invincible summers

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

it’s not/what you thought/when you first began it June 5, 2009

it’s not/what you thought/when you first began it…
lyrics from Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up”
from one of my favorite songs and film, Magnolia.

my absence is not due simply to work (i’m finished and broke again) or negative attacks. it’s also simply (and i hope i don’t offend anyone but if I do, I apologize in advance….) I need to take of ME.

21 years ago around this time, i was raped. as my regular readers know, it was so brutal, i blocked it from my mind for nearly four years until something triggered it. then, at 19, i began traveling a road of escapism, addictive behaviors, etc. along the way I was diagnosed with just about every ‘mental illness’ out there…first depression, then double depression, then borderline personality disorder and lastly bipolar. I’ve been on numerous psychiatric medications all of my adult life.

and now, as I’m about to turn 36 next week, i have realized (with the help of some dear friends and readers…you know who you are and I am eternally grateful to you!!!) that it’s not what i thought when i first began it. for the majority of my life, i wanted to BELIEVE I had a mental illness. i took the pills. i spent tens of thousands in medical bills…saw the most expensive psychiatrists, therapists, etc….none of whom never understood me nor cared to. a waste of money and time to say the least, but a lesson learned and I grew from it. that’s what life is about….

I have been reading Peter Levine’s Healing Trauma and of course I have realized that the symptoms of many ‘mental illnesses’ are absolutely 100% identical to the symptoms of trauma. and I have a lot of trauma in my life, not just the brutal rape. The obvious cases of trauma being war, sexual abuse, physical or mental abuse, loss of a loved one, etc. But I was surprised by the lesser known cases of trauma and I encourage you to read his book if you haven’t already or one similar.

while working on a job recently, a girl turned me onto a beautiful center here in town. it’s a sexual assault center. my first appointment was earlier this week. i nervously walked in and was immediately overwhelmed by a beautiful, caring and loving energy unlike anything I have ever experienced at a place like this before. i will get more into it at another time, but let me just say, it is a wonderful place. and i received a grant so my first 8 sessions are free, after that, sliding scale. not sure how i’ll afford it then, but I will find a way. what matters here is: these people CARE. they do not medicate you. they HEAL you.

during my first session i did 90% of the talking (not uncommon during a first visit) but when my therapist was able to get a word in she brought up dissociation and a form of esp…something I will also get into at another time. (my intuition has grown much stronger over the years and she explained why) but as i sat in her office staring at the toys, the window covered with children’s artwork and drawings…i cried….tears of joy and sadness. through the window I could see children doing their ‘play therapy’ in the beautiful yard. i cried because i wish i had that experience earlier (but have also learned there are no regrets in life, at least that’s my belief) and i cried tears of sadness knowing what these children have been through.

i made it very clear to my therapist, i am anti-meds in my case. especially after 20 years of the meds making me sicker and masking the real issue: trauma. luckily, she is too. i told her the meds I’ve been on that I can remember: Seroquel, Abilify, Paxil, Prozac, Lamictal, Effexor, Celexa, etc. she told me i’d be surprised to know how many young children come in to see her who are on 6-8 meds and it saddens her. i told her i am fully aware of the child bipolar, etc. epidemic. i told her it angers and saddens me. HOWEVER, my dear how it was refreshing to see a place like this where children are loved and nurtured. they are not medicated. my therapist believes fully in creativity and I could see it everywhere. I didn’t see a diploma in her office but instead toys and books and games. even though i know she has a degree…that doesn’t matter. what matters is her heart and what this center is doing.

anyway, i don’t have much energy for more right now. (i haven’t had any energy lately and my mind has been numb) i will end by saying…i am so thankful for this opportunity and i KNOW it’s going to work. i also know it won’t be easy. and so, I haven’t been reading blogs, the news, etc…like I normally do because I’m focusing on me right now. I must do so in order to heal. I have also been escaping by playing games but I believe that is a result of 2 months of non-stop work and the nature of this therapy I’m receiving. That escapism will end as I get further along in therapy.

and in the end….i will hopefully be free of 21 long years of trauma and paralyzing pain.

my love to you all.

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pregnancy and antidepressants April 25, 2009

Thanks to Gianna at Beyond Meds for this. And I agree with Gianna, Vogue is definitely a mainstream magazine so maybe a few lives will be saved. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Back in 2005 GlaxoSmithKline sent a warning letter to doctors, advising that the antidepressant Paxil may be linked to a slightly higher risk of birth defects in babies exposed to the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy.

From the FDA Public Health Advisory:

* In a study using Swedish national registry data, women who received paroxetine in early pregnancy had an approximately 2-fold increased risk for having an infant with a cardiac defect compared to the entire national registry population (the risk of a cardiac defect was about 2% in paroxetine-exposed infants vs. 1% among all registry infants).
* In a separate study using a United States insurance claims database, infants of women who received paroxetine in the first trimester had a 1.5-fold increased risk for cardiac malformations and a 1.8-fold increased risk for congenital malformations overall compared to infants of women who received other antidepressants in the first trimester. The risk of a cardiac defect was about 1.5% in paroxetine-exposed infants vs. 1% among infants exposed to other antidepressants.
* Most of the cardiac defects observed in these studies were atrial or ventricular septal defects, conditions in which the wall between the right and left sides of the heart is not completely developed. In general, septal defects are one of the most common type of congenital malformations. They range from those that are symptomatic and may require surgery to those that are asymptomatic and may resolve on their own. It is of note that the data in these studies was limited to first trimester exposures only, and there are not currently data to address whether this or any other risk extends to later periods of pregnancy.

The Vogue interview can be viewed here.

 

away for awhile March 23, 2009

I’ll be away for a short time. I finally have a job. I’m helping a director friend of mine cast his next feature film which is set in Portland but shooting mostly here, a city that is the polar opposite of Portland. (in film lingo, difficult to cast) The problem is, I haven’t been in the casting world since 2004, so, I’m a little rusty. No, wrong, more than a little. But I am very thankful for the short-term work. I haven’t had a decent job since last August, basically living off unemployment. I thought I worked in a recession-proof industry but nobody is safe anymore. Well, a few are but I won’t go there. Anyway, I can’t remember the last time I went shopping and bought something for myself or my swain. A friend of mine bought cupcakes for my swain’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, that’s how bad things have been. I can’t even afford to drive 3 hours away to see my sister, parents and meet my niece who was born in October! Or visit my swain’s parents and sister and our newborn niece on that side of the family. Sad. However, I know that it could be so much worse. My dad’s company just cut his salary, my mom is in fear of losing her job-there have been many layoffs at her company. And I’m alive, fairly healthy and not living on the streets. Sooo….before I leave for a bit, a few rambling thoughts. (more…)

 

Dr. John Breeding on trauma March 17, 2009

I found this video at the lovely and very helpful beyond meds at ning website. Unfortunately, I’ve been sick the past several months and haven’t been able to spend as much time there as I would like. Anyway, this video left me feeling confused and intrigued:

I am interested because today I was reminded of my rape. It’s not an unusual occurrence-it’s a past traumatic experience that is almost always there lingering and sometimes taunting me or shutting me down, etc. Today, some of the many memories came up again. the gravel driveway. my head banging against a tire. the sound of my underwear being ripped off of me. the rest, mostly a blank. a bathtub. my friend holding my hand. blood. wearing nothing but a t-shirt. I was fifteen and then suppressed the events of this evening for nearly four years.

Three key things Dr. John Breeding mentions in this video in regards to healing past trauma(s) are:

take care of yourself
go slow
allow expression

Well, the first two, I don’t know how to do. The third, not a problem. Although I was raised in a home where I felt loved but misunderstood. But, and most importantly, there were rarely any expressions or emotions allowed-we didn’t talk about anything of substance. Pretty much everything was swept under the rug. If you’ve seen the beautiful film “Ordinary People” you’ll have a better picture. I don’t blame my parents for this-I have forgiven them-they were raised this way. My parents also tried to find a quick fix which is what led to my first psychiatrist visit at the age of 13 after I showed signs of depression and voiced suicidal thoughts. Again, I don’t blame them. I imagine they were doing the only thing they knew to do in that situation. That first visit led to over twenty years of psychiatric medications to include: Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Abilify, Seroquel, Remeron, Wellbutrin, Xanax and Lamictal. These are the ones I can remember. And, not one of them worked for more than 2 years. Actually, Lamictal was the only one that seemingly worked that long. I saw many psychiatrists and therapists over the years following my first visit at thirteen. I even checked myself into a mental hospital. NOTHING WORKED. But during all of the above visits, I was always labeled with something-depression, double depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar-and given meds and ridiculous tools from therapists that never worked.

Here’s where I’m going with this. So, I was raped at 15. But, what happened BEFORE that? Is there a trauma that I’m still blocking/suppressing after all of these years? I’m nearly 36 now. I know why my parents brought me to see that psychiatrist at 13-I repeatedly told them I wanted to die! But, why?!?!? I have absolutely no clue and this concerns me. How does one face and heal from a trauma that does not exist in their mind? My maternal grandmother was deemed mentally ill and spent a lot of time in mental hospitals, she had shock treatments, she was medicated most of her adult life. She died fairly young, due to complications of diabetes, during a very difficult time in my life. I was heavily medicated and we had never once had a discussion about her illness or her life. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I always assumed that I had inherited her “mental illness” but is that what she had? Is that what I have? My grandmother, for example, I know after much digging around and asking my aunts lots of questions, I know that her father burned to his death when she was around five. I’m don’t know anything about her mother, my great-grandmother, I don’t recall ever meeting her. But I do know my grandmother lived in orphanages and foster homes. I’m pretty certain she was sexually abused. So, for some reason, after my great-grandfather died in that fire, my grandmother did not stay at home. I remember my grandmother’s mysterious sister showing up at her funeral and everything was hush hush. Now that I think about it, I believe my grandmother also had a brother and he was not at her funeral.

My grandmother’s life, what I know of it, reeks of trauma. Which is exactly why this video caught my attention. I must blame some really bad doctors and therapists for not addressing and treating the trauma but instead labeling me with whatever they felt suitable, medicating me and moving on to their next patient.

Regardless, I’ll be heading to the library to check out some books while I can’t afford therapy or acupuncture and facing the trauma I know about. First on the list I suppose will be Trauma Through A Child’s Eyes by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline.

 

and another one… March 8, 2009

Federal prosecutors say that a Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist became a “star spokesman” in helping a pharmaceutical company promote its drugs for treating depressed children, even though the medications were not approved for pediatric use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

In a complaint unsealed last week in US District Court in Boston, prosecutors allege that New York-based Forest Laboratories Inc. illegally marketed the drugs Celexa and Lexapro for use in children by paying kickbacks, including lavish meals and cash payments disguised as grants and consulting fees, to induce doctors to prescribe the drugs. They also say the company misled doctors and the public by failing to disclose the results of a negative study.

In the 34-page complaint, prosecutors said that from 1999 to 2006, Dr. Jeffrey Bostic, director of school psychiatry at the hospital, gave more than 350 Forest-sponsored talks and presentations in 28 states, many of which addressed pediatric use of Celexa and Lexapro.

click here to continue reading the story.

thanks to Duane for this.

 

comedy pt. 2 February 13, 2009

and this is comedy at its worst, script style.
(A true story, in fact, this happened today)

EXT WAITING ROOM-DOCTOR’S OFFICE

A WOMAN in her mid-30s sits waiting. She is lethargic, depressed, tired of it all. This is nothing new to her. She’s spent more than half of her life waiting, waiting for her doctors. SEVERAL PHARMACEUTICAL REPS enter as she waits for nearly 40 minutes. Her HUSBAND, by her side, *coughs* whenever they pass by and says, “drug pushers!”

I/E WAITING ROOM-DOCTOR’S OFFICE

A bored NURSE opens the door.

NURSE: Ms.____________?

The WOMAN rises. The usual. Weight check. Blood pressure check. The NURSE shows the WOMAN to her room.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE

The woman takes her usual seat and she hears…

NURSE: The doctor will be right with you.
WOMAN: (sighing) Thank you.

The WOMAN is waiting, flipping through a magazine. She thinks, will this ever end? Finally, she hears a lot of chatter outside the door and it opens. Her DOCTOR enters.

DOCTOR: Soooo, how’s it going?
WOMAN: Oh, well, the usual. The Celexa is horrible, just as I suspected. An antidepressant with side effects of depression symptoms. Oh, by the way, I heard your husband died in car wreck. I am terribly sorry.
DOCTOR: (looking down) Thank you.
WOMAN: So, anyway, I cannot deal with these side effects. Especially the loss of libido and constant lethargy. One cannot get out of a depressive state when you are on a drug that brings on more depression or depressive symptoms. I have no desire or energy to go anywhere. The anxiety is still there. Am I better than three months ago? Absolutely. But this is not my idea of a life and I want my life back.
DOCTOR: Okay, let’s try something new.

The WOMAN rolls her eyes as her doctor scrolls through her computer looking for a cheap, generic alternative. She’s having a hard time finding the generic.

WOMAN: May I ask which drug are you looking for? As you know I’ve been on most of them.
DOCTOR: Wellbutrin
WOMAN: Sorry, I’m allergic, should be in my chart. Bad rash. Hospital. Out of the question.
DOCTOR: Oh shit, that’s right. So, let’s try Effexor. I’ll be back, I’ll grab some samples and go over everything.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE-MOMENTS LATER

The DOCTOR enters with a 14-day supply of Effexor XR. She sits down and faxes a prescription via her computer to the WOMAN’S pharmacy.

WOMAN: I think I’ve been on Effexor before. In fact, I am positive I have been. Although, thanks to memory loss from the numerous medications I’ve taken over my lifetime, I cannot remember a thing about it. I have one question for you, does Effexor have the side effects similar to Celexa, those I am so desperately trying to escape?
DOCTOR: Look, I know you’re more well-versed on medications than most of my patients. I know you do the research. But I will tell you this: with Effexor XR you will have no weight gain.
WOMAN: Great!
DOCTOR: No feelings of lethargy. No loss of libido or other sexual side effects.
WOMAN: (unsure, but willing to give it a shot again) Okay. I’ll try it out.
DOCTOR: I’ve also refilled your Xanax.
WOMAN: I’m happy you mentioned that, I’ve read numerous studies, heard and read horror stories on Xanax withdrawal, when I get to that stage, I’d like to meet with you and discuss the best possible withdrawal scenario.
DOCTOR: (behind schedule and not really listening) Okay, no problem.

INT. WOMAN’S CONDO-ONE HOUR LATER

The WOMAN sits at her computer furiously researching Effexor XR. This is what she finds. Common side effects of Effexor: headache, nausea, dry mouth, sweating, sleepiness or insomnia, and diarrhea or constipation, weight gain, loss of libido and a host of other sexual dysfunctions. Most everything but the weight gain and sexual dysfunctions usually goes away within a couple of weeks.

The WOMAN stares blankly at her computer, really not surprised at the information she has found. She wonders to herself, “Someone please explain to me, why am I PAYING this doctor?”

FADE TO BLACK.

 

light January 14, 2009

I can finally see the light. Not sure how long it will last but things are a little better. We somehow managed to pay our January rent and are now figuring out how to pay February’s rent.

I have decided to stay on the Celexa and Xanax until things calm down. If you know me, you know how difficult this decision was. I dream of a life free of meds, those meds that only help me escape and of course damage my body, my brain. Several of my side effects are gone though, the insomnia…finally. I think that was the Abilify and it is completely out of my system, I hope. No more slurred speech, feeling like a zombie.

Good riddance to a nasty drug.

I can’t find the commercial on youtube that has been running constantly on television but it basically sends this message and not once in the ad is Abilify described for what it is, an antipsychotic. Instead they are flat out deceiving the public into believing this is an “alternative” to be taken in conjunction with an antidepressant. The following information all comes from the Abilify website where you clearly see the words: ABILIFY as add-on therapy for depression. REALLY?!?

Finding relief from unresolved symptoms of depression can be challenging. Medicine can affect each person differently. A clinical study showed that many people with depression did not achieve adequate symptom relief after taking an antidepressant.

If you’re still dealing with unresolved symptoms of depression even after trying one or more antidepressants, it may be time for you and your healthcare professional to consider adding ABILIFY to your antidepressant treatment. You may be able to achieve additional symptom relief.

Clinical studies compared the use of an antidepressant plus placebo (sugar pill) with the use of an antidepressant plus ABILIFY. When ABILIFY was added to their antidepressant treatment, people experienced significant improvement in their symptoms of depression compared to people treated with an antidepressant plus placebo.

ABILIFY is approved by the FDA to help improve symptoms in adults with major depression when added to an antidepressant. Although everyone responds to medication differently, in clinical trials with add-on ABILIFY, some patients experienced a significant improvement in symptoms of depression as early as 1 to 2 weeks.

The advertisement runs fairly long because these jokers need to tell you the disgusting side effects, where again, Abilify pretends to be an antidepressant:

Antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts or behaviors in some children, teenagers, and young adults, especially within the first few months of treatment or when the dose is changed. Depression and other serious mental illnesses are themselves associated with an increase in the risk of suicide. Patients on antidepressants and their families or caregivers should watch for new or worsening depression symptoms, unusual changes in behavior, or thoughts of suicide. Such symptoms should be reported to the patient’s healthcare professional right away, especially if they are severe or occur suddenly. ABILIFY is not approved for use in pediatric patients with depression. Elderly people with psychosis related to dementia (for example, an inability to perform daily activities as a result of increased memory loss), treated with antipsychotic medicines including ABILIFY, are at an increased risk of death compared to placebo. ABILIFY is not approved for the treatment of people with dementia-related psychosis.

Hopefully soon these ads will disappear, they will be outlawed. Enough on this subject and back to what was to be my original post. I am taking small steps. Trying to eat healthier (not easy with little money) but I’m opting for soup vs. a .99 frozen pizza. I’ve gained at least 10 pounds since going back on meds a month or so ago and really need to watch what I put into my body. I’m hoping to get out and start walking again-I used to walk 5 miles a day and I miss it. But it is so very cold right now, not the best time to start. I want to say thank you to everyone who stopped by sending good thoughts. Knowing I’m not alone has been what’s kept me alive for so many years. So, truly, thank you very much.