Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NAMI Walks -- We All Win



This is my second year for the NAMI Walk Johnson County, Iowa.  It's how people across the United States raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization whose mission is support, education and advocacy with and on behalf of people with mental illness and their families.

National Alliance On Mental Illness

I became passionate about NAMI when I learned about its origins.  Once upon a time, not so long ago, the holy writ on schizophrenia was that it was caused by overprotective mothers and disinterested fathers.  Wow.  In 1979, a bunch of these mothers started to push back.  They organized and demanded better research, better treatments, better treatment.  Would there ever be any progress in the world if it weren't for uppity women?  A new documentary, When Medicine Got It Wrong tells the story, coming soon to a PBS station near you.

NAMI has grown into a national program, built on local chapters.  It fights stigma.  It advocates for funding of services, research and rights.  It provides information about mental illnesses and medications.  It offers a variety of educational programs and services.

Peer To Peer

Prozac Monologue followers read with some regularity what I have learned from NAMI's Peer to Peer program.  In Peer to Peer, those who have a mental illness and are in recovery help others learn about recovery, living to the fullest while managing a mental illness.  I drove (my wife drove -- my meds won't let me drive anymore) 120 miles round trip every week for nine Iowa winter nights so that I could attend this program.  It was worth every mile.

Make A Difference

So here's the deal.  Every year NAMI raises money through local Walks.  My local chapter will walk on May 8th, rain or shine.  Last year was my maiden voyage into NAMIWalks.  I went with some trepidation, wondering just how bleak and weird a walk for mental illness could be.  Instead, I discovered a registration process that reminded me of summer camp, belly dancers leading the warm up, pep talks from the Hawkeye football team, a balloon arch, kids, dogs, food, t-shirts and more t-shirts, displays that kept falling over in the breeze, and chalk drawings along the trail made by the Girl Scouts.  It was a party!

I did not do a shabby job raising funds my first time out.  I knew I would do well, because I know my friends.  This year I decided to co-chair a team called, wouldn't you know, Team Prozac Monologues!  And right there, on the name, is where you can go to support my team.  Giving online is safe, easy, fast and tax deductible.

Team Prozac Monologues is about halfway to our goal so far.  Any amount you can give is important.

And as Hoops and Yoyo say,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

National Blog Post Recyling Day -- I Am Not SAD

"In order to do my part for Earth Day, I am participating in a new national celebration in conjunction with Earth Day called “National Blog Post Recycling Day.” Other than the sentences you are reading now, I will be posting no “new” content on my blog today. Grab your lap top, your smart phone or your iPad, sit under a tree and enjoy some digital recycling."

From April 12, 2009 -- I Am Not SAD

What month has the highest rate of suicides in the northern hemisphere? What about the lowest? You will find the answer at the end of this post.

Some people get depressed in the winter. Along about October or November, they start to feel lethargic. They want to sleep a lot. They crave carbs and gain weight. They may lose interest in their normal activities, not want to see people, feel hopeless, think about suicide. The deeper the winter, the sadder they feel. In April, they start to feel better, regain their energy, and even feel giddy by the time May comes round. It happens almost every year.

This is not major depressive disorder. It is SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is no fun.

The best treatment for SAD is to increase your exposure to light, to get outside more, or use very bright lamps to simulate an earlier sunrise and a later sunset. The "dosage" of light required depends on the individual. If your symptoms are mild, light will probably do the trick. If they are severe, consult a mental health professional.

But SAD is not major depressive disorder. MDD is a disease, and a different disease than SAD. People with MDD do not feel better when spring comes. This is important. When everybody else gets over their winter blues, we do not.

In the winter, everybody feels grumpy and blue. Those of us with MDD have lots of company. Nobody expects us to smile.

In the spring, everybody else cheers up. They tell us, "Don't you feel better now that the sun is shining, the birds are back, the flowers are blooming?" Or they say, "What's wrong with you? It's a beautiful day! You would feel better if you went outside!" In other words, "It is your fault you are so sad, and I am tired of you behaving this way."

The other day a very cheerful medical student who is doing a rotation in psychiatry beamed at me that spring is here, so I should be feeling better.

In the spring, people with MDD are alone in our misery.

Emile Durkheim examined the suicide records of several European countries for his study On Suicide, first published in 1897. He said that social isolation is what increases the suicide rate. He examined other theories, including that the environment contributes to the suicide rate. Durkheim discovered that the month with the highest rate of suicide is June. The lowest is December.

What did you guess? Please leave a comment.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Calling All Mood Charts

A comment on yesterday's post inspired this quicky.  Based on a my narrow experience, I have a rigidly held opinion on the topic of mood charts.  Well, like a lot of things.

But I have a readership that might have a broader experience.  And while I am not above blathering away on my own opinions, I do have the wit to listen and learn from others, even to ask.  So...

What are YOUR experiences with mood charts?  (Mental health professionals can answer based on your clients' experiences, if you are sure they aren't bullshitting you.)

What kind of charts have you used?  Are you still using one?  Why or why not?

What have you learned by using a mood chart?  Or not?

Make liberal use of the comment section below.  When I get to that post, maybe I will have a slightly larger experience base from which to draw!

Thanks --

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Mood Chart Video



I call this video Mood Chart for UltraRapid, Ultradian Cycling Bipolar, with a Touch of PTSD.

To the Therapy Theme Song.

Much more fun than some old DSM code, doncha think?

A family member said, "If you can relate to that song and video, now I know your mind works on a completely different level."  To which I responded, "Then we are making progress."

Yes, this is the inside of my head today.  Someday when it's not, I'll write about mood charts.  Very useful things, mood charts.  A basic tool for recovery.  My favorite is here, also listed among the Resources on Mental Illness over there on the left.

But that's all for this week.  See ya.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Year Later -- A New Look for Prozac Monologues


What do you think of the new look?

I talk about how my brain turned into Swiss cheese.  Lately, I spend most of my time in the holes.  So if you are waiting for the second PTSD post -- keep checking back.  The good news about cycling is that it comes back round again.  (That's also the bad news, depending on what part of the cycle you are talking about.)

Anyway, as an alternative to thinking, and to celebrate my first year online, I decided to renovate the site.  So, what do you think?

Okay, I stayed with the dark blue motif, this being a blog about depression.  I rejected many new options that blogspot.com, my host, now offers.  Just think, I could have spread the page with barbed wire -- really!  I gave it a lot of thought, but in the end, I am just not that Goth.  I could have used rain as a backdrop -- no, too cliche.  Another option was this flock of birds flying over head.  I live by a pond, so I know -- way too messy!

So, same color, a little texture in the banner.  I was at the therapist's this morning, and noticed how nice it is that her carpet has some vague design to it.  I can look here, and then for a change, I can look there.  That's the idea.

It has long been my desire to do three columns.  But I didn't know how to pull it off.  The new template made it possible.  And now the tour:

To the left is the resource column, a work in progress.  I started with great ambitions to become a port of entry to mental health resources.  Those ambitions languished for a while.  But this is a new year.  So I need a little help from my friends!

Resources on Mental Illness and Resources on Medications: Where do you find the most useful information and tools on mental illness and medications?  Add a comment below, or send a message to the email address at the top of the blog.

About the Brain and About the Mind: At first I was putting research reports that intrigued me under these headings.  They became a slush pile for posts I wanted to write some day.  Then I figured out I don't need to leave my pile of unfinished homework out in public -- I can store them offstage in a draft pile.  So now you find here comprehensive works, reviews of literature, big swipes at their topics -- generally educational, that sort of thing.  Some bent stuff might sneak into the list, too, just to keep you on your toes.  Again, I am delighted to receive suggestions for content.

Books I Like: Here you find links to previous posts that review book titles.  The unfinished homework is preserved in this section, when I want to recommend a book, but haven't gotten around to writing the review.  When you move your curser over the title and it turns dark red -- ding, ding, ding! There is a review.  Click it and read more.  If the title remains black -- buzz!  I'll get to it...

All of the stuff that relates to the blog itself is on the right, the description, the labels, the archives, etc.  I might update the blog description and About Me one of these days, give you my latest diagnoses, that sort of thing...

Labels: It took me a while to figure out tag clouds (labels) on other blogs I read.  I thought they were Word Art.  Well, yes, but created automatically and with a function.  When I write each post, I "tag" it with a few key topics, like antidepressants, hope, OMG...  If you click on one of those words in the tag cloud, all the posts that have been tagged by that word will come up.  The more posts that I tag with a certain word, the bigger that word appears in the cloud.

Archives: for the historical record of Prozac Monologues.  You can go back to April 5, 2009, should you be so inclined.

Search: You can search my entire blog for a specific word that may not be a label or tag, like Zoloft or Conroy.  This feature will even find words that are in the comments.  The search engine at the top of the blog does the same thing, search my blog.  Redundant or convenient -- you make the call.

I like these blogs: may or may not bear any relationship to the matter at hand.

Followers: Would some follower tell me what happens when you become a follower?  Do you get a message when I put something new up or what?  I have always wondered...

Ads: The contract says I am not supposed to click on them myself.  So when I am interested in one of them myself, I have to copy and paste the address.  So if it's objectionable , I won't know about it unless you tell me.  I can block an advertiser, and did block Scientology.  It's always fun to go to one particular post from the archive list, and find out what ads will pop up.  Okay, Goodfellow, get a life...

Oh, yes -- the center.  One of these days I will pay attention to topics again.

I like to put lots of links to other sites in my posts.  The regular text is black.  Links appear in a dark blue or may purple, depending on your browser.  Do they show up?  When you move your curser over them, they turn deep red, more visible.  Click, and you find my source or my inspiration.  If you find a dead link, let me know.

Coming later: Videos?

Anyway, time to go clean my paintbrushes and pour a drink.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Reflection


American Tune by Paul Simon, sung by Art Gunfunkel and Paul Simon 

These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13-16
The Bible, Revised Standard Version