Thirty years ago very little was known about the human psyche. We have come a long way in understanding human brain development and illnesses since that time. However, in today’s age, the new fad is to see how many new names we can design for pre-existing psycho diagnosis. There is a new prognosis for everything that can be wrong from being too hyper to split personalities.
My son has a host of diagnoses: ADHD, OCD, depression, anger management issues, anxiety issues and, this last one kills me, Oppositional Defiance Disorder. In other words, as his mother, I allow him to get away with far more than I should. As grandpa used to yell “get me a switch”; which often times what was cured the ODD in mere moments. Although, in previous times, the solution to mental disorders was to lock these people away and out of society. Then, people feared what they could not understand.
There must be a balance between these two worlds.
As society has expanded and there is less money for institutions, most of our mental patients have become cast-offs. When the doors closed on some of the state hospitals, they were opened-up then to society, while someone said, “We set you free! Go, wonder the streets, remain homeless, do not forget to find a place to pick up your medication, and oh yeah, live life!” This is not quite an outcome that meets the mentally challenged even half-way. Most never quite find a way to manage on the streets, much less are they able to obtain medications. Our society has made it impossible for these folks to survive. It takes much more than being let loose in society to cope. The mentally ill have lived a life of medication solving their problems. They have nowhere to turn and have never been taught coping skills that could make life a little easier. In retrospect, maybe the locked attic was safer for them.
Though I am an advocate for those with mental illness, I do not support society’s quick fixes of pumping you full of medications just to deal with everyday life. It’s no longer, “Take two of these and call me in the morning,” now it is, “Here sunshine, take a fist full of these and call me when you have regained consciousness.” Doctors need to stop coddling their patients. For centuries people have lived, breathed, and coped without all the candy. But today, it is much easier to hand you a pile of prescriptions. Thus, sending you on your way stumbling and drooling on yourself, in a make-believe world where it is all rainbows and lollipops. (Now you know what a hit of acid does, by the way). There is nothing to encourage people with new ways of dealing with their issues and the use of coping skills. Instead, the world is relying on the pills to help you get through one day at a time.
From personal experience, being admitted into the hospital for a mental break or suicidal incident, is the most horrendous episode you can have. The first thing taken from you is your dignity, by numerous body searches and the tone taken with you makes you feel inadequate. This leaves you feeling much like a failure. ‘They’ are superior and will keep reminding you of such. Once you have gone through triage, what is the first thing they do? Hand you a cup full of “skittles” and let you wonder. Sometimes the medication puts you into a vegetative state of mind and you cannot even remember to eat unless a nurse herds you to a table. Often times, you might see four or five aids holding a person down to be injected with medication to keep them under control. As a severe suicidal person, you may be placed in restraints and force-fed food through a tube, along with injections, forcing you to take medicine designed to keep you calmed.
Not all mental patients are a threat to themselves or others. If one takes the time to ask questions, they can give you a clear understanding of the problems they experience. Part of the problem with these aids or nurses, is the fact that they are not trained to handle some types of mental disorders. A person who may have flashbacks, or suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, is more apt to be quickly drugged to control them. Often times, the patients in the institution that experience similar difficulties are even more apt to be able to calm other patients, thereby, doing them less harm than those in charge.
When a mental patient is brought into a facility, the worst thing for them is not to be heard. They are their own advocates to their illness and hold the key to helping them if the medical personnel will take the time to listen. Patients know their ‘triggers’ and are best equipped to help in their treatment. Continuing to fill them with drugs that cause them to end up in a catatonic state, does nothing but help the institution from their responsibilities of teaching them lifetime coping skills.
Some of these drugs have severe side-effects. Most of these medications have an arm’s length list of possible side-effects. In some cases, the side-effects make things much worse, thus limiting the validity of the drug being used. Let’s just take the risk of it getting worse by taking these chemical concoctions some renowned doctor says is the new ‘cure all.’ Should we really be that trusting?
Many antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts, as if you were already not battling that hard enough on your own. Other side-effects such as tremors, facial twitches, uncontrollable eye movement, drooling, and massive weight gain, cause the sufferer even more difficulty when coping in life. Take a good look at this small list and answer one question: Would you as an employer hire a person that had just one side-effect from it?
Our society is not tolerable with people who do not fall into this idea of a ‘normal’ way of life. Without support of family, counselors, and well-informed mental health providers, these people will only remain castaways.