Monday, August 30, 2010

Thought this was a relevant article (click title for link to actual article):

College Campuses See Rise in Cases of Severe Mental Illness

More students arriving with preexisting conditions, more willing to seek help, researchers say

THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- More cases of severe mental illness are being reported among college students than a decade ago, as more young people with mental health issues tackle a post-secondary education and are open to getting help when they need it, a new U.S. study shows.

The use of prescription medications by students to treat psychiatric illness has also risen significantly over the past decade, the research team noted.

"If we look at the average college student and their level of psychological and emotional functioning and distress, on the whole they are not necessarily worse off than they were 10 years ago," explained study author John C. Guthman, director of student counseling at Hofstra University's division of student affairs. "However, there are some students who are outliers and they have some difficulty in some areas. And these relatively few students that present in significant distress seem to have increased to a greater percentage than they were a decade ago."

Guthman and his colleagues are to report their findings Thursday at the American Psychological Association annual meeting, in San Diego.

The authors noted that their observations appear to be in line with what mental health professionals have observed and reported anecdotally in recent years.

To get a handle on the current state of affairs, Guthman and his team analyzed diagnostic records concerning nearly 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students who had sought college counseling at some point in the 10 years between 1997 and 2009.

After examining intake information concerning mental disorders, suicidal tendencies and behavioral reports, the team determined that over the years most students had been diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders and that, on average, the nature of these cases had remained relatively mild over time.

That said, Guthman and his associates did note a slight rise in the number of in-counseling students who were diagnosed with a single mental disorder, bumping up from 93 percent in 1998 to 96 percent in 2009.

In addition, among those students who sought counseling, the percentage who suffered from moderate to severe depression had risen over the years, from 34 percent to 41 percent, they found.

What's more, while just 11 percent of students in counseling had been prescribed psychiatric medications in 1998 (for depression, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), that figure had risen to 24 percent by 2009.

One silver lining: Among students in counseling, the percentage who reported having had suicidal thoughts during the first two weeks of treatment had declined over the decade, from 26 percent in 1998 to just 11 percent by 2009, a drop the researcher attributed to improvements in suicide prevention treatment and outreach.

Although the study team did not pinpoint exactly what accounts for the apparent changes, Guthman offered up some theories.

"First of all, maybe expectations are such that in general more people are attempting to get a college degree, as it's become more essential to employment," he said. "It could also be that colleges are seen as more supportive environments, and there is more outreach to help students than a decade ago," he added.

"It could also be that medications have improved, and students that may not have been able to go to campus a decade back are now able to function well enough to go and succeed," Guthman added. "Or it could be a function of the national health-care crisis -- that folks just aren't able to access support in other areas of their life, and so they seek help when they get on a college campus."

Lawrence Marks, a staff psychologist at the University of Central Florida's Counseling Center, said that all of these factors are probably contributing to the current state of affairs.

"I'm glad to hear this empirical data is being put out there, because I know that when you informally ask clinicians in university counseling centers it seems that everyone is seeing an increase in the severity and an increased demand for services," he noted. "Of course, universities have grown in student body over the years, so it's hard to measure increased service use as there is typically a much larger student population to deal with, as is certainly the case on our campus."

But, Marks added, "I do think that counseling centers are doing a better job letting students know they are there. And, to some degree, some of the stigma surrounding these services has dissipated over the years. So we're certainly seeing a greater accessing of services today than we did before."

More information

For more on college campuses and mental health, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

SOURCES: John C. Guthman, Ph.D., faculty, department of psychology, and director, student counseling, division of student affairs, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.; Lawrence Marks, Ph.D., staff psychologist, Counseling Center, University of Central Florida; Aug. 12, 2010, presentation, American Psychological Association annual meeting, San Diego

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

GOOD MORNING FROM USELESS & HOMELESS

I have been amazingly unproductive this whole weekend.

Even the idea of looking at a book makes me anxious. I'm not sure why I get this way. I mean, I know that for me, one of the first things to go when my depression gets worse is decreased cognitive functioning (maybe decreased is an understatement...). But there's also the strange anxiety. There is no judgment, and there is little room for failure. Still, I freeze up at the thought of running my eyes across the pages of a book. I guess it's a vicious cycle in which I get anxious about my academic performance because I know I can't perform normally, and I can't perform even more so because of the anxiety.

I have an inkling that my environment is really starting to work against me. I moved here after my health began to falter and my work performance went wayyyy down. It provided me the immediate relief of not having to work and not having to deal with this wierd triangle of a commute where nothing was less than 40 minutes away. But I knew that after the immediate relief, the reality of the situation would start to reemerge. Home, where I experienced some of my trauma, would eventually become that -- where I experienced some of my trauma. Ignoring the voice in my head (the normal kind, heh), I actually thought I might be able to have some semblance of a home for once. And for about the 20th time in my life, I moved. The first month, heck, even three or four, were actually not half bad. But now I am slowly noticing myself becoming increasingly more irritable and isolated, my anxiety going up, and my eating habits shifting. My health is on the decline.

The reality of the situation is that I have hit that wall I knew I would when I moved here six months ago. I guess it's time to find an alternative solution. How could I let myself forget? People like me have no home.

GOOD MORNING FROM IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO

Earlier tonight I dealt with some emotions and thoughts I haven't had to face in some bit of time. I started missing my boyfriend (I saw him yesterday, for heaven's sake!), and I got very anxious about this. I felt like a failure for letting the needy, borderline part of me resurface. I tried to suppress it, took my meds remembering that I had forgotten to take my 2nd and 3rd doses of Seroquel (oops), hoped that would help, and tried to distract myself with my online world. It may seem petty, but the situation brought back many unwanted memories of my last relationship and how I was always blamed for being "too much to handle" and "too demanding" or "too _____."

Which leads me to the main point of this entry. I recalled an excerpt from a book I read recently, after having my mini borderline moment.

The following is an excerpt from Marya Hornbacher's Wasted. I related to it and wanted to share it with those who might be going through a similar situation or has gone through it in the past. I can't and shouldn't say what to do with it. But it helps to know you're not the only one going through this. But most of all, something I kept forgetting while I was living it -- it takes two to tango.

"But no matter how many times we make up, there's the fact of me and my mood swings and my drinking. Even if Jeremy were perfect, even if we weren't trying to destroy each other's lives, my mood swings would still be there. And I'd be drinking myself to death.

The fact of the matter is that Jeremy likes my drinking. And he likes the fact that I'm crazier than hell. This pattern is now an old one with the guys I get involved with, most recently, before Jeremy, with Julian. For one thing, when it's good, life with me is a constant party. We drink all the time. He fills my glass as fast as I can empty it. I'm excited, exciting, full of ideas and energy, great to be around. And then I go too far -- I drink too much, he holds me up, laughing, as I stagger, go into deep funks, and he comforts me and makes it all go away. My drinking and my crazies are my weakness. He exploits this to the hilt. It gives him something on me. When he comes home from work to find me lying in bed, Oh, honey, are you all right? And he strokes my hair. Why don't you have some Klonopin. Here. Even better, when he's not playing the savior, he's playing the saint: whenever we fight, it's my fault. I was drunk, or I was crazy, or I was both. He's untouchable. He screams at me until I'm a crumpled mass on the floor. I give in. He's right. I'm a fuckup. I'm sorry, I say. I'll get better, I say. And suddenly he's all care and kindness, bent over me, picking me up, rocking me in his arms. There, there, I cling to him, pathetic, humiliated, grateful that he's still there. I don't deserve him. He's too good.

I put my head down on the table and cry. Because it's happened again. I'm found out. I'm damaged. Fucked up. Broken. A fraud. I knew he would figure out sooner or later that I was impossible to love. And now he has, and I love him, and I'm certain he has tried, really tried, to love me back. But trying to love me is too much for any sane person to bear. I watch their backs, one by one, as they walk away."

On the lighter side, this is codependency at its dirtiest. On the darker side, emotional abuse in all its shining glory.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

GOOD MORNING FROM BAGGAGE

"You arrived. I changed the lights, because I knew you hated the overhead brightness. I apologized for the music -- embarrassed by its cheesiness. You said you didn't mind, but I paused it anyway. It began as usual. We knew where it was going. You sat down, and we hugged. We were next to each other, and I thought about how much I wanted to give in.

I thought about you. I thought about him. I thought about me. In that order. Without him, I would have thought about you. Then me. And I knew that me didn't know how to say 'no' without him. I felt the smoothness of your skin, and cried inside that it wasn't him. Then I was mad he didn't let himself be you. I was mad that there was no me with him. And now, just you. And you already knew there was only you. So you picked me up, telling me I was so tiny. And I felt huge, my weight doubling with burden. I laughed, enjoying the concreteness of your affection, then said 'no' because the concreteness was too real. Too real for him, not enough for me. But there was no me in that moment. Just you and him. No me.

You threw me on the bed and I kept laughing. You kept smiling. The laughing was you. The smiling masking laughing. Your body held me down. I felt a sickness rising when your body told me the truth. It was a scary truth, a sad truth, the fucked up truth -- there was no me. Everytime I pushed you away, your body responded with the same truth.

I thought of your truth. I thought of his truth. I thought of my truth. There was just your truth in that moment. My truth faded away, struggling to speak despite the presence of your truth and the distant thoughts of his truth. My truth left me. And without my truth, it was a battle already lost."

I've been having a rough night, feeling vulnerable, PTSD residue, etc., from last year. So to help me out, I looked back to a piece of writing while I did in the hospital that has helped me out in many ways (above). It's a bit cheesy, but it was cathartic to write and remains so to read. It also really helped me think about how my eating disorder happened and functions, the dynamics of the relationships in my life, so on and so forth.

Anyways, I'm planning on writing a real entry soon. Sorry for being MIA this past month.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

GOOD AFTERNOON FROM LOVELESS

Sorry to be so useless, but my update will have to take the form of a music video for now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

GOOD MORNING FROM EXPERIENCE #1 (Warning of possible trigger?)

Imagine you are blindfolded. Your hands are also tied behind your back. You are not alone -- you sense there is someone behind you.

The person frees your hands and you are pushed into a room. When the door shuts behind you, you become aware that the person is no longer next to you. You are able to take off your blindfold, unsure of what you will see once you take it off. You loosen the knot behind your head and let the blindfold fall to the floor.

There is nothing. There is only darkness. Stay there for 24 years.