Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

so-called imbalances & so-called cures

In 2013, I began to suspect that mental illness was more than a simple matter of “chemical imbalance.” I didn’t say much about this suspicion, because I had very little–apart from personal experience–to substantiate it.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading Robert Whitaker’s 2010 Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Above and beyond confirming my suspicions with abundant (non pharma-funded) research studies, he tore apart the whole idea of mental illness as resulting from “chemical imbalance.”

Whitaker’s research suggested that “science” here was designed to fit very profitable pills from the beginning. Furthermore, and most alarmingly, he discovered strong correlations between medication and worse long-term outcomes. It was as if, he hypothesized in the book’s early pages, the medication itself was responsible for today’s mental health epidemic, with outcomes far worse than those reflected in a century’s worth of mental history data and for far, far more people.

There’s no way to summarize nearly 400 pages of meticulous documentation here. I won’t even bother, though I will encourage you to read the book if you’re curious what science actually supports.

What I do want share is a startling segment from the 2015 research afterward. It’s one thing to have a critic suggesting standard wisdom is far from wise; it’s another to have a member of the critiqued group confirming the same.

In a section titled “The Death of the Chemical Imbalance Story,” Whitaker includes an excerpt from an article written by the editor-in-chief emeritus of Psychiatric Times: Read more…


Maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be different

As Christmas nears, many strangers find my blog searching for “first christmas without mom.” This post leads them here. This later post probably contributes to the traffic.

Today I’m home with a sick toddler. He’s alternately screaming and babbling. Some moments he wants my comfort; others he wants to be left completely alone. In his leave-alone moments, I’m tidying up what little I can as I listen to him babble. More and more of his words makes sense in combination.

“No more outside!” he exclaimed as we walked back inside earlier. “Is a nose,” he said sagely while pointing at Black Widow’s nose on a gift bag.

As I listen to him, I think of my mom. She must have had like mornings with me when I was little.

I think of my godmother, Anna, who snuggled with both my sons while we were in Oregon last weekend. Read more…

Metamorphosis Mondays

November 23, 2015 Comments off


I’ve written about my mom’s mental illness many times here. Most recently, I posted a series of related excerpts from my journal entries through the years. These culminated with”No longer afraid,” a post expressing the peace of mind I earned by revisiting then through eyes of now.

This morning I’m over on La Sabronosa’s blog, “My Spanglish Familia.” Her blog eases loneliness by its candid, warm address of her life, though its focus is on “Motherhood, Mental Illness, and Metamorphosis.”

When I began my WordPress journey, I only wanted to post when I felt confident I’d found an answer for whatever question I’d had. Now, I find the good’s in sharing where I’m at, no matter how far away answers seem: in embracing the beauty of change in progress. Of metamorphosis.

I’m honored to be part of La Sabronosa’s “Metamorphosis Mondays” Q&A feature this Monday. Please join me there to see light shone in corners I’d never shine it without an invitation.

Metamorphosis Mondays Q&A with Deb The Closet Monster

No longer afraid

Something enraged me last month.

This story isn’t about that something. It’s about what happened afterward.

I told my husband I was enraged. He didn’t get why, saying multiple variations of, “It seems reasonable to me.”

I was floored. “Understanding this is so intrinsic to understanding who I am, if you don’t understand what’s wrong with this, you don’t understand me!”

I sometimes forget he wasn’t there for my mother’s full descent into schizophrenia. He is so intrinsic to my now, I feel like he’s been part of my every now. History says otherwise: He was there only for the very end, and then mostly from a distance. Read more…

The Sisterhood of the Waves

At 2:35 p.m. on March 4, 2011, I soared over the ocean in a Ferris wheel.

I seldom remember what I was doing any given day, let alone any hour or minute, but this was a moment I needed to spend laughing.

My mom had died one year ago that very minute, and I wanted to make sure I spent that minute’s entirety remembering not how my mom died, but how she lived. We’d laughed together on that Ferris wheel on her one vacation. That very same trip, she’d shouted for me and Jay Leno to get a “chin shot, chin shot!” on account of our mutually sizable chins. Read more…

The During, part 4: Fragments and Shadows

It’s so hard for me to read these particular entries, knowing as I do now how little time I then had left with even fragments and shadows of my mom.

Click here for The During, part 3,
or here for the why of these posts.

November 2, 2006

Yesterday I was stressing. I was stressing about my mom, whose 49th birthday corresponded with my 28th. I was distressed by news her locks had been drilled out and her house emptied. The distress continued straight through the evening, when Rache and I walked through Mom’s bare house, walked the neighborhood in search of her, and talked through some of our worries and guilt. That eased some of the burden on my heart, though I confess my sadness continues and likely will till there is some kind of resolution to this sorry situation.

Newly 28, with none od the sadness showing

Newly 28, with none of the sadness showing

November 3, 2006

Is it okay to fill out a missing person report when the person who’s missing maybe just doesn’t want to be found by you? Read more…

The During, part 3: Treatment beyond Our Consent

Over and over and over again while my siblings and I struggled to get help for our mom, we were chastised for letting her go unhelped. It was the damndest thing.

People usually offered the admonishment gently, but one neighbor put it more bluntly when I ran into her at a garage sale. “It’s a shame you kids aren’t doing more for your mom!” she told me, scowling.

“You have no idea what we are or aren’t doing for her,” I replied curtly before walking away. My youngest sister, recalling this exchange a few days ago, said she was surprised I didn’t punch this neighbor in the face. I was, too.

She had no idea. But then again, it wasn’t so long before that I, too, had been clueless.

Click here for The During, part 2,
or here for the why of this all.

March 19, 2004

Last night was a night of missing.

I missed my mom most of all. I wanted to call her just to talk, to hear her voice, the one that used to make me laugh and feel all the things the world could be: wounded and beautiful, kind and angry, soft and harsh all at once. This was a voice that taught me wisdom, to really look at the world and try seeing it for what it is. I wished so much I could pick up the phone and call, but… even if I did, she probably wouldn’t answer. If she did answer, the voice would not have been the same that could have such soothing power when I was sick or hurting in younger days. Instead it’s a frantic, manic voice, bringing words that bear no relation to anything I’ve just said. She doesn’t listen, doesn’t know how, just speaks of conspiracies against her. I also told her how I felt, told her I can’t communicate with her till she seeks treatment, and I guess I have to be firm even on those nights where I want nothing more than my big, strong mommy to hold me and make the world be okay. Read more…

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