Thursday, May 31, 2012

5-30-12 Pictures of Tommy - a memoirist’s blog #31

(Right now, I’m focusing on my memoirist work that I’ll call, simply, “Pictures of Tommy” -- mostly about my psychotic brother and his legacy.  It touches on my personal fears, too. . . .)

The other day, I interviewed Communications Professional, Randye Kaye (she’s an actress, voiceover artist, radio personality -- and author).  Her book, Ben Behind His Voices, is about her schizophrenic son who had gradual onset schizophrenia between the ages of 16 - 19, approx. 

Until a patient has a full blown psychotic episode, it’s impossible for the mental health profession to render a diagnosis. . . and so many of the early diagnoses for Randye’s son were all wrong. . . at least my brother, Tom, was diagnosed early on, I believe.  But forty-odd years ago, the medications weren’t anywhere near as good as they now are. . . and I’m almost certain that the meds Tom took had a profound affect on his physical health, probably shortened his life.  Sad.

At any rate, here’s some useful information from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from www.nimh.nih.gov:

What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. About 1 percent of Americans have this illness.1

People with the disorder may hear voices other people don't hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated.

People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking.

Families and society are affected by schizophrenia too. Many people with schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves, so they rely on others for help.

Treatment helps relieve many symptoms of schizophrenia, but most people who have the disorder cope with symptoms throughout their lives. However, many people with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and meaningful lives in their communities. Researchers are developing more effective medications and using new research tools to understand the causes of schizophrenia. In the years to come, this work may help prevent and better treat the illness.

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