What I’ve Done Recently

Hypomania, Self-Care, Success!

Frustrated, Defeated and Hypomanic

The weekend before last, I was frustrated, overwhelmed, feeling defeated, and mildly hypomanic.

I felt like a failure as a mother, for I hadn’t been able to get my son to take his high school equivalency exams. Told that I make it too easy for him to stay in his bedroom compounded my feeling of guilt.

How could I balance compassion for my son’s severe migraine pain and social anxiety with consequences that forced him to take more responsibility?

Repeated what I’ve told him before (without a hard date): He had to move forward – with school, with helping around the house, with addressing his anxiety, or with work – or he would have to move out.

Now that he’s a legal adult, we’re no longer legally obligated to house and feed him. We don’t intend to kick him out. But, he must move forward and take responsibility as an adult member of the household.

Provider Education, Take Two

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Orange County (NAMI OC) chapter asked me to retrain for the new two-day Provider Education curriculum.

I had served on the Provider Education team that first structured the five-week course content into a two-day format, and we had done it in two days numerous times.

Turns out the “new” curriculum varied very little from what we were teaching. By lunch on that Saturday, I lost my temper. I was insulted.

Explaining that I had a lot going on in my life (mother’s stroke, dad’s death, son’s anxiety), I left with the “new” two-day curriculum binder in hand.

Self-Care

After losing my temper at NAMI OC, I knew I needed a break to pull myself together and bring myself down from irritable hypomania before the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) Women’s Mental Health panel discussion on the following Tuesday.

How did I recover? I left. Booked myself into a hotel in La Jolla Sunday through Wednesday and relaxed. Not everyone can do this. I realize that. But, it’s cheaper than psychiatric hospitalization.

Women in Mental Health

On the International Bipolar Foundation’s Women’s Mental Health Panel, I represented the mature women living with bipolar. Mental health activist and actor, Claire Griffiths, represented the perspective of a teenager. Aubrey Good, the Social Media and Program Coordinator of IBPF, represented the young adult perspective.

I had a wonderful time meeting IBPF staff and volunteers and loved being a part of their panel discussion. I hope to do more public speaking events in the future.

Success!

When I returned home Wednesday, my son had showered, dressed, fed himself, and was ready to take his first high school equivalency test. He passed. I never doubted his ability to pass the test.

BIG DEAL: He overcame his anxiety and didn’t get a migraine. Two days later, he took the next test despite migraine symptoms. He took migraine and nausea medications and faced his fear. Again, he passed.

Two down. Two to go. Moving Forward.

Connecting with Online Friends in Real Life

This weekend, Sarah Fader came into town. She managed to connect with several mental health advocates and writers over the weekend.

Sunday, we met with:

I never would have tried to visit so many people in such a short time!

Mini-Family Reunion

Sunday night had the pleasure of meeting my uncle, two of my cousins, their spouses and kids in Anaheim. Family. Love. Great food. Fireworks in the sky. Thank you!

I CAN Do It

Lesson Learned: If I take care of myself, I can achieve more AND so can my son.

Amazon Women Fight with Words

Amazon Women FIght with Words. Kitt O'Malley, Warrior. Sarah Fader, Coach.
Amazon women fight stigma with words.

Intuitive Coaching & Tarot Reading

Thank you, Sarah Fader, for your intuitive book coaching session and for being a wonderful, supportive, understanding, compassionate friend. Here are the notes from our Sunday, April 8th session, which actually was an intuitive Tarot card reading.

Notebook by bed. Wake up. One page of what thinking. Stream of consciousness. Take pic with phone. Post as blog post. Invite community to comment on it. Whoever can read it will give you insight.
Keep a notebook by my bed.

Notebook by bed. Wake up. One page of what thinking. Stream of consciousness. Take pic with phone. Post as blog post. Invite community to comment on it. Whoever can read it will give you insight.

Talk to self like talk to clients. Not perfection. In morning when first awake, you are free and sedated (sleepy, not quite awake). Actively dream. Take 250mg Mg (magnesium) (Sarah recommended Natural Calm, but it has calcium and my blood calcium was too high when I took supplements with calcium). Compassion. Take care of yourself. Self compassion. [NOT] inner critic road.
Exercise self-compassion. Quiet the inner critic.
Talk to self like talk to clients. Not perfection. In morning when first awake, you are free and sedated (sleepy, not quite awake). Actively dream. Take 250mg Mg (magnesium) (Sarah recommended Natural Calm, but it has calcium and my blood calcium was too high when I took supplements with calcium). Compassion. Take care of yourself. Self compassion. [NOT] inner critic road.

Kitt, I am so sorry you feel this way about you. I am deeply sorry that you feel this way about yourself. Read Sarah Fader's blog post about parenting an ODD child. Must look at self differently. Stop owning perceptions of other people of yourself.
Look at yourself differently. Stop owning other people’s perception of you.

Kitt, I am so sorry you feel this way about you. I am deeply sorry that you feel this way about yourself. Read Sarah Fader’s blog post about parenting an ODD child. Must look at self differently. Stop owning perceptions of other people of yourself.

Validate other's feelings. I'm doing the best I can. Kitt, you are a brilliant, talented, educated, wealthy person. Writer's Block: [memoir draft so far] banal, not you. You are telling a story that belongs to you. You are holding back because you are afraid to hurt people.
Writer’s Block: I hold back, for I fear hurting people
Validate other’s feelings. I’m doing the best I can. Kitt, you are a brilliant, talented, educated, wealthy person. Writer’s Block: [memoir draft so far] banal, not you. You are telling a story that belongs to you. You are holding back because you are afraid to hurt people.

Channel that part of yourself that wants to fight in your book [memoir not yet completed]. Put secrets in book. Will feel bad. Be prepared. Maybe depression. That's OK. BeReal. Stop therapizing yourself. Go back to that warrior part of yourself. Amazon woman. Fight with your words.
Amazon Woman, Fight with Your Words
Channel that part of yourself that wants to fight in your book [memoir not yet completed]. Put secrets in book. Will feel bad. Be prepared. Maybe depression. That’s OK. BeReal. Stop therapizing yourself. Go back to that warrior part of yourself. Amazon woman. Fight with your words.

Sarah Fader: Parenting a Special Needs Child

Guest Post by Sarah Fader

Being the parent of a child with special needs is inherently difficult. But when it comes to a child who has mental health problems it is another echelon of challenges. I never imagined that my son would have special needs. But I guess nobody knows that they will have a child with special needs when they’re pregnant. There are exceptions to this rule. People find out that their child has downs syndrome or spina bifida or an obvious disability that can be detected in pregnancy. But mental health issues, that’s a different story. There are exceptions to this rule. People find out that their child has down syndrome or spina bifida or a very obvious disability that can be detected in pregnancy. But mental health issues, that’s a different story.

My psychiatrist told me there was a 6% chance that my son would develop depression; that was my first pregnancy and I had no idea what I was in for. I knew that my family had a genetic history of panic disorder, depression, OCD, and anxiety. So there was a good chance that one of my kids would develop one of these issues or something else that was mental health related.

But I was naïvely optimistic and thought it would not happen to my kids. When I first had Ari I was a new mom and figuring things out. The last thing on my mind was whether he would have mental illness. I was concerned with developmental milestones and the chance of him potentially having autism because that is what is stressed when you have a child. Even in the hospital they don’t talk about mental illness they talk about shaken baby syndrome. They talk about caring for your infant and making sure that you satiate that baby’s needs. Doctors warn you about postpartum depression and the baby blues but they don’t tell you about mental illness for your child.

So when my nine-year-old son started showing signs of OCD I was nervous. When my baby boy who wasn’t a baby anymore showed me that he needed help and was oppositional and had irritability and rage, I didn’t know what to do. There is an extended timeline in which things happened and I felt like they were out of my control.

What was out-of-control wasn’t me. The thing that I could not control was what was happening to my son. I was doing the best that I could I am doing the best that I can trying to find the doctors to help my kid. Trying to fight with the flawed mental health care system and find out what it is that he needs and how I can provide that to him. But I am one person and asking my friends for help is getting exhausting for me and for them. I don’t want to be a burden on others. I don’t want to ask for something that people can’t give. All I want is for my son to find peace. I want him to live a life where he feels like he can be himself.

Speaking out about what I’ve been dealing with has been difficult because I faced much judgment from people online when I share my struggles. As the founder of a mental health nonprofit organization it is bizarre to me that people would criticize me talking about mental health issues even as it relates to my family and more specifically my child. Would people be angry if I was discussing my child diabetes? Would people be upset if I was talking about a child that had cancer? Mental illness is just as it indicates, an illness.

I’m writing this for every parent who has a child who is dealing with mental health issues. You are not alone and you don’t have to stay silent. You can do what you need to do to use your voice. You can be private about these issues or you can speak out. You can internalize them or you can tell the truth in whatever way you need to: whether that’s in your journal, call friends and family, or speak about it online. There is no right answer to this struggle. Just know that your experience is valid and your feelings are real. I’m listening. We should all be listening to your story, because one in four people in this country have a mental illness and one of them is my child.

Sarah Fader 10 Step Depression Workbook

Sarah Fader is the co-author of The CBT-based 10 Step Depression Relief Workbook, which is available on Amazon. She is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.

www.sarahfader.com