Labels… diagnosis… is it really all true? Is it really all necessary? Is the rise in mental illness on the planet due to more efficient diagnosis and therefore treatment, or is it due to ‘modern lifestyle’? Or something else?
I first went into hospital when I took myself off medication. The conclusion was a disaster. It was partly the withdrawal symptoms, but mostly the illness. Why would I do such a thing? Well I was getting cocky. Wanting to forget it all, I felt ashamed too, ashamed of my illness and also my existence. I decided to fix up and realised that the professionals are not the enemy. Rather, the illness is the enemy. I realise that I wasn’t under section. I could walk at any time, but what would I do if I walked? I was suffering with untold amounts of anxiety, and couldn’t concentrate for any significant period of time. The psychosis was constant, but they didn’t pick up on this then because I was so obsessed with other things like gambling sequences and things I could do with a knife, (mostly to myself but to others also). People who suffer from OCD do not act on their intrusive thoughts, well I’ve never heard of anyone. We are terrified of our own thoughts, which do come from a place of anxiety and doubt, not from desires.
In many types of mental illness, taking medication is a much better option than doing nothing. It seems to be protocol for people to have huge doubts though regarding medication and its effectiveness. But how true is that assumption? True to a certain extent. It’s likely that antidepressants are over-prescribed. How well can a GP tell the situation? They may see something wrong, or miss something. For instance, I was miss-diagnosed by a GP. This caused a lot of wasted time going to counsellors who were not really helping. Well they helped other aspects of my life, but I was too ill to take it all in. The answer is, that if you are seriously debilitated, incapacitated or anxious beyond belief, you have to go and see a consultant psychiatrist if you are overly concerned that you have an illness. If you have anxiety or depression on their own, I would probably suggest trying other options first – join the gym, try a new hobby. There may not be the need to prescribe yourself onto antidepressants. Because they do suck the energy from you. Naturally get your chemicals flowing and you’ll do well my friend.
It does in fact treat it; Clomipramine and Olanzapene. An anti depressent shown to be effective with obsessional thinking, and the latter a relatively standard new anti-psychotic. They do seem to work. How? It’s hard to explain, I don’t think psychiatrists can really explain. The psychosis? It wasn’t miss-diagnosed when I was first diagnosed with OCD, however, i was over-looked when it came to my detachment from reality and psychosis type anxiety. Whether I am psychotic or not, as long as I’m making progress its fine; I’m on the highest dose now… which feels superb. So, medication: a myth? I’ll come off one day and on that day I will let you know if it was all worth it. I currently have no doubts of their effectiveness… The side effects are worth it.
My first experience of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was at the Priory in Hayes. On hindsight it wasn’t very effective. There were two of us. The other guy had more common OCD obsessions and compulsions; Fear of contamination, fear of bodily fluids, and perfectionistic traits. And I was kind of overlooked by the psychologist there. We went through a book and set goals. The other guy was able to create a ladder of exposures. My exposure was writing the thoughts down and coming to more sensible reactions, doing this in real time as well and, of what I mentioned earlier as the mental argument (being a compulsion) letting go of finding the answer. The reason why I don’t think this first bout of CBT was particularly effective is because 1. My anxiety was too high (the meds hadn’t kicked in yet) and 2. My OCD is not like others’ OCD. Although you will relate to the rumination even if you don’t relate to the obsession. It’s within the rumination where we get so messed up. My downfall is that I appear quite well superficially. So, the obsession, did it have anything to do with music? No, it didn’t. Did it have everything to do with needing certainty and fear of loss of control? It’s probable, although I would argue that there was too much anxiety to have any kind of clarity on why I had the obsession in the first place. I did do a music technology course I dropped out of, so the content of the obsession does relate to that, but it’s completely out of any control or want or desire. Like I said earlier, this obsessional thinking comes from a place of anxiety doubt and confusion, not from organic wants and desires. Like I mentioned, my condition back then was more severe than more recent years (of ‘Harm OCD’), which is ironic because the content of the obsession was benign.
So I got some relief from my first glimpse, ever, of freedom in 2008 as still a young adult. Shortly after my first CBT the same thing came along on the NHS. Now then, I was determined to express just how bad the so called benign obsession was. Of course there were other mini obsessions and general anxiety. In 2009 I was introduced to a beautiful diagram (thanks to my therapist for having the knowledge to find it and thanks to Professor Paul Salkovskis who wrote it). Understanding this diagram was key to recovery. The only bit of the diagram I disagreed with was ‘a catastrophic event’. I did not have a catastrophic event that kicked off the OCD, I feel we could argue that my interpretation of stress due to being a very deep thinker was a cause. But professionals aren’t so clear about what the cause is anyway. What we need to focus on is the here and now. I will share the diagram here:
Down in Brighton consisted of a strict detox, relaxation sessions, CBT, addiction sessions, new people, and lovely food. Strict time management too, whilst taking and reviewing medication. I was only there a short time but it was like a strict and extremely thoughtful retreat. What else would you expect from the Priory. I thanked my lucky stars I was sent there under the NHS. (and got to stay for so long, after all people pay thousands to be there).
They then had me a bed back in Bromley, not much support, no CBT sessions, boredom, and somewhat unhealthy interactions with other patients. As a society, how on earth are we treating our mentally ill? I don’t know; it must be severely underfunded in the NHS. Well that much is clear. There needs to be much more civilized ways of dealing with our mentally ill in the NHS! Nevertheless I stayed in hospital for some time still, as I needed to be there.
More recently I was an informal patient at Woolich, Oxleas House, where I had time to recover from a suicidal episode, and learn to meditate. At first I thought that the interactions with other patients was unhealthy, but after a while I thought it was cool that we had something in common. I’m sure I wouldn’t feel that way if I were downstairs on the high security ward. So I learned to meditate once again. This will be key to my recovery now.