What sort of experiences have you had with mental illness...your own, or others'?

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What sort of experiences have you had with mental illness...your own, or others'?--Al

-- Al Schroeder (al.schroeder@nashville.com), April 11, 2000


I work as a transcriptionist for a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and so I've read terribly sad stories of severe mental illness. We've been fortunate that there has been no serious mental illness in our family, at least not to the degree I encounter each day. But my aunt is at present in the early stages of Alzheimers, and it is painful to watch this one bright, clear mind begin to show cobwebs. It's more painful because she's still aware of what's going on. When she gets worse, she will blissfully be spared the knowledge of what is happening to her, while those of us who have loved her and enjoyed her keen wit will have to watch her brain die while her body lives on.

My father suffered from depression and alcoholism, and was a rage-a-holic, but looked down his nose at those who accepted professional help. I think he saw a therapist twice and decided it was a waste of time and money because "all he did was sit there." He held on to his stubborn pride in refusing to accept help through the loss of his children, his marriage, and all his friends. But by golly, he wasn't such a weakling that he'd ask anybody for help, or admit that he needed it.

-- Bev Sykes (basykes@dcn.davis.ca.us), April 11, 2000.

I saw a brother-in-law finally go mental from alcoholism, periodically into the asylum and back out a bit, but ever deeper and finally died from it.

My sister-in-law, one of the sharpest, brightest, kindest ladies I ever knew, we saw her go into in Alzheimer's, she now is in the final stages.

Myself, made a suicide attempt, diagnosed with clinical depression. Always will be under medication, tried to wean myself, but when I detected the beginning of the downhill spiral - - I went back on the meds. I still have the SAD ailment (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and through the winter all the lights stay on in our apartment, get enough sleep, eat right and take my meds. The way it is with me now - - - - when the leaves begin to turn, my spirits drop, when they begin to fall a further drop arrives. On medication my affect stays about the same through the winter. When the air becomes milder, when the crocus bloom, the twigs start to become limber, the daffodils come up the rise in my spirits is remarkable. May time, my time.

This past winter, with the friendship of the people I have met on the web the decline in my spirits was not nearly as bad as usual. No pity party, participation allowed me to again see that many people were coping quite well with ailments worse than mine. Some people have had some of the same problems as I have had, we seem to support and encourage each other. The example of Al Schroeder through his trials is something that shines out to the world. The auto wreck of Easy Writer and her remarkable progress in recovery. Some people on the web appear to have problems that seem to be irrational to me, but probably aren't, just different than me.

I see things from the starburst of different viewpoints and my mind expands into a greater understanding of all things.

It is truly amazing, at times I am almost euphoric, at other times deeply calmed, deeply touched, deeply interested in everything. I now enjoy everything much more and do the deep belly laugh that had almost disappeared from my repertoire. I am not manic, just happy.

I wonder in this age if maybe every adult has a bit of a mental problem ? The stresses resulting from the press of not enough time, speed, money and the pressing in of crowds on the freeway and coping with road rage.

So, here come the guys in white coats for me, BYE

-- Denver doug (ionoi@webtv.net), April 12, 2000.

People who are involved in the psychological field of medicine (i.e. the psychologists and psychiatrists) often times do have a much higher suicide rate than those who are not in that field of medicine. As a psychologist student myself, I realize that there are so many mental illnesses out there that people suffer from and it can easily become something that ends a person's life in every sense of the word. I know a person that I work with who is agoraphobic (afraid of situations outside of the home), has social anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks and suicidal tendencies. This person is on numerous drug therapies, visits the psychiatrist at least three times a week and lives a life of fear. This person will leave the house if I am along side. It has greatly effected me to know this person and become friends with this person, but this person also means the world to me because of the qualities underneath the mental illnesses.

As for myself: I was in the hospital for a medical illness and developed depression because of it. I remember attempting suicide once but never went through with it. When I look back upon how I was feeling now, I remember all too well that trapped, helpless feeling that I was faced with when I attempted to end my life. Those feelings are what has made me want to become a psychologist myself. I understand mental illnesses and have a great compassion for others with them, as well. Mostly, however, I just want to help another person deal with his/her issues and help him/her to lead a normal life. I have a close friend who is bulemic. It is a tough mental struggle for one to deal with. Having friends with eating disorders can be a hard thing to deal with if you are uncomfortable around people with mental illnesses. Eating disorders are so visible -- much harder to hide behind than a "normal" mental illness such a schizophrenia, severe depression or some kind of phobia. It is hard for me to even think of the right thing to say to this friend of mine when we talk about her eating disorder and I've been trained in the field.

I think all in all, we need to learn to accept mental illnesses and not think of them as some scarey issue that we need to hide from. If we embrace the technology that we have today with modern medicine and learn about the different mental illnesses out there (just like we learn about the common cold), the world would be a lot better off.

-- Meg (meghlcl@aol.com), April 12, 2000.

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