Monday, May 28, 2012

Our Guest Blogger Writes About Diagnosis

This guest entry was written by our regular (and amazing) guest blogger, published writer and mental health professional (and awesome friend) Kerry Stott, after we visited her the last time right before we left England for our return trip to the States. She has since had the surgery mentioned in this blog piece.

Mental health blog party badgeWe didn't do as much writing as we wanted to for Mental Health Month, (which is now coming to a close) due to our Northeatern USA road trip. We won't make any more excuses than that, we write all the time, monthly, for coming close to two years now, about mental health, attempting to raise awareness for not only ours, but other diagnosed issues of people.

We're a big proponent of a person not being thier diagnosis, so this submission by Kerry is right up our alley. (Read our official contribution to the May 16th American Psychological Association Mental Health Month Blog Party 'A Message To Your Diagnosis'

Four days left of mental health month, this is our last contribution using the blogging badge. (even though the entry is not even ours). Tomorrow we leave for roughly six days of camping in New York State and the state of Massachusetts, and we don't know when, or if, we'll have wireless/MiFi access adequate enough to blog with.

What's in a name? 

What's in a name, why do we need labels and diagnosis? There are many people who have asked about Frankie and viewed her through her diagnosis of DID. There are many people who have viewed my through my diagnosis of cancer, I guess since I am due to have more surgery for my cancer that my treatment is still ongoing. But what does it actually mean?

There are people who rail against their diagnosis, fighting it every step of the way. They see their diagnosis as an enemy to fight. That somehow being labelled by the medical profession is a bad thing. Certainly there have been any cases in the past and in the present where diagnosing and labelling people could have been handled better; times where health care professionals have completely screwed up. When people are treated as their diagnosis e.g. Frankie is DID and I am only a cancer patient, then it is really quite unsurprising that some people hate their diagnosis.

On the other hand, fighting it may be not the most productive method to change how people perceive you. I am aware that as a cancer patient being surly and/or aggressive will only lead to a brick wall of distain from health care professionals. I have seen, as a mental health professional, patients who behave like that in mental health services are handled more warily and with more caution. Of course it is possible that there is a process here that patient's need to go through. No one likes to be labelled but perhaps patients (and I include me in there) need to go through the process of being angry, cross...pissed off. Some people hate their label with a passion and do their best to distance themselves from their diagnosis. I often wonder if this is a reflection of the care that they are receiving or have had in the past, or if it is a direct reflection of their personality type. I also wonder if they can see how destructive their behaviour is. How it not only erodes any current or future relationship with health care professionals but also it has a knock on effect for other people with the same diagnosis by either directly influencing the health care professional's attitude (I know that this is not good but then again we are all human after all) or be non directly putting people down how have the same diagnosis.

So if labelling people can cause so much friction, why do it in the first place?

Well as a nurse, I always find that if I have a label I have a fair idea what I am going to expect and what treatment plan or plans I could potentially offer, prior to seeing the patient. This cuts down on uncertainty on both parties parts. It gives the professional some confidence about how they approach the patient, and that in turn leads the patient to have more confidence in the health care professional. Medication is divided into what illnesses it can be prescribed for, so therefore it makes sense to have a diagnosis.

Where I work, mental health teams are divided into psychosis and affective (mood disorder), I work in the affective team. Having a diagnosis dictates which team you are referred to, with (hopefully) each team being specialist in their areas. On the other hand, there is no difference in treating someone which psychotic depression compared to psychosis with depressive symptoms; same medication, same approach, same treatment.

Sometimes mental health professionals are loathed to diagnose. I spent last week at a personality disorder conference, it was great fun and VERY geeky! One thing that cropped up was that some professionals do not like labelling patients with a personality disorder. This may be due to it being complex in nature and people have to be in the right frame of mind with the right practitioner to move forward. However, one of the keynote speakers stated that not telling someone that they had a personality disorder just because that professional thought it would be hard to treat, is akin to not telling a cancer patient that they have cancer because there is not cure. It seems idiotic and puerile.

Seeing a person and not a diagnosis should not be underestimated. How a diagnosis is given and how it is received each time the patient/person has a new key worker is very important. Studies have shown that people with a diagnosis of personality disorder feel better for having their diagnosis explained to them and they found it empowering. In other words, by having it explained in a sensible manner, they felt more in control. It is certainly the way that I want to feel when I talk to professionals about my diagnosis and it is the way that I try to deal with people too.

So what is a diagnosis? It is something that can help you and your health care professional, it is something that can be a weight around your neck. It can grind and divide people. Ultimately, it is up to the individual how they want to deal with it, and how they deal with it influences others. When I hang out with Frankie, I see Frankie and not DID; when she hangs out with me she sees Kerry and not my cancer.

[What does a Mental Health Nurse do in England? Check out Mental Health Nursing via the National Health Service]

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Did You Say Tweetup?

We did it, we went to our very first Tweetup and met people from Twitter. And we let them see our face (didn't even wear the mask we bought!). And we're mostly okay with that. Regrets don't come easy around these parts. Nobody took pictures of us anyway, that we know of, except the couple people who were allowed. James would have never stood for it. He had a great time though, probably better than he expected he would.

So, what is a Tweetup like? From our perspective?

We drove into the suburb of Detroit from Chicago (were we had spent the previous 5 days) with @Nick_Twist in our back seat, after picking him up at the airport and having drinks in the hotel the night before we hit the road. It was cool bonding time, he's pretty awesome. [P.S. check out his art website, he's a super talented, life loving, bear of a man.]

The first night included such amazing Twitter fame as @FrauFickenDammt, @CanadianCyn, @PuddingBoobs, @stacetoned, @robyn_vo, @_Bacon_Tits_, @leahbeeyuhh, @SarahFemme, @ChemBtwnUs@ConfusedLush and @Cool_Jesse

There was drinking, once we finally managed to locate them after getting lost, (Detroit is confusing!) at TGI Friday's, and eventually a late night trip for eats right before the hotel security gave yet another noise warning to the group. 

The second night brought @LisaH9591@PlatinumShower (very briefly), @RobbyRob313 @AdrianasWords, @nothingkitten, @samyspaz ..and probably others, it wasn't always clear. And who could forget the beautiful @Alyssa_Jolie (she spent a lot of time on our lap).

Just like how it works in "Real Life" interaction, alcohol proves to be the required social lubricant for fun with "strangers" (for us anyway...) And of course, people are way more fun drunk. Right?

Even if they didn't like us it didn't matter. Chances are some didn't. Statistically it's impossible for everyone to like each other at a Tweetup. Especially when it's people who hate people. Nick Twist described it perfectly on the car ride in. "We're all people who don't trust people. We shouldn't trust each other, but we do. But we don't. And I'd kill any of you if I had to." (that's a paraphrase, but you get the idea)

Anyway, there were of course some hookups (we won't tell who), and friendships made with lots of hugging, smooches (the friendly kind), bonding, sharing, and...more hugging. And drinking. So much drinking.

The great thing about people being themselves on Twitter is that when you meet them, you know them, sometimes you know more about them than the people they deal with in life outside of Twitter love them, all the dirty, angry, sad, violent, honest and amazing words you see in 140 characters or less at a time...the face behind it, is beautiful. If you're not a dick anyway.

Would we do it again? Probably. Depends. Don't know. It was interesting. It was fun. It was exhausting.

Shout out in blog form to our long time favourite men, just in case they read this entry: Jesse, Lushy and guys are great...even when you're not. (and James adores you all)


Tonight we're in Cleveland, it's the next stop on our month long road trip. Two days from now we'll be camping in a New York State Park in New York State. It will be relaxing to be away from big cities for awhile, and we have new sketching pens and a fresh new sketchbook to pass the time. And we'll be attempting to canoe with James...for him and us it will only be the second time we've ever canoed...should be interesting. Also, we've never set up a tent with him, and the new one we bought is pretty big.

We can barely wait for the bickering.

Thanks for reading today, this is mostly so we had a place where everyone we met at our very first Tweetup could be listed.

Hey, guess what. This weekend we crossed the 10,000 follower mark, one year and seven months after starting our account, without having ever shown our boobs, or vagina.
That's pretty cool...even if you don't think it is.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Journal Entry: Chicago Update

Internet in the new hotel is rubblish at best. We can barely log on before the signal drops...hence the lack of posts.

Over the last couple of days we've visited the SHEDD Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Skydeck (formerly Sears Tower, now called Willis Tower)

As a side note, museums have grown increasingly...consumer based, in the last 7-10 years. It's slightly discouraging to be inundated with a barrage of shops to buy merchandise and food at every turn.

The best parts? The Jelly Fish exhibit at the SHEDD Aquarium (photos and video to come soon), the Tornado Alley film at the Museum of Science and Industry...and the Skydeck. Not worth the extra cash? The Mythbusters Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

All the people exposure and our back pain is making us...difficult, but today is the last day.

This afternoon we will (hopefully) be going to the Art Museum. We were going to go earlier in the day but James has been up (and us, as a result) since about 4am, he was having lower back and abdominal pain, as well as testicular pain.

Apprehensive about going to the hospital, because of the high cost of medical in the United States he moaned, complained, cried and then when he eventually vomited (likely due to some Ibuprofens he didn't swallow properly) we hoped into the car and went to the neatest Emergency room...but by the time we found it, around 6am the pain he was feeling subsided. After some discussion in the car, a joke about going in to declare we had a British emergency and needed a cup of tea, stat!, and a trip in to inquire about costs (undetermined) we decided to head back to the the hotel.

He's now resting, and we'll hopefully be doing the same because tonight Nick Twist comes into town, and tomorrow morning we will be headed to Detroit for the Tweetup. We're excited, nervous...and one of us would prefer not to go.

As far as the locating a place to move...We've added Kansas City, Cincinnati and Minneapolis to the list of places to consider. Chicago is still there, but it might be the suburbs, and it might be many years. We have more on the issue, but the battery on the laptop is low, and we need to try to publish this before the internet connection drops again.

~ Frank et al

Monday, May 21, 2012

Relationship Communication Issues

Where to even start.
Yesterday sucked. Like, sucked bad. A big unbelievable suck vortex. From what I've heard. One of us had a really tough day (and due to conversations she had with James, of sensitive nature, we're not tattling on who of us it was who had the bad day).

Sunday started out fine with James pleased with the city we had left that morning, after having a hearty breakfast at a little organic-vegan friendly joint (way better than it sounds!) in the downtown region of the city where we had stayed the night after having dinner at dad's (The Father) house. We arrived in Chicago at the time we had hoped we would, exhausted from the eight hours of shared driving duties and traffic. We checked into our hotel and figured out directions to Giordano's Pizza. Having lived here in Chicago over ten years ago for a short time, we recalled that they had great pizza (turns out it's not that great these days).

Somehow there was some miscommunication between James and one of us when we arrived at the restaurant and it resulted in arguing and then escalated into her crying at the restaurant quite a bit (there were some angry issues with Brooke, who was angry, taking place internally, which was part of why she was crying). After a little talking with James it got better and I guess they decided to drive around Chicago. But then there was more arguing as we tried to make our way downtown through neighbourhoods, where we ended up turning around because the G8 Summit anti-war protest that had taken place earlier in the day was still experiencing issues with the protesters and there were loads of yelling people and marching, loads of police officers and general havoc moving about Downtown Chicago, even at 11:30pm, hours after the Summit had concluded.

After a few wrong turns in the darkness and rain of Chicago, we got back to the hotel, on the outskirts of, amongst silence. She has been crying much of the drive home, even though she had actually been driving.

We are all required to drive while in Chicago, (if we can...Bethany cannot, obviously).

Once we got back to room she lay on the bed full clothed and cried for what must have been a long time, eventually she told James what was wrong, starring at the bumpy white ceiling of the hotel room. Without getting into too much detail, the issue was related to thoughts of no longer wanting to live. (Please don't be alarmed by this, it's a statement of fact. We do not all feel this way.)

Obviously this upset James, he lay still and listened while she talked, asking questions. Things got a little better but eventually topics got changed and then there were more arguments, and by that time 4am rolled around there was still James and some of us, by this point, arguing about communication.

Four hours later we all woke up and it seemed to have gotten better. But then it wasn't again. Crying in the shower, and James with his lack of sleep was grumpy and tired. Then we had a long talk with James. Private conversations about the future of our relationship. It got scary and sad before it got better.

It was a really tough morning.

When it was all said and done it boiled down to the issue of communication styles, and us not expressing ourselves in a manor in which he understands, or interprets well. Meaning, he reads into our facial expression and tone, and often times those two things do not coincide with the words that are coming out of our mouth. This is not the first time we have had this problem over the last year and a half.

We know all about non-verbal communication cues, of course, we've studied communication in University. We used to be a lot better at it, or at least we thought we had, but these days it seems like even when we try to use them they don't come across clearly. We wrote about another time we had an issue with this back in January of this year ('A Face Full of Emotion: A Journal Entry' Our occasional difficulty expressing many things verbally is what eventually drove us to writing this blog.

All we can do now is resolve to learn the different ways he communicates and we communicate, as we have discussed over the last 24 hours, and share how we interpreted what was just said without jumping to conclusions or assumptions.. Some of us are way better at it and that's where he gets confused.

Another reason she was upset, to add to the tangled destructive episode is that she doesn't understand why he wants to deal with us, why he loves us, why he is willing to put up with so much. The words "Because I love you"...just don't seem enough...for her.

Anyway, with that over we finally made it out of the hotel around 2pm this afternoon, real estate route in hand. We had noted some houses on the market we liked, and so we went to look at the neighbourhoods of around eleven different properties.

While most of them were clean neighbourhoods, there were elements that didn't make James feel safe, and many times those elements didn't make us feel safe when we thought about prospects of living in them for an extended period. Begging and pan-handling on one corner, and then on another, inside a northwest Chicago neighbourhood, a group of young black men cat-called and whistled to us making mention of how we, a white girl, must like us a black man...guess we were in the wrong neighbourhood. (we have some other impressions that formed throughout the day, none pretty or those we are currently willing to share.)

There were many neighbourhoods like this. I wouldn't have felt safe walking down the streets in these places, though surly some of us would, and slowly each neighbourhood on the list got a fairly firm "no" from James, until 7pm rolled around with one last neighbourhood in the far south of Chicago, near West 99th Street and I-57. The neighbourhood was nice enough but was car-dependant. One of the things we are looking for is being able to walk to a grocery store/bank/etc., so we don't have to drive too much.

Heading back to the hotel we and James came to the hard decision that Chicago, as it turns out, is not the city we'll be moving to. We can't afford to live in the areas that feel safer. So, with that our fantasy/dream/desire is now dead.

In the end that's the very reason we took this trip first. It was only fair that he see the city a bit before we made/asked him to live in it.

Now we're back to the drawing board of "Where will Frankie and James live"...but at least we're getting along and will try to work hard at communicating better, which means he also has some work to do, because it's not just us...he's a bit short on patience sometime...but not, he just comes to a breaking point because he bottles it all up.

Tomorrow we're moving to a different nearby hotel, the one we are staying at smells bad, and may have some mould problems, and what with all the arguing and crying that's gone on in it, it's got bad ju-ju as well.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading about our day. Tomorrow will be better...we're going sightseeing!!

~ Catherine et al

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Journal Entry: To Chicago

Dinner with The Father last night was good, not sure we remember the whole thing, but good talks. We enjoy spending time with him.

Later we showed James around the downtown area of the city where we graduated high school and went for a two hour walk. He seemed to enjoy it and said that it make him feel more positive about having to stay America some day (in order to be with us). That's a really good thing.

A great breakfast that sustained us through the day...we tried to fix a headache with a light snack and water but our head continue to pounds.

Tonight we arrived outside of Chicago, we're getting ready to take a drive in. James seems apprehensive, deflated by what he has seen so far, the closer we get to Chicago.
It's tough to convince all of us to have a good time, particularly when he is cranky, when we all didn't want to take this trip, and after about 8 hours cooped up in a car.


We get to east pizza Chicago. So, to the rest of us, suck it up, buttercups...because Chicago pizza.

More tomorrow, after we scout out some Chicago neighbourhoods/do a little house hunting.


Friday, May 18, 2012

RIP Louis

When we got our first apartment, even before we were 18 years old, we got out very first pet, one chosen by only us, a beautiful tabby cat. He was so beautiful that we always told people if we were a girl cat we'd have a crush on him. We named him Louis after the character in the Interview with a Vampire series by Anne Rice, Louis de Pointe du Lac. (We were really into vampires back in 1997).

<3 Louis the cat. Taken a couple of days ago. <3
(Mom is currently trying to find a couple more pictures...)
Louis was a cat with a unique personality...the memories we all share of him are funny to us, like how he used to take road trips with us and refuse to be in the cage, so he would try to lay on the dash, or pace along it while we tried to drive, and eventually settle in our lap while we drove. (yeah, it obviously was not safe)

He used to do a funny thing where he would stare at us from across the room, run over to us, jump on our lap, bite us, then run back to the same spot and stare.

We lived in a tiny studio apartment for while and he would lay with us on our mattress on the floor and watch movies with us all weekend long, weekend after weekend, when none of our friends would drive the few extra miles out into the country to hang out with us.

Today we got home from buying a tent for our road trip we are to start tomorrow, and The Mother and Stepdad were not home. About 15 minutes after we got home The Stepdad came in the door.

"We put Louis to sleep" He said.

As strange as it sounds we thought he was joking, he has a dry and strange sense of humour, but behind him came mom with a bundle wrapped in a blanket, crying.

Louis had recently been diagnosed with kidney failure and had lost a lot of weight. Two pounds in the last week, as a matter of fact; and he was never a fat or overweight cat anyway. When they had gotten home earlier he was crying a lot, and couldn't stand very well on his hind-legs. They decided it was time to put him down so they took him to the vet.

We never got to say goodbye. That's the most painful part.

Mom is upset, she doesn't have any cats of her own anymore, we had long relinquished the right to call Louise solely ours. Mom has never not had a cat since she was 7 years old. She is now a crazy cat lady with no cats (at one point she had over 15). She has The Stepdad cat, and will be taking care of our two cats (J-Bug and H-Dog [names altered to protect their identity]) for the entire time we are in Europe the next time around, but that's not really the same.

Needless to say it would have been nice to kiss him goodbye, instead of hug his lifeless body in blanket. We couldn't bare to look at him without life, without his soul. We wish we could have been braver.

Tomorrow, when his body is cold, mom will bury him under the tree in the backyard, where he will join her other two cats, Uni and Jasmine, who died not too long ago, at the ripe old age of 20.

Louise, you were a great cat. A beautiful cat. A good cat. We are happy you are no longer in pain, but you will be missed.

Road Trip Here We Come!

Sometimes you just have to let the wind take you, and luckily that's just what we're doing. (Luckily?)

It reminds me of when we were 18 and one night, late at night while we were hanging out with friends, we got a wild hair and decided to take a really long drive to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit a man we had a long-time crush on, and surprise him for lunch. We had gone to Senior prom with him (now is probably a great time for you to find that out, hey Dad? Sorry for not telling you, sorry we lied and said we went alone), he was much older than us, in his early 30's and worked with us at our building center job. We had a huge irrational crush on him. Nothing sexual ever happened between, before, during or after prom, he only accompanied us to the dance portion of the night after we had had dinner alone with our friends who had gone as couples.
Long story short he lied to us for as long as we knew him. We thought he was straight. He made us believe he was straight. He was not. We were clearly naive (people we worked with even told us he was gay...we refused to believe them because he always mentioned women he dated). That's a longer story for another day...another story of deception and a broken heart. No wonder some of us can't trust people.

So, all through our life (going on 15 adult years) many of us have acted on impulse, moved across county having had no prior thoughts of moving the week before only to find us in states and cities we knew nothing about. Sometimes we wonder if we'll ever change. Sometimes we hope we don't. Some of try to make those of us with wanderlust to change. It causes arguments.

Much to some of our surprise (and to some, displeasure...hello, mental breakdown sobbing all over the house for all sorts of irrational things today...she's better now)...we find ourselves planning a month long road trip adventure.

The Northeastern USA tour.

What started out a week ago with a 5 day trip to Chicago to introduce James to the city, and look at neighbourhoods for potential real estate to invest in (after over four months our house sale finally made the last leap and the funds should be in our account by Saturday at the latest) for the day we can finally settle in the United States (the immigration lawyer says it could be a year and half before he's allowed to even come back...we'll see).

Then at the start of the week we got a Tweetup, in Detroit, added to the agenda. Our very first big tweetup! We haven't met any American Twitter people yet, only British ones (@Serentiy_X and @KerryStott) We're even giving artist and funny man @Nick_Twist a lift to Detroit because he's finding himself in Chicago at the same time. NICK TWIST! :-) He has been our pal on Twitter (we've had a Skype with him once) for over a year now. Some of us are super pumped and excited about this event.

Then for reasons involving high crime rates in Chicago (1/3 higher rates than New York), some of us decided maybe James would like to see Cleveland as an option for our future home...and a quick peek at the distance from New York (we've ALWAYS wanted to go there) showed it to be less than a days drive...and then, and then...and now...NOW we are camping and hoteling our way around the Northeast portion of the United States as our very first leg of the aforementioned 2012 Stabbing Tour.

It's not exactly how we envisioned it when we first wrote about it, [we don't get our van and a year to live in it :-( ], and we didn't think we were going to be able to start it until we return from Europe next time, but we can sometimes force each other to be flexible when needed, like a giant lunatic pretzel. (even though it can causes slight..issues...).

Also, we can't just sit in this small city, living in The Mothers basement, playing on Twitter until August, that would be...dangerous to our mental health. It already is.

Since we have to leave the country (have to if we want to remain with James) at the beginning of August, and this time we could be gone for over a year (*pouts*). We decided between now and then we have some roadtrips to take. James needs to see the United States...we need him to find something to love about the country we call home. The country he will eventually call home.

And hey, why not test the strength of our relationship after living in cheap hotels for the last month in England with almost no funds, only feet away from each other at all times..., now we get to see how well we can navigate the roads together and set up campsites, and find our way around cities we've never been to. Adventure!

So, we leave on Saturday sometime. The car is getting a tune-up tomorrow, we pulled the camping gear out of storage today...

The top stops are (not including stopping to have dinner with The Father and spending a night in the city where we graduated high school): Chicago - Detroit - Cleveland - Boston - New York - Philadelphia - Cincinnati - Minneapolis

With a tentative return date to "home base" on June 18th. About a month.

A lot of what is travel related will be written on our travelouge, as it was before; things like pictures, restaurant reviews, campground and hotel reviews, and any interesting things we experience travel related.

Come join us on Twitter, in our blogs, we'll be Tweeting and writing our way across the country, and meeting a few people from Twitter along the way.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Message To Your Diagnosis

Mental health blog party badge
We wondered what we would write on this day for the the 3rd annual APA (American Psychological Association) Mental Health Month Blog Party.

We wrote an introduction at the start of the month Mental Health Awareness Month: 2012 and as we always do we write about our life with mental health issues whenever we can, as a form of therapy and advocacy, as well as issues related to mental health in general. (then there is all the other stuff we write about like general health, sex, travel, food, art, current events, philosophy, etc.)

Without rehashing everything about our mental health, our life in the past, our misdiagnoses, our day-to-day life not (they are here in the hundreds of entries we've written in the nearly two years we have been writing this blog), we'd like to share the following, a message, because tens of millions(1) of people in the United States are affected by mental health issues each year.We feel what we have to share is a message. A reminder, an important one most of us try to live by (and try to convince our others to live by - not always easy, so we understand if you roll your eyes, and you discount what we say as horse-shit, because some of us do the same).

Hey, diagnosis, YOU are not a person.

Do not let your mental illness and mental health issues define you. You are more than a diagnosis. Try not to stand behind it and use it as a crutch. You can overcome your past, you can overcome your can form your future. A year can take you to new places, but you have to be willing to try to change your way of thinking, even the smallest of things can make big things happen. No, life is not easy. It's not easy for most people, even "mentally healthy" people. The point is to not let the parts that aren't easy destroy you. Take each experience, good or bad, and find the good, no matter how small. Find the humour. Laugh in its face. Anything is possible. Believe in yourself.

You are not your diagnosis. Don't let it convince you otherwise.

People are not their diagnoses, they are people, the same as everyone else, and different just like everyone else. Respect the differences and open yourself up and you can meet some "crazy" cool people.


Why write, why blog, about mental health stuff? There are many reasons. Again, we've written about them before. Reduce stigma by demystification, strengthening understanding and knowledge, sharing, writing therapy, helping people realize they are not alone. The value is there, even if you only do it for yourself and never share it with the world, at the very least writing can help you understand yourself, organize your thoughts, find peace.

That's it. That's what we have to share for the APA 2012 Mental Health Blog Party. Come back any time and read as much, or as little, as you want. And thank you, for reading this.

~ Ivy, Catherine, Cassandra (and et al)
(1) National Institute of Mental Health Statistics

Monday, May 14, 2012

On The Topic Of Same-sex Marriage

Image Source
Same-sex marriage, hot topic in the media lately...we finally came to a place where we want to do a little entry about it...because we're tired of discussing it with ourselves, and getting angry over the ignorance and intolerance.

Religious people want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, as if there is any left. Divorce rates are high, infidelity is high, society has turned it into reality TV fodder, many of the younger generations (and mid-30's) aren't even wanting to participate it in because they have witnessed the marriages of their heterosexual parents, many times full of neglect, misery, abuse, hate, alcoholism, divorce and distrust.

Sanctify that.

Add the media coverage and law to the equation, and the idea of restricting marriage to being between ONLY a man and a woman becomes such a conflicting jumble of bullshit being ploughed into the minds of the public.

Many developed countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage. The few countries in the world that refuse to recognize it as a right (and in some cases don't even recognize homosexuality exists [China]) are countries many citizens of United States, that oppose same-sex marriage, would be hard-pressed to alight themselves with. Enemies, terrorists, countries not generally recognizes as developed (most of Africa and the Middle East).

We were channel surfing the other night and landed on a news show (not sure what channel it was, could have been msnbc) where a group of woman were talking about prenuptial agreements (for those who may not know what they are, while we abhor Wikipedia, in this case it'll give you the gist of what it is:, and the fact that marriage is a contract agreement between two people, and that's why prenuptial agreements are so important because it helps clearly defines rights and protects both parties in the event of the dissolution of the contract (some even include clauses regarding pets).

Separation of church and state, true separation, where the religious beliefs of a group of people do not impact the overall laws of those who are not a part of that religion is part of what American was founded on - it's part of the Constitution of the United States of America. You can see here where separation of church and state, and religious freedom, TRUE religious freedom, go hand in hand. American freedom is great, as long as you have access to that ever fleeting illusive ideal, lately it seems like freedom is fine as long as the freedom you want doesn't make the religious people uncomfortable (*cough* pro-choice abortion rights and Planned Parenthood in Arizona *clears throat*)

It's fine that people whose religious beliefs dictate that marriage is between a man and a woman adhere to that belief. It is their right to believe what they want. It is not fine, or their right, to unfairly shape the lives of others, using those beliefs. Churches have a right to deny a religious ceremony, just like they can deny heterosexual ones, if they so choose, based on their pre-determined criteria. Plenty of heterosexual couples get married outside of religious institutions, in courthouses, in parks, in Vegas, by non-clergy. Why not extend those rights to any human being, of adult age, who love each other enough to enter into a binding legal contract?

And as a side note, those people who like to interject with "Well then, why don't people just marry a sandwich/sheep/vehicle/etc" you look like a fucking idiot when you indicate that homosexuals/gays, are not even the same species as other humans. But looking like an ignorant fool is also your right.

The law that was recently passed in North Carolina is a step in the opposite direction of progress, progress being equal rights, part of the definition of a developed county (you need only look at undeveloped, third-world countries to see that).

Furthermore, who somebody loves sexually is none of anybodies business (with the obvious exception of a child, or another person who is married) least the people entering into that permanent relationship recognize they love each other, just as a heterosexual couple getting married love each other, and are willing to make that commitment.

And finally, mind your own fucking business. If you oppose same-sex marriage just remember, it doesn't affect your life, affect your "after life", hinder your freedom (which it ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT in any way), so what's your fucking problem. Just because you don't understand it, and therefore fear it/hate it, doesn't make it any less legitimate. It just means you have a narrow view of love...and meanwhile, how dare you love the person you love? Some people think them unattractive, too fat, too skinny, too bitchy, too nice, too slutty, too mentally ill, they're of a different ethnic background as you, a different financial class as you, they've already been married once, twice, maybe more, they have dare you love them.

Let people love who they want, in a world full of people who increasingly find love to be an alien and distant concept, or worse, reality show entertainment, let somebody be an example of true love...they fight hard for their right to love the people they love.

~ Ivy et al
'Same-sex marriage legislation around the world' (complete with map)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our Guest Blogger Writes About Positive Affirmation

Hard to admit, but when we got to the last paragraph of this guest entry written by our friend Kerry; regular guest blogger, author, cancer survivor, mental health professional, mother, wife...and so much more; there was a tear in my eye, that a gift of appreciation and love from us has become a positive affirmation to a beautiful friend who many of us find to be one of the most amazing, strong and charismatic woman ever...<3 it meant a lot.

It's so hard to stay positive in the eye of humanity, in one's personal life, in one's daily goings. We won't bore you with how difficult it can be living with someone inside you who just cannot grasp the positive without struggle, but it helps the rest of us understand the struggles of negativity.

Thank you on again, Kerry, for your insight.

Think it, feel it, surround yourself with...

Positive Affirmations 

I have had a wobble recently, a rather large one which is quite out of character for me but there you go, we all have them. People look at me and see a thirty-something lady who has it all under control and has got her shit together. Anyone who knows me more than superficially knows that this is utter bollocks and that I am just a hypo manic woman with a very mercurial mind. So how do I stay so positive when life gives me a swift kick (because I am not immune, I am just like everyone else).

Let me tell you a story….are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

For many years I was told that I was only averagely bright and my brother was very bright and I was metaphorically patted on the head in a condescending way. Spool forwards to about 10 years ago, smudging over a somewhat train wreck of a life, I got my first A grade at university. I had never got an A before and was delighted with it. My ever brilliant mother-in-law, who is into embroidery and craft things, made me a cross stitch card with an A on the front with other little A’s flying around it and she wrote a lovely message inside. Now I fully thought that this A grade was a one off and was delighted when I got another…and then another. Like most obsessive students I had diagrams of the brain and the latest theories stuck to the wall so that I could refer to them easily but then I got struck by a bout of clinical depression.

After picking my ass up off the floor, I decided what I needed to see around me was things that make me feel good not the latest mental health research. So down came all my student stuff and up went that card, then I got another card from someone else, then there was a note that someone left me…up on the wall it all went. Before I knew it, I had a pretty full wall and thought that this was a cool idea.

Being the laid back chilled out dude that I am (no please don’t laugh) I went through the whole house and binned all the crap and kept stuff from people that was either a nice gift or card or comment. So out went the bank statements and the outdated letters from the taxman that I was keeping ‘just in case’ and the old love letters and the scribbles my son made on paper took pride of place all round the house. Ok the love letters are in the draw but you get the picture.

This method of surrounding myself with positive things came into its own when I got cancer. Someone suggested that I have a mantra ‘I will be alright, I will get healthy’ that kind of thing. Except my kind of mantra would contain a lot more swearing! I tried the none swearing version because when you have cancer you will try anything and unsurprisingly I found that it did not work. What did work were they physical signs of people who love and care for me.

OK I hear you say, this isn’t brain surgery, why are you telling me this? Take a look around your home. There may be paintings done by the kids but what else is there? My son was playing being a pirate one day and asked if I had any treasure. Of course I have, I told him but he was very surprised that it did not contain any jewellery rather my Weight Watchers card which showed how much weight I had lost, his milk teeth, an old playing card that I got on an excellent night out. None of these treasures has any intrinsic value, but they are priceless too.

As I write this I notice that I have tattoos, rings and the necklace Frankie bought me, all on me with at least 5 other things I can see without getting up off the seat that are positive affirmations . Go on and try it; you may find it life changing or you may find that it brings just a little bit more happiness into your life. Let’s face it, who couldn’t use some more happiness.

With love,
Kerry x
And Happy Mother's Day to Kerry. We have had the fortune of spending time with the amazing boy that is the product of her parenting. He is indeed an intelligent, kind, happy and lucky young man. XO

Our Guest Blogger, Kerry Stott (@kerrystott), Writes About...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Couple Of Days Off

It's been hard to write...anything. With some "writers block" and the nearly insurmountable disappointment with things we have been seeing and hearing in the United States news...we're taking a couple of days off (that's the plan anyway).

Tomorrow we will post a guest post written by our regular guest blogger, published author, mental health professional and friend, Kerry Stott. (We're still looking for more guest writers for Mental Health Month - it's nearly half over!)

Today we are watching The Mother, via the wonders of steaming video and television broadcasting, get her Masters degree from a local University.
Tomorrow is (American) Mother's Day. (in other parts of the world it is celebrated in different months)
We'll be spending it with her for the first time in seven years.

While we have a sordid history with her, we also understand that she has tried to make up for it (at least half us understand, anyway). We know, given our knowledge of her as a person, that the nice things she does is out of guilt, but we are fortunate at this time in our life, as times in the past, that she is here for us as "adults" when we need her, despite the fact she wasn't, in so many ways, for so many years, as children. We try not to take advantage of it. We buy our own food, clean up after ourselves, and do as much as we can, while taking refuge in her basement - including attempting to stay out of her way when she wants, and be company for her when she wants someone to talk to; which works fine, because while we live in her house, as well as when we don't, she is not one to inquire as to our well being, or take much interest in our life, unless it affects her. It's the way she is. It's the way she has always been. We each love her, in our own varying ways. She is mom. She is the only one we get to have.

It's always mixed emotions, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs when it comes to being in her house - it's been a struggle to get back into the swing of us, since getting back late Monday night. We feel even less like ourselves as usual, but knowing it is once again temporary helps. We will be returning to Europe the first week in August (more to come soon on that).

But as we've learned in life, over and over, it's not always easy, there are things you have to do that are sometimes the only option for survival.

Until the next time we write...

Happy Mother's Day, all you Mothers. Be as good of ones as you can.
And for those of you have an "over attentive" Mother, one that concerns herself with your lives, maybe nags a bit about your love life, your job, your living situation...listens to you, calls you a couple of times a month...cares about your future, your general and mental health...
Hold her.
Give her a hug for us.
And stop being fucking ungrateful; be thankful for the mom you have, because not everyone has the same kind you do, or one at all.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Review and a Word on Minding Your Own Business

Our blog post today will be here: - it's a review of a restaurant we ate at in Colchester called The Green Room...full with pictures (food porn!) and all.

We were thinking of doing a blog post about recent immigration issues we're going to have to deal with, so that James can eventually be here with us permanently (so we don't have to keep going back and forth between countries). It wasn't the greatest of news we got today, we'll have to write about it tomorrow.

We're exhausted what with the meeting with the immigration lawyer, and James is having some pain issues from the vasectomy he had before we left England and that's concerning me, and then we landed on a blog (one we have actually visited a few times, that tries to disprove Dissociative Identity Disorder) because we were doing a search for a recent Dr. Phil episode about DID that a friend from Twitter was asking about - she's busy and we wanted to try to search for the YouTube links for her, if there were any - we don't actually plan on watching much of it, we live with it and don't feel the need to concern ourselves with the woman and what people are saying. Anyway, most people will have an opinion on it, of course, like it affects them personally or something, and it's likely unless they live with it, or know someone who does/has, they will have nothing but negative things to say about it. We don't need negativity. We've got someone who creates our own for the system to deal with (not to mention the fantastic world of Twitter).

Like with anything, if mental health issues don't impact you personally, for instance if you deal with it, or a loved one does, then why worry about and judge how other people's lives and brains. Do you live in their head, experience their day-to-day struggles or triumphs, have you had the past that they have had?

Probably not. Definitely not. So why try to make their life more difficult.

~ Frank et al

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name

Or, Passing Thoughts.
Couldn't figure out what to call the entry.

A rose by any other name, sure, it might smell sweet...but it's not a "rose".

Now that we're back in America with all of the people who have known us since birth, or since they were born, we are reduced to The Other Girl's name. She doesn't exist anymore, we know that...but The Mother, The Father, Brothers...Step-Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandma...they don't know that. Immediate family knows we are Frankie, but are not able to call us that, because of their own to us we are someone else to them. To people who never really knew us, or The Other Girl at all anyway.

The nice thing about England was that everyone we met, not just people from Twitter, they know us as Frankie. James' dad, his grandmother and uncle, his cousin and her husband and uncle...Kerry, the beautiful Kerry and her husband and son. They know Frankie. As far as England is concerned we are Frankie. As far as James, The Boyfriend, is concerned we are Frankie. He has to use our birth name, our government name, from time to time. He dislikes it. We feel like a fraud using it, even though we know how the general public is about names.

Back in America, and we are no longer Frankie...a rose by any other name, still wants to be called a rose, still wants to be called what it is. We are not her.

It might not be a big deal to many, but spending so long hidden beneath the name of The Other Girl, and now not having to really makes being back in the States, where we have to hide form the only people who know any part of us, a little desirable. Did we mention we don't know people in the United States anymore?

From here forward every person we know will know us as Frankie...everyone but the people who can't let go, the permanent people in our life, because it feels weird to them. We'd rather them call us "hey, you"...

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Mental Health Month 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back In America

Image Source
We're back in America.

Arriving at about 4:30am GMT we obviously didn't have time to write a blog post, and the last two days in an airport hotel outside of Heathrow, as inspiring to write as it should be, just wasn't.

Let's just say that when we get back on that plane on August 3, we'll be packing differently, at least. And we'll be better prepared for the trip than we were this time. We'll also likely be gone longer, and as of right now all we know is that we can't be in Canada, Mexico or the United States...but we have the rest of the world to choose from.

We do not recommend dating a foreigner if you don't like the idea of being separated from each other for long periods of time, and are not presented with a position where you can freely travel together...even then. It's a giant pain in the ass. More to come on that...

Would we do it again? He's worth it for most of us, even though, like with any relationship...there are always issues to work through. These are just relationship strength building experiences...


So many things ran through our mind on the plane rides we took to get us back to our homeland, all that time away from the computer and Twitter...mental spark flew, especially the more tired we got. Hopefully once we get settled back into life in The Mother's basement we'll be able to conjure them up again and put them to blog paper.

We watched a couple of movies on the plane. We recommend them. They were pretty cool.

Try out Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron, a story about an author battling depression and disappointment with her life, as well as some other clearly sociopathic issues. The synopsis on Internet Movie Database doesn't give it justice. That's the lovely part about being stuck on a plane for over eight hours with the same things on the TV over and watch things you probably wouldn't have.

Also try out, It's Kind of a Funny Story. This one we've been holding on to, digitally, for months and months. But with minimal options on the plane we decided it was time. It's a really good, honest movie starring Zach Halifianakis, and an amazing cast of characters including a young British actor called Keir Gilchrst, the protagonist of the film. Also the message is one that all people should acknowledge, if even with a roll of the eyes.

If you end up watching either of these movies we'd love for you to come back here and comment on them, particularly the last one.

We'll we've got things to do. Like go get another drivers license. And get groceries (we don't eat much of moms food), and plan our trip to Chicago for the week of the 21st...where we will be starting to look at real estate, and James has never been outside of a three hour radius of the city we've landed him in, The Mother's basement adjacent. And then...everything else.

We're feeling really good today, mentally, despite not feeling that way after we landed last night. Things go up, things go down. We strap ourselves in everyday for the roller coaster that is life.

Throw your hands in the air and scream.

~ Frank et al

OH! And it's Mental Health Month, so check out some of the stuff here on the blog regarding that, and we'll be publishing another story submitted from other people soon. You should join in the Blogging For Mental Health!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mama, We're Comin' Home

Part of what we were waiting for came to fruition yesterday morning and it being fiscally impossible to stay in England any longer to wait for the other things we've been waiting for, we can't continue any longer.

There hasn't been enough contract work in order for James to able to keep affording places for us to stay while we wait for more of them (contracts), let alone funds to eat much of anything the last couple of weeks (except when we stayed with James' aunt last weekend). Cup of soup, crackers and sandwiches, the occasional bagged salad, do not a lunch and dinner make every day for a month (we went our three times, at the most, for a hot and nutritionally balanced meal). When one mental health issues, and food-related health becomes even more important to staying happy and healthy.

As fun as it might sound living in hotels, when you can't afford much in the way food, or entertainment, which also requires gasoline (it's equivalent to approximately $8.50 a gallon here as of this writing), it is not wonderful.
[almost forgot, we went to Bletchley Park, the tickets we're £27 total (for two), but good for a year, and since we have to come back two more times in that time, and the place is huge...that's an investment]
Thankfully we had one last month on our wireless plan (cheap as dirt in the UK for what we needed) and many of the hotels had free wireless (except for that damn Holiday Inn Express) when the mobile signal was nowhere to be found, so that kept us entertained, plus the wonderful people of Twitter.

Add having had to keep moving to hotels with lower rates AND vacancies regularly, because we booked mostly on a night-by-night basis so we could leave at any time in the event James got a contract, or even a few hours of work...spread that over a month and we are exhausted.

Spending an entire month in a hotel with anybody will drive you mad, don't care how much you love them or like them. It's not a romantic situation. The toilets are not that far away from the living area, where you are together constantly...bitch, bitch, moan, at least we had a roof over our head, and Cup of Soup to eat.

It could have been worse.

James is almost recovered completely from the vasectomy he had last Tuesday, (an event which sadly removed one of our *clears throat* forms of entertainment for awhile) and so yesterday and today we had tough decisions to make about how and when to leave England, and some stress to try to rid that was eating him, and us, to pieces.

The car we bought and had planned on storing needs too much work and the MOT (vehicle road worthy certificate) is due, and that little puppy (a Ford Mondeo) is not going to make it, (the wheel barring is shot and the catalytic converter is crumbled, almost tragically) and we can't afford to fix it, so before we fly out this week the scrapyard will come collect it for a cool £160 or so.

We're excited and not about returning to the states right now. Anybody that knows us well knows our mixed feelings, together, on living with The Mother, but it's all about staying strong, and once again trying to repair the relationship and for some of us learn to completely forgive her. In addition we, well, James at least, will only be able to stay in the United States for three months at the most, again...which means we will be returning to England/Europe either when he gets a good long-term contract or whatever the United States Government says...which we will find out when we land at the airport and go through customs...whichever comes first.

The funny thing about all this is,,,if we hadn't lost our wallet right before the flat sold and had nowhere for The Mother to send the new bank card when she finally got it in the mail to forward on to us, we wouldn't have has any of these problems.

If the first paperwork to the tax agency in the country where we sold the house we owned (in January) hadn't been lost, and then been a month late being replaced, we'd have had the funds from the sale to work with.

Luckily once we get back to the states we'll have some cash to work with, which is lucky because when James is in the states with us it is our responsibility to take care of him financially.

At least we'll get to see the "kitties" (Catherine is the most excited), and get to our paints and easel (Ivy is thrilled) and finish writing and posting pictures on our other blog (the travel one) about the foods, and sights and experiences we've had...we're all exited about that. Oh, and "real American coffee", none of that two shots of espresso and hot water Cafe Americano bullshit. And we'll get to cook meals again. And we can drive again (once we replace our lost drivers license). And our bicycle is there. Once the funds from the house sale clear we'll be looking at houses to buy. We really shouldn't complain at all. Some of us are apparently spolied brats.

Luckily the first thing James did with the job he got when we arrived in England back in January was save money for the flight home for each of us, just enough...and the increase in ticket prices meant we had to leave even earlier than planned, so...

We'll be touching ground in the United States on Monday.

Four months after arriving in England...mama (and daddy...and everyone)...we're comin' home...again...again.

<writing to you from an airport hotel until Monday, beneath the landing flight path of British Airways>

Friday, May 4, 2012

Anchor, Ship, Sinking, Clown

Who's the anchor, who's the ship.
An anchor is no good to a sinking clown.
A ship with no anchor floats adrift.
All we need is to buck the dips.
Getting pulled down, down, down.
Overboard is no option.


Another chance to patch the hull tomorrow.

~~ Time ~~ To ~~ Put ~~ On ~~ The ~~ Happy ~~ Face.









Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Matt Blogs For Mental Health: 'Doors'

A guest blog entry for Mental Health Month 2012. If you would like to submit a story for the month of May please contact us. Thanks. Mental Health Awareness Month: 2012


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Since this is a guest blog, I'm not going to try to talk about how depression affects my everyday life. I'm just gonna choose one aspect of it and discuss how it has affected me through the years.

Since I was quite young (teens I think though my memory of those days is not great) I have had a problem walking through doors. Sound odd? Maybe it is. I remember as a teen if I ever had to go to the shop, I would walk down there, no problem, but when I got outside I would pause. If the door was transparent, I'd spend some time looking through it to see who was in the shop, whether I could see the thing that I wanted, whether the guy behind the counter was in a good mood, that kind of thing. The thought of having to spend time looking for what I wanted in a strange room, or worse, having to ask for it, horrified me. That was just me being shy of course, many teens experience that I think. What was worse was the idea that I might have to walk into the shop when there were people already in there. The instant I walked through the door, I thought, everyone would turn and look at me. An instant judgment would take place and the poor hapless creature that had the temerity to walk into a shop to buy something would be mocked, ridiculed and have missiles thrown at him. It sounds ridiculous I know, and I think I knew it then but head was incapable of overruling heart in such matters. 

At the time parents had written this behaviour off as teen shyness, and I think I did too. Fast forward a few years then. I'm beginning my 2nd year at college. I am required to go to one of the computer rooms (no, not every room, this was back when you could still hand in essays in your own handwriting) to register for my 2nd year. The room is on the 3rd floor of one of the university buildings, it is behind a thick wooden fire door. There are 5 days in which to register, today is Monday. "Let's get this out the way then" I say to myself. I walk into college, up the stairs, right up to the door and I can't see through it. I almost made it up to the door but at the last minute turned on my heel and walked on past the door, down the next flight of stairs and out of the building. As I'm walking I think "what happened there then?" Confused I try again, circling around back to where I started, up the stairs, to the door, and just keep going on and out the building again. What the Fuck?

A couple more tries at this and I give up and rationalize to myself that I have another 4 days to register. This happens again on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday I'm starting to worry that I may have to quite the course because I can't register. Now I'm weighing up this consequence against telling my folks that I wasted all that money they saved up to help me through college. I considered it, I actually considered it. I registered on the Friday afternoon, just before the deadline. The feelings of nausea and dread before I walked into the room were astonishing. I'm not sure I can describe them here but I was very nearly physically paralyzed. Once in the room I relaxed. Very few people in there, all too preoccupied to even look at me. The guy who worked for the college came over and asked me if I needed help immediately, we talked, I got registered, I went home feeling pretty relieved and pleased with myself.

This was not an isolated incident by any means, just the one I remember the most. I actually missed a whole term of seminars because, having arrived at the 1st one late, it had already started, and the door was closed. That was the end of that module for me, how could I explain my absence at the 1st seminar if I went to the 2nd. How ridiculous would I look then? I did the reading and passed anyway of course.

So what's going on here? Well as I said earlier it seems to be the assumption that, once you've entered a room, everyone will look, judge, and mock. Does that sound self-absorbed? It really isn't. It is based on the assumption that I look (and am) so pathetic, so obviously inadequate that few can glance at me for the first time and not be horrified by what they see. Of course, what people think of you is more important when you're young; this effect has lessened with time. Appearing at least adequate is nowhere near as important to me as it was back then and I now get by, walking through closed doors almost at will. These thoughts are still there, but I can ignore them.

There are far more crippling aspects of depression that would have a far greater effect on me if It were not for my medication and other help from family and friends. I just wanted to share this relatively small but often seemingly insurmountable aspect of it. Also, because of this article here. [Sorry, but Christianity Doesn't Cure Depression ]
Thank you Matt, for your guest entry, and sharing your story.

~F et al

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mental Health Awareness Month: 2012

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All entries for the next
month that are specific to
mental health will bare this
badge, as will guest entries.
Another year in blogging, our second year "celebrating" Mental Health Awareness Month.

(This was what we wrote for last years mental health month:

We're a day late with this entry of course, because we had other things to write about yesterday. When we have to write about something to clear our mind and find a spot of peace, we have to write. It's a drive some of us try to fight, but in the end we do it, and we feel better.

I'm not so sure how to proceed with the rest of this. I really don't want to be the one responsible for writing this intro.

We blog for so many reasons. One is writing therapy, another is journaling to track our life, and make it easier to remember in the future. We also love to write, and to share with people and to help others; but some of us don't do it for others, some of us do it purely for us, some of us dislike other people (hate is too strong a word, 'disgusted by' is a better way to say it).

Also, our parents have access to this blog (all of our blogs, and all of our social media presences) so they can check in on us whenever they want - we don't like talking on the phone - and we tend to move about a lot, currently we're in England, we used to be in Canada...and who knows where we will go from here, maybe mainland Europe - we are American. We like to share our life with them in writing, especially now that we are older. We have had checkered past with them, some of us way more than others.

We write about our life and make it public to the world to share the many normal things that people with issues in mental health go through, to show that while the mind of the mentally "ill" may be considered different, it's really not that different from a non-mentally "ill" person; and sometimes what is labeled a mental illness these days is a completely normal experience that pharmacological companies exploit by making people insecure about who they are (another day, another many blog entries for that).

We write to demystify mental illness, particularly DID/MPD and in turn reduce the stigma created by news, films, books and other media.

We write to help others who struggle, as an example to show that it's possible to have a "normal" life, to overcome and move past abuse from the past and not to use it as a crutch, and that a "normal" and successful life is how one defines it for themselves, not how other people define it.

Experiences are what makes people different, makes them who they are; but at the end of the day no matter who you are, the color of your skin, your religion, your level of education, your job, your mental health, everything. We, you, us...everyone are all just people. And to quote the title of the famous book "Everybody poops".

We could go on. But I'd prefer to end it there.

Our hope for mental health month is that people learn about the issues, instead of confusing them from one to another and continuing the spread of ignorance.

We want people to learn and understand what they make jokes about, because people do. We want them to understand pretending you have a mental illness for the sake of a joke, to someone who is mentally ill, is not funny - ESPECIALLY if you mix several illnesses/get the symptoms wrong. It would be akin to pretending you have cancer for the sake of a joke, but mixing up the symptoms of two completely specific and unrelated cancers. Also, how rude would it be to pretend you have an life-threatening illness just for a joke? Mental health can be a life-threatening illness. People die due to mental illness every year by the tens of thousands.

We hope:
That people learn the difference between schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.
That people learn what autism actually is.
That people understand real depression, not just feeling "blue" or "disappointed with life" or "lonely"...but understand what it means to be depressed.
That people choose knowledge over ignorant stereotyping. That they learn the facts.

Those are just a few of them.

New hopes for a new year of positive mental health advocacy.

~ Catherine et al

What we know about multiple personality disorder from media, books and blogs:

Mentally "ill", and functional.

10 Things You Should Know About US That MIGHT Surprise YOU: (this list was originally written in the Spring of 2011...some things have changed and notation has been made as to changes]
  1. We used to be a Baptist missionary (yeah, can you fucking believe that shit?!) [we are NOT religious]
  2. We were once married (didn’t last long) [some of our stories talks about him]
  3. We have had nearly 30 physical addresses in 30 years, mostly as an adult (nothing could contain us in the early days) {we even owned a house for two years, and will again}
  4. We’ve lived in 2 countries: 1 province, 6-7 different states (running much); {and now England for three months}
  5. We have lost 120 pounds since the age of 24 (100 of it when we were 24) [and it's close to 140 pounds now)
  6. We have a full time job. {we got fired after a year, one of the longest jobs we've held in July of 2011}
  7. We deal with social anxiety type symptoms nearly every day.
  8. We have multiple “mental illness” diagnoses (doesn't everybody?) [p.s. all misdiagnosed]
  9. We have two beautiful cats, who piss us off every day (but they are special, because they put up with us) [though one of us hates them beyond belief] {one of us misses them terribly while we are abroad}
We have struggled to survive, over and over, defeating the odds thrown against us (read our stories) [seriously, how are we not dead yet?]
The following are mental health entries we are willing to share by making them easily accessible, we've culled the more focused entries out of our archive page, in no particular order.
*Please note, some are disordered, as far as the understanding the person who is writing has of our system, particularly in the beginning. As we have grown to know each other things have become clearer, as is the point with writing therapy in dissociative identity disorder.