All Things Must Pass

It’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
— All Things Must Pass, The Beatles —

I haven’t had a desire to do much of anything lately but somehow I got the energy (and fortune) to figure out how to get my original blog design back. I prefer the format since it’s wider even if the beige gets kind of drab. I also reorganized the blog categories. I’ve become a bit of an organizational freak in the past couple of years. I’m a child of the Real Simple era, I suppose.

I have a whole post just kind of brewing in my mind and it has been for the past two weeks. I’m just taking a bit of a break and trying to figure out which direction I want to take this blog now. I’ve talked about suicide, thought about suicide, and attempted suicide but never remotely encountered anyone who’s actually done it. Now it’s hit my family, and I’m still figuring out what it means to me, my husband, and his family. We have a counseling session tomorrow night so I’m sure we’ll talk more about it then.

In the meantime, work at the ad agency has either been completed (pushed out the door) or is currently in the planning stages, which means I don’t need to go in tomorrow but am tentatively scheduled for Thursday. I have a lot of errands to run tomorrow and have been avoiding checking my e-mail like the plague. I’ll suck up the courage to look at it sometime soon.

 

Also, I gave my husband Bob Thompson guest author privileges. He’s currently deciding on whether to make a blog post on his grandfather’s suicide and its repercussions in the future. He might or might not. My husband’s not particularly fond of writing but it’s just a heads-up.

In the meantime, be well.

P.S. I’ve been on a Beatles trip lately so I’m probably going to be quoting apt Beatles lyrics for a lot of my future posts.

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Testing

This is a test

Quote of the Week

"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win." — Jonathan Kozo

Quote of the Week

"Action is the antidote to despair." — Joan Baez

How does it feel?

My husband’s 77-year-old grandfather killed himself yesterday. The day after his birthday

He left no note.

I’d be stupid if I didn’t take something away from this.

Quote of the Week

“…occasionally I wished I could walk through a picture window and
have the sharp, broken shards slash me to ribbons so I would finally
look like I felt.” — Elizabeth Wurtzel

A Hard Day's Night

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles —

I’ve been incredibly busy with work (working 2 weekends in a row, really) and haven’t had much energy to blog. I’ve been trying to relax lately but my mind is so tired from proofreading (on-site) for 7-8 hours that thinking beyond that is too much. Since the FT editor is still recovering from her car crash, I’ve been taking up most of her duties, including major projects like reviewing ENTIRE websites – so far, I’ve looked at three or four different ones, an online training module, and a brand new online survey. My brain is beginning to turn to mush. A few people at the company have told me that I’m doing really good work so that’s a blessing. I’ve basically stepped into the role full-time with Wednesdays off for Bible Study and counseling. While I enjoy what I do, I’m looking forward to having my normal two days off per week so I can clear my mind, blog, and hopefully get this freelance writing thing started. If I’m bringing work home with me on the weekends, that doesn’t leave me much time for writing. While the money is good, I don’t need to be stressed. I left my last job for that very reason.

Speaking of my last job, I got a callback for an interview and cancelled it after thinking about it and praying about it. I decided that I was much happier with my current job even if I have to deal with the nuisance of filing a 1099 and not having the convenience of a W-2. I also hate invoicing. But I just need to remind myself that it’s a minor inconvenience compared to doing what I love to do. While I’m disappointed that I don’t get to edit (I love tearing written pieces up to make them better, including my own), I’m thinking of putting an ad out an Craigslist and seeing if anyone responds to it. Craigslist always freaks me out because I never know whether the person on the other end is trustworthy or not. But then again, 2008 is my year of taking risks, right?

This post was longer than I’d intended. I don’t think I’ll be posting regularly again until I’m back to a part-time position. Business is busy and hectic enough as it is. I hope I’m holding my own.

Quote of the Week

When life goes to pieces, make a quilt. — Sue Hughes

It's been a crazy week

And I’m tired.

Anonymity

anonymous When it comes to blogging about mental illness, that’s something that I don’t want my name connected with. Sure, I’d like stigma surrounding the illness to be reduced but it still exists and I don’t want it to affect my chances of working at a decent company that would hire me if not for my bipolar disorder and history of depression and suicide attempts. I think of some mental health bloggers — Liz Spikol especially comes to mind — who are brave enough to post their struggles
with their real names and pictures for everyone to know and see. And I’m jealous.

Jealous that while Liz still probably suffers from MH stigma from idiots, she has the opportunity to be hailed as a hero in the MH community. I completely admire Liz because she’s been able to talk about her experience having through
hell and back, especially on ECT. Her name out there raises awareness about theses issues and her presence in the MH community brings comfort to many people who are struggling with similar issues.

Then there’s me, having to adopt the name Marissa Miller in the hopes that no one finds out who I am. (My real name is so unique that if it was Googled, all of my articles would pop up on the first page.)

If you’ve started reading this blog recently, you haven’t read some of the 600 posts here. Many of them are pretty personal.

  • Being Brave: “I have much to say / And there’s much I haven’t done / But what does it matter / When death’s got all the fun?”
  • Identification: “Now, if I have enough fearlessness to face death, why can I not have enough fearlessness to face life?”
  • Suicide and Baseball: “[T]he truth remains the same. Not just for me but for all suicidal people: We don’t really want to kill ourselves, we just want to end our pain.”
  • You can do this:  “I sat in my car this morning with the ignition turned on, ready to drive my car over the bridge into the Schuylkill River. I was ready to run home, make the stupid “goodbye world” post on this blog, text my husband “I love you. Goodbye” and then ram my car into a divider on I-76. It’s the worst suicidal thought I’ve had since I ended up in the hospital in October 2006.”

I wouldn’t hire me if I saw blog posts like that. Perhaps some people don’t get frustrated by the anonymity; I do. I don’t know if there will ever come a day when I can come clean about my identity and let the world know who this person is and what she really struggles with. God bless all of you who can put a real face to a name and still talk about deeply personal issues.

Current Mood Rating: 5.9

Light posting again

POSTING
Posting may be light through Friday as I’m proofing an ENTIRE website — medication-related, actually — and making all the web copy is correct, the links work, and that the design/layout isn’t funky. Since it’s a website, it’s a huge job and it may take me until Friday. Here’s an example (not the real site I’m working on) of the monstrosity of the kind of work I’m doing.  I’m proofing every single piece of text on every page.  Funny thing is, I don’t mind. I love what I do.

PSYCHIATRIST APPOINTMENT
I have my psychiatrist appointment at 3:30 pm so I might be able to get a quick post in to let you know what happens. He’ll probably be concerned that I didn’t take my Abilify, but I just stopped taking fexofenadine (Allegra’s generic equivalent) and have begun to drop weight. I don’t need Abilify to help me pack it back on it again. I can do it quite easily with the help of the amazing bakery across the street.

COUNSELING
I had counseling last night but will be going again next week. I usually go once every two weeks, but my counselor is concerned since I’m having a consistent reoccurrence of suicidal thoughts. Even when I’m in a good mood, I still think of finding a way to kill myself. That’s not depression so much as it is my negative way of thinking. However, it’s still cause for concern considering that dwelling on the idea could actually lead to another attempt.

RISPERDAL WITHDRAWAL
I’ve read a few blogs in which people are enduring Risperdal withdrawal. I have a friend who’s currently coming off of Risperdal because her blood sugar is so high. She’s been on it for years. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t want to take an antipsychotic. Doctors put patients on it for long-term maintenance when most of the clinical trials have only studied short-term effects.

LAYOUT
I’ve become dissatisfied with how narrow the layout is on my blog so it’s possible that if you visit the site, it’ll look funky every now and then as I play around with it and decide on one I like. I’m not an expert with CSS so I tinker with it until I’m satisfied. I’d like my text area wide enough to post YouTube videos and pictures without them getting cut off. Just letting you know so you don’t wonder what happened to your browser.

FURIOUS SEASONS
Last but not least, if you like this blog, then please go to this one and donate $1, $2, or $5. If you know me in person, please donate as well. (I made a plea about this last week.) That blog provides me with inspiration to keep on going.  You can donate to Philip Dawdy via PayPal, check, or money order. (I guess you could send cash too but that’s never recommended.) Philip’s blog, Furious Seasons, has helped many people in the mental health community including myself.

Lexapro maintains status as first-line antidepressant therapy

Lexapro vs. Pristiq According to a Decision Resources (DR) press release, Lexapro (escitalopram), a SSRI, “retains leadership among first-line therapies in the treatment of major depression” despite the fact that physicians have increasingly moved toward the use of SNRIs, eg, Effexor (venlafaxine). However, the reason why SSRIs still retain their first-line status is due to

  • cost
  • efficacy
  • familiarity

SSRIs have been out on the market for much longer than SNRIs so it’s what physicians are more comfortable with. As far as I know, there currently aren’t any generic SNRIs in the U.S.

As a result, SNRIs are likely pricier.

DR’s survey of psychiatrists found that the majority believe SNRIs work better in treating clinical depression than SSRIs and about 44 percent believe they have fewer sexual side effects. PCPs were also included in this survey and it seems that the majority of them believed the opposite despite DR’s spin that a lot of PCPs are on board with psychiatrists. From personal experience, four SSRIs were prescribed to me before I was shifted to a SNRI.

In the up-and-coming SNRI department, DR forecasts a bright future for Pristiq (desvenlafaxine).

Physicians are expected to move patients from Effexor to Pristiq-a newly approved SNRI- over the next two years. … Pristiq will begin to replace Wyeth’s Effexor XR and Lilly’s Cymbalta, especially in
psychiatrists’ practices.

This is an interesting analysis from DR considering that psychiatrists, health insurers, and even some investors seem less than impressed with the slight advantages the “me-too” drug has over Effexor.

(logos from Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Wyeth)

The Bipolar Child, Part II: Childhood bipolar disorder criteria

CLPsych wrote a post on the "Growing Up Bipolar" Newsweek cover story. I agree with most of his points. Especially:

1. Max's problems are described by the journalist as "incurable" and as "a life sentence." It is true that the kid is likely in for a life of trouble. But stating that such difficulties are a certainty for the rest of his life? That's a little too certain and it's not based on any evidence. Show me one study that indicates that 100% of children like Max will always have a high level of psychological difficulties and essentially be unable to function independently.

The article even mentions that "Max will never truly be OK." Apparently, I just learned from my recent viewing of Depression: Out of the Shadows that diagnoses are not static.

Miracles have happened but to say that Max's future doesn't have a grim tint to it is unrealistic. Not because of his diagnoses but because of all 38 different medications that he's already been on.

By 7½, Max was on so many different drugs that Frazier and his
parents could no longer tell if they were helping or hurting him. He
was suffering from tics, blinking his eyes, clearing his throat and
"pulling his clothes like he wanted to get out of his skin
," says
Richie.

By the time Max had reached 8 years old, he was already showing the symptoms of side effects that can occur long-term. Tardive dyskinesia, hyperglycemia, diabetes, akathisia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome are all very real side effects that could develop in Max's teenage years and stick with him permanently. "Max will never truly be OK." Not because of his disorders but because these medications have given him a different "life sentence" — a life sentence of physical, visible afflictions in addition to the emotional and mental disorders he already struggles with.

I haven't really gotten into the child bipolar disorder conversation on this blog because

  • it's such a controversial diagnosis that would require lengthy posts that I didn't have time for
  • I found the entire diagnosis to be a bunch of hooey

But I will now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Paranoia

I suppose I should note that given my experience at my last job, I am now paranoid that people are talking about me when they speak in low, hushed tones that I can’t hear. Especially since these people are usually loud in the office.

This probably has nothing to do with bipolar disorder but is likely a natural reaction to having a history of people speaking ill about me. However, I still get scared that true paranoia would creep up on me like it has on my father and other members on that side of my family.

Former Fox News employee suffers from PTSD as a result of bedbugs in the office

This story is sort of sad and wacky at the same time:

A Fox News employee who says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being bitten by bedbugs at work filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the owner of the Manhattan office tower where she worked.

Jane Clark, 37, a 12-year veteran of Fox News, a unit of News Corp, said she complained to human resources after being bitten three times between October 2007 and April 2008. She said she was ridiculed and the office was not treated for months.

When I first saw that, I thought to myself, give me a break. Then I read:

Clark says she suffers nightmares and keeps a flashlight at her bedside so she can check for bugs during the night.

Suddenly, sympathy hit me. I’m incredibly scared of bugs in general so the thought of bedbugs crawling around in an office and then bringing it home would scare me like crazy. I had enough of a brief PTSD stint after some guy crept into my psych hospital room and began masturbating while he thought I was asleep. Thank God he didn’t rape me.

After coming home from the hospital, I couldn’t sleep with the lights off. My husband, who doesn’t sleep well with the light on, was kind enough to let me leave them on for about a week or so while I slowly got over the whole ordeal. But it took about a month or two before I could get up in the middle of the night by myself before I was convinced that a dark figure making grunting noises wouldn’t be standing next to my side of the bed or lurking in the bathroom or dark hallways of the apartment. For a few weeks, I made my husband escort me to the restroom — I was that scared.

So instead of my initial reaction of rolling my eyes to this story, my heart goes out to Ms. Clark. I always do a spot check of beds anytime I stay at a hotel. I can’t imagine the thought of bringing them home. I get freaked out enough as it is when I find one spider or stinkbug in the apartment.

I’d sleep with the lights on all over again.

Internet trolls and stalkers: a pathetic breed indeed

Gianna at Bipolar Blast is discontinuing her blog because of idiots and trolls who have sent her mean and disturbing comments that have affected her and her mental well-being. This angers and upsets me as it just goes to show that some people have no care for anyone but themselves.

Jane, a commenter at Furious Seasons, wrote:

As I read this piece I couldn’t help but think the drug companies are behind a lot of this.

I can’t help but agree. I can’t help but wonder if Gianna’s blog was so informative and effective that a few people decided attack a successful mental health blogger. She obviously was doing something right if some people felt threatened.

I hope that she will take some time to recover and gather up her strength. She is in my prayers, and for those who pray, please keep her in yours as well.

Last night

Current Mood Rating: 4

Last night, my mood was a 2. I keep contemplating all the ways I could possibly die but it's tough to do that when I have my husband sitting next to me telling me "I love you" and "You're my best friend."

(sigh)

The ironic thing is that the majority of my suicidal attempts aren't planned. They're impulses – they feel like something I can't control.

All this thinking and trying to plan out the perfect attempt is working contrary to what I want; I just end up talking myself out of it. Planning means that I'm being rational. Mixed-mood episodes are NOT rational.

On an unrelated note,  I think I'm incapable of playing the Wii for long stretches. My muscle pain is back. And here I am, thinking that the Wii would help me lose weight. I'll miss playing tennis. I made it to pro.

Oh, and speaking of weight, I think Allegra causes weight gain. Somehow I've dropped 3 lbs since I've stopped taking it.

Quote of the Week

"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the judgment that there is
something more important than fear." — quote from the movie "The
Princess Diaries"