Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Graduation Party!

My parents threw me a graduation party this past Saturday, It was a blast, a fun time had by all! Here are a few of the many photos taken!

My table of creativity :)  BTW.. I was given the superlative of "most likely to follow in the footsteps of Ghandi in the non-profit world" at graduation.  I framed the superlative award and put it out on the previously mentioned table of creativity that is behind me in this picture, along with a baby pic of me, a graduation pic of me and a few other items.
Me and my Grandfather!

My sis and I!
The lovely ladies of my family!

Dan and myself!
Chrissy, Rachel and Myself

My vegetarian plate of food! I think the lack of vegetarian options (at my own party, eek, my fault) was quite possibly the reason the wine hit me so quickly, whoops, should've eaten more potato salad, lol!
Connor tiring out his Grandpa as per usual!

Enjoying good company and good conversation!
Not sure what that look on my face is, lol!

A bunch of my lovely and absolutely amazing fiends who have been so incredibly loving and supportive to me through my MBA adventures as well as so much more that life has brought to me this past year!

Out in Old Ellicott City afterwards! Creeper Stephanie in the background, lol!

I just now realized that there are no pics of me and my parents! :(  Oh well!

I like to give you all a little look into my life with some pics from time to time. It is easy to read my blog and understand what I am saying in regards to mental health, but I feel that getting a little idea of who I am through pictures and tid bits about my life makes what I write about mental health all the more meaningful and easier to understand from my personal perspective!


Great article by Forbes...

It is an older article but I would say that unfortunately not much has changed since then so it still remains pretty true and accurate.

Bipolar Disorder In The Workplace
Scott Reeves, 05.03.06, 6:00 AM ET

Those with bipolar disorder face a basic decision: Tell the boss about the condition or remain silent.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person with a disability is not required to disclose it unless seeking an accommodation at work.

The downside is that you may be passed over for a promotion or demoted. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability as long as the person can perform the essential functions of the job. However, defining those functions and demonstrating your ability to perform them despite your disorder can be a long and expensive legal wrangle.

"The stigma is real," says David J. Miklowitz, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and author of The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need To Know. "It can be as subtle as fellow workers attributing justifiable reactions to situations to your illness, or as blatant as not getting a job or a promotion."

People with bipolar disorder can experience mood swings from overly happy and excited to overly irritable and angry. The highs may last from several days to a month or more, but the lows often last longer and can be harrowingly deep. Some experts say this psychiatric condition affects about one in every 25 Americans.

Miklowitz, who earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles, says people with bipolar disorder usually adopt one of four disclosure tactics:

--Tell everyone at work about the condition, including the boss and co-workers.

--Tell one or more trusted co-workers who don't hold positions of authority.

--Don't tell anyone, but admit to having bipolar disorder on work-sponsored health insurance claims, opening the possibility that the employer may find out.

--Don't tell anyone at work, and don't use employer-provided health insurance to cover the costs of treatment for the condition.

"The advantage of telling your boss is that you can ask for reasonable accommodations at the office," Miklowitz says. "If you have a tough time in the morning, you might be able to arrange to start later in the day. Some people don't do well in dark offices and work better in a well-lit room or near a window. Others find it better to take several short breaks rather than one long break. If there is some reasonable accommodation the employer can make, it makes sense to disclose."

If a co-worker struggles with bipolar disorder, be supportive, but don't try to become an amateur therapist; your actions likely will be viewed as intrusive and demeaning.

If you're a boss and one of your workers discloses that he has bipolar disorder, think what can be done to help. A separate office might be appropriate if the employee has trouble with the clatter and chatter of an office. If a good employee becomes depressed during winter, it might be possible to arrange a leave of absence during the dark months if extra lights don't help.

"The worst thing for a boss to say is, 'You can't handle this job because you're mentally ill,'" Miklowitz says. "Some people with bipolar disorder feel they're not allowed to have the same reactions as others because it will be attributed to their illness--not because they're justifiably upset."
Miklowitz stresses that having bipolar disorder doesn't necessarily limit your career. A survey conducted by the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University found that 73% of 500 professionals previously diagnosed with a psychiatric illness were able to maintain full-time employment in their chosen fields, including executives, lawyers, professors, nurses and newspaper reporters.

But bipolar disorder is a chronic condition and requires a watchful eye.

People in the manic stage of the illness often feel they can do things no one else can do. They may sleep less than usual--or not at all--and may have great energy, talk faster and express unrealistic ideas. Some may be easily distracted and act impulsively by spending money unwisely or driving recklessly, Miklowitz says.

In the depressive stage, those with bipolar disorder may feel extremely sad, irritable or anxious. They may lose interest in people or activities, sleep too much or be unable to sleep. Energy levels may be low. Some may feel bad or guilty. A few may talk about committing suicide--and some attempt it.

The illness can be treated with mood stabilizing drugs, such as lithium; Depakote, a product of Abbott Laboratories (nyse: ABT - news - people ); Zyprexa, a product of Eli Lilly (nyse: LLY - news - people ); or Lamictal, a product of GlaxoSmithKline (nyse: GSK - news - people ).
Taking such medication requires the attention of a psychiatrist to be sure that any side effects don't get out of hand. Many patients find that therapy helps them learn how to prevent relapses, manage stress, monitor moods and regulate sleep cycles. If alcohol or drugs are part of the mix, many find that mutual support organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are helpful.

If bipolar disorder can't be controlled, it may be necessary to apply for disability payments. This should be a last resort, and, with luck, you'll be able to return to work eventually. For many, work helps steady the mood swings.

"Work keeps you on a consistent schedule--when you go to sleep, when you get up," Miklowitz says. "People who work are less likely to use alcohol or drugs that make a bipolar condition worse."

Most employers are good people who want their offices filled with happy, productive workers. Most have no intention of stigmatizing anyone with a mental illness, and missteps rarely are malicious, but stem from thoughtlessness or ignorance.

Disclosing your condition can be risky, but if you believe your boss has your best interests at heart, talking openly about your condition is a shot worth taking.

Following the article comes a link that takes you to tips to disclosing  your illness at work.  I will post that tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Think you NEED caffeine? Think again!

Caffeine Shown to Induce Anxiety and, in Larger Doses, Maybe More

By Courtney Reyers, NAMI Publications Manager
An April 2012 report by the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust found a link between extreme caffeine and a suicide attempt in one case report. In addition, caffeine is known to exacerbate or sometimes even induce some psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia, according to studies conducted in 2009. In rare circumstances, worsening of psychosis and mania can also result.

This latest case report only reinforces what most of us already know: lifestyle choices play a big part in recovery management. Avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising on a regular basis can work wonders when it comes to keeping the human brain healthy.
A study in 1997 by Kaplan et al. showed that a dose of 250 mg of caffeine produced pleasant effects such as elation and peacefulness, but that when subjects were given does of 500 mg of the stimulant, negative effects such as anxiety, nausea and palpitations started to set in.
Although drinking one or two servings of coffee (which clocks in between 100 and 200 mg of caffeine per cup), soda (40 mg per can) or an energy drink (often more than 200 mg per can/bottle) every day is typically fine for most people, overdoing it can be potentially harmful.

Larger doses of caffeine (over 750 mg a day) can induce overstimulation, resulting in rapid heartbeat and insomnia. The subject in the NHS case study was a healthy 28-year-old boxer with no prior physical or mental health records (although the subject lost a brother to suicide and another to a drug overdose, indicating a family history of mental illness). The subject consumed 560 mg of caffeine per day over the course of two days, resulting in a three-day bout of insomnia that ended in a suicide attempt. After resuscitation and admittance to the hospital, the subject had no attempt and had no prior suicidal ideation.

If you live with a mental health condition, be sure to monitor your caffeine intake and strive to keep it under 200 mg per day. For more tips on healthy living, visit NAMI’s Hearts & Minds web resource, where you’ll find food and exercise journals, fact sheets on substance abuse and smoking cessation among other topics as well as videos.

Make you rethink caffeine? It makes me re-think it for sure!  I am vowing to avoid caffeinated beverages and  I am actually going to do a daily mood journal along with it.  I'll let you know how it works out for me!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Very fitting on the day that I received my MBA!

I thought it was the end so many times and it never was, I persevered time and time again to get to where I am! I hope it is easier from here on out to continue to where I want to be but even if it's not, I will get there no matter what and how long it takes!

Today I reached... "Yes, I did it!"
Tomorrow will be back down to "How do I do it?" as I figure out how to obtain the goals that follow the achievemnet of receiving my MBA!


I did it, I did it, I did it, I graduated!!!

Proud to be a Master of Business!

Celebratory glass of wine!

         Dinner afterwards at Ryan's Daughter!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What a great day!

What a fabulous day today has been! I handed in my last 2 papers for my MBA and took my last exam for my MBA! Such an amazing day, I did it!!! 

In addition to that amazingness, my blog broke 2,000 visits today! Thank you for all who continue to come back to read all my new postings and thank you to those who have shared my blog with others that you believed it would be of interest to.

Thank you for all the love and support!

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kenny Chesney and Tim Mcgraw Concert

The Breidenstein sisters took on FedEx Field the 2nd year in a row to see Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw! Kenny never disappoints! This was however my first time seeing Tim McGraw and he was absolutely amazing. They are both incredibly talented, they are amazing singers, amazing performers and they sure are both great to look at! We had an absolute blast at the concert.  I believe we were among the very few individuals that did not partake in any adult beverages and we probably enjoyed the concert more because of it!

Tim McGraw

Kenny Chesney

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Normal you say??? What in the world is that?

I could just sit around and pretend I don't have a diagnosis, pretend that I am completely "normal" (whatever normal means) and never discuss my illness with anyone.   

But the question is WHY? Why would I do that? Why should I do that? Why would I feel it necessary to do that?

Well for  12 years I did just that! I sat around and pretended I didn't have a diagnosis, I pretended that I was completely "normal" and I never discussed my illness with anyone.

To me, my illness was always a deep dark secret that I didn't want to let out for anyone to see. I could never discuss things with a therapist despite how badly I needed it at times. I could never bring myself to be completely open and honest with even my psychiatrist.  I consider myself to have spent 12 years in some sort of a denial.  I quietly took the meds I needed to take to keep me as mentally healthy as possible yet never discussed my illness with anyone.  If it were ever brought up I dodged the topic real quick, even if it was my family bringing it up. The topic of Bipolar was a no fly zone for me, unless of course I was talking about someone else with Bipolar, in which case talk away!  I was embarrassed of my illness but even more importantly and detrimental I was in denial.

I learned in a recent relationship that hiding my illness just causes complications in the long run.  Being open and honest about it is both healthy and important.  While you won't see me walking through the mall talking to people about my suicide attempt 5 years ago or the psychosis I was experiencing last year you will now find me much more open and honest in general about my illness.  I have found a new level of honesty with my psychiatrist that I never knew possible and I have definitely reaped the benefits of it.  When I stated in the above paragraph "I quietly took the meds I needed to take to keep me as mentally healthy as possible", what I really meant was, I was never as mentally healthy as possible because I was never completely honest with my psychiatrist.

I'm not perfect nor do I want to be, I have flaws, I've made mistakes, I even have a few regrets no matter how much I say that you should never regret your experiences because they are all lessons.  One  of my biggest regrets is not discussing my illness with the people that were important to me in the past.  I regret not discussing the fact that I have a diagnosis and how my illness presents itself, what it looks like when I start to become symptomatic, etc.  There are 2 reasons this has become a regret of mine.  The first is that typically I don't recognize my manic symptoms until they get pretty serious. I am typically better at recognizing my depressive symptoms but not if it is a quick onset of symptoms.  Helping those that are close to me understand my illness and what it looks like when I become symptomatic provides me with a support system for when I begin to exhibit symptoms, these individuals may even be able to recognize my symptoms before I can recognize them for myself.  As a result of opening up, I now have that support system that I have never had before. The other reason that this is a regret is because hiding my illness can and has ruined friendships/relationships in one way or another.  Last year I hid my illness from someone very close to me until I literally couldn't hide it anymore and once I finally admitted to having Bipolar I still never once had a conversation with this individual about Bipolar, what my symptoms look like and so on. Without going into too much detail, the onset of some psychotic symptoms did not bode well for a relationship that was aleady detriorating in many respects (with just cause but entirely unrelated to the Bipolar).  Let's just say it added complications to walking away from one type of relationship in the best way possible in order to develop a different, healthier kind of relationship with this individual, now there is no type of relationship at all between us. On top of that this individual had no idea what to expect from a "Symptomatic Sara" and they may possibly have been able to help me identify that I was becoming symptomatic far before I was able to identify it myself (just speculation, I could be wrong there).

I tell you this because that was my turning point.  That was the point where I realized, yes, I have an illness but it is nothing to be ashamed of.  My illness is not a deep dark secret it is a part of me just like my brown eyes, my curly brown hair, the head on my shoulders that I am so lucky to have (I've done just fine despite the brain disorder they call Bipolar), my ambitions, my hopes, my dreams, etc. Every little part of me is just the same as the bipolar, one tiny piece of me that all fits together to make me into who I am.  I realized that I have spent so much time and energy hiding my illness from those that I love and care about.  Instead of hiding it I could have been educating those in my life about my illness.  I also realized that anyone that doesn't accept me just because of my diagnosis doesn't deserve a place in my life anyway.  I knew that I could no longer just go through life hiding the fact that I have a diagnosis, no one should ever feel the need to hide something like that.

So here I am, not just discussing my illness with those that I love and care about but discussing it with the world.  I went from one end of the spectrum to the other.  My blog was not intended for me, it was intended to fight stigma, educate about mental illness, raise awareness of mental illness and provide a sense of belonging to those who are suffering from a mental illness.  I am so happy to know that I have touched the lives of individuals who follow Kissing Stigma Goodbye on Facebook and who read my blog.  Hearing from those individuals makes it all worthwhile.  Despite the fact that the blog was not intended for me, I would be lying if I said it hasn't helped me as well.  This blog is an outlet for me too, I can't wait to begin writing more regularly again.  Only 1 week left 'til I graduate and I can make that writing happen again!

Thank you to all of you who continue to come back to my blog time and time again.  Thank you for those of you who have sent me supportive e-mails and messages on Facebook.  Thank you to those of you who have sent me e-mails telling me their own situation and e-mails discussing how my blog has been able to help them. And of course, thank you to those that I love and who love me that make me feel completely comfortable discussing that I have a mental illness and make sure I know that it makes me no different from anyone else!  Without them, I wouldn't feel open and comfortable enough to have this blog and to be raising awareness and fighting stigma!

Thanks for reading! Until Next time...

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Have you liked me on Facebook yet???

Don't forget to like Kissing Stigma Goodbye on Facebook:

I am working on a post for you currently, It will be done by tomorrow (Thursday) evening. 
It won't be too long, no fun facts or research.
It will all be personal and from the heart!
It will be about why I decided to come out and stop hiding the fact that I have bipolar in a locked closet as if it was some deep dark secret! It is not deep nor is it dark and it definitely isn't a secret, it is just a small, minute part of ME!
In reality the fact that I could hide it from so many close individuals in my life shows that I truly am no different than anyone else. I don't act any different, I don't speak any different, I don't write any different, I don't look any different because I am no different and therefore without being given the information by me many individuals in my life had no reason to think I was different because I'm not different. 
The fear of mine always was that I would be seen as different and this is why I could never discuss it until I finally realized for myself that I am no different.
I hope you all enjoy reading it, I know it has been a long time since I have really written a personal blog and I do apologize for that!
My laptop is being looked at right now and will hopefully *crosses fingers* be fixed by the end of the week!
It is bedtime for me now, but expect my post tomorrow evening!

"It's not about what you've lost. It's about what you still have that matters" -Susan Gale

Thanks for reading as always! I promise to bring you more individualized, creative and personal content in the coming weeks than I have in the previous weeks.

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This puts it into perspective...

Very true...

I wouldn't trade my "storm" in for anything because it has made me who I am today and has given me what I need to go forth with the strength and the courage that I have developed through it all.

Check it out...