World Bipolar Day In A Confident Way!

In honor of World Bipolar Day, I have made a short video about who I am outside of my Bipolar II diagnosis.  Enjoy!

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A Star Finds Her Place in the Sky: Patty Duke, the first celebrity to go public about bipolar dies at age 69

Today, the mental health community lost one of its most cherished, and respected mental health advocates.  Patty Duke died at the age of 69 due to sepsis from a ruptured intestine.  She is known for her career as an actress on stage, in film and on television with popular shows such as The Patty Duke Show, and her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, in which she won Best Supporting Actress at the young age of 16. However, later in life, Duke’s role shifted from leading Hollywood actress to mental health advocate.

In 1987, Duke was the first celebrity to go public about bipolar disorder, revealing her diagnosis in an autobiography.  She lobbied the United States Congress, and is known for her strong affiliation with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Institute of Mental Health.  A pivitol moment in Duke’s career as a mental health advocate, happened in 1992 on the Today Show with Katie Couric.  Couric interviewed Duke about her diagnosis of bipolar, which was then referred to as ‘manic depression.’ Duke reveals her path to receiving a diagnosis, and gives a voice to an illness that is still fighting to find its place in society today. Duke continued her life as a mental health advocate, striving to reduce the stigma on mental illness in society.

Patty Duke laid the foundation for mental health advocates today.  She sacrificed her story to help others, and is an inspiration to us all.  Patty Duke, a true Miracle Worker.  

Rest in peace Patty, we will continue your fight to reduce the stigma on mental illness, and give hope to those who struggle to find the stars in the dark of night.

 

 

 

 

7 Inspirational Books To Improve Your Mental Health and Inspire Your Imagination

The older I get, the more reading has become a daily habit, along with dying my grey hairs (just kidding).  Finding a book that suits your needs and/or current situation helps in more ways than you could imagine.  After time spent in the hospital, reading became a positive outlet that allowed me to use my imagination, while expanding my mind.  The following are my personal suggestions for some reads that you might enjoy.  Some are entertaining, interactive and deep.  These are great for when your feeling down, in need of some inspiration or just looking for a good read.

 

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I take time every morning to sit in silence and read a page. Every time I flip the page I find a tip or quote that relates to exactly how I am feeling.                                         Don’t self-medicate—self-meditate. In a book of thousands of entries, written in the abundant, winningly positive way that’s helped her books sell over 1.5 million copies, Barbara Ann Kipfer shows just how we can—and should—meditate anytime, anywhere, and reap the ever-growing list of mental and physical benefits associated with this practice.-Amazon

 

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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, was the first book I read…I mean really read. My mom handed me the novel a few months after I returned from the hospital. I had two jobs, but was still struggling to find my place in the world. This book changed my life. I think every woman, young or old, should read this book. It is the story, told from the eyes of Dinah, a young women trying to find her place in a harsh world. It takes place in the time of the 12 Tribes of Israel. It is not a religious book, but a beautiful story about women, children, sisterhood and love. You will not regret this read!
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I know this much is true…this is the best book I have ever read.  It is hard to put into words, the impact this book has had on my life. How much? I have not, to this day, read the last chapter.  Why?  I do not want it to end. This is a great book for both men and women, at any age, especially if you are someone who has struggled with a brother or sister with a mental illness.  I could not put it down. I would go to the gym and sit on the bicycle for hours reading it.                                                                    On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .-Amazon
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At first it seemed silly, but I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed these coloring  books. Whenever I am stressed, or have a lot going on in my head, sitting down and reverting back to my five-year-old self is really helpful!

 

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Add a little humor to your color. Ordered this one a couple days ago!

 

 

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Its part of Oprah’s Book Club…enough said.  She’s Come Undone gave me strength in overcoming my fear of failure, by looking through the lens of the main character, Dolores.  It is great for women, whether your 18 or 80, that are struggling with their own personal battles.                                                                          Meet Dolores Price. She’s 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.-Amazon

 

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Everything That Can Happen In a Day by David Horvitz Okay this is the only book I have not entertained myself with yet, but it is en route to my house. I have heard such amazing reviews. If you have read it, please let me know how it is. Artist David Horvitz knows how to transform the mundane details of everyday life into unexpected quirks that inspire people to action. Over the course of 2009 he posted a new initiative on his blog every single day, enjoining readers to follow his lead and insert some art into everyday life. The popular blog not only inspired people to act; they also documented their actions. Everything That Can Happen In A Day features some of Horvitz’s favorite ideas as well as an astonishing array of images that document people following Horvitz’s cues.-Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interview: A Poem Written To Bring Awareness To The Stigma On Mental Illness

I wrote this poem on a piece of tissue paper, moments after I was interviewed by a bewildered young man…

The Interview

You thought today,

That the girl you would meet,

Would be a girl who is violent,

Who lives on the street,

Yes it is true,

I am diagnosed Bipolar Two,

But it seems as though,

By the swing of my hips,

The deep red of my lips,

A smile too kind,

This is a girl,

You hadn’t in mind,

You sit quietly puzzled,

Filled with feelings of guilt,

Because I’m not the girl society built,

You listen to others,

Persuading your views,

This is what has you,

Completely confused,

I see the ring on your finger,

A baby is on the way,

If this was your daughter,

What then would you say?

For people will judge her,

Take her ‘demons’ away’,

So this you must know,

And this I must say,

When you place judgement,

On those you don’t see,

Be aware of this my friend,

Your daughter may be me.

Hannah Blum

6 Astounding Must Watch Ted Talks About Mental Health!

There are two things in this world that inspire me:  A good glass of Vino and Ted Talk’s on mental health.  These listed Ted Talk’s helped me come forward about my own diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder.  Each Talk is completely different, and gives you a separate outlook on mental illness.  You won’t regret watching!  I would love to hear your comments about these Ted Talks.  I hope some of you can find useful information, and a little bit of inspiration from these unbelievable individuals.

This Ted Talk is by far my favorite!  Saks is diagnosed with Chronic Schizophrenia.  She shares her story about living with Schizophrenia, time spent institutionalized and the progress she has made over the last 30 years.  I have watched this Ted Talk multiple times. Saks is one of my greatest role models, and she gives hope to everyone who has ever been told they are incapable of success.  She is a true bad ass!

“The doctors gave me a prognosis of “grave.”  At best to live in a Board and Care, and work menial jobs.  Fortunately, I did not enact that “grave” prognosis.  Instead, I am a Chair Professor of Law, Psychology and Psychiatry at the USC Gould School of Law.  I have many close friends, and a beloved husband, Will, who is here with us today.  He is the star of my show.”-Elyn Saks

 

This is a great Ted Talk, with great advice for anyone who is struggling with a suicidal family member or friend.  Kevin Briggs gives an emotional talk about the suicides that occur on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.  Briggs tells the story of his time as a California Highway Patrol Officer in charge of the Golden Gate Bridge, and what he learned about suicide.

“What would you do if your friend or family member is suicidal?  What would you say?…In my experience it is not just the talking you do, but the listening.  Listen to understand, don’t argue, don’t blame or tell the person ‘you know how they feel’…just by being there, you just may be the turning point they need.”-Kevin Briggs

 

I love this woman and this Ted Talk!  Ruby Wax adds humor to her struggle with Depression, while emphasizing the need to reduce the stigma on mental illness.  I believe, it is important to add humor to such a serious topic, it helps people to relax and become more open about the issue.

She refers to the inmates she was institutionalized with as “her tribe.”

 

This Ted Talk relayed information that I was completely oblivious to.  Thomas Insel uses his ‘doctorish swagger’ to relay facts about mental illness, and suicide, while encouraging viewers to comprehend the need for mental health awareness in society.

“Understanding mental illness allows us to treat it.”-Thomas Insel

 

This Ted Talk is one of my favorites. It gives a more global perspective on the mental health crisis.  Patel makes it clear, the United States is not the only country that stigmatizes mental illness.

“It might surprise some of you here, as it did me, to discover that suicide is at the top of the list of the leading causes of death among young people in all countries of the world, including the poorest countries in the world.”-Vikram Patel

 

This Ted Talk is actually a Ted Talk Audition, but Comedian Joshua Walters makes it worthwhile.  He uses humor to share his story about his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and the moment he thought he was “Jesus Christ.”

“I used my mental illness, to embrace my mental “stillness.”-Joshua Walters

 

 

 

 

 

‘Okay To Say’ Famous Texans Standing Up To Mental Illness Stigma 

 Okay, I have to admit when I think of Texas, the images of big hats, cowboy boots, and a very conservative perspective on things appears instinctively. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up this early morning, and saw a mental health movement started in Texas called ‘Okay To Say,’ a mental health campaign dedicated to fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

The most interesting part?!  The article, attached to this post, discusses the comparison to the position women with breast cancer were in three decades ago.  This was a piece of knowledge totally missing from my pie.  So I did some research (yes it is 6 in the morning on the east coast…on a Saturday. Its a bipolar betch problem) and found that this is totally true.  Three decades ago, women diagnosed with breast cancer were embarrassed and ashamed to admit they had a disease that has devastated so many.  I cannot imagine what these women must have gone through.  The stigma these women faced created a path for breast cancer movements that are known worldwide today, such as ‘Think Pink.’

This is a great morning read!  Go Texas!  I knew y’all had it in you! Famous Texans Stand Against Mental Illness Stigma

The Moment I Realized Mental Illness Is Real

We were sitting in our room, and she lifted up her sleeve slowly.  “This is why I am here” she said.  Carved with a butchers knife into her arm and across her body, were the words, Help Me.  She was 13.

2 days prior…

It was the tenth day at the mental health facility, and I sat at the table, while 5 doctors stared at me.

Doc:  “Hannah, it is crucial for you to understand, we are not releasing you, until you understand that you have bipolar II disorder.”

Me:  “I do understand doc, I just want to go home”

Doc:No Hannah you dont understand, you will go home, the first few days will be fine, shit maybe even a couple months, you will go back to pretending nothing happened, and then your going to bottom out, and this time you may not be so lucky.”  

Me:  “Lucky?”  I stormed out of the room to group therapy.

There she was, my new roommate, a young African American girl.   I could not believe how young she was.  “Hey I am Hannah, your roommate, if I catch you creeping on me or telling me the CIA is watching me like my past roommate, we are going to have a problem, understood?”  She fell into my arms crying.  “Oh shit Hannah, what the fuck is wrong with you,” I thought to myself.  

We sat, outside during recreational time, she told me her whole story.  About her broken home, her mother’s disregard for her schizophrenia, and how she has spent most of her life in a mental hospital.  “Jesus, this must be like the Ritz Carlton to you,”she laughed.  The following days, we talked about boys, her hope to one go to prom, and all things a young teenage girl likes to talk about.  At night, she would wait for her mother’s phone call that never came.

Then one morning, she asked me why I was still there.  “Oh damn, well I guess I can’t admit to myself that I am sick.  I am diagnosed bipolar II and honestly I can’t believe it. I keep questioning myself, like “Are you selfish? Are you spoiled?  Is this just a rough time?”  She looked away, and told me she wanted to show me something.  We walked to the room, and that is the moment she showed me her scars.  She had carved the words I had been screaming inside for so long.  “Help me!”  I began to cry so hard, I thought my eyes would fall out…she grabbed my hand.

The next day, I went into the Doctors office, and fell to the floor, “I know I am sick, I get it, I fucking get it.  I’ll do anything to get better.”  My doctor smiled, “Now the healing begins Hannah…”  I was released five days later.

The stigma in society has caused so many people to hide their diagnosis.  We constantly question ourselves, believing this is something that will go away, thinking that mental illness makes us bad people, petrified what people will say.  It is as real as any disease, and until we can come together as a society, and stop the stigma that makes it so hard for individuals who need help, this will only get worse.  The day I became a believer, was the day my life changed.  I had many angels at the facility and you will get to know through the continuation of my blog.

I am forever grateful to her, the girl who sacrificed her scars to help heal mine.  

9 Stars You Will Be Shocked To Learn Have Mental Illness

9 celebrities you may have thought had it all, almost lost it all when confronted with mental illness.  It holds true, “Stars Cannot Shine Without Darkness.”

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After her first marriage failed to Atlanta Braves baseball star, David Justice, actress Halle Barry came forward to People Magazine about her suicide attempt. “I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me.”
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Singer Demi Lovato was diagnosed with Bipolar II a few years ago after being hospitalized. She is now a mental health advocate fighting to reduce the stigma, “Our Society tends to shame or ignore those with mental illness, and I want to change that”
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Mad Men Actor John Hamm admits he suffers from Depression, “I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullshit. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my shit and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”
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Actress Catherine Zeta Jones came forward about her diagnosis of Bipolar II saying, ” I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”
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Actress Carrie Fisher, most famously known as Star Wars Princess Leila, is open about her diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, ““I outlasted my problems,” she said. “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.”
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Author of the infamous Harry Potter books, JK Rowling admits to suicidal thoughts after the separation to her first husband, “I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s there to be ashamed of? I went through a really tough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.”
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Comedian/Actor Jim Carrey is open about his Depression, “I don’t think human beings learn anything without desperation,” Carrey told CBS of his early success. “Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything, or creating anything. Period. If you ain’t desperate at some point, you ain’t interesting.”
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Actress Rene Russo came forward about her diagnosis of Bipolar II on the Queen Latifah Show in 2014, “For all the people that are having trouble and maybe feel bad about taking medication… it’s okay — you will make it through.”

 

 

Why Bipolar Has Kept Me Off Dating Apps!

“It’s the world we live in Hannah, face it” is what was said by my best friend when I told her I refused to get on a ‘dating’ application on my phone.  After a couple beers, she persuaded me to download one.  As you are aware, like with any social media, the profile picture and fio come first (fake bio).  The process begins…

Her: “You need a tagline”

Me: “okay…Don’t leave home without it

Her: “Hannah thats the fucking American Express tagline”

 …damnit I forgot she was in the marketing profession.  

Me: “Okay…Do you enjoy going to the circus?  Well if your answer is yes, you wont regret buying a ticket for this show (winky face)”

Her:  “They will totally think your slutty.  No we are going to say…college student who loves a good IPA beer and having fun with friends.”

Me:  “Um…I like not love IPA’s and I’m fucking allergic to cats”  

END of PART I

Okay so here is the deal, I am not saying I want to write, “My name is Hannah. I love writing my blog about having Bipolar II, drinking the occasional bottle of wine and taking selfies to boost my self esteem,” but what was written was so freaking cliche.  The thing is, it is hard for me to put on an act.  I do not like to talk about surface shit, because it is not exciting.  “So do you like animals?” “Don’t you enjoy this weather?”  No, I want to know, “If you could have your dream job what would be?”  “What is your shoe size?”   I guess this is a problem, but the moment someone views my primped up, photoshopped profile picture (not that it is not already), and reads the ‘about me’ they have created an image of what they want me to be, and I never live up to that expectation.  Im not a trophy wife, I am good glass of whiskey on a summer day at dusk.  I cannot go into a situation comfortable knowing that the only reason a person wants to meet me is because of my looks, the fact that I like IPA beers and cats aka I am a hot alcoholic cat lady who might be easy after a few 10% beers.  

I got on the dating app and began the ‘swiping’ process.  “Swipe left, no swipe right” was the conversation for a whole 125 seconds (I counted).  

Me: “I cant judge a person based on their picture, would if they are the love of my life but were having a bad hair day.”  

Her: “Come on Hannah, just have fun with it.”

Fun? Okay so here is what it comes down to.  I have a disease that a huge chunk of society is critical about.  “I cant swipe you because your not good looking” is translated as, “I cant hire you becuase you are mentally ill,”  “I cant marry you becuase you are mentally ill.”  I live with a mental illness that gets ‘swiped’ by society everyday.  Dating applications make us think that because someone didnt swipe us, we are not good enough.  We try so hard to appear as someone we are not, and it ends up backfiring when a person gets to know you.  The you that gets too drunk sometimes, or likes to sing to Backstreet Boys in the shower; the you that isn’t religious or is overly religious, the you that wakes up and looks like Lindsey Lohan…the mugshot version; the you that has a mental illness that can make life a rollercoaster at times.  My life can be complicated and I hold onto love being uncomplicated, natural and not judgmental.

 My best friend went to the bathroom and I deleted the app, looked to the sky and said, “thank you lord for making me insane enough to be sane.”  Sorry guys, no swiping for this bipolar betch ass any time soon.