Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recovery: not what you were thinking

Chris and I have come full circle. He has been out of the hospital since May and doing well at home. By doing well I do not mean he is free of delusional thinking. It is there, running beneath the surface like a low grade fever. This may come as a surprise to anyone who labors under the false impression that being on meds takes care of all that. It doesn't. Chris, for the time being, is sociable, humorous, helpful, and a regular guy in many respects. May it ever be so. He is once again considering enrolling in a university course this fall, if only to stem the loneliness. I have faith that Chris will continue to recover in surprising ways.

I am pleasantly surprised to discover that Chris has recovered rather quickly this time around. This is not what I have been led to believe. I have read countless articles that claim that it takes much longer to recover with each relapse. I don't know where this claim comes from, but naturally my suspicion falls on the pharmaceutical companies. Even so, real people (as opposed to just pharmaceutical companies) also report that it takes longer for the medications to be effective a second or even third time around. The issue is whether you consider the medications effective in the first place, which I do not. I feel that the medications have only been helpful for Chris as a sedative, not as a symptom reliever.

Chris was a more evolved person in any case before his recent slide. I credit this to the fact that my husband and I cared enough to keep at it and to try new ways of thinking and new interventions. I consider it less a relapse on Chris's part than a necessary breakthrough. R.D. Laing says it best: “Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.”

I hope that I have painted a realistic portrait of what recovery can look like. It is not as straight up as many would have you believe. I do believe, however, that focusing on the individual and not giving up, goes a long way towards helping your relative regain a normal life.


  1. It's a win-win for these pills and psychiatrists. If the patient doesn't improve, well, that's just the illness. If a patient gets worse, well, that's just the illness. If a patient improves, well, hallelujah for modern psychiatry. They can do no wrong.


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