Airplane Crash

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the Germanwings airplane crash that the pilot Andreas Lubtiz allegedly intentionally crashed after having psychiatric problems.

It greatly upsets me that this happened and I’m conflicted about using this news account to speak out to tell my story of how getting the right treatment right away results in a better outcome.

The news accounts claim the pilot had ripped up a medical note that barred him from flying that day. He was also thought to have eyesight problems along with possibly depression. Is it possible he had depression with psychotic features? Or a depression so severe he wanted to take his own life and that of others?

The investigators are diligently researching the options for why this horrific plane crash happened. They won’t rule anything out or settle on one of the options until they have exhausted the investigation.

A woman I consulted told me I could write about how I’ve been in remission from schizophrenia for over 22 years. How I’ve taken my medication every day as prescribed for over 22 years now. How I’ve been a public service librarian for going on 15 years.

As it stands, the intentional crash stigmatizes all over again individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses.

Yet one thing stands out that I can tell you and I will tell anyone when it comes to mental illness: taking a “wait-and-see” approach to see if the symptoms get worse is not the solution. Too often, doctors fear or simply refuse giving a diagnosis early in treatment and they don’t prescribe any kind of treatment at all: the wait-and-see if it gets worse tactic.

Only: by the time a person does get treatment it’s often too late to halt the symptoms and the person will remain symptomatic the rest of their lives.

What I just wrote in the above sentence is a contention I’m willing to state now and in the future over and over again: that early intervention results in a better outcome. That early intervention halts a person from revolving in and out hospitals for years and years like happens to a lot of people that don’t get the right treatment right away.

I met a person who delayed seeking help for a non-psychiatric medical condition until it was too late and the person’s condition had worsened. It’s not ever a good idea to delay treatment.

The list goes on and on of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, who didn’t get help until years after their symptoms first occurred, who continue to have major ongoing episodes.

Psychiatrists, in delaying treatment, are complicit in fostering disability.

I’ll end here on this note:

Take your medication if you need it to be well. You don’t have to be ashamed if you have a mental illness.

And that the Germanwings pilot is the exception not the rule.

More often that not individuals diagnosed with psychiatric conditions hide in plain sight.

We’re librarians, social workers, executive directors, CEOs and other citizens whose illnesses are kept in check because we’re getting the right treatment and we’re getting effective treatment.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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