Thursday, March 31, 2011

Marriage and Mental Health and Wellness - my POV

Long story short, my husband and I eloped when we got married nearly 8 years ago. We were in love and who knew it would last this long given my mental health condition. I knew I had found my "missing piece"! And I hoped he had found his, too.

I am dealing with a bipolar type 2 diagnosis, hypomania. I manage it with medications and therapy. If I change it on my own volition, which I have done before and I say I do not need either of those treatment options, within two months I am "out of control" - sobbing, impulsive, fighting, disheveled, no one can talk to me, nothing sinks in, and my ability and freedom to make quality choices about my wellness is impaired. If I want to stay married to a good man, I do not deviate from my current treatment plan.

The issue with the general public's opinion on mental health and wellness is that it is a choice that people like me make. I really wish it were that simple. I wish I I could CHOOSE NOT to feel the way that I do. That I would not have to take medications, hide from the mental health stigma and not have to see a therapist. But I know that if I do not, this condition will worsen to fainting spells, memory loss and suicide ideation.

I get these interesting emails from Smart Marriages: The Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education
is dedicated to making marriage education widely available. They have a "newsletter" still sent by email -- tidbits to stay married, marriage enrichment, and family support during trying times. These days with a poor economy and so many people out of work, such as myself for greater than 3 years, these are truly trying times for a marriage and its longevity.

One of the Smart Marriage's newsletter authors posted this ignorance about mental health and wellness (verbatim original context):

Ouch, I really stepped on a live wire with the post about the book, The Emperor’s New Clothes (that “explodes the antidepressant myth”). I APOLOGIZE to those who were offended by my promotion of this book – who wrote to say antidepressants have literally saved their lives and/or the lives of loved ones and/or their marriages. I send my SYMPATHIES to those who, on the other end of the continuum, feel they have basically lost long stretches of their lives, their loved ones, their marriages because of the side-effects of antidepressant treatment. And, I also STAND very much CORRECTED by those who reminded me and quoted myself back to me – that I have always maintained that Smart Marriages is focused on increasing access to Marriage Education and that we don’t have the time or energy to wade into other battles and campaigns. It turns out that antidepressants are as divisive a topic as any you can name – abortion, gun control, vaccines, immigration, etc. – there are as many blogs, websites, bumper-stickers in the antidepressant pro and con campaigns as any other. Several of you also pointed out that this book is not, by far, anything new – there are many books that rail against “legal drug pushers - people licensed by the govt and paid huge incentives by the billion dollar pharma industry to push antidepressants.” You said if I want to blow the whistle, blow it about the 10’s of millions of children being put on antidepressants. (Hmmmm, 10s of millions?) And one of you wrote that I should consider myself blessed that I’ve not (yet) felt the need for antidepressants. Some of you said I could use your letters and your names, including your diagnosis and suicide attempts. I don’t think that’s necessary. I get it. And, as I said, my apologies and I do stand corrected. - diane

This is not the first time that Smart Marriages has sent emails filled with insensitive vitriol. In fact, this newsletter is about the only misinformed "marriage related" without peer reviewed scientific research literature base. It is nice to have "tidbits" that a user can decide to accept or not accept, but to cyberbully by fear tactics is irresponsible, especially when it involves the issue of HEALTH CARE -- specifically, MENTAL HEALTH CARE!


Because the brain is an organ, too. It can get sick like any other organ, heart, liver, lungs, muscles, blood, etc. Would the same cruel and mean-spirited comments be made to someone who suffered from a heart attack, stroke or cancer? Then why are they being said to someone who is dealing with and managing a mental HEALTH condition?

Through my own trials and tribulations in my marriage, and developing a "wellness recovery action plan" or "WRAP" by Mary Ellen Copeland, I have discovered, that to keep my marriage with my husband, he needs to be trained in true medical caregiving or what is now called "attending". The idea of a physical health issue, like Alzheimer's Caregiving can be adapted to Mental Health Caregiving.

My husband needs to know how to handle me on good days and bad days. The good days when I seem fun to be around, but wait - is it over the top? Are they manic like? When I am asked about my thinking or process, do I have one? Because if I do not, I am in the process of setting myself up for failure that can spiral me into a depression down the road. There are tactics one can learn from Caregiving to minimize and communicate to me as to what it is I am doing: i.e. when is the last time I have communicated with my psychiatrist, etc.?

On my bad days, which are looking more like forgetfulness and impatience, and then the "water works" start, he needs to learn some tactics that can keep him sane. Thes tactics I cannot teach him, nor are they in a book. These are tactics that are trial and error and learned through resourcing. What he would be doing is consulting with a professional resource so he can be better equipped to handle me if and when I am unmanageable. It is liken to patient who suffers from lung problems and his or her breathing becomes belabored requiring a nebulizer - what does the caregiver do when that happens? The professional resource SHOWS him or her what to do! In my husband's case, he actually does know how to deal with a nebulizer, but he does not know for a mental illness.

Lastly and most importantly, he needs to know how to take care of himself. When it feels to him like he is in over his head and what can he do to relay that to me, so that I HEAR him. He deserves to be honest with me. Because I know, caregivers do get exhausted and want their own lives. And I think there are some good methods that couples can develop to handle that. In fact, I think it is one of the most personal and creative ways that a married couple can manifest -- it is the "what makes this work" in our own marriage.

My husband is a wonderful man. He is very understanding, patient and kind. And with my bipolar issue, which I still have a tough time letting it get the best of me, he has supported me, in all my endeavors while we have been married. I appreciate and thank him for that. Lately, I have gone to my providers and started asking questions if my health regimen requires changing, and it did. I can just tell there is a difference and it is not placebo. Yet, I am suffering from physical pains, which may be a sign of many other things. But the one thing that keeps me afloat, is when I see my husband's smile that he feels like he is doing "right" by me.

Mental health in a marriage requires:

  • Health caregiver support just like other health conditions.

  • Research and best practice training can be clinically developed to enrich marriages

  • There can be a spiritual component, similar to that seen in Hospice if desired.

  • Lastly, if we are about removing stigma, ignorances must be deflected by "laymen talking points" and advertised on all media channels with experts, rather than incivility.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't try to talk sense to a fool; he can't appreciate it... Proverbs 23:9

Don't try to talk sense to a fool; he can't appreciate it... Proverbs 23:9

When I grew up every Sunday, at my family's breakfast table, we all had to recite a Bible Verse. Most of the time, when I was young, I would say, "Jesus Wept" or "God is Love". As I got older and started to read the Bible more with studies, I learned of this verse, Proverbs 23:9. I guess I was ~14-15 years old and growing into myself, with my own ideas. And felt the oppression of being a teen, a woman, and Black all at one time. This was in the early-1980's - BC - Before Cosby, Before Computers.

What struck me about this verse was the fact that there is no reason why we need to argue about our beliefs other than to announce them and provide clarification. People do not need to sway our thoughts one way or another if we have faith in God, shown in Jesus Christ. Why do I need to convince anyone of my convictions? But when I was a young person, I did not see it that. I saw it as alienating the group that I wanted to like me. And more often than not, that group was living life on the edge - doing drugs, carousing, skipping school, etc.

Fortunately, I had my Sunday breakfast Bible Verse recitation, that was more afraid of failing than those young people in the "fast lane" in Southern California. Having those kids hate me and spread vicious rumors about me at school was less fearing than not having my Bible Verse ready. It was not so much the admonishment I got from my folks, it was more disrespectful I showed to God that I feared.

I have been on Social Media for quite a while. And these days the civility of conversation, no matter how inane it can be is degenerated by disrespectful and unmindful people. Basically, their parents did not teach these young people basic social manners and etiquette. Some of the statements that are made are so severe it attacks people at their core being. Having read an article on Newsweek about how inundated we are with information, the multi-tasking is exacerbating our brain inability for effective decision making. We humans have never been this barraged with information at our finger tips and our prefrontal cortex is unable to keep up with the demands, so it decides the quickest and quantified route versus the creatively thought out, planned and qualified route to the best decision. It is that age-old "instant gratification, microwave thinking".

Then, after we make our decisions, we are uncomfortable with it and commiserate with our "social groups" online about how we could have chosen "better". And sometimes, there is a "troll" who like to be the fly in the ointment mentality and harasses to dominate and usually, it feels I am the target, but I know I am not the only one. That which I describe is called cyberbullying.

How to minimize interacting with cyberbullying is by:


It is not so much them asking me challenging questions, but the Ad Hominem logical fallacies or "name calling" are a "dead giveaway". The descriptive terms about my "avatar" or who and what I say I am. My avatar could be a pile of cow dung and I would get called "shit head"... I say I am Black Woman and I get called a "nigger bitch"... The minute name calling happens, any logical discussion has ended.

Another one is domination of direction of the conversation. Maybe just talking about the weather and it is one thing to not how it is horrific or nice it is in various places. But the conversation ends for me when someone unknown to me tells me I "should" be _______________ (fill in the blank). There are several logic fallacies that are in play here. Psychologically, this "should" conversation is about "power and control" ant the person doling out the domination is usually out of control and seeking to take power from whomever will give him or her a chance. The minute "shoulds" start happening, I say "bless your heart" and walk away, which is very difficult to do.

Over the years, my memory has started to fade and I had forgotten that lone Bible Verse of my youth. Then one day, I was cyberbullyed on Facebook and the verse just popped into my mind. Now, we have "Google" search engines and immediately it appeared with cross references of all the Christian denominational Bible texts. I like the present one the most because it is very simple and easy for all to understand.

The minute the following was shared, the person was harassed. Some of the comments have been deleted and the identities have been redacted.

The point is for this mundane non-critical amount of silliness, is that the commentators need say nothing if they disagree with the statement. Afterward there were several posts made about the verse not on the feed and the person who posted the verse was "unfriended" by quite a few people, which Facebook tracks.

Why were they offended to unfriend someone sharing some information, regardless of its source?

I think it is because they never knew the Christian Bible had that information and if they kept their uncivilized behavior, they would be seen as unappreciative and the speaker who is being nice, by choice, finds them a waste of time...

But there is another facet here: pleasant dinner table conversations with sociality or a deipnosophist, would keep the lively nature of the conversation and would not waste people's time, lest they would be seen as a fool... Usually for someone to keep the attentions of court there were stories that were told, rather than argumentative emotional behaviors.

These kinds of casual conversations often did make political policy in high court. That is why it was called etiquette. But a whole generation has not been reared with that mentality and it shows on Social Media. Moreover, the neurological effects caused by social media are just been completed and what is found has mixed results. It is a good way to maintain sociality until addiction sets in, then the communication deficits come in at play without common human face to face interactions.

What to do about that? I no longer have private personal conversations in chat or instant message rooms unless I have seen an interaction on my public feed for a month without altercations. I also have a "tire kicker" rule that I set for myself. If I say the sky is blue and some disagrees with me and challenges me, they have 5-10 posts to get to the validity of their point, then I cease interaction, either by unfriending them or block.

Belligerent and hurtful posts have immediate screenshots and posted on a blog indicating the offense, especially if the person is unknown.

It works sometimes. I makes me feel better in the long run to keep myself in control and make my social media experience positive. I keep my social media strategies for myself and my business and the interesting part is, I have been praying to God to grab a hold of me...

When I least expected it, He was right there... And this time it was a reminder...

Don't try to talk sense to a fool; he can't appreciate it...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Here is what I am doing in this bad job market/economy

I am writing this blog here because on all the other blogs I keep, this one seems best. I get these kinds of messages from people all over, but mainly in the United States -- (Redacted to protect the innocent):

I need a money miracle! I had to fire my babysitter two weeks before Christmas, 2010 because she was taking my kids to unsafe places, then I ended up losing my job. Now, I am drowning in debt and not sure what to do... I have my diploma to council kids who have emotional/behavioral issues but there is absolutely nothing in this town is available...

I have no job. No one pays me anything in the State of Washington. I was on unemployment when the United States Congress decided to behave funny with my chances for money that I felt was owed to me. And at that time, I was job searching through the computer without any responses. I am married and I have no children. I have a doctorate in Molecular Genetics and I have various skill sets that include the following:

Health Promotion
Health and Wellness Coaching
Grief and Bereavement Follow up
Certified Mental Health Peer Counselor

Here is how I am a benefit and opportunity:

I am a business owner who promotes online mental health can wellness resources through Social Media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs for diverse populations. What I have found is many diverse populations hear the message, but the Social Determinants of Health prevents them from optimizing the use of care in their communities.

What that means is, how can you tell a teenager that they need to have the "power of positive thinking" when they live in squalor? That is not helpful. What they need is a "wrap-around plan" with several professionals assisting them. These professionals can be chosen by the young person that they feel best can aid them to their goal with the assistance of a Peer Support Counselor or Coach...

I am that Peer Support Counselor and Coach... Because most young people are online. I have refrained from giving my services online due to the privacy restrictions, but I find myself using all that I have been taught in Coaching and Peer Support, such as Motivational Interviewing, Brainstorming and Appreciative Inquiry that allows the person self efficacy or the knowledge and belief that they can do it...

Lamenting about how bad life is for me without an economic future, I would rather present to you, my readership on the other activities involved in my business.

The Ari | af | ya Universe is the overarching business that supports science and mental health and wellness online.

There are now four divisions:

Sistah Mental Health and Wellness - the Online Mental Health Support and Resource Group

GYM Right - Get Your Mind Right Health and Wellness Coaching by Teleconferencing

Mental Health Angel Investment Group - for professionals in how best to care for diverse populations online

The last one is the most exciting one for me and I have spent quite a bit of my time and talent:

Isle Sanctuary Artistic Division - We tell stories on Social Media. When one commits his or herself to their best self-care, art and creativity can improve one's self-esteem to manage dealing with a mental health issue. We do management online.

Moreover, at the Isle Sanctuary Artistic Division, we can help in pre-production of script scenes by roleplaying the parts out online, then provide metrics to show the efficacy of moving forward to full production and audience generation. The best way to describe what we do when we perform is that it is like a 1940 radio show, but now the radio is Social Media... And it is not just acting and dialogue, it is getting into the milieu of your audience in a character's voice, answering questions, performing the scenes with some level of directed improvisation and supporting one's fan base. Social Media users psychologically relate and connect with people in that manner and telling and performing stories is something they watch on all platforms.

We also use graphic and concept artists, social media developers, web and blog content creators, actors, producers and directors.

Any outsider who wishes to test their script, minimum cost is $5000 for one performance with "EnActors", online social media accounts and blogs, domain name, emails and programming. Please inquire at the site below for your pre-qualification review, today!

Isle Sanctuary Artistic Division

When someone asks what it is that I am doing for myself, these are the tasks I am building through my business.

Edited to add this spot: The father gets another job rejection letter. So in front of his 8 month-old son, he tears the letter and this is what the baby does:

If we can all have the perspective of this baby...

Thank you for reading this blog