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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a still mostly mysterious malady that renders a patient bed-ridden. A federal advisory committee in America is trying to change the name of CFS in order to highlight the seriousness of the condition. While science tries to determine the cause and the proper name of CFS, doctors work to help ease the symptoms in patients. One of the most common symptoms is depression.

The depression symptoms appear after a person begins symptoms of CFS. Since the symptoms of both clinical depression and CFS are so similar, anyone with a prior history of depression is often treated for depression and not diagnosed with CFS. But patients with no prior history of depression may then be diagnosed with CFS. The patient may also be tested for viral infections or anemia in order to rule out those possibilities….

Please read the rest of my article at Yahoo Voices, because I really need the money.  I get paid about one penny per 4 page views and I don’t get paid anything for this blog.  Thanks for your patience!

The photo you see here is one of the London Special Olympic equestrian athletes, Bettina Eistel and her horse Fabuleax 5 competing in dressage.  As you can see, she does not have arms and mainly rides with her leg aids, shifts of body position and her teeth.  During 2012, there have been many photos of her and other handicapped riders circulating around the web with the caption “No excuses!”

No excuses?  Are you KIDDING me?  I’d love to be able to ride.  I’d love a horse.  However, I know that’s never going to happen in my life (unless the Zombie Apocalypse happens and enough people will be eaten so I could finally get a horse BUT ANYWAY) because I’m POOR.  I also live in a town where keeping horses is illegal.  I think that’s a pretty damn good excuse.

What am I to do? Break the friggin’ law?  I guess I’m supposed to chop my arms off so I’ll have a chance of getting into a handicapped riders’ program because I can’t afford riding lessons with my two halfway-decent arms.

So, before you re-post a photo like this with “No Excuses!” on it, stop and think of how it comes across.  It shows you absolutely no understanding of real life.  Just because you want to do something (like me wanting a horse) doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.  EVER.  Saying “No excuses!” just rubs a copious amount of salt into a wide, gaping wound.  Getting such a meme serves only to make me more depressed rather than give any sort of encouragement.

 

I know this seems self-indulgent to stick this report up on my blog, but knowing my history of computer crashes, sticking this report here is a good way to guarantee that I won’t lose it.  Thank you for your patience.

And now, the 2012 Year in Review Stats for ReasonsNotToCommitSuicide:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

NOTE: This post is also at Bubblews, but minus the cool video at the end.

I was watching a video of Bruce Springsteen’s performance for 12/12/12 Hurricane Sandy relief where he and Jon Bon Jovi did a raucous duet of “Born to Run.”  (See below) That includes these classic lyrics:

Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while were young
`cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Which got me to thinking —  what the heck is a suicide rap?

Rap is a little word with several definitions.  According to Merriam-Webster, the meanings are:

1
: a sharp blow or knock
2
a: a sharp rebuke or criticism

b: a negative and often undeserved reputation or charge —often used with “bum” or “bad” <given a bum rap by the press>

3
a: the responsibility for or adverse consequences of an action <refused to take the rap>

b: a criminal charge

c: a prison sentence

Have you ever heard of a “rap sheet”?  You’ll still hear this term on older American cop shows.  Now they say “priors”.  But a “rap sheet”  was all previous arrests, imprisonments or any occasion where the police hae to fingerprint you.  That rap sheet sticks to you so much that all law enforcement (or potential employers) is the rap sheet, not you.

Anyway, Springsteen is being his usual cryptic self by melding two words that don’t often go together in order to create a new meaning.  So, “suicide” and “rap” becomes “suicide rap” where “suicide” is used as an adjective for “rap.”  (“What kind of rap was it?”  “A suicide rap.”)  All of this is to better describe the town that the narrator and his lover live in.  You know – the town That Strips the Bones From Your Back (which I always think of as the entire state of New Jersey, but the actual town is not named in the song.)

So, a town (or just about anything else) described as a “suicide rap” has a reputation for making people commit suicide.

Now you know.  Rock on.

I’m going to go out on a limb — I’m sick of hearing about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  I have no family there.  I don’t personally know anyone who died.  I’ve never lived in Connecticut.  I don’t have school aged kids.  I really don’t care.  Can we change the record, please?

Yes, what happened was a tragedy.  But tragedies happen every day.  After a while, you get numbed to them.  At least, I do.  For example, I used to be homeless.  I used to be in an abusive relationship.  I used to be homeless in an abusive relationship.  I survived two floods and a fire.  If I had a sobbing fit every time a tragedy occurred in my life, I’d never get anything done.

I have to admit that it seems hypocritical to moan about a school shooting when people get killed every day.  The killing doesn’t happen all in one area, but there are still people dying.  For example, the New Jersey city of Camden has had at least 60 murders this year, including a mother who decapitated her kid.  Does anyone outside of the tri-state area care?  Nope.

I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else.  Clearly, I’m not.  But for those folks not directly involved in any mass shooting tragedy, it’s time to stop brooding and get on with our lives.  It would be nice if the national news channels would help out here.  Extensive media coverage may (emphasis on MAY) be inspiring mass shootings, in a bizarre way.

Dwelling on a tragedy plays hell with your mental health.  Yes, these are things are terrible and unfair.  But I can’t get worked up about it because I’m not directly involved.  If you want to get worked up, go ahead.  It’s not as if anyone is going to stop you.  Realize that the best way you can help your loved ones is by getting back to normal.

I only have so much energy.  I can’t break down over every sad news story.  It may seem cold, but I have to do this in order to keep functioning.  I suspect I’m not the only one.

Any type of anti-depressant can give the body powerful side effects as the body is getting used to it and just as powerful side effects when you stop. Depending on the type of anti-depressant, withdrawal symptoms can range from feeling as if you have come down with the flu to the return of how you felt like before you started taking medication. There is no need to suffer with those withdrawal symptoms by gradually reducing your dose over the course of weeks or months.

But I Feel Great

Many people with depression, bipolar disorder or many other types of mental illness improve dramatically after a few months on an anti-depressant. This is great that they feel so well. This is a sign that the medication is helping. However, the patient may wrongly conclude that they are cured and no longer need to take medication. They then stop cold turkey.

Or they may talk to their doctor or psychologist about reducing their dosage. The doctor agrees and so the dosage is reduced. Although this will not happen to everyone who gradually lowers their dosages, withdrawal symptoms can still occur to people who are just lowering dosages. The side effects are usually not as dramatic as they are after quitting cold turkey.

Coping Mechanisms

Pick a weekend or time of low stress in order to begin lowering the antidepressant dosages. Some people get insomnia when their dose is lowered and some people (this writer included) become drowsy for a few days when the dose is lowered. Some patients take Benadryl or the store brand equivalent to help alleviate symptoms such as headaches or feeling as if they were getting the flu. However, you should talk to your doctor about this before taking any other medication.

Patients going through lowered dosages need to keep on as regular a schedule as they can. This will help them to sleep better. Cleaning something, even a small object, can help with self-esteem. Hopefully, during the time they have been taking the anti-depressant at full strength they have been learning positive ways to manage stress, such as deep breathing, meditation or writing in a journal. They are going to need to rally lean on those techniques now. Perhaps a temporary mantra could be “This, too, will pass.”

Although you won’t want to, interacting with others can help get you through the withdrawal period, which can last anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks. Even walking a dog every day can help move the muscles, see the neighborhood and can distract from physical pain.

But sometimes someone with mental illness will not feel any better after two weeks. They may wind up feeling worse. In that case, perhaps now is not the time to reduce anti-depressant dosages. It is not a sign of moral weakness to have to take an anti-depressant, even if it’s for the rest of your life.

Additional References:

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Controlling Anxiety.” Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D. Alpha Books; 2006. (Especially Chapter 18.)

American Association of Family Practitioners. “Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome.” 2006. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

American Medical Association. “The long goodbye: The challenge of discontinuing antidepressants.” Victoria Stagg Elliot. “Amednews.” March 9, 2009. http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/03/09/hlsa0309.htm

Personal experience

Caretaking a mentally ill loved one can help and hurt your mental healthIt’s tough taking care of a family member with a mental illness when you yourself suffer from one or more mental illnesses.  On one hand, taking care of someone else is good for your own mental health.  It makes you move your muscles so you get needed exercise.  You have to concentrate on someone else’s problems, which helps halt the self-hating chatter in your own head.  Taking care of someone else also helps with your self-esteem.

And — let’s be blunt — taking care of someone else is a great reason not to commit suicide.  I know I haven’t seriously thought of committing suicide in a long while because I have pets and my invalid mother to care for.  Who’d take care of them after I was dead?  No one.  So, I better stick around to make sure the job is done right, dammit.

But still, taking care of the pets and my Mom works on my nerves at times.  Yesterday, my Mom casually announced that she was considering killing herself by taking an overdose of the insomnia medication temazepam.  She was prescribed that when she had her knee replaced in May.  I took the medication away from her after my own misadventure with a “tammie.”  It took her nearly 5 weeks to realize I had taken the medication away.  We had discussed it at the time but Mom now has absolutely no memory of the conversation because she was on tammies at the time.  Addicts who’ve just shot up on heroin are more coherent than someone taking tammies at least once a week for six months.

So, what do you do when your Mom admits that she thought about killing herself?  I’m not a mental health professional, but I don’t think you should make a fuss about it.  Not to your Mom’s face, anyway.  Just nod, say “Okay, I’ll trash the medication” and then go into another room and silently scream like that Edvard Munch painting.  Then go out and buy Mom her favorite goodies like a hoagie, potato chips, chocolate and/or fruit stolen.

Eventually, you will need to schedule some time off from your caretaker duties.  For example, I’m taking a short vacation to Germany next year to see a Peter Gabriel concert.   It gives me something to look forward to and gives me something else to think about rather than medications, food shopping and letting the dogs out for the milionth time that day.

Hope this helps.