New Research on Weight Loss

Yes, I am still eating healthy.

But, I came across this article today about new research on weight loss and obesity. It’s very interesting, and points to future medical treatments for weight loss. Give it a look!

What I Learned in High School

It’s been a while since I’ve been in high school, but I still use things I learned in high school every day. I went to a school for teen parents, and we had regular core classes along with parenting classes. I also took nutrition. In fact, I took four whole years of nutrition. That’s how I know I got my day’s worth of fruits today at lunch. This is three servings of fruit.

When Having a Disability Means You Can’t Work

Right now, my doctor doesn’t want me working. I’m simply not ready, and I have to come to terms with the fact that I may never be ready.

I have a very good friend who has bipolar disorder. He is also on disability, and we recently discussed working. He was feeling like he should work, but was unsure about whether he could handle it.

He’s been stable for a few years, and here’s the conclusion we came to: He remains stable by (1) taking meds, (2) going to counseling, and (3) maintaining a therapeutic lifestyle 24/7.

We concluded that, without any one of these, he would probably go back to the hospital.

It’s the same for me.

I continually do things that are therapeutic—whether it’s participating in poetry, painting, writing, reading, photography, walking, and so forth. I maintain a therapeutic environment for myself 24/7, under the advisement of my doctor.

It’s only been a year since I have been in the hospital, and just under a year that I’ve been on my current medication. That’s far too early to tell whether my medications will prevent me from having a psychotic break if I should try working. I have, in the past, had a psychotic break every six months to a year. I still vividly remember my last break, and I don’t want it to happen again.

Keep in mind that I was given a poor prognosis. The very first psychiatrist I saw told me I should expect to lose a lot of cognitive functioning. I’m lucky to have not lost as much as they thought. I chalk it up to having good care, and fighting like hell.

But I still struggle with not working. The feeling of not working for a living.

If you browse around my website, you will see that, from an early age, I have been involved in many things, and have been very career oriented. For a person like me, not working is devastating.

This is true even though I have doctors’ orders.

I know I have a legitimate disability. There’s no doubt about it. I have had serious psychotic breaks. I am trying, each day, to maintain my health, above all else. I don’t like becoming psychotic, and it’s not like my medicine is so magical that it will, with 100% efficacy, prevent a psychotic break.

They know that, for example, stress can exacerbate psychiatric symptoms. So, I try to limit my stress, and engage in stress-reducing activities, like practicing mindfulness.

Currently, I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot work—my doctors says so, even—and that I may never be able to work again.

For me, coming to terms with this myself is one thing; a big thing. Realizing this is but one step in coming to terms with my condition and lot in life.

But the even bigger thing is having regular people understand this. When people meet me—when I am out in public—they may not know I have a mental illness. (Unless I am symptomatic. In that case, I may be in my pajamas in public, or looking a huge mess.) I have an “invisible disability.” Not to mention, many people still have stigmas about mental illness, making them think a mental illness is not a real illness just because you can’t really see it.

So making other people understand that I may not be able to work—and that I may be on SSI (and poor)—for the rest of my life is difficult. But it’s something that’s important.

I hope that, if you are reading this, you will not judge people who have to be on disability and who cannot work due to disability. There’s a segment of society that makes people feel like it’s not a legitimate option. This often stems from conservatives who tout the notion that people exploit the safety net system. For so-called Christians (as most of them allege they are), they are highly skeptical and not especially loving when it comes to caring for the wretched of the Earth. (WWJD?)

In my experience, it’s very difficult to get disability. It wouldn’t be easy to fake it. I had to be hospitalized eight times and given a poor prognosis from several doctors before I was given SSI. I was suffering, and denied SSI (and, thus, healthcare) for several years. The whole process is insult to injury. And then you end up living in poverty, anyway.

But my whole point is that each of us can make a difference. We can change things so that people like me, who have to be on disability, do not have to constantly feel like we have to justify this to people who have no business prodding for our medical information.

The fact is, I have tried working several times. Everyone who knows me knows I didn’t want to go on SSI. I wanted to work. Take a look around my website—I like professional accomplishments. But I had to go on SSI because I simply could not work.

Let’s try to make things easier for people who are already suffering enough.

The Appearance of Health

As readers know, I recently had my yearly physical. The only thing that was off was that my lung capacity wasn’t as good as it could be. That’s because I was smoking. I have since quit smoking. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, drop me a comment here. I tried several different ways before I could finally quit. And several people I know have recently quit or are quitting.

I may look healthy, but looks can be deceiving. That’s why it’s so important to get a physical and get all of those tests done. That way you know for sure if you have high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or something else. Several people I know have been diagnosed with different things, so I thought it was important to take my physical seriously, and then take precautions for my health.

I’m lucky. I naturally like healthy food. When I say I’m losing weight, it’s not just a matter of counting calories. A calorie is not a calorie, as it were. It matters where your calories come from. That’s why it’s important to get your fruits, vegetables, and so on. These things can make a difference. So, too, does avoiding the wrong things.

When someone who looks overweight asks me about how they look, I simply tell them I care about their health. You can look overweight and be internally healthy. Likewise, you can look skinny and be an internal mess. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this article. It is but one that I have read on the subject.

How We Treat Mental Illness

I read an article recently about the current method of treating mental illness, which was referred to as “the shotgun approach.” Basically, when you have a mental illness, they try different medications on you until they find one which works (hopefully). They do this even though the medications used to treat, say, bipolar or schizophrenia work in different ways.

In schizophrenia, at least, the current theory is that there may be different underlying causes for the same symptoms. So, the reason I have schizophrenia may be different than the reason someone else has schizophrenia. The underlying issues with the brain, or past trauma, or environmental factors, may all be different. That’s why Abilify may work for me, but not for someone else. And that’s the reason why other medications I have tried, which react in the brain differently than Abilify, have not worked for me.

So, people with schizophrenia may present with similar symptoms, such as hearing voices, paranoia, and so on, but the reason they have these symptoms may be completely different.

For me, it’s really hard to tell why I have schizophrenia, with the exception of looking at the drug Abilify and seeing how it works in the brain. Of course, there may be environmental factors at play with me that triggered things (it wasn’t easy being a teen mom, for example, and conservatives, who kept telling me how I was going to Hell or cutting funding for my high school, didn’t help), but there may just be something organically different in my brain. (Not structurally, though. I’ve had CAT scans.)

There are genetic and other tests they use for people who do not respond to medications which can give doctors more insight as to why someone has a certain disease, but these are not readily available. In my opinion, they should be. Too often, as in my case, several years are wasted trying different medications to no avail. Often, it takes years to find the right medicine. That’s wasted years for many people—when they could be productive years…if they had the right medication.

That was the point of the article: there must be some way to get people the correct treatment much sooner than what is currently happening. I know, in my case, it would have been helpful to have the right medication much sooner. I may have been able to keep working, or, at least, finish some projects I was working on. At any rate, I would have more sooner been able to enjoy a Spring day like today.

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New Health Gear

I’ve been reading a lot at PubMed recently, and had a chat with my doctor. My doctor suggested I take a multivitamin with vitamin D in it because, as I was told, we do not get vitamin D from the sun. They used to think that, but it was disproved. However, you need the sun in order to process vitamin D. So, I started taking a multivitamin.

Looking for a sugar free drink (and a sugar substitute free drink, which can be just as bad), I looked up the pros and cons of different drinks. I decided on green tea, which has become a staple for me.

I’ve cut a lot of the added sugar from my diet after finding out just how much sugar is in the average American diet. (Not good.) So, I bought myself some All Bran to eat for my breakfasts, which has less sugar than most cereals. (Check the ingredients to see where sugar is listed.)

I also decided to start taking a probiotic. This is for several reasons, but one of them is because there’s research that says the gut bacteria in people with schizophrenia is imbalanced. Not sure why that is, and antipsychotics can cause it, too, but one theory is that schizophrenia is an autoimmune disease.

I’m also joining the gym. I look forward to that. I’ve been in shape most of my life, but got out of shape–and in poorer health–over the past few years. Being on antipsychotics–and in and out of the hospital–will do that to a person. My goal is to get in better health. I’ve read, too, that diet and exercise can help schizophrenia like it does so many things.

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Watching My Weight

After my physical that I wrote about, I decided to head off any unwanted conditions by changing a few things about my lifestyle. I’m aiming to lose a little bit of weight, not necessarily for vanity, but for my health. So I changed some of my eating habits. I cut my portion sizes by half, and added more fruits and vegetables to my diet. I have lost 8 pounds so far, and plan to lose ten more. It’s difficult. The first day, I felt like I was starving. But I’m determined. Like anyone, there’s a history of various health problems in my family. I don’t want to have to deal with those, many of which are preventable. So, I decided to make the change.

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