Friday, May 24, 2013

 

How a Mental Illness is like Diabetes

 

I tend to look at mental illness like diabetes.

 

Society would never say that diabetics use a “crutch” when using insulin. Insulin is vital to the health of diabetics and can’t be successfully managed without it. The problem is that many people don’t see mental illness as a biological issue. Despite endless medical research, some see it as only a self-controllable psychological issue.

 

Type 1 Diabetics

 

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics, based on their genetic makeup, can’t digest sugar properly from birth. Without additional insulin, their bodies would go into sepsis and, unless helped by medical intervention,

would die.

 

There was nothing they did to make themselves diabetics; they were born that way. There is nothing they can do to heal themselves from this condition—there is no cure. They must monitor their sugar levels their entire life

and take corresponding insulin.

 

Type 2 Diabetics

 

Type 2 diabetics no longer have the ability to digest sugar properly because of choices they've made, often because they've become overweight. Regardless, insulin is still needed for type 2 diabetics to maintain health. Often, if they get their bodies back to a healthy state, they no longer have an insulin problem.

Comparing Diabetes with Mental Illness

 

Like type 1 diabetics, some with a mental illness or disorder are born with it. To live a functional life, they must medically treat their illness their entire lives—there is no cure.

 

Like type 2 diabetics, others with mental illness may have placed themselves in that state based on choices they've made or experiences they've had. Either way, they need professional help, and often medical help, to function well.Comparing Diabetes with Mental Illness

 

Like type 1 diabetics, some with a mental illness or disorder are born with it. To live a functional life, they must medically treat their illness their entire lives—there is no cure.

 

Like type 2 diabetics, others with mental illness may have placed themselves in that state based on choices they've made or experiences they've had. Either way, they need professional help, and often medical help, to function well.

Knowing this, where does the idea come from that it is “wrong” to take a drug like Prozac, when doing so helps millions of people?

 

What seems more fundamentally wrong is a society that doesn't accept and help all its members, despite any biological or psychological "weakness."

 

I recently found an article, Why Having a Mental Illness Is Not Like Having Diabetes, that takes this point of view to another level and highlights how the treatment of mental illness is lacking when compared to diabetes.

This anonymous writer, who writes much better than I do, agrees that it can be helpful to think of mental illness (schizophrenia) as a "lifelong disease that requires lifelong management and drug treatment."

 

However, in the remaining sections of the article, this writer highlights how diabetes differs from a mental illness in the:

 

Hospital experience: A diabetic can expect fantastic,

 respectful, and full medical care.

 

Attitude of Family and Friends: There is not as strong of a

stigma surrounding diabetes. After a diagnosis of diabetes,

friends and family rarely treat you differently, and if they do, it

is to kindly cater to your circumstance (e.g., asking how they

can accommodate the menu when inviting you over for

dinner).

 

Course of the disease, treatment, and much more.

 

I don't wish mental illness OR diabetes on anyone.

 

With this blog post, I do not mean to marginalize mental illness by comparing it to diabetes. Much can be gained, for better or worse, by making this comparison.

 

To end, here is a book review from Jeff, who has diabetes and recently read Pros of Prozac:

 

"I have often wondered about depression and anxiety. What is it like? Can't people just change their thoughts?

 

 The author does a good job of explaining exactly what it is like to suffer with depression and anxiety. I really liked the chapter where she went into detail as to how she tried to solve the problem. She first thought that she wasn't happy because of her weight, so she worked to become healthier. Then she thought it was her finances, so she got out of debt and saved money. Eventually, she realized that there was nothing external that was causing her to feel the way she felt.

 

 Later she talks about how her eyes were opened when she was on medication. Her life was completely different. It made her realize that what she had thought was normal her entire life, really wasn't normal.

 

 Even though I've never suffered with depression, I actually really related to that chapter. I have diabetes. I didn't know it for a long time. When I went on medication, suddenly it was like I was in a whole new world. I had more energy. I didn't feel the unquenchable thirst. I stopped having migraines. I could sleep better. Even my vision improved. I had to come to the realization that my body couldn't process food (or glucose) correctly without help. When I finally had that help, my life changed. Once I was on the medication, I realized how many of the things I didn't like in my life (that I thought were normal) were because of that disease.

 

 Seeing how similar her experience with Prozac was to my experience with Metformin (my diabetes medication) really helped to open my eyes to see that there is absolutely nothing wrong with medication, whether the problem is in your body or in your mind."

 

God is great!

 

Much love,

Beca Mark

 

Sources:

Information about diabetes can be found at the U.S. National Library of Medicine or NLM (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) in the A. D. A. M Medical Encyclopedia.

 

For additional information, visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org.

 

American Diabetes Association. (2004). Nutrition principles and recommendations in diabetes (Position Statement). Diabetes Care, 27 (1), S36–S46.

 

Labels: anxiety, cons, diabetes, faith, God, gratitude, insulin, mental health, mental illness, metformin, postpartum depression, pros, Prozac, psychotropic medication, stigma, stress

 

Posted by  Beca Mark at 9:27 AM

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

 

Mental Illness Does Define Who I Am

 

As I market my book and network my Facebook page, I keep seeing a statement that others with mental illness proudly display, "Mental illness does not define me!"

 

 At first, I had the following thoughts:

•That is so true. I am so much more than my depression and anxiety.

 

•I wish those who perpetuate the stigma of mental illness could look past my mental illness to see that I am so much more.

 

•Even though I have written a book about my experience doesn't mean that my mental illness consumes all that I am.

 

•In my attempt to achieve mental health, I think about, talk about, and do so many additional things that have nothing to do with my mental illness.

 

However, the more I think about this phrase, the more I come to the conclusion that my mental illness DOES define me.

 

I have come to a very positive acceptance that my mental illness is inseparably connected with who I am and influences all that I think, say, and do.

 

And, I am better for it.

 

 Because of my experience with postpartum depression and anxiety:

 

•I feel a greater love for those around me and am better able to accept people who think, say, and do things differently than I do.

 

•I consider compassion when dealing with others.

 

•I’m more forgiving, understanding that most people are doing the very best they can.

 

•I am grateful for a second chance at life, still sharply remembering how debilitating a life with mental illness can be at times.

 

I would not trade my after-mental-illness self for the world.

 

God is great!

 

Much love,

Beca Mark

 

Labels: anxiety, cons, faith, God, gratitude, mental health, mental illness, postpartum depression, pros, Prozac, psychotropic medication, stigma, stress

 

Posted by  Beca Mark at 12:14 PM

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