ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Weathering Storms Within the Mind

Jack Bragen
Friday September 15, 2017 - 01:24:00 PM

Hurricane Irma is in the news now, and it seems that the devastation is unprecedented. Even a psychotic episode seems to pale in comparison to what is happening to Florida, Cuba, and any other place in the path of that storm.

Yet, a psychotic episode is like a storm. The rational mind is swept away by winds and floods that exist in the mind, and the victim of the storm is left without the ability to reason. Worse yet, the individual is functioning under psychotic beliefs.

I heard stories of people tying themselves to a part of their house to prevent getting blown away by Irma. The mind of a psychotic person may be similar. There is no reliable anchor. The solution isn't always extra antipsychotic medication--although sometimes it is. One's psychiatrist would be able to answer that; I could not. 

Just so that we're clear, I am not a PhD or an MD. I tested out of high school to get out early, and I've been to trade school for electronics. I should not be thought of as an "expert" in the field of mental health. I have learned to write well through the fact that I read a lot as a teen, and have spent incalculable hours teaching myself about how to write, with some limited feedback, mostly from editors. I am a thoughtful person. 

I do not hire a "ghostwriter" or a copy editor. I do not have income to pay such a person, nor do I have a need or want for such a person.  

When we have a mental "storm" it isn't necessarily caused by "noncompliance" with taking medication. Over the past week, I've experienced levels of anxiety that seemed unbearable, even while taking medications according to prescription. I've had paranoid delusions accompanying this. It was like a weather system moving through my brain and mind.  

When things become unsteady, it is important to stay off Facebook and email, and you may want to stay off the computer entirely. Computers don't mix well with paranoid psychosis.  

When things are difficult, it is important not to take medication in excess of the prescription unless one's psychiatrist instructs one to do so. The result of taking excessive medication can be dire. Also, mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can very easily cause death.  

When things are hard, it doesn't always work to "ride it out" alone. In my case, washing all of the dishes in my dwelling and then getting a good night's sleep were therapeutic. I took a brief break from my laptop.  

Silence is subject to interpretation. Almost any way you'd like to interpret it is probably wrong. Forgive me if this week's column is a bit of a ramble.  

Nothing in particular is going on with me other than a "mental storm." One friend who is now deceased called it a "mental cold." His reference was to the fact that I have insight about my illness. He said that in his case, it was worse than that because of his lack of insight. I found it odd that someone can lack insight and at the same time acknowledge this.  

If we realize at a particular time that we are having symptoms, the awareness of this is helpful in minimizing damage to life circumstances. On the other hand, if we begin to act based on delusions, it can really create complications.  

There are no assurances in life. If we are living with a major psychiatric diagnosis, we may need to set our sights a bit lower. People do not always want to hand responsibility over to someone with a history of mental illness. While I have numerous desires in life, I am aware that some of them may be out of reach.  

It might seem unfair that persons with psych disabilities aren't allowed to do certain things. However, this is an illness that attacks judgment. Therefore, mentally ill people should not be President, or be an airline pilot.  

As far as me being considered an expert, I am good at surviving as a disabled person, I have a lot of experience with this illness, and I think a lot. If you need to contact me for any reason, I think the editor is still willing to forward a message.