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!


Nicholas Hughes commits suicide March 23, 2009

Filed under: r.i.p.,suicide — clementine @ 12:26 am
Tags: , , ,

My swain just read me an article about this and I didn’t want to believe it. I’m a big fan of Sylvia Plath’s work and her suicide was so very tragic. and now we have learned her son, Nicholas, hanged himself on March 16th. Just terribly sad.

Mr Hughes, whose mother took her own life when he was one, hanged himself at his home in Alaska after battling against depression for some time, according to reports.

He was unmarried with no children of his own and had until recently been a professor of fisheries and ocean sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Times reports.

His sister Frieda is travelling to Alaska. She released this statement: “It is with profound sorrow that I must announce the death of my brother, Nicholas Hughes, who died by his own hand on Monday 16th March 2009 at his home in Alaska. He had been battling depression for some time.”

News of his death comes 46 years after Plath gassed herself in the kitchen of the family home while her children slept in a nearby room. Her suicide prompted intense public interest in the family, with some feminist groups laying the blame for her death at the feet of Ted Hughes, who had left Plath for Assia Wevill, the wife of another poet.

click here to continue reading.


ordinary people December 23, 2008

Today I was reminded of one of my favorite films, Ordinary People. It won 4 Oscars back in 1980. Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Redford), Best Supporting Actor (Timothy Hutton) and Best Screenplay. And yet it’s one of those films many people have not seen. I used to wonder why. and today I understand. It’s simple really and I’m surprised I never thought of it before. I grew up surrounded by many who put on the Cleaver family front. It was safe. comfortable. And this film is anything but. This film is raw and painful. beautiful and sad. honest and real. If you are someone who chooses to live behind the Cleaver fence or normal facade…this is a movie that forces you to remove walls and think. feel. empathize. go to “unsafe” places.

First, watch the trailer: (more…)


FDA suicidal warning on epilepsy drugs December 17, 2008

Filed under: big pharma,FDA,mood stabilizers,suicide — clementine @ 3:41 am
Tags: , ,

From Tuesday’s Reuters

so much for my thoughts on Lamictal being one of the only decent meds for bipolar….

Makers of epilepsy drugs must add a warning that the medicines carry a risk of suicidal thoughts or actions, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.

The companies also must develop a patient-friendly guide explaining risks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.

Analysis of 199 clinical trials of 11 anti-epileptic drugs found twice the risk of suicidal behavior or thoughts with the drugs compared to a placebo, the FDA said.

The increase represented about one additional case of suicidal thinking or behavior for every 530 patients treated with one of the medicines, the FDA said.

“The risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior was generally consistent among the eleven drugs analyzed and was observed in patients who were treated for epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, and other conditions,” the agency said.

Epilepsy drugs include Pfizer Inc’s Lyrica and Neurontin, GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s Lamictal and Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax.

Glaxo believes the findings of the FDA analysis should be added to the labels of epilepsy drugs, company spokeswoman Sarah Alspach said, adding Glaxo would review the FDA action.

Topamax already includes information about suicidal behavior in its prescribing instructions, said Tricia Geoghegan, a spokeswoman for J&J unit Ortho-McNeil Neurologics Inc. “We will continue to work with the FDA to make sure any changes they request are in there,” she said.

A Pfizer spokesman had no immediate comment.


and now this… October 15, 2008

Filed under: evil corporations,suicide — clementine @ 10:32 am
Tags: , ,

we knew these stories were coming…sadly, it’s only going to get worse…

from huffington post:

An out-of-work money manager in California loses a fortune and wipes out his family in a murder-suicide. A 90-year-old Ohio widow shoots herself in the chest as authorities arrive to evict her from the modest house she called home for 38 years.

In Massachusetts, a housewife who had hidden her family’s mounting financial crisis from her husband sends a note to the mortgage company warning: “By the time you foreclose on my house, I’ll be dead.” Then Carlene Balderrama shot herself to death, leaving an insurance policy and a suicide note on a table.

In Tennessee, a woman fatally shot herself last week as sheriff’s deputies went to evict her from her foreclosed home. Pamela Ross, 57, and her husband were fighting foreclosure on their home when sheriff’s deputies in Sevierville came to serve an eviction notice. They were across the street when they heard a gunshot and found Ross dead from a wound to the chest. The case was even more tragic because the couple had recently been granted an extra 10 days to appeal.

In Akron, Ohio, the 90-year-old widow who shot herself on Oct. 1 is recovering. A congressman told Addie Polk’s story on the House floor before lawmakers voted to approve a $700 billion financial rescue package. Mortgage finance company Fannie Mae dropped the foreclosure, forgave her mortgage and said she could remain in the home.


VA testing drugs on war veterans June 17, 2008

click here to read this incredibly sad and SHOCKING story. it is well-documented and everyone should read it. major kudos to the washington times and abc.

Mentally distressed veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited for government tests on pharmaceutical drugs linked to suicide and other violent side effects, an investigation by ABC News and “The Washington Times” has found.

James Elliott and his fiancee tell Brian Ross about his experience on Chantix. The report will air on “Good Morning America” and will also appear in “The Washington Times” on Tuesday.

In one of the human experiments, involving the anti-smoking drug Chantix, Veterans Administration doctors waited more than three months before warning veterans about the possible serious side effects, including suicide and neuropsychiatric behavior.

“Lab rat, guinea pig, disposable hero,” said former US Army sniper James Elliott in describing how he felt he was betrayed by the Veterans Administration. (more…)


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.