Considering how prevalent mental illness is, why do so few bloggers talk about it?

The aim of this blog is to write about my experience with mental illness, developments in my life as well as issues in the field of mental health all the while keeping a feminist framework.

I hope you can take something from this blog, whatever that may be.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some last Blogathon Information

The Mood Disorders Society of Canada

The MDSC are the principal national advocates in Canada for people living with depression, bipolar disorder and related mood disorders.They have:-international linkages through GAMIAN International and the IIMHL (International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership) and ISAD (International Society for Affective Disorders).-provincial linkages with mood disorders associations and other regional and local organizations who have similar mandates and are delivering services “on the ground”.Their focused advocacy activities have been quite effective because they are a smaller organization that is determined to have a long term impact on health and social policies as they relate to mental illnesses.They have worked with Health Canada; Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Corrections Canada; Canadian Institutes of Health Research and other health research organizations to advocate for more research in the field of mental illnesses.With regard to gender issues they have emphasized the concerns of depression in women and in particular post partum depression and have had meetings with Health Canada’s Women’s Issues Group and CIHR Institute of Gender to encourage more research.They are also working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, advocating for a national mental health strategy.Most importantly: Fundraising is far more difficult for mental health organizations than it is for cancer, diabetes or other chronic illnesses. Unlike these causes, pink ribbons or runs or walks are less appealing because of the silence surrounding these issues. It is up to us to ensure that these illnesses are recognized, researched and the people who have them, are spoken for.

"Funny" Blogathon Moments (not all of them were that funny... I was just tired)

07:00 "Did you leave the Kettle on?"
-Right after I wrote the entry about the bus ad "Did you leave the iron on?" I proceeded to put a kettle of water on stove and proceeded to walk away from it and take a shower! What the hell? It was a quick 5 minute shower but not the smartest choice I made... Guess I deserved the karma burns.. ha
07:20 "How many more times can I burn myself on this Kettle!!! Damn Kettle!"
-I picked up the boiling kettle from the stove and was pouring the water when the lid came off and touched my finger... ouch! I put it down and picked it up again this time with a cloth... the lid tipped off yet again but I said "ah ha! I have bested you kettle!!" But then the steam which rose from the open top scalded my wrist! Damn you Kettle!(no serious injuries were had.. just a funny way to make coffee)
14:14 "bread in my eye!"
Because my desk and computer are right next to the kitchen I was watching as my partner was making a snack. he took something out of the microwave (which is within reach which is nice for re-heating my coffee) and when he took off the plastic wrap, a bread crumb caught the wind from my fan and proceeded to fly straight into my eye! what a fluke
21:45 "Baaaaaa"
So I am lying belly down on my kitchen counter trying to sound like a sheep while I look at my boyfriend through the fan that has been (trying) to keep me cool... I am channeling my inner little kid as I make my voice go all jagged by speaking into the turning wheel... Im looking at him as if I am so clever and funny until he says, "It only works if I am on that side of the fan, from this side your voice doesnt sound any different... oh didnt realise the physics of these things!
22:45 "gettin those creative juices flowing"
Feeling stumped and in need of some inspiration "I turn to haiku" (get it? like "I turn to you")Okay I must be tired now if I think this is funny.

Catching up on sleep is hard to do...

Ive noticed that many of the bloggers who took part in Saturday's blogathon have been holding off and posting since. I dont blame em! I myself have not posted as I have been just too tired. Plus I ran out of stuff to talk about!
I will begin posting again soon, hopefully today.
Have a good tuesday

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ta Da!

Well look at that! thats 24 hours baby!
Thanks to the gang at blogathon and to my sponsors and to mood disorders society of canada - because they are all awesome!
Now, I am off to bed, hope to hear from you all again soon

posted 6:00am!! on the dot!!

Haiku #10

Feminism is
a 4 syllable word that
I have trouble spelling

...okay that was really bad... and didnt even follow the rules of the Haiku (just as some of the others did not either!) my bed is calling!

posted 5:24

So close!!

I cant believe only an hour left! I honestly do not believe its been 23 hours...crazy!
I am definately loopy, and tired, and feeling a bit like I have a cold/sinus infection coming on, but I thought it would be much more difficult than it was. I thought my mood would interfere: that my anxiety would make me fixate on the vast quanitiy i was required to make and freeze me with that anticipation. I thought my depression would tear my entries apart and make me feel as if the posts were not worth anyone's time.
So i guess why i feel happy at hour 23 is because of its significance as a triumph for me!
I am going to continue collecting donations for the Mood Disorders Society of Canada for the next two days so I hope you will consider sponsoring me.

oh, dont worry im sure i have a couple more haiku's in me.. those are fun

posted 4:55

Haiku #9

'What doesn't kill you
will only make you stronger' ?
Stronger to punch you

posted 4:38

Haiku #8


Hurt so deep within
it claws its way up and out
tearing what was left

posted 3:52

3:30 and im not too asleep

Definately could use some sleep but I am surprised I am keeping 'er together so well. Knitting and watching queer as folk.
lucky to have some lightning to watch too... the rain is cooling things down a bit too
posted 3:26

Haiku #7

My palm
beige and burgandy
triangle, oval, round, square
describe my new hope?

posted 3:01

Fun with Feminism

What do you think?
posted 2:22

something fun

Have you heard of Sarah Haskins? She is fantastic: check her out


posted 1:55

Haiku Post #6

seven letters long
essential as food and air
for now and the rest

Reminds me of who
I am and will be again.
So she isnt lost

My Lover
You saved me last fall
Do you realise this truth?
I better myself for you

posted 1:35

what are you doing RIGHT NOW?

sitting on my big blue chair my knees up to my chin typing this sentence. I have a green ball of yarn next to me that is being worked into a neck warmer. above the yarn, on my desk is my book "the vampire choronicals collection" by anne rice. I just finished reading Interview with the Vampire, and the Vampire Lestat, now I am moving on to Queen of the Damned. On my desk is some tylenol for my chronic headaches, a glass of water, some vaseline for my parched lips and my cell phone.
Behing me my committed lover continues to play final fantasy. :)
now back to watching queer as folk
posted 1:03

Haiku post #5

My favorite part of having a disorder:

having an illness
lets me see how awkward you get
when i tell you so

posted 12:27

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Haiku post #4

"normal" people

You are so boring
you and 98%
of society

See, I have the gift
A gift of pessimism
(to the max it seems)

But what you dont see
is how blind you are to truth.
Look...the world is fucked!

Wait! these are your thoughts..
but then that would mean... you too
are not so 'normal'

posted 12:04

Haiku series #2 and #3


I once proclaimed, that
in which i trusted my brain
my life, was a hoax


Do you understand?
I know what it feels like in here
Can you try to see?

posted 11:29

haiku series #1

I hope I get this right... its 5/7/5 right? here goes nothing:

#1 Depression

It is strange to write
about that which causes pain
as you would a dove

posted 10:54

visits visits

Trying to make the rounds for some of my fellow blogathoners. I have been randomly selecting blogs so i can check em out. Its interesting to see the variety!

Im trying to post on others sites to motivate them, and it ends up motivating me too!

What's Up:

Nothing has changed much since my last what's up HOURS ago. Im still chillin at the computer, browsing the internet, listening to music, watching some Zim or knitting... My partner is still playing final fantasy... haha god hes funny

posted 10:30

A mental Illness themed movie I wont be watching

Donnie Darko
It looked like it would freak me out, from what I hear about it I think it would freak me out, and considering my friend said 'itll make you question your sanity, you wont like' I dont think ill be watching it anytime soon.
I hear its one of those movies you have to see... am i really missing out?
poster 9:59

The best theme song ever

Please go and watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgzZ2Ta0EpA

I promise you will not regret it.

This was definiately my favorite show as a kid. Now when I look back at it I am slightly horrified for it does give very poor messages to young girls, i mean they are walking and talking barbie dolls....

BUT, if you look at Jerrica/Jem and her friends they are successful, independant women who care about others and want to make a difference in the lives of other women and girls. That seems pretty fantastic to me. Jerrica and her alter ego Jem work together to become independant successful rock stars while maintaining good relationships with friends and her orphan children who they take under their wings. There are the men in the stories, but they seem almost more dependant and needy than the women.

I think Jem is a great character... and i dressed up as her two halloweens ago, a pink wig is ALWAYS a good time.

Now lets all rock out to that theme again!
posted 9:31

Senior depression

I have a complicated relationship with my grandparents. I love them to the very depths of my heart. COming from a family that never lived near relatives 'family' equalled my parents and sibling... when I had no family near they came to represent 'family' and I continue to see them this way. They could love me in such a silent yet powerful way it still brings tears to my eyes.

When my Grandpa died in December I was crushed. I still am crushed. Added to that I am concerned with my Grandma's mental health. When months after his dealth she suddenly stopped washing her hair and would go back to bed during the day I was worried. it was like she finally gave in to those feelings.
Now she is in an assisted living apartment - which is good for her low mobility - but I still worry. How do I talk to her about it? If a friend seemed to be depressed I like to think I would intervene... but I dont think I can do this for my Grandma. Maybe I am worried about upsetting her because mental illness is very taboo for her generation, maybe im afraid of the potential awkwardness or even anger that could result... but I think I am so hesitant because if I talk to her about it... It becomes real. I cannot deny this health problem. My absolute desperation to keep her safe in my world is threatened by talking about it.
Our relationship is very complicated. I am finding ways to work with what I can do (emotionally) to reach the same goals. Now when I have time at work, I write and send her hand written letters. We live in the same city, but I like to imagine her reading them and its like we are spending that quality time together without all the worries I have, some how they are just not present... they are not invited to the paper party!
Senior depression is a very important topic because of how widespread it is and the high suicide rate. I feel assured that living with others will really help now that grandpa is gone. Plus I have a feeling grandpa is there with her, he wouldnt want to miss out on all the people he could joke around with!
posted 9:03

a little bit lighter now...

something fun for all you out there feeling the lull....
watch it!

do you even remember what it was like before youtube? same with google.. what did you do when you were bored? how did you find out information?

posted 8:28

better than..

A note from ME: to prevent people from reading something they may feel uncomfortable with I am giving a: *small content warning: In this post I mention, very briefly, my past suicidal idealization*

Getting on board with a dr you trust who you feel will work WITH you to find something that works is much better than self medication. Ive done both. The former is better, productive and is a long term solution. The latter is selfish, lazy and only short term. That being said, I am a self medicator.... absolutely.
self medication comes from a lack of coping skills. I do not have coping skills! This fact was pretty apparent this last time 'round. Having promised my psychiatrist I wouldn't medicate with alcohol or pot (as I had in the past) I started smoking cigarettes and changed my relationship with food (either 'eating my emotions' as I like to call it, or restricting my food.) I was also engaging in other addictive behaviour I wont go into here because its not something I want to talk about, but I mention it becuase there are many different ways one can become addicted. I smoked because it centred me, gave me something to focus all my attention on in that moment. Restricting food game me something to think about all day long - when you have hunger pains, they remind you to think of food, when you are thinking of food, you are not thinking about suicide. eating my emotions gave me pleasure. It got me where I needed to go: out of the dangerous place
When it comes to safety, Whatever will keep you safe is what you should do. Once you are safe, however, then you have to get your butt in gear.
My trend has been to replace one bad coping mechanism with another. That is something I am still working on. Recognizing that is what I am doing has been important because when i begin to behave that way I know something is wrong... even if i didn't realise it before... its a good detection device... an early warning system.

How do you cope?

posted 8:07

drugs.. the 'good' kind

As mentioned, this is my longest episode of depression to date. 13 months far exceeds my other stints (6-8 months on average). This is also the first time I have even done the psychotherapy + drugs route. currently I am still on the drugs and they are still being adjusted but I have stopped going to therapy. It was good that I had it to get me through the worst of it (It is very good that I had someone professional at that time) but i have in a sense given up on it for now. Ive been to a lot of therapy and it has helped me to communicate and be aware of myself much better but I think ive reached its maximum benefits.
Currently I am on two kinds of anti-depressants, an anti-convulsant (used to treat bipolar though in this case hypomania) and an antipsychotic (in this case for mood and hypomania). I have decided to switch the antipsychotic becuase it is like I have taken a heavy sleeping pill when I have one of those.
My drugs are always fluxuating, and while im glad to have a psychiatrist who specializes in this, at the same time I am like "can you make up your mind already and give me somethng that works?"
I have a lot more familiarity with the self medication that is fast acting! but more on that later

posted 7:31

Direct me!

I am wondering in which direction I should go.. are people interested in hearing about more of my personal experience? [prescriptions? self medication? what Ive learned about myself? what i have learned about other? what i have learned about doctors? what Ive learned about the world?]

Should I go towards the academic info? (I do have some interesting stuff here)

I dont want to go into feminism on its own, see the my favorite sites I posted this morning for feminist stuff as they are great sources!

Let me know!
posted 7:00

half way!

Well we are over half way there! Cant believe how fast the day goes when you think in 30 minute intervals! I hope I can keep 'er going.
I am worried that my headaches and general drowsiness (from my mono-esk illness) wont keep me down. I am glad I have my up late partner with me. (he is still playing final fantasy.. hes been doing it since I started blogging! If only there was a gamer-athon... but does it count if it is something you would do anyway?)
I decided to do Blogathon as a way to really get my blog going... having just created it I was worried it would be only a manic-y impulse that I would later disregard... I hope this investment will keep it closer to my heart!
I also thought it was a great chance to meet people and see some new blogs. All of that ontop of raising money for a good cause.

If you havent already, please check out my organization: the mood disorders society of canada and sponsor me!

posted 6:29

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This form of depression is characterised by its routinized episodes. Generally episodes begin in late fall- early winter and last until spring. Thought to be caused by the lack of sun exposure (and therefore the lack of regulation of melatonin) it can be treated by phototherapy. The bright light mimics the suns rays and helps to restore balance.
SAD is particularly relevant for Canada as we have a large population living in the northern part of our country. I do not know the rates for countries in Northern Europe or Asia but I know that rates are higher in Canada than most (of course I cant remember now where I read that!)
My friend had SAD. She has a light box that she uses and she will sometimes go to the tanning salon (which was recommended to her by her doctor!) to get those rays she needs. I have always been jealous and bitter about those with SAD... it seems to me that they have such an 'easy' solution. But of course it is not as simple as that! I hear the light bulbs for those things are really expensive, plus you need the time to actually sit down and be around that light for a significant amount of time. Time and money plays a factor here. as with any treatment time, money, availability are huge factors in recovery. (more on that later)

posted 6:03

Takin' er easy

Watching Lady Gaga for a bit of a break
check out what Im watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAHfJsqalks

I have a crush on her. While I dont normally admit to liking pop, the thing about her is that she is actually saying something DIFFERENT (in pokerface at least). In pokerface she is talking about deception in regard to women deceiving men for sex... now I am not condoning it, but it is very refreshing to see a woman taking control of her sexuality in this way. Plus, the way she responded to crude comments was brilliant! check this out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxHTtNWdAns

Her comments about fantasizing about women while making love to her boyfriend are actually quite subversive. This is unfortunately, but predictably, lost to the men that are shown reacting to this statement. Our current fetish with lesbians and the idea of bisexual women as being sexual only for the purpose of a male audience removes the power of her statement and the audience is particularly distracted by the men whose faces read "oh lesbian sex is hot"

posted 5:34


Triggers can mean a lot of things to different people. To me they mean two things:
1. Something that triggers flashbacks to my sexual assault.
2. something that triggers an episode of depression or symptoms in general if i am already depressed.

My main trigger for depression has always been my family. if I go back and think what was going on in my life before the episode, there has ALWAYS been a familial factor at play. I am a very sensitive and I am sympathetic and emphathetic to a fault. As a kid I remember seeing a senior sitting in a McDonalds reading the paper and wanting to cry because they were alone. My mom told me that it was okay that they were alone but i thought it was the sadest thing in the world. Still as an adult I know to turn away from fighting couples or depressed looking people. A (selfish) choice I have made for my wellbeing. I have a very hard time being around people when they have depressive symptoms (too close to home) and this goes even for my partner
My family members are not this way at all, therefore we have a severe clash when it comes to what we consider showing love and support is. Arguements or demonstrations of this clash have triggered all my episodes. Currently I am on the last bits of the longest episode I have ever had. It has been 13 months now. Normally my episodes last 6-8 months but this one was a bit different:

-my parents moved to the city
-I was diagnosed with 2 other disorders
-I finally stoped denying the severity of my disorder(s) and that I would deal with it all my life
-My grandpa died: a topic that has become a trigger

These factors really postponed my recovery and I can tell that I am going to be in limbo here (between a healthy mindset and depression) for a while because my symptoms are interacting with my triggers and keeping me down. My parents now live in the city (they moved here 14 months ago... see the trigger there?) and my thoughts of my grandparents (how much I miss him and how much I worry for her) are never far out of my mind.

Knowing what your triggers are is VERY important. Problem with me is that I cannot cut my family out of my life (honestly, if I could, I would... if they were friends they would be cut...but they are family) so I have to deal with that trigger on a very regular basis and have yet to find a way to manage it.

posted 4:59

Movies that make me question my sanity #3

Vanilla Sky

This movie is the reason why I stopped watching movies that make you question your sanity. This movie really freaked me out! I watched it with my grade 12 boyfriend one night. He fell asleep and I ended up watching most of it by myself. The ending freaked me out and I tried to wake him up just to regroup (you know, like watching cartoons after a horror movie?) and he wouldnt wake up (he would complain about me waking him up and roll over). So here I am, alone with my thoughts, thinking "is this world real? am I imagining all this..." didnt sleep well thats for sure!

Even just looking at the poster gives me the heebs (as in heeby jeebies). but who knows, maybe that just tom cruise...
posted 4:32

What do psychiatric hospitals look like today?

I am looking forward to a movie that is situated in the present. All I know of what psychiatric hospitals are from movies such as "House of Fools" discussed earlier. Set in decades back it would not be a fair representation of hospitals today. But it was portrayed as dirty, outdated and overcrowded.
This picture is the kind of thing I think of when I think back to the 'dark ages' and the Bethlam Hospital. This was the time when patients were used to attract tourists: the rich would pay to come and see the 'insane'. The methods of 'treatment' were horrendous and included much violence to the body.
What do you think of when you hear 'psychiatric hospital'?
posted 3:59

Shows with mentally ill characters: the good

I love Dexter, the show and the character (I have such a crush on that anti-hero). For those of you who have never seen the HBO show, it stars Dexter, a guy who can easily be described as a psychopath. Since a young age he has had the symptoms of conduct disorder and later, antisocial personality disorder (the technical term for what is commonly known as psychopathology.) Because his father saw how violent his tendencies where he began to teach Dexter how to express that inner violence without getting caught (and institutionalized and hence taken away from his family). Now Dexter is grown and is a blood spatter analysis working for the police who is also a serial killer (of violent criminals only). It is surprisingly funny

When i first started watching it I couldnt help but be like "that would never happen, those with ASPD dont have a sex drive... they dont have feelings like that" bla bla bla.... seems the text book got the best of me.
Dexter shows a different side to severe mental illness. Dexter allows people to see a different side of the people living with such conditions. Once I was able to get past the fact that Dexter does not fit the text book DSM description of ASPD I was able to appreciate so much more the complexity of the character. It reflects life so well: We are often typecast as 'the mentally ill' but we are more than our diagnoses! We are complex too.

-disclaimer: Dexter is ridiculously and horrifically graphic and violent... but I think the good out ways the bad... though as a huge fan of the show... i am a bit biased!

posted 3:36

Shows with Mentally Ill characters: the bad

Criminal Minds:
While I enjoy this show (my mom and I use to watch 'Profiler' when I was like 7 and thats what I wanted to be, until I found out I would have to take lots of science classes!) it gives horrible portrayals of the mentally ill! the first season was especially bad because every 'bad guy' had some sort of disorder.
This show gets thumbs down for encouraging the stereotype that those people with mental disorders are violent.

posted 3:01

Whats up? Post

Heres a check in of 'whats up and going on around me'
-its hot and humid: wearing only a bra and pj nighty around my waist.
-two fans in the room, one pointed directly at me and blowing wind in my ear which kinda hurts, the other pointed toward my partner. for a funny fan story, see the side bar with 'funny blogathon moments'
-my partner is directly behind men playing video games... final fantasy (cant remember which one) in sweatpants.
-drinking artificial lemonade (from drink powder... yuck) cause drinking just water makes me feel kinda nauseated so I have to flavour my water just a touch.
-trying to get my new camera to hook up to my computer....
I am sure in twelve hours this list will be much more entertaining!
posted 2:25

Do you suffer from a mental illness?

I know I do. I suffer.

I know some people like more empowering terms ('living with mental illness', an idea I found on here) but I am not in a place in my life where I can speak of it in these ways.
Bringing my knowledge of feminism and anti-sexual violence activism I know some people have begun identifying as 'sexual assault survivors' to remove the lack of agency implied by 'victim'. I myself have chosen to use the word 'victim' because I want to emphasize the fact that it is a crime: in a crime there is a perpetrator and a victim, and I was the victim of sexual assault. But of course everyone is different. It is important to find the words to describe yourself/experience that feel right for you.

Back to 'living with' vs 'suffering from' discussion, I hope that one day I will be more accepting of my disorder(s) so i can work WITH them not against them. But where I am now is very far from that goal.

posted 2:02

Movies that make me question my sanity #2

#2 Fight Club: spoiler alert
Just as in Beautiful Mind the audience is submerged into a world where all is not as it seems. Unlike Beautiful Mind where the audience is an outsider looking in to the world and experiences of a mental disorder, Fight Club includes you for the ride.
Here you are the mentally ill character, and you, like the character dont even know it! Like I mentioned in my last post, i think it is true that a first episode or series of symptoms of a disorder one has never had experience with will probably go unnoticed. It will seem perfectly normal. With this movie you get such an experience (though it is a movie and you can step away from it to a certain extent as you do not have to continue living as that character afterwards).
I have already done the... "oh wow, now that I think of it, all those feelings and behaviour were due to this illness, and I didnt even know!"... so I dont need to do it again, thank you!

posted 1:31

So what do you have?

Can I sum up what I 'have', or if we want to be nicer, what I have been 'diagnosed with' - not really. But I know that my life is affected by my diagnose(s)
If you are new to my blog you may notice I continually writer disorder with an 's' in bracketts. Im my experience, my doctors LOVE to diagnose me all different kinds of things. I know I have depression, I sometimes have hypomanic impulses, and I struggle with addiction (or at least avoiding my addictive nature) plus i have a multitude of relationship problems which could suggest Borderline Personality Disorder, BUT I Know I do not fit into one category, Nor do I accept every diagnoses I have been given. I know that the doctors may think one 'symptom' is much more significant while I think others may be. In the end I define how I see myself (though their are limits - see my earlier post) in regard to the problems I have.
Unfortunatly, this way of looking at things doesnt always help. My doctors have always been pretty stuborn. When they think they 'know' what is going on, nothing I say is going to change their mind. Same with family and friends: when I told my parents I was going through another bout of depression my dad said to me, "If you think you're depressed, then your not". He thought that if I was depressed then I wouldnt/couldnt recognize it. I think this can be true for one's first episode -I had no idea!- but once you've had some experience it is really important to be able to recognize what is happening. Now I try and keep my eye out for all of my 'tendencies'. I look out for new episodes of depression (the biggest of my problems and most long lasting); feelings of hypomania which are few, but still important; my tendency to turn to all kinds of addicitive substances/behaviour when I am struggling and my relationship destroying behaviour (the 'reject them before they reject you' senario)

The DSM (the diagnostic statistical manual: the book they use to diagnose mental illness) has not, does not, and will not describe me as an individual.
posted 12:59

Stats and more stats

Did you know that the likelihood people with mental illness will be victims of a crime is 2.5 times that of the general population?
What a scary statistic. We are a vulnerable group, especially because our legal rights can be taken away from us when we are severely ill (or perceived to be severely ill). Having caretakers also increases the risk of victimization as you will see if you look up the stats on senior violence in and out of care homes.
As a victim of sexual assault I am at greater risk for further victimization not only for sexual violence but other forms of violence as well (another well established statistic).

As a woman (the great majority of the people sexually assaulted) and as a person with a disorder I have a much higher risk of victimization than others. I thought it was an interesting overlap in the 'risks' associated with MI and with womanhood. ha it makes me think of a commercial "side affects of womanhood may include...."

Intersecting identities is a very important area of feminist thought that I have become more and more concerned with... perhaps more later!

posted 12:29

Watch your words

How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm so depressed" when something very minute has happened... "oh I have to work this weekend... im so depressed"
Well this is insensitive to the experience of those with clinic (and subclinical) depression (of all kinds). What erks me much more, however, is the misuse of the words 'schizophrenic', 'schizo', and 'schizophrenia'
[Ill come back to the problematic aspects of each of these words in a future post]

At least when the word 'depressed' is used in the context of disapointment, and sadness it is being used 'correctly' to reference these feelings, however insensitive the use may be. With 'schizophrenic', however, it is rarely used correctly.
It is used to denote actions that seem to be alternate or contradict: ex "she asked me to go to the store but then yelled at me not to spend money, holy schizo" People seem to think that multiple personalities and schizophrenia are the same thing.
First of all, its not Multiple Personalities it is called Dissociative Identity Disorder, and there is continued contraversy over whether or not it truly exists. Second, DID and Schizophrenia are very different disorders.

I say, if you are going to use a disorder to describe your feelings or stituations etc, and you want to do this even though it is insensitive to the expereinces of people with those disorders, at least use the correct reference! There is already enough misconceptions regarding mental illness with out you adding to it!

posted 11:58

Great Blogs

Here are some of the blogs I read on a frequent basis that give me my feminist-fix for the day. Check em out:
thecurvature.com (who is also blogathon-ing it up!)

Some new mental illness included blogs I have just been introduced to:

http://loopylou.co.uk/ (blogathon)
www.reneerigdon.com (blogathon)

If you have more suggestions of other great blogs, let me know! I am really interested in finding more MI themed blogs!

posted 11:29

Good mental illness themed movies #2

Seem to be on the movie kick so ill continue here:

#2 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Perhaps an obvious choice but I like it for very specific reasons. The portrayl of Chief Bromden, the tall and silent Aboriginal man, is why I like this movie. I feel it delves into some of the ways society can silence individuals. Being non-White, but more particularily, being Aboriginal in a country whose policies have desecrated these communities, has had a very strong influence on the manifestations of his illness.

I would questions if he is indeed ill at all! He is silent, perhaps because he is tired of having no voice; he doesnt correct those who think he is 'dumb' (as in limited brain functioning) perhaps because he knows they will only continue to think he is stupid because he is not White.

The movie touches on the issues of race in our society as well as mental illness.

Chief is my favorite character especially because of the way he plays basketball! and the portrayl of the friend ship between Randle and him.
Posted 11:03

time stamp

WOW, my time stamp is really off now. I am going to add the time to my posts until this problem corrects itself. Thanks!

Movies that make me question my sanity #1

I am not a fan of movies that make me question my own sanity! I do that enough as it is... movies like this make me think that perhaps I am much worse of than I am aware!

#1 Beautiful Mind

While brilliant beautiful and moving, this movie hits too close to home. While I have never suffered from schizophrenia, seeing someone who is completely committed to one way of thinking and, as an audience, knowing that he is seeing it the 'wrong' way is frightening as hell.

After watching this movie I decided my worst fear was to have a mental illness...ironically, it was only a short time later I was diagnosed with depression for the first time!

So yes, it may be a good movie, but I give it a thumbs down for making me question my own sanity!

[side note: look how this poster really 'others' him... hmmm possible future post idea...]

posted 10:31

Good mental illness themed movies #1

This will be a recurring post today paired with Bad mental illness themed movies.

#1. House of Fools

From Russia, this subtitled film takes place in a mental institute during the Chechen War. Caught between the opposing forces the hospital residents find themselves alone without staff.
A great movie that really gets you thinking... who are the people who are 'ill' in the world? Are those with the label, 'mentally ill' really crazier than the rest of society?

I found this movie when I was researching for a paper I wrote for my Sociology of Mental Illness class. There was a great site with a long list of movies with mental illness as a theme. I cant seem to find it, but when I do ill post the address.

ps. Another great part of this movie...a great cameo by (Canadian) Bryan Adams. Very random.. but great

Urg.. the perfectionist in me

The one kink I am having in my blogathon plan is my inability to let perfectionism go! I generally work on blog entries at work (its pretty dull there so I have time) so I work on an entry on and off all day. I type a little, think for a bit, and continue, then have time to go back to proof read and change some details... I don't have time for that here!
I think my women's studies program has made me very concerned and aware of the importance of being critical and being critical takes time... I need to be able to go back over my work to find errors and omissions. Already I have been thinking... "oh, you used 'he' and 'she', that is problematic in our gender diverse world.."
Letting things go has never been a skill of mine!

Another semi-concern I have today is my anonymity. As mentioned before I have a partner who is a-okay with being kept in the dark about what I am up to online today. But I feel like I should tell him, almost to put myself at ease so I am not looking over my shoulder all day thinking, "did he see the name of my blog, will he look it up later?". Of course he wouldn't... he is so low key... I'm the high strung one... if you couldn't tell...
At the moment Ill keep to the vague explanation of "doing something online for 24 hours as a fundraiser..." and see how i feel later.

New side bar feature

Check out my new sidebar feature called "funny blogathon moments" which I will be updating regularily. I feel pretty loopy today so I am sure there will be many!

Does anyone else feel the time flying by? (I hope I didnt just jinx myself!)

[note my time stamp is till off by close to 10 minutes]

Blogathon: planned activities for me!

Here are some of the things I have planned for the next 24 hours for my own entertainment (besides talking to you lovely people)
-watch/have on in the background: Invader Zim, Friends, Queer as Folk (season 3 at the moment)
-music: Matt Good, Lady Gaga and all the pop stars I hate to admit I love to rock out to sometimes, Chilli Peppers, and whatever else strikes me
-knitt: have a nice neck warmer (think turtle neck without the shirt part... just the neck) I am creating for this upcoming Canadian winter... itll probably start in September (haha okay more like October.. but still!)
-redecorate my living room (I tend to do that when I am a bit manic-y) I just cant seem to get it just as I want it!
-play with my new camera I just got.. its pretty and red.
-visit other blogathon sites

and im sure Ill think of more!

Crazy: reclaiming or just insensitive?

I have always thought that one has the right to identify with any term he or she wishes. Sometimes I can identify with the term "crazy". On my site I use it right in the name of my blog. That was a choice mainly because I know that there will be some insensitive jackass who thinks it is funny to send hate mail (Bitter? Moi?) and I wanted to claim that word as my own before someone tried to use it against me. Plus, I think it is a great way of standing firm in solidarity with myself, giving myself the credit I am due for what I have gone through and continue to deal with. (its a weird way of doing it but it works for me)
So while this is my choice, as it is the choice of all individuals, I think it is important to ask "why do we identify with those terms?"
There is part of me that knows that I am not 'normal' (see post below for my thoughts on the word "normal") and therefore feel as if I am crazy: I act and think different have different emotional needs (read: I do not have the 'normal' thoughts and moods). But why can I not just see myself as 'different'. I guess I have learned that it is very negative to be abnormal; crazy becomes the term used to denote different AND bad.
I guess what I am trying to say is: while I use and can identity with the term 'crazy' in a positive and motivating way, there remains the part of me that uses it against myself because of the internalized stigma of mental illness I feel from society.

Are you normal?

So... we are all supposed to be "normal". Us crazies are supposed to be striving for "normal".
Well one thing they never taught me in the doctor's/psychiatrist/psychologist office was what the hell 'normal' is!
I know I always put scare quotes on the word "normal".. even when I speak it. And I know that many doctors in the field know that its nothing more than an arbitrary category that really doesn't mean much. But its such a common sense term and therefore holds A LOT of power.
From that I ask, "can anyone be 'normal'?"
I would say No.
"Normal" is an ideal. As an ideal it is, by nature, unattainable. It is based on an abstract concept, there is no concrete example of "normal" to compare oneself to. In this way, "normal" is constantly changing and so can never be reached.
think about beauty. the ideal for beauty is always changing. What size one's body should be, what shape, what colour of the skin, what strength, what...... etc. and this is only within one society! Go cross culturally and it will change... hypothetically, if a person in Canada sees them self and is seen by others as the "ideal woman"... if she were to go to Italy, this may no longer hold.
So as a completely artificial concept, HOW does it hold such power over us?

"Did you forget about other people?"

I saw recently an ad on a bus that said, "did you leave the iron on?" It was an ad for an insurance company, i think, and it quite upset me. While I know it is making reference to the 'normal' concerns of many that perhaps their homes are in danger because of 'carelessness' and that "with _______ insurance, you no longer need to worry because we have you covered" (im sure their logo goes something like this!) Nonethelessm, I feel its anirresponsible ad. When I saw the ad drive by me (something worth a discussion in itself - the way advertisements bombard the senses), the first thing that went through my mind was how horrible that ad must trigger individuals who suffer from OCD (obsessive compusive disorder). Many people with OCD have just these concerns, "did i leave the iron on? will the stove cause a fire? is the tap still running?" I can only imagine what panic could be caused if they were to see this ad! The bus is Telling Them that they forgot something and that something bad WILL happen as a result!

Here it stands as a good example of how advertisements play on the created category of 'normal'.

[I am still having trouble with the date stamp... does anyone have suggestions as to why this is happening? My computer clock says one thing that agrees with the saved settings for my blog... yet when I publish the post it is off by about 15 min!]

*new blogger alert*

The time stamp on that last entry says 6:15 when it should have said 6:28 like my PST clock does... I will try to fix before my next post!

My head is fuzzy..it will get better!

I have to preface by saying that I only woke up 45 minutes ago so I still feel ultra groggy as if my mind has yet to wake. (Plus I have yet to choke down all the pills I have in front of me that always help to wake me up but are damn hard to swallow when you are half asleep!)

I am glad to have the support of my sponsor Lou (hey Lou!), and all the blogathon peeps. But I would like to make a giant, yet silent and secret shout out to my partner who has been ridiculously supportive! As you may know, my friends, family and partner do not know that I have a blog and most certainly do not know what I blog about. When I decided to partake in Blogathon 2009 I thought, "I live with one of the people I keep this blog secret from... how am I gonna do this? Its not like you can hide bloging every 30 min for 24 hours from someone you share the same apartment from!"
I decided to tell him I was doing "something online" for 24 hours "on the 25th to raise money" but I felt it was "personal" so I didn't "want to really go in to it".... he looked at me and was like "okay"
I am very very lucky to have an unquestioning and always supportive partner... whats better, when I joked that he could stay up with me to play video games (a favorite activity of his) he was like... 'yeah, I think I could manage that' *sarcasm*
So, not only do I have a great "personal 24 hour online thing" supporter but a buddy to stay up all night with!
I'm sure ill be giving you updates about what he is up to too!

Blogathon 2009

Welcome to Blogathon 2009!
This is my first _____-athon since my grade 8 choir did an 'Awake-athon' where we all stayed awake for 24 hours (and watched movies in our PJs) to raise money for our choir trip (pretty sweet eh?) All I really remember of the whole experience was realising - to my horror - that I had put my pj shorts on inside out and backward! All I could think was: 'all those popular, beautiful choir girls saw me and now they think I am an idiot! I might as well curl up and die!'
Oh, junior high!

If you are interested in supporting me, or just want to check out the other fabulous blogs participating this year, go to Blogathon.org and look me up!

Here's hoping for a great Blogathon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Game

Been busy trying to find sponsors for Blogathon 2009. Letters requesting sponsorship are not the funnest thing to write, and it makes it harder when you have a pounding headache! Check out the side bar for more information about Blogathon and how you can help!

On another note, I have a psychiatrist appointment today and I cant help but think, 'okay, what strategy will i use today?' Am I just jaded from my years of experience with mental health system or do others play this same game? Having a minor in psychology, friends in pharmacy and, as mentioned, years in the system, generally i have a pretty good idea what is going on with me and my disorder(s).
[Of course I still am in need of 'experts' and I am not denying that, but when it has been suggested over and over again that, for instance, perhaps i have seasonal affective disorder even though that diagnoses has been ruled out multiple times (my episodes occur through out the year for different lengths of time) it gets rather frustrating and its easier to preface a discussion with 'but its not SAD'.]
Anyways, today i have a pretty good idea of what I need and so I'm trying to strategize the most affective way of getting this. Now I do not plan on manipulating my doctor or using any other malicious strategies but I find the power differential between patient/client and Dr/'expert' can make it very difficult to feel that one has a voice that is important enough to be considered. Dr's hold a position of legitimized authority. Their university etc degrees give them a certain power as this education allows them to be considered 'the holder of truth' when it comes to health. The patient's opinion or personal experience with their body or mind or life becomes secondary to this authority. This is exacerbated because we, those people with disorders, can often be labeled as 'irrational' (read: unable to know 'truth').
Sometimes, i know for me, i just wanna yell "listen to me, i have tons of experience with what i am going through, how bout you consider my opinion instead of what it says in some book! a book that doesn't even sufficiently describe what i am going through!"
But, again, that may just be me...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mood Disorders Society of Canada

It's official! I will be blogging for the Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) for Blogathon 2009. They are a great organization so you should definitely check out their website: mooddisorderscanada.ca
And, of course, I ask you to consider sponsoring my efforts to raise money for MDSC. You can contact me or go to blogathon.org and look up my blog so you can donate directly to the org. You can donate a lump sum or a per hour, per blog post etc amount (for example $2.00 per hour i complete etc)

I cannot wait to start blogging on Saturday. 24 hours of blogging to be exact! I just hope to be successful, i have been sick for a little while (super headaches and sore throat that my doctor diagnosed as 'mono-esk'... yeah i would take 'diagnose' with a grain of salt there). if you are a blogger and are participating with Blogathon or tend to blog at night, or live on the other side of the world from Canada!, let me know and we can chat online that day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mad Pride: Who Knew?

This was something I was unaware of: Mad Pride 2009 in Toronto. Check out http://www.madpridetoronto.blogspot.com/ for more information. (poster image from www.friendlyspike.ca/MadPride.html)
Im not surprised I had never heard about this. Mental illness is 'scary' and definitely taboo, people dont like to talk about it. I was happy to see that there are events like this that are reclaiming the words generally used to dismiss people who suffer from these types of illnesses. Mental illness is not the ONLY condition in which the patient is avoided or blamed for their condition, HIV/AIDS is a good example of another discriminated against diagnoses. Other medical conditions are readily accepted and received as deserving empathy and funding. It is hard to imagine a patient in the cancer ward being blamed for their illness as this ad demonstrates:
image from: cprf.ca/media/antiStigmaCampaign.html

Here is another great example:

From: http://cprf.ca/media/images/popup_02_ad.gif

Can you imagine if this was what you heard from co-workers, friends or strangers on the street as they discussed people with cancer or heart disease? But mental illness has never been, and I would say is still not, understood. Who hasnt heard people talking behind the backs of their friends/family/coworkers because they have a mental illness. I once heard someone saying that they thought people go to therapy when they have enough money to pay someone to listen to them complain. When I tell people about my diagnose(s) they generally will try to pretend they understand when they really dont; will give me the same response as to when I tell them I am a feminist (funnily enough!): get very uncomfortable and try to change the subject (another infuriating response to me discussing my feminist beliefs is the response "really, wanna hear a joke?" after which a misogynistic joke is told) Though it is really nice that sometimes the person will respond, "really? Me too!".
Does anyone remember this TV commercial (i couldnt find it) where a man is holding a baby and whispering in its ear, then the words come up, "This man has a mental illness" on a black screen. The shot goes back the man and the baby as he continues to hold and whisper him/her. Then the words, "What is really sick is how your opinion of him just changed" appears.
I remember seeing this ad when I was in high school before my diagnoses and found it very powerful with its message.

But events like Mad Pride and commercials and ads like those above continue to be rare and not nearly as pervasive as the stigmatizing effects of misunderstanding mental illness.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blogathon 2009

On July 25 I will be blogging for 24 hours to raise funds for a mental health organization! As soon as I have recieved confirmation from this organization I will post it here.

Check out blogathon.org to find out how you can blog to raise money and/or sponsor my efforts! I think its a really unique way to support causes you think are important.

If you have any ideas for companies/individuals who would be interested in sponsoring me for this blogathon, let me know!

Thanks, and happy Wednesday

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fearing one's self

I have had very few relationships which I would call 'successful'. While all relationships - romantic, friendship or otherwise - have their problems, I do not consider it to be a 'normal' relationship problem when friends/family etc stop calling when you are ill, I consider that an unsuccessful relationship. Am I wrong to think that a good relationship is one where the members can depend upon each other when the times get rough?
Recently, however, I have come to be in a relationship with a person who shows me the closest thing to unconditional love I could ever imagine. Sometimes I still dont believe it! I feel SO lucky to have someone who doesnt leave when I get sick
How sad is that?
Either way I am very fortunate to have this person in my life, but even better this person is my partner who I can imagine spending my life with. We have a healthy relationship and of course we have our problems but we are pretty good at working through them. He is much more emotionally stable than most people so compared to me.. oh god! He is like a mountain in my forest of chaos!
One problem I do have with his zen style is that when he does get upset about something in his life it is very upsetting to me and often i will completely reject him and those feelings. See when he does get upset, he has very similiar (though non clinical) symptoms of depression. When I see this, I bolt. Its too close to home. I see how he looks and how he is feeling and its like I am there with him, back in my depression.
So I panic and reject him.
To reject the only person who has ever excepted me is the epitome of hypocracy. I am getting a bit better at comforting him and helping him to work through it.
What it comes down to is this: When he is like that, it reminds me of my own pain, the part of me I hate and fear. Will I ever be able to accept him fully and how he processes his problems until I accept myself?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rethink's 'Time to Change' summer campaign

I saw on Twitter today that Rethink is holding a campaign to challenge the stigma regarding mental illness. It got me thinking about what concerns me most because of my own experience with mental illness. I think I have three primary areas of concern: 1. Stigma and discrimination 2. treatment and recovery and 3. the 'experts' who work in the field.

[A note: I am lucky to live in a country and community that ensures access to mental health resources. I have good health coverage and, due to financial assistance from my parents for these services, I am able to go to and pay for Psychologists and access perscription drugs I other wise could not afford. Access is a huge issue, however, for many people and is major problem. While I don't think ill be talking about it much, as I dont have personal experience with it, I dont want people to think that because it is missing from my discussion I am denying its importance.]

Almost nine out of ten people with mental health problems (87%) reported the negative impact of stigma and discrimination on their lives. I know for me it has meant the loss of friends as well as opportunities (I was turned down as a volunteer for that reason alone). The most frustrating and hurtful affect of stigma has been the way it changes how people see me. I can actually see the moment in their eyes as their perception of me changes. (Of course, this may actually be the affect of my own internalized stigma assuming people will see me differently and perhaps I am only projecting this onto others.)
The hardest is the way my family reacts to my illness(es). Once my dad actually told me 'I avoid you when you are depressed because I dont want to be around you'. Another time, when I asked if he knew of any cases of mental illness in his family he told me 'there are no crazies in our family'. I turned and said, 'except me dad'.
My parents believe that paying for psychologists and perscriptions replace their lack of emotional support. While I could not access those resources with out their help, I feel they use it to assure themselves they are 'helping' when in fact they reject me and my illness when I am sick and pretend it is none existent when I am well.

Speaking of being well, I sometimes wonder how that comes to be. Naturally, it is claimed (in one of my psych text books), that often untreated depression will pass with time - often 6-8 months. While I have, it feels, undergone all the treatment available under the sun, I have to wonder what, if any of it, actually works. In my 4th year of Uni I took an Abnormal Psychology class. When we were learning about anti-depressants my prof informed the class that they have an effective rate of 75%. Sounds pretty good until you learn that 50% of that is placebo! Dont get me wrong, if something helps people to reduce their suffering, i am all for it, but antidepressants have the air of a miracle drug and yet are only proven to work 25% of the time; it is more affective to treat depression with sugar pills under the guise of the label 'antidepressants'.
I also find it quite frightening that researchers and scientists do not know FOR SURE how the drugs work. Sometimes I wonder why I am trusting a person in a white coat enough to put this mystery drug in my body. In a sense I consume a drug which shotgun sprays my system so that sometimes (25% of the time!) the drugs seem to hit the proper points and helps with the symptoms, while almost 100% of the time it hits numerous other (wrong) parts in my brain and body causing a slew of side affects. (my favorite side affect, because its quite funny, is how my perscription induces yawning!)
Of course, in my case and many others, I inevitably relapse after a period of sweet sweet bliss also known as 'normal' emotional regulation, and I end up being forced to make the choice of what route I will take for recovery as I have yet to find one that works effectively for me.

The 'experts' I visit all seem so confident as they suggest options of treatment but sometimes I feel they really have no idea what they are talking about. I put expert in scare quotes because while I do not deny their extensive training and their desire to help, we do not understand fully mental illness so how can someone be an 'expert'? They may be aware of the leading evidence and theories but when we look at the history of treating mental illness we see a very clear trend: A theory comes forward to explain the 'cause' of the illness (ex Hippocratic writers believed that too much black bile caused melancholy or what we now call depression - information from Manic-depressive illness By Frederick K. Goodwin, Kay Redfield Jamison, S. Nassir Ghaemi via Google Books), from which new treatments come to combat this cause (ex bloodletting to decrease black bile in blood). Today we seem the same thing: mentail illness is seen to be caused by the brain and neurochemistry, therefore we treat this supposed cause with drugs which target the brain (just as bloodletting targetted the blood). But truth be told we are still not sure HOW it is caused. I read in the book "
Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800‎, that the recovery rates of today are very similar to the rates a hundred years ago. Clearly we do not have nor have we ever had 'experts'. I would be much happier if we recognized this fact and perhaps changed the understanding of professionals in this area as experts of mental illness literature and theory. But instead professionals in this area are seen as 'experts', those that hold the 'truth' of mental illness, even over those with a long history of experiencing mental illness.

I know I am not the only patient who feels frustrated when our experience of mental illness is sidelined because it does not 'fit' with the clinitians understanding of disorder. I have a psychiatrist who changes her diagnoses of me almost each time I see her. While it is 'just a title' for the problem i have, it affects which drugs she gives me. Last year my psychologist encouraged me to see a psychiatrist. After our first meeting she diagnosed me with depression and started me on drug A (I am not going to list names, I do not advertise for drug companies). at our second meeting she decided i had some 'bipolar tendencies' and put me on drug B, a anti convulsant used to manage mania in those with bipolar. At our third meeting we decided to add Drug C to my mix, another antidepressent that would help with mood but also combat some of the side affects of drug A. When I went back the fourth time and spoke of my concern that perhaps i needed Drug A or C increased she told me that it seems I also had some borderline personality disorder characteristics and because of this, refused to increase my dosage becuase the symptoms where probably just there on account of the BPD.
All of this is not only terribly confusing but scary as hell! After chatting with me for 20 minutes she decides drugs to put me on and levels to fiddle with and also will withhold drugs because of new diagnoses she sees that she didnt see before? I no longer trust her as a doctor, but continue to see her because GPs are typically uncomfortable adjusting drug A or C becuase they are not familiar with drug B. Now, when I decide to see her, I go with a plan. I tell her exactly what i think i need and she just gives it to me with not much question (typical for Uni doctors I have found).

So where does this leave me. Well it leaves me stuck in a whole crap load of confusion, thats where! Ha
As I said in my introduction post, I dont have the opportunity to discuss this with friends or family and definately not my psychologist or psychiatrist (who i feel are always thinking 'oh this is a symptom' becuase that is what a BPD diagnoses allows!) so its nice to rant here. But at least I am in a good enough place to be able to laugh about it now.

Anyone have any thoughts? Similar experiences?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Some Stats from the Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Mental Illness in Canada

-Chances of having a mental illness in your lifetime in Canada: One in five.
-At any given time, percentage of Canadians who have a mental illness: 10.4%
-Percentage of Canadians who experience a major depression in their lifetime: 8%
-Percentage of Canadians who will experience bi-polar disorder in their lifetime: 1%
-Percentage of Canadians who will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime: 1%
-Percentage of Canadians who will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime: 12%
-Percentage of Canadians affected by eating disorders in their lifetime: 3% of women and 0.3% of men.
-Age with the highest rate of depression symptoms: Under 20 years of age
-Age with the highest rate of anxiety symptoms: 20 – 29 years of age
-Unemployment rate among people with serious mental illness: 70 – 90%
-Likelihood people with mental illness will commit violent acts: No greater than the general population.
-Likelihood people with mental illness will be victims of crime: 2.5 times that of the general population.
-The cost of supporting someone with serious mental illness to live in the community: $34,418 per year (all costs)
-The cost of keeping someone with serious mental illness in the hospital: $170,820 per year.
-Percentage of the world’s population affected by serious mental illness: 2%
-Leading cause of years lived with disability in the world: Depression
-Fourth leading cause of disability and premature death in the world: Depression
-The group of illnesses that contributes more to the global burden of disease than all
cancers combined: Mental disorders
-Most common cause of violent death in the world: Suicide
Suicide: 49.1%
Homicide: 31.3%
War-related: 18.6%

-Percentage of Canadians who will experience depression in their lifetime: 7.9 – 8.6%
-Percentage of Canadians at any one point in time who are depressed: 4 – 5%
-Likelihood of women experiencing depression: 2 times that of men
-Age of onset for depression: Adolescence
-Percentage of people who are depressed who respond well to treatment: 80%
-Percentage of people who are depression who never seek treatment: 90%

Bipolar Disorder
-Percentage of Canadians who will experience bi-polar disorder in their lifetime: 1%
-Mortality rate, including suicide, among people with bipolar disorder: 2 – 3 times higher than the general population
-Rates of bipolar disorder among men and women: Roughly equal.
-Number of doctors a person will see, on average, before obtaining the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder: 4
-Number of years a person with bipolar disorder will spend seeking help, on average, before they are successful: 8

Personality disorders:
-This group of mental disorders is not well studied in Canada.
-US figures report prevalence rates of 6% - 9%.
-Hospitalization rate for young Canadian women with personality disorders as opposed to young men: 3 times the rate.
Borderline (volatile interpersonal relationships and extreme impulsivity)
Antisocial (disregard for, and violation of the rights of others and the laws of society)
Histrionic (highly emotional and in need of constant attention from others)
Narcissistic (focused on self and own needs, lack of empathy for others)
Avoidant (social isolation and extreme sensitivity to opinions of others)
Dependent (submissive and clinging)
Schizoid (Detachment from others and limited range of
emotional expression)
Paranoid (distrustful, suspicious, negative interpretation of others’ intentions)
Obsessive-compulsive (ritual behaviours, preoccupation with orderliness
and cleanliness)
Schizoidal (cognitive or perceptual distortions, eccentric behaviour)


-Likelihood women will develop depression in their lifetime: Twice as likely as men.
-Percentage of women who will develop depression during pregnancy: 10%
-Percentage of women in the general population who will develop postpartum depression: 15 – 20%.
-Percentage of women with a history of depression that will experience postpartum depression: 30%
-Percentage of women who have experienced a postpartum depression who are likely to re-experience it in a subsequent pregnancy: 50%
-Percentage of women who develop postpartum psychosis (depression accompanied by delusions and disordered thinking): 0.1 – 0.2%
-Percentage of women with bi-polar disorder who develop postpartum psychosis: 50% -In the world, those most affected by violent conflict, war, disaster and displacement: 80% are women and children
-Percentage of women in the world who experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime: 20%
-The country that ranks the highest in the world for gender equality: Canada

-Percentage increase in mental illness among offenders in the last decade: More than 100%
-Training available on mental illness and addiction for front line correction staff: None
-Percentage of inmates under psychiatric treatment prior to incarceration: 14%
-Percentage of inmates who had attempted suicide in the preceding five years: Women (21%), men (14%).
-Percentage of women offenders with a substance abuse problem: 43%
-Percentage of women offenders who say alcohol or drugs played a role in their crime: 69%
-Percentage of women offenders who self-harm (cutting, burning or otherwise violating the body): 59%
-Number of federally sentenced women who have children: Two thirds
-Number of women offenders with histories of physical and/or sexual abuse: 72% of provincially sentenced women, 82% of federally sentenced women and 90% of federally sentenced Aboriginal women.
-Percentage of offenders in Calgary Remand Centre with mental illness: Women: 50% Men: 56%
-Percentage lifetime diagnosis of mental illness among Edmonton offenders: 92% and of those 87% also had a substance abuse disorder
-Percentage increase in police time spent responding to calls about the mentally ill in London Ontario: 100%

Aboriginal peoples:
-Rate of suicide among Aboriginal youth in Canada as compared to non-Aboriginal: Five to six times higher.
-Aboriginal people account for 3% of the Canadian population but represent 18% of federal inmates.
-Percentage of residential school survivors with a mental illness: 98% (BC study)
-Percentage with substance abuse problems: 26.3%
-Percentage with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: 64.2%
-Percentage who have experienced a major depression: 30.4%
-Percentage with chronic depression: 26.1%
-Likelihood of off-reserve Aboriginal people experiencing depression: 1.5 times the general population.
-Leading cause of death of Aboriginal people between the ages of 1 and 44: suicide.
Ages 10 – 19 - 38% of all deaths
Ages 20 – 44 - 23% of all deaths
-Overall suicide rate as compared to the rest of Canada: 2.1 times higher.
-Years of life lost to suicide among Aboriginal peoples: Greater than all cancers combined.
-Suicide rate among Aboriginal men aged 15 - 34: From 4 – 5 times greater than the general population
-Suicide rate among Aboriginal women aged 15 - 34: From 5 – 8 times greater than the general population.
-The most important factor in reducing suicide in Aboriginal communities: Community self-government.
-Other protective factors:
Control over land
Band-controlled schools
Community control over health services
Presence of cultural facilities
Community control over fire and police services
-Rate of suicide in Aboriginal communities where none of these factors are present: 137.5 per 100,000 (noting that the national average is 14 per 100,000)
-Rate of suicide in Aboriginal communities where all of these factors are present: Zero

-Percentage of homeless people who have had either a mental illness or a substance abuse diagnosis: 86%
-Percentage of homeless people with mental illness that also had a substance abuse problem: 75%
-Percentage that said that their illness was the reason they became homeless: 22%
-Percentage of homeless people with schizophrenia: 5.7%
-Percentage of homeless people with mood disorders: 38%
-In the year prior to being homeless: 30% had been in jail; 6% had been in a psychiatric hospital
25% had been clients of a mental health clinic; 20% had received addiction services
-Percentage of homeless people with mental illness: 30 – 35%
-Percentage of homeless women with a mental illness: 75%
-Percentage of formerly homeless people who were helped to find housing who remained in their home 9 months later: 91%

Mental Illness in the workplace

-Percentage of short term disability claims related to mental illness in Canada: 75%
-Percentage of long term disability claims related to mental illness in Canada: 79%
-Percentage increase in long term disability costs: 27%
-Fastest growing category of disability costs to Canadian employers: Depression
-Annual losses to the Canadian economy due to mental illness and substance abuse in the workplace: $33 billion
-Amount employer will save, per employee per year, for those who get treatment: from $5000 - $10,000 in average wage replacement, sick leave and prescription drug costs.
-Percentage of people with serious mental illness who are unemployed: 70 – 90%
-Percentage of people with serious mental illness who want to work: 80%
-Attitude toward people with disabilities:
Physical disability: Most comfortable
Depression: Least comfortable


-The percentage of 556 UK respondents who reported that either they or a family member had experienced stigma as a result of mental illness: 70%.
-Of those, the percentage who experienced stigma: within their own family: 56%
from friends: 52%
from their primary care physician: 44%
from other health care professionals: 32%
within their workplace: 30%
-Number of people with mental illness either turned down for a job for which they were qualified or, if employed, dismissed

From: Quick Facts on Mental Illness and Addictions in Canada, 2nd Edition, (September 2007) from the Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Why this blog?

Considering how prevalent mental illness is, especially in women, why do so few bloggers talk about it? Many mention it in passing but I wanted to put it, and feminism, to the forefront.

I have chosen to leave out certain details of my life because my friends and family do not know I write this blog. While this could be interpreted as evidence of shame for my illness or the internalization of stigma, I have made this choice for one particular reason. I want to write without censoring myself. To know that those closest to me may be reading my entries would affect how and what I write. Due to the nature of my illness, often it is not a choice as to whether or not I want to disclose the intimate details of my experience. To this end, I feel that the people around me know more than enough about my experience. I want to be able to unfurl my thoughts regarding my mental illness and my feminist ideology; to create the safe space for me to do this required a certain level of annonymity from those in my immediate life.

I hope I can connect to others who have had experience with mental illness, especially those who have in the past or currently suffer from a disorder/disorders. Talking with those who share experiences can be very liberating and can help to clarify ones own life!

I hope you can take something from this blog, whatever that may be.

Thursday, July 9, 2009