The Truth About Early Intervention

I often wonder if I get flak because I have a vagina–that is, because I’m a woman speaking out and not a man with the proper plumbing down below speaking out.

In this blog entry I’m going to tell the truth about early intervention. It works. Period.

You can click on my RAISE Study category to read about research that indicates getting the right treatment right away results in a better outcome.

The PIER early intervention program in Maine had great success OVER A DECADE AGO. One woman no longer needed to take medication long-term after being treated in the early intervention program.

In my own life I was on a very low dose for 16 years–only 5 mg. The longer you wait to get treated you might need a higher dose and the medication might not be as effective because your symptoms are entrenched.

Here today I wanted to continue talking about getting the right treatment right away.

Too many people with mental health issues who don’t get treatment right away turn to street drugs to self-medicate. This makes having a better recovery harder and sometimes impossible to achieve.

It’s high time (an apt pun) to legalize marijuana use. Non-violent drug offenders need long-term addiction and mental health treatment not a lengthy jail sentence.

Years ago at HealthCentral I wrote about something I called The Triangle of Mental Health: having a support system, getting appropriate medication, and obtaining practical career counseling.

The RAISE Study findings corroborated that the Triangle of Mental Health is a key factor in achieving a positive recovery outcome.

In my life I’m not afraid to state that taking a low dose of medication has given me a competitive advantage in achieving my goals and having a full and robust life.

For some of us like me medication heals. For others they are lucky and don’t need medication as a continuing part of treatment.

Either way the time has come to tell our stories of how getting the right treatment right away aided us in having a better recovery.

I’m not the only success story out there.

Yet I’m confident when I say that giving up hope isn’t ever an option.

Some of us even have miraculous recoveries after years of being ill.

I know people who were at the bottom and their lives turned around.

Giving up hope isn’t an option.

Either way recovery is possible.

I stand by my belief that recovery is possible.

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To Thine Own Self Be True

I’d like to expand on the last blog entry.

Recovery is an individual lifestyle for each of us.

Each of us has a divine purpose for being here in this particular lifetime.

You are here to do You better than anyone else could.

I’m here to do Chris because she’s the only person I get to be too.

Really I do think getting the right treatment right away has enabled me to have a better life.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy for anyone of us. Yet nothing worth having comes without effort.

Giving up on ourselves or our loved ones isn’t an option.

The fact is recovery is still possible even if you got delayed treatment. Positive change is possible at any point in your life or your loved one’s life.

What becomes the option if you or your loved one got delayed treatment?

Developing work-arounds to use to have as happy and healthy a life as possible given that you might have it harder.

Settling for less than optimal health is the route to a miserable life.

Sometimes you have to fire a treatment provider–either yours or your loved one’s–and find a better shrink or therapist who’s more competitive in wanting to see their patients do better.

In my memoir Left of the Dial there’s a scene where I have to flee an unprofessional doctor and seek treatment elsewhere.

I don’t advocate being rash in doing this. Yet if your intuition tells you and in your judgment you think you’re not getting the best possible care:

I recommend researching new providers.

Resources to Recover in the NY NJ CT MA area has a provider referral directory.

Family member and peer-reviewed recommendations are available on the Resources to Recover website.

Like I said I will go to my grave championing getting the right treatment right away.

In a coming blog entry I will talk about my experience as a family member of a loved one as well as a peer with her own lived experience.

Acting as Citizen Activists

In my Left of the Dial blog at least twice in the last three years and possibly also here in the Flourish blog:

I’ve railed against placing our hope in the government as the savior of the broken-down mental health system.

What I wrote in these exact words: the government can’t rectify societal ills. I wrote these exact words too: change will best happen person-to-person.

As the Visionary I am two nights ago I got a novel idea in my head to create CMHAC’s–Citizen Mental Health Action Committees.

These groups could act as watchdogs to pressure those in power to do the right thing.

People have to band together to have each other’s backs in America when the government, authorities and institutions, and elected officials won’t and can’t help ordinary folk.

We need United Citizens to fight the Citizens United decision that allows corporations to influence campaigns and help vote into power officials that remain in the pockets of Big Business not in the corner of you and me.

Let’s face facts:

It took three years to get Representative Murphy’s Mental Health Act passed into law.

It took decades for Americans to obtain some semblance of a Mental Healthcare Parity law.

How long will we have to wait before our government is forced to do the next right thing for the people?

The jails-as-mental-hospitals phenomenon has been going on for over a decade now.

I’m tiring of hearing about the lack of treatment. I’m tiring of hearing people talk about how jails-are-mental-hospitals without being able to implement a solution.

This weekend I reached out to give information about resources. I wasn’t going to bobble along and do nothing.

The Margaret Mead quote gets it right:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Acting as Citizen Activists is the goal whose time has come.

It’s time to take action.

We need the best and brightest to come on board as mental health staff.

For too long mediocre individuals have been treating us peers.

For too long the government has allowed all kinds of businesses to be unregulated.

Board-and-care homes are unregulated. The drug treatment rehab center industry is unregulated.

The lack of the right treatment  is the norm not the exception.

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.

Which is why I had the courage to step up and want to help do something.

I align only with the Green Party.

This year I plan to get involved with Green Party candidates that I know to work on issues like mental health and decriminalizing street drug use.

Remember: we get who we vote for.

“I’m done” with standing by and not doing anything.

The Myth of Having Dangerous Gifts

It’s a myth that mental health issues are “dangerous gifts.”

Trust me there are people who love having mental health conditions.

I’m not one of them.

SZ is a burden, not a gift. It’s hell. It’s painful to bear. More than dangerous it’s simply destructive.

If I could live one minute without SZ I’d take back all the true gifts I was given–like my writing talent and anything else–for one minute of freedom.

I’d like to know what it’s like to be accepted; to be understood; to be given compassion not screw-faced looks.

I take no joy in passing as a normal person.

Meg Jay, PhD wrote a new book about people who compensate for their hardship:

Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience.

You can take the quiz in the book to see if you fit the supernormal criteria.

We’re in this camp because those of us who faced hardship work longer and harder to achieve what comes easy to regular so-called “normal” people.

We’ve compensated for our early hardship by yes passing for normal when our lives were anything but ordinary.

There’s a solution to accepting and embracing a life with SZ or BP or whatever you have.

Helping others is the foolproof way I know to help yourself have a better life.

“Service above self” is the antidote to pain.

Just remember: I don’t think our pain is a dangerous gift.

Talking About Treatment Choice

In my Google Alerts yesterday I received a link to a revolutionary article posted on The Sun website. Now I don’t know the politics of The Sun, yet you can bet I’m more than willing to link to the article that appeared in my inbox.

I stopped taking SZ medication in 1992 under a doctor’s supervision. Yet even though I had a mild form I relapsed within 3 months and had to go back on the Stelazine. It’s why I choose to take a maintenance dose of Geodon every day.

It’s why I’m going to link at the end of this blog entry to an article in The Sun online.

My ancestors arrived here in the 1890s from Italy. Yes, mental health issues have run in my family since the 1890s–no kidding, this is a fact.

The quote is: “Genetics is the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.”

We each of us deserve better than to be told we’re wrong for choosing how we want to live. This choice might include taking medication for those of us who need it. We each of us have the right to choose recovery in whatever form our recovery takes.

Here’s the link to the revolutionary article in The Sun:

Neurotypicals Need to Cool It with the Advice

Alternative Careers

librarian book cover

I recommend getting a library job as an alternative career to working in retail or working in a cubicle in an office.

Those of us without a library degree can get a job as a clerk in a library.

Or better yet those of us with great computer skills can get a tech position in a library.

This is because a lot of libraries aren’t hiring clerks anymore. Libraries today are creating tech support positions.

As the book cover attests, libraries attract a diverse crowd.

I started my new career when I was 35. It’s not ever too late to change gears.

This is a good thing to do when you’re having a hard time in your first career.

Mid life gives us the opportunity to change our lives for the better.

Like I’ve always championed:

It’s a kind of mental health treatment to have a job you love.

The book is interesting. You can check it out of the library if you can’t afford to buy it.

Recovery is an Open Door

Tonight I’ve changed the wording in a couple of sentences in the book description for Left of the Dial on Amazon.com.

You live–you change your mind. I deleted the reference to achieving a “pre-illness dream.” I replaced it with wording that you can have your own version of a full and robust life.

Going on over two years since the memoir was published I’ve learned something profound, more realistic, and hopeful in terms of what is possible:

That when we get older we can discover that we have a new talent that we didn’t have before we got sick.

This is the real hope. The truth is that the illness can attenuate for a lot of us in our older years. So the point isn’t that to be considered successful we must–or can–achieve our pre-illness dreams.

The point is that I didn’t achieve my pre-illness dream of getting a Masters’ in Journalism.

This is the far more remarkable thing: that a person can have better life after they’ve had a breakdown than before. And this life isn’t always the one we wanted or expected to have.

Nothing succeeds like persistence. Recovery isn’t quick and it isn’t easy–it’s challenging and hard at times. Yet it can be a beautiful expression of the potential within each of us to do some kind of personally meaningful “work”–paid or not.

There’s an ending to the expression: “When one door closes, another door opens.” It’s this: “Yet we often look so longingly at the door that closed that we don’t see the one opening before us.”

It’s a mistake to regret what cannot be. It’s a gift to embrace what life has in store for us when we dare to walk through the open door.

No one else has stated in these exact words what I’ll be the first person to tell you now:

Recovery is an open door.