A link between mental and physical illness?Absolutely!

The mood disorders I have had since I was 14 definitely cause real, measurable physical effects. At least in me. But today, as I write this, I honestly feel like no one believes me or even gives a shit! So forgive me, I’m about to go Debbie Downer on you. But please read. Just give me 5 minutes.

It’s common knowledge that stress can give you a backache. Or a headache. My sweet mother, aged 83, has had cancer 3 times. She believes strongly that they were caused by stress, traumatic events and depression.

Yet when I experience exhaustion, sore muscles, fever, weakness, nausea, constipation…..and it hits me all at once, I can’t call in sick and say that it’s depression or anxiety. So I pretend to have a sinus infection!

Why don’t people believe me when I explain what happens to me? I’m pretty sure that the mind-body connection has been fully accepted as truth for 10 or 20 years by now. Oprah did a show on it!!!

I just get so frustrated, angry at people. Not only do they not understand, they don’t even attempt to. As soon as they hear “bipolar” every bit of my credibility goes out the window. Surely it’s all in her head! Hypochondriac!

I’m just so tired of hiding or minimizing my illness in order to be treated like anyone else. Putting on the fake smile, saying “oh I’m great and how are you?” When 5 minutes earlier I felt a strong urge to drink bleach.

Just imagine what this world would be like if the stigmas disappeared. If each patient had access to free quality health care and counseling. And I’m talking about people with addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, borderline, SAD, etc. All of us folks who hide in shame. Who simply can’t find decent help, even with medical insurance!

Mental illness patients have been ostracized, rejected from family and society, fired from jobs, mistreated in a way that is just deplorable. How could we treat one another this way? Whatever happened to grace and charity?

I have family and friends. I’m lucky. They know what I go through. But I know, I am absolutely positive, that they think I’m exaggerating my illness, being a hypochondriac, or I’m just a weak person. I no longer even bother to tell them if I’m experiencing a painful, difficult episode. That I can barely walk from one room to the next without sitting down to rest. That I haven’t showered, brushed my teeth or even changed my clothes in 3 days.

It kind of makes you lose all faith in humanity. What cultures cast out their sick instead of caring for them? Hell, I don’t even feel like the doctors and therapists I’ve seen over the years gave a rat’s ass. I have received some really really bad treatment. By MDs who went to Harvard! They chose their occupation. Why in God’s name become a psychiatrist if you have no compassion for the mentally ill?

Maybe it’s like the way so many fringe groups or minorities were discriminated against in the past. They had to unite, organize and rise up! They had to fight for it! Protesters have been arrested, injured and even killed. Do we mental patients have it in us to fight for respect? Honestly, I don’t even know if I would join a march or a rally. Because so much of the time I’m either stressed, hurt, sick, exhausted or depressed.

Physical symptoms of mental illness

Bipolar: 10 startling things you need to know

I’m not a mental health professional. I’m The Moody Mom. A patient who has bipolar II. I read a lot about mental illnesses. I’ve learned so much through my own experiences. With so many stigmas and misconceptions out there, I started this blog partially to share current facts, theories and research. Today the topic is bipolar disorder.

Doctors don’t completely understand the causes of bipolar. It’s symptoms include having the elated highs of mania to the lows of major depression, along with various mood states between. People with bipolar vacillate from one extreme to the other. These extremes in mood are called “episodes”. Or as I like to call them, “temporary insanity”.

Bipolar is classified as a mood disorder which is a category of illnesses including: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, persistent depressive disorder, cyclothymia and SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

Moody Mom comment: I personally do not say “I am bipolar”. I say “I have bipolar”. Because bipolar doesn’t define me. You wouldn’t say “I am cancer” would you?

More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder. It affects men and women equally, as well as all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes.

The bipolar suicide rate is 60 times higher than that of the general public and one in five people with bipolar disorder commits suicide. It is a deadly disease, which should be taken very seriously.

Moody Mom comment: it used to be called “manic depression” but nowadays most people say “bipolar disorder”

200,000 people with bipolar disorder are homeless in the US.

69% of bipolar patients are mis-diagnosed at least 3.5 times.

Bipolar disorder is the 4th-highest reason for disability.

Moody Mom comment: when someone says something like “she’s so bipolar!” and they aren’t referring to a person who actually has the disorder, it is really annoying to those of us who have it. Just saying.

There are four types of bipolar :

  • Bipolar I- having episodes that swing from depression to mania.
  • Bipolar II- having hypomanic episodes, which are elevated mood but not full-blown mania, and depression episodes.
  • Rapid cycling – having four or more episodes of mania or depression in one year. In severe cases, episodes can occur as frequently as daily.
  • Mixed episodes – having symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously or in very rapid sequence. This type has the highest suicide rate.

Moody Mom comment: mania is often misunderstood. It means an extremely elevated mood that can feel good (going on wild spending sprees, hyper sexuality, partying all night, night after night) or it could feel bad (extreme agitation, violent behavior, psychosis). One severe manic episode could literally ruin your life.

There is no cure for bipolar but there are many treatment protocols including medication, therapy, and some experimental treatments. Once a person is diagnosed, it can take years for their doctor to discover what is just the right combination of meds at the right doses. Each patient is different.

Moody Mom comment: the medical community uses the terms “disorder”, “illness” and “disease” interchangeably. There really is no difference in the words’ meanings.

People with bipolar are often stigmatized, mistreated and cast out. Treatments can be ineffective, expensive and require tremendous self-discipline and extreme lifestyle changes. Medications can cause terrible side effects. As I like to say, bipolar doesn’t mean crazy or incapable! People can lead happy, successful lives. Others cannot or will not. We’re all different. And we deserve respect.

What the heck is dopamine fasting?

The idea of fasting in any way is totally unappealing to me. So…you’re going to drink only juice, and it’s not even the good kind of juice, it got spinach in it….and you’re not doing this to lose weight?

Fasting is defined as the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.

The Moody Mom definition: You’re giving something up, something important, in an act of self discipline, in order to achieve something that will be beneficial to you in a significant way, be it nutritional, religious, medical or spiritual.

Dopamine is a brain chemical which produces positive feelings like joy, happiness, elation, satisfaction. Why in the world would you want to give that up?

You can read what a dopamine fast entails here. Basically, you refrain from anything that produces dopamine. No electronics, no sex, no talking to others, no food… for 24 hours. I wouldn’t last 10 minutes!

So why do this? Some say that people living in modern society today are addicted to dopamine. And by doing the fast, you can regain mental clarity. You can “hit the reset button” on your brain. People who’ve done it claim that it made such a significant positive impact, it may have even cured them from a mental illness.

Would you do it? Could you go 24 hours without dopamine?