All posts by Moderator

Keeping our eyes on Medicaid & Medicare

In just a week our lives have been turned into that of spectators watching a magic show. We know the actor is performing a trick right in front of our eyes. We know that if we get distracted for a second, he can pull it off.  In this first week chaos of  immigrant banning, Mexico insulting,  government job firing and threats against urban culture, we could miss some huge moves.

In a NY Times op-ed, Gene Sperling,   an economist and former Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: “If Donald J. Trump decides to gut the basic guarantee of Medicare and revamp its structure so that it hurts older and sicker people, Democrats must and will push back hard. But if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid — one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families and people with disabilities. Of the two battles, the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain. It would take only three Republican senators thinking twice about the wisdom of block grants and per capita caps to put a halt to the coming war on Medicaid. DON’T MISS THIS.” …..continue

What determines sanity

At the core of anyone’s sanity is the issue of knowing and recognizing the truth. Our political “situation” now is affording us the opportunity to witness what happens when someone with high visibility abandons the truth. As black people who have experienced constant racism, we know all too well that we are held to a stricter standard than our white brothers. Not only is the truth overlooked when it comes to us and not only is it crucial that we adhere to every tiny detail of situations in order to be able to defend our truths, but even after that, the truth is often overlooked, suppressed or shut down when it comes to us. We are seeing how the dominant culture is bending, stretching and altering the dictionary in order to avoid calling the dominant political figure a liar. If he is not lying, then he may well be courting mental illness. Distorting the painful truth knowingly is lying. It is not “alternative fact” making, It is not avoidance of facts, it is lying. However, when people knowingly lie like we are seeing – in counting crowds, in recounting other people’s reactions, in stating intentions to one group and then stating the opposite to another group. If it is not a fact, it is a lie. If it is a fact, we can all prove it. We can all attest to it. We can all agree to it. If it is not true, but is so painful that the person’s ego cannot stay intact and accept it, then we call it delusional. It is a mental health problem. It deserves compassion but with treatment, not with collusion.

What about if this new president truly can’t see the truth? What about when someone’s brain filters out the real facts and replaces them with fiction that makes them feel better? Then that’s an altered reality and that’s a mental health problem. It is psychosis. It causes them to strike out against enemies that others don’t see. It causes them to harm others unfairly. By now, most blacks know that when unfairness gets handed out, it is usually aimed at us.

Why does it matter? The highest office in the land and any position of power, judgment or decision making which puts one human being in charge of or in control over another requires that person to be clear, accurate, temperate and an excellent decision maker with an understanding of the available options and their long term and wide ranging impacts. A person who does not read books, listen to the opinions of those with more knowledge than they, set limits on their own needs and advantages and who cannot see their own limitations and the gifts of others, is not the right person to lead others. We hold responsibility to educate ourselves before we follow someone. It is embarrassing and concerning (to say the least) to watch a person careening towards disaster and taking a whole country with them.

From a position of compassion, it is understandable that for someone who has nothing to lose by putting themselves out there as the expert, the chief thinker, the “only one” who can help people with their situations,  they can only carry with them those who do not use their own discernment to make a sound choice for the people following them. You can often see people stuck in their childhoods at the point where their development was halted by trauma or great tumult. They are children in adult bodies.  They talk like children, make choices like children and react like children but they may exercise the power of adults. Money only makes it easier to disguise their emotional delay. Language, mood and extremism reveals it.

When we witness someone out of control like this, it seems kind to give them the benefit of the doubt but we have a responsibility to those that we are individually responsible for, to make a choice that protects our own. We see this in abusive relationships, where the mother stays in a relationship and attempts to explain away her abusive, immature spouse’s rants and loss of control. She may feel sorry for him when he falls back into  his pitiful stance after ranting and expressing violence. She may make excuses and want to “give him another chance”. She may do this for years as her children are frightened into silence and lose the self esteem they need in order to recover from their exposure. They may lose respect for her as well as themselves.

Already, we hear people starting to make excuses for this new president.  The Women’s March on January 21st, 2017 proved that millions of people all over the world recognize that there is a problem in our American family. From their histories, ancestors, political experiences and intuition, they KNOW that what is happening in the United States right now is not normal. They recognize the lies and know that lies have meaning and create damage. They recognize that survival and peace is more important than race, than money and than advantage.

Just as you do with that mother who is afraid to leave and is perhaps addicted to being needed though abused, you can’t wait for her to realize her power. You can’t wait for her to see her value and the value of truth. You are so proud for her when she steps up to the plate and takes a chance on herself. The antidote to fear is taking a chance on yourself and seeking like -minded people with whom to move forward. Silence only increases your feelings of frustration and hopelessness. Join MoveOn.Org in their 100 days of action to help get us out of this bad presidential relationship.

The Women’s March – Were you there?

Washington Womens March January 21, 2017 Getty Images
Washington Womens March January 21, 2017 Getty Images

Saturday, January 21, 2017 – the marches in Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver,  and hundreds of other places throughout the United States and the world illustrated the power of validation. An estimate 4.6 million in the United States alone marched without one reported arrest to show that they are WOKE, that they see the travesty that has occurred, that they won’t allow it. So many women and men, have been shaken by the election of a mysogynistic, narcissistic, racist, money and power driven business person to the highest office in the United States.

Even women voted for this man who is an admitted sexual predator. (But we are sure many of them have already come to regret their short-sightedness.) The fact that this happened illustrates that America has lost its moral footing, its judgment and its focus. That America is us. The fear, is that we will pay a hefty price for this error in judgment. We would not give the keys to our cars to such a person. But we have given him the keys to our country. The marches on Saturday were a good example of great reality testing on the part of the folks who voted or would have for one of the other candidates; and buyer’s remorse on the part of those who voted for Trump.

There were so many wonderful signs of hope the marches showed us: the solidarity between women of all walks of life, all races, all ages. In NYC, there seemed to be as many marchers over 50 as there were under 50. The men were there in healthy numbers. The young children seemed thrilled to be part of the larger human family while learning valuable lessons about democracy and participation. The signs were brilliant, funny and to the point.  If you felt isolated, out of sorts or overwhelmed with pessimism about our future, you felt better after experiencing the march. If you were not there (and it was an overwhelmingly white crowd in NYC) you will feel better by getting involved now.

Exercising the power that you have (your vote!), your calls, your letters, tweets, emails, signs is a way to feel better, empowered and not a victim! Go for it! Don’t sulk, call. Don’t take to your couch, unless you’re sending emails at the same time. Don’t complain, Do something.  People around the world, including Antartica (!) took to the streets. You are in good company and as a group of people who may well have more at risk than most others during this administration, we have no reason or excuse for personal inaction.

Everywhere that we have interacted with professional mental health colleagues, we hear the same words: “psychopath, sociopath, narcissist”. All these experts in mental health functioning and behavior cannot be wrong. When we look at the history of mass human tragedies, we hear those same words: “psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists”. Democracy and freedom needs you!

Taking psychiatric meds? How to protect yourself from side effects.

Along with frequently described mood  or antidepressant medications, what else can a person do to protect themselves from accumulating brain tissue loss and losing brain function?

For the folks suffering from disabling episodes of psychosis, mania and depression, the right psychiatric  medications are a godsend. There are many people who attribute their ability to continue working and leading a normal life to their  medications along with therapy. It is thought that for some people, these brain illnesses are associated with degeneration of brain cells. While every case may be different, often dysfunction in the brain occurs along with  dysfunction in the body. After all, every part of our body is connected.

We are seeing increases in autoimmune disorders, food allergies, gut problems, arthritis, asthma, skin disorders, depression and sleep disorders. For some people, some of these problems may be due to the same culprit. There is much discussion now about the role of diet and gut dysfunction in the emergence of mood disorders.

So, would it make sense to identify and eliminate the culprit(s) and replace lost or missing nutrients that are known to be essential for brain health? How about looking at non-prescription supplements and foods that help the brain? In the December, 2016 issue of Current Psychiatry, Dr. Henry A. Nasrallah, writes about supplements that can help protect the brains of folks who are experiencing brain problems which show up as mood or cognitive disorders.

Some antidepressants, mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics may not only decrease troubling symptoms but may also have a protective effect on the brain.

There is an additional step that your doctor can take to help you protect your brain from the “destructive processes that accompany acute episodes of psychosis, mania and depression”.

Some of the supplements mentioned are:

Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in fish oil supplements have been shown in research studies to help reduce the effects of mood disorders and psychosis when used in addition to medications as well as a general supplement to protect brain health. Check out http://www.VitalChoice.org

Caffeine –  Thought to be neuroprotective and to aid in preventing mood and memory dysfunction. Not necessarily good for anxious clients but helpful for those with psychosis or mood disorders.

Vitamin D3 –  A deficiency of this essential vitamin (the status of most people living north of North Carolina and especially of people experiencing psychotic and mood disorders)  has been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s, autism and schizophrenia.  Supplementation with natural vitamin D (inexpensive over the counter) is said to protect the brain and the body against basic illnesses.

Nicotine (in the form of nicotine gum or nicotine patches) can help with cognitive processing (thinking), stress and cell health.

Melatonin – is an antioxidant, supportive to the immune system which reduces brain inflammation.  Especially for diabetics or those with metabolic syndrome, melatonin is felt to be protective of brain tissue.  Melatonin is considered an over the counter supplement that is helpful for sleep problems.  For those taking Synthroid,  melatonin use needs to be discussed with your pharmacist or physician.

N-acetylcysteine – is a powerful antioxidant for the brain, especially during a psychotic episode

Minocycline – An antibiotic that has been shown in studies to have protective effects on the brain as an additional treatment in schizophrenia

Lithium – usually used to treat mania in dosages of 900 to 1500 mg/d has been found to prevent progression of “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” to full dementia when taken in doses as low as 1 mg/d.

Erythropoietin (limited use due to some black-box warnings)

Cox-2 inhibitors: anti-inflammatory drug helpful in acute psychosis usually associated with neuro-inflammation.

Talk to your provider about adding these supplements to your psychiatric medication

Source: Current Psychiatry,  Are you neuroprotecting your patients? 10 Adjunctive therapies, Henry A Nasrallah, MD, Vol. 15, No.12, December 2016

 

Tracee Ellis Ross!!!! (Black-ish) focusing her spotlight on women of color!

We’ve been wanting to post on Tracee Ellis Ross for awhile now. She is so brilliant AND funny in the ABC Wednesday night series, Black-ish.  But more than that there is something about her that rings true as just a really nice person. January 8, 2017, the Golden Globes award for the Best Actress in a Comedy was awarded to her for her role as Rainbow Johnson, a physician and mom. It was the first time in 33 years that a black woman was honored as the best comedy actress, since Debbie Allen received the award for her role in Fame, in 1983.

In her acceptance speech, Ross spoke out on the meaning of having her talent recognized and the talent of the many overlooked “women of color and colorful people” in the television industry.

“Black-ish” gets it right. It’s a little like therapy, right? Many of the points made in the show hit you right in the heart. You feel yourself going “Yes!” when they use humor to point out the not so funny everyday microaggressions that we as black people put up with.  There is something about validation of our experiences in the wider culture, that helps make us stronger and that is what AfricanAmericanTherapists.com is all about.

Black-ish was created by writer and television producer, Kenya Barris, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He has also worked on America’s Top Model and Barbershop: The Next Cut.