Sunday, March 25, 2012

Creatively Mood Disordered

I cannot even recollect the amount of times I have been told I am so creative. I believe having bipolar allows me to feel deeper, lover harder, run faster, and see details that those without mental illnesses do not sense or experience.

Personally, the best poetry I produce is when I am in a mixed state, with manic energy, in conjunction with a down phase, where for me it usually feels like a cold, dark, and depressing depth of despair.

There are also times in my life where I am so manic, I hear color, and I see sound. The flight of ideas, sped up thoughts, heightened senses, such as visual, auditory, or other stimuli is beyond words. There is a medical term for this called hyperacuity, which means sharpness of perception.

For me personally, communicating through poetry when I am feeling sad and alone helps me to spew out my depressive thoughts, with manic urgency. My brain is usually five steps ahead of my hand on the pen. I feel such powerful emotions; I find it hard to not let them out in some outlet or way, be it poetry or some other form of art.

Why is it that individuals with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, lean towards careers in the arts?  It has been suggested that mental illness and creativity often go hand in hand. So many themes in poetry are about loss, despair, sadness, and depression.

For instance, Sylvia Plath was a beautiful poet who ended her life by suicide.  In 2001, a psychologist by the name of James C. Kaufman created the term the Sylvia Plath to refer to the phenomenon that poets are more susceptible to mental illness than other creative writers are.

Some folks with bipolar disorder worry that they will lose energy and creativity if they agree to take medication for their illness. Personally, I have noticed that my medication does control my mania and depression, thus only allowing spurts here and there to permit me the ability to write poetry.

Whether it is drawing pictures, making jewelry, writing poetry, or writing my autobiography, I always feel creative energy within my soul. For those with mood disorders out there, can you relate?

Bipolar Betty

Monday, March 19, 2012

Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder - I Don't Understand?

What brought you to your doctor or psychiatrist’s office? Were you feeling depressed, hyperactive, and not able to sleep or sleeping all the time?  What were your symptoms that were becoming disabling?

I have received many comments and questions regarding initial diagnosis, and where to go from there. I am sure these scenarios are not the same for everyone; hopefully folks can take something from each one. I decided to include this blog, and intermittently discuss my personal experiences, and provide some basic information about mood disorders.

I use the term mood disorder interchangeably with bipolar disorder. The definition of a mood disorder is the term designating a group of diagnoses where a disturbance in the person's mood is hypothesized to be the main underlying feature.  The two most common “mood disorders,” are classified as Bipolar Disorder, or Major Depressive Disorder. Under these classifications, there are sub-categories, which I will briefly discuss below.

Education is very important for those just diagnosed with a mood disorder and it is important as well for family and friends to educate themselves too. The internet has such a vast amount of information on mood disorders, as well as details on medication your doctor has prescribed to you. I highly suggest folks diagnosed with a mood disorder take the time to do research on the internet, and if internet access is not available, there are wonderful books available at the library or bookstore.

A huge help has been gaining the knowledge of all aspects of my mood disorder, and it plays a huge part in understanding what my psychiatrist is suggesting, and allows me to ask questions as well. Otherwise I would feel like I was listening to someone speak a foreign language I have no idea how to speak. 

Statistically it is not uncommon for individuals to be misdiagnosed at least once. As severe as my bipolar is, it took many trips to the hospital and my psychiatrist’s office to receive the diagnosis. Because there are so many facets to the disorder, if one comes in to the doctors while depressed, the odds of being diagnosed with major depression is highly likely. With all mood disorders, cycling is not uncommon and unless psychiatrists have witnessed the cycling on a continuous basis, diagnosis of bipolar disorder most likely will take longer to identify. The bad thing about this is that medications to treat mood disorders vary depending on your diagnosis. 

Sometimes, if you are an individual who has bipolar, but is just showing signs of depression, a psychiatrist who prescribes an antidepressant can result in a huge disaster. The likeliness of rapid cycling while on an antidepressant without a mood stabilizer is very common.

Before I get into the “types of bipolar disorder”; here is some terminology used below. Please note that this is just a BRIEF description, and does not entail all symptoms.

Mania:  Easily distracted; little need for sleep; poor judgment or temper control; reckless behavior and/or lack of control; sexual promiscuity; spending sprees; overly elevated mood (i.e. increased energy and activity; racing thoughts; overly talkative; grandiosity such as very high self-esteem); agitation and/or irritability.

Depressed Phase of Bipolar Disorder: Daily low mood or sadness; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; eating problems, such as weight loss or weight gain; fatigue or lack of energy; feeling worthless or hopeless; low self esteem; thoughts of suicide.

Here is a brief overview of types of bipolar disorder; most likely, the doctor or psychiatrist will use similar terminology to refer to your diagnosis. Please note this does not include every subtype of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar I: (this is my diagnosis and the most severe classification) this term is usually given to individuals who have/had experiences with severe depression and full-blown mania

Bipolar II: Diagnosed when somebody has had many major depressive episodes as well as episodes of hypomania, and not severe mania. This is the most common bipolar diagnosis.

Rapid Cycling: (this also is included in my diagnosis) this is usually more an adjunct symptom, to the two subtypes of bipolar described the above. It means, over a 12-month period, an individual has more than four manic and depressive symptoms or episodes. Rapid cycling tends to be a lot more common in women.

Mixed State or Episode: (this as well is included in my diagnosis; which is why my Bipolar Disorder is SO severe) this term is defined during which symptoms of mania and depression occurs simultaneously. Mixed states are often the most dangerous period of mood disorders, the propensity to violence, suicide attempts, and other complications increase greatly.

During this phase for me, I can be crying and laughing at the same time. Coupled with rapid cycling my need at this time for hospitalization is at its highest.

Cyclothymia: This diagnosed usually given if an individual has some common bipolar disorder symptoms, which includes cyclical fluctuations in moods of mild or moderate depression and minor hypomania.

I hope I have helped some folks out there reading my blog and on my Facebook group page, with questions that have been presented. Folks out there please feel free to add comments, so that others can be educated.

Bipolar Betty

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I've Finally Let the Secretive Beast Out of the Cage

So as some of you may know I have yet to blog on this topic. In addition, since I want the blog to be about pure honesty I've decided to speak about one of the most secretive psychiatric diseases. I have, had, and do have an eating disorder. As those with eating disorders know, they are with you for life. You can tame the beast, but that beast is always in hiding. There are periods in life when the eating disorder is controlled, and others when your need for control overpowers the eating disorder.

My "diagnosis,” is Eating Disorder NOS. I don't fit the criteria for Anorexia, and Bulimia. Basically, I am a non-binging, eating restricted, purging, NOS. I never seem to fit any sort of mold ever though. I have been in two eating disorder clinics. The first time I was inpatient at the Renfrew Clinic in Pennsylvania. In addition, the second time I was at St. Joseph's in Baltimore, Maryland, but this eating clinic has since closed.

As you know eating disorders are about control. Therefore, some days, weeks, months, are better than others. Nevertheless, my days are always are the same.

1.) Wake up weigh myself
2.) Drink coffee, to starve the hunger for the day
3.) Weigh
4.) Eat dinner, and if I feel like I have not had many calories, I am good. If not it's purging
5.) After purging, weigh myself
6.) Eat something sugary (small of course)
7.) Before bed weigh myself

Repeat next day!

I'm not saying this is always the pattern, and I do though go for days, and weeks without purging, and it comes and goes. However, like I said, the beast might be caged, just waiting for someone to unlock him, or be tamed for a bit, but the beast for me NEVER dies. My life is spent thinking in terms of calories, and pretty much analyzing all aspects of food whenever I see food, or it goes into my mouth.

Eating disorders suck.....never too thin, always too fat, never pleased with the way I look. It is you, EDer's know. The scary thing is, is that Eating Disorders kills more folks than any other mental disease or illness.

So now, it's out....and speaking about it and talking to others about the "beast,” is so helpful.

Bipolar Betty

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Scene's are Improving and Mental Illness is Now Being Seen

I do not know how many folks out there with a mental illness agree, but this topic really needs to be addressed. I for one have noticed that individuals with mental illnesses are portrayed negatively on television.  They are violent and most likely to be villainous. Thanks to new reality shows, portrayal has become true to life, whether it is on talk shows, or reality shows, like Intervention, True Life, or Hoarders.  Nevertheless, many of the shows and movies do portray those with mental illnesses in a not so fabulous light!

Why does the “psycho” main character on a Lifetime movie have to recently been released from a mental hospital, be unstable, or have multiple personality disorder.  Mental illness is shown in a variety of television programs, including but not limited to, primetime television, soap operas, and children’s programs. Why are folks with mental illnesses on television always violent? Will children grow up thinking that those with mental health issues are “scary” and “weird”?

Commercials tend to a bit better, when advertising for psychotropic medications, but they always start with “Are you feeling down and not able to function like you used to?”

While I was doing some research for this blog, I came across many great examples of organizations and TV shows that are contributing to making a difference in the portrayal of mental illnesses. I surprised myself; by leaving this blog, feeling hopeful that things ARE being done to help increase positive awareness in the media, and portrayal is definitely headed in the correct direction. We still have a ways to go but I think things are getting better! Thanks to the help of these organizations:

The Entertainment Industries Council “is a resource for creative professionals, from writers and directors to producers, researchers, actors, and other players in the creative community,” according to its website. The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. produces the annual PRISM Awards to recognize entertainment productions that accurately depict drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction.

The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) annually presents, in collaboration with FX Network, Boeing, and News Corporation, the PRISM Awards™, a nationally televised awards show recognizing the accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental illness: prevention, treatment, and recovery in film, television, interactive, music, DVD, and comic book entertainment. Established in 1997, the PRISM Awards honor productions that are not only powerfully entertaining, but also realistically show substance abuse and addiction, as well as mental health issues.

Additionally, here are some of the movies and television shows that have contributed to creating the portrayal of mental illness, in a more positive light, many of these shows have won the PRISM award.  Here are some examples of television broadcasting:

United States of Tara: Main character has Multiple Personality Disorder
Grey’s Anatomy: “Suicide is Painless”

90210: One of the main characters, Silver, is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Friday Night Lights: After exhibiting key characteristics of bi-polar disorder - hypersexuality followed by euphoria followed by depression - "Smash" Williams's girlfriend Waverly Grady admits that she hasn't been taking her medications for a "mood disorder", which is eventually revealed indeed to be bi-polar. This causes her and Smash's relationship lots of trial, though Smash is willing to put in the effort.

Parenthood: Adam and Kristina Braverman's eight-year-old son Max has many quirks - insisting on wearing a bandana and pretending to be a pirate, for instance. Nevertheless, after getting into trouble at school, the Bravermans find out Max may have (and after testing are confirmed he does have) Asperger's. The series highlights the parents' conflict learning to deal with a disabled child.
General Hospital:  Soap opera crime boss Sonny Cor-inthos, played by Maurice Benard, is diagnosed with bipolar disorder during the 2006 season. (Benard is diagnosed with bipolar disorder in real life.) Sonny accepts his diagnosis and agrees to take his medication.
ER: Sally Field, as Maggie Wyczenski, endures major manic and depressive episodes, and must also face the implications of bipolar being inherited by other family members. The role earned her an Emmy.
The Mary Kay Letourneau Story: All American Girl: Mary Kay Letourneau, age 35, was a teacher, wife, and mother who had an affair with a boy age 13, in the seventh grade. After bearing his daughter, Letourneau was arrested for child rape. She was diagnosed as having bipolar, but reportedly did not take her medication regularly.

Additionally, here are some examples of portrayal of mental illness in some popular movies; many of which have won some PRISM Awards:

Michael Clayton:  Attorney Michael Clayton must deal with his colleague Arthur Edens’ apparent mental breakdown because of bipolar disorder. A client of the law firm is linked to toxic agrochemicals and Clayton becomes aware of a cover-up. As the plot evolves, Edens is assassinated in what is made to appear as his suicide.
Mad Love: In this teen movie, Matt Leland wanted a new girl, and falls in love with Casey Roberts, a woman whose spirit he admires. That energy is attributable to her bipolar disorder; he learns that she has been in institutions a number of times. Her love interest motivates her to continue her quest for treatment.
Sophie’s Choice: Jewish Nathan Landau “rescued” Sophie after Auschwitz, and he is plagued with incessant thoughts of the Holocaust. He abuses alcohol and suffers bipolar mood swings.

The Fighter

Holy Rollers

Iron Man 2

White Irish Drinkers

Winter’s Bone

All Good Things

Black Swan

Frankie and Alice


Mother and Child


Thanks to the research I did for this blog, I educated myself that things ARE getting better, but those Lifetime movies still have a LONG way to go. As do other movies and television shows that use mental illness as a way to create a reaction such as humor.

Bipolar Betty

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Little Humor Can Be Rewarding

I as well as anybody with a mood disorder, while depressed, find laughing and smiling at jokes that last thing on their agenda. Nevertheless, I think that this topic is important to discuss! While manic, it is common to be quick witty, increase creative ideas, along with providing tons of laughing continuously. Laughter can sometimes be more effective than medication alone.  However, I am not discounting those who are depressed and find laughter the last thing on their agenda.

While some folks diagnosed with depression find laughing difficult, I find that laughing at some of the strange behaviors of those with Bipolar Disorder can be a great way to cope!

Think about when you are in hypermania or mania mode. Sometimes it seems harmless. However, I have noticed people seem to flock towards my energy and life of the party ramblings. My ability to think of quick-witted comments, and respond with puns is very amusing. It is like drinking tons of alcohol and becoming inhibited. The difference though is that I am not drunk! I will say though the more manic I am the more I tend to spew out inappropriate comments!

I think people take things too serious with or without a mental illness.  Sometimes life should not be treated so seriously. Folks need to lighten-up and breathe, and enjoy, instead of being stressed out.
Below from multiple sources I found this joke:

  •  If you are Obsessive-Compulsive, press 1 repeatedly, being certain to touch the table and counting to 10 between each press.
  •  If you are Co-Dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you. ?...
  •  If you have Multiple Personalities, press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
  •  If you are Paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
  •  If you are Delusional, press 7, and your call will be transferred to the Mother Ship. ??If you are Schizophrenic, listen carefully, and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
  •  If you are Manic-Depressive, it does not matter which number you press since no one will answer.
  • If you have Bi-Polar Disorder, please leave a message after the beep. Or before the beep. Or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
  • If you have Low Self Esteem, please hang up. All our representatives are too busy to help worthless people like you.
  • And thank you for calling the Mental Health Hotline!

Again, this post is in no way discounting those whom are going through a rough patch; my goal was just wanted to provide a sense of humor!