Overload Paralysis

bipolar

 

 

When I become completely overwhelmed and overstimulated, my mind just shuts down. This also happens when I am stressed or anxious. My mind just doesn’t shut down, my whole body does. I have come to call this overload paralysis. I don’t know if this is the technical term for this phenomenon. (If it is not, I call dibs on coining it.) I think the paralysis is my biggest obstacle when it comes to productivity. It isn’t lack of drive, will or motivation. It is that I just physically can’t. I am sure there is someone out there reading this, thinking well it is all in your head. The whole mind over matter crapola. All I have to say you is,”No shit, Sherlock.” Just like diabetes is in your pancreas.

I always start off my day with the best of intentions to really buckle down. I even have a schedule planned out on my Google calendar. It sends me reminders to my email and phone. I figure that if I could just keep a schedule I would keep productive. And as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The problem is I tend to over think things and not stay on task. I bounce around from my kids to writing to scrolling through social media. I know that I have things I need to accomplish. I become overwhelmed and overstimulated and then my mind goes into overload mood. Then the system just shuts down. I am literally frozen. It is the most horrible feeling that I can’t even properly describe.

I just become this large lump on my coach flipping mindlessly through my DISH channels. It is my distraction. It is how I calm the storm brewing in my mind. Just checking out. It is something I have always done without thinking. It is my biggest obstacle that I have yet to overcome. I am often seen as unreliable and someone who procrastinates because of this. A side effect of a condition, I have little control over. I so badly want to finish what I am doing. However the feeling of passing out and vomiting becomes overwhelming. Grasping for air like I am drowning is horrifying. I know that these are signs of a panic attacks. My brain knows that these are signs of a panic attack. So instead of slowly hitting the brakes to keep the wreck from happening, it just shuts the car off. I just check out. Next thing I know I have spent the last hour or so staring into oblivion. Anything I may do in-between is purely reflexive. Big D asks for juice, I get juice then I just go back to staring.

It is so disheartening sometimes because I want to really take things to great places. I have goals and dreams like everyone else. It is just when I go “all-in” on something, my mind just can’t handle it. I do sometimes wish that I could go back to therapy. Unfortunately that is not in the financial cards at this moment. It is just a hill that I have to work on overcoming. One baby step at a time.

 

 

Have you ever suffered overload paralysis? Or maybe something similar?

 

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Breeding the Stigma

Originally posted on Stigmama as a companion piece to The Silent Fighters. 


 

mental-health-stigma-quotes

 

 

When I was a kid, my mother was really big about instilling the simple concept that you should treat those how you would want to be treated. This includes those who may not treat you in the nicest way. Honestly the mental health community is the worst at this. We are a big reason why the stereotypes still exist. Some on the biggest prejudice I have dealt with has been with through those like me. And it is really sad for those who trying their lives day to day. So, how is the Mental Health community perpetuating the stereotypes of those with a mental illness? Easy. They act like the stereotype. It is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So the goal of all this awareness and stigma-fighter is so we can be treated like every other person on the planet. We don’t want to be seen or treated any differently. We want our lives to be validated. What I don’t understand, is how we can expected the outside community to have respect for us, if we don’t hold respect for our peers? Up until I started my blog and really speaking out, I was a Silent Fighter. I went about my day doing my best to prove to the outside world that my bipolar disorder didn’t define me.  I was actually quite good at it. I still to this day come across people who had not a clue. And to me, each of those people was a victory towards ending stigma. I mean that is what the goal in all of this is. Right?

However, there seems to be a lack of respect from some for people who do this. I have on numerous occasions have had the validity of my diagnosis questioned. Not only has my diagnosis been questioned, it has been denied to me. I have had people, who are non-medical professionals, tell me that I was not and could not be bipolar. Why? Because I didn’t “act” bipolar. I did not portray the stereotype. And this is from people who are supposed “Stigma Fighters”. How fucked up is that? Because I didn’t rant every mood swing on every available social media outlet while wearing a bright sign labeled, “I have Bipolar”. So my credibility of having a mood disorder was completely questioned. It doesn’t make sense to me.

When we do this to each other, we are breeding the stereotype. We need to start leading and living by example. We need to act the way we want the world to see us. Now I am sure there would be some that would say that I am telling people to hide their disorder. We should be quiet and ashamed of our disorders. NO! I am in no way at all saying that. I just become tired of people using it as an excuse to be a jackass. I HATE when people act out of control and then say they can’t help it because they are bipolar. No. Having a mental illness is in no way an excuse to act like an asshole. Please stop using your mental illness as a crutch of why you can’t get your shit together. There is plenty of ways to get help. You just have to be willing to take the steps necessary to get the help.

Yes, the healthcare system is broken. However you can’t expect them to want to go out their way to fix if we aren’t going to use it anyway. Why waste the time and taxpayers dollars? I will admit I am not on medication but that is because I have learned how to manage myself. I went to therapy for a long time and have been on medication before. And you can bet your sweet ass that if I started to spiral out of control, I would seek medical help. There nothing that burns my ass more than when someone, post after post, “cry” for help, then they do nothing. People just give advice and tell them that they care. Then the poster just ignores them. After a while people think you are crying wolf and no longer trust you. Also you are skewing those people’s view on what they think people with mental illness are really like. Then when someone honestly is honestly crying for help, they are ignored. We need to start thinking about how we appear to others. You can’t tell me you don’t have that friend who posts every five seconds of the woes of their love and thought, “For the love of Jesus, get some help.” If you say no, I call bullshit. I know I have.

Now, I believe education is key to breaking stigma. The public needs to know what every day like is for us. They need to know the struggles we face on the day to day basis. However, it needs to be done in an effective, thoughtful way. I think being someone’s face about it is the wrong way to go. You can’t force change. Change is a creature of subtlety. I think it must start with us as a community. We need to have respect for each other first. We need to validate that our Silent Fighters struggles are real. No one should ever have to “prove” their mental illness. It is honestly more degrading than being called ‘crazy”. We also need to have respect for the outside would. They may not know personally what you are going through personally but that doesn’t meant their concern isn’t genuine. Maybe they might suggest something stereotypical. Instead of answering with backlash, see this as an opportunity to explain and educate. I once met someone who thought Bipolar Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder was the same thing. I just explained to them that was a total difference. I even joked that even some days it may seem like I am two different people from my mood swings.

We may not be able to stop ignorance but shouldn’t mean we should breed it. To some it may seem like there is much that is being put on our behalf. I mean we are the ones that want change so why wouldn’t the pressure be on us. Movements take time and effort by all. If you really want change you have to be what you want the world to see you as. We need to be the change.

The Silent Fighters

quiet is strong

Since it is Mental Health Awareness Week, I am sure we will hear all the ways to fight stigma and about the most vocal stigma fighters. And I believe, rightfully so, these people deserve their recognition. However they are not my focus for this post. I want to recognize and thank the silent fighters. I want to recognize those who live day to day beyond the stigma.

So what does a Silent Stigma Fighter look like? Well (s)he looks like an everyday person or “normal”. These are the people who hold 9-5 jobs. They show up to work every day and put in their best despite what they are going through on the inside. A silent fighter sees their therapist on a regular schedule according to their treatment plan. And the things is they don’t just show up, they participate. They take what their therapist is saying into actual consideration and applying it to their daily lives. These are the ones who take their medications as they are prescribed. Yet you won’t see them blasting their emotional roller coaster on social media. Chances are that most of their social network has no idea what they go through on a day to day basis. These are the champions who struggle out their bed every day to take care of their loved ones. Even when the blanket of depression may have them wrapped so very tight, they find the strength to carry out another day. They may struggle with the urge to give into mania and blow their whole paycheck on complete nonsense. Yet, they always seem to have the power to do the right thing.

The title of a Silent Stigma Fighter is not limited to those with mental illness. This title can belong to the husbands, wives, partners, aunts, mothers, fathers, or any other caretakers of those with a mental illness. If you have never personally taken care of someone with a mental illness, you need a heart of steel to do it.  Life with someone with mental illness is a commitment. It is not checking in on a girlfriend after she has broken up with this month’s “love of her life”.  It is making sure that they are following their treatment plan. Keeping them away from triggers. It is finding the strength to keep your loved one from giving up. It is tiring and taxing. I have met many people who wished they had the heart to be able to walk away. These are the ones who put all the weight on themselves because trying to get an outsider to understand it just too much. So silently, day by day, they care for their loved ones no different than if they didn’t have a mental illness. Because in their eyes, mental illness or not, that person is worth fighting for.

Some may say that they are not helping fight the stigma. I say to you, why not? They are not ashamed of their own illness. They just chose not to shout it off of the roof tops. I mean in the end isn’t the whole point of fighting stigma is some we can live our lives and be viewed as normal people. I think that there are plenty of voices for fighting stigma. I am sure if you looked for a blog trying to dispel mental health stigma, you would come across at least a thousand, including my own. We need more silent fighters proving to the world they have no idea what mental illness truly looks like. My favorite thing in the world is when someone claims that so-so is bipolar. I will look them in the face and say so am I. Then the look of shock will slowly overtake their face. And when they say, “You can’t be serious. I had no idea.” I glow on the inside because I know that I have changed one more mind by being a silent fighter. It is these little victories in which the world of mental health really needs. It only takes one person.

So to all of the Silent Fighters keep making a difference. Even when you think you aren’t because you aren’t shouting from the rooftops, know that you are. You are at the forefront of this battle showing the world the true face of mental health. And on behalf of the mental health community, I thank you. I know what strength it takes to make it day by day. I admire you wholly for that.  Please never lose faith in yourself. Keep going one day at a time. One silent fight at a time.