The Holidays

How were your holidays?

Mine were tumultuous.

Let me explain: I had a week of mania and depression on and off. I’m more accustomed to calling it a “mixed state.” I’d be sad and suicidal one minute and then happy and elated the next. (Correlation with PMS currently unidentified. I’ll tell you my verdict in about three months.)

Example: I went to the mall with my husband and mother on New Year’s Day. I went to New York & Co., one of my favorite clothing stores, and grabbed a bunch of different clothes off the racks, knowing I didn’t have enough money to pay for anything that even fit. I didn’t have enough money for a $20 shirt. My husband said I was in every corner of the stores – which I don’t normally do – looking at nearly every single item (again, I don’t do this). I tried on all the clothes I’d picked up, promising my husband that I wouldn’t get them all and still walked to the register with about $75 worth of clothing. No, not a lot but neither he nor I had the money for them. I whipped out my debit card in an effort to deceive my husband and look like I could afford it. When the $75 total popped up, however, I quickly switched to my debt-laded Discover credit card. Alas, my mother came to the rescue and paid for the items as a Christmas gift. My husband had previously been asking me what I’d pay with and I kept insisting “a card” while not specifying which kind.

I was pretty happy, cheerful, joyful – I’d go so far as to say euphoric (I rarely use that term in relation to myself). I raced around the store, excessively happy, and chatted up a storm. My husband warned my mother that an imminent crash lurked around the bend.

He just didn’t know how soon.

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Loose Screws Mental Health News

VNSCyberonics has its vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) while Neurontics is attempting to promote its Neurostar. The Food and Drug Administration will consider whether Neurontics’ device will be able to compete with Cyberonics’ device on Jan. 26. The VNS, according to FDA standards, is the only device that has been proven to show efficacy in depression treatment for those who do not respond to drug treatment. While the VNS is surgically implanted in the chest and stimulates nerves in the neck to alleviate depression, Neurontics claims that Neurostar is not surgically implanted and uses magnetic pulses over the course of three to six weeks to stimulate a patient’s brain.

In the most shocking news ever, the Australian Mental Health Council has found that marijuana can induce mental illness. [sarcasm] Former Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer has noted three significant conclusions from the MHC report: Cannabis use can:

  • increase the risk of mental illness in young adults, namely with those who have a family history of psychosis
  • make any current mental illness worse
  • induce poor education and employment outcomes

This report once again reminds us, kids, that we must always say no to drugs. Especially if you’re mentally ill.

Girl, InterruptedAn article from the UK Guardian points out that Hollywood’s depiction of mental illness is NOT what people experience on a normal basis. Tim Lott states the reality of mental illness quite well:

“Genuinely accurate depictions of mental illness are still rare in all the art forms. Why? For the very good reason that real mental illness is boring. Depressives are toxic and dull. Manic depressives are irritating. People with schizophrenia or autism are largely indecipherable.”

Just in case you didn’t know, depression can be a problem during the holidays. Oh and p.s. from the article: those who abuse anti-depressants are more likely to commit suicide. You know… just in case you were wondering. Amy Alkon at the Advice Goddess Blog rightly shoots down the holiday-suicide increase myth.

NBC5 in Chicago has reported that “brain music” can help fight depression. Brain waves are recorded through an EEG (electroencephalogram) and then the recordings are turned into a music CD containing two files. According to Dr. Galina Mindlin, who introduced the therapy to the U.S. from Russia, says one file helps a patient relax and the other file helps increase “concentration, performance and productivity.” Mindlin adds that the “relax” music helps decrease anxiety levels in a patient and helps the patient fall asleep and stay asleep. The treatment, according to NBC5, has been used in Europe for the past 15 years, but is not widely available in the U.S. BUT if you’re itching to try it, you’d better have some dough in your pocket: it’s not covered by insurance and costs $550.