Jane and Marie are who I want to be

I do my best to try and avoid being whiny on this blog, but I’ll give in to the temptation just this once.

There’s a girl I work with who dislikes me for no apparent reason. This girl – we’ll call her Jane – and I got along well when I initially joined the organization and now, for whatever reason, has become cold and distant. I could get all Isaiah Washington and play the race card, but I won’t go there. (I’m not like that. My husband’s white!)

Despite the fact that I really shouldn’t care what Jane thinks of me, I do. I honest to God do. It’s Saturday morning and I’m obsessing over the fact that Jane doesn’t like me. Jane doesn’t give a crap about me right now and here I am, at home, on the weekend, flipping out about how some chick at work doesn’t like me. I know, I’m crazy.

Continue reading “Jane and Marie are who I want to be”

Physical methods to beat stress

I received outpatient treatment for my "depression" in late September and late October/early November. I've gotten a ton of "ways to beat stress" things thrown my way and in digging through my e-mail (yes, I finally got to an e-mail from November – shocker!), I found the following. They're all pretty practical, but I laugh my butt off at the last one. (Apologies to those who still sleep with a stuffed animal.)

Physical methods to beat stress
There are over 101 ways to beat stress. These are just a few

1)      Ten breaths to peace sitting or standing slow deep breaths
2)      Giant yawn
3)      Aerobics
4)      Shoveling snow, mowing the lawn
5)      Walking
6)      Exercise
7)      People watching
8)      Dancing
9)      Cuddling with small children, or spouse
10)  Sewing or knitting, crocheting, embroidering, or any craft
11)  Go to a park
12)  Hot bath (bubble bath)
13)  Small planet on a dark night finds a place to look at the stars
14)  Counting from 99 to 1
15)  Speaking of, singing it  is therapeutic
16)  Journaling
17)   Cup of herbal  tea
18)  Steam bath
19)  Making things
20)  Gardening
21)  On tour of an old public library in your town
22)  Telephone  call a friend or relative
23)  Movie party  call several friends let  another friend organize the rides and popcorn
24)  Writing write your life history in the third person
25)  Write a letter to an old friend
26)  Bird watching   in the woods, park, or near water and watch birds
27)  Beat stress with animals  groom your dog or cat
28)  Wheels get on your bike and go or a ride
29)  Pucker up get yourself some bubble mix and blow some bubbles
30)  The way to their heart  bake some cookies for someone shut in, sick or grieving
31)  Visit a homeless shelter take them old magazines or books
32)  .Just one more, please  go out with a camera and take pictures of places or scenery
33)  Swing go to a park get on the swings
34)  Play  games with  children
35)  Clean someone else’s house
36)  Golf
37)  Tie-dye shirts do them for your whole family
38)  Go for a long drive in the country
39)  Read to a child, spouse, or elderly person
40)   Hug a stuff animal

Enjoy all that fun stuff.

Christian stigma surrounding mental illness

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know that my dad suffered from schizophrenia. As a result, in late 1998, my father stopped attending work (and by default, was considered abandoning his job after not calling in sick for three days). His illness was so severe that he wasn’t able to work. However, he heavily became involved in our Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church.

Quick background before I continue: One of the main sticking points from IFB beliefs is salvation by faith. (Romans 10:9-10) Basically, all you do is believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God and that he was crucified, died, and rose again. The emphasis here is on BELIEVING. (There’s a reason I’m saying this other than sounding like I’m proselytizing.) The more I became involved in the church, the more I found it was salvation by works (works-based salvation). The problem? IFBers weren’t practicing what they were preaching.

Back to the story: The church was in the middle of a building program and the pastor – we’ll call him Pastor B – heavily called on his members to help out during their free time. My father was so dedicated – he was severely mentally ill now – that he rode my bike for 10 MILES in the RAIN to help put up sheetrock. Then a Sunday or two later, Pastor B tells me, "You know, your dad should really be working. The Bible says that a man who doesn’t work doesn’t eat. You know what I think? I don’t think he was ever saved to begin with."

Talk about judgment. I was shocked beyond belief to hear my pastor tell me that he thought my father wasn’t a born-again Christian. The Bible also says God doesn’t look on the outside appearance, but looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Pastor B took advantage of my father’s dedication, but judged him as “unsaved” because he wasn’t working. IFBers don’t believe in "losing" salvation, which means that you fall out of favor with God and won’t go to heaven unless you do something to correct it. They view losing salvation as works-based, which – as I said before – is contrary to their beliefs.

My uncle, who really means well, encourages me to keep praying, trusting, and believing God as if my depression/bipolar is a result of a lack of faith on my part. (While all those things are well and good, it’s like expecting my Lamictal to just make everything all better.) Funny thing, I go to Christian counseling and my counselor – who reads this blog – Hi, C! – has flat out told me that Christianity is not a cure-all for depression. (Or maybe it was my current pastor. I can’t keep track these days.) I became a Christian, hoping to save myself from depression and suicidal thoughts. I wasn’t “delivered” like some people are, but in the midst of these trials, my faith has given me a reason to keep going. For me, it helps to feel like I’m alive for something bigger than myself. Atheists call religion a crutch. It’s a pretty bad analogy. Crutches serve an important purpose: to allow healing. If my “crutch” paves the path for me to heal in more ways than just my depression, then I’ll be happy to have something to lean on for the rest of my life.

Many Christians who suffer from mental illness face similar situations. I read this article on Today’s Christian Woman from 2004 and it seems like the woman in the article had a ton of support from those around her. It sounds like she didn’t run into very many problems at her church either. I feel confident in saying her case is a rarity. Christians who suffer from any kind of mental illness are "demon-possessed, " "don’t read the Bible enough," "don’t pray enough," "don’t believe enough," "aren’t saved enough," yadda yadda yada. There’s every excuse out there to make those who are mentally ill feel subhuman.

I hate to say this, but those who aren’t religious tend to be more compassionate toward those with mental illness. It’s interesting that the religion that teaches “judge not and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1) is one of the most judgmental religions of all.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Chris Benoit

Chris BenoitMany of you have probably heard about WWE wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder-suicide. If this is news to you, here’s the skinny:

CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Wednesday that it may never be known whether the deaths were linked to steroids or so-called “roid-rage.”

“The drugs said to be found in the home are a synthetic form of testosterone,” Gupta said. “A lot of people use it to build muscle mass, but there are longstanding known relationships between the steroids and roid rage. It could lead to psychosis and anti-social behavior and depression.”

Investigators found the bodies of Nancy and Daniel Benoit with Bibles placed next to them, authorities have said. “The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage,” said the WWE.

Former professional wrestler Del Wilkes said athletes use steroids to gain strength and size, which are key to success in the wrestling world. But he warned that the drugs sometimes come with “moments of uncontrollable rage.”

“You can feel it coming on but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Wilkes said. “The next thing you know, a minor argument has gone into a full-fledged rage, when you’ve got your hands around somebody’s neck. You’re in a fight and doing things you wouldn’t normally do.”

Wilkes also said the drugs can also cause “tremendous” depression “when guys are coming off steroids after they’ve been on it for a long period of time.”

Interesting. In reading tons of articles on this story, as of two weeks ago, Benoit’s tests for steroid use came in negative. Toxicology tests could take up to two weeks to be conclusive.

I find this murder-suicide to be incredibly bizarre. Not that murder-suicides are rare (unfortunately), but Benoit made this “event” – for lack of a better term – incredibly dramatic. It’s possible that he placed Bibles next to each of the bodies in a show of religion – probably hoping that God would redeem each individual soul in the house. I tried to go on this weird explanation to my husband that Benoit was trying to draw parallels between Jesus’ death over the course of three days and that Benoit did the same thing, but looking back now, I guess it’s a stretch.

Regardless, this situation prompts further investigation as to why Benoit would have done such a thing. Perhaps he did suffer from ‘roid rage. Or maybe there are deeper issues that haven’t surfaced yet. Since the authorities found all the bodies Wednesday, details will probably continue to unravel during the next few weeks.

I hate to bring in the mental health issue up in this discussion, but I can’t imagine Benoit was in a healthy state of mind in the weeks leading up to the murders. What occurred in the house wasn’t a random decision – it was well-planned and well-thought out.

From what I’ve gathered, other WWE wrestlers say that Benoit was very quiet and private about his family life. News reports say that in 2003, his wife Nancy filed for divorce and get a restraining order on him. In the filing, she mentioned she suffered from domestic abuse. Was the violent man on stage really that violent at home as well?

As far as I know, there’s no DSM classification for violent or “anger problem.” The closest thing anyone would get is psychosis, I would think. And even then, most psychotics are harmless. (I’m not talking about the informal term “psycho,” used to refer to someone who committed a heinous crime. OK, maybe he was informally psycho.)

I’m going to assume here that Benoit had serious marital problems with a really bad temper. Nancy was going to file for divorce again and probably threatened to take full custody of their 7-year-old son. Benoit probably thought to himself, No way is she leaving me and taking my son away from me. We’re here together til’ death do us part. He probably didn’t want his son to live with the shame of having a father who killed his mother and/or himself so he murdered him too. Regardless, I’ll never understand how anyone could harm a child.

Benoit’s fans and fellow wrestlers have lost an incredible amount of respect for him now and rightly so. (Not that it matters since he’s dead and doesn’t have to contend with that.) Instead of dying as a WWE legend, his memory will be tarnished because of his crime.

NICS the anti-depressants

In my Google alerts, I came upon a link to The Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology. John Horgan, a professor on the blog, received an e-mail from a former student commenting on the future of anti-depressant therapy:

Introducing “pharmacogenomics,” the latest and greatest addition to the ever-growing collection of pseudoscientific portmanteaus. According to a recent article in the New York Times written by Richard A. Friedman, M.D., there will soon be psychological medication that is custom-tailored to a patient’s DNA and genetic structure to ensure maximum effectiveness.

He makes his case with an example: his patient Laura. Laura was depressed, so Friedman gave her Lexapro, a common selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressant. But Laura was still depressed, so he switched her to Zoloft, another SSRI. Still depressed, Laura switched to Wellbutrin, a non-SSRI anti-depressant. No dice. Dr. Friedman was frustrated; after three months he still couldn’t find an effective treatment for Laura. Then, Laura decided that since Prozac (also an SSRI) had helped her father with depression, she wanted to give it a shot. And voila, it worked!

If only Laura’s genes were able to reveal that Dr. Friedman should have prescribed Prozac, arguably the most well-known anti-depressant in America, from the very beginning, that would have saved a lot of hard, aggravating diagnosis work on everybody’s part.

But wait! There might be salvation on the horizon; according to Friedman it will soon be possible for doctors to analyze a patient’s unique genetic profile and prescribe the appropriate medicine so that time and money would no longer be wasted on the circuitous trial-and-error process of expert diagnoses.

No, what “melted away” Laura’s depression was good, old fashioned SSRI Prozac. But Friedman doesn’t see the contradiction. Instead, he claims that this new process of genetic-based medical treatments, “pharmacogenomics” will revolutionize the medicine, allow doctors to enhance their already astute diagnosing skills, and reduce the pharmaceutical industry to a withering dinosaur.

But what about Laura? What about the Prozac? Could it be that she was genetically predisposed to a specific brand of medicine? Are we all designed to respond to one drug label instead of another? If indeed that’s the case, there is only one logical conclusion to draw: God exists and He’s a Big Pharma shareholder.

Somehow, I’m not so convinced. — Suhas Sreedhar

I'm with Suhas. I skimmed Dr. Friedman's article and the whole process sounds weird. I think Laura probably – haha – psyched herself into thinking that Prozac would work since it worked for her dad.

While genes play a role in generational and familial health, I'm not completely convinced that psych meds would affect a father in the same way as it would affect his son or daughter across the board. Even if it really did work for Laura, I am skeptical that the method could be applied to any psychiatric patient. If a patient doesn't have any family, there we go with trial-and-error. Or we could just search our future FBI DNA mental health database and see if the patient matches up with anyone currently on meds.

Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called upon the remaining 27 states who don't report mental health files to the  NICS to do so. (That was an awful sentence.)

Speaking during a meeting of the nation's state attorneys general, Gonzales urged [states] to participate in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, more popularly known as "NICS."

Then the article (linked to above) jumped to protecting the public from sex offenders:.

Gonzales also called for ideas on how to protect the public from convicted sex offenders.

Mental health experts, however, say Gonzales is overreacting. Sex offenders are less likely to repeat the same type of crime than other criminals, only about 13 percent within the first five years, said Dr. James Stark, former president of the Georgia Psychological Association.

"The whole country is in a predator panic. They've gone crazy," said Stark, who treats sexual disorders at the Marietta and Ellijay clinics of Psychological Forensic Associates.

"There are very few sex offenders who are actually dangerous," he said, adding that most of the 13,000 people on Georgia's registry of sex offenders are there for flashing, being a peeping Tom or having consensual sex with an underage girlfriend.

Maybe I'm overreacting. If a sex offender isn't dangerous, why is he or she a sex offender to begin with? Yup, peeping Toms don't ever turn into psychos. On that matter, try watching Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Psycho. (Please don't watch the remake. You'll be better off for it.)

TAC: Totally Avoiding Common sense

Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons has a post on the TAC’s latest annoying post. If it’s annoying, why am I mentioning it? Because I like to bitch and whine, of course.

On the topic of the Cho incident:

The anti-psychiatry crowd tried to use the Virginia Tech case to paint the frightening image that psychiatric medications caused Seung-Hui Cho to go on a murderous rampage. In an unsigned letter, one group issued a demand for the toxicology report under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, threatening legal action.

Last week, the results of toxicology tests were released. But, the fearmongers won’t be pleased. The state medical examiner’s office found no trace of prescription drugs or toxic substances in Cho’s body.

In this day and age, it is hard to believe that there are still people who deny the existence of severe mental illnesses and point to everything but untreated psychotic symptoms as the cause of harmful behaviors. But, the research shows that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are diseases of the brain. And as most people suspected, it was Cho’s untreated symptoms that caused so much devastation.

I’m really confused here. The TAC is the group that’s known for advocating family members (or something) gaining complete control over a mentally ill person – giving them the opportunity to have that person committed. From what I understand, it sounds like the TAC wants to do that even if the mentally ill person doesn’t have a psychiatric advance directive.

The TAC seems to mock the fact that the "anti-psychiatry" crowd who said Cho was on some heavy meds when he went on his rampage. TAC’s "nah-nanny-boo-boo" comes at the end when they gloat about how Cho’s rampage was the result of an untreated mental illness.

I was never completely convinced Cho was on meds. Perhaps an antidepressant but I didn’t think antipsychotics or drugs that heavy. (Pass the ‘quell!) Nevertheless, I reject the TAC’s argument that if Cho were on meds, the VTech massacre could have been prevented. See my post from yesterday on Christopher Pittman who killed his grandparents and burned their house down while taking 200 mg (an adult dosage) of Zoloft. It’s completely possible that Cho had a mental illness that went untreated. But I think it’s time that people finally just admit that Cho was responsible for his actions with or without meds. If I go out and shoot a cop, I can appeal that the bipolar disorder made me do it, but regardless, I’m the one who did it. I’m responsible for my actions for shooting a cop, bipolar disorder or not. (Philadelphians: Resist the temptation to insert Mumia Abu-Jamal joke here.)

There are still a lot of fuzzy things surrounding Cho’s mental health and his motivation behind the shootings, but I have a feeling there will be many more questions and very few answers.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Let’s start off small and build up, shall we?

A blog I came upon, Providentia, has a post on the suicide rate in Kentucky over a 10-year period. Male schizophrenics have the highest rate of suicide. The leading methods of suicide in the state are firearm use, overdose, and hanging.

Mary WinklerMary Winkler, the preacher’s wife who killed her husband, has been moved from jail to a mental health facility, where she will serve the remainder of her three-year sentence.

East meadow, a poster on the drugs.com message board, asks about Lexapro’s correlation to suicide. Her sister committed suicide while on Lexapro and questions whether the Lexapro might have affected her in that way. As a former Lexapro user, I can empathize with the change in her sister’s behavior.

The Depression Calculator: see how much depression is costing your company and see if treatment is worth your while. I went through it for kicks and basically, I walked away feeling like it cost too much to hire someone with depression, especially if I were running a small business. Blah.

Apparently, bipolar disorder is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Starbucks is settling an $85,000 lawsuit with Christine Drake, a former Starbucks employee who suffers from bipolar disorder. It seems that Drake’s first manager was willing to work with her “psychiatric impairment” and allow her to gain “extra training and support.” Then, get this:

“But, during her third year, new management told her she was “not Starbucks material,” refused to continue the accommodation and ultimately fired her for discriminatory reasons, the agency alleged.”

Starbucks probably put up one helluva fight, but in the end, they’ve tried to put a good face and good spin on the situation:

Starbucks agreed to pay Drake $75,000 and donate another $10,000 to the Disability Rights Legal Center, which provides legal representation for low-income people with disabilities facing discrimination, as part of the settlement.

“The facts of this case illustrate how relatively minor accommodations are often all that disabled people need to be productive members of the work force,” said the EEOC’s San Francisco district office director, Joan Ehrlich. “It is important that all of Starbucks’ managers understand their legal duties regarding disabled employees and provide them with the tools necessary to succeed. This is in everyone’s best interest.”

Ms. Drake, who seems to be more than capable of handling a job well, has probably eeked out several years of a barista’s salary from the Starbucks suit.

I’m amused, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.

RisperdalJohnson & Johnson is gearing up to put Risperdal for children on the market. I’m sure other blogs have beat me to the punch on this, but I just came across this info and found it absolutely retarded. (But what do drug companies care?)

The FDA has approved “expanded use” for Risperdal in teenagers who suffer from schizophrenia and the short-term treatment of bipolar mania in kids ages 10-17. I’m leery enough about antidepressants in kids let alone antipsychotics.

“J&J said the agency has not requested the company perform any additional studies, implying that it need only agree with the FDA on acceptable labeling for the expanded uses in order to gain final approval.”

I wasn’t sure what “expanded use” was so I looked it up. This was the best I could come up with:

“Applications for a new or expanded use, often representing important new treatment options, are formally called “efficacy supplements” to the original new drug application.”

Well, I didn’t know what efficacy supplements were so I looked that up too:

“The legislative history indicates that this provision was directed at certain types of efficacy supplements (i.e., supplemental applications proposing to add a new use of an approved drug to the product labeling).”

So – correct me if I’m wrong – it sounds like the studies performed that led up to this “expanded use” are not as rigorously evaluated by the FDA as the initial studies that allowed the drug to be released on the market in the first place. It just seems like a company and the FDA simply need to agree on “acceptable labeling.” So if we’re following the theory that I’m still correct, the FDA doesn’t follow up on the clinical trials performed on these children, they just agree with J&J on the “acceptable labeling.” Doesn’t that thought make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside about your health?

Christopher PittmanOn the subject of children and psychotropic medications, 12-year-old Christopher Pittman shot and killed his grandparents and then set their house on fire in November 2001 all while on an adult dosage of Zoloft. It looks like the drama is still playing out in June 2007.

According to CourtTV.com, Pittman suffered from hallucinations while on the 200 mg dose and while in jail, displayed symptoms of mania.

“Three years after the killings, Pittman was tried in adult court and convicted of murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was then 15 years of age.”

No doubt Pittman should be held responsible for what occurred, especially if he admitted to the killings (which he did). However, the situation raises a few questions. First of all, why was he on 200 mg of Zoloft when he was TWELVE? Why wasn’t he considered mentally ill and placed in a mental health facility? I could go on and on. While Pittman “did the crime and needs to do the time,” why isn’t the doctor who prescribed this not present in any of the reported stories? If this incident was 2001, it can only be worse for antidepressants and other psych meds today.

John Travolta: Psychotropic meds are the source of all evil!

I saw an article somewhere that John Travolta thinks the same way about psychiatry as Tom Cruise. Have your hubby fill you in on that and write about it in one of your celebrity posts. 🙂 ~ Stephany

He did and so I shall.

John TravoltaIt seems that Scientology has a big to-do about hating psychiatric assistance. If you don’t know about Tom Cruise’s opinion, you’ve been living under a rock for way too long. Now, John Travolta has jumped on the bandwagon saying:

I still think that if you analyse most of the school shootings, it is not gun control. It is psychotropic drugs at the bottom of it.

So yeah, I’ve stopped following the Cho thing, but I don’t believe he was on any psychotropic medication. Hence, Travolta’s assessment (or assumption or whatever) is invalid. And really, where would he get such a fallacy? Doesn’t he know that antidepressants are the true source for school shootings?