Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mental Health

I haven't hit the "New Post" button in weeks. I haven't even checked on my blog.

Kind of funny, considering my blog is my favorite thing.

I can't think of a creative lead, so I'll just explain my absence plainly:

Bipolar disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that results in extreme mood fluctuation between depression (lows) and mania (highs). It's more than feeling up and down; it's a loss of control. The roller-coaster metaphor is used a lot, but I would say that in my experience, it's pretty appropriate. You surge upward with inflated self-importance and self-esteem, huge plans and extravagant schemes, boundless energy and no sleep. Then you crash downwards at breakneck speed with hopelessness, thoughts of self-harm, and loss of will to keep going.

The good news is, it can be managed with the right combination of medications and therapy. 

I've spent a lot of time figuring of what triggers my episodes of depression and mania, and what helps me recover from those episodes. Improv, one of my favorite activities, turned out to be a trigger right now, so I've had to take a break.

 I also realized that blogging is a huge help. It makes me passionate about creating original content and creating a dedicated online community. I want my blog to give attention to mental health concerns. I started that with my Eating Disorders post, but I think it needs to be a more regular feature. 

My message today is that if you have thoughts of ending your life, there are people and places that can help you.

Call 911. You will be taken to a local hospital and evaluated. They will keep you in a safe place and determine a course of treatment for you. This may or may not include an extended stay at the hospital. Staying at the hospital allows you to get intensive therapy alone and in a group, get your medications in order, and be away from outside influences while you rest and heal.

Tell an adult. A parent, a teacher, a guidance counselor, a therapist, a doctor, a family friend. For my younger readers: friends your own age will want to help you, but they might not know what to do. 
If you don't feel like there is anyone you can tell, try a hotline, such as 
1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

*Note: If you go to my high school and are experiencing mental health issues, I would recommend going to see Ms. Gallagher. She is a wonderful, kind woman with a plethora of resources to help you through this difficult time. She stayed with me while I contacted my parents and made arrangements to go to the hospital, and she helped me get back on track when I returned to school. Your individual counselor can also help you when taking care of yourself has to become your first priority. School is important, but your life and health is more important!

In the future, I will write a post about what's it like to stay at the hospital, removing the stigma from taking medication, and a more personal post about bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. I will still do outfit posts and Vintage Photo Monday, but I will also be an advocate for mental health. If there are any posts you would be interested in reading, please let me know! If you would like to share your story, please contact me. Just click the "Contact Me" button under my banner. 

I hope you are all safe and well.