Sunday, December 30, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Acquiring information about the myriad aspects of any illness is not a simple 5 minute talk where the doctor tells you what the diagnosis is, what are the features of the illness, and what could be the probable prognosis. Its is a slow process. You have to wade through reams of material, decide which ones are relevant, decide what actually helps you take a step closer towards unlocking the awry mystery of the illness, sift through some more, nudge and poke through scientific garble, make sense of discussions with mental health professionals....and get your own meaning out of your exploration. With the constant awareness that each bit counts, you try to utilize your knowledge about mental health to improve your relationship with the affected person. I know there are millions of relatives and friends of people with mental illness reading all of of this with anxious brows, doing your homework on mental illness, worrying whether that remark you had passed the other day could have worsened the mental state of the patient, repeatedly questioning your actions toward the patient, wondering always what would be the best way to interact with him/her...
Caregivers often forget that there is life, emotions, and thoughts beyond the patient. They are often extremely tough on themselves and it almost seems as if they deprive themselves of the right to have a life independent of the worry about the patient. Subliminal anxiety often becomes a regular feature of the caregivers' mood. But do you know that its alright to feel frustrated? Its alright to walk away sometimes and take in the vision of the raindrops falling on earth while the soft fragrance of the wet soil wafts through the cool breeze.
P.S.: Please cross your fingers that technology remains on my side now and my internet doesn't play truant like it did the last month!
Posted by Soaringheights at 12:57 AM
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Time passes by, with so much to do each passing moment. With a problem where I have trouble concentrating, reading, understanding, thinking, and the pressure of trying to manage college after two years of some-mystery-imposed exile, I apologize to you (and myself) for taking such long breaks in writing, and to SoaringHeights for not continuing our dialogue. Exams after exams interspersed with project submissions have kept me busy, and will continue to do till the end of this month.
As SoaringHeights wrote in the last post, I recall what my doc once told me - "There is no mental health provider 100km. outside every one of the 5 metros in India" !! And the problem gets worse when you consider that it requires an enormous amount of money for medication alone, for the ill whose family members are earning maybe as much amount of money, if not less, as the monthly medication would require. India may have a very bad mental health system, but it is due to lack of sufficient amount of providers, rather than the quality of mental health providers, as in the U.S.
Changing the topic, I had, now I remember, read a book by the Icarus Project (Harm Reduction Guide on Coming off Psychiatric Drugs) on the side-effects of psychiatric medications and how they actually work (something that psychiatrists never tell). The book gave tips on how to manage getting off these medicines, if they are doing more harm than good. However, at every point they emphasized the need to consult your psychiatrist. I found it to be a well written piece that considered the subject from all aspects. However, the ending was a disappointment as they seemed to advocate the disuse of medication on the basis of, if I remember correctly, some sort of anti-psychiatry viewpoint, which I felt didn't do much good when you are not able to function. I will, in a later post, give an article written by me that was published in an Indian e-newsletter, which I think I have already mentioned in my earlier blog at schizophrenia.com. But it definitely is worth checking out the Icarus Project site as you do get helpful information in recovering and subsequently lowering your dosages. I did talk to my doc later and asked him how he planned to go about lowering my dosages, and he told me that he plans to stop my olanzapine within 6-8 months :) a good start.
However, I went into depression about 3 weeks back and am on an anti-depressant now. It was a tough but successful decision by my doc to put me on it along with lithium, for the risk of going into mania. My olanzapine, interestingly, has been halved! I'm going to try my best to recover soon so that I am able to cope without meds, and I wish you the best too!