Thursday, September 17, 2020

Autism; Aging Out in a Covid Pandemic – Part I


"Aging Out" - A Mom Releases Fear Built Over a Lifetime. 

For years I have lived with fear. Fear that feels like a quiet hum; always buzzing on the fringe of my consciousness. Fear, I think every parent who has relied on educational and therapeutic support for their child's care can relate to. 

It is fear of what those of us in the developmental disabilities community calls “Aging Out”, and it’s our collective Boogie Man!

For most of our children there will be no ongoing education, no higher-level learning, no exciting jobs, careers, dating, independent travels, marriage or children. Like other kids they graduate from high-school with lots of congratulations and accolades for a job well done, but the words fall flat when they are sent home to nothing or lack luster day programs. 

Since his diagnosis, I imagined by the time he graduated from high school there would be a variety of viable educational, work and life programs for this growing population. That has not been the case. The pickings are slim and although many programs sound good and the brochures look great, underneath, today's programs are not much different than the day programs of the past.  That is why I see images of my son – who deserves to continue to grow and learn like everyone else – overweight, being driven around town in a white van, eating donuts and junk food walking with a colorful rope tied around his waist. The rope connects him to another person with developmental disabilities, who connects to another and this continues until the group forms a long line connecting them as they all walk shopping malls and assorted destinations with no real purpose. The thought of that being his life once he “aged out” is what I have been afraid of since he was diagnosed with autism 20 years ago.


But few things happen exactly as we imagine, including “Aging Out”. Thanks to Covid 19 Nick effectively aged out sooner than planned.  But it wasn’t just our household facing this drastic shift, the entire world was sent home, not just Nick.   And instead of going from graduation to no supports, last March we were thrown into a different kind of chaos eliminating school, friends and supports over a 5-month period instead of overnight.  

Instead of his school experience and supports ending the summer school concluded, Nick went from school to home, to online school (not useful for Nick) to online graduation, to online summer school, to nothing. Amidst the chaos of Covid all families were stressed with change, everyone was home, and there was nowhere for him to go because everything was closed. So instead of “Aging Out” being the biggest concern in my world, it was just one of them.


 I was not alone is sudden change, which in a weird way seemed to soften the impact of the moment and what was to come. I was just like every parent in the country struggling to figure out what to do with children who were suddenly home all day!   I was like all the other parents struggling to be their kid’s teacher, coach and playmate while trying to work myself in a Covid-19 world.  I don’t mean to be a jerk, but there was something oddly comforting about knowing I was not alone, because in a way all of our kids had just “Aged Out”, even if only temporarily. Ironic that families around the world were experiencing the pain and panic I knew was coming, but they never expected.


I however, did have an advantage over most parents because this is not my first fear rodeo! This phase mirror’s the early stages when Nick was diagnosed with Autism. While other 2- and 3-year old’s were going to preschool, I was sent home, with my nonverbal 2-year-old kiddo in tow, to figure out our life on our own. Armed only with the knowledge that autism was a lifelong developmental disability with no known cause or cure that would require lifelong care. I remember feeling like I was staring into the abyss with no idea what to do, where to go, what would come next or how we would handle it.  It’s been a long journey from diagnosis to aging out. Yes, I am fatigued, but I am so grateful to have made it here. As I stare down the tunnel of what’s next, I am hoping the bright light, is a flashlight to guide me and it is not a train.

Parents of most neurotypical children anticipate a life after high school graduation for their children as a stepping stone into the future. A future, commencement speeches describe as filled with purpose, hope and optimism. That is not the reality of most families raising children with autism and other developmental disabilities. We don’t experience graduation as the start of a new chapter filled with exciting possibilities, purpose, college or work, dating, marriage and children. Instead the landscape for life after high school for our children looks like the end of their best times, a downhill slope offering little or no hope for the future.


Why? Because the world does not value investing in their ongoing education or building a future for our children.  I took Nick off the diploma track to delay this moment as long as I could. Leaving the diploma track meant he could stay in school until he turned 22. Staying in school provided an opportunity for him to continue to learn, while staying engaged in a safe regular routine with his friends for as long as possible. I took him off the diploma track while he was in middle school specifically to postpone the inevitable; the day school would end and with it  options for an engaging fulfilling life. 

Since his diagnosis, I imagined by the time he graduated from high school there would be a variety of viable educational, work and life programs for this growing population. That has not been the case. The pickings are slim and although many programs sound good and the brochures look great, underneath today's programs are not much different than the day programs of the past.  That is why I see images of my son – who deserves to continue to grow and learn like everyone else – overweight, being driven around town in a white van, eating donuts and junk food walking with a colorful rope tied around his waist. The rope connects him to another person with developmental disabilities, who connects to another and this continues until the group forms a long line connecting them as they all walk shopping malls and assorted destinations with no real purpose. The thought of that being his life once he “aged out” is what I have been afraid of since he was diagnosed with autism 20 years ago.

But few things happen exactly as we imagine, including “Aging Out”. Thanks to Covid 19 Nick effectively aged out sooner than planned.  But it wasn’t just our household facing this drastic shift, the entire world was sent home, not just Nick.   And instead of going from graduation to no supports, last March we were thrown into a different kind of chaos eliminating school, friends and supports over a 5-month period instead of overnight.  Instead of his school experience and supports ending the summer school concluded, Nick went from school to home, to online school (not useful for Nick) to online graduation, to online summer school, to nothing. Amidst the chaos of Covid all families were stressed with change, everyone was home, and there was nowhere for him to go because everything was closed. So instead of “Aging Out” being the biggest concern in my world, it was just one of them.

 I was not alone is sudden change, which in a weird way seemed to soften the impact of the moment and what was to come. I was just like every parent in the country struggling to figure out what to do with children who were suddenly home all day!   I was like all the other parents struggling to be their kid’s teacher, coach and playmate while trying to work myself in a Covid-19 world.  I don’t mean to be a jerk, but there was something oddly comforting about knowing I was not alone, because in a way all of our kids had just “Aged Out”, even if only temporarily. Ironic that families around the world were experiencing the pain and panic I knew was coming, but they never expected. 

I however, did have an advantage over those parents who had not been caring for their children 24/7, because this was not my first fear rodeo! I had experience providing all of his education at home, and I since my son didn't have friends, or playdates I was used to providing his social life. Who, know that would be an upside! But it was because this phase of our journey mirror’s the early stages when Nick was diagnosed with Autism. When I was sent home armed only with the knowledge that autism was a lifelong developmental disability with no known cause or cure, that would require lifelong careWhile other 2- and 3-year old’s were going to preschool, I was home with my nonverbal 2-year-old kiddo trying to figure out life on our own and learning how to be everything to my child. 

I remember feeling like I was staring into the abyss with no idea what to do, where to go, what would come next or how we would handle it.  
It’s been a long journey from diagnosis to aging out. Sometimes moving unbelievably fast, and other times painfully slow.  But we made it. We are staring down the tunnel of what’s next. Praying and hoping the bright light at the end, is a flashlight to guide us and it is not a train.
 
 



 


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Urgent Alert: Significant and increasing delays in the delivery of Prescription Medication Shipments

 

ALERT: If you get essential medication mailed from a pharmacy, please consider  having your prescriptions transferred to a physical pharmacy to ensure getting them on time! 


We have all heard about the changes to the post office and how they would affect the election in November. I had friends who work at the postal office tell me how the large sorting machines had been removed, and how the mail boxes pulled from the streets were piled up with our mail still in them!  Yet, because "Politics" are involved in the narrative I didn't want to automatically fall into the world of political blame when a check I mailed to my sister 3 weeks ago - who lives 20 minutes away from me - still has not arrived. Albeit frustrating, I decided to treat it as an isolated incident that would probably not occur again, since missing mail didn't just begin with Trumps appointment of the latest U.S. Postmaster General. 

Despite my desire to keep an open mind and not rush to judgement, the realities of the postal service dismantling are real, and sadly it's clear to me that politics have once again taken priority over people. Slow or missing mail is not just inconvenient but dangerous and potentially deadly as the missing and delayed mail now includes my son's vital prescription medications. In his case some of the medications must be administered on time to avoid immediate negative consequences. Something all families who have children on seizure and ASD drugs can attest to. 

 Anyone who has used mail pharmacy services knows, the process of moving a prescription from mail order to a physical pharmacy is not quick. Prescription transfers typically take several calls to arrange, lot's of time on hold and the transfer is not immediate, further delaying getting medications. This process would be difficult enough in a pre-covid world, but it presents an additional layer of complications forcing those with compromised immune systems to visit a pharmacy in person, risking exposure to Covid or other illnesses.  I keep a back up of all of Nick's medications for emergencies, so the delay did not put him in danger this time. That said, keeping additional medications on hand is not easy because his medications are doled out in 30 day increments and request for additional medication for emergencies are usually ignored. No doubt a cost saving measure implemented by the insurance companies.  I am strong, I do not have a compromised immune system so I am able to go into the pharmacy and get Nicks medications. I know this is not the case for everyone, which makes this a very dangerous situation for many Americans. 

 Today I decided to jump on the internet and see if this problem was isolated; to me, my area, my mail pharmacy and it not! This is happening across the country and there is not reason to believe it will stop soon. This is why I am encouraging all families to avoid putting themselves are risk and begin the process now of moving your medication to a physical pharmacy where you can pick them us.  

Here is an article I found that supports my experience. 

US pharmacies have seen “significant and increasing” delays in the delivery of prescription drugs through the US Postal Service under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, according to a new report from Senate Democrats. Pharmacies questioned for the report rely heavily on the USPS. The investigation was conducted in light of changes DeJoy made this summer that caused widespread delays across the country, though the Postal Service has blamed service disruptions on the coronavirus pandemic. The USPS chief is now facing more scrutiny after the House Oversight Committee announced it's launching an investigation into reports that DeJoy, a Trump donor, reimbursed employees for donating to GOP candidates.

 


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

 On the heels of such happy news about my recent community experience with Nick, another mother suffers the unimaginable when Utah police shot her 13-year-old autistic son after she called 911 for help.  

"Why didn’t you just tackle him?” said his mother, Golda Barton. “He’s a baby. He has mental issues.”  This mom is not alone nationwide, police have seriously injured and killed scores of mentally ill people when called by relatives or bystanders to help, including in recent high-profile cases like that of Daniel Prude, a 29-year-old Black man who died of asphyxiation after Rochester, N.Y., police put a hood over his head during a mental health episode in March. 

The problem is so acute some cities have moved toward sending non-police crisis units to respond to mental health emergencies. This needs to happen across America and it needs to happen now to keep this scenario from playing out over and over. 



‘He’s a small child’: Utah police shot a 13-year-old autistic boy after his mother called 911 for help
Linden Cameron, 13, was shot repeatedly by police after his mother called 911 to ask for help with the autistic boy, his family says.
Linden Cameron, 13, was shot repeatedly by police after his mother called 911 to ask for help with the autistic boy, his family says. (KUTV)
September 8, 2020 at 12:30 a.m. PDT

When Golda Barton dialed 911 on Friday, she hoped emergency responders could help hospitalize her 13-year-old son, who has Asperger syndrome and was having a mental crisis.

Instead, a Salt Lake City police officer repeatedly shot Linden Cameron after he ran away, leaving the boy in serious condition with injuries to his intestines, bladder, shoulder and ankles. Barton says he was unarmed, and police said they didn’t find a weapon at the scene.

“He’s a small child. Why didn’t you just tackle him?” Barton said in a tearful interview with KUTV on Sunday. “He’s a baby. He has mental issues.”

Barton said she’s gotten few answers from police. Salt Lake City’s mayor pledged on Sunday that an investigation into the incident would be quick.

“No matter the circumstances, what happened on Friday night is a tragedy, and I expect this investigation to be handled swiftly and transparently for the sake of everyone involved,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall (D) said in a statement to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Local autism advocates also decried the shooting and called for changes to how police respond to mental health crises.

“Police were called because help was needed but instead more harm was done when officers from the SLPD expected a 13-year-old experiencing a mental health episode to act calmer and collected than adult trained officers,” Neurodiverse Utah said in a statement.

Nationwide, police have seriously injured and killed scores of mentally ill people when called by relatives or bystanders to help, including in recent high-profile cases like that of Daniel Prude, a 29-year-old Black man who died of asphyxiation after Rochester, N.Y., police put a hood over his head during a mental health episode in March. The problem is so acute some cities have moved toward sending non-police crisis units to respond to mental health emergencies.

Scenes from Rochester’s Daniel Prude protests
Late in the evening on Sept. 4, protesters took to the streets of Rochester, N.Y., calling for justice for Daniel T. Prude. (The Washington Post)

That’s the type of help Barton said she was hoping to find when she called an emergency line around 10 p.m. on Friday. 

Her son is a typical 13-year-old, she wrote in a GoFundMe page for his medical bills — a boy who loves “video games, four wheeling, and longboarding” and “is always looking for ways to help people out.”

But he has also long battled severe separation anxiety when she leaves him alone, she told KUTV, and Friday was her first day back at work in almost a year. She called 911 when he suffered a mental breakdown, she said.

“You call them, and they’re supposed to come out and be able to de-escalate a situation using the most minimal force possible,” she told KUTV.

When police arrived, she said she told them that Cameron was not armed and just needed to be taken to a hospital.

“I said, ‘He’s unarmed. He doesn’t have anything. He just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming,’” she said. “He’s a kid. He’s trying to get attention. He doesn’t know how to regulate.”Police told her to stay outside while they entered her house, she said. Barely five minutes later, she said she heard them ordering her son to the ground and then, a volley of gunfire.

In a briefing with reporters later that night, a police spokesman suggested officers believed the boy might have a weapon. Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said officers showed up at the house after reports about “a juvenile that was having a mental episode, a psychotic episode, that had made threats to some folks with a weapon.”

Horrocks said Cameron fled the house on foot, and that one officer then shot him. Salt Lake City police handed the case over to outside investigators, and Horrocks pledged to hold a full briefing on the findings within 10 days.

“Our investigators obviously will be looking at body-camera footage,” he said.

Barton said after the shooting, her son was handcuffed and police couldn’t tell her whether he was dead. She said she still doesn’t understand why officers would shoot him.

“Why didn’t they Tase him? Why didn’t they shoot him with a rubber bullet?” she asked on KUTV. “You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources. Come on. Give me a break.” 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Keeping Our Young Black Special Needs Boys Safe Takes A Village - Build Your Own

We all deserve to feel safe in our communities, which is not a given if you're young, black, and disabled! I am so grateful to live in a community were a single communication created a safety net for my special kiddo! 

It Takes a Village — and a Mom’s Love

Donna Ross-Jones with daughter Evyn and son Nick. Photo by Daniel Deitch.

First comes the feeling of not being good enough. Next comes the grief. Finally, and hardest of all, comes the fear. A lot of thoughts and emotions flood Donna Ross-Jones on a regular basis as she juggles being a successful business leader with being a single mother caring for her autistic son, Nick.

“As Nick’s mom, I have to fight off comparing his life to the lives of others, or I get caught up in sadness and loss for his future,” says Ross-Jones, founder and CEO of Transition Music Corporation. “And there’s the grief of watching your child getting judged day in and day out. Watching people stare, knowing they are thinking the worst of him, making assumptions about who he is, and then wanting nothing to do with him.”

The past several months have felt like a roller coaster for Ross-Jones, with everything seeming to reach a climax following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The tragic event left her distraught and fearful, she says, that her son “is not safe because he is a young Black man and does not have the ability to respond correctly if he was ever in a situation with law enforcement.” That’s when she took to the social media platform Nextdoor to express her feelings and bring awareness to residents of the Toluca Lake area, in the hopes that helping them get to know Nick and understand his behavior would help to protect him.

Ross-Jones posted a photo of Nick holding a sign that read, in part, “Dear community, I am a great guy. I have a family that loves me. I do have autism. I like everyone … especially girls. I don’t have any fear of you, or the police. I am not good with social cues. I am almost always smiling. I am not dangerous, just in my own world.”

In the post, Ross-Jones wrote, “I want you to know he’s an amazing guy, and I consider all of you to be part of our village where I know he is safe. So, if you could look out for him in these crazy times and if you do see him out and about, and you’re so inclined, please say hello.”

The hundreds of responses that soon poured in — from neighbors offering to drop off books for Nick to others saying the post restored their faith in humanity — was enough to fill Ross-Jones’ heart with immense gratitude. While her family lives in Studio City, they’ve been Toluca Lake regulars for years, enjoying many meals at Ca’ Del Sole, Riverside and Santuari, as well as shopping for books and DVDs at the Discovery Shop. Ross-Jones says the response has given her even more reasons to love the community.

“I was surprised and overwhelmed that anyone took the time to respond, much less hundreds of people,” she says. “This post was my way of letting them see the Nick I see, know and love.”

In addition to raising Nick and her daughter, Evyn, Ross-Jones has spent years of hard work building one of the top music publishing companies in the country. Her dedication has led to an Emmy Award, 10 platinum and gold records, and recognition as Essence magazine’s Entrepreneur of Excellence. Asked what she credits her success to, she answers simply: “The biggest part is my confidence, honesty, vulnerability and true desire to step up and serve in ways that uplift others.”

The honesty and vulnerability that have helped Ross-Jones throughout her career have also helped thousands of families going through the same trials and tribulations she has. The blog she started several years ago, Autism Day by Day, has been viewed by over three million people and is an official resource for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to educate professionals on autism. With hundreds of articles on topics ranging from COVID-19 resources for people with developmental disabilities to the best states to live in for people with autism, as well as narratives of her personal experiences, Ross-Jones’ reach has been greater than she could have ever imagined.

“People have told me this is what they share to help family, friends, teachers and parents with newly diagnosed children and caregivers understand the experience of raising a child with autism, not just from a clinical point of view, but from a very personal one,” she says. “Greatest of all is knowing that Nick and I make a difference because people use the blog to learn, laugh and find encouragement.”

As much as Ross-Jones has done for her son — striving to give him the best care and life possible, protecting him from mental and emotional abuse, and being there for him during life’s biggest challenges — the impact Nick has had on her is perhaps even greater. “I might have gone the rest of my life not learning how judgmental I was, or how limited my perspective of life was,” she says. “Something happened to me when I realized the person being negatively judged was my child. I often say, before Nick, my life was composed of a series of colors, the pretty colors that came in the 24-pack of Crayola crayons; it was a good life. Because of Nick and his sister, my life is now oozing with colors from the 152 Ultimate Collection set! I’ve learned how much I could love, forgive and give. I don’t think there is any aspect of my life that is not better as a result of having Nick as my son.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Understanding Kanye West's Bipolar Disorder

Today Kanye's wife Kim Kardashian West asked the world for compassion and privacy as their family battles the realities of living with someone with Bipolar Disorder. 

Understand, then offer understanding. Learn more about mental health so you can help others and drop some of the judgement. 


Understanding Kanye West's Bipolar Disorder
— From a presidential bid to Satanic vaccines -- could this represent a full-blown manic episode?
by Michele R. Berman, MD, and Mark S. Boguski, MD, PhD July 15, 2020
There have been several reports that Kim Kardashian-West is "concerned" about her husband, rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West, and some of his recent behavior. Kanye, 43, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016 and Kim is concerned that West may be going through a manic period.
On the Fourth of July, West announced that he was running for President. A few days later, he did a 4-hour rambling interview with Forbes magazine. Some of the unusual statements he made included:
  • He's running for president in 2020 under the new banner of the Birthday Party. Tesla/Space X founder Elon Musk is giving him advice, and he will name a preacher from Wyoming as his vice-presidential candidate. In addition, he said, "I'm speaking with experts, I'm going to speak with Jared Kushner, the White House, with Biden."
  • He no longer supports President Trump: "I'm taking the red hat off."
  • He's suspicious of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, as vaccines are "the mark of the beast."
  • He believes "Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil's work."
  • He envisions a White House organizational model based on the fictitious country of Wakanda in the "Black Panther" film.
In a 2019 interview in Vogue magazine, Kardashian-West openly discussed her husband's mental health issues. She said that, in the past, West found it hard to accept that he has bipolar disorder, telling people that he was instead suffering from sleep deprivation. However, she said that he now accepts his diagnosis. "'I think we're in a pretty good place with it now,' she said, adding that West has a newfound sense of purpose -- to show that you can live a normal life with mental illness. 'It is an emotional process, for sure. Right now everything is really calm. But we can definitely feel episodes coming, and we know how to handle them.'"
But for West, "handling them" doesn't include medications. According to Kardashian-West, "For him, being on medication is not really an option, because it just changes who he is."
Speaking with David Letterman last year for his Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, West explained that taking medication every day can "ramp him up" which can be a double-edged sword: "[W]hen you ramp up, it expresses your personality more" and you have "a heightened connection with the universe," as well as more energy and productivity. But West also admitted that during his manic periods he may suffer from racing thoughts, irritability, sleep loss, and paranoia or psychosis. "When you're in this state, you're hyper-paranoid about everything.... Everything's a conspiracy. You feel the government is putting chips in your head. You feel you're being recorded. You feel all these things."
Whether West will actually run for president remains to be seen. On Wednesday, he reportedly filed some of the paperwork necessary to appear on ballots, but he has already missed deadlines for certain states and more filings are needed for the rest. Even as a write-in candidate, some states require paperwork filed in advance for those votes to be counted.
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and behavior. People with bipolar disorder experience both dramatic "highs," called manic episodes, and "lows," called depressive episodes. These episodes can last from hours to weeks, and many people have no symptoms between episodes.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are four types of bipolar disorder:
  • Bipolar I Disorder is an illness in which people have experienced one or more episodes of mania. Most people diagnosed with bipolar I will have episodes of both mania and depression, though an episode of depression is not necessary for a diagnosis. To be diagnosed with bipolar I, a person's manic episodes must last at least seven days or be so severe that hospitalization is required.
  • Bipolar II Disorder is a subset of bipolar disorder in which people experience depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but never a "full" manic episode.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder or Cyclothymia is a chronically unstable mood state in which people experience hypomania and mild depression for at least two years. People with cyclothymia may have brief periods of normal mood, but these periods last less than eight weeks.
  • Bipolar Disorder "other specified" and "unspecified" is when a person does not meet the criteria for bipolar I, II, or cyclothymia but has still experienced periods of clinically significant abnormal mood elevation.
Bipolar disorder affects nearly 6 million adults in the U.S., or about 2.6% of the population over 18 years of age. The median age of onset is 25 years, although the illness can start as early as childhood or as late as the 40s or 50s. It affects men and women equally and is found in all racial and ethnic groups and all social classes.
Much has been written about the depressive side of bipolar disorder, while much less material is available about the manic side (it doesn't even get its own page on the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH website). This article will focus on mania.
The primary symptoms of mania include:
  • Talkativeness
  • Rapid speech
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activity
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Expansive mood
  • Mood lability
  • Impulsivity
  • Irritability
Mania also commonly presents with psychotic features, which include delusions or hallucinations. Many patients endorse grandiose delusions, believing they are high-level operatives such as spies, government officials, members of secret agencies, or that they are knowledgeable professionals despite lacking such background. These individuals may also experience auditory or visual hallucinations, which only present when they are in the manic phases. Some of the most common delusions are delusions of paranoia, in which patients believe that people are stalking, targeting, or surveilling them. They may believe this to be done by government agencies, gangs, or others.
These patients are highly unlikely to respond to outsiders' views on their psychosis as well as their mania. A component of the manic phase is that the individuals themselves generally do not realize what is happening (poor insight). The problem is mainly noticed by others, including family members, friends, and even strangers or police.
Unlike full-blown mania, hypomania does not cause major difficulties in social or occupational function. In addition, it tends to last at least 4 days, but usually not as long as a week.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Treatment can help many people, including those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy, also called "talk therapy."
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder are free of mood changes, but some people may have lingering symptoms. Long-term, continuous treatment can help people manage these symptoms.
Medications generally used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers and second-generation ("atypical") antipsychotics. Treatment plans may also include medications that target sleep or anxiety. Health care providers often prescribe antidepressant medication to treat depressive episodes in bipolar disorder, combining the antidepressant with a mood stabilizer to prevent triggering a manic episode. Examples of these types of medications include:
Mood stabilizers: To control episodes of mania
  • Lithium (Lithobid)
  • Valproic acid (Depakene)
  • Divalproex sodium (Depakote)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
Antipsychotics: Added if symptoms of depression or mania persist despite treatment with other medications
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
Antidepressants: Used to control depressive symptoms. Because an antidepressant can sometimes trigger a manic episode, it's usually prescribed along with a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic. An extensive discussion of the many types of antidepressants is beyond the scope of this article.
Michele R. Berman, MD, and Mark S. Boguski, MD, PhD, are a wife and husband team of physicians who have trained and taught at some of the top medical schools in the country, including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Washington University in St. Louis. Their mission is both a journalistic and educational one: to report on common diseases affecting uncommon people and summarize the evidence-based medicine behind the headlines.


Question From A Kid in A Cage

Speechless


#continuetheconversation
#vote
#humanity
#savethechildren

Friday, July 17, 2020

Death of a Superpower

Death of A Super Power

Descriptions commonly used when others describe me;
always positive, happy, kind, optimistic, rose colored glasses, upbeat, determined and strong.

I am that person to my core. I love being this person. These traits are my superpowers. They are the superpowers that made building a business possible in a crazy industry, where few women thrive. They are the powers that make being a single mom, raising two kids alone, and raising a son with autism; no matter how challenging, a place where I find enormous joy. 

Being this person fuels me, keeps me safe; connected to the things important to me and protects me in a world that otherwise might be too much for me.

But loss, especially prolonged loss can make a person think differently. In my case it wasn't one loss it was a barrage of loss, personal and societal. One loss after another in a short period of time, four years to be exact. With no time to recover from one loss to the next loss, I was weakening unaware my superpowers, my shield was thinning, cracking. 

This period began with the loss of our cherished dog of 16 years, Shadow. Shadow was my daughters’ best friend and her confidant. Shadow was her “Person”.  

Then two weeks later my mom. My brilliant compassionate and to me perfect mom who had been living with us since her diagnosis of cancer, who I was blessed to nurse during her hospice. My beloved mom who helped me raise my kids. My mom who is why I am who I am, why I exist. My mom who gave me the gift of being beside her, holding her hand when she took her last breath.  

My mom was gone. My daughter and I had both in a matter of weeks lost our anchors and the house, our home was missing two souls and it felt empty. 

Next came the sudden death of a young friend, the fires in Australia. I would wake at night imagining my friends suffering, and my mind filled with visions of millions of animals dying, burned to death. All the while living a daily discomfort resulting from a President who left me feeling abandoned as an American, a human being.




Then came the search and subsequent tragic loss of my sister through unimaginable circumstances. Our reality played out like a chilling episode of Nightline, not real life. Not my life.

When reality sank in, and the raw hurt of the moment settled, a new feeling began to set in. I can only describe this feeling as a deep all encompassing fatigue - a sort of dull low-grade hurting in my heart. 

My family of four, my mom and three girls was now only two. 


And, before I could identify what I was feeling, much less catch my breath, we were on lock down. Covid 19 hit America introducing the world to a new reality. People were scared and scrambling. For me it was dual reality. I was sad for humans but I felt happy for the earth who was clearing, demanding a break from the daily human activities destroying her. She needed and deserved a break. 


The day my daughter’s office closed due to Covid and workers across the Globe were sent home to shelter in place, came the news a dear friend had inoperable brain cancer and eight weeks later she slipped away. Fatigue.

Fatigue turned to despair as I watched George Floyd. Over and over we watched a man being murdered by those whose job description is "Protect and Serve". 
My shield crumbled. 




Thinking of my children, unable to escape the truths of racism, I felt fear. I have diligently worked to ignore and keep this truth out of their daily narrative. A truth I work to allude and insulate myself from by living in a very liberal community. A community where the racist communiques are subtle taps, not blatant attacks with guns, police knees or batons; creating an illusion of safety for me and my children. 

My children, my precious fabulous children with brown skin are not safe. This truth is just too much for this mama. Too painful. My children are in danger just for being them, and as a parent the danger is one, I can’t protect them from. I close my eyes and I see them being harmed and I'm helpless. I’ve become too porous. I seem to feel the pain of the world, it's people, the planet. I am like an open wound with exposed nerves and my positivity has been replaced with reflexes of pain and grief.  For the first time in my life I was asking myself "What's the Point?"  What matters in a world where a living being, an innocent person can beg for life, and still to be killed. What does it matter that we work hard to build a life for ourselves and our children when they are not safe anywhere. What does it matter that we put them through school, if when they graduate into a world where the wealth inequality makes financial success impossible for most. What does it matter that we do our best to be good law abiding Americans, while others in the highest of positions disregard the rule of law and our Constitution. What does it matter when the world seems to be going up in flames fueled by greed, fear, racism, rage and destruction? 

Without my superpowers to protect me, I can't stop asking myself "What's the Point?"  This is not a suicidal type question, it is a despair question. Because for the first time in my life I had no answer. No optimistic retort, no positive spin. I had nothing, I was blank. 

Then out of this fatigue came hints of possibility, hints of what could still be. Maybe everything had not gone to shit, instead maybe it was all being broken down so the universe could rebuild..and in seeing this I was clearly feeling  more me. 

I watched the country collectively agree to have a conversation about policing, racial equality and the role we all play in it. I watched young people stand up and say "No More", because they don't want to live in a world with this type of injustice and inequity. 

That's when it hit me. Evolution is ongoing, stopping for nothing in or of this moment. The universe is old, and it is wise beyond not just our knowledge, but our comprehension.  It’s been here for a period of time; we can’t quantify or comprehend. Our universe has literally experienced the unimaginable, yet here it is, here we are. 

This leaves me where I am right now. Thinking, maybe there is no big idea, just this, life. Perhaps our only purpose is having a human experience. A wonderful human experience with all that entails; nature, love, food, joy, pain, hope, intelligence, family.  

And, what if we only get this brief moment in time to learn how to love ourselves, each other and this planet and then we leave it.

When I make it all that simple, I feel better.  
When I make it that simple, I know what to do. 

Be, Live, Love