Melinda’s Hep C Survivor Story 1

Melinda’s Hep C Survivor Story 1
By Melinda

I am going to fight a good fight though and do all I can to fight this hep c virus. I suffer bouts of depression though and hope it will not get me down.

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I had my liver biopsy and was very sad when I got the results. I have finally gotten my scripts for Harvoni (ledipasvir sofosbuvir) but I can’t afford it. I got ta hold of Sunny Pharma, Kumar sent me the meds for $800. I want to go to work so bad but I get sick to often now to keep a job and it is not fair to my employer if I am sick all the time.

I had been having problems with my liver enzymes being elevated up to 169 for the alt’s and 122 for the ast’s. I suffer from chronic pain and fatigue. I had my liver biopsy and was very sad when I got the results.

But the doc said it wasn’t that bad and he gave me courage and I really appreciated that.  So many doctors don’t really care espcially when you get this horrific disease.  For the longest time I had no idea why I felt tired and had this foggy problem when it came to doing some basic chores and even writing checks out to bills.

I’m on my second week and this hep c med is really kicking in.  I feel so much better than I had for years, almost over a decade.  I just thought I was getting old but in reality it was the hep c virus doing the hurting all the time.  Some people have told me that they have literally been clinically depressed and put on lots of anti depressants because of hep c.  I never thought it could be this bad.

What’s worst is I have met so many people that have been denied for hep c treatment and I wish I could do something.  I have the fight in me to do that and I now know a good resource to get treatment to help so many.  No way most people cannot afford the generic Harvoni at $24,000.  My doctor recommended me to Kumar.  He’s been a little angel in my life after this hep C issue.

I’m cured now and Iam more than grateful to Soul of Healing and Sunny Pharma, for sending me generic Harvoni, Hepcinat LP. Thank you Kumar.


Sharon’s Hep C Survivor Story 2

Eesamoosa’s Hep C Survivor Story 4

Eesamoosa’s Hep C Survivor Story (by Eesamoosa)

About ten years ago I accidentally found out that I had Hep C. I really did not know what that meant at the time. The years have passed by and I really hadn’t thought about it much. Within the past two years I have become self employed. Being self employed has its limitations. I no longer had an employer to provide me with health insurance. I found an insurance broker and he began the search for a company who could offer me coverage that I could afford. Of course when I filled the paperwork out I did not mention the Hep C because I have never felt bad or needed any help medically and there was the fact that I knew I would be refused by any insurance company if they were to discover my well kept secret. I have had my own personal health insurance now for about seven months. I went to see a specialist about some possible depression or menopause effects. I was not sure what I was going through and regular doctors are always willing to doll out the meds without really knowing what the problem is. I try to be careful with meds and the impact they can have on the liver. I confided in this psychiatrist that I had Hep C and to please not give me anything that would be hard on my liver. The insurance company got my records from her and discovered that I had Hep C as well as other personal facts that are extremely damaging. They have asked me to sign forms that give them access to other medical records. If I do not supply the signatures on the forms they have threatened to make me responsible for every medical bill I have acquired since I began seven months ago. I felt exposed and angry that my privacy was now public knowledge and I would probably not be able to get health insurance on my own again. I am thinking of the letter I will write in response but I feel hopeless. I have not been tested in the years that have passed, I only know that I don’t feel bad but it won’t matter to an insurance company. It will be interesting to see what happens next. I am approaching my 46th birthday and don’t know what I will do for health care. That was last month. Then I ran in to a friend, she confided in me that she had hep C. Her doctor informed her there is a cure for hepatitis C now. Insurance is picky about who it covers and who it doesn’t. I had mentioned that I have insurance but they’re being prickly at this time and I don’t know if I should tell them or not.

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I may have gotten hepatitis C when I lived in Nigeria

She said her doctor works with a lot of low income people and they don’t have insurance either but they got treatment. My friend, at this time got a little bit more closer to me and said, the doctor get his hep C treatment from India a non profit called Sunny Pharma. The cost is less than a $1000 and you will be cured. He guarantees it. This was a huge relief for me and I felt so much better after hearing all of this. Now, I don’t even care about my health insurance for the time being. So, I made an appointment to see him and he said some of the depression issues are due to the virus. So, be careful and get started on treatment right away. I did exactly that, I got what was called Velpanat, I guess its the generic version of Epclusa here in the US. Within 1 week, I started feeling better and my mood was more positive. I finished my 12 weeks course and I got tested and there was no viral load that could hurt me. I went to see my psychiatrist and told him that I do not have the hep C virus anymore and I’m cured. My insurance had me get tested for hep C and there was no viral load. They believed that the body had beat the virus, some 25% of the population beats the virus without any meds. Right now I have insurance and my solopreneur is doing ok, I just have to get out and start banging on doors. I feel a lot better these days than ever before. Thanks everyone for reading my story. It really helps to get information out regarding how you feel and what you’re going through so you’re not alone.

Gainfully Employed with Mental Illness

Gainfully Employed with Mental Illness

“What mental health practitioners need to hear,” Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D., told Psychiatric Times, “is that people with serious mental illness do have the capacity to go back to work.” Russinova is senior research associate at Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and has specialized in researching the connections between mental illness and employment.

“I’ll give you one example. I had a colleague who is a postdoctoral fellow and who has been conducting interviews for our study. She has been so amazed that, as a clinician, she never believed that people with serious mental illness could do this or think clearly about serious economic decision making. She said to me, ‘There probably are so many other mental health professionals out there who think the way I thought.'”

Where occupational therapy was once seen as a treatment tool, the ability to work and earn a living is now recognized as a realistic outcome for many patients. In one study of workers with serious mental illness, Russinova and her colleagues found that 74% of the 687 participants had held the same job for 24 months or longer. In that group, 28% suffered from major depression, 17% had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, 42% had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and 11% had posttraumatic stress disorder or other dissociative disorder.

Across the country, programs are going beyond just training people with mental illnesses for jobs and helping them find employment opportunities. They are creating businesses in which workers who are mentally ill take an active part in running the enterprise, dealing with customers and sharing in the economic fruits of their labor.

employment and mental health

“We’ve seen this happening around the country,” said Ron Honberg, J.D., national director for policy and legal affairs at the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. He told PT, “A lot of times they are food establishments. That’s a successful model, but it’s not widespread. It’s a very cool approach, involving people in all aspects of the enterprise, giving them a stake in how it does. It’s a progressive approach to addressing a need that is very profound for people with mental illness.” Examples can be seen in the Table.

Eloise Newell runs Restoration Project Inc., a vocational rehabilitation program that trains people who are mentally ill in furniture upholstery and refinishing in Acton, Mass. “We do an annual survey of our graduates,” she told PT. “Over the 10 years we’ve been in existence, more than 70% of them remain employed. Their recovery appears to be permanent.”

Newell was a university-level physics instructor when her own son was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a college sophomore. “Sixteen years ago, programs weren’t geared toward recovery,” she said. “He was always ambitious and had a strong work ethic. He said he knew if he could work he would be better.”

She founded Restoration Project on the Montessori model. “My mother started the first Montessori school in North Carolina. Our work here is based on Montessori principles and on constructionism. Stations are set up, and people choose where they want to work. We have a facilitator who looks after the different stations.”

As part of their training, participants work on jobs brought in by consumers. Other upholstery businesses in the area don’t resent the competition, according to Newell.

“The other businesses have reacted very well,” she said. “At first they didn’t think we were any competition, but now they realize that we are. But we’re different: We don’t work that fast, our product is our people.

“We charge less than the going rate. I think that’s required as part of nonprofit status, but we’re only about 10% less. But we’re not that much competition. The fact that we take longer to do the job makes a difference. Our customers are loyal, and they’re also our supporters, the source of much of our funding.”

Participants attend the project two days a week and are supposed to spend some of the time away from the work environment preparing to look for outside work. “A person absorbs what they’ve learned after they do an exercise, which is why you need three days away after working,” Newell explained. “Everything we do here is normal vocational training, skills built on top of skills, problem-solving. It is empowering if you want a person to go forward.”

While participants learn a useful trade and are helped to find a real-world job, Newell said that the project’s focus includes a broader agenda. “Our participants go through the normal stages of recovery. First they work on acquiring transportation, getting a driver’s license, and then a car. Then they work on housing. They learn to advocate for themselves on medications. In about six months, they’re usually ready to get a job.”

Newell added that a consulting psychiatrist monitors patients’ progress, but, “Our program is really based on educational models rather than psychiatric models. We don’t treat our participants like ‘people with mental illness,’ whatever that means. We don’t treat them as patients. The first thing I discovered was that they understood my jokes; they’re not really much different than my students in my physics classes.

“I reject completely the idea that people with mental illness don’t excel. Many of them are smart and talented people. If you treat them like great people, pretty soon they start feeling like great people.”

Russinova is more emphatic in extolling the abilities of people with mental illness. “One of the old myths was that people with serious mental illness could only do low-level jobs–the so-called F jobs: flowers, filing, food. We have done studies that have documented capacity of the mentally ill to be successful.

“For example, in the late 1990s, I did a study with Marsha Langer Ellison [Ph.D., M.S.W.] looking at professional and managerial careers. We studied 495 participants around the country who were able to maintain a high-level job successfully for at least six months. Many of these were people who held jobs for years and years, despite their mental illnesses.

“Some of them were in technical jobs, some in sales, some in middle or upper management,” she added. “These were definitely not in low-level, menial jobs. Forty-eight percent were in professional specialties. Forty-six percent were in executive positions or were program directors. Only 3% were in clerical and sales jobs, and 2% in low-level technical positions.”

Russinova said the group “had a very interesting distribution: 75% of the whole sample was employed full time; 62% had held their position for more than two years; 28% had held the same job for more than five years. What was most interesting was that they had the capacity to keep such high-level jobs for a long time. Thirty-three percent of this sample were working in non-helping professions; 16% were working in health and social services other than mental health–we separated the health services. Thirty percent were in mental health; 21% in self-help advocacy jobs. All in all, it was a very surprising, very positive picture.”

Many of the study participants were dependent on continuing treatment to maintain their positions, Russinova said. “These people haven’t been cured. Eighty-eight percent of the study participants were taking psychotropic medications at the time of study. They had well-maintained, well-managed illness. Seventy-three percent were in some kind of psychotherapy at the time of study.

“These people made heavy use of the mental health system to maintain their working capacity,” she added. “We asked these folks about the things that helped them succeed vocationally. The most important was consistent use of medications. Number two was the support of a spouse or significant other. Third was the support of a therapist. The list varies somewhat per diagnosis. The group with bipolar disorder had a higher percentage of people who were married or in a relationship. In other groups, medications and the support of a therapist were the most important factors contributing to success.”

Last May, the Boston University research team presented baseline findings from a five-year study of sustained employment. Of the 696 individuals who met the study criteria of both a serious psychiatric condition and sustained employment in the two years prior to enrolling in the study:

74% were continuously employed for the entire two years;

17% were employed for 18 of the 24 months;

9% were employed for 12 to 18 of the 24 months;

80% had at least one psychiatric hospitalization in the past;

95% were taking psychotropic medications at the time of the study;

74% were working 35 hours or more a week;

53% had professional or technical jobs and 24% had managerial or administrative jobs;

32% had total annual income of more than $40,000 and 38% had incomes of between $20,000 and $40,000;

43% owned their own home; and

42% lived with a spouse or significant other.

The researchers noted, “Psychiatric diagnosis was not associated with participants’ ability to sustain employment during the two years prior to entering the study. However, diagnosis was associated with participants’ occupational status, the number of hours they worked per week, and the salary they earned per hour. On average, the group of participants who reported a diagnosis of bipolar disorder had a higher occupational status, worked more hours per week, and earned a higher salary per hour than the other diagnostic groups. At the same time, the group of participants who reported a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, on average, had a lower occupational status, worked fewer hours per week, and earned a lower salary per hour than the other diagnostic groups.”

“The bottom line is that people with mental illness are able to sustain employment,” Russinova said. “They can succeed both over time and by moving up in higher level positions. The other thing we found was the importance of education. It makes a difference in peoples’ capacity to get and to sustain better jobs. People will do better if they acquire a better education prior to getting sick or acquire schooling through vocational rehabilitation programs.”

Psychology of Substance Abuse

Psychology of Substance Abuse

Since the beginning of human history and before, people have found ways to alter their bodies and their consciousness by taking substances such as herbs, alcohol, and drugs. Out of this practice has sprung many important contributions to science and culture, prominent among them being the development of modern medicine and the medical profession and the making of fine wines and liquors. Some religions have found uses for mind-altering drugs as a way to aid communion with the divine principle. For all the positives that mind and body altering substances have brought us, one fact is clear. There have always been people who were unable to restrict their use of mind and body altering substances to culturally prescribed limits, and who have fallen into the trap we know today as addiction. psychology of substance abuse Addiction usually does not happen overnight. Rather, people who become addicted to drugs (such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc.) are gradually introduced and desensitized to them over a period of time. They may initially enjoy the use of drugs in a recreational sort of way. For instance, someone might get into the habit of having a beer or some wine after work as a way of releasing the days’ stresses. Someone else may use marijuana on an occasional basis as a way to share special time with friends or as an aid to appreciating food, music, or sex. Another person may start using cocaine as a way of staying up late at night to study for exams. Some people are able to keep using drugs on an occasional basis. Many other people are not so lucky. For these unlucky others, their use of drugs begins (gradually in some cases, abruptly in others) to increase, and the amount of attention they spend thinking about getting high, purchasing drugs, preparing drugs and taking drugs increases until it becomes the center of their lives. Other responsibilities – work, friends and family, and community – fall by the wayside. As their consumption of drugs rises, users may become physically dependent on their drug to the extent that if they do not take it on a particular day, they get sick. As dependence increases, tolerance to the drugs increases as well – meaning that it takes more and more of the drug to get the same ‘high’ or ‘buzz’ effect. As most drugs (with the exception of alcohol) are illegal, they may become increasingly involved in criminal activities (buying drugs is a criminal activity, as is driving while intoxicated). If the process continues long enough, it may become impossible for the addict to hold a job – they may lose their relationships, their income and their marriages. They may resort to criminal activity (such as robbery, prostitution and drug dealing) in order to gain continuing access to their drugs. They may also kill or injure other people (through driving and firearm accidents) while intoxicated, and may get and pass along to others infectious diseases (like AIDS and Hepatitis C). Ultimately, they may end up killing themselves (through suicide, malnutrition, overdose, or drug related physical degeneration and disease). A grim picture that is all the more tragic because no one who starts out experimenting with a drug ever really believes that they would ever experience any of these awful things, especially if you don’t have access to sofosbuvir velpatasvir. No one knows exactly why some people get addicted to drugs while others do not. However, some contributing factors are clear. There is likely a strong genetic component to some forms of addiction (meaning that vulnerability to becoming an addict can run in families, and be inherited from your parents and grandparents). There is also much evidence suggesting that whether or not people develop addiction problems has a lot to do with experiences they have in childhood and as they are growing up. Abuse in varying forms (sexual, emotional, physical, or neglect), exposure to trauma, being a child of addicted parents, or being a victim of severe life stressors can all help push people into addictions. Some evidence also suggests that people experiencing mental illness-related difficulties (such as anxiety, depression, perfectionism, thought disorder and a host of other conditions) may use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage their symptoms; a situation called ‘self medication’. Whatever its cause, addiction is an equal opportunity disease. People of all races, religions, ethnicities, classes and social-economic strata get addicted. It is truly a ‘human’ problem.

Help for addiction is available. For all the many people out there who are actively using drugs and alcohol, there are many others who have struggled with addiction and won a personal victory, on a day by day temporary basis to be sure, but a victory never the less. Help is available in the form of medical attention, medications, psychotherapy, self help groups, and spirituality, but it is only there for the addict who desires it enough to work for it. You can lead an addict to treatment but you can’t make him (or her) stick with recovery. The very first step towards recovery from alcohol or drug addiction is available to you (in part) at this very website in the form of educational materials. The articles in this topic center can help you learn the answer to important questions such as: What are the drugs of abuse? By what mechanism do drugs cause their effects? How do I know if I’m addicted to a drug or alcohol? How would my doctor go about diagnosing drug or alcohol dependence? What are treatments, medications and support groups for drug and/or alcohol addiction are out there and how do they work? We also provide links to numerous drug and alcohol related websites, and point you to books concerned with drug and alcohol addiction and recovery.