A Token Of Support Those With Breast Cancer Will Appreciate

In 2007, there were more than 185,000 women and almost 2,000 men who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Worse, there were almost 50,000 women and 350+ men who died because of the disease. Indeed, breast cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world today. Breast cancer survivors and patients are also the people that need the most support, whether youre a loved one or even a stranger.

How to Show You Care

You dont need to spend hundreds or even thousands just to show that youre doing something to show you care and that you do support their cause. Even the simplest ways can already make a change. You can start with the following:

1. Celebrate Breast Cancer Month. October is set to be Breast Cancer Month, where the entire month is peppered with different activities that aim to provide awareness about the disease. You can opt to join the celebration of renewed life by being present during festivities, talks or symposiums. You can enjoy such things as a most eligible bachelor date auction where the funds that are raised from the even are used to further cure research.

2. Walk 60 miles. For 3 days, everyone is invited to walk 20 miles every day, in different cities all over the United States. The purpose of the walk is to educate people and the media about breast cancer, as well as to raise funds for various objectives of the organization. The money that will be raised can be used for outreach programs in such places where breast cancer is rampant. Many participants have found it easy to raise up wards of $2,000. Whats more, you can keep yourself healthy, as walking is known to be one of the best exercises.

5. Light a virtual candle. Is someone you know currently suffering from the disease? Would you like to send your well-wishes and give her strength and peace? You can light and send a virtual candle over the internet at places like The Center for Healing Arts Light A Candle to show the person support. It will definitely cost you nothing, except a few moments of your time and you can send it directly to her inbox, so you can brighten the persons day. A cheery little message or thought of solidarity with the candle will be greatly appreciated. It will not remove the illness, but it will definitely give your friend more courage to face each day, as she battles it out with breast cancer.

3. Volunteer. Surely, there are breast cancer organizations within your area, and you can apply as a volunteer. You will be the one to hand out flyers and other informative materials during campaign drives. You will be trained to conduct workshops and seminars for breast cancer awareness, or your help may be needed when there are outreach programs and services that need to be conducted. If you have sufficient educational background, you can even help in the research of the best cures and treatment for it. Being a volunteer doesnt have to take all your time. You can spend as little as 1 to 4 hours for the cause.

4. Wear a pink ribbon. Pink is the color that is associated with breast cancer, and wearing the color means that you are in total support for the programs that are being upheld by breast cancer organizations. Pink could also mean shirts, watches, wristbands, to go with your ribbon, which you can wear proudly near your heart, especially during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Symptoms Of Asthma,eczema & Rashes Telling U Its Allergy Season

Preparing For Allergy & Pollen Season with Symptoms like: Asthma, Eczema, and Rashes are never fun. Weve got some great Statistics to share as well as Respiratory System & Immune System info to help you beat it!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ~ Benjamin Franklin

Every year, allergies cause untold suffering, incredible medical expense, and uncounted lost days from both work and school. Accurate statistics on the financial and social impact are impossible to gather, because that type of information is only compiled for life-threatening diseases. For that reason, major medical websites and journals contain conflicting statistics.

Allergic Disorders attack the respiratory and digestive systems, and occasionally the skin. The best-known allergies are asthma, hay fever, and eczema. Symptoms are triggered by exposure to harmless substances, such as pollen or various foods. Skin sensitivities may develop from repeated contact with a growing list of chemicals and fragrances.

What are Allergies?

Allergies are the result of inappropriate immune responses to normally harmless substances. The key insight from this statement is that allergic reactions typically represent malfunction of the immune system.

Allergic responses vary widely, from the mild, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal congestion of hay fever to more severe rashes and swelling, to the most extreme and terrifying reaction: anaphylactic shock.

Background Info on Allergies

The Immune System which includes antibodies, white blood cells, mast cells, complement proteins and other substances – defends the body against foreign invaders (referred to as antigens). However, in susceptible individuals, the immune system can overreact to certain types of antigens (called allergens), which are usually harmless to most people. The result is an allergic reaction. Some people are allergic to only one substance; others are allergic to many. It is estimated that one third of the people in United States have some form of allergy.

Its estimated that more than 20 million Americans suffer from Asthma. Asthma is also very closely linked to allergies. Allergy induced asthma is the most common form of asthma in the United States; in fact, 60% of people with asthma have the allergic type.

Even more disturbing, the incidence of asthma in children has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years. Adult an childhood asthma have increased from approximately 6.7 million cases in 1980, to 17.3 million cases in 1998, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly one in 13 children in the United States has asthma, and this percentage is growing faster in preschool-age children than in any other category.

Hay fever is the most common form of allergy, affecting about 30% of the population. Starting with the pollen season, tens of millions of Americans suffer between April and late Fall, while they consume more than $6 BILLION dollars of antihistamine and corticosteroid nasal sprays.

The FDA recall of childrens decongestant is a potent reminder that the pharmaceutical management of colds and allergies involves risk and unpredictable results.

Medscape.com is the medical reporting arm of the highly esteemed WebMD website. Medscapes recent review of the FDA warning stated that these childrens products have not been shown to be safe or effective. They go on to say that: OTC cough and cold preparations commonly include nasal decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorants. These drugs can cause serious and potentially life-threatening adverse events in young children, according to an alert sent from MedWatch, the FDAs safety information and adverse event reporting program. Death, convulsion, rapid heart rates and decreased levels of consciousness have been reported.

Our Immune System

Before reviewing a natural and safe approach to allergy prevention and management, lets discuss the immune cells that are involved with allergic reactions, and ponder why they over-react to harmless particles in our environment. The humoral (or blood-based) immune system contains numerous specialized cell lines, and they choreograph an amazing array of chemical reactions. Five-credit college classes in immunology barely scratch the surface of that complexity. To make this process more accessible, lets use the simple analogy of the judicial system to outline the activities of each immune cell agent.

The first cells called to the scene of any allergic response are the Macrophages. They are like our neighborhood Policeman, roaming the streets of your body, investigating everything they come in contact with. When they detect an invader, like a virus or bacteria (antigen), they signal the T-cells for assistance.

T-Cells are the Detectives of the body. They determine if the antigen should be arrested. When and if they do, they signal the B-Cells, who play the part of the Prosecuting Attorney.

The B-Cell prepares their case, by producing specialized proteins called immunoglobins (Ig), which then attach to the antigens like handcuffs.

Once the antigen has been found guilty of the crime of infection, they are surrendered to the Mast Cells, who represent the Executioners of the body. They produce histamine, which destroys the criminal antigens by disrupting their cell membrane.

Once released, histamine causes airway constriction in the lung, over-production of mucous, and system-wide symptoms of pain, swelling and itching. Histamine also stimulates the increased release of stomach acid, and overproduction of the neurotransmitters that cause muscle spasm. Thats a lot of havoc in the body!

Tune in for our next article where well define what causes Immune System dysfunction and specific steps you can take to build and support YOUR Immune System so it always performs at its best.

Triptorelin Can Maintain Fertility For The Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women in most of countries. According to statistics, the incidence rate in population is 7-10% of various malignant tumors in the body. Its often hereditary disease. And 40-60 years old, postmenopausal women before and after With a higher prevalence. Only about 1-2% of breast patients were male. It is a malignant tumorusually begin to come on Glandular tissue in the breast. it is one of the most common malignant tumor, serious impact on womens health and even life-threatening. Male breast cancer is rare.

A study in Italy last year showed that a new drug triptorelin can reduce the risk of menopause for patients who received chemotherapy. Triptorelin is a new drug for treating patients with pelvic endometriosis after conservative operation.

The researchers made their findings after studying the patients with breast cancer, but They are not post-menopausal. Before chemotherapy, during chemotherapy and a year later, These women were randomly taking triptorelin or placebo. The researchers found that there are over 25% of women entering menopause, but the The triptorelin group is less than 9%. The researchers believe the new drug to treat breast cancer patients with fertility, especially post-menopausal patients.

Triptorelin, a decapeptide (pGlu-His-Trp-Ser-Tyr-D-Trp-Leu-Arg-Pro-Gly-NH2), is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH agonist) used at the acetate or pamoate salts. By causing constant stimulation of the pituitary, it decreases pituitary secretion of gonadotropins luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Like other GnRH agonists, triptorelin may be used in the treatment of hormone-responsive cancers such as prostate cancer or breast cancer, precocious puberty, estrogen-dependent conditions (such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids), and in assisted reproduction. Triptorelin is marketed under the brand names Decapeptyl (Ipsen) and Diphereline and Gonapeptyl (Ferring Pharmaceuticals). In the United States, it is sold by Watson as Trelstar. During the treatment of prostate cancer it does cause a surge of testosterone (an initial uplevel of testosterone levels), known as a flare effect. In men a reduction of serum testosterone levels into the range normally seen after surgical castration occurs approximately two to four weeks after initiation of therapy. In contrast, gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists do not cause a surge, but a sudden reduction of testosterone levels. Systematic IUPAC Name: [d-Trp6]GnRH.

Indian Spices May Help Cure Cancer

According to Indian origin doctors based in US, kitchen spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, saffron, and capsicum known for their culinary versatility could be a powerful weapon to fight certain pathogens that can cause cancer.

Dr Shrikant Anant of the University of Kansas Medical Centre, US stated, Over the last 10 years, almost every academic institution and industrial group in the United States has started researching on the cancer-fighting properties of natural substances. Primarily, Indian-American doctors are involved in this, followed by Chinese and Koreans.”

Anti-cancer properties of curcumin and saffron
Laboratory research on animals suggests that curcumin (a derivative of the spice turmeric) has potent anticancer properties.

Now, researchers have launched the first phase of human trials to find out just how powerful it may be.

The researchers are also conducting experiments to determine whether the natural spices are effective in inhibiting cancerous tumors in isolation or when combined with existing therapy.

Lead researcher Dr Shrikanth Anant, professor of cancer research, University of Kansas stated, “Cancer is a complex disease. No therapy is a silver bullet. It has to be a combination. So, we’re looking at options that can make treatment more effective.

Meanwhile, Dr Animesh Dhar, associate professor in gastroenterology at the University of Kansas Medical Centre, is testing saffron for pancreatic cancer.

The studies on rodents revealed that orally administered crocetin, a natural carotenoid dicarboxylic acid found in saffron, appeared not only to slow the progression of the disease but also decreased the size of the tumor by half.

Dr Animesh Dhar stated, Crocetin a compound found in saffron, which has cancer-fighting properties was extensively used in ancient Chinese and Egyptian medicine.

Explaining further, he added, Our experiments on small animals have shown that Crocetin prevents proliferation of cancer cells. We are waiting for permission from the government to carry out clinical trials.

A herbal potion BIRM for prostate cancer
In addition, Addanki P Kumar of University of Texas Health Science Centre and Dr Bal Lokeshwar from the University of Miami have claimed success in reducing prostate cancer tumors by using a herbal potion extracted from the roots of Bryophyllum, known as BIRM.

Lokeshwar stated, We conducted an experiment by injecting mice with cancerous cells and treated a few of them with BIRM for 28 days, while others were left untreated. In mice treated with BIRM, the size of the tumour reduced from 100 units to 50, while in the untreated, the tumour grew from 100 to 250 units.

Blood Test To Predict Risk Of Heart Disease For Diabetics

Diabetes has long been regarded as a risk factor of heart disease. The specific relationship between the two was unclear although diabetes is known to double the risk of heart disease. As a result, many people living with diabetes have to monitor their health for well-known risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Despite the fact that the role of blood sugar levels in managing their risk of developing cardiovascular disease remains as a big unknown, diabetics are still advised to achieve a well-controlled level of blood sugar.

In 2004, researchers from United States revealed that a new blood test (at that time) can predict risk of developing heart disease for people with diabetes.

Two separate studies had suggested that people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes should regularly take the hemoglobin A1c test, on top of their regular checks of blood sugar. The HA1c test looks for glycated hemoglobin, also called glycosylated hemoglobin, and is a measure of how well blood sugar is controlled.

In one study, the researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reanalyzed the data from 13 studies involving nearly 10,000 people from North America and Europe, and found that those with higher levels had much higher risks of heart and artery disease.

Being published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the research reported that 1 percent point increase in HA1c predicted an 18 percent increase in risk for total cardiovascular disease and a 28 per cent risk for peripheral vascular disease (clogged arteries in the legs).

Similar results were found in the second study. The researchers from the Cambridge University and Britain’s Medical Research Council studied 10,030 people aged between 45 and 79 for 6 years. They found that a 21 percent increase in cardiovascular events such as heart attack, for every 1 percent point increase in hemoglobin A1c above 5 percent. Persons with HA1c concentrations less than 5 percent had the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. This was true even when patients were older and fatter and regardless of blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

In conclusion, the 2 studies clearly prove that the glycosylated hemoglobin level is an independent progressive risk factor for incident cardiovascular events, regardless of diabetes status. Glycosylated hemoglobin level can be added to the list of other clearly established indicators of cardiovascular risk, such as blood pressure and cholesterol level.

America’s Most Trusted Doctor Reveals … How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease – Without Drugs or Surgery. Read more about his confession at: http://www.howtopreventheartdisease.com/heart-disease-prevention-dr-robert-article.html

Some Doctors Need More Of A Challenge To Continue Practicing Medicine

A doctor decides to swap his medical practice for a corporate office. Many report that the practice of private medicine has just become too boring and routine. He claims that his job had turned into a ‘question and answer’ job.

He had enjoyed more complex aspects of the medical profession, such as obstetrics and surgery, but his group had to stop such treatments because of expensive malpractice insurance. He was no longer a physician, but merely a conduit between the patient and a specialist.

That same physician is now working for a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in New Jersey as assistant medical development director. Many bored physicians have found their desired challenge in the corporate world and more are following this example. They all have something in common – they’ve grown weary of the same old stresses of private practice, like struggling for grants to pay for research and insurance and government interference in medical practices.

Some cities, are eager to improve the physician’s role and provide improved product safety and employee care. Although they remain in the medical area of the corporate world, the jobs offered in drug research or occupational health are just too enticing.

Doctors can make salaries that exceed what is possible in a private practice. Some of the perks to being a corporate doctor include a 9 to 5 work schedule, travel, malpractice insurance paid by the company, time off given for studies or teaching, and a complete benefit package that’s quite competitive with private practice income.

Still, corporate physicians make up less than two percent of the entire physician population in the United States. You will find there is also a huge amount of occupational physicians, these doctors will cover anything from employee health to the safety of a workplace and product.

You will find no shortage of doctors in these jobs, as there are over 10,000 reported. Other doctors are working in pharmaceuticals, while many thousands choose to work as underwriters and claims consultants for insurance companies.

One of the most common positions sought out by doctors looking for a change is the role of chief medical director for insurance companies. Once established in private practice, it is not uncommon for doctors to take other positions to bring in more money. One doctor opted for a position working part time for a restaurant chain.

He worked at an incredibly demanding pace as he would, each hour, examine up to 60 food handlers. Although he was reluctant to give up his practice, he would later become the medical director of two movie studios. This position offered him greater opportunities; the patient wasn’t responsible for paying so he could treat them without limit and he could practice preventative medicine.

Many private physicians see themselves as automatons faced with ever-increasing obstacles in their quest for a viable business. The perception was that of a physician who handed out pills, wrapped bandages and provided care to those who were not really in need of medical attention.

The corporate physician has new influence and respectability, as attitudes, as well as laws, have changed regarding occupational and product safety. According to the medical director of a large telecommunications company based in New York, this changing view is great.

Younger doctors will find corporation work giving them as well, if not better, than any place else. The reason older doctors would take the corporate road is because they had made enough money to take the pay cut. These corporate physicians stand behind their decision because the benefits that come along with the job are so much better than in private practice.

In the past private practice doctors looked down on occupational medicine. It is the opinion of some of those in corporate practice to believe that private practice physicians envy them.

It seems that the corporate doctors who decided against practicing medicine altogether are the ones who made the most money. One example of this is of a doctor who never once practiced medicine, and is a multimillionaire at the age of 78. He earned his first million by revamping his father’s pharmaceutical company while he was still in medical school.

Upon graduation, this doctor purchased a surplus army field hospital and administered to the Ural Mountain region of the former Soviet Union where the populace was afflicted by famine. It was there that he discovered it was food, instead of medicine, that was most needed so he began importing grain and making new trade contacts that turned out to be steps into his new career.

Vintage Chenille Collecting

Chenille is the French word for caterpillar. When it comes to textiles, the word chenille indicates a quality where raised tufts of yarn from the base fabric create the look and feel of a caterpillar. Chenille bedspreads, bathrobes, curtains and other items were particularly in vogue from the early to mid 20th century in the United States. Though chenille bedspreads and other items are still manufactured to this day, collecting vintage chenille is rising in popularity.

Chenille bedspread production can trace its roots to an earlier American fashion: candlewicking. Candlewicking was a form of embroidery popular in colonial times where white candlewick threading was used to make designs on muslin sheets, particularly for bedspreads. Now fast forward to 1892 when a young girl by the name of Catherine Evans visited a relative in McCuffy, GA who showed her one of these ancient candlewick spreads. Catherine was fascinated by it and when she returned home to Whitfield County, she endeavored to imitate the spread with her own handiwork.

Using a thicker yarn and a higher pile, Catherines creative twist on candlewicking was dubbed chenille. She gave one of her first chenille bedspread creations as a wedding gift in 1917 and it was such a hit that she soon found herself sewing one chenille bedspread after another for $2.50 apiece. To meet the demand, she got family and friends involved in making these bedspreads which gave rise to a whole cottage industry around Dalton, GA. These first chenille bedspreads, made by hand, are referred to today by collectors as cottage chenille bedspreads.

Manufacturing eventually replaced the cottage industry. The first chenille bedspread mass producer was Cabin Crafts in Dalton, GA. Following suit was Retrac of Chattanooga, TN. Established textile manufacturers who got in on the rising chenille fad were Morgan Jones, Bates, and Hofmann. These are all names that collectors look for today.

Two main variations in the way chenille textiles are made are referred to as needletuft and hobnail. Needletuft chenille has a high and loose tuft whereas hobnail has a small compact tuft. Tufting where the ends of the yarn are clipped to create that caterpillar feel is simple referred to as chenille.

At the crescendo of their popularity, from the 30s to 50s, vintage chenille bedspreads were made in all different colors, styles, and patterns. One of the most popular patterns, and highly sought after today, is that of a peacock. The popcorn style and the George and Martha Washington style are also highly sought after.

Collecting vintage chenille is a fun connection to the past but it is also GREEN! Actually using these antique bedspreads is a form of recycling. They can also be repurposed as furniture covers, curtains, bath robes, etc. The possibilities are limitless.

Chemotherapy Is Hardly The Cure For Cancer!

Its quite interesting and enlightening to know more about the cancer industry, and how the system really works. This is based on documented statistics from medical journals that are seldom seen by the public, interviews with MDs, Naturopaths and thousands of cancer patients. Most of the patients out there are searching for answers like you.They have spent thousands of dollars on chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery and still no results! Infact, they feel worse than ever- they are dying . Apart from the horrendous side effects, even the doctors will tell you that radiation and chemotherapy will probably cause cancer to re-occur in a few years. Keep in mind that although doctors have your best interests at heart, 80% oncologists will never go for chemotherapy for themselves or their loved ones since they know it is poison and one of the most lethal medicines one can use. The FDA stipulates that only conventional drugs or medical treatment can cure cancer. This way there can never be a genuine cure for cancer as there are handsome profits to be made. Even medical schools, journals and staff salaries are funded by the pharmaceutical companies. Unfortunately, for oncology students in conventional medical schools, successful, low-cost and non-toxic, cancer treatments are unknown to them since it provides competition to everything they represent.. Oncology students go into medicine to help fight cancer. How can they see their patients die? The War on Cancer was doomed from the beginning —now it’s Lost. For those of you who are confused, frustrated, worried, or just plain scared, be assured, that there are safe, clinically proven natural cancer cure methods that can get you immediate results! Natural ways to cure cancer are popular because they enable the body to cure itself of cancer. It can be carried out at home; works with even advanced cancer and is one hundred percent natural. Thousands of European doctors have used it to heal a large number of patients for a 100 years. The problem is that neither the general public or conventional doctors want to hear about them. This is disheartening since this year too, one in two men and one woman in three, in the United States, will be detected with some sort of cancer. There are several very simple steps you need to take. And when you know what these are, you can use natural cancer cures so you can boost your immune system learning which foods are the very best for your specific type of cancer. Research from around the world has defined new categories of food that will show you how to reverse your cancer in just 6-8 weeks.. Remember, natural cancer cures are very effective only when you put the right food plan in place; otherwise you will just be wasting a lot of money on the wrong supplements, organic foods and herbal teas.

Just like everything else in nature, curing cancer has everything to do with creating a healthy balance among oncogenes (that cause cells to divide) and suppressor genes (that stop the divide). . Did you know that quietly, behind the scenes, millions of people around the world have successfully treated cancer for decades using low cost, natural, alternative cancer treatments alone?

So why today, inexpensive, alternate medicine remains ignored by the conventional medical system. Hopefully, the Internet information explosion will finally force the powerful drug industry to change.

This article is not intended to lessen the sincere efforts put in by thousands of researchers who toil away in an effort to find the right cure but to enlighten the suffering millions that there are many other time-tested ways to cure cancer. And with that, there is hope.

R.P.Bhalla is a retired airline captain and wild life enthusiast. Based on extensive research he writes regularly on Health and Relationship issues. http://truth-about-cancer.info http://nature-cancer-cure.info

http://natural-diet-solution Info

Alternative Medicine and It’s Use in Natural Pain Management

Chronic Pain conditions are a growing problem in the United States. And while the debate still rages about whether or not chronic pain should be managed as a separate condition or just a symptom of another problem it is clear that pain management has become a booming segment of the healthcare industry.

Consequently, the use of pharmaceutical drugs for pain control has also reached an all time high. Drugs like Oxicontin, Vicodin and methadone, are front page news in causing America’s latest drug crisis, as a result, the use of cocaine and heroin have also reached levels not seen in this country in 30 years.

Due to the economic and scientific phenomena of the pharmaceutical revolution of the 20th century, thousands of years of knowledge were suddenly abandoned. Herbal medicine has safely and effectively treated pain for millennia, and is for safer than the synthesized, processed medications that today’s doctors seem to be all too willing to hand out like so much candy.

In the realm of alternative medicine, there are many forms of natural pain management that are in fact, the basis of where many of our oh-so-popular pharmaceutical drugs come from.

Codeine and morphine are opium derivatives that may be effective but are also highly addictive, and even aspirin is a derivative of willow bark. Many other plants have been used in natural pain management since antiquity, such as lavender and chamomile for minor pain issues and these plants have the added benefit of also assisting with the emotional component of pain such as anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Plants like henbane and mandrake are so effective that they are even used very effectively during labor to ease the pain of childbirth.

Some wonderful and powerful herbal medicine can also be found in the spice cabinet. Spices like turmeric, and ginger are two of the most powerful anti- inflammatories on the planet. These plants are natural COX-2 inhibitors; they are the alternative medicine answer to the popular pharmaceutical drugs Celebrex and Vioxx. In the middle east, India and all over Asia where the diets are rich in spices like turmeric, and ginger and cayenne, where life is also far less convenient then our own, people have a far less occurrence of arthritis and chronic back pain, and continue to work very labor intensive jobs such as farming and agriculture work even into their 90’s.

There has always been an accepted school of thought in allopathic medicine that it is acceptable to injure one part of the body to heal another, thus even common over the counter NSAID pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can cause long term damage, acetaminophen to the liver and ibuprofen to the kidneys, in natural pain management many plants, roots, barks, and other herbs not only antistetic in nature but they are also anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic as well, and herbal medicine is gentler on the system and is more synergistic with the body allowing for greater absorption of the necessary constitutes.

So you see that alternative medicine goes beyond the typically accepted ideal of treating just the symptoms and goes farther to treat many of the underlying causes as well as some of the other components involved in chronic pain conditions.

How To Stop The Runaway Train Of Mental Illness By Betty Byrd

One in six adults and nearly one in ten children in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder. Yet, there remains a stigma associated with being bipolar and being related to someone who is. Never mind that Edgar Allen Poe was bipolar or that President Theodore Roosevelt was too. Or that people with bipolar disorder can lead extraordinary and meaningful lives. Look at Winston Churchill, Virginia Wolf, and Rosemary Clooney. No matter how talented or famous someone is, if they’re in a situation dictated by mental illness, it can at times feel like a runaway train. Jim Carey and Robert Downey, Jr. know what it’s like, so do Robin Williams, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Ben Stiller.
Dealing with a mentally ill family member is anything but a cakewalk. I should know. My mother, a Christian Science fanatic, refused to take medication to manage her sickness. During my formative years, I lived through extremes; from minute to minute I didn’t know what she might do. My childhood was spent being tossed around like a ping-pong ball. At sixteen, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist reluctantly told me to leave home and never look back because I was living in an incurable situation. Sadly, I hit the road, riddled with pot holes, lacking any parental advice. During those formative years I didn’t have a choice, but now, in 2011, things are beginning to change.

I went on to become an actress and later a novelist. I took it to heart when I read that Ernest Hemingway said, “A writer’s style should be direct and personal” For me, it’s therapeutic to write about the disease that robbed me of my mother and stole any chance I may have had to enjoy a normal childhood. I use larger-than-life characters on a backdrop of big oil and big tracts of land to show life on high octane, which, in my experience, is what it’s like to live with the ups and downs of mental illness.

One of my main characters, Olivia Harrison has a history of undisclosed schizophrenia. My novel, Utopia, Texas, shows the terrifying ramifications on a family whose young daughter’s problem goes untreated. Some call the book, which is a stand-alone sequel to my first novel, Trinity’s Daughter, a riveting tale. The character of Maggie Harrison is fashioned after me. Olivia is my mother. Olivia’s mother, Brya, is actually the novel’s protagonist. I use my books as a tool to educate others about what it’s like to live with mental illness, and if not treated it can be devastating to all involved.

As a member of the International Bipolar Foundation, I’m on a mission to try to help erase the stigma associated with this dreaded disease which often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. What’s missing in the equation is proper education, but through advancement of research, medication and support services life can begin to stay on track. Having been one of those children affected, I’m committed to encouraging family members to openly discuss mental illness so that healing can begin.

Currently, I’m working with organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the United States. Through public education, I hope the shame associated with mental illness will be erased. For many, the stigma can be as great a challenge as the disease itself. For people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, their life is like trying to navigate an unstoppable train-one that’s prone to skipping tracks and changing depots on a quick whim. There is no stopping this locomotive, but it can be slowed down in hopes of reaching a more positive destination.