Mental illness stigma and connecting with those struggling with chronic pain
I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.
The therapist I worked with for seven years was amazing, we dealt with some extremely emotional issues including PTSD sexual abuse and maternal narcissism. She validated my feelings and showed the kind of empathy that I’d never received as a child, therefore, I often craved her as a friend while in therapy. I soon understood boundaries, and realized it just wouldn’t work; therapy isn’t friendship.
A friend told me of an occurrence where friendship ruined the relationship with her and her therapist. She had been meeting “X” every 3 weeks for roughly 2 years, drudging through many agonizing, uncomfortable, personal issues and trusted “X” entirely with what she disclosed, more than with any other therapist.
When she was pregnant with her second child, also experiencing difficulties with her spouse, “X” was there to convey her thoughts to. By the time the baby was to arrive, they worked through marital issues, which alleviated the situation at home and for her.
This article was most interesting to me as many of my migraine pain areas are in portions of my face, where sight is impaired and the pain is excruciating.
If you look at the entire nervous system only about 20% of the input to the brain comes from the spinal column! The other 80% comes from twelve sets of cranial nerves. Here is where it gets tricky. 70% of that 80% comes from the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is important because it provides nerve stimulation to some very important parts of the head and face such as:
The muscles that move the jaw
The lining of the sinuses
The temporal mandibular (TM) joints
The muscle that tenses the ear drum
The joint that connects the teeth to the jaws
The control of the blood flow to the anterior (front) of the brain.
The ear canal
Take a good look at this list…how many of you have complaints of ear problems? Toothaches? Sinus problems? Migraines? Jaw Pain? How many of you have been to multiple doctors and have been told that there was “nothing” wrong?
As an unloved daughter of a narcissistic mother, the cards or flowers I handed to her with ‘love’ throughout the years were given with the expectations and desires that one day she would hug me with love. Giving her a card each year was presented or mailed with a fake smile or strained “Love you always mom.”
She by no means ever deserved a card, lunch or dinner out, and especially a visit when I was an adult. When I moved across the country, there was one year I ‘neglected’ to send a card or call. This resulted in a ‘hissy fit,’ possibly threw one of her notorious tantrums including tears, resulting in my father phoning me, blasting “how could you treat your mother like this?” I can’t recall my reply, but more than likely, I said I was sorry.
A few days passed, and what do I receive in the mail, a multi-page letter from my mother ranting how self-centred I am, this is the way I treat her after everything she’s done for me throughout my life, took care of me, and will sever our relationship now. This was due to not sending a card?
To be honest, I feel jealous of others who have/had a wonderful mother.
So to all of those who are survivors of narcissistic emotional abuse, or never received the motherly care, empathy, encouragement, and love; I dedicate this post to you. You are all Warriors!
These chronic migraines are not “pop 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” headaches……
That’s me, that’s what I suffer with. Winter has been unkind to me, especially January through March, where very few days did I escape not having a migraine headache. The pulsating, throbbing head and face agony had me bedridden most days, and other times unable to wear my glasses due to tenderness over the bridge of my nose.
Since thoughts of jumping over the balcony crossed my mind to end this crap and a trip to the emergency isn’t an option anymore (wait times approx. 10-14 hrs. and their refusal to use narcotics), I had to ‘suck it up’.
My neurologist suggested Botox treatments, but I’m unsure of this method for chronic migraines, and the research I’ve done has shown some people were worse off with the treatment due to constant stiff necks and even more pain + medications. I am considering chiropractic or acupuncture methods, but for this past week, I’m experimenting with a natural herbal medication which has shown good progress so far. Fingers crossed!
Really? And women should just up and leave an abusive relationship; as if it were that easy.
‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ is a timeworn question about women trapped in relationships that are physically and/or emotionally abusive to them. Economic dependence is clearly part of the story — many women lack the financial means to leave and find themselves trapped by both poverty and abuse.
Of the women who do attempt to escape the abuse, some opt to petition a judge for a civil restraining order, also called a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, for protection from abuse, harassment, threats, or intimidation. Research shows that PFAs can promote women’s safety and help women manage the threat of abuse.
I’m notorious for that, receiving a compliment yet responding with something negative because I feel embarrassed receiving the compliment.
Example: I seldom run into any of my co-workers since I went on disability four years ago, and weight loss is noticeable. Several that I have chatted with have complimented me for losing weight and looking terrific, yet my response is “yes, but I have to lose so much more”. Everyone reacts with “Why?”. Then I panic!
This article was in psychologytoday.com:
Most people like hearing praise but some people bristle when they hear compliments and others downright hate them. What is it that determines whether someone enjoys receiving compliments or whether they turn sour at the first hint of positive feedback?
Compliments and Self-Esteem
More often than not, how receptive we are to compliments is a reflection of our self-esteem and deep feelings of self-worth. Specifically, compliments can make people with low self-esteem feel uncomfortable because they contradict their own self-views.
People actively seek to verify their own perceptions of themselves, whether those are positive or negative. For example, in one study, college students with low self-esteem showed a stronger preference for keeping their current roommate if that roommate viewed them negatively than if their roommate saw them more positively.
In other words, receiving praise from others when we feel negative about ourselves elicits discomfort because it conflicts with our existing belief system. If we believe we’re truly undesirable, hearing compliments about how attractive we are will feel jarring and inauthentic.
If we believe we’re unintelligent, someone lavishing us with praise about how smart we are will feel more like a taunt than a compliment. And if we’re convinced we’re incapable of success, receiving praise about our how capable we are can feel like a set-up for future heartbreak and disappointment.
The Challenge of Complimenting Relationship Partners with Low Self-Esteem
This is the last time you will hear me refer to you as such. Don’t worry though, I won’t use your real name. I know the embarrassment it would cause you to be called out completely. Let’s call you Sally. I’ve been struggling where to begin in what is the story of the lives you created for me and Oleysa. Let’s start at the beginning.
You were such a gracious woman to adopt two little girls in need of a good home. I can’t completely complain. We got exactly that. You provided us with clothes, food, toys and a financially stable home. You taught us to be good girls who received good grades at school, always used our manners and never missed a Sunday morning at church. You created two little girls who could show society just how great of a mother you were. That’s what the world…
Would this be a tough decision? Have you prepared yourself?
Presently, I still require individual therapy from my therapist, for she has been the most successful in tackling the secrets and hurts that I’ve been holding onto for so many years. I remain needy to be heard and reassurance from her, so I will continue on for now, and for me at this moment, it’s distressing to consider parting ways, but I recognize that day will come and I will have to prepare myself for it.
How gruelling therapy is in the first place, and yet to be so secure with a stranger, to trust and disclose your most private inner thoughts, secrets, feelings and emotions; a person who listened to you when no one else does or ever did, never criticized, nor judged and was actually absorbed in what you had to say. It’s a reassuring relationship.
When you hear the word “psychopath”, you might think of Hannibal Lecter or Ted Bundy, but most psychopaths are actually non-violent and non-incarcerated members of society. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ll seem exceptionally altruistic and innocent to the average onlooker.
As described in the Psychopath Free book (author Jackson MacKenzie), psychopaths are first and foremost social predators. With no conscience, they’re able to use charm and manipulation to get what they want from others—whether it be families, friendships, relationships, cults, the workplace, or even politics. The bottom line is, they modify their personalities to become exactly the person they think you want them to be. And they’re good at it.
Waking up one morning, I looked in the mirror, saw my face was droopy on one side, scaring the heck out of me. I was in my 30’s, believing it was a stroke but relieved the diagnosis was Bell’s Palsy. Most of the facial nerves returned to normal, however, I continue to show minor signs around my eyes and mouth area (30 years later). It’s interesting to learn that people with migraines have a higher risk of having Bell’s Palsy.
Image: Picture of Allen Ginsberg who had Bell’s Palsy, photo by Michiel Hendryckx (Wikimedia Commons)
Bell’s palsy is a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face.
They damage the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face, causing that side of your face to droop, which may affect your sense of taste and how you produce tears and saliva.
This condition comes without warning. Waking up with Bell’s Palsy first thing in the morning, a person discovers that one side of their face doesn’t move, and if it affects an eyelid, blinking may be difficult.
1. Bell’s Palsy typically starts suddenly, but it’s not to be confused with the condition of cerebral palsy.
2. Links have been found between migraine, facial and limb weakness which prompted a study showing that people with migraine may be at much higher risk of having Bell’s Palsy.
3. Most people who suddenly undergo these sudden symptoms believe they are having a stroke. However, if the weakness or paralysis only affects the face it’s likely to be diagnosed with Bell’s palsy.
Rummaging through my unorganized closet, I came across an article I wrote during my years in the hospital fighting depression. A roommate during my stay, whom I became close friends with, recalled her descent into hellish depression, as well as her suicide attempt. She gave me permission to write this article (excluding her name).
Dreaming. In tranquil waters. I’m sitting in my dinghy cross-legged, floating. The sea and sky are black.
I awaken. Black. Black is black. The room is black, but it must be morning. I’m all mixed up. I thought I heard the food trays arrive. I sneak a quick look out my room, and yes it is morning, but the halls also look black. All I sense is dread. Am I in a dream world? I shuffle back to bed.
I had never heard of “spoons” and the connection with chronic pain and frankly a bit confused. Noticing how many fibromyalgia sufferers use the term “spoonies“, I realized how it represented the reduced amount of energy for each daily task resulting from chronic pain due to an invisible illness.
Mental illness is surrounded by a glut of half-truths and untruths. If you tell someone that you’ve been diagnosed with, for example, bipolar disorder, they are likely to roll their eyes and say, “I don’t believe it – you don’t look mentally ill…?” What does mental illness look like then?
Which brings me to my question: Do I perchance look like I have Bipolar Disorder? I don’t think I do. Am I perhaps making something out of nothing?
Self-confidence and self-esteem slid into the basement and remained there for too many years. Trudging through the mud, and finally locating a ladder to climb up, rung by rung, I achieved the surface. An awfully scary surface.
When I was first diagnosed with depression my mother-in-law termed my illness as a “bad case of the nerves”. I always shook my head at that one, and questioned, what does depression have to do with bad nerves; an incredibly old belief or judgment perhaps?
The term “nervous breakdown” is used by the public to characterize a wide range of mental illnesses. Nervous breakdown is not a medical term and doesn’t indicate a specific mental illness. Generally, the term describes a person who is severely and persistently emotionally distraught and unable to function at his or her normal level.
Usually, when someone is referred to as ‘confident‘ they are referring to self-confidence.
Self-confidence is faith in one’s own abilities. People with high self-confidence typically have little fear of the unknown, are able to stand up for what they believe in, and have the courage to risk embarrassment (for instance, by giving a presentation to a large group of people). One who is self-confident is not necessarily loud, brash, or reckless.
Confidence as a psychological quality is related to, but distinct from, self-esteem. Self-esteem is usually lost as a result of other losses. Losing confidence is no longer trusting in the ability to perform.
My self-confidence and self-esteem went down the toilet very shortly after my first hospitalization back in the mid-1990’s and never really returned, even to this day. The gigantic hands of depression held onto me ever so tight, I lost my thinking process, the career I built and mostly what I lost was me.
I went from working full-time as an accounting supervisor for a large manufacturing corporation, to essentially a ‘piece of fluff‘. People routinely came to me for answers, and when in the hospital, I spent my days sitting in solitude or meandering the hospital halls to pass the time. Was this the life I was sentenced to?
It was incredible the change in me; virtually a child standing behind her mother’s dress frightened to ask or speak up. I was even nervous ordering a pizza via the telephone. Previously, I was forever the one who would enter a room, introduce herself, perform a speech and feel right at ease.
Mental illness does this to a human being; and instead of possessing that comfortable leather skin that gets us through the rough situations, we find ourselves now only dressed in chiffon. You feel flawed.
These are rough roads and undeserved journeys. Some of us have taken these roads/journeys repeatedly, and question when will the “under construction” terminate, giving way to smooth, fresh pavement.
It took years to recover and land back on my feet. I revisited the working world, however, only some of the self-confidence and self-esteem returned; just enough to get me by. Starting all over and learning new computer systems and methods were incredibly difficult, yet I managed to endure employment for 6 years before dark depression struck once again and now find myself unable to work.
I recognize I still lack it, and living jobless makes a difference, away from the working world, not connected to people sometimes hurls you into your own little world where you get to escape and become too comfortable. At times, I’d still rather hide, but I know I can’t, therefore, compelled to be somewhat “self-confident” looking and sounding.
Actually, this self-esteem/confidence thing is a lot of self-talk, and the support has to be there as you begin the “baby steps”.
I originally posted this on my Niume.com blog (now edited) and received the most readers of any of my posts (4.4K). Eating disorders may occur at any age, and it’s awfully difficult to accept when you are middle-aged and over 50+.
Two years ago, I was 58 years old and struggled with an eating disorder called anorexia. That was extremely outrageous to me recalling a time when I had ballooned to a whopping 285 lbs.
During the late 1990’s I had been hospitalized too many times for major depression and on a cocktail of too many medications. Countless meds with their side effects increased my weight, and the heaviness remained that way for many years. But, before the gallbladder illness in November 2012, I had slimmed down to 185 lbs.
Yes, the gallbladder fiasco. Long story short, surgeons operated twice to finally remove this painfully unusable organ, and throughout this time, my diet was: “No fried food and no rich desserts or you will irritate your gallbladder.”
This article was written by: Natasha Tracy from HealthyPlace.com (Breaking Bipolar Blog)
Sometimes people don’t believe I’m particularly sick. They meet me, I look fine, I interact, I charm, I wit and all seems, if not normal, at least something reasonably normal adjacent.
And that’s fine. It’s by design. Being a high-functioning mentally ill person, I can’t really afford to run around with my hair on fire. But faking normalcy, happiness and pleasure is a tricky and very expensive bit of business.
Being a “high-functioning” bipolar doesn’t really have a definition, per se. The term indicates that I’m not in a mental hospital, and I do things like live on my own, pay rent, work, and whatnot. I would suggest that being “high-functioning” seems to indicate that I can fake not being a crazy person.
The difference between sadness and depression? and why so many people get it wrong….. This article below appeared in www.psychologytoday.com written by Guy Winch Ph. D
Sadness is a normal human emotion. We’ve all experienced it and we all will again. Sadness is usually triggered by a difficult, hurtful, challenging, or disappointing event, experience, or situation. In other words, we tend to feel sad aboutsomething. This also means that when that something changes when our emotional hurt fades when we’ve adjusted or gotten over the loss or disappointment, our sadness remits.
Depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects our thinking, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways. When we’re depressed we feel sad about everything. Depression does not necessarily require a difficult event or situation, a loss, or a change of circumstance as a trigger. In fact, it often occurs in the absence of any such triggers. People’s lives on paper might be totally fine—they would even admit this is true—and yet they still feel horrible.
I have CPTSD (sexual and emotional abuse), and just hearing the word “fake” & “scam” was an enough to cause an actual trigger to my past, coupled with huge anxiety and intense anger.
Yesterday, while sitting in a coffee shop sipping tea and reading a book, two women around 30 – 40 years of age sitting behind me, actually had this conversation. True story. I’ll call them A & B.
A –Do you believe in all of this PTSD shit?
B –I don’t know what to think sometimes. I do know a co-worker who’s sister is going to therapy for it, I don’t know what exactly for, but she just said something that happened to her when she was young and has PTSD now.
A –Do you think it’s for real, or is she looking for attention? How old is her sister?
B –I think she’s in her 30’s, not sure. It’s something about molestation or something, I didn’t want to ask and be nosey.
A –Yeah right, like she can remember things that happened when she was a kid!
B –Well it’s her business
A –I’m just asking because I saw a show last night showing how some men in the military and some police are actually faking having this PTSD, just to collect disability. Some of them have collected $100,000.00, what a shame when people that have an actual disability need it.
And, their discussion continued……..
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, or other violent personal assault. PTSD is a real illness that causes real suffering. (source: psychiatry.org/ptsd) Continue reading Are you faking PTSD for attention? or is this a scam?
Most of my therapy has been individual, and I shied away from group therapy due to the fact that I was uncomfortable sharing my problems relating to depression and sexual abuse with a bunch of strangers. To be honest, my biggest fear was losing it and looking like an idiot if I started bawling my eyes out! However, I had no choice at the eating disorder program, it was 90% group and about 10% individual therapy.
I loathed it initially, others speaking out about themselves, revealing deep dark secrets that they had been holding onto, and slowly I became to trust them and I opened up. In short, it was very helpful in my recovery, yet I have to say honestly, I still prefer one-on-one. Give it a try though, it may suit you.
This article appeared in PsychCentral.com
Individual psychotherapy will always be the staple. It establishes the bond. It explores the ups and downs of that bond and probes the depths of the psychodynamic patterns of that bond and other bonds. It is the primary mode of understanding. It exists of and for itself and is not dependent on anything else. Group therapy is an adjunct to individual therapy.
There has been a secret you’ve been concealing, that’s most likely eating you up inside, however, you now have mustered enough courage to tell someone you trust. It’s rough, and you’re just a kid.
Protection and trust have already been shattered by your abuser; you just couldn’t take it anymore, now it’s time to receive compassion, tenderness and told you were so courageous for coming forward and that person will be punished.
It may perhaps have been very positive for you, you were believed, acknowledged, obtained love, affection, sorrow and apologies for this ever happening; possibly counseling. You went on to recover with perhaps some difficulty, but you received support.
Instead, it was the most regretful day of my life.
This was my first time “behind bars” taken via a police car and booked tonight just because I panicked. One feels this is jail, tossed into a cold cell awaiting the guard to slam shut the heavy metal door. Lying there frozen, shivering, alone peering down to shackled ankles. Why do I deserve this? Jailed because I have a mental illness?
Bolted down. Incarcerated.
Eyes open slowly and encircle a dingy room. Everything is bolted; windows, a desk, chairs, and including this bed. The windows have bars attached, walls are an ugly light pink and the curtain dividing my neighbor’s bed looks hideous also, but what was I expecting; a hotel room?
Is it daybreak? A rap on the door startles me, followed by a female voice stating, “breakfast and meds”.
I prefer not recalling what happened last evening, dialing the Distress Center, talking for what felt like hours with a counselor who had a monotone voice about my obsessive suicidal feelings. Thoughts danced in my head for days, dreaming of ways to carry out my demise. Then, at some stage in this conversation, I became irritated and slammed down the phone, prompting an unexpected visit from the police. Next a knock at my door where I was unconvincing as to my state of mind, and there a decision was made, I was to be transported somewhere?
Neighbors, who don’t as a rule, walk their dogs, now saunter by the police car, peering in, along with others peeking through window blinds and curtains. The back seat of this cruiser is larger than expected, however, I am seated with my mind in a muddle, confused, uncertain of the future yet despising the present.
Both police officers chat quietly in police jargon; I assume they are awaiting word of which hospital to take me, then suddenly I’m on my way. The drive is a speedy drive, yet for me, a lengthy one. A time to reflect… a time to sob…. a time to sit in wonderment. In the back of a cruiser – how can this be? Punishment? I’ve never committed a crime in my life. Will I go before a judge; am I to be sentenced and charged for suicidal ‘thinking’ and (to some) selfishly wishing to end my life?