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Month: May 2011

Notes on the DBSA National Conference Part 2

Posted on May 31, 2011 in Bipolar Disorder DBSA Support Groups and Conferences Suicide

“I don’t want to die,” she thought. “But if you don’t want to die,” that still small voice of her conscience asked her, “why did you try to commit suicide?”

Cruel Hacker Tricks: Bullying the Mentally Ill

Posted on May 30, 2011 in Internet Privacy Mean People Stigma

We who live with mental illness periodically put up with this kind of dirty trickery. I have been subjected to it, but not on the level that Beckie is being made to experience.


Posted on May 30, 2011 in Dreams

I’m going to the Claremont Graduate School to complete a degree in social science. Or is it English literature?


Insert a Trite Metaphor for a Corral No. 99

Posted on May 29, 2011 in Roundup

Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. ~Abraham Lincoln

square731These past few weeks have seen some of the harshest weather in memory. Tornadoes hit several states — including California which is as famous for its twisters as Wyoming is for its liberals — and snow fell in New York until very recently. We’ve been having rain well into May and if more falls in June, I will not be surprised. What we can expect from previous years has been distorted beyond all recognition and yet not a single news agency has made the connection between these events and global climate change because that is not politically correct in an age where the order of the day in journalism is “controversy” — a world where nothing is proven, especially where scientific facts point to major industry practices. I’m looking to see more denial and a major depopulation of certain red states as climate-denying lemmings rush to escape the fury of pollution driven winds.

Kurt Rutzen testifies before the Minnesota Senate about the impact of the budget cuts for the disabled. He asks “What about the people who don’t have families to care for them?” Kurt lives with cerebral palsy.


Dead Skunk and Turkey Vultures

Posted on May 26, 2011 in Creatures Driving Neighborhood

square730Two black bundles of feathers swaggered along the curb on Ridgeline Road. The turkey vultures held their scarlet heads even with the horizontal tilt of their tails. As we passed, they abandoned their carcass and flew into the trees. The brash, bitter scent of their prey — a skunk — blinded the nostrils.

Three hours after sunset ended the scavenging, the odor climbed the hill and barged in beneath the crack of the door.


Notes on the 2011 DBSA National Conference Part 1

Posted on May 25, 2011 in Addictions Anxiety Bipolar Disorder DBSA Support Groups and Conferences Stigma Sugar and Fat Travel - Conferences

square729The first big secret divulged to me and a select group of others was that the rumor that Peter Ashenden had been fired by [[Depression_and_Bipolar_Support_Alliance|DBSA]] after embezzling most of its assets ((Ashenden left because he was offered a job working for former DBSA head Sue Bergestrom at United Healthcare. The worst that can be said about him is that he sold out to Big Insurance.)) was not true. ((Thankfully I never spread this one. Nor is it true that our next conference is going to be in Hawaii.)) DBSA had worked itself into the red due to optimistic budgeting based on the assumption that the pharmaceuticals industry would continue its philanthropic support of its customer base. [[Abbott_Laboratories|Abbott]] — long a supporter of DBSA — left the psycho-pharmaceuticals field entirely. Money budgeted was based on what DBSA hoped to bring in. This led to $400,000 in payables in 2010. The board changed it method of budgeting to a zero-sum scheme meaning that you budgeted only the money left over at the end of the previous year. This meant a smaller operating fund — 44% of DBSA’s employees had to be phased out — but payables now stand at $20,000.

“I have not given up my neuroses,” said keynote speaker [[Patty Duke]]. “I have given up my psychoses. I am just enough neurotic to make me interesting.”

Duke is a tiny, frail woman (at least as far as I can see), far in figure from the [[Helen Keller]] she played in [[The Miracle Worker]]. Nonetheless, she moved the crowd with her account of her life as a person living with bipolar disorder. “Our disability is not a label we wear,” she extolled. “I wear the label of ‘we can, we do.”

The most meaningful part of the talk for me was where she spoke of her life as a bipolar harridan who tormented her family. She confessed that “I, Patty Duke, was an abusive Mom.

It started with the verbal abuse. My children never knew who they were going to meet…These children united with each other. When I was diagnosed and treated, it took some time for them to trust me….I didn’t exhibit these behaviors at the workplace. I exhibited them as soon as I got in the car, as soon as I got on the car phone. I exhibited them on my family.

Many mothers stood up and confessed to similar predicaments. The men were silent, but I think they knew what she was talking about, too. I, for one, resisted having children in part because I feared my rages. In the 23 years of our marriage, I have never hit or threatened to hit Lynn, even though my disorder seethed and overflowed. I attempted to break keyboards over my knee. I punched the wall. Still, I realized how easily the still hand could turn to a slap across the face. When you united them, they could push and a child is so small. Little bones encased in the slightest sack of skin and flesh could be broken like this. I feared the big man who could hurt. But now, I look at the long loneliness ahead. Other people my age already have grandchildren and children in college. What bonds can I form with my peers? My disorder and my consciousness of it have cost me life.

Near the end of her talk, Duke said “Our disease used to be a death sentence.” It still remains a prison cell for some of us.

Patty Duke

I started overeating after I surrendered my previous tension-cutting activity which was to chew on a pen and roll it around between my incisors. This not only wore down the teeth, but also ground a roundish hole. You could place any writing implement there and see the fit. I had to give this up because I started taking my oral health seriously. My dentist said the habit — along with my routine failure to brush — had to cease. So my nerves led me to substitute food as the all-natural anti-anxiety drug of choice.

Linda Chase LCSW said that it was all in the hands. She observed that the victims of emotional eating were people who moved their hands toward food even when not physically hungry. It was compulsive and uncontrollable, a self-destructive attempt at self-help. Serious eating disorders may result from it, but it can be overcome through treatment.

People do it for pretty much the same reasons — save one — that I chewed on my pens. It comforts, sooths, nurtures, numbs, sedates, and distracts. Through the extra-sized burger on your plate, you can escape painful emotions. Tension, anger, or frustration can be discharged by the rhythmic motions of your jaw. Some people reported that the comfort came from the larger body size they attained as a result. People feared you or they did not desire you sexually. ((This could also be true of someone with bad teeth as I had.)) Intimacy could be avoided.

There’s a cycle that we emotional eaters follow. First comes the cultural body ideal which suggests that you need to have the same svelte figure that you had at age 20. As fatty tissue accumulates with age — as it does for all of us — we panic. We label our big butts or our guts as ugly. So we resort to extreme diets that approach our former selves. But this is like putting ourselves in prison. Locked away and tortured by a life in which we allow ourselves not even a single chocolate chip cookie, we go stark-raving mad. Then we find ourselves in a store buying up our comfort foods and we eat them — all at once! This destroys any good and any anorexia ((Not every objective of a starvation regime is positive)) our diet may have accomplished. We look at our recently refattened bodies and feel guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety. So to escape these, we overeat some more until we look at ourselves again, measure our bodies against ridiculous cultural ideals, and return to our prisons. Each time this happens, we gain and lose more weight than before.

95 to 98% of who experience this drastic cycle gain all the weight back plus more. What we don’t realize is that there are happy and unhappy people in all sizes. True we should eat healthily, but do we need to excise chocolate chip cookies entirely from our lives? Do we need to exercise every day, eschewing every other activity that gives us pleasure until we feel like rats on a wheel? It is healthier to be large and fit than to be thin and unfit.

I liked some of her suggestions: First, seek a stable weight. I am aiming for 220 pounds rather than the 180 pounds of my youth for example, and when I get there, I will do what restraint and what necessary eating to stay in that region. Second, avoid yo-yo diets. Chase does not endorse radical surgeries for controlling your weight mostly because it does not address the emotional eating issues. She also warns us to be aware that some medications cause us to gain weight and require that we guard ourselves against entering a diet/binge cycle in an attempt to control it. Third, eat when you are hungry and eat what you want. This requires that you learn to recognize true hunger as opposed to emotional gratification. Successful challengers of emotional eating stock the foods that they occasionally love. Instead of turning your kitchen into a desert island, have those chocolate chip cookies around. I am diabetic. But I keep my favorite foods around, marking very carefully how much of each I eat and not eating too much of anything. Fourth, love your body as it is when it gets fit. Be nurturing towards yourself so that you don’t stampede into bad eating habits. Exercise in ways that give you pleasure. ((I love to plug in my Droid and listen to music when I get on the treadmill. Losing myself in the music helps me move on.))

Cheese pursued me everywhere. It arrived on the table in the Southwestern-style lasagna the hotel served for lunch during the Chapter Leadership Forum. It lurked on the pizza they served for those who went to the Friday night focus group. It lay in wait on the sandwiches they served for lunch on the main day of the conference. The hotel staff spared me the suffering a migraine or starvation by bringing me steamed vegetables on the first day’s lunch. I skipped the pizza and ate a salad rich in pickled peppers. During the second day’s lunch, I stripped the mozzarella from the turkey and passed it over to my friend Chato. The others at my table assumed that I was lactose-intolerant. I explained that I could drink milk, spoon up yogurt, and enjoy the cheesecake they brought for dessert. The [[tyramine|tyramines]], I explained, were what spoiled my equanimity. No one had a clue what those were.

Charles Willis got me to thinking about how a child is a captive audience who often does not get a chance to learn how to establish boundaries for her or himself. Parents can insist that their opinions reign supreme and that the child must internalize them. This can be the source of much misery later in life. And I will define this destruction of boundaries as one of the hallmarks of abusive parenting.

I think that abusive parents destroy boundaries because they, themselves, have trouble having them. They feel impelled to reach out and encompass their children. In the abusive family, the members are not allowed to accept their condition — they must drop the walls and be their condition as the hierarchs of the family define it.

I told one mother who was worried that her depressed sons would end up as failures that I personally had been sucked down by such thinking in my parents. I was told not to seek care for my illness. My family members worried that they would somehow be accused of doing what they did (of all things!) It meant the ruin of my life. I’m not sure Willis understood where I was coming from, but that is what issued forth.

The key to recovery is to acknowledge feelings and exert choice in how we respond. We may not be able to control our triggers, but we can plan for them. I can agree with this.

To be continued.


Planet Houston

Posted on May 24, 2011 in Travel - Conferences

My shrieks of frustration could not be heard beyond the door of my hotel room following the day that I had on Thursday, when I shifted my presence from California to Texas.


Insert a Trite Metaphor for a Corral #98

Posted on May 22, 2011 in Roundup

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.~ James Thurber

square727This was the week when Paul Ryan attempted to rebrand his tortured Medicare proposal and make his pitch to younger people. Ryan looked tired after a busy week of being heckled by those his Path to Prosperity would shred. Methinks he puts his faith in the gullibility of young people, an emotion which overcame him when he first read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. But young people haven’t been going to Atlas Shrugged and it is a few months before DVD sales begin which are important because Rand’s followers can inflate the sales numbers with a few thousand strategic buys and returns. ((I’ve long suspected that the overwhelming sales of Atlas Shrugged were exaggerated and possibly faked by a deft manipulation of the book market. The big yawn over the film suggests that I may well be right.)) Is Rand through? There are 18 months to go before voters pass judgment. We will see.

If there is vital new news that didn’t make it, my apologies. I was in Houston waiting to be raptured.


The Health Care Reform That Has Yet to Happen

Posted on May 16, 2011 in Dentition Depression Insurance Psychotropics

square726A plague is sweeping the nation. Three out of four Americans suffer from it. It is virulent and contagious. It destroys living tissue and bone. Bacteria at the point of infection inject their poisons into the bloodstream, exporting the destruction to other parts of the body. [[Cardiovascular disease]], [[joint problems]], [[pancreatic cancer]], [[diabetes]], [[asthma]], [[osteoporosis]], and even [[Alzheimer’s disease]] have been associated with it. Yet normal insurance does not cover its treatment. It was not part of health care reform. Most Americans are covered only to the tune of a couple of thousand dollars a year or less.

Bacterial plaque of the mouth is vile. ((Plaque occurs in layers. It looks like a thick off-white goo. As it builds up, the most destructive bacteria migrate to the bottom where they exist in an environment that is without air, light, or food. The longer you don’t brush your teeth, the thicker these colonies will be. And it is important to brush regularly: the bacteria growth or [[Pellicle_(dental)|pellicle]] can reestablish itself in only twenty minutes!)) Most people think it only causes [[caries]] or [[gingivitis]]. But recent studies show that the bacteria dump their waste products into the blood stream — a phenomenon called bacterima — causing problems in other parts of your body. If left untreated, the acids and other waste products will erode the bone of your mouth. This cannot be replaced. You will lose your teeth and if the condition is serious enough, you won’t be able to replace them with dentures or other dental appliances.

Healthy, mentally stable people think it is a simple matter to keep your mouth clean. Consider the third of the population who suffer from major [[depression]] though. When you twirl and fall into the morass as I did, you see your mouth as a hopeless cause. Why brush? Why floss? The commercials all say that your teeth must be white. ((Their natural color is yellow.)) You look into the mirror and fail to see the brilliant flash that advertising and employers say must be there. Even professional polishing fails to brighten your grimace. As conditions worsen, the costs of repairing the damage increase. It becomes more difficult to chew. Your jaw aches. So you give up.

Clearly, this is yet another symptom of the psychiatric disorder. But despite the broader health implications of the [[biofilm]], insurance companies and the public in general view dental care as cosmetic — about as important a medical concern as shaving or getting a haircut.

Insurance treats your mouth as an alien camper in your body. If you turn your lungs into a cancerous sac by smoking, your costs are covered to $750,000. If you become addicted to alcohol or other drugs, your rehabilitation is paid for. But most people are covered only to the tune of $1,500 or less each year. Beyond that low bar you have to pay out of your own pocket.

Do you see the discrepancy? Diseases caused by smoking and alcohol are equally caused by a lack of self control, yet they are covered. You can get your oxygen paid under Medicare ((At least for now)) and a heart bypass covered under most insurance, but there’s nothing out there for a dental implant if you need it. It cost me $40,000 to fix my mouth. Most of this came from my family and a large contribution by my Quaker meeting’s sharing fund. It has taken us years to recover from my melancholy-induced negligence.

In 2008, Congress mandated mental health parity. This meant that my bipolar disorder — which had indirectly caused my dental disaster — was now covered. Barring changes by this Republican Congress, regular care for this life-threatening condition of mine was now possible.

Given the wider damage wreaked by bacterima, it’s about time that there was parity for dental work.


Insert a Trite Metaphor for a Corral #97

Posted on May 15, 2011 in Roundup

The Republicans can no longer hide in the afterglow of bin Laden’s death


Keeping Your Teeth and Your Sanity

Posted on May 11, 2011 in Bipolar Disorder Dentition Psychotropics

The scariest fact is that more than 600 drugs cause dry mouth. This includes all antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-convulsants, and stimulants.


Insert a Trite Metaphor for a Corral #96

Posted on May 8, 2011 in Roundup

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. -Eleanor Roosevelt

square723Almost as soon as the story about bin Laden’s death came out, people began putting up notices on Facebook that said “Obama didn’t kill [[Osama bin Laden]], a soldier did.” This was countered by many of us who posted “If Obama doesn’t get credit for killing Osama because he didn’t pull the trigger, does that mean that bin Laden gets a pass because he didn’t fly the planes?” The Deathers rose fast and crashed hard when their allegations that bin Laden wasn’t really dead were destroyed by [[Al Qaeda]]’s announcement that it would seek revenge for the death of their leader. One commenter gasped “Oh no! The conspiracy is so vast that even Al Qaeda is in on it!”

Silverado Canyon from the Motorway 4/20/2011

Silverado Canyon from the Motorway

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