To take medication for a mental illness is a very personal choice. For me, medication has allowed me to live a life with some stability in my moods and has helped me to be a better wife, mom, and friend.
I have severe symptoms that do not subside without medication because I believe my brain is imbalanced with regards to certain neurotransmitters, such as Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine. There are side effects, such as drowsiness and weight gain, but these need to be weighed against the benefits to decide if the medicine is worth taking or not.
Some people can manage their symptoms with non-medication interventions such as counseling, lifestyle changes, diet, prayer and meditation, exercise, and journaling/keeping mood charts to stay on top of their mental health status.
It is up to the individual whether or not to treat their mental illness with medication and it is none of everyone else’s business to criticize what they decide to do.
Any thoughts? Join the conversation and leave a comment.
Stress is physical, emotional, or psychological tension felt as a result of an event or thought that causes feelings of frustration, anger, or anxiety. In short bursts, stress can be helpful, like in getting you out of a dangerous situation or helping you meet a deadline. When chronic, however, it can be harmful to your health and contribute to the development of conditions such as
High blood pressure
Depression or anxiety
Skin problems, such as acne or eczema
Common causes of stress include
Getting married or divorced
Starting a new job
The death of a spouse or close family member
Getting laid off
Having a baby
Having a serious illness
Problems at work
Problems at home
Signs of chronic stress include
Diarrhea or constipation
Frequent aches and pains
Lack of energy or focus
Stiff jaw or neck
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Use of alcohol or drugs to relax
Weight loss or gain
Sometimes stress can be managed by getting the right amount of sleep, talking problems over with a trusted friend, getting regular exercise and proper nutrition, and generally taking good care of yourself. Other times if you find yourself having panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed for weeks on end, or unable to function at work or home, you should probably contact your doctor or mental health professional for some help.
With mental health providers already in limited supply the increase in the need for services due to the stresses caused by the pandemic has made finding help extra difficult as of late. If you are just starting out with problems, your primary doctor or ob-gyn might be a good place to start. In addition to doing an initial assessment, taking a history and prescribing medication, they can refer you to the appropriate mental health professional, if needed.
The obvious way to find providers is to check your health plan provider list. Consider those outside your area who offer teleheath services via the phone or computer. This could widen your options quite a bit.
Seeing providers out of network or paying out of pocket may be other options to facilitate access to providers, which unfortunately are more costly and not possible for many people. Although, some providers may offer a sliding-fee scale for those who are self pay that allows them to pay based on their personal income and what they can afford.
If you or your spouse are employed, you can check to see if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) which is separate from the medical plan. Typically you can access counseling at no cost on a short-term basis. Check with your HR department.
If you are a student, take advantage of any free campus or university resources.
Your local church might offer pastoral counseling from a trained clergyman or woman which is usually free.
Some teaching colleges and universities may offer low-cost therapy provided by grad students who are supervised while they gain counseling experience. If there is such a school in your area, contact the psychology or behavioral health department and inquire.
SAMHSA is a government organization that is the go-to resource for locating affordable mental health care nationwide. Contact them at 1-800-662-4357 or online https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov
Online therapy is another option with chats with actual therapists from places like Better Help, TalkSpace or 7 Cups.com.
Theravive is a resource directory you could investigate for low cost therapists by state.
Open Counseling is another resource for attaining accessible care. The site indicates if providers are accepting new clients and many list their rates.
Open Path connects low-cost therapists to patients. I think you pay a lifetime membership fee and then get access to discounted rates on therapy sessions in the future.
You can also get professional help getting professional help by contacting NAMI support services. Call their helpline, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) to find a chapter or services in your area.
If your mental health puts you in an immediate crisis, help is always available by going straight to the hospital emergency room. All emergency rooms have access to psychiatric care.
Are you having trouble accessing mental health services? What are you doing about it?
Ten years ago today I posted my first blog here at Write into the Light. Ten years! I feel like that is such a long time.
I started off writing daily meditations because I couldn’t find any meditation books specifically written for people with mental illness or mental health issues. Over the years my writing has evolved from those meditations to journal-type entries and poems, to essays and opinion pieces, and finally, reports on mental health research articles.
Regardless of the type of writing I post, all of it helps me process and cope with my own mental health symptoms and I hope helps others with the same. Writing has been one of my biggest coping skills when it comes to my mental illnesses, hence the name of this site.
There were many months I was inactive and even full years where I only wrote a few blogs at most depending on my health status. Several times I almost closed the site down but I never did because even though I would go periods without writing, the stats showed that people were still viewing my posts on a daily basis. And I thought, if the blog was helping someone by just being there then it was worth leaving up even if I wasn’t adding anything new to it at the time.
Over the last 10 years I’ve written over 360 posts and have had over 44,000 visitors and 65,000 views. I have close to 900 readers on WordPress, a tad over 300 Twitter followers, 1200 and something Facebook fans, and 25 email subscribers. Definitely not a big outfit by any stretch of the imagination, but a small little part of the mental health community that I hope is contributing enough in a way that is making a difference in someone’s morning, afternoon, or evening every once in a while.
I wonder who is out there who has been blogging for ten years or more. I am in contact with no one from my early days of blogging because their blogs have been dead for years and I miss some of them so much.
I am happy to have found new bloggers throughout the years, however, and thank every one of you for taking the time to follow, read, like and comment on my posts. I appreciate you and always enjoy connecting with you.
If you haven’t already, please follow this blog or subscribe via email and
What a long exhausting week it has been. I’ve been sleeping like crazy and been generally unmotivated to do anything. I hate the feeling of being in limbo with no where to go.
I feel like a balloon that is a few days old, lost most of it’s helium and is just kind of suspended a few feet off the ground, barely floating around, pathetically living out the last few days of its existence.
I need a big wind to come along and boost me high in the air, twirling me up and around, giving me life and energy. I think most of my malaise has to do with the general state of the country due to the election and that I will feel much better and more grounded after it is decided. How about you?
In the meantime, I have downloaded a goal tracker app and have created some simple daily tasks for me to do so that I keep myself moving and feeling accomplished, while still allowing myself downtime to nap and indulge in my unmotivated moods.
What do you do when you’re feeling unmotivated and stressed out?
Bipolar is a mood disorder that is subdivided into two categories: bipolar I and bipolar II.
Bipolar I is characterized by at least one manic episode often resulting in a hospitalization. “A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts life.” (WebMD.com)
People with bipolar I also experience depression and often cycle between manic and depressive episodes.
Bipolar type II is similar to bipolar I in the cyclical nature of moods, however, full mania is not reached but rather hypomanic moods are more common. Hypomania often feels good with increased energy and mood and productivity, but can include distractibility and irritability as well.
Unlike in full mania, hypomanic behaviors are not out of control. Overall, depression typically dominates bipolar type II moods.
Do you have bipolar I or bipolar II disorder? What is your experience with it?
Part of combating a mental illness is making sure that you have meaningful activity to participate in on a regular basis. Even those without mental health conditions need to have meaningful, purposeful tasks in their life to make life worthwhile.
There are very few tasks that don’t involve interacting with other people. Even something as solitary as writing a book eventually involves submitting it to editors and publishers and dealing with them, as well as critics and readers.
As a result of my bipolar disorder, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, and severe social anxiety disorder, I have the most difficult time interacting with people. This limits my range of productive activities that I can do outside of the home. I cannot hold any job that involves interacting with others for any length of time outside of my immediate family. I do short stints of volunteer work, an hour here and there, and that is it.
It makes me sad to think my life will be void of being of sustained service to other people for the rest of my life due to my mental health conditions. However, I can do nothing else but accept this reality and move on.
I do take satisfaction in the fact that I can at least blog here and write about my experiences and provide information and encouragement to those who may be in the same situation as myself.
There are many factors related to the coronavirus pandemic affecting the mental health of people, with social isolation and fear of the virus being at the top of the list. Based on other pandemics and natural disasters, as many as 50% of people may experience anxiety, depression, and some post-traumatic stress symptoms.
If those without mental illness are having a difficult time right now, you can bet those of us with mental illness, particularly anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, and obsessional or phobic disorders are having an exacerbation of symptoms due to the current situation.
If you begin to feel anxious, irritable, worried, or are unable to concentrate or sleep, or find yourself abusing drugs or alcohol, you may want to reach out to your healthcare professional. If you’re questioning whether you should reach out or not, go ahead and reach out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you do not have a healthcare professional, call a hotline or a supportive friend to help you find one. Mental health issues are treatable and do not last forever. You can and will get better if you seek the help you need.
So tell me, how are you doing? I’m hanging in there. Where’s your head right now? Are you having an exacerbation of symptoms? What are you going through? As always, comments are open for questions and for sharing your experience.
Bipolar disorder usually consists of moods alternating between extreme highs, or semi-highs in the case of hypomania, and extreme lows, with stabilized moods in between. The highs can include symptoms such as:
Having lots of energy
Feeling high or wired
Having racing thoughts
Taking more risks
Needing less sleep than usual to feel rested
Having more distractions than usual
Having intense senses, such as smell and touch (Source: WebMD)
The lows can include symptoms such as:
Feeling sad, anxious, or empty
Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
Trouble with concentration, memory, or making decisions
Sleeping too much or too little
Gaining or losing weight
Feeling restless or irritable
Thoughts of suicide or death (Source: WebMD)
A person experiencing a mixed episode is having symptoms from the highs and the lows at the same time or in rapid succession with no break in between. This is a very disturbing type of episode to have and can cause much confusion and anxiety for the person. The person can, for example, feel depressed and tired most of the day with no motivation or hope, but still feel compelled to act out impulsively with regards to sex or spending money at times. They can be crying uncontrollably one minute and extremely happy the next. This can go on for days, weeks, or months.
Treatment usually includes some form of medication. Treatment by a doctor is definitely required as this is something that will not go away on its own and if left untreated carries an extremely high risk of ending in self-harm or suicide. Mixed episodes in particular are even more at risk of suicide than straight bipolar mania or depressive episodes alone.
The good news is with medication management by a qualified doctor these episodes can be arrested and a safe, healthy, happy life can be attained even with a life-time diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I am living proof of that.
Comments are always open for questions regarding my experience with bipolar disorder and how I’ve learned to manage and live positively with it after being diagnosed almost 15 years ago.