Family and mental illness

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The Public’s guide to dealing with psychosis

I was speaking to a friend recently. She said that she was accosted by someone while walking on the greenbelt. He was delusional and feverishly trying to engage her in a grand scheme. She felt uncomfortable and was unsure of how to deal with him. A patient of mine works in a bank. She dreads when a particular client comes in because he always demands to speak to her outside, “where the cameras aren’t watching”. She too feels uncomfortable and is unsure how to respond. One of my medical colleagues was giving a talk at a restaurant which opened onto…

Parenting with a mental illness

Parenting is hard. We have to keep our children safe and fed; we have to attune to their emotional needs. We sacrifice everything for them: our time, our money, our sleep. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. Having a mental illness is hard. Sometimes getting out of bed is daunting. Acutely self-regulating one’s emotions is impossible. Reality might, at times, become a vague concept. Nobody asks for or deserves a mental illness. It is a painful and often incapacitating disability. When my patients hear that they have a diagnosis of serious mental illness, say bipolar mood disorder or…

How to love someone with serious mental illness

My gut still churns when I see that look in family members’ eyes. The one of desperate confusion and frustration. The fatigue and anger, especially if the symptoms their loved one suffers from has been ongoing for some time or involved aggression. If your loved one has a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, profound depression, bipolar mood disorder, addictions or eating disorders, it is awful. They aren’t the only ones suffering. You are too. The good news is that improvements for mental illnesses are as good, or even better than, chronic physical illnesses like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. But there is…

The lowdown of living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Historically, the border of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) refers to the edge of neurosis and psychosis. That unstable area which is always hysterical or mad. It is classified as a personality disorder. Personality disorders are considered fixed throughout life and not amenable to treatment. Unlike psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar mood disorders, which are considered chronic but responsive to treatment. It is a very bleak view of BPD. Because of this, when I was doing my specialist degree, many psychiatrists felt that it was pointless telling a patient of their BPD diagnosis, that it would just add to…

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