Incarceration Nation

Not a week goes by where I don’t think “It could’ve been me.”

This is because: it could’ve been me who wound up in jail after breaking into a Pizza Hut while symptomatic.

The fact is I received the right treatment right away. It’s remarkable that my mother drove me to the hospital within 24 hours. What’s more miraculous was that I was given medication right after that and within 3 weeks when I was released the symptoms had stopped.

Should the guy who self-amputated his tongue while involved in the prison system be told by the Mad in America flunkies that he shouldn’t take medication?

He was lucid enough to call for help and report that he was symptomatic. Instead of being sent to a hospital he was sent to jail. Not given treatment there he could no longer hold onto his grasp of logical thinking.

After 3 weeks in prison he crossed over and believed what his ill mind told him to do.

We’ve crossed a line in society too. I fear that justice won’t ever be restored for MH peers. I’m starting to think no one else wants MH peers to get better. Less slices of the American pie that need to be shared right?

ForĀ  awhile after my memoir Left of the Dial was published I struggled with the disclosure via the graphic relapse scene of what happened to me.

Now I see that rendering this event so vividly dramatizes what happens when a line is crossed.

As someone who lived to tell her story I want to ask you to join the Where’s NAMI Facebook group. There you can be given the details about this horrific miscarriage of mental health treatment. You can join the movement to help the family afflicted by this loved one’s descent into chronic symptoms.

I consider jailing a person instead of giving them MH treatment to be a form of malpractice. Everyone involved should be legally held accountable.

A CIT–Crisis Intervention Team–should be a routine response to the scene where a symptomatic individual has committed a crime.

Every jurisdiction in America should also have a Mental Health Court like Brooklyn, NY does where I live. Here symptomatic defendants are tried in a separate courtroom in a more human way.

What if? I ask you. What if more people got the right treatment within 24 hours like I did?

What if we were treated like human beings equal to others in society?

Instead of being seen as competition for the jobs, services, and rights that every other American takes for granted.

What if?

For an expose of this decades-long trend I recommend you read Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness a just-published book.

Criminalizing individuals with mental illness has been only par for the course.

In America–Incarceration Nation–it’s easier and more expedient to lock up in jail any kind of “throwaway” person to get them out of the way.

This has to stop. Pronto.

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Mental Healthcare Change

To start a more productive conversation about mental healthcare change we must talk about the root of societal ills: the economic growth model exposed in my Left of the Dial blog recently.

America–a capitalist society–has as its economic foundation the growth model.

Only the economic growth model is ravaging the earth, causing resource depletion, and human rights violations too.

This economic model has also created a prison employment sector that exploits “the justice-involved”: incarcerated individuals, their families, and communities.

It’s the “school-to-prison” complex that disproportionately has a greater effect on low-income communities and people traditionally called minorities. (I detest using the word minority to describe a person.)

I’m thinking now about how to create positive lasting changes. As I’ve not ever thought our government will ever be invested in catering to ordinary citizens instead of Citizens United corporations.

How then can we get positive mental healthcare change enacted? What can we do? Talking about injustices hasn’t corrected this imbalance of power.

Today peers are still criminalized, winding up in jail not treatment for crimes committed while symptomatic. While in jail there’s no medication given. That’s how a guy with SZ was able to self-amputate his tongue while locked up.

It’s no joke.

All of this is ultimately linked to the economic growth model. The prison industry actors make tons of money when people are jailed–and these corporations have the big bucks to lobby the government to do their bidding.

“Anything to make a buck” is the prevailing ethic of capitalist America.

Psych hospitals have been closing down for decades now. In New York City where 8 million people live there are only 112 psych beds available for those of us in crisis.

Insurance companies offer limited psych coverage–so psych hospitals won’t get rich treating patients. Even hospitals operate on an economic growth model!

What’s not right is that in America profits come before people. As long as profits come before serving humanity, no societal ills will ever be vanquished.

Those of us who have the big bucks and want to serve humanity should consider running for elected office. Those of us with the big bucks should consider opening up and operating a psych hospital.

Until this imbalance of power is reversed (I fear it won’t ever be) we have to continue to exert pressure on our elected officials.

Join your local Community Board, get active in mental health and other initiatives in your community.

You’re Not an MD So Stop Giving Medical Advice

Chris Bruni is not an MD. I refuse to give medical advice.

Telling someone to discontinue their medication and offering a method to do so is practicing medicine without a license.

I’m not here to tell people what they should do. The story I tell–the only one I have to give–is my story. I can and will talk about how taking the SZ medication every day enabled me to be in remission for over 25 years so far.

A friend of mine who doesn’t have SZ I consider to be my soul mate. He discontinued his psych medication under supervision and is perfectly fine years later.

What gladdens me is that although he’s been successful he doesn’t give people medical advice. He thinks most people with SZ need to take medication.

My friend hasn’t attacked me–like so many anti-psychiatry folk have done–for choosing to take pills.

I want to be very clear to readers now: telling people they should discontinue their medication is practicing medicine without a license.

At this point I won’t even tell people they must take medication because as said I’m not an MD.

We can only share our stories with each other. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want to do.

If someone asked me I would tell them that I think discontinuing SZ medication is too risky to chance it. That’s my belief and my friend’s belief.

You can decide for yourself if this makes sense to you. You have the choice.

Yet I also think that choosing psychosis over health is a big mistake.

No one I know who discontinued their SZ pills got better. They started hearing voices again. (I’m lucky I didn’t ever hear voices.)

Yet even stating this I cannot tell you or anyone else what to do or how to do it.

I urge you if you’re a paid peer specialist as your job not to dispense medical advice without a license. You’re not an MD. You’re not licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to talk about practical career information again.

My goal is to publish You Are Not Your Diagnosis in October 2018 which is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Rodney Dangerfield and Mental Health Peers

Rodney Dangerfield the 1980s comedian and mental health peers have one thing in common: we get No Respect.

You can Google Rodney Dangerfield No Respect and watch his 1979 video on YouTube where he’s doing his No Respect stand-up act on TV.

Outsiders love to parrot that people with SZ die 25 years earlier and have a higher mortality rate. They balk that we don’t receive the medical care we need.

I’ll tell you why we don’t get the right medical care: M.D.s don’t want to treat us when we show up with a physical complaint.

After a guy I know toldĀ  a new primary care doctor that he had SZ the M.D. refused to accept him as a patient. The doctor had alerted his receptionist to tell my friend this. As soon as he arrived at the front desk she told the guy he had to seek treatment elsewhere.

M.D.s don’t take people seriously when we have mental issues. They think our physical complaints are all in our head. Or they think we’re lying.

Elyn Saks the famous SZ author needed an operation. After telling the M.D.s she had SZ they wouldn’t treat her after all. Yet without getting the operation she had a greater risk of dying.

In this climate even those of us with the confidence to seek medical treatment for other issues are denied treatment.

Sadly no one else except you and me has a vested interest in our health and fitness.

We’re left to our own devices to heal ourselves. We’re left on our own with hardly any integrated healthcare resources for our convenient access.

Whatever you do refrain from diagnosing yourself via a Google search for the symptoms you’re having. You should not be complicit in the sorry state of healthcare in America. You can’t treat yourself. Most illnesses you can’t cure totally on your own.

Doctors need to do their jobs. We need to hold them accountable for treating us. We need to hold them accountable for their bedside manner.

Getting Into the Gym Groove

Round about the New Year a lot of people join gyms across America.

There’s a guaranteed way to persist at your fitness goals.

Read the book Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions. It can help you succeed when you execute each step in the right order.

In a recent New York Times article a woman writer snipped about yoga pants. She joined a gym and wears sweatpants to work out. She thinks people stared at her because she’s not wearing yoga pants. The woman claims that yoga pants objectify woman as sex objects.

This is blarney. If you want to succeed at your fitness goals you need to dress the part of a champion. Elite athletes don’t wear sweatpants to perform.

How you dress in any area of life can affect how you feel about yourself. Getting into the gym groove will be easier when you dress the part.

I used to wear whatever clothes I could pass off as workout gear when I first started lifting weights. Then I got hip and started to buy training pants and tee shirts specifically for sweat sessions.

You can buy for at tops $79 a pair of training pants in Modell’s. Or get cheaper options in Century’s in New York City–Century 21 off-price discount retailer. Even Target if I remember has Champion workout gear.

In all areas of life if you want to get in the game you have to put on your game face as it’s called. Wearing the right clothes to the gym can put you in a champion’s frame of mind.

JackRabbit sells running shoes at their stores and online. In person you can get tested to see which kind of shoe is best for how your feet touch the ground.

I tell you loyal readers that resisting buying quality training clothes is a royal mistake. You’ll feel better about yourself when you’re dressed better.

No one else is looking at you at the gym either way. Hardcore fitness buffs are too busying working out to spend more than a minute or too glancing around the room.

Should you not want to buy skintight yoga pants there are plenty of options with a boot cut hem out there.

If you power through the next two months at the gym and want to stay motivated to continue I urge you to rethink wearing sweatpants to work out.

In the coming blog entries I’ll return to a focus on fitness and nutrition.

In the end having a fitness routine and a balanced nutrition plan is a valid adjunct form of treatment for people with mental health issues.

Street Drug Use Information

I want to write about pressing topics now and in future blog entries along with my standard inspirational fare.

My goal is to inform readers with solid information.

Hardly anyone else in society cares about those of us with mental health issues who have chronic conditions.

My aim is not to only focus on people who are capable of recovering fully. My goal is to also advocate for those of us who have it much harder in recovery.

I ask you: who really cares about any of us who have a diagnosis? I do care.

Years ago I read the David Scheff book Clean–an expose of the drug rehab treatment center industry.

The fact is drug rehab centers have bigger revolving doors than psych hospitals.

Drug rehab treatment centers aren’t licensed or regulated. Anyone who wants to can open a drug rehab center and collect money.

Are people revolving in and out of drug rehab centers because they’re too ill to stay clean?

More likely I think the drug rehab treatment center industry fails in helping the very people who need help.

On a New York City cable news channel there are commercials for a drug rehab treatment center. The actors who portray clients are always beautiful, photogenic people who are getting massages as part of their drug treatment.

This alarms me.

A New York Times article this month stated:

“A Surgeon General’s report in 2016 said that the younger people are when they start taking drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted long-term.”

In fact most street drug users don’t have fatal overdoses–they spend their whole lives battling an addiction with varying levels of success. They might have numerous overdoses over time.

Methadone and Buprenorphine can be effective treatment aids for combating heroin use. Yet for some reason they aren’t widely used even though they do help a lot of people.

John C. Norcross, the author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions, stated in his book that plenty of people can and do overcome bad habits like drinking, drug use, overeating, and overspending by using the scientifically-proven 5-Step method for making changes by executing the 5 steps in the right order.

The Changeology method can be used at the same time as formal treatment.

There’s a book: Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Can Help People Change. It’s a guide for families to use motivational interviewing to help their loves ones stay clean.

In the book Clean David Scheff reports that upwards of 50 percent of the individuals diagnosed with bipolar have a co-occurring street drug addiction.

The biology of certain people can guarantee they’ll get addicted to street drugs as soon as they first start using them. This is what happened to David Scheff’s son.

If you’re curious about using street drugs I want to end this blog entry with one statement: it’s just too risky to try it especially when you have a mental health issue.

Again: I care about everyone living in recovery. Too many so-called normal people in society don’t care about mental health peers. They parrot over and over that no one can recover without trying to help people recover.

Only one thing is true: if you have a street drug use disorder it will be harder to recover from a mental health issue.

Please. It’s just too risky.

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.