Archives for In My Experience

Alcoholism

Drug treatment: How many times will you go to go to rehab before you realize it isn’t working?

This is going to make some people mad. I'm going to say it anyway.

Why do addicts and alcoholics go to rehab over and over and over if it doesn't work for them? If you had cancer and you did 10 rounds of treatments and they weren't working, would you keep going?

I know you are going to say relapse is part of the disease. But if you relapse over and over and over and over, why go back to the same treatment? At a certain point you have to stop blaming the disease for your relapse and realize the treatment you are doing for your disease simply isn't working.

Stop going to rehab. Stop paying tens of thousands of dollars for a treatment protocol that isn't working for you. I'm not saying that rehabs don't work. They do - for some addicts and alcoholics. Treatment will work for the highly motivated addict or alcoholic who won't be distracted by the cushy, resort-like facilities that offer massages, tai chi, golf "therapy" and meditation on a Florida beach.

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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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Coping with Depression

Anger management techniques for a middle-aged woman

Last Friday afternoon I found myself standing behind what used to be an auto repair shop with a 16-pound sledgehammer over my head, beating the crap out of a large tire. It's not something you would expect a 56-year-old woman to do on a sweltering summer day in Florida.

But I was angry. I had just spent an hour in what I shall call "intense fellowship" with a handful of my colleagues and a lawyer and I was not at all happy with the outcome of the meeting. I knew if I did not get rid of that anger in an "appropriate" way, it would come out sideways.

Most likely I would verbally eviscerate someone and remain pissed off for days. I would relive that intense hour of fellowship over and over - fuming, stewing and creating scripts of what I would do next.

And then I heard a little voice: Depression is anger turned inward.
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Alcoholism

How my depression nearly killed my sobriety

This month I celebrate 17 years of sobriety. Let me say that again. This month I celebrate 17 years of sobriety.

I can't believe I just said that because it seems so impossible and sounds so weird coming from my mouth.

17 years.

How the heck did that happen?

One day at a time. I also followed suggestions, especially from a doctor friend who told me about 12 years ago that I was in a major depression and needed antidepressants.
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Bipolar

How to avoid anxiety and loneliness when vacationing alone

Since my last major depression I have created for myself a small, insulated world - completely accessible on a 20-plus-year-old pink bike. My doctors, work, favorite restaurants, grocery store, dog park, gym and ocean are within a five mile radius of my cozy little house.

I like it that way. Driving a car is unnatural for me. It brings back heavy, gray memories of commuting 25 miles from the suburbs of Detroit into the city to work. In March, when dirty snow and a gray, seamless cloud took over the sky, the commute fueled my depression, already acute from months of seasonal-affective disorder.

Life got better after I moved to sunny Florida but depression still smothered me. Death and divorce will do that regardless of the weather. I responded by making my world small. I preferred riding a bike to driving. For awhile I had a scooter but then went back to my beloved bike.

When I ventured out of my bubble for work or vacation, I always had a reason and purpose. Conferences, graduations, reunions and exciting adventures meticulously researched. For years I have travelled with my boyfriend - a free spirit like me. We research what is available to see and do in an area, but make few plans and reservations besides renting a car.

We have slept in the back of an SUV and stayed in five-star hotels. When a mountain stream looked as though it might have some trout in it, we pulled over and fished. No timetable. No plans besides the occasional baseball game at legendary fields - Wrigley in Chicago and the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway.

Vagabond wanderlust.

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Dual-Diagnosis

Why the religion of the Chattanooga shooter trumps his depression

Now we learn that Muhammad Abdulazeez, the gunman who fatally shot four Marines and a sailor at a recruiting office and naval reserve center in Chattanooga  last week, had depression and self-medicated with drugs an alcohol.

Normally, this would spark the usual debate on whether depression can make someone homicidal. The media would tell us that yes, in very, very rare cases depression could cause homicidal thoughts but much more common are suicidal thughts.

And the media would tell us that some anti-depressants can make depression worse and that Abdulazeez had taken anti-depressants.

However, in this case the media is more focused on whether Abdulazeez was a Muslim terrorist whose alleged fanaticism was sparked by a lengthy trip to the Middle East last year. The media is throwing the word Isis into their coverage and voila! They've got a gazillion hits on social media.
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Coping with Depression

Depression relief: Why standing-up matters

Sometimes, getting vertical is the hardest thing to do when we you are depressed. Just getting up - off the couch or out of bed - is a major accomplishment. Getting up and out the door is monumental.

In my last depression, I forced myself to do this. I knew that shutting myself in would only make the depression worse. Of course, I had the fear that if someone saw me out and about they would accuse me...
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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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Coping with Depression

The importance of passion

If we want people to take us and our mental illnesses seriously, then we have to take them seriously. Unfortunately, it's a little more involved than just taking some pills in the morning.

For me, this has meant figuring out the things I do that turn on and off certain chemicals in brain. I did years of therapy to deal with my emotions - especially anger. I learned part of my depression is anger turned inward.

I had to learn how to eat and sleep well - watching carbs, especially sugar consumption, which can spike my blood sugar levels causing quick highs and lows. I had to learn how to exercise in moderation because I tend to be a teeny bit extreme when it comes to working out.

I do not drink alcohol. I do not do dairy or gluten - which cause inflammation and make me feel old -something I DO NOT LIKE AT ALL! And sleep - ahhhh sleep. Eight hours, minimum with 20-minute power naps when needed. One day a week I sleep until my body wakes me up - usually after 10-12 hours.
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Coping with Depression

Should I let a lovely day at the beach ruin my mental health?

I have a rash and it is messing with my head.

I have had this rash for three weeks now. Two trips to the dermatologist and a biopsy and still, its cause is unknown. It is definitely an allergic reaction but to what, no one knows. My diet, soaps, lotions, animals in my life have not changed.

Obviously, this rash is frustrating. Constant itching, little bumps and more itching. I have tried every anti-itch cream on the market and everyone's home remedies.

But here is the real problem with this rash - it has forced me to take and perhaps take away the medication I need to protect my mental health.
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