Posted in Community, science

Changes, Changes, Changes

I’ve been absent from this blog, which was at one point my baby after I monstrously left MentalTruths.com to biodegrade in the internet ether. It seems I have a problem with deciding what I would like to write about. Anyone else?

I have taken hiatus from the mental health world. I’ve learned that constantly talking about my experiences has kept me unwell. I worked for almost five years as a peer counselor for at an adult residential discussing other people’s problems, and relating mine to theirs, and being a support, and it’s just been a really great way to distract myself from myself. It’s also been the most enlightening experience of my life. I’ve learned compassion and patience and work ethic and I am eternally grateful.

But it’s time to move on.

I will continue, on this site, to talk about psychological research and how it relates to what we see advertised to the general public (hint, it’s warped and embellished A LOT). What I WON’T be talking about as often, unless relevant somehow, is my personal experiences with voices, visions, depression, PTSD, or anxiety. If you are curious, you can reference other such great writings on this site such as : My Experience With Schizoaffective or February’s Scheduled Mental Breakdown.

I’d also like to focus on other topics of interests that I have, like fiction writing and photography and graphic art. There will be some structural site changes coming up that include new tabs for easy access to Psychological Research articles, writing articles, photography, and any other categories I’ll write about. I would like to create a community of many interests and hopefully full of some writers willing to share work with each other!

If all of this sounds interesting to you, please consider following ThePhilosophicalPsychotic, and also join me on Instagram @alilivesagain.

Any feedback or ideas are also greatly appreciated! What would YOU like to know about psychology research? (Disclaimer: I am not yet a researcher, but my bachelor’s is toward the field, and I’m considering my master’s in science communication. All information I provide on this site WILL be from primary, peer-reviewed sources, however).

What would you like to see a story about? Want to write one together? I’ve never done that before, but I’m open to it.

What kind of photos are your favorite? Do you do photography?

I welcome all and any comments, even if it’s just a heart emoji. People seem to like those.

Until next time.

Posted in Emotions

What A Bad Day is Like Part 2

I think one of the hardest parts of following a path of wellness after descending into a well of madness is recognizing and acknowledging our humanity. We are inherently not perfect. We are inherently cursed with a frightening amount of insecurity, duality, and uncertainty. Our confidence is easier to lose than to gain. Our bodies are fragile, even in their strength. Our minds hide things from us, trick us, and their true biological workings will probably never be fully understood. Physical nature limits us because our true nature, our particle make-up, is unlimited. That power would be reckless and uncontrollable in our physical reality.

Everything starts to feel insignificant after our re-entrance into this reality. That’s how I felt. It’s how I still feel.

There’s a deep sense of loss that can follow acute psychosis which outsiders often have difficulty understanding. Many people are resistant to thinking anything so terrifying can have positive results. This is why psychiatry is in the state that it is: coercive, power-hungry, and rather daft. Much of modern Psychiatry seeks to eliminate the “problem” (psychosis, depression, anxiety) while presenting the “solution” as normalcy, as lack of the symptomolgy they define. This isn’t obtainable; for years I chased their vision of a crystal city. Sometimes I still catch myself crying for relief. What breaks me out of it? Reminding myself that relief isn’t in the form of an absence of experience, it’s in the form of walking alongside those experiences.

The voice which has been instructing I kill myself had affected my mood, as such a thing should. I learned that I obey my voices and the messages I receive more than I thought. My psychologist seems to see this as a problem. I did at first, as well, simply because I was so unaware of it. After a few days, however, I’ve realized that there is power in sitting with a demon. I obey some things and I don’t obey others and that’s kind of how a balanced life goes: you make some choices, you don’t make other choices, and you keep following a path until you are where you need to be. She considered this voice in particular a problem. I do not.

This gets labeled as “denial” in the world of psychiatry, and that may have been the first word that rang in your head as well. This is not denial–which, ironically, makes this sound more like denial.

Instead, being on solid ground with voices, feeling rocked by them, rocking them back, is no different than being in a relationship that requires excellent communication skills.

Back to loss. The loss I felt when I returned home from the hospital in 2017 with a couple prescriptions and a zombie walk is indescribable. I wanted the euphoria back. I wanted that sense I was special, that I had purpose and a place in life that was so important to humanity that entities from another realm had to attempt to strike me down. I put my sadness and aloofness into art projects that consisted of wood carving, sketching, and getting lost in music. I walked often as well, usually 6 hours or so, across town and back. I people-watched. None of them knew how tiny and worthless they were in the grand scheme of things, I thought.

That sounds depressing and it was.

Researchers have been fighting over whether or not antipsychotic medication causes intense apathy after acute psychosis. You can find publications in journals galore about this, and some of them are free on PMC. Without evidence, I can’t say for sure either way. I can hypothesize, though, that the sense of loss, confusion, and shock that results as you’re introduced back into the world everyone says is real, might just make us a little unexcitable.

You guys, I don’t know what the point of this post is. I have some good points in there about loss, about voices, but I can’t seem to gather them into an organized thought today. I am struggling, and I was going to keep this in drafts. I’m thinking this is a part two to What It’s Like on A Bad Day.

Connect with me:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you liked this post, please share and follow The Philosophical Psychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to encourage critical thinking about mental health.

Posted in Uncategorized

Thank You!

I wanted to say thank you to all the new followers. I’ve been watching the numbers up-tick, but haven’t had a clear mind or space or time to shout out to all of you. One thing I love about writing a blog is meeting everyone in the blogosphere. So drop a comment below telling us about yourself, your reason for writing, and a link to your blog so others can take a gander at your passion! We want to hear from you! I know I want to hear from you!

I like the idea of creating a community within a community, especially during COVID when everything is so virtual. I mean, if you’re here in the US where social distancing isn’t cool and coughing on people is, then yes, everything is still virtual.

Share this post so others can also come and join the party!

Posted in Late Night Thoughts

Mental Health Month: Update #2

If this was a full-time position, I’d be fired by now.

I am struggling cognitively in a way that I haven’t in a few years. Writing is difficult. The post on Substance Use will be tomorrow evening after I get off work, granted my mind does not melt from my ears between right now (10pm) and 7pm tomorrow.

You all have been so patient with me, so kind, and have been thoughtful readers.

A big welcome to the many of you who have followed recently in these last three weeks. We will be on a grand writing adventure together.

Until tomorrow, friends

If you want to share your personal mental health experience (anonymously or otherwise) on my website, contact me on here or via my social media below:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

Posted in Uncategorized

Sunshine Blogger Award

Although I couldn’t put the man hours into the usual Mental Health Month blog today, I paused in writing a Case Study on Donald Trump (yes, it’s a real assignment) and blogged something fun. Thank you Caz over at mentalhealthfromtheotherside.com for nominating me. She writes about her experience with mental health, like anxiety, depression, and trauma, from a personal and professional lens. She’s a great writer and the depth of her openness on her blog is inspiring.

Now, I haven’t done one of these awards since I wrote on MentalTruths, my old blog I started in July 2015. I notice there’s been followers from that blog who have jumped over to this one, so if you all are reading this, you know my other style of writing is full of sarcasm, blunt humor, and, well, weird stuff. If you can’t quite picture what that means (I’ve been very formal on this blog), I implore you to read this piece on Clinical Arrogance, and any other piece. A laugh might be needed today.

What I do remember about these posts is that there are rules. And the rules for this one are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, because that is common decency here in the blogsphere and in life. Also link their blog so we may all find their wonderful writing.
  2. Answer the set of questions asked by the blogger who hence forth knighted you with this blogging honor.
  3. Nominate others, and ask them to answer new questions. They’re easy to come up with, I promise.
  4. Notify the nominees, of course, with a comment.
  5. Put up these gallant rules and don’t forget to display your badge of honor(the sunshine thing) on this post or your blog.

Is the Liebster blogging award still going on around WordPress? I’m so out of the loop now. Let’s answer some questions.

1.What is your say on an all-positive approach to life?

This made me giggle because you all know how I feel about this. I don’t believe keeping a constantly positive mindset is one that promotes health. I think it’s helpful to remember that a negative moment does not doom one to a negative life. I think it’s helpful to remember all moments in life are temporary, including ones filled with grief, pain, horror, and sadness. However, I think it’s equally as helpful to embrace the pain we feel as a species (like mortality) and as an individual (like our mental health conditions). Pain cannot exist without pleasure, and pleasure cannot exist without pain. We must give both attention to foster a balanced relationship.

2. What do you do in times of Writer’s block? Also mention any reasons for writer’s block.

I read my old writing, or I read other’s writing. What I haven’t shared yet on this blog is that I also write fiction stories and have a novel in the works. I haven’t had much time to work on my short stories, but after finals I will be spending out some for (hopeful) publication. It’s a dog eat dog world out in the creative writing sphere. I took to writing on Booksie some time ago, which I guess is kind of like saying “I’m a Wattpad author”, and that’s kind of the writing equivalent to when your friend calls you and says “hey bro, I sent my SoundCloud link, check it out.” I haven’t written on it for a while, but here’s the link. Yes, I’ve taken creative writing classes and workshops, and was published when I was 17. I didn’t get to go to the ceremony because I’d spent the previous night in the E.R from a panic attack and slept two whole days on the max dose of Ativan they shot me with. They told me it was Ativan, at least. But I slept two days.

I also simply let the writer’s block be. Some people like to force themselves to write but I don’t always have the mental energy for that level of discipline sometimes. If I want inspiration, I will go for a run, a walk, or a bike ride. Nature inspires.

3. Have you ever deleted a frank post, thinking it was too bold? What do you do if that happens?

Ha. Hahaha.

No. I will never delete a frank post. I never did my 5 years of writing on Mental Truths, and that blog tore into so many sensitive topics. I don’t believe people should be shielded. I remember one post I was very angry and I discussed my personal level of aggression, how I felt like I manipulated people sometimes, that I was, essentially, “an unfeeling asshole” and one person commented “you just lost a follower, you say you’re violent.” And I let them know they have every right to unfollow my blog, that they actually don’t need to tell me, and that I’m not a violent person, I am just angry in the moment.

The world is offensive. There is no need to censor that, but rather it can become a strength to acknowledge that, and a strength to know your limits. It’s not enyone else’s job to censor everything because of your sensitivies or your traumas. It’s your responsibility to put up boundaries against what you feel you can handle and what you feel you can’t. I do that often. There are some things that are too violent or sickening or scary for me to read about. I couldn’t watch the Aumaud Arbery shooting video. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be posted.

That also doesn’t mean go around purposefully disturbing people. That’s just sadistic. It’s a fine line, people.

4. Do you believe in planning?

Some things I plan. If I am going on a trip, I plan the time I’m going to leave and what I’m going to take. My boyfriend insists on planning activities, and I go along, but I prefer to have a couple things planned and a couple things not planned. I need flexibility in my existence.

5. What is the weirdest flavor or combination you ever found in a drink or snack?

7-up cake. Enough said. I was looking for the Mountain Dew cookies, though.

6. What is your most embarrassing moment?

In High School we had a substitute teacher in my honors class. He spoke quickly, and was a very boisterous, fun personality, and I hated that. He made me very nervous. When he suddenly called on me to answer a question, my anxiety caused me to speak in tongues. Nothing I said was a word. In fact, it came out like this: bleepsdhajfjpeajdjiepad. He said “oooooooookay” and moved on to someone else.

7. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

I own a cat, but I love dogs as well. I want both.

8. If you had the opportunity to pick one superpower for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

There are listed options, like time-travel, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, and invisibility. I already believe I have telepathy so I won’t touch on that. If I had to choose, I’d choose the ability to time travel. I feel I’d learn so much about the universe.

9. How do you cope with stress or anxiety? Any special tips?

The basic ways are breathing exercises, reminders, and exercise. I throw most of that out the window. Math helps me tremendously with anxiety. Any focused, intense task activates my executive functioning, the frontal lobe, and removes focus from my amygdala. If you want to get scientific about it. I’ve had anxiety since I was a toddler, so a lot of my coping comes from pushing through or using biofeedback (blood pressure, heart rate, e.t.c) to show my brain that my body isn’t as broken as it thinks.

10. Is the universe finite or infinite? And why do things even exist at all?

We are physical beings, made of matter. Matter is made of atoms, and atoms are simply condensed energy (once you get past all the tiny particles that make it up). Matter then, is condensed energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Many people have heard of the double slit experiment, where we learned photons and electrons can behave as both particles and waves. If you haven’t read a physics textbook though, you might not know that we can never know whether it is our measurement of the particles that changes its presentation or not. We can never know because when we take away an important part of our measuring tool: the camera with the light, we can’t see the particle’s behavior. Our physicality limits what we can learn about nature. That’s part of a paradox and part of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

And so, evidence points toward the universe being infinite, from our limited understanding of how gravity and other forces push through the universe. Will we ever know? Probably not.

Things exist and do not exist simultaneously. If there is a reason, it’s probably beyond physical measurement and therefore we can only speculate. Poorly.

11. If you had one week left to live what would you do?

Eat all the junk food. Reconnect with nature. Mull over mortality and the normalcy of it. Speed-finish my fucking book. That’s such a hard question to answer. I prefer having no clue about when I will die.

Alright.

Nominees. I will do 8. I need to get working on my homework. But all of you are worth nomination. You can still have fun answering the questions if you’re not listed below. I encourage you to, actually. (There are also listed blogs to check out on my homepage on both my current blog–this one–and my old one. Please check them out, they are all great people!)

1.Mellytheblogger.wordpress.com

2.mentallyillinamerica.com

3.collinmintz.wordpress.com

4.bipolarmermaidwriter.com

5.iammyownisland.wordpress.com

6.lampelina.wordpress.com

7.winterdrangonflies.wordpress.com

8.brittianismental.com

No pressure to participate, I remember these things being very fluid and fun. But if you do, here are your questions:

  1. Where do you get strength?
  2. Do you prefer tidiness or some chaos?
  3. What keeps you balanced in life?
  4. What’s one of the scariest moments of your life?
  5. What does writing do for you?
  6. What is your dream career?
  7. Would you swap your life for someone else’s?
  8. Where do you fit in this world?
  9. Any tips for fellow bloggers?
  10. Where will you be five years from now?
Posted in psychology, science, Voices

Mental Health Month: Schizophrenia

*This is a post dedicated to my Mental Health Month series, where each week we talk about different diagnoses, share stories, and ways toward wellness. Tomorrow we will cover Bipolar Disorder. If you have some experience to share for any of the topics we cover (or have covered), contact me here or on my social media handles and we will get you featured.*

Today we’re talking about schizophrenia and related diagnoses, one of which I have. I’ll share some of the things I’ve experienced and ways that I’ve dealt with certain aspects.

The reason Schizophrenia is now considered a spectrum is the wide ranges of experiences people have, and the level of distress resulting from those experiences. Our last DSM separated Schizophrenia into subtypes like “paranoid, residual, undifferentiated, disorganized, and catatonic.” I think it was a big sigh of relief when these boxes were removed. The DSM 5 now reads with these diagnoses:

  1. Delusional Disorder: This basically means someone is consumed with different types of delusions (like grandiose or jealous type) for at least one month or longer. If people do experience hallucinations, they are related to the delusions. Usually functioning isn’t as impaired at the same level of someone in an acute psychotic episode.
  2. Brief Psychotic Disorder: This is more like what someone would picture an acute episode: hallucinations, delusions, and some version of disorganization.
  3. Schizophreniform Disorder: I honestly thought they’d removed this a long time ago, but this is like a short-term schizophrenia; episodes are usually between one and six months long. This includes hallucinations, delusions, disorganization, and negative symptoms (apathy, lack of response, e.t.c).
  4. Schizophrenia.
  5. Schizoaffective Disorder: this includes elements of schizophrenia, like hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech and combines it with elements of a mood disorder, like depression or mania. The mood symptoms must be present concurrently with the top criteria of schizophrenia.
  6. Substance/medication induced psychotic disorder
  7. Psychotic disorder due to another medical condition.
  8. Cataonic conditions.
  9. Other specified Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder.
  10. And of course unspecified.

Are Psychotic People Dangerous?

The thing that gets misconstrued often about psychosis is the level of danger someone experiencing an episode poses. Of course there are cases of those lost in delusion acting aggressively. There are many more cases of abuse and violence against those in psychosis.

The thing that isn’t understood is that when we are in this fragile state, everything is terrifying. Your smile is terrifying–a sign you’ve been conspiring against us. Your tone of voice, your pitch of voice, your very existence in our world means you are, in one way or another, against us. Every person, television, web camera, corporation, government institution, is a hunter and we are the prey, frightened only because we’ve just realized this whole time people have been plotting to harm us. And suddenly every bad thing that happens, or has happened, every innocent mistake we witness, every abnormal movement becomes apart of that plot.

Not everyone is vocal and so obviously outlandish. I, for example, spent a lot of my time in my room with a blanket over my head playing Minecraft in the dark. I spent five or six days a week doing this. Meanwhile, one of my coworkers controlled mby body, blocked the thoughts she hated, inserted new ones, forced me to eat a bowl of cereal, hounded me until I did it. I couldn’t walk properly and I’d lost awareness of my body because it wasn’t really mine anymore.

I spent weeks playing Grand Theft Auto in a room piled so full of trash and clothes my door couldn’t open properly and I couldn’t touch my carpet. The sheriff managed to shove my door open, though. That was when the voices were keeping me up all night with screams and mocking banter and whispers. I sat rigid and silent, only answered their questions with “yes” or “no” even if they asked an open ended question.

My diagnosis is Schizoaffective, first diagnosed as Bipolar 1 and several other things.

What pains me is when I hear about people deep in their experience who trigger the fear in officers that they’re trained to have to protect their lives. One man, over 8 years ago, came at an officer with a boom. This officer knew of the man’s psychosis and still opened fire with 7 shots.

Another man, silent, mute, like me, but naked, walked along a highway in the middle of the night. A trucker stopped him, called police when the man, also diagnosed schizoaffective, crawled up on the roof of his semi. The cops, assuming he was on drugs, gave him a pair of shorts or something, called the paramedics who took his vitals. The Sargent then drove the man to a closed gas station and dropped him off. That man then wandered back to the same highway and was killed by a car that didn’t see him.

The Sargent’s defense was that he’d dropped the man off in a safe place.

Are psychotic people dangerous? Not usually. What’s dangerous is the situations made volatile by people who don’t understand.

What does Research Say?

I’ve written on this before (big surprise) and if you’re curious, you can read the post, “Is Schizophrenia a Brain Disease?” You may be surprised by the answer. If you frequently keep up with psychology research, not the pop psychology agenda, you probably won’t be.

Can People Live Normally With Psychosis?

Yes.

For some people that means taking medication or living in a group home where social skills and independence are prioritized. For others, this means getting off of medication or moving out a toxic living environment. For all of us, though, who choose some version of wellness, it usually means keeping a routine, engaging in consistent self-care, and learning to manage our experiences to the best of our abilities.

Not everyone hears voices 24/7. Not everyone’s voices are external. Not everyone’s voices are negative. Not everyone has visual hallucinations. Not everyone is hospitalized constantly, or for insanely long periods of time.

So what happens to those who don’t reach a stable wellness? A lot of people give up on those who don’t seem to present a lot of insight, as if it’s someone else’s responsibility to make them develop insight. I don’t want to say that stability isn’t achievable for some. What I will say is that the level of insight depends on many things: support, past trauma, current trauma (hospitals, police, doctors), self-esteem, general worldview. All of this gets distorted in psychosis, yes, but the foundation is the same. If someone has spent a lifetime in child abuse where intimidation, violent threats/attacks, and coercion dominates their perception, assuming even bizarre things like aliens probing their thoughts is routed in a feeling of lack of privacy, feeling intruded upon, and invaded. If those underlying feelings are never addressed, if only obvious positive symptoms (like hallucinations) are dulled, and that is called the ultimate progress, then that persons self-esteem, drive, and hope will suffer.

Much of the mental health system stifles the cultivation of wellness for those with psychosis in many ways.

Living normally can mean many things. It could mean working. But it could also mean just steady self-care. It could mean being satisfied. It could mean getting on social security disability and getting back into hobbies and cultivating contentment. It doesn’t have to mean what society wants it to mean.

What Are The Experiences Like?

This varies in intensity and frequency across the spectrum of Schizophrenia. Common experiences are auditory and visual hallucinations, olfactory (smell) hallucinations, tactile (touch) hallucinations, thoughts and feelings of being hunted, attacked, hated, and the reasons for these feelings are what become delusions–for example, if someone feels they are being watched, the delusion isn’t just the action of being watched, but why; the government has tracked their IP address, put bugs in their phones, turned their family against them. They hear the agents outside their window, conspiring.

Other experiences may include a severe drop in drive, motivation, and emotional expression. They may have an affect that is inappropriate, that doesn’t match what they say or the atmosphere of the room. This is the reason one of the top Google questions about Schizophrenia is “why do schizophrenics laugh randomly?” They’re hinting at affect, but also possibly voices. Sometimes they say funny things and we laugh. That’s a normal reaction to something hilarious, but on the outside it seems scary, weird, and bizarre. There is no scientific consensus to whether medication is the cause of these “negative symptoms.” If we get some studies that aren’t done by researchers with severe conflicts of interest (e.g grants from pharmaceutical companies) we may get a definite answer.

When I was on medication, I was more focused and aware of my surroundings, but I was tired and had trouble caring about things. Apathy can come after a psychotic break, especially a first psychotic break, and again, there is no scientific consensus on whether this is result of the medication blockading certain synapses, damaging them, or just a result of the brain restructuring itself after the break.

For me, my voices are often but not constant, internal and external, random, mocking, encouraging, and repetitive. I also hear familiar voices, such as friends or coworkers, particularly when I’m around them. When I worked at the local library at the beginning of 2019 (yes, I tackled two jobs) I often heard the boss and the branch manager discussing me. One afternoon in particular, I was shelving some books. I heard them giggle and the boss (my supervisor) said my name, followed by words I can’t remember and the branch manager said “well, what are you going to do about her?” very loudly, and when I whipped my head around, they were talking, smiling, laughing, and I couldn’t hear them at all. They were across the library.

I took my cart to a different part of the library, felt my heart racing, and tried to look at the event objectively. They were far away, I couldn’t hear them, and maybe they weren’t taking about me. But they’d said my name. Maybe it was something good. Or maybe they hadn’t said anything at all. Every day in that place was me psychically defending my honor. I quit abruptly four months into the job.

I also hear unfamiliar voices, strangers walking down the street. One afternoon, before I was hospitalized this last time I think, my boyfriend and I were on the wharf walking back toward the street. We walked past a couple, and the man growled “you better watch your back”.

This was when I knew there were people placed on the street to intimidate and berate me. I knew some were possessed by the same entities that wanted me dead. I spun around and I asked my boyfriend, “didn’t you hear that?” Of course he didn’t, and I stopped in the middle of the walkway, blocked it really, watching the couple, and spoke loudly; “that guy just told me to watch my back. He thinks I don’t know what’s going on, but I fucking do. They don’t know who they’re messing with.”

I don’t know if my boyfriend remembers this, he may not, but I remember the fear, the anger, and the uncertainty.

Some people see creatures, demons, devils, regular people, spiders. Some people feel things crawling under their skin or in their organs, or smell strange scents. I remember smelling a lot of weird, noxious fumes not of earth and fire smoke. I always feel like someones touching me, grabbing me, trying to pull me in a different world. I feel things crawling on me frequently(not in me thankfully) and I misinterpret a lot of my body’s signals.

All of these things together can be incapacitating, terrifying, and unreal in real way. I still think back on some things and don’t believe that any of it happened, that I made it up, and that belief often has my voices calling me a liar, that I’m some kind of malingerer and my therapist knows it, my coworkers know it, and it’s going to cost me my job and my therapist is going to put me in jail.

How ironic, right?

How Should I Respond?

If your friend, child, parent, or any other relative is experiencing an episode or is home, on medication, and still in the midst of psychosis frequently, panic is probably the most incorrect way to respond. The second most incorrect way to respond is feeding or attacking delusional, disorganized, or otherwise different behavior. Do not agree that the government watches your son, but don’t dismiss it either. Sometimes the underlying feelings of being watched are fear, mistrust, or anger. Address those.

Studies show that the involvement of trusted family members during someone’s hospitalization can enhance and support the person’s recovery. Show up, visit, learn what you can. My mom feared driving over the hill to the hospital I was at and so my boyfriend brought me clothes and visited. It would have been nice to have either one or both of my parents though, so they could not only see the extent of my fear and mental frailty, but also so they could get involved and be a source of comfort. It’s so hard to get them to be a source of comfort sometimes.

Most of all, respond with compassion, patience. Step outside of your world and into ours.

This post is so late (it’s 11:46 pm for me on May 14th) because I have loads of classwork and have been working full-time for the first time in my life. Adjusting to that is taking some time. And so tomorrow, later as well probably, we will cover Bipolar. If you have a story on any diagnosis and you’ like to share it here, CONTACT ME or reach me on:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you enjoyed this post, please share, like, and follow ThePhilosophicalPsychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to continue reporting poorly executed science.

Posted in advocacy, Community, Peer Support, Supporting Friends/Family, Voices

Broken and Crippled by Mental Illness

*A featured personal story for this MENTAL HEALTH MONTH series.

Some months after my relationship with the boys’ dad ended, I had what can only be described as a ‘break down‘. And that’s exactly what it felt like because, both physically and mentally, I was broken.

Anxious About Anxiety

I started to get these odd sensations; I could feel my heart thumping out of my chest and could hear it pounding in my ears. Lots of jumbled and disturbing thoughts races around in my head and I felt scared all the time, so I was constantly jittery. I was anxious about being anxious again and much of the time I felt like I was on the world’s longest and biggest rollercoaster.

Sometimes, there was so much adrenaline buzzing through my body, my nerves were jangling, and I couldn’t sit still, so I’d pace around my home. At other times, I felt exhausted or gripped vice-like with sheer terror so I couldn’t move.

Drowning in Quicksand

I was having what I now know to be panic attacks – throughout the day and particularly at night keeping me awake until it was time to get the boys ready for school. It felt like how people explained having a heart-attack. My fingers and toes were tingling, and I could feel the colour drain from my face. I was finding it hard to catch a breath it felt like I was drowning in quicksand, so I’d lie rigid until it passed, knowing it would be followed by another, and another.

It was torturous, twenty-four-seven, week on week and with no end in sight, I wished I was dead. Although close friends and family were aware of the break-up, I couldn’t tell anyone what was going through my head, scared they’d think I was mad and that I should be locked away. This was to continue for around eighteen months.

Help was on it’s Way

I’ll be eternally grateful that our GP eventually noticed and taking me aside, he urged “Tell me, what’s the problem? You’ve lost so much weight and though you smile, I think you are very sad.” Once I’d explained and told him that I was devastated by the break-up, he was able to get me to immediate counselling. He actually drove me to our local hospital where he knew the Psychiatric Team.

Fortunately, although I had suicidal thoughts, the psychiatrist and his team were confident that I had no intention of killing myself. I’d told them I knew I couldn’t do that to my sons. I couldn’t possibly leave them with that legacy. Three years of painful weekly counselling followed.

Return to Study

I was on the road to recovery when I realised I wanted to study but I wasn’t sure I was clever enough and I wasn’t sure what to study. I thought I’d test the water and start small, so I took evening and weekend courses in Shiatsu. This was quickly followed by Swedish Massage, Seated Massage, Aromatherapy and finally, Indian Head Massage, where I was trained by the blind guy who invented it (Narendra Mehta). I loved it and so too did my family and friends who I practised on.

I had the massage table, the massage chair, lots of fluffy white towels and a full kit of aromatherapy oils. However, despite passing my exams with distinction in all the above types of massage, I just couldn’t charge anyone. I didn’t like asking for money so all I asked in return was a fluffy towel or an aromatherapy oil.

In February 1997 I learned I was about to be made redundant again, which was fantastic as I’d seen a large advert in the Evening Standard looking for General Nurses to study at my local University and Hospital. This didn’t so much interest me but, right at the bottom of the ad, there was a few lines about becoming a Mental Health Nurse. It felt right, and I believed that my own experience of mental illness would help to make me a good mental health nurse.

My Recovery

So, during my recovery from, what I learnt was, a lengthy psychotic depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and anorexia, I applied to train as a Mental Health Nurse. After three long years of study, I worked successfully as a Mental Health Nurse in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I had the honour of meeting thousands of people who shared their chaotic and difficult life stories with me, possibly for the first time ever. I always felt humbled by their often-fraught experiences and journeys through mental illness.

Now Physically Disabled:

I remain extremely passionate about raising mental health awareness, I’m a determined advocate of mental illness and continue to fight the stigma, the social exclusion and discrimination that come with it.

As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.” – Paul Shane Spear

“Think of the enormous impact if just ONE PERSON improved the world of just ONE PERSON. That alone might change the world. And everyone in the world would be part of the change.” – Samuel Rozenhider

A big THANK YOU to Caz for her willingness to share her story about moving through anxiety. Catch her at THESES LINKS:

For tips on anxiety and panic attacks, you can use my link, here: https://mentalhealthfromtheotherside.com/2020/01/17/10-quick-and-easy-coping-techniques-for-anxiety-and-panic-attacks/

Or use my home page, here: https://mentalhealthfromtheotherside.com/

My twitter feed, here: https://twitter.com/hannahsmiley

Pinterest boards, here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/800444533760600123/

Read more about today’s anxiety diagnosis and research post for Mental Health Month

Posted in advocacy, Community, Peer Support, Supporting Friends/Family, Voices

The Line Up for Sharing Your Story this Mental Health Month.

Hello friends!

I have some time before work to put out the writing schedule of this months posts, all dedicated to learning more about DSM diagnoses and the research that backs them up (or doesn’t). I’m also asking for people’s experiences so that we may add a personal aspect to all of the clinical madness.

If you want to submit your story (200 words or more), you can find my contact information on my HOME page (click here) or you can reach me on my social media handles (below).

Each post will go live on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday each week of May. The Line Up is as follows:

Week of May 4th: Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive/compulsive and related disorders, and Trauma and Stressor related disorders.

Week of May 11th: Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and Dissociative disorders.

Week of May 18th: Somatic disorders, Eating disorders, and Depressive disorders.

Week of May 25: Gender Dysphoria, Neurodevelopmental disorders, and Personality Disorders.

On Monday, May 31st, we will give a quick summary, explore feelings that may come up, and find ways we can celebrate and inform people about mental health every day, not just one month out of the year.

For submitting your story:

If you would like to present something 200 words or more, your story will be posted separately from the main article, but on the SAME DAY as your topic. For example, if you want to submit your story about anxiety, it will be posted within an hour of the main post this Thursday.

If you would like to provide a quote or small paragraph (less than 200 words) it will be included in the main post at relevant points.

For both types of submissions, I can link your blog, social media, name, or anything else that you’d like. For longer stories, if you want to write a bio, I will put it at the end of your post.

Please share this information with friends, family, and anyone you feel would want to participate. If you yourself wants to participate, please contact me.

Social Media:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

Let’s empower each other and remind the world why we matter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Yesterday

For some reason, yesterday’s post entitled How Important Are Your Psychiatric Meds was posted as three hours earlier than when I actually posted it. This caused the post to show up later in the tag feeds. Some of you managed to find it, but not everyone. If you haven’t read it, give that link a click!

Today there hasn’t been a full post because I’ve been in and out of the local hospital with my father, to my own physical therapy appointments, and to a thrift store. Tomorrow I work and will be at the hospital in the evening, but will try and belt out a post on their WiFi network. It just feels ill NOT writing a post one day.

If anyone has any ideas of a topic they’d like covered, shoot me an email, comment below, or find me on my social media:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @Philopsychotic

How has January been treating you all? Hopefully a little better than it’s been treating me! 2020 is a year of transformation, and with transformation and understanding comes pain and hardship.

Posted in Uncategorized

Totally Inconsistent

My writing schedule has been all over the place this last week and I apologize to those who have dedicated time to reading these posts. I work two overnight shifts in a row (Sunday and Monday) regularly, but have also gained a new connection in the mental health sector who I am interviewing with, and am planning a trip to a national park this weekend, so it’s been a little difficult to squeeze in quality writing time.

So, posts may be later throughout this week and into next. Today, this late post will be about how to manage panic attacks, and how to work through them. It’s something I think many of us have experienced at one time and the feeling of being out of control and unhinged is almost like a trauma.

So, stay tuned! Do not give up on me yet.

I haven’t been posting as much to my Instagram handle @written_in_the_photo, or my Twitter: @Philopsychotic either, but come and follow me there for more discussion and funny memes. We all love memes, right?

Thanks to everyone for joining this site as a follower recently! It’s great to have you all on this journey with me!

If you have any topic you’d like me to write about, you can send me a DM on Instagram or Twitter, or find my email in my CONTACT ME page.

Remember, wellness is possible.

You are more than enough, and anyone who says otherwise has no conception of your true self.