Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College and Mental Illness

Starting college with a mental illness can be rough. The following is a link to 10 conditions that plague college students. Do you disclose that you have a mental illness? That is a tough question. I did not personally want to disclose, although when they told me I would be suspended, and the only thing that could help me is if I had a disability. I really did not see any other choice. Also I had my first relapse the first week that I started college. As I mention last week when I am mentally ill, I am more aware of people and cars. I had to make my way downtown from Auraria campus to catch a bus home as I did not know the schedule and buses at the campus yet. I had to go through a crowd of 1,700 new students. It was rough for me. When I came back to college after having my medication increased, I had to change one class because I had missed too many days. The disabilities office asked if I needed help with my classes. The first day of class I had to ask for a note taker, and let the class know. The other students had to know that I had a mental illness, because I had no physical illness. Every semester that was the hardest day of the semester for me. Just because you have a disability it does not make going to college any easier. I could also have had my tests done in a private room. Although I did not ask for that and I had to take my test with the rest of my classmates. I have been quiet all my life until I get to know a person. I did not have any friends in college except for the ones I met in Alcoholics Anonymous. We had a group at campus. I would still go back to college although I would try to do it all over again without going through disability office. That is just me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mentally Ill

Last week I wrote about Andrew Steward’s Youtube video. Another thing that hit home on his talk was when he said he drove after leaving college for the day. He was driving on the interstate in California. I did not drive the time of my mental illness. Although, I do remember walking around Denver at night, I can remember all the cars and there seemed to be a lot. More than likely it was because I was mentally ill. I also had been recently released from prison. I also felt at the time as part of my delusion that the cars were circling and following me. When I am not mentally ill I do not pay that much attention to cars or people that are out and about. Although the times that I was ill, there always seemed to be more people, and cars than usual, if I was driving that night. I would probably have killed myself or wrecked a car. I could not dive in that condition. I do not know how he did it with all those delusions going through his head. It is a time I would rather forget. I can also remember hardly sleeping when I was mentally ill. That is also very hard on a person. Another part of my mental illness was hearing messages from the radio. I would play a cassette tape in my stereo and it seemed like it was talking to me. I would shut off the radio even though I like music. I thought at the time they were talking to me from Canon City the prison. That also is hard to understand. I know people who are going through it now are having a rough time. I am happy they did force medications on me. To stay that way for any longer would have been inhumane to be now that I am not ill.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Communication in Mental Health

We are always troubled in so many ways when it comes to communicating with different cultures and different backgrounds. We must first see if there are any barriers between the groups who are willing to communicate, in other words we must clear the air in order to see where we are going. The same holds true for those working in mental health, nurses and clinicians, when relating with consumers or clients and vice versa. Families of said consumers also have to relate with not only loved ones yet share their respect and cultural understanding as well when sharing not only with the consumer yet also with clinicians and therapist as well. There has to be some acceptance and trust when communicating in a mental health setting.

A relationship between mental health staff member’s clients has to be established on a one-to-one level and it must be not so personal so that care can be given to the client, through trust from the client, the client's families, friends and others who may be involved in treating the consumer. We must lead the consumer to understand his or hers goals and direct them in a learned way to understand what can be achieved.

Directing the consumer to accept their own esteem and be aware that there can be no wrong if there is understanding and that this understanding comes from the ability of both the clinician and consumer being able to define what they are conveying in any situation when conversing. There must be empathy between the client(s) and mental health worker, sharing what one is feeling and agreeing upon when communicating and while giving understanding.

Trust is a part of communication in that you have no reason to fear what you are hearing or facing in such a relationship of give and take. As a client, I am still learning to listen and give as well in the client-clinician relationship and maintain my trust level as well as trying to keep my understanding of what the therapist is giving in the way of knowledge while keeping my self esteem and knowing what level I exist in to learn and excel in the matters between mental health workers and my own recovery.
Written By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Andrew Steward: Beating Mental Illness

This talk was given at University of Denver. He excelled at school as a youngster. He even went to school in Ecuador, because he cared about poverty. Now he is a music student at DU. There is a middle chapter in his life and in that chapter he has a mental illness. He asks the question “What do you think of when you hear mental illness? Are you scared of it?” His mental illness started in 2005 he heard voices in his head and believed religious things that were related to his religion that were not based on reality. He was going to college in California and had taken a big load and he literally burned out, and that brought on his mental illness. One night in class he got the idea that Jesus was coming back eminently, so he got up left his backpack in the classroom and drove for five hours to the mountains to escape God’s wrath and the end of the world. “I know it sounds crazy that’s because it really was.” He was staring at the sky the entire time on literally some of the busiest interstates in America in southern California. He was being honked at by endless cars. “I honestly should have died in a tragic car accident this is what happens when mental illness descends upon someone they start to live in their own world.” His family and friends were starting to worry about him. His loving parents came out to pick him up and take him home. “You have to understand though, I thought I was totally fine.” It did not go over well with his father though you see his father is a trained Psychotherapist. He told him, he did not want to go home. He was told the only other option was to go to a mental hospital. “I don’t know what you guys have heard about mental hospitals but there pretty scary, and in my opinion there as bad as prisons. His roommate at the hospital said he was God, and that he was going to kill him. “Talk about not being able to sleep at night.” When he returned home from the hospital, the voice in his head was his roommates. Still it was talking to him, and telling him how to run his life. Over the coming months he would take pills that basically did not work. Then one day in the fall of 2006, he was in a really bad car accident and the very next day he lost his job. It shook him up considerably as it would anyone. He began to regress again. This time he began to see things that were not real. He began to see a snake. “I want you to imagine what this was like for me one minute I want you to put yourself in my shoes.” He saw a snake that was in front of his chest. “This snake would coil up all day long and continually biting my heart over and over again.” He was screaming profanities at the snake. “But I literally believed that the snake was Satan and I was being attacked by the devil himself, it was torture.” He also saw fire. “One day I woke up and there was so much fire in my parents’ house, which I spent the entire day in the back corner of my parent’s bathroom.” It was the only place in the house without fire. “Now I bet you are all wondering how I got better.” The pills were not working they had him take an injection every two weeks. Which did work, and he was better. “But you know what really did the trick I began to love myself for the first time in my life when I got better.” He was a perfectionist that had tried to drive himself too hard, and push himself too hard. “I think that’s what got me into trouble.” When he learned the value of caring for himself and to nurture himself, and at times put himself first even if it meant the end result of caring for others. “I think that is how I improved.” There are some ways in which his illness affects him these days. By the side effects of medications, after he has been taking antipsychotics for three years, he gained a hundred pounds. He has since lost fifty of those pounds. “But it is definitely one of the effects of treatment.” If you think his life was hell though then think of the effects on his family. “You see when my parents were there for me nobody was there for my parents.” Everybody who they counted on and were there before simply vanished. He asks the question when someone breaks their arm, we write on their cast, when someone has a mental illness we run the other way. “Why is that? I am going to bust a myth for you guys now, and ask is that violence is not common in mental illness, let me repeat that violence is not common in mental illness, my general personal opinion is that it is about as common in the general population actually.” He has compiled a list of people who have struggled with mental illness that has interfered in their lives. “This list includes Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Michelangelo, Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, and Ernest Hemingway, and the list goes on.” The list looks to him as of people that have influenced our society more than anyone else. It is also a list of people who have struggled with major depression, who at times have become suicidal. They have struggled with bipolar disorder, and who have struggled with schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders. “Are you really afraid of these people? Are you really afraid of me?” He is not going to deny the fact though that there are times that people are tortured in their head by voices for years, and years. They eventually give into their delusions and do things which are harmful to others. He says, “we all remember what happened in Tucson, Arizona when Jared Loughner killed himself, and several other people, and severely wounding representative Gabby Gifford’s, was Jared receiving the love that he needed? I believe he was receiving some, but I don’t think he was getting what he needed. There is hope though even in this most dire circumstances, and that is this is noticed after the tragedy everybody was asking all over the country all over the world why did this happen, and what can we do to prevent it from happening in the future.” This shows there is hope and people are talking about mental illness, even if for no other reason than they do not want these things to happen in the world any longer. Mental illness also affects our society in another way, and that is homelessness. “Studies show that about forty percent of homeless people are also mentally ill, I don’t have all the answers to homelessness in our society, but obviously these issues are interrelated and if we help one, we will help the other. There are guys like me who fall through the cracks.” His message today is yes we need to bring awareness to this issue yes we need to stop the stigma in its tracks. “ We need to pull it out from under the carpet.” We have been hiding it was too long and that is not helping things, but most importantly I want you to know if you are out there and going through what I went through, you are not alone.” He is going to end with a story about Jared Loughner. He noticed another thing after the tragedy. “I saw on the news a reporter interviewing Jared’s neighbors from high school. They said Jared was actually a pretty vibrant young man, who played the saxophone in the high school jazz band. They said that beautiful music would come from Jared’s house at night, and then one night the music stopped, you see Jared’s not all that different from me. I play the flute in high school, beautiful music would come from my house every night too, but I am back and I’m here as a living testament to show that people can, and do get better from mental illness. If you’re out there and going through what he went through or you know someone who is, fight for them as they are fighting their way out of it, because when you do your fighting for a guy like me, Thanks.” A lot of things hit home for me in this YOUTUBE video. To me mental illness is torture, and Jared Loughner is still going through it. I think that was the hardest being stuck in the county jail and not getting treatment for my mental illness.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Common Destruction, Depression or Manic Depression

When suffering from bi-polar or depression alone, you tend to have episodes or mood swings, some of these moods people have are over excitation, this is with the manic phase in manic depression. The other is of hopelessness or the depressive mood and combined becomes a mixed state which can lead to outrage or irritation during a mood swing. With depression a person might feel tired, cannot concentrate, remember or make decisions. They may be restless, irritable, lack an appetite, sleep restlessly even contemplate death or attempt suicide. When looking at depression or manic depression, sadness or hopelessness reflects the person’s mood. Depression in manic depress has psychotic symptoms as well which tend to reflect a person’s mood.
In the one extreme you may think you have great wealth, or that you may be some famous individual in the crowd of friends you associate with. In another way you may think you have some special powers, either physical or magical. There is an opposite extreme, that of being depressed with a psychotic episode of which you may believe your life is going nowhere, that you are destined to ruination, that you are poor or that you have become a criminal. People with this state of mind can be wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia which may be a cause of medicinal problems when being diagnosed for medication.
Having friends on the one hand might be easy when you’re overspending or comical or mysterious, and living with depression on the other hand leads to often extreme abuse. There is in these matters use and abuse of one’s self and depression is a trap when things don’t go your way or you can go no further. During my struggle with being bi-polar I was also diagnosed as schizophrenic, through my use of drugs and alcohol, which lifted me from a slow sleepy gait to climbing mountains. This is not literal yet I thought I was enjoying life and I had no shame with the kinds of “friends” I had, with whom I used with, how long I partied or where I slept. Yet my life, both physically and mentally were not of good health. I used more drugs as time went by drank more, slept later and later, and ignored those good people who thought they would help me as I made believe my life was to wonderful and cool. I believed I could cause the rain to fall, all of this because I felt lowly and that I would never achieve anything in life.
After many years of Rehabilitation and fighting with the medications that were used, I finally braved reality. To begin a new life meant new friends not grave diggers and it meant understanding those who knew what was right. I knew I didn’t want to end my life with drug addicts standing above me, and I knew I had a reason to keep living and believing with the faith that grew inside yet I also knew, it was not the end of the world.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


What makes people feel good about hurting someone else? Especially if they have a mental illness, does the person they hurt feel less pain? Yesterday in the Denver Post there was a story about four State Hospital workers sent home because someone they put in restraints received a broken arm. He told them he was in pain. The question if you already put someone in restraints why hurt them more. I’ve been to the state hospital before and I was put in restraints after becoming ill there and not wanting to take medicine. They had a court order to give me medicine. I can understand that. What I did not understand was why so many had to take me down. I think it is harder when there are more staff all trying to do the same job. The Pueblo sheriff is investigating this recent episode at the state hospital. When you are in someone else care, you should not be hurt. I think people would be madder if it was a child in daycare and received a broken arm from somebody that works there. I do not understand why they would kick someone when they are already down. Does it make them feel like a better person then the mentally ill? I might be a little biased because I was at the state hospital and I do not think they are in the job of letting people recover. You just have to stay a certain number of years 'till you get out. It does not matter if you are recovered sooner or not. I saw a lot while I was there. It still comes back to me and I just have to wonder why people in authority have to act that way. Can you not treat all people the same and see some good in them?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Depression or Change of Life

I was wondering about something someone said to me about my attitude. I stay home on the weekends, I don’t have a night life and I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. I have done these things most of my life, and had nothing to show for the party life until a few years ago. I changed my life style, due to respect for myself as well as others yet, I began wondering after the comment was made about how depressing I must be, that I had to be sure I wasn’t just suffering from any of the symptoms of depression, especially at my age. I realized I am just another one of those different kinds of people, who wants to change their life. The symptoms I have brought to life from several web sites can create a mode of fear, yet in the reality of those who suffer, there is hope, if they reach out and let others guide them:

“One in four older people have symptoms of depression that require treatment. Part of the problem is that depression in older people is hard to untangle from the many other disorders that affect older people, and its symptom profile is somewhat different from that in other adults.
Physical illness increases the risk of depression. Evidence from neuroscience, genetics, and clinical investigation demonstrates that depression is a disorder of the brain. Modern brain imaging technologies are revealing that in depression, neural circuits responsible for the regulation of moods, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior fail to function properly, and that critical neurotransmitters -- chemicals used by nerve cells to communicate -- are perhaps out of balance.”
“Symptoms of depression include a persistent sad mood; loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed; significant change in appetite or body weight; difficulty sleeping or oversleeping; physical slowing or agitation; loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt; difficulty thinking or concentrating; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. A diagnosis of major depressive disorder (or unipolar major depression) is made if an individual has five or more of these symptoms during the same two-week period. There are many barriers to the diagnosis of depression in late life. Some of these barriers reflect the nature of the disorder: depression occurs in a complex medical and psychosocial context. In the elderly, the signs and symptoms of major depression are frequently attributed to “normal aging,” atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or any of a host of other age-associated afflictions. Psychosocial antecedents such as loss, combined with decrements in physical health and sensory impairment, can also divert attention from clinical depression.”
Donald Sammons

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A New Book

There is a new book being release tomorrow, August 4, 2011. It really seems like a good book to read. It is called “A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness. The book is about famous leaders who had some mental illness. It is written by Nassir Ghaemi. This is a quote from the book “The best crisis leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal; the worst crisis leaders are mentally healthy.” He talks about both effective leaders who had mental illness, and ineffective leaders such as George W. Bush and George McClellan, the civil war general who “evolved in the opposite directions from precocious sensation to a plain dud.” The author talks about eight men whose stories he tells about. He believes a pattern that was ignored by historians, and the public, is the fact that they did shape the second half of the twentieth century. Some of the others he examines in the book are Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Franklin Roosevelt. One of the quotes about the book is “Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than “normal” people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes.” He asks the question would we have voted in Lincoln or Churchill, knowing that they had depression? I do not think so! It seems from the previews to be a very interesting book. There are things in it that I did not know. For example: Adolf Hitler was bipolar and did intravenous amphetamine. “Legally, he knew what he was doing, and he intended to do it; thus he was fully responsible for all his actions.” Whether or not you believe in his thesis, the book will be a good read.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thinking the Nature of Recovery

A Tributary is a stream or river that flows into another river or lake, yet does not flow into a sea or ocean. What has this to do with Recovery and Mental Health? Tributaries as they represent the flowing of bodies of water such as streams or rivers, can also represent Principles which lead consumers to different services that help them in becoming healed or find way to better health. These streams or rivers may be counseling or education and of these streams there are the attitudes of self, self-esteem, and self sufficiency of which strengthens us.

Through the tributary of education which is learning how to achieve recovery by facing our addictions and mental illness. There are still deeper rivers having concepts of ideas or beliefs as a part of the self seeking recovery through mental health. We must travel these tributaries to understand ourselves, our emotions to overcome the pain we suffer from the lack of understanding we have of the world and the concepts society has of the mentally ill. The greater body of which we come unto is our self assurance and peace, our acceptance that we become better persons with Respect.

What is the meaning of Recovery? Recovery in Mental Health is the process of changing your attitude, your feelings, goals and living with a new found hope. This body of water of which the tributary flows into is called Recovery of which means a developing of new life and moving beyond the pitfalls of having a mental illness. We have taken on a new ideology and challenged our illness and moved beyond the stagnant pool we waded in. We all have our own definition of Recovery, yet we must also realize there are many rivers and streams we channel through before we reach the clean and ever being body of faith which keeps us going into the most positive direction; that is empowerment, taking control of our lives through hope.

Written by Donald Sammons