Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

My kids are getting excited for the New Year celebration this week. We’re keeping it low key with a nice dinner thanks to my husband grilling us tri-tip along with some quality family time at home. Heck, as far as my kids know, that’s how everyone celebrates the New Year.

As I reflect on the coming year, I feel some excitement for positive change. As my youngest continues to have a positive reaction to prozac, I hope to see him thrive more, along with focused therapies to help him where he needs it most. On the flip side, I’m nervous for my oldest as school becomes more challenging and he struggles with bigger projects and demands, I only hope that his school can meet his needs. Either way, I expect that life will continue to be a roller coaster and I’m going to hang on and try to have some fun while counting my blessings.

Though I face many challenges in raising my boys, I love each of them with all of my heart and thank God for letting me be their mom.

I wish you all a wonderful year ahead and look forward to hearing from you as you travel through your own journey. Happy New Year my friends!

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Check back soon as I share the latest with my youngest son after seeing a Pediatric Neurologist this week.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Open Letter to the President regarding Mental Health Reform

This week Michael Scofield posted this letter to the President of the United States regarding Mental Health Reform. I wish everyone would read it! It’s powerful to say the least and presents wisdom that only someone with his experience can acquire. If you aren’t familiar with Michael and his family, he is a public advocate for mental health reform while raising his daughter Jani who has Schizophrenia with his wife Susan and son Bodhi. I first came across this family on an episode of Oprah and also through the wonderful series on Discover Health called Psych week. Michael invites all parents with children who have severe mental illness to use his letter as a template to tell their own story and to mail it to the White House at the address provided below:


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Open Letter to the President of the United States regarding Mental Health Reform:


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Michael Schofield and I am January Schofield’s father. Of course, you don’t know who January Schofield is. You won’t…. until she kills someone.

Writing that sentence above makes me want to vomit. It goes against every fiber of my being. My daughter is only ten years old. She loves animals. She is a fan of the band Blink-182. If you meet her after reading my opening sentences, you would think me a monster. How could I call my own child a killer?

There is a chance that January will one day join the list of names that includes Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Jared Loughner, Seung-Hui Cho, and Brenda Ann Spencer.

Why on God’s earth would I connect my precious little girl to these monsters? Because she is no more a killer than they are. It is not my daughter that might kill.

It is what is inside her brain.

January (or “Jani” as she likes to be called) has schizophrenia, a psychotic illness. Psychosis can take many forms. It can manifest as auditory and visual hallucinations.

Sometimes, these voices can take the form of voices the victim actually knows. I have known mothers who live in fear of their children because one of the “bad voices” in their child’s head is them. Try to imagine having a voice filled with hate in your head. And that voice belongs to your mother. And you are desperate to silence that voice.

Is that why Adam Lanza shot his mother? Was it her voice that he heard in his head? Was he trying to silence her in the only way he could think of?

But perhaps that wasn’t the only voice.

Some of these voices are “command hallucinations,” meaning that they command the victim to do bad things, usually to themselves but sometimes to others. Did Adam Lanza hear a voice in his head commanding him to kill those children? Did he hear the voices of children he had never met in his head, laughing at him, telling him horrible things about himself?

When he was pulling the trigger, did he even see those children as they really were? Or was his mind showing him something else, something far worse than a child? Demons? Monsters?

People who suffer from psychotic illnesses do not see the world as we see it. They see another world, other people, overlaid upon our world, our people. When we go out in public, I must walk close behind Jani, ready to steer her away from walking right into people in front of her. She does not see them until I tell her they are there, even though they are right in front of her. She has to be reminded to see what is in our world because most of what she sees is not in our world. She looks down at the ground a lot because if she raises her eyes, they will drift up, above the heads of those around us, toward the ceiling, and fixate on something swirling high above our heads that I wish I could see but cannot. I must talk to her, not to make innocent conversation, although that is what it looks like. I have to make sure that she still sees me, still recognizes me.

For there was once a time when she didn’t.

As long as she still recognizes and engages with myself and those who love her and care for her, there is hope. But make no mistake. Every moment she is awake I am challenging a world that exists only inside her head, competing with it for her attention, and, more importantly, her soul.

There is no cure for schizophrenia. To manage it, Jani takes a staggering cocktail of medications that would put you or me in a coma. 350mg of clozapine (an anti-psychotic) per day. 75mg of chlorpromazine (another anti-psychotic, better known by its trade name “Thorazine”), and 750 mg of lithium carbonate (a mood stabilizer used to reduce impulsiveness). All this just so Jani can repress her violent impulses, the commands from her hallucinations, and function. And to meet her, you would never know she was on these powerful medications. She would happily run around the White House lawn, playing with Malia and Sasha. The only thing that might strike them as strange is that Jani would probably talk about “24 Hours,” or “Eighty” or “Eighteen.” She would introduce them to your daughters as her friends. And if they looked confused, she would run off by herself, perhaps into the Situation Room, or out into the Rose Garden. You would call after her but she would tell you she was playing with “Eighty,” that she and “Eighty” were having fun.

“Eighty,” by the way, is a hallucination, a young girl about Malia’s age. “Eighty” used to tell Jani to jump off the third floor of our apartment building with her. At least for the moment, “Eighty” is not doing that anymore.

I can tell you she would not hurt your daughters. You would probably find her enjoyable, a little blonde sprite. But that is only because of the anti-psychotics that she takes. Without those medications, her pre-frontal cortex will begin to erode, much as it does with Alzheimer’s. The pre-frontal cortex is who we are. I have watched my daughter’s personality erode and I have watched her struggle to come back. She can handle being in a classroom again (the classroom being “SED” or severely emotionally disturbed, the school system’s catch-all for children who cannot function in a mainstream class). For three years she could not do this and was educated in an empty classroom with a teacher and an aide. For two and half years my wife, Susan, and I maintained two separate apartments, one for Jani and one for our then infant son, Bodhi. Jani was such a threat to Bodhi’s safety that the Department of Child and Family Services told us to either send Jani to a residential facility (of which the only options were out of state) or they would take Bodhi. We refused to send our daughter away. We refused to give up on her. So we split our family apart to keep it together, something we were only able to do through the generosity of family and friends. We alternated nights. One night I was with Jani while Susan was with Bodhi and the next night we switched. We did not want Bodhi to grow up afraid of his sister and we wanted to reduce Jani’s stress level. And it worked. We now live under one roof again. Bodhi loves his sister and Jani, free from the worst of her symptoms for now, is able to love him back.

I still get tears in my eyes when Jani walks up to another child, a real flesh and blood child, and says, “What’s your name?” Such a simple act is a titanic accomplishment for Jani. My daughter is my hero, Mr. President.

But my promise that she will not hurt your daughters or anyone else only extends as far as August 8th, 2020. Because on that day Jani will turn 18 and I will have no legal ability to influence her, to help her, to save her life and, quite possibly, the lives of those around her. Everything that Jani has achieved and still might achieve could be lost. She is allowed to refuse her medication if she so chooses, because at 18, under our current mental health laws, she becomes a “consumer,” not a patient. Without medication, she could become a dirty bag lady that people will pass on the street with disdain, the woman raving to herself that makes good citizens cross to the other side of the street. She could commit a crime with no awareness that what she is doing is wrong. Right now, she has a tendency to try and strip her clothes off if she feels any wetness. She could be arrested for that. She could be arrested for striking someone trying to help her, as she now sometimes does to us or her school staff or her behaviorists. Things that she does now that are not crimes yet will become crimes. Perhaps she will wind up in the California Department of Corrections, the largest provider of mental health services in the world.

With no medication to check the advance of the schizophrenia, there is no telling where what is left of her mind could lead her to do.

I am not asking for society to take responsibility for my child. What I am asking for the ability to continue to take care of Jani after she turns 18. Right now, I cannot legally help my child, no matter how much I may want to. I need your help, Mr. President, to change that.

There is a law that was passed here in California and signed by former Governor Gray Davis. It is called “Laura’s Law.” It allows for what is called “assisted outpatient therapy,” which is a fancy name for forced medication. If adults over the age of 18 with a diagnosed severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar will not comply with their doctor’s orders to take medication, they can be legally forced to. It was named after Laura Wilcox, a 19 year old college sophomore who was volunteering at the Nevada County (California) Mental Health Clinic during her winter break from school. On January 10th, 2001, Laura Wilcox was shot to death inside the clinic by Scott Harlan Thorpe, a diagnosed schizophrenic.

Unfortunately, the bill left the decision of whether to implement Laura’s Law (based on New York State’s similar “Kendra’s Law”) to the individual counties. To date, only Nevada County has implemented it. Los Angeles County, where we reside, has fought off lawsuits brought by civil rights groups enough to implement a pilot program. All attempts by other counties to implement Laura’s Law have been stymied by litigation claiming the law violates the civil rights of the mentally ill.

Mr. President, when Jani was only two, long before she presented symptoms of her future illness, I went to see my doctor about what I thought was the flu. It turned out I had pneumonia. I was hospitalized. As part of the protocol for pneumonia, I was administered a test for tuberculosis. The initial skin test came back positive. I was moved into an isolation room. I could not see my wife and daughter without a mask and gloves. My pneumonia improved under antibiotics but only then did I discover that I could not leave. I could not leave until the secondary tuberculosis test came back negative. I was shocked and angry. I wanted to go home. My wife and my daughter needed me. But I was a prisoner by order of the State of California’s Department of Health. Until it could be confirmed that I did not in fact have tuberculosis, I could not leave because if I did I was a threat to public health.

Why is it that tuberculosis is considered a threat to public health but severe mental illness is not? Why will Jani be given a choice to destroy what she accomplished and risk herself and those around her at the age of 18? If a person has tuberculosis, we do not let them refuse treatment and return to society. We treat them, not only because of the potential danger to us but also because we consider it our moral imperative to treat the sick. Those with severe mental illness are sick, Mr. President. It is our moral imperative to treat them.

If I have my way, my daughter will have a happy and fulfilling adulthood. But that can only happen with legislative help. I am asking you, Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Representative McKeon to pass the following legislative changes that I believe if were in place now, the 26 victims of Adam Lanza would still be alive:

Introduce, pass, and sign into law federal regulations making Laura’s Law/Kendra’s Law mandatory in all 50 US states. This allows parents like myself to continue to have input regarding our children’s mental health treatment, avoiding tragedies like Newtown by making it easier to get our adult children into inpatient psychiatric care
Amend the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to include mental health parity, eliminating annual and lifetime limits on mental health care, specifically inpatient care. Right now, inpatient psychiatrists spend more time on the phone to insurance companies trying to justify the need for further inpatient care than focusing on patients. Due to the elimination of state psychiatric facilities in most states, there is no care system for the chronically mentally ill. Requiring private insurers and Medicaid to treat mental illness as they do physical illness would save untold sums in incarceration. Prisons are currently the only providers for chronic mental health. In California, over 60% of the prison population has a diagnosable mental illness.

Use incentives like student loan forgiveness to encourage more medical students to go into psychiatry. We have a severe shortage, even in major urban areas like Los Angeles.

Pass legislation mandating the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education to develop a program for mental health screenings of public school students, conducted by a team of board certified child psychiatrists. Current law requires visual and auditory screening. Mental illness has a far larger impact on learning ability than a need for glasses or a hearing aide. This would allow us to identify and treat mental illness before it progresses to the point of potential violence.

Pass a budget bill allocating funds to states explicitly for the purpose of building more and better acute inpatient psychiatric facilities. Under current law, when you present to the emergency room with psychotic symptoms, if there are no beds available, you will be turned away. There is a severe shortage of psychiatric hospital beds for both adults and minors. The biggest obstacle to mental health care is not lack of insurance but a lack of facilities.

Call for Congressional Hearings to learn about severe mental illness. Let parents like us come to Washington and share our experiences. Meet our children (for those of us who still have children under the age of 18). Involve parents like us, parents who can tell you everything that is wrong with the system, what we went through, and how we are trying to protect our kids. Do not subpoena just the “experts” because they haven’t lived it. You are not an expert on mental health until you have watched it destroy your child. And do not turn to national “advocacy” groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness because they willfully ignore the potential for violence with mental illness for fear of “stigma.” We are not concerned with stigma. We are trying to save lives. The unwillingness to face the possibility of violence leads the mainstream mental health advocacy groups to ignore our children, who suffer from the worst of the worst mental illnesses. There is no national organization that speaks for us.

You have heard only too clearly from Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Jared Loughner, and Seung-Hui Cho but it is too late for them now. When you look at them, all you can see is a killer who took innocent life. You will never get the chance to see who they were before the day they picked up a gun.

But it is not too late for Jani. You can still meet her and see who she is now. And if you give me the chance, I can introduce you to thousands of other children who are not yet the visage of a nightmare, staring blankly back from a mugshot.

Please, Mr. President, Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Representative McKeon. Help me save my child.

And everyone else’s.

Sincerely,

Michael John Schofield
Father of January Schofield
Author January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her

CC:
Senator Diane Feinstein (U.S. Senate-California)
Senator Barbara Boxer (U.S. Senate-California)
Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon (25th District-California)

Note: If you are a parent of a child with severe mental illness, I encourage you to use to this letter as a template, changing it to include your child and your child's symptoms, then mail to the White House at the address above. The White House and your members of Congress need to see your letters and emails. They need to see the magnitude of the problem that led to the tragedy at Newtown, CT. You can submit emails to President Obama here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments. You can also call the White House at 212-456-1111.

You can find and contact your US Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/ and your member of the US House of Representatives here: http://www.house.gov/

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Link to Michael’s Blog:

Jani on Born Schizophrenic:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Bah Humbug!

Overall, today was a great Christmas day. The boys were so excited for Santa that they began waking us up around 4 am. We made them wait until 7 am, but I don’t think anyone got much sleep.

With so little sleep we were expecting a meltdown somewhere along the way, and our youngest son didn’t disappoint. This afternoon at Grandma’s house, surrounded by a room of onlooking family, my youngest son started to scream when he found out he got clothes in one of his gifts. The clothes were awesome and just what he needed, but his expectations were of something else and more than anything he was done for the day. Too much fun, not enough sleep, a different schedule, different foods, crowds of people—all of it was a recipe for disaster for his little brain.

So there he was, yelling over the family, “This is the worst gift ever!”. I wish it stopped there, but it didn’t, he had to be carried to the back room to decompress only to later run into the bathroom where my aunt was doing her business. I heard her scream from down the hall after I was too late in stopping him from barging in on her. It was then when we surrendered and called it a day.

On the drive home, I had to push away feelings of embarrassment. My family was so generous with my son—it was mortifying to see him throw such a fit. I also can’t help but feel like everyone is judging me for being a bad parent. This is exactly how Thanksgiving ended with my in-laws, me taking my youngest to the back room as he screamed, “I hate you!”

As much as I know I need to be prepared for these meltdowns when our life gets off schedule, it still makes me wish I could avoid it all together. But as my husband pointed out, to do so would require never leaving the house and that doesn’t always make for a very merry Christmas.

In the end, I have to keep in mind that as hard as this is for me, it’s 100 times harder on my little one.

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Merry Christmas my friends and to all a good night!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dispelling Misconceptions of Asperger’s Disorder

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

I saw this video on NBC Bay Area Website, I really appreciated this father, who himself has Aspergers, stand up for his daughter who also has it. After the shootings, the Asperger community has faced a lot of negativity because people don’t understand the disorder and assume that it means a person is dangerous. It’s taken a long time for this community to gain acceptance, so this turnaround is very disappointing. I’m glad to see individuals standing up to dispel these misconceptions.

It’s interesting that after the DSM guide has removed Aspergers from the diagnostic guide that this disorder is now in the forefront of the news. I wonder what impact this will have in the long run?

Link to video:
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Bay-Area-Man-With-Aspergers-Speaks-Out-184191731.html

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Scared than Ever...

Over the last few days I’ve read or listened to some very disturbing conversations regarding our children. It honestly feels like our family is wearing a scarlet letter. People believe that all evil comes from our families and if society would just remove our children, the world would be a safer place. More than once, I’ve listened to reasoning from individuals that claim the solution to all mass shootings is to have a registry for all people with “labels” or those taking medication so the government can monitor them. To be honest, this type of thinking was starting to feel like Nazi Germany.

Here’s an example of what I encountered many times yesterday:

Cindi says: “Flipping radio stations this morning, I came across a conversation that has me unsettled to say the least. (It was a national call in show.) The host was ranting that “all special needs people, children and adults, need to be segregated in their own facilities. We don’t want those people mixing with our normal kids. They should all be locked up where they can’t hurt anyone, since we never know... when they are going to go off their meds and snap. We don’t want special needs kids in school with our kids. They should have their own place, where we don’t have to worry about what they might do.” He went on to suggest a registry of people (again, adults and children) on any kind of medication, “so that they can be monitored.” And the worst part was, all the people calling in were agreeing with him!! I think I’m almost more scared than I was on Friday. Do we need to talk about guns? Yup. But we need to also talk about the state of mental health care and the surrounding issues. Too many morons out there that think like this are creating a culture of fear toward our kids. And they have enough challenges...”
So how are we as families suppose to take this? This woman shares how she felt more scared after hearing this show than she was on Friday. I could relate to that. This kind of thinking terrifies me.

I also think it’s complete nonsense. The reality is that those with “labels” who are taking medication or undergoing therapy are safer than your own neighbor who has an “anger problem” but refuses to seek help. Labels and medications are one of many steps towards a safer society. This overgeneralization will only lead to more stigma which will cause those with mental illnesses to avoid treatment for fear of getting the “label”. As a result, we will in essence produce more unstable people.

But in the face of fear, in the desperate need to get a hold of what we can not understand, it’s easier to criminalize a whole population of people, who by the way are more likely to become a victim than to hurt others, than to look at the real problems such as our failing mental health system.

Yesterday I was contacted by a CBS affiliate radio station to speak on behalf of families who’ve felt scared of their own children. I was assured that I could remain anonymous and that the interview would be “delicate and sensitive”. I was seriously conflicted about whether or not I wanted to participate in such a public discussion, especially with the “pitch forks” of society pointing at us. On one side, I wanted to fight against the stigma that already exists for our kids and bring compassion to our families. I feel strongly that if we don’t speak up, we’ll never make a positive change. But on the other side, I was terrified of the negative backlash that would follow for my family, particularly my children if my anonymity was unveiled. As I sat nervously listening to the live broadcast, trying to make my decision about joining in, I started to hear the conversation turn heated and hateful. It was all I needed to hear before walking away.

You may be scared of my “labeled” child, but honestly, you scare the crap out of me.





Sunday, December 16, 2012

Heartbroken and Speechless...

Like many of you, I’m feeling the weight of the school shootings that happened last week. I feel so many things. Sadness, fear, anger and the list goes on. Around me I’m hearing a lot of discussion about mental illness, about what should’ve been done, about the failures of the parents and society as a whole.

Like most parents, I’m concerned for my children’s safety at school. It seems unreal that we live in a world where our children have school drills for such events and they actually happen. But unlike other parents, I’m feeling anxious about the fallout. Will others be scared of my son after such a tragic incident. I know I’m not the only one feeling this. I’ve heard of others who now feel concerned because they’ve disclosed their mental illness to others. “What will they think of me now? Will they have compassion, or am I the enemy?”

Today I read many comments from mothers with special needs kids sharing their concerns for their own children, they express worry, “could my own son/daughter do this?” I feel their pain in their questions, in their fears, I understand the guilt they feel for even thinking such thoughts. It makes me wonder, did the shooter’s mother ever consider this, was she scared of her own son?

Today there was a post that’s gone viral on Facebook (Thank you Molly for sharing). It’s from a mother who was brave enough to expose her life and her son. It was tough for me to read because I can relate and because I’m so frustrated with our current mental health system. I can only hope that this mother will be able to stand strong against her critics and in the end, her honesty will bring about positive change.

Here is her post:

I am Adam Lanza’s mother
http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html

As for the families suffering tonight, I’m heartbroken and speechless. There are no words to mend these wounds.






Tuesday, December 11, 2012

School Psychologist Evaluation

I just met with the school psychologist for my youngest son, I found her classroom observations to be, well... so my son.

Here are a few of her notes:

He is an active student, sitting in his chair inappropriately, alternating between sitting and standing at his desk.

He would get off task, doing his own activities before joining in on the assignment. 

He would leave the class group without permission to do his own thing.

He did not look up at peers or engage in eye contact or direct his communication with any particular individual.

He would talk to himself and occasionally laugh.

He would not engage in a “social smile” when the psychologist tried to engage him.

He was observed to hum or sing quietly to himself.

He would sometimes speak in a made up language.

He annoyed a peer by covering their face with his paper, he did not pick up on the social cue that he was annoying them.

He had one shoe off for half of the observation. (this made me laugh—this is SO my son!)

Well one thing is for certain, the Prozac is working so far. Overall he has become more happy and isn’t putting himself down anymore. He also said that the voices “died”. Instead of slouching and tearing up stuff, he is doing headstands on the couch and acting silly. Even his teacher has noticed that he is not as frustrated and isn’t throwing books in her class. The school psychologist noted that he appears to be a happy boy.

Our concern is for his future, when others may not think of his quirks as being “cute”. In the meantime, I can live with a happy and silly boy, even one that speaks in his own language.

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Based on this evaluation, the school has agreed to have him evaluated by a speech pathologist and have his handwriting skills looked at.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Autism, Bipolar Disorder and Neurofibromatosis... Is There a Connection?

Tomorrow I meet with the principal and school psychologist for my youngest son to begin the process of helping him while we wait for his Aspergers assessment with our HMO. In preparation of the meeting, I got a call last week from the school psychologist who’s been evaluating my youngest son in class. She did take notice of his unusual way of speaking, she said, “He tends to blurt out information to no one in particular and doesn’t give eye contact to the classmates around him.” As she asked more questions about him I explained that he has an older brother with a mood disorder. She paused for a moment and said, “You know... I’m not an autism specialist, but I can share from my own experience that it isn’t uncommon when I see a child on the autism spectrum to see another family member not so far down the family tree with a mood disorder, such as bipolar disorder. It’s like it’s the same gene, just a different mutation of it appearing in another family member.”

I found this to be intriguing. I happen to know another family who has a son with Autism and a close relative with bipolar disorder. I have also heard from a follower with a similar situation. It makes me wonder how connected these disorders are.

Another piece of interesting information I came across is that children with Aspergers tend to have more unusual medical conditions than the average child. According to The Asperger’s Answer Book by Susan Ashley, Ph.D., 12-37% of children with Aspergers may have one of the following:

• Chromosomal Abnormalities
• Thyroid Disorder
• Neurological Disorders
• Tuberous Sclerosis (Tumerlike growths on the brain)
• Neurofibromatosis (Soft tumors all over the body)

The last one on the list made my eyes pop out! Neurofibromatosis... That’s the exact same condition my son was screened for last month! The screening was done because he showed one of the markers with cafe-au-lait spots found on his body at an annual physical. The second round of screening showed that his eyes were free of tumors and we were told that they would keep an eye on him in the coming years to see if it would develop. At the time, I felt we were done with that forever, but now seeing it on this list made me feel a little uneasy.

With all that said, we’re taking it one day at a time. My son will begin his assessments for Aspergers Disorder right after Christmas. We were fortunate to get in with a highly regarded team, as I was told, “they are the best in the area!” I don’t know what to expect with Aspergers Disorder being dropped from the DSM guide, will my little one walk away with a diagnosis of autism, or will he fall outside the spectrum? It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Glenn Close is Honored for her Fight Against Mental Illness Stigma


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Glenn Close appeared on the Today show after being honored for her work in fighting the stigma associated with mental illness. As she shared, 1 in 4 people are affected by mental illness. Her own sister has Bipolar Disorder and her nephew has Shizoaffective Disorder, so she too has personally dealt with it. Way to go Glenn Close, thanks for making a difference for our families!

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Here’s the link if you can’t view the video above:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Valid Argument for Adolescent Bipolar Disorder Being a Real Diagnosis

There’s a lot of buzz about the new disorder DMDD (Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder) being added to the DMS guide next year with hopes of reducing the number of children misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. In some cases, such as Dr. Kaplan, he’s “Driving a Stake in The Heart of The Beast of The Misdiagnosis of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder” holding strong to his belief that bipolar disorder doesn’t even occur in children. Though there are many parents that would argue against this. What I came across today is an article by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi published in Psychology Today arguing against these “bipolar skeptics”, claiming that bipolar disorder can begin in childhood. I found his argument to be pretty compelling.

He asked the question “Does depression occurs in children” and if so, points out that depression often precedes manic or hypomanic episodes, and since 25-50% of children who have depression in childhood grow up to have full blown manic or hypomanic episodes, isn’t it then reasonable to believe that they had bipolar disorder all along?

He states:
Does it mean that they have “major depressive disorder” until age 20, at which point their disease magically changes to something completely different: bipolar disorder? Or is it rather the case that they have bipolar disorder from the very start, with the first episodes of their mood illness being depressive episodes, and manic episodes beginning later? This is a course of bipolar illness, depression preceding mania, that has been described for over a century. (Dr. Nassir Ghaemi Psychology Today)

You should read his entire article, it’s not that long, but very interesting.

Check it out:
Depression in Children: Proof of Bipolar Disorder
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mood-swings/201211/depression-in-children-proof-bipolar-disorder

Dr. Ghaemi’s First Article in a Series:
Childhood Bipolar Disorder: Erasing Myths
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mood-swings/201211/childhood-bipolar-disorder-erasing-myths




Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Miss Dating My Husband

Tonight I went to the movies alone to see a movie I was looking forward to seeing. It’s no big deal that I went alone, I do that off and on when the kids are in school, but going at night, surrounded by all the couples on dates left me feeling pretty sad. Raising kids with challenges makes it almost impossible to go on dates. We don’t want to leave our kids alone with a teen to babysit because it may not be safe for everyone and we hate to burden our family by asking them to watch the kids. So as a result, my husband and I only date a few times a year. It seems to be less every year.

As the movie ended, I watched all the couples head off, while I went to my car to cry. I miss having fun with my husband. I miss dating him and having our alone time away from the house and kids. Because of our kids’ challenges, we tend to tag team our fun. My husband gets to play poker with his friends while I stay home with the kids and I go out to dinner with my friends while he stays home. For the most part this works pretty well, giving both of us a much needed break. But for our marriage, it doesn’t help us enjoy life together. Instead, I feel like our happiest times happen apart. Not that it has anything to do with each other, just the reality of our circumstances. When we’re together, we’re putting out fires with our kids and trying to keep the peace. We’re basically surviving. There’s a whole lot of stress and work and very little fun.

Tonight this makes me very sad. Can you relate?