Mental health ‘workbook’

So, in view of the possibility of me having bipolar 2, we bought a workbook. Now, this is one of those posts where many people will probably wildly disagree with me. 

I hated it. I felt it minimised bipolar as an illness, implied that it was all due to flawed thought patterns and that if only you changed your attitude things would never go wrong and you would be stable all the time. I had seen this sort of thing before when receiving therapy for my eating disorder. 

The book was condescendingly written and in my opinion totally unrealistic. My favorite was a tale about two people with bipolar, one of whom denied they had a problem and ended up not finishing their studies, while the other accepted they had bipolar, finished their degree because of their acceptance and had a wonderful life. 

Who, the book asked, did I think had a better approach to their condition?

I do not deny that our thought patterns and behaviours influence how we feel. But we can’t control everything, we make mistakes. Of course it’s good to consider what we could have done better. But to concerntrate on what we do wrong, and to keep mulling it over, cannot be helpful, at least not to me. 

The book also suggested that I write down things I do not accept and should work on accepting such as ‘loss of a job’ or ‘death of a loved one’ and how these could be seen positively. 

Does anyone in their right mind go ‘yay, I’ve lost my job, I feel a million dollars!’ Of course good can come out of evil, but that is no-one’s initial response. We are, after all, human as well as mentally ill. 

So I tore up the work book and I will look for something better. Maybe it’s right for someone, but it wasn’t right for me. After all, I did what it said: turn something negative (the book) into something positive (kindling).

PS: I have never torn up a book before, and have a heathy respect for them generally. But there are exceptions. It was the only way to stop myself from dropping into that bottomless pit which I have already spent so much time in. 


The answer to the puzzle 

I have found the answer to something big concerning my mental health. Not to everything, of course, but a lot. Something I had completely ruled out, hidden in plain sight.

Because I never get really high, I assumed my depression must be unipolar. But I do get extremely active, with a million different thoughts in my head. Bouts of creativity where everything pours out. Talking rapidly and excitedly. 

No, it’s not stereotype bipolar and not bipolar 1 from what I’ve read either. But hypomania fits. My mood may not be great ever at the moment, but then no one fits a box exactly. We are all human and our personalities are tied up with our illnesses without us being the illness.

I have never fitted any mental illness box perfectly. But this fits beyond reasonable doubt. I never get feelings of superiority etc. but then my self esteem is very low indeed at the moment. 

This is why my depression didn’t respond to treatment, I think, and antidepressants made things worse.

I would be very grateful to hear any experiences from those of you lovely people who have bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II.

 Talking to all (with or without bipolar) of you has been immensely helpful already and thank you all!

Also, sorry if I haven’t replied to your comment yet, the WiFi has been down. I will do it as soon  as possible. 

Anxiety · depression

Mapping mental health 

There are so many questions in my head at the moment. What sustains my depression? Can you ever completely get rid of anorexia? What is it all really about? Is my depression all due to circumstance or is it something I’ll always have? Why am I so tired all the time? Why have I become more so recently?

I have drawn a map of how I have been today and over the last few days, not taking the anorexia into account since that is fairly consistent. 

By ‘normal’ I mean what most non mentally ill people would consider normal. I have found this exercise really useful and was wondering if anyone else has tried it/ would like to share something similar. I think it would be interesting to compare.

Does anyone recognise this pattern in themselves/how is yours different?


The damage caused by mental illness not being recognised 

When I was at school, I think people didn’t understand what mental illness is really. This was less than two years ago. I still sometimes deny that have depression, anorexia and an anxiety disorder and lately I’ve been wondering why. 

I think it’s that when I asked people in my school for help, the adults didn’t recognise the severity of the problem. They thought I looked fine, was getting good grades and they didn’t believe me when I said how bad I felt. I was pretty much as low as it gets, (I won’t go into it so as not to trigger anyone) and not even going to classes anymore. 

They believed I was anorexic or becoming so because I lost weight, and when I temporarily regained some they believed I was better. They could see self harm; it was a kind of proof. But they did not understand that these things are symptoms, not the problem. Before I had them, no one acknowledged there was anything wrong at all. They pointed to other young people with ‘real’ problems like divorce of the parents. 

Professionals did diagnose me, but minimised my illness. 

So I guess that is why I still often think there is nothing wrong with me and that I am just lazy/attention seeking. People denied my illness and downgraded it for so long that it has become ingrained. They thought I had no reason to be sad and was exaggerating my experiences. 

They did not understand and meant to help. 

This is why it is so important for us to speak out. Mental illness does not look the same in everyone; I am still learning to accept mine.


Halloween anxiety

It’s Halloween today and it’s made me very anxious every year since I became ill. I’m not against it, I really enjoied it when I was younger, but now things are different. We get older teenagers coming round who are sometimes not the nicest. Last year my Mum put up a friendly sign saying we weren’t doing it this year, as she knew I was struggling and there aren’t really many little children in our neighbourhood anymore. Also we just couldn’t manage; the result was that we got eggs thrown at our window. This year we forgot about Halloween and we don’t want more eggs, so we don’t know what to do and I am not having a good day… 

Since I have a panic reaction to any noise in the night, and they often come trick or treating late, it’s going to be a long evening. I think Halloween is great for kids and can be fun if you aren’t very anxious/ill. People can’t know of course, but I do wish they would refrain from throwing eggs.

Do you get anxious when people knock on your door?


Telling old friends and acquaintances you are mentally ill

As soon as people hear that I have been and am struggling with serious mental illness (depression, anorexia, an anxiety disorder) they express sympathy. However, I have also noticed that they either withdraw as quickly as they can without being rude, or carry on as though nothing had happened, with very few exceptions. I’m not saying that they don’t care or that they don’t want to know me any more, but the fear of this unknown ‘thing’ is often enough for them to let go. 

We don’t expect others to necessarily become our support, but do need them to accept that our illness is there and long term. When we lose friends because of this it is very hurtful and can lower our self esteem even further.

I usually feel it’s my fault for not being ‘easy going’ and saying I’m fine.  If I did, it would come out at a later stage anyway, because I can’t be as consistent as someone who is well. I don’t want to let others down or disappear without explanation.

It results in feeling you aren’t worth knowing anymore because you are mentally ill. Did the person mean this? No. But it is what comes across. Perhaps if people knew more about the reality of living with any illness, they would not be so afraid of reaching out and being there.

Is this true of physical illness as well? Have people just dropped out of your life when you became ill?