Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Downbeat bloggers

If anybody came to me today asking my advice about how best to treat schizophrenia, who am I to tell them what to do? Anything I say would imply that I have all the answers, and I don't. From time to time I look at other people's blogs on schizophrenia, blogs written by people who do not embrace the same "try anything remotedly feasible" approach that I do. I like to look at what the competition is doing.

The competition is rarely upbeat. The competition seems sad, very sad, about their relatives. They are sad about themselves. They have tried everything, done everything, and nothing has worked it seems. Their relatives are still hospitalized/group homed/dead/take your pick.

No two family situations are alike, but I do sense a pattern. The downbeat bloggers (DBs) tend to medicalize their relative's mental health condition. This means they fully respect the label and, while not happy with the efficacy of the drugs, they go along with the idea that the drugs are essential to their family member's "functioning," as they term it. Once they have bought into the medical model, their interests begin to extend outward to urge the community to accomodate their relative and others. It all sounds reasonable, doesn't it, to want to try to improve society when you have the requisite insight and experience.

It seems to me, however, that the DBs don't want to change themselves, they want to change their relative, and failing that, to change others.

If these bloggers were more cheerful about their own family member, I could be persuaded that they were on to something that might work for others.

In order to arrive at this blast of insight, I took the advice of former patients, who are almost unanimous in their condemnation of the medical model. I strongly suspect that the reason the downbeat bloggers don't ask former patients for their advice is because they do not believe mental illness is curable. There are no former patients in their mindset. There are only the misdiagnosed former patients. DBs are doomed from the beginning if this is how they feel.

Obviously, there is a place for professional help. However, the goal is to distance yourself and your relative as soon as possible from becoming overly dependent on professionals' advice and their hold on your life. The idea is to empower yourself by believing in the innate human ability to rise above adversity. People actually can cheer themselves up by empowering themselves. Nobody is born mentally ill. People become "mentally ill." If a relative is troubled, this is an opportunity to examine your own life, to see how your thoughts become actions that have an impact on others. I often think that the person with the mental illness is the person who has managed to escape from somebody else's power over their life. They have checkmated the person. They have put them in their place. It's really odd and unproductive (albeit creative), but it works.


  1. Rossa,

    I love the your insight! I have come to the same conclusions about the opportunity which is presented. I also see a whole lot of truth, to the perspective that the person diagnosed with schizophrenia has managed to escape somebody else's power over their life.

    In my opinion, those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are robbed of the very thing that would most help them by family and mental health professionals who do not respect their wishes, opinions, or decisions. They are robbed of the hope of ever having the Right to determine for themselves any major life choice or make any decision without family or professional 'approval.' They are robbed of their dignity when even simple decisions are questioned/disapproved of, or just NOT allowed. People with diagnosis of schizophrenia are sensitive and have a whole lot of insight; at least the several I know do. The fact is professionals and family who have never attempted to understand what is being communicated by a person in distress, then claim it is the person with the diagnosis who lacks insight! It is more than a little ironic, it is tragic; and it is a violation of their Human Rights.

  2. This is beautiful, and I couldn't agree more! The more stable I become, the more I dig in and heal the nasty core of my "mental illness," the more I see it for what it is. The medical model NEVER appealed to me, thank god. By offering my body, mind, and soul support and compassion rather than being numbed and damaged by pharmaceuticals, I am indeed healing. Humans are amazing, we really are...I don't know why people are so damn afraid to let us live the full human experience and find our way to wellness.

    And I LOVE your statement about "mental illness" as a creative checkmate! Indeed, I checkmated my childhood abusers and refused to let them live on inside of is no coincidence that my psychosis occurred just after I became a mother. It was when my spirit finally said, enough is enough, I will not pass this on to my child.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Yours is a much needed voice of inspiration, given just how many DBs there are! :)

  3. Yoblue - You've got the idea. Your son is one of the lucky ones. You are on his side. That goes a long way.

  4. "I often think that the person with the mental illness is the person who has managed to escape from somebody else's power over their life. They have checkmated the person. They have put them in their place. It's really odd and unproductive (albeit creative), but it works."

    This bears further contemplation (on my part)!



I am no longer approving comments. All I ask is that you be respectful of others and refrain from using profanity.