Tag Archives: Bipolar disorder

Schizophrenia and Poverty, Crime and Violence



Schizophrenia and Poverty, Crime and Violence
For people who have schizophrenia, and don’t get treatment, the result is far too often that they end up homeless or in jail (most often due to minor offenses).
  • Approximately 200,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive (bipolar disorder) illness are homeless, constituting one-third of the approximately 600,000 homeless population (total homeless population statistic based on data from Department of Health and Human Services). These 200,000 individuals comprise more than the entire population of many U.S. cities, such as Hartford, Connecticut; Charleston, South Carolina; Reno, Nevada; Boise, Idaho; Scottsdale, Arizona; Orlando, Florida; Winston Salem, North Carolina; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Abilene, Texas or Topeka, Kansas.
  • At any given time, there are more people with untreated severe psychiatric illnesses living on America’s streets than are receiving care in hospitals. Approximately 90,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness are in hospitals receiving treatment for their disease.
    Source: Treatment…

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The Awful Stigma of Mental Illness

Human Brain

Human Brain

Between 70% and 90% of people who are looking for employment and who have been diagnosed with a mental illness do not find work! Let me rephrase this. The unemployment rate of people with diagnosed mental illness is close to insurmountable.

What is it about mental illness that frightens us so? Why would a boss hire someone with a physical disease (as long as they knew it was not contagious) but fear employing a person with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia?

Let’s imagine a piece of a conversation during an employment interview in which a qualified applicant for a customer service representative position is very straightforward and tells the human resource person they self-inject insulin due to having Type 1 diabetes. I think we can all correctly assume this would in no way negatively impact being considered for the job.

But what if that same applicant informed the human resource person that they were diagnosed schizophrenic and were on medication because they hear voices? So what is it about mental illness that we find so awful?


I have always believed that people fear more of what they cannot see than what they can see. The unknown is more frightening than the known is to most people. And mental illness is something that doesn’t show up on an x-ray. Although we are making significant breakthroughs in learning more about the way the brain works, for most of us, it is still ‘uncharted territory” and as such, much more likely to be feared.

But there is more to it than that. There also is a sense of pessimism involved or seeing the glass half empty. Since we don’t know much about the way the brain works, it stands to reason that we don’t know that much about the way it doesn’t work correctly either. This means we don’t understand the way disorders work. So why do people so frequently choose to think the worst? What reason do we have to believe if we hire the person with schizophrenia, that person will ‘go off’ rather than be extremely creative? What makes us focus on the negative aspects of mental illness rather than some of the other aspects of different brain functions?

Site of Navy Yard Shootings

It most certainly doesn’t help when a man goes on a killing rampage the way Aaron Alexis, the Washington DC Navy Yard killer, did last month and the news comes across about how he suffered from mental illness. Then that becomes the main focus of the news and people who are likely to hold negative views toward mental disorders feed off that. It is almost as if when something like this occurs, it can be used as proof by those who already stigmatize the mentally ill.

The popular mindset is that education is the only antidote to prejudice. I would like to say that I believe it works, but I know too many people who refuse to be confused by the facts because they already have their minds made up. For the time being, I am afraid mental illness stigmas are going to be around for a while and it will continue to be a seriously uphill battle for those effected by it.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

I am not bipolar, I have it.


I am not Bipolar.  I have Bipolar.  It is not me, and I live with it, but I do not allow it to have me.

I know, this is all quibbling with language, but when we use language to think, to define ourselves and who we are, our words and their meanings become vital.  All to often, people are classified, or classify themselves as “Bipolar”, as if it were a nationality, culture, heritage or something that defines who we are.

I refuse.

Cancer patients don’t call themselves,”Cancerous”, although Cancer decides much of what they do and how they live.  They have Cancer.  Some lie down and allow their lives to go the way they go.  Some fight tooth and nail.  Some ignore it completely, living with it to the end.  There may be an exception somewhere to this, but I haven’t met anyone who said,”I am cancerous.”  They have it.

So, that’s my attitude.  It’s not for everyone, and if you are a “Bipolar” and embrace it, then good for you.  It’s not for me.

How do I fight?

First of all, I take the position that, despite the way my decision making abilities are tied to my emotion and energy and the way that they don’t always make any rational sense, I am the decision maker here.  If I choose to start behaving in a way that is a danger to myself or someone else, I made that choice.  I own it.  It may have been a poor choice, and may have been helped along by having Bipolar, but I made the decision to do X.  No one made me do it but me.

This position has it’s good and bad points.  It allows me to claim control over something, when internally it’s as if I’m mostly an observer.  Society appears to be all in favor of me lying down and claiming,”But, I’m bipolar, and I am out of control.”  I don’t want that.  I am 36 years old.  I’m a father, and if one of my kids says,”I was out of control”, as a parent, I still punish them for acting badly.  I have more control than a 4 or 8 or 12 year old, even if that control extends only to,”This is getting too hard, I need help.”  It allows me to live and be productive and helpful and a positive influence on my friends and family.  It makes me “happy”.

Secondly, I pay attention.  I pay a LOT of attention to what is going on with me internally.  For example:  Right now, I am a tad stressed, but not bad.  I’m on an “upswing” towards a potential hypo or hyper manic phase, but I won’t know how far it will go until I get there, but I know it bears careful attention to my sleeping patterns and closer scrutiny of decision making.  My chest has that odd “excitement/panic/fear/happiness” tingle to it.  My muscles are “sparkly” as I describe it, that sensation of when the adrenalin is about to drop into your system before a competitive race or something.  My thoughts are quick, but not racing, yet.  This all means that my patience is less, my temper is shorter, and I should probably not make any major decisions on my own and without reflection right now.

I know what I need to do, and the decision is mine as to whether to do the things that will allow me to continue to live and be a “good” influence on those around me or not.

Third, I try to focus my energy on things that are intangible , if I have an excess.  If I am manic and not sleeping, I will try to make myself consider philosophical thoughts, and if possible, engage someone in discussion.  Maybe I’ll pay attention to a social issue, and research it until I feel that I can come to a reasonable conclusion.  Maybe I’ll work on some creative writing.  I know that, me being me, I should try to avoid people that might take advantage of my heightened energy and such until it calms down.

I know what you may be thinking,”That’s not what so many other people say/think/write”.  Nope.  It’s not.  This is what works for me and how I think.

Should Bipolar be fought against or embraced?  I think that’s a decision each of us has to make on our own.  To me, embracing bipolar means “riding the roller coaster”, or more accurately, trying to form my life to where the roller coaster takes me.  If it were just me that I was responsible for, this might be a reasonable choice for me, but other people are effected by everything I say and do.  I choose to accept this responsibility to those people I love and care about and try to set aside my own feelings as I can.

Sometimes, it gets to be too much, and I have to tell everyone that I must take a break.  They can react how they like, but sometimes I have to tell the rest of the world that, for a little while, they can all go hang, or they will be without my influence.  This is a complication to the way I deal with life that the average “boss” will not accept or understand, and that’s ok.  I live within the means that I am able to create for myself or have access to.

I am an individual.  I am not Bipolar, I have it.  It does not define me, that is something I choose.  I do not fit into the “bipolar” category.  I don’t think that anyone really does.  Sometimes I am up so high that the world seems distant and beside the point.  Sometimes I’m so low that the world is monster threatening to destroy me.  It is not those times where I can do this stuff on my own.

So, I work on it.  I think through things, to the point that I research and plan things to the point of it being ridiculous at times.  My thought process is slow and complex, as I sort through information and determine the importance of it in order to come to a decision.  The way I do things internally doesn’t work out very well if I choose to follow an unplanned impulse.  I don’t do well in oral conversation, not having time to think about what I’m trying to say or having an easy way to rewind what has been said and make sure that my own impressions are accurate.  It allows me to live, though, and I’m used to it now.

There have been times I was in a hospital because, well, that’s where the rollercoaster had taken me.  I rode the rollercoaster into a dark, seemingly unending depression, or a manic phase dotted with delusions and hallucinations, or worse, into some bizarre mix of hyperactivity and depression, or a complete lack of energy and a nice dose of racing thoughts and grand ideas that, while grand, were impossible.

It has not been an easy road.  I did not get to this point at the flip of a switch or by taking a magic pill.  I have been fighting for 20 years since my first episode.  Therapy, meds of various kinds, and lots and lots of internal work and thought and reflection.

I know that it only takes a small slip to wind up back in a hospital, so I am careful.  If I see that I am on the way “up” or “down” or otherwise entering a realm where my decisions may not be the greatest, I try to act ahead of time, talking to people who will help me to make good decisions and good choices that allow me to continue.  If the help I get in “public” is not enough, then I may seek something more intensive, but I avoid that option if possible.

I am not bipolar.  I have it.  It does not define me.  I do that.  This is my mantra.  Every day that I wake up and lead a relatively normal appearing existence is a success.  Every day that I wake up and simply live, exist, function enough to get things done that make others’ lives easier is a success.  The only failure, for me, is to board the rollercoaster and raise my hands and let life happen to me.

Will it work for you?  That’s up to you.  Do I think anyone else should or should not choose to fight and live as I do?  No.  That’s up to you and your life and situation.  This is mine though.

It’s my life.  Because I am not bipolar.  I am me.  I am an individual.  I can not be defined as bipolar any more than I can define you as bipolar.  Who you are is your choice.  It may be the only choice you get to make, so make the choice that will make you happy and that will allow you to live as well as possible.

But, I define myself, and I am not bipolar.  I have it.

Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties


Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties

By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 9, 2013

Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception DifficultiesAlthough less severe, patients with bipolar disorder share many of the same cognitive difficulties as patients with schizophrenia — including problems with identifying facial expressions, emotions and facial gender, according to a new study.

Past research has shown that people with schizophrenia have clear cognitive deficits with respect to emotional perception.

Individuals with bipolar share many of the same genetic and environmental risk factors as those with schizophrenia, yet it has been unclear whether or not they share the same functional impairments.

To investigate this further, Jonathan K. Wynn, recently conducted a study which included 30 patients with schizophrenia, 57 with bipolar, and 30 with no history of any mental health problem.

About half of the participants with bipolar were on antipsychoticmedication during the study. Wynn showed the participants pictures of faces displaying emotions of fear, sadness, happiness, anger, or disgust.

He then had had them look at neutral facial expressions. The participants were instructed to identify the emotion on the first experiment and the gender of the face on the second experiment.

The patients with schizophrenia had the hardest time correctly identifying the facial expressions. The participants with bipolar identified the emotions more accurately, but took much longer to do so. And when they did, their scores were still much lower than the control group’s results.

When Wynn evaluated gender recognition abilities, he found again that both bipolar and schizophrenic patients had problems recognizing facial gender. These results were similar for both the bipolar patients who were taking medication and those who were not.

“Schizophrenia patients show deficits at multiple stages of facial affect processing whereas the deficits in bipolar disorder seem to be less severe and appear at the later stage of affect decoding,” said Wynn.

Despite those differences, the study clearly shows that people with bipolar can face challenges in social settings due to delays and impairments in cognitive processing.

Source:  Psychological Medicine

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2013). Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/02/09/bipolar-schizophrenia-share-similar-emotional-perception-difficulties/51409.html

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College Students Speak about Mental Illness



College classes begin in five or six weeks. How do you prepare for college if you have a mental illness?

These brave and articulate Leeds University students share their experience of coping with mental illness during their college years.



Presenting our new contributor



We have so far gotten about 5-6 guest bloggers who publish posts for us sometimes. The blog owner is very thankful for this, and am now happy to introduce another guest-blogger who works with a lot of different patients groups.

She is an emergency room togethersocial worker (LMSW) with a background in child protective services, eating disorder studies, bipolar studies, and CBT/DBT.

About Hayleybug

You don’t often get a do-over in life.  This time I’m following a dream.  I’m following my gut.  And I’m gonna love every minute of it.

Join me and Elliot as we chase our dreams (and more often our tails) in the great state of New York.  This Bug is finally where she’s supposed to be.  🙂