Illness and Disadvantage
Full text UN Declaration of Human Rights
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
A Trap For The Unwary
Let's begin with "Sectioning" under the Mental Health Act (MHA 1983) which frames the legal status of a person for life. Once this first long-stay psychiatric care has ended, and long term medication commenced, it is apparent that in many ways, a psychiatric patient is all one will ever be. This immediate depressing impression formed partly because illness presents at a young, vulnerable, age when hopes for the future should be high. Initiation of treatment is a parting of ways in terms of legal rights and vulnerabilities for two tribes. The "caring" tribe, with supervisory rights and all implied, if and when it wishes to use them, are armed with medical labels that have limited clinical, but more legal and social power than they would like. The "patient" tribe are the subject of labelling with no reciprocal power to act to remove or apply labels.
The impact of this on the individual subject wiil always vary but it tends to lower your sights. The palpable reality of career prospects diminished and future love life issues have to be dealt with along with a lot of other hurt too.
Don't write your life off yet though, there's a lot to be said for MH user status. A sense of humour, particularly directed towards psychiatry, is a mandatory requirement. It's an essential coping mechanism. Psychiatry is to be respected for what it does most of the time though or you will suffer. During an acute phase of illness when hospitalised it's sometimes difficult to be articulate about symptoms. If your own insight into illness is compromised especially you need to rely on psychiatry's ethics and wisdom. This isn't too difficult in my experience. Psychiatry is no monster.
When well enough to leave hospital you might not be well enough to return to work. This may well persist long term which means living with a disability. A large shift of mindset in and of itself. Changes to hard-won career prospects with the onset of a disabling Serious Mental Illness (SMI) can be extremely hard to bear. Sitting around at home doing nothing comes as a shock to the system. It's still a case of "life is what you make it" just with a different set of opportunities. Life is still inherently good and of infinite value but it's meaning has changed. You now have to keep taking psychiatric drugs that are not that great yet. Licence to stop taking medication as such is not strong though. "Gerbil Pi" to some, God-send to others of us.
Medication for myself is a consciously deterministic life-style choice. OK I have a "drug holiday" for one or two days occasionally if the musical ideas stop. Keeping the whole thing in feasible life needs medication long term generally. It's not too bad, it's fairly easy to tolerate medication in the short and long term. What use are the symptoms of mental illness, even from a spiritual standpoint? They're an ineffectual waste of a real lifetime's opportunities. Keeping it real is dependent on medication here.
I will never return to full time work in recording studios but I'm happy in life. My son is now in his late twenties and I did a reasonably good job of bringing him up. I record my own music and post it on the 'net for free. Still a fully licenced radio ham as I have been for forty-three years now, working the world. As far as I know my good reputation in NW England's recording studios remains intact. I retired from audio engineering some time after seeking psychiatric help because of the side effects of medication, mainly blurred vision in my case. I could no longer read the nomenclature on electronic components.
©2020 Andrew Batty