I Finally Got my Bipolar Disorder Under Control and Then Started Experiencing Uncontrollable Movements

I Finally Got my Bipolar Disorder Under Control and Then Started Experiencing Uncontrollable Movements

JCheang

Thu, 08/19/2021 – 13:18

By Angi, Full-time child-care worker (last names have been omitted to protect identities)

When I was in my early 20s, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder but looking back, I definitely started showing symptoms in my teens.1 It took me years and a lot of trial and error to find the right antipsychotic treatment regimen that worked for me, but then I started to experience the uncontrollable movements of tardive dyskinesia (TD).2

Learn about TD: https://mhanational.org/conditions/tardive-dyskinesia

When  I first started experiencing TD, I thought I had restless leg syndrome because my legs and hips would not stop moving.3 My hips would thrust uncontrollably, and I couldn’t sleep at night. During the day, the movements were so bad I couldn’t even sit down. Then TD started in my face – it caused twitching and long, involuntary blinking that would make me scrunch my face into a weird position. I felt very frustrated because I could not control what was happening to me!4

The TD movements were disruptive and embarrassing.5 I was self-conscious and thought people were staring at me when I left the house. My family and I didn’t know what to do, and I was becoming depressed.

My Diagnosis

Eventually, I found a psychiatrist who immediately recognized the uncontrollable movements in my legs and face as TD. This was the first time I had ever heard of TD, but it was comforting to know what I was going through was a medical condition. 

When my doctor wanted me to try a medication for TD, I was very hesitant. The thought of possibly changing my medications or adding another was scary. I didn’t want to take another medicine because I didn’t want anything to jeopardize the progress I’d made with my bipolar disorder. I put off treatment and told my family I would start taking medicine when the movements got worse.6

For more on TD visit: https://www.tardiveimpact.com/

My Treatment Journey

One day, my husband and sister sat me down and said it was time for me to consider treatment for my TD. It had been six months, and my TD was now impacting my life. I realized my family was right. After several conversations with my doctor and encouragement from my family, I decided to start TD treatment. Now I feel so much better, and my symptoms have improved.7 Luckily for me, I also didn’t have to make any changes to my current bipolar medication regimen. I have regained my confidence and don’t feel as embarrassed to go out anymore. With TD under more control, I have one less thing to worry about.

Getting a mental health condition under control is tough, and TD symptoms can be frightening. To anyone currently living with a mental health condition and experiencing uncontrollable movements, I would encourage you to talk to a doctor. There may be treatment options available to help you.8

For more information about Tardive Dyskinesia and medications that may help, visit:

What is tardive dyskinesia?
How do you treat tardive dyskinesia?
For more resources on TD visit TDImpact.com

1Bipolar Disorder in Teens: How to Spot the Signs and Symptoms. Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. https://www.houstonbehavioralhealth.com/blog/bipolar-disorder-teens-signs-symptoms. Accessed August 2021.

2Tardive Dyskinesia. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000685.htm. Accessed August 2021.

3Warikoo N, Schwartz T, Citrome L. Tardive dyskinesia. In: Schwartz TL, Megna J, Topel ME, eds. Antipsychotic Drugs: Pharmacology, Side Effects and Abuse Prevention. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc; 2013:235-258. Accessed November 2019.

4Tardive dyskinesia (TD). Mind website. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/tardive-dyskinesia-td/about-tardive-dyskinesia/. Accessed August 2021.

5Sharing the impact of tardive dyskinesia. NAMI website. http://notalone.nami.org/post/97568253959/sharing-the-impact-of-tardive-dyskinesia. Accessed November 2019

6Finding the Right Medication. International Bipolar Foundation. https://ibpf.org/articles/finding-the-right-medication/. Accessed August 2021.

7Tardive dyskinesia. Baylor College of Medicine website. https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/parkinsons/conditions/tardive-dyskinesia. Accessed November 2019

8Tardive dyskinesia. NAMI website. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Tardive-Dyskinesia. Accessed December 2019.

 

TD-40888
September 2021

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7 Ways to Support You and Your Family’s Mental Health When Returning to Work

7 Ways to Support You and Your Family’s Mental Health When Returning to Work

JCheang

Tue, 09/21/2021 – 13:49

This article was originally published by FlexJobs and has been re-published on Mental Health America’s website with permission. Click here to read the original article.

Well over one year ago, the pandemic shifted the way in which people work and live, with no shortage of “pivot” situations. Employers and employees alike are constantly adapting to the changes brought on by the pandemic, including returning to a physical workspace or a revised schedule. In addition, employees who are also parents are grappling with their children returning to the classroom.

We may not have complete control over these changes. However, we can control how to best respond to these changes, particularly when it comes to our mental health and the well-being of family. Below are seven ways in which you can support you and your family’s mental health during this time.

1. (OVER) COMMUNICATE WITH COWORKERS AND FAMILY

Frequent and effective communication will continue to be an important skill for employees at work and at home. As employees return to work and children return to school, be sure to communicate your schedule, obligations, and expectations with your supervisor, your team, and your family members. Clear communication on all fronts can help alleviate some disorganization, forgetfulness, and anxiety for employees and their families.

2. ADJUST HABITS TO MEET NEW DEMANDS

With a shift in physical workspace or schedule, it is time to reestablish the healthy habits that helped you stay engaged and productive while working from home. For example, it may be helpful to budget time for lunch and short breaks during the workday, represented by blocks on your calendar or a temporary away message on communication channels. In addition, set an example for your peers and family by modeling and practicing self-care. Examples of self-care include staying organized and prioritize taking frequent breaks; practicing meditation, breathing, or expressing gratitude; or meeting someone for coffee.

3. ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED AT WORK

If you are returning to a physical workplace, it might be the right time to ask your employer for flexibility in your schedule or to work from home one day a week, if possible. Research shows that employees who work flexible schedules are more productive and loyal to their employers. In addition, asking your manager for support can include regular check-ins, increased opportunities for bidirectional feedback, and the ability to talk openly about stressors. Help your manager understand your needs so that they can provide the appropriate support. 

4. RECONNECT WITH COWORKERS YOU TRUST

According to past reports, having positive relationships with coworkers and supervisors is the top reason employees feel satisfied at work. Connection will be crucial as workplaces return to normal. Seek out opportunities to reconnect with your manager, team, and coworkers. Examples include scheduling coffee dates or happy hours—any activity that is in person (while maintaining physical safety measures). If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed at work, talk to a trusted coworker about it. It’s likely that your coworker is also dealing with their own pressures and can share similar concerns.

5. CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES

Children and teens pick up on anxiety and tension in adults around them. Be open about your own feelings, and lead by example in how you deal with them by modeling healthy behaviors and coping skills. If you are experiencing the common signs or symptoms of a mental health condition, it could be helpful to take an anonymous and confidential mental health screening online. MHA has 10 online screening tools, including one that is youth-focused and one for parents. Once you get the results, MHA will provide you with more information and help you to figure out next steps. Addressing the early signs of mental health conditions can dramatically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes and recovery.

6. RESEARCH MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT AT YOUR WORKPLACE

Many companies offer resources through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or similar wellness program, which can save you precious time by providing guidance on issues like where to find a daycare center and caretaking for an elderly parent, as well as referrals to mental health and other services. In addition, be familiar with options for support available through your child’s school to help accommodate them if they are struggling emotionally or academically. You are your own and your child’s best advocate!

7. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IF YOU NEED IT

Chatting with friends and family can be important to your success at home—or at work—and can even improve your health. People with stronger support systems have more aggressive immune responses to illnesses than those who lack such support. Don’t let stress stand in the way of your health and happiness. If you are persistently overwhelmed, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—taking care of yourself is a sign of strength.

If you are interested in learning more about how to care for your child’s mental health, download MHA’s 2021 Back-to-School Toolkit: “Facing Fears, Supporting Students.” The toolkit aims to help students, parents, and school personnel recognize how feeling unsafe can impact mental health and school performance, and what can be done to help young people who are struggling with their mental health.

If you’re looking at returning to work, a flexible job can help with finding a healthy work-life balance. FlexJobs has over 50 career categories hiring for a range of flexible and remote jobs.

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Preparing for Another COVID-19 Winter

Preparing for Another COVID-19 Winter

JCheang

Thu, 10/07/2021 – 10:47

By Emily Skehill, Manager of Public Education and Awareness at Mental Health America

If saying goodbye to this summer was harder for you than most years, you aren’t alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way many of us perceive time – this October really snuck up on me, and I still feel like I’ve barely processed last March. 

A few weeks ago, I noticed myself feeling a bit more anxious than usual most days. I was quick to get overwhelmed when people asked me to make plans, and I constantly felt like time was moving too fast for me to catch up mentally. It was obvious that I was feeling little “off,” but I had no idea why – nothing about my life had changed, and I’d been in a pretty good spot with my mental health. 

All of COVID-19 has been a sustained trauma – we’ve been through a lot over the last year and a half, and some of that built-up stress may be starting to surface now as we prepare to enter the end of 2021. 

SAYING GOODBYE TO WARM WEATHER

We’ve done this whole “COVID winter” thing before, and to a much stricter degree than will probably be necessary this winter – so why do the next few months still seem so intimidating? 

Part of it is because we got our hopes up; we had a taste of freedom with summer 2021 and were promised that the pandemic was almost over – except now it’s not. When we came out of our first COVID-winter and entered the spring of 2021, we knew there was still a long way to go with vaccinations and slowing the spread, but it seemed like it would be under control by the fall. We were able to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and socialization – things weren’t “back to normal,” but it felt like we were getting closer, and many of us clung to the idea that by the time summer was over, we’d be able to ditch masks and social distancing for good. 

Now, as the days are cooler and it’s getting darker earlier, there will be fewer and fewer outdoor events to attend and it’s not as easy to round up your friends for a weekday evening on the patio. This seasonal transition can be daunting even in the best of times and may feel especially intense this winter – you aren’t the only one struggling to accept the changing weather and what it might mean for your quality of life. 

THERE’S STILL A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY

While the vaccine rollout has helped alleviate fear for many in terms of physical health, a number of populations, including children and immunocompromised folks, remain at high risk. We don’t know what variants may crop up, how they’ll impact people, or how they’ll respond to the vaccine or medical intervention. No one is expecting this winter to be as bad as last year’s, but we do know that it’s no joke – physical safety is still something that we have to pay close attention to. On top of COVID concerns, it’s also the beginning of flu season (ugh).

This leaves us with even more questions – will I be able to spend time with my friends inside? Will there be another shutdown or full quarantine? When will the pandemic finally be behind us? 

COVID-19 WINTER 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO

Anniversaries impact us, often subconsciously – experiencing the same time of year can bring back a lot of feelings. Within the COVID pandemic, there are a few noteworthy anniversaries. We all remember March 2020, when the pandemic first hit. You may not be thinking about the fall of 2020 as an anniversary, but this time last year, we were all gearing up for our first COVID winter – we had experienced most businesses being shut down, but we had yet to experience that during colder weather when outdoor socialization isn’t as much of an option. 

Just because there’s no specific start or end date to 2020’s trauma of shifting from a COVID summer to a COVID winter doesn’t mean you can’t feel those same unpleasant feelings again. The familiarity of the temperature, smells, fall activities, and so many other annual markers can trigger memories of how difficult this time was in 2020. 

GETTING THROUGH IT

Identify your feelings. When we’re caught up in big emotions, it’s difficult to feel anything other than completely overwhelmed. Start with figuring out what specific feelings are bubbling up inside of you – from there, you can work on coping with them. 

Share your feelings with someone else. We collectively faced the initial traumas of COVID-19, but re-traumatization and struggles to adapt are happening more individually. It’s easy to feel alone in this, but remember that we’re all moving forward from similar experiences – more people than you expect may be able to relate. Make a pact with a friend to check in on each other every so often.

Allow yourself to be realistically positive. This is still a scary time and unpleasant feelings may have surfaced, but we’ve been able to process some of that already. Some healing has already been done – you already have the skills to get through this winter. 

Remind yourself of the progress we have made. Feelings of anxiety are still valid, but try to remind yourself that even if things feel the same as last year, they aren’t – now, we have multiple vaccines, plans in place in case of a shutdown, and safety standards that we’re already accustomed to. 

Spend time outside. Losing out on natural light plays a big role in the “winter blues.” Try to get outside as much as you can (even though it may not be as pleasant in the cold) or rearrange your living space so that you’re spending more time in the sunlight. You can also start taking vitamin D supplements or purchase special kinds of lamps to help boost your mood. 

Make a disaster/crisis plan. The best time to create a safety plan is well before you need it – organize your thoughts so that you know what signs to look out for with your own mental health and think ahead about what helps during challenging times. That way, if it does get bad again, you’re prepared to handle it. 

Take a screen for depression. If you find yourself struggling beyond this initial transition period or if it’s interrupting your life, take a depression screen. If a certain time of year always impacts you – COVID aside – consider if you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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Peer Partners Has Seen Proven Success

Peer Partners Has Seen Proven Success

JCheang

Fri, 10/29/2021 – 11:00

By Kat McIntosh, Manager of Global Peer Support at Mental Health America

With over 100 years working on advocacy and awareness, Mental Health America (MHA) understands the unique needs of those facing mental health challenges. We believe that peer support is essential when building thriving communities[1] — no one should have to struggle alone. This is why we created our Peer Partners program.

MHA’s Peer Partners program is an excellent way to help people make friends and meet their social goals. We designed our program to help equip peers with the tools needed to support others in meeting their social goals using support groups. Our free, easy-to-implement program combines the strengths of peer support, psychiatric rehabilitation, and self-directed care. An added benefit of our program is that mental health organizations can increase the availability of peer support within their community.

At the end of our pilot, we saw tremendous increases in how participants rated their quality of life.

Relationship and Connection

61% of participants felt like they had more friends and intimate relationships.
Participants’ feelings of connection to their support network rose by over 50%.

Community and Environment

4 in 5 participants were better able to meaningfully use their environments.
61% of participants were able to interact with others in their community in different social roles.
There was a 72% increase in participants who were able to take part in the life of their community.

Rights, Respect, and Fairness

86% of participants felt that they were better able to exercise their rights.
Over 70% of participants reported they felt like they received fairness.
At the end of our program, participants reported feeling respected.

Personal Goals

Participants became more aware of their ability to set personal goals.
They realized how many goals, in the past, were set for them.

Access our Peer Partners program here.

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