Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The mutants are revolting: The treatment of the mentally ill in today's society - Part IV


Once you have that diagnosis in your life, you are never going to get rid of it, and everything is going to be so much harder. The problem is that psychiatrists hand out this diagnosis like candy without ever questioning its validity, because for them, it is the easiest way to deal with you. They use this diagnosis to not have to deal with whatever actual problems you may have, because the beauty of a psychosis diagnosis, to them, is that psychoses are so broad that you can attribute every single possible symptom to them. Depression, mania, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic attacks, dissociation, depersonalisation, whatever you can think of, they can all be bent and shaped to fit into a psychosis diagnosis, and the psychiatrist will no longer have to do any work trying to get to the root of your problem or make an effort to fix it, because whatever symptoms you may have, it's just your psychosis, and here, have some antipsychotics, come back in a month, and if the meds don't work have some other antipsychotics.

In this post, I have detailed how my paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis came to be about a year ago. But it did not start there. Diagnoses from the psychotic spectrum have been following me since 2010, shortly after I began serious psychiatric treatment after my alcohol detox. I was suffering from massive social anxiety and panic attacks at the time, which in fact was why I was drinking so much alcohol that I needed to get to detox, and I certainly did not have the strength to detail all my symptoms for the psychiatrist by myself, and instead let him ask his questions and answer them as best as I could. These were some really broad and general questions about my panic and anxiety and eventually the conclusion was reached that I am suffering from general anxiety disorder and was given medications with anxiolytic effects (as detailed in the post I linked in the beginning of this paragaph).

Eventually however, I was cornered on my agoraphobic symptoms, and the question arose - I am sure almost everyone who has been to the psychiatrist has been asked that - if, when outside, I felt like people were watching me. Well, yeah, isn't that a natural instinct of any herbivore? Guess not. And it's not like I look particularly ordinary with my long hair, beard, heavy metal or horror movie shirts, camouflage pants and heavy boots. Of course people are looking at me. And of course I feel even more like people are looking at me when I'm in the middle of a panic attack and feel like the whole world is collapsing onto me. But there it was: My new diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder. Psychosis.

Had I had the knowledge of the strength to protest back then I would have, because that's just not me. It does not reflect me or my illness in any way. But at the time I did not know anything about the subject matter and didn't even know that much about myself, and I trusted the psychiatrist to use his knowledge and competence to improve my situation. I did not realise that this would become a stigma that would make any further treatment impossible because every time I went to any psychiatrist since then, I would always be treated for the psychosis diagnosis and every symptom I had would either be somehow attributed to that diagnosis or deliberately ignored.

I have been an inpatient three times since then, the last of which was the stay at the schizophrenia ward I have written four posts about to this point, and nothing has changed. I can try to reason with the doctors, I can try to explain things to them, my symptoms, how I feel, how I perceive things, what makes my brain tick, to no avail. The only thing it has accomplished was worsening my diagnosis from schizoaffective disorder to paranoid schizophrenia. And it's just so wrong. I do not exhibit any symptoms that define a psychosis at the core. I suffer from major depression and an anxiety spectrum disorder known as obsessive-compulsive disorder, with an emphasis on panic and anxiety. I did not self-diagnose this, I do officially have these diagnoses next to the psychosis, and they are true, as they match the symptoms exhibited through my illness spot-on. But schizophrenia? Where? How? Did these guys listen to a word I said?

You'd assume that one wrong diagnosis among three is no major issue, but it becomes one whenever you seek treatment for the other two diagnoses but are only ever asked about the wrong one, and are only ever "treated" (ineffectively, as there's nothing to treat) for the wrong one. With each time I have seen a new psychiatrist I have become more and more desperate to have my depression and anxiety treated, because not only did these issues become increasingly overwhelming as they were left to grow unchecked, but the helplessness you experience in the face of their increasingly overwhelming power and the fact that they remain untreated despite you practically begging on your knees for them to be looked at drives you to a point of despondency. And the reaction is always and will always remain that any attempt to seek help for illnesses that are killing you from the inside is that they are deliberately brushed aside and that it must be your psychosis acting up. Why not have some Haldol?

If you have a psychosis diagnosis and know it does not apply to the symptoms you feel, don't let them get away with it. Fight to have it removed from your file. Make them listen to you. Find people who are in a similar situation, support each other, pool your resources, raise awareness. This is a crime against humanity and it cannot continue. We must end this despicable practice right here, right now. If all they want is to give us a diagnosis that shuts us up and which cannot be legally disputed because every possible symptom can be twisted to fit their diagnosis, just so they don't have to do any work, they clearly took up the wrong profession and should lose their license to practice medicine. It's time we made sure that happened.

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