I need to get Naked right now.

I need to get Naked right now.

I need to get Naked right now.

10 Nov 2019

My joints feel stiff, I need to crack them, but they won’t crack. It feels like sandpaper, every time I roll my wrists and ankles are being rubbed with sandpaper, every time, I roll my ankle and wring my wrists to try and release the relentless tension. Until POP my ankle pops and the pain is epic and my foot is swollen because I have just damaged my tendon but I still haven’t released the tension in any of my joints so I continue on with the process over and over and over and over….

My Clothes are too tight, they are getting tighter what the fuck I can’t get comfortable, why do my clothed feel like they are choking me. I can’t get comfortable I need to move maybe this position. Nope. Fuck these clothes are killing me…. ARGGGHHH.

*Stands up, muttering swear words goes to the bedroom takes clothes of and stands like a star fish then puts all the clothes back on and goes back to the lounge*

What I just described is something I go through often. Sometimes its severe and sometimes its just enough to piss me off. Although its kind of funny to think that a grown man can’t handle having his clothes on, because he thinks they are trying to choke him so he strips naked just to put his clothes back on, it can be quite a bad symptom of being mentally ill. It is a feeling of relentless restlessness that causes repetitive movements without a person wanting to do it.

PSYCOMOTOR AGITATION

Yep it has a name, a psychological misfire that causes your motor functions to produce useless movement and tension. It can take many forms, some more severe than others. It involves repetitive, purposeless or unintentional movements or behaviours. These movements happen in response to the growing anxiety in our bodies produced by the feelings of restlessness that are unable to be stopped.

ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS

Psychomotor agitation (PA) is an extremely common symptom of people who are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and will affect the person differently depending on if they are in a Manic, Depressed or Mixed State. PA can also be a good indicator that a person who suffers from suicidal ideation and behaviour isn’t currently coping, we can use these behaviours to help us predict when friends and family who suffer from suicidal ideation need us the most.

Psychomotor Agitation can also affect people from a range of other conditions including;

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Panic Attacks, General Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Schizophrenia and Dementia

SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHOMOTOR AGITATION (PA)

Some common symptoms of PA are;

Unable to sit still, Stiff body, unable to relieve tension, desperately trying to find a comfortable position, becoming increasingly anxious, irritable and tearful.

These symptoms can cause a person suffering from PA to;

Pace around the room, wring hands, tap fingers and feet, fidget, start or stop a task abruptly, talk very fast, move objects for no reason and take their clothes off and put them back on.

MANAGEMENT OF PSYCHOMOTOR AGITATION

The best way to manage your Psychomotor agitation is to seek professional help from your Doctor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist. They will not only determine the cause of the issue, they will give you the best advice on how to manage it.

Some common treatments for PA are;

Drug therapies, psychotherapy, regular exercise, yoga and meditation and deep breathing exercises.

Many of you reading, this could possibly be the first time you’ve been able to put a name to the behaviours you’ve done for many years. Some of you may already have heard the term. But know that many of us who suffer with mental illnesses go through the same thing and you’re not alone on this one. As annoying and sometimes as painful as it can be, we can minimise its effects Psychomotor Agitation has on our body and our mind giving us that little bit better quality of life that we all strive for being mentally ill.

Now if you excuse me, I need to go rip of my clothes, do a few star jumps and get dressed again.

I see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy.

I see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy.

I see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy.

3 Nov 2019

Hi, I’m Emma and I see a therapist.

As I write this, I wonder how many of you reading this reacted with the thought ‘why is she telling me this?’.

I am telling you because a workplace conversation inspired it.  What is seemingly normal for me, creates reactions of either a wry smile or a look of astonishment of wondering why I would divulge such intimate details of my personal life. 

The conversation started with a concerned co-working who was worried about a relative asking me ‘How do I help my family member?’.  The description of behaviours provided to me indicated an anxiety issue, but I am not a doctor, so I merely provided the family member with steps to take to enable the person to get the assistance they require.

As most of you would be aware there is large focus on mental health amongst society.  It is almost like the world has woken up suddenly and said hey this is a real problem.  We tell people to talk, but then what? Asking if someone is ok and talking is merely the tip of the iceberg.  We are expecting people to be open about their struggles and yet we struggle to hide our reactions when someone openly admits to seeing a therapist or being mentally ill. 

I am not weak, and I am not ‘crazy’, but I do experience depression and anxiety.  I am currently benefiting from the assistance of medication and regular therapy sessions, because my mind and body are tired, tired from my own experiences and traumas as well as being a full-time carer for a mentally ill husband for over a decade.  The last 2 years have had some major life stressors, I am not going into details today, that will take another blog or two (but if you must know, have a look at some of the blogs written by Ben and check out all his crazy).  But these stressors have depleted my serotonin stores, so much so, that it was affecting my day to day life.

I am the first to admit it took me a while before I got the help I needed, mainly because I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t seem to fit within the typical definition of depression and anxiety.  I was what you would call a high functioning depressive.  Sure, I got out of bed each day and went to work but that was purely driven by the fact that if I didn’t push through my son wouldn’t eat.  The inner monologue was and sometimes still is very dark and negative, but that’s why I go to therapy.  So, for now my medication and therapist are an essential item, but I am more than ok with that.

I like to think I am strong enough to admit life gets hard, more than hard, it gets down right fucked and our bodies take a hit.  Tell me, would you try and drive your car with 2 flat tyres and a fill oil light on?  No! So why would you do that to your own body?

Talking about seeing a therapist should be as normal as seeing your doctor.  I understand the current conditions in health care treat seeing a therapist as a luxury, But I am working with the Grey Space to change this.  I hope that sooner rathe than later, I see a movement among our society where we can have a conversation and it normal to say “I haven’t been up to much just the usual work, kids and seeing my therapist’…

I hope that this blog will inspire you to stand up and say ‘I see a therapist’ or better yet, ‘I am on medication AND see a therapist’ but I know baby steps… Honestly I want us all to wear it like a badge of honour, that we were proactive of taking care of our mental health and loving ourselves enough to get help.

Written by:

Emma Kaye | ©emmakayerussoniello2019 | ©thegreyspaceorganisationlimited2019

Medication, Recovery and the discovery of Emotion.

Medication, Recovery and the discovery of Emotion.

9 Oct 2019

Over the years I have been told many things about my emotions, nice things. You know things like you are heartless, you have no emotions and my personal favourite you are not capable of love.

Annnd it would all be true. Sure, there must have been some parts in my life I was able to show real emotion and empathy, right? I mean I have had a few meaningful relationships, didn’t I?

Hard to know looking back, I was largely un-medicated…. who am I kidding I was never medicated a day in my life before recently….. So, I doubt there was much true emotion. I mimicked Pain, love, happiness and I am almost certain my only true emotions where Angry and horny…

I believe I cared about people, but I do not know if I truly loved anyone until I held my son for the first time. Love is a connection and my son was a part of me and I could feel that connection for the first time. My Bipolar and subsequent incarceration made short work of that connection. Damn near broke it off.

It’s now September 2019 and for the first time in my entire life I am properly medicated and slowly building my life back after the Glorious episode that destroyed everything in my life from friendships to my marriage and which nearly took my life. Id had enough, the mess that was left was too much and I was going to get better for myself for the first time ever. As the medication starts to work and the chemicals in my brain start to be a little more balanced a whole new set of challenges start coming up. The first one is a pain in my ass, managing the grogginess of the medication is proving difficult. But there is also another strange thing ive never experienced before. A few weeks ago, a boy took his own life in the town that I live in. I didn’t know this boy, or his family and I don’t think I even have any mutual friends. Usually I would have seen the news and said something like “that’s sad, got to feel for his parents”. But instead I ended up feeling so overwhelmed with sadness I found myself literally crying. Sadness, helplessness and self-reflection in this young boys’ actions to find his peace. I was assured that this is normal to feel sadness when something like this happens. But for me its new. I am now navigating a whole new world of emotion, connection and feeling that ive never had to before.

The medications taking away the noise in my head so much that its able to start having some human function for the first time. I still most definitely have manic, depressive and mixed episodes. There is always that time bomb of an episode that medicated or not that could put me in hospital or destroy everything ive been working  towards. But for now, I am opening myself up to these new human feelings, emotions and connections. Rebuilding that connection with my son has been an amazing triumph for me. These connections are now extending out to others in my life who for some reason are still here, supporting me and loving me.

I continue to move forward in my recovery, I continue to take my medications and to see my doctor, my psychologist and my psychiatrist on a regular basis. And although recovery is in it self hard, and my medication makes groggy and unable to get up in the mornings. I am thankful for the ability it is giving me to not only feel emotions and have empathy but the ability the entire process is giving me to be able to process what I’m feeling a million times better than I have ever been able to in my almost 34 years of life.

To medication, therapy, recovery and the discovery of emotion and what it means to be human I am grateful.

Written by:

Ben Russoniello | ©benrussoniello2019

Friday the 13th. Obsession and 11:11

Friday the 13th. Obsession and 11:11

Friday the 13th. Obsession and 11:11

13 Sep 2019

Today I opened my Facebook to a myriad of Friday the 13th posts. Personally, I have no beefs with the number 13 and as far as I know 13 has no beefs with me. I like 13 that much I flew to Europe on Friday the 13th.  There is a lot of numbers out there that people either love or loathe and even movies made about obsessions with numbers and the Friday the 13th posts reminded me about experience with numbers and obsession.

Obsession

Being bipolar I can be obsessive and obsess over and over on something that my minds created, people hate me, she’s cheating on me, my son thinks I’m a shit dad.  I have some little recurring number obsessions as well, my main one is that on a volume control I need to have it on an even number. Most people close to me know about this stupid little obsession but they pretty much all just accept it and when changing volumes, they make sure its always an even number. So, my number obsessions are nice and small, except this one time when It wasn’t and my life was consumed by the evil maniacal mother fucker, the number 11.

11:11

Now you all might see 11:11 and say make a wish or 11:11 means good luck. But at one point in my life this number quite literally made me break down and lose my mind. The number obsession started small, every time I’d look at the clock it was 11:11, being that there is only 2 x  11:11’s in 24 hours its safe to assume there was some delusion and hallucination involved which is something ive never thought about until just now. The more I thought about it’s the more the number showed up, I noticed it in books, articles, phone numbers and even car number plates. The more It showed up the more obsessed I became with the number. I started being a mathematician to numbers Id see add to 11. I would even count letters in words to make 11 to find some weird meaning.

As the obsession for the number 11 grew the rabbit hole got deeper and I’m pretty sure I was that crazy guy in the subway in the movies with a sign saying, “THE END IS NIGH”. I started to research the number 11, I was so obsessed over a god damn number. Out of the million and one answers for what was going on my obsessed mind found the darkest one there, the number 11 is a destructive number and it is the end of all things. The word destructive itself has 11 letters. 11 was going to be my demise and the end of the world. Now I’m not going to go into detail of what I found about the number 11 and the destructive powers ect because while writing this I have Goosebumps, shivers and a gut feeling of impending doom. And I am not entertaining this obsession again because its just a fucking number. Right?  I spoke to a person who follows numerology it made it worse. I think I may have spoken to my dad about it because for some reason I ended up talking to his good mate Mick about it, I don’t remember how or why or what was said during that call but my obsession stopped not long after that and I went back to normal… or at least as normal as a bipolar mid mania could have been. That experience of obsession is something I never wish to experience again. It took over my life, my thoughts and I swear if I dreamt it would have consumed those as well.

Obsession needs management.

Obsession still creeps into my life now and a gain and fucks with me sometimes a social or work thing I’ve fixated on recently I fixated on the progress of another not for profit, I know it isn’t a competition but my mind still fixated until I removed the things fuelling my obsession over it. But more often it is a numbers thing I have that recurring obsession over the volume level always being on an even number. Unfortunately, it’s just part of having Bipolar and because Bipolar will never ever go away this battle with obsession is going to keep on coming back and so management is the only thing we can do to keep it under control.

We manage obsession the best we can, by identifying it early and removing things that stimulate the obsession social media is the worst for fuelling obsession. Distraction, meditation and mindfulness are all tools we can use to keep obsession under wrap. But we need to accept that it is what it is, we are going to have obsessions because of our illness and that’s ok. Learning to accept and manage obsession and our illness in general is the best way to contain our inner subway nutter.

Written by:

Ben Russoniello | ©benrussoniello2019

Mental health and mental illness. What’s the difference?

Mental health and mental illness. What’s the difference?

Mental health and mental illness. What’s the difference?

3 Sep 2019

Currently in Australia we have a mental health crisis. Mental health is “trending”.  Situational anxiety and depression are focused on massively by all the big mental health organisations, as more and more people are being diagnosed with situational depression and anxiety. We are encouraged to talk to our friends and families and look out for our friends. And yes, we should be doing this because connection is something that as humans we crave. However, Suicide rates are through the roof whilst we live in a time where mental health has such a massive focus and awareness.

Mental health can deteriorate quickly due to situations surrounding a person. Our mental health can be fragile if not looked after. Self-care is a must. Unfortunately, life can throw some epic curve balls. The mental health space spends millions and millions to help us stay aware of the people around us and their mental health especially in hard times. And the focus on situational anxiety and depression is huge and rightfully so as 1 in 5 Australians or roughly 4.8 million people will have some sort of short-term mental health issue in their lifetime. But is bad mental health a mental illness?

You probably all just said what’s the difference and it’s something we are all guilty of thinking. However mental health and mental illness although linked and can both be extremely hard to deal with are in fact different.

The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders defines mental illness as “A syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individuals cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour that reflects dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental processes underlying mental function” basically we are talking about diagnosed disorders such as major depressive disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental illness that is predominantly long term and will never go away.

These disorders are debilitating even when well managed. Even management can be its own burden, as it involves countless appointments with 3 or 4 different medical / mental health professionals, as well as being chained to the chemist. Mental illnessin Australia affects roughly 8% of the population in total with affective disorders like OCD, PTSD and bipolar 1 affecting 1% bipolar 2 affecting 5% (1,438,138.38 people) and schizophrenia effecting 2% (479,379.46 people). The numbers being so low in comparison to mental health instances means these more severe types of mental illness are left behind when it comes to funding and research.

Mental health on the other hand touches that 1 in five or 4.8 million we spoke about earlier, it is our everyday mental well-being, our full range of emotions, thoughts and feelings from good all the way down to bad. Mental health refers to our happiness, fulfillments, how we feel about ourselves and how we manage problems. It also refers to our relationships / social connections and our interaction with what is happening in the world around us. Basically, mental health is something that every person on earth deals with to some degree. Which is why there are so many organisations promoting awareness for mental health. We have these organisations promoting the awareness because it can end in tragedy as we well know from current suicide rates

We should all take steps to look after ourselves. If you are mentally ill like me, we need to do all the things that help us to live well with our illness. As much as all the appointments start to feel too much, they are what keeps us out of hospital and well managed. Every psychologist appointment, psychiatrist appointment, GP appointment, the daily medications, plus the lifestyle adjustments we do to keep us well, it may but hard, but it is worth it.

And for those of us who are mentally well, going to a mental health professional to have a general mental wellbeing check-up is just as important. At these check-ups you will be given tools to help manage the stress and day to day issues life throws at us. Kind of like taking our probiotics or multi vitamins.  No one questions someone supplementing their diet so why not supplement our thinking and emotional minds with psychological tools. Having these tools to help you think differently or approach problems in a way you’ve never thought about before can have positive outcomes for your wellbeing, your family and your productivity.

Looking after ourselves, practicing self-care and getting mental health check ups once or twice a year doesn’t make you mentally ill it makes you proactive, so you can live a happy healthy and mentally well life.

Written by:

Ben Russoniello | ©benrussoniello 2019 | ©thegreyspaceprganisationlimited2019

References:

American psychiatric association, 8 July 2018, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental Disorders, 5th Edition | http:/www.health.gov.au