Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Worst Part Of Schizophrenia Isn’t What You Think It Is

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today.  This will be a three part series. "'Brandon Staglin lost touch with reality in the summer of 1990, after his freshman year of college. His first serious relationship had just broken down. Back home in Walnut Creek, California, he was struggling to find a summer job. That’s when the voices became impossible to ignore. 'Baby Brandon!' they taunted. 'Mixed-up kid!' Staglin couldn’t sleep and thought that a wall had come down inside his head, leaving the right side hollow. 'I felt I’d lost half of my spirit,' Staglin told BuzzFeed News. So he covered his right eye with his hand, fearful that a new personality would fill the void if he let any experiences in. Delusional thinking like this, often accompanied by voices and other hallucinations, is a classic symptom of the psychosis that grips people with schizophrenia. Travis Webster’s lowest ebb also came when he was 18, back in 2013. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which combines psychosis with wild mood swings, he’d stopped taking his medication. That led to a conflict with his parents: Webster thought they were conspiring against him, despite their efforts to help. He was filling out a restraining order against his family when two police officers and a social worker knocked on his door in downtown San Diego.'" Yeah I remember when I had psychosis for the second time all I did was lay in bed. I did not understand what was happening to me.  Even though I had my first breakdown in prison.  Then the psychiatrist just said I needed sleep and put me on Halcyon.
The article goes on to say: "'Things quickly got out of hand, as the former high school water polo player resisted the officers’ attempts to restrain him. 'I am 6-foot-5, 220 pounds,' Webster told BuzzFeed News. 'The cops were so small.” He punched one of them in the face and was sentenced to two months in the county jail. Travis Webster at his mother’s house in La Jolla, California. Ariana Drehsler for BuzzFeed News ID: 9240472 Life has gotten better for both Staglin and Webster. Today, their psychosis is controlled by medication, and they’ve become advocates for mental health: Staglin helps run the One Mind Institute, a research organization set up by his family, and Webster speaks about his experiences in schools. But silencing the voices and banishing delusions doesn’t mean that everything is OK. Once high-flying students, both men’s grades went into free fall when they were gripped by psychosis. And even after those symptoms were under control, they found it hard to concentrate on their studies. Hallucinations and delusions may be the public face of schizophrenia, but the hidden cognitive symptoms — which include difficulty focusing on mental tasks, understanding speech, and remembering what just happened — make it very hard for people with the condition to live satisfying, productive lives." I remember when the police arrested me they had to hold me down and one officer said I tore his pocket when they were trying to arrest me.  I had never fought the police before.
The article ends: "They might hear voices and learn not to respond to them,” Cameron Carter of the University of California, Davis, a specialist in the cognitive aspects of schizophrenia, told BuzzFeed News. But it’s hard to follow people’s conversations if you literally can’t process what they’re saying. And there’s no compensating for an inability to concentrate. Staglin and Webster, together with dozens of other volunteers, have found some relief, however, by playing computer games designed to strengthen their mental abilities. They have participated in trials led by Sophia Vinogradov and her colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which draw from research into 'neuroplasticity' — the idea that the brain changes in response to how it is used. This means that neural circuits can be strengthened through mental training, much like an athlete builds muscle by pumping iron at the gym. The games are designed by a company called Posit Science, launched by one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity, Michael Merzenich, also at UCSF. They automatically adjust their difficulty so that players succeed on only around 80% of the tasks. Improve your performance, and the game gets harder. If your concentration slips, the tasks get a little easier until you’re back in the groove."  The games must be better than the one I tried six years ago.  All it did was improve your memory. My memory is pretty good with numbers although math is a different subject that I cannot do.  My tutor use to say he remembers it good when were sitting here but once he walks out the door he cannot remember all we learned.

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