Archives for July, 2011
My brain and body aren't listening to each other. I am 52-years-old but my brain still thinks I'm 21. Sometimes it thinks I'm still a kid. I'm in good shape but my body is decades ahead of my brain. For me, 50 is the new 10. Throw a healthy dose of mania on this communication breakdown and you have some very, very sore muscles, pulled ligaments and swollen joints. I have no off-switch and I don't know if I want one. The louder my brain shouts and less my body listens.
How long will I be like this? How long will this last? Maybe it will always be like this. Thank God. I went to see my nurse practitioner yesterday for my three-month check-up. She asked the usual: "So, how are you doing?" "I'm great," I said. "I have never been this good for so long. I keep waiting for it to end." She shrugged her shoulders and smiled. But seriously, how long will I be like this? How long will this last? I have never been this stable for so long. Life is good. I have patience and I have never been accused of being patient. I have contentment and serenity and all that goofy stuff they talk about in those self-help books. My nightly prayer before I go to sleep is one "Thank you God..." after another. How in the hell did this happen?
Today, across the world of psychiatry, pharmacology and the water cooler, yesterday's New York Times Opinion piece, In Defense of Antidepressants, will be discussed, debated, praised and torn to shreds. Which is why I would like to take a different tack and offer my take on the Times' recent coverage of mental illness. For the last few years the Times has published a stunning array of mental health related articles. The articles do not pander to that little slice of celebrity voyeurism we all secretly indulge. And they are devoid of fear-mongering sensationalism that follows every shooting-spree committed by a gunman "with a history of mental illness."
We are not alone...at least when it comes to stigmatizing depression. TWO in five people in Ireland would not want to know if a loved one was experiencing depression and almost a quarter of people still think depression is a “state of mind” rather than an illness, according to the 2011 Mental Health Barometer, commissioned by the pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck (developer of Lexapro). The report, released this week, has assessed Irish peoples’ attitudes towards depression, anxiety and mental health as well as the stigma since 2006. I don't know what the findings would be in the United States but it would not surprise me if the numbers were the same. What I find intriguing is the question: Would you want to know if a loved one was experiencing depression? I have read a lot of studies on stigma and depression but I have never heard that particular question posed in a study.
Where is Patrick Kennedy when we need him?! Recently, the folks drafting rules for the 9/11 Compensation Fund announced that the $2.8 billion fund created by Congress last year will not cover mental health problems caused by 9/11. The Special Master notes that as in the Fund’s first iteration, the statute limits eligible injuries to those consisting of ‘‘physical harm.’’ Accordingly, as in the Fund’s first iteration, the statutory language does not permit the Fund to cover individuals with only mental and emotional injuries, even if the mental and emotional injuries are covered by the WTC Health Program. Apparently, the fund's newly-appointed special master, Sheila Birnbaum, hasn't heard about the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). I understand that the statute governing the 9/11 Compensation fund governs her duties to disburse the money to deserving survivors. However, couldn't Birnbaum take a stand and argue that because the brain is a part of the human body - ergo "PHYSICAL" - that "mental and emotional" injuries should be covered - especially since the MHPAEA is now the law of the land? In the spirit of parity don't you think the government ITSELF should voluntarily commit to mental health parity when it comes to using tax dollars to provide ANY KIND OF HEALTH CARE!