Father’s Day Bits and Pieces

Fathers Day MTB

We plan to do some mountain biking today. When my husband and son do steep downhill runs (downhill mountain biking), I just have enough time to drop them off at the top of a mountain and pick them up at the bottom. Hopefully today, if we ride (they went on a very long ride Friday which our son is still recovering from), I can ride, too.

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On the Way to Father’s Day with My Dad

Audio Transcript

I’m on my way to my parents’ memory care to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad. Yesterday when my mother learned that I was going to be celebrating Father’s Day with my dad and not be taking her to her communication recovery group in Newport Beach, she became very distraught, cried, and tried to leave the facility. So, I got a phone call asking if they could hire somebody to take her to the course. It freed me up to meet with my father for Father’s Day.

Granted, I’m not able to take my kid to and from school on Fridays when I go and spend Fridays with my parents. So, whenever I go and spend Fridays with my parents during the week, it interferes with my parenting. Luckily, today my husband’s home and he’s taking my son to school. My son goes to school too far to ride his bike.

So, I’m anxious because I’ll be seeing my mother before she leaves, and I don’t know how she’s going to react. I’m just anxious because whenever I see them, they expect me to get them out of there (their locked memory care community). And, I can just only take so much of it emotionally. It’s very trying.

So, it interferes with my ability to do my passion, which is writing, blogging, which I haven’t been doing as much. And, yes, I know people, some people, are a little concern that I’m doing this while driving. But, it’s a long drive. It’s like a 20 minute, half hour drive. We’re in neighboring cities, but Mission Viejo is a long city. And, then, it takes a while to get from their memory care facility to the Newport Beach communications recovery group.

I just don’t want to keep taking my mom. I want to start backing out of being a caregiver. I still basically am. But, I want to start putting up more boundaries and protecting myself, which I had to do before all this. I had to protect myself. I have to protect my time.

I have to make sure I have enough energy to take care of myself and my son. First and foremost. I have nobody else, beside my husband. Yes, my son is an adolescent, but he doesn’t drive, and it’s just not safe for him to ride his bike to and from school because of super busy streets. The speed limit is like 50 mph. He doesn’t feel comfortable riding on these streets. He feels comfortable on mountain trails, but not on these streets.

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Mental Illness and Violent Acts

My response to Marisa Lancione’s excellent post: Can we stop blaming mass shootings on mental illness?

Honestly, some mass shootings are perpetrated by people with untreated mental illness. I’ve had to stop myself from doing violent things. I’ve had completely horrifying thoughts and impulses, which I’ve had to tell myself not to act on, had to harness all my self control to not do. At the time, in fact, I was amazed that more violent acts don’t occur.

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My response to Henrietta M. Ross’ post: We’re All Serial Killers Now

Brilliant. Just responded to another article that I have fought murderous (and postpartum incestuous and cannibal) thoughts and impulses. At the time, I was amazed that more murders don’t occur (and more infants not eaten).

Friday Was Tough

Note

I’ve received feedback that my delivery in this video is too clinical and offputting. Forgive me. I’m trained as a psychotherapist. No doubt I use my training and jargon not just to understand, but to defend myself, to distance myself. Plus, I just like big words.

Edited Transcript – “Ums” Removed

Yesterday was really intense. We had gotten, or I had received, a call from my parents’ memory care that my dad was… my parents were very upset because they were separating them into separate rooms.

There’s a good reason for separating them. When together they isolate and don’t let caregivers take care of them and don’t participate in activities and don’t socialize, and their health deteriorates. When they’re separated, which we’ve had them separated at different times since my mother’s had a stroke, they both participate in activities in their separate facilities. They actually do better. Both of them.

So, the idea was to have them in the same facility, but in separate rooms with same sex roommates. They can still visit each other. They can still see each other, but they have to sleep separately to try to see if we can break their co-dependent relationship. It’s a dynamic that’s not unusual. Problem is they take care of each other and don’t let other people take care of them. And, they need help. They can’t. They’re not really up for taking care of each other. They’re not up for taking care of themselves or each other.

I know that they love one another deeply, and we want to respect that. And, they still have the opportunity to have private time. That’s respected, as well. But in order for them to get the most out of the program that we’re paying for they have to participate in it. They have to let caregivers come in. They have to do things that exercise their brain, rather than deteriorate.

If we were to just let them isolate, then I would get the cheapest care possible and just… But I’ve already seen what that results in – which is unfortunately violent behavior and at times, even now, psychotic behavior – for which I’ve had to have my mom hospitalized a couple of times since her stroke.

The stroke has damaged not only just the part of her brain that handles language, but the part of her brain that handles impulse control. So any psychiatric illness that I may be heir to, and I am, is exacerbated by the brain damage.

So anyway, I just wanted to put that out there. I have writing that I’ve done, very scattered, and I want to touch on and that I haven’t really talked about, which is about… I’ll just go into it… My sister’s going to hate me for this. Which is about what it’s like growing up raised by raised in an alcoholic family. How challenging that is. What it’s like being raised by a parent who has no insight into her own illness or behavior. How it affects those who love her and who she loves.

There’s no doubt my parents loved us. Very well. Very much. But it was very hard for… I’ll speak for my own behalf.

I am thankful very much for my sister for being my reality test. When things seemed really crazy, we’d look at each other and go, this doesn’t make any sense. And, that, that’s huge. That’s huge.

But it’s a part of mental illness, not realizing that you have it. Not everybody has insight. Not everybody seeks help. Not everybody gets help. It has a devastating effect on those who love and are loved by someone with unacknowledged, undiagnosed, untreated mental illness or unacknowledged, undiagnosed, untreated alcoholism, dual diagnosis. It’s really tough.

Sometimes children raised in such an environment try desperately to please, thinking they can control behavior they can’t control. Hoping that they can earn love and avoid the emotional abuse that may come with behavior that is unpredictable, and that you can’t understand what you had done to bring it on because you hadn’t done anything to bring it on.

There you go.

About Me and This Blog

Blog for Change

Blogging can affect both personal and social change. I started blogging because the thoughts and words in my mind simply had to get out. I hope this blog offers support, educates, and fights stigma.

Though I am a minivan-driving wife and mother, unlike most of my suburban neighbors, I live with bipolar disorder. My Story, My Path to Age Thirty, Psychotic Break at Thirty, Thirty to Motherhood, Mystic or Mentally Ill?, and Mystic Psychosis recount my struggle with mental illness, the two decades it took to get a proper diagnosis, and how my journey has ultimately given me a sense of purpose – and at times, a sense of religious calling.

As a perpetual and proud geek, I always liked going to school. My brown-nosing and hard work got me a BA in Legal Studies from UC Berkeley, an MA in Psychology from New College of California (never heard of New College? well, it no longer exists and was never as prestigious as Berkeley), and twice I’ve attended Fuller Theological Seminary and twice I quit.

Though I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I haven’t practiced in over 20 years. My varied career path has included working as a legal assistant, psychotherapist, and commercial real estate professional. Obviously, I haven’t stuck to one thing for very long. In fact, if you take a look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that I was a job-hopper, shooting high, rapidly rising, then crashing and burning, over and over – fairly typical of someone with bipolar disorder type II.

My Battle with Mental Illness:

I’m All Over Social Media:

TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedInPinterestTumblrInstagramflickrYouTube

If you take a look at my social media presences, you might think that either I’m really committed to making a brand out of my name, or I am a narcissist. Probably both.

Here’s My Contact Form:

Meaning and Mental Illness

I wrote this post for Lisa Bortolotti’s project Imperfect Cognitions: Blog on delusional beliefs, distorted memories, confabulatory explanations, and implicit biases.

The blog was founded by Lisa Bortolotti in May 2013, after receiving the happy news that she had been awarded an AHRC Fellowship for a project entitled “The Epistemic Innocence of Imperfect Cognitions“. The core idea of the project was to see whether a variety of cognitions (beliefs primarily, but also memories, narratives and explanations) could enhance knowledge even when they were inaccurate or ill-grounded.

Source: Blog History

Meaning and Mental Illness

Monday, 28 December 2015

For our series of first-person accounts, Kitt O’Malley, blogger and mental health advocate, writes about her experience of altered states and what these mean to her.

When I was twenty-one upon returning from my grandfather’s memorial mass at which I gave the eulogy, I first experienced a series of altered mental states which I chose to interpret as God calling me to the ordained ministry. I questioned that sense of call due to my intellectual skepticism, my agnosticism, and the fact that I had a history of mental illness, namely major depression and dysthymia. God did not speak to me in my altered mental states. I heard no voices and saw no visions. The altered states I entered were sometimes ecstatic and sometimes tempting and dark. My interpretation of my experiences was influenced by my familiarity with the works of Alan Watts and D.T. Suzuki on Zen Buddhism, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and Roman Catholic mystic saints.

As I received no definitive instructions, I didn’t know exactly what God called me to do, but I chose to identify with mystic saints and believed that God called me to seminary training. I did not pursue a seminary education at that time. Later when I was thirty, after being prescribed antidepressants, I experienced a week-long psychotic state in which simultaneous thoughts raced through my mind in binary (zeroes and ones), about chaos theory, and about Roman Catholic mystic saints. Even after the psychotic break, my diagnosis remained dysthymic, with the episode believed to be a reaction to antidepressant medication.

Again, I believed God called me to seminary, but I had to address my mental health before I could follow through on my sense of God’s call. At the age of thirty-nine I once again started to experience euphoric sensations and the belief that God was calling me. At that point, I was a mother and wanted to be stable and grounded for my active toddler son more than I wanted to be a mystic. As a mother, the practical trumped the mystical. I sought help for bipolar disorder from a psychiatrist. My diagnosis changed from dysthymia to bipolar type II and my medication changed accordingly with mood stabilizers and sometimes an antipsychotic added to the mix. Finally, after a psychiatric hospitalization at forty-one, I applied to and attended, but did not complete, seminary.

My belief that I am both a mystic and have a mental illness remains. I believe that God has a purpose for me and that I am fulfilling that purpose in blogging about living with bipolar disorder and in my volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At the same time, I am skeptical of my own belief and realize that such a belief can be dangerous and can lead to destructive behavior.

In spite of my skepticism, I decided to embrace my own experiences as meaningful. I straddle both biological and meaning-based understandings of both my mental illness and my experience of divine calling. I believe both perspectives could be true. For me, what is key is that the meaning I glean from my experiences is positive in its effects.