Cool Mood Trackers!!

《Found on Pinterest》

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.”

The B in Bipolar

Diary Entry #6

The B in Bipolar stands for Being. At least in my world it does. I am constantly in a changing state of being of Becoming or Believing. Being present. Becoming better. Believing in my recovery.

I struggle with the voices in my head. I have learned that my feelings are not facts!! Call it the ego of the enemy, constantly trying to control my ability to do the right thing.

Mentally Speaking Diary #4

Today was my 1st day of intensive Outpatient Therapy. I had anxiety about going. The program has really changed for the better since 2013. My short term goal is to complete the program. Long term to get a part-time job. I’m in good spirit right now. So it’s one day at a time!! I’m excited to set some realistic goals for myself. I also plan to take better care of myself.

If there is a group therapy program in your area take advantage of it. You are NOT alone!!

Mental Speaking Diary #2

Madness-the drift of the rational into the irrational, the lucid to the delusional. Its not always easy to see it as it happens. At what point does joy become mania, sadness become depression, apprehension become anxiety, fear become phobia?

What do we talk about when we talk about mental illness?? There may be no important in the mental health field.

We are often afraid of people with mental illness, We fear their unpredictably and our inability to fully comprehend their illness. We fear what looks like volitional behavior.

Language doesn’t operate in a vacumm. It is both a shaper and a But language can help breal the cycle. Only  when what happens will the people who suffers with disorders of the mind receive the compassion we so readily extend to those with disorders of the body.

When persons with mental illness do behave violently, it is often, although not always, for the same reasons that non-mentally people engage in violent behavior. One of the most insidious and heartbreaking results of stigma is that it discourages people from people from getting treatment.

Mentally Speaking Diary #1

Sept, 2nd – Sept. 6th

Song: Tremble by Mosaic

My stay in the psych ward

I have had an eventful week. I had a psychotic episode and went to the e.r. because I knew what mania looked like for me. In the process I was on my way to Texas to visit  family. I had bought my bus ticker and everything. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had went to Texas?? I also hadn’t really gotten much sleep from the week before. My psychiatrist had to change all my  meds. But, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. The nurse was nice. The place was spotless. I learned some things. Let go of some things. God works in mysterious ways.

 

Next week I am starting a 30 day intensive therapy program.  I will be posting about my experiences. Please pray I can complete the program!!

Take Care…

Bring Back Black Box!!

ABC 2014 TV Series starring Kelly Reilly (from Heaven is for Real) plays Catherine Black a neurologist who has full blown Bipolar Disorder!! 

(online on iTunes)

Catherine Black plays a beautiful, brilliant neurologist who uncovers the mysteries of the brain. But, get this!! She has full blown Bipolar Disorder!! For me, her performance/character was captivating because it proved that mental illness has no limits. It showed that every case is different and should be treated with care. This role gave Kelly depth in her acting abilities and me the courage to be myself and hold on to the ones I love!!

As a doctor Catherine’s treatment was coming from some place real, reaching far beyond science and anything you could ever learn in a book. As the series progresses Dr. Black is torn between two love affairs, keeping secrets from her family and co-workers and struggling to manage an unpredictable illness. I was so sad to see this show end after one season. But, it definitely draws you in and is certainly worth binge watching.

Sorry, I don’t do spoilers!!

But, you can check the show out for free on *Daily Motion* (or pay $34.99 on iTunes) and be sure to come back to post your episode-by-episode commentary if you are so lead!!


Also, check out the NBC 2013 TV Series Do No Harm

(Online on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play)

DO NO HARM — Season Pilot — Pictured: Steven Pasquale as Dr. Jason Cole/Ian Price — Respected neurosurgeon Dr. Jason Cole has it all: a great job, a winning personality — and a dangerous alternate personality. For years Jason has been able to keep his other self — a devious, borderline sociopath who goes by the name of Ian — in a chemical prison with a powerful sedative, but his body has developed a resistance, allowing Ian to escape. And Ian is angry about the time he has lost. With so much to lose, Jason must find a way to stop Ian from destroying everything that Jason has worked so hard to build.

My take on “THE ACT.”

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When my daughters finally convinced me to watch this show on Hulu, I was skeptical at best and slightly bored with the way they described it. Its a true story. I had heard of people who manipulated the system to get what they wanted so I thought it was pretty typical. Of course, I told them, “NO SPOILERS” and got to watch them squirm in their seats as things slowly began to unfold..

First of all, I was in shock because it all took place so close to where I live and I had never heard of the story. Secondly, the 1st episode was may more than I expected!! As I sat and stared at the scene where the mother opened the cabinet where all her daughters’ medicine was stored. I was literally sitting there with my mouth hanging open trying to wrap my mind around what kind of mental illness would cause this type of behavior on this level?? But, it was a familiar feeling and very uncomfortable. I had the same response when  I watched Hoarders for the 1st time. I mean I knew people were sick (me included) but this was sick on a whole other level!! If you haven’t heard about the story by now, don’t feel bad.. I was lost too. It stars Patricia Arquette (CSI: Cyber) playing the mother and Joey King (Ramona and Beezus) as Gipsy the daughter. For decades, the single mother (Dee Dee) suffered from Munchausen by Proxy and learned how to manipulate the system and gain sympathy from people, doctors and hospitals all over the world to keep her daughter sick, broken and dependent on her. Ultimately, Gipsy gains her freedom through one unspeakable “act” that forever changes the trajectory of her life. (Trying not to give too many spoilers lol.)

thO3P5HILCContrary to popular opinion, we all judge when it comes to things we don’t understand and mental illness is no exception. We may not like to admit it. But, every mental illness is different and usually shocking to people who don’t struggle with it and even more shocking for people who do. We tell ourselves “at least my issues aren’t that bad” or “Thank God I will never struggle on that level.” We put ourselves on these pedestals and that’s why we can’t relate when we hear about a mental illness that is outside of the “norm.” Hopefully, Gipsy’s story will shed new light on Munchausen and other people will get help for it before its too late.

My heart broke for Gipsy and I initially felt a deep rage and anger toward her mother.

At first..

Then I got to see just how sick she actually was and I felt an incredible sadness for her as well. She gave me a inside look at how far a mentally ill person would go to ease the pain and suffering she was feeling inside. I could only imagine the mother’s childhood and the things she went through before she had Gipsy. At one point, I had even more sympathy for her. Dee Dee used Gipsy as her security blanket. Just as a baby uses one for comfort. Gipsy loved and adored her mom and never wanted to do anything to hurt or upset her so she went along with her mother’s “act” even when she could sense something was wrong. How many of us have felt that way?? Before our diagnoses?? After?? I remember growing up and pacifying my mother’s behavior. I remember overlooking all the dysfunction just to feel some type of genuine love in my heart. Dee Dee was Gipsy’s world and I didn’t blame her for protecting her mother.

So overall, once I got over all the shock I could see a lot of their behavior in countless stories I have heard over the years and even in a little bit of my own story. So my take away was that we need to allow people to use their voices and share their story, Especially, when it comes to criminal justice!! Not everyone is just “acting.”

Girl, Interrupted – A Review

Woman, Interpreted

Entertainment Feature
Susanna Kaysen saw her troubled past re-created by Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted
By Sarah Saffian
Us, February 2000

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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.”

SARAH SAFFIAN

http://www.saffian.com/womaninterpreted.htm

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.

blog2Ruth & 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!!blog5

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.

Brain On Fire (Netflix)

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.

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

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!!

Mentally.21

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.

This Fragile Life (Review)

By Charlotte Pierce-Baker

What is the measure of a mother’s love? For many mothers we will go above and beyond to protect our children. But, Mrs. Baker’s patience and perseverance got her son Mark through the most difficult years of his life. Charlotte walks us through the turbulence of her son Mark’s bipolar illness and his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction. What I found so refreshing was that Mark was raised in a loving, two-parent household. His parents were upper middle-class citizens, highly-educated and very driven to give their only child, Mark, all the opportunities afforded an African American man in the 21st century.

Like many people who suffer from mental illness, his childhood and teenage years were considered “growing pains” and not taken too seriously. Mark excelled in academics and he proudly climbed the ranks to a promising young adult life filled with a prestigious college education and plans to start a family. But, like any illness that goes undiagnosed Mark reached his breaking point and recovery became an arduous uphill battle. There aren’t many stories about mental illness and how it affects black families. I was very excited to read something that not only shed some light on mental illness in the black community, but also provided a plan for wellness that included the whole family. Mark was not alone!

This Fragile Life was informative and compelling. Kay Redfield Jamison, the author of An Unquiet Mind and professor of psychiatry, said, “Together, mother and son make clear that bipolar illness is painful and often inexplicable to those who suffer from it, as well as to those who love them. But they also make clear that there is much that can be done to help and  that one need not be alone in one’s suffering. This Fragile Life is an important book.”

 

 

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His strength is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9