Getting Treatment is Everyone’s Right

I used to be the Health Guide at HealthCentral’s schizophrenia website for the last nine years.

I reported on the seven diagnostic tools that are to be used to rule out or confirm a person has schizophrenia.

One woman wrote a memoir Brain on Fire. She documented how an astute MD correctly diagnosed her sudden illness that caused psychotic symptoms as being something other than schizophrenia.

I’ve also reported at HealthCentral on the body of long-term research that indicates 25 percent of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia can achieve remission without medication.

I’ve been in remission over 23 years because I take medication.

And even though I’ve written elsewhere that a minority of people don’t need to take medication I’m still attacked.

My point is this: if you are able to choose not to take medication and still be able to function: that’s different. You’re in the minority.

My concern is this: for a significant number of people with schizophrenia who have anosognosia or that is the lack of insight that they have an illness: going without treatment is the quickest route to life-long disability.

I will go to my grave advocating that psychosis is NOT a normal life experience that people should want to experience the rest of their lives. Most people who are psychotic cannot function.

Yes: I dare say the treatment focus should be on individuals who have chronic mental illnesses.

Individuals with chronic schizophrenia who need effective treatment should not be left by the side of the road to fend for themselves while their symptoms worsen and ravage their mind.

Individuals with schizophrenia who are capable of going to work or school should not be told recovery is not possible.

Whatever camp a person is in: none of us should be told that we should accept psychosis as the outcome for the rest of our lives. And this is too often the message we’re being given: don’t take pills. Be proud to be psychotic.

We’re told our lives don’t matter.

While I was employed at HealthCentral I was not a rubber stamp. I didn’t tell people what they might have wanted to hear: that it’s okay not to take medication and it’s okay to disregard upholding the social covenant to act as a responsible citizen.

I wrote easily nine years ago that when it became clear I needed to take medication that I gave up my rights to do what I wanted. Most of all: I don’t want to be psychotic. Psychosis is not a right. It’s a disease.

You’re psychotic: you have the right to get treatment. You don’t deserve to wind up sick, jailed, or homeless. Everyone is worth saving.

I don’t care if only a tiny minority of people are sick, jailed, or homeless. It’s high time these people get treatment.

The Oregon shooter might not have had a mental illness. He might have been a psychopath.

Yet we can no longer be shocked at mass shootings. Outrage without action won’t heal or help individuals who should’ve gotten help in the first place.

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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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