Unproductive Day & Unable to Sleep

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Hello, World!!! I’ve been unproductive today and unable to sleep. Or at least I feel like I’ve been unproductive despite the things I’ve done today. The picture above is one of the many things I’ve done today. I may not be finished with it but I say I was successful with my art today since I started the picture today.

Another thing I did was read. I read the book I’ve been reading for a while and am still enjoying the book a great deal. Below is a what I am reading.

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Another thing I did was watch a handful of TedTalks. I watched some on race as well as those who live with autism. Here are my notes on two of them. One is about Autism and the other about race.

The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

  • Autism is a continuum
  • To understand Autism is to think pictures.
  • Visual learning is key
  • Pattern Thinkers: Music and math minds
  • Verbal minds: Poor at drawing.
  • Photo Realistic Thinks: Poor at Algebra
  • Autistics tend to be fixated on one certain  thing

Color Blind or Color Brave

  • Race is a risky topic to talk about
  • The first step in taking action is awareness
  • Racial discrimination is bad for business
  • Color blindness means ignoring the problem
  • We have to be “color brave” by being willing to have open discussions about race.
  • Observe your environment
  • Speak up

Thank you for reading. I’m going to try and get some sleep now. Goodnight. Peace Out, World!!!

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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!!

A Child’s Christmas Wish; William’s Mail

As, a mama to be I know a mother’s love for her child (or children in my case since I am having twins) starts the moment when one finds out they are pregnant. Another thing I have come to realize is that I will do just about anything to make my children’s lives as happy and enjoyable as possible and protect them to the best of my ability. So, when I saw a news story on a local news station about a mom wanting to fulfill her 12 year old Autistic son, Williams Christmas wish I knew I had to help spread the word. All, William wants for Christmas is mail. I meant to blog about this earlier but life got busy. (Side Note: Links to the Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as the address is at the end of the this particular post.) The following is a letter that William’s mother wrote on a Facebook account she set up to make her sons Christmas wish come true:

Williams Mail

I have never done, or asked anything like this before, but I felt the need to. That need that comes from being a mom and wanting to do everything in your power to make your child happy. It seems like such a small thing but it is the few things that drive a mothers soul. The need to protect and the need to bring joy to your kids faces.

My son, William is 12 years old. He is an amazing kid. He rarely asks for much. He is full of love, joy and happiness. William is smart, funny and awesome. William also has Autism (severe) and is also non verbal. (he can not talk). During Christmas time (his absolute favorite time of the year) he always asks me for the things he wants, and they are always the same. He wants Mr.Sketch Markers, Copy Paper, Lays Regular Chips, and whatever Blu Ray is on his mind for his collection. (His “thing” is movies). He is the easiest and hardest to shop for. I am always looking for new things to add to the list but he usually is not interested and just wants what he wants

This is where my request comes in. This year he asked for something new! I almost fell over when he added it to the box (his Christmas wish list box) and the new item is……….. MAIL! Mail. Mail. He LOVES getting mail. Half of our family lives in Northern Canada and the other half lives in Southern USA so he gets mail from family a couple times a year. I always knew he loved getting his mail but when he asked for it, I cried. I actually sat here and cried. Both happy and sad tears. Happy because he was expressing his wants and sad because of how I was going to figure out how to get him what he wants. He is such an amazing kid and he rarely wants for anything, I really want to make something special for him.

Let me tell you why I was sad. William has never had people come to his birthdays or has he been invited to any. No one asks William to come over for playdates or sleep overs. There are a small handful of kids in his class with needs of their own so I understand why. It is not anyone’s fault, it just is what it is. My family lives 1000 miles in one direction and my kids other family (fathers side) lives 1000 miles in the other so there is no family here for us. My teenage daughter is always out, socializing, hanging with friends and sometimes it just breaks my heart. I wish William had that too, but life has other plans for this amazing kid.

Many people assume since he can not talk that he does not understand. Well, let me tell you, this kid understands. He understands a lot. He understands too much. He just can not communicate the way we do, but he is sharp as a tack. He feels love and affection and I think he finds mail from others as affection. He carries around the last box that was sent to him. He covets the post cards. He wants me to read mail to him (even though he is an excellent reader) he wants to send mail. He LOVES mail and asks me for it now (the past couple weeks) multiple times a day. He writes MAIL on his drawings, he brings me the key to check the mail. I think he truly appreciate mail.

Now to my request. I have been racking my brains for a couple weeks. I want to make this year special for this most special boy. He has nothing but love in him and I want him to feel the love from others. If you want to help a kind soul this year, I am asking for strangers to send him mail. I want him to know the world loves and values him in a way that he understands and feels. I have been buying stamps and have been “creating” mail for Christmas. I have enlisted my small family (there is only a handful) to send mail to him for Christmas. I was hoping someone out there would want to sit down and send mail to William. He deserves to feel the love from the world like the rest of us do because he makes this world a better place. He deserves all the mail in the world according to me , but I am his mommy so I am bias.

I know, it may seem strange to ask strangers for mail but this is the only way I can think of to fulfill my sons Christmas wish. I am starting a page, and if people write letters to him on it, I will print the letters off and turn them into mail. If you feel inclined to send this amazing kid a piece of mail, I will save it until Christmas morning and when he wakes up, he will wake up to his beloved mail.

He loves his mail so much that his weekly treat is to visit the Post Office so he can get a Mail Box (a priority mail box) and when we get home he wants me to put Mail in it (usually just one of his BluRays) and he gets so happy to open it. He also carries around this Christmas USPS flier thingy they sent out a while ago with their Christmas stamps.

Please take the time to consider my request. It would mean the world to a very special young boy whose only real wish this year is to open MAIL It would mean the world to this Momma , William and his big sister Victoria too, we just want to make it a very special Christmas for a very special boy

https://www.facebook.com/pag…/Williams-Mail/1575623412666921

If you would like to learn more about what to write or what William likes to talk about please read this link. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1576474325915163&id=1575623412666921

Twitter @mail4william
‪#‎mail4william‬

Williams Mail
PMB# 175
816 Peace Portal Dr.
Blaine, Washington
98230
USA