bipolar Articles

Making News by Speaking Out…

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

2013-11-09 13.20.08Yesterday, a speech I made about fighting discrimination and prejudice against people with mental illnesses through changing the way we use language made the evening news and that’s why I’m back.

I’ve missed you and for months I’ve felt guilty about not being here. I’ve even avoided PsychCentral.com.

Here’s why:

  1. In April, my darling dog Riley died after a four month fight with kidney cancer. He never suffered, but he was only nine years old and he was my best boy, my muse. I adored this little fellow and I still miss him terribly. I stopped writing.
  2. One month ago, after months of excruciating pain, my husband Marty had a total hip replacement. He’s recovering beautifully, but it’s kept me really busy.
  3. There have been other illnesses in my family that have demanded a great deal of my time.
  4. I wasn’t thinking about mental health issues and my mental illness. I didn’t have time.

I felt I had lost my voice, that I nothing more to say…

I know these are not excuses to abandon you and my blog, but I was really beginning to think I had nothing more to offer in this forum.


Meet “Twitchy” – A Uniquely Inspiring Speaker With Tourette’s

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The World's Only Professional Speaker with Tourette's SyndromeSunday night, a LinkedIn request from a chap named Stuart Ellis-Myers popped into my inbox.

“Hi Sandy – I just spoke at the Winnipeg Mental Health conference – May I Please Link In with you?

- Stuart Ellis-Myers”

After connecting, he immediately followed up:

“Thanks Sandy
Winnipeg . . . . icy cold brrrrrrr
the conference focus was on suicide
I live with Tourette’s and the buffet table of disorders that comes along with the diagnosis so know the depression driven suicide experience well
The audience were awesome, everyone from parents, practitioners, government . . even a school district leader I shone the light of recognition for attending.
may I send you a YouTube shot from the conference? I just need your real email
mine is stuart@itwitch.com
cheers and all the best
would love to speak with you sometime soon
Twitchy”

The first thing that jumped out was that Stuart said he “lived with” Tourette’s rather than “suffered from” it. I loved that.

He signed his note “Twitchy.” I loved that, too.


It’s Time To Hit The Reset Button

Friday, January 4th, 2013

This past week I had the second of two cataract surgeries on my right eye – they’re doing this for younger people these days. The left eye was “done” a month ago.

This means I haven’t been walking my dogs or lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs. for weeks. I’m immobile. For the first time in years, my favourite exercise, walking my dogs, is verboten.

I don’t enjoy solo walking. Furthermore, the weather has been anything but walkable, so I’ve stayed home and fallen off my eating plan for my eating disorder.

I never weigh myself

Then, at my annual physical last week, I had a chat with my GP. I stepped on the scale backwards, so I couldn’t see the number. I didn’t have to. Although weight is one number you don’t need to know, I know I’m heavier and I don’t like the way I feel. I hate it.

My doctor didn’t recommend a diet, which for anyone with an eating disorder is a dirty word and a dangerous pursuit.

“Just get back on your eating plan and get out and walk, without the dogs if you must, but not too much,” she advised me sternly.

She knows how easily I can get obsessed and addicted to exercise, my form of purging.


Branding Psychotherapy: A New Quick Fix

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

In this morning’s New York Times magazine, former journalist Lori Gottlieb wrote a feature titled The Branding Cure, My so-called career as a therapist, about the dying practice of psychotherapy. As a newly minted psychotherapist, she sat in her empty office awaiting patients to flock to her door for her help. They neither flocked nor walked. They stayed away in droves.

No more traditional psychotherapy?

In an effort to find out why, Gottlieb discovered that according to Dr. Katherine C. Nordal in a 2010 American Psychological Association paper titled “Where Has all the Psychotherapy Gone? that psychotherapy as we know it – or at least I know it as 50 to 60 minute face-to-face sessions with a caring and knowledgeable psychiatrist or psychologist – is quickly becoming archaic.

Meanwhile, as “managed care” has declined dramatically, “pharmaceutical companies spent $4.2 billion on direct to consumer advertising and $7.2 billion on promotion to physicians, nearly twice what they spent on research and development,” Gottlieb reported from Nordal’s paper. Increasingly more and more patients are receiving medication only – 57.8% in 2007 or 30% more than 10 years before.

I find that shocking and sad, but I know it’s true.

Having lost my only kidney (yes, I was born with one) to carelessly monitored Lithium Carbonate back in the 1970s and 1980s – iatrogenic acute endstage kidney failure – I know that unmonitored medication can be perilous.

Nordal admits at the outset that “while medication is an appropriate part of a treatment plan for many mental health disorders, psychotherapy has been documented as the preferred treatment for many common psychological disorders.” I have learned that medication PLUS psychotherapy is the best route, but that is my experience. My psychiatric experience started in the 1960s, its dark ages with precious few pharmaceutical choices.


10 Reasons To Celebrate Aging…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Yesterday was my birthday. I’m not sad. Not manic, either. Just celebrating aging and a joyous day. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. It went on for three days, beginning Saturday. I had my hair cut. Very short. It’s a brush cut. I love carefree hair. Who has time to fuss with hair, so  every eight weeks, I’m buzzed.

2. Then, I met my closest girlfriend and we walked to a tiny perfect new sushi spot for a delicious Bento Box lunch. Very intimate. We had the place to ourselves. This is our annual ritual because our birthdays are three days apart, though I’m one year older. We exchange small gifts ~ I knit her a scarf in her favourite colours ~ and we celebrate our friendship. Without fail.

Getting Buzzed

3. Then I went home, worked for a bit – I never feel right unless I work everyday. We watched a great HBO documentary about Ethel Kennedy, made by Rory Kennedy, her 11th and youngest child born six months after the 1968 assassination of her father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.


Thanksgiving In The Great White North

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Okay. It’s not white and snowy up here yet, but if you’re beneath the 49th parallel, Canada is definitely north and in many ways, great.

For one thing, today is Canadian Thanksgiving, a national holiday that always corresponds to your Columbus Day, and a great season for thanksgiving, too. Harvest Time.

All over my neighbourhood, walking my two Dandie Dinmont Terriers today, I’ve encountered people harvesting or clearing out their gardens, a little prematurely placing Hallowe’en pumpkins on their porches and celebrating the splendour of the autumn colours. You have to see them to believe them.

This Thanksgiving Is My Happiest Ever

Last Thanksgiving, I was starving, skeletal and anxiously waiting to start an eating disorder program.


Day 13: Resisting Burnout

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

I’m very tired. Blogged out. My blog posts are not up to scratch, in my opinion.

I know because you’re not commenting and a blog is a community. Without you, where’s our community?

So this little post is simply an update to let you know that I’m not going to spend hours posting today.

Today’s a “mental health day”

During my 30-year career writing for a daily newspaper, for radio and for magazines, as a freelancer, I always took a day off from time to time. Everyone needs to recharge, reflect and refresh to continue to write, which is enormously taxing work.

Me, too. I hope you’ll understand

Never, ever have I published 12 days in a row, as I have here. And here, I’ve actually posted 14 times in 12 days. That’s a lot. You can get burned out at that rate. I need to prevent burnout.

Also, my blog posts average between 500 and over 1,000 words.

Ernest Hemmingway wrote 1,000 words a day. Would that I could write like Ernest Hemmingway – in my dreams –  a journalist before he became a novelist. He wrote for The Toronto Star.


Day 10: How My Dogs Keep Me Sane, Part One…

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

A daily blog post on mental health and wellness is a real challenge.

More than I imagined when I blithely began this blogathon on June 11 on a whim after reading about Margarita Tartakovsky‘s success on her 31-day blogathon.

I want to stay hard and close to my subject, Coming Out Crazy, but there are times when I long to digress.

And if the truth be known, craziness is a wild and woolly subject. We’re all crazy at times in our lives. Being a bit crazy is quite liberating, I think. So I hope you’ll understand if I share some of the strategies that keep me sane.


Day Nine: Distraction in Cabbagetown…

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Although I do not have any clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, I live with anxiety all the time. It’s my default mode, part of my emotionally sensitive complexion.

Today is one of those days.

Something’s going to happen…

Not here. Not to me directly. I’m worried about it and I won’t even be here to worry about it.

My anxiety and I will be traveling around downtown on the TTC again in the sweltering heat because that’s the way my life is these days.

Distraction is the best way for me to deal with anxiety…

I knit. I observe. I people-watch. I try to engage people in conversation, but very few people like to chat these days. People hate to pick up phones. I detest email. It’s toneless.

Conversation seems to be a dying art.

Later this evening, which is why I’m weighing in now at 8:30 a.m. with this post, I’ll attend a closing meeting of a charity for which I volunteer. Actually, it’s an evening to honour the dedicated teachers who work at the Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre (CCAC).

Volunteering is and always has been a part of my life. It’s important to feel part of a community even though, in this case, Cabbagetown is not my geographical community. I love being involved in community service.

And I love Cabbagetown


Day Seven: On Living “Beyond Normal”…

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

I just read Jenise Harmon‘s enlightening Sorting Out Your Life blog here at Psych Central.

It’s titled Live Beyond Normal and it’s one of today’s most popular.

It deserves to be and I urge you to read it…

Before I rhapsodize about her insights into that misunderstood word, normal, not one of my favourites, I read more posts by Jenise.

Thinking Outside The Box hit home for me.

“Everyone sees the world through their own frame, or box,” Jenise says. “Early on in life, people are given labels, told who they are and what is expected of them. They are ‘put in boxes.’ A teacher may label a student as gifted or slow. Parents see one child as the athlete, one as the smart kid, one as the comedian. Peers give the labels of stupid, ugly, dumb, fat, or loser.””But boxes, no matter how ornate or beautiful, are limiting.”

So true. So beautifully stated.


 

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