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Unwanted Loopy Guests.

Anyone who has been following my personal blog will know that I have, for some time now, been taking a break from writing on it.  In fact, as those few who are closest to me will know, I have actually taken a break from writing very much at all lately.

That having been said, I do strongly believe that it is important that we write about and share our experiences so that others – who may be experiencing similar things themselves or who have loved ones who do – might gain a better understanding or might know that they are not alone.

So, having written this after a particularly bad night last night, I thought I would share it with you.  It describes – perhaps very poorly – just the start of an episode.  Episodes which I all too often experience…

Unwanted Loopy Guests.

You do know you’ve started to do it again.”  His voice was deep, assertive and critical.

“To do what again?” I replied not even bothering to look up from my book to see the no-one who wasn’t there.  The unwanted guest who had arrived without even coming.

Enter the loop again”  He answered, almost without waiting for me to finish my question.  For he knew what my question would be just as instantly as I had formed it.

He always does.” She suddenly offered from the dark recesses.

Yep, always does.” Agreed another.  “Yep, always does.”  Echoed yet another.  “He can’t help himself.” Offered a fourth. “Useless, absolutely useless.”  Volunteered yet another, acidicly.

Momentarily staring at the patterns formed in the words on the page of the book I was reading, I tried to distract myself by focusing on the nothingness between their lines.

“It’s not like I mean to.”  I offered silently and -if I am honest – somewhat lamely. “Can’t you see that I’m reading.”

No you’re not!”  Came the instant and acutely accurate reply.  “What you are doing is keeping your eyes busy whilst your mind rehashes the same thoughts over and over again!

He was right and yet I so desperately wanted him not to be.  For what had begun purely as thoughts inside my head were now somehow external, audible.

“I didn’t do it on purpose.”  I offered in my own defense. Desperately hoping for some compassion, some understanding?

No. But then you never do.”  Came the instant and caustic response.  “And yet you always screw up, don’t you.” He added.  “After which, you always beat yourself up and then plop!  You are right back in the loop again aren’t you?

“Maybe it wasn’t actually me who entered the loop.” I countered.  “Maybe its actually you who have all come out of it just so you can drag me back in.”

We’re not the ones who were late this morning and are now sat beating ourselves up over it!”  Came the immediate somewhat indignant response… “No. We’re not the one’s.” Echoed agreement. “You’re the one who did that.” Another chimed in  “You can’t blame us.” Yet another volunteered. “You’re the one who has to rely on…

“But it wasn’t my fault!” I snapped back before they could continue their onslaught.

Throwing my book on the seat next to me I got up and walked around my coffee table a few times hoping to distract myself from the caustic critical chorus that continued around me.  Clenching and un-clenching my fists as I did so, as if to somehow pump my way forward.

Forward being better than backward and also so much better than being static at this time.  But the simple truth was, however, that I had nowhere to go. There was no where that I could go. Not at 3 in the morning, at least.   But when you are in the middle of a gang of accusers,  a circle of critics, a bunch of bullies, all you really want to do is to get out of there. To somehow escape.

And yet here’s the deeper truth.  A truth the years have already taught me.   All too often, there is no escape.  All too often this scenario ends with my sitting, lost in the deepest nothingness of the loop, rocking myself backwards and forwards at the bottom of its arc.

Reaching down I picked up my coffee mug and took it to the kitchen  I placed it by the kettle I then switched the kettle on.  Returning to the lounge I tidied the seat cushions on the empty chairs and empty couch.  Why?  Who knows, it was just so much more preferable to standing waiting for the kettle to boil.

I picked up my phone and pressing it to life, glanced at the message-less home screen, before peering out of the windows in vague and somewhat crazy hope that somehow someone would be calling in to see me at silly o’clock in the morning.

“We’re really going to do this yet again, aren’t we?”  So very tired and in pain, I asked them. Desperately hoping beyond hope that perhaps this time they would leave me alone.

You started it.”  Came the taunting response.  “So really, we’re not doing anything.  You are.

And anyway,” another added, “we’re not real, remember?  Your Psychiatrist told you so.

“Yeah right, but reality is not a singular entity.”  I retorted.  I returned to the kitchen stopping suddenly – just inside the doorway as the fleeting image of a vague, abstract nothingness flashed past the corner of my vision.

“This is going to be another rough one.” The realisation pushed itself forward more as a fear than as  a thought or a statement.

I looked over at the kettle and the single mug stood there waiting.  One mug was all I needed.  After all, unwanted guests who only exist as auditory magnifications of your own twisted thoughts and internal dialogues don’t require your hospitality.

 

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Mania: A Hat, a 55-lb Rabbit, and Dr. Rosen – Guest Post by Shoshana Stien

In line with my policy of publishing relevant Guest Posts, I am delighted to share the following piece with you.  Tova – who writes under pseudonym (or pen name) of ‘Shoshana Stein’ submitted it to us as a way of highlighting just what mania can be like for those who experience it. And I am extremely grateful to her for doing so.  As a writer myself I enjoy reading other writer’s work – especially when it so clearly makes the point that it is seeking to make.  Which I am sure you will agree Tova’s (or Shoshana’s) piece does.  I am therefore delighted to share with this with you…

Mania: A Hat, a 55-lb Rabbit, and Dr. Rosen

I was careening down Rt. 579 at 85 miles an hour in 7 AM rush hour traffic. I was bebopping to a radio that wasn’t even on and had a $250.00 salad I made at 2 AM between my knees. This was going to be the adventure of a lifetime. I had purchased my one-way first class British Airways ticket to London at 3 AM and I was raring to go. “London, here I come!” I shouted out the window at every truck driver who blared his horn at me. WOW, I thought, cranky people out driving this rush hour.

I had my itinerary all planned. My first stop was Buckingham Palace. I had received a personal note from the Queen letting me know that there would be a hat waiting for me when I arrived at the gate. I was hoping for her canary yellow one, but the rose-colored one would be ok in a pinch. I have always loved the Queen’s hats. If being Queen meant wearing awesome hats every day, surely, I was meant to be royalty. The second leg of my adventure, after picking up my hat, was a limousine ride to South Sussex. There, Ralph, the world’s largest bunny, resided in splendor. Ralph, I was certain, knew I was coming and I needed to bring him a spectacular gift. At midnight, I scoured the organic produce section of our 24-hour grocery store. I bought everything from artichokes to cilantro in quadruplicate. When the cashier enquired why my shopping cart was only filled with organic vegetables, I shrieked with excitement, “Ralph the Bunny is hungry and I’m making him a snack.” The cashier, avoiding my gaze, checked me out as quickly as she could. Meeting Ralph was a dream of a lifetime. I wanted to impress him.

Why the obsession with Ralph? Nothing brightens my day more than to see a cluster of cotton-tails at dusk or dawn nibbling on some dandelions. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed a mastectomy, I was fixated on finding the cutest bunny slippers possible for my hospital stay. I told a friend, “No one should be without bunny slippers when having a mastectomy.” She looked at me peculiarly, but I paid no heed.

I have a fascination for the little fluffy creatures. The reason is really simple. As a child growing up with schizophrenic caregivers, I avoided walking into their house for as long as I possibly could. It just so happened that the next-door neighbors bred rabbits. Every day after school I would run to the hutches and stick my tiny finger through the mesh, hoping to touch an ear or a wiggly nose. Mr. Richards caught me one day. I was sure he was going to yell at me to leave the bunnies alone. Instead he said, “Shoshana, bunnies, especially baby bunnies, need to be held a lot so they make good pets. Would you like to play with the bunnies every day after school? It’s good for them and you’d be helping me a lot.” I gave Mr. Richards a giant hug and squeal only a delighted six-year old girl could make.

I loved those bunnies. I gave every one of them names. They were my friends when I had no friends. They were soft and gentle when my world was violent and cruel. Every time I see a bunny in the present I return to those rare comforting moments in my childhood. Ralph, as soon as I discovered him in an online search, was a must-visit. He was 55 pounds of all fluff and ears. I was in love…and manic.

I was approaching the exit for the international airport. Only a few more miles and I’d have a hat from the Queen and a hug from Ralph. I was euphoric. Then…my cell phone rang. It was 7:30 AM and no phone call is good that early in the morning. This morning was no exception. It was Dr. Rosen, my psychiatrist. He said casually, “Shoshana, where are you?” I proceeded to blurt out my entire planned adventure to him, thinking he’s be excited for me. It didn’t work out that way. In his very stern clinical voice he said, “Shoshana, I want you to return home, now.” I pleaded with him that Ralph was waiting and a hat from the Queen was waiting, and I had this magnificent all-organic salad. He repeated, “Shoshana, I want you to return home.” “NO” I shouted back, “I want a hat and Ralph.” Dr. Rosen lowered his voice and I could almost picture the facial expression that accompanies that voice, “Shoshana, if you go to the airport, there will be consequences.” I was stuck in a terrible dilemma. Ralph and the hat or Dr. Rosen’s “consequences”. Dr. Rosen’s consequences never work out too well for me. They always involve hospital stays and medications that make me feel underwater. I could hear Dr. Rosen on the phone. “What have you decided, Shoshana?” I started yelling at him, “This isn’t fair.” Dr. Rosen responded, “You are right, this isn’t fair. Are you going home?” I sighed and with resignation responded, “Yes, I’m going home.” Dr. Rosen instructed me to call his office when I returned to my house and he’d call me right back. Then he said, “I’m proud of you Shoshana, this was hard.”

[Editor’s Note:  In her introduction to this piece Tova shared the following with me, “By day I’m a scientist, by night I’m an author, and all the time I’m a woman who lives with the bipolar 1 disorder with psychosis and PTSD with psychosis. My journey from a state psychiatrist hospital to cancer researcher and author is the promise that even people with devastating mental illnesses who have been thrown away by “experts” can transform and thrive.”  And that is clearly true.

Tova has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, graduate work in toxicology and biochemistry.  She is the author of the manuscript “Finding My Voice: a 20-Year Psychiatrist-Patient Odyssey”.  And is also the author of numerous essays including “My Unlikely Allies Against Bipolar Depression: the Liberal Professor and the Orthodox Rabbi” and “So, Your Psychotherapist Just Invited You to Her Son’s Birthday Party, Should You Go?”

I am very grateful to Tova for sharing her work with us here and I hope that you will look out for other pieces written by her.  You can sample more of Tova or Shoshana’s writings by visiting either her blog by clicking here, or by visiting her Facebook Author Page by clicking here.  And I have absolutely no reservation in encouraging you to do so.]

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Scars – Guest Post/Poem by Theresa Dunn


Hi all,

Following on in our tradition of publishing guest posts I am delighted to be able to share this one from Theresa.  As someone who has personal experience of the struggle with self-harming I am very much aware that this can be a difficult topic to deal with.  I am also aware that sometimes these things can be a trigger to others who may personally be in a bad place at the time they come across them.  That is why I have displayed the Trigger Warning logo (left) which I designed many moons ago now and which is displayed as a warning that the content of this post may be difficult or a trigger for some.

The fact is that when it comes to things like self-harming, I truly believe that this is an issue that really does need to be discussed and shared in a positive and informative way.  So by displaying this logo it is my hope that those who are in a difficult place right now will come back to this post when they are stronger.

Theresa, in sharing this with us, admits that this poem – like other poems that she has written – come from a very real and heartfelt place and I thank her and commend her bravery for sharing it with us…

Scars can tell a story
with every mark we leave
it doesn’t really matter
what everyone else believes

Some may be fresh
some may be old
but behind every mark
there’s a story to be told.

Some use their arms
some use their legs
some do it outdoors
some do it in bed.

The scars show fight
in that certain someone
but sometimes all they want
is to feel like they belong.

Scars are not a sign of weakness
it is neither a mighty sin
scars have lasting affects
which you just cant just chuck in the bin.

Don’t be ashamed of them
they prove how far you have come
you can change your future
but the past is done.

Don’t hide away your scars
be proud of who you are
you are not everyone else
you have come so far.

We all have battle scars
one way or the other
but i cant tell you much more
as i am not your mother.

Written By Theresa Dunn

[Editor’s note: Once again I am very grateful to Theresa for sharing this with us and allowing me to post her poem here on the Guild’s page. Self-Harming is something which often goes hidden for far to long and is also something which  is very misunderstood, often bringing shame and guilt and self-condemnation to the person struggling with it. Please do feel free to comment below and let us know your feelings.  Please also know that help with this is available for those needing it.]

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Guest Post – 5 Things You Don’t Realise Your Anxiety Causes You To Do

Hi all,

In keeping with our policy of publishing relevant ‘Guest Posts’, I am delighted to publish this one which was submitted to us by Chris Worfolk from over at ‘worfolkanxiety.com‘.

Chris is the author of ‘Technical Anxiety: The Complete Guide to What Is Anxiety And What To Do About It’ and writes his personal experiences in the aforementioned blog.

I am thankful to Chris for sending this Guest Post to us and hope that this post is both information and helpful to you all…

5 Things You Don’t Realise Your Anxiety Causes You To Do

Anxiety is a tricky beast. Sometimes it is easy to spot. When you’re at the top of the rollercoaster, for example, it is fairly easy to diagnose that racing heart, tight chest and tingling feeling.

Other times, it is less easy to spot, though. I often find myself doing things that I only later realise is because of anxiety. Over the years, I have become pretty good at spotting my personal behaviours.

Below, I have listed five. See if any of them resonate with you.

Constantly checking your phone.

Do you know where your phone is right now? Probably, right? I know where mine is: it is never more than an arm’s reach away.

Why? Because it is our connection to the outside world. What happens if there is an emergency and someone needs to get in contact with us immediately. What if we have an emergency and need to call for help?

Often, it isn’t even as serious as that. We might be worried about getting an email from work, or worry that if we don’t read every single Facebook update, we are going to miss a vital post from a friend and make a faux pas at our next social gathering.

Or maybe it is just that our phone provides a distraction from being with our own thoughts. Filled with games and interactive apps, we never need to pause to think about whether we are really happy. Which we’re scared to do, in case the answer is no.

 

Saying yes to everything

Anxious people are often busy people. Why? People give us things to do because they know they will get done.

This makes a lot of sense. If you worry about everything, then you are going to worry about getting that job done. Having too much on my to-do list stresses me out. So people ask us to do stuff.

The problem is that we struggle to say no. This, believe it or not, is a form of social anxiety. “How does that work?” you may wonder. After all, you may feel you have no problems in a social situation.

But there is another form of social anxiety: a need to be pleased and be liked. Deep down, social anxiety is driven be a fear of exclusion. And many of us fear that if we say no to people, they will stop liking us and we will lose all of our friends and die.

Of course, it’s the twenty-first century, and we won’t die anymore. But our caveman’s brains haven’t changed much. The fear is still there. So we say yes to everything, even though we are already overloaded.

 

Checking whether you have locked the door

Last week I left my apartment, walked down to flights of stairs, and then stopped. Had I locked the door? I strained to remember. Then I dithered about what to do. Finally, I became angry at myself for being unsure, before trudging back up the stairs to check the door.

It was locked. Of course it was. It is always locked. We lock the door automatically every time we go out. We do it on autopilot, which is why we do not remember doing it.

But, when you have anxiety, you also panic that you haven’t done it. Your mind begins catastrophising. “I haven’t locked it. I will get robbed. And lose all of my stuff. And I won’t be able to replace it. And I’ll go bankrupt. And end up living under a bridge.”

Maybe it isn’t the front door for you. Maybe it’s your car. Or checking if you turned the stove off. Or the tap. Or the light. Anxiety is a memory disorder: it leads us to distrust our own minds.

 

Checking in with your friends

Have you noticed that you always seem to be the one that is organising social gatherings? That your friends are always pleased to see you, but rarely suggest hanging out?

It’s not because they don’t like you. It’s just that most people are too busy with their personal lives to think about their friends. But, when you have anxiety, you care about other people more. You worry about your friends. And that reminds you to check in with them.

So, having anxiety is not all bad. It comes with some nice bonuses: like remembering to see how your friends are doing.

 

Be super-prepared

Last year, I was at a football tournament. It was cloudy, rainy and cold. Then, about half way through, the clouds disappeared. Brilliant sun rolled out from behind them.

The only problem: nobody had brought sun cream. Why would you on a cold and cloudy day?

Nobody except me. I had some factor 50 with me. You know, in case the sun came out. It’s the same reason that I have a first aid kit in my car and a fire blanket in my kitchen. When you have anxiety, you fear the worst, but you also plan for it.

If you ever go on an expedition, make sure you take someone who struggles with anxiety. Whatever the emergency is, they will have planned for it.

Conclusion

Anxiety is now always easy to spot. Often, it can affect our behaviour without evening noticing it. However, it’s not all bad. Sometimes it is debilitating, such as compulsively checking our phones and doors, or taking on too many tasks. But it can also make us more prepared and lead to us being better people.

[Editor’s Comment:  As I said above, I am very grateful to Christ for sharing this post with us. If you have found this post interesting or if anything shared in  resonate with you why not pop over and check out Chris’s blog at http://www.worfolkanxiety.com ]

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Heads Together – A Right Royal Approach.

In a day and age when so much bad news, unrest and uncertainty, seems to fill our newspapers, television screens and indeed social media, it is a breath of fresh air when you see something special and positive in the news.

Especially if, like me, you have a passion for mental health issues and if that positive news is concerning Mental Health.

‘Heads Together’ is the brainchild of three British royals – William, Catherine, and Harry (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales). Although, as the video immediately below shows, the original idea seems to have come from Catherine.

If you visit the Heads Together website and navigate over to their about page the following statement explains the motivation behind this campaign.

Through our work with young people, emergency response, homeless charities, and with veterans, we have seen time and time again that unresolved mental health problems lie at the heart of some of our greatest social challenges.

And I cannot begin to describe how pleased I am that these three highly respected and in many cases much loved royals have gotten together to bring the issue of Metal Health firmly to the fore.  An example many world leaders need to follow in my opinion.

But please don’t brush this off as just the royals doing what royals often do – signing up to – or putting their name to a good cause and thus increasing their popularity and remaining in the public eye.  Far from it, it seems!

I truly believe that as you watch the first video – above – you will notice a very real connection with Mental Health and its effects and a very real commitment to make a difference.  A connection which is abundantly clear in a Podcast interview that Prince Harry did with The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon as part of her ‘Mad World’ series.

And you can listen to that Podcast through the video (which is a compilation of photographic stills and that podcast) below.

One of the key points communicated through this campaign, which is the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon’s Charity of the year, (and indeed the above video) is the benefit of talking about our Mental Health and I would encourage all our readers to check out the site’s  Conversation Films page.

There is so much more that I could say about this – and let’s be honest here, sometimes I do tend to be quite verbose in my writing – but I would much rather readers checked this out for themselves.

But I will leave you with one last quote from their website.  One which clearly identifies their aim and one which clearly speaks into the heart of the stigma that is all too often attached to mental health struggles and mental illness.

Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives. Heads Together wants to help people feel much more comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing and have the practical tools to support their friends and family.

Now if that isn’t a ‘Right’ royal approach I don’t know what is!

Please take a bit of time to check out their website and let me know your thoughts and opinions.  And why not share your views on it all on your personal blogs?  As a community of Mental Health writers lets get very firmly behind such ideas.

 

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Gust Post – An Open Letter to an elderly patient.

I am delighted to share the following Guest Post with you all.  It was sent to me by it’s author Karla A. Viera, MD. It is – as she explained in her email to me – ‘an open letter to an elderly patient’. And is shared with us with ‘the purpose of humanizing mental health and the patient doctor relationship.

As Dr. Karla went on to explain, her desire is for ‘people to understand that we are physicians but we also learn from our patients and our relationship with them can be a beautiful powerful thing.

Very often when I publish a guest post I add suitable graphics to it. But for this guest post I think it is better to simply publish the open letter as it was received…

An Open Letter

Dear Patient,

Having mental illness is awful. It afflicts millions. It deeply affects people, families, and our society as a whole. It is one of the leading causes of disability in our country. It wreaks havoc wherever it goes.  I have made my life’s mission to help you and others walk through it even when there is not a finish line in sight. I hold your hands, wipe your tears and try to contain my own. Because there is nothing like a fresh dose of helplessness to remind me that we can not will away your pain.

And then it happens…
I see you as a beautiful strong  plant growing out of the rubble, from unfertilized ground, and I am amazed with your strength. You have decided to examine your life and to reflect on 70 years of pain and to find meaning on what you went through, and you chose me to be your witness. Thank you for the reminder that God doesn’t make mistakes. Because if nature is ever changing and not everyday is 72 degrees and sunny, how can I expect you to be like that.  And so I see you truly living, learning and growing even while still walking through the darkness in the last phases of your life. I have seen and learned from your pain and I feel lucky that you have trusted me to be by your side.

And I just want to say thank you. Thank you for showing me and teaching me how wonderfully diverse emotions, thoughts, perceptions and experiences can be. You make me a better person, you challenge me to grow, to learn as I try to ease your suffering, as I try to help you understand that you are not broken, that you are loved and perfect just the way you are. And as I know our time is limited, I hope that someday, before it is too late, you are able to see yourself through my eyes.

Karla A. Viera, MD

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Karla Viera, is a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in Atlanta, Georgia. I am very grateful to her for sharing this with us and hope that – since many of us have such varied experiences of seeing a psychiatrist it will not only give hope to those of us who visit them but also act as thought provoker for the psychiatrists we see.]

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Guest Post by Laura A. – ‘My son’s best friend.’

I am delighted to be able to publish this ‘Guest Post’ which was sent in to us by Laura A.

As someone who experiences mental health challenges myself, and as someone who writes and blogs about them, and as someone who – running this mental health writer’s guild – who reads a lot of blog posts written by others who experience mental health I – like so many others – have a fairly comprehensive understanding of what mental health issues can be like for those who experience them firsthand.

this guest post however is written by a mother, and one who is obviously dedicated to the caring of her adult son who experiences mental health issues.  And thus it does, I believe, afford us a very valuable alternative perspective.

I therefore encourage you to grab a cuppa, sit back and read what Laura has to share through this wonderful post…

My son’s best friend!

I am my son’s best friend, but I don’t want to be.  I want my 19 year old son to have friends his own age….but he doesn’t have any friends so….I am my son’s best friend.

And what a responsibility it is.

He wants to talk all the time.  Discuss the slightest, even silliest thing.  He asks the craziest questions.  Questions about my childhood, his grandmother’s childhood.  Questions about our financial situation.  Why his dad snores.  The outfit I choose that day.  What snacks I bought for him.

Anything becomes a question.

I always answer his questions….and at times to be honest I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I’m so tired of his constant talking and questioning that I really don’t even hear him anymore.

But I listen, and listen, and listen.

You see my beautiful boy suffers from Bipolar Disorder.  How and when did that happen?  He was a very happy healthy little boy. He excelled scholastically, athletically and socially.  Up until he was about 15 everything was “normal” (or so I thought).   I was so busy taking him to practice, games, after school activities, friends’ homes that I wasn’t aware of anything changing.

But it was and boy did it come on like a ton of bricks!

One day in his sophomore year of high school he just couldn’t walk into school.

And so it began…

At first the doctor said it was anxiety disorder (omg….if only!)  “Anxiety Disorder” lead to depression….and his first intro to anti-psychotic meds……hello Prozac.

Then years of home schooling, then going back to school to only be home schooled again. Friends coming and going (mostly going).  Teachers, principals, school social workers, school psychologist….everyone had us on speed dial.

Now comes the manic stage…..the getting into trouble, the fights, the staying out late,  the smoking pot and “not so nice” kids hanging around our house….yep we had it all.

Let’s not forget to mention the doctors. Oh….gotta love them.  I’m convinced his psychiatrist of 4+ years is sick of him (seriously) his 45 min session is down to 15/20 minutes at best (at $250 a session it gets expensive very fast!). He has seen at least 7 therapists. Some he didn’t connect to others he did and would go to a dozen times and then stop.

The medicine is a topic unto itself!  There is a list mile long there. Some worked, some didn’t.  The side-effects for this young man were heart breaking!  Of course getting him to always take his meds was another torture.  I’d leave the meds out and go to work praying he would take them.  He could have been tossing them for all I knew….and he probably was!  He even did GeneSight testing to see if he could tolerate the meds he was taking.

Have I left anything out?  Of course….I can’t write this story without mentioning the hospital visits. The awful institutions (all private and very, very costly)!  These places were useless, well at least for my son they were.  He was so scared and lonely in them that he spent most of the time begging us to take him out.   I realize family visits are encouraged on weekends because there is little staff to take care of the patients and they need some type of company.  He came home from three facilities no better than when he went in.  But it didn’t end there, he blamed me and his dad for forcing him to go to these places.  That was his daily dialog….all day he complained how they ruined his life.  This went on for months.

So here he is now close to 5 years later and he is not any better.  I have read every article published about people with Bipolar.  I have gone to NAMI meetings and met with other parents and loved ones who have a family member suffering from this awful disease.  I have cried many days on my way to work wondering when, when will this end.  I have been encouraging to my son when he looks at me with tears and begs for answers.  I don’t even know where I find the words as many of these conversations have taken place at 3:00am, but that’s what a best friend does.

A best friend gets up, gives a hug and talks….and talks….and talks.  And a best friend discusses even the silliest of things….like what it was like to be a kid in the 60’s,  and why does dad snore.

[Editor’s Note: As I mentioned in my introduction to this piece, I am so very grateful to Laura A. for sharing this piece with us.

As someone who experiences mental health issues this piece impacted me on many levels.

The pain and the frustration woven within the words of this piece are as evident as the love, concern and compassion that binds the thread that sews them there.  Love, concern and compassion which so many parents of those who suffer from mental health issues know and demonstrate only too well.  And yes, pain and frustration which they also know too well.

And as someone who has striven (most of my life) to protect my family, including my parents, from the ‘fall out’ of my mental health issues.  (Doing so to the extent of excluding myself from them.)  I am acutely aware that the experiences and difficulties expressed within this piece, can – if allowed – cause some of us to feel guilt for what we – as a result of our mental health issues – may feel that we have or are putting our loved-ones through.  

But of course, I have no doubt, that this was not Laura’s intention on writing the piece.  And in truth the child (whether adult or not) with mental health issues did not ask to have those issues, any more than the parent of a child with mental health issues asked to have a child with those issues.  

This guild exists as a community for those who write about mental health in order to fight the stigma attached to it and in order to raise awareness of the issues associated with it.  This piece, I believe, raises awareness of an aspect of mental illness and mental health which, sadly, too often goes overlooked.

My heart, my respect and my prayers go out for Laura and all that she and her son are experiencing, and indeed for all parents of children (of whatever age) who experience these difficulties.  And I hope that this piece will encourage other parents who are experiencing such difficulties and let them know that they are not – despite how it feels – alone in their struggles.]