Guest Blog Post: Michelle Peterson – Can Art or Music Therapy Help You With Addiction Recovery?

Picture1Photo by Pixabay

Music and art are what make us whole. The ability to create is humanity in its highest form. Those who have been suffering with addiction can find themselves and promote their healing through art and music therapy. Many addiction centers offer this kind of therapy as part of the recovery process, and for good reason.

A study published by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 2014 showed that art and music therapy were both effective in helping those in substance abuse recovery. According to the American Art Therapy Association, “Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.”

Whether it’s watercolor, acrylic or oils, painting is a wonderful way for those suffering with addiction to cope. Not only is painting a quiet, soothing activity, it allows an artist to bring out whatever emotions they’re dealing with onto the paper or canvas and leave it there. Because drugs and alcohol can dull a person’s emotions, painting can bring you back to yourself, little by little.

If your treatment program doesn’t include art or music therapy, speak to your addiction counselor. He or she might be able to direct you to a good program that specializes in addiction. If you had music or art therapy in rehab, but don’t have access on your own, consider taking some lessons. While it’s not the same as therapy, learning to create your own art is a meditative practice that can help you relax and feel better about yourself. You don’t need talent, you just need to create for the sake of creating.

If you don’t have the money to spend on art lessons, consider learning from YouTube. There are many free art lessons online that will help you learn to draw or paint like a pro. Or, just buy a sketch pad and some pencils, and start drawing. Focus on how you feel and let your emotions come out in the form of art.

The DHHS study said, “Just like art therapy, (music therapy) is thought to help patients tap into emotions and needs that may be difficult to express through more traditional forms of communication. Furthermore, music therapy also provides a way to motivate patients to receive treatment.”

Another study published in Drug and Alcohol Review showed that music therapy was an effective therapy because it helped participants stay engaged. Basically, it was fun, so participants were more likely to show up, a constant challenge in addiction therapy.

Music lessons are everywhere, and you can easily learn to create beautiful music by learning an instrument. You can rent an instrument and take lessons. If you can’t afford it, YouTube has music lessons, too. Or there are books you can buy or check out from your local library. When you’re focusing on learning how to play, you’re not thinking about temptations. You let the rest of the world fall away. Learning an instrument is more than just meditative — it also gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your self-esteem. If you can conquer that guitar, you can conquer the world!

Music and art therapy are excellent ways to feel better about yourself and the world. They will help you find your own talent and creativity, as well as make you feel accomplished. Even if you don’t become a rock star or famous artist, you’ll know you have something inside you that wants to create, and that’s crucial for well-being. Start looking for an art or music therapist to add to your recovery.

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Guest Blog Post: Jessica Munson on Self-Care and Asking for Help #CompassionOrBust

When I volunteered to write for Illuminated By U I had so many ideas. I had recently welcomed my first child, would soon graduate with my master’s degree and I felt completely confident in myself and in my future. I felt like I could do anything. Then, just like the Fresh Prince, my life got turned completely upside down. It soon became a major challenge to find balance in my life and the constant pulling in every direction left me feeling exhausted. I thought “Well after I graduate, after I have a job offer, after we’ve finished moving, etc. then I can relax. After all this chaos is over then I can be happy again.” We all know where this is going, don’t we?

In May there was so much to celebrate: my first Mother’s Day and graduation included. However, there was no job offer yet and a lot of scary and hard things happened. How could I possibly write something meant to inspire, encourage, empathize, motivate or entertain anyone when I clearly did not have my shit together?! Mental Health Awareness Month being in May made it harder. Graduating from a counseling program was supposed to make me a whole and healthy person right? This was supposed to make life easier, wasn’t it? Of course not! I just couldn’t release every expectation I had set for myself and for my life.

So I decided to actually use what I had learned in my many classes- I asked for help. Just as I suspected it was painful and I hated every second of it- at first. I reached out to a mentor and asked for a personal consultation. I reached out to someone I didn’t know very well but inspires me. I reached out to family and to my spouse. I felt vulnerable and embarrassed, worried that I was failing to meet their expectations as well as my own. Imagine my relief when every single person I reached out to met me with kindness and support instead of critical judgment!

OK so what is the point? Why share this personal anecdote? Because I suspect a few of you are similar to me. Filled with pride at our ability to take care of ourselves and also fear at letting someone down. Or worst of all letting ourselves down. I’d like to say that by now things have completely worked themselves out, but of course they haven’t. Life hasn’t gotten any easier and dealing with all the ups and downs and surprises hasn’t really gotten easier either.

What has become a little easier is reaching out to my support systems. My friends and family, mentors and other loved ones. It’s gotten easier to recognize when I need some serious self-care- whether that is yoga, meditating, eating cookie dough or taking myself on a drive. It’s gotten easier to just notice that I’m beginning to slip into a depressive state or that I’m beginning to feel especially overwhelmed. This is enough! Just to notice my emotions as they come and as they go are enough!

So if I can encourage, inspire, motivate, etc. any of you to do just one thing it is this: notice how you are feeling and don’t try to cope on your own. It is perfectly ok to reach out to someone and admit that you’re feeling crazy or overwhelmed. Ask for help. Remember that you are so worthy of love no matter how worthless you may be feeling.

Guest Blog by Alyssa Kuzins: Why Being Fearless is Bullshit #CompassionOrBust

“Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes, in all situations. Sometimes it sounds like a whisper, sometimes it sounds like a freight train. No matter how it decides to speak to you, the key is simply to listen and decide if you’re ready to take a chance with Fear no doubt somewhere nearby huddled in the corner.”

Fear(less)- “without Fear”

I’m about to tell you something that may surprise you, even shock you, especially because I’m a coach. Whoever said that you should be fearless, is a liar.

I know, I know, we always hear about how fearless we should be. No fear! Hell, even Taylor Swift wrote a smash hit about being fearless, but I’m here to tell you my take on it. I think it’s bogus, a total fallacy. I’m afraid a lot, how about you? Does that mean that something is wrong with us? Are we weak or not as spiritual of beings? Nope. Fear is kind of a sure, healthy thing, not a bad thing to be “destroyed,” so long as you know how to approach it and you know its roots. Let me explain myself.

To start, Grandfather Fear, as Liz Gilbert cleverly calls it in her book Big Magic, thankfully keeps us from doing really stupid things. Second, and what I’ll be focusing on, fear is as natural as feelings get. Fear is innate. We are born into this world crying because we don’t understand what is happening. The world as we knew it has just shifted drastically. That’s scary! We have entered a new stage of life, and we have no idea what the hell is going on. Now it’s not that being born is a bad thing, quite the contrary, it’s a beautiful thing, but it is growth nonetheless. And growth, expansion, and change can be VERY scary. Why? Because we don’t typically like what we can’t predict and what we don’t understand. But does that mean that Fear is bad? No.

So why be born with something that never wants us to try anything new? Because Fear reminds us to be brave and to trust! The opposite of being fearless is not being afraid, it’s being brave! When faced with being downright scared, but knowing that we want something more than we’re afraid of it, that’s bravery and trust enacted, that’s the other side of fear! Taking big leaps isn’t about being fearless, it’s about acknowledging Fear front and center, and saying, “Thank you for your concern, but I really don’t need you right now.” It’s about trusting in something bigger than you to get you where you need to be and being willing to put in the work yourself, as well.

Does this mean that I am huddled in the corner somewhere totally inept at making decisions because I am constantly afraid? Nope. It just means that I have learned to get kinda cozy with Fear, in a way, because I know it will keep cropping up again and again, especially if I plan on, ya know, growing at all as a person.

So instead of resisting it like it’s something to be destroyed, I 1) notice it as the feeling arises 2) take note of what triggered me and 3) I lean into my own belief in my self along with my fierce faith in the Universe to help me. Depending on the circumstances, I share my fear with others who may be able to help me or reflect for me in a rational manner.

No cowering in the corner. No relinquishing yourself to a life of being stagnant or stuck or frozen in fear. It’s about calling your power back and owning your fears.

Some examples of bravery in action:

When we are about to do something that we have never done before. When we are moving into more of our Truth. When we say yes to something we love when we know very well that it might fail. When we start dating again. When a side hustle takes off and requires us to leap and quit our corporate jobs. When we know we have to move on and say goodbye.

Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes, in all situations. Sometimes it sounds like a whisper, sometimes it sounds like a freight train. No matter how it decides to speak to you, the key is simply to listen and decide if you’re ready to take a chance with Fear no doubt somewhere nearby huddled in the corner.

The lesson? We must honor our fears in order to move past them. After all, Fear isn’t going anywhere, so why not acknowledge it to move through it with g r a c e?

Fearlessness not required.

Homework/Soul Work:

Dealing with fear head-on is one of the best things to do in order to face forward. Try this simple fear assignment to release your fears by acknowledging them first.

Say ALL of your fears out loud in front of someone else for 1 minute (time yourself) and stop as soon as the timer goes off, even if you’re mid sentence. You might be surprised at how silly some of your fears may sound, you may be surprised at what you said, or you might find this completely unnerving. When you’re done, be sure to ask for some feedback from your partner Chances are, they will make you feel loads better and provide a welcome outside perspective!

My current passion project is The Journal Deck, an oracle card deck meets journal prompts for self care and personal growth, and some of my favorite prompts in the deck relate to fear! Check it out at thejournaldeck.com

Anxiety by Catherine Cottam #CompassionOrBust

 

Anxiety is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it” or “mentally distressing concern or interest.”

Everyone experiences some anxiety and fear sometimes, but what we here at Illuminated By U are mostly concerned with are Anxiety Disorders, because those are where the stigma is.

The DSM V states, “Anxiety disorders differ from developmentally normative fear or anxiety by being excessive or persisting beyond developmentally appropriate periods. They differ from transient fear or anxiety, often stress-induced, by being persistent (e.g., typically lasting 6 months or more), although the criterion for duration is intended as a general guide with allowance for some degree of flexibility and is sometimes of shorter duration in children (as in separation anxiety disorder and selective mutism). Since individuals with anxiety disorders typically overestimate the danger in situations they fear or avoid, the primary determination of whether the fear or anxiety is excessive or out of proportion is made by the clinician, taking cultural contextual factors into account. Many of the anxiety disorders develop in childhood and tend to persist if not treated. Most occur more frequently in females than in males (approximately 2:1 ratio). Each anxiety disorder is diagnosed only when the symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance/medication or to another medical condition or are not better explained by another mental disorder.”

In layman’s terms, everyone experiences some anxiety but anxiety disorders are characterized by anxiety that is long lasting and disruptive to a person’s life.  People with anxiety disorders often overestimate the amount of danger they or other people are in.  For example, when a friend of mine told me that he took a nap on a bean bag chair in the student center at his school, my response was, “but someone could have murdered you!”  One summer during my college years, I would have to put my hand behind my back every time I got up in the night to go to the bathroom because I thought someone was going to break into my house and try to stab me.  I can’t watch movies where things pop out at you or watch most horror films because I might have a panic attack and I become very worried that the things that happen in the film could happen in real life, even though I don’t truly believe in monsters or ghosts or demons.

The DSM V lists several types of anxiety disorders, including Separation Anxiety Disorder, Selective Mutism, Specific Phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder,  Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and related disorders like Hoarding, Trichotillomania (pulling out hair), and Excoriation (skin picking) are thought to be closely related to anxiety disorders.

I’m not going to talk about most of those, because that would make this post very long indeed, but I am going to talk about the ones I’ve personally experienced.  You can learn about the others here.   I haven’t been formally diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, but I do exhibit several of the symptoms (I definitely have social anxiety if not the disorder itself) and two people I’m very close with definitely have it.  There are good days and bad days with Social Anxiety Disorder and people may participate in social activities more or less depending on what their anxiety level is that day.  For me, social anxiety comes in the form of my mind racing with questions and concerns that I’ve said or done the wrong thing and everyone hates me or that I will say or do the wrong thing and everyone will hate me or that I said or did the wrong thing 10 years ago and everyone hates me.  It also comes in the form of me sweating and worrying that someone will notice that I’m sweaty and gross and the fear of having a panic attack while in public, even though I’ve had so many of them at this point that I can basically hide it when one happens.

Panic Disorder is described by the DSM V as “recurrent unexpected panic attacks.”  I definitely have this.  I’ve been doing better lately with the exception of a panic attack during my second viewing of Beauty and the Beast, but there was a time in 2015 when I was having between 3-5 panic attacks each day.  I had had a small pulmonary embolism, which feels very similar to a panic attack, and each panic attack I had made me think I was having another pulmonary embolism.  I’m sure my physician got very tired of me writing to her in the portal and asking for ultrasounds of my legs and d-Dimer levels to check to see if I had a new blood clot.  She determined that there was no new clot, mine was old and pieces couldn’t be breaking off, and that I was just experiencing panic attacks.  I’ll describe what happened during Beauty and the Beast for you so you get a better sense of what happens during a panic attack.  First I started sweating, then my heart started pounding, then my chest started hurting, then both of my arms went all numb and tingly, then I got dizzy, then I started thinking “Oh my God, this is it, I’m having another pulmonary embolism.  I’m dying” which repeated in my head several times before I thought, “wait a minute, if I was having another pulmonary embolism, my chest would hurt worse when I breathe in.  Is that happening? No.  This is just another damn panic attack!  Okay.  You know how to handle this.  Breathe in through your nose, 2, 3, hold, 2, 3, out through your mouth, 2, 3.  In through your nose, 2, 3, hold, 2, 3, out through your mouth, 2, 3.  In through your nose, 2, 3, hold, 2, 3, out through your mouth, 2, 3.”  Then I was okay if a little shaken up but was able to continue watching the movie with no one any the wiser that I had just had a panic attack.  They often happen when I’m driving, which is terribly scary and inconvenient, but I’ve found that labeling them as panic attacks and doing my counted breathing really helps.  Ativan helps, too.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as discussed in the video at the top of this post, is such a bitch.  For me, GAD finds me worrying about all types of things pretty much all of the time.  I worry that I’m going to get into a car accident and something bad is going to happen to my service dog, River.  I worry that someone is going to break into my house and murder my parents while I’m not home and I’m going to come home and find their dead bodies, I worry that someone is going to break into my car and steal my things, I worry that I’m going to order the wrong thing at dinner and I’m not going to like the food and I’m going to be hungry for the rest of the night, I worry about money, I worry about things I’ve done in the past, I think about River (who is only 3 years old and perfectly healthy) dying and I sob hysterically.  GAD keeps me up at night and makes it hard for me to focus.  Just two days ago at my birthday party, a friend was talking to me and I dissociated because I was worried about if everyone at the party was having a good time, which meant that I wasn’t even able to concentrate or pay attention to what she was saying.  It makes me irritable and gives me muscle tension.  I worry about where my life is or isn’t going.  I worry about everything.

 

Resources

The Mighty’s Most Popular Stories on Anxiety

TED Talk: Aneysha Bhat- Anxiety: A Cancer of the Mind

Generalized Anxiety by Kati Morton

30 Things About Anxiety Nobody Talks About by Sarah Schuster

24 Quotes That Show What It’s Really Like to Live With Anxiety by Farah Musallam
13 Things People With Anxiety Are Tired of Hearing, and What You Can Say Instead by Melissa McGlensey

The Bad Days (and Good Days) With Social Anxiety by Madeline Riddle

What It’s Like to Have High Functioning Anxiety by Sarah Schuster

Mindful Monday 021

bridge-pose-photo

Happy Monday Illuminated By U loves! Welcome to another installment of Mindful Monday. Today’s asana is bridge pose also known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. As always, please be sure to consult a physician prior to beginning this or any other exercise regiment.

Begin lying on the floor, if necessary, with a thick folded blanket or pillow under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.

Exhale and press your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel.

Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Life your chin slightly away from the chest, firming the shoulder blades. Stay in this pose for 30-60 seconds.

benefits: Calms the mind and helps alleviate depression and stress. Improves digestion. Reduces anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and headaches.

Love Warrior Giveaway! By Catherine Cottam #ibugiveaway #compassionorbust


Since we have reached 200 followers on Instagram, we thought it might be time for a giveaway!  Love Warrior will be our book of the month later this year and it’s an amazing read.  I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one day.  It’s by Glennon Doyle Melton, whose blog you can find at www.momastery.com.  Head over to our instagram at www.instagram.com/illuminatedbyu and look for the picture like the one in this post.  Like it, tag two friends who you think would like our instagram/podcast/blog/website, and repost the picture with the hashtag #ibugiveaway to enter to win.  We only have one entry so far so your odds are very good!  You must be following us on instagram to win.  Contest is open internationally and ends on Friday, April 7 at 11:59pm EST.  Good luck!

Of Two Minds by Catherine Cottam #CompassionOrBust

If you haven’t already watched Of Two Minds, please go to the Resources section at the bottom of this page, click on Of Two Minds Documentary Free on Youtube, and do so.  Alternatively, you can just click the blue link here.

Of Two Minds is a documentary I originally came across on Netflix shortly after my own diagnosis as having Bipolar Disorder.  I immediately fell in love with it because of it’s humor and it’s truthfulness.  Of Two Minds doesn’t hide the parts of having Bipolar Disorder that some people may consider shameful, and I appreciate that it’s all about telling the truth.

Dr. Daniel Siegel said, “Bipolar Disorder is a condition where you’re prone to being either chaotically immersed in irritability or mania or you go into a rigid state of depression and depletion.”  Dr. Timothy Pylko said, “I like to think of Bipolar Disorder as tone controls and volume controls on a stereo.  I mean you’re still hearing the same music but you’re hearing it very differently depending on how you adjust those things.  It can lead to erratic behavior, but you’re still yourself.”  I disagree with Dr. Pylko because there have certainly been times when I have acted very unlike myself.

Of Two Minds starts off talking about Tina, a young woman who committed suicide.  She had no boundaries, experienced the crushing lows of depression, and wouldn’t come out of her room for days.  A voiceover says, “I could never imagine what she felt like because she didn’t feel anything.”  But I don’t think that’s accurate.  I think most people with Bipolar Disorder are highly sensitive and one of our problems is that we feel everything, except when we are in the middle of a depressive episode, at which point we may feel numb and apathetic instead of helpless or hopeless.

Of Two Minds states that over five million Americans have some form of Bipolar Disorder.  One of those five million, Cheri, says “This is what it feels like when you’re manic,” then goes on to dance vigorously for the camera through a song.  I particularly identified with this part because the first night I was manic, I spent a good portion of the evening with my music loud dancing around the room of the bed and breakfast where I was staying.  This was particularly troubling as I don’t usually dance at all other than to tap my feet or bob my head along with the music.

An unnamed man says, “Everything is entertaining and everything is interesting.  I was so funny and I was so clever and I had so much energy.  I was unstoppable.”  THAT is what being manic feels like.  Teri Cheney says, “It’s like having the flu but it’s a hundred times worse because it’s like having the flu in your mind.”  Cheri said that, for her, at the height of mania before it goes to psychosis, you feel like God.  I’ve never experienced that personally, but I have heard voices and felt invincible and made bad choices because I didn’t care about the consequences of my actions.  Cheri said she felt so exhausted at 14 that she didn’t know how she was going to live the rest of her life and I totally get that.  The exhaustion that comes with the depression and after the mania is real and crushing and defeating.  Cheri tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists, but she passed out from loss of blood, woke up, cleaned herself up, and no one ever knew.  She said, “I didn’t even do a good job,” which is a sentiment I think many people share following suicide attempts.

One quote from the movie particularly stuck out to me: “Do I really want to die?  Do I really want to end my life?  Or is it just that I want the pain to end?”  For me, it’s always been that I just want the pain to end and luckily my parents were able to pay for years of therapy that kept me safe.  When I’ve been suicidal, I’ve been able to see therapists and psychiatrists and have medications adjusted and talk to the people at the suicide hotline.  Not everyone is so lucky.

Cheri and I have something in common, we both travel out of desperation to try to escape.  It’s not the only reason I travel, but it certainly helps that I know I can get out of my house and into a different environment and maybe do a little bit better.  The first time I traveled post diagnosis, I was already depressed and I became more depressed.  However, when my friend, Tiffany, and I traveled to the UK for two and a half weeks in 2015, I woke up our first day in London miraculously stable after months of depression.  I have hope that the trend will continue and that traveling will continue to be a positive thing for me.

Petey, who was Cheri’s boyfriend for a time during filming, was diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder a few months into their relationship.  At one point he said, “I don’t even go for happy anymore.  I’m looking to just not feel like this.”  I really identified with that because there have been times I have been so depressed that I just want to feel not horrible.  Numbness would be a welcome distraction and I would greet apathy like an old friend.  When the depression is that bad, it can be physically painful.

People who are hypomanic or manic can become hypersexual.  Cheri has an interesting take on what that’s like when she says, “Having sex while you’re manic isn’t having sex.  It’s having a conversation with your body.  It doesn’t have to be pleasurable.  It doesn’t have to be good sex.  It can be abusive.  It can be bordering on rape and it’s ok.  I’m not in my body at that point.  My body is just up and talking and walking and drinking and fucking and I’m not even there anymore, it’s somebody else.  I wake up the next morning filled with shame and disgust.  I can feel it on me and there’s no amount of showers I can take to get rid of what SHE did the night before.”

I’m not going to discuss Carlton and Liz in this blog post because you will be introduced to them by way of interviews in the podcast, but their stories are very interesting and I hope you have watched the movie to see them.

I’ll leave you with a quote from an unnamed woman.  “We’re your mother, we’re your sister, we’re your brother, we’re your friends, we’re your neighbors and we’re out there and we want to be respected for who we are.  We don’t want to be in the closet.”

Resources:

Of Two Minds Documentary Free on Youtube

Interview with Liz Spikol

Depression by Joanne Phipps #CompassionOrBust

“The biggest difference I have found between sadness and depression is this:

Sadness can occasionally be felt by the heart,

Depression always takes root in the soul.”

-J. Phipps

 

depression-image

Image Source: @joe_lizzzzzz_yoga

(Note: A part of me feels like the title of this blog post: Depression by Joanne Phipps, could be the title of my memoir.)

 

I have battled with depression for a decade now: the physical aches in my body, the debilitating migraines, the weight gain from seeking out food for comfort, the constant indecisiveness, the irrational anger (which as a mother now is one of the hardest parts of depression to deal with because I have to really work hard to not completely lose my shit over something as simple as a dropped animal cracker or a stuffed animal left in the back of my car), the sadness that takes my breath away followed by the hollow, eerie presence of feeling nothing.

According to the Mayo Clinic: Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Depression can, sometimes be a one-time occurrence in your life, but it often times occurs multiple times over the course of a person’s life. The symptoms of depression typically occur all day for the majority of the day during the episode and include:

  1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  2. Sleeping problems including both sleeping too much and insomnia
  3. Lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities
  4. Slowly thinking
  5. Agitations
  6. Anxiety
  7. Frequent/reoccurring thoughts of death/suicide
  8. Feeling of worthlessness
  9. Fixation on past failures
  10. Unexplainable physical aches/pains

Typically, medication and psychotherapy are the most common treatments for depression. I personally, prefer a most holistic approach to my chronic battle with depression and include extra meditation and yoga in my daily routine when my depression becomes more prevalent. Because one of the symptoms of depression is frequent and/or reoccurring thoughts of death and/or suicide, it is important that you do seek help if you feel as though you are battling with depression. If you are unsure of where to seek help, please check our support tab at the top of our website.

***Please note: the following video does include suggestive adult content: sex, drugs, etc. that may be inappropriate for younger views as well as may be triggers for other viewers***

Day 14: a short film about depression

 

My Personal Depression Story:

Back in the mid 2000’s I found myself in a horribly unhealthy relationship that in the end left me devastated and eventually led to substance abuse problems, depression, and the majority of the mental well-being issues I have today stem from this initially.

When my violent and unhealthy relationship ended, I completely cut ties with my family because I was so ashamed: not only of what had happened to me but also of who I had become. I lived on a friend’s couch and over time because a heavy drinker and drug user. It was my way of coping, my way of escaping reality, and ultimately my way of erasing the sadness (depression) that had taken root in my being, even if only temporarily. Eventually, I had to face reality. My family, my friends.

I fell in love. I was happy again. I was pregnant and had a beautiful son. And then, I was depressed again. But this time, with postpartum depression. Thankfully, a large concern for new mothers, and I didn’t suffer alone or in silence that time.

If you follow me on social media at all, or you’re friends with me on facebook, you’ll see me talk about motherhood quiet often. About how EVERYDAY I LOVE being a mother, but somedays, I don’t LIKE it. About how my biggest pet peeve is mothers who act like their children have never been little shits in the middle of the supermarket or they’ve never gone out to get the toilet paper they forgot wearing two different socks with cheerios in their hair (we ALL have been there lady) because that it one of the most detrimental things we can do as mothers is make other mothers feel as though they’re inadequate because we don’t want to accept that we are imperfect just as they are and just as our children are. Later in the year we will be doing a longer segment on parenting with a mental illness, but to all the mothers and fathers out there: it really is ok to not always be ok. I would actually be more concerned about you if you always had rainbows shooting out of your butt than I am if you occasionally ugly cry in the shower.

Even now, as a mother and wife, a semi-successful social media influencer, stay-at-home crafter extraordinaire, depression is something that I battle with very often. And the idea of being depressed again and having to crawl my way back out of that hole is a constant fear in the back of my mind.

 

 

 

References/Resources:

Prevention.com

Depression: Mayo Clinic

 

 

Psychosis/Delusions #compassionorbust By Joanne Phipps

Human brain function grunge with gears

Image Source: http://www.deadlyvibe.com.au/2014/01/psychosis-a-misunderstood-illness/

Psychosis: According to the book Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston, which I will mention in the podcast covering bipolar disorder and psychosis/delusions, psychosis is: a severe break with reality that can occur with mania or depression (although not with cyclothymia or phyomania). Because there is so much confusion and stigma surrounding psychosis, it helps to know that although psychotic behavior seems totally bizarre, random, and frightening, it’s a normal symptom for many people with bipolar disorder.

It’s important, when we talk about psychosis to remember that it can truly impair the way that someone looks at the world, but if a loved one says or does something that seems completely unrealistic or frightening, it’s still important that you talk with their doctor about psychosis. Psychotic symptoms are also one of many major bipolar disorder symptoms (also including mania, depression, hypomania, anxiety, paranoia, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and impulses).

Delusions: Again, according to the above mentioned book, delusions are far-fetched, highly unrealistic, even bizarre beliefs. Delusions are often times confused with hallucinations, but they are in fact different. Delusions are again BELIEFS: a person may believe that they have been chosen as a special messenger of God to save humanity, or that they have been cursed by Satan. Hallucinations are perceptions that occur when an actual stimulus is absent: hearing voices when you are alone, seeing visions that have no basis in reality.

 

In layman’s terms, psychosis = disruptions to a person’s thoughts or perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what is not. It’s very common for people with bipolar disorder who experience psychotic symptoms or delusions to keep them to themselves and not share this information with even their closest friends or family because it’s hard for even them to know what is happening and if it is or is not normal or a part of their illness.

Several things can contribute to the development of Psychosis:

  1. Genetics
  2. Trauma
  3. Substance Use
  4. Physical illness or injury (traumatic brain injuries, etc)
  5. Mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and depression

Much like with most everything in life, the earlier the diagnosis of delusions and/or psychosis, the better the treatment outcome. Because psychosis/psychotic episodes rarely have a sudden and abrupt onset, it’s important to be aware of the early psychosis symptoms and help your loved one(s) understand the importance of early treatment.

Early psychosis symptoms include:

  1. Drastic change in school or work performance
  2. A decline in self-care and/or personal hygiene
  3. Spending more time alone than usual
  4. Strong, inappropriate emotions or feeling no emotions at all
  5. Trouble concentrating/thinking

 

Traditional treatment options for psychosis include psychotherapy and medication. More recent research has also shown a significant benefit from a treatment approach called: Coordinated Specialty Care, which includes:

  1. Family support and education
  2. Supported education and employment
  3. Peer support
  4. Medication management
  5. Psychotherapy

 

 

 

Resources/References:

NAMI Org

Book: Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Psych Today: Delusional Disorder