10 Ways to ‘Reach Out’ When You’re Struggling With Your Mental Illness

Via: Let’s Queer Things Up!
Author: Sam Dylan

10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Illness

Via: Let’s Queer Things Up!
Author: Sam Dylan

I’m a mental health writer and advocate, and a suicide attempt survivor. I’ve told people on this blog many times, “Keep reaching out.” I’ve written multiple articles preaching the importance of vulnerability, defying stigma, and owning your struggles.

This is my whole thing, okay? This is what I do.

So when one of my closest friends died by suicide a few weeks ago, I wasn’t just shocked — I was completely gutted.

I thought there was never a question of whether or not my loved ones could reach out to me. But the very person who I’d talked to so often about mental health… didn’t call me.

Not even to say goodbye.

10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Illness 2
The last night I spent with them.

In the weeks following their suicide, my grief took me to dark places. I soon began having my own suicidal thoughts. And even then, when it was my turn to “reach out“? Even after losing my friend? I began to withdraw, too.

I watched, with painful awareness, as I did much of what my friend seemed to do leading up to their suicide. I wrote myself off as a burden. I isolated myself. I got lost in my own head. And despite knowing the danger of where I found myself, I said nothing.

After an especially scary night, I realized something: No one ever explained to me how to ask for help. No one told me what “reaching out” even meant.

As my grief began to snowball, I hesitated to tell anyone I was struggling, largely because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to ask for, and without knowing what to ask for, it felt too complicated and futile to ask.

“Why didn’t they tell me?” is such a common refrain when we talk about suicide or mental health challenges in general. It’s easy to make this remark, because “tell someone” seems like a simple request. But in truth, it’s vague at best.

“REACHING OUT” IS THIS SKILL WE’RE SOMEHOW EXPECTED TO KNOW, YET IT’S NEVER TAUGHT AND RARELY MODELED FOR US.

It’s this vague, hopeful sentiment that people throw around, without ever really defining it. What are we asking people to do or say? It’s not exactly clear.

So I want to get more specific. We need to be more specific.

I don’t know if an article like this could’ve saved my friend. But what I do know is that we need to normalize asking for help and talk about what that might look like, rather than pretending it’s a simple and intuitive thing to do.

Maybe then, we can reach people sooner. We can meet them more compassionately. And we can find better ways to support them.

So if you’re struggling but you don’t know what to say? I get it.

Let’s talk about it.

Tweet: 10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Health https://ctt.ec/4Rdb6+ “'Reaching out' is this skill we're somehow expected to know, yet it's never taught and rarely modeled for us.

1. “I’M (DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS/SUICIDAL). I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO ASK FOR, BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE RIGHT NOW.”

Sometimes we don’t know exactly what we need, or we’re unsure of what someone can offer. That’s okay; that shouldn’t discourage us from reaching out. It’s perfectly fine if you have no idea what you need or want — especially when all you can think about is how much you’re hurting.

Let someone know how you’re feeling. You might be surprised by the ways they offer to support you. And if they aren’t helpful? Keep asking until you find someone who is, or seek out a hotline (I know it can be weird to talk to a stranger, but there are some awesome hotlines out there).

Tweet: 10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Health https://ctt.ec/4Rdb6+ “'Reaching out' is this skill we're somehow expected to know, yet it's never taught and rarely modeled for us.

2. “I’M STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH AND WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING ISN’T WORKING. CAN WE (MEET UP/SKYPE/ETC) ON (DATE) AND COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN?”

Feeling helpless or exhausted is part and parcel for dealing with a broken mental health system. But a team approach can make it a little more manageable. Sometimes we need a cheerleader/researcher that helps us explore our options, especially when we’re having trouble believing that we have any.

One thing you’ll also notice is that, for almost everything on this list, I suggest setting a time.

This is important for a couple reasons. The first being that it helps the person you’re talking to understand the urgency behind your ask. It can also be helpful to know that there’s an event in the near future when you can expect to receive some support. This can help us hang in there when things get bleak.

3. “I DON’T FEEL SAFE BY MYSELF RIGHT NOW. CAN YOU STAY ON THE PHONE WITH ME/COME OVER UNTIL I CALM DOWN?”

I know this is a hard one to say. Because we often fear telling someone just how much we’re struggling, and admitting that we don’t feel safe? That’s a biggie. Obviously you can replace the word “safe” if it’s not working for you, but I always encourage people to be direct, because it’s the surest route to getting exactly what we need.

Asking someone to be present might feel especially vulnerable. It might not even feel like, in the moment, it’ll make that much of a difference. But you’re more likely to feel better with support than without any.

And remember, from everything we know about mental illness, depression is more likely to be a liar than a truth-teller (I talk about that a bunch in this blog post).

4. “I’M IN A BAD PLACE, BUT I’M NOT READY TO TALK ABOUT IT. CAN YOU HELP ME DISTRACT MYSELF?”

You do not have to talk about what’s bothering you if you’re not ready.

Opening up a whole can of worms might not be the safest or best thing for you in that particular moment. And guess what? You can still reach out for help.

Sometimes we just need someone to shoot the shit with, so we aren’t stuck in our heads, making ourselves a little crazy. This is a valid and healthy thing to ask for! And it’s a subtle way of making folks aware that you’re having a rough time, without needing to go into detail.

The sooner the folks around you are aware that you’re having a hard time, the quicker they can show up to help you through it.

Early interventions are so critical for our mental health. In other words: Don’t wait for your whole basement to flood before you fix a leaky pipe — fix the pipe when you notice the problem has started.

5. “CAN YOU CHECK IN WITH ME (ON DATE/EVERY DAY), JUST TO MAKE SURE I’M ALRIGHT?”

I cannot say it enough — do not underestimate the value of asking for a check-in. I am such a huge fan of this as a coping skill, especially because it can be super helpful for everyone involved.

If you take nothing else away from this article, it should be this: Please ask people to check in with you. It’s such a small thing to ask for in the age of texting, but it can help us stay connected, which is freaking critical for our mental health.

(If you’ve played The Sims before, remember the social bar? That’s you. You need to fill it. Humans need to connect with other humans. It’s not just about wanting to, it’s that we actually require it to survive.)

And this can happen in so many smart ways. A few of my favorites:

  • “I haven’t been doing well. Can you text me every morning to make sure I’m okay? It would really help me.”
  • “Hey friend. I’ve been kind of sad lately — do you maybe want to Snapchat/send selfies to each other before bed every night, just to check in? It’d be nice to see your face.”
  • “I’m in a funk right now. Do you want to be self-care buddies? Like text each other once a day something that we did to care for ourselves?”
  • “I’ve been isolating myself a little lately. Can you check in with me every so often, just to make sure I didn’t fall off the face of the earth?”

Add emojis wherever fitting if you want it to feel more casual (but really, you don’t need to, there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you need!).

Asking for people to check in with you when you’re struggling is just like buckling your seatbelt when you get in a car. It’s just one extra safety measure in case things get rough.

Both can actually save lives, too. Consider this a PSA.

6. “I’M HAVING A HARD TIME TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. I NEED EXTRA SUPPORT RIGHT NOW AROUND (TASK). CAN YOU HELP?”

Maybe you need help getting to an appointment or the grocery store. Maybe you need a cheerleader to make sure you took your meds, or someone to send a selfie to to prove you got out of bed that morning. Are your dishes piling up in the sink? Do you need a study buddy? It doesn’t hurt to ask for support around tasks like these.

Sometimes these things add up when we’re struggling with our mental health. But we forget that it’s okay to ask for a hand, especially at those times when it could really make a difference.

Being an adult is already challenging. If you’re going through a rough time? It’s even harder. We all hit a point when we need some extra support. Don’t be afraid to let folks know directly how they could support you.

7. “I’VE BEEN FEELING SO LOW. CAN YOU REMIND ME ABOUT WHAT I MEAN TO YOU OR SHARE A FAVORITE MEMORY? IT WOULD REALLY HELP ME.”

I used to think that asking for something like this meant I was “fishing for compliments.” And what a lousy way of looking at it…

Sometimes we need reminders that we matter! Sometimes we can’t recall the good times, and need someone to help us remember them. This is true of every single human being on the planet.

It’s such a simple request, too. If you’re the kind of person that feels nervous about making a big ask (again, I’d encourage you to challenge that assumption — it’s okay to ask for help!), this can be a small step in the right direction.

8. “I’M STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW AND I’M AFRAID I’M REACHING MY LIMIT. CAN I GIVE YOU A CALL TONIGHT?”

To be honest, it wasn’t until my friend died that I finally found these words in particular.

Up until that point, I’d never been sure exactly how to raise the alarm. You know, that moment when you’re not at the end of your rope, but you’re getting there? It’s a crucial moment.

Yes, you can and you absolutely should reach out then, even if you aren’t sure if it might make a difference (spoiler alert, people might actually surprise you). I think about how much pain I could’ve avoided if I’d saw that moment for the opportunity it really was.

Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind, the one that’s trying to tell you that you’re a little too close to the edge for comfort. Listen to that nagging feeling that tells you you’re in over your head. That’s your survival instinct — and it’s an instinct you should trust.

9. “I KNOW WE DON’T TALK MUCH, BUT I’M GOING THROUGH A TOUGH TIME AND I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SOMEONE I CAN TRUST. ARE YOU FREE TO TALK (DAY/TIME)?”

I wanted to include this because I realize that not all of us have people we’re close to that we confide in.

When I was a teenager, everything changed for me when I reached out to a teacher at my high school that I barely knew. She had always been incredibly kind to me, and I had a gut feeling that she would “get it.” And she did!

To this day, I still believe that she saved my life at a time when I had no one else to turn to. She connected me with a social worker, who was then able to help me access the resources I needed to recover.

While it’s important to be respectful of people’s capacities and boundaries (and be prepared, of course, if someone can’t be there for you or isn’t helpful — it’s not personal!), you might be surprised by the responses that you get.

10. “I’M SUICIDAL. I NEED HELP RIGHT NOW.”

Raise the alarm.

Raise the damn alarm, friends, and be as direct as you need to be. An emergency is an emergency, whether it’s a heart attack or a self-harm risk. Harm to you in any form is reason enough to ask for help.

I promise you, there’s someone in this world — an old friend or a future one, a family member, a therapist, even a volunteer on a hotline — who wants you to stay.

Find that person (or people), even if it takes time. Even if you have to keep asking.

Give people the chance to help you. It’s a chance that my friend deserved, and it’s a chance that you deserve.

(And if all else fails, I have this resource about going to the emergency room when you’re suicidal. I’ve personally been hospitalized twice, and while it’s not a ritzy vacation, it’s the reason I’m here today.)

PICK SOMETHING FROM THIS LIST. WRITE IT DOWN, EVEN IF IT’S ON YOUR HAND OR A STICKY NOTE. REACH OUT — BECAUSE NOW YOU KNOW HOW.

Hell, bookmark this article while you’re at it. I know I’m going to, because there are times when I need this advice, too.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, let me remind you that it’s never too soon or too late to let someone know.

And it’s never, ever too heavy, too messy, or too much to ask — even if you asked fifty times the day before.

I’d have rather had my friend “bother me” every day for the rest of my life than have to lose them forever. Their life was that precious.

And yes, so is yours.

Author Signature

SAMheart Hey there, friend. Before you go, I want to share some resources with you.

If you’re suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

You can also go to the emergency room. If you’re not sure if you should or how to prepare for something like that, I’ve got an article for that, too.

This isn’t just a generic “here are some numbers” plug, this is a “I want you to stay, we need you here, please don’t go just yet” plea.

Chris Alvaro And Lastly…

There’s a memorial fundraiser in honor of my dear friend, Chris Alvaro.

The funds raised will go to organizations that support trans mental health and racial justice.

This article is, of course, dedicated to them.

Topher, you’re still the brightest star in my galaxy. We couldn’t keep you safe. But I will never stop fighting for a world that could have.

Feature photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash.

©2018-2020 Let’s Queer Things Up!
Republished with permission

BIPOLAR: Mania Unraveling

Note: This post was handwritten (printed!) in a 4.75×3″ spiral notebook during the height of a full-blown manic episode. It is genius as you can see how crazy fast the brain was unravelling. My ending thoughts never made it onto the paper as I suddenly and instantly transitioned out of mania and into nothingness. The next day I couldn’t even find the notebook. The date was Dec. 15, 2016 and I have just now April 22, 2017, found the notebook and am about to read/type it for the first time since that night.

I hope you find it as fascinating to read as I was excited to be writing it! It is a long read. However if you get tired of reading it, just scrolling down you will see some of the magical brain unraveling over the course of writing it.
______________________________________________________________________________

Being in the full-blown manic state is living 100% in the moment, every single second. And your brain is more than fully engaged, it is hyper-engaged! I experience perhaps 5000 FABULOUS ideas, plans, and schemes from one second to the next and find myself living in the whim of whatever idea, plan, or scheme lures my engagement in that exact moment the thought crosses the neurotransmitters of thought.

This full engagement is fantastic! Sometimes I think that what we call today “bipolar” or “autism” or “asperger’s” are really not mental illness or handicaps but an evolution of our species. These different-brained folks have gifts that reach beyond those of the “average norm” of thinking and behaving — hold that thought for a moment and I will try to return to it.

I just now discovered through my current multi-leveled thinking or presence in all that is around me that I am handwriting this post in a 5×3 notepad! CRAZY!

Now back to topic:

WAIT!

I just recognized also that although 100% of my blog posts are stream of consciousness thinking and writing as organic as that is I am still writing one word at a time with no idea where the journey will take me… I always discover it after it is finished and i re-read it for typos, misspellings, and obvious grammar errors. And that writing now in this organic yet manic state that my thoughts are not meandering as much as is typical when I post. Frequently my posts change direction midway to my surprise, but this post is turning out to be succinct and on topic despite the million things I have thought of while printing this in my tiny 5×3 inch notebook!

Before stopping I want to emphasize the benefits of mania.

1. Hyperfocus
2. Excessive energy, drive, and motivation
3. Accomplishments, lots of accomplishments in a short amount of time
4. Having the ability to multitask like a supercomputer A.I.
5. All things are possible and therefore success and pride abound!

And those are just a few of the gifts that being a bipolar individual can bring.

Unfortunately manic phases, at least for me, are short-lived and divided by long periods of depression at the same level of intensity. Oh, and three side affects of mania are:

1. No sleeping
2. Constant talking, fast and loud — and for the record, I am not a talker. I am a listener. So that’s pretty weird, right?
3. I become fast and loose with money. In the past 24 hours I have spent over $200 on Christmas gifts to myself. Why not? I’ve earned them! I have had a helluva year and suffered through 8 to 9 months of varying degrees of depression.

Here’s my scale…

WARNING!!!

The photo is graphic and disturbing. Proceed with caution!

4-faces-of-memee | Memee's Musings
A snapshot of one person trying to survive in 4 different chemical bodies.

Phase one is deep depression.  Desires and longing for death; feelings of total and complete worthlessness; the absolute belief that I have nothing of worth to share with humanity (neighbors, jobs, communities) nor anything of value to share with my world (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances); the full and complete knowledge and acceptance in the fact that my life does not matter.  Life for those in my world will march forward without me.  My life has changed nothing. Not for them, not for the communities I am a member of, not for our country, our world, our galaxy, or the universe…

Which brings to mind this example of what life is like living in two different existences: String theory says there are multi-universes, meaning other dimensions of “us” with different choices and outcomes being made!  Wow, incredible! I live in two dimensions! Can you say that about yourself and have the evidence to back it up?  Because I do!

And another side effect is frizzy hair!  I am certain it is from lack of sleep.  The brain is not meant to shut down certain specific functions so it can restore out entire bodily functions.  It screws with our electrical output.  This particular manic episode has been interesting in that I am extremely jumpy.  I have “jumped” and heard my voice squeal in fright at least 20x today.  I am jumping at movement that does not exist…

at least not in this dimension!

The funniest was when my dog, lying on the floor about 4 feet ahead of me lifted his tail in a half-wag.  I jumped sky-high!  That’s a mile, right?  LOL, I crack myself up!

In fact, this happened today:  I had to drive into town to pick up some medication at the pharmacy.  It was snowing out but I needed it, I’d be out otherwise.  And if you’re thinking that’s not a big deal than you do not live in the Pacific NW.  Our snow here is not the same as back East or even up North.  It is extremely treacherous because it is in a constant state of transition of snowing, melting, freezing, snowing, melting, freezing.  It creates layer after layer of black ice.  And, to top it off, the majority of people out here don’t know how to drive in snow but that doesn’t keep them from trying; driving too fast, making last minute decisions, breaking, attempting to summit hills and traverse down those same steep hills as though they were on a waterslide.  Hey! I guess, they ARE on a waterslide of sorts! LOL.  Predictably and ultimately they slide off course ending up either crashing into other vehicles or in a ditch.  Surprisingly however, they rarely plowdown pedestrians who are not fool enough to risk life and limb to reach a goal.  I guess they’re not bipolar.

See what I did there?  I went off on a tangent not relevant yet related to the topic at hand. I just proved how adept I am at stream of consciousness writing.  I mislead you down an unknown path, which you followed and ultimately you arrived at the same destination: Bipolar.  From bipolar to driving in snow to bipolar again for those of you who may be feeling lost.  But don’t worry, I’ve got this under control.  This post is still tugging me stronger than the tens of millions of thoughts that have crossed my mind since we began. And I’ll prove it now.

When I arrived at the aforementioned pharmacy my hair became conductive!  It was literally reaching and grabbing at my face like static cling.  I couldn’t get it off my face!  I would brush it away or push it to the back of my head but it would immediately return to my face, tickling my cheeks, my mouth, my nose.  I know that when it snows the ion consistency of our atmosphere is significantly different than all other weather conditions which is why it has that unique smell which we all identify as “it’s going to snow.”  Now, it’s true we’re not accustomed to snow here in the West like the rest of the country, however,  that #fakescience #fakenews #conspiracytheory of #globalwarming is to blame for that.  Twenty-five years ago when I moved here it never snowed.  Now it is every year with a #bigsnow about every seven years which would be in 2019 as we did #shutdowneverything for the #snowpocolypse of 2012.  Which, I should mention, would have the rest of the world laughing at us.

— Quick break.  It’s getting very cold again so I’ve got to add another heater and pee… I’ve been holding it for a long time.  I’m going to go multitask for a moment and, if we are lucky, some other whim will not take my fancy and I’ll be able to come straight back and finish my train of thought.  I know I can do it.  I can do anything! #ThisLifeRules #ManiaIsMyFriend.

And by the way, the hashtags, yeah, that’s a behavior shift most definitely.  Be right back have a lot more to say.

I am very lucid right now and surprisingly do know exactly where I am going with this piece (and I don’t mean Letters to the Mind though I will most definitely share it with that community.  This article will definitely #furtherunderstanding about #bipolar and #mentalillness and take us on another step to #endstigma.  This is going to be powerful!

I cannot promise to return from my #peebreak but I can promise that if you keep reading you’ll gain greater understanding.  Okay, #peetime #pottyfirst #heatersecond.

Okay, I’m back! #ToldYou.

#Lying.  Stopped to put on a #Seahawk knit hat to cover my ears, slip on a cozy coat, slide on my fingerless gloves, and take 5 gulps of #AlpineRose chocolate milk. #MyFavorite.

#LetsGetReal.  I have seriously used up half of this notebook thus far so I also grabbed — and I am beginning to hear another whim increasing in intensity.  This #girlsgotgoals #livinginthemoment #truthbetold

Damn!

Oh yeah, better write this down!

Double damn!  #IHadIt

Whew! Got it back.  Took a few, I was #gettingworried.  But I’ve written my reminder so let’s #finishthisup.  This post is about the Four Faces of #Memee @Memeesmusings on #Twitter.  And I previously warned you about the image and have explained stage one or #Face1 which represents the words that the image tells and that’s the graphic part. #HardPartsOver #YouMadeIt

So, stage 2 #Face2.  This is the stage I pretty much live in. #TheBlahs

Hey! I just realized I’ve also already covered stage 4 #Face4

#Whew #We’reAlmostThere

#didIhearyou #sighaudibly?

Back to stage 2: The Blahs #FormerlyKnownAs #theduldrums

#archaic! also known as #WhotheFuckCares

Gotta love the modern English lexicon.

I am pretty sure you have a good idea about what this stage is all about because #everyonesuffers #fromtime2time  Here is what that looks like for me…

#ItsBad —

Oh, I remember something that I thought was important to include about the negative side effects of #mania.  #SoImportant!

There are two different kinds of #BipolarDisorder #formerlyknownas #ManicDepressive #Archaic

I suffer from Bipolar 2 (depressive bipolar with hypomanic episodes that last up to but do not exceed 5 days) with #rapidcycling.

#RapidCyclingMyAss!!

#RapidCycling doesn’t mean I ride a bike super fast all over the place.  However, that’s a pretty apt way to think of mania as one symptom is — I #gaveyouahint earlier

#AnswerKey:  Rapidity!

I know, I know, you’re feeling a little stupid right now.   That’s okay.  #IForgiveYou #I_Love_You  #My_Minion

#NothingCanGoWrong #ImManic

(You): #SighofRelief

I bet you thought because we had #alreadycovered faces two and four that this post would become #shorterthanotherwise #Sorry2Disappoint #I’mMemee.  I’m a Blabberer Not a Summarizer.

#Managing to #useitup #anyway #HavingFunDoingIt

#HopeYouR2

#LongReads are my #specialty #it’llbeworthit #IntheEnd #Ipromise

#StreamofConsciousness stops when there’s no more to say… Ugh-oh! #I’mManic  I talk incessantly.  I work nonstop. #WhatIDon’tDo is #SlowDown #FullStop

We may be in for the ride of our lives! I’ll try to #SpitItOut #Just4U

Oh grudge!  We’re still on Stage 2, The Blahs.  Sorry about that!  Stage 3 will be short, I promise. #Damn #LotsofPromises in this post!  #ForgiveMe please.

So what rapid cycling means is that I have —

Ooh, nevermind.

#IAmSuperSmart #Spontaneous #BrilliantWay to #KeepPromise to #SpitItOut. Here’s a #Snippet instead:

snippit bipolar

#MedsHelp

And that my friends is where I finally fell asleep 4 days after entering my mania and did not complete the post or deliver on my promises.  When I woke back up the mania was gone.  But if you read all of that, I’m sure you’re grateful to be done!

I do find it a fascinating read, seeing the mind in mania in action and evolving.

Here is the note I had written down to complete this article:

“Well, this did not turn out to be as succinct as I thought it would be.  But it is clear and cohesive. #Memeeforthewin!  You should have known that though because I am usually long-winded in my writing — well, except for my #FlashFiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 Faces of Memee: Bipolar Me

4-faces-of-memee | Memee's Musings
A snapshot of one person trying to survive in 4 different chemical bodies.

Hi all,

It’s been a long, long while. I have been suffering with bipolar depression in a very extended way lately. Some people who don’t understand bipolar have the misperception that we suffer both the depressive side and the manic side equally. We don’t. Also, we’re all different in our levels of functionality at the various phases of the disorder. So I’ve been down and out of the game. I am on a new medication, Latuda, and I think it may finally be kicking in. I certainly hope so! It is supposed to relieve the symptoms of Bipolar Depression which is a very big deal for me as I have never had relief from this phase and it is the phase I suffer from the most frequently as well as it being the most catastrophically impactful for me.

Anyway, the picture above was put together back in December at the beginning of a manic phase which I will be sharing with you very soon. During mania I have many brilliant ideas and am extremely active. Unfortunately the mania does not last long and when it burns off suddenly my activities cease and my plots, plans, schemes come to an abrupt halt. For instance, this article had the headline written and the picture uploaded, and even a link to some statistical data but no body. Fortunately, I know my main intent was to go over my 4 “personalities” (for lack of a better description) that I am constantly trying to adjust to and live with.

Left to Right:

  1.  Deep Depression.  This is where I have been for the last several months.  My days in this state consist of sleeping (escaping my problems, but also I am exhausted physically and mentally), crying uncontrollably for no specific reason, staring at the ceiling or blank wall sometimes with no thoughts registering in my head and other times inundated with only negative recriminations for  being this person (something I cannot control) that suffers this chemical imbalance of the brain.  I’ll get up to pee and return immediately to bed.  I mostly drink my calories during this time as I have no energy or desire to even pour cereal into a bowl to eat.  I will bathe once a week but don’t remember to brush my teeth and do not bother brushing my hair or changing my clothes.  I am completely shut down.  Inhuman. Some days I am afraid to be alone because I fantasize about killing myself.  I know that is not the answer and it is really not an option.  Besides, in this state I am frozen in grief and depression so I do not act upon thoughts.  I “just” terrorize myself with them over and over again.  Visualizing myself killing myself.  It’s not fun, believe me.  It scares me and heightens my depressive state.

2.  “The Blahs”  This is where I live the majority of my life.  I still have difficulty with hygiene most days.  I am messy and tired.  I have zero focus, zero attention span, zero interests, zero motivation , and zero drive.  I do nothing but zone out on the computer or Netflix day after day.  My mind is chaotic and so is the environment around me.  It’s better than the deep depression but it is no life.  A waste.

3. Happy/Balanced.  This is my goal persona.  It is who I long to be.  I enjoy friendships and can hold onto a job.  I feel like I am pursuing goals and making real change in my life toward becoming this person authentically.  I bathe bi-daily, I pick up after myself, I eat and sleep in a normal pattern.  I have a life and recognized the blessing it is.  I may even be able to have a romantic relationship again!

4. Mania!   I am awesome!  You are awesome! Life is awesome!  I have big plans and they are, no matter how far-fetched, attainable!  I just got to follow my plans step by step and I’ll do it!  I will succeed at anything I try and I will try anything that interests me!  The world is my oyster, my cake, my playground!

The 4 Faces of Memee: Bipolar Me stats1 | Memee's Musings

So who is susceptible to  Bipolar Disorder?  Statistics sourced through Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance says that:

Bipolar Disorder Statistics from BDSA

©2017-2020 All rights reserved.

The Goblin Known as Anxiety and Stress – by Lewis Bull

via Letters to the Mind
Contributing Author Facebook: Lewis Bull ; Twitter: @lewisbull92

Art by Hababoon

Though I’ve had anxiety for most of my life it’s not until the past 7-8 years that I’ve really begun to really suffer from it.

Four years ago was when it all really started for me, it was within this time that I became ever more isolated with anxiety taking its full control, from things like job interviews to daily walks into town I began to figure this is me this is how I am.

Along with this stress crept in too, again I figured this was just me being me.

From being overly stressed anxious/nervous in public places or even at home, this is the way life went for me for what seemed a lifetime.

Then at the beginning of this year I couldn’t handle the pressure being put on me anymore I quit job hunting, and for those months of doing gloriously nothing, it re-surged in probably its worst way, I gave in and started taking medication to handle it and am now on my third course of CBT this time intensive CBT and I can feel it starting to help and I started to realize there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

In terms of perhaps not completely not getting rid of it but instead I picture myself facing the goblin with a shotgun and seriously wounding it (I look forward to this day and what a picture it will be!).

This is Lewis Bull saying I will not let this control the rest of my life!

© Lewis Bull 2015


About the author:

I’m 23 years old, as child I had a moderate learning difficulty and went to a school for those who suffer from moderate to severe learning disabilities.
As my anxiety worsened I stopped attending family occasions (though I thought it was perfectly natural but instead later realised it was my anxiety), never have I indulged in typical teenage behaviour e.g. drinking or even just hanging out with friends instead I remained in anxiety imposed solitude.
After I finished 3 years of college, the first immediate thought was to find work, there in started my long battle with stress and anxiety, though I’ve always suffered from stress and anxiety it was in my later teenage years that it really became relevant, It was in the middle of this year that things started to change from seeing family who understand and sympathise with my issues and finding new friends who themselves suffer from anxiety and stress.
Facebook: Lewis Bull
Twitter: @lewisbull92
“If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me?” – Ronnie van Zant and Allen Collins of Lynyrd Skynyrd

☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀

Please, if your life is impacted by mental illness help spread awareness and understanding by writing to that illness and sharing it at Letters of the Mind blog project.

Click here to Contribute.

☀ Memee

Out of the Darkness

Ending the stigma against mental illness is a big part of my blogging.  It is why I share my own diagnosis and feature other people’s stories of mental illness; it is why I co-host a separate blog, Letters to the Mind, where other people can post their stories of living with mental illness.

If you’ve been following my blog for over a year you know that we suffered a great loss to suicide in August of 2015, which lead to a poem about that loss, three articles, and the #ASKFORHELP poetry challenge. One of my firm beliefs, as someone with a mental illness, and as someone who has frequently felt there was no way out other than death, I believe that Isolation Kills! And the only way I know to end the isolation is to talk, share, and educate those around us so that the fear for mental illness and those with it alleviates and we can become embraced by the rest of the world.

#askforhelp | Memee's Musings

I am sad to report that last month we lost another young person close to us to suicide, 14-year-old Nina.  It breaks my heart and indeed makes me angry that we live in a world where children are not carefree, where they have enormous stresses and not enough support systems (or fear sharing their struggles) that the only way they can end their pain is through suicide.

Suicide changes the lives of 1 in 5 people. That stat alone means this is common.  There is no reason whatsoever to justify families believing that struggles with suicidal thoughts, actions, successes or failures should be taboo and kept as “dirty little secrets.”

Yesterday I participated in our community’s Out of the Darkness walk hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I didn’t like being a part of the community, but it is a truth and my need to raise awareness to the prevalence of the problem is so much more important than my own personal comfort.  I cried.  I wasn’t alone though. Everyone there had lost someone or made attempts themselves.  We formed a team in honor of Baily and Nina and raised several hundred dollars toward  raising awareness, education, and the pursuit to end the stigma.

We all wore beads representing our loss.  I wore four bead strands.  Three for losses of friends/relatives and one for having attempted suicide myself.  Once we began walking the tears subsided and the mission began.  I will definitely do the walk again.

The first Out of the Darkness walk had 4000.  Now a quarter of a million people walk!  If you have lost someone or struggle with mental illness, or simply want to help raise awareness, WALK.  And support those who walk.  Thank you!

Bipolar Be Gone!

Hello, my friends!

You’ve been ever so patient with me (I think).  I mean, I haven’t gotten any hate mail from anyone for disappearing on you for so long.  It’s been four and a half months since my last post, the erotic flash fiction story entitled, In Our Little Yellow Tent.  It has been seven months since I was posting regularly… April of 2016!  I cannot say time flies or that it got away from me.  I wrote only one piece in May called Simply put that explained why I had been absent for a while:  I moved from California where I wanted to be, back to Washington, where I didn’t want to be; however, my mental health necessitated it. (If curious you can learn why in my posts entitled, Agonizing Turmoil and Persona Non Grata. But that wasn’t the big thing keeping me away from blogging, the big thing was depression and I wrote about how I was feeling at that time.  Well it never got any better. In fact, it only got worse.

This week I feel I have turned a corner.  You see, when I moved to California last year I went off my bipolar medication.  Not because I wanted to or thought I could. I just failed to seek out a new doctor.  Perhaps subliminally I felt that it wouldn’t last… the hopes and dreams I had about my future.  I mean, never in my life have things worked out the way I hoped they would.  But really, let me be honest here, rationally I know that is true for everyone.  But that is the thing with depression and especially bipolar depression.  It sucks everything out of you; literally everything.  Anyway, I started back on meds last month and they are finally kicking in.  I am also taking 600 mg of St. John’s Wort daily and use essential oil aromatherapy when I need an extra boost.

To read more about my bipolar journey please visit my bipolar posts category.

Rather than going into a long-winded account of how it all works I want to share with you, reblog if you will, from a wonderful writer who is clear and succinct (unlike me!) And although she lives in England we walk a similar life path.  I followed her blog regularly and when others wanted to understand bipolar better, I would send them to her blog. Sadly, she took it down many months ago.  Tonight I found a wonderful blog post she wrote about bipolar depression in my email and that is what prompted me to write to you this evening. Everything she says in this post is true of me except for the hallucinations.  Thank goodness I don’t have that on top of everything else.  Don’t worry though, I do plan on being here all week.  And have set the goal to begin doing at least one Flash Fiction story a month for the year 2017!  See, I am feeling hopeful once again and ready to go!  Or maybe I’m just hitting a short term manic phase.  That is, after all, entirely possible.  But I hope not!  Think good thoughts for me!

So with no further ado, I introduce you to my fellow Bipolar sufferer, Brighton Bipolar:

Bipolar: Depression

by brightonbipolar

Depression means different things to different people and everyone experiences their own personal low points with varying symptoms. As a Bipolar sufferer, my own struggles with depression are probably very similar to those many other people have to endure on a daily basis. For those without first hand knowledge of how difficult it can be to function in a depressed state, I hope my words can give a bit of insight into the darkness that clouds us both mentally and physically.

For me, depression can come on in waves, like a tidal change, slowly getting progressively stronger and threatening to drown me at any moment. One minute everything seems fine and the next, an all enveloping fog descends, giving the world around me a grey tinge and a sense of foreboding. It’s not always something I can predict or prepare for – Some days I simply wake up to find everything around me has slightly changed, like the world has tilted and I’m still upright wondering where the dizzy, sick feeling In the pit of my stomach has come from.

My Whole Body Aches – Depression can actually manifest itself as physical pain. It feels like I’ve run a marathon with every inch of my body aching, which makes walking around or even standing up very difficult. This is often accompanied by migraines or headaches, adding to the feeling of being completely drained and not wanting to move. Symptoms can be very similar to those of severe Influenza.

Chronic Fatigue – Coupled with the aches and pains, comes the overwhelming tiredness. Like being totally drained of energy to the point where simply getting out of bed seems too exhausting a prospect to even consider. All I want to do is sleep (during these times I sleep a minimum of roughly 16 hours per 24 hour period) and every day tasks like taking a shower or getting dressed are impossible without assistance (my husband has washed and dressed me many times over the years, when I simply don’t possess the strength).

The need for Isolation – Lacking energy and being in physical pain isn’t exactly conducive to socialising. At these times I have a desperate need to be on my own and fear leaving the house or having to interact with anyone. It’s almost like a phobia and the thought of going ‘Outside’ away from the safety of my home is terrifying.

Uncontrollable Emotions – When in a depressive phase my emotions are in chaos and I have very little control over them or how they manifest themselves. This results in violent, unexplainable anger at times or more often, uncontrollable bouts of crying. I don’t mean a few tears – but gut wrenching sobbing that can go on for hours without reason or warning.

Suicidal Thoughts – It’s during these dark times that I find myself wondering if the struggle is worth it. The idea of ending the mental and physical pain becomes a very seductive one and a lot of my time alone is spent planning and organising my own ‘Exit Plan’.

Self-esteem and Self-worth Simply Vanish – There seems to be no reason for my existence and I can see no positive aspects of my life at all. In my mind, I’m a burden on those around me and cause everyone nothing but heartache. Looking through the fog of depression I see (what I feel at the time is) the reality of my situation – I am universally despised by everyone and my life has no value. At times, I’m overcome by paranoid thoughts which can take the form of either aural or visual hallucinations, confirming in my mind, my way of thinking.

These depressive phases can, for me, last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or when in a state of ‘Rapid Cycling’ I can jump from depression to mania several times in one day. Trying to ‘Mask’ or ‘Hide’ my symptoms is very stressful, tiring and all consuming – I don’t doubt that the effort used to try to appear ‘Normal’ contributes to my irregular mood swings and general exhaustion.

No matter what others may tell you, depression is a serious condition which should always be treated with respect and understanding. Living with the symptoms can be as debilitating as those of many severe physical illnesses and should never be taken lightly.

brightonbipolar | June 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Tags: Bipolar, depressed, depression, mental health, symptoms | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p66ClX-2f

Original Blog entitled Bipolar: Depressed © BrightonBipolar, 2015-2017 All rights reserved.
Bipolar Be Gone! post © Memee’s Musings, 2016-2018. All rights reserved.

When Hopelessness Hits

1936 South Dakota dust bowl

I’ve spiraled down
and now I fear
what’s on my plate
is a fate
I did not anticipate.

I thought I had
an excellent plan
that would keep me
from residing in
your forsaken land.

I was wrong.
I could not evade
the plans you’d
already laid.

And now I see it
rising before me,
not the reprieve,
not the light
for they have
disappeared from sight.

What awaits me
is darkness and despair.
Lord please lift me out of here!

© MemeesMusings/B.L. Memee, 2016-2018. All rights reserved.

I originally published the above poem at my other blog, Letters to the Mind. Please consider writing to the mental illness that impacts the world you walk in and sharing it with our new community blog. The site was built in the hopes that other creatives who suffer from a mental illness or have a family member/loved one with a mental illness will write to the illness and post it on the site for two purposes.

The first is as a way to grow and challenge how we relate to our illness. In the act of writing to your illness you achieve empowerment. And the second purpose is to educate other people about the various mental illnesses that people live with every single day and how their struggles differ or are similiar to everyone else’s. With education comes understanding and with understanding stigma begins to fall ill and eventually dies.

For more information on contributing to the Letters to the Mind please click here.

We ALWAYS need contributors, any and all mental disorders welcome. No one is turned away and your own blogs, media platforms are cataloged and linked on the site.

Thank you,

Memee