‘Mental Illness is a Myth’

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a myth. Psychiatrists are not concerned with mental illness and their treatments. In actual practice, they deal with personal, social and ethical problems of living (Szasz, 1972).

This is a question that has crossed my mind on many occasions.
‘What is this?’
‘What is happening?’

Thomas Szasz, a sociologist makes a radical proposition that mental illness is just a way of categorising people based on their behaviours – should their behaviours be ones that society disapprove of.

I have taken this to mean that, should you as an individual, not follow the norms of society and behave in a way that society deems  ‘normal’, you will then be categorised as having one illness or another.

The article I am reading goes on to explain this in a way that seems to hit the nail right on the head!

If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.

If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist but if you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic.

There is obviously controversy regarding this topic and this particular opinion. Edwin Lemert was very keen to stress that certain labels such as paranoia are constructed out of social processes and relationships, rather than being based on a medical basis. This then ties in with self fulfilling prophecies…

‘Fred is uneasy around people, which in turn makes people uneasy around Fred. After starting a new office job, Fred is invited to the staff Christmas party which he declines feeling as though the night would be an ordeal. Staff feel relieved and do not invite Fred to future social gatherings, assuming that Fred will not want to go. Fred is aware of this night out and feels excluded. Fred then reacts to this by isolating himself more and more and avoiding going into the staff room completely. This then leads to staff talking about Fred covertly, to prevent any further reactions from Fred, however, Fred is aware that people are talking about him. Fred then feel paranoid whenever he is at work.’

Lemert (1972) would argue that this is not paranoia born out of mental illness but based out of reality as Fred is being talked about. If Fred then leaves his job due to this paranoia and starts a new job, his experience will follow him and may then result in a vicious cycle. Fred may go into a new job and not have the confidence to start anew, thus he will be repeating past experiences.

 

Is mental illness based on medical opinion or social norms?

 

Cunningham, J & Cunningham, S (2013). Sociology and Social Work, Null Learning Matters (pp 20 – 22) 

Dream Trip

‘By the time I’m 30, I’ll be recovered enough to go to New York.’ 

I lost years of my life to mental illness, with the hope of one day being able to recover – the one consistent thought being ‘by the time I’m 30…’ By the time I’m 30, I’ll have recovered, faced my fear of flying and be taking a trip to New York City.

The trip of a lifetime, that is going to be filled with so many emotions and so much hope. 

I have the motivation and determination to fund this trip myself, however, there are many barriers in front of me. 

Every little helps.

 

Money has never been something that came to me, it is not something I have ever had a lot of access to and I have always been against the idea of doing this – but here we are. I am not expectant this will help or happen, however, with my finances as they are, my reliance is on my overdraft.

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

GoFundMe

11 years

“But I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore! It’s stupid! It’s mortal and stupid! And, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

 

Read more: http://www.buffyguide.com/episodes/body/bodyquotes.shtml#ixzz5tJ9H5M15

4 Years

On this day.
The clock stopped,
It read – 16.10
Such a sudden shock to the atmosphere,
It stopped time.

The day before.
A feeling,
It was 19.15
A jolt of realisation,
Calm acceptance.

The happiest of days,
All day until 18.00
A phone call,
Devastation.

I Been Standing In The Same Place For Eighteen Years

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Bestie 1: (2009)
Standing in doorways was the hardest thing I could ever do at one time. All of our gatherings were either at my house with the doors closed or me on one side and you on the other.

You went off to college and I stayed standing in the same place, never moving, never progressing. To live through questioning you: What is college like? What is it like being on a bus alone? What friendships are like when you can choose them for yourself…

One day, I asked you if you thought I could do it one day. You were always positive with your encouragement that I would not always be left standing in the same place. Until you asked me what I wanted to do…

“Dunno. Maybe psychology or something. You think I could do that?” 
“Honestly?”
“Yeah.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

 

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Bestie 2: (2016)
You helped me through it. “Come on, C. Let’s go for a walk.” Encouraging but never pushing. Any time I needed to turn back and retreat, you were with me. Only made it to the end of the driveway? “You made it to the end of the driveway, C! You’re doing great!” 

But then I recovered and the dynamic changed. I no longer needed a hand to hold every time I set foot out of that doorway. I could walk down the street and walk into a shop without needing to retreat.

“I’m thinking of applying to do this Access to Higher Education course. Not really sure what it’s about but I think it helps with Uni and stuff.”
“Don’t do it.”
“Why?”
“It isn’t worth it.”
“It’s psychology and stuff, I’ve always been really interested in that kinda thing.”
“Yeah. It’s your thing. It’ll interest you and you’ll leave.”
“What?”
“It’ll open doors for you and you’ll go. You aren’t going to stay around here, are you? You’ll leave and I’ll miss you.” 
“My plan has always been to leave.”
“I know, but now it’s real. Don’t do it.”

 

The dialogue from Fences between Troy and Rose has always spoken to me. This morning a thought entered my head that perhaps it spoke to me because, for a time, it was me and it could have been me for much longer if I had felt a bigger need to put my closest friends before myself. 

My two closest friends believed without a doubt that I would get better one day, or they at least portrayed such a belief. In the years following, however, they were not so keen on my decreasing need for dependence. What was once two very strong, positive friendships suddenly became volatile and hurtful. A lot of deceit that had been previously hidden came to light… their only reason being “we were protecting you!”

 

The guilt felt from putting myself first and walking away is slowly fading, although, I am unsure if it shall ever truly fade completely.

 

FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.

 …It’s not easy for me to admit that I been standing in the same place for eighteen years.

…I been standing with you! I been right here with you.
( http://www.iupui.edu/~elit/fences/fen21txt.html )

220px-Fences_(August_Wilson_play_-_script_cover)( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fences_(play) )

 

It Still Hurts

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The hospital is dark, only the dimmest of lights flickering. That ever-present hospital smell floats around her like an ominous mist. Walking slowly down the corridor, her right boot squeaks, the sound seemingly amplified in the stillness around her. Glancing down at the offending boot, she takes notice of her clothes, as though she was not previously aware of such things. Her black jeans, tucked into her black boots, feel tighter than she remembers them being. A stark contrast to the baggy summer top under her open plaid shirt that is hanging off her frame.

Walking past the nurse’s station, she glances to her left, the bay is eerily silent. All but one of the eight beds shrouded in darkness, the lone occupant seemingly asleep with an almost translucent light surrounding her. Slowly approaching the bed, she notices how strange it is to see the lady, not in a hospital gown, but her own clothes. Taking in the appearance of the familiar navy trousers and that white shirt with its blue flowered pattern brings a feeling of sentimentality. Leaning down over the bed, she kisses her forehead, tears in her eyes as she pulls a chair forward from behind her.

Bright blue eyes open and meet her misty ones, “You look like my Sophie. But older.” Her voice is so soft and unsure, it breaks her heart.

“It’s okay, you’re just dreaming.” She reaches over for the hand resting on the bed.

“I’m dying.”

She nods slowly, “yes.”

“I worry about you. How you’ll be.”

“I know. I’m fine. I miss you, I always will but there are times where I feel you with me and it is such a strong feeling that I can’t even attempt to brush it off as me just being hopeful.”

“I’ll always be with you, sweetheart.”

“You know, at some point, you told mum that she shouldn’t worry about me because you knew I would be okay…”

“I know you will be.”

“I never thought I would be.”

“We raised you to be. You’re a fighter, whether you want to be or not.”

“It still hurts. I always miss you.”

The grip on her hand tightens, thin fingers wrapping around her palm, “and I you. Always.”

Her head drops to their clasped hands, tears leaking freely from her eyes. She feels a hand in her hair, comforting in a way that is almost foreign to her now, “I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetheart. So much.”

She raises her head, sight blurry as she lays a soft kiss to the hand she holds. A cold hand reaches out and places some fallen hairs back behind her ear, “Tell me about your life now.”

“I’m a social worker. I work with children with similar problems to the ones I had.”

A content smile and a knowing look is her response, a slow nod of the head that she reads as approval, “Married?”

She shakes her head quickly, “No. I couldn’t get past the idea of not being able to walk down the aisle with you and grandad there.”

“We’ll be there. Maybe not physically, but we will be there. It isn’t something either of us would ever miss, sweetheart. Please, don’t let that stop you if you have someone special in your life.”

“Visiting hours are over in 10 minutes, ladies.” A strong voice surprises them from the hallway.

“I think that’s your cue.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s okay. Go. Go back to your life.”

“Love you.”

“I love you too.”

Standing up, leaning over one last time to place a kiss on her forehead, she starts to walk backwards. She keeps eye contact for as long as she can before she’s no longer in her sight, turning to walk back down the silent corridor.

 

 

I was wanting to work on my tenses – and also on writing something that hurts… this is what happened (Part 1 of 2)