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.

Eli Lilly settles with U.S. Gov't for $1.42 billion over illegal Zyprexa off-label marketing

payoutYes, you read that right. Eli Lilly has reached a settlement for $1.42 billion with the U.S. government over the illegal off-label marketing of Zyprexa. The company also pleaded guilty to criminal misdemeanor charges. Basically this is how I see it:

U.S. Gov’t: Eli Lilly, you did a bad, bad thing by doing illegal things. Pay a fine, please, and then you can go.

Eli Lilly: Okayyyy. [reluctantly hands over $1.42 billion to the government]

U.S. Gov’t: [slaps Eli Lilly on the hand] Now, don’t you ever, ever do this again!

It’s a record settlement for a whistleblowing case. According to Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons, Eli Lilly has paid over $2.7 billion in settlement payouts so far. (With certainly more to come.)

depressive introspective

I’m not sure I’ll be posting many newsworthy items as much as I used to. I suppose I’m getting lazy in some respects. Maybe my brain is tired or not fully energized. I’m also going through a period in my life where I’d rather discuss my personal experiences and explore broader issues affecting my mental health (like emotional eating) rather than daily current events.

Grow with me. I may shift back to regular news and celeb updates but I don’t feel obligated to post on them right now. And I don’t feel any pressure to do so. I’m feeling particularly… introspective. 😉

Great blogs that analyze and post on current events can be found below (in no particular order):

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.

The Bipolar Child, Part I: Reactions

Newsweek If you haven’t been reading the news recently, Newsweek magazine published a feature article on Max, a 10-year-old who struggles mainly with bipolar and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders among other mental illnesses. I read the article and was astounded at what Amy and Richie Blake, Max’s parents, have to contend with. I’m astounded at what Max suffers with.

The article was educational but for all the 8 computer pages that I printed, I didn’t read about Max; I read about his diagnoses:

Max Blake was 7 the first time he tried to kill himself. He wrote a four-page will bequeathing his toys to his friends and jumped out his ground-floor bedroom window, falling six feet into his backyard, bruised but in one piece.

He cried for hours at a time. He banged his head against his crib and screamed until his face burned red. Nursing, cuddling, pacifiers—none of them helped.

Richie carried his son to the backyard and tried to put him down, but Max shrank back in his father’s arms; he hated the feel of the grass beneath his small bare feet. Amy gave Max a bath and turned on the exhaust fan; he put his hands over his ears and screamed. At 13 months, he lined up dozens of Hot Wheels in the same direction, and when Amy nudged one out of order, he shrieked “like you’d just cut his arm off.” At day care, he terrorized his teachers and playmates. He wasn’t the biggest kid in the class, but he attacked without provocation or warning, biting hard enough to leave teeth marks. Every day, he hit and kicked and spat.

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. In February 2005, under Frazier’s supervision, the Blakes took Max off all his meds. With the chemicals out of his system, Max was not the same child he had been at 2. He was worse. … Off his meds, Max became delusional and paranoid. He imagined Amy was poisoning him and refused to eat anything she cooked. He talked about death constantly and slept little more than two hours a night.

During a recent appointment at Frazier’s office, he went into full-fledged mania. Laughing wildly, he rolled on the floor, then crawled over to his parents and grabbed an empty medication bottle, yelling, “Drugs! I’ve got drugs! It’s child safety!” Richie grabbed it back, Max screamed, Richie threw the bottle across the room, as if playing fetch. Max squealed and dove for it, then began to sing into the neck of the bottle: “Booorn to be wiiiiild …” Amy rolled her eyes: “Two kids.” And then: “It’s hard not to laugh.” (I’m not the only one who doesn’t think this is mania.)

All throughout the article, I couldn’t help but think to myself: Who is Max? Max without meds — does he have a personality? What does like to do for fun, even for short periods of time? Karate is mentioned — does he read? He has trouble writing for long stretches. He’s got a friend. What makes Max so charming other than the fact that he’s 10 years old?

(Image from Newsweek)

Continue reading “The Bipolar Child, Part I: Reactions”

Furious Seasons's Spring Fundraiser

Since its September 2005 inception, Furious Seasons (www.furiousseasons.com) has been a resource for many people who may struggle with mental illness or know someone who deals with mental illness. Author Philip Dawdy has shed light on the dealings of pharmaceutical companies and provided keen insight on today’s psychiatric practices. His investigative journalism skills have helped educate thousands of people. As a result of his blog, I am aware of the negative effects that antipsychotics – namely Zyprexa and Seroquel — can have on people. Upon learning of his experience of Lamictal withdrawal and from the comments of others, I am much more aware of the potential side effects I may endure should I choose to taper off of the drug.

In keeping with the title of his blog, Dawdy has begun to host seasonal fundraisers to help maintain his site and support the extensive research he performs for the blog. His site is read by thousands on a regular basis and he needs all the support he can to keep his work going and the site functioning.

If you don’t read his site (and you should), please go to his blog (link above) and read some of his posts. After you’re done, I’m pretty sure you’ll realize what an asset he is for the mental health community.

Then, donate. It doesn’t matter how much — $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 — whatever you can give! He’s got a PayPal button on his site (just like I do, ahem) that you can click on to support his work. If you’re not comfortable with putting your credit card info on a Web site, he also accepts checks, money orders… whatever will clear in the bank.

By the way, Dawdy has helped me out in the past (yep, he too clicked on my PayPal button and helped me out when I needed it) and I intend to return the favor. A donation to his site helps this mental health patient — and many others — in return.

Thank you

Thank you, everyone, for your well-wishes and outpouring of support. I saw my psych today and he is adding 2-5 mg of Abilify to my medication regimen. He had me choose between Geodon and Abilify. Of course, I am hesitant to do this. Take a look at Philip’s post on Abilify and then take a look at CLPsych’s post about how Abilify performed against placebo. My psych pointed out that I did better on 200 mg of Lamictal but I distinctly remember feeling cognitive impairment on 200. The 150 seemed to work well for a while but I don’t know what’s happening. And to be quite honest, I’m always a little wary of alternative treatments even though I know they have helped so many people. I wonder if they are for me.

More thoughts soon…

Calls for VA's top official to resign

I’d been meaning to talk about this story but it’s progressed faster than my typing hands can keep up.

An e-mail sent around at the Veterans Health Administration among Dr. Ira Katz, the VA mental health director, and other officials, discussed the issue of hiding the number of suicides committed by veterans from the public—an estimated five out 18 of them being under VA care. Now, a number of senators (and bloggers) are calling for Katz’s resignation.

Continue reading “Calls for VA's top official to resign”

Another one biting the dust…

Bipolar Wellness Writer has mentioned that she will discontinue writing her blog in a few weeks. (UPDATED—See bottom of this post.) Furious Seasons and Soulful Sepulcher have mentioned various mental health blogs that have authors who either are considering the possibility of discontinuing their blog (The Trouble with Spikol), have gone on hiatus (Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery), have discontinued blogging (Been Broken (gone for now)) , or have deleted their blog altogether (Psych Survivor).

I answered Philip Dawdy’s questions about the recent spate of mental health blogs that are ceasing regular updates
. But I’m beginning to form my own questions as well. The common theme that I’ve read among many of these blogs is that the authors feel "held back" or that they need to move on with their lives or pursue other interests. Is writing about mental health issues—not just about personal experiences but in general—a burden that many people feel they no longer enjoy? Sort of like a job in which the work seemed enjoyable at first but has become too much to bear and it’s time to "quit" and move on?

I appreciate all of the bloggers who have contributed to the mental health blogosphere. I guess my main question is why the bloggers of political, technology, and celebrity blogs don’t feel that their blogs are holding them back. Is it perhaps the fact that these sites are more likely to make money? Or maybe Big Pharma owns so much of the corner market on generating ad revenue that mainstream outlets are hesitant to publicize anything that would criticize them. Or maybe mental health blogs are so personal that people feel as though they can’t continue to dwell on the past. I don’t have any answers this time. However, those who search Google for blogs regarding various topics on mental health can find these (unfortunately, they’re not all blogs):

UPDATE: Susan Bernard at Bipolar Wellness Writer responded to my comment on her blog:

Dear Marissa,
All may not be lost. Ever since I’ve written this post, friends have been suggesting ways to continue blogging–but not feel "stuck." So, I may change my mind. I’m noodling a bunch of ideas!

Thanks for your comment! I’ll let you know.

Susan

She’s also made a recent post in which she’s weighing her options and may consider changing her mind. (Thanks to BPD in OKC for tipping me off to this.)