Stigma Articles

Et tu, Gene Simmons? Oy vey!

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

genesimmons

Admission: I kind of like KISS music. I kind of like Gene Simmons. Some aspects of him, anyway.
I never joined the KISS Army like my husband did in the 70′s – wait, I wasn’t alive in the 70′s – but after 15 years of being married to a man who starts jumping around the room every time he finds out the band is going on tour, I’ve found a few tunes I actually enjoy.

I loved Gene Simmons Family Jewels. It was one of the funniest shows I think I’ve ever seen. It was rather satisfying seeing a guy who calls himself The Demon taken down a peg by his unimpressed family. Over time, I sort of started to respect Gene for all the work he does on behalf of the troops. Yeah, he’s a misogynist…maybe a narcissist…but he loves America. He appreciates it because of the new life it gave him and his mother – a holocaust survivor – when they immigrated here from Israel.

But last month he made these comments during a radio interview and people got angry, and for good reason:

“My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear f**k all about ‘the world is a harsh place.’ She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life,” he said. “And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say ‘I’m depressed, I live in Seattle,’ f**k you then kill yourself.”

“I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, ‘That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump,’” Simmons continued. “Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut … up, have some dignity and jump! You’ve got the crowd.

“By the way, you walk up to the same guy on a ledge who threatens to jump and put a gun to his head, ‘I’m going to blow your … head off!’ He’ll go, ‘Please don’t!’ It’s true. He’s not that insane.”

So Twitter totally blew up over this …


Dear Robin Williams

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

robinwilliams

Oh, Robin Williams. If you could see the enormity of your loss, I wonder if you would still be with us.
I wish you could see how much you were loved and how many people are devastated by your loss.

Some have labeled your suicide “selfish” but that is a purely empty, ignorant viewpoint. I won’t give those people any attention in this blog. Yes, you made the decision to end your life in the most technical sense, but the notion that you just dismissed your family and friends and decided they weren’t worth living for goes against everything I’ve read about you. I’ve been suicidal, Robin, and I understand your pain. My readers, I pray, understand your death and the fact that severe depression strips you of all logic and reason and blinds you to the many reasons you should stay alive.

No one wakes up and says, “I’m going to kill myself today, just because. I don’t feel like dealing anymore. To heck with everyone I love.”

If you don’t have depression, most problems are conquerable. I long to be one of those people. When the darkness descends, your brain – your illness – tells you there is no hope. Sometimes, the whisper of death in your ear turns into a scream and you think that, surely, if you are this miserable, you must be making everyone else in the world miserable, too.

Maybe that is the part that so many people don’t understand – that depression tells you that the world would be better off without you.

Maybe one of the things so many Christians don’t understand is that not every believer who commits suicide does so because they have given up on God. Rather, they feel that they have failed Him and are useless to Him. Of course it’s incorrect, but tell that to a malfunctioning brain. I don’t know where you stood with God, Robin, but I believe that His grace runs deeper than the grave.

I wish you’d had hope. I wish you could have drown out that scream. I wish you were here to make …


The World’s Most Eye-Opening Psychiatrist Appointment

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

spaceman

Finally, after more than a year, I got to see a psychiatrist yesterday. Forgive my negativity, but…I was not expecting much, and the good doctor did not disappoint. He did not exactly come highly recommended. He just happened to be taking new patients.

I was greeted with a half-hearted handshake, directed to a couch, and told in no uncertain terms that our appointment would be 45 minutes and not a minute longer.

“I’m going to ask you a lot of questions but don’t go into detail because we don’t have time for that. Going forward, you should know that all of your future appointments will be exactly 15 minutes. I will not spend time with you or really even check to see how you’re doing. I will check your medications and you will leave. I’m not saying it’s right, it’s actually very wrong, but that’s how we do it.”

It had already been a long day. My husband is sick. I drove with my parking brake on and thought there was something seriously wrong with my car for, like, 20 minutes before I figured it out. When I went to get gas, I pulled up to the pump on the wrong side…twice.

Remember that old country song, “Did I Shave My Legs for This”? I’ve been singing it in my head ever since I got home. Thirty seconds into my appointment and he had already done everything but win me over.

So he went over a long list of rapid-fire questions, none of which were out of the DSM. Nowhere in the DSM does it ask: “Do you talk to aliens or ghosts flying around your head?” Nowhere does it say: “Have you ever been found wandering the street naked and talking to yourself?”

If I hesitated for even a second on any of the questions, he motioned at me with his hands to hurry up. Everything was very black and white. No room for explanation or interpretation. He said there’s nothing wrong with being “crazy” or with choosing not to get treatment for being “crazy.”

He confirmed what I already …


Mixed Messages About Getting Help for Mental Illness

Monday, May 5th, 2014

mentalhealthaware

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views of PsychCentral.com.

I spoke to a friend last week who was in an emotional state of upheaval.
She has battled anxiety and depression for most of her life, has been prescribed numerous drugs, but never sticks with them long enough to find out if they work. She is starting to accept that she needs more help than just meditation and a Bible study at church.

She went to see a new psychiatrist (she moved to a different state several months ago) and he prescribed a brand new drug – one I’d never heard of, and that’s rare in my line of work. I’ve written about more drugs than you can shake a stick at, but this one hasn’t even caused a blip on my radar. That’s because, I found out, the drug is so new that no one has had a chance to file any lawsuits over it yet. (The sad but true reality.) My friend called me to find out what I knew, and I couldn’t help her.

Because the drug is so new, my friend’s insurance won’t pay for it. Her psychiatrist is trying to fix that, but in the meantime, the antidepressant is very expensive and my friend, because of her move, is short on cash and not sure how she’ll pay for it. She explained this to her psychiatrist, who gave her some samples and a coupon.

I am definitely concerned about the potential side effects of a brand new medication, but I’m more concerned that a psychiatrist has started my friend on a brain drug (because that’s what these things are, think about it) that she may or may not be able to keep up with. She is taking a pill that is altering her brain chemistry, and if she can’t afford to continue taking it…then what?

We live in a country of mixed messages when it comes to mental illness.
The list of psychiatric medication is growing and it’s not likely to slow down anytime soon.
The only time we hear about mental illness in America is when …


Know Your Medications, Options, and Risks

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Interest's ConflictsCreative Commons License David Goehring via CompfightNo drug is risk-free. Know your stuff before you pop that pill.

On May 5, 2006, I realized that I was happy. I remember the date because May 5 is my birthday, and there is no greater birthday present than the feeling of true joy. Maybe cash? I digress…

Up until that point, I’d struggled to find a combination of medication that helped my bipolar disorder AND helped me sleep. Insomnia has been my worst enemy for as far back as I can remember, and a lack of sleep just makes mental illness worse. But as I stood in the sunshine under a cloudless sky on that unseasonably warm morning, watching my nephew’s Little League team struggle to get a hit (they were only 5), I realized that my medication was actually working. I also realized that I had never felt that good before, which is sort of sad, considering I was 27. That’s a lot of years of unhappiness.

My “wonder drug” is Seroquel. Though it took a while to pair it up with Lithium and eventually Effexor, I knew the Seroquel was helping almost immediately. Of course, it made me gain about 50 pounds.

Oh, and I went from being pre-diabetic to full-blown diabetic. And it wasn’t always easy staying awake…which is part of the reason I’m not self-employed.

I write for a large national law firm based in New York City. I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the FDA and drug manufacturers. Drugs are a Godsend, but there is a downside to everything. For example, many people don’t realize that a new drug doesn’t have to go through any studies or clinical trials to be approved by health officials. Using an expedited approval process known as 510(k), the FDA can approve a new drug as long as the manufacturer can prove that it is significantly similar to another product already on the market.

In other words, if the new drug has …


Back to Reality

Monday, June 24th, 2013

techlesswayz_teko-sad

I’ve been away for a long time, some of you might have noticed. Gone and somewhat in hiding.


Mental Health Frustrations and Rethinking Church – Kinda

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

whitechurchcrpdThe Mental Health Grace Alliance published a blog post last week entitled 3 Frustrations of Mental Health and the Church; 3 Ways to Re:Think Church.

The post covers:

Spiritual Stigma
unfortunately, pastoral staff members grow frustrated when they don’t understand why their ministry methods are not working.  In response, they unknowingly go into “religious default” mode, which places the blame on the individual, rather than the ministry. Like Job’s friends, it’s assumed that this hardship/ problem is due to the individual’s sin, weak faith, or demonic oppression.  Then, the church often backs away.  One pastor was dealing with a person diagnosed with a mood disorder.  When the pastor didn’t see it go away, he said, “It’s because the sin issues of his youth are finally catching up with him … he just needs to will himself into better choices.”

This is the “biggie” that so many of us deal with. Sometimes it prevents us from seeking help because we already know what the reaction from others is going to be. In my case, these were things I believed about myself, but I didn’t realize other Christians would accuse me of them. How I was naive enough not to think that I will never understand. I have come to realize that I was never accused of deliberate sin or of being a bad person; when someone takes this angle with me, it implies that I have not surrendered my all to God. There is something I must be holding back from Him, and that is why I continue to struggle with emotional problems.

Spiritual Fix or Miracles … often times pastoral support will prescribe biblical counseling and intense discipleship to “overcome” or see “breakthrough”. Some will even insist on “deliverance” ministry or an intensive “inner-healing” ministry designed for immediate breakthrough. The idea is to have the individual do more constructive bible study, prayer, and intensive ministry for an immediate “breakthrough” to “overcome” … to “fix” everything. It forces the individual to “pray” or “believe” harder for a miracle breakthrough. We believe God can …


Talking Faith and Mental Illness

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

confessioncrpdMy friend, Amy Simpson, passed this along to me and today I want to pass it along to all of you.

From blogger and former psychiatrist Adrian Warnock:

The people who run Patheos have asked me to host a broad conversation about Mental Health including bloggers from across Patheos and beyond. You are invited to contribute by answering the question below any time this week. There are also two more questions which will follow.

Bloggers are asked to join in the discussion and answer the questions as they are posted. The first question is:

How has your religious community historically seen mental illness? – And how does your faith, today, shape the way you see mental illness?

Christians don’t have a good track record when it comes to mental illness. We used to assume that mental illness was nothing more than demon possession, and we banned people from church attendance and treated them like the devil itself. In all fairness, humanity, in general, does not have a great track record when it comes to mental illness. People fear what they don’t understand. But the fact that Christians’ reaction to people exhibiting confusing behavior was to treat them like yesterday’s trash is heart-wrenching and pathetic.

Understanding and acceptance has been a slow process for the Christian church. It still seems that while there have been major steps forward in most of society, the church continues to lag behind. Old habits die hard, old fears even harder. There are concepts in the Bible that have been twisted used to push mentally ill believers away (driving a herd of demon-filled pigs off of a cliff does not mean that’s how we should all respond to people with schizophrenia, and hopefully if you’re reading this you don’t believe that.)

My own church is a wonderful place that is on-board with modern-day medicine. They run a theophostic prayer ministry that I attended for some time, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover they believed not only in the existence of mental illness, but in treatment. No pigs careening off a cliff for me. My church believes in …


Wednesday’s Hope Round-Up

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

butterflyhope

Sorry for the week-long break, guys. I was not feeling well most of last week, so a hope round-up is a great way to start a fresh blogging cycle! First up…

Study: Believing in God Helps Treat Mental Health Disorders
I love it when science proves something I already know. :-) A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders says that people who believe in a “higher power” were more likely to see positive results from treatment. Researchers studied people with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and other disorders and found that “those who expressed believing in God between “moderate” and “high” had better chances of responding well to treatment, while those who said the do not believe in God or only believe in him slightly had a doubled risk of not responding to treatment.”


Rick Warren’s Petition of Hope

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

bubblecrpdIt’s a little late for Wednesday’s Hope Round-Up, but this story gave me a lot of hope: Rick Warren wants what we all want – to urge educators, lawmakers, healthcare professionals, and church congregations to raise the awareness and lower the stigma of mental illness … and support the families that deal with mental illness on a daily basis.

As you may know, Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, committed suicide on April 5 after a long battle with mental illness. Anytime someone uses their personal pain to ease the pain of others, its a reason to celebrate and have hope.


 

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