Tammy OZ

@twhammy8 | contributor
Enjoy reading the articles and blogs, it is great knowing other people are going through the same thing. I manage and cope with Bipolar 2 Disorder. I am also a suicide attempt survior and I want to be able to share my story with others. I want people to see that you can be successful even when dealing and coping with a mental disorder. I want to help fight the stigma. I love having conversations with people about mental health and hear about their journey's. But, most of all I want to be able to help others see the sushine when battling their storm.
Community Voices

Warning Signs and Possible Causes of a Bipolar Episode

Managing and coping with #BipolarDisorder can be a challenge at times. When I was first diagnosed (in my mid-twenties) I thought I had accepted it, which I realize I really did not. The diagnosis and the treatment plan to be honest went in one ear and out the other. I did do the treatment plan for a while but once I started to feel better, I stopped taking my medication and went back to my old ways. My recovery did not begin till I truly accepted I would have to manage and cope with #BipolarDisorder the rest of my life. My life slowly began to change for the better once this happened. I have become so in tune to my body I can tell the warning signs of a possible episode as soon as my feet hit the floor. I can tell if it is going to be a good day or a bad day. If it is going to be a stormy day, then this would allow me to get ready to use my coping skills. Here is a list of the warning signs for me:

1. Stress: everyone in their life I am sure must deal with some form of stress. If my body is under a lot of stress for a prolonged period whether it be personally or work related or both it can cause a mood swing (usually a #Mania episode). The reason being is my thoughts keep racing and my brain will not shut down (at a rate of a Nascar Race). Then I cannot concentrate and that makes me get frustrated and then my emotions are all over the place. My thoughts are scattered and sometimes even doing the simplest things are hard. Stress can take a toll on my body physically and emotionally.

2. Lack of Sleep– because my mind is racing so much, I do not sleep well at all. Sometimes, I will not sleep for 24 hours and this can cause a possible #Mania episode. If I go beyond lack of 24 hours of sleep, then yep, I can truly prepare for an episode. Lack of sleep will make my physically tired, but my mind will not shut off. So, I find myself just lying-in bed, tossing, and turning. Sometimes I will just stare at the ceiling and just pray that I will fall asleep. My body needs sleep to maintain my mental health and for my body to just feel refresh and function properly. I try to get at least 8 hours a sleep a night.

3. Medications– this just happened to me recently, I took an OTC allergy pill and within the next few days, I noticed my moods were changing. I was going through a #Depression episode, crying and having no energy at all. Then a few days later I would be so irritable and wanting to spend lots of money, and then talking a mile a minute. This was going for a few weeks, and I thought, I was just experiencing an episode and was like “I will need to just hold tight and ride this storm out”. Well, I started to think what I did different if anything, then it clicked, the only change was the allergy pill. So, I stopped taking it and started taking a different one. Wow, I would say within a few weeks, I was back to myself.

4. My own expectations– this one is all on me. I have a type A personality and I expect myself to be always perfect. I use to think I have #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder (which I do believe I do have a little bit), but in reality I have OCPD(#ObsessiveCompulsivePersonalityDisorder ). I have such a rigid schedule, that even if it is off by five minutes I can panic. I expect people to work at the same level of intensity as I do, which can cause me to have added work stress. Things need to be in order for me as well, I do not like chaos, my house is completely cleaned all the time, appointments on my calendar are made way ahead of time etc.

I feel like I am truly blessed because I can feel the warning signs of a possible episode. To me, it truly does help me be able to manage and cope with #BipolarDisorder and this is what always helps me to find HOPE through that storm.

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Tammy OZ
Tammy OZ @twhammy8
contributor

4 Mental Health Coping Skills for Teachers to Reduce Stress

Other educators might agree with me when I say I surely did not learn how to teach during a pandemic when I was going to college. I teach middle school, and I have now been teaching for about 17 years. Last year and this year have been the toughest years yet — by far. There are days when I get home, and I literally throw myself on the couch, close my eyes, and release a big sigh. There are other times when I have chocolate or get fast food just to treat myself.  I know the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for the students, but it affects teachers too. I can only speak for myself, but my brain has been quite packed during this time. The best way I can describe my brain is as a hamster wheel — I feel like I am tripping over my thoughts because sometimes, I cannot keep up! A lot has been put on my plate, and teaching middle school has its own challenges. I prepare for two subjects (health and physical education), and usually my class sizes are rather large (They can range from 30-45 students.) Here is what my typical day looks like. I start out my day with an advisory class then teach three classes of sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders. I have about a 20-minute lunch, and then depending on the day, I  either have a full planning period or a half planning period. I also have to do homework boards, lesson planning, and grading and make sure I meet my students’ accommodations. The list goes on and on. Naturally, my brain is often overloaded. At times, I find myself not being able to keep up, and I feel burnt out. Moreover, I must manage my own mental health condition (bipolar disorder) and cope with extreme stress and lack of sleep. I am not sure if any other teachers are going through this, but I feel my anxiety is at a high when it has not been like this before. I want to share some coping skills I use to help my mental health. 1. Learn how to say “no” to help your mental health as a teacher. I have always been — and most likely always will be — a “type A” person. I have high expectations of myself, and not being able to “do it all” can be hard for me. Trust me, it has been hard to make small changes, but for my own sake, I had to make some. I have always been the one to volunteer to help run an event or help someone with anything they need, but I finally have learned to say the one word that has always been the toughest for me to say: “no.” To be honest with you, having to say “no” has helped me out. I now limit myself when helping others in my professional and personal lives, so this way, I am not completely saying “no” all the time. 2. Take things off your plate to cope with mental health stress. I have coached several sports throughout my teaching career. I have coached softball at both the junior varsity and varsity levels for several years, and I’ve been an assistant coach for boys’ soccer at the middle school level. This year, I was the boys’ soccer assistant coach again, but I decided this is my last year coaching because I need more time for myself. As I get older, I realize I need time to do the things I enjoy. So I am ending my time coaching to give myself more time to live life. 3. Try not to bring grading, lesson plans, or other work home with you to improve your mental health. This one is a tough one — no matter how far ahead I think I may be on lesson plans or grading, something always must get done. I then decide if I can wait until the next day to get these tasks accomplished and do it then. If so, then I might keep my computer bag closed for that evening and do something I enjoy instead. If this is not possible, then I will set a timer for myself. I will get as much done as I can in that time slot and then allow myself some “me time.” 4. Use the weekends to refresh your mental health. I now put work aside until Sunday because I allow my weekends to be a “no work” time. I do not care if I do not have any plans on the weekend. I will use that time to binge-watch my favorite shows, go for a walk, or read. I just need that downtime to practice self-care before a busy week. These are a few things I now do to help me get through the chaotic world of teaching. Even though teaching has been overwhelming, and at times I think, “Can I keep doing this?” I get that one letter, email, or drawing from a student that reminds me I can. To all the educators out there, please remember you are making a difference in someone’s life — but you can live your own life too.

Community Voices

Young Adults- It is a cliché’ but Hang IN THERE

It is such a cliché I know; our world feels like it is crashing down, you have no energy. You even feel like your world is getting darker and darker and all you want is to see a little glimmer of hope. Your days are long, and you are tired of it all. The walls are closing in on me, like I could not breathe.

Does this sound familiar at all? That is exactly how I felt when I was at my lowest point of depression (I manage and cope with bipolar disorder-which I was not diagnosed till my mid 20’s). I would just cry myself to sleep at night, just praying the pain would stop. It started when I was in my Senior year in high school, you see I wore so many masks that it not only became physically tired but mentally as well. I did well in high school academically and I would say I was well liked. I just hung around so many groups of people that is where I got lost and the masks began. For example, I was an athlete, so I had to put on that athlete face and win all the time, or since I was funny, I had to remove the athlete mask and put the funny mask on my face at times. I truly lost who I was! I felt like I had to be the best version of that person for everyone, I was a perfectionist, and this added to my anxiety and stress. I wanted to please everyone, except for the person who I needed to please the most which was ME.

How did I handle all this? Not the right way at first. I held how I was feeling inside, because I was embarrassed and really thought NO ONE would believe me. I coped with alcohol- a lot of it. Sure, if made me feel good for a few hours, but the mood swings never went away. Another negative coping skill I used was self-harm (almost every night). Life became a living hell and the pain and loneliness actually became too much to bear for me when I was in my mid-20’s and I had a suicide attempt.

The mind is a powerful thing, and I knew mine was struggling, but I also had no idea where to go for help or who to turn to. At that time, I did not have the best relationship with my parents and did not know how they would react if I told them- “hey I am drowning over here, and I do not want to live anymore”. They had no idea about the self-harm or the attempt (later in my life they would) and they knew I was consuming alcohol, but I am sure they just thought I was me just being a teen or a young adult in college and this is what college kids do. I do not think they understood I was using it to cope with my feelings.

Fast forward a few years- I finally found the bravery to say something to my parents- it was a Christmas day, and I cried all day, then that evening I sat them down and looked at them and said” I am hurting, and I do not want to live anymore, and I do not know what to do”. I thought are they going to be mad, but they held me tight and said, “we will help you” and they did not know I was hurting this badly. That night my dad and sister n law and I checked myself into a psych ward and that is where I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (I was like 21-22 at the time). I was hospitalized again later in my life.

In the beginning, I said the cliché Hang in there, I truly mean it. Some of you may be screaming “Oh please “right now but hear me out. This is a battle I fight every day; shoot sometimes I do not think it is a battle I feel like it is a war. But you see I am the solider that can defeat the enemy. It is not an easy battle and I am not going to sit here and say it is. But I will say that for me it is a battle that comes and goes. I also, know I cannot fight this battle alone, I have other soldiers helping me (my faith, family, friends). I had to accept I will battle this mental health condition for the rest of my life, but I can now do it. So, please if you are struggling, it is OKAY and more importantly OKAY to ask for help! Always have HOPE!

Community Voices

HOPE- for any mental health condition

This is not a story but this is the main word I use when having a hard time managing/coping with Bipolar and anyone else can use going through a hard time with any mental health Condition.

H– heal– I allow myself to heal from any physical or mental pain. It takes time to heal from wounds no matter what size they are. If I have an episode I need time to let my body heal physically from it as well.

O– Over come– throughout my journey I have had to and still do over come obstacles/hurdles that may/do get in the way of my recovery. This is where I will use my toolbox of coping skills.

P– positive– I use to look at Bipolar or any other mental health condition as a negative, I do not anymore. This condition has made me stronger than I realize and allowed me to still reach my goals and be successful. It also has pushed me to try new things,, be able to be recognized for my accomplishments. My journey has brought me closer to my family and friends. I want to help fight the negative stigma of mental health with a positive one.

E– expect– I do expect to have episodes, I also expect my journey to be like a rollercoaster throughout my life. Accepting this and realizing this I have been able to better manage and cope with my life. I just feel better prepared. I also, do not get mad at myself when it happens, I again allow myself that time to heal. I also have learned to expect not everyone to understand what I am going through, but that is where I turn the negative into a positive and educate them.

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Tammy OZ
Tammy OZ @twhammy8
contributor

Mental Health: Asking For Help When Everyone Thinks You're Strong

I have four brothers and no sisters. So, as you can imagine, I had to be very tough at a young age. This is what I truly pride myself on — my toughness. Well, even though this is a great quality to have, it did have some negative to it. See, everyone expected me to be this tough woman all the time. Well, deep down inside, that was not the case all the time. I still believe when I was I high school I was dealing with bipolar disorder , but I was not medically diagnosed until my mid-20s. So, I remember coming home some days and just feeling defeated; after all, holding all those feelings inside will do that to you. I would spend a lot of time in my room, just crying or screaming because again, I had to be this “tough” lady and I did not want to show that I was not that person. Deep down inside, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “ I am struggling over here, I am not OK,” but could not have the courage to ask for help. You might be saying, “but why?” I felt like it would take away my reputation for my strength I had built and did not want that to happen. Plus, again — having four brothers, I have always felt I had to be automatically strong and asking for help to me would be a sign of weakness and I did not want to be portrayed as “weak.” Another big reason was wondering if my parents believe me or think I was “faking” it for attention. I was not sure how they would feel and that scared me as well. So, for years, even after high school, I would do the same routine, hold all my fears and worries and mood swings inside of me and then once I was home, I would go into my room and let it all out. To be honest with you, this started to become quite exhausting and I was not sure how much longer I could do it. I started to use unhealthy coping skills to help me out with the mood swings and pain. I was drinking a lot more and self-harming to help me cope. Later, I had a suicide attempt.  Again, the bottom line was I did not want my reputation of being strong to be destroyed. I remember the day I asked for help though. It was on Christmas and I remember crying all day. I stayed downstairs because I did not want to ruin the day for my family. Later that evening, I fought hard and had enough pain, I went and told my parents I needed to talk to them. They came and sat down at the kitchen table, and I sat across from them. I looked at them and said the exact words: “I need help, I am not doing well, I can not do this anymore and I do not want to live anymore.” When I was saying this, tears were streaming down my face and I could not hide the pain anymore or hold it in. I remember their expression on their faces was shock. They gave me a hug and told me: let’s go to the hospital and get you help. So, that evening we did just that, and that was my first stay at a psychiatric hospital. Once I was hospitalized, I realized there that it was OK to ask for help at any point in my life that I need it. It was my second hospitalization that I really accepted that I will need to manage and cope with bipolar disorder for the rest of my life. It was there also that I knew that for 100% it is OK to ask for help, that it is not a sign of weakness either. I have said it before, that even though I thought it was going to change my reputation, it did not. I know asking for help has made me feel stronger because I had the courage to say I needed help. Now, as you can tell, it took me years to ask for help, but I did it and I continue to ask for help if I need to. I just wish I would have asked sooner. Maybe then, I would not have had to deal with all that pain. Even though most days are filled with sunshine and joy for me, on those “raining and stormy days,” my “umbrella” is called asking for help. The best part is I am blessed because I have a lot of people I can rely on for this help. My best advice for anyone dealing with any struggles of any kind, not just with their mental health , is to ask for help. Find resources, hotlines, people and get the help you need. Believe me, life is not full of roses, but you do not need to struggle alone. It may not take the pain or struggle away completely, but it will help you get through it a lot easier. Stay strong!

Community Voices

WHY- poem

Poem called WHY

Why me I often would ask

Why did I have to deal with all this pain in the past

Surgery after surgery, sickness after sickness it all

happened so fast

But now I must deal with a mental disorder that is here to

stay

You see Bipolar just doesn’t go away

Another illness I must deal with

More meds I must take everyday

Why me?

Have I not gone thru enough?

Now, I must deal with this mental stuff

Going through days of highs and lows can take its toll

But I always find that rainbow

You see I am a fighter

I have scars inside and outside there is no doubt

But I am here with out a doubt for a reason

To help those in their doubt

Hang in there, yes you can

You see my journey will not end

Bipolar is not for the weak

I will not let it knock me off my feet

I have stopped asking why

Instead give thanks for each day I am alive

15 Texts For Your Friend With Bipolar Disorder

Written by Felix Kalvesmaki. It can be hard to know what to say to someone with bipolar disorder when they’re going through something tough. It can feel like nothing you could say is right or helpful, like you’re helpless and don’t know where to begin. What you may not realize, though, is that oftentimes, a text is a good place to start. It’s an easy, but important way to let people in your life know you care. It can make a huge impact, too. A few words can mean the world to somebody who’s having a hard day. That’s why we asked our bipolar disorder community to share some text messages they would love to receive when they’re struggling. Don’t underestimate the power of these simple texts and what they can bring — they can truly turn someone’s day around, or at least make it a little more tolerable. Here’s what our community shared with us: 1. Submitted by Mighty community member Shannon H. 2. Submitted by Mighty community member Anastasia S. 3. Submitted by Mighty community member Alycia C. 4. Submitted by Mighty community member Michelle G. 5. Submitted by Mighty community member Krystal M. 6. Submitted by Mighty community member Lynn L. 7. Submitted by Mighty community member Ashley B. 8. Submitted by Mighty community member Mira N. 9. Submitted by Mighty community member Crystal T. 10. Submitted by Mighty community member Carly A. 11. 12. Submitted by Mighty community member Nettie C. 13. Submitted by Mighty community member Bailey V. 14. Submitted by Mighty community member Paige S. 15. Submitted by Mighty community member Linda S. Remember, it’s important to reach out to the people in your life who deal with mental illness. It doesn’t always have to be long either — a simple “I love you” can make all the difference. Make these people feel comfortable in reaching out to you, because you never know when they’ll need it. What text would you like to receive on days you’re struggling with your mental health?

15 Texts For Your Friend With Bipolar Disorder

Written by Felix Kalvesmaki. It can be hard to know what to say to someone with bipolar disorder when they’re going through something tough. It can feel like nothing you could say is right or helpful, like you’re helpless and don’t know where to begin. What you may not realize, though, is that oftentimes, a text is a good place to start. It’s an easy, but important way to let people in your life know you care. It can make a huge impact, too. A few words can mean the world to somebody who’s having a hard day. That’s why we asked our bipolar disorder community to share some text messages they would love to receive when they’re struggling. Don’t underestimate the power of these simple texts and what they can bring — they can truly turn someone’s day around, or at least make it a little more tolerable. Here’s what our community shared with us: 1. Submitted by Mighty community member Shannon H. 2. Submitted by Mighty community member Anastasia S. 3. Submitted by Mighty community member Alycia C. 4. Submitted by Mighty community member Michelle G. 5. Submitted by Mighty community member Krystal M. 6. Submitted by Mighty community member Lynn L. 7. Submitted by Mighty community member Ashley B. 8. Submitted by Mighty community member Mira N. 9. Submitted by Mighty community member Crystal T. 10. Submitted by Mighty community member Carly A. 11. 12. Submitted by Mighty community member Nettie C. 13. Submitted by Mighty community member Bailey V. 14. Submitted by Mighty community member Paige S. 15. Submitted by Mighty community member Linda S. Remember, it’s important to reach out to the people in your life who deal with mental illness. It doesn’t always have to be long either — a simple “I love you” can make all the difference. Make these people feel comfortable in reaching out to you, because you never know when they’ll need it. What text would you like to receive on days you’re struggling with your mental health?

15 Texts For Your Friend With Bipolar Disorder

Written by Felix Kalvesmaki. It can be hard to know what to say to someone with bipolar disorder when they’re going through something tough. It can feel like nothing you could say is right or helpful, like you’re helpless and don’t know where to begin. What you may not realize, though, is that oftentimes, a text is a good place to start. It’s an easy, but important way to let people in your life know you care. It can make a huge impact, too. A few words can mean the world to somebody who’s having a hard day. That’s why we asked our bipolar disorder community to share some text messages they would love to receive when they’re struggling. Don’t underestimate the power of these simple texts and what they can bring — they can truly turn someone’s day around, or at least make it a little more tolerable. Here’s what our community shared with us: 1. Submitted by Mighty community member Shannon H. 2. Submitted by Mighty community member Anastasia S. 3. Submitted by Mighty community member Alycia C. 4. Submitted by Mighty community member Michelle G. 5. Submitted by Mighty community member Krystal M. 6. Submitted by Mighty community member Lynn L. 7. Submitted by Mighty community member Ashley B. 8. Submitted by Mighty community member Mira N. 9. Submitted by Mighty community member Crystal T. 10. Submitted by Mighty community member Carly A. 11. 12. Submitted by Mighty community member Nettie C. 13. Submitted by Mighty community member Bailey V. 14. Submitted by Mighty community member Paige S. 15. Submitted by Mighty community member Linda S. Remember, it’s important to reach out to the people in your life who deal with mental illness. It doesn’t always have to be long either — a simple “I love you” can make all the difference. Make these people feel comfortable in reaching out to you, because you never know when they’ll need it. What text would you like to receive on days you’re struggling with your mental health?

15 Texts For Your Friend With Bipolar Disorder

Written by Felix Kalvesmaki. It can be hard to know what to say to someone with bipolar disorder when they’re going through something tough. It can feel like nothing you could say is right or helpful, like you’re helpless and don’t know where to begin. What you may not realize, though, is that oftentimes, a text is a good place to start. It’s an easy, but important way to let people in your life know you care. It can make a huge impact, too. A few words can mean the world to somebody who’s having a hard day. That’s why we asked our bipolar disorder community to share some text messages they would love to receive when they’re struggling. Don’t underestimate the power of these simple texts and what they can bring — they can truly turn someone’s day around, or at least make it a little more tolerable. Here’s what our community shared with us: 1. Submitted by Mighty community member Shannon H. 2. Submitted by Mighty community member Anastasia S. 3. Submitted by Mighty community member Alycia C. 4. Submitted by Mighty community member Michelle G. 5. Submitted by Mighty community member Krystal M. 6. Submitted by Mighty community member Lynn L. 7. Submitted by Mighty community member Ashley B. 8. Submitted by Mighty community member Mira N. 9. Submitted by Mighty community member Crystal T. 10. Submitted by Mighty community member Carly A. 11. 12. Submitted by Mighty community member Nettie C. 13. Submitted by Mighty community member Bailey V. 14. Submitted by Mighty community member Paige S. 15. Submitted by Mighty community member Linda S. Remember, it’s important to reach out to the people in your life who deal with mental illness. It doesn’t always have to be long either — a simple “I love you” can make all the difference. Make these people feel comfortable in reaching out to you, because you never know when they’ll need it. What text would you like to receive on days you’re struggling with your mental health?