Calling for Submissions on Homelessness and Mental Illness

Hello! I have been super busy living life!

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Living life on life’s terms, that is. My children are not well, one physically, the other emotionally. My husband isn’t well physically either. As a result, I have had to take on a lot more responsibilities than I am used to around the house and a lot more outside of the house as well with doctor and therapy appointments. Fortunately, my medications and coping skills are working to keep my bipolar symptoms to a minimum.

It really is possible to live in a “recovery state.” Not that I will ever be cured of bipolar, but I can function for an indiscriminate amount of time without symptoms interfering with my daily living. It is possible for you, too!!!

By the end of the month, I hope to have a new issue of the Turtle Way Journal published. I have received a few poems on mental illness and homelessness already, so I am going to make that this issue’s Special Interest Section. If you have any poems, articles, or essays you would like to submit, please do so as soon as possible by emailing them to me at writeintothelight [at] live [dot] com

Thanks for your support! Please spread the word.

Are You Addicted to Chaos?

 

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Today’s post is by Laura Wills. She writes about addiction, which I have stated before is a form of mental illness. After one is no longer using his drug of choice and life is not as chaotic, he may feel uncomfortable with this calmness. I felt this way after I stopped drinking almost 11 years ago. I sometimes feel this way when my bipolar symptoms are at bay. While I am glad that my symptoms subside, life can become a bit boring without them. “Chaos Addiction” may be the reason for this, which Laura explains below.

Falling Out of Comfort and Into Chaos..?

Recovering from addiction isn’t a case of “just” weaning yourself free from substances, alcohol, smoking – or even gambling or shopping. It’s a multi-layered and complex approach that in itself can reveal more about the hidden problems and associations lying underneath.

Very often, people who are in recovery report that as their lives settle down and they begin to take stock, they don’t like the feeling that everything in their world feels as though it is going well, or too smoothly. Many say that they find it difficult to let go of the chaos and dysfunction that surrounds their addiction and therefore seek to try and find it in other areas of their life – such as possibly creating rows with their spouse or partner or keeping troublesome or worrisome situations in their working lives going instead of actively trying to resolve them. This kind of activity has a name – Chaos Addiction and it is something that psychologists are becoming increasingly interested in, in terms of addressing addiction issues.

Many people who find themselves falling into such a problem can usually find at some point in their lives they have been victims of it themselves, perhaps through dysfunctional parenting, constant arguments or even being exposed to addictive behaviors in the home. When they reach maturity they may find themselves adopting the same patterns – especially if they fall into an addiction (however, it does not necessarily mean they will fall into addiction, merely carry on the dysfunctional behaviors they have known all their lives.) For more information on this fascinating subject, you can read on here.

Are you addicted to chaos? Share your thoughts and experiences below.

Call for Submissions

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I am calling for submissions to Write into the Light’s literary-art emagazine, Turtle Way. A new issue will come out in April, so send in your work (i.e., poetry, photos, art, essays, opinion pieces, meditations, quotes, jokes, prose, and stories) asap. Click here for submission guidelines.

Meditation: A Cure for Depression and Anxiety?

Neuroscientists now have evidence proving what meditators have been saying for years: Meditation can improve people’s physical and emotional health.

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Imaging studies show that meditation increases certain areas of the brain responsible for memory and emotion. “Also the parts of the brain that respond the most to stress gets smaller with meditation. This means that anxiety and depression naturally fade with a meditation practice,” according to researchers.

I’ve been doing mindfulness and guided meditations using an app called “Insight Timer” on and off now for about a year, and I definitely notice a difference in my anxiety levels on the days that I meditate versus the days I don’t.  Although on many of the days I meditate, my anxiety level is already low because I tend to have trouble focusing long enough to meditate when my anxiety is high. Go figure!

I do believe the effects of meditation last me a few days and are somewhat cumulative in that sense. So, even when I meditate on a low anxiety day, it could be helping me avoid a super high anxiety day the next day or the day after that.

Meditation hasn’t had an effect on my bipolar depression levels, but maybe it would if I practiced it more consistently since one of my depression triggers is anxiety.  It’s probably worth a try, but to be honest, I have my doubts.

What about you?  Do you meditate?  What benefits has it brought to your health?  Or in light of this recent research, would you consider trying meditation?  Why or why not?

Light Therapy Box and Updates

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It’s been an interesting and exhausting month around here. At the start of October, I was struggling with my goal of quitting smoking, which has been back on track for the last three weeks. I was also adjusting to some medication changes since I was rapid cycling.

Currently, I am experiencing a downshift in my mood, which has me craving cigarettes again, which shows me that I really use them as a coping mechanism when my moods are unstable. I didn’t realize the connection to my mood instability and my cravings until I just wrote that last sentence, which goes to show you how beneficial and insightful journaling can be! Like I say, “Write into the light!”

I am sure I am not the only one who uses unhealthy coping mechanisms when their moods are haywire. On the upside, I use a lot of healthy ones as well, such as getting proper rest, talking with others, asking for help, exercising, taking my meds regularly and on time, keeping up on self-care and household routines, and improving my spiritual life. Are there any others that you can suggest? Two more that I can think of are eating healthier and participating in leisure activities or creative hobbies on a more regular basis, which includes this blog.

In an effort to do the latter, I have decided to not go back to bed after the kids go to school and sleep half the day away everyday. To help boost my energy levels, I have started using my light therapy box again for the first time all year.

For years, I used it everyday, even through the summer months. So, when I no longer needed it last winter I was thrilled, thinking on some level, “I’m partially cured!” Dragging it out again this week was disheartening because it reminded me that there is no cure for mental illness. It is chronic and, more often than not, its symptoms are recurring. However, having the tools to deal with them can make all the difference in the world.

I’m sitting in front of my light box as I write this post, and I am awake, feeling good, productive and motivated for the first time all week. That’s something, and I’ll take it!

Book Review of An Unquiet Mind

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I recently read An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison. It is an older book, published in 1995. In it, Jamison details her life events beginning in childhood through adulthood with Bipolar I disorder.

She focuses mainly on the mania part of her disorder and on the love relationships of her adult life, as well as on her experiences with lithium, the drug used to treat her bipolar disorder. Much detail is given to her academia life as a psychologist, and to her world travels as woman who never had children, making this memoir a bit inaccessible to me as a homemaker and stay-at-home mom.

Moreover, I have bipolar type II, have never been on lithium, nor have I experienced the extreme manic highs of Bipolar type I disorder, so I couldn’t identify with much of her story, making this book a bit of a disappointment to me and a waste of money for me.

However, if you have Bipolar I and long-term treatment with lithium, you will be able to identify with a lot of what Jamison writes.

Poetry and Risperidone

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These pills are like duct tape across
my mouth, silencing screams
clawing to get out.

Thoughts muted; rainbows
fade to greyscale;
playground ball deflated.

Pen suspended mid-air,
stutters at best.  Spittle
on an anorexic page.

And already…
The End
like premature ejaculation.
I’m so sorry.

A Letter to My Borderline Self

I came across this letter I wrote to myself while in DBT counseling for Borderline Personality Disorder several years ago. I hope it might help someone who is struggling today.

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By the time you were in high school you began to experience age-appropriate stuff, but through your parents’ eyes: friends betrayed you, boys used you, guilt was an effective form of manipulation, and you believed you were not worth protecting.

It was not normal for the adults in your life to behave like they did, and the adult world you observed as a child was now becoming your reality. You were no longer a bystander, but a participant. You no longer assessed how it felt by witnessing your parents’ chaos; you were now experiencing it first hand. You believed this was the world’s reality and thus, never entertained the idea that it would ever be any different for you. And your 40-something year old parents were way worse off than you.

The horror of each present moment and the shock of truly believing that life would only get more confusing, dangerous, and insane was so overwhelming and terrifying that you could hardly bear to open your eyes. So, you drank – a lot – which, of course, put you with unhealthy people in unhealthy places that merely reinforced your view of life.

You were not protected. You were raised in an unsafe and scary home, family, and community. Not one adult sheltered you. Not one aunt, grandma, cousin, family friend, teacher, or mentor. Not one. And I am so very sorry that you had to go through that. It wasn’t your fault. You deserved a safe, supportive childhood. You were worth it. You didn’t have to earn it or even ask for it. However, it wasn’t your choice to give. It was your parents’ choice, and like you in high school, they never even entertained the idea of doing things differently.

And the rest of what I just wrote can be written exactly again for them, starting with “the horror of each present moment…they could hardly bear to open their eyes. So, they drank – A LOT – which put them with unhealthy people in unhealthy places,” thereby exposing their children to a terrifying side of life, not thinking to show them the other side of life – the safe, supportive, sane, unconditional loving side. They didn’t think to tell me about it because they didn’t know about it; their parents didn’t tell them about it either. As much as it sucked for me, it did for them, too. Maybe even more.

Now, I believe that I am absolutely worthy of being loved and protected because God has proven this to me by leading me to a stable, safe, and supportive life, where the world need not be terrifying; where I can trust other women to not betray me. To make mistakes? Of course, but not to abandon me. And I can trust men to not use me (my husband proved that to me a long time ago.) I also know now that guilt is not a healthy tool to use on people and it is especially unnecessary around mature adults.

Finally, I am worthy of protection, and I will honor this worth and protect myself by: limiting my contact with unhealthy people; seeking out healthier friendships; focusing on positive self-talk rather than tearing myself down; sharing more openly and lovingly with those whom I trust; and avoiding conflicts unless it is necessary to protect myself or my children. From now on, it is not my job or my business to protect any other able individual, institution, group, organization, idea or belief or to convince anyone of anything if the price is my peace of mind.

Weekend Mental Health Writing Prompt – Afraid To Fail

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We are afraid to fail so instead we don’t try. How many things do you not try because you are afraid of failing?

Right now I am trying to stop smoking, and while a part of me feels like it is a lost cause because I have tried to quit several times in the past unsuccessfully, another part of me thinks, “But what if this is the time it works?”

Write about something you have tried and failed at, and then write about something you have tried and succeeded at, realizing that in life there are both failures and successes. The important thing is that we always try.

Make sure to link back to this post or comment below to share your response with others.

Weekend Mental Health Writing Prompt – Fathers

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In honor of Father’s Day, the writing prompt this weekend is none other than – fathers! Write about your father or grandfather or someone who was or is like a father to you. How did he shape you into the person you are today? In what ways, both positive and/or negative, does he affect your mental health? What is a good memory you have of him? What else would you like to write about him?

Link your response back to this post so others can find it or feel free to comment below. And Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!