How I’ve Been Grieving Lately

Sisters Kayaking
My sister and me kayaking at Suttle Lake, OR

Before my father passed away, I planned to attend the Sunriver Writers’ Summit. Unfortunately, the summit followed only a month after his death, and I felt too raw to attend.

Social gatherings overwhelm and exhaust me and can trigger mood cycling, first hypomania as I get overstimulated and later a need to recover which looks like depression.

Now’s not the time. Now’s the time to spend with family. Visiting my mother and taking her out to lunch, which she enjoys. Seeing my sister, for we both deeply miss our father. So, instead of attending the writers’ summit, I visited Oregon with my husband and spent time with my sister and extended family.

We left our almost 18-year old son home alone, forcing him to forage a well-stocked refrigerator and freezer by himself. He managed to stay alive. Step in the right direction. (Got to encourage independent living skills before he goes out on his own.)

Published Author at Last!

My Book Published! Amazon.com/author/kittomalley. Books by Kitt O'Malley, Blogging for Bipolar Mental Health.
Blogging for Bipolar Mental Health published today! Visit Amazon.com/author/kittomalley.

Kindle e-book and paperback are live. Copyright registration claimed. Set up author page on both Amazon and GoodReads. Next will get it ready for IngramSpark for publish on demand through other retailers. So excited.

About Blogging for Bipolar Mental Health

Blogging for Bipolar Mental Health offers hope to those living with mental illness and their loved ones, educates the public about mental health, and fights stigma against those living with mental illness by challenging stereotypes.

Kitt O’Malley’s writing recounts her struggle with bipolar disorder type II, the two decades it took to get a proper diagnosis, and how her journey ultimately gave her purpose – and at times, a sense of religious calling.

Though Ms. O’Malley is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she hasn’t practiced as a psychotherapist in over twenty years. Both her clinical background and personal experience inform her writing and enable her to help both herself and others toward mental health recovery.

Broken Brain

Broken Brain

Brain broken
Frustrating
Do not remember
Must constantly relearn
Brain not functioning properly
Not functioning as it once did
Must constantly relearn
Damn, I hate bipolar disorder

Been Busy

Friday: Attended NAMI Advocacy Training. Saturday: Prepared parents' income tax return. Sunday: Finished our income tax return. Monday AM: Fed son & got him to school.

No wonder I’m exhausted! Friday I attended a NAMI California Regional Meeting in which we participated in NAMI Smarts for Advocacy Training.

NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a hands-on advocacy training program that helps people living with mental illness, friends and family transform their passion and lived experience into skillful grassroots advocacy.

Basically, we learned how to turn our story of lived experience with mental illness into a two-minute pitch to ASK for specific change, such as voting for or against a particular piece of legislation, on behalf of those of us with lived mental health experiences.

BREAK & UPDATE

[Had to go pick up my son from school… He made it through two hours… Now back home sick to his stomach, needing to be in close proximity to a bathroom… Even took him to an acupuncturist last week hoping for an answer, a fix… Beginning of June have appointment with pediatric gastroenterologist… Poor kid.]

Here’s my scribbled and scrawled practice sheets:

Kitt O'Malley's Story Practice Sheet for NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training. Basically illegible handwriting. I will try to decipher in the text that follows.

So, my notes are not exactly neat and tidy. Here’s my transcription of them for those who cannot read them (I know I can’t):

My Introduction

Hello, I’m Kitt O’Malley from Mission Viejo, CA. I’m a member of NAMI Orange County, CA, part of America’s largest grassroots mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, I’d like to share my story with you and ask for your support of [ASK – here I would ask for something specific in support of those living with mental illness and their families].

What Happened

I was an honors biochem student at UCLA when I became suicidal. I had high hopes of someday becoming a neurosurgeon, but had to quit UCLA due to my illness. I still managed to get an education and become an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) in my 20’s. Over the years I was treated for depression using psychotherapy and antidepressants. My work history during these years was one of many starts and stops, constantly overworking until I again became depressed. Finally, at the age of 39, it became clear that I had bipolar disorder. Still, I tried balancing the demands of coping with bipolar disorder with parenting and working in commercial real estate. By the time I was 41, I was hospitalized for a breakdown.

What Helped

A combination of medication, supportive psychotherapy, and the support of my family, especially my husband, enabled me to achieve stability. I benefited from excellent hospital and partial hospitalization programs in which group activities offered both structure and peer support.

How I’m Different Today

Today I am an active mental health advocate through my volunteer work with NAMI and through the use of social media, including blogging. I have found purpose in this work, even if I’m no longer making the big bucks.

What is the Need or the Problem?

Far too many people do not receive the treatment that I sought and received.

What Will Help Others

We need public education to fight stigma which keeps people from seeking help, and better day programs and hospital programs for those living with serious mental illness.

My “ASK”

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. Can I count on you to [ASK – here I would ask for something specific in support of those living with mental illness and their families]? Thank you.


Orange County Health Care Agency Behavioral Health

After this training, four Orange County Mental Health/Behavioral Health Directors gave presentations on the services provided by the county, including those programs made possible through the California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Then we broke into four groups, each group meeting with one of the four county mental health leaders, and had the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback as stakeholders in mental health services.

Thank you, Mary Hale, Deputy Agency Director Orange County Health Care Agency Behavioral Health Services, Jeffrey Nagel, PhDMental Health Services Act (MHSA) Coordinator, Anthony Delgado, LCSWAdult & Older Adult MHSA FSP Programs, and Jason Austin, MA, LMFTBehavioral Health Services Navigation Administrative Manager.

Orange County Behavioral Health Information & Referrals 855-OC-Links (625-4657) or TDD Number: 714-834-2332

855-OC-LINKS [625-4657]  (8 am – 6 pm)
TDD Number: 714-834-2332 (8 am – 6 pm)
OC Links LIVE CHAT at ochealthinfo.com/bhs/about/pi/oclinks (8 am – 6 pm)