Sunday, March 30, 2008

Things are not what they seem

I think I've told you before, that I'm very different from my brother. In fact, if you met both of us at a party, you'd be shocked to find out we were related. Here are some things that people know about him:

He makes $100,000 a year. He works (or worked) for a small company and was treated very well. Recently his company was bought out.

He's been married 15 years, he and his wife are the ones who always have the family get-togethers. They seem to get along very well and always seem happy with each other.

He lives in a ritzy neighborhood and when he comes to the town where I live with DH, he cannot fathom the lack of choices we have--"You mean you only have five restaurants? That must be so boring!!!" (For the most part right now, it doesn't matter if we have five restaurants or fifty, because we don't go to any!)

Neither he nor his wife cook.

They have two kids. But nurturing seems to come in second when it comes to making sure the dining room table doesn't get damaged. I have always suspected that my brother's wife is the one behind all the fancy stuff, because my brother and I grew up in the same house, where things didn't need to be fancy, if they did the job. But sometimes my brother still shocks me, like one time he had been cutting grass, and his tennis shoes got grass stains on them, and he told me he needed to throw those shoes away and get a new pair (!) And he was serious!!! But he did have the grace to look a little embarrassed when I told him how stupid that was, LOL...

They have no pets. LOL, DH and I share the house with 6 dogs, 10 cats, 2 bunnies, and then outside there's 40 chickens and about 30 ducks. So we aren't lacking for company! Oh--the buns live outside in the summer :-)

Now, here is what I learned this week, both from a conversation with him myself and some of the things he told DH.

His new company is a mortgage processor. It appears they aren't doing well at all. They have frozen wages and discontinued bonus programs. His supervisor and the VP who supervises the supervisor are laid off, effective April 15. My brother has been unable to get an answer from anyone as to what his job duties will be after that (read, the writing is on the wall)...He is worried about paying all his bills when he loses his job. They don't have much savings because they pay $3,000 a month (no, that's not a typo) for the kids to go to day care.

He told DH that he'd like to live up in the woods like we do. DH said "I'm not sure that would suit your lifestyle..." and my brother said that it would suit his just fine but his wife would hate it. I've always suspected that his wife was the really materialistic one of the two, but assumed that I was reading too much into things.

He told DH that he and his wife have no feelings for each other any more. That he feels like he's rooming with his best buddy, but that's about it. There's no affection between them any more. My brother told DH that he is seeing now, now that he has the kids, that material things aren't that important and he never realized that before. He told DH that if he lost his job and he lost his house, well, he'd just start over, because none of it mattered in the long run.

Then he told DH that he has cheated on his wife. And the shocker, he caught his wife cheating on him, and he just let it go, DH said it was like it didn't even matter! Like "yeah, I drove by the guy's house and her car was there, so I knew she was cheating, so do you want another coke?" Weird, huh? I never imagined that she'd cheat. I knew my brother would, LOL...

And then when DH mentioned that I pretty much count every penny these days, my brother told him "yeah, we (my brother and his wife) used to be really good at that, too. But now, we've just been spending left and right and I don't even have any idea of where we're at, and I don't know if I want to know!" (YIKES!)

I've always thought, "Wow. Together, they make about three times as much as we do. They must have it made financially." Very strange to realize that common-sense wise, DH and I are probably doing better than they are...

But they always present themselves so well at the family gatherings, I'm always scared to have anyone out to our house because things are so chaotic, it would just be stressful for anyone to have to come out and have to deal with that....but maybe I'm just not as good at pretending. Come to think of it, I have never been very good at that...

Anyhow, I kind of counted my blessings after I learned all that about my brother. His life looks like a sparkly diamond on it's face, but it's really a fake diamond, and not a very pretty one. My life (with DH and DD) has been tough these last couple of years. But the love is still there and I have dreams and goals....I felt very lucky at that point....because if I was living a life like my brother's, I would probably be the one in the family with a mental illness, you know?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stuff about jobs

Well, in case you've been wondering about it, I decided I really had no choice but to turn down the offer of the full time position at my currently part-time job. I just couldn't be sure that DH would ever be able to work again on a regular basis, and I felt that it wouldn't be fair to my employer(s) for me to accept the position with no hope of ever having it be my primary job. My supervisor was very disappointed--she already had me on the schedule and everything....she asked me a lot of questions like "is there any way you could cut your bills down any more?" And I thought to myself, "if only she knew..." but I just said "no", "not right now".

One supervisor there does know a good part of what's been going on with DH all this time, but I didn't feel comfortable sharing it with someone I didn't know too well yet, so I didn't. She knows DH isn't working, but I felt that explaining about all the debts, etc., was not necessary at that time--who knows, the other supervisor might have already clued her in, I don't know!

So that's that. But....I did get a .56/hr raise at my primary job.....every little bit helps, for sure!

And DH....remember back a while when he was told he had a job driving a fertilizer truck? Well, he took the driving test and passed with flying colors, so he hopefully starts work on April 1. Yaaayyyyy!!!

And the lithium is still working well. I think we are both seeing big changes. Tonight, DD had a tantrum, she started screaming and telling Jim she hated him and why doesn't he leave, and she told DH that he's being irresponsible and a bad dad, etc...and that would ordinarily have set "That Guy" off into swearing and maybe slamming doors, etc...too. "That guy" showed up very briefly. DH realized he was extremely angry, and called me. In about 5 minutes, he was back to normal. He told me "I'll call you back, I'm going to go calm her down." And I got scared, because "That Guy" does not calm anyone down, especially DD in the middle of a tantrum! But he did. And he called me back, and calmly told me that she was grounded for the weekend, and that she's upset because her friend moved away today, and he believed her. And I do to, although that doesn't excuse her behavior at all. I couldn't believe how he handled it, this was very unusual.

I like lithium! I can't wait to see what changes when they double his dose on April 1 (he'll be seeing the psychiatrist before he starts work).

Cross your fingers for us....

P.S. No back pain complaints all week!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lithium: Not the miracle drug yet or...bipolar man goes to the zoo

Well, the part of me that wants to keep things "normal looking" wants to tell you that DH started his lithium and all has been well ever since.

But I have strived to be honest with you so here's what happened:

After the first two days, DH was getting out of bed and his depression was gone. I posted about that a little already. On days 4-6 he was doing very well, getting some things done around the house and not begging me for money all the time, and he was telling me, "I don't feel depressed at all. I don't feel excited/happy, still just kind of neutral. And I don't seem to have much appetite either."

It was a good start. His psychiatrist had started him off on 300mg twice a day, and then on April 1, if all goes well, he will be "upped" to 600mg twice a day. I was very hopeful. But then we went to the zoo.

DD had wanted to go to the zoo for a long time. So I told her that we would take her to the zoo as part of her 15th birthday present--she is going to be 15 next week!!! She was so excited about it. And when DH's mom (my mother in law) heard that we were going, she decided that she was going to come too. That made DD even more excited because she loves her "gramma".

So the day came to go to the zoo. I had worked the night before, and so the plan was that I would sleep until about 11am and then we would head out. The zoo is 2 hours away (as is everything, LOL) and so I couldn't sleep too long....in the meantime, DH's mom was going to take DH, DD, and Jim out to breakfast so the house would be peaceful for me. So they went out to breakfast. My mother in law (MIL) paid for breakfast. She bought DD two new pairs of tennis shoes that were on sale, too. She bought DH two 12-packs of pop.

Now, an aside: MIL is a very blunt person. She says what comes into her head with little regard for tact and often little regard for consequences. She has always been like this. When DH and I were first married, he used to always have to advise me to "take her with a grain of salt, because her ideas change like the wind." So I did. Sometimes she says things that inadvertently hurt feelings, but it's only because she doesn't think before she speaks and if she knew what she had really said, she would feel pretty bad. Anyhow, MIL keeping quiet about something is not the norm.

So....then after she bought all this stuff, DH asked her for some gas money. She said to him, "Why don't you get a job or apply for disability? You know you're lucky Carol hasn't left you yet, you've got to quit spending money like this."
And just like that, "That Guy" showed up. He stormed into the bedroom when he got home, woke me up to tell me what his mom had said. I reminded him to "take her with a grain of salt" and he said that he was trying.

So we went to the zoo. And "That Guy" came with. He was surly and sarcastic the whole time there. He wouldn't stop to look at things, he glanced at animals and walked ahead of us. I let him. I just pretended like "that guy" was someone else, and I was at the zoo with my family. Then DH wanted to take a picture of DD sitting on this wolf statue, but this other lady with about 6 little (under 7) kids was trying to do the same thing. So DH made a bunch of sarcastic remarks about how many kids she had and how they weren't letting others have a turn, I was mortified!!!!

So then we decided to have a cup of coffee and let DD and her friend (who had also come with) check out some baby animals a short distance away. While I was getting my ice cream (I don't drink coffee), DH decided to tell his mom how mean she was to say what she had said about me leaving him. And apparently he said some other things too, while I wasn't there. I heard enough when I got back to know that it was "That Guy" talking and not my DH. My DH loves his mom and would never talk to her like that. Then DH (That Guy) stormed out to wait for us in the car. I told my MIL to try hard to not take him personally (she knows he's been having problems but hasn't experienced "That Guy" yet). She seemed a little shocked, but she tried to let it go....

When we got home, DH said to me, "I need to call my mom." And I thought he was going to apologize, but apparently he just laid into her more and put her on a guilt trip too. I went into the bedroom and tried to keep myself from yelling at him because yelling at "That Guy" usually does more harm than good. I was sitting there when DH came into the room and he asked me what was wrong. I told him that I have a hard time knowing how to act when "That Guy" is so far out of line, because I know DH can't control "That Guy" but I was angry. So he asked me why, and I gave him some examples of his behavior that day. He broke down in tears. This was important, because it was the first time he had ever actually cried in front of me, usually he will let a tear seep out and then that's that. Anyhow, he told me that he wouldn't let his mom hug him when she left, and that he had said some awful things to her, and that he had even bad-mouthed her at his Emotions Anonymous meeting. He was still crying, so he begged me to call his mom and apologize, which I did.

When he got done crying, "That Guy" was gone, and DH was there again. We haven't talked much about that day, and apparently the lithium is still working, as DH is not depressed and is acting pretty close to normal for him now, so maybe the stress of having all those people going to the zoo and the relatively low dose of lithium allowed "That Guy" to break through....I don't know....I'm glad he's gone though....

And then last night, DH made a comment about how much more he's gotten done this week, and I told him "I hope we left "That Guy" at the zoo for good". DH laughed a little bitterly and said, "Oh no, he made it home all right, he was talking to my mom on the phone that night, remember?"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Make it go away

Well, I guess it's about time I told you what's been on my mind lately.

DH, by the way, has been more stable than he has been in months, and the depression is gone. He had a panic attack today, but no mood swings, and in general, I am confident that the Lithium has been helping big time.

But here's my thing: Last week, my boss at my part time job called me up and told me that they want me to work full time overnights for them. It's only 4 miles away from home. I was and am really excited about the prospect. And it's not hard work at all. And I really like the people I work for. In our economically depressed small town, a full time job is a big deal. They are very hard to come by. There are people who have worked at the local Hardees and the convenience stores for 15+ years, that's what it's like here, and that's why I drive 2 hours to my "main" job. Odds are, that whoever gets this job will keep it for years.

But, the thing is, I'm very sad to say, this job also pays half of what my "main" job pays. Now, some of that could be made up in reduced commuting costs, but the bottom line is, it's a huge pay cut. I am agonizing over this. There is no way I can quit my "main" job. Things are just too tight. So I've been mulling the possibility of me working both jobs full time for a while, but I don't think I can do it. I hate this. I've been hesitating to blog about it, because the more I think about it, the clearer it becomes to me that it isn't a realistic option right now. But I so much want it to be.....why on earth couldn't this have come up a month from now, when DH was doing even better than he is now, maybe even working, and I've had a chance to pay off some of these bills, argh. And I don't know for sure how the medical insurance is, and what kind of mental health coverage they have...that could be a deal-breaker no matter what. I have been hoping this job would open up....I just didn't want it to happen now.....and I also hate to let them down, they really want me to take it. But I don't think there's any way they could double my pay :-(

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bipolar Celebrities --rather surprising!

Link to original story
The Cost Of Creativity: Bipolar Disorder and the Stars
Stars Suffer the Ravages of Bipolar Disorder
ABC News Medical Unit
March 21, 2008 —

The stereotype of the tortured artist shows up often in popular culture: a frazzle-haired composer pacing about his room, a troubled starlet, a crazed novelist with a bad case of writer's block.

Along with that stereotype comes an assumption -- that the hyper highs and crushing lows that we witness in some of our celebrities is a sign of bipolar disorder.

In fact, it's rumored that many of the notable artists in history -- including Beethoven, Lord Byron and Charles Dickens -- suffered from the disorder.

"There is such a thing known as artistic temperament," said Dr. Igor Galynker, director of The Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and professor of clinical of psychiatry Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "And it's kind of conducive to creativity."

So might there be a bipolar "epidemic" among artists?

"It sort of makes intuitive sense," said Dr. Dost Ongur, clinical director of the schizophrenia and bipolar disorder program at McLean Hospital, a psychiatrist hospital in Belmont, Mass. "Some of the things that go into bipolar disorder on the manic side, some of the traits -- thinking fast, creativity, charisma, charm -- can be very positive."

But doctors are quick to note that the connection between celebrities and bipolar disorder isn't ironclad.

For instance, Galynker says that unusual behavior from some celebrities may be due to drug and alcohol use, but instead they get misdiagnosed with a mind disorder.

"It's the diagnosis du jour," Galynker said.

Furthermore, doctors note that it's hard to determine whether celebrities have bipolar disorder at any higher rates than the rest of the population.

"Just by chance, there's going to be 2 percent of people who have it [in any group of the population]," Ongur said.

Still, doctors admit that, for whatever reason, bipolar disorder seems to crop up more often in artists and celebrities.

The stars listed here have opened up about their struggles with bipolar disorder, revealing the inevitable highs and lows of this challenging condition.

Pete Wentz

Pete Wentz, 28, is the bassist for Grammy-nominated pop punk band Fall Out Boy. "Sugar, We're Goin Down," a single off the band's 2005 album, "From Under the Cork Tree," went to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, but the song's title parallels Wentz's battle with bipolar disorder.

"I have manic depression. I obsess over everything," Wentz told Britain's Q Magazine.

Wentz was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager. He also takes medication for anxiety and sleep.

In February 2005, Wentz passed out from an overdose of anxiety medications, although he denied that it was a suicide attempt.

"I was isolating myself further and further," Wentz told Rolling Stone Magazine. "And the more I isolated myself, the more isolated I'd feel. I wasn't sleeping. I just wanted my head to shut off, like, I just wanted to completely stop thinking about anything at all."

Wentz, who is in a relationship with pop singer Ashlee Simpson, seems to have his disorder under control, for the most part.

"When I am depressed, I can't get out of bed," Wentz said. "But right now, it's sunny and 65 in my head, so it's OK!"

Phil Spector

The producer of hits such as "Unchained Melody" and "Imagine" is known for his prolific career and disturbing behavior. Throughout his history of smash-hits and scandals, Spector says bipolar disorder has been a constant curse.

"I have a bipolar personality," Spector said in February 2002 interview with the London Daily Telegraph. "I'm my own worst enemy. I have devils inside that fight me."

Despite the devils, Spector is credited for reinventing American pop music, creating his signature "wall of sound" -- an orchestral, bombastic style found in songs like "Be My Baby" and "That Lovin' Feeling."

Spector's musical brilliance was been underscored with dark and erratic behavior.

His first wife, Veronica Bennet, claimed he kept her locked up in their mansion and threatened to kill her if she left him. Several musicians who worked with Spector spoke of how the producer had threatened them at gunpoint.

Spector says he has struggled with his bipolar disorder for 20 years.

On February 3, 2003, Spector was arrested and charged with murder in the killing of nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson. His subsequent trial ended with a hung jury. A second trial is scheduled for September 2008.

Linda Hamilton

Linda Hamilton morphed from shy waitress to tough-as-nails freedom fighter over the course of the blockbuster action movies "Terminator" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." But Hamilton found it far more difficult to fight off the demons in her personal life.

Hamilton suffered from manic-depressive episodes for 20 years before getting properly treated and calls the years from her 20s to her 40s her "lost years."

"In those 20 years, I did not know the meaning of the word 'hope,'" Hamilton told The Associated Press. "It was just a bleak, difficult existence."

Hamilton said her manic episodes drove much of her work early on, but the depression felt like falling into a manhole with no way out and pushed her to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

One of our doctors said treatment for bipolar does not reduce creativity. Still, Hamilton feared sacrificing her creativity for mental stability, a common reaction for many artistically inclined people with bipolar disorder.

"That is one of the most difficult things of treating bipolar disorder," Galynker said. "If someone is fantastically creative do you want to make them just averagely creative?"

But Hamilton said she was able to go through treatment without losing her creative streak.

"A lot of my early career was based on that angry woman that was just an organic outgrowth of the chemical imbalance that I had," Hamilton said. "And I thought, I'm going to become normal and I won't have those extraordinary gifts as an actress. There is nothing that has been diminished or dulled. I don't feel that any of my greatness has been covered over."

Richard Dreyfuss

Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss may be best known for playing the marine biologist who thought a scuba suit and shark cage could protect him from the hungry maw of "Jaws," but the famous actor's inner life is far more complex than that of the boyish character he made famous.

In a 2006 television documentary titled "The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" by British actor Stephen Fry, Dreyfuss was one of several actors who spoke extensively and frankly about his bipolar disorder. He told Fry that he been on lithium and other medications to level his mood.

Dreyfuss is not reticent about sharing his views on subjects like mental illness, religion and politics and he speaks frequently about civic duty. Still, it may be his openness about the stigmatized disorder that has made the most impact.

Margot Kidder

As Lois Lane, Margot Kidder played a vivacious journalist with a soft spot for Superman, played by Christopher Reeve, in the blockbuster films of the 1970s and 1980s. But even Superman could not save Kidder from her bipolar disorder.

Kidder said she was aware as early as 19 that her mood swings were intense enough to "knock over entire cities."

"But at that point, I don't know how much psychiatrists knew about manic depression. I know that I didn't know what to call it," Kidder said. "It wasn't my mood swings that alarmed me as much as the altered states that I would go into. I likened them to LSD trips without the LSD."

Kidder's drinking and occasional drug use masked her problem but in April 1996, she could not hide anymore. After disappearing for several days, Kidder made headlines when she was found dirty and dazed, hiding behind some bushes in a stranger's backyard.

Kidder was taken to the mental ward of a Los Angeles hospital for treatment, after which she went home to Canada to rest.

"I so don't want to cry, but it's the thing I have avoided and been terrified by and have demonized my whole life and it has done extraordinary damage to an awful lot of lives besides mine," Kidder said. "I've had an awful lot of highs and they were great. But the price I've paid for them is pretty tough to accept and I'm not -- I can't pay that price anymore."

Maurice Bernard

Soap opera stars rarely go through the same kind of life-altering dramas that their characters suffer through on TV -- the amnesia, the long-lost mothers, the unintentional marriages.

But Maurice Bernard, who plays a mob boss on "General Hospital," got to act out aspects of his own personal distress in the award-winning "Sonny Is Bipolar" story line.

In 2007, Bernard was honored by the Entertainment Industries Council with the first "Performance in a Daytime Drama" PRISM Award for his portrayal of bipolar disorder.

Bernard, 45, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (then called manic depression) at the age of 22 after a nervous breakdown and a stay in a mental hospital.

Since his 1993 start at "General Hospital," Bernard has had a few rough periods and even left the show in 1998.

In a 2007 interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Bernard described the importance of sticking to his medication.

"I flirt with not taking it -- but I'm not stupid, because every time I've gone off the medication, I've had a breakdown," he said.

Carrie Fisher

The actress and writer, known best for her role as the dauntless Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" trilogy, has had to deal with both the light and the dark sides of her psyche.

Fisher has suffered from bipolar disorder since her youth.

"I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital," Fisher told Diane Sawyer.

Fisher, the child of actors Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, had a tumultuous childhood. Her father ran away with Elizabeth Taylor when she was 2 years old, and Fisher began performing on stage at age 12.

While Fisher got a huge break in "Star Wars", her career did not take off, and she gradually developed a cocaine and alcohol addiction. All during this time, she struggled with her disorder.

"I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple -- just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully," said Fisher in a December 2000 interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News. "And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive."

However, after years of struggle and a breakdown that kept her in a hospital for two weeks, Fisher has come to terms with her condition.

"I outlasted my problems," Fisher said. "I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I'm still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you."

Stephen Fry

While the English actor and comedian imbued drollery into British TV favorites such as "Jeeves and Wooster" and "Black Adder," he's had to do it while dealing with bipolar disorder.

"I [suffer], according to a psychiatrist at least, from cyclothymia, which is sometimes called 'bipolar light,'" Fry said in a 2006 seminar at St. Andrew's University.

While Fry explained that his condition generally has less severe symptoms, he reached a dangerous low point in 1995, when he walked out of a play he was starring in and came very close to killing himself.

"I went into my garage, sealed the door with a duvet I'd brought and got into my car," the comedian said in a BBC documentary "Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive."

"I sat there for at least, I think, two hours in the car, my hands on the ignition key," he said.

After that, Fry was diagnosed with the bipolar disorder.

"I'd never heard the word before," Fry said in the documentary. "But for the first time, at the age of 37, I had a diagnosis that explains the massive highs and miserable lows I've lived with all my life."

Now, Fry uses his celebrity to create awareness about bipolar disorder.

"I'm in a rare and privileged position of being able to help address the whole business of stigma," Fry said in his documentary, "and why it is that the rest of society finds it so easy to wrinkle their noses... when confronted with an illness of the mind and of the mood -- especially when we reach out with such sympathy towards diseases of the liver or other organs that don't affect who we are and how we feel in quite such devastating complexity."

Burgess Meredith

Though he played the part of Rocky's iconic boxing trainer, Mickey, in "Rocky," Burgess Meredith might have needed some coaching of his own when dealing with his bipolar disorder.

Although younger generations may not recognize Meredith -- he died in 1997 -- he was well-known in his era, playing the Penguin in the 1966 "Batman" TV series and starring in the 1939 version of "Of Mice and Men."

He was also known in Hollywood for his violent mood swings and temperamental behavior. Rumored as woman-chaser, the actor married four times.

Meredith explained his changeable behavior in his autobiography, "So Far, So Good," writing that he was diagnosed with cyclothymia, a milder form of bipolar disorder.

Like many people who suffer from bipolar disorder, Meredith had a difficult childhood.

"All my life, to this day, the memory of my childhood remains grim and incoherent," Meredith wrote in his autobiography. "If I close my eyes and think back, I see little except violence and fear."

Apparently, abuse or neglect during early years can act as a trigger for the disorder.

"If you have the predisposition, you can become ill if there's a sufficient stress brought to bear on that situation," said Dr. C. Edward Coffey, professor of psychology and neurology and vice president for behavioral health services at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. "We know that kids that experience trauma when they're young -- that's going to disturb their balance and can lead to bipolar disorder [if they are predisposed]."

Dick Cavett

The clever talk show host and comedian may have appeared suave and self-assured on television, but there were times when Dick Cavett's mind was far from serene.

Cavett has openly talked about his struggle both with depression and bipolar disorder. He even did electroconvulsive therapy to help him treat his mind disorders.

"In my case, ECT was miraculous," Cavett said in a 1992 interview with People Magazine. "My wife was dubious, but when she came into my room afterward, I sat up and said, 'Look who's back among the living.' It was like a magic wand."

However, his illness still caused him some difficulty when he was sued for backing out of doing a nationally syndicated radio program in 1997. Cavett's lawyer told The Associated Press that the host had a manic depressive (bipolar) episode and was not able to fulfill the contract.

The case against Cavett was dropped. Since then, the actor has also helped to raise awareness by participating in a movie about mental illness called "A Patient's Perspective," produced by the Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association.

Patty Duke

The child actress-turned TV star has lived a life of extreme highs and lows, mirroring her struggle with bipolar disorder.

While Patty Duke won an Oscar at age 16 for her role as Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker," and fame from her TV series "The Patty Duke Show," her personal life was traumatic.

Her mother turned Duke over to the control of her managers, John and Ethel Ross, who abused and controlled Duke for most of her young adulthood. This abuse led to years of misery, addiction and broken relationships for Duke.

She also struggled, unknowingly with her bipolar disorder -- which she would not be diagnosed with until her 30s.

"Even now, it's weird to tell you what my reaction was. In my entire life I had heard the words 'manic-depressive' only three or four times -- in some completely unrelated way, certainly nothing to do with me," Duke writes in her autobiography, "A Brilliant Madness."

"But the words just made sense. As my psychiatrist said them, I remember nodding my head as if I had known this all along. They were the best two words I ever heard. They described how it felt to be me."

Duke now has control of her life and is informed about her disorder. In addition to authoring two books on her experience with bipolar disorder, she has become a spokeswoman and activist for mental health awareness.

Vivien Leigh

For those younger than 35 the name Vivien Leigh may draw a blank stare. But it was the beautiful, famously temperamental Leigh who played the breathless Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind."

She also played Blanche DuBois, the oversexed alcoholic in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Tragically her private life mirrored that of her Oscar-winning roles.

Leigh was reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, characterized by extreme highs and lows, a disorder that could be seen as a metaphor for some of the external circumstances in her life.

Her unhappy childhood in India was spent in a convent boarding school and her two marriages ended unhappily. Besides battling alcoholism and what was then known as manic depression, she died of tuberculosis at 53.

On the other hand, she was known internationally as one of the most beautiful women in the world. She was also lauded for her talent. She won Oscars for her roles in "Gone with the Wind" and "Streetcar" and played opposite acting greats Sir Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable and Marlon Brando.

Leigh married Olivier in 1940. In his autobiography, Olivier described her disorder in the poetic way one might expect from the famous actor: "Throughout her possession by that uncannily evil monster, manic depression, with its deadly ever-tightening spirals, she retained ... an ability to disguise her true mental condition from almost all except me."

Lauren Cox contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Two days on Lithium

Kirby puppy, our blue-heeler mix, age 15

Well, today, DH got up at 5am and let the dogs out.
Then, apparently Kirby's 15 year old puppy tummy wasn't all that fond of the corned beef he got yesterday, Kirby left a little present on the laundry room floor. DH said "I see someone had an upset tummy, huh?" No anger, just a matter of fact, then a cleanup. I still just thought that it was just a better day than usual, in fact, I had kind of forgotten about the Lithium, until I was expecting him to be angry with me because "MY" dog had diarrhea on the floor....but he didn't say anything. That's when I started to wonder.

DH went to his therapy appointment and came back afterwards. I asked him how he felt.

"Weird. Really weird."
"What do you mean? Are you feeling suicidal?"
"No, I mean, I don't know....it's like....the depression is there, but somehow it can't get all the way in....and I don't feel very motivated, it's like that can't get in either. I just feel.....kind of neutral." "Kind of jittery, but kind of neutral." "I don't remember this feeling, it's kind of weird."

And then he told me that he was sad that I was going to work, but he was kind of excited because he knew he'd be able to surprise me with a super-clean house.

Draw your own conclusions. I'm afraid to draw mine. I've been hopeful too many times before.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Ok, well, maybe I have some strong feelings about this, LOL. Today, DH went to see his nurse practitioner that prescribes his meds. And today she was joined by a real psychiatrist from out of town via webcam (really cool). DH was equipped with a lengthy letter from me describing all the ups and downs just like I've described them here for you. All the hope, all the depression, the spending, the anger, the back pain, all of it was in there. And I wrote it in a way that only said what had happened, not how I thought or felt about it, just my observations was all.

DH reported the following:
The psychiatrist feels that all the people who have thought that DH's problem was mainly depressive, with "a little bipolar" (that's what his therapist says)....and the hospital last year, and all the people since them (ok, the psychiatrist didn't say anything about all the other people, that was my thought, LOL)....well, he believes that DH has full-fledged bipolar and it is severely uncontrolled. And that perhaps some of his current meds are contributing to the problem, because they have tended to focus on the depression and not recognize the mood swings as much as they should have.

Ok. Well, duh, I have been telling them that since the very first time that DH saw a Dr. about his depression, way before all the spending, way before all the stuff I'm having such a tough time handling.....all the "experts", when I brought it up, tended to discount my ideas, because he didn't have full-fledged mania, where he believed that Jesus was sending messages via CB radio or whatever. I got the idea that basically, even though I went to Google, typed in all of his symptoms and always came up with "Bipolar", that I was one of those "know-it-alls" who do too much thinking and that I should leave it to the people who know what they're talking about. So I did. After all, I don't know anything about bipolar, really, and if the therapist says he's "only a little bipolar", well, who am I to quibble?????

But I'm not at all bitter at having spent the last year and a half trying to get DH better without them treating him adequately for the main problem, am I?

So they have finally put him on Lithium. Finally. When DH first started taking Prozac, it was for mood swings. So was the Lamictal (that was for the "little bit of bipolar"). The things I have been reading about Lithium give me some superb hope that maybe this was the answer all along. I'm angry that it took this long. But I did read that it takes the average bipolar patient 18 months to get the correct diagnosis....I guess we're right on schedule, right?

Yay us....the psychiatrist says we should know in a week if the Lithium is helping, and he is going to see DH again in 2 weeks to evaluate.

After reading on WebMD about Lithium, I'm really excited. And kind of afraid to be excited. And kind of mad. And kind of relieved. And a little hopeful. And kind of feeling a little foolish, too, for leaving things to the "experts".

What a jumble of feelings I have about all of this.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Let me tell you about my day.....

I got off work from my one job at 8am. I got home at about 8:45. I went home, DH was already up. That seemed rather promising. And he had his contacts in, too. In fact, he was ready to go to Spenders. So I took Molly McMutt to bed with me, Charlie Meow, Elmo Meow, Ninja Meow, and Shasta Meow. We had quite a pile of fur! I'd be completely lost without my animals. Their love keeps me going most days....

Anyhow, at 2pm, DH woke me up and told me this: "I got to Spenders, the meeting was good, everything was fine, and I was driving, and the sky was blue, and I was feeling better, and decided to stop and get breakfast at Embers." (very unfrugal, I thought, but I didn't say it out loud to him) "And on the way home, I got so sad again. I'm so down, Carol, and I don't know why! And I don't know what to do." "I can't even smile."

I started asking him if he had any idea of what brought it on, could something have happened in Spenders that hadn't hit him until later? No. How about at the restaurant? No. Then maybe it's just that your subconscious thinks I'm depressing?" (I was trying to be kind of funny and a little serious) "NO. YOU'RE NOT LISTENING. YOU'RE DOING THE MAN THING. TRYING TO SOLVE IT. SOMETIMES ALL I WANT YOU TO DO IS LISTEN." Me: Ok, I'm sorry, I didn't realize. Go on, I'll listen, I promise. "No, I'm done now." Me: (in my head) "I SO MUCH don't have any desire at all to sit here and listen to how miserable you are AGAIN. And over and over. And how you can't possibly try anything to alleviate it." (but I didn't say that, of course.)

So then I went back to sleep for an hour, then I got up, fed the ducks and chickens. I was still kind of mulling over that conversation with DH, and trying to guard one of the roosters (whose foot got frostbite over the winter, and the other chickens don't think he should be allowed to live) to make sure he got enough to eat, and DD tried to follow me into the pen. "Don't come in here, please, I need some alone time," I said. She got this hugely offended look on her face, like I had just said "I can't stand the sight of you and never will," or something to that magnitude, and went in the house. I then went to my mom's to set up her pills and give her a hug. Then I went to work at my job that is 90 miles away, because I didn't get my work finished yesterday. While I was there, DH called me, he had decided to GO TO THE BAR. Because whatever DD had reported to him about what I had said to her, somehow it convinced him that I didn't love him any more and he got more and more depressed and then decided to get drunk. Major red flag, of course. I wasn't even actually mad at anyone, and I've been extremely mad (verifiable) at DH at times in the last year of so, and he hasn't felt like he needed to go get drunk...to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't gone to the bar for months. Anyhow, I told him what I had said to DD, and convinced him that I wasn't mad. So he went home. Still depressed, though, and still wondering if he should head to the hospital. I know he has an appointment with the nurse practitioner who prescribes his meds on Tuesday, so maybe we can just hold out until then.....?

Anyhow, after that, I had to quick finish my work up, and run to my other job to work the overnight. And DH is still depressed. And not willing to try anything to get himself in a better place. And that was my wonderful day, folks....sigh....Oh, and did I mention that his back pain is getting worse again? Hmmmm.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Did you ever have one of these conversations?

DH: I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm so down.
Me: You can't think of any reason for this, huh?
DH: No, I just haaaave nooooo eneerrrrgy.....
Me: Can you try some of the things you learned in therapy?
DH: I listened to a song, it didn't work.
Me: What else could you try?
DH: I don't know.
Me: Maybe you could walk down to the mailbox and back, try to get some fresh air and exercise.
DH: I don't think I can.
Me: Could you go out into the living room and turn on the radio and just listen?
DH: No, they've got the TV on out there.
Me: Could you try to journal?
DH: No, the laptop is in the living room.
Me: Could you try to do something for five minutes, just to see if it makes you feel better?
DH: It won't.
Me: Maybe you should call your Spenders leader (he's in the hospital right now) and tell him you're thinking of him.
DH: Yeah, I should do that.
DH: I just don't know what to do.
Me: Do you need to go to the hospital?
DH: I don't know.
Me: Maybe you should call them.
DH: Theyll tell me to come in.
Me: Can you call the crisis line?
DH: They don't care about me.
DH: I'll just let you go.

Some free magazines for you....

I haven't been able to afford a magazine subscription for quite a while, but I do get some good free ones....here are some free subscriptions you can sign up for, if you like!

Lucky Magazine
(For rewardsgold you usually have to fill out some kind of a survey, but the magazines do come!

Bassmaster, Radar, Computer Shopper, and Vibe (click here)

Home Magazine

I would recommend that you use an alternative email when you sign up for these, though, because sometimes you can get overrun with "offers" otherwise. Happy reading!

I guess it's not the Effexor....Bipolar sucks!!

I guess it's just more of the bipolar ups and downs that I keep seeing. And the "ups" get me hopeful, and the "downs" crush me, disgust me, make me furious....

Today I talked to him, he hasn't been out of bed yet, except to go to the store to see if they had a better mirror to help him put in his contacts. He told me he fell asleep in the truck in the driveway. And he doesn't know why he's so depressed. I still could barely understand what he was saying, it sounded like he had a mouthful of toilet paper. But what I got was, he's basically been in bed all day. He's really depressed. He's worthless. I should leave him (per DH). But please don't leave (again per DH). No, nothing happened. He has no idea why he's feeling like this. He doesn't know if we need to call someone. No, he hasn't talked to the mental health worker yet.

Time out, ok, he just called me again. Remember he had that money from cashing in all of those cans? Well, apparently he couldn't wait to spend it, so he drove his truck (that gets 10 miles to the gallon) to WalMart, which is 30 miles away from home, to get a mirror so that he could put in his contacts, which, as a former contact lens wearer (I had the LASIK surgery in 1998) I know isn't going to help much, if at all, and a pair of sunglasses. Neither of which was so urgent that he should spend $18+ in gas money to travel to get them, and he couldn't afford that anyhow. I am not going to be angry, I am not going to be angry.....

Things change around here faster than I can even type in this blog. And I feel so helpless sometimes. He's apparently out "spending away" while I'm sitting here working, and I can't stop him, and it's pretty clear that he's making poor choices again, and now I'm wondering if he'll be able to handle that job when it starts, too. I used to be a happy person. But now all of this is so draining.

And you know what else? I think, that no matter what the "professionals" are telling him/us about his bipolar, if this (all these good days followed by crashes) is going on, then he is not stable. Things are better than they used to be. But that's not saying much. And I don't know what to expect from one minute to the next. I just feel like we can do better than this, for sure. But that case manager hasn't called me back, and I've called three times, and actually talked to him once in person, explained the situation and what we might need, and nothing. And the resources in our town are so limited, I have no idea how to handle this at all.

Overstock CEO really knows what's going on....

Here is a link to a post made by the CEO of Overstock.com. He explains things very very well, probably the best explanation of our country's financial "house of cards" that I've heard lately. I know this is a blog dedicated to Bipolar, but that's not the only thing I pay attention to!

Link to actual article

Umbrellas, Casinos, and the End of the World as We Know It
February 15th, 2008 by Patrick Byrne, Overstock.com

I will begin this preamble to the subject systemic risk with two quotes from Warren Buffett (by quoting him I do not mean to imply his support in these efforts of mine):

Of excess leverage in the system, Mr. Buffett has said, “No one knows who’s been swimming naked until the tide goes out.”
Mr. Buffett calls derivatives, “financial weapons of mass destruction.”
I would like to explore the meaning of this in the context of unsettled trades in our nation’s settlement system.

Mark Twain said, “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

Consider this scenario:

I loan you an umbrella.
You use that umbrella as collateral to borrow 5 more from someone else.
You take the 6 umbrellas and loan them out to your 6 brothers.
Each of your six brothers now has one umbrella. Each uses that umbrella as collateral with which to borrow 5 more. Each brother now has 6 umbrellas, and loans them out to 6 of his friends.
Each of those (6 brothers) X (6 friends each) = 36 friends now has one umbrella. Each uses that umbrella as collateral with which to borrow 5 more.
There are now 6 X 6 X 6 = 216 umbrellas in all.
It starts to rain.

I go to you and say, “I need back that umbrella I loaned you.”
You say, “But that was collateral for the 5 I borrowed! If I have to return your umbrella, I’ll also have to return the other 5 I borrowed using your umbrella as collateral.”
So you go to your six brothers and say, “I need those six umbrellas back!”
Each brother says, “But I used that umbrella as collateral for 5 more!” So they go out to get each of their six umbrellas back by going to their 36 friends and saying, “We need our umbrellas back!”
And so on and so forth. It is easy to see how this situation, where balancing upon one umbrella were 216 borrowed and reborrowed umbrellas, could unravel in a chain reaction of “unborrowing” and returning of umbrellas.

Remove “umbrellas” in the above example and replace it with “dollars,” and you get a good image of excess leverage in our financial markets, and one of systemic failure as well.

How could the government stop this collapse? In the umbrella example, the government would take truckloads of umbrellas and inject them into the umbrella market (perhaps by loaning them out at low rates) so as to slow down and even stall that chain reaction. In the example of our financial system, the government would do it by taking truckloads of dollars and injecting them into the capital market.

This is exactly what the government has been doing for over a year. The broadest measure of the money supply is called, “M3.” The government reported the rate of change in M3 since 1959. After reporting M3 for 47 years, in March 2006 the government stopped disclosing M3. From other numbers that are disclosed by the Federal Reserve, however, it is possible to back into M3. An economist named John Williams does just that on the Shadow Government Statistics website. According to Mr. Williams’ calculations, the rate of expansion in M3 has reached 16.7% - higher than at any time since they started reporting it (the last time it reached 16%, Nixon reacted by instituting wage and price controls).

That is problematic because (very roughly speaking) the growth in money supply will equal inflation plus growth in US productivity (along with other factors like velocity and number of transactions: that is why I say “roughly). According to the Fed, productivity is growing at just under 3%. If money supply growth stays gunned at 16%, underlying inflation will heat up over 10%, at which point the dollar will crack some more, at which point interest rates will be hiked into the high teens in order to tempt foreigners to continue loaning us money to subsidize our fiscal and current account deficits, at which point we will be thrust into an inflationary recession that makes the early 1970’s look like a Sunday picnic.

That is to say, massive amounts of liquidity are being injected into the US financial markets to keep it from imploding. This will lead to inflation (”Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon,” wrote Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz) then a recession.

Or not, if, as some believe, M3 is too volatile to worry about.

The “rain cloud” which was the proximate cause of this situation was the home mortgage crisis that began to be exposed in the summer of 2007. People bought homes with borrowed money for which they signed IOU’s (“mortgages”). Those IOUs were aggregated and resold, chopped up, packaged and resold again to firms which borrowed even more on top of them. Unfortunately, since everyone in the chain made money from fees charged for that aggregation, chopping and packaging, they had incentives not to notice that many of the folks underneath it all were signing IOU’s they would not be able to repay. Once they stopped paying their mortgages (i.e., once those “umbrellas” started to be recalled), the system started to collapse on itself. A coordinated effort by the largest central banks in the world injected money into the financial markets to stop a runaway implosion such as that described in the umbrellas example above.

There are numerous articles out there explaining the mortgage crisis in far greater detail than the above. I present this explanation for three reasons only.

The first is to provide the lay reader with the mental imagery by which to conceive of a systemic collapse.
The second is so that I could point out that the mortgage crisis was the rain cloud that triggered the current crisis, but it may not be the only rain cloud. Lots of storms have more than one rain cloud.
Third, the rain cloud is not the same thing as the underlying situation. It is merely the trigger which has caused an unhealthy underlying situation to manifest. It is important to understand not just the trigger but also that underlying situation: tremendous amounts of systemic leverage are, in the end, a giant confidence game (in the most literal sense), and if that confidence is disrupted the system can implode. What disrupts that confidence may be nothing more than a sudden, broad realization that more leverage has accumulated than has been generally understood, perhaps by accumulating in such a way that no one recognized it for what it is. I will argue in future posts that this is precisely what unsettled trades in our stock settlement system create.
Again, that third point is key: recognize that the mortgage crisis, while real, is a trigger but not the underlying situation. The dancer is different than the dance.

I would like to switch metaphors now, to discuss derivatives.

I ask you to imagine a special casino. On the ground floor, it looks like a normal casino. There are 100 people standing around playing craps, roulette, and blackjack. They each brought $10,000 so there is $1 million of betting on the first floor.

On the second floor, however, there is another casino. In that casino, people are watching television screens showing people gambling on the first floor. In the second floor casino, people bet each other on who they think is going to win and lose on the first floor. All the really big players are in that second floor casino, and they are betting hundreds of millions of dollars of action on various people in that first floor casino. Their outcomes are “derivative” of the outcomes on the first floor. A roll of the dice on the first floor that loses someone $100 may create tens of thousands of dollars of losses on the second floor (and if there is a third floor where people are placing even bigger bets on the outcomes on the second floor….)

I will argue that unsettled trades in the financial system bear the characteristics of such derivatives. However, they present a special kind of derivative. If you and I walk into the first floor casino and bet on whether the next roll of the dice is a 7 or not, no amount of betting on our part can affect the underlying event. Similarly, the underlying event will not be affect by any amount of betting by the people above us on the second floor (or by betting on them by people on the third floor).

Unsettled stock trades, however, can affect the underlying events upon which they are a bet. In fact, unsettled trades resulting from “the option market maker exception” are often the by-product of deliberate efforts to affect those underlying events. When an underlying event that someone deliberately affects is a stock price movement, it used to be called, “manipulation” (and was also called “illegal” until Wall Street captured the SEC, at which time it became known as, “a hedge fund business model”).

Because unsettled trades have this property of affecting the underlying events upon which they are a bet, they are derivative contracts with an especially nasty twist.

I tell you, that guy Buffett will go places.

PS Again, because I wish neither to imply support for or endorsement of my views, I am going to give one additional quote, without comment. In May, 2007 Messieurs Buffett and Munger were asked to comment on the issues I am raising here in Deep Capture. Mr. Munger’s response was as follows (page 6): “Those delays in delivering sometimes reflect tremendous slop in the clearance process. It is not good for a civilization to have huge slop. Sort of like how it isn’t good to have a lot of slop in nuclear power plants.”

Riding the roller coaster of bipolar

Well, I thought that this post was going to be a very hopeful and good post!

Here are some things that have been going on with DH and me in the last couple of days:

1) He has started to be willing to drink water(!) Can you believe that? And when he is drinking pop, he's been willing to have me buy the .67 2-liter bottles from WalMart, instead of the $4.50 12-packs from the C-store. Way, way cool and easy on the budget, too!

2) DH may have gotten a real job!! Driving a truck full of Anhydrous Ammonia (used in fertilizer, I think) in our rural area. It's a seasonal job, but he was told that he "could start in April, if he wants to." So that is extremely promising!

3) He cleaned up all the pop cans out of the yard. Between those and the ones that actually made it into the recycling, he got $67 for cashing them in and was very proud of the fact that I didn't have to buy him cigs. Me too!!!!

4) Several times this week, things have happened that normally would have provoked a mood swing or "That Guy" to come out. And DH managed to stay calm and also keep his sense of humor too. Just like a normal DH!!! One of those times involved DH's new contact lenses, he had quite a bit of trouble putting them in, and instead of having a mood swing, he just said "I'm really frustrated right now" but he didn't get that cold "That Guy" sound in his voice, and as soon as he did get the contacts in, he was absolutely fine and kind of excited. All the emotions that I saw him experience were what I would say very normal considering what was going on at the time.

5) DH expressed an interest in my "needs" and how I "deserve" to do something for myself once in a while.

6) He cleaned the entire house.

And on a rather unrelated note, Jim offered to buy DH a new-to-him car. But I won't believe that until it's actually bought...

So all in all, it's been a very good week, and I'm very inclined to think that the increased dose of Effexor is doing something. And I'm very excited about that!!!

But then tonite he called and he's back down again. He's so depressed he went for a drive and he's still depressed. Because he is having trouble putting in his new contacts in again. Only this time, "That Guy" came out and told him he can't do anything right. So he called me up, and he's so depressed I can barely understand a word he's saying :-(

And then he told me that he and Jim had an argument about Jim not letting the dogs out. (so does that mean no car? LOL) I've come to the conclusion that it's Jim's not-very-smart-or-helpful way of trying to get DH to do something he should be doing, instead of assuming someone else will take care of it, which has pretty much been his approach towards everything in the last year or so. But DH doesn't see that, and I'm hoping he tries to ask Jim about it when he's in a better place, so they can get past this....

I told him to take a Lorazepam and try to get himself back to a "good" place, and he told me he would, then when I called him back an hour later, he still hadn't done anything. I'm really angry at bipolar right now, everything was going so good!!!!

But....his therapist did find out that DH qualifies for a "Mental Health Worker" through the county at no cost to us....I don't really know how that works, since we have insurance....anyhow, supposedly this person is going to help DH get going on a lot of the things he hasn't been getting around to. That's hopeful, too.

Well, there you go, another day (or two) on the bipolar roller coaster.....I just wish I could get off and stand on solid ground for a while....

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mourning the impending loss of a constant in my life...

In 1989, when I was getting ready to graduate from college and move into the "real" world, I had one goal. I wanted a white cat with blue eyes. That was all. My apartment was selected solely because I would be allowed to have a cat. And of course in all my fantasies, it was a white cat with blue eyes....

And, about a week after I graduated, while I was still getting settled in my very first apartment, I was visiting an acquaintance whose cat had just had kittens. She was annoyed by the fact that nobody seemed to want the last one. She said some unflattering things about the kitten. It wasn't white and didn't have blue eyes. As a matter of fact, it was rather regular looking, just a tabby cat....

Now, lest you think that this story is about me losing my cat, well, I have to tell you ahead of the rest of the story, that Tilly, that kitten, lived to the age of 18 and went to heaven last year. She was very much loved. I am mostly ok with that now. She lived a good life and had the very best care. From the start, and throughout her life. And that's kind of what this story is about.

Let me explain. My first apartment was in an inner city neighborhood, and I didn't know much about cats at all, but I knew they had to get shots, so I brought her in to the closest vet. A rather youngish, red-haired veterinarian gave Tilly her first shots. I thought nothing of it, but he seemed very compassionate. He was the first and only vet I had ever met at that time.

About 6 months later, I was driving home from work on a windy fall night, when, in front of my apartment, a white grocery bag blew in front of my car. I didn't want to hit it, for some reason, so I swerved, and saw that it wasn't a bag, it was a kitten. A white kitten with blue eyes, no less. And he was starving to death. I immediately (the next day) took the kitten in to the vet. The red-haired vet told me the kitten was a Siamese mix and "you got him at a good price", he said. LOL....that was Que-Queek (his name started out as Squeak and was changed due to baby talk by his kitty mom). When I brought Que-Queek back to the vet for his booster shots, I found out that the nice red-haired vet was just the vet that filled in when the regular vet wanted a day off.

As I learned more about cats, I eventually started to show my cats as "Household Pets" in local cat shows. One day, a red-haired man stopped to chat and lo and behold, it was my vet, and he remembered my two kittens by name! I learned where his regular clinic was and did nothing else about that. I continued to go to the "regular" vet near my house.

But one day, Tilly was hiding. And when I found her, she was all swollen up, her face was swollen, and her legs were swollen. The regular vet had no idea what the problem was and prescribed antibiotics that didn't work. Then I remembered that the red-haired vet had said that he had a cats-only clinic, so I thought, "maybe if he's seen a lot of cats, he's seen this problem, too." It took about a five-minute exam and he told me that Tilly had pemphigus, an uncommon autoimmune disease. A biopsy proved that he was correct, he prescribed effective treatment, and it was at that time that I learned that my red-haired vet, Dr. S., was actually one of the leading feline experts in the state.

So I started to go to his clinic when I had a situation that I felt could not be handled by a regular vet. And he never let me down. A couple of years later, Tilly had to have bladder stone surgery. Dr. S. did it. My cat Boris, who was about 14 years old at the time, developed some complex medical problems and Dr. S. treated him until Boris went to heaven.

When Que-Queek developed kidney failure at age 14, I had moved 90 miles away from Dr. S.'s clinic, but we drove down to Dr. S., because Dr. S. had a blood pressure machine for cats, and I felt it was an important part of treatment anyhow. Dr. S. always had the best technology and so much compassion, it was worth it. Que-queek died at age 15. Dr. S was always honest and straightforward about his condition and what he thought I should be doing (i.e., was it time yet?)

For the most part, after that, I resigned myself to going to the local vet here in town. After all, 90 miles is a long way to go in a car with an upset and/or sick kitty.

But then Charlie got sick. To understand the magnitude of this, you have to know that in our house, there is no other animal more revered than Charlie Meow. An orange and white beat-up old tom cat, he is the most gentle, laid back, cuddly cat I have ever met. And he reads people extremely well. I had found Charlie a couple of years before on the side of the road, with some health problems that the vet in town easily fixed. He slept right next to the food bowl for about 6 months after he came to live with us (he was so afraid that the food was going to disappear), and he has always been extremely grateful to have a home. And I can tell you that that cat is something very special. He is always on the lookout for an empty lap. He comes when he's called. And when someone cries, he's right there, trying to comfort them. Even if you're upset, but not crying, Charlie knows. And it wouldn't be bedtime without Charlie Meow all snuggled up... Yet he rules the house with an iron paw and doesn't take any carp from the other cats at all. We all love him so very much. Even the dogs think highly of him!

But he was sick. Suddenly one day, he started retching, like he was going to cough up a hairball, but he couldn't stop retching. He retched and retched until he vomited. We waited until the next day to worry, he vomited again and was still retching. One of the vets in town thought it was asthma. I hoped they were right, but I knew they weren't. But they didn't have an endoscope to see if there was some other problem....that particular vet basically thought we would be better served by spending money on some other cat(!) But this was Charlie, so something had to be done. The vet told me to bring him to the university, 100 miles away. I set out to go there, then I remembered Dr. S.'s clinic. He saved Charlie's life and it was very touch and go for quite a while, he had a severe problem with his esophagus. Dr. S. actually was in daily contact with the university, making sure that he wasn't overlooking anything. He came in to the clinic on Saturdays and Sundays and called to give me daily updates, even when the clinic was closed. He invited me to visit Charlie on a daily basis. And Charlie is still with us today. I sent a thank-you card to Dr. S. for saving Charlie. Even DH still talks about that time, when we didn't know if Charlie would come home or not....he was in the hospital for 3 weeks!!!

Anyhow, what this story really is, is that Dr. S. has been a part of my life and a part of my cats' lives for coming up on 20 years now. I've always known that he was there for my tough cases, and I always knew that he would never say, "You know, maybe you should just get another cat.", which was actually said to me by one of the veterinarians in town (I prefer not to deal with her any more if I can see someone else.)

Dr. S. has always taken care of my cats as if they were his own, and with that much passion and tenderness. I have been proud to have Dr. S. as a wonderful resource for my cats for so many years.

But on Saturday, I got an invitation that said this:
"[Dr. S.' Clinic] is holding an open house on April 5, from 1pm to 3pm."

Not unusual. They've had open houses before, to show people what they do and such....and sometimes special open houses just for kids, too.

And I read the back of the card when I got inside the house:
"To say farewell to Dr. S. as he is leaving the clinic he founded and has led for many years. He will be continuing to utilize his veterinary skills in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Please come and wish him good luck."

I broke down in tears. How could he leave all of his patients behind??? I can't even fathom it. And his staff. Some of his staff have actually been with him for all 20 of those years, too....those poor people....oh dear...I can't even get my mind around it. It's like he died, almost. Worse, because this is something he's choosing to do.

And DH, when I told him that Charlie's vet was going to Michigan (and DH is aware that Dr. S. has been in my life longer than almost anyone, and did understand why I was crying), said, "Well, you know, if Charlie gets sick again, we are just going to have to drive to Michigan, then, because we can't let anything happen to Charlie."

I know that things change. And I know that Dr. S. must have agonized over this decision, too, even though the card in the mail doesn't tell me so, I know he has loved every cat that came in to that clinic, and put his heart and soul into helping them all. So he must have an important dream to follow. And I understand that, in my head, anyhow.

But the selfish part of me hopes it doesn't work out or that maybe he'll change his mind.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Is it the Effexor?

Hi again!
If you remember, a few weeks ago, maybe three, the nurse practitioner that prescribes DH's meds decided that his depression merited an increase in his Effexor CR. At the time, and up to right about now, things have been tough. Lots of lying in bed (him, LOL) and lots of him thinking about how worthless he is and how I'd be better off without him.

Cut to yesterday, it was a very nice day!!!

The first thing that happened was, DH decided to take DD car shopping. (Did I hear you go "oh no, how could that possibly go well?") He called me and asked me if he could take some money out of my change jar for gas. I started to do the "oh no, here we go again" thing in my head, and I told him this: "No, that change jar is only for emergencies. A car is not an emergency. You've got a vehicle. Two, actually. (it sounds like the car that was "totalled" might be fixable) And I don't think that you should go car shopping. You are going to go to that car lot, see something you like, get 'new car fever' and want it really bad. Then, when I tell you no, we can't afford that, you will get angry with me." I expected some kind of argument, it just seems like the way things go when DH wants to spend money in a stupid way, but he said, "ok, we'll just go get a movie (the movie store rents movies for a dollar)." Wow.

As if that wasn't enough, I took the night off from work, as I had to get up early today to attend my nephew's 3rd birthday party. So I was driving home, and I called DH and told him I needed to get cat and dog food at WalMart (30 miles away from home, but on the way home from work). He said "Well, maybe we could go together, after DD is in bed." I thought that was weird. He hasn't willingly gone anywhere with me like that for probably a year. No exaggeration.

But, I bypassed WalMart (knowing that an extra trip to WalMart was going to cost two gallons of gas) and went on home anyhow. I got DD into bed, and DH still wanted to go with me. So we left DD a note in case she woke up, and locked up, and left. On the way there, the conversation was very pleasant. We got to WalMart, and I was mildly dreading "That Guy" showing up and wanting to go shopping....especially after the car lot thing. It was very clear that DH still has no control over his wants and needs, holy cow! Every stupid thing that looked like it was on sale was something we suddenly needed. Cereal (so he could eat it dry in bed again). Toothpaste. Fitness water (yes--if you knew how fit both of us are, you would laugh even more). We set out to pick out a birthday present for the birthday boy. We settled on coloring books and crayons. The thing is, that DH wanted to buy about a dozen jumbo coloring books for the kid, and a HUGE carton of crayons. So I had to have him put some of the coloring books back, and finally convinced him nicely that a three year old is not going to be needing six different shades of "light blue". LOL. But it was fun, because he had a good humor about it all. Like he knew that he needed my help with this stuff, and he was ok with that. And not only was he ok with it, he found his troubles kind of amusing. And that made it fun. Just like my "real" DH.

We left WalMart with exactly what we had gone there for: pet food, pop, and two pairs of $10 jeans for DH (the thrift store where I had been buying his jeans for $1.99 and $2.99 a pair had suddenly decided that someone might actually pay $14.99 for a USED pair of jeans). So WalMart suddenly was a bargain. That was fun...

Then on the way home, DH said to me: "I've got to find some ways to spend time with DD. I haven't been a very good father." That was an astonishing revelation, coming from him. It was a very fun evening. I really wanted to let my guard down, but after all this time, I know better than to think that this kind of thing will keep on.

Then today, I could tell things weren't as great as they were yesterday, but here's something incredible: Next week, DH is going to lead the Spenders meeting, as the regular leader is having surgery. So DH met with the leader of the Spenders group and got the literature, and the materials and the key to the church where the meetings are held. And a little advice on how to lead the meeting. I think this will be great for his self esteem, by the way....anyhow, DH said this: "he (the leader) gave me the folder with all the materials in it. And when I opened the one book, there was a bunch of cash in there from the collection basket, I think. So I told him that I wasn't comfortable with that cash, and could he please keep it, as I still have temptations and don't want to let him down."

Now isn't that cool?

I'm so glad that some days are good like these. You must be just as crazy as I am with all these ups and downs, I don't know what's going on for real half the time!!! Anyhow, I was thinking that maybe the additional Effexor could be bringing about a change. I'm really really hoping for it, the possibility that it could be his med causing this is more hopeful than just thinking it's a fluke. Cross your fingers, ok?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Small world, of course....

Tonite DH had to go to a "class" for people who write bad checks. If he didn't attend this class, a warrant would be issued for his arrest for the bad checks he wrote in our county (and I still had to pay for them, to keep him out of jail...)

Anyhow, he went to this class, and there was someone there that he used to work with, and she was telling him what the former coworkers were supposedly saying about DH, and that really upset him, and I think it would upset a stable person.

I so much wish he was strong and healthy so that he/we could take that place to court. They really did some awful things to him, and, although I am sure I don't know the whole story, I know that the things that I know for sure, and aren't in question, are/were illegal. But I'm thinking that the statute of limitations has run out already, or will be running out soon, and we already paid $2500 for an attorney who was recommended to us by someone we thought was trustworthy, and the attorney didn't do anything at all except spend the money. And DH was going through his worst crisis at the time, and couldn't and didn't follow up on things, and I didn't know at the time, that he truly COULDN'T do it, and I thought that he just "didn't get around to it", so I never did anything either. And I think now that it's too late. So I just keep telling DH that karma will take over, we might not know when, but they will get what they have coming to them....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's Pouring!

When it rains, it pours, isn't that how it goes? Well, on top of DH's depression lately, tonite he called me at work to tell me that he totalled his car. He hit a deer about a mile away from home. And Jim, who had just returned a few hours prior, was with him, and DH was SO ANGRY WITH JIM!!! It seems Jim hollered to DH to watch for the deer on the side of the road, and DH took his eyes off the road and the deer walked out in front of them. I tried to tell him that Jim was only trying to help, and all that, but I don't know how much of his depressed anger ended up getting directed at Jim anyhow.....I'm ready for Jim to leave for another few years (that's how long it was since we saw him last, before his extended stay at our house...)...I just want to be able to talk with DH in the kitchen without having to beckon him into the bedroom....and I want to be able to sleep on the couch with a roaring fire in the fireplace....well, it's getting a little late for that now...but this year is the first winter ever where I was unable to do that even one time, because Jim was always in the living room.

Anyhow, so DH's car is totalled. It still drives, but that's about all he can say. He says the hood is all crumpled up, the doors won't open, and the windshield broke, etc....I told him to bring it to the mechanic tomorrow anyhow, just to see if maybe they can fix the damage cheaply....if not, maybe they'll have wind of a cheap car...

DH kept saying "What am I going to drive?" "What am I going to drive?" I reminded him that I work nights, so for his daytime appointments, he could take my car, which is something he should be doing anyhow, and if I'm gone that day, he can take the truck into town. I know that ultimately, though, I am going to have to come up with some kind of car for him, as the truck only gets like 9 or 10 mpg and that won't do....unfortunately, we are stuck with the truck, because that's one of the loans DH had taken out that had my name on them....

So the truck, if he sold it right now, might fetch $2000, but we owe over $5,000 on it. See, when DH was spending, he went to the credit union and was able to do a "cash-out" refinance type thing on the truck (using my credit and my income, as I had signed that open-ended loan document back when DH was still healthy), so that he could pay off his overdraft line of credit, which, he never paid off (or tried to pay off but loaded it back up again) anyhow....the truck HAD been all paid for, all paid off, and then this huge loan. And my name's on the loan, which is part of the reason I had to take that extra shift. So we're stuck with the truck. And I can't cancel the insurance on it, because we still owe money on it. But we can't afford to drive it. Argh.

I can already see the stress coming. I'm going to want to spend $500 on a beater (where I'll get $500 is a whole nother post) that will get him from point a to point b and that won't be good enough for him. It hasn't been in the past....and I have no reason to think he's become more frugal...I haven't said anything about that yet, though, as I will wait to start that argument until I absolutely have to.

I just kept reminding him that nobody got hurt (except the deer) and it could've been a lot lot worse. And when he starts feeling down about it, think of all the ways it could have been worse and count his blessings. I don't think that helped. But maybe somehow it did.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Elmo the meow cat

Today, while I was sleeping, one of our cats, Elmo, was wanting big snuggles and lots of head butts, so I figured it was time I told you about him.

About a year ago, someone I know a tiny bit at work told me that they knew someone who was trying to help a cat that was injured outside her office building. I started spouting advice, and so the acquaintance game my email address to the lady who was trying to help the kitty.

It was obvious that the cat was injured, it was limping and very thin, but the lady couldn't get him to come to her at all. She was a cat lover. So I told her she should go to the Humane Society and rent a live trap and trap the kitty. So she did, and then she didn't know what to do with the kitty, so she brought him to the Humane Society. They determined that he had damage to his left front paw, damage to his left back paw, and his tail had been crushed beyond repair. When she found all of this out, she also found out that due to his injuries and his skittish, timid nature, he would be euthanized if she did not "spring him" within three days. So she paid $75 to spring him and was trying to come up with a solution, as she already had two cats, and I think she was kind of worried that the new cat wouldn't get along with them, or that he would hide in her house and never come out or something, so I told her that I was willing to keep him for a couple of weeks to socialize him. I know I'm gullible, but I honestly believed that she had already spent a great deal of money on him, so she was invested in this.....

So I met Elmo. All I remember was these HUGE kitty eyes staring out of the cat carrier at me. He was pure black, and not full grown yet. The lady had thought of everything, she had bought two large bags of food, a bunch of toys, food dish, water dish, cat litter, a little tent for him to hide in, etc., she said she didn't want me to have to spend any money on him while he was staying at our house.

As soon as DH saw him, and this was shortly before things got really bad with DH, he looked at those eyes and said "that cat is named "Elmo"." And he was right, the sweet innocent face lent itself to no other possible name(s).

As soon as Elmo was released into the room where he was to stay until he moved on, he found a tiny hole in the sheet rock and enlarged it somehow, and hid himself in the wall. At this point his tail hadn't been amputated yet, and he hadn't yet been neutered, because the Humane Society wasn't going to put that kind of money into a cat that was going to be dead soon anyhow....so anyhow, Elmo didn't know his tail was sticking out of the wall, and since he didn't have any feeling in his tail, even if he knew it was sticking out, he really couldn't pull it in behind him. As soon as he would hear my voice, I could see the tail kind of shift, so I knew he was ok, and I knew where he was.

He started to figure out that when I came in, there was usually food and yummy treats involved, and after a couple of weeks, he would bring himself to look at me, and then he started to creep out of his hiding spot, and eventually, he let me pet him with one finger. All this time, I was in daily contact with the lady, telling her about Elmo's progress. The day Elmo let me hold him for the first time, I was smitten. And that was nothing compared to what happened when DH held him for the first time....DH even made a comment, "It's too bad he has to go live somewhere else."

A week later, when we were sure that Elmo trusted us, he went to the vet and got his tail amputated (and a little operation on some other parts too). I was really afraid that after a trauma like that, he'd come back all scared again, and we'd be back at square 1. But his tail must've hurt a lot more than he let on, because when he came back, he was amazing. Lots of snuggles and head butts and probably the most affectionate cat I've ever seen. DH couldn't get over it, either. We both were in love with Elmo. And I started to tell the lady how affectionate he was, and how talkative he was, and all of a sudden, I couldn't get a hold of her any more. She never answered her phone (probably caller ID), and she never responded to my emails. So after three more weeks of not getting a hold of her, we decided to move Elmo into the "general population" once again, I was sure he was going to revert to being terrified about everything, but he was so excited to see all the other cats, he just loved most of them so much!!! I think he would be lost if he ever had to live in a one-cat family...no danger of that in our house, for sure...anyhow, as DH started to decompensate, Elmo became more and more wary of him, until he wouldn't have anything to do with DH. And Elmo never did warm up to DD, but me, well, Elmo only has eyes for me. And when I get home after work, I get a bigger greeting from him than I do from the dogs.

His little stumpy tail wags back and forth, and he makes little peeping noises and he tries very hard to reach and touch my cheek or nose with his paw. And he gives head butts. A lot of them. And the funniest thing of all is, he loves to put his nose/mouth inside my mouth. He doesn't bite or lick or even sniff, he just puts his face in my open mouth and leaves it there. And if I don't open my mouth up for him to investigate, he pushes his face onto my lips until I give in. I love him so much!!!

DH is often disappointed when he sees Elmo loving me so much and Elmo just doesn't want to deal with DH since he really became ill. But Elmo's been getting a little better about that, too, just today, he gave DH a head-butt and DH was thrilled.

Anyhow, I was taking a nap and Elmo was taking a nap, all snuggled up to me (and Charlie the meow cat--more on him some other time)....and when my alarm went off, he did this lazy stretch thing and reached his paw up and tapped my cheek, then he stood up so that he could get a better angle to put his nose in my mouth, and then he settled back down and there was lots of gazing into my eyes and purring and face touching....I can't resist him, I can't!!! He's the reason I have a tough time getting out of bed even when I'm not tired!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I'm scared and angry too.

And I really don't know where to start, so please forgive me if I ramble....
DH is still very depressed. He's been spending all his time in bed again, and Jim has gone to visit some relatives for a couple of weeks, so there's nothing to interest him at all.

He went to Spenders yesterday, but it didn't seem to perk him up like it usually did. I was inches away from paying the DirecTV bill and getting the TV going again, I had the phone in my hand and then I didn't. I'll pay the bill this week, but I won't resume service. But you know, it's not as helpful as we were thinking in the first place (having no DirecTV), either, because now instead of laying in there and watching TV all day, he's watching movies all day. Ones that he's seen oodles of times. And he's not doing anything in the house to help again, so the laundry's piling up and the floor needs mopped, and all that....and I think I mentioned all the garbage in the yard....he doesn't ever bother to walk to the garbage can any more, why should he when he can just throw his garbage on the ground :-(

And I found out that yesterday, when he was complaining about his back hurting so bad? Well, DD told me that "he went to the hospital, but it was too busy, so he went home." He hasn't done this hospital stuff for almost a year now and I'm getting worried that things are going backwards instead of forwards. And I still don't know who to talk to. That's one of the awful things about a small town, there's not as many resources as you might want sometimes. I haven't let on to DH that I know he went to the hospital again, because apparently I'm not supposed to know (or he would've told me).

The first couple of times last year, when he went to the hospital for his back pain, I was very very worried. After all, for a person to go to the Emergency Room on a Saturday or a Sunday, well, that means they're in trouble, right? But there was a period of about three months, from January to March, where he went to the E.R. every single weekend. I know the doctors thought he was going there to get "drugged up", and I suspect at some point, that's what it became. And now the hospital thing just makes me angry. And he knows that our insurance is a lot worse than it was last year. Oh, I don't know...mental illness doesn't make sense.....

I called that case manager person again, still no call back. But that doesn't really matter, because DH is supposed to be going to the eye doctor and won't call them back, and also, the hospital gave his name to "The Spine Center", but he won't call them back either. I'm giving serious consideration again to looking into what I would have to do to become his guardian, so that I can take care of things he isn't getting around to, like the bankruptcy, and a ton of other stuff....

So, aside from being scared that he might be heading towards another hospitalization, what am I scared of? It almost hurts me to tell you. It's kind of related to yesterday's post, but anyhow, in a nutshell, I'm afraid I'm losing my feelings for him and my respect for him has been gone for ages. I'm afraid I don't love him. And I feel like my whole life has started to revolve around how miserable he is. I've been here all along. I love him, right?

I keep saying I do. But in all reality? With things looking like a repeat of last year, I'm finding it so very hard to be sympathetic. I just don't want to hear his complaints and self-pity, because he never does anything to change things at all. I really really wish he'd find some kind of fault in me and leave to go live with his mom or something. But I know that won't happen. And I think about the bankruptcy case--you know, he hasn't done any of the follow-up stuff on that, so I'm going to have to give him another ultimatum to get that to move a few inches again. And the job hunting. I was in the next town over and picked up an application from McDonalds for him, he seemed excited that I got it, but that was all. And I think about all these bills and the fact that I am going to have to work my *** off for at least the next year just to break even, I get resentful.

And when I go to work he's in bed. And when I get home he's in bed. And every once in a while, he goes out to have a smoke and comes back to bed. But I can't say anything because absolutely anything I say will be construed as "he's a worthless piece of sh** and doesn't deserve to live."
And it just makes me SICK to see him lying there in bed, day after day. I don't even want to lie there next to him, that's how strong the repulsion is.

I feel like all of my dreams have been stolen from me. And I'm angry because it sounds like he's had some mental health issues in the past that nobody else recognized, but they were there, nonetheless. And I married him thinking he was very healthy, hard working, considerate, and very organized. I sometimes question whether I had my rose-colored glasses on when I married him, and maybe I didn't see all this, but it was there. And I know that wasn't the truth, because he had a good job, he made friends everywhere, and all the people from work always wanted to come over. And DD's therapist has known us both since DD became a part of our lives, and she also believes that it was "something that pushed him over the edge". And when I think about that, I'm comforted a little. Absolutely not one person who knows what's going on has told me "I saw this coming." or "You should've known better."

But I look at all the things I love, and I don't have time for any of them any more. My leisure time is a couple of quick pages read before I fall asleep. And today, even though DH was there and had been in bed all night, it was still me that had to get up, two hours after I got home from work and into bed, so that DD could go to her church group outing. And everything else that got done today. And then I went shopping for my mom (again) and filled up her (my mom's) pills.

And I gave DD $20 for the snow tubing outing for church. It was $15 for the snow tubing, and $5 for fast food on the way home. And when DH realized that I gave DD money, he wanted some too, and he got all pouty and did the "you don't care about me" when I told him I gave him $20 yesterday (he already spent it on his way to Spenders.) And I really wanted to tell him that I had no reason to care.

I know (I hope) that I still love him somehow. But I feel so trapped tonite, and you know, even if I wanted to leave, I couldn't, because I've got all of my animals, and I couldn't just up and leave them....and oh...there's so many things....what I would give to just have a normal husband, one who, when I had a bad day, wasn't so wrapped up in himself where he couldn't even listen to me....someone who, well, someone who's like DH was before...he really was the man of my dreams. And that's not an exaggeration. He had a good work ethic, he was very organized about his money, he volunteered to lead our county's Sheriff's Reserve, he called me at work just to tell me he was thinking of me....and you know what? Tonite I feel like I was a victim of one of those "Bait and Switch" sales, where they advertise something wonderful for a good price, and then when you get there, they're "out" of that thing, but they convince you to buy something that you don't really want anyhow....I got ripped off. And I hope I feel better tomorrow.

There's a little plaque in our house that says "People need love the most when they deserve it the least." I had gotten it as a reminder to me that when DD misbehaves, it's not because she doesn't care, but that she has deeper seeded issues. I keep reminding myself of that and the mad part of me says "I don't care."

Maybe it's just PMS or something, I hope. And maybe it's not necessarily a lack of love, as much as it is an overabundance of resentment.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

You know, one of the hard things is...

That I can see reality and he can't.
Tonite, for example, he says "My back is hurting more than it has in a long time."
(Please refer to this post, or the beginning of this blog, to read about the relationship DH's back pain has to his depression.) (And I am hoping and praying that he doesn't go to the hospital again...)

So I said, "It's no wonder, you've been so depressed these last few days." And he says, "Well, I'm sure it's at least 90% physical, because my back really hurts bad and I'm not making it up."

Me: "I know you're not making it up, but that doesn't mean that the pain doesn't get worse when you're more depressed."

Him: "Well, you might be right, but I don't think so." "I've been taking my pain-killers and Ibuprofen and it isn't doing anything at all."


but i don't, because his illness is his illness and part of it is not being in touch with reality. That's something I never understood before. The loss of touch with reality. I always thought that (for instance), a depressed person is sad all the time and maybe lays around a lot and cries a lot. But I didn't know about the ways that mental illness can wreak havoc with your reality, even if a person is making perfect sense, the way they look at the world is just not right. And that's something I really struggle with all the time, HE sees himself as a normal-thinking, normal-acting person and everything he does makes perfect sense. But it only makes sense to him.

House to Vote on Mental Health Parity Bill

Please call your representative and urge them to vote for this bill.
I strongly believe that DH would have been hospitalized longer, if it wasn't for his insurance. The psychiatrist in the hospital begged the insurance company to allow DH to stay, but they refused, so he came home. I believe that much of the pain we endured this past year could have been avoided if he had been able to stay long enough for the hospital to determine that his mental illness was "stable".

House To Vote On Mental Health Parity Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) ― The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on mental health parity legislation named for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone that would require equal health insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses when policies cover both.

"I cannot emphasize enough how historic this vote will be," said Wellstone's son, David Wellstone, in a letter to activists. "For five years, I have heard promise after promise that Congress will pass mental health parity legislation in my father's honor."

Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota Democrat who championed mental health parity for years, was killed in a plane crash in 2002. David Wellstone is urging people to contact House members on the eve of the vote Tuesday to rally support for the bill, called the "The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act."

In 1996, Paul Wellstone and Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., won passage of a law banning plans that offer mental health coverage from setting lower annual and lifetime spending limits for mental treatments than for physical ailments.

The House legislation -- and a mental health parity bill that the Senate passed last year -- build on that by adding things like co-payments, deductibles and treatment limitations, a longtime goal of Wellstone's. But David Wellstone calls the House bill stronger.

The House bill is sponsored by Reps. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., who has battled depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, and Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., a recovering alcoholic. Ramstad plans to retire at the end of the year, but has said he wants to see the bill passed before he goes.

David Wellstone said he'll be in Washington next week to lobby for the bill.