Major Changes are Coming to this Blog Soon- Please Read
By: Samantha Steiner
So as some of you know, I am IN LOVE with writing and always have been. Well, I have been accepted to write for a few different Freelance websites and websites where people can hire me to write for them and I can, finally, start to gain some professional experience and grow a portfolio with all kinds of diverse topics and types of writing formats and styles in it. Continue reading
Things To Ask When Starting a New Medication
By: Samantha Steiner
Bring a notepad to your appointment or in this day and age open up the notepad app in your smartphone and take notes. Sometimes Remember your pharmacists will actually have more, and better, answers for you than your actual doctor will. Continue reading
Keeping Your Mental Health Happy
By: Samantha Steiner
In order to maintain stability with your mental health, there are a few things that you need to do on a regular basis to keep yourself healthy in mind and body. I have put together a simple list of the things that I believe are the most important to keep your mental health happy and well balanced and most of all to keep you happy too! Continue reading
Creating a Daily Mood Journal
By: Samantha Steiner
For those of you who are anal about keeping track of all things mental health like, how you have felt during the day, what symptoms you had and so on… a mood journal is for you. All you need is a notebook and pen, both your pick. You can keep track of as much as you want or of as little as you want. Think is YOUR mood journal. You don’t even have to show it to anyone unless you feel like you. Sometimes it is best to let your therapist glance at it once in awhile so they can see you where you at. Continue reading
You can create an Impulse Control Log notebook if your goal is to try to distract yourself from self-injury, or you want to limit it, or even try to stop it all together. You can even create one on the notepad on your smartphone or tablet if you are on the go. Do whatever is going to be best for you. Self-injury is a highly judged and misunderstood coping mechanism that many people resort to when dealing with their feelings, emotional pain and trauma for many different reasons. It was a very addictive behavior and can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Continue reading
I am not entirely sure if this will open for everyone but this is worth a shot. This is something I created for myself using MS Excel to help track my moods since they were all over the place at times. I haven’t used it for awhile now so I know I would need to update it to make it more relevant to my needs during this stage of my life. Continue reading
My First Month Sober
By: Samantha Steiner
My last drink was around 11 PM on Saturday, April 8th, 2017. I was drinking with a girl that I conceded to be my best friend of almost 20 years and two of her cousins. Some stuff went down and we basically lost touch after that. It’s not my story to tell so I will not get into what happened. After I got sober, I basically lost my best friend and that hurts more than anything. However, all we literally did, over 20 years, was get high and drunk together. I love this girl to death though and I will always love her.
Now, to get back on topic, when I had my last drink I was attending a partial hospitalization program called Adult Transitions for my dual diagnosis which is mental health issues along with substance abuse problems. Not only was I a total binge drinker but I also smoked weed and I used to do whatever drugs I could get my hands on. My therapist at A.T. (Adult Transitions) made me realize that it is not really normal to not be able to stop after one drink. At A.T. we would have 3 hours of group therapy so between my therapist and the group I really started to see how much of a problem that I had.
I made excuses for my drinking. I figured that since I was able to stop drinking daily all on my own I didn’t need any help. I didn’t need AA. I didn’t think I had that much of a problem, even though everyone else sure thought I had a problem. I started to wonder if maybe there really was something to what everyone else was telling me.
My therapist would urge me to go to an AA meeting but like with everything else, I would make excuses for not going. I would say that I don’t need to go because I don’t drink every day anymore, or that I can’t go alone, or that I wouldn’t have a way there, or that AA was for quitters (ha!). I would say whatever I could think of. The only time I would admit to having a problem was when I was already wasted and feeling severely depressed. That’s when I would be able to tell that something wasn’t quite right.
I didn’t like the thought of never being able to drink again. Nobody likes being told the word never. It is a very powerful and permanent word. AA is all about, “One day at a time,” But I didn’t know how to do one day at a time. My mind would just go to the future. How was I going to stay sober during holidays and birthdays? I just couldn’t picture it, at first. How do you learn to live one day at a time when it was hard to stay in the present moment to begin with? I had a lot of learning and growing up to do.
I had been drinking and using drugs for 16 years which is over half my life so that was really all I knew. At first, quitting drinking wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I went to my first AA meeting 7 days in. I was extremely nervous and my boyfriend went with me for support because there was no was that I was going to go alone. I am a very codependent person which is something I really need to work on. One thing at a time though.
My first meeting was kind of overwhelming but everyone was so nice and welcoming. I kind of got a cultish type of vibe though. I was scared at first though because I was the only female there. I thought, Oh no, my very first meeting and I showed up to a men’s only meeting! I was freaking out! When the chairman starting speaking he really messed with me and looked right at me (it was a small, cozy meeting) and said, “Welcome, to the _________ men’s only Meeting.” My jaw dropped, I turned bright red and everyone started laughing. He was just screwing with me. Talk about an awkward ice breaker. Needless to say, I ended up making that my home group. I just felt comfortable there even though many women don’t show up to that Saturday night meeting. However, that group does also have a Sunday and Monday night meeting as well.
I felt relieved after my first meeting though. I couldn’t figure out why I had been so nervous in the first place. After that, I started going to meetings regularly, just not as much as I would like since I have to rely on rides at the moment, and I even found a sponsor within my third day of attending meetings. It took a while to open up to my sponsor but once I did, I was glad I did. She is my rock when I need someone to talk to as well as some of the other people that I have become good friends with that are in recovery.
At first, I thought there was nothing too much to this staying sober thing. I didn’t really have many hard urges or cravings; they were more just like passing thoughts. Like, hmm, I am bored I could go for a drink but nah I don’t need to. However, as more time went on it got a little harder. The more I got stressed, the harder the urges got. I wasn’t an everyday drinker, so I should have realized that the urges wouldn’t kick in right away or even all the time. They are only once in a while. Kind of like my drinking habits. When I did drink, I went all out though. I drink too much in such a short period of time. I had to be the one to drink more than everyone else. I had to be the one with the strongest drinks. I had to be the one who blacked out at the end of the night. It was getting unmanageable and out of hand. My drinking went from wanting to drink to needing to drink especially in times of emotional stress or pain, which is the worst time to drink since alcohol is a depressant.
I would be fine for a few hours but by the time I got home and was trapped inside my own head and alone at night, after getting wasted, I would get depressed, suicidal, start self-harming, cry hysterically, yell, scream, argue, and whatever else you could think of that was negative. I just couldn’t control myself and I guess that is not normal. More so, I know that is not normal.
As of today Monday, May 29th. 2017 I am 1 month and 20 days sober. Within the past 20 days, I have been way more agitated, emotional, angry and feeling out of control with my emotions. A new, and good, friend from AA told me that it is most likely caused by new sobriety. I was not prepared for the mood changes. On top of being bipolar, I didn’t need anything else to affect my mood. Staying sober is worth it though. Some days I still doubt my sobriety when I am feeling really low. I will wonder if I made the right decision even though in the back of my mind I know that I would not have been able to stay on the same path that I was on and that my life had become unmanageable (step one). I feel like it is normal to doubt yourself sometimes when you are making a major life change for yourself.
1 month and 21 days ago, I could have never pictured getting sober. It was not even an option for me. I am working on my one day at a time. And today, I am going to have to work on one moment at a time since it is Memorial Day—a major drinking holiday. Or at least, it was for me. I have only made it through one other holiday sober which was Easter since I have decided to get clean. It was easier than I thought but it was still when everything was peachy before I became so angry and irritable about everything. I know that if I need help I can always call my sponsor or one of my friends in recovery and that they will always be there for me. As everyone in recovery always tells me, “Recovery is a WE thing. You are never alone.”
Coping Techniques For Anxiety, Panic Attacks, PTSD, Etc…
By: Samantha Steiner Continue reading
What you can try to do Instead of Self-Injuring
If you are a self-injurer and you are looking for alternatives to your method of harming (we’ll say cutting since that is my first choice) here is a list of alternatives to try before picking, let’s say, a razor. Continue reading
Trapped & Over Thinking
By: Samantha Steiner
The one thing people don’t seem to realize about mental illness unless you deal with it first hand is that you can get trapped in your own mind more often than not. You can also overthink things way too much as well. It feels like getting lost inside of a maze and not being able to find your way out. It can get really disturbing and distracting at times. Continue reading
*I know it’s a little late to be posting this since I’ll be 31 in August. but Better late than never! *
- Sometimes you’ve got to learn to walk away from everything you thought you knew in order to grow.
- It’s better to learn to feel your emotions no matter how painful it is instead of always stuffing them down.
- The sun will always shine after the every storm.
- Everything will eventually be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.
- If you want people to respect you and your opinions then you have to respect them and their opinions.
- Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
- You have to pick and choose your battles. Not everything needs to always be a fight.
- Watch how you treat people because you never know what someone else is dealing with.
- Sometimes the person with the biggest smile is the one hurting the most.
- Sometimes you need to learn to trust in something greater than yourself.
- Everyone handles things differently.
- Change is always possible if you put your mind and it.
- You don’t always have to say yes to every little request.
- Losing a friend isn’t the end of the world. People grow apart at times.
- It is possible to live one day at s time.
- A sponsor is a big part of maintaining sobriety.
- You can never take back words that have already been spoken so watch what you say.
- Not everyone has your best interest at heart.
- Crying is not a sign of weakness.
- If you don’t like yourself, find one tiny thing that you do like about yourself and repeat it to yourself over and over again until you start to believe it and then move onto the next things.
- Pets can show you what true love really is.
- Don’t judge a person for their past because everyone has one and has done things that they are not proud of.
- Everyone is worthy or love.
- You shouldn’t tell everyone, every little detail of your life.
- There is no such thing as perfect.
- Help out another when you can.
- Always show appreciation and gratitude.
- Never give up.
- Life is too short to hold on to the past.
- If you’re not happy, make a change.
My Newest Diagnosis & How it came to be
Earlier this month, May 10th, 2017, my therapist diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after I finally opened up about certain events in my life. I always thought I had some sort of trauma in my life but I never truly believed it since I never got to process it. I always pushed down some of the things that have happened to me in my life. I had also developed a dissociative disorder and certain addictions so pushing things down and away was fairly easy for me.
I got clean on April 8th, 2017 as of 11 pm so I no longer have drugs and alcohol to help suppress my emotions anymore. Therefore, emotions and memories have been flooding back to me unexpectedly. I still deal with my dissociative disorder though, so I feel like some things will never come back to me. I can’t be too sure though because, at this point, anything is possible.
I will get a certain flooding of emotions, feelings, flashbacks with hard and disturbing thoughts. Things will seem and feel like they happened just a few moments ago or just yesterday instead of years ago. The memories will become so vivid like they are happening all over again and I will be able to recall such great detail. It can get so painful at times having to relive certain situations again and again.
My step dad, now my mom’s ex, was very emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive to my sister, my mom, my two brothers and myself. His name was Pete, and he was my little sister’s dad. He had no relation to my brothers or I. He was an alcoholic/addict. He was always high on something. He would get extremely violent and physically abuse my mom and brothers. There was even a time when he threw me down a flight of steps and told me to go to the middle of the woods and kill myself so no one would be able to find me. When my one brother, let’s call him Joe, was ten years he told me that he wanted to kill himself because of Pete. He was only ten! Pete would pick on him the most and he would try to strangle him on multiple occasions as well. I would usher Joe to my bedroom and lock him in there with me to try to protect him. I felt like I needed to protect everyone from Pete, all the time. My sleep was constantly disrupted and still is, because I would have to make sure I could wake up quick if I heard yelling, hitting, throwing or anything else. I felt it was my job to protect them. I was six years older than my brothers and five years older than my sister.
I had to start dealing with Pete at the tender age of three or four before my sister was even born. Pete was the reason that I even start self-injuring in the first place. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 12 years old and I heard my mom screaming behind her locked bedroom door, begging him to stop hitting her. I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I don’t know why, because I had never heard about it at the time or even seen it on TV, but I took a knife from the kitchen and locked myself in the bathroom and drug the knife across the untouched pale, white flesh of my forearm. Cutting became an addiction for me after that. A way to relieve the pressure I was feeling inside.
Growing up, my siblings and I were so depressed and unhappy because of Pete. And my mom was too scared of him to leave him. Pete’s household slogan was, “What happens here stays here.” We weren’t allowed to talk about what went down at home out of fear of being punished. I was the only one not scared of talking back to him. I didn’t care what he did to me. Besides, I was already suicidal by that point in my life—my early teens.
He treated my sister the best out of everyone though, that was probably only because she was his own flesh and blood. My sister hates him, even to this day. Pete also treated my other brother, Jake, decent as well. It was like Jake was under some sort of mind control. He would do whatever Pete said pretty much most of the time.
I remember this one time, Pete could not find his Methadone, he was a heroin addict as well, and he woke everyone in the house up at 5 am and started throwing things, yelling, flipping tables over, threatening us, he even made everyone go through the disgusting garbage to look for the Methadone bottle! It was completely ridiculous! And stuff like that happened all of the time too, and sometimes much worse happened. I also pulled a knife on him and tried going after him a few times while I was trying to protect my family from him. I had dissociated during a few of those knife episodes as well. There is so much more that he has done to my family and I that I could write an extensive novel.
Another big life altering event that caused my PTSD was the fact that I was raped, more than once. The first time, I was attacked by a stranger when I was about 14 years old and then any self-respect I had for myself went out the window. I didn’t care about anything anymore. I tried whatever I could to numb the pain that was so deep inside of me. The next time it happened, I was 18 years old, and the even worse part was that it was directly on my 18th birthday. I had gone somewhere with a friend and I had gotten trashed. I had laid down and a couch and this guy that I met a few times climbed on top if me and wouldn’t get off of me. I tried to fight but I was too messed up. I tried to scream and yell but nothing came out. I had also been taken advantage of in relationships because some of the guys I dated thought that since I was their girlfriend that they could have sex with me whenever they pleased even if I said no.
Abuse comes in many different forms and I have also been mentally and emotionally abused my whole life by many different people, too many people to name actually. I’ve been told I’m worthless, fat, ugly, dumb, no good, stupid, lazy, and unlovable and anything else negative that you could possibly think of. I’ve been made to feel all those things about myself as well. I don’t love myself, I don’t even like myself! I feel like everything that has happened to me is all my fault and that I am always the one to blame for everything.
I am slowly working on myself though. It is a process. It will take time. I might not feel like I am totally worth anything yet but I try to tell myself positive affirmations every day. One day I will start to believe the things I tell myself. It just takes time. Everything in life just takes time.
New Thoughts on Mental Health in the Work Place
Over the past few months, I have learned how horrible and devastating it can be for it to get around your place of employment that you are struggling with mental illness and/or addiction. I have never, ever had the stigma be this bad before. I have been out of work on a psychiatric medical leave since 3/13/17 and I am out of work until further notice.
After I told my immediate supervisor what was going on, regarding my mental health, the next thing I knew it was all over my company that I was out of work for psych reasons. I don’t know who started it. Was it my supervisor breaking HIPPA or a “friend”? And I use quotes around the word friend because a real friend would never mention something as serious as your mental health at work.
A month after being out of work on medical leave was when I also had enough of my addictions and decided to get clean. I wish I could say that I am so much better by now, but I’m not. I don’t see myself returning to work anytime in the near future either and my FMLA ran out already. I was supposed to return to work on 5/25/17 but I haven’t as of yet. I am too ashamed to return to a place where everyone knows my personal business. No one needs to know these specific things about me or my life. My mental health was supposed to be confidential. I have been laughed at, made fun of, and told to get over it. Get over it, huh, like it’s that easy. Like I made the conscious decision to have my mind and emotions stay this way.
The Human Resources Department for the Lehigh Region on my company seems to act like since mental illness can’t be seen or physically felt, that there is no reason to miss work. I am so close to getting laid off without having FMLA under my belt anymore. HR even cut my medical insurance already. I even have a valid medical note but my job doesn’t seem to care either way. I really wish I would have never told anyone at my place of employment that I was out for psychiatric reasons. Things would have been so much easier and less stressful for me that way. It is amazing to me how many people still stigmatize mental illness, especially employers.
The whole reason I even went out on medical leave in the first place was due to a mental breakdown caused by work-related stress. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take anything anymore. I was a Senior Direct Support Professional in a residential group home, which means I was basically the assistant manager of the group home and I had no direction or support from my immediate supervisor. Or at least, that is what it felt like to me. I was under so much pressure and already having multiple mental health issues did not help much either.
One would think that since the company was about caring for individuals with mental illness and special needs that they would be more considerate of employees who were going through the same things, but that was so far from the truth. I really don’t want to return to a place that has double standards. It’s really not worth it anymore.
This is Gary’s Story: (submitted May 2017)
“My name is Gary. I have a severe social phobia called Paruresis, also called shy bladder syndrome. There are a lot of people out there with shy bladders, but Paruresis is much more serious, it is the inability to urinate anywhere outside of the home. It severely damages the quality of one’s life. I have lost many jobs dues to not being able to use the restrooms at work. I would have to make up a story about being sick just to go home and use the bathroom. When it comes to random drug testing for a job, forget it! I cannot go too far from home because as soon as I have to pee, I have to get home as soon as I can. I have spent two years in therapy, but it is a very long process of healing. Some people have gotten better but never 100%. Before I ever started therapy I was in such bad shape that if I was out in public and I even thought about using the restroom I would break out in a sweat. I have dealt with this for as long as I can remember, but after a couple years of therapy I can at least go into little stores with private bathrooms, which to many may seem like very little progress but for me it is huge. As a teenager, while my friends would go off to concerts, to the movies, the beach, etc… I would stay behind. I had always felt too ashamed to tell anyone about my issues. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew that I was not like other people, something was wrong with me. I also had severe social anxiety. Even with some of my best friends, I didn’t speak very often unless it was one on one. Today I have broken down that wall and I can now talk to almost anyone, even in groups. Although the Paruresis is still very much a thorn in my social life, my hope is that if there is someone reading this who may have the same issues, know that you are not alone, and the is hope. People with Paruresis can improve with what is called gradual exposure therapy. It is a long process but very helpful. I know most people like me are ashamed to talk about it, but talking is the first step in recovering.”
Talking about it is the first step. Contact me (Gary) At Gary.Bassler@yahoo.com
**For More Information On this Disorder Please Check Out This Website Paruresis.org (Link Provided By Gary.. Please Thank Him.)**
Hi! My Name is Samantha and I Have a Dual Diagnosis!By: Samantha Steiner
By: Samantha Steiner
I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder Mixed when I was just fourteen years old. Also, that happened to be the year that I became an alcohol and drug addict as well. Being Bipolar seems to go hand in hand with any form of addiction. This seems to happen to so many people around the world that are dealing with any form of mental illness that also turn to mind altering substances on a regular basis, right? I know I can’t be the only one out there.
Being Bipolar is hard enough of a struggle and then I went and made everything worse by adding alcohol and drugs into the mix. Alcoholism and drugging can also be a symptom of an impending mood change for me. If I was starting to get manic or hypomanic, I seemed to want and crave getting messed up even more. However, if I was starting towards a depressive episode than the same wants and cravings started to happen as well. It was not always a mood related thing when I felt like I wanted to get wasted, even though that was the case a majority of the time. I would even drink when I was feeling fine; I would be happy, chipper, outgoing, and just trying to have a good time.
My drinking and drugging didn’t start totally bad at first. But I would tend to binge drink. When I was sixteen, I had my first taste of alcohol poisoning. And let me tell you, it was not fun. I was just out skipping school, hanging out with friends and just getting so wasted. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed, full of tubes and my mother was sitting in a chair in front of my bed. I couldn’t seem to be able to do the simplest things like form words or even speak. I had no idea what happened or when. I couldn’t remember the past few hours no matter how hard I tried. After waking up from what felt like being in a coma; I looked at my mom just sitting there and staring at me. She looked so sad and disappointed in me. I find that I am a disappointing person in general. Looking at my mom, I felt so low, dumb and stupid. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I was sure I was in for the yelling of my life when I got home. I wish I would have taken the alcohol poisoning as a warning to proceed with caution and to stop drinking. But I didn’t. It was years later before I took those difficult steps towards getting clean.
As the years went on, and I got older, my drinking and drug use grew into something stronger as well. I was using whatever I could get my hands on and drinking whatever I could find that would get me buzzed and beyond. My bad habits were starting to weigh down hard on my mental health. I was getting more and more depressed. During one of my depressive episodes, I had drunk an entire bottle of hard liquor all myself. I put a depressing song on repeat and started cutting away at a vein in my foot until I really started to bleed out. Between the depressed state of mind and the alcohol, I was gone. I just wanted to die because I felt I had no other way out from the horrible things that were going on in my head or from my problems. I’ve heard the quote that says, “Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.” However, I couldn’t get that through my mind at that time. I could see no other way out.
From there on, no matter how happy I would get, my using would just bring me down more and more; over and over. I would be out drinking with the person that was supposed to be my best friend, and we would have the best night ever. But then, when I got home and my boyfriend went to bed, I would be left alone with my thoughts and they would turn real dark, real quick even though I just had the best time of my life. I would start to over think and then the uncontrollable tears would start to flow; slowly at first, but then turning hysterical. I would yell and scream; throw things and get violently angry. I would black out and do terrible things like attempt suicide, self-harm, and say things to purposely hurt the ones that I loved and cared about the most. Then, the next morning I would wake up with a horrible hangover and half a memory about the things that I had done, feel like crap, feel guilty and shameful for how I had reacted the previous night. And then do it all over again within the next day or two.
I had let myself get to the point where occasional drinking, became every other day drinking, which ultimately led to me drinking almost every single day. By this point, I could hardly remember my own name, if I was supposed to be at work, who I had said what to, or basically anything at all. It was bad, and I was becoming way and way more aggressive towards everyone. My moods were all over the place. They were cycling faster than ever before. I was utterly hopeless, but I was nowhere near ready to seek help yet; No matter how bad and unmanageable my life had become I still wasn’t ready.
One night, I had over-dosed on almost every medication I had, on multiple illegal drugs, and got liquored up. I was completely in a psychosis mode. I was hearing and seeing things that were not there. I was hallucinating and yelling at my, now ex, boyfriend and telling him how much I hated him and didn’t want to be with him. I lost my mind. I kept hitting him and slamming his arm in the bedroom door. However, I kept flowing in-and-out of consciousness so I really don’t remember a lot.
I called my mom, she moved me in with her and my siblings that same night, I continued to pop pills and drink and then I called my friend, Mike, over to come save me because I told him I needed him. Within minutes he was there. I felt like I was lost, out-of-control- and broken. I felt like I hit rock bottom and things were once again, unmanageable for me. I freaked out so much more and told my mom and Mike that I wanted to go inpatient for the behavioral health unit and Mike drove me over. This was in May of 2012.
After I got out of the psych ward, I felt like a new woman—again; At least for a little. I told myself that I was never going to drink again. That very evening, June 1St, 2012, Mike asked me to be his girlfriend, and even though I had just got out of a rocky relationship, that I caused, I said yes. Within less than two weeks of leaving the hospital, I started to feel unsteady again, and I started to drink again. I thought I could handle it this time. I thought I could moderate and just have one or two drinks, but why? No one else was having one or two either? Isn’t binge drinking normally for everyone, anyway? People would try to cut me off and I would just get mad and scream and argue and then steal some more anyway. This was my bipolar life! I was going to do as I pleased! However, I did find out that I have lost the job I had while I was out on psych leave due to a failed urine test for drugs and alcohol being present in my system. Is this still my life?
After Mike and I moved in together my drinking and drugging kept up pretty heavy until one drunken night when I tried to stab him during a mixed episode of depression and manic rage. After that, that was it. I begged him not to leave me. I told him I wouldn’t drink anymore. At that moment I meant it. The key word being: at that moment. He put his foot down and said no more drinking for a while and no more drinking alone in the house. I accepted his terms resiliently because I did not want to lose him. I knew I messed up big time. I had already begun to mourn the loss of my precious booze the moment he said it. However, I knew he would cave in eventually; which he did.
As the weeks went on, he would let me drink at family and friends houses a few times a week. But as with what was becoming normal, the overwhelming depression would just set in and then I could cry and cry and cry. And sometimes I wouldn’t even know why I was crying. Mike would get sick of it and want to leave me every time it happened. So he reduced it to once a week. But it still happened. Then I could only drink like three times a month but I would binge drink hardcore. I would drink more than everyone else, faster than everyone else. And I wouldn’t stop until there was nothing left. By the time I would get home I would become so angry at everyone and everything. I would feel completely suicidal and try over-dosing on pills almost every time. It was just horrible; horrible for me; my health; my mental health; and my loved ones.
My last drink was on April 8th, 2017. I just lost it mentally that day. I ruined relationships, overreacted and freaked out over nothing. I don’t know how or why but I really messed things up that night. Nothing has been the same for me since my sober date. I truly had hit my personal rock bottom this time. I admitted to a Higher Power that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. I wish I could say that quitting drinking has been the easiest thing that I have ever done but it’s not. I no longer have ways as a quit fix for my emotional problems but I am working on healthy alternatives each day and it does get better. I know that avoiding mind altering substances is the best thing for me, my health and my future.
So I decided that I am going to try blogging on this site again. I realized that SOME of my past blogs weren’t exactly up to par, so I am going to TRY to make some of my new posts a little better. I can’t guarantee anything though! Haha.
So please be patient with me while I create more posts!
The struggle of living with Bipolar Disorder (manic-depression) is real, regardless if you are newly diagnosed or have been diagnosed for years. Bipolar Disorder can be a debilitating disorder if left untreated. It can even be hard for people who have been in treatment for years. Bipolar disorder is, more often than not, a genetic disorder. However, it can also be caused by environmental factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, a triggering situation or hormonal problems. The actual definition of bipolar disorder is; a mental disorder marked by alternating periods of euphoria and depression.
There are four main types of Bipolar Disorders; Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Mixed Episodes, and Bipolar Disorder with rapid cycling.
Bipolar I is categorized as:
Have had experienced at least one manic episode, which needs to have lasted for at least a week, or severe enough to have needed to be hospitalized. For roughly 50-60% of people with this type of disorder, they will have also experienced depressive episodes as well. Usually, these tend to have occurred following a manic episode.
Bipolar II is categorized as:
Having this type of bipolar disorder mean you have experienced at least one hypomanic episode and at least one depressive episode in your lifetime. The period of hypomania needs to be at least for, four days.
Mixed Episodes is categorized as:
Having a mixed episode means you have experienced both symptoms or mania and depression at the same time. Your symptoms have had to last for a minimum of a week to be diagnosed with this type. Having feelings of sadness, agitation, irritability and euphoria can occur together at the same time. It sometimes tends to feel like your laughing and crying at the same time.
Rapid Cycling is categorized as:
This type means that you have a diagnosis or either bipolar I or II and that you have experienced four or more episodes within a year. These episodes can occur in any order. Some people may experience more than four episodes of illness in a year. Some people can even experience multiple episodes within a twenty-four hour period.
The major difference between hypomania and mania are that hypomania is a briefer and less intense than mania. Hypomania is not associated with psychosis (the definition of psychosis is; a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with outside reality) or hospitalization. Full blown mania is more severe and at times, requires hospitalization.
Criteria for Hypomania:
- Mood is either elevated and unrestrained or irritable.
- The change in mood lasts for at least four days and is different from normal mood.
- The change of mood is distinct from usual mood and significant enough for others to notice the change. The change of mood is not serious enough to totally impair ability to work or relate to others at this time. No presence of psychosis symptoms.
Criteria for Mania:
- Mood is either elevated and unrestrained or irritable.
- The change in mood lasts for at least a week. Less only if hospitalization is necessary.
- This change in mood is severe with significant difficulties in being able to work and maintain social relationships at this time. Symptoms may be severe enough to require hospitalization and psychosis may be present.
There are many different signs and symptoms that a hypomanic or manic episode is under way. Some of these signs and symptoms are as follows;
Changes in behavior:
- More focused on goals and/or projects.
- Starting more activities, projects, plans, etc… Pretty much overloading yourself with new ideas.
- More outgoing.
- Increased energy levels.
- More active.
- Talking faster and/ more talkative.
- Talking louder than usual.
- Needing less sleep and feeling awake in alert upon waking up.
- Being more reckless than normal.
- Excessive spending.
- Drinking or using drugs.
Changes in feelings:
- Feeling more confident than normal.
- Feeling like you are on top of the world and can accomplish/do anything.
- An increase in your sex drive.
- Feeling more irritable.
- Feeling more anxious than normal.
- Feeling more important and special.
- Feelings of euphoria and elevated mood.
- Feelings like you need to buy more things that you necessarily don’t need but really want at that moment in time.
Changes in thoughts and perception
- Color may seem more vibrant than usual.
- Thoughts of bring more attractive than usual.
- Thoughts of being much better than others.
- Experience some hallucinations and psychosis. (Example: hearing or seeing things that is not really there.)
On the other end of the bipolar spectrum comes depression; A devastating phase that can hurt you the most. Depression can be cruel and mean. At its worst, it can sometimes make you feel like there is no longer a point in living. It can mess with your perception of things, life and your thoughts. Making things seem worse than they truly are.
Some of the signs of depression can be:
- Feeling more irritable and/or anxious than normal.
- Feeling sad or down more often than not.
- Feeling more tired and drained or fatigued.
- Feeling bad about yourself, your appearance, and the things that you do.
- Feeling of guilt or self-blame.
- Feeling worthless.
- Feeling hopeless and helpless.
- Feeling like there is no point to life.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Withdrawing and isolating.
- Increased drinking and/or drug use.
- Changes in appetite.
- Changes in sleep.
- Feeling slow and sluggish.
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- Feeling like no one understands how you’re feeling or what you are going through.
- Feeling like you don’t want to get out of bed.
- Feeling like you just can’t deal with things anymore.
- Feeling overwhelmed more than usual.
- Feeling numb, like you can no longer feel your emotions or feeling lack of pleasure and joy.
- Negative feelings and self-talk.
- Feeling negative about your future or feeling like you can’t see your future anymore.
If you ever feel suicidal, feel like you are going to hurt yourself or feel like you can’t deal with things anymore; PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention line at 1-888-237-8255. This suicide prevention line is available 24/7, free, and confidential. You do not have to struggle alone. You can also look up your local Warm Line number if you just feel like you need someone to talk to or discuss things with. This is also free and confidential. Or you can go to your nearest hospital and go to the emergency department and tell them you are having thoughts of self-harm and/or are feeling suicidal. You are never alone!
Being bipolar is hard enough to deal with but there is help out there, no matter where you live. Seek out your local mental health office or clinic or go to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance at http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home for more information about where to find help for depression and bipolar disorder, educational training, peer support, wellness options and more.
You can also go to the website for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml for more information on mental health.
If you have insurance, you can also call the Behavioral Health line through your insurance to find out where you can go to seek mental health treatment.
Treatment is very important for someone who is bipolar. You may need to see a psychiatrist or even a therapist to help you deal with your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. There is much more help and support for someone with any form of mental illness than there used to be. You just have to ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help or seek treatment. It may be scary at first but you will quickly realize how helpful it is for you and your mental and emotional well being.