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Bipolar News

May 2, 2006

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Prisons/Jails the New Asylums - St. Petersburg,FL,USA
... as severely mentally ill, meaning that they fit the psychiatric classification for illnesses such as schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder. ...

Bipolar Disorder conference is May 5 in Hampton Falls
Portsmouth Herald
The sixth annual Erik Cogswell Memorial Conference on Bipolar Disorder - What Works: From A to Z - will be held on Friday, May 5 at Faro Gardens, Route 1, Hampton Falls. Registration is from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and the conference is from 9 to 4 p.m.

Living with bipolar disorder
Portsmouth Herald
Mike Fongeallaz once went five days without sleep. "No one knew what was going on. I had the TV on and no one figured it out" says the 21 year old.
"But I was going nuts. I started talking to inanimate objects."

Long road to mental wellness
Detroit Free Press
Mental illness doesn't always intrude into a person's life as a single disease with clearly defined symptoms. Ask Dana Parker. For more than 20 years, she struggled off and on with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. She still managed to earn a college degree, get married, have a son and dote on him, and hold down a job as a university admissions counselor.

For mentally ill, reform falls short
The News & Observer
A lack of options hinders the transition from institutional to community care.

It's the system that's crazy
Sun-Sentinel Sun, 30 Apr 2006 0:14 AM PDT
Seeking help for his mentally ill son, writer finds that jails are now asylums.

Helping Katrina Survivors: Psychiatrists Provide Insider Views
Psychiatric Times
In times past, Louisiana psychiatrist Harold Ginzburg, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., has worked with refugees in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines and evaluated the psychological health of Russian villagers living in areas contaminated with radioactive fallout from Chernobyl.

The Cutting Edge of Sadness
Psychiatric Times
The past decade witnessed major strides in our understanding and treatment of affective disorders in adults, children and adolescents. One of the baffling problems in child and adolescent psychiatry was the question of psychiatric illness spanning a lifetime. The existence of depressive disorders in prepubertal children has been generally recognized and acknowledged since the 1960s; however, only

New anti-psychotic drugs carry risks for children via Yahoo! News
None of the six anti-psychotic drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adult schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression) is approved for kids, but doctors can prescribe them as "off-label" medications. Many experts say there is growing overuse of these powerful drugs.

Adult anti-psychotics can worsen troubles
USA Today
A couple of years ago, Evan Kitchens was taking five psychiatric drugs, says his mother, Mary. Two were so-called atypical anti-psychotics, approved by the FDA for treating adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. At the harrowing nadir two years ago, she wondered whether her son would survive, let alone live a normal life.

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Depression has 'caused me a lot of pain'
The Herald-Sun
Mary Chapin Carpenter could barely compose herself. Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, the moderator of Carpenter's discussion of the creative process with author Kaye Gibbons at the 2006 N.C. Festival of the Book, had just asked the two to talk about their experiences with depression. Gibbons, author of "Ellen Foster," explained that she used to believe she was bipolar.

After nightmarish years, new dawn for 16-year-old
USA Today
For Camille Houston, atypical anti-psychotic drugs have been a lifeline.

A rush to overprescribe?
USA Today
Rising numbers of U.S. children are taking a new generation of anti-psychotic drugs called atypicals. Although the six drugs can be helpful in treating children with mental illness, critics say that the drugs are overprescribed and that many kids suffer serious side effects from drugs they never needed.

New antipsychotic drugs carry risks for children
American Psychological Association
Nancy Thomas remembers the bad old days when she had to wear long-sleeve clothes to church to cover bite marks all over her arms from her daughter Alexa's rages.

Residents remember those lost to suicide
Cyondah Cornish, 8, reads a poem written by her mother, Angie, in memory of her late father, Gene Jr., during the Into the Light for Suicide Prevention candlelight vigil on the square Monday evening.

Walk this way: Nita Lawrence puts her heart and sole into planning the Mental Health Association's 26th annual VIP Walk-a-thon.

Decatur Daily (Decatur, AL); 4/30/2006

Byline: Patrice Stewart

Apr. 30--When health problems struck close to home, Nita Lawrence marshaled support for a cause that has become dear to her heart. For the 26th annual Mental Health Association VIP Walk-a-thon, she will bulldog those donations and then lead the pack around Rhodes Ferry Park on May 12. The goal is $26,000, and Lawrence stopped people to ask for donations as she saw them in the park Wednesday when she and others involved in previous walks gathered for a planning session. "I would love to change the image of mental health," she said, because those diagnosed with mental health diseases are looked at differently from those with cancer, heart disease and diabetes. "Mental illness carries a stigma, and if I could change that even a little bit, my life would be worthwhile," said Lawrence, 76. "One out of four people suffers from mental illness, and a lot of people don't realize that. And those with mental illnesses need drugs to get better, just like cancer patients do." For years, she has turned to the Mental Health Association in Morgan County for support, and she tries to return that favor by raising thousands of dollars for its programs through the annual walk-a-thon, as well as helping sell tickets for the yearly Celebration of the Arts and the Mind, assisting with Operation Santa Claus for the mentally ill, and other projects. A former six-year Mental Health board member, Lawrence remained quite active after her term. In 2004, she earned the organization's Mary Cockerham Dobbs Award, which recognizes those who have been touched by mental illness in their personal lives and have been a help with Celebration of the Arts and the Mind. This year Lawrence will chair the walk-a-thon for the third time. Some years she serves as a team captain, and she's been a VIP fund-raiser and a walk member. About 16 years ago, when her mother was 82 and beginning to repeat herself and show other signs of problems, Lawrence moved her to Decatur, where she and her husband Bill had lived since 1957. Gladys Moffett was diagnosed with dementia caused by mini-strokes, and Lawrence sought help at the Mental Health Association's support group for families of Alzheimer's patients, attending until her mother's death in 2001. Seven years ago, after her husband, Bill, died of cancer, Lawrence began attending the association's support group for widowed persons. Today she is one of the facilitators of the group, which now operates out of the Hospice of the Valley's Bereavement Center, and helps others get through a rough time. Ten years ago, one of their four children was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, requiring medication and a change from her busy professional life. "A lot of people think those with forms of mental illness should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they can't, because it's often a chemical imbalance requiring proper medication. As long as they stay on the medication, they can function normally, but if they get off of it, they have problems again," Lawrence said. She pointed out that many of the tragic homicides and suicides that have occurred involved people who were off their prescribed medication. Her personal connections "are the reality of why Nita works so hard for us," said Sue Brantley, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Morgan County. "Her main focus has always been the walk, held during Mental Health Month each May. "She's put in many hours and raised a lot of dollars through the years, but she says this year will be her swan song, after leading the walk to a record-setting year in 1998 and then, in 2003, to the second largest amount ever raised by the walk," Brantley said.

Lawrence said she competes against herself each year to raise more than she did the year before. The first year she raised $500. "I didn't know I was supposed to raise more," she said, but she's made up for that since. "We want to get as many people as we can to walk," she said, but they start by asking people to serve as team captains and try to raise at least $500 each by recruiting five "VIPs," who each agree to raise or contribute $100. Last year Lawrence was a "VIP" and raised more than $10,000. This year, she's trying to recruit 60 team captains, so call if you can help, and she'd like to get every mayor in Morgan County to walk, too. And don't be scared off by the term "walk-a-thon"; this is more like a leisurely stroll to the Holiday Inn for a breakfast, with T-shirts and prizes handed out. "Nita involved me in the walk a long time ago," said Mental Health Association board president Gail Warth. "What hasn't she done? And she's the best fundraiser we've ever had." Lawrence's theory is "If you don't ask, you won't get anything," so she asks everyone she sees, saying, "It's almost time for the walk again." You may also spot Lawrence serving as a greeter at the Racking Horse Celebration, working the polls on election days, answering phones and handling mailings at First United Methodist Church, or working on the golf tournament as a local board member of the American Cancer Society. She tried Relay for Life for the Cancer Society, too, but found the timing too close to her Mental Health Walk-a-thon. Lawrence's theory is that if you're working for good causes and helping others, "you don't have time to worry about your own problems." What: 26th Walk-a-Thon to benefit programs of the Mental Health Association in Morgan County When: Friday, May 12, 7 a.m. Where: Rhodes Ferry Park to the Holiday Inn To sign up or donate: Call Sue Brantley, 353-1160, or Nita Lawrence, 353-8882

Copyright (c) 2006, The Decatur Daily, Ala.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.),

(213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

COPYRIGHT 2006 The Decatur Daily

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

Long road to mental wellness: Native Detroiter finds her way back with the help of her family and a Wayne State program.

Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI); 4/30/2006

Byline: Patricia Anstett

Apr. 30--Mental illness doesn't always intrude into a person's life as a single disease with clearly defined symptoms. Ask Dana Parker. For more than 20 years, she struggled off and on with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. She still managed to earn a college degree, get married, have a son and dote on him, and hold down a job as a university admissions counselor. But her precariously balanced life tumbled apart when her marriage collapsed and her symptoms snowballed into full-blown paranoia. Dana was convinced that her home was bugged and that spies trailed her. She spent hours in her car chasing buses, whose signs she felt compelled to follow to pursue clues. Today, four years since her worst breakdown, Dana, 37, of Detroit, is healthy and happier than she has been in many years. She is enrolled in a master's degree program in social justice at Marygrove College and recently launched a Web site for Dig My Roots, her new nonprofit organization, Dig My Roots will provide support services for mentally ill people in adult education, trade school or college programs. Dana's turnaround comes with help from a strong family network and a new Wayne State University School of Medicine program that takes a different approach to schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, at a time when many providers have exited the field. Though 2.5 million Americans have schizophrenia, mental hospital closings during the past three decades often leaves them and their families with little more than support groups and periodic psychiatric visits to refill prescriptions. The Wayne State program is one of the first in years to offer more in metro Detroit. Dana is among the first to benefit. Hers also is a story of a strong man who loves her for all her complexity, a devoted mother determined to see her healthy again and a 10-year-old son with unusual wisdom about his mother's illness. Dana has her own word to describe her journey. She calls it a miracle. The onset of disease She was a ballerina and a tomboy. The younger of two girls, she was her dad's sidekick. They would play basketball in the backyard of their stately, six-bedroom Sherwood Forest home in northwest Detroit. But she also took dance lessons three times a week for more than 10 years and learned good posture and refinement by attending teas and debutante balls with the Jack and Jill service organization, "to make a lady out of me," Dana said. An impeccable dresser, well read and articulate, she is the latest of several generations in her family with college degrees. Both of her parents were Detroit Public Schools teachers. "She was a happy child," said her mother, Mamie Parker. She saw no early clues that her daughter someday would develop a chronic mental illness.

Dana has attention deficit disorder, but it didn't become an issue until high school, when she pursued a challenging math and science curriculum at Cass Technical High School. "She rushed through things," her mother said. "She didn't stay focused on one task." Dana's life changed in a single night, when she was 12. She heard her father cry out from his bedroom. It was Dana who called 911. Sidney Parker died five days later from a brain aneurysm, at 41. Dana had lost her closest friend. She describes her father as "the kind of man who could dine with the president and who also would invite a homeless man to dinner." He bought dozens of shoes for kids at Clinton Elementary and tutored them on weekends at his home in "weekend drill camps," assisted by Dana and her mother. Dana became profoundly depressed and had to take medication. Mamie Parker took Dana to a psychologist, who assured her he found no problem, beyond the typical depression expected with mourning. Be patient, Mamie Parker recalls him telling her. From then on, mother and daughter were inseparable. Mamie Parker attended her daughter's basketball games and helped with her studies. They traveled to France and Africa. Dana graduated from Cass and received a degree in behavioral and social services from the University of Maryland. She flirted with a career in law, first getting paralegal certification from American University in Paris, and then pursuing a pre-law curriculum at two Washington, D.C., schools before she settled on a job as an undergraduate admissions counselor at her alma mater.

An impressive job she did on a brochure led to a series of university committee appointments and promotion to senior admissions counselor, a job involving considerable travel. By then, Dana was married and the mother of a son, Zachary Wood. After his birth in 1995, she developed anxiety and racing thoughts. When Zachary was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease at age 4, Dana became more stressed, running back and forth to his school, doctor's offices and her job. She started seeing a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

By then, her husband, an accountant, was growing impatient with her erratic behavior and mood swings. Dana admits to not taking medicine her doctor prescribed, because she feared she'd gain weight.

Now, she wonders if she would have been helped more by a different medicine, one that better fit her mental illness. It came, a few years too late. Worse, then better As her marriage of five years disintegrated, Dana became very emotional. She grew obsessed with signs and colors. She kept a notebook of license plate numbers, thinking each meant something to her. "It was horrible but it was wonderful," Dana says. As much as the images frightened her, they also brought a sense of incredible energy and euphoria that came as her mind raced at full speed. She interpreted billboards and bus signs as directions and felt compelled to follow them, sometimes for hours. She no longer hid her obsessions from her son. They had a signal. If she winked at him, that indicated someone was watching her. At the same time, she helped him with his homework, taught him how to shoot a lay-up and held down her job. Six months after her separation in 1999, Dana met Daniel Mathis, a friend of Zachary's basketball coach. The coach thought the two would make a good couple. He didn't run when Dana told him she had bipolar disorder. When she confided that she thought her home was bugged, he had a security firm come over and sweep the home for devices. Then he brought over his father, a minister, to reassure her. When that didn't help, Mathis didn't leave. "That's what is amazing about him," Dana said. "He never got off the ride."

Unmedicated at times, or insufficiently medicated with drugs only for manic depression, Dana slid into total paranoia in late summer 2002. "It all came to a head one day when I picked up Zachary and took him to a park," she said. She parked next to a car with the keys in it. Convinced her car had a hidden camera in it, she ordered her son into the stranger's car, over his protests. As she drove away, the car's owner chased and stopped her. He realized he knew her. Seeing she was troubled, he drove her back to her car. Dana called her mother. Fearful she would lose custody of Zachary, she pleaded to be hospitalized. Mamie Parker drove to Maryland immediately and arranged for a mover to load up Dana's possessions. Dana was admitted to Detroit Receiving Hospital in August 2002. A team of psychiatrists diagnosed Dana with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of the paranoid symptoms of schizophrenia with the mania, depression and anxiety of mood disorders. They prescribed different medicines. In three weeks, she started to feel better. Just before Christmas, she was released from the hospital. Her paranoia was gone. Focus helps her cope

Back at her mother's home, Dana started to recover. But she remained tense and tentative. Her psychosis returned. Her psychiatrist tried one drug then another until he found three that worked. Mamie Parker had her own idea. An accomplished quilter and seamstress, she coaxed Dana into working on a quilt to give Zachary for Christmas. "It really helped me," Dana said. "Instead of focusing on all the stimulation and people, I could focus on the quilt and its color...I thought back on the experience and it was like my roots pulled me through." Her mother, who had retired, returned to work, teaching science at Ralph Bunche Elementary in Detroit, to buy and furnish a condo for her daughter and grandson. She also started to learn about mental illness. By 2005, finally free of all her psychotic thoughts, more relaxed and gaining confidence, Dana was stable enough to be ready for more.

She enrolled in an intensive outpatient program for people with psychotic disorders that had just opened at Wayne State. It was started by Dr. Matcheri Keshavan, who joined WSU last year as professor and associate chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

Keshavan says early intervention can spare people from devastating recurrences. "The longer they go untreated, the harder it is to get them back into the community," said Keshavan, who splits his time between WSU and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. People with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders need help with goal-setting, memory and organization skills to counteract poor motivation and antisocial symptoms that medicines poorly address, he said. The program offers group and one-on-one counseling; strategies for motivation and goal-setting, and help with drugs. A companion program is studying children of people with schizophrenia, to look for early warning signs in a group at higher risk of the disorder. The work is funded with grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Flynn Foundation and, recently, a $1-million, three-year grant from the state of Michigan. Keshavan and other experts in the field say it's too soon to know whether early intervention and intensive therapies pay off. "Early intervention is like motherhood; everyone will vote for it," said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a leading schizophrenia expert at the Stanley Medical Research Institute, a Washington. D.C. area mental health organization. "But the jury is still out whether it makes a difference." Small-scale ideas "I've learned to small-scale my ideas," Dana said. "Before, my ideas always were too broad." Two A's and a B for fall semester boosted her confidence. . "Understanding what the illness is, is the most superior coping skill," Dana said.

She no longer feels shame about her illness. Mathis, now her fiance, and son understand, too.

Copyright (c) 2006, Detroit Free Press

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.),

(213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

COPYRIGHT 2006 Detroit Free Press

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

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