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Posts tagged ‘Mental Health’

Six overlooked conditions of Epilepsy

MLREPIL (Large)Six overlooked conditions of Epilepsy

 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

As I begin the new section of Drtruthman Christian Counseling and Opinion dedicated to Epilepsy titled, “Epilepsy in plain sight”, I will attempt to address areas of this neurological condition which are usually obvious but often neglected in general epilepsy diagnosis and discussion.

These associate conditions include:

  1. Heightened emotions
  2. Decreased touch sensitivity (aka ”Depakote dropsy”)
  3. Increased or decreased libido
  4. Verbal rambling
  5. Momentary memory loss
  6. OCS ( a type of OCD)

Crying man

Heightened emotions

Very few epileptics ever talk about this subject with either their support team or their neurologist; especially men. It usually happens while watching a movie or television program and you find yourself suddenly caught up in the movie and become either extremely angry or crying like a baby with usually more of the latter.

This Pseudobulbar affect (or more commonly known as PBA), or emotional incontinence, is a type of emotional disturbance characterized by uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays. PBA occurs as secondary to an existing neurologic disorder or brain injury. Although more commonly associated with Parkinson, MS and stroke victims, PBA has become increasingly reported among epileptics; possibly because of new epilepsy medications or simply because patients haven’t always reported the condition.

These uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays seem to happen at the most inopportune times.  It happens at family events, church, patriotic events and even for no reason at all. I have found myself sometime blubbering like a baby just hearing someone pray or me giving the family Thanksgiving blessing or my favorite sports team winning.

There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason for these heightened emotions occurring.

I do know this; I am a genetic, grand general epileptic. I was born with epilepsy and I can have any kind of seizure at any time but my problem with heightened emotions didn’t start until I was put on anti-seizure medication in 1999 and I have been on three different medications.

It depends on your anti-seizure medication as to the extent of the increase in your emotions being heightened but from the epileptics I have professionally counseled over the years it seems to happen to all of us as epileptics.

It doesn’t have to be just anger or sorrowful emotions either; it can also be manic emotion such as uncontrollable laughter, frivolity and whimsical behavior.

At this point, you have to be careful should you decide to report this to your neurologist, GP or Psychotherapist; the reason being that heightened manic emotions can also mask epilepsy in some psychotic disorders such as certain types of Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

With regard to schizophrenia there are two common sub-types which would seem to mimic The Pseudobulbar affect:  1) neophrenia; a deranged neurosis or psychosis which has often been associated with early onset schizophrenia where an individual finds everything funny and laughs sometimes uncontrollably and 2) hebephrenia; a syndrome characterized by shallow and inappropriate giggling (or laughing), and silly regressive behavior and mannerisms; this has now been renamed disorganized schizophrenia.

Another important fact to remember is that most ant-seizure medications are also used for controlling certain types of Bipolar and schizophrenic behavior.  As a result, there is some indication that the conditions these medications help to control in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia might actually have the reverse effect on epileptics causing medical and mental health professionals to overlook the epilepsy connection and jump right to the neurotic and psychotic diagnostic categories.

Even though it can be a somewhat frightening thought to have your epilepsy re-diagnosed as a psychological disorder, it is still always best to consult your neurologist with concerns about heightened emotions. It might be as simple as changing your medication dosage or even changing your anti-seizure medication completely.

But once again, with regard to the information provided, choose your words carefully.

Closely associated with an epileptic’s heightened emotions is the second condition of Decreased touch sensitivity (aka ”Depakote dropsy”) which will be discussed in the next article of “Epilepsy in plain sight”.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

I am an Epileptic

 

Having been one all my life, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that I am indeed an epileptic.

I am on medication and live a fairly normal life. I do most everything that non-epileptic people do; in fact after eleven years and seven attorneys attempting to get this “Grand General Epileptic” disability, the state and federal governments denied such because they declared that I was a “functional epileptic”.

“Functional epileptic”, is there really such a thing? That’s a topic for another discussion.

None the less, most epileptics will tell you it’s not necessarily the seizure that’s the great concern but everything leading up to and afterwards such as pre and post seizure auras that are truly debilitating and hinder the ability to “be normal”.  

For the non-epileptic, it’s important to note that epileptic auras are for most, more dreaded than the seizure itself and like a seizure they can occur unexpectedly at any time with or without medication with no reason as to the cause.  

One thing for certain is that there is nothing fun about an aura. They can last from a few minutes to hours or even days. The average aura time for most epileptics I know is about 15 minutes. My average aura last 24 hours but I have experienced a pre-seizure aura which lasted 2 days and a post-seizure aura which lasted almost a week.

Auras are terrible. They can be mild to migraine headaches, the proverbial “seeing stars”, visualizing “saintly” like glows or halos around people, visualization can take on a yellowish hue as well as experiencing  strange sounds and odors.

But the worst aura experience of all for most epileptics is dissociation; the feeling of uncertainty of where you are or what many epileptics describe as a sensation of being in multiple places at the same time. Some have suggested it is like you’re here but also somewhere else. The bottom line is if you haven’t experienced it, you simply can’t understand.

The aura often causes an epileptic to lose momentary thought, focus and concentration.

Some research now suggests that due to their debilitating effect on the epileptic, these auras are actually partial seizures. Regardless of what these auras are, they can certainly slow a person down, delay or even force a change or cancellation to plans.

It is important to note here that some epileptics never experience an aura.

In addition to the auras and seizures, there is also the emotional trauma sitting in the epileptics unconscious mind constantly asking the question, “Will I have a seizure today”? And “If I have a seizure today, what kind will it be”?  

Those questions usually give rise to more questions which give rise to more questions such as, “Since I feel kind of strange today, should I go out in public and chance having a seizure away from home”? If you drive, “Should I try to drive today and possibly have an accident or even hurt or kill someone”?

“I’m feeling constantly sleepy, do I need sleep or am I trying to pass out and seize” and “if I take a little nap, will I have a sleep or wakeup seizure”? “Should I go to the ER or should I call my neurologist or am I just being silly and paranoid”?

Although life for everyone is filled with uncertainties, for the epileptic these uncertainties become magnified.

For this epileptic, the past month had gone very well; between my medications of Depakote and CBD oil I was stable and feeling great. I had gone to church, out to eat, a birthday party or two and even driving during day light hours. Being an epileptic simply wasn’t on my radar and didn’t seem to matter.

Then suddenly out of nowhere last Saturday, I experienced the worst aura since 2008. My hands and arms shaking, visualization suddenly yellowed, found myself staring for long moments into space, then the dreaded feeling of disassociation; the feeling of being in two separate places at once.

The feeling was horrible and quite frightening. The last time I had an aura that intense was prior to a “Grand Mal” seizure while driving in 2008. There was nobody hurt and no damage except to my van which was totaled. Thank God a police officer witnessed the entire thing and called the paramedics who took me to the ER immediately.

That recent Saturday aura suddenly brought me back to reality reminding me that I am an epileptic.

Then this very morning, with plans in process, my day is interrupted by having a moderate morning wakeup seizure with a traumatic follow up post-seizure aura destroying both my plans for the day and possibly my future.

It is totally debilitating, destructive and often humiliating (as it was for me today), this thing we call epilepsy.

But once again, I am an epileptic and as most neurologists tell us, we can have a seizure at any moment of any day; unfortunately for some repeatedly throughout the day.

Cancelled plans and appointments, inability to keep commitments, feelings of inadequacies and indecisiveness, frustration and associated depression; all associated with epilepsy.

Take the meds as prescribed, get eight hours sleep, try and avoid naps and seizure causing meds and still a seizure and/or an aura is possible.

I can never forget I am an epileptic.

© 2017 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Too much information

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As a Psychologist, I am continually amazed at the amount of information people are willing to post about themselves on social media. Having observed this phenomenon for nearly a decade, it seems people become more emboldened each day with what they choose to tell the world about themselves.

These are the same everyday people that when I was in the ministry and private practice would come to me with a problem(s) yet reluctant to say anything; it was often near impossible to pry any information out of them. Many times, it would take weeks just to get a patient to open up enough for the two of us to have a meaningful dialogue much less the “Nitti gritty” of the problem.  

Today however, people post any and everything on the web and especially social media; every conceivable personal problem (emotional or physical) is posted, elaborated, sometimes with photos and hundreds of comments from around the world are given.

It’s simply ridiculous. People on my social media pages have posted everything imaginable from their problem with toe fungus, corns and calluses, constipation, hemorrhoids, hurt feelings, depression, anxiety, what they’re having for dinner, their pet’s illnesses, whether they think someone is a liar or not,  questioning or diagnosing mental disorders of friends or relatives, sexual dysfunction and  so much more.

Again, these are the same people that will not seek out professional help.

With no apology, if I were still in private practice, I would consider having about half my social media friends temporarily committed for observation.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people? I know many of you and some things you have posted on my social media pages, I just can’t believe.

I don’t want to hear about how your cat vomited all over you and the bed during the night, or how your hemorrhoids kept you up all night or why you think Uncle Jed or sister Sue is definitely Bi-polar or Schizophrenic or how you hope your boyfriend doesn’t find out about your one night stand with the guy you met at Starbucks on your way home from work; duh? He does now and so does everybody else.

The problems people used to bring to their ministers, psychologist, psychiatrist and counselors is now simply thrown out on social media like confetti being dropped from a tall building in a parade with their social media post dropped on anyone and everyone consequences be damned.

This is to say the least frivolous, irresponsible and (excuse the expression) just crazy.

Let me be clear, it’s not that I’m not concerned or don’t want to be your social media friend but frankly if you want to talk to me about it, contact me privately and personally.

I will be happy to listen as a Minister or Christian Psychologist or Addiction Counselor (take your pick, I’m all)  but be prepared to sign both a hold harmless agreement and non-disclosure statement along with my fee of $125.00 CASH (I also take Pay Pal) per hour (for a fifty minute counseling session) which I will be happy to conduct in person or via video chat.

Then and only then will I l be willing to listen to your earth shattering problems and difficulties which you feel  are so troubling that you must broadcast to the entire world over social media opening yourself to every Troll, Phishing scam, hacker, malware, ransom ware or worse and possibly losing everything you have including your very life.

Seriously people, grow up and stop thinking all of us as social media friends want or need to know everything about you; we don’t.

Posting too much information on social media is dangerous and psychologically speaking can speak volumes as to your mental and emotional state of mind.

If you are really troubled about something, please seek professional help.

© 2017 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

NO Profanity Please

Updated September 5, 2018

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After writing this article almost two years ago, I felt it necessary to take a break from my current seven part series on “What is wrong with people? and time for an edit and update. It seems to me the flagrant and frequent use of profanity on social media is certainly another issue “wrong with people”.

Say I’m a prude if you choose but there is nothing more unpleasant and distasteful within social media today, than people using unnecessary profanity within their online post to make a point.

What amazes me most is that people who wouldn’t dare utter a “damn” or “hell” in public seem to have no problem utilizing the often known “Favorite Five” words of profanity without hesitation and cursing on-line like the proverbial sailor (no offense or disrespect to our men and women of the Navy; many of which I know seldom use profanity.)
Even more alarming is the use of the “F” word; used so much today, that it’s often referred to as the “F – Bomb”.  It seems some people can’t speak or write without using it. Especially upsetting is the ease and frequency of it’s use by women and children.
Since the original writing of this article back in February. 2017, I’ve noticed there are now even Facebook pages and websites all dedicated to the “F-bomb” with such titles as WTF, IDGF, WFC and many others. I even know several author friends that have incorporated this vile disgusting word into their email addresses and user names; how degrading. Why would any normal, rational and decent human being want to be known as “F’n this” or “F’n that”; it seems rather demeaning.
In addendum, it’s interesting that Facebook will allow the pursuit and use of profanity over their social media platform in defense of “Free Speech” while removing and blocking conservative news articles and those with differing intelligent opinions, including many Christian website posts.
Ok, it’s true on this point I’m extremely unapologetically conservative. I am also unapologetically a Christian. But right is right and wrong is wrong and profanity is simply wrong; don’t even try to justify its use. Nothing good ever results from the use of profanity; only those with uncontrolled anger issues and people given over to corrupt thinking feel the need for its use.
Women might be equal to men and share the right to freedom of  speech but “SHAME on you”!  Stop with the proverbial “potty mouth” and be a lady. By the way, we need more women becoming ladies again.
As to our children today, they simply need their mouths washed out with the soap that Man paying a swear jarfloats (completely harmless- can’t say the name because the company doesn’t advocate the practice) every single time they use a vulgar disgusting word. If we returned to that practice, we’d have most kids speaking correctly, decently and without profanity.
Call this practice abuse if you like but  my late mother, father and both grandmothers used that practice on me and it worked. By the way, at age 67, I don’t have any physical, social or psychological problems resulting from those experiences.  In Psychology we simply call it “Behavioral modification” and those that know me know I don’t curse. I find no need for it and find the whole thing disgusting.
Even in my time working in the auto body industry  while working my way through college, seminary and grad school, the body men, painters and techs were horrible with their use of profanity. Much of this filthy talk resulted from the difficult,frustrating and often dangerous work. For me, I simply chose not to curse or use profanity and I continue that same refrain today.
That’s not to say I’m a saint, I am not. I am a sinner saved by grace and yes, I have thought in profane words on rare occasions. Even in anger however,  I usually refer mentally to other descriptive words; words that actually have meaning, descriptive value and purpose.
The truth is, most people who use profanity actually have no idea what they’re saying. They’re simply repeating  words they’ve heard others say since childhood and because profanity is basically simple one or two syllable descriptive words, they became easy to learn and pronounce. If parents or grand parents didn’t squelch such use through stern reprimand or behavioral modification, the words were assimilated into their everyday vocabulary.
Most people only think they know what the curse words they use mean; in reality the meaning is not at all what they have been led to understand. The etymology (origin and history)  of the word is actually surprising to most people.
As a psychologist certified in the treatment of “sexual dysfunction” (and I’m not referring to the popularized medical ED term here), I have found in group therapy all too often the degree to which people are vocabulary ignorant. Men and women often can’t even describe their own sexual organs because they have been so used to a few descriptive profanity words.
The bottom line is there is simply NO need for the “gutter style language” so prevalent in today’s society.
If you’re a frequent user of profanity, ask yourself WHY ? Is your vocabulary so limited that any words containing more than 4 or 5 letters with the occasional adding of “ing”  are beyond your comprehension or ability to pronounce?
If that’s the case, start reading a Dictionary or Thesaurus  and develop a QUALITY vocabulary. Then, you can be stern, firm or “pithy” in your postings without the use of profanity. Vulgarity is never necessary and should not be tolerated by any of us; especially in on-line social media.  It is unbecoming, disrespectful and demonstrates a lack of character and morality; both which are sorely needed in social media.
I realize all of this is very Non-Politically Correct these days especially with regard to millennials and  those on the Progressive Left; so be it.  As a result, let me dig in a little deeper  in being Non PC by sharing a true story of one of the South’s favorite sons, General Robert E. Lee.
As the Civil War was winding down, Confederate General Lee was meeting with some of his key officers discussing serious strategy. The language was very hostile, frustrating and “colorful” (profane & vulgar) to say the least. In the midst of this very important and strategic meeting, history records that General Lee turned around and began to walk away. A Colonel called out to him and said, “What’s wrong General Lee, there are no women or children here?” General Lee turned around and responded, “No sir, there are no women or children here but there is a Christian Gentleman”; the general turned around again and walked away.
I am proud to say that my great grandfather, grandfather, father, myself and my oldest son as well as thousands of other men and women throughout the South were named after this Christian gentleman.
God’s Word reminds us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Colossians 4:6
There simply isn’t any reason ever for profanity.
May God both guide and guard your speech.
© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD
Once again, as a side NOTE, I will no longer tolerate rude, crude and distasteful language on any of my social media sites from ANYONE.

Yes Lee, there are crazy people

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In light of the Christmas season and our recent Presidential Election, it seemed somewhat appropriate to examine in a slightly satirical way an often protected and politically correct aspect of the mental health care field known as “psycho-babble”.

So in the spirit of the New York Sun response to eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon’s question as to the existence of Santa Claus, in 1897 entitled, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” this article is a reflection on the mental and emotional state of many people today and their inability to deal with life and react to difficulties and disappointments.

Following the recent United States Presidential Election with the surprise results of a Donald Trump victory and the accompanied whining, whaling and protesting from the losing liberal left, a Psychiatrist colleague of mine from Florida (now retired and living in Costa Rica) chatted online with me about his thoughts on the matter. He stated his view of the general mental and emotional state of people in America today. In our discussion, this MD, PhD Psychiatrist friend unexpectedly says to me, “You know Lee, some people are just CRAZY”. He went on to say, “And those that aren’t crazy are just MEAN and there isn’t enough psycho-therapy, anger management, Xanax, Prozac or even Thioridazine in the world that’s going to help”.

Now 75 years old, my friend and colleague admitted he was sitting on the beach of his beach house sipping on his fourth Corona of the afternoon but he continued to reiterate that after forty years in the mental health field he was fed up with all the “excuses” and “psycho-babble” of psychology and psychiatry. He just kept saying, these whiners and protestors were just crazy and mean; this mind you from a board certified Psychiatrist.

Although somewhat surprised by my friend’s very stern conclusions, most of us as colleagues know him well for his candid remarks.  Those of us in the mental healthcare field will usually be quick to tell you  we don’t use terms like “stupid”, “idiot”, “ignoramus”, “moron”, “retard” and definitely not “crazy”. We were taught the correct mental illness designations and as such over the years we’ve been told it is “insensitive”, “inappropriate” and simply wrong to use such terms; in fact we have been taught it is not “politically correct”.

To some degree, it has been much like one of those “big secrets” we hold on to and hide from our young or don’t want people to know about ; you know, like the “tooth fairy”, “Easter Bunny” or even “Santa Clause”.   There seems to be evidence or at least the inference that these mythical entities exist but most people don’t really believe it.  

Freud told us there is no such thing as normal, only what’s normal for you.  The  result over time has been the development  within the world of mental health and psychotherapy that there are no “crazy people”; there are only individuals which are mildly neurotic with any number of associated phobias or phobia of the day or neurological or psychotic conditions such as delusional (or other variations)  of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder (or syndrome) OCD, OCS, HDD, HDAD, etc.

The result is the so called “millennial snowflakes” which simply can’t accept reality, the consequences of their actions or the disappointments and sometime failures of life; they believe life should be fair and when it comes to wealth everybody should share. The American people watched almost with amazement as thousands of these individuals suffered an entire emotional and mental breakdown live on Television and streaming media following Hillary Clinton’s loss.

As my friend and I concluded our on line chat, he went on to blame the psychobabble of mental health care for the state of these individuals and their inability to cope.

He sees this problem as very serious for the future of our country and has a suggestion to solving this problem for our President elect. He recommends that all colleges and universities which receive any Federal financial assistance or research funding be mandated to teach “hands on” courses on “How to handle life and failure”; not just class room instruction but courses required for all students regardless of major or minor which puts them in the non-academic real world, getting their hands dirty and being exposed to both success and failure.  He pointed out that many Christian and private institutions already have similar required courses and turn out some of the finest and most stable graduates in the world.

This very learned counselor went on to say that much of the problem (as he sees it) is and has been over the past three decades the teaching by colleges and universities of too many Positive Mental Attitude and Eastern philosophy courses which he calls a “cancer on the reality of life”.

He closed by saying, “Yes Lee, let’s be honest, we can call it whatever you like but the reality is, there are crazy people”.

Thank you Dr. G.K.

© 2016 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III