How can I move forward in my life if I never know what I'm dealing with?
June 26, 2014 12:54 PM   Subscribe

The most heartbreaking thing in that article is that they mention three separate instances when the family got a diagnosis, sought longer-term help, and were turned away because they didn't have insurance.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on June 26, 2014 [22 favorites]

Ugh. :(
posted by wierdo at 1:11 PM on June 26, 2014

posted by epj at 1:17 PM on June 26, 2014

posted by mordax at 1:19 PM on June 26, 2014

One of the interesting things about mental illness (to me, anyway): I'm unaware of anyone having "positive" delusions.

When people have psychotic breaks, the delusions are always extremely negative in nature (people are trying to kill me, bugs under my skin, microchips in my brain, etc.) without fail. Nobody ever has happy, blissful delusions (I'm a beautiful and stately tree. I love the sunshine, etc?).

It's almost as if the brain can sense that something is wrong and creates painful, stressful delusions as a kind of warning system. At least, that's my hypothesis. I can't think of any reason why delusions would be overwhelmingly weighted towards the negative.
posted by Avenger at 1:22 PM on June 26, 2014 [12 favorites]

Is schizophrenia that hard to diagnose? I know that his inability to obtain insurance was a major issue here but I can't help feel this might have ended differently had he received the correct diagnosis sooner.
posted by tommasz at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2014

Jesus Christ. That poor guy. That poor family, who did everything they could to help him and obviously loved him so much.

I'm so tired of reading news stories about young men with mental health issues, that maybe get properly diagnosed but never properly treated, meeting such utterly tragic ends; or even worse, hurting or killing innocent people.

Is there any sacrifice of human life, any gratuitous and foreseeable tragedy, great enough to propitiate the cruel gods of legislative appropriations committees?
posted by clockzero at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

My god, this is heartbreaking. Mental illness, your own brain turning against you, is one of the most terrifying things I can imagine.

MasterChef is appointment TV in our house, and we all really liked this guy. This is so sad.

Also, this:

Local and national media outlets ran with the story, including the syndicated tabloid television show TMZ, whose report featured a narrator with a nasal French accent, cartoon sound effects, and the head of Gordon Ramsay sprouting devil’s horns and laughing maniacally in a lake of fire. “It was a crazy altercation,” says the narrator, with no hint of irony. Meanwhile, Marks’s mother says, she and her son were “drowning without a life preserver.”

Man, fuck everything about TMZ. Special place in hell.
posted by jbickers at 1:34 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

my dad fully believes God talking to him is a happy, good thing so yes delusions can be happy fun times to a schizophrenic. During one of his psychotic breaks he thought he was John the Baptist and was happy as shit.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:34 PM on June 26, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised that the diagnosis was/is schizophrenia. We can't know anything from a distance, but it seems there are a huge amount of other issues there. Such a beautiful young life lost..
posted by mumimor at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2014

posted by brilliantine at 1:54 PM on June 26, 2014

I'm unaware of anyone having "positive" delusions.

I'm uncertain what exactly you mean by this.. but classic mania symptoms are things like an overinflated sense of self confidence, a sense that everything you are doing is not only right but better then everyone else. Which can often go by unnoticed or even praised by many as a positive trait. Particularly if they are hyperconfident about something they happen to be actually good at.
posted by mediocre at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2014 [7 favorites]

posted by proneSMK at 3:04 PM on June 26, 2014


If you're feeling down or lost or alone or sad or suicidal or whatever. The following link is appropriate.
posted by Fizz at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nobody ever has happy, blissful delusions (I'm a beautiful and stately tree. I love the sunshine, etc?).

Well...actually, when my elderly, legally blind father has experienced hallucinations at times due to infections and/or hospital-induced delirium, they've usually been really nice. Granted, this isn't the same as paranoid schizophrenia, but yeah, he's believed he's out in a courtyard amid the grass and trees, with a view of nice houses; he's having a shower in the forest; he's back at the house he grew up in; he's sitting in a cool old car outside in the driveway; he's in bed beneath a beautiful, architectural domed ceiling; he's back at his house, which he loved (although he did believe people were cutting holes in the floor and walls there, so maybe that one wasn't entirely positive)... Anyway, delusions and hallucinations aren't always bad. But this Chicago mag story is heartbreaking.
posted by limeonaire at 3:59 PM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by but no cigar at 4:16 PM on June 26, 2014

I'm unaware of anyone having "positive" delusions.

Huh, interesting. I know a few people with positive delusions. They seem to adapt better and have stronger support systems then the people I know with negative delusions. Even the people with "negative" delusions felt what they were feeling/thinking was positive if they had someone validate their delusions and support them. So, one person I know thought they were chosen as "special" by god. This frustrated their atheistic wife - because apparently "special" people don't have to work or be a partner or help with childcare/chores. But the parents and siblings were supportive of the person feeling special because it meant they talked about religion in a positive way in the once a month phone calls - after a long period of doing drugs it appeared to the parents that their son had turned over a new leaf. Of course the parents/siblings did not have to financially support him, or pick up his socks or listen to seven hour sermons until four in the morning when they had to get up the next day to work the only job that was bringing in money... After three years of this, the "touched by god" person moved across the county to be with their parents and two months later they were trying to have him committed.

I know a few women that are unable to work due to delusional thinking - "being a mother is the most important job ever" x 100 but this is socially sanctioned. Or business people with pretty delusional ideas about their brilliance but due to their age/race/education it is interpreted as arrogance rather than a straight out delusion and they are rewarded by society for being so "brave" and "strong". And yeah, I know a few people with positive, happy hallucinations. (This is just my personal experience, I have done no systematic study).
posted by saucysault at 4:17 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow, heartbreaking.
posted by ayedub at 4:18 PM on June 26, 2014

The producers of that show completely missed their chance to let both of them win for the first time ever and introduce a completely new dynamic and possibility for future seasons. The show itself had a knack for that, for second chances, it's not a wild hare idea. I remember when we talked about it during that season, when Mrs. allkindsoftime was a huge Ha fan and I so badly wanted Marks to come out on top. They both deserved to win - he wasn't robbed, Ha was phenomenal - but they both deserved it.

Kudos to the producers though, I'm left feeling like I lost a friend I almost knew in person.

This is heartbreaking. Forget fucking TMZ, fuck American health care. Normally I'm mad at it in the wake of an event like that loon kid in Santa Barbara, but here we have the example of a kid so nice and generous to those around him that even in death he took it out on himself rather than others.

So yeah, fuck that.

posted by allkindsoftime at 4:18 PM on June 26, 2014

I followed this damn show on Hulu, despite my distaste for the genre, and wow, it was better than a dumb reality show deserved to be.

It could have devolved into a leering freakshow spectacle - the blind Asian woman vs. the African American giant - but the basic decency, gentle charm and obvious talent of the two were the runaway stars of the series

The moment when Gordon Ramsey scraped the butter-knife over Christine's perfect pie crust, so she could hear how good it actually was - wow. Smart TV where you least expect expect it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:18 PM on June 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

Wow, what a tragic story. I watched that season of Masterchef and I was rooting for him the entire time. I had no idea that he had taken his own life until now.

I too have had mental health issues in the past, and getting help when you are poor-as-shit is almost impossible. For me it was depression, but the pain was all too real, and I almost took my own life. Just like Josh I had a very supportive family, but no money or government support to get real care. I had to move into my father's place when I was 28. Luckily now I am in a much better place a decade later, to make a long story short.

Everyday I see more and more fucked-up'd-ness in this country. Whether it is the rampant approaching Police State and/or the 'fuck you! I got mine' attitude that permeates all levels of society. This story is another testament to how little we provide a safety net for those who need it. If Josh had access to counseling and anti-psychotics earlier, this might have been avoided.
posted by Vicarious at 5:54 PM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

MasterChef is the only reality show I watch, and that was a GREAT season with Marks and Ha, and they did a good and interesting job of showing Ha's accommodations -- she is blind -- without being patronizing about it, and they only gave into the temptation to lapse into being maudlin about it a couple of times. Like, the show treated "How does a blind person cook?" as a natural thing to be curious about, and an interesting question to answer, but never with a "SO WEIRD!" vibe, always with a "huh, interesting" vibe, and not as something to dwell on; her cooking was the important part. It was also interesting to see over the course of the show how the other contestants' relationships with Ha developed from very tentative and unsure how to act around her, to being calm and natural and helping her out, like providing her an arm for walking somewhere so her assistant didn't have to come running over to help guide her, or quietly explaining visual things to her -- I thought that was a really refreshing process to see on television, abled people being nervous around someone with a disability, but learning how to be cool. That season also featured Monti who was an absolutely hilarious "contestant talking directly to the camera" commentator.

My husband and I saw on the news the first time Marks got arrested and we both commenting on how scary and out-of-character it seemed, and how he must be having a mental breakdown of some sort (the other possibility discussed in the immediate aftermath, before more info became public, was drugs). We were so, so sad when we heard that he killed himself, and enraged about the shortages in mental health spending in our state that meant he couldn't get adequate care.

Our gubernatorial election in Illinois this year is almost entirely about whether we should maintain an income tax increase (from 3.75% to 5% -- it is a flat tax) or go back to 3.75% and cut even more services. I know how I'm voting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:16 PM on June 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hard to read. I'm manic ATM, worked 'til 8:00AM and got up at 11:00AM without skipping a beat to get to work, had a few "thoughts of suicide" flashes brought on by sleep deprivation, used my CBT tools to talk it off, and reading this I'm still wanting to say "but bipolar is cool and beneficial to society!" Hard to read. Hope everyone.

I wish personally I had "gotten religion" and been basically a typical Mormon-style super productive focused awesome adult and wonder how that would've shaped my development of BPD.

I think children exhibit the symptoms early, around adolescence or earlier in many cases, but the "bad parts" are more acute and easy to explain away as "kids!" while the "good parts" can be so good, so endearing, your kid is so funny, so articular, so rambunctious, so precocious, so shy, so quiet, so introverted, so entertaining...
posted by aydeejones at 6:18 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Articular" is an interesting Freudian, at my worst when I [endeavor to] sleep I feel my whole cardiovascular system doing its thing and have trouble coping with being mortal. Tacos!
posted by aydeejones at 6:19 PM on June 26, 2014

This also reminds me of Georg Cantor and Kurt Godel, among other unfortunate stories of mentally ill people who flame out after finding their passion or obsession. They find it, get locked into it at the exclusion of everything else, perhaps herd a whole flock of new obsessions along with it, and unleash the dark side of whatever amazing "abnormalities" they may have that are often of great utility, bringing out a clinically definable mental illness into hyper-speed with obvious detriments.

Mania is like a fire, and it can be stoked and managed and kept "hypomanic" and can be used to do or build great things, or perhaps "good" things in the case of lucky people who aren't as hardcore bipolar and psychotic as "it can get," who can walk the line and have a little edge much of the time, with the hard-core borderline schizoaffective / schizophrenic folks stuck with the worst of it, with an occasional amazing "specimen" who achieves greatness but flames out in their own unfortunate glory, if they luck out and produce something that lives beyond them.

The flames can get massively stoked by devaluing judgment and caution in the face of an uncertain and short life (dopamine and mania have got to be inextricably connected, and many anti-psychotic drugs antagonize various dopamine receptors), and seizing the "whatever" too passionately at the exclusion of other things. Anxiety is a huge part of it. "The unbearable lightness of being" makes a different sort of sense.

That can burn anyone out, or it can be glorious at the expense of other people supporting the lifestyle of the most inflammatory energetic cases. I'll just say that I do wish I had an adoring throng of people to manage my shit. Everyone does, but with mania I really really really want that in some cosmic-justice sort of way. Yeesh.
posted by aydeejones at 6:30 PM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

To talk about me one last time and to relate it to this story that makes me all teary-eyed when I try to explain it to anyone else, if I didn't have health insurance I'd be totally screwed. It costs me $600+ out of pocket a month just to have it, has a huge deductible, and still is keeping me alive and functional.

This current predicament is to the detriment of everyone in society. Universal health insurance and de-stigmatization is far more important for managing mental illness than religion will ever be, and I wonder how much suffering he endured by experiencing these thoughts from the perspective of religion and the devil vs. having a framework of understanding the illness and having someone work with him to build insight.

That's just random shit I happen to be saying right now and a huge number of people are thinking "duh" or "how can you be so sure?" in different settings.
posted by aydeejones at 6:41 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

At least three people involved in Gordon Ramsay shows (Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, MasterChef) have committed suicide:

I don't know anything about Ramsay except that he is extremely critical, and yells and swears a lot. That kind of treatment is hard to take any day, but having it be shown on national television, at the same time that you discover how the producers of the show decided to portray you? Must be awful. And if you're struggling with mental health issues already...

I'm not sure how to feel now about enjoying the cutthroat nature of MasterChef. I hate seeing people get hurt.
posted by mantecol at 6:47 PM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yikes - also, his UK "Kitchen Nightmares" is a lot more humane and far less tawdry. You actually learn something about running a restaurant or small business, whereas the US version is more of a drama-llama carnival attraction.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:53 PM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

And yes, there are TONS of positive delusions, and they are usually manageable and helpful, and when you're depressed you realize that having a sense of purpose and being happy in itself is a delusion. You realize it in a sick way, but you feel it, that you're hyper-aware that the Universe is a suck-hole and everyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves, and boy do you wish you could kid yourself. Then with mania you can forget all of the bad, or "fuck it," or deny it entirely, and it's a whole different ball game, but it flitters and flutters with mixed episodes, pushing yourself too hard, breaking down, etc.

Often people commit suicide on the precipice of depression while still feeling manic and having the wherewithal to make the most impulsive decision of their lives.

Functioning in this world to me requires positive delusions. Some are more useful than others.
posted by aydeejones at 7:32 PM on June 26, 2014

If Josh had access to counseling and anti-psychotics earlier, this might have been avoided.

And the world would benefit so much from his existence. And everyone benefits in a society where "even" the people who aren't miraculous snowflakes of creativity but still desperately need help are taken care of and given a fair shake. What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me. OK, I'm done with this thread!
posted by aydeejones at 7:37 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

when you're depressed you realize that having a sense of purpose and being happy in itself is a delusion

That isn't true.

We don't always think of depression as something that causes delusions, but those thoughts that your best days are all behind you and that no one could ever love you for who you are and that there's no point going on are exactly as connected to reality as the belief that the government has planted radio receivers in your teeth.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:11 PM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't know anything about Ramsay except that he is extremely critical, and yells and swears a lot.

mantecol, this may be true of "Hell's Kitchen" but just isn't the case on "Masterchef."

Yes, he is critical - all of the judges are. But the criticism is, IMO, mostly constructive.
posted by Paladin1138 at 4:37 AM on June 27, 2014

mantecol: "I don't know anything about Ramsay except that he is extremely critical, and yells and swears a lot."

Yes, the reason I can watch MasterChef (and not other reality TV) is that it ISN'T shouty. (On MasterChef Ramsey only shouts when people a) set their station on fire; b) throw trash on the floor; or c) attempt to serve raw meat to patrons when they do a feed-real-people challenge.) For the most part the judges are encouraging or have constructive criticism; when they are "mean" (and usually Joe Bastianich is the "mean" one), it's pretty clearly "mean for reality TV" and they have very stagey reaction shots and so on.

They definitely tell people when they've failed at something or done a bad job, but typically they say why it's bad (and what the person did wrong that made it not work) and they don't tell people they're a terrible human being or even a terrible cook. Just, like, "Man, you are bad at souffles."

They also don't do a whole lot of artificially ginning up personality conflicts between contestants. They use personality conflicts a little, but it's not a focus of the show, and the framing of the contestants is generally pretty positive. The theme of the show is "These are regular home cooks just like you and look how well they cook!" so there's a lot of focus on cooking and success. The theme of Hell's Kitchen is "These are professional cooks and they are awful at their jobs and also terrible human beings" and you are invited to revel in their failures and spitefulness. Hell's Kitchen also LOVES to show the contestants drinking and smoking when they're off work, and being jerks to each other in their show-lodgings; MasterChef NEVER shows drinking or smoking, and never shows the contestant lodgings or external interactions outside of the kitchen at all; it's all cooking. MasterChef is a much more family-oriented, positive-attitude show than other Ramsey shows in the U.S.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:46 AM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

The theme of Hell's Kitchen is "These are professional cooks and they are awful at their jobs and also terrible human beings" and you are invited to revel in their failures and spitefulness

I'll agree with you about the spitefulness, but professional cooks? No. There's maybe 2-3 actual pros with real talent on each season, and the rest are just "Hey, they're stable enough to do the show, but just unhinged enough to make for dramatic television, plus they suck at cooking so Gordon can yell at them. Win win!" and then the producers do another line. They deliberately stack the deck with useless people (including at least one, I've heard, struggling actor who saw his chance at the limelight; the producers give them a crash course in cooking Ramsay style then send them off as cannon fodder; specifically that one guy who got all up in Gordon's face and trying to start a fistfight. I've heard he's using that scene on his audition reel now). Because there is no way that 16 fully trained cooks, who have already spent a couple of weeks learning the menu (ever notice the big binders they lug around sometimes?) cannot serve 150 covers in one night, especially with someone like Ramsay (and his two amazing sous chefs) at the pass. There's just no way; HK is hilariously artificial and the tiny fig leaf they throw over everything is utterly transparent to just about everyone, especially people who cook for a living. Place I used to work at we used to do, five days a week, 100+ covers (almost all of them coming within a 90 minute period), with a total of four people cooking plus Chef at the pass. 16 of you (on the first episode, which is far from the first time they meet Gordon, cook in that kitchen, or see the recipes) can't do 150? As Ramsay would say, piss off. Most of them would barely qualify as junior line cooks in a not-great hotel, let alone qualify as 'executive chef' (really they just become a face; the chef de cuisine at whatever resto they're sent to does all the actual work. It's telling that all the winners have very quickly gone into their own restaurants or have, I think in Rock's case, really taken over where they were sent to).

MasterChef is equally silly but in the opposite direction; pretty damn decent food from home cooks is described by Bastianich, of all people, as being restaurant quality. They're not. They're good, but barring one or two smash successes each season, there's no way any of those dishes would ever be served at the level Ramsay/Elliott/Bastianich play at.

But other than that, yeah, their criticism may be blunt sometimes (and obviously very carefully edited), but it's always constructive.

Back to the original meaning of the post, though:

The thing that I didn't like about that season of MC is that you knew--everyone knew--as soon as they put a blind person into the competition, she would have to win. She could have literally shit on a plate and the judges would have eaten it and kept her, because they simply couldn't afford the negative press arising from "Ramsay kicks a blind woman off his show!"

That's not to minimize Christine's talents. She's obviously talented, though I am completely boggled as to how she manages to plate beautifully. Her spatial awareness must be incredible. I also think, based on a few things I saw, that she is blind as in legally blind, not as in 0% ocular function. Even so, anyone with two brain cells knew from day 1 that she was going to win, because there was simply no other option for the producers. It must be galling as hell for her to wake up every morning and know that whether she was a shit cook or worthy of a *** restaurant, there was no way she could actually lose the competition. (And again, for the record, I think she's a really good cook, and it's tragic in the extreme that in all likelihood she'll never be able to step into a commercial kitchen. Not that she shouldn't be able to! But commercial kitchens are generally too full of very hot things and people whizzing around and no room for an assistant to constantly update her, or time for the other cooks to, on what's where all the time. I think that's an addressable problem, but I have no idea how.)

On to Josh... that kid was going places. He could motherfucking cook, man. He was also super friendly and kinda goofy-- like someone said above, I kinda feel like I've lost a friend. If only he'd had therapy and medication, he'd be a rising star today. But, no insurance. Yet again the asshats in your Congress who won't support real universal healthcare need to be taken to task; they caused his death as surely as if they'd pulled the trigger themselves.

Schizophrenia is fundamentally such a poorly understood disease. It needs so much more research--so do all mental health issues--because it is almost always so amazingly damaging to the sufferers of it, and those around them. My heart goes out to Josh's family--most especially his mother. The bottom line is that this young kid shouldn't have died. There is no good reason at all (though I'm sure many in government would think that 'black' and 'poor' are good reasons) why he shouldn't have had access to effective therapy and medication. None whatsoever. I would say, from experience, that many (maybe even most) suicides could be prevented with a proper safety net of mental healthcare, including a couple of sessions with a therapist every year to touch base and intervene if indicated, same as we're supposed to get physical checkups.

Someone needs to start sending all five hundred and thirty eight members of Congress, every week, a list of everyone who died that week because they refuse to fund healthcare, especially mental healthcare. With photos. And publish the lists every week so everyone in the USA can (theoretically) see what they are voting for when they are voting for those assholes.

Oh and FYI Ramsay has quit doing Kitchen Nightmares USA. Which, frankly, raises the level of TV a hell of a lot. Everything on KNUSA was so staged and so ridiculous. KNUK was actually about helping people rescue their restaurants (the Campaign For Real Gravy was genius); KNUSA was just a chance for Ramsay to yell a lot and pull out slimy old shit from the walk-ins, and then six weeks later (that's their filming period, not one week) ta-da! Cosmetically new restaurant that rarely if ever actually looks at the underlying problems and fixes them.

Also, the current season of MC... I just want to slap Leslie across his smug little face. He had the chance after his team's failure to do the right and honourable thing and cook to stay in the competition. Instead... ugh. My neighbour and I actually yelled at the TV when he said he was keeping himself safe.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:05 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

when hearing voices is a good thing — a new study suggests that schizophrenic people in more collectivist societies sometimes think their auditory hallucinations are helpful
posted by yeoz at 9:06 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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