Archive for September, 2010

September 30, 2010

parental consent

My parents left this morning to go back to the ‘homeland.’ It was really great to have been able to take a quick trip to New York City with the entire family and also have a little extra time with them in the town where my sister and I live.

But to be really honest, I do feel some relief now that they have left…and they’ve also left me with the feeling that I’m an inadequate person. It is no surprise to me that they commented about my weight during their stay, as they usually do. Mom even threw in the “You’re not going to get a boyfriend at your weight” this time around.  They also had an issue with the cleanliness of my living place, and lectured me on how it’s bad to have a television set in the bedroom. Aside from other stuff, they were especially adamant that I go to a school that would provide me with some sort of a ‘license’ (e.g. lawyer, pharmacist, etc.) once I’m done getting my masters in sociology, which is I’m working on now.

As they tell me about what I’m not doing correctly, they point out about how I should know better since I’m thirty years old. But I feel nothing like a 30-year-old woman. I don’t even feel like a young adult. All I feel like is a little kid that’s getting scolded by her parents for spilling milk. A little child whose world revolves around the words of her parents.

I know they mean well. It would definitely be better for my health to be at a lower weight, and that will contribute to lowering the risk of having other health issues and helping with my moods. I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight (for my size) over the last year, but there’s kind of a limit as to how much I can be told by others, especially from family members, that I need to look different. Obviously, with the economic situation now, having a license in something will help in trying to get a job, albeit a specific type of occupation. But at what point do some “advice” become almost detrimental to one’s psyche? Sometimes, I forget that I’m doing something, anything,  for myself, because so much just feels like I’m doing it for someone else’s sake.

As I write this, I still so desperately want their approval and cling to their words for some sort of a sign that I’m doing okay. It should be noted that they support me financially—and I am very grateful for that support. But I’m starting to recognize that the terms of this relationship need to evolve into something else, because I am thirty years old. I should be at a point where I recognize for myself if I think I’m getting a bit chunky, and not be shamed by someone else to lose a few pounds, clean up my place, or choose an occupation path. I’m not quite sure how to make such a change in our relationship, but what I do know is that I cannot wait for them to change or think that they will change somehow. All I can control is myself.

And so I remind myself, I’m more than just a chubby kid who really sucks at cleaning house. I’m so much more. But I will admit that this is not an easy process. It’s hard to not have those comments stare back at me as I face myself or my thoughts.

But again, I remind myself of that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

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September 29, 2010

a little pat on the back

I wasn’t too familiar with OrganizedWisdom.com until I saw that people were being referred to this blog from OrganizedWisdom, so I thought I’d check it out. OrganizedWisdom.com is a search engine that deals with only health topics. According to their web site, “one of the most unique components of OrganizedWisdom is its Expert Curator Community in which every expert must be invited or nominated for inclusion. Top doctors and health professionals use the platform as a way to make their best recommendations discoverable by patients, to promote their practice or knowledge, and to be recognized for their various online endeavors and achievements. Each expert earns achievements determined by the company’s Medical Review Board and an algorithm that incorporates an analysis of their online influence, credentials, certifications, content, achievements, and ongoing contributions.”

For some reason, if you visit http://organizedwisdom.com/Electroshock_Therapy, this “Little Spark” site is listed among the top 6 resources regarding electroshock therapy. I’m really not sure how I got listed among sites like Medscape and one by Mayo Clinic, but I am definitely thankful for the inclusion into this list.

And apparently, the ”littlespark’ blog is currently ranked in the top 100 blogs in English on BlogUpp.com.

I also need to thank Amy K from WEGOhealth (and also of  Una Vita Bella). On one of WEGOhealth’s forums, Amy posted a list of the “12 Top depression blogs to follow”, and I’m so honored that the “Little Spark” blog was included in this great list (which you should certainly take a peek at!).

Thank you, Amy, for including me in a list with amazing blogs on it!


September 29, 2010

reflections

I took this picture in the bathroom of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. It was an advertisement to get people to sign up for their membership, but this quote and the way it was displayed resonated with me.

Oh, by the way, I did do other things in NYC besides taking pictures of bathroom walls.

I did go see “Promises, Promises” on Broadway, starring Sean Hayes (Jack from “Will and Grace”) and Kristin Chenoweth.

And I also saw the Yankees v. the Red Sox game at the Yankee Stadium.

September 25, 2010

Big Apple a day…

I’ve been in New York City this weekend with my family. Because I never told my parents and sister that I have this blog (and am not planning on telling them about its existence), I only have mere moments to type something up. So, here’s a pic I took on my cell phone. And I hope to report back about the trip in the journal  tomorrow when I’m back at my home with my cat.

September 23, 2010

Jon Hamm talks about depression

Ok. The following may be just an excuse for me to get to put a picture of Jon Hamm on my blog….and it kind of is :)  But this actor who plays Don Draper on ‘Mad Men’ really did talk about depression in an interview he did for a UK magazine, The Observer. The whole interview is here but the excerpt about his struggle with depression was on Huffington Post, too.

“I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullshit. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my shit and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”

September 22, 2010

Swinging in college

….well, not that kind of swinging, and certainly not as fun as it sounds. I’m talking about dealing with bipolar disorder while going to school.

It’s almost been a month since I’ve started the semester, and things have been okay thus far–I’ve made it to all of my classes and have turned in assignments on time. I need to catch up on some reading, but I’ll get that done…eventually. Because of my previous experiences, there is always some fear that I will spiral into some dark hole and end up doing poorly in classes or not finish the semester. Though I suppose there’s no absolute certainly about how my moods will be over the semester, there are some strategies that I can follow in order to keep those fears in check.

In this really good article in CNN/health.com, titled “Back to School with Bipolar? How college can unleash mania,” I especially appreciated that it offered everyday strategies for managing  symptoms. In the article, there’s a little tip from Russ Federman, PhD’s book, “Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing With Bipolar Disorder.” Federman  outlines what he calls the “four S’s of bipolar stability”:

  • structure
  • stress management
  • sleep management
  • self-monitoring

This framework entails setting — and sticking to — a regular schedule of studying and sleep, and learning to recognize the signs that you are beginning to drift into mania or hypomania. (Thank you to my friend Becky for letting me know about this piece!)

I think these “Four S’s” remind me that  it’s important to take responsibility for what we can when we can. What’s in the realm of our control is often much more than we realize or actually do. For instance, no one is forcing me to get drinks at Starbucks, which, if consumed around night time, will more than likely cause me to not be able to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. It’s a random example, but I do believe it’s in these little things that we can change that can help us manage our illness better.

Speaking of responsibility, I really should be working on a class assignment….

September 20, 2010

It’s a family affair

“This Emotional Life,” created by PBS, is a two-year campaign to foster awareness, connections and solutions around emotional wellness. They aired a series of programs in January, but their web site has expanded beyond just those broadcasts.

Today there’s a column by Craig Garner in the Huffington Post (which is partnered with ‘this emotional life’) talking about family members of the mentally ill. The column points out some of the emotions that family members might go through when dealing with a loved one with mental illness. It also lists some of the ways family members can cope. Some of the advice he offers are:

• Confide in a friend.
• Maintain realistic expectations.
• Accept help whenever it is offered.
• Maintain a sense of humor.
• Take time for yourself.

The web site also has a resource finder that allows you to find support organizations in your area simply by entering your zip code.

The site is filled with discussion on various topics on mental health, links to major mental health organizations, as well as other interesting perspectives of people like Larry David.

Visit:
http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife

facebook.com/ThisEmotionalLife
twitter.com/EmotionalLife

September 18, 2010

Congratulations, Senator Snowe!

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) received the Jacob K. Javits Award for Public Service from the American Psychiatric Association this week. The award is the APA’s highest award in advocacy.

Snowe has worked throughout her career to end the unfair distinction between physical and mental disorders. One of her most significant accomplishments in mental health was joining forces with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to champion Medicare co-payment parity. Their hard work was realized in a provision of the 2008 passed Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act. Its passage eliminated the unjust co-pay imbalance for mental health outpatient services, which were 50 percent compared to 20 percent for other medical services.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award from the American Psychiatric Association, whose leadership and advocacy on behalf of mental illness has improved the lives of millions of Americans nationwide,” said Sen. Snowe. “As we strive to improve access to quality, affordable health care in our nation, it is incumbent upon Congress to ensure parity when it comes to these services upon which so many rely.”

She has been furthering her service in mental health by working more with Kerry to eliminate the Medicare 190-day lifetime limit for recipients receiving care in a psychiatric hospital. She was also one of the few Republicans to vote to extend the expiring stimulus Medicaid provisions, which increased the federal percentage of Medicaid contributions. This funding extension was critical to preventing state mental health budget cuts.

Established in 1986, the Jacob K. Javits Public Service Award honors the legacy of Sen. Jacob K. Javits from New York, who served for 24 years and used his position on the then-Labor and Public Welfare Committee to spearhead health legislation, achieving multiple successes on behalf of people with mental illness and on substance abuse issues. The Javits Award is given annually, alternately to a state public servant and a federal public servant.

Notable past recipients of this federal award include U.S. Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

(excerpted from Sen. Snowe’s press release)

September 17, 2010

batting 500 (posts)

So, here it is. I’ve reached my 500th post.  I’ve been told that this is a milestone of some sort, and well, it is :) And I guess #500 calls for some time of reflection.

I look at myself, and sometimes I only see the flaws, and not anything else. There’s even a sense of timidness that comes over me as I talk about having to look at myself.  I think we tend to view our depression as a weakness—something to hide. But what have I learned in dealing with this illness and through writing these posts? It is that having dealt with depression is really a strength, and that I am strong for all that I have lived through and known.  A friend told me something so perfectly true: “depression just sometimes seems “stronger” than our wills at the time.  But if a house survives the ravages of a hurricane, do we think it’s a weak house because the shutters are banged up or a few roof tiles have been torn off?  No, it’s a strong house, because it’s still standing!”

During those times of stormy weather though, I have relied on the help of others to keep me going. I am grateful for the friends and family that have stood by me and helped me get patched up. Also, thank you to the readers who actually visit this site and have sent me encouraging words. Without you, the readers, I would’ve never made it to number 500!

I know that I won’t always feel strong, but I think we need to remind ourselves that we are strong. So what if we’re a little banged up?  Dolly Parton said, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.” If we are still standing after those storms, it obviously means that we are indeed strong!

TO 500 MORE!

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September 16, 2010

looking for perf-ECT-ion

It’s been a little over a week since the last ECT, and I’ve been evaluating how I’ve been feeling lately. I guess it’s been okay, but I just haven’t been feeling great…like how I imagine how ‘great’ feels like. My concern isn’t without merit. The fantasy football league I looked forward to so much last year didn’t bring about a sort of enthusiasm I expected for this year. Okay, I just evaluated myself using NFL football, but it tells me that something just isn’t clicking. There is an inclination to ask myself why I’m not feeling better since I just had ECT. But I think I’m asking the wrong question.

There is obviously a lot of criticism and protest over electroconvulsive therapy, but at the same time, there’s also a lot of people who claim ECT to be some sort of a savior. After 30+ treatments, I’ve come to a realization that ECT is neither of those things, at least for me. And part of the process of recovery is up to me.  Likewise, we tend to put all of our faith on our medications and hold our breath until ‘it starts to work.’ But the thing is, our life is still going on regardless of how our meds are working on us (I just thought about that quote, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”) We can’t just focus on our treatments all the time because we’re missing life itself—because we’re more than just our illness, and we’re certainly much, much more than the drugs we take.

In short, it’s not always the fault of any treatment that’s causing me to feel or not feel a particular way. Maybe this is just being ‘normal.’ What I sometimes forget is that living a life doesn’t have to mean you feel happy and excited about it at all time. In fact, wasn’t it this ability to have a spectrum of emotions that I was looking for?

September 14, 2010

football players and suicide

Owen Thomas, a popular 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior lineman for University of Pennsylvania with no previous history of depression, hanged himself in his off-campus apartment after what friends and family have described as a sudden and uncharacteristic emotional collapse. A brain autopsy of Thomas has revealed the same trauma-induced disease found in more than 20 deceased NFL players, raising questions of how young football players may be at risk for the disease.

The latest article in the New York Times, “Suicide reveals signs of disease seen in NFL,” goes on to talk about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, a disease linked to depression and impulse control, whose only known cause is repetitive brain trauma. About 1.4 million children ages 14 to 18 play high school football every fall, and about three million others play in youth leagues at younger ages. Thomas’s parents requested that their son’s case be made public to educate other families about the possible and perhaps addressable risks of football at all levels.

September 13, 2010

Japan Mental health resource

Thanks to Andrew of tokyocounseling.com who sent me the following information regarding mental health services and hotlines available for those in Japan who are depressed and/or feeling suicidal.

Inochi no Denwa (Lifeline Telephone Service):
Japan: 0120-738-556
Tokyo: 3264 4343

AMDA International Medical Information Center:
http://amda-imic.com/

Tokyo Counseling Services:
http://tokyocounseling.com/english/
http://tokyocounseling.com/jp/

http://www.counselingjapan.com

Btw, here’s the general info for US:

September 12, 2010

Depression’s cost on Japan’s economy

The Japanese government released data this past week that suicides and other depression cases cost Japan’s economy about $32 billion last year, including a figure that an estimated income of 1.9 trillion yen (about $20 billion) could have been earned by working-age people who committed suicide in 2009.(Read more on BusinessWeek)

It’s the first time the government has released information like this in order to raise some public awareness about this issue. “In addition to the human toll, we want to show the economic toll from suicides is very high and grave,” said health ministry official Yukiko Nakatani.

Suicide has been a national problem for Japan. For men, the suicide rate of 36.5 per 100,000 people ranks as second-highest among the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations after 70.6 for Russian men. The suicide rate of 14.1 per 100,000 people for Japanese women ranks first among the G8 nations.

I’m glad to see that Japan is actually acknowledging this really serious issue.

September 10, 2010

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day…does anyone care?

Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Tonight, all the major TV networks plus other channels will air the one-hour long telethon, “Stand Up to Cancer,” but I have yet to see or hear anything about this Suicide Prevention Day on television or in the news. For a day that’s supposedly commemorated by the entire earth, there’s little or no publicity by anyone, at least not where it’s visible to me, anyway.

I wasn’t looking for someone to put on a television special about it, but at the same time, I kind of wanted to run into an organization table that’s handing out information or ribbons indicating support for suicide prevention.Where is the media attention? Couldn’t a local television news be lured by a mental health organization to give a quick coverage to this day? Did they even bother to contact the media stations?

Here’s another problem. Some organizations have one color designated for suicide prevention ribbon, while other orgs have another color. Which color is the right one? Stigma can always be blamed for the reason why we don’t talk about mental health issues openly, but when we can’t even agree on a ribbon color, there’s obviously some sort of an issue with strategy. It’s just plain hard to commemorate this day when it is just not easy to create visibility. Here’s a little comparison:  It’s so easy to create awareness for breast cancer, because you just have to put on something pink.

Some might be wondering that if I have such qualms about this, why am I not out there handing stuff out? And really, they’re right. While I do hope this post and the other previous factoids I put up leading up to this day will catch someone’s eye, I should’ve been out somewhere today giving out info, just trying to get anyone’s attention. But the reality is that there are existing organizations out there that should have publicized this Suicide Prevention Day better. If “Stand Up 2 Cancer” get the TV networks to give a full hour to that program, surely some media source could spare a little space to bring attention to World Suicide Prevention Day.

Now we’ll see how it’ll go with Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is coming up on October 3-9.

September 8, 2010

open the vents

Let me be bluntly honest here. I don’t know why I feel like this, but I just wish I could take back the last ten or eleven years of my life. Today, I just hate where I am in life. I’m just so disappointed with what I’ve done in my life and the situation I’m in. I’m not necessarily sad or angry. Maybe it’s just that I’m facing reality as it really is.

I feel like I sometimes have a sense of mental calmness in my hands, and I’m just watching it slip through my fingers.

Nothing to analyze today. Just wanted to let out how I feel today. Only time will tell if these are just thoughts I’ll have for today or if they’ll linger. I’m hoping that it’s a one-day thing.

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