My heart beats too fast and my hands shake when I think back remembering all the hospital admissions, the doctors, the pills, God… the pills! As I write, my gut feels like it’s being ripped apart. What if I made a mistake?
What if I made such a huge mistake that my only beloved son shall never forgive me? And if he does forgive me, has my mistake(s) ruined some of his life already? Has it already carved out part of who he is?
I just don’t know what is right. I don’t know what to do.
Join a group? There’s pretty much only one to choose from, which is through NAMI.
“Forget his liver,” I remember the young psychiatrist telling me. Was she suggesting that I’m neglecting my son by not neglecting his liver, I wondered. Sometimes psychiatrists think in strange ways.
“We can treat liver disease, diabetes and Tardive Dyskenesia,” the young psychiatrist said, “but we can’t treat schizophrenia without antipsychotics.”
That part about treating liver disease, well, I don’t think so.
My son’s liver panel always changes when he takes the type of medications recommended by psychiatrists. His family physician told him, once in front of me, “never take antipsychotics again.” He told us that they would damage his liver.
In response, my son’s ACT team social worker and a psychiatric intern at the hospital told me that we should get a new family doctor.
“You must go against your gut,” I’ve been told by professionals in the psychiatric community. “You must abandon everything you understand as a mother in making decisions to advocate for treatment,” a well-respected social worker once said to me.
“Treatment,” ultimately can mean forced injections. The social worker added that if she was a parent in my shoes, that she truly didn’t know what she would do.
“We’ll commit him for not taking medicine and keep him there until he gets so tired of it he will do anything to get out, even accept regular injections of anti-psychotics. We’ve had to do this many times with patients like your son — who are consistently non-compliant in taking their meds,” his psychiatrist has suggested.
“He wouldn’t have rehabilitation there,” I told the psychiatrist after she threatened to send him there if he, “made one wrong move.” My son is not a criminal. He gets sad and lonely and out of sorts. He isn’t out breaking the law.
The doctor had a bad attitude and let her personal feelings get too involved. She was angry because the day before my son had gotten out of a car in town, instead of going to his apartment, while riding with one of the team’s social workers. He’s an adult and can get out if he wants to whether anyone likes it or not.
“The only thing he would be able to do up there since the psychiatric rehabilitation unit is full would be sit in their community room all day, watching television with patients who are much worse than he is,” I told her. She reminded me again that this was an effective technique to get some patients to decide to take medication.
I feel like I’ve had to give my son over to the enemy. I feel like I agreed to join them too — but never with my whole heart or without the ongoing feeling that there must be a better way to do things than the way our modern-day psychiatry does them.
I stopped going to the support groups because there is a collective attitude that supports denying another person’s human and civil rights.
I once told my son’s psychiatrist about research suggesting that people with diagnoses, such as schizophrenia, can recover. She hadn’t heard about the studies nor had she ever read anything about treating schizophrenia in ways outside of antipsychotic medication. Personally, I find it disturbing that she’s been a psychiatrist for more than twenty years, yet hasn’t taken time to read about other forms of treatment.
We need an alternative. My son and I, and possibly many other families, need people to join an exploration in healthy ways to treat “mental illness” and we need to start a conversation about recovery.
“What causes schizophrenia?” someone asked a famous psychiatrist who was speaking at a meeting I attended.
“Nothing,” the doctor replied. “Nothing and everything causes it.”
I don’t have the answers. I do believe that if we had places where we can find what a former professor of mine called, “The Three Ms’,” that healing could happen. “Meaning, Mastery, and Membership,” he called them. “People will go crazy without these things,” he said to our class one day.
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