Tag Archives: NAMI

It’s time for an update

4 Apr

A lot has gone on since the last update.  I have decided to change from identifying as gender variant to gender queer, as I learn more about the community and more about what terms mean I learn more where I fit.  Since my sexuality is no where near heterosexual and is shifting with my gender identity as well as still staying somewhat on the asexual spectrum, I decided to go with gender queer.   I talked to the therapist yesterday AGAIN about being referred to the gender specialist and I think it’s finally going to happen!  At least she thinks I’m stable enough.  I’m not going to mention the last bout with the voices to the therapist or my case manager for a couple weeks, just in case.

I plan on getting my hair cut to look more masculine and also because it gets super hot here in California in the summer, and it’s already starting to warm up.  My roommates don’t keep the apartment as cool as my parents kept the house and next year it will be harder as we will be paying utilities.  I know people will have a problem with my hair cut, but I hope they will adjust.

I got accepted to go to T-Camp which is a retreat for people under the Trans umbrella at colleges in northern California; it’s two days and coming up next weekend.  I’m not sure what to expect but I’m excited I got accepted.

I’m also starting NAMI’s Peer to Peer class in mid April and I’ve been trying to get into that for like 2 years.  It’s either been in the wrong county or interfered with my school schedule.  It’s 10 sessions, twice a week.

So lots of exciting things coming up!

Resource- Supporting Friends

28 Jul

This was created to be geared towards teens but I think it is helpful for anyone.

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NAMI Walks Stats Form

2 Apr

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NAMI Walk

27 Apr

Today I did the NAMI Walk. I went with an old friend from high school, her dog, my sister, family friend, and Dexter. Dexter got tuckered out after the first loop, so him, my sister and family friend just sat by the start/end line of the loop.

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Here is a picture of me and Dexter. We all had matching green shirts. Since I was mostly walking with the friend from high school I was kind of anxious about what to say and keeping a conversation and all the stuff that goes with that. I think if she had asked me any direct questions I would have answered them honestly. It’s odd not wanting to say something because of stigma and reaction but also being tired of hiding something that is so much a part of you. She asked a little about NAMI and I told her about parts and the conference I went to last year. We talked about the upcoming Disney marathon we are both doing. She asked me how long my sister and brother in law had been together. I know I was nervous and just kept saying random stuff to prevent the silence I can’t stand.

Afterwards, all 4 of us went to the local ice cream place. We dropped off the dogs. It was fun the 4 of us hanging out, my anxiety was much less since my sister and family friend were both there leading the conversation most the time. I didn’t feel left out at all, just relieved and having fun. We laughed a bunch, talked about random stuff from hot celebrities, to dating in the past, Botox and facial expressions, and how many calories different sexual acts burned (the girls looked it up on their phone). I laughed along and you can probably tell by the topics I didn’t really start any of those conversations. We even decided we had fun and all four of us should hang out together again.

It’s funny because in those hours I was at the walk and then lunch afterwards I felt like a semi normal person. Granted I was having quiet bird squeaking hallucinations on the car ride between the walk and ice cream, which I probably shouldn’t have asked my sister and family friend if they heard, but its just a reminder that my mental illnesses will always be a part of me. I was smiling, I felt as comfortable as I ever do, I was laughing and out in public.

Some good things

19 Apr

I had a counseling session today, things have been pretty calm lately and there wasn’t much to talk about so I even ended up leaving a little early.  I wrote a message to my psychiatrist as he wanted an update on how the Prazosin was working.  I gave him the update which is (condensed):  Started 1mg Prazosin last Friday night.  Haven’t had a night terror since last Wednesday.  Don’t know for sure if it’s the new med.  At one point having a couple night terrors a week but there have been periods of two weeks without one.  No real side effects, maybe tired but that might just be because things have calmed down lately.  Less restless and on edge.  Will up it to 1mg in am and the one in pm starting Saturday.  I received a reply from him that was really pleasant and positive, which is a rarity he tends to be clinical and dry or wary and worried.  The message pretty much said that was good news and we’ll know in a couple weeks the full benefit of the Prazosin.

I’m going to Tahoe this weekend to lil sis’s house so I may be absent a bit.  It seems I haven’t been writing much personal lately already so it probably won’t even seem like an absence.

I mentioned in an earlier post about doing our local NAMI walk and I now have a friend from high school that is joining me and my sister and possibly family friend.  I also had another classmate from high school donate to the walk.  It was very nice and thoughtful as I know she doesn’t have a lot of money and lives on disability.

Just signed up

31 Mar

I’ve mentioned before how this year I plan on doing a Disney Half Marathon in September.  I’ve been training since the beginning of the year, though not much in this last week with all the issues.  I am doing a couple other walks this year, part to train and part because of the people I’m doing it with or to support a cause.  Anyways, I just signed up to do the NAMIWalk which is April 27th.  It’s only 3 miles so it’s a nice build up.  I’ve posted resources from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) on this blog before.  The purpose of this walk is for fundraising and awareness.  If any of my fellow followers would like to donate money, any amount helps follow this link.  Thanks

Resource: NAMI, new non-pill treatments being studies

12 Mar

NAMI just released at article about treatments for depression that are being investigated in both with conjunction with medication and used solely.  These two different procedures are tDCS (transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) likened to ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy, “shock therapy”) but without anesthesia and the side effects such as memory loss.  The other is TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) which is harder to do blind studies I guess.   Here are a couple quotes from the article and the full article can be found with all the study details here.

Although ECT and tDCS both use electricity to stimulate the brain, tDCS uses only 1/400th the current of ECT. ECT is performed under anesthesia and lasts only a few seconds; tDCS is administered through two electrodes placed on a patient’s temples while fully conscious and takes 20 to 30 minutes. The tDCS device is small and portable and operates on 9-volt batteries. Currently, there are no tDCS devices that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on the brain

 

Another type of brain stimulation that does have approval of the FDA is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). It was approved in 2008 for treatment of depression that is not responsive to medication. TMS uses a magnetic coil held above the scalp to induce electrical currents in the brain. TMS can target specific areas of the brain compared to ECT. However, compared to tDCS, it is more expensive and has a stronger effect, which may carry a stronger risk for seizure. It is also harder to conduct double-blind studies with TMS, as it is harder to “sham,” or fake its sounds and effects.

What constitutes severe mental illness?

21 Jan

I am often told I have severe mental illness or serious mental illness.  I have also been told my illnesses are acute, chronic, prone to exacerbation  and “high risk.”  Today has been a thinking day, which you can probably tell by my multiple posts.  So I decided to do some research and find out exactly what constitutes a severe or serious mental illness and which ones specifically fit into that category.  Here is what I found out, links follow specific quotes and information.

My first two sources are well known associations on mental health/illness.

Q: What mental disorders are the most severe?

A: The mental disorders with the highest proportion of seriously disabling 12-month cases are: bipolar disorder (83 percent); drug dependence (57 percent); and obsessive-compulsive disorder (51 percent). Interestingly, impulse-control disorders, which have been neglected in most previous epidemiological studies of adults, have a greater proportion at the serious level than either anxiety disorders or substance use disorders.

Q: What makes a disorder “severe,” as opposed to “moderate” or “mild?”

A: Severe disorders were defined as cases which had any of the following: suicide attempt within the preceding 12 months with serious lethality intent; work disability or substantial limitation due to a mental or substance disorder; psychosis; bipolar I or II disorder; substance dependence with serious role impairment (as defined by disorder-specific impairment questions); an impulse-control disorder with repeated serious violence; or any disorder that resulted in an inability to function in a particular social role for 30 or more days in the year. Cases were defined as moderate if they had any of the following: suicide gesture, plan or ideation; substance dependence without serious role impairment; at least moderate work limitation due to a mental or substance disorder; or any disorder with at least moderate role impairment in two or more domains of the Sheehan Disability Scales. All other cases were classified mild

From National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

So this information surprised me and also made me frustrated.  For the first question the answers were bipolar, drug dependence, and OCD.  What bothered me is that they threw in that these illnesses were at a more “serious level than either anxiety disorders.”  I have dealt with anxiety and probably never had it in an extreme form.  But I know for a fact anxiety can be disabling  causes some people to even refuse to leave their house, unable to be employed or be around other people.  Of course anxiety can be milder just as depression and even bipolar disorder, but to add that sentence at the end seemed like a slap in the face, especially considering the source.  For the next question, it answer my question of severe verses not severe disorders.  So severe= serious suicide attempt, work disability, psychosis, either bipolar disorder, substance dependence, impulse control with violence, or any disorder which causes an inability to function in a social role for a month.  Alright, so the only specific disorder they specify here are bipolar I and II and substance dependence.  A suicide attempt is not a disorder but a symptom and also one that doesn’t necessarily indicate mental illness anyways.  Also frustrating is it has to be “with serious lethality intent.”  Work disability can be given for stress here in the US, stress is also not a disorder and some people with serious mental illnesses do not receive work disability for various reasons.  Psychosis again not a disorder but a symptom and again not necessarily indicates mental illness.  Impulse control is not seen as a disorder either but a symptom and in NIMH’s opinion it must be tied to violence.  And as for the last example I am curious what they mean by “social role.”  Next it moves to what makes a disorder moderate: suicide gesture, plan or ideation; substance dependence that doesn’t impair functioning; moderate work limitation; and moderate role impairment on some scale I do not know about.  All other are mild. As for this definition of “moderate” I wonder if not serious suicide attempt fits as “suicidal gesture,” since it is not stated in any other severity of the disorder.  I know people dependent on substances that would not consider themselves to have a disorder.  And for the last two I guess it is up to the physician, psychiatrist, GP, PCP, or insurance companies to define “moderate” in regard to work functioning and the other scale.  So many things in the answers to these two questions make me angry.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers

From National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

So this information is a little better in my opinion then that from the NIMH.  First off that it includes depression, OCD, panic disorder (a variety of anxiety disorders), PTSD, and BPD.  It also included bipolar which is mentioned by NIMH and schizophrenia which is what most people think when they hear psychosis.  I also like the fact that they speak of mental illness of a continuum and included children and adolescents in those that can be affected.  The only really issue I have with this source is that they don’t give examples of severity such as functioning in work, social or other situations.

What is serious mental illness?

Serious mental illness includes diagnoses which typically involve psychosis (losing touch with reality or experiencing delusions) or high levels of care, and which may require hospital treatment. Here we look at two of the most common severe mental illnesses: schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (or manic depression)

From Mental Health Wales

This is just a quick description looking at two disorders.  The website goes on to describe bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  I like that they refer to “two of the most common severe mental illnesses” which indicates that there are more.  Also there is high level of care which also shows room for other reasons that are not specific which could indicate other disorders.

Severe and persistent mental illness, or SPMI, is the term mental health professionals use to describe mental illnesses with complex symptoms that require ongoing treatment and management, most often varying types and dosages of medication and therapy

A Cyclical Illness

Severe mental illness typically does not level off and remain at a steady state. Rather, symptoms come and go in relation to stress. As a result, people with SPMI may be able to function independently for periods of time but may need intensive support with housing, school, work, social functioning, and other everyday life concerns when they experience a stressful event.

Common SPMI Illnesses

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Delusional disorder, psychosis not-otherwise-specified, and other psychotic disorders
  • Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression
  • Severe depression that resists treatment and impacts ability to function
  • Personality disorders that are severe enough to prevent functioning

From UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health

From this source I like that it mentions treatment and included therapy and not just medication.  I also appreciate how they view severe mental illness as cyclical, since there are times of functioning that are better than others, and it mentions stressful events as sometimes increasing severity.  Many of the common disorders are those mentioned in the earlier sources.

 

As a whole…  I want to mention that these four sources were on the first search from Google.  Two are from well known reputable associations that are related to mental illness.  Looking at these descriptions under ALL 4, I met the criteria.  I have Schizoaffective- bipolar type and borderline personality disorder.  As for the first source, I have bipolar disorder in the sense that it goes along with schizophrenic symptoms making the label schizoaffective, I also deal with psychosis, and have work disability.  As for NAMI’s description I have Schizoaffective disorder which encompasses the first three disorders listed major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and the BPD.  The third source also talks about psychosis and hospitalization, I’ve experienced both.  And specifies schizophrenia which I won’t mention again are aspects of my first diagnosis.  The last source actually mention schizoaffective disorder and says “Personality disorders that are severe enough to prevent functioning” which most people consider my BPD to be; as mentioned earlier I like the cyclic view.

Mental Health in the Media (Part 2)

11 Dec

I had previously written a blog about mental health in the media (see link below.)  It was after going to see the film “Silver Lining Playbook” which is about a guy who has spent a couple months in the hospital after a breakdown of his marriage.  As he gets out he is determine to get his wife back, he meets a woman who is dealing with grief from the loss (death) of her husband.  I mentioned in the post before there is some accurate portrayal of mental illness:

It shows him going to see his therapist and about how he refuses to take his medicine because it makes him “foggy,” one of the things that is quite accurate about taking psychoactive drugs. I won’t give away the movie but it often refers to some of his behaviors being because of his illness, shows some family history, and even ties in a couple flashbacks and triggers

I also mention the inaccuracies especially relating to the very short scenes in the inpatient facility:

He is in his room with the door closed (not allowed in our hospitals, for goodness sake you’re bathroom doesn’t even have a door, just a curtain.)  They show him outside unsupervised, also wouldn’t happen.

Mental Health in the Media

What made me want to repost this was today on my Facebook page I saw an article for a movie review on NAMI.  Link below.  The movie was “Silver Lining Playbook.”  The review talks about how the movie was a little bit of everything and how it showed honesty.  It talks about specific things I didn’t think about:

Therapy sessions, a house, a family, football, routines, dancing, cooking, mental illness, mothering, marriage, neighbors and community, fathers and sons, romance—with no filters, the film slowly develops through the laissez-faire, “natural” directing style of Russell.

At times laugh-out-loud funny, but at others tearful in its authenticity, we feel the pain and struggles of Pat and Tiffany as well as their families and friends. But like them, we are led to a simple understanding. The film reveals that we all have our issues—clearly some have it worse, but deep down, we are all the same

Delivering a dramedy about mental illness can be a challenge. Handled in the wrong way, it could trivialize or sensationalize. But Silver Linings Playbook manages to entertain while filling us with joy at the revelation of just how alike we really are.

NAMI Honesty: “Silver Lining Playbook”

PAfter reading the review and thinking back to watching the movie, I agree that it does give a good “natural” feel.  It doesn’t just show the bad side when recovering from mental illness, it shows the importance of support and does it in a real manner.  I guess what initially turned me off was the simplicity of it all.  I do like the reviews quote about trivializing or sensationalizing mental illness.  I do however think it was a bit stereotyped and that books often portray a more accurate picture of mental illness.

NAMI “You are not alone” Kate’s story of DID

9 Dec

NAMI is doing a “You are not alone” campaign where they are encouraging people to submit their stories to help give hope to other people.  Every couple days NAMI features one and links it to their Facebook page, the one today was on DID by Kate.  She talks about working and going to school, trying to raise children and deal with marriages all while dealing with mental illness.  She speaks about struggles she has had and her perspective on things.  There was one quote I really liked:

From talking with friends and co-workers over the years, I know that many people have a completely inaccurate impression of people with mental illness. They may want to help people like me but they don’t want to work with us or have to interact with us. They may write a check to make a donation but that’s it. It is very hard to face the fact that if they heard my whole story and knew that I have DID, they might not accept me anymore. I’ve even heard my boss make disparaging comments about people with mental illness so I would fear for my job if my history became known.

 

I encourage you to go read Kate’s story.  Kate’s Story