Two blog posts worth reading

I have come across two blog posts that I think deserve a wider audience. The first is written by WillSpirit, a medical doctor who is now asking those of us who most understand mental distress to speak up. Please read the full post here. I have excerpted two paragraphs below.

I started reading textbooks of psychiatry, thinking I could help others now that my own problems had receded. I applied to psychiatry residencies and psychology graduate programs, but was rejected by them all despite my rather stellar academic background. It became obvious that the programs felt uneasy with my psychiatric history, which I’d disclosed in the naive (or stubborn) belief that it should qualify rather than disqualify me for work in the field. Now I had a new reason to suspect systemic problems in the mental health industry. If it fears those who have most used its services, how compassionate can it really be?

It’s time for those of us who most understand mental distress to speak up. We who’ve suffered with depression, anxiety, confusion, delusional states, and so on are in the best position to understand them, especially if we’ve managed to work through our difficulties to achieve a balanced, peaceful state of mind. We are also most aware that mental health problems as currently defined are not always negative. The ‘system’ has so focused on the shadow side of moodiness and perceptual alterations that the enhancing aspects have been forgotten. But most of us who’ve struggled with powerful mental states recognize that, properly harnessed, they confer a kind of grace.

The second blog post on recovery is by Pamela Spiro Wagner. I have been aware of her writing for quite a while now, but I perhaps unfairly judged her as too tied to the medical model of her “illness.” Without knowing her except through her skillful writing, she impresses me as an innate artist foiled and failed by the psychiatric system, which buries, not praises, those it purports to help. Through her own tenacity she has come to accept herself as an artist. My editorial comment is that the “system” can save a lot of people a lot of grief if it would recognize that creativity may produce bouts of psychosis.

Usually when anyone else but someone with a psychiatric diagnosis speaks of recovery they mean, full-out cure. Let’s not kid ourselves. When you recover from pneumonia, you get better, you do not have pneumonia any longer. When you recover from the flu, you are cured. When you recover from a broken leg, ditto. Yes, there may be residual damage, if you have a heart attack say, or pneumonia, but you do not still have the process itself going on, or you would not call yourself recovered. Rarely do people say that they are chronically IN recovery from anything but either a psychiatric illness or poorly controlled substance usage. But man, do we! The problem with this whale is that like Moby Dick it can lead you out to sea, capsize your boat and abandon you, floundering. What use it is to say, you are in recovery, if you remain miserable, despite all the medications stabilizing you so you are not “in the hospital” or “utilizing resources”?

8 thoughts on “Two blog posts worth reading”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing the story of your journey with your son. The content of your blog is insightful, personal and very informative for those dealing with schizophrenia personally, or looking to learn more about a holistic approach to treating mental illness. Thanks for putting so much into this. I maintain a blog which discusses holistic medicine and its uses, specifically in Mexico. I have recently linked a post back to your blog, and would love to get your feedback on it. Please take a look and thanks again Rossa!


  2. Rossa,

    What I take away from reading Pamela’s blog (briefly) is a full-on account of someone living with occasional psychosis. I love your blog, but oftentimes, we are rather removed, I think it’s fair to say. Pamela’s is more the front lines kind of experience. I have opinions about the drugs she uses (the pharmaceuticals), but at the same time, I don’t feel right just laying those out to her, for some reason.

    Secondarily, when she says, I have no idea there could be a more expansive life outside these four walls and cigarettes, I must say that applies to many more people than just those who have received a schizophrenia diagnosis! But it probably applies especially to people with a schizophrenia diagnosis.

    Thanks for cluing your readers into both blogs.


  3. B’ham – I am getting a little more adventurous these days in blog posts I tout by other blogers who I wouldn’t have aligned myself with in the past. I decided that maybe the time is ripe for a second opinion, so to speak. Will these bloggers shun what I have to say or will they or are they already starting to rethink their own healing processes in the light of new evidence about the brain and psychiatric drugs. I sense this is beginnign to happen. It’s true I’m not on the front lines in the same way as blogs written by patients, but I am on the front lines as a parent. The diagnosis and medications are like dropping an explosive into a household. The impact is everywhere. Consider something like weight gain. One day your good looking smart child turns into someone 100 pounds overweight and sitting in a chair all day not able to string two words together. You go out and replace his wardrobe, which has been replaced several times before he even got to 100 pounds overweight. The medication is changed and he/she loses weight. You go out and replace the clothing again several times on the way down. Then your relative goes back into the hospital for a while and you have to replace the clothing when he comes out because hospitals seems to chew up or swallow them, and, of course he’s gained weight. We’ve spent thousands on my son’s wardrobe and he’s still got nothing to wear! This may seem petty in the larger scheme of things, but it adds insult to injury. I refer to it as a little talked about but important side effect of the medications. LOL.

  4. Rossa,

    You wrote:

    “The diagnosis and medications are like dropping an explosive into a household. The impact is everywhere.”

    Tell us how you really feel, Rossa…

    I gotta say, it’s nice to see the passion!

    As a fellow-parent who underwent some of this, I would like to add a little something to the conversation…

    Just how toxic are psychiatric drugs to a family?

    A bumper sticker that I saw many years puts it all in perspective for yours truly –

    “An atomic bomb can ruin the whole day.”

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  5. Duane,
    Here’s how I feel, not how I “really” feel. I’m not trying to hide anything here. I’ve made my position clear in a number of blog posts and comments. If the world were perfect, people seeking help for their psychosis would be treated with a combination of nutrition, nutritional supplements and good psychotherapeutic understanding of their condition. That would often involve a psychiatrist or a psychologist, or even a grandmother, if she were the right person. Drugs are sometimes necessary to bring the person down to a point when they are no longer a menace to themselves or others. The problem is the dishonesty that has evolved when it comes to the medications. I don’t need to explain further as I have done so over and over in other blog posts. Drugging children under 18 is a different kettle of fish, and one that is particularly abhorent. I believe that schizophrenia is a condition of young adulthood, not childhood, so any child given that label and the medications that go with it is being suckered by the system, which has grown extremely dishonest over the years. The medications, as we all know, are not for children. If a child gets a schizophrenia label, chances are it ain’t schizophrenia (yet). That being said, I have a hunch when I observe some kids, who the ones are with the tendency to grandiosity, but giving them drugs will just put them there sooner and lead to other problems. My gripe with my son’s treatment is that while I might be able to accept the drugs for the acute period of crisis, I cannot accept the dishonesty where you are told that these drugs will protect your brain and you will need them for life. There are some people, and it boggles the mind, who have swallowed the drug regime hook, line and sinker. These people are on lethal cocktails of drugs. We were lucky in our jurisdiction in that my son was never on more than two low dose drugs at a time. That being said, they did nothing for him except keep him from seriously harming himself or others in the acute phase. Once you get on drugs, no matter how small a dose, one thing leads to another and they rule the household. Every consideration seems to be driven by the drugs.

  6. Rossa,

    As a regular reader of your blog, I know you’ve made your position clear.

    I just wanted to tell you (in my own passionate way) that I’m proud of what you’ve done to get the message out with your site!

    I wish there were more like you!

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  7. Duane – So where are the others like me? I’m getting quite lonely. Surely there must be other mothers and fathers who are in my camp. Why aren’t they blogging? I will turn your comment into today’s blog post. Thanks!

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