6 thoughts on “Stop the Stigma

  1. Hi–as a person with multiple psychiatric disorders who managed to lead an extremely productive life over several decades, only to crash and burn when a perfect storm of a period off meds due to stigma in my profession collided with a host of other disasters (run-on sentence, anyone?) tripped the switch to a brain-frying episode of depressive psychosis that lead to two more decades of roller-coaster rapid cycling despite intensive treatment, I feel compelled to add that many people do not recover. Although I at least look pretty normal at this point (I think), I am still permanently disabled. I managed to keep living, thanks to a service dog and a whole basket-full of medicines. It’s not the life I had envisioned at the peak of my career, and I must say that my family is ashamed of my decline and for the most part I am shunned; but on my good days I make the best of it, and on my bad days I dissociate, but so far I am still alive and for my child’s sake that is a good thing.

    On the other hand, I have seen many young people, one of whom is my now adult son, who made a nearly complete recovery with consistent early treatment that includes medication and appropriate therapies. Inn my son’s case that required two years in a therapeutic boarding school.

    Unfortunately, most families do not have the resources to pay for such intensive treatment. I didn’t either-even people with lots of letters after their names can end up sick and unemployed, uninsurable, and almost homeless. Fortunately, my parents mortgaged their home to pay for my son’s treatment.

    My neuropsychiatrist tells me that bipolar illness is very much akin to seizure disorders, in that there is a “kindling”effect in the brain which can be extinguished and stop the process from leading to full-blown symptoms. In young brains, if the kindling effect is kept from happening for a long period of time, at least a year, it gives the young brain a chance to literally “grow out of it.”

    My son did not completely dodge the bullet. He still has a rough time, mostly because he’s a sweet and sensitive man who feels everything very deeply. That’s not a bad thing at all, but at times it’s like walking around with no skin on.

    I know for sure that he is one of the very few lucky ones. Our prisons and cemeteries are packed with those who did not have the extraordinary opportunity to have two years of intensive residential therapy in a thoughtful, loving, caring environment, with medical supervision and a focus on building healthy life skills and coping strategies. Years later, he still draws upon what he learned there.

    Thank you for your wonderful informative post. I look forward to reading more!

    All the best–Laura


      • They’re called Therapeutic Boarding Schools. There are many, each with its own focus and philosophy. This one is called The Academy at Swift River, in Western Massachusetts. We were very fortunate, to have found it, and a way to pay for it. And the headmaster at that time was a very special man whose philosophy was that each young person has a beautiful inner self that sometimes gets buried in loneliness and shame, which he felt were the two emotions that form the core of self-destructive behaviour. His aim, then, was to guide each teen through the process of rediscovering their self respect through intensive counseling, accountability, quality education, plenty of time outdoors, and group therapy including the parents. I wish this kind of opportunity was available for all our kids. The jails and morgues would be empty, at least of kids who for whatever reason have lost their self respect.


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