Tag Archives: Advice column

Living in Hope

Missing Poster
There are times I would feel quite at home putting up a poster with these words “Help wanted to find missing person”. Of course that missing person would be me, or at least the part of me that is, at that time, gone. During depressive episodes I feel the real ‘me’ the part of me that enjoys and embraces life is literally just gone, lost and forlorn. We all know the state, its where all hope has departed, where instead of positivity we have the other demons on our shoulders, hopelessness, desolation, anxiety, profound sadness and all their lovely cousins…
It’s a grim state, the depressive element of bipolar. I’m not entirely sure which part of being bipolar I hate the most; the highs or the lows. Each has their own fascinating and treacherous ‘side-effects’! I say fascinating because despite all our medical discoveries, we are no closer to a ‘cure’ now than we were a few hundred years ago. We have made breakthroughs and invented drugs to keep the symptoms of mental illness at bay, but a cure? – Nah! Not yet!

It is however fascinating to realize there is nothing more resilient than the human psyche. I have come back from the deep and come down from the pinnacle and while I can’t and won’t say ‘unscathed’, I have survived. The consequences of my illness mean I’ve lost friends, I’ve alienated those I love, I’ve done many things I wouldn’t even begin to write about. At the same time, I have an unquenchable desire to understand my actions, to comprehend my emotions, to recognize the pits and pendulums so that I can do better, be better.

Nowadays the medical profession prefer to use the term ‘mind’ instead of psyche. Mind, psyche, cognizance, perception they are pretty much the same when dealing with a ‘sick’ psyche (sorry -mind)!! My perception of things is askew because of an imbalance in hormones somewhere within my brain. It could even be a teeny tiny imbalance, the medical profession doesn’t quite know for sure yet! In the past, I’ve been vocal about the lack of understanding, research and treatment for people with mental illness irrespective of the category. But the treatments that have been available up to just quite recently (as cutting edge medicine!!!) were barbaric.

Mental illness was once mistaken as demonic possession. In an effort to ‘cure’ the infected, holes were cut in their heads to force the demon out! This was called trepanning or trepanation. What’s weird (or weirder perhaps) is that practice is alive and well today, I kid you not….demon pic

Trepanation is the practice of making a hole in the skull in order to improve the brain pulsations and hence the overall well being. A trepan is the instrument used for making a hole in the skull bone. It is sometimes spelled trephine. The idea is to pump up the brainbloodvolume. It’s known that one’s level of consciousness is directly related to the volume of blood in one’s brain. As a result, trepanners say, one feels happier and more energetic.

For more on this wonderful technique see http://www.trepanationguide.com

Hydrotherapy was also another wonderful treatment thought to ‘cure’ mental illness. Some patients were mummified in towels and soaked in freezing cold water for hours on end. Other patients were strahydrotherapypped into freezing cold baths (sometimes for days on end) and only allowed out to the toilet. If that wasn’t bad enough, patients who didn’t respond were subjected to hosing from high-powered jets! Needless to say, this type of treatment was discredited for lack of tangible results.

In the early 1900’s the purposeful infection of a patient with Malaria to induce a high fever to cure their illness was first used. The procedure was hypothesized and carried out by Austrian physician Julius Wagner von Jauregg (who incidentally was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927).
After that came along came a young Polish neurophysiologist and neuropsychiatrist named Manfred J. Sakel. While an internist in the Lichterfelde Hospital for Mental Diseases, in Berlin, Germany, he provoked a superficial coma in a morphine-addicted woman, using an injection of insulin, and obtained a remarkable recovery of her mental faculties. He then embarked on a coma inducing rampage treating patients with this technique for years. Despite claims of a greater than 60% success rate, controlled studies showed that a long-term cure was not achieved and that improvements were many times temporary. But, since Sakel’s method was the gentler and less harmful of all somatic (affecting the body as opposed to the mind) techniques, it was still in use in many countries until recently.

Up next comes a Hungarian pathologist named Ladislas von Meduna who in 1933 reasoned that, because schizophrenia was rare in epileptics and because epileptics seemed much happier after seizures he hypothesised inducing seizures in schizophrenic patients with the use of drugs would make them calmer. So the drug Metrazol was pumped into patients at varying levels. Of course, inducing a seizure had side-effects including fractured bones and memory loss, so doctors soon turned away from this treatment.

And of course, lets not forget the Lobotomy! Destroying a persons’ frontal lobe is to me a bit like throwing out the baby with the bathwater!! According to Wikipaedia:lobotomy pic

“The procedure, controversial from its inception, was a mainstream procedure for more than two decades (prescribed for psychiatric and occasionally other conditions) despite general recognition of frequent and serious side effects. Whilst some patients experienced symptomatic improvement with the operation, this was achieved at the cost of creating other impairments, and this balance between benefits and risks contributed to the controversial nature of the procedure. The originator of the procedure, António Egas Moniz, shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine of 1949 for the “discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses”, although the awarding of the prize has been subject to controversy. The use of the procedure increased dramatically in some countries from the early 1940s and into the 1950s; by 1951, almost 20,000 lobotomies had been performed in the United States. Following the introduction of antipsychotic medications in the mid-1950s, lobotomies underwent a gradual but definite decline.
Lucky us huh!!

So, along with probably hundreds of other ‘treatments’ (I use that term flippantly) tried out on us mental patients over the last three hundred years or so, the above gives a glimpse of what our predecessors had to endure for a cure. There is no doubt that casting a glance backward and seeing how modern treatments were developed, it makes me feel extremely lucky to be alive at this time. Medicine is not perfect, but it’s better than the above. Necessity is the mother of invention. With so many of us struggling with all sorts of ailments, some environmental, some psychological, some physiological, perhaps now the ‘necessity’ for something more lasting and complete than medication will finally come along. One can always live in hope……


Filed under anger, bi-polar, depression, depressive episodes, family, family and relationships, hypomania

What Am I?


I had to fill out a form once, while I was on a five year break from work while my children were young.  Officially, I was a ‘housewife’, but that just didn’t seem to cover the job description of what mothers do, or are expected to do.  So as I pondered my role in the family, I sat down and wrote this ditty to motherhood and who exactly I am…..  Hope you can relate or at least enjoy….

What am I?

I’ve been driven to write this,
To explain what I am
When asked what I do
The term ‘housewife’ is so bland…
So read on now and look anew
At my everyday job redefined for you

First and foremost, I suppose I’m a wife
Although some men would call this their ‘trouble and strife’
I prefer the endearments, Lover and Friend
And you’ll see what I mean towards the end….
Housing Technician, I like the sound of that
However when I say it aloud, I sound like a prat.
It doesn’t however explain what I do,
So lets think on the title afresh and anew..
We’ll start at the top and work to the end
Where again, I’ll be a lover and friend
But the more mundane titles are in between
Read on now and see what I mean……

I could start off and say that I’m a great chef
Although by the end of the day, I feel more like a ref
A ‘negotiator of treaties’, now that’s more grand
Or perhaps a draughtsman, who draws up the family plans
A nurse when I’m needed and a doctor too
Cleaning and Wiping up cuts, puke and even wee and poo.
And I have to add cleaner to the list,
And that’s already enough to drive me round the twist.
Because everday I have to start again
I swear I’m going round the bend

Speaking of bends, I’m a plumber too
Armed with a plunger when you block up the loo
Small time electrician, part qualified
I can live with that
I change light bulbs, plugs, fuses,
Tune in TVs, videos and DVD machines
Actually come to think of it, I’m quite handy I mean.

When the children were babies, they were fed from the breast
So a built in bottle and milk plant was attached to my chest
Of course this meant I was on duty day and night
So sometimes I thought breastfeeding was such shite…
Montessory teacher next comes to mind,
A seeker of things you all need to find
A labourer, gardener and a painter at times
Are just a few of the titles that come to mind
An agony aunt, advice giver and psychologist
Those really also have to go on the list.

A massager of broken hearts, crushed egos, and feet!!
Creator of character and backbone, now that’s neat
Financier, bank manager and lending agent all rolled into one
When dealing with money I get the job done.
Payer of bills, a buyer of clothes, books and shoes,
Shopping assistant? Naw, that just won’t do
There are people who shop for the rich for a living,
So a personal shopper I am too, Don’t I just go on giving and giving….

A stauncer support you won’t ever find
Because my family are in my heart, soul and mind.
But judge, jury and prison warden I am sometimes I find
Because I often have to be cruel to be kind.
‘Broken record’ too, of that I’ve no doubt
And sometimes I just have to let out a good shout.
So raving lunatic might have to go down there too
Cause up till now I sound like ‘Miss Goody Two Shoes.’
But I am regularly naughty, if you catch my drift
Although the label for this you won’t find on my list….

So you see this leads us down to the end
And we’re back to the start at lover and friend…
And what went in between the start and this
is some of what I am and that is the list….
A chef, ref, negotiator of treaties, draughtsman, planner, nurse, doctor, cleaner, plumber, electrician (part qualified) built in milk factory (now closed down and all workers made redundant) Montessori teacher, a seeker and finder of things, a labourer, gardener, painter, agony aunt, psychologist, massage artist with magic fingers, creator of character and backbone, financier, bank manager, lending agent, payer of bills, personal shopper, judge, jury, prison warden, broken record, nervous wreck, raving lunatic, naughty girl, oh… and lover and friend…….Try fitting all that down on a form when you’re asked what you are……

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August 20, 2013 · 9:41 pm