Sandy Hook

This is difficult to write.  I can’t even come up with an appropriate title because this is such a horrible event.  Twenty six dead.  Twenty of them small children, too young to know even to hide, as if it were possible.  Six adults who tried to help and lost their lives in the effort.

How can a person do this?  What sort of mental state rationalizes such violence?  As many mental states as I have been in, I have never felt homicidal.  (Suicidal yes, homicidal no.) I can’t imagine what makes a person do such a horrible thing.

He was crazy, they’ll say and eventually this will go down in the history books as another tragedy caused by a crazy person.  If one crazy person can do this, then all crazy people must be capable of doing this.  Put another check mark down for stigma.

Only 50% of people with mental health problems seek help.  That means that half of those who need help could be a danger to themselves or others. Making mental health more available, affordable and less stigmatized could make a difference in the future.  But it’s too late for the children and adults who have already been lost.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. Schools should be safe havens for our children.  This is no longer the case.

The shooting in Connecticut seemed so unreal to me over the weekend.  Distant, foreign, just like the Twin Towers had felt.  But I substitute taught today and I talked with some of the students.  None of them said they were scared, but you could hear it in their voice and see it in their eyes, there was concern.  Could this happen here?

Of course it could.  It could happen anywhere.

I was talking with one of the teachers about it today.  He said Sandy Hook had all the same precautions that we take here (locked doors, little video cameras) but until society is ready to make the investment into serious deterrents, like metal detectors and armed, trained policemen in our schools, we are all at risk.

And it’s not just Connecticut.  A similar plot in Oklahoma was foiled. A disgruntled teen planned to lure students into the gym, chain the doors and start shooting.  He even planned to plant pipe bombs on the doors rigged to blow when the police arrived.  At least he was caught and arrested before any of this could come to pass.  Allegedly he was trying to recruit assistants in the lunchroom to help with his plans. Students turned him in to the authorities.

It’s a sad time for Newtown Connecticut and the world mourns with the victim’s families.  While gun control is one issue on the table, mental health is a complex problem that needs to be addressed.  I am glad to see that some attention is being paid to the problem, and hopefully this will open up new doors to understanding mental illness and new paths to treatment.

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.

World Mental Health Day 2012

 

Today is World Mental Health Day.  The focus this year is Depression.  As a sufferer of depression, more specifically bipolar depression, I can attest that depression is not a simple illness.  It affects you mentally, physically, socially and professionally.  It can be hard to get out of bed in the morning.  The day drags by and you don’t really care if that report gets done on time or how well it gets done.  Everything feels grey and pointless.  You want to go home and go to bed.  Just get the day over with.  You think, “I’ll start fresh tomorrow.”

But tomorrow is just like today. Another cloudy day in your dreary life.

Approximately 5-8% of the American population suffers from Major Depression Disorder (MDD) and women are twice as likely to be affected when compared to men (NAMI 2009).  MDD is often a recurring illness, as half of all sufferers will have repeated episodes.  There are also genetic risk factors for MDD.

Depression is thought to be the result of an imbalance of the neurotransmitters seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which are chemical messengers in the brain.  Most antidepressants work by changing the balance of these neurotransmitters, usually by changing the sensitivity or affecting their receptor sites.  For example, SSRIs or Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors, work by blocking the reuptake receptors in the brain.  This means that the brain does not reabsorb as much seratonin as it normally would, leaving extra to float around and combat depression.

Depression is more accepted than other mental illnesses, although there is still plenty of stigma to go around.  You may have heard, “snap out of it”, “cheer up”, or “it’s not that bad”.  Yes, even trivial things are “that bad” when you are suffering from depression.  As well meaning as your family, friends or coworkers might be, if they have never suffered from depression, then they don’t understand how you can feel so down.

Depression is a serious illness and should be treated seriously.  So join me today in the battle against stigma and spread the word about World Mental Health Day.

 
© 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 Cost of Mental Health

I’ve written a post on the costs of mental health on A Canvas of the Minds WordPress blog, which is a multi-author blog about mental illness. I can’t figure out how to reblog the post here, so you’ll just have to go over there to read it. Sorry about that, but there are lots of other really cool posts for you to check out while you are there. 🙂

The Cost of Mental Health.

Enjoy!

-MM

High school may be out of the question

Well, I was reading up on the requirements to teach high school, once I found them buried in the state board of education website, (don’t you love broken links?) and discovered there is another whole application process that I have to do before I can take the tests. This process can take up to 6 weeks, so if that happens then there is a very slim chance I can take the tests (with results) in time to teach this year. Since the schools aren’t even willing to entertain the notion of hiring me before certification, this leaves me in quite a bind.

So where do I go from here?

Even if I get through all that process, they do a FBI and criminal record background check. Would I even pass that with bipolar disorder?

There are so many fees involved too… each test has a fee. There are enrollment fees, application fees… it would be about a $400 job application to teach high school, and I’m not sure I have the self-confidence to do it in the long run. I’m not sure I have the self-confidence for anything.

I dreamed about the university position last night. I dreamed that I was doing the interview all over again, only not screwing it up. I really want that job, I just wish I had answered that one question right: which upper division classes would you be comfortable teaching? Well, hell, I can teach all of them (if I have the self-confidence). That’s what it all comes down to in the end: self-confidence. If only I had been hypo-manic instead of stable for this interview, I would have nailed it.

This waiting is killing me. If I had done that right, I might have an offer by now. I really hope I get the university job. My self-confidence tells me I can’t do it, but another part of me says I can. It’s all pointless now until I hear back from them.


© 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.