The Case for Insanity November 21, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness.
Tags: Delusions, Hallucinations, mental illness
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The case for insanity is compelling
In early February 2008, at the beginning of my traipse into a world of make-believe, I had ESP. How cool is that? I talked with people in my head. Powerful people. Bill and Melinda Gates. The Dalai Lama. Oprah Winfrey. My (then) bosses. All of these people and more were at my beck and call.
Then there was my job situation. In my fantasy world, my (real) boss, via ESP, directed me to quit my (real) job. So I did. Then, via ESP, he begged for my return, promising me more money and better control over my job. In the meantime, Bill and Melinda Gates offered me a job at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For twice the money.
And yet money had no real value. I had access to Bill and Melinda Gates’ money. I had a friend who was a time traveler who could make it so that I had money whenever I wanted it. Because money meant nothing, I wrote a (NSF) check for a beautiful, gold, brand new Lexus Convertible car. Bill and Melinda Gates were going to reimburse me for the purchase as part of my new employment package. I bought a new wardrobe for my new job.
I owned $2 million in jewelry, including a 3 carat yellow diamond in a platinum setting, and an abalone bracelet that had once been owned by my (Mermaid) grandmother.
I talked with trees, dogs, and cats.
Last but not least, I was a genuine Mermaid. Fish talked to me (literally). I had fins for feet. I had a beautiful tail.
I was beautiful. I was energetic. I was wealthy.
Now tell me that mental illness is terrible.
Halloween: Damage Control October 28, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Insanity, mental illness.
Tags: Delusions, Hearing Voices, Insanity, mental illness
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Halloween’s coming around, and with it comes the worn-out old stories about the mentally ill. The slasher movies and the guts and gore of the horror-filled inspirational costumes- all coming to a theater near you.
Norman Bates in Psycho, a 1960 horror movie, was inspired by Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. The insane Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a 1974 horror movie, and Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs were both inspired by the same serial killer, a man whose “guilty but insane” conviction landed him in a mental hospital. In The Shining, Jack Nicholson gave a good impersonation of a psychotic man. Dr. Jekyl was clearly insane when he became Mr. Hyde in the 1931 classic Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Then there’s the classic: Halloween, about a young insane murderer who escapes from his Sanitarium (mental hospital) after being locked up for 15 years- ever since he was 6. Over and over the mentally ill are exploited for the benefit of the media. In fact, out of the top 50 best horror movies of all time, over half involve mental illness. Mental illness is, after all, scary.
Unfortunately for those of us who are mentally ill, the media makes no distinction between delusional people in the middle of a psychotic episode, insane murderers, schizophrenics, and what I like to call garden-variety mentally ill people (bipolar, depressed, OCD, etc). We’re all, in their collective minds, the same as Ed Gein, the Wisconsin serial killer who inspired both Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s nothing scarier, after all, than a mentally ill person. Especially a psychotic one. It’s no wonder that nobody wants to be identified as mentally ill. Who, after all, wants to be Ed Gein?
New Mental Hospital Beds Coming October 24, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospital, mental illness.
Tags: Healthcare, Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospitals
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Finally, things are looking up here in Washington State. Currently, we are 50th out of 50 in terms of mental hospital beds per capita for the State. Two new mental hospitals are scheduled to be online within the next few years. A 68 bed facility at Fairfax Hospital, where I was involuntarily committed, broke ground in May of this year. A 75 bed mental hospital, complete with a 25 bed facility for children, is seeking approval for a location in Smokey Point near Marysville in Snohomish County. Currently, Swedish Hospital in Edmonds, with 23 beds, is the only mental hospital facility in the 733,000 person county. And it doesn’t handle children.
Bringing these two hospitals online should help reduce or end the practice of “boarding”. “Boarding” is the act of keeping people housed in regular hospitals while waiting for a bed in a mental hospital to open up. This is common in King and Snohomish County because there are too few beds. In King County right now, two thirds of all detentions for involuntary commitment end up being “boarded”- sometimes for days, while waiting for a hospital bed to be freed up.
I had my own experience with “boarding” when I was involuntarily committed five years ago. During my psychotic break with reality, I thought I was a mermaid named Pangaea. Life was good in the bubble universe I was in. My friends included Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and the Dalai Lama among others. Bill and Melinda provided me with all the money I needed (in my fantasy world), and everyone hung on my every word, telling me how gorgeous I was. And I had ESP. This went on for months.
Then things turned nasty. Zombies showed up, with the intent of capturing me. It was at that point that I remembered something I learned in grade school: when your environment isn’t safe, head to a police station or hospital. So I convinced my husband to drive me to a hospital by telling him I was hearing voices. Except I didn’t mean it in the traditional way, but I knew he wouldn’t understand that I had ESP. Feeling my reality dissolving around me, I wanted my husband to take me to the nearest trauma center, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but my husband chose Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland instead.
Once we arrived, my friends told me via ESP that the hospital was a trap, and I changed my mind about wanting to be there. But I had made an error in judgment by telling my unsuspecting husband that I was hearing voices in an attempt to get him to take me to the hospital. With that confession on his mind, he wasn’t about to let me return home.
Once I displayed my fins to people in the waiting room (I could feel the flap of skin between my toes, since as a mermaid I had fins) and took off my clothes in the emergency room, they locked me in a room for hours as they waited for an overworked County Designated Mental Health Professional to examine me to determine whether to involuntarily commit me. That was in the late afternoon. After her examination, she determined that I should be committed (but I didn’t know that). That’s where the “boarding” came in. She finished her evaluation at around 4 pm, deciding to commit me. But where? At that point, she started looking for a bed at a mental hospital. But there weren’t many choices, and they were all full.
Not knowing what was going on, I sat in that locked room, for hours. Finally, around midnight, they showed up with a four point restraint board and expected me to jump on and get buckled in. I refused, so they grabbed me by the throat and pinned me down and buckled me in, then came at me with a syringe and plunged it into my thigh. I passed out, coming to in a mental hospital.
With new hospital beds on the way, and with some money (thanks to a new tax that goes towards funding for mental illness) to get training for emergency room personnel, the experience I had should become a dim memory. At least that’s what I hope.
National Mental Illness Awareness Week Oct 6-12 October 6, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness.
Tags: mental illness
Today is the beginning of National Mental Illness Awareness Week, which runs October 6th through 12th. In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI’s efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.
MIAW coincides with the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding (Oct. 8) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 10.)
National Depression Screening Day®
October 10, 2013
Take an anonymous depression screening at www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org
Screening for Mental Health offers National Depression Screening Day programs for the military, colleges and universities, community-based organizations and businesses.
Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) raises awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders.
NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that provides referral information for treatment. Through the program, more than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991.
National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) will be held on Thursday, October 10, 2013. In recognition of this national outreach, Screening for Mental Health — the sponsor of NDSD — is offering members of the public the opportunity to take a confidential and FREE screening for depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder.
The screening allows you to find out whether or not a professional consultation would be helpful to you. Please know that no specific information about individuals is collected.
Many screening sites across the country are hosting National Depression Screening Day events in the next several weeks. To find a screening site near you, visit the www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org. To learn more about Screening for Mental Health, go to www.mentalhealthscreening.org. If there is not a screening site listed in your area, you can find a treatment facility near you by going to the SAMHSA Mental Health Services Locator.
Lock up the Mentally Ill to Prevent Mass Murders September 19, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Committment Hearing, Delusions.
Tags: Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, Insanity, Involuntary Committment
A young woman on Anderson Cooper 360 last night called Aaron Alexis “a crazy schizophrenic” and stopped just short of saying he should have been locked up. Let’s take a close look at this idea, because it’s going to rear its ugly head.
First of all, Alexis was never diagnosed with a mental illness. So how do we find people like him and lock them up so they don’t kill people? Let’s lock up anyone we suspect of having a mental illness. That would do the trick.
How do we find those people?
Let’s make the police find them for us. Any time someone calls the police about someone acting bizarrely, let’s have the police assess that bizarrely acting person. After all, the police interviewed Alexis when he called them to report someone was “sending microwaves through the wall”. Anyone who makes bizarre statements like that should be locked up.
What about people who are acting bizarrely because they’re drunk? Let’s not count those people.
Where should they go to be locked up? Let’s build more mental hospital beds to house them all. How many beds will they need? Well, if you count the number of people who want to commit suicide, there probably needs to be four times as many hospital beds as there are now. Or don’t we want to count those people? After all, they just want to take their own life- not anyone else’s. Except for those people who do things like get in bad car accidents, managing to accidentally take the life of others with them. So we should definitely count the suicidal in our sweeping net.
Should we let the police be the ones to make the official determination, or should we bring in someone trained to handle such a task, like the Designated Mental Health Professional? That clinician determines whether someone is a danger to themselves or others, the current standard for involuntary commitment. And that’s what we’re talking about: involuntarily committing anyone who exhibits bizarre behavior. We don’t really need a DHMP because the police already performed that function when they took the police report.
Violating people’s civil rights (which is, when you get down to it, what involuntary commitment is) will become commonplace. I don’t want to live in such a world.
Suicide By Cop Wannabe September 15, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Uncategorized.
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At 9 am, a handsome, barefoot 60 year old man wearing a hospital gown obviously open in the back wheeled into our group meeting at Fairfax Hospital. His medium frame was covered in scratch marks and black and blue bruises. His dark blue bloodshot eyes were ringed with purple and black. He looked like he had survived a terrible car wreck. He said his name was Chuck.
Chuck explained that he had been bipolar for years, but like many manic-depressives, he never experienced the manic state. He only experienced the depressed state. And alcohol made things much, much worse. As he sat at a bar in downtown Seattle downing drink after drink, he became increasingly depressed the more he drank. He became so depressed that suicide started to look like his best option. But he was too chicken to do it himself. He wanted someone to do it for him. Then it came to him: he could get a cop to kill him! And so he decided to go the “suicide by cop” route. His intent was to escalate his bad behavior to such an outrageous, over-the-top point that a cop would be forced to kill him. He proceeded to put his plan into action, stirring up quite a scene until at last the cops were called. He fought hard with the cops, trying to force them to kill him. But instead of killing him, the cops were forced to beat him until they managed to subdue him. Then they hauled his ass to Fairfax. That outcome wasn’t in his plans at all. He expected to be dead.
Chuck was very angry about being at Fairfax. Know why? Because he was supposed to either be dead or ship out on a fishing boat back to Alaska in three days. He clearly wasn’t dead, and it didn’t look like he would be able to make that trip to Alaska. When the boat left, he would remain behind, locked up at the psych ward as an involuntarily committed mental patient. Boy was he pissed!
Ketamine: The New Wonder Drug August 25, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Depression, Medication, Suicide.
Tags: Depression, Suicide
At our recent NAMI Washington conference in Ellensburg a few weeks ago, the most exciting thing I heard about was a drug called ketamine. It’s a drug that relieves severe depression symptoms almost immediately. It would save the lives of the 35,000 people who die of suicide in the United States each year and substantially improve the quality of life of those who suffer from depression.
But with all of the promise this drug elicits, the problem is that there aren’t enough studies to warrant adding “antidepressant” to its list of “on-label” uses. The best we can do right now is administer it as an “off-label” use at hospital emergency rooms or mental hospitals, which is where suicide wanna-be’s show up, or at psychiatrist offices, where people with severe depression seek help.
Ketamine has historically been used as an anesthetic in humans and animals, and its antidepressant quality was accidentally discovered when people undergoing surgery experienced a lifting of their depression upon awaking or shortly thereafter. The antidepressant effect was traced to ketamine.
Further studies, though limited in quantity, confirmed that 70% of people given ketamine injections experienced substantial relief of their depression symptoms after administration of this drug- some in as little as 2 hours after the drug was administered. That’s a world away from the 4 to 8 weeks needed for a traditional antidepressant to work. It can mean the difference between someone committing suicide and staying alive. Or it can mean a substantial improvement in quality of life for those suffering from depression.
One of the problems with getting enough documentation in order for the US Food and Drug Administration to approve ketamine as an antidepressant is that the drug is an old one, with an expired patent. That means that no drug company is willing to spend the money necessary to finance drug studies to prove the drug works as an antidepressant.
Although the cost of an injection seems like a lot of money to us, (about $900) that’s not enough money to entice drug companies to spend vast sums necessary to administer the necessary testing. So, instead of the traditional path through drug companies, testing will have to be done through grants from the National Institute of Mental Health or other bodies like that, with no financial interest in selling the drug. The best we can hope for from the drug companies is an isolation of the mechanism that works in ketamine, and a new drug developed from that mechanism. That could take years. In the meantime, its antidepressant use must be limited to “off-label”.
One of the challenges associated with ketamine is that it has an unfavorable image as a “club drug”, a drug used by young people frequenting clubs to get high. When used in large doses, it induces an out-of-body experience, something drug users are attracted to. This use impacts the politics of the drug, since no one wants to be caught developing a drug like LSD.
Since I haven’t seen him since my conference, I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with my psychiatrist about this drug. That conversation will be interesting. Stay tuned.
Hearing Voices Network August 7, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Hallucinations, mental illness.
Tags: Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness
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What Are Voices & Visions?
When we talk about voices and visions, we simply mean someone is hearing, seeing or sensing something that others around them aren’t. These experiences can include all five senses, hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. These experiences can occur in one sense at a time (hearing a voice, for example, or smelling something), but they can also happen in combination.
For some, these experiences can be comforting. For example, someone who is lonely may really value a voice that becomes a trusted confidant. A person who has recently lost someone they care about may benefit from talking to them at the end of the day, or smelling their perfume/aftershave. Others find these experiences to be a source of inspiration. Authors, for example, sometimes talk about how the characters can come to life and write the story for them. However, for some people these voices and visions can be extremely distressing – criticising, threatening or causing confusion.
How Common Is It?
Statistics vary, but it’s generally accepted that between 3 and 10% of the population hear voices that other people don’t. If you include one off experiences (like hearing someone call your name when you’re out shopping, or feeling your phone vibrate in your pocket) this figure goes up to 75%. So, having at least one experience of hearing or seeing something that others around you don’t is incredibly common. Those that have never had this experience are in the minority.
A number of famous and important people (past and present) have experience of hearing or seeing things that other people don’t. Without these people, the world would be a very different place. This list of famous people who have talked or written about hearing voices includes: Gandhi, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Freud, Anthony Hopkins, Philip K Dick, John Frusciante, Carlos Santana, Robert Schumann, John Forbes Nash, Zoe Wannamaker and Charles Dickens.
What’s It Like?
We’re all unique, so it’s unsurprising that voices and visions can be equally individual in terms of their identity, content, interpretation and impact. The following gives a brief overview. If you don’t recognise your experience here, that doesn’t mean you’re ‘weird’ or ‘unusual’.
Some people hear voices talking when no-one is around. These could be like the voices of people they know, or complete strangers. They might hear many voices, or just one. Voices can shout, whisper, be clear or muffled. They can speak in sentences or say single words. These voices can be male, female, genderless, old or young. Sometimes they have names, but not always. Voices can speak constantly (24/7), but they can also utter occasional words or phrases. People can hear other types of sounds too, including knocking, rustling, crying, screaming or music.
Some voices can be positive – providing the support and encouragement someone needs to get through the day. Other voices can be confusing, perhaps echoing thoughts or repeating strange phrases. Some voices can be very frightening, saying things that are critical, threatening or commanding. Voices can claim to have great power and knowledge, which can sometimes leave the voice-hearer feeling scared and powerless. Some voices can leave a person feeling very vulnerable and exposed (e.g. hearing a crowd of people jeering at you, or discussing intimate details of your life).
Some people see things that others don’t. These visions can be very clear and realistic, but they can also include fuzzy shapes, shadows and beams of light. Some people see the voices that they hear, others see insects or spiders. For some, the visions are very complex (like entering into another world). For others, the visions sit alongside their everyday world (an added box, person or animal for example). Sometimes, it can seem as if people or objects are changing shape. Their faces may turn to stone, they may be surrounded by a coloured aura or, for example, their eyes may change colour. As with voices, these visions can be reassuring, funny, frightening or distracting.
Some people smell things that remind them of their past. This could be something nice, like a loved one’s perfume/aftershave or a favourite food.
Sometimes people smell things that remind them of a particularly traumatic experience. For example, someone who survived a house fire may smell smoke when they feel anxious. Someone who was hurt by someone wearing a particular scent may, sometimes, smell this when there is no-one there to account for it. This can be extremely frightening, especially if they don’t recognise that this sensory experience comes from the past.
For others, the smell isn’t linked to a particular memory or traumatic event. For example, some people smell gas, burning or rotting food. These smells can feel very real and leave them fearing for their safety.
It can be difficult for someone to know that they’re tasting something that others can’t – unless they get someone else to try it too. This can make taste experiences particularly difficult to deal with. Some people get a strong bitter taste in their food or drink and, understandably, start to worry that there is something wrong with it. This can lead people to worry that they are being poisoned, or that someone is tampering with their food. Others have taste sensations when they are not eating. This might be when they are hearing a voice, watching a TV programme or thinking about something. These taste sensations can be pleasant (e.g. chocolate or a favourite food), but they can also be unnerving or unpleasant (e.g. something bitter or metallic).
Some people can feel things on their skin when there doesn’t seem to be anything there. They might feel something crawling over their skin, tickling them or pushing them. Sometimes people feel something underneath their skin, and this can lead them to feel really worried about what is happening to their body.
Understandably these experiences can be very confusing and frightening. It’s not as simple as this, though. For others, these experiences can be reassuring. Someone who feels lonely and hears a reassuring voice may feel comforted if they feel a hand on their shoulder. They might interpret it as a sign that the voice is trying to support them.
Why Do People Hear Voices
There are lots of different theories and ideas to explain why people hear voices or see visions. These include:
- A special gift or sensitivity
- Trauma or adverse life experiences
- Spiritual experiences
- Biochemical (e.g. excess dopamine)
- Paranormal experiences
- Emotional distress
- Physical health problems
- Cognitive error (misattribution of ‘internal speech’)
- Individual difference
The truth is that we do not know why people hear voices or see visions. As the experience is so diverse, it’s likely that there are a number of different explanations. Whilst this can be frustrating for those who feel confused and would like a simple answer or some certainty, it means that the most important explanation is the one that the voice-hearer themselves finds useful. It is important not to impose your own belief on someone else’s experience – this is fundamental to the Hearing Voices Network approach. Rather than providing a dogmatic view of voice-hearing, we recognise and celebrate a festival of explanations.
Whatever someone believes about their experiences, the most important thing is to find ways of dealing with that belief and finding some sense of power, control and hope within it.
Is Recovery Possible?
At the Hearing Voices Network we use the word recovery to mean ‘living the life you choose, not the life others choose for you’ (whether those others are family, friends, workers or voices). Many people who hear voices simply don’t need to recover – they are already living lives that they love. The voices might enhance their wellbeing, or their experiences may simply not detract from it.
For those who have particularly overwhelming experiences that lead them into the mental health services, recovery can feel like a distant dream. The good news is that people can, and do, find ways to deal with (and recover from) distressing voices. Perhaps more importantly, people can also recover from the situations that can make voices and visions so hard to deal with. Many people who recover continue to hear voices. Sometimes these voices change during the recovery process (being an ally, rather than an attacker). Other times these voices become quieter, less intrusive or even disappear altogether. Others find that the voices stay the same, but that they are no longer ruled by them. They feel stronger and more able to choose whether to listen to the voices or not.
We have witnessed many amazing journeys of recovery in the Hearing Voices Network. These journeys are, by their very nature, very individual. However, these journeys have led us to believe that no matter how overwhelmed or distressed the person is by their experiences (or whatever labels they have collected throughout their time in the mental health system) – recovery IS possible.
(Reprinted from Hearing Voices Network- http://www.hearing-voices.org)
Gains Sequential Intercept Model July 21, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Law Enforcement.
Tags: Insanity, Law Enforcement, mental illness
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The Sequential Intercept Model is a framework for understanding how people with mental illness interact with the criminal justice system. The model, which was described by Mark Munetz and Patricia Griffin in 2006 in Psychiatric Services, presents this interaction as a series of points where interventions can be made to prevent a person from entering the justice system or becoming further entangled.
The points of interception include law enforcement and emergency services; initial detention and hearing; jails, courts, forensic evaluation and forensic hospitalizations; reentry from jails, prisons and hospitalization; and community supervision and community support services. According to the model, at each of these points, there are unique opportunities to assist a person in getting appropriate services and preventing further justice involvement.
Without intervention, these stages can become a revolving door – with individuals encountering law enforcement during a crisis, and progressing through the various stages of involvement, until they are released from jail or prison. Without support or intervention during this process, there’s a high likelihood that the individual will ultimately come back into contact with law enforcement during another crisis and repeat the cycle.
Ideally, the best point of intervention is in the community, before law enforcement becomes involved, and treatment needs can best be met by community mental health services. Unfortunately, if these services do not adequately address the needs, a person in crisis may be drawn into the criminal justice system. Even with adequate community services, a few people may slip through the cracks and encounter police. In a system with appropriate interventions at each intercept, fewer and fewer people will slip through the cracks, so by the time of release from jail and prison, most people should be connected with services to help them recover and prevent further contact with the justice system.
How can Communities use the Sequential Intercept Model?
While many communities have successfully implemented some response to the crisis of criminalization, such as police-based diversions (like CIT) or mental health courts, most communities do not have comprehensive plans that address the entire spectrum of criminal justice involvement. Few communities now meet the ideal, but many are striving to become more responsive and effective by using the model for planning. According to leaders in many communities, the Sequential Intercept Model has helped them move forward in planning a systematic response to the criminalization of mental illness in their communities.
Michele Saunders, a leader of the Florida CIT Coalition, says that the Sequential Intercept Model has been the basis of planning sessions in several Florida communities that helped to “map” the path that a person with mental illness takes through the criminal justice system. Saunders says communities have “mapped the process of a person with mental illness who has contact with the criminal justice system from the point of contact with law enforcement to the time of release from jail or prison.” This process helps identify where there currently are opportunities to divert someone out of the justice system, and also where there are gaps in services.
Saunders reports that using the Sequential Intercept Model for planning brings together a very broad group of stakeholders, and helps them work together rather than in isolation to problem-solve. The process builds better relationships between stakeholders, and helps them create a common vision for responding to people with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system. The result is better-coordinated services and more people diverted from the criminal justice system.
Stephen Bush, an attorney with the Shelby County (TN) Public Defender and coordinator of the county’s post-booking jail diversion program, the Jericho Project, agrees that the Sequential Intercept Model has been a useful tool for planning. While Shelby County has long been known for its pre-booking jail diversion strategies through the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model, the county has embraced the Sequential Intercept Model as a conceptual framework to develop comprehensive systems to engage persons with mental illness at key points in the interface between mental health and justice systems.
Shelby County has developed a new strategic plan based on the Sequential Intercept Model which allows them to see where resources are needed and prioritize the types of services and interventions that will be most effective. The model, according to Bush, is helping the county expand beyond relying solely on CIT and respond to people “who are already under parole or probation supervision; at the point of re-entry from local corrections systems; caught deep within the court system; and to gain fast track release of persons shortly after arrest.” Says Bush, “This strategy will guide local systems development and capacity expansion for years to come.”
(Reprinted from NAMI National’s website)
Hearing Voices June 26, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hearing Voices.
Tags: Delusions, Hearing Voices
Hearing voices means different things to different people. In my case, it means that a voice inside my head talks to me. It isn’t a woman’s voice or a man’s voice. It has no pitch, but the words are distinct. Although the words are coming from inside my head, the perspective is that of someone standing or sitting next to me or walking alongside me. If I’m alone, the voice makes observations about my surrounding area or my life in general or makes statements about things. If I’m with another person, the voice tries to tell me what to say out loud. It asks me to ask that person questions or asks me to make observation statements to them. That failing, the voice makes observations about my environment.
People are surprised that I still hear the voices, despite the fact that I know they aren’t real. They think I should be able to make them go away simply by telling them they aren’t real. It seems logical that it would work that way, but in fact it doesn’t. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time arguing with the voices, telling them I knew they didn’t exist. But it didn’t do any good. They talked anyway. In fact, I got in arguing matches with them, which probably isn’t a good idea. They outlast me. They always win the argument, and I think their interaction with me to the degree an argument requires simply adds more stress to the situation.
I know that some people think the questions or thoughts from the voices are actually my subconscious, but I disagree. The voice’s questions and statements are not part of my regular thought pattern. It is as if there is another person inside my mind, doing and saying things on their own. There’s someone foreign in my mind with me, and they won’t go away. I can’t integrate their thoughts into my own, because their thoughts are separate from mine. If the voices were truly just a part of my subconscious, they would be able to read my mind. But they can’t. They have no idea what I’m thinking. They’re a separate entity entirely.
I am fortunate that the voices don’t tell me to harm people or myself, and that the comments and questions are innocuous at best and annoying at worst. The scary part is that when the voices return, it’s as if there is someone else in my head- an alien of sorts. I can’t have my mind to myself, and the voices crowd out my own thoughts. I miss being inside my head alone.
When I reduce my stress level, the voices fade into the background and eventually disappear. But when my stress level increases, the voices return. At first they’re just there occasionally, but the more severe the stress, the more of my mind they inhabit. They take over more of my day, crowding out my own thoughts, until the stress dies down. Then they’re gone again for awhile, until the next set of stressors arrives. It’s been this way since I got out of the mental hospital, which was five years ago on the 18th of this month (June 2013).
I know my family is afraid of the voices. Actually they’re afraid that the voices will displace my mind entirely and that the voices won’t let me back into my mind. But I have confidence that my psychiatrist will be able to make them go away if they get too powerful. He did that for me when I was hospitalized, and I trust that he can do it again if he has to. The only thing I have to do to keep them from taking over is to watch my stress, but that’s easier said than done in life. Things happen that I can’t control. And that’s a bad thing because it brings the voices back. But so far, I have been able to return to my mind, alone, after the stress goes down. So far so good.