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

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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…

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

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, Self-Help | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Generic Medications Are Not “Knock Offs”

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this list of generic meds I compiled in a public place. One of the very first comments I received was to the tune of “You shouldn’t be recommending drugs, let alone knock off drugs to people. You’re not a doctor.”

1. They are correct. I am not a doctor. And you will note that I have never claimed to be, nor will ever claim to be. Because I am not. I am an eloquent mental patient. Nothing more.

2. Did I recommend any drugs? No. I compiled a list of $4 generic psych medications out of public information freely available from your local Big Box retailer. I said “if affordability is an issue, you can discuss these with your doctor to see if any is a good fit for you”. That is not recommending a treatment. That is recommending that YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR TREATMENT.

In my purely unprofessional opinion and what I’ve personally witnessed, it may cause MORE damage to have someone go on a psych med for a few months and then need to come off of it because they cannot afford it. Bipolar Disorder is for life. You need to plan for long-term management. Can you afford $100 a month for prescriptions? Most people I know cannot. Therefore, $4 generic equivalents are a better alternative.

3. Generic medications are NOT knock offs. People wrongly assume that the medication industry is driven by the standard supply and demand model, like much of retail. It is not. A company patents a formula, researches it, and is allowed to attempt to recoup costs of development and profit from it in the time remaining on the patent – which is 20 years from the establishment thereof. They essentially set their own price point.

Medications that fall OUTSIDE of that patent period can be produced by any other company. Many times, they are produced by the original company and put out as “generic equivalents”. They are the same chemically. The only difference is that they are now outside of this patent period, so the company does not have free reign to put whatever price point they want on the drug. This is why new medications cost so much.

4. Doctors are not pharmacists. Doctors are not the financial wing of whatever entity they work through. They do not price shop for you. Their job is to treat whatever problem you are bringing to the table. YOU need to tell your doctor if price matters or you do not have insurance that covers prescriptions.

I take two generic meds – lithium carbonate and citalopram. I pay $8 a month for both of my prescriptions. The lithium works great; but I’ve always had a hard time with antidepressants. Is that the fault of the citalopram? No. Chemically, it is Celexa.

So long as I’m not ordering my psych meds from a sketchy, internet pharmacy based out of El Salvador; there is not going to be a difference between putting name brand Celexa in my body instead of citalopram. The only difference is the bureaucracy surrounding it.

This is not new or “secret” information. It is all publicly available if you look into how medications are developed.

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A Rant On Josh Duggar And Useless People

When I started my Bipolar Manifesto about three years ago now, my intention was to try and reach other Bipolar and Depressed people. I figured these were the people I would aim try to help out if I could. What actually ended up happening was different. Maybe 20% of the people that reach out to me are Bipolar or Depressed. Probably 60% or so are loved ones of those people trying to figure out what’s going on. The remaining 20% is a mix of “other”. People of many different backgrounds, with different mental illnesses and life experiences.

Many of the people that reach out to me feel alienated from the system, either afraid or badly treated by it. Many of these people are just looking for a friend, just someone they can talk to who won’t minimize their problems or make them feel worse about them.

I’ve heard a lot of shit as a result. And I’ve listened to – fuck, I have no idea how many – people pour out their guts about the horrific shit done to them as children. And in almost every single one of those stories, there is at least one person who knew in some way. Either, the child told them trying to get help or they saw something. I don’t mean the people that “suspected”. I mean people that fucking knew in some way that could not be disputed.

Here’s what I don’t fucking understand. I’m fine with the concept of evil. I get that. There is genuine good and evil in the world. I’ve seen both in my life. I can understand that there are people so broken, so fucked up that victimizing people is right to them.

What I can’t understand is the fucking apathy. How can anyone be okay with letting that shit happen?

Years ago, I thought that evil was the worst part of humanity. But it’s not. No, it’s the fucking apathy. A majority of people are fucking useless and wouldn’t piss on you to put out a fire. They would break out their cell phones and record it though!

Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God.” – Duggars – I don’t even give a shit which one.

I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions,” Josh shares. “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”

On behalf of the LGBT people this piece of shit vilified as “endangering the well-being of children” because of their sexuality, of the people who have shared some of their darkest memories with me, of my two ex-gfs with PTSD and night terrors decades after their abuse, of the people who suffer in silence because their ability to trust has been destroyed, of the people who will suffer for the rest of their lives because of actions like this, who feel they have no voice and are unable to speak up for themselves – Fuck. You. Get fucked with a pineapple soaked in tabasco.

Fuck you, to you worthless pieces of shit who do nothing. Fuck you, to the fucking politicians sliming out of the woodwork to defend a CHILD MOLESTER. And fuck you to a three year statute of limitations.

Why in the hell is the statute of limitations on “inappropriate contact with a minor” three fucking years? Can anyone explain that to me? Why is it that a crime that can fuck up the rest of a person’s life, destroy their ability to have relationships, to trust, to have peace of mind; three fucking years?

Well, maybe it has something to do with the politicians coming forward to defend their little buddy!

What the fuck, Huckabee? My first thought on that shit is – why do you feel the need to stand up for a sexual predator, exactly? What the fuck are you doing behind closed doors?

Yeah, Jesus “cured” you, Josh. Fuck you.

But that does bring up an interesting question. If there is a Heaven and Hell, and all you have to do is ask for forgiveness to be accepted into God’s graces; I wonder how it goes when repentant rapists, child molesters, and murderers meet their victims in Heaven? Awwwwwwwwkwaaaaaaaaaaaaard.

Frankly, I would rather burn in Hell with honest evil. At least, I know what I’m dealing with then. And please, spare me the shit about “not my God, he wouldn’t just forgive that!” Read your Bible. There’s no fucking clauses for that shit.

“We prolly in hell already. Our dumbasses not knowin’, everyone kissin’ ass to get to heaven ain’t goin’. Put my soul on it..” – Tupac Shakur

Forgive? The only thing this piece of shit is sorry about is getting outed. And the worst part is, as his statements seem to imply, he’ll just continue to spin it as a “test from God”. Yeah, God and Jesus gave you the urge to molest children as a test to see if you would give into molesting children. I can see no flaws in that logic at all!

And if you are reading this and are knowledgeable about someone having inappropriate contact with a child, whether it’s full on fucking or some minor petting, you are FUCKING WORSE than the piece of shit doing it. Because you’re a fucking coward who won’t do the right thing and help that child. Get off your worthless ass and call the cops. Not your fucking religious authorities, not your head coach, not your family so it all gets neatly swept under the rug and the victim fucking forgotten about.

Or maybe they’ll be like ol’ Josh here and get a stern-talking to from a cop who is now serving a 56 year sentence for possession of child pornography!

Fuck me. Sigh.

Anyone know where I put my lithium?

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

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.

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Bipolar Disorder: Three Tips For Finding Peace in Chaos

Awhile back, someone asked me “how did you manage to find peace with being Bipolar?” It’s a question I’ve thought about a lot. Not only did I not have an answer, but I felt like it was something that could potentially be very useful for other people. I think that I may have narrowed it down to a few important points that may be useful for others.So let’s have a look…

Dispel Fear and Uncertainty with Knowledge

Many fears that are not the result of atypical processes come from a lack of information. After my diagnosis, I began to read and absorb as much information as I could on Bipolar Disorder and the way it is treated. I quickly realized that a lot of the information that I was taking in really did not relate to how I experienced the Disorder. So, one of my early goals was to figure out how my mental illness affected me specifically.

There is a lot of chaos and shittiness that goes along with being Bipolar. It is pretty difficult to predict what the results of an unwell cycle may be. Will we run screaming into chaos or crash into suicidal depression? I have no idea what tomorrow will bring in that regard. However, Bipolar Disorder is an illness. There are threads of order in the way it functions. I may not know what this escalated cycle will bring; but I can at least start planning for the fact I will soon be unbalanced by identifying the symptoms that point to it.

Understanding how the Disorder affects me, specifically, removed a lot of the anxiety about what my brain was doing.

Figure out how Bipolar Disorder functions and affects you.

My clearest indicators of escalation are an inability to sleep more than 4 hours at a time while not being tired, racing thoughts, and pressured speech. There are other symptoms but they are things I experience in times other than when I’m escalated. The pressured thoughts, speech, and inability to sleep are things that ONLY manifest when I’m escalating. They are also things that a third party can point out to me. I may not know what the cycle will bring, but I at least know I’m heading into choppy waters and can start planning accordingly.

I feel that the easiest way to go about doing this is to read as much as possible about the Disorder and eliminate that which does not apply to you.

Let Go Of What You Can’t Control

I’m pretty sure I could hear everyone out there with Anxiety scream out all at once as I was writing that. “But Dennis! It’s not that simple!” No, it isn’t that simple. I never said or would say it is. It takes practice and work to learn to let go of things and accept them for what they are. It takes effort to change thought processes. And it is much harder if you also happen to have an unchecked mood disorder or problems with Anxiety.

A technique that I learned awhile ago involves distraction. This is particularly true for Bipolar unwell cycles. The more you dwell on a point of information, the further it is going to drive you into unwellness. When I trigger, I do my best to separate myself from that situation as much as I possibly can until my brain has had a chance to move past that time period where it is just fueling the start of the unwell cycle. Within a day or two, my brain will reach whatever new level it was going to advance to and then I can address the situation more effectively.

“But I have to address this situation now!” I know. Some things you can’t just set aside and ignore. What you can do is force yourself to not dwell on it when you aren’t attempting to get anything productive done about it. Let me use a hypothetical example.

Dad has a heart attack. It is clearly a serious situation that needs attention and focus that will most likely trigger an unwell cycle. However, there’s only so much you can do that in that situation. You’re going to spend a lot of time waiting. And the more time you spend sitting around thinking about the situation and every potential “What If” scenario, the further your brain is going to escalate. So you don’t want to spend every hour in the waiting room, agonizing over what could happen.

My choice for distraction are Sudoku puzzles. They are a grid with numbers where you use logical reasoning to figure out what numbers go where. Don’t be afraid, it’s not math! It’s logical thinking – if this number is here, it can’t go there – and so on. I throw myself into working through these puzzles because I have to actively think about them. And I time myself on seeing how long it takes to solve them. So instead of spending hours agonizing in the waiting room, I’m still present but my mind is focused on something else instead of what could happen. In doing so, I reduce the extreme to which my brain is trying to run away.

You can use anything that requires active thinking. Mindless is bad. It still leaves room for the circumstance to force its way back into your thoughts on a regular basis. When it does creep into your thoughts, you just have to push it back out unless it is necessary for you to deal with at the time.

Find a way to distract yourself from dwelling on circumstances out of your control.

Meditation, puzzle solving, really anything that will put your thoughts elsewhere can help. You’re not avoiding the problem. You’re just minimizing the amount of attention you give it while your brain shifts from the trigger point to wherever it’s going to land in unwellness. The more you dwell on the trigger in that period of time, the worse it’s going to be.

Create Positive Out of Negative

Bipolar Disorder is the best and worst thing about me. I would not be sitting here writing this had the Disorder not caused the problems I faced while I was undiagnosed. I was able to really see and understand these things because of that perspective. It taught me important lessons – like the need for humility, patience, and asking questions.

On the other hand, I fucking hate the fact that I can’t trust my own brain. Is what I feel real? Or is it my brain just fucking with me at the moment? I know I have to be vigilant about watching out for potential triggers, which can be exhausting at times. Any time I have a “really great” idea, I need to run it past people I trust to make sure it actually is a good idea and not just my Bipolar brain spinning it that way to me. Plus all of the chaos, bullshit, and depression that goes with it. It sucks ass. And I really hate it.

I don’t know if I would go so far as to choose to not be that way though. I know I’ve helped a number of people because I’ve had the perspective that I do. In my mind, suggesting that I would choose to have never been Bipolar means those people may have never had a perspective to benefit from. And my pains and challenges are no more important than those of anyone else.

I remind myself of that fact when I start slipping into depression or feeling overwhelmed. This negativity and shittiness may bear positive circumstances later on. Don’t get lost or dwell too much in the moment. Just get through it and add it to the body of knowledge I’ve already accrued.

Advocacy work is how I turned my negative into a positive. Respecting the trials and tribulations that the Disorder threw into my life as a means of learning and challenges to overcome keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by them. They are just problems to find solutions to and learn from. Everyone has challenges and difficulties in life. Changing the way you view those challenges and difficulties makes it much easier to deal with them.

Find a way to turn negative circumstances into something positive.

There are many ways you can accomplish this, as varied as our individual lives. Probably the easiest route is to volunteer for some non-profit work. There are many avenues where people that have experienced hardships can use them to help someone else. Even if you decide to just go bang some nails in for Habitat for Humanity, you can take some pride in knowing that you made a positive contribution. That can do wonders for your own mentality and feelings of self-worth.

The obvious leap, in this circumstance, would be to try and get involved in non-profit work or get a job helping people with problems like yours. That will not be a great solution for everyone. You need to have a good control over your own problems and your ability to stay balanced when immersed in the pain of someone else. I’ve met a couple of people who could not maintain a healthy separation and it spurred on their own unwellness.

I strive to maintain a healthy, reasonable perspective. My goal is to not “save the world”; it’s to leave people better than I found them and encourage them to do the same. I can’t force people to make the right or better decisions for themselves; I can only present them with information that I hope will help them make a better decision. The only problems I own are my mine, because those are the only ones I can meaningfully affect.

I feel like these three points were the main foundation of finding peace and acceptance with the Disorder. Point 1 gave me understanding. Point 2 reduces the chaos and makes unwellness more manageable. And Point 3 helps me keep a positive perspective if things aren’t going smoothly.

Things aren’t perfect, they never will be. But they sure as hell are better than they were ten years ago.

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

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, General | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Of Updates, Random Thoughts, and E-Books…

I haven’t posted anything in awhile, but I have been busy behind the scenes with life and figuring things out in general; in addition with just taking some needed “rest” time for myself while adjusting to an increase in an antidepressant dosage. Still not working worth a crap though, unfortunately. Meh.

A few months ago I crossed paths with someone who actually had knowledge of a two facilities that employ Certified Peer Specialists that are only a couple of hours from where I live. I’ve discussed this career path before. It’s essentially doing what I do through my website now, except in person and with a steady paycheck attached to it. Given that said facilities only hire a couple times a year due to when training is offered, I’ve been giving serious contemplation to relocating to that area so that I would be in a position to pursue a career with one of them when hiring opened and positions were available.

Between Disability, what I can pull from marketing work, and I can pursue a part-time job with a local retailer (thank you 60% turn over rate!); I should be able to make a somewhat smooth transition. Worst case scenario, I pay rent with Disability and live off of Ramen noodles and food pantry fixin’s for a little while.

I’ve embarked on this journey a few times in the past, only to have it blow up in my face. But that was pre-diagnosis, before I understood what makes me who I am, why I think how I do, and why I floundered and fucked up so much before that. I’m 35, and this is the first time in my life I feel like I have a healthy plan and the best opportunity for success.

It makes me wonder how people decide at 17-18 what they want to do with the of their life. I didn’t figure that shit out until I was like 30. So yeah.

I’ve been living with my brother this past while. And I think it’s about time I got out of his hair as he is looking to start a new phase of his own life with his Fiancee. So, regardless of which approach I take, I think a change is in the future for me.

In this quiet time, I have also been working on trying to finish writing an e-book. I’ve mentioned this project a few times in the past couple of years. It’s been a lot more challenging than I thought with complications from real life, depression, and trying to work as a marketing copywriter as well. Spend six hours writing marketing shit and the last thing you really want/can do is to spend more hours writing. I love writing, but goddamn.

Another problem is in organization of material. At first, I was going to forego writing about anything “basic” that was easy to access information in the public sphere about Bipolar Disorder and Depression; but then it occurred to me that the reader may not necessarily have all the information to understand what the hell I’m talking about. I don’t like to be told what to think. I like to present all of the information of why I think the way I do and let the reader come to their own conclusion. If the reader agrees, cool. If not, I hope they’ll bring it up to me with their own facts and experiences so I can grow my own body of knowledge.

So then I was thinking, well maybe I need to do a “Foundation of Knowledge” book or chapters so the reader would be able to clearly understand where I was coming from. If I roll it into the initial book, the fucking thing is going to end up like 500 pages long which is just way the hell too long. I mean, I’ll sit down and read textbooks and shit; but I know most people have zero interest in that crap.

Then I thought, well maybe I just need to organize it better. I know what I do NOT want to do – and that is release like 10-12 page “e-books” like some people have. And they’re usually double-spaced – which makes it less of a “book” and more of a “pamphlet”, but whatever. I could be fine with a smaller “novella” length though.

So I think what I’m going to do is aim to make each about 100 pages long. The information surrounding this stuff can be difficult to process; so I’m thinking that 100 pages will be long enough to get what I need to say out about the subject but still be manageable enough to re-read a time or two for everything to sink in well. As opposed to a 500 page book where the reader will forget most of chapter one by the time they get halfway through it.

Definitely much more difficult with many more considerations than just producing blog posts and what I’ve put up on my website over the past few years. I have about 150 pages of miscellaneous chapters written at this point. Thought it was only about 80 but then I found a folder with a bunch of stuff I had written and utterly forgot about. (Thank you for that, brain.) Quite a bit of it will need retooled though. The fun of drafting!

Anyway, if you have thoughts, opinions, or suggestions on an approach for this; I’m all ears. I’m close to settling on just aiming to produce multiple 100-ish page e-books. I’m going to offer them on a Pay What You Want basis; so cost isn’t a consideration. My primary goal is to present said information in a way that is easy to understand and retain.

What is your opinion on length and approach? Let me know via comment or however you may talk to me.

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

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 | 4 Comments

Bipolar Disorder: A Question of Moral Character?

The following post was written as a response to another half-informed comment thread in my post “Bipolar Disorder: A Reason Or An Excuse?”. The comment about Downs stems from another comment where the original author weakly related the two. 

At any rate, I decided to turn this into a post, primarily so I would have some place to point people instead of needing to repeat my response on a continued and regular basis. Enjoy!

As posted by Sandi: 

 

People with Down Syndrome, on average, aren’t as likely as bipolar people to gaslight, cheat on, manipulate, squeal at, violently attack, or play mindgames with people they claim to love as Bipolar people are.

Yes, they ARE different.

I know an individual who has bipolar and his behaviour is ABHORRENT, and I’ve mostly only talked to him on the phone so far. Lying to me (mixing up details, having a “poor memory”, denying having said things, usually negative ones, gaslighting me and shitting on my self esteem, telling me I overanalyze him when I’m just asking a simple question or mistaking what he says for something else (not necessarily anything “deeper” or more psychological like he says I’m doing), using his mother’s sickness as an excuse for not answering valid and gently phrased questions while MY mother was DYING)

Oh, you know, little things like that.

Bipolar people absolutely do know the way their behavior effects others because even though a good percentage of them are little glops of horse jizz who have no empathy, empathy is not necessary to be aware of the fact that others are hurt, just to CARE that they are hurting them. And sadly many of them don’t care. But they know.

And don’t listen to dopes like Natasha Tracy who write Bipolar apology articles, which trick normal humans into dating these (likely to be- not all, but likely to be) uncompassoinate freaks of nature instead of being responsible and warning others that they have higher rates of narcissism and destructive behaviour. Apparently, their “rights” to not be “stereotyped” are more important than keeping the rest of us normies safe.

I am so sick of apolgizing for mentally ill behavior (some of it is stuff like losing temper and control of one’s body, but other stuff, especially the verbal stuff like the pathological lying and the purposeful confusing of the other person for NO reason even of self defense, is on purpose by default).

We have become a society that talks too much about psychology and too little of morals, and sometimes there is such thing as a moral illness.”

 

 

At first, I was tempted to sluice this post into the spam heap; but I decided against it.

The similarity that Bipolar Disorder shares with Downs (and many other mental illnesses) is the physical difference of the brain. Some people are born with defective livers, kidneys, lungs; some people are born with defective brains. Many mental illnesses (such as Bipolar Disorder) are genetic. My family has a history of Bipolar Disorder, as do many others. So behavior-wise, no, they are not the same. They are the same in that they are the result of physical problems with the brain that impact functionality in a negative way.

In regards to the individual you know – why are you still talking to them if they are so awful to you? How about not letting them do it? How about distancing yourself from the person? How about minimizing the damage the person can do to you?

Time and time again, people lament on how awful they are treated by a Bipolar person, never once considering that they simply don’t have to be involved.

I regularly see people complain that Bipolar Disorder is used an excuse. My question is – what difference does it make? The only thing stopping you from standing up for yourself is you. Would it make you feel better if the person would just say “hey, I’m an asshole!” How many terrible people have you known to do that, who were not just seeking attention? How many dozens of times have you heard “he seemed so nice” or “I’ve known him all my life” right after some horror came to light?

“Blah blah blah. They use it an excuse.” No. People that whine about it being used as an excuse are the ones using it as an excuse. NOTHING is stopping you from standing up for yourself and saying “You can’t do this, this is wrong.” and taking steps to remove yourself from that situation.

So let’s talk about a problem of society; a society that values opinions and feelings more than facts. I’m sick of people acting like they’re entirely helpless and putting the responsibility on someone who is KNOWN TO BE MENTALLY ILL to make good, rational decisions. That seems like a fantastic idea! Let’s also walk out into the middle of a highway blindfolded. I’m sure that will work out great too.

I’m sick of people thinking their feelings and opinions are a replacement for fact. It’s clear that you’re angry and upset about being treated badly; as you should be. That is fair and valid. Making sweeping statements about the Disorder and the people suffering from it based on those feelings? Not so much.

I’m sick of ignorant people thinking that Bipolar Disorder is some new or made up mental illness. The oldest surviving mention of the Disorder is from one thousand years ago in The Canon of Medicine, written by the Persian doctor Avicenna. Early on it was known as the Circular Illness, then it became Manic-Depression, now it’s Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder has a long and storied history; ranging from the pens of the Persian physician to Chinese doctors of the 1500s to the European developments of the 1800’s and 1900’s that paved the understanding we have today.

We have become a society that talks too much about psychology and too little of morals, huh? There’s another argument I’m sick of hearing. Humanity is no different today than it has ever been. People pine for the alleged golden age; a time when racism and sexism were fine. A time when mentally ill people were locked away in asylums in conditions worse than prisons with even less rights. Humanity has always been awful and always will be.

And some people are just toxic people who also happen to be mentally ill. Some people are mentally ill and able to maintain some sense of normalcy with the assistance of meds, self-management, and support from friends and family. Some people cannot be helped. Some people can.

You always have a choice. You can choose who you let into your life and how you let them affect you. It may not always be a good choice, but at least you have one.

We, on the other hand, have to spend the rest of our lives dealing and managing this mental illness – 24/7/365 – while being bombarded by the unfounded, asinine opinions of people who seem to think that “oh, it’s just a matter of making better decisions” or “be a better person”.

And no matter how awful you think you’ve been treated – I can guarantee you that person has done just as bad to themselves; oftentimes without even realizing the destruction and chaos they create. People like you act like being mentally ill is a get out of jail free card, like the crap we do in our lives doesn’t have repercussions. It ALL does. It’s miserable, horrible, and painful; and that’s part of the reason why untreated Bipolars have a 20%+ suicide rate.

But hey! I guess I could have easily avoided those 7 suicide attempts, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, dozens of lost jobs, two broken engagements, ruined relationships, homelessness, and screwing up college if I was just a more moral, better person!

I’m kind of confused though. I mean, I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into helping inform people, helping them find local services, being a shoulder, pulling them out of depression, tempering their escalations, and calming their fears. I’ve helped a few people leave abusive relationships. I’ve helped a vet past his hurdles to seek care for his PTSD. I’ve been a friend to people who felt like they had no one in this world; listening to their darkest pains and thoughts. I’ve encouraged at least a couple dozen people back into therapist and doctor’s offices, helped them communicate with their professionals better, and push towards wellness.

Yet here I am, still Bipolar! I must not be moral enough? I must not care enough? Is that right?

I have ALWAYS been capable of empathy and care. However, this little glop of horse jizz spent years full of hate, anger, and self-loathing; unable to keep anything together because of the physically rooted mental illness I inherited. I was able to attain a large degree of perspective and understanding by educating myself on the Disorder, how it’s treated, how it affects me, and medication.

I do agree with you on one point though; caring and empathy are woefully rare in this world. Particularly from people who stand behind their “morals” to pass judgment on people and things they know nothing about.

And despite our “disagreement” on the basic facts of mental illness, I am very sorry to hear about what you went through with your mother. That must have been extremely painful and difficult for you. My condolences to you and your family.

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

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, General | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

How #TheDress Demonstrates Mood Disorder Unwellness

The whole #TheDress thing is a pretty awesome example of how a person’s perception shapes the way they look at the world around them. One’s initial perception may show it as white and gold, but if you look at it long enough, your brain corrects it to the blue and black dress it actually is. It’s the same sort of thing as magic eye puzzles where an image would jump out of the noise at you.

It is an apt demonstration of the way perceptions stained by mood disorder can function as well.

As an example:

I step around a corner and see my partner hugging some guy I don’t know.

Manic: Rage. I knew she was cheating on me. Confrontation, yelling, and general shittiness. (White and Gold Dress)

Depression: I knew it. I’m no good for her or anyone else. Of course she would want to throw me aside. I’m going to lose her. I’m going to lose everything I care about. Self-loathing, maybe self-harm or suicide attempts. (White and Gold Dress)

Truth: Blind accusations are damaging no matter what they are. Even if I don’t necessarily “trust” her; I ask who he is. Maybe he’s a friend from college I had previously met but entirely forgot about. Maybe he’s a cousin I haven’t met. The point is, a hug is no indicator of unfaithfulness. (Blue and Black Dress)

And that is why it is a good example. So many people are looking at this picture of #TheDress and see two different things. When it comes to being bipolar or depressed, we have something similar going on with our feelings and emotions. Except for us, it’s whatever unwell thinking our brain funnels us about our loved ones or today being the day to commit suicide.

The fact of the matter is – the truth is buried in there underneath the emotional instability and unwellness. That’s why I do not trust my emotions when I’m trying to interpret something that is going on in my life. I work to cut through how I feel and push towards the reality of the situation.

I always strive to react without anger or emotion clouding me so the hypomania or depression does not have a chance to creep in and fuck things up by seeding disastrous thoughts in my mind.

So the next time you are looking at a loved one with a mood disorder, wondering what the hell is going on in their head, try and remember that they are seeing the white and gold dress at the moment. Their emotions and perception is clouded by the unstable, often irrational thoughts. Counter their emotions by pointing out facts and adhering tightly to them.

And if you suffer from a mood disorder – be it Anxiety, Depression, or Bipolar Disorder – drastic emotion paves the way for instability. That does not mean you strive not to feel or numb everything. It does mean we should all strive to not respond or react out of emotion. Identify the facts about the situation and address it after you have had a little time to really look at what you’re faced with.

I find myself constantly reminding myself of facts and reality if I am pushing back against unwell thinking. You can envision it like two people arguing in my head. The unwell side is trying to introduce chaotic thoughts and feelings. The other side of my brain is shouting it down with the facts about the situation. I may even write out a list of all of the facts of the situation so when the unwell thoughts start creeping in, I can just go back and read the list I wrote for myself to KNOW what the reality is before my unwellness really starts to take hold.

Unwell cycles typically take a little time to fully get rolling. Not dwelling on the emotions and reminding ourselves that we are actually looking at a blue and black dress, instead of a white and gold dress, can go a long way towards minimizing the total impact of an unwell cycle.

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

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, General | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Normal For You Does Not Mean Normal For All #depression #mooddisorder

Spend any amount of time on social media and you will see proclamations about how there is no “normal” being thrown around. “There is no such thing as normal.” “Normal is just a setting on a washing machine.” Blah blah blah.

There is a normal. I believe that normal is at the most basic level of human existence. My regular readers will know that I have a severe Bipolar-Depression component of Bipolar Disorder. I’ve spent about 80% of my teenage to adult life mired in mild to suicidal Bipolar-Depression ranging from just “fuck it all” to “put a 9mm to my head and pull the trigger on a dud round” suicidal. Though many people equate depression to sadness; it is really more like your feelings are muted (or “depressed”).

The analogy I use to describe it is that of a stained glass window. A stained glass window is alive and vibrant with color when light pours through it. Consider that to be life and normal emotion. Depression is layer after layer after layer of wax paper put over that stained glass window. It diffuses the color, the light, the vibrancy. The wax paper mutes the light and makes it hard to perceive. You look at it, and you know it’s supposed to be bright and vibrant; but all you can perceive is the muted colors trying to get through. At least, until there is so much wax paper on the window that it is all gray.

By and large, that was my normal for a majority of my adult life. Day in, day out. Wake up in the morning, curse silently to myself that I woke up again. Look in the mirror, hate what I see. Grind through another meaningless, pointless day to when I can go back to sleep. Avoid human contact, put on the plastic smile so people will stop asking what’s wrong because I had no idea what’s wrong. And when I dipped far and low enough- contemplate killing myself. Should I unsnap my seat belt, punch it to 100, and hit that bridge support? Should I slit my wrist and step off of the local bridge to ensure I don’t survive this time? Should I drink tonight? Get high? Make it all go away for awhile?

That was my normal, but that is not normal.

Humans are not meant to function in that kind of emotional wasteland. We are social, emotional creatures; even the introverts out there. We are supposed to have feelings; including happiness from time to time! I know it exists. I felt it once, in what I suspect was the window between a dosage increase and my body getting acclimated to it. I felt sad. There was no numbness, no void, no emptiness. I just felt sad and I had that feeling you get behind your eyes when you’re about to cry; but no tears came. Then, I realize I had felt sad without depression and that made me happy and excited. There was no stain of hypomania, no accelerated thinking, no erratic behavior, no unreasonable emotions; just warm and positive even though the overall circumstances were sad.

That’s the only time I remember feeling genuinely happy or sad in probably 20 years. It stands out so starkly in my mind because of how different it felt. The rest of the time? Barring hypomania, I’m standing below that stained glass window, waiting for any kind of light to get through and show me something beautiful. I want it, even if it is something just as simple as feeling good about stepping out into a sunshiny day and listening to birds sing.

I know a lot of people that are depressed who do not realize they are depressed. No, I’m not a doctor or therapist. I am someone who has lived with severe Bipolar-Depression for a long time. I know what it is for the same reason I know what a chair is. It has four legs, a back, sometimes arms, and you sit in it. It’s a common and consistent part of my life. Just as common to me as the void that is depression, if not more so. After all, when I wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the ceiling, I’m not looking at a chair; but my old friend Bipolar-Depression is typically there to greet me.

Anyway, I regularly see the depressed tell themselves that it’s normal to feel placid or nothing constantly. That life is hard. There are wars and famine and cruel injustices in the world; and they should just be thankful for what they have in life instead of striving for better. Depression is incredibly common because of this.

But therein is the problem. Even people in terrible circumstances are able to find a piece of happiness once in awhile. Maybe it’s their child’s smile. Maybe it’s a delicious meal. It doesn’t have to be complicated or grandiose. The point is, they feel something other than emptiness, numbness, and misery. Something other than another gray day to grind through until they can go back to sleep.

The mocking humor in this? Depression is relatively easy to treat. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean shoveling meds down your throat. A change in sleeping and living habits can potentially provide relief. Exercise and dieting can help. There are many routes that could have a beneficial impact on the person that should be explored with a general practitioner.

But they don’t, because it’s “normal” to be gray, miserable, and feel little to nothing.

Normal is being able to conduct your life in a meaningful way. It’s being able to function appropriately in a healthy way. You can be rich, poor, goth, punk, hip-rop, city, country, conservative, liberal; whatever. The unifying factor is the ability to conduct your life in a meaningful way; regardless of how you choose to pursue your existence. THAT is normal.

As for me? I’m a Type 2 Bipolar with a severe Bipolar-Depression component. I’m still staring at that stained glass window, waiting for an antidepressant to cut through the wax paper and let the light flood back in. I catch it in glimpses here and there. I can see it trying. Just going to take some more time and some more work to get to the real normal.

The grayness and chaos of Bipolar-normal for me is not normal for all; even other Bipolars.

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

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, Depression | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fox Host Tom Sullivan On Bipolar Disorder Being Made Up

Normally, I try and stay away from my personal rants and opinions on things like politics, the news, religion, and so forth. My goal is to provide a comfortable platform of information for anyone that wants it regardless of orientation, beliefs, or whatever.

With that being said, Fox correspondent Tom Sullivan recently stated on his show that people with mental illness have “figured out how to ‘game the system’ by receiving disability benefits”. He then went on to defend Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) false statement that “over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts”.

A caller with Bipolar Disorder attempt to refute his beliefs, although did not have the right information to do so or presence of mind to actually debate the points.

I encourage you to check out Media Matters link provided if you want a direct link to a page with video. I am simply going to address some of the discussion that was cited in the included link.

SULLIVAN: I’m very skeptical. And I’ve got to tell you, if you haven’t been told, I will tell you. I think bipolar is like the latest fad. Everybody and their brother is getting diagnosed with bipolar. And last time I checked, we all have good days and we all have bad. And I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.

CALLER: That is very true, however, there are people that have the extremes of that. They have their bad days, are beyond — I mean you literally cannot get out of bed. Not because you don’t, that you don’t want to —

SULLIVAN: What were these people called 25 years ago?

Facts: Having good days and bad days is not criteria for a mental illness diagnosis. Good and bad days to the extremes that they disrupt and prevent you from meaningfully living your life are. An inability to function appropriately in the basics of human existence (use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for an idea), is a reason to at least speak to a professional about it. Does that mean the person should immediately be put on Disability or start shoveling medication down their throat? No.

25 years ago would be 1990. They were called Bipolar people. It wasn’t until 1980 that the DSM-3 changed “Manic-Depression” to “Bipolar Disorder” to accommodate the number of people who fall in the Bipolar spectrum that do not experience “Mania” as a symptom. Hypomania is not mania.

CALLER: Well, you know what, it’s funny —

SULLIVAN: Before they came with this bipolar diagnosis. I mean, I just think it’s something made up by the mental health business just to be able to give people prescriptions and keep them coming in, and keeping you — paying them money.

Facts: The first mention of manic-depression (Bipolar Disorder) as a separate mental illness was about a thousand years ago in The Canon of Medicine in 1025. It’s also been known as the “Circular Disease” before it was Manic-Depression before it was Bipolar Disorder. Physicians from all over the world are noted to have specifically identified it- ranging from the French who pioneered the beliefs of what we know it as today to the Chinese who described it in Eight Treatises on the Nurturing of Life in the 16th century to the Greeks who believed once believed it to be an imbalance of humours. Bipolar Disorder has a long and storied history if you bother to research it at all.

[…]

SULLIVAN: You ever heard of these doctors that say the psychology business is full of basically people — it’s big pharma that’s pushing the whole thing because they make a ton of money? Your parents never would have gotten this. There wasn’t even a diagnosis as bipolar when your parents were your age.

CALLER: No, that’s true.

Facts: This statement is something political figures and pundits use to make their point. It is true that the caller’s parents never would have gotten a Bipolar diagnosis at her age, because the Bipolar diagnosis did not EXIST yet. They would have been diagnosed Manic-Depression. It is not a direct lie, but a misrepresentation of truth through omission of fact. This is something called “spin”. Next time you watch a politician or pundit, listen for phrases like “we think”, “we believe”, “I believe”, “Studies show”. These are weasel word phrases and the basis of spin. That way if the person gets called out on their asinine belief, they can simply say “I didn’t assert it as a fact. I simply said ‘I believe'; an expression of opinion.” Which it is and would be fine if the average listener would separate opinion from fact.

SULLIVAN: So — and you know what? They did just fine. Society did fine. I don’t know, I don’t know why we have to create these new illnesses, and create all these medicines for something that really wasn’t a problem in the first place.

CALLER: Well, I understand what you’re saying. And that is a common, that’s a common feeling for a lot of people. They don’t understand it, and honestly, you won’t understand it until you experience it. And I would never wish this on my worst enemy. But it truly is a disorder and a disease. I know that personally I would not be alive today if it were not for medications and for therapy. Because I would have killed myself. When I was in college, I was there, I almost did it. So if, you know, there are actual problems. I’m actually affected physically, not just mentally, you know, having disabilities –

Facts: No, they did not do just fine. They were ignored like all of the other dirty little facts of society of the era. Mentally ill people were thrown away into mental institutions with less oversight and conditions worse than some maximum security prisons. Society was just as poisonous in your “golden era” as it is today; except then it was flagrant and acceptable.

SULLIVAN: You ever think that maybe, maybe somebody’s talked you into feeling and thinking this way?

CALLER: I wish. No.”

Personal Opinion: No. Because I spent from the time I started cycling at 13 to almost 29 not talking about the suicide attempts and ideation, the delusional thinking of talking to God or being sent messages, of doing horrible things to myself and the people around me. I tried to discuss it twice. Once with a person who I trusted who had beliefs similar to yours, who shut me down immediately as suicidal thoughts being a weakness of character. To my doctor who misdiagnosed me as depressive with all the fun that comes along with being on an antidepressant without a mood stabilizer as a Bipolar person. Surprise, surprise “deal with it” didn’t stop me from falling deep enough into the pit to actually follow through on my suicidal thoughts.

Because of people promoting the idiotic “beliefs” that you have, I spent a majority of that time thinking I was just a shitty person who couldn’t handle responsibility instead of seeking the help and stability that the medical industry and Disability has enabled me to achieve through my own effort.

What you or I “believe” is irrelevant. Try reading a book and learning some facts.

Now, this is normally the time when a blog or writer will tell you; “omg you can make a difference, contact Fox to express your outrage!” Save your energy. It means nothing. They’ll just trot out with a half-assed apology and life will go on as usual; like all the other times this crap has happened over the years.

Want to make an actual difference in your perception and this drivel? Stop listening to pundits, stop watching the networks and shows that support them, and start reading more. Don’t take their word, or my word for a damned thing, go out and read it; research it yourself. The caller, though having good intentions, did not have the ammunition needed to counter these common, ignorant perceptions.

If you want to make a difference in ending stigma, you’re going to have to do better than “Nu uh! You’re wrong!” with people like Sullivan who are gifted communicators in an arena that thrives on being manipulative to work the emotions of audiences to get them tuned back in.

It’s not about being a Republican, Democrat, or Independent; it’s not about being Christian, Muslim, or Pagan; it’s about truth. There is only one truth despite the many, many perceptions of that one truth. Perceptions are simply an opinion of that one truth.

And the truth of this matter is- Bipolar Disorder is a very real mental illness that’s been around for a very long time with high suicide rates in people who go untreated.

What you, Sullivan, or I perceive and believe about that truth is irrelevant. Our beliefs and perceptions do not change those fundamental facts. It’s no different than the discredited MMR vaccine and autism link perpetuated by ignorance and trumpeted by the media.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com at your convenience. I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com .

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-Dennis

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