Hi, there. Thanks for visiting. I'm starting this blog as an advocate for mental and physical health. I'm a freelance writer and also own a home based medical transcription business. I was diagnosed in 1978 with paranoid schizophrenia and started to become acutely ill three years prior to that, unmedicated, frightened, confused, and in trouble with the law. I graduated from university with distinction the year I became ill. I've never regretted learning how to think at university. I struggled with my illness for 35 years and have reached the top of the mountain now, I think, or the other side, where the grass is greener and the path easier. There's hope for all of us, the whole human race, and never think there isn't hope or joy no matter your circumstances. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with mental illness in all its forms: depression, brain injury, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety disorders, etc. and your positive experiences as well as those lies and half truths society and even therapists would have us believe about ourselves.

We are different folks, and we are beautiful. The whole human race is beautiful. Let's celebrate life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meanderings of a senior mind

I notice I have a small group of lovely followers, and I'm proud and happy to call them friends. I'd welcome any more comments from anyone. I volunteer with a charitable organization as a "friendly visitor" and today sent the volunteer coordinator a link to this blog. There are no secrets in my world.

A friend (Sue) has suggested I link to other blogs or sites with similar interests, and I'll look around and if I find any that seem suitable I'll ask for permission to link to their site. Sue mentioned strength in numbers and indeed, if you check her profile, you'll find a link to her blog, The Bramble Patch, which is certainly worthwhile.

I still have to figure out (or be told) how to put links into "Different Folks". In the meantime, I'll simply cut and paste here another article I wrote which I'm trying to get published in a mainstream journal or newspaper. It hasn't been edited so might be rough but it reads as follows:

My Struggle With "Split Mind"
by Kenna McKinnon

I don't know if my experience with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia is different from anyone else's. I know how I can get, even on regular doses of psychotropic medication, which I take without fail. My body chemistry can act up anyhow. But most of the time I'm like anyone else; you wouldn't know I have a diagnosis of a serious mental illness. Schizophrenia. "Split mind". No, I'm not a "split personality". That's a misapprehension. Rather, when I become ill, my thoughts become fragments like confetti sweeping in a windstorm through the tunnels of my tortured brain. I become confused, disoriented, frightened. And very suspicious. The motives of others seem sinister and threatening. I feel threatened. The world is hostile. My best friends appear to be enemies. I react with confusion and anger.
Be calm. I won't hurt you. I'm a frightened animal at those times. Approach me gently, as you would a wounded deer. Realize my physical boundaries may have expanded. Don't attempt to touch me or invade my boundaries. Sometimes even being in the same room with someone else is too confining for me, too close. Threatening. You are dealing with a frightened human being. Be gentle, be calm; don't be afraid to call the police if a mentally disturbed individual appears violent or not amenable to reason. Most police officers now are trained to deal with the mentally ill. They will likely take her for a psychiatric evaluation, to a hospital, to a doctor. For help. Perhaps to re-evaluate her medications and available therapy. So to particulars of the reality of her world, the hospitals, the jails, the friends and family who do not understand -- she will welcome the help in most cases, in particular if she is homeless or drug dependent and has no place to go. The mentally ill are often turned out on the street now to fend for themselves. Homeless, unmedicated, they medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol, they beg and busk and collect bottles for a living. They talk to themselves on the street or the bus. They sleep on park benches and in bus shelters. They wheel their earthly possessions in purloined shopping carts. Some ride bicycles trailed by rough homemade wagons. Some are on pensions for the severely handicapped. Others turn to shoplifting or petty crime. The majority are harmless. There but for the grace of God go I. I was fortunate. I had a job. I had friends and family. I had help. My genes are strong and resilient. I am high functioning. I respond well to my medication. Others are not so privileged. I never forget where I came from.
We need understanding and love like anyone, but more particularly when we are down and out. We have learned tolerance and compassion. We don't give up, those of us who have chosen to live and live well, but many of us have low self-esteem. Give us a gentle smile. Give us a helping hand but expect us to help ourselves. We are self correcting. Present reality to us in a patient, firm manner and reassure us we are not in danger. Suggest we evaluate the efficacy of our medication. And laugh with us. We all have developed a wonderful sense of humor; a sense of the ridiculous and sublime; a sense that we are a jest of God.
I am responsible but not responsible. Therein lies the paradox. My persona at times of extreme illness may frighten you. Don't be frightened.
I am a wounded deer, looking into a mirror where the wolves of my illness abound, and then the wolves howl once or twice at the surge of Fluanxol through my bloodstream, at a positive caring word from a friend or stranger, and slink back into my brain -- now approaching the subconscious, approaching the limits of humanity -- where there is a human being in need of understanding and compassion. Now the wolves are gone and I remain head up and somewhat ashamed, tolerance and love renewed for myself and my friends and family. "Split" no more; whole, kind, loving -- I am you.

1 comment:

  1. What an excellent article! It's so helpful to glimpse the effects of this illness from the view point of the person in trauma! I've known you for years, Kenna, yet gained much insight and understanding from reading this. Good work!