Archives for General

Alcoholism

4 reasons why addicts should not trust doctors

One

Last month I went to the emergency room with tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. I answered a bunch of questions about my medical history, told them about my depression and bipolar, the meds I am on and made it clear that I am a recovered alcoholic/addict and that I do not want to be given any medications that might cause me to relapse.

The doctor came, looked at my chart, looked at me and asked if I was in pain. I said no, just uncomfortable tightness and shortness of breath. .

"Do you have any pain?" the doctor asked.

"I'm going to give you some Ativan. It will help you relax," the doctor said.

"No you're not," I said. "I'm a recovered alcoholic/addict and I don't take benzos."

"Why?" the doctor asked.

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General

How to screw up taking antidepressants

Once a week I refill my pill box. I take two antidepressants and one mood-stabilizer, along with a handful of supplements - fish oil, glucosamine, daily vitamin etc.

One-by-one I take each bottle out of a basket, open it, deposit the pills in their daily nook and put the bottle back into the basket. I take my medications without fail and I have done this little routine countless times over the years.

Last week I screwed up. Big time. I forgot to put one of my antidepressants in the mix. It took five days and a swan dive into my black hole before I realized this. I probably would have discovered this faux pas sooner if I had been paying attention but I have been under a lot of stress lately and it has been difficult to focus on anything for long.
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General

Why you don’t know how much mental illness and drug abuse is really in your community

It's Sunday night. I am sitting at my desk in the newsroom. I am a reporter and every couple of months I pull a weekend shift. The newsroom is quiet and I can hear the police scanners clearly.

During the day, with all that's going on in the newsroom, the scanners are just white noise. The cop reporters pay attention but to the rest of us, they are annoying.

If you want an idea of how much mental illness and substance abuse is out there, listen to the police scanners in a major metropolitan area, like South Florida, where I work. Some agencies use human dispatchers but many of the calls are announced by a computer with a Siri-esque voice.
Rescue 12. Responding to area 19. Overdose intoxication. 123 Main Street. Tac 2a.
Rescue 6. Responding to area 12. Suicide attempt. 456 Main Street. Tac 6.
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Coping with Depression

Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression?

Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression?

There's George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It's a Wonderful Life. Then there's Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree.

Let's not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can't keep his halo on straight, can't sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis' Blue Christmas and Do They Know It's Christmas about people starving in Africa.
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Alcoholism

Six rules I follow to avoid depression during the holidays

Yesterday, as I was sitting on the front porch I was smacked upside the head by a Hallmark moment. An SUV with license plates from another state pulled in the driveway of the family across the street. I love having this family and their little ones across the street.

From the SUV spilled little cousins and what looked to be an aunt and grandmother. Their front yard was filled with hugs and babies on hips and...
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anxiety and dreams

How much sleep is enough/too much when you have depression

The first thing my psych-nurse practitioner said on my first visit during my last major depression was this:

"First, we need to get you some sleep."

What? I expected her to say anti-depressants - at the time a major fear of mine. But sleep? Really?

I immediately decided that I liked this woman because her top priority was something natural - sleep. Although she did prescribe a very low dose of Seroquel to help me sleep soundly, I liked her recognition of the body's own ability to heal itself.

Plus, I hadn't had a really good night's sleep in a long time. And I really, really like to sleep.
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Dual-Diagnosis

Why can’t we understand the link between teens, drugs and depression?

I just read an article that suggested teens with mental illnesses should be screened for substance abuse.

To which my inner teen said, "D'uh!"

The article also suggested that treatment for  SUD and MI in teens should be integrated and not on parallel tracks.

"Double D'uh!"

I can't believe that articles like this still are written. Did we learn nothing from Curt Cobain?

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General

Disney’s Inside Out: Learning to feel your feelings at the movies

I went to see Disney new movie, Inside Out, on Friday and it blew...my...mind.

It's the story of an 11-year-old girl, Riley. She's an only child and lives with her parents in Minnesota. Her father get a job in San Francisco and the family moves. As Riley struggles with her feelings during the move and starting a new school, we get a glimpse into the emotions driving her feelings.

There are five emotions and each is represented by a little cartoon character. The fivesome works together as Riley's emotion committee and - lucky for Riley - Joy is the leader. Other members include Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness.

The five of them gather around a Starship Enterprise-ish console with lots of buttons and take turns - or sometimes just butt-in and take control. Throughout Riley's day, the emotions generated by a specific event is transformed into a little orb - colored accordingly: Red for anger; green for disgust; blue for sadness; purple for fear' and yellow for joy.

The little orbs are stored in Riley's long-term memory - a massive labyrinth in Riley's brain. Riley also has five core memories. These are very, very special and joyful memories and you don't want to lose these. But, the committee does and Joy and Sadness go after them.
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Alcoholism

I have depression and alcoholism. So what?

I find people generally have three reactions when I tell them I am a recovered alcoholic with Bipolar II. They either tell me that they or a loved one has struggled with a mental illness, begin talking about the weather or look at me like I just told them I have a stripper pole in my bedroom - which I don't.

I can pretty much tell how they feel about mental illness by their reaction. When someone responds with their own experience, I listen. It's such a comfort to have someone else willing to share their own experience. As for the weather response, I chime in with my own thoughts about the weather.

The last thing I want to do is make someone uncomfortable discussing mental illness. I figure I've planted a little seed in their mind that it's okay to talk about mental illness. It's their responsibility to let it grow - or die.

The stripper-pole response? Well, that's a little trickier. I take into consideration the context in which the topic arose during our conversation and the person's attitude before I made my revelation.

If they were being a smart-ass about someone else's mental illness or treatment, I throw it right back at them. I've always been what my father called a weisenheimer, (think Curly in the Three Stooges.)
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General

How the media covers suicide: Day 1

Covering Suicide and Mental Illness is a three-day seminar for journalists sponsored by The Poynter Institute, The McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute and the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Here are my thoughts on issues covered during today's session. #suicidereporting
What the DSM is to mental health, the AP Stylebook is to journalism. The Stylebook is our Bible. It not only tells us where and when to put our commas, it provides journalists with a uniform set of rules for grammar, principals and practices.

The Associated Press first published the Stylebook in 1953 and updates it every year. On March 7, 2013 - three months after the Sandy Hook school shooting - the AP added an entry on mental illness to the Stylebook. Below is an excerpt from the guidelines, the new industry standard:
mental illness Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced.

When used, identify the source for the diagnosis. Seek firsthand knowledge; ask how the source knows. Don’t rely on hearsay or speculate on a diagnosis. Specify the time frame for the diagnosis and ask about treatment. A person’s condition can change over time, so a diagnosis of mental illness might not apply anymore. Avoid anonymous sources. On-the-record sources can be family members, mental health professionals, medical authorities, law enforcement officials and court records. Be sure they have accurate information to make the diagnosis. Provide examples of symptoms.

Mental illness is a general condition. Specific disorders are types of mental illness and should be used whenever possible: He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to court documents. She was diagnosed with anorexia, according to her parents. He was treated for depression.

Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.

Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness.

Avoid unsubstantiated statements by witnesses or first responders attributing violence to mental illness. A first responder often is quoted as saying, without direct knowledge, that a crime was committed by a person with a “history of mental illness.” Such comments should always be attributed to someone who has knowledge of the person’s history and can authoritatively speak to its relevance to the incident.

Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with, suffers from or victim of. Rather, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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