Understand

I don’t. 

The Democracy thing is set up so that the majority vote decides, right? Has everyone gone mad? 

In my understanding, as a Christ-follower, I am to pray for our leadership, and remember that God is sovereign. 

Throwing temper tantrums never worked for me as a child, but I guess many folks were raised with a very different experience. 

I used to take people’s words at face value. Then I realised that unless the actions line up with the words, it’s foolish for me to take people’s words as truth. 

I’ve been quiet lately because I watch and see what transpires. So far, I’m embarrassed to be connected to the folks who are acting like savages. That is all.
…from my shack in the forest.

Mental Illness and Stigma

There’s a lot of talk these days about the “Stigma” surrounding addiction, and mental illness. Just the other day I saw a story on social media telling of some heinous crime that was committed by a “mentally ill” person. Again. No wonder the world thinks of us as entirely dangerous. I suppose the fact that the Stigma is being discussed is encouraging, but perpetuating the untruth that folks living with mental illness are dangerous certainly isn’t helping anyone. Consider for a moment, a definition of “mental illness”:

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The Mayo Clinic:

Mental Illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions- disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior…many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

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So, many people have concerns from time to time. Personally, I have had concerns about others, many times, but they tell me that mentally ill people don’t usually see themselves as the crazy ones.  And don’t get me started on the “Nature vs Nurture” theories. In my own experience, while living with a seriously disturbed individual, it became necessary for me to think like the person in order to (safely) communicate with them. I had to speak the language, which in turn caused residual mental issues that I had to overcome once I was away from them.

I’m sure most of the Stigma comes from just not knowing any better. When the world gives you the same (informational) menu every day for years, it’s difficult to consider that it’s been wrong all this time. I’m not a Mental Health Professional, but I have studied it for as long as I can remember. Initially my interest came from wondering why my perceptions appeared to be so different from everyone around me (because they were), but then the curiosity turned to trying to understand the folks that I interacted with on a regular basis.

For example, I was told that many years ago that my Dad was diagnosed as a Sociopath. I’m positive that’s why in my memory he never had anything good to say about Mental Health workers in general. As it turned out, Dad was the product of an abusive home, and he struggled with several issues, depression and addiction being a couple. I know that he had the Ism’s of alcoholism/addiction for as long as I knew him, and those may have, in fact, been the behaviors that caused people to think he was a Sociopath.

Another thing that causes me to ponder the Mental Health diagnoses is the multiple official diagnoses which have been changed or even removed altogether from being considered to be a “disorder”.  So, does that mean that being crazy or not just depends on the time period in which you are seen by a diagnosing physician?  Consider this:   

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or “DSM” is considered to be the reference for characterization and diagnosis of mental disorders. It’s had numerous adjustments since it’s inception in 1952.  In the first edition of the DSM, there were 102 “broadly-construed diagnostic categories” , and by the time the third publication of the DMS came out in 1980, there were 265. When the DSM-IV was released, there were 297 diagnosable disorders…. (from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Someone said that the bottom line definitions of a mental disorder was behavior outside the realm of socially accepted behaviors.  That, in a general sense, sounds about right.

Depending on whose information you believe, one-in-four or -five American adults experiences a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.  So, if I work in an office with, say 20 other individuals, and I consider myself to be mentally healthy (Duh. I’m not ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!), then that means I’m working beside a pretty good amount of crazy -and potentially  lethal, according to society- people! Wow! How do people find the courage to leave their houses?!

My suspicion, and, remember, I’m not a Professional, is that the larger part of adults today, in our country, are living with a whole lot of unnecessary duress and discomfort between their ears. Most will never see a Dr. about it, and do you know why that is?  Because it would mean that they were, I don’t know, flawed? Less than perfect? Oh, that’s right, anyone who has a mental disorder must be a danger to themselves and others. I almost forgot.

What if the disorder is Depression, which seems to be the most prevalent? Those folks aren’t nearly as likely to hurt you as they are to hurt themselves. Like 99% more likely to hurt themselves.

What about Anxiety? Look up the stats on Veterans and suicide. PTSD is in the Anxiety family.

Ok, how about Bipolar (once known as manic-depression)? Or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Or Borderline Personality Disorder?  Or Schizophrenia? Oh, I know, what about people like “Sybil” from that old Psych 101 film? Unless all that I’ve read or heard is wrong, these people are much more likely to IMplode than to EXplode.

While I will grant you that many of the people acting out violently in society may have some kind of mental imbalance or disorder, most of the individuals with a diagnosed mental illness will never be a danger to anyone but themselves. If you don’t believe me, ask the 4 or 5 people in your office.  

Codependency kills.

~~~~~~~~This post is relate-able, whether or not you realize it, because underneath the chemicals, most (if not all) alcoholic/addicts are codependent. And this crazy behavior will not only get you drunk or high, it can ultimately be the cause of a sad, slow death. Ulcers, hypertension, depression, rage, migraines…yeah. Nobody wants needs or deserves them. So, how about you, dear reader? Have you recognized any of this behavior in yourself or those around you? It’s an area that I always need to return to and beware of falling back into. ~~~~~~~~

I am a child of an alcoholic. I have some bad habits from growing up in a dysfunctional home. Because of the way I grew up, I am a people-pleaser, a controller, a giver, a care-taker; in a word: codependent. What is co-dependent? Dan Beaver defines it as “taking responsibility for another adult” and enabling […]

via Day Twelve – Codependent and a Vent — Four Stars and a Frame

2 Wildly Contradictory Views of 1 Disease (Part 2 of 2)

~~~NOTE: This is my experience, strength and hope, as a recovering alcoholic/addict. It’s not what I learned in a book. It’s things I’ve learned from folks who lived it.~~~

…so, where did we leave off? Oh, yeah. “I don’t have a problem” vs. “Oh, Hell, yes you do.”

It seems like a reasonable question, from a parent, spouse, friend, or even concerned employer, to ask “What can I do to make this insanity stop?” There’s where it gets really crazy. Why?

insanity_laughter_statue

“Shoot me now!”

Because YOU can’t do a thing to make them stop. Or even slow down. Nope. Sorry.  Look at it this way, if you could change the way their lives were going, wouldn’t you have, by now? It’s not like you haven’t done your best to “help” them!!

If loving you, the kids, their pets, their home, or even themselves (or whomever) were enough motivation to cause the alcoholic/addict to stop the insanity, they would have stopped a long time ago. Love or not has NOTHING to do with addiction (including alcoholism). One of the results of addiction, actually, is self-loathing, because they more often than not, know that they’re hurting you. But they are powerless to stop. For now.

If a good job being jeopardized was enough to get them to stop, they would have, after losing the first one. Right?  Ditto, losing their drivers’ license. Ditto, spending time in the county lock-up. Seems simple, doesn’t it? “Just quit!” or even, “Learn to drink like a gentleman!

So, addiction has nothing to do with how the addict feels about the world around them, necessarily. Sure, depression and/or countless other mental illnesses may accompany the addiction, or have become more noticeable to you since the person began to increase their consumption. Many drugs (including alcohol) mimic mental illness, eventually, after enough has been consumed. But that’s not the reason why they drink or use drugs…

I’m not going to go into an in-depth dialogue of why some folks get addicted and others don’t, or what causes addiction. Maybe in another post, but not this one.  The insanity of the disease of addiction is apparent in the behavior of not only the alkie/druggie, but also in the behavior of everyone in a relationship with them.

Today I’m hoping to reach out to the ones caught in the whirlwind of addiction brought on by their loved ones, and offer real, tangible hope.

The point is, the only one who is capable of deciding to stop drinking or using drugs, on a daily basis, is the one doing them in the first place.

What you can do, to HELP this person, will sound crazy, but consider it, please, in contrast to the ways you’ve been trying to “help” them.

*I am fully aware the this is going to sound harsh, and a lot of people involved with (us) will reject this advice across the board.*

Treat them like an adult. Let them take responsibility for their own screw-ups. Give them the dignity of finding their own solutions. You giving them is not likely to work, after all, haven’t you given them your best answers? (They have to find their own. You CAN’T do it for them.)

You didn’t pay the electric bill? Wow, that’s gotta suck. Do you need some candles? You don’t have any food in the  house? Maybe there are food pantries around that you can find. (Here’s a pb & j in the meantime. I’ll take the kids to McDonald’s, but you can pay your own way.)

You need gas to get to work? Ok, I’ll meet you at the gas station and put some into your tank. (This does not involve any money -plastic or otherwise- transferring from your hand to theirs. You go inside and pay the attendant. Or don’t: you’ll find out for yourself how that works out.)

                          ***LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO RISK THEM HATING YOU***

The problem with having children in the midst (which the alcoholic KNOWS is an effective manipulation tool-look how well it’s been working), is that they are going to suffer because of the choices their parents make. I’m not saying that you abandon the kids. Take the children out for a bite, take the children home for a sleep-over, even take temporary custody if you can or feel you must. (The fact is, if you know of neglect of abuse going on, think of what may be happening that you’re not  aware of. In the throes of our addiction, we are very talented in guarding evidence that might slow down or stop our using or drinking.) The thing is, the addict is going to look for any possible way to play on your sympathy, guilt, or love for them/their kids, to get to their prime goal: that next high. If you’re not  going to directly supply them, then they are going to find some way to relieve you of some cash.

Here’s the bottom line, dear friends: when an addict/alcoholic is active in their addiction, you are no longer interacting with the person you know and love. You are dealing with their disease. It helps me to understand the “disease” model by framing it within the realm of a mental illness. People with diagnosable mental illness act differently, don’t they? They often do things that they later regret, hurting those they care the most about, and some form of treatment is usually the only thing that will bring back any semblance of lucidity.  Sometimes therapy is enough, sometimes medication is needed for some amount of time, but ignoring it NEVER works. Seriously.

Trying to reason with a person in a bipolar/depressive/schizo-effective episode is like trying to teach a pig to sing:  It wastes your time and annoys the pig. People tried to talk to me about my consumption of mind-altering chemicals, and at BEST, they received a bored or irritated look in return.

Unless and until the person comes to the conclusion that their way isn’t working, they’re not going to seek out help. SO, since you DO love them, and you HAVE to do SOMETHING, please, take my advice:

Take care of you. Get to an ALANON or NARANON meeting, or a counselor familiar with addiction, to help you find the best way to detach from the insane behaviors and strengthen yourself. If you don’t take care of you, how are you ever going to be able to “be there” for them, if and when they come to their senses and seek help.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. Some day, your loved one will thank you, if you actively work towards setting them free to take as much discomfort as they require, to decide to STOP. I leave you with one thought, that I heard from a wonderful lady in ALANON, many years ago:

How can they hit bottom if you keep sliding a mattress under their butt?

😉

 

 

Just a few more words on…the S word

image

Ashamed of being

I felt ashamed.”

“But of what? Psyche, they hadn’t stripped you naked or anything?”

“No, no, Maia. Ashamed of looking like a mortal — of being a mortal.”

“But how could you help that?”

“Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?

C.S. LewisTill We Have Faces

Posted from a spot…on a hill.

On shame

Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.

Brené Brown

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.