Thursday, August 26, 2010

21st Century Psychiatry

An article titled "Culture and Diagnosis:  A Set of Iron Laws?" was published in NAMI August 2010 ENewsletter "The Advocate", and it is most thought-provoking, and should raise a lot of awareness about how psychiatrists should and must diagnosis people with mental illness.  Written by Kim Puchir, Communications Coordinator at NAMI, [National Alliance on Mental Illness], this article stresses the importance of how psychiatry must change with the times.  She points out the way psychiatrists and others who treat people with mental illness often misunderstand or misconstrue cultural signals from those patients who were not born in the United States.  This leads to misdiagnosis and extends the suffering of those who already experience anguish and disenfranchisement.

Perhaps the most startling information revealed by Puchir are the "World Health Organization findings that people who are diagnosed with a mental illness in a developing nation like India tend to do better than those in some Western nations like the U.S..."   What!?

As Operation Iraqi Freedom has concluded (except for the 50,000 peace-keeping troops), our military personnel are not coming home, but being sent on to Afghanistan.  Veterans are returning with PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), but there aren't enough resources to effectively counsel and treat these brave men and women.  The citizens of the Gulf now come upon the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as well as the recent BP oil spill, and find very little in the way of mental health care.  Most U.S. citizens are on stress-overload with the economy, loss of employment.  The politically and socially charged issues of the day, i.e.  as our borders, rights of undocumented citizens, and the environment, have been polarizing and exhausting for the average American .  There are people all over this country who have depression and anxiety, as well as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and an array of other illnesses. "They" are us, and everyone knows and loves a person who lives with mental illness.

Twenty years after The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed, "mental illness" still is pushed into the closet in terms of our health care priorities.  Some people prefer the term "brain disease," but I wish we could take out the prefix "mental."   Now, more than ever, people in this country need to be helped by psychiatrists who have a modern, knowledgeable approach and understanding of the needs of their patients.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Front Window

It was the little piggy on the right foot which sent me wee-wee-wee all the way home. My podiatrist had to correct a hammertoe. Now I know why they call it that.  The corn which resulted felt like the Hammer of Thor pounding the nerves of the toe so badly I actually wanted to shriek. The pain had become so intense that wearing anything but sneakers or flip-flops had become impossible. As I'm a gal who likes her limousine shoes, the surgery had to happen. The operation was on August 12th. 

Nearly two weeks later--with the exception of a trip to the podiatrist to see how I was healing--I have been stuck inside my apartment. The pile of magazines which had been accumulating since January has been read. (Note to self: When lumbering about one's apartment with an enormous surgical shoe which has been given the nickname "Sasquatch," do not read fashion magazines. Forget the runway. It would be great to take the garbage to the shoot down the hallway.) The books through which I had been meaning to plow have been plowed, and sown quite a few seeds in my mind. I have made ample use of my Netflix queue.  I hadn't realized how many French thrillers I wanted to see.  Jean Reno is so droll. So suave.  So French.  So irritating after I have viewed three of his films consecutively.

Finally, there is Facebook.  In anticipation of our high school class's 30th reunion in late September, I have been reaching out to classmates. Yesterday was the nadir of this pursuit since I spent 9 hours downloading YouTube clips of 70's classic rock videos, and posting scarcely witty quips about each and every one. Although some folks enjoyed the blasts from the past, others pointed out that maybe I have a bit too much time on my hands. Even I had to admit that this clip posting had become a sick compulsion. What to do, what to do...

Living in New York City, and blessed with a fantastic view facing my block, I have turned to "street theater."  I see myself as James Stewart (playing Jeff, the photographer with the broken leg) in Hitchcock's 1954 classic "Rear Window."  Except, unlike Jimmy, I don't have a fetching companion (Grace Kelly as Lisa) fawning over me, nor do I have a nurse (Thelma Ritter as Stella) with whom I can crack wise.  So I search the many apartments in my purvey for action and entertainment, straining my eyes since I do not own binoculars.  (Nor would I as that reminds me too much of the god-awful film "Sliver.")  

Sigh.  This is the real world, and there is no interesting villain like Thorvald (played by Raymond Burr) on whom I can set my sighs, about whom I could weave fantastic tales.  Being perched on my radiator by the window sill, I realize that I have become the creepy neighbor.  "Why is that woman always sitting there and looking, LOOKING out the window?  Doesn't she have a life?"  Luckily, "she" remembered that she did.  Writing this is far healthier and, I hope, won't arouse an iota of suspicion from the neighbors.  Who happen to be watching me now as I type this.  No, really, that guy over on the third floor of the townhouse...Oh my God, what is he doing!?