Retreating to the Bed During Depression

The desire to set up camp in your bed often goes along with depression.

Some people wonder if they are depressed or if they have an actual “disorder” of depression. A disorder is just what it sounds like. Your life has become disorderly…unmanageable.

You want to do things like set up camp in the bed.  and only come out of bed for necessities. The bed is familiar thus the brain perceives it as safe.

Your brain wants to keep you safe. Your subconscious brain leads you away from anything it associates with pain or danger. This could be any kind of danger incuding emotional trauma.

If you have mental illness then there are some things that are a threat to you but would not be a threat to other people. For example, if you have a severe anxiety disorder, depression or PTSD then going out to the mall can be riddled with possible threats.

An uncontrollable environment like a store, or driving in holiday traffic, can be triggering to those associations in your brain.

There are images, feelings and emotions associated with the sights, sounds and situations all around you. It feels safer in the bed, because it is a more controlled environment.

The holiday season makes it harder to go out and deal with the uncontrollable, unpredictable environments like the crowded stores.

The fear center of the brain is on high alert. It may even become too much to be in fight or flight mode and then your brain may throw you into a derealization/ depersonalization state.

This is that detached from reality state. You float through the motions as if you are watching a movie or you are in a dream. Your brain has become so overloaded with pain that it pulls your conscious state away from reality

The bed can feel like the only safe environment to be in. It is comforting and it is your personal space.

You are not alone if you ten to retreat to your bed when you are experiencing depression or severe anxiety. I have done it many times.

If you are stuck in the bed now, take time to get some nutritious food to eat. Just think about the food groups and eat a little something from each one.

The nutrition is critical for your brain function snd your physical strength. Your immune system needs to be supported by foods and perhaps vitamin supplements.

Be compassionate with yourself. You do not have to be judgemental of yourself. The inner tapes of negative thoughts about yourself were put there by others.

Show kindness to yourself. Offer self love and acceptance. The holiday season is very difficult for people with mental illness.

 

Invisible Illness

recite-invisible

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Mental Illness Bloggers Communicating Humanity and Vulnerability

Blogs about mental illness are some of the most captivating blogs that I love to read. I am interested in the topics they cover but that is not the only reason why they speak to me.

Bloggers that have struggled with mental illness have had to learn to be in touch with their humanity. In order to write your own mental illness, you have to dive deep into the darkest corners of your mind. The descriptions that they write are very vivid and full of human depth. There is a sense of soul searching that draws you into the posts.

I am not just counting the blogs that identify themselves as being “mental illness” blogs.  There are also some bloggers that suffer from OCD, depression, social anxiety and severe mental turmoil that chose not to identify their blog as such. However the content of their posts has very vivid descriptions of the mental and emotional experiences.

The level of depth to the mental illness blogs helps the reader to feel in touch with their own vulnerability and humanity.

There is an ability to identify and describe the human condition.

There is also support between the bloggers to deal with the most painful aspects of being human.

We have had to endure such tremendous trials on a day to day basis that we are keenly in touch with human mental and emotional suffering. The reality of our daily suffering is part of our lives. People with mental illness have to deal with extreme levels of emotion every single day.

People with mental illness experience the extreme levels of depression, severe anxiety, loneliness, fear and trauma on a daily basis.

 We experience the fear of being triggered into any of those severe emotional states. Our brains are a constant threat to our emotional well being and our ability to function.

 The phrase “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”  does not have the same comfort to people with mental illness.  The perspective about fear, sadness, and hopelessness being dangerous is an everyday reality. 

Life is always a risk to us. Every decision we make and everything we attempt to do, has the potential to utterly destroy our mental state and in some cases… our lives.

Many of us are in constant fear of interacting with other people due to stigma about mental illness.  We  also fear our inability to interact with people in a “normal” and acceptable way.

Many social activities that other people take for granite are potentially hazardous to us either in a physical way or in a mental way.

When someone has a mental disorder the brain can be easily triggered in a matter of seconds into a completely different mental state. These triggers are often related to some kind trauma or abuse from the past.

Since we go through the extremes of human emotion so often, we are very in tune with the human condition. We are very aware that we are vulnerable. We are constantly subject to our own mental vulnerability.

All people are vulnerable but they do not realize it in the same way  that   people with mental illness do. The brain is a very fragile thing. It can become traumatized and damaged. Everyone is in danger of having their brain organization becoming disrupted. People take for granite that their brains will always function in the same way they are currently functioning.

The mental illness bloggers talk of fear and anxiety in a very human and real way. We are in touch with the human condition of fear. There is also an ability to write about depression and hopelessness in a way that touches the emotions of the reader.

Sadness is a very human state. The vulnerability to depression, emptiness and loneliness makes us very in touch with our human side. Being in touch with the humanity in ourselves allows us to perceive life and ourselves in a way that is special. 

People with mental illness, who often come from a history of abuse and trauma, have deep levels of mental suffering that is often unpredictable to the person. 

If emotions were a painting, it would have very black blacks and very red reds. The colors would be very dark in places and very bright in others.

The struggle to find the right medications, to self medicate, and reach out to any form of relief that will hold you, is a constant and daily struggle.

We know what is feels like to be constantly reaching out for help, only to find that real help is hard to come by.  Mental illness bloggers are very in tune with their need for other people. They are able to reach out with their writing to others who are suffering.

Although I am sorry for the suffering, I treasure your blogs. I love to read posts and feel the humanity in them. It is truly compelling.

Mental illness bloggers have the unique ability to be in touch with the tormented human brain and to write mental pain, in a way that the reader can feel.

The humanity of the mental illness bloggers staggers the reader’s mind and stimulates the senses. When I read the posts, I feel connected with emotions in myself. I feel validated about my own mental suffering. I feel a kinship with not just people with mental illness, but with the vulnerability of humanity.

Blessing to all,

Annie

You are Not Your Mental Illness

you are not your mental illness

About 1 in 5 people in the U.S. and England suffer from some kind of mental disorder. Other European countries have similar statistics from about 27 percent to 30 percent.  Studies in South Africa say that over 30 percent of adults have suffered from some form of mental illness during their lifetime.

The statistics that have been gathered are similar is most countries with mental illness affecting about 1 in 4 to 1 in 6 people. This is based on information that has been able to be gathered but keep in mind that many people never seek treatment.

People have reasons for not seeking mental health diagnosis due to fear of stigma, lack of enough mental health facilities, lack of health insurance and other personal reasons that deter them.

A mental disorder does not mean you cannot function, keep a job, be a good parent, or that you are not as good as other people. Something is defined as a “disorder” when it interferes in your life in some way. This varies from person to person as to how your life may be affected.

Many people with a mental illness need medication in order to attain their best functionality and their best quality of life. Others are able to manage their mental illness with therapy or other intervention type treatments. Some people choose to use holistic or spiritual methods to deal with their mental illness.

There are many different mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorders such as PTSD and C-PTSD, Everyone is not born with mental illness and all mental illness does not have a genetic factor.

The brain can be affected by trauma and by abuse. Disorders such as PTSD and C-PTSD are caused by abuse or trauma. Other disorders like depression and severe anxiety disorders can have roots in abuse including emotional and mental abuse. There is also a high number of people with other disorders that also either had abuse during their childhood or domestic violence as adults.

Mental and emotional trauma can be caused by violence upon or around a person. It can be caused by being in a traumatic event or witnessing a traumatic event. Other things like living through a natural disaster, living in poverty, the loss of a child, wartime exposure, and many other things.

invisible illness

The brain creates associations related to what it has experienced. Associations in the brain can cause emotional responses that arise from connections in the neural pathways. Different parts of the brain are affected by different mental illnesses. These can be seen in CT scans which were done to study the brains of people with bipolar. depression, OCD and other mental disorders.

If you or a loved one suffers from mental illness you are not alone. With the percentage of mental disorders being around 30 percent most people have friends, family members or loved ones that have a mental disorder of some kind. You may not know about mental illness in all of your friends or family because some people keep it a secret from others.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. The stigma about mental illness makes the problem worse by causing people to fear seeking help or to talk to anyone about it.

You are not your mental illness. Neither is your friend or family member. People with mental illness are not usually dangerous. There are only a few mental illnesses that predispose people to violence. Most people with mental illness are suffering within themselves and not causing harm to others at all.

Suicide rates are high in every country. There many death related to suicide and the feelings of hopelessness, shame, guilt , fear and worthlessness that people live with. People who suffer from mental illness are not all the same. People are people and they are all individuals.

Please do not see yourself as your diagnosis or as a label. You are unique and no one is just like you. Each person was born with value and worth that is innate. If you suffer from mental illness you should not have to feel shame about it. You just have an illness that is just as real as any physical illness.

People with physical diseases and illnesses are more likely to be recognized and less likely to be judged as a person, in regards to their diagnosis. Just because mental illness is invisible does not make it any less real or the suffering any less.

Adult Children from Dysfunctional Families Dealing with Emotions and C-PTSD

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This term “dysfunctional family” is a catch all basket term that includes a variety of types of malfunction within the family that can cause trauma and C-PTSD to the child.

Children of alcoholic parents fall into this category and even have their own phrase, which many of you have heard “Adult Children of Alcoholics.” Of course adult children of drug addicted parents, whether narcotic addicted or even prescription drug abusers also falls into this basket term.

The family can be dysfunctional when one or both of he parents are abusive in a physical, sexual, mental, emotional or any psychological way. Abuse can occur from other members of the family other than the parents. Even siblings and grandparents can cause the home to be unhealthy psychologically for the children growing up in it.

Some preteens ans teens are left alone most of the time due to a single parent work schedule and no other relative available. Having to parent yourself all the time can cause psychological dysfunction and important “brain software upgrades” can be missed at these ages. 

This may not be the parent’s fault and may be circumstantial but can be as devastating to the child than if it were intentional. The intention of the parent to be abusive or to create a psychologically damaging atmosphere to grow up in is not the main factor of whether or not the child is damaged.

If you were in any atmosphere that interfered with your normal social and psychological development them you may have C-PTSD from your childhood. C-PTSD is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

C-PTSD is caused by years of being in various situations where you felt unsafe and you also felt trapped into the situation with no choice to leave it. 

As a child we are mostly sentenced to the life we are living in therefore there is a feeling of powerlessness about having to stay in the situation. It can feel like a prison.

If there was a divorce or other upheaval like moving a lot, then we may have been in multiple environments with different kinds of abuse, or trauma that happened at various ages and from various different people. This is the root cause of C-PTSD.

Complex trauma is built over time and compounded by one traumatic event or situation being piled on top of the next.

There can be years and years of traumatic experiences from emotional abuse by different relatives and non-relatives like babysitters and people that dated our parent. Moving and having to be the new kid at school and adjust to unfamiliar houses and neighborhoods can also be traumatic. 

Being different than the other kids at school who have more stable lives can lead to bullying at school, which further compounds the complex trauma.

As you were growing up you may have felt like there was something wrong with you because you never seemed to fit in with the other kids who did not share your trauma and inadequate support system.

The feeling that there was something wrong with you further compounded the trauma.

Love Yourself

As you got older the type of abuse you were exposed to probably changed. As a small child you may have been emotionally abused by being ignored and minimized. As a teenager the abuse may have increased to aggressive yelling. hitting, or being thrown out of the house for periods of time.

Layers of Abuse and Trauma

The combinations and layers of abuse, neglect, and trauma that can occur are endless. Each person has their own experience and each person’s past is unique. Your story won’t be just like anyone else’s.

If you feel like something is wrong with you and it feels like it goes back into your teenage years or your childhood, then you probably have complex post traumatic stress disorder. 

I am going to write a series of posts about C-PTSD because I feel that so many people are suffering from this and either do not know that they are, or have no where to turn to for help with it. The results of C-PTSD can be devastating. Most people with C-PTSD have mental illness of one kind or another or a co-morbid condition of more than one mental disorder. 

Depression is common with any kind post traumatic stress disorder. There will also be hyper vigilance about things that feel threatening.

The amygdala has become dysfunctional and the fight or flight mode is likely to turn itself on at the slightest trigger of a memory associated with earlier trauma, even of the trauma happened before your conscious memory can remember. 

Trauma and abuse can occur in infants and very small children.

The memory from this age cannot be stored in the conscious memory system. The memory will be stored in the subconscious as feelings of fear and being unsafe.

 There can be triggers that set of your fight or flight mode and you do not understand them because they are from when you were too young to remember. If you came from trauma that you do remember, it is very possible that there is also trauma that you do not remember that is from when you were an infant and in your toddler years. 

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Flashbacks are pictures, sights, sounds, feelings and other memories of a traumatic event or situation which come back to our brains like they are happening right now.

Emotional Flashbacks

Emotional flashbacks are a flooding of a negative feeling that overcomes you when something triggers a past trauma. Emotional flashbacks may come to you like anxiety attack or a wave of depression. They may come in form a sudden distrust of a person or situation that is triggering the memory of a past abuse.

Realizing that we may not remember all of the reasons why we experience floods of seemingly illogical emotions can help us to heal from our trauma.

We never feel things for no reason. People may tell you that you are overly sensitive or too thin skinned or that you tend to over-react to things, but you are none of those things.

If you are sensitive to people saying certain kinds of things to you, then it is a response to earlier wounds that were inflicted upon you. When old wounds are opened up and even pressed into, there is going to be an emotional response. This is no overreacting, it is simply reacting to someone throwing salt into an open wound.

Some of your wounds may have occurred too young for you to remember.

Some of your wounds may have caused during adulthood such as a partner being abusive. Even then this abuse was also probably opening older wounds that you already had.

Most people do not stay is abusive relationships unless they were trained to do that as a child. Abuse victims get that same feelings of being trapped into a cage that they had when they were growing up. 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

The fight or flight mode actually has one more possible part to it, which is the “freeze” mode. It is really “fight, flight or freeze.”

When we feel that we are in danger, especially if it triggers earlier trauma then the brain often goes into the freeze mode. This is a way of the brain trying to protect us although it may not serve us as adults. These post traumatic stress responses are very powerful because they are embedded in our subconscious. 

Our subconscious brain has a lot of power over our feelings and our reactions. In order to heal from complex trauma and post traumatic stress much of the work needs to be done at the level of the subconscious brain.

This can be done through meditation, certain NLP techniques, listening to audios designed for this that put us into a light hypnotic state. If you prefer you can go to someone who does hypnosis and specializes in C-PTSD and PTSD.

I will close for now because this is getting so long to read. I plan to write a few more articles about this topic. This was intended to the introductory article about this.

Blessings to all,

Annie

Please send prayers and love to our blogging friend in the ER

Please say your prayers and send a supportive comment if you feel so moved to bipolar for life adventure …she is in the ER after a suicide attempt.  She is blogging from her ER bed right now. Let’s let  her know we are glad she is still with us.

Blessings,

Annie

You are Not Your Mental Illness

you are not your mental illness

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Depression is Just as Real as Physical Illness

Depression is different for different people. While there are similar experiences and feelings, there is no typical pattern that everyone has.

However your depression in for you is real and just as valid as anyone else’s depression.

It can hang on for long stretches on time from a few weeks to a few months. It can seem to go away and then reappear without any warning.

Some people have periods of the day where they are mostly fine only to wake up feeling the darkness of depression covering them like a black blanket in the morning. Depression can feel like the enemy.

There is no normal way to have depression because depression is not the normal way for the brain to behave.

There are organic differences in the brains of people who suffer from depressive disorders. It is a real illness with physiological evidence. Anyone that tells you that it is not real has not done their homework.

One of the worst things about having depression is that people will invalidate you and tell you that you are being a baby. They are able to shake off their sadness and frustration …so why can’t you?

Well, it does not work that way. People with depression cannot just shake it off or will themselves to get better. There is no magic pill to take or fairy wand to wave.

Depression haunts you and threatens you.

Medication can sometimes help but it is not a magic pill that cures you.

If you are suffering with depression, please know that you are not alone. There are many bloggers that write about depression. You can find support here so that you will not have to feel completely alone. 

depression hurts

People with mental illness are threatened and tormented by their own brains just like people with physical diseases are threatened by their own bodies.

In addition mental illnesses like depression also cause physical pain. There is a real feeling in the body that depression causes. It is different for different people but there is always pain in the body.

Don’t give up. You are not alone. Your mental health matters and you have just as much of a right to feel well as anyone else does.

Blessings,

Annie 

Fear of Abandonment

Many people who came from mentally abusive childhoods have a severe fear that people will abandon them. They carry toxic shame from their childhood that they are the cause of the abuse which occurred and deserved what happened to them.

People who experienced years and years of various kinds of emotional abuse and / or trauma  during their childhood often develop C-PTSD. This is complex post traumatic stress disorder. There were so many incidents of stress, feelings of threat and no ability to get any help, that the mental trauma just kept piling on and on.

Children have no way to know that they are being abused. If they are punished for “being bad” then they believe they must have been bad. How can you know any different?

If you were made to feel your parents’ divorce was your fault or that your parent’s drinking was your fault, then there is a feeling of shame that is carried with you into adulthood.

If a parent abandoned you as a child, then you had no way to know that it was not your fault. You were made to feel worthless and unloveable.

All kinds of varieties of childhood stress, trauma and mental abuse piled on top of one another causes the child to feel like they are very different than other people. There is a constant nagging feeling that there is something about them that makes people want to punish them and leave them.

If you are carrying this kind of toxic shame then you will have the feeling that people will eventually realize that you are bad and not want to stay with you. This is fear of abandonment.

In my opinion,  is possible to develop borderline personality disorder from this kind of ongoing abuse. It is possible to develop bipolar disorder if your moods were constantly affected by a mood dis-regulated parent. There are a variety of mental disorders, including depressive disorders and anxiety disorders that can come out of chronic stress and a feeling of of being safe as a child.

If you feel that you have the signs of one or more of these disorders, there is treatment for them. The mental health system is not as good some places as other places though. Hopefully you live somewhere that you can get the help that will work for you. It is good if you realize that some of your anxiety and fears are based on things that happened during your childhood.

If the therapist is trained in dealing with people that have C-PTSD from childhood abuse then they will understand better how to help you. Unfortunately the current manual that therapists use (the DSM) does not recognize C-PTSD as a disorder. Hopefully that will change in the future, but for now it is best to find someone that personally feels that C-PTSD is a legitimate disorder from ongoing childhood emotional and mental trauma.

It is not surprising for someone to have a fear that people will leave them, if their early experiences were that people leave, people fail to take care of you, people do not love you, people show their love by abusing you, and all of the other traumas which may have happened to you.

The severe fear of abandonment can cause many problems in adult relationships.

It is hard to trust people. It is hard to have a good perception about your value and your self worth. It is just hard to feel like a normal person that should be loved.

Some people that develop borderline personality disorder become so afraid that their partner will leave them that they will unconsciously cause damage to the relationship so that it will cause the other person to leave. Then when the other person leaves, this confirms their reality that people are not to be trusted to love them enough to stay or that they are not good enough for people to love them.

The reality that a person is taught is hard to change. The brain sees reality the way is was taught to see it. The process of changing your entire perception of yourself and of reality itself is a huge process that takes time. It cannot be done overnight and usually cannot be done without help.

The reality is that you are worthy of love. You are valuable. You did not deserve to be abused as a child and you were worthy of being loved unconditionally.

The other thing that can occur with people who fear abandonment is that they will develop People Pleaser Syndrome and go overboard about pleasing other people. There is a fear of making people angry, or disagreeing with people because in the reality of the C-PTSD suffered,  the displeased person may punish them or leave them, simply for expressing a difference in opinion.

Reality is a tricky thing. People do not see reality the same way. The reality of life for an abused child is very different from others. The reality of a person that grew up with an alcoholic parent is that there is always a threat looming just around the corner. Things can seem fine but the adult child of an alcoholic feels like it is the silence before the storm and there is an explosion or a catastrophe about to occur.

This constant anxiety causes stress in the body that is unhealthy. It causes the brain to be on alert for danger too often. Clearly this kind of condition makes relationships very stressful for the person with C-PTSD.

If this is you, and you feel fearful of people leaving you, then you are not alone. There may be a disorder which was inflicted upon you during developmental stages of your childhood. When you were supposed to be learning that people will care for you, that is not what you learned. Your brain was taught that it should always be on the look out, in order to protect itself.

Be kind and gentle with yourself.

I like the Ajahn Brahm talks on youtube, when he talks about being gentle with yourself. If you can be gentle and forgiving of others, why not with yourself. The less you judge and punish yourself, the better you will be able to work things out in relationships.

If you feel like there is something wrong with you, then just understand that you were abused and something caused you to feel that way. It is not real. You are not less worthy than other people.

You are ok the way you are, with the exception of needing healing. You have just as much right to love and kindness as anyone else.

Mental Illness, Depression, Anxiety Disorder

invisible illness

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