Moral Low Ground

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Rachael C. Black: Heavy Mental

(Lucy Mills)

(Lucy Mills)

I’m Bi-Polar. 
Guys dig this.
My typical second dates go something along the lines of:

“So Rachael, what kinds of things do you enjoy in the bedroom?”
“Well, have to tell you I’m Bi”
“Oh my god this is making me hard!”
“…Polar.”
“Check Please!”

You know the saying ‘fat people are jolly?’ Well I’m extra curvy. You know why we’re so fucking jolly? It’s an defensive tactic.  Make others laugh at something else before they start in on you. Works every time. In my mind.

I’ve been on the receiving end of both those sticks. It’s taken 35 years to keep from fetching every single one.  Have to work on dealing with life on life’s terms every single day.  Being an egomaniac with low self-esteem is a full time job!

 You are not your illness

The public stigma attached with some illnesses and physiological conditions is appalling. It is cruel, agonizing, frightening, frustrating and inescapable.

Being B-Polar is not who I am.

Showing off thirty ‘extra’ pounds doesn’t make me a fat slob, or even fat in a negative connotation.
As a recovering alcoholic there is yet another mental pre-set of definitions held by those who are not afflicted. Never been arrested, woken up in a gutter, or got into a bar fight.
Membership in Mensa doesn’t preclude me from making seriously moronic decisions.
Being divorced (twice: steep learning curve) doesn’t mean I am a bad wife. See above.

Public reactions to mental illness, alcoholism, superficial looks, physical aberration, -Insert Your Achilles’ Here-, disease, are based on ignorance, intolerance and bottom line, fear.

No one thing should define me. Be it mental illness or the music I listen to.
We are all a mixed bag. Doing the best we can to keep the bag from ripping open is what we work on.

Medication AND Meditation

Here’s a secret: A handful of pills and half a pot of coffee are breakfast. I need all of these pharmaceuticals to stay alive. Only one group brings out hatred and fear. The psych meds.

This week on TV I observed two instances of a Bi-Polar diagnosis being used as a plot device for serial killing. Yet another show portrayed the antagonist as exhibiting clearly psychotic and sociopathic motivations and actions. His diagnosis was supposedly Bi-Polar.
Pièce de résistance: An ad on Craigslist. The M4W post stated specifically ‘no crazy women on medication or pills. If you can’t keep your shit together don’t contact me.’

The latter is an example of rampant thoughts and statements I read or hear. Went on CL to find an example to illustrate this point. The ad I mentioned? Only had to read through the first four listed to find a Hater.

This is Black Box Warnings so on to the pharmaceuticals!

A bit over one hundred years ago it became apparent that there was a scientific basis for mental illness or as I sarcastically yet lovingly refer to it ‘the crazy.’

Symptoms were not caused by demons, heretical thought or lack of morals. More years went by and variations in behaviors and symptoms were categorized. Finally talk therapy, analysis, and cognitive behavior treatment courtesy of Freud and Jung (followed by Skinner and Piaget on his stage coach) were used successfully as treatment.

Yet there were no medications, no pill, which could treat or help mental illness.

Science stepped up and produced the first anti-depressants. Anti-depressants were developed to STABILIZE a patient. At this point therapy could be introduced and eventually the patient helped, or at least able to lead a meaningful life.

Neurological science is still in it’s infancy. There will never be a single magic pill to stop depression, suicide, mania, dangerous actions or psychopathy.

Until faceless insurance companies and Big Pharma destroyed our medical establishment psychiatrists treated in a rather holistic method. Talk therapy AND medication, if needed. Follow through on both was/is crucial. Since you had only one doctor involved chances were better than at any time in history.

There are many of us who require medication for life. No combination of therapy, self-realization, or knowledge can cure a neurological defect.
A diabetic doesn’t go off their insulin. A fighting cancer patient doesn’t eschew drug therapy or chemo.

Diabetics and cancer patients are not called fucked up. No one says Hey you lazy asshole pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Diabetics and cancer patients are not immediately shunned. Unless you suffer from HIV, then you can play in our restricted sandbox too! Other kids on the playground whisper, make us the butt of cruel jokes, write horrific and eternally haunting notes. Not because we kill kittens. It’s because medication is needed to save our lives. A stupid disease has rendered us ‘less than’ as a human being. Medication in the final proof of our failure as human beings.

As for antidepressants causing suicide? Are you kidding me? The patient is ALREADY SUICIDAL.

The prescription is an attempt to stop the thoughts. The medication doesn’t always work. No medication works for everyone. Not one. Hell, there are people allergic to aspirin and for that matter it can kill a child with the side-effect of Rhys syndrome.

Seeing uninformed blanket statements such as the suicide ploy make be berserk.
Lucky for you I’m suicidal not homicidal.

Big Pharma runs advertisements on television. If you remember, these ads were not originally required to disclose side-effects. Millions of people saw these ads and demanded the wonder pills from their physicians. They still do. Physicians who are not psychiatrists.

Insurance companies decided that we needed therapists to do therapy and psychiatrists to deal with the science and medication. I have a psychiatrist and a psychologist. With insurance coverage that is a joke. Many times I cannot afford my medications or doctor appointments.

Your local Internist or GP does not keep up on the Psych journals and related studies. This is not their specialty and they are not board certified in psychiatry. These docs don’t prescribe a therapist along with the meds. They give in to their patients, having been given samples by their Pharm reps. Hopefully they at least recommend a therapist.

Their truly mentally ill patients don’t usually get better long-term. Sometimes folks get lucky though. Everyone suffers a bout of depression during their lives. For too many times due to a traumatic experience. The only cure for this, in my personal experience, is grief counseling and time. Medication can help you until you can learn new coping methods. The pain never ever goes away completely. Like a scar from a surgery there will be a reminder.

Eh, What Do You Know? –or- You’re Not the Boss of Me!

My diagnosis is Bi-Polar II Dysphoric (mixed state). I have made two suicide attempts, one in sobriety and one while still practicing my alcoholic behavior.

Dysphoric mania, rather than euphoric mania, means that suicidal ideation is much higher than in any other Bi-Polar diagnosis.

From the ages of 14 through 30 I was diagnosed with chronic clinical depression. In my early thirties, the typical onset age (although this has recently been adjusted down to early 20’s in the DSM) the symptoms finally morphed into full blown Bi-Polar goodness.

I sought out therapy in junior high school. No parents or guidance counselors recommended it. My shrink father was appalled. Little Miss R was a goody two shoes straight A student band geek nerd.

You’d never know the Bi-Polar diagnosis if we crossed paths. My exterior is witty, self-deprecating, full of laughter, true concern with your well-being and thoughts, fun, iconoclastic attire, amazing successes, a genius daughter, travels around the world, but wait! There’s more!

What you don’t see is my head constantly silently repeating: ‘Kill yourself. You’re worthless. You’re fat. No man will ever love you again. It’s too painful to open my eyes. Think of the people you’ve hurt in your life. Horror is everywhere. You’re unable to support yourself. You peaked at 35. Your piano playing is shit. You know how many people told you you’re ugly; they can’t all be wrong. You will be homeless this summer. There is no money for basics. Just kill yourself and take your self-loathing, sick, worthless body out of the picture. It will be serene there. The pain will be gone. No one will miss me but my daughter and she’s already in college. She’ll be alright. Die loser. Please let me die.’

That’s what I fight against every day. Some days the demons win, some weeks there will be but two night’s sleep. Exhaustion is a constant companion due to keeping the outside façade up. Never let them see you down.
I do not leave the house often. It is a battle. I cry over what others consider trivial things. It sometimes pisses people off. These are but two symptoms of the disease.

The medications I take help keep these thoughts from becoming reality. They allow me to take advantage of relaxation techniques. Share with another person and listen to what they are going through. Help someone else, and so help myself. Write in a journal. Make a gratitude list.

Medications will never cure me. They DO take the edge off most days.
Without them I’d be dead. At least 10 years ago. Probably 20.

In my heart there is still hope. There are others out there wrestling with what society tells them about themselves, what they feel, and what professionals say. They are surviving.

My father was a psychiatrist. He was clean and sober the last 25 years of his life and specialized in addiction medicine. He worked getting psych patients OFF medication.
He refused to treat potential patients with obvious substance abuse problems until they had been sober 30 days.

Spent all my school breaks working for dad, dealing with his patients, taking file dictation, attending CMA meetings with him as a member of the audience, reading journals and absorbing knowledge like the sponge bob I am.
Still keep up on the reading. Know thy enemy. Know thy disease. Work for the best. Don’t kick yourself when you’re down. Remind yourself that other people are sick too.

Under-Diagnosis of Mental Illness

 You may have detected the mention of alcoholism and addiction in this post. Countless millions self-medicate to treat their mental illness. This is the reason my father would not diagnose anyone actively drinking or using. People I know have gone off meds upon getting sober. Drunks who have given up the booze have realized they have a physical/mental illness and seek out treatment for psychiatric issues.

There are the populace who NEED treatment but are either unable to afford it (thanks ‘murica!) or are so sick that they don’t even know. This is especially true of schizophrenics.

On the other hand the recent spate of Popular Culture icons who claim ‘Bi-Polar’ as an excuse for their actions piss me off. Screw ‘treat them as if they are all sick people’  Twelve Step work. When some angry selfish fucktard kills innocent people in a theater and is suddenly diagnosed ‘bi-polar’ I wanna find the douche and flip the switch. And I’m a liberal.

A well-known Hollywood actress was recently admitted to a private hospital for a 30 day stint to have her Bi-Polar medication adjusted. Said actress has a history of substance abuse. She never mentioned Bi-Polar until now.

As a two-time resident of ‘The Home aka a psychiatric hospital, three times really but who’s counting, I’ve learned a few things. Here’s one: there are no 30 day stays for med adjustment. You don’t check in to a hospital to have your meds changed. You do if it’s rehab. Or a suicide attempt.

Checked myself in on my own visits. At one place we had to spend an hour doing pointless artsy-craftsy stuff. Hey I just tried to off myself and you want me to make a hotpad? With shit like this there’s a reason all the government, state and most private mental institutions have closed.
Unless you’re filthy rich. You do get a free hotpad either way.

When I asked the nurse when we could weave baskets she didn’t get it.
Hey, it’s called the funny farm people.

Bi-Polar is diagnosed too often by the uninformed or lazy physician. It is under-diagnosed as a whole. The DSM-5 has just been released. What I’ve read so far disturbs me. The criteria set for Bi-Polar Disorder, Alcoholism and Autism all seem vague and messy. The newest bible for diagnosis has severe cracks in the foundation.

Be Pro-active. Get involved in your own treatment. Reach out to help your friends and family who have been diagnosed with the crazy. Remain teachable. Find a therapist that YOU are comfortable with.

Read the Warning Labels. One side-effect that appears on every medication is death.
Your box labeled Life has the same side effect.
It’s all in the how you use it and what it’s combined with.
Get your dosage right, and work to find some happiness.

~Miss R

Thank you Eric. If you weren’t already married to a beautiful
amazing woman and already have beautiful amazing kids I’d ask to bear yours. Kids. Not wives.

I highly recommend the links listed below. Check ‘em out

10 Infuriating Things to Never Say to  a Bi-Polar

Tips for understanding and helping famiy/friends with bi-polar disorder

What is Bi-Polar Disorder –Mayo Clinic

This post originally appeared on Black Box Warnings

*****

(Bearman Cartoons)

(Bearman Cartoons)

About Rachael C. Black: Writer, Musician and Dashing Woman About Town. Past lives include time as an Executive Producer for Warner Brothers, Consultant for films and television, Retail Goddess and Business Woman of the Year, Mother, and State Certified Body Disposal Expert. Veteran Burner. 

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