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    What Speech Reveals About Mental Illness

    What you say says a lot about you. How you say it matters too. You can take a simple sentence and change its meaning just by how you pitch your voice and what words you emphasize.

    Try it: Say the sentence, “I want you to love me.” Emphasize the “I” and you’re saying, “I, as opposed to anyone else.” Emphasize “want” and you mean “I want it, even if you don’t believe it.” If you come down hard on “love,” you mean “I want love, not friendship.” An emphasis on “me” translates to “I want you to love me, not that other person.” It works for nearly any sentence: “Please close the door.” “You have my attention.” “Why don’t you care about me?” We translate these meanings naturally and internally, without really thinking about them.

    Changes in language can certainly be revealing. In fact, there are several different kinds of speech that have a role in mental illness. They can be indicative of a certain kind of mental illness or of the way that a person is feeling. They can be used in diagnosis. They can be a way to better understand what a friend or loved one is going through.

    Pressured speech

    Pressured speech means that words seem to just tumble out, without much thought as to what is being said. The words come quickly, packed together like little freight trains of meaning that will zoom by if you don’t pay attention. Listening to pressured speech can be both confusing and overwhelming, difficult to understand.

    Pressured speech is common in bipolar disorder, especially in manic episodes. People who are experiencing mania feel a compelling, urgent need to share thoughts, ideas, comments, or emotions. They don’t wait for replies, as one would in a normal conversation. They can also speak inappropriately loudly or at inappropriate times, such as in church or during a lecture or concert. Pressured speech can last for an hour at a time or even longer.

    Because they are speaking so fast, people with pressured speech may even have difficulty expressing their own thoughts. There can be a lack of a clear thought process in what the manic person is saying, as they may talk about many things that don’t connect to each other. Their speech may include jokes or rhymes, song lyrics, and such.

    It does no good to ask a person with pressured speech to slow down or stop talking. They may feel like they must keep talking, as if they can’t stop.

    While pressured speech is most often associated with the mania or hypomania of bipolar disorder, it can also happen with schizoaffective disorder, autism, psychosis, ADHD, or an anxiety disorder.

    Flat affect/emotional blunting

    Flat affect means that you’re not demonstrating much of an emotional reaction to a situation. Inside, you may feel happy, for example, but it doesn’t show on your face or in your speech. The inside and the outside don’t match.

    Emotional blunting is a little different from flat affect, though. With emotional blunting, you don’t feel an emotion internally at all. You might not feel at all interested in a book or a movie that once gave you pleasure or laughter, for example. This results in flat, unemotional, dull speech patterns.

    Flat affect and emotional blunting are in some ways the opposite of pressured speech. They may occur when a person is depressed, in shock, or suffering from PTSD or other conditions. It’s a symptom of some illnesses, but not an illness in itself.

    Read the full story here: bipolarme.blog/2022/11/13/what-speech-reveals


    The Scary Parts of Being Bipolar

    My number one fear is the return of my bipolar symptoms, especially the depression. I’ve been mostly stable for years now, with only occasional and relatively mild symptoms when I relapse. But I still remember what it was like and I don’t want to go back there. The misery and the hopelessness. The numbness and the pain. The lack of joy, or contentment or, for that matter, even blankness.

    Hypomania isn’t as scary, though I know it can and does recur from time to time. I don’t have a history of extreme symptoms and, with my husband’s help, I’m able to navigate the ones that do occur.

    I can handle it if I get mild “breakthrough” symptoms when I encounter triggers. I have coping mechanisms in place, including simply waiting for them to pass, because I know they will. That trust in my resiliency – and my medications – has grown over the years.

    Still, there’s always the thought in the back of my mind that the efficacy of my meds could wane. I could crash again. There’s no guarantee.

    Then there’s the fear that I could develop a batch of new symptoms, triggered by God only knows what. I know that some people with bipolar disorder have hallucinations, hearing or seeing things that aren’t there. One friend of mine has heard voices for years, and another one is visited at times by an imaginary animal. (He doesn’t mind it; he says it’s always been pleasant.) Again, not likely, but then again, my brain has already been proven to be glitchy.

    Of course, I do find other things scary. I am terrified of bees, wasps, ticks – anything that impinges on my dermal boundaries. I’ve been stung once and suffered no symptoms beyond the usual, but it did nothing to allay my fears. In fact, I took beekeeping in college, hoping that I would get over the fear. That didn’t work either. I still freeze, shake, scream, cover my head, or run. It’s a phobia, though not a crippling one. It doesn’t bother me enough to try eradicating it via therapy. Besides, if the beekeeping class didn’t help with desensitization, I’m not sure what would.

    But there are less personal fears that I have too.

    Some are societal problems. Stigma regarding serious mental illness still exists. And although people increasingly seem to be concerned about “mental health,” it turns out what they really mean is usually substance abuse or crime. Initiatives and funding tend to focus on those problems, sometimes to the exclusion of actual brain illnesses – except maybe schizophrenia, and then only as it relates to violence or homelessness. Of course, those are real problems, but there are a lot more people who need to be helped that aren’t getting attention, funding, or treatment.

    Speaking of treatment, that’s another subject that’s frightening. It just isn’t available in many locations. I don’t know what the situation is regarding available beds in my geographic area, but I doubt there are many, given national trends and the complete lack of an inpatient ward at the hospital nearest me. If I did experience more extreme symptoms, I’m not altogether sure I could get good, prompt treatment.

    Read the full story here: bipolarme.blog/2022/10/30/whats-really-scary


    Writing While Hypomanic

    Sometimes when I’m hypomanic, I write. I think that my writing is terrific. This does not always prove to be the case.

    I wrote a murder mystery for literally years on and off. I put heart, soul, and sweat into it. I kept revising. I had a bulletin board with index cards of plot points that I moved around, trying to find the best sequence and flow. At last, one day I declared it finished.

    I sent a query and a sample to over 100 agents and publishers. I waited. I kept a list of everyone I contacted about my novel, and I marked them off the list when they rejected me. None of them bit except the you-pay-us types that I had accidentally included and scorned. My prospect list was long, so this went on for months.

    No doubt I was hypomanic when I decided the novel was done, and when I sent those queries. I wasn’t even deflated when I started getting rejections back. Out of 100 queries, I thought, surely there would be some takers. Maybe there would even be a bidding war for the publishing rights. I started doing research for the sequel and even started writing it.

    As I waited, I basked in thoughts of success. I would be a guest at mystery conventions. I would do a book tour. I even imagined that I would receive the Edgar Award (mystery’s Oscar) for Best First Novel. I pictured myself receiving the email telling me that I was nominated and the phone call informing me that I had won.

    Of course, I eventually came down when one of the rejections actually told me why my manuscript was being rejected and what was wrong with it. Faced with that reality, I had to admit that I had deluded myself. I had needed to rework the novel a lot more before submitting it. I had needed to workshop it with fellow writers, preferably those who knew something about mysteries. (I had sent the first few chapters to some volunteer beta readers, but they had made comments only on small details, not the structure, pacing, or characters.)

    I realized at last that I had submitted a manuscript that had a great prologue, but that everything after that needed serious work. Despite the time and effort I had put into it, it just wasn’t good enough. And that was the reality.

    That was the longest spell of hypomania I’ve ever had – about a year. Of course, I was doing other things while I wrote and while I waited. I had some depression and some mixed states, but not about my mystery novel. I was exhilarated with that.

    What I had were delusions of grandeur. I imagined the success without putting in enough work to achieve it. Despite the evidence of all the rejections, I persisted in believing that I had produced something wonderful and worthy. I anticipated plaudits and acknowledgment of my writing prowess and remarkable achievement. My hypomania was giving me messages that I was great, just as my depression had always given me messages that I was nothing. And I was deluded. I believed the hypomanic messages.

    I have abandoned that manuscript and taken up other projects. I have also abandoned my research and writing for a sequel. I still have problems recognizing the actual merits of my writing, or lack thereof. I try to keep my expectations in check. I have some successes and some failures, though none nearly as monumental as the mystery. I live with my limitations instead of flying with my fantasies. Have I lowered my horizons? Well, yes. But I like to think that now, at least most of the time, I view the horizon where it really is.

    I did love the exuberant feelings that I experienced. They gave my life a sense of meaning. If I learned anything from the experience, it was that I couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, pin my sense of personal worth on something that isn’t real.

    Of course, when I’m in the grip of #Mania, it’s hard to realize that.


    Hard to love

    I was out of it today. Laid on the couch, ate too much sugar and slept while Bob’s burgers played in the background. I woke up stiff and angry at myself for letting another day pass without meaning for myself. I haven’t left the house in days (work from home). I can’t tell if it’s hypomania or coming off a flare or PMS but I’m anxious AF and raw at the moment. I cleaned a bit, set some mousetraps (way overdue) and cooked dinner. My partner came home full of energy and looking to chat. I had nothing to give him. He made a crack about some invading his privacy from some years ago. I went down the rabbit hole and dissociated. He asked what was up and initially I just said I was in my head. I told him what was up during dinner as we avoided eye contact while we choked down my dry chicken.
    ‘I’m anxious and that comment bothered me’ he just said ok and continued to avoid eye contact. We watched some intense TV which brought on more water works and I could still feel/see his discomfort. I asked if he wanted to talk and he said no but said he would talk to me later. I left to clock in for work in my office and promptly cried for the first few hours. He did say goodnight but it feels so heavy I could die. Now I have 8hrs to simmer before work is over and another 18hrs before we can really chat.
    Do you always share how you feel even if most days you feel like Oscar the grouch with a sugar addiction? Do you keep the happy face until you can’t anymore? Am I being sensitive/melodramatic?
    Anyways, thanks for coming to my ted talk…

    #Anxiety #Depression #Bipolar2Disorder #AutoimmuneDisease #inattentiveadhd


    Everytime I try and get a job my mental health plummets

    I have a history of very serious mental health issues. I've been doing well for almost a year now and decided to get a job. I've only been there for not even 2 weeks and I can feel my mental health going downhill FAST. This happened last year when I though I was doing well so started working. I lasted 6 weeks before I had a manic episode and ended up hurting myself. It happened another time a year before aswell where I only lasted a week before relapsing.

    I don't know what to do. I can't afford to lose my health, but I also can't spend my whole life on benefits, especially when I can be relatively functional when I'm not working. I'm not sure whether I should keep this job and potentially cause a problem or shamefully give it up.

    Any thoughts on the best course of action?

    #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Hypomania #EatingDisorders #AnorexiaNervosa #BulimiaNervosa #PTSD #Fibromyalgia


    Bipolar Basics (And the Challenges in Diagnosis)

    A complex mood disorder, bipolar poses several challenges to those who experience it. These pains include maintaining relationships, holding down sustainable employment, and often financial struggles. Less than 20% of those having bipolar disorder receive an accurate diagnosis within the first year of treatment. In fact, five or even ten years is not unheard of. So what is so difficult about diagnosing bipolar disorder?

    What is Bipolar?

    Bipolar disorder is a mental illness causing fluctuating moods and energy levels. It often affects emotions, sleep, appetite, focus, and many other aspects of the person’s life. Diagnostic criteria include experiencing depressive and manic episodes.

    What Might a Depressive Episode Look Like?

    During a depressive episode, some or all of the following signs and symptoms are present:

    ● Feeling sad and/or a sense of emptiness

    ● Loss of interest in activities

    ● Reduced energy and/or decreased activity levels

    ● Difficulty concentrating and/or forgetfulness

    ● Changes in appetite

    ● Sleep disruptions

    Suicidal thoughts

    What Might Mania Look Like?

    A manic or hypomanic episode may present some or all of the following signs and symptoms:

    ● Increased activity levels and/or taking on many tasks

    ● A sense of euphoria

    ● Racing thoughts

    ● Irritability

    ● Feeling jittery or similar agitation

    ● Engaging in risky behavior

    ● An abundance of energy and/or insomnia

    Types of Bipolar

    We can divide bipolar disorder into four categories: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, and Bipolar-Related Disorders. Each type of bipolar causes mood cycling. None of these has a singular cause although risk factors include trauma, brain function anomalies, and genetics. Symptoms typically begin during the teenage years.

    Bipolar I

    This is what most people think of when considering bipolar. It is characterized by a depressive episode and a manic episode. Episodes may last a significant amount of time or rapid cycle. Mania symptoms last seven days or more, or are severe enough to require intervention.

    Bipolar II

    Frequently misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder, bipolar II is characterized by a depressive episode and a hypomanic episode. As hypomania is less extreme than mania, they may pass it off as the person simply feeling better for a while.

    Cyclothymic Disorder

    Less extreme than the above, a person with cyclothymia vacillates between milder depression and hypomania. Continuous cycling for two years is considered cyclothymia.

    Bipolar-Related Disorders

    While not specifically a sub-type, this category encompasses mood disorders that resemble bipolar disorder but do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis.

    The Wrong Diagnosis

    People are more likely to seek treatment during a depressive episode and may not recall experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode, particularly in cases of bipolar II. This often leads to a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

    Substance abuse may also lead to a misdiagnosis as the use of alcohol or drugs can often affect episode cycles. This can lead the healthcare professional to believe that substance use is directly responsible for mood swings.

    Someone with bipolar may also receive the incorrect diagnosis of schizophrenia as symptoms are similar for both diagnoses.

    Medication and Misdiagnosis

    Misdiagnosing bipolar disorder can lead to the healthcare professional prescribing medication that can worsen symptoms. For example, a provider may prescribe SSRIs for depression, which can trigger a manic episode.

    Medications prescribed for different conditions may trigger mood and energy cycles. For example, a prescription for corticosteroids may induce mania.

    Receiving the Right Diagnosis

    Healthcare providers are not intentionally misdiagnosing people who seek care. As we understand more about the wide sphere of mental illness, the need for deeper psychological evaluation and a detailed patient history becomes more apparent.

    If you are seeking treatment for your mental health, it’s important to share a lot of information, even if you find it embarrassing or shameful. The better your provider can understand your experience, the better they can treat you, and the sooner you can feel better.

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    The Duality of Bipolar and My Identity

    One thing I remember about my worst depressive episode was the absence of feelings. It was desperation that anything at all would penetrate the dark and bring me to light: that I would again have the ability to feel my grief, to laugh, or even just to cry. Life was a literal abyss of passing time, laying in bed and binging pages on the internet just to distract myself and pass time.

    Social media does a good job capturing a major transition from depression to (hypo)mania. By going back in time, I noticed some features that changed with my episode. I smiled with my teeth and did not feel insecure. I laughed and after so much darkness, I was startled by the sound. I was ambitious in my ideas, excited about where I was going in life.

    This is not to dismiss the way I was spending money or the people I let down. Nor the risk taking or reckless disregard for my health. But this is the nature of things, that these episodes carry consequences as much as blessings.

    What I have been thinking is, who am I amongst all of these things? My switches feel so radical that mixed in with that norm we all have, I have these pressured episodes that pull me in completely opposite directions. Am I confident and ambitious, am I hopeless and insecure? Both of these are inside of me. Is my disorder dictating my self, or am I coming out in my disorder?

    For the longest time, I felt lost in these questions, as if my sense of self disappeared and I didn’t know who I was. Now I know that I am contained in my (hypo)mania, my depression, and the moments in between. My disorder is a fundamental part of my identity, a legitimate force that brings out the best and worst of me. I am my laughter and my emptiness.

    I know that I am not the disorder and the disorder is not me. Really, it is part of the spectrum I exist in and it gives and takes from who I am each time the tide changes. Resistance is the denial of my existence. The answer to my question: I am amongst all of these things, I am in each rise and fall. I was never gone, I just needed to find a way to recognize myself.

    #Bipolar #BipolarDisorder #Identity #Depression #Mania #Hypomania #self

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    What time of day do you prefer your tea?

    I’m a tea-only drinker, no coffee - so often my day starts with a warm cup of English Breakfast or some other black tea variation.

    But more than a way to wake me up, it is one of the signals to my body my day has begun. It’s a moment of pause before the ‘go, go, go.’

    And as someone who works from home, having moments of pause and defined separation helps keep my brain and body working well, along with having the routine in place keeps symptoms like fatigue more predictable and my moods due to bipolar more stable.

    My routine involves morning tea, but the occasional evening brew can be a great way to mellow out as well.

    What time do you prefer your tea? Or do you have it around a particular habit or routine? Let me know!

    #MentalHealth #ChronicIllness #Anxiety #Depression #BipolarDisorder #Bipolar1Disorder #Bipolar2Disorder #BipolarDepression #Hypomania #Fatigue #MyalgicEncephalomyelitis #ChronicFatigue #Selfcare #52SmallThings

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    When your mood changes, does your hunger change too?

    As I become more aware of my mood shifts, I’m also realizing that besides the actual emotions changing, some other parts of my body shift too.

    The most noticeable shift is hunger. It makes sense as throughout recent years I realized I went between feeling like I could never eat enough to never feeling hungry at all.

    When I’m:

    🍽️ hypomanic I am continually hungry.

    🍽️ stable I feel hungry and am satisfied when I do eat.

    🍽️ depressed I am never hungry.

    It’s also a good reminder mental health doesn’t just affect the brain, but the entire body. And being aware of signs like this helps me know the type of care I need to do for myself.

    Have you noticed your hunger shift with your mood?

    #MentalHealth #BipolarDisorder #BipolarDisorder #Bipolar2Disorder #BipolarDepression #Mania #Hypomania #Selfcare