Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Forget the headlines-schizophrenia is more common than you think

That is the title of this article.  What do they mean by it is more common than we would think? “Schizophrenia isn’t a specific, rare or rigorously defined illness. Instead, it covers a wide range of often unrelated conditions, all of which are also seen in people who are not mentally ill.  Which illness frightens you most? ‘Cancer?’ ‘Stroke?’ ‘Dementia?’ To judge from tabloid coverage, the condition we should really fear isn’t physical at all. Scared of mum’s schizophrenic attacks, Knife-wielding schizophrenic woman in court,  Schizo stranger killed dad, Rachel murder: schizo accused and My schizophrenic son says he’ll kill… but he’s escaped from secure hospitals 7 times are just a few of dozens of similar headlines we found in a cursory internet search.  Mental illness, these stories imply, is dangerous.  And schizophrenia is the most dangerous.”  All those headlines do to me is get me mad.  We are not all like that.  When I was ill I just was trying to figure what was wrong with me.  In prison when I first was ill I just wanted to be left alone and was paranoid.
Why do the headlines always make the mental ill to be bad why don’t they put up stories about the people that are doing well? “Such reporting is unhelpful, misleading and manipulative.  But it may be even more inaccurate than it first appears.   This is because scientists are increasingly doubtful whether schizophrenia- a term invented more than a century ago by the psychiatric pioneer Eugen Bleuler – is a distinct illness at all.  This isn’t to say that individuals diagnosed with the condition don’t have genuine and serious mental health problems.  But how well the label ‘schizophrenia’ fits those problems is now a very real question.  What’s wrong with the concept of schizophrenia? For one thing, research indicates the term may simply be functioning as a catch-all for a variety of separate problems.  Six main conditions are typically caught under the umbrella of schizophrenia: paranoia: grandiosity (delusional beliefs that one has special powers or is famous); hallucinations (hearing voices, for example); thought disorder (being able to think straight); anhedonia or the inability to experience pleasure; and diminished emotional expression (essentially an emotional ‘numbness’).  But how many of these problems a person experiences, and how severely, varies enormously.  Having one doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily develop any of the others.”  I had most of them when I was ill.  Not in prison then I just had paranoia.  That was one time I did talk to a psychiatrist even though I am shy by nature.  I just wanted to figure out what was happening to me.
Well what causes it to happen to people? “Experiences like paranoia are also linked with a number of psychological traits, such as a tendency to worry, feel depressed, sleep poorly, or jump to conclusions,  These factors seem to work in what scientists call a ‘dose-response’ manner: the more of them you experience, the more likely it is that your mental health will suffer.   Genetic factors also play a part, though there’s no evidence for a single ‘schizophrenia’ gene. Instead, a multitude of genes are likely to be involved- with their effect, crucially, conditioned by environmental factors.  So the people who end up being treated for schizophrenia aren’t the unlucky few who happen to have inherited a rogue gene. The more of the relevant genes you possess, the further you are to the extreme end of the spectrum and the less of a push you’ll need from life events to become ill.”  All I did was get angry and that is the last thing I remember in prison.  I was in solitary and laid down all I remember after that is waking up in a different cell and paranoid.
The last of this article says: “This isn’t merely a theoretical issue: if we target specific problems, rather than a loosely defined illness, we’re likely to improve treatment outcomes for the many people struggling with these debilitating experiences.”  Not everyone has schizophrenia but fall into one or more categories of the illness.  Schizophrenia is the worst to have so I guess they all would not like to be diagnosed with it if they only have one of the criteria.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Social withdrawal and Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about.  This article hits close to home. “A new study finds that adults with schizophrenia who keep to themselves often did so as children, but that social skills training can be an effective way to overcome any difficulties presented by socializing with others. If you’re feeling alone, you’re not alone. That’s one of the key messages that institute-supported researcher Sandra Matheson wants people to take from her meta-analysis of social withdrawal and schizophrenia that was published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.  The report, which compared six studies that looked at childhood social withdrawal in adults with schizophrenia and in at-risk children aged 9-14 years, found that childhood social withdrawal in combination with three potential markers of schizophrenia risk –delay in speech or motor development, presence of psychotic-like experiences, and social, emotional or behavioral problems –was an indicator of vulnerability for schizophrenia.” I was shy as a kid and still am.  Although friends always counted me in stuff either way.  Although I did not have any other problems like the ones mentioned besides being shy.
The article also says: “That’s not to say that children who are shy, or don’t have a lot of friends or don’t play well are going to develop schizophrenia later in life, Ms Matheson points out.  What the results of the study tells us is that adults with schizophrenia who are socially withdrawn, quite likely displayed those same attributes when they were children and that not wanting to socialize with others is a common occurrence in people with schizophrenia. The study considered withdrawn children to be those who frequently refrained from joining in social activities with their friends and was measured by using the Childhood Behavioural Checklist, which is widely-used psychological questionnaire that assesses a number of behaviours and is filled out by either parents, teachers or the child themselves. I mostly read books when I was a child.  I had a few friends did not make a lot until high school.  The shyness in adult life was offset my alcohol that is why I am an alcoholic. I drank to talk to women or anybody.
The article finishes up saying: “The encouraging new from the study is that children who scored high on the Child Behaviour Checklist for social withdrawal who also received an intervention such as social skills training were able to modify or overcome their tendency to withdraw.  Helping a child to overcome any difficulties they may experience-whether it’s learning to play a sport to improve motor skills, developing better social skills or sorting out any behavioural problems- is going to be of benefit, whether the child develops schizophrenia or not, says Ms Matheson.  Children with at least one first-or second degree relative (ie. Parent, sibling, or aunt, uncle) with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were not considered by the study to be as vulnerable to developing schizophrenia as children who displayed the three risk markers mentioned earlier, but were more vulnerable than children who were considered to be typically developing. Previous studies have found that social skills competency in people with schizophrenia is associated with better functioning in the community and predicts positive vocational functioning, regardless of cognitive abilities, and or social skills training is an effective way to improve social interactions.” I know one of the questions to ask is can it help an adult.  I read and know a lot of schizophrenics would like to socialize more than they do now.  It would also help them find employment.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Collaborative Efforts Help Mental Health Patients Quit Smoking

That is the title of this article and blog.  It is not worth it to smoke anymore.  I am glad that I quit fifteen years ago. “Persons with mental illness account for more than one-third of adult smokers in the United States and despite a decline in tobacco use during the past five decades, there has been no change in the smoking rate for patients with poor mental health.  To combat reliance on tobacco in mental health populations, experts agree that mental health services and government-sponsored tobacco control programs must work together to improve education and access to smoking cessation programs.”  It is time to quit that is what I felt when I decided to quit.  I could not have done it before than because I enjoyed it too much.  I always carried cigarettes on me.  When I quit I had four packs on me that I gave to a friend besides the two cartons.
I cannot say that I quit with smoke aid.  The wellbutrin I took to stop smoking just made me so upset that I quit in a month.  I just did not want to take it anymore and I wasn’t craving so I quit. “Historically, mental health care has operated separately from general medical practices where collaborations exist to strongly encourage smoking cessation in typical patient populations, said Jill M. Williams, MD, professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  The result of this disconnect, according to Dr. Williams, has left smokers with disparities to become dominant group of smokers in the United States. This includes smokers with mental illness, as well as other addictions and the very poor. Disparities research indicates we need tailored strategies to effect these remaining populations of smokers, she said.”  I had to ask my doctor when I wanted to quit.  A lot of people with mental illness do not have PCP’s.  I believe you have to have a reason to quit.  It was not that I would die young that made me quit.  It was the reason of having my granddaughter in a smoke free house.  I was not even supposed to quit that was supposed to my ex-wife.  She did not quit.
The article says: “Williams said partnerships between mental health providers and state or county tobacco control programs benefit patients, providers and programs.  For patients, smoking cessation improves their health be reducing the impact of smoking-related illnesses.  This in turn lowers costs in treating those illnesses.  The paradox is that we still pay for the heart disease and cancer that these smokers develop so it makes more sense to help them stop smoking, explained Williams. Likewise, tobacco control programs, already leaders in advocacy, can emphasize the need for smoking cessation programs and policies that focus specifically on underserved populations, including individuals with mental health illness. Ultimately, coordinated efforts can strengthen and expand treatment programs, control healthcare costs, and improve the well-being of individuals with mental illness and other disparate populations, which have limited access to smoking cessation options, said Williams.”  If you can quit why not if it means you will be here longer with your loved ones, I enjoyed every minute I had with my granddaughter when she was a baby that I would not trade to this day for a cigarette.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hope & Recovery

I am writing about hope and recovery again it has been awhile since I addressed this subject.  I hardly get down in the dumps.  I will for a while then I realize that things will always get better that you just have to keep trudging along.  You have to help things move along in the right way also you cannot just sit back and think things are go to get better on their own.  I have a hard habit since I was young of forcing things to work.  Sometimes they do not like my ex-mother in law said you cannot force things.  She was right about my marriage.  Although I still keep trying and if I did not when I was in the state hospital, I might still be there.
When I received a pass to visit my family I not only visited them but I also registered for college hoping I would go and change my life.  I was released two months before college started to a boarding home for dual diagnosis.  Life has a funny way of happening.  I have faced a lot of obstacles in my life where the worse could have happened and I would not be here writing this if it all happened.  Sometimes you just have to believe no matter how bad things seem to be that it will get better and it always does.  I once face twenty four years and did not make a deal and if the judge would have gave me the law the way it was written I would only been found guilty of a misdemeanor.  Instead of doing two years until my appeal was approved.
I knew I would get out.  It keeps getting better as time goes along.  That is the same with recovery.  You just have to keep pushing forward.  There are going to be relapses along the way although you find out what is going wrong and you fix it.  Just like when they first put me on Geodon it kept making my fall asleep during the day until I switched it to night time.  I take it when I want to fall asleep now.  My life I believe is going on the greatest time it ever has. I write it in hopes it will rub off on other people.  I do get down but not overnight or anything.  I usually just get angry that things are not going right.  Although even if I do not wish things to get better they do.I believe it is rubbing off on my daughter usually when things go wrong she will be upset I noticed this last time she did not.  She weathered the storm and now things are a little bit better for her.  I only hope that my grandkids see things as I usually do not preach to them but show them through my actions.  They would not understand now anyway that life is a trip.  Things are not perfect but I cannot complain.  I am free and that is what I wanted most of my life as I was always locked up. Just keep pushing forward and know that hope & recovery can and will happen.