At times when experiencing disturbing ‘paranoid’ thoughts, how reassuring it was to have trusted and trusting friends who did not deny my sense of reality. They might well have doubted some of the content of my conversation!
Entrusting my thoughts to the psychiatrist who was responsible for my treatment plan was hard. I’d had no previous contact with him, neither had I any previous psychiatric history. Despite working within mainstream constraints he was kindly and willing to concede ‘a kernel of truth’ is always present in ‘bizarre’ thinking, this proved a comfort to me. Although the state of mind I was in proved chaotic I managed to keep some things ‘close to my chest’. The saying ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ applied, had I entrusted him with the ‘whole truth’ of the events I’d experienced, and which led me in to his presence, I might well have appeared more bizarre, whatever that means. This might have led to receiving a different diagnosis, as it was the label, ‘ bi-polar 1’, was ‘attached’…..yes, the DSM considers there are differing types! “Oh!” I thought, “I’ve only got grade 1”, after looking at the criteria for them, I considered I’d rather have been a 2 or 3,….. preferably none.
Over the last 11 years I’ve been trying to find ways how best to describe the experience of breakdown. Events surrounding the onset of the first ‘blip’ were overwhelmingly out of the context of my usual everyday experience. The process of breaking ‘down/up/through’ patterns of thought enabled me to reorder and process them. My existing preferred mode of being had become untenable, no longer useful. How I wish there had been a system in place that allowed this to happen with limited use of medication or electro-convulsive therapy.
Years before I’d seen someone close to me receive a psychiatric label, it was only in recent that the diagnosis was revoked. The person’s current psychiatrist was of the opinion that schizophrenia, was an outdated term, and that it had previously been used ‘conveniently’ to categorise and lump together people with serious social problems. In addition this psychiatrist also saw no point in the prolonged use of medication for my loved one’s ‘psychotic’ symptoms. However enlightened and progressive this particular doctor is, and I believe he is not a lone voice, other support professionals working alongside him continued to use those terms in connection with my loved one. It has not engendered my trust in services.
If someone becomes vulnerable for whatever reason, retaining a healthy dose of skepticism for those who exert influence on their well being might be a useful defense.