Mental Health Advocacy & Congress

This post will be short for now.  I will update you all later today.

First, I would like to thank everyone who has submitted their personal stories for my Congressional project.  Today’s the day!!! I will be meeting (on the phone) with a couple of Congressional members to share your stories, as well as my own.  Today, your voices will be heard.  It’s not the DC round table discussion that I had hoped for, but it is a start and I believe it’s a good start.

There have been scheduling conflicts that have delayed these meetings and have made it so that they are over the phone instead of in person, but that’s alright.  It’s still a meeting with a congressional member and they’re willing to listen.  I’m happy.  I will let you all know tonight how everything goes.  🙂  And thank you again, without your support, I couldn’t have done this.  We Matter!

Now For Something Completely Different

You got it!  This post has nothing to do with Bipolar Disorder this time.  I may be a little late to the game as I’m not on social media 24/7 and I don’t have TV.  I just caught wind of this “controversy” over Starbuck’s red coffee cups?!  As Nell Carter would say, “Gimme a break!”  Seriously America?  Is this what we’re offended by now?  Is it any wonder that we are a laughing-stock across the world?  We are no longer the “great nation” that other countries look up too.  Now some would argue that it is due to our President…I don’t think so.  Well, at least not entirely.  I mean look around you.  We are being offended by a cup now.  What were we offended by last week?  Oh I can’t remember, but I can assure you it probably wasn’t all that important.  It seems these days we have become very thinned skinned when it comes to just about anything.

Let’s get back to “Cup-gate 2015”.  Now people are raising a battle cry that when you go into Starbuck’s.  They want you to tell the barista your name is “Merry Christmas”, since it’s company policy not to say that.  Really?  America is not made up of one religion.  I see nothing wrong with a polite company policy of Happy Holidays.  It covers all of the bases.  If you choose to respond with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Chanuka” or “Joyous Kwanza” in return, that is your right.  Don’t force everyone else to do the same.  They may not celebrate the same as you…or at all.

Being offended by such trivial matters, I feel are first world problems.  There are so many other concerns that need and deserve our energy and attention:  homelessness, Syrian refugees, fixing the education system in America, relief efforts for disaster areas, grandparents raising grandchildren, even just helping your neighbor, friend, someone in the store next to you.  My point is this:  There is a world outside of us and we need to pay attention to it.  I’m not talking just donating money.  Look to your own community and see what you can do.  I say start at home and branch out.  Yes we do need to fix the problems in our own country, BUT we cannot turn a blind eye to the world.  I feel we are obligated to help our fellow human beings despite borders.

When I look at helping (whether it’s donating money or time), I really investigate the organization.  I look at how much of each dollar actually goes to the cause compared to how much goes to administrative costs.  In the decades that I’ve been doing this, I have found that the local charities are more reliable (and transparent) meaning that usually 80% – 90% will go directly to the cause.  With your national organizations, you’re looking at 20%-40% on average.  Yes, there are some exceptions.  However, I do a lot work with overseas charities as well.  It’s just a preference of mine, but same guidelines apply.   Just do your research.  If you’re going to give your hard-earned money, make sure it goes to the organization that will handle it honestly and will do the most good with it.

Embrace Bipolar

I’ve been writing this blog from the perspective of the positive side of Bipolar Disorder, at least that was my intention.  There were some times that it was difficult to do.  I feel I have grown  in the past year and a half since the start of this blog.  It hasn’t always been easy to see the advantage of having Bipolar Disorder especially when I’m in the middle of an episode.  I can assure you, though, there is…at least from my perspective, a definite advantage.

Let me start with a poem that my doctor read to me during our last session.  It’s called “The Guest House” by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

I found this poem so profound.  It really helped me put together all the work I’ve been doing to try to understand the different levels of mania and depression and how to function within them.  I have been working so hard to not only accept these states, but welcome them.  Now, let me explain that last part.  By welcoming the states, I am able to see the value and advantage in each state.  For instance, I’ll start with mania (that’s usually the easiest one).  When I’m in a manic state, but still in control (and not just in my head, others around can see the controlled state) I am able to be quite productive in work, house work, advocacy work, volunteer work, etc.  I, however, don’t stay in this state too long.  I am an ultra rapid cycler and if I don’t watch it, I can cycle out of control rather quickly.  When I’m in a depressive state, I tend to have more empathy for people.  I may not always be nice depending on the degree of depression, but this is when I tend to do more service oriented tasks.  By helping others, it helps to take my mind off of the depression.  This is when I will start more volunteer projects and usually just on my own…not with organizations.

I’m not saying these things to advocate that you should actively stay in either of your states.  I can just appreciate what I learn from each one.  I do learn something each time.  This goes right along with my “Live life with no regrets” motto.  If I learn from each state, how can I regret having been through it?  The advice my doctor gave me for the next time I’m in either mania or depression is to simply say “hello”.  Actually address it and welcome it.  By doing so, I take its power away and empower myself.  I like that.  The whole idea of the online course I’ve been taking (at least for me) is to empower myself.  To not live in fear of my illness.  To not be at the mercy of my illness.  I have by no means perfected the skills yet, but I practice every day. By practicing every day, I grow stronger every day.

This strength I gain means the world to me.  It spills over into other aspects of my life.  Once you can see the value and advantage in something that was once so scary and stigmatizing, it’s no longer stigmatizing to you.  Does that make sense?  For me, that is very empowering.

Emotional Customer Service – The Plagued Parent

Sometimes we get lost, our bearings go askew. The compass in our hearts wobbles as it seeks some emotional equivalent of the magnetic north. As the needle wavers we waver with it wondering how we could have gotten here. How is it, we think, that I misjudged the point of reference, so wrong about the thing …

Source: Emotional Customer Service – The Plagued Parent