Daily Archives: April 21, 2015


Made it home from the hospital today. Was a stressful but useful stay as they overhauled all of my meds. I have lots to blog about, and am supposed to journal as part of my recovery. Good news! Blogs count as a journal. Will get on my feet and  be back soon. Thanks for all the good wishes. They meant a lot.

Talk to you guys soon.


Effing Imbalanced Brain Chemicals

Ever had someone tell you, a friend no less, that you are essentially useless?
Seems my numeric dyslexia, short term memory issues, and my poor eyesight and shaky hands make me too clumsy to even hold a flashlight properly. YES.
I cannot even hold a flashlight.
And I apparently do it so poorly, even someone who likes me feels compelled to tell me how incompetent I am.

I read an article about this mom with a Downe’s Syndrome and the headline was: THE ONLY DISABILITY IS A BAD ATTITUDE.

Absofuckinlutely. My shaky hands, memory problems, it’s all just a bad attitude. Thanksomuch, I am cured.

I mean, I get the idea of not limiting a child by society’s mandates of “normalcy”, but at the same time…It does a disservice to people who are plagued with problems that interfere with their ability to manage basic functionality. It’s not like the world makes accommodations for mentally ill people. So we are expected to “overcome” our illness without any concessions made to how had we struggle, the side effects of the medications, the fact that when your brain is off kilter, everything is off kilter with it.
I sleep in ninety minute spurts. Half the time I take meds I am starving yet the thought of food makes me nauseous which is double redundant because taking the meds on an empty stomach already made me nauseous. My entire day depends on whether my brain is telling me truth or lies or not telling me anything but the negative. I have no social life because of my illnesses.
How much more can an illness fuck you up before it’s considered legitimate?
No one wants an employee to show up for work drunk.
Yet when you’re mentally ill, that’s what it is akin to. Do you have the ability to make good choices? Of course. But choices are made based on information and when your brain is saying, “Oh, I’m manic, let’s get wasted and order a ton of shit on line, fuck the bills, I’m gonna live forfuckingever!” or…Is your brain telling you, “You are useless. You should kill yourself. Nothing will ever get better. Your kid would be better off without you.”
You cannot “positive think” yourself past these mental frames. If we could, NONE of us would take the plethora of pills with the ass trash side effects. Frankly, I could die happy without seeing a shrink or taking another pill ever again.
And in a way, we are caught in an epic catch 22.
There’s a faction against medication, calling it a lazy solution, altering who you really are,etc.
Then there’s the other faction who encounters us when the meds aren’t quite keeping the mood demons in check and tell us we need help.
What the actual fuck.

I just know it’s defeating to the soul to do your best and still be told you don’t make the grade. If that’s how friends view me, what chance do I have in the real world with people who only see me as far as I can be useful and productive? Not like they offer mental health sick days. “I’m feeling homicidal rage today, might be a good idea if I stayed home so no one, ya know, gets their head stuck in a garbage disposal.”
Of course, that leads to being questioned as to our fitness as parents, as pet owners, as independent adults. I mean, if you’re that tenuous, obviously you’re a danger and unstable.
It’s not *that* kind of instability.
But it very much is a daily thing we cannot predict and we cannot simply pop a pill like an aspirin and it’s gone away by the time we face the saltmill.
I digress.

So…I had a panic attack first thing after my second trip into the dish. This big ass tree trimmer truck was blocking the street and left me barely enough room to fit a fucking Yugo, let alone an old Chevy Caprice. I did not take a breath as I navigated through that, horrible visions of me gauging distance off by an eighth of an inch, resulting in the car peeling back like a sardine can.
Then I went to keep my friend’s spirits up and got my head bitten off a couple of times for doing just that with levity. Then I was told what an utter fuck up I am at everything and of course, it must just be lack of desire, I must just be lazy.
To take enough Xanax to stop my trembling hands would require me to sleep for a few hours. So my hands shake. My brain gets numbers screwed up. I don’t remember what I am told five seconds later. I can’t see tiny things.
I’m still a human being. I don’t deserve to be reduced to less than that just because my functionality is…hindered.

Yeah, sometimes, that’s the only thing I know to say. I still don’t get why it’s such an offensive word. From a practical standpoint, “fuck” is the swiss army knife of the english language. Noun, verb, adjective…Fuck, what more could I fucking need?

I’m back in my bubble now, ruminating over my epic fail of existence in the dish of petri. I tried so hard. I kept my mind in a positive place (ish), tried to use humor, keep my anxiety under wraps..
And it still wasn’t good enough.

The only saving grace is that I have never allowed myself to solely exist based on the validation of others. I’d have committed suicide before age ten if I’d counted on those around me to make me feel like my identity is worthwhile.
I have flaws but sometimes…I like who I am. Not in a conceited “I wanna hump my own leg” way. (I’m soo not attracted to myself.) I just don’t see what’s so fatal about my quirks. OMG, she has posters on her walls still? That’s so immature!
My mom’s pushing seventy and her room is an Elvis shrine.
Guess she is immature too.
OMG, Niki thinks coffins and skulls are cool, what a freak.
Um…Yeah, fuck off. I’ve been dark since I was six and reading Fangoria. Except I don’t view it as being dark, it’s just stuff that I find interesting and it makes me giddy instead of sad.

I think the biggest fuck up ever done by the DSM is to make every quirk some sort of personality disorder to the extent none of us are allowed a personality unless it comes from the socially acceptable template.(Meaning less than zero personality.) I gave up on the whole book when I read that they wanted to include “introversion” as a disorder. Seriously? Yet extroversion is okay?

So yeah. That’s two long rambling pointless posts today and the day is young.
Don’t judge me.

Now…everyone go watch some clown porn. I hear it boosts the mood. I won’t be joining, however, because I think clowns are creepy and would rather let slugs crawl over my bare feet than look at a clown.
And I fucking hate slugs.
Clown porn for all!

I think I’ll just go check out some Alienware laptops. That’s my idea of porn, sad as it sounds.
Sadder still is I will never have the money to own one.
Kinda akin to men looking at Playboy. They love looking but they know they’re unlikely to ever land a playmate.
Alienware….Porn for nerds.

(New disorder coming to a DSM near you.)


flickr 2

When we are in one of our phases, we people with bipolar d/o, we do lose control of our minds. The degree to which we lose control is dependent upon the severity of the phase as well as the type of phase (manic or depressive.) Losing control is something I intensely fear. Losing control of my mind, losing control of my life (having to be hospitalized) losing control of my thoughts, my actions… I am a robot controlled by my illness when I’m in a severe mood phase. The real me disappears from hours to days. I can say things (F words, hateful, angry things) and do things (throw something at someone, go on a trip out of the blue) and I can definitely think things that may or may not have any basis in reality. Quite frightening. It may be a result of this that I need to be in control of things in my life. If something is out of my control, it causes me untold anxiety. However, I am also realizing that I cannot control everything. I cannot control situations. I cannot control people. They, like myself, come with their own specific set of issues and their own specific ways of reacting to things. I am also realizing that I need to respect that and not constantly demand that others be at my beck and call all the time (well I really don’t, but you know what I mean.) I have to let go of the strong urge to be in control and let things be. I have to let go of the fear of not being in control. And that fear is huge, the anxiety, sometimes, overwhelming! The more the fear and anxiety get ahold of me, the more controlling I become, and the more fearful and anxious my mind gets. It’s a vicious, vicious circle… I have to realize that the only thing I can be in control of is myself (most of the times) and the one thing that is of paramount importance is to stay on the optimal dose of my meds so that I can be in control of my self.

The Performance – an erasure poem

Being neither demigods nor heroes...

Be Honest: Did You See It Coming?

Originally posted on The Daily Graff:

Sun on RockerSun on Kitchen Chair

We’re dating ourselves, but we’re co-chairs of the John Denver Fan Club, and . . . (wait for it ) . . . Sunshine on Our Shoulders Makes Us Happy.

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Picture Day

I always hated picture day at school.  From sixth grade to junior year I was an awkward, ugly teenager.  It instilled in me a hatred of having my picture taken that lasts to this day.

I suffer through it–I get my picture taken at parties for the kids, on vacations, etc.  So the kids will be able to point me out to their kids as their mother.  But I don’t like it.

I’m going to do it voluntarily today though–I’m having my article on bipolar disorder published in Mississippi Christian Living and they want photos.  I’m assuming just a head shot to go next to the article, but I could be wrong.  So I will dress up and fix up as much as I can and do that later this morning.  The article comes out in May, so I don’t have long to wait for it.  I’m just hoping it reaches people that need to read it and need some hope, same as my mission with the blog.

Other than that I have a pretty slow day.  Laundry and my ladies coming to help me clean up.  So I’m taking my time waking up and doing everything I need to do to get ready.  We will see how it goes.  Hope everyone has a great day!

I’m driving me Crazy (Long nonsensical rant)

Things I Did Right Yesterday:
Got my kid dressed, fed, and off to school.
Picked my kid up from school.
Took a shower (after 3 or 4 days).
Cooked a decent meal for supper.
Finished reading one book, went to the library and got more, and read 55 more pages. Which is not as easy as one might think with a child saying “Mommy” every ten seconds.

Things I did Not Do at all yesterday:
cat boxes

And Things I forced myself to do but did not really excel at:
Errands (It was like every step was walking uphill in molasses, which after two solid days not leaving the house, one would think getting out would be a relief.)
Not getting irritated with my yapping tantrum throwing child. She’s taken to screaming at me for no reason and she’s been grounded for almost a week now and still can’t correlate her behavior needs to change for her to get ungrounded. I am trying very hard to be calm, to talk in a firm but regulated tone, to not overreact to childhood staples…It’s exhausting. Mostly I want to go hide in the closet.
Socializing. R came over and we watched a movie. It wasn’t something I really wanted to do, I’d much rather have kept reading my book. But he’s having a tough time and while he sure as hell does not deserve my empathy, it’s who I am. I can’t let people who behave like jerks turn me into one. And that’s a challenge. (But hey, he did redeem himself after I confronted him about all the work I did on that laptop last week and he blew it off. He brought me a pack of smokes and Mangoritas. Can that be considered income?)
Socializing is hellish for me. Unless I am manic or drunk, every minute just seems endless. I sit and clockwatch and wonder, is it time for them to leave yet. Then there are times when after a drink or two the stick is removed from my ass and I get sad when it’s time for them to leave.
I literally cannot find a happy medium.
While it could be failing to regulate my emotions (the counselors are insane if they think this is even remotely possible with bipolar, the entire definition of that is lack of regulation) but mostly I think it’s my ever changing moods, anxieties, and mind frame. I know when I am in a bad state and being around others will result in nothing good. So I self isolate to “protect” others from me. And it’s sad I feel I have to protect people because I’m the one who’s ill and if it were physical illness, people would be flocking to protect, support, and aid me. It’s just so much ass trash how mental illness is handled like some imaginary friend. I have to take care of myself, manage the illnesses, and tend to those around me who find me so taxing. Try living with it, bitches.
I am driving me crazy.

It does not help that for the last two years, my status quo has been altered. Due to seasonal affective shit, normally I hit my depression around the end of September, then come April, I go half manic. It’s changed. Last years I didn’t become high functioning until July. Which was when the shrink decided I was doing well and it made her so happy so she’d see me in four months when she got back from leave. I knew in my gut this was not a good idea. Just ditching me as the seasons would soon transition.
And I was right. I was with the emergent care guy before November. Because that’s how my cycles run. I will be doing splendidly for two, three months, giving the illusion that all is well. Then like being T-boned by a semi, the depression swoops in for a royal ass kicking. Time after time it happens yet aside from one doctor, the others seem oblivious. Yet this psych center advertises that they specialize in seasonal affective disorder.
I am frustrated by the lack of progress I’ve made as far as the depression. There’s just this lack of joy in everything, even things I normally love. I love Wednesday 13’s music yet it’s been months since I even listened to one song. Why? It’s almost like I am afraid my dark toxic mind will poison music I love so I have to keep it far away from me. I am the bottle with skull and crossbones on it. So easily what I love could be tainted during a depressive bout. I try to force myself to engage in previously enjoyed activities but…Like pasting on a smile, it’s exhausting, it gives me bad juju, and um…NO.

It’s odd how I can be a welcome mat at times when in fact, I am told I am one of the mouthiest most assertive people anyone’s met. Or am I just feeling like a welcome mat because deep down, under all the self protective tough girl crap, I am still this mooshy hearted “No one helped me but I still want to help them” wimp?
Case in point: R.
He all but ignored me for a week. Got pissed off when I couldn’t rise the 2002 Lazurus laptop. He has no concept of what I am going through. I tell him something, he says I never said it. (But he makes fun of my inability to remember numbers.)
I try to vent and talk to him, he just blows me off.
Yet when it’s him struggling, I am duty bound to listen and make soothing noises.
Which to some extent I do.
But him whining about the shop not meeting its overhead for the month cos little has come in for repair, and oh no, the sky is falling, I only have a six month cushion of finances. (His wife makes almost six figures, so my empathy is…um…nil.) I had to borrow money from my sister just to put gas in the car to get my kid to school, ffs. Don’t tell me how hard it is.
Then he prattles on about the fights he has with his wife. She’s going through menopause and I guess it’s a bumpy ride. He’s “finally” come to the realization it’s not her fault, it’s a physical problem and all her hormones have gone crazy.
At which point I said, “Ya mean, like a mentally ill person having imbalanced chemicals?”
To which he said, “Enough, I’m just now wrapping my brain around this menopause thing.”

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant even educated people can be. Do a little fucking research. Menopause, mental illness, it’s all related to hormones and chemicals, which is scientific fact.
It’s just…I feel sorry for his wife sometimes, but she’s so overbearing I figure they deserve each other. They’re not bad people. Just…as fucked up as anyone else but oblivious to the fact.
I just get so furious with him because it was my mood swings that made him ditch me 15 years ago. Like I could control that. He was afraid it would negatively affect his children. Whose mother was diagnosed borderline and abused them physically. Yet he stayed with her fifteen years.
It may seem petty, but in all honesty…I can handle being ditched because I’m a bitch. I’m stubborn. I swear too much. I smoke, I drink. I am a hoarder. I have too many cats. I’m mouthy. I have a plethora of faults I own that are acceptable reasons for ditching me.
But time after time it always comes down to my disorder. Because it’s totally intentional and within my control. I just take the meds because I loooove side effects.

But under the anger lies the soft hearted person who wants to do right. So when he said, “Can you just come by the shop in the morning and keep my spirits up?” I said I would. I get so little from him and yet…Sap that I am, I keep giving. I think in some ways I am atoning for the past when I was misdiagnosed and the wrong meds were making everything worse so I was a crazy feral at times. At some point, the atonement has to end.
Truth be told, I did not sleep well, again, and I am not feeling all that “supportive” of others’ spirits today.
But I will go do it and at least get lunch out of the deal. (Again, is it income if someone buys you lunch?) And because I have been broke all my life and I know what it’s like when nothing is going right and your finances are freaking you out…I will be empathetic and supportive.

But there will likely be snarkasm thrown in. I mean, I can’t coddle the man like everyone else does. If I stop being honest and speaking my mind, well, that’s just not me. Maybe I should learn some filters.
Or maybe others should just stop being stupid and realize not everything is personal. Most of my snarkasm stems from trying (and failing) to be funny or something you’ve done to irk me or well, bipolar.
Fuck filters.

I despise the way something seems so tolerable at some point and you agree to it. Then next instant, it’s like, wtf have I done? I’m in no shape to play this role today.

Anyway…I think I am done. This is probably one of the least focused most rambling posts I’ve written in the two weeks since I started Focalin.
Oh, well. I consistent in my inconsistency.

Remember kids.
A friend will help you move.
A real friend ill give you an alibi and help you bury the bodies.
I need a real friend.
Except my mood would change and I’d want to bury them.

Fuck, I really am driving me crazy.
Ha, driving Miss Crazy.
I’m out.

a-z challenge: r

{TW: graphic info about Rothko’s suicide.}

This one is a no brainer. R is for Rothko and the reason for that, is a gentle and logical progression from seeing my very first one (Light Red Over Black) at the Tate, and then Georgia O’Keeffe’s comment about his work being like a weaving, in a film at the Hayward.

“Abstract art never interested me; I always painted realistically. My present paintings are realistic.” |Mark Rothko – The Seagram Murals|

*makes like Sophia in the Golden Girls* Picture this, Sicily London, 1993. A young woman scurries from gallery to gallery, looking in vain for her soul, her fortune, or a girlfriend. Her trusty copy of Time Out, newsprint classifieds bleeding into the rain, would get her one of those things in time, but for now, it got her to the Tate Modern. By then she had a homing device tuned to it and a thorough knowledge of which rooms to bypass and which postcards to buy.

The Rothko Room


The Tate has nine of the Seagram, or Four Seasons Murals, I’d read a short blurb saying (more or less) that after being commissioned to paint them for the Four Seasons Restaurant, Mark Rothko threw a serious case of artistic temperament, flung the commission money back and flounced off.

“Anybody who will eat that kind of food for those kind of prices will never look at a painting of mine.”  (Mark Rothko, 1959) |source|

The works I saw at the Tate had been donated by Rothko himself.

On February 25, 1970, Oliver Steindecker, Rothko’s assistant, found the artist in his kitchen, lying dead on the floor in front of the sink, covered in blood. He had sliced his arms with a razor found lying at his side. The autopsy revealed that he had also overdosed on anti-depressants. He was sixty-six years old. The Seagram Murals arrived in London for display at the Tate Gallery on the very day of his suicide. |Late at Tate at Tate Liverpool (22 October 2009): Reflect on Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals in the twilight hours|

rothko460There was a skylight, the paintings were subdued and so were the people. I went back on a sunny day and as the paintings brightened a little, the people around me brightened a lot. On the grey day, they slumped quietly on the benches in the centre of the room; on the sunny day, there was a quiet energy and a much, much lighter mood. It’s logical and obvious, writing it down now, but then it felt like a revelation – art epiphany #3.

Inner-space-...-the-Mark--007I didn’t know much at all about the artist or the paintings then, and the work, the visceral experience of it, was enough. No internet, no rapid research fast answers; I read whatever I could find and my life was so freaking peripatetic, that threads and themes were inconsistent. It was like a rich scavenger hunt back then, much later I began to fill in the gaps. Mark Rothko was not love in the ways that Picasso and O’Keeffe were. I didn’t understand him intellectually then and to be honest, I don’t think I do now. I have zero idea how to and I’m not remotely interested in anyone’s technique. Mood, texture … that’s about it really. I love the colour blue (so do 40% of humans, apparently) and it’s tempting to fall in love with Rothko’s, but there’s a small niggle at the back of my mind, that says if I did, I’d have entered ‘does the art match the couch’ territory and then, well it’s all downhill from there, innit?

Almost everyone who enters the room feels an urge to sit down on the benches in the middle of the space. It’s as if the emotional weight of these sombre works instinctively makes you sit, instantly drained by them. Before you even have time to try to compose a rational understanding of them, they have a psychological impact. The Tate’s Mark Rothko exhibit: a room with a view of the subconscious

Mark-Rothko-Seagram-Murals-at-the-TateSo I can look at Rothko paintings and fall into their density for a while and feel colour all around, but actual sensible thought? When I attempt that, it all puzzles the fuck out of me. I firmly believe that art is better when it’s independent of all the blather of criticism and interpretation. Everyone, no matter their age or education, who looks at a painting and thinks or says a word or a million words about it, is absolutely, unequivocally right. In the Rothko Room, I probably gazed far more at the other people in the room than I did at the art. And since their reactions were a reflection of those paintings, it was truly fascinating.

Moar Stuffs

82.65.409_PS2“Like many artists, Mark Rothko was many people. He was the European emigre enjoying a better life in America; he was the impoverished adolescent from a political family who met anarchist Emma Goldman; and he was the young anarchist who studied at Yale. He repudiated abstraction and colour field, yet became known as the most famous of abstract artists and colour field painters.” The Strange Life & Stranger Death of Mark Rothko

“In October 2012, Black on Maroon, one of the paintings in the Seagram series, was defaced with writing in black ink while on display at Tate Modern, by a man named Wlodzimierz Umaniec. It was estimated that restoration of the painting might take up to eighteen months to complete. The BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz explained that the ink from Umaniec’s marker pen had bled all the way through the canvas, causing “a deep wound not a superficial graze” and that the vandal had caused “significant damage.”” |bbc news|

“Kate Rothko Prizel is a strong-looking woman with a disarming smile that she switches on and off like a flashlight. You sit opposite her, trying not to be distracted by the subliminal hum of the canvases on the walls – three early Rothkos to the right of me, and one to the left – and you wonder: how did she do it? How did she survive?” The art cheats who betrayed my father


dtho23March09Tate0006.JPGmarkrothko.org – A comprehensive resource for information about Mark Rothko paintings, prints, biography and quotes.

Rothko @ MoMA

Rothko @ the Guggenheim





My Psychiatrists and Resilience


When I was diagnosed with bipolar d/o in 1986 in New Orleans, my doctor at the time was an exceptional one. He was there for me whenever I needed him, in fact he even opened his clinic on weekends if one of his patients needed him. He listened to me, he prescribed state of the art medicines, he adjusted the doses when my side effects got too severe. When I went into hypomanic phases, he kept in very close touch with me, talking to me daily and adjusting my meds daily. I even had him as my psychiatrist when I moved out of town, even out of the United States to Turkey! We had phone sessions and it worked well. I still think he was one of the best doctors I had, empathetic, always there, listened to everything I told him. Finally, he took a job as the head of the Psychiatry department at a state hospital after hurricane Katrina wiped out not only New Orleans but his private practice as well. After that, he couldn’t be my doctor because he didn’t have insurance to see private patients anymore. I was pretty devastated. He had been with me since this awful, hellish roller coaster ride began, from 1985 to 2005, 20 years! All through the ups and downs and smooth patches. Of course, it had been hardest in the beginning and he had walked me through it. Through my first full blown manic phase, when I called him at 3 am screaming and yelling about people trying to prove I was schizophrenic, ugh … He was there when my husband proposed to me and we got married, there when I moved to Istanbul and the stresses that brought on, he was there when my son was born, a very joyous occasion. He was there (on the phone) when I bought my first house. In short, he was there through many major milestones in my life. I, haha, of course, tried to talk him into seeing me any way. But he didn’t concur… I was very upset, it is always a very traumatic time when you change psychiatrists. Of course, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anyone as good as him, who would understand me and listen to me and be such a good psychopharmacologist and psychotherapist. And I lived through this stress and went to a few psychiatrists who didn’t mesh with me (and one who sexually harasses me) and I suffered. Then in 2008 I found my next amazing psychiatrist. He listened, treated me extremely well, was trained in the psychoanalytic fashion and knew about drugs as well. However, to my dismay, he retired in 2011. Then again, a couple of years of limbo and one awful psychiatrist later, we moved to Louisville. I came to Louisville in very bad shape. Too many stresses, selling our house, leaving my son behind in Buffalo, leaving all my friends behind, one very, very sick beloved cat, and MOST importantly of all, I constantly took sub therapeutic levels of Lithium. I came to Louisville in an almost full blown manic phase and here I found the best doctor I’ve ever had. I was so lucky! He is extremely intelligent, works for the University, he has his own lab, he teaches, he is up on ALL the latest research and he treats patients and is an expert in mood disorders. I hit the jackpot with him, haha. I am so glad he is my doctor. He knew to increase my Synthroid dosage when my endocrinologist didn’t know. He knew that because Lithium blocks the action of thyroid hormone, I should be on higher levels of Synthroid. He has me on safe and therapeutic levels of Lithium and Seroquel. I am hoping, for my sake and my family’s, that he doesn’t retire any time soon. Fingers crossed.

But if there is one thing that my relationships with all my psychiatrists have taught me, it is that no matter what, I will survive. I will miss the good ones, and I will not look back on the bad ones, but I will survive. And so will you, my fellow readers, writers, moms, dads, brothers and sisters, my fellow people. Both you and I, we will. We have coping skills, we have communication skills, we have resilience. We will survive and we will thrive.

Heart Attack Symptoms In Young Women from NYTimes


This article hits me right in my heart. They might as well have written this article about my mother. Everything that is in this article was true about her. She had a massive heart attack. She did not recognize it as such. She thought she was having a panic attack. She did call 911 or go to the hospital. She experienced panic, shortness of breath, non specific pain in her torso. She was a doctor, an OB/GYN. But she had these symptoms for possibly days before she told me she wasn’t feeling well and certainly before she called her friends, the husband was the head of the Cardiothoracic department of a big hospital in Buffalo NY. She called them and when they got to her home, she was on the verge of crashing. Of course they immediately called an ambulance and she was taken to the CCU. She never recovered. She stayed in the CCU for six weeks, underwent awful procedures, withstood terrible pain, as did we, her three children, who were by her side every minute, and she finally passed away. She was 66 years of age. We were devastated. It was a life changing event for all three of us. So I’m posting this, even though it is not a mental illness. But if women read this and know the symptoms and the risks, then perhaps what happened to my mother, the doctor, won’t happen to them.

Women’s risks and symptoms of an impending heart attack are very different than men’s. Until recently, we all knew the crushing chest pain and the pain traveling down the left arm as symptoms of heart attack. But those men’s symptoms, women experience heart attack as a pain in the neck,  jaw, shoulder or abdomen, they experience right arm pain, and shortness of breath or nausea.

My mom also suffered from depression and anxiety and had Lupus, some of the risk factors mentioned in this article. She didn’t go to the hospital. If she’s gone to the hospital earlier, there is no reason she wouldn’t have survived. Her heart recovered, but all her other organs failed, probably due to the anoxia they experienced while her heart was weakened during and after her heart attack. I miss her so much. She was a remarkable woman, getting her MD in India in 1960. She was brilliant, a gourmet cook, an amazing gardener, a singer, a brilliant OB/GYN and surgeon, she loved poetry, she designed her own house. She loved us, her three children and three grandchildren to the moon and back. I miss her, we all miss her. Her obituary, which my brother wrote is below: https://www.facebook.com/notes/samina-zaineb-raza/my-mother-sabahat-ahsan/10152753718111892

Time is of the essence! Recognition of symptoms is of the essence. Understanding of risks is of the essence. Please read this article, and learn and understand.


Young Women’s Hearts at Risk

Attention, American women, especially young women: Have you got the heart to save yours?

Although long thought of as a man’s disease, heart disease afflicts as many women, though women tend to develop and die from it about 10 years later. And while coronary mortality rates have declined over all, there are signs that the disease, its precursors and its potentially fatal consequences are increasing among young women.

A 2007 study in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology referred to the rise in cardiovascular risk factors among young women as “the leading edge of a brewing storm.

While so many women worry about cancer, only slightly more than half realize that heart disease is their No. 1 killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More women in the United States die from cardiovascular causes — heart disease and stroke — than from all forms of cancer combined.

Numerous campaigns by the American Heart Association and other organizations have raised awareness among women of their mostly self-inflicted risks and of symptoms that are typically far more subtle in women than in men.

“Even if they believe they’re having a heart attack, 36 percent don’t call 911,” said Dr. Holly S. Andersen, director of education and outreach at the Perelman Heart Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College, citing the latest heart association national survey. “Women are more likely to wait when they have symptoms and, when they get to the hospital, say that they have indigestion, not chest pain — a big mistake.”

Rather than crushing chest pain, women in the throes of a heart attack more often experience discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen, dizziness, nausea, right arm pain, shortness of breath, and sweating or unusual fatigue. Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of a heart attack had no prior symptoms.

Doctors too often fail to take a woman’s risk seriously and treat it aggressively, or to provide adequate recommendations for prevention, Dr. Andersen and other experts say. “This is especially true for young women,” she said. Yet, she added, “among women between the ages of 29 and 45, it looks like the incidence of heart disease is rising.”

There are ample reasons. Stress, for example, is a known, though not often cited, risk factor, “and the youngest women in this country are more stressed than ever,” she said. “They’re always ‘on’ and self-comparing.”

Smoking — marijuana as well as cigarettes — is a coronary risk. And while smoking has declined among older women, “young women are the ones still smoking,” Dr. Andersen said. Women on birth control pills who smoke are especially at risk.

Two other major risk factors, obesity and diabetes, are more rampant than ever, especially among Hispanic women born in the United States, half of whom develop diabetes by age 70.

“We’re good at treating heart disease, but we’re failing at prevention,” Dr. Andersen said. As Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, a professor emeritus at the Emory University School of Medicine,noted in 2010, the steady annual decline in heart disease deaths among women since 2000 resulted more from better care than from prevention.

“A particular unmet need is prevention at younger age, the subset of women less likely to undertake preventive behaviors,” she wrote. Yet decades ago, heart disease was found to originate in the teenage years or early 20s and gradually worsen unless preventive measures were undertaken.

When women with high levels of artery-damaging LDL cholesterol are prescribed statins, the treatment often provides “false reassurance” that the drugs “can compensate for poor dietary choices and a sedentary life,” Dr. Rita F. Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, wrote last year. In one study she cited, “statin users significantly increased their fat intake and calorie consumption, along with their B.M.I. (body mass index), in the last decade. Focusing on cholesterol levels can be distracting from the more beneficial focus on healthy lifestyle to reduce heart disease risk.”

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which contain natural antioxidants that statins don’t provide, is more important, Dr. Andersen said. “So is getting regular aerobic exercise, spending time with friends and getting a good night’s sleep — six to eight hours,” she said. “Chronic lack of sleep doubles the risk of heart disease.”

Coronary risk is also greater among women who carry extra weight around the abdomen — the so-called apple shape. Abdominal fat is metabolically active and can result in high blood pressure and diabetes, even if a woman is otherwise slender.

“One’s waistline is more important than B.M.I.,” Dr. Andersen said. “Skinny people with big waists are less likely to live long.”

Depression and lack of social support, more common among older women, are also often underappreciated risk factors. “Social isolation is detrimental,” she said. “Women who regularly spend time with close friends live longer and have less heart disease.”

A positive outlook on life — laughing a lot, having a sense of humor, being optimistic and seeing the glass as half full — is also protective, Dr. Andersen said, adding that “15 minutes of laughter is equivalent in preventive value to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.”

Although “marital stress increases a woman’s risk of coronary heart disease,” having a compatible partner or a pet is beneficial, she said.

Several factors that women may experience early in life, especially two pregnancy-related conditions — pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes — have been linked to a greater coronary risk years later. Additional risk factors now emerging for women include migraines with aura and inflammatory diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Two other conditions more prevalent among women cause symptoms that are often overlooked by them and their doctors as likely due to heart attack. Women are more prone to develop blockages in the small vessels that feed the heart, which can cause pressure or tightness in the chest rather than crushing pain, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

They are also far more susceptible to “broken heart syndrome”brought on by events like the sudden loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or money, divorce, a bad accident, a natural disaster, or even a surprise party. The resulting intense stress reaction of chest pain and shortness of breath, although usually temporary, can mimic a heart attack, though it rarely causes one.