Just how delicate things are

I accidentally took my morning meds two or three hours later than usual yesterday. This sent me into an anxiety tailspin. I had no idea my reaction to my meds would be so time sensitive — that a two or three hour delay would have dire consequences. Well it did. I went into a full blown panic attack and in the process extended my anxiety to my lovely 17 year old daughter. This is so totally not fair to her. BIG lesson learned for me is that schedule DOES MATTER when taking psych meds. Also BIG lesson learned is that I need to forgive myself and ask for apologies from my daughter for extending anxiety toward her instead of the love and support she deserves.

Have you ever forgotten to take meds on time and suffered the consequences? Did you have to forgive your self in the process? And ask others to forgive you too?

Has anybody done the research on this?

I remember being taught somewhere along my mental health career that thought precedes emotion, but it always struck me as being the other way around. I feel emotions first then from those emotions thoughts are formed. If the emotion is a delicate one, my thoughts might also be delicate. If the mood is a good one, the thoughts that follow are generally positive.

Honestly, I don’t believe the entire communication process is rational and therefore governed by thought. I believe that the emotions we experience lead us toward certain thoughts.

If it is true that thoughts precede emotions, all we have to do is change our thoughts. What resonates with me on the other hand is the need to improve how we feel in order to get the feel-good thoughts to occur and stick.

Anybody want to weigh in on this discussion? I honestly cannot remember what setting I was in where this idea was presented that thought generated everything including emotion. But still I feel it’s the other way around. What do you think?

Safety, Society, Stigma, Stability: Finding the Inner Child (repost)

For years I thought that my inner child within [1] was about ten years old.  This is about the time my parents separated for a divorce.  Like most children, I took this news personally and thought that I was personally responsible for their break-up.  I recall the Valentine’s Day after my parents separated I gave them both together a huge Valentine’s heart box filled with Russell Stover candies.  I could tell something was wrong by the look of sheer anxiety on my father’s face.   

In addition to this divorce, my inner child has been somewhat over-shadowed by being the replacement child for my older brother who died as an infant the year before I was born.  At least with my father, I always felt like the replacement child who did not quite measure up.  With my mom, this was not always so much the case.  

Today I feel that my inner child is more like 6 years old (than 10 years old) though I do not know of a specific incident that would have triggered this child within to “stop” at this age.  Perhaps my parents stopped communicating with each other when I turned 6, perhaps I experienced some childhood tragedy that I can no longer recall or name, perhaps this was the beginning of financial differences between my Mom and my Dad and all that that entails.

In any case, this six-year-old child within tends to believe in all sorts of magic just as would a child at six years of age.  She is a matchmaker at heart and seeks continually to imagine people together who might be good with each other – imaginarily or not.  She tends to see things in circular time or dream time often before they occur in linear time.  This early perception is not jarring to her mental health so long as there is not a safety component to it.  If there is a safety component to the perception, my child within seems to turn ten years old and not only feels ”unsafe” but also feels the responsibility for the “unsafe event.” 

I have spent years if not decades trying to understand this child within and her fears for safety.   I have particularly been focused on this child and her safety concerns since becoming a mother 17 years ago.   If I listen closely, it may be that this six-year-old child holds no fears only perceptions of a beautiful place and beautiful planet.  It may be that my true child within is largely guarded from feelings of unsafety, and it is more the child of ten years or the child of divorce or replacement that holds onto those feelings of responsibility and angst and anxiety.

If only I could get the ten-year-old child to listen to the six-year-old child, perhaps I could start to see and hear and experience a world in which everything is whole and in which God is truly in control.  If I am able to honor that six-year-old child fully, I may be able to let go of the ten-year-old child who forever feels responsible for any and almost every calamity that exists.  The ten-year-old feels responsibility for safety of self, safety of community, safety of nation and safety of the world, while the six-year-old appears unencumbered by these rampant safety concerns.  The six-year-old is largely concerned with whether or not people are happy and who might meet whom and what is needed in order to stay happy. 


[1]  I am aware that there are several texts that have been published that address finding the child within and healing the inner child.  I have never read any of these texts but I have worked directly with a therapist over several years in listening to and acknowledging that child.   I would assume that my therapist has read these books and has imparted their knowledge to me.  These books are not included in my Bibliography as I have never read them.

Found Ya Blog | Bloggers Interview | Mental Health is health

Here is an interview from a fellow blogger. Hope it sheds some light on things if you are unfamiliar with Mental Health.

A Writer's Deli

For today’s interview, we’ve got a topic which is of extreme significance. I, particularly am a huge advocate of mental well-being and eradication of the stigma surrounding it. To throw some light on the topic, we’ve with us a blogger whose life experience, optimism and practical ways to combat mental illness will be enlightening for the readers. The link to the blog is attached at the end for your reference. Happy Reading.

1.Thank you for this interview. What is your blog about and why the name Mental health is health?

My blog is about my journey through bipolar illness that started when I was in college and continues to this day, sometimes well managed and sometimes somewhat well managed. I feel that stigma is a major issue in the field of Mental Health – perhaps adding up to half of the battle for many people who are…

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Safety, Society, Stigma, Stability: a “Me Too” Movement Moment (repost)

Names and places have been changed in order to maintain privacy in these discussions.

During the fall of 1984 I was working on my thesis with a professor named Professor Dean Flannigan.  My thesis topic was somewhat controversial as I was using Modern Fiction in my research and drawing conclusions from authors of the times like Alice Walker and Flannery O’Connor.  I was looking at the way family is portrayed in Modern Fiction as an indicator of the socio-political developments and historical dynamics of the time.  It felt like the English Department was not altogether in favor of such a modern approach to a thesis, yet approval for my thesis topic was provided by the relevant committee.  This was a couple of years after my approval of a major in American Studies. 

Professor Dean Flannigan is a story in and of itself and one which I will not detail right now except to say I now feel that Professor Flannigan was someone who needed to be revered and admired by his students yet also considered a peer.  This situation was associated with risky behavior including serving cocaine to students in his home and invitations to Chicago which may have triggered my illness.

For me at the time, this was a “me too movement” moment. While I was not physically abused by Professor Flannigan, I believe I was psychologically abused. Professor Flannigan without any training tried to psychoanalyze me through the thesis advisement process and perhaps even tried to make me feel unstable. This unwarranted psychoanalysis triggered the response of a six-year-old child within me that likely experienced child abuse. Professor Flannigan’s attempts to psychoanalyze me I call psycho-social or psycho-sexual abuse. They left me with exposure of this six-year-old child with no way to regain security.

Today, I continue have high disregard for this professor and for Ivy College given the behavior of Professor Flannigan.  I also readily agree now that I was not mature enough to distance myself from his later “come-ons” and “innuendos.”  While an excellent scholar, I was not mature enough to tell Professor Flannigan to go to hell when he started to make advances toward me.  I was confused with feelings of respect I held for him intellectually vying with feelings of confusion and paranoia at being asked to travel with him unaccompanied to Chicago. 

Immediately after my first breakdown, Professor Flannigan began to distance himself from me in an effort to secure tenure.  This effort to secure tenure was after he and I had several thesis review meetings, after he invited me to join him on a trip to Chicago, after he tried to analyze my childhood on several occasions and after he tried to seduce me into coming solo with him to Chicago and after making zodiac references to me like “Scorpio riseth…” I had no idea what that saying was supposed to mean.  I also had no idea how to establish a boundary with Professor Flannigan.  On the one-hand, I thought he was brilliant and a brilliant scholastic role model.  On the other hand, I felt his actions to seduce me (as I understood them) were highly inappropriate.  But I did not have the strength to articulate this to myself much less to him. If I had perhaps been more mature myself, I could have indicated to this Professor Flannigan that while I revered his intellect, I found great fault with his personal behavior.  Bottom line I was emotionally too immature to know how to say no to a trip to Chicago or to an invitation toward some sort of sexual interlude.  I was academically brilliant as a scholar but not so much so as a student to a professor who consistently pushed the boundaries of appropriate behavior.      

Since that time, Professor Flannigan has enjoyed getting tenure at Ivy College and has secured virtually unprecedented popularity on campus.  I, on the other hand, have not enjoyed similar successes particularly in my professional life which has been hampered over the years on numerous occasions by my illness.

If I can do it, you can do it!

I recently have gotten back into a physical exercise regime, what I have not done for about 15 to 18 years. I have been keeping a log of my walks and my yoga. So far it has been five weeks since I started. I have kept the log each day and include any comments like what yoga positions were difficult (code for I could not complete….) or whether the walk was long or short. I also include a day of rest each week.

In my prior life, I was an exercise fanatic, sometimes going on runs twice a day. Later after running I was an aerobics enthusiast and actually taught classes in college and later after I graduated in clubs. Later in life but still before meeting my husband, I was a self-taught dancer. I always considered myself to be very fit, but after my lovely daughter was born, I slipped into a not-so-fit lifestyle. I gave up on exercise and succumbed to the idea that meds cause weight gain.

I also succumbed to stress eating and snacking particularly at night before bed. This is not good for weight control and not so good for being at risk for Type II diabetes either.

I share my recent success with getting into a yoga and walk routine because I am proud to say this is the longest duration in forever that I have kept up such an exercise regime. I also want you to know that if you are on the fence about exercising, motivation can happen for you! If it happened for me, it can surely happen for you, too!

I am also proud to report that I have lost ten pounds and have kept it off over the last two to three months. I still am having my evening treat which I hope soon to discontinue or to substitute with a price of fruit. While ten pounds off is a good initial accomplishment for me, I would like to update that goal with an additional ten pounds more to lose. We’ll see if that’s doable.

Although I have known about the connection between exercise and stress management all my life, I still have been somehow unwilling to get back into the routine of things. This last month has reminded me how crucial exercise is to helping with mental health — especially anxiety management which is one of my biggest challenges.

I keep a basic log in WORD and write down a daily account of my walks and my yoga. I write down what was particularly difficult in yoga and what I did as an alternative pose. There is no room for judgement or for feeling bad if I cannot do a certain pose. I simply do what I can and modify the pose if it is too difficult for me. Whether I complete the class doing all the work or some of the work, I still benefit from a good bit of stress and anxiety reduction.

Anyway, I wanted to share my start back to a successful exercise schedule. Hopefully this will help keep me motivated. Also, I hope if you too are experiencing trouble getting going in this area, you will use the idea of my simple log to help you start your version of the same sort of regimen.

Dear Reader,

Dear reader I am writing to ask you a question. What happens after a person has had some reconciliation of the fact that he/she was very much abused as a small child? If this doesn’t pertain to you, please disregard this post.

I have just undergone gut-wrenching and extensive therapy since December 2020 which for me had its origins in treatment I received as a small child of about 6.

I have been clinging to the earth these last few weeks so as not to slip again into the abyss where for some extended period of time a portion of my psyche had been living.

According to my own assessment, I have successfully crawled and clawed my way out of a 100 foot deep pit with slippery mud sides.

Now that I am completely out of the pit ( I hope), I am wondering what to do with myself, what to work on, what to avoid, what to learn, what to enjoy. Take a shower and wash off the mud? Take into account exactly where the pit is so as not to fall into it again? Designate this exit from the abyss as my new “rock bottom” and be thankful for hitting it so as to get the $%^&* out of there? Allow myself to tell myself, I deserve happiness? I deserve good health and fitness?

As fodder for knowing I have exited the abyss, for the first time in 20 years I have been able to stick to an exercise routine composed of mostly yoga and some walking in the neighborhood. I have recorded a log which is two weeks long and growing which for me is super progress. In my youth I was very, very fit, so getting back to that place with mindfulness is huge for me.

So if anyone here or there has also climbed out of their own pit of abuse or anxiety or depression, I would love to hear your story as to what you decided to do next once you found yourself alongside the edge of that pit but no longer in it.

Of course I will talk my therapist about it, but I thought I would ask you dear reader in the meantime.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Imprinting (reposted and a continuation from prior post)

What I took away from this first break experience during my Senior winter at Ivy College is that being mentally ill meant I was first a criminal and second a person. I know that first responders were doing their jobs to watch out for the safety of all those who were boarding the plane and/or in the airport. But that experience told me: “You are a criminal. You were trying to bomb the plane. You are guilty of anything and everything until proven innocent. You need to be handcuffed. You do not have the right to have fears much less to express them. You do not have the right to have perceptions that are not 100 percent clear. You are a danger to others around you and you need to be locked up.”

My first episode imprinted me for the rest of my life. For years, I would try to escape the label of criminal that had been imposed on me by circumstance and happenstance. But try as I might, I still felt like I was a criminal every time I had a subsequent break-through episode no matter how big or how small.

In hindsight, things could have unfolded quite differently. I could have reported to the school clinic that I was having anxiety about traveling to Chicago and had been having some trouble sleeping. I could have gone into the clinic for a routine evaluation and perhaps been put on lithium or some other drug for bipolar. But sadly, that is not the way my first episode and subsequent diagnosis of bipolar went. I remember to this day looking at those pictures on the wall in the police station and thinking they must be looking for me as “most wanted.” Being mentally ill simply meant I was a criminal.

I will talk later on about stigma and first responders — including the importance of training first responders how to recognize the signs if a person is a danger to him or herself or whether the person is also a danger to those around him or her. But that discussion about stigma and first responder training is for another day.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Fear of Flying (reposted)

I am reposting chapters of the book I wrote a few years ago in hopes of catching some more recent readers. Thank you in advance for your readership. These posts provide a graphic account of a life with bipolar illness. Please avoid these posts if that is a trigger for you.

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Note – several names and places have been changed throughout this text in order to keep my story somewhat private. Thanks for understanding that need.

Although I had had no prior fear of flying, my first episode of bipolar illness was in a tiny airport near my Ivy League college (hereafter known as Ivy College).  While I was waiting for the plane to get ready to taxi off the runway and take me to my first interview for a job after college in advertising, I was consumed by runaway thoughts.  My thoughts were anywhere but on my interview for an Account Executive position at Chicago Avenue Advertisers.  I had no specific directions for my fears but I took out some papers I was working on for my undergraduate thesis at Ivy College and was writing and writing furiously in and around the margins of the pages of the papers I previously had written.  The thoughts seemed to co-mingle with the characters in the fiction as well as characters or people I knew in real life.  The writing was fast and furious until I finally heard the flight that I was to take to Chicago on the puddle-jumper called.

For some reason I did not feel safe in myself enough to board the plane once the flight was called and I came to the conclusion that the plane was going to crash.  I did not communicate this fear with anyone.  Instead I determined that I did not want to get on a plane that was going to crash, so I got my suitcase together and asked the airplane attendant if I could check my bags on the plane but not board the plane myself.  For some unknown reason, the contents of my suitcase were of paramount importance.  I recall a navy suit that I had packed and feeling like that suit should reach a friend who I was going to see in Chicago.   The label on the suit became extremely important at the time – it was an Evan Picone double-breasted navy wool suit.  The airport personnel immediately got suspicious and asked me why I was putting my suitcase on the plan and asked me to move away from the plane with them.  When I refused, the safety patrol man exerted more force and tried to get me to go with him.  In my fears, I turned to run down the runway away from the scene of the fears and ran completely down the airport runway up into a stand of pines, one shoe flying off in the process and resting in the snowy runway.  I recall exactly what I was wearing – a plaid pleated wool skirt in muted tones, a long sleeve silk blouse and a double breasted woolen gray or taupe sweater.  I don’t recall a coat or over-coat.   The safety patrolmen at the airport followed me into the woods with snow all around and made a chair with their arms for me to sit on.  I was in some stage of delirium and thought they were providing me some sort of throne to safety. 

Instead the next thing I knew I was being handcuffed to the backseat of a patrol car with the patrol lights flashing blue and white and was being escorted to the police station down the road.  When I arrived at the police station I kept telling the police that I was a Senior and straight A student at Ivy College and they must have made some mistake.  On the walls there were pictures of wanted criminals – I kept trying to figure out what the pictures meant.  There were three pictures:  a young woman who I thought looked like Ayn Rand, a man with a long beard who looked in my state to be like a long-haired Jesus and one other picture of a youngish man whose face I cannot recall.  What I do recall is feeling like a criminal and being treated like a criminal until a kind policeman named Michael started to ask me questions.  Once I started to talk with Michael I began to calm down.

After what felt like days of swirling and runaway thoughts and a myriad of questions, the police finally called my family and called the school clinic and I was escorted there.  Soon after, several of my college roommates arrived to be with me while the admission process continued.  After talking briefly with the clinic staff, I was transferred to the local hospital’s Psychiatric Unit. 

Within the next few hours my parents arrived in town and tried to begin to make sense of what had happened.  I recall my parents visiting me in the hospital mostly my Dad whose anxiety I could sense was through the roof.  Within a couple of days, we made arrangements to go back home to Augusta, Georgia.  I unenrolled from classes and moved back home to live with my parents for the spring and summer of 1985.  No one was sure yet if this was a temporary reaction to stress as a Senior and as a Senior thesis writer or the beginning of a lifelong behavioral health diagnosis and challenge.