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Cutting – An Actual Mental Disorder

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

A lot of people are shocked and horrified at the thought of self-mutilation and for many years “cutting” was categorized only as a symptom of Borderline Personality DisorderBPD, as you may know, has symptoms of unstable personal relationships, impulsivity, and extreme mood changes (different from Bipolar disorder as they can change on a dime and swing wildly).

The new issue of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition or DSM-5, includes it as a separate diagnosis of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI).  Research has suggested that NSSI can occur independently of BPD but is also often a co-existing or co-morbid illness, occurring alongside BPD, Bipolar Disorder, one of the many anxiety disorders or with other disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Cutting DisorderI am the mother of pre-adolescent children – who are beginning to believe they know all about people who act “weird” or do “weird” things (their words, not mine).  My daughter has recently talked about the “EMO” kids – which as a dumb mom, I had to figure out was a social group of kids who were “emotionally dark.”  She includes in her description of an “EMO” as “you know, like kids who are cutters.”  It is stereotypical to think that they all wear black clothing and heavy eyeliner – as some may – but many do not.

Some people who have the disorder would never be suspected of such – but then we are also sometimes surprised when someone who seems to have everything commits suicide, only to find that under the polished exterior was extreme anguish.  Often, cutting will be dismissed as a “stage” and it may be a “stage” – but often it is not.  Many patients – have arms or hips full of patterned scars – proving that it is often a condition all to itself.

Cutting Disorder - Mental IllnessSelf-mutilation most often starts in the early teen years when adolescent emotions are at their height – but often extends well into adulthood.  The majority of “cutters” are female – but not all.  There is often a co-existing mental illness and may have a family history component – but also often occurs following events of abuse – including sexual, physical or emotional abuse.  Sudden life changes such as unemployment or divorce – and isolation may trigger an occurrence.

People who “cut” often express a desire to “feel” as if they cannot truly attach to their own emotions.  Others will say they “cut” to kill the pain – this is because the act of producing pain also causes the body to release endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller) that makes them feel better.  Unfortunately, even though the action may induce temporary euphoria – it is often followed by guilt and a return of the negative feelings.

NSSI is defined as:

• 5 or more days of intentional self-inflicted damage to the surface of the body without suicidal intent – in the past year.
Patients must be intending to:
o Seek relief from negative feelings or thoughts and/or
o Resolve interpersonal problems and/or
o Induce a positive emotional state
• The behavior must be associated with 1 of:
o Interpersonal problems
o Negative thoughts or feelings
o Premeditation
o Ruminating on injury (obsession)

NSSI includes not only “cutting” but also burning, hitting or punching, head banging, biting, non-aesthetic piercing or carving of skin (tattoos and body piercing don’t apply), pulling out hair or other “topical” mutilation.  If a patient has expressed suicidal thoughts or shows suicidal tendencies – it is not classified as NSSI as the intent of a person with NSSI is not to commit suicide.
NSSI should be first viewed as a serious medical condition that truly requires treatment.  It may be resolved by treating an existing co-morbid psychiatric condition – but likely it will also require psychotherapy to resolve some of the underlying issues.

Definition of Self-injury/cutting (Mayo Clinic)

Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment (WebMD)

If you see signs of NSSI or “cutting” in a child, teen, or adult that you know – encourage them to seek help.

Melissa Lind (WriterMelle)

An Actual Mental Disorder – Cutting

Anxiety and Headaches

Often a lot of people will find that anxiety and headaches can go hand-in-hand

Almost all people with serious anxiety have been able to see the warning signs of an attack with the start of a headache, and you will find that this not something that you must through alone.
You will want to make sure that you talk to your doctor about your anxiety and even the possible depression that you may have because this will help you to control your emotions and you will begin to feel better.

Mental DisorderMental disorders and headaches are extremely common. Most of the thing people who suffer from chronic headaches are people who also suffer from mental disorders like anxiety, OCD, PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorders, and major depression. People who suffer from these types of mental disorders, you will find suffer, almost 80% will have a headache daily.

Some of the things that you can do to help yourself out are by seeking medical attention. Keep in mind that modern medicine is often also mixed with traditional treatments like acupuncture in order to make a quick impact. You will want to keep in mind that there are a lot of people in the world who suffer from this, and there is no need to be ashamed.

You will need to consider your own state of mind and health in general so that you can take the best care of yourself and make the best decisions.

Keep in mind that there are many reasons why you may end up with a headache. It could be from all the pressure that you are feeling, and it simply could be because you have to deal with a lot of things at once. Not everyone can deal with multitasking; however, you will need to keep in mind that it is particularly necessary that you make yourself push thru it all so that you can come out a stronger person.

It is possible for you to have issues that overlap and that your headache could end up being more than you through it could be; however, it is particularly crucial that you get medical attention for chronic headaches. If you are getting them on a daily basis because of the stress that you are under, then you will need to do something in order to step down or relieve some of your stress.

It is extremely important that you think about the long-term side effects that you can get from anxiety and from headaches.

You will need to take your medical condition serious. And you need to do everything you can in order to handle the mental disorders and anxiety that you suffer from so that you can take control of your headaches and pain.

Anxiety and headaches can go hand-in-hand

Anxiety Symptom Awareness

Things to consider regarding Anxiety Symptom Awareness!

Many people suffer from high anxiety.

Symptom awareness can help them to recognize that they have a serious medical condition and are not just “high strung.” Panic disorders are a common psychological problem with potentially devastating effects on the quality of one’s life. Recognizing the symptoms of an anxiety attack can result in sufferers seeking out the treatment they need.

Anxiety for waspsA commonly experienced anxiety symptom is to feel dizzy or lightheaded. If someone feels that way during anxious moments, he or she may want to consider it as a warning sign. This is a particularly dangerous symptom, because the loss of balance it produces can lead to falls and other accidents.

Another anxiety symptom is to feel as though that one cannot breathe. This is a common symptom among those diagnosed with panic disorders and can be quite frightening. Victims feel as though they are unable to catch their breath or as if they are somehow being smothered. If one experiences periods of this sort, one will probably want to consider discussing your situation with a physician.

Others suffering from panic disorders will experience shakes or tremors. These involuntary movements can be extremely frightening and create an increased risk of accident. Nervous tics are one thing, but tremors and shakes related to anxiety are another. They should be taken as a sign that something may be wrong.

Anxiety sufferers often experience a sensation that as if something is crawling all over them during anxious periods. This sensation is by many described as being akin to having ants or other small insects patrolling the body. It is a particularly uncomfortable sensation that can paralyze one with fear.

A particularly scary anxiety symptom is the feeling that one is experiencing a heart attack or some other intense chest pain. Many panic attack sufferers have been quite certain their death was imminent while in the midst of an attack. The pain, although lacking a physiological basis, can be quite real and truly frightening. That fear serves to intensify one’s anxiety, making it part of a vicious circle.

There are, of course, other symptoms. One of the interesting things about panic disorders is that different individuals will experience different manifestations of the problem. While some may sweat profusely during an attack, someone else may notice chills as an anxiety symptom.

The important thing to remember is that if one experience particularly anxious times when someone feel fear, that in retrospect seems disproportionate or other physical reflections of their anxiety. They may have a diagnosable panic disorder. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options are available for those who experience anxiety attacks. Thus, it makes perfect sense to immediately consult with a medical professional if someone feels they may have a problem.

Recognizing some of the common symptoms of disproportionate anxiety may give a person the impetus to seek help. That help may allow them to move on with your life without having to be concerned that another terrifying anxiety symptom will emerge uncontrollably.

Curse of the Ferrari Brain: the Other Side of Bipolar Disorder

Manic Episode: Another Side of Bipolar Disorder.

Welcome back, my friends!

My apologies for the extended absence. I’ve been very busy with other projects, which I’ll have to return to soon. Also, I wanted to make sure this article was perfect, because this one’s a little tricky.

So far, most of my articles have focused on depression. As someone with type II bipolar disorder, that’s the side I know best. Also, it’s the side that’s easiest for a person who doesn’t have bipolar disorder to understand. Everyone has been bummed at some point. Wanna understand bipolar depression? Take your depression, magnify by about a jillion, and there ya go. Pretty easy to understand, right? The other side of the coin isn’t as straightforward. A good metaphor, I hope, will make it easier to understand.

Let’s say that the average human brain is like a Volvo.The Volvo gets great mileage and is one of the safest, most dependable cars on the road. You wanna get to work on time, day after day and with very little fuss and worry? A Volvo is the car for you.Average human brain - Volvo

The bipolar brain is more like a Ferrari.

Bipolar brain - like a Ferrai

“Farrah”

The Ferrari is fast and flashy. Its sleek, predatory looks practically demand that you drive it at dangerous speeds. You want to make it to work in forty seconds flat? Then the Ferrari is the car for you. Unfortunately, it guzzles gas like your Aunt Janie guzzles gin and tends to spend more time in the shop than on the road. The insurance premiums are astronomical and you are almost guaranteed to wrap it around a tree someday.

Now then… bipolar depression is like the times when the Ferrari is in the shop. It’s up on the lift, and you’re going nowhere. You can’t even show it off by rolling it into your driveway. Not only that, but you gotta walk to work while all the Volvo drivers practically blaze by at 35 mph. In your mind’s eye, they laugh at you as it starts to rain. Your anxiety tells you they are ALL aiming for puddles near you, and the occasional sociopath WILL soak you for his or her amusement.

But then the shop owner calls. Your chariot awaits! You go down to the shop, pay the exorbitant bill, and fire up that 16-cylinder Italian ego trip.

“I’ve missed you, Farrah,” you say, not caring about the look the shop owner gives you. If HE had a Ferrari, he’d name her Farrah, too. Your foot barely taps her gas pedal and she purrs delightedly. She’s missed you, too.

“Good girl,” you say, then ease Farrah’s shifter into first, the action so smooth that instinct alone tells you that she’s out of neutral. You pull out of the shop’s parking lot and into traffic. At first, she’s just glad to be off of that horrible rack and back on the road where she belongs, but every red light, every school zone is an irritant, and sand only makes pearls in oysters. Sand in an engine is death, but Farrah complies and stays below the speed limit… for now.

As you pull into the parking lot at work, all eyes turn to you and your beautiful machine. You pull into your space and reach for the key to kill her ignition, but you stop short.

“It’s been so long. Just once,” she begs. “Pretty please?”

You know this is how it starts, but you’re still in control. Just once won’t hurt anything, right? It’s not like you’re doing anything dangerous. Besides, what’s the point in owning a car like Farrah if you can’t show her off?

With Farrah’s gears in neutral, your foot presses hard on her accelerator and her engine screams ecstatically. Those who weren’t looking before certainly are now. Many are impressed. Many others are jealous. And Farrah, at long last, feels warm and tingly.

“Mmm… baby,” she purrs. “You’re the only one who knows how to touch me right. Again. Please.”

“Sorry, babe,” you say, a little defeated. “I gotta go to work now.”

Farrah pouts as you shut off the engine, sputtering just a little to let you know she’s put out. You promise her a full tank of premium and a stretch of deserted highway tonight followed by a loving sponge bath. You know that will make her happy, but she’s still sulking.

When five o’clock rolls around, you dash into the parking lot to find Farrah waiting. It’s a beautiful day, so you decide a little sun would be good for you both. You drop her top, fire up her engine and gun the accelerator—just a little—as you exit the parking lot. No harm done, and at last you’re out on the open road where both of you are more happy… for all of about twenty seconds.

Gridlock. No one’s going anywhere fast. The traffic jam drives you nuts, but you try to smile regardless. You’ve gotten so many “nice car, man” comments from the Volvos that your ego has slipped into overdrive. Eventually, though, it gets old. You’re sick of hearing how nice your car is. You wanna FEEL how nice she is, and in this traffic, how can you? You can’t even get out of first gear! You’ve got to MOVE!

Speed isn’t Farrah’s only good quality. She maneuvers like… well… like a gdamn Ferrari! Each time you see an opening in traffic, you seize it. At first, you make sure there’s plenty of space, but soon ANY amount of space is enough as long as it moves you forward. Other drivers stop saying “nice car” and start saying “watch it, a-hole!”

“Fuc.. them,” Farrah says. “They’re just jealous, baby.”

Finally, you come upon a stretch of open highway, just begging to be devoured. You stomp Farrah’s accelerator and instantly know that what she said is true. Who wouldn’t be jealous of this speed? This freedom?

“At last!” she screams as you tear away from the nightmare behind you. The wind whips your hair as the speedometer climbs. This is what she’s DESIGNED to do, you tell yourself. It’s just you and Farrah and all is well in the world. You drive off into the sunset, victorious, just like in the movies.

But real life isn’t the movies, and sunset only means the end of the day, not the end of the film. You pull into your garage and park Farrah for the night. You have to work in the morning, but you’re too wired to sleep. You try watching TV. You try a hot shower. Nothing works. Sleep just won’t come, not with Farrah calling to you from the garage.

“Sleep is for those Volvo people,” she says, spitting out the word Volvo as if it had the arsenic taste of bitter almonds. “You’re better than them, baby. All you need is me. Come on. Let’s go for a drive.”

But you know better. You’ve been down this road before. With the help of a few Benadryl, you ignore her voice and drift off, but your sleep isn’t like real sleep. Your body lays motionless but your mind spins like a screeching tire. Dreams and reality melt together for a few fitful hours of sleep and traffic nightmares.

You’re awake long before sunrise, but you force yourself to stay in bed until the alarm goes off, then you’re up in a flash. You sing in the shower. You skip breakfast. You rush to the garage.

“Good morning, sexy,” she says. “Ready to play?”

“Are you?” you ask, smirking as you sink into a kid leather bucket seat that fits you like a glove. You deftly slip your key in her ignition and give it a twist. As you pull on your driving gloves, the temperature gauge begins to rise. “Like that, do you?”

“Sailor baby, you get me hotter than Georgia asphalt,” she purrs.

You bet your sweet a-h I do, you think as the garage door rises to release you from your prison. Your house isn’t your home. Here with her. This is home. This is where you belong.

Now, there are two different ways this scenario can end…

END #1

The garage door is barely up before you’re skidding out of the garage and into… another fu–ing traffic jam! No! No no no no NO NO NO!!! You honk madly. Farrah’s engine growls at any Volvos who get too close. The admiration in the Volvo drivers’ eyes is gone. Today, they look upon you with fear, but you don’t give a damn. They’re just in your way, anyway, right? One Volvo tries to pull in front of you. You stomp the accelerator and he weaves out of your way just in time.

“My lane, a-hole,” you shout. “Mine!”

Your lane or not, the traffic light turns red and you’re stuck. Time stands still. You scream and rev your engine, both you and Farrah quickly reaching redline. The temperature warning light comes on, but you ignore it. It just wants to slow you down, too. You smell oil smoke, but don’t care.

“Go baby,” Farrah shrieks. “Go! Go! GOOOO!”

KABLAM!

Something snaps. Thick gray smoke boils from the engine compartment. Farrah’s engine chokes and sputters as the light turns green. She’s got just enough strength to ease to the side of the road.

“This is all your fault,” she says, dying. You weep at what your anger has done.

The tow truck guy clucks his tongue as he winches Farrah’s front end into the sky. “Damn shame,” he says. “Such a nice car.”

In your mind, you finish his sentence. If only you knew how to treat it.

Welcome back to depression.

Or, it could end like this…

END #2

The garage door is barely up before you’re skidding out of the garage and onto the open road. Your floor it and Farrah jumps over the speed limit like an antelope. There’s no traffic, no cops, nothing but miles of open road. You cut each corner closer, but not because you’re out of control. You do it because you’re fucking amazing! Every move you make is the right one. The world is yours and everything is perfect…

…until you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere during a thunderstorm and have to walk to the nearest payphone (you forgot your cell in your hurry to hit the road) only to find you don’t have any change, so you have to walk all the way back to your house. Once at your house, you reach into your pocket and find that you’ve lost your keys somewhere along the way.

Welcome back to depression.

George Carlin, one of the funniest men to ever live, once said that the cliché phrase “more than happy” sounded like a medical condition.” Well, he was right. “More than happy” is called euphoria, and euphoria is sometimes a symptom of a manic episode. Sometimes, bipolar disorder feels WONDERFUL. At the beginning of the upswing, you have hypomania, and hypomania can be very, very good. It’s your chance to really shine.

Sometimes, when you’re hypomanic, you are the life of the party—charming, witty, friendly and filled with energy. Your mind becomes razor sharp, your reflexes like those of a kung fu master. You make friends easily, accomplish incredible amounts of work, and have flashes of brilliance that astound and amaze everyone around you. I LOVE it when hypomania works that way!

Sometimes, however, it doesn’t. Sometimes when you’re hypomanic, you are the total buzzkill—cranky, bitter, sullen… and yet still filled with energy. Your mind is sharp, but it’s your tongue that’s the razor. You’re nerves are so jittery you twitch. Fine silk feels like sandpaper against your skin. You still have that keen focus, but all you focus on is the neighbor’s g-damn stereo and if you had one ounce less of willpower, you’d crash right over and shove the thing straight up his a-h. But that wouldn’t fix the problem, because dammit, you’re pissed and you’re gonna stay that way. I HATE it when hypomania works that way.

Now, if you’re bipolar type II like me, hypomania is the ceiling. You hit it, stay there for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks (depending on how rapidly you cycle) and then spiral back down into depression. If you’re type I bipolar, then hypomania is just the beginning.

Hypomania basically means “little mania,” so for a full-tilt manic episode, take my description of hypomania and magnify it exponentially: the occasional sleepless night becomes days on end without sleep; the occasional ego trip gives way to full-blown narcissism and delusions of grandeur; euphoria becomes psychosis; irritability becomes hostility and anxiety becomes outright paranoia. Some even experience hallucinations.

No matter how high the ladder goes, unless you drop dead from exhaustion (which does happen occasionally) or wrap your Ferrari around a tree (yes, those on the upswing really do tend to speed) then you’re going to find yourself right back where you started. For some, that’s a relatively normal mood. For others, it’s welcome back to depression. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

And on that note, I hope you, my readers, have enjoyed the ride. I’ll be taking a break from this blog now, but I’m sure I’ll be back I’ve got so many other stories, poems, screenplays and articles to write. I’ve got sketches to draw and music to compose. I’ve got a life without bipolar disorder… or at least a life without thinking about it all the time.

The one thing I want you to remember most of all is that NO ONE IS A DISEASE. They are a person with a disease. Their disease is not their life, at least not unless they allow it to be. Don’t do that, folks. It sucks. Be people. People are OK unless they won’t turn their g-damn stereos down.

Keep fighting, folks!

-Bruce Anderson