Severe mental illness can be one of the most difficult situations for both the victim and the family to cope with. There are a host of issues including problems with medication and side effects. Do you know someone suffering from schizophrenia or taking strong psychotropic medications? Most individuals with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses must take anti-psychotic medications that can result in involuntary movements of the muscles, repetitive movements (such as “pill rolling” – a tremor of the hands), and abnormal postures (i.e., catatonia - abnormal physical immobility).
We have been talking a lot about psychotic disorders, childhood onset-schizophrenia, delusions, and hallucinations,so lets discuss the differences between the psychotic disorders and ways to cope as a family member, parent, friend, companion, or caregiver to someone who is suffering.
Has anyone ever told you to “stop thinking negative?” What about telling you: “you are so pessimistic, can’t you ever be positive?” Another great one people say is: “look on the Brightside!” If you’re like me, you hate hearing these things because they have a way of shutting you down, undermining your very real feelings. This “positive philosophy” actually started with cognitive psychiatrist, Aaron Beck, who believed that humans engage in a series of thought processes or thoughts that lead to depression and a host of other negative outcomes such as poor physical health and anxiety.
Do you know someone with an eating disorder? Do you know what it is? Trying to support a loved one or friend who sticks her finger down her throat to purge the food she just ate or trying to love the person who refuses to eat even a small bite of good, strips you of your ability to reason and make sense out of life. Observing a loved one or friend refusing food out of a strong fear of gaining weight to the point of starvation, changes everything you thought you ever knew. For a therapist who works with eating disorders (or any mental health problem for that matter), the situation can bring you to a point of desperate seeking for understanding.
Have you ever communicated with a person who seemed to live in a fantasy world where everything said “felt” false? What about having an experience with a person who always seems mysterious and nothing they say ever comes to fusion? Well…if so, you might have been dealing with a sociopath or even a pathological liar.
When you think of the word stalker what comes to mind? Do you think violence and vengefulness? Do you think fear on the part of the stalker? Do you think about the stalker’s lack of communication skills or even mental health problem(s)? Many people would agree that the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word stalker is violence and vengefulness. Only a rare number of people would consider a stalker fearful and lacking in social skills. But many “sweet boys next door” can become a stalker for many reasons. Two reasons include mental health problems and lack of social skills.
Suicide. Sometimes that word alone is enough to provoke a sea of emotions in many of us. Most of us have experienced the sting of suicide either in our personal lives or through the lives of others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide by suffocation occurs in about 9,913 cases in the U.S. About 19,990 suicides occur at the hands of a firearm and 6,564 suicides occur by poisoning. In 2011, about 39,518 suicides were reported by the CDC, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. That’s way too many lives being lost to suicide. What are we missing?
Are you the parent of a child, adolescent, or adult child with severe mental illness? How do you feel right now? Tired? Lonely? Discouraged? Or even stronger? Some parents say that they are struggling every single day of their lives with the reality that their child, teen, or adult child is suffering from both their own illness and stigma. Other parents say they are not as discouraged as they were before they found out what their child actually struggled with. No matter how you have chosen to view your situation, I’m sure you can relate to Melanie Jimenez.
How do you view tattoos? Are you okay with them? Does it matter to you what the tattoo is or means? For many people, “body art” is either the object of much criticism or the object of a strong personal association with a belief or person. A parent posed a challenging question to me a few years ago while I trained at a semi-prominent clinic: “Why is the Clinical Director sporting a tattoo in clear sight and she knows that I have trouble trusting doctors in the first place?” I found myself not only floored, but a tad upset by the social stigma that swept into the clinic and across multiple clinicians. What I had failed to realize is that although I saw the situation from various perspectives, clients often felt threatened or defensive after noticing the tattoo(s). But….can you blame them?
Did you know that July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month? If not, you’re not alone. Sadly this month is often overlooked by the majority of Americans. It is a time when summer has bloomed, fireworks have entered the scene, and multiple summer parties and cook-outs are in full swing. It comes at a time of the year when so many people are outdoors, enjoying the summer time weather and penetrating sun. This lack of awareness, however, not only affects minorities struggling with mental health problems, but our society at large.