Disability Employment Awareness Month 2017

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Five years ago in October I was trained on job search techniques for people with disabilities.

Really a lot of the job search methods aren’t unique to those of us with a mental health challenge.

It’s often simply that we’ve not had access to career counseling of any kind.

Today it’s exponentially better for a lot of peers because career services are now part of a wraparound therapy plan.

We should expect to be given career counseling. It should go without saying that peers are given this kind of treatment as an adjunct to medication and talk therapy or other therapy.

It’s a victory that peers today have better options in this regard.

I’m going to write in here on weekdays about careers and alternate with writing about nutrition.

I’ve set myself down my own Food Spending Challenge.

It’s a modified version of the one Gwyneth Paltrow tried to live on to mimic the budget of a person collecting food stamps.

Stay tuned.

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Dental Health

Forget mental health, I want to talk about dental health now.

Getting a cleaning is mandatory every six months that is twice a year. Your health insurance will often cover this if you have a dental plan.

Do I like the drilling? No, of course not yet I time it every time because there’s a clock on the wall to the left in front of the chair.

It should take only twenty minutes for the cleaning though of course it feels like a century.

Going every six months is no joke. Like with other medical appointments this can be an area where mental health peers fall down on.

Luckily, or proactively, I hardly ever have a cavity. You should be able to get the x-rays at every other visit which will cut down on costs if you have to pay out of your own pocket.

Yet I can’t say it’s luck, because I rarely eat chocolate or sugary foods that can cause tooth decay. Yet it could be the luck of the draw because I know plenty of people who have heartache with their teeth.

I was at MoMa years ago eating a piece of cheese in the museum cafe. My tooth chipped. It cost $422 out of my own pocket to get two teeth bonded after that. No kidding.

I don’t have the greatest teeth, they’re not an added attraction. Though I do have a great smile, my teeth aren’t white. And I’m not keen to obsess over having gleaming white teeth.

No–I won’t spend money to get my teeth sparkling. I’m not that kind of girl.

It’s true that I have fangs, not perfectly straight teeth. Luckily you can’t seem them when I smile. Yet I also haven’t had the urge to get my teeth bonded so that they look immaculate.

Please–get an x-ray at every other visit and get a cleaning twice a year at the dentist’s.

Your dental health is just as important as your mental health.

 

 

Schizophrenia Remission Criteria

I’m going to give information here that gives hope for those of us living with a diagnosis of SZ and our family members:

Clinical remission is possible without having to wait years and years or decades to to achieve it.

The criteria for remission is at least six months of mild, minimal, or absent symptoms. According to the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group you can achieve remission in as little as six months.

! want to list the criteria for remission from schizophrenia according to the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group:

“Criteria include a score of 3 (mild), 2 (minimal), or 1 (absent) for at least six months for all of the following items on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS)*:”

  1. Delusions (P1)
  2. Conceptual disorganization (P2)
  3. Hallucinatory behavior (P3)
  4. Unusual thought content (G9)
  5. Mannerisms and posturing (G5)
  6. Blunted Affect (N1)
  7. Passive/apathetic social withdrawal (N4)
  8. Lack of spontaneity and flow of conversation (N6)

*A score of <3 suggests a level at which symptomatology does not have appreciable affects on daily functioning.

The stages of remission go from acute phase to stabilization phase to stable phase to remission.

Elsewhere it’s been indicated that upwards of 85 percent of individuals diagnosed with SZ reach the stable, stabilization, and recovery phases of the illness.

Fifteen percent have a refractory or treatment-resistant version.

“The journey to recovery can start at any time point throughout the stages of illness to achieving remission.”

This criteria is taken from “Striving Towards Recovery: Setting New Expectations in Schizophrenia”–a poster session that Ronald Diamond, MD presented at the NAMI convention in Washington DC in 2006.

Other research indicates that you can be in remission without achieving a better level of functional recovery. And that clinical remission in one study predicted functional improvement.

The bottom line: you can have a full and robust life living in recovery regardless of whether or not you’re in remission.

I offer this six-month guideline to give blog readers living with SZ and family members of loved ones with SZ hope that remission is not impossible to achieve.

Recovery is not impossible to achieve either.

It’s a mistake to set the hoops higher and higher that people diagnosed with SZ have to go through to be considered to be recovered.

So-called normal people have gotten a free pass at being jackasses and no one insists they live up to the impossible demands that people with SZ are expected to adhere to.

The criteria for remission is six months according to the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group. Understand?

Beautiful Day

It’s a beautiful day here.

Sunny and warm.

I’m testing the WordPress app.

There’s nothing better than plein air typing.

Van Gogh liked to paint outdoors because of the curative effect of the air.

I urge everyone to go outside in the sunny weather.

Being near water also has a curative effect.

Do wear sunscreen though.

Have a beautiful day!

Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day.

If you click on the veterans category on the right you might be able to still find the CNN video with one of the Marines who served on Iwo Jima in World War II.

My father was a veteran. He served in the Army. Then he served in the Reserves when I was a kid.

We need to honor and remember those who served our country. We need to honor and remember the soldiers who are still serving our country.

Schizophrenia Diagnostic Tests

What a clueless book reviewer and others don’t seem to realize is that for close to nine years I was the Health Guide at the HealthCentral schizophrenia website. While I was employed at that job I wrote news articles that featured unbiased factual information. Of course I always wrote articles there about what I thought could be useful strategies for living in recovery too.

Today I’m compelled to crib the information from a slide slow I published at HealthCentral circa 2014.

I ask you: do you think I would want someone to take medication if they didn’t have to? Do you think I like having this illness? Do you think one-size-fits-all treatment is the way to go? The answer to these questions should be NO.

Now here’s the slide show I wrote in 2014: (Yep–no one else on either side of the aisle dared write this. I was the only one.) It’s a little long to scroll down on a cell phone yet I didn’t want to break it up into two entries.

To diagnose schizophrenia certain tests must be given. 

First of all, a brain tumor or herpes encephalitis should be tested for to rule out that the person has one of these illnesses that mirrors schizophrenia.  The following information was taken from Surviving Schizophrenia, 6th Edition by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.  I recommend you buy this book to have on hand.  It’s the most recent version of this Family Manual that was first published in 1987.

It’s better to put your mind at ease about yourself or a loved one rather than jump to the conclusion that schizophrenia is always the cause of psychotic symptoms.

A diagnostic workup should include:

History and Mental Status Examination.

A review of organ systems will turn up illnesses that mirror schizophrenia.  Asking the kinds of drugs a person is using will turn up evidence of street drug use that could cause the psychiatric symptoms, or of prescribed drugs that have these kinds of symptoms as a side effect.  A mental status examination is where the individual is asked such questions as “Do you know where you are?  and What is today’s date?” As well as abstract questions like “What does the expression ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss?’ mean?”

Physical and Neurological Examinations.

Asking a patient to draw a clock or write a sentence can identify individuals with other brain diseases like brain tumors or Huntington’s disease.

Basic Laboratory Work: Blood Count, Blood Chemical Screen, and Urinalysis.

A blood test can turn up pernicious anemia, AIDS, or lead intoxication.  A thyroid function test should be ordered as well as a routine test for syphilis.

Psychological Tests.

This kind of test can be useful in early or borderline cases to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

MRI Scan.

According to E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. “An MRI scan should be done on every individual who presents with psychosis for the first time.”  Multiple diseases picked up by an MRI mirror the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Lumbar Puncture.

For patients experiencing certain symptoms such as headaches, rapid onset of psychotic symptoms, visual or olfactory hallucinations, neurological signs or symptoms of central nervous system disorder and concurrent or recent history of flu or fever.

Electroencephalogram (EEG).

This is used like the lumbar puncture to rule out or confirm other diseases.  It should be ordered for individuals with a history of meningitis or encephalitis, birth complications, or severe head injury; also for individuals that had episodic psychotic attacks with a sudden onset.

Other tests may be warranted depending on the presenting symptoms.  Make sure you or your loved one gets a full diagnostic workup.  To turn an expression on its head, all roads do not lead to Rome.  Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical in the treatment of schizophrenia or any of the other diseases that might be occurring.  Getting the right treatment right away results in a better outcome.  Forming a preconceived idea about the type of illness a person has can lead to ineffective treatment that can make things worse.