Friday, September 1, 2017

Week 2 Reflection

Depressive Disorders
What exactly does the author mean by saying major depressive disorder is “the common cold of mental health”? Is this comparison referring to a lack of cure, simply its commonality/frequency in patients, or something else? The author also states that major depressive disorder involves mood. Q: What exactly causes mood? A: External things like events, internal things like brain chemicals (though this is currently under debate), and a patient’s past, such as memories/trauma, and current events that trigger thoughts of those past events/trauma.
            The author emphasizes the importance of individualized treatment plans. This is one of the reasons why the field of mental health is so complicated: every individual responds to various treatments differently. Maybe this significant variety in treatment response is inherent to the fact that mental health deals with a patient’s mind, which is highly personalized and can easily become trivialized when looking at a more scientific, impersonal, empirical view. It is imperative to remember the humanity involved in this field. The thing that distinguishes humans and makes us superior to other animals is our mind. It is not something to be treated lightly. Do twins often respond similarly to the same mental health treatment(s)? The resources a client has also have to be taken into consideration, such as support from others and finances. Will treatment require the patient to take time off from work/school (inpatient treatment, ECT)? Finally, a cost/benefit analysis should be done and the likelihood of treatment’s efficacy should be taken into consideration.
            According to WHO “depressive disorders were the leading cause of disability” (Dziegielewski 243). Despite this, there is a significant, sometimes debilitating, stigma associated with essentially all mental health diseases. Why is there a stigma if depressive disorders are so common? Maybe people think patients diagnosed with depression are being “dramatic” or are simply trying to get out of certain obligations by emphasizing their symptoms of depression. The author also states “50-80% [of patients with a depressive disorder] go unrecognized or misdiagnosed” (Dziegielewski 243). That is terrifying and is probably at least partially because the “symptoms of depression…[are] often one of the most ambiguous to define” (Dziegielewski 243). How is “disabled” in terms of the mental health field defined? If you have “clinically depressed mood,” does that automatically categorize you as disabled? How was the statistic on undetected depression in primary care found? How is undetected depression detected? Was it diagnosed and determined that it had a much earlier onset and thus went undetected for some time?

            The author mentions culture on page 244 in terms of depression in White Americans versus African Americans. Generally, White Americans face less stigma and are more open to treatment for mental health diseases. Alternatively, African Americans may simply not have the same accessibility to mental health treatment. Also, females are diagnosed with depression at a rate twice as high as men’s rate of depression diagnoses. Multiple sources have found and stated that this doesn’t mean more women than men are depressed but that women are much more likely to report depression. Women do not face shame when displaying/talking about their emotions. Alternatively, men have a higher rate of completed suicide, although women have a higher rate of suicide attempts because men are more likely to attempt suicide in a more violent form, such as the use of a gun, while women are more likely to take a more passive route such as medication overdose. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Week 1 Reflection

Mood Disorders
            James Morrison’s chapter on Mood Disorders in DSM-5 Made Easy: The Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis, gives insight into the complexity and still relative lack of uncertainty when it comes to diagnosing mood disorders. While reading the first two/thirds of this section on the DSM-5, which supposedly makes it easy to understand, one comment continuously entered my mind: “Confusing!” If this is an “easy” explanation of the DSM-5, I would hate to try to interpret the original source.
            Many of the diagnoses mentioned in this section have an optional “other” category known as “unspecified.” This essentially allows a clinician to make a diagnosis for some type of mood disorder that is evident in a patient but does not meet the very specific criteria for a pre-determined diagnosis. I see both a benefit and a drawback to the incredibly specific diagnosis criteria: the benefit being that it limits/restricts diagnosticians from making a possibly significant and/or life-altering diagnosis without substantial evidence; the limit to the highly specific criteria for making a diagnosis when it comes to things like mood disorders is that these experiences can be highly subjective and even abstract or vague. So, these diagnosis criterions prevent unnecessary and possibly detrimental diagnoses from being made but also essentially attempt to create very concrete, objective, and empirical requirements for a medical condition that is highly subjective.
            Morrison includes some language, specifically on pages 119 and 122 that seems demeaning to the patients he describes with words like “outrageous” and the observation “they are so distractible.” I’m sure (or at least hope) that Morrison’s intention in writing this guide was to make the world of mental health more accessible, but by including such language in his work, he only contributes to the harsh, negative stigma the world of mental health cannot seem to shake.

            Morrison also reminds the reader that each edition of the DSM includes significant changes to its previous edition. Morrison highlights this point on page 143 under his description of cyclothymic disorder, stating “Note that this is a change from DSM-IV, which allowed a diagnosis of a bipolar disorder along with cyclothymic disorder.” Because the DSM changes fairly frequently and those changes are significant, it is apparent that mental health is still quite the enigma, even to experts in the field.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

     Long story short, I am taking a one credit hour independent study course this semester. The best part about it? I get to basically choose what I study/read/discuss with the professor who is overseeing the "course." It's pretty awesome. I am extremely lucky that I found a professor willing to support me in this endeavor and increase my knowledge about depression (that's basically what the "course" is about).

     Basically, I read scholarly articles, books, etc. each week and then write a short reflection on what I read and then meet with the professor and discuss the reflection with him. He initially suggested that I might want to start a blog to include my reflections. Well, my friends, as you can see, I already have a blog established that focuses on my journey with depression, so, is it okay with you if I post my reflections here? Will you read them? Would you want to???

     PLEASE!!!!! comment either here or on my Facebook or Twitter accounts (@dionerin), or send me a text, or email letting me know if y'all would be okay with this because I only want to share my reflections if you want to read them. Maybe this is too "academic"? Let me know what you think! <3

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Out of the Darkness

Two friends of mine have committed suicide. I do not want that number to become any bigger. Please help me memorialize my friends and prevent the deaths of others by supporting my involvement in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk in Dallas on October 28. Please let me know if you would like to join me!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

It’s Getting (A Little) Political [Up In Here, Up In Here]

Here’s the song to go along with this post to add a little fun:

This post is not in any way meant to be controversial or to try to change your beliefs; it is meant to encourage you to consider the power you wield as a US Citizen and to make you aware of one of the many things you can do with that power.

The city of Carrollton, TX is currently in a run-off for the mayoral election. The run-off is between Kevin Falconer and Steve Babick. Here is some info:

If you are a citizen of Carrollton, I strongly urge you to take the 30 seconds – 2 minutes to vote in this election. I also encourage you to do a bit of research before casting your vote.

I am disappointed in the Texas Democratic Party because they sent out two emails regarding run-off elections and they either did not mention Carrollton or simply stated that the former mayoral candidate who identified as a Democrat did not make the run-off but did not in any way encourage voters to participate in the run-off election. 

I get it. Your candidate didn’t win. That sucks. That doesn’t mean you throw in the towel. You see who the next best option is and whether that individual might be open to some of the concerns and/or ideas you have. Never. Stop. Fighting. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Never Say Never

I generally have a song or melody playing constantly in my head, and as I have been playing with various ideas to write blog posts about, I have found that a lot of them have a song that can easily be related. So, for this post, I give you The Fray’s “Never Say Never” I’m even listening to the song now J

My default song is Vivaldi’s Sonata No. 5, the Allegro Movement. I had the distinct pleasure of memorizing this song (I HATE memorizing anything – my brain just doesn’t work that way) and performing it in either seventh or eighth grade. I still remember the notes and fingerings, so I also find myself often “playing” the song on a desk, tabletop, arm, etc.

ANYWAYS, the POINT of this post. You really never know where life is going to take you. I know, kind of a cliché, but it really is true, or at least it has been for me. I planned to graduate from UC Berkeley in 3 ½ years and do a semester abroad in Paris during that 3 ½ years. I had it all planned out. No, I literally knew what courses I was going to take every semester for all 3 ½ years during my first (and really, only) semester there.

Well, I think we all know that didn’t work out.

Instead, I just completed my first semester at UT Dallas. Yay! I made it through a semester! I actually COMPLETED two classes! For me, this is a big deal.

Even more surprising than the fact that I’m excited about completing a semester as a part-time student at UTD is the fact that I’m working towards obtaining an Associate’s Degree. If you had told me anytime prior to February 2011 that I would be getting an Associate’s Degree, I would have laughed so hard I would probably have ended up accidentally spitting in your face.

But that’s where I am. I actually have more than 60 credit hours (the requirement for an Associate’s), but, of course, there is one class that is part of the Texas Core Curriculum that I have put off…until now. I will take the second semester of Government through Brookhaven online this summer. Once I have completed that class, I (should) have completed all the courses/earned all the credit necessary to earn an Associate’s in Science Degree.

My psychiatrist has been suggesting for awhile that I look into getting an Associate’s. He knows that I have quite a bit of credit mainly in thanks to AP Tests and that I frequently get into places, for various reasons, where I cannot be in school. My psychiatrist first suggested this awhile ago, like over a year ago awhile ago, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I really considered following through on this idea. Why not have SOMETHING to show for all the work I have done for the past 7-ish years? An Associate’s Degree is a degree. Maybe it will even look pretty…

Thankfully, I found an advisor at Brookhaven, who I actually trust; he’s a former teacher from my high school. I just so happened to get assigned to him the first day I went to Brookhaven’s advising center, and when he called me over he said: “your name sounds familiar.” I never had him as a teacher, but my younger sister did have some interaction with him. I explained that I went to Turner and that my younger sister was in his program before she transferred to the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at UNT. He immediately put the pieces together and seemed kind of perplexed as to why I was there. I gave the brief version of my situation and he got to work figuring out how to get me a degree in the least painful way. Since I never thought I would try to get an Associate’s Degree, I never had my AP Scores sent to Brookhaven, so a lot of the required courses that I had credit for because of my AP Scores were not in their system. And because of bureaucracy (isn’t it a wonderful thing?), the school won’t process my AP Scores (that they have now officially received) until I’m a few weeks into the summer course. The advisor I have been working with has looked over my AP Scores and helped me figure out what classes they will count for, and based on our “calculations,” which were verified by some person above him, once I get this second semester of government (which I also need for a Bachelor’s degree at any Texas public college), I will have completed all requirements for an Associate’s in Science. J

Never did I think I would be kind of excited about getting an Associate’s, but here I am. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Dangers of a Used Book Sale

I intended to publish this post this past Thursday, 4/6, so y'all would also know about this book sale, but that didn’t happen. At the moment, I can’t remember why. Anyways….

The Friends of the Carrollton Library had a used book sale this past Friday and Saturday beginning at 10 am.

I was looking forward to this.

I had my annual appointment with my optometrist scheduled for 9 am Friday and planned to head to the book sale immediately after. My appointment didn’t take long, due in part to the fact that I take Klonopin daily, so my pupils were already dilated.

I arrived at the library to find a pretty long line already formed. It was around 9:40 am.

At 10 am, we were allowed to enter and it was similar to what I imagine a sample sale for a "hot" clothes designer would be like (i.e. mayhem).

Lots of people. Small room. Lots of books.

Thursday night, I prepared this spreadsheet based on my “Want to Read” list on Good Reads:

This is what I actually purchased:

(Nothing from my spreadsheet)

I got all of these for $31, though!

One pile contains books that I have already read but either don’t own my own copy or felt like a second copy would benefit me at some point (e.g. letting someone borrow it).

Another pile contains two books that will hopefully help me in my continuing college career. (nice alliteration Erin!)

Another pile has (two) books that I’ve heard of and want to read.

Another pile contains a couple of books with ideas for science experiments for high school science teachers I am either related to or friends with.

A few poetry books because Cheryl Strayed recommended in her book, Dear Sugar, that 20-somethings should get 10 books of poetry and read them over and over to help expose their mind to the world (or something like that).

Another pile contains a couple of books that will hopefully further enlighten me on the complexities of my mental health. 

Finally, I found a third edition copy of Campbell’s Biology. When I took AP Bio in 2008-2009, we used the sixth edition. I think the most recent edition is the 10th. There are some fundamental things regarding DNA and cells that haven’t changed since the early ‘90s (when the third edition was published) that I would like to brush up on for my new research position.

I would say it was a success!

What did I learn? Don’t let me go to a used book sale if there is a specific book or books you or I want.

If you would like more information about the Friends of the Carrollton Library, please click on this link:

I'm actually considering joining this organization...

Note: Thanks to @jessisreading (on Twitter), I discovered the word, tsundoku. I'm definitely familiar with this affliction.

OMG I managed to put a moving picture thing on my blog!!!! (I think it's called a GIF...)

Note: I used this handy website to ensure I used i.e. and e.g. properly. Hopefully I got it right.

Note: I caved and utilized Grammarly on this post. Do y'all notice any major improvements?