Carrie Fisher may be most well-known for playing Star Wars’ Princess Leia, but she was a superheroine in real life too. The actress and author, who died Tuesday at the age of 60 after suffering a cardiac arrest, battled relentlessly against the stigma, and to raise awareness for the need for treatment.
Fisher was diagnosed at age 29 with bipolar disorder, an illness characterized by episodes of depression and mania. Throughout her life, she used her trademark humor and candor to shed light on the condition, and convey the powerful, life-changing message that there is no shame in a mental health diagnosis.
In honor of Fisher’s legacy, here are just a few of the times she spoke out and inspired us all.
On owning your diagnosis
“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.” —December 2000, in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s Prime Time Thursday
On the courage that mental illness requires
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” — Wishful Drinking, her 2008 memoir about her mental illness andprescription drug addiction
On finding the humor
“I thought I would inaugurate a Bipolar Pride Day. You know, with floats and parades and stuff! On the floats we would get the depressives, and they wouldn’t even have to leave their beds—we’d just roll their beds out of their houses, and they could continue staring off miserably into space. And then for the manics, we’d have the manic marching band, with manics laughing and talking and shopping and f***ing and making bad judgment calls.” — Wishful Drinking
On surviving a severe manic episode
“I don’t really remember what I did. I haven’t watched the videos that people took. I know it got bad. I was in a very severe manic state, which bordered on psychosis. Certainly delusional. I wasn’t clear what was going on. I was just trying to survive. There are different versions of a manic state, and normally they’re not as extreme as this became. I’ve only had this happen one other time, 15 years ago, so I didn’t have a plan of action.” —September 2013, in an interview with People about the bipolar episode she had while headlining a Caribbean cruise
On chasing your dreams, despite your diagnosis
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” ―April 2013, in an interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
On why getting help is crucial
“Without medication I would not be able to function in this world. Medication has made me a good mother, a good friend, a good daughter.” —February 2001, at a rally in Indianapolis for increased state funding for mental illness and addiction treatment
On how to help a loved one with bipolar
“If you feel like your child or friend or spouse is showing signs of this illness, if you can get them in touch with somebody else they can talk to and share their experience with and not just feel like they’re being told they’re ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ or ‘stupid,’ then they can relate somehow.” —November 2004, in an interview withbp Magazine
On summoning courage
“We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic—not ‘I survived living in Mosul during an attack’ heroic, but an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.” —November 2016, in her Guardian advice column, “Ask Carrie Fisher“
A Hopeful Solution…But not a Saving Grace-Narcan: “Not a Morning After Pill”
The usage of Naloxone, or Narcan, an injectable opiate antagonist has risen with the rise in opiate related overdoses and substance abuse in Buffalo and WNY. Training on how to administer the reactionary measure to avoid death in the event of an overdose has been being offered to those beyond first responders such as EMTs, Police, and firefighters.
Due to the opiate epidemic in our region and nationwide, those working in substance abuse treatment and addiction help, nurses, medical professionals, and even the general interested public are being made aware of how to successfully prevent death in the event of overdose.
Awareness of Naloxone is rising, and so is success. Narcan has brought positive attention to a very grim situation. Overdose revivals and saves are becoming more prevalent, but unfortunately the root of the problem sometimes overpowers the solution. A local Buffalo NY firefighter and first responder was sad to say how there is a certain misconception about Narcan that needs to be avoided.
“It’s not a morning after pill.”
Because time is so precious in the moments following an opiate overdose, Narcan is only successful if administered in a timely response. In some scenarios, emergency services are not contacted fast enough. Narcan can save someone from dying, but it doesn’t solve the problem at its source.
Drug Abuse Prevention and Addiction support are the most important factors in helping to solve this problem. If you or someone you know in Buffalo or WNY suspects a problem with addiction or substance abuse, please contact BryLin Outpatient Substance Abuse Clinic at (716) 633-1927 for information on addiction treatment and help with opiate addiction.
Over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness at the time of their death. Depression is the most common of those mental illnesses. Although most people who are depressed do not kill themselves, untreated depression can increase the risk for possible suicide.
Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting 9.9 million American adults, or approximately 5 percent of the adult population, in a given year. Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, major depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and physical health.
Major depression can occur at any age and it has no prejudices affecting all ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups. The symptoms of major depression characteristically represent a significant change from how a person functioned before the illness, including: persistently sad or irritable mood; changes in sleep, appetite, and energy; difficulty concentrating; agitation; lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Suicides are frequently found in association with mental illness, particularly with individuals diagnosed with major depression, other mood disorders and substance abuse. According to a May 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release, there were 38,364 reported deaths by suicide in 2010. The number of completed suicides in the US is equivalent to one death by suicide every 16 minutes. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for all ages and is the second leading cause of death among 25–34 year olds.
There are many types of treatment options available for major depression including exercise, psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. What works for one person might not work for another. The type chosen depends on the individual and the severity and patterns of his or her illness. Although depression can be a devastating illness, it is highly treatable. Between 80 and 90 percent of those suffering from serious depression can be effectively treated and return to their normal daily activities and functioning.
Connect With Others and Save Lives
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
The Out of the Darkness Walks are proof that when people work together, they can make big changes in our world. These walks take place in hundreds of cities each fall to raise awareness for this important cause.
Number of Community Walks: 24
Number of Community Walks: 385
Number of Walkers:
Number of Walkers
BUFFALO WALK – Event Details
Walk Date: 09/10/2016
Walk Location: Delaware Park – Roundhouse Shelter, Buffalo
Check-in/Registration Time: 09/10/2016 at8:30 am
Walk Begins: 10:30 am
Walk Ends: 1:00 pm
When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help. You can speak with a psychiatric registered nurse at BryLin Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital in Buffalo, NY, by calling 716-886-8200. Another option is calling the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk to a trained counselor.
Untreated depression can increase the risk for suicide. Reach out for help. Treatment works. Speak with a health care or mental health professional to discuss your treatment options and what might be the best option for you.
Opiate Epidemic in All Communities Across Western New York
You can’t turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing something about the opiate epidemic. According to county health officials, Erie County was on pace to record twice as many opiate related deaths in 2015 compared to 2014 data, when there were 128 fatal overdoses.
The Buffalo News reported back on February 9th that there was a deadly batch of heroin that had killed 23 people over an 11 day period. At that time, opiate-related deaths in Erie County for 2015 were expected to hit 264, possibly 300, when all of the toxicology tests were completed for the year.
In the first 10 days of March of this year, heroin and other opiates are believed to have claimed as many as 10 lives in Buffalo. “We are at epidemic levels and there is no end in sight,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said Thursday. “Sadly, it is probably going to get much worse before it gets better.”
I think everyone would agree that something needs to be done to help these people who are struggling, many of whom are very young, from overdosing and dying. What can be done? Where can these people go for help? Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers to people getting the treatment they need is themselves.
How do you get a loved one into treatment during this opiate epidemic?
When people are in the throes of addiction, especially opiate addiction, their world view becomes very small. Their world becomes surrounded by using, thinking about using, obtaining means to be able to use, going to buy the drugs to use, and how to avoid withdrawal, pain, and emotions at all costs. When all of your time and energy is consumed with this world, the world of addiction, you lose sight of all the other things that are right there in front of you like a supportive family/friends, treatment, help and hope. The new normal becomes darkness without the ability to see light.
Here is some perspective from the addicted person’s point of view. When we tell someone that they need to get help, what are we really saying? We are telling them to give up the world they know; the world where they feel “normal”. We are telling them to give up every facet of how they spend their day and to do it while being very uncomfortable and experiencing physical and emotional pain.
Think about that for a moment. Let’s look at our own day-to-day life and how we spend our time. Now, imagine someone is telling you, ‘everything you have been doing is wrong and you can’t do any of those things anymore, just stop it’. Do you feel you would be able to do that? Would it be easy? Of course not! When we tell someone who is addicted that they have to stop doing the only thing they know, is it any surprise that they are resistant and scared?
The reality is, we cannot force anyone to accept treatment and recovery. The addicted person needs to make that challenging and scary decision themselves. That decision is to give up their way of life, as they know it, in the hopes that there is a better life waiting for them.
Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment In the Heart of Williamsville
When that addicted person is ready to accept help, BryLin’s Behavioral Health Center has an Outpatient Substance Abuse Clinic that offers outpatient treatment for adolescents and adults at 531 Farber Lakes Drive in Williamsville. One of the unique programs offered at the clinic is free. It’s our FREE Family Group which run every Monday from 6-7pm. The setting is designed to be educational and supportive for adult family members, and concerned others, who may have a loved one dealing with addiction. This is a group run by a licensed professional and is tailored to the needs of those in attendance. Please contact us for more information.
So how do you help someone make the decision to give treatment and recovery a try? Help them to see that their new “normal” is not their normal; that their lives were much different before their addiction and that world is still there. Help them to see beyond their small world view and show them hope. Don’t shield them from the consequences caused by their addiction. Don’t enter the world of addiction with them. Stay in your world and keep reaching out to them, show them the path back to join you and a life free of addiction.
Friends Explain Suspect’s History of Alcohol Abuse, Mental Health Struggles
The Cheektowaga Police Department were notified on the night of March 5 that a man with a stolen handgun may be in the Cheektowaga area. The man was identified to be Darrell Bosell, 34, who was accused of having a .45 caliber handgun, a magazine with 8 rounds, and 30 additional rounds.
Cheektowaga Police officers were able to track Bosell to the Best Western hotel on Genesee St., right across from the Buffalo Niagara airport. According to surveillance video released by the Cheektowaga Police, he had been drinking the entire day.
Crime Scene Photo Of Gun Pointed at Officer by Bosell
Around 10:58pm, hotel security cameras showed Bosell exiting his hotel room with a gun in his hand. He was looking up and down the hall before exiting his hotel room door. He was heading towards the stairs, passing another hotel guest on the way who saw the gun in his hand. He exited the building through the stairs, entering into the parking lot.
As Bosell was walking across the parking lot, an officer was driving into the parking lot. Dashcam footage showed Bosell walking in front of the car’s hood. The officer spotted Bosell and tried to confront him. According to the officer, Bosell expressed aggressive behavior. Bosell saw the officer and aimed his gun at the police officer. To defend himself, the officer shot Bosell twice.
Bosell was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died from his injuries shortly after the incident.
According to an article from the Buffalo News, those close to Bosell had a history of alcoholism and struggled with mental illness. Friends of the man talked to the news about how “when he was sober, he was one of the kindest and most thoughtful people in his hometown, but when he drank in excess, which was often the case, he became a different person, one who could be dangerous to himself and others.”
One close friend in particular, Chris Hoffman, claimed he believed that Bosell had intentions of being shot by police. He and other heartbroken friends suspected this could have been an example of “suicide by cop.”
“I never thought he would do something like that. He must have wanted the cop to kill him,”
Hoffman went on to talk about how Bosell’s struggle with alcohol had been going on for a few years, which probably led to problems with depression, affecting himself, friends, and family. He was described as a generous man with a great heart who would help he and his family out with anything they needed, but it was clear that alcohol was taking it’s toll. He told the news that on numerous occasions he had heart-to-heart talks with Bosell, urging him to stop drinking,
“But whenever he showed up, he had a plastic cup filled with alcohol,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman told the News that Bosell had sought help to battle with his depression, having gone to a hospital to get on medicine for depression, but had stopped because he couldn’t afford the medicine.
This is yet another sad example of how abusing alcohol can lead to serious depression and worsen any existing mental health problems. So often we see individuals try to replace feelings of depression with alcohol and drugs, and it must be said that this never helps. Abusing alcohol and drugs only worsens the internal struggle of the individual and could lead to thoughts of suicide and in worst cases, like Bosell’s, a feeling of hopelessness that can become fatal.
Just a week after Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued an emergency warning stating that heroin going around is laced with fentanyl, a 2 year member of the Buffalo Police Dept. overdosed while off duty.
The same men trying to help keep this deadly batch off the streets were forced to respond to one of their own last week, saving their comrade’s life with at least 2 doses of Narcan. Luckily the officer survived the overdose because of the quick response by first responders.
The heroin epidemic has climbed to almost 400 deaths in Erie county in just 2 years. Many believe that the amount of overdoses and deaths are caused by 2 factors, a deadly mix of heroin and fentanyl, and the abilities of Narcanto save someone in the event of an overdose.
“Addicts will go out looking for this bad dope. Then they will sit around with Narcan looking to wake a friend up if he goes unconscious. It’s insanity but it is true.” said an officer in an interview with The Buffalo News.
Though Narcan has saved lives, it is not a solution to the problem of substance abuse. Only through addiction treatment can someone cure this disease. Anyone can fall victim to opiate and heroin addiction, as the reality of a police officer using while off duty shows.
“Just in any setting, any situation, any business, any family….things occur, and when things occur in city government, they’re addressed immediately, and the proper steps and actions are taken,” Brown said.
Seek Addiction Treatment.
Those suffering from addiction need treatment as anyone with a disease does. Addicts can’t be looked down upon or excommunicated from society. They can recover with help. It was not reported whether or not the officer who od’d on heroin would be terminated, but Brown indicated that “city employees have the chance to acknowledge a substance abuse problem and enter an employee assistance program.”
If you know someone who may be showing signs of opiate or heroin use, please contact BryLin about substance abuse treatment. Addiction can be kept under control with the benefits of therapy and guidance, but is a disease that can turn worse and worse, until it’s too late. With the deadly substances going around – believed to be as much as 50% more potent than heroin – it is becoming the only option.
Mark Poloncarz Issues Emergency Warning, Creates Task Force
“The region’s epidemic of opioid abuse is something that cannot be ignored.”
Since January 29th, 23 opiate related overdose deaths have occurred in Erie County over a 10 day period. Batches of Heroin cut with Fentanyl are considered a “death sentence” for anyone who consumes it. Regardless of the benefits Narcan, heroin mixed with fentanyl is deadly.
“Having been updated with information about a recent spike in opioid overdose deaths within the past week, we felt it was important to address this issue today and come together as a community to issue an emergency warning for what has become a serious health crisis,” said the Erie County Executive.
Poloncarz, who was instrumental in the creation of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force in January, was joined by U.S. Attorney William Hochul, DEA agent John Flickinger, and Erie County Dept. of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.
Poloncarz stated that this could be the “deadliest synthetic mix we have ever seen.”
He talked about how victims have come from all over Erie County, from the rural communities, to suburban areas, in addition to downtown Buffalo.
“There are killers walking the streets, dealing, right now, this batch. They are not carrying guns. They are not carrying knives. These killers, unfortunately, are carrying, and selling, heroin that is often laced with fentanyl, and this is a very deadly batch.”
Seek Substance Abuse Treatment for Users
There is help available. BryLin Behavioral Health System’s Outpatient Substance Abuse Clinic in Williamsville NY can be a true healer for anyone suffering from addiction. If you or anyone you know has had a history of heroin abuse, opiate addiction, or if you fear they may be using, don’t wait. Addiction is not something that can be fixed overnight but there are professionals here at BryLin who have the ability to help save the lives of anyone using heroin with substance abuse treatment.
10 days, 23 deaths is a staggering statistic. If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, please seek help as soon as possible. With what is going around, there is no other option.
Women who have experienced depression prior to pregnancy are more likely to experience diagnosed postpartum depression. 80% of people with a form of clinical depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. This is good news for those with more typical forms of depression, but what about expectant and new mothers that may be struggling with PPD?
Mothers who have been treated in the past with medication may not want to take antidepressants during pregnancy or while nursing. Dr. Sona Dimidjian, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, wondered how women felt about conventional forms of depression treatment, both while expecting, and postpartum. She recently wrote in a recent blog post on Mindful Noggin,
“The majority of women struggling with depression during pregnancy, as well as postpartum depression, get no professional help; among the few who do, most receive antidepressants, despite the fact that survey research shows that most women prefer interventions that don’t include medication, There is a gap between what we offer vulnerable women during pregnancy and what they tell us they want.”
Through her studies and research, she would find that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, known as MBCT, is more effective than conventional treatments for preventing postpartum depression. 86 pregnant women with a history of depression were randomly assigned to two different forms of depression treatment. Half were assigned to an 8 week session of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and the other half were assigned to traditional treatments (psychotherapy and antidepressants)
In the end, half of the women treated with either psychotherapy or medication experienced depression during or after pregnancy.
Only 18% of women treated with mindfulness techniques experienced the same symptoms.
At BryLin Outpatient Mental Health clinic, we provide both Prenatal and Postpartum Depression treatment. Licensed Clinical Social workers provide you with psyco-education, education on maternal mental illnesses, causes, treatment, what to expect, and more. Group therapy with other women in your position can also be beneficial.
MBCT is at the center of our Postpartum Depression plan, for more information on Prenatal and Postpartum depression treatment, please give us a call at 716-632-5450.
COPE Coalition Developed to Improve Emergency Psychiatric Treatment
30 of the top US mental health professionals and emergency medicine leaders have teamed up to create the Coalition on Psychiatric Emergencies to change the way those experiencing psychiatric crises are admitted into treatment.
Essentially, more and more individuals are seeking psychiatric evaluation and mental health treatment by going to emergency rooms.
“It’s time we think about doing things differently. Through this unique collaboration, the Coalition on Psychiatric Emergencies will focus on developing a more unified treatment model and improving the treatment experience for both patients and healthcare providers. We want to provide the best care for all our patients and reduce healthcare costs.”
-Dr Michael Gerardi, COPE steering committee chair
A National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) survey found that 44 percent of patients who were admitted into mental health treatment via emergency rooms were unhappy with their experience: 38 percent waited more than 7 hours to see a mental health professional, and in 21 percent of cases the wait was more than 10 hours.
This is exactly what COPE is trying to improve.
Decrease waiting for inpatient psychiatric beds (“boarding”) for psychiatric patients in emergency rooms
Ensure education and training for emergency health care providers who care for patients experiencing psychiatric emergencies
Ensure adequate funding and resources for treating psychiatric emergencies
Drive improved quality and safety of diagnosis and treatment for psychiatric emergencies
Advance the research around psychiatric emergencies; develop a continuum of care to include prevention and aftercare; and improve patient and health care provider experience during psychiatric emergencies.
BryLin Behavioral Health System wants to reassure that someone who is facing a psychiatric crisis doesn’t always need to go to an emergency room for hospitalization regarding their mental health. It’s important to remember that you have a choice for your mental health care. When you choose to go to an emergency room, you will likely run into much longer wait times.
If you or someone close to you has insight into a mental health condition and would like to voluntarily seek treatment, they can choose to seek mental health care at BryLin by calling our admissions department. We can quickly perform a phone screen with the individual and check their insurance benefits for them. This process can often be finished with 45 minutes or less.
If you or someone you know is going through a psychiatric crisis, choose BryLin for immediate help. We specialize in mental health treatment and we’re focused on helping you obtain the best quality of care as quickly soon as possible.
Opiate and heroin related overdoses are are in a state of epidemic. Despite the efforts of first responders and the usage of Narcan, heroin is causing Western New Yorkers to die. Narcan has certainly made a positive difference, saving lives in the first moments of overdose, but has also led to drug users believing they are safer than they are, knowing that narcan can save them. This leads to repetitive revivals, but also repetitive failures. Those who seek substance abuse treatment typically overcome their addiction, but its a lifetime battle. Could Supervised Injection Sites help?
Supervised Injection Sites (SIFs) have existed in Europe and Canada for about 30 years, but there has never been one in the United States. “As of 2009, there were 65 safe injection facilities operating in 27 cities in eight countries”
A group of health organizations including including The Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL New York, New York Academy of Medicine and other supporters feel that Supervised Injection Sites, like SIFs in Vancouver, could reduce the amount of fatal overdoses. One Vancouver SIF, Insite, has successfully supervised 1 million injections since opening its doors. Why are they considered successful?
The coalition of supporters for SIFs feel that the supervision of medical professionals, ready to intervene in case of overdose, along with the cleanliness of the facility and sterility of the equipment used for injection means if people are going to use, they will at least use in a safe environment.
“Are you kidding me? Was the first thing I said out loud,”
This was from a Buffalo mother, and former heroin addict who has been sober for two years. In an interview with WIVB Buffalo, she told reporters that she probably wouldn’t have stopped using if she had “a place to go where it was socially acceptable to be an addict and to shoot up and get high.”
She also feels that not only will it ensure that users will find it “ok” to use, under proper medical supervision and free from possession charges, but will also give heroin dealers an endless clientele.
“This isn’t something you can just go out and use and all of a sudden wake up and you’re fine. The necessity of the heroin and monies it takes to keep using heroin will lead people to continue doing what they don’t normally do.”
Alan Rozansky, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office’s Chief of Narcotics also doesn’t feel that this is the answer to solving the problem. This also comes from Channel 4, in another story on the potential of supervised heroin sites.
The power of opiates and heroin lie in the weakness of its user. Once someone has it in their body, they cannot feel normal again until they feel it again. And it’s a slippery slope. Substance abuse treatment, addiction education, and other factors are also on the minds of critics of SIFs.
If more money will go into the development of these facilities where users can go use safely, without the fear of overdose, will it increase or decrease heroin use? If one thing seems for certain, based on the success of Vancouver’s facilities, it is at least that the amount of heroin related overdose deaths should decrease.
BryLin is a proud provider of substance abuse treatment, drug addiction treatment, and mental health awareness. If you or someone you know is using or abusing opiates or heroin, please call BryLin Behavioral Health System to talk to someone about what to do.
Do you have an opinion on whether or not New York State should be the first state in the U.S. with SIFs? Fill out this form and leave us a message, your answer will be confidential.