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Mental Health Blog by Ryan S.

Living life with a mental illness, however I get out of bed every morning and fight; I may not win every day, but I fight. I love helping others who battle mental illness along with family and friends who struggle to comprehend mental illness. I enjoy speaking to one or thousands of people using my own unique speaking method that provides an easy to understand look at mental health along with a bit of fun.

Those Days

We all have those days. Days where we have no energy, sadness provides us with a heavy heart, anxiety joins the party and depression, well depression can tear us apart at the seams. When living with a mental illness those days can seem like spending weeks in hell; all that comes in one relentless package of hopelessness. There have been plenty of those days where I have begged and prayed for the state of depression and anxiety to pass. Some days I’ve even had suicidal thoughts, I know many of us have.

So what do we do on those days? Some of us will just lie in bed, only getting up to use the bathroom or maybe to get a drink. Others may just sit and stare at the television, having no clue to what we’ve watched; this happens to be my favorite. Basically, we’re on cruise control and some of us may be in zombie mode; sound familiar.

Those days can seem like an extra twelve hours have been added. And no matter if it’s sunny and clear, you can be sure the weather report for those days, contains dark clouds and a nasty storm. That nasty storm will attempt to choke us with negative and depressive thoughts, squeezing us until we submit. A large percentage of us will not give in. But why don’t we?

Let’s face it. Coping skills and the tools we’ve learned over the years to help us for these exact times, sometimes just don’t seem to help on those days. So what gets us through those days? I had to think about the answer for a while, and then realized the answer was quite simple. Many of us don’t realize we have these two attributes or tend to think they have very little of them. But no matter how small the amount every human possesses strength and resilience, the perfect combination for those days.

Always remember that when you want to give in, dig just a little deeper and that strength will help you through. From the time when we were small children to our first breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend, our resilience has been there. Our resilience has carried us through all the tough times in our lives. So no matter how tough life gets. You have two friends that are going to help you fight and win the battle.

My name is Ryan, and I suffer from Bipolar Disorder along with severe depression and anxiety. I have plenty of those days, however, I am resilient, I have plenty of strength and I will never give in.

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My 80-20 Rule for Great Mental Health

 

Like many of you, there are periods of time where I had relentless battles with my mental health. During many of the battles, actually all of them, I would discuss, even at times begging my brain to put a stop to this onslaught of depression and anxiety. Suffering from a mental illness you never know what the day may bring. However, with support, coping skills, keeping yourself physically and mentally in shape, along with a mental health plan. You can have many more wonderful days than you do terrible days.


I created this simple plan, to help me have wonderful days and live life with my mental illness. I call it my 80-20 plan, and at first it was only something to keep me balanced. When I began explaining the plan to others who suffered from mental health issues, they started implementing the plan into their lives.
First, let’s discuss the 20% part of the plan. This part focuses on just your mental health, nothing else gets in here. Making and keeping appointments with your regular doctor, psychiatrist and your therapist. That’s a very important aspect of the 20% rule. Your doctors’ keep your medications regulated and can talk to you about events that are affecting your life, and more importantly, they can typically see when something’s not right and can help you make decisions concerning your mental health.


Above I mentioned that your doctors kept your medications regulated. You, however, are the one that needs to take medication as prescribed and preferably at the same time every day. Look, we have been to hell and back, and if taking a few pills keeps me out of that nightmare, it’s worth it. Also, there’s no magic pill that the pharmaceutical companies sell, so we need some more fire power in our battles with our mental health disorders.
Maybe you were hospitalized or in an outpatient program for your mental health and while you were there, you probably learned a handful of coping skills. They teach and prepare us for life and the world around us. I know my anxiety goes through the roof when I’m stuck in traffic or some jerk is being a complete asshole to a fast-food employee. There are so many external events that may affect us, and we’re all different so my coping skills may not work for you. That’s why an arsenal of coping skills such as breathing techniques, exercising, writing, walking, music, reading and so much more. You must develop an arsenal of coping skills and more importantly use them when the time comes. Trust me, a lot of people don’t use their coping skills and fall into a severe depression, with many returning to the hospital.


People in your support system are the people who can help you or just talk with you during a rough spot. Your support system can include friends, family members, doctors, pastors and others. Like your medications and coping skills, you have to use your support system in order for it to function properly.
Using all these components and keeping a daily routine, will help you live life, with you in control of your mental disorder. Now you need to take your mental illness seriously even if others around you don't. Now I'm not saying, worry and think about your mental illness 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yes, we need to take our mental health seriously, but it's essential that we live life, that we smile, laugh and enjoy time with friends and family members and even do things we've never done before. All the items I just mentioned are a part of the 80% plan, however, will get to that in a minute.


There's one item I need to talk about, taking your mental illness too seriously, I’m talking about to the extreme. I have known too many people that take their mental illness so seriously that they did more harm than good. Believe it or not, some people will watch a commercial on TV that talks about depression medication, and automatically they believe they need that medicine. Low and behold, their next visit to the doctor or psychiatrist they are asking for that medication. They'll also do the same thing if a friend tells them about a medication that they're now taking. The next thing you know this person is taking six, seven, even eight pills for their mental illness. When people take this much medication their hands start to shake, they nod off, they sleep most of the day, they may not eat, they may not exercise; actually, they may not do a damn thing.

More is not better, more can be somewhat dangerous!


You made it! Welcome to the 80% part of the plan. This part is really simple and worth every percentage point. Take good care of yourself physically and mentally, and the easiest way to explain the 80% part of the plan; go live life!

You’re thinking is that it? Yes. Have a great life with friends, family and all the new people who enter into your life. We didn’t forget how to enjoy life; our illness just helped us to walk away from life. So go have fun and enjoy life.

Smile……Laugh…….Live Life


A little footnote for you:
Now there are people who will say you can break it down a little more, 10% for this junk, and 25% for this crap. You ever notice when people, government and companies start adding more here, take some here; confusion can arise, and anger can show its ugly head. The 80-20 plan works and it’s effective, there is no reason to complicate or add parts to something that works just fine and then there’s this; it helps people who suffer from mental health issues, and I think that’s a good enough reason. Like the wise old salesman use to say, “Keep it simple.


 

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© Ryan Shiloh

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Daily Routine - ON or OFF

In mental health, we talk a lot about medications, therapist and many other treatments to assist us in our battle with mental illness. But what about keeping a daily routine?

While in the hospital and outpatient programs, I always noticed the routine we followed each day.  In the hospital you started with breakfast, medications and then got yourself ready for the day, shower, change your clothes and so on; many skipped this part. Classes and groups would begin and then lunch, in the afternoon, more groups and classes until dinner time. In the evening, there may be a group, then some television time or free time. Maybe some snacks, and then it was time to hit the rack. I can tell you some individuals never even got out of bed. My roommate stayed in the bed for three days. This young man worried me so much I would bring him water and cookies, and then he was discharged. Never did figure that situation out. One day a counselor talked to the group about routine and that having a daily routine can make your life easier, ease anxiety, stress and keep your mind at ease. I definitely needed a daily routine after the disastrous life I lived for years.

Then there's the day you leave the hospital and return to a world full of stigma, misconceptions and a world that really has no sympathy towards our mental illness. Friends and family, and your employer may all expect you to become "normal" again. Most of them will think this way. You were in the hospital and outpatient program for a month and are taking medications, you should be fixed. Makes you feel like  a car with a blown valve. All that talking and chatter in your ears can turn your world upside down again.

So why should we keep our life and thoughts organized? The two things you must do in order to get better and stay healthy. Worry about you and your mental health; even if that means you need to take time off from work. The second part is creating a daily routine and sticking with it. In no way do I mean do fifteen items a day, more like five or six. Too many items in your daily routine will lead to depression and his good friend anxiety.

So how do we go about making a daily routine? First keep it simple. We're getting healthy, were not super humans.  Here's how I kept my depression and anxiety in the garage. Again, I kept my routine very simple while keeping my mind and body healthy. Each morning I had some coffee and watched some television. Then I would work on my book, now that it's finished I work on bipolarlife101.com and chat or tweet on Twitter. At lunchtime, I would eat and then do the dishes and also clean up the kitchen and sometimes the bathroom. Exercise and a walk came next. This is essential, definitely exercise, it helps the body and the mind. After my walk I sometimes took a nap or did extra work around the house until my brother -in-law came home from work. We would sit on the front porch and talk with the neighbors or even play some soccer or football with the kids. After dinner, we may talk for a while and then usually I went back to work on the book or website, sometimes even downloaded music. A little television and then hit the rack for a good night's sleep.

Once you get a routine started, stay with it. Once I stopped my daily routine, my mind went into a whirlwind and I fell apart. Forgetting my medications here and there, led me right back to an outpatient program. Just to let you know, I’m racking up the outpatient program miles. The psychiatrist and the staff's conclusion, getting away from my everyday routine caused me to lose focus on my goals and my life. I opened the door for depression and his best friend anxiety, and they walked right in the back door. Since I was missing doses of my medications, I started another whirlwind of hell. Today I’m on track again. I love reading and responding on Twitter and just love writing. Tell my English teachers that I like writing and they will all pass out.

My thoughts, keep it simple, it's your time to shine, don't get upset at the stigma or misconceptions. This is your time to Smile…Laugh…Live Life

Your Daily Routines: ON

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© Ryan Shiloh

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They'll Never get Better

Support is a vital component in life.  It doesn’t matter your age, race, religion or if you have a mental illness, physical disability or you’re healthy as an ox; a term my grandma would often say. We all need support from family and friends at precise periods of our life.  We should be supportive to those who have helped us, and to someone we may barely know.  If you battle with mental illness, support from your therapist and psychiatrist typically isn’t enough.  For most, support from family members and friends is critical to our well-being. Now, there are many individuals who not only battle with their mental illness.  They have to battle stigma and misconception from the same family members and friends who give them no support.  Love ones should take the time to understand what you’re going through and learn from others, how you struggle and fight daily with your mental illness.  Learning and understanding will stop the stigma and in most instances open them up to listening, assisting their love one in getting through tough periods when your mental illness can knock you down, again, and again.

Below is an excerpt from my book “Welcome to My Our Hell”

Chapter 4: Understanding Mental Illness: Bricks and Sprinklers

During a group session at the outpatient program I attended, a woman talked about how her family wouldn’t listen to her when she attempted to explain her mental illness. They also had no desire or had not even attempted to understand her mental illness and created their own conclusions and misconceptions. Family members would call her a home body, and tell others that she prefers to stay in her dark, lonely bedroom, hiding from the world. She explained that among all the family members to add their two cents or hurtful comments, her dad’s comments and his unwillingness to accept her illness, devastated her emotionally and hurt her the most. I remember the sadness in her eyes, the tears rolling down her face, and she had the look of someone who had given up on life.

This not only hit home with me, but with almost everyone who suffers from a mental illness, has had the same issue with people not understanding or drawing their own conclusions about mental illness and continuing to build a wall of stigma. So I understood their frustration and that day in group session I not only understood this woman’s situation and frustration, but I could feel the emotional devastation she had suffered due to her family just giving up on her. I’ve had the same experiences with family and friends. Many of them would call me a home body and it drove me absolutely crazy. I’ve always enjoyed going out, doing activities with friends and family. But the truth was that my addiction to pain medication and the severity of my mental illness kept me a prisoner. All I wanted was to be left alone. I rarely made an appearance at a family event or function, and if I did make an appearance, my body was in attendance but not my mind. When I didn’t show up for events, friends, my kids and my wife would just tell people he’s having a bad day, his back is really bothering him. They were telling the truth and giving me exactly what I wanted; time to be left alone. I’m not sure how many times friends and family members, explained to people that I was having a bad day or made excuses for me; but it had to be a couple hundred times.

That’s just one of the many ways we drag our loved ones through hell with us. So when a friend or family member called me a home body during that period, they were just being honest. Now that I take my medications, use coping skills, and enjoy life every day, I haven’t heard the word homebody in a long time. I just wonder how many times my friends and family members thought, he’ll never get better.

I always wonder about certain individuals who had no support system, and others who lived alone. Does the statement, “they’ll never get better”, apply to most of them and will it be their outcome. I don’t believe it has to be. With increased government funding to mental health charities, and just not the big charities or the research groups. We need funding and donations to help smaller groups who are making a difference in the community, working with and providing opportunity to people with mental health disorders.

If you battle, anything can happen!

My son was around ten years old and there was one thing he really desired; a snake. Now I’m not a snake fan, however he did work around the house to make some money and my wife and I helped purchase the snake and glass aquarium and other items. To feed this young and growing snake, we had to purchase mice every week or whatever the correct eating schedule is for a snake. Now you have to flick the mouse with your finger or smack the mouse against the glass aquarium the snake live in. This stuns the mouse so they won’t bite the snake. One week my son had a stubborn mouse, my son beat that mouse all over his bedroom, and it never passed out or died. Until this day, I have no idea how that little mouse stayed alive. Finally, my son fed the snake another mouse and decided to kill the first mouse and throw it away. However, my daughter would have none of that and came to the rescue.

My daughter took the time to give support to this little mouse. This mouse, which should have been dead, and till this day, I’m not sure why he wasn’t. After a few days, that little mouse got up and started walking and eating; that’s when my daughter named the little mouse Miracle. About two weeks later, I heard a continuous sound coming from upstairs. I went upstairs and both the kids were sleeping, however the sound was coming from my daughter’s room. My daughter had bought Miracle a hamster wheel, and he was running on that wheel like there was no tomorrow. For the rest of his life, he ran on that wheel and gave great joy to my daughter; all due to the support of one little girl, who never gave up on that little mouse named Miracle.

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