Dear Sleep: You Suck. Love Alice. (Happiness And Other Stuff, You’re Still Cool)

Are you coffee or vodka? Maybe you’re both. Happiness, hormones and sleep. 

Swallowing my sleep chemical cocktail, wishing it was wine. The booze was better than this tablet induced hangover. My elusive sleep plagued by parasomnia.

1 tablet
Nothing.

2 tablets
Nothing.

3 tablets
Nothing.

4 tablets
Sleep.

On the bright-side I’ve taken a proactive approach towards a healthier lifestyle…minus the drugs, but other than that I’ve been exercising and eating right. Fighting the bulge of medication, 1kg at a time. Life is better, the positives out weighing any negatives. I know I complain a lot about medication, but truth be told I’m too scared to go off them, afraid that it might ruin my nice new balance I have going. I’m vain enough that I care about my weight, my BMI normal, but that is never enough, I’m a perfectionist, I want my mind and body to reflect my current happiness. Sometimes it’s a hopeless intangible pursuit, other times anything can be possible. I’m writing less, no longer driven by the need to put my emotional turmoil of feelings into words, no longer motivated by depression. Depression makes good writing. Whinging is unbecoming, but it is also the recognition of dissatisfaction. Maybe I am just on the upwards spin of the bipolar spectrum, but all the same: I just don’t care; life can be good without it having to be on any emotional spectrum.

In the context of Bipolar Disorder there are high comorbidities associated between perfectionism/ anxiety and their relationship with bipolarity. Bipolar Disorder has a high co-occurrence with eating disorders, eating disorders often linked with a need for perfection. I’m not sure if people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder have a higher likelihood of being perfectionists (would love to hear people’s personal experiences), the perfectionism of Bipolar Disorder is often motivated through anxiety, anxiety causing the person to see the inadequacies of their life. More often than not, binge eating is common among people with Bipolar Disorder, I will admit I have binge eaten, often in the search for a quick endorphin fix which will starve off negative emotions for a short time. The quick “fix” of endorphins can be seen through, sex, drugs and over eating/exercising, becoming a quest for endorphins. We try to manufacture our own happiness, these addictions often a response to depressive emotions. Through endorphins we experience contentment and euphoria. Realising that you can’t be a seeker for the bigger endorphin rushes, endorphins should become a more natural balance to encourage long term contentment.

endorphin_by_lepusplus-d80chg6Apparently people who are deficient in endorphins should eat protein with each meal, but I’m not sure how scientific that belief is. However, dopamine is released by foods with high protein, dopamine being a positive mood enhancing hormone. Looking at the more natural ways to deal with anxiety/depression – sunlight (serotonin),  exercise (endorphins), protein (dopamine), Phenylethamine (chocolate) and Ghrelin (for relief of stress – released when we are hungry, although this needs to be balanced by normal food intake, over-eating doesn’t maintain good levels). All these hormones can only be long term effective if you fix the root cause of your unhappiness, over doing it with any one hormone will not be beneficial in the long run. Moderating and persistence is key.

This was meant to be a post that focused more on sleep, as usual I get side tracked, and I also intended the post to be short…whoops.

Image by ElusiveDreams07 titled ‘Sleep Paralysis’

Image by Lepusplus titled ‘Endorpin’

Go Away Anxiety, You Have No Friends.

Having an anxiety attack is no walk in the park, it’s really quite disturbing, you believe that something is physically wrong with your body. I begin by having non-stop over-analytical thoughts followed by light headiness, limp arms and heartburn/palpitations that can last hours (I never get heartburn unless I’m experiencing anxiety), to say the least it isn’t a cup of tea. In my own way I triggered my anxiety by having distrust in another, I couldn’t stop myself. Anxiety can be like a dictating sovereign, ruling your moves and planting seeds of doubt in your foundations. I start to see every opposing and unbalancing situation in my life as a battle, a battle that has to be won, sacrificing your casualties and making the most of the fighting force that you have left. Why does everything have to be war though, bleak, desolate and crippling.

The aftermath of a war sometimes having more devastating consequences than the actual battle. We learn from war, we learn what we can do better next time, we learn what worked and what didn’t and how to best remain afloat. To be brutally honest during this war on anxiety I was a bitch, leaving causalities strewn in my wake. Today I realized what I had done, the thick curtain of anxiety lifting, the storm had past, now I need to workout what I do and don’t have to apologize for. I’ve been trying to get off my medication, but I’ve failed and the embedded reliance and unsubstantiated belief in the worth of psychiatry and psycho-pharmacology has won out.

anxiety-girl-funny-quotes

“We Were Born Sick, You Heard Them Say It”.

Looking at the cultural sociology of mental illness.  

Mental illness can be interpreted as the most solitary of afflictions to the people who experience it, but it’s the most social to those who experience its effects. It becomes difficult to draw and define specific boundaries around mental illness and distinguish it from eccentricity or mere idiosyncrasy. It’s nearly impossible to clearly differentiate  an obvious line of difference between madness and malingering, mental disturbance and religious inspiration. Erving Goffman sought to dismiss mental illness as a purely socially constructed category, limited as a mere matter of labels. By exploring the quintessentially individual act of suicide an expansion from Gothman’s mere labels can be  expounded upon. Suicide is directly linked with mental illness, by examining this relationship the most florid manifestations of mental disturbance can be observed.

Mental illness has been interpreted as a product of sociological factors, an ‘anomie’ or the failure of sociological order to adequately regulate the beliefs and behaviors of its members. It has often been questioned whether people should take the Thomas Scheff approach, whereby the medical model of mental illness is dismissed and replaced with the societal reaction model, wherein patients were the victims of psychiatry. Advances within the cultural sociology of mental illness encompasses the progressive abandonment of the prior commitment to the segregative responses to serious mental illness and the run-down of the state hospital sector, the collapse of psychoanalysis – replaced by biological basis, the psychopharmacological revolution, the so-called neo-kraepelinian revolution, and the rise of the DSM to the position of overwhelming importance  – worldwide.

Sociology demotes psychiatry to a belief in vague predispositions to nervousness or madness, with no proven bodily cause, promoting their lack of clear-cut laws pertaining to their biological research, dealing with symptoms, not signs.  Diagnosing a person’s mental illness becomes based on the judgments generated through their communications, their treatments based off their diagnosis lacking widespread specificity. Psychiatry relying on psychoanalysis also called depth or psychodynamic psychology, proposes that the mind is divided in conscious and unconscious parts and that the dynamic relationship between these gives rise to psychopathology (the study of the manifestation of behaviors and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment).

pill-person

Psychoanalysis becoming paradoxical because it’s concerned with the notion that we are all ill – psychopathology is ubiquitous, varying between individuals only in degree and type. These norms discerned within psychoanalysis mediated by the intrapsychic mechanisms. Norms within society imply that an ideal notion of mental illness exists, although it would be limited by its susceptibility to be meaningful to those only in a culture who subscribe to their theoretical premises, emphasizing its lack of unity and ineffectual distribution on a wider scale. Cultural notions of mental illness also initially linked  early biological psychiatry immediately with the mad, the bad and the dim. Sociology further attacks the definitions given to mental illness, arguing that the inter-dependent constituents are not defined or explained in relation to their classification of impairment, disturbance, disability, disorder etc.

We were born sick, you heard them say it”. To reiterate the heading and these fantastic lyrics – I think that they reinforce the schema that is associated with mental illness and to an extant the relationship/pattern between cultural/environmental influences on the etiology of mental illness.

Lately I’ve been living in the daydream just behind reality’s veiled curtain. The unsuspecting whore of mental illness, my ability to be both a victim and a rational opportunist. The victim to the triggers that my mind shudders against, the twisted opportunist that seeks the deep dark insights pertaining to the inner turmoil and joy. It’s a pretty twisted sick cycle, but its ok at the moment. It’s more of an ongoing ‘normal in training’ session. I keep wondering if my psychiatrist will ever give me a ‘gold star’ or tick of approval or whether we are all merely the embodiment of an epic psychoanalysis that perceives all as ill. Relying on my psychiatrist as my state-licensed drug dealer who specializes in ‘mood-altering’ drugs, hoping to create a balance which has to be practiced every day. Do we take the early sociological stance that no one is mentally ill or abide by the strict categorizations of mental illness that are created and regulated by so few. Life is to constantly challenge all that confounds you, rejecting the notions of those who remain unsubstantiated and to remain skeptical of those wishing you to blindly follow their ideologies.

Lemonade Is Hard.

When life gives too many lemons, say “fuck off lemons, I ordered pie.”

It’s becoming way too hard to make lemonade. Life keeps throwing lemons your way but you can’t be bothered to make stupid lemonade. When you simply lack the strength and motivation to go through the motions.

When lemonade is simply too hard to make, you know that depression has definitely set in. It usually means you aren’t leaving bed or even buying groceries.

STAY POSITIVE 🙂 buy a juicer.

 

My New Meditation Crutch, The Surprise Attack Of Psycho Girlfriend Syndrome.

Yesterday I was told that I need to treat myself like a car that can only take the best premium petrol, other cars can run smoothly on any fuel, yet if I don’t take particular care with what I put into my ‘car’ it won’t be running smoothly anymore. My psychologist used that metaphor, she is right, after all the festivities from Christmas, New Year, Australia Day and successive family birthdays, my body has been given foods that haven’t made me feel good. Alcohol and less time for stress relieving exercise have also played a role in my current emotional levels, the alcohol was in moderation and the exercising was down to 2days a week instead of my 4-5days. I guess it still mattered. My body and mind is tired, filled with lethargy and a bloated feeling of disgust. I forgot that my psychologist can actually have good insights sometimes. I didn’t realise that things that didn’t matter before like overindulgence and laziness actually had larger implications for my ability to maintain emotional stability.

Emotional stability is the hardest thing to maintain in my life at the moment, it’s a never ending battle; the slightest change in the breeze can change the emotional tide. I’ve been dating this guy for a few months now; I had actually forgotten what it meant to be in a relationship. It’s hard, it’s harder still to try and play it cool, failing to hide the constant anxiety over the things that he has reassured me about numerous times before. Avoiding the easy clingy nature that can develop, I don’t text often in general and I only make plans to see him a few times a week. I still feel like I’ve gone a tad ca-razy though, insecurities and tears coming all too easily. I’ve been meditating like crazy, trying to relax, searching for a mental balance. The meditating keeps me relaxed for a few hours, but after those hours its back to the same battle to reach a rational mentality – when he hasn’t spoken to you in six hours, realising that this doesn’t mean that he isn’t interested in you anymore – he works 15hr days – it’s hard to regain a rational front seat again, but it does eventually kick in.

My life has been filled with an incredible series of emotional and mental extremes, with beautiful thunderstorms and stunning sunrises. Meditating is all well and good, but it can’t be the crutch to get you through each day. I need to change the way I see things not just relieve my anxiety. Controlling my emotional triggers should be my main goal; everything else would eventually fall in line after that. I’m still constantly surprised that being in a relationship can change you into a sensitive over-reactive emotional mess. Cheers Bipolar, thanks for making life more difficult, again.

On a plus side – I baked brownies today, exercised and meditated twice today (argh what a lame crutch). Happy Monday all.

psycHOTic is a thing right?….

Best meditation apps I use:
– Stop, Breathe & Think (best one)
– Guided Meditation
– Citadel

I also like relaxing to Buddha radio on my phone.

Nobody Likes You When You’re 23.

It’s looming, coming closer, I can feel the air becoming stagnant and distasteful. I have an overwhelming feeling of unbalance filling my mind, every year it’s the same, on Thursday I will be ‘celebrating’ my birthday…*cue horror screams* Lately I haven’t felt like writing, or doing anything for that matter. Each year it feels like my life has been put up on the high stakes table where it is scrutinised under industrial lights, the winner of the game will take all. Every year I try and fill the day with activities that will divert the always impending dread. The build up to the day acts as a depressive trigger, filling my thoughts with distorted discontentment. The morning after my birthday it’s as if none of it mattered, my emotions are still a little bit dulled and muted, but I would’ve weathered the emotional storm. With each birthday people have to confront the fact that they may not have achieved all they had hoped they would in that year.

That they may not be where they would be like to, the discontentment running deep. I guess at a younger age I always had a vision of where I would be now; birthdays are always filled with both crashing disappointment and anticipatory spikes of happiness. I’m trying to make myself stop and regain sight of things, appreciating the people and things around me instead of the things that are nowhere to be seen. It’s as if a birthday malaise exists, perpetually creeping in each year, slowly whispering in your ear as the day draws nearer and the time to complete your expectations is drawing to a close. I’m not one to let my birthday pass by unnoticed, but I’m highly susceptible to disappointment.

I’ve planned small things this year, not wanting to be uncomfortable in group settings, finding comfort in close friends and family. It’s so hard to let go of being depressed about my birthday so that I can actually enjoy it, trying to release the past disappointment to embrace the present, focusing on progress and not the perfections of one’s life. I need to fix my current mental happiness block that I’ve hit head-on. My happiness has become a single defensive tower that is being attacked repetitively by soldier triggers. I’m starving off depression, the stalemate not helping either side gain the higher ground. The overshadowing queen of darkness keeps on approaching, her army gaining size whilst offering the comforting pit of morbidity as parlay.  She plays her game well. Writing this makes me realize how silly and trivial it is to monopolize a day to such great lengths that you allow it to be a tyrant to your emotions.

On Thursday I will be 23, I will try and not let depression encroach, I will try and remember all the wonderful things I have in my life and not the things I don’t, I will try and not let it dominate who I am. After all it is only a day. Thank you Blink182 lyrics: “Nobody likes you when you’re 23

Dr. Maas acknowledges the “chicken-egg” problem inherent in bipolar and other mood disorders: “Depression can cause extensive insomnia, and insomnia can cause depression—which comes first depends on the individual and the circumstance”. birthday_cat_sad

Playing Devil’s Advocate With Key Religious Figures And Mental Illness Correlations.

Disclaimer: Not my own thoughts, the research is from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry – The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered. This blog entry is me playing devil’s advocate to provoke debate; I’m not in any way trying to undermine a person’s religious beliefs, simply trying to encourage discourse underlying subconscious preconceptions of mental illness within religion.  


Thoughts to be considered before reading:
-Why would it be so bad if the inspirational figures in religious history experienced mental illness?
-Why do we subconsciously reject the thought that God wouldn’t work through people who have mental illnesses?
-Does being mentally ill make you exempt from God’s work and unable to meaningfully participate in worship when one in four people have been statistically proven to suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives.

The awkward moment when it becomes plausible that Jesus suffered from Schizophrenia (Just to clarify: this wouldn’t in anyway take away from his religious position, history and achievements).

A study was conducted by psychiatrists when they were presented with a concept by a paranoid schizophrenic patient, who claimed that he could read minds and was selected by God to provide guidance for mankind. The patient refused to take the medication because they stopped the voices, presenting his doctors with the question: “How do you know the voices aren’t real…How do you know I am not The Messiah…God and angels talked to people in the Bible”. The patient raised interesting questions, how does one distinguish between people with mental health disorders and those of religious figures in history?

One of the examples the doctors used in their journal article was Jesus, by examining passages within the bible they located specific areas that presented symptoms of mental illness:
Paranoid-type (PS subtype) thought content: Matthew 10:34–39, 16: 21–23, 24:4–27; Mark 13:5–6; Luke 10:19; John 3:18; John 14:6–11

Auditory and visual hallucinations: Matthew 3:16–17, 4:3–11; Luke 10:18; John 6:46, 8:26, 8:38–40, 12:28–29

Referential thought processes: Mark 4:38–40 (Figure 3); Luke 18:31

Within the New Testament Jesus exhibits behaviours that closely resemble the DSM-IV-TR– Auditory hallucinations, Visual Hallucinations, delusions, referential thinking, paranoid-type, (PS subtype) thought content, and hyper-religiosity. Through the text Jesus also displays signs of disorganization, negative psychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, or debilitating mood disorder symptoms. The article poses the question about whether starvation and metabolic derangements caused some of the behaviours as Jesus experienced hallucinatory-like visions whilst he fasted for 40days in the desert (Luke 4:1–13).

Jesus’ experiences appear to have occurred over the course of at least the year before his death. There is a notable lack of physical maladies which suggest psychiatric aetiologies as more plausible. There is a 5%–10% lifetime risk of suicide in persons with schizophrenia.  Suicide is defined as a self-inflicted death that has intention to end one’s life. The New Testament recounts that Jesus was aware that people intended to kill him.  Jesus took the steps to ensure that his followers were aware that his death was necessary for his return (Matthew 16:21–28; Mark 8:31; John 16:16–28). These passages appear to present Jesus to deliberately place himself in a situation wherein he anticipated his execution. Schizophrenia is often associated with increased risk of suicide.

There is a term called ‘suicide-by-proxy’, any incident whereby a suicidal individual causes their own death to be carried out by another person.  Jesus’ behaviour before his death has parallels with someone who premeditates a form of suicide-by-proxy. In the passage Mark 3: 21: Jesus was on occasion viewed as mad or “beside himself.” People from Jesus’ hometown and the religious authorities of the day also did not accept his message. Subsets of individuals who have psychotic symptoms appear to be able to form intense social bonds and communities, despite having distorted views of reality. The study analysed the religious figures from a behavioural, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective. The research indicates that the experiences of the individuals coincide with psychotic symptoms, suggesting that manifestations of their experiences had a primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorder basis.

The_God_Delusion_by_BlackMagic26

A main goal of this research was to evaluate the influence of individuals with mental illness and their effects on shaping the Western civilization, hoping that the findings will help to increase compassion and understanding in relation to mental illness. Within the research it should be noted that they did use explicit passages from the bible, but each passage should be examined in its own context. It is generally acknowledged that biblical scholars are not unanimous about the literality of the scriptures nor are psychiatrists completely unanimous about the DSM (basically the bible of psychiatry). The research conducted a form of psychological profiling by people that aren’t saddled with the preconceived notions and biases that encumber those that have studied their field in depth, allowing a fresh take on ideas that have been overanalysed by people in the same area of study.

Only by joining multiple areas of study can any true concept of history be interpreted, attempting to remove the elitist theories that dominate popular thought. It needs to also be acknowledged that historians aren’t the sole area of study that can interpret history, other fields of study have valuable insights that historians can lack.  The article didn’t stipulate and designate that religion was the cause for psychological symptoms, neither did it go into the scientific explanation, but it still needs to be acknowledged that religion does play a dominating role for some psychoses, especially with delusions. Does the motivating factor of religion in mental illness make it a definable feature??

I’m increasingly intrigued by the article when it encourages speculation on our inability to disprove that a person who is schizophrenic is a mouthpiece of God or is suffering from psychoses. The opposing opinions from both sides need to be taken into consideration; biases from long term studies ultimately detract from the viability of the research. The study showed the correlations that religious historical figures had with the current DSM, they acknowledged their limitations, like either psychological or biblical should do, my main question is this: why would it be wrong if they had suffered from a mental illness, it doesn’t detract from their accomplishments or their religious foundations, each person’s beliefs will always be grounded, who’s to say that God didn’t use psychoses to achieve his end.

I didn’t want to post this all week, didn’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers. I came across this article, it really interested me, I understand its controversial, I am in no way promoting and detracting from either side and hope my post won’t be interpreted as such. Thank you.

Author and Article Information

From the Dept. of Neurology, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA (EDM, BHP); Dept. of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA (MGC); Dept. of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA (EDM, BHP).

Murray, E., Cunningham, M. and Price, B. (2012). The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered. JNP, 24(4), pp.410-426.

Finding normality within Bipolarity. The inner musings of a chemically challenged manic-depressive. Mildly* asocial and a purveyor of awesome.