Friday, 17 August 2012

let's disband the enduring mental illness team

Where I live there seems to be very little support for people on discharge from psychiatric inpatient treatment who have been given a mental disorder label.  Apart from meetings with a psychiatrist and a CPN (community psychiatric nurse).  The former focuses on drugs (medication) and the latter on how to maintain the severe and enduring mentally ill patient in the community.

There might be a sprinkling of clinical psychology, again from the enduring mental illness perspective.  For where I live they have teams of professionals just for this group of severe and enduring mentally ill ex-psychiatric inpatients.  They might give the team a snazzy name.  But the bottom line is that if you're assigned to this team it's all about maintenance and very little/nothing to do with recovery.  In my experience.

I was assigned to this team in 2002.  Went to the local day hospital where I did colouring-in, quiz games and went for long walks.  The latter activity was quite enjoyable.  The former two I couldn't do because of being dozed up on psychiatric drugs.  Couldn't find the answers to the quiz questions and couldn't colour-in without going over the lines.  Felt completely useless and enduringly mentally ill

Until I decided to take charge of my own mental health and recover.  Had to do this myself.  It wasn't part of the psychiatric plan or service provision. I'd been given a label of bipolar then schizoaffective disorder.  I knew it wasn't true but was powerless to resist it, on paper anyway.  Although deep inside the rebellion was stirring despite the numbing neuroleptics.

Volunteering has always been part of my life so I started to get back into this, even though I didn't feel like doing anything.  It was very difficult at first, the lack of motivation and sluggishness.  But it got gradually better and I started to reduce the anti-depressants which kept me depressed.  Latterly the lithium which didn't give me balance.  And recovered.  Completely.

Since then I've supported other family members who have come out of the psychiatric system.  The challenge, as I see it, has always been to resist the labelling, taper the drugs and get back in control of your own life.  Engaging with the enduring mental illness team has been unavoidable.  For those of us given a mental disorder diagnosis.  You don't have to believe it if you don't want to, is my advice.  Make up your own mind as to labels.  It's all subjective, regardless of what is written in the medical notes (see Notes and Other Fairy Tales).

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