literature, Mental health

Deskraven Book Series: Manic

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A Deskraven Book Review

“I didn’t tell anyone that I was going to Sante Fe to kill myself. I figured that was more information than people needed, plus it might interfere with my travel plans if anyone found out the truth. People always mean well, but they don’t understand that when you’re seriously depressed, suicidal ideation can be the only thing that keeps you alive. Just knowing there’s an out – even if it’s bloody, even if it’s permanent – makes the pain almost bearable for one more day…”

Page 5, Paragraph 1

Terri Cheney is deeply true and unapologetic. Her memoir Manic (2008) affords the reader a vicarious experience. In the unlikely statistical event that mental illness has failed to invade the corridors of your life- this work will allow you to share the room with madness. While I consider myself well read on the topic of manic-depression, known today as Bipolar Disorder, I have never seen it presented this way. Her words sit up straight and lean boldly in from the very first page, and is not intended for the faint of heart. Having read this work upwards of four times – with such heart and complete lack of grace – I found her literary voice disquieting, daunting even. Terri is a shining example of life gone wrong. She reminds us that even the working upper-class is not somehow exempt from a cranial invasion.

BACK OF THE BOOK

An attractive, highly successful Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer, Terri Cheney had been battling debilitating bipolar disorder for the better part of her life-and concealing a pharmacy’s worth of prescription drugs meant to stabilize her moods and make her “normal”. In explosive bursts of prose that mirror the devastating mania and extreme despair of her illness, Cheney describes her roller-coaster existence with shocking honesty, giving brilliant voice to the previously unarticulated madness she endured. Brave, electrifying, poignant, and disturbing, Manic does not simply explain bipolar disorder-it takes us into its grasp and does not let go.

You can learn more about this fiery red head as she reflects on her personal journey and the catharsis the genesis of her book afforded her in this 2007 interview.

A DISCUSSION WITH TERRI CHENEY

Page 247

Following the success of Manic, readers and reviewers around the country had many questions for Terri Cheney. We’ve collected a random sampling of some of those questions with answers from Terri, but if you need additional information, you can contact Terri through her Web site, www.terricheney.com.

1.) Manic was a bestseller in hardcover, reaching tens of thousands of readers. How do you feel about so many people being privy to the intimate details of your private life that you kept hidden for so long? Has this changed your life in any way?

A: My secrets were weighing so heavily on me by the time I wrote Manic that it felt tremendously liberating to get them out in the open. But I have to admit it’s unsettling whenever I meet someone whose first line is, “I’ve read your book.” That person already knows infinitely more about me that I’ll probably ever know about him. He knows, for example, that I was raped, that I spent a night in jail, and, of course, that I’m bipolar. Small talk seems pointless after that.

One of the benefits I’ve discovered from disclosure is that strangers now tell me their secrets. Because I’ve been forthcoming about my own struggle with mental illness, they trust me to list to their stories – and wild ups and downs, the desperate consequences, that hassles with the health-care system, the constant fear of stigma. Discovering that my secrets weren’t so extraordinary after all is a gift I never expected.

2.) Manic is told in such an untraditional manner – it’s not a linear narrative at all – so many characters’ lives aren’t wrapped up nicely and neatly. Can you tell me a little more about some of the players in your life and what they’re doing now? What about your mother? Your former boyfriends?

A: My mother is alive and well. It was hard for her to read some of the darker passages in Manic, which she didn’t know about, but she’s inordinately proud of me – she carries around some of my press clipping, at all times. Perhaps because she’s a registered nurse, she is able to understand that bipolar disorder is a physical disease, and she accepts it.

I still remain friends with most of the boyfriends I wrote about in Manic, except Alan, the man who said he’d marry me in a minute if it weren’t for my manic depression. We’ve lost touch, which may be for the best. But Jeff and I are very close, and he’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders. And to my great surprise, Rick – the man I though I’d never, ever see again after punching him in the jaw during a mixed state episode – showed up to one of my readings. We’ve been able to discuss the past and make peace with it, which I never thought would happen.

3.) With a topic as personal as mental health, you’ve probably received letters from readers who relate to you struggles. What responses have you received from readers? How has the public’s reception of the book affected you? Have there been any reactions that you weren’t expecting?

A: Before Manic came out, I worried about how the public’s response would affect me and whether it would exacerbate my illness. I am highly sensitive to criticism, as I think many people with bipolar disorder are, but overall, the response to my book has been very positive and heartfelt. Of course, now and then I’ve received a negative response or review, a few of which have been surprisingly severe (one man wrote that he wished I would have succeeded at my suicide attempts), but with my therapist’s help, I’ve usually been able to place the negativity in perspective. Any subject as loaded as mental illness is bound to evoke strong responses.

4.) I’d like to talk a little about what you’re doing now and what the future holds. How do you manage your manic depression now? Did the writing of this book help your treatment in any way?

A: I haven’t had a manic episode in well over six years – and no, I don’t miss it, as many people ask. Mania got me in too much trouble. I do still get depressed, but the depressions are much less frequent and intense, and to my amazement, I don’t get suicidal. The basics of my recovery regime are: medication (which is often tweaked), therapy, support groups, mental health advocacy, and writing. I have excellent relationships with my therapist and psychopharmacologist, two amazing men. My weekly groups include the dual diagnosis group that I facilitate at UCLA for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues and my two writing groups, which provide invaluable emotional support.

Writing for me has always been cathartic and therapeutic. People often ask, “Wasn’t it traumatic to describe the events in Manic?” No. To the contrary, it was empowering to revisit some of the most dismal times of my life and case them in prose. They no longer owned me after that.

5.) What advice would you give to someone who’s either struggling with manic depression or has a friend or loved one who is?

A: For people with manic depression, the fear of stigma can be crippling – preventing them from getting help and having the necessary compassion for themselves. For these people, I’d like to emphasize that bipolar disorder is first and foremost a physical disease. You woulnd’t hesitate to treat a broken leg; why neglect a broken mind?

Another critical lesson I wish I’d learned sooner is that sobriety is essential to sanity. Many manic-depressives in the throes of the disease self-medicate, and I can understand why, but the prescribed medications simply don’t work if you do. There are numerous support groups available through the resources section of my Web site, www.terricheney.com, to help you attain the sobriety that can change the course of your disease.

As for family and friends, I think you have to take care of yourself first so you have something left to give others. I highly recommend NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), a family-based organization that understand the special difficulties of dealing with bipolar loved ones.

6.) What are you working on now?

A: One of the things that surprised me most about the e-mails I received was how many of them were from parents of bipolar children. Their passion and persistence, their unrelenting dedication to finding help and educating themselves, simply amazed me. There are clearly more bipolar children out there than I ever realized, and there is a critical need for greater awareness.

So I’ve decided to write a childhood memoir about growing up bipolar. I don’t think I had a typical childhood (who did?), and I believe one of the reasons for that was the illness. Few “normal” children are suicidal at seven, for example. I hope that writing this book will help me makes peace with my chaotic childhood, the same way Manic helped me lay my more recent ghosts to rest.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF MANIA AND DEPRESSION

Page 253

Millions of people around the country either suffer from manic depression or have a friend or loved one who does. While Manic eloquently describes the roller-coaster ride of one woman’s life, the symptoms may not be so clear for others. In Terryi Cheney’s own words, here are some of the symptoms, and their aftereffects, that one might suffer.

DEPRESSION

Paralysis: Movement is impossible, so I typically stay in bed for days, getting up only to crawl to the bathroom.

Excessive Sleep: I sleep for three to four days straight.

Excessive Eating: When I’m not sleeping, I’m eating. I often gain up to ten pounds during a depressive episode.

Desire for Isolation: I spent a good part of my career as a lawyer hiding out under my desk.

Extreme Negativity: When I’m depressed, I think mania’s a myth. I can never remember feeling any other way. I’m convinced that I always have been, and always will be, doomed to depression.

Suicidal Tendencies: Before I was properly medicated, I tried to kill myself numerous times, resulting in several hospitalizations. At the time, given the severity of my depressions, suicide seemed like the only sane option.

MANIA

Increased Energy: During manic episodes, I can zip through all the work I couldn’t touch while I was depressed.

Sexual Impulsivity: I’ve been known to pick up the waiter right in front of my dinner date.

Heightened Sensuality: My nerve endings snap alive when I’m manic. I can taste colors; I can smell sounds.

Grandiose Thinking: One night when I was driving home I decided to challenge the cypress tree in front of my house to a battle of wills. I was sure I was the stronger force and could make it move out of my way. I wasn’t, and my car was totaled.

Decreased Need for Sleep: I often go up to four days without the ability to, or the desire for, sleep.

Decreased Need for Food: When I’m manic, food is just a distraction that keeps me from talking or doing other “really important things.”

Excessive Spending: I went through my entire savings during one glorious spree at the Post Ranch Inn.

Irritability: Nothing – nothing! – moves fast enough for me when I’m manic.

Recklessness: I danced naked in a freezing riptide for hours one night without any concern that I was putting my life in peril.

Charisma: The upside of mania is that people seem inexplicably drawn to you.

INTERNET RESOURCES

The Bipolar Child (www.BipolarChild.com) -includes a newsletter and a model IEP (Individual Education Plan) for students struggling with bipolar disorder

Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (www.bpkids.org) -a parent-led organization for families with bipolar children

International Bipolar Foundation (www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org) -publishes an excellent newsletter with cutting-edge research and information

Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation (www.jbrf.org) -a charitable organization focusing on research; includes questionnaire, information about clinical studies and professional Listservs

National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) -a particularly good resource for families and friends of loved ones with all types of mental illnesses; conducts local support groups and training sessions

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov) -the leading federal agency for research on mental illness and mood disorders

RAVE REVIEWS FOR MANIC

“Manic is filled with gorgeous writing, and we have never heard mania or depression described in such a visceral way. Terri Cheney’s ability to find humor in what should be terrifying situations makes this difficult illness never off-putting, and in fact, fascinating. Echoes of William Styron abound.”

-Demitri F. Papolos, M.D., and Janice Papolos, authors of The Bipolar Child

“Cheney brilliantly brings us along one her haunting and riveting journey of bipolar disorder. I was scared to go back, but it’s a place that people need to see to better understand this insidious and invisible illness that is still so stigmatized. Manic is extremely powerful, and at the same time, Cheney really manages to make you laugh!”

-Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

“In florid mania the roiling surf both seduces and destroys, crushing will and reason. All too often for those who suffer, flung repeatedly against the rocks of prejudice and misunderstanding, the story ends in tragedy. Terri Cheney’s gritty, vibrant memoir brings this chaotic frenzy to life, tumbling the reader through disaster and despair, to end in hope. Manic is an extraordinary achievement that captures the real experience.”

-Peter C. Whybrow, M.D., Director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Biobehvior at UCLA and author of A Mood Apart

FINAL THOUGHTS

When imagining an attempt to describe this book in one word, “visceral” is what comes to mind. Cheney’s Manic is painfully authentic and worthy of multiple reads leaving something new to be had each time. As someone living with manic depression, I can attest to her truth and find comfort in our shared pain. Somehow, the sentiment that we are so very far from isolated in our suffering provides compassion in a maddening hour. The matter, it seems, is simply finding a way to convey the language in order to reach others. Ultimately, with great vulnerability and strength of character, Cheney has achieved this. Click below to take a look. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

VISIT OTHER DESKRAVEN BOOK REVIEWS

Sybil [Exposed]

No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One

Prozac Nation

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog – and Other Stories From a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

literature, Mental health

Deskraven Book Series: Sybil [Exposed]

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A Deskraven Book Review

“Sybil Isabel Dorsett knew that she had to get back to New York while she was still herself…”

Page 18, Paragraph 3

PREFACE EXCERPT

Sybil’s true story provides a rare glimpse into the unconscious mind and opens doorways to a new understanding. A reflection of abnormal psychology and of an extraordinary developmental pattern, the case of Sybil Dorsett supplies new insight into the normal. It affords not only a new observation of the uncanny power of the unconscious mind in motivating human behavior but also a new look into the dynamics of destructive family relationships, the crippling effects of a narrow, bigoted religious background, a woman’s identification with the males in her family, and the denial of self-realization. In terms of what not to do, Sybil’s story is a cogent lesson in child care. Implicit in this account, too, are issues relevant to such questions as: What is maturity? What is a whole person?

Sybil’s life story also illuminates the role of the unconscious mind in creativity; the subtle interrelationships of remembering and forgetting, of the coexistence of the past with the present; and the significance of the primal scene in spawning psychoneurosis. There are also certain philosophical questions implicit here, namely, the subtle relationships between reality and unreality and the meaning of “I”.

Medically this account throws light on the genesis of mental illness in terms of heredity and environment and the difference between schizophrenia, which some doctors and the public alike tend to use as a catch-all for a multitude of diverse symptoms, and Grande Hysterie, the little-understood illness with which Sybil was afflicted.

Most important of all perhaps, is the expansion of consciousness that the reader experiences as he or she falls under the spell of Sybil’s internal adventures.

-Flora Rheta Schreiber

New York City

January 1973

Sybil (1973), the closely examined best-seller by Flora Rheta Schreiber, is an infamous classic case history in psych-literature involving what was formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. The individual with this disorder copes with an often violent and obscene reality by dissociating – or “splitting”- into alternate selves, each with different traits and memory systems. Often times the alters are unaware of one another. The true self often experiences fugue states in which she is unable to recall memories or details during the time she is “underneath.” These are only a few basic features of an often compelling and overwhelming illness. Treatment approaches are controversial and generally phase oriented. The goal is ultimately reconnecting the identities of disparate alters into a single functioning identity with all its memories and experiences intact supported by an emphasis on acceptance- or integration. In this book, Sybil Dorsett claims host to sixteen distinguishable personalities, better known today as Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID, and remains the first ever with this condition to undergo psychoanalysis. Her story brings to the forefront the horrors of one of the most debilitating cases of child abuse and mental illnesses in history.

THE REAL SYBIL

After her death, Sybil’s records were released in 1998 and her many truths were revealed due to carefully documented medical records. Shirley Ardell Mason was born January 20th, 1923 in Dodge Center, Minnesota. She was the only child of convicted Seventh-Day Adventists. This fundamental fact often resulted in the twisted logic of her most prominent abuser – her mother, Mattie, who was thought to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia herself. Perhaps less well-known, Shirley was an artist. Her work provides an invaluable reflection of her unique mind, and can be seen by visiting The Hidden Paintings of Shirley A. Mason.

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Faced with much controversy, Schreiber’s work has been the subject of skepticism in terms of severity and accuracy. While her story remains a pop culture icon, you can examine the reported embellishments for yourself in the 2011 release of Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case by Debbie Nathan.

While Mason herself admits that the facts involving the dynamics of her multiple identities were inaccurate – which may lead the public to question its label as a non-fiction genre release – Schreiber’s story remains unequivocally paramount in developing the early dialogue of trauma related mental health in the American 1970s. During this time, layman and physicians alike held the very notion that this condition even existed with great cynicism. Sybil (1976) can also be seen as an Emmy award winning major motion picture starring Sally Field.

CONTENTS

The Family Tree: The Hierarchy of the Sixteen Selves

Cast of Characters and Dates of “Birth”

Preface: Sybil

Acknowledgements

PART I: Being

1 The Incomprehensible Clock

2 Wartime Within

3 The Couch and the Serpent

4 The Other Girl

5 Peggy Lou Baldwin

6 Victoria Antoinette Scharleau

7 Why

PART II: Becoming

8 Willow Corners

9 Yesterday Was Never

10 Thieves of Time

11 The Search for the Center

12 Silent Witnesses

13 The Terror of Laughter

14 Hattie

15 Battered Child

16 Hattie’s Fury has a Beginning

17 Willard

PART III: Unbecoming

18 Confrontation and Verification

19 The Boys

20 The Voice of Orthodoxy

21 The Wine of Wrath

22 The Clock Comprehensible

23 The Retreating White Coat

24 Suicide

PART IV: Reentry

25 Beginning to Remember

26 Independent Futures

27 Prisoners in Their Body

28 Journey to One

29 They Are Me, Too

30 Hate Heals

31 Ramon

32 One

Epilogue: The New Sybil’s New Time

Psychological Index

PRAISE FOR SYBIL

“Spellbinding!” -TIME

“A moving human narrative.” -New York Review of Books

“Astonishing…it forces you to look at yourself and the people around you in a new way.” -Doris Lessing

“Illuminating…fascinating!” -Chicago Tribune

FINAL THOUGHTS

After eleven years of daunting psychoanalysis, Sybil Dorsett breaks apart, swims through repressed trauma, and eventually achieves a liberating recovery. It is a journey to be had, one that completely assaults the human condition and, perhaps, creates more questions than answers. I found myself laughing, crying, and unable to put it down while simultaneously nauseous and dissuaded. Regardless, I find this ( and its counterpart) to be an essential read within the most basic realm of psychiatry. Both of these books grace my bookshelf providing excellent insight involving ethical psychology with the ever-present reminder that we must be stewards of our own well-rounded research before accepting information as absolute truth. Click below to take a look. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

VISIT OTHER DESKRAVEN BOOK REVIEWS

Manic

No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One

Prozac Nation

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog – and Other Stories From a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle

Transparency for Transparency’s Sake

Dear Readers,

I can’t sleep. For the better part of a week I have been battling an unforgiving viral what-have-you passed oh so generously from my little one. Within the woes of my sleepless motherhood, I came here to read, and read I did. In so doing, I familiarized myself with a Columbia educated writer who took my breath away with her rhythm and word choice in a longread depiction of “Lolita”, the 1955 controversey written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov.

It was in this moment that I realized my writings were still jailed up by my defense mechanisms.

With pressure in my ears, I realized I remained overly cautious and concerned about who was reading my thoughts. I gathered that, despite my introspection, I was sticking to the facts of my ability to convey previously published information rather than swimming in the candor of my own growing pains. The truth is it benefits no one, namely myself, if I continue to cloak my craft in academics and resource referrals. Not only are my readers subject to a skimmable quality, but I also rob myself of the truly therapeutic organics of simply writing.

Moving forward, I vow to share fewer links and more natural story-telling. I vow to honor the space I’ve invited you all into with genuine reflection, memories, and thought-strings. If I lose a client or employer on behalf of this conviction, then so be it. To hell with the consequences. I am done operating at face value on a platform designed to engage others in either shared conquest or rage. If you hate me, I have still done my job as a writer to provoke. So, I remain resolute in my high-mindedness.

If you’re still here, I suspect a shift is occurring. I suspect you’ll appreciate my 3am content all the more, and I will be better for it.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Mental health

Favored Expressions of Madness in Entertainment

art

Dear Readers,

As the topic of mental health continues to take progressive leaps forward, there exists much retroactive speculation on the undiagnosed mental health conditions of the famous and deceased. Indeed, the great composers, painters, musicians, writers, and characters of art history are often associated with an enthusiasm of the psyche.

My favorite book ever written happens to be on this very topic. Touched with Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is an author and American clinical psychologist living with Bipolar Disorder herself. She uses her craft to advocate for others, and explore the relationship between the ill mind and creative genius. This book had a profound impact on me, keeping me company on late night’s when I felt most isolated by my own idiosyncrasies. It is so dripping with content that you will take something new away from each read. Read on for more of my favorite depictions of madness in American culture.

TOUCHED WITH FIRE

GIRL, INTERRUPTED

I most enjoyed Susanna Kaysen’s telling of Borderline Personality Disorder in Girl, Interrupted due to its unflinching honesty and value as a time piece. Naturally, the literary telling of her story is even more profound and bizarre than the best-selling blockbuster film. It speaks volumes to the mental health climate in American Culture within the confinements of the sixties, and prompted me to begin my own journey through therapy.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Silver Linings Playbook remains a controversial piece with mixed reviews. I, for one, happen to love this depiction of mental illness in cinema. Above all, I admire that more than one illness is conveyed in nothing shy of imperfect glory. Bradley Cooper displays a character with classic symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, and candidly demonstrates what it feels like for someone with this illness to be triggered by their environment. His love interest, played by Jennifer Lawrence, compassionately embodies Borderline Personality Disorder, while Robert DiNero offers a voice for Obsessive Compulsive and superstitious tendencies. This is one brave bold film, unafraid of exaggeration paired with empathy.

IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY

Keir Gilchrist beautifully embodies the anxious nervous breakdown associated with depression in this black comedy. I can deeply appreciate any portrayal of mental health that offers up a laugh without detracting from the validity of necessary intervention. Comedy serves as an excellent buffer between stigma and reality, revealing to those who may not always understand that we remain fundamentally the same.

RAIN MAN

A shining classic tale of autistic savantism and full-range emotional familial integration. If you haven’t seen or heard of this film, you now have some homework.

FIGHT CLUB

Ultimately my favorite movie and satirical novel, Fight Club offers a terribly clever exploration of psychology, insomnia, and a pervasive distaste for societal over-indulgence.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

In this timeless film, John Hughes exposes the inventories of five adolescents within the confinements of our public institutions. Painfully honest with familiar anthems, The Breakfast Club holds a mirror to us all and reveals the all-too-forgotten trials of what it means to be young in America.

For more on this topic, the following article from Kevin Redmayne at Medium.com features poetic portrayals of speculative BPD in Three Literary Characters with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Discuss: What are your favorite mental health stories in entertainment?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Mental health

5 Tips on Maintaining Friendships When You Have Bipolar Disorder

Dear Readers,

Relationships of all kinds have their moments of turbulence, even those we cherish most. However, mental health conditions can often produce an added source of friction due to the very nature of the illness. Those characterized by misconceptions or delusions, Bipolar Disorder for example, can compound the difficulties associated with miscommunication or avoidance even further. I’m certain we can all recall moments of escalation with those we love that were exacerbated by our psychological state at the time.

As someone living with Mixed Bipolar Disorder, I can attest to the unique challenges sprung forth from the seat of agitation, which may present itself in both manic or depressed states, as well as dangerously persistent mixed episodes. It becomes all too easy to misunderstand, say things we don’t mean, and act poorly on our impulses when engaging with others with these added features. Fortunately, the Optimum Performance Institute offers up wholesome tools to aid in conflict resolution in the presence of Bipolar Disorder.

5 Tips on Maintaining Friendships When You Have Bipolar Disorder from Optimum Performance Institute

” …What are the distinguishing factors between the relationships that have failed and those that have gone on to flourish? We all experience emotional ups and downs. For those with bipolar, these experiences may be more pronounced. What is it that keeps friends together despite the symptoms of bipolar when so many others fizzle out? I believe with the right tools, support, and practice, people with bipolar can maintain healthy friendships. “

COMMUNICATION
When feeling the need to isolate, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell a friend that you need some “me” time or that you need space. No need to go into details, just gently assure your friend that it isn’t anything they said or did. In addition, be accepting and supportive when your friend needs alone time as well. Setting healthy boundaries in this way prevents misunderstandings.

LEVELS OF FRIENDSHIP
Having a different friend, or friendly acquaintance, for different needs is very healthy. Accept that not everyone has to be your “BFF.” For example, one friend may be your support group friend, another your study buddy, another your roommate, etc. You may not see them every day, but you know exactly who will help you out when you are overwhelmed by that big exam coming up!

SUPPORT TEAM
When you need support, take a moment to be mindful of the kind of support you need, and take appropriate action. Establish your own go-to support team so that you are not “unloading” on one person, since this will likely push that person away after long. For example, a therapist, doctor, counselor, life coach, sponsor, or peer from your mental health program are all appropriate people to turn to in addition to family and friends.

COMING OUT
The decision whether to tell someone about your illness can be a tough one. Fear and stigma can cloud your friend’s mind when hearing the word “bipolar.” At the same time, keeping your friend may be easier when they know about your condition, and it may be easier for you to communicate. The choice is yours only when you are ready. If you have a hard time trusting a friend with this personal information, try finding a support group or mental health program.

MAKING AMENDS
Sometimes when an episode of depression or mania come along, we do or say things that we didn’t mean. This also happens to people who do not suffer from bipolar disorder. When feeling better again, it’s important to make amends as soon as possible. When apologizing, state what for, and then reassure them. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, however assure them you are getting treatment and working on it. If they want to talk about it, make sure to actively LISTEN in return. Validate their feelings. Everyone wants to feel heard. Your friend may need some space before they are ready to talk, or even after talking. In this case, be mindful of tip one.

Discuss:

How has Bipolar Disorder affected your friendships? How might you navigate these waters differently with the above knowledge?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!