Sunday, January 15, 2006

The secret is out...finally!

This is a nice story written special to the Chicago Tribune, by Irene Levine a well-respected freelance journalist. Click through the site above to read it, with free registration required.

(brief excerpt here)

..."A recent addition to the landscape is a new quarterly glossy magazine bp (bipolar) Magazine ( with the tag line: "the healthy living magazine for bipolar." Tucked between its covers are celebrity profiles, tips for coping and research updates.

In her own effort to tackle the stigma and misinformation that keep many from seeking help, Duke has just launched a Web log and an Online Center for Mental Wellness . And with the availability of improved treatments for mental illnesses, both pharmacological and psychosocial, Duke's timing couldn't be any better.

"For people with bipolar disorder who are shy or embarrassed about their illness, a blog or message board can literally be a lifesaver," said Karen Sheaffer, 41, of Ephrata, Pa. Sheaffer has been able to work as a psychiatric technician at the same hospital for 17 years, but she has had plenty of ups and downs. "Every day I struggle with issues related to being bipolar. What I'm learning is that many of those issues: work conflicts, relationship issues and problems with sleep are things that every other person deals with at some time," Sheaffer said. "The difference is one of degree."

Jessica Lynn Gimeno, 21, of Des Plaines is in her junior year at Northwestern University. She was only 14 when she was diagnosed. "I had a strong intuition that my emotions were erratic," Gimeno said. "I had done some research on bipolar disorder. Even when I lost friends due to the illness, I refused to get help," she said.

"The Web site gives people the privacy to ask burning questions without being subjected to stigma," Gimeno said. "Patty makes it clear that bipolar disorder is a real illness, a chemical imbalance.""

Gene linked to bipolar disorder


SYDNEY, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- "Australian researchers found those with a gene linked to being bipolar, or manic-depressive, are twice as likely to develop the disease.

Scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney and University of New South Wales, have discovered the first risk gene specifically for bipolar disorder.

"We are the first group in the world to take a multi-faceted approach to identify a bipolar risk gene -- we used a number of families, unrelated patients, and therapeutic drug mouse models. Each of these three lines of investigation led us to a gene called FAT," said lead author Dr. Ian Blair."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

One call, four continents

This isn't going to be a post that enlightens, educates, or links to anything. This evening we had the first conference call sponsored by the Patty Duke Online Center for Mental Wellness.

We had initially intended to email the blog group and get a few people on the call to work out the kinks, understand how to use the conference call technology, and think through how to roll out a call series that would continue to shed light on mental health.

I figured if we announced it on Monday without too much fanfare we'd have a few folks who noticed and would join us to chat for a while.

I had no idea that we would hit 100 participants and that I'd have to institute a waiting list that grew bigger than I had conceived of.

We had people from the US, from Canada, from Australia, and yes, God bless her, we had an RSVP for the call from Mother Country Ireland!! Don't know if the nutty time difference found her on the call or not, but to get a response from four continents tells us the need, the desire, and the passion for information, support, and love on the topic of mental health and Bipolar in particular are huge.

Thank you everyone who participated in tonight's call!

I learned a lot, chief among the lessons is that I need to manage time better so that I don't have to rush the end of the call so as to avoid a cutoff! I apologize to those who might have thought the end was abrupt - you should know that the entire call was unscripted and raw and we'll try to give a little more notice next time!

Anyway, thanks to all who participated, and we are hoping to make this call, and all future calls, available to friends of the wellness center online. We have technical hurdles to overcome, but we're working on it, and I assure you that every media that becomes available Patty asks us to be sure to deploy the information out!

We welcome your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and OFFERS OF HELP WITH CONTENT with great relish.

Happy new year, thanks, and God Bless!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Teens Screened for Mental Health

Bainbridge Island Review

By RHONA SCHWARTZ Staff Writer, Jan 11 2006

"School, health district officials hope to steer youths away from self-destructive behavior.

"For three years, Leigh Manheim has canvassed tirelessly for a way to identify high school teens who harbor suicidal thoughts. Today – as Bainbridge High School becomes the first school in Kitsap County to offer TeenScreen, a program designed to help prevent suicides and identify other mental health concerns in teens – she is happy the community has achieved that goal.

"'Leigh’s insistence and the support of the school board, the high school, Kitsap health district and Kitsap Mental Health made this possible,' said Clayton Mork, assistant superintendent of Instructional Support Services for the Bainbridge Island School District. 'I am so pleased that this is taking place. A lot of good things have come from it.'

"Developed at Columbia University, TeenScreen is a voluntary survey that indicates 'the likelihood that a teen is at risk for suicide or may be suffering from another mental disorder, such as general anxiety, manic depression, eating disorders or obsessive compulsive behavior,' said Kelly Chatwood, whose position as the Kitsap County Health District’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator was established by Dr. Scott Lindquist, Kitsap Health District director."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Join Patty Duke in a special telephone conference call this Friday!

Join Patty Duke in a special telephone conference call this Friday!

Patty is involved in several new projects and initiatives – most notably a new phase of her ongoing efforts to help people who cope with mental illness. She will share some personal stories and details of current projects during this live telephone event – this event is happening under the auspices of the Patty Duke Online Center for Mental Wellness, and the public is invited. We do encourage an RSVP since there will be only 100 lines available. You can RSVP by email at: - please type "RSVP" in the subject line.

During this call you will have the opportunity to:
* Learn more about Patty’s activities with her Online Center for Mental Wellness;
* Hear stories from real people who’ve written in to Patty and her thoughts and encouragement; and
* Send an email with questions before and during the call for Patty to answer.

The call will be co-hosted by founder of the Dream Roundup and Let’s Save America Campaign for Financial Literacy, Bradley Dugdale. This call will be held January 13th and is open only to the first 100 people who respond to this invitation. To reserve your place in this event simply reply to this e-mail and we will send you the dial-in number and other details about the call.
Dream Roundup

Date: Friday, January 13, 2006
Start time: 8:15 pm Eastern / 7:15 pm Central / 6:15 pm MTN / 5:15 pm Pacific (dial in 5 to 10 minutes early)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Commentary - Sadness, Gladness--and Serotonin

A thoughtful review/essay on two recently released books about Depression in general and BiPolar in particular.

"These days, psychiatrists tend to treat mental illness as principally an affliction not of the mind but of the brain—a condition, that is, marked by a deficiency or excess of certain neurochemicals, which medication can restore to healthy levels. The pill has replaced the couch as the therapeutic instrument of first resort.

Ever since the usefulness of some of the most important psychoactive drugs was discovered by serendipity—doctors could see that the drugs worked without knowing why—clinical practice has remained several large steps ahead of neurobiological theory. But the theory is catching up, and its influence on the culture at large will surely be as momentous as Freudian theory was during the last century. Two recent books, by distinguished professors of psychiatry writing for a lay audience, introduce the reader to the latest developments in the field. They also provoke far-reaching questions about the new world into which the innovations are taking us."

Commentary Magazine Online