Mental Illness Bites

Today, right now, every moment. I am beginning anew.

Archive for the category “Resources”

To This Day

Live like the uphills were mountains and the downhills were cliffs….as if depression is something that could be remedied by any of the contents found in a first aid kit. – Shane Koyczan

 
His words are so eloquent I want to stand up and start spouting poetry. This man is my hero and this video never gets old. I watched it three times yesterday. I think I’ll keep watching it once a day until I’m on TED talks too!
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Going, Going Gone

Last week my husband and I decided to get serious about helping Tulo get adopted. So, I sassed up his bio, gave him a good scrubbing Friday night, and set out Saturday morning to spend the whole day at the adoption clinic.
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Well, I don’t know if it was the really good bath or being there to chat with anyone who even glanced in his direction, but three different families put in applications to adopt Tulo. The first was a sweet little family of three looking for a companion for their one year old son, but they live in an apartment, so I wasn’t too thrilled about that match.

Then, a man, let’s call him Beck, came all in a rush asking about him because his ‘roommate’ had seen Tulo from the road and just fallen in love with him. They live in a great big house, with a great big back yard, doggie doors, the works, but they have a 90 lb black lab mix and if I haven’t mentioned it before, Tulo doesn’t like big dogs.  So, I wasn’t thrilled about that match. Beck filled out an application and was so eager, he wanted to do the home visit and meet and greet as soon as possible. (A meet and greet is when a potential adoptee is introduced to an already established family dog.) So, I got the powers that be together. Lanya, who runs the PACA adoption clinics every Saturday, hooked me up with Jean, who knows a lot about dogs and frequently does meet and greets with new dogs and we scheduled a home visit and meet and greet for that afternoon.

Next up was this couple right on the edge of retiring came to look at him and thought he was just the sweetest thing (which he is). They thought it was endearing that he is timid and were just looking for a companion dog to go on walks with and keep them company when they were rumbling around their house. This sounded perfect.

But of course, they weren’t sure because they’re getting ready to do some renovations on the house, and she hasn’t retired just yet and what if he gets lonely because he would be an only dog? Well, I coaxed them into filling out an application just in case and hoped that they would soon call and say they’d decided to take him. Off they went.

Three o’clock rolled around, so Jean and I set off to Beck’s house. Turns out, he lives in a gorgeous neighborhood just this side of the river. Quiet closed in neighborhood, long, winding driveway, four car garage, five bedroom house, adobe enclosed backyard, etc. This is the doggie jack pot.

Jean and I spent the next hour and a half slowly introducing Tulo to the black lab, Ollie, the two and half year old, the five year old, the giant house, the backyard, the adults, the neighborhood, etc. Of course, he wanted to follow me wherever I went, but my primary goal was simply to make sure that Tulo and Ollie were going to get along okay. It was also important to me that the adults Beck and the woman, let’s call her Sally, understood that Tulo needs a crate, and really, when I say he’ll only eat hot dogs has treats, I mean it. Give him hot dogs; he will be your best friend.

Even as I prepared to leave Tulo behind, I was still nervous about the situation. And Sally started to cry. She didn’t want Tulo to be sad, afraid, or upset once I left. She wanted to know what she could do to help him.

And that’s when I stopped worrying. Right then I knew that he would be loved and this woman would do everything in her power to make sure he had a good life. And if it didn’t work out, she wouldn’t hesitate to call me and let me know.

Jean and I took a sneaky escape out the side yard so Tulo wouldn’t see me leave and I made it to the main road before I burst into tears. I gave away my dog, which is exactly how I felt until 11am this morning, when I got a phone call from Jean. She had called Sally to tell her a few more things that she had forgotten to mention on Saturday and during the call had gotten information on how Tulo is doing. He is following Sally everywhere, stuck to her like glue, sleeping in the same dog bed with all 90 lbs of Ollie and loving his two walks a day. I cried again.

I am so happy for him. Before he came to stay with us, he was an un-groomed, frantic, panicky mess. Without his time here, it’s possible he never would have been adopted. Now he has the skills he needs to manage the world as part of a pack and truly enjoy the rest of his life.

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My patchy eskimo has found a wonderful home. He’ll be missed.
To learn more about adopting rescue animals and fostering, like we did for Tulo, visit the NM PACA Website.

Catch Up

This week has been frustrating, challenging, and difficult. It’s only Tuesday.

I apologize for not posting yesterday. The day just escaped me. You know those days, the days when you’re getting into bed and all of a sudden you realize the day is over and you have no idea how you get there.

My whole weekend was like that and it bled right into Monday. Today was headed that way until I decided about two minutes ago that I was going to stop the day right in its tracks and catch up.

Luckily, I found out earlier today that I will be uncharacteristically home on Thursday and so that means I don’t have to sit here at the computer banging my head against the wall trying to get this project to work while technology refuses to cooperate. I have the luxury of just stopping. I will come back to it tomorrow. I have time. And maybe, just maybe, by taking the time to let myself catch up with the events of the last few days I will also be able to stop the anxiety that has been snowballing and threatening to build until it crumbles me like a tsunami.

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Subject appears anxious.
Erik calls to tell me he’s on his way home from work; my time to catch up will be short lived. I’m glad he’s coming home, but with his arrival comes a host of expectations that I cannot handle right now. I did not get any time to just be today. So he will come home and make dinner. I will feel bad, because really, he’s been at work all day and should be the one who gets to come home and just be. The guilt will snowball into feelings of worthlessness —-> thoughts providing evidence of that —> deepened depression —-> anxiety about what I should have done/be doing/will have to do tomorrow —-> more anxiety/depression.

I am going to log off now. Go sit in a comfortable spot and try to catch up without letting the vicious cycle above spiral out of control. In the mean time, here’s an interesting series the NY Times is doing on anxiety. Check it out.

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A Broken System

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2 percent of Americans over 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. One in seventeen Americans suffers from a severe mental illness.

As of 2012, among veterans, there are more suicide deaths among active duty soldiers than combat deaths. According to a new report issues by the Department of Veterans Affairs, every 65 minutes a military veteran commits suicide. Thirty one percent of these were committed by veterans under the age of 50. (Suicide Rate Among Military Jumps)

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A veteran protests the veteran suicide rate, which just jumped from 18 to 22 a day

Today, I went to a doctor’s appointment. This appointment was made for me by the powers that be over a month and a half ago, after many phone calls and much grief, so I could get established with a new psychiatrist since Erik and I moved back to New Mexico. I arrived at the appointment today to find out that the doctor was a psychologist (therapy) and not a psychiatrist (medication). I already have a counselor. I need my medications managed.

When a person is in a mental health crisis and tries to get help, they frequently get put on hold, stuck in a waiting room, or otherwise thrown into a holding pattern. In case it’s not obvious, a holding pattern is exactly the opposite of what a person in crisis needs.

I am sure that I am preaching to the choir here, so I won’t go on much more. But just in case my point isn’t clear yet, our mental health care system is even worse off than our medical care system. If behavioral health is covered (and this is a big if), it takes weeks, if not months to receive proper care. Once care is received, the medications are frequently not covered by insurance companies, and we are not talking about inexpensive meds. And then there is the continued management necessary to properly care for people with mental health issues, counseling, regular medical check-ups and check-ins. Sometimes this includes blood tests and other exams. If all of this is not completed on a regular schedule, patients get thrown off their schedule’s of therapy and medication, symptoms worsen and this is where we start to lose people. They drop out of care, fed up with a system that doesn’t work, or they give up on life all together.

Our veterans, our mentally ill, need our help. Visit Change.org to sign a petition that urges lawmakers to improve mental health care. 

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As people who have direct, lived experience with mental illness and addiction, as family members caring for our loved ones with these illnesses, as counselors and health care workers, and as leaders of behavioral health programs, we all call on you, the leaders of our Nation, to begin with us a road to recovery from the Newtown Tragedy.

Visit the new Veterans Crisis Line website to see how you can help save our veterans once they’ve left the battle field.

One in Four

The other day, a good friend of mine mentioned that her husband reads my blog, enjoys it, and even identifies with it. He also said that no one will post comments or answers to my questions, because no one wants to admit that they have struggled with mental illness.

I understand. I didn’t ask for help until I was in college. I didn’t want to admit that I felt like my life wasn’t worth living, even though I was otherwise healthy, well-fed, warm, and had people who loved me. We all hide our sadness or fear or anger, because somewhere along the way we learned that it makes us less than. But the truth is, something we all share cannot divide us, no matter how hard we try.

Mental health issues have been all over the public sphere in the last couple of years with the prevalence of gun violence. But when we talk about gun violence, we are talking about the 1 in 17 adults that suffer from a severe and often psychotic form of mental illness. This statistic is scary enough and certainly significant and important, but we must also consider the 26.2 percent of Americans over 18 that suffer from a mental disorder in any given year. (NIMH)


One in four people have a diagnosable mental health illness: mild depression, anxiety, mood swings, etc. When we talk about mental health, we are not simply talking about those that suffer from more severe forms like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder and the like. We are talking about people who get sad in the winter, who shake when they talk in front of people, those who struggle to manage their anger, anyone addicted to anything (alcohol, video games, exercise, food), and the list goes on. “Mental Illness” is a label in and of itself that is helping keep this issue in the dark.

So let’s stop talking about “mental illness”, “depression”, “anxiety.” And let’s start talking about the problems we all face, about what we have in common. One in four adults in America suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, but we all have been sad, scared, lonely, overwhelmed, angry, ashamed, deeply disappointed, among other things.

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If you have a diagnosis and you want to talk about it, that’s fantastic. Join me! I have diagnosed mood, personality, and anxiety disorders. But what does that really mean? Sometimes I get sad, scared, lonely, overwhelmed, angry, ashamed, and disappointed. This is what we have in common. This is what really matters.

Getting mental health issues out into the open isn’t about labels and distinctions. I know that depression and sadness, nervousness and anxiety, are not the same thing, but it is important that we remove the stigma from mental suffering. I have never met a person who hasn’t suffered internally in some way. So why are we so afraid?

If you know someone who has felt any of these things, please share, comment, or like this post on facebook. Let’s see how connected we are.

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