Yes, during the most severe times in my life when I was bedridden for months, my body moulded into the mattress, not only did I not even know how to be a mother, but I didn't care. Strength and what little energy I had, was poured into staying alive. But during these worst of times, my children, the older ones aware of my illness, the younger one suspecting, were never very far from my side.
Consider this. No one makes a decision to suddenly develop psychotic delusions or the mania of bipolar disorder or the crushing darkness of depression. These are illnesses that just happen as do other illnesses like MS or Parkinson's or rheumatoid arthritis. They are not our choice and they are not welcome but they happen and we have to contend with them as best we can.
They are typically from impoverished families, where addiction, neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse were prominent. They usually do not have a high school diploma. Most of them started abusing drugs and alcohol between the ages of 11 and 15, as an escape from the neglect and abuse that they were suffering at home.
Imagine if the true prevalence of cancer in Canada was somewhere around 50 per cent, but the government of Canada estimated the prevalence to be approximately 20 per cent because they included in their estimate only a portion of all possible cancers. The medical community would be in an uproar because there are important implications drawn from such data.
In "The Scientific Case Against Forced Drug Treatment" presented by Robert Whitaker in February, Whitaker runs with this, blaming antipsychotics for causing psychosis. Personally, I have been on the receiving end of forced medication. I would never have consented on my own, preferring to exercise a "right to be unmedicated" over a "right to life-saving treatment." While I do not believe that every forced intervention was warranted, without some involuntary treatment I would be at best psychotic and, at worst, dead. Oh, did my voices ever want me to kill myself.
We will always have our differences but for the first time in a long time I truly felt like those who have the ability to create change in the mental health system will do so. And now more then ever the powers that be will involve the true stakeholders: the consumer advocates. We are all going to work together.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is to be congratulated on its newly introduced mental health strategy as Canada was, until this document, the only member of the G8 without one. But does having a strategy make a difference? The U.S. has a strategy and its mental health system is no better than ours.