Monday, April 29, 2013

The Corners of Depression

People at times, get sad or feel blue when thoughts or feelings, even the reality of their livelihood isn’t right.  Yet all of this passes on within a couple or even a few days.  If you’re depressed, it gets in the way of your everyday life and causes pain not only for yourself, but also for those who care about you.  Depression is not only a common illness, but a very serious one as well.
There are several types of depression.  There is major depression, which disables a person from functioning normally, yet with clinical help can be overcome.  There is dysthymia, of which a person can have symptoms of depression for many years.  Minor depression leaves you with symptoms up to 2 weeks or longer, but there is no criteria for major depression, yet without treatment,  people with minor depression can develop major depression if a person with such goes without treatment.
There are other types of depression such as psychotic depression, postpartum, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and Bi-polar or manic-depression.  People who suffer from depression do not have the same symptoms or go through life having the same experiences.  They may have signs of depression such as being sad or anxious, they may feel hopeless and there can be guilt or low-self esteem.  A loss of interest or of things which give a person pleasure can exist as well as fatigue, loss of memory or an inability to concentrate, insomnia, even thoughts of suicide.
Depression can be caused by a myriad of factors, which can be genetic, biological, environmental or psychological.  Depression is an illness which is a disorder of the brain and what is important to know is that depression is about the brains ability to communicate and when there is no balance there is no communication.
Stress can also trigger depression within a person and this can be any stressful situation such as, trauma or a difficult relationship of any kind.  When I am experiencing a manic episode, and become depressed, I get tired and am often irritable and late at night I have trouble sleeping.  I used to fill myself up with alcohol or drugs, yet it took some time for me to realize this was only due to frustration and anger.  Psychotherapy groups and medications helped me to find a better way to respond to the world around me and today I have a different attitude due to such treatments.
A person under the duress of depression may not want to find a way in the beginning to get away from the pain of this illness and though it may take weeks even years to overcome this illness’ hold over a person, they and others should bare no shame in seeking professional help to stand up against depression.  Do not wait to seek help, try to remain active, set goals for yourself, do not isolate and most of all think positive and you will begin to smile again with feeling.\
Written by Donald S.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Knowing Diabetes

It’s been suggested that mental health consumers who live with schizophrenia and/or the bipolar disorder are much more inclined to developing diabetes.  There is no direct connection between the three unless there are certain other attitudes associated, which are (1) a poor diet, (2) lack of exercise and (3) a drastic weight gain from antipsychotic medications.
The management and control of diabetes is a concern, especially when a mental health consumer has schizophrenia and at this, the managing of diabetes can be complicated.  If a person has schizophrenia, living their life with a psychosis is not exactly easy and controlling and a disease such as diabetes at the same time is just as complicated as managing their daily life with schizophrenia or a bipolar disorder.  There are certain complications that can follow a person with diabetes who is a mental health consumer, though not all will suffer any of them, many still do, as I have, such as, (1) Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), (2) Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or (3) Diabetic Ketoacidosis (the body breaks down fat if it is starved for energy, producing a toxic acid called Ketones, which cause, heart, brain and central nervous system failure).
These are all short term complications, which results from the lack of management of the diabetes, leading to serious physical ailments or even death.  I understand I have diabetes, yet there are days I think I can “cheat” on taking care of the necessities of controlling the disease.  My wanting soda’s instead of water, or a Danish instead of a salad, candy instead of fruit warrants setting myself up for failure when I should be managing the disease and exercising with respect for my own life.  At this point I am walking myself into long term complications without the lack of sincerity to maintain and control the diabetes.
There are statistics which leave a person in fear and searching for a change in their lifestyle, yet if you are schizophrenic or bipolar you have to understand the risk factors that conceive the development of a coronary disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes.  These factors once understood can let you know if you are at risk; poor cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and excessive fat.  Finally knowing that a mental health consumer in treatment with antipsychotic medications, people with schizophrenic or bipolar, are the highest at risk for developing diabetes. One reason is some antipsychotic medications can raise blood sugars and cholesterol to very high levels and produce significant weight gain as well. This is the reason why I should be more careful about what I eat, when I eat and what I drink, so that the world around me can see that I do care about myself, even if I am a mental health consumer as the many other clients/consumers should. 

Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


What’s it like having this disease? It does not bother me most of the time. Only when the stigma comes out and now that I moved from a low-income housing my neighbors do not know. To me it is just something I have to take medicine for the rest of my life. It is not like type 2 diabetes where if you eat right and exercise you can beat that disease. No this one sticks with you for life. It is the only disease I want to have for the rest of my life. I always hope and pray that nothing else goes wrong as I get older.
I just want to take my Geodon and my vitamins for the rest of my life. I do not want to be a burden on my family. I hope that I can always take care of myself. That is what I mostly think of not the stigma that goes with this mental illness. The only time I am affected by stigma is if I tell someone I have a mental illness. Because otherwise you cannot tell that I do. I do hate it when people think I am crazy. Like when my fridge was freezing my stuff on the bottom of my fridge. I kept telling them at my new apartment and they kept treating me like I was crazy. I had to prove I was not by taking a bottle of water that had frozen from the bottom of my fridge.
I believe if they knew I had a mental illness I would have never received a new fridge. It can hurt you in a lot of ways stigma. People can be frustrating. Which in turn frustrates me even though I know that is just part of life. Through all this and listening to the news you just hope things will get better. They always do there are good times and bad times. Although I have to say there are more good times then bad. I did a decade locked up and I have had way longer being free.
I was able to see my grandchildren born and grow up without being locked up during all those years. They still have a way to go. I want to be there when they are fully grown. I am a lucky one in this illness did not rob me of anything in fact if it wasn’t for the fact that I was locked up in the state hospital, I would not have been able to change my life around for the better. I only hope that they can find medicine that works for other schizophrenics that have negative symptoms and do not get the chance I had to make their life better.
I believe they are making a start with Obama’s new brain initiative  . If they can understand the brain better and make drugs that work it would be great. A person just has to keep having hope. I do feel for the people who cannot make the changes to see that you can have a better life. I left a friend back at the state hospital that could not quit smoking weed. I used to tell just do it to see your dad out on the streets. Nothing could make him change. I think of him because he was a good friend. Just was to set in his ways. The last time I went up there to get my conditional release I asked and he was still there and that was after seven years. I would never want to die being locked up.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Schizophrenia and Recovery

The experience of being schizophrenia is an empty and lonely one.  It’s easy to withdraw from the world, rather than to cope with the reality of it.  My perceptions remain unquestionable, there’s really no one to share what is real to me or unreal and be believed as an experience.  I was feeling very fragmented one day and being alone, I had to look inside the crazy feelings I was having.  There is no pain to be given, yet I know and realize that the delusions and paranoia do exist.  My brain isn’t getting the message through to the right people, and I am not separating the truths of who are the right people, to trust, to share with, and even to care about.  It’s difficult at times without an understanding person to meet with the real world.  I withdraw from the society and world around me, reality, simply because I don’t want to be misunderstood about what I am experiencing or feeling and as I try to hide my illness, I had no idea this secret was destroying me. 
I slowly gave up on everything I wanted to do and because of a promise I made with a family member, I began to reach into the basket of cornucopias delight and began to feel better about myself.  The pins and needles of negativity and doubt began withdrawing themselves and I could see a bit more clearly.  I do have my fears as I am becoming a part of a greater blessed part of life, working, keeping an apartment, being responsible to myself as well as others and I often feel I am normal, working towards Recovery, a part of the real outer world, not one that is hallucinated.
It has taken me sometime to completely understand what has happened to me and what I have done to myself, being dual diagnosed as well, yet I don’t blame the world for putting the cup in my hands.  Reading and listening to those I can trust and care about has brought me back to the realm of sanity, besides taking the medications I have, without having to resort to self medicating by using illicit street drugs and alcohol.  I had to learn to be patient and trusting and realize tomorrow is another day, not just a dream I can re-manipulate, which gets me closer to understanding that I have a contribution to make with the faith of others, an opportunity to become normal. 

Written by Donald S.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Memory & Recovery

This is a follow up to an earlier blog that Donald wrote.  The negative symptoms that people with schizophrenia have make it hard for them to hold down a job that is what this article says.  They say after getting schizophrenia we lose 11/2 standard deviations of your IQ “if you start out with an IQ of 160 and you lose 11/2 standard deviations, you’re down to 145, and you might still be pretty well-off in certain areas.  As I spoke in an earlier blog I could have had my GED at the age of seventeen although I was too young.
I dropped out after finishing the ninth grade.  I started the tenth grade and was in algebra and told them it was too hard and wanted to go to another class.  It wasn’t although I was just trying to make things easier for me.  I went to the other math class for a day and that is when I dropped out of school.  It was dumb I know.  When I finally went back to college, math was the hardest for me.  My tutor would say he gets and after he walks out he does not remember anything.  Yet I am good at remembering numbers and words if I try.
In geography in college the class as a whole was not doing well.  The teacher had already talked to me after finding out I had a mental illness she was going to let me do a no credit and take the class over.  I said no I will do it.  She gave the class the test to study and I took it and memorized it all except the places in Colorado.  I studied that test at work and in my spare time.  I finally took the test and the classmates were just say geez when she was grading my test because I had so many right. I passed the class.
 All except the where the places were at in Colorado.  You have to remember I was locked up for almost a decade and I did not travel I had forgot where everything was.  It took me about five years to remember Denver again.  I have finally learned and can ride and know which bus to take to get anywhere.  I know I lost some of what I had and if I would of went to college before my mental illness I would have done a lot better.   I can memorize a lot but not math. On a lighter note do you know why we forget when we walk in to another room to do or get something? 
This article talks about why.  “The research provides strong evidence that entering a doorway serves as an “event boundary” that forces working memory to update itself as a result of moving into another room, Radvansky explains.  This location-based updating makes it more difficult to recall the activities or decisions made in a different room.”  I know I came into this room for something although I do not remember now.  We are not losing our minds.
I also work on brain training exercises.  One thing that I have is my memory and I do not want to lose that.  My mental illness is enough of a handicap.  I feel for other schizophrenics that lost a lot more than me and cannot work even when they try.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Coping with Schizophrenia

I am a person with Schizophrenia. I have been diagnosed as schizoaffective, and have had no psychotic episodes for many years.  I have kept my family from knowing this for many years and because of the embarrassment of it all, I have very little contact with them for fear of their reaction to my state of illness.  Very few of my friends know this, those that do suffer from sordid types of mental illness, though they are not professionals of any type, we still keep in contact with one another, sharing information about how we live and how we see the world, caring about one another in this society of the twenty-first century.  I recently read a paper written by a doctor, who at the age of 25 was diagnosed with schizophrenia who is now a psychologist who works with people who are mentally ill.  He has done a number of presentations on coping with schizophrenia and has conceived ideas in lieu of his experiences with the illness, his patients and his own personal thoughts on the “Twelve Aspects of Coping for Persons with Schizophrenia.”
His ideas being so simple, staggered my mind, and I began to understand that I was not perfect in what I believed of myself, my own thoughts or my own beliefs.  I never once since my first hospital stay believed anything was wrong with me, yet as this doctor stated, “We accept that which is logical, that which is rational and reasonable.  That which is crazy is dismissed.”
It wasn’t hard soon after reading on-wardly, that I needed to learn acceptance and I needed to understand that I may be ill for the rest of my life, if, I wasn’t already living a fact of denial about having a disorder at all and denying to myself that it exist.  I read on, examining the author’s course on acceptance and his journey in understanding and saw my own experience of the illness of which was more spiritual than it had to be, tied to by the disruption of the biochemical side of reality I lived within my own mind.
I began to understand I had no special senses to see, or hear the world with and my insight to judge others, only a whim of judging myself.  I had no control over the rational side of myself; I was only daydreaming with other chemicals inside my brain, and I saw myself wishful thinking which gave me cause to partially deny, true logic, only as the author put it, living with “poetic” logic.” 

Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Prozac Nation

That is the title of a movie I watched last week.  It starred Christine Ricci and was dealing with depression.  I think she did good acting in the movie.  It started out with her cutting at a young age.  How she did not fit in with the regular crowd.   I do not have depression although I am a paranoid schizophrenic.  I could relate to her feeling different than the rest of society.  I too had low self-esteem throughout my years of growing up.   In the movie she is an excellent writer and gets a scholarship to Harvard.  She has a roommate and they get along at first.
My low self-esteem had me turning to substances.  They made me feel normal and I could do anything I wanted and could talk to girls.  When I wasn’t getting high if I did not know you I would not talk or relate to you.  Even girls I went out with had a hard time getting me to open up and talk.  I am a quiet person.  In the movie she was a good writer and even was writing for the rolling stone magazine.  Her mom stuck by her and paid the bills even though it was really hard for her.  Her dad hardly came around as they were divorced.
I believe that was hard for the part Christine Ricci played in the movie.  She could no longer write and was staying up for days trying to write.  Finally they talked her into seeing a therapist.  It took a while for her to open up and talk about what was going on with her.   It seemed to me growing up that nothing ever went right.  That is one reason I always felt different than everyone else.  One thing that happened to me is I just started driving and I was going forward and ended up going backwards and wrecked into my uncle car which he had just finished fixing up.
Now it was dented I ran away because nothing could go right.  I felt that even when I was using substances.  Even if I tried to do right something back fired and I was locked up or I had ruined something. If it wasn’t for family always sticking by me, I do not know where I would be right now.  In the movie she and her roommate part ways because her roommate cannot handle her anymore.  She asks her dad why he does not help her mom pay for the therapist.  He gives her no reason.
The therapist puts her on medication which from the title of the movie is Prozac and she starts writing again.  To me medication is a wonderful way to deal with mental illness.  I do not like me insane anytime so I take my medication.  I feel normal and for me having a mental illness for myself is not stigma.  Although I have received stigma from others because of my mental illness, although I know I can do anything they can so I do not let it bother me.  I received my degrees after my mental illness. I am not the same mentally like I was when I was seventeen and they told me the only thing stopping me from getting my GED was my age.
I received it a couple of years later just by taking the test and not studying for it.  I had to study hard in college because I am not the same.  Although it took longer for me in college I did not let that stop me.  I give this movie high rating it helped me understand a little more about depression and what they go through.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Military Children at Risk

In the year 2010, almost 2 million American children had at least one parent in active military duty.  A new study from the University of Iowa, suggest that these deployed parents put their children at risk of becoming alcoholic or drug abusers.  These children of the sixth to 11th grade had an increase of alcohol use, using marijuana, prescription drugs and other illegal drugs as compared to children of the same grades and age groups of non-military families.  A professor of biostatistics says, “We worry a lot about the service men and women and we sometimes forget that they are not the only ones put into harm’s way by deployment, their families are affected too.”
As a child myself, a part of a military family, I discovered alcohol and eventually graduated to harder drugs.  My parents were not at fault for doing what needed to be done while in the military, yet I didn’t understand why for instance my father was always gone, deployed to different countries, active duty in different states and practically never at home until he completed his 20th year in the military.  It was somewhat stressful for me, having to worry whether he would come home, or how to explain I even had a father.  Alcohol was my first step, I felt stronger, and could be the “man of the house”, yet as even though my father had eventually received his discharge from the military, I went along feeling like a stranger and began using street drugs, with the feeling I was no longer the needed.
The University of Iowa study goes on to show how living arrangements of these children change once the parent is deployed, many of them not living with a natural parent.  “They may go to live with a relative, but many go to live with others outside the family”.  They are disassociated from the family and by reason because of their change; they are most affected by drinking and drug use.  There are limited support groups and resources for military families whose children are affected by this risk.  I think that if such resources and support groups had existed when I was young, I would have grown into a completely different person of a more normal stature, as it took me many years after compounding what drug me through the city streets, I would have aged with understanding and morals of some regard instead of the derision it took me many years to overcome.  Hopefully the schools of these military children will have the insight to lend these children assistance and help them grow with understanding. 

Written by Donald S