BipolarLife101

Recently I was contacted by the person who runs BipolarLife101, with a fantastic opportunity to have some of my articles published on their website with the aim to increase the awareness and knowledge of mental health.

BipolarLife101 is a website that can be used to help those who suffer from a mental illness connect and learn about their illness, in a place where they can receive support from others who are suffering from the same or a similar illness. Not only is it a great place for those who are mentally ill, but also for those who are not mentally ill who wish to educate themselves about mental health; which is particularly useful for the friends and family members of those who do suffer from a mental illness. However, my favourite thing about this website/project is that it is run and contributed to by those who are mentally ill, who have the experience and insight which is needed to relate to and understand other individuals with a mental illness.

This was clearly too good of an opportunity to pass, therefore as time goes on, some of my articles will also be available to read there. If you wish to read the first article of mine which has been published on the BipolarLife101 website, please click here.

bp101

Once again I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation for such a great opportunity, and I look forward to an interesting future working with them.

Schizoaffective Disorder: Uncensored

As my aim is to provide an uncensored view into the real life thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the individuals who suffer from schizoaffective disorder; as well as those who suffer from other mental illnesses. I do this at all costs, I am allowing you the opportunity to witness the most personal thoughts, emotions, and experiences of my life. Therefore I am going to share a significantly personal piece which was written during the early hours of the morning of Saturday 22nd October.

The inspiration for this piece came from seemingly no where, yet it was written with such passion, from the depths of both my thoughts and feelings. I felt that I finally needed to write down what it is that I truly feel, rather than continuing to slumber in a pit of denial. I can no longer hide from something that has been staring me right in the eyes my entire life. This is what it is like to be me, know that.

The following is an excerpt from my personal journal where this piece was originally written:

In all honesty, I am not doing well, and I have not been doing well for too long now. Everything seems distance, as if it’s just out of reach, I can no longer connect with the world and its people. Every day is the same, I wake up, eat breakfast, exercise, write, smoke myself to sleep; repeat. I haven’t been alive for a very long time, my mind aches for peace, silence. I have grown too tired, my efforts are failing, and the cycle continues.

The pain which reside in me has grown unbearable, yet I cannot escape myself.

The truth is, my life is based entirely on the so called delusions which chose to poison my mind. The reality in which I live is obscured to the lengths that I am sure we live in entirely different worlds; I am lost within mine.

Words are beginning to fall short, there are no words which can describe the utter horror that is my life. A lifetime of torture and what for? I am the cause of my own

undoing, I am the result of my madness.

I am losing my mind, stepping further into the darkness with every second that passes; there never was an option to turn around.”

– 01:26 22/10/2016

I am not giving up, the support from you guys and the people on Twitter are what gives me the strength to continue, I can never be thankful enough for that.

Discipline

I have been investigating the difference between discipline and motivation by applying it to my life recently, and this has lead me to find some interesting things. I cannot remember where I first read about this concept, however, it has been stuck in my head ever since.

The concept is that while motivation is fluctuating and unreliable, discipline isn’t. Motivation will come and go as it pleases, whereas discipline can be used at any given time. Therefore, when you begin to struggle with doing things as your motivation has run dry, you use discipline to do these things regardless; as they need to be done whether you choose to do them, or not.

The Problem

As a person who suffers from mental illness, I am aware that it is not as simple as forcing yourself to do things. Although I have found that discipline certainly does work, it does not mean that you should continuously push yourself past your limits, as this will not end well.

It is necessary to find out what it is that you are capable of in your current state and use discipline to achieve this, without pushing yourself too hard resulting in more damage than progress being caused.

With discipline, it is extremely important to apply regular forms of self care, including giving yourself a break. You do need to be cautious and self aware when applying this concept to your life, as well as looking out for signs that could indicate that you are pushing yourself too hard. Forcing yourself to complete tasks may make things non-enjoyable, therefore I recommend applying this concept to the things that you like and/or want to do; whilst finding a medium where you can complete tasks which are necessary, but may be found to be unpleasant; such as the upkeep of your hygiene and the cleanliness of your surroundings.

There is also a big issue I have with this concept when it comes to the stigmatisation of mental illness. We are told far too often that we are lazy, and that we just need to do all the things that our mental illness prevents us from doing, and we’re cured. As anyone who suffers from a mental illness will know, this is blatantly ridiculous. There will be days, possibly weeks or months, where simply getting out of bed is all you can do, and that is perfectly okay. That does not show a lack of discipline, or lazy behaviour. You are ill, and there are times when your illness will take over; and this concept can no longer be applied. However, you can begin to apply it to your life again when you are well, there is no rush; your health is far more important than the things you do.

 

As previously stated, and with significant caution, I have been applying this concept to my life over the past few weeks or so. Although it certainly has been a struggle, I have found that it does work and that it has prevented me from giving up, and allowing my illness to take over, which is what typically happens when I begin to feel this way. After months of continuous hard work, I am seemingly beginning to get somewhere with my writing, and that is a truly amazing feeling. I am preparing for a work-filled year, where I can hopefully continue to make progress with both my mental health and my writing.

I am giving my life purpose once again.

Stigma: Halloween

With Halloween approaching quickly, I feel that it is necessary to write this article. As expected, each and every year mental illnesses and the tragedies they can cause are used as both Halloween costumes and decoration. Not only is this deemed acceptable, but is also defended by the companies who produce and sell these products, as well as those who use them.

Firstly, what is the purpose of Halloween? Oh yes, that’s it, to be celebrated by children (or people of all ages) by dressing up in frightening masks and costumes. Where did Halloween come from? It came from ancient Celtic roots, and is known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’). It is believed that during Samhain the division between the living world and the other world is at its thinnest, allowing the spirits of the dead to come through.

Where does anything to do with mental illness come into Halloween? What part of the literal definition of both the modern day celebration of Halloween, and the original celebration of Samhain mentions mental illnesses being a part of Halloween? Oh wait, it doesn’t.

This type of behaviour promotes stigma to an excessive extent, including promoting the idea that we who suffer from mental illnesses are ‘violent, ‘crazy’, ‘psychos’. It is the typical stigma from the media that portrays the idea that serial killers, mass murderers, and any criminals are mentally ill; which is far from the truth. It demonises those who suffer from mental illnesses entirely. Simply put, it is offensive stereotyping.

However, that is not the only issue which can come from this type of behaviour. It desensitizes people to mental illness, self harm, and suicide; whilst making it seem as if it’s not a big deal at all. If you were to read the article Suicide: A Reflection on Society you will see that it is one of the biggest and potentially hazardous things that is occurring within the human race, it truly is an epidemic. By engaging in this sort of behaviour, you are putting lives at risk.

Not only does the issue lie with all of the above, but also with the friends and families of those who suffer from a mental illness or who have either committed or attempted suicide. No parent, sibling, friend, or relation of a mentally ill individual should have to witness others using such tragedies, horrific events, and debilitating illnesses as costumes and decoration to ‘celebrate’ and ‘have fun’ during Halloween; nor should the individuals who suffer from a mental illness.

Halloween is a frightening and distressing time for some of those who suffer from a mental illness and their relatives anyway, as there are many things which could trigger an individual to have an episode; without your costumes and decorations which mock them. For example, hanging fake bodies or tying nooses around trees clearly symbolises suicide, which can be a huge trigger to certain mentally ill individuals and their families; there is no point in doing this, you are merely causing distress for others.

The family members, friends, and relations of mentally ill individuals, as well as mentally ill individuals, who’s door you may accidentally knock on during Halloween whilst you’re wearing a costume which mocks them or their loved ones would be completely outrageous, and could end in a tragedy on either end of the parties involved.

There is not one single thing that is fun, comical, or enjoyable about mental illnesses. Our lives are already difficult enough, without the addition of all of this.

There are endless reasons that I could give for this type of behaviour being both wrong and disgusting, as well as being completely idiotic and disrespectful. Anyone I see whom is participating in this behaviour will certainly not be getting away with it, nor should they. Do not encourage or allow people you know to behave like this, and for the people who do, just know that I hate you.

Mashed Up Thoughts

Recently, my brain has felt as if I have put it in a blender and mashed it all up, and now that it’s strewn across the walls, I can no longer think.

My mind is incredibly disorganised, my speech, behaviour, emotions and thoughts are all over the place. I cannot initiate or maintain any form of conversation due to the fact that I cannot articulate or convey my thoughts or emotions, about anything.

Although I am managing to keep up with my current article schedule, I have found that I have become far slower with my writing. Although it is no surprise as if my mind is all over the place, it is far more difficult to put a sentence together, whether that be through vocal communication or in writing. My thoughts have left me absolutely perplexed, I feel as if I have no thoughts or that there is too many thoughts; constantly having to process all of this is incredibly toilsome.

Not only have my thoughts been disorganised, but they are also becoming increasingly abnormal and weird. I am thinking about things which I would not typically think about, however I cannot seem to get them to leave my mind, nor do I entirely want to. I am unsure as to why I feel this way, but sometimes, abnormal thoughts can be rather comforting. Many odd theories and ideas have come to me, but I know better than to act on them simply because my mind wants me to do so; that could end rather terribly.

On top of all of this, I also seem to be stuck in what I refer to as zombie mode. I call it this as each and every day that I seem to physically wake, I do not wake mentally. It’s as if my brain is stuck in limbo, continuously wandering across the vast void that is my mind.

I have absolutely no idea of what is going on any more, everything is a mess; my mind, my entire being. I ache for some peace.

Prodromal Schizophrenia: Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of schizophrenia typically develop around the age of adolescence, and young adulthood for men. Whereas they tend to develop during a woman’s late 20’s or 30’s, however, this is not always the case. Symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually. There are three phases of schizophrenia, the prodromal phase, active phase, and residual phase. Depending on where you live, you might be told that there a four stages to schizophrenia including the previous three, as well as the relapse phase.

Prodromal schizophrenia is typically the first phase of oncoming schizophrenia. The symptoms of the prodromal phase are often vague and easy to miss, they tend to mimic other disorders making it difficult to be noticed; particularly in teenagers, as the symptoms may not seem unusual for someone of that age, hence why schizophrenia often goes undiagnosed at this point. This phase can last for weeks or months, and at times, even up to several years. The symptoms of the prodromal phase are typically triggered by stress and stressful events, such as upcoming exams, the death of a family member or friend, bullying, and numerous other causes of stress. Comorbid disorders can be rather common during this period.

Individuals who are experiencing the prodromal phase of schizophrenia are often adolescents or young adults who are experiencing mild to moderate disturbances in perception, cognition, stress tolerance, energy levels, language, and motor function. The symptoms which develop during the prodromal phase tend to develop gradually, an individual may start to lose interest in their hobbies and usual pursuits, they may withdraw from friends and family, resulting in isolation. Individuals within the prodromal phase may find that they are easily confused, have difficult concentrating, are intensely preoccupied with religion, philosophy, the paranormal, and conspiracies.

The prodrome / prodromal phase of schizophrenia is not a full psychotic break, rather a display of abnormal behaviour similar to, but not as severe as that which is seen in psychotic patients.

Please do not use this as a diagnostic tool, the symptoms which have been previously mentioned are typical of the prodromal phase, however, these symptoms can be due to other causes or mental illnesses. Therefore if you have any concerns or display any of the previously mentioned symptoms, please speak to your doctor or psychiatrist.

A Schizoaffective Story Time: Being Followed

This incident is something that I have never given thought to until this year, it had simply remained a memory stuck deep within my mind. At this time I wasn’t aware that I was ill, therefore I did not see it as an indication to anything being wrong; however, in hindsight I can now see and understand why this happened.

I was 15 years old at the time, which was over three years ago now. Throughout the entirety of this experience, and the months that followed, this was all very real to me. There was never a point in which I believed that my mind could just be making this up, and that it wasn’t really happening.

By the time I was 15 years old, I had been smoking tobacco for over a year. Of course, my parents had no idea that I had taken up smoking, and they wouldn’t for another year; and this is where everything began. As summer approached, I began to believe that my mum had told her friends to watch and follow me in order to catch me smoking. This wasn’t any small belief, it completely consumed my life for the next couple of months.

Whenever I was out in the town which we lived with my friends, I could see my mums friends everywhere. They were everywhere I went, they followed me no matter how far away I attempted to go. At one point, I saw one of her friends hiding in a bush, they walked out of the bush to make themselves noticeable and then stepped back into the bush and disappeared. Then I began seeing them hiding in alley ways or buildings, wherever I was passing, they would be there. Inevitably, this grew incredibly frustrating, and that is when I finally decided to confront my mother about all of this.

By confront, I mean angrily ask why she has bothered to go to such lengths to find out whether I smoke or not, and for her to tell her friends to stop doing all of this. She rightfully denied playing any part in the non-existent conspiracy to see whether I smoke or not, yet I still didn’t want to take a no for an answer. Whilst this experience continued, I held this against my mother strongly, and continually asked her to make it stop. By now she simply found it hilarious that I truly believed all of this, neither of us knew that I was ill at this point.

My mother and I can both laugh about this now, as I also do find it hilarious in hindsight; but this was a very real experience to me at the time, and there was no convincing me otherwise. It is quite terrifying to know how easily delusions and paranoia can take over your life.

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Holding On

At the beginning of this year, I was coming out of a long and severe depressed and psychotic episode. By the time May came, I was within the midsts of mania. During the transition between these two periods I had decided that I was going to push myself this year, and that I was going to make myself better. When I’m manic it’s very easy for me to firmly believe that I am somehow better and no longer mentally ill, which obviously isn’t the case.

However, this year I actually have pushed myself to try and get better, as well as further myself in life through introspection and my writing. Even though I have been increasingly ill over the past couple of months, I have tried to keep up with what I am doing and it is working out. I should be very happy right now, a few amazing things have happened recently; externally, everything is great. However, what’s not going well is me.

I have been holding on for so long now, yet I don’t truly want to. I am aware that no matter how much success or whatever else in life I somehow manage to achieve will never change any of this, I am never going to be able to experience a happiness that isn’t fabricated by some substance or my manic mind; regardless of anything that I choose to do, these problems will always exist. I don’t want to fight with my mind any more, I’m too tired; I want this all to end.

Yet, that is not what can happen, I cannot go down the path of self destruction once again; I never know if I’ll come back from that. I made the decision to persevere and finally make something of my life, and I am slowly getting there.

I am not suicidal, I simply needed to get this out. I have already come to terms with all of this, I believe that you can sometimes reach the point where you accept that you are going to be mentally ill for the rest of your life, and that although upwards of 70% of it is going to be horrendous, there’s still the 30% that won’t.

I personally don’t believe that it’s worth it in itself, therefore you’ve got to make it worth it, and that’s what my writing and all you guys are doing for me; if I can help at least one person, then my life will have had purpose, and that’s all I need.

Psychosis: Two Worlds

Personally, I have found that this is the best way to describe psychosis, and also my experiences with my illness.

I have always felt as if I have on foot in this world, and one foot in another. In fact, this is exactly how my father would describe me. I feel this way due to the fact that I am here, but I am also not here. I am here physically, but I am not here mentally. I am here mentally, yet I am also somewhere else.

This may sound incredibly confusing, and that’s because it is. Psychosis immerses you in a world of isolation and uncertainty, where the concept of your world being ‘real’ doesn’t really exist.

It’s as if I share one world within the supposed ‘reality’ with others, yet I also have this world in which I am completely and utterly alone. It’s as if I am sitting on the edge of two worlds, I exist within them both, but I have no control of my crossing between these two worlds; and more often than not, I remain on that verge, experiencing both realities simultaneously.

Yet sometimes I find myself drifting from what everyone else would call reality and I find myself lost within my own world. This is when I become completely detached from reality, and my illness takes over entirely. When I am in this state, reality is non-existent.

Isolation is a huge part of psychosis, and I feel that many people fail to understand that. Psychosis is not simply hallucinations and delusions, psychosis causes pain in many different and obscure ways. Being aware that no matter how many people you surround yourself with, and no matter how many people attempt to care for you, you still remain alone in your own personal isolated hell.

However, as someone who has lost everything in their life multiple times, in some sick and twisted way, I find relief in knowing that there is a world of mine which humanity and the ills of the world can’t touch; it might be hell, but it is mine.

Sadness

The weight in my chest has grown heavy, and my heart numb. The rain was falling, and still my tears wouldn’t come out. I heard the wind call my name, yet I never heard your voice. I could jump from the highest of bridges, and still the sound of me crashing against the water would never be enough to drown out the sound of when you smashed my heart against the wall and tore it apart.”

– 3:32 01/10/2016

Whenever I write something similar to the above, I realise how much it sounds as if it has been written about a person. If I was to read the above without knowing who or why they wrote it, I would immediately assume that it is about a person, however, this time it is not. For some absurd reason that I do not currently understand, I tend to treat and refer to my mental illness as it’s own being or entity when I am talking or writing about it. I find it somehow makes it easier to talk about and process.

I can no longer deny myself or what it is that I am feeling. I have experienced severe depression many times, yet I have never experienced anything quite like this.

I have become immersed in sadness and despair, I have never felt a sadness this deep. I can no longer remember what happiness feels like and that breaks my heart. All of these feelings tire me and leave me feeling empty and numb.

I’m just so damn tired you know? There is always something going on in my head, I never have any peace, I’m sick of fighting something that I can’t win. I cannot describe the sadness or loneliness I feel, and it’s not that I don’t have people around me, because I do have my family and a couple of friends; it’s just that regardless of how many people are around me, I’m stuck here alone in my own reality. No one is ever going to live in the world that I do, and in that way I am very much alone; and that hurts.”

– 23:36 01/10/2016

I am drowning in my sadness.