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Be On Track With Mental Illness.

March 4, 2017


When someone walks by you with a cast on their leg, you know they have a broken leg and have gone through pain. When someone has a mental illness such as bipolar, and manic depressant, others have no idea that our brains are wired differently and we either have to suffer, or take medication. Many go untreated because they think it’s simply them and they live with the symptoms.

The medications I’ve been on help me function and feel better on the whole. However, I misinterpreted my medication with another I wasn’t taking-I thought, by the doctor’s directions. Confusion and lack of concentration are symptoms, skin rashes and itchy body. I went through withdrawal-thinking it was just the flu. I had recurring negative fearful thoughts when I tried to go to sleep. Most nights, I couldn’t. I was sick to my stomach and felt like I was in a fog. I thought maybe I had cancer, and was in fear of that but since I started taking the new medication, I am better.

I don’t choose to have recurring negative thoughts, and I try to distract my mind, but it won’t stop. All of these symptoms appear when I am nervous or stressed and having a bipolar episode. With medication I can now sleep, so I don’t have those thoughts. Anyone who has bipolar should always stay on their medication, I learned the hard way to do so. There is no energy or desire to do anything while going through this time. Things get pushed aside and sleeping is mostly during the day, making it twice as hard to get to sleep.

A simple thing like a bill that needs to be paid seems monumental. There are sometimes, maybe always, panic attacks associated with bipolar. We can be the strongest people when we’re not having an episode, but while having one, life seems dismal and gray. No one wants to live like that. It all begins in the brain. We are not lazy people, we have an illness in which doctors can concur with other doctors and see what parts of the brain aren’t firing when they should. The parts that control negative thoughts and thoughts of suicide.

All hope fades away during this time of panicking. Hence the suicide rate is high for those with mental illness. The body feels dizzy, and I myself, pray a lot. That worked when I needed it. I begged to get myself out of this level of despair. Now, I feel great, but any trauma leads me right back to where I don’t want to be. There is a down time after these episodes where one must pull themselves together, and take the right medication. They are useful to control the symptoms of bipolar, but panic attacks aren’t covered!

No one wants to hear complaints every day that you don’t feel good, and that adds extra pressure and stress. So the mind is on it’s own to roam and cause us fear and heartache. There are skills we can learn, and I have, that help the situation, but once panic and fear grab a hold of you, it’s hard to get out from under. The worst part is many don’t understand that mental illness is a real thing, so by the looks of us, we’re okay. This isn’t always necessarily so. Those who know us don’t have a clue what we can go through during a panic attack.

They live their daily lives and think we’re just going through another occurrence. We are! We need reassurance and compassion and comfort in this stage of our illness. Many don’t get that satisfaction, so we trudge along alone. This only fuels the deep depression that was already there. When in a panic, fear needs to be soothed. A friend or spouse could help by saying nice things, or picking some flowers, or playing music you like. This kind of treatment alleviates at least half the panic. To feel secure is the answer to coming down off an attack, for me at least.

Secure in my home and with my family. I just wish people with bi polar were recognized for their strength going through these encounters. Strength to hold on when no one else understands. We can be productive in our lives, but watch out for the attacks! We may not have cancer or aids or any number of other terrible conditions, including broken bones. We do have a condition that needs the feeling of safety and love to get back on track. That shouldn’t be too hard, coming from "loved" ones.


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Susan Thom is the mother of three children, two sons, and a daughter. They are adults now, and out of the house on their own.

Writing calms her, and gives her a place to go by herself! Clears the head and gets it out. She lives in a rural area, with a lake and mountains, and her partner, and has loved writing since she was a child.

She has been on a journey of self discovery for over thirty years, and has learned many things about the human mind, and how to maintain some resemblance of calm and peace within.

If someone reads one of her stories, and relates to her feelings, and gets a suggestion on how she dealt with them in a positive way, that would be the ultimate gift of her writing.

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