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BipolarLife101 Mental Health Blogs

BipolarLife101 Blogs

Bloggers from around the globe, discuss mental health issues facing people, friends, families and communities worldwide.

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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Friendship is a precious gift – maybe, too precious?

Just as I’m writing this, I have my ear-plugs on, not to hear any disturbing sounds from the outside. I need to be alone and to think better about me and others. I know what’s the right way to be. You just decide whether a person is good for you, if your interests coincide, if you have much in common, whether one fits your expectations, if one has a right character to be your friend. Instead of it I’m bothered that people stop talking to me. Worried if I did anything wrong. Promising myself that next time I’ll behave differently, maybe tell more jokes or more interesting stories. Getting obsessed to know whether I made a mistake, where it went wrong. Telling myself next time I won’t say a word about my illness. Never to cancel friends’ meetings because of psychosis. Never to say a word about me interested in psychiatry. Never to talk too much. Never to talk too little. Never to send interesting articles to friends – maybe, I just annoyed them. Never to express my life-views – I might have sounded a bore. Never, never, never.


I don’t really know how to behave to make people talk to me. They seem to only pretend to be friends. I have about five trusted friends, the rest are drifting away. Most people can’t accept me for who I am. They might start to induce me to give up meds. They might not want to see I’m sick. They might meet you and talk to you, then decide to be silent. They might block you from the start or they might abuse or troll you, in the worst case. I don’t find any empathy, when a person stops to talk and I’m left guilty, not realizing what went wrong. I feel sick and I need a friend’s shoulder, love and care. I need it more than normal people, but they treat me worse than those who are stable and mentally strong.


But I’m not strong. On my bad days I’m sure everyone hates me. They think I can only bring problems into their lives. And I’m sensitive. I often feel sympathy for people, while they shun me. I always think, maybe next time with a different person I won’t talk about my illness. But then it happens that people stop talking too. They tell me I’m insincere, that I’m telling lies, that I’m talking too little about myself. They start to suspect something. And they stop communicating to me too. They can’t understand that I had to invent a better life story to attract them. They stop talking anyway, whether I tell lies, or keep silent about myself, or tell the truth. It was the biggest problem for me, when I started to want to communicate, but was denied. It’s been only four years since I began to make friends. And all the more it hurts, that people deny my friendship, when it started to mean something for me. I value a good-hearted conversation and exchanging facts. I can be a good friend. But most of my acquaintances don’t value that. They need healthy friends. They need no extra worry.


Is friendship really a gift too precious for them and I’m not worthy? But how is it going to be, if they don’t accept me for who I am or have no empathy for me? How could they even start to be my friends, if the only thing they care about is if I don’t take antipsychotics?


In vain I ask myself, where’s their humanity and intelligence. They only care if I’m not dangerous for them. Then I start exploring my character and look for my flaws. I judge myself for any little negative thoughts, as if no one else has them except me. I start to think of myself as a potential murderer and a bad person, getting self-stigmatized. I doubt myself. I try to think what wrong I’ve done in life, that some peope want to drive me to suicide or talk among themselves “she didn’t hang herself yet”.


I see I’m not guilty and my life was quite happy and cheerful before the illness. People liked me for intelligence. Now it doesn’t matter. Now they dislike me for being sick. All my endeavours got lost, as I see people value only mental health. They turn away from me, but I feel every contempt, every hateful grin or remark. I’m not without feelings.


There’s no logical way out of it. Just to stop making new friends and stick to old ones. In times of distress I need trusted people to talk to. And making new friends brings so much disappointment and negative outlet, that I got very tired of it.

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Stigma and hate

Some may say I’m too choosy about normals. But most of all I hate stigma, not normal people. Am I really too bad? Wonder how do people feel when they “never have any evil thoughts at all”. They’re telling lies anyway. They have evil thoughts too. I know my thoughts and struggle with them, such people just do harm impulsively.


What’s depressing, there’re people I can’t joke or ironize with about dark things. They will think me bad and get aggressive. Not once or twice I encounted situations, when I was not understood right. I can’t be light-hearted with people anymore, afraid of making any “mistake”. My irony seems vain and lost on them, as I’m not normal and they “can expect anything bad” from me.


What’s more, if people treat me wrong, seems like I have no right to be angry anymore, since I got sick. Have to swallow all insults and never say a word? Looks like I can’t be myself anymore. Only to watch out not to make a bad impression. Is it my imagination or what? And the more sick I get, the more I get insulted and isolated. The more reasons to be angry about. So unfair.


I’ve been trying what I can to reduce stigma of mentall illness, at least in my surroundings. But have I gained anything? Best of my friends are still those mentally ill and fellow shrinks. Talking to normals, I can think a person is nice to me, and then suddenly he starts to say “meds make you not human”, “you’re too silly to study (haha)”, “you’re dangerous because you’re angry with me for things I did”. And it comes not from one person, but from five or ten. I’m a bit tired. They’re so typical. I really try to be friends with some of them, despite their notions and behaviour. But sometimes it’s impossible. I don’t believe anymore, that all people can be stigma-free. I know some really intelligent people can be cruel and uncomprehending. And life can’t be changed by twitter-shitting. It’s about the overall level of kindness, empathy and understanding.

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Backfired

Stumbled across such term as “backfire effect”. It clearly explained to me why people react the opposite way in comparison with how they should when they suddenly see evidence, for instance that life on Earth wasn’t created in seven days, or that mentally ill people are not all degraded freaks running with knives and killing neighbours. That’s why people never change opinions, and the stronger the facts are, the harder they hold on to their old beliefs. If we always have in mind backfire effect, how can we possibly convince people in evolution theory or in goodness of people with delusional disorder? Backfire effect just proves my suspicions that people don’t change opinions, no matter what facts they see, and even get more hateful if they see something good in you.

And I experimented a bit on several people. I took six of my friends and six people whom I knew not too well, but who were expected to be suspicious of me. I intentionally put some words about how dangerous I might be, and my friends never believed it, as they knew me well and proved me I’m just sick and need some help, can have aggressive thoughts due to illness, but they can’t say normals don’t have such thoughts too. While those who were not friends, even after me pursuing about my intelligence and reasonable mind, after hours of exchanging thoughts and seemingly happy conversations, continued to believe I’m dangerous and going to kill them.

It occurred to me, that when you’re with friends, you can say anything, make dark jokes and smile, be angry, be sad, be happy, and it won’t shatter their good opinion of you. And with other people it is different. You have to watch out for “mistakes”, and even if you don’t do them, you’ll be considered “bad”. Then I recalled I’ve been doing the same thing – trying to convince people I’m good – for years. At first, maybe four or five years ago, I was stubborn and hopeful and wanted to change the world. But now I got completely calm. If stigma is explained by psychology, it means more struggle and I have to gather more strength for it.

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