Jan. 31 – Bell Let’s Talk, Mental Illness

bell-let-s-talk

Let us not be silent any longer, and we must know that mental illness affects us all. We all know someone, a son or daughter, parent, brother, sister, mother, father, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend or acquaintance, who suffers from mental illness, in some form.

We have seen, over as many months, the scourge of the suicides of young people who have taken their lives because of bullying and certain mental illness. If you bully someone long enough, they themselves will develop a mental issue, due to stress and pain.

And nobody wants to talk about it.

Mental illness is part of my life. As a man living with AIDS, depression and suicide have always been in the back of my mind. antidepressants to keep me above the water, with the knowledge that if shit got bad, and I was demented and lying in my own shit, I sure as shit will take matters into my own hands, and do the deed myself.

I had an exit plan, all those years ago, and here in Canada, assisted suicide is a right. I will not go miserably, like many of my friends did.

I believe that people who suffer from mental illness need a second set of eyes on them. We see this in the rooms today. Suffering addicts and alcoholics, who are solitary sufferers. they see a doctor and they get their pills. But, do they take them and do they get the much-needed help, each of them needs ?

For the most part no, they don’t.

Mental Health Services are hard to come by, because there is such a demand and not enough practitioners out there, for everyone to get proper, on the ground assistance. Which is why this network exists to connect those who need services with the proper people to give it to them.

As always, finding the right doctor is like finding a needle in a haystack. Any quack can dispense mends, but it takes a master to know his or her trade and do that trade well.

They say “It takes a village…”

I keep tabs on my friends, those who are in difficulty. But there is not much I can do, beyond offering assistance if needed. I have other parental friends whose children suffer from certain mental illness, and with my experience in the mental health arena, with my husband as proof, over the years, I have offered to them, what I know in a clinical format. I have printed information that I have given to each of them, telling them that their kids, if they need help, can get help, but the parents have to be proactive in making sure they have those second set of eyes on them.

All of my parental friends failed that task, miserably. Thy just fed their kids to the lions to fend for themselves, because of self centered-ness , and because they are put out because they have to take eyes off themselves, and put them on their kids.

Disgraceful…

My husband was diagnosed with Bi-Polar 2 rapid Cycling, over fourteen years ago. In the beginning it was very difficult for both of us. Because he was very sick, and ended up comatose on the sofa for more than ten months while we attempted to find the right mix of medication to wake him up and bring him round.

Meanwhile, I was hitting meetings, going to school, full-time and I was chief cook, and bottle washer. Mental illness is a full time job, and let me tell you it took more than twenty-four hours a day to combat.

Mental Illness is full-out combat. For the life of the one who is sick, and the person who becomes the caregiver.

I have to say something to all the care givers. Husbands, Wives, Families and Friends. You are the rock stars for the time you devote to your loved ones. And we must recognize the direct sacrifice we all make in the care of our loved ones.

Care Giving is a thankless job. So I thank you on behalf of everyone else.

Bi-Polar depression is a work in progress, even today. Because every day is different. Hubby has an inner tape that plays in his head. And every day that outer dialogue is different. It has changed over the years, as he has gotten better.

Problems do arise.

And from one day and one night to the next, I am not sure what I am going to get. There is a Bi-Polar Worksheet over there —> in the Pages section. it is a checklist of things that arose while treatment was began and time progressed. It is timely and pertinent. And it is useful.

After ten months of treatment, the final magical pill was found. And like Lazarus, rising from the dead, hubby got up off the sofa and became a human being once again.

Sadly, the man I got on the back-end of treatment, was NOT the same man who went in the front end.

The medication took away critical parts of who he was. And I have to say that I was terribly angry, when the doctor looked at me and said, “well, this is what you get!”

Nobody warned me that this might happen in the end.

Medication side effects are the number one reason that people will not take medication because of what that medication might do to them. In the end, a life can be rebuilt and men and women can find a new self, after treatment.

So I must stress, that if you NEED medical treatment, and medication is given, that you DO TAKE that medication.

It might not be the right solution for the right reason, but it IS a solution, in helping us combat the scourge of mental illness.

I have been in situations with people in my past, who suffered from mental illness who denied medical treatment, and took their meds and sold them one for one, for illicit drugs. Junkie Drug Dealers will trade in antidepressants, as payment for marijuana and other illicit drugs. I have seen this with my own eyes.

There is high demand for drugs like Xanax and other mood stabilizers, uppers and downers, that they seem to prefer along with the pot and drugs they peddle.

Illicit drugs and forgoing mental illness drug treatment is a huge problem. Because many think that the Herbal drug route is safer than medicinal drugs for mental health.

There is argument on both sides for the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of certain forms of mental illness. I have to disagree with this. Marijuana is a drug, and is addictive, and will stunt who you are and drop you into a dark hole, you may never escape, the further you use.

The efficacy of very good drugs to combat mental illness is on the rise. Drugs have gotten much better over the last decade, and hubby is prime proof of just how well drugs for mental illness do work for him.

Today, hubby works a four-day work week at his job at the video production company where he is employed now for three years. On the fifth day, Friday, he works from home as a mental health day, we have worked this into our life schedule together.

Hubby still has his quirks and his problems. Sometimes he does not think through certain decisions, and puts me in certain tough situations that I had previously been unaware of, and by surprise, I stumble into a secret he had been keeping for a very long time.

Illicit drug use was one of those secrets. He miscalculated my travel schedule and had spread his drugs all over my desk one afternoon, and I happened to walk in on him as he did his thing.

Needless to say I was incensed. And Very Angry.

Now we have a work around, because his drug use, is an executive decision he made for himself that he believes helps him, and what can I say ? NO ??? So if I leave the house, I text him before I depart location B for home to advise him I am On My Way Home.

Thereby avoiding any issues between us.

I haven’t witness him doing his drugs in a long time, so I am not sure that he is still doing them at the moment. But that is one issue we do deal with currently.

Eating and sleeping are also issues. Sometimes he eats too much and sometimes he eats too little. Hubby has a nightly routine, and I put him to bed during the national news and he goes to sleep, in order to get up for work early in the morning.

The problem there is that sometimes he does not take his meds accordingly, and he lays there, awake for hours, and then gets pissy when I come to bed, when I know, certainly that with his meds he sleeps like a rock. You could drop the house around him and he won’t budge. But on certain particular nights, he is UBER hypersensitive.

That makes me crazy. Because from one night to the next, I am not sure what I am going to witness in bed on a nightly basis.

After treatment when hubby, “rose from the dead,” I had to rebuild him from the ground up. Beginning with occupational therapy. Odd jobs, house hold chores. Simple things, to bring him back around.

He later went back to Concordia University and massed two degrees, one in English Literature and a second in Sociology. With two Bachelors Degrees and then a Master’s Degree in Sociology. He barely made it out the other end, due to his Bi-Polar issues.

A little story. On the day he presented his MA thesis to his team, he was still writing the text for that presentation at home, just mere hours before he was to present.

In the end he brought the house down with rave reviews.

When hubby is on a creative high, there is no stopping him. When that trend swings to the depressive downer, life can get pretty miserable, because he ends up on the sofa comatose for days on end. Until he works himself back out the other end.

Mental illness needs a second set of eyes. I am hubby’s second set of eyes.

Today we care for each other. Both of us are committed to making sure we are both safe, healthy and successful.

  • Mental Illness is NOT a Death Sentence.
  • It is Manageable.

With the right team, the right doctors, the right medication, and the right assistance whether that be therapy or psychiatry. Sometimes we need all of that.

Hubby is managed by a psychiatry team in Westmount Square now for several years. He was weaned off of all the drugs he no longer needs, he has the right mix of this and that, and he is properly successful.

That does not mean he is out of the woods by any stretch. Every day is a challenge, like I said above. I never know what is on the tape that will play on any given day.

If you have a loved one who suffers from mental health issues, there is help. You can deal with mental illness, if you know what to do. I am here, and can help you figure out “what to do.”

You are not alone. Ever.

We can No Longer sweep mental illness under the rug any longer. We need to hit mental illness with a full frontal attack and help our loved ones succeed, in a healthy way.

Bi-Polar II Rapid Cycling Observations Work Sheet

What have we learned boys and girls about the Bi-Polar disorder. The right medication is the key ingredient to success. Finding the right match of medication to make the light go on in the tower and for life to be regained. It took ten months of mixes and matches to find the right mixture and dosages of medication, not to mention the time I waited for the medication to work.

Bi-Polar runs on the system of cycles. They do not all run concurrently and they don’t all make the whole of a person, and sometimes they don’t even make sense, but added together they will, they run on their own timetables and sequences. Every person is unique and each of us carries our own issues and dilemmas. Issues do not go away without bringing them into the light for examination and information and study. What do I know about my husband:

  1. KEEP A JOURNAL of your progress and the Bi-Polar person
  2. Journaling can become very crucial to self help and to help others like US
  3. The more knowledge you collect the better you are at predicting the future by maintenance and vigilance
  4. You are your own best physician, take the time to learn it will benefit you BOTH
  5. I learned this with HIV, I know my body better than any doctor that I will ever see
  6. It is my knowledge that helps a doctor to treat me optimally!!
  7. Therefore what you observe becomes knowledge for a Psychiatrist or Psychologist and the GP following the patient
  8. Sexual issues are at the top of the list
  9. Mommy issues are just as bad
  10. Is he sleeping too much or too little
  11. Is his mind racing all the time or not enough
  12. Is he not motivated Enough to live each day to his fullest
  13. Is he Overstimulated – therefore halting the creative process
  14. Is he depressed for longer periods of time, therefore maybe a medication needs to be removed, tweaked or changed
  15. Is he emotionally stable on a steady day to day basis for longer periods of time
  16. Is he up or down or too much or one or the other
  17. Does he eat in regular intervals or binge eats during certain hours
  18. Because he’s in recovery and not going to meetings – I have to take that into consideration because I still go to meetings.
  19. Is he exhibiting addictive behavior, food, sex, ambivalence, smoking
  20. Is he being irresponsible with money
  21. Is he eating too mcuh and not getting satisfaction with each meal
  22. Are there other medical factors we need to look at
  23. Thyroid, genetic or emotional issues
  24. Does he have enough structure to fill his day
  25. Is there too much structure for him (overstimulization)
  26. Does he feel fulfilled socially
  27. Should we enroll him in school – University – goals are important
  28. Are his classes stimulating him to his maximum potential
  29. Boredom is KEY here… Most bi-polar people are inner geniuses and don’t know whether it is mental or creational
  30. When the High is Too high, the fall is too great
  31. When the Low is too low, it will take some work to bring him up
  32. Creation at optimum levels for him is a recipie for disaster because he does not know when to shut the valve off and that creates hysteria in his head
  33. Finding BALANCE is Key to proper maintenance
  34. Making sure one cycle does not become troublesome – that’s where I failed to see the problem
  35. Making sure he has psychological support – someone other than me to talk to
  36. I can only do so much for him, the rest is up to him
  37. Medical supervision with the Psychiatrist is important to make sure we are monitoring the medication levels properly. This is very important. It takes a LONG time to figure out, most don’t know this, but the closest person to the patient should follow the trends of ups and downs to find the trend of good and bad.
  38. I spent a year studying his behavior to help his doctor find the right mix, adding to that his own observations as to how the medication made him feel and how he progresses with certain meds, throughout the medical process of divining the right medication mixture.
  39. Keeping an eye out for odd behavior is also important. Over long periods of times cycles can become natural cycles if you don’t catch the bad ones quick enough. This is not an easy task.
  40. Re-Integration has been an issue. How do you explain two lives at different stages of living after someone has been absent for months ata time, and you, the spouse and family went on with their lives, while you (the patient) were down for the count. I still go to meetings and have a life along with monitoring YOU, if YOU the patient do not take the proper steps to catch up, you will always be behind the lead runner in the race.
  41. Pushing a bi-polar person to change is useful – being angry is also useful –
  42. Responsibility is an adult necessity, and if you can’t be responsible, then we will treat you as we need to, until you can rise to the occasion. Irresponsibility with money, food and sex is Unacceptible.
  43. Bi-polar depression is a diagnosed mental problem and should be dealt with accordingly. With proper care and multi-pronged approach one finds their way. I am still trying to figure out how to be in two places at the same time, and to be in two heads at once. This is a challenge, because I am not God.
  44. Detecting the cyclical behavior is a learned behavior, just like certain other behaviors are learned.
  45. One must find the balance between a bi-polar person abusing you and taking advantage of you and the bi-polar condition being a daily handicapp and a crutch. My husband tries to do both sometimes at the same time.
  46. Whining and complaining about being forced off your ASS will not be tolerated. You want something to complain about, I’ll give you one problem to really complain about! I don’t want to hear about your complaints because you sure as shit don’t want to hear mine.
  47. Does he have occupational therapy, (The Gym, landry, house chores, getting out of the house) Sitting on ones ass or sleeping too much is problematic and can bite you in the ass
  48. A Spouse or family member of a bi-polar person needs a break at least for an hour a day or one day a week. sometimes that is impossible, so you build in structure to allow you both to have time for yourselves.
  49. Make sure you take care of your needs first, if you are sick or dead you are useless to care for anyone else, right !!
  50. Bi-Polar is just as much a mental disorder as a behavioral disorder and by watching key behavior patterns or cycles, along with medical treatment and supervision, one can manage their condition with a responsible partner to help them along the way
  51. Do not take no for an answer, fight, kick, scream, make sure he gets better
  52. FAILURE is NOT an option
  53. Treatment can work, but you have to be able to invest time and patience into wanting to find a solution and living through the darkness, because it does get light, and times will get hard, but you figure it out
  54. WALKING AWAY from a sick person is unconscionable, some people cannot hack the life of the patient spouse, this is what separates the MEN from the Boys and the WOMEN from the girls.
  55. Illness can either make or break your marriage, which are you going to choose?
  56. For Better or for Worse, in Sickness and in Health, in good times and in bad, till Death do us part, Did you say the same vows WE did?
  57. Marriage is a battle and I am a fighter. Are YOU?
  58. Never say Die, Never say NO, Never give up, there are ALWAYS solutions, IF you know where to find them
  59. Talk to everyone you know
  60. Trust only those you must
  61. Not every doctor knows his asshole from a hole in the ground
  62. Finding the right Bi-Polar doc is as important as finding the right GP or HIV doctor, half ass men in white coats are a dime a dozen, finding the right doc takes time, KNOWLEDGE and perseverance
  63. Know thine enemy frontwards and backwards
  64. To Thine Own Self Be True…
  65. Learn the signs of problems before they rear their ugly heads and tip you off balance, this is where I failed, over the last few months
  66. Every cycle has its marker tags, learn to spot them quickly
  67. Cycles can be time sensitive, moon cycle sensitive, each cycle runs on energy it comes and goes sometimes quickly sometimes slowly
  68. Cycles can last a few days or a few weeks or a few months
  69. Remember the good cycle and try to keep the bad cycles at a mininum
  70. PROPER VIGILANCE !! DAILY VIGILANCE!! DAILY MAINTENANCE
  71. There is a God, if there wasn’t I probably would not be here at this moment
  72. Pray, Pray and Pray some more…
  73. Find your faith, or FAITH will find you
  74. Trust me on this one…
  75. Evil exists in the face of illness – it taunts you and makes you feel small and insignificant and powerless, and useless, FIND the Path to not falling into the trap
  76. Pray, Pray and Pray some more
  77. I know this very well…
  78. Prayer – Acceptance and Powerlessness are helpful to help you stay grounded and humble
  79. Sometimes I cannot do this alone, that’s where YOU come in
  80. We can Do this Together
  81. You are not alone
  82. Bi-Polar is manageable – I am still finding our way, now 3 years after his diagnosis, we are a work in progress
  83. One Day At A Time…
  84. You are right where you need to be at any given moment on any given day
  85. Pure Intent and Open Mindedness really help ones journey of faith and life
  86. Illness either kills you or makes you stronger
  87. And That which does not Kill You makes you Stronger
  88. I am not dead yet, I am not finished living my life, So God says…
  89. It is all about the Mystical Life we each live in our own way
  90. Find your Mystical roots and you will find your way through the now and into your future
  91. I don’t live in the past – It distracts from the NOW…

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