Doll Therapy for Depression, Grief, and Alzheimer’s?

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So, as I said the other day, right now I am in a doll phase, specifically reborn dolls, which are dolls that are made to look and feel more like real infants. While I’ve been surfing the internet reading about these dolls and looking at pics of the ones available, I have also come across several articles about using these dolls as legitimate therapy, which is something I hadn’t even considered.

One article was about reborn dolls being used as therapy with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. In certain nursing homes they have done studies where they used these life-like dolls to treat anxiety and depression in patients and found that the dolls greatly helped with both of those problems, even making it so that many of the patients no longer needed psychotropic medications.

Interestingly, the article said the therapy works the best if the patient is introduced to the doll while they are still coherent enough to know the doll is not real. I found that rather fascinating. For many of these patients, over time they become truly attached to the dolls and do often start to think they are real babies, but that is understandable given their medical condition.

Another article I read spoke about the therapeutic effect these dolls have had for some parents who have lost small children of their own or who had stillbirths/miscarriages. Some of these grief-stricken parents have even had dolls made to look exactly like the child they lost, which strikes me as truly sad, but if it helps them work through their grief, I think that is a good thing. I do wonder though if some of them may actually end up obsessing over the loss to an unhealthy extent, but to tell the truth, I’m not sure the loss of a child is something you could ever truly get over anyhow.

What do you think about these dolls being used as therapy? Does it seem creepy or weird to you? Or do you think it is a great idea?

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Back Pain Troubles

Not feeling very good today. A lot of it has to do with physical stuff. My back has been really messed up for a few days now. I’m not sure if it is the degenerative disc disease or the slipped disc causing the awful pain in my neck and back, but it is starting to take a toll on my mental health too. I find that even when you are doing fairly well mentally, that if you are in chronic pain, it is almost impossible to keep your mood high.

I did hear back from our health insurance that they approved my epidural shots for my slipped disc, but I have to pay hundreds up front for the deductible, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to afford that. I’m also quite nervous about getting the shots anyhow. Having a needle stuck into my spine is scary.

Flaking Out Due to Sickness

Yesterday I was supposed to go to therapy, but I was feeling really sick and ended up calling off. Whenever I have to do that, I always end up feeling bad, like it is my fault that I have these health problems and often have to cancel appointments or activities.

Honestly, nowadays I don’t even schedule much of anything outside of medical appointments because I would rather not plan anything than have to feel like I’m letting myself or others down if I’m too sick, depressed, or anxious to go. It really isn’t a fun way to live, and it frustrates me. I often feel like I’ve almost given up on living a normal life and that saddens me.

On the plus side, I am fortunate to have a supportive husband and still have a place to live and food to eat even though I am too sick to work a regular job. I really don’t know how people like me make it without support, especially since it can often take years to get any help from disability. If I had tons of money, I would spend it helping out those who are in similar predicaments, whether they struggle with autism, mental illness, physical illness, or a combination of all of the above like me.

Bulging Discs, Traction, and Pain Management

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Well, I found out yesterday that as well as having degenerative disc disease throughout my cervical and thoracic spine, I also have a bulging disc that is pressing on the nerves surrounding it and likely causing most of the excruciating upper back pain I have been experiencing for several years now. The doctor wants me to do traction therapy and then see pain management for injections and other pain modalities that might help. I’m pretty bummed about it.

On one hand, I am thankful they aren’t pushing for surgery yet, but on the other hand I know the doctor isn’t ruling it out and that kind of scares me. I know for some people traction works wonders, but for others it doesn’t. I hope it helps me. Anything that keeps me from having to be eventually sliced open is a good thing in my opinion. I figured I would share this information with an old drawing I did years ago entitled “Crick in the Neck” (pictured above). I figured it fit the subject matter well, and it was always one of my favorite drawings I’ve done. If the treatments do help the pain, it would be really good for my art and my writing, as both are hard to do when my back is acting up (since the pain shoots down into my arms as well).

Plantar Fasciitis Flare Up

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The last few days I have had a bad plantar fasciitis flare up, the worst in quite a while. I have dealt with this awful condition since I was 19 years old, so for 16 years I have dealt with chronic foot pain. I wanted to take a moment today to explain what it is really like to live with this condition, especially on bad days. Here are a few descriptions of what I go through:

  • During a flare up, it feels like every step I take, I am walking with a huge, jagged stone piercing my arch, near the heel. After a few steps like that, it starts to feel horribly bruised and I start limping badly. Sometimes it feels almost like something in the arch of my foot “drops” and the pain starts then. It is a seriously weird feeling.
  • During flare ups, I find it hard to stand long enough to do even the simplest tasks. I have to sit on the kitchen counter while waiting for my pop-tart to toast. I have to sit on the floor or my bed while brushing and flossing my teeth. Showers are out, baths are in. Massages can help sometimes, but other times even that is agonizing.
  • When the flare up is really bad, even staying off my feet doesn’t help. The burning, aching, throbbing pain is constant. I do ice it and that helps a bit to numb it, but nothing else does a thing. Often I wind up in tears because the pain is simply unbearable. I hate to have to turn to narcotic pain relievers, but sometimes do. When the pain is constant and unyielding, I find myself fighting thoughts of suicide just to make it end.
  • Unfortunately, nothing really helps but staying off my feet and giving it time. I do take NSAIDS and muscle relaxers, but they take a few days to work (if they even do work). I’ve tried cortisone shots, but they didn’t help at all. I’m not willing to chance the risky surgery that can leave you crippled for life, especially when nothing else modern medicine has had to offer has helped.
  • Even when I’m NOT having a flare up, I have to be careful, because being on my feet more than a half an hour to an hour at a time can cause a flare up to occur. Even a day of regular grocery shopping can cause a flare up because of being on my feet too much. It truly is an intensely disabling condition for some people like me.

Bipolar and Medicine Problems

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It seems that there is this stereotype about Bipolar patients not wanting to take their medicine or stopping medicine without consulting a doctor. However, like most stereotypes, perhaps there is some truth to it. I personally have Bipolar type 2 and often find myself wondering, “Do I really need these medications?” or “Are these medications actually helping or hurting me?”. Why do I wonder this? Mostly due to negative side effects. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if the cure isn’t worse than the disease at times. Weight gain, acne, digestive problems, being pushed further into depression or hypomania, anxiety, jitters, uncontrollable muscle spasms, irritability, crying spells, etc. Sometimes I really do wonder if I wasn’t better off before.

And about consulting a doctor before stopping meds, in my case at least, my psychiatrist is only able to see patients once every few months due to the shortage of psychiatrists in the area. He is EXTREMELY busy. It is unlikely I will hear from him in the interim, even if I have a question. Of course I can speak to his office staff, but that isn’t the same as actually speaking to a doctor. And even if I were to call and tell the office staff I wanted to stop taking the medicine, likely they would just request I wait until my next appointment, which may be months away. If the medicine is truly causing side effects I can’t stand or making me feel worse, why would I want to endure that for months before making a change?

I am not writing this post to encourage anyone to go off their meds or anything like that. I believe strongly in listening to medical advice, but I wanted to explain to those who are outside of the Bipolar loop why this can often become a legitimate issue. And no, right now I am not stopping my own meds, but I have been tempted many times, which makes me sympathetic to those who have.

About People Who Self-Diagnose as Autistic

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Hello everyone! So today I’m going to talk about a subject that might tick off some people, especially those who tend to hang out on Tumblr a lot. I’ve noticed that it has almost become fashionable or a cause for pride for people to research mental health or psychological conditions (or in this case a neurological condition) and then decide for themselves that they suffer from said condition. This worries me for several reasons which I will discuss here.

#1 – What if you are wrong? Put simply, many psychological conditions share almost the exact same symptoms. Even among professionals, misdiagnosis is an enormous problem in many people getting the help they need. I have no issue with people saying that they suspect that they may have autism. I just wish people wouldn’t say they have it for sure unless they have been adequately evaluated and diagnosed. I do understand that in the US at least, it can be an issue getting diagnosed because health insurance is a crap-shoot, and many people don’t even have access to regular health care, let alone psychological healthcare, but if you don’t know for sure whether you have autism, bipolar, another mood disorder, borderline, sensory integration disorder, or one of the other many conditions often misdiagnosed as autism, please don’t make definite claims.

#2 – You can actually do damage to the Aspergers or autism community. You may not think of it that way, but if you DO NOT actually have autism and yet go around claiming you do, you are likely feeding into certain stereotypes about autism that are already a problem or you are inaccurately portraying what it is like to be autistic in this world. Some of us who live with autism every single day can tend to get a little annoyed about that. Although some in the community have no issue with self-diagnosis, we are ALL different and some of us don’t like the whole self-diagnosis phenomena.

#3 – People who self-diagnose sort of have a reputation for being attention seekers. I do not think this is the case all the time, like I said, I think some of it has to do with lack of adequate healthcare, but I do believe there are a few at least that are doing it for the attention and that is really irritating.

#4 – Unfortunately, some people already see high functioning autism as a BS diagnosis, and when they see people just randomly deciding they have it without any kind of actual medical oversight, it tends to feed that destructive belief. Yes, they are the assholes to feel that way in the first place, but we don’t want to feed the assholes any more than we want to feed the trolls.

As a final note, I want to reiterate that I do not condemn people thinking or suspecting they have autism, just claiming an actual diagnosis without one. If you do suspect you may be autistic, doctors that diagnose adults can be hard to find, but they CAN be found, so don’t give up. It took me quite a while to find one who would test adults, and I only found him by contacting a professor at a local college who specializes in autism research and asking him if he knew any doctors who diagnose adults, so that might be a way for you to seek out a diagnosis as well.

Also, there are self-assessments made by professionals that can be useful in deciding if you might have autism, but they are NOT meant to be diagnostic material in themselves. However, they can help a great deal in figuring out if you might be autistic and are often used by professional doctors to assist in diagnostic criteria, so using them can be helpful in narrowing down whether you display autistic symptoms or not.