Monthly Archives: May 2018

Would You Try Electroshock?

Photo by Mike T

In the course of dealing with my bipolar disorder, I had a near brush with electroshock. I managed to avoid it, but I did give it serious thought.

Now 60 Minutes has come out with a piece called “Is Shock Therapy Making a Comeback?” You can see the segment here: 60 Minutes.

ECT(electroconvulsive therapy, the modern name for the procedure), which is often done on an outpatient basis, works by inducing a brief seizure in a patient. The seizure, which lasts about a minute, releases multiple neurotransmitters in the brain, all at once. The patient is required to have someone to transport them to and from the appointment. Treatments are typically applied one or two times per week for 6-8 weeks.

In a brief article excerpted from the news show segment, Dr. Charlie Welch, of McLean Psychiatric Hospital, explains how ECT differs from how it was performed in the past: “What’s different first of all is that it’s done under general anesthesia with a muscle relaxant. So when the treatment is done, the patient is sound asleep and completely relaxed.” Call it a kinder, gentler shock treatment.

That was the procedure that my psychiatrist offered me after he had spent a number of years trying me on various medications that either didn’t work, or helped only partially.

My immediate reaction was negative. I recall thinking, “Fuck, NO! Keep away from my brain, you Nazi sadist!” After I calmed down a bit, I did some research.

ECT, my sources said, was a long way from the cruel, stigmatizing procedure portrayed in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The Internet was little help, though. The opinions and experiences of people who had undergone electroshock ranged from “It was hideous” to “It was a miracle.”

Truthfully, I was appalled by the notion of electrical jolts surging through my brain. My precious brain, which had both sustained me and betrayed me throughout my life.

Then I thought some more. So ECT sometimes causes memory loss. I already had that, thanks to some of my meds. I would be altering my brain with electricity. But hadn’t I been altering it for years with chemicals – medications that no one seemed to know how they worked?

So I went back to my doctor and said I would at least talk to the doctor who would perform the procedure. And I lined up a journalist friend to write about my experiences if her editor approved. (Note: In the 60 Minutes piece, former Massachusetts First Lady Kitty Dukakis gave permission to have her treatment filmed and broadcast.)

My psychiatrist, however, had one more medication that he wanted me to try before we took that next step. And it worked. So much for electroshock.

Now as to that side effect of memory loss – Dr. Sarah Lisanby of the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland has developed a new treatment that seems to avoid that particular consequence.

The procedure is called Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST) and it uses magnets (duh!) to stimulate more precisely focused seizures than ECT does. These focused seizures seem to avoid the parts of the brain associated with memories. As Dr. Lisanby told the 60 Minutes reporters, “For some people, ECT may still be needed. But if Magnetic Seizure Therapy could be effective without the memory loss who wouldn’t want to try that first?”

Would I try MST if I relapsed into treatment-resistant depression? I would certainly consider it, if it were out of the testing stage by then. And I’d do that before I signed up for ECT. While I have memories I’d prefer to forget, with my luck, those would be the ones left unaffected.

The cynical side of me says that these seizure-causing therapies are becoming more popular because insurance companies like the notion of a short course of 6-8 weeks of treatment instead of years of talk-and-medication. (Although Kitty Dukakis said that she has done ECT for years now and expects to continue into the foreseeable future.)

But I could be wrong. It is possible that some kind of treatment could be short in length but longer-lasting in effectiveness. I’m not ruling it out. At this point I’m not ruling out anything that could aid in my progress and my healing.

 

Confessions Of A Mental Health Blog Snob and Why I Avoid The Beautiful People

So let’s just say growing up as bullied kid for a plethora of reasons that made me stand out in my rural population 144 town, such as too tall. grew boobs too soon, didn’t like country music, didn’t wear denim, liked spray in hair dye, wore lots of make up and jewelry, refused to cave in to conformity no matter how much they tortured me…

I will admit to my bias again those I consider ‘the beautiful people’.

For me, this isn’t merely about looks or wealth or success.

True confession- I check out every blogger who clicks like on my posts or follows me. Sometimes, their writing resonates and I instantly want to read more. And sometimes…I see people with dozens of likes and a hundred comments and honestly didn’t find their writing to be my cut of tea…so I move along, guilt free. The beautiful people don’t need lil ole me to join their fan club. But if you are one of those popular bloggers and I follow you and chime in occasionally…it means your writing is damned good and that’s an uber compliment from me.

I suppose I should feel shitty for such ‘elitist’ bullshit, allowing my old baggage to impact my adult life but ya know what? I just don’t.

I am the same with bands, comedy videos, tv shows, movies, fashions. If I don’t personally find it to resonate through a stack of amps…I move along. And people with that many likes and comments aren’t going to miss me so there’s nothoing to really feel bad about. Something speaks to your soul or it doesn’t. At least I give people the benefit of the doubt before the opt out due to overpopularity.

That will never be an issue with my blog. It says I have over 900 followers. On a good day, I get 4 likes. If people are in a good mood, that may double. And of course, my fragile creative writer soul bleeds a little any time I post something I am particularly proud of and it gets completely ignored. I’m not looking for my existence to be validated. I would just occasionally like to know that I wrote a post that was at least as scintillating as that Facebook picture someone took of their salad with a Narwhal shaped crouton on it.

Needy bitch much, Morgue? Hells yeah.

But my entire identity has always been tied to the ‘little guy’, the people like me who are overlooked, underestimated, dismissed, criticized, insulted. So I guess it’s all about ‘the little blog that could’ for me. No, having thousands of followers and likes and comments doesn’t make anyone evil. It just means they are on solid ground so my efforts to bond with others are better spent on the lesser noticed blogs like my own.

Don’t get me wrong. I am under no illusions that my blog is anything special. At best, it’s a clusterfuck to follow some posts, and at others, it’s like depression could be considered infectious.

What I take pride in is the honesty in which I display in my writing here. No filters, no sunshine spewed up your pant legs, none of this “this worked for me, I am all cured, it will work for you too!” I curse, I leave my typos, I wander topic to topic and it is confusing and irritating and ya know what?

THIS IS JUST WHO I AM. Verbally or written…I’m a hot mess of quirk, dysfunction, dark humor, proud sarcasm, and if you can’t handle me in writing…we’d definitely need a couple of Z-Whackers to battle it out in person.

And after having confess my blog bias and coming off looking all shallow and grudge holding…I won’t be shocked to lose dozens of followers (who never read my posts anyway, so whatever) and maybe even some dressing down comments on what a bitch I am.

That bitch thing, is one more facet of my personality I am crystal clear on. My best friend in high school gifted me with a “Bitch Goddess” keychain I carry to this day and taught me not to take it as an insult, but rather as a word people fling about but when women piss them off in whatever inane way. So color me bitchy cos I am always going to piss people off with inane things, with off color things, with an inability to focus or often make sense…

This is who I am.

Some days like today when my mood is low due to lack of slep and absolutely exhaustion…I’m not real fond of being me.

Other days, when my dark sarcastic humor cracks people up and they tell me how funny I am, how good my writing is, how awesome it is that I’m still fighting to just be who I am instead of deciding “oh, I’m 45 and have a kid, time to change everything about myself and conform’.

And those rare occasions when someone comments on a blog post and tells me they like the portraits my words paint, or they totally get where I am coming from and it’s helped put a smile on their face or helped them gain enough perspective to fight another day…

THAT is why I blog, why I write, why I shun the popular blogs and beautiful people.

While a Trek Fan, I’ve never gotten on board with that whole ‘needs of the many outweight the needs of the few’ thing.

I will gladly take one comment a month from someone telling me I made them laugh or my words helped paint a picture they can relate to.

Because if I had hundreds of those, I could never have the time to reply or really interact and attempt to engage and show…misanthropal tendenancies aside…I do care.

I just reserve that energy for caring for those who don’t have a village of adorers. Maybe it’s my loss but I’ve had some experiences with the popular beautiful people and frankly…Opt out.

Bad judgey snobby Morgue.

Shamelessly, unapologetically so.

Only beautiful people I wanna hear about is when the Marilyn Manson song plays.

Vlog Entry

Check out for your weekend viewing pleasure my new You Tube channel, “Julie Whitehead’s Day by Day”. An introductory video is up–I’m just learning how all this cool stuff works on my computer so be patient as I figure it all out!  Thanks for reading and now viewing available once a week.

 

Brain foods: Salmon

I’m eating Salmon right now for breakfast and i love it on bagels and just on a fork..

Go eat some. If you don’t like fish or will die, don’t do it but now at least you have some brain knowledge for someone else. ✌🏿

Happy Long Weekend

Well I am happy because we are at the “official” start of summer and I have gorgeous purple toenails and I have lost thirty pounds.  YES you can be on Bipolar meds and still lose weight!!  It takes hard work and determination and perseverance but you can do it!!  This LoseIt! app has really helped me stay on track, as well as my fake FitBit watch, which makes me so encouraged when I see how far I have walked in a day.  It makes me want to walk MORE.

Yesterday I hit 10,000 steps for the first time and I was really proud.  That has been my daily goal all along and I only just achieved it yesterday.  10,000 steps is about 4 1/2 miles.  So YAY.  My watch started buzzing while I was in Target and I saw the numbers.  It’s the little things that get me excited, people!  Then after buying three kinds of sunscreen (face, body, and spray for my scalp) I went and got my first pedicure of the season and MY GOD DID IT FEEL GOOD!!!!

I am trying to conserve money but dang it once in awhile you just have to splurge.  This job I have only goes until the end of June but I prayyyyyy that they extend the contract.  BUT I have already gotten them caught up on so much of their work, I’m worried I’m going to work myself out of a job!  I’m just that good!!  I don’t mean to sound stuck on myself but I am a very hard worker and super-efficient.

My mood has been steady and good, it’s easy to be grateful and happy when my weight is down and the weather is beautiful and the days are long.  The only thing that threatens me is the thought of the job ending and moving out of my apartment at the end of June.  I probably will have to move in with my parents and that is a depressing thought.  I really hope that something comes through job-wise so that doesn’t happen.  I need to get to searching even harder than I am, which is not very hard.

Today I’m going to a huge party for my oldest sister’s retirement.  She is only 54 but she has retired from being a teacher.  I am quite envious, as I have no retirement savings whatsoever and no hope of retiring, ever.  I don’t know what in the actual fuck I’m going to do as I get older.  It’s a scary thought.  I have not been the most responsible person with money obviously and there’s no Bipolar Retirement Association that I know of.

Well people I hope you are all well.  WELCOME to all my new followers, thank you for following me!!!  Take care everybody and let me know how you are in the Comments!!  Hugs and kisses, BPOF!

Antidepressants for ALL!

People are so easy to share (with me, because my superpower is communication) that they were (KEYWORD!) on antidepressants but the got off of them.

I don’t know if I should complain that you told me and then quickly told me that you got off them OR be happy that you told me you were on antidepressants..

This all coming after I confessed that I’m feeling really depressed and that’s probably why I lost 30 pounds..

Does and has everyone taken antidepressants? And if so WHY ISN’T mental illnesses widely talked about and understand…ed?!

I’m not on antidepressants.

I should be.

I’m not on anything..(well)..but who am I to judge her anyway? Mental illness, whatever face and shape it takes, is real.

Maybe I’m just jealous she got OFF them when some people can never stop taking them, or can’t get them in he first place. ✌🏿

Toss. Turn. Sleep. Wake. Toss. Turn. Sleep. Wake. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

My first kid free weekend in who knows how long. After a tumultuous year of unexpected change after change, a crippling months long depression, and overloaded anxiety circuits…I should be fast asleep at 4:19 a.m. Instead, I am sitting up watching Major Crimes, drowning in sinus drainage, thoroghly disgusted by just how extreme my disrupted sleep pattern has become.

I fell asleep sometime before 11 p.m….And I woke at 12:30, then 1:30, and again a little after 2 a.m. So I got up for a bit, turned on some news thing on PBS about foreign news stories and I moved to lay at the foot of the bed. More toss and turn, more racing mind and thudding heart in spite of a second 6 mg dose of melatonin, so in went more Xanax. And I nodded off.

Only to wake at ten til 4, wide awake, misrable in my drainage, and said, oh screw this.

I’ve always had sleep disorders-insomnia, somnolence, trouble falling asleep, oversleeping, not sleeping enough…But this disrupted cycle since my child was born 9 years ago…it’s insane. It’s exhausting. And everything I am hearing and reading says that this lack of rejuvenating rest could be making my depression and anxiety worse. Oddly, it’s the aspect of my disorders the professionals seem least concerned with. Probably because I refuse to take their old school sleeping pills like Trazadone because hey, I have a kid and need to be alert, not bombed out, and I can’t sleep 12 hours a day and spent two hours shaking off the damn headache hangover those sleeping pills give me.

So I try the ‘lights out, calming sounds only’method. Counting backwards, visualizing the STOP signing, deep breathing, relaxation techniques, no food or caffeinated drinks after 7 p.m. take my Xanax to calm my brain an hour before my melatonin…I am getting more exercise, more fresh air, more sunlight. I AM DOING EVERYTHING TO HELP MYSELF EXCEPT TAKING THEIR DAMN COMA PILLS and nothing helps, nothing works.

I tried the hypnotic sleep med route back when I had a decent doc who gave me samples. I’d wake up on the bathroom floor with no memory of walking there so thankfully, insurance wouldn’t pay for that crap and the samples ran out.

I tried their weak ass Vistaril and Restoril hoping if nothing else it’d help with my plethora of allergies and rioting histamines. Both took forever to kick in and didn’t keep me asleep but did give me headaches.

I’ve had a golden day or two this week. The days where nothing great happens but my mind feels steadier and even when something sucky does happen, my steady mind is able to cope with a modicum of lucidity and dignity. Golden days.

The nights, though, the start and stop sleep, over and over and over…Is is any wonder I am always on edge, always tired, never feel revived enough to leap out of bed, happy to face the day?

If you told someone your phone only charges to 40% and goes dead after a couple hours of use, they’d say buy a new battery so it’d charge fully and work better.

But if you’re a lowly person who can never recharge properly to work optimally…meh, no biggie. Your fault for not wanting to take pills that make you bombed out and hungover.

And by the way, even with those coma drugs and sleeping 12 hours a day, I was still always tired because even taking them for years, that morning hangover never would lessen or go away. That’s no way to live any more than this sleep/wake cycle.

I am frustrated. I should be elated, I have another entire day and night knowing my kid is safe and having fun with her grandma and aunt. My time. I was going to do this and that around the house, and hey, if I can’t sleep, I can day nap without a kid to watch. Except dad and stepmonster are going out of town and my brother is staying home to babysit their neighor’s dog…and dad and stepmonster, assholes they are, said, “Your brother is going to be home alone with (husky pup) so he’s probably going to bring him over to your house so you can help out.”

My brother turns 23 in July. How hard is it to go without mommy and daddy for 3 or 4 hours and take care of a damned puppy? Infringing on me quiet time without regard to my feelings is one more reason I have so much resentment for them. They give zero fucks about what I might have planned. Or even I have no plans, hey, I’d like ONE bloody day without another living soul aside from my cats in my proximity.

But hey, I’m 45, paying to live here without their help, and apparently, I’m still a child whom they can inform has to hang around to help her little brother. With a dog. And hey, that dog is awesome, but 15 days in a row those people have been in my face…enough is fucking enough. I say so, they laugh, snort, and ignore me. Were I a wealthy sociopath, I’d hire someone to kneecap them just so they couldn’t get around as easily and bug the fuck out of me.

I am disappointed in myself sometimes for not being a sociopath. Those are some of the happiest most successful people on the planet. Damn having a soul and conscience all to hell.

That concludes my early morning rant. MAYBE if I were ever able to sleep for more than 3 solid hours I wouldn’t be so rant-y. Don’t think I’m ever gonna be able to mythbust that one since it’s more likely I’ll win Publisher’s Clearing House money than get 6 solid hours sleep in my lifetime.

Oh geez, is that a rant?

I have tried to write a freakin blog post for about two days and I haven’t been able to.

I don’t want to keep writing about how much this sucks and I don’t want to start something and stop again. Mental illness is such a hard topic to blog about because when you are smack dab in the middle of it yourself, it gets lost.

I brought back my site address www.bipolarunemployedlost.com because I know people suffering in the now are still finding this site. Whether if it started about me, things have changed.

I again, I feel like shit. My mind is running. I got too much energy and give it away too quickly, leaving me with nothing. I feel hard and emotionless.

im everywhere but nothing is moving

The Perception Misconception

I’ve long said there’s very little truth, only personal perception. The problem with personal perception is, often, there is no malicious intent. We are all human, prone to bias based on our own experiences, so often our truth is very different from what is scientific fact, or fact proven with evidence. Now this could launch me into a political tirade but instead…

If I say, “I remember you doing this, and I said that…” Well, that is my personal memory and perception of the matter.

You can say, “No, you took it out of context, you didn’t hear me correctly…” And that would be your truth, your perception.

But if a video camera captured that same exchange and showed either you, I, or both were wrong and it unfolded differently…that’s fact. That’s proveable truth, not fallible human perception.

So short of every moment of your existence being video taped, there are going to be many, many times when perception on either side of the fence is simply wrong or a misunderstanding or breakdown in communication. And it’s okay because, hey, only human, we make mistakes, blah blah blah.

The ONE time when I do, however, find different perceptions to be very dangerous is when you have a legitimately diagnosed mental disorder, but those around you don’t mere debunk it but flat out refuse to believe it could possibly be for real. This is when perceptions can become harbingers of doom.

My family, AKA THE ORIGINAL harbingers of doom, perpetually doubt, question, dismiss, debunk, scoff- any negative reaction to mental illness one can have, my entire family practices. No matter the long mental disorder history on both sides, or the fact that my mom, me, my sister, my brother, my great grandmother-all spent time in treatment or in a psych hospital for the disorders-changes perception. Hell, even my mom and sister declared themselves cured and only weak people need medication, I need to get over myself.

Battling this daily- perception ceases to be benign and becomes a malignancy. Frankly, it beats the hell out of your self esteem because these are the very people who are supposed to love and accept you, as you are, no matter what and yet they make you feel as rejected and dejected as the masses. It takes a strong psyche to face this daily battle and not lose your mind or be overwhelmed with self doubt and self hatred.

It may hurt a little less but facing the same sort of invalidation from friends and romantic partners never gets easier. You warn them, this is my condition(s), this is how it can get bad, they swear they are strong enough and care enough to weather it out…then time after time, abandon ship because they had no idea you were so difficult.

Much as the rejection stings, I can’t help but laugh derisively. Wussies. They get to walk away cos it’s too tough. I don’t get that luxury. Furthermore, I basically slap myself with a ‘toxic’ skull and crossbones as well as a ‘biohazard’ label as warnings and still..the cockroaches scurry off. Oh, wait. That’s MY PERCEPTION, not fact. They’re not really bugs and they have every right to flee and not be dragged down by whatever shit I have going on. But I perceive their abandonment less as them trying to spare themselves and more as persecuting me for that which isn’t in my control. And they perceive my disorders as some sort of personal affront on them, as if they bring out the worst in me or I hate them so I’m moody or high strung. (Again, when greeted with a skull and crossbones and biohazard symbol, take a beat and THINK.)

And there’s the rub. Perception deception.

While everyone perceives me as negative and pessimistic, I truly do tend to view most negative views towards those with mental diagnoses as simple ignorance, rather than something evil or personal. People get scared of what they don’t know or understand and they lash out or tense up. Ignorance, however, can be resolved with some information and communication. I’d like to think *most* are willing to be educated and learn more facts before a final judgment. But the bottom line is, there will always be those who simply will never come around. And while they may judge me as crazy, I feel pity for them. Some are born not very bright and due to educational lacking or some sort of impairment, they can’t really become the next Einstein.

Ignorance, however- that is a choice. And if you are presented with facts and personal experiences and still choose to be ignorant and hold ignorant views…you are to be pitied. Nothing sadder than choosing to be dumb when the information is right in front of you.

But, hey, again…perception deception. Maybe the masses that are asses (gotta love L7 for that title) have it right and my perception is all wrong.

Maybe pegacorns are real, politicians aren’t corrupt, and body odor smells pleasant.

Not fucking likely.

But I am humble enough to entertain the merest possibility that my perception could be wrong. If so…

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE MAKE PEGACORNS BE REAL.

Gas is up to $3.15 a gallon and I can’t handle being in Armpit, I need transportation. 😉

Slow Day

My children are all going to be gone today so I have the day to myself.  Not sure what I’m going to do with it.  I got all the laundry done and actually put up so that is improvement.  I kind of want to meet someone for lunch but don’t know who I could get on short notice like this.  I need to go get some meds refilled and will do that and pick up groceries this morning so I do have things to do.

WE’re trying to see Infinity War finally and are running smack into screenings for Solo: A Star Wars Movie.  So that has been interesting trying to schedule a time.  Too many blockbusters at one time.

I wonder what it is that is keeping me from feeling better than I am.  I don’t think I’m sliding back down into depression, but I just don’t feel right.  Almost makes me wish for just a little hypomania.  But I know where that cycle leads so I don’t really want that.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.