I Have Shit To Say

Valuable Information or Just Crazy Ramblings: You Decide

I haven’t been publishing anything lately, actually nothing this year. I have written a million things. I begin talking about whatever subject I am thinking about at that given moment, and inevitably I stop. I either think its crap, or no one could possibly even care about what the fuck I have to say. 

The thing is, I do have something to say. I have a lot to say. I believe I am here on this planet to make a mark; to influence people in a way no one has before. 

Perhaps I have that bipolar trait where I believe I am more important than I truly am. Or, what if bipolar people truly have a message for the world. Who is anyone to say this isn’t true? 

We are only limited by our personal belief of what we are capable of. There is some debate as to whether Albert Einstein said these famous words… “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” 

This is a powerful statement. However, if we never think outside the box, we are limiting ourselves. We know we are adaptable creatures. There is proof of human beings being capable of seemingly impossible feats, simply because their bodies put them in a position, and they had a need. Good examples are Helen Keller, Ray Charles, and Beethoven. So I wonder what would happen if we could tap into areas of our brain whenever we want to. Who says we are not capable? 

I believe we can literally do anything we can imagine. The power of belief is extraordinarily powerful. If human beings can tap into abilities by merely believing they can, imagine the possibilities. We could move mountains as well as heal ourselves and others. We could be smarter, faster, healthier in our bodies as well as our minds. 

Imagine that instead of a person with bipolar disorder being treated as a sick person, they were treated as someone with unique gifts meant to help humankind evolve, or assist in our ascending into a higher vibration of existence along with the planet. 

Just imagine. 

Let’s retrain our brains. Let’s make new habits in the way we think. This is so vital for continued human existence and moving forward in human evolution. There’s a name for using these mind-body maps, and training ourselves to go beyond what science has proven we can do. Neuroplasticity: the  ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. These changes range from individual neuron pathways making new connections, to systematic adjustments like cortical remapping.

The only ones who can dictate what we are capable of, is us. 

So who says I can’t change the world? Not me. I believe I can and am working on it right now. Do you want to come with me on this ride? I sure hope so, because our world is changing drastically, right in front of us. Old ways of thinking are becoming obsolete. 

So where do we start? 

Meditation? Religion? Politics? Tai Chi? Yoga? 

I believe we need to link the body with the mind. The world continues to attempt to separate the body, mind, and soul. These things need to be linked. It’s vital. Find your connection to your ancestors, the planet, yourself, and the universe. However you need to do that, do it. 

Also, be mindful of what you ingest, the people you spend time with, the things which you find important.

Also, work your brain in different ways using neuroplasticity. Write with your less predominant hand, walk beginning with your less prominent foot, stand up straighter, learn about a new religion. 

Just learn. Think outside the box.

Think big. 

We will talk more about this. 

I’m back. 

The Spiral

I have recently had what some might call, a spiritual awakening. A series of strange occurrences took place which left me with more questions. Questions like, why me, why now, why this?

I asked someone who I admire and look up to, and they said, “why not you?”.

It’s obvious by looking at our world’s history that the way we have been looking at mental illness and addiction isn’t working. We have proof of that.

The “war on drugs” isn’t working, that’s  obvious because we are more addicted. There are more people suffering, more  families torn apart, more incarceration, more overdose and death since we imposed the war on drugs.

Mental illness goes along with the drug problem because the two often go hand in hand. Now we have also imposed the logic of the war on drugs into our relationships and daily lives and as a result, we are becoming more and more disconnected.

I heard recently that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection. Humans are social by nature, and when we don’t have healthy connections to each other, we form bonds with other things and sometimes those things aren’t healthy attachments. This form of connecting doesn’t stop at drug use; there are other forms like pornography, television, cellphones, along with various obsessive-compulsive behaviors people seem to get addicted to i.e. gambling, exercising, or cleaning.

I saw a Ted Talk recently about this exact issue. Johann Hari explains quite elegantly, that everything we think we know about addiction is wrong. He talks about the addicts in his life that he loves, and about how although it’s difficult, that he told them he wanted to deepen the connection with them. He told them he loves them whether they are using or not and if they needed him, he would sit with them so they aren’t alone.

Beautiful.

I first saw that Ted Talk in December 2019 with Jason and I knew it was something special. I believe that not only is everything we think we know about addiction wrong, but some of what we think we know about mental illness is wrong as well.

There has been so much progress in mental health over the past 50 years and we are definitely doing better; I’m not discounting all of that hard work and discovery. However, I can’t help but be bothered by a few important things.

When I was a little girl, mental illness showed itself for the first time in me through obsessive compulsive behavior. I washed my hands… ALOT. My mom freaked out. She has a degree in psychology, plus we have severe mental illness in our family genetics, so her first thought was, something is wrong with my baby.

My mom took me to see a psychiatrist who said it was no big deal. He said to buy me soap for sensitive skin and hand lotion and to tell me if I was going to wash my hands like that, then to use the special soap and lotion, and eventually I would stop, which I did. Seemed like solid advice to me…

I started thinking about the times we are in now and how although we are more aware of mental health issues, I’m concerned with the type of care people are receiving, and if it’s the best course of action to get the best possible outcome.

Sometimes, there is an actual imbalance in the brain, and medications are in fact needed. It has also been studied that trauma may in fact also lead to a change in our brain chemistry. The thing that frustrates me is that although sometimes medication is needed, its leaned on as a cure, when medication only suppresses symptoms. As of now, there is no cure for mental illness. We are left with symptoms we still have little understanding of.

I have been plagued with various mental illness symptoms varying in severity throughout my entire life.

Nothing really works. When it does work, it’s always short-lived. This brings me to think again, about human connections; and the fact that we are a more disconnected society than we have ever been, while problems with mental illness as well as addiction is on the rise.

I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Since I was given several mental health diagnosis, I have been looked at as crazy, over-emotional, spontaneous, anxious, the list goes on and on. What I need people to understand, is that when I began focusing on connecting with people on a soul level, many of my symptoms faded, some disappeared, and others became more manageable. I began to see my so-called problems and issues as a gift I have been given and began focusing my attention less on suppressing my symptoms, and more on how to tune in and listen. The results have been magical. I have been better equipped at facing whatever is making me feel uncomfortable, and finding ways to let it work for me, not against me.

I think a lot of this is well known to an extent, just not much is being done to improve our current system. With the expanding need for mental health and addiction services, people are often all put into the same categories, misdiagnosed, and given medication. When these approaches don’t work, the patient goes off of their meds, sometimes has psychotic episodes, hospitalized, stabilized, then they are expected to go right back into the system that failed them. That scenario is also a very mild one compared to how much pain and turmoil some mental breaks can cause so many people involved, not just the person in distress, but their loved ones, coworkers, medical professionals, police officers, teachers, etc.

I think it’s past time to try new approaches to these problems and see if something else works. I have a few ideas I plan to talk about in the future. Until then I just want people to start thinking about how our approach so far doesn’t work. I want people to think about what it is that makes them feel good, important, more alive. I think we need to start embracing that there are many different types of humans, each with unique gifts. Possibly, instead of suppressing what we obviously just don’t understand, why not try embracing these gifts, and focus more on social interaction, coping, and healing.

Just a thought…

Confession Time


Listen Up

Confession time.

Recently, I broke up with my boyfriend, many of you know. What I haven’t been talking about is everything he has been doing to get me back.

He has been busting his ass proving himself worthy to be with me. The bad part in all of this, is his standing with my family.

They all hate him. I’m not exaggerating either. They really, truly hate him. In fact, if you mention his name in my mother-in-law’s presence, you see a physical reaction.

My family’s disdain for this man has kept me from telling them about what he’s been up to, which is unfair to him, I think.

Most women bitch to their girlfriends about their man troubles, but I bitch to my family. This was a bad idea. They only know the very worst of our relationship and hardly any of the good stuff.

I didn’t tell them how difficult I was and how I pushed him to the brink when I was irritated. I left out all the months he took care of me night and day when I couldn’t get out of the bed.

I understand everyone’s concerns, but last time I checked, I’m a grown ass woman. Its crazy for me to hide like a kid when I’m 37 years old.

I admit that Jason has his share of faults and has even put me in danger in the past. That no longer occurs. 

I have also noticed people are very accepting of my type of mental illness, but not as accepting of his type so much. Jason has PTSD and not just any form, his comes from fighting and unfortunately, killing for this country. 

He also has some attachment and abandonment issues. Combine his mental illness, my hard headedness and willingness to push him to the brink of insanity, and it’s been a recipe for disaster in the past. 

We have learned how to handle each other in certain situations and the danger factor is no longer present. 

An argument I get a lot from my mom and mother-in-law, is how they can’t see his good qualities. To be fair, neither of them are ever around him. Their accounts of his behavior are based solely on me. I am not always a reliable source, especially when my emotions are involved. 

I am around him every day. I see his good qualities all the time. Not only is that a fact, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter if they see his good qualities or not. I do. I’m the one in a relationship with him and if I see his good qualities and want to have him near me, that is my choice. Period 

We are working this out, and it’s what I want. 

It’s Not Really About Me


I find myself in an all too familiar battle. With me.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m unsure of my purpose. Like I said, it’s familiar, but (whiny voice) I hate it!

Most people can be satisfied by simply conforming to society and cultural norms. The outline is get married, raise a family, work hard, go on vacations, try not to get divorced (although about 50% will) birthdays, graduations, retirement, and then the sweet bliss of death.

Most people find their purpose in there somewhere. They might have their purpose instilled in them through religion or what they have been taught.

We live in a culture that puts children’s needs above everything, so it makes sense that most mothers feel their purpose is their children. Not to mention the human instinct to provide, care, and nurture our babies.

Some might feel their purpose lies in helping others and spend their lives doing acts of service. Some folks live their entire lives only indulging their every want.

My purpose has always seemed relatively clear to me, with the exception of this particular phase of my life.

As a kid my purpose was clear. Be a kid, go to school, get good grades, hang out with friends, make out behind the bleachers.

At 19 I became a wife, and at 21 a mother. At that moment I knew my life was no longer my own. I lived and breathed for my son. Then along came my daughter 2 years later. I thought I had it figured out.

I was wrong…

Through a series of unfortunate events, addiction, mental illness and a nervous breakdown, my now ex-husband was awarded custody of my babies. I was so lost. What was my purpose now?

I met Keith.

It was love at first sight. We were inseperable all but 3 days a week when I stayed with my Mama to give him a break from me. I’m not even kidding. Apparently I’m exhausting.

His struggle with mental illness was conspicuous from day one. We had that in common, but we ended up balancing each other out. It worked.

I could never remember to take my meds, but he reminded me. If I was having a particularly hard time, he set them in my hand.

Keith needed a lot of care and I could always seem to take care of him, even when I couldn’t really take care of myself.

Both of us couldn’t remember our own appointments with our psychiatrists, but I always knew his and he knew mine.

He pulled me back down to earth and I intermittently pulled the stick out of his ass. You get the idea.

When Keith and I began seeing each other he told me he was drinking himself to death like Ernest Hemmingway. I just said, “Well, if that’s what you want. Who am I to interfere with your death plan?”

Eventually, he saw his purpose was to be a good husband to me and mine was to be a good wife. We got sober. We had the kids every other weekend and for the most part, life was pretty peachy.

Mental illness won its battle over my poor sweet husband and he took an early exit. Since his death I have had 2 prevalent phases of “what now”?

The first phase was my “Blue Period”. I was sad. I was so lost that I literally couldn’t breathe. It was like I had to learn a new way to inhale and exhale to remain conscious. Just, lost.

The 2nd phase is my “Pissed Period”. One day I was sad, and then I started thinking about Keith making the choice to check out early, and it filled me with rage. How dare he? He made a promise to me and he broke it. He didn’t simply leave me, he left the fucking planet. He left me to fend for myself and I was suddenly so alone.

I’m coming out of that phase now but still struggling with my purpose. I can’t accept that my life is to be an endless array of fucked up occurrences sprinkled with slivers of joy. Sure, the joyous moments although few and far between, keep me from checking out early, but I need to believe it gets better. I need a reason to want a late checkout with a continental breakfast.

I love my children more than anything, but they are with their Dad and awesome step-mom and although they love me, they don’t need me. That’s a fun fact I had to learn to accept.

So, my purpose? YOU.

I think I need to tell my story and to a lot of people. I want the stigma surrounding mental health to disappear. I’m gonna talk about it. I’m going to talk about the real deal.

No sugar, no bullshit.

If I talk to 5,000 people struggling in silence, and 50 of those people begin to feel someone understands and then 25 of those people ask for help, I have succeeded.

I will never stop. I found it, my purpose.

If you are one of the many suffering with depression, mood swings, mania, OCD, schizophrenia, or have no diagnosis but don’t feel right, please reach out. If you don’t want treatment, there are alternatives. You don’t have to live like this, and suicide causes pain you can not imagine to everyone stuck here. The world is not better off without you. That is a lie your mind has made up. If you truly feel you have no one, or that no one gets it, e-mail me.

sarah.jones@bipolarlivingtoday.com or
inside.my.manic.mind@bipolarlivingtoday.com

The ACE’s Quiz


My case manager and I were wrapping up a long session of the dreaded “treatment plan” update, when he exclaimed, “Oh, I almost forgot! There is a new quiz we have to do now!”

He was referring to the ACE’s quiz.

A.C.E is an acronym for “adverse childhood experiences”. The quiz was simple, but the questions were very personal and deep even for us and we are close.

It’s said that the higher your score, the more at risk you are for developing certain adversities later in life.

  • risky health behaviors
  • chronic health conditions
  • low life potential
  • early death

cdc.gov

It’s important to note that the presence of ACEs does not automatically mean you will have any of the aforementioned adversities. It simply means there is a higher risk.

I took the quiz and answered the incredibly personal questions truthfully, ending with a score of 7. I didn’t know what it meant so I looked it up online. A score of 7 is very high. I read with a score higher than 4, things start to get serious.

Click here to read about ACE’s scores and take the quiz.

I began researching deeper into ACEs after a discussion with my mother-in-law over lunch. She informed me she recently began advocating for schools to hire mental health professionals as well as give the ACE quiz to all students. What a fabulous idea. I love it.

My mother-in-law is a force, and I believe she can accomplish this goal. This particular platform means a lot to both of us especially after losing my husband, her son, to suicide. The idea is that the trauma is dealt with instead of sweeping it all under the rug. Not dealing with the issues, is what leads to the problems later.

My husband didn’t have many ACEs at all. In fact, he had a great childhood. He was just sick. With the inclusion of this quiz in schools as well as the presence of mental health professionals, perhaps even the kids who are ” sick” can get help sooner.

The only question I have about the study is why we didn’t have it sooner. I was under the assumption it was common knowledge that abuse and neglect as children affect people later in life. The main point I always heard was that children from abusive homes are more likely to abuse their own kids.

I also thought it was common knowledge children of divorced parents are adversely affected. Bring on the “daddy issues”. If these were statistics widely acknowledged, why in 2019 do we just now have this quiz?

The study actually began in 1995 with the first recorded results becoming available in 1998. I took psychology in college and never had it mentioned. Isn’t that kind of odd?

I am so proud of my mother-in-law for putting herself into this advocacy for our kids. It’s a big deal. She pointed out that since Keith’s death in 2017, me starting my blog about mental health is my way of giving back. I truly hope someone gains insight or simply no longer feels so alone after reading some of my posts. That is my goal.

Do your own research and educate yourselves further regarding this study, as well as take the quiz. I provided a link above.

The world has come a long way in understanding mental health and the effects of trauma. We still have a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere.