Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Shopping for Your Favorite Loony

Personally, I would rather stick a hot poker in my eye than go out on Black Friday.  But at reader request, I am reposting the following from 2009 -- reformatted, since I started using more images some time back, and updated in random places.

For all you who want to be part of the madding crowd, and even those who will be waiting for the dust to settle, start here for your mentally interesting friends and relations:

Holiday Shopping for Your Favorite Loony -- November 24, 2009

The Day after Thanksgiving, traditional start of the Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa shopping season is upon us.  You Hanukkah people better start cracking!  It is Prozac Monologues' attempt to be ever helpful to my dear readers.  As my therapist says, Virgo -- your destiny is service.  Get used to it.  (I have a therapist who says stuff like that.  The following is a holiday shopping list to guide normals who want to please their loony loved ones.


[Note: I use loony as a generic term, in place of consumer of mental health services, and normal as the term for the not-yet-diagnosed.  You are welcome to discuss that if you wish.  You normals are not allowed to use the term loony, unless you are quoting me.  You are welcome to discuss that also, if you wish.]

Crazy Meds can be your one stop shopping for Straight Jacket T-shirts, when you're crazy enough to let your medication do the talking, with a range of messages for any diagnosis, medication or level of in your face.  The lettering is made by arranging capsules, for that homemade, from the heart touch.  You can even order custom messages, but it costs more, because Jerod has to pull out his pill bottles to make a new design.  If you are shopping for me, medium size, long-sleeved, and black, of course.  My favorite message: Bat Shit Crazy.  In three years nobody ever took the hint, so I finally bought it myself.  If you are shopping for me, now I'll go with Mentally Interesting.  I'm still into black, and still refusing antipsychotics, so still a medium.

The following gift suggestions are targeted to differential diagnoses.

For the person in your life who talks back to his/her voices, but is trying to pass as normal, what could be more thoughtful than a blue tooth headset?  You can get this one for half-price right now at this Amazon.com link.

Purse or pocket-sized hand sanitizer makes a nice stocking stuffer for your loved one with OCD.

Don't ask somebody in the Whale Shit at the Bottom of the Ocean stage of depression, How can I help?  Simply tell your friend that you are going to arrive at his/her house at whatever o'clock on whatever day to clean the house.  Your friend doesn't even need to get out of bed.  You can use the hospital method of rolling the body from side to side to change the sheets.  For the frosting on the cake, leave a pot of soup in the kitchen when you go.  For that matter, leave the cake, preferably chocolate, for that endorphin boost.  Important tip: this gift may not be welcomed by somebody with OCD.

Art supplies make a nice gift for any diagnosis.  Those in the manic stage of bipolar might especially like spray paint.  Or glitter.  Remember, your OCD friends have certain limitations -- no clay, no fingerpaints.

Almost anybody with a mental illness could use a toy carpenter's work bench, that thing with the pegs you pound through to the other side with a hammer, and then turn over to pound through again to the original side.  The old fashioned wooden ones are charming, but if self-harm is currently an issue, they do make them in plastic nowadays.

Recently, when I was invited to a large dinner party, my very thoughtful hosts designated a safe room to which I could (and did) withdraw when things got overwhelming.

Okay, seriously, that last one was precious.

If your loony is spending the holidays in confinement, loose change for the telephone, Nicorette patches or gum, and real French Roast coffee brought in at visiting hours (and labeled decaf) will bring a little cheer to the stay.

Deep tissue massage is a great reliever of depressive symptoms.  Some people use it weekly in lieu of medication.  Ask the potential recipient first whether massage or even a whole day at the spa would be welcome, or if it would just stir up issues.

A health club membership is nice, if your loony has expressed a desire for one, but likely to ignite a scene if you have been nagging about exercise.

I saved the big ticket items for last.  We loonies are always bemoaning that ours is an invisible disease.  There are no x-rays, no blood tests to prove our suffering.  But there does happen to be physical evidence, not for the diagnosis, but for the propensity for it.  People with schizophrenia have larger than normal ventricles, the spaces inside the brain containing spinal fluid.  People with depression or post traumatic stress disorder have small hippocampuses (hippocampi?)  Getting the proof will take a bit of effort.  A full MRI scan, pictures of the brain from dorsal, saggital and coronal perspectives, will run you $400-3000, depending on who orders it and who pays for it.  If that's you, don't expect a discount.  But if you can get your loony into the right research study, he/she may be able to get a slide or two of the relevant features printed -- truly a one of a kind gift.

And then there is that fMRI machine I am always wishing I had.  Plain old MRIs come in black and white.  But fMRIs have color!  They light up in the part of the brain that is active, and demonstrate that loony brains and normal brains do not work the same.  The machine prices out somewhere between $1,000,000 and $2,300,000, depending on the power, with an additional $500,000 to build the lab.  Oh well.

You know, morning talk shows, magazines, even Science Friday on NPR all have their suggestions for holiday giving.  But I do believe this one is a first for the mentally interesting.

Take it easy out there.  And Happy Holidays, whatever your holidays are.

clip art from microsoft
t-shirt design from cafepress.com/crazymeds/
image of blue tooth headset by Motorola from amazon.com
photo of dirty dishes by User:Mysid and in the public domain
photo of coffee drinker from microsoft.com

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