Study: No Job Better Than Bad Job

Having no job is better for your mental health than a bad job, according to a study cited by Time magazine. Read on:

Australian National University researchers looked at how various psychosocial work attributes affect well-being. They found that poor-quality jobs — those with high demands, low control over decision making, high job insecurity and an effort-reward imbalance — had more adverse effects on mental health than joblessness.

The researchers analyzed seven years of data from more than 7,000 respondents of an Australian labor survey for their Occupational and Environmental Medicine study in which they wrote:

“As hypothesized, we found that those respondents who were unemployed had significantly poorer mental health than those who were employed. However, the mental health of those who were unemployed was comparable or more often superior to those in jobs of the poorest psychosocial quality… The current results therefore suggest that employment strategies seeking to promote positive outcomes for unemployed individuals need to also take account of job design and workplace policy.”

I believe this study in that I have always thought that there was nothing suckier in this country than having a job you hate and being broke. Shudder. What do you all think?


The Syndicate: Team Spirituality

Here is the first team diary, starring baker baker, and lonespark in a supporting role.

Both of us have struggled/are struggling with mental health challenges. We touched on how faith can be a source of strength in dealing with those issues. Spiritual practices can be among the emotionally healthy habits that are disrupted when mental illness strikes, but if we to maintain those connections and practices that can be a big part of the necessary self-help and recovery.

(Really Baker baker’s diary):


In case you didn’t already know, I’m a born again follower of Jesus Christ. I’m also a first class sinner in need of God’s grace every minute of every day. But while I’ve trusted Jesus for eternal salvation, it’s in the here and now that I desperately want to have a closer relationship with Him. Over this past year, through a miscarriage and difficult pregnancy (go here if you want to read about my darkest days during that time), I’ve cried out time after time. And He delivered me so mercifully and beautifully out of that darkness. Now I’m at the point where I feel so much more mentally healthy, although I still have work to do. I’ve experienced Jesus as healer and savior, but now I feel like He’s calling me to know Him as friend. I want to know His will for my life. I want to work with Him. I want to listen, instead of my prayers being a one-sided conversation. But I’m scared. What if there is no clear direction? What if I don’t like where He’s leading me? How do I get confirmation that it’s truly Him?


My main goal is to just listen and obey, plain and simple. To accomplish that I need to be attentive to those little promptings of the spirit but I also need to set aside time for bible study, prayer and just being quiet before the Lord. My son has been going to bed much earlier these days, at 7PM. DH always does the bedtime routine and I have a good 30 or 45 minutes of peace and quiet. I feel that that’s supposed to be my quiet time. It’s very tempting to do some cleaning or turn on the TV, since that’s the first time all day I have to myself! But those things can wait. This is more important. Especially in light of everything that’s going on with my little guy, I really need to spend time seeking direction and wisdom about how to help him and what steps to take next.

Also, on the recommendation of a dear friend who spent a whole year doing a full-time intensive study of the bible, I’m reading a book called “How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth” by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. It’s really opened my eyes about how to read the bible for context and content.


Starting this week, I’m going to open my daily quiet time with half a chapter of “How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth.” As a part of that I will be studying 1 Corinthians, since that’s the first area the book explains how to study. Then I’ll spend the rest of my quiet time in prayer.

Also, I want to try to quiet the “noise” in my head that causes me to miss the still, small voice of God. I have a few ideas on how to do this, but my other goal this week is to figure out some concrete reminders to keep my mind open and receptive instead of fixated on the trivial things.

more from lonespark in comment below.


Accountabilibuddies? cont’d: The Syndicate: Creating Our Framework

So, today is the first Tuesday of the rest of my life.  And yours too.  We can identify the mountains we personally need to/want to climb, and starting charting our paths to get there.

I am going to stick with daily diaries here until we come up with something better.  And even if we do, there will probably still be periodic diaries here.  I think it’s a good home base, and new folks can find it.

I think the basic idea is like the Fitness and Training Diary for any all other life issues.  In this diary I want to keep hashing out ideas.  I see the series continuing in some form for quite a while.  Tomorrow I’d like to do more of a check-in.  I’ll probably be updating this diary several times to improve it.  

Things we should have:

Goals: Everybody should identify one or two or five goals that they have right now.  Things to achieve, problems to solve, demons to battle, habits to make or break…there’s a big range.  I’ll probably add some examples later, or y’all can in the comments.

Check-in: This is something we already do on this site in open threads etc.  But this would be 1. Touch base with your status as regards your specific goals, and 2. Specifically be responsible to each other.  

If you don’t check in within a range of time you said you would, someone will check up on you, whether it be through Facebook or email or phone or standing on your porch.  To see if you are ok, need a certain kind of help.  That sounds intrusive…I want to make it a range of how personal it would be depending on people’s comfort levels, so bring your thinky-thoughts for how to do that.

Buddies: Probably one for each participant.  And maybe a backup/alternate?  

Networking/Knowledge sharing: There’s a lot of great expertise and experience around this place. We don’t want people working professionally for free, but there are many problems that can get solved or improve with some MT heads together.

No Judging!: I think we have this pretty well down most of the time.  Don’t judge other people, their goals, their methods, their timing.  If you have a buddy and they don’t respond like you’d hoped, complain and get the problem fixed or get a new buddy, but let’s try really hard not to hold any hiccups against each other.  

And DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF.  Don’t compare yourself unfavorably to others, to your younger self or your original 10-year plan.  Everybody here is a fantastic person.  You may not feel good or be in a good situation.  But you are still worthwhile and awesome and loved.

Wednesday’s diary will be late.
I have to go pick up the kids and feed them.  

I was thinking that the rest of the week would involve 1. People continuing to sign up and decide goals,  2. Checking in about where you in relation to your goals, how confident you feel about moving toward them, and what kind of help and support you need that we can provide or help you seek out, which might lead to …3. Starting to select buddies and work out how you can help each other, and 4. Setting up a schedule for folks who want to do full diaries, although maybe that should wait for next week.


It’s been a while

Wow.  I hadn’t realized it had been quite so long since I’ve posted anything.  A lot has happened in the time between my first and second diary entries

We have an 8-year-old in the house now.  She’s gotten a lot more outgoing, has some very good friends (in fact, we hosted about 5 of them for her birthday 2 weeks ago), and still loves school.  DD gets her math skills from her other mother, and her love of reading from all of us.  Her reading skills – and interest – have really taken off in the past year.  Her favorite books seem to be series: Judy Moody, the Puppy Palace series, and Bunnicula.  I can’t tell you how happy Bunnicula in particular has made me, but I want her to be able to find out what she enjoys for herself.  DD would still like to be a veterinarian, and has started asking about volunteering in our regional animal shelter.  She’s not quite old enough yet, but maybe by the time she’s 10 we could find out more about that.

Our daughter’s other family is still very much a part of her life.  M, her other mom, is starting to make more of a commitment to visits, which is a good thing for DD.  She and C, M’s mother, had a great visit with DD last weekend.  

I’m…better now.  Last September I had a mental crisis and wound up going to an outpatient program at a local hospital.  Depression has been an ongoing part of my life – my mother had untreated depression for the first 21 years of my life, and I didn’t want that for my own daughter.  With the help of exercise and weekly therapy, I’m trying to do without medication.  If I need it, I’ll definitely go back to it.  Going back to work (before DD came along, I worked as a studio music teacher) is helping quite a bit as well.

So.  Between all that and shaking my head at the ongoing antics of our county school board, things have been busy.  Hope you’re all doing okay.


Totally Stressed Out: The Update

What a strange week. It started out like hell and is ending up like heaven. I’m not sure where everything is headed, but if my hunch is right, we are on an upswing (finally!). The last time I diaried, I was worried about my job, the changes my baby was going through at 9 months, and getting my husband to help out at home.

So I still have my job, and my company hasn’t seemed to figure out yet that it will probably cost more to shut down the factory than to just leave it open, so perhaps when that dollar amount becomes clear they will let us keep making things.

Meanwhile, my little girl started walking a couple of days after turning 9 months old and has barely crawled since. She’s practically running now (today she turned 11 months) and won’t stay away from her beloved kitty who nevertheless bit her on the arm and is now relegated to the outdoors for the first time in her furry life…she’s meowing to come in right now. Baby is still nursing, but also eats solid food and wants to do everything the adults do. People tell you how fast babies grow…but I had no idea it was going to be this fast!

OK now to the heavy stuff. My husband and I both have our mental issues which have been essentially untreated for 8 years. He has been a SAHM for a year since being laid-off but was obviously chafing at being bored at home all the time and started acting like this was a huge chore, and wasn’t contributing to the household. He also drinks, which can aggravate his anger/irritability problem. Basically, he was calling me home early from work all the time, and I don’t have any family or friends in the area who could babysit, and given the precarious employment situation and lack of any remaining sick or vacation time, we were seriously financially suffering. I was also emotionally suffering because he was verbally abusive when intoxicated, and also has a habit of destroying my property when really irritated at seemingly minor things. These are all manifestations of his mental disability, but he was showing no responsibility for getting help for himself, and I was at the end of my rope. Last Sunday night he spent a few hours telling me what an absolute failure I am, and the sad thing is I started actually believing it! On Monday I had to stay home because he was in no shape to take care of a baby. So on Tuesday when he called saying he’d wrecked some of my CDs because the baby had been grabbing at them, and to bring home beer and a movie, I started having an anxiety attack at work, and when I got home I told him that we were over and I was leaving with the baby.

He was in complete shock, but he had calmed down from the earlier incident and asked me what he could do to prevent such an outcome. He threatened to call the cops on me if I left with the baby and since my experiences with cops getting involved have, without exception, been negative, I told him he needed to quit drinking and see a psychiatrist and attend couples therapy if he wanted to stay in my house as a part of the family. He agreed as long as I would do the same, which I will. Then I proceeded to take a couple of days off work and have my mom come down to spend a few nights at a nice local hotel while I recovered from the anxiety attack and depression, and to arrange for a daycare provider so I didn’t have to worry about coming home early or having her witness property destruction anymore.

We went to our first marriage counselor on Wednesday, and I swear it was like finally achieving a fantasy you’ve imagined for a million years – getting to bitch about his unacceptable behavior in front of a third party who can verify its inherent wrongness. I felt so much better after that, and a little more confident that we could work on these problems together and retain the wholeness of the family. I have an appointment next week with the head doctor and I’m very nervous about any medications, since the last time I went this route the Paxil just about ruined my life, but they claim the drugs have gotten a lot better in the intermediate eight years. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the daycare provider I found seems to be the perfect fit for my little girl. She immediately started playing with the other kids who are around her age, and I got the most wonderful feeling when my mom and I were checking the home out, as did my mother. Today was her first day there and it went without a hitch, and I feel so relieved that I don’t have to worry about her care anymore.

I’d really been stressing out about my lease renewal for my 1 bedroom apartment, because my rent is $1275 per month, which is enough to rent a whole house where I’m from. Once again, mom to the rescue – she found out they were renting these units out for $999 to new residents, and urged me to negotiate. Today, I scared them into thinking we’re going to move out and they agreed to actually lower my rent! I jumped up and down and cheered for fully 5 minutes. I haven’t been this happy in a long time. Even on unemployment, I could sorta-kinda afford $999/mo. So that relieved another stress in case I lose my job in the fall when the factory will supposedly shut down.

After I got that news I went out and got a haircut because on Sunday I’ve been asked to participate in an Organizing for America healthcare reform event where they will tape our healthcare stories and show the videos to Congress. I have a lot of debt because we didn’t have insurance one time my husband needed help, and ever since then it’s been so difficult financially because it ruined our credit and I’m so afraid it will even affect my ability to get a job. I have been extremely vocal about this subject for a long time and it makes me really happy that I can contribute and possibly change a Congress Critter’s attitude about the absolute necessity of a strong public option for a healthy America.

I’m not sure if it will work out between my husband and I, but I hope he gets healthy, for his own sake and for our truly precious daughter. I still love him a lot and I hope we can learn to trust each other again, and I’m glad our relationship has changed because what we had before was really not working and leading to a lot of unnecessary hardship and suffering. At the beginning of the week I thought it was the end of my family, but by the end I realized this could just be the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.


Weekend Open Thread

What’s up?

I don’t believe we had a fitness open thread this week so let’s check in with our goals. I have worked out almost every day since the new year and have lost 15 pounds. I am only 5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and back to a size 1.

I have actually taken it easy this week, either working out lightly — meaning at a slower pace for 30 or 45 minutes rather than an hour — and/or eating more junk food than I usually do. I was in a depressive funk this week and thought it wise to give myself a break. Instead, I have been spending every minute with my kids (especially Eli), going out for ice cream, blowing bubbles and dancing. Mentally, I was really there for them and it felt great. Today we are heading out to a kid birthday party and then DH and I are going on a date to see the movie I Love You, Man. (Thank you for watching the kids, Susan!) What are you up to this weekend?

In other fitness news: Women who lifted weights in their 70s and 80s were unable to build muscle mass, but did gain strength, according to a study reported in Science Daily.

Last, but certainly not least, a card I sent to Janet “Janetle’s” family was returned to me by the hospital. I am wondering if any of you had personal e-mail contact with her and would know how I could reach her husband Dave? I will do some more searching on my end, but I would really like to get in touch with her family and make a donation in her name. You can reach me at elisa at mothertalkers dot com.

What else is in the news? What’s new with you?


how much to tell teen about my therapy?

When my mind started to act up, I was the primary caregiver for a very dear SD, and I didn’t make a big deal of my meltdown (for the first three years anyway :) ) but last year when DSD caught me crying a couple of times I told her I was having some mental issues but they had nothing to do with her. When she asked for details I said, “I’m spending a lot of time in a private world that exists only in my own head.”

Then my partner asked me to tell DSD I was ‘just kidding’ about having mental issues – which I did – but I think DSD saw through it because I am rubbish at lying. (In her defence, my partner asked me to lie because my partner’s ex is still a bit adversarial and the last thing we need is for him to be able to accuse her of “letting a mad person look after his daughter”. My partner would rather not have a mad person serving in that capacity either but when one’s options are limited…)

Request for advice follows…with thanks in advance!

[A bit more detail…]

Over Christmas I destructively ran away from the two of them for a couple of months (& had therapy elsewhere). Am about to return and resume therapy “at home” – go me! My partner says that we’ll figure out what to tell DSD (who is now 15) together, both about the running-away and the returning as well as whatever-happens-next, and that I won’t be doing so much hands-on caretaking anyway as it’s time she becomes more independent anyway, which is fine (ESPECIALLY IF WE COULD FINALLY GET HER TO DO HER OWN LAUNDRY, BE STILL MY HEART), but – any advice? If DSD notices anything wrong with me, is it better to say I’m getting help, or keep that private as well?

What I told DSD when I ran out was that I was worried about some stuff happening back home in the USA and I wanted to go deal with it, and that her mum was angry about that, and DSD said she was too, and I said yup they both had every right to be, and that’s where we left it. My partner says DSD still has unresolved anger about me leaving (took me off all her social networking sites – not that I checked them all that often, but it probably relieved her feelings a bit – and sent some angry emails), and I am ok with that.

I was raised in a culture where there was zero social stigma around therapy, but Australia is a bit more of a “suck it up, life is tough all around” culture, so I don’t know whether that will be a factor as well.

My issues don’t involve sexual aberration or anything that presents a safety hazard except to myself, and I am confident that I’m now through the self-harm phase. When I picked my username here, well, it turned out to be more true than I would have liked. Bleagh. On to the poll, and again, many thanks.


Weekend Open Thread

Happy weekend, everyone! Doggone it, you betcha I am so ready for some relaxin’! WINK.

Oof…sorry about that. I seem to be suffering from a temporary case of Joe Sixpackitis. On to some rootin’ tootin’ health and wellness news!

My cast came off Wednesday- YAY! I still can’t really walk- BOO!

Here’s how clueless I am: I sincerely thought once the cast came off, I would be able to stroll on out of the orthopedist’s office. But my ankle is still swollen and stiff from 4 weeks of confinement. I am slowly putting weight on my foot and flexing my ankle; I will start physical therapy as soon as my HMO authorizes it (oy). In the meantime, I’m limping along and elevating my foot as much as possible.

Here’s a picture of my blinged-out cast, courtesy of SandraB and Gloria’s DD Karina. The reaction I got from strangers on the street was incredible. The nurse at the orthopedist even took a picture before she cut it off!

Downward-facing dunce: School shootings. Drugs. Bullying. What awful curse could possibly befall our public schools next?

Would you believe: yoga?

That’s right, parents and religious leaders in upstate New York are demanding that yoga be eliminated from schools, claiming it violates the separation of church and state:

“We are not opposed to the benefits. We can understand the benefits. We are opposed to the philosophy behind it and that has its ties in Hinduism and the way they were presenting it,” said the Rev. Colin Lucid of Calvary Baptist Church in Massena.

Ignorance. Makes. Me. Stabby.

Bailout fringe benefit?:
Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico has a daughter diagnosed with atypical schizophrenia, and has spent decades fighting for better coverage of mental health issues. A provision requiring parity in treatment was attached to the recent federal bailout bill:

No more higher copays or deductibles for the mental health treatments. No more limits on visits to the doctor that differ from the caps for other patients…The legislation does not mandate that group health plans cover mental health or addiction treatment, only that when plans do so, the coverage must be equitable to other medical coverage. The insurance industry is now a strong supporter of the parity legislation.

Hhmmm…color me a skeptic, but the fact that the insurance industry supports it makes me suspicious of this provision’s actual effectiveness. What do you all think?

Worst. Endorsement. Ever:
I couldn’t help but laugh at this Today show segment touting the benefits of the Fraxel laser treatment. I have hyperpigmentation on my cheeks and secretly covet a treatment that will zap them away, but this video has steered me away from Fraxel. The “befores” look just as good, if not better, than the afters! And the cost is astonishing. So concealer it is!

Do you have any skin flaws that you’re self conscious about, and if so, how do you deal with them?

What’s everyone up to this weekend? I’ll be shopping and prepping for our annual trip back east…we leave Wednesday. It will be a gimpy vacation for me, but I’ll take it…you betcha.

OK seriously, I’ll stop now.


Mental Health and College Kids

Cross-posted at Fussbucket

Mental illness among college students is on the rise and with it comes a growing debate over parents’ right to know. According to this LA Times article, school officials feel bound by student confidentiality laws not to divulge information to parents while others claim that parents should be informed especially when a student becomes suicidal.

According to the American College Health Assn., about 15% of college students have been diagnosed with depression. A 2004 survey found that nearly half of college students said they felt so depressed they had difficulty functioning one or more times during the last school year.

The Jed Foundation, an organization that works to prevent college suicides, estimates that 1,100 college students a year take their own lives — an average of about three a day. Suicidal thinking is common. The American College Health Assn.’s 2005 poll showed that 11% of women and 9% of men in college considered suicide at some point.

Both school officials and health professionals have federal laws tying their hands when it comes to disclosing information about a student’s mental health. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — better known simply as FERPA — was passed in 1974 to strictly limit the disclosure of information from students’ records, the article says. Likewise, health professionals are bound by even more inflexible patient confidentiality rules, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which took effect in 2003.

But FERPA is not meant to keep life-saving information from parents, says Steven J. McDonald, general counsel for the Rhode Island School of Design and an expert on the law. FERPA is stringent but does permit disclosure to “appropriate parties” in an emergency that involves the health or safety of the student or others, the article says. College administrators, however, often hesitate to act on that exception because they fear getting sued.

In addition, some mental health advocates argue that confidentiality ensures more people will seek help.

“I feel that confidentiality is paramount to being able to receive treatment,” says Frank Smith of the Mental Health Assn. in California. “If there is any notion of the ability to share information, I think colleges will have a large body of people who won’t seek treatment.”

But confidentiality also means students may be left dealing with serious mental health issues on their own without the support of their family, a prospect that could be risky. Some parents have sued universities for failing to inform them of their child’s deteriorating state. MIT settled a case with the family of Elizabeth Shin who set herself on fire in her dorm room in 2000 and later died of injuries.

In another case, the parents of a male student at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania sued the school after their son hanged himself in his fraternity house in 2002. He had been receiving counseling on campus for depression and had insisted his parents not be notified, the article says. His friends testified at the trial that they had alerted school officials that “something was going to happen.” But the jury found the school was not liable, saying it had offered the boy support and could not have foreseen his suicide.

One family that was profiled in the LA Times article realized something was wrong with their daughter shortly after they sent her to school, but were stonewalled by school officials when they tried to help.

Toward the end of October, Will and Micky found they couldn’t reach their daughter. “We tried to call her room, the dorm master, the campus police. No one could tell us where she was,” says Micky, who asked that she and Will be identified by their first names only to protect their daughter’s privacy. She is now 24. “Finally one of the dorm heads called us and said, ‘We can’t tell you where she is.’ “

Will and Micky drove to the school and tearfully demanded an explanation. “The mental-health counselors agreed to meet with us but they refused to divulge any information,” recalls Micky. “We tried to explain about our child. We loved her. She had never been abused. We were just met with stony silence. They told us that she was an adult and she had chosen not to tell us, so they couldn’t tell us. We went home. We felt totally stymied.”

The couple hired a private investigator who discovered their daughter had been hospitalized for cutting herself and threatening suicide. They brought their daughter home and arranged for outpatient psychiatric care. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and eventually was able to return to school.

This isn’t an easy issue to come down on. I can see the value of confidentiality especially if it allows a student to access the care they need. But it’s unimagineable to me to think of myself in Will and Micky’s position – not knowing where my kid is or what’s happening with her. What do you all think? Is the system broken?


Doctors behaving badly

There have been a number of articles in recent years describing a common and cozy relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. The deal usually looks like this: a drug company pays a doctor money, usually in the form of speaking fees at conferences, and the doctor in turn “teaches” his or her peers about using the company’s drug. Often the uses for the drug have not been tested enough to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration and are considered “off-label.” It is marketing in the guise of continuing education in the sense that the doctors in the audience may not be aware that the speaker is a shill.

Now the issue is becoming of concern to parents. The growing use of medication to treat behavior and emotional problems in children has prompted drug companies to turn their attention (and wallets) to pediatric psychiatrists. The NY Times ran this story last week highlighting a case in Minnesota in which a 12-year old girl who developed an eating disorder was treated with Risperdal, a drug approved for adult schizophrenia.

The girl’s mother was unaware at the time that the doctor who treated her daughter had received thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Johnson & Johnson, the company that makes Risperdal.

But what she also didn’t know was that scant research had been done to prove that Risperdal was a safe and effective treatment for her daughter’s condition. In fact, according to the article, the studies included as few as eight children, which would never be enough to pass muster with the FDA. As it was, the drug did help with her daughter’s eating disorder (increase in appetite is a known side effect of Risperdal) but the girl also developed a rare, painful nerve condition in her neck called dystonia that was also caused by the drug.

As parents we trust that the doctors who treat our children have only their best interest at heart. It is appalling to think that doctors are allowing themselves to be corrupted and in the process, putting children and families at risk.

Moreover, drug companies owe it to the kids who take their medications to do serious studies to find out the risks and benefits before thousands of children are exposed. Earlier this month, the FDA issued a statement to all makers of antidepressants to include a warning on the label that the drugs can cause an increase in suicidal thinking among children, adolescents, and young adults. For fully grown adults, the drugs do not seem to have this effect.

Just last night, my three-year old lay in his bed coughing from a cold. My husband asked if we should give him some medicine. I remembered a study I heard about recently that found that over-the-counter cough medicines are not effective and could cause children harm. I was grateful for that bit of insight. I wish there was more of it out there.

What do you all think about this? Should we be asking our doctors if they have a conflict of interest before we agree to a treatment plan for our kids? Seems a bit awkward.