Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Andrea Yates Found Not Guilty!

Finally, Andrea Yates receives a fair verdict: not guilty by reason of insanity.

I blogged about Andrea Yates here. Her story is sickening. Her children weren't the only ones who were lost. Due to a husband who pushed her to get pregnant in spite of warnings that she could become psychotic, and negligent medical care, Andrea Yates became severely ill and killed her children. She will never be the same, the children are dead, and the whole thing could have been easily prevented.

There's bad news along with the good: an (unscientific) poll shows that 62% of people believe she should have been found guilty because she knew what she was doing. The lack of understanding about mental illness does tangible harm. If people appreciated mental illness for what it was, an illness rather than a moral failing, maybe someone would have stepped in and helped Andrea. Maybe if there was a widespread understanding of mental illness, medical doctors wouldn't abandon patients. Maybe if there was a widespread understanding of mental illness, this would never happen again.

I don't think any understanding of mental illness would have prevented Rusty Yates from pressuring Andrea to get pregnant. He was advised that she was ill, and that pregnancy would harm her. He didn't care. He wanted another child, consequences be damned. Maybe if we valued a woman's life as much as we valued a man's desires, someone would have helped Andrea. Maybe someone would have convinced her that her health mattered.

Andrea Yates will be committed to a mental hospital. I hope that she finally gets the help she needs. I hope she can recover and find peace.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What Is the Bipolar View Like?

It sucks. I hate rollercoasters. Real rollercoasters make me vomit; mood rollercoasters make me miserable.

I'm bipolar II, meaning that I alternate between clinical depression and hypomania when I'm sick. Hypomania consists of increased energy, decreased need for sleep, increased self-confidence, racing thoughts, distractibility, increased activity, and impulsiveness. Sounds pretty good, right? When teaching about this, I always said "Imagine the best you've ever felt". What a stupid, stupid thing to say. Hypomania can be euphoric, as my episodes always were: "It feels so good to be alive!" But it also can be dysphoric: extreme irritability, an inability to hold still, and feeling as if you're going to come out of your skin because your body is so tense and you can't be still. If I ever teach again (that's the depression talking) I'll be sure to explain that a little better.

I've been having health problems, and my psychiatrist decided to try to help me by increasing my dose of Effexor, my antidepressant. Higher doses help relieve pain, and for several days I experienced almost no pain! However, antidepressants can be dangerous for people with bipolar disorder. I started pacing and frantically starting projects, only to switch to a different project midway through. Monday Bunny Blogging showed pictures of Bumble in the now-clean closet under our stairs. That closet was a nightmare-crap piled up to the ceiling, and you couldn't get anything in or out. I moved everything, cleaned everything and got rid of stuff. I did other projects. I ran errands. My husband begged me not to overdo it, after all I have laid in bed for the last 3 months. I couldn't stop. It would be three o'clock in the morning and I'd shake if I didn't let myself move. I was so irritable I was yelling at my husband (for daring to ask me if I'd had lunch, the bastard), my books, characters on tv (well duh, they deserve it), and I was even pissed off at Bumble. He didn't come over to eat his hay like usual and I was pissed. Don't worry, I did not yell at him, and we do not punish him. Still, mad at Bumble?!

buzz buzz buzz went me, and then I CRASHED. Hard. Depression is always awful, but plunging into it from a heightened state was even more painful. Right on cue, the death thoughts appeared (I am not yet suicidal). I called my psychiatrist today, and he wanted me off that higher dose pronto. High dose effexor wiped out my pain. Hypomania wiped out my fatigue (and seemed to wipe out the mental confusion, but I'm not trusting that). Now I'll be saying goodbye to the higher dose and hypomania, but hello to pain and fatigue.

I'm very proud of myself. I've been reading blogs and I put a moratorium on commenting until I was out of this (which may be the end of the week) extreme irritability. I didn't think any of you needed me starting a flame war over something unreasonable: "Only stupid people would spell it 'grey' instead of 'gray'!"

And I promise that I'm trying to get to real posting again sometime soon. Otherwise I'm going to rename this stinking blog "The Whiney and Complainy View of the Sick One". Did I mention how much I've been on my own nerves? You wouldn't believe it if I told you.

Monday Bunny Blogging

Bumble helped me clean the closet under the stairs.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

Rabbits like close quarters, so I decided to add a roof to one of Bumble's favorite spots. It was a big hit, creating a safe and snug area to lie in. But Adventure Bunny couldn't leave it alone.

The roof wasn't very sturdy, and he started to eat it, so I had to remove it. Now he feels less secure from birds of prey.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today I was attempting to do what I used to do every day: read every blog on my blogroll and then a few more. Realizing that I'd never make it even halfway through the list of blogs, I was so glad that Goldfish starts her blog under the letter D, so that I got to it before quitting. Because this post on spoons helped me:

Spoon Theory is basically the idea that those of us with limited energy have so many spoons we can use every day, and every single activity uses up so many spoons. The things which other people take for granted like getting dressed or washed or making a snack all use up spoons. And once you have run out, you have run out, so life with these sorts of impairments necessitates careful planning and a constant reassessment of activity and energy levels.

This is such a helpful and adaptive way to think about life. If you focus on planning and managing activities, then it's much harder to sink into that state of revulsion known as "feeling sorry for yourself". Goldfish refers readers to another post on spoon theory, but I didn't have the energy to read it. I'm sure it's excellent.

I'd like to read "my" blogs, as I haven't for awhile. The few blogs I got to today had lots of interesting and challenging posts up. But reading, let alone commenting, takes spoons. This post is taking some of my last spoons, so I'd better watch it. I left the TV on (which I never do), and when I look up from my computer screen, I see a giant tarantula moving it's terrifying mouthparts and it really freaks me out! I had better have enough spoons to walk across the room and turn that OFF.

I'm trying to read your blogs, and trying to comment, but it just isn't happening today. Maybe tomorrow, if I have more energy, and if I plan things, I'll be able to read. Now they're showing the tarantula's fangs! I'm signing off and heading for the tv. If only that Bumble knew how to work a remote.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Belated Bunny Blogging

"I guess you want to know where I was yesterday."

"I was working on my fear of heights."

Crazy doesn't mean creative

People characterize mental illness in one of two (not mutually exclusive) ways. Mental illness is:

1) a personal failing, a sign of weak character, and/or "Pull yourself out of it. Everyone has problems."

2) a sexy, fascinating affliction that makes the sufferer more creative and more interesting than the average boring person.

There's an excellent post that discusses the second point in terms of the public's treatment of Syd Barret here.

Monday, July 03, 2006