Puppies!

Okay, okay, I’ve been hesitating to do this but the urge has sprung in me, so….

I’ll be posting puppy pics! (courtesy of The Daily Puppy unless otherwise stated) Philadelphia Will Do does puppy pics and The Trouble With Spikol does kitty pics and cute overload but my heart simply melts when I see a cute puppy. I mostly like small dogs, btw, so get your bulldog/pitbull kicks somewhere else.

Here’s one for today, but I’ll have them saved in advance to publish on Wednesdays — the most grueling day of the week.

Puppy

Click here for more puppy cuteness

Quote of the Week

"Depression has been labelled the common cold of psychopathology. This comparison is unfortunate, for it conveys the impression of a frequent but mild complaint. In reality … depression is not only the most frequent mental health problem, but is among the most serious." — Paul Gilbert, Depression: The Evolution of Powerlessness

Saturday Stats

"Clinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 19 million Americans each year. This includes major depressive disorder, manic depression and dysthymia, a milder, longer-lasting form of depression." – National Mental Health Association

Docs don't prescribe enough antid's

MSNBC antidepressants

What? Doctors don’t prescribe enough drugs? You have GOT to be kidding me. [I didn’t watch the report (work blocks access to this kind of stuff), but it’s probably way off regardless.] On a semi-rant, though, if 22 million Americans are suffering from clinical depression at any given day, do all 22 million REALLY need to be on antid’s? Seriously. It’s like pharma companies are in the poor house and need this NBC report to boost sales. (Ugh, who paid Today for this “free” ad spot?) (article source: Uncomfortably Numb)

Suicide and depression occur year-round

Andre Picard, writing in the Canadian Globe and Mail, address the myth that suicides spike during the holiday season. Essentially, he says, "Nope. Suicide and depression happen year-round." (That wasn't obvious to people who aren't immersed in mental health.) I hate statistics like this:

"Year in and year out, about 10 Canadians a day take their own lives."

Centre Daily Letter to the Editor

I just found this letter to the editor originally published in the Centre Daily. I like to highlight some of the few letters that address the media's missed opportunities to educate the public about suicide.

Read the rest of this entry »

Paxil withdrawal

paxilThanks to Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons, he wrote about the Uncomfortably Numb blog. The blog focuses mainly on the side effects (and side effect withdrawals) of Paxil. Having been on Paxil (CR), I can identify. I was fortunate enough to ask my doctor for a switch after three months, but I still have this occasional eye-twitch that lasts for days that has stayed with me since taking Paxil back in February 2004. If I didn’t take Paxil for three days, my nerves just went horrible: I felt shaky and my entire life seemed fluid – it was like constantly walking in a pool of water. Nothing seemed real; everything was a dream. But it wasn’t. Everything was too hard, too much effort, too much anything. I couldn’t stand it. I quit Paxil “cold turkey” (again, don’t do this, kids) and felt worse before I could feel better. I went from Paxil to Lexapro and… yeah, felt worse again.

Lesson? Primary care physicians should NOT give antidepressants to depressed people with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Couple

I, too, get annoyed when my flight gets delayed, but this is just ridiculous.

Keeping with Indian news, the Indian government is drawing upon the National Policy on Agriculture (NPA) to help farmers suffering from crop losses and monetary woes. The dire and distressing conditions have led to a wave of farmer suicides in the past year.

After attention was drawn to Florida inmates not getting their mental health needs addressed, the focus shifts to Boston where two inmates committed suicide in separate incidents.

Australia has launched a national campaign to tackle female suicide rates. It’s pretty bad: figures show that every day, 1 in 6 young women attempt suicide. The campaign will focus on two things: helping young women transition from adolescence to adulthood and solidifying a bond with their mother during that time.

P.S. The above picture has nothing to do with anything. I just found it on the India Times Web site and thought they were, uh, pretty Indian people. (Pretty’s not a nice word to describe a guy.) If you want to marry pretty Indian people, go visit simplymarry.com (which developed the graphic).

Mental illness covered by health insurance? Possible.

Yay! A bill might pass Congress that would require health insurance to provide equal coverage for mental and physical illness. (source: The Trouble With Spikol)

NYT video on age-related health

The NYT video on health includes a story about how health programs are aimed at baby boomers who are intent on staving off age-related problems such as dementia. (Related to Zyprexa being used off-label for dementia and all…)

NYT report

ADDENDUM: Eli Lilly wins Round 1 in court. According to the NYT, a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of Lilly in a challenge to its patent on Zyprexa. Ivax (affiliated with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries) and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories filed a suit saying that a lower court ruling in Lilly’s favor was wrong. Lilly’s patent on Zyprexa expires in 2011. And random Zyprexa data because Seroquel actually looks better in this instance:

“Sales of Zyprexa dropped 16 percent and fell behind AstraZeneca’s Seroquel as America’s best-selling antipsychotic in 2005, according to IMS Health, which provides data on drug sales.”

Women in the Sciences

Not directly related to mental illness but a good article by the NYT on women in the sciences and why they are sorely lacking:

"Yet studies show that women in science still routinely receive less research support than their male colleagues, and they have not reached the top academic ranks in numbers anything like their growing presence would suggest."

And something that can’t help but remind me of my former employer:

"’Women in science are in a double bind,’ Dr. [Madeline] Heilman, [psychologist at New York University], said. ‘When not clearly successful, they are presumed to be incompetent. When they are successful, they are not liked.’"

It makes me wonder why the mental health industry is so effed. Is it because we don’t have women (who are more emotional and sensitive creatures) in biochem, biophysics, and neuro? The withering feminist in me can’t help but wonder.

Either way, women just can’t win.

ADDENDUM: Okay, I waited too long to post this and now, it’s apparently only available through TimesSelect. Bummer. Regardless, it was a good article. One of these days, I’ll anonymously type up the article, disseminate it all over the Internet and THEN link to it.

Suicide From a Christian Point of View

I was excited to stumble upon a Christian blog that dealt with the topic of suicide. However, despite the fact that I think the author makes many good points, her ending left me a little more than sour: "Deciding to commit suicide whether because of financial, emotional, spiritual, or physical circumstances is a sin that separates one from God for eternity (1 John 5:17)."

I John 5:17 (NASB) says, "All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death."  The sin that leads not unto death is pardoned sin, sin that a Christian has asked forgiveness for.

The author of this blog makes the statement of saying that a person who commits suicide spends eternity apart from God. A person who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and commits suicide does not spend eternity apart from God because even though the sin is committed in death, Jesus’s atonement on the cross pardons that sin. (I John 1:7-9) If the author is making a statement that a born-again Christian who commits suicide is plunged into eternal condemnation, the author is in grave error.

Jess is depressed; "Free will" examined

WARNING – Inappropriate political commentary: First, James Brown. Now, Gerald Ford. Sometime in the next 30 days, Saddam Hussein. Good grief, when’s Fidel Castro’s turn?

Back to more interesting news…
Jessica SimpsonJessica Simpson is depressed (despite what the article says about her suffering from depression). I know she’s going through a rough time right now (I’d be SUPER depressed with the public humiliation of what happened at the Kennedy Honors — I don’t blame her), but trust me, she’ll get over it. Ms. Simpson has always found a way to bounce back. (source: The Trouble With Spikol)

According to Slashdot (of all places), maybe doctors weren’t so off with lobotomies: new research suggests that new discoveries in neuroscience and psychology are changing the concept of a “free will.” The evidence? A pedophile who was “cured” when his brain tumor was removed — not once, but twice. So maybe we can “cure” all pedophiles by removing their “too-mahs”? The Economist (which Slashdot quotes) happens to go on to explain how neuroscience and psychology are changing the idea of “free will,” however, I think the pedophile is an isolated case.

That’s my update for now — I’ve got to get to work! (Yes, even during this slooow week.)

Drugging of the Bipolar Mind

From Philip Dawdy's article, "The Drugging of the American Mind," originally published in the Seattle Weekly:

"Classically, the disorder is treated with a mood stabilizer. Lithium was long the gold standard. In recent years, there has been a shift to anticonvulsants like Depakote or Lamictal. Often, bipolars are also given an antidepressant like Paxil or Effexor to deal with bouts of depression. Until 2000, the mood stabilizer plus antidepressant approach was essentially the state-of-the-art treatment. It just doesn't knock down symptoms forever.

Bipolars can "break through" these meds and wind up having acute episodes of rage or suicidal depression."

Wow. The article was published just over a year ago and it describes me to a T today. Well done, Mr. Dawdy, for seeing my future.

"This is an awkward time for mental- health experts, researchers, and advocates. This month, a peer-reviewed academic paper was published on the Public Library of Science Web site pointing out that researchers still have not proved the serotonin-imbalance-in-the-brain hypothesis of depression. What proof there is, the authors claim, is mostly circumstantial. Two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an article covering the same points in relation to antidepressants."

That was in November 2005. It's good to know that I'm not the only one that sees the neurotransmitter link to mental illness as merely a hypothesis and NOT fact. Many people don't know that at the bottom of each psych med Web site and in the important safety information sheet that comes with a psych med basically says, "We're not exactly sure how this works." Well, gee, thanks for allowing me to take a risk about something you're not even sure about!

Praise to Dawdy, amazing blogger for Furious Seaons,  for uncovering much of this information that most people in America don't want to cover or are too lazy to educate themselves about.

An Interesting Observation

Time’s Quote of the Year:
“Actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday – shows what I know.” – President Bush on the midterm elections

CLASSIC.


An interesting observation I don’t know if anyone has already made or if anyone will pay attention to – Time‘s 2006 POTY issue carried 14 medically- or pharmaceutically-related ads. Two of those ads were full-color spreads related to two major pharma companies: AstraZeneca (an ad letting you know they can help/care) and Eli Lilly (touting the benefits of Cymbalta). I couldn’t help but stop and stare at Ambien CR’s ad pages. Ambien CR, a version of the popular sleep aid developed sanofi aventis has a WHOPPING 3.5 pages. Three-quarters of the first page is the Ambien CR color ad and the bottom quarted is  “Important Safety Information” in a blue box. Turn the page and there is nothing but fine print black text streaming across TWO pages. As if a quarter-page of safety information and a FULL two pages weren’t enough, flip the page again, and more “information for patients” continues for a half-page. I’d like to  know someone that’s actually read ALL those warning/safety information things. How many people actually READ all two and three-quarters (2 3/4) of safety information? I’ll be honest with you; I sure don’t. I skip all that stuff. But it’s there so when people suffer side effects, the company can say, “Hey! We  included this in our advertisement! It’s everywhere; you have no basis to sue.”

AstraZeneca, the maker of antipsychotic drug, Seroquel, writes in its ad (click on the thumbnail to see the modified scanned version):

AZ“A pharmaceutical company saving you the money on the medicines it makes.Imagine that. [larger font]

If you take any AstraZeneca medicines, you may be surprised that there’s someone you can turn to for help if you can’t afford them: Us. A family of four without prescription covrage making up to $60,000 per year may qualify for patient assistance. The AstraZeneca Personal Assistants can assist you in signing up for programs that can provide you free medicines or significant savings IF you qualify. [emphasis mine]
We’ll be the first to admit we don’t have all the answers. But as a pharmaceutical company, we recognize that when you trust us to help you, we feel we owe you the same trust in return. That’s what AZ&Me is all about. A place we’re creating to put the personal touch back into healthcare.

Please visit AZandMe.com or call 1-800-AZandMe.”

AstraZeneca Personal Assistants??? What is this? A department store? I can hear it over the loudspeaker now: “Now, calling all patients who use AstraZeneca medicines, we have personal assistants who can help you select the right care and plan to help you get the medicines you need.” And the cute slogan AZ&Me slogan. How adorable. It just makes you want to cuddle right up to Big Pharma! Because remember, they’re putting the “care” back in “healthcare.”  (sarcasm)

If anyone has used AZ&Me to get Seroquel for free or at a discount, e-mail me ASAP at suicidal.recovery AT gmail.com. I’d love to communicate with you.

Metro Letter about Suicide Myth

The following letter discusses the
student-suicide shooting that occurred in Montgomery County last week.
I previously explained that Shane Halligan pointed to despair over low
grades and prompt punishment from his parents that put the final nail
in the coffin, which led to his public suicide. I had moments when I
was so upset over my grades that I wanted to kill myself, but Mr. Romer
is right – there is a larger issue at hand that would trigger an
adolescent to suicide. The following is a letter to the editor from
Metro’s Tuesday, December 19, 2006 edition (p. 16):

Correct the myth about suicides

PHILADELPHIA. Regarding “Suicide rocks
school” (Dec. 13): A young person’s violent suicide death in a public
setting is surely a big story – but a dangerous one. Your coverage of
the death is misleading at best and perpetuates a myth about suicide
that has little basis in fact.

We know that such stories prominently
displayed can lead others who lead others who have thought (sic) of
suicide to do the same. Considerable research has found that such
tragic events are preceded by periods of intense mental distress, most
often diagnosable as major depression. This is far more serious than
being “despondent over his grades,” as one official – a lawyer, not a
mental health professional – speculated.

Correcting the myth that some relatively
trivial immediate event caused the death may help others in similar
shoes to get the assistance they need rather than to act on the same
impulse. — Daniel Romer

Mr. Romer is the director of the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute at the University of Pennsylvania

Desperately Seeking Spikol

Liz Spikol found an article that says Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) could have been schizo. I diagnose him as bipolar with symptoms of psychosis. Really, this many years later, what does it matter? What could we do for him now?
Also from Liz Spikol, she mentions an article that now says ECT (electroshock therapy) is possibly bad for depression. Spikol has mentioned going through ECT in the past and has complained that it has impaired her cognitive functioning and memory. Looks like she’s no longer alone.

Supposedly, the hallucenogenic in magic mushrooms can help stave off severe OCD for four hours up to a full day with reports of effects lasting up to a few days. But there’s no definitive proof since the clinical trial was only used with 9 people.

I guess ya’ll should just head on over to Spikol’s blog because I think I found the last three articles from her. Here: The Trouble With Spikol

Loose Screws Mental Health News

NAMI is touting a new atypical… in the press release for Johnson & Johnson. Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of NAMI lent a statement  in J&J’s pr about Risperdal’s sibling, Invega. *sniff, sniff* Something smells fishy about this. Makes me wonder if these non-profits bag money from Big Pharma under the table… (source: Furious Seasons)
An electronic ping sent from Sprint to the police helped save the life of a college student who tried to commit suicide, according to Newsday. A ping also helped save the lives of James Kim’s wife and children after getting stuck in the mountains of Oregon. This ping thing is interesting. Especially since Newsday needs to put quotes around it because ping isn’t a real vocabulary word… yet.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

ADDENDUM: Oooh, ooh, ooh – just found out: Any family that has a minor who may have consumed Paxil or Paxil CR is eligible for a stake in a $63.8 million settlement with GlaxoSmithKline. More info about the settlement at paxilpediatricsettlement.com. Apparently, it seems as though GSK covered up information about the medications’ safety and efficacy. This is one I’d like to learn more about considering I’ve been on Paxil. Not as a minor but the settlement raises questions  regarding GSK withholding information about Paxil’s safety and efficacy regarding adults.

Is it now fashionable to sue pharma companies for not making all of their information public?

Catching up…

After a hectic week between work and excessive blogging, I've finally caught up to the latest NYTimes articles on Eli Lilly's troubles with Zyprexa.  I also read the NYT's editorial on the issue. The last paragraph caught my eye:

"Lilly contends that it has never promoted Zyprexa for unapproved uses and has always shown its marketing materials to the Food and Drug Administration, as required by law. Both claims ought to be tested in Congressional hearings that should focus on how well the industry complies with existing laws and how effectively the F.D.A. regulates the industry’s marketing materials."

Furious Seasons and CL Psych beat me to the punch on the skepticism. Congressional hearings would do nothing and I am even more skeptical of the FDA. Pharma companies like Lilly probably slip Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach some money to get their stuff approved. But I'm merely speculating because I'm tired and haven't done more research on this at the moment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quote of the Week

"Depression is one of the few psychological disorders that can be said to be fatal. Of all the consequences, suicide is, of course, the starkest consequence of the individual’s feelings of hopelessness and debility." — Constance Hammen, Depression

Well-intentioned but not completely right

medicating the brainI read this commentary from the Philly Inquirer on mental illness and the author insists that mental illnesses are all “chemical imbalances.” While I do think many mental illnesses are the result of chemical imbalances, some mental illnesses are not physical. Some mental illnesses come from a spiritual and/or psychological battle. There are many people who recover from mental illness without medication. If a chemical imbalance was the case for these people, they would never get better. Pharma companies have sold the American public and countless mental health organizations on the idea that millions of people suffer from a “chemical imbalance.” I don’t buy that – well, come to think of it, actually, I do – my dollars contribute to Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline‘s profits.

After suffering from bipolar disorder (or depression, depending on which psychiatrist I listen to) for 10 years, my husband and I are leaning toward the “chemical imbalance” theory that many doctors and pharmaceutical companies push. But a person who is depressed over a temporary situation does NOT have a chemical imbalance and simply may need psychological counseling.

America is overmedicated, drugged-up, and the victims of the smartest ad campaigns from pharma companies. What concerns me even more is that the FDA and mental health organizations like NIMH buy into many of the pharmaceutical companies’ lies and tactics. What further concerns me are the doctors involved in clinical trials who fail to disclose their affiliations with many of these pharmaceutical companies.

So yes, chemical imbalances do exist for many people. Millions? It’s possible. But unlikely. And I could go off on another rant about how PCPs shouldn’t be prescribing psych meds, but I’ll leave that argument for another day.

Saturday Stats

"Comprising only 13 percent of the U.S. population, individuals age 65 and older accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths in 2000. Among the highest rates (when categorized by gender and race) were white men age 85 and older: 59 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2000, more than five times the national U.S. rate of 10.6 per 100,000." – National Institute of Mental Health

A Suicide Myth Elaborated

A suicide myth from a recent Seattle Post-Intelligencer article:

"Talking about suicide or asking people if they feel suicidal will not put the idea in their heads or cause them to commit suicide."

Agreed – unless the person is thinking about it or was on the fence to begin with.

Parenting instead of Ritalin

My husband's nephew is an overly active kid. I'm sure that if he went to public school teachers would classify him as suffering from ADHD and recommend that he take Ritalin. This article from the New York Times (the last in their series of covering mental illness in children) gives me hope that most children with ADD/ADHD can be helped without the assistance of a drug.

Can mental illness get you fired?

In one of my group therapy sessions, a woman was afraid to reveal to her boss that she struggled with depression after one of her co-workers was fired for revealing that she had bipolar disorder. I thought her boss was an insensitive jerk. Turns out that he’s not the only one.

God's paradoxical grace

A friend sent me this today:

"God’s grace is an amazing, terrible thing. Free but not cheap."

Whoa. That’s a concept for me to behold.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

National Mental Health Anti-Stigma

The U.S. Health Department and Ad Council are now launching ads to target mental illness stigmas. The article uses a really lame example (and unrealistic) of two young men playing a video game and one of them admits to a mental illness. And the friend is oh-so supportive. (Yeah, right.) I know it’s supposed to remove the stigma and make people more compassionate but the fact of the matter is that the ads will probably be unrealistic. A better campaign would be to have a woman at work WORKING and to have a voiceover that explains that you’d never know this woman hears voices, that she’s schizophrenic. Cut to the woman smiling and interacting with others. Voiceover again – but she’s on medication and is receiving counseling. “What would YOU do if this woman told you she had a mental illness?” Obviously, we’d have to resort to the unfortunate aspect of making the woman unbelievably attractive so all the guys could go, “No way! Not that hot chick!” and all the women could say, “No way! She’s too pretty!” Or vice versa for a successful, handsome-looking young man. You get the idea. The article adds at the very end that the Ad Council will launch a suicide prevention campaign this summer, which will be sponsored by SAMHSA.

UPDATE: The (cheesy) videos are up at http://www.whatadifference.org. You can see a spot ad and determine what to do about the situation the people face. (Be forewarned: Choosing the negative option gets you a lecture.)

First-time moms are at risk for developing mental illness like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder within the first three months of delivering a child, according to an ABCNews article. And it also delivers another shocker: postpartum depression is severely underdiagnosed. Well, well, well, well…

In really sad news, the suicide rate among NY’s ethnic women is at high risk. Young Hispanic women and elderly Asian women are cited as the highest minorities in NY who commit suicide. The article via India eNews.com says the reasons for this is because of “cultural and linguistic isolation, the stress of immigration and a shortage of psychiatric and counselling (sic) services.” Perhaps the saddest part of this is that “women who are not proficient in English do not get help ‘until symptoms reach crisis proportions.'” This article highlights the ever-increasing need to make psychiatric and counseling services available in other languages, especially Spanish, considering the boom of the Hispanic population (which , yes, includes illegal immigrants).

Medical blogs

I’m totally in love with the Furious Seasons blog and a new one Dawdy linked to: Kevin, M.D. Kevin M.D. is a PCP who blogs about the health care industry.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

At least 2.9 million people either suffer from depression, know someone who has it, or want to know more about it. According to comScore Networks, a research firm, depression in the most researched medical condition online. Straggling behind in second place is bipolar disorder with insomnia coming in at third.

Whew! Am I glad I’m off Paxil! I’d rather be alive and not in a lawsuit than dead and have my family suing for a wrongful death.

Niiiice: Target goes head-to-head with Wal-Mart and launches its own $4 generic prescription drug program.

Target

Competition between the nation’s two largest retailers is REALLY beginning to heat up… In the good news category, psych meds such as fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and paroxetine (Paxil) are part of the deal. See the full list of generics Target offers for $4. IMPORTANT FINE PRINT:

“Due to state law in CA, CO, LA, MN, MT, PA, RI, TN, WI, and WY, pricing on these drugs is higher than $4.”

Dangit – sucks for me – I now live in Pennsylvania. Lucky New Yorkers!

Who needs antidepressants and antipsychotics? One blogger’s found the cure-all for mental illness.

Olfactory nerves have more than an ability to smell. Apparently, they can be used to determine whether someone can develop a mental illness, according to Australian researchers.  Researchers at the University of Melbourne have detected a connection between mental illness and the poor ability to identify smells. Looks like a scratch-and-sniff card is only a mental illness determination away.

Simply Hating A Wonderful Christmas Time

The worst Christmas song ever.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Paul McCartney. I love Paul McCartney and Wings. I love The Beatles. But that song far outweighs anything I could ever stand. As Best Week Ever comedian Christian Finnegan put it:

"If this (isn’t) the worst song ever recorded, I’m not sure what is. . . . I fully expect that Wonderful Christmastime is what’s piped through Hell’s stereo system while Satan pierces your genitals with burning rods."

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

NYT plunges ahead with Eli Lilly story; Furious Seasons on the case

While the court is ordering the lawyer who released internal Eli Lilly docuemnts to hand them back, the New York Times is plunging ahead with more shocking revelations concerning the documents. God bless The New York Times and Alex Berenson for taking this story, running with it, and making it public. Even if the company documents become confidential, the story is out and people WILL sue in an attempt to make it public. Patients have a right to know what is affecting their bodies and why Zyprexa causes more medical complications than it helps overcome mental illness.

And God bless Furious Seasons. I don't have time to blog on it, but he does. Head over there to read his critical analysis on the whole situation.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Bush Concedes Iraq War More Difficult Than He Expected – No kidding? Well, then, it's "mission accomplished."

Liz Spikol linked to this article in which Angelina Jolie bounced out of depression by "dreaming of playing a sexy comic book character in the upcoming Sin City sequel." – Wow, that's a way to cure the blues… But not "depression."

I have more to post on but I'll do so later in the day after I've done some work. (I'm running low on sleep and not functioning at optimal level.) I've also found a Christian blog that I'd like to post some thoughts on because we see things quite differently when it comes to suicide, but I need to do some serious Biblical research before posting so nothing until after the New Year. (Whoo-hoo! Former journalist doing research again! How fun.)

Today's Mood: 6.5

Time's Person of the Year Mocks Time's Person of the Year

I admit – I bought the actual Time magazine issue and I can assure you that the reflection of Stengel’s face in the Mylar is photoshopped extremely well. Either that or I have a defective Mylar.

TIME editor

Now that I think about it… Stengel’s reflection has a big nose.

Selected 2006 Loser Person of the Year commentary:

2006 Person of the Year is Internet-addicted loser (The Spoof)

Time wussed out with a milquetoast pick” (The Bottom Line Blog)

Lamest, dopiest choices ever made by the magazine” (ShopFloor.org)

Recognizing Web 2.0 users is a fine choice (shumans.com)

Enjoy you in 2006 because you’ll be over in 2007 (USAToday/Kevin Maney)

Choice quote from USAToday Tech editor Kevin Maney’s blog:

“As the ultimate capper, Time magazine has anointed “you” as its Person of the Year in honor of user-generated stuff. This will probably stand the test of time as well as 1988’s pick, The Endangered Earth. That selection came with the prediction that the planet’s woes had “jumpstarted a new era of environmental activism.” And then the Hummer was born.

Interestingly, Time’s choice is getting mocked by bloggers — aka users. The magazine kind of shot itself in the foot. Managing Editor Rick Stengel wrote an explainer saying that he asked for public input about the Person of the Year. Suggestions flooded in for newsmakers such as Donald Rumsfeld, Al Gore and Sacha Baron Cohen. But apparently nobody suggested “you.” So in the end, Time asked us for our input like a good New Media do-bee, then played its Old Media power card and decided on its own choice — proving that users aren’t really that in charge, and thus probably not deserving of Person of the Year status.

YOU Aren’t the Person of the Year

Time's 2006 Person of the Year“We chose to put a mirror on the cover because it literally reflects the idea that you, not we, are transforming the information age.” – Time managing editor Richard Stengel

The LAMEST excuse for a person of the year. Of all the people to choose as Person of the Year, it had to be YOU. (Pun not intended.)

Time’s excuse is because YOU are the reason for the boom of the Information Age. Time cites the rise of bloggers, YouTube-ites, MySpacers, and Wikipedians as a few of the examples that represent why YOU are Person of the Year. (Yes, I will capitalize “you” for the most part throughout this post. It’s annoying, isn’t it? I think it’s annoying too but it makes the point quite well.)

YOU, in Time’s perspective, represent those who are Internet-savvy: from the 8-year-old who pretends to be 13 on MySpace to the 44-year-old predator/creepy guy on MySpace. But if you’re a senior, more than likely, you’re not a valid POTY. I’m sorry, Suri Cruise, as cute as you are, you’re too young to be a POTY because, well, you didn’t really matter like YOU did. (Do you see how ridiculous this is getting?) Time tries to convince YOU why YOU are Person of the Year.

Time fails miserably.

Read the rest of this entry »

Non-depression related but about NY

subwayHooray! The long-awaited Second Avenue subway will ACTUALLY continue development. (Every New Yorker knows how MAJOR this is. It’s like a subway to directly to South Street for us Philadelphians.)  Also in the works is a Long Island Railroad tunnel to Grand Central, cutting down on the infiltration of people who go to Penn Station only to walk or transfer by subway to head all the way to the East Side of Manhattan.  (I take this to heart as a mostly lifelong Long Islander.) {No I don’t have the accent.}

This has brightened my day – yay!

Twisted Christian Viewpoint on Mental Illness

Despite the fact that Liz Spikol is messhuggeneh, she linked to an amazing blog with a Christian perspective on depression. (I’m ashamed I didn’t find it before!) I’m pleased and excited that a Christian in the blogosphere finally has the correct approach to mental illness.


CLIFFS NOTES VERSION: Christians have a very limited understanding of depression, suicide, and other various forms of mental illness even though there are SPECIFIC examples in the Bible. Christians need to learn how to take care of those with mental illness or they may very well isolate the people they are called to love.


(The rest is a half-finished personal background. You can stop reading here if you choose to.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Loose Screws Mental Health News

More than likely, I’ll be doing short, quick updates today since I have a LOT of work to get to… you know, at work.

I found a new forum that discusses drug-related items, mainly Paxil: http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/ It uses one of my more favored layout of forum versions, vBulletin. But they have a worthwhile discussion on the whole Eli Lilly/Zyprexa thing going so it’s worth checking out.

Time's 2006 Person of the Year According to the Toronto Sun, Sienna Miller told the UK Mail that she went to a psychiatrist to deal with Jude Law cheating on her — but ended up insulting her when the psych asked a difficult question. Therapy won’t work, dear, if you don’t put any effort into it.

More later on goodies like Christians and depression (what Liz Spikol linked to) and Time‘s Person of the Year. (Okay, Time has NOTHING to with depression but it’s sooo lame it requires a post/rant.)

BTW – I’ll get to everyone’s comments soon. I’m having e-mail issues and once I get them sorted out, I’ll start responding.

Bipolar fun

I found this comic at cartoonstock.com. It seemed to really fit my discussions as of late.

Cartoon

And here’s the bipolar screening test that my psychiatrist gave me.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

VNSCyberonics has its vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) while Neurontics is attempting to promote its Neurostar. The Food and Drug Administration will consider whether Neurontics’ device will be able to compete with Cyberonics’ device on Jan. 26. The VNS, according to FDA standards, is the only device that has been proven to show efficacy in depression treatment for those who do not respond to drug treatment. While the VNS is surgically implanted in the chest and stimulates nerves in the neck to alleviate depression, Neurontics claims that Neurostar is not surgically implanted and uses magnetic pulses over the course of three to six weeks to stimulate a patient’s brain.

In the most shocking news ever, the Australian Mental Health Council has found that marijuana can induce mental illness. [sarcasm] Former Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer has noted three significant conclusions from the MHC report: Cannabis use can:

  • increase the risk of mental illness in young adults, namely with those who have a family history of psychosis
  • make any current mental illness worse
  • induce poor education and employment outcomes

This report once again reminds us, kids, that we must always say no to drugs. Especially if you’re mentally ill.

Girl, InterruptedAn article from the UK Guardian points out that Hollywood’s depiction of mental illness is NOT what people experience on a normal basis. Tim Lott states the reality of mental illness quite well:

“Genuinely accurate depictions of mental illness are still rare in all the art forms. Why? For the very good reason that real mental illness is boring. Depressives are toxic and dull. Manic depressives are irritating. People with schizophrenia or autism are largely indecipherable.”

Just in case you didn’t know, depression can be a problem during the holidays. Oh and p.s. from the article: those who abuse anti-depressants are more likely to commit suicide. You know… just in case you were wondering. Amy Alkon at the Advice Goddess Blog rightly shoots down the holiday-suicide increase myth.

NBC5 in Chicago has reported that “brain music” can help fight depression. Brain waves are recorded through an EEG (electroencephalogram) and then the recordings are turned into a music CD containing two files. According to Dr. Galina Mindlin, who introduced the therapy to the U.S. from Russia, says one file helps a patient relax and the other file helps increase “concentration, performance and productivity.” Mindlin adds that the “relax” music helps decrease anxiety levels in a patient and helps the patient fall asleep and stay asleep. The treatment, according to NBC5, has been used in Europe for the past 15 years, but is not widely available in the U.S. BUT if you’re itching to try it, you’d better have some dough in your pocket: it’s not covered by insurance and costs $550.

PCPs Don't Know Jack From Zyprexa

Eli Lilly’s actions continue to be appalling.

LillyApart from trying to hide the fact that Zyprexa induces weight gain, diabetes, and hyperglycemia, they also had sales reps encourage primary care physicians to prescribe Zyprexa for patients who did not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (basically off-label usage).

It seems that Lilly told marketing reps to suggest Zyprexa for dementia in the elderly. Lilly denies this, of course, since olanzapine (Zyprexa’s generic name) is not approved for that kind of use since it increases the risk of death in seniors with psychosis associated with dementia. Lilly also attempted to market olanzapine to patients with mild bipolar disorder who suffer mainly from depression. (In actuality, Zyprexa is approved to treat those who suffer from mania.)

This issue with Eli Lilly delves into precisely why I am against PCPs prescribing psychiatric medicines. Primary care physicians don’t know enough about the various psychiatric conditions to prescribe the appropriate kind of medication. This type of prescription should be left to specialists like psychiatrists. PCPs should focus on the things they deal with on a daily basis that no one else can take care of: the common cold, the flu, annual physical, etc. It should be the job of the PCP to refer a patient to a psychiatrist should they present symptoms of mental illness (depression, schizophrenia, etc.). I have been burned by having a PCP prescribe antidepressants for me and as a result, attributed my horrible experience with drugs to that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Canada.com reports that a Canadian mental health survey found that more than 75 percent of people diagnosed with clinical anxiety or depression experience a severe relapse during the winter months, namely December and January.

“Among the symptoms those people reported, more than half said they experienced ‘feelings of worthlessness,’ ‘inappropriate guilt’ and difficulty thinking or concentrating during the winter holiday season.”

The survey also found that decreased daylight hours and increased debt during the holiday season contribute to stress among those with chronic mental illness. At least the article didn’t say there was a spike in suicides…

Lorraine BraccoLorraine Bracco, known as Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos, has written a book about her struggle with clinical depression. She notes the difference between how she functioned before her depression hit and after. She cites Zoloft as the antidepressant that helped her overcome the hump and a mental realization that she needed to get help. She no longer uses antidepressants but she feels that the antidepressant got her to a place where she could find herself again, “I found my joie de vivre, my spirit, my voice.”

And finally, it’s time to be pissed off at Eli Lilly. Documents obtained by a mental health lawyer, given to The New York Times, show that Lilly execs tried to downplay the risk of obesity and hyperglycemia in Zyprexa. The two side effects can lead to a significantly increased risk for diabetes. Lilly material even included statements to sales reps telling them to downplay those risks when pitching the atypical antipsychotic to doctors. Zyprexa, Lilly’s best-selling drug, has been sold to 2 million people and has raked in $4.2 billion worldwide. The drug is primarily prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Of course, Lilly execs, aware that the side effects would keep patients away from the drug, downplayed the risks and even went so far as to say, “There is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.”

Lawsuits speaks differently, however. Lilly has agreed to pay $750 million to 8,000 people who claim that Zyprexa has caused them to develop diabetes or other medical problems. According to the Times, “thousands more suits against the company are pending.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Identification

I identify with Dawdy’s article on a variety of grounds and many of his words have me thinking.

“Mostly, the suicidal show no clues that they are on dangerous ground.”

This is true for me only with people I don’t know. When people at work, friends, or family see me, they think that all is right in my world. I’m the type of person who keeps a pleasant expression fixed on her face and in general, has a bubbly, cheery attitude. (Co-workers, acquaintances, and casual friends would never know how negative and pessimistic I am.) If people found out that I struggled with depression to the extent of attempting suicide on 10 different occasions, they’d all be shocked because it doesn’t seem to jive with my “personality.”

People who really know me — those closest to me — know that when I’m suicidal, it’s extremely hard for me to not show. I withdraw from social contact, refuse to make eye contact, become extremely quiet or reply with a succession of short, one-word answers to questions, or corner myself in a seat or in bed with my head hanging down, eyes spacing off into somewhere. Those who know me should and can know when I’m suicidal. It becomes so obvious that I don’t need to say anything. I usually don’t tell anyone, but my body language speaks volumes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quote of the Week

"My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love." — Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

83-year-old man plunges to his death

An 83-year-old man in India committed suicide after reportedly telling his family that he was tired of dealing with his medical illnesses and "wanted to get it all over with." Babulal Shah suffered from severe depression stemming from failing eyesight, failing kidneys, and diabetes. Shah did not leave a suicide note and Indian police are treating it as an accidental death.

As an aside, I’ve noticed that Indian and Australian news are much more willing to report suicides of citizens much more readily than American news. Trolling through Google News with the search term "suicide" returns many reports of Indian farmers committing suicide over failing crops and money problems (aside from the suicide bombings occuring in the Middle East and Afghanistan). It’s interesting to see the difference among Indian, Australian, and American societies and why reporting suicides of normal people doesn’t induce copycat stories unlike America.

The Suicide Matrix

"There are three kinds of people in the suicide matrix: those who succeed, those who try it and live, and those who are hounded by suicidal thoughts—ideators, as they are known in the literature." — Philip Dawdy, "One Suicide Too Many," the Seattle Weekly

I'm both a suicide survivor and an ideator. I've tried overdosing on pills many times to no avail. I've also tried jumping out of cars. Each time, the driver has caught me before I could roll out into the street. Most of my other "attempts" have been strong ideations: drinking Windex, stabbing myself, shooting myself in the head, driving my car into a wall, jumping in front of a train, jumping off a high building — TO NAME A FEW.

I'm not proud of it; the list could go on and on. I identify with Dawdy's words in his SW article:

"In each case, there was little warning. One minute I'd be muddling through a weeks-long depression—wound up, angry, and lethargic all at once—and the next I'd be on the lethal precipice."

I can't really remember planning any suicides. I don't plan suicide attempts; the ideations hit me as an impulse. I become obsessed with the thought and I can't distract my mind. It's like a train headed full speed into a wall with no reverse gear.


This is me when I am suicidal.


My Latest Obsession
My latest obsession has been shooting myself in the head with a gun despite Dawdy's stat that "It is uncommon for women to kill themselves with a gun." I've never had access to a gun but if I did, I'd be dead by now. The act of pulling a trigger is final. So much more so than any act of suicide. A person can survive a stabbing, a jump, overdosing, or self-designed accidents. But once a person sticks a gun inside the mouth and pulls the trigger… it's difficult to miss. Survival isn’t impossible but not likely.

Read the rest of this entry »

Malachi the Martyr – Shifting the focus to Iraq

Malachi RitscherA few weeks ago, I wrote about Malachi Ritscher who immolated himself on the side of expressway in Chicago. I made this assessment:

“Only time will tell whether the blogosphere takes his self-immolating act and runs with it on the heels of ‘martyrdom.'”

I wasn’t off-base. Ritscher lit himself on fire on Friday, November 3. By Friday, November 10, Jennifer Diaz of Chicago set up a site called I heard you, Malachi in honor of his self-immolating act to bring attention to the war in Iraq.

The Pagan Science Monitor has a discussion going on about “Was Malachi Ritscher crazy?” It also had previous discussions on “A martyr for peace: Malachi Ritscher.” Much of the argument seems to be that Ritscher’s act shouldn’t bring attention to mental illness but should, rather, focus on that which he intended for it to do: shift attention to the injustice of the war in Iraq. While I understand that what he did was a symbolic gesture, it has left the few of us who got wind of the story scratching our heads, wondering, “What in the … ?!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Sensitivity: Beyoncé Knowles

BeyoncéBeyonce has recently spoken out about her past “depression.” It was back in 2000, when two of her bandmates quit Destiny’s Child, sued her father for mismanagement, and to top it off, her boyfriend of 4-5 years broke up with her.

It annoys me when people go through a rough period and the media call it a “depression.” It is possible for someone to be down and discouraged during a rough period but to be depressed is clinical – it is ongoing for life. Beyonce was not depressed; she was going through a rough patch in her life that eventually smoothed out. She never needed psychiatric treatment, counseling or medication. She was fine then and she’s fine now.

I hate how the media is turning mental illness into the latest fashionable fallibility of celebrities.

Celebrity Sensitivity

Shelley LongCheers star Shelley Long has checked into a psych hospital after an ongoing bout with depression. Her latest trigger? Her husband filed for divorce after 22 years. No doubt, that’d be enough to put me in a psych hospital.

Actress Emma Thompson has admitted to struggling with depression as well. The Daily Mail reports that “due in part to her attempts to have children, she has been left so depressed that she could not wash herself or change clothes.” According the playfuls.com article, “Thompson told the newspaper that she has found an effective way to balance herself emotionally.” I wish she would have elaborated what that effective way was to enlighten the rest of us.

In shocking celebrity news – get the idea when I say “shocking,” I’m being sarcastic – Britney Spears has been rumored to be popping psych meds for fun. She has been seen popping Xanax and Paxil. To top it off, she’s also been seen drinking after taking the pills. Anybody with a brain knows that mixing alcohol with an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication is a no-no. But we never said Britney had a brain, did we?

In more upbeat and better celeb news, Patty Duke is being honored for her efforts for bringing more awareness to mental illness. Patty Duke’s struggle with mental illness first came to my attention when my psychiatrist recommended that I obtain her autobiography that deals specifically with mental illness, A Brilliant Madness. I haven’t read it yet, but once I do, I’ll be sure to post a review.

Remember those “No Fear” T-shirts that were EVERYWHERE in the 1990s? Well, the creator, Marty Moates has apparently committed suicide. Like what I struggle with, I wish his fearlessness had kept him alive instead of bringing him to death.

Andre WatersFinally, in another sad story, Andre Waters, who killed himself last month, actually DID struggle with depression. Family and acquaintances cite a tough child custody battle and his inability to break into the NFL as a coach as a few of the reasons that led him to battle with a severe depression. In outpatient treatment, I knew of a woman who was going through a tough child custody battle with her ex and felt like she had no hope of obtaining custody if she didn’t have a good lawyer. Child custody battles can be some of the most emotionally draining and depressing experiences in a person’s life. It’s sad that the justice system is more based on who has the best lawyer instead of who is more capable of taking better care of the children.

Saturday Stats

"Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. In 2001, 3,971 suicides were reported in this group."  – National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Bane Of My Existence

Suicide stuck in my mind after I watched a health video on mental illness in school. I don’t remember how old I was — I could have been 11 or 13. I vaguely remember the video but distinctly remembering my brain going, “Ding! Ding! Ding! That’s what you should do to deal with your troubles!” Suicide has since been the bane of my existence.

“[Radio host Cynthia] Doyon’s suicide was reported in both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times. Neither newspaper has tackled suicide as an issue. …In 2002, a New York Times editor had a breakdown in the newsroom and jumped, 15 floors, in front of colleagues. Not one article about suicide as a public-health problem appeared in the Times… In 2000, a Times reporter jumped to his death from a bridge in New York. Again, silence from the nation’s most influential paper on the subject of suicide.”Philip Dawdy, “One Suicide Too Many,” the Seattle Weekly

Is it really that editors don’t want to tackle suicide as an issue or is it more that they are simply afraid of it? Is this one area of mental health issues that has become increasingly taboo even though statistics continue to show that it is a deadly killer, more so than AIDS or homicide?

« Older entries