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This fundraiser ended on 06/25/12

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Friends of a Mother Who Cares are uniting to raise money so Kathy and her daughters can sustain while waiting on disability.

Friends of a Mother Who Cares are uniting to raise money so Kathy and her daughters can sustain while waiting on disability. She needs to move by August 1st, so time of the essence. I encourage you, no I urge you, to read this in its entirety.

My friend has been struggling with Bipolar III (or Cyclothymia), which is a rapid-cycling mood disorder that can produce numerous high and low mood swings during the course of a day. She has been denied disability twice and has been waiting on a hearing for over a year. Although she is not able to work, she is able to be the best mother she can possibly be to her two daughters. They are aware of her illness and very alert to the changes in mood. In just one month she will need to find a new home to live in, but does not have the resources to accomplish this, or to live while waiting on disability. If she does not find the means to sustain, for herself and her girls, she will be forced to move back with her family...ten hours away from her daughters. This in itself would bring an onset of severe depression to anyone. Couple that with Bipolar III and the outcome could be devastating. I can't say it better than her own words, which you will find below...please, please help this mother stay with her daughters; they desperately need one another...

"I don't limp; my blood sugar doesn't drop or increase rapidly; I don't have an auto-immune deficiency, I am not constantly in physical pain; I don't have tingling and numbness (except in my heart); I don't require chemotherapy. What I do have, however, is REAL. I can't show you what I have, I can only tell you, and you still won't understand. You can't see it. We are either afraid of the unknown, or we don't believe it exists. Mental illness does not necessarily mean you are crazy, psycho, skitzo, or any other terms of ridicule commonly used to describe it.

”Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes. The elevated moods are clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes, or symptoms, or a mixed state in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time. These events are usually separated by periods of "normal" mood; but, in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, which is known as rapid. Severe manic episodes can sometimes lead to such psychotic symptoms as delusions and hallucinations. The disorder has been subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and other types, based on the nature and severity of mood episodes experienced; the range is often described as the bipolar spectrum. The onset of full symptoms generally occurs in late adolescence or young adulthood. Diagnosis is based on the person's self-reported experiences, as well as observed behavior. Episodes of abnormality are associated with distress and disruption and an elevated risk of suicide, especially during depressive episodes. In some cases, it can be a devastating long-lasting disorder. In others, it has also been associated with creativity, goal striving, and positive achievements. There is significant evidence to suggest that many people with creative talents have also suffered from some form of bipolar disorder. It is often suggested that creativity and bipolar disorder are linked.”

“They” say this is the definition of bipolar disorder. I believe the true “definition” of bipolar is relative to those who have the illness, or “disease” as it is sometimes called; a mental disease. I have more experience with the disorder than anyone would like to. Although I was not diagnosed until the age of 38 I can clearly remember the signs and symptoms dating back as young as 13 years old. Oddly enough, I have very few memories of my childhood before then. Most of the memories I do have beyond the age of thirteen were not my happiest times, I am sure. This is “typical” of bipolar, which becomes progressively debilitating, if untreated, as time goes on. As I was diagnosed with depression for so many years, my illness remained untreated. It wasn’t until four years ago, at the age of 38, that I was formally diagnosed and the real struggle began; medicating. While trying to survive an abusive relationship, also typical of the disorder, I sought the help of a therapist in hopes someone could tell me what I was doing “wrong” that made someone be so abusive toward me. It did not take long for a true diagnosis. To date, I have been on, and off, more than thirty medication combinations in a three year period. Although I was told it may take a “few” tries to “get it right”, I never imagined the painstaking journey ahead of me. Most of the medicines caused intense and torturous side effects. Some starting working quickly, and stopped working just as quickly; some made me psychotic; some gave me so much energy I did not sleep, at all; some made me feel as though I was already six feet under, covered with dirt. None, however, were regulated enough to make a positive difference for any significant amount of time, until about a year and a half ago. The year prior I had my longest episode of depression, lasting almost ten months. I had no choice but to go up north and stay with my parents. The struggle to get out of bed every single day for that long was like a slow journey to hell; I was in the darkest place I have ever been in. Although my family tried to understand, to find some way to get through to me, all they could think about was opening the bedroom door one day and knowing the illness had won. Ten long, painful months away from my daughters, and I was finally on the “right” medication, at least to take the edge off. As there is no cure for bipolar, I find I am cycling more rapidly as time goes on. I want to see light instead of dark, but the dark keeps coming, as my psychiatrist and therapist have labeled me “unemployable”. Sadly, they are correct. My moods, my focus, desire to get out of bed each more can change by the day, or by the minute.

The cause of bipolar disorder is still not fully understood, but it has been linked to a chemical imbalance. The neurotransmitters that regulate mood, focus, concentration levels, and sleep patterns are out of balance. Even with my medicine I still experience severe rapid and mixed episodes.

In my opinion, the single most important thing people need to understand about those living with bipolar disorder is NEVER doubt the risk of bipolar suicide. Studies show a 15% rate of suicide in people with bipolar disorder. This is about 30 times higher than the general population. The rate of suicides in bipolar people is even higher than that for schizophrenics. Studies have come up with rates as high as 30%-50%. The misconception that thoughts of suicide are fleeting is especially harmful and contributes to these high rates for bipolar self-injury. There are risk factors to be aware of but until someone is “diagnosed” they could mimic many other illnesses.

Although mental illness affects one in four of us at least one time in our lives, it is one of the last illnesses that still experiences prejudice. I can tell you that living with bipolar is tough enough without having to add the pain and rejection of stigma. I find it difficult to resent those that judge, however, because I have often had a “why-try” attitude about life and goals, which in itself is a stigma; a self-stigma. If I had cancer, or diabetes, or MS…I would receive a world of sympathy and support, I am sure.

If nothing more is ever understood about bipolar disorder I ask that you understand this: bipolar disorder is an illness, just as Leukemia and Muscular dystrophy are illnesses. My current therapist said something to me the very first day I met her. I told her “I’m bipolar”. She quickly corrected me, saying “YOU are not bipolar, you HAVE bipolar; it is an illness, it does not define you.” She then added, “do people who have cancer say ‘I am cancer'?"

You don't know me, you can't see me, you will most likely never speak to me. What I can tell you is, when I find someone to help me, I am going to start a non-profit foundation. Yes, there are foundations that will help you find a medical professional (already have one, how do you think I know what the problem is), or how I can get "assistance" appealing for disability benefits (that's the easy part, surviving while waiting, not so easy). There needs to be something that assists people with mental illness while in a transition stage, waiting for a disability hearing. Even a one-time "donation" would mean one less struggle, the difference between light and darkness. As I write this today, I am in a very dark place, revisiting my stay up north two years ago. It's not a good place to be. If I can help another not have to endure what I did for what seems like forever...what a difference that would make. I know it would make a difference for me.

The only things, without exaggeration, that means anything to me on this world are my daughters. I need them...and they need me."
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