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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Lobotomy and Rosemary Kennedy

I'm currently reading Kate Clifford Larson's Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. Rosemary Kennedy, the intellectually disabled sister of President John F. Kennedy, was lobotomized in 1941 due to her disability and erratic moods and intractable behavior. She was twenty-three. She lived to be eighty-six.

I'm at the point in the book where the author is describing lobotomy, what it was like to have one performed, and whom the typical candidate for a lobotomy was. It was chilling to read that people with bipolar disorder were given lobotomies. At this point, I haven't read exactly what Rosemary's lobotomy did to her, and I'd have to research them more to learn what the general outcome was, but I know that it wasn't good. You just can't slice up the frontal lobe and expect a beneficial outcome. But I have to learn more to know the specifics.

At this point in my understanding, it scares me to know of a "could have been" as far as having bipolar disorder. Had I been alive in the early 1940s, this could have been my fate. I am grateful for being born when I was and getting diagnosed in 1995. I have received excellent care during the past twenty-two years, and I only see things improving as more research is done into the treatment of mental illnesses. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (antidepressants) were still somewhat new when I was diagnosed, but they existed. And throughout the past twenty-two years, other medications have come onto the scene. some of which I take.

In all, I take an SSNRI (selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), an NDRI (norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor), an atypical antipsychotic, an anticonvulsant (which works as a mood stabilizer), and a benzodiazepine (in order, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Abilify, Lamictal, and Klonopin). It's a lot, but the combination works for me and has kept me out of the hospital since 2003. Aside from medication, I do talk therapy with my psychiatrist. I've learned DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) and know a bit about CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

My treatment is involved and requires a lot of compliance and effort on my behalf, but to think that at one time, I could have been given a lobotomy makes me so grateful for what I have instead.

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