Living With Extreme Mental States

Liz SpikolAs she noted at the start of her blog (in 2005), writer Liz Spikol “struggles with mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder and OCD. I was also diagnosed with dissociative disorder N.O.S. — which means I suffer from intermittent depersonalization and derealization.”

Here is part of a New York Times article that includes Spikol and others who speak openly of “madness”:

‘Mad Pride’ Fights a Stigma, By GABRIELLE GLASER

IN the YouTube video, Liz Spikol is smiling and animated, the light glinting off her large hoop earrings. Deadpan, she holds up a diaper. It is not, she explains, a hygienic item for a giantess, but rather a prop to illustrate how much control people lose when they undergo electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, as she did 12 years ago.

In other videos and blog postings, Ms. Spikol, a 39-year-old writer in Philadelphia who has bipolar disorder, describes a period of psychosis so severe she jumped out of her mother’s car and ran away like a scared dog.

In lectures across the country, Elyn Saks, a law professor and associate dean at the University of Southern California, recounts the florid visions she has experienced during her lifelong battle with schizophrenia — dancing ashtrays, houses that spoke to her — and hospitalizations where she was strapped down with leather restraints and force-fed medications.

Like many Americans who have severe forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Ms. Saks and Ms. Spikol are speaking candidly and publicly about their demons. Their frank talk is part of a conversation about mental illness (or as some prefer to put it, “extreme mental states”) that stretches from college campuses to community health centers, from YouTube to online forums.

“Until now, the acceptance of mental illness has pretty much stopped at depression,” said Charles Barber, a lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. “But a newer generation, fueled by the Internet and other sophisticated delivery systems, is saying, ‘We deserve to be heard, too.’ ”

About 5.7 million Americans over 18 have bipolar disorder, which is classified as a mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Another 2.4 million have schizophrenia, which is considered a thought disorder. The small slice of this disparate population who have chosen to share their experiences with the public liken their efforts to those of the gay-rights and similar movements of a generation ago.

Just as gay-rights activists reclaimed the word queer as a badge of honor rather than a slur, these advocates proudly call themselves mad; they say their conditions do not preclude them from productive lives.

Article continued: ‘Mad Pride’ Fights a Stigma

Photo by Shea Roggio from Liz Spikol’s blog The Trouble With Spikol

See YouTube video with Liz Spikol.

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Post about Elyn Saks: A link between intellectual functioning and schizophrenia

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Creative People and Trauma articleCreative People, Trauma and Mental Health

Pretty much all of us experience some kind of trauma in life. How does creative expression help people deal with it, to heal and recover?

How do people make use of traumatic experiences in their creative work? What impacts on mental health can trauma have, and how can people regain health?

See bottom of article for multiple resources.

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Sensitive to Anxiety and Depression

Being highly sensitive probably increases our vulnerability to anxiety and depression, which for many of us go together to some extent. Elaine Aron, PhD thinks “high sensitivity increases the impact of all emotionally tinged events, making childhood trauma particularly scarring.”

Psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel notes “When we call something a ‘mental disease’ or a ‘mental disorder’ we imply a great deal about its origins, its treatment, its intractability, and its locus of control. The mental health industry has its reasons for calling life’s challenges ‘disorders’ but we have few good reasons to collude with them.”

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Psychotherapist Sarah Chana Radcliffe on technologies for growth

This audio clip is from the Shrink Rap Radio podcast Holistic Psychotherapy with Sarah Chana Radcliffe, with host David Van Nuys, Ph.D., aka “Dr. Dave” interviewing Sarah Chana Radcliffe, M.Ed., C.Psych.Assoc. She practices emotionally focused therapy, process experiential psychotherapy, energy psychology, EMDR, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

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Making More Calm and Less Stress for A Better Life

“Being more intentional, grounded and grateful is not just a good thing to do for the holiday season. It’s a way to live all year long. And not only that, it’s the quickest way to transform your life from ordinary to extraordinary.” Carrie Contey, Ph.D.

“If you aren’t intentional about how you want the holidays to go, you’ll be swept up in the rapids this time of the year.” Lisa Byrne.

“Here come the holidays and the New Year. Give yourself a gift by remembering to do this time of year your way.” Elaine Aron, PhD.


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Social Emotional Health Program for Creative, Gifted, Highly Sensitive People

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