Hi! I just made an interactive MEDIAL view of the brain. You can check it out at this link: http://web.pdx.edu/~kristinb/Brains/brainmedialEX2.html
Hi Everybody! I made an interactive brain diagram of the lateral view of the brain that you can check out at this link: http://web.pdx.edu/~kristinb/Brains/brainlateralEX.html
This is a great presentation/speech. I hope you can watch and share it! It really needs to go viral! Hopefully the correct video will play. It is a TED talk about mental illness and community.
Hey Everybody! I recently made this new brain/neuron fabric and gift wrap! I made a giant brain pillow for my psychiatrist too, and he seemed to like it which was awesome! :) Here are some pics! Also, the fabric, gift wrap, and wall paper are available on spoonflower here: http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/3713721
Recently I made a medication change (with the help of my psychiatrist), and as you might know from your own interactions with meds sometimes it can cause issues to develop. I was happily strolling along for a couple of months with a few bad days here and there, and then I started to notice the bad days piling up more often. I was really irritable, sad, became unmotivated, and suicide starting sounding better. I became alarmed, because I knew something was going wrong, but how was I supposed to explain to my psychiatrist that “irritable” is a symptom for me?
The problem with mental illness is that even when we fit into a diagnosed category of disorder, we all have our own unique symptoms that we need to pay attention to. I have schizophrenia, but for years I didn’t appear “sick enough” to most doctors, because they expected me to be talking to the walls and completely disheveled. There were times when I was talking to the walls and completely disheveled, but the doctors rarely saw me during those times, so they figured I wasn’t that bad off. Because I could communicate relatively well most doctors dismissed schizophrenia as a diagnosis.
Over the years I have come to realize what my symptoms are (for the most part), and now that I am doing better I can advocate for myself more effectively. However, it still isn’t easy to call up my psychiatrist and say “wow, I’m extremely irritable, this isn’t normal for me, and I need to increase my meds.” Most psychiatrists won’t believe that “irritable” is in any way related to schizophrenia, but for me (and many others) it is. I don’t become psychotic over night, and I don’t believe that I should have to be talking to walls in order to get the help I need. I also don’t believe that people should have to try to kill themselves before mental health professionals take people seriously.
Unfortunately, a lot of mental health professionals won’t take a person seriously unless they are debilitated to the point of needing to be hospitalized. So, as people living with mental illness or people who love people with mental illness, we have to be very proactive about getting the help we need before it turns into a crisis. Think about the good days and what you are like on those days, and compare them to the bad days. What are YOUR symptoms? How do things manifest in your day to day life? You might want to write down what you know your symptoms to be, and take that list with you when you talk to your doctor. It isn’t easy or fun, but we have to advocate for ourselves even when we are not doing our best.
In the end, you know your symptoms the best. Remember that you aren’t “crazy” for wanting to feel better and you aren’t making up excuses. Be pragmatic and straightforward, and get the help you need.
Hi! I’m happy to report I got my Cure Alliance schizophrenia magnet today! Strange that my bumper wouldn’t hold the magnet! haha. Anyway, please check them out at the Cure Alliance Facebook page here. Also, see the related post I made about their campaign here.
I thought I’d do a little mental health update, since it has been quite some time since I’ve blogged about my overall mental health. As some of you dear readers may know, I have schizophrenia. I first had issues with it when I was about 15. My first hospitalization was when I was 16. Towards the end of 2000 I got mostly stabilized with my Haldol injections and Zoloft. I haven’t been in the hospital since then! Yay! Quite a long run I’ve had and I hope it continues! For quite some time I had problems getting things done, being motivated and feeling down…that sort of thing, even though I was mostly fine. I think it was last year that I started taking Abilify and it has made a HUGE difference! I’m still taking Zoloft, Buspar, Haldol and some non-psychiatric meds in addition to the Abilify, but the addition of the Abilify was great. I’m doing really pretty well these days. Sometimes I have anxiety, although I think it might generally be related to performance issues with school. I also tried taking Topamax to help with weight loss, but I thought it might be making me stupid and giving me more anxiety, so I quit taking it. I think overall, the Topamax was not helping. It seemed like I was becoming less motivated and more sad with it. I also had that bad anxiety day that I wrote about recently.
So, I think I was just hoping for a magic weightloss bullet with the Topamax. It didn’t work. Boo. I have lost about 90-100 pounds though which is good, but I still need to be less sedentary. I’m also a believer in fat acceptance, but of course it is hard to say that I never want to try to lose weight. I would be an even bigger believer in fat acceptance if I wasn’t actually fat I think!!! hahaha. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is kind of true. I can accept the hell out of everyone’s fatness, but my own! lol.
Anyway, enough about fatness for now. What I want to say is that I’m doing well on the whole. My sleep patterns have improved with my sleep apnea machine, and while I’m not sleeping on any kind of normal schedule yet, I’m getting sleep every day and mostly at the same time! I still tend to be somewhat paranoid, but I’ve found that opening up with people over the years on the internet has really helped me to realize that I don’t need to be afraid of everyone in the world. I still have some delusional thoughts that blow through my brain now and then, but I consider them to be more of a slight annoyance than a big deal right now. But seriously, it is because of the medicine. If I wasn’t taking my meds, and doing so faithfully, I would be in and out of hospitals and massively psychotic. Some people don’t believe me, because I “seem so normal,” but I have to wonder what THAT means anyway? And, I don’t know, it seems like I should be insulted when people say that to me, but I’m not sure why I find it so insulting! I don’t necessarily want to be abnormal, even though I pretty much am, but I think it just bothers me that people attach a kind of value judgement to the term “normal” as if “normal” is superior. It is definitely easier to live in the world if you are “normal,” but it isn’t the only way to be in the world, that’s for sure. Normal is just such a peculiar word, no?
So, I’m doing fine. Some anxiety here and there, some weird thoughts here and there…a depressed mood now and then, but mostly just good. Which is nice. Thank you meds and thank you lucky stars! So, that’s my update after living with schizophrenia for 24 years. Wow! 24 years! Man am I getting old!!! LOL.
This last week we were learning about the auditory system in neuroscience class. These are the drawings I came up with for the assignment we had to do. He said that they didn’t have to be anatomically correct and could be schematic, so the second picture is more of a schematic drawing.
I’m not quite sure if I got all of the parts in the right spots for this one. It is pretty hard to draw from multiple images and get everything in one pic. This is supposed to be the medial view of the human brain. :) Click the pic to enlarge.
This is the 4th pic for my neuro class. It is a drawing of the lateral human brain with only some of the parts. These are the parts we had to label. :) You can click the picture for a larger view. NOTE: The orbitofrontal cortex was mis-labeled in this picture. It should be on the anterior part of the frontal lobe! So, I deleted the old pic and now this new one has whiteout on it. Oh well! Live and learn! :)
I had to draw the neuron and its parts for my neuroscience class. Here is what I made! Click the pic for a larger view. :) NOTE: I had to change my picture a bit, because I didn’t have the astrocytes connecting to the synapses. I also added a few other things. It is a little more crowded now, but I guess more correct. Another NOTE: I deleted the first two pics because they had mistakes. Here is the final version which may also have mistakes, but I think it is the most correct version. :)
I’m very pleased to report that this last term at school went great! I took the first term of Calculus and Intro. to Linear Algebra and got A’s in both classes! I also had a really good time with the classes. I had great teachers too! I have seen a real improvement in my ability to actually get to classes because of my bipap sleep machine and have seen an even greater increase in my ability to do homework and concentrate since I started taking Abilify last January. Doing well in school has always been important to me, but because of my schizophrenia and sleep problems I have had a lot of issues with being able to attend and get through classes.
When I first became ill when I was 15 my grades really suffered. For the first time in my life I wasn’t a straight A student which was quite disheartening. The last two terms in school I have been feeling a lot like my old self for the first time since I was 15!!!
Anyway, this last term was great and a real ego booster! I just hope I can keep up the success! :)
() I might owe my fast reading of this book to my Starbucks coffee run, but it could also be attributed to the good and interesting writing in this book. “Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine” by Stephen Braun is a captivating discourse on two of the most beloved substances on the planet. At one moment you are a molecule-sized scuba diver following the path of the ethanol molecule throughout the body and the next you are sizing up the athletic advantages of caffeine. The first half of the book is dedicated mainly to alcohol and its effects on the body and brain. The second half discusses caffeine. While the book may be a bit outdated (published in 1996), it still has relavent information for lay readers interested in how caffeine and alcohol work in the human body. The book really left me wanting to know more of the unanswered questions about how these substances work on a microscopic/molecular level. I felt that the first half covering alcohol was more complete, and ultimately more interesting, than the caffeine part, which is why I give this book 4 stars instead of 5. A good read nonetheless and you will come away probably knowing more than you do now about alcohol and caffeine.
“Devil in the Details: Scenes From an Obsessive Girlhood” by Jennifer Traig will tickle your inner OCD child if you have one. I’m not a full blown OCD person, but I can relate to some of what Traig writes about, and she shows us with much wit what a full blown disorder is like. It is great that she has such a wonderful sense of humor about a disorder that is so crippling to her and so many millions of people like her. For those who don’t understand Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, this gives a good glimpse into a life that is severely train-wrecked by it. I give this four stars instead of five, because I found the ending a bit weak compared to the rest of the book that kept me enthralled. My only unanswered question is: am I the only one who noticed that the candies on the cover of the book aren’t COMPLETELY straight???!!! haha. ( )