Reality Check: Public Psychiatric Services in my city


#realitycheck what’s the service to expect in a public Psychiatric unit with one psychiatrist for a population of I can’t count? It’s just 6:42 am and we met like 30 other books there. The shrink might come and say his cap for today is 30 and we will have to go home and come two days later or next week if that’s the roster. And since it’s a follow up consultation, if we don’t get consulted today we’ll have to pay to be seen next week. Now admitted I had worked here and can play small privilege fiddle, but what about those who don’t know no one and are really sick but poor and can’t afford private services? This is the reality in my city and although there are probably some missionary health units who provide Psychiatric services, it’s much farther from me, and it was the best decision I could advice given the time, circumstances and resources available. Do I need to talk about the time the consultations will actually start and the service and etc? My sister brought her lunch knowing she might leave here this evening hahahahaha. I will try my best and leave the rest to God. Am currently standing in some corner for there are not even enough benches for the patients with one of them already broken (maybe the same one I left two years ago lol). I also hope rain didn’t enter into the shrink’s office if not that will have to be cleaned up first before he starts consulting hahahahaha (that’s how I started my internship here). Can I say again #thereishope please ooooooo #mentalhealthmatters

Book Review: Psych Meds made Simple by Ashley Peterson


Psych Meds by Ashley

It’s been a long while I reviewed a book on my blog, but I have been reading many without being bitten by the ‘review me’ bug lol. Ashley’s book has gotten the ‘review me’ bug biting my fingers again. The book is simply one I had to read and make as many as notes as possible, the total being 65 highlighted notes. It is on the basis of these that I review this very important book mental health users and carers would do well to read.

The goal of the book is very clear as follows: The goal of this book is to demystify psychiatric medications and give people living with mental illness, as well as those who support us, the knowledge to make the best possible decisions when it comes to medication.

With the above in mind, I read the book as the project manager I am. I recall with some loathing truth be told, when I spent nearly 2 years taking medications including psychiatric ones, without ever trying to acquire any knowledge which could help me make the best possible decisions for myself. Had I known will always be the last in class because we hardly even think of them when starting a lesson.

Well, with psychiatric medications, you seriously don’t want take your health or those you care for, for granted. Mental illness (I live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is for real and yet, you are not an invalid who can’t decide for themselves unless totally sedated or so psychotic enough to care any more. Ashley’s book is focused on the most common types of psychiatric medications: antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti psychotics, anti anxiety medications, and stimulants, and yet she is adamant in asserting that: “The notion that medications produce some artificial form of wellness is simply absurd. What I gather from reading the book all through therefore is that, she did all the research including using her own self as a case study, to give her readers and the mental illness community at large, a good base of knowledgeable material to get and keep the conversation going. Recovery from a mental illness is possible if the right combination of medications and holistic treatment protocol are found. Trust me I know it may be hard, it is even daunting reading about the different side effects of the several of the medications.

I learned so much, and I honestly marvel at the depth of the research into technical and not cool products such as medications. I learned for example that it is better to take a cocktail of medications at reduced dosage, than only one at a high dose whose side effects may be devastating. I was also thrilled to learn about the relationship between inflammation and depression, and so much in the book kept getting me highlight wow. I could now understand some about the side effects I experienced, as well as those my brother who lived with bipolar disorder did.

The book is not boring to read especially because she uses words we can easily understand, and above all her own story as a case study. I appreciate her authenticity and vulnerability, and support her overall aim of fighting stigma surrounding mental illness and psychiatric medications. I follow her blog Mental Health at Home, and will recommend both her book and blog to everyone.

Thank you so much Ashley my heroine for writing such a long over due book. In my country, there is still such a pervasive culture of the doctor knows best, and the patient is just supposed to take them medication. Now, some patients and carers can start asking real questions while requesting for medication adjustments and re-adjustments.

About the Author

Ashley Peterson writes one of my favorite blogs, Mental Health at Home. For her 40th birthday last week, she was kind enough to offer her new book, Psych Meds Made Simple for free!

Ashley is a former pharmacist and currently works as a mental health nurse. I admire that she writes from a professional perspective and from a personal stance, as she lives with mental illness.

I really recommend this reference guide to anyone who takes psychotropic medication, has a loved one who does, or who works in the mental health field (counselors, social workers, healthcare providers, etc. – I am a psychotherapist and could refer clients to this book now of course hahahah)

You can find Psych Meds Made Simple for a very reasonable price on Amazon.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mental Health Advocacy

Book Review: Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution by Cortland Pfeffer, Irwin Ozborne


taking-the-mask-off

 

This memoir was on my wish list as soon as I read that it was to be published. I follow the author’s blog and he has inspired me a lot, I got that soulful telepathic motivation to take and keep my own mask off… Frankly speaken, this book may not be on the spectre of the Four Agreements – well the author read and was inspired by that one too… but this book is another big bam revolutionary book not definitely for the chicken hearted. Truth be told, the authors did an incredible job especially with all the research in the book. And using his personal, amazing, and life impacting story – to all extent and with no reservation, gets me 5/5 PERIOD.

I don’t even know how to conventionally review this book… I mean I heard Oprah Winfrey on youtube say how her knees trembled when she went to interview Michael Jakson the Legend. She has interviwed thousands of celebrities yet she has never felt ‘nervous’ going to interview anyone. Gosh she herself is celebrity… This anecdote is just to say that of all the hundreds and hundreds of books I have read, I never felt so ‘Soul Strained and Soul Searched’ like I felt while reading this book… even reading the Four Agreements which I presented recently, didn’t move me to my marrows like this one… I related to different extents no doubt, but I sure do… I learn just so much… I agree to just so much…

229 Highlights | 231 Notes (This is from kindle – you can tell what I take out of this book)… I’ll share a few of my notes and then leave you with the encouragement to add this to your reading list for the season … you wouldn’t regret it – you’ll look at the New Year different – You’ll plan it differently and hopefully Live it Out Differently…

Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Location 989
If I can push people away from me, there is no chance they can get close to me and hurt me. If my emotional learning stems from fear and mistrust, I am not going to let random hospital staff into my life.
wow (My note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Location 990
The Power of Empathy
does much (My note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Location 1107
they did everything with love. Ahh, there it is. The other motivating factor in life: love. As described by Jack Kornfield in A Wise Heart, “When you love anyone enough, they will share their secrets.”
true (My note)

Thank you Cortland Pfeffer, Irwin Ozborne…

About Cortland Pfeffer
Cortland Pfeffer spent years as a patient in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, and jails before becoming a registered nurse and working in the same facilities. Based on his experience, this story is told from both sides of the desk. It offers a unique and valuable perspective into mental health and addiction, revealing the problems with the psychiatric industry while also providing the solution – one that brings together science, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience.

Posted in Mental Health Advocacy

Lets talk about your meds?


ARC_Talk_About_Meds_Banner_Marie

Introduction

When I got an email from Judy Cohen of the American Recall Centre, I knew I was definitely doing a fine job with my mental health advocacy. I don’t follow statistics or evaluate the impact of my blog posts by likes/comments. Those sure motivate but I just don’t know how to follow them. I however feel elated when I get an email like Judy’s. It is an acknowledgment of a special order.

So, what do we read on the banner or the title of my post for this Monday morning? Huge, Judy asked me to talk about my meds. I told Judy I didn’t take any conventional meds but that I had a brother who took enough to last two generations of my family and who probably died ‘around those meds’. Judy urged that I could talk for him or better still give some advice…

The serene and reassuring doctor
The serene and reassuring doctor

Here are Judy’s guidelines

ADVICE FOR OTHERS:

Read the side effects very well. Please Caregivers, don’t have blind faith in ‘almighty psychiatry’. If you think there could be an alternative treatment or you have a combination of meds and others, please do the most you can to make it available for your loved one. If you are not so comfortable with the effect of the medication or the dosage, quantity and all: Please insist or shout out, there are so many advocacy groups out there. I have recently come across some and I do know that they exist because some medecine have caused unfathomable damages. My family (basically my mum), did all she could while it was in her power to do so. This is basically when my brother was in Cameroon and there the system isn’t as rigid, leaving a ‘leeway’ to the guardian or parent to get and be involved in their loved one’s treatment.

WHAT’S a GOOD QUESTION TO ASK their DOCTOR?

Doc, must I take so many meds? Those doctors are not gods: It is your right to ask them questions: You see, some of them may just be as clueless, they study, precribe and mark charts but if they had to be in your shoes and have your fired brain for just a day, they’ll think again!

Nothing to worry for heaven's sake, these luns drive me mad!
Nothing to worry for heaven’s sake, these luns drive me mad!

WHAT DRUG INTERACTIONS TO BE AWARE OF?

I will use only the most recent drug interaction my brother was on which from every indication were a very poor combination:

He was prescribed Risperdal, whose side effects include but are not limited to: Drowsiness, dizziness, drooling, nausea, increased appetite and weight gain;

He was prescribed Zyprexa whose side effects include but are not limited to: Constipation, dry mouth, increase appetite, weight gain and stomach upset;

And that Zyprexa taken in use with Benadryl could lead to a stroke or heart failure;

WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND BENEFITS?

I know only of risks. Well maybe because I lost my brother and that preceding his demise he was rushed to the ER at least twice for heart complications. As for benefits, probably only what the prescribing doctors would bother to tell you or as you can read on the notice/cum dream of in your countless hours lost to sleep.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE TAKING?

I think if my brother knew he would literally become a simpleton, a ‘cabbage’ due those very meds, surely he wouldn’t have become as med compliant. If you would end up ‘addicted’ to the same meds which ‘ruin’ you, then you may not be that willing in taking them.

Conclusion

Judy told me the following: ” I know medication safety is a topic that often goes unnoticed and to get readers even thinking about their own medicine will make a tremendous difference!”

I wish it weren’t true that medication safety is a ‘feared’ subject – but that’s a lame wish maybe? So you dear and gentle readers/followers of mine, what do you think about all this? Is it worth talking about one’s meds? Is worth looking out for alternative treatments or a safe and affordable combination of the both? I have taken pain killers and anti-depressants before, heck I regularly take pills for cramps – but I don’t consider those MEDS enough to warrant my sharing any pale personal experiences. Thank you!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky


The cover says so much; the contents would move even the toughest of hearts
The cover says so much; the contents would move even the toughest of hearts

In her own words

I think this youtube trailer by my favorite granny in this blogosphere, tells it best. Visit her blog, I am amazed and I can’t imagine any senior citizen in Cameroon and in her shoes, keeping such a blog.

My Modest Review: Unconditional Love all the way through Schrizophrenia, Suicide and suffering

What do we really know about a mental illness like Schrizophrenia? How does a mother bring forth a healthy boy, see him surf and survive so fine, watch him go into military training only to hear of a sucide attempt in that very camp? In an era when the taboo, stigma and haphazards of psychiatry were ever rampant than currently, talking of the 80s’, we can only but appreciate such an honest and heartbreaking account of the mother of such a victim. Yes, every mother of a son called David, (like myself), nurtues hope of a brave shepherd boy who can grow up and face any Goliath in life and why not become a king?. It was painful for Jill, hopeless and helpless at some point and now she not only lost David but eventually Michael her husband, partner and best friend. Although this is David’s story, we see the usual struggle of care givers. To love or not to love the sufferer unconditionally? Jill did this twice. Once it was David with Schriozophrenia and much later, it was Michael with Alzhemier. To make matters more morose, David joint the rangs of those unfortunate souls whose suicidal ideation got the better part of them. To give this story any less than a 5, will make me feel guilty of lack of emotions. Emotions to emphatize especially being a former care giver to a lone brother diagnosed and lost to bipolar and co, and as a mentally challenged myself. I hope anyone who brings to read this story, gets to that unconditional love which kept Jill then and still does now, as she shares her pale but brave tales with the world.

Granny's beloved called Doron
Granny’s beloved called Doron

About the Author

Well, she wrote with her real name this time around. I just discovered on her blog that ‘David’s’ real name is Doron and her husband’s is Alec. All this matters not, but I just mention anyway. Granny never included a single picture in there but I found one of hers and one of her son (see above).

Now over to granny: Jill Sadowsky was born in South Africa and has been living in israel since 1963. She has been writing since her son contracted paranoid schizophrenia.

Granny,

Also called the messiah in her circles for breaking the taboo and speaking about Mental illnesses this actively
Also called the messiah in her circles for breaking the taboo and speaking about Mental illnesses this actively

is a multiple award winner and her works have been featured in distinguished journals. She is a sought after speaker on brain health/illneses especially given her experience as a care giver of two loved ones lost to Schrizophrenia and Alzehmier.

Dear gentle readers and followers, if people like granny did not share their first hand accounts of battling mental illness and coping with the loss of their loved ones, we would still only be at the mercy of ‘psychiatry’, ‘magic’, ‘mystery’, ‘religion’ and all. Maybe you think otherwise?