At age 22 I was just getting a formal diagnosis of major depressive disorder. In retrospect, I realize that I experienced my first depressive episode when I was 19 but it was not until age 22, that my ability to function completely broke down. Over the next two years, I became increasingly isolated while a pain that I can only describe as what I imagined it would feel like to be outside in a hail storm with no skin pervaded my entire being. My ability to envision a future ceased and then slowly, slowly entered those early suicidal thoughts. The idea that death would be a relief (from all this pain) became a common refrain.
The news of Karyn Washington’s death graced my inbox 3 days ago when a dear friend and fellow social media maven forwarded a link to an article sharing the tragic news. I felt a pang of despair and pondered over this loss. I did not know the ForBrownGirls.com and #DarkGirlsRedLip project founder and was scarcely familiar with her wonderful work. Nevertheless, the fact that this generous and creative young spirit decided to take her own life was clearly a tragedy. Here is yet another opportunity to implore Black women…to implore all women of color to speak up and speak out about their battles with mood disorders and other mental illnesses.
Here’s a little background. For the past two months, Mia has been living far away from her home. She’s is staying with a former roommate and paying him rent on a weekly basis. Sadly, she made no provisions with her doctors before leaving town to have extra prescriptions so that she could refill them once she finished off the first bottle. We had been playing phone tag and this message began very casually but you can quickly see that she has fallen into a crisis by the end of her message. Mia has become more and more decompensated so that the simplest of task, such as looking up a telephone number have become overwhelming to her. She can’t remember any coping skills because she’s been without group or individual therapy for over two months (some though not all of this is through no fault of her own) and without medicine (which she only takes sporadically anyway) for nearly a month and one half. Why doesn’t Mia want to go to the hospital? In all honesty, on this day, Mia doesn’t really have the ability to make a rational decision.
GOT THE BLUES? OR IS IT DEPRESSION? Ever feel like you are the only one who is sad in a world of happy people? Everyone experiences stress, sadness and anxiety from time to time – it’s part of life. These feelings often happen when you a lose a job, children move away from home, during divorce, with a death in the family, or during retirement. But when changes in mood and behavior interfere with your ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities, it could be a sign of depression.
First Friday in First Person. Asthma, which affects about 20 million people throughout the world is defined by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as a common chronic disorder of the airways that is complex and characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (or bronchospasm), and an underlying inflammation. There have been a number of success stories in the management of asthma, such as Olympic champions Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Dara Torres whose stories are highlighted as a part of the Asthma All-Stars, an innovative campaign by the Breathe Easy Play Hard Foundation. Yet, the fact remains that it is becoming more and more common. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its prevalence in US children has increased from 3.6% in 1980 to 9% in 2001, driving families on repeated trips to the emergency room while sufferers in the crisis of an asthma attack, struggle to breathe. Recently, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with Melissa, a blogging mother who has two special needs children. For this month’s personal look inside disease, I’d like to share an experience she and her daughter had with a drug her daughter, Ava was taking to treat her asthma. It not only demonstrates some of the challenges of managing asthma but the type of proactive, informed advocacy that ensures the best care for patients.