Mental health stigma in the UK

I have also been following this horrifying trend of retail sellers offering offensive caricatures of “mental patients” as joke costumes. I hope that public outcry will serve to educate not only the retailers, but also the public, that caricaturing the mentally ill is no more acceptable than putting on blackface and an Afro wig. Much less acceptable, since “mental patients” are represented as intrinsically violent. Thanks savemefrombpd for publishing this excellent article.

The Adult Survivor: Remembering the Truth vs Longing for What Could Have Been

Mourning the loss of a mother I never had…”Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home…” and a home I never had. I have been mourning all my life, but only conscious of it for the past 30 (thirty!) years. Still I have gone back and back, tried and tried to appease with accomplishments (such a good, talented daughter), gifts, flowers, baskets (such a thoughtful, generous daughter) but what is lacking here? “Such a loving daughter.” Why? Because, in essence, since I don’t have a real mother, I can’t love her like a daughter. And that, too, I mourn, especially when I see mothers and daughters who are close, who share their feelings. My mother always told me, “I’m your mother, not your friend.” And now I think she regrets that. She wants me to be her friend, to like her, to love her. But since she was never a mother to me, there is no basis for that. And since her cutting tongue and unpredictable rages have caused me to always be aware of my boundaries and try to keep a healthy distance even when in her presence, she feels my distance as coldness, rejection, and as we know, certain people are extremely sensitive to rejection, real or perceived. So then she gets very sad, and cries, and I feel bad. But I know from bitter experience that the first minute I let her inside my boundaries, WHAM I will get smacked, verbally, or subjected to a screaming fit, belittled, mocked…so I keep my distance and mourn for the mother I never had.

The Invisible Scar

Some of the best content on The Invisible Scar can be found in the comments section of the various blog posts. In reading them, I’ve seen myriad themes emerging. One of the most powerful ones is an adult survivor’s longing for a loving family vs the truth of what their family is really like.

The desire to be part of a loving family; to have parents who are loving, supporting, and caring; to have siblings who love you and care for your well-being; to have family members who listen to you, who share themselves, who make your life happier by being in it (and who are happy in your being in their lives)…. All those are very human desires. Everyone wants those. Who doesn’t want to be loved well and loved for who they are?

However, as readers of the Invisible Scar can attest, not everyone gets that family. Yet…

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Feeling Suicidal? Change the Channel.

Things have been going in a dismal spiral that has been threatening to turn into a full-blown tailspin.  For the last three days I have ruminated night and day about death: fervent wishes for a speedy natural death, and in the absence of that, turning to my old faithful suicide plan, painless, tidy, nothing to clean up and nobody’s trauma.

There is no good reason for this, if you discount the deep spell of depression.  Here I am in the Holy City of Jerusalem at the holiest time of year, and especially now that it’s sukkot:  the happiest time of the year for us Jews.  So what’s the deal?

OK, so I have had to move twice in two months because of the bedbug plague that is sweeping the city.  Bedbugs get me down.  They give me more than the creeps, little bastards sucking your blood all night and hiding out in your underwear drawer during the day!  Chutzpeh!

I had the second apartment exterminated three times, each time involving leaving for 10 hours, then scrubbing the floors and all the surfaces multiple times so as not to poison myself and my dog.  Nevertheless I have had a nasty headache for weeks, which has gone away after moving to the third apartment which so far (please G-d) does not have bedbugs like the first two.

Along with all the other bedbug mitigation work, I have to wash and dry everything over and over.  Right now everything I own is on the roof baking in the sun (they can’t stand heat and drying), which was fine until it rained the other night.  I have not had the strength or ambition to climb back up on the roof and undertake damage control.

So circumstances are getting me down, yes.  It’s an overlay on the bipolar depressive phase.  But it could be deadly, because just a few hours ago I was planning when and where.

And then I broke my policy of strict isolation (because when I’m like this I am such a zombie, flat affect, flat voice, no reactions) that it freaks people out and is very unpleasant for me.  And if they’re people I like, I might just burst out crying and that just makes things worse.  So isolation it is, and yeah, I know, it’s not good.

So this evening a very special event was planned in my congregation in honor of this day being the passing of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, in the year 1810, who was a revered spiritual leader, and is the guiding spirit of many members of our congregation.  I had to go.  I wanted to see everybody, hear what the rabbi had to say (even though I only understand about every third word of his Hebrew) and generally be with my peeps.  I did not set myself a time limit: if I got uncomfortable, I gave myself permission to leave at any time.

Not only that: since my Hebrew birthday falls out tomorrow, I booked myself a massage tonight.  Yeah.

When I got to the party I was feeling pretty low and didn’t know if I would be able to handle it.  But there was singing and someone was playing a djembe (African hand drum) badly, and I saw another djembe that didn’t have anyone playing it.  Now, I happen to have studied djembe for four or five years, and played with an African dance troupe.   I have stopped playing because of severe issues with my hands, but since I was planning to die I didn’t care if I fucked up my hands more so I picked up the free djembe and warmed up quietly, getting the feel, and then the old feeling came back and I popped right back into the common West African dance rhythm BADA bada BADA bam, working the bass and the slaps and tones and rim shots just like old times.  And for some reason, I didn’t break blood vessels in my hands or hurt my two bad wrists or any of that.  And feeling the groove of the people singing and getting underneath the inexperienced drummer and giving him a boost so he could ride my wave was intoxicating.

I forgot all about suicide.

Then I went and had a 90 minute massage.

Now I’ve taken my meds and am going to bed, with a lot to think about.

I’ll think about it in the morning.  At Tara.  Or maybe in the Old City.

Love Languages Lost

I am a fan of Gary Chapman’s concept of 5 Love Languages.  His theory is that each person perceives and expresses love in one or more of five ways.  And they are:

-Words of affirmation

-Acts of service

-Receiving (or, I would add, giving) gifts

-Quality time

-Physical touch.

These are all equally weighted.  How it works is:  if I am a “Words of Affirmation,” person and you tell me I’m the love of your life, you’ve just hit one out of the park.

But if I’m a “Receiving gifts,” and all I get is an “I love you,” I’m gonna be thinking yeah, right, ya cheapskate, put yer money where yer mouth is.

Let me give you a personal example.  I am an “Acts of Service” person.  If you mow my lawn before I get home from what you know has been a hellish day at work, I will fall at your feet in worship  and drag us both into a much-needed shower, and what happens after that, happens.  The main thing is that you threw me into a typhoon of passion by mowing my lawn.  Got it?  OK.

Let’s hope the mower of the lawn is a “Physical Touch” type, and also a “Words of Affirmation” type, because if so, he would be so, SO rewarded and feel all warm and gooshy and happy down to the tips of his yummy toes that helped him mow my lawn.

If he’s a “Receiving Gifts” type, then after you get done in the shower and the bed you’d better hop it down to the mall and buy him a Rolex.  That will not only make him very happy, but it will be incentive for next time.  On second thought, maybe not the Rolex this time, because what will you give him next time he does something heroic for you?  The Queen Mary?  Some of us don’t have that kind of income.  So just take the dude to the mall, see what twinkles at him (bad choice of words), take him out to dinner and while he is absorbed in snaking pieces of crab meat out  with a teeny tiny fork, you slip out and buy the prezzie, and surprise him when you get back home.  (N.B. hope you bought enough lube.)

Dandy.  I learned about these love languages too late, after everything with the love of my life had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

We loved each other.  I mean, not just love.  We adored each other.  The sun and moon only went round and round because of our love.  We were stupidly, ridiculously, take off your clothes and dance naked in the kitchen crazy in love with each other.  And we were both in our fifties, fer cryin’ out loud.  That’s not supposed to happen.  But it did  And that’s, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, past tense.

It was the breakdown in Love Languages that tore us apart.

He loved verbal affirmations of love.  He would read me the Song of Solomon, eyes dripping with worship.  I have to say that although I was touched, I was slightly embarrassed by the sheer effusiveness of the whole affair.  I am a bit on the taciturn side, so I couldn’t help but conjure images of Don Quixote (reading) and Dulcinea (waiting for it to be over so we could go back to bed.)

I’m sure I hurt him by not showering him with similar paeans to all his wonderful attributes.  But I’m just not that kinda girl.

I soon figured out that what you’re supposed to do is figure out what your partner’s “love language” is and the GROW yourself so that you can give them what they need.  Fine and dandy.  But that takes time.  And in the meantime our relationship started looking like–you remember that Simpsons episode where it was Marge’s birthday and Homer gave her this super-extra-special-fine custom-made bowling ball, saying that he wanted her to come bowling with him every night so he gave her her very own ball?  And Marge is all like, “Homeeeeey, you didn’t have to…you’re so sweet…smoooooooch…..and then she sticks her fingers in the holes and realizes that they don’t fit her!!!  “Homey,” she says a little testily, “this ball doesn’t fit my hand.”

“Oooooh,” says Homer, “Let me see if it fits mine.”  And of course it does, because he really bought it for himself, not her.

At this point we want to pound Homer into a grease spot on the bowling alley floor, but really, these things happen all the time.  Homer was a Receiving Gifts type.  The gift he wanted to receive was a new bowling ball.  So since there was a gift-giving opportunity at hand, he capitalized on it to accomplish his purpose:  He both gave and got the ball on the same day!  Brilliant!

Yes, A. and I had just that kind of mis-matched Love Languages relationship.  I am an Acts of Service, as I’ve said before, and he is a Receiving Gifts.  I’m also Quality Time.  Big time.

Unfortunately, he had a divorced family that had extensive grounds with acres of lawn, shrubs, flower beds, whatnot; and he was unable to separate from his former marital task of groundskeeping even though he was divorced and on the cusp of being married to me.  While his former wife owned ten acres of groomed landscape that any country yay-hoo could have climbed on the lawn tractor and taken care of, oooooh no, it had to be my A.  And that meant that by the time he got home from his physically demanding job plus grooming the ancestral lands, there was no energy left over for helping me rip, hack, chop, poison, and tear out by the roots 7 acres of Muliflora Rose that had overgrown the old apple orchard I had recently purchased.  So every evening my Andy would come in and flop himself on the couch, and I stood there feeling like someone else had had my orgasm.  Here I was, cheated out of my Acts of Service and Quality Time.  Drat it all!

On the other side of the fence, I had to be constantly on my guard for small boxes.  This time it was his grandfather’s pocket watch, which he had had all cleaned up and engraved to me.  Another time it was an estate platinum engagement ring with a ridiculously beautiful diamond in it.  I only found out later that he was financing this and several other extravagant purchases by selling off his nest-egg of small land holdings.  He was a Receiving Gifts, and since gifts have never meant the sun and the moon to me, I would never have thought of buying him extravagant baubles.  So he did it himself, and gave them to me; and I’m certain that no matter how hard I tried to be overcome with, uh, whatever you get overwhelmed with when somebody gives you a very significant and expensive gift you didn’t ask for, I’m sure it wasn’t the response that would have filled that particular hole in his heart.

I realize that this was a reversal of the Homer-bowling ball-Marge transaction.  What was really going on was that A. was saying to me, “With my last dollar I am giving you these things of beauty and value.”  But what he really wanted was for me to give him things of beauty and value.

So I gave him a horse.  Doh.


You Throw Like A Girl

Tom the Fiddler and I noodled around playing fiddle-and-banjo tunes in his shack overhanging the North Toe.  We each had one eye out the window, watching for Andy the Guitarist’s old brown Ford pickup.  This was odd.  Andy was never late for rehearsal.  Music was his numero dos passion.  His numero uno passion was raising his two fearsomely intelligent, accomplished, and assertive daughters, in partnership with his fearsomely intelligent, accomplished, and assertive wife.

Finally the dear old truck rolled into the yard.  Tom and I put our instruments down and walked out to greet Andy, who was moving uncharacteristically slowly.

He had his back to us, as he got his guitar out of the vehicle.  Then he turned around.

His nose, generally a bit on the petite side, was first of all smooshed all over his face.  You really couldn’t tell where it began or where it ended, it was squashed so flat.  Then there were the two black eyes and the split lip.   Regardless of all this, he was grinning like a possum.

“Andy!  What the hell happened to your face!?”  Tom and I shouted in unison.

“Olivia happened to my face,” said Andy, grinning wider.

Olivia is his younger daughter.  She is a fast-pitch softball star.  She goes to fast-pitch camp every year.  At age 11, she was feared by every team in the region.

“The catcher was sick today, so I stood in.  Or rather, my nose stood out.  She lobbed one over and I was sure the batter was going to hit it, but she struck, and I didn’t have my mitt up, and, well….as you see….”  We stood around him nodding gravely.  We saw.  “Sorry I’m late,” he added, heading to the shack with his axe in hand.

“That’s OK.  I’m amazed they let you out of the emergency room so fast, though.  Was the ENT already there?” said practical Dr. Laura.

“Hell no, I haven’t been to the ER.  I can’t be late for practice.  I’ll let my wife the nurse practitioner deal with it when I get home.  The reason I’m late is that the ball knocked me out cold and it took awhile for me to come around, what with cold water on the face and ice bags, all that stuff.  I finally got right enough to drive, and high-tailed it over here.  Good thing I didn’t get a ticket to boot.  I have never been known to miss a rehearsal.”

Tom and I looked at each other and shrugged, and we headed into the shack and rehearsed same as usual.  We had a gig coming up, so we had to be on top of our game.  After we finished up, and Andy was putting his guitar back in its case, something struck me like a fast-ball.

Olivia!  How must she be feeling, having knocked her dad out and smashed his face into mush???

“Andy,” I asked anxiously, “What about Olivia?  She must be awfully shook up about this.”

Andy shrugged.  “Yeah, she was.  She does feel mighty bad about it.  She was crying when I came around after being knocked out, but you know what?  As soon as I could stand up I gave her a big hug, put my arm around her and said, “That’s the ticket, kiddo.  You throw like a girl!”

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business| American Association of Suicidology

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business| American Association of Suicidology.

Answers to Some Recent FAQs About the Invisible Scar

I’m exhausted from Yom Kippur, and this just came across my radar. The Invisible Scar is a blog dedicated to “Awareness and Prevention of Emotional Child Abuse.” They actually reach out more to adult survivors of emotional abuse and adult children of narcissistic parents. That is how I found them. I’m reblogging this as a resource for any of you who need it.

The Invisible Scar

Judging by our email at the Invisible Scar, folks have lots of questions about this site. So, we thought we’d take a moment to answer a few questions that keep coming up.

Is The Invisible Scar a professional organization?
No. The Invisible Scar is a blog with posts meant to help spread information about the prevention and awareness of emotional child abuse. This blog is meant to be a springboard for readers who’ve endured (or are enduring) emotional child abuse to realize that emotional abuse is not normal or acceptable and to seek professional help.

Why do you focus on adults?
This site focuses on both adults and children. We often address adults because most emotionally abused children will not actively seek help, so we reach out to parents to understand how to treat their children better or to adults who have suffered emotional abuse in their childhood.

Why do…

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It’s Wednesday again.  It’s Suicide Prevention Week.  So instead of my customary Wednesday Breaking the Silence of Stigma/Voices of Mental Illness interview, I’m going to talk about suicide.

Of course talking about suicide may be triggering to some people, so if you’re triggered by it, stop reading now.

I’m not going to talk about statistics or any of that stuff; it’s all over the Internet right now and you can easily access it for yourself.  This is a personal essay about my own dance with suicide, or as I prefer to think about it, leaving the planet on my own recognizance.

Life is finite.  We all have our time to be born, to live, and to die.  King Solomon wrote about that in Ecclesiastes, and The Byrds wrote the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on King Solomon’s Book.  Those are the constants of life:  Birth, the changes of living on the Earth, and the change of leaving the earth, whether in a natural way like disease or old age, or an unnatural way such as a car accident or a tree falling or a tsunami or something like that.  Or murder.  Or suicide.

Is suicide a variety of murder?  Some would say yes.  In my spiritual tradition (I have renounced the term “religion” because I no longer relate to it in that way), the soul is virtually injected into the body, to be taken back to its source when its mission on earth is finished.  Therefore the body is a vessel for the soul, and the human who embodies that soul does not own it and therefore does not have the right to prematurely abort its mission, because it has been assigned its mission by the Higher Source.  I can buy that, and that is a philosophical barrier to my leaving the planet before I am taken.

I think about it all the time, though.  There is not a day when I do not fantasize about leaving the unpleasantness that is my life.  For some reason, I have been given a life filled with sickness, pain, loneliness, failure, and trouble after trouble after trouble.  If I attain a goal, sooner or later it will be taken away from me.  I am not just feeling sorry for myself.  These are simple facts that boggle the mind.

I do have one joy in my life, and I am afraid even to write this, because I fear that my joy will be snuffed out:  I have a son who is the one and only reason that I remain on the planet.  I pray that the Universe lets me keep him, not so much because I would instantly leave if he disappeared, but that he is truly my one and only source of joy.

That is one of two reasons that I have not yet left the planet.

The other one is that many years ago I knew someone who took his own life, right outside my house, using my own gun.  It was a horrifying experience, and I was thrown into jail on suspicion of murder until his suicide note was found, analyzed, and found to be authentic.

When I got out of jail I returned to the spot where he had shot himself, and sat myself down on a stump that happened to be right there.  I meditated on his energy field, and he appeared to me: not physically, or visually, but I felt his presence very near.

He said to me:  If you are thinking of doing this, do not do it.  We are sent into our bodies to accomplish certain tasks, of which we are unaware.  If we kill our bodies, then are not relieved from the tasks.  We still have to accomplish our missions, which are now revealed to us; but without bodies to carry out these tasks, it is even more difficult than it was in life.  No matter how much you think you are suffering now, without a body your suffering will still exist, yet even more so because you will lack a physical existence, a vessel to contain you and make it possible to do your mission without further pain.

And then he left me.  I sat weeping, because I did not want to be here.  I was seventeen years old.  Now, approaching the age of sixty at the end of this month, I still long for the release of death, to be relieved of the suffering of this world.

My spiritual tradition tells me that the difficulties I experience are all symptoms of carrying out valuable spiritual tasks, and that the more of them there are, the closer I approach the clearing of spiritual blockages, so that my path to the “world to come” will be bright and clear.  I certainly hope this is the case.  I am not the kind of martyr who welcomes catastrophe for its own sake.  I don’t like it.  I loathe it.  I just want peace and quiet, and, if it’s not too much to ask, even happiness, even reasonable prosperity from honest work, even a brain that functions and doesn’t betray me around every corner.  And freedom from vermin, both many-legged and two-legged.

My suicide plan is beautiful.  It involves no violence, no overdoses, no trauma.  I won’t tell you what it is, because some of you might be tempted, and that would indeed be murder.

But, for the reasons I have stated above, it must remain only a fantasy, to soothe me when my brain is eaten with fire, or when another of my dreams goes up in smoke.

I wish for you, that you would never have to live like this.  I wish you joy and peace and love, or whatever it is that makes your life pleasant and delightful.

Voices of Mental Illness: Breaking the Silence of Stigma

Graham Shiels is the author of The Bipolar Place, and a partner in the stigma-fighting campaign, Faces of Mental Illness.  He is a husband, a mail carrier, lives in Livepool, England, and he is a Voice of Mental Illness.

BSS: How long have you known that you are living with a mental illness?

GS:  For me it’s not a simple, x amount of years, answer. I was first diagnosed with a mental illness when I was 22. That would be 13 years ago. However, I think I have had a mental illness as early as the age of 12 or 13. I remember crying myself to sleep nearly every night for what seemed like a year, but I didn’t know what I was crying about. I wasn’t aware back then I had a mental illness, but I also had the feeling that not everyone felt this way.

BSS:  Can you share with us your diagnosis/diagnoses?
GS: Depression & then later Bipolar Type 2.
BSS: When were you diagnosed with these?

GS:  As already mentioned I was diagnosed with depression 13 years ago. I was diagnosed with bipolar just over 3 years ago.

BSS:  How were they diagnosed?  Did you have any special testing?

GS: I was diagnosed with depression after my girlfriend (now wife) basically suggested I go to see my GP. Not so much, because I wouldn’t go, but more a case of I didn’t know what the hell was going on & I needed the help/push to get me there.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 10 years later. I saw a psychiatrist for the first time after I had thankfully failed in a suicide attempt. I’d basically decided, that if I was going to live through bouts of depression at least once a year, I’d rather not be here.

I wouldn’t say I had any special testing. I was only diagnosed with bipolar due to my history of depression & then the psychiatrist looking back through my medical details realised I more than likely had been bipolar for a long time.

BSS:  Was your illness diagnosed correctly the first time, or did it take time before the right diagnosis was arrived at?  Do you feel that you do indeed have the correct diagnosis now?

GS: I think I had been misdiagnosed with depression for a long time. Whether I ever suffered from depression or if my depression transformed into bipolar or if I suffer from both is anyones guess. I honestly think most of the diagnosis we have, linked to our brains, will at some point be re-evaluated. Simply because there is still much we need to learn about the brain. I’d be very surprised if when I’m in my fifties I’ll still be classed as having bipolar type 2.

BSS: Have you ever been hospitalized due to your illness?  How many times?  Do you think it helped?

GS: I’ve only been hospitalised when I took an overdose, but that was your standard A&E department.

BSS:  Are you on medications for your illness?  Do they help?  What about side effects?

GS: I take Sodium Valproate (mood stabiliser) & Fluoxetine (anti depressant). Yes I think they do help, but I’m a big believer in balancing it with healthy eating, drinking & exercise. I don’t suffer badly with side affects thankfully. Fluoxetine does make me sweat a little more than average, but nothing so it’s overly noticeable. Sodium Valporate can cause diarrhoea, but again I’ve not really suffered from it.

BSS: Have you ever had ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)?  How did it affect you?  Did it help?
GS: I’ve never had ECT & until much more is understood about the brain I would refuse it. I truly believe to use ECT in a time, where there is so much we don’t know about the how the brain works, is akin to the blind leading the blind.
BSS:  What other things do you do to help with your illness?  Do you go to individual therapy?  Group? Other things?  What, if anything, seems to help?

GS: Currently, I’m working as a postman which enables me to walk & cycle on average 4 hours a day. For me, exercise is just as important, if not more so, than the medication used for treating bipolar type 2. I’ve only been a postman for less than a year. Before this I’ve mainly worked in an office environment. The lack of exercise in an office job, meant I needed to try & exercise in a gym or by running & cycling outdoors. One of the problems with this is finding the motivation to do the exercise outside of work, when all I wanted to do was relax & enjoy my ‘down time’.

Since I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar I’ve reduced the amount of alcohol I drink. I’ve cut out drinking during the week & only drink at most, one bottle of wine when I do allow myself  a tipple. Alcohol is a natural depressant & so as I suffer more from the depressive side of bipolar it seems like common sense to monitor my alcohol intake. If I’m going through an episode of hyperness or depression I cut out alcohol altogether.

One tool I’ve learned,  which surprised me how useful I found it, is my Alternative Journal. It is a CBT tool that helps change how you think about the things you see on a daily basis. I was talking to a counsellor about how, sometimes, when I’m depressed, I struggle to see the positives that are there all around me. He suggested that I begin to log the things that make me happy in a day. Whether it be a stranger smiling at you, a kind gesture or something that made you smile. So it works like this: Grade yourself out of 10, then write down as many positive things that have happened (aim for ten positives). Read through what you’ve written & then regrade yourself. Hopefully you will feel a little more positive. However, I only really felt the full impact of this exercise after doing it for six to eight months. I now automatically  see the positives around me & pause to appreciate them.

Over the last 13 years I’ve seen many counsellors. In general they’ve been very helpful, but I can’t stress enough to be careful that you’re in the right frame of mind for counselling. It’s easy to go to counselling with the aim of helping yourself, but sometimes you just need to let yourself be. After all, picking at a wound isn’t the best way to heal it.

BSS:  How has your illness impacted your life (jobs, education, relationships, children, alcohol, drug abuse….._)

GS: I honestly believe the number of redundancies I’ve had (3), have been as a result of my illness. Of course other reasons have been given. Don’t get me wrong, I understand if you’re off work a lot because of an illness, at some point a business may need to cut back. I simply find it annoying that a company won’t just come out & be honest, giving the real reason. Or heaven forbid they actually allow a form of flexible working allowing me to continue in my job.

My education was certainly affected, both in school & university. I had no idea what was wrong in school & ended up leaving two years early, to escape the bullying & isolation I felt. At university I distracted myself with clubs, drinking & trying to have fun. This worked to varying degrees, suffice to say I enjoyed my time at uni, my grades did not 🙂

Relationships have been fine for me.  I’m lucky I have a great wife who has been with me for 14 years. My family is, well, complicated, but those I care about have been great.

I’ve never had problems with addictions to drugs. That’s not to say I haven’t dabbled in the lesser recreational stuff…but errrr… we’ll leave that there 😉

BSS:  Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your illness, or had to deal with disparaging comments, denied a job or other opportunities?

GS: Other than losing jobs, I feel were linked to my illness, I can’t say I’ve had any problems. Mainly because, only until recently, I’ve been open about having bipolar. I’m sure if I was open about my illness from day 1 I would have come across some discrimination. Currently I wouldn’t let anyone get away with disparaging comments, as I feel much more confident as a person & would be only too happy to point out the error of their ways 🙂

BSS:  If you could give advice to someone else struggling with mental illness, what would it be?

GS: Don’t struggle in silence. Be open with those you trust. If people would rather not be around you after you open up to them, as hard as that is, are they worth your friendship?

BSS: Anything else you’d like to add?

GS:  Don’t give up. The down cycles of mental illness, truly horrible as they can be, are temporary. You can get through them & enjoy your life. That may sound cliched, but I’ve found from my own experience, it to be true.

You can find Graham at his blog, The Bipolar Place, as well as at the helm of the Faces of Mental Illness project, currently found on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Auditory Hallucinations

They’re at it again tonight.  I can’t quite tell if it’s a Cajun band or some kind of carnival music, but it’s there, distant, but constant, like a party going on a couple of blocks away.  Only there’s no such band, except in my brain.  I hear music when there isn’t any.

My shrink thinks it’s definitely an auditory hallucination-type phenomenon.  I can’t disagree.

I think it’s related to the random phrases of music that I often hear, usually one or two measures in 4/4 metre that repeat themselves endlessly, populating my temporal lobes with maddening frequency.  They’re not phrases from tunes I know or have recently heard, just randomly-generated sequences, and not heard on any particular musical instrument or voice.  I keep thinking I ought to write them down or record them, and maybe at some point they might meld into some sensible piece of music.

But tonight it’s the gypsies playing in the background, far away.

I think it might be related to the fact that I cut my Seroquel dose in half a few days ago, because it was affecting my balance, my speech, my thinking….in effect, I was over-medicated.  So I guess if I have to choose between distant calliopes and stumbling idiocy, I’ll take the former.  But I must say, it’s annoying as hell.

If I do something to create “white noise,” then that gets turned into phantom music as well.  Ear plugs?  Nah.  Just makes it louder, as if it’s trapping the music inside my head.

The only thing that helps is to put on some other music.  Sometimes I put a long playlist on my iPod on “repeat” and leave it on all night.  That does help me sleep.  I’ll do that now.

Oh, brain, brain, why do you misbehave so?