My Friend Tessa took the leap and was bluntly truthful about one of my character defects

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Bipolar Diversity – Friends With Significantly Different Insights

Teresa Smeigh

Society likes to group everyone with bipolar together. They insist we are all alike. We are all violent. Every time something violent is done in this country it is blamed on bipolar. The person must certainly have bipolar. I can’t speak for others, but for me, it gets pretty tiresome constantly being in the group that is responsible for all violence. I am far from violent. I am as non-violent as you can get.

Occasionally a famous person will come out and admit they have bipolar. They have talents. People forget the slew of famous people who have bipolar and they are coming out more and more all the time.

My best friend Allison and I are as different as black and white in some things and completely the same in others. We both have writing talent. People with bipolar disorder tend to have some type of creativity even if they haven’t found it yet. I have been writing since I was a young child with non-diagnosed bipolar.

We met online blogging. We clicked even though the only thing we had alike at that time was a love of writing. Allison is rough and tough and I am a quiet little mouse. I am afraid of life. Allison loved my writing and persuaded me to try to write for International Bipolar Foundation. I applied with trepidation and received an email from their blog editor.

I have a blog on bipolar and that was really all the credentials I have besides writing for much smaller blogs. The email included info and a guidelines booklet and I was asked if I wanted to volunteer for survey groups. Allison is a writer also for this group.

I read the guidelines and received help from Allison about her experiences. She is a little wild for me. Our personalities clash, but for some reason in a good way. I got up the courage to tell her to stop running over people and they will treat you better. I waited for the explosion, but she accepted it and found out I knew what I was talking about.

Allison considers herself a rebel and I consider myself a Mental Health Advocate and go around and do projects that are easy going, but still get the point across. I have appeared in video clips, by a NY producer. She is doing other projects and I am willing to help her however I can.

Allison wants to relate more to the younger, alternative crowd and I am aiming to help all ages. We are both in our 50’s.

She looks for the world news and serious subjects. I write simple subjects to help everybody. I agonize over what I should write next, what simple subject. She is deeply researching hard core topics and calling people to interview. I search online and use my personal life. I have had plenty of life experiences with bipolar.

She and I are different as black and white and by that I mean she has a black and white blog and I have color and keep mine bright. I used to be into the black world, but now I prefer bright colors to cheer me up.

But in the end Allison and I are both trying to help others while we work on our own bipolar. Also to scientists, psychiatrists and therapists – we aren’t all alike. The most important thing you can do is listen to your patients. We know ourselves. Patients, if you don’t get that respect and get listened to, find a new support person or all of them if necessary.

I have been lucky and have had the best support system. I still have to explain what outside the box means though. They are good, not perfect.

To read more from Teresa, see the rest of her posts for IBPF here or visit her personal blog here

Topic:

Bipolar Disorder

Consumer

Friends

– See more at: http://ibpf.org/blog/bipolar-diversity-%E2%80%93-friends-significantly-different-insights#sthash.2kNTL4DG.dpuf

Sharing Jewelry Making With Others in the Community

blueswarovskion

 

When I first wanted to learn how to make jewelry a few teachers told me they couldn’t work with me; frustrated at how slow I learned. Luckily for me I had a trip scheduled to see Mom in Arizona and she’s an expert. She has such fine skills. If you compare her work with mine it’s mind boggling. But that’s not what it’s all about.

Mom set up a jewelry table for me so she could rest when she needs to and I’d have something to do. She gave me the raw materials, like stones and findings that I needed. There are quite a few moving parts and tools involved. She probably spent twelve hours with me on that trip, helping me with the skills I could not wrap my mind around, like wire bending, and the making of loops to put earring findings on or other attachments. It’s got to be consistent and uniform in shape in side, otherwise it won’t hang the same and the different loop sizes will look silly.

I put up a site on Etsy and found out it’s more a place where ideas are stolen than appreciated and bought. In doing this I developed better photography skills, as the picture and description of an item are worth more than a thousand words. I spent money on lessons upon my return and also put out dough for nice stones like the above, which is Fluorite topped with embedded Swarovsky Crystal beads.

And then I got into writing and I just stopped. I’m going back. I think I need to.

 

I hate this word as a platitude or cliché but ‘balance’ is everything.

Allison

The Bipolar Disorder Med-i-go-round

Carrie is not my favorite person at all, having known her from ‘friends of bill’ in LA. But sometimes she can be funny.

Our Lived Experience

I wish I could tell you that this blog post was sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, but you know, the medical professionals get the perks, we just get an ever increasing array of horrible side effects and the vague hope of a little emotional stability somewhere along the way. Bitter? Me? You betcha.

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Here’s a list of the chemicals that have run rampant through my beleaguered system during the past 18 months.

Citalopram & Escitalopram – those are two generations of the same drug. The maximum dose you can have before ‘they’ start demanding ECGs, is 40mg, which shrink one felt was inadequate. I hadn’t started using the public healthcare sector then, so heart tests would’ve cost me a bomb. Before the 40mg rule appeared, I was on 80mg.
Alzam – I used it prn and never felt it doing much good.
Quetiapine – my very worst, because I got…

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Trying to Advocate in the face of Discrimination

I just tried to sign up for the Mood Network and apparently I already have! Memory loss from all the mood stabilizers (3) antidepressants (2) and Tardive Meds. Recently I became aware that because I have Tardive Dyskinesia, I am discriminated against as a prospective volunteer. These are places where I volunteered for years with a high hospital security clearance and facilitated/started/nurtured support groups for people like us. I am the face of something that makes drug company sponsored foundations uncomfortable. I’m ‘trouble.’ I find this troubling. Because I have decent verbal skills and am a writer and activist, this situation is even worse. I’m trying to soften a few areas of my message, like my blog, “Rebel With A Cause” to reflect something more positive. But America Loves a Rebel. It’s good to question the status quo and research what you put in your body before you do it, I think.

I mean how many things have they been wrong on? Vioxx, Saccarine, Thalidomide, Tardive, ADHD, I could go on and on.

To quote the ‘Arnold,’ I’ll be back. Allison Strong bipolarbrainiac.wordpress.com

Bowie, my BFF and Taking stock of being a Rebel

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I didn’t want to be one of the many David Bowie Fans rushing to grab the stage for themselves. His death really affected me. I’m so sad he’s gone but he made art out of pain until the very end. I adored his ‘plastic’ soul phase of the “Young Americans” album…it was the first David Bowie album I bought. Then I got into his lead guitarit “Mick Ronson” and loved his solo song, “The Empty Bed.” You can’t find it anymore. David wrote songs for acts in the Underground and helped them break through. Good examples of this are his collaborative work with Lou Reed, Brian Eno, and Iggy Pop. He was generous that way. He felt there was room for everyone. rebel

I always considered myself an outsider. The music of David Bowie in the 70’s, along with Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, Foghat, The Eagles and other groups in the 70’s, normalized my experience of myself. I was and forever will be grateful to them. It encouraged the artist in me.

However, due to my BFF and the passing of Scott Weiland from STP and David Bowie, I’m re examining the theme of my blog.

Rebel. Hmmmmm. Rebel against what, exactly? And what in the heck is positive about that?

Questioning and raging against the status quo is what has fueled popular and underground music (my favorite) since the 50’s. Beginning with Elvis, The Beatles, Going into Led Zepplin, Nirvana, Bowie, Billy Idol and even the softer sounds of Duran Duran.

My personal opinion is that artists have an uncanny ability to take pain and give it purpose in their art, connecting to others who feel similarly….or feel at all, and find meaning in it.

But I’m re examining useless rebellion, that’s all. I’m for change but think twitter hashtag campaigns only speak to the choir and protests outside the gates of pharmaceutical companies only make us look more crazy.

I’ve written letters to senators and am looking for an online Civics course to see how our government really works when it comes to affecting Change and checks and balances.

My friend Dyane (who also has a variant of bipolar disorder) is living my dream!

 This what I would have done if I’d been profiled in a publication so lofty they won’t publish my writing but they write about me!!!! That is what is happening to Dyane. Maybe they think she is ‘too good’ or ‘too serious’ for them. Or maybe they don’t want to have a moving, disturbing article in the first person on post partum onset bipolar disorder. They are just now wrapping their head around post partum depression and bipolar disorder! Have they covered Schizoaffective yet? I think NOT! By saying this of course I am blowing my chances of being published there, I’ve tried several times as well with no response. But that’s ok. Dyane is taking a page out of the Donald Trump playbook, any publicity, especially free publicity, is better than a commercial or a future advertisement for her upcoming book, “Birth of a New Brain.” I’m hot on her heals with my own, watching her learn and grow.

Dyane Leshin-Harwood, founding member of the Santa Cruz DBSA chapter, has advice for new mothers managing a mental disorder and a career. Her upcoming book is “Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder.” http://bit.ly/1PwKpo4

 

 

 

It’s no joke..jewelry making as Art Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

blueheart

 

Obviously there’s an artistic side to me. From my youthful participation in musical productions, plays, risky choice of dropping out of Stanford to pursue acting after doing a commercial and getting my Screen Actor’s Guild Union Card (something half the actors in LA do not and will never have), to my writing, being artful in my disc jockey work, affinity for all kinds of music, (was a musician myself at one time)…but it took me a while to realize how art therapy can do the trick.

My Mom has an MFA from Pomona College outside of LA. She’s an art therapist. One time, when I was in deep trouble, living in LA and addicted to drugs and the man who provided them and the new cars I received just as quickly as I totaled them she did a guided ‘trip’ through what’s called “Sand Tray Therapy). Sand tray allows the patient, or clients, to create their ideal world through trinkets, placement of bridges, roads, dolls, rocks, to symbolize what they would like in their life.

I can’t remember the exact details but my Mom remembers I created a ‘way out’ of the trap I was in and my imminent departure from Los Angeles by use of this treatment modality. I’m not sure why ‘Sand Tray’ never caught on big time but it was useful to me. it made me realize I had it in me to make the move I needed most. To leave that man, my fiancée of 8 years, and leave LA once and for all.

Later in life I married a Geffen Records promo guy and he was transferred to LA, so I went back there, after all. It was much easier to secure voiceover work and commercials when I wasn’t on cocaine, let me tell you. But that’s a whole nother story.

I’m on a Charlotte Rampling Kick

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The hostess of horror is back with a new film, “45 Years”

Charlotte Rampling specializes in roles that attempt to normalize the most horrific. I call her the ‘hostess of horror.’

I became aware of her when I saw a Mickey Roarke Robert Deniro movie about selling one’s soul to the devil (an old theme if ever there was one) and she played a New Orleans Voodooienne who met her bloody end before they could extract her prophesies and spells. I learned about her role in “The Night Porter,” Reveled in her role as serial killer “Dexter’s” unconditionally approving, supportive and loving psychiatrist who specialized in childhood trauma and two recent films: The role of the stern, black and white “Women Must Endure these things” mother of Keira Knightly in “The Duchess.” It’s a terrific film also starring Ralph Fiennes as the uncouth Duke she is forced into marriage with. Then another film with Keira Knightly called “Never Let me Go” about using British Orphans solely for the purpose of organ donation. She played the head of the institution that schooled these orphans into thinking they were serving a high purpose parting with their parts one by one until they weakened and died. Now she’s back in a movie about a wonderful marriage shattered by something horrific. I can’t wait to see it.

She’s the model of a cosmetics campaign for Nas Cosmetics, joining octogenarian Joan Didion as a fine example of the grace of aging. What could be better for us? Sometimes life is horrible but we have to make the best of it and see light in the dark, as she seems to.

There’s another side to me…art therapy w/jewelry and cooking and more

pompano

 

If you have been following this blog for a while you might think I’m married to a life of battle against the ‘powers that be.’ Back when I was on Tumblr I posted a lot about my lighter side, jewelry making, pilates, and gourmet cooking, one of my passions. We have this store in town called Penn Dutch. They have the best, most highly trafficked (this makes for fresher fish because it’s always being replaced by new hauls) fish counter I’ve ever seen. Yesterday they had 9 Oz LobsterTails from South America, not Australia. They carry a Brazilian fish called Branzino that I’ve never heard of.

Yesterday I bought a fish native to here, South Florida, called Pompano. (pictured) it’s only 6.99 a pound, you purchase the whole fish and get two 6oz filets out of it. They filet it for you. What I do is buy coconut milk, fresh mint, and chili paste. I add more splenda to the mixture and heat it up. Then I put dissolved cornstarch in it and pour it over the fish and put it in the oven. I make steamed vegetables and rice, and the extra coconut milk sauce goes good over both. Mike my husband really likes this.

I had to stand at a fish counter with a number tag in my hand for 1/2 hour as this store is crowded. But that’s what makes the fish counter so fresh. Nothing sits there very long.

 

Stigma where it shouldn’t be: My local Nami.

This is a letter to another person who has tardive dyskinesia and is quiet about it. She’s smarter than me. She realizes it scares people. I’m writing her about being stigmatized and discriminated against by my local drop in center and local Nami. This is not the first time I’ve looked at this issue. For all of you people who are trying to advocate, help others, sometimes they don’t want our particular voice to be heard. I took her name out of the letter and am reprinting it and asking you…should I let NAMI national know about this situation or let it lie? I’ve already cried ‘foul’ locally in a very measured, calm manner. The problem is trouble begets trouble. What would it help? Would it result in more doors being shut in my face? My local Nami is Broward County Florida, by the way. This is my way of asking you: What should I do about this?

Allison

Dear M,

 

Buzzfeed published a list of thirty books on mental illness. My book is beginning to just come pouring out of me. I added bipolar hope blog and a one-off on Mindful Management of Mood Disorders-DBT to my list of publishers. When I saw this list, because I had gotten my first list of books from you, naturally I thought of you.

 

I have a thorny situation I thought I would ask your advice. I want to volunteer in mental health in more than just writing. I am doing a type of telephone outreach developing a database for IBPF and since I’m decent on the phone from years of being a disc jockey and know how to talk naturally, (you just talk and mumble and they get it..they don’t feel ‘slicked’ out..you know?) I am enjoying that.

 

 

Here is the situation. I wanted to write a second article about a drop in center that I’d written a first article about. In past, I volunteered for three years with high hospital clearance. I lead a good peer support meeting. I developed an eating disorder meeting, got us in newspaper, showed up until others began tooo..in short the meeting is still running today. I fell off their volunteer rolls. When I asked to be put back on and take the class, I was told I was too unstable. While it’s true I’m verbal, impulsive and sometimes dominant, especialy with people who have thought disorders and are going at a slower speed, I’ve worked on it and have gotten better.

 

AT that drop in center, there are peer volunteers who have offered me drugs in the parking lot. Others make professional appointments to fix the computer for example and don’t show or call to cancel. I even get calls from paranoid volunteers who think the CIA is after them. I don’t do things like this and I don’t report either. But I’ve run into the same problem with NAMI. I attended a few of their ‘connections’ meetings and was scolded for nodding my head and saying ‘uh huh,’ when someone was talking. They solicited volunteers to lead more support groups. I am really good at this. My calls go unanswered. I tried a third time and filled out a telephone application with the head office volunteer and told him about the problem at “Rebel’s Drop In.” He reassured me I’d done the right thing by confiding in him, as the information would have been relayed to him anyway. They vet us thoroughly. I have been told twice they have no one to do the newsletter. This would be so easy for me and I volunteered. My application has been ignored for two weeks. I followed up with a phone call a week ago and left a message about ‘starting slow and small to work towards a common goal.” it was also ignored.  I got an email from them yesterday and cooly responded that I’m aware I’m being discriminated against because “she’s got that.” she’s ‘trouble,’ ‘she’s angry.’

 

So my email just said, “I’m not angry, this happens to me a lot since I got Tardive and that I understand I’m the face of a fearsome statistic even though I’m asymptomatic. I think it’s the tardive. If I had never mentioned it in a “Connections” meeting I would have been warmly welcomed. I have a strong skill set.

 

Sometimes doctors won’t take me as a patient, and the ones willing to explain said it was because they viewed me as ‘trouble,’ ‘a walking lawsuit’ a ‘basketcase on too many drugs.’ My own psychiatrist of  17 years says I’m an ‘exotic’ and that people just don’t understand.

 

I feel good. I had bipolar depression last year from April to Mid july and it was tough. My new antidepressant is hard to keep down, side effect of nausea. But I’m a trouper.  I realize certain things aren’t meant to be. I was hoping to volunteer for the drop in center or Nami by facilitating ‘connections’ or a ‘mat pilates’ class. The nearest DBT class is held there. I don’t feel comfortable or supported there.

 

I wanted involvement with Nami to learn more about things like mental health parity, ballot initiatives, etc. I had wanted to do a series of articles called “Activism Made Easy” giving examples of petitions signable by the click of a mouse. I was hoping to soak up their expertise. I’d be a great grant writer. Maybe I’m meant to write my book and isolate. I crave human interaction, especially with my peers.

 

I’m at a fork in the road. I’m considering contacting Nami’s national branch and explaining the situation. I am continuing to work on my character defects and off putting personality traits. But I hurt deep inside at an organization dedicated to eliminating inequality and stigma stigmatizing me. It really hurts, M.

 

Allison Biszantz

So be clear: I’m being discriminated against and not allowed to contribute there in any way even though I could help fundraise, do the newsletter, start and nurture new “Connections” meetings and more. I’m also considered ‘not stable enough’ to volunteer again at the local drop in center. That is also a deteriorating situation. Question is…how far should I take this?