The Author

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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am overcoming schizophrenia, and I believe others can too. Here is how I am managing my condition...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote Early

Today my family and I voted early. We waited in line for about two and half hours, which wasn't bad. I am assuming we saved a lot of time compared to how much time we would have spent in line on November 4th. In line I brought cheese and dip, candy, and a word puzzle. We got a little break because my sister brought her child, so that scooted us up in the line a little bit. The actual voting process was easy with the card and touch screen service. Voting early is only way to do it, I'll make it a habit in the future.

For the 2000 election, I also voted early because I volunteered as a poll worker. I had a good experience but the service literally took all day, which made me tired at the end of the day. We worked from about six in the morning until 9pm.

I strongly encourage you to vote, and I go further to say do it early it will save you a lot time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Closer to Recovery

Yesterday I visited a college and gathered information on the requirements for spring admission. The deadline for spring admission is mid-November. I plan on applying to the school, and the whole idea of returning to school excites me. It shows progress in my recovery. I look forward to starting school in January and being enrolled part-time for starts. My major is Business Administration.

Prior to the onset of schizophrenia I was going to school, working, and running cross country. But when schizophrenia interrupted my life it snatched away everything. Now I am slowly picking up the activities I used to do and going to school is a major part of that. Recovery is feeling like your old self again, and when I am in school I will feel like the old me again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Schizophrenia and Diabetes

Approximately 18 percent of people living with schizophrenia have type 2 diabetes. People with schizophrenia have a life expectancy 20 percent shorter than the general population- and they have two to four times a greater risk of developing diabetes than the general population.

Risk Factors for Diabetes
  • Body mass index of >25

  • First-degree relative with diabetes

  • Habitual physical inactivity

  • Being an African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander

  • Delivering a baby >9lbs., or having had gestational diabetes

  • Hypertension, a high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of <35mg/dl>250mg/dL

  • A history of an abnormal glucose tolerance or fasting plasma glucose test result

  • A history of vascular disease
Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, and almost all anti psychotic drugs, including the older drugs, increase the risk of obesity. "Meta-analysis found that patients receiving standard doses of atypical antipsychotics for 10 weeks gained a mean of 9.79 lb with clozapine, 9.13 lb with olanzapine, 6.42 lb with sertindole, 4.6 lb with risperidone, and 0.09 lb with ziprasidone.13 Prospective studies found that the annual mean weight gain was 11.7 to 13.9 lb for clozapine, 15 to 26 lb for olanzapine, 4.4 to 5.1 lb for risperidone, and 6.1 to 12.3 lb for quetiapine. Ziprasidone and aripiprazole both had mean weight gains of less than 2 lb.4" ( http://www.pharmacytimes.com/issues/articles/2005-10_2662.asp).

Monitoring weight gain is crucial. The physician should record the body mass index (BMI) of the patient every time they start or change a medication for six months. After six months recording weight should occur quarterly or more frequently if weight accumulates. The patient should learn how to weigh their self and notify their physician if they gain 5 percent of their baseline weight or the number of pounds that correspond to one BMI unit (these figures should be calculated with or for the patient).

Resources

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Name is Mental Illness (A Poem)

Exact from poem published by the Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health Newsletter. In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) I found this poem online from the Jewish Association for the Mentally Ill (JAMI), U.K. (http://www.jamiuk.org/).

(Untitled)
My name is mental illness
I have been around since man was created
Many different names have been given to me
In the past - Loony, Nutter, Village Idiot, and so forth were used by
society.
To describe WHO I AM
In modern times - I have become sophisticated.
I am now labelled Depressive, Manic, Obsessive, Schizophrenic.
By people who have not lived with me.
To know me, and my capabilities.
You have a life that you think you own.
But I would like to remind you.
When I strike I pay no regard to who you are.
Or what you have achieved in society.
I take you Rich or Poor.
I take you Young or Old.
I take you Beautiful or Ugly regardless of colour or creed

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day/National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) 2008

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) which will be held October 5-11, 2008 is a time to educate oneself and others about mental illnesses in order to overcome the stigma attached to mental illnesses. Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day and National Depression Screening Day is a part of MIAW.

Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day is Thursday, October 9, 2008. Bipolar disorder affects 6 million Americans.

National Depression Screening Day takes place Friday, October 10, 2008. Depression affects 19 million Americans or 9.5 percent of the population. To locate a screening site in your neighborhood click on the following website:
http://register.mentalhealthscreening.org/Locator1.aspx?MPEID=2

For an online assessment of either bipolar disorder or depression go to:
https://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/select_screening.asp

MIAW Events-Charolettesvill, Sioux Falls, Tuscan

Several events are taking place this week in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) that is held October 5-11, 2008. Sioux Falls, Charolettesvill and Tuscan among many other cities are celebrating MIAW. Go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at http://www.nami.org for information about events taking place in your area.

Today, October 5, 2008 Sioux Falls, South Dakota will host the free 16th Annual Candle Light Vigil and Walk at First Lutheran Church (12th Street and Minnesota Avenue) at 6pm in Christ the Victor Chapel. The program will begin with prayer and scripture followed by speakers and music at 6:30. There is an optional eight-block candlelight walk (http://argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080922/UPDATES/80922026).

National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 7, 2008. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church is hosting a prayer service from noon to 12:30pm in Charolettesvill (http://www.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/mental_illness_focus_of_prayer_service/28946/). Tuscan, Arzionia is hosting two interfaith services at 6:30pm at 1) Catalina United Methodist Church located at 2700 E. Speedway Blvd. and 2) Mountain Shadows Presbyterian Church located at 3201 E. Mountainaire Drive (http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/local/98560.php).




Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW)


This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5-October 11, 2008). In 1990 The United States Congress named the first week of October Mental Illness Awareness Week.
National Day of Prayer fo Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 7, 2008; Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day (BDAD) is held on the Thursday, October 9, 2008; National Depression Screening Day is Friday, October 10, 2008 of Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website and contact your local NAMI group to see what activities are taking place this week in your neigborhood at http://www.nami.org/.
"According to the National Institute for Mental Health, today there are approximately thirty-five million persons who suffer the burdens of some form of mental illness. Twelve million are children. Ten million have chronic mental illness" (http://www.abc-usa.org/resources/resol/mentill.htm).


Friday, October 3, 2008

Assisted Outpatient Treament (AOT)

In this post I plan to discuss the reasons why involuntary medication compliance is needed in the community and safe for the mentally ill patient.

Forty-two states have what is called "Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)," or "outpatient commitment" which is Court-ordered medication compliance (http://www.psychlaws.org/BriefingPapers/BP4.htm).

"What is a Petition for Assisted Outpatient Treatment: A mentally ill individual who does not comply with his/her treatment plan can deteriorate, lose the ability to make rational decisions, and become dangerous in the future. After a petition is filed, a hearing is set where a Judge would be able to order an individual into treatment Assisted Outpatient Treatment - if he/she demonstrates noncompliance" (http://www.oakgov.com/probate/faq/assist-outpatient-trtmt.html).

'Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) has been known to reduce hospitalizations, arrests and incarceration, homelessness, violent episodes, and victimization' (http://www.psychlaws.org/BriefingPapers/BP4.htm). As a result of Kendra's Law "New York has seen drops of 77 percent in hospitalization, 85 percent in homelessness, 83 percent in arrests and 85 percent in incarcerations among people placed on involuntary outpatient treatment for the last six months of 2002" (http://www.psychlaws.org/GeneralResources/article128.htm).

Schizophrenia has the potential to affect everyone. Because someone with schizophrenia could commit a crime while in a psychotic state of mind. Committing a crime could cause someone else harm. In 1999 a person with schizophrenia pushed a women infront of a moving subway in Manhattan, this incdent led to legislation called Kendra's Law which support AOT (http://www.psychlaws.org/GeneralResources/article128.htm). Another example is my case while I was psychotic I stole the military truck to escape the "demons" and was evading the police when I hit another car. The other person was not seriously hurt, however, this could have been a fatal accident.

Not taking medication could lead someone to harm themself. They may be hearing voices that tell them to hurt themself. They could be suicidal.

Without medication the person could go down hill physically and mentally. For example, while I was experiencing psychosis I did not shower, eat, or speak to anyone. I did not trust anybody. In fact, I thought the cafeteria staff poisoned my food. I thought everybody was against me. I was not helping myself, I fell apart. Consequently, my family encouraged my attorney to let the Judge mandate that I take medication in the state of California.

The criteria for people with a mental illness to be Court ordered to take their medication is as follows (http://www.psychlaws.org/GeneralResources/article128.htm):
  • The person must be 18 or older, mentally ill and unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision.
  • The person's failure to comply with treatment has been a significant factor in an admission for examination or treatment at least twice in the previous 36 months, or has resulted in at least one violent act, or threat or attempt to harm himself or herself or others in the past 48 months.
  • The person is, as a result of mental illness, unlikely to follow a treatment plan.
  • The person needs involuntary outpatient treatment to prevent a relapse or deterioration that could result in harm to the patient or others.
  • It is likely that the patient will benefit from involuntary outpatient treatment, and less restrictive alternatives are unsuitable.

Finally, I agree with the Court order to involuntarily medicate the mentally ill patient because they are a potential threat to themselves and the community. In my personal experience with my family encouraging the Judge to mandate medication compliance I am thankful because the medicine helps me think clearly and feel in control again. I think that had I been on medication prior to the incident, there would not have been an incident. Assisted Outpatient Treatment helps the individual by reducing their risk of being involved in a crime, homelessness, and harm to oneself and the community.

Is mandating someone by law to take their medication an infringement on their rights or is it helping them and the community?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Continuous vs. Intermittent Medication

Hektiklyfe (http://thesilentpodium.blogspot.com/) asked an interesting question:

"So this is something you have to do the rest of your life or does (schizophrenia) go away after years of treatment?...and if you have to take those drugs for the rest of your life wouldn't you have to increase the dosage as time goes on?"

This was my response:
This a gray area because some people may not need treatment after many years (Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual). But for the majority of us we will need treatment for the rest of our lives. There is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be compared to diabetes in that we need medication to help us get by for our entire lives. And as time goes by usually the dose will decrease (Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual).

E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., author of Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual, said 'that people can stop medication until symptoms return. However, it is not clear which patients can do this without serious relapses. He goes on to say a quarter of people with schizophrenia that experience an episode and recovered will not get sick again and will not need medication' (Torrey 192).

'As for the three-quarters of people with schizophrenia who relapse they may need medication for several months following recovery. Medication is needed for several years for people who relapse a third time' (Torrey 192). "In summary, then: first episode, continue medications for several weeks; second episode, for several months; and third episode, for several years" (Torrey 193).

It seems that Torrey follows trial and error criteria for medication, which I do not agree with. I think all people with schizophrenia should take medication to prevent a relapse from occurring to begin with, not try to go without medication for a short while and see what happens. Again there is no cure for schizophrenia, but there is treatment to manage symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and other negative symptoms.

What do you think of Torrey's theory? Do you agree that people with schizophrenia should try to go without medication after recovery to see if they are in that small percentage that does not need medication? What are your feelings about this issue over continuous medication versus intermittent medication?