Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!!! Where has the year gone? Its hard to believe how fast this year has flown bye. Before we know it, it will be next year (2015). Enough of how fast this year has gone by.

Now back to Halloween. This evening my boyfriend and I are having a get together with a few friends. We decided have a potluck style get together and watch movies to the wee hours of the night because it just seems more intimate. Of course we are handing out candy. Yes, we still are at 9:47pm (pacific time). As I am blogging, my boyfriend, friends and myself are watching the movie Addams Family Values. After the current movie is over with we will then watch Beetlejuice. I love the movie Beetlejuice. After Beetlejuice are going to watch all the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. Told ya we would be watching movies well into the wee hours of the morning. My boyfriend and I thought it would be nice to have a few friends over to stay the night and watch movies. My boyfriend has plenty of room in place to have people crash and sleep if and when they get tired. The best part of having close friends over is not only the nice company but the food. Oh how I love food.

If it wasn’t for me choosing to be in recovery from my mental illness I would not be able to help host this get together. My recovery means the world to me. In all honesty, watching movies is a skill or a tool I use to help me. I am grateful that I am with a handful of my closest friends and my boyfriend watching movies because my PTSD symptoms are acting up. I’m learning that it’s a good thing that I have such an amazing natural support system. They help me out when I am struggling even if they may not realize it. Many people who struggle with a mental illness don’t have very many people in their lives to help them get through their struggles.

I should get going because we are about to finish Addams Family Values and then watch Beetlejuice. I am hoping that I will start blogging more. I have just been extremely busy with my new job as well as my new volunteer job and just life in general. I hope you all have a good night. Happy Halloween. Peace Out.

Social Media, Boyfriend, & Other Stuff

I know it has been a week since I last blogged. I do have a good excuse that I am wanting to tell you at a later time. I am still debating whether or not that later time will be sometime in this particular post or not. I am still trying to get adjusted to the idea of why I haven’t blogged in a week even though I did post twice since finding out the good news. I am aware that not blogging for a week hinders me from getting potential readers and/or followers.

When it come to getting more followers and/or readers I have decided to create a twitter account. I didn’t realize that you could create a twitter account if you don’t have a smart (cell) phone. The cell phone I have is a basic tough phone or what I call a dumb dumb phone. I am hoping that starting a twitter account will help increase my blog traffic. If you want to connect with me on twitter you can at @gertiesjourney.

Since I am on the topic of social media I might as well as tell you I am on Facebook as well. You can friend me on it Facebook if you want to at Gerties Journey. In fact I started that account so my followers and regular reader could have another way to connect with me.

Connection with people is a good thing especially when it comes to in person connection. My boyfriend and I have been spending the day with each other. In fact we will be spending the rest of the weekend together because once Monday morning comes around we wont be able to see each other till Tuesday evening because of our jobs. My boyfriend and I have pretty much stayed in most of the day due to yucky, blustery weather. We did go for a walk when it wasn’t so yucky and blustery out. As I mentioned we have spent most of today indoors. My boyfriend and I spent the day watching soccer (football) as well as the World Series.  My boyfriend and of course had to keep warm by the fire when the lights went out for a few hours. While keeping warm by the fire we not only worked on a jigsaw puzzle but had some intimate moments. In fact it was an intense intimate moment. When the electricity came back on we watch a the movie Its Kind Of A Funny Story. In fact the movie is one of my favorite movies. It’s absolutely hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, my boyfriend and I want to watch Saturday Night Live (SNL). Yes, that means I am going to end this blog for now because SNL is now on. Well, have good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Peace Out everyone!!!!

100th Blog

Writing this particular blog is a major milestone; a milestone in the fact that it is my 100th blog. Blogging on the subject of Mental Illness hasn’t been an easy feat. It hasn’t been easy for me to write on the topic of mental illness due to my own struggles with it and the lack of education. I have the lack of education to convey what I desire to tell you in regards to mental illness. Due to my struggles with mental illness I was unable to go to college and now it’s the lack of funds that I am unable to attend college. On the flip side, I am able to convey how one feels as well as how one deals when one struggles with a mental illness. I am however able to convey something on mental illness that and “educated” person cannot because I live with one. Who better to educate others on mental illness than those who struggle with one? Well, maybe those who not only struggle with a mental illness but have an education in field that deals with mental illness.

Dealing with a mental illness is not an easy thing to deal with because of the struggles one must have to endure when it comes to symptoms.  Learning to deal with the symptoms of a mental health diagnosis in a positive way is a start in  the recovery process. Recovery is not only a difficult journey as well as process but a difficult choice. Yes, recovery is a choice, a choice which one must be a willing participant. Of course being in recovery is an effort that others must be included in because going the journey alone just makes the journey not worth the effort to do. Once a person chooses the road to recovery that person will need all the support they can receive.

The support that one receives looks different to everyone’s own recovery. For me and my own recovery my support system is continuing to grow and be more supportive. My support system includes professionals (such as my therapist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, primary care physician, etc.) as well as natural supports (such as my boyfriend, friends, current and past co-workers, selected family members, etc.). If it wasn’t for the continued support of the people I consider my support system, I would not be able to enjoy my life or even be in recovery. Yes, it is choice that I must make and choose to make however without the support I would not be able to continue on the road of recovery.

The point I am trying to make is that one who struggles with a mental illness needs all the positive support they can get especially when they choose to walk in recovery. Choosing recovery is a personal decision not a forced decision. Being forced into recovery (and in most cases treatment) does more harm than good. The last thing we who struggle with mental illness is to be forced to go into treatment. Yes, in some cases it is a good idea to be put into involuntary treatment but in most cases it is NOT a good idea.

My recovery means the world to me. Yes, there might be relapses and bumps in the road but I will have the support of my support network as well as all the skills I have learned throughout the years. If it wasn’t for my recovery I would not have been able to be employed at my previous employer much less get my current job as a consumer aide at a mental health agency. I have worked endlessly to get where I am at and I owe it all to those who have helped me through out the years. It is to those who have helped me through out the years that this blog is dedicated to. If it wasn’t for the help of many people I would have not been able to be posting my 100th blog much less been able to start this blog to share my recovery as well as to educate those who do not have a mental illness. It is my hope that this blog continues to educate people as well as give hope to those who are struggling and that recovery is possible.

I want to thank you for reading and/or following my blog. It means a great deal to me. I hope that with the next hundred blogs that I will able to continue to convey hope and recovery as well as educate on mental illness. Yes, I know I am not a teacher however some of the best educators in my life  were NOT teachers.

I hope to blog again in the next day or so. I am thrilled that I am able to share my life with you as well as be able show people that there is hope and recovery is possible and that people with mental illness are fully capable human beings. Have a good rest of your weekend all. Peace Out and have fun!!!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It’s the end of the work week and I haven’t blogged in nearly a week. I have not only been busy with work but with life in general. I mentioned in my last two blogs that once mental health week was over with, that I would continue educating you on a particular mental health diagnosis. That is what I plan on doing this evening. I plan on educating you on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I have been diagnosed with a mild form of OCD. The information I am about to tell you I got off of the Natation Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

     Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts – unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly appear in a person’s mind. Again and again, the person experiences disturbing thoughts, such as “My hands must be contaminated; I need to wash them”; “I may have left the gas stove on; I need to go check it fast”; I am going to injure my child by accident; I need to be very careful or else something bad will happen.” On one level, he or she fears these thoughts might be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates great anxiety, distress and dysfunction.

     Compulsions are repetitive riturals such as hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding or arranging. An individual repeats these actions many times throughout the day and performing these actions releases anxiety, but only momentarily. People with OCD feel they mush perform these compulsive rituals or something bad will happen to them or their loved ones.

Most people at one time or another will experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with his or her life. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 2 percent of the U.S population, or nearly one out of every 40 people, will be diagnosed with OCD at some point in their lives. The disorder is two or three times more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

OCD is often described as “a disease of doubt.” Individuals living with OCD experience “pathological doubt” because they are unable to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable and what is unlikely to happen.

Who gets OCD?

People from all walks of life can get OCD. It strikes people of all social and ethnic groups and both males and females. Symptoms typically begin in childhood, the teenage years or young adulthood. The sudden appearance of OCD symptoms later in life merits a thorough medical evaluation to ensure that another illness is not the cause of these symptoms.

What causes OCD?

People with OCD can often say “why” they have obsessive thoughts or “why” they behave compulsively, but the thoughts and the behavior continue. A large body of scientific evidence suggest that OCD results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. For years, mental health professionals incorrectly assumed OCD resulted from bad parenting or personality defects. This theory has been disproven over the last few decades. People whose brains are injured sometimes develop OCD, which suggest it is a medical condition. If a placebo pill is given to people who are depressed or who experience panic attacks, nearly 40 percent say they feel better. If a placebo is given to people who experience obsessive-compulsive disorder, only about two percent say they feel better. This also suggest that OCD is a biological condition as opposed to a “personality problem.”

Genetics are thought to be very important in OCD. If you, or your parent or sibling, have OCD, there’s close to a 25 percent chance that another of your immediate family members will have it.

OCD has been found to be connected with dysfunction in certain parts of the brain, can cause the repetitive movements and rigid thinking that effects people with OCD. Successful treatment with medication or behavior therapy changes the activity in these brain regions, which decreases the symptoms of OCD. Two specific chemicals in the brain – a neurotransmitter called serotonin and a hormone called vasopressin – have also been studied by scientist who have found a link between these chemicals and OCD. Researchers believe OCD, anxiety disorders, Tourette’s and eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can be triggered by some of the same chemical changes in the brain.

A world-renowned expert, Judith Rapopart M.D., describes OCD by writing, ” something in the brain is stuck, like a broken record.”

Now that I have educated you on OCD, I hope that you have learned something. I got the above information  from NAMI’s website at nami.org.

I plan on blogging on one mental health diagnosis a week so I can be able to continue to educate others on mental illness. I just want to  lessen the stigma of mental illness. I am going to call it an evening. Peace Out!!

Just A Lazy Sunday

Good Afternoon!!! I decided to hold off on the educational part of my blog for now. Don’t worry I will get back to. Well, as you all know today, is Sunday. Its been a lazy Sunday. In fact its been a good lazy Sunday.

My boyfriend and I have been having a nice relaxing day together. To start of the nice lazy day, I made him breakfast when he got home from work. I made him some bacon and scrambled eggs. After we ate he went to bed to sleep for a few hours since he had a busy shift. While he napped, I read a little. In fact a read “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. I’m really enjoying the book. I also read a Wonder Woman graphic novel. If you have been following or reading my blog for a while, you are aware that I am a huge Wonder Woman fan. When my boyfriend woke up, we ended up having an intimate moment. After our intimate moment we had lunch and worked on a jigsaw puzzle. My boyfriend and I actually worked on the puzzle for a while when we realized that the Seattle Seahawk and Dallas Cowboy football game was on. So we turned it on to watch it. In fact we are still watching it. My boyfriend in a huge Seahawks fan. When it comes to football my boyfriend and I clash. I am a San Francisco 49er fan. I love sports.

Before I get back to my lazy Sunday to finish watching the Seahawk, Cowboy game I want to let you know how having a lazy day can help with ones mental. For me, I know I just need a day to not have to worry about anything or do anything. Everyone needs a mental break from time to time and that’s what today is for me.

I better getting going because the Cowboys just got touch down and field goal with three minutes left of the game. The Cowboys are in the lead and well my boyfriend and I are not happy about that. Well, I should get going to enjoy the rest of the game. Have a good rest of your Sunday and Peace Out!!

Mental Health Araweness Week; Day 7: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) & Recovery

It’s Day 7 of Mental Health Awareness Week. That means it is the last day and I struggled with what I wanted to discuss today. I really wanted to discuss another diagnosis as well as recovery. With much discussion and consideration with different people in my life, I have chosen to not only talk about Recovery but Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as well. I chose these two topics because I at one time was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and because I have worked so hard in recovery I no longer meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). So you can see the topics of Recovery and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can go hand and hand for me.

I will discuss Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) first. From here on out for the remainder of this blog, Borderline Personality Disorder will be written as BPD. The following information on BPD I got from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that can be challenging for everyone involved, including the individuals with the illness, as well their friends and family members. BPD is characterized by impulsivity and instability in mood, self-image, and personal relationships. The treatments and longer-term studies of BPD offer hope for good outcomes for most individuals who live with BPD. Ideas to name the condition in a manner that better describes the patter of concerns (e.g., Emotion Dysregulation Disorder) have been advanced but no name change to the condition is planned for the release of DSM-5.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and how is it diagnosed?

Borderline Personality Disorder is diagnosed by mental health professionals following a comprehensive psychiatric interview that may include talking with a person’s previous clinicians, review of prior records, a medical evaluation, and when appropriate, interviews with friends and family. There is no specific single medical test (e.g., blood test) to diagnose BPD and a diagnosis is not based on  a single sign or symptom. Rather, BPD is diagnosed by a mental health professional based on patterns of thinking and behavior in an individual. Some people may have “borderline personality traits” which means that they do not meet the criteria for diagnosis with BPD but have some of the symptoms associated with this illness.

Individuals with BPD usually have several of the following symptoms, many which are detailed in the DSM-IV-TR:

  • Marked mood swings with periods of intense depressed mood, irritability and/or anxiety last a few hours to a few days (but not in the context of full-blown episode of major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder).
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger.
  • Impulsive behaviors that result in adverse outcomes and psychological distress, such as excessive spending, sexual encounters, substance use, shoplifting, reckless driving or binge eating.
  • Recurring suicidal threats or non-suicidal self-injurious behavior such as cutting on one’s self.
  • Unstable, intense personal relationships, sometimes alternating between “all good,” idealization, and “all bad,” devaluation.
  • Persistent uncertainty about self-image, long-term goals, friendships and values.
  • Chronic boredom or feelings of emptiness.
  • Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment.

Borderline Personality Disorder is relatively common – about 1 in 20 or 25 individuals will live with this condition. Historically, BPD has been thought to be significantly more common in females, however recent research suggest that males may almost as frequently affect by BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder is diagnosed in people from each race, ethnicity and economic status.

What is the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The exact causes of BPD remain unknown, although the roles of both environmental and biological factors are though to play a role in people who develop this illness. While no specific gene has been shown to directly cause BPD, a number of different genes have been identified as playing a role in its development. The brain’s functioning, as seen in MRI testing, is often different in people with BPD, suggesting that there is a neurological basis for some of the symptoms associated with BPD.

Neuroimaging studies are not clinically helpful at this time to make the diagnosis and are research tools. A number of hormones (including oxytocin) and signaling molecules within the brain (e.g., neurotransmitters including serotonin) have been shown to potentially play a role in BPD. People who experience traumatic life events (e.g., physical or sexual abuse during childhood) are at increased risk of developing BPD, as are people with certain chronic medical illnesses in childhood.

The connection between BPD and other mental illnesses is well established. People with BPD are at increased risk for anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse. BPD is often misdiagnosed and many people find they wait years to get a proper diagnosis, which leads to a better care plan.

Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder have a first-degree relative with a serious mental illness (e.g., bipolar or schizophrenia). This is likely due to both genetic and environmental factors.

Now that I have bored you about BPD, I want to thank you for reading to this point. Again, I got the following information from NAMI’s website at nami.org.  I will now continue on with the next part of my blog.

The next part of the discussion is Recovery. According to the Webster’s dictionary Recovery is defined as following: noun: The process of combating a disorder (such as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem. Now that you know the definition of Recovery, I can tell you how recovery looks to me especially when it comes to BPD.

Recovery has been a long and difficult process for me. In fact recovery is a lifelong process for people with any mental health diagnosis. For me, my recovery process in regards to my mental illness (not the eating disorders I struggled with) started 11 years ago this month (October or 2003) when I went into a two year intensive outpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. When I was in DBT I learned on ways to learn how to deal with my intense emotions. Most of the emotions I was dealing with and still deal with on occasion, I learn as a child to hold them in. So, holding in my emotions I ended up self-harming by cutting myself. I’m getting a little off topic, when I was in the DBT program I learned the proper skills or tools I needed to express my emotions appropriately. Because I learned how to express my emotions in an appropriate manner I was able to hold down a job at the same employer for 9 1/2 year as well take the training and examination to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist (aka Peer Counselor). Not only was I employed at the same employer for 9 1/2 years I was able to quit that job and become  Consumer Aide with Peer Counselor responsibilities at a mental health agency.

Yes, after I graduated the DBT program I continued with my previous job as well as sought out a new therapist. I have had my current therapist for 6 years this December. My current therapist Diana (pseudonym) and have worked endlessly with the pain of my past. She is the one that encouraged me to get my peer certification as well getting my new job as a Consumer Aide. Diana and the DBT program I graduated from in November of 2005 have played a key role in my recovery. In fact I have come to rely on myself as well as my friends and a select family members as well as people I consider family more than I do my own treatment team. Diana, my current therapist, is the one who declared me a recovered Borderline. As of the summer of last year (2013) I know longer meet the criteria of Borderline. My natural support system will see to that I will never get the diagnosis of BPD back. In fact my natural supports are a key to my recovery.

The reason why they are key to my recover is because like I said earlier recovery is a life long process. See I deal with other mental health diagnoses like the ones I have shared with you this past week. In fact I struggle with a few other diagnoses and will continue to educate you on those tomorrow. Going back to the topic, most mental illness’s are life long. Most of the personality disorders are the only mental health diagnoses you can eventually no longer meet the criteria for and Borderline is one of them. Yes, I will most likely struggle from time to time with my other mental health diagnosis however I have great friends and family as well as a therapist that are all invested in my recovery. They wont give up on me nor will they allow me to give up on myself.

Now that I have practically written a chapter or two of a book I better let you all go. I will continue to keep educating you on different diagnosis’s. I will continue with the ones that deal with. Have a great rest of your weekend I hope that I have educated you all on mental illness during Mental Health Awareness Week. I hope you all will continue to read and/or follow my blog. I hope I was able to convey to you this week that I was hoping to and hope to be able to convey more to you all in other blogs. Thanks for reading. Please do not hesitate to share my blog on social media site just as long as it is done in a respectful manner. Again thank you for reading. It means a great deal to me that you read my blog.

I should really let you go. I will blog again tomorrow and yes I will be blogging about another mental health diagnosis. It will be one that I have been diagnosed with. Again, thank you for reading. Peace out and enjoy your weekend.

Mental Health Awareness Week; Day 6: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

It is Day 6 of Mental Health Awareness Week. Today’s topic of discussion is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Todays discussion is quite difficult for me because I am struggle with PTSD and I am sure that this topic will bring up some painful memories from my past. I am aware that this particular post might take me all day to post because if I need to stop for a while I will. I need to do what is best for me but I also realize that I still need to educate you all on PTSD. Again the information I will give to you on PTSD, I got from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

The symptoms of PTSD:

The DSM-IV criteria for identifying PTSD require that symptoms must me active for more than one month after the trauma and associated with the decline in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The three broad symptom clusters can be summarized as follow:

1. Persistent Re-experiencing

A person experiences one or more of the following:

  • recurrent nightmares or flashbacks;
  • recurrent images or memories of the event – these images or memories often occur without actively thinking about the event;
  • intense distress of reminders of the trauma; and/or
  • physical reactions to triggers that symbolize or resemble the event.

2. Avoidant/Numbness Responses

A person experiences three or more of the following:

  • efforts to avoid feelings or triggers associated with the trauma;
  • avoidance of activities, places or people that remind the person of the trauma;
  • inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma;
  • markedly diminished interest in activities;
  • feelings of detachment or estrangement from others;
  • restricted range of feelings; and/or
  • difficulty thinking abut the long-term future – sometimes this expresses itself by a failure to plan for the future or taking risk because the person does not fully believe or consider the possibility that they will be alive for a normal lifespan.

3. Increased Arousal

A person experiences two or more of the following:

  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep;
  • outburst of anger/irritability;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • increased vigilance that may be maladaptive; and/or
  • exaggerated startle response

Again, I got this information off of the NAMI website at nami.org. The DSM has since got an updated version now DSM-5.The diagnosis of PTSD has been updated in the DSM-5 so for more updated information you might want to check it out.

As I thought I am having some problems writing this particular blog. I have made the decision to make this particular blog shorter than I had hoped. It has been quite triggering for me. I am a survivor of multiple traumas and some of those trauma’s were when I was a child. Writing this blog has brought up some unpleasant memories of some horrific parts of my life. That is why I am needing to end this blog. I am sorry that I was unable to convey everything that I wanted. I hope that someday that I will be able to convey more on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I need to take care of myself and I know with the years of therapy that I have had and continue to have that if continuing this particular entry will trigger me even more.

On that note, I will blog again tomorrow on another subject. I am not really sure if I am going to write about but I do know that I will write about mental health. I hope that you will continue to follow and/or read my blog when Mental Health Awareness Week ends. Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy it to the best of your ability. Peace out and enjoy life!!!!