Bipolar Disorder: A Tirade on Internet Non-Information

So I had originally planned a different blog post for today, but after someone showed me the included image graphic and “study,” I decided it would be a better idea to post my thoughts on it instead. I feel it is an excellent example of non-information – or information that isn’t actually useful information – about mental illness on the internet.

First, you’ll need to take a look at this link on ‘What Patients Say Works for Bipolar Disorder’ (original is Bipolar Managed Best Without Drugs: 227 Patients Respond) that a recently diagnosed Bipolar person shared with me. Said person is looking for information on how to manage the Disorder and get it under control. Like many people, that person turned to the internet for information.

Second, the rest of this post will consist of my tirade about these posts.

1. Might as well start at the beginning. Click-bait title for the first, a misleading title for the second.

2. The domains they appear on. Blogs on .com websites are not viable resources. What are? Links from some news sites, acknowledged online journals, .gov, and .edu sites. How do I know this? Because as a marketer, I did a lot of writing for law blogs that would be reviewed by the owner of the blog (the lawyers) to ensure it would pass scrutiny, including if they were dragged before a legal board to explain anything presented in it. Some news websites, acknowledged online journals, .gov, and .edu sites are MOST LIKELY (not always) to be accepted as viable resources. Nothing else, INCLUDING several news websites.

3. The use of language in the articles. You’ll note that they use words like “study,” “research,” and “research findings.” The author also uses what are called “weasel words” that remove them from legal obligation. “These findings SEEM to suggest.” Any qualifier like that renders the argument invalid as an actual resource because it leaves a legal loophole to escape from. “Oh, we didn’t say it was the ONLY way or it was the truth, we just said it SEEMED that way. It’s not our fault our readers have poor comprehension.” No, that is not an insult to anyone that overlooked it. That is the argument that would be used if they were dragged before a court on their bullshit. In the same way that it is not libel or slander if I suggest that the creators of this “study” MAY POSSIBLY be manipulative shitheads. I am not asserting that as truth, I am only implying it.

4. I see a lot of insinuation style “professional speak”. What I don’t see is a “Dr.” anywhere. So where are the doctors associated with this “study” that was conducted? Well, let me just dig a little bit through the links and…

5. Oh, neat. It’s actually an aggregation of a RANDOM ONLINE QUIZ of what various respondents answered on the quiz. So it’s not actually a study or research at all. There’s no control or doctors. The original site posted a random quiz, pulled information from it, plotted it on a chart, and called it a “study.” I’m just going to launch into a bullet-point list here to expand this thought process…

– No verification if the respondents are actually Bipolar or suffer from any other mental illness that could have skewed results. Most Bipolar people I know have multiple mental illnesses.

– No control on what other substances the respondents are putting into their body. Other meds, drugs, alcohol, and shitloads of other things can affect one’s balance.

– No quality of life control. So “Bipolar Managed Best Without Drugs”, eh? How is the “study” defining success? How is the “study” defining a meaningful, productive quality of life? Does the person who wrote the text for the “study” even understand what the hell that means?

– No identification of specifics relating to the DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER. Oh hey – Type 1s, Type 2s, Cyclothemic, and NOS diagnoses don’t all present the same. Therefore, each and every single person with a different diagnosis, and every person within that diagnosis is going to require a UNIQUE approach to find THEIR OWN wellness. Why? Because your brain chemistry is complex and unique to you. One size CANNOT fit all in pushing towards wellness.

– No qualifiers or control on what said “treatment” or “management” is actually meant to manage. Let’s look at the most “positive” result for managing Bipolar Disorder, according to this “study.” Exercise. How many people are aware that too much exercise can throw a Bipolar person into an escalated cycle or make it worse? Theorycrafting here; I suspect it is similar to the Fight or Flight mechanism in that the body is tricking itself into an escalated cycle. There are physiological processes that overlap that essentially trick the brain into believing it is escalated, so it escalates. Or if the person already is escalated, they may decide to hit the gym for 4-8 hours to try and work off some energy, only succeeding in further destabilizing themselves. I’ve known three different Bipolar “health nuts” who have done this to themselves – one of which ended in a successful suicide.

Exercise is absolutely healthy and helpful. It can absolutely help reduce depression and make it more manageable. But what about for a Bipolar person that is mostly functional with a high-functioning baseline? Too much exercise could throw them into an escalated cycle, torpedo their stability, or aggravate other physical health problems.

6. The ONLY thing that this link is useful for is to grab a list of common ways people try to deal with the Disorder to SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSIONAL ABOUT. It speaks nothing to the viability of those treatments. It says nothing of the respondents, their quality of life, or other factors that could be contributing to instability. It does not quantify whether or not respondents actually took their medication as directed, as opposed to how they thought they should. It’s just a random list of information that lets the reader fill in whatever blanks they want for themselves.

Do you want to get well? Do you want to manage the Disorder? Go to your doctor, therapist, or relevant professional and talk to them. Communicate. Explore options. If you want to try “natural management” first, great. Do it with the help of a therapist or doctor, not with the help of the “original author” Alexandra Carmichael, who, by the way, is most likely a fictitious person that they post their information under so they can just “fire/disappear” that writer if anything splashes back on the website. Which is a standard operating procedure for blogs like this, which again, I know because I’ve worked alongside of the people who do this shit.

Bipolar Disorder is a serious, severe mental illness. The ONLY way you can know what will or won’t work for YOU is by trying things the way they are meant to be tried. And if it doesn’t work, you talk to your doctor and amend your approach. You know, so you have a knowledgeable ally involved if your brain is screaming into insanity.

Mental illness is a complex medical problem where you NEED a knowledgeable person involved in some way to pursue wellness; or at least to warn you when you’re about to do something stupid that could potentially kill you.

This tirade has been brought to you by Dennis, a random Bipolar man with zero credentials. You know, a fact that the “alleged” assclowns that created this “study” failed to publicly acknowledge themselves. Alleged shitheads.

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My first e-book, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’, is now available exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle.

Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

Posted in Coping | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Depression: I Should Have Felt Something…

Addition: I originally wrote this blog post in a pretty dark swing. I felt it was a good idea to demonstrate that even if you have a decent control, there are still times of struggle. So I went ahead and just wrote this while I was dark so you all could see that side of things and how I work to manage it. I’m level and fine now, for anyone concerned.

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Depression robs a person of experiences and feelings. Everything is just pulled into a flat, gray place where there is little to feel. Case in point – the release of my eBook. I knew I would ramp hypomanic, and I did so. I knew I would crash back out of it relatively quickly, and I did so. What I was not counting on was my brain settling back into moderate Bipolar-Depression AFTER the depressive crash.

So once again, I’m reminded of all of the things that I should have felt – happiness, pride, a sense of accomplishment – fucking anything. I did for a bit, but I know that was all a product of the escalation. Is it possible that I’m still in the midst of a depressive crash? No. That feels like my brain is downshifting from 10th gear all the way down to neutral. It’s been a couple of days and my crashes don’t last that long. It’s definitely a depressive cycle.

And that bitter gray flavor of emotion is just a call back to the many other times in my life I should have felt something but could not because of my piece of shit brain. I remember asking my second exfiancee to marry me, her response being tears. I recall feeling so flat and wondering why she was crying. I adored that woman. A moment that should have been filled with emotion, warmth, and joy when she accepted – I felt so numb.

And finding out about my son. A time when I should felt anything at fucking all. Fear, pride, trepidation, love, curiosity – ANYTHING. But there was only the numbness, the flat gray place where everything is muted and nonexistent.

The point that many people fail to realize about Depression in general is that it doesn’t just quash the positive things. I’ve felt just as flat, pointless, and absolutely gray on hard or difficult shit that I should have cared about. Girlfriend wants to break up? Whatever. Lost job number whatever? Figures. Blah blah blah. Same bullshit, different fucking day. It pretty much just merges several days into a single long, gray day.

So I do what I’ve been doing for 20 years, what many other mentally ill people do. Plaster on a smile, thank people for the congratulations and kind words, and pretend my emotions are functioning correctly. But then there is arguably the most important point, the one that will matter to you. How to deal with it?

This is why I don’t place great stock in how I feel about various things. It doesn’t matter that I feel pretty much nothing about meeting this goal. Regardless of how I feel, it’s still out there, it will still hopefully help some people better understand the Disorder, the shit that surrounds it, and the subject matter it covers. How I feel is irrelevant – which is a phrase many people have heard me say on numerous occasions though I know most of them don’t exactly “get it”. Much of the time I feel nothing, and if I allow myself to live in that mental space I’ll never get anything accomplished.

Emotions stemming from Bipolar unwell cycles may have some root in reality, but they are not our true emotions. They are a figment of the mental illness. It’s best to set aside decisions about important things until after those feelings are back under control. If more of us could learn to do that, I think we could remove a lot of the general instability and chaos of our lives. Most decisions don’t require us to make them RIGHT NOW, but we do because our brain is screaming at us we fucking need to or our brains are overloaded with incorrect, irrational emotions.

And that’s exactly why I’ve already started working on my second eBook on maintaining friendships and relationships involving Bipolar Disorder. I know my brain is being a pile of shit at the moment and I’m not going to allow that to dictate what I am going to accomplish. Even if I feel numb and gray, it will still be out there benefiting others. Once my brain swings back into place, I’ll be pleased with that.

How I feel is irrelevant.

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My first e-book, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’, is now available exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle.

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Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

Posted in Depression | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

eBook Free Promo from Aug 15 through Aug 19

The eBook ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’ is available for FREE from August 15th through August 19th through Amazon Kindle.

The author lived with undiagnosed Type 2 Bipolar Disorder for 15 years. Instead of memoirs, he uses his experiences as a vehicle to provide actionable, useful information to other people living with mental illness, their friends, and family members. The title ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’ is literal. It is a collection of information that the author learned the hard way on his path towards wellness, recovery, and finding peace with his situation. The author’s body of work is written to be equally useful to the friends and family members of the mentally ill.

No Kindle? No problem! Amazon does offer a Kindle Reader app for PC and mobile devices.

EDIT: For my international readers, it is available on the available international Amazon sites.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Focus: Another Facet of Wellness

I spend a lot of time talking about the infrastructure and medical sides of pursuing wellness. I do my best to produce work that anyone can pick up and find something useful in. To that end, I don’t think I’ve been giving due consideration to the other aspects that significantly contribute to finding wellness. These include points like spirituality and perspective. By spirituality, I do not mean religious. I mean things that help people feel good about themselves, their lives, and push towards inner peace.

There are many routes for accomplishing these goals. Whatever works for you is great. I’m going to share some things that have helped me just to provide a place to start looking.

On Calming Fears and Controlling Intangibles

I’m often asked about the specifics on the way I address stresses in life. I’ve commented on it regularly, trying to articulate my point of view in an understandable way. But then, I read “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius and realized that someone already said what I was saying a couple thousand years ago. Aurelius is considered the father of Stoicism, which is a Westernized version of many concepts found in Zen-Buddhism. (Note: “Meditations” is a classic, historical text so it is available for free in many locations. Here is a website copy and here is a PDF copy.)

A concept I use on a regular basis involves the principle of Focus. In regards to mood disorders like anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and depression; external stresses can cause the person to throw themselves into an unwell state or make an unwell state worse. The focus tenet essentially states to put your attention on what is before you, most important, and work passionately to accomplish that task. When that task is completed, shift your focus to the next and do the same. Break down large tasks into their basic components and focus passionately on accomplishing each of them.

You’ve probably heard many variants of this principle before.

Example 1:

Jack has bills stacking up and needs money. Therefore, his the overall goal is to find a source of income. The most obvious choice is to find a job of some kind. How do you get a job? Application and follow up. Jack is facing a lot of stresses. What’s going to happen if he can’t find a job? Where’s he going to be in a month, two months, six months? Who is going to hire him? How can find a job more effectively? What options does he have?

A lot of that bloat is unessential for his primary goal of finding a job. He needs to get applications out there to start being considered. So instead of worrying about the deluge of stresses, he focuses on finding the places to apply to and getting those applications in. It doesn’t matter how many applications he puts in. It doesn’t matter how many times he is rejected. What does matter is that he needs an income, a job, and applications are the way to accomplish that. Sooner or later, something will break loose and he will accomplish that goal.

Example 2:

Mary finally realizes that her mental illness is the root of many problems in her life. She decides to apply for Disability. Upon further research, she finds a mass of information on the system being unfair, how other people have gotten screwed, how people abuse the system, and tons of opinions on what people should do or not do. It is very easy to get caught up in those details and opinions because there are an unending amount of them. Ultimately, none of those things really matter for Mary and her path. Instead of looking at all of the other surrounding information, she should simply sit down and fill out the application to the best of her ability. All of those other opinions and extra information is unimportant, because it does not get Mary any closer to an approval or rejection. An application does.

I am not suggesting that anyone totally ignore the looming problems. They absolutely need thought about and preparations made, but there must be a limit. I cannot count the number of people with mood disorders I’ve known to make themselves unwell with continued and incessant worry over things they have no control over. Think about it, devise a course of action, and then force it out of your mind.

Assigning specific times for thought is a good idea as well. “Alright, I’m going to think about and look for a solution to X problem from 6 to 7 PM.” Do so, and then force it from your mind. There comes a point when thinking about the problem is no longer providing any benefit. It is only feeding into potential unwellness by dwelling on shit we have no control over.

No, this is not easy to do. Yes, it takes a lot of practice. And I can hear it now, “easier said than done!” Yes, everything is easier said than done. I’m not even sure why that is a saying, but whatever.

A Bipolar person can also use this to help minimize the impact of an unwell cycle once they have identified they have triggered. It’s pretty common for Bipolar people to continue to dwell and stress about the trigger they experience, which just helps propel them to a further extreme by focusing on that and all the ‘what if’s’ and intangibles that go along with it. Learning to stay in the present can help turn a potentially major unwell cycle into a minor one. Practice, practice, practice.

How I Distract Myself from Unproductive Thoughts

I have a few go to tactics that I use to distract myself from unproductive thought processes. I love stand up comedy, so I will toss on someone’s stand up special or listen to some on Youtube. I also enjoy reading and learning about things relating to financial industries, history, and archaeology. All of these subjects require undivided attention to really process and retain. If I’m focusing on understanding some economic principle, then I’m not thinking about whatever stressful thought is hanging over my head. And the last major one is Sudoku puzzles. They are logic puzzles that require active thinking to solve.

The unifying thread is that the distracting medium should requires me to actively think about the subject. In doing so, I keep my brain from just wandering back onto the subject that is currently threatening to spin me out into an unwell cycle.

The same principle is true for anxiety management. As anyone with anxiety can verify, it’s always way worse in the brain than what we will actually experience in the world. Utilizing strong self-management can help keep minor anxiety-provoking thought processes from exploding into severe ones.

These principles are also very common ones to learn from a therapist. You just have to ask.

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My first e-book, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’, is available for pre-order and will release exclusively on Amazon-Kindle on August 14th, 2015. This e-book is a collection of information surrounding Bipolar Disorder, the medical industry, stigma, and other related subjects on things I learned the hard way as I worked towards wellness and stability. I have collected them together to assist others in their decision making processes surrounding their pursuit of wellness and stability.

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Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

Posted in Coping | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

All This Effort, So What’s the Catch?

Periodically I will write a blog post on a subject that I have to discuss with people a lot so that I can just point them to it instead of me taking another 20 minutes to explain the same thing I’ve already explained 30 times. This will be one such post. If you are not interested in my marketing strategy or the foundation behind the approach of my advocacy work, you can skip this post.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to explain to people that there are no hidden catches, pay walls, or any other such crap on my website. Quite a few people do not believe that my reasons for doing this are just as much for myself as for other people. And I can understand that. We live in a pretty selfish world in general. “Well, why would you spend all of this time and effort for free?” “Why are you going to offer your e-book ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’ for free after you release?” “Shouldn’t you be trying to make money from your effort?” “What’s in it for YOU?!”

Technically, yes; and I actually do. But let me walk you through my marketing strategy…

I am no one. There is no reason anyone should listen to me.

My “product” is not my body of work. My product is me. Everyone and their grandmother writes about Bipolar Disorder, their struggles, observations, and what they’re trying to do. But the problem with that is there is no reason anyone should really listen to me. I am not a doctor. I’m not professionally trained. I’m a random mental patient. The burden is on me to demonstrate to other people why they should give a shit about what I have to say.

I chose to do this via the Oprah approach. Oprah built her empire on making herself the product. Oprah magazine, Oprah network, Oprah Oprah Oprah. The strategy she employed was to build herself as her brand as opposed to building off of a single product. She offered many goods and services all propagating from – you guessed it – the Oprah Winfrey Show.

In the various areas where new people are most likely to land on my website and other internet spaces, I introduce myself first and foremost. “I’m Dennis. I’m a 35 year old High-Functioning Autistic, Type 2 Bipolar with severe Bipolar-Depression. I have seven suicide attempts under my belt, including putting a loaded gun to my head and pulling the trigger on a dud round, and I’m here to tell you that you can recover and have a decent life with Bipolar Disorder.”

That introduction is my sales pitch of myself. I’m piquing the reader’s interest by demonstrating what makes me, as a person, different than the hordes of other people that write about mental illness. I’m not telling you my writing is awesome or that ‘omg, you really need to read this’. I attempt to hook the reader immediately. I’ve been as low as you can possibly go with the Disorder and I publicly disclose it right out of the gate; something a lot of people do not want to do.

Now that I’ve piqued a new reader’s interest with what sets me apart, I can allow my writing to “sell” itself. I strongly believe that quality work will be rewarded, but I can’t tell other people that my work is ‘omg amazing’ without sounding like a pretentious douchebag. So I let my work speak for itself by putting it out there for people to consume.

My Secondary Product – My Writing

There is a common belief in writing that every idea has already been written before. We must find a way to make the subject our own. This is the root of the belief to “write what you know.” No one else can know what you know and express it the way you can because no one else thinks like you.

In my case, I have the problem that many High-Functioning Autistics do where I sometimes lack tact and am far too blunt and straight forward. At the same time, I recognized this as a deficiency in a lot of the information on mental illness that I was digesting. The doctors who are not writers were essentially writing textbooks. The doctors who are writers spent so much time on flowery bullshit that it would become tiresome trying to figure out their point. Then there are the hordes of people that are producing work that essentially serves no purpose past their own therapeutic needs (which is fine!). And lastly, the people who don’t know what spell-check is.

Here’s a free writing pro-tip. If you want people to actually read your writing, proofread that shit and use a spell-check. With how much I read in the course of a day, I’m not going to invest the time into figuring out what you have to say if you can’t invest 2 seconds into pushing F7. I know that my writing isn’t always perfect, but I at least make the effort to ensure it’s fucking readable.

Moving on. When I was a teenager I read a book about writing believable sci-fi and fantasy. A tip the author gave was to “answer the question ‘why?’ 5 times.” It helps you flesh out an idea and provide depth to it.

As a high-functioning autistic, I found that applying this methodology to social interactions and the world around me gave me greater clarity in why people make the choices they do. I also began to turn this methodology to social and mental health problems and solutions.

“Why is mental illness so common, yet so misunderstood?” Because normal people do not have the context to understand it, in the same way that you cannot ask a man what it feels like to give birth to a child or a woman what it feels like to be kicked in the balls. You can make an educated guess; but if you want understanding you have to ask someone that experiences it.

“Well how can I make people actually understand?” By putting it in terms that normal people can relate to. So when I describe depression to a normal person, I don’t describe it as the pointless, hopeless, hell that it is. The listener is going to equate that to their own idea of what depression is. Instead, I did my best to identify something that a normal person can relate to and express it in a way that they can understand.

“Well, think back to the last time you were really sick with a cold or a flu. How did you feel mentally? Probably completely shitty, lethargic, not all happy or positive. You may have grinded through your work day or went to other events because you had to; but we all tend to crave the peace of our bed and sleep in those times. That numb feeling is very similar to what depression feels like; except it can last 24 hours a day for fucking years with the added bonus of people telling you there’s nothing wrong with you, you just need to smile more, or that life is good. Little to nothing feels good. Sex? Promotion at work? Awesome spouse? None of it matters. It’s all muted by the depression. How long do you think it would take for alcohol or suicide to look like good solutions to that problem? And like that bad flu or cold, it is caused by a physical problem in the body that can be corrected.”

The other aspect of my writing is acknowledging the responsibility of standing in the space that I am. A lot of people ask me questions about a lot of very difficult, confusing shit; some of it not even related to mental illness. The two phrases I use most often are “you need to tell your doctor everything you just told me” and “I’m not qualified to speak about that.”

The overall goals for my writing remain the same. I strive to give people information so they know what questions to ask and make better decisions for themselves. It is not my intention to “save” anyone, but to enable people to save themselves. I strive to demystify mental illness, portray it as a challenge that can be confronted and overcome for many, yet still represent it for what it is.

I hate the softening of mental illness. I hate the flowery, romanticized bullshit that so many writers try to console themselves and their readers with. It’s not realistic. Mental illness is a miserable bitch of a destructive force that can fuck your life inside out. But… many mental illnesses are treatable and can be managed if we are willing to make the sacrifices to get there.

Target Demographics and End Game

When I launched Bipolar Manifesto, my original intention was to reach people that were at their lowest and disenfranchised with life and the system. As time has gone on, I have reached several of those people and acquired other demographics along the way. There are people that are simply interested in my perspective. And then there are the loved ones of mentally ill people who have no idea what is going on, what to do, or how to meaningfully help.

Still, my original goal remains the same. But how do you reach people that have been dealing with the chaos and misery of mental illness alone in their mind for years? So many of us convince ourselves that our experiences are totally unique and impossible for anyone else to understand. The truth, however, is that there are other people that have gone through nearly the same shit. Believe me, I know. I get emails and comments that prove this on a regular basis.

I do this by being totally open. I can’t point to a “Doctor” before my name and say “this is why you should listen to me.” The burden is on me to prove to people why they should give a shit what I have to say.

That is why there are hundreds of pages of free information available on my website. That is why I will run free promotions for my e-book as often as Amazon allows. As I move onto the Kindle platform, I am once again needing to prove myself to a new audience of potential readers. I have put together an e-book that addresses many points of confusion that I run into on a regular basis. I provide actionable information that anyone can use to make better choices for pursuing wellness or staying intact while trying to support a mentally ill loved one.

But ultimately, what I have to say about my work and my e-book is irrelevant. What matters is what you have to say about it. I am always considered to be a biased source because it’s my work.

That’s why you are such an important part of this total equation and my advocacy work. Word of mouth advertising is the strongest form there is. People believe their friends and family over an advertisement or some random Bipolar guy on the internet. So whether you decide to pay for it or pick it up during a free promotion; your HONEST reviews and feedback help me reach more people. Whenever you decide to pick it up, I hope you will take a few minutes to write an honest review. If it’s great, tell other people why it’s great. If it sucks, tell other people why it sucks. Honest feedback helps me find the right path and create a better, useful product for other people to benefit from.

The simple truth is that many of the people that reach out to me are not in a position to contribute financially. And that’s fine! I’m thankful for the people that can and do. Much of the time, it is the people that do have healthy lives and decent jobs that contribute a sizable financial contribution here and there that allows me to defray the costs associated with running my website, investing in marketing, and the hours I spend providing meaningful answers to the comments and emails I receive. If you’ve ever emailed me or commented to me, you know that I always try to provide meaningful information and not some superfluous bullshit.

And ultimately, that’s the way I prefer it. It’s not exactly a sustainable model for this to be a sole income stream, but I would rather do that than tell the mother trying to find resources to escape an abusive relationship or a person teetering on their life falling to shit that, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for you since you can’t pay me.”

But, good intentions don’t pay bills, which is why I’m transitioning again to offering quality information through e-books.

So – if you’re suspicious of my motivations or wonder why I give so much of my “product” away for free – these are the reasons why. It is how I demonstrate credibility to people who have no reason to trust a word I have to say. It is how I bring in people and contributions that help defray expenses and invest in reaching more people.

And it is how I keep myself accountable in not getting too up my own ass and arrogant if I swing hypomanic.

My strategy is long-term. I’m not so much concerned with right now as I am where I will be six months from now. Sacrifices now should (hypothetically) pay off in a much larger way in increased range six months from now. In turn, that should hopefully bring in more people needing guidance, more mentally ill people that are isolated, and more people in a position to financially contribute or buy an e-book.

My first e-book, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’, is available for paid pre-order and will be available on August 14th. If you want to read it before making any kind of contribution or are broke, I will be running a free promotion for it shortly after release (entirely dependent on Amazon’s restrictions and policies). It will only be available via Amazon Kindle. Don’t worry, there is an official Amazon Kindle reader for mobile and PC.

Consider making a financial contribution if it is within your means to do so. Every dollar counts and it not only helps me, but helps me reach more people.

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Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

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Table of Contents for my Upcoming e-Book

Just thought I would share with you all the Table of Contents for my upcoming e-Book so you can get an idea of what I decided to include. ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’ is available for pre-order now, exclusively on Amazon/Kindle. I will also remind everyone that if you’re broke or want to read it first before spending money, Amazon offers a program where I will be allowed to offer it for free for a limited time. That will come shortly after release on August 14th.

At any rate, here’s that Table of Contents…

Table of Contents

0.0 – Introduction

1.0 – About Bipolar Disorder

1.1 – Is it a Symptom or a Quirk?

1.2 – Escalation

1.3 – Depression

1.4 – About Self-Diagnosis

1.5 – Misconceptions and Understanding

2.0 – Quirks and Symptoms

2.1 – Examples from My History

2.2 – Other Examples

3.0 – About Depression

3.1 – The Relationship between Depression and Misdiagnosis

3.2 – What Depression Means to the Bipolar Person

3.3 – My Theory: The “Controversy” Surrounding Antidepressants for Treating Bipolar Disorder

4.0 – About Escalation

4.1 – Where does Escalation End and Personal Responsibility Begin?

4.2 – Example Scenarios of Escalated Thinking

4.3 – My Rules of Dealing with Escalation

5.0 – The Anatomy of an Unwell Cycle

5.1 – The Range of Normalcy

5.2 – Baseline Mood

5.3 – The Nature of Triggers

5.4 – The Transition into Unwellness

5.5 – The Body of the Unwell Cycle

5.6 – The End of an Unwell Cycle

6.0 – Seeking Help and Resources

6.1 – About Seeking Help

6.2 – Affordable Mental Health Care

6.3 – About Social Security Disability

6.4 – Shopping for a Disability Attorney

6.5 – The Power of Peer Support

7.0 – A Love/Hate Relationship with Psychiatric Medication

7.1 – Isn’t Psychiatric Medication Dangerous?

7.2 – What about Self-Medication?

7.3 – I Know People that have Committed Suicide while on Psych Meds!

7.4 – What about the “Natural Supplement” Movement?

7.5 – What about Side Effects?

8.0 – Common Components of Misdiagnosis

8.1 – Lack of Communication

8.2 – Inexperience or Lack of Meaningful Knowledge

8.3 – Impatience

8.4 – My Theory: A Common Misdiagnosis

9.0 – Things I Learned the Hard Way

9.1 – You are a Nobody in a Horde of Patients

9.2 – Being Public about Your Mental Illness Brings Different Problems

9.3 – Being Public will Change the Way People Talk to and Treat You

9.4 – Doctors and Therapists are Humans with Their Own Problems

9.5 – Therapy is Incredibly Useful if You Have a Reason to be Using It

9.6 – If You Are Unwell, Just Assume You Cannot Trust Your Brain

9.7 – The Easiest Way to Self-Identify Unwellness Is through Physical Symptoms

10.0 – Misconceptions and Rebuttals

10.1 – “Being mentally ill means I can’t have a happy or productive life.”

10.2 – “I think everyone is a little Bipolar…”

10.3 – “I don’t believe in Bipolar Disorder. It didn’t exist when I was a kid!”

10.4 – “Bipolar people are dangerous, a threat to others.”

10.5 – “All Bipolar people will manipulate their doctors or quit their medication.”

10.6 – “Bipolar Disorder is linked to creativity! Insert names of famous people here…”

10.7 – “Bipolar Disorder is all in your head. You just need more discipline, faith, whatever…”

10.8 – “Bipolar Disorder is a free pass to not take responsibility.”

11.0 – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

11.1 – Are They an Asshole Due to Their Mental Illness or in Addition to Being Mentally Ill?

11.2 – How I Determine if a Person is Toxic

11.3 – The Burden of Parental and Spousal Responsibility

12.0 – An Affirmation

Glossary

Pre-order my first e-book, ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’ today! It will be available on August 14th.

********************

Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

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Kindle Pre-Orders Live For My New E-Book

Pre-orders are live for ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’! The book will release August 14th. And remember, if you want the book for free, I will be running a promo for it once Amazon let’s me after the release.

It is listed as available on Country-specific Amazon sites as well.

Pre-order ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder’ today.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Updates, Updates, So Many Updates

Fair warning, this is long and includes updates about my upcoming e-book and my future plans. So if that doesn’t interest you, let me save you the time!

I have been largely quiet this past month or so, and for good reason! The freelance marketing writing work I was doing for supplemental income largely petered out and I really do not have the inclination to rebuild it at this point. The good news in that is, I was no longer so mentally exhausted that I could not focus enough to actually sit down and write this e-book I have been talking about for the past year or more. Hard to sit down and create good writing for more hours after spending 5 or 6 on marketing.

My First E-book! Yay!

That being said – my first e-book What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder – is currently going through my proofreaders and should be ready to release within a month! (Hopefully sooner.) Yes, I absolutely used proofreaders. I had previous grabbed a couple of the low cost books on the Disorder off of Kindle and they were atrocious. Spell-check is a thing that needs used. Proofreading is a thing. I proofed the damned thing once myself before shipping it out to my proofreader!

What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder is literally about topics that no one really tells you about Bipolar Disorder while you’re trying to survive, get well, and thrive. It is written to be useful to both a mentally ill person or their loved ones. I cover numerous topics relating to common fears, common scenarios people present me with on a regular basis, dealing with the mental health establishment, empowering oneself with knowledge to pursue wellness, and quite a bit more.

The e-book itself is approximately 110 pages (this number may change once it goes through my proofreaders) of quality information, a bit higher when you account for images, glossary, and table of contents. All of it is original writing. I was once asked if I was just going to compile stuff from my blog and website to release as an e-book – the answer to that question is NO. I do talk about several things that I have talked about before, but it is all original text.

As for release and how you can get it, well this is something that I have pondered and researched deeply the past month or so. It really boils down to my need to change my approach in general. Bear with me.

Staying True to My Vision While Trying to Shine

I launched Bipolar Manifesto for numerous reasons. At the core of those reasons was the atrocious, shitty information that was all over the internet about actually dealing with the Disorder, trying to live life, trying to recover. As time went on, I found that probably 60% of the people that reached out to me are actually the loved ones of mentally ill people of all kinds. I was not expecting that demographic but embraced it once I figured it out.

I spent so long undiagnosed with both Bipolar Disorder and High-Functioning Autism because so many people around me either didn’t know what it looked like; or didn’t really give a shit. Thus, I wanted to provide my information for free to whoever needed it, to provide hope, facilitate recoveries, and hopefully reduce suicides.

Unfortunately, good intentions don’t pay bills. I’m also hampering my own ability to reach people by not offering an actual product to profit from, because I typically can’t afford additional advertising that would help get my work in front of more people. So, I’ve been looking at different ways to make doing what I do into a career that will accomplish two goals.

1. Honoring the core belief that I wanted anyone to be able to access and benefit from my work, whether they are sitting in a boardroom or eating out of a garbage can.

2. Get off of Disability and be completely independent.

I’m not interested in getting rich or any such bullshit. I want to build a comfortable life. Anything past that I would be investing in trying to make things better for other people. Money doesn’t mean much to me, but it is most certainly essential for getting anything done in this world.

I’ve explored numerous potential paths for accomplishing these goals. The first and what I view to be optimal for now, is getting certification and a job as a Certified Peer Specialist at a facility. I am pursuing employment that way, which will provide hours, pay, and benefits. It is a viable career and I will essentially be doing the exact same thing I’m doing through my website but in person.

The potential problem I’m now facing is the way I chose to go about providing my information. Even though I know I do good, quality work for people; will a facility want me associated with them? I’m regularly accused of not being “professional” because I decided the best way to build rapport with people struggling was to continue to speak their language.

Or as Lewis Black once put it, “I do not believe in bad words. These are words we use to express frustration, rage, and anger so we don’t pick up a tire iron and beat the shit out of someone. What do people who don’t swear say? What do they say if their company lays them off, they lose their retirement, their house; everything. ‘Oh, golly gee. I just lost everything. Gosh darn it!’”

But, I hate to admit it because I know she will gloat (and I deserve it), but my mother rightly pointed this fact out to me about three years ago. “You don’t want to have the work you do now mess up any potential future opportunities.” I don’t know if it will or not, but there is that concern in the back of my mind. At the same time, I know I made the right choice. One of the first times I landed on an “information page” and I saw the picture of two smiling faces being used as a tool to build rapport with people going through a rough life, I thought to myself, “Fuck those two assholes.” And I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be the only one.

There is too much public advocacy type stuff that does not actually try to speak to people who’s lives have been shit, who haven’t had a genuine smile in years. Those are the people I want to reach. The people just like me, who thought their lives were shit, who were sure they were going to end up killing themselves by 30.

So there you go, mom. I just admitted that you were right in front of thousands of people. I feel so, so dirty. And not in the good way.

Every Plan Needs a Back Up Plan

That being said, I do have back up plans. Many years ago, I read an article about how to make a living doing what you love, no matter what it is. The premise behind that article was to take multiple small things and turn them into revenue streams. The example they gave was about a person who’s passion was scuba diving. That person could offer lessons, sell equipment, and do guided tours. If the person was mechanically inclined, they could even offer maintenance services. While it may be difficult to make a living doing any one of those things, the combination could provide a reasonable income, especially in a tourist spot.

That is essentially the approach I’ve been working on for awhile now. A few years ago I was introduced to Foreign Currency Exchange Trading. Not something you make a ton of money off of without a lot of money, but it is an income stream. I have my website with donations. That’s a very sporadic income stream. Phone consultations are another sporadic income stream. I was doing freelance marketing work, which while providing another stream, also negatively impacted the time I could spend on my e-book. And if I am able to land a job as a CPS, that will be another. The past month or so I have been trying to find a job even just flipping burgers or in regular retail to make up for that shortfall. And then there is Disability that I am still receiving for now.

The back up plan is going into business for myself. Building a business of what I do since the Affordable Care Act made In Home Support Services (Peer Support work) billable to Medicaid, I could actually function as an independent contractor or form a company of my own. To do that, I would need to get state certified and probably have to pay the $1200ish out of pocket for the training and testing. I would probably also need to relocate to a larger city. I’ve always known I was going to end up relocating so I’ve kept my shit to a minimum. Everything I own can fit in one truckload. I’ve deduced that, if I were to just look for someone needing a roommate or rent a room out of someone’s house, I could relocate to another location for under $1500.

Most of the revenue streams I have are foundation or just not reliable. I didn’t want to push hard on them until I was sure I was well and stable enough to no longer need Disability. The good news is that if you relapse within 7 years of coming out of the system, you don’t have to go through the application process again. You can just call SS and there is a quick process to get readmitted.

I think that if I were to go into business for myself, I would probably start as an independent contractor and build towards a for-profit business. The unfortunate part of that approach is that I will be spending way more time figuring out and doing administrative crap than actually helping people. I would need to focus on directing others. On the plus side, I can think of three people that I know off the top of my head who would be great in these roles who are currently just working survival jobs. But these jobs just don’t really exist in a coherent fashion in Ohio at the moment, making it a niche I could potentially step into.

(Being very far thinking theorycrafting) Furthermore, I feel like that much further down the road, I will be looking at how I can organize a push towards protecting and even growing mental health funding at a state level. The poor, disabled, and mentally ill are the ones that get fucked because we don’t have lobbying and special interest groups pushing our agenda and needs.

I’ve also long been thinking of a way to help give people a second chance, whether they are homeless, coming out of prison, or recovering from a mental illness. The soundest way to go about that, I feel, is via a business that can provide goods or services. A service like what I could offer as a CPS or more. The main problem with that is – I don’t particularly want to found a business of my own. And I don’t have the money to invest towards making that happen right now. It’s something I’ve been thinking about the past couple of years and still don’t have a good idea for that I feel would be sustainable. (/end far thinking theorycrafting)

And then there is the possible of going a “Life Coach” route. Life Coach is a borderline bullshit career though, in my opinion. Primarily because there’s no regulation about it. Anyone can call themselves a Life Coach. Good ones typically have some specific body of knowledge or a college degree that they use to provide advice for people. I looked heavily at them when I was trying to find a price point for my Phone Consultation. I’ve seen prices for their “hour long” consultations ranging from $50 to over a $1000 an hour. That is insane to me. But that’s also why I set my price point at $20, because it’s something about anyone can afford and is still worth an hour of my time. Although, depending on how things end up panning out, that may eventually need to increase anyway.

Building an E-Book Revenue Stream

An e-book is a product I can offer to people, but I want to honor my original statement of being very accessible to anyone. With that in mind, let me share the strategy I have come up with for doing so.

People do not read electronic books the same way that they read regular books. They prefer shorter works that they can read in a couple hours and move on. That is a good thing for me because of how complicated this subject matter can get. I can write smaller books about specific subjects relating to my body of work. For example, What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder is specifically filled with things that people really should know about the Disorder and trying to get well. Mostly in the apparatus surrounding the process.

Now that I’m not doing marketing work, I can pretty easily produce a 100-150 page e-book every few months, assuming my brain isn’t being a pile of shit. I can easily write 8-10 pages a day if I can sit down and dedicate the time to getting the shit out of my brain and into a document.

And of course – the important question – how much? The price point I decided on is $4.99. It is a very reasonable price compared to other e-books, especially given the nature of the subject matter, my own body of knowledge, and the fact that I will make absolute sure that it is a quality piece of work people will be fine with spending money on.

I do have to charge something unless I was just going to self-publish through my website. And that is a whole fucking slew of additional work that will take my time and attention away from helping people. After all, e-book providers are businesses and they need to make money too.

I am going to release through Kindle/Amazon exclusively. People without a Kindle can still read it through the “Kindle Reader for Windows” app that is available for mobile and PC. I’ve done a lot of research into how I should go about releasing, and I believe an exclusive release through Amazon is the best approach for reaching a large audience and providing myself options.

– Roughly 70% of all e-books downloads occur through Kindle/Amazon. Huge potential market.

– Amazon offers 70% royalty on book sales priced within $2.99 and $9.99. So for each sale, I’ll make about $3.50, which is fucking awesome compared to traditional publishing.

– Amazon offers benefits for being exclusive! Such as…

– I can price the book for free for up to 5 days every 90 days. I am a mental patient with no credentials. The burden is on me to prove to other people that my work is worthwhile. I will make it FREE for the first 5 days after release. That way you all, my regular readers and followers, in addition to new people; have a chance to pick it up and see what I have to offer. This also allows me to take advantage of Amazon’s “Hot New Release” marketing thing to hopefully generate many more reviews than if I offered it at full price on release. If you pick it up, I hope you will take the time to leave an HONEST review. If it sucks, tell me why it sucks so I can provide a better product. I fully believe that good, quality work will stand on its own. Assuming that Amazon continues this program long-term, I will do this for EVERY book I release so you will always have a chance to get my work FREE!

– Exclusive release also means the book qualifies for other Amazon programs like Lending or picking it up through Amazon Select. Authors do make royalties off of some of these programs so that is a consideration for me. If I recall correct, once a person who picks it up on Select reads 10% of the pages for the first time, I will receive the same royalty as if I had a regular sale. So Select and Prime users will also be able to get it that way.

– Oh, and an additional thought. I do not intend to release physical copies of any books, only digital. That’s another bunch of expenses, time, and effort if I were to physically self-publish. I don’t particularly care if my work ever sees physical print. I can reach many, many more people through the internet.

I did thoroughly look at other platforms or even offering it directly through my webpage. But again, that is a whole shitload more work that will take my time and attention away from producing the next book, content, or trying to help the people that reach out to me. If you don’t use Kindle or don’t want to download Kindle Reader for Mobile or Windows; well, I’m sorry. Not much I can do for that.

What’s Next?

Last year, the first week of August, I had ran a fundraiser to help generate financial contributions for my website to help cover some of what I put out in advertising, web hosting fees, and the bunch of hours that I sink into it. This year, I think I’m going to hold off on that and do a different approach.

You see, I already know what the next e-book is going to be. A subject that I know many people will be interested in – a book about having friendships and relationships with Bipolar Disorder written with anyone in mind to benefit from. After I release this book, I will probably wait a couple of weeks to give people time to read it and review it; then do a Kickstarter so that I can dedicate my time to writing that e-book instead of trying to find a job flipping burgers or working retail.

There will be more information forthcoming about the release of What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder and what I plan to do for fundraising in the coming weeks. Hopefully, August.

Anyway, if you managed to get through this, you deserve a cookie. But I can’t send you a cookie. So I’ll give you a free e-book soon instead!

And I would like to close this meandering post with a thank you. Thank you to everyone that has supported what I do, through sharing my work, taking the time to comment to me, or financially contributing. It all means a lot to me and I appreciate you all for it. I never in a million years could have guessed, when I was at my lowest, that all that pain and suffering would eventually be worth something positive.

If you’d like to help me out, please consider making a financial contribution. As always, please like and share my work through your favorite social media outlets. You never know which of your friends may be suffering in silence that could use my body of work.

********************

Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Bipolar Disorder and Depression: Should I Apply For Disability?

There is a lot of misinformation and relative stupidity surrounding Disability and Social Services in general. I’ve met people that view it as anything from a question of weakness and pride to validation of their being screwed up. And all of it is ridiculous to the point of stupidity.

So what is Disability? A quick Google Definition reveals the following:

any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income.

– (in the US) a federal insurance program that provides benefits to retired people and those who are unemployed or disabled.

And what is the government definition of Disabled? For that, let’s turn to the U.S. Department of Labor:

The term “disability” is defined by the federal government in various ways, depending on the context. For the purposes of federal disability nondiscrimination laws (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act), the definition of a person with a disability is typically defined as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities,” (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

For purposes of Social Security disability benefits, a person with a disability must have a severe disability (or combination of disabilities) that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or result in death, and which prevents working at a “substantial gainful activity” level. State vocational rehabilitation (VR) offices define a person with a disability to be eligible for VR services if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a “substantial impediment” to employment for the applicant.

So what does that mean?

Simply put, if a recurring physical or mental problem prevents “substantial gainful activity”, such as gainful employment since we all need to do it, you fall under the government definition of “disabled”. All people with Bipolar Disorder fall under this umbrella. All. Now, does that mean that you are eligible for benefits? No. It does mean you can invoke rights afforded to you by the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation dealing with people with disabilities.

Approval for benefits comes down to proving that your disability interferes with your ability to conduct at least one major activity, usually working. A recent discussion I had featured the common sentiment of “I’m too sick to work, but not sick enough for disability.” Wrong. If you are too sick to work due to a chronic or recurring condition, then you are “sick enough” for disability! What matters after that point is proving it to the SSA.

But my doctor, family, spouse, whoever tells me I’m not!

Let me again point you back to the legal definition of disabled – (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities,” (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. In addition to for purposes of Social Security disability benefits, a person with a disability must have a severe disability (or combination of disabilities) that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or result in death, and which prevents working at a “substantial gainful activity” level.

Does your impairment meet these criteria? Do you swing up, work a job for a few weeks or a few months before your downswing destroys it all? Does your depression make it impossible for you to hold down a full-time job? Does your mental illness prevent you from interacting and participating in full-time employment? Does anxiety crush your ability to deal with the public or coworkers? Then you likely meet the legal criteria for being disabled and may have a case to make for disability benefits.

Here’s a good rule of thumb; before you take advice on a matter, have the person define what you’re asking about. If they can’t even tell you what the subject matter is, then how are they providing you meaningful, knowledgeable advice?

I know because I took the time to research it, talk to my attorney, and even spent time bullshitting with a Social Security employee to pick their brain on this subject.

Now, the matter of the doctor that says, “you don’t need it”, which is something I hear about on a regular basis. Simply put – do they actually know what they’re talking about? Remember, their opinions are based off of the information you’ve given them over the handful of hours you’ve interacted with them on a regular basis. They’re not with you 24-7 to see how your mental illness affects you specifically. Their opinions are based on the limited amount of information they have about your life, functionality, and their own knowledge and biases that may not be founded in your reality.

Furthermore, they’re operating off of the information that you give them. Are you giving them all of the right information for them to understand? Do you know every detail and nuance of what you experience to be able to relate it to your doctor?

I had two psychiatrists tell me I didn’t need Disability; even after explaining to them fucking up college and the 24+ jobs I’ve had since I graduated high school, being briefly homeless, and the chaos that was my personal life. You know who disagreed? The Judge that heard my case and approved my claim; which gave me the resources to get my shit together. I have no idea why those two psychs claimed that I couldn’t maintain gainful employment even though I had a 15 year history of not being able to maintain gainful employment.

Doctors aren’t lawyers. Their testimony isn’t the sole lynch-pin in approval or rejection. Their insight and input is one piece of the entire puzzle. It will not make or break your claim.

The Most Important Word

Proof. I bolded and italicized it for a reason. You need to prove that your medical condition prevents substantial gainful activity. Testimony is not proof. It is an opinion. A lot of the information you will provide to the SSA in the application process does not necessarily prove your claim. The more information that you can provide lends more weight to proving the claim. Disability is a government program and is wrapped up in just as much bullshit and red tape as any other government program. This is exactly why you should not listen to your doctor, parents, spouse, whoever.

My advice? Get a local disability lawyer. There are a lot of “national” chains that advertise on television and around the internet. Ignore that crap. You want someone close by who’s office you can actually go to if need be. They work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if you win your claim. Their fees will be a portion of whatever back award you are given. They should lay out how payment works before accepting you as a client.

There is, literally, nothing to lose by talking to a Disability attorney; other than back award money that you may not have been awarded to you without their help.

I spent 4 years in the system, with a mostly blank claim, for some reason, before I finally got smart and secured an attorney. I was too depressed and did not think I would ever get approved, so I did not advocate for myself. Most people will not take that long to get through the process. Average time is about a year at the moment.

Should You Apply For Social Security Disability?

Does your mental illness prevent you from maintaining long-term, consistent, full-time employment?

If the answer to that question is “yes”, then scoot on over to SSA.gov, make yourself an account, and start the application process. You will need your work history and medical history information; as well as names and phone numbers of facilities and medical professionals that have treated you.

If you get rejected, APPEAL. Always, always, always appeal until you are out of appeals. There’s like six levels of appeal, the final being going before a Judge to discuss your conditions and how it affects your life. That is the most likely time for a person with a mental illness to be approved because the step involves you actually discussing your life with someone instead of a person or committee analyzing the information you submitted.

It is MUCH harder to prove how a mental illness negatively affects your daily life through documentation; unlike something like a spinal injury which is clear. But you still want to build your case by providing every ounce of documentation relating to your diagnosis, treatment, and how it affects your life.

Your Life Does Not End With Disability

Disability is a resource. Some people need it for the rest of their lives, some people do not. In my case, I’m very much looking forward to transitioning off of it, hopefully within the next year or so. I’ve used the resources being approved for Disability opened up to me – additional funds and insurance – and worked to get my mental illness manageable.

People that are able to recover may be able to utilize government programs for rehabilitation to go to college or a trade school to actually have a career. Vocational Rehab may pay your way through school, assuming you meet the criteria for it. And if you get unwell in the future? Your prior approval basically lets you skate through the re-application process. You don’t have to go through all that again if you relapse.

Disability isn’t necessarily an end. It may be the beginning of a well, recovered life for you.

Don’t overlook it because some people don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

********************

Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.

Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.

Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

Posted in General, Self-Help | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Martyrs of Mental Illness, Here’s Your Cookie

There are quite a few things about the circumstances surrounding mental illness that irritate me to no end. Today, I’m going to be complaining about the “martyrs” of mental illness!

Let me be clear, I do NOT think less of people that decide to stay in a difficult situation with a Bipolar or mentally ill person. I am fully aware that there was a point when that person was probably a wonderful or great person, that you would like to see them recover. You are absolutely entitled to vent, rage, be sad; whatever. What I have a problem with is the following…

Allow me to paraphrase the complaint I hear on a regular basis.

“People play the victim card too much. “Oh, I have ‘Bipolar Disorder/Other Serious Mental Illness’ and I can’t be held responsible for my actions.” What about me? What about everything I’ve been through? My loved one has been abusive and shitty to me in the years we’ve been together. But society says ‘oh you’re Bipolar’ so it’s okay.”

Yeah, it’s society’s fault that the person chose to stay in an abusive, terrible relationship for decades. Being mentally ill is just a bucket of blowjobs! That’s why we have high suicide rates, rates of homelessness, and dysfunctional lives. I can totally do whatever I want and absolutely won’t end up in jail or homeless as a result!

No, society didn’t make it permissible. The enabling partner in that relationship made it permissible. That shit is just weak reasoning to justify their own poor choices. You don’t want to divorce an abusive person that has zero desire to get better because that’s “just not what we were raised to do”? That’s not society’s fault, that’s your fault. Marriage is a contract – to love, honor, and respect one’s partner. An abusive party breaches their part of their contract. No one should feel obligated to stay in an abusive relationship because of what they think their God or other people will think.

Who gives a rat’s ass if the intangible concept of “society” doesn’t like what you do? They aren’t living your life! And please kill the “God put this into my life as a test” garbage. Yeah, your God created you for the sole purpose of being here to suffer another person’s abuses. If that were true, then your God must have created the abusive partner solely to be here to treat you like shit – which is a little fucked up.

And guess what? Putting up with that shit, enabling that person to act that way by not holding them responsible when appropriate, makes it harder for them to actually recover. You continuously demonstrate that “hey, it’s perfectly okay for you to treat me like complete shit and I will keep coming back for more!” Why in the fuck would they ever think they NEED to change? That they cannot continue to conduct their life as they are?

That’s not society’s fault. That’s not society’s choice. That’s the enabler’s choice. So don’t play the victim card after decrying the use of the victim card. You have no one to blame but yourself if you choose to stay in that situation.

Does that mean we blindly act without compassion? No. My rule of thumb is simple. If the person is actively trying and just failing horribly, then I’m on their side. It’s that simple. Is the person trying? Or are they just coasting and dragging you through their shittiness? I have and will continue to go through a lot of shit for people that are genuinely trying to better themselves.

And I get accused of “not being on the side of mentally ill people” on a fairly regular basis as well. You’re right, I’m not! I’m on the side of what is fair. It is unreasonable to expect a “free pass” on shit behavior when you’re not willing to visit a therapist or doc, take the meds, and work to be well. It is unreasonable to expect ANYONE to have a bottomless well of patience, kindness, and understanding when you don’t do anything to better your situation.

A major goal in my advocacy work is to help mentally ill people preserve and improve the lives they have; to keep that well from drying up completely and that relationship from dying. To do so, we MUST acknowledge the suffering we inflict on our loved ones as just as important, just as severe as our own – because it fucking is.

Life isn’t fair or “balanced”. Stop acting like it is, like you’re absolutely powerless to do anything because of what “society” deems or what you “feel”. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are any good for you. You always have a choice. It’s just not always a good one.

The situation is not special or unique. Millions of other people around the world have gone through or go through similar. Acting like you don’t have a choice, then blaming intangible entities and concepts is playing the victim card just as much the person who blames their mental illness and does nothing to help themselves.

Spent decades in a terrible, abusive relationship with a toxic mentally ill person? Have a cookie. Now quit blaming everyone else for your choices and do something about it.

I sincerely hope that comes off as condescending as I think it sounds…

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Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

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Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!

-Dennis

Posted in Coping, Self-Help | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments