October 9, 2017

Mental Health Awareness: My Mother's Story



My mother passed away several years ago...she would have been 75 this month.

I have so many memories of her...

I remember her teaching me to row, her hands on the paddles next to mine, back and forth and the swish of the oars.

I remember quiet rainy days, sitting at our kitchen table cutting paper hearts, making yarn ropes, or mosaics with allspice and cloves.   She was so creative and she passed that on to me. 

But I have other memories too... 

Memories of her sitting cross-legged in her room, tears straining down her face, talking about how she didn't want to live anymore.

My mother had bipolar disorder.  It was, for her, a roller coaster that took her at times so high there seemed to be no consequences, and at others so low that it cut her off from herself and brought her thoughts of suicide.   It could make her euphoric, or paranoid, a powder keg, a bundle of nerves or a shower of tears.   In between those swings, she was a good mom.

She was not the first in her family to have this disease.   My great aunto spent most of her life in a mental institution with an illness that didn't even have a name then, much less a treatment. 

When my mom first showed signs of something being wrong, sometime in her teens, they had a name for what she suffered from:  Manic Depression (the name later was changed to bipolar disorder).

She spent some time in mental hospitals too.   Once during these stays she received electroshock therapy.  She said it probably saved her life, literally jolting her out of her severe depression, but it also took something away, a part of her that she said she never got back.   The last stay at a mental hospital was when I was very young.  I remember the strange lonely feeling and the worry I felt, staying with friends while she recovered.   When I visited her the place was cheery and bright.  She brought back crafts, but seemed ashamed to have been there.  (Sadly much of the mental health support available back then, in the 1970s, no longer exists.  Read more.)

What kept her out of the hospitals (most of the time), was a drug called Lithium.   Early on she looked at it as a crutch, something she should be able to function without.   It was a pharmacist who finally got through to her...told her it was nothing to be ashamed of, that it was something she needed like a diabetic needed insulin.  And so she faithfully took it, even when doctors had trouble getting the dosage right and it would make her ill.

That attitude, that the medicine is just a crutch, is still far too common.   I met a girl in high school who shared that she was bipolar, but "was working to get off the pills."   She said it like someone would say "I want to quit smoking" --as if this necessary medicine was an addiction she needed to break free of.

And no wonder.   Throughout my mom's life, ignorant people have told her that it's all in her head, that she just needed to "get things together," and even that her illness was caused by demons.  But bipolar is just as much a real medical problem as cancer, or Parkinsons.
  
Recently scientists studied brain scans of those with and without the disorder, and discovered what bipolar disorder actually did to the brain:  Brain scans of thousands of bipolar individuals showed thinning of grey matter, especially in areas of the brain that control inhibition and motivation.   They  also looked at scans of patients that took lithium, and discovered that it provides an amount of protection from this.  

My mom passed away several years before this information came out.  I think she would have found it vindicating...but she had already benefited from the research that has been done. Even in her lifetime additional medications came out that worked better for her than the ones she was originally prescribed, that helped immensely during the last decades of her life.  I have so much hope that things will keep improving for those who face this illness in the future.

~~~

If anyone reading this feels like they might need help, I wanted to point you to the Suicide & Crisis hotline, which is NOT just for those who are suicidal.  It's also for those in any sort of crisis who need to talk with someone, and for those seeking help for a loved one.   1-800-273-8255
  

Mental Health Awareness Collab

A group you-tubers and one blogger (me) are collaborating to talk about Mental Health issues today.   Check out the other collaborators videos below.








January 9, 2017

Giveaway Linkies

Below are 3 Giveaway Link Ups:  Giveaways 4 Good, Low Entry Giveaway, and a Regular Link-up For All Other Giveaways, collected here, for your easy browsing.  If you want to submit a giveaway, or see theses linkies separately, please do so at the appropriate links below (as full rules for submitting are not included on this page).

PLEASE INCLUDE END DATE!!!!



Giveaways For Good
These giveaways help charitable causes, raise awareness, or are fair trade.




Low Entry Giveaways
Giveaways with under 200 entries ending within a week.  Please include end date, and number of entries when posted. 




All Other Giveaways

December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!




Ring Out, Wild Bells
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.



Happy New Year!!







Thanks to Graphics Fairy  for the Bells Illustration 

December 5, 2016

Scribbleprints Giveaway


Looking for some fun stocking stuffers?
Try these from Scribbleprints.com

And you can see if you can win some of them...
scroll down for entry form.



Stickers
(4 stickers, not full sheet)



Hair Bands and Buttons
(Buttons may have alternative plastic backs, or be smaller)

TO ENTER:  Enter on the rafflecopter form below.  You must be a US resident over 18 to enter.   Prize will five of the items above of your choice (in designs shown).  See full rules here.  



a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 12, 2016

Fair Trade Feature: Tegu Magnetic Wood Blocks

I want to share with you about a company with a really nifty product that supports a great cause.



Where to Find Tegu Blocks at the Best Price:
Price comparison done at date of post, and may change at a later date.  Prices are rounded to nearest whole dollar.  Doesn't include all Tegu products, just a sampling. (I earn commission from the Amazon and Educents links).
 
40 Piece Se
  • Most Common Price:   Around $110
  • Best Price Found:  Groupon, Zulily  $80
22 Piece Set
  • Most Common Price:   Around $60
  • Best Price Found:  Groupon  and Educents* (til 2/18) $45
4 Piece Square Blocks Set
  • Most Common Price:   Around $12
  • Best Price Found:  Educents*  $9.50
*If you're new to Educents, you can get a $10 off $25 order coupon when you sign up, which brings the price down even more on these.  GRAB COUPON HERE.

October 2, 2015

31 Days of Socially Conscious Weddings


Just wanted to highlight a series you might want to take in if you are planning a wedding.  This series will delve into how to plan a wedding that is both wonderful, AND ethical.