《Found on Pinterest》
There are three main parts of the brain which are greatly affected by experiences severe or chronic traumatic events.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.”
Susanna Kaysen saw her troubled past re-created by Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted
By Sarah Saffian
Us, February 2000
WHEN WINONA RYDER FINALLY MET Susanna Kaysen, the writer she would be playing in Girl, Interrupted, the movie star was very nearly speechless. “She said. ‘lt’s you … I’m you … you’re me… I’m me!'” recalls Kaysen, who wrote the best-selling 1993 memoir on which the film is based. Like the movie, the book begins in 1967 when Kaysen, then 18, was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder after she swallowed 50 aspirin. In the wake of this suicide attempt, Kaysen was whisked off to McLean Hospital, near Cambridge, Mass., where she spent two years in a ward for teenage girls. “Of course, I was sad and puzzled,” Kaysen writes. “I was 18, it was spring, and I was behind bars.”
But Kaysen wasn’t sure if she was insane or simply suffering from a bad case of late-teen angst, symptoms of which include a fragile self image, moodiness and uncertainty about the future. All in all, it’s a situation to which Ryder could relate. Six years ago, when the actress first read Kaysen’s book, she was reminded of a similar breakdown in her own late teens: After having chronic anxiety attacks, depression and insomnia, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital for a week and began working with a therapist. The experience, though troubling, eventually helped Ryder bring depth and resonance to the character of Susanna.
“Winona’s own memory of what it’s like to feel alienation added gravity and a sense of purpose to her work in the film,” says Girl’s screenwriter-director James Mangold, 36. “Significant aspects of her personality–her sensitivity, the way she is so affected by things–fused well with aspects of Susanna’s. The movie is about who Winona is as much as it’s about who Susanna is.”
Still, Kaysen, now 51, was initially skeptical about the movie. When producer Douglas Wick approached the writer about buying the film rights to her memoir, “I thought he was crazy,” says Kaysen. “It’s not a narrative. It’s rather static and intellectual, and it has no obvious story line. How could they make a movie from this? I figured they would have to do radical things to it; otherwise, it’s just a bunch of girls sitting on the floor smoking cigarettes.”
Indeed, in adapting the book for the screen, Mangold decided to craft a cohesive, chronological narrative and to intensify the relationships between the characters. Most crucially, he fleshed out Susanna’s friendship with Lisa, a charismatic sociopath (played by Angelina Jolie) who serves as a symbol of rebellion and escape from the cares of the adult world. “In facing adulthood, Susanna can go two ways,” Mangold explains. “One is the way of the pod people in her parents world, marching off to war or college or family life; the other is Lisa’s way of seductive freedom.” Kaysen didn’t mind the changes. “If someone had told me what to do in my book, I would’ve killed thern,” she says. “But the movie is another endeavor, a variation on a theme. They can’t change what I wrote or my experiences in my life.”
Those experiences have been, by and large, internal. Kaysen has lived a fairly sedentary existence, as perhaps befits a writer. She has lived in Cambridge most of her life, including a brief stay on a commune. Although her father, Carl Kaysen, was an Ivy League economics professor, Kaysen resolutely avoided college, drifting instead from job to job, making a living as a copy editor and writing all the time. In 1987, she published her first novel, Asa, As I Knew Him, about a woman imagining her old flame’s youth, and followed it up with 1990’s Far AfieId, about an anthropologist doing research in the North Atlantic’s Faroe Islands. According to Kaysen the genesis of her memoir actually stemmed from her work on the latter novel: “There were paralels between being dropped into a foreign country and being dropped into the loony bin,” she says. These days, Kaysen still lives in Cambridge and suffers from depression, but says she has made peace with her demons, periodically seeing a psychologist, whom she calls her “tuneup woman.” She has also made peace with being alone. Although she was briefly married in her 20s, she has been single for most of her life. “I’ve been looking for a date for 10 years,” she admits, a fact that success hasn’t changed. “Fame, she says, “doesn’t bring a woman in America a date.”
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:
Original art of Ruth Litoff via Goggle Images.
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.
Ruth & Hope in happier times.
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.”
Ruth kept pills from every prescription she ever had. Wow!!
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.
My Take of Brain On Fire. Now on Netflix & also based on true events and the memoir of Susannah Cahalan.
Great news followers!! I am so excited!! I added this movie to my list a few days before I decided to check it out. I was anxious to see if it would give me more education on the topic of mental illness or at least a great storyline to share on this blog. It did not disappoint!! From beginning to end, I was hooked. The movie was based on a true story about a 20s something woman named Susannah Cahalan (played by Chloe Moretz) who was misdiagnosed with mental illness. She also experienced debilitating seizures, while also exhibiting classic bipolar and schizophrenic symptoms. Her family and doctors were baffled on what was going on with her and how to treat her symptoms.
Susannah had been written off as an alcoholic..under too much stress…partying too much etc. Actually, she had a “very rare” brain disorder that was very hard to treat. Her suffering broke my heart. But, hope took its place. Diagnosed in 2013 with bipolar disorder and suffering with depression all my life, her story hits close to home. It definitely made me wonder about my situation.
Every once in awhile a movie is made or a book is written that gives you chills or changes your life forever. It was heartbreaking to see her suffering, but it was also refreshing to see something real and tangible when it comes to mental illness diagnosis. Chloe Moretz really played this role and I believe it will catapult her acting career. She definitely has versatility, being so young and “up and coming” in Hollywood. This movie just proves that when you get the right doctor and the support of your family, anything is possible!!
I won’t give all the good stuff away. (No spoilers.)
I encourage you to check this movie out. Grab your tissue. Open a dialogue about mental illness. Share your story and keep pushing for your breakthrough!! Your future is not blocked. You got this!! There will be brighter days.
Mark Lukach writes his wife Guilia’s life story with so much love and compassionate you almost feel like he went through it with her. Their love story is definitely one for the ages and pushes the limits of “in sickness and in health” to the point of no return. It is a heart-wrenching yet hopeful marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.
Mark and Guilia’s life together began as a fairytale romance. They fell in love at eighteen, got married at twenty-four, and started their dream life in San Francisco soon after. But when Guilia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted, the next, she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe. Years thereafter, she suffered two more breaks after the birth of their 1st child.
An exploration of the fragility of the mind and the tenacity of the human spirit is tried and tested in the fire. A true love story for any couple facing unexpected mental illness and the hard road to wellness and recovery. Lukach’s devotion to his wife and family knows no bounds.
Grab the tissues and get ready to be inspired!!
Today. Its been awhile. I am still here. Still fighting. My oldest daughter was hospitalized today for severe depression & anxiety. Surprisingly, she was calm and cooperative. I have a family history of bipolar disorder and trauma, but many of my family members will not admit it. Thank God for small beginnings!! That beginning started with me. Yes. I was the first one to be diagnosed and have been on several psychotropic medications for 5 years. I take my meds everyday. One day of managing my illness is better than one second of pain. Some days still suck. But, mostly I am thankful and blessed to still be here. Many from our community lost the battle. Many are still in denial. Many families are devastated. But, I am hopeful because people like us raise awareness about mental illness and fight everyday to function and be well. This is a time of celebration!!
This blog was created to entertain. But, also to raise awareness about mental illness and stand up for the brave all over the world. So, am I sad for my daughter?? No way. Its a brand new day!! She is 21 with a bright future ahead of her.
Stay you. Stay strong.
The movie follows Ross McKenzie on his journey to discover the reasons for his mental breakdown in his early twenties.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Ross’ psychiatrist told him he would live with the disorder for the rest of his life and that he would have to take lithium to control symptoms. To Ross, taking the drug daily felt like a chemical lobotomy, leaving him in a foggy, drug-induced haze. Ross ultimately decided to resolve his symptoms outside of conventional medicine. He progressively reduced his use of the psychotropic drug lithium, at an experimental clinic in Costa Rica. What ensued was a self-exploration into alternative treatments to treat his condition and a journey delving into the root cause of his mental breakdown.
The film uses Ross’ personal experiences to tell a larger story about medication. It will reveal how we are labelling more and more people with mental illnesses and how, in tandem, we are prescribing more and more toxic psychotropic drugs to treat these illnesses.
BIPOLARIZED weaves together a series of interviews with activists, psychiatrists and other psychiatric survivors who have challenged the status quo as well as recounts some of the alternative therapies Ross uses to maintain his mental, emotional and physical health.
His strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“When I have a difficult decision to make I always convene an inner committee meeting I allow all parts of me to air opinions; that way I know that all of me owns the decision.” Anonymous
A Fractured Mind, tells the story of Robert B. Oxnam. A highly-intelligent, distinguished scholar with 11 personalities. This was my first time reading a memoir on someone who struggles with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as MPD). I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish the book, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial to someone else. The reason I couldn’t read it is because when I’m coming out of a manic episode, it’s hard for me to comprehend too many storylines all at once. But, I will do my best to share my thoughts in a manner in which you (my audience) will understand.
I was four pages into Robert’s story when the above quote caught my attention and even though I wasn’t able to follow his story to the very end, it gave me a new respect for DID and what people go through. Oxnam built his career on perseverance and competitive determination. While climbing the ranks of Asian Society his dedication and outer persona was everything society trains us to be. By 1984, his life began to unravel. He no longer had the passion to succeed and this led to blocks of memory and fits of rage.
Fast forward to March of 1990, we meet Bob…
Robert is diagnosed with DID by Dr. Smith, a renowned psychiatrist, who uses the method of integration to merge Robert’s personalities into one dominant individual. “Bob” introduces himself as a sensitive, open-minded personality who seems to be very concerned with finding the solution to his elusive problem. Then we meet “Tommy.” A younger personality that comes across as defensive and very sarcastic. I tried to get to a point where I could distinguish between the first two alters, but by Chapter 5 I was unable to focus and follow the succession of events that led to the other storylines. So rather than trying to read the story in a state of confusion, I decided to put it down and read something more similar to my own struggles.
So in the end, I decided to review the book anyway in hopes that it would shed some light for people who may be trying to discover the cause of the madness and inner conflict that results from this particular mental disorder. I was intrigued by the conflict that arose from each individual and the differences they added to the making of the author. If you have read this memoir please feel free to share your comments and insights for further discussion.
His power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“The only thing that matters is the ending.” Mort Rainey
(2004) starring Johnny Depp and John Turturro, directed by David Koepp (also wrote Panic Room). The story is based on the book by Stephen King.
Johnny Depp stars as Mort Rainey, a reclusive heartbroken writer suffering from writers block who is being terrorized by a menacing stranger accusing him of plagiarism.
Secret Window is one of my all-time favorite psychological thrillers. It is a terrifying edge-of-your-seat story that will keep you guessing until the very end. I picked this movie for this weeks review because it is timeless and its a clear example of what can happen to the mind when one traumatic event changes the course of your life. I always say, ‘there is a fine line between truth and reality.’ We are all capable of unspeakable terror when we are pushed to the limit. No one is exempt!
Stephen King is a genius at bringing the literary world to life. Johnny Depp truly captures the essence of suspense in every scene. His performance is classic! John Turturro also gives a lot of depth to his passion for writing. So the question is: Is his character “Shooter” just a wild figment of Mort’s imagination or does he really exist?
His strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
– Excerpts from The Quiet Room by Lori Schiller –
“As I look back on my childhood, one memory plagues me. It is the memory of the afternoon of the dog. I remember that when I was young my family had a medium-sized black mongrel. He was kept chained to a door. One day as I was in the kitchen with him I suddenly grew angry. In a burst of rage, I grabbed a nearby golf club and began beating the dog furiously. After awhile he stopped moving. Dead. To this day I do not know why I did it. But there is one problem with this memory: It isn’t true. It never happened.
“Writing this book has been painful and exhilarating. It was painful to force myself to remember things that I would just as soon forget. But its been exhilarating to see how far I’ve come. Dr. Doller told me once when I was in the hospital that I could never go back. I could never again be the girl I was before that dark night at summer camp. Looking over my life, I know now that I don’t want to go back. I want to go ahead. I look forward to a future fulfilled with accomplishment, learning and the love of my family and friends. Many people helped me get to where I am now. Now it is my turn. Painful as it has been, I’ve written this book hoping that my story can help other people find their own ways out of darkness, I will know that I have not wasted the great gift I have been given: the chance to begin life again.”
I started reading The Quiet Room on Friday Jan.27th, a cold and gloomy winter day. I had to fight the urge to read it all in one sitting. It’s like each movie I’ve watched or book I’ve read has breathed new life and meaning into my own fight for sanity. I was so excited to read something that would take me deep into the world of schizophrenia.
The Quiet Room is written by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett. It gives readers a front-row seat into the life of Lori Schiller and her tumultuous road out of the darkness into recovery. Her story, narrated from first person perspective, takes you into the minds of her family and friends as they dealt with denial and finally acceptance while helping her recovery. Lori didn’t experience her first “voices” episode until she was 17 years old. She came from a loving, close-knit family and was the oldest of three children.
After reading Lori’s story, I am further convinced that mental illness is not always the result of a dysfunctional family or traumatic childhood. Every mental illness follows its own unpredictable path. Lori was going places. She was well on her way to fulfilling all her childhood dreams and making her parents proud. But, I have to wonder did Lori suffer from a classic case of overachievement? Did her obsession with being the best finally push her over the edge? By 1989, at the age of 23, she had been in and out of dozens of psychiatric hospitals and she had tried dozens of stabilizing medications. It wasn’t until she was completely ready to get well did she accept her illness and cooperate with the help she needed.
The Quiet Room is a masterpiece from start to finish! It is a timeless tale of survival, courage and redemption meant to encourage people with even the most severest mental illness cases. If you or someone you know suffers from schizophrenia The Quiet Room is the book for you!
His strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9