Thursday, May 29, 2008


This posting is in response to an email I received. I want this blog to be an open dialogue with sharing from both sides. That is why I want to answer this on the blog. Smocked, first of all, I know exactly how you are feeling and the turmoil I am sure is a mixture of extreme love and exasperating frustration. I was very saddened when you wrote that your mother is "still" sick.
Here is the bad news first. She will always be sick. Every day when you get up she will "still" be sick. Bipolar does not go away. It is not cured. It is a condition that must be lived with daily until death. But, here is the good news. Bipolar can be maintained and controlled to an extent. I don't know what level your loved one is. My mother enjoyed the whole nine yards, so to speak. We saw and lived with the extreme depression (fetal position under the bed), to high manic episodes (running down the road naked at 3:00am with police involvement). This may sound very matter of fact on this blog, but believe me I never thought I would openly admit or discuss what my beloved mother was capable of doing. In my opinion, we need open dialogue for the general public to drop their shield of unbelief that regular Americans can live this way. There are hundreds of books written by the diagnosed person. Those books sell. People love to read about how crazy someone can be and the ridiculous scenarios they place themselves in. This is Monday night TV. If you read a few of them it is quickly tiring to read about their imagined fears. Quite boring if you ask me. When I wrote my book I got a lot of grief from some of the Mental Illness forums. In fact, I stopped attending or reading them. I understand that the diagnosed person needs sympathy. That is one of the problems. They get ALL our attention. The loved ones who are living with or taking care of them spend ALL their time with the maintenance of this "disorder". The family needs kindness and understanding as well. You are not alone and there are a lot of us out there but our stories don't sell as well as stark mania.
My advice to you? Learn patience. Meditate and take care of yourself. Your mother now is someone who needs you to watch out for her and care for her. Your mother's role on this earth is probably done as far as being your mother. You are the mother now and know that she won't live forever and there will be a different life after bipolar. Learn to enjoy your mother and try not to take everything so seriously. I used this poem at my mother's funeral.

Let nothing upset you;
Let nothing frighten you.
Everything is changing;
Patience attains the goal.
Who has God lacks nothing;
God alone fills every need.
St. Teresa of Avilla

I am not particularly religious, especially since I witnessed my mother constantly getting messages from God himself and acting on those messages. To each his own. But the comfort I found in this poem was the first four lines.
Good luck and please let me hear from you. Thanks for reading my book.


Mental Comedy??

When some of my peers read my book A Bipolar Quandary, they state that some of the manic episodes written about seem funny now. I quickly tell them that to live through those episodes was certainly not funny, but I can see how humor would be a powerful tool in coping with people who have a mental illness.

Vancouver-based counsellor and stand-up comic David Granirer, author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead To Happiness and Success, is teaming up with the Powell River branch of the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) once again to offer stand-up comedy as a form of therapy. Granirer, whose work was profiled in the CBC documentary Cracking Up, is the founder of Stand Up For Mental Health, a project wherein people with mental illness turn their problems into comedy then perform their acts onstage. "Doing comedy about their illness builds participants' self-esteem and helps reduce public stigma around mental illness," said Granirer, who himself suffers from depression. "Laughing in the face of pain makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with a mental illness."
Stand Up For Mental Health comedy troupe performed to a sold-out audience in Powell River in 2006, said Lin Johnson, regional coordinator of the BCSS. "So we decided to bring them back and have been able to do so with help from the Powell River Community Foundation. We think this is a great way to reach out to the community and change people's perceptions of what it means to have a mental health issue."

This year's performance includes two Powell River comics who have been working with Granirer over the past year to hone their skills and fine-tune their routines. "For many years, mental health has been a big part of my life and I have never seen anything that works as well as a good laugh in bringing people together and making them feel good about themselves," Paul McIsaac said.As well, Granirer brings Eufemia Fantetti to join the comedy troupe this year. Fantetti performed her one-woman play My Own Private Etobicoke, to a warm reception during the BCSS Nothing to Hide Film Festival in 2005 and 2006.The Stand Up For Mental Health comics will perform at 7 pm on Saturday, June 7 in the Max Cameron Theatre. Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for seniors and students, and are available at the door or at Breakwater Books. A limited number of complimentary tickets are available for individuals with low incomes. For more information on these complimentary tickets, readers can contact Shainil

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Children and parents are victims also.

Scroll down this widget please to find an article from Newsweek Magazine on a child who is bipolar. As educators, we are seeing this more and more in our classroom and are excited that our students may be getting the correct medical diagnosis and treatment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Misunderstood MS

One of my special ed. students has MS. He is a third grader whose mother is in rehab for substance abuse. He lives at home with his father and his step sister. The father is currently raising the daughter of his wife, a child fathered by another man. So in the home of my student are himself (a third grade student), his father and his step-older sister. The father is working full-time and trying to raise two children. My student, I'll call him Tom, has already been retained in his short life one grade and is currently failing the third grade because he has not been able to pass the standardized test mandated by the state. I mention him here because of his MS. He has changed in his emotional substance since the first of the year this year. He is now angry, and does not want to work hard at school and just is exhibiting signs of just total apathy. Another hard luck story. It is hard enough that he has to learn to manage and live with his MS. His regular home life, I am sure, has him currently entering depression which will add some form of mental illness to the equation. He is being recommended for a psy-consult. Please stay informed about the effects of MS on young children. This is another area of bias and mis-understood prejudice in America. Here is the link to a fellow blogger who has a MS blog that is worthy of visiting.    

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unusual Post

Nineteen Minutes is a current novel by Jodi Picoult. I am recommending this book as a mother, author, and educator. The topic of "bullying" comes up in all areas of life. It does not stay contained in the realm of elementary school either. It spills over into adult life in a profound way also. This story is about a child who never fits into any social group in school. He spends his whole life being called names and basically bullied. Even his own older brother abuses him in a more than natural brotherly way. One of the issues this book addresses is what happens to a young mind that is constantly barraged with negatives and verbal and sometimes physical abuses from his peers. This is not a pleasant read as it shines to the light issues that are unpleasant. I recommend this book because it does live with the other mental illness issues of the day. This book reveals the stark realities that some students live with each day of their lives. I have students each day tell me that someone is calling them names and "being mean" to them. This is a hard issue to solve in school as the teachers cannot hear every word that comes out of the  mouths of every child. Our young children need to be taught tolerance and acceptance in a large way. Our young children need to understand that there are no real "normals" as far as what is socially correct. The things all humans need to learn is how to love and tolerate each other in this ever expanding universe. Please read this book and teach your children well.
Or if you really think about this deeply and honestly, isn't terrorism just a major form of bullying? One group of humans who think that their way of thinking or their religion or their way of life is the only true way to exist or believe. It may start extremely small, name calling, throwing someone's lunch out the bus window, tripping someone in the hall, or throwing spit balls in someone's hair. Then, because the bullies feel empowered and in a insane way, their belittling of someone else makes them feel larger and more powerful, the pranks escalate to slashing tires or writing graphics on their houses or cars. Before you know it more powerful appliances will be employed like guns and/or bombs. This may sound out of line, but most people, if honest, would agree that is what terrorism is anyway. Tolerance and acceptance is the same thing as saying we want peace in the world. We want to live together as fellow humans on this planet without destroying the planet and ourselves because of extreme bullying. This is not the average posting I have been posting with the theme of mental illness, but the mentally ill are some of the largest population in America that is misunderstood, least tolerated, and treated with extreme prejudice and bias. I know this first hand. I realize that some mentally ill are frightening to be around, but they are just sick and need help and medical care and understanding. One of my students is bipolar and he does a fabulous job in the classroom most of the time. He is compassionate and very astute. Sometimes he lashes out in anger when his world is not the extreme structure that he feels comfortable in. The school nurse, just last week, was talking to me about him and labeled this second grader as "just crazy". This really offended me and I told her that she did not get to decide that he was crazy, her job as the school nurse was to treat him with respect and compassion and that was what I expected her to do.
This is an early example of someone in authority labeling someone who is mentally ill in only the second grade. Maybe he is crazy, but she does not get to call him that in my book!