What We Need and Victories

We all love the feeling of success. Whether defeating a rival in a football game or getting first place in a spelling bee,  we all want to win.

I’ve often thought winning myself. What is winning in a mental illness? There’s no easy answer to this.

We have victories throughout our mental health journey. We are clean from self harm for a day, then two days, then a week, and so on. We get released from the hospital, and stay out for as long as possible. Even just staying alive for another day can be a victory to someone struggling. All of these examples deserve much praise.

There are also setbacks in the mental health world. I refuse to call them failures, as there are no failures on this journey. Even if you hurt yourself or relapse into your alcohol addiction, there is always a way back onto the wagon into victory.

When you are a member of the mentally ill gang,we celebrate every little positive happening. You ate something today? AWESOME!!!! Even though you cut yourself, you bandaged it and have refrained from it for a day? We are totally behind you all the way.

When you aren’t in our crew, you might not view these as victories. You might see them as a little step. Believe me, every little step is a huge deal. We all know what it is like to see the bottom of the abyss. Every step up is something to praise. As long as we are climbing, we are reaching our goal.

Sometimes, the stairs going up are crumbling down. We are having a hard time staying steady, and we fall down, down, down. However, all of us are here for each other in those moments. We help lift each other up, and get each other back to a healthy place.

I have one request for you, if you are not on this journey: COMMUNICATE. Please listen to us when we are struggling. Yes, other mentally ill people are a great support, but sometimes we need somebody on the other side. We need to see your perspective, so that it is possible to see it your way. Tell us how it makes you feel when we do something negative. Tell us how it makes you feel when we do something positive. Just tell us your thoughts. We will listen, or at least try to. It is hard for us to listen sometimes, but we need to hear you.

While we support our community, and you support yours, we also need to support each others. We need to educate you all on mental illness and our experiences, while you tell us your views. Let us come to you, but please please please, if you see us struggling and not helping ourselves, come to us. We care for you even when we don’t care for yourself. We hope you all will do the same.
(I might not be speaking for the whole mental health community, but U am going by what I see the most)

Let’s Talk Schizoaffective

Schizoaffective disorder. After being diagnosed with it, than have it changed , then diagnosed again, I had to stop and wonder what it is. I’ll answer some questions and share some common misconceptions I believed about it.

First of all, what is schizoaffective disorder? The disorder can be hard to explain. It is a combination of two other disorders, schizophrenia and a mood disorder. This mood disorder can be either depressive type or bipolar type. I wasn’t formally told what type I am. Heck, I wasn’t even formally told that my diagnosis had changed. However, I do believe I am bipolar type, as I have depressive and manic episodes, some so bad they land me in the hospital. In schizoaffective disorder, the basis of the disorder is the psychotic features with the mood disorder alongside it. To be diagnosed, the psychotic features must be present without a mood disorder episode going on and the symptoms happening for at least a month

What are psychotic symptoms that might be associated with schizoaffective disorder? These can include several things

 

  • Hallucinations, which can happen with all symptoms. I experience auditory, visual, smell, and taste ones. They are things that are not there, or are not happening that one experiences.
  • Delusions- A strong belief that can not be changed. A person could believe that they are God, or that the television is speaking directly to them. I have thoughts about the government chasing me and that people can read my thoughts. People say they are not true, but during an episode, the belief can not be shaken.
  • Negative symptoms- These are symptoms that lower a person’s mood and functioning. Some examples are loss of interest in activities, less emotional expression, loss of motivation, and not worrying about thoughts and social input. Read more here.

 

Now that we know what it is, what are things that I used to believe that are simply not true?

 

Does it mean I’m crazy?: First of all, there is no crazy, just as there is no normal. People with mental disorders might have different brain chemistry and happenings in their lives, but they are not- we are not- “crazy”. There is not one type of person with a mental illness, as there is not one type of person who works in a grocery store, or one type of person who reads the comics before the local news in a newspaper. If we are crazy, so are you.

 

Am I someone to be scared of? Am I more prone to be violent?: People with mental illness are not always violent. Some are, some aren’t. Just like some person without a mental illness are, but others aren’t. You can’t pick one group of people and always be scared of that one part of the population, just because there is a chance they could hurt someone. If that is your way of thinking, why don’t we just lock up everyone who has the chance to be violent?

Am I ever going to be self sufficient?: This is a question I ask myself every day. Some days I go on a spree of looking into jobs and different schools I can get a degree in. I think I can get a house on my own. Other days, I can’t even stay awake for more than a couple hours and believe I will have to live at home for the rest of my life. I have had a job, and I lost it because of my mental illness eating away at me. I tried school, and once again, my illness took over. I am in no place right now to take care of myself fully. I need my parents to fill my medicine because I get it wrong every time. I need to be with someone, or at least be near someone, at all times because of my fears, hallucinations, and delusions. So, I don’t know the answer to this question. I hope someday I am, but I’ll have to see what is thrown my way.

 

And finally, the big one

 

Am I ever going to “get better”?: This one is simple. No. This might sound negative, but it’s the truth. I am never going to fully recover. Recovery is possible, but relapses will happen. I will have times where I am fine, medications are working wonderfully, and I don’t have any symptoms showing. There will also be times when I am so psychotic I black out, or I stay up all night with racing thoughts and can’t think straight. Then there are the times when I will have to be hospitalized. I hope every day that this will not happen, but I know it might. I even know that it will. My disorder lives in my brain, and doesn’t want to put up the “for sale” sign. Sometimes, it puts up a “looking for tenants” sign, and schizoaffective will bring its buddies in and have a grand old time tearing my brain apart. No, I won’t get better, but I will feel better sometimes.
Schizoaffective disorder can take over my life. It also gives me insight into what others are dealing with. I see the bipolar side and the schizophrenic side. I wish more than anything that I could take it away, but I know I can’t, and I know I need to be okay with it. I am working on it, and I hope others will work on better understanding not just schizoaffective, but every mental illness. Educate yourself, just as I and every mentally ill person educates themselves every day.

High School Experience Part 5: Graduation

Senior year was not terrible. Compared to all my other high school experiences, it was the best darn thing I ever did see. School is tough for everyone, but for mentally ill, socially awkward kids, it is way past tough and heading into a steel box that no one can get you out of.  I had people try to get me out, but the problem was that I wouldn’t let myself out.

The thing I did let out of the box was my brain. I graduated with a 4.1 GPA, a National Honor’s Society gold cord around my neck, and a fine arts completer rainbow tassel. Unfortunately, I had not earned the fine arts tassel. I had lost my regular tassel last minute, and the vice principal let me use a fine arts one, because I had no other way to get it. I found my real tassel six months later beside my grandfather’s seat in his car, while looking for my Nintendo DS.

Hearing my AP biology teacher wish me luck before it was my turn, walking across that stage, shaking hands with the principal and speaker, and getting my diploma. That was the greatest accomplishment of my life. After all that had happened in my life, I actually graduated with honors. I never thought it would come.

To all recent graduates who have struggled through high school, no matter the reason, congratulations! You all fought hard to get to where you are now. High school graduate is a title to feel proud of. Whatever plans you have for the fall, whether it be 4-year, 2-year, or technical school, the workforce, or the military, you are going to make it. After what you have dealt with, anything is possible. Don’t get mad if plans don’t work out. You never know what life is going to throw your way. If it’s good, go for it! If it is not so positive, don’t give up. A new plan is out there somewhere. You’ll make it.

My steel box is letting me out, step by step. I will make it too.

Good Riddance  (Time Of Your Life)- Green Day

PTSD:Do’s and Don’ts of Loving a Survivor

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more commonly know as PTSD. It is the stress that happens after a traumatic experience, such as abuse, coming home from war, a car crash, or anything that causes extreme stress. Not everybody who experiences these scary things develops PTSD.

Those who do experience PTSD often have several symptoms. These can include flashbacks, nightmares, jumpiness, and watching everything at a high concentration level; it can happen at any age. The newest DSM-5 added criteria for children under six years of age. (http://www.brainlinemilitary.org/content/2014/06/dsm-v-tr-criteria-for-ptsd.html0

There is also Complex PTSD, which is associated with long- term trauma such as concentration camps, long-term abuse, and Prisoners Of War camps.  Many survivors of this type of PTSD have problems regulating their emotions, dissociation, bad thoughts about themselves and exaggerated views of their abusers. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/complex-ptsd.asp

No matter the person’s age, symptoms, or what causes the person’s stress, there are simple steps you can take to help them .There is also a list of things not to do.

DO’S

Find out what triggers them and try to refrain from doing that.

  1. Once you know how to help, expose them to their trigger in small amounts (read don’ts about this one).
  2. Help them calm down during an episode, if they want you to.
  3. Watch for danger, such as severe anger, suicide risk, or substance abuse
  4. Expect the person might have flashbacks of the event. This is a common part of PTSD.
  5. Get them help. PTSD is hard to deal with and a therapist might help.
  6. Know that they might not ready for therapy. Therapy is hard for the beginner and veterans of it.
  7. Know that survivors of Complex PTSD need different treatment, such as recovering power and making safe relationships. Long term abuse does NOT mean they need to have long-term suffering, but might need longer to heal.
  8. Let a person have independence. They might have struggles, but they can help themselves sometimes.
  9. Help the person know that you still love them, even with their struggling. Show them that you care.

DON’TS

  1. Scare a person because you think it is funny. It is NOT funny to the person
  2. Ask why they have PTSD. If they want to tell you, let them do it when they know they are ready.
  3. Don’t touch the person without permission. This means anywhere. Even if you just want to shake hands. We should get into doing that for everyone.
  4. Tell others about the person’s condition. Once again. If you have permission,go ahead.
  5. Make them feel about themselves. For example, don’t tell them “It wasn’t too bad” or “Get over it. People have it worse than you”.
  6. Force someone to face their trigger before they are ready
  7. Calm them down in a way that they don’t want. Let them figure out their needs.
  8. Interfere with their emotions by telling them to “calm down”.Believe me, it only makes things worse.
  9. Refer to your loved one as a victim. They have struggled, but are still alive. They are survivors. Give them credit for how far they have come. Call them  their deserved title: Survivors.Better yet, cal them by their name, if they are comfortable. They are humans who want to not be known by their illness.
  10. Struggle alone. Helping your loved one care for themselves can be draining. Make sure you are getting some time to yourself, or either even go to therapy yourself.

 

PTSD is extremely hard to deal with. Your help is welcome at most times. Ask before you help. We are thankful for your support. Even the little things you do- making dinner for them in a rough spot. Tell them their favorite jokes, watch a light-hearted movie- there are so many things you can do to help promote pleasant feelings instead of the intrusive thoughts that come around in our mind.

 

ONE MORE DO- Know that they are not their mental illness. There will be times where the person is fine. Enjoy those moments. Take life in as it is. There are positive and negative moments in everything. Handle the negative the best way you can. Learn through the positive. Every day’s a day to educate yourself on PTSD, but also a day to do something for yourself.

Pierce The Veil- Hold On Till May: Chose because it is abuse, love, and suicide.

 

Bipolar: Do’s and Don’ts Of Giving Help

Note: The paper in the picture is my writing while extremely psychotic while in a manic episode.

Bipolar disorder is hard to deal with. Whether you are Bipolar 1 or Bipolar 2, you know what it feels like. Ups, downs, in the middle, they are all confusing to live with. You can never know what it feels like if you don’t have it. Even us with Bipolar aren’t exactly sure what will come next.

 

First of all, you should all know the symptoms and the differences between Bipolar I  and II

 

Mania- the “high” of bipolar that causes less need for sleep, speaking quickly, substance abuse, hypersexuality, spending money frivolously, and inflated self-confidence

 

Depressive episodes -Like in clinical depression, the patient will sleep more, have no pleasure in things, no energy,and feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

 

Now that you know that, I can describe the types of Bipolar

 

Bipolar I –  Has had at least one serious manic episode in their life, and depressive phases. People with Bipolar I  have manic episodes for  a few weeks or longer, with depression coming right after or a period of “normal”. I have Bipolar I.

 

Bipolar II- Have had at least one period of hypomania in their life.Hypomania is mania that never elevates as high as mania. Deal with depressive episodes in their lifetime.

 

Now that you know the info, here are 10 Do’s and 10 Don’ts of how to help someone deal with a diagnosis of Bipolar I, as I experience it and know more about it.

 

Do

  1. Make sure that they are taking their medicine. Some people in manic episodes decide they are feeling well enough to go off medicines. They are NOT. Keep track of their medication, times to take them, and doses.
  2. Watch their actions very clearly. In mania, watch out for excessive spending or sleeplessness. Depressive issues should be watched for signs of suicide
  3. If they are at risk of harming themselves, get them evaluated at your local emergency room.
  4. Let them know you are here for them and will help as much as you can
  5. Remember your stopping point: If you can’t handle it,  find a professional
  6. Give their mania or depression a few days without intervention. If it doesn’t go away, check on them.
  7. Find them a therapist. Finding someone who knows how to help is key for a patient with a mental illness or stress.
  8. Listen to their speech. If they are talking too fast or too slow,  or if they are interrupting or won’t contribute. The first symptom in each pair are manic and the second symptom is depression
  9. If the person is psychotic, try to help them land. If it is too serious for you to handle, take them to get evaluated.
  10. Let the person know you love them.Tell them you care. Show them you want to help. We all need someone to be by our side.

 

                                        Now for the don’ts

 

DON’T

  1. Tell them they are having mood swings like everybody s does. Bipolar disorder is NOT just a mood swing.Even then, don’t use it offensively
  2. Use bipolar as an adjective for any word if it is not referring to a person living with bipolar disorder
  3. Take over their treatment. They get a say in the care and should be the main priority. If they are in a serious part of their episode, you can help them explain what’s happening
  4. Push them away, because you don’t understand. Ask them or look online for information
  5. Treat them like a baby. They know what they are feeling. You do not need to explain their disorder.
  6. Tell people unless they want you to. Their privacy is their right.
  7. Belittle someone’s pain just because you don’t see it. Bipolar can have internal symptoms, just like they can have external ones
  8. Leave them alone when they are in a seriously bad mood. Let them know you are here for them.
  9. Help refuse to them find skills to regulate their feelings because you don’t want to help them.
  10. Tell them that everybody is a little bipolar. Just because people have mood swings, such as “I was happy and all of a sudden I felt like crying. I’m so bipolar”. That is a mood swing., lasting only a day. Most bipolar folks have depressive episodes for a while and then have a break or a manic episode for a while. Bipolar is not a one day thing.

 

Bipolar might be a common disorder, but there is not common way to treat those who live it i. Everybody has different styles  of what they need. The easiest way to find out is to ask. These lists might not be accurate for everyone.
Each of us are different. However, we all live on the same planet. Treat each one fairly because we don’t know everyone’s story. Take these differences and share yours as well

Nirvana- Lithium

 

I Have Asperger’s: Do’s and Don’ts of Reponding

People on the spectrum are often victims of stigma.  Those with Asperger’s are even less known about. Our disorder is more invisible. Conversation might be hard, but with help the problem could go away.

 

When we tell others that we have Asperger’s, the person might not know what to say or do. Below are 10 things to do when you are confided in, and 10 things NOT to do.

 

DO

  1. Thank them for telling you
  2. If you don’t understand what Asperger’s is, ASK! Most of us want you to know more
  3. Ask us if there is anything you can do to help
  4. Be a good listener. It is hard enough to talk about it. The least you can do is listen
  5. Let them know if they are too loud. It  gives us a chance to evaluate ourselves
  6. Check in on the person if you don’t think they are listening. For example “ Are you with me?”
  7. Help them when they need it, but only if you know how. Some might not want you to touch them, while a big hug can help others
  8. Know what their triggers are. Schedule changes, sensory issues, a big crowd of people, and so on…
  9. Let us know when we are being inappropriate for the place we are at,, and try to calmly to stop us.
  10. Try to understand, at least a little bit. You will never understand as fully as we do. That is because you do not have it. It is okay to be confused, but try to least educate yourself.

Now for the Don’t side

 

DON’T

  1. Make us feel like less of a person, because we are different. We are ALL different.
  2. Treat us like we are children. People sometimes think we need help when we don’t
  3. Try to relate to us on an Asperger’s level, unless you actually have Asperger’s. Just relate to us as what we both are, a person
  4. Make  a person go to a party or another social event unless are willing.
  5. Assume you know what  Asperger’s is, when you actually have no idea. If you don’t want to ask to person, read up on it!
  6. Force them to make eye contact. It will come on it’s own with help.
  7. Listen to stereotypes and think that all of us do them. Totally wrong. We all have different symptoms from time to time to time and nobody with Asperger’s is the same as another.
  8. Act like you are our friends when you really just want to make them feel bad. Many of us easily trust too quickly. Don’t be over the top nice unless you actually intend for us to be friends
  9. Expect us to be really good at math or science. Just because we have Asperger’s doesn’t mean we are super smart.  Some of us are excellent at history, music, English, and many more. We are smart in our own way, but  we are not all geniuses
  10. Ever, ever, EVER make us feel like a burden. Yes, we might have our difficulties and differences , but we are not someone you can just say goodbye to because we aren’t normal. There is no such thing as normal. We have Asperger’s. You can’t just leave because you don’t want to deal with it.

 

One more Don’t:

 

Don’t go away after reading this, and not use the tips. As a person with Asperger’s I know how tough it can be when people don’t understand.

 

And a Do to balance out the Don’t,

 

Do try to end the stigma surrounding  autism and Asperger’s. Let people know that you or care about a person with either autism or Asperger’s. Share your stories, pictures, and videos that help shut down stigma.

 

We are all different, yet we are the same.

After last night I HAD to fine a DMB song.

Dave Matthews Band- Why I Am

 

My Experience With Residential 3

After acute, Is started working hard. I got all 100s on my point sheet every day, which got me into the 700 award, I actually had the most 700s they had ever had in a row. We got parties when we reached a certain amount of points. During parties we got snacks and the privilege to watch TV or play video games.

I had to do several things to earn my T level, the level you can go home on. I got to go to special outings, like the beach, Dairy Queen, and a place that had a bunch of video games and pool tables. We had a lot of fun on our outings.

To get T level we had to get signatures from staff and write an autobiography about our life and read it to the director of the program and a your staff member you was dedicated to a small group of people. I petitioned for my level and I got it. That was a great day.

T level is also the time to start visiting your home.  At my eighth month, I started with a few hours where we could hang out with our parents. Eventually it moved up to weekends and a few days at a time. Then it was time to start going home. I graduated from the program after being there for nine months. I was free!

Just because I went to the program does not mean I will never relapse or get hospitalized again.

I have done both, but I am still going. Giving up is not an option. I and everyone reading this is capable to move on and leave the pain behind. Talk about it with a therapist. Go to whichever hospital you need, but only if you absolutely need to go. If they decide to send you to residential, you will be fine. My experience is just one of them, You never know what your option will have. My experience was excellent at most of the time but terrible at others. I wanted to go home, and even begged my therapist to send me to another hospital, but I’m glad they didn’t. It was extremely helpful and I was truly cared for. Do research with our therapist on what your option is like. Call the center and talk to them there. You will be fine if you have to go. Do remember, they say 3-6 months, but the stay is closer to 9-12 months, at least the one I went to. As long as it helps you, it will be worth it.