Severe Chronic Anxiety Can Be Deadly

Here is an article that breaks my heart. No one truly understand the devastating, destructive power of severe chronic anxiety; I know this feeling, I live with this feeling, and finally it is breaking into mainstream awareness thanks to the Andrew Kukes Foundation For Social Anxiety. (Visit this link to this desperately needed organization.)

I need only give the title of a recent Detroit Free Press article on this foundation, created in memory of Andrew Kukes who committed suicide as a young man after having lived his entire, brief, life with social anxiety; chronic social anxiety can kill.

Anxiety disorder takes a son away forever
By Kristen Jordan Shamus Detroit Free Press Columnist
August 25, 2012

Maybe you felt it at your wedding, minutes before you stood in front of family and friends to profess your love.
Maybe it hit you just as you were about to give a big presentation at work or before an athletic competition.
Most of us have felt anxiety. It's that pit-in-the stomach panic that takes over just before you have to do something big.

But imagine if you felt that way all the time. Every time you had to speak to someone. Every time you went anywhere. Every time you did anything.

That's how it was for Andrew Kukes. Andrew had social anxiety disorder, an often misdiagnosed, little-understood condition that affects as many as 15 million Americans.

For years, he struggled to find a name for what plagued him. His family tried to help, sending him to specialist after specialist before finally learning what was wrong. But by then, Andrew had sunk into a deep depression.
"My phone rang one day, and it was Andy's older brother, and he said he'd found him and that Andy had killed himself," said his father, Jeff Kukes. "It still haunts us today; we could not find help for Andy."

See the full article at: The Detroit Free Press, thanks to Kristen Jordan Shamus Read More...

Jared Loughner And The Price We Pay for Stigma and Ignorance

This article is not an apology for Jared Loughner’s actions in Arizona. He deserves to be in prison for heinous crimes. But here is a story of a man in a similar situation who received treatment that changed the course of his life. Stigma and ignorance about mental illness only lead to devastated of lives -- individuals who suffer, their families who suffer, and those who may become the victims of violence as demonstrated in the Loughner case. The media as usual has it all wrong; let’s not discuss gun control in this context, let’s talk about treatment for the mentally ill. An ounce of prevention, a pound of cure …
As the author of this article notes:
“So, some may choose to focus on the debate regarding our nation's political rhetoric. But whether we're talking about John Hinckley, Mark Chapman or the more recent example of Jared Loughner, one thing we should all be able to recognize is that mental illness can be a fatal illness – and if left untreated, its costs are overwhelming.”

See the full article at this LINK:

Maine Voices: Where was mental health crisis care before Tucson tragedy happened?
Someone who found help in that city says it was available, but apparently Jared Loughner missed his chance at it.
The Portland Press Herald
(Randy Seaver of Biddeford is married and the stepfather of two boys. He works as a communications consultant.)

BIDDEFORD — The horrific event that transpired in Tucson on Saturday has inspired more than ample discussion regarding the tone and spirit of our nation's political discourse.

Despite all the fervent commentary, there is one piece of this puzzle that remains largely glossed over, however.
And this is where it gets a bit personal. When I was 22, I was living in Tucson and attending college part-time. Just like Jared Loughner, I was removed from school for many of the same reasons.

But I got lucky. I ended up at the Southern Arizona Mental Health Center (SAMHC) and spent the next several weeks there as an inpatient client.

I did not have insurance. I did not have any assets or even a job. My family was in Maine, thousands of miles away.
So, my ability to receive life-saving treatment and long-term support services was funded primarily on the back of the Arizona taxpayer.


Nearly a quarter century later, I like to think that investment has, so far, paid significant dividends. But I can assure you, it was a long-term and risky investment.”

What NOT To Say To Someone With A Brain Disorder

Here we are in the 21st Century and I am still astonished by the lack of knowledge about brain disorders.

I have a plenty of pet peeves about ignorance and stigma, but one of the worst things anyone can do/say to someone with any mental disorder is to deny the veracity of that person's feelings -- real, normal everyday feelings we ALL experience such as sadness, joy, fear, anxiety, discomfort, et al.

If someone with clinical depression (and NO that is not “the blues”) has just lost a much loved pet and is grieving, you don't say, "Oh, that's just your depression, you're over reacting, it's only a dog."

This is something my mother would often do; if I expressed sadness at the end of a summer at camp where I grew to love my new friends, she would tell me "you're acting, it can't be that bad, they’ll forget about you in a week.” Or worse, if I got enraged by her gaslighting or lies she would tell me I was "crazy" or “hysterical” though of course she didn't assist in getting me help for my "craziness.” Oh wait! I was actually “acting!”

ANNOUNCEMENT: FYI to anyone who doesn't know. Someone with a mental illness or brain disorder can actually have normal feelings. It is one of the most painful things to not be taken seriously because one has been open about his or her illness. That should NEVER be used as a weapon or even a defense for unacceptable actions…

This is yet another reason why extremely high functioning individuals who have a mental illness do not reveal it for DECADES. If no one knows they have bipolar or even schizophrenia, well, they're "OK to be with." Often if the illness is revealed (after years of secrecy) an individual will lose friends or be observed differently, even thought he/she is exactly the same individual and has never exhibited “crazy” behavior in front of these same individuals. After the point of revelation a switch is flipped and one is no longer trusted to be a good friend, a co-worker, or even an employee. (Review the story of Elyn Saks.)

Would you doubt a cancer patient who is upset over the loss of a limb, or a loss of libido due to chemotherapy? He is upset. Of course, you accept he is upset as he is a human being with cancer. Somehow as usual, individuals with mental illness aren't "regular" human beings. All "real" illnesses count. I suppose neurology isn't much of a science at all is it?

I have had breast cancer, and though the experience is horrible, I have dealt with it better than the misery of depression and DP/DR and anxiety; I would have a far better attitude towards it WITH A HEALTHY BRAIN.

A few years ago I was foolishly charmed by a man who bowled me over with his affections -- and note I mention I was a FOOL, I'll cop to that, and I am also entitled to being a fool, even though I have a brain disorder. I was needy, I wanted his attention (quite a common situation). Initially it felt wonderful. But he was also abusive at times and quite ignorant about my illness despite having read this site, and despite the fact that his own child has a mental illness -- that is truly sad. He would “forget” I had my own issues as “I looked so normal.” I couldn’t win for losing.

I found out this man was getting remarried and literally contacted me only a few weeks before his wedding, and slowly revealed the truth. When I was angry about what he called his being sometimes "less than truthful" (!!!!! -- note he “isn’t a liar") he told me, on the phone, "I can't talk with you now. You're having one of your episodes."

So in other words, my anger and sadness that he was married was due to my depression, anxiety and DP/DR. Not a genuine rage at his endless lying and cruelty.

More recently I was in a very awkward situation where I was forced to express my discomfort with a friend's uncleanly home. Odors from her home were being transferred to mine (via her car and clothing) and it was becoming unacceptable. I was horrified at having to bring this up and tortured myself about it and assumed it would mean the end of the friendship. I consulted my therapist who said I had to tell her. I scoured the internet for advice, proposed hypothetical solutions to friends who did not know this person, and found the only answer was to confront the individual with honesty and live with the consequences. I had that right.

When I confronted this friend, she said, "Oh, I didn't know … I think we can work on this. Of course I know you have some OCD tendencies … some of this is probably 'real' and some of it is probably 'mental' on your part."

So came the demise of that friendship which is a shame.

But no one, not one of you who has a brain disorder -- anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, DP/DR, OCD -- need APOLOGIZE for your illness. And if someone ever tells you a REAL feeling is related to your "mental disorder" and is "exaggerated" or your feelings may be "part real, part imagined" that is your cue to walk away. That is now my cue to walk away. It's taken me 50 years to figure that one out. Better late than never!

I had to get that off my chest. All identities have been changed to protect "the innocent." And I REALLY feel this way; I am not having an episode, it is not due to my brain disorder -- I am ticked off. Thank you for listening.

PS this was written in anger, legitimate anger. My spellcheck isn’t working. Excuse errors! Those are not due to my mental state either! Oh, and I look perfectly fine as well.

Consciousness in All Animals

As Depersonalization and Derealization involve an excessive focus on the consciousness of who we are, on The Self, on existential thoughts, perceptual distortions, and a hideous angst over the purpose of our lives, I found this article somewhat comforting. I have had many animal companions in my life, cats and dogs, and would swear they have a degree of sensitivity or “awareness” of one’s mood, a sense of joy or fun, and mischief -- endless and humorous “malice aforethought.” They have made me smile, brought me moments of joy and peace I often can find nowhere else.

Having recently lost my Lab Mix, Miss Gracie, I miss how she could always sense my dark days. She and my Border Terrier would come to my side when I was crying or frightened. And now my terrier misses his canine friend of 14 years. He looks for her. They were indeed “best friends” -- there is no other way to describe it. And now, my terrier has become closer to our cat; they sleep together, they both sit on the porch next to each other in the sun as they did when Gracie was here. A terrier friending a cat is most unusual, especially when he used to chase her endlessly and mercilessly for sport.

I thought again why the concept of a psychiatric service dog should be accepted as a legitimate companion for many with mental illness, just as a leader dog is of such value to one who is blind or otherwise physically disabled. (See my link to the Psychiatric Service Dog organization.)

Here is a wonderful article on consciousness by Christof Koch, Chief scientific officer, Allen Institute of Brain Science. I provide a sample. Please check out the link HERE to read the full article.

Consciousness Is Everywhere
Posted: 08/15/2012 3:48 pm - The Huffington Post
Christof Koch, Chief scientific officer, Allen Institute of Brain Science

“Perhaps the most surprising insight that has come out of the past 20 years of scholarly investigation into the nature of consciousness is that it might be far more widely shared among all of nature's children than most of us think. By consciousness I mean the ability to feel something, anything -- whether it's the sensation of an azure-blue sky, a tooth ache, being sad, or worrying about the deadline two weeks from now. Indeed, it may be possible that all animals share some minimal amount of sentience with people, that all animals have some feelings, however primitive.”