Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'll Run Out Of Good News Sometime


Just talked to a friend of mine. She just finished a book of 400 pages and really enjoyed it.

She's schizophrenic. She was hit with the disease when she was 32, and she hasn't been able to read for 15 years. Some of it is the disease. A lot of it is the medication. She was a librarian. She lost a lot. (understating it)

Schizophrenia is nasty. Persons with it cannot function. They have trouble connecting with others. Often highly intelligent, they can't really think. And they are aware much of the time of what is going on. Other times, what seems real is delusional. It is cruel.

She told me tonight that the medications don't really mask or cure the disease. They deal with the symptoms. Like I take Advil to deal with my rheumatoid arthritis.

But there are new medical protocols for schizophrenia. One involves the lessening of the drugs. She has gone from 16 to 3 meds a day. And now she can read. She still is schizophrenic, but she may be able to work again sometime. If we didn't have SSI for folks like her, we would have a lot more dead or under bridges. Including her--not her opinion, but mine. She's not in Texas. Here, she would be under a bridge.

I've known her for four years. Always, she has tried to give back. She leads a self-help group, she teaches a monthly class for medical personnel about what it's like to be her and other mentally ill people so they can better be served. She says she can tell by their faces who is learning and who is closed. She hopes the learning ones are able to be more knowledgeable and caring for people like she used to be.

Because she has been functioning well. She just couldn't read. Can you imagine that for a librarian? When she told me tonight she read a whole book for pleasure, I almost cried.

I told her about a book I enjoyed. She reserved it at the library on her computer as we talked. She has a kindle. She is miles ahead of me technologically, and she has just been learning the last year.

Many human beings are just as nasty to each other as they have been for thousands of years. Others are ill and untreated. That is truth and life.

But I know her, and what I write is truth. One schizophrenic who couldn't read can read again. She is reaching out to help others. And who knows what else? I used to be a pessimist, some 20 years ago. A current friend tells me somewhat sadly today I am an incurable optimist. I like it. I'll take it.

Hope beats doom every day.


clairz said...

I am so glad that you share your experiences with us. You have such unique knowledge and yes, an optimistic point of view.

My sister happens to be a very intelligent and articulate person with a mental illness. She has taught me so much about what it is like to be inside of her head.

She writes a blog called But First. To read a little about how mentally ill people are sometimes treated here in New Mexico, see her post called How I Spent My Summer Vacation at Stay with it, it takes a bit to get to the truly shocking parts.

Thank goodness, because of her experience, her ability to articulate her story, and her willingness to go public, improvements are being made for patients in situations like hers.

charlotte g said...

Will do. I swear I have heard about this but hadn't read it. The friend I wrote about also wants to write a book or long article and wants me to help her when she's ready. Funny. Another friend's wife is a medical researcher in Vancouver and was one of those responsible for the new medicine protocols that are so beneficial to my friend. The world of connections is smaller than we think!

Jon said...

I think education is the key. You do those with mental illnesses a great service by showing there is a person, with wants and needs, that fights their disorder - many times at their own peril. Yes, society can, and will be cruel, but the more people realize the waste of not helping is not beneficial, the more people will be helped.