Just when is it okay to open up????

This is a portrait of Ned Vizzini. If you read a few posts back, this is the author of some teen novels. Most importantly, he is the author of, “It’s Kind of A Funny Story”. He also suffered from depression, and he also committed suicide just before New Year’s of last year.

He was an advocate for depression, and if you read a lot of his books, some tended to deal with depression. A lot of people would come up to him on book signings and speaking events and say how much just reading his books changed their lives. And even though there was an outpouring of this for him, in the end, he couldn’t deal with what was eating away with him inside.

I wanted to bring him up because there is something that really wanted to touch upon, but I really couldn’t until now. What happens to those who suffer from a mental health diagnosis, when you are in the point in your life when you are consistent with your treatments, and doing well with yourself, but you find yourself in sort of a limbo? What I mean by that is, what do you do when you everything you do is under a microscope, and any little thing you do could be a turning point into you either ending up in a hospital, or you ending up like a Mr. Vizzini?

I’ve been thinking about this question for a long time since I got hired at the day treatment program that I work at now. I look at the consumers that I serve, and then I take a look at myself. There is a big difference between where I am, and where the consumers are. Some of them, it’s like they don’t get it, and never will perhaps. Some are just fine with having just a place to come and get breakfast and lunch up to five days of week, and then just go to their proverbial personal care homes where they do nothing for themselves. For those like this, they are just fine with this. For others, they are soaking in every opportunity. Keeping their head down and making moves to better their lives despite having the diagnosis they may have. Then I look at myself who has pretty much entered a category that you see a lot of advocates, actors, singers, and other successful people have come into. The people in here all pretty much while they are probably famous or really popular, they have to really limit themselves and the behavior. One wrong publicity stunt or negative press coverage could mean tough times for their careers.

So that’s where I am. Over he past three months I’ve gotten a lot of offers from people out there who said if I need to talk, then they are there. Let me tell you as someone who is always living in recovery, this is extremely, and very difficult. The main reason, I feel like, is that as someone with a serious mental illness and who struggles with it very often, you have to decipher what is a character problem, and what is a problem that has to do with the symptoms of your diagnosis. This is a hidden thing that a lot of people don’t get from those who actually suffer and are prisoners of their symptoms, even those that are the family members, spouses, friends, or coworkers would not see, and even those in the medical model won’t even pay attention to on many occasions. There are a lot of instances where you just don’t know what you are feeling at the moment. Not to mention, that situations in where your flaws as a person are exploited can even trigger symptoms. I’ll give you an example.

A couple of weekends ago, my phone got stolen. Had it been a few years back, I would have beat myself up about it. Because I would have beat myself up about it, I would eventually get triggered into a deep depression. Because I would get triggered into a deep depression, I would eventually get into a crisis state. Now, it’s like I have to think about everything I say and do because one wrong move, and it is curtains for any progress I would have made at all.

It’s rough. And for those who suffer like I do periodically, You just don’t know what to do. Living with bipolar disorder for 17 years of my life, the way my symptoms affect my reality is that the cycles from a moderate hype, to a severe low becomes so overwhelming that I can’t function. For those with Schizophrenia, they hear and see things which distort their view on reality. For those with Borderline Personality Disorder, the inability to regulate their emotions causes them to do inexplicable things which destroy boundaries and relationships. But, when you are making a conscientious effort to get better, to recover in a way to where you are functioning just like one without one of these illnesses would, when is the time where you get to know yourself? When is the time where it isn’t just the symptoms, and when is it just you, the person.

That is why it is important to just be a human being. Yes, I do suffer from a serious mental illness. But it is just one part of me, the person. I would say that one big thing that has helped me out is to just be objective when I can…to look at everything with open eyes. I mean, let’s be honest, I am human, and I react to things just like any other person would. However, I think just because I do react, I don’t want to be looked at as some freak, or that monster, or that crazy person, or that psycho. That’s also why I don’t open up as much as I should, because of these things. This is also why a lot of my consumers do not open up to my coworkers or myself. They want to get away from the stigma from being a psycho person and find some type of routine or, “normal” in their life.

I think I can speak for a lot of people who suffer from serious mental illness when I say that when you first learn of your diagnosis, you understand that there is a part of you that will always say in the shape of the symptoms that you won’t get the same types of things that others will. I guess somehow that is partially false. If you don’t do the right things to keep your symptoms under control, and let them run amok, then yes, that will happen. But if you do the right things, things will happen, pieces get put together and such.

I guess it’s just when you do put these pieces together that I am struggling with. It’s like, you are damned if you and damned if you don’t. But I guess there’s one good counter to it: just to live. Somehow, though, I’ll find an answer, cause I do want a good life like anyone else, and I really want to help people. I guess what I’m trying to find is that when you find a little bit of success as someone living in recovery from a serious mental illness, when is it okay to just open up? Perhaps finding the answer to this, will prevent a lot of successful people, like a Ned Vizzini or a Robin Williams from suffering a cruel fate, and then help a lot more who aren’t as famous but struggling just as much.

Facing the words of the past.

In episode 12 of my old blog, I put the following quote inside of the entry from Bruce Barton:

Great men suffer hours of depression through introspection and self-doubt. That is why they are great. That is why you will find modesty and humility the characteristics of such men.

Back then I did not know what it meant. I was two months away from being 24 years old. I think the best way to think of it is that I was way too lost and blinded by the symptoms of my mental illness to actually be able to really think clearly. But, it’s hard to explain. I felt like that someday, even though I was the severity of my symptoms affected me severely, and there was not people in my life that understood what I needed at that time, I felt like that one day, that this quote would be important someday.

For the past several hours, I’ve been here reading every word of my old blog and writing down the words that speak to me now. I’ve done this for two reasons. The first is that I’m going to take some of the things that I’ve said in this blog, and make it into a session for those individuals that I serve. The second, is for me, and you, and everyone who reads this entry. This is the dream that is my recovery, and the best way I can contribute to this special day of Suicide Prevention.

I think that all of the key things that happened to me are when I was 25. I think that in this year, I was probably at the peak of my symptoms. I probably felt the very lowest of myself then. I had suicidal ideations but no real attempts at that time. I think that I got into crisis states of symptoms very often. I was reckless, wasteful, and I guess back then I really wanted to die badly. I read an entry from September 2009 that was the crux of the beginning of my actually journey in living in recovery.

I think reading through all of those entries, I felt like that even though I was a good person for the most part back then. I felt like I had to lie all of the time…to protect myself, or rather, them from me. I felt like no one back them really knew how to deal with me from that standpoint of my symptoms. Also, I didn’t know how to deal with me.

As I look through the entries and up to the final entry to the that blog, I was surprised to see that there were 60% more positive entries than negative ones. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote about what those entries did for me in a semi-blinded light in September of 2011. I think that since then, now having a job that allows me to pool my experiences from those years, and use them to save lives, is the end result of all the struggles I’ve come from.

I want to go back to the quote above now from Bruce Barton. Even now, I will suffer from depression as I have been diagnosed with a disorder that I can’t control when the cycles are. The best I can really do is to identify what cycle is coming and to reduce the frequency of the symptoms. Back in my past entries, there was a lot of confusion in my words, and that confusion led me to panic. The panic I felt made me think about death a lot. That panic made me do horrible things on occasion just like anyone else with a diagnosis. However, this panic was caused by not knowing my illness. By not knowing the nuances, and the knowledge that bipolar type 2 has periods where you feel like you are “normal”.

Even then, I get depressed more than I get mania. Then, I think, and I get frightened, and I feel like I can’t do anything, even to this day. And I think it’s because of this very thing, that I feel like I’m humble. Yes, I will live in recovery for life, and I’ll have these symptoms for as long as I live. But I think it’s because of my symptoms that on this day, I won’t take my life for granted, and I am humbled at the fact that people see a human being beyond the diagnosis. That’s what that quote means to me.

On this day, where suicide awareness is put on the map, I want you all to take a look at the things that aren’t said. Take a look at that eye that looks like it is infinitely sad…that slight tremor when you touch someone’s hand. Also, take a look at those who say all too much, but never the right thing. Perhaps just asking one piercing, sincere question, one open heart, or one clear ear could be the difference in breaking someone’s world, or saving it.

I’m going to save a lot of people eventually because of the struggles that I faced today. It was probably the toughest thing in the world to go back and face those words of a me that was lost. To cut through the fluff and to see what is really going on. However, I am thankful for those words that I wrote in that blog, and I will continue to be thankful. I truly believe that it was those words, back in April of 2008, that shaped me into the person I am today, and I’m not just another statistic.

Introduction to the new you.

“Make more promises
and don’t let fear keep you from
always keeping them.”– Tyler Knott Gregson

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve written in here, or shared anything. As you guys know who have been following this regularly, June was my birth month. Normally, it is almost always usually a bad month for me. These could be for various, selfish reasons of mine, or legitimate ones for me. This time around, I think back on this birth month, and I find it a victory.

As I said in the last entry, I have kept consistent with everything that I had said. I have been adapted a light workout, went to the CPS training, and continuing to plan for a comeback in the fighters that I do play. This is also being done while also reshaping how I want to spend my time.

Also, this month, I attended one of the new premier recovery models in Georgia for training: The CPS Project. CPS stands for Certified Peer Specialist. This is an individual with a mental health or dual diagnosis that is trained to go into mental health and/or medical facilities to work with those people that have severe mental health or dual diagnosis (individuals that not only have a severe mental health diagnosis, but also a substance or drug abuse problem).

There are many roles for this this position, but the main purpose of this position is to be a guide to those that have severe diagnoses. Think about some of the things that I’ve said before as I was volunteering and now employed at. The types of people that I see on a daily basis have been completely broken by the aspects of life in some way, shape, or form. It’s the CPS’s job to guide theme back to a reality that they want, so that they can lead fulfilling lives.

As I entered the training, I looked at the schedule to when and what we were learning on what day and what time it was. I was delighted to see that a good bit of the material on the second week of this was already covered in my paraprofessional courses that I took prior to coming here. There were people from all over the state here. All these people at some point in their lives were once broken, like myself. Hell, you could say that they were broken multiple times with the ages of some of the people in there. I truly think that for everyone who attended that training, they got something out of it. It didn’t matter what their comprehension of the material was, or if they were a good reader or not, even if they didn’t know all the answers, everyone got something out of it.

I actually had a tough time in the second week of the training. I was really close to 30 years old, and as a 20 something, it was so strange. Here I was, about to start a new career, in the mental health field, when last year, I was broken, and not really ready for it. Also, on my actual birthday, I got an email from someone that I have not heard from in a good amount of years, and that triggered some thoughts in me that stuck through me not only through the end of the training, but also into the birthday weekend. I don’t really want to go into it here (maybe another entry I’ll go in depth in it), but in short the impact of that email really messed with me.

And as I entered the week of the 4th, I had something still bothering me, but I couldn’t just place it. As the week went on, I just started having serious feelings of loneliness. It came to ahead on the weekend of the 4th. It seemed that everything made me that lonely. And because of this, I went back to some of my past behaviors.

And this is where this training helped me. A lot of the core concepts of this training revolve about a consistent path to recovery. In my job, and thanks to the help of this blog, I’ve pushed myself to a level of functioning where I can help others. However, I think that I wasn’t really continuing with mine fully. I sort of felt like this throughout the training and after it. Personally, I think you have to have the time to be able to process the emotions and feelings that come about when symptoms or feelings come about. After all, feelings are very natural to all people, thus they have to process and then ultimately move on from them.

So from the loneliness I felt, it lead me to withdrawal, and from there, it lead to an unshakable anger. I never vented my anger like in a completely serious fashion before, and I decided to do such for once. I’ve always held back when it comes to anger, and not so much when it came to my depression. I know in the past, I would have serious tantrums and on occasion become extremely violent. So as a result, I would just always suppress it.

So I vented out, how lonely I felt, and why I felt that way. And it got better, then, yesterday, I figured out the product of where those feelings came from. I had a problem with narcissism when I was in my late teens and early 20’s. I could actually make an argument that this manifested a lot sooner than that in my early teens, back to when I was initially diagnosed. For some of you that aren’t familiar with narcissism, it’s a severe interest in yourself. Some of the things that can stem from being narcissistic is a bit o sociopathic behaviors. I’m not proud to admit this, but I feel like that I have not addressed this very thing before yesterday. It’s not like I’m a bad person or anything like that, because I’m not. It’s just that the correlation from how I act when I do have symptoms and this very thing I failed to seriously address will keep me from the next levels of a good life that I want. It keeps me from the future bonds, hopes, and dreams that I am now going to pursue.

I would have just continued how I was doing, but the training taught me that there are many people like me, who are leading successful, fruitful lives. Sure, they have their struggles, and symptoms along the way, but the thing is that mental illness is just a small part of then, and ultimately a small part of me. Something else that this has taught me is that this training, in using your own struggles of recovery to change lives, is that this can be used in everyday life. Take a look at this blog. This is one example (though at the time I can’t write as much as I used to) of this. This weekend, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about mental health and recovery itself. Also, you meet people where they are is a big thing in this training. Some people are at the point that they just aren’t ready to accept that they really need help to get their life back together. So, a big part of my job is to hold on the hope for them, until they can hold on to it themselves.

This is not just in the places I’m employed, this is also in everyday life. People all over suffer somehow. I think the ultimate thing about this training is that I get a chance to show the world that people with mental illnesses CAN recover. They can lead great lives, and they can be productive people in the community from being broken. Just by my experience alone, because of this training, I can now counter the one thing I hate being: inconsistent. People in my fighting game circles say this, friends, and probably family say this. However, while I am fully aware of my parts in it, I also don’t think they understand why things were like this. I was generally ill, just like someone with cancer or the flu. I wanted to do things and in a consistent manner, but I wasn’t there mentally yet.

Now I am at that point. I want to say that this training is a big part of that. Sure, I can’t really fix all that the past that I’ve messed up, but realistically, I don’t want to. It has all been a part of my experience. And, it is that experience, that will change a life or two. The quote that I put up is something that I will be doing big time moving forward. I hope you continue reading too!

To become a hero.

I haven’t written or shared any content since the end of April.  This is because I’ve been really busy in every aspect in my life.

However, here, 24 days before I turn 30, I would like to say that I’ve almost caught up to where life has been leading me.

As you know, at the time I wrote that last post, I was in the process of getting hired by my psychiatrist’s office at their other facility.  That has since happened.  Now, I am on the way to getting my Paraprofessional and CPS certifications.  In the middle of June through my birthday, I’ll be heading to a wonderful training course with the CPS program in Georgia, and I couldn’t be more excited!  Even now, a lot of the consumers that I work with really look up to me.  It was a learning process too.  I’m not the one who is the best at discerning situations, and now I’m getting the hang of it.  I have a very good boss who is leading me in the right way, and all of the other staff are very helpful.  I couldn’t be happier where I landed.

I have to say that now that I have three months under my belt working and volunteering where I’m at, I understand the other side of the mental health world a little better.  I now understand that there are some people who do fail their consumers.  I also know that there are people who will always look down on people who have mental illnesses as well.  It really doesn’t matter to me what they think now.  I would like to take you back to last year.  I was going after the 30 day writing challenge, and on one of the days, I got a really negative comment.  It was someone who perhaps I had talked to in my area a bit, and this person called me a mooch, and made ignorant assumptions that I wanted to date some of the people in the entry that I made, which I’ve since deleted.  I think about that scenario, and I tie it into what I hear and see on a daily basis.  Like me, some of these people need an honest chance, and someone to believe in them.  I don’t think someone deserves to work with people who from the start have a preordained judgment on you, and sadly, for those who are a lot more broken, that is their reality.

As you all know, I do watch anime.  However, the type of anime I watch mostly are ones with an average person going in and doing something extraordinary.  I’m really drawn to them in the sense that I feel like I’m like that.  I used to be so flashy and flamboyant and such, but in reality, I just felt like I had to be like that in order to feel average.  Now, I think with how many people are on my side now, I have to think that some how I touched them in some way.  Just like those average heroes in those animes who gain a lot of followers as the episodes go on, I feel like that has happened to me today socially.

Maybe I should let them in a lot more.  I’m not really the best at that.  Isolation is a big enemy of mine. Maybe it’s more of I don’t know what to do, now that in a societal view, I would be called normal.  I don’t know, it just seems so new to me I guess.

Now, I go into the next phase of goals for myself.  As I’ve said, I want to make a splash in the fighting game community in the next few years.  Also, I have been doing an okay workout, and I would like to do some more with it.  So, I’m going to study a bit of Bruce Lee’s workout regimen.  He always spent a lot of time on fine tuning his body for fighting.  So, I’m going to be adopting some of his stuff.  I think in an overall sense, I just want to be a bit more consistent in my life moving forward.  I feel like, that with the way things were going, I didn’t really have a lot of control of what I was doing.  Now, I have a lot more, and it feels good.

But, I think that with the things I’m looking into and this blog, I can maybe be a hero to one or two people.  So hopefully, all these things will rewrite someone’s future!  Keep reading guys!  I got some more stuff on the horizon!

Rewriting a hopeless future.

For the past week, I’ve been thinking about the amount of progress I’ve made in this short amount of time.

I’ve thought about the support I’ve gotten (which has been a lot more than I can imagine it would have been), and I am grateful in that for sure.

Today, I go before the therapist that I’m working with to finally tackle the final issue that catapulted me to get myself to the point of starting in my own personal recovery.  I think that, when I overcome the feelings involved with what happened back then, I believe that I will have made a crucial step into my own ongoing recovery.

I believe some time ago, I posted in an entry what my birth tarot cards were.  One of those was the strength card.  If you know anything about tarot, the main thing about this card is that it revolves around inner strength. I guess with me, I have always had an immense amount of inner strength, but I did not have the means to draw it out.  I feel like that today, I am on the way to learning how to tap into this more consistently as well as in more creative ways.  

I guess, I’m still in a bit of a shock over how things are now.  A lot of the consumers that I work with, they may or may not have the chance to take a future that is blinded to them by their past, improper managing of their symptoms and triggers, or perhaps the circles keep them in inconsistent situations where they cannot get the stability to believe or think like this.  Because of my empathetic nature, I will not lie to you and say that it breaks my heart seeing what I see on a daily basis.  

I am fully aware that I am one person, and I cannot save everyone.  I guess if I can guide one consumer to thinking that their future is not hopeless, that their future can always be changed, I think I would have done my job really well.  Even if I am in shock over what I see, I won’t run from it.  This position, is my future.  A future, which was given to me by me doing what I could to get better.  No, that’s not exactly accurate.  I did what I needed to, to survive.  I was one of those who thought there was nothing for my future.  Somehow, I rewrote that.  Hopefully, I’ll do the same with some other people!

Mentally ill people aren’t killers, or abusers. Angry people are.

I wanted to share this. This entry brings some much needed clarification to the notion that the majority of people diagnosed with a mental illness are also those that are extremely violent.

Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

PTSD – is also not an excuse for violence, domestic violence, or abuse.

It is always the PTSD sufferers responsibility to manage any anger, express it appropriately, and if too difficult – remove themselves from people and family etc – until they can.

I agree with this…

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/04/anger_causes_violence_treat_it_rather_than_mental_illness_to_stop_mass_murder.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

The following is from this ^ link.

In the 1980s, around the time of the massive deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, I was working toward my degree in clinical psychology by training at a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C. One sweet, diminutive, elderly patient sometimes wandered the halls. She had been committed to the hospital after she stabbed someone in a supermarket. She was what is sometimes referred to as a revolving-door patient: She was schizophrenic and heard frightening voices in her head, and when she became psychotic enough, she would be hospitalized, stabilized on medication, and then released back to the…

View original post 789 more words

A beautiful commercial from the most unlikely.

I want you to take a look at this commercial, and get touch by it like I did.

A lot of times people see someone doing a selfless act and bring an instant judgement on it. They call it foolish.

What if we all did some small form of altruism? Something very empathic and pure?

Think about that as you watch this video.