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post traumatic stress disorder

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

Borderline Personality Disorder or Traumatic Stress Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder – What if it is a traumatic stress disorder?

When most people think of Borderline Personality Disorder – they think of bad behavior.  It is someone that is very difficult to deal with, someone that you have to be on guard against, Borderline Disordersomeone who will try their best to manipulate you.
But, while that may be the outcome, just like most psychiatric disorders, it isn’t exactly their fault.

One of the problems with BPD is that since it is a “personality disorder“, there is often no recognized medical treatment.

We simply expect that the patient should self-monitor and control their behavior.  Therapy may help this, but how many of us (psychiatric patients, in general) really want to go to therapy.

Many of us have already spent hundreds of hours with a therapist – who may or may not help.  In addition, the best therapists are likely people who can “see through the bullshit” and refuse to be manipulated.  This obviously goes against the nature of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.

In fact, the stigma is so bad that some therapists won’t even work with Borderline patients.

Co Morbid DisordersOne theory may help.  Some therapists have developed an automatic assumption that a Borderline patient is also a trauma victim.  While this co-morbid condition may not always be true, it can help some therapists feel more comfortable treating the patient.

Due to many soldiers returning from impossible battlefields in the Middle East, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is fairly well recognized.  Remember; I am not saying that it is easily treatable, but to some extent, the stigma is less.

When therapists look at Borderline patients as truly a PTSD patient, they may be more willing to treat the disorder. And they will attempt to get to the underlying causes of abandonment, impulsive and destructive issues, loss of control and poor self-image.

While PTSD is well defined by the professional psychiatric community, a longer-term disorder currently known as complex traumatic disorder is not.  Most examples of CTSD still involve soldiers, or they may involve women who had difficult pregnancies or who were violently sexually abused, repeatedly.

However, what if you don’t fit any of those recognized categories?

There are more ways to treat traumatic stress disorders such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or a newer one, Dialectical Behavior TherapyDBT focuses on four major areas:

•    Regulation of emotionsPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder
•    Tolerance for distress
•    Interpersonal effectiveness
•    Mindfulness

Unlike CBT, there is no “processing” component – making it work well as an initial treatment, starting before the patient has developed coping skills.  It builds up the feeling of emotional safety so that coping skills may develop.

Differentiating between “plain” Borderline patients – and those whose behavior is brought on by traumatic experience may help to eliminate some of the stigma still associated with BPD.  It may also offer actual, more effective treatment than CBT or other approaches.

Melissa Lind

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Mental Health

Mental Health and Childhood Sexual Abuse – Don’t Carry the Secret

Recently I saw something on Facebook that was very sad.  It was a video of a 50 plus year old man named Scott – also called “Spider,” who told the story of his life through written cards, in a fashion similar to Ben Breedlove’s “This is my story” about his heart condition. In the video, this tough looking man, confessed the trauma of his own sexual abuse and the damage it had done to him over the years – drug abuse, divorce, culminating in an arrest for beating his child’s sexual predator with a bat.

The story was naturally sad but is all too common.  In fact, statistics shows that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested by the age of 18 and worse for girls with 1 in 3.  The other sad fact is that many, many children who are sexually abused don’t tell anyone.  Either they are threatened or ashamed – or both.  They carry the secret for much of their lives.

Trauma, abuse, neglect – biology didn’t account for its infliction on children.  As children, our brains develop best in a loving,
supportive environment with plenty of nutritional food and quality exercise so that our bodies become the best they can be.  Childhood Trauma - Mental HhealthAround the world we see the damage that poor nutrition, neglect and physical abuse can do to children.  What is not so obvious is the damage wreaked by sexual abuse – it is a hidden traumaSexual abuse is hidden by the child, hidden from the adults, hidden from other children, and sometimes even hidden by the child’s memory.

Secrets are always dark.  Carrying secrets can ruin a relationship or ruin a career.  Carrying secrets imposes a burden of stress on your body – your heart doesn’t work as well, your adrenal system gets burned out, your sleep is affected.  Carrying a secret like that can change a child’s brain.

Studies have shown that abuse or childhood trauma actually causes physical changes to the developing brain.  It can make the child unable to grow to what they would have been.

So what does this have to do with mental health?

The effects of childhood trauma are hard to predict.  Mental health is hard to identify – particularly the cause.  In some cases, we can easily point to the parents and say “Mom and Grandma have clinical depression; it is no surprise that the daughter has depression.”  Schizophrenia has been shown to be driven by over 100 genes and a child with one schizophrenic person has a 13 percent chance of developing the disorder.  Some people are “born” alcoholics in that they are missing an enzyme that allows them to process alcohol properly and will nearly always become addicted if they drink.

In other cases – we can’t identify the cause.  You have some cases of mental disorders that develop in people with perfect childhoods.  You have people with horrible experiences who are remarkably healthy – rare, but true.  In many cases though, someone with a history of child abuse will develop some mental disorder – but the type is very hard to predict.

In “Spider’s” case, he became a drug addict, had an anger problem and felt that he had to prove he could “conquer” women (his own words), leading to the destruction of his family.  Likely he suffered from depression, anxiety disorder, and possibly Mental Health - Child AbusePost-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Telling the “secret”, not carrying the weight may, just may have kept him from his self-destructive behavior.  Unfortunately, it may not have stopped his daughter from being a victim, but it might have allowed him better tools than a bat to deal with her problem.

In severe cases, extreme trauma can actually cause the personality to “split,” in “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID), which was previously called “Multiple Personality Disorder” (MPD).

(Photo-source: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/08/scott_spider_spideralamode_facebook_molest.php)

Sexual abuse has another problem – that children are often disbelieved which worsens the trauma.  Unlike physical abuse, unlike neglect, unlike starvation – there are no “obvious” signs.  There are signs, but you have to know what they are.  Children who have been sexually abused do exhibit signs:

•    changes in behavior or personality type – a normally outgoing child becomes withdrawn, a normally gregarious child becomes angry and sullen
•    bed wetting and nightmares (oddly the bed-wetting may be punished)
•    refusal to go to school, church, sports or club activities or to a certain friend’s house
•    sudden clinginess or a sudden desire to be left alone

Too often, adults don’t ask.  Too often, children don’t tell.  Sadly, sometimes adults won’t listen.  If you know of a child that has
sudden behavioral changes – ask.  If you are an adult, believe.  If you are a victim, tell.  Even at a late date, telling can change your life and resolve some of your “issues.” I think in the end, “Spider’s” main message was “tell your kids to tell.”

What does this have to do with mental health?

Sexual abuse can contribute to:

PTSD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia, Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Attachment Disorder… and many more.

History of Child Abuse – Free PDF

Melissa Lind

Zoloft for a Treatment of Depression

Is it safe to use Zoloft for a treatment of depression?

Zoloft is a common antidepressant that doctors prescribe for the treatment of depression and depression symptoms. Zoloft is a very gentle antidepressant but has a powerful effect as well.

Depression and ZoloftZoloft can start working in as little as a week, although it could take up to three weeks to feel the symptoms of depression easing. Zoloft is safe to take for an extended period; however, one should never stop taking Zoloft “cold turkey.”

It isn’t addictive, in the truest sense of the word, but Zoloft is an SSRI, which means that it is forcing a change in the brain chemistry. Because of this, your doctor will most likely “wean” your body off of Zoloft slowly by reducing the dosages, and allowing your brain to do more of the work without help from the medication.

Zoloft is not just prescribed for the treatment of depression. Research has also found that it is a suitable medication for the treatment of panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

There are side effects associated with the use of Zoloft. These include impotence and/or changes in sex drive and libido, upset stomach, drowsiness, anxiety, irritability, urination problems, appetite changes, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, blurred vision, nightmares, insomnia, hair loss, dry mouth, sweating, muscle spasms, slowed speech, irregular heartbeat, and tremors.

Symtoms of DepressionBefore taking Zoloft, your doctor needs to know if you have a history of mania, suicidal thoughts, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, seizures, enlarged prostate, urination problems, thyroid problems, or glaucoma.

Despite the potential side effects, most people don’t have any trouble with Zoloft, and it is one of the most-prescribed drugs for the treatment of depression. It is also considered one of the safest drugs for depression treatment. If you suffer from depression, you should definitely discuss Zoloft with your physician.

Zoloft for depression treatment despite potential side effects

Getting Out of Depression

Some tips to get you out of depression

Major depression is the third most common mental disorder in the US.  Nearly 7 percent of the US population is affected in any one year.  Incidentally, if you are keeping track, the two most common mental disorders are Anxiety disorders and Phobia disorders, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Major Depression, also called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) has an average onset of 32 years of age and is more common in women than in men.  It is also called “unipolar depression” by those who are familiar with Bipolar disorder.  It may include a subset of depressive disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects people yearly – usually in the winter and Dysthymic Disorder, which is a less severe form of depression.

In order to be diagnosed with Major Depression, a person must meet the DSM criteria including at least five of the following for at least two weeks:
•    Depressed mood most of the day
•    Diminished interest in all or most activities
•    Significant, unintentional weight loss or gain
•    Insomnia or sleeping too much
•    Agitation or psychomotor retardation (slow movement) noticeable by others
•    Fatigue
•    Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
•    Diminished ability to think or indecisiveness
•    Suicidal thoughts

In some cases, depression can be relieved by changes in lifestyle or with psychotherapy, but in severe cases – medication may be warranted.  We are fortunate today in that there are a number of effective medications that have fewer side effects than previous treatments, and the category continues to evolve.

Even with medication – that may not begin working for at least several weeks – some lifestyle changes, and habits may help a person “emerge” from their depression and manage symptoms in the future.

Major DepressionLifestyle changes are difficult, particularly when depressed, but the effort it takes to “soldier through” is worth it in the end.  These tips for helping with depression are not easy – especially when you do not have any energy and don’t feel like getting up, but even though they may not provide a cure – they almost always provide some help.

  1. Get up and move – this is the hardest for most people to do.  It may take a tremendous amount of efforts but even simply getting off the couch or out of bed and walking around the house will help.  Getting up and moving around will increase your blood flow and heart rate will help increase blood flow to your brain and may convince your body that “hibernation” is over.
  2. Get dressed – you may have been wearing the same clothes for many days.  Changing into a “daytime” outfit can help regulate your time clock and may help you feel like you can accomplish something.  If you wear makeup or fix your hair, do so – and by all means, take a shower.
  3. Get out in the sun – don’t stay long enough to get a sunburn but studies have shown that bright light helps your brain wake up.  It resets your internal clock by adjusting your melatonin levels (a hormone responsible for inducing sleep).  It also triggers a “springtime” effect – that again tells your brain and body that winter is over, and it is time to come out of hibernation.
  4. Talk to a friend – making a phone call may not be tops on your mind, but even a wordless chat can help you feel like someone else is aware of your existence.
  5. Watch something enjoyable – even if you don’t want to enjoy anything, do something that would normally make you happy.  Just a little bit of happiness peeking through can go a long way.
  6. Go to bed and get out of bed at normal hours – sleep patterns are often destroyed by depression.  Reestablishing those normal patterns will help reset your internal clock to a natural level.
  7. Don’t take naps – again with both the normal sleeping hours and with the “getting up.”  Reinforcing physiologic habits will help establish normal brain functioning.
  8. Eat healthily – you may want to eat everything, nothing, or only certain foods.  Likely, no matter how much or how little you are eating, you are deficient in some of the necessary vitamins and nutrients – so eating a healthy diet and taking a multivitamin mineral supplement is a good idea.  B vitamins are especially helpful to restore nerve cell functioning, C and E are useful for combating inflammation that can cause sluggishness, D vitamins are useful to aid in the “sunlight” phenomenon discussed before, Calcium and Magnesium are good for the brain cells which are malfunctioning.

Most people who are depressed will find a lot of these activities difficult – and you may only be able to do one or two a day.  None of this is meant to be insulting, but there is science behind all of it – and others have been through it before.
With the help from the medication and the lifestyle adjustments – you will feel like you are coming out of the fog – and be able to do all of them – or sometimes, choose not to.  Choosing not to do something is different than feeling like you are unable to do something – and you want to have control of your life.

– Melissa Lind