Quote of the Week

"We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness." — John Milton

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Lamictal withdrawal update

Last day on 100 mg, I think. I’ve been calling around to psychiatrists in my husband’s insurance network and it’s incredibly out of date despite the “Information updated on 3/22/2009” fine print. Someone’s not doing his or her job. I’m tired and don’t care to call around some more and deal with some nurse sounds pissed off for working in a “looney bin” and won’t give me a referral number.

So I’m left to my own devices for now and will be dropping down to 75 mg tomorrow. I’m just not sure I’ll find a psychiatrist who’s supportive enough to take me on as a patient only to lose me again in the end. Maybe the $400 2-hour intake with that Christian psychiatrist might be worth the money although I really balk at the cost.

In the meantime, I still am not sleeping well and have been sleeping all sorts of wacky hours. My job came back at me with an offer of more work but I declined this time. My job is to remain alert and catch errors and I am FAR from it. I don’t even feel safe driving right now. My comprehension level for anything is total and utter poop.

I’m simply alive and surviving. That’s all that can be asked from day to day, right? I’ll still make a few posts and my apologies in advance if they’re somewhat incoherent.

Joy vs. Happiness

joyJoy has always been an issue that I’ve wrestled with. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

I’ve been a born again Christian for more than 10 years and the one thing I can’t seem to get a handle on is joy. I’ve had many people advise me that one of the hallmarks of being a Christian is being joyful. Galatians 5:22 lists the fruit of the Spirit; joy being secondary in the list next to love.

Thelma Wells The November/December 2008 issue of Today’s Christian Woman (TCW) published a special section that focused specifically on the topic of joy. TCW editor Ginger Kolbaba interviewed Thelma Wells, a popular Christian speaker and author who struggled with cancer. If anyone would know about the highs and lows of joy, it’d be a woman who was placed on life support with the grim prognosis of impending death.

The entire interview is worth reading but Ginger asks Thelma key questions that elicit winning answers—one of them being that people don’t lose joy but rather, it goes “underground.” I’ve highlighted a few of Thelma’s answers that I really identified with.

TCW: What gets in the way of us truly experiencing joy?

THELMA: Trying to be somebody we’re not. God made us wonderfully in his image. But we look at life from the eyes of our culture: where I should live, what I should drive, where my kids should go to school, what I should have in my house. We compete for status, for recognition, for all these things that mean little or nothing in the end. And when we do that, we become confused about who we serve and why we serve.

If we aren’t careful, we can become so depressed and confused and overwhelmed that our joy goes underground. [emphasis mine]

Here I can identify the source of my lack of joy: discontentment. I’m not discontent with my family or my friends or most of my circumstances, however, I am continuously discontent with myself. I am always trying to be—or wishing to be—someone I’m not. I am never satisfied with the person God made me. I try to be a social chameleon but never quite succeed (in my own mind anyway). Discontentment with myself breeds depression in my life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Me, my daughter and Sylvia Plath

Piggybacking on the sad story of Sylvia Plath's son's suicide, Christine Stapleton—a blogger at PsychCentral and columnist for the Palm Beach Postwrote something interesting that caught my attention addressing whether suicide can run in genes:

Suicide is not hereditary – at least geneticists have not proved it. However, studies have shown that  children whose mothers committed suicide are 7 times more likely to attempt suicide than children whose mothers do not. That statistic is why I am alive.

Maybe that statistic would help keep me alive too if I have kids.

Now, three generations of suicide in the Plath lineage

This is incredibly sad. This shows that suicidal struggles can be passed down in families. Food for thought.

Sylvia PlathFAIRBANKS, Alaska – Nicholas Hughes, the son of poet Sylvia Plath, has killed himself, 46 years after his mother committed suicide and almost 40 years to the day after his stepmother, Assia Wevill, did the same. He was 47.

Hughes, who was not married and had no children, hanged himself at his home March 16, Alaska State Troopers said. An evolutionary biologist, he spent more than a decade on the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Marmian Grimes, the university’s senior public information officer, said he left about a year ago.

Hughes’ older sister, poet Frieda Hughes, issued a statement through the Times of London, expressing her “profound sorrow” and saying that he “had been battling depression for some time.”

My heart goes out to the Hughes family.

Quote of the Week

"Success means controlling your own time. Time is the most important
currency, but once you spend it, man, it's gone." — Rod Steiger

Song of the Week: Look What You've Done by Bread

I’m laughing as I write this post. My song of the week makes me feel like an old soul in a young body. It was made nearly half a decade before I was even born.

BreadBut I must admit, one of my favorite bands of all time is… Bread. Unless you’re a soft rock junkie like me, you likely have never heard of this band or you’ve heard their music but never knew who they were. (I was part of the latter for a long time.)

Despite the fact that Bread was popular soft rock group in the ’70s, I grew up being subjected to “lite music” in my mom’s car in the 80s. Hearing artists like Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, and Journey give me flashbacks to my childhood when I would sit in the backseat of our gray Honda Accord below the speakers that aired 106.7 lite fm. Yes, I am an anomaly. While my cousins grew up listening to Slick Rick, Biz Markie, and Doug E. Fresh, I preferred the soft sounds of Frank Sinatra, Foreigner, and Gloria Estefan. I still would take The Carpenters any day over Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.

So my song of the week is a throwback to my childhood. Soft rock, for some reason, has always given me a sense of peace and security. (It might have to do with the psychological aspect of me being strapped down by a seat belt while listening to it.) I don’t have any bad memories associated with many of these songs so I’ve chosen my latest obsession for this week: “Look What You’ve Done” by Bread. You can listen to the full song here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fail Fridays

Quick update

I'm doing better for now. Thanks.

Triple-whammy

I’ve got my Lamictal withdrawal, my crappy sleep, and my period (sorry, guys, it’s a fact of a female life). I’ve had one of my worst days in a long time and I’ve got a big decision I need to make soon so I’m a bit stressed out. I was pretty low today so my husband stayed home with me to help me out. I feel like I take him for granted sometimes. He’s just TOO good to me and FOR me. He’s so supportive in so many of my goals and dreams and sacrifices so much for me. Soon to be 4 years into our marriage and I’m happier than Day One.

He recognizes more than I do the withdrawal symptoms at work in my body. I feel as though this fatigue thing is all in my head and he’s convinced it’s real. (I just think I’ve gotten lazy and sluggish.) My sleep troubles still persist but I’m on my second day of Tryptophan so we’ll see if there’s any improvement.

I’m not sure why I’m blogging about this. I’m feeling extremely mopey and pessimistic and am still struggling with issues of self-worth (and self-loathing). I know people reading this care even though my feelings tell me otherwise. Maybe that’s why I’m blogging this right now. Maybe I just need some social support. Please forgive me for asking for your support and encouragement. I could use it. If you pray, utter a prayer for me. Thanks.

My online life is getting to be too much – I'm taking a hiatus

I’m currently taking a hiatus from blogging, my email, and my Facebook account. I don’t expect it to last too long but I’m really backed up—online and offline—and feeling overwhelmed. If you need to reach me, I am still on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t take much brain power.

Quote

Joy can be real only if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness. –Leo Tolstoy

Quote of the Week

"The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover
the strength within you that survives all the hurt." — Jules

Song of the Week: In Christ Alone by Keith & Kristyn Getty

My husband and I are still working through Transforming Grace which emphasizes that the Bible says people cannot earn heaven on a merit-based system but on a grace-based system. I often revert to this “merit” mindset. It’s inconceivable to me that God doesn’t want me to work on getting to heaven or pleasing him; he simply wants me to depend on Christ’s finished work on the cross—and that alone.

The song of the week is called “In Christ Alone” performed by Keith & Kristyn Getty. It’s my new favorite song and reminds me that only in Christ alone am I set free from trying to be a perfectionist to please God. Christ is perfect and through him, only him, am I perfect.

Irish-born Kristyn starts out the video by reading from Chapter 1 of the Book of John (vv. 1-4, 14, 16). You can hear her thick Irish accent as she reads and then she just busts out into song and sounds American. Why is it that most British people sound American when they sing? It never ceases to amuse me. The video is below and lyrics behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Sensitivity: Pete Wentz

Pete WentzI’ve written about fellow bipolar sufferer Pete Wentz before here. How has he managed to keep his highs and lows in check?

His son, Bronx.

“While I’ll always be bipolar, I find it easier to deal with now. With marriage and fatherhood, I’ve finally found two fixed points in my life. They’ve taught me patience. They’ve also taught me that I don’t need to feel guilty about being happy. My emotional seasons are less extreme.

“In the past my brain would never stop. Now I’m a father, the world no longer revolves around me.”

I’ve always wondered whether having a child would change the way I deal with bipolar disorder. Of course, I’m not going to have a child simply as a test case in the hopes that he or she would “cure” me but I think having someone so completely dependent upon me would cause me to think twice about trying to kill myself.

Lamictal withdrawal: Insomnia

I thought the wine was working but I guess isn’t or I didn’t have enough. No matter, I’m out of the light blush anyway.

It’s nearly 4 in the morning and I crawled in bed sometime between 11:30 and 12. Reasonable bedtime for this nightowl. But I’m not sleepy. Not at all. Laying I’m bed for 4 hours ends up being restless. I’m surprised I can blog at all but this is really mindless drivel since I’m not doing much else other than typing this post out via the Typepad app for the iPhone.

Am I manic? I don’t think so. I am feeling a bit weary. I’ve been manic; i’ve experienced that energy of cleaning the apartment and rearranging the room at 2 am. I don’t have that kind of superhuman energy right now. In fact, I’d love to do nothing more than sleep but it eludes me. I’ll be trying to snag some natural remedies but in the meantime, I don’t feel like being up until 5! I have counseling at 7 tonight. However I fear I’ll see the sun come up. Five isn’t too far away.

I haven’t really read of anyone suffering from insomnia as a result of Lamictal withdrawal but I am. And by golly, if you like sleep like me, this is torture. I don’t know how I’m going to right myself. I can’t go on sleeping during the day.

Oh wait–I can’t sleep during the day either. And this is simply within the past month down from 200 mg to 125 mg. And to think! My doctor said I could just quit cold turkey.

WHAT IN TARNATIONS MADE HIM SAY THAT? Did he want me to die? Suffer from seizures? Seriously, doc, what the heck?

And then I’ve got the friend who is psycho stalker ex-girlfriend in training who doesn’t understand the meaning of, “I don’t want you get out of my life,” but we’ll save that story for another day.

(Btw, sorry for the misspellings if any. I’m typing this on my itouch keyboard and not spell checking too closely as I go along hoping autocorrect will catch most of mistakes. Guaranteed it has even if there are tons visible. I’m much too tired and apathetic to fix it or care right now. Maybe later. I just want sleep.)

Have you ever obsessed about sleep when you felt like it was constantly eluding you?

And I wrote a heckuva long post for typing this via mobile. 😛

Quote of the Week

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." — Corrie Ten Boom

Drug-induced suicidal ideation

This is a great post from Ana on how she struggled with suicidal thoughts while tapering off of Effexor. She was a lot better about identifying this stuff than I’ve ever been. I’m linking to this because I want people to know that suicidal thoughts CAN be drug-induced. I’m well aware of that now coming off of Lamictal. No problems so far but I have struggled with it in the past when I tried to jump down from 200 mg to 150 mg.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Portland, Oregon has been recently declared the most depressed city in the country. BusinessWeek determined this based on “antidepressant sales, suicide rates, unemployment, divorce, and crappy weather.” Philly didn’t make the top 20 list. That’s because we’re too busy enjoying the highest suicide rate in the country.


smokingA great way to avoid depression, however, is to simply stop breathing. Yes, that’s right. Just stop breathing. A new study presented at an American Psychological Society meeting shows people who are consistently exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to suffer from depression. So that’s my recommendation to you: STOP BREATHING. I guarantee you won’t be depressed after a while. (By the way, that’s a joke so you can go ahead and take a deep breath now.)


Apparently all this talk of an economic depression is causing people to be depressed enough to buy more antidepressants. I don’t get how it works but it seems as though antidepressant prescriptions (along with sleeping aid prescriptions) are rising alongside the unemployment rate in this country. Big Pharma isn’t filing for bankruptcy anytime soon. And if they do, it’s their own freakin’ fault.


In what appears to be a landmark ruling (correct me if I’m wrong), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that pharmaceutical companies are still liable for injuries cause by FDA-approved drugs and devices and juries can legitimately award damages. The buzzword I’ve learned for this case is preemption.

A woman who was injected with an antinausea drug (Phenergan, if you’re wondering) brought a damage suit against Wyeth after her arm had to be amputated. After a jury awarded her with $6.7 million, Wyeth took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, expecting a cool victory after the court sided with Medtronic in last year’s Riegel v. Medtronic case. Wyeth, the defendant in the case, hoped the Supreme Court would rule in their favor since the FDA had already evaluated their product for safety—a preemptive act. However, this time the court ruled 6-3 in favor of allowing the woman to keep her award money. The decision also sets a precedent for pharmaceutical consumers to sue pharmaceutical companies for injuries despite FDA approval—striking down preemption. For further information, check out Doug Bremner’s and Philip Dawdy’s blogs that have already covered this. In the meantime, I leave you with this:

Ronald Rogers, a spokesman for Merck, said, “We believe state courts should not be second-guessing the doctors and scientists at the F.D.A.”Merck was hit with several huge damage awards over its painkiller Vioxx before agreeing to a $4.85 billion settlement in 2007. Allowing juries to make determinations about drug risks, Mr. Rogers said, would cause “mass confusion.”

Hm. Make of that what you will.

Fail Fridays

I love satin bows!

satin bow

Graffiti fail at failblog.org.

Soldier suicide rate continues to climb

soldierI’ve been wanting to devote some time to blogging about this but I fear that I can’t. But I just read on CBS News that soldier suicides are still rising at an alarming rate. An estimated 128 troops killed themselves in 2008 and apparently February has seen 18 soldier suicides. (That figure may increase because some suicides are suspected but not immediately confirmed.) The Army released announced in February that at least 24 soldier deaths had been ruled as suicides.

The Army normally releases figures on self-inflicted deaths only once a year. But due to the large number of 24 suspected in January, officials decided to announce monthly figures to focus attention on the problem and on prevention programs available.

–snip–

Speaking by telephone to a group of bloggers, Chiarelli noted that officials already have bolstered suicide prevention programs and are having special training sessions this month and next, but he said no one thing can solve the problem.

The military has added mental health staff, operates hotlines for troops to call, and has programs to counter stress on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was no breakdown on how many of the suicides happened at the warfront.

It’s a shame that so many troops had to lose their lives for the Army to get a wake up call on bolstering suicide prevention and mental health programs. My guess is suffering from PTSD also plays a part in pushing soldiers over the edge.

"Have I told you you light up my life?"

candleAgain, my MIL has proven Satan wrong. She told me “I light up her life.” My existence here is so worth it and I do make a difference.

Lamictal withdrawal: fatigue & insomnia

I'm having the weirdest combo of side effects on this. I'm tired all the time, but I can't get to sleep easily no matter how hard I try. Then when I do sleep, it's craptastic and it feels like I never slept in the first place. Anyone else experienced this or heard of anyone who's experienced this? It's wearing me out and causing me to suffer from a lack of patience.

Lamictal withdrawal: 125 mg… and counting

I'm down to 125 mg… I'm feeling sluggish and wiped out. I have what I call "body zaps" — basically I feel little prickles, like someone sticking a pin in my skin — that I find highly uncomfortable. (It's similar to feeling "brain zaps" or "brain shivers" throughout your body.) They mainly occur when I'm still, especially when I'm laying down in bed at night.

My sleeping schedule is also out of whack. While my body can be tired by midnight or 1 am, my brain simply will NOT shut off. My brain decides to shut down along with my body around 3 or 4 am from sheer exhaustion.

A few people have recommended I take melatonin to get back to a normal sleeping pattern, but I'm not sure whether that would be okay as I withdraw from the medication. Melatonin seems relatively harmless but right now, I can't tell what's normal with my body and what's not.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

As reported by The New York Times, people with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of suffering from fatal illness according to a study (that reviewed 17 other studies involving more than 331,000 people) reported in the February issue of Psychiatric Services.

In the larger studies, almost every cause of death was higher among bipolar patients: cardiovascular, respiratory, cerebrovascular (including strokes), and endocrine (like diabetes). In the smaller studies, mortality from cerebrovascular disease was higher among those with bipolar illness, but they showed inconsistent results, probably because they used smaller samples or less representative populations.

Gianna at Beyond Meds provides here take here.


Some crazy nurse in Minnesota convinced a Canadian college student to kill herself and walked her through the process of appropriately hanging herself. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air calls the nurse "the first serial suicide-inciter of the modern age." Couldn't have said it better myself.


Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons is on a roll, holding AstraZeneca accountable for its actions regarding hidden information about Seroquel and now he hosts the Seroquel documents — alongside Lilly's Zyprexa documents — that indicate buried studies. Dawdy's also running a spring fundraiser and I suggest you get your butt in gear and donate to him if it's important to you that someone holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for their actions. I've already done my part.


Sorry this post isn't filled with my normal snark and cynicism. I'm behind on a lot personally — still trying to get the hang of this self-employment thing — and this is what I can throw out for now.

Possible light posting; other ways to keep track of me (if you're so inclined)

stressedI’m feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment because I have a hundred-and-one things to do and I just don’t know where to begin or how to tackle them all. I’m terrible at prioritizing. So here’s my requisite blog update lettin’ ya’ll know what the deal is. Until I’m no longer suffering a quasi-panic attack at the computer, this blog entry will have to suffice. I’m currently at a mood level of 4. I’m using Twitter a bit more frequently now (through my iTouch) so you can always follow me at www.twitter.com/mama_kass or just scroll down the left sidebar to the Twitter Updates.

In the meantime, donate to Philip Dawdy during his spring fundraiser and get a load of this.

Quote of the Week

"As the fly bangs against the window attempting freedom while the door
stands open, so we bang against death ignoring heaven." — Doug Horton