A Time for Reflection

A friend of mine recently hit a bit of a rough patch. Some folks close to him would say “a bit???”, but you know what, it happens. Folks who really battle depression and other mental illnesses will tell you sometimes no matter how prepared you are, no matter how well medicated, no matter how self-aware you are, there are just random times where something will slip thru the cracks and smack you down. You may not even be aware of what it was, you’re just suddenly knocked for a loop. As I said, it happens, certainly no judgement from me, and there shouldn’t be from you, either. All there should be is just love and support. Some people ignore getting help because they’re afraid of what others will think about them, they really fear the judgement of others. If you have one of those people in your life, please just look at them and say “what you did doesn’t matter, it’s what you do from here to make it better that matters” and help them put their life back together.

But, all this did give me a reason to really reflect on my life and journey. I blew the dust off this blog and reread it. I can say, I’ve come a long way, baby. I’ve been lucky in that I landed on a medicine that works as well for me as I could hope for, I’ve learned a lot more about myself and what to watch for, and I’ve surrounded myself with some great people who are always there for me and truly look out for me. I still have some mood swings, but it’s like ripples in a pond versus North Shore Hawaii surf waves. I can deal with ripples. My beautiful girls are amazing. My oldest is now 20, just graduated with her Associates from the local community college, and has been accepted by a couple of 4 year schools, so she has her choice of places to transfer to. My other is 13 and is truly an intelligent, incredible little lady. She even got into tennis at school and has turned out to be quite the athlete. Which is surprising, not because I doubted her, but simply because no one would have ever described my family as “athletic”. I’ve got a wonderful, beautiful girlfriend who I can’t imagine not having in my life. We recently moved into an awesome new home. Huge yard, I’ve got a nice size shop for my car and motorcycle obsession, even put a lift in it (which is amazing for me). Of all things we have chickens, which has made my girlfriend super happy. I don’t think anyone that knows her would have pegged her as a chicken person, but that’s how it is. It’s a really nice place.

I guess the easiest way to sum up my reflection is this: I can gather up my family and friends, fire up the grill, pour a beer, light up a cigar, kick back in a chair, and just say “life doesn’t get any better than this” and 100% mean it. Really, can you ask for anything more than that?

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

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Been in Hiding a Bit

I’ve been in a bit of a low point for the last bit. I had a great time over the 4th, but then my mood has settled back into the basic just blah feeling. I’m going to have to switch my doctor because my current one is moving his office and it is just too far out of my way to go see him. I guess I should find a new one and start working on something different that will stop the blah feeling from being around most of the time.

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

‘Black Box’ Warning on Antidepressants Raised Suicide Attempts

‘Black Box’ Warning on Antidepressants Raised Suicide Attempts.

So I come across an article with this as the headline. Of course it catches my attention and I have to read it.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/black-box-warning-antidepressants-raised-suicide-attempts-n134896

Interesting article that brought up a couple of things.

First off, I had no idea what a black box warning was. Apparently, the FDA can mandate that, in the case of severe issues with a drug, a warning be placed inside a black box on the labeling of the drug itself or in the literature. Fair enough, seen those forever and never considered they might have a name. Chalk this one up in the “Learn something new every day” category.

The article basically says that the FDA had mandated antidepressant manufacturers include a black box warning that the drug could increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in kids. Another one, fair enough. Any of us on these types of meds know this comes with the territory. And, suicide is bad, so the government is trying to protect us. Shocker.

This is where it gets odd. Suicide attempts among adolescents went UP 22% and went UP 34% among young adults. WTF? Back up. I had to reread the paragraph a couple of times. It appears that after the warning, antidepressant use in the target age of this warning DROPPED 31%. Now I was totally confused. Then the rest of the article goes on to explain the study. It was a massive cause-and-effect chain. The warning didn’t say anything about this happening in only less than 1% of kids and young adults taking the drugs. And, it didn’t say anything about how the benefits of treatment far outweighed the risk. So, being the loving, caring parents we are (and I mean this in all seriousness), we get home, open the med, read up on it, see this warning and immediately say to ourselves “No way am I giving my kid a drug that may make him want to commit suicide!”. So, we don’t give them the medicine and merrily move along.

This is where several things suddenly popped into my head:

  1. Why didn’t a doctor explain this to them? Seriously, this is a no-brainer if you know the statistics.
  2. As a parent with a child being treated for these type of things, learn to ask questions. Challenge your doctor. They are not gods who know everything. Question them. About everything. Always.
  3. To any caregiver, you are not the one going through the problems. Unless you have experienced these things for yourself, you can’t even imagine what the person is going through. Don’t withhold treatment. Again, question your doctors. You see something like that on a prescription and it scares you, pick up the phone, stop by the doctors office, call your pharmacist. A lot of folks overlook their pharmacist as a source of information, but they are a great source when it comes to drugs. I ask mine questions all the time. They aren’t just folks behind the counter shoveling pills into bottles. They know this stuff.
  4. Sometimes the smallest of things can have a large, unintended side-effect. Really, who would have guessed that warning would have done that? Not me, for sure.

Anyway, I just found that very interesting and spurred a bit of thoughts for me. Thought I’d pass it along.

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favorite authors/poets. I have always loved his works. So dark, so macabre. I realize now why I have been so drawn into them. He writes about madmen. He writes about something I can relate to, and he does it so very well.

It’s believed Poe had bipolar. Doctors have studied his works, personal letters, and have decided based on those, that he certainly had some issues going on 🙂 He wrote personal letters where he wanted to commit suicide, he drank to an excess, probably an alcoholic. Definitely signs of depression, if nothing else. Sometimes referred to as the “man that never smiled”. Quoted as saying “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”. Sounds a lot like bipolar to me.

The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, Never Bet the Devil Your Head, and many more. Dark, dealing with death, hate, revenge.

Of all his work, though, my favorite is Eldorado, first published in 1849. It’s not one of his more popular works, not something you’ll read in school. I often mention it and people have no clue what I’m talking about. I’ve had it memorize for like 25 years now.

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old—
This knight so bold—
And o’er his heart a shadow—
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?”

“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied-
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

Something about it just appeals to me. Starts out with hope, youth, bright (unusual for Poe). Moves on to the older man, unhappy that he has yet to find his “Eldorado”. Then to his deathbed, he asks the ghost at his side where he can find his “Eldorado”, to which the ghost replies, basically, in death.

Poe died in 1849. The reason for his death is really an unknown. There are a million guesses running around, but in the end, it remains a mystery. I often wonder if he saw it coming. Was this, perhaps, a quick look at his life? 40 years summed up in four verses? It makes me laugh to think so, wouldn’t that be so, well, poetic 🙂

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

Ouch, this Hurts, Part II

Ouch, this Hurts, Part II. AKA Emergency Room visit.

Well, the rash got worse, so I called my doctor. We halved the dosage the previous night. Woke up this morning and felt like I had been hit by a train. On top of that, the rash got worse. I called my doctor and he suggested the ER was the next stop. We had dropped the dosage and I shouldn’t be getting new symptoms.

So, off to the ER I go. Pumped a bag or so of liquid into me. Ran some test, all my organs are working properly. They pumped me full of all sorts of junk to counter allergic reactions and out I went. Woke up later and felt a bit better. Not great, but better. The bottom line, they aren’t real sure what the rash is about, so they sent me home with more medicine and a recommendation to a Dermatologist. I’ll call him in the morning and go from there.

Until then, my doctor has me rapidly dumping the Lamictal, so I”ll be off it by the end of the week. We’ll see what happens.

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

Out for a Walk

Image

The whole family (including our Husky, Snowy) went out for a nice walk this evening. I’ve been meaning to take some pictures of the Hill Country, so I drug the camera along. It’s nice just to get out and enjoy the view.

Ouch, this hurts

Ouch, this hurts.

Well, I’ve had a bad reaction to the Lamictal. Yup. Rash all over my face. And, it itches and hurts, bad. Couldn’t just be some little rash that you barely know is there. Noooo, not for me. Called the doctor and I’m cutting the dosage back down and adding back in the Effexor. Keeping an eye on it for a couple days after the dosage change and see what happens. Hopefully it clears up fairly fast because this is really a pain in the, well, face 🙂

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

Exercise II

Exercise II.

I’ve been running. I’m trying to build up to a 5k. Well, to at least be able to run that distance. I’m not sure I’d go and try actually run in a 5k race. Who knows. I’ve got this little couch potato to 5k app on my phone and it’s pretty nice. Takes you through a steadily progressing workout, alternating between running and walking. The the next workout the run period gets a little longer and the walk period a little shorter. Right now I’m covering 2 miles with this routine. 5 minutes warmup. 10 times thru 1 minute walk, 1 minute run and then a 5 minute walk cool down. So about 30 minutes. it’s start at least. I’m looking forward to gradually getting better at it. It would be really awesome if my oldest sticks with me. I would love for us to go do an actual 5k race together. That would be so much fun. Matching shirts and all 🙂

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

Nominated me for The Liebster Award

Kitt O’Malley, author of Life with Bipolar Disorder and Thoughts about God, has nominated me for The Liebster Award, The Liebster Award is a peer-appointed award created to recognize and discover new bloggers, welcome them to the blogosphere, build the blogging community, and recognize good writing.

There’s quite a few things I need to write, more than I can do this morning, but I’ll get around to it this evening.

I just wanted to take a second and say thanks to everyone that reads my stuff and comments on my articles. I really enjoy the feedback and love that I’ve found such a supportive and positive community of people.

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.

 

 

I’m always right. Well, at least 50% of the time.

I’m always right. Well, at least 50% of the time.

A friend of mine is going through a bit of a rough time with some family issues (My buddy will remain anonymous, his name doesn’t mean anything to the post). It’s some of the typical stuff, mom and dad conflict with older child. It’s the kind that gets blown way out and causes real issues. No one is really to blame, it’s the situation that’s more the problem. As kids, I think we’ve all been there. You think your parents don’t know anything, they don’t understand, they don’t get you, they have no idea of how the world works, yada, yada, yada. Admit it, you’ve all thought it. I’m willing to bet a large portion of you would admit to being in the problem situation, too.

I’ve been thinking on all this a bit and I’ve come to a conclusion. I’m faking it. Yup, I have almost no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been a husband for 24 years and a father for 12 years and I’m still mostly winging it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got the easy things down. The stove is hot, don’t jump from the roof to the trampoline, watch out for that snake, try not to crash the bike into a mailbox, look both ways before crossing the road, don’t sit 2 feet from the TV, don’t listen to the radio at the “break windows” volume setting, if you shoot the BB Gun that way you’re going to break something. The rest of the things, I’m not so sure about. I try to teach my kids to be honest, loyal, brave, kind, etc. But really, how do you teach someone this? I try to set the example, but I’ve certainly failed at times. Seriously, who is honest all the time? “Oh, I must have missed that email” is the little lie for “I didn’t feel like getting to it right now”. “Dang, I forgot we needed milk” is little lie for “I was too tired to stop”. Brave, I think I got that one down okay and I like to think I’m teaching that one well. Maybe not brave, per say, but how to handle being afraid. My oldest and I love to go do crazy things. It started as a way for me to show her that everyone experiences fear, it’s what you do while afraid that matters. Now she seems fearless, she’ll do anything. She’s learned how to deal with nerves and I’m really proud of her for that. Kind? Hmm, that’s a toughie. I’m mostly kind, but kids will be kids. There are tons of other examples. And it gets really funny because I have a 12 year old and a 5 year old and they are NOTHING alike. I mean nothing. You would think being the by-product of similar core values and teaching styles would make them roughly the same, but noooooo, not at all. So that makes it even more interesting, because now I have to vary my parenting style a bit for each one, otherwise it doesn’t work at all.

I often wonder if we should admit some of this to our kids. I mean, we usually have our bluff in and leave it at that, but should we open up on that bluff a little? Let them know the world isn’t perfect and by default, that means we as parents aren’t perfect. I know most of us are trying our best, but we all know we never hit best. It just isn’t perfect.

I think I was floating around in the Gulf when I realized my parents had done a pretty damn good job. I was smart, some of the highest scores they’d ever seen on an ASVAB. I had grown out of the kid phase and was an honest man working in Naval Intelligence and running around with the highest security clearance our government deals with. I was loyal, part of the reason I joined the military, loyalty to our country and a desire to go help others. I was brave, this had been tested on a few encounters and I didn’t end up in a fetal position in the corner, so all was good there. I was good and my parents had done it. It seems like I sat down and wrote them a long letter, telling them all this, thanking them for doing the best for me they could. I guess I was luckier than some on this one. I know a lot of people who grew up the product of a not so nice home, and I feel so sorry for these people. The home should never be a place of fear or hatred. It should never be a place of torment. Not that the people I know are bad people or they aren’t doing well, just that they missed out on the experience and had/have to deal with the trauma that kind of childhood inflicts.

 

Until next time, “wishing you all good mental health”.