In the wake of several recent violent attacks across America, including three people killed at Jewish faith and community centers, the stabbing of high school students in Pennsylvania, and the shooting of soldiers at Fort Hood, it’s that time again for the media to question and explore gun control, the root of violence, and even adequate mental health care across the country.
Last post, I discussed the unwillingness of government authorities in the state of Florida to take an educated look at the needs of patients and consumers in the mental health system.
This is an unfortunate trend, locally and federally.
While most people with mental health disorders do not engage in violence, and are actually more often the victims of violent acts, it is clear, through the nearly periodic news of deadly shootings and stabbings, family tragedies, and lost lives, that we, as a society, are failing those that are mentally troubled.
I’ve experienced psychiatric units first-hand in Florida, and it is no surprise to me, both as a consumer with experience both inpatient and outpatient, that Florida is ranked 49th in the country in mental health funding.
This proposed law makes mental health care in Florida even more difficult to obtain. A disgrace.
Who should have a bigger influence on treatment decisions: the bipolar patient, or the psychiatrist?
Should it be equal?
If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know I am firing my psychiatrist currently looking for a new one.
Brief synopsis: I’ve been seeing her for a long time. Our medical relationship has grown uncomfortable. She thinks she knows what is right for me, and I do not feel she respects my input. We disagree about my treatment plan, and she, as the clinician, refuses to budge.
Listen, I know that psychiatrists know psycho-pharmacology and general medicine much more than I do, in terms of studying and clinical practice.
I am not suggesting that I don’t need a doctor.
Here in Florida, the weather is nearly perfect. The flowers, insects, and snakes (!) have already sprung.
Others are not so lucky. This week, my family members in western New York had a severe snow storm, and more snow is expected throughout the United States.
Although we didn’t feel it as much here, Winter 2013-2014 was bitter for most.
We were the only state in the lower 48 that didn’t get snow this year. However, we still noticed the colder temperatures and the inclement weather that created cloudy skies for days.
In Florida, we definitely notice when it is dark for more than 24 hours.
As I mentioned in a recent post, I just got health insurance.
I’ve managed my medication with the same Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) for years.
Lately I’ve become discouraged with her fast-paced office and unwillingness to budge on my disagreements with treatment.
Am I being irrational? Do I have the right to think this way?
Am I crazy, or just human?
I have doubted myself so much, dissected the illness so much, that I don’t know up from down.
I often can’t discern whether I am mentally sick or just going through a tough life change like anyone else.
“the greatest Americans
have not been born yet
they are waiting patiently
for the past to die”
It’s fairly official…
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I too have health insurance.
The first premium is withdrawn from my bank account, and I am enrolled. I am waiting for the cards, and I can start using benefits on March 1st, 2014.
I won’t accept it as completely official until I leave a doctor’s office with that insurance card.
Over time, the doses have increased, and the medication combination, or “cocktail”, has diversified.
With the increase in medication comes the inevitable increase in unpleasant side effects.
The following are my top five worst side effects from medications psychotropic medications, the type of medications I must take for the rest of my life to stay well:
I’m pretty sure lithium is the main culprit–I noticed symptoms of extreme thirst and pesky dry mouth shortly after being prescribed this “gold standard” for bipolar disorder.
Dry mouth is a side effect of many psychotropic medications.
Some of the suggestions I’ve received from clinicians include mouthwash for dry mouth and drinking an adequate amount of water.
The degree of thirst subsides a bit after the first few months, but what doesn’t subside is the milder but constant symptoms and the inability to handle too much summer heat or exercise in humid weather.
The higher the psychotropic dose, the more sensitive my stomach becomes.
After years of multiple medications, I have developed an irritable gastrointestinal tract and an increase in stomach aches.
I attribute some of my stomach issues to anxiety, but my symptoms also became worse as I climbed the ladder of more potent drugs and higher doses.
I’ve been told to eat a healthy diet, incorporate more fiber, drink a lot of water, exercise, and avoid problem foods.
I cannot take my medication “cocktail” without eating something. If I don’t eat enough, I get a terrible, burning stomach ache that I never experienced before I took psychotropic meds.
It’s side effects like this that make medication compliance difficult.
Everyone says your energy level decreases the older you get–but I am way too tired for 25.
I can’t keep up with my friends, and I need a considerable amount of sleep to function.
I can hardly stay awake past 12 hours of daily activity.
Since I decreased my medication a bit, I have noticed a spike in energy, and I think some improvement in diet and an increase in exercise would …
Last month, you read my post about opting for online psychotherapy sessions.
My therapist abruptly moved to Virginia just before the holiday season, and we decided to try therapy via Skype.
In the last month, I received both positive and negative feedback about online counseling.
A few therapists have suggested against it, which I respect greatly.
In contrast, consumers and family members have regarded it a bit differently.
Like some of my consumer friends, who are also members of Gen Y, I do not immediately see any issues with online counseling.
Everything I do these days is via Internet.
Only recently did I become familiar with the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
And now, I know why. This organization was formally NARSAD.
They were originally founded in 1987, and are paramount to the progress of treatment for bipolar disorder.
One of the most important things we can do to understand bipolar disorder is research.
We need to study the brain, medications, new technologies, and ways to better track and control our symptoms.
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded more than $300 million in over 4,000 NARSAD grants to more than 3,7000 scientists around the world.