Monday, September 8, 2014

Anxiety - Do I or Don't I? - Guest Post

When the experts do not agree then what chance do we have?

As a suffer Living with anxiety and a panic disorder then I have always considered it my business to inform myself as much as is possible about my disorder including the why, how and now. So with so much conflicting information out there how is anyone ever going to get the best available knowledge to best formulate their own recovery and support program that will lead them to the best possible outcome. When experts disagree on what’s best for us, what does that say about our chances of recovery?

Let’s first deal with the why question? OK why me, how come I have anxiety but many of my other sister do not? The experts say that if someone in your family has suffered with anxiety, depression or any other mental illness then you are at a 40% greater risk on having one yourself. Along with this we are told again by the experts that if you experience childhood trauma then that also increases your risk factor of suffering a mental illness again by another 40%. So in my own case as my mother was suffering with her nerves back then I fall into the first risk category but then I also experienced the murder of my brother when I was four and he was nineteen and this increased my risk by the same amount again. Yet only one sister and myself were ever diagnosed with a mental health problem. All the rest of my family are fine (there were eight of us). How come? The answer is the experts do not really know. This is the problem. How can we prevent instead of cure mental health problems when you are not really sure what causes them in the first place. And if I’m trying to inform myself then how does this help in my choices as regards recovery?

So by the age of four I had more than an 80% risk of developing a mental health condition, so how come nobody did anything to help me back then (I was seventeen before I got a diagnosis). And even today there are thousands of children who fall into the same risk category and they too are being overlooked. This is not a blame game, no it’s much more important than that. It is much too serious and needs to be addressed in our schools, our homes and our communities. No vulnerable children should have to seek out help, no instead there should be trained personal who can pick up on the signs of a disturbed, distressed or symptomatic child. Intervention and prevention are always better than a cure. Also we will have to deal at some stage with the labeling of our children/teenagers when that are so young so as to not let their diagnosis become a stumbling block for future employment. 

Disagreement and pseudo-science:

The now:
Now the experts disagree among themselves as regards treatments because they are lacking in so many area’s that people suffering with a mental illness are unable to decide what’s best for them by way of treatment options. 

Let’s just take the concept that mental illness is in fact caused by a chemical imbalance yet we all know, have read and seen very compelling videos to point to the contrary of this premise. We know there is no measurable way to check the chemicals imbalance in any persons brain much less tell us at what levels they should be. So how am I the suffer, supposed to make an informed decision on what’s best for me in the first place. And if the medication you are giving me is supposed to regulate my imbalance when you clearly can’t prove that I am actually suffering from one then I’m taking medication that will not help me at best and may harm or even kill me at worst. 

Is it any wonder we find suffers of mental illness in prison, in hospital or in the graveyard. Because the treatment is so poor an uncoordinated and good scientific information so sparse or too technical that you and I are unconvinced by what is truth and what is a lie. I’m not afraid to admit I’m in the middle on this one. I truly do not know why some people suffer with a mental illness while other do not. We have heard about genetics and the part our DNA plays in the different diseases people suffer and yet there is no mental illness gene identified that can explain my illness and your illness. The experts disagree about the part that nature and nurture play in a person becoming unwell with a mental health condition, and yet we think we are the ones who are mad. The only reason we are mad is for trusting them in the first place. We are not just trusting them with our treatment but with our future. Remember if they get it wrong then we might not have a future at all.

Point of first contact is so important:
A person suffering with a mental health condition first contact will most likely be there doctor or the emergency department. Neither of these is fully qualified in the best treatments of mental illness and as we know making a diagnosis is pretty much a hit and a miss affair. Because if you lie about how you feel and what you are experiencing then how on earth is the doctor supposed to diagnosis you. Your diagnosis depends on how you answer some questions not on some blood test or x-ray results so it’s an inexact science and you and me are at its mercy. Very often we are used as patients in an experiment for our doctors and while they learn we suffer. Also in our support group when I asked the members did they tell the doctor on their first visit the true extent of how they were really feeling then they all answered “no we did not in order not to embarrass themselves”.
In my own experience I use the following to stay well:
• Prayer and faith
• Mindfulness daily
• Plenty of rest
• Cycling for an hour and half daily
• Eat healthy foods
• Hobbies, including reading and listing to music
• Work
• Walking in nature
• Medication (Lustral)

I do all of the above daily and it helps me attain a high level of function but I do not have faith in any one single item, instead each person has to develop a personal recovery and support program tailored to their individual needs rather than on what worked best for someone else. We owe it to ourselves to be the very best we can be while still living with an illness that by all accounts should disable us. But tonight this is my prayer:

Please let the so called experts put away their individual vested interest and the making of money on the backs of those who has already suffered enough and come together and formulate an agreed treatment program where our first point of contact whether it be the emergency department, our doctor, a therapist or any other medical professional can deliver the very best practices available to us to relieve our suffering and allowing us contribute to society like everyone else. You the professionals and the medical community owe it to us as many of you have gotten rich off our suffering.

Is this what you call professional?
I have no axe to grind with any medical professional but the word professional to me makes you responsible to deliver the best treatment possible based on the best available scientific facts and not on tradition, past practices, mumbo jumbo, sudo science and if you do not have enough information then stop calling yourself a professional because when I was a teenager and you were learning a trade we called this an apprenticeship. So if you don’t know what you’re doing and the science is not there to back it up, then tell me straight out so I can make up my own mind what treatments I will submit myself to in order for you to learn.

When I trained as a Healthcare Assistant we were told autonomy was the most important aspect to patient care. In other words the patient was to be treated as an adult, informed, comforted and allow make choices for themselves. At present with so little verifiable scientific fact then it’s impossible for a patient to make up their mind as to the best treatment to bring about recover. This is not our fault. 

To finish I would just say the following: The Hippocratic oath a doctor takes states “he or she is to do good” but just as importantly is the part that states “he or she is to do no harm”. Can you really say that if you don’t know all the facts? No I think not. Please get your act together, stop the squabbling, self-interest and help us the way we deserve. 

This is not a rant, no I’m in too much control for that rather I hope like all my posts this generates a discussion on others personal experiences and how we as a community might better inform and advise our fellow suffers of the pitfalls before they become victims of the medical merry go round that some of us have experiences. For now as always have a great day. Looking forward to your comments. Thanks

Michael Groves

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