Heather McCready, experienced days filled with “desperate sadness and intense darkness” and was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder and then hospitalized for mania and suicidal depression. Ms. McCready’s voyage through mental illness deprived her of her creative abilities for six years. Finally, after all medicines failed, she underwent electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and now enjoys fewer dark days.
There are about as many men with bipolar disorder as there are women. But is living with bipolar disorder essentially the same for men as it is for women? And what about the relationship between race and mental illness? Though the illness is the same, gender and race may shape life with bipolar disorder in profound ways that most of us have never even considered.
Kate White writes about what living with anxiety is like. Natasha Tracy shares her experiences with bipolar disorder. New HealthyPlace blogger Jack Smith writes about life with depression. And last year Rachel McCarthy James joined us on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show to discuss what living with OCD is like for her. But Craig Ludvigsen can tell us what it’s like to have all of those disorders. It’s called psychiatric comorbidity – the presence of more than one mental illness in one individual at the same time – and it can be incapacitating.
Some people who find themselves dealing with a mental illness or the illness of a loved one eventually come to a point where they want to pitch in and help the mental health community. Mental health advocacy can feel like a natural progression to some and to others it is surprising or unexpected. No matter how it comes about, it is always remarkable when a person utilizes their challenges in life, like mental illness, to do good in the world. Our guest, Shannon Flynn, does just that as a mental health advocate.
As one of many people living with a depressive illness, I can attest to the crippling nature of depression. But I’m fortunate to have found a depression treatment that works well for me. While I’ve yet to find a medication or lifestyle change that eradicates major depression or dysthymia from my life altogether, there are drug treatments and lifestyle choices that together provide measurable relief – enough to make a profound difference. Others are not so lucky. Some people have tried medication after medication and have yet to find anything that markedly eases their depression symptoms. These people are living with treatment-resistant depression. What can they do?
Finding a Depression Treatment that Works
We were very fortunate to have Dr. Ronald R. Fieve as our guest last week on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show. Dr. Fieve is an internationally renowned Clinical Psychopharmacologist and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. His expert opinion is sought world-wide by patients and colleagues in the areas of Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders, Clinical Depression, Anxiety and Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD/ADHD). He is a pioneer in depression treatment and the author of 4 books including Moodswing and Bipolar Breakthrough. He graciously agreed to talk with us and share his insights on what treatment-resistant depression is and how to find a depression treatment that works.
Dr. Fieve prides himself on having extensive training, long-term experience, and an empathetic approach to treating his patients. He has helped thousands of patients gain freedom from clinical depression, bipolar illness and their chronic treatment-resistant forms, enabling them to live normal lives to the fullest.
Video on Depression Treatment
Watch the video interview with Dr. Fieve on Treating Difficult Depression and learn about the various depression treatments available, what it takes to treat depression effectively, and what to do about treatment-resistant depression. For more information on Dr. Fieve and the services he offers, visit his website at http://www.fieve.com/.
You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.
Share Your Depression Treatment Experiences
Are you struggling with treatment-resistant depression? Have you found a depression treatment that works for you? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.
As someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I’m well aware of the toll living with a mental illness takes on relationships, jobs, and self-esteem. I struggle with things that come easily to many, and seemingly benign things can have a profound impact on my ability to manage the very basics of daily living. Even so, I’m incredibly fortunate. The ugly reality is that many people with a severe mental illness aren’t lucky enough to worry about whether or not they’re successful at work, or fret over how their illness affects their loved ones. They’re homeless, destitute, unable to advocate for themselves, and have no one to help them. Some people have paid a very high price for having a mental illness. Mark Ellinger is living with Bipolar Disorder. And he’s one of those people.
Barely Living with Bipolar Disorder
Our guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, Mark Ellinger wasn’t properly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder until 2001. He struggled for years with what he now knows were severe manic episodes and incapacitating depressive crashes. Living with a mental illness he didn’t know he had, Mark coped as best he could, but eventually ended up homeless and near death. He paid a price some of us with severe mental illness never have to.
Between 1985 and 1995 I lost just about all that was dear to me – friends, family, business, home, and possessions – and for the next six years I plumbed the depths of experience and my own psyche, living on the mean streets of San Francisco as a homeless junkie. It damn near killed me and I was hospitalized for ten weeks.
Today Mark is a writer and photographer, no longer homeless or struggling with addiction. Living with Bipolar Disorder isn’t easy for him, but he’s now in treatment and has managed to rebuild his life. Like so many others, he knows firsthand the price severe mental illness can exact on people’s lives. He graciously agreed to share his experience with us.
Video on The High Price of Living with A Mental Illness
Watch our video interview with Mark Ellinger, the High Cost of Mental Illness, as he talks about what living with Bipolar Disorder is like for him, the impact severe mental illness has had on his life, and what he’s learned from living with a mental illness.
You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.
Share Your Experiences
Are you living with Bipolar Disorder or another severe mental illness? Has living with a mental illness ever felt like not really living at all? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the high cost of mental illness. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.
It seems to me that navigating life with a mental illness is a full-time occupation. Not only that, it can feel awfully futile at times – like Sisyphus ceaselessly rolling his rock up a mountain only to watch it tumble back down again. Employed or not, the 2 million plus Americans with bipolar disorder are certainly working. Marked by shifts between dramatically high and low moods, bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric condition that can be fatal, particularly during depressive episodes. I suspect that managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder is a job in and of itself.
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms And Job Performance
But earning a paycheck is a source of pride for many people. A sense of accomplishment can be comforting and motivating, perhaps most notably for people who struggle with mental health conditions. It’s a special kind of defeat when mental illness stands in the way of employment, and bipolar disorder does exactly that for many people. Others are able to function and even thrive on the job despite the symptoms of bipolar disorder. How do they do it?
Peter Zawistowski is a veteran entrepreneur, part-time television engineer, and writer. He’s also diagnosed with bipolar II. Mr. Zawistowski shares his insights as the author of the Work and Bipolar or Depression blog here at HealthyPlace.
In the blog, Peter discusses how his mental illness doesn’t bar him from the working world. He discusses the challenges of managing his bipolar disorder symptoms and shares with us some of what has been most helpful for him in the workplace. Visit the blog and see what tips can help you cope with bipolar disorder in the workplace.
The Stigma of Bipolar in the Workplace: Yes, Of Course ‘We’ Work
I’m reading the Bipolar Vida blog, and wondering “how much can one person take?” Cristina, admittedly, had a bad childhood which, she says, probably triggered the bipolar disorder she now lives with.
In the months since she started her bipolar blog here at HealthyPlace.com, Cristina has endured depressive episodes, hypomania, and everything else bipolar disorder can bring your way. Yet, in almost every blog post, she mentions that she’s doing everything she can to keep her bipolar recovery on track.
I’ve often pondered the subject of what it’s like inside your mind, living with bipolar disorder or some other serious mental illness. You know your brain is sick, but due to the limits of present day science and what your sick mind is doing to you, there’s only so much that you can do to fix it. So you’re left to live with whatever it delivers that moment, that day. It’s not a pretty image.
Glamorizing Bipolar Disorder
If you’ve been around the web, I’m sure you’ve seen pages about celebrities with bipolar disorder. We have our own list of bipolar celebrities. Maybe this is an attempt to minimize or normalize bipolar disorder; or make it cool. “Look, everyone has it!”
Does it make it any easier to face the ravages of mania and depression on a daily basis? I’m guessing not.
“Sick would still be sick. Nothing gets you better except getting better. Being better.
In bipolar disorder, this is being “in remission”. You never get to be not bipolar. You get remission from illness. For a while you’re “better”. You remit. Until you don’t.”
“And I don’t.”
Join us Wednesday, June 9, at 3p CT, 4 EST for the live show and a look inside the bipolar mind of Natasha Tracy. As always, you can ask our guest your personal questions.
From Natasha Tracy
I discovered I was bipolar like all good nerds do – by doing research on the internet. It was December 1998 and the only evidence of the discovery was a ream of paper full of facts on bipolar disorder, and an empty tissue box.
From that very moment, I knew it was “bad” to be bipolar. I knew this because I had read that there was no cure, and it was a lifetime ailment. I knew this because I knew I would be on medication for the rest of my life. I knew this because every site proclaimed “with treatment people with bipolar disorder can lead normal, healthy lives”. This is only ever written because it is in question. It is only ever written because many of us don’t.
And from that very moment, I started feeling bad about having bipolar disorder. I felt bad I had allowed myself to get it. I felt bad that I couldn’t think my way out of it. I felt bad that no matter what I did, bipolar disorder was still there.
In short, I thought all the things that day that people still preconceive today; and it is these thoughts and their implications that make it frightening to publicly be bipolar. It is the idea that I have done something wrong to get it, and that I am bad because of it. It is the idea that I could change if I wanted to, but that I just don’t want it enough. It is the idea that I’m crazy, unpredictable, untrustworthy, and likely to go off my meds and run wild at any moment.
And I know that being publicly bipolar is career suicide. I know that if you have two candidates in front of you, you never pick the one with a mental illness. I know that even getting into a relationship is hard because people are afraid of what I might do to them. I know that many people don’t approve of, or like me, just because I have this disorder and because it is treated with medication they deem to be “poison”. I know that in the eyes of some, I will always be crazy, and that will always be unacceptable.
Share Your Experiences on the Bipolar Mind
What is it really like living with Bipolar Disorder? Glamorous or not? 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.
After June 15, 2010, can watch our interview with Natasha Tracy on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show homepage by clicking the on-demand button on the player. The show is titled “Inside the Bipolar Mind of Natasha Tracy.”