Meeting Notes – October 20, 2010

by Clara on October 26, 2010

The regular portion of our meeting was abbreviated because this was a speaker meeting.


Katherine asked everyone to keep introductions short because we had a speaker coming at 7:30. In going around the circle we had everyone answer only the three short questions and skipped the usual 4th item.

  1. Your first name
  2. Your diagnosis
  3. Your mood on a scale of 1 to 10 (bad to good)
  4. What do you do to take care of yourself?

We had a fairly big group and a lot of questions in the question bag. Katherine urged everyone to keep comments shorter than usual. The discussion was lively, as always.

Question Bag Discussion

We stayed in one large group to answer the questions in the Question Bag.

The following subjects came up:

  • Have your anxiety symptoms changed over time?
  • I’m so frustrated and discouraged by people who are ashamed of their diagnosis. If we can’t be straight about it, how can we expect others to be?
  • At times when I’ve been manic I’ve gotten into legal problems. Now I have to clean up the messes after 14 years. How would you handle things?
  • Is anyone dealing with childhood trauma along with a mood disorder? Do you think the childhood trauma increased it?
  • Can someone recommend a good nutritionist who is familiar with mood disorders?
  • Has anyone been to the hospital recently? how did you feel when you got out?
  • How do you evaluate if a relationship is good for your emotional health?
  • The meds I’m on take away all my motivation. What can I do?
  • How should I handle a job application that asks for my medical leave history?
  • Has anyone felt like life is meaningless? What did you do? Why is you life meaningless?
  • What is the best way to deal with the changing season and the days getting shorter?

Alex introduced our guest speaker, Dr. Allison Harvey. He had met her at the Stanford Mood Disorders Day this summer and was so impressed that he invited her to speak to us.

Spaker Presentation – Sleep Disturbance and Mental Illness

Allison Harvey is a Professor of Clinical Psychology, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Harvey’s research interests focus on chronic insomnia, understanding the role of sleep disturbance across psychiatric disorders (particularly bipolar disorder), and sleep across development (particularly during adolescence).

Dr. Harvey brought a 30+ slide PowerPoint presentation to discuss with us the importance of getting healthy sleep. Dr. Harvey explained that sleep is regulated by our circadian biorhythms and illustrated the typical patterns of normal sleep stages.

Dr. Harvey’s slides are not available online at this time. We have located some excellent articles with wonderful illustrations that provide her content in a different format.

The hypnogram showing the typical patterns of normal sleep gave insights into understanding the importance of getting regular sleep.

Hypnogram from McGill University presentation

Visit The Brain from Top to Bottom, An Interactive Website on the Brain and Behavior, hosted by McGill University in Montreal. It is sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA).

The section on Sleep and Dreams provides an outstanding explanation of the topics presented to us by Dr. Harvey. This website is exceptionally user friendly in that it allows you to choose the Level of Explanation (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and Level of Organization (Social, Psychological, Neurological, Cellular and Molecular) to help you explore whatever facet of the topic interests you at whatever level of complexity you want to absorb.

The subject of the difficulty of waking up even with an alarm and the problems with hitting the snooze button brought laughter and a suggestion for a “bouncing” alarm clock that makes you get up out of bed to chase it around the room to shut it up. It’s called the Clocky and it was invented by a research associate at the MIT Media Lab.

Since Dr. Harvey didn’t have the time to present all her slides we invited her a future return engagement.


The meeting ended with going around the circle sharing something good or neutral that happened to you during the week.

Someone brought cookies and refreshments. All were invited to stay after the meeting to socialize.

Member Recommendations:

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship – eBook by Mira Kirshenbaum

The Dance of Intimacy – Book by Harriet Lerner

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – Book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Next Meeting

We meet the first three Wednesdays of the month. Our next meeting will be November 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm – 8:30.