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BipolarLife101 Mental Health Blogs

BipolarLife101 Blogs

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

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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Stigmatized by Family

This subject is very important to me on many levels. I feel for the other people who live with or handle emotional and mental torture from loved ones in their life. I am saddened by my own experiences. While I was younger and lived in an abusive family home and in abusive relationships, I was constantly controlled by their rules and outlook on how I should act socially. Not only in the mental health aspect, but in sexuality as well.

I have finally been in a position to officially come out as bisexual recently. My father had always said he would disown his children if we "became" gay. When I was in grade 6, we were watching the news and a report came on about LBGTQ right activists. My father started saying that "all gay people should dig their own hole and shoot themselves into it". I obviously started defending human rights and saying love shouldn't be limited because there have been homosexual acts in the animal kingdom. You can only imagine his response.

I knew I was bi-sexual in grade 4 where my friend had our first "exploration/understanding of the female body" experience. Even from then I knew I liked the idea of being naked and having a relationship with women. Until this year, I have always had to deny and keep my sexuality secret from my family. As shitty as my father was, I was still afraid of him disowning me. Sadly my aunt agreed that he would have been successful, too.

With the fear of being disowned gone, I came out to specific family members. This news travelled back to my Nanny (grandmother on dads side) and she freaked out. I haven't talked to her yet because she doesn't have my new phone number but I am afraid to call her. When she found out my aunt defended me and also came out as bisexual. I do not have any idea how that went down but I assure you it must have been a blood bath.

On the topic of mental health, my father was so incredibly opposed to me attending therapy and taking medications. He never understood the illness that was developing in front of him and that he thought ignoring it completely would make it go away. Even until the day he died he never understood any mental health illness.

I feel so sorry that so many people have made a choice to live a lie in fear of another persons judgement. It sounds so silly when I type it out because the answer is so painfully obvious: kick them out of your life. Life is the longest thing we will ever do so why not make it a happy and honest one? If you are being stigmatized by family members or loved ones I hope you, reader, realize how important your mental health is over their reaction and judgment. You are more important than that.

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Copyright

© 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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Copyright

© 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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"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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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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