I am referring to people with mental illness as Conquerors, because that is what we do every day. We fight valiantly against mental illness.
Signs of Mania:
*Losing sleep/believing it is a waste of time
*High energy and extreme productivity (cannot sit still to read or watch television)
*Unintentional weight loss
*Slurred/Mumbled speech (racing thoughts, not enough time to catch)
*Out of character messy handwriting
*Promises/Obligations not followed through (too much on plate)
Recognizing and Handling Situation:
*Keep close watch for symptoms
*Monitor behavior over time
*As a loved one, seek advice personally to gain knowledge from a professional (not me) before confronting a conqueror.
*I recommend not forcing help upon the conqueror. The conqueror may need that eventually, but give time for individual to ask for help. No one likes to be bossed around, and that can backfire.
*Sometimes, a conqueror will recognize signs and will need space to do so, instead of dealing with suggestions or hinting that you are noticing symptoms. That is frustrating when conqueror is attempting to learn on own.
Please contact me if you have questions! I am not a professional but I have an extensive amount of experience. I am available by email and here to help!
As far as I know, we aren’t born happy. We enter the world screaming at the top of our lungs. This is a world outside the comfort of our mother’s womb–the safest home we have known. Once we step into this big, wild, complicated environment, we face issues that later seem trivial; right out of the belly they seem humongous.
Many people have to work diligently to achieve happiness. There are pills to relieve anxiety and depression, but no pills full of happiness. We make our own happiness when we are not enveloped in its presence. I take several medications which aid in my struggle for happiness. I also muster all of the energy I possess toward reaching the level of happiness I require.
My growth was stunted at the age of fifteen because of my illness. My mind reverted to happy times in my past to help me forget the hard times. When I was nine, I was interested in reading about and collecting historical dolls, their clothing, and accessories. I have a massive collection now, because when you are an adult and have money you can buy toys that your allowance couldn’t cover when you were little. I can hold my first doll and breathe deeply, remembering the happy Christmas day when I first saw her under the tree. This comforts me. I can do this remembering technique with every doll and stuffed animal I have in my “nest” at home. I can snuggle with Tigger and remember the Disney store in New York City on a trip with my husband. Every time I hold “Bert,” my teddy bear, I am reminded of my earlier childhood happiness. There is one book that can comfort me like nothing else.
My Grandmama Patte was a storyteller. When I was little, she told precious stories to me and my sisters. We would ask her to tell us a story and request our favorites. There were five that stuck with me. She embellished and the details differed somewhat each time she told them. She would ask us to help her tell the stories, as she couldn’t quite remember everything. We would fill in the blanks where she forgot. I think she was trying to commit these stories to our memories long after she was gone. She succeeded. We grew up thinking she made up these stories on her own. When we were older, she gave us one of the most special gifts I have ever received. She bestowed upon each of us a book of Native American folklore; we found all of the stories she had told us throughout our lives. This book is so important to me because she died a few years later, but the stories live on. The happiness I gain from this book is monumental. Whenever I want to hear my Grandmama’s voice, I turn the page and concentrate with all my strength. I can hear her reading the story to me. When I am trying to fall asleep, daydreaming, or trying to control a panic attack, I think of joyful times I have experienced in my life. Deep breathing is key. Grandmama Patte’s voice is soothing.
There are many avenues toward happiness. One should not rely on another person for one’s happiness, though it is wonderful to have people in your life who bring you love and peace. There are steps to be taken in order to harness happiness and everyone has their own way of coping. Making art brings me closer to contentment. I sketch and color under a bright light that keeps me focused and comforts me. I am a pen pal to my older neighbor across the street. Sending and receiving letters with him brings me great joy. Stepping out for sunshine is an excellent way to soak up some natural therapy. Exercise is also helpful and will raise levels of serotonin, which stimulate delight.
These activities help me as an individual and may not work for everyone’s brain. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?
My Grandma Sandy is a fountain of wisdom, a brave soul, has a huge heart, and stands up for individuals who need her most. She invites strangers to her house on Thanksgiving. She loves all and she is full of prayer. She doesn’t tolerate bullying. She is a pioneer in the way of taking steps toward positive change.
Sandy befriended a person with mental illness and strives to engage him in social settings, getting out of the house, and living life to its fullest. These can be challenges when one feels down and out. Sandy is tenacious and I know that she will never give up on this endeavor. When someone is suffering with a mental health condition such as depression, it’s like drowning. We struggle to tread water. It can be difficult to get out of bed. Walking around feels like a chore. Cleaning the kitchen? Keeping a tidy house? Yeah, right. Think again. Sometimes, it takes too much energy to utter words. We must jump through hoops to get back on our feet. Society does not understand this invisible threat, and those who carry the burden of mental illness know this better than anyone, yet no one wants to talk about it. In their state of ignorance, “normal” people try to push these issues under the rug and ignore them; if you can’t see them, no one else will, right? Mental illness is not caused by fault and is not a shameful secret. The stigma associated with the mentally ill leads to the belief that we are the “bad guys.” Not so.
While the stigma rounds us all up and stamps a label on our heads, we all suffer differently and do not fit neatly in a box. There are human beings with mental illness who live beautiful lives despite the “Berman” traveling with them. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, friends. Just because you aren’t labeled doesn’t mean that mental illness doesn’t lurk inside your mind.
Recently, my grandma and her friend were at a group assembly and people told her to “Stay away from him!” My grandma said, “Shut up!” She protected her new friend from close-minded bullies. There are those in society who live in denial about the existence of mental illness because they do not want to accept the truth and move forward. The world is full of nonbelievers, but I hope that gradually those numbers will see the light and treat people with respect instead of fear. I am so proud of my grandma. Bullies should never have the last word. Sandy is a blessing in my life and many others. May this day and all days be filled with her radiance and courage.
I dedicate this article to two of the loves in my life, on their birthday.