Monday, January 31, 2011

Words can harm and words can save. What will your words do today?

The last 4 or 5 days have been a crazy roller coaster.  Many words were exchanged and now they are all circling through my head, cycling around and around.  My family calls it spinning.  See, we are good at getting something stuck in our head and then spinning it out of control.  We are the only ones I know that can make a stubbed toe turn into homelessness and death for ourselves and the ones we love.  I could explain the logic, but that is another post. 

The point is that it's this crazy snowball effect that we really have no control over.  So there have been words I have said that have caused hurt, pain, and confusion, but I have also said words that calm, heal, and bring happiness and laughter.  I have received the same in return.  Some words said to me (or around me) have caused hurt or confusion, and others have caused gratefulness and happiness. 

The problem is too often we all say words without completely thinking the thoughts through.  We don't think about what our words can do to a person.  And now I sit here, spinning in my head, asking myself questions that I don't have answers for.  Worrying, wondering, even if I did have the answers, what words would I choose to express them?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coming Out

If you have followed my blog for any significant amount of time or you have gone through the past posts, you know the main purpose of this blog is to help erase the negative stigma associated with mental illness and Bipolar in particular.  However, there is another message that is incredibly important. 

If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, mania, or anything else that just doesn't feel right mentally and emotionally, there is absolutely no shame in getting help.  Speak up.  Speak out.  As Jenny, The Bloggess, reminded me this morning as I read through one of her most recent posts (I got behind), your friends and family would rather have a broken, bed-ridden you than no you at all.  "Your friends and family want you…broken or not.  Don’t leave.  Speak out.  Be honest about your condition to let others know that they can be honest with theirs. Together we’ll get through it." 

So for those who love you, read Jenny's post, then *speak out* because you're wanted in their life.

For Jenny, and Lori (a wonderful lady in Jenny's post), and for everyone else who suffers in silence:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can One Letter Really Make a Difference? Uh...yea.

It has been a while since I've posted so I figured now is as good a time as any, and what better topic than boobs!  That's right, boobs.  Even better, I am going to talk about my boobs!  Or rather, bitch about them.  Why you ask?  Simple.  Because they have made my life more difficult lately. 

See, I am a fairly well-endowed woman.  No, you don't get to see pictures.  For the last, oh, I dunno, decade I have been a DD cup.  Also known as Double-Dang boobs.  For a long time, I hated them.  With a passion.  They get in the way, they cause horrible back pain, shopping for shirts is a royal pain, and bathing suits?  Forget it.  People and objects run into them  and people stare at them.  I swore if I ever had the money, I would get a reduction.  Then somewhere in the last 3 or 4 years, my attitude shifted.

Now I love my boobs...usually...because there are so many women out there who wish they had boobs like mine.  I figured rather than hate them, I should be thankful for what I have.  Embrace them.  Nurture them.  And find clothes and bathing suits that  flatter them.  No easy task, mind you.  But I had adapted and grown to love them.  Yes, I now LOVE my boobs.  My big, beautiful boobs. 

But now, I am a little irritated with them again.  Why?  Because apparently they decided to grow again over the last several months.  That's right.  I am now a DDD.  Fan-freaking-tastic.  The thought really didn't bother me at first because I figured I dealt with them before, I can deal with them now.  Until I went bra shopping.

See, bra shopping was always an adventure because there is always a very limited selection of DD bras in my favorite stores.  I discovered when I went in search of DDD bras that none of my favorite stores carry any of that size in store.  N.O.N.E.  Queue long list of swear words.  Even Victoria's Secret failed me!!!  Just when I was about to blow a gasket, I called my mother who always has the answers.  She told me to check the higher end department stores like Macy's.  Ugh, I hate that place.  But guess what.  As usual, mom was right...again.

While their selection wasn't anything to throw a party over, I was able to find several bras that fit properly and didn't look like my grandmother should be wearing them.  So now my beautiful, big, fantastic boobs have limited me to one, single store for bra shopping...or online.  Bra shopping online just doesn't seem right.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Most People with Mental Illness are NOT Violent

 I received a message from a friend today about a statement that the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) supposedly issued.  While I cannot confirm the statement came from them (it is not listed in their Press Releases on the website), I believe it is good for everyone to read because it is so very true.

If you know me in more than passing or you read this blog, you know that I have bipolar disorder.  I am not ashamed of it and I don't try to hide it from people.  In fact, I try to spread awareness of mental illness because I fight a negative stigma of mental illness every day.  No matter who wrote this statement, I hope it makes at least one or two people think twice before immediately passing judgment on someone they find out has a mental illness.

I highlighted my favorite parts.  Here is the message:

USPRA Issues Statement on Tucson Shooting January 13, 2011

The US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association released the following statement in reaction to Saturday’s Tucson shooting in Arizona:

In wake of Tucson’s tragic shooting that shook America over the past weekend, we wish Congresswoman Giffords and the 13 other wounded indivi...duals a speedy recovery, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those whose lives were impacted by this act of horrific violence.

With such senseless acts, we often search for someone or something to blame. The assassination attempt on Congresswoman Giffords has generated considerable speculation around the mental condition of the suspected shooter, which has heightened the stigma associated with mental illness. We must remember that there is a weak link between mental illness and violence. According to SAHMSA, nearly five percent of the US population suffers from a mental illness resulting in serious functional impairment, but only a very small group of individuals with mental health issues shows any violent behavior. Most people with mental illnesses are not violent, and most people who are violent are not mentally ill.

While we have no way of knowing whether or not our nation’s mental health system failed this individual, the Tucson tragedy should spotlight mental health policy & the provision of mental health services as a national priority. The best strategy to providing individuals with mental illnesses the assistance they need is to have an accessible system of care that is easy to use. However, because the majority of mental health services are delivered through public systems, these are usually the first programs to be cut in a state budget when money runs short. More socially accepted diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other physical illnesses don’t experience the same inconsistencies, yet funding for mental health programs seems to fall to the cutting room floor year after year.

In light of the Tucson shooting, we must also increase awareness of the need for mental health services within schools and colleges. The Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act attempted to increase accessibility to a range of mental and behavioral health services for students—including a focus on prevention, identification and treatment of students in college and university settings—but failed to gain any traction in the last two Congresses. We must realize that only by providing resources for prevention and outreach programs, can we ensure that students can obtain the support they need in order to recover and re-establish themselves in the community.

USPRA hopes that this tragic event brings the essential mental health system reforms that we so need in our nation and we will continue our responsibility to urge legislators to effectively address the needs of individuals with mental illness.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And You Thought Writing Your Name in the Snow Was Fun...

Remember when you parents told you not to eat yellow snow?  Guys, do you remember writing your name in the snow when you had to pee?  Well, if you never lived in a place that snowed enough for you to enjoy this distinct pleasure, you may have the chance to play games while you pee sooner rather than later.  My question is, what does the female version look like?


Friday, January 7, 2011

Better Living Through Chemistry

< Disclaimer:  This turned into a huge post.  And it probably rambles because I didn't proof it.  Feel free to skip it if you want. >

It never fails to amaze me how much pain and sickness the human body, my body, can take. It never fails to amaze me how much you get used to the pain so you don't realize how bad it is - that is, until it is gone.

People keep asking me how my Christmas was. I usually tell them it was great! I got to see my family, had lots of laughs, played games, and got to eat tons of delicious food. All of that is true and I am so glad and thankful for the experience. I usually leave out that 6 out of the 7 days I was in California, I spent most of my time staying still, and when I did move, I walked around like a stiff old lady because my rheumatic joints hurt so bad.

I leave out the physical pain because either they prefer hearing the happy stuff or I prefer thinking of the happy stuff. And then at some point, the pain becomes part of you. You know you hurt. It has hurt for a while. But you can still function when you need to. You may not be able to function easily, but the fact remains you can. You just have to adapt. Don't be weak and give in to nature being a bitch. Just get your stuff done and if it gets worse, call the doctor.

The process is so gradual, you don't even see yourself slipping. What started as a little mole hill has turned into a big mountain, but you don't feel like there has been any change. Next thing you know, you are rolling down that ginormous mountain at 1,000 MPH wondering how you let it get this bad.

That was me last week. I didn't see the mountain until I was sitting at home at the end of my Christmas vacation in tears because, once again, I couldn't turn a door handle or button my own pants. In tears because I know there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. In tears because I know it is a degenerative disease. In tears because I couldn't even form a cohesive thought through my pain and misery. My brain was a fog. But even worse, there were tears from a depression that I still couldn't see behind the mountain. It took the doctor telling me I was depressed for me to see that part of this equation, and that almost never happens with me anymore. Usually I am so in tune with my bipolar that I know I am slipping into a depression long before I show outward symptoms of it.

So I finally called my Rheumatologist. Out til next month. Boo. So I called the PCP. Saw him Monday. We talked about all my physical problems. The final conclusion was major RA flareup (well DUH) and severe depression. The question, which came first? I told him it didn't matter because they feed off each other anyway and he agreed. The treatment? Double the antidepressant (which put me at a whole 50 mg of Zoloft - something most people laugh at) and call in Guido (Prednisone - a steroid) for the RA.

Now, I have taken Prednisone before. I have an "as needed" prescription for these flare ups. I start hurting, I take 5 mg for a few days and then I am right as rain...usually. This time around, I had taken that dose for 10 days with no effect, so I was skeptical of this second round of Prednisone. Then he told me how much. 60 freaking mg. SIXTY! 60 for 3 days, 40 for 3 days, 20 for 3 days, 10 for 3 days. Holy hell. That is more than just calling in Guido. That is calling in the whole freakin mafia.

The good news was I didn't care. I just wanted relief. I figured getting rid of the pain would help my depression a little and I would be able to function at work. What I knew was Prednisone is fast acting. It would start working within 24 to 36 hours and my pain would start subsiding. Zoloft takes longer. It would be about 2 weeks before I had significant depression relief, but the lack of pain would help the depression a little bit in the meantime. I figured it was something like 80% real depression and 20% pain-induced depression. Oh baby was I WRONG!!! 24 hours after my first dose of Prednisone I discovered my pain was my depression. 24 hours after starting that damn steroid, I felt emotionally normal and my pain level was well on its way to leaving the building.

I have always known that I have a much higher pain tolerance than the average person. What most people would consider a 6 or 7 on the pain scale, I frequently call a 3, maybe a 4. Why? Because I am used to it and know how to adapt to it. For me to say my pain is 7 or higher, I have to be damn near crippled. I don't always remember that though. Then the pain goes away and I am left asking myself, how the hell did I function through that? How could I not realize it was that bad?

The only answer I can come up with:

Cause I'm stubborn  in denial  an idiot one tough cookie.