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Archive for the ‘mental illness’ Category

The information and opinions I have previously posted on the antipsychotic Zeldox (Ziprasidone) (also called Geodon) have been the most popular posts on my blog by far therefore I’ve decided to publish a link to all three posts so searchers can view the maximum amount of information and comments from other users of this drug to aid their research.  It is vital that the side effects and experiences of the users of Zeldox are made available for public viewing to educate users about the good and bad experiences of Zeldox use. 

I was recently reminded of some of the side effects I experienced while taking Zeldox when the usual lump in my throat started to form.  I can almost feel it protruding from the back of my neck.  I am certain that this lump was never present before my Zeldox use and it’s been around 24 months since I’ve been Zeldox free yet the lump in my throat regularly continues to be an ever-present pain in the neck!

I realise that a lump in the throat also referred to a choking or gagging sensation can be attributed to anxiety but my point is that I NEVER suffered such acute anxiety until I starting using Zeldox.

One thing I distinctly remember is when it drew close to the time  my next dose  of Zeldox was scheduled the lump would appear and it became increasingly prevalent UNTIL I swallowed that daily pill.

It would be easy for me to say that around 1.5 hours PRIOR TO  my scheduled Zeldox dose I would start to go into withdrawal.

The lump in my throat and just a general feeling of sickness would become noticeable to me whereupon waiting out the timeframe until my scheduled dose was due would become a constant struggle to ignore what was happening to my body. 

It would be easy to say that the side effects of Zeldox would have been one of the most difficult of medications for me to cope with.  I have heard it said many a time that the strength in mental illness sufferers lies in coping with the side effects of  their medications and for me and Zeldox, this rings true.

The tremors in my hands and legs together with slight head bobbing had me eventually diagnosed with probable tardive diskinesia – a condition arising from long-term anti-psychotic use (I was prescribed various antipsychotics over a two-year period before Zeldox was my final).  My tremors on Zeldox were so bad that I was shaking the whole bed when asleep.  I remember waking up one night thinking there was an earth quake before I realised it was only me! 

Some people have queried how long it took for the drug to leave my system.  Once I stopped the Zeldox the tremors DRAMATICALLY reduced however I still had mild  tremor issues for a good EIGHT MONTHS after ceasing this drug.

The problem with proving that medications cause permanent/long-term side effects in users is very difficult simply because there are not a lot of psychiatrists out there that will stand against the mental health system or each other.  Trying to prove that Zeldox caused my anxiety would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack not to mention the money tree I’d need to grow in the backyard to afford the legal fees.

Regardless, the best thing we can all do as consumers is make the world aware of how medications affect us.  Just because the side effect is not listed on the box, doesn’t mean it’s not a result of the drug you’re taking so please if you’re interested in reading more about Zeldox/Ziprasidone/Geodon then be sure to read my earlier posts on my experiences with the drug and the comments by readers are an ABSOLUTE MUST.

Here are the links to my other posts on my experiences with Zeldox/Geodon (Ziprasidone) for your ready reference:

  1. Zeldox & Anger
  2. Zeldox & After Effects
  3. Zeldox A Worker’s Antipsychotic – TOP POST 46 COMMENTS & CLIMBING
  4. WOW – I hate this drug

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I received an email yesterday and thought I’d share it with you together with my reply:

“Dear X,

My name is X. I am almost certain now that I was born with a mental illness. I was diagnosed when I was thirty-five I am now forty-one.

I realised something was wrong when I was sixteen,and so began my personal war,I have fought with everything I have.But upon reaching the age of thirty-five it became worse, last year I had a nervous break down and at the same time lost my job my partner and my daughter moved to X  ,though my daughter now resides in X  again.They tell me I have a chronic depressive anxiety disorder but to me these are just words,words from doctors who cannot even begin to imagine what I have been through and continue to experience every night and day.There words don’t describe the hallucinations I have when my condition worsens the thousands of nightmares I’ve had since I was a child and continue to have, the living your life-like a frightened animal,the frustration and pain that never seems to leave,the unending list of things I could describe to you.Last year something changed inside me I got so sick I could never have imagined my illness could strike me so hard,I got worse,again.I went somewhere last year and parts of me didn’t come back and I know those parts,whatever they are,are not coming back.I am an alcoholic now,I have trouble going to work,some times I can’t go because the nightmares are so severe it’s like not sleeping at all I can’t go out, when I’m not at work I don’t leave my residence very much only when i have to.I am liked, I have family and friends without them and the fact I have lived with this thing for so long i probably wouldn’t be here.I havn’t slept well for nearly two years the thought of having a girlfriend again is unimaginable to me now,losing the last one,whom i loved with all my heart,to stand back and watch my beautiful girl change from the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known into an abusive blindly selfish hypocrite,along with my illness nearly destroyed me.But I fought it even when I felt I had no fight left in me,I survived something so disgusting within myself,but I don,t know how I did it.

My apologies for rambling on,the reason I contacted you is.I was wondering if you could tell me where i might go to find others like me in X. I live between X  and X .I think sometimes it may help because no one I know has any idea at all,this I have learned.I do realise I don’t do enough to help myself,partly because a part of me has given up and doesn,t care anymore I’m tired and I’m scared and I’m sick of fighting myself and having to hide from the world because I’m different and because I feel like I don’t belong.Would appreciate anything. X. ”

MY REPLY:

“Hi X,
 
Sounds like you have a lot of issues from childhood. My thoughts are that most issues we have as adults stem from childhood anyway – especially addictions.
 
I can suggest that if you are an alcoholic or you have issues with your drinking then you really need to join AA. There you will find a great bunch of people trying to stop their addiction (or their demons) and working on their issues that stem back to childhood. AA is a program that works if you work at it. I am in other 12 Step Programs and my life was always unmanageable and full of depression and anxiety every day until I joined a 12 Step Program and realised where my thought patterns (self-defeating) came from.
 
If you get your drinking under control you can focus more on your depression and anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant, it will make you worse and will hamper any other drugs from working that you are taking for your mental illnesses. You might also want to get some counselling in conjunction with AA. Find a counsellor or psychologist who understands mental illness and addiction for you are self medicating.
 
You will always be living in a hole until you decide it’s time to get out.
 
First things first, go to an AA meeting X – there you will find hope. AA will teach you healthy ways of behaving and dealing with your problems/worries. You can get a sponsor, someone to call when you feel like a drink or simply just feel like hell. 
 
Good luck with it all, I am confident it will work for you. ”

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I was reading some Twelve Step literature yesterday and related to a member’s share about wishing themselves away to another place or wishing they’d never wake up.

I remembered when I was young and had returned home from staying at my grandparents or my aunt’s house that I’d try and wish myself back to where I’d been. I’d dream of being in the room where I slept or being around the people I’d been with. I’d want to be anywhere but at home with my parents.

As an adult I did that too. I often dreamed/fantasized I was in a sanitarium taking a break from all the pain in my life or in hospital where I could just forget what was going on at home and take a break.

My memory made me wonder why as a child I would want to wish myself away from home so often. I must have hated it there so much and that troubles me as an adult today.

You see, I am like many other adult children, I can see some of my past but I can’t feel it. The memories are like a moving picture in my head with no emotion attached. Lack of feeling I believe is why many adult children say their childhood “wasn’t that bad”. They can’t remember the pain, they learned to stuff their feelings down inside themselves to cope, they minimised, denied or dissociated from their feelings/their reality.

There must have been a trigger in my readings last night for after I had finished sharing on Step 1 my partner and I went off to a new hotel that had just opened in our area. We did a little tour of the venue and as I walked into the pokie room I felt immediate anxiety. It was out of the blue, I am certain I was cool, calm and collected prior to entry for I would never had agreed to go out had I felt anxious.

My eyes averted from everyone in the room, my head went down, I felt a fear that someone would recognise me in that room but I had nothing to fear for if anyone did recognise me they would most certainly not be from my childhood nor a threat to me for I was on the opposite side of the city from where I grew up and it was now 26 years later!

The pokie room connected to the sports bar – uh oh! I could see all the men sitting at the table watching the various gambling results on TV, I could smell the beer in the air and I was terrified one of the men would gaze at me. Next stop was the bar – I couldn’t get away, I had to keep walking forward to get out as the hotel was circular.  The smell of beer was revolting and the eyes that looked my way drew a lump to my throat.

I drew a breath of air when we hit the bistro area and decided to sit down and have a cuppa. I was tense but I tried my best to hide it. A woman kept looking at me – did I know her? What was she gawking at! A man with his pants hanging down showing his crack walked past – a reminder of my father’s drunken days. I wanted to yell at him to sober up and pull his finger out!

My Bach Flower Remedy wasn’t working too well and I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough.

I tried to think of other things when I got home that night to calm my anxiety.

I cannot pinpoint the exact problem behind my reaction in the hotel however it is possible it was something to do with when I was bullied as a child. I have determined this because when I walked into the pokie room it was the females I was fearful of being known to, not the males. It was a small group of females who bullied me at school when I was a young teenager and who also lived a few streets from my childhood home. I felt I could not even go out to the shops around the corner from my home because I would be spotted and taunted or beaten up. The fear of being seen by my bullies haunted me for years and still can from time to time. As an adult I looked over my shoulder  for years and even now I still don’t feel safe around the places where I grew up. I can drive through them but hell would freeze over before I got out of the car!

I am now living in the opposite side of the city from my old home.  I feel safe here and I feel safe in the fact that 26 or so years later my face and the faces of my bullies have changed and are most likely not recognisable.

Bullying not only cripples the child but goes on to affect them in adulthood too. I understand there is minimal research into this claim however when I was facilitating an adult mental health support group, a good portion of members had been bullied as children.

Schools have a lot to answer for however I do believe our coping mechanisms begin at home.

Thanks for reading 🙂 

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I recently responded to a request for experience strength and hope in dealing with toxic families who have mental illnesses and possible personality disorders. This is what I said:
 
“I have a fair bit of experience with mental illness as it runs in my family of origin (depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia) plus I have depression and anxiety & mild agoraphobia and was wrongly treated for bipolar disorder for 2 years and my partner has depression and mild anxiety.
 
I also run a mental illness support group.
 
Firstly I don’t know how your husband’s family of origin act (if it is manipulative or aggressive for example) but I have found that dealing with people who are manipulative/aggressive,  I need to stay away for my own mental wellbeing. I have dealt with around 4-5 people in 2 years with Borderline Personality Disorder and I swore never to do it again for they have issues with anger and I would often be the butt of it. To me, those types of behaviours can be destructive to my mental wellbeing and I choose to distance myself from people who have personality disorders, especially ones who have not done D.B.T to help them control their emotions.
 
On the other hand depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and bipolar sufferers are somewhat “normal” and I find it easier to converse with them possibly because I understand how they feel and I can often make allowances for their behaviours if I know they are acting out of character.
 
My grandmother has schizophrenia and when she is not herself I feed sad for her and my mother helps her to ensure she gets the right medication to make her well again as the effects of her illness are apparent to my mother and her sisters and they accept it as part of life.
 
My counsellor on the other hand told me stay away from mentally ill people because they can “zap” me of my energy and serenity and are very needy however if I wanted to continue with the support group then I would need to learn to distance myself or not absorb the negative energy mentally ill people can give off. I chose the latter and being a “fixer”, it is very hard not to want to “fix” everyone who is sick and close myself off to their internal pain.
 
I do have a friend who is very negative when she emails me (she has bad depression/PTSD) and through this Program I learnt to stand back and let her go her on own journey for I was unable to convince her that I had already been there and done that and it became very frustrating for me. Now if she asks me questions I give her honest answers but I let her travel her own mental illness path. I also talk positive to her (and quite often repeat program talk to her) for I feel that is the best way I can keep encouraging her to move forward.
 
I have learnt that a lot of mental illness sufferers have their illness because of difficult experiences in their childhood and a lot sufferers would benefit greatly from 12 Step Programs. I don’t think it’s their fault (for it’s not mine that I was brought up in an alcoholic home) but understanding where it stems from helps me feel compassion for people who are in the same boat as me.”

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Went to my very first codependency 12 Step meeting yesterday.

I was very surprised about how much I related to people’s shares and the readings and how much of my behaviour was codependent behaviour.

Who would have thought that the need to come bearing gifts when I visited people was codependent behaviour. Apparently the reasoning behind always needing to bring something with me when I attended someone’s home was about an inner need to be accepted by others for who I am and wanting people to like me.  I had always thought bringing a gift for the host was polite and a wonderful trait I had inherited from my mother!

Here are some of the patterns of codependent behaviour that I identified with:

  • I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the wellbeing of others;
  • I have difficulty making decisions;
  • I judge everything I think, say or do harshly as never good enough;
  • I am embarrassed to receive recognition, praise or gifts;
  • I do not ask others to meet my needs and desires;
  • I value others approval of my thinking, feelings and behaviour over my own;
  • I do not perceive myself as a loveable or worthwhile human being;
  • I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger;
  • I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same;
  • I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long;
  • I value others’ opinions and feelings more than my own;
  • I put aside my own interests in order to do what others want;
  • I become resentful when others will not let me help them;
  • I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked;
  • I lavish gifts and favours on those I care about; and
  • I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.

The people were all very nice and welcoming and they understood how I was on a journey to figure out who I was for they too were on the same journey.

I observed that the majority of members had anxiety, depression and/or agoraphobia. I later asked my counsellor why this was (as I too have had these illnesses for a number of years now) and she said it was as a result of their codependency.

So not only has my upbringing blessed me with behavioural issues I need to rid myself of, it has contributed to my mental illnesses too.

It’s probably fairly likely that if I worked on my codependency issues, I could rid myself of depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.

My whole recovery journey is certainly an eye opener and sometimes it is more comfortable putting my head back in the sand but I know that behaviour will only prolong misery.

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As I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and various OCD symptoms such as the need to have things orderly, clean and perfect, I was wondering whether love and sex addiction is classed a form of OCD.

Some experts believe that sexual addiction is literally an addiction, directly analogous to alcohol and drug addictions. Other experts believe that sexual addiction is actually a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and refer to it as sexual compulsivity.

The American Psychiatric Association has proposed that out-of-control sexual appetites be included as a diagnosis in the next edition of the psychiatrists’ bible, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” to be published in 2013.

I located a very helpful article outlining the difference between sexual thoughts and compulsions being an addiction or an obsessive compulsive disorder. It is of course only one person’s view on the subject.

Here’s an extract of the article which summarises the outcome:

It cannot be overemphasized that the sexual obsessions in OCD are the opposite of the usual sexual daydream or fantasy. Normal sexual fantasies are enjoyable and generally harmless. They may consist of wishes or memories of past sexual experiences. However, the sexual ideation in OCD is unpleasant and distressing. The individual with OCD does not want the thought to become real. The idea of acting out the obsession fills the OCD victim with dread. Sexual obsessions in OCD rarely produce sexual arousal because anxiety and arousal cannot occupy the same space. As a result, OCD usually decreases sex drive. OCD sexual obsessions result in guilt, shame, and interfere with ocial functioning or work. Source:

Love Addiction

While I am unable to speak for the sex addict, to my knowledge and experience, love addicts (who can also act out sexually) do not have decreased sexual desire when in the midst of their fantasy or addiction nor do their experiences feel unpleasant or distressing.

I am lead to believe that love addiction stems from unmet childhood needs.  For example, codependent mum is too busy with alcoholic dad to worry about children therefore children use fantasy as a way to meet their unmet needs and as escapism from a difficult family environment.

There are various types of love addicts, here’s a link to help you figure out which one you might be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_addiction

Healing from Sex/Love Addiction

Start by getting a good counsellor who is familiar with sex and love addiction and get involved in a 12 Step Program such as SLAA (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous), SAnon (for love addicts and partners of sex addicts) or SA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) – for the sex addict). You will find the links to these Programs on my home page.  All three Programs have online support forums if you are unable to attend a face to face meeting.

Try reading as much material as you can about your addiction/s. Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody is a book that is highly regarded in the industry as are books on sex and love addiction by Patrick Carnes. Literature by both authors can be purchased from Amazon.com.

I tried for years to figure out what my problem was and I even sought help from the psychiatric industry for my thoughts, only to be medicated with antipsychotics for them and diagnosed with bipolar disorder (I believe my experience is very common).

It took me until I was 38 to realise that my fantasies were not a normal part of life. They used to (and still can) cause me the deepest depression and despair to the point where I wanted to self harm.

Early this year I accompanied my partner to a face to face SLAA meeting where I heard members speak about their experiences with sex and love addiction. Their stories hit me hard but also gave me great relief. They were talking about my life, I was one of them!  Finally I had found an answer to my problem. I was not alone.  My recovery journey began.

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Kleptomania is classified as “an irresistable urge to steal”  but people with this disorder are compelled to steal but not limited to, items of insignificant value. Insignificant value meaning pens, paperclips, note pads, paper etc.

Kleptomania is distinguished from shoplifting or ordinary theft,  as shoplifters and thieves generally steal for monetary value, or associated gains and usually display intent or premeditation, while kleptomaniacs are not necessarily contemplating the value of the items they steal or even the theft until they are compelled without motive.

This disorder usually manifests during puberty and, in some cases, may last throughout the person’s life.

I have been thinking about my compulsion or “need” to pinch things and where it eventuated from.

The first time I remember pinching something was when I was about three years old and I put a packet of tic tacs from the green grocer into my tights. My parents found out because they heard the clacking noise and made me take the tic tacs back and say I was sorry. The push to apologise sure didn’t teach me much of a lesson I don’t think!

As my dad used to drink his earnings away and bring back what was left over to mum, I used to see my mum make do with what money she had left to run a household.  Quite often we would visit the Salvation Army for food parcels or clothing and I used to think it was great fun because they would give me a big packet of pizza flavoured chips in the shape of wheels and when I was older I used to love selecting free clothes and shoes. When I write about it now, I feel sad thinking back to those times and what we had to do to make ends meet.

In my mid teens I got involved with a crowd that taught me how to pinch things from department stores and we even entered the back of a night club one day and lifted a bottle of liquor (I was simply a bystander while my friend’s brother went straight for the till so they obviously knew what they were looking for).

I too then started to lift things of no great monetary value from retail stores. I even taught others how to do it as well. It was small time thieving, mainly toys. I got caught a few times but was always let off.

When I started work my store thieving ceased and I was content with whatever small time things I could get my hands on at work which was usually stationery. I am a bit of a stationery nut to this day and I have boxes of pens and erasers and Post it Notes tucked away in my wardrobe.

When I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder in 2007, and put on Zeldox towards the end of my treatment, I felt an absolute compulsion to thieve from the supermarket one day. I was drawn towards an electronic item and remember reaching for it with the intent to steal it on my mind but after much thinking decided against it. I will never forget that feeling of sheer compulsion. It was not pre-meditated for I had not stolen for some years (I even stopped pinching the stationery when I found a workplace I loved). 

My supermarket antics on Zeldox were bizarre because I remember the “need” to load my groceries onto the conveyor belt in categories. All the dairy had to be together, all the meat together, all the drinks together etc etc and when I loaded my bags into the trolley, the bags were absolutely NOT allowed to fall over or I would get severely bothered and anxious to the point of an anxiety attack.  Looking back now, my anxiety/OCD must have been rife at that time. This is the time when I began to lift small items from supermarkets again.

My analysis on my long time behaviour would be that given the difficult environment I lived in as a child, I needed acquisitions around me to feel comforted.   Perhaps seeing my mum struggle with making ends meet, I grew to believe that having things was important.  When I was a teenager I would go through all the catalogues and select what I would buy when I grew up and had money.

I have begun lifting from supermarkets again as I am under financial stress and I cannot bear the thought of not being able to “have” what I need or want. Why? because I associate not having what I need or want with my childhood and I don’t want to go back there.

Today I need to keep reminding myself of the lesson that my Higher Power has put before me, namely, that  money does not buy happiness and happiness comes from within. I need to learn to love and respect myself and act in a responsible way when it comes to finances.

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