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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.’

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

Bipolar Disorder and Facebook – To Tell or Not to Tell

To Tell or Not to Tell – Bipolar Disorder on social media

I am an avid Facebook user.  Mostly I use it to amuse myself, keep up with old friends, get to know people who should be old friends but weren’t, update family on my kids and such… But, I also enjoy reading “pages” … pages about funny things and pages about serious things that only “we” understand are funny.  I am talking about bipolar” pages.

Facebook - Like PagesBecause Facebook lists updates of what pages you have “liked”, my relatives, who know I am bipolar, have been able to see that I am not keeping my disorder as a big secret from my social group.  Most everyone who is on my Facebook page already knows (or would guess) that I have bipolar disorder.  To them, it is not a big deal, it is just part of who I am, and in some ways actually explains part of who I am – manic-depressive, why I am the way that I am.

I bring this up because one of my “relatives” actually sent me an email “warning” me that I should “be careful” about what pages I frequent, referring to the bipolar pages.

That was one bit of unwelcome advice.  Another bit of advice might be to “unfriend” him or hide my activity from him.  I am NOT Bipolar - I have Bipolar DisorderHe is a close relative so “unfriending” him might cause problems.  I could hide my activity but have made a personal policy that if you are my “friend” then you can see my page.  I haven’t taken advantage of the “close friends”, “friends”, “acquaintances” – feature of Facebook – but then I don’t let anyone on my page unless they are actually someone I know.

The last bit of advice would be to ignore him.  Luckily, he is such a close relative that I have made a practice of ignoring his advice, as a child would ignore a parent.  I did just that – ignore him.

This situation was easy for me to solve under these particular circumstances but can be a lot of trickier.  I also belong to bipolar pages on LinkedIn, Google+ and other sites, and I sometimes wonder about the impact.  Fortunately, I happen to be a writer, and I am not in a situation where an employer (or potential employer) can make an objection to my diagnosis.

For others that are not the case – and it was not always the case for me.  There is still a huge stigma against bipolar disorder.  Technically, making an employment decision based on a mental diagnosis is illegal – it is against the ADA.

Technically, the employer could be in trouble for violation of federal law, but how many times do employers say outright” “I am not hiring you because…(insert problem here)”?  Likely they will not say anything – they just won’t hire you.  In some states, they can fire you for no reason (“at-will” employment states) or “not-for-cause”.

Technically, they should not hold this against you – if you are stable, and if you remain stable.  The question is – will you?  Hopefully, I will, but I can’t guarantee that.

Bipolar BearsIf I were looking for a job – a “real” job, I would seriously consider curtailing my social media and public announcements of “I am bipolar“.  As a writer – I shouldn’t do that, and I don’t.

You have to evaluate your particular situation.  Know that it is against the law to be discriminated against.  Know your history and likelihood that you will remain stable in your bipolar disorder and be able to do your job.  Decide whether a legal fight is worth it to you.  It may be; it might not be.  Decide whether you really want to work for someone who will hunt you down and discriminate against you based on the information they find.

For me, I am happy not being in a “real job “.  The same relative, full of warnings, is not happy about my lack of “real” employment – but I can just ignore him.  Either way, I am still Bipolar.

Melissa Lind

Psychiatric Disorders and Geniuses

A lot of people like to think of themselves as geniuses.  Probably even more people with psychiatric disorders like to think of themselves as geniuses.

MichelangoWho can blame us – with examples such as Albert Einstein, Edgar Allen Poe, Beethoven, Michaelangelo, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton… just to name a few.

As all of these stellar personalities are now deceased and most died before the advent of modern psychiatry, we can only surmise their disturbance – their genius however is clear.

Aristoteles, a Greek philosopher, once said, “There is no genius without having a touch of madness.”

Today, most who are diagnosed with a mental disorder– be it bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or even major depression, would be classified in previous times as “mad”.

A recent article in Psychiatric Times, by an actual physician – Nicholas Pediaditakis – attempts to link the occurrence of major mental disorders and geniusFreud called the difference in “temperament” of genius from that of “normal” people – “narcissistic neurosis”.

The basic theory as proposed by the author of the article says that people with certain mental disordersbipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD in particular – ‘tend to “think” the world rather than “feel” it.’  He goes on to say that many are dysphoric and tend towards feeling a void and aloneness within themselves which can often lead to substance abuse and suicide – all too true.  His conclusion is that these illnesses cause an absence of adherence to social norms, not because you want to, but because you have to – but that it frees up parts of the brain for creative processes.

In addition, many artists, actors, comedians, writers acknowledge that much of their creativity comes from painpsychic pain not physical pain that is often experienced by those with mental disorders. This doesn’t seem to translate to genius in science, math, or other concrete areas, but the idea of a mind that has free space to concentrate on specialty areas does fit.

While I, personally, find offense in part of his statement (the part about wanting to think rather than feel) – I also find it true.  I, and those I know, would rather “think” rather than “feel”, but often we feel too much and cannot stop.

Aside from my bristling at the implication that mental illness is a choice – I find it amusing that science may be able to prove that there is a “mad genius” in me – someday.

Melissa Lind

A genius with a psychiatric disorder.

Ellen Forney – Bipolar Artist and Author

A bipolar book by the cartoonist Ellen Forney

Nearly 3 percent of adults in the U.S. have bipolar disorder – and that is known cases.  The question might be – how many people have it that don’t know about it?  Still, 3 percent is quite high, and the World Health Organization lists Bipolar Disorder as the “sixth leading cause of disability in the world”.

People with Bipolar Disorder face innumerable challenges – some personal, some professional.  Aside from the daily struggle to come to terms with the mental illness and manage symptoms, relationships and medicationbipolars often face stigma in the “regular” world.  Whether it is family members, friends or work associates, unless they have bipolar disorder, they are likely to have a skewed image and often little understanding.

Bipolar-1 Disorder - Ellen ForneyCartoonist Ellen Forney, of Seattle Washington, also a teacher at the Cornish College of the Arts released a graphic memoir – a graphic novel produced in a manner similar to her other published work.  In it, she describes what it is like to be bipolar from her perspective and how she struggled to find the right treatment.  Forney, along with her book; “Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir” were recently featured in the Huffington Post.

Being of an odd combination of scientist and artist – and particularly nosy. (some would call it inquisitive – but I prefer just nosy)

I have read a lot of books on bipolar disorder. I have read professional journals, research papers, self-help books, and books written by people with bipolar disorder – most of which were supposed to explain the illness, how to treat it, or tell what it is like to be bipolar.

Some of the books were well written, some were sadly misguided.  The most famous book by Kay Redfield Jamison, “Unquiet Mind” is considered “THE” book by many people, professionals and patients alike.  Though it is well-written, educational, and true – it doesn’t always fit, and many who are bipolar probably can’t read it when they need to.

Ellen Forney’s book is different.  It isn’t a manual; it isn’t a self-help book, it is simply a terrific depiction of bipolar disorder and even if you aren’t bipolar yourself, you should check it out. It is worth a look.

Melissa Lind

“Sex in Comics:” The bipolar Ellen Forney and R. Crumb

•    “My own BRILLIANT UNIQUE personality was neatly outlined right there, in that inanimate stack of paper.”
•    “My PERSONALTY reflected a DISORDER…”
•    “… SHARED by a group of people.”
•    “This sank in like the sun had gone behind the clouds…”
•    “… like I`d been covered by a heavy blanket, like a parrot…”

Knowledge Conquer the Shame of Mental Disorder

People Do Not Understand Mental Illness

Article as text, and with Video for blind and partially sighted people (Text-to-Speech Video article)


Suicide is not a weak or cowardly person that takes the lightweight solution. Suicide is a result of a disease called depression. With increased knowledge, understanding, with an increased understanding the shame disappears.

Bipolarity - Catherine Zeta-JonesCatherine Zeta-Jones has got a place in our hearts. Now that she has stood out as a bipolar, we love her only more. She is not only a great artist, but a woman with courage, rant, empathy and honesty. She is a role model for all girls who grow up in the day, and a daughter-in-law all mothers want.

But what about the ordinary man or lady in the street that does not have any film career behind him or her, that is not a familiar face among the population?

To expect a person that we have never heard of, or meant something about, should open and stand naked in front of a whole country and tell about his (or her) inner hell, is a lot to claim. But it is needed to break down the taboo by having it painful.

The constant negativity is not something a depressed person has decided to have, but the result of the disorder depression.

And when it`s downward spiral no end will take, suicide thoughts come.
Suicide is not a selfish act!

Not Like in the Movies

People with cancer can also have good times, even though the physical pain is present. I think some program for people with a
mental disorder would have the same effect. It would scare away all horror stories about the psychiatric department is a “mad house” and that people with furthering psychosis are crazy.

It is no secret that people who have never experienced or seen mentally ill people at close range only refer to what they have seen the movie or even imagined. All based on the little knowledge they have about what a mental disorder is.

And just this little knowledge people who do not have experienced mental illness is sitting inside with, is crucial to do something about. With increased knowledge comes understanding. And with understanding it will be easier to deal with the shame for the mentally ill, and openness will appear.

A Taboos’ Disease

The question is how to reach out with this knowledge.

A solution could be to have designated subjects in high school that was mandatory for all Mental Disorder Taboostudents where they taught young people about what a mental disorder is. Inform about why it occurs, how to help people who suffer and how one can help themselves and seek help if they should be hit by a mental disorder.

A depression is not a bad day. A depression is not whining over a couple of weeks.
Depression is a disease in the head. A disease in the same line as cancer and other diseases that are not equally taboo’s.
If one is in a state of depression, one loses oneself? It can feel as if life is completely meaningless. One can’t get out of bed. Curtains are pulled down. Darkness – a depressive person wants the darkness.

SSRIs – Not a Pill of “Happiness”

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

The balance in the brain is gone, and it is here the anti-depressive pills come into the picture – a means to restore balance in the brain. But it is not a “pill of happiness“.

Pills don`t make you happy automatically. Antidepressant does only half the job. The psychologist can do something, your friends and family also, but the rest is up to the depressed him or herself.

The depressed must have determination of another world and a false belief that everything is going to be OK. For the depressed it never feels like anything it’s ever going to be OK again. The depressed will get a different view of the world than before, and the pain feels like unbearable.

We Must Try to Understand Mental Disorder!