Daily Archives: December 9, 2014

Holidays and Dementia

Quoted from the Alzheimer’s Association (ALZ.org)Holidays and Alzheimer’s Families | Caregiver Center | Alzheimer’s Association.

24/7 Alzheimer’s Association Helpline: 800.272.3900

The holidays are a time when family and friends often come together. But for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging. Take a deep breath. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions.

Familiarize others with the situation

The holidays are full of emotions, so it can help to let guests know what to expect before they arrive.

If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him- or herself.  Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts.

If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited.  These changes can be hard to accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person.

You may find this easier to share changes in a letter or email that can be sent to multiple recipients. Here are some examples:

  • “I’m writing to let you know how things are going at our house. While we’re looking forward to your visit, we thought it might be helpful if you understood our current situation before you arrive.
  • “You may notice that ___ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among the changes you may notice are ___.
  • “Because ___ sometimes has problems remembering and thinking clearly, his/her behavior is a little unpredictable.
  • “Please understand that ___ may not remember who you are and may confuse you with someone else. Please don’t feel offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and so do I.”

For more ideas on how to let others know about changes in your loved one, join ALZConnected, the Alzheimer’s Association’s online support community where caregivers like you share tips on what has worked for them.

Adjust expectations

From ALZ.org Blog

The Gift of Perspective
The stress of caregiving layered with holiday traditions can take a toll … read more.

  • Call a meeting to discuss upcoming plans.
    The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Invite family and friends to a face-to-face meeting, or if geography is an obstacle, set up a telephone conference call. Make sure everyone understands your caregiving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can do. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine.
  • Be good to yourself.
    Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. If you’ve always invited 15 to 20 people to your home, consider paring it down to a few guests for a simple meal. Let others contribute. Have a potluck dinner or ask them to host at their home. You also may want to consider breaking large gatherings up into smaller visits of two or three people at a time to keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Do a variation on a theme.
    If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch. If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.

Involve the person with dementia

  • Build on past traditions and memories.
    Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums.
  • Involve the person in holiday preparation.
    As the person’s abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up. (Be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.)
  • Maintain a normal routine.
    Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming disruptive or confusing. Plan time for breaks and rest.
Sign up for the Alzheimer’s Association’s weekly e-newsletter
Be prepared for the changes Alzheimer’s brings. Sign up for the Alzheimer Association’s e-newsletter and receive tips to help you cope with these changes. Subscribe now.

Adapt gift giving

Reduce post-holiday stress.

Arrange for respite care so you can enjoy a movie or lunch with a friend.

  • Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with dementia.
    Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Ideas include: an identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®), comfortable clothing, audiotapes of favorite music, videos and photo albums.
  • Put respite care on your wish list.
    If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as you care for your loved one. This could be a cleaning or household chore service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation.

When the person lives in a care facility

A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together:

  • Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring a favorite holiday food to share
  • Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in
  • Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud

The Alzheimer’s Association Can Help

Do you have questions or concerns about your loved one’s changing behavior? The Alzheimer’s Association is here to help.

Read more: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-holidays.asp

Filed under: Dementia, Family, Mental Health Tagged: ALZ.org, Alzheimer's Association, Alzheirmer's Disease, Dementia, holidays

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act


Received this call to action from NAMI yesterday:

Help Support Suicide Prevention for Our Military and Veteran Heroes

“This is an opportunity for the NAMI community to make a difference for the 22 veterans who die by suicide every single day,” Daniel Williams, Chair, NAMI Veterans and Military Council.

Please contact your United States Senators and Representative and urge them to support the passage of The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (H.R. 5059)! Lawmakers will vote on this bill this week and we owe it to our military and veteran heroes to ensure that it passes.

What is Included in the Bill?

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, or simply the “Clay Hunt SAV Act” will:

  • Increase access to mental health care.
  • Boost capacity to meet mental health care demand.
  • Improve the quality of care for troops and veterans.
  • Provide seamless care from the Department of Defense to VA.
  • Develop community support for veterans nationwide.

What Can You Do To Help?

The Clay Hunt SAV Act has strong bipartisan support, but we need you to contact Congress TODAY to ensure that our military and veterans receive the support they deserve.

Take Action

Filed under: Depression, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, NAMI Tagged: Clay Hunt, NAMI Veterans, suicide prevention, The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

Psychiatry Pstuff

Oh boy.

No sleep last night, beach before 5am, flight of ideas, word salad, jaw working like I’m coming off E … I am now in the waiting room, far too early to see my psychiatrist. That’s ok though, THREE roadwork/traffic delays on the main road between home and here. We call them stop-goes. So enigmatic *rolls eyeballs* I am sweating horribly, so much for the shower before I left and the ice (rooibos) tea I just glugged.

Yes, I am hypofuckingmanic. If anyone needs anything foolhardy, impulsive, risky and stupid done, dial 0800 BLAH POLAR. You’re all manic depressives too, so no point me begging for donations to finance wild shopping sprees – you’ve spent it all on sprees of your own. You bastards.

I can hear my psychiatrist laughing from here. She laughs easily – I imagine she would be easy to develop transference issues over. It’s funny I’ve never had any for anyone.

Oh, I took this photo for Alex today:


A Coke Zero for a wingman. Or from one. Diet sodas are shit though, sorry)

I’ve noticed that when I get manic or mixed features, there’s another constant. If I stop and listen to my inner voice, it just screams hoarsely. It’s not usually intrusive. Intrusive thoughts, however, also happen along with it. I spend a tiring amount of time deploying my CBT anti-flashback strategy (unleashing imaginary firestorms, explosions etc).

The receptionists (there are three) are gossiping kindly about a patient who just phoned. Shame it’s terrible to be in that predicament hey Wendz? I want to say who what but of course I won’t. I was a receptionist in a psych hospital once btw. Long ago and far away.

*fast forward sound effect*

It was a very good session.

The updowngrading of my diagnosis got some more modifiers (who said Santa .Claus ain’t real?!):

Rapid cycling:
Patients who experience at least four episodes during a 12-month period are classified as “rapid cycling”

Continuous cycling:
Patients with bipolar disorder who switch directly between mania and depression without a period of euthymia

So … right now I am manic. It feels horrible, but not as horrible as a mixed episode, anhedonia, psychosis … blah blah blahhh.

I got sleeping pills o/ (Zopivane/Zopiclone).

She suspects that bipolar arrived in my life in early childhood. She told me about a 4 year old who tried to commit suicide being diagnosed with bipolar. She told me someone got diagnosed with it at age 95. I’m afraid I laughed, imagining a suicidal 95 year old. *shakes head at self* I told her about Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me; my copy arrived today. She told me that her father and sister are bipolar.

We talked about psychosis quite a bit. Apparently deaf people can have auditory hallucinations, because they are from the brain, not the ear. She said she thought I’d be fascinated by phenotypes, endophenotypes, culture-bound disorders and work by a guy who wants bipolar to have more subcategories/types than it does now. But I lost the bit of paper she wrote the name on. She said if I can’t access any papers I want, she will either get them for me herself or ask a big pharma rep to.

She said stay put, don’t leave the country, do not cut out carbs from your diet.

I just found the piece of paper, it was folded and then rolled up and very much the worse for wear. The name is Hagop S. Akiskal, MD. and the right term for what I was waffling on about earlier is bipolar subtyping.

I’ll shut up now.


Cool Calm and Collected Is NOT in My Skillset

Yeah it was one of those moments where the panic took over and it wasn’t until after the fact I realized…I’d gone bitch beast on the phone with a woman whose only crime is having a client who is too stupid to understand certain things.
I feel ashamed, embarrassed, and stupid.
I handled it poorly and I am going to apologize when she calls me back.
I admit, I am ignorant on some things. Not by choice but because no one has ever taken time to explain things to me in a way that could qualify for one of those “For Dummies” books. Especially, when it comes to stuff like insurance. Health, car, all of it. I don’t get it at all. I get being told by the government at gun point I have to have it even if it means starving. I just don’t get what is required and why my credit score means fuck all as long as I have the cash.
So if I was going to be canceled even though I was carrying 0 coverage and yes, when I got the paper notices, I called the agent and not once did she tell me I had to pay to keep it active.
Now I gotta worry about coming up with the money to restart a policy when I transfer this other car and of course, that month or so without active insurance will probably put on on America’s Most Wanted.
I just don’t get all of this shit, it’s like my brain isn’t wired to comprehend.

Woo hoo, been awhile since I had a good panic attack and acted like a complete dumb bunny.
Maybe that’s the price of sucking it up time after time. It all has to go somewhere and it just boils over on something that really isn’t that big of a deal so I feel dumb and embarrassed.
I do rock the sucking thing.
Has a word of this made sense? Probably not. It’s my thing. Being incoherent and coherent at random intervals.
Random. There’s a good word to describe me.

Like yesterday I was watching these crime documentaries and they were graphic with the blood and gore…But it was the writhing maggots with their little icky suction cup mouths that made me cringe and look away.
Fucked up.
As much as I sometimes loathe my own dysfunction…It is genuine and I think it’s a little bit charming.
Unfortunately, I’ve yet to meet anyone who agrees with me.

Panic has lead to mania.
And I don’t know why I am freaking out this much over something stupid like car insurance because I will eventually figure it out and all will be ok.
I am random that way.
Panic disorder doesn’t seem to care if it’s logical or not.
I’m such a hot mess. I can’t ever seem to get my shit together and keep it together.
Guess I am just one of those flaky disorganized personalities.

This day sucks already.
Most of them do. I just make the best of what I’ve got.
Life hands me a lemon and I keep making a margarita.

No one seems to focus on my tenacity, though. They want to paint me as this whiner but I vent and I keep getting knocked down and I get back up, dust myself off, and rinse lather repeat.
That’s what should count.
FTW and FML.

At least I have True Blood.
That show rocks.
But it’s about vampires…so technically, it would suck.
Hmmm.I get confused.
Oh, look, something shiny…

The Truth Comes Out

I cut the phone off, elated that I had spoken to him.  Little did I know what I had kicked off.

The next day, I was at the pool with my kids and turned on my cell phone to a text from him.  He was asking me to call him back and wanted to know who I was and what I had meant by calling him.  I was truly excited now at the prospect of speaking to him again.  So I called the number he left.  He answered with “Who is this?”

I said, “Who is this?  What do you mean, who is this?”

A long silence.  Then he told me gently that he wanted my word that I would lose his number and not call him again.  I didn’t feel like promising any such thing, so I didn’t answer him.  Finally he said he didn’t want to change his number but he would if he had to.

I said I knew I shouldn’t have called.  “Then why did you?” he asked.

“Because sometimes I’m not very bright,” I said.

“You’ve got that right,” he said.  Then he hung up.

My heart sank.  The contempt in his voice had been obvious.  I cursed myself for calling him back.  But I went on with my day.

Until Bob came home.  I was in our bedroom.  He came back to where I was and closed the door.  He sat down in one of our chairs and said. “I need to know what you said to (him) when you called because whatever it was, you scared him to death.”

Coming Out of the Bipolar Closet

My immediate family is aware of my bipolar diagnosis, I mean, how could they not know? They’ve lived with me and all my explosive outbursts, my teary depression, my ambitious hypomania. But my entire family is not aware. It’s not that I fear rejection, mostly it stems from not really seeing them as much, so I don’t feel as close to them as I’d like. But on Saturday, I went ahead and started a conversation with my beautiful and talented cousin, who lives in another state. She had been writing a blog and stopped because she wasn’t really getting the response she hoped for. I told her she should keep going, to push a little more and then came clean about writing this blog, and about having bipolar, as well.

She handled it as amazingly as I knew she would. She is much younger than me, but she carries herself with such grace and integrity, you would think she was much older. We had a good conversation about bipolar, about writing and about living life the way you want to, without worrying what other people think. I was flattered when she told me she thought I was strong and brave for battling bipolar. But later on, after we had both said our goodbyes, I wondered if I really was brave. I often feel like a cop out for writing anonymously, when there are so many other amazing bipolar writers who are open about their identity. I don’t know that I’ll be revealing my “real” identity anytime soon, but it sure felt good to have that conversation with my cousin. It’s made me think about “coming out” to my entire family, which I think may happen sooner than I ever thought it would.

Revealing my bipolar disorder to my cousin was incredibly freeing and it’s so great that conversations about mental health don’t have to be shameful or forced. I feel reignited as far as advocacy goes, as well.

Readers, have you had good or bad experiences when revealing your diagnosis? Please share your story in the comments!

Filed under: Blog Stuff, Wellness Warriors Tagged: advocacy, bipolar disorder, blogging, brave, family, love, Mental Health

Shot Through the Heart

…..and I’m to blame. Well, maybe not totally, but today our landlords said that Will and I need to be out of this house in 10 days. Right before Christmas. With no place to go, or even any prospect of a place to go.

Otherwise, they’re going to take us to court, and while that would definitely buy us some time, we can’t really afford to live here even without paying rent, so we’re going to end up in the same soup no matter what we do. Look, I get it: we are seriously in arrears, and they’ve got the right to move in people who’ll pay the rent they’re asking. We have some money coming, thanks to my friend in Maine along with some very generous people, so we can get a storage unit and rent a moving truck. There are also a couple of options if we need to give up the dog…..but I can’t help seeing the irony in the fact that we’re able to find the pets new homes, and yet no one will take us.

This is, of course, not helping my mood at all. It could have something to do with having missed my antidepressants for two days—I just discovered them stuck to the bottom of the pill compartments for Saturday and Sunday—but I don’t like the direction things are heading and I’m not sure what to do to make it better. It’s situational, which means it’s not amenable to med changes; but as recent events have proven, even situational depression can turn into ‘real’ depression. And yes, I’ve had some ugly thoughts today.

But I also realize that thoughts aren’t actions, and I don’t have to follow that rabbit down the hole again. My brain just can’t be allowed to shit the bed whenever it wants. There’s too much to do, too much to go through, too many concepts to absorb (like how we went from the best Christmas ever to a lightless, hopeless, joyless Christmas in the space of twelve short months). I keep trying to remember that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were homeless during the holidays too…..but for some reason it doesn’t comfort me as much as it should.

Maybe that’s because all of this misery can be laid right at my feet. After all, I’m the one who can’t cope with working and living like everyone else. I’m the one who’s dragging my sick husband through the mess I’ve made of things. It really doesn’t matter that I have an illness and it’s not my fault; it still feels like it, and I can’t escape the knowledge that if I hadn’t lost my job back in the spring of 2013, none of this might have happened. That was truly the turning point in my life, and it ruined me. I tried to get back to normal—whatever that is—and when I got the State job, I thought I’d made it.

To state the obvious, I didn’t. If I could have hung on, I’d probably be even crazier than I am now, but by God there’d be warmth and twinkle-lights and Christmas gifts and a roof over our heads this holiday season. As it is, we have no choice but to let our landlords take us to court, which is a shame because we’ve always gotten along well and I don’t want to be one of those rotten tenants who refuses to leave until the very last minute. (I’ve managed property before, and I always hated dealing with that kind.)

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer today. I’ll try to do better tomorrow. And if I can find a single good thing to say about all of this, you’ll be the first to hear.







I Want Beef

it’s crazy, I’m constantly starving and all I want is beef. I am not sure what is up with it. I don’t want steaks or stew meat just ground meat, burgers.. I dunno whats going on, I usually get cravings like this for sugary stuff or even carbs not meat though.

Gonna just go with the flow though.

I got to talk with my BFF tonight and it felt good. I’ve missed just chatting with her. It hurts that I can’t help with her pain but I’m so glad she is in my life. I can’t believe I acted like such a shit out of fear. I love her.

My mood has been mostly bored and hungry today, so I’m gonna go cook up some meat and see if it takes care of the craving, I’ll keep trying til it stops.

Sociopathic Society

I just keep navigating my way through it all. Unlike last night, my mood is more even, less doomsday-y. I’m neither bouncing off walls nor wishing for trains to hit me. Even keel, even if subdued, is good enough for me.

I started reading a thread on Reddit today under the Two X Chromosome subreddit. It was about a woman who had a baby with a self admitted sociopath. He has been honest with her from the get go that this is who and what he is and he is in therapy but it will never change. He told her he has no emotion for her or their child. They are to taken care of like every chore in his like, and utilized at will if it meets his needs to further himself.
Kudos for him being self aware and honest.
And kudos to her if she can handle a person who can’t love their own child. I couldn’t do it. In fact, I can’t do it. (And I wouldn’t want my child to have to go through it, either.)
I am surrounded by people who are for all intents and purposes, sociopaths. Narcissism, selective conscience, a desire only to further their own cause and use others as pawns in whatever way will benefit them.
It’s just varying degrees of sociopathy.
And most don’t have the slightest clue their behavior is sociopathic.
Because your average Joe doesn’t have a fucking clue about mental illness or personality disorders and they don’t want to know. Denial and transference of blame suits them.

So a few Redditors who are diagnosed sociopaths chimed in with comments and while I empathize with not being able to change what you are…I simply cannot reconcile myself ever being okay with a full blow or half blown sociopath. Not because I reject them based on their disorder but because I am so emotional and I feel so deeply…I can’t abide a robotic human who views people as chess pieces to be moved around a board strategically for their own purposes. Conscience and empathy are too important traits to me to just shrug it off.
And I feel kind of like an asshole for saying so because I know the rejection of having a disorder and being shunned for it.
I am just finally having all these epiphanies of why so much in my life does not work and I end up feeling hurt and used and empty and wronged.
I am a quid pro quo person.
I expect to receive in my relationships what I give.
But sociopaths mimic emotion to manipulate and fit into society so nothing you get from them will be more than logic, necessity, and survival. And their survival will always come first at the detriment of others and they are incapable of viewing this as bad or feeling bad.
So here I’ve been my whole life, brimming with emotions that run so deep, expecting the same from others…Who convince me I am unstable, weak, wrong, demanding, unfair, annoying, parasitic…
But it’s not me at all.
It really truly is them. And my reaction to them. I am trying to extract from them what they don’t have as much as they try to do the same to me by dictating my moods must be stable and I cannot cry or express my honest feelings.
It’s an impasse.

Face it. We are all, to some extent, sociopathic. Social conditioning, parental guidance, it all helps us become better, to learn boundaries and kindness.
Otherwise, we are newborn babies whose only expectations are to have our immediate needs met without receiving a thing in return.
The difference between having a socipathic trait or two and being a full blown sociopath seems to be that true sociopaths are born, not created.
The research I’ve done, reading not what textbooks and studies say, but what diagnosed sociopaths say about themselves…
They are incapable of emotion.
Some people who are traumatized by life events may convince themselves they are without emotion.
The sociopathic mind truly is.
Call it a glitch in the programming. 404, no emotion found.

Most sociopathic personalities are able to mimic emotion, feign smiles and niceties. They are often popular with others, and they can be charming, intelligent, seem warm and humorous.
It’s a facade.
They are doing what is expected to fit into society.
All well and good, but without conscience or emotion, they won’t blink to throw you under the bus the instant you’re not in their best interests.
THAT is what bothers me most.
Even at my worst “I have skewed morality, what’s in it for me, fuck you” moments…There is not a moment where I lack a conscience completely nor is there a moment where I can’t even work up a sliver of emotion for those who have horribly wronged me.
That’s who I am.

Now that I know the mind processes of sociopaths…I feel better equipped to deal with the examples that abound around me.
I can’t expect from them what they don’t have.
But it’s not my fault any more than it’s their fault I have my disorders.
Difference is, I know something is wrong with me (lots of somethings) and I don’t hesitate to admit it and try to fix it, even if feebly and with much failure.
A sociopath will never reciprocate.
Which means trying to have anything more than a shallow acquaintanceship with a sociopath is in my best interests.

I cannot be Mr. Spock.
I cannot deal with those who are like Vulcans.
Except I am fairly sure Spock never threw his captain under the Enterprise to get a raise or whatever.

I can breathe, finally, because some people had the guts to post their thoughts about their own disorders and teach me that which I didn’t really understand.
It doesn’t make them bad. Sociopathy isn’t black and white. It doesn’t always mean evil or violent.

I just know that me being who I am, I will never be able to accept someone without emotions, certainly for their own flesh and blood.
Being loved, being told you are loved, and feeling loved…
That means more than a parent who showers you in gifts, takes you to activities, yet the whole time it’s obligation rather than desire.

Kids are smart. They know these things.

So next time Spook informs me, “I want you to go to the husband store and get me a new dad…”
I WON’T be visiting the “socially acceptable but sociopathic” aisle.