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  #26  
Old 04-29-2017, 10:25 PM
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Thank you so much for sharing your story, it will help a lot of people. I'm so glad you were able to get the help you needed and are doing good.
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  #27  
Old 04-30-2017, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by sidewalker View Post
I cannot imagine your fear and how afraid I would feel going thru what you did.
Yes, it was pretty frightening at times. In fact, I'm sometimes amazed I never developed PTSD over the whole ordeal. Having a schizoid personality helps, as we schizoids can generally take a lot of abuse before it really affects us and gets under our skin.

I really think the key to it all though was that "Epiphany Moment" (as I'm planning on devoting a whole chapter to in my book), that sudden realization that it really was all in the mind. You don't know how much of a load off that was, how soothing and relaxing it was for my soul, realizing that all that crazy stuff wasn't real, and that it really was all just a hallucination. At that zenith hour, finally everything made sense. And once again, the world was recognizable again.

I can't help but wonder if some of those schizophrenics who do relapse and go on to have recurrent episodes don't ever really truly come to that complete understanding, that perhaps they still don't quite believe it was all in the mind, that maybe there is still "funny business" going on in the world that defies normal understanding.

I mean, we come to rely on our senses for so much in our life, especially our sight and our hearing -- we come to TRUST those senses, after all, they've never let us down in the so many of our youthful years, why would we ever have cause to doubt them? I can't help but wonder if improved mental health education in secondary school might be useful to help inform kids of the possible things to look out for, so that if things ever go awry in their minds they might not immediately jump to assuming the world is going crazy, but maybe -- just maybe -- think back to one of those high school lectures when they were told what kinds of things can happen to those suffering from early symptoms, and possibly recognize the disease for what it is before it spirals out of control. So that they are more likely to seek help versus blindly trusting what they are perceiving from their malfunctioning senses and going off the deep end.

I don't know. The human brain is a pretty mysterious organ, still so much we don't know about it. But of all the things that can go wrong in the human body, when it is the brain itself that is misfiring, the consequences can be huge -- and they can be tragic.

Definitely an issue we need to further tackle as a society, as it certainly isn't a matter that is going away any time soon.
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  #28  
Old 04-30-2017, 12:44 AM
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How much did you know about psychosis before it happened to you? I'm asking because, while you may have heard about hearing voices or seen someone (perhaps some other inmate) who was obviously irrational, I can see how you may not have known that instead of that, one can just hear noise like you did. For those who have experienced that or have heard of it, it can still be unpleasant, but I can imagine how scary and confusing it must be for someone who has no idea what it is. At least with voices, it's something most people have heard about.
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Old 04-30-2017, 01:24 AM
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That's just it, prisonlady, I was woefully ignorant when it came to this issue, before it ever happened to me.

I mean, sure, I've heard of people "hearing voices", like Moses up on Mount Sinai or something, but that can be pretty easy to dismiss as myth and fable if you don't come from a religious background. (And if you do, that can be even worse, especially if you interpret the "voices" as God talking to you or something... )

I sometimes laugh at myself for how gullible I was, actually believing any of that stuff could have really been happening... but let me tell you, in the heat of the moment, it all seems so very real.

You hear about people going crazy and writing manifestos and stuff before going off the deep end, but that can all be so remote from when it is actually happening to you, connecting the dots, and everything... I don't know.

I'm not sure what the solution is, other than investing more in research to study brain anomalies in general. Perhaps one day we'll be able to detect the genetic markers early on so that those at risk can be better informed to prepare to tackle any issues, and/or possibly know exactly what age symptoms may begin to show. It does seem like schizophrenia, at least, tends to manifest in the late teenage or twentysomething years, which was definitely the case for me, as I was 26 when everything first went down.

I do think more education could definitely help. More people speaking out and sharing their stories, so that hopefully others can relate, or at least be better informed so that if similar circumstances ever occur in their lives they might be more likely to recognize it for what it is, rather than just taking it at face value.
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  #30  
Old 04-30-2017, 06:24 AM
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Severe depression is also a psychosis. It took me years and years to acknowledge that.

I wasn't "schizoid" first....that is a result of my many years of illness. and PTSD.
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  #31  
Old 04-30-2017, 12:59 PM
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Depression is not psychosis, although one can have both and some forms of psychosis, such as catatonia (when the person won't move) may resemble a deep state of depression. Psychosis is not the same thing as mental illness or schizophrenia either. It can also have a known organic cause, even something as simple as sweating really a lot (in which case it tends to disappear once the body's electrolyte balance is reestablished) or it can be induced by drugs. Sometimes, if there was a cause at the beginning, especially drugs, psychosis does not disappear, or it reappears from time to time, even when such causes are no longer present.

Basically, for the most part, psychosis is something like having hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing or smelling something that is not really present, etc.) and/or having delusions such as imagining that one is Jesus, that a chip was implanted into the individual's body, that the TV talks to or about the person, etc. It's a thought disorder, while depression is rather a mood disorder. But of course, it's not as simple as that and one can have both.

Sometimes the loss of touch with reality is as complete as possible, but sometimes the individual seems perfectly normal except that if you ask him, he'll tell you that the government is out to get him (delusions don't have to be about something impossible), or whatever his delusion is. Some individuals maintain (or regain) insight, such as when one knows, or highly suspects, that what he or she sees or hears is a hallucination. Some are able to do a "reality check" to find out if it's true or a hallucination. As a rule (there are exceptions), a hallucination only involves one sense, so one tends to see an image that doesn't talk or hear a voice without seeing which imaginary person is speaking. That's one way one can usually know that it's not true, although sometimes the hallucination does involve more than one sense.
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  #32  
Old 04-30-2017, 02:06 PM
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There is a legitimate diagnosis of Psychotic Depression. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases(ICD), psychotic depression is classified as a subtype of severe depression. In 1992 a strong argument was made that there was sufficient evidence at that time from studies of clinical characteristics and symptoms, biology, family history, course and outcome, and treatment that psychotic depression should be a distinct illness, separate from major depression. Arguments that psychotic depression meets the criteria for a valid psychiatric syndrome due to its distinct clinical presentation, neurobiology, heritability, prognosis, and treatment response continue to be made with the hope that this will change in future DSM and ICD revisions.
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  #33  
Old 04-30-2017, 06:20 PM
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Bipolar depression is characterized as a mood disorder but it also includes thought disorders.

The misapprehension of reality that occurs in depression is divorced from reality. It is a delusion.

course I think many things considered normal in our society is also a delusion.
  #34  
Old 04-30-2017, 07:06 PM
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I can only comment on psychosis from the standpoint of ICU-psychosis (yes, it's a real thing, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/a...pitals/394829/). As those of you know, after my accident, I was in the ICU for 6 days, critical care for more than a week, and the hospital for just over 5 weeks total. During that time, I had my first psychotic break. Just like Nickel, I had no idea that I'd broken with reality. I just knew that I was in Tibet in a clinic under a restaurant that was hidden from the Chinese government.

After that, I suffered from the hallucination that I was on death row. The State was trying to string a telephone and wire to the cell next to me, occupied by Martha Stewart. Martha was getting the call from her attorney that there was nothing left to do and she was going to get executed in the next few hours. Problem is, they were having a hard time stringing that wire across my cell. I kept trying to get up to help them out, and they kept telling me to keep out of it. In real life, I kept trying to get up so much they put an alarm under me since there was no way I could actually put both my feet on the floor without falling and having to go to surgery. Again. Emergency, if I managed to tear that artery again.

My psychotic episodes cleared up pretty quickly - once I was out of ICU and then Critical Care as both involved a lot of light, lots of sounds, lots of nurses going in and out. Further, during one of my more lucid periods, I was able to get somebody to check my pockets for my iTouch and my headphones and I listened to audiobooks so that I had something to focus on and a way to tune out all the disruptive noises. Then, there was the pain. It took about 10 days, but they finally got the pain under control. Fentanyl finally began doing what it was supposed to do (fwiw, the sciatic block they used on the amputation was the bomb! so little pain as a result - wish they'd done that right after the accident), and well, a lot of other things happened that caused me to slowly divorce myself from the hallucinations I was having and actually see the reality I was faced with.

Anyway, this was the first time I've ever encountered full on psychosis in my own mind. It has given me an appreciation for psychotic clients - those suffering from delusions and / or hallucinations, and I've had more than a few. I was not paranoid during that time frame, so I don't have first hand experience with paranoia, but I do have an understanding of psychosis.

As a result, I've looked back to clients who were clearly psychotic and re-evaluated my interactions with them. My strategy has always been to validate their experiences. I don't let their state of mind dictate how we do things as they do have to be able to both understand the charges against them and aid in their defense. So, a client who was suffering from postpartum psychosis (a form of exceedingly severe depression caused by, among other things, the hormonal change that comes after giving birth) got to spend time in a forensic unit at the state hospital even though she didn't want that. Another client, a paranoid schizophrenic, got the same treatment though he wanted it - he was up on self medicating meth charges at the time.

From depressive psychosis (don't worry - the vast majority of people experiencing clinical depression will never experience psychosis) to schizophrenic psychosis to a one time psychosis to a drug induced psychosis - it can be very disorienting. People can get totally in the way of what you know is right because they are preventing you from freezing to death when you're not even aware that it's winter and you're in Iowa (had a client who had that experience). They cannot snap out of it - it takes time. For most, it takes medication as well. It does not take a fight because they won't necessarily know what you're fighting about.

The point is that hats off to anybody recovering from a mental illness involving psychosis. I got to have a short visit to psychosis and I'm very happy it's not a part of my life. As a result, I got to waste my time thinking about law school, marriage and divorce, riding my motorcycle, and various other aspects of life that are easy for me because I have the mental space to engage in them. As a result, I'm a reasonably successful lawyer who was spending a lot of time in pro bono work because I could afford it. I have to wonder if dealing with psychosis would have left me with the head space necessary for the Socratic Method as interpreted by law school, or any of the other things I've worried about over the years.

Now, as to the emerging argument about depression and psychosis, liveweyerd needs to listen to people - there is a form of depression that involves psychosis. One form of very deep clinical depression. Most people experiencing clinical depression will never experience psychosis. They may have some thought distortion that's part and parcel with the term, "depression", but that is not psychosis.

Psychosis hits a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. Schizophrenics are not the only ones that deal with hallucinations. Just about anybody, with the right stress, can have a psychotic break. This is one of the reasons that long term solitary confinement is so bad - it seems to cause psychotic breaks in otherwise normal people. Get them out of solitary and their symptoms resolve and their psychosis goes away.

And, you can hear things and smell things and even see things that aren't there and not be psychotic. Tinnitus is the diagnosis given to people who hear a ringing in their ears when there's nothing ringing in their surroundings. People with just the right nerve damage in their brain will get phantom scents called olfactory hallucinations. You have undoubtedly had a visual hallucination when you saw water on the road in the distance - water that wasn't there. Oasis in the dessert. Some people see halos around things and people just before they have a migraine. In short, there are a lot of hallucinations people regularly have that are not diagnosed as psychosis.

But, yeah, some people with extreme depression experience psychosis. Read SamiDo's post again.
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  #35  
Old 05-01-2017, 08:19 AM
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I have been getting help for 30 years and have read everything I could including the medical textbook, so please don't assume I lack information.

During one of my worst points, I walked around for 2 weeks in a blackout. I still can't remember much and it scared the hell out of me. I went around searching for evidence of what I had done. Strangely, my mate had no awareness I was in such a condition. He thought I was acting a little hypomanic maybe. I have never labeled it but is that psychosis?

It is clear it is when you are hearing/seeing/imagining things etc. Been there too.

I think our differing opinions are a matter of semantics.
But you know what they say about assuming?

Perhaps there are degrees of psychosis? I would be comfortable with that interpretation.

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  #36  
Old 05-01-2017, 09:50 AM
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I have been getting help for 30 years and have read everything I could including the medical textbook, so please don't assume I lack information.

During one of my worst points, I walked around for 2 weeks in a blackout. I still can't remember much and it scared the hell out of me. I went around searching for evidence of what I had done. Strangely, my mate had no awareness I was in such a condition. He thought I was acting a little hypomanic maybe. I have never labeled it but is that psychosis?

It is clear it is when you are hearing/seeing/imagining things etc. Been there too.

I think our differing opinions are a matter of semantics.
But you know what they say about assuming?

Perhaps there are degrees of psychosis? I would be comfortable with that interpretation.
Much to my consternation, State doctors have been assigning "degrees" of antisocial personality disorder even though the DSM IV-TR (the version of the DSM in vogue at the time this started) did not have a designate for severity for personality disorders - you either had it or you didn't. It either interferes with your GOF or it doesn't. Of course, they only ever ran into "severe" cases, no matter who they evaluated....

I think Nickel would tell you that there are degrees of psychosis. I don't know if he was ever so bad that he was walking around Iowa in January without shoes bad (he didn't need shoes because he wasn't in a severe climate. It was also why he was wearing short sleeves - you didn't need them if you were going swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, a concept that took my breath away as the only major body of water in the area was the Mississippi River), or how self informed he became (I assume the later was pretty easy once he accepted that he was psychotic), or what/who he used/uses to reality test.

Sorry to have singled out you, live, my bad. I obviously need to read closer. It was Prisonlady who was denying that depression could have a psychotic component, dividing depression into mood and psychosis into thought
Quote:
It's a thought disorder, while depression is rather a mood disorder.
. This is ill-informed. Same with
Quote:
Psychosis is not the same thing as mental illness or schizophrenia either. It can also have a known organic cause, even something as simple as sweating really a lot.
Because, while true, it ignores the fact that many mental illnesses, like depression, can be caused by medical conditions, social conditions, or legal conditions. There's a reason that somebody complaining of depression is first checked for organic causes like hypothyroidism. Social causes, like screwing your leg up so bad that it's been more than a year and a half since you've been able to walk - that can cause things like isolation, loss of blah, blah, blah, and as my first orthopedic surgeon said, "what with the pain and the healing time, depression is common. We've even had a few suicides" (fwiw, I still don't know what was wrong with that man - he always brought that up out of no where, never bothered to ask about my pain level or my mood. And then he'd blurt out stuff about his daughter, the amputee. I seriously think he's on the Spectrum - he never had good eye contact and there were other signs like repetitive playing with the waistband of his scrubs every time I saw him. Anyway, over to MGH for real treatment 0waiting 3 years to decide whether or not to amputate was not an option). And legal causes - who is it around here who says that a doc in prison said that you'd have to be crazy to not be depressed in prison? Is that fbop? All the same stressors can kick of a bout of psychosis in those who are prone to psychotic disorders as well.

As to a spectrum of severity for psychosis - I don't know. The couple clients I've had who have gotten into Hearing Voices meetings have said that sometimes the voices get so loud/say such disturbing things that it's impossible to do anything. If "loudness" is an indication of severity, then sure, there must be a scale. I've never seen a scale represented in the field outside of the Hearing Voices movement which strives to give people tools to deal with and negotiate with voices. Next time I have a shrink at deposition or one court appointed to my guy, and psychosis is a feature of the case, I'll have to ask. I use some pretty good experts who like to answer questions and "what if"s. I could also ask one of my "hearing voices" clients about it.

Also begs the question about Dr. Vonnegut (the pediatrician and schizophrenic, not the writer) - does he have a more moderate case of schizophrenia, or is he such an out and out genius that no level of mental illness would have prevented him from getting a medical license. He also had a great support system growing up, so the social/legal type stressors weren't there, so definitely not mild. CC his mental illness story (https://www.amazon.com/Eden-Express-.../dp/0440613930) with that of Joanne Greenburg (https://www.amazon.com/Never-Promise.../dp/0312943598) - both undoubtedly brilliant, but look at the social structures around them.

Whatever. The thing of it is that both were able to find some way of adequately treating their mental illness such that it didn't consume their entire lives. As a result, they have careers that are demanding, and both have published about their lives and dealing with their mental illness. And, if Nickel is reading this, at least one of them has published his memoir and other books dealing with his own mental illness using one of the major psychology literature presses. If I remember, Nickel, you're going forward with studies such that graduate school and publications are going to have a significant impact on your life. Once you have your story written just right, this would be where I'd start for finding a publisher - start with publishers who publish this sort of thing and then see if they have an open submission policy. Use it. And remember, JK Rowling had a dozen rejections for Harry Potter, Stephen King had dozens of rejections before his first book was published. You need a thick skin when dealing with publishers, or trying to hook in agents to deal with publishers for you.
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  #37  
Old 05-01-2017, 12:51 PM
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I don't see what's "ill-informed" about saying that depression is a mood disorder while psychosis is a thought disorder. That's part of their very definition. What may not have been clear is that, of course, an individual does not necessarily have only thought disorder or only mood disorder. Of course symptoms of both can be present to various degrees. Psychosis is not an illness as much as a symptom. It's like headache. You can have it for various causes or without quite knowing why, and it can accompany (or be part of) many health conditions.

As for the causes, of course they can be related to various illnesses and drugs and to the stressful things that happen in one's life. However, if one hallucinates, for example, it is a fact that this symptom is present and antipsychotic medication may help even if the symptoms were triggered by something in the patient's environment rather than by some kind of permanent mental illness.

The problem is that psychiatrists tend to focus on keeping patients on medication, assuming that mental illness exists on its own and requires lifelong medication management. Not enough focus is placed on the environmental factors (social, economic, legal, etc.) that could trigger or reduce symptoms, or on the patients' quality of life in general. If an individual is living on benefits in a lousy group home or something, that is deemed good enough as long as he is on medication and at least the hallucinations and delusions stop. That the individual may be sleeping nearly all day, gaining weight and have nothing to look forward to is deemed irrelevant as long as he is "medication compliant" and is not "floridly psychotic". Not all psychiatric services are quite as bad, but that's unfortunately something that can happen.
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Old 05-01-2017, 03:02 PM
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If any of you guys have any questions or curiosities about any other particulars of how things were like in there, feel free to ask away. I'm an open book. Truth be told, there was so much crazy shit that went on there in C-Block, that I'd be hard-pressed to remember it all without some prompting.

One thing that really surprised me about the whole experience though, was how "humane" it really was, at least once you got out of your state of psychosis and could see things more clearly. I was really surprised by the fact that I never saw them force-medicate anyone against their will. That was a big misconception I had about how those places were run. Instead, if someone chose to quit taking their meds and decompensated, they'd just send them back over to Tier 3 isolation and let them stew in their own misery until a point where they ever decided they wanted to take their medications again and move back to Tier 2 with the more privileges.

Definitely more of a "carrot" approach than the "stick", which surprised me. I'm not sure if actual mental hospitals work the same way, where maybe they can force-medicate you. Perhaps as otherwise "sane" prisoners (at least when we were convicted) we had more rights than those who are actually civilly committed. I have no idea.
What you went through..wow!. But you made it through it all AND had the ability to think to try that medicine even though you were worried that it wouldn't work and was just another attempt to "get to you". Another thing I thought of when reading your post is that YOU can write, as in you should very seriously think about writing a book / ebook about your experiences in prison. Especially the part struggling with a mental illness while in prison. You have a way of telling your story that left me wanting to read more. So, sir as another member said, I curtsy to you (i'm female so I can't bow )
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Old 05-01-2017, 06:17 PM
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Thank you and I would like to participate in this discussion. Usually I write prolifically but am a bit burnt out on it atm. I have been reading instead.

I am pretty sure I could make a case for differing degrees of psychosis.

And have other observations to share and throw out there.

best wishes!
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Old 05-01-2017, 06:49 PM
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I don't see what's "ill-informed" about saying that depression is a mood disorder while psychosis is a thought disorder. That's part of their very definition. What may not have been clear is that, of course, an individual does not necessarily have only thought disorder or only mood disorder. Of course symptoms of both can be present to various degrees. Psychosis is not an illness as much as a symptom. It's like headache. You can have it for various causes or without quite knowing why, and it can accompany (or be part of) many health conditions.

As for the causes, of course they can be related to various illnesses and drugs and to the stressful things that happen in one's life. However, if one hallucinates, for example, it is a fact that this symptom is present and antipsychotic medication may help even if the symptoms were triggered by something in the patient's environment rather than by some kind of permanent mental illness.

The problem is that psychiatrists tend to focus on keeping patients on medication, assuming that mental illness exists on its own and requires lifelong medication management. Not enough focus is placed on the environmental factors (social, economic, legal, etc.) that could trigger or reduce symptoms, or on the patients' quality of life in general. If an individual is living on benefits in a lousy group home or something, that is deemed good enough as long as he is on medication and at least the hallucinations and delusions stop. That the individual may be sleeping nearly all day, gaining weight and have nothing to look forward to is deemed irrelevant as long as he is "medication compliant" and is not "floridly psychotic". Not all psychiatric services are quite as bad, but that's unfortunately something that can happen.
Integrated services work best. The use of peer workers, groups like the Hearing Voices movement, and other supports in the community are cost effective as well as humanist.

Yes, some psychiatrists view medication management as the only modality of treatment. Insurance companies and medical schools have been pushing psychiatrists more and more into that treatment modality. However, most people on disability also have case management services, access to therapists, and even in some cases life coaches. The improper thing is that they (the government and the psychiatrist) expect the patient to be a good advocate for his/her own needs. further, we've criminalized many mentally ill. As a result, probation and parole are responsible. Not for gaining the person the best health they can achieve, but for making sure they stay out of prison, or go back when they naturally violate (many naturally violate - they come out of prison on heavy medication with the name of a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist has a 3 month waiting list for new patients while the patient has a 3 day supply of medication. the patient has no aid or insurance to pay for that medication, even if he could get a script. The result is decompensation unless there is family already in place to advocate and help).

The other big problem is that there are people who do not respond to medication to mitigate their symptoms. Nobody knows how to deal with them effectively including psychiatrists who just keep piling on the scripts.

I am continually shocked by the number of people who are in jail on a script for a benzo, and who've been taking that bento for years. Everything you read from the drug insert on to every psychiatrist I've examined says that benzos are a short term medication. It should be an absolute rarity to find somebody who's been on the same benzo daily for 8-10 years or longer instead of 8-10 days or shorter.

But, I still say you are wrong - when depression with psychosis is an actual disorder, it's an actual disorder. It is not possible to bifurcate psychotic depression into mood v. thought. They are too interdependent.
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  #41  
Old 05-01-2017, 06:53 PM
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Thank you and I would like to participate in this discussion. Usually I write prolifically but am a bit burnt out on it atm. I have been reading instead.

I am pretty sure I could make a case for differing degrees of psychosis.

And have other observations to share and throw out there.

best wishes!
Hope you and Nickel can talk as you'd probably be a good sounding board for Nickel as he writes about his own psychosis.

How would you go about placing psychosis on a spectrum? or is it more of a matrix? I think from time to time it's more of a matrix - not just the strength of a particular hallucination, but duration. Then you get into the whole intermixture of delusion with hallucination, and it's quite a complex system of degrees. Probably really should have been explored long ago as it might inform treatment better, especially in terms of self care as well as the development of tools to use to try to mitigate those symptoms.
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Old 05-01-2017, 09:13 PM
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Thank you for sharing. That was very brave and vulnerbale...and authentic. You write a book im def gonna read it!
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  #43  
Old 05-02-2017, 06:11 AM
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As a complete dilettante, periodically confused by the reading I do in the mental health and physical health arenas, it seems to me that our officially-named and -described illness states bleed into each other like the colors of a rainbow.

I have yet to fully separate Narcissistic Personality Disorder from Antisocial Personality Disorder. I cannot separate Parkinsonism from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

I am at the point where I no longer believe that this is an off/on, 0/1 situation of being. There seem to be far more possible positions, more like the atomic cloud of electron positions in their valence shells. All explanations that come down to this is A but not B are a convenience for thinking about A and B and even for manipulating A and B, but somewhere along the line, it breaks down. Like the electron being a wave, no a particle, no a wave; well, let's call it a wavicle.

Sorry, that's 'way far from the absolutes this discussion has been bearing on, but it's my belief that there are so many things yet to be discovered that these discreet issues will at some future point will all be on a fractal spectrum.
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  #44  
Old 05-02-2017, 12:00 PM
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> Like the electron being a wave, no a particle, no a wave; well, let's call it a wavicle.

Insightful! The question to ask about any way of classifying things into categories is not "Is it right?" but "Is it useful?".

"Useful" is pretty danged important when a depressive is being torn apart by internal Dementors.
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Old 05-02-2017, 12:44 PM
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Thank you.
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  #46  
Old 05-04-2017, 08:04 AM
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I have to agree that it is all rather nebulous.

The DSM-5 was highly controversial and political. European nations do not use it and have a dim view of it, I have found.

As much as I am thankful for the medical help I receive, I do regard our scientific understanding as still very primitive.

I like a counselor who can use various treatment modalities depending on the person and situation. We don't all "speak the same language" just because of our dx.

I have a friend with borderline who loves DBT. Good for her.

I am most interested in ACT right now. Acceptance commitment therapy. LOVE the book "Get out of your mind and into your life"
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Old 05-08-2017, 01:33 AM
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yourself, I just tried to reply to your Private Message you sent me, but you have them blocked (understandably) so I hope you don't mind if I just respond to you here:

--------

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Originally Posted by yourself
Okay, assuming you've never written a long document before, let alone a book, I'm going to offer a bit of advice because I think your project is outstanding.
I have done some short stories and ad-hoc technical manuals before, but you're right, never tackled a full-fledged novel before... several 250-word LTTEs (letters to the editor) and even got a short poem published once in a resort town newspaper (where my grandparents lived at the time) back when I was just 10 years old!

Quote:
First, get into a writing group. Nothing will improve your writing more than getting into a good group, one that pushes your writing to better heights. One that also allows you to assist others by constructive criticism of their writing. Find a group where you respect the writing of at least some of the other members, whether they're working on the same type of writing as you or not.
I'll look into that...

Quote:
Second, and it sounds like you're already doing this, outline. It helps you keep things straight, allows you to work on different parts as the mood moves you.
Yep, that OP of mine in Mental Health is a good start, but I obviously left quite a few things out for brevity.

Quote:
Third, make a separate section of your notebook for major characters with each major having their own section, and a section for minors. This way, you can envision each major player - what he/she looked like, or sounded like. Specific mannerisms. Specific interests. This way you can reference that stuff, note when you first described the person, what you described, and figure out what is essential to communicating that person to your audience.
I've been doing that. In fact, I have four several "notepads" going on right now, saved in a folder on my computer desktop titled "memoir" -- one for general notes, one for "players" (characters), and one each for Tier 3 and Tier 2, where the majority of action is going to take place. I still haven't decided how much I want to go into history (beyond the arrest leading up to that last prison stay) and how much I want to spend on follow-up, my long road to recovery in the years since I've been out... I mainly want to focus on the experience there in C-Block itself, which is why my current working title is "Two Years in C-Block: My Time Spent in a Maximum Security Prison Psych Ward" which I think has kind of a catchy ring to it...

Quote:
Fourth, diagram your facility. It'll make it easier to reconstruct stuff in your head if you can also see a map on a piece of paper when you're trying to suss out particular parts, or describe particular scenes.
This is a good idea. In fact, I was able to capture a couple still images from a promotional "tour" video someone did on a unit in Max, including a 360-degree panorama of a cell, which looks exactly like I remember it, down to the green paint and thin mattress and everything. I was thinking of using them as cover images for the front and back of my book, a shot of the low bunk and narrow-slit window, and another showing the metal sink and toilet and square "seat" with little white metal "table" protruding from the wall. Just so readers can really visualize what it was like living in that little concrete cell for weeks on end, only being let out for brief showers three times a week.

Quote:
Fifth, do setting descriptions. The major places in the book - describe them like you would those major characters. Do it to minute detail. It will help later.
Yes, I should start a fifth file devoted to this. In fact, I've been contact with the Chief Psychologist for IDOC, the one who initially treated me when I first arrived there in Max. As I told him, I've actually thought about trying to arrange a tour of C-Block just to refresh myself, the sights and sounds, and exactly what I could see staring out those narrow-slit dayroom windows as I did for hours on end those two long years in that place... I even thought about inquiring as to what changes might have been made from an administrative point of view, how things might be run differently today, but then again, as I told him, it might be better to just stick to my recollections so that any new information doesn't pollute my narrative.

Quote:
Sixth, envision each chapter as a separate short story. You want to make sure each chapter moves the whole story along, but you also want to make sure there's movement and conflict in each chapter. This also makes the writing group handy - you can workshop a single chapter and the group won't be lost even if they don't have the thread of the overall story - they can constructively help with that one chapter.
Yes, that's kind of what I was planning already... each character brings with him his own sets of challenges and conflicts, and that was what I was planning on focusing on, getting used to and getting along with all these other seriously disturbed prisoner/patients who are each dealing with their own "demons" as it were...

Quote:
Seventh, you're going to want to figure out how you're going to want to break up the major sections or parts. So, if you tell it chronologically, you're going to want to discus your decompensation in one part, your gradual recovery in another part. You may go three parts - arrest/absconding from the work camp, finding yourself in max, recovery. You're going to have to make that decision, but it's more of an overarching theme to a group of chapters that make for a part.
Yes, I was thinking of taking the chronological approach, with quite a few "flashbacks" and backstory peppered throughout... I still haven't exactly decided how I want to break up the chapters/parts, but I imagine it will all come together once I begin fleshing out some of the characters and events, finding natural breaks in the plot-line...

Quote:
You're going to want to aim for at least 60K words when complete. A standard double spaced page is around 300-350 words (more around the 300 mark for maths purposes). All the prep work you do now will save you a lot of rewriting in the future, unless you're like me - I can't outline to save my life. The first book I did I just gut through, writing over the course of a few days. Then I outlined it. Then I was able to edit and move things around.
Oh my goodness! I don't know if I can stretch it out that much (60K words)... in fact, from what little "research" I've been doing, it looks like that length of manuscript is generally discouraged for first book releases, although there have been notable exceptions, especially for memoirs... while I'm not looking to usurp Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors (which I actually read while in C-Block, ironically enough) I just want to get my story out, without too much excess verbiage. I guess we'll see where I end up once I begin really writing in earnest... could very well be I end up scaling back and "cut-cut-cut!" as they say, due to way overshooting even that lofty 60K-word goal, but my originally idea was to keep it kind of short and concise, like maybe around 100-ish pages or so, or not much longer, to make for a quick, easy read. But we'll see where I end up once the rubber hits the road...

Quote:
Anyway, if you're like most writers, the more structure you can give yourself now, the better off you'll be and the easier the overall writing will be, even as you deal with difficult concepts.
Thanks for all the advice, I do appreciate it.

In fact, my uncle has actually published a few books of his own (mostly political/libertarian) although none have sold very well, from what I gather (only a few hundred copies at most). So I have been kind of using him as a sounding board here, just to get a handle on the process of eventually publishing... I still haven't decided which route to go yet. It sounds like if I go the psychology-press route, I need to find myself an agent, who (if he thinks I have a good idea based off the general outline and initial chapter submission) will hock it to one of the publishing houses, which may or may not accept it, could take many months. I'm still kind of leaning to just going the AKP (Amazon Kindle Publishing) route, at least for the initial run, just to get it out there and get some reviews and initial exposure, before possibly revising and trying to submit a second edition to other places for wider distribution elsewhere.

Just out of curiosity, what is your preferred method of book acquisition? Do you do much eBook reading, or do you prefer soft-cover print books? And through which venue do you generally buy your books?

While I would eventually like to see it available in bookstores, the honest truth is, bookstores are becoming an endangered species these days... everything is going digital, it seems. But even with Amazon Kindle Publishing, they can custom-create print-on-demand soft-cover copies, and most everyone has ordered through Amazon before it would seem, and direct orders like that should even be kosher to send in to jails and prisons, for those behind the walls who might want to have a copy of the book sent in by their loved ones, which is one of my main goals here.

But first thing's first. I'm going to take advantage of this long summer break to write, write, write!!
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  #48  
Old 05-09-2017, 09:25 PM
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40K - 60K is the norm for most types of books, with NaNoWriMo asking for 40K for a "completed" manuscript (yes, a novel, not a memoir, but they have a similar size requirement, and 40K is awful small for anything but a piece of high literature back in JD Salinger's time.

As for your material - you have plenty of material, once you get down to it. I think you're going to wind up cutting with the help of an editor as you have the potential for a ton of material. Don't look at the overall word count as a problem - look at it as room to work. It's the exact opposite of poetry - you finally have the room to include everything, any way you want it. (my longest so far is 117K)

I'm a paper sort of book reader. I read fiction, history, and law (law for fun, not law for work). I make a big distinction between what I read for fun and what I read for work. Because I grew up in law doing a lot of computer related research, I associate the screen with work. I tried the eReader for fun, but it just doesn't work for me. Besides, I love to read in the bathtub, and it's much less expensive to replace a paperback that falls into the tub (or gets left at the hospital) than it is to replace an eReader, reload all your books, find where you left off on the books you were reading when your last eReader met with disaster, etc, etc, etc.

Nickel, my understanding is that you are not finished with your education and that you really want to go a lot further either in law or psychology (I didn't know that psych was an elective - I thought you were thinking about going into that field. Lawyers should have a much more robust psych background - it'd really help). Before you go toAmazon and the self publishing route, talk with your advisor. Talk with your abnormal psych prof. Ask about the value of a traditional publisher (even if only released in e format) to your intended career. I have read some really poorly written and some really well written psych memoirs and I think you have the right combination of voice, ability to write, and interesting, rarely told story to get publisher attention fairly quickly. Seriously, I have a friend from school who wrote one and it was the worst bit of writing I've read in a long time, and I've been asked to re-write motions to revoke and basic appeals applications by people who were barely literate - I know bad writing. I've also read some rather good writing. I haven't read a contemporary memoir about prison psych in a long, long time. And you could do it really well.

But, please, do talk with your academic advisor and make sure you lay out your career goals - you want to know if this will help or hinder you into getting into law school, or getting the legal career you want, or getting into psych (hint, it will actually be viewed as an asset for most clinical and counseling psych programs). Ask about your project, and ask about the publication type as well. If you want to do anything academic, you want legitimate publications. A book this size is a good thing - it shows your ability to write large things, publish large things, and it is a publish or perish world in academia. But, you need to do the personal math on that. Don't go AKP route until you've talked it out with your best career advisors. Your uncle is great, but you want to talk about the impact on your career before you publish it under your name or under a nom de plume/moniquer/sobriquette/alias. And that's even if you decide the Amazon route.

Look up word count for memoirs. You have plenty of room to play with.
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  #49  
Old 05-09-2017, 11:41 PM
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Nickel, my understanding is that you are not finished with your education and that you really want to go a lot further either in law or psychology (I didn't know that psych was an elective - I thought you were thinking about going into that field. Lawyers should have a much more robust psych background - it'd really help)
Quote:
But, please, do talk with your academic advisor and make sure you lay out your career goals - you want to know if this will help or hinder you into getting into law school, or getting the legal career you want, or getting into psych (hint, it will actually be viewed as an asset for most clinical and counseling psych programs). Ask about your project, and ask about the publication type as well. If you want to do anything academic, you want legitimate publications. A book this size is a good thing - it shows your ability to write large things, publish large things, and it is a publish or perish world in academia. But, you need to do the personal math on that.
No worries there, yourself. My career track is healthcare, not psych. And not law. (As interesting as those two fields are, I'm way too far along now to switch majors.)

In fact, the only reason I was able to take Abnormal Psychology as an elective this last semester was because I was forced to take Psychology 101 as part of my Biology: Healthcare Emphasis major as part of my Associate's degree before I graduated community college a couple years back, before transferring to my current university.

Quote:
Don't go AKP route until you've talked it out with your best career advisors. Your uncle is great, but you want to talk about the impact on your career before you publish it under your name or under a nom de plume/moniquer/sobriquette/alias. And that's even if you decide the Amazon route.

Look up word count for memoirs. You have plenty of room to play with.
I'll use these next few months to fully explore my options. And yes, I was planning on publishing under a pen-name/alias -- at least for this one.

Last edited by Nickel Timer; 05-09-2017 at 11:44 PM..
  #50  
Old 05-10-2017, 08:45 PM
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No worries there, yourself. My career track is healthcare, not psych. And not law. (As interesting as those two fields are, I'm way too far along now to switch majors.)

In fact, the only reason I was able to take Abnormal Psychology as an elective this last semester was because I was forced to take Psychology 101 as part of my Biology: Healthcare Emphasis major as part of my Associate's degree before I graduated community college a couple years back, before transferring to my current university.

I'll use these next few months to fully explore my options. And yes, I was planning on publishing under a pen-name/alias -- at least for this one.
Don't get bit by the writing bug or the next thing you know, you'll be up until 3 am the morning you have to leave at 4 am to go to Mass General for clinicals. Boy was yesterday rough as a result.
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