Status update

I'm going to try to keep this as short as I can because I have a lot to do and finally have the energy — and mental clarity! — to do it.

I woke up at 5 am yesterday due to a bad migraine. I didn't fall asleep until 2 am. I'd laid in bed from 10 pm-12 am hoping to fall asleep since my thoughts had begun to take a negative turn and I knew it was because of lack of sleep.

I was up for a total of 21 hours. Between the lack of sleep and the medication side effects, it was a combo for disaster. I tried to use Twitter and play Scrabble and Sudoku as distractions but my negative thoughts continued to invade my mind. Go ahead, call me crazy, but I believe in evil forces and Satan was attacking me hard.

I am okay right now. My mood is just fine, holding steady at a 6 right now. But I was bad — very bad last night.

And yes, I should be eating better.

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Mood rating update

I’m at a 5 and doing better. This is a remote post so I’ll write more later.

Mood rating

Mood rating: 1

Coming off of Lamictal (lamotrigine): 200 mg to 150 mg

I'm currently experiencing significant blurry vision and fatigue. I feel like my eyes keep crossing and I have to blink several times and keep my eyes wide open to focus well. It's annoying. My mood is stable at a 6. I also think I have a slightly weakened immune system as I'm starting to get sick.

Mood rating

Mood rating: 4.7+
Bummed that I’ve gone from regular part-time work to on-call. I’ve been expecting something like this anyway.

This Girl's Biblical View

A little late in posting this but better late than never.


“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25-34
(NKJV)

Personal interpretation
This passage piggybacks off of last week’s verse (Philippians 4:6-7) about not being anxious. Here, Jesus says not to be concerned about God providing for our needs because He takes care of all the little details such as feeding birds to allowing flowers to grow and bloom. Plus, he adds, worrying doesn’t solve anything. (Know anyone who’s been able to fix an issue while experiencing a panic attack?) His listeners are told to first seek God’s will for their lives. Jesus also admonishes them to focus on getting through that day and not worrying about the next day because there are enough issues to deal with at that present moment.

Personal meaning
In this economy, it is so easy to worry about losing a job or if that happens, what would happen to paying the rent or putting food on the table. God says He’ll provide for our needs. Not our wants but our needs. Something to keep in mind is our finite human minds cannot comprehend what an infinite God deems as our needs.

Jesus also tells the listening crowd to seek after “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” The primary need Jesus emphasizes here is God. Everything else that we consider our needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.) is considered extemporaneous, hence, why they are “added to” us. Our needs are first spiritual then physical. (And spiritual often ties into the emotional.)

Personal application
worryWorry. Anxiety. How can I apply this so it’ll affect my life?

The answer is simple: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

A personal application of this verse would be to do everything with God in mind and emulate His characteristics: holiness, truth, justice, love, care, compassion, and forgiveness among others. I am encouraged to “seek” those things — look for them, strive for them — they are goals to shoot for.

Recently, I’ve been learning the Westminster Catechisms. A catechism is a statement of doctrinal belief often made in a series of questions and answers. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is “What is the chief end of man?” The answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

My chief end in life is to glorify God. Seeking after that could prevent so much worry because I’d know that God would take care of me no matter what happens.

For example, if my husband has shown evidence of his faithfulness to me, I won’t live in fear that he’s banging another woman every time he works late.

God has been in my life a heckuva lot longer than my husband has. He has proven Himself faithful to me time and time again. I’ve seen evidence of his goodness to me: how He brought me and my husband together, how He’s saved me from killing myself, and how He’s blessed me monetarily (we’re not poor). God, like my husband, has never given me any reason to worry about whether He’ll look after me.

My counselor suggested that I write a list of all the things God has done for me in my life so whenever I wonder about His passivity, I can look at it and see how active He really is. Something akin to a list of things I’m grateful for. Otherwise, I tend to have a short memory. The future scares me because I don’t know what to expect. It causes me anxiety and worry. Often it’s because I’m not seeking after Him.

Although I said the answer was simple, I never said putting it into action was easy.

Mood rating: 6

This Girl's Biblical View

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7
(NKJV)

Personal interpretation
Don't worry about anything. Pray and ask God for your needs and desires, thanking Him for everything He's already given to you, and God will provide you with assurance—a kind of heavenly, unfathomable assurance—that will protect your heart and mind from constant worry and anxiety.

Personal meaning
While I know I shouldn't worry about anything, I still freak out over things and usually they're the littlest things. (See Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.) The verse encourages me to pray and beseech the Lord for help but I've got to admit, I often forget and try to do things on my own.

Personal application
The verse encourages me to really talk to God—to make God real in my life as though He were standing face to face with me. Just like I would talk to my mom and go, "Hey, Mom, I'm a little short on cash. Can you help me out today?" Well, not that irreverent but that's the idea. If I have a good relationship with my mom, I wouldn't sit in my bedroom, fretting and worrying about whether I should ask her for money or not—especially if I know she has the money she can spare me.

God wants to hear me talk to Him. And instead of opening my big mouth to Him, I start complaining about my worries and fears to other people. Voicing my concerns isn't so much a problem as ignoring that God can handle it is. And God's word promises that if I give my burdens over to Him (with faith in Jesus Christ), He will provide me with comfort and reassurance that He's got everything under control.

As I am wont to say: It sounds nice in theory. Maybe I should try testing it.

Mood rating: 5.7

This Girl’s Biblical View: Introduction

During my conversation with Natalie two nights ago, she emphasized infusing her brain with Bible verses and Scriptural passages and encouraged me to do the same. Finally, a thought came to me that a good way of constantly keeping myself in step with the Bible would be to meditate on God’s word. I know all about creating 3 x 5 index cards to help memorize Bible verses but I think a great way for me to really absorb some of the principles that I read would be to post a Bible verse and reflect on:

    1. What I think it means
    2. What it means to me
    3. How it has impacted or can impact my life

      Open BibleWhile the Bible is no cure-all (nothing currently in this world is!), I believe God’s word “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

      I plan on trying to make this a weekly thing, hopefully for publication each Wednesday. I don’t promise to be perfect but I think doing this over the coming weeks (maybe even months!) will deepen and strengthen my relationship with God and others and will help me to overcome some associated behavioral issues (ie, fear, anxiety, etc.).

      December

      I have since learned that December is also a hard month for me. December has certain markers, so to speak, that jump out at me throughout the month.

      December 9 — The day my father died
      December 14 — The day I found out
      December 17 — The funeral
      December 18 — The burial

      Makes for quite a depressing Christmas. Even though he passed away only 7 years ago, it still hangs a dark cloud over my head. It takes me so long to get into the “Christmas spirit.” I now settle into the Christmas mood a week before the holiday, which is somewhat frustrating because it took me almost a month to finally enjoy hearing Nat King Cole’s smooth voice crooning through the ceiling speakers at Barnes and Noble.

      I think celebrating Advent next year might help, however, I never know much about the season anymore since I no longer attend Catholic church and the Presbyterian church I attend doesn’t seem to acknowledge it. I need to remember that Christ is “the reason for the season” (yes, I know it’s trite) but the materialism surrounding Christmas really does a good job of distracting me from focusing on that. Materialism is tangible; Christ is not. But materials are temporal; Christ is eternal. Something to keep in mind.

      I’ve been incredibly busy lately and have gotten pretty sidetracked from blogging. I’m traveling a good bit this (and the coming) year, trying to get a personal website up and running, running errands and accomplishing chores, trying to fit in exercise, spend time with friends and family, attend (usually) church-related activities, and make time for myself at night. My life in the past 2 years has moved faster than I could even imagine or fathom. The introduction of children could only make it crazier.

      How’s my mental health in spite of all this? Well, I was doing pretty well most of the year with the exception of my “normal” dive in August. Lately, I’ve been dealing with some suicidal thoughts again. Mostly passing and no serious urges but the idea of trying has been tempting. I mentioned recently that I’ve felt a “need to prove” that I am serious about committing suicide. It’s a serious pride issue. Why should I care whether people think I’m suicidal for attention or not? That doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t be more concerned about what people think of me. Rather, I should be more focused on living my life to please God and for His glory.

      I’m currently reading a book by J.I. Packer titled “God’s Plans for You.” (You can read a preview of this book through Google Books.) Lately, I’ve been struggling with what I should do with my life. I’m experiencing what has been deemed a “quarter-life crisis.” It’s like a mid-life crisis but with different challenges. Usually those challenges are related to career and vocational decisions. The mid- to late-twenties is the time when college grads are hit with the reality that full-time work isn’t as idealistic as they hoped and they are faced with the grim realization that some—or many—of their dreams may never come true.

      This is becoming the case with me.

      I obtained a degree in print journalism and a minor in English, hoping that I could enjoy working as a reporter or copy editor in the newspaper or magazine industry. It started out that way but then a move to Pennsylvania and a switch to daytime hours and a lack of clips set me back and now I am a freelance proofreader. Granted, I’m fortunate to even be a freelancer at 26 but proofreading at an ad agency was NOT what I had in mind when I took on my student loan debt.

      While I enjoy the people I work with and have become more comfortable with the materials that come across my desk, I again have fallen into the perfectionism trap. I had a week where I caught a string of my own mistakes that I’d missed (other people—non-proofreaders—had caught them) and it was extremely discouraging. This has led me to wonder whether I’m even in the appropriate field. Now, I have a desire to pick up writing again (as opposed to sole editing) and am frustrated at my lack of internal motivation. I’m even beginning to wonder whether I should go back to a full-time job because it’s tough not knowing when a check will drop in my lap during any given day of a month and the fact that I am a terrible boss and employee when it comes to meeting my own deadlines. I’m even afraid of getting audited come tax time.

      All in all, I’m currently facing a slew of decisions. Where to take my career and the prospect of motherhood, which may be hindered by my Lamictal (lamotrigine) treatment. I don’t want to be taking Lamictal during a pregnancy unless absolutely necessary and right now, I don’t feel that it’s absolutely necessary. I would like to take the risk and come off of it to see what happens but so far, it sounds like Lamictal withdrawal can be hellish. Lamictal during pregnancy raises the risk of a baby being born with a cleft palate. The likelihood of that happening to me is low and even if it does happen, it’s fixable but why take the chance? I’m also the super-psycho freak that will halt topical steroid medication of my eczema and zealously check all toys “Made in China” for lead.

      Gianna at Beyond Meds and CLPsych over at Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry have written pieces on how Lamictal’s efficacy has been shown to be no better than placebo. This is something I intend on writing about soon considering that I’m one of the patients who could probably (currently, anyway) sing the wonders of the drug.

      So there’s the update. That’s what’s going on in my life. I hope that you are all well. I likely won’t post again before 2009 so I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year!

      Mood rating: 5

      Mood Rating System Modification

      I’ve revised my mood rating system located in the left sidebar. After using it for a while, I’ve noticed that the scale needed a little tweaking. Here are the changes below:

      A plus (+) sign, used only for numbers below 5, indicate that there is no suicidal ideation.
      0 – Severely depressed, suicidal and/or homicidal, immediate inpatient treatment necessary, inability to function (in daily activities)
      1 – Severely depressed, somewhat suicidal and/or homicidal, monitoring necessary, inpatient treatment likely necessary, inability to function
      2 – Severely depressed, passing suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, monitoring recommended, inpatient treatment optional, great difficulty functioning
      3 – Moderately depressed, passing suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, monitoring optional, some difficulty functioning
      4 – Mildly depressed, passing suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, monitoring optional, low difficulty functioning
      5 – Emotionally numb, in a state of existence, no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, no monitoring necessary, some ability to function, borderline mood (potential for change to 4 or 6)
      6 – Mildly happy, content, no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, little functioning problems
      7 – Moderately happy, upbeat, no functioning problems
      8 – Moderately happy, optimistic, positive, no functioning problems
      9 – Extremely happy, optimistic, cheerful, positive, “in a good mood,” “feel great,” no functioning problems
      10 – Extremely happy, potentially manic, active, energetic, euphoric, ability to function may vary

      Goal for 2009: Staying Alive

      I’m being hit by suicidal thoughts again. Hard.

      I’m not going to the hospital but if these thoughts keep pummeling me, it’ll become a consideration again. I’m walking a fine line here because my husband’s family has had a suicide hit close to home earlier this year and they don’t need to experience another loss. I try to keep in mind how important I am to many people that I know: my husband, my in-laws, my mom (I’m her only child). I try to visualize the grief my mother would experience losing her only kid. It’s worked so far. I can only pray that it lasts.

      In the meantime, I’ve had my husband hide my belts. I ended up in the hospital in October 2006 after my husband woke up just in time to find me kicking a chair away in an attempt to hang myself from an air vent.

      After what now seems like a short reprieve, I constantly glance up at the ceiling air vent in our bedroom thinking about trying the hanging thing again. I’m sure I could find something else to use if I really wanted to but I’m trying not to dwell on the idea too much.

      The lies that used to convince me to try killing myself, oh say, three years ago, don’t work as well anymore. I can fight off most of them:

      Lie #1: Nobody cares about you.
      Answer: I have a husband, a big family, and wonderful friends who love and care for me. I’d be missed.

      Lie #2: You don’t make a difference in this world.
      Answer: I have a 98-year-old grandmother who loves me to pieces, I have a mother who I bring so much joy to, I have a husband who tells me I’m the best thing that’s happened to him, and I have a mother-in-law who thinks that I’m so cool, she wants to spend time with me. I do make a difference.

      Lie #3: You’re worthless.
      Answer: My husband tells me all the time that I’m worth something to him and that he’d be lost without me. If only for him, I’m worthwhile.

      So the “lies,” or challenges if you will, have changed. Here’s the new one:

      “You’re such a liar. You’re just looking for attention. You want people to pity and feel bad for you while you sit there and cry wolf. So, if you’re so serious about committing suicide, why don’t you show them that you’re not kidding and prove ’em all wrong?”

      Hmm. Good question.

      Mood rating: 3

      Beware XYZAL — allergy drug

      I’m having a terrible allergy reaction that’s last 2 days. I visited my physician who gave me a few 5-mg samples of an allergy medicine, Xyzal (levocetirizine). This is supposed to be an alternative to Allegra, Zyrtec, and OTC Benadryl. I took time in the middle of the workday for this impromptu appointment so when I got back to work, I immediately took the drug. Then, I began feeling incredibly drowsy. I decided to look up the side effects on the xyzal site and found:

      Patients taking XYZAL should avoid operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle. … Take XYZAL at bedtime. Do not increase the dose due to increased risk of sleepiness.

      Great. I wish my doctor had warned me of this before I popped one at 3:45 in the afternoon at work, 13 miles away from my home. Not only that, but after doing some more reading in the Prescribing Information, I found:

      Besides these events reported under treatment with XYZAL, other potentially severe adverse events have been reported from the post-marketing experience with cetirizine. Since levocetirizine is the principal pharmacologically active component of cetirizine, one should take into account the fact that the following adverse events could also potentially occur under treatment with XYZAL: hallucinations, suicidal ideation, orofacial dyskinesia, severe hypotension, cholestasis, glomerulonephritis, and still birth.

      A one-time dose probably won’t affect me negatively in the ways reported above but still — it’s an allergy drug. ALLERGY drug. All this crap comes from something that’s supposed to make you feel better? Sheesh. Glad I read it. I’ll be sure to avoid regular consumption Xyzal in the future.

      So now it’s 4:50 pm and I can barely keep my head up but I figured I’d make this quick post to warn anyone with mental illness who:

      a) takes Xyzal or
      b) thinks that allergy drugs are free from side effects triggering mental illness.

      Granted, the risk is low but it exists. It also sounds like it can impair renal and hepatic functions somehow. Watch out if you’ve got kidney problems.

      When work is over, I’m going straight home and making a beeline for my bed.


      Mood Rating: 4

      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.

      The Great Medication Debate, Part 1

      "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." — Luke 12:48

      Gianna at Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery has written a post about reconnecting with her spirituality and working with her doctor on more med tapering. Toward the end, she wrote:

      I went for a walk the other day with a woman who could’ve been my client from years ago when I worked with the “severe and persistent mentally ill.” She was so sweet and warm—yet there was a deadness in her that I recognized as familiar from the clients I worked with on heavy neuroleptics. I was so glad to walk with her as an equal and not as a social worker—she is my peer and we talked to each other as such. She is getting tardive dykinesia from her neuroleptic. I asked her how long she’s been on it and it’s been 2 decades. I asked how long she has been stable and she said 12 years. I wanted to scream. This poor woman is half dead inside for no good reason. She is on three medications for bipolar disorder and has had no symptoms in 12 years. I see that as criminal, especially since it’s clear a part of her is dead, just as I’ve been dead for many years but am now coming back to life.

      I gently talked to her about talking to her doctor. “If you’ve been symptom free for 12 years maybe you don’t have to be on a toxic drug that is giving you tardive dyskinesia,” I suggested. I didn’t add she struck me as part dead too. I want to help all of us who are being over-medicated and poisoned. How can I do that? This blog is simply not enough.

      In response, I wrote this comment on her blog:

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Current Mood Rating

      Current Mood Rating: 4.5

      Gone but I don't know where

      You have been drifting for so long / I know you don’t want to come down / Somewhere below you, there’s people who love you / And they’re ready for you to come home / Please come home
      ~ Sarah McLachlan, “Drifting”

      I have an appointment with my psychiatrist on Tuesday morning. I’m not quite sure what to do.

      My “symptoms” are back. Now that I know what to look for as someone with bipolar disorder, I am aware of them. I’m having mania moments. I don’t want to sleep. I have no desire to. My husband sometimes MAKES me go to sleep. I’d rather be up doing the laundry, washing the dishes, blogging, reading other blogs, making to-do lists, and organizing the apartment–all at the same time–at 2 or 3 am. (This doesn’t mean all of this stuff gets finished.)

      My husband and I have had physical fights in the past where he has had to restrain me because I wouldn’t go to bed and I wouldn’t sleep. It would be 4 in the morning and I refused to sleep and I’d fight him tooth and nail. I don’t know why. I have no problem wanting to sleep at 2 pm. Make it 2 am and there’s too much to do suddenly. I have the superhuman ability to get things accomplished between midnight and 5 am more than I can during the hours of 9 am to 11 pm. Right.

      So now it’s almost 1 in the morning and I have nursery duty at church later in the morning. Then I have a hair appointment in the afternoon. Then I’m paranoid about what my hair stylist thinks of me.

      She says she’s my friend but I wonder if she’s just pretending to like me because she feels sorry for me. I’m really lame you know. People at work acted nice to my face and then dissed me behind my back. She does the same thing to others, why wouldn’t she do the same to me? She just keeps me around and kisses up to me because I tip well.

      Thinking like that scares me. It reminds me of the way my father used to think. Paranoid. (You can stop reading here. At this point on, it’s just a manic ramble that’s basically full of nothing but stream-of-consciousness just because i can.)

      Read the rest of this entry »

      The Last Psychiatrist—and my thoughts—on suicide

      "Your life is a publicly traded company.  You may have majority ownership, but you still are subject to a Board and to your shareholders.  If you want to kill yourself, everyone you have touched in any way gets to vote.  Good luck."

      I stumbled upon this post from The Last Psychiatrist written about a month ago. Alone basically argues that suicidal people shouldn’t kill themselves because they have a responsibility—a duty—to stay alive for others. The comments mostly lean toward people having the free will to kill themselves should they choose to do so. Here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:

      "You have a responsibility to improve the lives of those around you." Excuse me?! When did THAT become part of the constitution? NOBODY has the responsibility or even the capability to improve anyone else’s life! Hell, you’re a Doctor and you don’t take responsibility for improving anyone’s life!

      I’ve noticed that suicide is the taboo mental health topic even among the mentally ill. I’m going to go on a brief narcissist trip and mention that I received few comments on my last suicidal post. To be honest, I figured more people would have chided me for my distorted thinking. Makes me wonder to be quite honest. If I decided that I was going to commit suicide (which I’m not right now), would you support my decision or would you make a case for me to stay alive? What would you say?

      Can I be even more narcissist and hope that I get at least 5 comments on this post? Thanks in advance.

      Current mood rating: 6

      Current Mood Rating

      I haven’t used the mood rating system (left sidebar) on this blog since 2006. Since I’ve been struggling with suicidal thoughts recently, I’ll be posting mood rating updates. I’ve created a "Mood Rating" category for myself so I can keep track of the progression or (non-progression) of my depression. They’ll likely include no more information than the following:

      Current Mood Rating:
      3

      Suicide and baseball

      I’m suicidal right now. And it sucks.

      According to my mood rating, yesterday I was a 0. Then I forced myself into a 10. I really felt more like a 5. I’m a 3.2 today: moderately depressed, passing thoughts of suicide with some difficulty functioning.

      I know exactly what’s triggering my suicidal thoughts: my stupid assumptions about how my co-workers and boss feel about me.

      I’m a total people-pleaser. Despite my assumptions, I have a tendency to read people quite well. I can tell when they don’t like me, when they do, and when they’re pretty much ho-hum about me.

      I have two co-workers that are basically annoyed with me because of my absence on my birthday Friday (I know this because they were fine on Thursday), my boss is "ho-hum," and the rest of my co-workers don’t really care. (More later throughout the week on my birthday weekend.)

      My husband continues to remind me that I need to keep my thoughts focused on God. My suicidal tendencies develop because I’m so self-absorbed that I take my focus off of God.

      I want to kill myself as I way to punish my co-workers. There. I said it. I want to kill myself because two people are annoyed with me. (And I know they’ll get over it; they always tend to.) But I can’t stand the cold, stony silence. I can’t stand not knowing what people are thinking about me. I can’t stand the cold e-mails I receive when I try to be warm and friendly.

      I have a lot to do at work. I’m a little overwhelmed because I’m still quite new, but I’m doing my best to keep up with things here. I should be currently working, but I’m taking the opportunity to use my 15-minute paid break as a way to relieve the pain that’s beginning to develop in my mind and heart.

      It’s totally stupid to kill myself because TWO people don’t like me. I have a whole bunch of family and friends who love me to death (npi) and I’m suicidal because TWO people are currently annoyed with me.

      I realize how silly that is.

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Schizowhat?

      Today's lesson, kids: What's the difference between schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia?

      Quick background: I work in a medical field where I constantly have to look at the diagnoses of different "patients." When I see a diagnosis for schizoaffective disorder, my mind goes, "Hmm, isn't that just schizophrenia? Are they trying to name it something different these days?"

      No.

      Read the rest of this entry »

      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

      Transforming Grace

      Originally written on October 16, 2006

      orphansIn Rose Marie Miller’s introduction for from fear to freedom, she outlines the orphan mindset of a person who has accepted Christ as his/her Savior through grace but does not recognize his/her son/daughtership:

      “- Life consciously or unconsciously is centered on personal autonomy and moral willpower, with grade understood as God’s maintaining your own strength — not as his transforming power.
      – Faith is defined as trying harder to do and be better, with a view to establishing a good record leading to self-justification
      – Obedience is related to external, visible duties with attitudes and deeper motivation virtually ignored
      – ‘What people think’ is represented as the real moral standard, based upon visible success and failure
      – An I-am-a-victim attitude is supported by coping strategies, wall building, blame shifting, gossiping, and defending
      – All this is accompanied by intense feelings of aloneness, believing that no one understands and that one is trapped by circumstances.”

      I identify with all of the above. But it doesn’t stop there. Miller says:

      “Here then is my theme: the only hope of liberation for a helpless, resisting caterpillar in a ring of fire is deliverance from above. Someone must reach down into the ring and take us out. This rescue is what brings us from the orphan state into that of the son or daughter. This is not mere supporting grace, but transforming grace.”

      So my only hope of help is total deliverance. Meds aren’t a “cure-all” — never have been, never will be. In the meantime, I need to find Someone to pull me out of my “ring of fire.” I can only look to God.

      Today’s Mood: 4

      Compliments

      Originally written October 13, 2006

      “I’d be inclined to be yours for the taking / And part of this terrible mess that you’re making /But me, I’m the catalyst”
      ~ Anna Nalick, “Catalyst”


      Riding on the heels of self-positive affirmations, accepting compliments also is important.

      You hear:

      “My, you look gorgeous today!”

      You reply:

      “No, I don’t. This is a bad hair day.”

      The challenge is to accept compliments as additional self-positive affirmations. Don’t shrug it off or even dismiss it. Accept a compliment with a kind “thank you” and meditate on that for the day as well.

      Consider this: You have a treasure box you carry with you everywhere you go and as you give yourself a self-positive affirmations, you put it in your box each day. A compliment is an additional affirmation to add to that portable box. When the negative thoughs and lies come to do battle, you can pull out your arsenal of positives to do combat–and most likely win. Consider the treasure box your mind and store priceless items there.

      This takes practice, and no, it isn’t easy to put into practice. But the only way to go into war prepared is to build up your arsenal. And the last battle you’d want to lose is the battle in your mind.

      Today’s Mood: 3

      Pharmaceutical cynicism

      seroquelA mental health blog I’ve recently started reading, Furious Seasons written by P. Dawdy, has been blogging about Seroquel, a medication that has normally been used for acute mania in bipolar disorder. Now, Seroquel is being pushed for depression in bipolar disorder. In one of his older posts, he wrote: “So my hunch is that there must be money for researchers in going after BP, and Pharma companies must be willing to foot the bill. Yes, I am cynical.”

      This has been my thinking for sometime now and I’m glad that someone had the gumption to say so. I’m highly cynical of pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies don’t care about whether medications help people as long as they don’t kill anybody, which detracts from their profits in the form of class-action lawsuits. (See the Vioxx case with Merck.)

      Dawdy also writes: “We are the only group in the psych business that matters. But our interests are not well served in the current power arrangment, in which we don’t even have much of a share or a voice. That is also bullshit and must change.”

      I often feel disconnected from the pharmaceutical industry and the world of psychiatry. I am being told things and diagnosed left and right and I don’t understand much of what I’m being told by anybody. My concern is that clinical trial data is being fudged by doctors who receive funding from pharmaceutical companies but fail to disclose their ties. This area needs government regulation and a higher standard of ethical practice. Perhaps the APA should form a bureaucratic board of ethics specifically to overseen the relation between doctors working with (and often for) pharmaceutical companies.

      Mood: 4

      Bipolar disorder

      “Avalanche is sullen and too thin / She starves herself to rid herself of sin / And the kick is so divine when she sees bones beneath her skin / And she says /Hey baby can you bleed like me? / C’mon baby can you bleed like me” ~ Garbage, “Bleed Like Me”

      Medication bottlesI went to the psychiatrist Wednesday and received the oddest diagnosis of my life: he told me that I’ve got bipolar disorder and that I’m on the wrong medication.

      For most of my life, I’ve been convinced that I’ve had major depressive disorder and nothing else. When I was a teenager, I thought I might have been bipolar (age 15-19) but my manic side gradually faded with puberty and I became much more of a depressive.

      This is the first doctor or psychiatrist in the history of my life to ever tell me that I’m bipolar. At first, I thought he got his diagnosis wrong. “I can’t be bipolar, I’m not really manic. I don’t spend a lot of cash – well, not recently anyway – I don’t experience euphoric states quite often and I don’t have feelings of grandiosity. And I don’t engage in risky behaviors, you know. I don’t drink or do drugs. I’m a good girl. I can’t be bipolar.”

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Mood System

      “They have a chart and a graph/ Of my despondency/
      They want to chart a path/ For self-recovery/ And want to know/
      What I’m thinking / What motivates my mood” ~ Sara Groves, “Maybe There’s A Loving God”

      Mood chart

      October was a tumultuous month that will be reported about over the next couple of days. I ended up in a “behavioral” (see psychiatric) hospital for 7-8 days then on the 24th of October entered a day program (see intensive outpatient therapy) for 9 days. During the day program, I encountered a series of questions I had to answer each morning. The first and most important among them was rating our mood.

      The mood system worked on a numerical system from 0-10. The system varied between individuals, but here’s the system that I worked out in my head (using the day program’s guidelines somewhat):

      0 – Severely depressed, suicidal and/or homicidal, requires immediate inpatient treatment, unable to function (in daily activities)
      1 – Severely depressed, potentially suicidal and/or homicidal, should be closely watched, inpatient treatment may be necessary, unable to function
      2 – Severely depressed, somewhat suicidal and/or homicidal, should be occasionally monitored, no inpatient treatment necessary, unable to function
      3 – Moderately depressed, possible thoughts of suicide and/or homicide, should be occasionally monitored, great difficulty functioning
      4 – Mildly depressed, passing thoughts of suicide and/or homicide, monitoring recommended but not necessary, some difficulty functioning
      5 – Not depressed but not joyful either, in a state of existence, “emotionally numb,” no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, no monitoring necessary, some ability to function, borderline mood (potential for instant change to a 4 or 6)
      6 – Mildly joyful, content, no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, low functioning problems
      7 – Moderately joyful, upbeat, little to no functioning problems
      8 – Moderately joyful, happy, optimistic, positive, no functioning problems
      9 – Extremely joyful, happy, optimistic, cheerful, positive, “in a good mood,” “feel great,” no functioning problems
      10 – Extremely joyful, manic, happy, energetic, euphoric, optimistic, cheerful, self-confident, positive, excited, giddy, ability to function may vary (inability to no functioning problems)

      I’ll rarely be found at a 10. Most of the time I bounce between 4 and 7. 10 isn’t necessarily a problem as long as it’s not a mood that lasts consistently. It’s not out of the ordinary to feel a 10 on a wedding day or at a graduation, but waking up in the middle of a normal routine as a 10 is out of the ordinary — especially if someone is known to struggle with depression.

      So that’s my new mood system that will be now be found at the bottom of each entry. I hope it can help some people. I know it has certainly helped me and my husband.

      Mood: 6

      Update: This mood chart has been modified as of December 30, 2008.