Baseball & How It Helps

Good Evening, World!!! As I sit here at my laptop, I have the World Series on. Normally, during the World Series, I root for the American League team with two exception; 1) The Dodgers are playing any A.L team but the Angels and 2) The Yankees are the A.L team.

I’m a huge baseball fan. For some reason it’s one of the few pro sports that has kept my attention for as long as I can remember. It’s surprising that having a diagnosis of ADHD since the age of seven that baseball can keep my attention because its not that “action packed” like football, hockey or even basketball. You would think another sport with more action would keep my attention. But, no. For some reason it was baseball that kept my attention.

In fact in was my fifth grade teacher that realized that I understand statistics quite well. She realized this when we were having a class discussion about the Oakland A’s playing against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990 World Series. Most everyone was of course rooting for the A’s as they are a California team. My teacher let the resource teacher know of this and I was tested yet again. The test stated that I was able to do statistics at the tenth grade level when the rest of my math skills were at the fourth grade level and I was in fifth grade level. Needless to say everyone was shocked. So, with the help of my teacher and the resource teacher I was able to get the rest of my math skills up to my grade level using statistics. My teacher had baseball to thank for that.

Not only has baseball helped me with my education, it has helped me with my recovery. It’s the one thing I can focus on when I am not doing well. Unfortunately, baseball’s regular season ends at the end of September or early October with the World Series at the end of October. When it’s not baseball season, I pay attention to what is going on in the world of baseball. I even think about what the teams will do in the off months with trades and so on. I look at the stats of the all the teams and try to guess on who will be the World Series winner for the next season. I’m rarely right on it but it helps me with my recovery with my mental health condition.

I should get going if I want to want enjoy tonight’s World Series game. I hope everyone has a good Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. Peace Out!!!

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Mental Health Awarness Month: Schizophrenia

May is mental health awareness month. When I started this blog in late May of last year (2014) it was in response to how I as an advocate, am going do my part to help stomp out the stigma of mental illness. In fact, it still is the goal of this blog to educate other’s on mental illness in hopes that it will reach enough people to make a dent in the stigma that mental illness brings.  I’ve realized over the last year that I haven’t done much educating on mental illness with the exception of me blogging about my personal experience with a mental illness and how those with a mental illness are productive members of society.

With that being said, I decided that today’s educational topic will be Schizophrenia. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and am unable to diagnosis people if you think you have Schizophrenia or another mental health diagnosis please seek out professional help from a doctor or mental health professional. The information I am about to share on Schizophrenia, with you is info I got from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at https://nami.org/.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness, affecting about 1% of Americans. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.

Symptoms

It can be difficult to diagnose schizophrenia in teens. This is because the first signs can include a change of friends, a drop in grades, sleep problems, and irritability—common and nonspecific adolescent behavior. Other factors include isolating oneself and withdrawing from others, an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and a family history of psychosis. In young people who develop schizophrenia, this stage of the disorder is called the “prodromal” period.

With any condition, it’s essential to get a comprehensive medical evaluation in order to obtain the best diagnosis. For a diagnosis of schizophrenia, some of the following symptoms are present in the context of reduced functioning for a least 6 months:

Hallucinations. These include a person hearing voices, seeing things, or smelling things others can’t perceive. The hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it, and it may be very confusing for a loved one to witness. The voices in the hallucination can be critical or threatening. Voices may involve people that are known or unknown to the person hearing them.

Delusions. These are false beliefs that don’t change even when the person who holds them is presented with new ideas or facts. People who have delusions often also have problems concentrating, confused thinking, or the sense that their thoughts are blocked.

Negative symptoms are ones that diminish a person’s abilities. Negative symptoms often include being emotionally flat or speaking in a dull, disconnected way. People with the negative symptoms may be unable to start or follow through with activities, show little interest in life, or sustain relationships. Negative symptoms are sometimes confused with clinical depression.

Cognitive issues/disorganized thinking. People with the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia often struggle to remember things, organize their thoughts or complete tasks. Commonly, people with schizophrenia have anosognosia or “lack of insight.” This means the person is unaware that he has the illness, which can make treating or working with him much more challenging.

Causes

Research suggests that schizophrenia may have several possible causes:

  • Genetics. Schizophrenia isn’t caused by just one genetic variation, but a complex interplay of genetics and environmental influences. While schizophrenia occurs in 1% of the general population, having a history of family psychosis greatly increases the risk. Schizophrenia occurs at roughly 10% of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent or sibling. The highest risk occurs when an identical twin is diagnosed with schizophrenia. The unaffected twin has a roughly 50% chance of developing the disorder.
  • Environment. Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia. Inflammation or autoimmune diseases can also lead to increased immune system
  • Brain chemistry. Problems with certain brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Networks of neurons are likely involved as well.
  • Substance use. Some studies have suggested that taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk of schizophrenia. A growing body of evidence indicates that smoking marijuana increases the risk of psychotic incidents and the risk of ongoing psychotic experiences. The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk. Another study has found that smoking marijuana led to earlier onset of schizophrenia and often preceded the manifestation of the illness.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing schizophrenia is not easy. Sometimes using drugs, such as methamphetamines or LSD, can cause a person to have schizophrenia-like symptoms. The difficulty of diagnosing this illness is compounded by the fact that many people who are diagnosed do not believe they have it. Lack of awareness is a common symptom of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and greatly complicates treatment.

While there is no single physical or lab test that can diagnosis schizophrenia, a health care provider who evaluates the symptoms and the course of a person’s illness over six months can help ensure a correct diagnosis. The health care provider must rule out other factors such as brain tumors, possible medical conditions and other psychiatric diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder.

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person must have two or more of the following symptoms occurring persistently in the context of reduced functioning:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Negative symptoms

Delusions or hallucinations alone can often be enough to lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Identifying it as early as possible greatly improves a person’s chances of managing the illness, reducing psychotic episodes, and recovering. People who receive good care during their first psychotic episode are admitted to the hospital less often, and may require less time to control symptoms than those who don’t receive immediate help. The literature on the role of medicines early in treatment is evolving, but we do know that psychotherapy is essential.

People can describe symptoms in a variety of ways. How a person describes symptoms often depends on the cultural lens she is looking through. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed, probably due to differing cultural or religious beliefs or language barriers. Any person who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia should try to work with a health care professional that understands his or her cultural background and shares the same expectations for treatment.

Treatment

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated and managed in several ways.

With medication, psychosocial rehabilitation, and family support, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be reduced. People with schizophrenia should get treatment as soon as the illness starts showing, because early detection can reduce the severity of their symptoms.

Recovery while living with schizophrenia is often seen over time, and involves a variety of factors including self-learning, peer support, school and work and finding the right supports and treatment.

Medication

Typically, a health care provider will prescribe antipsychotics to relieve symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations. Due to lack of awareness of having an illness and the serious side effects of medication used to treat schizophrenia, people who have been prescribed them are often hesitant to take them.

First Generation (typical) Antipsychotics

These medications can cause serious movement problems that can be short (dystonia) or long term (called tardive dyskinesia), and also muscle stiffness. Other side effects can also occur.

Second Generation (atypical) Antipsychotics

These medications are called atypical because they are less likely to block dopamine and cause movement disorders. They do, however, increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. Changes in nutrition and exercise, and possibly medication intervention, can help address these side effects.

One unique second generation antipsychotic medication is called clozapine. It is the only FDA approved antipsychotic medication for the treatment of refractory schizophrenia and has been the only one indicated to reduce thoughts of suicide. However, it does have multiple medical risks in addition to these benefits. Read a more complete discussion of these risk and benefits.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for some people with affective disorders. With more serious conditions, including those with psychosis, additional cognitive therapy is added to basic CBT (CBTp). CBTp helps people develop coping strategies for persistent symptoms that do not respond to medicine.

Supportive psychotherapy is used to help a person process his experience and to support him in coping while living with schizophrenia. It is not designed to uncover childhood experiences or activate traumatic experiences, but is rather focused on the here and now.

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) works to promote cognitive functioning and confidence in one’s cognitive ability. CET involves a combination of computer based brain training and group sessions. This is an active area of research in the field at this time.

Psychosocial Treatments

People who engage in therapeutic interventions often see improvement, and experience greater mental stability. Psychosocial treatments enable people to compensate for or eliminate the barriers caused by their schizophrenia and learn to live successfully. If a person participates in psychosocial rehabilitation, she is more likely to continue taking their medication and less likely to relapse. Some of the more common psychosocial treatments include:

  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) provides comprehensive treatment for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Unlike other community-based programs that connect people with mental health or other services, ACT provides highly individualized services directly to people with mental illness. Professionals work with people with schizophrenia and help them meet the challenges of daily life. ACT professionals also address problems proactively, prevent crises, and ensure medications are taken.
  • Peer support groups like NAMI Peer-to-Peer encourage people’s involvement in their recovery by helping them work on social skills with others. The Illness Management Recovery (IMR) model is an evidence-based approach that emphasizes setting goals and acquiring skills to meet those goals.

Complementary Health Approaches

Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, have shown some promise for treating and managing schizophrenia. Some researchers believe that omega-3 may help treat mental illness because of its ability to help replenish neurons and connections in affected areas of the brain.

Additional Concerns

Physical Health. People with schizophrenia are subject to many medical risks, including diabetes and cardiovascular problems, and also smoking and lung disease. For this reason, coordinated and active attention to medical risks is essential.

Substance Abuse. About 25% of people with schizophrenia also abuse substances such as drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse can make the treatments for schizophrenia less effective, make people less likely to follow their treatment plans, and even worsen their symptoms.

Helping Yourself

If you have schizophrenia, the condition can exert control over your thoughts, interfere with functioning and if not treated, lead to a crisis. Here are some ways to help manage your illness.

  • Manage Stress. Stress can trigger psychosis and make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, so keeping it under control is extremely important. Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Don’t take on more than you can handle and take time to yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Try to get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard eight hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine can help.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. It’s indisputable that substance abuse affects the benefits of medication and worsens symptoms. If you have a substance abuse problem, seek help.
  • Maintain connections. Having friends and family involved in your treatment plan can go a long way towards recovery. People living with schizophrenia often have a difficult time in social situations, so surrounding yourself with people who understand this can make the transition back into daily social life smoother. If you feel you can, consider joining a schizophrenia support group or getting involved with a local church, club, or other organization.

If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.

Helping a Family Member or Friend

Learning about psychosis and schizophrenia will help you understand what your friend or family member is experiencing and trying to cope with. Living with schizophrenia is challenging. Here are some ways you can show support:

  • Respond calmly. To your loved one, the hallucinations seem real, so it doesn’t help to say they are imaginary. Calmly explain that you see things differently. Being respectful without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior.
  • Pay attention to triggers. You can help your family member or friend understand, and try to avoid, the situations that trigger his or her symptoms or cause a relapse or disrupt normal activities.
  • Help ensure medications are taken as prescribed. Many people question whether they still need the medication when they’re feeling better, or if they don’t like the side effects. Encourage your loved one to take his or her medication regularly to prevent symptoms from coming back or getting worse.
  • Understanding lack of awareness (anosognosia). Your family member or friend one may be unable to see that he or she has schizophrenia. Rather than trying to convince the person he or she has schizophrenia, you can show support by helping him or her be safe, get therapy, and take the prescribed medications.
  • Help avoid drugs or alcohol. These substances are known to worsen schizophrenia symptoms and trigger psychosis. If your loved one develops a substance use disorder, getting help is essential.

Related Conditions People with schizophrenia may have additional illnesses. These may include: Substance abuse Posttraumatic stress disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Major depression Successfully treating schizohprenia almost always improves these related illnesses. And successful treatment of substance abuse, PTSD or OCD usually improves the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Thank you for reading. I know today’s blog is quite long. I felt like it is necessary to give the above information to better educate myself as well as you the reader and/or follower. Please remember I am not qualified to diagnosis anyone of any physical or mental health condition. I hope to blog more about other diagnoses as well as various treatments for mental health conditions as time goes on. Well, I’m going to end this blog for now. Have a good day and Peace Out!!

Mental Health Awarness Week; Day 3: ADHD

It is day three of Mental Health Awareness Week and I have chosen the topic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The reason why I have chosen this particular topic is because I not only had it as a child and adolescent but I have it as an adult as well. Many people don’t realize that both ADD and ADHD are mental illness’s. The stuff I am about to convey to you I got off of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The most commonly diagnosed behavior disorder in young people, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that ADHD affects an estimated 9 percent of children aged 3 – 17 and 2 to 4 percent of adults.

Although ADHD has it onset and is usually diagnosed in childhood, it is not a disorder limited to children – ADHD often persists into adolescence and adulthood and is frequently not diagnosed until later years.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

There are actually thought to be three different types of ADHD, each with different symptoms: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive and combined.

Those living with the predominantly inattentive type often:

  • fail to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities;
  • have difficulty sustaining attention to task or leisure activities;
  • do not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
  • do not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace;
  • have difficulty organizing task and activities;
  • avoid, dislike or are reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort;
  • lose thins necessary for tasks or activities;
  • are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli; and are forgetful in daily activities

Those living with the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type often:

  • fidget with their hands or feet or squirm in their seat;
  • leave their seat in situations in which remaining seated is expected;
  • move excessively or feel restless during situation in which such behavior in inappropriate;
  • have difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly;
  • are “on the go” or act as if “driven by a motor;”
  • talk excessively;
  • blurt out answers before questions have been completed;
  • have difficulty awaiting their turn; and
  • interrupt or intrude on others.

Those living with the combined type, the most common type of ADHD, have a combination of the inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.

It is also important to note that ADHD is a condition that often coexist with other conditions.

I am not going to go into what else NAMI says about ADHD because I feel like if you want to find out you can go to NAMI.org to look up the information for yourselves. I do have to say that when I was child I was put on medication to help with the symptoms of the ADHD. The particular school district I was in from Kindergarten to 9th grade made sure the schools I attended I was taught the proper skills I needed that one day I wouldn’t need to depend on meds to help with the symptoms of ADHD. I am grateful for that because the school district I was in from 10th to 12 grades weren’t to keen on much of anything in regards to the diagnosis of ADHD. In fact they thought the medication I was on need to either be upped or changed. My grandparent gave me the option of what I wanted. I option I chose was to not take the medication and well they were happy I chose the option because I was able to prove to the new school and new school district that I could do it myself without the help of medication because of the skills I had learned in the previous school district I was in. I am not saying to go off any of your meds; I am saying that because I learned the proper skills that I was able to get off meds for the ADHD. Yes, I was under a doctors supervision when I was stopping the ADHD medication. Never stop any medication without proper supervision from a licensed medical provider. I am happy to announce that I have been off of ADHD meds for almost 19 years now. Yes, ADHD does still effect me however I am able to deal with the symptoms of ADHD.

I hope that I was able to convey to you what I wanted to in regards to ADHD. I hope that you learned something in regards to ADHD. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if have any. Thank you for your time and thank you for reading.

Have a goodnight. I hope to blog on a different diagnosis tomorrow in regards to mental illness. Again have a goodnight and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Peace Out!!!!

Monday Of Mourning R.I.P Robin Williams

     It’s another Monday and in all honesty is a Monday of Mourning. As many of you have heard or read; Robin Williams passed away at the age of 63 from a suspected suicide. The news has said that he suffered from Depression but in all actuality he suffered from Bipolar Disorder, ADHD and couple of other things I cannot remember. I waited a few hours after I heard the news about Robin Williams to blog about it because I wasn’t sure what to say. I realize there is really nothing much to say than what others have said however I will share my memories regarding Robin Williams.

     My first memory of Robin Williams is watching reruns of Mork & Mindy on Nick & Nite in the middle of the night as a child. Mork & Mindy helped me through some rough moments when things got really bad with the abuse I suffered as child. Sometimes I wished I was an alien from another planet with a life for that cared. His humor helped me through out my life.

     Robin Williams got me through my childhood with Mork & Mindy while in my late tweens and early teen he got me through with Hook, Aladdin, Fern Gully, and Mrs. Doubtfire. In my mid to late teens the movies The Birdcage, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams and the discovery of Dead Poets Society helped me through being a teenager. Plus, the numerous other movies he has made through my twenties and into my thirties has touched my life. All the movies I’ve mentioned plus many more I have watched time and again because I know that they help out with some part of my life or just a simple movie night with friends. 

    We all have moments we will remember where we were when we heard the news of something major. For me, Robin William’s death is one of those moments. I had come home and turned on my computer and looked on my Facebook when I heard the news at 4:15pm (pacific time). I found out on Facebook. Robin Williams has had a profound impact on my life. I have met him on several occasions as well as received hand written letters from him. In those letters he encouraged me with my recovery process with my mental health issues. I just wish he was still here so he could encourage others in their recovery process. Robin Williams was a very important person in my life regarding my recovery. Hell, he still is.

    Robin Williams I know you are know longer with us but I know you are somewhere out there reading this. Just know you have had a profound influence on my life. Thank you so much for being a positive influence in my life. Thanks for making me and billions of others laugh till we peed our pant. We will miss you very much. You are so very much loved.

    I am ending this blog in tears. I hope to blog tomorrow about how the rest of today went. I normally don’t cry but I feel like its a good time to cry when a person who influenced your life passes away. Again I hope to blog again tomorrow. I hope the rest of you Monday turns out happier. R.I.P ROBIN WILLIAMS

Book Review on: The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks

     Hey! I finally finished the book The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks. I am going to give you a book review on the book. I have never done a book review in my life unless of course if you count book reports that you had to do in elementary school and junior high. I hope that the following review gives some insight of mental illness and hope of some sort of recovery for those of us who struggle with mental illness.

     The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks in my opinion is an extremely good book. It kept my attention and that is difficult to do especially since one of my many struggles happens to be ADHD. Well, the book is a memoir of Ms. Saks life and her struggles with Schizophrenia. Ms. Saks is an accomplished woman. She graduated from Vanderbilt, Oxford and Yale Law School and doing all that in the height of her illness. She is a professor at USC school of law. The book is her journey to a life worth living for her and in her terms. Its very inspiring. She is what “society” views as a success. I hope that one day I can be a success in societies eyes like her even though my career path is not like hers and my educational path is nowhere close to hers. That’s okay because everybody’s path is different. I highly encourage you all to read it. It is my opinion that it would be a condition of employment if you work with people who struggle with mental illness. Ms. Saks gives insight that no text book can ever do. 

     This book gives me hope for my own recovery with my mental illness even though I don’t struggle with Schizophrenia. I hope that if a person who struggles with mental illness reads the book that they can get hope from it as well. It is also my hope that the book gives some insight about someone’s struggles with mental illness to those who don’t struggle with one as well as those who work with those who struggle with one. It’s not easy dealing with a mental illness and the stigma that goes along with that doesn’t make it any easier.

     I don’t think my book review is all that great but the book is absolutely amazing. It’s a must read. Now that I am done with the review I will end this blog entry for now. Have a good evening everyone and enjoy the rest of your Wednesday. Peace out everyone.