Saturday, May 26, 2007

A good time

Yesterday's Living Room support group was good and left me feeling happy, as all those meetings do. I spent the rest of the day savoring it. After having twenty out to our previous meeting, I decided to make a huge table, pushing five long tables together. That made room for twenty-two chairs to fit around. But only thirteen showed up - still a good turn-out though.

You won't believe this, Susan, but our topic, "Uncovering the Good in the Bad", was very much like your post about being grateful. We discussed how gratitude can affect how we feel about life and God, and how it affects our mood. Even situations that seem bad at first can eventually give us something to be thankful for if we're in the thanking habit.

In Romans 8:28 Paul said, "...we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good."

I told the story about how I'd recently accessed my medical records from when I was in a mental hospital forty years ago. I'd suspected I had been over-medicated but wanted to be assured of all the facts, since I was writing about it in my latest book. And sure enough, the records show that I had been given excessive amounts of chlorpromazine. My mouth hung open most of the time and I could not communicate with others. There was just nothing happening in my brain. It was as though it had stalled.

The part that truly made me bitter was uncovering a letter written by my private pdoc's partner, a person who had interviewed me shortly after I was admitted. He recommended that I be discharged. My previous employer had offered to let me to try and work, in spite of my psychotic condition. This doctor suggested that I would do better in such a normal environment, rather that this mental institution.

But apparently, this letter was either ignored or not agreed with. I stayed in the hospital for another six interminable months - miserable months. I was only nineteen years old, the youngest on my ward. It was only when I read these records that I realized this letter existed and that an opportunity had been lost.

I felt stunned and bitter.

But, after a few days my thinking changed. I began to appreciate how far I had come, more than ever before. I had even more to be thankful for than I realized. God has truly done a lot for me. My records showed that the staff did not hold out much hope for me. My (incorrect) diagnosis was schizophrenia and, in those days, medications were not as effective as they are today. But did I ever show them!!

I'm a very fortunate person. And I'm sure that living in the institution in the way I did has benefited me by helping me have compassion and respect for others. I believe what Paul said. If we're in line with God's plan, "...everything that happens fits into a pattern for good." I believe my hospital experiences help me find joy in the work I do with Living Room. I like being a supporter. I'm no longer a victim.


Sarah said...

Beautiful middle, the end is yet to come and it'll be outstanding.

Sarah said...

i hope you undersstood whati i meant with the post.

marja said...

Thanks for visiting, Sarah. I think I know what you mean, but am not sure. You ARE being cryptic today.
Hope you are well,dear.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Sounds like a great meeting. And it is a coincidence that it echoed my list of things to be grateful for.

I was stunned by the revelation of what happened to you at the hospital. Yet, I am awed by how you overcame all that to become who you are! It's truly inspirational!


Mark said...

"People say 'Oh, you were misdiagnosed," says Bassman. "Otherwise, you couldn't be where you are now.' I mean, that's an impossible circular argument."
269 patients chosen for the Vermont model study, however, were classic back ward cases--those diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia and deemed unable to survive outside.

Their 10-year rehabilitation program (1955-1965) relied on a team of caregivers including psychiatrists, a psychologist, a nurse, sociologists and a vocational counselor to maintain a continuity of care for the ex-patients. The team found community housing and provided vocational clinics that led to jobs, education and social supports, individualized treatment planning, as well as social skills training.

About two-thirds of the ex-patients did well, says Harding.
But he goes on to make the startling claim that these new psychiatric drugs have directly contributed to an alarming new epidemic of drug-induced mental illness. The very drugs prescribed by physicians to stabilize mental disorders in fact are inducing pathological changes in brain chemistry and triggering suicide, manic and psychotic episodes, convulsions, violence, diabetes, pancreatic failure, metabolic diseases, and premature death.

marja said...

Hi Mark. Thanks for visiting. I WAS misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. But in those days, with psychiatry in relative infancy (compared to where it is now) that was a common mistake to make. Now doctors know that I am bipolar type 1.

But I am very happy about where my psychiatric treatment is now. I could not survive without psychiatric medications. I know there are awful side effects for some. But I'd rather be sane.

As far as I'm concerned right now. I'm on medications that work well for me. The only side effects are occasional tremors. I can live with that. Thanks to my medications I can live a normal life.

marie said...

I just read your profile. I hope you succeede in educating the church about mental illness.

marja said...

Thanks for visiting, Marie. And I will try my darndest to make inroads.

jessica ginn said...

hi marja,

thank you for hanging with me recently!!

everything has been so busy and hectic with the doctor appointments, trying to get life back...trying to find my orientation...etc.

i am trying to get back to reading blogs and i have been wanting to get over here and tell you that i think it is SO GREAT that you have been playing with paint!

when i read your comment, i smiled...when you explained the way you paint (the detail--there is NO way i could paint that way---to me that sounds SO talented!!).

i think that when we paint, or really do anything artsy, it is a reflection of how our brains see the world (not that we really see things that differently)...but, like i paint in such an abstract way, and my brother in law is able to draw in an incredible concrete way (similar to how you describe the painting style/skills you are acquiring)....neither is better.

i just find it really fascinating...

part of our creative DNA! it makes me appreciate art in a new way!


jessica/dancer (whoever i am!!)