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Isolating in Isolation

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Let’s explore the topic of Isolation..

There are many instances of mental health sufferers who don’t have the help to cope with mental illness on a regular basis and this quarantine epidemic makes things 100x worse. You may have asked yourself, “What am I to do to cope during this crisis?? Who really understands what its like to isolate in an isolation??” Believe me I have asked myself the same questions. Its one thing to isolate by choice and another thing to isolate by force.

So what does isolation mean to me??

Isolation for me means withdrawal from my family and friends, frequent mood changes and depression episodes. Sometimes, when I try to climb my way out of the darkness the only thing that helps is to sleep and even that’s a battle in itself. There are days where I am pacing the floor and nothing helps to calm me down. Days when the days and hours seem to blend together and its hard to take things one day at a time. This is when I pray for God to ease my anxiety and give me his peace. (Philippians 4: 6 – 7) Sometimes it doesn’t help immediately. But, it gives me hope that God is aware of my struggles and things will and can get better soon.

And what do I do about it??

During times like these I play Scrabble with my friends. Try to reread my favorite books. When I can’t sleep I listen to music that calms me. For stress management I do adult coloring (these can be found at Walmart and Amazon.) There is also an app called What’s Up App in the playstore (its red and has two hands joined together) where you can create a monthly mood chart, play mindfulness games and use their additional coping skills for anxiety and stress. If all else fails I send a encouraging call or text to someone else who may be struggling with similar issues. This helps to “get out of myself” and think of others. This encourages me to know I’m not alone.

So in essence I am saying don’t give up! Don’t give in! Trust me…I know its hard. But, you gotta keep fighting for your sanity and the peace you deserve. Try your best to not isolate and if you find yourself slipping please feel to reach out here or to someone you trust. Recently I connected with someone on YouTube who has the exact same symptoms and struggles I have. She has been a real comfort and I know there is someone out there for you too.

Be well and safe!

 

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32 Pills: Suicide & Ruth Litoff

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Blown away!! The 1st two words I could think of to best describe my take on this riveting documentary about the life and suicide of Ruth Litoff told through the eyes of her sister Hope. The documentary was released in 2017 and is currently on HBO OnDemand. I had this on my watchlist for about a month and just decided to check it out last night. I was not prepared for the depth, tragedy, artistic expression and passion of Ruth’s life. Now I’m not really an “art” person. But, check these out for yourself:

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Original art of Ruth Litoff via Goggle Images.

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Nice, right??!! Ruth was creative and artistic beyond description. There are tons of original pieces on Google and more information about her life and legacy. I did not want to start with the details of her suicide because she was much more than mentally ill. Her family and friends speak of her as complex, beautiful, secure within herself and much more. Although the documentary had a lot of nudity, it really captured the essence of who Ruth was. One of my favorite movies, Gia, about the life and death of Gia Carengi, one of the 1st American supermodels who contracted AIDS in the 80s, is very similar.

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Ruth & Hope in happier times.

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They should have been twins, right?? Adorable!!

Ruth literally wrote every detail, kept every medication, every picture, medical document in tons of storage containers in an effort to share her creativity and inner demons with her sister Hope. In certain scenes of the documentary Hope became obsessed with Ruth and it began to really affect her life and family in negative ways. To the point that Hope started drinking to cope with the pain and guilt of losing her sister.

Her “favorite person”… “Her everything.”

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Ruth kept pills from every prescription she ever had. Wow!!

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Hope putting the pieces together…

I was definitely in research mode after watching this!! There a lot of similarities between bipolar and BPD (bipolar personality disorder.) You may also want to check out Girl, Interrupted, the autobiography of Susanna Kaisen. I know you remember the movie with Winona Ryder, Brittany Murphy and Angelina Jolie. Borderline people are toxic together. I would say Ruth was codependent and Hope was controlling. But, that’s just my opinion.

This blog entry was created to raise awareness of mental illness and its many dimensions. Let’s continue to share our stories with truth and transparency.

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Infinitely Polar Bear

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On a scale from 1 to 10 I give it a 7. Truly a fascinating story! Infinitely Polar Bear is the story of a bipolar individual (Mark Ruffalo) who takes over sole responsibility for his two spirited daughters while his wife (Zoe Saldana) attends graduate school in New York.

The 1st time I watched it I was speechless. I decided to watch it again to really tune in to the experience of what its like for a family coping with a mentally ill father. The movie gives a multi-dimensional look into what it feels like to go completely manic only to come crashing down and fall into severe depression. The story takes place in 1960s Boston.

However, I wouldn’t advise watching it while kids are present until you see it first. Aside from the bad language it really gave range into the acting ability of Zoe Saldana. Movies like this are powerful for up and coming actors/actresses because it takes them out of their comfort zone into unknown territory. Mark Ruffalo gave an awesome performance as well! The storyline was very raw and relevant for 21st century mental illness sufferers. Every bipolar experience is different and this one was timeless. I would recommend it for people who suffer from the extreme highs of bipolar disorder. You can watch this one for free at http://putlocker.com

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His power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Trauma in the Brain

There are three main parts of the brain which are greatly affected by experiences severe or chronic traumatic events.

Hippocampus
The hippocampus processes trauma memories, by recycling the memory, mostly at night via dreams, which takes place over weeks or months. It then transfers the integrated stored memory to another part of the brain. High levels of stress hormones causes the hippocampus to shrink or under-develop, resulting in impaired function. Childhood traumas exaggerates this effect. The trauma memory therefore remains unprocessed in the hippocampus, disintegrated, fragmented, and feels “current” rather than in the past. Some people can be born with a smaller hippocampus making them more vulnerable to develop PTSD.

Amygdala
The brains “fear center.” The amygdala helps to store memories, paticularly emotions and physical sensations. It also controls activation of stress hormones … the body’s flight or fight response. In PTSD, the amygdala becomes over-reactive causing frequent or near constant high levels of stress hormones.

Pre-frontal Cortex
The pre-frontal cortex helps us to asses threats, manage emotion, plan reaponses, and control impulses. It is the centre of rational thinking. Childhood trauma causes under-development of the pre-frontal cortex, which results in impaired ability to assess theeat through thinking, manage emotions and control impulses.

Untwist Your Thinking (10)

  1.  Identify the Distortion: Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you’re involved in. This will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic way.
  2. Examine the evidence: Instead of assuming that your negative thought it true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.
  3.  The Double Standard Method: Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.
  4.  The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if, during an episode of panic, you become terrified that you’re about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or rum up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart is healthy and strong.
  5.  Thinking in Shades of Gray: Although this method might sound drab, the effects can be things on a range from 0 to 100. When things don’t work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation.
  6.  The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you believe that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.
  7.  Define Terms: When you label yourself “inferior” or “a fool” or “a loser” ask, “What is  the definition of “a fool”? You will feel better when you see that there is no such thing as “a fool” or “a loser.”
  8.  The Semantic Method: Simply substitute language that is less colorful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for “should statements.” Instead of tellling yourself I shouldn’t have made that mistake,” you can say, “It would be better if I hadn’t made that mistake.”
  9. Re-attribution: Instead of automatically assuming that you are “bad” and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.
  10. Cost Benefit Analysis:  List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like “No matter how hard I try, I always screw up”), or a behavior pattern (like overrating and lying around in bed when you’re depressed.) You can also use the Cost-Benefit Analysis to modify a self-defeating belief such as, “I must always try to be perfect.”

Mental Books & Movies..

  • Books ii love!!

Mimi Baird – He Wanted the Moon

Manic – Terry Cheney

The Dark Side of  Innocence – Terry Cheney

Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen

Stonehearst Asylum –  Kate Beckinsale

  • Movies ii love!!

Out of the Darkness – Starring Diana Ross

A Beautiful Mind – Kevin Spacey

Touched by Fire -Starring Katie Holmes

Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen

32 Pills – On Demand  (Ruth Litoff)

Shutter Island – Leonardo DiCaprio

Inception – Leonardo Dicaprio

Infinitely Polar Bear – Zoe Saldana

Gothika – Halle Berry