Why mental health stigma angers me

It usually takes a lot to get me angry. Cut in front of me in traffic? I’ll just smile and nod. But when people are just outright rude and mean, that’s a hot button issue for me.

Recently it seems, there have been many celebrities/sports stars who have disclosed that they have a mental health issue. The most recent disclosure has been from Brandon Marshall,  in which he shares that he has Borderline Personality Disorder.

Now, anyone who has mental health issues (I *hate* using the term “mental disorder”) can tell you that it is quite painful to live with it, and even more painful to disclose it to people. You never know how people will look at you after you tell them what is going on with your brain. You are afraid of how people’s judgement will color your relationship with them.

I clicked on the article about Brandon today, and was glad that he was brave to announce what he is enduring. Then, I scrolled down to the comments and that’s when my blood started to boil. People were making nasty, rude, and ignorant comments such as:

“I call it Spoiled Black Thug Trying To Save Face Disorder”

“Yeah Im an @#$% too, Brandon.”

“another over paid whiner”

“I see “acting black” now has a new name…”

There are some thoughtful comments in there, but they are few and far between.

Why the anger, you ask? Because it’s in these ignorant comments that people in the mental health will never get support, understanding, and help.

The next time you hear someone disclosing their mental health issues, take a step back and think this: It could be you.

 

Stupid politician comments and the special needs community

It’s been a few days since the proverbial crap hit the fan once again in our special needs community, when another politician made a hurtful comment. Unintentional or not, it still stings when you hear leaders who are supposed to represent your needs in Washington, D.C., or in your state capital utter such distressing speech.

Let’s turn the clock back a bit to President Barack Obama when he was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Everyone was so excited because it was the first time ever that a sitting President was on that show. He was relaxed. He was witty. Then, he dropped the bomb that shocked the special needs community. Claiming that his bowling score of 129 “was like the Special Olympics– or something” outraged many of us. I don’t care if you think he was just trying to poke fun at himself. I don’t care if you think that he was still trying to pour on his charm. What I care about was that he slapped the special needs community in the face when he made that comment. It was disrespectful, and his weak apology did nothing to help smooth over hurt feelings. As an aside,  his own score wouldn’t even qualify for competing in the Special Olympics.

Then, we have Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s “hench man” as I like to call him. Rahm has a problem of controlling his mouth. In a closed door  strategy meeting, he criticized a plan to air commercials attacking conservative Democrats as “f_____ing retarded”. Saying the “R” word in our circles is akin to saying the “N” word in the African American community. You. just. don’t. do. it.  Sarah Palin called for Emanuel to step down after his “R” word comment became public.

Now, we have a newcomer to the “Ooops… I said ____” Club. Welcome, Bob Marshall. He is a Delegate representing Prince William county, Virginia (northern Virginia). He recently stated at a rally against Planned Parenthood that having a child with a disability is God’s punishment to a mother who has had a previous abortion. What in the world? God punishing a mother?

This comment not only made me see red, but also got the whole special needs community enraged as well. First, we don’t see our children (or those of us ourselves who have disabilities) as God’s punishment. We see them as God’s gift. In fact, we view all children as God’s gift, disabled or ‘perfect’. Anyway, aren’t we perfect in God’s eyes? Doesn’t God love us infinitely for who we are? So, how can this Mr. Marshall declare that God is sitting on His throne, doling out punishment in the way of a disabled child? What about those of us who haven’t had an abortion? Did we do something worse in God’s eyes?

Nonsense.

Now, I’d like for you to take a look at the political affiliations of these three gentlemen. We all know that Mr. Obama and Mr. Emanuel are part of the Democratic Party. Of which political party does Mr. Marshall belong?

Would you be surprised if I told you the Republican Party?

Yes, Mr. Bob Marshall is a Republican.

Granted, politicians on either side of the aisle will make stupid comments, will make mistakes, and will try to smooth things over with their double-speak.

However, I am looking at this issue through the eyes of an American and as a Christian. To declare such careless opinions not only hurts people who cannot speak for themselves, but it also reflects poorly on us as a nation.

On a personal note, some of you know that I am on Twitter quite often. I follow about 3,000 people, and about 2,900 follow me in return. I have about a majority of conservative-minded political people in my follow group. Many of them I have known for about two years, have talked with them on and off Twitter, became friends with them on Facebook, and have considered them my friends. The other part of my follower group consist of people in the special needs/disability community: many advocates, lawyers, parents, and even people with disabilities.

I thought that when the news came out about Marshall that more of my conservative friends would rally with me about the insensitivity of his remarks, and the insincere apology he made. I mean, they all rallied around when Obama and Emanuel made their faux pas comments about the disability community.

Would you be surprised if I told you that I could count on two hands the number of conservative people that supported my anger about Marshall?

I blasted my Facebook wall with links to the articles, commented about how horrible this was that a so-called Christian would make crass comments like these. Aren’t conservatives supposed to be God-fearing, Bible-thumping, flag-waving, freedom-loving people?

I was heartbroken at the silence. One conservative mom even asked me, “Well, what do you want me to do about it? He apologized.”

Again, I was floored.

I am the kind of person that will stand with you, follow you into battle, lend my shoulder for you to cry on, and sit with you while you need to talk. I only ask that you do the same for me.

I will not back down about advocating for the disabled/special needs community. I will also not back down about my conservative beliefs. I do see how sometimes they conflict in the strongest and strangest of ways.  However, if I don’t advocate, who will?

Here’s a little song to close out my long rant. Thanks for reading.

Milestones and musings

We’ve had a couple of huge milestones here at the Den. First, Casey learned how to ride a two-wheeler bike! After much practice, telling him that we can’t put the training wheels back on because he’d only bend them out of shape again, he has started to master bike riding! I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it is to see him finally bike riding independently. For a while there, I thought we were going to have to shell out beaucoup money for one of those three wheeler bikes.

Another huge milestone is that Casey *finally* pet a dog without getting scared. This. is. huge. In the past, he would run away from dogs, either screaming or crying. This time when he saw this little fluffy puppy, he said “I’m not scared of dogs any more, Momma.” He then went up to the owner, asked if he could pet the dog, and asked, “Which way do you pet him, Momma?” It was so wonderful. I hope this fear doesn’t regress. Oftentimes, kids with autism will progress, then regress. I hope he continues on this path of progress.

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A while ago I reported that I was put on Abilify to stabilize my ever-changing moods. One of the horrid side effects with that medication was feeling that you are in a perpetual state of sleepiness. You can literally feel the sleep in your head, at the base of your forehead. Please note this is one patient’s experience. Your mileage may vary. 😉 I went to my nurse practitioner psychiatrist, and complained about the side effects. I am now on Lamictal, which is another mood-stabilizing medication, mostly used for bipolar patients. Thankfully, I was already off the Abilify for a week since I ran out (the weaning off process wasn’t too bad, except for a few wacky dreams). The titration process for Lamictal was brutal. The first two weeks I was on the 25mg dosage, and I was so irritable. Take cranky and multiply that times 1,000. That was me. When I was graduated up to 50mg for the next two weeks, the irritability finally dissipated. I started feeling level, a lot more balanced.

Now I’m up to 100mg of Lamictal, and I’m starting to feel that sleepiness again, but at least this time it’s not a constant fog that invades my head. It waxes and wanes during the day. I can almost set a clock to it and know exactly when it’s going to happen.

My impression of Lamictal versus Abilify thus far is that I like Lamictal much more. One caveat, however. You need to take it at the exact same time every day. Do. not. miss. a. dose. Trust me on this one.

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I’ve been wanting to go on a political rant for the past few days. What the hell is happening to our country? First, let me disclose that I am a conservative. I will not apologize for my beliefs. I strongly believe in the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment, and One Nation Under God.

This Cap and Trade bill, aka “Cap and Tax” is a tragedy. What’s the deal with the 3:00am extra pages to the bill? Doesn’t anyone in Congress read what is given to them? Then, I read an article that explains how some countries want to amend the Kyoto Protocol, which caps rich countries’ carbon emissions while developing countries are not capped, to “focus on rich people everywhere”. Now, I am by no means a wealthy person. But, if someone wants to drive an SUV, live in a large house, and fly their private jet to their vacation, let them do it. We should not live in a Nanny State.

And what’s the deal with Michelle Obama being elevated to some fashion icon worthy of celebrity status? I’m quite pissed that she is using tax dollars to purchase a $6,000 handbag, then she has the nerve to wear $500 tennis shoes to a food bank? I’m sorry y’all, but this boils my blood. They can talk about ‘distributing the wealth’ and looking out for each other (cue the Kum Bay Ya guitar strumming), but the Obama’s think nothing of jetting off to New York for a glitzy date, a Paris shopping spree, and rubbing it all in the faces of Americans, while so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

Ugh. End rant. I could go on, but I don’t want to raise my blood pressure more.

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Here’s a tune to sum up how I feel about our current economic mess.

Shutting Detroit Down- John Rich

It’s not supposed to be personal

I hope it’s officially Springtime here in the northern tundra because I’m getting tired of being cold all the time. The snows are finally melting, and I saw two robins last Saturday. Maybe that’s a true sign that Spring is finally here.

Another sign of Spring is at our school- the upcoming Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) elections. I’ve been president for the past year, and we had a very interesting year this year. We gave back the concessions to the middle school/high school atheltics because we were losing money, we’ve had very little cooperations with the middle school/high school atheltics department in the first place. Now it’s election time again, and it looked like at first that we would not have a slate of officers at all. Our vice president and treasurer can’t run again because of term limits. So it’s down to just the secretary and me. I decided at one PTO meeting that I was done. I wanted to get back into finishing my schoolwork for my Masters’ degrees, and go from there.

The secretary came up to me and talked to me about the future of PTO. If there are no officers for next year, the PTO dissolves and we’re done. She said that it would be good if I held on for just one more year since that would give the PTO continuity in leadership, and we would have the PTO still viable for the school. I didn’t think about the continuity in leadership aspect since the president can hold office for 2 years, but honestly, I wanted to be done. Since I didn’t want the PTO to be completely finished, I wrote my name on the nominations form.

Later on, I heard through the grapevine that the secretary has aspirations of running for president. Yup. You read that right. After talking to me about how I should stay on, she wants to run for the position. To tell the truth, I was hurt. I felt like I wasn’t wanted.

Then another bombshell erupted. Another mom wants to run for president, but she hasn’t been to the three required meetings during the school year. I checked our bylaws, and we changed that requirement only for president, but if someone wants to run for president he/she has to have held a previous position. I don’t know if this mom has or hasn’t, so I need to dig and find out.

At our last PTO meeting, the fur was starting to fly between the secretary and myself. I stated that if we don’t have a full slate of officers for next year, then we can’t do our annual silent basket auction. She comes out with “well, I feel confident that we will have a full slate, and if we don’t, then we should just have the auction anyway, and give the money directly to the school. I think we should amend the bylaws for that.”

I was groaning inside, but I stated, “We can’t do that. In order to amend bylaws, we need to have a first reading of the amendment, which would be at the next meeting. Then, at the second reading, we’d vote. By then, it would be too late.”

Then she was talking while I was talking, and I stopped. I said, “I’m waiting until the side conversations are stopped.” She stopped talking, looked around and made this “Oooh” sound that only she can make.

Things like this make me remember my old days in grade school- all the popularity contests, the cattiness, the infighting. I thought that serving on the PTO wasn’t supposed to be personal; it was supposed to be serving your school and helping out.

Sigh.

Rants, rememberances, and a recipe

Rants

→Well, we’ve had quite a historic week in the US, haven’t we? Even though I prayed hard, went to the voting booth, and talked to many people about why we should vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin, my hopes for a McCain/Palin win were dashed at around 11:00pm that fateful Tuesday, November 4th night. Honestly, I was sick to my stomach when the electoral college projections were coming in on CNN. I was almost in tears when I was watching John McCain’s eloquent concession speech. I wanted to throw heavy objects at the TV when Obama was making his victory speech.

Then, something happened overnight. I looked at things with tired eyes, but tried to see things with a little bit of an optimistic view. I looked at the crowds’ faces during the victory speech, and started to feel… a surge of pride.

We actually made history during this election. I’ve never seen such a turnout of support for a candidate. I truly hope that fences can be mended, and we can work together to make this nation great once again.

→ I’m tired of being tired all the time. The medicines that I’m taking are making my blood pressure go higher than my normal ranges. I wake up wobbly and shaking. Sometimes, my hands go tingly and it feels like little needles are pricking my hands. I called my primary care PA-C and she said I had to go to the ER to get checked out. So, I spent about 2 hours on Election Night at the ER hooked up to wires. The attending doc said that even though my BP was what I considered high, it was within normal ranges at that time (136/84). I was sent home with the directive of taking my BP every day, and cutting down my Cymbalta down from 90mg to 60mg.

I’ve called my nurse practitioner psychiatrist, who is the one who prescribed the Cymbalta, and she left me a voice mail saying “Well, I think I’m going to defer to your primary care person.” ACK- Aren’t you the one who prescribed me this medicine and aren’t you the one who’s monitoring me on all these meds??  I’m on Cymbalta, Topamax, and Ambien CR (stopped taking the Ambien CR because I can’t afford the co-payment. Adjusting to sleep  w/o medicine assistance has been a nightmare.)

So, I’ll be back to playing phone tag tomorrow with my nurse practitioner to find out exactly what I need to do. The thing that bugs me the most is that my primary care PA is local; my nurse practitioner psychiatrist is over an HOUR’S drive away. I go to the nurse practitioner for a 20 minute consult, then drive back another over HOUR drive.  It bothers me because I feel like I’m driving so much and wasting so much gas for a lousy 20 minute appointment.

→Now before anyone jumps all over me on this, let me preface with me saying that I LOVE my sons more than I love myself. What bothers me many times is their behavior, and how blase’ they can be about how their actions affect others (okay, how their actions affect me.) Lately, my patience has been tested, put through the fire and back again with my son Casey’s behavior. I love my son, but sometimes I hate autism. There. I said it. I hate how autism just has grabbed a chokehold on our lives and has dictated so much of what happens- all of my son’s extracurricular activities are THERAPY for crying out loud. I wish I could sign him up for something fun. Hell, I wish I could sign myself up for something fun.

Rememberances

→Everyone- please remember our veterans on November 11th. They have done so much for our countries. Freedom isn’t free.

→ One year ago on November 7th, I had my total abdominal hysterectomy. I think that’s when my downward spiral started. Damn hormones and brain chemistry. Do you think I should start looking into getting evaluated at Mayo Clinic to find out what the hell is going on with me?

Recipe

I’ve been having a huge baking rush this week. The boys had a Harvest Party at school on Friday (their school doesn’t celebrate Halloween.) I made these muffins, and Casey’s teacher just raved about them! I’ve also been talking about them on Twitter (hi to anyone who is here from my Twitter page!), and I promised to post the recipe. So, here is my own twist on a seasonal favorite.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.

Beat sugar, oil, and eggs together in a bowl until frothy. Add pumpkin and water; beat some more until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Add wet mixture to dry mixture. DO NOT OVERMIX or you will have tough, dry muffins. Add chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes.

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If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!

Yes, this blog post was a little longer than my usual ones, but it’s been a while, and I still have a lot to unload.