirm ad discuss any possible diagnosis of bipolar disorder. One of the frustrating bipolar disorder facts is that it requires highly skilled diagnosis.

16. Have you experienced depression for an extended period (at least 2 weeks)?

17. Was this depression so serious that it made your usual activities such as work or study impossible, or only barely possible through great personal effort?

18. As well as the serious lows of depression, have you also experienced periods of “highs” – of being so “up” that it felt like more than normal happiness?

19. Have you experienced periods of needing only small amounts (3-5 hours at most) of sleep?

20. Have you experienced racing thoughts or rapid, pressured speech?

21. Have you ever engaged in reckless behavior such as shopping sprees, credit card binges or out of character promiscuous sex?

22. Have you ever had so much extra energy that you took on lots of extra projects, or needed lots of extra activity and stimulation or social contact?

23. Have these “ups” ever led to serious problems such as conflict at work or in your marriage or legal problems?

24. Do you have a close relative such as a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, or aunt who has bipolar disorder?

25. Has a psychiatrist or other mental health professional ever suggested to you that may have bipolar disorder?

THERE IS NO BLOOD TEST, X-RAY, BRAIN SCAN, MRI, GENETIC TEST, OR OTHER “MEDICAL” TEST THAT CAN IDENTIFY BIPOLAR DISORDER.

Bipolar symptoms

Symptoms of bipolar depression include:

26. Persistent empty or “blue” feeling.

27. Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities.

28. Sleep changes – either insomnia or excessive sleep.

29. Lack of motivation and neglect of routine tasks such as personal grooming.

30. Indecision.

Symptoms of bipolar mania include:

31. Reduced need for sleep.

32. Grandiose plans and beliefs that are not realistic.

33. Racing thoughts.

34. Taking on multiple projects and marked increase in goal directed behavior.

35. Risk taking behavior and distorted judgment, for example crazy business schemes, reckless investments, sexual indiscretions, shopping sprees, gambling binges.

Causes of bipolar

36. Genetics. Bipolar disorder is NOT ALWAYS inherited and in even in identical twins, both do not always develop the disorder. Thus, although hereditary factors are a major risk factor in developing bipolar disorder, it is not a purely genetic illness.

37. Neurotransmitter imbalances and other brain chemistry disturbances.

38. Stress. Someone with a predisposition to bipolar may go on to develop the illness if triggered by stress.

39. Environmental factors such as seasonal changes or sleep deprivation sometimes precipitate the onset of bipolar episodes.

40. Pregnancy. Obviously pregnancy in and of itself does not cause bipolar disorder. However, like stress, giving birth can trigger the initial episode in a woman with a predisposition to the illness.

Types of bipolar disorder

41. Bipolar Type 1 is characterized by at least one manic or mixed episode. The mania in Bipolar 1 is serious and can even involve bipolar psychosis.

42. Bipolar Type 2 is characterized by at least one hypomanic episode, (hypomania meaning literally ‘below mania’), and one major depressive episode.

43. The third bipolar type is called cyclothymia. This is a serious mental and mood disorder that causes depressive and hypomanic episodes. Medically it is defined as recurrent cycles of sudden hypomania and dysthymic episodes.

44. If you do not fit into any one of these categories, you may be diagnosed as bipolar disorder NOS, not otherwise specified.

45. Some experts such as Dr Jim Phelps also consider the types of bipolar disorder to include Bipolar Type 3 – when an antidepressant causes the patient to switch into mania or hypomania.

Bipolar medications

46. Bipolar medications may be altered depending on the phase of the illness. A different combination of meds may be required for maintenance, as opposed to managing an episode of acute bipolar mania or acute depression.

47. Lithium is the best known med for treating bipolar because it is a MOOD STABILIZER and is effective in treating both mania and depression, as well as for preventing relapse.

48. Sometimes antidepressants are used to treat bipolar depression but this can be controversial because of the possibility of an antidepressant causing a switch into mania. This is one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated bipolar disorder facts.

49. Some atypical (latest generation) anti-psychotics have been approved for treating bipolar disorder as research has shown them to have mood stabilizing properties on top of their utility for bipolar mania.

50. Another of the misunderstood bipolar disorder facts is that most people spend MUCH MORE time experiencing depression as opposed for mania, and the best treatment for bipolar depression seems to be a combination of Lithium and Lamotrigine (Lamictal).

Bipolar treatments

51. All of these bipolar disorder facts are important. BUT some bipolar disorder facts are more important than others. In terms of getting well and staying well, it is critical to understand that the most proven approach is to COMBINE MEDICATION AND TALK THERAPY. Not everyone wants to be psychoanalyzed, but there are other forms of talk therapy that are effective bipolar treatments:

52. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has a good track record as a bipolar disorder treatment. CBT helps us identify our self-defeating, unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and teaches how to replace these with more constructive, realistic and helpful beliefs and actions. This can be very useful in recognizing the stressors that trigger our bipolar episodes and learning to control them.

53. Psycho-education is all about learning as much as possible about bipolar disorder. Understanding your illness promotes treatment compliance (such as taking bipolar medications) and helps in determining the best treatments for you as an individual and also in recognizing warning signs of mania and depression so that bipolar episodes can be minimized and controlled.

54. Narrative therapy which helps someone with bipolar disorder understand the stories they tell themselves and to externalize their bipolar disorder in order to better solve associated problems.

55. Solution Focused Therapy which differs from some talk therapy in that it is oriented towards the present and future and to practical solutions, rather than exploring the past or dwelling on problems.

56. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) is a treatment program that stresses maintaining a regular schedule of daily activities and stability in personal relationships. It is PROVEN to be very effective for people with bipolar disorder and is one of my own preferred approached. I would call it one of the best kept bipolar disorder facts secrets!

57. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) used to be one of the ugly bipolar disorder facts that nobody liked to talk about. Although still something of a bipolar treatment of last resort, ECT is now administered in much reduced strengths and so has far fewer side effects. It is worth considering when bipolar medications are ineffective or during pregnancy when medications may put an unborn baby at risk.

58. Natural Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

59. Bipolar Treatment Centers

Caring for a loved one with bipolar disorder

60. Take stock of your own mood patterns. One of the stranger bipolar disorder facts is the phenomenon known as assortative mating where studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to couple with individuals who also have a mood disorder.

61. Carers need to be very well informed about all bipolar disorder facts. BOTH of you should work hard to learn as much as possible.

62. Put a “Wellness Plan” and “Treatment Contract” in place in case of emergencies.

63. Compliance is key. A relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder is much more “do-able” if they are taking their meds and participating in therapy.

64. Who cares for the carer? Make sure there is support there for the carer as well as the patient in case of a relapse into mania or depression.

65. Life and love with someone who has bipolar disorder is like any relationship, including challenges and rewards. Remember that this is a manageable illness. If treatment is followed then there will be positives such as a companion who is creative and captivating.

More bipolar disorder facts from Bipolar-Lives.com

66. Bipolar Disorder Statistics

67. Discovery of Bipolar Disorder

68. History of Bipolar Disorder

69. Bipolar Disorder and Creativity

Myths about bipolar disorder

70. A common myth is that bipolar disorder, once correctly diagnosed, is a distinct, precise illness. In fact there there are several types of bipolar disorder. In particular, Bipolar Type 1 as opposed to Bipolar Type 2. Bipolar disorder facts increasingly also require an understanding of soft bipolar and the bipolar spectrum.

71. Another myth is that mania is a fun high that is like an exaggerated form of being “the life and soul of the party”. Mania takes many different forms and can manifest as extreme irritability or even psychosis.

72. It is also a myth that bipolar people are crazy. They have a mood disorder and in between the highs of mania and lows of depression may have long and/or frequent periods of stable moods where they function well. The true bipolar disorder facts are that many people go months or even years without an episode.

73. Another common misunderstanding relates to workplace functioning. Although some people are disabled by their bipolar disorder, more than 75% are successful at work.

74. Medication myths go both ways. Some folks mistakenly believe that bipolar is untreatable, while others believe that bipolar medications are a “cure”. On the positive side, there are a variety of bipolar medications available and finding effective treatment just may take some people a little longer. A less palatable of bipolar disorder facts is bipolar medications control but do not cure the illness. It is necessary to always take meds, even when stable and everything is going well.

75. The myth that bothers me most is that bipolar disorder is not a real illness. Although bipolar disorder is episodic and very treatable, it is a serious illness and if untreated can lead to suicide and other terrible consequences.

76. Related to the myth above is the notion that bipolar is just a fashionable excuse for bad behavior and means whatever the “sufferer” wants it to mean. Bipolar disorder has a clear clinical definition and has been a documented chronic illness for over 2,000 years.

77. A myth I was WISH was true is that people with bipolar disorder are all creative geniuses. Although there is a VERY STRONG link between bipolar disorder and creativity, it is possible to have bipolar disorder and not be especially creative or extra intelligent.

78. This one is not exactly a myth. It is more like one of the most surprising bipolar disorder facts – having bipolar disorder is not all consuming. Sometimes I snap at my stepson because I am just another another mom having a bad day. It does not mean I am manic. Sometimes I cry during a movie. this does not mean I am depressed. If I drive a little recklessly sometimes it may be I am simply running late. If I ace a job interview, it may be because I was well prepared, not because of my “hypomanic edge”.

79. One of the most misunderstood bipolar disorder facts is that bipolar disorder is not linked to criminal or violent behavior. The truth is that someone with bipolar disorder is more likely to be a victim of violence or crime rather than a perp.

Bipolar disorder and physical health

Some of the most important, least understood bipolar disorder facts relate to physical health:

80. People with bipolar disorder are twice as likely to die early from a medical illness.

81. The main cause of premature death for people who have bipolar disorder are “lifestyle” or preventable/controllable factors such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

82. This increased risk of early death applies equally to both men and women with bipolar disorder.

83. People with bipolar disorder are over twice as likely to smoke (51% versus 23%).

84. Bipolar disorder is also strongly correlated with overweight and obesity. One study showed bipolar disorder to be the mental health problem most strongly linked to weight gain. Some research has indicated rates as high as 68% of overweight and obesity in bipolar populations.

85. These weight problems are also correlated with poorer overall mental health outcomes. For example, obese people with bipolar disorder have more episodes of both mania and depression, more serious episodes and more frequent episodes.

86. Bipolar frequently co-occurs with substance abuse.

87. Bipolar frequently co-occurs with alcoholism.

88. The new atypical anti-psychotics that have become popular bipolar medications have serious side impacts that impact physical health and are especially tied to weight gain and diabetes.

89. On March 12, 2002, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled that bipolar disorder is actual a physical illness because it can be inherited, can sometimes be identified by brain scans, and is in fact a is a neuro-biological disorder characterized by chemical imbalances in the brain.

Living with bipolar – top 10 tips

90. Stay on your bipolar medications and do not make any changes without discussing your meds with your psychiatrist.

91. Do not use recreational or street drugs.

92. Minimize alcohol or abstain completely.

93. Maintain a regular sleep schedule.

94. Maintain a regular exercise schedule.

95. Control weight and mood swings by eating plenty of lean protein and vegetables, taking folic acid and fish oil, and avoiding sugar, “bad” fats, and simple carbs.

96. Join a bipolar disorder support group, for example through your local DBSA.

97. Make charting your moods on a Bipolar Mood Chart a daily practice.

98. Create a Wellness Plan and a Treatment Contract.

99. Read and learn everything you can about bipolar disorder!

Source: bipolarlives.com

World Bipolar Day 2015

Today lets not pass judgment. Let’s not compare scars. Let’s educate ourselves and others. Let’s promote advocacy and put an end to stigma. We are not defined by our illness. Let’s stand united, with care, understanding, and love. 

  

Music Therapy – Tegan and Sara, “Not With You”

This song brings on strong emotions for me for some reason. Maybe you’ll get something out of it too.

“Not With You” – Tegan and Sara

I can’t believe I’ve let you in
And now here I am
Telling you that I’m suffocating in here
Just like the drugs you are keeping me
I felt shark teeth underneath my socks
Before I lost much blood

Around this world will I be enough?

From the liquor stores
To the train stop floors
Your filthy room your drama blues
I am nothing if I’m not with you
I’m always right always wrong
Dressing bad is like loving you
There is nothing I haven’t worn
Nothing I haven’t said before

Your fluid is thick against my sheets
When you look at me
Oh so angry I know it’s true
My strength has come from loving you
Behavior I just can’t grow into
So you fake and you flaw
For your cops and your cause
It makes no difference to me
It’s love that you stole, that you stole

From the liquor stores
To the train stop floors
Your filthy room your drama blues
I am nothing if I’m not with you
I’m always right always wrong
Dressing bad is like loving you
There is nothing I haven’t worn
Nothing I haven’t said before so here I am

Around this world will I be enough?

This is nothing I haven’t said before
You are nothing I haven’t felt before

Today is National Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day

What does it mean to be aware? To spread awareness? I mean, have you ever really thought about those words?

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Merriam Webster lays it out:

aware

adjective \ə-ˈwer\

: knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists

: feeling, experiencing, or noticing something (such as a sound, sensation, or emotion)

: knowing and understanding a lot about what is happening in the world or around you

Let’s take the given definition and apply it to bipolar disorder:

First, do we know that bipolar exists? I mean we probably do, since many readers here either experience it themselves, or through a loved one. But what about those who use hurtful phrases like, “snap out of it” or “stop being so dramatic”. Do they know bipolar disorder is a true, often harrowing disorder? Sadly, many do not recognize it as being real.

Second, to ‘feel, experience, or notice’ bipolar disorder is actually pretty intense. Those of us who live with it most definitely experience all facets of the disorder, no matter how unique each of our experiences are from one another. What about the uneducated? Your loved ones who keep asking questions? The general public with stigmatized views of bipolar folks? Sure they may have residual feelings from their own perception, but think what a world of difference it could make if they had a true grasp on the bipolar experience, or had a clear idea of what to take notice in.

The last part of this definition emphasizes knowledge and thorough understanding of notions larger than oneself. In this case, do we (you, me, they) allow our brains to penetrate past the point of comfort and acceptance, and into the realm of higher learning? Are we hungry for knowledge on something that makes up our daily lives? Are we okay with a large percentage of the world being ignorant of mental illness? Have we really thought about the fact that we are often discriminated against, are faced with shame, with embarrassment? That is what is happening in the world around us. That is why this movement of bipolar disorder awareness is so very important.

What you can do:

  • Get educated. Seriously, tap into the internet (see links I have listed on the side of this page), go to the library or snatch an ebook such as Bipolar Disorder for Dummies .
  • Educate others. Start a conversation with your friends. Tell your parents how your disorder makes you feel. Don’t be shy.
  • Remember that bipolar disorder and other mental disorders are just as important as physical illnesses such as diabetes or cancer.
  • Address the issue of stigma. Don’t allow others to incorrectly label or generalize serious mental health issues.
  • Never use mental disorders as slurs, and correct others for doing so as well.
  • Share links to blogs, books, websites, advocacy groups, sources from mental health professionals on your social media.
  • Share your own experience through a creative outlet, or even a speaking engagement.

Let’s all commit to making a change this time around. Let’s all push a little harder to make our voice heard. Awareness exists for a reason, so let’s use it as a vessel to deliver our message.

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.

300+ Followers! Thank You!

Thank you all so much for supporting me and the ongoing development of this blog. I am overwhelmed with the sense of community here, as well as for the many talented writers in the blogs that I follow. I think it’s important to give thanks and appreciation where it’s due, and to celebrate milestones such as this. Thanks again.
-N.M.

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My Rapist Just Sent Me a Friend Request

Suddenly the room closed in on me and my head was spinning. There it was on my computer screen. His name. I froze, glad his profile picture was not his face. 13 years passed and I hate him more today then I did back then. The fact that he would even send a friend request was shocking. I chose to ignore it until I better knew how to handle what I was feeling.

TRIGGER WARNING! Before you read any further, please know I will be talking about a sensitive issue involving sexual abuse. While I will not discuss anything graphic or in detail, the subject matter may not be suitable for all readers. I want all of my readers to feel comfortable on this site. Thanks.

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 Early Signs

I was barely 18, and I worked as a banquet server at a nice Midwestern country club which was owned by a tight-knit Italian family. I loved my job and I made a lot of friends there. Many of us would hang out after work on the weekend and have parties. The social groups were somewhat segregated by whichever position you worked. For instance, the servers were not heavily associated with the chefs or the dishwashers. Which brings me to the beginning of my nightmare.

I thought it was odd that one of the chefs- we’ll call him C- took interest in me. I immediately thought he was disgusting. He was 10+ years older than me, he smelled nasty, had teeth resembling toilet scum, and had a very aggressive demeanor. At first I just played it off like whatever. I was a very outgoing and wild young person, so my attention was everywhere else and I thought nothing of it. Until the day I needed a ride home from work. Due to circumstance, I had no car or reliable transportation this particular night. C offered to give me a lift. I thought this was generous of him and I did appreciate it. I climbed into his pickup and we began the 20 minute drive to where I lived. As we were approaching my neighborhood, C pulled into a nearby parking lot. And locked the doors. He proceeded to unbuckle his seat belt and inch his way into the passenger side, where I was sitting. I remember asking him what he was doing. He said he knew this was more than just a ride home. At this point his body was crushing me. I asked him repeatedly to just take me home. Amazingly, he released me and drove me home. What happened next? I went into my room and I got incredibly angry. At myself.

Clearly I had provoked him somehow. How could I be such an idiot? Such a whore? What was wrong with me?

I made a vow to walk home before I ever let this sleaze give me a ride again. I know most would think I was crazy for blaming myself. But you need to realize I was already a teenager suffering from a mental illness. I was also already a survivor of sexual assault when I was victimized at age 16.

Then it Got Dark

He left me alone for awhile after the truck incident. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I changed how I did things at work. I tried to avoid him when I was in the kitchen. That worked. For a few weeks. Then came my education of just how physically strong C was as he lifted my 5’1″ self and carried me into the walk-in cooler. It was so dark in there. And sound proof. He pinned me up against shelves of ranch dressing, and shoved his toilet bowl mouth on mine. His hands grazed, as if checking out the merchandise he might consider stealing at a later date. What was probably 5 minutes, but felt like an hour, finally aborted when he had to return to his post.

I was dizzy. I was nauseous. And I knew everything had just changed. He wasn’t done with me. And I knew it.

To complicate things further, C’s mother was a manager at this country club. Being that the club was family owned, and considerably prestigious, C was highly regarded by the traditional elderly Italian man that ran the place. I was a teenage banquet server. There were 20 more just like me. The head-honchos didn’t know my name. And I wore a name tag. I was not highly regarded.

The next antic C pulled was, again, physically carrying me to a vacant space. This time it was the laundry room. I remember pushing with all of my might, against his huge arms, to try to get free and make my way for the door. He over-powered me and even though he was only restraining me at this point, I now realize that he was grooming me. Breaking me down. Showing me that he has power over me. Conditioning me for what I didn’t even know was to come next.

The first time C forced me to have sex with him, he was very strategic and made sure nobody was in this particular part of the building. Like usual, he hauled me over his shoulder and scooted off with me. His ragdoll. At first, I’d try to fight. I’d kick and push his arms. He was never phased by my resistance. I found myself in a vacant banquet room. He jammed the double doors and held me down on a round table. I tried to get up, he pushed me down. I tried to roll off the table, he pinned my shoulders down. I knew I could scream, but no one would hear. I could kick him in the balls, I could scratch his eyes out. But honestly, I was terrified. C was very strong and had a boiling temper. I’ve witnessed the dents he put in various doors in the kitchen. So I jumped into the only survival mode I knew, and I just let go.

I quickly adopted the mentality of “the quicker I just let it happen, the quicker it’ll all be over”. And he raped me.

This pattern had been going on for a little while when people started to talk. Friends and other co-workers were noticing us emerging from desolate areas, clothes a mess. The gossip train had come a chugging, and suddenly we were a hot topic. I was so sick inside. I wanted to tell people what was really happening. Surely someone would believe me, right? I see him attempt to flirt with other girls, and smack their butts, and do other piggish, unwarranted gestures. But I was scared. I didn’t think saying anything would get anywhere due to his status in the company. Also, I had a reputation for being wild, which some managers knew about. As far as I was concerned, I was doomed. And I had brought it upon myself. I felt I probably deserved it. My mental health was already in varying lows, with low self-esteem, so this abuse was only making me worse off.

On top of being afraid to say something, I was embarrassed. It was very humiliating to be over-powered and used. I was trying to hold onto every ounce of pride and dignity I could muster. And I revisited my survival mode many more times while he had his way with me. Forget dating. I tried to date, but every time he put his hands on me, I felt like I was getting filth on me, and thus my love interest shouldn’t touch me. I pushed people away.

Breaking Point

New Year’s Eve 2001. The country club held an annual gala. Hundreds of fancy people eating fancy food, drinking fancy drinks, dancing to fancy music, wearing fancy attire. Also a mandatory work night for all staff. The event was taking place in the center of the building, in the Grand Ballroom, the largest of the rooms. All managers on duty, with walkie talkies. Every person in that building was in the Grand Ballroom, leaving all other areas of the building dark and vacant. Something that most wouldn’t even care about, but caused severe anxiety for me. I knew I would end up in one of these dark corners at some point that night.

I remember feeling particularly depressed this New Year’s. My bipolar was spiraling and I occasionally self-harmed. I was a student at the community college, and I had made some new friends there. These friends were giving me a new light, and were actually making me feel better. We had fun together. And we had plans to bring the new year in together that night, once I was off work.

C was more aggressive than usual that night. He caught me the second I was released from my shift. The liquor stench radiated from his nasty mouth. At this point, I knew it was close to 11:00, and I had to meet my friends. He took his time. He was loud and cocky. I wanted to scream so badly, but I knew all bodies were in the Grand Ballroom with fancy champagne and fancy mini-cakes. I just remember feeling so weak and exhausted. I attempted to get in touch with my inner self and make a New Year’s resolution. But I couldn’t even do that.

At this point, I just shut down mentally. I heard the muffled sound of a countdown and the “Happy New Year!” I was too numb to be disappointed that I’d missed my plans.

That night I dragged my body into my bedroom. And into the drawer where I kept my medications. And I took them all. Every last pill.

I curled up in bed beside my mother and just cried. My body was shaking. I wanted nothing more than to just disappear. This is the suicide attempt that landed me in the psychiatric hospital. That was also, by some miracle, the last time C touched me. I never told anybody about this. Until recently.

Demons Came a Knockin

A few days ago I logged into my Facebook to feed my social media addiction and post some new photos of the cutest baby ever. My mood somewhat chipper, and nowhere deep. Until I hit my notifications and there he was. The monster who used to drag me to dark rooms and press his super strong manhood onto my teenage body. That fucking asshole had the audacity to request permission into my life. My sacred, blessing-filled life! There was no way in hell I would ever allow him to smear his filth anywhere near my world again. I left it alone for a minute until I was collected enough to write him a private message:

You have some nerve sending me a friend request. After the shit you used to pull on me when I was barely 18 years old. I hate you and I think you are a disgusting piece of shit. You forced yourself on me. More than once. Of course you knew I couldn’t say anything because your mommy was a manager & you were a hot shot cook. I was just a dumb little banquet server with a wild reputation. Nobody would ever believe me. I’d lose my job before you would ever get in trouble. And you knew it. Do you know the last time you forced me to have sex with you- on New Year’s, in an empty banquet room- I went home and tried to kill myself. I overdosed because of you. I ended up in the hospital. And still- I couldn’t say anything. I just had to go along with whatever everyone else said about us. In reality I hated you. You made me feel like shit. I thought it was my fault. You knew you could prey on me & you did. I know you did this shit to others too. You tried to make it out like it was consensual, but it never was. I just had to shut up & take it because you were stronger than me. I would never touch you voluntarily. You are a pathetic waste of flesh. I hope I never have to see you again. My life is amazing now. I’m doing great & I’m happy. So help me god, if we ever cross paths, you will regret ever laying a hand on me.

I know this was a long and harrowing story. But I felt I needed to share my experience. I am so much stronger in many ways than I used to be. It’s oddly cathartic to have sent that message to him. He has not written back. I don’t even care if he does. He can’t hurt me anymore than he already has. There are too many precious things in my life now. I truly hate him.

Also, if you are EVER in a position where somebody is forcing them self on you, or making you uncomfortable, please tell somebody. I was very sick mentally, and became lost. Don’t lose yourself. Speak up about sexual assault.

Thanks for listening.

I Want This Shirt!

I don’t typically like to advertise my bipolar disorder, but once in awhile a little humor goes a long way. And I do feel people are sensationalizing bipolar disorder these days, therefore making it almost a trend. Blows my damn mind, really. But either way, it was definitely not cool at all when I was diagnosed. Nobody else had it and everyone I told had a reaction.

 

Shop here: Zazzle

Saying it Aloud Makes it Real

Apparently I’m fighting mania. Apparently I didn’t realize this until I talked about it. Apparently.

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I knew a few factors were surfacing, but I didn’t realize just how many signs of mania were actually present in my life until I shared my current state at my DBSA support group meeting last night.

Let’s begin by examining the facts – the manic stuff.

  1. It’s Spring. My witching season. Well, the start of it anyway. Summer is equally lethal. Warm weather heats my blood something good.
  2. I’m suffering from chronic boredom. Bored with work. Bored socializing. Bored at home. Bored in my marriage.
  3. I’m overstimulating in order to combat the boredom. Drinking. Music. A dozen social networks. Heavy involvement with friends.
  4. Becoming hypersexual. Collecting new erotic photography. Flirting. More self-stimulation than usual.
  5. Planning. I’m planning a mini vacation by myself next month to stay with a friend and attend my favorite band in concert. Okay- my obsession in concert. Which brings me to number 6.
  6. I can’t help the obsessions. Tegan and Sara have been my loves for over a decade. I can’t get enough. Literally. I’m also obsessing over my marriage. And the lack of sex.
  7. My mind is racing. I struggle to focus at work. My ideas are flying around. I’m quite forgetful.
  8. Irritability. I’m moody and irritable. I seem to get annoyed easily with customers. And traffic. And television. And a few acquaintances.
  9. Fleeting desire to skip meds. I don’t want them. I don’t like them. So there.
  10. Spending money. My wife is our financial manager, but I have managed to find an unusual amount of reasons to need money lately.

Let’s examine things further – the not so manic stuff.

  1. I am indeed still taking the meds. I toy with the idea of stopping. Regardless of those thoughts, I comply with treatment. My wife is mostly to thank for this.
  2. I have a job. And I go to it. Every day. On time. It’s often difficult to function with a spinning head and chronic restlessness. But I’m there.
  3. I take excellent care of my son. For some reason, this part really works for me. He’s healthy. He’s happy. He’s dressed, changed, fed, and snuggled. I manage to drop him off at my sister’s every morning. It’s a miracle, maybe.
  4. I’m not as bad as I’ve been. Maybe the meds are preventing me from falling into full-blown mania.

What is my next step? Well, that is a good question because I am conflicted. Right now I am incredibly tempted to succumb to the manic triggers that pacify my boredom. I flashback to last summer- too much booze, too much pot, too much fraternizing for a married woman, never needing sleep, and rounds of fighting with my wife. I look at how things are right now and I’m not where I was last year.

Am I heading there? I guess I can’t say for sure. I will try to vow to stay on the meds in order to prevent it. My psychiatrist already doubled my Seroquel to balance me out. The fact that I really am chronically bored and I crave excitement may be what drives my actions. It’s a vulnerable thing to feel so unpredictable.