Breaking News

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These are dark days for America. Liberty is at risk. The very concept upon which our nation was founded is being challenged by a man who, at all turns, has been unreasonable and immoral. The cronies he has gathered by his side only help support his narcissism. I read an article yesterday, with questionable ethics, that diagnosed Trump with malignant narcissism. It is the most accurate assessment of the man to date, in my opinion. Gallup polls reported that he has the lowest approval rating and highest initial disapproval rating since the Eisenhower days. Protests have erupted around the world in opposition to his latest executive orders. Those of us who are anti-Trump, and I firmly stand behind that position, anticipated that he would cause massive troubles in his first year, but he has caused an international crisis and it is not even February! Last night walking around campus I came out of the library to find hundreds of protesters in the quad chanting “no ban, no wall,” among other things. The President of my University sent out a school-wide message that denounced the actions of President Trump because it threatens the very values upon which the school was founded and the status of our international scholars, both students and professionals. Continue reading “Breaking News”

Living with Depression

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Living with depression, or any mental illness, is challenging. But what happens when you live with someone who is suffering? That comes with its own set of challenges and obstacles. It’s even more fun when both parties (or all parties) have mental illness. I think the key to all of it is patience and empathy. It is frustrating beyond belief to watch someone you love sink deeper into a hole, sleeping all the time, missing deadlines, skipping things. You just hope they will decide to change something. It can be doubly frustrating when that person refuses to get help. A lot of people have biases against mental health professionals, against medication and other treatments. And when you’re in the throes of depression, it can be hard to start those processes, even if you’re not biased against them. Continue reading “Living with Depression”

Positivity!

 

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I go through dips in my mood pretty regularly. I’ll have a few days in a row that are absolute misery, and after that I’m fine. Right now I’m going into a dip and trying a new way to take my meds to counteract it. It’s making me a little sleepy. Luckily I don’t have much homework this weekend so I don’t have to push through the discomfort and get stuff done. I did have to par down my social schedule, but they understand. Continue reading “Positivity!”

Moods and Psychiatrists

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I feel like my main state of mind is “conflicted.” Yesterday I just took the day off, even though I needed to be at an appointment. I couldn’t get there. I’ve been getting my stuff done for school, taking care of the dogs, etc. The usual. But I think I’m heading into a small downward spiral. It leaves me with this feeling that I want to be around people and do things, but I equally want to stay home and be alone. It becomes fairly paralytic. I’m going to do my best to fight through it. Pdoc and I decided that I should take extra abilify when I feel these episodes coming on, so I’m going to try that today and see what happens. I got mildly manic the last couple of days, which makes the dip that much more noticeable. I hope the abilify helps because I really do not want to have to add another med into the cocktail, even if it’s just for patching things up sometimes. The trouble with all these meds and these episodes is that it makes me foggy and destroys my ability to pay attention. My best time of day is right when I wake up. I seem to be clear minded and able t to focus. That’s when I try to write and get my homework done and whatnot because I don’t have faith that I will feel the same way later in the day. My mood is so changeable, even through the meds, less so than before but enough to make certain tasks difficult. Continue reading “Moods and Psychiatrists”

Suicide is Contagious

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I’ve received a number of troubling e-mails since I enrolled in school. Since December, there have been four student deaths, and as far as I can deduce three of them have been suicides. Per capita, that is a seriously troubling rate of attrition. I’ve heard it said that suicide is contagious. When there is one, others follow. This is, apparently, especially true in adolescents and prison populations. That makes sense. Both populations are heavily influenced by those around them. Teenagers are easily affected because they’re so damn hormonal. Prisoners are already living in conditions that feel hopeless, I would imagine, which weakens emotional defenses. Plus I read that fully a third of inmates qualify as mentally ill, much higher than in the general population. It’s also fairly common for suicides to go up after a celebrity suicide, except in the case of Kurt Cobain, whose death actually spiked calls to suicide prevention lines and decreased suicides overall. This article talks a little bit about it. Continue reading “Suicide is Contagious”

Women, Health, Brainbows

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I haven’t written much lately because I haven’t felt inspired. Nothing particularly great or bad has happened in the last few days so I didn’t really have anything to report. I was trying to think of topics to write about but kept coming up short. I’ve just been biding my time, accruing thoughts hoping that they will amount to something. This quote from Jane Austen seemed to hit on how I was feeling. I am watching, I can see, but I’m silent. That’s sort of how I feel about the Women’s March. I didn’t go, but I am so proud of everyone that did. It was the largest protest in US history! That’s amazing. Continue reading “Women, Health, Brainbows”

Mindfulness and DBT

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Everybody’s inner world is as unique as their fingerprints. DSM-V diagnoses are helpful, as Therapist says mostly for insurance companies, but diagnoses do not define us. However, there are some methods for dealing with emotional issues that are effective for a broad spectrum of people. The most effective way, aside from individual therapy and medication, that I have encountered is DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan in the ’80s as a way of combining her study of mindfulness and Zen Buddhism with an effective way to manage emotional distress, particularly for people with BPD who account for a staggering 20% of all psychiatric hospitalizations (a conservative estimate) even though only 2% of the population actually meets BPD criteria. What she discovered was that Borderline patients didn’t respond to the typical forms of treatment available at the time because emotional pain was so severe as to make learning new behaviors virtually impossible. By integrating Mindfulness into her treatment plan, she discovered that people responded positively and those with severe distress could begin to learn new skills. Jon Kabat-Zinn was working around the same time with patients with severe chronic pain and began teaching Mindfulness as a method of pain management (MBSR: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). In both cases, severe sensations were tempered by learning to be mindful. (Here are some DBT FAQs from the Linehan Institute.) Continue reading “Mindfulness and DBT”

A series of (un)fortunate events

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When I was younger I noticed that I had a lot of passions. My friends tended to pick a couple things and stick to them but I was always shifting my attention. I would get incredibly obsessed with a new hobby, let it become all encompassing, and after a little while I would completely lose interest. I’ve always had trouble finishing things. If I’m really depressed I have a hard time starting things too, but when I’m balanced I still have no follow through. I picked up instruments, art (photography, drawing), sports, even foods. I become obsessive and that hobby becomes my sense of purpose. I am that hobby. When I was horseback riding all the time, I was a horseback rider. When I was running all the time, I was a runner. I got into cycling, I was a cyclist. I got into school for Medieval Studies, I was a Medievalist. All of these things become my identity. The trouble is that I finally lose interest in almost everything and with it I lose the idea of who I am. Continue reading “A series of (un)fortunate events”

Friday the 13th is good luck

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I am on a very normal sleep schedule, which is weird. I haven’t been able to sleep past 7 in weeks and I go to bed by midnight usually. Lately I’ve been waking up at 5 or 6. I love the early morning hours. My brain is awake, I feel creative, I feel like there is possibility to the day but I have time to collect myself before I have to do anything. This is the time when I do most of my writing. It feels clear and fresh. I will say that I am so tired by the end of the day that it’s hard to stay up until a reasonable bedtime. Last night was about six hours of sleep, which is fine. I should get more but I don’t need to be awake for anything serious today, just fun stuff. This is a departure from my depressive episodes when I sleep constantly. Even last week when I was sick I sunk into days of sleep just to get through it. Continue reading “Friday the 13th is good luck”

At the end of my personality

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I watched “Bright Lights” the other day when HBO released it. This “in memoriam” documentary about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds was adorable. I had no idea Debbie was such a collector of Hollywood memorabilia. She was showing off Judy Garland’s ruby slippers. The most heartbreaking aspect, though, was listening to them banter about Debbie’s failing health and what Carrie wanted from the inheritance. Knowing that Carrie would go first and Debbie would follow made watching them very sad. But it is an amazing little piece of film with lots of home video footage and very private looks into their lives. Carrie’s house was amazing, so eclectic. Continue reading “At the end of my personality”