God knows where I am

A griping article about a patient who rejects her diagnosis, refused all psychiatric medication and drifted to the edge of society.

God Knows where I am

About Michaela

I am a wanderer and a wonderer, like you are. I love our journey and to walk in the company of friends – to learn, experience, share, laugh, cry and above all I simply love this marvelous, magical, mysterious life. I have no plan (cannot believe I am saying this) and my only intention is to be truthful to myself and others.
This entry was posted in Awakening & Medicine, Room to Read and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to God knows where I am

  1. johanna11 says:

    A good description o f the terrible dilemmas that “mental illness” gives rise to. I do feel strongly that the family should be included in decisions, and kept informed of what is going on, unless there is clear indication that this would not be wise.

    The big question that hangs in the air is: what can we learn from this? What can be done better?

  2. johanna11 says:

    Please, friends, if you have any knowledge or ideas as to what can be done when a person refuses to recognize their “illness” – contribute to the discussion! On the one hand, I feel that Linda had a perfect right to live out her life as she chose. Did she, though, choose to die?

    Treating people with a mental illness or disability or whatever we choose to call this, as isolated units is, I think, at least partly a modern phenomenon, and, in short, is a mistake. They are still a part of their family, street, or village…. True – it isn ‘t easy – it can be the hardest thing in the world – to deal with a person who is so confused and disorientated, and who does not recognize their illness, as I know from experience. But they still have feelings – and they also may have skills or abilities which they can contribute to the community.

    The old-style mental hospitals had one merit – they had patients who were proudly able to act as gardeners…. and their residents created many hand-made things (knitted garments, doylies, pottery bowls, etc.) which were sold at fetes. Now, that rarely seems to happen.
    With modern medication, if a person can accept it, hospitalization is much less often needed – but living on the street, or in jail, as so many do now, is not much better!

    The so-called mentally ill are still largely a hidden sector of our community, like the very old and the dying. How can we really include them in our community, in a living way?

  3. Michaela says:

    Thank you, Johanna. This is an important question.

    I think it is necessary to start with one’s own beliefs about ” mental disease”. What we label disease, is often just a variety of the norm, but of course there are some very serious conditions, with the potential to bring great suffering to the patient and their families. Unfortunately we believe people have to be ” productive”, to be a functioning part of society. Indeed, I think many mental health patients would greatly benefit from a safe, protected environment, that allows them to be – as they are and include them in the community.

  4. johanna11 says:

    Hello Michaela, thank you for your response. I too think that people should be free to be – as they are. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they should cease to be part of some community, to which they may be able and willing to contribute in some way. During “psychosis”, ie. when a person may seem most out of tune with the rest of the community, and may also refuse medication, he/she may be very creative. Our youngest daughter wrote much poetry – some of it very good, I believe – during such a phase. And at one point when we were desperate as to how to live with her, we embarked on creating a pond, which she helped to dig and for which she collected stones – some quite heavy – from our rocky garden, for edging and for the surrounds. This helped to channel her energy and gave her something to do that was meaningful to her.

    It seems to me that people going through the turmoil of what we call mental illness generally have some creative urge, but have difficulty in expressing that. This is where groups such as the Street Choir here in Sydney are doing such a great job. This choir is for “street people”, not specifically those with a mental illness, although of course the latter are over-represented in homelessness and in prisons.

    So what would I want to see? Firstly, we need more provision of suitable accommodation and care where required. Second, opportunities for creativity, whether artistic, sporting, or paid ‘work’. What I was trying to point to with the example of ‘mental hospitals’ is not that we should go back to that kind of ‘care’, but rather that we need to create situations which include the opportunity to be creative and to contribute to community participation.

    Being a friend to someone with a ‘mental disorder’ is one of the most valuable things one can do for them – because, when a person manifests mental turmoil and loss of contact with ‘reality’ most of their old friends fade away and they tend to become isolated.

    Just some thoughts….

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