Quote of the Week

I can endure my own despair, but not another's hope. — William Walsh

The local church fails in assisting those with mental illness

Baylor University performed a study on how the churches help those who suffer from mental illness and found that they are not the most helpful places. PsychCentral notes:

churchBaylor University researchers built upon a 2008 study that found nearly a third of those who approached their local church in response to a personal or family member’s previously-diagnosed mental illness were told they really did not have mental illness.

In the new study, investigators discovered individuals experiencing depression and anxiety were dismissed the most often.

It seems that the local church has a long way to go in assisting those who suffer from mental illness. I am very thankful for CCEF that intends to “restore Christ to counseling and counseling to the church.” Here’s a blog post from Tim Lane, executive director of CCEF, in which he provides “four reasons to incorporate counseling into the local church.” And here’s another post by Mr. Lane on guidance for churches seeking outside help for counseling.

Quote of the Week

You should pray for a sound mind in a sound body.— Juvena

Quote of the Week

“It seemed like this was one big Prozac nation, one big mess of
malaise. Perhaps the next time half a million people gather for a
protest march on the White House green it will not be for abortion
rights or gay liberation, but because we’re all so bummed out.” —
Elizabeth Wurtzel

Quote of the Week

“For me being depressed means you can spend all day in bed, and still not get a good night’s rest.” — Unknown

Lamictal-free and lovin’ it

freeI’ve been off of Lamictal for the past month and a half thanks to a wonderful supportive mental health community of bloggers. I’ve replaced my Lamictal dosage with 1000 mg of Omega-3s derived from fish oil capsules. So far, so good. I haven’t felt suicidal although I do admit I’ve caught myself wanting to feel suicidal. Believe me when I say it’s significant progress to go from feeling suicidal to wanting to feel that way. (By the grace of God.) Special thanks goes to Gianna at Beyond Meds and Stephany at soulful sepulcher.

I haven’t blogged on mental health lately because I haven’t had much to blog about. Any attempt at regular blogging now is mostly done at This Journey Is My Own, which is distinctively personal, reflective, and an unabashedly Christian blog. I guess it can be considered a scrapbook. Thoughts and rambles flowing freely through the blog. I don’t have the attention span, dedication, and motivation to do anything like I used to with depression introspection. I’m not averse to updating this blog every now and then but the months with 80-some odd posts are now gone. The Quotes of the Week should continue updating through early 2010. Enjoy.

Quote of the Week

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever
situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the
greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions,
and not upon our circumstances. — Martha Washington

World Suicide Prevention Day

Commemorating World Suicide Prevention Day by living yet another day. There was a time when I didn’t want to live so this is a big accomplishment for me. Now, the script:

Learn more about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide through the “It’s On My Mind” page: http://www.facebook.com/itsonmymind.

Check out other World Suicide Prevention Day activities at http://www.iasp.info.

To learn more about mental health conditions and suicide, visit one of The Jed Foundation’s sites at http://www.jedfoundation.org, http://www.ulifeline.org or http://www.halfofus.com. You’ll find links to many other resources through these sites. If you or someone you know needs help immediately, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Quote of the Week

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” — Bill Clinton

WebMD brought to you by…

… the makers of Seroquel XR. Just sayin’. (Click on the image to bring it full size.)

webmd home page 9-3-09

Quote of the Week

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in
which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to
yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing
that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do. —
Eleanor Roosevelt

Christopher Pittman seeks new trial

Christopher PittmanFrom Furious Seasons:

I simply don’t know what to make of the case of Christopher Pittman who was convicted of shooting his grandparents to death when he was 12-years-old–except that it argues for how risky it is to put young children on anti-depressants. Pittman, sentenced to 30 years in prison, is seeking a new trial and a hearing on that matter is underway in South Carolina.

You can read more about the Zoloft-rage/violence connection is relation to Pittman’s case.

Quote of the Week

It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. — J. K. Rowling

In Suicide’s Shadow

Quote of the Week

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. — George Eliot

Quote of the Week

I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision. — Eleanor Roosevelt

Day 3: Lamictal-free.

jump for joyI stopped taking Lamictal on August 1. After going down to the 12.5 mg, I would wake up in the mornings feeling clear-headed and energetic and then take the 12.5 mg dose and suffer from brain fog and feel lethargic. I took the 12.5 for about 4 days then stopped. I think it was necessary for me to be on the 12.5 mg dose at first but I think my body adjusted to the lack of Lamictal in my body quite quickly and does well without it. Instead, I now take about 900 mg of Omega-3 capsules 2-3 times a day to assist in regulating mood. Should I get pregnant, I am OK with continuing that regimen.

So I’m on my third day without Lamictal and haven’t noticed any side effects except for having a terrible energy crash yesterday which caused me to go to bed at 8 pm. (However, I have noticed an overproduction of eye gook in one eye and visual blurriness. Not sure if it’s related to the medication though.) I’m actually scared because I feel like I have newfound freedom—a new lease on life, if you will. I am now responsible for my thoughts and actions. Technically I always have been but I have no medication to blame for anything now. It’s all me. After being on Lamictal for close to three years, it’s kind of scary. The potential for withdrawal effects still exists (especially the possibility of that nasty rash) but with each passing day, the likelihood is less and less.

Part of me is excited. This is a new chapter in my life. Who am I without Lamictal and its associated brain fog? Will I get my creative juices back? Is my severe depression gone? For how long will my suicidal thoughts stay away? Will my manic/mixed-mood episodes return with a vengeance? What in my body chemistry will change?

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Week

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. — Ben Stein

Lamictal’s withdrawal effects at 12.5 mg

Half of 25 mg LamictalI’m at half the starting dose now. This means my body still has trace amounts of the drug but it’s so low that it’s not really effective. Here are the side effects I’ve been experiencing:

  • Major brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Dizzy spells
  • Lethargy (ie, no energy)

I’m also having trouble losing weight but I can’t say for sure if that’s attributable to the medication. If you were on Lamictal or are on Lamictal, what side effects have you experienced?

Ladies & Gentlemen

Landing plane

We are now beginning our descent into Lamictal-free Airport. Please make sure your previous medications are stowed and that your side effects are fully behind you.

At this time, we request that you turn off all dependence on psychiatric devices.

Federal regulations require that you put your seat belt on in the event of any side effects. We hope you enjoyed your flight on GSK Airlines and hope to see your business again on a future medication.

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, we are now at 12.5 mg and are beginning our descent into Lamictal-free Airport.

(Photo source: Wired.com)

Quote of the Week

The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice. — Abbe' D'Allanival

Quote of the Week

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by
people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
— Dale Carnegie 

The MOTHERS Act: Read it for yourself

Mom and infantI’ve written about the MOTHERS Act in the past but recently there has been much debate swirling around it. There are those actively against it (Amy Philo, Doug Bremner) and those actively for it (Katherine Stone, John Grohol). I’m going to refrain from voicing my personal opinion on the act from here on out since I’m seeing tensions run rather high and I don’t care to have those tensions directed at me.

But I haven’t seen anyone link to the Congressional bill recently so before engaging in debate, I encourage people to read the actual bill for themselves and come to their own conclusions. It’s actually short (unlike our current 1,000-plus-page universal healthcare bill) and a relatively easy (see “understandable”) read.

S. 324 the most recent version I know of. If there’s a more recent version, please comment to let me know.

A question for depression sufferers

Do you work and struggle with depression? How do you handle your really low days? I'm finding it almost impossible to get through the day and feel like the world is caving in on you?

Good news for you

I'm getting lazy so I might stay with Typepad for a while. How I'll fund the $12/month crack habit is yet to be determined.

By the way, if you're receiving this via blog feed and haven't seen my actual photo yet, it's up now. If you're following me on Twitter or a Facebook friend (or know me in person!), it's nothing new.

Lamictal withdrawal: not over yet

People have been asking how my withdrawal has been going lately. Well, I’m not out of the woods yet.

I’m down to 25 mg and will probably be ultra-conservative and taper down to 12.5 mg. I might even be a real coward and do 10 mg for 2 weeks then 5 mg for 2 weeks.

Overall, I’ve been fatigued and I suffer from feeling slow and stupid. I guess that would be a lack of mental clarity. A few people have told me they already miss the blog’s news and regular updates. Truth be told, I put hours of time and research into those things and I no longer have the energy or the brain power for any of it anymore. I haven’t even been able to work on my novel recently. I don’t have the concentration to read a book all the way through.

All I can do now are mindless tasks like Twittering or taking “What Britney Spears song are you”?” quizzes on Facebook. I love crossword puzzles and Sudoku and even those have become a challenge for me recently.

All I want to do these days is exist. And simply existing bothers me because then it feels like I have no purpose.

I’m also more prone to negative thoughts.

I could go on and on but that about sums it up.

Quote of the Week

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." — Albert Camus

Quote of the Week

“Sometime in your life you will go on a journey. It will be the longest journey you have ever taken. It is the journey to find yourself.” — Katherine Sharp

Quote of the Week

"Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them." — Russell H. Conwell

Song of the Week: Smile

On Michael Jackson's album, HIStory, he did a remake of Charlie Chaplin's song "Smile." I think it's absolutely beautiful and when I was depressed as a teenager, I would listen to this song, hoping it would give me strength. I smiled for as long as the song was on. When it was over, I was empty again.

Thank you, Mike, for making me smile many times in my life. "I will never let you part, for you are always in my heart."

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

My childhood pop star has died. I am grieving for his family. May God have mercy on his soul.

Quote of the Week

"We cannot go back and make a new start, but we can start now to make a new ending." — Author Unknown

Quote of the Week

"To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world." — Casey   

Quote of the Week

"One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other's stories." — Rebecca Falls

Quote of the Week

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Con te partirò

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about this blog, mainly since I haven’t been blogging. If you’ve emailed me, I haven’t answered because I haven’t logged in to the email associated with this account. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that it may be best to terminate this blog.

You can continue breathing. I will not hit the delete button tomorrow. Or the day after even. I have—what I consider to be—a wealth of information stored in this blog and I hope to export the posts I have and import them into another site. It’ll be an extremely long and arduous process, especially since I will need to update all internal links. Despite the immense amount of time I’ll be putting into doing this, moving this blog to a free blog host will save myself $12 a month. Twelve dollars is a lot to spend for only regularly publishing Quote of the Week and not having a paying job right now.

I have also dropped off the face of the blogosphere. I have not been able to keep up with many of you—as interesting as you all are!—and this has led me into feeling guilty and also kept me away from blogging.

I recently finished reading a book called The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero for the women’s Bible study I attend on Wednesday mornings. He outlines six principles for an emotionally healthy church but I believe those principles can be applied to being an emotionally health person as well. The principle that spoke to me most was Principle 4: Receive the Gift of Limits.

Within Principle 4, Scazzero discusses “Learning to Discern My Limitations.” He expands on the following points:

  • Look at your personality.
  • Look at your season of life.
  • Look at your life situation.
  • Look at your emotional, physical, and intellectual capacities.
  • Look at your negative emotions.
  • Look at your scars and wounds from your family past.

I’ve evaluated these points in my life and am learning to discern my limitations. The season of life and life situation I had when I began this blog is much different than what it is today. I had less responsibilities, struggled significantly more with depression and suicidal thoughts, and had more time on my hands to blog and research. (And Facebook didn’t seem so appealing back then!)

Your season of life is also a God-given limit. Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time or season for everything under heaven: There is “a time to plant and a time to uproot … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:1–8).

I planted this blog back in July 2006 and boy did I ever speak. Now, I am silent and it is time for me to uproot. This blog has served its purpose and I would like to relocate it somewhere where it can continue to serve as a resource for people. I know I have many links throughout the web that will become inactive and broken. I will lose readership. I will need to rebuild a blog presence should I choose to continue writing about mental health issues. I have not lost my interest in writing about the subject; my season of life and life situation currently limit it. I must devote my precious time and energy to my novel now. And my personality—that guilty feeling that haunts me for not blogging and reading others’ blogs like I used to—cannot handle it right now. I am learning to discern my limitations. I have reached my limit with this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quote of the Week

"Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities — always see them, for they're always there." — Norman Vincent Peale  

Quote of the Week

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." — James Baldwin 

Quote of the Week

"Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." — Confucius 

(no subject)

One of my many paternal aunts, who lived in Montréal, Canada, died in early April. I wasn't extremely close to her but she would call to check in with me and send me birthday cards. I'd also see her in New York during the holidays at family gatherings.

She was one of my aunts who suffered from schizophrenia/paranoia but improved with medication.

I always felt a little weird calling her because I never knew what to say. I didn't know much about her other than the fact that she traveled a lot. Her speech and her English were tough to understand at times but she had remarkably improved both over the years.

A few minutes ago, I was cleaning out one of my document bins and came across a list of questions I wrote down to ask her so I could steer conversation next time I talked to her. Her phone number was prominently scrawled at the bottom.

So I dialed it. The phone rang and rang and rang. Hope fluttered in my heart, waiting to hear her voice, mixed with anticipation that someone totally different would answer it.

An automated operator broke in to tell me in French that the number was disconnected and out of service. If I needed assistance, press "0" for help.

I hung up. She really is gone.

Quote of the Week

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." — General Schwarzkopf  

Fail Fridays

Quote of the Week

"Changing directions in life is not tragic; losing passion in life is." —Max Lucado 

Quote of the Week

"The need to find meaning … is as real as the need for trust and for love, for relations with other human beings." — Margaret Mead

Quote of the Week

"Each of us wages a private battle each day between the grand fantasies we have for ourselves and what actually happens." — Cathy Guisewite

Should psych drugs be avoided at ALL costs?

My brain isn’t functioning today quite honestly so my apologies if the following makes no sense whatsoever. It’s long and I ended up rambling.


Lately, I’ve been thinking about whether there are any benefits to using pharmaceutical drugs. I have blogger friends who are very much anti-pharmaceuticals anything, try to avoid drugs as much as possible but take them if necessary, or think pharmaceutical drugs are a Godsend.

I’m still trying to figure out where I stand.

Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money. It is not to their advantage to put out completely shoddy products that do not work. I’m sure many of them bury negative data and findings that do not shed a positive light on their drugs but if something works overall, they’ll put it out there. I don’t believe the doctors who are involved in these trials are all dirty, rotten sell-outs. Some of them are very well-meaning and honest who work to make these drugs as effective as possible. Call me naïve if you like but I just can’t bring myself to believe there are more greedy docs who skew results than there are those who are concerned with advancement.

I don’t think twice about popping Excedrin Migraine when I’ve got a painful, debilitating migraine; I have no problem taking naproxen (aka Aleve) when I’ve got menstrual cramps, and taking ibuprofen isn’t an issue if I have severe muscle pain. I don’t question the safety of these drugs. I’ve used them for so long, they’ve proven to be relatively safe for me (not everyone can tolerate those drugs) and efficacious. The safety risk of taking Excedrin Migraine sometimes outweighs the benefits of not taking it. (Note: I only speak of adults in terms of ingesting this kind of medication.I don’t believe developing bodies, such as youngsters, are able to handle medication that can significantly affect mood.)

When it comes to psych meds, I am not anti-medication. Psych meds should be taken on a case-by-case basis. There are some people who consider these meds to be a life-saver while others complain that it has made them miserable and worsened their lives. This is the gamble people take when choosing to ingest a psych med—most people don’t know that. Trouble is, most people don’t know when the stakes are high enough to take that risk.

I shouldn’t be in a position to judge anyone but when I hear people taking antidepressants based on circumstances—a job loss, failed relationship, loss of a life—I worry that it’s unnecessary. We are becoming a nation that is more reliant on “quick fixes” rather than developing coping mechanisms. It’s easier to pop a pill and dull your emotions than it is to face problems, tackle issues head on, and learn to work your way through it. Case in point: rising unemployment hasn’t slowed sales of antidepressants or sleeping pills.

  • I have an aunt who was a violent paranoid-schizophrenic. She was placed in a mental institution and drugged up the wazoo. Now, she’s basically existing; the lights are on but no one’s home. The drugs have killed her. She’s alive but not really.
  • My father was a non-violent paranoid-schizophrenic. It got to the point where we needed to medicate him to get him on track. The medication helped him to function “normally” but his thought processes and physical ability was significantly slowed. He once told me that he felt useless because my mother was busting her butt at work to pay for my college and he was basically an invalid because his mental illness had prevented him from being able to work. He died 4 months later. A few days after the funeral, my mom began to find his psych meds hidden all around the house. I often wonder if the drugs killed him.
  • Another aunt (this is all on the paternal side of the family) also became a paranoid-schizophrenic. She was a brilliant woman who was basically reduced to moving from place to place to the point where she eventually became homeless and could not hold down a job. She disappeared for a while but during one cold winter, was found and brought into a homeless shelter. She was placed on meds and her cognitive functions returned despite the fact that her speech was sometimes garbled. She traveled the world, went on cruises and various excursions. The change was remarkable. Psych meds improved her life and saved her—the benefits of the drugs outweighed the side effects.

As I withdraw from Lamictal, I am curious to see who I am without this drug. Will my creative juices flow freely once again or are they now somewhat hindered? Will my cognitive functioning correct itself or will I forever suffer from problems? Will my short-term memory loss issues smooth out or will I still suffer from intermittent forgetfulness? I have some side effects that may remain with me for a while or perhaps forever (though I hope not) but seeing others fully recover after taking drugs for 10 times longer than I have gives me hope.

I feel the majority of my progress has come from intensive counseling and being infused with the truths as laid out in the Bible. I’d say 90% of my progress has been due to counseling. I give the meds 10%. You can tell I don’t place much stock in them. But they’ve helped to cut down on the mixed episodes.

So far, I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts are behaviors that are out of the ordinary. (Thank GOD.) I’ve been dealing with a mild depression but that stems from basing my worth based off of my career rather than any biological imbalances. The last time I suffered a severe depression, I was on Lexapro (if that tells you anything).

I’ve gotten a lot of resistance and concern from family members who question my decision to come off of the medication. They’ve seen a miraculous change in me and attribute it to being on meds. Meds aren’t a cure-all. They don’t see the counseling and shifting of thought processes going on that has helped me to develop coping mechanisms. Meds may help people “cope” but they don’t develop the tools needed to cope.

I’ve decided that I’ll probably give that Christian psychiatrist a call. My counselor recommended him and she said that he’s very neutral on meds and doesn’t shove them on anyone. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if anyone would accept me as a patient only to lose me in the end—she insisted he wouldn’t mind. The intake cost is hefty but since I was able to temp a few days for my job this week—I’m not permanently returning, I can swing it.

Which brings me back to my position on psych meds: I said it earlier but I think it’s a case-by-case basis. In my personal life, I’ve seen the benefits outweigh the side effects and I’ve seen the side effects outweigh the benefits. And I’ve seen benefits (not necessarily beneficial) as a result of side effects. Psychiatry is the biggest medical guessing game of all medical specialties. There are no certainties, and there’s no one medication that works best for everyone. Pharmaceutical companies make it a point to put the disclaimer on the patient information sheet that they’re not exactly sure HOW these drugs work. All that stuff about serotonin, dopamine, and neurotransmitters is pure speculation when it comes to depression. You’ll have me convinced about chemical imbalances once I can get a MRI and blood test done. Until then, it’s all trial-and-error.

So if I do suffer from relapses while withdrawing from this medication and it gets to the point where I may need to be hospitalized, I’m not averse to remaining on the drug. Better to be alive and on a psych drug than dead because I was determined not to use it at risk to my safety. If I end up having to stay on the drug, the future of giving birth to children will seem a bit more uncertain.

Quote of the Week

"We are all pilgrims on the same journey, but some pilgrims have better road maps." — Nelson DeMille

15 seconds of fame

Recently I’ve been a pretty active participant in the Six Apart section of the Get Satisfaction community. I suppose you could call me a Six Apart fangirl (kinda like Apple has their fanboys). (Full disclosure: Technically, I’ve been a long-standing of user of Six Apart’s services beyond this blog since I’ve owned a paid LiveJournal account since 2003.)

Although I pay to use Typepad’s services, I wholeheartedly recommend them — especially since their customer support has been incredible. I have tried other free blogging services and prefer Typepad. I enjoy providing feedback with the products I use and Get Satisfaction has provided just the means to do so. It’s been worth the money.

As a result of my active participation, I was asked to be quoted in a press release about Six Apart’s budding social community to which I enthusiastically agreed to. You can read it here.

So I’ll probably get a bit more traffic in the next couple of days and I haven’t posted anything worthwhile. Other than maybe this. Boo.

So here’s a greatest hits collection to browse through in the meantime:

Update: I’m still here; nothing new to report

I’m still here; I’m still around. I haven’t had much desire for blogging or anything of the sort. I am still plugging away at my novel. I’m getting involved in a local writer’s group and praying to God that I’m not taking on too much.

I’m back up to 100 mg. The 90 mg actually threw me for more of a loop than I’d intended. It might have been that combined with an attempted jog but at the urging of a friend, I will try to take this as slow as possible.

I’m also trying to resolve some spiritual issues so we’ll see where that takes me.

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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