ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Paranoia as an Obstacle to Treatment

Jack Bragen
Friday August 31, 2018 - 07:10:00 PM

When mental health consumers are paranoid about everything, this can become an obstacle to accepting treatment.

Treatment practitioners generally intend to help us. This makes sense for a number of reasons. If we can get our symptoms under control, it is less likely that we will be a nuisance or a threat to society. In addition, it is cost-effective to treat severe symptoms. Services given to people in crisis are usually much more expensive compared to preventative maintenance.

Thus, it is in society's interest and it is in our own interest to accept treatment. If we accept treatment, it becomes possible to create good lives for ourselves. Without treatment, we are shortchanging ourselves of the possibility of good things. 

You cannot enjoy any of the good things in life when psychotic. You are too busy being taken over by the symptoms. And, it is usually a lot more painful to be deeply into psychosis than it is to be recovered. This includes the fact that medications create suffering, and it includes the fact that life may stink. It is far preferable to live in reality, even when reality has its difficulties. Being psychotic is no way to live. 

If we remain stabilized, refrain from getting in trouble, and obtain a part time job or a volunteer job, then we have a chance at happiness, and we could create a good name for ourselves. This, in turn, is an incentive for authorities to ease up on us, and to ease up on any restrictions that could be imposed on us. 

When paranoid, we may feel that treatment professionals are the enemy. If we can not correct this soon enough, it leads to disaster. Although the agendas of treatment practitioners are not solely to help us, helping us is still on their plate. 

Paranoia is an obstacle to treatment. If we believe that the treatment system is "out to get me," it is likely that we will resist various forms of treatment. We have to participate in treatment in order to get well. I still struggle with this dilemma even though I am more than twenty-two years into recovery. 

Taking the chance of trusting is courageous. If we are too wrapped up in symptoms to trust anyone, this is caused by the illness. When the brain illness takes over consciousness, then we, as a soul or perhaps as a personality, may not have the power to overcome this. When the illness takes over, any kind of reasonable thinking is blocked. 

A mentally ill person is better off preventing this dilemma from ever happening. In an ideal world, we could do that. But, for some, this ideal may be out of reach. This is unfortunate. However, we should not give up. 

If you had a broken leg, you would probably want to have a splint put on it, so that it could heal. Medication to treat psychosis is the same thing. The brain, because of the malfunction, has the potential to wreck itself through some type of overload, or through improper firing of the neurons. Too many relapses or going too long without medication may have a long term bad impact on our prognoses. 

When the brain has what it needs, the healing process can happen. The more years you go while stabilized, the better are your chances of having good brain function. 

When in treatment, you have a chance at having the basic freedom to fight the "stinking thinking" of treatment professionals. A psychiatrist told me that being schizophrenic doesn't indicate a lack of intelligence, but that it affects "harnessing of intelligence." You do not have to buy into messages that you're "dumb" due to being mentally ill. 

Most medication does not turn you into a "cognitively impaired" person. There are some exceptions. However, most of the antipsychotics that I have taken have helped my mind, and have not turned off intelligence. Although medication can cause some "slowness," the main areas impacted by this are in reflexes and physical energy. Antipsychotic medications mess with the body, but they do not ruin the mind--at least, that has been my experience. 

Some anti-medication advocates have asserted that psych meds shut down the higher functions of the mind. My experience is that psychosis does a thousand-fold more to shut down higher functions than medications do. Some medications I've taken have shut down a lot of my awareness, and my solution to this is to switch to other ones that I've tolerated better. 

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