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Mental Health

Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder, but can also describe persons struggle with health problems.

Mental Health Awareness, Mentally and Physically Abuse

Mental Health Awareness by Muddled Up Mummy

Today (10th of October 2015) is World Mental Health Day. So to do my part in trying to create and spread awareness I want to share with you my story. I am the person behind ‘Muddled up Mummy‘ and I call it ‘Behind the Smile.’

Please feel free to ‘share’ this to help create more awareness on Mental Health.

By the way, it’s long but very much worth the read. If you don’t have time to read it now, please save it for later.

Behind the Smile:
Mental Health AwarenessFor those of you that have met me, I’m sure you’d probably say I seem like a really happy go lucky kind of person. For those of you who haven’t met me, I’m sure you’d probably say similar. After all, I am a very optimistic and a positive type of person. You can probably tell this from my posts on Muddled up Mummy. But there is more to me than meets the eye. Behind the smile, there is a whole other person. A person who has been through more than most people you know. So let me introduce to you the real me.

I was born in Perth WA Australia in 1984. I was born into what seemed like the perfect little family. To onlookers, it would have been. Behind closed doors, though, it was far from that. At first things seemed good. Well for a bit they were. Then my brother was born and soon things turned really sour in our perfect little family scenario.

First it started with my Mother. She was mentally and physically abused by the person who was supposed to love her. After a couple of years, my father kidnapped my brother and I and fled to the capital of Australia, Canberra.

My mother soon followed, but he wouldn’t let her see us. She was devastated, and the fact that she already suffered from poor mental health didn’t help. As time went on my father got worse. He was hurting everyone, even his own kids.
Once he put me in hospital in the Intensive Care Unit, fighting for my life. What he did to me is a bit too much to share, though, but so you all know it wasn’t pretty, and I was only 4.
Another day he was sick of me and put me in the car boot while he was driving.
My brother and I were living in fear. Every mistake we made suffered costly consequences at the hands of our so-called father.
This went on for quite some time until authorities finally stepped in, and we were saved and went to live in foster care.

We soon started seeing our mother, and that eventually became every Saturday. She was the most beautiful soul, and I knew this already at such a young age. It was sad for us though as she suffered from Bipolar disorder and really couldn’t take care of us full time. So, when we did see her we really looked forward to it. We adored her so much. In my eyes, she was perfect and could do no wrong.

At the time though we didn’t even know she wasn’t well mentally. Then one day just before I turned 11 she passed away from a burst an aneurysm in the brain. I felt an angel had been taken from the earth. I was so sad. Yes, even angry.

God had taken one of the most beautiful souls on earth, and it had to be my mother.

I took this out on my foster mum because, in my eyes, she would never be, or could replace MY MUM.

I was really down for many years. I was never the same after my mother died.
As I got older, I started to date. I was in 3 serious relationships over a period of eight years. Two of them were disasters. The other wasn’t that great either – full of violence and mental abuse, name calling, control, alcoholism and cheating.

These were just some of things I had to endure. After I finally got free from this vicious dating spiral, I realized I‘d been dating versions of my dad and lost a lot of trust in people.

After years of torment, I developed a mental illness. Although doctors believe now, I had problems with my mental health from a young age as I would always struggle. But, after my entire trauma from both my childhood and from adulthood, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)

I tried to take my life many times and was in the hospital a lot. Slowly though I started to understand it was trauma from my past catching up with me and invading my life like a virus I couldn’t shake.

With a lot of support, I got my life back on track. It took a lot of strength and plenty of counseling, but I got there. But, this wasn’t the end of my struggles. It turns out I had Bipolar.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder a couple of years ago but, they say it’s been around for awhile and just wasn’t being treated.

I hated getting this label. It made me feel like I must be some kind of crazy. But, you know what; it really doesn’t make me crazy at all. I can’t help that I have this. They say it was probably passed down to me because both my parents had it.

But each day after finding out I would wake up, realize I have this label, and it would get me down. So one day I decided to ditch the label. I decided I am who I am, and not the label I’d been given.

So this is me.
I’m intelligent and witty.
I’m not bipolar.
I have a positive outlook on life even if I have some really down days.
I’m not bipolar.
I can actually be pretty funny.
I’m not bipolar.
I’m good looking.
I’m not bipolar.
I’m an amazing mother.
I’m not bipolar.
I’m a great friend, partner, sister, daughter and aunt.
I’m not bipolar.
I am me.
I’m not bipolar.

So, although I have this label that I don’t really like, I try not to focus on it. I focus on all the other things that make me myself. I take my meds and get on with it. But, I do have days that are really fucking hard. I have anxiety attacks at times. Some days I don’t really feel like talking to anyone. But amongst all this I’ve decided Bipolarity doesn’t define me. It doesn’t make me a freak. It’s just something I’ve been dealt, and I’ve learned to be OK with that. So OK with it, that I’m now sharing this.

Most of my family and friends don’t even know I have this illness. This fact will probably even surprise some of them. I used to be so ashamed because of the stigma behind Mental Health that I didn’t want anybody to know, but not anymore.

There needs to be more awareness about mental health, and this is my part in spreading it.

There will probably be a few of you that will dislike my page because I’ve shared this. But my hope is most of you will ‘Share’ this post and help spread the awareness.

Mental Illness doesn’t define a person. But you still need to be aware it’s there. It’s a struggle, and if you think those with it can just suck it up and learn to be happy. They can’t. It doesn’t work like that. So please share my story as awareness is a key to removing the stigma and being more open about the struggles that some people face.

Also thanks so much for taking the time to read this.

Now click ‘SHARE’, and also make a note of yourself that you actually don’t know someone and their struggles unless they are open about it. So spread some awareness so more people feel they can open up. Also, try to be more understanding when they do, because if we can all do this it just might save a life.

Also here is a link to a short film I made a couple of years ago about my life.

Feel free to check it out at http://youtu.be/rZFmo6pWq7c

To follow more of my journey, come over and ‘like’ my page. I am a first time Mummy sharing the good, the bad and the totally muddled up world of parenting. I also share a whole lot of inspiration & some humor as well. So why not come over and check out Muddled Up Mummy and if you like what you see, how about giving us a ‘like.’

Women’s Strengths Aid in Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery – Women’s Strengths Aid

When we think about addiction, it’s all too common that we focus on the negative aspects of the story: the toll that it takes on Treatment for Womenfamily and friends, as well as the addict themselves. This is especially true when it comes to women who are addicts, because narratives about women are more likely to center on how their families are impacted by addiction. The other side of the story is a much more positive one: women tend to have particular strengths that mean they often move through the recovery process more easily than men.

According to academic evidence, women recover from addiction at higher rates than men. One of the primary reasons for this is a simple matter of biology: women progress more rapidly through the various stages of addiction. They hit “rock bottom” sooner than men, and as a result, they get into recovery programs sooner than men. That means women, as a group, experience less of the physical devastation wrought by addiction, and this helps to make the recovery process less physically demanding.

womens-eyeAnother important difference is also related to biological factors. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, partly because women go through a wide variety of hormonal changes throughout their lives. Mental health issues often underlie addiction, and getting treatment helps female addicts address their addiction.

Finally, there are the social strengths of women. Girls and women are encouraged much more so than boys and men to express emotion, to develop expressive relationships, and to allow themselves the luxury of accepting help when they’re in need. All of these factors together are enormously important in the recovery process, which means that women tend to have more tools for coping with recovery in general.

Melissa Hilton

Mental Illnesses on Movies

Movie attractions about mental illnesses

Recently I wrote about the premiere of a new movie, Mania Days, which stars Katie Holmes and is based on the life of the author who has Bipolar disorder.  One of our Facebook friends asked where it could be seen.

Well, the answer, in short, is “not yet”.  It is an independent film and caught my eye because it premiered in Austin TX, near where Old Fox MovietoneI live. Unfortunately, no matter how good it is, it won’t be released on the “big screen” until the writer/director/producer has an offer from a large movie production company – for a lot of money.

He may get one of those offers at upcoming independent film festivals, and the prospects look good as the film has received positive reviews.  It is likely that no matter how good the film is, we won’t see it in theaters for several months, if not longer. (It will probably be available on DVD though)

Sorry if it was a big tease.  In any case, it got me thinking that there are some well-known and available movies that you can see.  Maybe you have seen them, but you probably haven’t seen all or even most of them.

The good news is that since mental disorders tend to produce notable or even outrageous and shocking behaviors, they do make good subjects for movies.  This list is only a few of the movies that I have seen – and in many of them, there is no clear “diagnosis” for the characters but the symptoms are there.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Most of the films that feature characters that may have borderline personality disorder focus on murderous women.  Certainly BPD doesn’t only affect females but it does make good movie fodder.

•    Fatal Attraction
•    Single White Female
•    Casino
•    The Cable Guy
•    Margot at the Wedding
•    The Crush

Anxiety Disorders –

Anxiety disorders are harder to see in a movie as a single issue as they often occur with other disorders – as they do in real life.

•    Ordinary People
•    Parenthood

Social Anxiety Disorder

Can result in avoiding being in public, speech disorders and fears of other social situations.

•    The Kings Speech

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a real problem, but many people don’t realize how debilitating it can be.  In addition, it is also an anxiety disorder but doesn’t show as well on the screen.

•    The Aviator
•    As good as it gets

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD often follows a “war” event – but can follow other traumatic events. In most cases, these events are “acute” but in some cases they are chronic, occurring over a period of many years.

•    Prince of Tides
•    Forrest Gump
•    Born on the Fourth of July
•    First Blood
•    Sudden Impact
•    Reign Over Me
•    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Autism

There is really only one good example that I know of – and it is a classic.  That said, it is not an exact example as Autism is a “spectrum disorder” that ranges from high-functioning to non-functioning.

•    Rain Man
•    The Boy Who Could Fly

Bipolar Disorder

There are actually a lot of movies that can be seen showing bipolar disorder though. Rarely do they discuss the actual diagnosis but here are a few good ones.

•    Mad Love
•    Blind Date
•    Michael Clayton
•    Manic
•    Of Two Minds

Clinical depression

In most cases, clinical depression doesn’t look good on a screen.  Unless the character has some other event going on, watching someone not do anything doesn’t attract movie attention.  In these cases, there were other things going on in the movie that made them interesting.

•    The Fire Within
•    Leaving Las Vegas
•    Rushmore

Silver Linings PlaybookAnd the winner for “Most Psychiatric Disorders Featured in One Movie” goes to:

•    Silver Linings Playbook
•    Girl Interrupted

Both movies show a number of intertwining psychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and eating disorder, are great films and two you really shouldn’t miss.

Most of these movies should be available on DVD.

Melissa Lind

List of films featuring mental disorders

Woman with Bipolar Disorder Wins Court Case

Future discrimination of people with Bipolar Disorder may be more difficult

Score one (kind of) for Bipolar Disorder.  A federal jury awarded a woman who was fired because she requested time off from work to deal with a manic episode $32.5 thousand.

Bipolar Disorder StigmatizationBipolar disorder (and many other psychiatric illnesses) carries a relatively big stigma in the workplace.  Unless you are in the creative arts, likely, you will not want anyone at your job to know that you have bipolar disorder.

Three years ago, a nursing assistant who worked in an assisted living facility, named Charlotte Massey realized she was in the middle of a manic episode.  Charlotte had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder – and kudos to her for recognizing that she needed to do something about it before it spiraled out of control.

When she called her boss, the owner of the facility, her boss not only didn’t give her “kudos”, he gave her a pink slip.  She got fired because she asked to take a leave of absence to deal with her medical issue.

Unlike most people who have been fired for Bipolar Disorder – Charlotte didn’t lose her job because she went wacko.  Instead, she maintained enough mental clarity to notify her employer of her Bipolar Disorder Discriminationdisability and was rewarded with… firing.

It is certain that the owner of the facility was aware of the American with Disabilities Act.  It is likely that he or she was aware that he could not randomly fire employees with physical or obvious mental disabilities. But, it may be that he was unaware that “mental disabilities” includes illnesses such as bipolar disorder.

The ADA bars discrimination against persons with physical or mental disabilities who can perform the essential functions of their job with “reasonable accommodation” and without imposing an “undue hardship” on the employer.

From the outside, some may say… well she wanted to take time off.  In fact, she took a whole five days off, with herself or a family member reporting in each day with the supervisor.  When she returned to work after only a week of absence, she was fired.

Part of the law includes an evaluation of whether the employer would be subjected to “undue hardship”.  Is giving an employee time off to deal with a medical issue, an employee whose shifts could be made up by another person – an undue hardship?

Workplace StigmaThe court thought it was not.  The jury awarded Massey $25,000 in damages for lost wages and benefits and $7,500 in punitive damages.

The employer and his lawyer attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed by claiming that:

•    Charlotte Massey wasn’t fired; she resigned
•    She had a faulty memory of the events due to her disability
•    She never reported her disability to her employer

In fact, none of those were true.  Though the employer’s attorney repeatedly referred to the case as “frivolous”, the jury found otherwise.
This award may be the first of its kind, and it may be small, but it is a groundbreaking case.  With the ability to claim protections of the ADA, future discrimination may be more difficult.

Melissa Lind

More difficult for Bipolar Disorder stigma in the future!

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s – A parent’s journey to being grateful

As the parent of a child with Asperger’s, I have gone through a series of emotional stages, and though I never thought I would be grateful, I am.

Aspergers SyndromeWhen I first realized my kid had Asperger’s, I was relieved.  I was relieved because there was suddenly an explanation.  I had thought that there was something “wrong” with him, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

Finding out that he has Asperger’s let me know that he is “different” but not “bad.”  He isn’t just a kid who chooses not to behave.  He isn’t a kid with a mom who doesn’t make him behave.  He has Asperger’s.

Then, I was sad.  I was sad for all the times that I didn’t understand.  I was sad for the fact that others have taught him he is a “bad” kid.  I was sad for all the times I got frustrated and lost my temper.

I was also angry.  I was angry because even the health care “professionals” did not see.  They focused on his “bad” behavior.  They focused on what I wasn’t doing to make him better. They did not truly understand that he is “different” and they certainly did not see how great he is.

Today (several years later) I am in acceptance. I accept that my child (now 10) is different.  I accept that he will have difficulties.  I accept that his school will call about once a week to describe some heinous event.

I am also grateful.  I am grateful that I know.  I am grateful that I can appreciate the terrific kid that he is and mostly know how to help him through. I do still get frustrated and lose my temper but at least I know what I am doing wrong.  I no longer have to feel like I am doing everything wrong – or that I just don’t know what to do at all.

Autism Spectrum DisorderI am grateful that at least right now, he is fortunate enough to have a teacher that gets Autism Spectrum Disorder.  A principal that gets it – and both of these wonderful ladies see how lovable he is, how smart he is, and even though they may get frustrated and angry, they still get it.   I am grateful that I have enough information to know that there are just some things that we cannot do, and that really we shouldn’t bother.

I was thinking about this because I heard about a convention that I could go to.  The convention organizers have a “kid camp.”   The children are put on a bus and taken to some activity – a museum, a park, a walking tour…and even though he is 10 and even though he is “high-functioning” – he could not do this.  He could not be calm and collected and manage.

He has difficulty with scheduling, he has difficulty with noise, he has difficulty with crowds, he has difficulty with spontaneous activities, he has difficulty with new food… I would not even consider sending him to “kid camp” or any other activity that I could not be at.

This is not because I won’t “allow” it.  It is because the well-meaning organizers will not be able to predict and compensate for his Aspergers Children“different-ness”.  He would not have a good time; I would not have a good time – it would not be best for him.  I cannot go to that convention, but that is OK.

Not every kid who has Asperger’s has the same “different-ness”, and not every parent feels the same way. But I am grateful that I have gone through the relief, the anger and the sadness, to be accepting of my life and his life.

I am thankful that I can compensate for his differences and see how terrific he is.

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have different different-nesses!

Melissa Lind