Saturday, July 15, 2006

The path ahead

On her way home
Originally uploaded by Sdgard.
Perhaps we spend too much time looking at the ground, or looking backwards. One of the gifts of being childlike is awareness, and a delight and joy about so very many things around us. Notice that, just outside the frame, someone is carefully watching this child. Someone offering protection, care, and Love.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mixed State ?

Another touch of Blue
Originally uploaded by Arnold Pouteau's.
I'm not sure I've ever had a "mixed state", a combination of depression and mania. Maybe this is what it's like visually. Blue, but with some bright lights of excitement as an accent. Usually, I hear from friends that there is some anger mixed in. Not surprising, since an old therapist once remarked "Anger is the antidote to depression" (Mark Robinson).

Whatever state your mind is in today, accept it, rage against it, but be aware of it. Know that it will pass.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

To the Editor of Bipolar Magazine

The following letter has just been sent, and hopefully will be published by the excellent "BP magazine":

Thanks so very much for your wonderful magazine dedicated to providing information and hope.

I've not seen any mention (or links on your RESOUCES page) to the PROCOVERY movement. Kathleen Crowley created the concept of Procovery.

"The Missouri Department of Mental Health (MDMH) announced on March 25, 2005 that it is adopting a Procovery treatment philosophy and rolling out through Missouri's service delivery system over the next three to five years." (Quotation from - a press release is available from that site.)

In just 15 months, there have been hundreds of Procovery facilitators trained in Missouri. There are now over 100 active circles across the state of Missouri.
People with a disorder, their support persons, and professional staff all can participate in Procovery circles.

The word Procovery means "attaining a productive and fulfilling life regardless of the level of health assumed attainable (vs. recovery, returning to a prior state of health)"*. The principles and strategies of the model of Procovery define a forward-focused, hope-centered, and practical approach for finding healing and building life with serious and chronic illnesses, injuries and trauma.

As someone who was fortunate enough to be trained as a facilitator 15 months ago, I've started two circles. One is at a Residential Care Facility with 38 residents. The circle there is completely voluntary, and we have about 1/4 of the community active and "Procovering" on a weekly basis.
I'm also starting two Procovery circles for homeless people at two downtown churches that have programs for the homeless. Procovery has been so very life giving for me, and I've seen many friends "blossom" because of the support and positive structure of the circles.

For more information, just visit

or my blog "Procovery - and Friends" at

* Quotation from The Power of Procovery in Healing Mental Illness: Just Start Anywhere, by Kathleen Crowley (c) Copyright 2000.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bipolar - illustrated

tool 2
Originally uploaded by parasites.
This photo isn't real. . . but it's very well done.

I thought this photo was disturbing and eye-catching.

It reminds me of how strange it is to be in the world of bipolar or unipolar disorder (unipolar is usually called depressive). I sometimes feel like I have three sets of eyes. It’s like they rotate in my head. They take turns being my main source of seeing and interpreting the world. I have the "down" me, the "up" me, and the "normal" me. Each "me" sees the world differently. My depressive eyes see gloom, doom, and disinterest. To my manic eyes, the world is uniformly marvelous, exciting, and at times chaotic.

When I'm up, I buy several of whatever needless thing I'm buying. Then I can share with friends who don't need the stuff either. And I do this whether or not I have the money.

It's not easy having strange eyes that I can only manage to some degree. People think, "Oh, all of us have up days and down days". Trust me, it's much more severe than that. And when I'm down, it seems to last forever . . . . . . . .

From the Mountaintop

vittorio sella
Originally uploaded by maisharefu.
Sometimes you feel like you have been climbing for a really, really long time. You are worn out, tired, barely able to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Take just a moment to look back at the place you came from, at the distance you've traveled. You might be surprised as well as encouraged.

It helps to talk your progress over with a friend. . or in your Procovery Circle. Others can help us see the view from our new "location" better than we can by ourselves.

Procovery means we don't look back to what cannot be changed. But it's OK to look back with pride to what we have accomplished, and accomplished with our friends.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Meeting Under The Sun

Meeting Under The Sun
Originally uploaded by * Honest *.
Honest is a woman with a great vision. In the caption for this photo she writes:

"Take time for yourself, take a break, look around, ask questions, be curious. Remember to breathe to truly breathe from the inside out."

Being aware of our Being, just being is a wonderful way to focus. Whether you are in pleasure or pain, depression or euthymia, just being aware takes you right to the CORE of life.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Solid as a rock

Mountain Morning - Alaska
Originally uploaded by creativity+.
Who do you have in your life that's solid as a rock for you? Perhaps a friend, a spouse, a brother or sister, or a parent. Maybe even one of your children.

Whoever they are, be thankful for these people who give you "real" feedback about how you are doing. And real support when you need it. These are folks who have spent a long time learning about your bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID - formerly multiple personality disorder).
They care, they know you through and through.
Take a moment today to write them a "thank you" note. Or simple show your appreciation by buying them flowers, or making a meal for them, or just doing the dishes. . .
They need to know how IMPORTANT they are to your health, well being, and life.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Be Proud of Who You Are

Yesterday, St. Louis held its annual "Gay Pride Parade". How I wish that people who have a mental disorder could someday have a "Chemically Imbalanced Parade". . .
I think we (the Mentally Disordered) are the LAST group to come out of the closet. It will take confronting our society and our culture before the prejudices start to erode away.

How can we expect others to understand and accept us, if we aren't PROUD and accepting of who we are??
How can YOU further understanding and acceptance today?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

LIFE - have FUN with it. . .

my two cents for today...
Originally uploaded by megzie212.
Life is not about the destination, but about the Journey. Another way to say it that I've heard as part of a travel commercial is "Getting there is half the FUN".

Yes, we want to be moving forward, seeing the road ahead and knowing our destination. But that focus, without enjoying the scenery passing by is cold, and devoid of joy and life.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Happy Cloud

Happy Cloud
Originally uploaded by creativity+.
Yesterday, I was invited to an african american friend's birthday BASH at Forest Park, in St. Louis. There was free food, drinks of every kind, a disk jockey, and 3 horses for the children to ride !!!
I took a bunch of photos of his friends, and I may post one or two here, with their consent. FUN, FUN, FUN !!!!

(Oh, there were only two other honkies [whites] at the party.) These are the eyes and mouth of one of the kids.

Of course, since I'm in a hypomanic (low-level mania, or elevated mood), I didn't drink any alcohol or drink anything with caffeine or a lot of sugar.

BALANCE - hard to do when up or down

Daily Things to DO

I've been in a Euthymic to HypoManic state for the last 4 weeks. (look up the words, as my mother always said. One of the problems with having a mental disorder is that when I have an UP mood, and are gathering steam, enjoying life, being creative, and getting excited, I have to put a LID on it. Most people can just enjoy excitement. For me, it means a yellow "caution" light. I have to work extra hard to get the sleep I need, to wind down at night, to avoid caffeine, and to keep my BALANCE. At times when I'm UP emotionally, I have to make a plan to maintain my equilibrium. So this is what I came up with this time. . .
One hour of flickr per day, yeah, right !!!

So far this year, (out of 5 1/2 months) I've been DOWN for 3 and UP for 1. That's only 6 weeks of NORMAL. Of course, when I'm down, I don't participate in much of anything.
And when I'm UP, I talk too much and am very wordy, as you can see and verify from this long ENTRY. . ..


LARGE size version of my BALANCE spreadsheet is HERE: Or simply click on the picture. . .

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sad puppy eyes

Originally uploaded by .Marina.
This photo, entitled "Frida", by Marina reminds me of how many ways there are to interpret a certain "look". What emotion do you see here? Is "Frida" tired, uncertain, sad, feeling lost, watchful, or what?

"The Power of Procovery" reminds us on page 177:

"Don't mind-read Don't assume you know what the other person is feeling or what he or she really means."

Fortunately, with a person, we can "check it out" by asking questions, listening more attentively, or summarizing to see if we got it "right".

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Getting attention

Me, when I was two or three
 One way to get more attention is to pay attention to your self and to others.
In fact, self-awareness is KEY to any kind of meaningful life. Rather than seeking attention, it's usually best to experience yourself and others as fully as you can.
Rarely, we get TOO much attention. Most of us are not cute any longer. . .The last time I heard someone call me "adorable" was when I was six years old.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Yukon Territory

Yukon Territory
Originally uploaded by creativity+.
You may have thought I was depressed. . . . since I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. Actually, I've been traveling, and, as you can see, surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

One of the problems of being bipolar is that when I start getting excited (like at the beginning of a journey), I have to "guard against" my own excitement. Most people can just enjoy being excited. But as someone who has highs that are "too" high, I have to be watchful, which takes some of the FUN out of it. However, it is so very important for my health and well being that I maintain my awareness of my mood, and manage it carefully. My Psychiatrist and my dear wife, Grace, are some of the "mirrors" I use to make sure I'm seeing my status accurately.

By careful management I was able to get through this travel period without incident. I guarded my sleep and adjusted medicines carefully and with approval my wife and Doctor.

It's worth staying stable, and worth the effort to stay balanced.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Just a Rose

Just a Rose
Originally uploaded by azem.
I couldn't help but post another flower. Partly because the flower (or at least the title) is so humble.

How often we neglect to enjoy and "see" and delight in what's around us because we have become JADED to beauty? How sad is that??

I know it's hard to see beauty on your own when you are depressed. . .that's why I write this blog.

Procovery means finding beauty in the ordinary. it meas doing small things for yourself and others that make amazingly large differences.

Thanks, Azem!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sennen Sunset

Sennen Sunset
Originally uploaded by Roger B..
At the end of the day, have you created an experience that you will remember fondly?
Have you brought JOY to just one person by your listening, your sharing, or your kindness?
Have you taken time to just BE? To just experience some aspect of you that you like?
Have you enjoyed being on the earth, and found something in nature that inspires you?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Originally uploaded by DigiPub.
Does it ever seem like you are just going around and around instead of making progress?

It takes effort to break out of your standard routine.

As Kathleen Crowley puts it (p.193):

"Life -- be in it ! Get out there, find things you like to do, and you'll also find people you like to be with. "

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Still Laughing

Still Laughing
Originally uploaded by CATeyes.
After all these years. . .
Laugher is not only contagious, it's good for you. It releases "endorphins" - chemicals that make you feel better.

Thanks to Mitch for the charming, laughing iris!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Opening up

Originally uploaded by Vaughan.
Spring is a time when many of us start to feel better because of the increased sunlight. The re-awakening of trees and flowers is also a delight, making it difficult to stay depressed.

"You are only one thought away from a good feeling" - Sheila Krystal

As Kathleen Crowley says (p.153):
"Negative emotions tend to buildon one another. So do positive ones, hence the ripple effect."

Thanks to Vaughan Nelson for the spectacular photo!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rose Drops

Rose Drops
Originally uploaded by chrissie2003.
Don't you hate it when people just say "Cheer up", or "Get over it", like you could just get over depression just like that?

On the other hand, each of us can take steps to ensure that today and tomorrow will be better. Write as list of things you like to do - put them on the refrigerator. Make the list longer each time you think of something you like doing. It can be as small as having a cup of hot tea with your favorite cookie.

Then do one of those things - even though you don't feel like it!

(Thanks to my friend Chrissie from flickr for the lovely image.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Eager to Shine

Eager to Shine
Originally uploaded by BennyPost.
As Woody Allen once said "Half of life is just SHOWING UP".
Lots of times we don't feel like going someplace because we're down or feel dejected, anxious or worn out.
Dreaming comes first, but it means nothing without doing. By DOING, we take actual steps toward a goal, even if that goal is just feeling better.
Don't be a slave to your feeling. Use your WILL to get out and explore, and you will find thatyour feelings will improve. Make a decision to BLOSSOM.

Thanks to Benny Post for the unusual, effective photo.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by dsevilla.
This photo is an ideal image representing how a support network looks. There is beauty in joining with others for a common cause, or for friendship.
What can you do today to get the support you need and want?

As Kathleen Crowley writes in her book "The Power of Procovery",

"Rather than feeling victimized by moods, responding to feelings as they come, it is sometimes possible to create them."

Thanks to Diego Sevilla from Spain for this lovely image!

Monday, May 08, 2006


Originally uploaded by Dive Monkey.
There is so much in life that goes unnoticed. It's wonderful that others can show us the beauty, excitement, or delight that we are missing. I've never gotten this close to a bee (and don't intend to). But this photographer has given us a gift by letting us see something special.
Have a great week!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Originally uploaded by shadowplay.
Head down, hands on face. This is a well known sign of depression. We feel like there's nothing worth seeing, nothing worthwhile period. And especially, we feel unworthy to be alive.
It seems like it's going to last forever, and that we can't get out.

Procovery reminds us that we can "just start anywhere", (tm) and that even the smallest steps in the right direction can have unexpectedly huge results. Rather than rely on our feelings, we can take an action, no matter how small, and start to break out and free ourselves from the darkness and gloom.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Basics of Mental Disorder - Part I - definition of. .

Why use the term "mental disorder"? Well, let's look at what's been used in the past:

ape, barmy, batty, berserk, bonkers, cracked, crazed, cuckoo, daft, delirious, demented, deranged, dingy, dippy, erratic, flaky, flipped, flipped out, freaked out, fruity, haywire, idiotic, insane, kooky, lunatic, mad, maniacal, mental, moonstruck, nuts, nutty, psycho, screw loose, screwball, screwy, silly, touched, unbalanced, unglued, unhinged, unzipped, wacky, whacko

Not a particularly distinguished or complimentary group of words.

Let's compare this to the list of words in a thesaurus for the term "diabetic": there are none! Has diabetes been around for centuries? Yes, it was first diagnosed 3,500 years ago!

I have two similarities and a difference in comparing diabetes to mental disorder:

  1. They both are "disorders", not illnesses. An illness is something you can get over, get well from. A disorder has some characteristics of an illness, but there is NO CURE. It's something the person will have to learn to live with his or her whole life. Both conditions (not illnesses) have a "onset", a variable prognosis, and an unpredictable course.
  2. Why is there such a different reaction to a problem that shows up in the pancreas and liver and one that shows up in the brain? My take on it is this: Humans are extremely behavior conscious, and norms conscious. Diabetics don't act particularly strangely. People with a mental disorder can be seen showing a whole range of objectionable, comical, or unusual behaviors. This scares us. Behavior makes a difference. Diabetes is an acceptable condition. Mental disorder has not been seen as acceptable.
  3. Both conditions have only been successfully treatable within the last 40 years or so.

So I use "mental disorder" rather than "mental Illness" or "consumer" (that god-awful term). I think mental disorder is the most accurate. However, no matter what we call it, whether insane , or consumer or mentally ill, the terms we use will inevitably take on negative connotations. Why? Because we all bring our prejudices along as baggage to any descriptive term. So, while it's important to use an accurate term, it's even more important to de-stigmatize the condition. The difference is, people with diabetes don't have to cope with BOTH the illness and everyone else's nasty judgments about them.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mania - what it's like in pictures

This is a suggestion of what it's like to be manic: too bright, distracted, often grandiose, stormy, contrasting.
1k-10-7664 Statue of King Louis XIV Originally uploaded by creativity+.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Is my mental disability a friend or an enemy?

Like many types of disabilities, mental disability can be something that conquers and defeats you. But it can be something that becomes your ally and a source of strength as you challenge it and it tests you. How inspired we all were by the person in a wheelchair who did the "Iron Man Triathlon" of the Special Olympics!
But I've also seen a mentally disabled person complain about how her medications were making her put on weight. While complaining, she was eating TWO double quarter pounder cheeseburgers (more than my points quota on Weight Watchers for an entire DAY). So part of it is making a willful choice between being a victim and a victor, a loser or a winner.
Where does one get the "inner strength" to be a winner? In my view, inner strenth, is a misnomer. Power comes from outside of one's self. My friends, my wife, my inspirational reading, my "Higher Power" are all a source of strength. For those of us with a disability, a support group, a Psychiatrist, a Therapist, are all part of a team we've gathered to give us strength to overcome the obstacles. As we overcome obstacles, we become stronger, more vibrant, more focused, and more alive. So what's the answer? Any disability is both a friend and a foe. It depends on what you do with it, and the attitude you bring to it. Even when it SEEMS like a foe, it's actually a FRIEND, because growth can happen when we are being Challenged.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Buisiness End

Buisiness End
Originally uploaded by Mr. Greenjeans.
Seeing things in a new, fresh way is essential to Procovery. Find friends that help you see new vistas of hope and possiblity. Surround yourself with a Procovery circle, for mutual encouragement. You can make your life wonderful, no matter what life has handed you. Great photographers and artists help us see things in a new light as well. Have you ever seen the bit of a router from this vantage point? Let the vision of others inform and enlighten you own.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

the seasons: spring "reloaded"

the seasons: spring "reloaded"
Originally uploaded by -sel-.
Roses are some of the few flowers that bloom both spring and fall. What makes YOU bloom? Are you aware of those things that matter to you? That make your heart sing? If children are a delight to you, consider working or volunteering at a day-care center. If nature perks you up, make a willful effort to get out in nature. . .even if you don't feel like it. Feelings follow actions.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Sometimes it just feel wonderful to stay in bed, doesn't it??
On the other hand, if we do it every day, we can miss out on a lot of our life.
What we do with each day matters. Choosing to:
1) accept ourselves and our condition,
2) make a choice about our life, and
3) move forward with plans, goals, and hope, makes all the difference.

It IS, after all, a CHOICE.

content Originally uploaded by •pearl grace.

Vincent VanGogh probably had what today we call Schizophrenia. And yet he produced some of the most stirring and beloved paintings of all time. He was able through his art to devote himself to something outsided himself; to enter into a special relationship of seeing and interpreting the world in paint on canvas. He Procovered. He did not let his condition dictate what his life was going to be about. In the end, his mental disorder is just a footnote to a grand life of self-expression.

This is a photo I took in Chicago at the Art Institute. It's called "Bedroom at Arles"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I’ve been a Procovery facilitator for TEN months now. I have a circle in my home. If you live in or near St. Louis, call me at (314) 353-4672 to find out about time and place. I also have had a cricle at the Applegate retirement community - a residential care facility (RCF). The group at Applegate usually runs from seven to nine in attentance. Most of the time they are in our meeting room and waiting 5-10 minutes before starting time. It's something they look forward to because it's about HOPE.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Something to brighten your day

Lovely Blossoms, Tower Grove Park

Creativity+ Photography

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Need a break??

Sometimes we all need a break from the winter "blahs". It has been dreary and gray for about a week here. Sometimes our lives feel like a long, bitter winter, too. Take time to remind yourself of your mental summer. Look at a favorite photo album. Make yourself some brownies, and invite a friend over to share them with you. Go somewhere like a mall to walk, and to be in bright lights and a cheery atmosphere.
You can choose what you want to pay attention to. Even small changes can have unexpectedly enormous results.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

No matter how small you feel

My gift of New Year!
Originally uploaded by katia BR.
The small steps you make and the little things you do make a difference. Sometimes you will never know how a kind word, a cup of tea, or a gentle pat on the hand will touch someone's life.
Kathleen Crowley's book "Procovery, just start anywhere" reminds us that small things we do can have enormous effects on our well-being, and on the health of those around us.
An accumulation of many small steps is more powerful than an occasional LARGE step.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Your can be your OWN friend.

Support comes in many "packages". It could be your kitty. It could be a smile from someone riding on the same bus. It could be a hug from a little child. It could be a friend listening intently, quietly, who is just hearing your feelings. It could be YOU. You can support yourself by creating good habits:
Waking up and going to bed at a certain time.
Making sure you get the right rest.
Eating healthy foods, in smaller amounts consistently.
One thing I learned from my therapy is that no matter what "bad" parenting we had, we can now as adults, be our OWN father and mother. A support system of ONE which together with friends, peers, medical professionals and family, can be enough for us to progress.