The other side of me…ntal health & drugs.

Much has been made of depression, Bipolar and the importance of treatment recently. I have much personal and professional experience and want to add one more little sideways shout to the issue.

I have had people I called friends commit suicide, and others just die…
I wish the formula was as simple as Cognitive Behavioural therapy for some, drugs for others and it should all be OK… The drugs are clumsy, the therapy very variable.
I am one of the lucky ones – a combination of careful drug management and long term psychotherapy from the third (private) therapist I tried, got me to the happy and sustainable drug free person you are reading today.
For a few lucky others with bipolar I know this path has also been followed – but for many more the drug treatments appear to be a permanent requirement, while others gain little from psychotherapy.

The group who receive least loving attention are those labelled “Schizophrenic” – in the public’s eyes, “The really scary ones”.
The figures for murders by Schizophrenics, by the way, are no higher than murders by “Rugby players” (- for example)
bipolar v schizo









The trouble with labelling is illustrated above.
The harsh facts are that we create these names for people who think differently to the norm, and then treat the intricacies of these most special human beings with a toolkit straight out of a road labourer’s van.
Some of them work – you really can bang in a screw with a lump hammer if you try. But the long term prognosis for people with the Schizophrenia diagnosis is an odd one…

I cannot show you evidenced research on premature deaths of Schizophrenics.
Sure there are records of the suicides, but there is a more worrying reason that I cannot confirm whether my anecdotal experience of people dying prematurely after being on long term psychotropic medication is true, or not…
To put it simply, no one, especially not the drug companies, wants to find out if drug treatments might actually be killing people with Schizophrenia. So no one is going to do this research, ever.

To put in my observations from working in the field out there – besides the suicides (many of which were by people who were on drug therapies) there were a remarkable number of people I came across dying in their late 40s or 50s of heart attacks, and some people of all ages dying of “unexplained adult death syndrome” – (which means the autopsy discovered no cause).

I cannot offer a happy solution – taking people with that label off their medication would almost certainly be a disaster causing more deaths and misery. I just want to see development of better drugs, and better talking therapies – given to people whose label is not helpful to treating that person as a complex human being.

One should note that, adjusting for population, the total number of people in the USA diagnosed with either Bipolar(1) or Schizophrenia, is about the same as in the UK.
however, in the UK the proportion diagnosed with bipolar is way smaller, while in America the number of Schizophrenia diagnoses is exactly proportionally, way smaller…

No one wants a label – but I have been mislabeled in the past – had to fight to get it changed on medical records. It illustrates how easy it is to get the wrong label fixed to you and forever you are looked at in “that certain way” .

I once gave a talk with my friend, Nick, who was a leading Psychiatric nurse, to a group of Voluntary sector workers working for groups such as MIND, the MD Fellowship (as was) and many more.
He told us of someone in a midlands hospital they had cured of schizophrenia…in 2 weeks.
An excited member of the audience leant forward saying, “This, I just have to know about!”
“Yup”, Nick said, “The consultant had seen this florid and aggressive older man, given him a diagnosis of schizophrenia and put him on the ward”.
(more leaning forwards)
“We gave him some new batteries for his hearing aids, and three square meals a day and in two weeks he was entirely sane”.

My point being, the deeper you look into this system of mental health and treatment, the more you realise how it is not simple, not something the tabloids can have a five day jamboree over and dismiss… it is as complex as the people affected…
Compassion and understanding, of the kind that Jayne Zito showed in setting up her foundation are what we need a lot more of…
Typical tabloid coverage – much less.

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