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The Light Switch Effect of Stress

Imagine you have cancer, complete with nasty symptoms that flare up at inopportune times. Now, imagine that your cancer is in remission — you haven’t had symptoms for a few months — and then something big happens. You break up with a partner, or you’re moving, or one of your parents dies. All of a sudden, your symptoms flare up again and leave you reeling in pain. This obviously isn’t a reality for cancer but for mental illness it is. There’s something strange that happens when stress enters your life. Your risk of a heart attack increases, your risk of diabetes increases and your symptoms of mental illness intensify pretty significantly.  (more…)

When to Pull Back When You’re Living With Mental Illness

Living with schizophrenia, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll come up against barriers, some of which may seem insurmountable. You’ll face tough days, weeks, months or even years, and all that pushing for some semblance of recovery or normalcy can easily overwhelm you. Stress is the light switch for symptoms of schizophrenia. As the stress starts to build, your paranoia can increase, you may start becoming obsessive and delusional and you can easily lose yourself in the midst of all these symptoms and find yourself in scary situations. When curve-balls come your way, you have to know how and when to pull back. In essence, you have to be conscious of what you’re feeling, you have to recognize your mind’s reactions to stimuli and be aware that the things you are experiencing are mostly in your head. Having a “wellness toolkit” filled with strategies that work for you will help you figure out your limits and gain an essential awareness of the maximum you can take without falling into delusion.  (more…)

Not For The Faint of Heart: Recovering From Co-Occurring Illnesses

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Living with bipolar disorder is not for the faint-hearted. It’s exhausting, and your will to live must be strong. You must win the same battle over and over again. The thing is, it doesn’t get easier. The brain is cunning. It turns right where it once went left. It’s slippery, elusive, and difficult to pin down. As soon as you think you’ve mastered it, the cycle repeats itself. Of course, I’m talking about when my bipolar is treated and well-managed. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder is a monster in its own right. It causes pain, destruction, and chaos. It rips apart families and it can be lethal. Frankly, I’m lucky to be alive.

Intense childhood panic attacks mark the beginning of my story. My family would push me out the front door toward the school bus as I would hysterically cry and push back. “Oh she’ll outgrow them,” my pediatrician said. So, instead of therapeutic intervention, spankings answered my literal cries for help.

Middle school brought with it depression and self-harm, which were also minimized. I believe that’s when I “toughened-up.” That is, I began wearing a figurative mask and learned to act as if nothing was wrong.

But it was in adulthood that living undiagnosed became most problematic.

Not even my mask could hide the madness within me. (more…)

A Spiritual Solution to a Mental Health Crisis

spiritual solution

What to say . . . what to say? This is my story. Part of it, anyhow . . . because how can I tell it all? It’s just revealing itself to me. Slowly. Like an iceberg melting. Like the barriers around my heart, melting.

Last year I wrote about not knowing how to write about my recovery. Next I wrote about my journey with cancer, depression, anxiety, and how the practice of Reiki saved my life.

Time has passed, and now I’m ready to write another chapter of my story. I write it with compassion, knowing that my perspective on life will change as time adds new relationships and emotions and tools to my unfolding life. I hope you find a nucleus of recovery somewhere in my story that ignites a sense of familiarity to your own journey — the desire to survive, to connect, to live.

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Lessons From A Year Well-Lived

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Hello 2015! We at OC87 Recovery Diaries warmly embrace a new year full of new ideas, new stories and new opportunities for growth and recovery.

But before we move on too quickly, we thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the top posts from 2014 that resonated the most with our readers. Here are the five most popular posts from the past year followed by a reflection on what worked in 2014 for each OC87 Recovery Diaries team member.

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