Serious Mental Illness Blog

Official blog for LIU Post's Clinical Psychology Doctorate SMI Specialty Concentration

Posts tagged crazy

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Why We Should Stop Calling People “Crazy”By Lauren Messervey, Writer, Huffington Post Canada
When you feel the “crazy” creep up on your tongue, I urge you to remember your compassion. Although I do not wish pain on anyone, I want you to trust me on this; you will likely find yourself in the same sort of pain in your own life. And when it happens, you would be so grateful to find that “crazy” is no longer part of your diagnosis.
It’s patio season in Toronto. I’m sitting at one of my favorite spots in the city, side by side with King Street West, sipping on cherry-cola and locking eyes with the passers-by. At the left of me sit two guys, “bros” by society’s nomenclature. They’re talking about a girl that one of them used to sleep with.
"Man, she was CRAZY," says the first bro to the second. "She called me crying one night, asked me if I even cared about her."
"I told you, man. Didn’t I tell you she was nuts?" said the second bro to the first. "Don’t pretend that you didn’t see it coming. That bitch cried at everything." I think that they high-fived each other. I took another sip of my cola and pretended not to be listening.
This is not the first, second, or thirtieth time that I have heard something like this. “Crazy” is a common insult. According to the likes of the men on that patio, thousands of women carrying any form of “emotional baggage” should be institutionalized. An interpreted weakness is the first sign of insanity. The remedy is to joke about her needing her prescriptions filled and a high five from your buddy.
I hear the exact same words come from women. “Oh my God, she is SO crazy.” “I heard that she is like, certifiably crazy.” “Can you believe him? He is TOTALLY crazy!” And so on and so forth until the words blur together in a menagerie of crazy/stupid. The genders collaborate to form a diagnosis that seems so scathingly official that it would hope to put each doctor out of their practice.
Being a woman between the ages of 17 and 39, I have been labelled “crazy” on numerous occasions. Whether it’s because of my emotional reactions, my philosophies on life, my very basic, human character, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, people have gained immense satisfaction by calling me “crazy.” If accusations held up in court, I would have been committed countless times. It’s really quite exhausting to have to withstand such “professional” scrutiny.
Out of all of the terms to be re-addressed in light of recent mental health awareness, “crazy” should be the first to go. It has become verbal leprosy, a warning to all of those who witness it for fear of spreading its sickness. A crazy girl or boy is to be avoided at all cost. They don’t get to have normal things like love, or happiness, or a good time with friends and loved ones. Instead, they are emotionally quarantined and sent off into the abyss of neglect.
"Crazy" is, in actuality, a label that people use because they do not like the emotional reaction they are witnessing. Humans are insatiable control freaks, and if they see something that they can’t control in another person, it is a threat to their nature. It takes more effort to empathize and sympathize, so a simple label that asserts their power over the perceived "lesser" being is sufficient effort to be used. A singular, hurtful word can give you the power to deny your own humanity and forward your own, superficial glory.
When you call someone “crazy”, you are not helping them. You’re taking away that person’s basic right to feel whatever they need to. You may feel that calling a person in pain “crazy” gives you the upper hand, but in reality, it only helps you cover up your own fears in a shiny coat of ignorance. Your self-validation, however satisfying as it may seem, is short lived.
It is unfortunate that a large majority of the “crazies” are women. Women tend to be more emotional in nature, and generally crave human connection in a more intimate way. In the realm of paranoia’s disconnect, this is the craziest thing in existence. Though men are not exempt from this label, it seems as though the emotional, opinionated, and open-hearted women are being attacked with an unofficial diagnosis on a daily basis. It’s enough to drive you crazy, as it were.
If you are reading this right now and you have never experienced a thought or feeling that would be deemed “irrational” in society’s eyes due to a deep-seated emotional trauma or wound, consider yourself exceptionally lucky or dead (and it’s likely the latter). I have yet to meet a person who has never experienced pain. If we are honest with ourselves, we may admit that pain is the route of every experience or reaction that we would call “crazy.” Look beneath the blossoms of Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, or even Psychosis, and you will be sure to find a very deep, painful root.
I’d like to see the end of “crazy.” I’d like to be able to deal with my emotions with all of the comfort that deep pain affords. I’d like to see the same for all of my friends, enemies, and beloved frenemies. It is far better to be counted as equals than it is to be counted as lessers.
The Chershire Cat once told Alice that, “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” I have yet to meet a person who has never felt broken, never suffered, and has never been accused of being crazy by some non-doctor-or-rather. We’re all in this together, and if we are ever in pain, we have the right to feel that pain and be met with compassion.
When you feel the “crazy” creep up on your tongue, I urge you to remember your compassion. Although I do not wish pain on anyone, I want you to trust me on this; you will likely find yourself in the same sort of pain in your own life. And when it happens, you would be so grateful to find that “crazy” is no longer part of your diagnosis.
Let the doctors be doctors, dear readers. All you have to do is be.

Image Credit: http://lilliemcferrin.com

 
 
For more mental health resources, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog.Click Here to access original SMI Blog content

Why We Should Stop Calling People “Crazy”
By Lauren Messervey, Writer, Huffington Post Canada

When you feel the “crazy” creep up on your tongue, I urge you to remember your compassion. Although I do not wish pain on anyone, I want you to trust me on this; you will likely find yourself in the same sort of pain in your own life. And when it happens, you would be so grateful to find that “crazy” is no longer part of your diagnosis.

It’s patio season in Toronto. I’m sitting at one of my favorite spots in the city, side by side with King Street West, sipping on cherry-cola and locking eyes with the passers-by. At the left of me sit two guys, “bros” by society’s nomenclature. They’re talking about a girl that one of them used to sleep with.

"Man, she was CRAZY," says the first bro to the second. "She called me crying one night, asked me if I even cared about her."

"I told you, man. Didn’t I tell you she was nuts?" said the second bro to the first. "Don’t pretend that you didn’t see it coming. That bitch cried at everything." I think that they high-fived each other. I took another sip of my cola and pretended not to be listening.

This is not the first, second, or thirtieth time that I have heard something like this. “Crazy” is a common insult. According to the likes of the men on that patio, thousands of women carrying any form of “emotional baggage” should be institutionalized. An interpreted weakness is the first sign of insanity. The remedy is to joke about her needing her prescriptions filled and a high five from your buddy.

I hear the exact same words come from women. “Oh my God, she is SO crazy.” “I heard that she is like, certifiably crazy.” “Can you believe him? He is TOTALLY crazy!” And so on and so forth until the words blur together in a menagerie of crazy/stupid. The genders collaborate to form a diagnosis that seems so scathingly official that it would hope to put each doctor out of their practice.

Being a woman between the ages of 17 and 39, I have been labelled “crazy” on numerous occasions. Whether it’s because of my emotional reactions, my philosophies on life, my very basic, human character, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, people have gained immense satisfaction by calling me “crazy.” If accusations held up in court, I would have been committed countless times. It’s really quite exhausting to have to withstand such “professional” scrutiny.

Out of all of the terms to be re-addressed in light of recent mental health awareness, “crazy” should be the first to go. It has become verbal leprosy, a warning to all of those who witness it for fear of spreading its sickness. A crazy girl or boy is to be avoided at all cost. They don’t get to have normal things like love, or happiness, or a good time with friends and loved ones. Instead, they are emotionally quarantined and sent off into the abyss of neglect.

"Crazy" is, in actuality, a label that people use because they do not like the emotional reaction they are witnessing. Humans are insatiable control freaks, and if they see something that they can’t control in another person, it is a threat to their nature. It takes more effort to empathize and sympathize, so a simple label that asserts their power over the perceived "lesser" being is sufficient effort to be used. A singular, hurtful word can give you the power to deny your own humanity and forward your own, superficial glory.

When you call someone “crazy”, you are not helping them. You’re taking away that person’s basic right to feel whatever they need to. You may feel that calling a person in pain “crazy” gives you the upper hand, but in reality, it only helps you cover up your own fears in a shiny coat of ignorance. Your self-validation, however satisfying as it may seem, is short lived.

It is unfortunate that a large majority of the “crazies” are women. Women tend to be more emotional in nature, and generally crave human connection in a more intimate way. In the realm of paranoia’s disconnect, this is the craziest thing in existence. Though men are not exempt from this label, it seems as though the emotional, opinionated, and open-hearted women are being attacked with an unofficial diagnosis on a daily basis. It’s enough to drive you crazy, as it were.

If you are reading this right now and you have never experienced a thought or feeling that would be deemed “irrational” in society’s eyes due to a deep-seated emotional trauma or wound, consider yourself exceptionally lucky or dead (and it’s likely the latter). I have yet to meet a person who has never experienced pain. If we are honest with ourselves, we may admit that pain is the route of every experience or reaction that we would call “crazy.” Look beneath the blossoms of Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, or even Psychosis, and you will be sure to find a very deep, painful root.

I’d like to see the end of “crazy.” I’d like to be able to deal with my emotions with all of the comfort that deep pain affords. I’d like to see the same for all of my friends, enemies, and beloved frenemies. It is far better to be counted as equals than it is to be counted as lessers.

The Chershire Cat once told Alice that, “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” I have yet to meet a person who has never felt broken, never suffered, and has never been accused of being crazy by some non-doctor-or-rather. We’re all in this together, and if we are ever in pain, we have the right to feel that pain and be met with compassion.

When you feel the “crazy” creep up on your tongue, I urge you to remember your compassion. Although I do not wish pain on anyone, I want you to trust me on this; you will likely find yourself in the same sort of pain in your own life. And when it happens, you would be so grateful to find that “crazy” is no longer part of your diagnosis.

Let the doctors be doctors, dear readers. All you have to do is be.

Image Credit: http://lilliemcferrin.com

 

 





For more mental health resources, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog.
Click Here
 to access original SMI Blog content

Filed under crazy mad madness mental illness health mental health mental illness diagnosis disorder stigma respect recovery healthy mind body brain feelings emotions respectful psychology psychiatry cousneling emotional thoughts weak weakness insane insanity help

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Study Ignites Debate Over Non-Drug Treatment For SchizophreniaBy Alexandra MorrisResearchers found that by the end of the study, the patients who received cognitive therapy had reduced psychiatric symptoms as compared to those who did not receive cognitive therapy.Antipsychotic drugs are typically the first-line treatment for the roughly one percent of people who have schizophrenia — often in conjunction with psychotherapy. But for patients who are not helped by the drugs or cannot tolerate their side effects, what’s left?Last month, the Lancet published a study looking at the effects of cognitive therapy on patients with schizophrenia who refused to take medication – and prompted a heated debate within the mental health community.Cognitive therapy involves one-on-one meetings between a patient and a therapist to discuss ways to change thinking and behavior in response to their symptoms.Patients in the study were randomly assigned to receive either treatment as usual — ranging from no treatment at all to psychosocial support and other methods — or treatment as usual plus cognitive therapy. The researchers found that by the end of the study, the patients who received cognitive therapy had reduced psychiatric symptoms as compared to those who did not receive cognitive therapy.Sounds reasonable, no? But initial media coverage included headlines claiming that cognitive therapy was an effective alternative to antipsychotic treatment. The Guardian posted “At last, a promising alternative to antipsychotics for schizophrenia,” and Science magazine wrote, “Schizophrenia: Time to flush the meds?” BBC News reportedly posted a headline “Schizophrenia: Talking therapies ‘effective as drugs.’”Shortly after the study hit the press, bloggers were off and running (from PLOS to The Mental Elf), highlighting the limitations in the study design, such as the small sample size of 74 patients and the fact that nearly a third of these patients dropped out of the study partway through. They urged readers not to generalize the effect of cognitive therapy on schizophrenia based on limited evidence.In fact, cognitive therapy was never compared to antipsychotics in the study. Some patients were even prescribed antipsychotics during the trial as part of their routine treatment. Several of the media reports also failed to mention an important caveat – that the trial was conducted in a specific patient population: those with mild to moderate psychiatric symptoms, as compared to those with severe illness who require hospitalization. The findings therefore cannot be extrapolated to all patients suffering from schizophrenia.Lead study author Dr. Tony Morrison of the University of Manchester attested to the high drop-out rate. He said in an email, “The relatively high rates of attrition (planned and unplanned) clearly limit the confidence we can have in our findings and suggest the need for a larger definitive trial.” The Lancet also published a commentary – Cognitive therapy: At last an alternative to antipsychotics? – that reiterated the study’s limitations.One of the major complaints about the study had to do with the abstract’s concluding statement: “Cognitive therapy significantly reduced psychiatric symptoms and seems to be a safe and acceptable alternative for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who have chosen not to take antipsychotic drugs.”Dr. David Henderson, psychiatrist and director of the Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that the abstract’s conclusion is “a bit of an overstatement, in that it’s suggestive that an effective treatment for patients who don’t want to take antipsychotic medication would be CT [cognitive therapy].”And while he felt the authors presented a good and promising study, he said, “a statement generalizing [the results] to the whole population is very misleading and actually could be quite dangerous. People will want to say ‘Well, let me use CT and not medication,’ and it will be a disaster,” he said.Dr. Henderson stressed the importance of adding qualifiers to explain that the patients studied do not represent the majority of patients with schizophrenia. The study patients who were “not very symptomatic” represented just 10 percent of his schizophrenia patient population, he said.Although the abstract includes no qualifiers, the authors of the Lancet study do mention several of the study’s limitations in their discussion section. Dr. Morrison confirmed that “the results cannot be generalized to hospitalized patients, those requiring community treatment orders and those presenting significant risk to self or others” – in other words, patients with more severe forms of schizophrenia.Could cognitive therapy have an impact on these patients with more severe symptoms? That was not tested in the trial. Henderson was skeptical that it would have the same level of effect, given the severity of illness and difficulty concentrating. “If you have somebody yelling in your head constantly, it’s difficult to focus and to pay attention and to work hard,” he said.Another issue with the study: its subjects reported quite a few negative outcomes during the trial, including hospitalizations and two attempted overdoses – one in each group. This suggests that for those patients, treatment as usual even with cognitive therapy may not have been enough.Antipsychotic drugs carry their own set of issues, including side effects such as drowsiness, weight gain, tremors, and reports that the drugs “mute” patients. Some researchers, such as Dr. Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, are also raising questions about the long-term impact of these treatments. In a blog entry published last year, Dr. Insel reports on a study in which antipsychotic medication proved beneficial in the early stages of psychosis, but over the long term, it appeared to worsen the prospects of recovery.For schizophrenic patients suffering from severe illness, it’s a question of tradeoffs, said Dr. Henderson: “In this population, the risks of not being treated are far greater than the risks of the long-term effects of the medication.”What does it mean to have schizophrenia? Imagine you are told that what you know to be real – the feel of someone’s fingers touching your skin, words you believe have meaning, or your internal voice that speaks to you, advises you, warns you of imminent danger – are just symptoms of a psychiatric disease. There are no fingers touching you, the words don’t exist, and the voice, or perhaps voices, guiding you each day are simply hallucinations. You’re trapped in your own version of reality.Schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder, meaning there are varying levels of symptoms. Some patients have such severe symptoms that they require hospitalization, while others are highly functional – they can live independently, hold a steady job, engage in relationships. Given the range of illness types, it would make sense that there is no universal treatment.For people with schizophrenia today, what is the answer? Antipsychotic treatment combined with psychotherapy? Drugs alone? Cognitive therapy alone? To help answer these questions, Tony Morrison and his colleagues are moving forward with a new trial that will conduct a head-to-head comparison of cognitive therapy versus antipsychotic treatment versus a combination of the two. The findings from that study could prove to be useful for patients trying to decide between treatment options. Stay tuned for results in the summer of 2017.For now, even with the new findings, the guidelines for schizophrenia remain the same: treatment with a combination of drugs and therapy.



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Study Ignites Debate Over Non-Drug Treatment For Schizophrenia
By Alexandra Morris

Researchers found that by the end of the study, the patients who received cognitive therapy had reduced psychiatric symptoms as compared to those who did not receive cognitive therapy.

Antipsychotic drugs are typically the first-line treatment for the roughly one percent of people who have schizophrenia — often in conjunction with psychotherapy. But for patients who are not helped by the drugs or cannot tolerate their side effects, what’s left?
Last month, the Lancet published a study looking at the effects of cognitive therapy on patients with schizophrenia who refused to take medication – and prompted a heated debate within the mental health community.
Cognitive therapy involves one-on-one meetings between a patient and a therapist to discuss ways to change thinking and behavior in response to their symptoms.
Patients in the study were randomly assigned to receive either treatment as usual — ranging from no treatment at all to psychosocial support and other methods — or treatment as usual plus cognitive therapy. The researchers found that by the end of the study, the patients who received cognitive therapy had reduced psychiatric symptoms as compared to those who did not receive cognitive therapy.
Sounds reasonable, no? But initial media coverage included headlines claiming that cognitive therapy was an effective alternative to antipsychotic treatment. The Guardian posted “At last, a promising alternative to antipsychotics for schizophrenia,” and Science magazine wrote, “Schizophrenia: Time to flush the meds?” BBC News reportedly posted a headline “Schizophrenia: Talking therapies ‘effective as drugs.’”
Shortly after the study hit the press, bloggers were off and running (from PLOS to The Mental Elf), highlighting the limitations in the study design, such as the small sample size of 74 patients and the fact that nearly a third of these patients dropped out of the study partway through. They urged readers not to generalize the effect of cognitive therapy on schizophrenia based on limited evidence.
In fact, cognitive therapy was never compared to antipsychotics in the study. Some patients were even prescribed antipsychotics during the trial as part of their routine treatment. Several of the media reports also failed to mention an important caveat – that the trial was conducted in a specific patient population: those with mild to moderate psychiatric symptoms, as compared to those with severe illness who require hospitalization. The findings therefore cannot be extrapolated to all patients suffering from schizophrenia.
Lead study author Dr. Tony Morrison of the University of Manchester attested to the high drop-out rate. He said in an email, “The relatively high rates of attrition (planned and unplanned) clearly limit the confidence we can have in our findings and suggest the need for a larger definitive trial.” The Lancet also published a commentary – Cognitive therapy: At last an alternative to antipsychotics? – that reiterated the study’s limitations.
One of the major complaints about the study had to do with the abstract’s concluding statement: “Cognitive therapy significantly reduced psychiatric symptoms and seems to be a safe and acceptable alternative for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who have chosen not to take antipsychotic drugs.”
Dr. David Henderson, psychiatrist and director of the Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that the abstract’s conclusion is “a bit of an overstatement, in that it’s suggestive that an effective treatment for patients who don’t want to take antipsychotic medication would be CT [cognitive therapy].”
And while he felt the authors presented a good and promising study, he said, “a statement generalizing [the results] to the whole population is very misleading and actually could be quite dangerous. People will want to say ‘Well, let me use CT and not medication,’ and it will be a disaster,” he said.
Dr. Henderson stressed the importance of adding qualifiers to explain that the patients studied do not represent the majority of patients with schizophrenia. The study patients who were “not very symptomatic” represented just 10 percent of his schizophrenia patient population, he said.
Although the abstract includes no qualifiers, the authors of the Lancet study do mention several of the study’s limitations in their discussion section. Dr. Morrison confirmed that “the results cannot be generalized to hospitalized patients, those requiring community treatment orders and those presenting significant risk to self or others” – in other words, patients with more severe forms of schizophrenia.
Could cognitive therapy have an impact on these patients with more severe symptoms? That was not tested in the trial. Henderson was skeptical that it would have the same level of effect, given the severity of illness and difficulty concentrating. “If you have somebody yelling in your head constantly, it’s difficult to focus and to pay attention and to work hard,” he said.
Another issue with the study: its subjects reported quite a few negative outcomes during the trial, including hospitalizations and two attempted overdoses – one in each group. This suggests that for those patients, treatment as usual even with cognitive therapy may not have been enough.
Antipsychotic drugs carry their own set of issues, including side effects such as drowsiness, weight gain, tremors, and reports that the drugs “mute” patients. Some researchers, such as Dr. Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, are also raising questions about the long-term impact of these treatments. In a blog entry published last year, Dr. Insel reports on a study in which antipsychotic medication proved beneficial in the early stages of psychosis, but over the long term, it appeared to worsen the prospects of recovery.
For schizophrenic patients suffering from severe illness, it’s a question of tradeoffs, said Dr. Henderson: “In this population, the risks of not being treated are far greater than the risks of the long-term effects of the medication.”
What does it mean to have schizophrenia? Imagine you are told that what you know to be real – the feel of someone’s fingers touching your skin, words you believe have meaning, or your internal voice that speaks to you, advises you, warns you of imminent danger – are just symptoms of a psychiatric disease. There are no fingers touching you, the words don’t exist, and the voice, or perhaps voices, guiding you each day are simply hallucinations. You’re trapped in your own version of reality.
Schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder, meaning there are varying levels of symptoms. Some patients have such severe symptoms that they require hospitalization, while others are highly functional – they can live independently, hold a steady job, engage in relationships. Given the range of illness types, it would make sense that there is no universal treatment.
For people with schizophrenia today, what is the answer? Antipsychotic treatment combined with psychotherapy? Drugs alone? Cognitive therapy alone? To help answer these questions, Tony Morrison and his colleagues are moving forward with a new trial that will conduct a head-to-head comparison of cognitive therapy versus antipsychotic treatment versus a combination of the two. The findings from that study could prove to be useful for patients trying to decide between treatment options. Stay tuned for results in the summer of 2017.
For now, even with the new findings, the guidelines for schizophrenia remain the same: treatment with a combination of drugs and therapy.





For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under psychotic psychosis schizophrenia psycho mad madness crazy recovery health illness mental health mental illness mind brain body therapy cbt psychology psychiatry med meds drug drugs news science research study hallucination delusion diagnosis

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After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move ForwardBy Cooper Moll; Mental health advocate, psychology student
Arianna Huffington has invited her Facebook followers to share their wake-up calls — the moments they knew they had to make changes in their lives in order to truly thrive and not just succeed — as part of a series produced in conjunction with the release of her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. You can read all the posts in the series here.
When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, something that came as no surprise, as my life prior to my diagnosis was fraught with behavioral challenges. At 21 years old, after years of battling uncontrollable moods, fits of rage, a myriad of body image issues, addiction and frustration with finding adequate medication I found myself in my first psychotic episode. This was no way to live, I knew I was capable of so much more as an articulate young woman with big dreams. At 5 o’clock in the morning on July 7, 2011, after driving through the night with a head full of racing thoughts in a mind that possessed zero ability to cope, I found myself collapsed on the porch of my father’s home manic, enraged and inconsolable. I was surrendering, I could no longer fight the battle my life prior to that summer had felt so unrelenting and inhibiting. After a brief rest early that morning, the first few hours of sleep I had experienced in days, is when made my decision to thrive. For years prior to that hazy morning, I had been urged by loved ones to receive intensive clinical psychological treatment in a formal setting, but I believe part of me was always resisting in denial and arrogance. It was at the end of my rope where I found my desire to change the trajectory of my life. On July 11, 2011, I made the first imprints in the path toward my new way of being in the world. I spent 90 days in intensive psychological care and healing treatment where I acquired invaluable “tools” that allowed me to move forward in the world, the woman I was on my father’s porch that July morning became a shadow of my former self and an unwelcome stranger in my future. 
Almost three years later not a day goes by where I don’t draw on the lessons learned through my decision to thrive. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and work as a peer counselor to youth experiencing their first onset of mental illness in Los Angeles, California. Everything I do comes from a place of gratitude for my demons and experiences that catalyzed my decision to forge the path I am on today. For I would be nothing without them just as I would be nothing without the boundless compassion, patience and support of the loved ones in my life who have championed all of my efforts.
I used to think the notion that people could change was a farce … until I did it myself. I am changing everyday, creating a more authentic self with every opportunity to do so, and within the beautiful chaos of it all — I am thriving.
(Image credits: Bipolar Disorder 1 by chi-of-ink)


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move Forward
By Cooper Moll; Mental health advocate, psychology student

Arianna Huffington has invited her Facebook followers to share their wake-up calls — the moments they knew they had to make changes in their lives in order to truly thrive and not just succeed — as part of a series produced in conjunction with the release of her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. You can read all the posts in the series here.

When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, something that came as no surprise, as my life prior to my diagnosis was fraught with behavioral challenges. At 21 years old, after years of battling uncontrollable moods, fits of rage, a myriad of body image issues, addiction and frustration with finding adequate medication I found myself in my first psychotic episode. This was no way to live, I knew I was capable of so much more as an articulate young woman with big dreams. At 5 o’clock in the morning on July 7, 2011, after driving through the night with a head full of racing thoughts in a mind that possessed zero ability to cope, I found myself collapsed on the porch of my father’s home manic, enraged and inconsolable. I was surrendering, I could no longer fight the battle my life prior to that summer had felt so unrelenting and inhibiting. After a brief rest early that morning, the first few hours of sleep I had experienced in days, is when made my decision to thrive. For years prior to that hazy morning, I had been urged by loved ones to receive intensive clinical psychological treatment in a formal setting, but I believe part of me was always resisting in denial and arrogance. It was at the end of my rope where I found my desire to change the trajectory of my life. On July 11, 2011, I made the first imprints in the path toward my new way of being in the world. I spent 90 days in intensive psychological care and healing treatment where I acquired invaluable “tools” that allowed me to move forward in the world, the woman I was on my father’s porch that July morning became a shadow of my former self and an unwelcome stranger in my future. 

Almost three years later not a day goes by where I don’t draw on the lessons learned through my decision to thrive. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and work as a peer counselor to youth experiencing their first onset of mental illness in Los Angeles, California. Everything I do comes from a place of gratitude for my demons and experiences that catalyzed my decision to forge the path I am on today. For I would be nothing without them just as I would be nothing without the boundless compassion, patience and support of the loved ones in my life who have championed all of my efforts.

I used to think the notion that people could change was a farce … until I did it myself. I am changing everyday, creating a more authentic self with every opportunity to do so, and within the beautiful chaos of it all — I am thriving.

(Image credits: Bipolar Disorder 1 by chi-of-ink)



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under news story true story bipolar bipolar disorder disorder diagnosis hope recovery rethinking madness madness crazy manic psychosis psychotic recover mental health mental illness health illness psychology psychiatry med meds therapy mental mad mind body brain

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Op-ed: Mental illness: Another point of viewBy: Richard Shulman
Richard Shulman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and director of West Hartford-based Volunteers In Psychotherapy, which provides strictly private therapy to people in exchange for community volunteer work they provide, privately and independently, to the charity of their choice.
The Connecticut Forum will soon host a panel of celebrities and professionals to take “An Honest Look at Mental Illness.”  The selected panelists’ consensus is that science has demonstrated that ‘mental illnesses’ are illnesses – biological diseases of bodily tissue… (and that pharmaceuticals are indispensable).
The problem: Prominent psychiatrists – the same people who promulgated this view – now admit that this isn’t demonstrated fact. Never has been.
The psychiatrist heading the National Institute of Mental Health criticized psychiatric “diagnoses” as lacking in both “validity” and any “objective laboratory measure.” His NIMH predecessor agreed: “psychiatric diagnoses seem arbitrary and lack objective tests; and there are no validated biomarkers…”.
Physician Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor-in-chief of the “New England Journal of Medicine,” concurs:  “Unlike the conditions treated in most other branches of medicine, there are no objective signs or tests for mental illness – no lab data or MRI findings…”  “I have spent most of my professional life evaluating the quality of clinical research, and I believe it is especially poor in psychiatry.”
A prominent psychiatrist admitted in the “Psychiatric Times” that the truism repeated to the public, about people’s problems being rooted in “chemical imbalances,” is an “urban legend” – “never a theory seriously propounded by well informed psychiatrists.”
But, isn’t this the very explanation most psychiatric professionals promote to the public? Based on past statements, there’s little evidence that this viewpoint, or the centrality of psychotropic medications, will be questioned by Forum panelists.
People who are upset, confused, overwhelmed are presumed “ill” – not emotionally distressed but medically sick.
For 20 years I served on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Hartford Hospital–Institute of Living, an ethics-in-research committee. IRBs ensure that potential research participants are told the truth about their medical or psychiatric conditions. “Informed Consent” is the medical ethics doctrine requiring that people be given accurate, understandable information; to make their own decisions based on honest assessments of their conditions, and the known risks/benefits of their options.
Researchers (whether funded by drug companies, government or others) are required to submit to IRBs their research designs, including comprehensive summaries of previous research. Buried in pages of background, these scientists repeatedly admit that the conditions we mislabel “psychiatric illnesses” are simply not documented to be diseases of the body – despite decades of attempts to verify biomarkers, specific lesions or physical/chemical malfunctions that might cause these “conditions.”
No reliable, reproducible research has ever demonstrated people’s sadness (“depression”) or a child’s rambunctiousness (“ADHD”) to be physically rooted in tissue abnormality; nor is there an identifiable brain disease called “schizophrenia.” Physical confirmation of “mental illness” is unavailable in research, hence absent in clinical practice.
Check any library. Medical pathology textbooks codify disease — verifiable physical/chemical abnormalities. “Psychopathology” lists theories – not established physical evidence. Markedly different rules of science, logic and culture apply in psychiatry compared to medical science. The proponents of biological theories, ascendant in psychiatry and pharmaceutical companies, downplay this illogicality.
Will Forum panelists tell you that the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the most media-quoted nonprofit source of “lay” information, was secretly majority-funded by the pharmaceutical industry, until a congressional inquiry forced NAMI to divulge their commercial backing?
Will panelists admit the non-specificity of psychoactive medications, their documented sedative, stimulant or placebo effects, and their often downplayed but expectable side-effects?
Will there be any mention of “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” which won the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Prize for best book of 2010 (with judges’ comments, “an in-depth exploration of medical studies and science … [that] punches holes in the conventional wisdom of treatment of mental illness with drugs.”)?
Neglected, in the tunnel-vision search for the biological cause and nature of “mental illness” (and its misleading promotion as established fact) is human experience.
News outlets regularly publish stories of murder, sexual abuse, genocide, family conflict. We human beings, affected by overwhelming events, sometimes show our distress in complex, confusing ways. We may cope with painful, troubling personal difficulties and secrets, and usually work hard to keep those secrets — sometimes even deceiving ourselves.
We can and do help people with their private confusions, trauma, upset and conflict – without a “medical” paradigm that may interfere with their self-examination and improvement. A growing number of resources, including Greater Hartford’s Volunteers In Psychotherapy, help people by exploring and discussing people’s private lives under truly private conditions (with no reports to insurers).
You deserve a second opinion. An “Honest Look” must include the previously mentioned empirical findings… and must consider people’s troubling secrets, which often explain their initially inscrutable personal problems.


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Op-ed: Mental illness: Another point of view
By: Richard Shulman

Richard Shulman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and director of West Hartford-based Volunteers In Psychotherapy, which provides strictly private therapy to people in exchange for community volunteer work they provide, privately and independently, to the charity of their choice.

The Connecticut Forum will soon host a panel of celebrities and professionals to take “An Honest Look at Mental Illness.”  The selected panelists’ consensus is that science has demonstrated that ‘mental illnesses’ are illnesses – biological diseases of bodily tissue… (and that pharmaceuticals are indispensable).

The problem: Prominent psychiatrists – the same people who promulgated this view – now admit that this isn’t demonstrated fact. Never has been.

The psychiatrist heading the National Institute of Mental Health criticized psychiatric “diagnoses” as lacking in both “validity” and any “objective laboratory measure.” His NIMH predecessor agreed: “psychiatric diagnoses seem arbitrary and lack objective tests; and there are no validated biomarkers…”.

Physician Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor-in-chief of the “New England Journal of Medicine,” concurs:  “Unlike the conditions treated in most other branches of medicine, there are no objective signs or tests for mental illness – no lab data or MRI findings…”  “I have spent most of my professional life evaluating the quality of clinical research, and I believe it is especially poor in psychiatry.”

A prominent psychiatrist admitted in the “Psychiatric Times” that the truism repeated to the public, about people’s problems being rooted in “chemical imbalances,” is an “urban legend” – “never a theory seriously propounded by well informed psychiatrists.”

But, isn’t this the very explanation most psychiatric professionals promote to the public? Based on past statements, there’s little evidence that this viewpoint, or the centrality of psychotropic medications, will be questioned by Forum panelists.

People who are upset, confused, overwhelmed are presumed “ill” – not emotionally distressed but medically sick.

For 20 years I served on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Hartford Hospital–Institute of Living, an ethics-in-research committee. IRBs ensure that potential research participants are told the truth about their medical or psychiatric conditions. “Informed Consent” is the medical ethics doctrine requiring that people be given accurate, understandable information; to make their own decisions based on honest assessments of their conditions, and the known risks/benefits of their options.

Researchers (whether funded by drug companies, government or others) are required to submit to IRBs their research designs, including comprehensive summaries of previous research. Buried in pages of background, these scientists repeatedly admit that the conditions we mislabel “psychiatric illnesses” are simply not documented to be diseases of the body – despite decades of attempts to verify biomarkers, specific lesions or physical/chemical malfunctions that might cause these “conditions.”

No reliable, reproducible research has ever demonstrated people’s sadness (“depression”) or a child’s rambunctiousness (“ADHD”) to be physically rooted in tissue abnormality; nor is there an identifiable brain disease called “schizophrenia.” Physical confirmation of “mental illness” is unavailable in research, hence absent in clinical practice.

Check any library. Medical pathology textbooks codify disease — verifiable physical/chemical abnormalities. “Psychopathology” lists theories – not established physical evidence. Markedly different rules of science, logic and culture apply in psychiatry compared to medical science. The proponents of biological theories, ascendant in psychiatry and pharmaceutical companies, downplay this illogicality.

Will Forum panelists tell you that the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the most media-quoted nonprofit source of “lay” information, was secretly majority-funded by the pharmaceutical industry, until a congressional inquiry forced NAMI to divulge their commercial backing?

Will panelists admit the non-specificity of psychoactive medications, their documented sedative, stimulant or placebo effects, and their often downplayed but expectable side-effects?

Will there be any mention of “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” which won the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Prize for best book of 2010 (with judges’ comments, “an in-depth exploration of medical studies and science … [that] punches holes in the conventional wisdom of treatment of mental illness with drugs.”)?

Neglected, in the tunnel-vision search for the biological cause and nature of “mental illness” (and its misleading promotion as established fact) is human experience.

News outlets regularly publish stories of murder, sexual abuse, genocide, family conflict. We human beings, affected by overwhelming events, sometimes show our distress in complex, confusing ways. We may cope with painful, troubling personal difficulties and secrets, and usually work hard to keep those secrets — sometimes even deceiving ourselves.

We can and do help people with their private confusions, trauma, upset and conflict – without a “medical” paradigm that may interfere with their self-examination and improvement. A growing number of resources, including Greater Hartford’s Volunteers In Psychotherapy, help people by exploring and discussing people’s private lives under truly private conditions (with no reports to insurers).

You deserve a second opinion. An “Honest Look” must include the previously mentioned empirical findings… and must consider people’s troubling secrets, which often explain their initially inscrutable personal problems.



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under psy psych psychology psychiatry psychological research psychiatrist crazy mad madness rethinking madness diagnosis mental illness mental health mental illness health therapy hope recovery recover mind body brain neuro neuroscience new news science scientific

23 notes

Schizophrenic and wanting to connectBy Michael Hedrick
It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road. 
I still remember the first group therapy session I went to after I got out of the hospital. I was 20 and had been diagnosed as schizophrenic after a road trip that took me from Colorado to the United Nations building in New York City, my mind riddled with notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and a determination to save the world. Now I was in something of a state of shock, having come to understand that amid the delusions and paranoia that swarmed through my head I was, in reality, insane.
A constant need to move felt like ants crawling over my skin, a side effect of the antipsychotic medications I had been prescribed. Every second of every day, I felt like clawing out my eyes and tearing out my hair because I just couldn’t sit still.
I held up my front, though. I smiled when I thought I had to and tried to be nice to people. Laughter, however, was not something that was possible, and wouldn’t be for a long time.
The group was a dual-functioning therapy technique to address both mental health issues and drug abuse. I had been assigned to it after disclosing that I had a marijuana habit. The doctors had told me that therapy groups were an integral part of my getting better. I agreed to go only to get out of the hospital prison and back home to my warm bed.
I sat in a circle with a melting pot of people. There was the construction worker still wearing dusty boots and clothes splattered with mud, and the depressed sorority girl, makeup and hair still impeccable. The two had formed a friendship over their history with methamphetamine. There was the quiet bipolar Hispanic man who spoke only in short staccato sentences, and the rotund marketing guy who introduced himself by saying his drugs of choice were food, cocaine and marijuana.
I sat there looking at them, hands nervously trying to find a natural position. I could tell they were thinking things about me, adjudicating me on my appearance and facial expressions. While they nodded in a sort of feigned acceptance, I knew they were going to go back to their friends and joke about me, the schizophrenic kid who looked weird.
When it was my turn to speak, I stood and told them in a quiet voice, almost so quiet you couldn’t hear the nervous wavering, that my name was Mike. “Hey Mike, welcome” rang the chorus in a strange unison. It seemed welcoming, but I knew they were waiting for their opportunity to strike. Summoning everything to get any words out, I told them that I had been an inpatient the previous week, where the doctors said I was schizophrenic, and that my drugs of choice were marijuana, cigarettes and, taking a cue from the marketing guy, food.
Having their eyes on me was a special kind of hell, as I stood there fidgeting and averting my gaze. They were all drilling holes into me, isolating my weaknesses and then laughing about them to themselves. They were wolves, chewing at and snapping my bones. I just wanted to get out, but I continued, and when I was done, I sat back down in the chair and lowered my head, refusing to say a thing or acknowledge anyone for the rest of the session.
How had it come to this? I had been happy in high school, popular even, unafraid of my own insecurities, unconcerned with what people thought of me. I can remember having friends from every different clique, every group and every grade. The ability to connect with people seemed so effortless then.
It’s a goal I’ve been striving to reattain for the last eight years.
When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually taking place in reality. Was that inflection in your voice a signal that I should be more friendly — or more reserved? Was that laughter I heard over my shoulder about me or something totally innocuous? These are the kinds of things I ask myself daily.
Recovering from mental illness is a process. It takes diligence in therapy, a strong support system and habitually taking your meds. With different drugs, the paranoia has calmed down, though it is still there, a reminder I’m still sick. Learning to accept what that paranoia was telling me and being all right with it, that I would still be the same person whether or not people thought negative things about me, has been a big part of my recovery.
Since that first group therapy session, I’ve worked harder than you can imagine trying to perfect a state of normal. Regaining the ability to relate to others has been a driving force. I’ve studied books on body language, manners, neuroscience and behavior just to get any small grasp on being a normal person. I know that if I do it right, and successfully connect with another human being, I feel giddy. But more often the interactions are a bit off, or a lot off, though not the end of the world.
Needless to say, it should be obvious that dating is hard for me. But I have friends, and they all know that I have schizophrenia and don’t seem to mind. They seem to accept that mental illness is a disease and not some defect of self. I can see the stigma lessening day by day, although a lot of people are still afraid of it. It’s nothing that a few little jokes and a sense of humor often can’t fix. Still, I know many others with schizophrenia who don’t have it as easy, who suffer every day, and I feel for them because I’ve sure been there.
It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road.


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Schizophrenic and wanting to connect
By Michael Hedrick

It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road. 

I still remember the first group therapy session I went to after I got out of the hospital. I was 20 and had been diagnosed as schizophrenic after a road trip that took me from Colorado to the United Nations building in New York City, my mind riddled with notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and a determination to save the world. Now I was in something of a state of shock, having come to understand that amid the delusions and paranoia that swarmed through my head I was, in reality, insane.

A constant need to move felt like ants crawling over my skin, a side effect of the antipsychotic medications I had been prescribed. Every second of every day, I felt like clawing out my eyes and tearing out my hair because I just couldn’t sit still.

I held up my front, though. I smiled when I thought I had to and tried to be nice to people. Laughter, however, was not something that was possible, and wouldn’t be for a long time.

The group was a dual-functioning therapy technique to address both mental health issues and drug abuse. I had been assigned to it after disclosing that I had a marijuana habit. The doctors had told me that therapy groups were an integral part of my getting better. I agreed to go only to get out of the hospital prison and back home to my warm bed.

I sat in a circle with a melting pot of people. There was the construction worker still wearing dusty boots and clothes splattered with mud, and the depressed sorority girl, makeup and hair still impeccable. The two had formed a friendship over their history with methamphetamine. There was the quiet bipolar Hispanic man who spoke only in short staccato sentences, and the rotund marketing guy who introduced himself by saying his drugs of choice were food, cocaine and marijuana.

I sat there looking at them, hands nervously trying to find a natural position. I could tell they were thinking things about me, adjudicating me on my appearance and facial expressions. While they nodded in a sort of feigned acceptance, I knew they were going to go back to their friends and joke about me, the schizophrenic kid who looked weird.

When it was my turn to speak, I stood and told them in a quiet voice, almost so quiet you couldn’t hear the nervous wavering, that my name was Mike. “Hey Mike, welcome” rang the chorus in a strange unison. It seemed welcoming, but I knew they were waiting for their opportunity to strike. Summoning everything to get any words out, I told them that I had been an inpatient the previous week, where the doctors said I was schizophrenic, and that my drugs of choice were marijuana, cigarettes and, taking a cue from the marketing guy, food.

Having their eyes on me was a special kind of hell, as I stood there fidgeting and averting my gaze. They were all drilling holes into me, isolating my weaknesses and then laughing about them to themselves. They were wolves, chewing at and snapping my bones. I just wanted to get out, but I continued, and when I was done, I sat back down in the chair and lowered my head, refusing to say a thing or acknowledge anyone for the rest of the session.

How had it come to this? I had been happy in high school, popular even, unafraid of my own insecurities, unconcerned with what people thought of me. I can remember having friends from every different clique, every group and every grade. The ability to connect with people seemed so effortless then.

It’s a goal I’ve been striving to reattain for the last eight years.

When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually taking place in reality. Was that inflection in your voice a signal that I should be more friendly — or more reserved? Was that laughter I heard over my shoulder about me or something totally innocuous? These are the kinds of things I ask myself daily.

Recovering from mental illness is a process. It takes diligence in therapy, a strong support system and habitually taking your meds. With different drugs, the paranoia has calmed down, though it is still there, a reminder I’m still sick. Learning to accept what that paranoia was telling me and being all right with it, that I would still be the same person whether or not people thought negative things about me, has been a big part of my recovery.

Since that first group therapy session, I’ve worked harder than you can imagine trying to perfect a state of normal. Regaining the ability to relate to others has been a driving force. I’ve studied books on body language, manners, neuroscience and behavior just to get any small grasp on being a normal person. I know that if I do it right, and successfully connect with another human being, I feel giddy. But more often the interactions are a bit off, or a lot off, though not the end of the world.

Needless to say, it should be obvious that dating is hard for me. But I have friends, and they all know that I have schizophrenia and don’t seem to mind. They seem to accept that mental illness is a disease and not some defect of self. I can see the stigma lessening day by day, although a lot of people are still afraid of it. It’s nothing that a few little jokes and a sense of humor often can’t fix. Still, I know many others with schizophrenia who don’t have it as easy, who suffer every day, and I feel for them because I’ve sure been there.

It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road.



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under mental illness mental health mental illness health body mind brain research survivor rethinking madness madness mad crazy schizophrenia schizophrenic schizo psy psych psychology bipolar psychosis psychotic hallucination delusion hallucinate catatonic mania manic depressed