Friday, February 24, 2017

Grief - A Healing Process to Move Forward

"Disenfranchised grief"the pain of a significant loss that is not openly acknowledged or socially supported.

No one can understood how to grieve for his or her losses that other don’t understand or that possibly you yourself don’t understand.

Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, a professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle in New York, who created the term in 1985, said, “disenfranchised grief could be produced from any number of conditions.”

Throughout my life, I suffered from many losses (loss of innocence, virginity, unborn child, loss of giving life, loss of family, 1st marriage, trust in men, loss of mind to Bipolar Disorder, loss of back to car accident, loss of friends, aunt, loss of ½ of life when I turned 50, loss of grandma, loss of adolescence, loss of trust, security, loss of 25 years of writing and so much more)

I’d like to share my meditation healing process with you. Close your eyes and use your imagination.

Casually strolling through a fragrant meadow the forest up head calls to me. Mother Nature speaks in my mind that she will guide me to my healing place. I walk toward the inviting forest. With me, I carefully carry my “griefs”; reverently and with solitude. The temperature drops as I cross from bright sunlight to only dappled light filtered by the treetops.

Seriousness replaces my playful interest in my surroundings. I begin the healing ceremony to give those “griefs” held in my mind and heart for so long a new home.

Many of the “griefs” I carry have been with me nearly my entire life. Mother Nature tells me it’s time to let them go.

I’m not exactly sure where I am going; only knowing that when I get there I will know it is the right place. Then, I spot the spongy moss and fragrant. Here the earth is soft and pliable.

With only my hands for tools, I dig a hole large enough to lie into it. The ground is cool, a bit damp, and I smell the rich moist soil.
While lying in the hole, my receptacle, I think about each grief I hold in my mind and heart. I talk to each one, telling them I have found a new home for them.

I feel each grief as it passes from my body into Mother Earth’s cradle. There is no moaning, no keening, just a kind of simple release. As each grief surfaces in my mind, passes through my body and rests within Mother Earth’s body, lightness, a feeling or sense of closure told me the grief had left my body and found safety in Mother Earth’s arms.

The healing process transcended time. Some “griefs”, reluctant to leave, required a bit of gentle coaching and loving reassurance that it was time for them to move on, time for me to move on.

Finally, my mind and heart, my vessel emptied. The healing process too quite some time, however not arduous. Slow and gentle – for my “griefs” and for me.

Slowly I pick my self up and step out of Mother Earth’s cradle. I brush off soil and some dried leaves. Looking down at the hole I dug in the ground, Refreshed, motivated, inspired. Eager to leave the darkening forest and return to the warm, sunny meadow, I kneel, give the earth a soft caress and stand.

My “griefs” and I had come to terms. I had been their home for so many years; kept them from harm. They in turn kept me from moving on at times. So, now, they can rest easy in Mother Earth, knowing I’m still safe, but I will now be moving forward with grace, faith, and perseverance. I’ll always remember my “griefs.” But, that’s what they’ll remain now – a memory, no longer a deterrent.

With quickening steps, I head back toward the light I see ahead of me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mental Health Series: Dopamine Agonists and Compulsive Disorders – Not a Good Mix

I have several compulsive disorders: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Binge Eating Disorder, and Compulsive Shopping. My other disorders include Bipolar Disorder 1, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and more. Although, of the three compulsive disorders, Compulsive Shopping hasn’t been given an actual Mental Illness disorder designation, it is heading in that direction.

I remember back in 2008 when I realized I had a problem. I spent over $5,000.00 in one month. Most everything I bought was for my new granddaughter, but it wasn’t necessary or required. I just went in the stores, went to my happy place, and resurfaced as I left the store, wondering how I could have spent so much and why did I have so many packages and bags?

A blog post, Compulsive Shopping Symptoms and Secrets sums up the emotional aspects of why we shop:

                Compulsive shopaholics who shop when they are feeling emotional distress
                Trophy shopaholics who are always shopping for the perfect item
                Shopaholics who want the image of being a big spender and love flashy items
                Bargain seekers who purchase items they don’t need because they are on sale
                Bulimic shoppers who get caught in a vicious cycle of buying and returning
                Collectors who don’t feel complete unless they have one item in each color or every piece of a set.
                When they are feeling “out of sorts, shop for a ” pick-me-up.”

The blog posts goes on to identify some of the emotional symptoms identifying compulsive shopping:

                Spending more than they can afford
                Shopping as a reaction to feeling angry or depressed
                Shopping as a way to feel less guilty about a previous shopping spree
                Harming relationships due to spending or shopping too much
                Losing control of the shopping behavior

Fast forward to this year, 2016. I have attempted to keep my compulsive shopping in check, although I still had my moments. However, this year, it went over the top out of control. My husband I moved an hour north of where we used to live in Tampa, FL, to an airport community. It was beautiful and so serene, calming, and relaxing. Everyone had the same interest; nearly every home had a hanger with a plane or three. The runway went right down the middle of the community with our roads as taxiways. I’ve developed five gardens so far in the back yard, and we have visitors such as deer, turkeys, Sand Hill Cranes, Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, rabbits, and more.

We did have to spend quite a bit of money getting the house prepared to move in as it was a foreclosure that sat empty for five years. It needed everything from air conditioning units; to appliances; to a septic tank lift station, to a hanger door. And so much more, this post could turn into a laundry list of repairs.

It took a LOT of money.

So, my husband’s idea was to put us on a budget to repay all the expenses incurred, as well as provide various categories for future spending with limits for each month.  It was something I just couldn’t grasp. I tried, every month, every week, every day, but I still was spending my budget in the first week, and moving money around to compensate for the rest of the month’s shopping sprees.

It even got to the point that one weekend, my husband wanted to Baker Act me into a psychiatric hospital to see if something seriously drastic could be done. Even if it just kept me from spending for a few days. It was a last ditch effort to stop my compulsive shopping and a way to save my husband’s own sanity.

Instead we had a very long, heart to heart talk about my feelings of being controlled by him and the budget, my feelings of not being worthy as I am a disabled Veteran and am unable to work outside of the home. What my purpose in life versus what my husband’s idea of my life purpose differed. I wanted to contribute more money to our income, but my husband felt that my mental health was more important, and I didn’t need to work, he’d rather I didn’t, and he preferred that I take care of the house, the pets, the gardens, and relax.

I just couldn’t do that.

So, he accompanied me to my next Therapist appointment and we talked to him and asked him to help. And, he has, but I got even more help from my psychiatrist today. I told him about the compulsive shopping and he immediately focused on dopamine agonists. It was first prescribed at the end of February 2016 for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS.)

It has been discovered to have a very nasty side effect. It increases and causes compulsive activities.

Dopamine agonists were first released to the public in 1997. An ABC News article titled Strange Side Effects Surprise Patients, published July 15, 2008, stated the following:

Dopamine agonists, which mimic the brain chemical known as dopamine.

Dopamine works in the brain's movement and coordination centers, and it is also involved in the brain's pleasure response by reinforcing behaviors that provide enjoyment -- including drinking, drugs, sex and gambling.

The article went on to say that the makers of these dopamine agonists have been putting warnings in their medication documentation, but did not realize that it had gotten this out of hand, as stated in the ABC News article:

Scientists have recently begun to quantify the behavioral changes associated with dopamine agonist drugs. In a study presented in late June at the International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders conference in Chicago, more than 13 percent of 3,090 Parkinson's patients had a problem with compulsive gambling, buying, sex or binge-eating.

People who were taking dopamine agonists had a two- to three-times greater chance of having one of the four impulse-control disorders.

A two to three chance? How about those who already have compulsive disorders? I can attest the chance of affliction is much higher and the effects are so much stronger.

What are dopamine agonists? 

There are two commonly prescribed oral dopamine agonists in the United States:
  • Apomorphine, a subcutaneously administered dopamine agonist, was approved for use in the United States in 2004. The dopamine agonists differ in several respects, including
    • chemical structure
    • duration of action
    • side effects

  • Bromocriptine and the recently withdrawn pergolide are ergot derivatives and may rarely cause retroperitoneal, pulmonary, and pericardial fibrosis, and cardiac valvulopathies. Pramipexole and ropinirole have half-lives 6-12 hours and are therefore taken 2-3 times daily.
  • Pramipexole and ropinirole 
  • Pramipexole and ropinirole are not ergot compounds. Large clinical trials comparing these medications to levodopa showed that they can be used in early Parkinson's disease and reduce the severity of symptoms. Over the years, differences in the effects of the dopamine agonists have emerged. One side effect is daytime sleepiness and "sleep attacks." Although this may occur with all of the dopamine agonists (and levodopa), it was first appreciated in people treated with pramipexole.

  • Apomorphine 
  • Apomorphineis indicated in patients who experience "off states"refractory to modifications of oral medications such as increasing the dose or frequency of dopaminergic medications or introducting a COMT inhibitor. It has a rapid onset of action, usually within 10-20 minutes but the duration of action is short, lasting for only about an hour. Apomorphine is only available from specialty pharmacies. Because nausea occurs in the vast majority of patients, pretreatment with trimethobenzamide (Tygan®) is required. Initial titration and observation for side effects (syncope, hypotension) must occur in the physician's office.

In January 2014, the website wrote an article that provides some helpful information about what to do if you’ve been taking dopamine agonists.

If you’re a patient taking a dopamine agonist, the options are unfortunately limited. It’s worth noting that the incidence of these side effects is quite low, but there is still a chance you’ll develop them. If you’re experiencing symptoms of compulsive behavior after starting on a dopamine agonist, the best thing to do is to contact your doctor about it as soon as possible. Compulsive gambling, sex and shopping all have the potential to financially ruin patients or obliterate romantic relationships, so the importance of reducing their impact can’t be overstated. In the event of negative consequences, your physician may be able to suggest an alternative treatment. Do what you can to better your health!

As for my mental health, my psychiatrist took me off the medication immediately. I am now taking supplements to treat my Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Potassium and Magnesium. It will take approximately two weeks for the effects of the drug to leave my system.

I no longer have this dark cloud hovering over me, questioning every purchase or thought of purchase. I have a better future to look forward to with my husband and our plan to get out of debt.

Have a blessed and happy day.