Thursday, June 18, 2009


n you drive faster than a speeding bullet, think you can leap tall buildings in a single bound and speak faster than most auctioneers

n you talk to god and he talks back to you

n waking up at supper time is getting up early

n there are more pills in your head than there are in most pharmacies

n going to the hospital means a ride in a police car

n you are unhappy with your mood but know it is okay because a new one will appear any minute

n you have had more jobs than you have birthdays

n going to appointments is your full time job

n you have the psychiatrist, therapist and crisis line on speed dial

n 20 minutes is a good nights sleep

n you ask does this medication make me look fat?

n you are never lonely because you have the voices in your head to keep you company

n you use credit cards to make payments on your other credit cards

n you take frequent trips to club med...icated

n you go out 18 nights in a row then don't leave the house for a month

n you make 8 quick right turns on the way home to make sure no one is following you

n you see dead people but you don't have your own talk show or psychic hotline

n you know you are the queen of England but people don't bow to you or call you your majesty

n your medicine makes you want to scarf down sugar right out of the bag

n when people greet you they don't say hello, they say how are you feeling? or are you taking your medication?

n people like hanging out with you because it makes them look normal by comparison

n you make the energizer bunny look lethargic or make a turtle look zippy



Friday, June 12, 2009

Interesting Statistics About Mental Illness

I am fascinated by statistics. A few numbers can at times provide a very vivid picture, point out a problem, cause alarm or even disbelief. I started researching some of the statistics on mental illness and was blown away by some of the stuff the numbers revealed. Anyway here is some of the stuff I dug up in case anyone else is curious.

...oh and on the lighter side my favourite statistic is that half the people in the world are below average.

* Every 18 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide.

*40% of homeless people in America suffer serious and persistent mental illness.

*20% of children in America suffer from a diagnosable psychiatric illness and less than 20% of those children get therapeutic intervention.

*10.7% of all physician visits are for mental health issues.

*More than 90% of people who kill themselves had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

*Data developed by the Global Burden of Disease Study conducted by the World Health Organization, World Bank and Harvard University revealed that mental illnesses including suicide accounts for 15% of the burden of disease in established market economies such as the U.S. This is MORE than the disease burden caused by all cancers.

*Nearly twice as many women as men suffer from major depressive disorder. Men and women suffer bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in equal numbers.

*The highest rate of suicide in the U.S. is in white men over the age of 85 years.

*Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 in assisted living facilities.

*90% of prison inmates in Britain have a psychiatric disorder.

*People with a current mental health problem are 20 times more likely than others to report having harmed themselves in the past.

*More than 70% of the U.S. prison population has 2 or more psychiatric disorders. Male prisoners are 14 times more likely than the general population to have a psychiatric disorder and female prisoners are 35 times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder.

*Mental health problems now account for 30-40 percent of disability claims reported by Canada's major insurers and employers.

*Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds.

*Half the people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have no insurance.

*The average person diagnosed with bipolar disorder receives 3.5 misdiagnoses and consults 4 physicians before obtaining an accurate diagnosis.

*1 in 5 people (20%) with bipolar disorder commit suicide. This is 30 times higher than in the general population.

*More Americans suffer from depression (20.9 million), than from heart disease (7 million), cancer (6 million), and AIDS (200,000) combined.

*Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates are lowest in winter and highest in spring.

*4 times as many men die of suicide than women but women attempt suicide 2-3 times as often as men.

*65% of boys and 75% of girls in juvenile detention have at least one psychiatric diagnosis.

*45% of people with mental illness meet the criteria for 2 or more psychiatric disorders.

*Life expectancy of an adult with serious mental illness is 25 years shorter than that of a person without mental illness.

*70-75% of people with bipolar disorder have been misdiagnosed at least once.

*Statistically people with a mental illness are far more likely to be a victim of violence than to be violent.

*Average age of onset of bipolar disorder is 23 and average age of correct diagnosis is 40.

*13% of people with long term mental illness also suffer from migraines.

*Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in 15-44 year olds in Canada.

*50% of bipolar people are not receiving treatment at any given time.

So those are the numbers I discovered...a pretty bleak picture, but one that people should see.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Think I Need a Psychiatric Resume

Today I had an epiphany. I realized that I am the most redundant person in the history of the world. It came to me today as I sat in yet another professional person's office with the dun colored carpet and the requisite inspirational pictures on the wall, that slightly institutional smell and the elevator music wafting in under the door from the reception area. My eyes had glazed over and I was getting that hazy around the edges feeling I get when I answer the same questions for the 1000th time.

I know that if you have a mental illness you are probably nodding your head right now. You know exactly what I mean. The questions never change and there are hundreds of them. The doctor asks them, the psychiatrist, the social worker, the nurse, crisis worker, therapist, people at the hospital, intake anywhere, psychologist, and today the neurologist. More and more people seem to be getting in on the action too. When I filled out forms to go to a new dentist one of the questions was do you have any mental illnesses and what medications do you take. The eye doctor wanted to know what medications I take and what I take them for.

I seem to do nothing but answer these questions. How old are you? How long have you had hallucinations, voices? Ever married? Children? What kind of voices? What do they say? What do you see when you hallucinate? How many times hospitalized and where and when? Who are members of the team? Family history? Suicide attempts and when? Trauma? Medications? ...and literally hundreds more. It can take up to 2 hours for these questions sometimes and it really does seem like an interrogations sometimes.

So here is my solution. The psychiatric resume. Yep list all my personal info. List how well qualified I am for being mental. List my previous know psychosis, hospital stays, trauma, all my qualifications so to speak. There could be an education section for all the stupid programs I have attended, CBT, DBT, anger management, therapists seen and all that other higher learning. I could list all the doctors I have seen or my references. A section for medications would be great so I wouldn't have to say for the millionth time no I took that and it didn't work, no that gave me akathisia, nope made me blind, nope made me drool, made me psychotic, etc. A section for accomplishments would be great. There I could list all my manic episodes, psychotic episodes, depressive episodes, number of suicide attempts.

Just imagine how much time would be saved if I just handed over my resume...or better yet dropped it off or mailed it in ahead of time. I swear I have spent 3/4 of my life sitting in someones office answering stupid questions. Think how much more time would be available for actual living. Imagine the freedom! I am sure I could make a fortune churning these things out. I can't be the only one who is so frustrated from answering questions over and over.

The good news at the neurologist today is that I don't have some disease that is causing all these bizarre ms or lupus or neurologic stuff I am just plain nuts. Wow thanks for the insight Dr. S., who would have guessed?


Monday, June 1, 2009

Anniversaries and You Meet the Most Interesting Folks

Well today is my anniversary. Nope not a wedding, birthday, promotion or graduation anniversary. One year ago today I was taken by the police and unceremoniously dumped off at the psychiatric hospital. I tend to go nuts in the spring. This is the first June 1 in two years that I haven't been locked up. Anniversaries tend to make me look back on things and I started dwelling on all the awful memories of being locked up for three months. So I dug into my head trying to seek out any positive recollections of the experience and it suddenly dawned on me that you really do meet the most interesting folks in the nuthouse.

You would think that for obvious reasons the nuthut would be a desperate, frightening, sad, pathetic place...and it was, however, at times I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. As I alluded to in my previous post mental illness does have its humorous aspects and we mental folk do like to laugh at ourselves. So let me share the funny memories of my incarceration and introduce you to some of the folks that I did hard time with:

BRIAN: you always knew when Brian was coming in the room; every time Brian came in or out of a doorway or entrance he said fuuuuuuuuuuck really loud. I dunno must be an OCD thing. Sure scared the heck out of the visitors.

JACKIE: Jackie was my roommate. Jackie made me look normal and that is hard to do. She used to come into the room and look at herself in the mirror and laugh maniacally at her reflection. It was the most high pitched creepy laugh I have ever heard. She would do this for at least 45 minutes before she would go to sleep every night. She could definitely give the wicked witch of the east a run for her money. She also used to sit on the end of my bed in the middle of the night. When I would ask her why she was sitting on my bed she would do the laugh thing.

HILDA: Hilda is 72 years old. one night she went up to the nurses station and pointed to each of the 6 nurses one at a time and said you are an asshole and you are an asshole and you are an asshole and then to the last one she said and you, you KNOW you are an asshole. Hilda also out of the blue told me that her bra size is 38 Long...uh they were pretty long...oldness sucks.

LANA: Lana is diabetic and she also loves fruit and fruit juice. She was always stealing, begging and borrowing every body's fruit and fruit juice or tomato juice from the dinner trays and snack carts. She would drink the stuff until she put herself into a diabetic stupor and then would be staggering around like a drunk. She would stash the stuff in her room and then go nuts with it.

DAVID: David was afraid of water...really afraid of water. Every 3 or 4 days when he got really stinky the staff would get together, surround him and drag him to the shower. They would strip him and throw him in the shower and try to hose him down. Almost without fail when he was wet and soapy he would elude their grasp and come streaking down the hall all lathered up and buck naked. He would be sliding and skidding all over the place with at least 3 or 4 staff members hot on his heels. Not bad as far as entertainment goes.

MIKE: Mike was the resident sleepwalker. If you heard piercing shrieks in the middle of the night it was a pretty sure bet that Mike had wandered into some girl's room and was standing beside her bed staring at her.

SALLY: Sally was a doctor and an alcoholic. Sally must have been less crazy than the rest of us because she was usually allowed to go home on weekend passes. She used to come back on Sunday nights so drunk she could hardly stand up and then she would start telling us all these horror stories about all the ways doctors screw up and kill people. Half the people would refuse to take their meds on Sunday nights because she would tell about all these lethal med mix up stories.

DR MURRAY (not his real name so he doesn't sue me for slander even tho he can't sue me for slander cuz this is a true story: Dr. Murray is the medical doctor for the psychiatric hospital. They sent him to see me because all of a sudden I can't see anything. I have perfect vision one day and they start me on a new med (lamictal) and 2 days later I can't see a damn thing. Everything is blurry. So I tell him what is happening and he says "Heather I think you might need glasses" I may have been way crazy at the time and all but still I am like WTF? So I say "hey doc two days ago I had perfect vision then I start a new med and now I can't see a thing". He says, "well Heather I was about your age when I first needed glasses. I will take you to my office and you can read the eye chart." Now try to keep in mind that I am supposed to be the crazy one here. I say, "ummm doc, I can't read the eye chart cuz I can't see a thing." and if you can believe it the dumb ass says "well we will go to my office and read the eye chart anyway." So we went to his office and I couldn't read the eye chart. The psychiatrist took me off the med and my vision went back to perfect in 3 days. I wonder if it is only me that thinks this is hysterical?

HENRY: Henry was the best. He would sit there in group and mimic everything the facilitator said. You know like you do when you are a little kid to drive your siblings nuts...repeating back every single thing they say. They would say Henry please don't disrupt the group like that and he would say Henry please don't disrupt the group like that. Then they would say Henry do you need to leave the group and he would say Henry do you need to leave the group. All us nuts would be having laughing fits over the facilitator trying to gain control of his group. Eventually the techs would come and drag Henry away.

BARB: Barb was the unit lesbian. Barb was big time into shocking the newbies. As soon as a new woman came onto the unit she would walk up to her and look down her shirt and say wow you have great nipples or say I am a lesbian wanna play tonsil hockey. She also told the head psychiatrist that she does men once in a while if he wanted to go for it.

JEFF: Jeff was a pacer. He would pace up and down the hall of the unit for hours and hours on end. He would walk literally until he dropped. And wherever he dropped he stayed until he was ready to start pacing again. People were always having to walk over and around him. He wouldn't get up or move for anyone. It was pretty funny watching the staff trying to maneuver the med carts and meal carts around his sprawled out body.

MARY: Mary used to hide the TV remote so that no one could change the TV channel. Of course she would first put the TV on the fishing channel....yep the fishing channel. No one could reach high enough to change the TV channels because the TV was high up on a bracket so no one could break it. 15 very bored people would be sitting around watching two old rednecks in a rowboat talking about bass and lures. You gotta give Mary credit she never let the men control the remote.

LOUISE: Louise was the pill spitter. She used to get in the med lineup with the rest of us and then when they handed her her meds she would pop them in her mouth and then turn around and start spitting them one at a time at all the people behind her in the line. She had good speed and distance. I am surprised she didn't put out some one's eye.

ME: okay I guess if I am spilling everyone else's secrets I should tell one about me. I don't suppose anyone would believe that I was the perfect angel of the bunch? No? Ok...I used the patient phone to call the police and tell them I was being held hostage against my will. I gave them the address of the psych hospital and told them they better hurry and come get me because my captors were drugging me and kept tying me down and locking me up in small rooms...not a lie by the way. The police actually came. Apparently they have to check things out if they get a call. So what happened? My captors locked me in a small room for the day. There is no justice for the mental.

...So there you go there are the positive aspects of being at the nuthouse for 3 months. Where else would you ever get a chance to meet such a cast of interesting characters. Never a dull moment...It's a crazy life!