Archive for December, 2012

Hey NRA! Stop calling us “monsters” and “lunatics”

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Is it me or does anyone else find it strange the NRA chief Wayne LaPierre repeatedly refers to violent people with mental illnesses as “lunatics” just three weeks after Congress overwhelmingly voted to ban the word “lunatic” from federal laws?

Who in his right mind would use the word “lunatic” during a national debate on reforming the mental health care system if he wants to be taken seriously  by the people with the power to change the mental health care system – ie, the lawmakers who just three weeks ago vowed not to use the word “lunatic?”

It’s kind of like using the N-word to describe African-Americans during a debate on Affirmative Action or Head Start Programs.

As someone with a couple of mental illnesses, I’m not feeling the love from the NRA when it suggests that the mental health care system in our country needs reform. I think my idea of reforming the mental health care system and NRA’s idea of reforms are probably a tad different. I realized this when LaPierre told David Gregory on Meet the Press this morning that “We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed. We have no national database of these lunatics.”

LaPierre continued:

“I talked to a police officer the other day. He said, “Wayne,” he said, “let me tell you this. Every police officer walking the street knows s lunatic that’s out there, some mentally disturbed person that ought to be in an institution, is out walking the street because they dealt with the institutional side. They didn’t want mentally ill in institutions. So they put them all back on the streets. And then nobody thought what happens when you put all these mentally ill people back on the streets, and what happens when they start taking their medicine.”

We have a completely cracked mentally ill system that’s got these monsters walking the streets. And we’ve got to deal with the underlying causes and connections if we’re ever going to get to the truth in this country and stop this–”

I agree wih LaPierre that our …

Guns and Mental Health: The Debate that Never Ends

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

The horrific details come first. Then we learn about the victims. Finally, we ask “Why?” That’s they way these mass-shootings come at us.

Mass shootings have become so common that we know what to expect in the aftermath. There will be vigils and the inevitable debate about gun-control and mental health.  Over and over and over the taking heads on television tell us what we need to do. We need gun control, they tell us. We need more education and treatment for mental illness. Yada, yada, yada.

The massacre at Columbine High School was 13 years ago! Thirteen years and what has changed? I could go out this afternoon and buy an assault rifle. On the mental health front, we continue to stigmatize mental illness. We still ignore the profoundly mentally ill roaming our streets. We wash our hands of young adults with personality disorders and severe mental illnesses, telling their weary parents that it’s their problem – not ours.

And then another mass shooting happens and we ask “Why?”

Holiday cocktail for depression

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Here is the perfect cocktail for depression: Stress; financial insecurity; family gatherings; that Feliz Navidad song playing endlessly in your head – and alcohol.

Welcome to the holidays. if you have depression you know you are just a few digs-from-the-in-laws away from losing it. Smothered by the goodwill and cheer we are supposed to feel, we sink. We drink. I used to take the edge off with spiked eggnog and champagne. I thought it would help me get that holiday spirit. It seemed to work for a few minutes. Then I plunged ever deeper and drank even more thinking it might make me feel better again.

I emerged from the New Year’s holiday emotionally and physically hung-over.  I beat up myself for the imminent bills and the 5 pounds I had gained. By February I was a wreck. Valentine’s Day brought me to tears.

Then I learned that I had been fertilizing my depression with alcohol. I did not know that alcohol is a depressant. Yes, alcohol does blunt the effects of stress hormones, but only for a while.

Then, it lowers serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that act as messengers, transmitting nerve impulse in the brain. Imbalances can lead to depression.

Sure there are antidepressants that can restore the balance of these neurotransmitters. But if you are taking an antidepressant and you continue drinking, your antidepressant cannot do its job. You become more depressed, you have wasted a bunch of money and you will begin that endless cycle of trying to self-medicate your depression with alcohol.

Before you head out to the next holiday party, read the label on your an antidepressant bottle. If it says “Do not drink alcohol,” then don’t. Remember, your in-laws will soon leave. You can lose that 5 pounds. However, if you slip into depression and can’t work, those bills will not get paid.

Besides, there are a lot of benefits to not drinking over the holidays. You’ll feel better. You’ll sleep better. You’ll have the patience to assemble complex toys. And, you”ll have a trove of memorable embarrassing moments about an …

Hoping for a Happy Ending
Check out Christine's book!
Hope for a Happy Ending: A Journalist's
Story of Depression, Bipolar and Alcoholism
Christine Stapleton

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