June 23, 2008 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Breakdown. First-hand accounts of the impact and stigma of mental illness. Moving subject matter presented in a way that updates traditional newspaper reporting.
posted by GuyZero (18 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this - this will be great for my work.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:50 PM on June 23, 2008

It's an excellent article, though I don't quite see how it's any different from traditional reporting (something we need a lot more of).

Reading the schizophrenia article and having seen a few similar cases myself, my theory is that if there were some mechanism for much earlier intervention, then a huge amount of damage would be prevented: I believe years of incorrect thinking cause mental damage in the same way that walking around with a broken ankle would damage your leg.

Unfortunately, this is very very delicate territory, basically because the "authorities" in the US aren't very trustworthy. Do you really want them to have more power to declare people incompetent - and involuntarily medicate them?

I've never quite understood why university medical schools aren't in the forefront of this. They have a huge population of people who are at or almost at the prime age for the onset of schizophrenia and are in a partly controlled environment already. You would think they'd be working heavily on early detection, perhaps combined with early treatment with lower doses of drugs and cognitive therapy.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Interesting. Thanks.
posted by prefpara at 1:59 PM on June 23, 2008

This looks like a pretty nice collection of stories, judging by what I've seen of the text. Schizophrenia's been on my mind for the last week or so via some real life connections, and it's odd the way frightening and funny can intersect with this stuff. From page 3 of the schizophrenia writeup:

Susan By summer, he was "clanging" — it's a speech pattern which is total gibberish, rhyming gibberish essentially.

Jesse I though I was speaking Gaelic. I thought I had learned Gaelic through my communications with God.

Susan He sure hadn't.

posted by cortex at 2:16 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here is an update on changes to mental health legislation in Alberta.

While I like some of the proposed changes, it raises some very big questions for those of us dealing with mental health issues and the associated fall-out:

-The hospitals already can't handle the level of need and demand for mental health services, so how will it cope with a piece of legislation that makes it "easier" to have someone committed?

-Given the above problem, and the plan for community treatment orders in the new legislation, we are expecting a great many community treatment orders to be issued. How will those be enforced? How will the community agencies be expected to play a role in that step of the process?

No one seems to have any answers.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:19 PM on June 23, 2008

This is good, thanks.
posted by IronLizard at 2:19 PM on June 23, 2008

Thanks, this is good.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:21 PM on June 23, 2008

It's an excellent article, though I don't quite see how it's any different from traditional reporting (something we need a lot more of).

By TV standards the multimedia clips are nothing spectacular, but by newspaper standards the website is a real step beyond merely reprinting what was in the dead tree edition. The online version has audio clips and extra photos and actually looks like a website as opposed to just words words words. It provides me with a scrap of hope that the Glob of Mail will not be resigned to the blue box of history as their long-form reporting is really quite good.
posted by GuyZero at 2:24 PM on June 23, 2008

NYT coverage of ADD/ADHD.
posted by Eideteker at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2008

Yeah, the anxiety disorder article hit home for me. I'm currently in group therapy for social anxiety. Like one of the people in the article (and unlike most people with anxety disorders), my safety behaviour when anxious leans more towards fight than flight. It was interesting to see how the program in a whole 'nuther province is very similar to the program in which I'm enrolled.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2008

Philly writer Liz Spikol has been writing about mental health from her perspective as a bi-polar woman for some time. It's compelling stuff. She was also recently highlighted in the NYTimes, but in the fashion section (?) for some bizarre reason.
posted by The Straightener at 3:21 PM on June 23, 2008

I'm currently in group therapy for social anxiety.

I've got a fair amount of anxiety proneness myself, and the mere prospect of working on it in a group is making me somewhat wiggy.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:30 PM on June 23, 2008

I've made several films about people with different mental illnesses. The one story that always comes to mind is of a very pleasant man I met, a librarian, who had an encapsulated delusion that he was God (ie most of his thought processes were perfectly normal, except that he was completely convinced he was God). Talking to him was something of an education.

Me: If you're God, why don't you have disciples?
Him: You're here, aren't you?

Me: If you're God, why don't you do miracles?
Him: I'm only a beginner God.

Me: Do angels exist?
Him: The asylums are full of them

His wife of many years was absolutely charming and clearly loved her husband. She was quite a refined northerner with a pronounced Manchester accent. She told me about a visit with her husband to a new psychiatrist, who listened carefully to Roy's account of his illness and then turned to her and said "And what about you? Do you believer your husband is God?"

To which she replied: "Do I fuck."

Roy grinned broadly as she told this story. "She'll come round", he told me later.
posted by unSane at 3:56 PM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

Just read the OCD story and it's good to see that she's making the best of it. I have OCD myself and it sucks - at the same time, it often accompanies personality types that are quick to learn and eager to please, so OCD (as long as it's managed well) can at least pretend to be some kind of positive as well as a negative.

As far as the stigma side of things goes, I've definitely run into that (both real and imagined). At my small liberal arts college, pretty much everybody lives in dorms. Because of certain "checking" tics I have, it would often take me 10 or 15 minutes to leave the building. This entire time was spent pacing back and forth from the building exit to my room, rattling the handle, making three vertical marks on the inside of my left wrist, and repeating. I was really worried about what people on my hall would think of this - after all, the hallway was a very public place. I can only imagine how crazy it looked from the outside, even though internally I knew how irrational it was (and therefore, at least by some minimum standard, not really crazy).

The first time I had to actually talk to someone who wasn't a close friend about it, I had to explain that my rituals were just a silly thing I had to do and I hoped it wouldn't inconvenience them too much. To my surprise, they thought that my behavior was more interesting than freakish, so... maybe some of the stigma is disappearing?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 4:01 PM on June 23, 2008

When I was a young child, and even as a pre-teen, I spent a lot of time feeling like I was in a bit of a fog, not really involved and engaged with the world. I was also compulsive about counting, especially steps on stairs. Then suddenly it was gone, a time I think of as my becoming "aware".

Now that I have kids, in talking with my mother about how happy my kids seem to be (and whether I was happy like that) she told me that I was, that I was just about the happiest child she'd ever known, and then suddenly I wasn't.

Looking back, the behavior started around my first few years of grade school, and ended after I got into high school. To this day, I'm not sure if there was something in the environment of the school that was a factor, and I suppose I'll always wonder. I'm also watching my own children to see if they experience such changes as they get a bit older.

I bring this up because I look at some of these folks, and (in my own small way, from my own experiences) I can understand how certain they are that they're right, and normal -- when I was a kid, you couldn't have convinced me that there was anything wrong with me, either, even though now it's clear that there was.
posted by davejay at 5:17 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

My son is a schizophrenic who became suicidal last year, just before Christmas. I emphatise with Peter and Jesse, since I see my son life in their stories.

The best thing my husband and I did to learn how to cope with his terrible disease was taking a NAMI Family to family twelve weeks class, where relatives of people with mental illness shared their coping skills. We were thus able to recognize his sudden suicidal impulses and get him to the Emergency room: he was admitted promptly, but released way too soon. We were not able to leave him alone for several months, but now he seems on his way to recovery (I hope).

Mental ilness takes such an enormous toll both on the person and on his family.
posted by francesca too at 5:24 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I tried to watch this but I found it very disturbing, how true to life, having known so many that suffer from this disease.
posted by femmme at 8:49 PM on June 23, 2008

An old girlfriend of mine couldn't afford her medication for her illnesses. One medication cost her over $500 a month. Even when she was employed and covered by health insurance, the
cost of medication was too much. She found out that she got better medical assistance when she was either jobless or homeless.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2008

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