Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Mentally Ill's Covenant With Oneself

Irony at it's best. Anyone who knows me knows I am a Star Wars geek. When I got this report from CNN I remember the heinous vitriol I received when I gave similar differential from my roleplaying on Twitter and the overt cyberbullying alienation I got positing this mental health differential.

I think what the misnomer is that evil people, even in real life, like Hitler and Edi Amin, having a "mental illness" somehow absolves them from justice and responsibility to the hateful destruction they have imparted on this Earth. In the example above, the "case study" of "Darth Vader" suggest he has a borderline personality disorder. My nominal understanding gave the differential of "Dissociative Identity Disorder", I admit, it was a stretch, and currently agree with clinicians that it resembles Narcissistic personality disorder. But I also think there is mixed episode Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to Anakin Skywalker's enslavement, grief and hastened bereavement from the loss of his mother, and on-going of the "Clone Wars". And this is not to mention the manipulations used by "The Force", which I strongly believe that Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious) actively used to manipulate Anakin Skywalker's thoughts, egging him on - but in the novel, Yoda clearly says, that Anakin Skywalker's conversion to Darth Vader WAS A CHOICE...

Aside from this exercise being a fun one for us "real-life" scientists to do--dream of science fiction because it is easier without proof, what took me aback is the ferociousness, hate-fill puerile socially inept spewing of vitriol with a complete deluded lack of knowledge. Now, granted the lead expert is NOT the largest Star Wars fan on the planet, and may have NEVER studied any of the books cover-to-cover, and innocently thought, "Hey, this would be a great exercise of my skills to share how this situation is possible and relate to millions worldwide!" But this ugliness toward him is stupid to say the least. Telling him to just get over it is to question his training and intelligence thereby exacting mental health stigma against him - i.e. psychiatrists are just as crazy as the patients they treat... Now, that is why many of physicians/clinicians only interact with colleagues rather than unknowns. Too much ignorance.

Wait... Aren't we suppose to be trying to get along in Cyberspace through social media? Wow!

Let me make this clear: Just because one has a mental illness does not absolved them from their responsibilities...

It is a CHOICE to do right by oneself and others! Just because one has a diagnosis like that, does not mean they stop trying to care for oneself!

We who suffer from mental illness MUST make a covenant with OURSELVES to optimize our health. Of course this is for ADULTS! Children cannot go into promises they cannot keep. But now that we are adults who are mentally ill, does not mean we "get off scott-free". That was one of the HARDEST, CRUELEST lesson I HAD to learn when I had to learn how to manage my mental illness, bipolar disorder. If I wanted to live, I had to DO this.... Here is my COVENANT I made to myself:

  • My basic responsibility is to TAKE CARE OF MYSELF! Take my meds, see my PCPs, track my symptoms, do my fitness, eat healthy, practice my mindfulness, practice compassionate listening and nonviolent communication, continue learning, etc! Whatever it is I must do, I continue to do it without giving up, writing it off, quitting if I believe in it and it does not cause me ADVERSE stress...

    What's ADVERSE stress: Not eating, sleeping, picking fights, all the wonderful symptoms of one's mental illness within one week... If you done 5/10 of them it means you are having an episode and need to speak with your provider, ASAP!

  • Responsibility to MYSELF TO KEEP MYSELF ON POINT with forgiveness. We ALL relapse. Be gentle, be kind to oneself! We're just more sensitive to our failures than those who are not mentally ill. If we find ourselves making huge mistakes and errors in what we do, such as that at work, with our friends, with our families, okay, you made the mistake...GIVE IT TIME! The decision to forgive the mistake by others is THEIR choice...The decision to forgive yourself from the mistake is YOUR choice... Now, I AM NOT talking about overt criminal behavior--in fact, it is a misnomer that mentally ill persons cause crime... ONLY in the context of outright substance abuse is the combination of mental illness and crime relevant - even for pedophilia. Substances that abused include tobacco and/or alcohol, too. It has been found for schizophrenics, they abuse tobacco, there may be a mutated receptor in their brains that causes the increased addiction to the nicotine. Would they cause crime, well that remains to be seen, but if other illegal substances, such as methamphetamine, and other drugs, making it tough to call and more studies are needed.

  • TRY to make every effort to get out there and do it...It is SO easy to become reticent in our life duties. From running errands, to going to seminars to network, wow, it is SO easy to give up on ourselves and it does look like wallowing in our own misery. DO NOT FALL INTO THAT TRAP! FIND ANYTHING to get yourself out. If all you can do is tweet me, then do it! I will listen and I coach with suggestions. But you have to tell me if you just want me to listen versus coach. And I charge $60 per hour to coach because what coaching does different from a diagnosis is get you to the goal of you "feeling better" based on your small wins.

  • Yes, I suffer, so I KNOW what it takes to work through it. Getting out of that FUNK. What I do, is I post what is EXACTLY going through my mind during an episode. Maybe, just maybe a well-meaning and astute researcher will come along and realize what is going on with me that can help others from suffering...So when I get ultra depressed, I post...

  • The other covenant I make is I make phone calls to my family members who "get" me. Namely my Mother and my Husband. If I call my mother, she just talks and tells me how things are going and the laughter makes me feel much better... If I call my husband, since he is a veterinarian, he goes through a differential diagnosis until he gets flustered and will make be speak to his father, my father-in-law, who is a retired Cardiologist...LOL! If I call my Father, he listens to a point, then he tells me EXACTLY what do, then asks when I am coming home and he will get my ticket...

  • If all those contacts fail, I call the pros in and I get appointments. By the time the episode is over is when I speak to them. I want to have them "catch me in the act" - RARELY does that occur. But when they do catch me, I get great diagnosis...It is the acting out that helps them. RARELY does that happen even for other Chronic Conditions, like heart attacks... We only know that a heart attack has occurred because 1) Cardiac Arrest; 2) Something is wrong with usual diagnostics (i.e. Echo, EKG); or 3) Catheter block visualization. But for mental illness, it is RARE to see the psychotic behavior when someone is at their "ends rope". There are NO physical diagnostic tests. So how can we tell for ourselves???

  • KNOW YOUR BODY AND ACCEPT THINGS YOU CAN/CANNOT CHANGE! Fact is, if you are tired and need the rest--GET IT SOME KIND OF WAY! If you know that you get very nervous in huge gridlock traffic at specific times of the day, PLAN YOUR TRIP!!! TAKE YOUR TIME!!! ((Yeah, that happens to me and sometimes, I just don't show up for it, because it is NOT worth my sanity)). Don't expect to lift 100 pounds if you haven't practice in years! Just have fun for now, and gradually build up. The issue with most mental illness is "PATIENCE"...BE PATIENT ESPECIALLY WITH YOURSELF! That has to be THE COVENANT you make with yourself--PATIENCE!!! The reality is, everything takes time and we want to rush it. I know. I have wanted to rush through systems rather than slowing down, breathing through and savor in the moment of my life.

Because ultimately, it is YOUR LIFE, YOUR CHOICE, YOUR DECISION! You make the choice! One choice you CAN make is to do "nothing"...That is the choice you can make. But isn't life much more "sweeter" when you choose to live your life on a healthy decision rather than doing nothing???

Be well!