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Mental Health. Treatment and Stigma.

Some people feel as if a diagnosis somehow labels them, diminishes them and leaves them open to prejudice. I couldn’t be further from this position. I think that owning a diagnosis and not skirting around it is ultimately empowering, allowing you to take steps to deal with what needs dealt with.   

I really did enjoy Elle’s last post. She always shows such great insight when tackling a subject matter. Obviously a huge part of dealing with mental health issues is stigma. I’ve been with a mental health condition for twenty two years and have only decided to talk openly about it since last July. Deep down I can’t help but admit this has to be related to concerns over how people would perceive me. The happy truth is people in general have been really positive. Several have told me how they had no idea how these things have impacted on my life. Things have changed a lot since back in the 1990’s. Back then I would never even mention I’d been diagnosed with a serious condition, never mind discussing how it affected me. Even with those close around me there was a general feeling of we don’t talk about such things.

There’s a lot of woolly mindedness that goes along with taking a treatment each day. There are entire movements out there that say if you’re taking a treatment you’re not really dealing with the problem, you’re just masking it. I believe such thinking to be utter bullshit and dangerous. It was through taking a treatment that I was able to return to some semblance of normality in my life. I never mention what it is I take as different things work for different people. For me taking a treatment is quite simple. If it’s raining you put a coat on, the same simplicity applies to medicinal therapy. There is evidence to suggest these conditions we have are genetic and there is strong evidence to say they are treatable.

Tom Cruise and his Scientology cultists like to remark that taking such treatments is the work of the Devil. These are people who also believe they belong to an elite race of beings and one day a spaceship is going to arrive and take the most worthy to paradise. I know…and it’s me who’s on medication. Maybe if Tom took a pill he’d relax long enough to realise he’s gay…joking of course…I’m not so sure gay people are allowed on the spaceship. As I say the point is, there’s a lot of woolly minded bullshit out there.

It took a long time for me to find a treatment that worked for me. I’ve been on mine for around nine years now and the sense of relief it brings is huge. I’ve also had treatments that have had awful side effects. Akathisia or ‘The Devils Legs’ as it can be called, was among the worst. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say.

Akathisia is a movement disorder characterized by a feeling of inner restlessness and inability to stay still.[1][3] Usually the legs are most prominently affected.[2] People may fidget, rock back and forth, or pace.[4] Other may just feel uneasy.[2]Complications include suicide.[2]  Antipsychotics, particularly the first generation antipsychotics, are a leading cause.

The very first treatment I took caused this in me. It was the worst. An inner feeling telling me I had to get up and keep walking. It’s nearly impossible to describe let alone relate to. What was worse in this situation was the fact that because I was newly diagnosed people around me thought I was walking about everywhere because of my condition, not because of the treatment. Thankfully the condition is also treatable and with another medication the doctors managed to stop it. But the reason I’m putting this info here is in the hope someone new to treatment, who is experiencing side effects, might see this and know what’s going on with them can be fixed. I don’t want to come across as all brave new world here. I’m not saying that we can solve everything by taking a pill. However, what I am saying is end the stigma associated with such stuff…And fuck Tom Cruise…weirdo!

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