Bipolar News

April 27, 2005

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Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); 4/26/2005



AGE: 32 FROM: Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire. OCCUPATION: Single. Her experience of manic depression led her to write The Naked Bird Watcher, a book about mental illness.

HAVING manic depression doesn't mean my life's over. It's not a death sentence. I play guitar with my band The Upstairs, paint,and hang out with my friends.

Manic depression is something that happens to a lot of ordinary people - one in every 100.

At 14, I contracted a virus that doctors believed had a lasting neurological impact.

Four years later I was at the end of my first year at St Andrews University. My exams were looming and I found it difficult to concentrate.

I couldn't cope with simple things like leaving my room, eating and washing.

I fell out with my boyfriend. He asked me to see a doctor who put me on beta-blockers, which slowed me down even more.

Initially I was using drugs first used in the Sixties. These days the medication is much more advanced - I take around 15 pills a day.

I felt really depressed and withdrawn, like I was in a vacuum, unable to communicate with people properly. I even started to suffer hallucinations and couldn't tell what was real.

I was referred to a psychiatrist who eventually diagnosed manic depression/bipolar affective disorder, where I alternate between major depressive periods and hypomania.

I was in my mid-20s and it came as no surprise as I knew it was more than having the odd bad day.

Having an episode is like a storm coming - I can see the clouds moving in. I get delusional thinking, not knowing what's real and unreal. Writing a book wasn't in my game plan. I left school and went to university with hopes for the future like everyone else.

The purpose of the book was to open up doors about manic depression. It's something that shouldn't be shrouded in mystery but openly discussed.


AGE: 57

FROM: Has lived with her husband Alan in Helensburgh for more than 30 years. They have three grown-up children - Kit, Suzy and Ollie.

OCCUPATION: Jean took on the role as carer for Suzy when she was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder 14 years ago. In her book To Walk On Eggshells, Jean chronicles her daughter's childhood, teenage years and experience of severe depression. I'LL never forget the moment when Suzy told me she was to go into a psychiatric unit. I was in the kitchen and burst into tears. It was as if I had been physically hit. I didn't think I could take it. I couldn't do it any more. I was shattered.

I'm her mum and I couldn't help her. I had never felt such a failure in my entire life - worst of all, the person I was failing was my daughter.

I was suddenly faced with a daughter who could hardly speak, whose body seemed to have slumped to the floor with a face grey in pallor.

She had no interest in herself or her surroundings.

She was suffering from what we now call the classic depression symptom - 'under-the- duvet syndrome'.

I used to cry at 3am, feeling angry, bitter, scared and anxious - not having anyone to turn to.

Suzy has been in and out of psychiatric wards six times. The last time she stayed in for three months, dropped to seven stone and was suffering from psychosis.

I would visit her and she'd hold my hand and cry for eight hours a day.

After her last admission I couldn't even leave her side. It took her 18 months to get back to normal.

She still has her bad days where she can't face people, so she comes to my house.

Once Suzy was so dependent I wondered what would happen to her if I should go. Would she be able to cope with life?

Now she's doing better than anyone could have imagined. She's arranged her life so she has a close circle of friends and doctors who she turns to, and she moved into her own flat four years ago.

I started to write down the way I was feeling and it developed into a book.

Everything I read was far too academic. There was nothing available for carers. It's still a gamble for Suzy to tell people she has manic depression.

But we've all got mental health, but simply don't talk about it. A lot of people could be suffering from a milder version but just don't realise.

You can guarantee if I'm at a wedding, at least two people will approach me later and say they have someone in their family who is touched by a form of mental illness.

l Both books are priced pounds 10 and are available from bookshops nationwide or

Visit for further information on mental health.

Bipolar affective disorder: Life hit by extreme highs and extreme lows

WHAT is bipolar affective disorder?

According to, bipolar affective disorder is often called manic depression.

It is a mood disorder in which moods can swing from extremes: very, very high (mania), to very, very low (depression).

The high and low phases of the illness are called episodes.

Episodes can be so extreme that they can interfere with the victim's daily life.

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood, but the condition seems to run in families.

Often, the depressive phase comes first. Sufferers may be diagnosed with clinical depression to begin with, only to have a mania experience some time later - in some cases, years later - and the diagnosis might even change.

There are great variations in the pattern of mood swings in bipolar disorder.

Some find that mood swings happen every few days, while others might experience long periods with no mood swings at all.

On average, someone with bipolar disorder will have five or six episodes over a period of 20 years.

Bipolar disorder can be treated effectively and lots of people live normal, healthy lives while managing the condition.

WHILE working with the Education Team of the Renfrewshire Association for Mental Health, giving talks to school pupils and social workers, Suzy started writing about having mental illness and this led to the writing of her autobiography, The Naked Bird Watcher, which was published in the Spring of 2003.

Now Suzy writes, advises, promotes and publishes on mental health awareness issues. She said: 'We all have mental health and with one in four of the population requiring medical help with mental distress at some point in their lives and one in 10 teenagers self-harming, the statistics give cause for concern - particularly when it involves subjects that society would prefer us not to discuss.

'Whether we like it or not - in some form or other - mental illness will touch us all.

'The majority of psychiatric illness or conditions are likely to occur between the ages of 15 and 25, so it seems reasonable to make mental health education more accessible for this age group.'

WRITE STUFF: Jean Johnston and her daughter Suzy have both published books about depression

COPYRIGHT 2005 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday


The Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH); 4/25/2005

Byline: Associated Press

COLUMBUS -- Residential care centers in Ohio have treated unruly children with multiple mind-numbing drugs whose effects when mixed are not fully known, a newspaper said Sunday.

The drugs have become a quick fix to stifle troublemakers, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The newspaper conducted a three-month investigation that included reviews of thousands of state inspection records and interviews with child-welfare workers, doctors, families, lawyers and industry officials.

"At its worst, it's like a scene from the movie 'One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest' with Nurse Ratched chasing after kids with syringes of psychiatric drugs," said Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, legislative director for the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

But the Ohio Department of Mental Health says it's a rare problem already being addressed through better training.

An advocacy group says changes in reporting regulations have allowed mental health centers to shroud evidence of abuse and overmedication.

Ohio Legal Rights Services is campaigning for stricter rules governing Ohio's 52 private residential centers to deal with out-of-control children, some of whom have mental afflictions like bipolar disorder.

In January 2004, the Ohio Department of Mental Health stopped requiring treatment centers to fill out incident reports for restraints -- both emergency medications and physical holds -- unless they involved abuse or neglect, or resulted in an attempted suicide, injury or death, said Carolyn Knight, the group's executive director. Reports of emergency drugs fell from 118 in 2003 to 10 last year.

The state licenses the centers, which treat thousands of children each year, and officials say state law prohibits using medication to restrain patients except when a child or worker is in danger.

Critics say the centers can circumvent the restrictions easily and use medication as a quick-fix solution.

"It happens underground all the time," said Steve Eidelman, executive director of the ARC of the United States, a national advocacy group for the developmentally and mentally disabled, based in Silver Spring, Md. "It's all about what's easiest for the treatment providers, not what's good for the kids."

Legal Rights, an independent state agency, has reviewed 500 cases of chemical restraint in the last five years and found cases in which medication has caused hallucinations in patients and patients with a history of abuse have been physically restrained by guards.

Defenders say drugs sometimes are needed as children sent to the centers become more violent and unruly.

"They bite, hit, kick and spit," said Penny Wyman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies, which represents residential centers. "They curse, yell and throw furniture. They're angry and have a lot of issues to work out."

State officials have uncovered examples of overmedication at treatment centers throughout the state.

In one such case Dr. Patricia Goetz, the Ohio Department of Mental Health's assistant medical director, reviewed 11 cases at Belmont Pines Hospital, in Youngstown, in which 27 doses of the powerful drugs Haldol and Thorazine were given to calm, angry children.

One man said his son was so drugged up he couldn't walk or talk.

Last April the state "strongly recommended" the end of emergency medications at the center, which had previously been put on probation.

Belmont Pines officials said they have stopped using emergency medications and had reduced their use by 86 percent before the state warning.

COPYRIGHT 2005 The Cincinnati Post. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Dialog Corporation by Gale Group.

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