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Depression

Suicide Isn’t About Wanting to Die

There are many misconceptions when it comes to suicide. People believe that it is selfish, egotistical, and even immoral. To stipulate, I am speaking of suicide in the context of mental illness. I am not speaking about assisted suicide in the context of choosing not to fight a terminal disease or cases like in old spy movies, where the captured spy takes the cyanide pill.

As someone who has been suicidal and has worked with a lot of suicidal people, I can tell you with authority that the biggest misconception is that people who are contemplating suicide want to die. But if death isn't their primary motivation, what is?



General

Three Easy Steps to Becoming a Mental Health Advocate

I receive a lot of e-mail, direct messages, and phone calls asking me a variety of questions. With the exception of specific questions about living with mental illness, the most asked question has to do with my advocacy work or how to become an advocate themselves. While there is no guarantee what part you can play in the advocacy world, literally anyone can become a mental health advocate by following these three easy steps.

Becoming a Mental Health Advocate, Step One


The first step toward becoming a mental health advocate is to remove all expectations. I truly mean all expectations. Don’t expect to become the next Patrick Kennedy, Pete Earley, or even a well-read blogger like me or many others. You simply cannot know where you will fit in or how long it will take to reach any level.



Depression

Confessions of a Depressed Mental Health Advocate

I’m a mental health advocate who also lives with mental illness. I experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder just like anyone else would. Bipolar and anxiety disorders cause me to feel depressed, manic, anxious, and a host of other less-than-fantastic symptoms. Because of my status as an advocate, I almost never discuss the negative aspects of the disease as it relates to myself. When I do, I discuss it as something from the distant past. I have blogged before about how I have bipolar and anxiety disorder and I'm a  hypocrite and why I feel that is acceptable. Today’s article is going to be a bit different from my usual hopeful, inspirational, and educational offerings. Today, I am going to air my dirty laundry, because I am depressed and I need to share what that feels like to me.



Mental Health

The Downside to Mental Health Awareness Month

At its core, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time for people to learn more about mental health conditions and, ideally, seek out help for them. Mental health charities all over the country plan events, awareness rallies, and fundraisers. Media outlets run stories discussing the importance of mental health care and its role in our society. Social media feeds have memes, quotes, and generally positive information about mental illness. While the conversation is still mostly a quiet one – there is a definite conversation. What could possibly be the downside of that?



Mental Health Advocacy

What Does Enforcing Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Look Like?

There is a lot of talk in the news lately about “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” or “Forced Treatment,” depending on who you ask. Regardless of what you call it, the purpose of the legislation is to take someone who does not want treatment for mental illness and utilize the court system to compel them. Not every state has AOT laws and those that do have AOT do not necessarily have the same rules governing it.

As a person living with Bipolar Disorder, I have many opinions on this. For this article, I want to focus on what the process actually looks like when it’s enforced by the courts and ultimately the police --specifically in the state of Ohio.



Depression

Depression Symptoms or Sadness – What’s the Difference?

Of all the mental illness symptoms that exist, the one that is the most understood and misunderstood is depression. On one hand, depression and sadness share similar traits, like feeling down, low, or a loss of energy. Everyone, at one point or another, has experienced this. One should also consider that depression, as a word, has different meanings. It is reasonable to say, “I am depressed that my team lost the game” and also reasonable to say, “I am depressed and I can’t get out of bed.” Using layman’s terms, I’ll explain the difference.



General

How Do I Know if I Am Crazy?

In the world of mental illness activism, there are questions that have a way of coming up more often than others. The most common question, by a landslide, is, “How do I know if I am crazy?” I know what they‘re asking is how to tell if they’re experiencing the symptoms of a mental illness. I do take a quick second to correct the word choice. After all, I don’t like to be called crazy and I don’t like it when other people are called crazy, even if it’s self-referential. Although poorly worded, the question is valid: “How does a person know if they are in need of psychiatric intervention?”



Mental Health

Magical Mental Illness Syndrome

Living with mental illness is a tough experience under the best of circumstances. Dealing with people’s ignorance of the disease, managing symptoms, and even paying for treatment can cause even a person without a health challenge to snap.

Once I was well into recovery from bipolar disorder, like so many others, I started doing advocacy work. I currently make my living as an activist, speaker, and writer and it is my job to openly discuss what it means to live with mental illness. I’m not shy about sharing the difficulties of managing bipolar disorder or the unfortunate mistakes I’ve made along the way. Does simply having mental illness make me an inspiration? Shouldn’t I have to do something?



Anxiety

Mental Illness Crisis at 35,000 Feet

While on a cross-country flight recently, I witnessed a woman with mental illness, who was clearly in crisis, try to enter the cockpit of an airplane. The chain of events that led to this started in the back of the airplane, where I was sitting. This gave me a clear vantage point to witness a young woman walk from the front of the plane to the back lavatory and attempt to enter. She struggled with the door for a moment and the flight attended let her know the bathroom was occupied and she needed to wait her turn.

The woman, clearly confused, responded that no one was in there and the door was just stuck. I looked up and could see the anxiety in her eyes, the confusion and fear radiated off her as clear as day to someone, like me, who has experienced panic and anxiety attacks before. The flight attendant let her know that the front lavatory was open. The woman started to cry, gasp for air, and whimper unintelligibly, but headed for the front of the airplane.