Saturday, 25 May 2013

Where Is My Mind

With your feet on the air

And your head on the ground

Try this trick and spin it,yeah

Your head'll collapse

If there's nothing in it

And then you'll ask yourself

Where is my mind.

What is stigma to me? Stigma is when people judge me for having a mental health condition. Stigma to me can be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about my mental illness or my treatment. Or it may be subtle, such as someone assuming that I could be unstable, violent or dangerous because I have a mental health condition. Now you may think to yourself, have I encountered this? The answer is yes I have and its quite a terrible thing. What have I done to try and cope with my mental health? I have tried to educate myself as much as I can about  having bi-polar so I can speak with the best of people and tell them how I cope with living with what I have to live with. I was told I should never say "I am bipolar" I am not a illness. I have bipolar is the approach I always use. I try as much as I can to speak out for mental health I am only a small voice. If I was more successful I am sure I would be able to make more of an impact on the subject of Mental Health.

Things in Ireland that I feel need to change for the better regarding Mental Health are as follows. When someone is in a depressed and in a low state of mind and they want to speak to a friend, the last thing they want to hear is "Billy came around to my house last night and he spent all night talking the last thing I want is him calling at 7pm in the evening".  Maybe you are not aware of it, but this type of comment is a major factor. The time when I had planned to take my own life, I felt I had no one to talk to and no one would listen to me. I am sure many of you can relate to that in someway or the other.
This business of meeting people lets say in the morning and you are trying to be in good spirits and you are having a joke and a laugh and people say "oh did you take the happy pills this morning" now I can take it they do not know my situation and know that I take bipolar medication but it reinforces an idea to me that hang on a second you can not be happy you are better of sad and when you are sad don't call to my house to speak about it because really when I am at home I don't give a damn about you or your problems. You may look at that and say "oh its just a remark Ciaran" well its these things that need to change and then it will be ok in my eyes.

Bipolar this idea that its just happy one minute and sad the next, really gets under my skin. I found these Myths and Facts which I think are very helpful.

Myths and Facts About Bipolar Disorder

Myth: People with bipolar disorder can’t get better or lead a normal life.

Fact: Many people with bipolar disorder have successful careers, happy family lives, and satisfying relationships. Living with bipolar disorder is challenging. But with treatment, healthy coping skills, and a solid support system, you can live fully while managing your symptoms.

Myth: People with bipolar disorder swing back and forth between mania and depression.

Fact: Some people alternate between extreme episodes of mania and depression, but most are depressed more often than they are manic. Mania may also be so mild that it goes unrecognized. People with bipolar disorder can also go for long stretches without symptoms.

Myth: Bipolar disorder only affects mood.

Fact: Bipolar disorder also affects your energy level, judgment, memory, concentration, appetite, sleep patterns, sex drive, and self-esteem. Additionally, bipolar disorder has been linked to anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, migraines, and high blood pressure.

Myth: Aside from taking medication, there is nothing you can do to control bipolar disorder.

Fact: While medication is the foundation of bipolar disorder treatment, therapy and self-help strategies also play important roles. You can help control your symptoms by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating right, monitoring your moods, keeping stress to a minimum, and surrounding yourself with supportive people.  quoted from Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D

I feel employers really need to develop a better understanding of mental health in Ireland Now I know this subject can be open for debate, I don't wish it to be. I just want people to understand that I wish to be able to have the right to say' listen before I start this job, I might have an appointment once a month with the doctor and I don't want to tell you a lie and say its for subject matter X ,when really its because I have bipolar and I need to go see the psychiatrist. ,This is not going to affect my work, i'll even be more creative than most of the other people you have working for you but I feel lets just have a honest relationship and let me show you that I can work and work well. I have bipolar under wraps and its not going to affect my work'.

I hope this sheds some light on the subject for people and lets them understand where I see things over on my side of the road. I'll come stand on your side of the road if you ask me over.

Thanks for reading,

Ciaran Behan.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

“We read to know we are not alone.” ― C.S. Lewis

“Creativity is closely associated with bipolar disorder. This condition is unique . Many famous historical figures and artists have had this. Yet they have led a full life and contributed so much to the society and world at large. See, you have a gift. People with bipolar disorder are very very sensitive. Much more than ordinary people. They are able to experience emotions in a very deep and intense way. It gives them a very different perspective of the world. It is not that they lose touch with reality. But the feelings of extreme intensity are manifested in creative things. They pour their emotions into either writing or whatever field they have chosen"  ― Preeti Shenoy
This Extract was taken from Life is what you make it

I guess you are wondering what I am planning to get at - well I am going to explain.. I think you may like this. Let us go back to last Christmas. I was deciding on what present I was going to get Mellor's niece 'M' who I see as my own niece. I planned to do something quite special for her Christmas present. The girl in question is in her Junior Cert year in school and I have deep admiration for her, she is a very special young lady. I have seen her grow over the last 11 years and I can see a lot of my own experiences in life in what she faces on a day to day basis. I said to myself I would set out on a task that would be carried out over most of the year. This task was going to be set around reading. I have a great passion for reading and public libraries. I thought to myself I would introduce the 'M' to reading and with some luck that would help her find a love for books and the library.

The plan started that 'M' would get a book for Christmas called 'Noughts and Crosses' by  Malorie Blackman -  the reason I picked this, was it had a hidden message on racism. She got the present on Christmas day along with an envelope which stated if she wanted to enter the "Ciarán Behan Christmas present extravaganza 2012/2013" she would have to agree to certain terms and conditions. If she didn't want to take part, she could just read the book and we would not start the task. Needless to say she said she would enter the "Ciarán Behan Christmas present extravaganza 2012/2013" The guidelines had been set out that she would have to read the book in a six week deadline and present herself to my house on the Saturday. The reason behind this was that she could spend time with myself & Mellors and make a day of it.

On the night I get the room set up like a mock style interview to build to the whole scene of 10 questions for the book. I have a YES marked envelope and a NO marked envelope on the mantle piece also a ? marked envelope up there. The Yes is given if she passes the No is given if she fails. ( the aim is never to fail ) The ? contains the 10 questions on which I will ask all about the book. So for the first book, she was able to answer all of the questions and the Yes envelope was handed to her, while the No envelope and questions were put in the fire never to be seen again. That's the killing part to wonder what is in that no envelope! Within the Yes envelope is a handwritten letter congratulating her on the brilliant effort that was made and an explanation that part 2 of the "Ciaran Behan Christmas present extravaganza 2012/2013" is going to be a (you guessed it) a book. I plan to continue this all the way to October leading to the penultimate ending of her reading 'Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West' by Gregory Maguire.

My aim is to give the young lady in question the 1) Joy of reading and 2) show her that working for something can really pay off if you stick with it. I will never tell her the aims of this project  I hope these life lessons will stick with her and maybe not today or tomorrow but some day the penny will drop and she will see what this nearly year long project was all about. For myself, this is a great thing to do and I am very proud of this project as I have learned a lot about myself and how I can be very good at things if I put my mind to it. So far to date the feedback from the young lady has been amazing, she loved the books she has read. So I shall list for you the books we have done so far and what is in the pipeline.

1) Noughts & Crosses By Malorie Blackman

2) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time By Mark Haddon

3) The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. Salinger

4) The Fault in Our Stars By John Green

5) Wild Swans By Jung Chang

6) Pay it Forward By Catherine Ryan Hyde

7) Trinity By Leon Uris

8) Lord of the Flies By William Golding

9) Animal Farm By George Orwell

10) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West By Gregory-Maguire

All these books I feel will have key messages and will serve a purpose. My plan for the last book number 10 is to get everyone in the family together and make it a big night as when she opens that YES envelope it will explain that I will be bringing her to see Wicked in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre and we will have a weekend out in Dublin and have some fun. This is just a simple idea that has so many benefits for any young person. Feel free to take this idea and make it your own as I really believe we should never forget about the simple things in life.

Remember folks, we also have some of the best public libraries in Europe and they are free to use. Stop in say hello and join up. Don't think just because you have a E-reader they are of no use to you now, the library also loans e-books.

Thanks for reading,

Ciaran Behan

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sugar and the lack of it.

It has been a long time since I have updated my blog so I decided to get back into the swing of things. Well some of you who are reading will know from my twitter feed that I was told I have Diabetes back in October 2012. I knew I had a problem but what that problem was I did not know as I had been taking anti psychotics for my bipolar and I was noticing that my craving for sugary products like coke and sweet food and junk food was going through the roof. I will say I was not just overloading myself with these products as I am quite aware of the dangers of what happens to you if you do. I did however start to increase as weeks had passed. The real tell tale sign was my trips to the toilet I was urinating around 12 times a day.

So I went to the doctor ( GP ) and he had told me it could be from the medication and I would need to speak to my psychiatrist. I see more medical professionals then I  know what these days on account of my bipolar. Which is not a bad thing I know as I am very lucky to have the care that I do and I would never complain. Its just a bit confusing on who I should go to for what at times ha ha. I explained my case to the psychiatrist and I said for me I am at a level that I feel I do not need to be taking anti psychotic medication. ( I would like to state if you are taking this medication do not be alarmed if you feel you have a problem please talk you your doctor DO NOT just stop taking these tablets)  So I came of the medication and we had to wait a certain amount of time before we could get a proper reading on my blood. At the time I was on Olanzapine trade name Zyprexa This drug has been in the Irish news before on the 17th of January (my birthday)

Lets roll on to the 9th October 2012 I got a phone call from my GP to go into him he had my results of my lithium levels and my blood sugar results. He broke the news to me that I had type 2 Diabetes and I had a serious amount of life style changes to make. My reading for the test ( I don't know the name ) was 82. If I am honest been told I had Diabetes and also having bipolar broke my heart. You may think " oh you still have your health" well it is not really that way to me. I just feel like I am a broke man and nothing works correct in my body at all. It had a really knock on affect to me and put a right dip in my mood.

My plan of attack was to start and cut out as much sugar out of my diet. Everything became brown, rice pasta & bread. All my fluids became water no juice no coke nothing just plain H20. I cut normal potatoes out also and changed them to sweet potatoes. Now the odd time I would have something of a treat maybe a small slice of apple tart as I was told not to deprive myself of everything but learn small is good. My three square meals a day became six small meals. I did not rush out to join the gym as they said fitness was key I said I would do twenty minutes walk a day.

All of what I have listed was my battle plan for Diabetes type two. While having bipolar in my shadows now this new enemy was not going to get the better of me.  I broke the news to Mellors and she as always told me it was going to be grand and I am going to pull through. That in its self is all I need to hear as she is never wrong in my eyes. I broke the news to my second Twitter as always the feedback was super and people were quick to lend a hand. To name a few Margaret Smith gave me some super recipes which I am very grateful for. Emotional support was never far from hand from Ireland's only freelance independent nurse specialising in diabetes  Helena Farrell if I ever had a question she was happy to help me or point me in the right direction. I have to say Helen Major was a super help from the USA always checking in with me to see how I am coping and sending me on very useful information as she had a lot of first hand experience. I would say a lifesaver Those are to name a few and again I am very grateful. I have followed my regime not very strict but tight enough it really is not enjoyable but it becomes OK over time. I said to myself when I first started taken my medication for bipolar when my tablets start to  fall in numbers that would be a sign that I was getting better. So now we have to add two extra tablets a day on top of the other medication for bipolar was a little thing going off in my head saying " Ciaran you are not getting better you are getting more sick" I learned to deal with this and really accepted it for what it was.

I say to myself sometimes if it was just bipolar or just diabetes it would be OK but two at the one time really has a effect on my all ready new found sheltered lifestyle. These are just some of the random thoughts that float through this 0/100 miles a hour brain of mine. When I break it down if I am honest it has not been that hard to deal with just a lot of discipline and allow yourself the odd treat. So if you are reading this I just wanna tell you it is hard to start with but once you get on top of every thing you will be grand and I was lucky to have a lot of support from a wonderful partner that is Mellors.

I got my blood results on Monday 13th May ( which i get taken once a month ) and I am nearly in the clear a nice ol reading of 59 so I got a nice big 2 litre of coke a cola and a apple crumble. The party is over and I am back on track to my normal regime. I hope it is not long until I am in the clear I think ill stick to this lifestyle and just have the odd treat anyway.

Thanks for reading

Ciaran Behan