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Superfoods for your Brain

We’ve all had days when we didn’t feel like we were ‘on our game.’ And as we age, both our bodies and our brains grow old as well.  By making smart food choices though, we can preserve our precious gray matter longer and improve brain function.  Here are some brainy choices for keeping our noggins in tip-top shape.

Blueberries have been shown to shield the brain from stress, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.   Research has also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills.  

Avocados, though considered a ‘fatty fruit,’ contribute to healthy blood flow and decreased blood pressure, lessening the chances of developing hypertension, which can lead to a stroke.

Deep-water fish, such as salmon is a wise, freshwater fish choice.  It’s abundant in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for healthy brain function.

Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, an important vitamin needed by your brain to stave off declining cognitive functions. Cashews, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower and sesame seeds and almonds are all great choices.  

Whole-grain breads, brown rice, and oatmeal also contribute to a healthy brain by reducing the risk for cardiac disease.  By promoting a healthy heart and improved blood flow, the brain is sure to thrive via excellent oxygen and nutrient delivery through the bloodstream.  Complex carbohydrates also supply the brain with a steady stream of glucose that enhances brain function. It's important to avoid simple carbohydrates often found in junk food because the glucose gives the brain a short-lived sugar high, often followed by a crash that makes you feel hungry and tired.

Freshly brewed tea also has potent antioxidants, especially the class known as catechines, which also promotes healthy blood flow. Since black teas do contain caffeine it’s important to use it sensibly. 

Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, which enhance focus and concentration, and encourages the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood.

Again, moderation is the key. But the right foods can lead to a happier and healthy life.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Are You Allowing Depression To Take Control Of You?

Feeling sad is very normal for human beings. You feel it when you break-up, lost a job or someone dies. After feeling down, you should soon recover from the sadness and move on with your life. Unfortunately not everyone can do this. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, people get sad for long periods of time. This is considered to be depression.

Depression is considered to be a psychological disorder that can be very harmful. Mild cases of depression would make a person cry for no reason and feel inconsolably sad. People, who have extreme depression, find themselves unable to function normally. They stay at home, do not sleep and even refuse to sleep. The worst depression is when you begin contemplating ending your life because you find no reason to be alive. “If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you need to seek immediate help at this very moment”.

Some women, after giving birth, feel depressed because of the enormity of their new responsibility and the sudden changes in their lives. In this case, the condition is referred to as post-partum depression. Other people prone to depression are those who have lost someone suddenly, those who have very poor coping mechanism and those who actually find pleasure in feeling depressed.

If you have been feeling sad for no reasons at all, you should speak with a professional to determine whether or not you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. A psychiatrist would be qualified to diagnose you and even prescribe ant-depressant if you require one. Many depressed patients, unfortunately, become addicted to the medication and find it difficult to feel better without the prescription drug. Basically this can increase your risks of being drug-dependent.

Other less harmful treatment involves hypnotism. The relatively new hypnotherapy works by targeting your subconscious and embedding anti-depression ideas. Since the subconscious actually dictates about 90 percent of the brain’s activity, it is not surprising that hypnotherapy has become effective in treating psychoses like phobias and addiction. Depending on the level of depression, a person can feel its effects after one to five sessions. The treatment is safer, less expensive and less probing.

For people who are depressed, you should first admit that you have the disorder for the treatments to be effective. You should also make sure that your commitment does not waver. Life is too short and too beautiful to be sad all the time. By getting help, you are giving yourself a new lease in life. It will also free you permanently from depression’s bad effects.

5 Reasons to not let Depression Control You Anymore!

Family – It can be very troublesome to love one’s when you are depressed. On one hand they want nothing but the best for you, but on the other they sometimes get frustrated and wonder why you can’t simply snap out of it. It can be particularly hard on children of someone with depression as it may affect their outlook on life for many years to come. Having experienced this myself, I can say definitely this is the number one reason to fight your depression.

Work - Work life generally suffers when in the depression has a control of you. It is more difficult to concentrate and not as easy to create and maintain good professional working relationships and partnerships. Furthermore, it makes being a “Self-starter” more unlikely. Rather than moving forward, maintaining the status-quo becomes more acceptable, even if only unconsciously.

Love – The love life of a person with depression can suffer tremendously. Regardless of how much someone may profess their dedication to another person, if the other person can never see the bright side, it can wear on them. Life is short, right? Love conquers A WHOLE LOT, but it doesn’t conquer everything. Sometimes we must add internal fortitude to love to truly be invincible. Besides isn’t it better to fight, not just for you, but for this person that you love as well?

Health – University studies have proven that people who are depressed are more likely to get sick, and more likely to die of an illness than those who are content. It is in your benefit, health wise, to fight your depression as well. A recent New York Times article, citing a University study, indicated that persons who have been diagnosed as depressed have more hospital visits, and a shorter lifespan.

Prosperity – The depressed person sometimes lacks clarity of thought, and may miss golden opportunities to improve their lives if only they had been paying attention. This may be, perhaps, the most important point, since many people believe they would be happier if only this part of their life or that part of their life, and so on was different. Allowing good things to happen in your life might just give you the jump start needed to end the cycle of depression and self imposed-isolation( even if only figuratively ).

Fighting depression can help your life in many ways. In some ways, the fight in itself is also a reward. You become stronger, do better at work, have better relationships, and can focus on what is really important in life so that you can improve it, for yourself, your family, friends, and loved ones.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Overcoming Addiction

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the reasons why addictions occur. Some believe that substances in themselves are not addictive, that it is the bodies chemical reaction to the substance to which the individual is addicted. This claim could certainly seem plausible when considering gambling or shopping addictions. There is no foreign chemical entering the body, rather that the body is creating its own chemical reaction (excitement/ adrenalin) in response to the external stimulus of gambling or shopping, and it is the feeling that the individual is addicted to, not the actual act itself.

It is also understandable that when one introduces chemicals to the body, chemical reactions occur. Some of these reactions stimulate reward centres within the brain which are triggered when a person exercises, falls in love or is praised or acknowledged.

Sometimes an addiction occurs when a person uses drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or even food, to alleviate stress and worry. In order to successfully treat these types of addiction, the person must focus on increasing their levels of self esteem so that they are able to create good feels about themselves without any need to have the feelings triggered by and external stimulus.

It is difficult to predict if one person is more likely to suffer from an addiction more than the next. Again, claims have been made that some suffer with an addictive personality. It is probably wiser to consider the social circumstances of addicts. For example, if your parents smoked, you are more likely to be yourself a smoker. If your friend take drugs, you are likely to be influenced by them. There are of course other factors. If a person is lacking in a structured life, or has experienced an over structured life, drugs can be a form of escape and detachment from a life which is perhaps, not entirely fulfilling.

Often, an addiction will increase in severity over time. This is because the body becomes regulated and used to the addictive chemical being in the body. To achieve the same level of stimulation, more of the addictive chemical is needed in the body. Many addictions can cause serious heath, social, physical and mental problems and when addictive substances are increased in a non- regulated environment, the consequences can be devastating.

Fortunately, changes can be made. Addicts do not necessarily need to be addicts for the rest of their lives. If the addict is willing and motivated to change, there are ways of easing and in some cases removing completely, the side effects when withdrawing from an addictive substance.

NLP can be used to help the client understand new perspectives about how the addiction has impacted on their lives. Techniques can be used to desensitize any negative associations from the past, and positive triggers can be installed for use when the cravings would normally occur.

Hypnosis can be used to remove habits and to create changes in the subconscious, the part of the mind responsible for creating and maintaining habits. Post hypnotic suggestions can be used to associate powerful negative feelings to the addictive act or substance, so that these powerful negative feelings are experienced in the future if ever then patient considers interacting with the addictive substance or act again.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Dealing with Child Anxiety takes more than just therapy

Children often go out and play --- activities that are normal for their physical, intellectual, and emotional development. They go to school, do homework, do some errands, and play again. They interact often with peers and are always on the go. In some cases, children get a chance to feel the surge of anxiety in and around their busy environment. Child anxiety often shows up in school events (like sport games or a science test), and even because of peer pressure. Although a little worry and a little sense of competition may boost a child's performance in school, a positive fact since anxiety is often considered a negative response to challenging situations or problems.

But experiencing child anxiety in ill-suited situations can cause the kids to be extra stressful and distracted. It is a known fact that children are easily scared of anything. From spiders, frogs, monsters under their beds, dogs, or to the dark, they feel this rush of anxiety that makes them extra alert. Anxiety, in this case for children, is likewise general in nature—constant alertness. But it is essential that there exists a balance of anxiety that would not intervene with their daily normal functions.

Unfavorably for some, children also have different child anxiety disorders. Sometimes, children feel worried about something, making them think that they may fail in some way or another. This is an example of generalized anxiety disorder. Excessive worry for children can be treated by sharing them definite thoughts and giving them inspirational words, giving them an opportunity to learn how to “self talk” in a positive way. Other disorders also include panic disorder, often caused by panic attacks due to either psychological or physical harm. Another would be seperation anxiety disorder, that is common in young children who are extremely attached to either parents or siblings. Social and other specific phobias are also implications for such disorder, and is focused on fear of things or certain situations. A child with selective mutism often generates a feel of being alone. They usually do not converse with anyone or participate in any social interaction (in school or at home). Another would be having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as a child, since it can also affect their way of living, and this specific disorder is mostly carried out through adulthood.

Coping with anxiety can be easy and effective if the method is proven to be safe and known by medical institutions. The support of parents is also important in effective treatment of serious emotional and psychological conditions. Other methods to manage stress in children include cognitive- behavioral therapy such as role playing, relaxation training, healthy thinking, exposure to positive and rational thoughts, and also family therapy --- which is acknowledged as one of the most effective ways for coping with anxiety.

Coping with anxiety in children takes time and effort from the therapists, doctors, and parents alike. Engaging them in proper social activities, helping them help themselves, and also praising them and constantly giving them gifts or goodies will give them more encouragement and support.

 Reference: ZIP Articles

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Coping with Stress and Anxiety among teens

Most people see the beginning of life once a baby is born. The process of human development slowly unfolds when that infant grows into a cute little toddler --- “learning the ropes” of speech, walking, eating, and playing. Parents, naturally, add Band-Aid and disinfectants to their grocery list as their children begin to take a more daring, active role at home and in play school. After a few years, that baby is expected to be ready for school. As any parent would say, time flies so fast and before they know it --- the little kid they used to take and fetch from the community kindergarten is now a young man or young lady in high school. In high school, these young people experience new things. They discover new emotions and ways of thinking. Naturally, they have to endure the awkward situation of no longer being kids yet still far from being adults. Most teenagers wonder how being a teen can be so fun yet to full of anxiety. And for most high schoolers, nothing can be more fun and anxiety-filled than have their first serious relationship.

Social and personal relationships are very important to teenagers. At the same time, relationships are among the top issues that cause the stress and anxiety. Problems in their relationships, made worse by their difficulties at home and in school, can sometimes be so serious that it affects their ability to be happy and well-adjusted individuals.

Given this situation, every teenager should somehow be taught how to cope with stress and anxiety --- especially if it's about a boy-girl situation. In a romantic relationship, it is but normal to have petty quarrels and even serious fights that could lead to a cool-off or a total break-up. For adults, these situations may seem to petty or even downright laughable. But for these teenagers, their relationship with their first boyfriend or first girlfriend really do mean the world to them. The newly discovered passion that is almost beyond control can consume most of the daytime thoughts of a teen with raging hormones. Episodes of romantic affirmation, jealousy, and self-doubt takes the teenager on an emotional roller coaster. But aside from love issues, teenagers are preoccupied with their need to have a sense of belonging...the frustration of “not being understood”...and the need to have their own self-identity.

For teens, is done through several ways. To get by through high school, these young people try different things to cope with their stress and anxiety. For the rebels, a beer bash and a night of partying would suffice. The alcohol, loud music, and dancing are considered good enough diversions or means of coping with anxiety. For the “straight A” students, more hours at the library may just do the trick. The books offer not only additional information they can incorporate into their essays and research papers. Books are also an excellent escape from all the stress and anxiety of being unpopular and branded as “geeks.” For the jocks, stress and anxiety are also inescapable facts during basketball championship season.

Being young and inexperienced, young people tend to see life not as a process of learning. The spirit-driven youth take each day as it is --- trying to stuff their entire life into 24 hours of laughter, adventure, and, yes, hours of self-grooming. But on those days that they find little to laugh about or very few things to be inspired about, teenagers are forced to look at themselves face-to-face in a mirror. They revel in the thought that they have outgrown those days when they were too dependent on their parents and elder siblings. Still, they grow apprehensive about what the future has in store for them.

Some who adjust well just accept the fact that adolescence is but part of natural human development. There is no escaping youth --- with all its joys and troubles. For those who have learned the art of coping with stress and anxiety, learning more about life is a truly exciting experience that is worth all the bruises and heartaches.

 Reference: ZIP Articles

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Recovery From Addictions, Part 5

In Part 1 of this series of articles, I defined substance and process addictions, and described the four major false beliefs that underlie most addictions:

1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.

In Parts 2,3 and 4, I explored in depth each of these false beliefs and how they contribute to addictive behavior. In this final part of this series, I address the way out of addictions.

Recovery from addictions is based on two major shifts in your thinking and behavior:

• Shifting your intention from avoiding responsibility for your feelings to learning about loving yourself. This means shifting from your wounded self/ego/mind having dominion over your choices to your loving Adult/spiritual Guidance having dominion over your choices.

• Learning to access your personal spiritual Guidance so that you can fill yourself with the unconditional love and compassion of Spirit rather than turning to addictions to fill the emptiness and take away the pain.

As long as getting love and avoiding pain is your highest priority, you will not be able to recover from your addictions. When you decide that being loving to yourself and others is your highest priority, you are on your way to healing from your addictive behavior.

Your intent is everything – it completely determines your actions and the resulting outcome.

If your intent is to get love and avoid pain in order to feel safe, you will continue to resort to addictive behaviors as a way of having control over getting love and avoiding pain.

When your intent is to be on the spiritual path of evolving in love and fully manifesting yourself, then you will bring the following Six-Step Inner Bonding® process into your life throughout the day.

1. You will stay tuned into your feelings throughout the day so that you know the minute you feel anything other than peace and joy. You will be present within your body to your feelings just as you would be present to the feelings of a baby.

2. You will immediately move into a compassionate intention to learn about what you are thinking or doing that is causing your distress – your anger, fear, anxiety, depression, hurt, guilt, shame, stress, emptiness, aloneness, loneliness, and so on. You will become a loving Adult by opening to your spiritual Guidance – the wise and loving presence that is always here for you - allowing that love and wisdom to come into your heart.

3. You will explore with your Inner Child – your feeling self – about what you are thinking, doing, or believing that is causing the distress. You will discover your false beliefs and your resulting unloving behavior that are causing your pain.

4. You will open to learning with your spiritual Guidance, asking “What is the truth about these beliefs?” and “What is the loving action?” You will allow the answers to these questions to come when they will, not trying to control the process.

5. You will take the loving action you are guided to take, which can take many different forms – from lovingly holding your Inner Child, to getting more exercise and eating better, to speaking your truth or moving into compassion with someone else.

6. You will evaluate your actions to see how you feel now. If you are not feeling better, you will seek another loving action until you feel peaceful within.

If you do these steps each time you feel any distress instead of turning to your habitual addictions, you will gradually move beyond addictive behavior.

You always have these two choices regarding your intent – to control or to learn. You – only you - are in charge of which of these you choose. If you do not consciously choose the intent to learn about loving yourself, you will unconsciously and automatically choose to try to have control over getting love and avoiding pain through your addictive behavior.

Choosing the intent to learn about loving yourself and practicing Inner Bonding® throughout the day is a powerful path to becoming addiction-free.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Recovery From Addictions, Part 4

In Part 1 of this series of articles, I defined substance and process addictions, and described the four major false beliefs that underlie most addictions:

1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.

Part 2 was about the first of these beliefs – learning how to handle pain. Part 3 addressed the second and third beliefs – “I am unworthy and unlovable” and “Others are my source of love.” This section, Part 4, explores the fourth belief, “I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.”

If I had to choose one false belief that causes the most pain for most people, it would be the belief that we can control how important people in our lives feel, think and behave.

In my work with individuals and couples dealing with addictive behavior, I encounter this belief and the many ramifications of it over and over. It seems very difficult for most people to accept the truth about their lack of control over others. The pain, frustration, loneliness and aloneness that result from not accepting your lack of control may be the underlying cause of your addictions.

Take a moment right now to reflect about what you think and do that is a direct result of this belief.

• Do you judge/shame yourself to try to get yourself to act “right” so that others will like you? If you do, you are operating from the false belief that you can control how others feel about you by how you act. You are also operating from the false belief that self-judgment will work to control your own behavior. Judging and shaming yourself can lead to addictive behavior to avoid the resulting pain.

• Do you act “loving” to others with the hope that others will act loving to you? If you do, you are operating from the false belief that your behavior controls others’ behavior. It is wonderful to be loving to others because you feel good when you are loving, but when you have an agenda attached of being loved back, then your “loving” is manipulative – you are giving to get. The hurt you feel when others don’t love you back can lead to addictive behavior.

• Do you get angry, judgmental and critical of others? If you do, then you are operating from the false belief that anger and judgment will have control over how others feel about you and treat you. You can certainly intimidate others into complying with your demands as long as they are willing to do so, but you cannot control how they feel about you. And they will comply only as long as they do. At some point they might leave, so ultimately you have no control over them. Your resulting stress may lead to addictive behavior.

• Do you give yourself up, going along with what another wants of you, such as making love when you don’t want to, or spending time in ways that you don’t want to? If you do, then you are operating from the false belief that giving yourself up will have control over how another feels about you and treats you. A loss of a sense of self can lead to addictive behavior.

• Do you withdraw from another or resist another’s requests? If you do, you are operating from the false belief that you can change/control another’s behavior toward you by punishing them through withholding love. The deadness of withdrawal can lead to addictive behavior.

In important relationships, most people do some or all of the above behaviors, resulting from the false belief that you can control how others feel, think and act.

If you really accepted the truth of your lack of control over others, what would you do differently? If you deeply, totally, completely accepted the truth of your lack of control over others feelings and behavior, you would be left with what you CAN control – yourself.

I have seen over and over that people finally take loving care of themselves only when they fully accept the truth of their lack of control over others. It is truly amazing the rapid progress the people I work with make when they finally accept this truth.

Shifting out of this one false belief and into the truth will go a long way toward healing your addictions.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Recovery From Addictions, Part 3

In Part 1 of this series of articles, I defined substance and process addictions, and described the four major false beliefs that underlie most addictions:

1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.

Part 2 was about the first of these beliefs – learning how to handle pain. This article addresses the second and third beliefs – “I am unworthy and unlovable” and “Others are my source of love.”

As small children, most of us decided that it was our fault when we didn’t get the love we needed. We decided that there must be something basically and intrinsically wrong with us that caused our parents or other caregivers to not love us or to abuse us. Since we were too small to give ourselves the love and attention we needed, we were naturally dependent upon others for our survival. Deciding it was our fault that we were not being loved gave us the feeling of control: we could change ourselves and become the “right” way in order to get the love we needed. We put aside our wonderful essence and developed our ego/wounded self to try to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. We went about trying to get the love we needed from others.

The problem is we became addicted to trying to get love from others and never learned that we can, as adults, access love directly from our Source.

Are you operating from the false belief that you can’t do this for yourself – that you can’t access the love you need directly from your Source? Do you believe that you are somehow defective and that the Source of love that is God will not come to fill you with love, peace and joy? Do you believe that you were born flawed and are therefore undeserving of receiving love from your Source? If you are operating from any of these false beliefs, then it is likely that you are still looking outside yourself for a dependable source of love.

If you could see love, you would see that we live in a universe of love – that it is all around you as well as within you. Your feeling self – your inner child – needs that love to survive and thrive. It is everywhere, yet your Child may be starving for love.

When you don’t know how to access the love that is always available to you, and you believe that it won’t be there for you anyway because you don’t deserve it, it is likely that you will turn to outside sources. You might use food as a substitute for love, or alcohol or drugs. You might use things – toys, clothes, objects – as substitutes for love. Or, you might think that another person needs to be your dependable source of love – that you need sex or attention or approval to fill the empty place within that needs love. You might sense that love exists within that other person, and you might believe that he or she has more ability to access love and bring it to you than you have. Many of the people I work with tell me that they cannot love themselves as well as someone else can, so they keep trying to get someone else to take responsibility for their feelings and needs. They keep trying to hand over their inner child to someone else, thus creating inner abandonment.

The inner abandonment that comes from using substances, things, activities or people as your source of love is the real source of your pain. As long as you are making something or someone outside yourself your dependable source of love, you will be creating - through your self-abandonment - the very pain you are trying so hard to avoid.

As children, our parents were supposed to bring us love from our Source. As adults, we are supposed to be doing this for ourselves. But when our parents didn’t show us how to do it for ourselves because they were not doing it for themselves or for us, we never learned how access our true Source of love. Without this access, you will remain stuck in your addictions, trying to fill the inner emptiness that can only be filled with love from your Source.

In the next section of this series, I will explore the ways you might be attempting to get others to fill you – coming from the false belief, “I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me,” and in the final section, I will show you how to access love from your Source.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Recovery From Addictions, Part 2

(This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on addiction).

In Part 1 of this series of articles, I defined substance and process addictions, and described the four major false beliefs that underlie most addictions:

1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.

This article addresses the first of these beliefs, and goes into the process of learning to manage your pain. Learning to manage pain is essential if you are going to move out of addictive behavior, since the intent of most addictive behavior is to avoid pain, coming from the belief that you cannot handle your pain.

Small children have few skills in managing pain. Parents are supposed to be there to help them with painful situations. Loving parents help children with pain by lovingly holding them, acknowledging their pain, hearing their pain, and soothing them in various ways, such “kissing it and making it better” when there is a cut or scrape, and being in compassion for difficult situations. Compassion toward a hurting child helps the child move through the pain and move on.

However, many adults had parents who, not only did not help them with their pain, but were the cause of the pain. When parents abandon children with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse or neglect, children are on their own regarding handling their pain. They are not receiving help and they have no role model for managing pain. When this is the case, addictions become the way to manage pain. Children learn early to eat, drink or take drugs to manage their pain. They learn early to numb out or act out with destructive or self-destructive behavior to avoid their pain. They may even learn to block out emotional pain by inflicting physical pain on themselves, such as cutting themselves.

In order to move beyond destructive and self-destructive behavior, you need to be in a process of developing a loving inner parent - a loving adult self - capable of giving your hurting inner child what he or she never received as you were growing up. The loving Adult is who we are when we are connected with a powerful spiritual source of love, strength and wisdom.

Your inner child is your feeling self. When you are experiencing the unbearable pain of rejection, loneliness, aloneness and abandonment and the unbearable terror of helplessness, it means that you are that child, with no inner adult to help you handle these terrible feelings. As an alone and terrified child, you will reach for whatever addiction has worked to sooth or block out the pain.

The reason the 12-Step programs have worked so well is because they help people to open to a spiritual source of strength. Without this source of strength, there is no way to manage the pain without the addictions.

We teach a Six-Step process, called Inner Bonding, which works very well along with the 12-Steps to help people in recovery from addictions. (See www.innerbonding.com for a free course). The key to recovery is to create a loving and powerful inner adult self, capable of connecting with a spiritual Source of love and compassion. The loving adult learns to bring to your hurting child all the love and compassion you didn’t receive as a child.

Love and compassion are not feelings that are generated from within the body. These feelings are the essence of what God/Higher Power is. God is love, compassion, peace, truth and joy. When you open to learning about what is loving to yourself, with a personal source of spiritual Guidance, you will begin to be able to bring through the love and compassion that you need.

Love and compassion is what you need when you are hurting. Substance and process addictions do not fill the place within that needs love and compassion. Addictions merely block out the pain of the inner abandonment you feel when you are not giving yourself the love and compassion you need. The needed love and compassion is not going to come from another person. No matter how much you wish that someone could give to you what you didn’t get as a child, it is not going to happen. You need to learn how to give it to yourself. When you do, you will be well on your way to recovery from your addictions.

Learning how to heal core shame and give yourself the love and compassion you need to recover from your addictions is the focus of the remaining articles in this series.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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Recovery From Addictions: Part 1

(This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on addiction)

Just about everyone in our society is addicted to something. Addictions can take many forms:

SUBSTANCE ADDICTIONS: addiction to alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription meds, caffeine, nicotine, food, sugar, carbohydrates.

PROCESS ADDICTIONS: addiction to love, connection, caretaking, anger, resistance, withdrawal, and to activities such as:

• TV
• Computer/internet 
• Busyness
• Gossiping
• Sports
• Exercise
• Sleep
• Work
• Making money
• Spending money
• Gambling
• Sex, masturbation, pornography
• Shopping
• Accumulating things
• Worry
• Obsessive thinking (ruminating)
• Self-criticism
• Talking a lot
• Talking on the telephone a lot
• Reading
• Gathering information (if only I know enough I will feel safe)
• Meditation
• Religion
• Crime
• Danger
• Cutting themselves
• Glamour, beautifying

We can use anything as a way of avoiding feelings and avoiding taking responsibility for our painful feelings. Whenever we engage in an activity with the intention of avoiding our feelings, we are using that activity as an addiction. We can watch TV to relax and enjoy our favorite programs, or we can watch TV to avoid our feelings. We can meditate to connect with Spirit and center ourselves, or we can meditate to bliss out and avoid responsibility for our feelings. We can read to enjoy and learn, or read to escape. Anything can be an addiction, depending upon our intention.

For example, when your intention is to take loving care of yourself and your work is something you really enjoy, then working is not being used as an addiction. But when the intent is to get approval or avoid painful feelings, then work is being used as an addiction. The same is true for most of the above behaviors – they can be addictions or not, depending upon your intent.

All of us have a wounded part of us – our wounded self or ego self – that has been programmed with many false beliefs through our growing-up years. There are four common false beliefs that underlie most addictions:

1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.

I CAN’T HANDLE MY PAIN

While this was true when we were small, it is not true as adults, yet many people operate as if it is true. When you believe that you are incapable of handling pain – especially the deep pain of loneliness and helplessness – then you will find many addictive ways to avoid feeling your pain. All of us are capable of learning how to manage painful feelings in ways that support our highest good, rather behaving in addictive ways that hurt us.

Anything you do to avoid taking responsibility for managing your pain is self-abandonment, which creates even more pain - the deep pain of aloneness. Whether you abandon yourself to substances, processes or people, your inner child – which is your feeling self - will feel abandoned by your choice to avoid responsibility for your feelings. If you had an actual child who was in pain, and you got drunk instead of being there for that child, he or she would be in even more pain from the abandonment. It is exactly the same on the inner level. Addictive behavior is an abandonment of self and causes the very pain you are trying to avoid.

I AM UNWORTHY AND UNLOVABLE

When you did not receive the love you needed as a small child, you might have concluded that the reason you were not loved was because you were bad, flawed, defective, unworthy, unlovable, or unimportant. This is core shame – the false belief that there is essentially something wrong with you. When you adopt this belief, you become cut off from your Source, believing that you are unworthy of being loved by a Higher Power.

OTHERS ARE MY SOURCE OF LOVE

You will become addicted to attention, approval, love, sex, or connection when you believe that another person needs to be your dependable source of love. In this case, you will be abandoning your inner child to another person, which causes as much pain as abandoning yourself to a substance. Until you learn to tap into a Higher Power as your source of love, you will continue to be addicted to people as your source of love.

I CAN HAVE CONTROL OVER HOW OTHERS FEEL ABOUT ME AND TREAT ME

If you believe you can control others’ feelings and behavior, you will become addicted to various ways of trying to control, such as anger, judgment, blame, or people-pleasing. When you believe you can’t handle your pain and that others are your source of love, then you want control over getting that love. This is the cause of the codependency that underlies most relationship problems.

There is a way to heal from addictions. The rest of the articles in this series will address the process of recovery from addictions.

Reference: ZIP Articles

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An Overview of Depression

Every year approximately 9.5 percent of the American population suffers from depression. Depression is a grave illness that affects day to day life and destroys families. It is a disorder that controls the mind and its functions causing loss of appetite, sleeplessness, mood swings, and a deep sense of despair. 

The symptoms of depression are varied and the severity changes with time. And, according to experts depression can be an inherited disorder, or caused by life threatening illnesses, or stress. Other causes are certain diseases, medicines, drugs, alcohol, or mental illnesses. Women are seen to experience depression more than men and this is attributed to hormonal swings, menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, pre-menopause, and post-menopause.

Common symptoms are:

1. An unshakeable sadness, anxiety, or emptiness.

2. Overwhelming hopelessness accompanied by pessimistic feelings.

3. Extreme guilt, feelings of helplessness, and no sense of self worth.

4. Loss of energy, a slowing down of metabolism, and activity levels. Being plagued by constant fatigue.

5. A sense of helplessness along with an increasing inability to focus and indecisiveness.

6. Loss of sound sleep and development of extreme insomnia.

7. Inexplicable weight loss or weight gain. Triggered by loss of appetite or eating binges.

8. Brooding and suicidal inclinations.

9. Irritability, short temper, as well as restlessness.

10. Physical afflictions like headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain for no particular reason.

If you experience any of the above along with a marked change in behavior do consult your doctor. He will give you a thorough examination to rule out physical causes for depression as well as any underlying medical problems. Then if required he will recommend that you consult a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Take matters in hand and try and erase negativity from your mind. Cut out from you life terms like exhaustion, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Change your life by setting yourself a few goals. Try and relax, meditate, and enjoy music. Start new activities that absorb your time as well as interests. Go out and meet people and participate in group activities. Avoid the company of negative people. Make up your mind to enjoy a movie, ballgame, family outing, picnic, or trek. Be positive, self confident, and have faith in yourself. Faith is itself a great healer. Decide to change your world for the better. However do follow the doctor’s advice. Treatment can include: anti-depressant medicines, psychotherapy, as well as lifestyle changes. In extreme cases electroconvulsive therapy or light therapy are prescribed.

If your depression escalates or you are suicidal seek help from your family physician or health care provider. Do call a local health department, a community mental health center, or hospital or clinic. Someone will extend a helping hand and talk you through the crisis.

Types Of Depression

As any doctor or mental health specialist will tell you there are different types of depression. Each of these depression types will manifest themselves in the person in completely different forms. Currently there are some well documented types of depression that various people in the world are afflicted with. Also each of the depression disorders can have similar and different symptoms.

Since each of the depression types vary the severity of their symptoms and the level of persistence can be different for each sufferer. The main types of depression are Major or Unipolar Depression, Chronic or Dysthymia depression, and Manic or Bipolar Depression. Besides the main depression types there are subdivisions of these disorders. As the different types of depression have a completely different effect on each person, the method of treatment must also be individualized.

With Major depression the symptoms are the same as depression, they are however more intense than normal depression symptoms. These symptoms will interfere with the daily activities of the individual. The work, study, eating and sleep patterns can become disturbed. The person will not be able derive any pleasure from their earlier activities. The depressive attacks of Major depression can be debilitating and the quality of life becomes noticeably poorer.

In Major depression the episodes can be either single occurring or recurring. A single occurring episode will vanish after the treatment has taken effect. For a recurring Major depression there will be a phase of Major depression followed by depression. These bouts of depression are followed by perhaps several years of normal depression free life. The attacks can then occur without any warning.

Chronic depression is less severe than either Major depression or Bipolar depression. The symptoms are life long. A person who has Chronic depression can still carry out their lives without any interference from the symptoms. There is a strong possibility of double depression occurring to the individual. Double depression is a mixture of Chronic depression and Major depression.

Bipolar depression is not as common as the other types of depression. The mood swings of this depression are cyclic. That is there are periods of euphoric highs and sad, worthless lows. There are times when the mood changes can be very rapid and dramatic. The symptoms of Bipolar depression include being overactive, having lots of boundless energy, loss of good judgment, feeling invincible amongst others.

All of the depression types have different ways of reacting with different individuals. Each of these depression symptoms need to receive the right sort of treatment. Therefore you should consult a doctor to have your depression diagnosed and treatment begun.

Understanding Depression

Everyone can agree on the fact that depression is a debilitating disease. What we can’t all seem to agree on however, is what this disease does to a person’s ability to think reason and perceive. The problem in coming to an agreement here lies in the many causes and physical reactions to depression.

Common cause of depression include biochemical factors, severs stress, a sense of hopelessness, lack of sunlight and illogical thinking. The biochemical factors and sunlight are physical and environmental conditions that can be corrected with prescribed drugs or light exposure. What however can a person do about stress and feelings of hopelessness, and are these conditions causes of depression or symptoms of depression. It is within the confines of the medical profession that conversations such as this have raged for years.

Some researchers believe that stress and feelings of overwhelming hopelessness are the causes of depression, while others believe they are symptoms of depression. Research conducted supports both conclusions. Further studies have supported lent even more support to the evidence that stress, changes in expectancies, and irrational or hopeless thoughts are a result of depression, not a cause.

But what effect does depression have on our ability to think and reason? Do all our thoughts become illogical and negative? Not all depressed persons experience the same changes in their thoughts, but do all depressed persons experience some change in the thought process? Questions such as these are hotly debated even now, with all the wealth of information available to scientists and doctors. The brain is such a complex machine, that understanding of the processes and the ability to relate certain processes to the application of the masses is slow to come.

In general the depressed person sees the cup as half empty, not half full. That’s not to say that some of the population, without any evidence of depression will still see the cup as half empty. Can you see the difficulty of the situation here? There are many symptoms of depression that exist even within the thoughts of people with no evidence of depression. How do scientists and doctors distinguish, for the purpose of setting clear guidelines? I don’t believe they can.

I believe our thought process is like a fingerprint. Everyone’s is different in some way. No two people will be the same in their thoughts, or in their ability to act on those thoughts. Treatments for illogical and depressed thoughts will always be a tailor-made situation.

Are You Allowing Depression To Take Control Of You?

Feeling sad is very normal for human beings. You feel it when you break-up, lost a job or someone dies. After feeling down, you should soon recover from the sadness and move on with your life. Unfortunately not everyone can do this. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, people get sad for long periods of time. This is considered to be depression.

Depression is considered to be a psychological disorder that can be very harmful. Mild cases of depression would make a person cry for no reason and feel inconsolably sad. People, who have extreme depression, find themselves unable to function normally. They stay at home, do not sleep and even refuse to sleep. The worst depression is when you begin contemplating ending your life because you find no reason to be alive.

Some women, after giving birth, feel depressed because of the enormity of their new responsibility and the sudden changes in their lives. In this case, the condition is referred to as post-partum depression. Other people prone to depression are those who have lost someone suddenly, those who have very poor coping mechanism and those who actually find pleasure in feeling depressed.

If you have been feeling sad for no reasons at all, you should speak with a professional to determine whether or not you have an obsessive compulsive disorder. A psychiatrist would be qualified to diagnose you and even prescribe ant-depressant if you require one. Many depressed patients, unfortunately, become addicted to the medication and find it difficult to feel better without the prescription drug. Basically this can increase your risks of being drug-dependent.

Other less harmful treatment involves hypnotism. The relatively new hypnotherapy works by targeting your subconscious and embedding anti-depression ideas. Since the subconscious actually dictates about 90 percent of the brain’s activity, it is not surprising that hypnotherapy has become effective in treating psychoses like phobias and addiction. Depending on the level of depression, a person can feel its effects after one to five sessions. The treatment is safer, less expensive and less probing.

For people who are depressed, you should first admit that you have the disorder for the treatments to be effective. You should also make sure that your commitment does not waver. Life is too short and too beautiful to be sad all the time. By getting help, you are giving yourself a new lease in life. It will also free you permanently from depression’s bad effects.

The Ups And Downs Of Depression

Clinical depression is known to impact the lives of one out of every six people in their lifetime. But the sad reality is that the medical community still does not entirely understand exactly what causes depression to occur in one person and not in another.

Yes, we do know that depression is hereditary.

Depression can often be found to run throughout the generations of the same family invading the DNA molecules which make up a particular family’s genes. This causes the family members to be more susceptible to depression.

However, there is another school of thought that says perhaps the real reason we see depression run in families is that it is also environmental in that it all depends on how the children are raised. If they see the affects of depression encroaching on the lives of their family and they see the results then they will learn to deal with life the very same way.

Even though we are quite clear that depression runs in families, depression is also seen in those without any family history. Stress resulting from a variety of issues, trauma, or even prescription medications or illegal drugs have all been known to cause depression.

Riding the ups and downs of depression can leave you even more exhausted that the last wave of depression you faced. Depression is known to run in cycles. You may feel completely fine one day and the next day you may be completely and utterly unable to get yourself out of the bed and out of your night clothes. The dramatic ranges of emotions are well documented in cases of depression.

Many healthcare providers and scientist alike believe that many suffering with depression manifest a chemical imbalance of Norepinephrine and Serotonin which are the feel good neurotransmitters found in the central nervous system and in the brain.

These neurotransmitters work to help control feelings of happiness and well being. The neurotransmitter Norepinephrine is thought to be a stress hormone; while Serotonin is thought to control hunger, overall moods, sleep and sexual feelings.
When these chemicals get out of whack they are thought to cause depression.

So if you think about it, when these neurotransmitters are out of balance it only makes sense that the roller coaster ride of depression would result. As these levels of these chemical rises and falls thereto go the emotions and feelings associated with them.

The real question is why do some people experience peaks and valleys with their chemical make up while others seem to be more stable. Again, it begs the question is it really the environment in which you were raised or is it truly the ebb and flow of the neurotransmitters that alter feelings causing the dramatic impact of depression.

Do you mirror your family because that is all you know how to do, it is the only way you know to respond or is it that you are genetically and chemically bound to your family and because of that simply have no choice of being impacted by depression.

We need more research and time to study this issue before there is a definitive answer. What we do know is that regardless of the reason why, we do know that depression tends to run in families and if you have a family member that has dealt with the issue then you should be aware of the possibility that you too could be fighting the same battle one day.

Be aware, seek help early and learn what you can do in order to prevent depression before it takes control of your life.

Living with Depression

Depression is a psychological, biological and environmental problem that has affected millions of people, both directly and indirectly. People suffering with depression often have difficulty functioning normally, and frequently experience problems in their everyday lives as a result. The emotional toll of depression can shatter families; result in a loss of employment and in some occasions end in suicide. While there is no cure for depression, treatment options are available that can help sufferers of depression lead normal, happy lives.

Depression changes the way in which a person is able to think, feel and view the world around them. These changes produce adverse effects on behavior directed towards others and towards one's self. If a person experiences feelings of sadness or malaise which continue over a long period of time, it is likely that he or she suffers from some form of depression. Recognizing the symptoms of depression is the first step toward recovery. Those who feel they may have depression should consult their physician.

Once a diagnosis has been made and a treatment program initiated, the next step is to recognize the effect that depression has on the mental processes that govern one's behavior. Understanding the mechanisms of depression can help people who are coping with this often debilitating illness. Of the treatment options available today, all involve either talk therapy, medication or a combination of both. It may take several weeks or even months before a treatment plan can produce any obvious positive results. During this time, having an understanding of the nature of this illness can be highly beneficial. Realizing that depression is a treatable affliction can promote rational thinking and a diminished emotional response toward the symptomology of this unfortunate condition.

There are several resources available on the Internet which can help sufferers recognize the symptoms of depression and give advice on how to cope with it once a treatment plan has been established. Through treatment, understanding and the support of others, living with depression can be made substantially less difficult. Many who have suffered from depression go on to lead healthy, productive lives.

Tips To Beating Depression

Everyone has days when they are down, worn out and just not feeling all that happy.

That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad. Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. You can also call Hotline numbers.

 

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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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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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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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Self Care with Bipolar

Self Care with Bipolar

Taking care of yourself enriches your life and attracts better, more stable people. 

These past few months have been a struggle for me. In August the mysterious pain in my hip developed and it clearly is here to stay. The first hospital trip didn't give me any reasons on to what happened or even a direction to look in. I was prescribed a steroid (prednisone) for the month of October and other than the terrible side effects, the pain was lessened.  On halloween, I got in a car accident which triggered the pain to return. I went to see a doctor and he prescribed me a very potent anti- inflammatory that has helped with the pain quite a bit.

I have lived with bipolar disorder since I was 13 years old and I was just beginning to understand the illness. Now I have to learn how to handle my physical pain as well. I have been able to be in contact with my professors which has helped with understanding my situation but I still need to learn how to live with this. The only other example I know is my father, who lived with chronic pain for 25 years before he passed away. He never took care of himself nor was he energetic enough to make a difference. I certainly do not want to live that way.

While in school, self care has been addressed a lot because of the profession we are pursuing. It will be almost impossible to reach out and help a youth without first addressing your flaws to learn and overcome them. Currently I am working on a project that goes into detail of my childhood and how I was raised, it has been interesting. During these homework sessions, I become overwhelmed with how much shit I've gone through and the things I will never get to say, especially to my dad, because the opportunity is gone. This has been especially difficult.

Some self care methods I have are:

  • Taking a bath/shower with music playing
  • Reading a book/listening to an audio book
  • Cloud watching
  • Taking a walk/exercising 
  • Playing a video game
  • Writing down how you feel
  • Meditate and breathing exercises 
  • REPEAT


The last one is key. Self care is not a one time fix all. That would be like going to a dentist and walking out saying "I'll never have to brush my teeth again!" I know how hard it is to think of yourself first because of low self esteem but putting yourself on the back burner is not healthy for you or your relationships. Remember, all you have is yourself- so take care of you.

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© Jenna White

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Is there life on meds?

 

I've come to encounter a very strange view on a mental illness. For instance, people who know I'm taking meds from schizophrenia, saw me improving and told me "you are healthy again, you can do anything", "you will stop taking meds, as your life gets better". When I answered I'm not healthy at all and I'm still having symptoms, they were surprised. As if I became relatively healthy without any medication, by my own efforts. I told them I might need to take meds all of my life, and they answered: "so you're mad! and silly!" As if before, praising my improvement and efforts, they forgot it's all from meds and then suddenly it dawned on them.

Another time, a friend wanted to change me very much, and one of his requirements for me was to take up some study and to stop taking meds. I'm quite despaired when it comes to studying something now. I have my skills in the fields I studied before, but it's hard to remember anything new now. I may understand a lot when I study something, but I forget easily. So the inadequacy of requirements made me desperate.

Giving up meds was the most outrageous of them. I wouldn't give up meds even if they offered money to me. I know this romantic mood, when I thought I was "strong enough" and can control everything in my brain. I gave up meds and was disappointed. Two times I got into a hospital with paranoia and the third time I hardly escaped it. Things seemed to be neat and clear while I had been taking meds. No paranoia bothered me. Rare doubts and suicidal thoughts were dealt with. But as I stopped taking meds, everything was gradually coming to the worst state. People were after me, suicidal thoughts were consuming me, paranoia and mixed emotions were tormenting my brain... There was an illusion of superpower over my mind that meds gave me. I thought myself strong enough to control my brain and I almost believed I'd give up mes and my illness would be over. But it had never happened. No one is strong enough to go against one's own brain. There're few things people are able to control in their bodies.

My friends' points of view had a touch of antiscientific notions. But even relatively intelligent, atheistic people live in illusions they're able to control themselves completely and those who can't - are bad and unworthy.

If you're told you won't be someone's friend till you give up meds, what do they think they're going to get as a result - me in the hospital? I just told them to fuck off. And the other's point of view was: "you are going to take meds for life - so you're a goner, you're getting ready for the residential home".

Can they really be so stupid? They don't say so to people with diabetes or else. Where do they get such notions? And what about some people with schizophrenia working and leading normal lifes on meds? I know some people thinking the same way as normals, they don't take meds and live absorbed in their mad theories and delusions. I also know those who don't get much result from meds, and are deep into their paranoid theories all the same, only high doses of drugs make them a bit out of it. But I also know people for whom meds work out fine, at least for some symptomes, like paranoia, suicidal thoughts or tiredness. And I know several people who gave up meds and are not in this world anymore. They suicided.

We don't get stronger by giving up meds. Symptoms remain as well as the chemical inbalance and changes in the brain. Not all peopel are lucky to recover from schizophrenia. We're not superhuman beings and we can't cope with real illness by words and thoughts. Such views are dangerous for people themselves. Most of them don't experience a mental illness, but if they do, they're stubborn and risk their lives trying to cope themselves. I was that way too. It's even worse when antipsychiatric views come from normal people. It seems so cynical to let people live without medication and see what happens to them! Times of lobotomia and insuline coma are gone, the positives of modern meds are lots more than negative effects, new researches give hope for evolving in this sphere, and still intelligent people don't take the time to explore it and shape their views on facts, they shape their views on their own judgement. Their points of view is created with the help of horror movies and news headlines like "a psycho kills three people". Even though the real danger from mentally ill people is rather low, due to statistics, normals don't go into objective consideration. If one normal person commits a murder, we don't consider all normal people to be fulltime killers. But if one insane person kills someone, they forget about tens of thousands of innocent mentally ill people. Normals don't care for rational views on the mentally ill, they care for bright headlines and pathetic horror movies. Those who make science move forward and those who help patients and promote healthy views - are much less heard in the society.

I'd actually had more pity for a psycho who killed someone in a fit of madness, than to a normal murderer who killed in cold blood and with good consideration. He was conscious, so he is responsible. Consciousness is not a synonym of kindness. Sadly, fully conscious people promote cruel views that shape opinions and change lives of millions of mentally ill people to the worst. Stigma surrounds us everywhere. Why should I feel guilty in taking meds for my illness and to think, "oh, he wouldn't give up on me if I didn't take meds"? It seems some people like my intelligence, but not the way I attained part of it. They think it's "artificial" to be on meds. I'd say it's artificial to take any meds, and those who care only for absolutely healthy people, are not worthy themselves. I care for a person, no matter if one is physically or mentally ill. The person matters, not the illness.

 

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© Elena Grebennikova

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Childhood dreams

I remember myself from the age of four. We were standing near the house of my mother's friend and chatting with her daughter. We were wearing the same caps. Then I actually don't remember much. I knew we had long walks with my mother and father, went fishing and mushrooming, swimming and visiting our datcha, but it's vague. I only know I had a good childhood and I was happy. At five I started to read and my father showed me how to play chess. These two things were always the best in my life.

When I was eight, I went to school. There life wasn't so cheerful. Pupils bullied me. I didn't want to talk to them. Was afraid of teachers too, so I could hardly answer their questions. Only in writing I could do well. I always wrote good essays at school. At home I was studying chess and reading a lot of books. Started from fairy-tales, I soon got to more serious literature, and it was my main joy. I hardly ever socialized. I never had any friends at school. I was just sitting and reading books for hours. I met people in books. I was writing short stories and poems from the age of seven.

I had been going to the art school for seven years. I actually wanted to attend music school, but had no money for instrument. Music was always the most beautiful thing in my life. No one bulled me there, but still I couldn't manage to make any friends. I was always alone, drawing some pictures in my corner. When I was thirteen, my granny, a biology teacher, gave me some books among which was Brehm's Life of Animals. It determined my interest for biology. I started to grow fishes and snails at home, dreaming to create a new gorgeous sort of guppies. At thirteen I started to have notions that God is watching me everywhere and that there’re cameras somewhere in my room.

The problems at school started about at the age of thirteen too. I was so afraid I couldn't go to answer teachers questions in front of the whole class. Pupils laughed at me. When I was at home, I could hardly remember the things we had to learn by heart or paraphrase. I was so afraid to go to school I sometimes went for a walk instead of lessons. I was horrified a teacher might ask me and I couldn't recall anything. Often teachers asked me if I study at home at all. They didn't believe I was tediously preparing for every lesson. Once I got so exhausted by preparing for exams, I felt unable to do anything. I was just sitting on the bed and sorting out some ribbons for hours.

Pupils bullied me or ignored, as I wasn't able to talk to them. And they thought me silly. I got some good grades for subjects I liked most and those that didn't require learning things by heart. When I was fifteen, a chess club was opened in our little town, and I went there to get acquainted to lots of nice and intelligent people and to attend tournaments. Also I continued to write poems. At the age of sixteen I started to have strange notions. I started to have severe insomnia from seventeen, was prescribed meds, but they were too sleepy, and I gave it up. So it became typical of me to go to bed at 3am. At that time I was only good at math, literature, English and biology at school. It restricted my choice for further education. I entered a good university not far from my town to become an English teacher. It saved money too.

 

At university things got a little better. I started to have some kind of memory. I was getting ready for examinations, I learned how to remember things for a day or two. Then everything was erased from my memory. But I managed to pass exams well. Sometimes things got shown when I was passing some psychology tests. I was avoiding public speeches. Teachers suspected something. Sometimes I was not very logical when writing my papers. But that was all. Things changed when I was twenty two. My father got sick with cancer and died in a year. At that time I became paranoid and started to think people were after me on the Internet. I suspected lots of people to chase me. It went on for about three years, till I finally had a psychosis with voices and was sectioned. I had to give up chess from tiredness and memory lapses, and I've not been playing for three years already. Had to give up some good jobs too. Now looking back at all this, I see I might have been ill since childhood and was struggling all the time to be "not worse" than others, though it took all my energy. I couldn't manage to keep sane, but at least I managed to grow into a person. I managed not to do much harm in my life and be intelligent enough. I gained some good friends when I started to take meds. Meds made me socialize more. Life wasn't perfect, but I had some joy, and it's still not over. Pages of my life aren't counted yet.

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© Elena Grebennikova

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Stigma is never right

From my experience with bullies, some people managed to tell me I'm a "wrong" schizophrenic, as I haven't killed myself or someone else yet. I thought normal life is an achievement, and suicide or homicide can hardly be a good aim in life.

Never thought there'll ever come a time when I'll be struggling for sympathy among people thinking me a living nightmare. Always thought that being intelligent gets you acquaintances easily. I got used to be valued and respected, and not used to be humiliated just for being sick. So for me it seems like a big step to tag my twitter profile with #schizophrenia and to show my real name. I haven't got nothing but sympathy here in five years, so I decided it's alright.

I know some of my friends who have schizophrenia avoid talking about it online. And all shrinks tell me it's the right way to conceal things. So when I started this blog, I thought it to be just a secluded place to vent my thoughts. But I always felt it's so wrong that I should be trembling at the thought anyone can get to know my real name or shuddering at learning that another person blocked me or stopped talking when he/she learned something about me. It's not how life should be arranged. People shouldn't be obliged to hide their problems that may lead to suicide or just death if they give up meds.

I see so many people with cancer, depression, bipolar disorder and other illnesses expressing their views freely and getting some kind of relief from it. Schizophrenia shouldn't be a taboo. I know there're so many people suffering silently, not able to talk about illness openly. Some write from anonymous accounts on forums etc. It seems so unfair that those who are most vulnerable should defend from bullies.

I know what usually happens after disclosing illness. People either block you or see you as a punching clown. If no one will be doing anything about it, how is it going to change? They treat you like you should be thankful you aren't euthanized, and even if they tolerate those who conceal illness and cope well, but they're merciless to those who can't cope. Though everyone accepts cancer and other serious diseases as nothing to be ashamed of. If there were more people with schizophrenia "coming out from the shade", it might have changed that attitude.

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© Elena Grebennikova

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Frozen in Fear

P.T.S.D is like facing the evil eyes of the past and being frozen in place, all over again. 

I have experienced a lot of trauma in my short years of being alive: parental, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, drug addictions, depression and suicidality.  There is one more thing that has shaped me in the wrong way: violation. 

The other day while I was putting clothes away in my bedroom, I thought I heard a noise out of my window and I froze. I was like a deer in the headlights, caught in my tracks of yesteryears fear. I escaped my bedroom quickly and went into the windowless bathroom and focused on my breathing. Just like that, I was thrown into a pit of dark memories I wish I forgot. 

I ended up putting all the blinds down and made my house impenetrable to onlookers. I put all of my chaotic emotions into a poem to express how I felt and what happened (brandnewbipolar.com/poetry/violated). I hadn't thought about those fear stricken moments for years. It caught me entirely off guard. 


I was able to use breathing exercises and self care tools to get through the flashback but it is on my mind constantly. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the next few days due to another traumatic event that occurred a few years ago today.  I'm alone in the house with the animals until I pick C up from work; I hope the animals are enough to keep me sane.

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© Jenna White

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Silly? Lazy? Sponger?

Was ruminating what I could have done or who I could have been if not my illness. The worst thing is that I can't organize myself and things when dealing with people. Managing interactions at work was impossible. Though I wouldn't mind better memory too. Without memory lapses and forgetfulness. But it doesn't depend on me. I try to develop memory as much as I can.

Seems constant exchange of information is the essence of life. But I'm bad at it. The thing is that exchange of info and communication is not the essence of life to me... I like solitude, ruminations and solitary activities.

Normal "friends" just can't stop bragging about their lives and pointing out how successful I could be if I wasn't "lazy" and that I "have no excuse". And I waste my time arguing with them. The fact is I don't need any excuses. I'm mentally disabled and I'm not lazy at all, trying hard to do what I can. Abulia doesn't differ from usual fatigue. It's even worse. Kind of an empty feeling, when you're not tired, still can't do anything.

But such people are very annoying. For them the conflict between wanting to do things and not being able to do - means you're bad and lazy. That's the reason why such people can't really be friends: instead of understanding you, they try to make you fulfill their requirements.

I have difficulty with telling people I'm disabled - it's no good. Telling them I'm mentally disabled - worse. They don't believe I'm sick, as I look normal. And if I look normal, they naturally think it means I'm pretending and I'm lazy. Though they don't see me in psychosis and I'm tired of people blaming and shaming me for being sick and not able to do things. And it's after five hospitalizations and disability! I'm not irritable, but when people keep telling me it's better for me to die than not to gain success... I get angry.

I seem to get more complaints than understanding from some people. They think I don't carry out my functions. That's most important for them. I started to suspect that for some people my mental illness is just another reason not to like me and to reproach me. As if it's a flaw and my fault. People would just use my mental illness to humiliate me. And if I can't understand them, they'd think me silly. And really - how would I prove I'm clever, if I have bad memory? When I'm reading books I'm like a dog that understands but can say nothing.

Some "friends" told me that they're good as they work, and I'm no good, as I don't work. And I don't know how to mend it. Feeling like a criminal. Should I only think of distant future that might never come, when I'll be able to carry out my functions in the society and will be respected again? Do mentally disabled people have no right to be respected just the way they are? Some call me "a sponger", as if I never did anything useful in my life. Though I'm glad I'm not the kind of a "consumer" that works twelve hours on a tedious unloved job and then watches TV all evening. I'd prefer to be "useless".

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Psychosis: how it works

 

 

As I asked other people who have schizophrenia, the symptoms vary much, but if I describe how it happen in my case, it won't do any worse. First I start to doubt the reality of this world. Strange mystical ideas come into my head quickly and stay there. Logic disappears. I start to be afraid of lots of people and things. The world becomes a very scary place inhabited by unknown evil forces. Then I usually imagine that god lives in me or talks through me. Later I start to talk to unknown creatures that I imagine who tell me something through my own thoughts. Or I imagine neighbours planning to do me harm. I think that all people in the world are reading my thoughts and talking to me. I see mystical symbolic "signs" everywhere. Every little thing becomes significant, as I become the centre of the world. I lose weight, have tachycardia and high blood pressure, stop to sleep and get into suicidal ideas. It usually ends up in the hospital, as I'm too scared to stay home in this state.  That's how it always gets along if I give up meds or take them not regularly. No psychotherapy changes it. And I'm not going to think myself weak or not clever enough, just because psychotherapy doesn't work for me. Meds work for me. I want to be sane and not to think about how to be "strong". I want to live without mystical ideas and have a clear brain. May I not be too clever because of illness, at least I'll keep my life straight.

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"Schizophrenia is not an illness"

 

 

I can already gather a collection of stories how friends, relatives and others say to me "schizophrenia is not an illness". I thought at first having an illness and disability automatically means that people perceive I'm different. But no. Imagine my relatives and friends pathetically screaming "schizophrenia is not an illness! It's your imagination! You can do anything and get anywhere!" They think I'm lazy, stupid, pretending to be sick, not having enough strength of will etc. Some of them even have medical education. I think it's comfortable for them to think as they do. Some think a schizophrenic must be a genius. I believe they should understand I'm trying to do best that I can, not to reproach me for lack of abilities. But they treat me just like they treat normals, without any considerations that I don't meet the criteria of a normal person at all. My relatives and my healthy friends expect too much from me. I'm used to their pressure that I must get healthy the sooner the better. They don't see I haven't ever been normal. I've been different since childhood. But they hardly noticed me when I was "healthy", now they only want me to fit in and not to bother them. This life is for healthy people. And you realize it when recovery is perceived as some “victory”. Hey, recovery is not a business achievement! Some people recover, and some might even get worse! It’s an individual process of healing that may take about ten years or more.Being "healthy" in our society seems to mean only to be able to work fulltime. They don't care for cognitive impairment. They only expect me to continue to earn my living somehow and appear normal. They don't care what's going on in my head. I got more frail as I got sick, but it's not written on my face. But they devalue my feelings just as they devalue the simole fact of my illness. If illness "doesn't exist", how can I be having mental problems: problems with communication and bad memory, excessive emotions, suicidal thoughts, paranoia and voices? No, it all JUST DOESN'T EXIST! And normals treat me as if I'm a healthier and stronger person than them, which is not true. They think they behave nice just not thinking about my illness and not noticing it, but they do harm easily, as I'm not stronger than them, just on the contrary. And I don't see any way to "prove" seemingly normal people that I'm not like them, as I don't have a visible wound in my head.

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About anti-psychiatry

 

As anyone watches me, one may notice that I've been always experimenting and trying new ways to cure. Just don't mistake it for the anti-psychiatry shit. I know some people with schizophrenia can live without medication, some can't. It's not our choice or our wish.

It's a necessity for me to take meds, as I know what will happen if I don't. First, I'll get elated from dopamine rise, then I'll get apathetic. And I'll be apathetic more and more for years. I won't be able to get up earlier than 3 pm. I'll have insomnia all the time, sometimes not able to sleep for two or three days in psychosis. Abulia will make me stop doing anything. Then, I'll develop paranoid ideas. I'll be suspicious and plots-seeking. From time to time I'll get psychoses: I'll lose weight to 36 kgs, have tachycardia and high blood pressure, delusions and voices. I might even die from it, if I don't take any meds. My logical thinking will disappear, and I'll turn to some religious or mystical things. I will be thinking up how people are plotting against me and I will be seeing "signs" and "allusions" everywhere. I might start stalking people on web from my paranoia (I'll be thinking that they're stalking me) and visit far-away cities in vain. I'll see everything as connected to me and perceive people as if they're trying to chase me and I'll see threatening hints everywhere. I'll quarrel with all of my friends and sit at home alone trying not to go out at all. Maybe lying in bed all day long with eyes and ears shut. I'll be often suicidal and may start to self-harm. Every little thing will paranoidly hurt me, and real hurts will hurt me even more. I'll be planning ways to end up my own life all the time.

I don't want such life. So I've been taking meds for three years already, and except times when I tried to give them up, hoping for psychotherapy to help, I have a much better life than before. How can people be so cruel and insensitive to require the mentally ill "not to be silly" and "to live like normals" and "to throw away meds"? It's just ignorance and pure silliness.

We may have nice hopes when looking at those in good remission, but not forget that it's just luck and every case of schizophrenia is not going to be so cheerful. If febrile schizophrenia develops, people may die from it. So those who expect all mentally ill people to throw away meds and think themselves healthy, but "mauled by evil therapists" and "victims of mind control system", - are silly and dangerous themselves.

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Isolation

Once I was standing in the middle of a crowd in a subway. I wanted to jump under the train. I felt so detached from everything, and people seemed somehow artificial, as though they existed in a separate reality from me. I was trapped into my delusional world of paranoia.

7 years passed, I got into the hospital, was diagnosed, had some inner struggles and personality changing, was sectioned three more times. Things got better, and I didn't have any delusions anymore. My thoughts were in the right order. I managed some work, and things seemed not so bad. But isolation started away silently and unnoticeably. The more people learned something about me, the more I became isolated. Relatives smiled at me and told some shit behind my back. "She has to be disabled", "When will she hang herself?", "She's silly". Friends shunned me. Those who I told anything about my mental illness drifted away, and those who knew nothing were very conscious I was hiding something from them. The few people with schizophrenia I knew could do me no better. They only wanted to discuss their symptoms. Some shrinks showed interest in me, but they only thought of me as a case to study, and I realized it too late. All communication broke down.

It got worse every time I was sectioned. Those were the times I thought of myself as bad as the people around me. I thought myself silly and unworthy and not able to fit in. I forgot about my illness and judged myself through the eyes of healthy people. All my self-dignity was lost, my achievements forgotten. I felt the circle of normals narrowing around me and judging me.

I wouldn't bother if they judged me for being a criminal or for any other activity that set me out from the rest. I was quite alone since childhood, always bullied and shunned. Only my interests and my friends mattered anything to me. I didn't care for people's opinion. But then I wasn't so overall isolated. I had some friends and people who sympathized with me. I could afford myself not to give a damn as I had those who liked me and helped me in life, I had my own circle of acquaintances and didn't care about the world. Then it all broke down. Were all friends fake and all good prospects in life only a dream? I don't know. Mostly I had been telling lies to my friends not to frighten them. I was afraid they'd stop talking to me if they knew I had schizophrenia. Some truth revealed, I was just laughed at and met with misunderstanding. I was supposed to feel guilty in my illness.

Now I may take a walk, and there're so many people on the streets, and I'm supposed to be worse than any of them. Every little thing seems to be a sign of illness. My words turn to symptoms. I seem to even clean my teeth in a special way.

And the lack of emotional intelligence makes it hard to prove anything to people. I can't communicate properly. They think I "got what I deserved", even if they're atheists. The simpliest thing that no one is guilty in mental illness is beyond their thinking. I'm just too kind and indulgent to people, trying to understand why they all drifted apart. And I only hear from them - "you're bad, you're guilty in your troubles".

  It turns out I feel like a criminal with normals who know nothing about me and behave like a normal person with those who know the truth. I can't switch between telling lies mode and trusting mode. I'm puzzled because I live in two worlds. The ultimate version of a typical normal's view is "you're good, but you're not trying enough, so you're bad", "and if you are not trying enough, you're really sick and bad forever, you're silly and there's nothing to talk about with you". I'm tired of this shit. Then they make it worse: "you take meds - it means your place is in the residential home", "you want a simple job - it means you're silly and dangerous". I can't breathe from hurt.

I remember times when I ruined the remaining mental health trying to prove to people I'm "clever enough". I managed well, but I had relapses and ruined my health. And it was all in vain. They never stopped calling me silly. I surely have some problems with memory, and there's some stumbling in my brain, when thoughts are interrupted and I have to reconstruct the whole line of thoughts from the beginning. I can be paranoid sometimes. I'm often tired and apathetic. But I didn't lose my ability to do things I already learned. My thinking is more clear than lots of normals' thinking, and it actually improved since I became ill and started to take meds. I'm doing the best I can in my state.

But I understood no amount of thinking or work can prove people I'm good. I'm just a dangerous animal for them. And I'll stop losing friends when I stop telling them about myself. I'm alone with my illness and sorrows and can't talk about it. I just have to be careful not to relapse again. All new acquaintances started to resemble a hide-n-seek. I can't be truthful, so I have to avoid lots of topics, think up my biography and to tell lies about almost everything. I'm no more isolated with people than alone with myself. It's even better in solitude.

And if I watch people on the streets, I think no more of their inner beauty or good aspirations. I only think of the way they would treat me if they knew something about me, and isolation traps me.

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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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Rapid Cycling

"How do you know if you're out of control?" Sadly, you hardly notice at all. 

In my years of living with bipolar, I have only been able to notice and anticipate my cycles this year. I had finally stopped using hard drugs or ones that were not prescribed to me for self-care. I should have realised that even taking medications that aren't given to me by a doctor is really unhealthy because it can affect the chemicals in the body and cause adverse effects. In the time that I began my real journey of recovery and self-awareness I have been able to spot the elevated or dropping moods by monitoring through writing. I'm not even that good at it, but it is a good start.   

I can't wait until I have a family doctor so I can talk to them about the fact I think I go through rapid cycles. The criteria of rapid cycling is if a person had 4 or more manic or depressive phases within one year. I can 100% guarantee I have experienced that in this year. Going through my old blogs I can pinpoint the weeks of these cycles, so it will be easier for my physician to document. Maybe this will result in a medication change but I can't do that myself, I refuse to unless I can't handle the side effects.

The best that I can do right now is keep doing what I'm doing. Writing, talking and taking care of my physical health. If I don't then my school and my mental health will suffer, not to mention possibly failures of relationships. I don't want to go through any of that again so all I can do is follow through. 

Here are some more links to help better understand the facts behind rapid cycling :
Rapid Cycling within Bipolar Disorder II
Rapid Cycling and Mixed "Waves" 
​Frequently Asked Questions about Rapid Cycling

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If the readers of these posts thinks or knows they are bi polar please try to include your family as much as possible. I am the... Read More
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