Growing up I only thought depression existed. My mom battled with it and still does. I always just loved life. I was and still am an early riser, “sad” folky music makes me happy, even mundane things like laundry make me feel great (when they’re finished and hung up… I mean who really likes laundry? I could go on.
And we have all felt and dealt with our fair (unfair) share of heartbreak and aches. I remember dealing with something traumatic that lingered for a few years and went to the doctor. She suggested I took Lexapro. I was terrified and mortified. I couldn’t be depressed! That’s for broken people or so I thought then. But you know what? I was a little broken. Praying, exercising, eating healthy, enjoying my one healthy child (I hadn’t had Jack yet) wasn’t “fixing” me. And I needed some help. I took it for 2 1/2 years and I have zero shame in that NOW. I got pregnant with Jack and prayed I wouldn’t get PPD. And I didn’t! 🙌🏻 BUT so.many.moms.do.! And are afraid to reach out for help because of the nasty stigma that goes along with that. I’ll post again on PPD because I think it’s an important topic but this post is about something different.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. For example: Someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may believe she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers. Someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may believe he is ruined and penniless, or that he has committed a crime. As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.
People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.
Bipolar or any mental illness really coupled with substance abuse is scary. It’s the feeling of waiting for a bomb to go off. Never knowing what that person is capable of and fear taking over the amount of love, compassion, hope, & patience that once existed for that person. It breaks up families. They aren’t in control. How could they be? And no amount of reasoning, pleading, reassurance, etc. will work.
I don’t struggle with bipolar disorder or substance abuse but I’ve been directly effected by it. And it’s awful beyond words. In one study for example (Psychology Today) of 314 people, 8.4% were capable of or had committed violent crimes when substance abuse was present as opposed to 1.0-1.5% of those that just had the disorder. That’s quite a difference, right? It’s not only awful for the loved ones but for the person themselves living with this disease(s) and something must be done.
A 2009 DOC study revealed,
that 55% of incarcerated offenders with some form of mental illness had been convicted of only non-violent offenses. Among the prison population, over 40% were for drug and alcohol offenses. Putting people with mental illness or addiction behind bars is not effective in either reducing crime or helping these individuals recover from their illness. Also, for someone on a prison mental health unit, the cost jumps to approximately $175 per day as opposed to $48. Providing appropriate mental health services to someone in the community to keep them from entering the criminal justice system costs approximately $15/day!
Certainly, I am NOT saying that those that have VPO’s for example, violate them, etc. shouldn’t have to have consequences. They absolutely should. Nor am I saying that someone that commits a violent crime shouldn’t be penalized. I am saying that if that individual has a mental illness along with substance abuse rehabilitation should be looked at first. Mental illness NEEDS to be treated. And the stigma that goes along with it needs to disappear.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml (mental illness)
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline (mental illness and substance abuse)
http://www.thehotline.org/blog/get-help-today/ (domestic violence)