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.