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ADDaboy! #4 – Tips to Break the ADHD Insomnia Chain

If you struggle with ADHD and insomnia, then you may be able to relate to my pain. I’m a raving night zombie, but I’ve come up with a plan to help me break the chain. Now, if only I would follow it.

ADDaboy! #4 – Tips to Break the ADHD Insomnia Chain

If you struggle with ADHD and insomnia, then you may be able to relate to my pain. I’m a raving night zombie, but I’ve come up with a plan to help me break the chain. Now, if only I would follow it.

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Bipolar Is Unfair

Bipolar Is Unfair

When most of us were young we learned that life isn’t fair. Yes, that boy got a bigger slice of cake than you. Yes, that girl gets better grades than you even though she doesn’t study. Yes, that’s boy’s imaginary friend’s clothes are nicer than yours. Life isn’t fair.

But when I was diagnosed with bipolar at 20, my definition of “unfair” had to be reviewed.

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ADHD Stigma: The New Four Letter Word

Whatever I wrote apparently had the four letter word “ADHD” in it. It alarmed him so much that he deleted the wall posting…He hadn’t “come out” with his ADHD yet.

ADHD Stigma: The New Four Letter Word

Maybe because I was once diagnosed with Minimal Brain Dysfunction, I don’t find the newer label of ADHD so bad. MBD sounds like something the cast of Monty Python and the Flying Circus came up with. ADHD on the other hand sounds somewhat more descriptive and less post lobotomy-ish. This is why I was so surprised to encounter somebody yesterday so embarrassed by the ADHD label, they censored me.

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Summer Care for the Mentally Ill Child

Summer Care for the Mentally Ill Child

It’s Summertime, and the livin’s…easy?

Maybe not. It used to be, until I became the parent of a school-aged “MI” child.

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Parenting and Eating Disorders: When To Let Go

Parenting and Eating Disorders: When To Let Go

Recognizing When The Patient – Or the Team – Isn’t In Control

Because I’m so big on getting parents to get engaged and be empowered to support an eating disorder patient to full recovery, it is hard to talk about the other side of this: letting go. But that is part of the picture, too.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder: I’m Not Sybil

Dissociative Identity Disorder: I’m Not Sybil

Media images can be very powerful. When we see something, especially when it’s “based on a true story,” our mind removes the words “based on a” and we are left with “true story;” as if what we are seeing on the screen is the absolute truth. In fact, the “based on” means it’s an adaptation of a story with a lot of “Hollywood” thrown in to keep you interested.

I mention this because, for many of us, the movie Sybil is the defining moment of our understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). The movie came out in 1976 and it was the first time that Americans got to see Dissociative Identity Disorder in action. It was bizarre, frightening and captivating, all of which made the movie very memorable. But was it a true story?

Our guest, Holly Gray, author of the Dissociative Living blog on HealthyPlace, says it’s not an accurate portrayal of her life. Diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Holly talks about living with DID, the difficulty of accepting the DID diagnosis, treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder and what her goal is in therapy, and what she calls “the Sybil myth.”

(Holly Gray appeared on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on July 29, 2010. You can watch the interview “on-demand.”)

The Sybil Myth (from Holly Gray)

It took me five years to come to a place of acceptance around my Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis. A certain amount of wrangling with such life-changing news is par for the course. Some of it, however, could have been avoided if it weren’t for what I call the Sybil Myth.

I have not read Sybil. I have not seen either of the movies of the same name. I cannot speak to the content of the book or the movies. But I can speak to their legacy.

In my experience, when most people think of multiple personalities, they think of Sybil. Or, more specifically, the character created to represent Shirley Ardell Mason, a real woman treated for DID. That character clearly left readers and viewers with the distinct impression that people with DID are hysterical, unstable and erratic. The controversy surrounding the book helped solidify and further that impression by adding a new layer, one of possible deceit. Did Mason truly have multiple personalities? Or was she a hysterical woman manifesting the suggestions and expectations of her therapist?

Fairly quickly, DID found its place in popular culture as a bizarre and frightening phenomenon that may or may not be real at all. And the person that has it? Tragic, fascinating anomaly at best; deranged, dangerous hysteric at worst.

I cannot say for sure, but I doubt that the way DID manifests itself in Sybil is wholly inaccurate. I admit that there have been plenty of moments in my life that were ripe for reality television infamy. If those moments were all anyone ever saw, the lasting impression would be a disturbing one. If properly edited, my life would look crazy. I would look crazy.

I don’t know what Mason was really like; but I do know that anyone’s life can be whittled and edited down to its most dramatic hours. Whatever the truth is or isn’t about her, the name Sybil has become synonymous in the general population with histrionic instability and irregular, unpredictable behavior. But most people with DID live far more subtle lives than that. Those of us with DID, though our experiences and struggles are often unique, are just human beings with human frailties, human faults. The ways in which we are normal outnumber the ways in which we are not. Most of us aren’t Sybil. I am not Sybil. I suspect even Shirley Ardell Mason was not Sybil.

Share Your Experiences With Dissociative Identity Disorder

What’s life like with DID? Do you feel stigmatized by the book-movie Sybil? or do you feel Sybil is an accurate portrayal of what it’s like living with Dissociative Identity Disorder? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the issue. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

You can watch our interview with Holly Gray on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show homepage by clicking the on-demand button on the player. The show is titled “Dissociative Identity Disorder: I’m Not Sybil.”

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The Power of Sound and Its Affects On Our Moods and Health

Eat well. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. These are the mantras ingrained in us to stay healthy. But one of the things that we tend to overlook is the power of sound and how it can affect our mood and well-being. Everyday we are surrounded by noisy traffic, snippets of conversation from chattering people, and music. Think about how irritating the sound of nails scratching a chalkboard is; then think about the sound of birds chirping. What a difference they make in our mood (unless of course you hate birds).

The Power of Sound and Its Affects On Our Moods and Health

Eat well. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. These are the mantras ingrained in us to stay healthy. But one of the things that we tend to overlook is the power of sound and how it can affect our mood and well-being. Everyday, we are surrounded by noisy traffic, snippets of conversation from chattering people, and music. Think about how irritating the sound of nails scratching a chalkboard is; then think about the sound of birds chirping. What a difference they make in our mood (unless, of course, you hate birds).

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ADHD and Forgetting to Eat: How Did I Do?

Last week I set a goal to target one bad ADHD habit (forgetting to eat) and set so many timers against it that the odds of success would be in my favor. Let’s see how I did.

ADHD and Forgetting to Eat: How Did I Do?

Last week, I set a goal to target one bad ADHD habit and set so many timers against it that the odds of success would be in my favor. Let’s see how I did.

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Identifying Children as “Mentally Ill”

Identifying Children as “Mentally Ill”

As I consider posts for this blog, I keep asking myself, what do I call our kids? I’ve never been one to adhere strictly to politically correct terms, but I do want a term which accurately identifies our children as a specific subset.

Bob’s “official” diagnoses are early onset bipolar disorder and ADHD.  I don’t like to say he’s “bipolar” because I don’t think of him that way—he is not bipolar, he is a kid who has a lot of positive qualities and also has bipolar disorder. That said, I’m lazy. It’s admittedly easier to just say “my kid is bipolar.” Which omits the ADHD part entirely, but “my kid has bipolar disorder and ADHD” just takes too much air for me.

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How to Talk to a Doctor About Your Mental Illness

How to Talk to a Doctor About Your Mental Illness

OK, I admit it, I don’t like doctors. At all. In fact, one might suggest I downright hate them. I hate going to their appointments, I hate being in their waiting room and I hate talking to them.

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