Building on Strengths

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You are not your illness//The illness is ALL YOU

Don’t take the easy surrender when you face “symptoms” or triggers, especially after they or “Illness” has been identified in you.

“You are not your Illness”

Knowing what your “diagnosis” is, is useful in understanding the traits in your character and mood patterns that result in difficulties. However, being diagnosed should not aid you in giving you an easier time than “normal” folks.

Many advocates thus tell you: “you are not your illness”.

Actually, it is pressing to know that:

The “illness is ALL YOU” (even though you are NOT your illness).

What I mean is that you, are a unique Human being. You are a person, a person with a personality. These characteristics, including your traits and moderation of mood, when permutated with certain circumstances, reflect traits of what doctors, psychologists and researchers have identified and studied to enshrine as “Mental Illness”. This has occurred over the history of the development of modern medical and behavioural science.

But a diagnosis is useless – and in fact, can be very harmful as it connotes an identifier or label. Diagnosis feeds disorder and dysfunction by exacerbating the initial difficulty that an individual experiences into disempowerment in the traditional medical setting and within the current medical model. The individual perceives him or herself as having a disease or even as being disabled. I am not “normal”. This cycle is enforced when he or she is not treated “normal” if this information is disclosed to others.

What then can someone do if they are identified as mentally ill?

I would want to know what the traits of my diagnosis and symptoms are supposed to be, to see if they are consistent with the patterns in my behaviour that play out from my personality repertoire in certain circumstances. I need to own the characteristic traits that are correlated to my challenges. Not accepting the identifier of illness, but being aware of the things and areas that set me off allows me to start to make active change. This empowers me to own who I am. I am self-aware. I am proactive.

Beyond that, I also want to be a contributing participant of the bigger community around me. So often, psychology, especially the therapy approaches used, bring us inward. We reflect on our lives, our past relationships, early development. (What went wrong?) It is not wrong to be kind to, respect and explore oneself – However, outside of ourselves is a community and a world of both opportunity and yet a world that is for the most part perishing, (if you hadn’t noticed). People who are diagnosed with mental illness often are shelled up within their peer groups. The fear of stigma or feelings of inadequacy cause us to shy away from society. However, this avoidance only breeds ignorance and misunderstanding.

I am not asking anyone to heal the world. However, to break the suffocating stigma around mental illness, more people have to step out into the small domains around them, and work towards becoming who they want to be. But first, one must recognise that what has been happening is in part, a part of us that is under our control. Only then can we build on our strengths and create a life with vision and purpose.

Let’s leave this wretched self-imposed cage behind, shall we?

The Stairway to Recovery & Peer Support Boundaries

Here’s some more ideas on the Topic of Recovery for those struggling with Mental Health issues…

First, the Barriers to Recovery:barriers recoveryFactors are both from individual’s attitudes and behaviour (e.g. taking ownership of and Responsibility for Recovery) – and also due to many factors in the environment. These include and are not limited to: stigma, lack of information and access to services and also failure on the part of social services and medical professionals to understand or give the appropriate help to the individual.

The Stairway to Recovery:

stairway to recovery

This stairway is based on the Personal model of recovery (There are two models of Recovery – the Medical and Personal/individual). The Outcomes for the Medical model are reduced symptoms and hospitalisation as well as reduced medication. Whereas Individual Recovery Outcomes are more holistic, driven by an individual’s hope for challenging the’ assumed chronicity of illness’. To move beyond mere maintenance or “coping”, as the Medical model outcomes seem to entail, but to Empower the individual to ‘reclaim meaning and purpose in life’ (Deegan), by “contributing [and finding satisfaction] even with limitations caused by the illness.”

One has recovered when one “grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.”

Stepping up to provide Peer Support is important because of the ability of Peers to relate on a deeper level with other peers, which sometimes, other people may find difficult. It also empowers the Peer who is providing support, by allowing them to contribute and find satisfaction.

But Advocacy and Peer support can both be double edged swords. If one takes up external responsibility that is rightfully another person’s, in Peer support; or one goes public with one’s condition… Burn out, stress and pressure are inevitable.

Anxiety and fear of failure,  are to be avoided when one is out in the public view – especially in a day and age where intrusion and scrutity, even from an anonomous eye is the norm. (How does one claim to be an advocate if one is severely symptomatic, or worse still, if one falls to relapse?)

In terms of Peer support, One danger of being a source of support, is what Pat Deegan described as the “frenzied saviour response/role”. This can be a role which a caregiver/family member/friend takes up.

The Frenzied saviour response “when the person is faced with another person lost in anguish and apathy.

The more listless and apathetic the person gets, the more frenetically active we become. The more they withdraw, the more we intrude. The more will-less they become, the more willful we become. The more they give up, the harder we try. The more despairing they become, the more we indulge in shallow optimism.

The more treatment plans they abort, the more plans we make for them. Needless to say we soon find ourselves burnt out and exhausted.”

Setting boundaries and being a stickler for guidelines in Peer Support must not be taken lightly:wp-1455479006454.jpg

I hope I haven’t been to repetitive, I just wanted to emphasize some more points about recovery. Good night, and Good morning. Peace out.

(Haha! I was just gonna sign off with: “Self care”… Then JBieber started singing: “you should go and love yourself…”, through to me, on my headphones… O.o hehe :D)

Here’s an awesome cover of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself:

“Domains of Happyness”

 

I am studying a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology at Uni now, and in what is the most interesting subject so far, Social Bases of Behaviour: Social Psychology, we just started the term learning about how we think about ourselves and others (“social cognition”).

This example was given: – There are 2 men, both married. One man had dropped out of middle school, and is working hard as a brick layer to support himself and his wife.

The other man had graduated from high school and started a fairly successful business. Not super successful but, making enough profit for his family: himself, his wife and 2 children.

Being his own boss also affords him flexible hours and free time which he spends as a Grassroots Volunteer for the Local Council. He also sings in the church choir every Sunday.

Suddenly, BOTH men’s wives decide to leave them out of the blue. Which man will be more affected?

OK, So one may say that it depends on the quality of the relationship the man has with his wife. However, that is also a different variable altogether that is coming into play. What about if one were to be philosophical about the whole idea? Won’t both men be equally upset, if not, wouldn’t it be impossible to determine whom would be more upset, as all individuals differ in temperament?!?! If this were so, I cannot answer the question, as everything, after all, is subjective and THERE ARE NO ANSWERS…zzz..

BUT thinking in terms of a variable that we CAN work on, the man who runs his own business would likely be better off, while the man who lays bricks would probably be devastated by his wife’s leaving.

This is due to the number of Domains of Self each man has.

The man who lays bricks has only the domains of his job and his wife in his life. Whereas the businessman has many more Domains of Self. Apart from his job and his wife, he also has his 2 children, his work at the Local Council, and his role in the church choir on Sundays. He has a rich life, therefore achievement or failure in one domain doesn’t have such a big impact on his overall life, especially his sense of self.

2012-10-06 13.17.50.jpg
Me, with two other VSOP (Very Special Outstanding Performers) choir mates backstage at World Mental Health Day (2012), held at School Of The Arts

I was thinking about this story and a light bulb turned on in my head. OH! This is probably another good reason why my Dr. signed me up to join the hospital choir, which even led to my short solo on World Mental Health Day 2012 at SOTA. The benefits of building more Domains of Self which include improving one’s sense of self and confidence -as well as acting as a buffer against challenges; are why he kept encouraging me to be more active and pick up hobbies, join short courses, enjoy nature and at the same time exercise (yes, we all know the well-documented benefits of exercise).

I mean it seems obvious, but most of us don’t have the leisure (or motivation) to do so.

Okay, so when I was first seeing my Dr. I was just out of the ward and unemployed, looking for a job and also not studying as I am now.. so I had all the time in the world – but you’d be surprised what one can do when you can do everything and anything you want.

Digressing a little, though somewhat relevant…

I knew a group of young people with mental illness, who are not really super unwell, and had all the time in the world.. but they gave up trying to find jobs. They did not lose their jobs because of paranoia or depression – they lost them because of a lack of self-esteem, and a lack of belief in their own ability to perform the task: Thus they failed to learn to do their work. (So they lost their jobs, or quit job after job within a week)

I knew them well, they spent most of their time hanging around town like teenagers, smoking and watching the world go by. The gave up on fighting to live altogether. I am not saying they are at fault, or putting them down, that they are less important or inferior human beings, but I would just like to highlight some common patterns that are quite self-defeatist.

They got into relationships with each other, and the relationships failed, their world would disintegrate. They would attempt suicide and/or be warded.

Why? The only domain in their life was the other person.

Quote - Unstoppable

My Dr. is super perceptive about constructing the foundation for Happyness – Creating more Domains in life. I will definitely strive to Diversify! and build Domains in areas I am Passionate about and try to maintain them.

I have a friend who is trying to eliminate all the things in his life he deems as unnecessary to keep in line with a “Minimalist” Ideal. Well, I hope he reads this one day.

Actually all I wanted to say in the above 800+ words is summed up as the saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” 😀

A New Brand of Religious Affliation

ISIS claims blood 18-1-16

Ok, so again.. the choice of articles on page A4 of The Straits Times made me think about the desperate emphasis of (positive – much needed.. if you saw the TIME magazine cover:see below…) propaganda again…

On top, the biggest article headlines: “DNA test shows ‘fifth militant’ a bystander in Jakarta attack”, below this article the latest Terror news is juxataposed by: “Man killed in gunfight may be Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist” – so maybe there is hope after all. Finally the last article at the bottom of the page emphasises how more than 400 Sunni Muslims, quote“most of them women, children and elderly people..unquote had been killed in the assault on Deir Ezzor(described as a Massacre)…”.

Is my perspective is certainly warped to think that reporting more than 400 unnecessary deaths is just to make the readers less likely to believe that Islam is the root of all terror and all evil, might as well have a scapegoat right? But then again, 7 dead in JKT including the 4 or 5 attackers should be slightly less painful right(?), since both assaults were carried out in with equally malevolent motivations??


Regarding ‘ISIS claiming credit for blood spilled in its name: Analysts’, which outlines its argument that disillusioned and alienated militants around the world have carried out attacks and claimed affiliation with ISIS due to what the author calls “brand recognition”. The unnamed author (writing from Paris, I see..) claims that although ISIS had vowed to ‘take its fight globally’ it had been too preoccupied with maintaining its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, “apparently”, until the recent spate of global attacks, including JKT, occurred. In the author’s and several analysts’ opinions, it is not really ISIS militants managed by ISIS who have carried out these attacks, but  disillusioned militant who have been fighting with different organisations that have not borne fruit that have only INSPIRED these militants.

If this is to in any way reduce our fear of ISIS building its influence globally, I think the argument is fundamentally flawed. ISIS is, as the Analyst from Woodrow Wilson Centre says, ‘a very dynamic cause’. The very fact that there is brand recognition of the ISIS name, its cause and its distinctive black flag shows how strong ISIS is across the world, even across physical boundaries.. And all this Despite whatever the state of its military affairs in its defence of its caliphate might be. (Got a bit tired of keeping up.. yes it’s that same syndrome I explained a few paragraphs up there.. too far away to think about 400 lives, but 7 killed will wreck u..)

In fact, I would compare the symbolic level that ISIS has reached to that of a cause or religion. If it were Taoism (just e.g.), I may be so fired up about the beliefs that I follow all the actions and instructions that the other Taoist followers that I know also follow. These followers, they have tie ups of course, with their leader – who has tie ups with the main leader in my country – and that guy knows the big boss.

If someone were to question me about my Taoist beliefs, I would get really passionate, for I have essentially indoctrinated myself through the Taoist literature, media, and social or  other types of exposure to immerse myself into. This symbolism is what I feel is a great ‘dynamic cause’ for belief, for faith and for what I must dedicate the energy in my life to.

SO what is the difference even if ISIS didn’t manage or have the means to manage those global attacks? The fact that more and more claims of ISIS attacks are occurring shows that its cause and its symbolism is growing, its power to inspire is growing more and more.

The ISIS Brand of Religious Affiliation has flourished along with some free advertising assistance from the media, social media, internet, hate of Islam, retaliation, etc… oh what horrible things the media can do..

[save the good ole’ Straits Times :D]


Anyway, as promised, here’s a man I really ____ … :p

This cover makes me feel the same Utter, Stupid, Shock I felt when I was in hospital for a month after finally emerging from severe psychosis that I had had for a year (I did not know what was going on in the world); and I saw that American troops had withdrawn from Afghanistan.

trump

Why the title: swimmingtherip?

What is a rip: “A rip current, commonly referred to simply as a rip, or by the misnomer “rip tide”, is a water current that can be found near beaches. It is strong, localized and is strongest near the surface of the water, and it moves directly away from the shore, cutting through the lines of breaking waves.

The location of rip currents can be unpredictable: while some tend to recur always in the same place, others can appear and disappear suddenly at various locations near the beach.” From Wikipedia

I was looking for an analogy of how it is like to live with the sudden, unpredictable, immense highs of mood of mania..and then: the swift, crashing lows..
The aftermath of being swept away ashore like driftwood.
OR, if one fails to survive:Drowning, drowning, drown. suffocating, swallowed up by the violence of the waves.. swallowing the rushing emotions like water being pushed down every orifice.

The cycles of mania are relentless like the waves. You know it is just a matter of time till they come again. Although I like to lie to myself during a peaceul lull, when all seems well, that maybe I am normal too?
If only I could be like that.

I had recently wanted to believe there was a natural recovery process, after getting a little better. But I realised that the symptoms do not fully go away even with full compliance to medication. The waves always return. It is my coping that must improve to prevent myself from drowning.

I can only learn to reduce the impact of the paranoid thoughts on my mood, and manage my highs.

Having a strong internal Locus of control is so important. I realised I am responsible to control and cope with the impulsivity i feel to do crazy shit during those high moments. I cannot blame my illness for making me like this.

As Joshua 1:9 says:

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So, I chose the title for this little blog, “swimmingtherip”, cos I want to encourage myself to “just keep swimming” like Nemo’ s dad’s slightly demented fish friend Dory.. haha she is cute. But she is silly. Well so am I..
Anyway, hopefully, maybe, Godwilling, I’ll get through this journey somehow?

A simple explanation of Paranoia

When you someone has Paranoia, and asks you for help, what would your first reaction be? Do you just brush it aside? Are they simply overthinking things? Or are they just weirdos?

I have made it a resolution of mine for 2016 to overcome my paranoid thinking. This usually only occurs to me in a bad way but specifically only when I don’t sleep the whole night before.

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The next day I will start having pervasive paranoid thoughts about how people are appraising me, especially in a crowded space or among strangers. But if I sleep it off. The feelings n thoughts go away.

I realised that paranoid thoughts come about due to overly emphasing the importance of random associations and deriving meaning from these links. It usually also is due to an insecurity or a strong emotion that is being felt by the person.

What do I mean? For example, John is having the paranoid thought that the lady sitting next to her in the train thoughts he smelt bad. He thinks so because the lady kept rubbing her nose and then got up one stop after he sat next to her. The emphasis on the association between John’s smelliness and the lady’s action of rubbing her nose.. which again is associated with not liking his body odour and her getting off quickly also being linked up, are the assumptions that a paranoid person makes.

I think these are probably made due to the person’s underlying feelings of insecurity or other strong emotions like anger or jealousy.

That’s why the paranoid thoughts are so trechant and difficult to dismiss despite having people try to convince you that you are just “thinking too much”, a phrase I think is too loosely used and may not help much. The emotions behind it are real but the paranoia is not.

Hope that these thoughts about this topic were meaningful to you. What do you think? Do comment If u have any ideas about It.

Here’s some Garbage in the meantime:

The Wandering Insomniac Returns v.1.1.2016

I recently made a friend, also a peer, who told me that at the height of her illness, she used to sneak out of the house in the ungodly hours of the morning and she would always somehow gravitate to a heartland that reminded her of her growing up years. She would reminiscence of her childhood friend whom she used to play with in that neighbourhood, which she was so attached to that it literally drew her back, “awake-walking” – when she should have been sleeping.

Tonight or this morning, I have taken a trip to little India to seek out a cheap mobile phone. Why? The urge and impulse and the persistent restlessness in my soul was just so? I don’t know??! Wha was it thinking taking a cab with all my liquid cash at 3am to Mustafa Centre?

Well, there is a back story.. my iPhone 6, which my brother bought for me when I recontracted and which I dutifully paid for when I had enough cash, disappeared one morning… also after I had been having insomnia. It had clearly been next to my pillow. And the whole household was frantically mobilized in a top to bottom search. Strangely enough, my father didnt seem too concerned, but told me to get a new SIM card quickly.

It was only when this disappearing incident was repeated on another object in the house, announced by my father.. and then a replacement made by him.. and then when my mother could not use the replacement..  the object mysteriously was found by, again my father.. who said, “lucky I found it! The bangla must have climbed in the gate and took it when the door was unlocked!”..(sorry long sentence) THAT IT DAWNED on us, what had happened to my phone.

But as a person who suffers from paranoia, I couldnt complain… e.g. a schizophrenic telling his shrink that people are talking about him.. WHEN they REALLY are. Just that, in my case.. I am not the only psycho in the house. My brother tried to ask him about it but he was extremely defensive and almost bombed.. well.

Now I am using a 3G phone yes that was ok three years ago..but it constantly hangs wheb I open large apps or have more than 3 apps open. And it has been getting progressively worse. I had been happy at first.. downgrading. I was impressed by three year old samsung’s frontline basic smartphone. I even managed to upgrade to jellybean from pathetic gingerbread.  Wow cmon have a break have a kit kat! (Sorry I blame lack of sleep).

But it isnt the phone but that apps now are built for faster, heavier duty phones. Minimum for a mainstream app is 10MB. Without a huge micro SD u are dying on your first day of downloading “basic” and “necessary” apps.

I guess I should go and live in the kampung. And go off the internet altogether and see how I do without these luxuries… but seriously I dunno why I get so carried away and am unable to stop concentrating once I am tring to get any type of technology working that isnt. for example back when miss noob was trying to jail break her brand new first gen ipod touch. A sleepness night there.

I think it could be the complusiveness in my personality. This need to achieve the goal I set out to do. Added to the mood of impulse and a restless high. DANGER! !! CRAZYYY SLEEPLESS ZOMBIE OUT ON THE LOOSE!!

OK I think I have ranted enough and I am also safely at my destination:

image

No, I am just a visitor today.

Thank God for preserving me.