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OCD or The Art of Self-Humiliation

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At first I didn’t know I had anything, let alone three letters that could be associated with my symptoms and odd behavior. Could three innocuous letters really encapsulate all the crazy? OCD: Obsessive (check), Compulsive (check), Disorder (?). I’ve never been comfortable with this word, something about it makes me think “clutter,” as if all I have to do is tidy up my wayward thoughts but it’s not that simple. I prefer “Disease;” it adds gravitas to the taboo that is mental illness.  (more…)

Suffering in Silence: Men’s Mental Health in America Today

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Mid-way through my freshman year of college, the girl that I had longed to be with for years was nearly killed in a viscous, ice-slicked car wreck that claimed two other young lives. I sat, trembling, on my best friend’s bed, talking haltingly to her on the phone as she lay in a hospital bed, hundreds of miles away, nearly completely blitzed from painkillers and sedatives. I told her that I loved her, and she said it back. That’s what happens when you drug people, I guess.

I had been messed up for a long time — awash in anxiety and depression — but you need that tipping point, I guess, to motivate you to stand up and do something about it. I don’t know what I was hoping to find in that therapist’s office, under the couch cushions or in the tissue box or between the hands of the fifty-minute hour clock, but I knew something had to be there: answers, or at least different questions. The receptionist set me up with an appointment and she said to me, “You know, we do have a back entrance you can use.” I was puzzled.

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My Kids Know Mommy Has Bipolar Disorder

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We don’t have a plan.

Chances are it will happen again. Mania will overtake my brain to the point where I’ll need to be forced into treatment. No matter how hard I work at staying mentally healthy, the statistics show that most people who live with my type of bipolar will relapse many times. This can be due to meds ceasing to work, life events, or changes in sleep patterns.

We probably should write down a plan.

That was the advice given to us as we sat in a dreary office speaking with a new psychiatrist one month before I would give birth to our first child. My entire pregnancy had gone so smoothly. My bipolar disorder appeared to be in remission as I indulged in ice cream every night and marveled at my growing belly.

Not even the loss of my laid back, corporate recruiting job, the same month we closed on our new house, rattled my mental health. We had conceived, sold our townhouse, found a new place to live, packed and moved, went through my job loss, and I was still okay. I was more than okay. I was so happy with how our life was going.

So when Ben and I met with the psychiatrist, I naturally was not really focused on preventative measures. Frankly, I was questioning whether I even had bipolar given how well I had been doing off medication. The meeting was meant for us to have someone in our back pocket, should we need her in an emergency. My ego ached for her to shower me with praise for how well I had been taking care of myself.

Instead, she focused on the inevitable hospitalization she predicted I’d face. That’s all I heard. “You’re going to fail at mothering with bipolar, so we need a plan for when that happens.”

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