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Living With Schizophrenia

By Mickey Kantor in Op-Ed
Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:23:28 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

I think my mom just left us for good. She's been threatening all these years but I never really thought she'd make good on it. I'm typing this through tears and I hope it comes out semi-coherent.

Let me start at the beginning. My older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia a few years ago. Very few people know what it is like to live with schizophrenia and since my mom just left I feel like I want to keep a record of what happened in my life. Everyone jokes about "oh so-and-so is a 'skitzo'" or "how skitzo is that thing." Yeah, if only they really knew.

One day my brother came home from school telling my parents about how some of his friends had turned against him. Like they were mad at him for really no reason. My parents were a little concerned, but were convinced that it was nothing my brother couldn't solve himself. A few days later, he came home panicking about how the entire school had a problem with him. Like a conspiracy or something. At this point my parents were starting to worry. They arranged an appointment with his Dean of Students and they talked it over. The Dean assured our family that he would be on the lookout for any misconduct but was almost positive that nothing abnormal was going on.

Days later, my brother comes home explaining that now the teachers had turned against him as well! This was too much for my parents. They suspected at this point that perhaps things weren't what they seemed to be. They took him to a doctor who diagnosed him with schizophrenia. For those of you who don't know, 99% of schizophrenia patients end up in mental hospitals at some point in their lives, and 10% of them end up committing suicide.

The doctor gave him the appropriate medicine and my brother began taking it. At this point my brother still thought that the entire school hated him and some major conspiracy was going on about him. Just imagine yourself how it would feel if you thought the entire world had some secret hatred for you and were conspiring against you. That's how he felt, and no matter what we said he couldn't accept the reality that what he felt wasn't real. At this point, it wasn't so bad. It was bad, but bearable. He was on medication and we were doing all we could to fix it. Slowly but surely the medicine worked. The occasional side-effect would crop up like some weird reaction with his tongue. It was pretty weird. He couldn't talk very well. But I digress.

After a while, his psychotic thoughts faded away and we thought all was well. Ha, how little we knew. Oh, remember throughout all of this I was just a Freshman in High School. I'm a Senior now, or will be when school opens in the fall. Anyway as time went on and he felt better mentally, he started throwing away his medicine. He would hide it and throw it away when we weren't looking. To him, he wasn't sick at all in the first place, why should he take stupid medication? Within days he relapsed into his psychotic state and he admitted that he was wrong and shouldn't have been throwing away his medicine. Then as he started to take medicine again, he felt like he was better and hey he was never sick in the first place so why should he have to take medication. Again he'd throw his medicine and relapse. This insane cycle went on for what seems like years. Soon my mom and dad were watching him swallow his medicine and having him talk and drink water to prove that he had swallowed it. Not a night would pass when someone wasn't screaming or yelling or crying. My mom would cry every night because of the hell she was going through. To make a long story short, she threw away her career for her kids and this is how she was rewarded: by a mentally disabled kid who made every night a living hell by refusing to take his medicine and lying and cheating when words wouldn't work. I was probably a Sophomore in high school at this point and I never told anyone about this. I knew I could find sanctuary from all of this at school amongst my friends where I could just hang out and pretend everything in my life was perfect. Don't get me wrong, parts of my life have been great.

In the middle of all of this chaos this medicine started making him gain weight--fast. He put on about fifty pounds in a matter of months and there are stretch marks on his sides to prove it. Though unfortunate, the weight gain was bearable. Much more so than the previous thoughts of conspiracy. But we started warning him: "Don't eat so much! Don't have that sixth(!) slice of pizza." He never listened. He kept right on eating. But mark my words, we warned him he would gain weight. After about a year or so, he snapped. He just snapped. In the blink of an eye he went from not giving a rat's ass about his weight to becoming obsessed with losing weight. And not obsessed like Richard Simmons let's all happily lose weight. Not obsessed like a 14-year old girl who is hosting a pool party next weekend. Not obsessed like an overweight man who just beat the odds and survived a heart attack. No. Obsessed is the understatement of the century when it comes to my brother and his infatuation with his weight. Every second of his free time he would be in front of the mirror. I'm not exaggerating. I'm really not. Think about this. Every split second that you are free (from work, school, whatever) standing in front of the mirror. He would do BMI calculations on his computer while barely passing any of his classes in college. He would blame his weight problem on us because "we forced him to take the evil medicine and we didn't warn him about his weight." Remember how I said 'mark my words, we told him not to eat so much'? Yeah he doesn't remember much of that and what he does selectively remember is that the medicine didn't let him control himself or what he ate. Total bullshit, by the way.

The worst was that he had a credit card and the internet. He would begin to order diet medication after diet medication. The first one he ordered, Brytanyl or something along those lines, really messed him up. He was smart enough to stop taking his real medicine because he thought there might be an interaction. Yeah, guess what, he relapsed into his psychotic state. This time, however, since he was no longer in high school, the only thing he had to go crazy over was his weight. He went from bad to worse. The brytanyl was working all right, making him lose weight rapidly like advertised. But by him not taking his real medicine, he felt like he was only getting fatter and everything just worsened. Every few seconds he would ask, "Do you think I'm fat?" Of course he would always rephrase it into things like, "Do you think I'm chubby?" "Do you think I'm obese?" "Do my cheeks look fat to you?" Let me make it clear, he was NO LONGER overweight. He switched off the weight-gaining medicine onto a new one with no side-effects a few months before so the weight had already started to shed...but he still thought he was the heaviest man alive.

I could hear my mom crying every night. For everyone reading this who has had a mother at some point, you can sympathize with me about how absolutely horrible it is to hear your own mother cry. It just rips you up inside. You just want to vomit out all of your guts while crying yourself. The difference between all of you and me though, is that I don't know how to express myself. I love my mom but I can't find a way to tell her. I feel like it's so hard for me to hug her or tell her I love her. I don't know why. I just wish I could hug her and tell her I love her and that everything is going to be okay. Arrgh why am I such a non-emotional freak. I feel like such a heartless asshole. And now she's gone. But I'll get to that.

My brother still thinks he is overweight and just lost his job because he is way too distracted and worrysome about his weight. He is losing his job, his friends, and now his family. That brings us to now. He's standing in front of the mirror right now, just like I told you. And there is no end in sight to this. A few minutes ago my mom came into my room and told me she was going out and wanted to hug me before she left. This was odd as she had never done that before so suddenly and randomly. I sat up from my reading and hugged her and asked her where she was going. She said she didn't know. I asked when she would be back. She said she didn't know. I asked if it would be tonight. She didn't respond. My mom has problems with my dad...problems I won't go into here. So basically my mom was staying for me because she loved me. I love my mom and I want to tell her so badly. She left and I have this feeling like she won't be back. I don't know what to do and, as pathetic as it sounds, I feel like K5 is the only place I can turn right now.


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Living With Schizophrenia | 153 comments (138 topical, 15 editorial, 3 hidden)
What can we say? (4.50 / 12) (#2)
by seebs on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:36:35 AM EST

The one down side of this is, there's not much we can say, except... wow.  A powerful story, and well-written.  If it helps, some of us care.  No one can explain why; maybe it's divine influence, maybe it's left-over instincts from our time as herd animals.  Anyway, we care.

What your brother needs (4.37 / 8) (#4)
by sticky on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:47:14 AM EST

He has to (or someone on his behalf has to) get in touch with people in the mental health community.  I don't mean just a psychiatrist; I mean people like community health nurses, support groups for mentally ill people, and possibly some kind of institutional care like a psychiatric ward.  By the last item I don't mean a place to just chuck him away and forget about him but instead a controlled environment where trained people can look after him.  This, of course, doesn't mean that it wouldn't include you.  He still needs your family's support.  

You are fortunate that he has not turned against members of the family (or thought that they've turned against him).  Make sure you try to read what he's thinking and what he's thinking about WITHOUT it appearing that you are (this is very important as it can raise suspicions in him).  Just try to keep an idea of where his head is.

Best of luck to you, him, and the rest of your family.  Don't give up on him.  He can recover with the right resources and support, though it may seem difficult and probably will be.

Don't eat the shrimp.---God

Support Groups (5.00 / 3) (#6)
by Mickey Kantor on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:03:25 AM EST

He and my family are involved with a local support group and it helps to some extent, and he has the family's support for the most part. Just when my mom gets mad she goes off on him about how he's insane and stuff. Impulsive reactions, you know. Aside from that yes I agree that we're lucky that he hasn't thought that his family was against him. Thanks for your support.

[ Parent ]
But the other stuff too (4.25 / 4) (#8)
by sticky on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:12:00 AM EST

No one thing is going to make him better. He needs either out patient care or possible extended care. A good psychiatrist should be able to evaluate his needs. If the psychiatrist just "uh-huhs" for 15 minutes and hands him a prescription he should get another one. You should get in touch with jjayson; it seems he is aware of quite a few resources on the web. You can also email me if you like. For now you can write me at throwaway9999999@yahoo.com.

Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Schizophrenia (5.00 / 17) (#5)
by jjayson on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:52:07 AM EST

My family has had a schizophrenic member for 20 years now, and I have seen the medication yo-yo my entire life. If your brother on lithium by any change, because I have seen the significant improment it can make, but also the weight control consequences. For some reason, some people have a hard time staying on their meds. Either the side effects bother them and they start to feel that they can control their illness enough to go off the meds, or it is the stigma society attaches to mental illness so you feel bad having to take some pill to make you normal. This problem of staying on medication is so common that it is hard to blame the person being treated.

I don't know what to say beyond that, but I have been involved with the National Association for the Mentally Ill and my grandmother has lead a chapter, so I have seen it from all side, including the success stories. Mothers leaving families because it becomes too stressful is not a new story. The only good news I can offer is that very often they do come back after they settle down a little and start missing their children.

I hope everything works out for you, and if you need anything, just email or write. Also feel free to contact me if you need any information on support groups (e.g., information and common experiences on living with a schizophrenic family member), I can probably get some info for you (nothing you can't really get from the web, but I will do the legwork for you).

"Even I can do poler co-ordinates and i can't even spell my own name." - nodsmasher
You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't

Schizophrenia (4.84 / 13) (#7)
by hoskoteinos on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:05:17 AM EST

To dispel at the outset a prevalent misconception about schizophrenia (from this page):
People who are schizophrenic do NOT have multiple personalities. In 1911, Eugen Bleuler, first used the word "schizophrenia." Although the word schizophrenia does come from the Greek words meaning "split" and "mind," schizophrenics do not have split personalities. This misunderstanding has caused many people to misuse the term schizophrenia. The "split mind" refers to the way that schizophrenics are split off from reality; schizophrenics cannot tell what is real and what is not real.

(Emphasis mine.) A couple links with more detailed info:

NIMH on Schizophrenia

Another good link on Schizophrenia (5.00 / 4) (#28)
by Alfie on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:07:26 AM EST

The former Chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia at NIMH, Loren R. Mosher, has a web page at http://www.moshersoteria.com/.

Also, you might be interested in the story of John Nash, the famous mathematician who also was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I was delighted to find this rare gem on usenet: John Nash's story as told by a colleague. (Warning: post is long; might take awhile to load.)

You have my deepest sympathies for what you and your family are going through. I know how hard it can be to deal with emotional problems and the mental health system. My mother was raped by her brother as a child, and she has suffered terrible effects her whole life. I have seen what the psychiatrists did to her with Freudian therapies and drugs, and when she had trouble raising children she turned to the psychiatrists to treat us as well. All I can say is that if you want healing it will come from the strength of your family bonds as well as the help of caring professionals.

There have always been a lot of quacks in the mental health system, and matters are not helped by the modern addition of greedy pharmaceutical companies which flood the public and private consciousness with so much propaganda and biased studies that even the doctors themselves have difficulty making informed decisions. I have quite a few books on this subject, including one which covers the way CibaGeneva Pharmaceuticals, Abbott, Glaxo Wellcome, Pfizer, and SmithKline Beecham have spent money creating the Brand Identity of A.D.D. which seems so popular today by financing CH.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder). Be wary of disempowering your family and your brother by taking the easy route of blaming some supposed brain disease which has no known biological cause. If you would like more information I can dig up the books and type in some quotes, but you might want to start by reading about the brain-disabling treatments in psychiatry.

*sigh* I know this is a hard subject to deal with. There are no easy answers. I'm sorry.

[ Parent ]
A Typical Schizophrenic (4.87 / 16) (#9)
by bhouston on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:17:59 AM EST

Unfortunately, you story of your brother's schizophrenia is very typical.

Common Side Effects

Most schizophrenics dislike being on meds, usually referred to as neuroleptics, because of the numerous side effects.  One side effect is sedation.  The tongue spasms your brother experienced are a form of acute dystonia -- a sudden and severe spastic contraction of the face or neck muscles.  Also in regards to motor functioning, neuroleptics can cause general rigidity, difficulty in initiating movements, resting tremors in the hands, and a lack of facial expressiveness.  Dry mouth, blurred vision and constipation are common side effects as well.  

Drug Interactions

Schizophrenia, while complex and not yet fully understood, is known to involve the dopaminergic system.  Almost all drugs that are effective in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia reduce the quantity or effect of dopamine in the brain - or at least that's a very simplified explanation of how they work.  Unfortunately, all diet pills do the exact opposite.  It seems that if you elevate dopamine levels or its cousin neurotransmitter, epinephrine, you reduce one appetite.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that if reducing dopamine levels reduces a schizophrenic's symptoms that elevating dopamine levels probably will exacerbate the symptoms.

I didn't find any drugs named Brytanyl but the popular diet pill, phentermine, also goes by the somewhat similar trade name Bontril.  Bontril does have the dopamine/epinephrine elevating effects that will worsen a schizophrenic's symptom.


Your brother sounds like he is really anxious about his appearance.  Stress (which is related to anxiety), for many schizophrenics, will worsen their condition.  I suspect that it is worsening your brother's condition.  It might be possible to reduce his anxiety through other meds chosen in consultant and under the supervision of a psychiatrist.  Most anti-anxiety medications (i.e. BuSpar) have relatively minor side effects - extremely minor side effects when compared to the side effects of anti-psychotics.

Living with a Schizophrenic

Unfortunately, schizophrenics are very difficult to treat successfully.  Many families have and are going through what your family is going through.  Some schizophrenics benefit from specialized social skills training and behavioral training.  Family intervention programs are available across the country that can educate your family about helping your brother cope if you so desire or haven't yet done that already.

In a recent 20 year follow-up study about 50% of schizophrenics are able to recover or control their symptoms - unfortunately, this means that 50% didn't.  I highly recommend exploring every avenue you can that might help your brother but remember that after you have tried everything that you shouldn't sacrifice your whole family to his disorder.  If nothing seems to work and nothing seems to change it may then be time to consider placing him in an institution.  The majority of modern institutions are not as scary or dehumanizing as they are portrayed in movies.  Institutionalization is not necessarily permanent.  If he recovers, learns to control his symptoms, or if you just miss him there your brother shouldn't be prevented from rejoining the world.  Institutions can vary widely in quality in the United State (although not so much in Canada) and thus I recommend that you do some research on them if you go that route.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor

I'm not a doctor nor am I training to be one.  I am an undergraduate student who is soon graduating with a degree in cognitive science and neuroscience.  My knowledge in the area is decent but be sure to talk with a certified psychiatrist / psychologist about all this - I am known to make mistakes.  Feel free to email me if you have any questions: ben@exocortex.org

Regarding Schizophrenia (5.00 / 4) (#32)
by Alfie on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 10:29:03 AM EST

[This] is an annotated bibliography addressing today's widely held belief system about the causes and treatment of disturbed and disturbing behavior usually labeled as some form of serious mental illness. As "schizophrenia" is psychiatry's most vexing and perplexing "disorder" and viewed as the most serious of the "mental illnesses" it is the primary focus of this list. It excludes children. It is not exhaustive, but is representative. Conclusions: Today's dominant theory of serious "mental illnesses" posits them to be genetically determined (i.e., inherited), biochemically mediated (via "chemical imbalances"), life-long "brain diseases" (with associated specific neuropathologic changes) whose cause(s) and course is more or less independent of environmental factors is not supported by existing evidence. A critical review of the scientific available evidence reveals no clear indication of hereditary factors, no specific biochemical abnormalities, and no associated causal neurologic lesion(s). However, a number of environmental factors have been found to be related to their cause(s) and course(bibliography in preparation).

The preceding quote is from Loren R. Mosher. Visit the link at the beginning of the quote for the full text as well as the references.

Loren R. Mosher, M.D. was the first Chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia at the National Institute of Mental Health, 1969-1980. See his bio for more details.

Also, his resignation letter to the APA sheds light on the current situation of psychiatry from an insider's perspective. I found the following part to be particularly disturbing:

In addition, APA has entered into an unholy alliance with NAMI (I don't remember the members being asked if they supported such an association) such that the two organizations have adopted similar public belief systems about the nature of madness. While professing itself the "champion of their clients" the APA is supporting non-clients, the parents, in their wishes to be in control, via legally enforced dependency, of their mad/bad offspring: NAMI with tacit APA approval, has set out a pro-neuroleptic drug and easy commitment-institutionalization agenda that violates the civil rights of their offspring. For the most part we stand by and allow this fascistic agenda to move forward. Their psychiatric god, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, is allowed to diagnose and recommend treatment to those in the NAMI organization with whom he disagrees. Clearly, a violation of medical ethics. Does APA protest? Of course not, because he is speaking what APA agrees with, but can't explicitly espouse. He is allowed to be a foil; after all - he is no longer a member of APA. (Slick work APA!) The shortsightedness of this marriage of convenience between APA, NAMI, and the drug companies (who gleefully support both groups because of their shared pro-drug stance) is an abomination. I want no part of a psychiatry of oppression and social control.

[ Parent ]
one vs. many, genetic evidence is plenty (5.00 / 2) (#69)
by bhouston on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 07:33:39 PM EST

Everyone is entitled to their own views.  The neuroscience scientific community is diverse, worldwide and large.  I believe that Loren R. Mosher, as described by you, disagrees with the general establishment.  Maybe there is a huge conspiracy about or maybe everyone but Mosher is stupid or maybe Mosher is just wrong?

There is a fair bit of evidence for a genetic basis of schizophrenia.  Its too much to go into detail but I suggest that you find a modern textbook on the subject and read through it.  I recommend "The Neurobiology of Mental Illness", Oxford Press, 1999.  It is an amazingly detailed and representative resource.

PS. Breggin's a moron, although he does know how to sell books to the uninformed.

[ Parent ]

Re: Loren R. Mosher (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by Alfie on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:13:18 PM EST

Everyone is entitled to their own views. The neuroscience scientific community is diverse, worldwide and large. I believe that Loren R. Mosher, as described by you, disagrees with the general establishment.

Please don't judge Doctor Mosher by my words. His web site details his works and opinions much better than I can. I would be most grateful if you could look at his studies and comment. I realize that you are a student, but I value your opinion nonetheless.

There is a fair bit of evidence for a genetic basis of schizophrenia. Its too much to go into detail but I suggest that you find a modern textbook on the subject and read through it. I recommend "The Neurobiology of Mental Illness", Oxford Press, 1999. It is an amazingly detailed and representative resource.

Thank you. I do not have the money to purchase a textbook at this time. However, I will look for it when I am next at my university's library.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I have no time. Read some boring textbooks! (3.00 / 2) (#83)
by bhouston on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 01:29:52 AM EST

I wish I had the time to fully research this but I don't.  I have a thesis due really soon and I am already procrasinating on Kuro5hin enough as it is. ;-)

Honestly, though this is your specific interest, not mine.  I'm sure that if you took on the challenge of researching this area for yourself that you would learn a lot.  A good introduction to basic neuroscience can be found in the book "Neuroscience" by Pruves and friends (1997).  Textbooks, while dry in places, often provide a much better picture of a topic than do popular books.  Popular books rather than educate their readers are usually intended to persuade (ie. bias) their readers to take a particular opinion.

[ Parent ]

So tough. (5.00 / 3) (#77)
by nutate on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 10:52:55 PM EST

I've been in mental wards as a patient. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Prior to any symptoms requiring hospitalization, I had read parts of 'The Myth of Mental Illness' and felt rather sympathetic to its concepts. The angry words of Thomas Szasz, although possibly helpful to many, just made me extremely resentful at my situation once I got to my second ward.

It's sort of like this. Yes, there are better ways to treat mental illness. I live in New York City. I've been treated in 4 different situations within the state. One of those was pretty bad, one was pretty good, one was really good, and one is possibly the best in nyc.

What Dr. Mosher is almost certainly true for many cases. Hospitals stink for a lot of reasons and the permanent(ish) residents of them can be a truly sorry sight. There was a great issue of the UN magazine Colors dealing with mental illness a while back. It showed many different situations going on in different countries, from people being chained to trees in Africa to people in veritable spas. It doesn't take a genius to see that the spas probably work better than just about anything.

Now, with respect to neuroleptics, I've taken some and honestly, the best thing for me has just been to chill with valproic acid (Depakote tm Abbott Labs :). I don't plan on taking it for the rest of my life. My doctor knows this and is receptive. Right now though, I'm staying on it as a precaution. The side effects receded to nothing and now I feel I'm back on the horse. I don't know if Mr. Kantor's brother will or not. One thing I'm sure of is that parenthood doesn't depend on marriage and Mickey you'll pull through. Step away from the computer and grab some fresh air.

Back to the topic of this reply. In the U.S., when someone starts to lose it, the ER is the only place definitely open at that time. If hospitals start to include mental therapy along the lines of the Soteria project the world would probably be better for it. But given that list of "Important Theraputic Ingredients," it does seem like it will take a while to incorporate into the Hospital/Insurance sphere. Sadly what treatment will be insured governs a lot of those initial treatment decisions.

I'll turn off the tap now. Mickey, good luck.

Peace, or something like that,

[ Parent ]

You are beautiful (4.90 / 10) (#10)
by morkeleb on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:45:35 AM EST

The difference between all of you and me though, is that I don't know how to express myself. I love my mom but I can't find a way to tell her. I feel like it's so hard for me to hug her or tell her I love her. I don't know why. I just wish I could hug her and tell her I love her and that everything is going to be okay. Arrgh why am I such a non-emotional freak. I feel like such a heartless asshole. And now she's gone. But I'll get to that.

Well if it's any consolation - you made me feel pretty damn emotional!! I think you have an incredible talent for expressing emotions. And your are dead-on right - the sound of mothers crying is just about the most horrible sound in the universe.

+1 FP - I hope it makes it to the front page. That was about the hardest thing I've read in awhile.

Post often here - and keep a diary so I can put a watch on it dammit! I want to hear more about what's going on in your life.
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
Not the worst, but a very close second (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by tzanger on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 12:24:06 PM EST

And your are dead-on right - the sound of mothers crying is just about the most horrible sound in the universe.

Mom crying is very very hard to hear, but my experience is that having to hear a truly sad cry from your kids -- from my daughter especially -- is the worst thing in the universe.

[ Parent ]
wnite a letter (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by snodgrass on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:09:14 PM EST

Along the same vein might I suggest that you write your Mother a letter?  Like the parent says, you seem to have a talent for expressing yourself in writing.  I'm sure that your Mother would be just as emotionally affected by a letter as she would by a hug and kiss.  I'm sure you'll have the chance to deliver it to her, so why not write it and have it ready for her?

I'm sorry about all that and really hope that things improve for you.  You seem to have a lot of friends here, so don't despair.

[ Parent ]

This really changed my night.. (4.55 / 9) (#11)
by sinblox on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:58:24 AM EST

This was an excellent article that made me think a lot different after having a bad night. I hope you continue to post about the situation. +1 fp

Why better off? (4.80 / 5) (#14)
by billt on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:13:31 AM EST

As for your mom, she'll probably be back. If not, you're better off - trust me.

Please explain...

Pisses me right off (3.07 / 13) (#17)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:30:46 AM EST

I hope I don't offend too many people. I feel like I need to steal lee's sig.

I've talked recently about narcissism. I think it's a problem in our society. I think it's a problem evidenced in the actions of Mickey's mother. For the purposes of this discussion, the term narcissism refers to the excessive love or admiration of oneself that makes one unable to perform ones duty. I know, I'm old fashioned: I think people have duty.

For example Mickey's mother has a duty to stay with her family. Does life suck? Yes. Is it a hard situation? Yes. Is it what she expected in life? No. Does that mean she has a "get out of jail free" card? No.

I rarely swear. I hardly ever edit after I'm done writing, but I needed to tone down the flaming aspect of the post. I deleted a lot.. What the hell does she think she's doing, leaving a high school kid to deal with the situation? Now, Mickey didn't tell us about dad at all so there may be something I'm missing. If he beats her, she should leave. But she should have taken Mickey with her. Just pisses me off.

"So basically my mom was staying for me because she loved me."

Did she stop loving you? So what. She should have stayed. That's what love does - it overcomes hurdles despite opposition.

Do I know everything about the situation? No, I don't. But from what I do know, it seems like mom left when she shouldn't have. Or if she left...gosh, as hard as it would be, perhaps you could have gone with her Mickey?

On a more personal note, moms usually know their kids love them. Have you ever said it? Maybe she needs to hear it more often. I know you're in a tough situation. What are you doing after you graduate? Where are your grandparents? Man, I really feel for you, I wish I could say it better, too :/

"What are the odds this post does anything other than prove yet again that I'm an ass?" - lee maletesta

Jumping the Gun (4.66 / 3) (#20)
by NightRain on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 04:29:47 AM EST

It's possible that his mother has left them behind. It's also possible that she's just decided to take a break for a few hours/days whatever, and get away from everything, so she can recover her perspective on the issue. No good going in to paroxisms of rage before you know the full details. Ray

Don't vote, it only encourages them!

[ Parent ]
Blame (3.60 / 5) (#22)
by godix on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:12:34 AM EST

I've seen a situation mildly similar to this before. My mother married knowing the man had 3 children. The childrens mother refused to let their father see them for the last 11 years. One day the mother called and said 'Come get them, I'm going into rehab'. The next day I'm living with my 3 new stepbrothers, one with severe CP. The financial drain, emotional drain of dealing with severe CP, and emotional drain of dealing with two teenagers who had been raised by a druggie had her on antidepression medication within 6 months. I know she considered suicide or leaving but she never did. Based on this incident I've come to realize that every person has obligations but under extreme circumstances the biggest obligation they have is to themselves. It very well may be that Mickey's mom is so desperate that her choice was to leave or kill herself, lord knows there are plenty of suicides from stressful home situations. I hope Mickey's mother comes back, gets his brother gets the help he needs, and everyone turns out happy; but I certainly don't blame his mother for leaving.

[ Parent ]
Oh dear (3.20 / 5) (#34)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:24:04 AM EST

"extreme circumstances the biggest obligation they have is to themselves."

Prove it. Why do you think the greatest obligation is to the self. I don't buy it. If you have a kid, or kids, your greatest obligation is to them. I don't care if it's not what you expected. I don't care if it's hard. I don't care what happens, nothing relieves you of that responsibility.

"It very well may be that Mickey's mom is so desperate that her choice was to leave or kill herself, lord knows there are plenty of suicides from stressful home situations."

First, you create a false dichotomy. Suicide or leaving are never the only two choices. Second, suicide is the most selfish of all possible actions. Third, who cares that a lot of people kill themselves because of stress. That doesn't make it right.

What you say sounds pretty, but there's no substance to back you claim at this point. I look forward to hearing justification.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

Well, maybe sometime... (4.00 / 7) (#38)
by mech9t8 on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 12:25:21 PM EST

You'll experience severe emotion stress for years and years.  Or you'll experience clinical depression.  Or you'll experience all the self doubt and pain that comes from raising problematic kids, wondering if you're doing more harm than good by staying around or leaving, questioning every decision you make for years and years as your kid's situation just gets worse and worse and you cry yourself to sleep every night.  Maybe one day, despite the fact that you think suicide is the most selfish of all possible actions, you'll find yourself contemplating it.

Then you'll understand that people aren't perfect, that there are no absolutes, and emotions can't just be managed and controlled just because it makes sense, or even that it's right.  And than maybe you'll have some sympathy for everyone in this situation.

Until then, have fun sitting back in righteous judgement, not actually emotionally understanding the situation at all.  As an encore, maybe you should find some depressed people and give them helpful advice like "snap out of it, you losers!"

[ Parent ]

Options? (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by btlzu2 on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:09:37 PM EST

I think I understand both your point about being emotionally detached from the situation and also the responsibility of a parent to his/her children. However, wouldn't it have been wise for an intelligent adult getting overwhelmed with the burdens brought on by a mentally ill son to talk about it with the other son as much as possible?

Furthermore, I think if I were dealing with these issues, I'd do anything I could to find a good therapist for myself and my spouse so we would have someone to turn to in order to discuss these issues. I can't even FATHOM what living with these problems must have been like, but I know I would have tried opening communications as much as possible and looking for more professional assistance for myself instead of letting it get so bad to where I abandoned my family.

"This machine will not communicate the thoughts and the strain I am under." --Radiohead/Street Spirit (Fade Out)
[ Parent ]
Opening communications (none / 0) (#56)
by MKalus on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:26:40 PM EST

sounds like a good idea, but the problem is that usually if you have such compound problems you have a hard time finding someone who can understand you, give insight or even just wants to listen.

Even if you talk with specialist about things like that the answers / results you are usually receive is not what you hope / wish for.

Situations like these are a no win situation for you, you are very well aware that the only thing that is going to happen the next day is more of the same.

I wouldn't be surprised if both partens had a break in their relationship because of what has happend. His mother leaving might not be the best thing, but it seems like this has been going on for 10 plus years and there are just times when you need to get away from it.

I don't necessarily think that his mother might have left for good, maybe she just needs time to reflect, someone to talk to and then she might return. Or she might come to the conclusion that she can't do it anymore and walk away from it.

I admit it, I am a sucker when it comes to help people, I more than once, on different levels, put a lot of myself into help only to drain myself on my efforts, the older the get, the more I question if my high goals are actually worth persuing if the rest of the world seems to be not interrested in it.


-- Michael
[ Parent ]

perhaps (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by mech9t8 on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:23:29 PM EST

However, wouldn't it have been wise for an intelligent adult getting overwhelmed with the burdens brought on by a mentally ill son to talk about it with the other son as much as possible?

It could be.  Maybe she's just stupid.  Should we be angry with her for just being dumb and not knowing any better?

This is my point.  We don't know enough about this situation to be angry with anyone.  We know enough to feel compassion.  We know enough to feel pity.  Perhaps even frustration.

But the anger can come later when we fully understand everyone's position.

[ Parent ]

I can't help but laugh wistfully. (3.28 / 7) (#48)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:22:15 PM EST

Apparently, because I think people have duty, I obviously haven't experienced emotional pain, heartache, indecision, or contemplated suicide.

Listen, hon, you have absolutely no idea what I've experienced. I may not have 80 years of experience under my belt, but I have a lifetime of experience - my lifetime. My best friend died a slow and painful death from AIDS at the age of sixteen. He was sick since the age of fourteen when his uncle, who infected him, raped him.

I have a family that cares for my physical needs rather well. I've never been physically starving. However, my father's life is his work - he's not emotionally involved in any sense of the term. Do you have any idea what it's like to live every single day of your life, wanting to share your innermost self with the person that gave you life, and it feels like you're beating your head against a brick wall?

Do you know what it's like to have the pressure of a family name resting on your shoulders? Shoulders that will never carry the name on into the future, because you're gay. Shoulders that had to stand alone through school, because other people didn't, couldn't, understand.

I've pondered nearly every day of my life whether or not it's worth ending. My death would make many people's lives much more easier. And here is my problem: Mickey's mom left, making the situation worse (probably). If I left, the situation would be easier for the family. My death would not be an act (overtly - there are arguments that it still is) of selfishness, but a gift to those that I love the most, and from whom the love is not returned in the sense I need.

But I still have a duty. It is a duty that transcends familial obligations. It is a duty to the people I've met. It is a duty to the people that depend on me, as few and as far between as they are. It is a duty to fulfill the investment of my teachers. It is a duty, no matter how imperfectly I embody that fulfillment, to `do my parents proud'. It is a duty I refuse to give up lightly. And because I refuse to give up lightly, every day of my life is a struggle. Do I wonder if I'm, "doing more harm than good by staying"? Nearly every day of every week of every year.

My struggle is not one of flesh and blood. My struggle is more painful, because there is no enemy to face down, no line drawn in the sand, across which one can hurl stones, against which one can fortify a physical castle.

"Then you'll understand that people aren't perfect, that there are no absolutes, and emotions can't just be managed and controlled just because it makes sense, or even that it's right.  And than maybe you'll have some sympathy for everyone in this situation."

Ohh, you do me too much an injustice! I do understand how imperfect people are: I am the most imperfect. But my imperfections do not mean I have no duty! It means living is harder, that is all. Facing down hardships, and succeeding: that is true life! Succeeding despite opposition, pressing forward when all you want to do is sit: that is the true measure of humanity.

I don't know who told you that emotions cannot be controlled, but you have swallowed a lie. Emotions can be controlled. Not repressed, but controlled. Those who deny their emotions deny an aspect of their humanity as much as those who deny reason. But we are emotional beings and rational beings: one does not trump the other. Head, heart, and hand; thought, feeling, and acting: these combine to make a whole person, a person whose life is worth living. Not worth living because it is easy, but worth living because it is so damnably hard.

Do I have sympathy? I cried as I read the article. But I also raged. When someone goes gentle into that good night, and they are not on their deathbed, they have ceased to be human. They are but a shade moving on the earth, devoid of what makes humanity human. To resign yourself to death when you're still alive, to allow defeat while there is still breath in your lungs? I pity such a person. They whisper, and are as quiet and meaningless as wind in dry grass.

How dare you, sir, how dare you. Because I fight, you accuse me of having no enemy. Because I struggle, you accuse me of never feeling pain. I have fought the toughest enemies, of which I have not shared much. I have felt the deepest pain. But I have won. Time and time again, I have won and been able to help a few others struggle to win, as well.

"Until then, have fun sitting back in righteous judgement [sic], not actually emotionally understanding the situation at all.  As an encore, maybe you should find some depressed people and give them helpful advice like `snap out of it, you losers!'"

You say I have righteous "judgement"? I grant that I find Mickey's mother's actions reprobate. Is it fun? Again, how dare you? To think I derive some sadistic pleasure from the failings of others simply demonstrates your lack of understanding.

But I have a question, and although you may not still be listening, perhaps someone else will be. Who is judging whom? You act as though I am the only one judging: but you sit back in righteous judgment as well, accusing me of wrong action. Be careful you do not bring yourself under attack.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

BS (none / 0) (#59)
by John Miles on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:47:39 PM EST

My best friend died a slow and painful death from AIDS at the age of sixteen. He was sick since the age of fourteen when his uncle, who infected him, raped him.

My understanding is that it takes a lot longer than two years after infection to develop full-blown AIDS and die of it.  

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Yoru understanding is wrong. (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:13:48 PM EST

First, the process of HIV / AIDS is different in almost every patient. Some people live for quite some time with full-blown AIDS. Other people die quite quickly.

You officially have AIDS when either you have less than 200 CD4+ cells or you have HIV and become infected with an  "opportunistic infection." My friend had HIV for 11 months when he caught PCP. Once he was infected with AIDS Pneumonia (he wasn't taking Bactrim) he didn't last very long.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

Well... (a degression on the nature of weblogs) (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by mech9t8 on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:18:34 PM EST

It's easy to forget that for every thousand people that rant self-righteously about hardship and duty without actually understanding much about what they're talking about, there are one or two people that actually do.  Obviously, you are one of them, and for that, I apologize.

You've obviously been through a lot and have, perhaps, earned the right (for lack of a better term) to criticize the mother for her actions, her lack of your sense of duty.

Perhaps not.

Perhaps playing "my pain is greater than your pain" is pointless.  Perhaps people are different, people have different breaking points, and you haven't reached yours, while she has reached hers.

I think that most people that judge the mother as reprobate don't have nearly enough understanding of the direness of her situation, and the appropriate reaction in this situation, based on what was described, is pity and compassion for everyone involved; the outrage can come later, when the facts are fully known and the mother's side and actions are understood.

But do I pass judgement?  Only on those who rush to judge others based on their own sense of morality, without even trying to empathize with those they judge, or going to efforts of trying to truely understand their position.  

How dare I?

On a weblog like this, it's impossible to judge the person, only the comments.

I don't know you, I don't know your life, I don't even know your true opinion on the matter... I just know what the comments say.  And I felt comment was judging the mother without properly walking in her shoes, and I felt that was wrong, and that the other side should be represented.

Maybe the message came off sounding a bit too accusing, for which I apologize.  I might've gotten a bit emotional... the person I saw in the comment came off a bit too judgemental without sufficient backing.  It's a weblog.  Misunderstandings like that happen all the time even in real life, never mind when all you have to judge a person is a few lines text.  That's why I try not to judge the person, only the text.  "You" refers not whoever wrote the message, but the content of the message itself.

The point isn't to judge others; the point is to come up with a comment thread that's worth reading... a thread that will cause those that judge the mother to realise "I have never really experienced depression, and perhaps I can't really judge what that's like"... and those that forgive the mother to realize "other people have maintained their sense of duty in harder circumstances, and perhaps the mother is just plain wrong for abandoning her children"... and perhaps some people will come to bit more understanding, think about things they haven't thought about, and a few more black-and-white views of the world will begin to see some shades of grey.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

But that, I think, is the point of these comments... to enrich understanding and provoke better understanding of differing opinions.

I still think you're too quick to be outraged at the behaviour of the mother, but at this stage I am content to agree to disagree.  (And note that you don't really know anything about me to know if I'm at all qualified to be making such judgements.<g>)  But that's not really the important bit: the important issue in contributing to weblog discussions, IMHO, is that every side gets represented.

[ Parent ]

I can't help but laugh ironically. (none / 0) (#118)
by synaesthesia on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 11:42:10 AM EST

Do you know what it's like to have the pressure of a family name resting on your shoulders? Shoulders that will never carry the name on into the future, because you're gay.

You're gay? Get over it.

(In case anyone isn't paying attention, this is not an outrageously homophobic comment, but an attempt at reductio ad absurdem of Cant Say's argument).

If you have a kid, or kids, your greatest obligation is to them. I don't care if it's not what you expected. I don't care if it's hard. I don't care what happens, nothing relieves you of that responsibility.

It sounds to me like you're arguing from ignorance (quite apart from your ignorance of Mickey's mother's situation: you have no experience of your own child's transition between dependence and independence).

The opinion that one's own worldview is always right (such as that a parent's responsibility is always to her children, regardless of each's ability to handle the situation) to the exclusion of all others is fanatical and lacks compassion which, in my opinion, is usually more important than adherence to some objective moral code ("I don't care what happens, nothing relieves you of that responsibility.").

Sometimes I behave badly towards those I love, and sometimes they behave badly towards me. In the latter case, I seek not to judge, but to thank my lucky stars that I am not in their position, for I hate myself in the former case.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
I suspect... (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by MMcP on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:17:26 PM EST

You are speaking from ignorance.  How much have you actually sacrificed for other people?  Have you risked death for loved ones?  Risked truly serious things at all?  

You remind me of everything that is wrong with America - speak in glowing terms and with broad strokes; bail out when things get hard.

[ Parent ]

First things (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:42:17 PM EST

Whether or not I live in synchrony with my arguments does not have any bearing on whether or not they are right or wrong. For example, I may think it's wrong to steal, and yet take office supplies from my employer. Does my action somehow negate the truth of whether or not it's right to steal? By no means.

Second, not all matters are matters of life and death. How often has anyone had the opportunity to risk their lives to save another person? Not often, and it's not an opportunity presented to all people.

What have I sacrificed? My own personal peace and affluence. I have sacrificed security. I have sacrificed emotionally, as those I'm close to have turned on me, and I continue to love and support them. I have sacrificed personal pleasure to the needs of others. I have sacrificed what most people take for granted.

Am I perfect? By no means. Sometimes I still want things my way. But on the whole, I struggle to help other people as much as they help me. And therein lies the irony. Through those moments where I've given up the most, whether emotionally or physically or monetarily, I have gained the most. For example, one of my friends needed a significant amount of money for school. He's a brilliant person, who for circumstances not necessary to divulge here, couldn't afford to return to school. I had just bought a car. It was the hardest thing for me to sell that car, but I made due with other means. I was able to help him complete school, and watching his life is absolutely amazing. Will I ever be paid back with money? Perhaps. But it won't be necessary: seeing his life is reward enough.

But it does not always work out so well. I've invested (especially emotionally) and gained nothing in return but pain and heartache. Does that mean the action was not worth it? Not at all. You don't sacrifice for future reward - you sacrifice because it's the right thing to do.

As one final disclaimer, I don't think people should throw themselves away, treat themselves as a doormat for other people. There have been times when people come to me for help, and I have to turn them away because I knew they would not appreciate or grow from the exchange. Don't be a doormat, but don't pull up the drawbridge, either.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

Sacrifice (none / 0) (#55)
by MKalus on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:17:02 PM EST

>> Second, not all matters are matters of life and death. How often has anyone had the opportunity to risk their lives to save another person? Not often, and it's not an opportunity presented to all people.<<

You can sacrifice your life without being dead.

I know what I am talking about, with both my parents being alcoholics I had a chance to move out at the age of 15, live in a group, finish school and go on with my life.

Because I felt responsible I stuck around until their death, and at the end of that I realized that the only reason I stuck around was my sense of responsiblity, my feelings where long gone.

Yes, I like the ideal of "being there for your family" in reality though if I could change one thing I would tell myself at the age of 15 to pack my bags and move, maybe my life would have been better and I wouldn't have dug myself in the hole I did, maybe not but your argument, as right as it might be from an academical ethical point of view is not right in real life.

Things like that are not a lab experiment they are ugly and unfortunatly mostly they tend to turn even more ugly.

-- Michael
[ Parent ]

you don't know the situation (none / 0) (#52)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 04:28:20 PM EST

Prove it. Why do you think the greatest obligation is to the self. I don't buy it. If you have a kid, or kids, your greatest obligation is to them.

You can't help others until you have taken care of yourself. None of us knows the exact situation that Mickey's mother was in, including Mickey. Most of us, including probably you, don't know what Mickey was talking about when he said "My mom has problems with my dad...problems I won't go into here." I'm not going to get into possibilities, because I don't think it's my place, but suffice it to say that there are justifications for his mother to have done what she did.

It's neither my place nor yours to say whether what she did was right.

[ Parent ]
Absolutely (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:04:08 PM EST

"You can't help others until you have taken care of yourself."

I agree, but one must take care of oneself not qua oneself, but in order to fulfill one's duty.

"Most of us, including probably you, don't know what Mickey was talking about when he said 'My mom has problems with my dad...problems I won't go into here.'"

Exactly, that's why I say, "Now, Mickey didn't tell us about dad at all so there may be something I'm missing. If he beats her, she should leave. But she should have taken Mickey with her." See, even if he was being horribly wrong, and she needed to get out, she should have protected her children still. Does that make sense?

"It's neither my place nor yours to say whether what she did was right."

Whose place is it? And when can someone say whether or not something is right?

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

OK, I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:28:50 PM EST

Whose place is it? And when can someone say whether or not something is right?

Well, personally I'd say never. Or more specifically, only when that person asks (or that person is yourself). But certainly you shouldn't make a judgement about right and wrong when you haven't even heard the person's side of the story. I mean we don't even know if Mickey's mom is just leaving for the weekend, and Mickey is just being paranoid. It's certainly possible.

But anyway, I'll take your statements as a hypothetical, rather than a judgement of this particular person. In which case I jumped to conclusions with my rant.

[ Parent ]
realistic (none / 0) (#54)
by godix on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:05:31 PM EST

"Prove it. Why do you think the greatest obligation is to the self."
"If you have a kid, or kids, your greatest obligation is to them."

This is a philosophical arguement, I feel the ultimate responsability is to yourself, you feel it's to your children. Both have valid arguements for them but neither can be 'proved' in the sense you mean. Consider this though, exactly how much use is it to her children if she goes into severe depression, possible suicide, or other abnormal behavior?

"First, you create a false dichotomy."
"Second, suicide is the most selfish of all possible actions."
"Third, who cares that a lot of people kill themselves because of stress. That doesn't make it right."

I didn't say it was right, I said it was what happens. You're argueing from a position of ideals, I'm argueing from a place of reality. Idealy everyone realizes suicide is selfish and there is always more choices that the 'false dichotomy'. Realistically people with severe depression sometimes view sucide as a way out and often fall into false dichotomys. There is a place for ideals of course, but Mickeys situation is reality and needs to be treated in a realistic way.

[ Parent ]

Philosophy has reasons (none / 0) (#60)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:00:17 PM EST

"I am free to kill whomever I wish" is a philosophical argument, too. Actually, it's an assertion, not an argument. When I ask you to prove your position, I'm merely asking for reasons for your belief. Those reasons may be sound or they may be unsound.

"Consider this though, exactly how much use is it to her children if she goes into severe depression, possible suicide, or other abnormal behavior?"

That's a good point. However, I think it ultimately helps uphold my position. He has a duty to take care of herself in order to help care for her children. So for example, it is wrong for her to eat only chocolate, even though she enjoys it. Why? Because it will ultimately lead to her death and she will be unable to care for her children. In the 'real life' example above, she has the responsibility to take care of her family. Someone else suggested getting psychological help. I couldn't agree more: she needs to find support in order to make it through the tough ordeal. But she doesn't owe it to herself (though it will help her), she owes it to her family. Just the same way, the father owes certain things to his wife and kids, and the children have a debt to their parents.

"There is a place for ideals of course, but Mickey's situation is reality and needs to be treated in a realistic way."

My position is not unrealistic: find a way to get over yourself and take care of the kids. As you correctly point out, she may need to find help in order to fulfill that obligation.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

proof (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by godix on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:08:54 PM EST

"When I ask you to prove your position, I'm merely asking for reasons for your belief."

Ah, my mistake, I thought you meant proof in the more mathematical sense of the word. Sorry, I should have realized a philisophical discussion would use the philosophical sense of the word 'proof'. Anyway my reasons:

- Duty and control are bound together. What you have control over you have a duty to use that control well. The thing you have ultimate control over is yourself, so the thing you have ultimate duty to is yourself. Along with this is that if you feel your ultimate duty is to your children you very well may start to feel you should have ultimate control over them, and I think that's just wrong.
- Quite often responsability is thrust on you from outside factors. I feel others don't have the right to control you. Therefore responsability that's thrust on you from others is not as important as responsability to yourself.
- The age old but somewhat true 'if you aren't going to care for yourself who is' arguement.
- Before you can help others you generally have to be stable yourself. Thus your obligation to yourself should be before your obligation to others. As you say, the motivation for this may be an obligation to others, but the result is an obligation to yourself is more important.

Please note, I'm not saying she doesn't have an obligation to her family, I think it's clear she does. I'm saying that when the two conflict in extreme circumstances then her obligation to herself is more important. In more normal circumstances than this there should be some some give and take between the two in order to prevent 'obligation to herself' from becoming 'selfish at the expense of her family'.

"My position is not unrealistic: find a way to get over yourself and take care of the kids. As you correctly point out, she may need to find help in order to fulfill that obligation."

Some people are able to handle this type of stress, others aren't. It is better that someone who can't removes themselves from it instead of staying around adding even further to the families problems. Right now Mickey is upset that she left but that will slowly fade. If she had stayed she'd continue causing him to feel 'You just want to vomit out all of your guts while crying yourself' in addition to the problems he has with his brother. Perhaps this was the best his mother could do for him. If so it's sad, but I have some respect for anyone who realizes they're causing more harm than good so they leave. Granted, from Mickeys description I suspect this is a side issue instead of her main motivation.

In the end you and I agree on what should happen though. Hopefully now that his mother is away from the situation she'll realize getting help for herself is an option and then after she's well she'll come back to help her children and husband. This is of course assuming the unspecified problems between her and her husband aren't insurmountable problems themselves.

[ Parent ]

Uncertainty (none / 0) (#79)
by Cant Say on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:25:46 PM EST

I think a lot of the conflict comes over the specifics of Mickey's situation. Obviously there is much about the mother's mental and emotional capacity that is unknown. So perhaps, at risk of loosing touch with reality, we can abstract the discussion (which has happened somewhat already) and speak in a more universal sense.

My maxim is something to the effect of: a parent's duty to their children is greater than their duty to him or herself.

First, where we agree:

"It is better that someone who can't removes themselves from it instead of staying around adding even further to the families problems."

I concur. However, the person is removing him or herself not to save the self, but to save the children. If they stay, they do more harm. Hence, if they leave, they do less harm, and protect the children. One concrete example of this would be if the person was beating their child. He or she should remove herself in order to protect their child1.

"If she had stayed she'd continue causing him to feel 'You just want to vomit out all of your guts while crying yourself' in addition to the problems he has with his brother."

Given the situation, it seems unlikely that her leaving was the best thing for Mickey. However, if it was the best thing for Mickey, and not for the mother, she took the right action2.

"If so it's sad, but I have some respect for anyone who realizes they're causing more harm than good so they leave."

Absolutely. But I do suspect that, "this is a side issue instead of her main motivation." But that is mere conjecture.

"I'm saying that when the two conflict in extreme circumstances then her obligation to herself is more important."

OK, I just thought of something. I'm just going to throw this out there, and if you agree to it without significant argumentation and refutation of your points, then that's cool!

I think we need to look at a hierarchy of needs. There are many hierarchies of needs. For simplicities sake, I'll speak of three levels: Existential Needs, or needs that must be fulfilled to survive; Relational Needs, or needs that foster interpersonal relationships; and Growth Needs, or requirements necessary to progress and develop as a human in the 'higher sense' (whatever that means)3.

Now, here's what I think we might be able to agree to: A parent is not justified in sacrificing their child's existential needs in order to meet his or her interpersonal or growth needs.

I also think if there is conflict between the interpersonal or growth needs of the adult and child, the parent should sacrifice4 their needs for their child's. If, however, there is a conflict between the existential needs, the parent is justified in protecting his or her life.

Hmm, try that on for size. If you want me to elaborate on justification, let me know.

[1] Obviously it's unlikely that a person who beats their child will have enough presence of mind to remove him or herself. However, they should remove themselves.

[2] Notice that the two views are not always contradictory: often, doing what is best for the parent is also what is best for the child.

[3] http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/regsys/maslow.html

[4] Again, keeping in mind that one cannot sacrifice short term, while ignoring impending long-term destruction (i.e. don't sacrifice if that sacrifice will lead to the ultimate destruction of the family, because that will be worse for the child.)

[ Parent ]

needs (none / 0) (#84)
by godix on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 02:34:01 AM EST

"A parent is not justified in sacrificing their child's existential needs in order to meet his or her interpersonal or growth needs."

I can not imagine a circumstance where I would agrue with this.

"if there is conflict between the interpersonal or growth needs of the adult and child, the parent should sacrifice their needs for their child's."

I think it depends on how strong the needs are on both sides. For example if the issue is 'Do I send my kid to camp to socialize or do I go to college' then I'd probably side with the parents. If its 'Do I go out with my friends or help my child with his homework' then I side with the child.

"If, however, there is a conflict between the existential needs, the parent is justified in protecting his or her life."

Again, I find it hard to think of a case where I'd argue with this. I do note that many parents would choose the childs existential needs, but I wouldn't blame them if they chose their own.

In Mickeys case it appears that the conflict is an extreme example of parents growth vs childs interpersonal. Based on what we know I would say the mothers needs are stronger. If the mother gets help that help would reduce her growth need to the point where Mickeys interpersonal need is more important, which is why we've partially agreed a couple of times. I also freely admit if I had more details I might very well change my mind about the mothers actions.

[ Parent ]

Cool, I think I'm happy (none / 0) (#92)
by Cant Say on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 04:19:52 PM EST

My only caveat:

" think it depends on how strong the needs are on both sides. For example if the issue is 'Do I send my kid to camp to socialize or do I go to college' then I'd probably side with the parents."

I agree, but only because by going to college, the parent is able to help the child better long term.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

control (none / 0) (#85)
by dalinian on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 06:44:32 AM EST

Duty and control are bound together.
Amen. "Ought implies can." If you are not in control over yourself, you don't have any obligations simply because you can't fulfil any obligation. At that point, ethical discussion is not relevant anymore.

Also, this is clearly an extreme situation, a moral dilemma if you will. There is no good alternative left, and it's hard to see which one of the alternatives is the least evil solution.

So, even if Mickey's mother was in control, the choice would be hard because this is such an extreme situation. But she probably isn't even in control of herself. And I can't blame her at all, after reading about her crying night after night for years. Thus, it seems "Cant Say" is making, and relying on several assumptions that are difficult to believe.

[ Parent ]

What are your arguments in favor? (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by ghjm on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:47:05 PM EST

I can make a couple against.

1. The naturalist argument. Observe any large mammals in the wild. In situations where there is starvation, do parent animals give preference to their children or themselves? Answer: If there is only enough food for one to live, the children die. It is very sad but that's what happens.

2. The pragmatic argument. If children need a parent in order to survive, then loss of the parent means loss of the children. This is the same reason you put your own oxygen mask on first.

3. The social argument. When a child is born, what obligations come into existence? Parents take on a lot of responsibility, but non-parents cannot disclaim any involvement. All members of society share a fundamental responsibility towards that society's children. By making the existence of children appear to be a choice made by the parents, the birth control revolution has made it possible for other members of society to disclaim any responsibility for the upbringing of children - to society's great loss. We were better off when any adult would naturally keep an eye on the safety and good behavior of any children who came into their sphere. Forcing parents to take on all such responsibility, and absolving everyone else from even a tiny share of it, puts an unbearable burden on parents.


[ Parent ]

Lack of Options (none / 0) (#137)
by virg on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 04:38:42 PM EST

> My position is not unrealistic: find a way to get over yourself and take care of the kids. As you correctly point out, she may need to find help in order to fulfill that obligation.

Well, what if her way of getting past it is to leave for a few hours, or days? Would she not be well served to do that, so that she can return with realigned perspective to fulfill this duty you expound so strongly? He didn't state that she left and was gone for a long time. At the time of writing, she'd been gone for an hour or so.

That you assume that stepping away, even for a moment, is supreme dereliction of duty is what leads me to believe you lack perspective. Her kids will be there tomorrow, and as far as you or anyone here knows, so will she. That's what is meant when you're told not to judge so quickly.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Yeah, you're an ass... (none / 0) (#95)
by weave on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 06:06:56 PM EST

Sounds to me like she stuck around for the longest time. There's also no evidence that she's gone for good. But if it gets so bad that she's going to break, then at some point she needs to take care of herself. Self-preservation is important.

[ Parent ]
Every woman has her breaking point. (5.00 / 2) (#97)
by juju2112 on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 07:37:58 PM EST

Mothers are not Gods. They have a breaking point. Simply telling them to "Get over themselves" isn't really going to cut it. It's just not that easy.

If it were, we could all just walk into our shrink's office and he'd say, "Get over yourself! $100 please." And then you'd respond, "Thanks, doc! I'm all better now!"

[ Parent ]

You don't know it until you've lived it (4.62 / 8) (#27)
by John Thompson on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 08:43:47 AM EST

Mental illness is is insidious.  When you're in the grip of the disease, you can't be convinced that your delusions are not real.  And when the delusions are under control, you can't believe that you still need to take the medications.  It tears up the victim and all those around them.  My sister was/is schizophrenic and living with her was hell, very like what you describe.  She spent several years in an institution (this was quite some time ago -- late 60's -- and the medications to treat psychosis simply were not available), but returned to live at home her senior year in high school.  She was also quite brilliant.  Despite not having formal school for several years, she aced all her classes her senior year and got one of the highest scores in the school in math.  But the day after she graduated in 1972 she left home and we haven't seen her since.

There is no absolute distinction between mentally healthy and mentally ill.    My sister, and your brother were obviously mentally ill, with delusions of persecution and such.  My mother and your mother (I suspect) both unreasonably blamed themselves for the hell their children put them through.  It is much like the paranoid delusions of mental illness.  Sometimes it doesn't take much to wander over to the far side.

Don't blame yourself for your mother's departure or your brother's problems.  At least your brother seems to recognize sometimes that his behavior is psychotic and resumes his medications.  Don't give up hope.  And be patient with your mother.  I'm sure she'll be back in contact with you eventually.

Same with depression. (4.66 / 3) (#41)
by Netsnipe on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:23:27 PM EST

Mental illness is is insidious. When you're in the grip of the disease, you can't be convinced that your delusions are not real.
In my personal experience, severe depression is also the same. When I'm my rational self I know that I probably have a chemical balance in my head causing me to dwell on depressive thoughts, that my suicidal thoughts are a selfish and short sighted solution to my problems and that I can get better as long as I keep accepting help. But whenever my dark side swings in, all I can think is that the world is generally out to make me as miserable as possible, that I'm a flawed character to be self-hated, and worse of all, that there is no hope and the successes of treatment is just another illusion eventually to be crushed like all the other hopes you ever had. It's scary how easy it to swing from being truly rational to "depressively rational". I can't stand people who say "snap out of it". It's impossible when what one's dark side says feels so true.

Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]
Hello (2.50 / 8) (#29)
by enterfornone on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:14:25 AM EST

My brother is also schizophrenic, and it does annoy me how little people know about it, so an article telling people about it would be welcome. But this one is way too diary like for me to vote up, sorry.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Thank you, and... don't be so hard on yourself. (4.84 / 13) (#30)
by Jel on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:51:26 AM EST

First of all, let me say thanks.  Too many people keep this stuff to themselves, suffering in silence, making others in similar situations suffer alone, and making those on the outside wonder what the problem is.  People should be able to do this more, and in any venue which suits the moment, be it yourself, posting on K5, or a newsreader, breaking down on national TV.  So +1FP from me, regardless of section etc.

The difference between all of you and me though, is that I don't know how to express myself. I love my mom but I can't find a way to tell her. I feel like it's so hard for me to hug her or tell her I love her. I don't know why. I just wish I could hug her and tell her I love her and that everything is going to be okay. Arrgh why am I such a non-emotional freak. I feel like such a heartless asshole.

I doubt it will be of much comfort, but you should know that personal interactions are based upon roles -- parent-to-child, child-to-parent, child-to-child, and parent-to-parent.  Each position, in each of these roles allows different us to say different things, and prevents us from saying others.  As far as I'm aware, the child-to-parent role is the one which prevents support most of all.   And, since, most of our relationships are defined from the outset according to these roles, it's often very difficult to suddenly become the supportive parent when you were the needy child moments ago.  In short, don't blame yourself for not having the words with your mom -- it's just how the relationships work.

Knowing about these roles, though, you may find it easier to decisively take up one position over the other.  I'm no expert, but I believe that you'd need to actually breath deeply and literally assume an adult role in the situation, before it would begin to feel "right" to support your own parents.  The parent-child role would work, but in the end, I think the adult-adult relationship is the most healthy and effective, allowing people to share with each other -- exactly what you need, as a grown family, to all get through this together.

Having said all that, I am not a psychologist, and I hope someone more qualified will back me up on this, or quickly set it straight.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon

self-correction (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by Jel on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:53:46 AM EST

, and parent-to-parent.

Actually, that last one is adult-to-adult -- sorry for the confusion.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]

Letter (4.87 / 8) (#33)
by Trollificus on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:05:46 AM EST

Whether this letter is real or not, I can't be sure. But if it is, then it might offer you a rare insight into the mind of someone suffering with Schizophrenia. It wasn't written by a doctor, or a therapist or someone claiming to be an expert on a subject they've had absolutely no personal experience with. It was written by someone who actually suffers from the illness.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL

A similar experience... (2.20 / 5) (#39)
by xriso on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 12:47:45 PM EST

I spent some time with a schizophrenic. She had that paranoia (everybody is talking about HER everywhere she goes), a bit of solipsism (only she really exists), and eventually attempted suicide (although, not in a very effictive way). I don't know why Japan put her up as an exchange student. Did they not know?
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
your mom did the right thing (3.11 / 9) (#40)
by buglord on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:16:41 PM EST

Your story was written straight from the heart, full of emotion. And that's good and lacking on k5. I have the deepest respect for you, because I know from experience how difficult it is to talk about these things.

I have a sister who has borderline tendencies and had a very extreme cutting phase. She would get drunk in discos, lock herself up in the restroom and gash her arms with broken glasses. She took an overdose of an antidepressant which, in large amounts, has a depressive effect and can lead to heart stoppage. She regularily wound up in Emergency Rooms several times a month, and once she almost severed nerves and tendons in her left arm.

My mother was a wreck, especially when our father left her for his girlfriend, and wasn't much help to her. I always tried to be there to comfort, but I noticed how difficult it became for me to express my own feelings. I was absolutely out of tune with myself, unable to recognize or even fulfill my own wishes.

Well, we were all so busy trying to help my sister - because she was diagnosed as having a mental disease, and it couldn't be her fault - that we forgot about ourselves. So the day came when I had to tell my sister, "I love you, and I couldn't bear to lose you, but what you are doing will kill you. You know I can't help you, but just think of those that love you next time you cut."

It might sound mean, but your mother did the right thing. It won't help anybody if your brother drains all of you so that you can't be of any help. Show your compassion, and let him know you love him - but let him know that he has to take care of his problem himself.

Mental illnes is no excuse to destroy the lives of friends and family.

I'm happy so much now I know how to use a gun!
Die Technik bereit und stabil... wir wollen zurück ins Telespiel!
welle:erdball - telespiel

i think you should rephrase this: (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by jnemo131 on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:36:54 PM EST

"Mental illnes is no excuse to destroy the lives of friends and family."

Rather, mental illness is no excuse to let it ruin your lives.

"I heard the droning in the shrine of the sea-monkey"
-The Pixies
[ Parent ]

Take care of himself? (5.00 / 4) (#43)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 01:43:04 PM EST

Show your compassion, and let him know you love him - but let him know that he has to take care of his problem himself.

Schizophrenia is nothing like the BPD that your sister has. It is quite likely that he is unable to take care of his problem himself.

Whether or not his mother and/or father want to be the ones who take care of him, someone has to do it. I'm not saying it's wrong for not volunteering to be that person. But he's not going to take care of himself.

[ Parent ]
Conspired against by fellow students... (3.87 / 8) (#46)
by treat on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:18:21 PM EST

A few days later, he came home panicking about how the entire school had a problem with him. Like a conspiracy or something.


Days later, my brother comes home explaining that now the teachers had turned against him as well!

Unpopularity feeds on itself. Children in school like having someone to conspire against. The same person will be chosen repeatedly because they were an appopriate choice in the past. The student conspire to get the victim into trouble with the teachers - the teachers start to dislike the troublemaker. He may tell the teachers of his problems, and when it comes to his word against dozens of others, he loses and the teachers dislike him even more.

What if he was indeed simply the victim of a conspiracy by his fellow students? And then he is placed on mind-altering medication. And it all goes downhill from there.

While this is consistant with the facts as given, there are a lot that were not given that may make it clear that this is not a possible explanation. But regardless of whether this is what happened in this case, it is worthy to consider that this sort of thing -does- happen. The social environments of schools can be extremely destructive. And while it may sometimes be necessary, forcibly giving someone mind-altering drugs is quite risky.

Hehehe... (4.16 / 6) (#51)
by Bad Mojo on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 04:28:18 PM EST

I wonder if hyper-rationalization is a clinical disease.

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

[ Parent ]
The memoir form (4.89 / 39) (#47)
by dipipanone on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:19:50 PM EST

Sometimes, the rigidity of attitude and opinion on K5 can be really peculiar. Its too late for me to +1 FP this, because it's already done, but I want to say a few words about why I would have voted this way anyway.

Yes, K5 does have a diary section. It's a ghetto for narcissists. I occasionally pop my head in there, but rarely for more than a moment, because the bulk of it is crap. Suggesting that this piece belongs in the diary is to suggest that it belongs among the rest of the tiresome narcissistic crap. Now perhaps some of you genuinely do feel that way about the piece? If so, then that would be a good reason to deny it the +1. But the idea that powerful events that touch us personally have no place in the K5 sections or on the front page seems to me to be sheer nonsense.

It's like being a publisher and turning down the Diary of Anne Frank, or Kay Jameson's 'A troubled mind', because those books really belonged in the author's dressing table drawer.

Memoir is a respectable literary and journalistic form. When a story doesn't offer anything new, any new insights, or have the ability to touch us and make us feel something, then yes, it probably does deserve to be sent back to the diaries, but this story doesn't fall into that category, IMO.

Like Mickey, I also have some personal experience of schizophrenia.

When I was a young man, I had a relationship with a woman who eventually got pregnant and gave birth to a child. The pregnancy wasn't planned. She had an tooth abscess, and the dentist gave her an antibiotic, without bothering to mention that it negated the effects of the contraceptive pill.

So, she got pregnant and had the child. It was a few months after the child was born that she showed the first signs of instability.

When the child was three months old, she walked out on me. The reason for this, she said, is that she was too young to be tied down and live the live of a traditional housewife. (She was about 22 or so.) She wanted to go out clubbing at night and have fun. Not just at weekends, note, but during the week as well. Most nights, in fact.

I was completely gutted. I hadn't wanted a child either. I'd argued that an abortion made most sense, given that we were both unemployed, living in a slum with fairly sizeable drug habits at the time. I wasn't even sure that I liked this woman an awful lot, let alone wanted to spend the next 20 odd years with her.

She was totally opposed to the idea of a termination. She was determined to have this baby, and if that meant having it on her own, then so be it. Well, I might be a shit, but I'm not a total shit. I bit the bullet and settled down to the idea that my life was going to change. I stopped using drugs, went back to school, got a job and then out she went.

She had a whole series of misadventures, but to give you some sense of what we're talking here, her first move was to go and live in a squat in Amsterdam with a bisexual leatherboy, while she left the baby with her mother. (Her mother was more stable than she was in many ways, but you've never met a more narcissistic woman. Think Blanche Dubois, trying to swoop on her daughter's boyfriends and you're getting close.)

So now I find myself committed to being a part time father. Having the child at weekends and holidays, etc. It was complete and utter hell.

A few weeks later, she came back from her Amsterdam jaunt, the whole thing having ended in disaster, and spent the next year or two moving from one grotty squat to another. Taking my infant son back to his mother at the end of the weekend was hell. He'd scream and cry because he didn't want to go back to live in shit. And sometimes she'd be home, sometimes she wouldn't.

It was one of these weekends when I first learned she'd been hospitalized. After waiting outside her flat for a couple of hours, I poked a note through the door and went home to wait.

Two days later, frantic with worry, I learned that she'd been hospitalized for her own protection. The men with the white van and the big nets came and took her away when she went apeshit in a sweet shop.

And so rather than being just a weekend father for the next few years, I became a father for half of every year, while she was hospitalized. Then, they'd let her out again, she'd take the meds for a while and cry about how she wanted her son back, how he was the only thing she had in her life. And so he'd go back again -- by now having learned to bury his dislike of having to live with an insane mother for fear of hurting her feelings -- and I'd spend the next few months, wracked with pain and guilt until the whole thing happened again.

Somebody lower down the page made a very interesting comment, about how Mickey's mother had a responsibility to stay with her family and son.

I'm very sympathetic to that approach now. As I've gotten older, I've come to see exactly how important family is. Family are the people who are there for you, come what may. Who'll support you, regardless of the circumstances. Who'll visit you in jail, even if you've been diddling little girls. And I didn't leave this woman, she left me -- but she did try emotional blackmail to get back together -- 'for the sake of the child', and I was very susceptible to that but fortunately, I'd met someone else who actually does mean 'commitment' when she says the word. Had that not happened, I might also have been in the same position as Mickey's mother is now.

We struggled on like this for ten years or so. Then, it happened again. I took the boy home after the weekend. Once again, she wasn't home. I waited a few hours, and then I went home again.

This time, I had a very bad feeling about the whole business, and so during my lunch break I drove out to where she lived, just in time to see the ambulance drivers bringing out the body bag.

She'd taken an overdose of whiskey and pills. A year or two before, she'd fucked a rock and roll singer and she developed an unwanted obsession with him. She'd taken to stalking him, but earlier that year, he'd been killed in a motorcycle accident. Her journal said that she'd gone to join him in the sky or rock and roll heaven or some such lunatic bullshit.

So I do understand something about the range of emotions Mickey must be feeling at the moment. When this woman killed herself, my first thought was anger. How the fuck could anyone be so selfish as to inflict such pain and misery on such a beautiful child? I didn't give a shit how unhappy she was, her primary responsibility was to the life she'd brought into this world. Even if she didn't care about herself, she had to care about that.

The selfish, selfish cunt.

My next feeling was relief. At last, my son will be able to grow up in the stable environment that I'd managed to create for him. Her overall influence on the child's life was far from positive, and he stood a very good chance of turning out very fucked up -- just as her mother had passed on her narcissistic tendencies to her daughter, maybe they'd be passed on to my darling son.

Finally, there was the guilt. Insane, stupid and selfish as she was, she was a woman that I'd once loved dearly. Had there been something, anything that I could have done differently that could have saved her life? If we'd gotten back together, perhaps she'd still be alive and my son would have his mother?

Today, my son is a young adult and I know that there's a school that thinks schizophrenia is heritable. I like to think that if he was stricken with the same madness as his mother, that I'd hang in there for him and do whatever I could.

But the truth is, you can't sacrifice everyone else for one person, no matter how great their need. If you're going to be useful to others, you have to be able to function -- and until you've walked a mile in Mickey's mother's shoes, as I have, you really aren't qualified to comment.

Suck my .sig

My Sympathy (5.00 / 1) (#127)
by floydian on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 06:21:30 PM EST

Thank you very much for writing this up. Your post struck a very intimate chord with me. While I agree with your opinion that Mickey's message deserved to be featured in the front page, I especially sympathize with your personal experience.

Almost exactly three years ago, I, quite foolishly, became involved in a very intense (and short) relationship with a woman my same age (we were both 21); a relationship that I fear has left me scarred for life. In retrospective analysis, I have become convinced that this woman was, and quite probably still is, an undiagnosed manic-depressive (or should I say bipolar?), mainly by discussing the topic with psychologists and reading about the subject.

The reason I feel your situation was similar to mine, is that she also became pregnant. And, I felt way too guilty to give in to the idea of an abortion. In my immaturity, I thought that I had true feelings for this person (hey, who knows, I probably did love her), and wanted to do "the right thing". As you may have guessed, she did not share those feelings, and ended up getting an abortion by herself (with help from one of her other boyfriends), and terminating any contact with me, leaving me desolate and broken.

It is very difficult for me to write about this now. I have only shared this with one person, who is now my SO. But, I can't help but thinking that your situation could very easily have been mine, had this person agreed to marry me (yes, I even proposed!) and have that child. To help you understand why I made that decision, you should know that a) I was completely infatuated by her, and very much "in love", since she was my first real girlfriend, b) I had no idea that she was sleeping around (as I found out later on), or that she was mentally ill, and c) the guilt of an abortion, or even of leaving her on her own, was overwhelming.

I try hard not to harbour any ill feelings against her, especially since I now believe that she was a victim of a mental illness. But many people can confirm that dealing with a mentally ill person is at best difficult, esp. when the person goes untreated, and even more so if that person has a hidden agenda. That six-month period has been the hardest of my life, and I'm afraid that I haven't fully recovered yet.

I have wondered many times how my life would have been had she decided to continue with the pregnancy; and when I read your message, you stirred feelings that I had deeply buried within myself. This is why my heart goes out to you, and I sympathize deeply with you. I know it may be only a small consolation, but you have to know that you are not alone.

For what it's worth, I think that you are a very brave person. And, I think you definitely did the right thing. You should be very proud of your dedication to your son, of whom you speak so lovingly. And, my friend, take it from someone who already tried to save someone and failed: It's not up to you: it's up to them. Like I told you, I offered this woman the best I had: a life of dedication. It was everything I had, and the best I had; but she still flushed it down the toilet. Of course, it made me feel worth shit, but I am finally understanding that there was nothing I could do for her; she was (and still is) just a severely fucked up person, who may only benefit from professional, expert help.

Good luck, and I congratulate you on your dedication to your boy. Cherish him, and try to find your happiness through your relationship with him. And, once more, thank your for such an insightful post.

[ Parent ]
hrm (2.00 / 9) (#49)
by turmeric on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:34:21 PM EST

that sucks.

i knew someone whose parent was schizo.

have you considered some sort of support groups or counseling or something? it is doesnt seem 'natural' for 3 people alone to try to deal with your brothers illness, with only medication to help. . . . especially if 2 of those three people are fighting each other about marriage.... any cousins? aunts? uncles? friends? relatives? church? school counselor? anything?

About your feelings towards your mother. (4.66 / 3) (#53)
by MKalus on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 04:43:04 PM EST

Okay, I can't relate to the Shizophrenia but both of my parents turned alcoholic after my half brother had died.

Much like you I had (and have) the same problems in regards of being emotional about things. At a time it was at a point were I wouldn't even hug people and pushed them away if they tried.

I think this is a normal reaction if you are in a situation that you can't handle emotionally, it is easier to stay away than to get into it.

I am now working in this issue for the past 5 years and I tend to get "better" but for me it is still quite some struggle at times.

In short: Don't worry too much about it.... You're just protecting yourself, it is easier to do things that have to be done when you don't have an emotional attachment to the person than when you are close.

As for your mother: When I was 12 I was asking my partens why they stayed together if they only hated each other (I guess the death of my half-brother had broken their relationship as well) and their answer was: "Because of you" in the end I have to say that we all would have been better off if we would have split.

Now in your case it is a bit different considering that your brother is still alive and well, hang in there no idea what to suggest otherwise.

-- Michael

Couple of things... (3.00 / 7) (#57)
by MickLinux on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:30:37 PM EST

(1) You say schizophrenia, but then describe psychotic behavior, and say psychosis.  I have no idea about the interrelationship between the two, but -- just a thought -- some psychotic behavior can be triggered chemically.  For example, prednisone, given for allergies, also causes psychotic behavior both during and after treatment (as withdrawal occurs).  Doctors don't tell you this, but it is a factor.

(2) If your brother can recognize that he is irrational in his feelings, he may be able to rationalize ignoring the feelings, and just being scared.  If that is the case, he may be able to deal with things better.

(3) If there is a family weakness towards insanity -- and such a weakness does often coincide with high intelligence; the instability in one case seems to be bad, but in another seems to be good -- then it may be better to steer away from highly technical or thought-intensive jobs yourself.  It may be good, for example, to become a gym teacher and garden during your summers, rather than an engineer or a stock analyst or mathematician.  One family of my father's had 3 brilliant students, each to fall victim to schizophrenia.  The 4th, a very bright young girl, went the gym teacher route and never did go insane.

(4) Try to forgive your mom.  And your brother too.  Each has strong weaknesses, and -- within the framework of those weaknesses -- is still your mom and your brother.  

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.

Not so simple... (none / 0) (#68)
by r1chard on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 07:22:21 PM EST

We/I tend to create obstables. I'm a smart guy with a good job, and recognise I have to take habit and the comfort of familiarity into account, but there is a huge fear of the unknown.

[ Parent ]

I agree it's not so simple, but... (4.00 / 2) (#86)
by MickLinux on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 07:58:43 AM EST

I agree that things aren't quite that simple, but the goal for the schizophrenic should be to work around his disability -- for disability is exactly what that is.

I, too, have had something.  I don't know what it was, but I do know what caused it.  I was given prednisone to treat me for hyperallergies, and -- though I didn't know why at the time -- I became paranoid.  Specifically, I was worried that someone was putting something in my food to control me.  I also was discovering some very real coverup stuff by our government (DEA, ATF militarism, murders, and attacks) that the press wasn't reporting, and was starting to have some major problems with the social security system.

I recognized that I had a problem, but chose not to go for treatment.  Instead, I worked with my mom (with whom I was living at the time).  

We both agreed that the fear was completely irrational -- but very real.  So the upshot was that she agreed to try to give me just nutritious natural food (minimize the additives) and let me cook my own food when I was feeling particularly paranoid, and let me get my own food in general.  

I, on the other hand, simply did my best to ignore the feelings, and -- if I did have a fear -- would subject it to reason.  If I could rationally prove that the fear was based upon real problem, then I would respond to the real problem.  Other than that, I would do my best to ignore it.

Anyhow, probably because the prednisone eventually wore off, I stopped being paranoid.  On the other hand, I stop cooperating with the government regarding my SSN -- a thing that most people would regard as crazy, but a thing that was related more to the idea that no good and only bad comes through that system.

[Some will disagree, saying 'I get good from it' -- but the good that they get is good that they would have had if the Soc. Security system had never existed, or else they are taking money from poorer people, or both.  Certain articles in the government publication "Statistics of Income" show that the government is well aware that the Social Security System takes care of the poor in their old age by eliminating poor people before they get old--and that, without reading between the lines.]  

That said, there have been a few times where I have decided that using the SSN in specific was a good thing to do; and there I have been willing to use it.  But it is based on good and evil, not whether the government wants me to or not.

Anyhow, that is how I got -- or am getting -- through my own such difficulty.  Others will have other methods.  But in general, what I have seen is that the best way to get through it is to relieve the presence that is pressuring the person.  In other words, if you are paranoid about green lights, don't live in a house that has a lot of stoplights.  Rather, try to live in the country.
As time passes, the urgency of the paranoia slowly fades as well.  

That seems to work if your paranoia is directed at just one or two things.

However, if new paranoias keep popping up, I also should say that I suspect that a lot of the paranoia may be triggered by a combination of (1) too much technical and too little physical labor (2) continuous social or financial struggle (3) A media that feeds fears (4) A general feeling of powerlessness, as the government seizes more power, both financial and regulatory.

The solution to a lot of those things may be to become a frontiersman.  Go to a place that is less civilized, and work with your hands.

I am not a doctor, though, of any kind -- I only speak based upon my experience.  So don't substitute such snakeoil as I offer for real treatment.  Just because I used the snakeoil and not the real treatment, and seem to be surviving, does not mean that the same will work for anyone else.  And everything here is snakeoil.  Homemade snakeoil, perhaps, but snakeoil nonetheless.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Diagnostic terms (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by Znork on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 07:56:08 PM EST

Psychoses (and neuroses) are fairly obsolete diagnostic terms. Psychoses was used to categorize pretty much all psychological disorders that were so severe that the individual could be considered entirely out of touch with reality and usually needed to be hospitalized. As diagnostic terms they are not very precise, including everything from schizophrenia through severe phobias to depression, and are therefore deprecated.

Schizophrenia is a current term. It is signified by a severe loss of contact with reality (and thus often fell under psychoses diagnosis). Delusions, paranoia, hallucinations (aural and visual), etc. Schizophrenics often do not to realize that they are behaving strangely, or that anything is wrong with them.

Schizophrenia has a hereditary component. It is believed to be caused by an excess of dopamine in the brain. Medicines decrease the amount and reduce the symptoms. Drugs and schizophrenia are a _bad_ combination, especially amphetamines and others that interact with the dopamine system.

[ Parent ]

Better explained by stress and exercise (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by FlipFlop on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 04:43:34 PM EST

Most of what I know about Schizophrenia comes from Abnormal Psychology by David S. Holmes (which is an excellent book by the way). I doubt the technical and thought-intensive issue really matters. More likely, technical and though-intensive jobs are more likely to reveal psychotic symptoms, as opposed to gardening or menial labor.

It does not surprise me that the gym teacher never went "insane". Exercise significantly reduces a person's risk to a whole host of disorders, schizophrenia included.

On the other hand, stress significantly increases a person's risk of developing disorders. Coupled with hereditary factors, it should be no surprise that the "3 brilliant students" (probably pushed incredibly hard by their father) developed psychotic disorders.

Question: if the three students had a good means of managing their stress, would they have still gone "insane"?

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

No answer to your question (none / 0) (#104)
by MickLinux on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 01:50:00 AM EST

There really is no answer to a "what if" question like yours -- but I tend to think that they would have had a better chance.

That management of stress, though, is exactly why I advocate removing one's self from the thing that makes you paranoid...  and getting some physical work in each day.

Just as we wash our hands each day, it also pays to use some basic psychological health management techniciques, especially if you are at risk.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Compassion can't go too far (3.00 / 4) (#58)
by edsousa on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 05:34:21 PM EST

I had a friend who later revealed to suffer from schizophrenia some time ago. From the moment I met him I knew he was not 'normal' but I always tried to be a bit tolerant and think amusing things like "come on, he's a computer programmer, those guys are all crazy". Given that I learnt to question normality and actually oppose the concept (I suffer from Asperger's Syndrome - a mild form of autism - myself), I never worried too much about my friends behaviour, since many of them are easily described as weird by most.

However, there was a time I became unable to proceed with our relationship. Although I didn't know of his schizophrenia at the time, he had attitudes that could easily be described as evil. Schizo or not-schizo, mutual respect ceased to exist and I actually stopped relating to that person. At the point I connected his behaviour with an increased consumption of hashish, which he smoked as if it was normal tobacco. Although I tend to think 'soft drugs' are not as bad as they say, they do mess with a person's chemical balance and if that person has some form of illness things can get tricky. And that's what I think that happened.

Which brings me to: Mental illness is indeed a nasty subject. There are many forms of illness, but I think no illness is excuse for performing evil acts on others. It annoys me that people can get away in court by invoking mental illness. To me someone who is able to kill or rape someone is obviously ill, should we start forgiving all those people?

There's illness which should be cured, or made easier in case there is no cure. And then there are evil actions, which should be punished.

I am the wierdest person I know. (1.80 / 10) (#66)
by gordonjcp on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 06:37:52 PM EST

I have no identifiable mental illness. No schizophrenia, no Asperger's Syndrome, no ADHD, nothing.

I have no mental illness and I feel good.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

Are you sure? (none / 0) (#71)
by Rk on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 08:07:01 PM EST

Disclaimer: IANA psychologist, psychiatrist or neurologist.

Most people with mental illnesses do not admit the fact that they have them. They would, if asked, probably deny they have any problem. To them, the delusions and hallucinations are _real_, they have no way of interpreting them as the symptoms of mental illness. That's what makes schizophrenia so dangerous.

Think of it like this: When you dream, the part of your brain responsible for logical reasoning (in the right lobe, I think) effectively shuts down, thus even though your dreams are utterly irrational and illogical, they don't seem so to you. (unless you have lucid dreams. My theory is that the right lobe 'wakes up' when you have a lucid dream)

OTOH, if you constantly have thoughts about your mental health and you seriously doubt your own sanity, you might be a hypochondriac, namely somebody who is obsessed with illnesses, both real and imagined, ironically itself a mental illess. Hypochondriasis is usually caused by an underlying disorder such as depression.

[ Parent ]

Yep, I'm pretty sure... (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by gordonjcp on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:23:57 PM EST

There aren't any black helicopters chasing me, alien Elvis impersonators don't live at the bottom of my wardrobe, <insert mental health stereotype here>.

Actually, now I come to say (type) this, should I be worried about my lack of paranoia, delusions, etc..? Maybe there *are* black helicopters after me and I'm deluding myself they're not? Bastard, I wish you hadn't mentioned it now...

Seriously, most of my friends claim to have *something* wrong with them. Dyslexia seems to be popular right now, as does depression or manic depression. I *really* *do* have dyscalculia, which is similar to dyslexia but with numbers. I work past it, and don't rant on about how much of a problem it causes me. It does cause me problems, now and again - I have to read numbers (particularly long strings of numbers like bank card numbers etc) very carefully - but I don't allow it to be a problem and its own excuse, if you see what I mean.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
Here's what you can do. . . (none / 0) (#74)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 09:27:41 PM EST

I am the wierdest person I know. I have no mental illness and I feel good.

Your aim then, should not be to degrade yourself for this fact. Not to call yourself wierd. Your aim should now be to follow a philosophy of Joy. Fill yourself up with joy; so much so that it overflows leaving no room for anything else. Float with it. Let it flow into the world and all around the people who move through your life. This may sound silly, and some readers may snicker to themselves, but the effects of this are quite real. You will have an amazing affect on everybody and everything around you. Sometimes a laugh is more useful than a hand on the shoulder. This is not boyscout, church-on-sunday rhetoric. This is tried and true.

And this is what you can do for the world, for the world has given you peace and strength of both spirit and mind.

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

*Reaches for Cluestick...* (none / 0) (#136)
by virg on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 03:04:33 PM EST

> Your aim then, should not be to degrade yourself for this fact.

Your aim, then, should be to get the joke.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Just remember... (none / 0) (#81)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:54:16 PM EST

"The sweet is never as sweet without the sour." - a bad movie

[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 0) (#82)
by auraslip on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 01:26:21 AM EST

but isn't this every Normal person?
Oh wait, you said you were happy.....
[ Parent ]
Hah. We got you covered too. (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by SanSeveroPrince on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 07:22:01 AM EST

<SARCASM>Don't worry, new age democracy has something for you too. If you think nothing is wrong with you, then you are obviously delusional, and you need to seek help. There.</SARCASM>


Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think

[ Parent ]
take it easy on yourself (5.00 / 8) (#67)
by pdoubleya on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 07:02:14 PM EST

I have two siblings who suffer from mental illness, and one parent who does. One sibling, a sister (now 40), suffers from schizophrenia, and has had it since I was 14, about 19 years ago now. The other two suffer from bipolar disorder (commonly called manic depression). My sister became ill when we had moved to a new town, and all my siblings, including her, had gone off to college or out of high school already. She was trying her second attempt at college when she had her breakdown, and came back, essentially, shattered. FWIW, two years later my parents divorced, and a few months after that, my mother had a breakdown and emerged bipolar. Both were in and out of clinics for years before they "stabilized". Anyway, I appreciate you sharing your article. This is really hard to go through. I mean, it shatters the life of the person with the symptoms, but it also shakes up everyone around them. I'd like to just add some comments that maybe will help you, maybe not, but just from my experience of around 20 years with this in my family. 1) I too was emotionally withdrawn in high school, and for many years; I'm more expressive now, but still retreat and become aloof when I'm not *very* comfortable with people. Unfortunately, that also meant that I didn't talk to almost _anyone_ about what was happening at home. I regret that now, because once I started talking about it in my mid-twenties, I learned that my thoughts about it were not uncommon, that I was normal, my fears and anger and such were common. So--I recommend finding a support group, or if you can swing it through school or otherwise, a therapist you can talk to. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has support groups around the country. You don't have to do anything but listen, or talk if you want to. Nice thing is, the other people there have been through it too. Where I live, I found a great group with very compassionate, intelligent people, run by the local county mental health system. Also--would like to add that it's good to find support from your friends, but in this case, even better to find support from *trained people who have experience and education in the matter. 2) Take time for yourself. I didn't realize back then just how enormously stressful it all was for me. Unfortunately, after I grew out of computer games, my next source of stress relief was drinking and getting high. I went from an A student to C-D student in about a year, basically was collapsing but no one could tell. Luckily, I lost my taste for hard liquor in high school (haha) and stopped drugs in college. Point being, I recommend finding healthy ways to release stress outside of the family environment, things you enjoy doing yourself, hanging out with friends, whatever. Just time for yourself. 3) There's more to say, but I will limit it to one more: my sister is better but not well. She can maintain the basics of her life but is emotionally and intellectually pretty limited, and suffers from obsessive thinking. Still, at 40. But she's *much better than the first few years, night and day difference. The "right" medication helps, but in my family, it took awhile (years) for the doctors to find that, which might be a combination of drugs. In the case of my mother and other sibling, they are essentially normal at this point, although they suffer from more depressive thinking than most people, have to watch their stress and emotional triggers, and take meds. But I can hang out with them and enjoy it greatly. My sister wears me out but I love her and am glad that she's not suffering as much as when she was 21 and really really ill. Thank you for writing about your family and I wish you the best best best of luck. It's a tough situation, take it slow. Good luck pw

A few words. . . (3.50 / 10) (#75)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 10:38:30 PM EST

on schizophrenia from a spiritualist's viewpoint. . .

For one thing, the undertaking of the sufferer to BE a sufferer is a heavy one, decided before incarnation, for the common benefit of those traveling this life along side them who came to learn the lessons which arise from such an arrangement

One of the things I noted throughout this long thread of posts, is that a common factor involved with many such cases is that people, (brothers, sisters, friends, etc.), around a schizophrenic sufferer expressed difficulty in letting others know how they were feeling regarding the situations they were living in. Indeed, the fact that these people were able to now write about this situation, have been forced to deal with their emotions and learn how to express them in useful ways, I think, suggests something powerful. A difficult wall finally broken and a lesson well learned which perhaps required exactly something as powerful as a sick family member in order to teach.

As to those who wax argumentative regarding the responsibility of a parent figure; whether running away is right or wrong, I would suggest the following. . .

Describe. Do not Judge.

While similar, Every one of these situations is different, as each individual involved in each situation is different; we are all here to learn differing lessons; no two to be repeated in exactly the same way. As such, the answer chosen for one may not only not be the most appropriate answer for another, but would in fact be redundant. Allow each person around you to explore and make their choices, for even choices which result in pain and suffering are a benefit in the long run; they teach all exposed how and why to behave with both grace and power, to move through the world without needing to suffer. And, believe it or not, preventing people from doing what they came here to do is very difficult! Tell somebody not to make a series of decisions they naturally gravitate towards, and you will notice that they will give resistance and while they may follow your directives for a while, will in all likely hood end up making those choices eventually anyway. The path to the destination has only been made longer and rockier for your trouble, the lesson and the growth delayed.

Above all, be grateful to those who bring upon themselves such misery for our collective learning. They are perhaps your truest friends, for who better to teach such difficult and penetrating lessons but those dearest and most trusted? Love them, and know that you/they will forgive all the actions we perform in this latest act of the play when we sit in the wings afterwards and laugh and groan at our antics. No need to worry so much. Karma takes care of the balacing of accounts.

-Fantastic Lad

_Surviving Schizophrenia_ book recommendation (4.33 / 3) (#76)
by texchanchan on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 10:43:48 PM EST

This book, Surviving Schizophrenia, by E. Fuller Torrey, describes the condition and the problems it causes for sufferers and their families with compassion and insight. Torrey cares deeply about people who are afflicted with this disorder (and their families). Also, the book is well-written and passionate.

At the Amazon site, read what family members of people with schizophrenia say about this book. Their recommendation is the one that counts.

Another post implies that he writes for self-aggrandizement. All I can say is this is the most informative book on the subject I've seen. Dr. Torrey has a sibling with schizophrenia if I remember right, and knows what he's talking about from the family point of view as well as the medical.

symptoms (3.33 / 6) (#87)
by d s oliver h on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 09:14:33 AM EST

the situation you describe is an unhappy one and your story is very moving, but i am interested to know the extent of your brother's symptoms when he was placed on medication. is it enough simply to say "my teachers are conspiring against me" to qualify for being placed on medication? defining somebody as being mentally ill is based on the relative values and ideas of the society of course, if your ideas conflict with the accepted interpretation then everyone says "you're mad" and you are locked up or treated for your beliefs. we seem to treat the delusions of a mad person as being something bad and wrong. i feel reasonably strongly about this as i went through a psychotic episode where i held various delusions, and i was incarcerated for, for example, believing i could travel through time. but is the stated belief that you can travel through time justification for banging you up and injecting you with various chemicals? i am sure the behaviour of schizophrenics is unacceptable to society at large, i have met lots of antisocial schizophrenics, but why is it we want to modify their behaviour? because we can't cope with them when they behave in this irresponsible fashion? the medication may normalise the person's behaviour, return them to reasonableness, and sensibleness, but is it right to do this? to force them to behave like everyone else? maybe the madman who says "some people are reading my mind" has stumbled on to something. i don't wish to make insensitive comments, i cannot of course comment on your brother's treatment as i know very little about what happened or the circumstances, except that his behaviour caused a lot of unhappiness for all of you, and i cannot say what was best for your family, but i personally am dissatisfied with the way i was forcibly disabused of my "delusions", as they seemed to me very profound, and i did not behave in an antisocial manner whilst under them. i would compare them to any other spiritual belief system.

Alternative view (3.00 / 5) (#88)
by Talan on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 09:55:57 AM EST

I'm sorry for the emotional stress you're suffering and I think the only reason is the reaction of your mother, not so much your brother. I'm not saying that the reaction of your mother is not understandable or justified, it might very well be.

An alternative view:

Maybe back then your brother wasn't mentally ill. As you described he felt awkward about school. I believe it was a mistake back then to take him to a doctor instead of taking his reactions per se seriously. Maybe he was mobbed or felt that he was too much of an outsider and not able to cope with it? Humans in mental stress have the potential to behave and feel in strange ways, especially if such basic factors like proper nutrition aren't present, which lay the foundation for physiological well-being and thus mental well-being.

It's not uncommon in US-American culture today to put kids on drugs where an indication is very doubtful or only pseudo-scientific: E.g. all those supposedly "hyper-active" kids treated with psycho-drugs.

Once your brother was on a psycho-drug his natural brain biochemistry was disturbed. This way a real problem was created in the first place. Esp. because there was no stability, instead an up and down, as he interrupted his medication (from his position the right reaction) and started it again and again. This way his biochemistry never could find a natural and healthy balance, always being shifted one way by the drugs and back the other way, as he did not take them shortly.

Not taking into account the overall effect of the drug(s) or side-effects.

After so many years and now being fat things seem too late. Maybe this is the underlying reason your mother tries to escape.

If your brother is now obsessed about his weight, he might be right about this. I'd guess he is just missing the proper tools and ressources to master this.

The messing with his biochemistry is the sad part, if this is reversible I can't say.

Maybe it is all about social pressure - keeping up an image - and low overall basic knowledge or the lack of ressources to apply it at the same time.

(Disclaimer: Should my post not fit to your reality - I am sorry - please just forget it then - but this is the risk when posting private issues in public - they mostly only can be handled privately by the respective person the right way I guess)

Please offer support for your claims. (5.00 / 2) (#94)
by anakata on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 04:49:33 PM EST

If you are going to make statements like that, PLEASE provide solid references. To me it honestly seems like you have no idea whatsoever about the subject. There's NO documentation supporting your claim that anti-psychotics may CAUSE psychosis. However, there is excellent support for the importance of early treatment, which your 'advice' can delay. A quote from one of the many papers supporting this: "The improved tolerability associated with the newer antipsychotic medications, including a lower risk for motor side effects and possible lower risk for development of tardive dyskinesia, has swung the risk-benefit balance in favor of early and aggressive treatment. By intervening early and providing long-term maintenance treatment, the course of schizophrenic illness may be altered in the coming years with overall decreased deterioration and chronicity and overall improved functioning resulting in lower societal costs." [DeQuardo JR. (2000) Pharmacologic treatment of first-episode schizophrenia: early intervention is key to outcome. J Clin Psychiatry 59 Suppl 19:9-17]
Cogito, ergo infestus sum.
[ Parent ]
Evaluations (4.00 / 4) (#98)
by Talan on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 07:47:57 PM EST

There's NO documentation supporting your claim that anti-psychotics may CAUSE psychosis.

I'd say it is self-evident that they affect people in unnatural ways. If these drugs would not cause shifts in moods and brain biochemistry why would they be taken?

Also, it doesn't seem appropriate to assume that drugs could fairly well complement the deficiencies of mentally ill people (if they are ill at all), because no drug is so advanced and can be dosed so perfectly to match the extreme complexity and widely unknown interrelations of brain chemistry, which in their many parameters aren't understood well enough (thus it always has to be some type of rough interference).

However, there is excellent support for the importance of early treatment, which your 'advice' can delay.

Excuse me, I just mentioned one opinion. And I take the chance to mention another one:

It seems inappropriate to urge towards an early treatment. How the heck can be judged if a young child is mentally healthy or not??! (children/youth are supposed to try a lot - 'good and bad', have different varying periods of development)

My 'advise' pointed towards healthy nutrition and other factors which determine the health and mood of people, esp. growing up children/youth.

For example: Just keeping blood sugar levels on a constant level would virtually guarantee happiness instead of depression for many people. But most schools in the US are FAST FOOD outlets where sugar-ladden soft-drinks are consumed.

Such scientific journals in theory allow people deep in the subject to discuss on specific levels. We are discussing here on a broad level.

One final thought:

What if depression, insecurity or other strange behaviour-types have their purpose and reason?

Would it then make sense to shift the perception of the individual without being aware of the outside world reason for the mood?

[ Parent ]

Regarding documentation (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by Alfie on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 02:02:35 PM EST

There's NO documentation supporting your claim that anti-psychotics may CAUSE psychosis.

I have not been able to locate definitive proof on the web regarding neuroleptic-induced tardive psychosis. However, I did find a reference to a study which appears to confirm the possibility of tardive psychosis at the Queen Street Outreach Society. Their site is biased in favor of those who feel psychiatry is harmful. However, the reference listed on their Drug Myths page seems geniune. I would appreciate if someone with access to the medical journals would confirm the following:

9. The longer on drugs, the greater the health risk, the lower the life expectancy. Withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations, depression and Tardive Psychosis often look like a "relapse" to doctors and family.

— G. Chouinard & B. Jones, "Neuroleptic-induced supersensitivity psychosis: Clinical and pharmacologic characteristics." American Journal of Psychiatry (1980, pp. 137, 16-21);

I have posted a diary entry here regarding some of the known adverse effects of neuroleptics. The authors suggest that neuroleptic-induced psychosis might be frequently mistaken for the relapse of symtoms the drug was intended to treat.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm. (5.00 / 2) (#107)
by dipipanone on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 03:27:48 AM EST

Let me take a wild stab in the dark here. You've never actually had any real contact with anyone suffering from a real psychiatric illness, have you?

When I was younger, I was very enamoured of the anti-psychiatry theorists as well. I read a lot of Foucault, Laing and Szasz, and thought what they said made a lot of sense.

And then someone I cared deeply for got ill, and I was grateful for the anti-psychotics, because they were the only goddamned thing that brought that person any fucking relief at all.

When the choice is between being possessed by demons, living every moment in abject terror and being locked away for the safety of yourself and your loved ones, or the anti-psychotic medication, the risk of a little tardive dyskenesia doesn't seem like such a bad deal after all.

Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]
It was too dark ;-) (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by Talan on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 06:59:30 AM EST

Let me take a wild stab in the dark here. You've never actually had any real contact with anyone suffering from a real psychiatric illness, have you?

Well, surprisingly I have. I was for one year in an old-age home. My parents have their strange sides ;-) And even I myself have done things and behaved in ways that would classify me as a psychotic (but only about 3 times in my life! ;-)

I believe it is human nature to go to extremes (involuntarily). Mostly it bounces back again. But if the strain is too big the character might change. I even believe that this is the better solution, because the human acts in the way best suited for him/her. E.g. don't people who became 'daydreamers', who are incredible kind and communicative, but at the same time totally lost track of reality have a distinct quality? Whatever triggered their loss of sense of reality did not change their human quality - quite the contrary! And if you know such persons you will confirm that within their frames they are totally complete beings. I suppose it is simply a normal trade-off. I wouldn't really consider such people as mentioned with this example as psychotic, to me they still seem totally human.

Further, I don't believe anyone can really make a distinction what is psychotic and not. Simply because the world itself is crazy! Therefore it is ridiculous to divide humans into psychotic/non-psychotic.

When the choice is between being possessed by demons, living every moment in abject terror and being locked away for the safety of yourself and your loved ones, or the anti-psychotic medication, the risk of a little tardive dyskenesia doesn't seem like such a bad deal after all.


[ Parent ]

Psychosis is more than acting strange (5.00 / 4) (#117)
by straif on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 11:22:45 AM EST

You don't say to what degree your contact was, or the nature of the illnesses you encountered, but I wonder if you have had contact with someone who was at that time extremely psychotic, manic, or depressed.

I have.

Psychosis is more than acting strange. It is more than feeling disliked. It is more than feeling like you are being followed.

Stating that the world is crazy and therefore you cannot distinguish pyschotic from non-psychotic suggests that you really don't understand what the term means.

This is an overly simplistic description, but schiztophrenia is an illness or cluster of illnesses that have psychosis as their primary symptom.

Psychosis is a symptom that may be caused by a number of mental illnesses, drugs (or other chemical reactions), other illnesses, or for no identifiable reason.

Most people can list the symptoms of psychosis: paranoia, delusions, hearing voices, etc. But I don't think most people can fully appreciate what they feel like or what they do to the person experiencing it.

I have had the "opportunity" on four separate occasions to have extended and close contact with people going through the worst of psychosis, depression, and mania. In fact, I was one of those people.

You say that on three occasions you would have been considered psychotic. Really? In the clinical sense? Have you been unable to read a newspaper because of the overwhelming feeling that the articles were about you? Have you ever been so consumed by delusions that you are unable to relate to other people on the rare occasions when you even know they are there? Have you ever heard voices...not just the idea of voices, but actually hear them?

If you have, then I apologize and offer my sympathy.

I haven't experienced these myself, but I've seen what they do to people. Nice people. People who are suffering, not just inconvenienced. These people will most likely suffer this for the rest of their lives.

Would you say these individuals are no more psychotic than anyone else, just because the world is "crazy"?

You've just pushed one of my buttons. The diseases are real. The suffering is real. People are generally not diagnosed with a mental illness just because they are difficult for mommy and daddy to handle, or because they are misfits and eccentrics.

"I wouldn't really consider such people as mentioned with this example as psychotic, to me they still seem totally human." WTF? How does having an illness make someone non-human?

I'm not schiztophrenic. I have Bipolar I (aka manic-depression). I have felt relentless pain unlike any other illness or injury I've had. I have felt elation and energy stronger than I can describe. Fortunately, the mania doesn't last long enough for me to do to much damage. Unfortunately, I usually want to die a few weeks later. Not "I'm so embarassed, I could just die", but the real thing.

Mania can be dangerous. Fortuatly, I tend to know what is going on, and am able to be a little more cautious. Many people when manic spend more than they have, drive faster than they can react, go days without sleeping, have affairs, do stupid things impulsively (quit a job they love with the idea of making millions writing poetry). Manics sometimes die from physical exhaustion.

The worst though, is when the two are combined in what they call a mixed-episode. It is a mix of depression with the energy (mostly the mental energy) of mania. Imagine for weeks at a time when you are unable to think. Your head is so full of thoughts, all colliding with each other, that you cannot truely think of anything. It is confusion, it is frustration, it is wanting to scream and hit your head against something hard. You are unable to read, or even watch TV. It is like being in a room full of people talking, but not being able to tune them out. Thousands of topics, thousands of voices, all competing, none making any sense. And no way to just ignore them. This is combined with a murky black mood...not a pensive, rainy day sadness, but simmering darkness.

More and more, the pure, wonderful (for the moment) mania is becoming rarer, while the mixed episodes are more common.

I take two mood stabilizers and an anti-pschotic. I will, most likely, be on medication for the rest of my life. Even then, it doesn't always work. I am resigned to the knowledge that I will sometimes be ill regardless of what I do. All I can do is try to minimize the frequency, duration, and extent.

I have been hospitalized four times. I'm sure that someday there will be more.

I have a chronic, incurable disease. I will have some bad times, I accept that. I also try to appreciate the good times. That is all I can do.

If you don't want to divide people into groups that you consider arbitrary (psychotic or not), then why don't you think of it as deeply suffering or not.

[ Parent ]

Is psychosis reserved just for psychotics? (none / 0) (#134)
by Talan on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 10:44:12 AM EST

Just one word...

I am careful not to interfere or evaluate over your personal issues you mentioned here, because I am truly not in a position to do it.

Therefore I just throw in one thought:

I noticed with myself that in the very same situation (as similar as two situations can be) I can equally feel so enthusiastic/happy, that I am almost blocked, while I also can feel extremely depressed. Contrary extremes, while nothing has really changed besides

a) my thoughts

b) my physiological state (e.g. done aerobic sports, had a good breakfast)

Therefore I believe both is possible and maybe it is to a large degree just habit whether noticed as one or not.

[ Parent ]

There really seems to be a conspiracy (2.33 / 6) (#89)
by k31 on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 01:09:52 PM EST

This is difficult for me to phrase, but perhaps the reason why so many people think that everyone is out to get them is because they actually are, in a sense.

Most people learn to cope with school, work, society, and so on... or do they? I don't really think they do. What happens is that they trade their ambition for mediocracy, and become part of the problem rather than trying to make a positive change.

Very old books, such as "The Magic of Thinking Big" and "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living", and more recent books, such as "Calm for Life", describe a path for an individual to regain their ambition, keep control of their minds, and move forwards in soceity, in both business and personal spheres. All of them agree that the problems of stress and underacheivement (and stress caused by underacheivement) are woefully under-addressed.

Nowadays, "stress" is a common word, but few people stop to think that the whole system, from home to school to work, is set up to dehumanise all individuals, and make them into tools to be used by companies.

For evidence, examine the articles on K5 within the last year on subjects such as home schooling, the schooling system in singapore and how it destroys people, the attempts by companies to make every computer user no more than a "content" consumer (where content is some form of multimedia), saving money and investment as opposed to living for a job, and you will see that they are all methods of positively addressing the dangerous position that individuals are now in.

I was convinced that there was a reason that 99.99% of what people told me was a lie, so I kept looking for it... and by understanding and adapting to human nature, I have little trouble getting jobs and proving that I can do good work. Worries such as weight and lovers don't bother me as much as they seem to everyone else. This isn't by accident, though... I make it a study, like how Physics was in school.

Not everyone has the luxury of researching life. Most people want to live it, instead... and could not, given their environment, ever discover the truth about anything. Or even an effective lie. Or even how to cope with school. This is probally what happened to the older brother in this story.

It is probally what happens to a lot of people.

It is probally why 10% of the people who are told "you are skitso" rather than "the world you live in wants you to be enslaved to business entities".

Once you realise that, you can deal with it... either by living on a beach somewhere, or by becoming a business entity yourself, or by trying more direct to change the environment (which still requires you to become business-like, in order to get things done).

The business system (it is not simply capitalist, it is much more far-reaching and would be present in all sorts of societies) is a good one, but it only works if the majority is business-like. People who have no direction, and who are told that they are the problem and need to be fixed, would never survive.

The situation is what it is, but without seeing it, you would go insane. Even if you see it, you still need to realise that you can make a difference, in the long run. Slaves don't have to go mad... they can become slave-drivers (incompetent middle managers) or masters (high-level management) or masterminds (gurus).

Learn life as much as possible, because business entities are not going to change unless better business entities change them from within.

Chemical imbalance or not, any pattern of thought will make your mentally incompetent (sick) if they don't allow you to interact well socially. Be a producer, a businessman, and not a victim.

Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....

Man, it is hard... (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by Ressev on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 01:40:23 PM EST

My wife has a blend of schizophrenia and mania called schizo-efective. It is not like full blown schizophrenia, but it is pretty bad when she gets it. It took her 5 episodes before she realized she had to stay on the medication for life.

Her brother was hit by it a couple of years ago and has yet to come to the conclusion that the medicine is good ("hey, it's a conspiracy and the FBI are after me"). It is very hard since each episode will get worse than the last. The best hope for a person suffering schizophrenia is for it to be diagnosed early and treated immediately.

I am sorry your mom took off. It is very hard when parents leave in difficult times.

Schizoaffective Disorder (5.00 / 5) (#91)
by jjayson on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 02:54:09 PM EST

If you wife's symptoms are not under control, you might wish to see another psychiatrists for a second opinion. I am not a doctor, nor am I studying to be a doctor. I am just a bipolar patient that has also had family experience with schizophrenia and has worked at NAMI and read a good deal in the area.

Many think that schizoaffective disorder is not a seperate illness. In older version of DSM, the diagnostic category of schizoaffective disorder was included without any defining symptoms listed.

One theory is that those with schizoaffective disorder may have a very sever case of bipolar that is difficult to treat. Patients can have hallucinations and be delusional when they are extremely manic or extremely depressed. The prominent characteristic of schizo patients' delusions is that they are paranoid and seemingly unrelated to the person's mood state. However, sometimes after speaking to patients you can discern the mood component of these delusions, maybe some ideas of shame or superiority surface.

Another explanation is that those with schizoaffective disorder is that they have both schizophrenia and bipolar. Statistically it is bound to happen. If you broaden bipolar to include bipolar-II and cyclothymia it might turn out to not be so uncommon, relatively speaking. If you also look at what treatments are effective for most schizoaffective disorder patients, this becomes ever more compelling: most patients are most effectively treated by meds for bipolar and schizophrenia. There is no seperate treatment for schizoaffective at the time.

I don't say this as a critique of your wife' psychiatrist or her condition (by implying that it doesn't exist). If she is doing fine, then stay with whatever works. Just, if she is still having problems with her illness it may be helpful to find a psychiatrist that will see her problem from another viewpoint.

"Even I can do poler co-ordinates and i can't even spell my own name." - nodsmasher
You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't
[ Parent ]

Trust me... (none / 0) (#103)
by Ressev on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 01:34:23 AM EST

It is permanent and real.

We tried the no medication, thinking that it was related to changing hormones from puberty... nope. Also, the symptoms fit schizoaffective better than anything else: Mania; delusions; paranoia.

The last two episodes have only coincided with pregnancy (yeah, I know... it's taken care of). Between being off her medication and the hormone imbalance, she loses it. The last time was not quite as bad simply because she was taking some medication during pregnancy (low risk medication) and boosted her after she gave birth. It was still unpleasant and I was glad to have a lot of vacation time saved up.
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain
[ Parent ]

You missed my point (none / 0) (#105)
by jjayson on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 01:56:41 AM EST

I never said, and I never would say, for anybody to go off their medications. I have been around schizo and bipolar patients (and I myself suffer from bipolar-I).

The point was that if she wasn't getting the results she wanted, she might want to find a psychiatrists that will treat her from a different angle. The medications she is on are probably a mix of anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, and anti-depressants that are effective at treating both schizophrenia and bipolar, since currently there is no such thing as medications for schizoaffective disorder. The symptoms you describe can be attributed to either severe bipolar or schizophrenia and bipolar, so far nothing unique has been found in schizoaffective patients.

It may not even be a seperate illness, but could be a severe, difficult to treat form of bipolar or a combination of schizophrenia and some form (including the soft forms) of bipolar disorder. Having a psychiatrists that is willing to treat it from this angle could bring about better results.

However, if the two of you are happy with her progress, then by all means, please continue with whatever works, since finding the right drugs mix is often a difficult process and find a good psych can be equally as difficult.

I hope everything goes well for the two of you and you have my best wishes.

"Even I can do poler co-ordinates and i can't even spell my own name." - nodsmasher
You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't
[ Parent ]

Sorry (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by Ressev on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 03:41:16 PM EST

Thanks, I understand you point about the disorder: the confusion about whether it is distinct or just a variation of is pretty much undecided in the medical community.

Her current doctor does know what he is doing. It was the 4 previous ones who came and went as medical coverage changed or they changed groups that were bothersome.

Good luck and God bless to you too.
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain
[ Parent ]

my roommate.. (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by minus273 on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 07:37:12 PM EST

last semester of college was a very strabge individual.. he started off as one of my best friends.. then gradually over the course of the year began to ramble, rock in corners and think that i was out to get him.
over the course of the semester, he lost all of his other friends (my friedns as well). i was the only person who still didnt dread his presence and he still thought i was trying to mess him up.
Things really got strange when he told me that there were no suchthings as countries ans it was all a conspiracy of cartographers. He even began to get violent when it looked like i didnt believe him. Going to the extent of saying that i am responsible for his grades ( which were not bad but generally lower than mine).
Things really broke down when he began to talk to people that were not there and talk about "sarah" who was one of his ghost friends. He thought he was psychic and predicted the future. He even tried to predict the weather .. not much luck there.
eventually i couldnt take it anymore and moved out of the room. I dont hold it against the kid, i honestly think that he had issues he couldnt deal with on his own, but it wasnt my responsibility nor my problem.
the sad part about this was that he could at times keep things straight enough to get a job... he is american chinese but hates the american government ( more conspiracies) enough to be happy on 9/11 (even though he was from NYC and his family was there).. today he is in Pennsylvania interning for lockheed martin. God knows what he's going to do there...
in a CS major and IANA expert on anything realted to this stuff cant say what was wrong -- or even that there was anything wrong-- with the kid .. its really a pity though/

I sympathise... (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by vyruss on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 08:16:04 PM EST

My grandmother used to suffer from heavy depression, shock therapy and medication has made her life normal again. My mother (her daughter) also had light depression a few years back, took some pills but now she's gotten over it (are you beginning to see a pattern here?). I, too, sometimes feel extremely sad, stressed and desperate about everything and even drank like an alcoholic while studying away from home for nearly a whole year. While I still have addictions (heavy smoker and heavy coffee drinker), that's all in the past now fortunately. So I just want to tell you, that these people are your family. You have to understand them and accept them the way they are, but also do everything you can to help the situation. Don't stay silent.
Thanks for being so brave as to share your feelings with us. Hang in there my friend. A way will be found and things will get better.
-- Jimmy

  • PRINT CHR$(147)

Strength from Knowledge (4.00 / 2) (#100)
by LittleStar on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 08:38:19 PM EST

My heart goes out to you. Loving somebody with a mental illness is a very hard thing to do. Living with somebody with a mental illness is even harder.

Don't hate yourself for not being able to fix it.

Don't kick yourself for not saying the right things to your mom.

You are dealing with things as best as you can; and so is your mother. You seem very level headed and obviously know about your brother's disease. The best you can do is keep informed, do your best to be a steady arm for your brother and live your life. It is also important for you to talk to somebody. Do not try to build a little house around one part of your life, you will only end up hurting yourself in the end.

Anyway, I didn't mean to wax on so, but I am concerned that you let someone take some weight off of your shoulders. Nothing feels like someone being able to empathise. I hope you feel the vibe.

Most sincerely,

Twinkle. Twinkle. Twinkle.
Underestimating the Dangers (4.70 / 10) (#101)
by Celestial on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 09:03:02 PM EST

This is extremely hard for me to write. When I first saw this story posted I could not bring myself even to read it, the timing is too close to too recent pain and loss. I have, or rather, had a very close and very dear friend, for my purposes here lets call him Zero (it was his favorite handle) He had a very good friend who we will call John. About a year ago John got diagnosed with one of the very rare, and very serious forms of schizophrenia. However, other than his disease he was a very nice guy and generally easy going. While to me he was only a friend of a friend, in the time that I knew him it was obvious to me that he was very sensitive and caring person. I was very sad to hear about his diagnosis. I understood that he had a very hard home life, though until recently I had no idea how bad it was. Zero and him were very close friends, though recently some distance had grown in their friendship, and it was very clear that Zero was quite concerned for his friend. Fairly recently John was committed to a psychiatric hospital, though there is still some debate among friends as to whether or not it was voluntary or not. What is clear is that he was released, and nobody was making sure that he was taking his medication. Since diagnosis John's father refused to believe that his son had a serious problem and insisted that John was simply "acting out" and enchoraged his son not to take his medication. John's father did not like Zero and tended to call him "evil." I have no idea why, as Zero is well known and well loved. Anyway, after leaving the hospital John got it into his head to talk to a priest. Many details here are cloudy, but the priest told John that he was, in fact, not insane and that he was instead possesed by demons. What else was said is not really known either, but what is blindingly clear is that after this discussion John was converted and completely convinced that it was his destiny to kill satan. He also believed that Zero was satan. About 3 weeks ago John killed Zero, being convinced that this was his destiny, and that his long time friend, who would have done anything all for him, was the devil. Zero was found in his apartment, cause of death was strangulation, but he had 14 stab wounds in his back, the apartment was covered in blood. With psychiatrists and doctors over-prescribing ridalin, and diagnosing everyone and their brother with depression many people have begun to disbelieve the reality of true insanity. Schizophrenia is very real, and extraordinarily dangerous. Most people are grieviously undereducated about the reality of mental illness and the inclination is to minimalize. The problem with schizophrenia is that for the sufferer, their delusions are just as real as everything else, and they have very little or no ability to discern between the imagined and the real, and the form of thier delustions take can be unpredictable. John beleived that he was ill, atleast at first, but with the constant insistance of his father that he was not, and the priest unknowingly confirming his delustions he was no longer in doubt, and acted on his delusions. I have lost a very dear friend, in the worst imaginable way. I cannot stop from imagining how his last minutes must have been, how much worse it was, coming from a good friend. And yet, I cannot be angry at John, knowing that at the time, he thought he was doing the right thing. So the point of all of this, DO NOT underestimate the dangers of schizophrenia, do not minimalize it, and when talking to somebody with this disorder, be aware that their reality is somewhat different than yours and you do not know what theirs is like. Medication is the only way we have of controlling it, and when used properly it seems to be able to control the condition very well. The main problem is that people with schizophrenia very rarely believe that there is anything wrong with them in the first place, they need constant grounding in reality and constant pressure to take their medication. Sorry this has been so long

My sympathy and thanks... (none / 0) (#108)
by Artifice on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 03:35:01 AM EST

Sympathy on the loss of your friend. I can't imagine such a situation. Thanks for posting about it here -- it makes it clear just how serious an issue schizophrenia can be, not just for the schizophrenic, but for the people around him.

[ Parent ]
the priest and father must be prosecuted ... (none / 0) (#138)
by bani on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 04:55:44 PM EST

... as a warning to others who would try to self-diagnose illnesses we cannot let idiots like that go unchecked in society

[ Parent ]
never going to happen (none / 0) (#145)
by Celestial on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 02:29:02 AM EST

The problem is that people have a tendancy to underestimate mental illness, and worse, some people refuse to admit the reality of what it and try to force it into thier limited views of the world.

A priest who says to a sick person that he is not sick and is simply possesed is ignorant, but I do not believe he any but good intentions.  Good intentions really do pave the road to hell.  Anyway, my point is, that this would not be an issue if people were better educated about mental illness and were ready to accept it for what it is.

I hate to bring the Andrea Yates case up, but that case really put this issue into stark relief.  The discussions in the media concerning the case, and the general reaction of people was indicative of the fact that people really do no understand or really even attempt to understand mental illness.  The weird thing is that people would rather believe that the person was sane when they did something horrible like drown all of their children or kill thier best friend.  People look for motives like money or girls or whatever because for some reason those reasons are easier for people to deal with.  

Anyway, the best thing that anyone can do who is faced with mental illness whether it be themselves or someone they know, You Must learn everything you can about the issue, and act accordingly.

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#148)
by Alfie on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 05:10:40 AM EST

In this case, the priest may not be the only authority figure who abused his control over Andrea Yates. Insight Magazine has an article by Kelly Patricia O'Meara which reveals other factors which may have contributed to her abnormal behavior:

For example, Yates' psychiatrist, Muhammad Saaed, reportedly prescribed at least one mind-altering drug (Effexor) at almost twice the maximum recommended dose as part of a cocktail of mind-altering drugs that also included Haldol and Wellbutrin during her first bout with severe depression. A cautionary note in the Physicians Desk Reference says Effexor negatively interacts with Haldol. Apparently, Effexor hinders Haldol's drug clearance by a factor of more than 40 percent and can cause Haldol concentration levels to increase by nearly 90 percent, creating toxicity.

Also, apparently her dosage of Effexor was almost halved just days before the killings, and a new drug, Remeron, was added to the mix.

I was committed without being asked so that doctors could experiment upon me. This included the doctor taking me into his office and shutting the door so he could repeatedly ask me to take naltrexone, even though I kept saying "no". Eventually, I gave in, never intending to take the drug. I told the nurse at the drug station what happened, but she didn't do anything. So, I popped the pill in my mouth, walked to my room, and dropped it into the garbage bin. Unfortunately, the pill didn't have a coating. I should have known better, but hindsight is always 20/20. So some of the naltrexone disolved in my mouth, and that night I had an episode where I kept asking, "Where is the doctor?" becuase the whole time I was at the hospital I had hardly met the doctor at all, and I had a lot of questions to ask him, mainly of the kind "Why am I here?" and "What are you trying to do?". I guess keeping the patient informed would ruin the experimental data. Another question I kept asking the nurse who come to my room to watch me during my episode was, "Why can't I think?". Poor guy. I feel sorry for the nurses (is it okay to call the males nurses too? I dunno.) They were all wonderful. In fact, the hospital environment was wonderful, except for the doctor and his drugs. Bleh.

I was talking to my friend about this. I told her nobody will believe me if I try to tell them what happened. She told me to tell my story anyways. Some of the most embarrassing moments of my life occurred in that hospital. For instance, one day we went on an outting. We took a walk to the nearby Cincinnati Zoo. I thought it was great. Wow, maybe the hospital isn't so bad, right? (This was before the drug incident). I was annoyed at the way I had been brought there: basically my mom told me they wanted to run a few tests at the hospital (I had been complaining of headaches) and along the drive to the hospital she stopped to buy supplies, which I thought was odd. Well, anyways. Turns out I had been committed. I guess I wasn't totally surprised since I had missed two weeks of school. None of them understood why. Back to my story, though. So we were visiting the zoo, and the nurse brought the group into an enclosure where two monkeys were having sex, and she asked me in the voice people use when talking to retarded or very drunk people, "What are they doing?". Ugh. I think my world collapsed right there. Here I thought I was a normal teenager facing some unusual problems which, like a lot of other male teenagers I didn't tell anyone about, and now I find myself talking to some 40 year old nurse who is attempting to ascertain whether I know what sex is. I swear, psychiatric institutionalization is like rape. You lose control of your body and your immediate environment to people who want to disempower you and use you for their own purposes, regardless of whether it coincides with your wishes.

Blah. Sorry my writing is disorganized, but I cannot type this out with perfect Strunk and White grammar in proper essai form.

Regarding religion. I went to a Jesuit school. I think it was Dostoevsky who once joked about Jesuits essentially being atheists, and that has a ring of truth. My ethics and morality classes had a great deal of useful and philosophical teachings, and none of the handwaving most people might associate with religion. I have pretty much been an atheist my whole life, and I was an agnostic before that. Anyways, my experience is that religion can be very insightful, and in a world which inevitably overwhelms us at times, I can see how some people find religion useful. It is not the path I have chosen, but I understand. In many ways, the fantasies we read about in sci-fi books, the roleplaying games we play, et al. are all like little religions.

I guess I wish the media had some balls, if you'll pardon my colloquialism. I know they know what is going on in psychiatry, yet they very rarely do more than hint, if even that. I want to see them take a stand and speak out. People deserve to know what is going on.

And no, I'm not completely against psychoactive drugs. Heck, I'm here typing this while drinking Pepsi, and earlier I had coffee. However, I have been convinced through personal experience and the writings of others, mostly Peter Breggin, that the way psychiatric drugs are used is more for social control and behavior modification rather than any sort of cure. And what that amounts to is the doctors playing god, just like the priest in your post.

When will humanity learn? Probably never. I kid myself thinking anything I write will possibly make a difference. But one has to try.

[ Parent ]
your mostly right (none / 0) (#150)
by Celestial on Fri Jul 19, 2002 at 11:00:24 PM EST

From what I've observed, the menatal health system works about like the child protective services, which is to say, they don't act when they should, usually act when they shouldn't, and in the end make everything much worse than it was in the first place.

However, in certain cases they do know what they are about.  The drugs used to control things as severe as schizophrenia do work, when taken properly.  But because of the nature of the disease it is nearly impossible to convince a person they are even sick in the first place, and exceptionally difficult to be sure the person will continue taking the pills without having someone available to force feed the pills.  

there are no answers, mouths dry with the taste of ash, the grave has been dug and filled and lies without marker, an answerless question.  The flowers fade, after tearless nights staring at the un-knowable night.  I miss my friend.

[ Parent ]

should have started with this (4.00 / 2) (#102)
by Celestial on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 09:23:19 PM EST

Should have started my earlier post with this

You have my heart felt sympathy, both for your ongoing struggle in learning how to live with your brother, for the pain you share with your mother, and for the pain from her leaving.

Don't beat yourself up too much for not being able to communicate with your mother, learning to bridge that gap is difficult at best.  In time you will learn to communicate with your parents in emmotional terms, but most people are unable to until they've been out of the house for a couple of years, the distance and independance are essential for negotiating healthy friendship with parents.

Empathy is the one thing I can truly offer (5.00 / 4) (#106)
by kerinsky on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 02:51:49 AM EST

I really don't know what to say, or what advice to give. I'm not going to tell you that it's all going to be ok, because I don't know that it is. I will tell you that it's not your fault, but I'm certain that's not going to really help anything. My family has continually had to deal with my mother's mental illness. I've heard a dozen different diagnoses and they seem to change every year, but she is manic depressive, she does have hallucinations and she does mutilate herself and threaten suicide. She's spent the equivalent of more than three years in mental institutions during my life (I'm 21) and has been Baker acted several times. I've seen her point a loaded revolver at my father, and taken to the hospital in handcuffs by Sheriffs. Much of this before I even got to high school. I can and do empathize in a way that can only come from dealing with the mental illness of a dearly loved one and myself as well.

I've heard, and given, just about every single pat and easy piece of advice that there is. Almost none of it helped me at any level. But I'll try anyway.

I can tell you that it is almost certain that you are your own harshest critic. Just look around you. Your brother seems to be his harshest critic, and I'm guessing that your Mother is tearing herself up over her descision tonight. If you ever feally bad, ask someone who you trust to be honest with you to tell you what they really think about you and you'll probably be pleasantly suprised.

I'm not sure if this is the right time, place or way, but I'm going to give you a little "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" spiel here. When talking about your brother You say "...the medicine didn't let him control himself or what he ate. Total bullshit, by the way" and then go on to write "The difference between all of you and me though, is that I don't know how to express myself. I love my mom but I can't find a way to tell her. I feel like it's so hard for me to hug her or tell her I love her. I don't know why. I just wish I could hug her and tell her I love her and that everything is going to be okay. Arrgh why am I such a non-emotional freak. I feel like such a heartless asshole. And now she's gone."

You can make yourself tell your Mom how you feel next time you communicate with her (I'm assuming that you'll at least talk to her again even if it's just on the phone). You seem bright and intelligent and definetly posses heart and emotions. Perhaps you should write you Mom a letter now and give it to her next time you see her, or leave it where she will find it. Or take advice from Jel's comment. Maybe just have your Mom read this story where you've already opened your heart to us strangers. My point is that you have free will and I cannot believe that this task, no matter how hard it may be for you, could be greater than your will if you truly decide you want to do this.

In my experience anticipation is usually greater than the thing anticipated. I've never had a Christmas or birthday present that I just had to have live up to my expectation. Nor has any speech I've ever given or any other dreaded task matched the horrors that I anticipated. Hopefully you have some examples from your own life to drawn on which can give you strength in this regard.

I wish you, your brother, mother and father the best and you'll all be in my prayers tonight,


A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.

View your family as a system. (2.66 / 3) (#109)
by llogiq on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 04:58:23 AM EST

Hi there. While I'm not a psychologist (as...well, psychologist, of course), I read your article with great interest.

Families are systems, which work, and, at times, break. Your brother's schizophrenia could well be an indicator for a system failure. My mom has problems with my dad... is another hint at this theory.

get help now (4.33 / 3) (#110)
by selkirk on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 06:44:28 AM EST

Wow.  I have so much to say about this and yet I can hardly say anything.

My creds for commenting: My uncle has schizophrenia, my mom has had psychotic symptoms has major depression and attempted suicide twice, and my grandfather just killed himself about 5 weeks ago.  One day my dad up and left.  My parents are now divorced.

I think you did a good thing posting here.  

Regarding your inability to express yourself:  consider that it may take you years if not decades to deal with the stuff that is happening right now.

I hope you have good friends who you can talk to and who will listen to you.  If you do, talk to them now.  Start by showing them your article.

The sooner you seek professional help the better off you will be.  If you have trouble finding help, post back here.

If you have any thoughts of killing yourself, go to a hospital emergency room and tell them that NOW.  They really can help and this will get you help very quickly.

Don't feel that you could have done anything differently.

Don't say anything that you may regret later.

Good luck (3.00 / 1) (#115)
by brainwane on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 10:15:32 AM EST

This, too, shall pass. If you have one trusted friend or adult who's not a parent, maybe you could talk to them and that would help. Maybe a teacher could help console you and figure out what to do.

My sympathy (4.00 / 1) (#119)
by spammacus on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 11:52:09 AM EST

My sympathy is about all I can offer. My Brother has manic depression, and while that's not so severe as schizophrenia, it has caused a lot of strain. When I had trouble dealing with it, there were a couple of teachers in high school that I really trusted, I went to them for help.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
not quite the same (none / 0) (#147)
by Celestial on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 02:34:38 AM EST

I just wanted to point out again that in the situation with my friend, the boy with schizophrenia had a very rare and very dangerous form of the illness.  

Though, I do think that as with any person who has at best a tenuous grip on reality a watchful eye should be kept, to assure that medication is taken, and to keep tabs on any breaks with reality.

[ Parent ]

Mojo does not allow me to.. (1.81 / 11) (#123)
by johwsun on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 02:56:26 PM EST

...to give advices for schizophrenia.

What I have to say, and I hope mojo will not attack me again, is that humans are spiritual entities, and they can control their mind if they BELIEVE that they can control it.

Jesus, as a human prototype given by God, has control in both his mind and body. Thats why He is alive, thats why He did not turned to schizo after all those miracles he did. If you ask him, he can tell you how you can escape from anything, as long as He knows the way.

I rated you 5 just to give you some space to... (4.00 / 1) (#125)
by SaintPort on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 05:15:18 PM EST

elaborate.  I think I see where you are going here, and I don't think I agree, but I'm truly interested in people's belief about Jesus.

This may not be the 'right place' for such a discussion, as emotionally charged as this article is.

I have a heavy heart for Mickey Kantor.

My personal belief is that Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life.  But I do not think that each of us can aquire self directed super-human abilities by controlling our minds.

Jesus can give everyone life, but taking that road does not erase the sorrows of this life.  Just telling someone that Jesus loves them is often not enough.  It certainly is not good to tell someone to "get over it, Jesus did".

Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

You dont believe enough... (3.00 / 4) (#131)
by johwsun on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 02:09:33 AM EST

My personal belief is that Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. But I do not think that each of us can aquire self directed super-human abilities by controlling our minds.

This is also my belief. But I also believe that, by having a strong belief, you can really get super-human abilities, not self directed of course.

By having a strong belief, you become part of Jesus body, and you gain all the super-human abilities of that body. Look at the Saints, and the miracles they did, and you will understand that they really got those powers. And the Saints were ordinary people, like we are.

Jesus can give everyone life, but taking that road does not erase the sorrows of this life.

No he does not erase our sorrows, but He can give us hope, by giving us the power (spiritual, material or even super-natural) to overcome any problem. Actually Jesus, sometimes, give us also the right amount of sorrow, to make our belief stronger.

[ Parent ]

...interesting... (3.00 / 2) (#133)
by SaintPort on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 10:14:30 AM EST

I did not see much to disagree with here.

The key INHO is...

not self directed of course.

if the Father does not want us to perform signs and wonders... we are not going to.  

Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Now, I will admit that I have personally experienced several personal miracles that have greatly aided my faith.  These were all answered prayers that could have logical natural explanations.  But when we petition the Lord for a loved one to recover, and they do in a miraculous way, its hard for anyone to 'explain away' the faith built in our hearts.

I really hope I have not undermined the power available to us in Jesus.  But we cannot afford to consider Him our personal magician.  We have to surrender to His plan.  By doing this, my life has gone from fear and drudgery to peace, joy and excitement.

Jesus can help Mickey Kantor and his family.  But lets not just flipply imply that they are being lazy by not using enough mind or faith power.

Let us give Mickey encouragement and pray in his behalf.

Mickey, you have probably seen the Benny Hinn approach to Christianity, and some swear it works for them.  But for every Hinn 'miracle' there are scores of suffering Chrisitians taking life a day at a time.

Some helpful texts include Philip Yancey's Disappointment With God
here are some notes on the text.

Dobson's When God Doesn't Make Sense

One last thought for us all...
Most people crave the appreciation, love and understanding of others.  Let us all strive to express our love to each other.

Iasson, your turn...
in a practical approach, what do you think Mickey should do?

Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

hmmm...I dont think I can give any advice.. (5.00 / 2) (#141)
by johwsun on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 07:23:26 AM EST

Iasson, your turn... in a practical approach, what do you think Mickey should do?

I dont think I can give any other good advice, except the one I gave ...

..maybe I can say this: things can always be better, and can always be worst.
We are all inside worst and better, so there is always hope for us, and there are always people facing more difficult situations than the ones we are facing.

[ Parent ]

life preservers (5.00 / 2) (#135)
by jjayson on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 02:02:18 PM EST

I get it you don't believe in life preservers, since we should just have faith to walk on water.

This reminds me of an old joke that everybody has probably heard, but I'll repeat it to the best of my memory:

One day there was this huge flood that covered the city. This man seeing the flood waters rise past his windows ran upstairs and climbed onto the top of his roof while praying to the Lord, "Oh Lord, please save me from this flood."

Some people swam by his house and yelled up to him, "Jump down and swim to safety with us."

The man yelled back, "Go without me. The Lord will save me."

The flood waters rose and a few minutes later a boat went by and yelled to the man "Climb in!"

The man yelled back "Go without me. The Lord will save me."

The flood waters rose to the edge of his roof and a helicopter flew overhead and yelled to him, "We're here to rescue you. Climb up the rope!"

The man yelled back "Go without me. The Lord will save me."

Soon the flood waters rose above his house and he was swept away and drowned. Now in Heaven, upon meeting the Lord the man said to Him, "I prayed for You to save me. What happened?"

The Lord said back, "I tried to, three times!"

"Even I can do poler co-ordinates and i can't even spell my own name." - nodsmasher
You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't
[ Parent ]
What a crackpot (none / 0) (#143)
by pkesel on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 08:06:12 PM EST

Are you sure you shouldn't be on medication as well?  

Personally I think anyone who falls for religion is a bit delusional.  Religious, mind you, not spiritual.  Big difference.

[ Parent ]

haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahhahahaha (1.66 / 3) (#144)
by johwsun on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 02:06:51 AM EST

..come on dear boy, or girl, or whatever you are!!!

Lets talk together about that subject after 100 years from now, to see who is wrong and who is right...

I wonder if you will be able to talk that day, with the mind you are carrying....

[ Parent ]

by the way... (1.66 / 3) (#146)
by johwsun on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 02:32:19 AM EST

I wonder if I will also be able to talk that day, with the mind I am carrying....

but we will both be able to see that day, and you will see that I am right!

better for you, and for me, to believe that, before seeing it.

[ Parent ]

My own work. . . (4.50 / 4) (#126)
by McDick on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 05:51:26 PM EST

I don't normally do this, but this is all that I have to give.  This is my own heart, my own mind, my own work, to help lift and encourage in the darkest hour.  Others can offer religious advice, but since I am not religious I can offer none.  Others can give psychological advice, but since I am not a psychologist I can offer none.  I am a programmer, purely logical, but what I also have is pain, and plenty of it.  This is my original work:


"Life will go on",
"This too shall pass",
"We are but a pawn",
"Wounds heal at last".

Stop trying to end,
My feelings of pain,
And join like a friend,
In weeping again.

No actions can stop,
No words can sooth,
My mood won't drop,
My mind won't move.

Instead of trying to counter my sorrow,
Turn with me, remember this tomorrow,
"Even pain is an emotion to feel,
And not all emotions are required to heal."

Nathan Giardina

McDick Technologist

Thank you for sharing (none / 0) (#132)
by anylulu on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:04:27 AM EST

-- peace, love and anylulu http://www.anylulu.com
[ Parent ]
My experience with schizophrenia (5.00 / 3) (#128)
by Mike Hunt on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 09:05:43 PM EST

Back at the end of high school (I think it was in late '98... those days were a bit of a blur,) I had a very close friend who I had done year 12 with (I think that's "senior year" in US jargon.)

To cut a short story long, this friend (let's call him 'Red') had been diagnosed with run-of-the-mill schizophrenia towards the end of 97, and had been taking drugs for it.

We weren't exactly responsible throughout year 12, i'm not sure about him, but my attendance rate was around the 30-35% mark for most classes.  Considering he would be slacking off with me whenever I was slacking off, his were probably lower still.  Throughout this time, he had said some very strange things, and had a tendency to get depressed out of all proportion whenever something bad happened.  He would, from time to time, get concerned that all his friends were going to abandon him.  He'd also told me several times about how his father was 'evil' and how he never wanted to speak to him again.  (side note: he has since patched things up with his father, according to a mutual friend who still speaks to both of us.)

Regardless, at the end of the year our results were published.  I managed to get around 93% (the scores are normalized, there is no way in hell I could have got anything even approaching that level otherwise) and he got around the 17% mark.  He was unimpressed.

A few weeks later, a mutual friend had a few of us around his place for a few drinks.  As usually occurs with these things, large quantities of beer were consumed (stretching the memory banks, but as I recall everybody either bought a case of beer or a fifth of spirits).  Throughout the course of the evening, he became more and more convinced that I was trying to hit on his cousin (she was 15, i was 17 at the time) and that I was being unfaithful to my interstate girlfriend (I am in victoria, she was in queensland.  She has since (2000) left me.)  During the transition in his mind from 'good person' to 'bad person', I was attributed as the cause of all his ills, including his shocking year 12 score (I will take some responsibility for this, however,) the fact that his father had left them and was living in queensland (and was 'evil'), and eventually decided he wanted to kill me.

He was quite well built and at that stage somewhat heavier than I was (i've since gained about 60 pounds, but since i'm 6'6" it all spreads out :)), so understandably i was quite upset by this.  Several of us restrained him while trying to talk sense into him, but to no avail.

We have spoken exactly four times since this night.  I understand he's now on more strict medication, and is engaged.  I went to his 21st birthday party earlier this year, and he seems to have forgiven me for my transgressions.  I have been told that he is talking to his father again.

I have no idea what the point of writing all this was, but I suppose I wanted to share my experience.


I used to have a .sig, but the government told me it would cause cancer.

Try not to feel too bad. (4.00 / 1) (#129)
by confrontationman on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 12:34:48 AM EST

I don't know what it's like dealing with someone who has schizophrenia, my expertise is with manic depression. My father is currently voluntarily undergoing ECT. He's had it before and it helped a little but it doesn't seem to be making any difference anymore.

He's been up and down for over a decade now and I don't know which is worse. When he's up it taxes my mother. He thinks he can do anything and he stops sleeping and starts all kinds of projects he won't finish. The stress puts years on her.

Then he comes down, and then he suffers. He's trapped in his own mind. I hate even thinking about it. You know when people get all quiet, that's when you really start to worry about them. He doesn't say much anymore. I try to talk to him but I can't think of anything to say that won't make him worse.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. No one should have to deal with things like this. Not being very emotional is your defence. If you didn't harden yourself against this it would kill you. It's not your fault. Do what you can to help but don't feel bad for having trouble opening up to people. Give it some time, you still need to figure out how you feel.

As for the comment "humans are spiritual entities, and they can control their mind if they BELIEVE that they can control it." You have no idea.

There are people who cannot control their mind. The chemistry of thier brain is fucked and there is nothing they can do about it. Their sense of reality is beyond what normal people can imagine.

I hope your father understands the dangers of ECT (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by Alfie on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 01:28:36 AM EST

I apologize for being the heavy here, but too many patients are not informed about the dangers of ECT.

A description of electroshock:

Electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy involves the passage of an electrical current through the brain of the patient to produce a grand mal or major epileptic seizure. Sometimes the two electrodes are placed over both temples (bilateral shock) and sometimes over one side of the head (unilateral).

The shock induces an electrical storm that obliterates the normal electrical patterns in the brain, driving the recording needle on the EEG up and down in violent, jagged swings. This period of extreme bursts of electrical energy often is followed by a briefer period of absolutely no electrical activity, called the isoelectric phase. The brain waves become temporarily flat, exactly as in brain death, and it may be that cell death takes place at this time.

A shock-induced seizure is typically far more severe than those suffered during spontaneous epilepsy. In early times, when the shock patient's body was not paralyzed by pharmacological agents, it would undergo muscle spasm sufficiently violent at times to crack vertebrae and break limb bones.

Why electroshock should be banned:

Some patients do feel 'helped' by ECT. Often they have been so damaged that they cannot judge their own condition. They suffer from iatrogenic denial and helplessness. But should a treatment be banned when some people believe they are helped by it? In fact, it is commonplace in medicine and psychiatry to withdraw treatments and devices that have caused serious harm to a small percentage of people, even though they may have helped a very large percentage. The risk of serious injury to a few outweighs helping many.

In the case of ECT, a large percentage of people are being harmed, and there's little evidence that many are being helped. There's no evidence that the treatment prevents suicide or rescues desperate cases. At best the treatment offers a very poor trade-off--potentially irreversible brain damage and mental dysfunction in exchange for the docility and temporary emotional blunting or euphoria that result from the damage.

Also, regarding Electroshock (ECT) Regulation:

  1. Ban maintenance ECT. Forcing repeated convulsions on the human brain over an extended period of time renders individuals unable to perceive the damage being done to them, and hence unable to protest their mental deterioration. Repeated exposure to electrically-induced seizures ultimately leads to dementia.

[ Parent ]
Not informed? I'll say so... (5.00 / 1) (#151)
by dipipanone on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 04:56:29 PM EST

I apologize for being the heavy here, but too many patients are not informed about the dangers of ECT.

And they certainly aren't going to be any better informed after reading your one-sided polemical bullshit from Peter Breggin -- scientologist shill and all-around loon.

The facts are that ECT is virtually *never* given to people without their consent any more. It's used most commonly in cases of psychotic depression, where the people are suffering from depression that's so severe and so debilitating that suicide is not only a very real risk, but they've generally already made several attempts and the full range of cognitive and pharmacological therapies have worked and failed.

ECT is not only the only option left in such cases, in most such cases the choice is either that or lose the person through suicide. And the most important thing that you've left out is that it actually works in some proportion of such cases. They don't know how it works or why it works, but yes, it actually saves countless lives year on year.

And how do I know this? Well, I have personal friends who are psychiatrists -- people who are as humane and as liberal and as concerned with human rights and the interests of their patients as anybody that I've met. I know that they tell me that it's safe and it saves lives that would otherwise be lost, and as a result, I've done the work, read the literature and found that they aren't wrong.

But don't take my word for it. Do the research yourself. Google is just a mouse click away. And avoid relying on the judgement of a fringe loon like Breggin for your sole source of data on a subject as important as this.

Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]
Thank you. (none / 0) (#152)
by Alfie on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 06:43:07 PM EST

The facts are that ECT is virtually *never* given to people without their consent any more.

Thank you for your insights regarding ECT. Could you elaborate on other forms of psychiatric treatments? It seems you are knowledgeable on these matters, and I would appreciate your contributions to the discussion.

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't go that far (none / 0) (#153)
by dipipanone on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:10:44 PM EST

I'm not especially well versed in the literature -- and haven't looked at any of it in the last ten years or so. As I've said elsewhere, I was enamoured with the anti-psychiatry people as a young man -- Laing, Foucault, Szasz, etc. who tended to see all psychiatric illness as a social construction, a label for people that the rest of society had difficulties dealing with. Given that I and most of my friends had various deviant tendencies, that sort of theory had a great resonance with us, so it wasn't surprising that it sounded right.

And then an ex-partner had a psychotic episode and was diagnosed as being schizophrenic, and at that point I realized that when clinicians talk about serious psychiatric illnesses, they are talking about something qualitatively different from people who are just 'difficult', 'awkward' or 'rebellious'. They're talking about people who have lost almost all contact with the stable, 'real' world that they once knew and took for granted, and are often desperately distressed and would do anything to return to their normal state.

On aetiology: One thing I've noticed is that the 'big' theories tend to lean towards uni-causal explanations, ie, it's a brain disease, it's because of the family, it's a societal reaction, etc. when the truth is that all these things probably play some part in collaboration with the others.

And while there are unquestionably unpleasant side-effects associated with the drugs, and some psychiatric patients would be much happier if they were left in the care of someone responsible and were able to manage on lower doses, or less frequent doses of medication, the care of the mentally ill is, to some extent, all about cost-benefits. People who have money and family who are able to give up time or provide resources can probably help people with less severe episodes manage without anti-psychotics for long periods.

Unfortunately, a great many schizophrenics have no money and no resources. For these people, it's a choice between taking the medicine, or wandering the streets, homeless, talking to the strange men who are transmitting messages through the radio waves.

I know that if I were suffering from schizophrenia, I'd be taking the medications -- because I know what the likely consequences of not doing so are. Similarly, if I suffered from psychotic depression and the other treatments hadn't worked, I'd be signing up for ECT. It actually *isn't* unsafe or uncomfortable. The worst side effect is a tendency to a short period of memory loss. Given the sort of misery that the people who have it tend to feel, memory loss sounds to me like the last thing I'd be worrying about.

Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]
Take Care of Yourself (5.00 / 2) (#139)
by maveness on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:08:58 PM EST

You are in a very difficult situation, and the pain you feel is a perfectly normal reaction to it. Your reluctance to express yourself to your mother could have all sorts of explanations ~ but the fact that you are unhappy with it is reason enough to investigate why you are inhibited and try to change it.

I am strongly urging you to not try to be the one "strong person" in the family. It seems urgent to me that you get help yourself ~ a support group, personal counseling for yourself. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with you. I'm saying that you are carrying burdens that would stagger anyone, and that you are going to need assistance and community to make them bearable.

Find an adult you trust outside your family and let that person help you in finding resources, whether that be therapy or household help or whatever. And if you have to have an altruistic reason for getting care for yourself, please realize that it will make it easier for you to take care of others if you are not suffering so much yourself.

A mentally ill person gets a lot of attention. Parents undergoing marital strife tend to be self-absorbed. It's pretty clear to me that you are the odd man out, and you are not getting the attention and care you need and deserve. It's unfair, but the reality is that you are going to have to go looking for it yourself. Writing this article was a good start, as kuro5hin is a form of community. But you need people who'll care and tend to you in real life and in the flesh even more.

Asking for help can be really hard. But you'd be amazed how many people there are out there who can and want to help. Please don't try to tough it out on your own.

Latest fortune cookie: "The current year will bring you much happiness." As if.

Write a letter to yourself (4.50 / 2) (#142)
by jamessiddle on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 01:42:55 PM EST

There is a technique that I personally find very useful, and I guess can be used for pretty much any problem you may be dealing with . . . I can't lay claim to inventing this, I just read it somewhere: Write a letter to yourself, and mentally repeat it to yourself on a regular basis throughout the day. I personally ask questions & requests of my Unconscious mind. I guess it's a way of registering the most important things you feel you need to achieve in yourself with your Unconscious. Usually I have answers (and new questions!) within a week or two of formulating a question to ask, so it's a great technique.

Hi Mickey (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by lorive on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 10:43:56 AM EST

(your email is invalid or overurun) I'm new to the website, my stepson showed it to me, and I don't know how to post a reply so I thought I would just drop you this email. I was very touched by your story and felt compelled to answer even though most of what I have to say has already been mentioned in the other responses. I really can't help you in dealing with your emotions and such as a teenager - I came by a mentally ill family member by marriage when I was in my late 30's. But since my husband and I inherited the responsibility of caring for my brother-in-law I have had to educate myself to better navigate the mental health system and just in day to day dealing with David. First of all you must find support. Friends and family can offer a certain amount of support but remember that they are just as emotionally involved as you are. A couple postings mentioned NAMI (the national alliance for the mentally ill); our local affiliate has been invaluable for me in many ways. Members offer a kind of sympathy that only comes from years of similar experiences. Support group meetings offer an outlet for stress and frustration among people who really understand what you are going through. And finally, the collective knowledge amassed by the members through years of dealing with mentally ill loved ones and navigating the local mental health system can really be one of the best sources of information you will ever find. If you do find a meeting to attend, don't be put off by the age of many of the members. Our group ages in range from people in their seventies to a few in their early 20's but age barriers disappear because experiences are so similar. The older members have simply been dealing with the issues longer (especially those whose family members have schizophrenia which traditionally strikes people in their teens and early twenties). Secondly, the more you learn about the disease the better prepared you will be able to deal with it. A posting mentioned Surviving Schizophrenia by E Fuller Torrey. This is the handbook for anyone with a schizophrenic family member. It can't be beat as a resource on the illness of schizophrenia. In addition, I'm Not Sick I Don't Need Help! by Xavier Amador is just about the best book I've read in terms of personally dealing with someone who has little or no insight into his disease. (Lack of insight to ones own illness is unfortunately one of the symptoms of schizophrenia). Both men have mentally ill family members so their interest is more than merely academic. Buy these books, get them from your local library or your local affiliate of NAMI, you won't regret it. And finally, you may want to seek counseling or therapy for yourself. It is hard enough for an adult to deal with this devastating illness (witness your mother's departure) let alone an adolescent at your age who should be out having fun. Dealing with a brother who is sooo ill and being abandoned by your mother is really too much to ask of a 17 or 18 year old. I'm sure (or at least I hope) your mother will return. Be ready for her when she does return - tell her where she can get support, give her educational material to better prepare her for what is to come, show her that she can reach out for help through counseling or therapy. Just remember that you are not alone and help is out there, you just have to know where to look. Go to www.nami.org to find a local support group. Even if you don't want to attend a meeting, call the contact person and they can help you over the phone. NAMI also lists a mental illness hotline on their site. Our local website is www.mcknami.org. Feel free to contact me if you think I can be any help. Good Luck Barb

Living With Schizophrenia | 153 comments (138 topical, 15 editorial, 3 hidden)
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