Why Tolerate Distress?

Many people with mental health issues tend to go to extremes with their emotions because they are unable to regulate them successfully. When I go to extremes, I add another problem on top of the one I’m already dealing with. It’s not just the situation itself,  it’s also the fact that my extreme emotions are running the show.

I relate this to what happens in the body when something irritates it — a splinter, a “scratch” on the inside of an artery, a bacterium such as N. meningitidis (meningococcus). The irritating factor is bad enough, but what happens next can be worse, as the body’s inflammatory responses kick in. The use of immunosuppressants such as steroid to treat bacterial meningitis is counterintuitive, but it works, because inflammation is part of the problem.

Distress tolerance skills give me a way to handle inflamed emotions without hurting myself or other people (hopefully, I don’t destroy property either). Continue reading Why Tolerate Distress?

World Suicide Prevention Day

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN TRIGGERS
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I don’t know if I was ever completely serious about taking my own life. I know I wanted to hurt myself, though. And some of the things I did to hurt myself could have killed me, whether I intended that or not.

I felt so miserable at those times. No matter which way I looked I felt pain — unending, mind-crushing pain. There seemed to be no way out. I believed that I was a bad person, a complete failure, and that I had no business being on this planet making other people unhappy.

Bipolar disorder is a strong risk factor for suicide. The rate of suicide for the general public is about 1%. For those with bipolar, it is 15-17%. Suicide is the leading cause of premature death for bipolar patients. It is more likely if the person is undiagnosed or untreated. By “untreated” I mean “not taking medication.” The person may have the medication but refuse to take it. This is a very common problem for bipolar individuals — because they feel so good when they become hypomanic or even the early stages of mania, they don’t want to take a drug which will prevent both downswings and upswings.

I wonder how many people with bipolar take their meds as prescribed? Do you take them properly, or do you go with the temptation to skip them sometimes?

Returning to the Bipolar Dance

I’ve been away for quite awhile, and when I did post it usually had nothing to do with bipolar or other mental health issues. Now I am ready to get back into the groove. This will require an overhaul of the site, both content and appearance. Over the next few weeks I will remove some of the more personal and off-topic posts. My goal is to create a blog for people with bipolar and other mental health issues that is crammed with basic information, hacks, and research reports.

In particular, I want to rebuild my reader base by giving something useful with every post. I would like readers to be involved with the blog by commenting and writing guest posts.

To begin, I will introduce myself. My name is Anita Simpson and I live in Texas. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1997, borderline personality disorder in 2006, and dissociative identity disorder in 2007. Before that, I had episodes of major depression beginning when I was 13 years old. I also had anxiety issues — although they were not diagnosed as such — beginning in my childhood.

I’m now in my early 50s. At 30, I began to be aware of traumatic events that occurred when I was very young. Those memories started me on a path of gradual disintegration until I was unable to work anymore and my daily functioning was poor. I spent a great deal of time in mental hospitals until finally the path began to turn up again. For several years now, I’ve been improving, thanks to therapy, medication, hospitals, and most important, the people who love me. My spiritual life has been the underpinning of all those, and I wouldn’t be here if not for my faith.

I’ve learned a few lessons along the way, and I hope to share what I’ve learned through this blog.