Recovering from Mental Illness

There are three myths about hospitalization that keep people from seeking mental illness treatment when they need it most (Facts About Psychiatric Hospitalization). When I first started having symptoms, I believed all three myths. They kept me from seeking psychiatric treatment for about two years. Ironically, if I'd sought treatment when I first started having symptoms, I might have avoided the first hospitalization. Here are the three myths about hospitalization that keep people from seeking mental illness treatment.
It's clear we need a sensible drug policy in the United States. My generation grew up with a government policy of 100 percent abstinence from illegal substances. We became the most drug-addicted generation in history. When you explore the racist history behind our current drug policy and read what the science really says about illegal drugs, it can easily lead to one conclusion: We need a sensible drug policy in the United States.
There are many myths about involuntary treatment for mental illness (The Realities of Involuntary Treatment). Involuntary treatment is extremely controversial, and that's an understatement along the lines of saying, "The Arctic is kind of chilly." Part of the reason it's so controversial is because we rarely do it for other illnesses. We prefer to let people "die with their rights." While I'm hesitant to recommend involuntary treatment become standard operating procedure, I can discuss three myths about involuntary treatment.
It's time to reform the mental healthcare system. It's been time for years. While the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations made great strides, all that progress could be lost under the new administration (Mental Health Care [In A Perfect World]). Already, Congress voted to reinstate pre-existing conditions (which prior to the Affordable Care Act many insurance agencies used to refuse to cover an individual with mental illness or refuse to cover mental healthcare). Congress also voted to prevent Medicare from negotiating with drug companies to lower prices. And legislation that would have lowered drug prices was shot down--you may have seen the meme naming which politician voted against it and how much money they've received from pharmaceutical companies. President-elect Donald Trump needs to take action and reform the mental healthcare system.
The new year made me realize it would be a good idea to write about how to self-diagnose an alcohol addiction. While only a professional can make a formal diagnosis, awareness of your drinking habits and any problems that arise from drinking can help you seek treatment (Identifying and Diagnosing Alcoholism). Here's how to self-diagnose an alcohol addiction.
Because of my youth, I wonder whether mental health screenings should be done in schools. Much of my childhood was spent being shuttled from doctor to doctor in an effort to figure out what was wrong with me (Why Can Mental Illness Be So Hard to Diagnose?). Everyone agreed there was some kind of mental health condition, but no one could decide on a treatment. So most of my childhood was spent depressed with occasional bouts of psychosis. This led me to ask, "Should mental health screenings be done in schools, just as vision and scoliosis screenings are?"
My therapist will be taking a leave of absence for most of January due to major surgery. We spent the last session planning what to do since we won't be meeting for about a month. I have other people on my treatment team I can check in with, but not everyone is so fortunate. This made me realize it might be a good idea to write about how to deal with a therapist's absence.
Staying sober during the holidays can prove difficult thanks to all the merrymaking aided by large quantities of alcohol. For example, my family drinks like fish, and one year Dad gave my two brothers alcohol for Christmas. But I stayed sober even though I have a substance abuse problem, and I plan on doing it again. Here are some ways to stay sober during the holidays.
Obsessively healthy eating has a name, it's orthorexia nervosa. While not clinically recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), orthorexia nervosa--literally fixation on righteous eating--is no less real to those who suffer from it. Recently I interviewed a doctor about this condition and asked her the question many people with it ask--"When did eating right become bad?" The answer--"When it becomes excessive . . . When it interferes with activities of daily living" (Eating Disorder Facts: Who Gets Eating Disorders?). For example, skipping meals because the "right" food isn't available is not uncommon. Obsessively healthy eating -- orthorexia nervosa -- can be very unhealthy.
There is a difference between drug abuse and drug experimentation. When I was in the state hospital, I was questioned extensively about my use of substances. I admitted to using marijuana twice, both times for medical reasons. So according to my file, I abuse marijuana (Using Marijuana to Manage Mental Health Symptoms). I argued that there's a big difference between drug experimentation and drug abuse. In experimentation, one can take it or leave it. Drug abuse occurs when the person has to have the substance in question despite negative consequences. Drug experimentation does not always equal drug abuse. In this video, I discuss the difference.