Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Transport

Hello again

I have no car today.  Paul's is in pieces on the drive, so he has borrowed mine.  Which makes me feel like a bird with clipped wings, but also makes me realise how lucky I am to have the use of a car usually.  I have been lucky for a long time really.  A lot of people with my diagnosis lose their whole lives to it - I lost some years, but eventually managed to pull through.

People keep telling me that the mental health system has improved these days (which makes me feel like a fossil.  I'm forty-three, in case you are wondering.  It's now twelve years since the last time I was sectioned).  I hope it has improved, but I feel that there is still a long way to go; for example with what I think of as the enforced sterilisation of women with mental health problems.  Anti-psychotic medications can have all sorts of side effects, one of which is to prevent conception, which would be fine if female patients were made aware of it.  They should be able to make an informed choice regarding the pros and cons of their treatment as patients can in the realm of their physical health - instead of which, mental health patients are not consulted about their treatment, or their views are discounted on the basis that they are 'mad'. 

And I will never stop railing against the diagnosis itself - as I have reiterated many times, I am not denying that I was raving mad (after all, my book goes into this in detail) but the Schizophrenia label made matters so much worse.  I would never have got better if I had not learned to challenge it - I am not disputing the fact that I was (or am, who knows?) mad, but on the basis that schizophrenia is a spurious label based on no scientific evidence.  I feel really strongly that it should not be inflicted on anybody else. 

Anyway, about the car - lots of people with a mental health diagnosis can't or don't drive - I am very fortunate that I have been able to for almost the whole of my life.  (Would it be in bad taste here to point out that I passed my driving test when I was eighteen, on my first attempt?  Obviously.  Oh well, never mind).  I have been able to pass off the image of an ordinary mother for many years now, even when I privately felt like an absolute outsider, and that has certainly aided my recovery.  Those people that perceived me as normal spoke to me and behaved towards me normally, which helped me to learn to speak and behave in the same way.  Which helped me to feel normal.  

Now I am realising something I feel that I should have known a long time ago - I am normal.  Furthermore, I am anybody's equal (although obviously nobody's superior).  We all make our own way in the world.  And knowing that makes the potential pitfalls seem less scary - if anything goes wrong we can pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down.  No need to judge ourselves or anybody else on our failings or theirs.  As somebody said on the Amazon Authors forum this morning, we should all be more understanding of mental health, because breakdowns can happen to anybody.

Louise x


  1. Believe me nothing much has changed in the mental health service in the East Middlands where I live. The high prolactin levels affect not only women's fertility it renders men infertile too. My son was laughed at when he reported the side effects of his medication.He was litterally brainwashed into believing that he was mentally ill. His psychosis was caused by an infection yet nobody bothered to take his full history. When I protested, psychiatrists joined ranks to protect their own backs.My son has been badly marked by all this.

  2. That is so unfair, and so sad. I do hope your son regains his confidence soon. I spoke to a lady recently who had an adverse reaction to medication she was given after the birth of her baby - it produced psyschotic symptoms. She came very close to having the baby and her elder child taken away, but fortunately a psychiatrist spotted the true problem at the last minute. I think cases like this and your son's are rare (I hope so) but if the system was more humane a lot of tragic outcomes could be avoided.

    The prolactin situation certainly needs to be highlighted - why is this information not in the public realm? I shall do my best to remedy the injustice - I am writing a book about recovery (based on my life over the last twelve years) and I have a few things to say about medication!

    All the best, Louise.