Daily Archives: October 2, 2015

A Broken Justice System – Cases in Point – Part 2 – The Case of Courtney Bisbee

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

This case makes me shudder for more than one reason.

In 2005 I was living in a religious community in Seattle. Because I was an older woman, and a pediatrician, I was presumed to be the “grandmother type,” although I am the opposite. I am not in the least “touchy-feely.” I enjoy children, but as patients, not as anything else. There was this one lady in the community who kept after me to babysit during services, and I kept saying no, and she kept badgering me, so finally one day I said fine, I’ll play the banjo for the kids but I won’t take care of them. Somebody else has to be there to take care of the little beasts. So that’s what I did.

Wouldn’t you know, a few days later there’s a knock on my door, and who is there but one of the religious leaders and a woman, a mother of one of the children, and she’s accusing me of molesting her kid. I about died, and told them that I had had nothing to do with her brat, that she just wanted money because she thinks I’m a rich doctor, that I did nothing but play the banjo for the kids, and there were three older teenagers there to prove it. Very fortunately, the religious leader was embarrassed by this woman’s clearly false accusation and lead her away in disgrace. I shut the door shaking, realizing things could have gone a very different way and it could have been the police at the door instead. I never, never, never have agreed to play babysitter in any capacity again. It’s too easy for predators to descend like vultures on someone they think they can squeeze money out of. The case below is tragic. Courtney’s big mistake is that she went to someone’s house. Whether or not there was anything improper going on, and I know I will be smacked for saying this–in this day and time, anyone who takes their professional calling into a setting where there are no other responsible adults on site is at risk for being accused of wrongdoing. Regardless of the altruistic intentions a person may have, going to a place where the only other people are children, even if invited by the children’s parents, is no longer a safe thing to do. Very sad, but very true, and very dangerous. Don’t do it. I lived in fear of another kind of knock on my door for years, just because I gave in to another adult’s nagging and played the banjo for some toddlers for half an hour.

Originally posted on Wrongful Convictions Blog:


From time to time, I become aware of cases that are particularly good examples of the flaws, the problems, the shortcomings, the failures, and the actual injustices of our so-called justice system (that I have been writing about here for the last 3 1/2 years). This is Part 2 of what is intended to be a continuing series highlighting these cases. These cases have been selected as representative and demonstrative examples, but be aware they are just the “tip of the iceberg.” This kind of stuff is happening every day in every state. You can see Part 1 here.

[Note: To the best of my knowledge, everything in this article is a matter of public record. If it can be shown that there are any misstatements, I will immediately post a retraction and an apology. This article has been reviewed and approved for posting by…

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Mindfulness fail

meditationI was going to leave this until Monday, but one of my readers kindly checked on me, which pulled me out of my funk.

Sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s, my mother became a biofeedback therapist. She made the poor choice of trying to use me as a practice subject, and my anxiety level was so high that the needle on her machine would just stay on the highest setting. I’m telling you this to give you an idea of how my brain works (or doesn’t). Like many with bipolar disorder or anxiety, I have racing thoughts. I simply can’t turn off my brain. For a while I did pretty well with Healing Touch, and I learned to relax. But then life got in the way, and I had to stop. I thought I could do it on my own, but it just never was the same.

When my therapist suggested DBT, I thought perhaps I could be successful…until I saw that it was based on being mindful. Oh great, here we go again, I’m going to need to learn to make my brain shut-the-fuck-up. Then a free online mindfulness seminar came up this week, so I attempted to watch the first video yesterday. While the speaker was discussing how to be mindful, I’m doing everything but just that. I’m thinking “I have to pee…is this really over an hour long?…crap, I need to do the dishes…no wonder, I’ve gained weight again, I’m not eating mindfully…it’s getting cold in here…I really have to pee…I wonder when the psych nurse will call me back?…I can’t pee until she calls, what if she calls while I’m in the bathroom (my cell coverage stinks so she’s going to call on our landline)…oh thank god, there’s a “download audio” button – click.”

On my iPod, I have numerous meditation audiobooks, mindfulness podcasts, chakra drum music, and now this lecture. But it does me no good, because when I choose to listen to something it’s either something from my eclectic taste in music or a mystery audiobook…while I’m doing something else of course. What, you actually thought I could sit still and listen to something? On the other hand, I am able to read a book, well usually. If it’s a really good book, why I could sit for upwards of 20 minutes before thinking I really should be doing something else.

And did I mention I’m scatterbrained and easily distracted? It takes me at least six edits to get a blog post written. I write lists to try to stay organized, but then on my list I have “make a schedule” or even sometimes “make a shorter list.” Invariably, one item will take me to one part of the house, but then I’ll find something that needs to be done there. Then I forget what it was I doing in the first place, so I go back to my list. But then the list is all scribbled on (because no way am I going to put it on the computer – can you imagine the distraction every time I sat down to the computer?), so I have to write a new list.

But I digress (see, not focusing again). According to the speaker, yes I’m back to the seminar again, mindfulness can be more effective than therapy in helping with depression. No wonder I’m so depressed…if I could be mindful I might feel better, but instead I feel worse because I’m having trouble being mindful…

The cat just jumped on the table, aww nice soft kitty needs to be pet…let’s go sit on the couch.

Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, meditation, mindfulness


Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Ouch….Been there, didn’t do such a good job with that…

Originally posted on Depression Comix:


Read at depression comix at http://wp.me/s3zYhM-258

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Just saw this, and wanted to share it with you xxxooo

La Vie

“In your life you have two choices every morning:

will you go back to sleep to continue dreaming,

or will you get up to realize your dreams?”

So much profundity in such a few words. Applies to all of us, I think. Are we asleep and dreaming or awake and realizing our dreams.

Picking up the Pieces

So I am trying to salvage my week by finishing my assignments and laundry today.  Hopefully I will be able to accomplish both  by Sunday.  Bob is too sick to work the game.  The young one  has to go to dance early so we eat early.  SO I am working on dinner as I type as well.  Typical Friday night craziness.

Gotta work my way through the weekend too. Probably not going to finish my paper until right on deadline–but at least I do know what I want to say on it.  I’ve done about half of it and will work on the rest of it tomorrow or Sunday,  But it’s going to eb down to the wire, still.

I do feel much better today than yesterday,  I guess I’m just going to have to be patient with myself  and take care of myself and wait to recover.  WE have friends of our middle one coming to our house tonight instead of going to the Homecoming dance.  SO that will be interesting.  They’re sleeping over and watching movies. So hopefully they can have fun.

So here’s hoping next week will be better. I will hopefully get more rest and be back at speed coming into the next week.  Hope everyone has a good weekend!



This is a post about forgiveness and how forgiving can contribute to your mental health.

Even if you have been through hell, and someone has committed an egregious act against you, forgiving this person is in your best interest. Let me explain.

Of course, you are upset, angry, maybe even rageful that a person has done x, y, z to you, or your loved ones. Yes our first reaction is probably anger. That’s normal. Perhaps you want revenge, that too is normal. You may even dislike, or hate this person. Even that is normal.

But, when days, months, maybe even years go by, and this hatred and anger, and negative emotions in you continue, then who do you think this is harming? I have news for you: this is harming YOU, not the person you hate. Hatred and anger, and fantasies of revenge cause stress hormones in your body and mind to surge, these harm your body and mind. They do nothing to the person you hate.

So, you don’t have to like this person, you don’t have to have anything to do with them, but forgive them. For your own sake. So you can get over the upheaval of feeling hate, anger, and revenge against them. This gives you your peace of mind back, you are then, not controlled by your emotions against this person. You are free and can be at peace. Your stress hormone levels are low, and your mind and body are not being assaulted by them.

Forgiveness, for your own sake.


There are many reasons you might come up with to not do this. You can say “Oh I can’t do this, the crime against me was too heinous!” Or you may say you are too angry, you cannot let go of it, that person doesn’t deserve forgiveness. Fine everything you say is valid. But just let go of all your reasons to stay angry and harming yourself, let go and for your own sake, forgive them.

Keep Taking Your Meds!

Today, something reminded me that when we, people with mental illness, are feeling better, we still have to take our medication. We can not think “Oh, I am feeling fine, I don’t need to take my medication anymore!” Because the reason we are feeling better is because we are taking our medication. If we stop, we will start to feel bad again. If we stop our antidepressants. we’ll start feeling bad again, if we stop our mood stabilizers, we may become manic or depressed, and for people with schizophrenia, if medication is stopped, they might become psychotic (out of touch with reality) again.

So please remember that your symptoms have abated and you are feeling better because you are on your medication. Again a comparison to a physical illness will illustrate this: If you have diabetes and you’re taking insulin and your blood sugar is in the normal range, that’s all well and good. Now, would you think “Oh, I’m feeling fine, I’ll come off the insulin”? Well what would happen if you do stop taking insulin? Well your blood sugar would go sky high again! So what happens when you stop taking the medication that is helping keep your depression and other mental illness symptoms at bay, if you stop, they will come back!

So friends, fellow bloggers, readers, please stay on your medications. If you are having problems with side effects, please talk to your doctor. Don’t just come off the meds, because then the symptoms you were taking the meds for will resurface.

Just some advice.

Medication Mishaps

Hypomanic to Exhausted

This week I’ve been completely exhausted. Twice I forgot to take my mood stabilizer at night. The first time, I didn’t realize it until late the next afternoon – too late to take my missed dose. The next time I realized it the following morning and immediately took the previous night’s dose.

I became hypomanic due to the first error, publishing three (or more?) posts on Sunday. The second mishap compounds the first and explains why I feel like I’m dragging myself through molasses this week.

Although I’m physically exhausted, I cannot fall asleep without taking sleep meds, resorting to twice my prescribed dose (which my psychiatrist okayed in the past – it’s still a reasonable dose). When I’m stable I do not have to take meds to fall asleep.

Oh, and Friday my husband and I attended our next door neighbors’ daughter’ quinceañera, which was lovely, but probably threw me off. Social stimulation triggers my mood cycling.

Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Hypomania, Medication, Triggers to Mood Cycling Tagged: exhaustion, insomnia, medication management

Three Quotes, Three Day Challenge

Thanks for the nomination from Jasmine like four or five days ago. Sorry I am late starting this, but well, this is the first time in two days the cramps have allowed me out of my bedroom and into an upright sitting position that is not agonizing. Pissy that childbirth didn’t keep me down five minutes, yet every month the evil ovarian punching oompa loompas kick my ass. Grrr….

Okay, a favorite line from a song by an obscure band I have loved for 20 years. The album came out in 1990 but I think the line is timeless and applies especially to the depressive lows of bipolar.

“Some of my friends are dead…some of them have just stopped living.”

Electric Angels “Head Above Water”


Week 1 Day 5: lessons learnt

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt this week is that we all need to take responsibility for caring for ourselves. Of course there could be reasons why this could be challenging, but that’s the bottom line. Things like getting to know your triggers, understanding how you view the world (and your place in it). […]