Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Holiday Quizes :-)

You Are Cider

Your holiday personality is cozy.

The holidays are your favorite time to stay home, stay warm, and spend time with those you love.

You don't need a lot to make you happy over the holidays.

Seeing an old relative or favorite holiday film is enough to make your day.
What Holiday Drink Are You?

You Are Flannel Pajamas

You seek comfort above everything else. You rather feel good than look good.

You are a very relaxed person, especially when you're surrounded by your favorite things and people.

You are a homebody. Home is the place where you can truly be yourself.

You are likely to wear pajamas a lot. In fact, you often change into your pj's the minute you get home!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Retake on a Christmas Classic

"My Charlie Brown Christmas"
Featuring original writing and voice talent from
cast members of the show [Scrubs]

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Book Worth Having: Beyond Morning Sickness

The book is entitled, "Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemsis Gravidarum" and is written by Ashli McCall. During Ashli's four pregnancies, she experienced Hyperemsis Gravidarum, a rare disorder characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, which lead to hospitalizations for dehydration, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and excess weight loss as well as just plain misery. During Ashli's first pregnancy, her physicians gave her little information or hope on the treatment options available for HG; with some physicians outright insensitive to the condition, while others were apologetic, unable to offer her relief. As a disease it was under-studied, poorly understood, and fraught with the myths of years of misinformation and misunderstanding from the medical profession. Feeling abondoned, very sick, and her health in jepordy, at four months, she gave in to the advice of her doctor and relatives, ending the very much wanted pregnancy. Here is her story, from an interview on CNN:

The lack of information and support for women with HG in the medical community has had an impact on Ashli and and now she seeks to educate, inform, and support other women who find themselves facing this debilitating illness. More on Ashli's book as well as a support forum for mothers facing HG can be found at her website Beyond Morning

Monday, December 15, 2008

Question Reply: Infection Following an Abortion

This is in response to a visitor who came to Christina's blog searching, "I've got an infection from abortion. Can I die?" Things have turned into a heated debate over there, so I figure I'd post my reply here.

I strongly recommend going to see a doctor and get checked out, if you haven't already. If you don't feel comfortable returning to the same clinic, you can seek the follow-up care through your community's public health clinic, your regular gynecologist, or your primary care provider. The health care provider will probably preform an ultrasound and pelvic exam to ensure your abortion is complete and draw some blood because your white blood cell count can tell them whether your body is reacting to an infection. You may then receive a week or two supply of antibiotics. Sometimes the cause of infection is an incomplete abortion and a woman will need to have a repeat vacuum aspiration to remove remains of the pregnancy. However, if you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, please don't wait until your 2 week follow-up and immediately go to your local hospital emergency department, as these could be signs of a potentially serious complication:
  • Fever (more than 100.4°F) and chills.
  • Severe persistent pain or cramps not relieved by pain relivers (ibuprofen or naproxen), rest, or a heating pad.
  • Vomiting for more than four to six hours and you are not able to keep anything down
  • Prolonged or heavy bleeding, soaking through more than 4-5 pads per hour or more than 12 pads in 24 hours.
  • An unpleasant, foul-smelling, and/or abnormal cottage-cheese-like or foamy green, yellow, or grey discharge from your vagina
Regardless of the severity of your infection, the sooner you start treatment, the better the outcome.

E-Medicine Health: Elective Abortion Follow-Up, an article by Suzanne R Trupin, MD

E-Medicine: Abortion Complications, an article by Slava V Gaufberg, MD, FACEP
Aftercare and clinical indications of complications to look out for following an induced abortion. A non-political professional medical website.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Abortion and Subsequent Mental Health

In August, the American Psychological Association released a news report, which concludes abortion causes no mental health problems despite recent research proving otherwise (see documentation below). While the American Psychological Assocation refutes the fact that PASS exists, I believe that PASS exists and it can affect women in many ways, I want it to be recognised so that women can get the treatment, help and support that they deserve.  Refuting the previously released report of the APA, a new study shows a direct link between abortion and subsequent mental health problems.

Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables," they wrote. "Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders," they concluded.
Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, led the research team that conducted the study.
Together with Catherine Coyle of Edgewood College, researcher Martha Shuping and psychologist Dr. Vincent Rue, they published their results online today at the Journal of Psychiatric Research, a well-established and respected journal.
The researchers found women who had abortions, compared with those who didn't had a 120% risk for alcohol abuse, with or without dependence, a 145% increased risk of alcohol dependence, 79% increased risk of drug abuse with or without dependence and a 126% increase in the risk of drug dependence.
For mood disorders, the experience of an abortion increased risk of developing bipolar disorder by 167%, major depression without hierarchy by 45% and major depression with hierarchy by 48%.
For anxiety disorders, there was a 111% increased risk for panic disorders, 44% increased risk for panic attacks, 59% increased risk for PTSD, 95% increased risk for agoraphobia with or without panic disorder and a 93% increased risk for agoraphobia without panic disorder.
There was no mental health outcome showing abortion to have decreased the risk or a high risk for women who did not have an abortion.

The following are additional studies, from within the last 10 years, which have found a connection between abortion and subsequent mental health issues.
The Norwegian study, conducted by Dr. Willy Pedersen, was recently published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.
The authors make the link clear in the conclusion of the abstract: "Young adult women who undergo induced abortion may be at increased risk for subsequent depression."
The Norwegian researchers studied 5,768 women between the ages of 15 and 27 years and asked then questions concerning abortion and childbirth as well as family relationships and a number of individual characteristics, such as schooling and occupational history and conduct problems.
The results showed, "Young women who reported having had an abortion in their twenties were more likely to score above the cut-off point for depression."

study earlier this month in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found 30 percent of women who purchase the abortion drug mifepristone on the Internet experience depression and negative feelings accompanying the abortion.
The most prominent study of abortion's link to mental health issues comes from New Zealand.

The New Zealand study found that having an abortion as a young woman raises the risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Some 42 percent of the women who had abortions had experienced major depression within the last four years. That's almost double the rate of women who never became pregnant. The risk of anxiety disorders also doubled.
According to the study, women who have abortions were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be addicted to illegal drugs.
David Fergusson, an abortion advocate who led the study, said the results show access to legal abortions is not necessarily good for women. He also said the study confirms abortions cause women mental health issues -- rather than alleviating them as abortion advocates claim.

"Abortion and Depression: A population-based longitudinal study of young women."
Willy Pedersen
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 2008
The "Young in Norway" longitudinal study, which surveyed students in Norway four times from 1992 through 2005.
There was no correlation between teenage abortion and subsequent depression, after controlling for such factors as family stability and socioeconomic status. Women who had abortions in their 20s did have increased rates of depression.

"Resolution of Unwanted Pregnancy During Adolescence Through Abortion Versus Childbirth: Individual and Family Predictors and Psychological Consequences"
Priscilla K. Coleman
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2006
National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which interviewed thousands of U.S. middle- and high-school students in 1995 and again in 1996.
Adolescents who had abortions were significantly more likely than those who gave birth to seek psychological counseling, have trouble sleeping and report frequent marijuana use.
The study relied on the adolescents to self-report their pregnancy history and only 65 reported an abortion. It was not possible to control for all factors. For instance, perhaps adolescents involved in abusive relationships were more likely to seek abortions; if so, it could be the fear of violence, not the abortion, that caused insomnia and drug use.

"Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health"
David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, and Elizabeth M. Ridder
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2006
A health and development study that followed more than 1,200 New Zealand children from birth to age 25.
Adolescents and young women who had abortions were more likely to suffer from depression, thoughts of suicide, drug addiction and overall mental health problems than peers who had children or who never got pregnant. This result remained statistically significant even after controlling for factors such as education, family stability, self-esteem, smoking habits and prior history of depression.

"Depression and Unwanted First Pregnancy: Longitudinal Cohort Study"
Sarah Schmiege and Nancy Felipe Russo
British Medical Journal, 2005
A national study of U.S. youth, who were first interviewed in 1979 and followed through 1992. This research looked at more than 1,000 women who reported their first pregnancy was unwanted.
Women who aborted had no higher risk of depression than women who delivered. Over the years, those who aborted ended up with higher incomes and education levels than those who delivered – achievements that can lower the risk of depression.

Medical Science Monitor, 2003: This study examined National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) data, specifically the records of 1,884 women with a first pregnancy. It also considered if there were any previous psychological problems. The study found that, at an average of 8 years after the first pregnancies, women who chose abortions were 8% more likely to score in the "high-risk" range for clinical depression than women who gave birth. This was after controlling for age, race, marital status, divorce history, education, income, and previous psychological state. [NLSY is an ongoing nationwide interview-based study conducted by the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State University and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. [9(4): CR105-112].] full text] [This and the later-discussed NLSY results have been adjusted to reflect questions already raised and addressed about this research, as discussed here and here.]

Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), May 13, 2003: Another study found that
"Psychiatric admissions were more common among women at anytime between 90 days to 4 years after an…abortion, than among those who carried a pregnancy to term." The risk was “significantly higher.” They reviewed the California Medicaid records of 56,741 women aged 13–49 years at the time of either abortion or childbirth, and only included women with no previous psychiatric admissions or pregnancy events during the year before.

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2002: This study found that women with a prior history of abortion are twice as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use illicit drugs, and ten times more likely to use marijuana during the first pregnancy they actually carry to term, compared to other women delivering their first pregnancies. ["History of induced abortion in relation to substance use during pregnancies carried to term." December 2002; 187(5).]

British Medical Journal, Dec. 2001: An earlier look at that NLSY data found that, an average of eight years after abortion, married women were 37% more likely to be at high risk of clinical depression, compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term. However, women having abortions instead of carrying to term in their first marriages were 50% more likely to be in that “high risk range” than those in second or later marriages. [324: 151-152] [This and the above-mentioned NLSY results have been adjusted to reflect the questions already raised about this data, as discussed here and here.]

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2002: A comparison of outpatient mental health claims over 5 years, including records of 173,000 California women, found that women were 63% more likely to receive mental care within 90 days of an abortion, than after giving birth. Also, significantly higher rates of later mental health treatment persisted over the entire four years of data examined. Abortion was most strongly associated with later treatments for neurotic depression, bipolar disorder, adjustment reactions, and schizophrenic disorders." [culled from data about state-funded abortions vs. deliveries; Vol. 72, No. 1, 141-152]
"Psychological Responses of Women after First-Trimester Abortion"
Brenda Major, Catherine Cozzarelli, M. Lynne Cooper, Josephine Zubek, Caroline Richards, Michael Wilhite, Richard H. Gramzow
Archives of General Psychiatry, 2000
Series of interviews with nearly 450 women seeking first-trimester abortions for unintended pregnancy. They were interviewed one hour before the abortion and one hour, one month and two years after.
Indications of depression increased over time. At the two-year mark, 20% of women had experienced an episode of clinical depression. But many of them had a history of depression before their abortion. At the last interview, 72% of women said they were satisfied with their decision. But 19% said they would not have the abortion if they could go back; another 12% were undecided.

While the studies are conflicting and scientists continue to  debate, we need to turn to the women making the decision and listen to their needs. These women are speaking and there is strong demand for adequate post-abortion counseling. According to Vicki Thorn, founder of the Catholic-based post-abortion healing program, Project Rachel, "The national office receives 300-400 phone calls and about 200 e-mails each month." (source, 2002). The PASS Site, a well-known neutral peer support sight has 12 pages (with an estimated 217 stories) and 6,005 more active members on the message board community of men and women who are working through post-abortion issues. In 2002, the pro-choice post-abortion hotline, "Exhale" was established and currently receives more than 500 calls a month (source). In addition, a number of independent, peer support post-abortion message boards have appeared over the last several years, for example, the message board at Safe Have Ministries  and the "Post Abortion Healing Support" board at Voy Forums.

In addition, Naomi'st true story reveals the barriors of stigma and political rhetoric women face when seeking post-abortion counseling:
"I think it is also crucial for women to be warned that post abortion depression is not just a myth promoted by anti-abortionists. I had been reassured that I would not have emotional problems after the abortion. I heard that the only opposition to abortion was religious; since I was an atheist, I should never have a problem with it.

When post abortion trauma hit me a full decade after the abortion I was not prepared and absolutely stunned at its force. I was devastated, depressed, suicidal, angry and ashamed for a full six months. I had nightmares, couldn't cope with going out in public, and hated myself and everyone involved with the abortion. Anything I thought I could not have acquired or achieved if I had allowed my child to be born, I wanted to destroy: my marriage, my career, my home, my car; I even had to put my wedding pictures away for a while because I felt like tearing them all up.

Trustingly, I turned to pro-choice groups for help with my trauma. Even though I was still pro-choice and an atheist, I was laughed at and argued with. I was told that if I was having any regrets it was because I was not psychologically normal before the abortion! I was told it was just post-abortion hormones (the abortion had taken place ten years earlier!). In tears I called several pro-choice organizations and clinics, honestly seeking help. I was told that there was no such thing as post abortion regrets, I was called a liar, I was told there was no help available for me at all. The only "nice" response I got was a lady who said "I'm sorry" and then hung up. The last abortion clinic receptionist I talked to got furious and accused me of being an anti-abortionist pretending to have post abortion depression and threatened to report me to the police for "harassing" the clinic!

I was devastated. If I had a gun and did not have two small children to care for I know I would have ended it all right then. I didn't know who to turn to. I had not even told my husband yet what was upsetting me.

Luckily, I called a pro-life center and they referred me to post-abortion therapy (even though I told them I was pro-choice). I chose non-religious post-abortion therapy and eventually healed. But for a while my husband and some relatives were angry with me for admitting I never wanted the abortion. Cruelly, they subjected me to the very same comments and pressure which caused me to submit to the abortion in the first place ("reassuring" me that it was what I "had" to do) while insisting that it was all my idea and they never pressured me at all!

I strongly urge women to speak up and be honest - no matter who it pisses off! No more pretending that it's what we want or all our idea. It's bad enough others (who supposedly "love" us) impose their wishes on us without us also being expected to act like it's what we alone "chose."

July 1998
Feminist Women's Health Clinic: Naomi's Story
In closing, please consider the following section of a letter submitted by Celia Ryan, a social worker and specialized grief counselor, in response to the Canadian Medical Association May 13 (2006) article relating abortion to increased risks of psychiatric hospitalization...

"I am not a researcher, and the hurting men and women who come to my office for counseling, or to my groups, are not interested in statistics or expectable outcomes. They are interested in having a language, structure and a framework for their abortion experience and an opportunity to use that information in a helfpul and healing way. They are grateful and relieved to finally be able to name and explore an issue that society says does not exist. They are no longer disenfranchised from their appropriate grief."

These women exist, we can't ignore their presence or needs for support/counseling as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Help TX pregnancy care center win $25k

CareNet Pregnancy Center of Central TX is in the running for a $25,000 office makeover from Perry Office Supply.
waco carenet.jpgCareNet is currently in 1st place. Voting ends Sunday. CareNet would use the makeover proceeds for a new office it is opening across the street from the Waco Planned Parenthood abortion mill. Great news.
Wherever we are in the U.S., we can vote.
1. Go to
2. Click on "See the finalists and vote now."
3. Click on "Go Vote" and then vote for CareNet.
Very easy. Please vote. $25k would go a long way toward meeting the needs of this PCC.

Go to Jill's site (link below) for the winner.

H/T to Jill Stanek


perry winner.jpg

The Pregnancy Center won! Followed by the Waco Humane Society.

Update #2: See Before and After Pictures!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recommended Read: "Harry and the Human Rights Complaint"

Suzanne of the conservative Big Blue Wave Canada blog has well-thought out fictional piece, entitled, "Harry and the Human Rights Complaint" about  a young man named Harry, Director of Library Services at a public library in futuristic Canda, where the ideals of free speech are supressed in the name of "Social Harmony" and maintaining the status quo on contraversial issues. When Harry features a book at his library which challenges the status quo, he is faced with a human rights violation lawsuit and a clash begins between those in favor of freedom of speech and those who wish to maintain the stutus quo, with Harry in the middle, unsure what to do.

Well written, the piece raises very real issues such as censorship and free speech (should we prohibit or allow contraversial literature and ideas in libraries for the sake of education or are we seeking balance "social harmony"?), the possibility of the internet drawing public attention away from reading, and classic and unique books are being pushed aside in favor of the newest novels and fad books. Also the story touches on more sentimental issues such as the feelings of the contentment one has at seeing the rows and rows of books at the library and the ideal that books are a gateway to knowledge.

Harry and the Human Rights Violation
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fun with Medical Terms

Another fun quiz to give us a break from the daily grind.

Can you match the fun (think Redneck) definition of these real medical terms?

Medical TermDefintion
1. Artery
2. Bacteria
3. Barium
4. Benign
5. Bowels
6. CAT Scan
7. Cauterize
8. Cesarean section:
9. Colic
10. Coma
11. D & C
12. Dilate
13. Enema
14. Fester
15. Fibula
16. Genital
17. G.I. Series
18. Hangnail
19. Impotent
20. Labor Pain
21. Medical Staff
22. Minor Operation
23. Morbid
24. Nitrate
25. Node
26. Organic
27. Outpatient
28. Pap Smear
29. Pelvis
30. Postoperative
31. Prostate
32. Protein
33. Recovery Room
34. Rectum
33. Secretion
34. Seizure
35. Serology
36. Tablet
37. Terminal Illness
38. Tumor
39. Urine
40. Varicose
41. Vein
Was aware of
A higher offer
A person who has fainted
Getting hurt at work
A fatherhood test
Distinguished; well known
Cousin of Elvis
A coat hook
A letter carrier
A baseball game in the Army
A place to do upholstery
Not a Jew
Dang near killed him
A small lie
Hiding something
A Roman emperor
Not a friend
A small table
To live long
Getting sick at the airport
Where Washington is
More than one
A punctuation mark
Opposite of "you're out"
Made eye contact with her
Near by
Searching for kitty
Conceited; a large ego
A sheepdog
A doctor's cane
A neighborhood in Rome
Coal digging
A, E, I, O, or U
Church musician
What you are after you be eight
Study of English knighthood
What doctors do when patients die
Veins that are very close together
Back door of a cafeteria
In favor of young people
The study of paintings
Opposite of day rates

No Cheating!! ;-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let's Rock the Vote!

Ok, folks, it's time to rock the vote and make your voice heard! Let's get out there to our local polling stations and vote! And after you're done, you can get freebies from several food retailers, including Starbucks, Chik-fil-A, and Ben & Jerry's, but also you can get a free flu vaccine through the Vote & Vax project.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ignorance and Stigma is Still Well and Alive, Redux

Back in this May entry, I shared my own experience with an unenlightened individual, which made it clear that many with developmental disabilities still face the challange of ignorance and bigotry among the general public. However, unfortuantly his view and atitude towards the developmental disabled is not abnormal. Below, I've compiled various articles, quotes, and stories sharing the additional challenges individuals with these disabilities and their family members face, from poor, misleading, and discouraging counsel from their doctors to ignorance and rude comments, and even outright hatred from family, friends, and the general public.

Down Syndrome Families Brought Into Sharp Focus
"Many parents also talk about how the phone never rings with invitations for a play date for their children or an offer to help carpool. Sometimes, they find themselves answering people who suggest that their child should never have been born.

That happened to Tia Marsili, 49, of Vienna while driving from her hometown in western Pennsylvania to Virginia Beach with her sister. The trip lasted six hours and was not without some fussing from Marsili's daughters, Sheridan and Skye. Both girls have Down syndrome. Sheridan's condition had come as a surprise after birth, but Marsili knew from prenatal testing that Skye would have Down syndrome.

"My sister looked at me and said, 'Why didn't you abort her?' " Marsili recalled. "I said, 'What? Because we love her, and she's my baby, and we love her!' 'But you knew,' my sister said. . . . It was pretty shocking. Even people that close to me."

Thursday, October 16, 2008
By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer

 ( – Women diagnosed as carrying a Down syndrome baby often receive poor, misleading, and discouraging counsel from their doctors – the most frequent comments being an apology offered with the option of aborting their baby.

That inadequate and incomplete counsel has prompted Down syndrome support groups to spring to life across the nation.

“It’s so misleading,” Mia Willson, whose daughter Mylie, 7 months, has Down syndrome, told “The truth is, some Down syndrome children are born with medical conditions, but with the advances in technology, most can be easily treated.”

Children with Down syndrome, caused by an extra chromosome, have varying degrees of mental retardation and often have heart problems. Since the advent of pre-natal testing in the mid-1970s, the number of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome and then aborted is nine out of ten. Prior to that time, nearly all such babies were born.

The Willson family, from left, Mia, Mylie, Tyson and Tyler.Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 women who had a Down syndrome child in 2005, 12.5 percent of which were mothers who had received a pre-natal diagnosis.

Those 141 women reported “incomplete, inaccurate or offensive” information about Down syndrome at the time of diagnosis. They also said they weren’t connected to resources that could help them understand their child’s condition.

“There is one thing that the mothers spoke very clearly on in my research -- was the connection with other parents made a big difference,” Skotko, who has a sister with Down syndrome and serves on several boards of Down syndrome advocacy groups, told

Skotko’s own research and a 2006 survey of 1,105 junior fellows and fellows for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists show that doctors are not trained to share positive information about children with Down syndrome at the time of diagnosis. In the ACOG study, 45 percent of respondents rated their residency training regarding pre-natal diagnosis as “barely adequate” or “non-existence.”

“Doctors aren’t necessarily trained or know the answer to, for example, what is it like to raise a child with Down syndrome? Will my child go to prom one day? What affect will this have on my other children and my marriage?” Shotko said.

As reported by in an earlier story, a study of 499 primary care physicians revealed that only 4 percent encouraged their patients to continue their pregnancy.

Willson recalls when her daughter was in the intensive care unit for a heart condition diagnosed shortly after birth. The nurse on duty had a son with Down syndrome.

“She said, ‘Oh, I’m so excited for you. This child is going to melt your heart,’” Willson recalled. “I couldn’t understand why she was so positive when the doctors had been so solemn and even negative. They said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’ There’s nothing to be sorry about.”

These kind of negative experiences have led Wilson and other parents across the country to launch grassroots groups that offer both pre- and post-natal support, and connect parents with the kind of support and resources they need to raise a special needs child.

In Willson’s case, she agreed to pre-natal screenings, which did not show an increased risk of having a baby with Down syndrome. So Willson did not opt for diagnostic tests.

After Mylie’s birth, Willson and her husband, Tyler, learned their daughter had the genetic condition and some medical complications. Post-natal tests determined she had two holes in her heart and a thyroid condition. She was also extremely sensitive to gluten. But Willson said the holes closed on their own and medication and the proper diet have helped her daughter thrive.

Willson, 32, helped start The Real Face of Down Syndrome with JaimieWeitzman, whom she met through programs in place at the California hospital where their children were born that connects parents with other parents who have children with the condition.

“I called her and it was so wonderful to talk to someone my age that had a new daughter with Down syndrome,” Willson said.

Since connecting through a support group for parents of Down syndrome, the Willson and Weitzman kids have become friends, from left, Mylie and Tyson Willson and Julie, Sarah and Hannah Weitzman.“It’s amazing all the negative things people hear,” Weitzman, whose Down syndrome daughter Hannah just turned one, told “We’re not experiencing those negative things. Yes, this family has been changed forever, but I mean forever in a positive way.”

Willson and Weitzman also were inspired to start their effort after hearing statistics that show as many as nine out of 10 women who are diagnosed pre-natally with carrying a child with Down Syndrome choose to have an abortion.

“We were just devastated when we found out how high the percentage was,” Willson said. “We didn’t think it is fair that these children don’t have a chance just because they have an extra chromosome. We wanted to get the message out about these children.”

“These children have souls,” Willson said. “They are like any other child.”

Willson and Weitzman, 31, have created a brochure with family photographs and the contact information for resources to help parents who have received a Down syndrome diagnosis or have a newborn with the condition. They are putting them, with the help of their pediatrician, in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other places where “children of child-bearing age” might pick one up.

Lucy Talbot is the president of Families Exploring Down Syndrome, a non-profit organization founded in 1989 “by a group of parents who felt the need to share a common bond with families in the area who were experiencing the same feelings, heartaches, and joys.”

The organization has adopted and implemented the National Down Syndrome Society’s Changing Lives program, which puts parent volunteers and their children with Down syndrome into medical settings to demonstrate to health professionals the true nature of these children and the importance of giving pre- or post-natally diagnosed parents complete and accurate information.

Today, the Michigan-based organization has more than 200 active family members, including Talbot, who adopted her daughter Megan, who has Down syndrome, after a doctor told Megan’s birth parents that they didn’t have to raise the child.

 “Instead of giving (the parents) hope or connecting them with someone who knows about Down syndrome,” Talbot said, the doctor said to give the child away. Megan ended up with Talbot as a foster child and was eventually adopted.

Talbot’s organization also supports new parents of Down syndrome children by providing them with “new parent packages,” which includes resources, information and lots of photos.

“They need to see these children,” says Talbot, whose daughter Megan, now 19, is graduating from high school, has a part-time job at Macy’s and went to the prom with a good friend.

Willson and Weitzman agree that including photographs on their brochure was essential.

“We want people to see that we are still a family, we are happy,” Willson said.
“We are a joyful family,” Weitzman said.

That’s also true for Kadi Coe, who knew before her daughter Ayla, now 10 months, was born that she had Down syndrome. Coe, 30, was screened for the genetic disorder, which showed she was at high risk for having a child with Down syndrome. Diagnostic tests confirmed that fact.

“I was devastated,” Coe told “It was something that I’d never even thought of. You don’t think something like this will happen to you. I thought my world had ended.”

Coe admits, even though she and her husband consider themselves pro-life, that they thought about abortion.

“I heavily thought about terminating,” Coe said. “It was an agonizing decision, but I thought I would grieve for her for the rest of my life.”

Coe was also helped by Amanda Clarke, who also was pre-natally diagnosed with carrying a child with Down syndrome and had joined Families Exploring Down Syndrome.

“It was amazing,” Coe said of talking with Amanda. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, you understand how I’m feeling.’ (The support group) was the only thing that kept me going.”

And even if Coe describes the day Ayla was born as “the scariest thing in my life,” that fear quickly changed to joy when she saw her daughter for the first time.

“My worries washed away,” Coe said. “I can’t imagine my life without her.”

Coe, who has an older daughter, added that she is grateful on a daily basis that she didn’t choose abortion.

“Not a day goes by that I’m glad I didn’t do that to her,” Coe said. “I still cry thinking that I almost did that.”

For Weitzman, having a child with Down syndrome proved almost prophetic.

As a sixth-grader, Weitzman said she was drawn to volunteer in the classroom where children with Down syndrome were taught at her school. Her mother also worked as a volunteer with Down syndrome children.

“I always had this sense that I knew I would have a child with Down syndrome,” Weitzman, who has two other daughters, said. “I feel like the Lord was preparing me.”
She said she declined to have any of the pre-natal tests offered by her doctor during both pregnancies.

And now that Hannah has celebrated her first birthday, Weitzman says not only has her birth brought the family closer together, but she said her older girls will also be blessed by their special sibling.

“I think they will learn to love in a broader way,” Weitzman said. “I think they will grow up to be better people.”
"Respecting choice" and "Nobody is for abortion"
A collection of comments from the general public regarding Sarah Palin's son Trig and other individuals living with Down Syndrome:

"This baby should have never been allowed to live a life of suffering. Gov. Palin should have aborted the pregnancy and saved this person a life of difficulty."

"Howard [Stern] thought that Sarah Palin should have not delivered the child that was going to be born with a reduced resources, and he went on and on about it." (NB: Stern hates Bristol's baby, too: “Any self respecting mother would have taken her daughter to an abortion clinic and had that blood clot removed”)

"Sarah Palin’s judgment is despicalble. She knowingly whelped a Mongoloid child earlier this year, probably to pander to the Right to Life Nutbags."

"No one has the right to bring a defective child into the world it is a form of self-love and shows no love for the child." (Scroll down)

"She should have aborted the Downs child…. no, giving him life was not the best thing." (Comment #387)

"I disagree with condemning the baby to a second-class life full of discomfort. I think it's more cruel to bring a baby into this world that you know will suffer and that cannot be cured. .... The issue is KNOWING that the baby will have Down syndrome and still being callous enough to bring it into the world." (Answer 2)

"She shouldn't have gotten pregnant. It was selfishness. And she should have aborted the fetus."

"It's obvious this comment came from some ignorant poor THING with self-esteem issues and the mental capacity of Palin's poor THING of a son that she should have aborted as soon as she knew he would never be a productive member of society!" (#33)

"We don't even have the funds to properly education normal children. Now we want to add more funding for Special Needs children whom, in many cases, have a birth defect their parents knowingly acknowledged prior to their birth, yet chose to have that baby anyway? I say let the parents of these children fund their education. Don't force your choice on the rest of us."

"Listen. This is a defective unit. Humanity is much better off without it. It would be a drain on the system, and who the fuck really cares anyway? It would just be laughed at. It's better off dead."

"I thought an unaborted mongoloid baby was the symbol of the Republican Party."

"I’ll tell you what is TRULY reprehensible...(2.) Bringing a retarded child into the world knowing that it will never be able to take care of itself or have a normal life just to validate your nutty God-botherer credentials to teh other nutty God-botherers."

"Tests can be done to see whether you’re carrying an embryo that is affected, and you can abort said embryo and become pregnant with a normal child, should you so choose (abnormal, in this case, is not meant to imply any kind of judgement, but rather describes an aberration from the norm - as in the chromosomes did not seperate properly)."

H/T to Christina at Real Choice 
What Can I Do?
These are some suggestions for the general public for understanding and respecting the differences and similiarities in those with disabilities.

- I encourage those who aren't familiar with developmental disabilities to learn, learn, learn! This can be via books at your local library, advocacy organizations, publications from websites, etc.

- Listen to the stories of parents who'd received an adverse prental diagnosis: Be Not Afraid: Stories

- When you see someone with a disability out and about, please don't gawk, stare, or just plain give dirty looks. We're trying to normalize life for these individuals, not make it more difficult!

- Although someoneone with a disabilitiy may appear different from the outside; remember, we're all alike in some way or another and they are human beings just like you and me, with feelings and emotions, favorite foods, music styles, sports, hobbies, and activities they enjoy, etc.

- Remember, many individuals are handiCAPPABLE, meaning they strive to be independent and many are capable in different areas. With this said, don't offer help to someone unless they ask you or they clearly imply they need your help (i.e. feeding themselves, reaching on shelves, picking up an item, opening doors, etc).

National Down Syndrome Society,, (800) 221-4602.

Association for Children with Down Syndrome,, (516) 933-4700

Families Exploring Down Syndrome,, (586) 997-7607

Autism Society,, 1.800.3AUTISM (1.800.328.8476)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Something Fun

More fun quizes to give us a break from the daily grind.

You Are Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream

You just don't know when you've had enough (or too much)!

Yep, that's me, especially in referring to chocolate :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CPC Destroyed in Arson Fire

Pregnancy Alternatives Center, a CPC located in Lebanon, Oregon faced total loss due to an arson fire.
Catholic Sentinel
Torched Pregnancy Aid Center Scrapping to Get Back to Serve

LEBANON — ...Tracy and volunteers have made themselves forgive whoever ruined their building, which was in the process of being renovated and expanded. Otherwise, they say, they’d be paralyzed by bitterness.
Tracy does not want girls to be scared off by the fire or the resulting talk about the struggle between pro-life and pro-choice forces. That’s why the attack is so painful — the center aims to be a place of welcome and service, not a political agent.
“The center really showers God’s love on these girls,” says a shocked Chris Barreto, a member of St. Edward’s who volunteers. “This came as a surprise out of the blue.”
The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the arson.
“We’re looking at whether the arsonists believed that the clinic provided abortion services, which it did not,” FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “We’re looking at the possibility that they believed the clinic counseled against abortions, which it did. And we’re looking at any reason that we may not have come up with yet.”
Letter-writers to the Albany Democrat Herald newsaper said that the intentional fire should be labeled a hate crime.
In the past few years, advocates of abortion rights have criticized pro-life pregnancy centers and made legislative attacks via bills that would regulate what the centers can say and do.
The center does tell women about the medical and mental health risks thought to be associated with an abortion such as the link between abortion and breast cancer, and mental health problems like depression.
The center had been on the same location for 19 years with no incident. This spring, it expanded to include a clinic with pregnancy tests and ultrasounds given by volunteer physicians and nurses.
Volunteers offer confidential counseling, emergency housing, prenatal vitamins and nutrition guidance and pre-natal care and education. After the baby comes, the center provides ongoing counseling, life skills classes, baby clothing and gear, car seats, fathers’ counseling and adoption information.
Last year, the clinic had 1,200 visits by clients.
The fire wrought heavy damage to the attic and roof of the building, in the downtown area of this small town, 20 miles east of Oregon State University. No one was injured in the early-morning blaze.
Leaders say the clinic will be rebuilt. There is insurance, but it is questionable whether it will cover all the need, including replacement of heating and ventilation systems. The center gets no government funding.
Classes and housing efforts will continue, but clinic operations are suspended while Tracy searches for someone who will offer a temporary location. The center has about 50 volunteers from local churches, about six of them from St. Edward’s.
Attacks on pro-life pregnancy aid centers are common, though few are as destructive as the event in Lebanon.
Bomb threats were called in to a California pregnancy center and others were vandalized in 1999. A Canadian center in Winnipeg was covered with graffiti in 2001. In 2004, two Maryland pregnancy centers were vandalized, with smashed windows and computers. In 2005, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, another Maryland center was hit with smashed windows and graffiti that said “Choice” and “Womyn Haters.” When a ban on abortions was debated in South Dakota in 2006, vandals hit the homes of pregnancy center heads with eggs, threatening phone calls and the bodies of decomposing animals.
Terry Weaver, executive director of Birthright, recalls bomb threats at the organization’s Atlanta house. She hears about vandalism regularly from Birthright houses around the country — splattered paint, shot-out windows, dog feces in mailboxes. Sometimes, pro-choice zealots call the Birthright hotline to heckle the organization.
“It happens from coast to coast,” Weaver says.


Albany Democrat Herald
Pregnancy Center Will Have to Be Torn Down
LEBANON — The building which housed the Pregnancy Alternatives Center will have to be torn down, Executive Director Debbie Tracy said Thursday.

The Sept. 10 arson fire that burned much of the building’s interior has left the structure virtually unusable.

The FBI announced Thursday a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the fire.

Tracy said workers have spent the last week salvaging what they could from the charred remains, but not much is usable.

Insurance agents inspected the building and called it a total loss, she said.

No date is set for the demolition.

Tracy said she is working on alternate plans for the center and hopes to have something concrete in the coming weeks.

The center has hired a web designer to update the center’s website,, with new information or anything the center needs from volunteers.

The FBI is asking anyone with information to call its Eugene bureau at (541) 343-5222 during normal business hours, its Portland bureau at (503) 224-4181 any time, or the Lebanon Police Department at 258-4319.

The FBI says it is investigating the fire jointly with the Lebanon Police Department and has authority to do so under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

Investigators do not know the motive behind the fire. They are looking at all possibilities, including whether the arsonists set the fire because they falsely believed the clinic provides abortion services; or because they knew the clinic counsels against abortions; or some other as yet undetermined reason.

The nonprofit center had been at the location for 19 years, providing free services to help women through unplanned pregnancies without getting an abortion.
Could you imagine the public outcry had the arson fire been in an abortion facility instead of one that offers women abortion alternatives and hope and help?

All the major media outlets would be featuring major articles featuring quotes from abortion rights activists, pointing fingers and blaming prolifers and the blogsphere would be afire in outrage. There would have been cries of outrage along with speculation and finger-pointing and cries that we need more "protection" for those who preform abortions.

But it was a CPC. A place that enables women to choose to carry to term and make healthy choices. Although pro-life in idealogy, they're not politically active, however being pro-life makes the fire a non-story. Sadly I would not be surprised if pro-choicers are secretly smiling at the thought of one less CPC...

H/T to Christina at Real Choice

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pro-Choice Activists Move to Shut Down CPCs

*Sighs* A week ago I ran into the website of a non-profit organization dedicated to shutting down CPCs. I don't wish to share their name as I don't encourage visiting their site. However, I'm sure if you looked hard enough, you could find the site via Google.

Welcome to [name removed-ed.]! Whether you're searching information about deceptive CPCs or have just stumbled onto our site while looking for information regarding your reproductive options, you've come to the right place.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are fake clinics that use deceptive tactics to lure vulnerable women into their doors. Once inside, women are subjected to an array of false and misleading information regarding their reproductive options. CPCs are not medical clinics, but instead an appendage of the anti-choice camp whose mission is to enact control over a woman's body and limit her decisions. Many staff no medical professionals at all. With over 4000 CPCs operational in the U.S., it's likely tens of thousands of women have, through no fault of their own, fallen victim to one of the most dangerous threats to reproductive freedom today.

In the interest of providing an differing view (and refuting many pro-choice misconceptions, I might add), I wrote the webmaster via their contact page . It was just a simple, curt e-mail showing interest in their site and offered a link to my own article on crisis pregnancy centers, Myths and Facts About Pregnancy Resource Centers .
Later on that afternoon, I received an anonymous website hit to the article. That was August 29th. Then on September 3rd, much to my surprise, I received a website hit from the I.P. address of the Feminist Majority Foundation. It looks like I might be grabbing someone's attention. Good!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Darth Vader's Psyche: What Went Wrong?

As you all know, I'm interested in mental health, but also am a fan of Star Wars. I found the following while Google searching on Darth Vader's physical injuries for a piece of fan fiction writing and took interest.
Darth Vader's Psyche: What Went Wrong?

Anakin Skywalker, Who Became Darth Vader, Had Borderline Personality Disorder, Psychiatrists Say
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Medical News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 21, 2007 -- Anakin Skywalker, the Star Wars character who became Darth Vader, had borderline personality disorder, psychiatrists report.
The news comes not from a galaxy far, far away, but from San Diego, where the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is holding its 160th annual meeting.
Today, experts from the psychiatric department at France's University Hospital of Toulouse told the APA's annual meeting that Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader could "clearly" be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness marked by instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior, according to background information on the web site of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
The French psychiatrists -- who included Laurent Schmitt, MD -- based their diagnosis on original Star Wars film scripts.
Skywalker Psyche
Schmitt's team describes Skywalker's symptoms, including problems with controlling anger and impulsivity, temporary stress-related paranoia, "frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (when trying to save his wife at all costs), and a pattern of unstable and intense personal relationships," including his relationships with his Jedi masters.
Changing his name and turning into "Darth Vader" is a red flag of Skywalker's disturbed identity, note Schmitt and colleagues.
The researchers aren't suggesting that real people with borderline personality disorder are Darth Vaders-in-the-making. Skywalker's symptoms are an extreme, fictional case.
Borderline personality disorder can be treated with psychotherapy and medication. But that wasn't part of Skywalker's script.

SOURCES: American Psychiatric Association's 2007 Annual Meeting, San Diego, May 19-24, 2007. National Institute of Mental Health: "Borderline Personality Disorder." News release, American Psychiatric Association.

© 2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Apparently there has been quite some discussion of this in the blogsphere as well.

Real Space, wrote on 6/6/05:
"Watching Star Wars 3 (much better than the first two), I couldn’t help the train of thoughts running through my mind: Paranoid delusions. Grandiosity. Impulsivity. Inflexibility in thinking. Black and white thinking. Anger management issues. Issues with authority figures. Tendency to aggression and violence. Ambivalence. Labile. Poor coping style. Difficulty with trust. Psychomotor agitation. Lack of insight. Query psychosis. Query antisocial personality disorder, possibly psychopathic. Query borderline personality disorder. At very high risk of PTSD, depression. Management? Likelihood of medication compliance? Need for involuntary treatment order? We’d need a lot of backup.."

Rebel Doctor MD, who claims to be a board certified psychiatrist/sleep specialist/internist, responds:
"I think Realspace is on the right track when he mentions the cluster B personality disorder diagnoses of antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder, though I would vote for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder (he has a grandiose sense of self-importance, is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, believes that he is special and should only associate with other high-status people, requires excessive admiration, has a sense of entitlement, shows arrogance, and is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him. He also lacks empathy, at least at the end of the movie). Anakin is very grandiose and believes that the jedi masters are envious of his power; at the same time he envies their postion on the jedi council. He wants the admiration of others and does not feel that he is getting due respect from the other Jedi. Anakin is preoccupied with power; near the end of the movie he talks about taking over the Galactic Empire from Palpatine.
I agree that he would have been at risk for developing depression and PTSD after he killed his wife and got burned, but there was no direct evidence for either of these diagnoses in the movie. I did not detect any true psychosis in Anakin/Vader...."

Borderline Personality Disorder is a very real and serious mental health disorder, but I find amusing that medical professionals have psychoanalyzed a Star Wars villain. It was very apparent in the movies that the character of Anakin Skywalker was struggling with inner demons. His mental health and personality were probably negatively influenced starting early in his life, as a child slave. Although his mother, Shmi Skywalker, tried to do her best in raising him, they were both slaves, subject to physical abuse by their master and poor treatment by other citizens.  Because of this, Anakin developed unhealthy fear and anger. Also, as a child, Anakin would, "would often risk his own well being...with little forethought or regard for the consequences of his actions," he was daring and adverturous, impulsive and reckless. Also, while still in childhood, he left his mother behind to train as a Jedi, something he always resented.  His grieft was probably further accentuated by experiencing the traumatic death of his mother in his adolescent years. As a young adult, Anakin developed as an arrogant and somewhat socially awkward boy. His natural abilities placed him leaps and bounds above his peers, and this fed his ego as well as caused him to distance himself from other learners of his age. He frequently showed off, chafed against authority, and displayed little respect for his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Also, he married in secret because Jedi law forbid marriage and he had unresolved conflict between attachment to his wife and his Jedi duties. Couple his traumatic past and personality flaws, with the pressures of Jedi duties, changing hornones with puberty (which may have increased agression), and potential genetic disposition, Anakin was probably high risk for developing a mental health disorder.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Please Sponsor Me in the NAMI Walks for the Mind of America


Dear Family, Friends, and Visitors,

Once again, I'm participating in "NAMI Walks for the Mind of America" an awareness/fundraising walkathon for mental illness.
Millions of Americans, including an estimated one in five families are affected by mental illness: severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic & anxiety disorders and others. Mental illness is a biologically based brain disorder, which disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes or heart disease, mental illness is a medical condition, which often results in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. You may have been diagnosed with mental illness yourself or know someone who has. 1 in 17 Americans suffer from a serious mental illness and it is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 5 families in America (Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness). These individuals are your neighbors, your fellow church members, and your co-workers, maybe even a family member. For some, an experience with mental illness is short, say Seasonal Affective Disorder. For others, it is a lifelong struggle to understand, overcome, and live with persistent and unpredictable symptoms.
I am one of such individuals with a mental illness. My struggle with major depression began during my first year at college. Unable to complete school at this time, I returned home and was fortuant to have wonderful support from my parents, family, boyfriend, and his family. I was started an anti-depressant and worked through the spring and summer. By the fall, I felt my depressive symptoms were under control and I was ready to return to college. I erolled at Vincennes University, a small, two year college which was reputated to have excellent academic support program for those with disabilities. I completed one and a half years of college and was half-way towards earning my associate's degree before returning home again due to worsening symptoms. After returning home, I lost my health isurance coverage, because I was no longer a college student and was unable to obtain private insurance because of the depressive condition was pre-existing. Anti-depressant therapy costs upward of $60-$200 depending on the medications and therapy can cost upwards of $90-150 a session. I gritted my teeth and continued to pay for my medication out of my own pockets, however therapy was out of reach. Fortuantly, in the fall of 2005, I discovered our local community mental health clinic. Clinics such as these are a vital part of our community, offering vital mental health services at low-cost and sliding-fee-scale to the homeless, impoverished, uninsured, and underinsured of our community. Most people with serious mental illness need medication to help control symptoms, but also rely on supportive counseling, self-help groups, assistance with housing, vocational rehabilitation, income assistance and other community services in order to achieve their highest level of recovery. At the clinic, I was able to see a therapist in addition to a nurse practioner for medication. However, like many community mental health clinics, they are under-staffed and poorly funded, which can result in poor quality of care. In additon, persons with a mental illness are often faced with additional challenges in the workplace, in the home, and in the community due to barriers to obtaining treatment and the stigmas surrounding mental illness. This is why I became involved in NAMI.
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The common message of NAMI is support, education, advocacy, and research. NAMI helps in many ways:
It provides support to persons with mental illnesses and their families
It advocates for improved opportunities and for non-discriminatory policies for housing, rehabilitation and meaningful jobs
It supports research
It supports public education programs designed to help educate and remove stigma surrounding severe mental illness

On June 7, 2008, I will be participating in the NAMI Indiana Walk, the local "NAMI Walks for the Mind of America" walkathon in Indianapolis to raise awareness about mental illness, reach out to new families, and to raise money for support and education in our local communities. Our team, which is named "Footsteps" is comprised of individuals whose lives have been directly impacted by mental illness, either through a family member or spouse. And we have chosen this team name because we are walking together to take Footsteps towards hope, awareness, and education.  Please visit for more information about the Indiana WALK, go to:, to learn more about our team, or follow this direct link: to make a donation specifically in my name. (You will be taken to a secure form, as when you pay bills online, and the site will not disclose your personal information for any mailing lists or unauthorized purposes). If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to NAMI Indiana and send it to my home address (please e-mail me for my address). I'll collect and submit all donations. Personally I'm contributing $25, and my goal is to build a team of at least 10 people and raise $1000. Please let me know if I can provide you with any more information about mental health or mental illness, in Indiana or in your own community. Thank you!
Rachael C.

Update May 12:

Dear Family, Friends, and Visitors,

I have yet to reach my fundraising goal of $1,000 and it's only 3 weeks until the walk.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to support my participation in this event is tax deductible.  NAMI has been rated by Worth magazine as among the top 100 charities "most likely to save the world" and has been given an "A" rating by The American Institute of Philanthropy for efficient and effective use of charitable dollars.

The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved, and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.

Please re-consider making a donation. Even a minimal donation of $5 will contribute to making a difference in someone's life.

Thank you in advance for your support.
Rachael C.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Condoms Won't Fix This"

Christina at Real Choice nails it in her blog post, "Condoms won't fix this"

10 Million Children Die From Lack of Health Care Each Year, Charity Group Reports

Kids in developing nations are still dying for lack of basic antibiotics and oral rehydration therapy -- not to mention potable water and basic sanitation.

Which is why I want to throttle people whose solution to poverty is to just throw condoms, Pills, and cheap abortions at people. It's adding insult to injury when people are helplessly watching their children die from preventable and treatable diseases, and the rich people "help" them by trying to spay and neuter them like so many stray cats. We don't need Poverty Pimps going in and throwing abortion and contraception at people whose dream is to have a few children who survive to adulthood. They need a chance of survival for their children, not a way to keep them from ever drawing breath in the first place.

You can go to Mercy Ships and underwrite the cost of a well and sanitation so a village can have safe water to drink, or contribute toward a community health clinic that can treat the infections that needlessly end so many young lives. World Vision also provides potable water and basic medical care. Both these organizations get the highest ratings from Charity Navigator, meaning that money given to them is used effectively to reach the target recipients, and isn't sucked up in salaries for administrators, fund-raisers, and so forth
This refers to those who push family planning and birth prevention as a solution to poverty, malnutrition, disease, and poor sanitation. She says it well. However, where we differ is that I believe that condoms are still important in the prevention and reduction of the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ignorance and Stigma is Still Well and Alive

This afternoon my husband and I went to see a rental house (not the one we decided on). The landlord met us there and showed us the inside. In casual conversation, the small town where we we live was brought up and the landlord replied he left the area because "They were building a nuthouse nearby and I was not ok with that. ...them being dangerous and all" I knew what he was referring to as I've heard that term used all too many times in a degrogatory manner and I was shocked and angered by that statement about anyone with a mental disability or mental illness. Furthermore it dawned on me that he may have been referring to my workplace, a local residential facility for inviduals with developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges, the only one in that area that is known. I tersley told him, I believe he was talking about my employer and the clients we serve. My husband added that they (the clients) might of been like that just a long time ago. I then told the man that they've come a long way with behavior modification and those clients needed a safe place to get the help and treatment they needed and we are careful about keeping them safe. And it was especially hurtful to me too because I have a mental illness, it's hard not to take that personal, you know? At that point, my husband asked where it was and he said a neighborhood that we're not familar with in the town, but still, you just don't talk about individuals with mental disabilities or mental illnesses like that. Ugh, I couldn't wait to leave.

Previous Comments:

Well, every neighborhood has a "nuthouse" or two...usually identified by the folks who still have a blinking musical Santa in July :) In any case, the residents of assisted living homes enjoy a fair amount of supervision and help with day-to-day life skills, right? Unlike, say, the 12 year old drug dealers in my current neighborhood, or the frat boys in my old neighborhood.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Childhood Hero

Growing up, for many years, we didn't have cable and even when we did, I watched mostly PBS children's shows. Among my favorites were Captain Kangaroo, Zoobilee Zoo,  Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and of course, Mister Rogers Neighborhood and my childhood hero was Fred Rogers. His television series, in addition to the nurturing my parents provided growing up, taugh me compassion and nurtured my imagination and taught me it's ok to be me. In February of 2003, i was very sad to learn of his passing, but grateful for the positive impact he's had on my life and countless others. Thank you, Mr. Rogers!  Now a final tribute to Mr. Rogers....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If You Know Someone with Depression or a Mood Disorder

This is a collection of helpful articles written for those of you out there who know someone with depression, but who may not be sure of what to say or do to help that person. It is most tempting, when you find out someone is depressed, to attempt to fix the "problem." or just sometimes it's hard to think of the right things to say.

Is Someone you Love Depressed?

The pain of seeing a loved one in the depths of clinical depression can be almost as torturous as being depressed oneself. Needless to say, our understanding of the illness and how we relate to the person is paramount to their recovery. Here are some important ways in which you can help their healing process.

1) If a friend or family member's activity and outlook on life starts to descend and stays down not just a few days, but for weeks, depression may be the cause. The first way you can be of support is to help the person to recognize that there is a problem. This is especially crucial, since many people fail to realize that they are depressed. Begin by encouraging your friend to share his or her feelings with you. Contrary to myth, talking about depression makes things better, not worse. Once it becomes clear that something is amiss, you can suggest that he or she seek professional help. (This is critical since only one third of people with mood disorders ever receive treatment.)

You can be of further support by accompanying your friend to his initial doctor's or therapist's appointment and subsequently monitoring his or her medication. In addition, explain that seeking help for depression does not imply a lack of emotional strength or moral character. On the contrary, it takes both courage and wisdom to know when one is in need of assistance.

2) Educate yourself about the illness, whether it is depression, manic depression, anxiety, etc. Learn about symptoms of the illness and how to tell when they are improving. Your feedback to the psychiatrist or therapist about how your friend is faring will help him or her to assess if a particular treatment is working.

3) Provide emotional support. Remember, what a person suffering from depression needs most is compassion and understanding. Exhortations to "snap out of it" or "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" are counterproductive. The best communication is simply to ask, "How can I be of support?" or "How can I help?"

4) Provide physical support. Often this means participating with your friend in low-stress activities-taking walks, watching movies, going out to eat-that will provide an uplifting focus. In other instances you can ease the depressed person's burden by helping with the daily routines-running errands, doing shopping, taking the kids out for pizza, cooking, vacuuming the carpet, etc.

5) Encourage your friend to make a list of daily self-care activities, and them put them into practice.

6) Monitor possible suicidal gestures or threats. Statements such as "I wish I were dead," "The world would be better off without me," or "I want out" must be taken seriously. The belief that people who talk about suicide are only doing it for the attention is just plain wrong. If the person you care about is suicidal, make sure that his or her primary care doctor is informed. Don't be afraid to talk with the person about his or her suicidal feelings. Meanwhile, hold on to the possibility that your loved one will get better, even if he or she does not believe it.

7) Don't try to talk the depressed person out of their feelings, even if they are irrational. Suppose the depressive says, "My life is a failure," "Life is not worth living," or "All is hopeless." Telling him he is wrong or arguing with him will only add to his demoralized state. Instead, you might want to say, "I'm sorry that you are feeling so bad. What might we do right now to help you feel better?"

8) Maintain a healthy detachment. You may become frustrated when your well-meaning advice and emotional reassurance are met with resistance. Do not take your loved one's pessimism personally-it is a symptom of the illness. When the light you shine is sucked into the black hole of depression, you may become angry or disgusted. Direct your frustration at the illness, not the person. People who suffer from depression complain that their families' resentment over their condition often leads to neglect or outright hostility.

9) If prayer is something that he/she believes in than encourage them to do so. Prayer goes directly to a person's unconscious where it will not meet the negative thinking so commonly found in depression.

10) Establish communication with other people in the person's support network-e.g., family members, friends, physicians, therapists, social workers, clergy, etc. By talking to other caregivers, you will obtain additional information and perspective about the depressed person. If possible, arrange for all of the caregivers to meet together in one room for a brainstorming/support session. In this way, you will be working as part of a team-and not in isolation.

11) Take good care of yourself and your needs. It is easy to get immersed in your friend's care and lose your own sense of self. You may also experience "contagious depression"-i.e., taking on the other person's depressive symptoms-or you may get your own issues triggered. Here are some ideas on how to "inoculate" yourself so that you can stay centered enough to truly help:

- Take good care of your body. Make sure that you are getting adequate food and rest.

- Find a safe place to process your feelings. In the role of being a caregiver, you may feel powerless, helpless, worried and scared (when you hear talk of suicide), or resentful and frustrated (at your inability to heal the pain). Or, you may fear being pushed over the precipice into your own depression. Process your frustrations and fears with a trained therapist or a friend; you will be less likely to dump your negative mood (anger, fear or sadness) on the person who is suffering. Remember, it is okay to have negative thoughts as long as you don't act on them.

- Maintain your routine as much as possible. Although you may need to adjust your work schedule or other routines to accommodate helping a depressed person, keep your life as regular as possible. Don't become so involved that you lose touch with friends and social support.

- Learn to set limits, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed by the depressed person's pain and tales of woe. To avoid burning out or experiencing hostility towards the depressed person, encourage him or her to seek professional help. Your role is that of a friend or family member, not a therapist or a medical doctor.

- Take breaks. When you start to feel emotionally or physically drained, ask other friends and support people to relieve you. Then do things to nurture yourself.

- Continue to pursue activities that bring you pleasure. Having fun will replenish you so that you can keep on giving.

- Give yourself credit for all that you are doing-and realize that you cannot do everything. No matter how much you love another person, you cannot take responsibility for his or her life. Try to distinguish between what you can control (your own responses) and what you cannot (the course of the illness). To this end, you may wish to meditate on AA's "Serenity Prayer."

- Attend support group meetings for families who are dealing with mental illness. See the bottom of the page for organizations can provide you with times and locations of such groups:

12) Finally, encourage the person you are caring for to create a support system of other caring people, or help him or her to do so. It takes a whole village to see someone through a dark night of the soul. You cannot transform the illness of depression by yourself, but you can be an integral part of the healing process

If You Know Someone Who's Depressed

Main Problems for Friends and Family

Let me start by saying that I, for one, appreciate your wishing to understand someone else's depression. I commend you for taking an interest in a very difficult subject and for wishing to help. In an indirect way, you're a victim of depression too because this illness impinges on everyone around the people who have it.
Pardon my bluntness, but there are a few things you really need to know, before you get too far into this subject.
  1. You cannot cure someone else's clinical depression. It is not just sadness which can be waved off with a few kind words. It goes far deeper than that. If you are going into this with the heroic notion that you can somehow "fix" it for your friend, spouse or relative, then you need to disavow it immediately. Operating on this assumption will only frustrate you and does no one any good.
  2. There are ups and downs in depression recovery. It is neither swift, nor steady. Your friend or relative is going to go on the decline, now and then. Don't think it's because you are failing them or they are not trying hard enough. The "roller-coaster" effect is just a part and parcel of depression.
  3. Please don't tell a depression patient that "you understand." Unless you, yourself, have experienced clinical depression, you don't. And your friend, spouse or relative knows it. It's not a bad thing; since understanding depression means having it. I'd rather that no one, anywhere, understood it. The point here is to be honest with your friend or relative and don't profess things that aren't so. Sincerity will help him or her a great deal; it will engender trust, which every depression patient has a problem with, at one time or another.
  4. No one wants to make your life miserable by being depressed. Try not to view someone else's depression as your own affliction. Rather, be grateful that you don't have clinical depression and try to realize what the other person is going through. Don't take the things your friend, spouse or relative says/does, personally. They aren't meant that way.
  5. Recovery from depression is not just a matter of taking anti-depressant medication and going to therapy. Both the depression and recovery from it can totally change a person's life. Treatment involves a lot of fundamental changes in a person. At times, you'll wonder if it's the same person you've known for so long. Believe me, it is--the depression probably hid the "real person" from your view, up to the point that he or she was diagnosed and began treatment.
  6. At times, it may seem that the person is actually pushing you away. This is very likely true. Most depression patients believe that they unduly affect those around them and will do anything to prevent that from happening. Thus, they isolate themselves from others. This kind of self-sabotage is actually a symptom of the illness itself. Don't let it overcome your relationship. Try to understand that this is often involuntary and irrational, and act accordingly
The 23 Best Things to Say to Someone Who is Depressed
Additional Contributions Are From From Individuals at the PASS Support Boards, and are used with permission

1. "I love you!"

2. "I care"

3. "You're not alone in this"

4. "I'm not going to leave/abandon you"

5. "Do you want a hug?"

6. "I love you (if you mean it)."

7. "It will pass, we can ride it out together."

8. "When all this is over, I'll still be here (if you mean it) and so will you."

9. "Don't say anything, just hold my hand and listen while I cry."

10. "All I want to do know is give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on.."

11. "Hey, you're not crazy!"

12. "May the strength of the past reflect in your future."

13. "God does not play dice with the universe." --A. Einstein

14. "A miracle is simply a do-it-yourself project." --S. Leek

15. "We are not primarily on earth to see through one another, but to see one another through"

16. "If the human brain were simple enough to understand, we'd be too simple to understand it." --a codeveloper of Prozac, quoted from "Listening to Prozac"

17. "You have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to live an ordinary life?" --from the movie "Little Women" (Marmee to Jo)

18. "I understand your pain and I empathize."

19. "I'm sorry you're in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself so you don't need to worry that your pain might hurt me."

20. "I listen to you talk about it, and I can't imagine what it's like for you. I just can't imagine how hard it must be."

21. "I can't really fully understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion."

22. "You are important to me."

23. "If you need a friend..... (and mean it)"

Additional Contributions by Individuals

24. I know I'd much rather here someone say " I may not be able to really understand all of this, but I'm trying to, and I care..." rather than pretend to understand or not even bother to appreciate the real issues...

The 99 Worst Things to Say to Someone Who is Depressed
Additional Contributions Are From From Individuals at the PASS Support Boards, and are used with permission

Some people trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they needed to hear or sometimes well meaning intentions can come off the wrong way. While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said takes away any intended benefit to the hearer and could even make them feel worse.

0. "What's your problem?"

1. "Will you stop that constant whining? What makes you think that anyone cares?"

2. "Have you gotten tired yet of all this me-me-me stuff?"

3. "You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear."

4. "But it's all in your mind."

5. "I thought you were stronger than that."

6. "No one ever said life was fair."

7. "As you get stronger you won't have to wallow in it as much."

8. "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps."

9. "Do you feel better now?" (Usually said following a five minute conversation in which the speaker has asked me "what's wrong?" and "would you like to talk about it?" with the best of intentions, but absolutely no understanding of depression as anything but an irrational sadness.)

10. "Why don't you just grow up?"

11. "Stop feeling sorry for yourself."

12. "There are a lot of people worse off than you."

13. "You have it so good, why aren't you happy?"

14. "It's a beautiful day!"

15. "You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you depressed?"

16. "What do you have to be depressed about."

17. "Happiness is a choice."

18. "You think you've got problems..."

19. "Well at least it's not that bad."

20. "Maybe you should take vitamins for your stress."

21. "There is always somebody worse off than you are."

22. "Lighten up!"

23. "You should get off all those pills."

24. "You are what you think."

25. "Cheer up!"

26. "You're always feeling sorry for yourself."

27. "Why can't you just be normal?"

28. "Things aren't *that* bad, are they?"

29. "Have you been praying/reading the Bible?"

30. "You need to get out more."

31. "We have to get together some time." [Yeah, right!]

32. "Get a grip!"

33. "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

34. "Take a hot bath. That's what I always do when I'm upset."

35. "Well, everyone gets depressed sometimes!"

36. "Get a job!"

37. "Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone."

38. "You don't look depressed!"

39. "You're so selfish!"

40. "You never think of anyone but yourself."

41. "You're just looking for attention."

42. "Have you got PMS?"

43. "You'll be a better person because of it!"

44. "Everybody has a bad day now and then."

45. "You should buy nicer clothes to wear."

46. "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

47. "Why don't you smile more?"

48. "A person your age should be having the time of your life."

49. "The only one you're hurting is yourself."

50. "You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it."

51. "This is a place of business, not a hospital." (after confiding to supervisor about my depression)

52. "Depression is a symptom of your sin against God."

53. "You brought it on yourself"

54. "You can make the choice for depression and its effects, or against depression, it's all in your hands."

55. "Get off your rear and do something." -or- "Just do it!"

56. "Why should I care?"

57. "Snap out of it, will you?"

58. "You want to feel this way."

59. "You have no reason to feel this way."

60. "Its your own fault."

61. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

62. "You're always worried about *your* problems."

63. "Your problems aren't that big."

64. "What are you worried about? You should be fine."

65. "Just don't think about it."

66. "Go Away."

67. "You don't have the ability to do it."

68. "Just wait a few weeks, it'll be over soon."

69. "Go out and have some fun!"

70. "You're making me depressed as well..."

71. "I just want to help you."

72. "The world out there is not that bad..."

73. "Just try a little harder!"

74. "Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days."

75. "You need a boy/girl-friend."

76. "You need a hobby."

77. "Just pull yourself together"

78. "You'd feel better if you went to church"

79. "I think your depression is a way of punishing us." - My mother
80. "Sh_t or get off the pot."

81. "So, you're depressed. Aren't you always?"

82. "What you need is some real tragedy in your life to give you perspective."

83. "You're a writer, aren't you? Just think of all the good material you're getting out of this."

84. This one is best executed with an evangelical-style handshake, i.e., one of my hands is imprisoned by two belonging to a beefy person who thinks he has a lot more charisma than I do: "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." This has actually happened to me. Bitten-back response: "Who are 'our'? And don't do me any favors, schmuck."

85. "Have you tried chamomile tea?"

86. "So, you're depressed. Aren't you always?"

87. "You will be ok, just hang in there, it will pass." "This too shall pass." --Ann Landers

88. "Oh, perk up!"

89. "Try not being so depressed."

90. "Quit whining. Go out and help people and you won't have time to brood..."

91. "Go out and get some fresh air... that always makes me feel better."

92. "You have to take up your bed and carry on."

93. "Why don't you give up going to these quacks (i.e., doctors) and throw out those pills, then you'll feel better."

94. "Well, we all have our cross to bear."

95. "You should join band or chorus or something. That way you won't be thinking about yourself so much."

96. "You change your mind."

97. "You're useless."

98. "Nobody is responsible for your depression."

99. "You don't like feeling that way? So, change it."

Additional Contributions from Individuals

100. "Is this your way of telling me you're depressed?" (My own mother after sharing this list with her)

101. "You can't let stressors bother you" - as if stress is the only thing contributing to my depression

102. Or ex-bf's from tuesday night - "c'mon, we ALL could use a pill or two...."

103. Turn that frown upside down (first time i ever wanted to backhand my mother)

104. Life is as only as hard as we make it

105. Life really isnt all that bad

106. If i listened to such depressing music i would be depressed too (my aunt commenting on my rock music)

107. The worst thing anyone could say (in my opinion) is "Right, are you done sobbing? I need to get laid." Closely followed by "Could you come off the Prozac because I just don't see the point in ******* you if you're gonna be like that".

108. If you just were a stronger person....

Additional Resources for Friends and Family Members

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
1 (800) 950-NAMI

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Depression and Related Affective Disorder Association

Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation

Families for Depression Awareness

DBSA Educational Materials
Free online brochures with information on a number of mood disorder-related topics. Note: Some come in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader

Healthy Minds (American Psychiatric Association) Psychiatric Disorder and Topic Information