Fight Stigma!

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as National Mental Illness Awareness Week.  Here we are 22 years later and it’s still not acceptable to call into work as a sick day due to depression or other mental illness.  What happens if you tell your employer that you suffer from mental illness?  If you’re like me, you will lose your job.  Wait, that’s illegal!  Not if you work for a small company.  Check the fine print before you accept a job offer.

Some statistics for you to chew on…

Anxiety: 18% of the adult U.S. population, 23% of these cases are considered severe.  Women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men during their lifetime. (This includes Agoraphobia, GAD, OCD, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Social and other phobias)

Bipolar:  2.6% of the adult U.S. population, nearly 83% of them are considered severe cases.

Major Depressive Disorder: At any given time, this affects about 7% of the population, but when looking at lifetime prevalence, this increases to 16.5%.  Women are 70% more likely to suffer depression than men, and when looking at age groups, young and middle aged adults are most likely to be sufferers as compared to those over the age of 60.

Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.6% of the U.S. adult population.

Schizophrenia: 1.1% of the U.S. adult population.

I have selected to give you statistics for only a few of the major mental health issues.  Many more statistics can be found on the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/index.shtml

While these numbers may seem small, these illnesses affect millions of people.  Millions of individuals with families, jobs, and responsibilities that can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with while suffering from an illness.  For some people, illnesses are comorbid (occurring together) but this doesn’t make the numbers less formidable.  For example, anxiety and depression often go together, which makes coping extremely difficult.

Although Mental Illness Awareness week is at a close, I hope you will keep in mind some of these statistics.  For those of you who are sufferers, you are not alone.  For those of you who are friends or family of someone with a mental health disorder, we appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.  For those of you who are neither… please join us in the battle against stigma.  Together we can make the world a kinder place.

 

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wham!

Some days you are just going through life, doing things that need to be done, thinking you are getting somewhere, ready to congratulate yourself on your progress when suddenly… Wham! You are hit up side the head with an irrational (or as in my case, rational but way out of proportion) thought generating panic and anxiety where you were calm and efficient only moments before.

Today was a double hit. I started today off great, with a (reasonably) early rise and a two-mile walk. Wimbledon was on, so I watched that intermittently while I had breakfast and waited for my turn at the shower. After DH left for work, I chatted with a friend about a photo shoot we are devising, then I set to work looking for a job. I couldn’t concentrate. All I could see was how filthy my carpet was and I wasn’t much better since I hadn’t showered yet. Wham! A whirlwind side swipe of anxiety sent me running for the Klonopin, and then the vacuum cleaner, to use up some of the spontaneous extra energy. After a nice shower and some lunch, I sat down to prepare for the job hunt again. I needed to check out some information on a conference I need to go to and went about preparing for that. I sent out some contact emails, working my network. I decided to check on my bank accounts to see how my finances were holding up, and I think that’s what triggered the next attack. But it didn’t come quickly, nay, it hid in the shade until my attention was turned elsewhere. It waited until I had logged off the banking site and logged back into my job search sites.

Wham! Trembling anxiety or is it panic? Thoughts raced through my head: we have to sell the house, we have no where to go, healthcare, food, shelter, how will we live? What about my pets – my children of fur? What will we do? What will we do? How will we live? How? How? How?

Every backup plan we had failed. We set new backup plans. Are those failing too? Something is failing… is it me? What’s next? What do I do now? COBRA is silently sucking away at my savings. This house needs repairs. Some minor, others less minor. Our mortgage is disproportionately higher than it should be… we can’t change it now because I have no job. Ironic, isn’t it? When you most need to readjust your finances, you can’t.

One car is paid for and we owe less than a thousand on the other.  I suppose we could live out of our cars, but it would be a cramped fit with the animals.  Sleep in the Walmart parking lot.  Can you do that?  I don’t know.

DH & I talked about today’s double hit.  We have enough savings for a few months but we will probably have to put the house on the market by the first of the year.  I hate owning houses, I hate switching jobs, I just want things in my life to be settled.  I want my emotional rollercoaster to settle and stop derailing me when I am doing well.  I was doing well until my mind side-swiped me.

Maybe try again tomorrow.


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Fallen Man

This has taken me a long time to write because I found the situation traumatic, as I describe below.  It’s a personal thing, so I doubt it would trigger anyone but me, unless you have elderly parents.

Have you ever come across a scene and just froze?  DH & I were shopping in Sam’s Club and an elderly gentleman fell out of his motorized shopping basket chair.  The man lay there, struggling to get up, and I stood staring mutely, rooted to the spot.  My husband moved forward to help him up and it was only after DH crossed my line of vision that I could breathe, think, and be useful.

I wasn’t seeing a stranger lying on the floor.  I was seeing my father in my mind’s eye.  My father is 82, in poor health, and wouldn’t ride one of those scooters if you sat him on it.  He’s diabetic, he has trouble walking, but he’s too stubborn to use a cane.  He smokes like a chimney and coughs like a choking man.

Another gentleman came over and together with DH they helped the fallen man stand up.  I picked up his ball cap and his phone and handed them back to him.  I moved on autopilot, trying to be useful where I could.  The man had tripped because he had put too many items on his cart, blocking the foot rest.  His foot caught one of them as he got out of it to reach for the Kleenex package.  DH got the package and put it into the man’s basket, and moved the offending item from the footrest to the basket.  Sometimes I swear I am married to an angel.

A little while later, after we had all parted ways, DH and I were shopping in another part of the store.  I suddenly started to shake. I was trembling and digging nails into my palms to keep from crying.  When this started happening, DH and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me:  Why am I doing this?  (Shaking and crying)
DH:  Because you’ve had a terrible shock.
Me:  How so? I didn’t know that man.
DH: Because he reminds you of your dad.
Me:  I think I need a Klonopin.

A friend of mine called me the next day and she asked about my dad.  That’s when I broke down into tears and told her this story.  I said that I felt bad that I couldn’t help the gentleman more.  And I feel ashamed that I was just stood there and didn’t rush forward to offer my assistance.  If DH hadn’t been there, I don’t know if I would have snapped out of it.  My friend told me that it was understandable given the situation with my dad.  (My dad slipped and fell when he visited me last year.  He wasn’t hurt, but I felt horrible, and I’m not very good at forgiving myself.)  She has been through the same thing with her mom, who is in a wheelchair.  She said that it is natural to hesitate when faced with this sort of thing.  We all have aging parents, and it’s difficult to handle this type of situation.

I talked to my therapist about this situation.  She basically said the same thing in that it was natural to be shocked in this situation.  She suggested that I do something to ease my mind about my father, so I called the office of the trailer park he lives in.  I spoke to the woman at the office who said she checks on all their residents every morning and the other office person checks on them in the afternoon.  My greatest fear is that he will fall ill or pass away and no one will find him for days.  I love my Dad very much, regardless of the childhood trauma he knowingly or unknowingly imposed.

In any case, I feel better now that I have done something to ease my mind about my Dad.  I’ve enlisted the help of my ex-stepmother (they are still very close) to try to ensure that he is not alone for Thanksgiving.  I don’t know if he can make it out here again with his health, and it would be difficult to go there since I can’t procrastinate with my surgery too long.  It’s all so complicated.

Now that my depression is abating somewhat, I am going to make a conscious effort to talk to my Dad more often.  I think that will help ease my mind too.  It’s about all I can do from 1500 miles away.  So it will have to suffice.

Maybe I can be of better assistance the next time I see someone in trouble.  One can always hope.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MRI Freakout

What the hell?

I calculate this is the 15th or 16th MRI I’ve had since 2002.  I have had my entire spine done, my brain (repeatedly for monitoring MS), and my elbow.  Today, I had a second MRI on my elbow to try to track how much progress I’ve made in PT over the past year.  I couldn’t do it.  I don’t know why.  At first the tech set me up on my back, but this is tricky because the rest of your body has to squeeze onto the platform.  When she slid me into the instrument, my other shoulder was crowded along the interior – this sent me into a panic attack.  OK, so we try getting me set up on my stomach, which is how we did it last year.  Take a minute, breathe deeply. OK, try again. She kept saying, “watch your head.  Maybe you need to lower your head; I don’t want it to bump.  We’ll slide you in and then see what happens.”

BOOM!  Panic!  Back out! Back out!  I started crying.  I was desperately wishing for a Klonopin, but I forgot to pack my bottle.  (I’ve been trying to avoid taking them whenever possible.)  I asked her to go get DH who was in the waiting room.  He came back and calmed me down.  She said he could stay in the room.  I was able to get into the instrument (eyes closed) and get through the first scan.  Then, DH, decides during the second scan that he will kindly count off the number of minutes remaining on my leg.  It’s distracting and it tickles.  I tried to kick him to get him to stop, but he took this as a sign that I was OK. It’s really difficult to communicate in a room containing an active MRI.

In between the second and third scan, I threatened him.  This stopped the tickling but then my nose started to itch.  When I mentioned the itchy nose, the tech asked if I could reach to scratch it.  I didn’t dare do that.  First, those instruments don’t have a lot of room.  Second, I was afraid if I opened my eyes, I would panic again.  At some point during my third scan, I began to think about my impending gallbladder surgery, and that started to freak me out.  So, I backed off from that idea and instead counted the number of MRI’s I have had in my life.

My husband thinks my panic attack is a result of all the stress I’ve been under.  How does a person suddenly become claustrophobic?  Or is it just that I can’t handle all this medical crap that’s been heaped upon me?

 

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.