Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Well there has not been a lot in the news lately about mental health. My recovery started in 1989 when I was sent to the state hospital for a crime that I still do not like to talk about that involved mental illness and alcohol.  I never understood where I was because I was mentally ill.  Did not understand until they started giving me medication.  Stellazine was the first and when they told me I was sentenced one day to life that really freaked me out.  I was trying to understand what happened and what was going to happen.
I knew from the streets that I needed to learn typing as I took in on the streets but it was accelerated class and to fast to learn.  When the state hospital told me I had to go to school that was my chance to learn how to type from scratch and I did.  It of course took time but that is what I had.  Also in there we went to groups that taught about mental illness and how to take care of yourself.  They taught us a schedule for when to take our medication and to always take it about the same time as then a person gets use to that schedule.
I was talking to one of the counselors and she asked what I wanted to do with my life and I told her I wanted to learn computers.  She introduced me to a person that worked in vocational rehabilitation and he started teaching me word perfect.  Also well I was there I started getting all the papers necessary for me to go to college when I was released from there.  Learning word perfect helped a lot in my first computer class I took in college.  The state hospital was hard to do time there was so much that was like the streets.
I called my family to much I was missing be out and free.  More that when I was in prison the state hospital was a place I do not want to go back to. I listen to what they said and I did the work to learn how to stay out and maintain my mental illness. I did have one relapse when I was set free.  I had just started college and the first day I relapsed.  I had to go back to the state hospital for a weekend although when I went I did not think they would let me out for awhile but they increased my medication and I was back that Monday.  I had to change some classes because I had missed the amount of days that they allowed.
To me recovery is being free  and taking care that I take my medication and enjoy my family especially my grandkids. Also remain symptom free. I guess I am lucky in the fact that my mental illness is paranoid schizophrenia.  Because I do not have any negative symptoms I know from reading stories that means that I would not be able to do the things I do and enjoy doing. So a big part of recovery is being both positive and negative symptoms and bay. I of course went to AA and did urine screens.  For me drinking again means going back to prison a place I do not want to go. I could also end back at the state hospital. It is something I will not do in this lifetime again. I do not miss doing stupid things and ending up in jail.  Since I been out since 1994 I have not been stopped my the police.  They used to stop me and my friends that looked like me a lot so that I also do not miss.
 I'll leave with learn what works for you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Exercise and Mental Health

That is the title of this blog I am writing about today. Well I was off on vacation last week and did was not able to do as much walking as I wanted to do. I have been walking more though, I know longer wait for the bus after work I walk down three blocks to catch it to get some exercise. I then get left off about a half mile from my apartment and walk home.  I cannot tell from my clothes if I am losing even a little although I am not going to give up as it took time to gain this weight and I know it will take time to lose it.
I am going to see my pdoc today and they will weigh me and I will know if I lost a little weight.  Also kind of exciting day seeing my pdoc today he told me last time if my arm does not shake as it did at my last visit then I will not have to see him so often.  I think the shaking was a fluke as it did happen for about a week and that was the longest it had ever happened.  I was nervous that day and week as a lot was happening to me. It is not shaking today and hope I do not get nervous before I go. I do not think so.
I would like to take this further step in my recovery.  Things are not always so well for me I have my ups and downs but for the most part I am happy.  When I read the news like I did last week about people in the state hospital for murder only having to do five years before some are released always remind be of the state hospital I was not there for murder.  It was the hardest time I ever did.  I remember when I would see people get out earlier then five years it made me think why not me to.  Even though they have a restaurant there and walk the grounds. The time was hard because it made be think about freedom more than if I was locked up in prison.
The hospital showed there success rate in the article. I know I am one I have been out of there for twenty one years and never want to go back not even for a check up.  That is one place more than prison that frightens me because I have been there and it is not the best of places to be. Life can be hard sometimes although you just have to keep hope that things will get better and they usually do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brain Imaging Shows Schizophrenia May Not Be One Illness

That is the title of this article I am writing about today. "People who suffer from severe schizophrenia have very different brain networks compared to others with milder schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or no mental illness, according to new research from Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).  Researchers say the findings confirm mounting evidence that schizophrenia is in fact more than one brain disorder.  Finding ways to help this particular group of people with schizophrenia is a priority as recovery is unlikely, even up to 20 years after the initial diagnosis. Social isolation, lack of work and relationships, and chronic disability are very common,' says Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, senior author on the paper and Director of the Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition at CAMH.  Approximately one in 100 people are diagnosed with schizophrenia.The condition is generally known for symptoms of delusions and hallucinations, which are typically treated with antipsychotic medications."  They seem the same although I know that my paranoid schizophrenia is different than other people's schizophrenia. I do not suffer from most the of the negative symptoms that others suffer from.
The article goes on to say: "However, lack of motivation and social withdrawal, known as negative symptoms, are extremely common as well.  As of now, there is no treatment for negative symptoms, yet they have the greatest impact on a person’s daily functioning once the psychosis is under control. About one in five people with schizophrenia experience these negative symptoms in a pronounced way, said lead author Dr. Anne Wheeler, CAMH postdoctoral fellow.  The study involved magnetic resonance brain imaging (MRI) of 128 people with schizophrenia and 130 healthy individuals at two sites, and with 39 patients with bipolar disorder and 43 healthy individuals at a third site.  Bipolar patients suffer from psychotic symptoms but not negative symptoms, so these patients served as an additional comparison group." If I wasn't able to work I do not know what I would do. I not only make money although it also passes time which is important to me.  To make me feel free.
The article ends:"We found alterations in a number of relationships between brain regions among those with more severe schizophrenia compared with the other groups, including those with less severe schizophrenia,' said Voineskos.  'This provides strong evidence that schizophrenia is not just one brain disorder.'  The findings also confirmed results from previous research from his team showing changes in the white matter tissues connecting those same regions in the brain, among those with more severe schizophrenia. These impaired networks are important to the brain processes related to negative symptoms and social function that patients experience, the authors write.  Through this study, specific brain circuits can be targeted to develop new therapeutic approaches for negative symptoms and social impairment. More research is currently under way at CAMH using virtual reality technology and brain stimulation." It would be great if they can help those people who suffer everyday from negative symptoms.  You only hope these studies end up helping instead of just talking about it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Voices in people's heads more complex than previously thought

That is the title of this article I am writing about today.  "Voices in people's heads are far more varied and complex than previously thought, according to new research by Durham and Stanford universities, published in The Lancet Psychiatry today.  One of the largest and most detailed studies to date on the experience of auditory hallucinations, commonly referred to as voice hearing, found that the majority of voice-hearers hear multiple voices with distinct character-like qualities, with many also experiencing physical effects on their bodies.  The study also confirmed that both people with and without psychiatric diagnoses hear voices.  The findings question some of the current assumptions about the nature of hearing voices and suggest there is a greater variation in the way voices are experienced than is typically recognised.  The researchers say this variation means different types of therapies could be needed for voice-hearers, such as tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) geared towards distinct voice sub-types or patterns of voice hearing.  Current common approaches to help with voices include medication, CBT, voice dialogue techniques and other forms of therapy and self-help.  The researchers say this variation means different types of therapies could be needed for voice-hearers, such as tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) geared towards distinct voice sub-types or patterns of voice hearing.  Current common approaches to help with voices include medication, CBT, voice dialogue techniques and other forms of therapy and self-help.  Auditory hallucinations are a common feature of many psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but are also experienced by people without psychiatric conditions. It is estimated that between five and 15 per cent of adults will experience auditory hallucinations during their lifetimes.  This is one of the first studies to shed light on the nature of voice-hearing both inside and outside schizophrenia, across many different mental health diagnoses.
Lead researcher Dr Angela Woods, from the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University, said: "Our findings have the potential to overturn mainstream psychiatric assumptions about the nature of hearing voices." I heard voices once in the state hospital so I do not know to much about them.  The voices kept telling me that my sisters were being held on a ward across from mine.  I went over to that ward and it was empty.  I did get in trouble although I was insane and really did not understand.
The article goes on to say: "'We call into question the presumed auditory quality of hearing voices and show that there is an unrecognised complexity in the 'character' qualities of some voices.  'It is crucial to study mental health and human experiences such as voice-hearing from a variety of different perspectives to truly find out what people are experiencing, not just what we think they must be experiencing because they have a particular diagnosis. We hope this approach can help inform the development of future clinical interventions.'  The researchers, funded by the Wellcome Trust, collected answers to open- and close-ended questions through an on-line questionnaire focused on description of experiences from 153 respondents. The majority of respondents had been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition but 26 had no history of mental illness. Participants were free to respond in their own words.  The large majority of respondents described hearing multiple voices (81 per cent) with characterful qualities (70 per cent).  Less than half the participants reported hearing purely auditory voices with 45 per cent reporting either thought-like or 'inbetween' voices with some thought-like and some acoustic qualities. This finding challenges the view that hearing voices is always a perceptual or acoustic phenomenon, and may have implications for future neuroscientific studies of what is happening in the brain when people 'hear' voices.  66 per cent of people felt bodily sensations while hearing voices, such as feeling hot or tingling sensations in their hands and feet. Voices with effects on the body were more likely to be abusive or violent, and, in some cases, be linked to experiences of trauma.  While fear, anxiety, depression and stress were often associated with voices, 31 per cent of participants said they also felt positive emotions.  Co-author Dr Nev Jones from Stanford University said: 'Our findings regarding the prevalence and phenomenology of non-acoustic voices are particularly noteworthy. By and large, these voices were not experienced simply as intrusive or unwanted thoughts, but rather, like the auditory voices, as distinct 'entities' with their own personalities and content. This data also suggests that we need to think much more carefully about the distinction between imagined percepts, such as sound, and perception.'" I really cannot tell you who my voices sounded like as it happened so fast and then I was on medication.
The article ends: "Case study
Rachel Waddingham is an independent trainer and consultant with Behind The Label and a trustee of the National Hearing Voices Network and the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis.
Rachel hears voices, sees visions and has struggled with overwhelming beliefs.
Rachel explains: "I hear about 13 or so voices. Each of them is different -- some have names, they are different ages and sound like different people. Some of them are very angry and violent, others are scared, and others are mischievous. Sometimes, I hear a child who is very frightened. When she is frightened I can sometimes feel pains in my body -- burning. If I can help the voice calm down, by doing some grounding strategies, the burning pains stop.
'Since going to a Hearing Voices Group, I have found ways of making sense of and coping with my voices. I no longer feel terrorised by them even though some of them say some very frightening things. I now have a family of voices and have a better relationship with them. I can make a choice about how I respond to them -- whether I listen to them, and how I reply. Some of them are now much more helpful -- they can be a window to my feelings, letting me know about a problem that I have in my life that I need to address.  'Although in our society, people who hear voices are often seen as 'mad' or 'crazy', I do think things are changing. I find that lots of people are interested in voice-hearing. Many people have told me about experiences they have had -- either in their childhood, or as an adult. It's as if by talking about voices we are starting to de-stigmatise the experience and opening the door for others to speak openly too.  'As long as we believe that voices are signs of pathology and illness, it makes little sense to really explore a person's lived experience. Instead we try to suppress or eliminate the voices as far as possible. Listening to them seems 'crazy'. Still, in my experience it can be really useful to be interested in people's lived experience of voice-hearing. Every one of us is different, and being curious about my experiences was one of the first steps to dealing with them.  'This research is a step forward. If we want to understand more about voice-hearing, it makes sense to ask a voice-hearer -- and be willing to modify our perception of what it means to hear voices based on their answers. For me, the word 'voices' isn't sufficient. I use it, but it hides the embodied parts of my experience for which I have few words to describe.  'I would like to live in a world where we are curious about one another's experiences and seek to understand rather than pathologise. Everyone has a story and the world would be much kinder if we started to listen to it.'" She talks the truth although I know it is frightening hearing voices.  Even though I only experienced it for awhile.  I know having a mental illness really changed me and I know I never want to lose control of myself ever again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Diet and Exercise

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Everybody is always talking about losing weight. It is harder then a person thinks. I was able to lose about a little over twenty pounds when I took a vacation and in Boston was doing a lot of walking. I liked how much I was losing and started cutting down on the amount I ate. I also used to drink about six soda's a day.  I cut down to two a day and they are Coke zero or Pepsi max.  I started making my own trail mix for when I did get hungry.  Although that was the last amount of weight that I lost.  I sill try and eat half of every meal unless I go out to eat which is not that often. Losing more has been a struggle. I do not walk half as much as I did in Boston there we walked at least an hour a day.  Here it has been about a half hour a day. All that does is keep me at the same weight I have been at.  If I do not walk I start gaining right away.
I like walking the best.  We do have treadmills where I work although it seems once I start then when I want to use it somebody beats me to it then I just take a walk around the building which is not enough exercise. Although it is best for when it is cold outside. I do not know if the trail mix makes me gain weight or not. I know it did not in the past. I like everybody am always searching for a way to make weight go away. I do know it has something to do with the medication I take that makes it hard to lose the weight.  I used to smoke and eat all I wanted which was not very much when I was younger. I would walk from one side of town to the other.  Although that was not everyday.
I do know one thing though I cannot give up trying.  I just have to find away to lose at least twenty more pounds.  One thing I can do is double my walking.  Keep eating just half a meal. Sooner or later I will lose the weight I want to. I believe quitting alcohol and smoking was easier.  Although if I did not quit smoking I would still be skinny.  Although the smoking was already taking a toll on my health even at thirty five years old.  I would have had to quit sooner or later.  It was easier when did because I had a reason to quit at that time. I would not change that. I hardly ate at that time because of smoking and did I smoke I would have four cigarettes first thing every morning.  I will keep trying to lose weight and if it gets any better I will be sure to let all of you know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wellness Advice Often Lacking for Mentally Ill

That is the title of this article I am writing about.  "A new study finds health care providers often fail to provide dietary and exercise advice to patients with diabetes, or to those who display symptoms of mental illness.  People with mental illness are often at high risk for diabetes as well as other “lifestyle” diseases.  During the investigation researchers discovered more than half of patients with symptoms of mental illness, and nearly one-third of those who also had diabetes, failed to receive appropriate health education.  The study has been published in the journal Diabetes Educator.
Although exercise and dietary recommendations have been a mainstay of diabetic care, researchers say those with mental illness can also benefit from a wellness lifestyle. Appropriate amounts of physical activity and healthy dietary choices can improve the quality of life and prevent debilitating health problems for diabetics and for those with mental illness. Providers should not miss the opportunity to advise people with mental illness on health promotion and lifestyle changes, said researcher Xiaoling Xiang of the University of Illinois. 'It is important that providers counsel people in this population as early as possible about exercise and nutritional changes that reduce the risks associated with diabetes — before risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol manifest,' said Xiang, a doctoral candidate in social work. People with mental illness have significantly higher rates of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol that could be prevented or alleviated with lifestyle modifications. They are also at increased risk of premature death, according to the study." People need to know before they develop theses diseases.  I know for one I do not want any health problems in my life.  I know that walking helps and I do walk.  The treadmill also helps.
The article goes on to say: "In the current study, participants ranged from 18 to 70 years old. The prevalence of diabetes was 15.6 percent among people in the data sample who had symptoms of serious psychological distress, compared with 7.9 percent of their peers.  Rates for all of the clinical conditions that predispose patients to diabetes were significantly higher among participants with symptoms of mental illness than among their counterparts.  More than 70 percent of those with mental illness had body mass indexes above 25, compared with 64.3 percent of their peers. They also had significantly higher rates of hypertension (42.1 percent, compared with 25.6 percent), hyperlipidemia (42 percent, versus 30.6 percent), and cardiovascular disease (29.7 percent, versus 14.7 percent).  People with symptoms of psychological distress who had not been diagnosed with diabetes at the time of the study had an average of more than three diabetes risk factors, compared with their counterparts, who averaged 2.4 risk factors.  The likelihood of patients receiving lifestyle counseling increased in accordance with their number of risk factors, however. While only 10.4 percent of patients who had no diabetes risk factors said they had received dietary advice from their health care providers, more than 65 percent of people with five or more risk factors had received dietary counseling." I know that before I had a mental illness and stopped smoking I hardly had to worry about my weight.  Now I have to lose a least twenty pounds and I still will not be at the weight I was before all this happened.
The article ends with: "'Given the elevated risk for diabetes among individuals with symptoms of psychological distress, even greater numbers of clinicians in the study sample should have been providing lifestyle counseling,' Xiang said.  'However, the increase in the rates of diabetes and diabetes risk factors seems to have outpaced the increase in the rates of provider advice for this population.' Because people with mental illness tend to utilize outpatient, inpatient, and emergency services at much higher rates than the general population, clinicians have increased opportunities to educate patients about the benefits of a healthy diet and physical activity, Xiang said.
Researchers used data from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. This survey interviews a nationally representative sample of participants multiple times over a two-year period about their health and use of medical services. Subjects in the data sample who had symptoms of mental illness had scored 13 or higher on the six-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, also called the K6, a screening tool that has been shown to be strongly predictive of serious mental illness." I do not want diabetes.  I do what I have to make sure I do not get it. I do need to walk more or get on the treadmill more than I do.  I will just have to make the changes to make sure I do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Different Mental Disorders Show Similar Gray Matter Loss

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Researchers have discovered a common pattern of gray matter loss in a spectrum of psychiatric disorders, ranging from schizophrenia to depression to addiction, according to a new meta-analysis of brain-imaging studies by Stanford University School of Medicine.
'The idea that these disorders share some common brain architecture and that some functions could be abnormal across so many of them is intriguing,' said Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Previously, brain imaging studies tended to focus on one psychiatric disorder in isolation, whereas the Stanford researchers “have stepped back from the trees to look at the forest and see a pattern in that forest that wasn’t apparent when you just look at the trees,” Insel said.  The analysis of 193 peer-reviewed papers shows a loss of gray matter in three brain structures that, although physically separate, participate in a network associated with high-level functions, including planning and decision-making. The findings call into question the common practice of distinguishing psychiatric disorders by their symptoms rather than their underlying brain pathology."  This is very important to the people that lose some high-level functions.  We have come far in research now we have to find ways to use it to help people.
The article goes on to say:"'In many of these published studies we reviewed, researchers have tended to interpret their biological findings in terms of the one disorder they’re focusing on,' said Amit Etkin, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and the study’s senior author.
'We tried to ask a basic question that hasn’t been asked: Is there any common biological basis for mental illness?'
To find out, he and his research team gathered data from 193 separate studies containing, in all, magnetic-resonance images of the brains of 7,381 patients falling into six diagnostic categories: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and a cluster of related anxiety disorders.
They compared the images with those from 8,511 healthy control subjects, and identified three separate brain structures, several centimeters apart from one another, with a diminished volume of gray matter, the brain tissue that serves to process information. Gray matter loss in the three brain structures was similar across patients with different mental disorders, the researchers found." if they can find out why these people with mental illness lose that gray matter it would be great.  Especially if they can stop it from happening.
The article ends with:"These structures can be viewed as the alarm bell of the brain, Etkin said. “They work together, signaling to other brain regions when reality deviates from expectations — that something important and unpredicted has happened, or something important has failed to happen.”
Further analysis showed that gray-matter shrinkage in the three implicated brain structures was independent of any medication effects or overlapping psychiatric conditions.
In addition to the gray-matter loss in those three key areas, people with major depression also had gray-matter loss in other structures, including the hippocampus and amygdala, two important regions involved in storing memories and processing emotion, respectively.
Schizophrenia also featured reduced gray matter in several other structures, as well as an increase in gray matter in a region called the striatum, which Etkin suggested may be due more to the antipsychotic medications than the disease itself." Well the medication is not making this happen.  We have to find a way to stop it from happening than people can lead healthier and better lives.