Monday, April 30, 2007

May 1, 2007---Blogging Against Disablism Day---Employment

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007

I stumbled on to this quite by accident---but for those who read this blog---you know I love my causes. This one hits very close to home for me. In the eyes of my psychiatrist and other doctors, therapists, and even many coworkers, I am considered disabled due to the Bipolar Disorder. I, on the other hand, consider myself to be very able.

I am a contributing member of society. I matter. I work part time. Plus I do tons of volunteer work. I own my own home--well me and the finance company for now. I own two vehicles. I pay taxes. I'm an active member in several mental health consumer groups---NAMI for starters. For those who don't know, that is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. I'm also a member of AL-APSE---the Alabama chapter of the Association for Persons in Supportive Employment...APSE. I even served on the board for awhile. Plus I taught workshops at the state and national levels. APSE is the professional organization for those working in the vocational rehab field, as well as consumers and families. Which means I'm involved in getting those people who are considered disabled back to work. That not only means those with a severe mental illness but also physical and developmental disabilities. The following is the basis of what supportive employment means:

Best Practice in Supported Employment

People with disabilities seeking community integrated competitive employment refer to themselves as customers. They want and need the assistance of a professional to obtain and maintain competitive employment. However, what they are demanding is for supported employment services to be developed, marketed, and delivered based upon what would best fit the customer's needs, rather than what is convenient to the existing service system.

There are nine best practices that are encompassed in a customer-driven approach to supported employment. Central to the concept is the idea that the customer is in control of the process. The role of the employment specialist is to assist the customer in reaching his or her career goals. The best practices form the foundation for the customer-driven approach to supported employment.

Because the family is so important both in assisting the customer with employment as well as being a tremendous resource of support options that may be available, including them in the supported employment process and encouraging their involvement are crucial.
Now many people who are considered disabled rely on living off social security disability payments. That is all well and good. But if you ask most all consumers---they would rather be working. Not all of them are capable of working. Especially those who suffer with a severe mental illness. The medications interfere with the way they are able to function. As so many of my fellow consumers will tell you---sometimes the "cure" is worse than the disease.

The entire reason for me contributing this post to this cause boils down to one simple word. It's a big one.......STIGMA. I see it everyday. Others with disabilities---physical and developmental...I do not wish to offend you, but in my experience, those suffering from a severe mental illness have a significantly more difficult time in obtaining and maintaining employment. All because of the stigma associated with having such a diagnosis. When approaching potential employers on their own, with out the aide of vocational rehab, many consumers will not share their medical history for fear of not getting the job. A fellow blogger---Bipolar Wellness Writer, Susan Bernard--- had a very enlightening post about this very thing. She actually did a whole series of posts about working, you need to really check them all out.

My experience, in working with consumers, is employers who are aware of the illness are immediately on guard. Some are even scared to hire someone once their diagnosis is revealed. I personally had difficulties in obtaining a job. When I was first diagnosed, I was not stable enough to return to work in the nursing field but I wanted to do something---anything---I was tired of just getting by. It is extremely difficult to live on a fixed income. I applied for a job in numerous places---even at McDonald's. But many wouldn't even talk to me. Here I was 40 years old---had been a nurse for nearly 20 years and wanted just a small little minimum wage job. But I was repeatedly turned down. I eventually found a part time job within the mental health field. I have been with the same company for the past 5 years and my job has developed over time as I became more stable. I now have a position that utilizes my degree.

I firmly believe that everyone deserves a chance to do something with their life---whether it be volunteer work, self-employment, full-time job, part time job, school,....whatever. We are an overlooked population. But we refuse to be invisible any more.......

I want to thank the following people for bringing this cause to my attention----The Goldfish at Diary of a Goldfish----Lady Bracknell at The Perorations of Lady Bracknell

These are two wonderful bloggers......check them out and spread the word.....................

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I should have done this earlier this week, but had more pressing matters. I had no weight loss when I hit the scales on Monday. You would think that with all the extra heavy yard work I've been doing lately---some weight would have dropped. But at least it's not a gain.

I've joined up with the website Fat Fighting Bloggers, if you are interested in anything to do with weight loss you need to check it out. There are a variety of sites listed dealing from WLS to fitness and exercise to various diets to fat acceptance.

I live out in the country. Not too far from my house are some great family owned fruit and veggie stands. We also have some local U-Pick-Em farms. I can't wait for them to really get up and going later on in the year. Nothing better to me than some good old fresh veggies and fruits. A couple of my favs are the blueberry and strawberry farms. Nothing better than a nice bowl of fresh berries with some cream. It won't be too long until I break out the ice cream maker and mix up a batch of low carb sugar free ice cream. YUMMY....

I'm still doing my water yoga and water aerobics at the Y. They have even opened the outside pool. The water is still a little chilly but it's great to be able to get some laps in, then hit the steam room. It does wonders for my back and knee pain. I've been able to decrease my pain med to only 1/2 tablet a day.

Well that's it for this week---we'll just have to wait and see what the dreaded scale has to say on Monday....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Call to Action

Alright folks--I'm fixing to get on a really big soapbox---so bear with me---

Working in the mental health field for these past 7 years has allowed me to get to know a wide variety of people. Mental illness crosses all socioeconomically, ethnic barriers. I doesn't matter the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank. It can strike without warning.

As part of the FY 2008 budget now pending before Congress, a bipartisan coalition of senators – led by Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) – are seeking full funding for youth suicide prevention programs under the Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Memorial Act. Advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their senators and urge them to join Senators Dodd and Smith and sign on to their letter urging $40 million for FY 2008 for programs under the Garrett Lee Smith Act. The deadline for signing on to the Dodd-Smith letter is April 25.
It is a very simple forwm to fill out. It will automatically be forwarded to your localreps.

Just to give you little background on how prevalent suicide can be, here are some statitcs:

National Statistics


  • Over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
  • In 2004 (latest available date), there were 32,439 reported suicide deaths.
  • Suicide is fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the U.S., with approximately 26,500 suicides.
  • Currently, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the U.S.
  • An attempt is estimated to be made once every minute.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • Every day, approximately 80 Americans take their own life, and 1,500 more attempt to do so.


  • Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.
  • Between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, the suicide rate among U.S. males aged 15-24 more than tripled (from 6.3 per 100,000 in 1955 to 21.3 in 1977).
  • Among females aged 15-24, the rate more than doubled during this period (from 2.0 to 5.2). The youth suicide rate generally leveled off during the 1980s and early 1990s, and since the mid-1990s has been steadily decreasing.
  • Among young people aged 10-14 years, the rate has doubled in the last two decades.
  • Between 1980-1996, the suicide rate for African-American males aged 15-19 has also doubled. Risk factors for suicide among the young include suicidal thoughts, psychiatric disorders (such as depression, impulsive aggressive behavior, bipolar disorder, certain anxiety disorders), drug and/or alcohol abuse and previous suicide attempts, with the risk increased if there is situational stress and access to firearms.

Older People

  • The suicide rates for men rise with age, most significantly after age 65.
  • The rate of suicide in men 65+ is seven times that of females who are 65+.
  • The suicide rates for women peak between the ages of 40-54 years old.
  • About 60 percent of elderly patients who take their own lives see their primary care physician within a few months of their death.
  • Six to 9 percent of older Americans who are in a primary care setting suffer from major depression.
  • More than 30 percent of patients suffering from major depression report suicidal ideation.
  • Risk factors for suicide among the elderly include: a previous attempt, the presence of a mental illness, the presence of a physical illness, social isolation (some studies have shown this is especially so in older males who are recently widowed) and access to means, such as the availability of firearms in the home.


  • Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression.
  • If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.
  • Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 19 million people.
  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (7 million), cancer (6 million) and AIDS (200,000) combined.
  • About 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime.
  • Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses.
  • Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.
  • But first, depression has to be recognized.

Alcohol and Suicide

  • Ninety-six percent of alcoholics who die by suicide continue their substance abuse up to the end of their lives.
  • Alcoholism is a factor in about 30 percent of all completed suicides.
  • Approximately 7 percent of those with alcohol dependence will die by suicide.Firearms and Suicide
    Although most gun owners reportedly keep a firearm in their home for "protection" or "self defense," 83 percent of gun-related deaths in these homes are the result of a suicide, often by someone other than the gun owner.
  • Firearms are used in more suicides than homicides.
  • Death by firearms is the fastest growing method of suicide.
  • Firearms account for 60 percent of all suicides.

Medical Illness and Suicide

  • Patients who desire an early death during a serious or terminal illness are usually suffering from a treatable depressive condition.
  • People with AIDS have a suicide risk up to 20 times that of the general population.
  • Studies indicate that the best way to prevent suicide is through the early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses.

    You can check out the rates for your particular state here and for the world here.

Suicide is not a way to get attention as is so commonlly believed. Most would rather die than to continue living their life. Until we get a better understanding of mental illness as a whole--the suicide rate will continue to rise.

Here are some warning sign of suicide:

Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most people who are suicidal do give warnings. Prevent the suicide of loved ones by learning to recognize the signs of someone at risk, taking those signs seriously and knowing how to respond to them.

Warning signs of suicide include:

Observable signs of serious depression:

  • Unrelenting low mood
  • Pessimism
  • Hopelessness
  • Desperation
  • Anxiety, psychic pain and inner tension
  • Withdrawal
  • Sleep problems
    Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
    Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
    Threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die
Making a plan:

  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm
  • Obtaining other means of killing oneself such as poisons or medications
    Unexpected rage or anger
The emotional crises that usually precede suicide are often recognizable and treatable. Although most depressed people are not suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed. Serious depression can be manifested in obvious sadness, but often it is rather expressed as a loss of pleasure or withdrawal from activities that had been enjoyable. One can help prevent suicide through early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses.

I'm sure that each and everyone of us has been touched by suicide at one time in our lives

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day at the Spa

I wrote once before about my little puppy Bear and how it helped my panic attacks. Well as a gift to me---because she knew I wouldn't do this---my sis gave me a gift certificate for a day at the spa. Now the day at the spa is for Bear not me. But the little thing is such a joy to me---I think he deserves to be spoiled once a month. I guess that's opposed to the spoiling he gets everyday by me, LOL.

Anyway---the day spa does all sorts of neat little things. They give him a bath. Style, cut and blow dry his fur. Give him a complete pedicure. One girl also gives him a massage. Wouldn't you love to trade places with him---I sure would.

This month they went all out and even sent him home in a scarf. I couldn't resist taking some "glamour" shots. So what do y'all think? Don't you just love him to pieces. I may be a bit biased but I think he's pretty adorable.

But the best thing about him--is he makes me get up, walk daily and get outside. I have a tendency to isolate myself. All those thigs are great for my weight loss as well as my piece of mind. Who could ask for more....contentment in a pint size package....

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Heart Goes Out to ALL of the Victims.....

I have been stunned at all the info that is coming out about the tragedy at VA Tech. It was just awful. There are so many different points of view swirling around on the web.

I have been very open about my mental illness. I have received some odd comments from people who just didn't know any better it seems. In my search of my mind to try and put my thoughts down--I've been searching some of the other blogs I read each day. I found the most well written post---I could not have said things any better---shoot I'm no where near being a writer. So please take time to check out this link--- The College Mental Health Crisis ---here is an exert from the post:

From everything I've seen and read, Cho was totally alone in a community of
25,000 students. How does this happen? When should college administrators have
intervened? When should they have determined that his behavior wasn't
acceptable? When should they have demanded he receive help in order to remain on campus?

How do parents who are from a culture so very different from ours,
recognize that their child is in dire straights? How do they seek help for an
illness that is so stigmatic and "shameful" in a culture where "shame" is a
"dirty" word?

Susan Bernard is a consumer/survivor and a published author. Her writings are wonderful. She really put words to feels I've been having ever since this happened.

Once again my heart goes out to ALL of the families involved in this terrible tragedy. I hope the students of this fine institution will be able to mourn and regain part of their sense of safety taken away that day.

Blessed be.....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Help Find A Cure

A very good friend of mine is very active in the fight against breast cancer. Each year she participates in a grueling 3 day walk for the cure. She does want to have as many sponsors as possible. You can find the link for her donation page here. She will be walking in the Boston area Aug 3-5. So get out there and show your support for this worthy cause.

The Susan B. Komen For the Cure has locations in many cities throughout the US. You can sign up yourself or sponsor someone in your local area. The Breast Cancer 3-Day is a 60-mile walk for women and men who want to make a personal difference in the fight against breast cancer. Participants commit to fundraising, training and dedicating an entire weekend to the cause.
Breast Cancer 3-Day participants travel an average of 20 miles a day during each event, raising
awareness for breast cancer programs and breast health messages along the way. Participants are provided meals, snacks, liquids, mobile showers, tents, safety guidelines, 24-hour medical support –all resources needed for a safe and memorable experience.

This year, more than 200,000 women and men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will lose their lives to the disease. A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 3 minutes. Every 13 minutes, the disease claims another life.

On a more personal note---this is a very important cause for me. My son lost his father and I lost my best friend to breast cancer. People tend to over look the fact that men are stricken with this also. My son's father did. He discovered the lump and did nothing about it for a year---by then it was too late. He did fight for awhile--then just gave up when it got to be too much. He died just 10 days before our son's 17th birthday. My son is now 24 and not a day goes by that he doesn't wish his dad was here.

So if you have suffered through this or know someone who has---get involved---if you don't have money to give---something everyone can afford to give is their time......

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Fatblogging

Well a couple of weeks ago some of the Neighbors over at LAWLS Neighborhood Forum and I started on the Atkins Induction. I wrote about it in this post. It has been 2 weeks for me and today is my weigh in. I started out at this thing weighing 165. At the end of the first week I was down 3lbs. That was the Monday after my families Easter Dinner. Which by the way was an eating nightmare for me. I had made good ol' southern cornbread dressing and homemade yeast rolls. I ate some---my own cooking is a big downfall for me.

The first part of this past week I had a mega cold. Went to my PCP got some meds and a round of steroids. Man, do they make you eat or what. My tummy was real particular for a few days so I did a day of nothing but liquids. My eating the rest of this week has been good ol' protein with some veggies thrown in for the fiber. I was pretty proud of how I rebounded after Easter. BUT---knew there had to be a but somewhere---I went a little wild at my sister's yesterday. She had some people over and she makes this trifle---granted it is a sugar free sort of thing. But no where really low carb. I took a small bowl home intending on eating on it for a few days. I kept picking at it last night until it was all gone.

Hopped on the scale today---man I hate those things. Even with all the bad food choices I'm down another 3 lbs. I'm finally under that 160 mark that has been haunting me for months. So I'm gonna keep with the program for the rest of the month. I've got to purge this evil demon, known as the "carb monster". I'll keep all y'all posted with my progress.

Man, I hate that scale....

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Parity---What it is....

Okay this is something that is near and dear to my heart. So if I tend to go off on a rant just forgive me.
Parity---just what is it and why do we need it. Parity---in laymens terms is forcing insurance companies to treat mental illness as they do all other illness. Equivalent benefits and restrictions in insurance coverage for mental health services and for other health services.
As it stands right now that is not the case. So many people still do not see emntal illness as a medical illness. But it is---plain and simple---so why do those who suffer with a mental disoder recieve decreased benefits from insurance companies than those suffering from say , diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. But of course ther are those people out in the world who do not believe mental illness exists. Come walk a mile in my shoes for one day buddy and see exactly what it is like.

Here's an exert from an article over at the Brazelon Center For Mental Health Law:

Kennedy Tells Advocates No More Deals With Insurance Companies

Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) told policymakers and mental health advocates today that letting insurance companies define mental illness when setting limits on coverage is “bogus.” Kennedy and other policymakers addressed nearly 100 members of the mental health community during the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s “Working Breakfast” at the Columbus Club in Washington, DC.

“We can’t cut any deals with insurance companies,” said Kennedy, pointing out that United Medical, for example, made $60 billion in the last quarter alone. “We have to be clear here. Letting them define what a mental illness is and what it isn’t is just not kosher.”

The proposed legislation would close the loopholes that allow plans to charge higher co-payments, coinsurance, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket limits and impose lower day and visit limits on mental health and addiction care. Kennedy told the advocates that challenges to the bill were all about insurance companies making more money.

The Brazelon Center For Mental Health Law is a go to resource if you are interested in fighting for the rights of those suffering from mental illness. They are big in the area of reform in the mental health field.
I know their are a number of readers of this blog who are consumers----I urge you to check out their site and see what you can do. They have a section on taking action---I've become a huge letter writer to my local and national legislative bodies. No one can truly understand the life we have ---the stigma we face----the despair----and that is when we are stable. It only becomes more important when we are unstable and in need of services we can not afford or have no access to.
I personally have been in the situation where I had to choose----okay do I buy my meds this month---or do I buy food. And that does not even factor in the cost of seeing my therapists on a routine basis and seeing the pdoc for med changes.

I am nowhere near alone---many are in worse shape than I ever have been. Not able to get their meds because they have no place to live. Not everyone is lucky enough to have support of family.
It is all well and good for our nation to help other nations in need---but charity begins at home---look after those in your own back yard first.....

Friday, April 13, 2007


Fatblogging(TM)---just what in the sam hill is this...
I first encountered this term on a blog I read--- The Incredible Shrinking Ladies . They believe in it so much they started an entire site devoted to it called The Diet Pulpit . This is how they describe what they hope to achieve there.

We are on a mission to spread the word of health, happiness, and humor,
forgive all diet transgressions, overcome temptations, and to help you reach
your goals! Remember it's health that matters, not size. Hallelujah!

So where did the term Fatblogging(TM) come from....well the phrase was first coined by Jason Calacanis. You can check him out at But here are his words to describe what Fatblogging(TM) really is:

FatBlogging is not associated with any services--it's a blogging
movement where you post about your diet/exercise on your blog and tag it
fatblogging. That's it. We ask that you do it daily, but that is a goal not

Fablogging is *not* a competition, it's a lifestyle.

What a concept huh-----scores of people from all walks of life linked via the WWW in an effort to better their health. Also the ladies at The Diet Pulpit believe in health at any size. I like that idea. You don't have to be a size 0 to be healthy or any other single digit number for that matter.

Bet you're thinking--come on---you wanted to lose weight so bad, you had your gut rearranged. Yeah, I did. Because I am 5'2" and weighed nearly 400lbs. Could barely walk. Short of breath all the time. Diabetes running rampant--requiring multiple insulin injections everyday. High blood pressure through the roof--3 types of meds here. Lipid profiles, triglycerides, cholesterol, etc, were a nightmare---3 meds used here. I was a ticking time bomb.
I had tried diet after diet after no avail. The old yo-yo syndrome. I would lose weight only to gain it back and then some. I was a bulimic, binge eater, carb-a-holic mess. So after much researching, I chose to have WLS. At 160 lbs, according to the BMI charts, I'm still considered "overweight". Not too far from the "obese" category either. I'd really like to be in the "normal" category---but I'm not gonna get obsessive about it. When I make good food choices, get out and move this body. I feel that I'm winning the fight.
And just so you'll know, I'm no longer on any of those meds as before---well except my psych meds----and who could survive without them.

Size to me has nothing to do with health. I know plenty of people who are considered normal weight but they are so sickly. I also know of some pretty large size people who can run circles around their smaller counterparts and never had more than a sniffle. Too many folks equate weight with health and they would be wrong. I could really go off on a rant here but I will leave that for another post.

There are some out there who just don't "believe" in the concept of Fatblogging(TM). They call it "fatspam". I say that is only their opinion and we all know what they say about opinions....

I applaud anyone who wants to better themselves and it doesn't matter which road they take. So I'll be joining those who are into Fatblogging(TM). It keeps my mind focused on why I had WLS in the first place. Also it helps me focus on where I am going and to enjoy the ride, just not focus on the destination.

You miss alot of life's scenery that way.....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stuck On Stupid

Some people are just stuck on stupid --as we say down south----when it comes to nutrition and what is the right and wrong way to eat. A prime example of what NOT to do can be found here...Christopher Wanjek---speaking out against the Atkins's diet---or his idea of what the Atkins's diet is---which is totally wrong...

Yeah sure back in the day, prior to my WLS, I did the Atkins's diet the wrong way---the pork rinds (skins--as we call them in the south), tons of bacon, bologna, eggs, cheese, no veggies. Shoot I even made a "bread" pudding out of the skins. But that is not what the Atkins's diet is all about. When a low carb approach is actually followed the right way---you eat far better than just meat, eggs, and cheese. I've never spent so much time in the produce aisle as I do now.

Scott over at Modern Forager had a some well chosen words for the writer of this article--I sure hope he gets some feedback from the man.

Here is my favorite quote from his response----

if people would simply eat foods that don't come with a Nutrition Facts label
and a list of health claims, they would likely be eating the right things.
Macronutrient content matters little if you're eating meat, vegetables, nuts,
fruit, and tubers. The body will naturally regulate intake with nutrient-dense,
satiating foods. Eat from the above five groups of whole, natural foods and
Atkins, Ornish, Sears, et al will be out of business. Of course, so will all of
the nutritionists...keeping us confused about what to eat is good for business,
even if it's not good for our waistlines.

Regina Wilshire at Weight of Evidence also had a good post about this same article---she responded as only she can. Good scientific proof to debunk what the article had to say, as usual.

For me I will keep doing what helped me lose 200+ lbs...the low carb life...the only life for me....without it...well I would be ...well...dead...

100 cal Snack Packs

Okay everyone---y'all know how I feel about too many carbs in my food plan. I'm for eating whole foods--not prepackaged junk---I even make my own BBQ sauce and ketchup. But to my point. On one of the WLS surgery boards I frequent--LAWLS--we had a long drawn out discussion about these so-called healthy snacks. Alot of the people there thought they were a good idea--but then they also think graham crackers are a nice treat for the kids. I just do not believe in it. It is only a big ploy by the marketing companies to get you to eat this garbage.

But I'm gonna let my friend- the Fuming Fugi-- over at Mark's Daily Apple---share his views.

This is my favorite quote---

Almost respecting the body is still disrespecting it.

So this gal will not disrespect her body with this garbage.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ten Myths About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a severe mental illness. It is not "all in the head". It is a real bonifided medical problem just like diabetes or cancer or a host of other ailments. But so many lay people think there is no such thing. Hence the stigma of a mental illness. But that is a very long rant of mine. Which I will not subject you to----YET.

True or False? The Top 10 Myths About Bipolar Disorder
Expert Patient John McManamy gives you the real story.

Like many mental illnesses, the commentary surrounding bipolar disorder is saturated with myths--it's hard to tell what's true and what's not.

1. Everyone has their ups and downs, so mine aren’t that serious.

Yes, everyone has good days and bad days, but when these ups and downs seriously interfere with your ability to work, relate to others and function effectively, it is advisable to seek out a psychiatrist.

2. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder.

Half true. Bipolar disorder certainly affects mood, but it also affects cognition and the ability to perform mental tasks. Some days we can out-think Stephen Hawking. Other days we make Forrest Gump look like an intellectual.

3. Yes, but bipolar disorder is still a mood disorder.

Granted, but for most of us it is also part of a package deal that may include anxiety, substance and alcohol abuse and sleep disorders. Also, researchers are finding smoking guns linking the illness to heart disease, migraines and other physical ailments.

4. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings ranging from severely depressed to wildly manic.

Not necessarily. Most people with bipolar disorder are depressed far more often than they are manic. Often, the manias are so subtle that they are overlooked by both patient and psychiatrist, resulting in misdiagnosis. People with bipolar disorder can also enter long periods of remission.

5. Mania is like being on top of the world—if you could only put it in a bottle and sell it.

You wouldn’t want to with most manias. True, some forms of mild mania are characterized by feelings of elation, but other types have road rage features built in. More severe mania turns up the heat, resulting in different kinds of out-of-control behavior that can ruin your career, relationships and reputation.

6. Bipolar disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain.

This is the simpler explanation—what you tell your family and friends. What you need to know is our genes, biology and life experience make us extremely sensitive to stress. Various stressors, such as personal relationships and financial worries, have the potential to trigger a mood episode if not effectively nipped in the bud.

7. Medications are all you need to combat bipolar disorder.

False. While medications are the foundation of treatment for bipolar disorder, recovery is problematic without a good lifestyle regimen (diet, exercise and sleep), effective coping skills and a support network. People with bipolar disorder also benefit from various forms of talking therapy and religious/spiritual practice.

8. Medications don’t work for me.

For some people this may be true, but we all need to give our meds a chance. Treatment guidelines anticipate initial failures, and while no two guidelines are in agreement they are all based on the premise that eventually you will find a medication or combination of medications that will help you.

9. Lower quality of life and sluggish cognition are fair trade-offs for reducing mood symptoms.

False, big time. In the initial phase of treatment, meds overkill may be justified to bring your illness under control. But full recovery is based on improving your overall health and ability to function, not just eliminating mood symptoms. Over time, the side effects of medication tend to go away, so patience is advised. You may choose to live with minor side effects such as mild hand tremors. But if major side effects persist, you should work with your psychiatrist in adjusting doses or switching to different meds. The onus is on you to alert your psychiatrist to major side effects and to insist he or she take appropriate action.

10. Once you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you can forget about leading a normal life.

False. Living with bipolar disorder is a challenge, and you may have to change your expectations, but you should never give up on living a rewarding and productive lives.

I'm living proof---you can make it---it ain't no where near bein' easy , neither---to get countrified on ya.....
But seriously---something I have learned over time---one was to accept my diagnosis---and why not??? Two---take my meds. Three---keep my appointments with pdoc and therapist. And last but most important in my book is to find people who are going through the same things---it helps to know you are not alone in your struggles. So many think that the difficulties they face are only just them. I get by each day by reaching out to others.

Monday, April 9, 2007

New Helpful Links Blog

I am always finding interesting sites on the net. My site lists were getting way too long for my taste. So to keep this page cleaner looking I have added a blog just for links I find useful.

If you want to add your blog---or if you find some interesting sites, don't hesitate to email me. I will be happy to add it. You can also leave the links in the comment sections.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Perfect Steak

Alright everyone---as you can see from my recipes---I love to cook. Maybe that's one reason I ballooned up to nearly 400 lbs---but that's not what this post is about.
I can cook just about anything I put my mind to. Everything from chittlins' (yeah those) to chocolate souffle. But the one thing I never cook at home and is one of my favorite meals---the almighty steak.

Succulent---juicy----melt in your mouth steak. Now I like my steak a little on the rare side. My dad likes to joke about it too. He said just show the steak a picture of a fire and I'd eat it. Not far from being wrong either. When I try---and that is the optimum word here---TRY to cook a steak at home---it comes out more like shoe leather than succulent and juicy.

I bet you're thinking---the title of this post is the perfect steak---and she's saying she can't cook one---so how is she gonna tell us how?? That is the thing about cyberspace----you can find out just about anything you ever wanted to know.

I recently stumbled across a nice blog called Everyday Weekender Where everyday is the weekend… It is a vast variety of topics---but the most recent one had to do with grilling the perfect steak-- Cooking A Juicy Steak To Perfection

So I'm heading out to the store to pick up some juicy thick steaks and some charcoal no gas grill for me thanks---and treat my parents and big sis and her hubby to dinner tonight. I'll be freezing my tushy off---what's left of it anyway---it's cold as the dickins' here in Bama---but it will so be worth it.....

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Back To The Basics

A group of my buddies over in the LAWLS Neighborhood have a challenge going on this month. We are getting back to the basics. A bunch are trying to detox from carbs by following Atkins Induction for the month. Many of us have had the dreaded weight gain that tends to happen post WLS. It is directly linked to adding carbs back into our eating plan. While others in the maintenance phase have committed to be mindful of just what they are eating. Then others who have joined are still in the losing phase but have stalled because of the carb intake.

As I've stated in previous posts carbs can be a downfall for me. But alot of it goes back to the emotional eating so many of us experience. Prior to WLS, we "stuffed" our emotions with food. Mostly in the form of high trans-fat, sugary, or carb laden food. But that is only a quick fix. You get into that vicious cycle of needing more and more carbs to give you the emotional high. They have also shown in studies just how returning to carbs leads many to regain the weight they have lost.

So we are all getting back to the basics of weight loss surgery. Eating plenty of protein first, getting in lots of water, no snacking, and making sure we exercise. Over at LAWLS we call these our Four Power Tools. If you stick to these four rules you can and will be successful at your weight loss.

By doing this together we are supporting one another in our efforts. But the real key is we are holding each other accountable. No body can do this for us. We have to make the decision to follow the basics so we may be successful. This is the key point of our "Empowerment Philosophy". Here is an exert of it:

The first step to personal empowerment is personal responsibility. LivingAfterWLS holds individuals accountable for making their weight loss surgery successful. When individuals take responsibility they feel liberated and motivated to invest personal equity in their success.

So are you feeling empowered. Maybe it's time for you to get back to the basics. Only you can control your fork. Your success lies totally within yourself. And helps to have friends to share it with.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

New WLS Support Link Added

Hey all my fellow WLS folks---I have found a new site out there in cyberdom. It is called Renewed Reflections. The founder is Craig 'Big-T' Thompson. He had his surgery in May 1997. They have alot to offer over there. Recipes, a Messageboard Forum, great articles, info about different surgeries. He has the most helpful book available for those with insurance company problems.

I found the members on the forum to be very supportive and caring. The forum is not only for WLS people---they welcome anyone who is looking to better their life by losing weight---no matter what route you choose to take.

One thing I really like about the site is the insight Craig has into the whys and what fors of getting obese in the first place. This is quote directly from Craig---

The weight wasn’t the problem… I WAS !! Yep, the grey matter between my ears was the real problem.

Being very into the mental health of people---myself included---the articles or Reflections, as they are called are right on the money. It is great to see that I am not the only one who has gone through some of the many changes after having WLS.

So I urge you to go on over there and take a look---you won't be sorry. I know I wasn't.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Shrimp is another food I eat frequently. This is one of my easily prepared go to foods. I keep it made up in the fridge at all times.

Spicy Shrimp Salad

3 large hard-cooked eggs
1 pound salad shrimp (canned or frozen)
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dill relish
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt to taste.

Thaw shrimp if frozen. In bowl of food processor pulse eggs and shrimp until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients. Quickly pulse until well mixed. Do not overprocess. Chill.

I serve this wrapped up in a piece of provolone cheese or even in a lettuce leaf. I you prefer to use crackers---DON'T. Why mess up a good low carb dish by adding useless carbs to it??? Enjoy!!

Obesity Epidemic.....

The only way you will not have heard of the great obesity epidemic world-wide is if you have been living in a cave. It is all over the news. Everywhere you look there is something about obesity.
Scientists are looking for the next new diet cure for obesity. People are looking for the next new fad to lose weight. But how far are we to go in our quest to cure obesity?
Of course there is the much herald weight loss wonder pill that gives you the chronic case of the poops. Then there is the ever tiring calorie in calorie out theory---yeah right. Then there are the many super duper abd blaster, thigh master, and other various torture machines. But an article I found on the net today just really takes the cake--low carb of course.....

Dutch hope to invent foods that prevent obesity

INVENT foods???? What the...????
Have we gotten to the point that we are so desperate we need to rely on manufactured foods? Yeah, yeah, I know there are wonderful genetically manufactured foods out there. To some point I agree with them---prevent disease, hardier crops and all that. But do we really need more chemicals to help us do it??

"We are working on certain food ingredients, which provoke more satiety than others do on the long run, so that our partners can use them in food manufacturing,"
"These products should trigger satiety and stop us eating more and more. They should also meet our dietary requirements, have a very good taste and be enjoyable to eat,"

Here is a key point...."Foods that provide satiety.....stop us from eating more." Well I've got a wonderful natural product that help do that. It is called FAT. Yeah that's right good old yummy delicious fat. Animal fat is most definitely the tastiest way I know of to curb my appetite and help me eat less. But will also provide vital things a human body HAS to have to live off of.
I know since I had WLS and began following a low carb eating plan, I get full easily. Bet you're thinking....yeah but your tummy is smaller too so of course you get full easily. Sure you are right about that, but I went off plan and gave into the carb monster for several months. I was never full. I constantly ate and ate and ate. Never feeling satisfied. Gained a ton of weight in the process too. Once I "detoxed" myself from those terrible carbs and got back to eating good old wonderful fat laden meat, I could stay full for hours.
Yesterday is a prime example. I had a glorious fatty chuck roast that I cooked in the crock pot for over 14 hrs, smothered in onions and carrots and turnips. Stewing in a lip smacking au jus. seasoned to perfection. I over stuffed myself for lunch with a huge portion. For me a huge portion is 3 or 4 oz. I couldn't even think of food until after 8pm last night. I had to force myself to eat some low carb yogurt with added walnuts, just so I could take my meds.

But the critical point of this article can be found in the last few sentences.

"Twenty years ago, the industry was only interested to sell as much as possible. That has changed, the industry now feels responsibility to respond to the health situation,"
"On the other hand, such innovative products have higher margins than those of selling a tomato or a bottle of milk."

AH HA!!! Now we get to the nitty gritty of it, margins, the all powerful, mighty bottom line. Making a profit is their main goal.
Well for me they can keep their engineered foods. I'll stick to good old whole, natural, food to keep me healthy and satisfied.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Spring Is Here

Well it is the first of April and the April showers got a head start, moving in late last night. At least April came in less violent than March did. We had severe tornadoes the first of March---several kids were killed in a storm that hit in south Alabama.
The pollen has been terrible these past few weeks---my poor truck is yellow instead of blue. With this rain maybe that will clear some of that stuff out of the air. We have had a particularly dry spell as of late. The weather has been great--with temps nearly 90 already this year. But I hate it when it gets so dry. For one the price of produce sky rockets---but I've got a little veggie garden. But it costs an arm and a leg to keep it watered. So the price ends up being about the same than if I hit the farmers market. But it so much fun gardening and that makes it worth it to me.
I've got several varieties of leaf lettuce, broccoli, collards, onions, tomatoes. I also planted a rosemary shrub this year. I use alot of fresh herbs in my cooking so I have a windowsill herb garden. But rosemary will survive outside in our climate zone. I use alot of rosemary---plus it smells so good.

I love Spring in the south with all the flowers blooming. It is serene. A reawakening, rebirth. After a long winter---well not too much winter weather here--but it still makes you want to get out and about.
I've been doing some spring cleaning the past few days. Getting my house open and aired out. Changing out all the thick drapes and heavy throws for something brighter more airy and cheerful. Finally putting away all my winter stuff and changing out my wardrobe. Time to start working on my tan ---summer is just around the corner.

Here's hoping everyone is enjoying their spring and the promise of new beginnings it brings.