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Recovering from Mental Illness

It's important to consider whether hospitals should be allowed to release patients to the streets. I was recently in the hospital with an 18-year-old man with bipolar disorder. He was so disruptive in his manic state that the hospital discharged him even though he had no place to go. It's not the first time I've seen a hospital discharge a patient to the streets (Mental Illness and Homelessness). It made me wonder if hospitals should be allowed to release patients to the streets.
Childhood mental disorders are not always the parents' fault. When I graduated from college, my mother dragged me to see a Christian psychiatrist who she was convinced could fix me. She asked the psychiatrist what caused my borderline personality disorder (BPD). The psychiatrist looked her in the eye and explained that BPD is caused by poor parenting. That is not always the case, and we as a society need to change our attitude that childhood mental disorders and illnesses are somehow the parents' fault.
I recently returned from a trip to Quebec, where I learned alcoholism symptoms should not vary by culture. Sadly, they do. In the United States, having a drink in the morning is called an eye-opener and is one of the CAGE Test symptoms of alcoholism. Even WebMD lists it as a sign of a drinking problem. In Quebec, a brunch cocktail such as a mimosa or a bloody Caesar is normal. I even posted to my Facebook page that I had no clue how Canadians diagnose alcoholism because it seemed like everyone drank like fish. Interestingly enough, the alcoholism rate is higher in the U.S. than it is in Canada--but is that because of culture? There needs to be a clearly defined international standard for alcoholism symptoms--not one that seems to vary according to where you are.
I've been thinking about caring for your mental health white traveling as I'm writing this on a train, traveling from Montreal to New York City as part of a vacation. While travel within the country is much simpler than travel out of the country, the following vacation tips are good advice for caring for your mental health while traveling.
Sometimes we don't know if a child's behavior is age-related or a mental illness (Brain Disorders: Mental Disorders vs. Behavioral Disorders). For example, how do you know if your two-year-old is hyperactive or just high-energy? Yet according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, half of all chronic mental health conditions manifest by age 14, and three-fourths by age 24. In this video, I discuss the difference between age-related behavior and mental illness symptoms.
Sometimes the emergency room becomes a mental health ward. Frequently there are no beds available in psychiatric hospitals so the emergency room is the one place a mental health consumer can be kept relatively safe and under supervision. This has happened to me a few times, and it's such a problem that USA Today mentioned it in an article series.1 But this is ineffective at best and makes things worse at worst. Here is why using emergency rooms as mental health wards doesn't work.
We should call the police in a mental health crisis only as a last resort. I spent some time at a psychiatric hospital that used off-duty but uniformed Marion County Sheriff's Deputies as security. I thought this was a bad idea because many mental health consumers have had bad experiences with the police. Even though I have no criminal record, I have a mild fear of police officers, especially when in crisis, because I've seen confrontations end badly (Mental Health Crises and Calling the Police). For example, one night a patient refused to go to his room, and security was summoned. One deputy pulled out his can of pepper spray and yelled, "You want some of this?" That's one reason why calling the police during a mental health crisis should be a last resort, especially in hospitals.
You may be able to manage self-harm urges with the Calm Harm application, or app. Recently, a counselor shared this app with me. Calm Harm, a British app, is designed to help people of all ages deal with self-harm urges. It mainly does this by inviting the user to "ride the wave"--self-harm, the app says, is like a wave--strongest when you want to do it, and then weaker with time. The app then provides suggestions, a timer, and feedback on how you handle self-injury. It's an interesting app for anyone, but I cannot recommend it strongly enough for someone who struggles with self-injury. Here is how you can manage self-harm urges using the app.
Let's face it--Facebook attracts some toxic people and you need to know how to handle toxic people on Facebook. Whether they're posting belittling comments or mocking any honest, heartfelt post, they leave you feeling worse than before you read their comment. There are three major types of toxic people on Facebook, and the good news is there are ways to deal with people with issues. Here are the three toxic people on Facebook and how to handle them.
I have a mental illness--a disability--but should I check the "disability" box when applying for a job? I recently was laid off at one job and had my hours cut at another, for a total loss of around $500 in income per month. I've dusted off my resumes and started applying for jobs, but have been hindered by a question: "Should I check the disability box?" Several businesses claim to be equal opportunity employers and make an effort to hire people with disabilities (Should You Disclose Mental Illness in the Workplace?). But can we trust them not to discriminate? Should we check the box that says we have a mental illness disability?