Interviews

First Name
Jill
Age Group
51-55
Gender
Female
City
Brooklyn
State
New York
Zip Code
11209
Marital Status
Married
How many people share the living space with you?
1-5
What is your highest level of formal education?
Bachelor Degree
What race/ethnicity do you belong to?
White
What is the frequency of your visits to the health care provider?
Every 3 Months
Are you presently employed? If yes, what is your occupation?
No, I am a homemaker.
Were you employed previously? If yes, when and where?
Yes.... did various types of office work since my college graduation in 1971, including word processing, typing, phones, proofreading, copy editing, some writing. My last position was as a computer typesetter at a local newspaper publishing company (April 1987 - March 1988).
What conditions have you been diagnosed with? When? Where?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (diagnosed by therapist around 1990), Bipolar Disorder (diagnosed by therapist around 1997), latent Early-Onset Alzheimers Disease (diagnosed by neurologist in 2003, via MRI showing atrophy of cerebrum and cerebellum).
Have you ever been hospitalized? If yes, how many times? When was the last time that you were hospitalized?
Yes, three times.... first time around 1971, second time around 1984, last time around 1985.
Please describe everything you know about your condition(s) and how you obtained such information?
My OCD symptoms have been occurring since childhood, but until about 16 years ago I thought I was "the only one" with this condition. I have had the classical symptoms of repeated handwashing, contamination fears, worry about "doing something wrong", checking, counting, etc. My most extreme symptom, however, has been self-mutilation -- tearing of skin on my hands and lips to the point of injury or infection. I was diagnosed with OCD around 1990, after seeing TV shows on the condition and consulting a therapist as a result. My Bipolar Disorder has manifested as extreme moodswings from euphoria to deep depression, resulting in more than one nervous breakdown. I was diagnosed as Bipolar around 1997. My latent Alzheimers condition manifests occasionally as memory lapses, especially relating to common words. I had already been seeing a neurologist to prescribe meds for my other conditions, and in 2003 she sent me for an MRI to investigate. The MRI revealed atrophy of my cerebrum and cerebellum, indicative of an early-onset Alzheimers condition (my mother had both Alzheimers and multi-infarct dementia).
Please illustrate your life before, during, and after learning of your condition(s) and engaging in therapies, if any?
Before I knew about OCD and Bipolar Disorder, my life was essentially a nightmare rollercoaster, made worse by the conviction that I was a "freak". Now that I know about the prevalence of both conditions in the general population -- and the fact that they can be treated -- I cope far better.
Please describe how you cope with your condition(s), if at all, and the effectiveness of each strategy?
I've been through so many courses of medication and so many different therapists for the OCD and the Bipolar Disorder! I've finally settled on 10 mg Lexapro daily for the OCD, and daily mega-doses of over-the-counter Omega 3 for the Bipolar Disorder (after 7 years of Depakote which ultimately gave me severe body pains). I no longer go for psychotherapy because we can no longer afford even the insurance co-payments for the treatments.... and it was not particularly effective anyway. I have found reading about religion and philosophy to be most helpful in that regard, though I still have intermittent bouts of self-mutilation. For the early-onset Alzheimers I was originally placed on Aricept and then a combination of Aricept and Namenda.... but these too produced body pains, and I am now off them. Instead, I take various over-the-counter supplements such as Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and green tea. So far, so good!
Does the state of your health impede in any way your everyday activities such as work, housework, studies and so on?
It varies. When I have the self-mutilation episodes, I cannot get anything done -- and the resulting injury to my hands often impairs my ability to do housework for several days afterwards. Usually, however, I manage fairly well. My brain still shows no signs of progressive deterioration (thank God!), and I am able to read avidly and also study the Japanese language in my spare time.
Does the state of your health impede in any way your social activities, such as inviting others to your residence, accepting invitations, going out with friends and so on?
It does interfere with inviting others to my residence, although part of this has to do with my husband's steadfast refusal to clean up after himself (he has problems of his own). I still enjoy going out with friends, though when I am depressed or in self-mutilation mode, I am not in the mood to socialize.
How would you classify your daily interactions with people in general? (Comfortable, neutral, awkward, unpleasant) Please describe in detail.
Fairly comfortable in general, though I tend to "second-guess" everything I say and do, looking for errors or faux-pas I may have made, and "beating myself up" for these errors in retrospect.
How do you envision your future?
I hope and pray that I will someday be able to stop mutilating myself entirely, as this is my main problem. I also hope that a cure or a very effective treatment for Alzheimers will be found so that I will not suffer my mother's fate.
On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
Disagree
At times I think I am no good at all.
Strongly Agree
I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
Disagree
I am able to do things as well as most other people.
Disagree
I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
Agree
I certainly feel useless at times.
Strongly Agree
I feel that I'm a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.
Strongly Disagree
I wish I could have more respect for myself.
Strongly Agree
All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
Strongly Agree
I take a positive attitude toward myself.
Strongly Disagree
I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
Agree
If someone opposes me, I can find the ways and means to get what I want.
Strongly Agree
I am certain that I can accomplish my goals.
Strongly Agree
I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events.
Agree
Thanks to my resourcefulness, I can handle unforeseen situations.
Agree
I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.
Agree
I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities.
Strongly Agree
When I am confronted with a problem, I can find several solutions.
Strongly Agree
If I am in trouble, I can think of a good solution.
Strongly Agree
I can handle whatever comes my way.
Strongly Agree
With my illness experience, I feel I am:
Often tense
More often uncomfortable
Often in agony
More often distraught
More often discouraged
More often unsure
More often helpless
Almost always uncertain
My relationships help me feel I am:
Almost always worthless
More often distressed
Almost always distant
Almost always isolated
More often excluded
More often blamed
Almost always criticized
Towards those who are emotionally close to me, I feel I am:
More often forgiving
More often welcoming
More often accepting
More often encouraging
More often trusting
More often understanding
More often respectful
Universal beliefs and principles or a divine presence help me feel I am:
More often inspired
More often comforted
More often accepted
More often guided
More often embraced
Equally in harmony and out-of-step
Often sustained
Towards universal beliefs and principles or a divine presence I feel I am:
More often listening
More often receptive
More often thankful
More often accepting
More often approaching
More often willing
Equally connecting and separating