Monday, December 30, 2013

Random jumbled thoughts on cold remedies and antipsychotics

I've been cooped up at home for the past few days with a runny nose and chest that feels like it's winched to the point where a rib bone might break. A friend suggested that I take an over-the-counter remedy, which, at first, I chose not to do, since I rarely buy the non-prescription medication that doctors usually add on to their prescriptions, considering it mostly a waste of money. Either a prescription will do the trick, or it won't.

But, I reconsidered my friend's suggestion because I want to be in good shape for an unusually festive New Year's Eve, and was hoping against hope that the non-prescription stuff worked.

Here's the verdict. Since I am still coughing up a lung and the nose continues to run, and I had no sleep last night, it's hard to imagine that the non-prescription stuff works better than just letting nature take its course. I believe I am no further ahead cold-wise. As I lay on top of my bed and stared at the ceiling this afternoon while sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose, I began to think about - what else? - antipsychotics. If we compare psychosis to a long running and miserable cold, are we better off with the prescription than we would be with "over-the-counter remedies," e.g. the therapies, strategies, and attitudes that I discuss in my blog.

Putting aside the very real concerns about antipsychotic side effects, the best one can say about them is that they sedate in emergency situations. and can be useful in the very short run. "But antipsychotics are prescribed," some will say, "and these prescriptions work," and they might go on to say that everybody knows that there is no cure for the common cold. To which I would answer, and there is no "cure" as such for schizophrenia. Should we believe the pharmaceutical companies when they say that people are better off long term on prescription antipsychotics than they would be using non-pharmaceutical, non-prescription remedies?

Going through the thought processes that I did while lying in bed this afternoon, I can't help but reach the conclusion that the public has been suckered into a willingness to pay for non-prescription cold remedies and prescription antipsychotics.  The common cold is short and psychosis is long, but where is the proof that taking cold remedies or antipsychotics gets a person back on their feet any sooner than they would have if they had just taken normal precautions and sweated it out with e.g. chicken soup, a box of kleenex, psychotherapy or tender loving care from someone who believes that this, too, shall pass.

End of year thoughts

I haven't done a post for quite a while, and I'm not adding my two cents worth much on other blogs and sites for a number of reasons. I'm disengaging more and more from the intense and too often ugly online debates surrounding mental health issues.  I feel that after ten years of searching and questioning, I know what I know about about how to help my son work through "schizophrenia," and I no longer have the mental energy or the patience to convert others to my way of thinking. All I can offer are my own opinions based on my experience with Chris, and if I don't put quotation marks around the word schizophrenia, is the world going to end? Apparently for some people it will. I think an intense debate about the validity of schizophrenia and the drugs given to treat it is a welcome change from the past and is forcing needed change. I applaud the many good people willing to go to bat for those changes, but now I think it's time to stop focusing on the often minute differences of opinion between people we perceive as our enemies; there is a huge risk of marginalizing our growing base of support if we don't reign in the rhetoric. We are attacking people over words and I'm looking for more useful ways for me to contribute.  Even though I feel I have a message of hope about recovery that can be practiced to some degree of success by others, at the same time I feel that I'm not adding anything terribly new to the schizophrenia knowledge bank that I haven't said many times before.

Another reason I haven't posted much is that Chris is almost thirty, and really, it's time I bowed out of publicly recording the latest events as if I were the proud mother of a toddler or grade school student. Why I'll most likely continue blogging is because I like writing personal stories and I like reading personal stories because I think that they have the greatest reader interest and impact. But, by the time my" baby" reaches 30 next month, maybe it's time to NOT to document his every achievement and struggle.

We are living in narcissistic times. Anyone who blogs about or uploads Youtube videos of themselves or their close relatives (check out Holderness family Christmas video) can be accused of being narcissistic, but the trick is to manage to avoid the label by claiming a greater altruism (smiley face goes here). I'm blogging about Chris and me as a public service (and here) of hope to all those families who are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If it has to be the two of us to bring this message of hope, I'll risk being called a narcissist. There just aren't a lot of blogs right now written by relatives and targeted to families who are uncomfortable with the medical model of the "disease." It is through personal anecdotes from other mothers and fathers where many of us strengthen our hope. I would love to have some competition here in the blogosphere from the hope crowd to counteract all the crowded field of parental scare mongerers.

To end 2013 on an upbeat note, here is a summary of the good things that have happened to Chris and me on our journey this year.

Chris - got girlfriend, broke up with GF, seems to be back with GF, appeared in several theatrical choruses, attended an out of country course in musical theatre production, enrolled in a Monday night acting course, continues to be a member of several choirs, has gained greater ability to stand up for himself and voice his opinions  (Note: All of this did not happen overnight. It has taken several years for him to get to this level of confidence, and he and I both know that there is still work to be done.)

Me - learning that it is never to late to learn something new, enrolled in two online courses about how to practice recovery and sustain hope.

Happy New Year everyone. May 2014 bring you peace, good health, and hope.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A message of hope from Jen Maurer, Managing Director, Mother Bear; Families for Mental Health

Rossa's note: I'm on the Advisory Group of Mother Bear and have taken two of its online courses  on practicing recovery and sustaining hope. I am so grateful to Mother Bear for filling a huge gap in the recovery movement -- helping families to understand and appreciate the human side of psychosis and mental distress. Mother Bear's online courses and Help Hotline, is a godsend. A few months ago my son, Chris, called the hotline when he needed an empathic someone to help him work through his emotional state. He keeps the SOS phone number handy and knows he can be listened to with empathy when he calls.

I've made my donation to keeping the Hope Light brighter and I urge you to consider donating, too. 

Jen Maurer

Dear friends,

As many of you know, for the past two years I have been working for a labor of love-literally and figuratively-as Managing Director of a new nonprofit, Mother Bear: Families for Mental Health (, which is dedicated to helping families heal from intense emotional distress.

The traditional medical system, friends and other family members have often given up all hope for these families. Not surprisingly, families come to us with barely a flicker of hope left that their loved one will ever recover or that they will recover from the exhaustion and worry that comes from caring for someone who is in chronic distress.

That is what is heartbreaking about my work. Seeing how deeply families are struggling without support.

What is heartwarming is being able to share with families that with support and education, we can help them reduce relapse rates by as much as 75%. Fact. Decades of research to prove it.

Recovery from even severe emotional challenges is not only possible, it should be EXPECTED… with the right support, of which there is precious little.

That’s where we come in. Mother Bear is, quite literally, a light in the darkness for families. 

I am asking you to consider helping us burn our Hope Light brighter by making a contribution of any kind to Mother Bear today (Dec. 3rd), otherwise known as #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a movement that encourages people to take collaborative action and harnesses the power of social media to create an international Day of Giving that thrives on the spirit of generosity and amplifies small acts of kindness in the service of changing our world for the better.

Here are just a few of the ways you can help Mother Bear transform lives:

* “Like” us on Facebook ( to spread the word that recovery is possible and to share our healing resources. We are ALL touched by mental health challenges (yes, 1 in 4 of us at any given time!). You may not know whose life you are helping by sharing. Rest assured, you are.

*Post our #GivingTuesday link on your Timeline and ask your friends and networks to do the same.

*Call our Hope Line at 1-855-I HOPE 4 U between midnight tonight throughtomorrow Dec. 3 (ending at 11:59 pm) and tell us what brings YOU hope. We’ll share it with our growing network of families on Facebook and Twitter! (I’ll be taking calls from 8 am to 3 pm tomorrow if you want to call and tell me your hope story personally!)

*Make a financial gift in any amount. If you contribute before 11:59 pm on Dec. 3, your gift (and your friends’) will be matched up to $150K! (That is a lot of HOPE!)

Our special goal for this campaign is to secure the resources and staff necessary to increase our Hope Line hours in 2014 so more families can get support when they need it. We are currently the only toll-free Family Mental Health support line in the country.

I'm grateful for your friendship, your support and all the healing work you do in your own ways!

Wishing you all Hope- and Love-Filled, Healthy Holidays!