Monday, May 17, 2010

You're Nuts Not Traumatized - Life Sentence: schizophrenia

May is "Mental Health Awareness" month so for the balance of this month I thought I would continue to post along those lines that began with the post "The Wind Never Lies". Today's post discusses the basis of environment being the recognized catalyst for major "mental illness" diagnosis and my "rant" on how this is overlooked and victims of family "tension" are often re-victimized when their capacity to cope exceeds their available inner resources. Wednesday is a continuation of the discussion of "diagnosis" and the experience of yet another woman who experienced that "Sting of Stigma" and early next week we'll take a look at that idea of conditional vs the unconditional love that Mel gave to her friend Julie who lay dying after a serious physical illness was overlooked very possible because of her diagnosis of "Bi Polar Disorder". We'll end the month with a look at the difference between enabling and dependence vs. empowering solutions that might allow each person affected by mental health issues to create and live their best life in spite of "diagnosis".

Today's post: You're Nuts, Not Traumatized - Life Sentence: Schizophrenia

The onset of "mental illness", the "trigger" or preceptor to the onset of "mental illness" is often a major life stressor event.

That’s what the doctors told me when I asked them why I felt so bad. I mean - I'd been in a bad marriage for 10 years and recently escaped. The church I'd belonged to during those 10 years had shunned me when I filed the restraining order, I'd just discovered my daughter had been drinking on campus at middle school all year and I'd just put her in her first of many long term treatment facilities, I'd lost my job because of the PTSd issues, my house was entering foreclosure and this was just the first half of that "year from hell" in 1993...and my foundation for coping with all of this was being raised in parental abuse and neglect.

So it was clearly stated that it was long term exposure to life stressors that had "triggered" the onset of "mental illness"...yet - not once was it ever discussed that this was a natural response to some extraordinary life events, some of which had me fearing for mine and my childrens saftey.

So something was "wrong" with me is what I was told. And it was bio genetic, incurable. I'd need "meds" for the rest of my life.

Recently a friend asked me about my viewpoint that "mental illness" is an emotional response that triggers the chemical changes in our body that in the end, affects our behavior. The conversation was about that god-awful and what to date is the "worst" diagnosis one can be given - schizophrenia. Below is just one of many quotes, articles and websites on the idea of where "schizophrenia" begins from an article you can find here.

"Crisis and Life Changes and The Onset of Schizophrenia: Abstract: Patients with an acute onset of schizophrenia and their relatives were seen separately to establish the frequency of certain kinds of crisis and life change in the 13 weeks before onset. A general population group was seen for comparison. The two groups differed markedly in the proportion experiencing such changes in the 3-week period prior to onset (or to interview in the comparison group). Long-term tension in the home appeared to increase the chances of patients becoming disturbed after such changes."

So even though it is common knowledge that even the most serious of mental health diagnosis is connected to serious and ongoing life stressors in the home - its not the family system that gets help to learn how to become a healthy family - it's the one who is unfortunate enough to have been exposed to long term family "tension"...and just can't cope anymore.

I mean - everyone has their breaking point and when you beat a dog long enough, eventually it starts to act a little crazy, doesn't it? It cowers, it shakes, it whines. If you try to contain it it may snap or bite. It may even develop some compulsive behavior like running in circles or if it was human, maybe it would wash it's paws obsessively, or be afraid to leave the house. And since the owners are upstanding and productive citizens we call the dog crazy, put it on pills (seriously - this is done every day to animals not just humans - you figure it out...) so since the owner "appears" to be a kind upstanding citizen we label the dog and dismiss it's behavior as "crazy".

Think Michael Vick.

So go figure. Environmental life events set off and are the indicator for the onset "mental health issues"; yet the response to these life events is somehow intrinsic - a time bomb in our DNA waiting to go off - and the only solution is to hand over a stigmatizing label and a lifetime prescription and be written off as being somehow intrinsically "defective"


I'm no doctor - but this is the 21st century, not the dark ages or even the 1600's when these issues were viewed as "demons" or "witches", or the 1800’s where some snake-oil salesman was selling a magic elixir guaranteed to "fix and cure all things human".

Yet we still are labeling, stigmatizing, discriminating and dismissing the often times hidden life events that influence our ability to cope and rebound.

And instead of support and being given a safe place to fall, folks with the kind of life experiences that can cause one to feel "crazy" and inhibit that “resiliency” necessary to cope and come out on top are sentenced to a life that often mimics the hell they came from to begin with.

I'm just sayin'...

Back in the the 1950’s and 60’s following the era of the invasive “lobotomy” and introduction of the “chemical lobotomy” where “meds” became the answer to all things “behavior” focused, parents united and revolted against the idea that environment was related to "mental health" issues and successfully advocated that somehow it was the children who were defective and it was the children bringing the disharmony to the home....”crazy”, “delinquent”, “damaged” but never “abused” were the terms used to describe those who didn’t fit within the “social norms” of easy compliance.

This subject is way beyond the scope of this post, but in conclusion - it just seems odd that while research proves that it is the "long term tension" in the home that is the trigger for even the most serious mental health issues, why is it that the victims of this in home "tension" are being given the various labels of "mental illness" and relegated to being re-victimized by a system that we turn to for help and who too often end up institutionalized in asylum or prison - or taking the extreme ticket to afterlife when they can no longer tolerate the hell they have been unfortunate to have been given as their life.

Thanks for listening.

If you'd like to read more about the idea that Schizophrenia and other "serious" mental health issues can be overcome, you can read Dr. Daniel Fishers story here - he is a psychiatrist who was once labeled "Schizophrenic".


Italiana said...

I got several labels in 2000 that completely ignored my life circumstances. Gee -- sorry folks -- I wasn't able to "turn my frown upside down" after finding out that my partner had financially ruined me, was sleeping with a weapon, and had been fired for sleeping with a client from a residential treatment center. I got the labels, the destroyed repuation and almost lost my life from psych meds. Her? She got off scott-free and went on to ruin someone else's life. It's taken 10 years to recover from this. I'm grateful I did, but it happened only when I got the hell away from the "helpers" and did self-directed healing.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry to hear that this has been your experience; it sounds like it's been a long road and you have found that path that worked for you. Glad you are safe and finding your way. I'm glad you stopped by to comment today...take care.

Marian said...

Well, if we focussed too much on the environment, and started to think that it isn't just a trigger (for the onset of a biological brain disease that probably people are genetically predisposed to) but the actual cause of the reaction that's called "schizophrenia", we'd no longer be able to perpetrate the (violent, destructive and abusive) way the environment (modern western civilization) (doesn't) works, but would have to figure out more sustainable relationships with ourselves and nature. Because the reaction would make it impossible to continue and close our eyes to our own violence, destructiveness and abusiveness as it reflects them. Wow! Imagine what would happen to the economy, to our life style, to consumerism... And we don't want that to happen, do we? So, let's blame the victim. Let's put them into boot camps (aka psych ward) where they learn everything about their defective genes and broken brains, and get any possible rest of dissent drugged out of them.

Oh and, btw, have you heard that a group of European researchers has found chromosome changes to be responsible for "schizophrenia"? They're now trying to develop screening tools that can detect the chromosome changes in embryos. So that, "hopefully, in the future we can spare a lot of people having to experience this dreadful disease" - by murdering them before they even were born (no, in general, I'm not against abortion, but this is not abortion, it's eugenics at its worst). So stated by one of the researchers, Danish Thomas Werge. Never mind that the mentioned chromosome changes were found in 60 - 90% (!) of the general population... And, of course, never mind that there are people with a "schizophrenia"-label out there who enjoy life, fully recovered and independent from the system, people who maybe even are grateful to have had the experience.

It's not even about money, as most people seem to think. It's about politics. It's about getting rid of those who question and protest the foundation of our culture with their reactions to it. So that the rest of us, undisturbed, can enjoy the party on board of the Titanic...

Unknown said...

I agree - it's sad to see the state of the human condition and how we as a species treat our own. No - I hadn't heard this one on the european researchers...there are more than a few theories on the root of these issues.

I think as we raise our individual voices eventually the message may be heard. Until then - we do what we can to change our own worlds and that in turn will be the change that changes the world perhaps.

I'm glad you stopped by Marian :)

Marian said...

Susan: thanks for your comment on my blog. Yes, our brains can be rewired, we can heal.

This European research - an awful lot of noise. Just like all the previous times we've heard them shout it from the roof tops, the "we're just about to-we're quite certain that-we have reason to believe-just a little more research"-propaganda. And people are listening to it, not realizing that it's just that, noise.

I'm glad I found your blog, and I love the interview on BTR. :)

Anonymous said...

I was taught from infancy that I was bad, I was worthless and caused trouble for those around me, so it was a natural conclusion that my symptoms represented more evidence that I was defective. It is a huge paradigm shift to move from "I am defective/sick" to "I was abused". It is an even greater shift to conclude that others abused me and that I am reacting to that injury - I am not, in fact, defective, but responding appropriately to very inappropriate events.

Thanks for your post - it is a great perspective.

Unknown said...

Marion - Neuro-plasticity is a wonderful thing! Yes yes yes - we can with purpose and intent change our natural learned responses and create new neuro-pathyways!

I"m glad you found something useful in the BTR program! Beginning June 3rd we'll have a monthly program on similar issues...I hope you can join us!