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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.’

Bipolar II Rant from a Bipolar I

Ranting on Bipolar II

For starters – this is a pure opinion piece.  I am going to rant a bit about Bipolar II.

I read a lot of bipolar “stuff” – articles, study results, chat boards, Facebook pages – a lot.  Recently, once again, I have become irritated by the use of “Bipolar II”.

I recognize that Bipolar II is a DSM diagnosis that indicates that a person has cyclical periods of depression alternating with Bipolarity in Hellhypomania.  I know that is true – and that the diagnosis must fit some people. Bipolar I, on the other hand, is defined as cyclical periods of depression, alternating with manic episodes.  If you are a rapid cycler or have mixed state disorder – you are usually classified as Bipolar I.

My current irritation is with a story – not a celebrity this time – but an apparently real person from a news story.  The article reports that this particular woman had been diagnosed with Bipolar II when she was 20 and now 38, she is stable on a myriad of pharmaceuticals.  Fine.

The article goes on to say that she “experiences the manic phase” but mostly struggles with the severe depression, adding that she also has PTSD, anxiety and has been unemployed most of her life.  Let me repeat, she has manic phases, PTSD, and anxiety. She has always been unemployed (due to her psychiatric condition).  Doesn’t sound very stable to me…and doesn’t sound much like Bipolar II.

I have a problem with the fact that so many stories I read are about people who claim to have Bipolar II, and are careful to clarify that they don’t have Bipolar I.  Naturally, this would be a kinder, gentler form of Bipolar disorder.  A Bipolar disorder where we never bother anyone, get lots of stuff done in an organized fashion but sometimes get depressed.  A Bipolar disorder that makes us “better”.  Better than Bipolar I’s craziness – and even better than regular people.

I don’t live in that world, and I am not truly convinced that it exists.  I have known lots of people with Bipolar disorder – in fact, I used to go to a group just for people with Bipolar disorder.  Every single person there was initially told they were Bipolar II – and then once they got used to that… the real news came out.

Many of us were “high functioning”, many of us had “good jobs”, many of us were “organized”… except when we weren’t.  We didn’t come to the bipolar group because things were going great.  We had all had periods of depression, periods of extreme productivity and periods of crazy when we told the truth.

Bipolar RantIn my experience, people with Bipolar disorder don’t seek help.  They are driven to it – or dragged.  People are driven to help when they are depressed, and they are dragged to help when they are manic.  If they arrive when depressed, they don’t report the mania that gets them a Bipolar II diagnosis.  If they arrive when they are manic – they won’t listen to anything about “crazy manic depression” so they are told about how much better Bipolar II is.  They will take the diagnosis and take the meds.  Either way, the first diagnosis is probably going to be Bipolar II.

I could claim to be Bipolar II.  I could even get a couple of doctors to agree with me.  Most of the time, I am “high functioning” – except when I am not.  Bipolar I won’t ever lose the stigma if Bipolar II continues to be presented as “better” and people continue to be dishonest.

Take your meds!

Melissa Lind

New Online Tools for Anxiety Disorders

What can online tools for Anxiety Disorders do for free?

There has been a dramatic upsurge in websites, smartphone apps and hi-tech gadgets to monitor health conditions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and calorie output – all physical measurementsMental health doesn’t easily lend itself to computer monitoring.  Most people who need intervention go to a therapist or other mental health professional.  When that isn’t affordable, people usually “go it alone” which can have disastrous results.

Online Tools for Anxiety DisordersA new company “Joyable”, is developing an online web platform for people with anxiety disorders.  The company is a start-up venture that aims to create online tools for a variety of mental health conditions.  So far, they have raised over $2 million from Venture Capitalists – and “Angel Investors” which may bode well for additional funding.  Joyable will be starting with Social Anxiety Disorder but plans expansion into other conditions such as generalized anxiety, OCD, PTSD and others.  The big problem with this development is that it isn’t cheap.

The company plans to offer their online tools for a significant cost of $99 / month. Though hi-tech has entered the medical field in other areas, costs are usually low, if not free and available on a smartphone.  The developers state that their program is usable on a smartphone or tablet through the internet. They also have plans to develop a native app for smartphones and tablets as well, but they will probably still charge for the service.

The NIH reports that 15 million Americans may suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder but only about 15 percent of those are adequately treated – leaving 12 million or so, with unattended issues.  The good news is that there are online tools for people with a variety of mental health conditions, and some of those are free.

Not to disparage therapy – but a lot of it is talk and even with insurance, it can be expensive.  You talk, the therapist talks, you talk, the therapist listens.  If you are in group therapy – you also have to listen while others talk.  Sometimes the problems match your own; sometimes they don’t.  In a lot of cases, you may be able to get some insight from hearing others talk about the same thing – but the best information is stuff that you learn about yourself.

The best place to start looking for help online is through forums – nearly always free.  You can find plenty of people with nearly any mental disorder that you can chat with and take or leave the advice as you want.  There is also no shortage of educational – and even entertaining websites (like this one) that offer information, quizzes, daily planning – all for free.

Smartphone for Anxiety DisorderIf you are willing to pay a bit, there are online therapists who are cheaper than going to an office.  Therapists who will attend you privately on the computer – or even by phone.  Joyable is planning on offering three categories of activities – education, cognitive exercises, and behavioral activities.  They plan to have “coaches” who are “empathetic” and “good listeners” – trained by the company.

Psychologists oversee the program, but it is not very likely that you will get personal attention from a licensed professional.   With a little bit of work, you can probably get much of the same service at a low cost – or even without spending a dime. But for the future, the attention that the service may bring might provide promise and signal hope for people with mental disorders.

One development often leads to another. An App, even at a cost may provide assistance for those who won’t otherwise receive adequate care – particularly with disorder such as PTSD that don’t often get enough or the right kind of attention.  For now, you can probably skip the cost – and gather up the services yourself.

Melissa Lind

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

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