Thursday, October 28, 2010

Depression is a Evil Little Lurker

 My doctor has seemed to get my meds right since my last meltdown and for the most part I have been feeling pretty balanced and generally happy. My life is nowhere near perfect and I am not running around shitting rainbows and unicorns but my lows are not as low and thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster my highs are not as high or prolonged.
 Still though I live with a pretty serious level med resistant BiPolar Disorder and what may seem balanced to me will seem pretty nuts for others especially folks who do not know me well. The hardest thing I fight of late is not my manic highs they are pretty well tied up in my emotional basement in the time out corner. It is my depression that is always lurking just under covers. It makes me want to isolate, and not take proper care of myself. I am currently battling a minor depressive episode which seems to like my company a little too much. My self awareness allows me to see the symptoms, like my current desire to hide in my apt, yet unable to fully make the feelings go away. This is how depression tortures people, it is like a bully sitting across from you always reminding you that you are not in full control of your emotions and there is little you can do about it.
 These depressions for my seem to cycle and my rational brain knows that soon it will fade. But for the time being I may isolate more and feel like crap some days.
 I am fighting a life long battle that will never stop it is the part of living with a mental illness that is exhausting to the person living with it and to the people close to the person living with it. I am grateful though in a odd way that I am depressed and not manic because my mania tends to leave me with lots of emotional wreckage within my personal life and my little lurking depression is less offensive.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Rumble in My Lumbar a Cage Fight With Cancer"

Today I met with both my Neurosurgeon and my Oncologist to discuss my treatment for Chordoma bone cancer which this badger has been living with. I have not been too eager to treat this choosing to live in the lovely Isle O' Denial for months. But both physical pain, rabid threats by my very cool GP and a desire to want to maybe live motivated me to take a more proactive role in my treatment.
not actual cage thank Jebus
nor is this cage a accurate portrayal of my spine cage thank Jebus on a bicycle. 

  Soon a Cage Fight of Calciumatoic proportions will take place in my spine,as the surgery is rarely done, and I will need some custom made cyborg / airport security pissing off parts. I have to have another MRI in a few weeks to measure my spiney goodness so they can manufacture a special flexible cage to place over my L-4 and L-5 vertebrae once they remove more than a quarter of each one. This bone exorcism will remove the tumors and the cage will provide support. After a few months they will check my bone growth and see if it has new cancerous bone if so they will remove more bone and put in bone from a dead guy or gal to shore things up.

 I am scared shitless, this is a new surgery and a risky one, I could and there is a good chance loose all bone support in my spine and face a life with paralysis, a option they weighed heavily on my decision and my denial.    I will not be needing Chemo after all, because it just does not work on what I have and my radiation will continue only after the epic cage fight. I will continue to try and keep my mental health up while awaiting my fight and am stronger due to support from good friends. "So Lets Get Ready To Rumble in this corner Bad Bone in the Other The Bagder! A Cage Fight of the Century!!!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"I Just Never Knew, You Seemed So Happy."

 Can there be darkness in the light? Yes just check the shadows and there you will find darkness even in the bright tropical sun there will be pockets of darkness. To most people the image of depression is the sad person who never leaves the house or rarely baths. The person for whom no stimulus what so ever can lift them to any joy and the visually witnessed depression covers them and smothers their souls.

  I have had the aforementioned depression the dark rabbit hole kind of way suffering the feelings of just wanting to disappear into the warm dark hole it offers. This is not my only form of depression, I also churn with what some have called and what may be in the new DSM manual "Smiling Depression".

 Walk and interact with most people and they would never know that I was depressed, I can for the most part function publicly like all is ok, when inside I am an emotional train wreck choo chooing my way down my mental health tracks. Some professional are torn if this is a different form of depression that camouflages it's self in public as emotional protection, or a learned behavior that one uses to mingle in the world without drawing attention to yourself.

  Smiling depression is a silent killer, how many times have we overheard, " I never knew she or he was depressed". they showed no outwards signs. It is a emotional shape sifter keeping it's darkness a secret. How do we fight this thief of souls, well it is not easy. I suffer from it and the only way for me to really fight it is now that I am so open with a few close friends whom I trust emotionally, I can tell them when my unwanted sidekick "Smiley the fucked up depression" comes over to play. It also is important for loved ones and friends who can see thru it when they want to see it to talk to the persona about it.

 This "Smiling Depression" is slippery and dangerous and I fear is more common than we give it credit to. So if you suffer your depression alone when no one is looking, please go ask for help. You can and should be able to smile when you are alone too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Badger for Hire" or "Will Work for Sanity"

I have been struggling for awhile being on disability and not working, I have worked almost all of my adult life and find not working to very very hard to get used to. I am not seeking the same full time work that I have spent the good part of two decades doing as I am not healthy enough physically or Mentally to do my chosen career justice both to myself and possible employers.

  Besides my mental health of which I am still on the mend from, I am also dealing and not dealing with my physical illness. I have a form of Bone Cancer called  "Chordoma"  and this is what causes me all of my physical pain and some days leaves me unable to do much more than eat pills, drool and lay on my bed.

 There are arguments on both sides of me working a little, that I need to focus on my care, and as long as I can feed myself and have a roof over my head than everyone is ok and I should focus on me first. There is also the corner that says " I should work a little or Volunteer somewhere".

 I need to do something, sure my disability insurance is covering my needs but rarely my wants. I used most of my money to cover my debts and the debts of my Father which I promised to take care of. I still miss have the extra cash to do things, to occasionally spoil myself, to be spontaneous at all.  I also need some human contact on a regular basis and working / volunteering would offer me that.

I know I am too sick to work now my heart knows that but my mind does not and fights with my heart. I am stuck and somewhat lost. I feel like a charity case sometimes, ashamed other times when I have no reason to be ashamed. I just miss having a full life like i had. I may get used to this but I do not have to like it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Strength...WTF? Where Did That Come From"

   As I live with my Bipolar disorder and am working towards a better state of Mental Health I doubt my strength. This doubt is a feeling that I alone do not ruminate in, it is as common as eating a bag of Kettle Chips a hour after taking your meds. Often when we are overwhelmed by our own illness or fear of our own illness sneaking back up on us and we feel weak and helpless.

  I discovered that the inner strength that I thought had hitched a ride on my sanity to Vegas had gone and I was now week and unable to rise up to be the person I knew I was. Recently I discovered that my inner strength was still there, all be it somewhat shaky and not perfect it was there, and I was able to get out of my own head long enough to help another when they needed me. It was not a big thing that I had done, or one especially amazing. Yet I was able to find my inner strength and that is the important message for Mental Health Awareness Week.

 Allow yourselves to be strong, to allow that strength to work when you or others need it. Inner strength does not mean you have to be perfect, nor does it mean you cant be emotional. Life makes us feel and our emotions are one of our most honest strengths. Take this day all and exhale knowing when the ass of life starts to fall off your strength might just be there to pick it up for you or others.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"A Demographic of Silence Living With Mental Health Stigma"

 is the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech.[1] Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to non verbal communication and spiritual connection.

Silence when it comes to mental illness is a killer, a killer of self esteem, hope, and emotional safety. Silence mixed with stigma is painful and is a cause for those living with Mental Illness to separate ourselves from the world around us. Rarely does a person living with mental illness speak out to identify with or protect others traveling down our own road, because the fear of being stigmatized by others is a constant shroud that covers us. We have all faces stigma, either self imposed or from a external source, both feed each other and keep us in so many ways from reaching our potential. 

Self Imposed Silence & Stigma; We have no parade or telethon, no ribbon that is worn by people en mass, We are rarely mentioned by media unless it is a story on a person who does something horrific, we have few open role models. This is one way we self stigmatize, out of fear of being seen as not fit for society, based on media provided public awareness. We have also lost friends and family, our behaviors actions have caused rifts, or our emotional state is just ignored or seen and blamed on things that are words easier digested, like "Lazy","Unmotivated", "Must be on drugs", words like these and many others keep us from speaking out.

Outside Stigma: The world is not offered a real view of living with mental illness and in some cases has little respect for the suffering. Look at TV, they portray people with mental illness either as a demon or a clown, to mocked or feared. Shows like "Hoarders" uses people with mental illness to be a digital side show as the old fashion side show is long gone and now a family can mock the ill from the comfort of their own sofa. Or crime shows that as far as I know only Portray people with MH as killers and perverts. So is there any wonder why we and our supporters are quiet. Who want to know a killer or pervert.

At Large Stigma: Ever walk down the street  and walking towards you is a man who is talking to nobody and there is no bluetooth headset under his or her seasonally inappropriate clothing. How often have people laughed or verbally abused these very ill men and women? It happens all the time, no wonder we are silenced.

 Coming out publically with a mental illness is a risk that only you can take. I took that risk years ago and to this day I do not regret it. Still I have faced the things I have mentioned above. I have lost friends, family and trust of employers. Yet I continue to be proud of who I am, a man living with Mental Illness. To break the silence I had to speak out and tell the world who I was. But that is not enough, I have to also protect the dignity of others who still or may never have a voice. If I just live my life, take my meds and quietly live my life I am helping to stigma fester in a vacuum of ignorance and muting others.  Ending the silence begins with ALL of us, ill or not we can make some noise and break down some of the stigma.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"The Drugs Tell Me, Hey Why Not Eat That" " Psych Meds & Weight Gain"

yup this is my belly

 This mental Health week I am going to talk about another aspect of Stigma facing people living with mental illness. This is a topic most people can relate to weight gain, and this weight gain is a direct effect of a lot of the medications we take.

  Estimates are that 20% of North Americans are on some form of Psychoactive medication for a mental illness. Ranging from depression to severe schizophrenia these meds do a couple of insidious things surrounding our metabolism and eating. One of the worst culprits is Seroquel a atypical antipsycotic that is used for the above mentioned disorders and more as a mood stabilizer. A lot of us will trade in mental wellbeing for some weight gain. But in women it is the number one reason why they go off their meds and return to being ill. So why do the TV shows like Oprah, The Doctors, Dr Sanja Gupta etc not talk about this? This is a major compoent for 20% of North America's Obesity problem yet their is silence. And will not sell diet books, or other shilled bullshit.

  When you walk and stare at a fat person on the street it just may be meds they are taking so they can lead a productive and healthy life. So this is a indirect stigma facing those of us living with mental illness. If you are living with mental illness and have or are gaining weight try to understand that the meds are keeping you healthy.

 Discuss  drug caused midnight carb loading, with your doctor and friends, try to know it is not your or my fault. I was once on a drug that put 70lbs on me in 3 months. Now I am on meds that have added some girth to my already girthy body , yet I would rather be wider than crazier.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Put on Your Tin Foil Hat for Mental Health Awareness Week '10

It is October, the smell of fallen leaves the chill of winter is starting to show it's face and it is the begining of the Ugly Holiday Sweater season, God give us strength  it is also Mental Health Awareness Week.

 This week we can all speak out and work to lower the Stigma that living with a Mental Illness carries, we can also show the humanity, humor of living with or living with someone with a mental illness. I am putting my tinfoil hat this week and will write every day with a story, hopefully humorous about my live and my fight with Bipolar and General Anxiety Disorder.

 I am already out of the rubber closet so my goal this week is the help reduce stigma and maybe help someone have the courage to fight their own fight. The only way we can reduce the fear about Mental Illness is to speak about it, frankly, enmass and yes in some cases with some humor.

 This is also the week I will unveil my idea for a ribbon/pin to show support for mental health stigma reduction so stay tuned for that madness it is sure to be polarizing just like me.

So lets all put on our Tin Foil Hats, celebrate who we are for a moment while educating others and spend a quick seven days to take a bite out of Mental Health Stigma.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"The Speed of The Sound of Loneliness"

    I have a default switch in my head and that is to be alone, to sit in my own shit like some fucking happy baby with that same bewildered look in my eyes. Yes I do like to some degree being alone, it is comfortable and easy like a old shoe. I also long for companionship a best friend. My close friends are scattered across the globe, the ones I can always go to when I am sitting staring into the rabbit hole and thinking, "Why Not?"  Yes I call them and that does help but it still feels like I am prisoner in my own loneliness and only allowed to have contact by phone.

 I miss my J.J. as she was my companion not just a wife but a friend alway able to find a way to take my mind off things long enough to let my crazy ass head spool down long enough for me to catch my breath. I have other friends who do the same. I miss these folks.

 The title of this post is a song from "John Prine" & "Nanci Griffith" , the speed of the sound of loneliness is fast and quiet and to me the more I feel alone the more I want to isolate.  I fight it and that fight is exhausting me, today If I could have only one thing that would stop the sound of loneliness  if just for a moment would be to have a day with J.J. back just walking or sitting in bed and watching bad TV.

  I am lonely / isolated and in some ways more than ever before. Will I be ok? Only time will tell, will I come out the other side less sensitive to my feelings of loneliness and fears of abandonment. Who Knows? I know today I am not doing well, I also know that I am working on theses things and my rational mind knows that is a step back from the edge of my rabbit hole.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Nice Sofa Let's Chat My Beginnings of Therapy"

For years I have had Psychiatric care received meds for my Bipolar disorder but I have been resistant to therapy. I could sit here and tell you lots of witty reasons why I avoided therapy, like men with ironic shrink beards and lady shrinks in linen and smelling of incense and carob bars. These amusing and accurate as they might be are not the reason I avoided therapy.

  Therapy is forcing me to look at myself, deep into myself into my life's dark scary corners. And once I see what is in my rabbbit warren of a emotional life like some mental colonoscopy do something about it and work to build skills to bypass my behaviors and become a better healthier person. This scares the crap out of me, plain and simple, there are things in my life that I do not want to revisit or discover for that matter. But I am also at a place where if I do not, there is no way I can get to be a healthier person. I must take this step forward I have no choice the only other choice I have to spend the rest of my life alone an emotional dead zone for myself or anyone around me and really that is a death sentence to a person living with mental illness.

 Without therapy a person living with mental illness can never really be "Well" is what I am discovering and thus without therapy all the meds in the world are a waste of my liver function.

 If I seem not as talkative or more distant than normal for awhile, please understand that this process is new for me and it is opening up old wounds some I never even knew I had. So please be as patient as you can or willing to be with me, this is not a fast fix and I will not change overnight. All I can say is that I will remain the kind, gentle man you know.