Mania: What People Don’t Know

The following post was found on the site, Medium. It was written by the aspiring writer, l.m, who writes about bipolar disorder. She is a beautiful writer  – if you are interested in reading more, please visit her page.

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I’m running through a crowd of people, sweat dripping down my back, my legs numb from the exercise. I’m running from something terrifying, a monster of some kind. I’m afraid that when it catches up to me that I might die, that my family might get murdered too. I’m also completely manically psychotic.

Psychosis is the complete loss of control over one’s sanity. It consists of hallucinations and delusions, such as hearing voices or delusion of grandeur. It is absolutely horrific and often a person does not realise that they’re psychotic making it more terrifying. In relation to this, mania is believed to be a type of mood where a person experiences euphoria and happiness. This is where people get this wrong. Mania is not always euphoria. For some people, it is a mood that is painful and hard to come to terms with. It is often followed by depression making it a dreadful reminder of what’s to come. But it’s also associated with the belief that it is wonderful and that Bipolar Disorder is not terrible because it includes mania. There are many different stigmas that are grossly attached to the mood and it is vital that these misconceptions are smashed.

In some cases, mania consists of psychosis, which is one of the worse things about it. People that experience psychosis have different types of delusions, but one that is more common is delusion of grandeur, which is the belief that a person is famous or infinitely great. This becomes problematic when people start acting upon this belief. In my case, I experienced a delusion that was beyond my control and I struggled to believe it wasn’t true.

Mania is also associated with irrationality, which often results in painful consequences. This can be proven difficult when one has to clean up the mess of mania when depressed. I’ve experienced this first hand. When I was manic, I damaged my car countless times and made decisions that I’d never make if I were stable. After this time period, I crashed into a deep depression leaving me feeling shattered, proving that mania isn’t all that great.

Mania is not just happiness. It is also mixed moods. One can be angry and manic, sad and manic or irritable and manic. The different moods that are associated with mania are infinite. It’s tiring. The constant talking and moving, the inflated ego, the terrible decision-making and rushing heartbeat can become extremely tiresome. This is exacerbated by the lack of sleep that one gets. The worse thing about this is that despite being absolutely exhausted, you cannot stop the symptoms. You keep going until you crash.

Bipolar Disorder is trouble. What people don’t know is that the two moods, depression and mania, combined together is exhausting. It is the constant chatter, the late-night projects that remain unfinished and the racing mind.

Mania is not always euphoria. It is the terrifying realisation that you are trapped in a cycle of moods that is difficult to emerge from and it’s important that people know this.

Source: Medium

Author: l.m

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Counsellor? Psychologist? Psychiatrist? Who should I see? 

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Have you ever wondered if you should see a counsellor, psychologist or a psychiatrist? These days there are a variety of different professions, all of which vary and it can get confusing for individuals that want or need to seek help.

Counselors: Counsellors are mental health professionals with a specified skill set who provide short-term care. Usually, they will have an undergraduate or masters level specialty in psychology. Counsellors help people in need identify triggering issues and encourage positive steps in life to resolve these short-term issues. Attending counseling and seeing a counsellor is a relatively short term processes.

Psychologist: Psychologists are more specialised than counsellors in that more required education is needed, specifically doctoral level training. They help individuals who have had a host of emotional problems that have built upper time – such as depression and anxiety. Psychotherapy is a longer term process and treatment is designed to identify emotional issues that exist in the background of a person’s life.

Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are trained, medical doctors. After they have finished medical school, they complete their residency in psychiatry for roughly four years. For this reason, psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication to patients, and psychologists are not. Psychologists and psychiatrists work in tandem to provide relief to an individual through psychotherapy (psychologist) and medicine (psychiatry).

In essence, if you or someone you know is going through temporary and relatively short-term struggles, a counsellor may be the best point of contact as there are smaller waiting lists and typically, no GP or doctor referral needed. If the problem has been persistent and ongoing, with major life and behavioural disruptions, a psychologist or psychiatrist may be a better point of contact.

First Responders and PTSD

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I have always been proud of my family members and friends who work in emergency services. They are the first ones to arrive on the scene of a horrific event, provide support to individuals and protect our communities. These individuals display their strength through assisting others in crisis situations to ensure others feel safe and supported. But what happens when a first responder needs to feel safe and supported after attending a stressful call?

First responders (police officers, paramedics, firefighters) are considered to be at higher risk of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than other careers. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that is caused by an individual being exposed to and/or experienced a traumatic event. Some individuals relive their traumatic experience on a daily basis through triggers (sounds, words, memories) while others experience little impact on a daily basis. Every day, first responders are exposed to high stressors that can impact them long term. At today’s rate, 20-22% of first responders will be diagnosed with PTSD while active or retired.

It was not until February 2016 that the province of Ontario, Canada decided to take action and developed a new PTSD strategy for first responders due to an increased suicide rate of first responders linked to PTSD. This strategy includes creating awareness to first responders, their families and communities while attempting to eliminate the stigma to ensure first responders are supported and have resources available to assist with coping. This strategy includes research grants that support PTSD prevention, information for employers on how to support their first responders and an annual leadership summit to focus on dealing with PTSD. Promoting assistance to our first responders is a step towards ending the stigma.

In 2017, there have been four first responders and four military members who have taken their own life due to PTSD in Canada. Ensuring that our first responders are supported in the way that they support communities will assist with ending the stigma. The following links are some Canadian resources and information for those needing some guidance or support with PTSD.

 First Responders Trauma Intervention and Suicide Prevention

First Responders First – PTSD Resource Toolkit

Coping with PTSD: Supporting Frist Responders

TEMA.CA 

Ontario Announces New PTSD Strategy for First Responders

Understanding Anxiety

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There is no denying it – anxiety can be an unpleasant feeling. Your heart starts to race, palms begin to sweat and your stomach feels as if it is tied up in knots. But what exactly is anxiety and why do these feelings occur?

Anxiety is how your body responds to the threat of danger. Think of anxiety like your body’s alarm system. When you sense danger, it signals the alarm by pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream. The adrenaline causes systems within the body to speed up and diverts blood into larger muscles. This response gives you the momentum to either fight or run away. While this response system is extremely helpful and in some cases, life-saving, it can sometimes be a little too sensitive for modern day life.

Most of us are no longer at risk of being attacked by a lion or mauled by a bear. Instead, we are at risk of missing a deadline or failing a major exam. When the anxiety-provoking experience is over, people usually feel calm and relaxed. However, for some people, the anxiety does not subside. Our response system can be so effective that sometimes it is triggered even when we do not need it. The threat of danger is not real, but our thoughts are telling us it is. People who are prone to feeling anxious may have a hyperactive response system that is constantly scanning for danger and consequently more likely to be triggered.

Problems with anxiety tend to occur when we overestimate the threat of danger. Our thoughts can get distorted and we become vulnerable to engaging in the following:

  • Catastrophising – Take a current or future situation and anticipate the worst possible outcome. For example, you make a tiny error at work and you think ‘I am going to get fired.’
  • Black-and-white thinking – Look at everything in terms of all-or-nothing. This often happens with perfectionists, who feel that without perfection everything is a failure. For example, thinking ‘I’m so terrible at running,’ versus ‘Running is hard for me right now, but I will keep running so that I can get better.’
  • Block out the positive – Instead of focusing on the whole picture, good and bad, you filter out the positive and only see the negative.
  • Scanning – Searching for what makes you most anxious. This causes worry and fear over what may happen before it happens, which causes double the anxiety.
  • Changes in mood – This can alter your ability to cope with anxiety and stress, which can make you feel hopeless and helpless.

Feeling anxious? Here are some things you can try:

  • Breathe – Taking deep breaths in and holding for one second before releasing the air. This will help calm you down and allow you to be more relaxed and be present.
  • Ask yourself some questions:
    • What is happening to make me react this way?
    • What do I think is going to happen?
    • What is the worst-case scenario? What is the best?
    • How important is this and will I care in a few days, weeks, or months?
    • Am I really in danger?
    • Am I viewing the situation correctly?
    • Is the outcome in my control?

If you find yourself suffering from anxiety and need some extra help – reach out to your general practitioner.

Or reach you can reach out to Anxiety UK, an established national charity service that provides support and services to anyone dealing with an anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and phobias.

 

A Year in Pixels

The last week of December 2016, I found myself rolling my eyes at all the Instagram posts and tweets regarding individuals being “over” 2016. Some posts said “Bye 2016” or shared a picture of a celebrity at their worst with a snarky caption “How I feel at the end of 2016.” Many posts focused on negative aspects that occurred in one’s personal life through 2016 rather than reflecting on those aspects that allowed them to grow. At the beginning of a new year, we set these expectations that the upcoming year will better than the last. But why do we have these expectations and how do we react when our expectations are not met?

As I scrolled through Pinterest for new hair ideas earlier in 2017, I came across a post entitled ‘A Year in Pixels.’ After reading a few different posts about pixels, I became interested in starting my own. ‘A Year in Pixels’ is a chart that allows you to use certain colours to visually reflect your mood on a day-to-day basis. We colour in a pixel (a block) for the given day. At the end of the year, the chart reflects mood consistencies (or inconsistencies).

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The best thing about this? There are no rules! You are completely in charge of reflecting on day-to-day moods by simply dedicating 1 colour to a mood (i.e. green means happy, red means frustrated). When your pixels are completely coloured at the end of 2017, you’ll be able to reflect on the days/weeks/months that you felt motivated, felt happy or felt sad. It’s all about being able to reflect on person growth through out the year!

Written by: K. Tod