Maybe We Are the X-Men of the Real World

xmenGROUP-fullDo you think I’m being a little too farfetched? Hey! A great man once told me, “Perception is reality, until reality changes perception.” So I have a right to think this way until you prove to ME otherwise!

Bipolar disorder is genetic, so how is our story different than the genetic “mutations” triggered by puberty in the famous Marvel comic books and movie series, The X-Men? Those with bipolar disorder often feel the prevalent stigma of being “abnormal,” but historically are well known to be some of the most intelligent and creative minds of their time. (See previous blog “We are Genetically Predisposed to be Creative Geniuses”)

Just as the heroic mutants in X-Men vary in power and acceptance of their “mutations,” so do the people who have bipolar disorder.

RogueRogue:  In the movie, Rogue’s powers wouldn’t allow her to get close to anyone. She never thought how her powers could be advantageous to her. She often would run away and at the end tried to become human again. We who are bipolar are most like Rogue when we let the stigma define us and hold our heads in shame. We also are the ones that do all we can to deny we have anything “wrong” with us and keep our disorder a secret.

Wolverine: In the movies, he was often the lone ranger, who acted out against others and refused help. He was also the most violent. We who are bipolar are most like Wolverine when we use our disorder as an excuse to do what we want and explain our terrible behavior on our mood disorder. Many of us do not seek help when we need it and sometimes become angry or violent.

 Storm and Cyclopes: In the movies, these two used their powers for the greater good of all humankind. They accepted their mutations and work with them by also allowing the limitations of visors or therapy to help them control and limit the strength and level they use their powers. We who are bipolar are most like Storm and Cyclopes when we accept we are bipolar, work with the medical support staff, and live a relativelyStorm and Cyclopes “normal” life because we have a firm grasp on our emotions and know when it is time to get help.

Dr. Jean Grey/The Phoenix:  In the movies, Dr. Jean Grey is portrayed as a very powerful mutant who is under strong hypnosis control by Professor Xavior. She is a strong political activist for the mutant cause and is loved by all who know her. She has telekinetic powers that are underdeveloped in the beginning, but when her powers were unleashed, The Phoenix took control of her. She again became way too powerful and violent, killing all in her way. In my opinion, we who are bipolar are most like Dr. Jean Grey. For those that are bipolar, when we use our creative powers to wow the masses and allow ourselves a peek outside the “box,” we experience a little bit of our powers. However, if we go too far, we unleash our Phoenix inside ourselves who allows us to experience delusions of grandeur and hallucinations…”power” most people never possess. The Phoenix is the scariest but most wonderful experience in your life, so it take a very powerful character to ask for help when we are in that state. Now, don’t do like the movie and kill us like Wolverine did to The Phoenix. Just take us to the hospital, admit us, and have the doctors sedate us to sleep and give us the medicine we need to return to our Dr. Jean Grey status.

Last but not least…

Professor XavierProfessor Xavier: In the movie, he is the most loving and nurturing human on the planet. He takes in the young mutants and teaches them how to live with and use their mutations as means to help humankind, not destroy it. His telepathy allows him to calm even the most violent mutants and his voice allows people to see that mutants are not evil. People are evil not because they are mutants, but because they are imperfect humans. He is the epitome of the perfect activist. For those that are bipolar, these activist who are bipolar and speak out against the stigma are Kay Redfield Jamison (psychology professor and author), Patty Duke (actress and author), and Lana Castle (author).Even Danielle Steele helps support the cause because her son was bipolar. All the men and women, doctors and patients alike, that started the organizations of National Alliance for Mental Illness, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and National Institute of Mental Health to name a small few.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were schools for those with bipolar disorder to go to to help cultivate their creative powers?

Is there anything, any group, or anyone you know that provides support for those with mood disorders, has spoken up against injustice towards those with a mental disorder, or plays a pivotal role as a Stigma Buster in this world?

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Greg House Versus the System

House TV seriesWatching last night’s House two hour season premiere allowed me to see from an outside perspective what it was like to be admitted into the psychiatric hospital. I felt the show depicted a realistic perspective of what hospitalization can be like for the most part.

One aspect I did love about the show is that it did highlight some of the problems with our mental health care system. It showed the clinical therapist trying to help the delusional man by taunting him to move a 500 pound piano and yelling at the delusional man that he couldn’t save the catatonic woman just like he couldn’t save his dead wife. That I thought was too harsh and over the line, but I’ve seen some therapists and psychiatrists do just that. They think smacking someone with reality will help them more. Unfortunately, House takes the extreme opposite view and escapes with the delusional man to a carnival where they both have a great time “flying” in a wind tunnel machine and testing their strengths until the delusional man decides he can still fly and jumps off the ledge of the parking garage in the hospital. (He might have just wanted to commit suicide right then instead of flying…my depiction is slightly unclear.)

Which was better: House fueling his delusions and giving him one of the best days of his life which led to the man getting physically hurt or the therapist forcing him to confront reality?

I firmly believe they were both wrong. The delusional man was still a threat to himself or to others, so shouldn’t have been taken out of the ward, but House did not treat the man entirely in a patronizing way. I know, hard to believe, right?  However, the therapist was cruel, harsh, and patronizing, but he didn’t pretend with him either.

So what is the right way?

Well, thank you for asking me to answer, since I’ve been known to become delusional at times, so I have the inside scoop on how we think in that type of situation.   🙂

Okay, well I need to clarify myself here a little and give you some more background information about me. Many people, including my therapist, believe my intuitive senses about myself are very unusual and extremely accurate. I am able to identify my mood swings and get the help I need before my manic episodes and psychosis go too far faster than even people who are observing me can do the same. This is not “normal.” Most people with bipolar disorder lose control once they reach the manic state. I, on the other hand, can still control or be controlled in certain circumstances even while beginning psychosis.

I’m basically trying to tell you that I might be very beneficial in answering this main question because I have been there and knew what would have helped me when I was in that situation. Remember, the question is the following:

                What is the right way to treat a person who is delusional and manic?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This is just my opinion. I am not claiming to know how to help Schizophrenics because I do not have that diagnosis.

1.)    Be honest and open with them when they ask you a question.

2.)    Do not take a long time to act in getting them the help they need. “Patience is a virtue they know not of.”

3.)    Do not treat them like a criminal. Have an ambulance take them to the hospital.

4.)    Do not threaten them in any way.

5.)    Be kind and courteous, but firm in your resolve. Do not patronize.

6.)    Find out their history by contacting loved ones by checking their phone or personal items for “In Case of Emergency (ICE).” If you are just a friend, that’s great because you are not restricted by law to get the patient to sign a consent form to contact others about their medical history. Call their contacts immediately.  It could be your friend’s life on the line. They will know what medications help them the best or the person’s history of violence or suicide.  

7.)    Do not try to reason with them harshly at that time. Don’t disagree or agree with their delusions. Just try to calm them down by reasoning with their resolve and negotiate with them. If they are willing to compromise with you, then you are lucky.

8.)    Do give them your opinion on the subject. Their mind is working overtime, so you bringing up another point to their inner debate may mean them their life.

9.)    Once in the hospital, trained professionals should be able to take it from there, but I do have to stress the word “should.” I’ve been hospitalized three times now within a ten year span of time and the system is still messed up. Hence, the reason I am writing this blog.

10.) Remember this phrase I am going to preach until I turn blue: “Perception is reality, until reality changes perception.” This phrase means for me that everyone’s collection of perceptions make up their reality, so it is “reality’s” job to change someone’s misguided perceptions not you. It takes medicine, doctors, therapy, relationships, and drive for someone to truly get better (and unfortunately money because of the screwed up healthcare system which still doesn’t look that much better for us even with the plan that is on the table right now).

We are Genetically Predisposed to be Creative Geniuses

Bipolar disorder is genetic. You cannot miraculously obtain this mood disorder if it is not already in our genetic code. You are predisposed genetically, but something still has to trigger it. The trigger is from our environment and the societal pressures we all face. Not everyone that has it in their genetic code will get it either.

Unfortunately, we hate, detest, ignore, or destroy what we do not understand or believe to be “abnormal.” The word “disorder” creates its own negative meaning. We, who are bipolar, are “not” in the “normal” order of mental health. We, no matter how hard we try, still see ourselves in a negative light because we know we are NOT normal. We know we feel way too deeply and too much than “normal” people. We know we think way too much and sometimes it is too slowly or way too fast compared to the “norm.”

However, there are those of us who also think beyond the “normal” range and begin to experience grandiose thoughts and/or see things that are not really there. We, who see hallucinations and/or are delusional, have reached the psychotic, out of touch with reality, realm of severe mania. However, we can with proper treatment and medication return from the other realm. We are NOT hopeless.

Another problem we sometimes face is the ability to become extremely angry and sometimes violent. Most who do, if not all of us, do so because we feel that our person or a loved one is threatened, but how is this different from other people who are not bipolar and get angry or violent? When we are in a manic state or have a mixed episode, we feel more deeply and may come to faster or unrealistic conclusions.

Statistically, are we more violent?  According to the New England Journal of Medicine in their article “Violence and Mental Illness—How Strong Is the Link?” by Dr. Richard A. Friedman, published November 16, 2006; “serious mental illness is quite rare, it actually contributes very little to the overall rate of violence in the general population; the attributed risk has been estimated to be 3 to 5%—much lower than that associated with substance abuse, for example.” See?

We, that do become violent, usually are not getting the proper medical treatment we need or are noncompliant, not wanting to follow doctor’s orders, with our treatment plan.  

Even with all the research suggesting differently and having all this knowledge in their reachable grasps, people still prefer to ridicule, shun, murmur, show distaste, and/or pass over us who are knowingly bipolar. You know those types: those that tell you that it’s all in your head and that “you can get rid of it if you tried without any medication at all,” those that only see you as “crazy” and stay away from you, and those that throw away your resume or find a way to lay you off because you are too much a liability even if you are the perfect candidate for the job.

Do these people even try to look to see what you are capable of? Do they even know that we, those with bipolar or mood disorders, are the best thing that has happened to this country and the world? For as long as we can remember, we have marveled at the political charisma and advocacy of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, the artistic visualization of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, the written wonders of William Faulkner and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the musical delights of Ludwig van Beethoven, all of whom have bipolar disorder. Wow!

Don’t forget the women too: Mary Wollstonecraft (Mary W. Shelley’s mother and political activist in her time), Georgia O’Keeffe (artist), Virginia Woolf and Mary Shelley (writer), Sylvia Plath (poet), Vivien Leigh (actress in Gone with the Wind).  Even today, well known creative geniuses have openly declared they too have that special flair: Sting (musician), “Buzz” Aldrin (astronaut), Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola (directors), Carrie Fisher and Patty Duke (actresses), Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller (actors), DMX (rapper & actor).  However, what about the young Midwestern girl who was just diagnosed as bipolar? Is she another creative genius that will be overlooked or traumatized because she doesn’t have the means to be close to the artistic community? Should she be ignored?

If only we who are bipolar were given the encouragement and support we need to take our creative aspirations to the next level; we might be able to take the “box” we all live in and work with daily, study it, and then truly find the outside of the box that will solve many of our problems today. Teachers and bosses always say “think outside the box.” Well, why won’t you let us try and give us the power to flurish?

Speaking of boxes…shouldn’t teachers and bosses define the box first before expecting us to step outside the box?

 So, my homework assignment for you is to describe “the box” and write your description in the comment box. Also, if you would rather critique this blog, go ahead.

“Don’t Make Me Go Bipolar on Your Ass!”

Mental Health BellHow many people do you know that are bipolar? Are they a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or your child? No? None of the above?

Well, maybe you just don’t know them as well as you thought. Maybe you had a great aunt known to be “crazier than a loon” or an uncle who drank entirely too much and committed suicide. Maybe even your own father who always had an unpredictable mood, so you and your siblings would hide when he returned home from work to see what type of mood he was in.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 2.6%, or at least 2 out of every 100 adults in the United States, 5.7 million people, have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  Recently, they have discovered that children and adolescents are also showing symptoms of bipolar disorder, so their percentage is underdeveloped at the moment because they are just starting to be diagnosed, most misdiagnosed as ADHD.

If there are so many of us out there in the United States, how come I don’t know many? Where are all the celebrities and politicians that are diagnosed or show the symptoms OR have loved ones that have been diagnosed?

In this politically correct and socially accepting society, we still do not hear much about us. If I hadn’t made it a point to stop feeling ashamed of being bipolar recently, I would have never opened my eyes to this major problem that is growing potentially worse if certain key questions and problems are ignored.

One of the best lines ever written was “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”—The Usual Suspects.

So do we exist? Are we just as human as you? Then why is there this ever present, vibrating STIGMA hitting us like a hammer every time we try to find a job, look through our medical bills, converse with strangers, go to school or work, or walk the streets trying to find some sort of shelter to protect us from the approaching storm?

Do you think we should remain a secret, a dirty lie? Should we be afraid to let people know who we are or get help for what we think might be the most shameful aspect of our life?

Historically, we have been persecuted, burned at the stake, holes drilled in our heads, put on display to be laughed at, thrown into asylums where we are drugged to the point of nothingness.

 But today, everything is fine, right? It all has changed. We are treated as equals in society. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Had a Dream” did not stop with African Americans. We also heard “freedom ring.” Right?

So why are we letting our existence and condition remain a dirty little secret? Why are we living in shame? Yes, you are living in shame if you do absolutely nothing  to improve your way of life if you’re not doing something already. Do you have a goal?

No? Then you too are part of the problem because you fuel the negative opinion about us. So, when you discover what your goal and/or purpose in life is, do all you can to achieve it. If someone tells you that you can’t, tell them “yes, I can.”

If they continue to tell you “no,” just jokingly say “Don’t make me go bipolar on your ass!” That will leave them confused, so you can just walk away and smile. Oh, don’t forget to ignore them and prove them wrong.

Your homework assignment:      So, how bad do we, those that are bipolar, have it in this world? Answer in the comment box or just write your comment about this blog in general.