Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

understanding mental illness from the outside

I've never personally had any serious mental health issues, save for some depressive periods linked directly to life events and some periodic anxiety (both of which I consider natural and part of life. I have been in close contact with people with psych issues constantly for years...however I still feel that I don't really understand the powerlessness they feel towards their problem.
As there are quite a few people here in with psych issues, can you help shed some light on what we as outsiders could better understand of your condition?


  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited September 2013
    I think you would have to be more specific as I kind of blank out with such a broad question.

    It is important to me to view my illness as a brain disease. Some people have diabetes and some have brain disease. It's just like any other illness. It limits what I can do in this lifetime as it puts a lot of limits on me. That's sad for me because for instance I was an honors ace student in chemistry and no I am very impaired and have less confidence. One of the worst things about my illness is that the basic confidence is gone in some ways. It was something that I never knew a person can lose. And then there is the direct suffering but that's no worse than arthritus. Social difficulty is one of the most painful things.
  • In reference to the broad question, I just want to know, what would you like us to know, as outsiders. Like if there were something you wanted us to know.
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    Outsiders? That's itself the cause for many, I suspect. Just too many unkind "outsiders." If people were kinder and less mentally abusive there would be less mental dis-ease. The subject might better be "Mental Health," and that takes cooperation from the whole community.

    We are all responsible to some degree for the horrendous acts perpetrated among us, for when people were hungry we gave them no food, when they were sick we neither checked up on them nor comforted them, and when they were in prison we left them to their tormentors.

    Mental Illness is hardly homogenous, either. It may be organic, part organic, or may just flare up due to past mental abuse by mentally abusive parents or childhood caregivers. The fact that people have different internal processors and ways of coping doesn't make those who do so in very different ways "flawed." It doesn't exactly take rocket science to figure out why people act out —most of the time, anyhow. Labelling them as mentally ill does not help, unless we stand up to the plate and pitch for Mental Health responsibly. The world and its financial systems inflict harm, making people cheap, mean, petty, and preying. Safety nets and kindness are in sore demand. When people in desperation lose all hope, they may cross a threshold from which there is no turning back. It is everybody's job to be an attentive listener and friendly.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    Having a kid on the autism spectrum, and lived with someone who suffered debilitating anxiety and depression and addiction, I guess what I would say is, accept people for who they are. Don't put people into boxes of weird, uncomfortable, and so on. Obviously you still need to do what you think is truly safe for you, but overall our fears of others are completely unfounded. Just because someone acts, talks, or behaves in ways that you or society find awkward or abnormal doesn't mean they aren't a person who has feelings. We all have limitations. Many people with mental illness suffer in ways we cannot easily see, and their limitations are often more internal than outwardly visible. But they still express as someone who isn't quite like anyone else. That's ok. Look them in the eye, speak to them and treat them with respect. Understand, truly understand, that they just do not experience the world the same way you do and so they do not act or react in predictable manners as a result. My cousin was on a genius level with his intelligence until his young 20s. Then he got sick. Now he is almost 45 and has been a paranoid schizophrenic for half his life. Sometimes he does really well, sometimes not quite so well. But when he does get angry it is usually due to being treated as less than a person, being taunted for not fitting in the narrow box we put everyone in.

    One of my favorite quotes:
    Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.

    A little kindness goes a long ways into making the world just a little bit better for someone who is treated badly for their suffering. I'm sure we can all relate to that on some level. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Truly. That phrase is thrown around a lot but most people say it and really mean "I treat people well who are most like me."
  • I guess I'd want you to know not to be afraid of me. Imagine you are on a dating website and someone admits they are mentally ill. Mostly I think everyone on a dating site would avoid their attempts to e-mail because they don't want a mentally ill person in their life.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran
    I am schizophrenic, but in my case, after working with one doctor for years and years, I have a relationship where he is taking my input and by himself coming up with a sense that what I need is what I think also that I need. So I get meds that work, and between us we have eliminated a lot that do not work. I tell him what I get out of his attempts to make things better with treatment medically, and he is working WITH me.

    I think perhaps that folks who are not schizophrenic do not know what lack of treatment can do to a person. Monkey minds are dependent on a delicate balance of chemicals, and they cannot be measured while active without destroying in part what is sampled. Wise doctors are learning that with input from patients, if the patients can be stabilized enough to be coherent and sensible in the traditional senses, then they can give symptoms which the doctors can analyze. Then the doctors can fine-tune dosages.

    Each person gets individually dosed and cocktailed as to meds. What works for my monkey brain is unlikely to work for anyone elses in exactly the way it works for me. I am stabilized on two meds, large dosage of Depakote generic and large dosage of Risperdal generic. I am dependent on these meds. Because decreasing them causes a set of symptoms that get worse, I know I need large dosages of these meds compared to what the average schizophrenic person would need. The doctor has tried lesser dosages, other meds with them, etc. He knows that for me, these are the best available meds.

    So, for outsiders, encourage your acquaintances if any with schizophrenia to stick with the long sometimes(for me it took over a decade of working with different doctors and not giving up) process of figuring out what meds work with no invasive surgery, and to know that "this too can and will pass" if they do not give up.
  • Same for me. My doctor tinkers with medicines in the same way asking me how I am doing and treating the symptoms. I am on a high dose of Seroquel and Risperdal to treat voices with also a bit of clozaril. I waited patiently through months and months of 'bad body feeling' (not mental thinking, just my body feeling dis-relaxed. Eventually the patience panned out because the high doses not only were effective, but also the side effects are reduced. I am on a narcolepsy med that I take if I have a challenging day in particular if I have to drive much. I am on a beta blocker to help the bad body feeling also.

    I hate it when Tom Cruise or another crusader of 'anti-medicines' talks from their lack of personal experience though if they are commenting on their own bad experience I am sad to hear that drugs didn't help them or even hurt them.
  • @karasti, I've been in relationships and had close family members with mental health issues , some extremely serious...I know what its like to be around it, about acceptance, but its hard to get people to open up about what they really need, or want, or are feeling..especially when you *are always in such close contact.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran
    My psychiatrist tried to mix Clozaril into my cocktail, but the results almost killed me. I went to the doctor (my primary doctor) on an emergency basis with problems breathing. He listened to my chest, and his good hearing picked up the fact that my peritonium was almost filled with fluid. He got me to the hospital and came over and literally got a long probe needle stuck into my back and into the peritonium and to it fastened a tube, and to that tube fastened a suction machine, and pumped a greenish gel out of my peritonium with lots of air bubbles in it.

    My psychiatrist had put me on Clozaril within the past week. He was puzzling with the primary doctor over what could have happened to cause that life-threatening reaction and another psychiatrist asked if I had recently been put on Clozaril-- when told yes, he told both doctors about a rare side effect from Clozaril that could cause this exact thing. The psychiatrist later apologized profusely, and did immediately take me off Clozaril while I was still in the hospital. He is still my psychiatrist-- there are some rare things that simply cannot be anticipated. My primary doctor said this was something he had never heard of either, but he knew what to do in a pinch. My primary doctor has saved my life twice, literally (the second time is a story I will not get into in this thread).

    Guess what I am trying to say, is trust the doctors that prove themselves worthy to you with your life.
  • Oh my gosh mis-posted yet another thread just realized. Sorry
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    If I did that people would think I was losing either my mind or my religion.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran

    Oh my gosh mis-posted yet another thread just realized. Sorry

    It serves a need. Thank you for the thread. I think that NIMH if they knew about this thread would be grateful also. NIMH is National Institute of Mental Health (US institution), which specializes in getting the plight of the Mentally Ill publicized and handling some granting for research into medical aspects of mental illness. I am not affiliated with them at present, nor am I nor was I a doctor.

    But I agree that education of folks about issues of mental illness outweighs individual privacy concerns to a degree.

  • oceancaldera207oceancaldera207 Veteran
    edited September 2013

    Oh my gosh mis-posted yet another thread just realized. Sorry

    It serves a need. Thank you for the thread. I think that NIMH if they knew about this thread would be grateful also. NIMH is National Institute of Mental Health (US institution), which specializes in getting the plight of the Mentally Ill publicized and handling some granting for research into medical aspects of mental illness. I am not affiliated with them at present, nor am I nor was I a doctor.

    But I agree that education of folks about issues of mental illness outweighs individual privacy concerns to a degree.

    Oh hey thanks, I just meant I posted it in 'Buddhism for beginners' instead of 'banter' or 'members only'.
    And yeah I figure that people posting here can be as open as they wish. I appreciate the kind words. I really did have the best intentions with this thread.
    I've lived with people suffering from schizophrenia and my long time sig. other was taking antidepressants for many years. My mother suffered from severe postpartum depression. In my work and in my medical training I come in contact with many many people with a wide variety of challenges. Most strikingly, long before I was born, my father's family was rocked by the suicide of the eldest brother (my uncle) suffering from schizophrenia...back then they tried to beat it out of him with a hose...it didn't end well. Still they rarely speak of it.

    And yet still, I find it hard to relate to what it must be like...the people close to me don't like to talk about it and I don't like to ask.Idk.
  • Like with a lot of things in life you only have your own experiences to go on and rely on, 'walk in somebodies shoes to know what they are talking about' comes to mind. Mental illness is bar far no exception to this, be it a diagnosed disorder or fully blown mental illness, they are states of mind that you cannot tap into.

    It is like you can study day in day out what the moon is like, what it may be like to walk on the moon and be in space, but without ever going to space you are only going to have an intellectual understanding about it and not a direct understanding about it.

    I have had pretty severe anxiety disorders starting from age 12 when I had hypochondria, which sucks. It is mental torture which you can not escape, totally irrational but that does not even come into the equation of thought to you at the time. Now however I have social anxiety which I have just accepted and learned to work my life around, yes it still rules my life but we rule it together. I hope to be rid of it one day but who knows what is around the corner, schizophrenia? lol
  • I think, people react the way they often do out of fear.. we are afraid because we don't understand, we feel powerless to help..we are afraid because we are reminded how fragile we are..that we too may lose control..
    So @Jeffery I think when you say 'don't be afraid, you're saying a lot.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran
    edited September 2013
    Seroquel and Risperdal together are given to dampen fear and agitation in some schizophrenics, and meditation helps also, for me. Peace can help replace fear with composure and calm. So, there are ways and ways to fight fear.

    There have, fairly recently, been books written about schizophrenia that dispel some of the myths of it. Hoses are, so far as I know, no longer used for schizophrenia in the US. We are in an age where enough brains have been donated post-death of schizophrenic folk and those brains have been dissected and chemically analyzed enough that the chemical nature is known, and some meds have become go-to's for trial treatment for schizophrenia and often the trial go-to's are proving effective in some dosage.
  • I lived for one year with a schizophrenic, he was also an ex con. He had a troubled childhood due to his dad and his right eye was blinded as his dad shot him with an air rifle.

    Anyway he had beta blockers for his medication, he only had a mild form of it though I think. He never really seemed much different from most people apart from a few small things. However I can say without a doubt he was the best housemate I have ever had, he was so generous, we got on very well, very clean, a great person to be around and over the entire year we had only one argument and we were both drunk so.. If you were to meet him for the first time you may not want to spend a night in the same house let alone a year, he has tattoos on his face for one lol. But yes pic related, this was back in 2009 I believe when I had longer hair, he is the skin head on the right.

Sign In or Register to comment.