General Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Do you know someone with a mental illness?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (32641points) March 20th, 2012

What is their illness? Do they take medication and/or use therapy to deal with it?

What else do they do to help alleviate their symptoms?

Is there anything of particular help on the Internet?

This is a General Section question. Please, stay on topic. I’m looking for ideas not chit-chat.

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43 Answers

seekingwolf's avatar

Yes, I do. Everyone in my family has some sort of mental illness. Everyone has depression (including myself), depression (all of us), OCD (brother and mom), ADD (brother), severe autism that causes some cognitive issues (sister).
I have a good friend who has bipolar.
I know a family friend who has paranoid schizophrenia.

We are all on medications that have been found to work for the each of us, through help of a doctor plus some trial and error. I’ve been on mine for years without issue. My sister functions and thinks better with hers. So does my brother. Everyone does therapy except for my dad, who seems to fare fine with his drugs alone.

The bipolar one did Lithium for a few years, then started to use medicinal weed. Swears by it, even though I do believe it can be dangerous for bipolars.

Schizo guy is drugged up and is finally living back at home, working a minimum wage job and being functional in society. Keyword: functional. A lot better than he was a year ago, running off, hearing voices, etc.

I swear by medication and therapy.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Sure, tons. Come to think of it, I know more people with mental disorders than without (assuming I know them well enough to know that info).

What has helped has depended on the specific issue at hand, where it’s coming from, and what they’re looking for. Some have done talk therapy (psychoanalysis, CBT, DBT, integrative, etc), some have done therapy that’s more bio focused (like neurofeedback and EMDR), some have done group therapy and/or support groups, some read a lot, some have done medication, some have self-medicated, some have meditated, and most people have tried at least two of the above.

Is there any particular issue you’re looking for help with?

jerv's avatar

Depression, ADHD, Aspergers, Paranoid Schizophrenia, bipolar… my family has a full gamut of issues. And I haven;t even listed them all!

The thing is, there really is no “magic bullet”, and sure as hell no “one size fits all” solution. Some of us are literally criminally insane without medication, some of us are actually a danger to ourselves only when medicated but perfectly fine without ay drugs at all. Some of us respond to therapy, some not so much.

Unlike @seekingwolf, I have seen and experienced medication gone wrong, and thus have serious reservations about medication. They don’t always work, and sometimes they really are worse than the affliction they are trying to mitigate. When they work, it’s wonderful; when they don’t… well, it can range between annoying to deadly.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aethelflaed : At this point, I’m looking for general information about how prevalent mental illness is around the members of Fluther and about the steps people are taking to help with it. I’m not looking for a particular issue.

cookieman's avatar

I have a cousin in his early 40s who developed Bipolar Disorder in his 20s (shortly after getting married). I have heard he is on medication and does well (still married).

I have another cousin in his 60s who has some form of Mental Retardation (since birth). I don’t know the specifics, but I was told that his parents placed him in a “home” as a child in the 1950s. While I remember seeing him at the occasional family get-together, I know he has lived in this “home” his entire life. I don’t know if he’s on medication.

My mother was diagnosed back in the late-70s/early-80s with Narcacistic Personality Disorder (or something similar). She rejected treatment for this and, instead, shopped around for a therapist who told her what she wanted to hear. I don’t know if she was ever officially medicated early on, but I know in later years she self-medicated with Valium. She’s never admitted to having a problem.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Hmmm. Well, there’s a couple on the autism spectrum, a few with totally random mood disorders, waaaay more with not-random mood disorders, several with disordered eating, a goodly amount who have no idea what’s up and don’t care but need shit to get better, and then a crazy huge amount that fall under the large tent that is trauma.

stardust's avatar

Yes, I have bipolar disorder. I know a couple of people who have bipolar disorder, depression and anorexia nervosa.
I’m currently using medication and talk-therapy. I try to use holistic methods to keep me well, i.e. meditation, diet, etc.
The internet can be helpful, but I often find forums more suited as a place to vent as opposed to maintaining a proactive attitude. This is only my own limited experience with a couple of mental health forums. I don’t make a habit of using these forums.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, I grew up with a family member who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens, but suffered from it beginning in early childhood.

He was hospitalized at that time, and put on tranquilizers, but after a couple of years, the hospital was shut down, he went out to live on his own. I don’t believe he was taking any kind of medication.

He held a variety of different jobs over the years, and is now on Social Security and SSI for emphysema.

emeraldisles's avatar

Two People that have bipolar disorder. My mom’s on medication finally. There’s a long history of moderate to severe depression which I believe I’ve come into contact with. I have one first cousin with autism. That’s all I can think of for family.

SuperMouse's avatar

Yep, I was diagnosed with bi-polar II, but I think it was more of a situational depression and once I got out of the situation (i.e. an incredibly dysfunctional marriage), the depression lifted. Other then my own personal experience I interact daily with loved ones who live with severe depression, bi-polar, borderline personality disorder, and reactive attachment disorder.

Those with depression are on SSRI’s along with anti-anxiety meds. One family member with bi-polar doesn’t take meds and tries to handle it day by day sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much. I wish he would get on meds and get permanently stable. The individual with borderline personality disorder is completely oblivious and could care less who he hurts or how much. The person with reactive attachment disorder works hard every single day to live a happy life and heal the impact of RAD.

marinelife's avatar

With the incidence of mental illness, is there anyone who doesn’t? I do know people with mental illness. They have OCD, badly enough to impact their lives and those of people around them, and they stay on their medication.

KatawaGrey's avatar

There is no mental illness in my family that I know of then again, there is a whole other half of my genetics about which I know nothing but my best friend does have a few mental disorders herself. She has clinical depression, anxiety and a very rare disorder that I will not mention here because it is rare enough that she may recognize that I am talking about her if she ever comes on fluther.

Ordinarily, her depression, anxiety and rare disorder would be kept in check with drugs and therapy but she is mostly drug-resistant and the few drugs she’s tried that she’s not resistant to have affected her very badly and, in some cases, even exacerbated her conditions. She keeps her disorders in check with lots of therapy. She is also a very logical person so she’s actually quite good at articulating what’s making her anxious or depressed and dealing as best she can with it. Her other disorder is much more problematic. I did notice that once she confided in me what that disorder was and we were able to talk about it I didn’t freak out like most people would have it not only strengthened our friendship but also made her more comfortable because she can talk to me about it.

wundayatta's avatar

I have bipolar disorder. My cousins on my father’s side have bipolar and one also has aspergers. My aunt on my mother’s side had bipolar. I go to group meetings for people with bipolar, and just about everybody there has bipolar, except those with schizophrenia, unipolar depression, seizures, and a bunch of other diagnoses.

Everyone takes meds or has taken meds. All get therapy or have gotten therapy. All get support where they can.

There is a lot of help on the internet. NAMI. Many different support groups are available online. There is also a lot of information at the various medical sites like WebMD.

wildpotato's avatar

My brother and I both have Tourette Syndrome. His is considered medium-grade and mine extremely mild (ladies usually suffer less from it than guys). Symptoms decreased for both of us a few years ago around age 19, which is common (they re-appear a few years later for ⅔ of people – so far so good for both of us though). His symptoms used to be awful (he broke both his elbows at one point from having to fling his arms out violently every few minutes), and he still takes 5 or 6 different meds daily to control the tics and ADHD (unfortunately, meds for one exacerbate the other). I do not take meds for Tourette’s and never have (unless weed counts), because my symptoms were so mild the side effects from the meds would have been worse than the ticcing.

There is no way I know of other than meds to treat Tourette’s. One thing I used to do a lot in lieu of meds for my really noticeable tics like nose-twitching and tongue-flapping is transfer the impulse to tic onto a new twitch, using muscles in and around the same area that the original tic was focused. But that’s not really a treatment for the Syndrome, obviously.

The Internet wasn’t around when my brother and I were just learning what Tourette’s was when we were like 5 & 10, so it actually never occurred to me to look to the Internet for answers. So it hasn’t been helpful for us, but we’ve never really tried to use it.

I have been diagnosed with major depression and anxiety. I do not take meds because I have an oddly unshakeable mental hangup about them, and because the one I tried exacerbated my IBS a lot. So I self-treat it with marijuana and kayaking, and go to therapy at times when I have health insurance.

Akua's avatar

My Uncle (mother’s brother) is paranoid Schizophrenic (sp?) and he takes meds although I’m not sure what he takes now. He was never violent. Because of his disease he became addicted to street drugs in an attempt to self-medicate and it was during this period when he passed out in the snow and got frost-bite on his fingers and toes. Subsequently they had to all be amputated. He is in his late 50’s now and doing well. He has his own apt. that he got through an assisted/Indepenent living program and I think that he was going to school to become a drug counselor.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’ve suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD. The depression and anxiety are intricately tied to the PTSD. I have been on medication to alleviate symptoms but I found the only cure, for me, was therapy. A LOT of therapy.

Happily, I am no longer on medication and therapy is wrapping up.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I know a paronoid schizophrenic that does well when his meds work and is really scary when they don’t. He has good days and bad days, but he’s never given me any real cause for concern.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Akua's avatar

@emeraldisles mentioned Autism which is actually a developmental disorder and not a mental illness. @Hawaii_Jake did the original question apply to DD as well? If so then I will mention that I have a 17 year old daughter who is severely autistic. She was diagnosed at 3 yrs old and was on meds from ages 3 to age 13 and because of the severity of her symptoms she has been on everything at one point or another and sometimes more than one drug at the same time. Risperdal, Ritalin, prozac, lithium, etc. you name it they tried it. She never slept and if she did it was only about 2–3 hours a night, she was very aggressive and would have violent outbursts if she didn’t get what she wanted, she displayed symptoms of Tourettes at times and OCD. The outbursts became more frequent and more violent the older she got. The doctor’s could not understand why the meds didn’t work. They realized that not only was she resistant to drugs (her body metabolized the drugs and broke them down immediately) but she was hyposensitive. She did not feel pain at all. In 2003 we got into a car accident and she was (of course) uncooperative when the doctors wanted to examine her to see if she was injured. They gave her doses of drugs that would paralyze a grown man to keep her immobile but it had no effect. They said they could not increase the dosage or it would stop her heart so they had to intubate her and put her in a medically induced coma for two days so they could do X-rays and tests. She had a bruised liver and a broken orbital bone from the accident. But she didn’t feel any pain. She has been in a private school in MA for children with autism since 2007 and she has been off meds for 5 years. She is still very aggressive (and sometimes if you bother her she will hurt someone) but she is doing a lot better and in July she turns 18.

Ron_C's avatar

I see a person with mental problems very time I shave.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Akua There isn’t any official differentiation between a mental illness, a mental disorder, and a developmental disorder (or, for that matter, mental health and madness). Different people use the terms in different ways, but there’s no official stance on what the boundaries are, and they vary rather greatly between various groups and philosophies.

Ron_C's avatar

@Aethelflaed I believe that “developmental disorder” is different from mental illness or disorders.

downtide's avatar

I have two friends who are bipolar, but I don’t pry enough to ask what medication they’re on. It seems intrusive and un-necessary.

Akua's avatar

@Aethelflaed I tend to agree with @Ron_C . I think there is a big difference between Autism or DD and lets say Schizophrenia. And if there is no official stance between the two then my opinion isn’t wrong. It’s just what I think.

Ron_C's avatar

@Akua okay, the difference is not worth an argument. Good question anyway.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know, but maybe @Aethelflaed was referring to their inclusion in the DSM IV?

Berserker's avatar

I knew a guy, one of my dad’s friends who was schizophrenic. He was diagnosed, but he himself denied it, or when he did accept it, he’d come back later to tell us the disorder was gone. This was a cycle with him. I know nothing about this stuff, so I have no idea if his personality is to be associated with the disorder, I’m guessing yes. But the guy was mostly happy and hyper, and a bit goofy.
My dad told me some few things, about how his friend would come over and ask my dad to tell one of their other friends to stop appearing through his floor along with his pet rats, or he’d talk about ghosts that ’‘fished’’ his thoughts away. He never mentioned any of this to me though. I know he was on medication, or it was prescribed to him anyway, but I’m not entirely sure if he ever took it or not.

I knew this other guy in Winnipeg when I lived in a rooming house who was also schizophrenic. Unlike my dad’s friend, he was quiet and reserved. He was also never home, so I never got to know him very well. He ended up committing suicide, but I have no idea how related the schizophrenia is to that. I have no idea if he received treatment. Living in poor ass areas for more than half my life, I’ve seen many people who are mentally ill and obviously get no treatment. Probably came by many with disorders that may not show as much, but who still didn’t get treatment either.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Ron_C @Akua I would agree that autism is a developmental disorder, but I also think that this broad term of “mental illness/disorders” (as opposed to mood disorders vs schizophrenia, mood disorders from random chemical imbalance vs from external circumstances, learning disabilities vs anxiety disorders) is a fundamentally useless and often harmful way of understanding psychology. I have no problem seeing autism as a developmental disorder; I do have problems with lumping the vast majority of what’s in the DSM as “mental illness” (a term the DSM does not use) and then leaving autism as a lone wolf. And, really, I was just pointing out terminology usage: because what the difference between the two is not a standardized, official thing, but depends more on slang, community vernaculars, and personal philosophies, there’s no way to say that, objectively, autism is a developmental disorder and then not a mental illness. It’s like how people vary so much in their usage of the phrase “hooking up”.

Ron_C's avatar

@Aethelflaed I have a real fear of psychologists. The more I deal with them the less I trust them. After-all, how do you prove that you are NOT crazy?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Ron_C… I guess you can’t? You also can’t prove a lot of things. I can’t prove I’m not secretly a die-hard fan of Kim Kardashian. But so what? The vast majority of psychologists don’t really think in terms of “crazy” vs “not crazy” (crazy being a layperson’s term that isn’t used in the clinical field). So what if they think you’re crazy? What are they going to do?

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s get back to answering the original question, folks. Take the side debate to an appropriate thread, please. Thanks!

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. Burnout is very common in IT organizations.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@mattbrowne : I’m sorry. You are in the wrong thread. Burnout is not a form of mental illness recognized in the DSM IV.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake – Burnout is recognized in the ICD-10 as “problems related to life-management difficulty” and almost always a precursor to depression. Sometimes the term burnout is used instead of depression because people still fear stigma.

What I was trying to say that I know many people who are known to suffer from burnout without revealing that they in fact suffer from depression which is a mental illness both in the ICD and the American DSM.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake So, does a mental illness have to be officially recognized by the DSM in order to be part of this thread? What about stuff that doesn’t make it into the DSM, but is recognized by huge segments of the psychologist population?

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aethelflaed : I am not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. I do not know exactly what is in the DSM IV, but I doubt that burnout or exhaustion caused by a job is in there.

The OP is simple enough. I am trying to get a feel about how the Fluther community is touched by mental illness.

If you have ideas for further questions, then ask them by all means. I asked this question in the General Section to get information. If you want to explore this in a different way, please ask a question in Social.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake But that’s my point – because you didn’t define what “mental illness” is, I’m trying to figure out what the parameters of your question are. You asked if we know someone with mental illness; if we do or do not depends on your definition of mental illness.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aethelflaed : If I have to be specific, then yes, let’s limit it to what’s in the DSM IV.

Your answer above about knowing a large number who have mental illness and the therapies they are using to deal with their situations was helpful. Thank you.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake – So you don’t care what the medical community outside of the US thinks? Why limit a question to an American manual? The ICD is a WHO standard.

You should also keep in mind that there’s a very wide range of mental disorders. They are not just about schizophrenia and depressions. There are eating disorders and addictions as well. There’s insomnia and so forth. We all have probably met at least one alcoholic in our lives. Have a look here

Maybe your question was: Do you know someone who suffers from psychosis?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@mattbrowne : Please, don’t tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. You should keep in mind this is my question.

Please, ask your own question.

I am not following this question anymore.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake – Yes, it’s your question, but I think it must be allowed to ask for clarification. I’m sorry, it wasn’t my intent to upset you.

seekingwolf's avatar


I have seen and experienced meds gone wrong too. Don’t get me wrong. I became pretty suicidial on Prozac when I was 13 when the dosage was too high for me to handle. My sibs had problems on earlier meds too.

That being said, I still swear by it. Because when things were RIGHT (at least for me and my family) it was better than anything else.

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