Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Guest Post - It's Not Easy to be Bipolar - by Anja Burcak


 


“…People walk on their tippy toes not to say anything cruel to you and everything that’s been going on.”



At first, when you made ignorant statements about my bipolar disorder, I let it slide. I tried to justify it by saying that you didn’t have the background knowledge regarding what it really means to be depressed, manic, or even suicidal. Maybe, you didn’t know better. You didn’t realize how hurtful the remarks you made were to me. But, now, after three years since my first bipolar episode, it seems like you aren’t even trying to understand.

It’s easier to see depression as someone not even trying anymore rather than a devastating illness that impacts everything from concentration to sleep to “will to live”.

It’s easier to see self-harm or suicidal ideation as “attention-seeking” behaviors than as symptoms of severe, suicidal depression.

It’s easier to see full-blown mania as controllable periods of being reckless, irresponsible, and impulsive, rather than as the course of the illness that I have not been able to control at all.

It’s easier to see medication non-compliance as stupidly being stubborn rather than a result of severe side effects that impacted my ability to see, eat, or even walk.

It’s easier to see my mental health and suicide prevention efforts as a silly waste of time rather than efforts which have already led some people I personally know to seek help.

It’s easier to stick to the false sense that you know what it means to have a bipolar disorder diagnosis than it is to actually educate yourself on the manic, depressive, and mixed features of my illness.

It’s easier to blame me as a person than it is to acknowledge that I have a mental illness that is terrifying, one that some research suggests is progressive and even neurodegenerative in nature.

It’s so easy to have a stigmatizing view on mental illnesses. That view is on display everywhere, from news headlines to tabloid covers. There is “us”, the normal ones, and “them”, the “crazy” ones. Maybe you don’t appear to take my mental illness seriously because it’s embarrassing to have a family member with mental illness, especially one who publicizes it on social media and through multiple online platforms. It’s not easy to hide me.

I hope one day you will be proud of me, rather than ashamed. I want you to understand what I am battling on a daily basis, not judge me for my illness. You wouldn’t attack someone for their battle with a physical chronic condition, so I wish you wouldn’t do it for my mental chronic illness. This isn’t a phase. This is my life now and we all have to accept the changes, none of which are easy.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Then and Now


A lot of time has passed since my suicide attempt in 2013. Many things have changed. Some for the good, others for the bad. I’ve struggled with hard days, sometimes becoming hard weeks. However, I haven’t been quite as low as I am right now. Days have gone by without me even noticing. Sometimes I don’t even leave my bedroom. I keep it dark and stare off into space with the same TV shows or movies playing repeatedly in the background. I’ve cried, I’ve raged, I’ve even wanted to throw in the towel. This much pain is very difficult to carry.



Quite honestly, after two months of feeling this badly, I’m about to lose hope. I’m forcing myself to keep writing about my feelings so I can perhaps make sense of them.



Everyone always wants to look for a reason when I feel this way. Are you taking your medication? Did you see your doctor? Have you tried yoga? In looking back I realize that I do have a reason for the depression to start, just not necessarily to last as long as it has. In the first week of August, we said goodbye to our beloved cat, Hayley. She was by my side for 18 years. I know I’m still grieving, but there is a difference between just grieving and a major depressive episode.



I miss her so much, I’m not even sure how I’m going to get through this without her. Not being able to wake up to that beautiful face every morning has made my days unbearable.



The heavy burden that is bipolar depression feels nearly impossible to carry. I can’t seem to do it, I’ve tried. I’m not even sure what else to do.



Recently I posted on Twitter that I don’t want to be left behind; I want to stay relevant. I know that probably seems silly considering the battle I’m facing. It’s not silly to me; I worked very hard to try to become a positive influence in the mental health community. We’re taking a month-long hiatus from our podcast so I can recharge, and even that terrifies me. This is the first time I’ve been able to write anything in months.



I’m desperately shrugging off the urge to call this garbage and throw it all away. Still, maybe it will help me…maybe it will help someone reading it. After all, isn’t that the reason why we put ourselves out there like we do? I hope being honest about my struggles lets others know they’re not alone in this fight. Still, I would love to find out how I’m going to climb out from under this dark cloud. Perhaps all it takes is time, and maybe I’m doing everything exactly the way I should be. Maybe I’m not failing as my depression likes to tell me.



One day, I’ll be able to look back on this and be grateful I didn’t give up. Until then, I’m going to have to force myself to stay the course. Remain calm and take it a step at a time. I’ll get there; I just wish I knew when.








Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Guest Post - The Story of Losing and Finding Hope - by Hope Nash



Hello I am Hope, I'm 28 years old and this is part of my story.

First off I would like to say, even though I have diagnosis', they do not define me they do not rule over my life and they do not make me a bad person because they are simply a part of who I am, they are me. I am human, I am empathic and my past created who I am today,

Some who take the time to read this, who know me, may disagree or dispute some of the things I will share, but please remember these are my memories, my outlooks, and my experiences. Despite the fact you may remember it differently to your own knowledge, please don't take offense or mock my words. I am not seeking attention or sympathy, I just want to tell my story. My story of losing and finding Hope.

I guess the first point of my story is where did it begin? Well, I was the result of a young girl mixed with the wrong crowd and a young rebellious guy, both not ready to be parents or give up their youth despite them trying. But, without them I wouldn't be here! 

I was taken away from them when I was around 2 or 3 years old. Social Services placed me in foster for a short while until my grandparents took me in, I spent some lovely years growing and learning and nurtured by them. My father was still around and my mother was turning down further dark tracks during those years. Then, when my grandparents split I started going back and forth to my mother's home, a place I always wanted and fought to get to, even though she had missed so much. 

So, not learning or becoming away just how to be a mother but more a friend I guess, I didn't know, I was young. I got moved around between my mother's, my grandad's, my father's with his wife and my half siblings. I was never settled, so I found it hard to deal with all the changes and I missed a lot of school. Weirdly enough for a while, school became my safe space, until the bullying began. Then I found no peace in a lot of the places. 

Don't get me wrong, I had good times and created some good memories with family and friends. But, I was never truly settled from fear of how long until I would have to move again. Each time I was with my mother, I tried to ignore the fact she was taking a lot of drugs, because she was my mother. I actually tried help her as much as I could. When I was with my grandad, I felt a sense of stress because as much as I loved my grandad and still to this day love him and appreciate the fact he took me and saved me, he didn't know how to deal with a young girl growing up without my nanny there. So, I think he struggled with me, that's the feeling I got anyway. 

When I was at my father's home, I argued with my step sister a lot and the was a lot of drinking and other not so nice things to see there. I wasn't comfortable there, but social services forced me to stay, despite my first ever attempted overdose and outburst. I actually ended up being removed by police officers one night and they overruled social services order, I got back to my mother's that night, but she was just as much into drugs as she had been previously. 

When I was at my auntie's, who was amazing and still to this day, gives me inspiration, direction and makes me feel safe, I was difficult and I guess a lot to handle. She already had her two boys, my fabulous cousins who I am so proud of, they are amazing gentlemen who have done so well in their lives. I was already unsettled and I didn't want anyone but my mother at that point. I often look back and wish I had stayed, but then I wouldn't of become the person I am today.

I am a survivor of uncertainty, change, loss of a lot of my childhood.

At one stage, my mother had a boyfriend who took a shine to me in a way I didn't at the time see. It was the wrong way; he bought me things and told me secrets. He made me feel special while I felt so alone in my surroundings. When eople would argue and confuse me, he made me feel safe, but boy was I wrong. I wasn't safe and I didn't know any better at the time just how unsafe I really was. While others were distracted he took advantage of me, and I was only saved when he got arrested for stealing and was sent to prison. Even then he would send me things, tapes of him reading me stories and cards he handmade. 

Oddly enough, it wasn't until years later watching a TV soap story line that I had actually realized what had happened to me. It made me so angry. I held on to what had happened to me for along time. It wasn't until I was 18 years old that I told my mother what had happened. She was sober at that point. Her first comment was " Is that the truth or are you just saying it to hurt me?" That was a kick in the teeth, to even think I would lie about something that heinous. I am a survivor of child abuse.

From 13/14 years of age, I knew something in my mind wasn't correct. The emotions I felt weren't just sad feelings, they were something more. Doctors told me I was just sad and I would be fine with some antidepressants. I wasn't just fine, I felt crazy because I couldn't understand my own emotions or mind. I had strong feelings of wanting to die and numbness and a loss in direction. I couldn't imagine a future where i was in it; I started sinking lower and lower as i got older, trying to hide it to those around me. 

I got really good at keeping a mask on for everyone, so good, sometimes I would forget for just a moment, but everyday I was fighting with demons inside. It wasn't until my early 20's that I really lost myself and I started blacking out and self harming and taking overdoses. I didn't know how to ask for help and even when I did beg my mother to get me help for my mind, while sitting punching myself in the face, she would panic and not know what to do and leave me to it. After an outburst of emotions, I felt a slight release and better for a little while. It took me a long time to get myself back from this breakdown period. 

I had a specific paramedic who would hear my name on the call out and come see me. She would always talk to me and have a cigarette and she calmed me so much before taking me into the hospital to be checked out and monitored. I was never sectioned or offered mental health help, still i was told I was just depressed. It wasn't until I was 24 years old and 3 breakdowns later, I finally got a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder!

I am a survivor of Suicide attempts and a failed system, I am a BPD Warrior

Let's skip a few years, there was a couple of failed relationships, my past had me feel unwanted and lost a lot of the time. I was drawn to people who gave me attention and promised me they would never walk away, whether it was a healthy relationship or not, it filled that hole inside me that I longed for, for a short while. My relationship choices never seem to end well. I have had some toxic, manipulating, controlling, abusive, some boring, some settled, some good of course, some damn right heartbreaking moments in my relationships but they all have something in common, they were all people who had just as many problems as I did. I've found that never goes well, but I feel I've learned a lot from them and can now look back and see where I was going wrong. Now I can avoid those markers and focus on myself as a person. I spent so long looking for someone to love me, I forgot the most important person, me, I need to love me.

I am a survivor of mental abuse

A few years ago now, I have been getting chronic pain attacks in my neck. It progressed further and further, with doctors giving me paracetamol and telling me it was just a frozen shoulder. Three doctors later they sent me to a specialist who confirmed I had been failed, a simple shoulder problem that was left untreated had damaged nerves further along which caused me misfiring nerve shocks and attacks. I was put on a lot of different medications, my mental health of course started to suffer. 

I lost my dog who was part of my soul which pushed it down even further. I lost a piece of me that day, and being in constant pain, to the point I would sweat and have to lay in the fetal position multiple times a day. Within a few weeks I had tried around 12 different medications to try stop the pain, none even touching the sides of it. I couldn't plan anything, I would go to the shops and have to suddenly get a taxi home from fear of passing out with the pain. Slowly, morphine patches and a few other medications, creams, CBD started helping slightly, but then we had a loss in our family and my pain returned at a new level I had never felt before. 

It moved from my neck to my chest, down my back, my arms, my legs, my hands and feet, every part of me hurt more than I care to remember, we had to get in to see a specialist again, waiting for that referral to the pain clinic and rheumatologist felt like a lifetime. I finally got a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and was referred to a pain management course which teaches you to live with the pain. I mourned my old life and the one where I could be care-free. I took for granted how a pain-free day felt, unfortunately there isn't enough funds and research to find out causes, cures for Fibro. It is thought one way to get it is from bad trauma, it is progressive and is incurable, but during my pregnancy it subsided, which is has been linked to do with many cases, so I have had pain free days again. I can run and play with my son, I try appreciate the freedom of pain while it is at bay, I am trying to get healthy and keep exercising and I wont lie, some days I feel a creeping pain and I try my best to ignore it and focus on the good,

I am a pain survivor, Fibro Warrior

Overall, I am doing well and I have myself together. I have a wonderful little boy who is my world and amazing friends and family around me. I am posting and interacting with new people and trying to reach out to those who need help. Don't get me wrong, I have my bad days but I have learned and I'm still learning how to pull myself back up and how to recharge myself. I learned that if I stopped fighting with my demons, and learned to work with it, to accept it and to use it to my advantage, things run a lot smoother in my mind and my heart. I am keeping positive and currently on the beginning of a new journey to be able to help others with my experiences, my words, my knowledge. I want people to know they are not alone, they can get through the bad times and find the good,

These recalled moments, are a few of the bad parts of my history, a brief look into my past, the things that changed me and shaped me. I have had many good times and many amazing moments too, they aren't all bad. I look forward to creating many more memories and using the knowledge of my experiences. I know a lot of things to do and also what not to do too! I currently have a good relationship with my father which is lovely and I enjoy his company. I get to see my grandad and to spend time with him again is wonderful. He dotes on his great grandson. My auntie is just down the road, and I love that I can see her and speak to her whenever I want. I still learn so much from her, she's my guardian angel. I wish I could say my mother is in a better stage of her life but unfortunately not, which makes me sad, but I have to focus on myself and my son now. I spent a long time trying to help her, but I forgot to help myself along that journey and now I am a parent, its my life to break the chain and give him the best life I can and show him the beauty of the world!



I shall leave you with my quote, "we are just human beings trying to understand our own minds, stop trying to fit in and start loving every part of who you are"


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Saying Goodbye


There’s a myriad of emotions that person experiences when they lose a beloved pet. For some, it’s not just your run of the mill sadness, it’s a deep-rooted grief that completely cripples you. You always know deep down in your heart that one day you aren’t going to have them anymore. So, you spoil them and cater to their every whim. All because one day you won’t be able to. Especially once they start to get older.



Coping with the loss of my cat, Hayley after 18 years has caused a whole new set of problems. The first being massive panic attacks. Hayley wasn’t technically a therapy pet, but she would have passed with flying colors had I tried to certify her. She checked on me if I coughed, let alone a full-blown panic and crying. So, I’m feeling more alone than I ever thought I would, and having bipolar disorder isn’t helping the situation. I was thoroughly depressed before any of this came up with Hayley, so this piled on top is just too much weight to carry.



I know there are people out there that don’t treat their pets the same way…don’t treat them like they’re one of the family, but that’s not us. Every day, I found myself thinking of her and it immediately launches me into a panic attack. It’s only been 2 days since we said goodbye. I’ll never get that image of her passing out of my head. I considered closing my eyes for it, but when it came down to it, I was more worried about Hayley possibly feeling scared. Then the Vet listened and said, “Her heart has stopped. She has passed away”.



That cat meant everything to me. I don’t work out of the home, so I am usually home with all the cats every day. Hayley has been sick off and on for 2 years, so I feel like I have been caring for her all of that time. She was 18!!! She lived a good, full life but that’s not enough. 


She loved us and we worshipped her. She was the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. She was smart and knew exactly when her mom needed her.



Since this past Tuesday, I’ve experienced 11 different panic attacks because she wasn’t there and I expected her to be. Here are the steps in the grieving process:

Grief typically has five stages;

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I am most certainly in the denial part. I keep telling myself that if I don’t think about it, I’ll be fine.



Here’s a quote from the Bipolar Lives website:

It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, family member or pet. The loss of a loved one can be especially devastating if you are bipolar.



I can’t comprehend what the next year or so is going to be. I keep thinking about her Christmas stocking. I don’t think we’ll put it up. I’m having trouble seeing photos of her too. They instantly cause anxiety. It’s like this feeling like somebody has two hands wrapped around my windpipe and it hurts to breathe.



So, is there a way out of this? For me personally, I don’t stop grieving until my brain tells me that it’s safe. I can’t do yoga or write down my feelings every day, etc. None of those things are helpful to me. My plan of attack is to talk to my doctor and see what she can do for me.



In the meantime, I’ll deal with this pain and heartache. The next stage of grief is anger. I’m not looking forward to that one.





Wish me luck.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Million Pieces




I didn’t see this one coming. I was blindsided by my own brain. To my knowledge, no one can predict depression, but there are certainly warning signs. I used to be able to feel it coming on. My body would start to feel heavier, and my mind would turn to darkness.


Sometimes, this disease makes me feel locked out of my own life. Everything still goes on without me, even though I should be right in the middle of it. I worry about anything and everything. In the back of my damaged brain, I know that worrying won’t help the situation. Right now, though, it feels like the only thing I can do. 


I need to wake up tomorrow with a renewed sense of hope. I don’t want to carry around this black cloud above my head. The truth is, I hope for that every single night.



In June, my husband and I took an all-expense paid trip to California for a mental health conference. I thought I had left my social anxiety and agoraphobia at home. Even though I loved where we stayed in Laguna Beach, and the people were fantastic, I still dealt with daily migraines and the feeling that everyone was staring at me all the time. My health isn’t so great. My weight is out of control, and both of my knees have been injured. Anyway, I’ve been struggling ever since we got home. I do miss Laguna Beach.



This time feels different; it’s not just vacation is over blah; it’s crippling depression and anxiety constantly bubbling up to the surface. I won’t even try to go into the family issues, because quite frankly, it’s far too upsetting. But, things are not good there either. Just thinking about it all causes panic attacks.



I rescheduled my most recent doctor visit due to a migraine, and I should feel relieved, but all I feel is guilt. I know it was last minute and I should have gone, but nothing gets me out of my bedroom these days. I feel like such a tremendous failure.


People are very nice about my struggles, but how long will that last? That isn’t to say that they aren’t good people. I just mean I’ve been stringing them along for a while now.

I feel like I’m about to shatter into a million pieces. 

As if I didn’t have enough to be emotional about, we had to take our beloved cat, Hayley to the vet, and have her put to sleep. She was 18 (that’s how long we’ve been married) and had gotten very sick. I know it was the humane thing to do, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Aside from my husband, that cat was my whole world. I was literally with her 24 hours a day. Right now, I’m stuck between denial and just completely falling apart.

I miss her so much.



So, I ask…how long will it last this time? When will I wake up in the morning and want to live? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suicidal. I’ll never go back there again. I just don’t feel like a part of the world right now, and with Hayley gone, I’m now alone constantly. What a crippling and painful experience. Depression brings out the worst in people, especially me. The question is: When will I find the good in me?



I’m grateful that I’m still here and that I can put my thoughts down on paper. I never want to think about suicide again. I suppose every day that I wake up is a good one. Let’s just hope that it can be enough for me right now. Enough to stop feeling so lost and alone. I can only hope.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Guest Post - Why are incidental depictions of mental health in fiction important? by Sasha Greene



When I was growing up I read a lot of my parents’ books. These were mostly what would now be termed classics. As a kid, I never really analysed the content of what I was reading; the most important thing was a good story.

I also discovered books by writers such as Anne McCaffrey, Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey. Likewise, I enjoyed these too without much thought at the time. But looking back, one critical difference about these books was in their representation of female characters. The women didn’t wait around to be rescued by male characters; they just went out and did stuff. In a book that is still one of my favourites, The City Who Fought by Anne McCaffrey and S.M. Stirling, there is a female character who is the commander of a space station. Not in a “oh isn’t this great, we have a woman in this role” kind of way. But just in a quiet “she was the best candidate for the job” kind of way.

These books really influenced my approach to life. Having these role models of women who just went out and did stuff encouraged me to just go out and do stuff too. I applied to study computer science at university because it was something I was interested in, without a thought for whether it was something a woman should actually do. (At that point I hadn’t yet heard of Ada Lovelace, Dorothy Vaughan or Grace Hopper.)

You may ask, what does this all have to do with mental health? The answer is that the principle is the same. When I first started doing research into mental health for my writing, I went into a bookshop and asked them for examples of fiction novels with characters that had issues with mental health. The books they offered me were great books, but the narratives they presented were all about the characters’ struggles with mental health. The story arcs covered steps from illness to wellness or vice versa; and I felt what was missing were stories where people with mental health issues just go out and do stuff.

This idea that someone in a story can just happen to have mental health issues but for it not to be the main focus of the story seems to be a strange concept for some people. But for me it should be regarded as just another feature of a character, like having brown hair, or being allergic to tomatoes, or having a complicated relationship with their family. Of course, each of these examples will affect the character to a different extent, but if you imagine a whole book where all a character does is discuss how their brown hair looks and how it affects their life then you might start to see my point.

I am not saying here that books which do focus on mental health are not valuable; they are incredibly useful for people who want to explore these issues. But just like that younger me who thought that women could do anything because she had those fictional role models, we also need fictional characters with mental health issues who do everything else; fall in love, run successful businesses, and do stupid things not because of their health conditions but just because nobody’s perfect. This is what I have tried to do with my novel, Something Like Happy (https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008325008/something-like-happy/). The mental health backdrop in the book is suicide, but it’s really a story about accepting yourself for who you are, and whether it’s worthwhile risking a friendship for love.

So why is this so important in fiction particularly? My answer is that fiction should be representative of our society with all its amazing and thrilling diversity. If the only stories we have about mental health are those where people are defined by their mental health, then individuals are much more likely to continue defining people on these terms in real life. And if this is the case, we have no chance of removing the stigma which is still attached to this topic, despite all the groundbreaking progress that has been made over the last few years. We owe it to all the people who have issues with mental health, and all those who may have issues in the future, to change the narrative that our fictional characters have, and regardless of their characteristics, just make them just go out and do stuff.




Sasha Greene is a writer and computer programmer who lives in Scotland. Her first novel, Something Like Happy (https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008325008/something-like-happy/) is will be  available in eBook and paperback starting July 25th. It is a love story set against a backdrop of mental health and suicide. Sasha is also an adaptive snowboard instructor, which involves passing on her love of snow and going fast down a hill to people with physical and mental challenges. You can find her website at www.sashagreene.com, or follow her on Twitter @sashagreeneauth.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Guest Post - Gone Too Soon - by Scott Langenecker


Never more than two drinks away from crying.






These lyrics, including the title of this essay, reflect the thoughts and impressions of a musical legend expressing clear message of loss and pain. These themes recurred throughout the work of Chris Cornell—vocalist, musician—and are clues to the disease that claimed his life.  



Cornell was front-man for not just one, but two, epoch defining bands (Soundgarden and Audioslave) that became synonymous with a sound. That sound, grunge, has been as associated with tragedy, as it has been with the Seattle scene in the 90s. Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, and Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots each were lost through violent means or overdose in events that serve as much landmarks of the era as tour dates, festivals, album releases, and solo projects.



At 52, Cornell seemed to escape the curse that hung storm-like over the scene for decades. He was a family man. A husband and father, who seemed to have outrun the twin demons of depression and addiction that had earlier claimed many of his contemporaries, his friends.



His heroic struggle, chronicled in As Hope and Promise Fade, occurred largely out of the limelight, a fittingly hidden track on a solo album with an equally fitting title: “Scream.” We know this story well, yet it somehow manages to allude us. The perils inherent in the lifestyle of celebrities masked by the moments of fan adulation, large sums of money, attention, lavishness. As a fan, it is easy to imagine these attributes of celebrity inoculating a rock god from such mortal trappings.



As a neuroscientist, it is easier to see how the incredible disruption in the life of an artist could be a risk factor for depression, substance use, and suicide.  Obscured from the glamor are the strange hours, significant disruptions in sleep and wake cycles, long periods of travel, and, ironically, periods of isolation and idleness. There are periods of intense introspection and self-focus coupled with alcohol and substances that occur in a paradoxical prison of recognition limiting the amount of time they can spend in public spaces.



As someone who is both neuroscientist and fan, it is a time of reckoning.  This disease will offer no quarter.  The demons of despair found in rock and roll tell a long and sad tale.  We memorialize those we have lost to self-destructive behavior and drug addiction, those we have lost to depression and suicide.  Yet we forget that every 13 minutes another brother, son, husband, uncle, father, or sister, daughter, wife, aunt, mother is lost to this illness that we don't understand. Until very recently, we would only talk about it in certain medical circles or small gatherings of friends and family. 



Today, we know more about this modern day health crisis, and we are beginning to better understand how to treat it.  At the University of Illinois Center on Depression & Resilience, a member of the National Network of Depression Centers, where I work as a researcher and clinician, we are working to find better and more effective treatments for depression, the leading cause of suicide. We study brain networks, molecules, medications, life events, and related stressors. We study how depression can rob people of the most basic parts of being human – joy, companionship, dreams, life.



Suicide leaves no one protected.  It could be a returning vet, parent, doctor, banker, trader, teacher, artist, or celebrity.  Behind, in the quiet stories of struggle and loneliness, we have come to recognize that a new and better campaign must be mounted.  We gather as caregivers, family, friends, and we say no more.  We can help bring these stories into the light. We can learn from them. We can understand them. We can do better.



For those in crisis, please seek help.  You are valuable and cannot be replaced.











Scott A. Langenecker, Ph.D. is a clinical neuropsychologist, Director of Cognitive Neuroscience and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Langenecker’s research and clinical work focuses on the translational cognitive neuroscience of mood disorders across the lifespan. His current work is focused on the late adolescent translational period in which risk for mood disorders is at a peak, and suicide risk is very high. He is on the UI Center for Depression & Resilience Leadership Team focusing on a team science approach to understanding and curing depression (uifightdepression.psych.uic.edu/) and serves as a volunteer on the Illinois Chapter Board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (https://afsp.org/chapter/afsp-illinois/).   He had seen Chris Cornell perform live in a solo acoustic set at the Michigan Theatre and performing with Soundgarden at May Day in Indianapolis.


Guest Post - It's Not Easy to be Bipolar - by Anja Burcak

  “…People walk on their tippy toes not to say anything cruel to you and everything that’s been going on.” At first, when you...