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bipolar Dysfunctional mental illness parenting Recovery schizoaffective Therapy trauma

Dysfunction Junction

My father had an undiagnosed mental illness, probably bipolar, but I did not know that at the time. He was just a moody, raging, jerk. People knew but no one wants to interfere. I remember we had an uncle who was physically abusive to his kids, maybe his wife, I don’t know. Everyone knew about it but nothing was done. We are all grown with families of our own now and the perps have died.

My mother is passive and anxious. She did not want to disturb anything. She would tell us our father was just joking and he is wonderful when he would say or do hurtful things.

My dad has passed and can’t hurt me anymore. My mom and I have a strained relationship. I don’t want to put any hope into it growing into more. But, we can be amicable and she does not upset me so much.

And, I had an older brother who had a psychotic disorder, maybe schizoaffective like me, but my dad did not believe in psychiatry so the only help he got was when he got picked up by the police for observation. He would stop any meds as soon as he got home. Nothing changed. He died young at 26. I don’t know if it was an accident or suicide. He fell at a waterfall. But, I felt I had lost my brother years before, when he first got sick.

Everyone else in my family is over it all. I don’t know if I should let it go or if I could heal.

I was watching a YouTube on dysfunctional “tricky” families and childhood ptsd. https://youtu.be/EBpF8sWycQQ

I could answer yes to almost everything and a few maybe’s. He suggests working with a therapist.

I have a new therapist. I don’t know what to work on. Day to day, things are okay. I kind of went through my family history with her last time.

Or should I be done with therapy? I am pretty stable and see a psychiatrist. Things in my day to day life are fine. My past is a mess, but maybe I should just leave it there. My father discouraged me from going to therapy. “You talk about the past and it just makes people sad.” I thought he was being ignorant. Of course, it is more than that. But, did he have a point?

I plan to ask my therapist next time I see her if she thinks I even need it.

Categories
alphabet game quiet Uncategorized

Quiet

I like places that are peaceful and quiet. I would rather be alone than at a party.

When I was younger, I would barely speak. They called me shy. I have social anxiety. Now, I can speak in front of groups, although I still shake, but it took a lot of work. I am typically a bundle of nerves. I have a number of coping skills. They all help a little, and it adds up.

I have a list of different coping methods here:

https://lorib.blog/2017/03/20/coping-with-schizoaffective-disorder/

Categories
alcoholism hams SMART Uncategorized

Ambivalence about alcohol and HAMS

I am in a stage of ambivalence about drinking. I don’t know if I want to be 100% sober, but I don’t want to have the negatives from alcohol.

I did a cost benefit analysis, but still am unsure.

Health-wise, mental stability-wise, employment-wise I should at least only drink in moderation.

The main things I enjoy about alcohol: the way I feel, not as inhibited, something to do when bored and reduces my anxiety.

The things I don’t like are: getting sick, hangovers, health effects (mental and physical)

I went to a SMART Recovery meeting not long ago. If you don’t know what that is, it is on-line and in- person support for problem drinking. It is different from AA in many ways, but it is a sobriety program. At the end of the meeting I picked up brochures. One was on another support organization called HAMS. (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation support.)

There are very few online HAMS meetings, but they have a website with information and a forum. Members call themselves HAMSters. They don’t have steps but they have elements. They are suggestions on how to proceed but you don’t need to do them in order or do all. The first element was to make a cost benefit, pros/cons of using and pros/cons of not using. I have done them before, but did it again. I carry it around with me in case I forget why I want to drink less (or not at all).

The next element is to make a plan. Mine keeps evolving. I don’t drink and drive, which I want to continue. This was not an issue in the past, but I went to some meetup group meetings that included alcohol. So, if I go to those, I need to get a ride or stay sober. I know I want to reduce the amount I drink to a level where I won’t get a hangover. I was drinking a glass that held about 3 shots, which I have reduced to 2 and stick with one glass.

I can find things to do, other than drinking when bored, but I have to find a better way to deal with strong emotions. People around me have a bad day and get irritable. Then I react by becoming an anxious mess and drink to deal with the feeling. Or, I go to one of those meetups and get so nervous. Or, I had a long day and want to unwind.

So, here I am trying to decide what I want to do.

Categories
alcoholism CBT distorted thinking Uncategorized urge

Distorted Thinking and Urges for Alcohol

 

Originally posted in Psych Central

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/05/distorted-thinking-and-urges-for-alcohol/

thinker

I have abstained from drinking alcohol for 6 months. Day to day, I rarely think about it. I go to weekly meetings and have tools. But, occasionally I get tempted. I went to a restaurant where the drinks were flowing and they looked good. But, I just looked.

Then, I got an annual review at work. It was mostly good, but I focused on the negative comments. It upset me and I felt sad. I came home and I had a strong desire to have a drink to numb my emotions. But, I did something else. I distracted myself. My son had a concert and then I kept myself busy until I fell asleep. I made it to another day.

I went to my group and we did a cognitive therapy sheet. In this sheet, you look for the activating event, the belief(s) (distorted, irrational), consequence of that belief. Then you dispute the belief to come up with more effective ways of thinking, and better emotional consequences.

The activating event was the review and the consequence was the urge. I had all kinds of distorted thoughts. The main one I came up with was that it was “all” bad. The members helped me come up with more. Then we disputed the thoughts and came up with something more balanced. I thought the negative comments are things I can work on. Even if I don’t believe the new thought 100%, it helps.. And, I am not as anxious, sad, moody now.

You don’t have to have a mental illness to have distorted thinking. Anyone can. Based on the work of Aaron Beck, David Burns wrote about 10 types of cognitive distortions in his book “Feeling Good- The New Mood Therapy”1

The types of distortions he lists are:

All-or-nothing or black-or-white thinking. This is one thing I was doing where since part of the review was bad, it was all bad
.
Overgeneralization- If it happened once it will repeat itself.

Mental filter– This is another thing I was doing, where I was only seeing the negative and not seeing the positive

Disqualifying the positive– dismissing compliments, praise

Jumping to conclusions by Mind Reading or Fortune Telling

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization

Emotional Reasoning– Feelings are not facts

Should Statements

Labeling- Mislabeling or name calling

Personalization– attributing the blame to yourself when it is not all yours

By working through the Activating event, Belief, Consequence, Dispute Belief, effective ways of thinking and better emotional consequence, you can learn to deal with these distorted thoughts. They can help not only with urges but with anxiety, depression and just looking at things in a more balanced fashion.

1 “Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy” by David Burns

2 photo credit

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Categories
bipolar Coping skills life lessons schizoaffective Uncategorized

Trusting Your Moods With Schizoaffective Disorder

youth-570881_1280

First published Psych Central

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/03/trusting-your-moods-with-schizoaffective-disorder/

I have a thought and mood disorder called schizoaffective disorder. It is similar to bipolar disorder, in that I have mood swings with periods of mania and depression.

When I was treated for my first severe manic episode I was heavily sedated and slowly titrated down on the medications. When I got to a dosage where I was no longer sedated, and my symptoms were under control, I started to feel okay, good even.

 

It scared me. “Would I feel too good?” I voiced my concerns to my psychiatrist and he reminded me I usually have other symptoms that precede mania. I think most people do.

You could go through a list of symptoms and see which ones are typical for you that would be noticeable.

Do you spend a lot of money?

Are you impulsive?

Do you talk fast?

Do you start lots of projects?

A lot of people monitor their sleep. I often have trouble with insomnia, so that isn’t a particularly good indicator for me. One thing is that I get irritable. I am usually pretty mellow, so if I start snapping at people that is a good sign that something is off. My psychiatrist also told me if people are looking at me strangely that is a warning sign. I am not sure if he meant I do strange things or I get paranoid, which I do, and get suspicious.

Isn’t everyone entitled to an off day, though? Sometimes when I am upset at someone, it is for a good reason. A lot of people imagine others think poorly of them, once in a while.

It would help to have someone I trust, tell me if I didn’t seem right. I have trouble with trust, though, when I am symptomatic. I think everyone else has the problem and I am fine. I am working on that, because I know it is important. Otherwise, you can have a great list of warning signs, but deny them. “I’m not talking fast, you are just listening slowly”.

Once you notice these warning signs, what do you do? That is a million dollar question.

This is where it is best to consult with your doctor and find out when they want you to contact them.

It is good to catch things early, but you don’t want to be worrying every time you have a bad, or good, day.

Categories
anxiety bipolar Coping skills life lessons mental illness psychosis schizoaffective

Coping With Schizoaffective Disorder

Originally published Psych Central
https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/03/coping-with-my-mental-health-symptoms/

With schizoaffective disorder and social anxiety, I have a number of different types of symptoms to cope with.

For me, psychotic symptoms can be the hardest to deal with. The first thing I turn to is medication. I have tried a few of the newer atypical anti-psychotics and fortunately, I respond well. It takes more than medication alone, though.

Some things that can help people cope with psychotic symptoms:

• Help from others– I have issues with fatigue and motivation. If someone can help me with chores: childcare, housecleaning, cooking it is a big relief.
• Music– Listening to music can help drown out voices.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is a type of therapy based on moving from distorted thinking to more rational thinking. It can be used to treat people with psychotic symptoms, but anyone can have distorted thinking.
• Asking– If I trust someone I can ask them to help me determine what is real.
• Acting “As If” – I can act like consensus reality (what everyone else believes) is real. The longer I do the more I start to believe it.
• Psychiatric Service Dogs– Dogs can be trained to perform specific functions that help with your disability.
• Technology– Apps like snapchat can be used to verify that what you are seeing is real.

My mood symptoms are varied. I rarely am euphoric. I am more typically irritable and paranoid. Or sad and anhedonic. But, I can be reckless and impulsive. Some things that help me with different mood symptoms. (There is overlap with the different coping skills):

• Support groups – A number of organizations have support groups for people with mental health conditions. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI) are two national organizationsOkay.
• CBT– like I mentioned above this is a type of therapy that helps with distorted thinking. Distorted thinking can lead to depression and CBT can help your mood.
• Acting against Impulse– This is a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) technique. If your first impulse is to do something reckless, push yourself to do the opposite.
• Talk Therapy– This goes for all the sections, but if I am irritated at something specific my therapist can help me put it in perspective.

For now, I have my psychotic symptoms pretty well under control and my depressions are mild. I haven’t been manic in years. I am still plagued by anxiety. Here are some of my anxiety coping skills:

• Breathe– I take a deep breath and let it out slowly to help me calm down.
• Visualization– I picture an event coming up, going well and I don’t get so nervous about it.
• Routine– I take my medications and go to bed, wake up at the same time, plan for change ahead of time.
• Journaling– getting my thoughts out helps me to organize them and take some of the emotion out.
• Calling someone-talking to a friend helps me to not feel alone.
• Avoiding over-stimulation– Sometimes I just need quiet time. A big crowded place is too busy for me.
• Breaking Tasks into Pieces-If I try to take on a project all at once I freeze, but if I break it up into more manageable pieces I can get it done.
• Socialize- I tend to isolate which isn’t healthy so if I am invited out, I push myself to go. I usually have at least an okay time, it is just getting out the door.