Misunderstood

A friend of mine has been battling obesity for a long time now.

It’s affecting her in a multitude of ways, physically and emotionally. Recently she made the difficult decision to address her problem surgically. That means a series of tests before the surgeon would consider her case, including a psychiatric examination.

The conclusion? She wasn’t a suitable candidate.

She was deeply disappointed, but still determined to fight her battle with her weight. However, she wanted to address the issue of her mental or emotional health one more time, so she went back to the psychiatrist who had made the diagnosis.

Turns out, it was a clerical error and didn’t reflect the psychiatrist’s opinion one bit. In fact, my friend is considered to be someone with a high level of probability for success, both short- and long-term.

What she came to realize through all of this was the bitter treatment people with mental illness face. After this mistake was made but before the error was discovered, she found herself being treated harshly by the staff who once were so kind to her. When her chart was corrected, they returned to their friendly behavior.

clipboard smIt reminded me of a close friend’s experience with bigotry after she had a liver transplant. Nurses and others on the hospital staff were abrupt and, on occasion, downright rude. Finally, she asked her doctor to please note her transplant was necessary due to an auto-immune disorder, not because of substance abuse. The doctor wrote AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE in big letters on her chart, and the staff turned around in their judgmental attitudes. Jean was disgusted.

Mental health and substance abuse remain stigmatized in our society,

even among medical professionals who should know better. They presumably have accurate information about the nature of these diseases, and after all, haven’t they committed themselves to a profession of compassion and empathy?

It brings me back to singing a familiar tune: you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s easy, and convenient, to judge another’s behavior. It gives us a feeling of control.

But it’s dangerous, and a crutch for the foolish.

EyesI respect those who are gracious enough to give those with mental illness the room they need to deal with their disease. One of my closest friends has two sisters diagnosed with bipolar disorder, at different levels of severity. The oldest sister has a difficult time functioning in society. With the help of family, she’s chosen to live in a halfway house in a remote area.

The other sister, after years of destructive living, was able to get a handle on her disease and maintain both a job for herself and a home for her son. About every seven years, however, she had a severe relapse. Her son would live his with father during that time, and her employer would give her a leave of absence for as long as she needed it.

The time came when that company was sold, and she decided to apply for disability, knowing that odds were another employer wouldn’t be as kind about her mental health. The courts agreed, and at the age of 56, she was granted disability. She still makes a valuable contribution to society through volunteer work, and her son is healthy, happy and completely supportive of his mother.

Her volunteer work is with mental health awareness, and people listen to her. How they apply what she has to say in their own lives is, of course, an unknown, but we can only hope they open their hearts and listen to what is unsaid.

Because we are often best understood by what is unsaid.


Image Credits: (Woman in Despair) © Bigstock; (Medical Chart) © GraphicStock; (Eyes) courtesy of Pixabay.

Advertisements

Don’t Pull that Thread!

I know the warning signs.

I know when I’m on the edge and about to explode — or implode — emotionally. I’m close to that point now and doing everything I can to ward it off. It’s part of being bipolar, I suppose, and it’s not a fun part.

bigstock-concerned-woman-retro-clipar-34339379-convertedThe good news is I’m aware of what’s happening and I know what steps to take to help myself. It’s not a perfect system, and I’m still at risk of losing it. But it’s better than it used to be.

My job isn’t helping the situation. I’m working as a tax preparer, and of course, this week is crunch week. The deadline for filing this year is April 18 (the 15th is on Saturday and Monday the 17th is a holiday in Washington D.C.), so I’m pushing my limits everyday except Sunday (we have Easter off) for the next week. It’s not a good thing when you have a mental illness.

My co-workers are great; the other woman in the office I’m assigned to is just about the perfect co-worker, and my supervisor somehow has managed to keep her cool and a good sense of humor despite the fact she’s worked every day since December. Without that, I don’t know if I’d be doing as well.

But there’s always a thread that might cause everything to unravel, and that thread was pulled today.

It started last Thursday, when the local trash collectors picked up my garbage can for alleged non-payment, and I very nearly lost it. I had paid my bill two weeks before, well before the due date. The lady in customer service, who was very nice and professional, did her best to get the container back to me by yesterday, so I’d have it for trash pick-up today.

Trash ContainerIt’s important to note here that the garbage company provides the trash cans, and we’re required to use them. No personal cans allowed.

They didn’t deliver. Heather, the customer service lady, had told me I could use my own container, so I thought, at least there’s a way they’ll pick up the garbage. I was forced to drag out my old, personal trash can from under the back porch in my townhouse, and haul it up a very steep hill, where I slipped more than once, sending that container down the slope. I was frustrated and angry and doing my best to keep it together.

But events conspired against me, or so it seemed in my agitated state. One team from the garbage collection agency dropped off my seized garbage can today at 1:55. My personal garbage can had already been placed out front for collection, and I wasn’t about to transfer all my trash from one can to the other.

So the pick-up team shows up at 1:58, and refuses to pick up my garbage because I did have one of their assigned containers, which we are in general required to use, but I hadn’t used it.

Are you kidding me?

I called customer service again, and thankfully, Heather answered my call. First, I apologized for directing my anger toward her the week before.  Then, because I knew the thread was being pulled, I (relatively calmly) told her I was even angrier today. That acknowledgment helped me keep it together with her.

If you think things got better after that, you are sadly mistaken, but I have already written too much about my garbage. Suffice to say, that garbage collection company is on my list.

AdobeStock_106268046 Young Woman Retro SmBut here’s the thing: I’ve been taking care of myself by getting enough sleep & exercise, as well as employing little tricks I’ve learned that help me keep my cool. I didn’t completely fall apart. I’m still feeling on the edge, but I just might make it.

It takes more than one pulled thread to make me unravel these days.


Unravel


Image Credits: (weaving) courtesy of Pixabay; (Retro Woman, Garbage Can, Retro Happy Woman) © Bigstock.

Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mental Confusion

Dealing with mental illness…tricky. And let me say here, I’m no expert. All of the information I’ve gathered below comes from my own research, both print and interviews of professionals. It is for general information only, is a bit simplistic, and should not be considered absolute.

AdobeStock_112894681 [Converted]Hopefully, however, it can lay a foundation of understanding.

It helps to understand just what mental health is, and how it differs from emotional health. Mental health is how your brain functions; processing information, forming opinions, making decisions, and using logic are all a part of mental health.

Emotional health is expressing your emotions in a manner appropriate to your age and other factors. Your mental health affects your emotional health when, for example, you’re too tired or stressed to properly assess a situation.

Now we get to mental illness. A mental illness is a recognized, medically diagnosable illness that affects one’s mental health. These illnesses can result from biological, developmental and/or psychosocial factors and can be managed in a manner similar to physical diseases (e.g. medications).

AdobeStock_100009763 [Converted] c geosapThere is a fuzzy area of poor mental well-being (this is not a medical term, just a convenient one) that perhaps is not medically a mental illness, but may still be treated with medication or other methods used for mental illness. This does not necessarily have an identified biological or physiological foundation, but is disruptive to one’s life.

Now someone with a mental illness can have good mental health. Why? Because some mental illnesses are episodic, or because they are under control with proper treatment. The people with the best mental health, in fact, arguably could be those who’ve faced serious issues with it and overcome them.

Not that the battle is ever fully won, as many mental illnesses are chronic. Treatment may need to be adjusted periodically for a number of reasons, for example, the effectiveness of medication is lessened with use, the medication develops undesirable side effects, or other factors not yet fully understood.

AdobeStock_118183105 [Converted]In all likelihood you know people dealing with mental illness, whether you can identify them or not.

If you think you might have a mental illness, see a professional for thorough testing. If you think you may be having problems such as depression or anxiety that are not the result of mental illness, but are affecting your job, relationships and sense of self, again, see a professional. Help is available. Don’t give up.

If anyone reading this has professional information to add, please do so in the comment section and I will note it in the post. Comments from the heart are welcome, too, of course.

All images © geosap – Fotolia

Resolutions and Revelations: Two Years Later

october-2016Two years ago today, I opened my WordPress account and posted my first post. The page was bare; I later added a small picture, but there were no graphics, no widgets, no header photo, nothing. Black words on a white page. I got three views and much later, one like.

It wasn’t until the following May I really put effort into this blog, and began the design you see now. I went through multiple headers and a few themes before landing here. I added the premium plan because I began to have ideas I couldn’t achieve with the free option (something I’m glad I did) and eventually started two more blogs, one for classic movie reviews (Classic for a Reason) and one for knitting.

But some things haven’t changed. My first post still rings with truth, although I’ve changed and grown in the two years since I wrote it. I was in pain that day, and you may be able to sense that when you read it. I’ve gotten past that pain, but the lessons still apply.

A large part of my growth has come through the process of writing about my experience, beliefs and dreams for the future. This blog doesn’t have a theme (one of topics, that is) like my other two do, and it’s likely to evolve over time. Just as I do.

So here’s the original post, just as I wrote it then. Many of you likely haven’t seen it, but I know some of you did when I re-posted it this day last year, and a handful of you perhaps read it the very first time.

Blessings to all of you!

resolutions and revelations

you bought me the book

I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.

My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.

Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.

So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.

I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.

It All Adds Up the Same

I’ve spent some time, not a lot, but some, imagining what my life would be like now if I’d made different decisions.

It happens most often at night, when I’m alone and not much is on TV, none of the books I have appeal to me and I simply cannot play one more game of solitaire on my phone. I sit and ponder. What makes me who I am? My experience, my heart, my intentions, my choices? I suppose all of it.

night-at-homeSome of my worst decisions have led to the greatest breakthroughs in personal growth. Would I be a better person if I had not done such a foolish thing? 

Or would I be making the same mistakes, leaving myself with a level of immaturity I can’t get past? Or is it those mistakes that led to the unwise behavior in the first place? How do our thoughts, actions, beliefs and fate all play together?

The consequences we face are sometimes unknown, unforeseeable. There are those seemingly small errors in our ways that lead to lifelong reminders of that one errant deed, and potentially catastrophic actions that pass by almost unnoticed…and we forget…until there is a gentle reminder, and we breathe a sigh of relief that it didn’t happen the way it could have.

There are those who face mental illness, and they sometimes make what seem to them like logical decisions based on misperception because of the way their brain functions. I’m not talking criminal behavior here, although that certainly does apply, but day to day actions that have an impact on happiness and quality of life.

whats-up-little-bugI could overanalyze this, because here’s the bottom line: as much fun as it is to watch a movie where someone is given a chance to go back in time and change the path of their life, that would be a huge gamble. What if I hadn’t married the man who betrayed me and married the one who got away instead? You probably don’t know the second man any better than you knew the first when you married him. It could have been an entirely different sort of disaster.

I am who I am. If it hadn’t been this mistake, it would have been another. I still would be me. And I’m okay with that.


Image Credits: © sapunkele — fotolia


Or