Manic Depression Did Not Rape You And It Certainly Didn’t Kill Your Dog

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…Call it what you like, / that nightly jaunt I took, analyze it / as you will, there must have been /
some benefit I gained from it — otherwise /
I’d have come down long ago.
“Only Child”, ‘Edwin Brock’

Manic Depression didn’t kill your dog. Manic depression didn’t rape you. Manic Depression never picked up a gun. People are not their cancer and you are not “A Manic Depressive”, you “Have manic depression”.

You are not your disease. It’s a trap that we all fall into eventually. After I was diagnosed I was “A Manic Depressive” for the better part of eighteen years. Being “A Manic Depressive” gave me excuses that could easily explain why I was who I was. I would tell people “I am A Manic Depressive” and they’d be uncomfortable for a little while and that was it. The reaction was there was no reaction because people have no idea what A Manic Depressive does, or have any idea what Manic Depression does to us.

But it was an excuse I could offer — from one ignorant to another, and it worked because calling yourself “A Manic Depressive” or “A BiPolar” sounds like it should mean something Important. Unlike most diseases manic depression has been romanticized, captured in paint and in song, so people — including us — do not fear manic depression. So the people around us do not fear for us. So the people who care about us, the people who care for us, just shrug their shoulders and give no reaction because those people have no idea what manic depression even means… because I had no idea what manic depression meant for the first eighteen years.

For too long we’ve deluded ourselves into believing manic depression was either something to be perversely proud of or something to be desperately ashamed of… but the mystique is a lie, it’s just a fucking disease. Why do we have such a hard time convincing ourselves and others about the horrible effects this disease has on us when there are a million fucking web sites and blogs about Manic Depression and every Pharmaceutical company sells an anti-depressant or a mood stabilizer, and there’s certainly no shortage of websites dedicated to selling the pills or telling us why those pills are evil… so, with all of this information so available, why is this disease so misunderstood?

Manic depression did not divorce your parents. Manic depression does not care one little fucking bit about you and your life. There’s nothing personal about Manic Depression… untreated, however, manic depression will prevent you from dealing with all of those issues.

The damage to who you are from those rapes, those divorces, those episodes, those instances, those happenings will fester and grow for as long as you refuse to get treated for the disease. What is personal is the crap you haven’t had the ability to deal with since the disease took over. Manic depression didn’t force your girlfriend to miscarry, but unmedicated the disease will prevent you from dealing with The Things That Happen in your life. You have to stop believing Manic Depression is a definition so you can get the Disease out of the way so you can start dealing with the depressing shit that has happened in your life.

Take the fucking pills… consult with your doctor, ask her questions, check websites for information about those pills… educate yourself so you can answer the questions that will come when you tell someone about the Disease. Bring your family into an appointment — NOT so you can discuss the personal shit that has been festering for one, two, eight, eighteen years, but so they can be told about the severity of this disease and about what they can do to make your recovery easier. But, most importantly, Take The Fucking Pills…

It is not easy. The only family member I have who understands this disease is my cousin, and he worked as a nurse in a Mental Health Facility and we’ve only spoken about it once. Since the diagnosis in 1989 I’ve brought my mother into four appointments. Each time she ended up in tears because I “blame her for everything”. Which I don’t. At least not since I was sixteen. But no one has read a book, no one has read a pamphlet, my younger brother has read some of this blog but that’s it… I spent most of eighteen years living as close to the street as you can get without getting rained on, and no one could read a book to help. Fuck, I even bought “An Unquiet Mind” and handed it to my mom and step-dad.

Look… recovery is easier when your family, related or not, gets involved. I’ve lived with enough alcoholics, drug addicts and mentally ill people to recognize that getting family involved is key to a faster recovery. The more you do this on your own, the longer it’ll take and the more of your life you’ll waste not dealing with The Shit. But, and this is so perverse, after you’ve taken the initiative to find help it’s you that has to take the initiative to get your family involved. Your family has watched the horrors of manic depression every time you cut yourself or were violent or they stood beside you while two nurses pumped your stomach… they have the experience through watching and trying to survive your insanity, but they don’t know how to react to your recovery other than to say “well, he ain’t crazy anymore.”

Last thing… none of this matters without you taking the pills. Finding treatment that fits and sticking with it is the key, but take the fucking pills.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Manic Depression Did Not Rape You And It Certainly Didn’t Kill Your Dog

  1. thordora says:

    That’s the hardest thing. Getting over using it as an excuse or a reason and just dealing with it and moving on.

    I still hate it though.

  2. aroundnaround says:

    Well said…

    Learning you’re not the disease is critical. Took me a long time to figure that out too, but once I did, things changed for me.

    Then it’s about just getting on with life.

    The drugs suck, but they work. Sticking with them is the hard part.

  3. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks, both of you, for coming around (hi Thordora, still love your avatar).

    I know I keep screaming, or at least I used to, about how we need to “take the fucking pills”… I know there are people out there and in here who believe there are solutions to be found through prayer and, I don’t know… boiling crystals? But if people are finding solutions in that direction they were misdiagnosed. Spirituality and holistic treatments can be, and probably should be, a part of recovery from being unmedicated but right after Understanding There Is A Problem should come the handfuls of pills — a mood stabilizer, a sleeping aid and lots of Vitamin D and C — and a visit to a dietician.

    I have two sisters with BiPolar Disease (one of each), one of them is medicated and after a three year break is starting back to work and getting her life together. The other has been wearing crystals for six years and thinks Criss Angel can really levitate… and she can hear “The Earth” cry. Find the ones that suit you best, then make every effort to take the pills.

  4. puddlejumper says:

    I like the getting on with your life bit aroundnaround.

    THEY (you know, the medical folks) are stil trying to decided exactly what label to give me, I gave up trying to figure it out. I’m “being good” taking my pills and have started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I here has good results. Its early days but I’m coping much better not focussing on my illness but focussing on staying well.

    By the way FTS, I love the new picture of you on Snafu. Damn fine!

    Hope you’re keeping okay?

    x

  5. bromac says:

    My life has changed dramatically since I began to “take the fucking pills”. It gives my brain a chance to breathe; my emotions a chance to calm themselves.

    It gives me the fresh air I need to digest the ideas of my therapist!

  6. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks Puddle, it was an experiment… I was looking at a photo a friend sent me last week and I realized I hadn’t done anything interesting with my digital camera yet. I also did some shooting with my SLR the other day, it was the first time I’ve used my ‘real camera’ in a year. It felt really, really good. Now if I could just afford some film. Next month.

    I’m keeping the same… which is becoming a problem, hence the restart of Salted.

    What does “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy” mean in Scotland?

  7. Gabriel... says:

    That’s exactly it, Bromac… in order to understand what is the Disease and what is You there has to be a period of calm and reflection and understanding.

  8. Gabriel... says:

    Hello Hymes, welcome to my blog. The only advice I’d offer is to read a little deeper into this blog because each individual post is not its own universe….

    For example you may have found the “FUQs” (Frequently Unanswered Questions) page, which is available at the top of the blog:

    “There are a lot of ways to come back from any disease. There are people who forego chemotherapy and use “natural” methods and come out on the other side great. There are people who use chemo and die. I have met a few MD’s along the way who manage the disease through yoga and diet alone. I know people who have used electro-shock. One of my best friends from high school uses medicinal marijuana.”

    I’m sure you mean well but honestly, if you, or anyone else, is taking advice from an anonymous web site based on one post then you need to refocus your recovery.

    Come around anytime, I’m always willing to learn about different treatments and how they’ve helped people with the disease we have.

  9. puddlejumper says:

    CBT is hmmm…how to explain?
    Well first off you go for an initial appointment where the therapist gets your life story (terribly tiring) and then they start looking at your “core beliefs.” They seem to do this by asking lots of small questions in a linear fashion until you get to the point where you go “Ouch” and then they write it down in their notebook.
    But then…
    This is the magic – they can see where you start talking yourself into certain frames of mind. And then they’ll help you come up with ways to try and challenge these thoughts so you can retrain your brain to think in ways that are more beneficial. Kind of like brainwashing but in a good way?
    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it would be of any use at all in a person without some baseline stability. I certainly wouldn’t have got anything useful out of it six months ago but it does seem to be helping now.
    She (the therapist -NHS funded -I’ve been on the waiting list since before I started blogging) explained it a bit like this…
    Say you were thinking sexy thoughts. You could read a book or see something arousing or whatever and those thoughts cause a physical/biological response. But then you could make yourself think of something dull and then that thought process and the accompanying physical sensations would cease.
    Well although they’re not arguing they can cure mental illness, the theory is you can tackle some of the kind of downward spirals you get when you’re depressed if you learn to catch them early on and make your brain switch off some of the depressing chemicals or switch on some less depressing ones. But you need to practice and learn to catch it before you get to the “oh god…it’s just too difficult I think I’ll just lay in bed all day” stage.
    She’s given me this as a set book. [link here]

    Its pretty difficult to do on your own though because most people have a tendency to try and avoid the really crucial “I’m so shit because…” thoughts. Its just too hard to look that closely at yourself without someone to push you at the sore bits.
    I think she’ll shortly be helping me notice where my triggers are too (like um…not sleeping because I’ve been stressed today, see its working) and helping me find practical things I can do to feel better too.
    I already know some of the obvious ones and I’m getting better at recognising when I need to go a bit easier on myself.
    I dunno…
    Isn’t t the same in Canada or do you have weird Superior CBT over there, done on an ice-rink with super dooper padding?
    🙂

  10. Gabriel... says:

    We’ve got “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy” and I actually kind of hate it. I feel like it mixes two separate things… my past — my very, very uniquely screwed up past — which has nothing to do with the disease I have, and the disease itself.

    I always felt like, when those Dr. A Nons started asking those questions about how I’m feeling about my mom or about being abandoned or whatever, that they thought they were dealing with my disease… when I was doing the CBT’s I was right in the middle of being an untreated Manic Depressive. The disease needs to be treated first so the shit that makes you Naturally Depressed can be worked on. I’ve been in treatment for the disease for about three years now, and only within the past year have I been able to start dealing with my life. Now’s the time for the analysis, which is what my doctor and I are doing.

    We’ve actually been doing some interesting things with… I can’t remember what it’s called. I tried to find it through Google but ended up at iFilm watching girls in bikini’s. I’ll ask him on Friday. Basically, while holding a thought, you hold two LED lights which alternate with a sound and you move your eyes to each light… it’s a four letter acronym….EMDH? No…

  11. hymes says:

    I took the f-king pills. Now I have kidney failure. The pills did nothing to help me, psychotherapy is what has helped me. If someone wants to take a mood stabilizer after learning about all the risks and all the things to avoid when taking them, well fine, but don’t tell people to just take them, that’s dangerous advice.

  12. puddlejumper says:

    Ahhh…see that’s maybe where it is slightly different over here. The therapy doesn’t focus on your past or your childhood or anything like that. It’s more about those challenging the automatic thoughts that come up when you are under stress, or the ones that can lead to stress. There isn’t any of the “you feel like this because” In the end the “because” isn’t important. What is important is what you can do NOW to help yourself.

    But absolutely. Would be way too hard to do it untreated/in the depths/whilst high. Thats where the meds and the slower pace of life have really helped me.

    I still get the odd wobbly though.

    The thing you’re talking about, would it be Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)? They do things with your eyes. We did a workshop on it when I worked with the Citizens Advice, there was a whole pile of techniques to help you communicate better with people, reading body language, eye movements and speech patterns but the overview was fascinating. They do a lot of stuff with “anchors” (using physical cues to subconsciously remind you to think a certain way) Haven’t heard of it being used for mental illness but I guess the principles would be the same.

    No…that’s only three letters though.

    Mental Health is really, really fascinating if only we didn’t have to experience the fucked up bits.

    🙂

  13. Gabriel... says:

    Too much sugar last night (I’m actually hung over from my sugar fueled high) so I couldn’t focus on what you were writing. I think I was describing my first adventure with Psychoanalysis. I’ve never had the CBT you’re talking about (it looks weird now not to write “aboot”), except for maybe one time where a med student asked me about a hundred questions while I was waiting to see a new doctor. I’ll ask my doctor about CBT and Neuro Linguistic Programming when I see him on Friday… actually, he reads this blog so maybe he’ll leave a response… probably not, so I’ll ask.

  14. Okay… now You posting responses over here is just weird. Welcome, but weird. If you come back… what pill were you/are you on?

    There seems to be an ongoing struggle online between CBT people and “others” who want to paint CBT as one of the Sc*entology methods of… I don’t know what they call it… cleansing? Becoming? Preparing for X*nu?

    Whatever, the “Mind Over Mood” website is mindovermood.com

    If you absolutely have to have the book, it’s here.

    Again… I didn’t have a chance to ask my doctor about anything I told you (Puddle) that I would… next time.

  15. ames says:

    CBT here in Canada is much the same as how puddle describes it. My doctor had me working with the book “Mind Over Mood”…i’d paste a link to it but frankly i’m too tired to figure out how… Now I don’t have Bipolar but I suffered from severe Clinical Depression for years. CBT helped me learn tools to pull myself out of the Depression but it wasn’t until five months ago when I was finally put on the right pill that I actually wanted to use those tools. Turns out they work.

  16. Hi… I’m still asleep, but I just wanted to make sure I remembered later on that “MoodGym” information can be found here:
    http://moodgym.anu.edu.au/

    Actually, from what I can tell (and I am still asleep) these are the people who put “MoodGym” together. I’ll be back when I wake up. As weird as it may seem this isn’t even the most bizarre dream I’ve had this week.

  17. aroundnaround says:

    Heh… have a few lull days, return and voila! A very busy post indeed.

    Love the nick change 🙂 Gooo Senators!!

    I’ve done a combination of medications and CBT. Hmm… see the medications help with the mood swings … aka the chemical imbalance, but the behaviours I developed to deal with the mood swings – the thoughts – that required a different intervention, especially after I got to add the wonderful diagnosis of panic disorder into the frey.

    I’ve had the pleasure of doing some dabbling in NLP. *grin* It was actually a part of a pre-employment program I did. Interesting stuff really. Some of it is awfully different and I don’t know what I think of it all, but I did learn some really cool stuff there that I continue to use even now, some 15 years later.

    I vaguely recall the light therapy you are talking about feartheseeds, but cannot recall for the life of me what it is called. I don’t think it is the NLP. Have you found out what it is called yet?

    Psychotherapy? Delving into childhood stuff. Hmm… I avoid that like the plague. Doesn’t help me at all… might help others, but not me… at least not with my “here and now” stuff. I give a lot of credit to those who can do that and get a benefit from it.

    My psychiatrist sent me to a cool site, albeit one that I found a bit frustrating because I understood on a logical level all that it was trying to tell me called Mood Gym (Hope I got that html code right… gotten lazy over time and rely on wordpress to do it all for me.) Interactive site that is free. You keep journals, set goals… it’s really quite insightful, but I over analyzed. LOL… a big problem of mine.

    Well… I’ve been enjoying watching the comments for this post… A fascinating discussion.

  18. sisyphusledge says:

    Hi Senators, Just lookin in, seein’ hoo you’s doin’.
    Haven’t read in minute detail all the above threads, but the eye movement acronym – it’s EMDR. Stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation Therapy. We had a psychologist who used it a lot with a great deal of success in one hospital I worked in. You can find more : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMDR
    also: http://mentalhealth.about.com/cs/specialtechniques/a/emdr.htm
    The book, “The Bipolar Survival Guide”, by David J. Miklovitz (I’d link to Amazon but the html is so damn long it will spread everywhere) is quite a useful resource to have. I actually found it better than the book “Mind over Mood” although I still think the latter is a good enough book. I would certainly recommend that anyone with mood disorders keep a mood chart. It needs to be one that also charts your daily meds and doses each day, your anxiety level daily, your hours of sleep as well as your mood on a scale of say 1 to 5 plus for the highs and minus 1 to 5 say for the lows. I’m sure you already know this and do it. If you don’t have a simple ‘do-it-with-your-eyes-half-closed’ chart to fill in then let me know and I will email you mine. In the worst stages I was barely able to pick up a pencil (really, yes, literally) so it had to be simple to do as I was recovering.
    Another thing. Again, you might know this, but comedy and humour helps. There have been studies that look at the neurochemistry….I used to have some papers, I’ll see if I can dig them out. You may not feel like laughing when you are in the depths, but as you recover, dosing yourself with your favourite type of comedy might help. It certainly helped me.
    Light therapy is most often recommended for sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) when the light in the Northern hemisphere (mainly Europe) is less during the winter months. You need a light box (a sunbed is not a substitute) with an output of at least 2500lux, but 10,000lux works quicker. It seems to work by increasing melatonin levels which are reduced in depression. Thus it has also been used by people with depression (rather than SAD) who report success. You should not have the light box too close nor use it for more than 45 minutes a day. I have read mixed reports and I have tried one myself. I didn’t think it made any difference to me.

  19. Aikaterine says:

    just a note –

    I recently spent time at a spa and had the opportunity to work with a therapist who encouraged the following:

    1. Hydration – he made me drink like a fish.
    2. Mood Charts
    3. Meditation – 15 minutes every day
    4. Exercise – (as in sweat) 30 minutes a day
    5. Half of an adult aspirin every day
    6. Tomatoes – He made me eat tomatoes every day. Cooked or raw.
    7. Green Tea once a day

    I have stuck with this for a few months now and feel better, but that could just be the upswing. That said, it might be worth trying to see if you guys notice a difference as well.

  20. Gabriel... says:

    The tomato and aspirin things are new, but the rest of the plan is something I try to adhere to… as long as by “fifteen minutes of meditation per day” you mean “an hour of Grand Theft Auto per day”.

    Are you still taking medications?

  21. Aikaterine says:

    I stopped taking them for a month or so, bad move. I am back on lamictal. I forgot to mention fish oil caplets (omega 3).

    Do you really play grand theft auto?

  22. Gabriel... says:

    It’s not unusual for people to stop and start a few times… stick with it as long as what you’re taking makes you comfortable and you can see some benefits and definitely get the fish oil into you.

    I’m about to play GTA right now… just to keep me occupied until Stewert and Colbert come on. Carl Johnson is the philosopher of our times.

  23. Pingback: My Thanks To You On The First Anniversary Of Salted Lithium… YAY YOU. « …salted lithium.

  24. Pingback: Reaching The One Hundred Post Mark And Looking Back At My Recovery So Far « …salted lithium.

  25. Marilynn says:

    Has anyone found out that their kidneys have been damaged due to being on lithium for a long period of time? I will be needing a new kidney in a few years.

  26. Gabriel... says:

    Well, considering what Hymes left as a response I think you’ve already got an answer Marilynn.

    Have the doctors considered other factors in your life, or have they pinpointed the cause specifically to Lithium use?

    Because anyone taking Lithium should do so only under a the supervision of a psychiatrist. Lithium needs to be monitored and to be effective must be at a certain concentration in the blood. People starting Lithium should be having weekly blood test, after a few months the tests should be scaled back to once a month.

    If you are one of the tiny percentage of Lithium users who need a kidney transplant then I would suggest suing your doctor because the signs of kidney damage don’t just sneak up on the test results.

    Hope everything works out for you in a couple of years Marilynn.

  27. itzhak avraham says:

    lithium doesnt help me.
    i am not in the 70 % lucky ones that get treated with lithium.
    i think psychotherapy is a beteer treatment for bipolar disease. and that what i am going to try.
    tell me your suggestions.

  28. Gabriel... says:

    Lithium isn’t the only way to control a mental illness, Itzhak. Psychotherapy has its place in dealing with clinical depressions, or in learning how to deal with moderate depressions, but if you’ve been diagnosed with manic depression my suggestion would be to find a good psychiatrist and be as honest with him/her as you can. In my opinion, if you want to control the manic depression you can’t talk it away. You need to find medications which work for you.

  29. Pingback: Old Post Day | Breaking Up With Manic Depression « …salted lithium.

  30. JENNIFER A says:

    I HAVE ONE SUGGESTION FOR PEOPLE USING LITHIUM TO TREAT MANIC DEPRESSIVE DISEASE, USE IT AS A TEMPORARY TREATMENT TO GET TO A LEVEL WHERE YOU CAN BE TREATED WITH LESS TOXIC DRUGS BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN PLACED ON LITHIUM DRUG FOR OVER 10 YEARS AND NOW AM IN THE 3RD TO 4TH STAGE OF CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE AND I COULD SOMEDAY NEED A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT. DOCTORS, SOME, DON’T CARE WHAT THEY DO TO YOUR BODY. THEY JUST WANT TO KEEP YOU COMING IN SO THEY CAN MAKE THEIR MONEY. THIS IS A LAZY WAY OF TREATING PATIENTS AND I THINK IT SHOULD BE RESEARCHED FURTHERMORE. I DON’T THINK IT IS SAFE TO BE ON LITHIUM DRUG USE FOR OVER 3-5 YEARS USAGE. MY OPINION….IT IS NO GOOD FOR US.. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BLOODWORK….GO TO A REGULAR PHYSICIAN TO CHECK YOUR KIDNEY AND THYROID FUNCTIONS AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR. SOME PSYCHIATRISTS ONLY TAKE LITHIUM LEVELS. I HAD ONE DOCTOR THAT I HAD TO REMIND. I WAS ALWAYS NAIVE. I TRUSTED EVERY DOCTOR. NOW I HAVE KIDNEY DAMAGE THAT WILL NOT REVERSE ITSELF AMONG OTHER PROBLEMS I CAN’T SEEK TREATMENT FOR BECAUSE MY KIDNEYS CAN’T TOLERATE MEDICINE. I BELIEVE IN PRAYER AND REST. ALWAYS STAY HYDRATED AND EXERCISE. NATURAL THERAPY IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER. DOCTORS JUST LIKE TO PRESCRIBE PILLS AND THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS ACCURATE WITH THEIR DIAGNOSIS. I CAN GO ON AND ON….SO LOOK OUT FOR #1 BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE KNOWS YOU AND YOUR BODY LIKE YOU. HAVE A NICE DAY….SMILE IT ALWAYS OPENS THE DOOR UP TO KNEW OPPORTUNITIES. IN CHRIST, JENNIFER ANDREWS

  31. Thank you SO much for stopping by. You have no idea how thrilled I was. I even had to blog about it today. 🙂

    You’re always welcome at my place!

  32. Pingback: Facing The Demon › Manic Depression Didn’t Kill Your Dog

  33. Melissa says:

    Wow! That hit home! With a sharp stab right in the guts.
    As I sit here figuring out what the next step is towards the “getting healthy” process, my Dr appt is next week (and so is my daughter’s), I realized as I read your post, first thing first–get back on regular meds, not just the anxiety pills. I need a mood stabilizer.
    No more excuses. No more “well, I feel better now…I don’t feel all drugged out…”
    There has to be a medication that will work without making me feel like a zomby.
    Thanks so much for your honest, open, and bold post.
    Melissa

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