Friday, November 21, 2008

Thoughts on Bipolar and Depression Healing

Since today is Friday, and I'm ready to move on next week and write about something new, I'll end this week with my thoughts about why I initially got so angry about the natural healing webcast, so that I can be done with it and move on.

1. The fact is that having been diagnosed as bipolar in 1993, and having read more than 100 books on the topic and related subjects, and having spent 15 years researching this topic, I can't recommend one book on bipolar wellness that I think is uplifting or helpful and I feel the same way about depression.

2. I believe there is something so fundamentally wrong with current treatment practices that it makes me very angry. I don't believe most psychiatrists ask the right questions during the initial consultation, request the right tests (In fact, how many of your psychiatrists had you tested at all to see if there are health issues that might be contributing factors?), or spend the time to determine why you're depressed (again, if your first presentation was mania, it's a different issue and not one I know about), whether there are unresolved personal issues, whether you have personality traits that are contributing to your illness, whether you have the skills to handle stress, whether your personal relationships are satisfying, whether you enjoy your work, whether you're aware of the causal factors that trigger depressive episodes, whether your diet is a good one, whether you exercise on a daily basis, and so forth and so on.

3. I believe most of the treatment guidelines have been developed in mental hospitals where the sickest people are seen rather than in discussions with people who are highly functional.

4. As far as I know, there is no bipolar or depression wellness program in the universe, which offers an optimal program. I've written about this before and even developed the outline for one on another site.

5. As far as I know, there are no ongoing national or international studies to determine whether medication truly works, what the side effects are, how people feel about taking it, what long-term health problems it can cause, which medications are most effective, and/or whether the people who are "true" success stories take medication and/or use alternative methods of healing.

6. As far as I know, there are no ongoing national or international studies to determine whether alternative treatments work, which types of treatment are most effective, which are an absolute waste of time and money, and so forth and so on.

7. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find truthful information on healing practices because so many doctors, mental health professionals, and consumer groups receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

8. It is almost impossible to find true success stories of people who have "overcome" these illnesses and are living "normal" lives. (Perhaps my definition of "successful" differs from most.)

9. It is very disturbing that so many people seem to want to make a profit off other other people's pain and suffering.

10. There are few bipolar and depression sites and blogs that provide upbeat, uplifting information on healing that is truly effective. In the few cases where people do recommend medications or products, it's a profit-making venture and difficult to determine whether it's just another hype.

19 comments:

TroyC said...

Susan-

Thank you for your continued thoughts on our web program and your post today regarding where you believe the enormous holes are in our medical system. Very informative. We also are taking your thoughts very seriously for any projects we offer in the future (and, of course, how we describe them in the outreach materials).

Best,

Troy Centazzo
Natural Approach to Treating Depression series

Wellness Writer said...

Thank you Troy!

Susan

Meredith said...

I wish I had more "positive outcomes" to point to. Then maybe I wouldn't feel so alone about it. Honestly (and I am queer, so I feel okay to say this), it's like being gay in a homophobic area. If people know you're gay, it might start to change some of their minds and other people might also come out or support you, but it's very, very hard to be the first one to come out. Hence why I've been very careful with whom I speak about this health issue.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Meredith,
I believe that finding "normal" role models is one of the problems. It seems to me that so many of the people who do "out themselves" are so sick that I have nothing in common with them nor would I wish to.

Then there's the group whose entire world is within the mental health arena and this is where they feel comfortable, but I don't.

In the last year, I've decided that my future writing probably needs to be oriented elsewhere.

Other than a small core group, I have no idea who reads me, and there may be no more value in continuing to write about the same things over and over.

We'll see!

Susan

Mariposa said...

Hi Susan, sorry, I didn't know you don't memes...but hey, you gave 10 points here...more than the 6 random things that is being asked from the meme...so this is more than fine! :)

I couldn't agree more with you...and that explains why my blog and my post...seems a bit shy from the topic...because I have met so many people in the web who seems symphatetic at first then just wants me to keep buying whatever it is that they're offering!

I want to count myself blessed for having good doctors and that my psychiatrist is also my spiritual director, whom, I may need to add...still maintains openness on topics of religion/faith despite the fact that we both are Catholic.

He did even go as far as understaing the girl...the person in me...thus, sometimes, he asked me to go to the mall with him and we buy stuff together...he made himself a friend, but still keeps the part that I should also know that he is there to help me and that he has an authority not from God...but bec psychiatry is also his profession.

Sometimes I call him and will rant and tell him how life sucks...and amazing it is that he can enumerate to me the things that I love to do...like he'll ask...how's jogging...have you bought a new pair of shoes this week...how did your outreach program do...he just knows me!

And this is what I love about him...getting me into pills is always his last resort! He in fact never called as somebody with bipolar. If I tell him I am depress, he will say, do you feel tired...did you sleep...how's your eating...are you wanting to do something but unmotivated? He tries to break them down...there was a time I asked him is not a form of denial...and he laughs...and he told me one the most meaningful line I've heard from a person I've been asking help from since my diagnosis, he told --

Look at you...you are more than fine...you are successful at what you do...those are not lies, don't you see that every time you look at yourself at the mirror?

And it was also him who told me don't let a negative sentence turns into a paragraph for it will not do me good...and that God does not want me to be shaken.

...so I know that he cares!

He also told me to keep coming here and to interact with you...since I told him it's hard for me to blog about what I go through since not like most of you...I can't talk a lot about pills and all...because in the early phase, they were giving me IVs and only my parents know exactly what are those...and now I have only my B Complex as IV.

Sorry for the long comment...but I only get to talk so much about it here...because you set the topic for me and it is easier for me to comment further than open a new topic.

I'm glad I've found you...and add on to my good doctors!

P.S. I read the news about Abraham Biggs, and my initial thought was, I'm sure Susan will have a good point on the matter. I will try to blog about it this Saturday and link up.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mariposa,
The long post is fine. I think it's great to look at all of this without labeling it as "bipolar." That's what I did for the 25 years before I was diagnosed.

Back then, I just had "down periods" rather than attaching any symptoms to an illness. So, I think your doctor is wise to ask you how you feel and try to find reasons rather than suggesting it's all part of an illness.

You have such a positive attitude about all this and are so proactive that it's probably one of the reasons you feel so well so much of the time.

Fondly,
Susan

Immi said...

I agree with most of what you said, though I'm not angry about it at this point. Give me time. I really appreciate your blog. Your recent posts on depression have been a help to me. I understand if you want to move on to something else, but lack of value here isn't a reason to, that I can see.

Wendalyn Love said...

susan,
I tend to resonate with everything you say in your blog! I do so appreciate your point of view, your steadfast dedication to this topic and perseverence at sharing what you find. I appreciate your positive approach no matter what.
What I have found that with most things in life, these people, these professionals, even friends, and even family will let you down at some point. They are only human. I have learned that people like me and you have to do as much of our own study and self-discovery as we can and mark our own map and be our own advocate. That is hard when you are sick. But thanks to people like you, who encourage us to blog, who validate what we are going through, etc. the journey is almost palitable... although not a trip that any of us would have planned.
I do agree wholeheartedly about the pharmacuetical influences on our medical profession, but despite that we need to keep on plugging.
Again, thank you for your insights and research and your sharing.
Wendalyn

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Immi,
I think it's good that you're not angry. It's not a very helpful healing activity.

Sometimes I think I'm done with feeling that way and then something happens that seems to drudge it up.

I've written before to say that if my doctors had just been honest with me, I would have felt better about them.

But on the one hand they were saying, "You need to take medication for the rest of your life." On the other hand, they had no idea what this medication would do. And whatever happened, they blamed the illness rather than the medication.

Everything I read suggested there was no real chance of true wellness. And, I couldn't find one person online who could provide the support and hope I was seeking.

It makes me feel good that what I'm writing is helpful to you. Thanks for letting me know.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendalyn,
What was devastating was that during all the time I was sick--I worked so hard to get well--and so few people acknowledged it.

I researched everything I could. I read everything that was written. I downloaded more than a thousand pages of information. I kept massive files. I tried every healing technique that seemed viable.

And...that alone was a tremendous feat. While it took years for things to turn around, I never quit.

Yet, the only real positive feedback I received--aside from my husband, and my mother (who died last October), my aunt, a niece, and a few others--is from the people who read this blog.

What continues to bother me is that I know I became sicker and sicker because of the treatment I was given. And I know that doctors everywhere blame the illness rather than the treatment.

But, for those of us who are truly willing to work at wellness--and do end up healing ourselves--it's a stunning accomplishment, and one for which we receive little credit.

So, it's quite heartening to know that what I'm writing about is helpful to you and others.

When I'm feeling well, that makes writing this blog worthwhile. When I'm feeling depressed, I wish there were other blogs and other people I could turn to who would provide the same kind of support for me.

Susan

Jon said...

In many ways, I feel like I was given a quick diagnosis, thrown into the hospital where I learned nothing, started on some strange meds, then thrown out to the wolves. I don't think that the medical community wants to spend quality time with us, but are more interested in processing as many patients as they can through theirs doors in a day. I take my meds, see a therapist and psychiatric nurse practitioner religiously, but I still feel alone.
Thanks to your blog, I feel that there is someone out there who cares. Thanks Susan.
-Jon

Nancie said...

Hi Susan,

Glad your posts are continuing to help many people. We do need more blogs that can post positively and on wellness. This is a wonderful form of support.

I have not been able to post much or visit much. But you are in my thoughts and prayers. May you have a great week ahead. Take care.

Warm regards,
Nancie

Repat said...

Susan: Great post. I just found your blog, and this post resonates with me--particularly points 2, 6 and 8. I've nearly given up on the system because I'm so frustrated by these gaping rifts. And certainly stigma is very real, even within the paradigm of doctor/patient relationships.

Glad to discover your blog. Keep up the great work.

Carrie said...

Life is a journey, not a destination. Our jouneys vary - ups and downs, right turns and left turns.

We can control nothing but ourselves. And for me even that is tenuous.

Susan, support must be actively sought in whatever form(s) you want or need. The kicker is that we don't have the energy to even ask.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jon,
Thanks so much for writing. I'm really glad my blog has been helpful. You caught me at an interesting moment; I was just beginning to feel that maybe it is time to rethink what I'm doing and perhaps move on...but I may have to reconsider.

You have given me food for thought!

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Nancie,
I have been thinking about you as well. I visited a number of time and saw that you hadn't been posting, and figured that perhaps you weren't feeling well. I hope that's not the case.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Repat,
Welcome to my blog. It should make all of us angry, but I'm just not sure what to do about it. A part of me feels I've devoted enough time to all this...and it's time to move on. Another part feels that I'm so pissed, I should make my voice heard in a more dramatic way.

I guess I need to "noodle" a bit more about it. Anyway, thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Carrie,
I'm not exactly sure what you mean...I've certainly actively sought the help I've wanted and needed, and expended a tremendous amount of energy doing so.

I may not actively seek it when I'm depressed, but I've sure as heck sought it when I'm well.

I believe there are so few professionals who "get" it that it's impossible to find someone who can truly help.

Susan

davidhudson01 said...

Relief of symptoms is only the first step in treating depression or bipolar disorder. Wellness, or recovery, is a return to a life that you care about.

Bipolar Support Group