invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

Joe Pantoliano on mental illness stigma April 27, 2009

thanks to Van for posting on this-I’ve been out of the loop and missed it although I am familiar with what Joe has been doing lately.

Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, Memento, The Matrix, The Goonies) started an organization called No Kidding, Me Too! He has a documentary coming out with the same title. I want to start off my saying, I commend him for this. Stigma is a real problem in America and throughout the world. We must bring an end to it!

This is Joe’s message at his website:
We are ready for the fight and we ask you to please join us in the revolution and help us educate souls all over the world to “Remove the Stigma!”

No Kidding, Me Too! is an organization whose purpose is to remove the stigma attached to brain dis-ease through education and the breaking down of societal barriers. Our goal is to empower those with brain dis-ease to admit their illness, seek treatment, and become even greater members of society.

The Goal
Make Brain Dis-ease cool and sexy. We want a normal conversation in America to be:

“I have bipolar disorder/schizophrenia/insert dis-ease”

“No Kidding, Me Too!”

Who Has The Stigma:
Those suffering from brain dis-eases including anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, pyromania, kleptomania, compulsive gambling, addictions, paranoia, multiple personality disorder, gender identity disorder, Down’s syndrome, psychosomatic disorder, tic disorders, and others.

How Will NKMT Accomplish This?
h Create strategic partnerships with members of industry, academia, organizations and government to ensure a broad-based spectrum of support and input.
h Organize the creative talents of our industry professionals to generate messages for various media and use our celebrity status to ensure these messages are heard. The messages will be of empowerment and acceptance and can include topics as basic as giving job opportunities to those with a brain dis-ease.
h Coordinate, participate in and generate interest for national and regional educational events consistent with our goal.

He has an impressive list of Advisory Board members, some of whom I greatly admire in the industry Joey and I share: Robert Downey, Jr, Ed Begley, Jr, Jeff Bridges, Edie Falco, Marcia Gay Harden, Ang Lee, Robin Williams and many more.

At his website there are photos of Joey from the screening of the teaser at the Democratic National Convention with people like Tony Goldwyn, Dana Delaney, Bobby Kennedy, Melissa Etheridge and Tom Fontana.

Here’s the teaser to his documentary:

Under the resources section at his website-the very first resource listed is NAMI. ahem. I wonder if Joe has researched Big Pharma’s influence at NAMI? Is he aware that Sen. Grassley is investigating NAMI’s funding? I am a registered Democrat and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with this party, a party who is ignoring the corruption of Big Pharma and anyone linked to Big Pharma mainly because of their involvement with them. They are looking out for themselves and those that financially support them instead of the PEOPLE. Senator Grassley is all alone and that is sad.

At Joe’s website he links to several articles, letters, humorous videos and some of this favorite quotes, here’s a sampling:

To Fight Stigmas, Start With Treatment

Call for New Home to Address Health Disparities for Mentally Ill

FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful

some of Joey’s favorite quotes

The teaser for his documentary opens with the statement:
1 in 4 Americans suffer from mental illness
4 in 5 Americans are affected by it

And then throughout you see more statistics on the screen:

87 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness
There are over 350,000 diagnosed cases of PTSD resulting from the Iraq war
18 of our American heroes are committing suicide every day

And statements like these:
There is a fine line between madness & creativity
Mental illness is the only DIS-EASE which you can be diagnosed with, and get yelled at for having

Joe went public with his illness after he was hired to do a film. (FYI: one of the first things required for actors and directors before they start filming is to see a doctor and production schedules a physical for insurance purposes) He had done this over 70 times but in this case he told the doctor the two medications he was currently taking, one for depression and one for heart disease. His lawyers were then informed that the production company/studio could not insure Joe because he was taking an antidepressant. They were told Joe could sign a waiver basically saying if he had a ‘breakdown’ he would be financially responsible for the loss of work or a shutdown. Joe’s real problem and awakening was simple: they were willing to cover his heart but not his brain. That is stigma. We all know it and it’s something I’ve been fighting and living with for countless years. It’s heartbreaking.

However, in a separate (lengthy) taped discussion with Joe he discusses a number of topics, mostly stigma, his films, politics & mental illness. He also talks about the fact the he quit drinking and has started practicing yoga, he exercises, etc. He believes in the theory that mental illness is genetic. I believe he mentioned his mother was diagnosed bipolar. Now, I haven’t seen his documentary but when his teaser states 87 million Americans suffer from a mental illness-I doubt (and I hope I’m incorrect) that he mentions why we have this false statistic. This number has increased drastically simply due to Big Pharma’s influence and a bunch of doctors started diagnosing people for a variety of reasons: more money in their pockets, get the patient in and out as quickly as possible, falsified data and studies…the list goes on and on. Instead of dealing with the true issue at hand, whether it be trauma or dysfunction, it seems Joe has partially bought into the quick fix system. And he’s using his celebrity status with people in the government in hopes that his message will be heard. That would be all fine and good except there are many flaws in his message. I agree with ending stigma but ‘his message’ goes much, much deeper than that.

In chapter 15 of the discussion linked above someone asked him if he’s tried alternative treatments like acupuncture and he states that he does practice yoga and meditation, he partakes in talk therapy, 12 step groups, etc. He seems to be all over the map and that is fine. It is his path. But it will truly disturb me if he does not mention Big Pharma’s influence within our modern psychiatric world (doctors, NAMI, etc) in his documentary, No Kidding, Me Too!


the 12 most annoying habits of therapists March 15, 2009

Filed under: health care,therapy — clementine @ 11:59 am

from the NY Times Well Blog:

The 12 Most Annoying Habits of Therapists

The mental health Web site PsychCentral notes that we all have bad habits. But when the person with the bad habit is your therapist, it has “the very real potential of interfering with the psychotherapy process.”

Here, according to PsychCentral founder John M. Grohol, are the 12 most annoying habits patients complain about:

1. Showing up late for the appointment: Some therapists consistently show up late for their appointments with their clients — anywhere from five minutes to even two hours.

I’ve had this happen on numerous occasions.

2. Eating in front of the client: Asking, “Do you mind if I finish my lunch while we get started?” is inappropriate.

One therapist I had ALWAYS ate during our sessions.

3. Yawning during a session: Believe it or not, there are therapists who fall asleep during session.

Oh yes, I had one fall asleep on me. Supposedly one of the best in town-never went to see her again. (more…)


a new year and new beginnings December 31, 2008

this is what i do know:

1) i am a simple girl and cannot write as eloquently or intelligently as so many of you out there. i am (kinda) okay with this.

2) i am 35 and for 15+ years of my life I have been on/off psychiatric medications. not one of them worked long-term. many (too many) of them had horrific side effects and long-term side effects that I will be dealing with for the rest of my life, possibly.

3) Big Pharma is not there to help the mentally ill, cure us, or even make us feel better. Big Pharma=Big Money in their pockets. Whether it be a Prozac Nation or an Atypical Antipsychotic Nation, they do not want a Healthy Nation. In simple terms, they would lose a tremendous amount of money since psychiatric medications are their best selling drugs.

4) Doctors are becoming more and more corrupt. The Joe Biederman’s and Charles B. Nemeroff’s of the world are proof of this. Doctors in the mental health field seem to both listen and care less. We are becoming numbers, not patients. I know this from experience. A therapist who dozed off during our session (a session I was paying good money for!) Numerous psychiatrists that write multiple prescriptions without even blinking or thinking. with no warning of the drug’s side effects or withdrawal symptoms. We see doctors prescribing multiple medications to children while their brains are still developing and they are not willing to figure out what’s really going on with these children. It’s all about the quick fix regardless of the severe and damaging consequences.

5) We need more science. period.

what i don’t know and the rest, after some soul-searching, i have decided to travel my own path. i will figure it out along the way. i will continue to do my own research. i will try new things like meditation, yoga and supplements. and revisit things that have worked for me in the past, acupuncture, keeping an open mind. all in hopes of finding a balance. my center. i will continue writing as it the best form of therapy for me right now. i will attempt to face a past traumatic experience and figure out how to let it go. its grasp is still there after so many years and can be crippling at times. i will attempt to stop seeking understanding from those that may never understand and instead, live my life. after all, it is my body, my mind and i don’t know how long i’ll be here on earth. i need to make the best of my life, no matter how difficult it may feel or get at times.

i will seek more love, forgiveness and peace in the new year.

and i’m wishing a happy new year to all of you!


Abilify update December 11, 2008

Filed under: antidepressants,antipsychotics,big pharma,health care — clementine @ 1:17 am
Tags: , ,

an Abilify update. my initial reaction has been- ok, it’s not as bad as Seroquel. as in, i’m not sleeping 14-16 hours a day and completely knocked out. but. there’s always a but. i’m having serious short term memory problems. i will say something to someone only to repeat the same comment/question a few minutes later. i feel as if i’m under water. not really slurred speech…but sloooowwww. i’m misspelling words and cannot complete sentences. the pain in my hands/wrists/arms is gone. great. but i switched things up. i’m now taking the abilify in the morning and the celexa at night. when i was taking the abilify before i went to bed, i could not sleep, again…the exact opposite of seroquel. luckily this is all short-term.

i want to be alone. all of the time. i’ve asked my swain for space and so he’s been spending many nights at friends while i sit here and try to figure it all out. it’s kind of a free version of checking myself into a mental hospital. i sit here and write. i read. trying to learn to crochet. the only difference-i’m not under supervision and my pills are not handed to me in a little dixie cup.

i’ve been revisiting the past which my swain does not understand. but i feel i need to go through a healing process and it is helping. how might posting childhood, work & friend’s photographs on facebook help? i don’t know.
i don’t know. i don’t know.

i don’t know anything right now. only this is certain:


Update 12/12/08: Just got the OK from my doctor to stop the Abilify. So it’s just Celexa and Xanax for now….


a familiar road December 3, 2008

things in my life have taken a turn for the worse. call it anxiety. call it depression. call it bipolar. and yes some suicidal thoughts thrown in the mix. call it whatever you want but it’s not fun. at all.

the past 12 or so months have been unusual and quite difficult. in no particular order dealing with:

-loss of health insurance for the first time in my life
-the 20 year anniversary of my rape which has flooded my mind more than usual
-the diagnosis of sciatica and adenomyosis
-choosing a road without medication for my mental illness
-the economy failing and finding it incredibly difficult to secure a job-especially when the last ten years of my “occupation experience” fall in the film industry, which nobody seems to understand. when you can’t get hired at the new whole foods or trader joe’s in town-things are bad.
-two newborn nieces i have never met
-difficulties with my family over numerous issues have brought much sadness

where have the above left me? in a deep, dark hole. and for the first time (in a long time) i have not been able to see the light and that fact frightens me.

it could be worse. i know this. we all do. i especially know this considering a family member was killed in Kuwait, he was 19 and had his whole life ahead of him. another cousin just happened to be at the Alfred P. Murray building on the same day Timothy McVeigh “visited”, Thomas died that day. A girl I worked with was shot during last week’s Mumbai attacks.

however, I have a mental illness and have come to realize that sometimes you must take drastic measures to get out of the “hole” and that (sometimes) requires taking medications you absolutely despise. (this would not be the case if i could afford acupuncture)

i paid a visit to my internist since i cannot afford to see a psychiatrist without insurance. yesterday morning i sat in her office taking deep breaths, trying to avoid a full blown panic attack. i stared outside her window, watching small snowflakes slowly fall to the ground. grey skies. ugly buildings. but beautiful snow. and my mind kept going back to the same place—when will this end? it was there that i decided, probably never. i will be fighting this illness my entire life. it’s like an incurable cancer that you are born with and forced to live with…until the end of your days. and i say that because…

my internist walked in and asked what was going on…i broke down…and three crumpled tissues later she was handing me 3 sample boxes of Abilify (the heavily advertised antipsychotic), a prescription for xanax and celexa. Wow. I fought the Abilify choice-I am 100% against antipsychotics after my Seroquel experiences. However, she basically told me i am in a very bad place and need something strong to get me out of it. She promised it would be short term-hence only a 3 week supply. During our visit I was reminded of something a nurse at a Vanderbilt psychiatric study told me. and i told the story to my doctor. basically, a few years ago i signed up for a paid depression study— after i listed the medications i had taken over the past 15 years, the nurse denied my participation in their study by simply stating, we have deemed you untreatable.

yesterday my doctor laughed at the idea of participating in such a study and my response was a bit harsh, and from the look in her eyes, I don’t think she liked it…..i said, “why not…i’ve been a guinea pig for the pharmaceutical companies for YEARS and i might as well get paid for it!”

untreatable. and that’s where i’m going with this. i am convinced the medications on the market for depression, bipolar, etc either a) don’t work b) work short term or c) make us sicker. and although a lot of my “symptoms” revolve around situational experiences, i do believe i was born with a mental illness and i have to figure out how to live with it and survive it…in a world full of stigma and companies that do not seem to give a damn about the medications they are pumping into our bodies. the studies are flawed and fixed. it’s all about the money. doctors are influenced/bribed. the hippocratic oath is a rare thing these days and that is very sad.

and so i stare at these and cringe:


as much as these medications disgust me it was the printout i received from my pharmacist that truly disturbed me, it was titled:

Antidepressant Medicines, Depression and other Serious Mental Illnesses, and Suicidal Thoughts or actions.

the printout goes on about how loved ones should pay close attention to any sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. they list possible symptoms like…thoughts about suicide or dying, new or worse depression, new or worse anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, new or worse irritability, acting aggressive, being angry or violent, acting on dangerous impulses, an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania), feeling very agitated, other unusual changes in behavior.

How unbelievably ironic and SAD. medications prescribed to stop these very things can lead to any of the above. So much for progress. I have fought this illness since I was thirteen, that would be 22 very long years.

and this is where we are?!

but…i’m not back at square one. i’m just on a very familiar road. a road that is very bumpy, curvy and unpredictable. luckily i’m smart enough to know when that road leads me to a cliff, i do whatever is necessary to avoid jumping off.

maybe someday i will not be deemed untreatable. maybe someday my illness will be understood by the people i hold close to my heart. and hopefully someday that road will never lead to a cliff.


obama on mccain’s healthcare plan October 4, 2008

Filed under: 2008 election,big pharma,change,health care,politics — clementine @ 7:06 pm
Tags: , ,

while i’m away March 14, 2008

Once again, I’ll be taking a break. I’m starting a job next week and will be working those hideous 12-18 hour days until mid-May. and although I rarely blog these days I’m still following stories in the mental health (and beyond) world.

Here are few worth reading:

Antidepressants found in drinking water of 24 US cities

Mental health parity bills have now passed both houses of Congress. Here’s hoping the Senate and House can compromise. I prefer the House version for a variety of reasons you can find here at my blog. The White House opposed the House bill, saying it “would effectively mandate coverage of a broad range of diseases.” I can’t even begin to describe how this infuriates me! Not that it will help, but I urge everyone to email or write the President, letters to the editor and members of Congress—demand an end to this discrimination.

The famous UK study published in the journal PLoS Medicine finds antidepressants are barely more effective than placebos in treating most people with depression.

I have two friends that recently decided to quit smoking (one was successful and one was not) However, they were both prescribed Chantix-the one that quit successfully had few side effects. The one who is still smoking went a bit crazy on the drug. It was very frightening and I begged her to quit taking the pill. Before taking Chantix she rarely suffered from depression and never anxiety, one week into Chantix she experienced extreme agitation, anxiety and depression. Her lovely doctor then added Wellbutrin and Buspar for the anxiety and depression and Miraplex (for her restless leg syndrome) Next thing you know-she was on the edge. I urged her to find a new doctor, go off the pills and treat the side effects from the multiple pills with acupuncture. I’m happy to say with the help of acupuncture and vitamin supplements she’s doing much better. Studies have found Chantix causes suicidal thoughts amongst other things and it angers me our doctors are not only ignoring the data but prescribing more drugs to treat the side effects of Chantix. We live in a sad, pathetic, sick country these days.

It is no secret I am not a fan of antipsychotics after my experience with Seroquel. We are no longer a Prozac Nation-we are a Seroquel/Zyprexa Nation and that is frightening. However, it’s nice to see an alternative to the nasty drugs used to treat dementia in nursing homes. Lately antipsychotics have been heavily and ignorantly used to treat the elderly and now one nursing home in the Bronx is treating patients with aromatherapy, long soothing bubble baths and massages. Way to go! Click here for the story.

Antipsychotics cause brain damage? Read on…

Here’s a reason why we should boycott the Olympics.
(a warning to animal lovers-it’s incredibly sad)

I watched “In the Valley of Elah” recently and highly recommend it. Here’s the true story behind the film and what should have been a real wake up call to anyone who doubts our soldiers are in dire need of mental health care.