Even More Mental Health Studies & News: Vol.7

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This issue: fMRI study into understanding why depression meds don’t work for everyone; new texting support for suicidal teens in Canada; Normal Person problems vs. the Mentally Ill; soldier-suicides recognized by Canadian government as equal to deployment deaths; 15-year old Autistic artist selling works for thousands of dollars; childhood spanking leads to aggressive children with higher risks of mental illnesses, and; oh no, another ‘anti-vaccine’ doctor is facing discipline.

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Posted in Autism, Bipolar, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, fMRI, Health, Mental Health, Mental Health News, Suicide, Vaccines | Tagged | 1 Comment

The First Quintin Update: Un Deux Trois Four

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I woke up one morning not too long ago to my youngest son singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ in his room.

Quintin just turned four-years old, and there he was, laying in his bed, barely awake with the blankets bunched up in his little arms, staring at the wall, and whispering the words to himself.

That was the first time I have heard him sing. Now I see him mouthing the words to songs all the time.

And there he was earlier tonight, dancing in the living room and trying to sing along to ‘Old MacDonald’.

Quintin can also count to thirty in both English and French. Sometimes he’ll start in one language and finish in the other. I’m sure other kids can do this but, to me anyway, it’s still remarkable.

Quintin just turned four… but we’re still trying to get to know each other.

I was sick and unable to look after him for almost a full year of his life. That’s the problem. My recovery from the ‘severe uremic neuropathy’ (SUN) and the kidney transplant meant I missed a full calendar year of his life. And you just can’t do that without consequences. Especially the year when your baby is turning into a toddler.

Everything seemed to change during that year. Before my time in the hospital we had been together every day of his life. From the time he was 8-months old I changed every diaper, I fed him every meal, I taught him to stand, I taught him to walk.

While I was in the hospital, my parents became Quintin’s primary caregivers (when my wife and I separated in 2015, I got full custody of Baby Quintin and Little Victor. My wife had twice-weekly visits supervised by the Children’s Aid Society).

But the hospital was 70km from my home, which made it very difficult for my mother to bring him for visits. In fact she only brought him twice during the four months I was recuperating from the SUN… the first one I couldn’t get out of bed, and the second one I was in a wheelchair — during that visit he didn’t seem to recognize me at all.

Whether that was because his Daddy was in a wheelchair, or because of the time spent apart, I don’t know. All I know is it took me holding a bottle with chocolate milk in it for him to get close to me.

When I went into the hospital in April of 2016, he was only 20-months old. When I got out, he was about to turn two, but I was on dialysis and too weak from the neuropathy to be able to look after him. Between January and May, 2016, I had lost 80lbs, then I had spent three months in a wheelchair, and told I’d never walk again. In August, when I was discharged from the hospital, I was using canes to get around. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t care for him properly. So he continued to stay with my parents.

I would visit with him daily, but between a new medication being slow to take effect, and the symptoms of the kidney failure, and then that thing and the other thing… I fell into a depression. And the once daily visits became twice a week, then once a week, and then it was January, 2017, and time for my kidney transplant.

And that meant another month in hospital and a recovery centre, and another month without access to my baby. When I finally got home, I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than a bag of sugar… for four months. That meant another four months of not being able to live with Quintin.

I was also on high doses of Prednisone, and that was screwing with my head. And that led to more prolonged, and deeper depressions. And further isolation from Quintin. From February 2017, until June we were together only 2-4 hours a week.

In August my wife and I finally went to mediation to sort out custody of the kids. The CAS felt she was… better, and capable of looking after her children. So after a day of back-and-forth negotiations, it was decided, with some drama, that we would share custody of Little Victor and Baby Quintin.

Starting at the end of that week.

I was terrified. Quintin was weeks away from his third birthday, and I hadn’t been around him as a full time father since he was 20-months old.

The second night was the hardest. After reading to him, I would sit next to him while he fell to sleep. On the first night he fell asleep right away. On the second night he cried for his mom every time I left the room.

That was hard for a lot of reasons.

Raising two young children was never meant to be easy. But most of the last year has been hard for a lot of reasons…

He still takes off on me when we’re out together… which has me worried enough that we rarely go anywhere alone. He listens to my parents before he’ll listen to me, which I find hard. He listens to his mom before me as well, which I find harder.

But I love him, and I think he loves being with me, and we’re getting better.

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Some things about Quintin:

Quintin was born the day we buried my grandfather.

Quintin was born prematurely… he and I spent his first night in the NICU together.

Quintin’s favourite movie is ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’.

His favourite TV show is ‘Peppa Pig’.

His favourite food group is Pringle’s Chips.

He’ll only eat stuff that comes out of a can for dinner.

His favourite game is ‘lets hide stuff’… thankfully he’s not very good at it.

Quintin is now in Junior Kindergarten at a French speaking school.

He can count to thirty in French and English.

Quintin rarely stops talking. He’s nothing like Little Victor at that age. Victor was a quiet kid who could play by himself until you forgot he was there. Quintin has a very hard time being alone.

We picked his name while watching Jaws… Capt. Quint:

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...thanks.

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Posted in Baby Quintin, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, CSG, Depression, Disability, Health, Lithium Overdose, Living With Manic Depression, Memories | 2 Comments

Even More Mental Health Studies & News: Vol.6

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This issue: More fMRI studies proving distinct brain differences in people with Bipolar and/or Schizophrenia and those without; using genetics to improve diagnoses and personalize treatments for manic depression; raising children who have a mental illness; Virtual Reality and autism; 80,000 Americans died from the flu in 2017; another study connecting vaccines to autism retracted, and; Andrew Wakefield finally wins an award for his research.

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Posted in Autism, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Health, Manic Depression, Mental Health News, Schizophrenia, Vaccines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Evaluating My Mental Health Evaluation

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The signs I’ve slid into a depression should be obvious to me by now. After almost two decades I should at least have a check list by my door, or beside my bed.
Dressing in black for days on end is generally a dead giveaway, especially if it’s always the same shirt, socks, underwear and pants.
I’ve been sleeping for twelve hours at a shot, then never feeling fully awake for the next twelve. Over the past two weeks I’ve been outside for more than fifteen minutes in a day maybe four times… I’ve been outside every day, but only a quick walk to the store for supplies, then home again.
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Salted Lithium “The True Nature Of My Being”;
October 10, 2010

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I had a phone interview with a representative from the local Centre for Addiction and Mental Health yesterday (not its real name, but essentially that’s what it is).

She was evaluating me to find out if I need a referral to a new psychiatrist, or just a therapist, or if I needed help at all.

She asked the usual questions:

Do you smoke? Not since 2006.

Do you drink? A few Guinness (Guinnesses? Guinnessi?) this year. Nothing for eight years before that.

Do you use drugs? I have in the past. How recently? Not since I was a kid.

Do you hallucinate? I wish.

Can you read thoughts/or can others read your thoughts? Blah blah blah… the intake interview was supposed to take between 20-40 minutes, I think we got through the whole thing in fifteen.

She didn’t ask me if I talked with Satan. The intake people always asked me that one in the past. They did ask me about my ability to concentrate, which I don’t have, and my patience levels… they asked me if I had self-harmed in the past — I told them I used to burn my arms with lit cigarettes, but not since I was a kid… and a few years ago I dropped a red-hot knife on my arm a few times. And they asked how likely was I to harm myself recently… not at all.

Then she got into the fun stuff… is there any history of mental illness in the family? Heh. Were you ever abused? Fuck yeah. Sexual, physical, or psychological? Yes; not really; fuck yeah.

I told the woman I’ve been depressed for the past year, not suicidal, but depressed. I’ve been taking my medications regularly but I can go a week without showering. Right now, I’ve been wearing the same change of clothes for as long as I can remember. Once I get the kids to school in the morning I go back to bed and sleep until I have to pick them up in the afternoon.

This has been my “normal” for the past year. Maybe two. I’ve been depressed without being depressed. I scroll for hours on Facebook with the TV on in the background to avoid writing. I haven’t taken a decent photo in a year, probably a lot longer than that.

I eat once or twice a day, but I think I’m actually gaining weight, so maybe I’m eating more… or just eating more crap than I should. I can’t seem to keep track. I do go to the gym 4-6 times a month, but I should be going a lot more often because I pay a trainer for more sessions than that. But I just can’t wake up for an afternoon session.

Whatever routine I had, especially the one I used to beat back the depressions, is gone. I’m in bed at midnight, up at 8am; I get the kids to school; I crawl back into bed, sleep for another 4-5 hours; get up, take my medications, go for a drive to the grocery store to pick up supper; pick up the kids from school; we eat supper, and I entertain them until bedtime. Then I turn into a vegetable in front of CNN or SportsNet for four hours, take my meds and go to bed.

I do make sure the kids are clean, that their homework is done, that they eat and we play together, and that Victor practices his guitar. But then I don’t take my insulin when I eat. I’ll eat four cookies as a late night snack. I’ll eat a chocolate bar, or a bag of chips. I won’t check my blood sugar for a month… actually, I haven’t checked it in more than two months now.

She asked me if I was suicidal, and I told her no. I am not at risk of dying anytime soon. But that’s not entirely true.

The depression will kill me through the diabetes. Or at least take years off my life. Untreated it’ll definitely interfere with the kidney transplant.

It’s like I’m trying to abuse myself in the least noticeable way possible.

I didn’t tell her that. But I was honest with her. I spoke more openly with her in fifteen minutes than I had with my psychiatrist in the year before he retired in July.

…so now I’m on a list. She wants me to see a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, she told me, the average waiting time to get an appointment with one in this region is eight months. In between then and now I’ll be seeing a psychiatric nurse. Which is something I’ve never heard of before. But apparently they can help me with my meds. But that will take a few months as well.

In the meantime they suggested I try writing about how I’m feeling and to get involved with something called ‘The Big White Wall’ (bigwhitewall.ca), it’s an online anonymous peer support community dedicated to helping people with mental health issues. It has a lot of smiling people on the splashpage, so I guess it works.

…I’ll give it a shot.

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...thanks.

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Posted in Appointment Day, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Intervention, Psychiatry, The Big White Wall | 4 Comments

Sorry About The Notifications He Said While Sending Out One More

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Sorry about annoying you over the past few days.

When I made Salted Lithium ‘private’ four years ago, I had put a bunch of posts into Draft Mode. I don’t know why. It seems pretty silly in hindsight. So, when I un-Drafted and updated them this week, WordPress sent out notifications to all subscribers as if they were being published today.

I’m done un-Drafting, so it won’t happen again.

…weirdly most of the stats for reading the new/old posts came from China and Singapore. I’m not sure what that means, but it feels not a little ominous.

Anyway… again, sorry about the mass email.

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...thanks.

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Posted in Health, YouTube | 4 Comments

Back On The High-Wire Without A Net: Goodbye To My Psychiatrist And Hello Again To My Blog

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My psychiatrist retired in July. At our next-to-last appointment he told me I was doing well enough that he decided not to refer me to another shrink, instead my family doctor will be treating me. Which I’m a little nervous about.

I’m not sure how I feel about losing the ‘talk therapy’ part of my recovery. My psychiatrist and I basically stopped talking almost a year ago. It was my fault. I spent four months in the hospital recovering from ‘severe uremic neuropathy‘, then another month in the hospital recovering from a kidney transplant. So for five months out of a year I was basically on my own, a hermit with only doctors, nurses and (for a while), a roommate to talk with.

After a few weeks of staring at the walls for company, there comes a time when you forget to do things. Like smile, or talk. And I forgot how to do both.

It has almost been two years since I was released from my second stay in hospital, and I still have problems with both. So in the end stages, my sessions with Dr. O had been pretty quiet. I was used to him scribbling to keep up with my various trains of thought, but just staring at each other for 45-minutes was getting pretty tedious and not a little depressing on its own. Now he’ll keep my files for ten years, then he’ll delete them and sixteen-years of my most personal thoughts and ramblings will be gone forever.

…I probably should have asked for a copy, but there are two folders and they’re each six-inches thick. And the poor guy just wants to enjoy his golf game.

Dr. O was the psychiatrist who first diagnosed me with manic depression, way back in 1989. After living out in the wilderness for 14-years, he was kind enough to take me back in 2002 when I finally hit bottom and was desperate for a way up.

There are a handful of people who are responsible for my being alive today, and he’s one of them. Without the talk therapy he provided, there’s no way I’d have survived my bottom. Without him my understanding of the disease would have been limited to An Unquiet Mind, the DSM, and a playlist of songs from Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and The Cure.

I understand his point, about not needing a new psychiatrist, I’m not in any immediate danger of having an episode one way or the other. I haven’t had a major one in years… but I’m not symptom free by any means. I still, albeit occasionally, get overwhelmed by the manics and the depressions. I still have a disease, even after sixteen-years of treatment I haven’t been cured. The disease is still there, and it still wants me dead. I’ve just learned how to cope with it, how to make sure it stays dormant.

It’s just the duration of the attacks are shorter, they’re manageable, they don’t cripple me for days on end. I can think my way out of them. I can reason with them. I can see past them. I can cope with them. They don’t range from 0-100 anymore, with the medication and the skills my psychiatrist taught me, I can live in a more normal range of emotions… at least I can live inside a lot less devastating range.

With his help, and the right pills, I’ve found a range that isn’t devastating. I think that’s what I’m trying to say.

I understand his decision, and I’ll live with it and the consequences, but I am a little nervous about no longer having a psychiatrist on my recovery team. Of the three recovery tools I’ve had over the past twelve years — talk therapy (gone), medication, and this blog (shut down in 2014) — I was down to the Abilify, Seroquel, and Welbutrin*. And, really, medication is just not enough.

At least not for me.

Plus, and this is not related directly to my recovery, I’m on ODSP for the bipolar stuff, and the latest provincial government is bound to be performing a ‘review’ of the disability program, and that generally means making life more complicated for the people who rely on the program. They’ve already cut a planned increase in the amount we receive from 3% to 1.5%. And no one can explain why.

And it’s just going to be that much harder to prove my disability without a psychiatrist.

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*…yes, I’m off the Lithium. More about that later.

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...thanks.

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Posted in Appointment Day, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, Health, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Psychiatry | Tagged | 6 Comments