Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Always Be YOU!

I came across this today and it really struck home for me and got me thinking about myself and my own issues with self-esteem, etc.

This is something I have struggled with my entire life. It wasn't until over the past several months when I was dealing with some issues that I finally was able to take time to reflect on myself and learn to love myself for who I am. During this time I realized that what other people think about me doesn't really matter but what I think about myself will be the driving force for which direction my life goes.  I accepted that the negative feelings I had about myself needed to change.  I realized how much potential I have and that if I were to continue to get down on myself and worry about what other people thought that I would never break down the walls that I had built over the years with my low self-esteem.

I had no self-confidence or self-worth and it was having an extremely negative affect on me, on my relationships and really on all aspects of my life.  Over the past several months I have taken the opportunity to look at myself, look at what I've accomplished and look at how much I have the ability to accomplish on the road that lies ahead. Finally, after 27 years, I have a positive view of myself and I no longer look at my mental illness as something to throw away in a locked closet for no one to see.  I am now able to see in myself what those in my life that matter have always seen and I no longer worry myself with what anyone else thinks of me. It is not ever necessary to say or to do anything in an effort to please or impress any individual; those that matter will love you for you.  

Be proud of yourself, believe in yourself, love yourself and ALWAYS be YOU! 

I am thankful to my family and friends for always building me back up when I was down and I am so thankful to be able to finally see in myself what those that love me have always seen in me!  Your self-esteem is a key factor in your success.  You can’t do great things when you don’t even believe in yourself.

This is a lesson that took me 27 years to learn- I figured I'd share it! It has made a huge difference in all aspects of my life including my plans for the future and my current day to day life. It has made a difference in how I feel about myself everyday of my life and it truly feels great to finally believe in myself! I wouldn't have the strength or the courage to have started "Kissing Stigma Goodbye" and to share my story if I still cared about what others thought about me and if I didn't finally love and believe in myself.  

Self-esteem and self-worth gave me the courage to finally just be ME without caring about what anyone else thinks.  If someone doesn't like me because I have bipolar or I'm Jewish or just because I'm me, etc... well, that's not my problem, that's their problem! As long as I am ME, it doesn't matter what others think! As long as YOU are YOU, it doesn't matter what others think!

Stay tuned, I will write a blog over the next few days about self-esteem, it’s effect on mental health, the effect of mental health concerns on self-esteem, the effect of stigma on self-esteem and ways to deal with low self-esteem. In the meantime, always remember there is no shame in seeking help, therapists are there for a reason! (that is something else that I was not able to realize and accept until recently)

“Don't you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are.” -Jo Blackwell-Preston

 Thanks for reading! Until next time…

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

(The pink.... well it's my favorite color and it's warm and sunny out and I just switched to my pink summery bag, so I guess I am just in a pink mood- next post will be back to boring white- I guess it's easier on the eyes)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dare to be different!

 "The things that make me different are the things that make me, ME"- A.A.Milne

The world would be so incredibly boring if everyone was the same.

I'd rather someone love me for who I am than love me for who I'm not!

Just some food for thought this morning! Have a fabulous day!

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Monday, May 28, 2012

Seasonal Affective Disorder

With the start of the warm weather and all the amazing fun in the sun I enjoyed over this Memorial Day weekend, I realized how amazing being outside in the sun makes me feel.  With that realization, I thought that a blog about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) would be appropriate.  

SAD is something that I do suffer from but not to a very large extent, there are others that suffer from it much worse than I do.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a depression that occurs in the fall and winter.  SAD is caused by the lack of sunlight found during the winter months due to the shortened days.  This lack of sunlight is believed to increase the body’s production of melatonin.  This increase in melatonin causes some symptoms of depression.  Symptoms of this disorder include: tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level and overeating which is associated with weight gain.  Basically, it includes many of the symptoms of depression.   Symptoms typically begin in the fall and end in the spring.  

This disorder is said to occur in 5% of adults with up to 20% of individuals having some symptoms of the disorder but not enough to meet the diagnostic criteria.  Seasonal Affective Disorder is four times more common in women than in men and the average age of onset is 23.

Light therapy is a popular treatment for individuals experiencing severe Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Light therapy uses artificial indoor lighting- such as a light box- which creates light of far more intensity than say a living room lamp.  Scientists say that it is not the type of light (i.e. artificial vs. natural sunlight).  It is however, the amount and intensity of the light. Researchers have found that bright lights change the chemicals in the brain, how is not yet known. Medication, diet changes, psychotherapy, new coping mechanisms and even a vacation to someplace warm and sunny are other forms of treatment.

How does warm weather affect mood?

On the reverse end of things, how does the warm weather affect mood?  Warm weather is said to boost the mood.  Researchers at the University of Michigan recommend spending at least 30 minutes outside on days that are warm and sunny in order to see an improved mood.  They also found that spending all of your time inside when the weather is sunny and enjoyable outside actually resulted in a decreased mood.  

How does the weather affect me?

The winter months definitely have an effect on me and my symptoms.  I tend to become more depressed in the winter- have trouble getting out of bed, easily cry, irritable, etc.  This winter was a completely different story because I was experiencing symptoms of mania for other reasons and required a medication change. However- typically the winter means I will experience some sort of depression.  I have to push myself a lot harder in the winter.

The warm weather works wonders for me.  It puts me in such a better overall mood.  Being outside in the sun feels so great and so refreshing to me.  I love the spring and I love the summer, I love how great the sunlight makes me feel.

So what am I saying?

It’s warm! It’s sunny!  Get out there and enjoy the warm weather.  Whether you have a psychiatric diagnosis or not- that doesn’t matter! Everyone can benefit from the warm and sunny weather!
However, stay safe!  Don’t stay out in extreme heat for too long! Drink lots of water when you are out in the sun and wear sunscreen!

For those of you on psychotropic medications like myself- especially anti-psychotics, take special notice of your body’s reaction to the heat.  Those medications make our bodies less capable of regulating our body temperature.  Therefore you must pay special attention to the signs your body is giving you and drink plenty of fluids.  Drink twice as many fluids as your friends and family that are not on psychotropic medications. The medications also make our skin more sensitive to the sun which results in an easier sunburn- so wear sunblock, please!

So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and enjoy the warm weather and your improved upon mood!

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind” –Dr. Seuss 

Thanks for reading! Until next time…

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Saturday, May 26, 2012

NAMI Article

Senate Approves Bill to Strike ‘Lunatic’ from Federal Law
By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

It seems that there’s at least one topic that everyone in the Senate can agree on: the removal of the word “lunatic” from federal law. On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously agreed to strike the word from all pieces of federal legislation a major victory for the mental health community.

“Federal law should reflect the 21st century understanding of mental illness and disease,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) when introducing the 21st Century Language Act with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in late April. “The continued use of this pejorative term has no place in the U.S. Code.”

Although the elimination of this word is only a small step in eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness, the Mental Health Liaison Group, a coalition of 38 groups, including NAMI, believe that the legislation will help prevent negative stereotypes from being perpetuated.

“Deleting these terms from usage in the U.S. code is a simple means of demonstrating respect for individuals living with mental health conditions and will have no effect on the underlying federal laws,” they wrote in a letter of support.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which must also pass it before it can go to the President to be signed into law.

The word "lunatic" appears in the U.S. Code in Title 1, Chapter 1, which covers rules of construction. Language in the chapter states that when applying the law "the words 'insane' and 'insane person' and 'lunatic' shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis."

According to the bill, the language also appears in banking laws associated with the authority to take receivership of estates.

My only reaction:  It's 2012, really?  That wording is really still being used in federal legislation? *Sigh*  I have nothing to say.

Thanks for reading! Until next time...

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Friday, May 25, 2012

I have Bipolar Disorder, but I am not Crazy!

So very true...

So very true! Although, I'll counter that with the idea that those are really the only people who actually deserve to be loved by you! 

 Love doesn't end just because you are going through something or experiencing symptoms of your illness, at least love that's true in any capacity (significant other, sibling, parent, friend, etc.) doesn't end like that or because of that.

Those that really love you and deserve your love will love you through it, support you through it and watch you come out the other end of it a bigger and better person than you were before.

Those that walk away will miss seeing how strong you really are when tested and they will miss seeing your growth as a result of your struggle.  They will miss having you as a part of their life because they were not strong enough to see you through your time of need.

 Even more importantly than what they will miss is that you will be a better person for no longer placing that kind of importance on someone who doesn't truly appreciate you for who you are.

That is merely a philosophy of mine, you need not agree with me.  I've had both kind of people in my life and this is the philosophy I have developed from my own personal experiences.
 I'll get off my soapbox now :)

You'll get a significant posting from me over the weekend, topic TBD!  Anything you'd like me to write about just send me an e-mail!

Thanks for reading! Until next time....

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This is just amazing!

Don't Forget...

Don't Forget that "Kissing Stigma Goodbye" has a Facebook page and a Twitter page!

Thank you for all your love and support!  I can only reach so many people without the help of all of my wonderful readers! Thank you for spreading the word about Kissing Stigma Goodbye! Lots of love to all of my faithful readers!

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One of my main goals behind this blog...


I aim to be able to show people that they are not alone in this struggle. It is a lifelong goal of mine. That right there can change someone's life, change their future, change the path they're going down,it can change more than we can even begin to imagine for someone. This is only the start, I promise! :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Words to Avoid

Labeling words to avoid saying to or about someone with a mental illness:

A recent experience inspired me to post this, all of these I believe are typically out of ignorance and not blatant hate or disrespect, but nonetheless, extremely offensive:

-Head case/nut case
-Insane or that they have lost their sanity- or any variation of that
-Loose screw
-Mad or madness
-Not all there
-Psychotic (unless it is being used in a way to clinically describe psychotic symptoms or behavior)

When talking about how someone is doing mentally, mental health is the proper terminology- not mental sanity or anything else along those lines.

There is no such thing as a "loony bin" or anything else along those lines.  It is a psychiatric hospital and there is no shame in seeking the help you need there.

You get the point! It hurts, it's offensive and it's untrue.  Consider the feelings of others before using terminology like that even if there are no ill-intentions.

Thanks for reading, until next time...

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Friday, May 18, 2012

NAMI walk is tomorrow! How about a donation?

Alright, one last time.  The NAMI walk is tomorrow! My team has raised $258 thanks to some awesome people! Every dollar counts.  The field of mental health lacks the necessary funding and relies very much on donations.  So, if you are able, please make a donation to support me, my team and the 75 million Americans living with mental illness. It's a hard fight and can't be done without the support of the mental health agencies that struggle to break even and provide the best services they can. Thank you to everyone who has donated and who plans to! I thank you all so very much! I know I can't live without mental health services and the other 75 million americans with a mental illness are right there with me!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

China's Mental Health System- Fascinating Stuff (at least I think so)

Ah, finally, a substantial blog post, this has been a long time coming, I am so glad to be able to post again.
I have recently put some time into researching China’s mental health system.  Being a communist country, I knew it would be nothing to brag about.  It does look as though they are slowly beginning to put the time and effort into an improved system but they still have a long way to go.  I was taught to take any news articles and such on China with a grain of salt though, often times the full truth is not disclosed, so please do keep that in mind as you read my blog post.  The system is probably still at least somewhat if not a good bit worse than what the articles I have read speak to it being. 

China sure is not exempt from mental health issues by any means, no country is.  In fact, China has a good many people suffering from mental health issues.  In 2009, China’s National Center for Mental Health released statistics showing that about 170 million individuals in China were suffering from some sort of mental illness.  The number of individuals with severe mental health issues was in upwards of 16 million people.  I always say this in relation to America and I will say it in relation to China, it is my opinion that these statistics are always lower than what the actual numbers are.  The reason I say this is because there is no way to account for all the individuals suffering from a mental illness that never actually receive treatment.  That issue exists in the U.S. and it is probably tenfold in China.

To sum the issues up:

  • China lacks qualified psychiatrists
  • There are disparate numbers of psychiatrists in the central and western regions of China compared to the big cities.  Psychiatrists are very unevenly distributed between cities and rural areas.
  •  Many new psychiatrists do not last very long working in the field of mental health in China
  • Stigma is a huge problem in China, mental health problems are always seen as a source of shame to an individual and their family
  •  Treatment is expensive and can be difficult to obtain
  • Individuals in need of treatment cannot always receive the treatment they need, however, individuals without a mental illness can be thrown in a mental health hospital by the authorities and medicated when it is not needed just to “shut them up” so to speak.
Lack of qualified Psychiatrists/Uneven distribution of Psychiatrists
According to Psychiatrist Yao Xueyang who works at a mental health center in Yichang, "Because of the high risk of being hurt by patients, low pay and wide social stigma, very few people want to enter the field of psychiatry when they graduate from medical school, let alone work in less-developed areas of China”.  Those that do study psychiatry typically choose to work in areas where the psychiatric resources are concentrated, in the eastern areas.

China has lacked qualified psychiatrists for a long time now.  In 2010, statistics showed that there were only about 20,000 psychiatrists to serve a population of 1.3 billion.  That is about a quarter of the international level.  Most of these psychiatrists work in big cities in the eastern areas, the central regions and western regions are even more sparse in psychiatrists.  Over 80% of the psychiatrists in China work in psychiatric hospitals leaving less than 20% to work in general hospitals and out in the community.
“There are only about 40 psychiatrists in all of Yichang, a city in Central China's Hubei province with a population of about 4 million. That means one psychiatrist for every 100,000 people. In Western countries, such as the United States, Britain and Germany, there are more than 11 psychiatrists serving 100,000 people” (Hongyi, W).

On top of psychiatry not being the area of choice for many medical students in China, many of those who choose that area of study do not last long once they begin to practice.  39 out of 160 new psychiatrists in the Guangxi Zhuang region between the years of 2008-2012 lasted 3 years or less.

Stigma… Oh.So.Bad!
So, we’ve got not enough qualified psychiatrists to serve the number of mentally ill individuals in the country.  Then we’ve got many new psychiatrists not lasting very long in the mental health field in China.  How dare I add more to this mix?  Well I must, the stigma in China leaves very few people actually seeking the help they need and deserve. Mental illness was completely taboo in China up until recently, strides have been made but it is still far worse of a stigmatic issue in China than it is here in the U.S and that is really not saying much since it is nothing to write home about here in the U.S.  Not to downplay the issue of stigma in the U.S. at all, as we all know my lifelong goal is to fight the stigma I and other individuals with mental illness face.
"Even patients that have fully recovered often face the prospect of losing their jobs, housing and marriage. Mental problems are always seen as a source of shame to a person and his or her entire family," said Xie Bin, professor of forensic psychiatry at Shanghai Mental Health Center.  Psychiatry is brushed over and marginalized in medical school in China leaving general doctors ignorant to the symptoms of mental disorders leading them to neglect to provide proper diagnosis and treatment.

Many people who are in need of medical attention for their mental health concerns are unable to receive the necessary help. This is typically due to a couple reasons. One reason, because it is too costly and there are not enough psychiatrists to meet the needs of everyone.  Another reason is because of the huge social stigma that is attached to mental health concerns in China.

There are also individuals who are psychiatrically healthy but are labeled as being "mentally ill".  This is done by authorities who are in search of a reason to detain them in mental health hospitals. The New York Times documented a 54-year old man named Xu Lindong. He was forced to spend six and a half years in Chinese mental hospitals and was given 54 unnecessary electrical shock therapy treatments all as a result of a land dispute.          

So, what are my thoughts?
Well of course my thoughts are that this is a huge shame that so many individuals are lacking the care that they need and deserve.  It is also extremely unfortunate that shame is always felt by an individual with a mental health concern and by their family. I find it extremely bothersome that individuals without mental illnesses are given treatments they don’t need while individuals with mental illnesses who need those treatments are unable to obtain them.

What it comes down to is that the system is horrible!  Individuals deserve the treatment that they need for their illness, but, what can be done about it?  Really, what can be done about it?  Unfortunately, I believe the answer to that is not much.  It is a country living under a communist regime.

Before I fully analyze the mental health system in China from my view point, I want to do a write up on the mental health system in the European countries and the mental health system in America and analyze the three of them together.  This is fascinating stuff to me, I hope it is to you as well and that I’m not boring you with too many facts and statistics.

The next posting will come soon this time, I promise.

"Being defeated is often temporary; giving up makes it permanent." ~ Marilyn von Savant

As always, thanks for reading! Until next time…