Wednesday, February 26, 2014

College and Mental Illness

College and mental illness have been in the news lately here is one link I am going to write this blog about when I went to college and some of the struggles I had.  I was released from the state hospital in 1993 around April and was sent to live in a boarding house. You had to be out of the boarding house from nine to three in the afternoon.  So I decided college that fall.  My first day in college I had a relapse because a few months before they had lowered my medication.  And the stress of finally starting what I had wanted to do was just too much.  There were over one thousand five hundred people on campus that day. I am a paranoid schizophrenic person and all those people were just too much for me.  I did my best to walk through them and head to downtown.  I reached downtown and called my mom on the pay phone and told her I could not make at the school.
She said “Call your doctor” I was afraid to because people who went back to the state hospital did not get a chance to come back to the streets for a long time.  I went back to the boarding house because there was no place to go being the way I was.  They let me in even though it was day time.  I gave the program manager most of my money because I was scared I would start drinking and get in trouble and be in worse shape.  A day went by and they called the state hospital and told them to come and get me.  I said fine you people do not have any French dressing anyway.  The state hospital came and picked me up and we drove back to Pueblo.  I thought it was the end of my being on the streets although when I told them they had lowered my medication to low.  They upped my medication and I was only there for a weekend and they let me come back to the boarding house.
When I was at the state hospital they had told me I could go to college half time and still graduate if it was too much for me.  I had a Spanish class and the professor had said that if you miss more than three days a person would fail.  One of the social workers in the hospital had a brother that worked at the college.  I went to him and explained what happened he dropped the Spanish class and put me in an English class that was a beginner course.  Also I was taking computer classes.  Well as the semester finished I did not do so well and they were going to kick me out of college.  This lady who my friend’s brother had introduced me to told me if you had a disability you could stay in college.  I said I have one and I was able to prove it with paperwork. They sent me to the disability office it was small back then.  They told me to ask someone in my computer class if they would tutor me and they would pay them.  I also only took two classes because I was going go to school half time.
It worked I was getting very good grades in computer with the tutor’s help.  He did this for about three semesters than the disability office told me after one of the semesters they did not have the money for tutors anymore.  I continued to go to college without help from the college disability office.  I continued taking English classes but to this day I do not get the hang of it.  One of my professors told me you are always here and you do the work so I have to pass you even though you do not get it.  Another subject I did not get was math and I had been so good at math in grade school.  I started that at CCD also at the beginning to try and learn and I never was good at that either.  Well I will finish this next week how I finally graduate and how long it took me and the changes I went through.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail

That is the title of this article click on the link to read the whole story. “The largest mental health center in America is a huge compound here in Chicago, with thousands of people suffering from manias, psychoses and other disorders, all surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.  Just one thing: It’s a jail. The only way to get treatment is to be arrested.  Psychiatric disorders are the only kind of sickness that we as a society regularly respond to not with sympathy but with handcuffs and incarceration.  And as more humane and cost-effective ways of treating mental illness have been cut back, we increasingly resort to the law enforcement toolbox: jails and prisons. More than half of prisoners in the United States have a mental health problem, according to a 2006 Justice Department study.  Among female inmates, almost three-quarters have a mental disorder.” That is a drag when the only way to get treatment is to go to jail.  What about the regular inmates the ones that do not have a mental illness.  You have enough doing your time than you have to worry about someone who has a mental illness to.  When I went to jail from the state hospital no one messed with my stuff do you know why because I had a mental illness and they did not know what I would do if they stole or did anything to me yes they were frightened.
You have games in the state hospital now in jail and prisons too.  You just want to do your time and get out. “People are not officially incarcerated because of psychiatric ailments, but that’s the unintended effect. Sherriff Dart says that although some mentally ill people commit serious crimes, the great majority are brought in for offenses that flow from mental illness.  One 47-year old man I spoke to, George, (I’m not permitted to use last names for legal reasons) is bipolar, hears voices and abuses drugs and alcohol.  He said he had been arrested five times since October for petty offenses.  The current offense is criminal trespass for refusing to leave Laundromat.  The sheriff says such examples are common and asks: ‘How will we be viewed, 20, 30, 50 years from now? We’ll be looked on as the ones who locked up all the mentally ill people. It really is one of those things so rich with irony: The same society that abhorred the idea that we lock people up in mental hospitals, now we lock people up in jails.’”  They should not be there in jail for petty crimes.  It seems like there are far too many not getting the treatment on the streets that they need.
The article goes on to say: “ A few data snapshots: Nationwide in America, more than three times as many mentally ill people are housed in prisons and jails as in hospitals, according to a 2010 study by the National Sheriffs’ Association and Treatment Advocacy Center.  Mentally ill inmates are often preyed upon while incarcerated, or disciplined because of trouble following rules.  They are much more likely than other prisoners, for example, to be injured in a fight in jail, the Justice Department says. Some 40 percent of people with serious mental illnesses have been arrested at some point in their lives.  In the 1800s, Dorothea Dix led a campaign against the imprisonment of the mentally ill, leading to far-reaching reforms and the establishment of mental hospitals. Now we as a society have, in effect, returned to the 1800s. In 1955, there was one bed in a psychiatric ward for every 300 Americans; now there is one for every 3,000 Americans, the 2010 study said. So while more effective pharmacological treatments are theoretically available, they are often very difficult to access for people who are only borderline.” I am different if I ever was in trouble again I would want to go to jail if I am medicated.  I’ve been to both the state hospital and jail.  I did not like jail unmedicated but would prefer it if I was medicated.
Ending the article: “TAXPAYERS spend as much as $ 300 or $400 a day supporting patients with psychiatric disorders while they are in jail, partly because the mentally ill require medication and extra supervision and care. ‘Fiscally, this is the stupidest thing I’ve seen government do, Dart says.  It would be far cheaper, he adds, to manage the mentally ill with a case worker on the outside than to spend such sums incarcerating them.  Cook County has implemented an exemplary system for mental health support for inmates. While in jail, they often stabilize.  Then they are released, go off their medication and cycle repeats.’”  They need the stabilization out here.  When a jail becomes a mental ward we need help.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Schizophrenia in the limelight: Film-industry technology provides insights

That is the title of this article I am reviewing for this blog.  “The first 30 seconds of a social encounter is crucial for people with symptoms of schizophrenia for establishing contact with people, according to new research carried out at Queen Mary University of London.  Using motion capture technology more commonly found in the film industry, the researchers studied social interactions of patients in a group and analysed the patterns of verbal and non-verbal communication.  Publishing in the journal PLOS ONE today, researchers found people with schizophrenia are sidelined in conversation even when other participants are unaware of their illness.  To examine this, scientists set up a conversation between three people and investigated how peoples’ involvement varied.  Each participant wore clothing with 27 reflective markers, which were tracked in 3D by an array of infrared cameras in the Augmented Human interaction Laboratory, part of Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.”  I already know I hardly start a conversation.  I have always been shy all my life.  I have to know a person before I will open up.  So I cannot say if it ties into my schizophrenia.
People talk to me I will answer. “This is the first time motion capture techniques have been applied to clinical populations to analyse how people relate to each other, and the complex social barriers faced by some people with mental health problems, said co-author Professor Pat Healey, head of Cognitive Science Research Group, which is part of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. ‘Nonverbal communication, such as gestures, nodding and posture, are key part of face-to-face communication.  The motion capture equipment allows us to study this non-verbal choreography in live interactions in an unprecedented level of detail.’ In the study, the team observed that people with symptoms of schizophrenia were more withdrawn and less likely to be spoken to in the opening moments of the conversations, and found it harder to engage the other participants.  The difficulties in these opening moments are connected with other participants feeling less rapport immediately following the encounter but aren’t linked to the severity of the patient’s illness, which were measured by standard assessments of symptoms.” I always nod yes or no.  Although I learned in prison when I was running a gambling table that you never show any emotion on your face if you are trying to make money. I have developed that so I never show what is going on with me.  Except with my family they know sometimes when things bother me.
The article goes on to say: “Co-author Dr Mary Lavelle, now based at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: ‘This research demonstrates the impact of first impressions on interpersonal success for people with schizophrenia.  Understanding why this happens could be key in tackling the social difficulties experienced by patients.’ It’s known that interactions with others are important for people showing symptoms or that have been diagnosed or treated for schizophrenia—those that have better social networks are more able to cope with their illness.  Co-author Professor Rose McCabe, now based at University of Exeter Medical School, said: ‘The research could be critical in supporting patients with schizophrenia because we know that those who have good interpersonal relationships have much better health outcomes, and it will help us take the next steps toward improving outcomes and reducing social exclusion.’ Professor Healey added: ‘In future it may be possible to use motion capture from video game technology such as the Kinect system to get similar data from more everyday surroundings.’” I know from reading the web that other schizophrenia people have this same problem.  Some cannot like be start a conversation unless it is about the weather. If someone knows me I talk about my grandkids.  Although it is hard for me to keep a conversation going.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bacteria May Be at Fault in Antipsychotic-Induced Weight Gain

That is the title of the article I am writing about.  Sooner or later they have to find out why we gain weight with medicine and what can be done about it. “The 100 trillion or so bacteria that reside in the human gastrointestinal tract may offer an unexpected benefit—a means of countering weight gain from use of antipsychotics.  A solution to the problem of antipsychotic-provoked weight gain may lie in the bacteria that make their home in the gut, some researchers believe.  Animal research has suggested that bacteria that reside in the gut play a key role in energy regulation and obesity.  A link between obesity and gut bacteria has also been found in humans.  Moreover, John Cryan, Ph.D., chair of anatomy and neuroscience at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, and his colleagues recently found, in rats, that chronic olanzapine treatment altered the composition of bacteria living in the gut.  Cryan and colleagues thus reasoned that if they were able to find a way of reversing olanzapine-induced weight gain in the animals.  I hope they find out what causes this weight gain and find something that works to reduce it.  I really doubt that I will ever be at the weight I was for thirty years till I stopped smoking and gained all this weight.  It did not happen slowly either I gained pretty fast.
All I really want to lose is my stomach. “First they gave the rats olanzapine and found that it led not only to rapid weight gain and an increase in visceral fat, but to shift in the abundance of the major types of bacteria inhabiting the animals’ guts.  Specifically, it increased the phyla Firmicutes and decreased the phyla Bacteriodetes. This same shift had been found in obese animals and humans in the past.  They gave the rats a cocktail of broad spectrum antibiotics.  They found that the antibiotics not only caused the bacteria in the guts of the rats to shift back toward their original state, but attenuated the rats’ olanzapine-induced weight gain and visceral fat accumulation by some 20 percent.  Thus it looked as if antibiotics might be a way of countering antipsychotic-induced weight gain in humans.  A problem with this strategy, though, is that it could increase antibiotic resistance, which is of broad public-health concern, the researchers pointed out in their report which was published online October 1, 2013, in Translational Psychiatry. We all know that taking antibiotics lowers them working the next time or in the future.  At least they are working on the problem.  Do not know how long it will take to find a cure so people do not gain weight in the future off of antipsychotics.
The article ends with: “Nonetheless, they believe that gut bacteria might constitute a new target for finding a way of countering antipsychotic-induced weight gain in humans.  And as Cryan told Psychiatric News, ‘We are currently investigating whether other strategies for manipulating the gut microbiota may be useful in animal models and then [Tested] in humans.’ Meanwhile, other research groups are using gut bacteria to counter obesity due to causes other than antipsychotics, Cryan noted.  ‘This is a really exciting area, probably the best developed in microbiome research.’” Yes it is exciting that someone is working on this and they are finding out what is causing all this weight gain from antipsychotics.  Now if they can find a way to stop it that does not hurt people with mental illness.