Archive for March, 2007

@Kathy Sierra: Thoughts are with you.

If you haven’t heard, there are very vile and vindictive people in the blogosphere right now. I don’t want to cover old ground, I just want to share my wish for your safety (Kathy, Robert & Maryam).

You all present an unbelievably honorable service to us all day in day out, for which I am certainly thankful.

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I Like Calm and Happy

I never thought this moment would happen. When I started out on this journey (I bloody HATE that word!!) of life (I hate that vague, meaningless-but-everyone -knows-what-you-mean phrase even more!!), I never believed for one moment, that I would be inspired and changed by such a film as Meet The Fockers.

Yes, I am sorry. Both for watching it so late after release, and to cover the embarrassment of finding such a ‘loosely-emotional’ so life-alterating. But hey! Different strokes.

I realised that I wanted out of life. I want a life of smiles and freedom. I want a beautiful lady to rub noses with until I’m two beats from cold. I want communal smiling, I want laughter, and I want success that isn’t just in a financial context.

Let’s rephrase that paragraph to be more definite! I am going to, from now, this moment, have a life of smiles and freedom. I am going to find a beautiful lady to rub noses with ’til I pop it. I am going to have people around me smiling and laughing and I am going to be creative everyday of my life, come what may!

A lot of people perceive mental illness as the decree absolute in terms of a happy life. I happen to disagree – find the smiles that hide behind the mask and coax them out to fruition. Nothing is impossible, nothing can stop the determination of a man who wants to stand up from the floor when he believes in it’s happening.

Life’s out there. Go get it.

Schizophrenia Simulation Features in Second Life

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The BBC reported on the 19th March that Dr Peter Yellowlees of the University of California has created a password-protected area in Second Life (not First Life!) that allows the user to experience a simulation of a hospital through the perceptions of a sufferer of Schizophrenia.

The linked BBC article does extend the discussion into general Schizophrenia topics, such as stigma and interpretations:

“Schizophrenia is a kind of modern day leprosy.

“I do feel that the general public’s worst misconception about schizophrenia is that it somehow remains in their minds an intractable degenerative condition that we can’t treat – and this is so far from the truth.

“I would say stigma is probably one of the most important issues because it affects people’s lives in such a devastating way.”

Well said, Dr Yellowlees. Whilst I do believe the ‘Armageddon scenario’ is much of the time out of context and reason, aspects of how external figures may interpret the condition do make things harder than they need to be.

The entire article, and Dr Yellowlees’ comments, all seem extremely balanced and fair (to me). It ends with a quick comment from a patient, in regards to people’s perceptions of the condition and how he feels about it:

His patient Nick agreed. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after his A’ Levels and said he is frustrated by the way people portray his condition.

“People on the whole aren’t really interested, and if I do talk about schizophrenia, they often look a bit worried and decide to turn away.”

Oh, the irony!

Last night, I had two huge and important birthday parties to go to. Both were friends who had done so much for me, and I care about immensely.

Around half 7, 8 o’clock last night, I felt a slight headache coming along. As I was probably getting rat-arsed at the parties, I thought I would take an Ibruprofen, but only one. I opened the meds draw, slightly unconscious of my actions, blindly opened the pack and took one with a glass of water.

15 minutes later I was asleep, and 12 hours later I awoke. I had actually took 75mg of chlorpromazine, by accident. Oops. 😉

A lesson to be learned there somewhere! P.S.Wanted to draw your attention to nearly 2,000 people viewing this blog 🙂

Self-Medicating through happiness

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As some of you may know, I haven’t took antipsychotic medication in over a year now. The initial reason for cessation was an overdose of Aripiprazole (Abilify) combined with Vodka and Paracetamol, and after being revived two things happened.

a) I felt a disgust and loathing-feeling for the tablets. Much like after being pissed out of your head all night, waking up the next day, and not wanting to drink for a week. I guess it is the body’s way of telling your mind to avoid the ‘poison’, as a safety/survival mechanism.

b) I simply was scared I had such a lot in me already, that taking anymore would top that already-huge amount in me up. The doctors and hospital staff didn’t advise me to continue taking it, nor to stop, either.

After a while I just ‘forgot’ I used to take medication. No one knew, but I wasn’t keeping it a secret – it was almost a non-issue. When I visited my psychiatrist for a 4-monthly appointment (that’s one every four months, not four times a month) he asked how the medication was going. I responded that I no longer took it – and the look of horror on his face was memorable. He couldn’t understand how dropping from 30mg daily of Aripiprazole (top dosage, I believe) to 0mg hadn’t induced psychotic symptoms as if they were going out of fashion.

I explained to him, that whilst I appreciated and respected his 9 year degree, the stance that medication is a one-size-fits-all solution is direly misjudged and ignorant. In the same way medication helps some people and not others, no medication has the same outcome, by definition. He then went on, with a slight hesitation as if to say ‘Do I really want to know?’, to ask me how I had kept myself in check.

I explained to him my process of analysing my situation, picking out patterns in my behaviour and the topics and themes within delusions / hallucinations / paranoia. Now, as a psychiatrist (as opposed to psychologist), I was dearly expecting his confusion and questionableness about ‘natural’ or ‘humanistic‘ approaches to treatment.

Without sidetracking, I also noted to him my view of what he calls ‘Schizophrenia’ actually is. I envisage the situation as someone who is not wearing a coat, and when the wind blows, they get a bit chilly. Most other people are wearing coats, but if they give their coat to the cold bloke, they themselves become cold and require a coat too.

My theory was to look at where I lost my coat, retrace my steps, and find it again – thus making me warm and cosy. He found it idealistic at the time, I found it exciting.

Returning to my analysis of themes in my positive symptoms, I could see many of them referenced the feeling of being ‘out of control’, or more specifically, someone else being ‘in control of me’. I took a look at things in my life, and saw how subconsciously I was protecting myself from being controlled. These ranged from own my own company (as opposed to being employed and at the whim of someone else), and boosting myself to the top of the food chain within a social group – presenting myself as the expert in any given situation.

All I simply did, was in a moment of rationality, looked at why I felt I needed control, and looked at how important ‘control’ was anyway. Then began my new process of control, which was handing the power to others. In this way, ironically, I still was in control – yet the baggage that comes with it disappeared.

I still suffer bouts of symptoms yes, but I now look at things in order of importance. I look at things in a relative light, assessing them against a mental list of rational thoughts.

As a side-note, after hearing a much more in-depth explanation than is written here, the doctor concluded I had Low Latent Inhibition, and called me a creative genius. Probably one step too far – but generous none the less!

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Top 4 Tips: “How to help”

truth.jpgMay I add a Prelude: As much as I wish I had a list of things that would cure the situation, I am not a miracle-man, and unfortunately do not profess this post as medical advice, or promise that these tips will rectify any specific situation you may be in. Please use prior-restraint before taking this post as gospel.

Introduction

I compile this list below, as part of the ‘Sharing the truth about insanity’ series I plan to run on this blog. It’s main focus will be lists, mainly explaining certain aspects of ‘Schizophrenia’. This particular post focuses on those forgotten soldiers, the families and friends that try their best to understand and accept – only to hit wall after wall. The aim of this list is to show simple things that would help me, as a sufferer.

Top 4 Tips: “How to Help”

1. When he/she doesn’t seem to trust me, how can I show I am trustworthy?

The basic premise of Schizophrenia (in particular, and in my case), does not lay a foundation where techniques you would use with ‘sane’ persons will be rendered useless in this case. Imagine how you would approach the situation had the person not be a sufferer, and try and apply the same method here. You feel like nothing you do will make them trust you? In a ‘sane’ person’s case I personally would show I trust them. I would suggest showing them you trust their actions, and adjust so their trust for you grows side-by-side.

2. When he/she is anxious and cannot calm themselves, how can I help?

Again, the premise is to approach them as an individual, and not a schizophrenic. Calm them how you would calm someone who does not suffer from Schizophrenia, respecting their preference on physical contact and personal space. Speak in a relaxed tone, and try to get them to sit down and breath slowly if you can.

3. When he/she is ‘catatonic’, unresponsive and unable to converse appropriately, what can I do?

This, to me, is trickier (but by no means impossible). As much as possible, attempt to retain eye-contact and speak at a reduced speed. Speaking too quickly may ‘overload’ them, as at these times it is quiet hard to understand anything faster than your own thought (if, indeed, thought is there at all). Try and use expressive words, but try using them in the same, slow(ish) voice. Fit as many words such as sprint, on a roll, running, zip!, fast-paced, moving – into your sentences, and if nothing seems to be working, slowly increase the speed of your voice, and movements, in the hope their reactions will reciprocate yours.

4. I, myself, am feeling weak and out of control of the situation. Why me?

I asked my Mother what she did when she felt this way, I felt it more appropriate than me trying to guess. Her advice resided along the lines of concentrating on the positive steps to happiness you can see. If you can’t see any, look harder. Your needs are vital, just as much as the sufferer’s – and looking after yourself needs to be a priority up their with your existing ones. It’s hard to help others, when you cannot help yourself.

She also suggested getting in touch with Mind or Rethink, and asking about Carer Support Groups. You can also ask about these through any health / social services members you see.

I hope these help somehow. Please do leave a comment if you have any thoughts or suggestions, and feel free to get in touch if you feel you want to (via e-mail).

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A Guide to the Site Changes

Hey, things look a little different!

Indeed they do look, and are, different. I have switched to a much cleaner WordPress theme, and also added a domain for the blog.

This blog now runs through schizophreniaweblog.com, as well as the previous schizophrenia.wordpress.com address. The former RSS feed, address, and links still work (and will continue to work) perfectly, and you don’t necessarily need to switch over. You still get the same stuff.

Insanity of Love, my book project, has unfortunately been gravely neglected and as such I am removing references to it here. The idea may return in some form in the future, but at the moment I need to concentrate on other things.

Thanks to all! 🙂