Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Depression, it's not what you think.

Usually when we want to understand a serious issue we investigate it, we search the internet, ask friends or professionals with experience on the issue,  we seek out answers.  I have found the topic of mental health issues to be the exact opposite.  We seem to use the words "crazy" or "depressed" in a very loose and at times offensive manner.  It's hard to blame the people that aren't familiar with depression or other mental health issues Our culture has taught us to dismiss these people and issues as being victims or weak, even just trying to get attention. I think the worst thing is being told "oh you can control your feelings, its up to you to have a good day"  You need to realize when a depressed person hears these words it can hurtful and sink them into an even deeper hole. I could never imagine someone WANTING to be depressed or suffer from anxiety. It's hard not to take things personally when things are being said about your personality.

Its also difficult for a depressed person to express the way it feels to be in a deep depression in a way that a non depressed person can understand.  It's neither sides fault, its just having a desire to understand the state of mind and feelings of a friend that may be going through a rough time.   One of my least favorite things is when someone confuses having a bad day with being depressed.  It trivializes what a truly depressed person is dealing with.

I have a friend that once told me that some friends didn't want to hang out with me because they were afraid I would be all "depressy and stuff"   That was one of the most hurtful things I had heard about my ILLNESS, it became obvious to me at that point that the desire to understand depression was simply not there.

As you'll read below about 1 in 4 people suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, take a look around, it could it be you, your best friend, your partner, your parent.   Dont be so quick to judge, but do ask questions.  Approach them in a caring, concerned and loving manner.

Below are some facts and studies I have found in my research.

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at work or in relationships. In most cases, mental illness symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and counseling (psychotherapy).

Some warning signs that you maybe be depressed are universally agreed upon, they are depressed mood, decreased interest in or pleasure from activities, decreased concentration, hopelessness, worrying/ brooding, decreased self esteem, and irritability. 
"About one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given,year this figure translates to 57.7 million people.  In fact, depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents, according to the Federal Center for Mental Health Services."


Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:
Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose biological (blood) relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger the actual mental illness.
Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to viruses, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.
Negative life experiences. Situations in your life, such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems and high stress, can play a role in triggering mental illness. So can an upbringing that leads to poor self-esteem or a history of sexual or physical abuse. Life experiences can lead to unhealthy patterns of thinking linked to mental illness, such as pessimism or distorted ways of thinking.
Brain chemistry. Biochemical changes in the brain are thought to affect mood and other aspects of mental health. Naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters play a role in some mental illnesses. In some cases, hormonal imbalances affect mental health. It's thought that inherited traits, life experiences and biological factors can all affect brain chemistry linked to mental illnesses. 

"There are still attitudes within most societies that view symptoms of psychopathology as threatening and uncomfortable, and these attitudes frequently foster stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems. Such reactions are common when people are brave enough to admit they have a mental health problem, and they can often lead on to various forms of exclusion or discrimination – either within social circles or within the workplace."

The social stigma associated with mental health problems almost certainly has multiple causes. Throughout history people with mental health problems have been treated differently, excluded and even brutalized. This treatment may come from the misguided views that people with mental health problems may be more violent or unpredictable than people without such problems, or somehow just “different”, but none of these beliefs has any basis in fact. This itself implies that people with mental health problems are in some way ‘different’ from ‘normally’ functioning individuals. . That label may well be associated with undesirable attributes (e.g. ‘mad’ people cannot function properly in society, or can sometimes be violent), and this again will perpetuate the view that people with mental health problems are different and should be treated with caution.

I could go on and on about this topic, but it gets overwhelming for both the reader and myself.
I just want people to understand that a mental disorder, or mental disease is not something someone chooses to put themselves through.   Its tough, its debilitating, its life threatening.

I am in a really good place right now, and that's why I feel like I can share all of this with you.
I hope you have found it to be educational and enlightening.  Im sure Ill have more to say about this at a later time.


My research has come from the following websites.

The Mayo Clinic
National Institute for Mental Health (A government agency)
Physcology Today
Webb MD

Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't be afraid, its OK to say Anal Cancer

You all know how I love to share stuff. Well here is another biggie, it’s going to be graphic, and it might gross some of you out but it’s a reality that not enough people talk about because of the stigma associated with it. But this has been and still is MY reality. This is just the very basics of information I have found along with my personal experience.  Always check with your doctor if you have concerns

 People don’t know about the specifics of what happens when you have rectal STD’s We constantly hear “wear condoms, protect yourself from HIV and AIDS”, and often times we hear about STDs but it usually seems to be an afterthought. So many people have that mentality of “if I get AIDS I just take some pills and Ill be fine ” You don’t usually associate HIV or AIDS with physical pain. But Ill tell you what rectal pain is no walk in the park.

 Before I get into my personal story, let me give you some very basic info via Wikipedia.

  Anal dysplasia is a pre-cancerous condition which occurs when the mucosa lining of the anal canal undergo abnormal changes. During this condition, lesion, or visible pattern of clustered abnormal cells, appear. These cells may then progress from low-grade lesions to high-grade lesions.

Causes Anal dysplasia is most commonly linked to human papillomavirus (HPV), a usually sexually-transmitted disease HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Roughly 80% of people who have had one or two lifetime sex partners and 100% of people who have had five lifetime sex partners have had HPV infection, which may persist for life.

Symptoms Symptoms of anal cancer include bloating and change in bowel habits, a lump near the anus, rectal bleeding, itching or discharge. Bleeding may be severe.

 The pain and suffering (yes suffering) I have had to endure over the years due to rectal STDs has been the worst and most intense pain I have ever felt in my life. I have been dealing with these issues off and on since about 2000. When I first started having pain I would write it off to oh maybe its hemorrhoids or I just had a “busy” weekend with the sexual activities. But as time went by things got worse and happened more often.
I had my first rectal surgery in 2002. After that When I would get a flare up I would just double up on antibiotics and take several baths with Epsom salts. It always seemed to do the trick… for a while.

Due to blood, and other discharge from the rectum the need to wear women’s panty liners is constant. Ive tried every brand and every size. I know more about this topic than most women. My favorite are the brand “Always” overnight, heavy flow, extra long , odor control with wings. Along with the constant pain is not being able to sit upright at all, always having to lay on your side, walking can sometimes be a relief but could also be extremely painful. Not to mention the intense pain associated with bowel movements and forget about wiping with toilet paper, you have to jump in the bathtub or a sitz bath. Not so easy if you have a job to go to.

The day I was checked out by a specialist his prognosis at that point was not a very positive one. He said I am very concerned about this lesion and we better take care of this immediately, because its quite possibly anal cancer. After I picked my heart up out of my stomach I said…in my usual randomness “that’s how Farrah Fawcett died” after a few seconds of a blank stare from the Dr. he said oh, I did not know that.

 The 5 year survival rates for people with anal cancer range anywhere from 7% to 71% depending on the stage of the cancer and some other various issues. So you know my mind was really working up into a frenzy. I thought he was just trying to scare me into handling this matter very quickly, which we did. Originally he was going to just take a snip of the lesion for a biopsy but when he saw the size of it…the size of a silver dollar he decided to remove the entire thing. It was on the outside as well as the inside canal. The next day when the surgical dressing came off it looked like a scene from the worst horror movie you have ever seen.

 In the follow up appointment he immediately told me I did NOT have cancer and showed me scans of the 3 things he surgically removed. He was stunned that he was wrong, but so very happy at the same time. I still have some pre cancerous “things” that we will keep a close eye on. I already have my 6 month follow up appointment booked.

Anal cancer has a huge stigma associated with it due to the nature of its origins. When the media first started talking about Farrah Fawcett’s cancer they didn’t use the words anal cancer. Many of her obituaries didn’t use the words anal cancer either it was just cancer. Farrah is the one that made the decision to make this a very public issue to raise awareness, and get people to actually say the words ANAL CANCER.

OK so hopefully you have taken the time to read this but wonder what my whole point of this was. It’s the same message we’ve been trying to get across to people for 30 years… Wear a condom!! You don’t have to have HIV or AIDS to get a deadly STD.
 Honestly, did any of what I wrote here sound enjoyable? Hey power bottoms, you can forget about all of that anymore. What do the kids say these days? “REAL TALK” or for my Deaf friends “True Biz”. I hope sharing my experiences hasn’t been too much for some of you and for others I hope it scares you to death!

I found this link and found it very informative Farrah's Gift