For us big girls, there is one dreaded acronym that we hate to hear at the doctor's office: BMI. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a ratio between your height and weight. That sounds legit until you realize that there are a lot more factors that affect your weight. The BMI doesn't take your build into account. It doesn't take your proportions into account. Two people of the same height and weight can look different.
Also, this number can make you feel bad about yourself if your number is deemed "too high." I remember crying in school, when I had a BMI chart tell me I am morbidly obese, which I am not.
Lisbeth Leftwich had a very bad experience with BMI. She went to the doctor to talk about birth control options, and she ended up being handed some literature on dieting and losing weight. Apparently, her BMI was considered "overweight." What the doctor's office didn't know is that she had an eating disorder.
"So this is why this incident at the doctor’s office startled and upset me. Not only was I not there to talk about my weight, but my relationship with food was fragile at best. Handing me these papers threw me into a tailspin."
There have been many studies about the relationship between self-esteem and BMI.
An abstract from one study said:
"Prior research has shown a relationship between high BMI scores and low self-esteem scores among college-aged women. Culturally, Americans perceive low weight to be ideal and body weight to be a personal responsibility because it is a perceived to be a controllable factor. The hypothesis for this study was that there would be a positive relationship between the Body Mass Index score and the Index of Self-esteem (ISE) score in female sophomore and junior college students. Using a Pearson r, no statistically significant relationship was found between BMI and self-esteem."
Your BMI is just a dumb number. You are way more than that.
I found this article about bipolar disorder and I just had to talk about these myths.
Myth: People with bipolar mood swings cycle between moods within a few hours.
Fact: The cycling is not that fast with most cases of bipolar disorder. Most people only have 3 - 4 cycles per year. My schizoaffective disorder is of the bipolar type, but I've never actually been manic on my own. I just got manic with certain medicines.
Myth: Manic people are happy.
Fact: Actually, people in manic episodes can be aggressive and agitated. It's not fun.
Myth: Bipolar is easy to diagnose. You can just use a quick test.
Fact: There is no test for bipolar disorder. It is actually difficult to diagnose. It takes time to witness the person have manic and depressive episodes. It took me almost a year to get diagnosed.
Myth: Bipolar sufferers are always unstable.
Fact: Many people can be stabilized with medicine and therapy. They can live normal lives, they just have to work hard to take care of themselves to keep from having symptoms again.
With physical illnesses, recovery is very easy to observe. With mental illnesses, it is not so cut and dry. Everyone with a mental health diagnosis presents differently. Some illnesses are less serious than others.
For someone with a psychotic condition, recovery may mean stopping the hallucinations. For someone with mild depression, they may be able to just take a pill and be fine.
Some of us can be stabilized, but we may never be 100-percent symptom free. In my case, I still have anxiety and some depression. My medicine takes away the paranoia and the more severe emotional effects.
Some people with extreme cases on schizophrenia may never recover. Some people may have to have assisted care for the rest of their lives.
This is a pretty rare occurrence, but it happens.
According to mentalhealth.gov, there are four dimensions of recovery:
To start, I've never really been a night owl. I used to go to bed between 8 - 10 in the evening; I still do occasionally. However, three years ago, I had a psychotic episode. I tried a SSRI and got hypomanic; the little bit of energy was kind of fun.
Now, I got to bed between 6 and 7 in the evening. I'll stay up a little later on weekends. My energy levels have been greatly affected. I'll be fine all day, then I lose all energy by the evening. I just recently found out that this was a symptom of the disease.
I started Abilify, and it is slowly helping. I have more energy lately, but it still doesn't always last the entire day. I feel like an old lady when I get tired so soon. It's a daily fight of I should stay awake versus I need to listen to my body.
Working at home as a freelancer is great because I can work when I have the energy. When you have a mental illness, you just learn to deal with different symptoms and side-effects. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if I'm really tired or just out of energy. I'm just happy when I'm not in a depressive state, and I haven't had psychosis in a long time.
If you are experiencing, these kinds of symptoms just know you are not alone. It will get better. I've been diagnosed for two-and-a-half years, and I'm very well stabilized. I used to be a programmer, and now I'm a freelance writer. I'm still getting on my feet here, but I'm working my butt off every day. I hope that sometime in our lifetimes there will be a cure for mental illness.
I submitted this somewhere else and got rejected. So, I'm putting it here.
I have schizoaffective disorder. It is a mixture of bipolar symptoms and schizophrenic symptoms. I stay fairly stable on my medicine, but there are some days when I get depressed and have pity parties. I have not been able to hold a regular office job in almost a year because of the anxiety. My first episode happened at the job I had at the time, so I have a hard time dealing with that environment.
I have become a freelance writer this year. I have fallen in love with writing and with working at home. I make my own schedule, I pick my topics, and I work hard. There are still some days when I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes, I feel like a failure. I have to remember that I don't have anything to be ashamed of. I remember that I work my ass off every day to stay recovered and get back on my feet.
Self-stigma is a terrible black hole in my mind. Everyone that has a mental illness can understand that. It affects many aspects of my life. The anxiety is exhausting. My memory is not as good as it used to be. It is easy to fall into that black hole when you are feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, I have a mental illness, but that is just one part of my identity.
The label is just that. It is a label used by doctors and insurance companies. I'm a woman with schizoaffective disorder. I'm also a daughter, a dog mom, a liberal writer, an atheist, a college graduate, and many other things.
When I was first diagnosed, I knew that my life would never be the same again. When you are fighting to get stable, it often feels like the mental illness is going to take over. When you are fighting medicine side effects, it seems that your entire life will be like this.
I am stable now, and I will work my ass off to stay that way. If you are fighting to get stable, just remember to keep looking forward. Remember that you are still a person; you are not your disease. Always keep fighting, and you will get through this.
We hear plenty of people coming out with depression, anxiety, OCD, and other mental illnesses. One type of mental illness that isn't talked about are the psychotic conditions such as schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia.
Depression and anxiety are a little more tame. The psychotic conditions are not quite as palatable to the general public. These types of symptoms are not talked about. The hallucinations. The delusions. The breaks from reality. These are the scarier symptoms that people don't want to talk about.
Roughly 3 percent of the American population experiences these symptoms. 100,000 young people have psychotic episodes in a year versus the 16 million who have depressive episode.
According to the Schizophrenia Society of Newfoundland and Labrador's page:
The stigma associated with psychosis can be worse than mental illness itself. It can keep someone in the closet about their mental illness and prevent them from receiving treatment (Summerville &, 2010). It is one of the greatest disablers, and it has led to discrimination in housing, employment, and social supports. It has also been the main reason for people with mental illness to become socially isolated, drug abuse, and excessive institutionalization. This means that stigma can decrease a persons’ chance of recovery.
We need to talk about all kinds of mental illnesses and mental health issues. Share your experiences and we will spread awareness of it.
Mental illnesses can be debilitating. They can affect our ability to work and function. I'm not talking about physical pain. The psychological and emotional pain is what causes the most suffering.
As my therapist, Jane, says:
"Acute physical pain, such as injury, is time limited by its nature. You KNOW it will end. Emotional pain, no matter how many times you've had your heart broken, seems to last forever. You've gotten over it before but, this time you don't KNOW when it will end. Or get easier. Or if it will ever end. Pain is always seen through the lens of your own perception. It is as big and bad as you BELIEVE it is."
The sadness, hopelessness, self-hate, self stigma, and many other symptoms can make you feel horrible.
Psychology Today presented their five reasons why emotional is worse than physical pain:
1. Memories Trigger Emotional Pain
There are many ways to trigger emotional pain. Remembering the person or events that caused it can bring it right back to the surface. Remembering that time you broke your leg won't make your leg hurt again.
2. Physical Pain Can Distract Us From Emotional Pain
This correlation only works one way. Many people practice self-harm (cutting, skin-picking, etc.) to distract themselves from their emotional pain. Some people would rather have physical pain than emotional pain.
3. Physical Pain Evokes More Empathy
I've written this before. Mental illness is not one of those "casserole" illnesses. People just don't come out and bring food or flowers when you are in the hospital for a mental illness. Many people can't empathize with emotional pain.
4. Emotional Pain 'Echoes'
If you got your heart broken at your favorite restaurant, you may not want to got there again for a long time. If you sprained your ankle on the softball field, you won't care as much about going there. This can be different if the physical injury was emotionally traumatic.
5. Emotional Pain Can Damage Our Long-Term Mental Health
Physical pain has to be pretty extreme for it to affect your mental health. A painful rejection can lead to avoidance.
I have never had a panic attack, but I get crying, sobbing anxiety/depression attacks. It is painful. It's a type of pain that is nearly impossible to describe. It's like your brain is betraying you. This article talks about hiding anxiety; they say that bottling it up makes it worse. Does it work for depression?
The feelings may be different with depression, but there are some similar qualities. Most of us will hide it when we are in public. If you say, "How are you?" We will say something simple, such as "fine."
We may take extra time trying to not "look depressed." Depression is not just sadness. It can cause numb feelings, worthlessness, hopelessness, and others.
These thought that seem foreign keep floating around in your brain. It's like the static on a radio. We just have to fight it and try not to listen when depression wants to take us down.
There are physical effects with it as well: exhaustion, irritability, tearfulness, and others.
In Arizona, a teenager, Mariam Abdullah, who was being held in solitary confinement at Perryville Prison took her own life. The Department of Corrections notified the prison about her and her condition.
She was serving a three-year sentence for armed robbery. She was found hanging by a bed sheet in her cell.
The Prison Law Office Attorney, Corene Hendrick, said:
"[Abdullah] is not receiving the required programming, unstructured out-of-cell time and mental health services required for adult SMI prisoners housed in max custody. She reports submitting multiple [health needs request forms] asking to speak to mental health staff, and making verbal requests to staff, but the only contacts she is receiving are quick cell-front checks. During our interview, she reported that she experiences auditory and visual hallucinations."
The prison wasn't providing her with any treatment. She was supposed to be allowed to have exercise everyday. She was also supposed to be allowed to speak to a mental health professional.
With the shortages of psychiatrists and hospital beds, many mental health patients are in prison. It is just not a good place for someone who is in an unstable state. Many prisons use the solitary confinement cell to keep the mentally ill patients away from the other inmates.
Here's a few statistics:
Here are a few common myths about mentally ill people debunked:
1. People With Mental Illnesses Are Violent
We have been hearing this pile of horseshit for years. Republicans seem to always think about mental illness when a shooting happens. We are actually more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.
2. People who have mental illnesses don't look happy.
We don't all wear our mental illnesses on our faces. Many of us get very good at acting happy. People don't always want to hear our pain. We all get plenty of practice hiding our pain from our loved ones.
3. We are at fault for our conditions.
Don't let anyone tell you that. This is like blaming a diabetic for their pancreas not working. Our brain chemicals are fucked up. Trust me; if we could make it all stop, we would.
4. We all need medication.
Many of us do need medication at some point, but not everyone needs them. Some people only need them for a short period of time.
5. We all keep it to ourselves.
Many people (myself included) are more open about it than others. Many celebrities talk about it openly. It is your illness; you can talk about it as much as you want to. It is your personal health information.