Experiences of Mental Illness and the Journey of Recovery
I have personally not experienced any stigma with mental illness in the past. However, I gained a lot of insight by reading through David et al (1998). I realize that a lot of individuals with mental illnesses are discriminated against by friends, family and colleagues. The reason for this is simple: everything that the person does is attributed to the illness. Even attempts to be genuinely funny or make a joke may not be taken serious because one may be seen as just fooling around. Also, even at times when the individual even seems to be serious and is trying to do something important, friends and colleagues may ignore them and if such an individual reacts with a tantrum or anger, it might be assumed that the individual is having a relapse.
It makes things worse that behaviors and thought processes are most times, the symptoms of mental illness. This makes it difficult to separate what is a symptom from what is just normal behavior.
Johnny's autobiography has definitely changed the way I view mental illness. Reading the autobiography made the experience of mental illness more realistic to me as opposed to just reading about mental illnesses in textbooks, or even being involved in the management of patients with mental illnesses. The symptoms that people with mental illnesses have are so real to them. The reality is such that it interferes with their normal thought processes and makes then react by these "abnormal" behaviors. You can see that Jonny was so certain by his persecutory delusions that he looks out in every new room that he gets to, to try and locate the cameras that are being used to watch him. However, the delusion was reinforced by a similar movie that he watched. This is another downside of mental illness, when the symptoms interfere with reality and distort all the thought processes of the individual. The individual then finds it difficult to determine what is real and what is not.
In Jonny's video, it was important that he accepted the fact that he had a mental illness (insight). it was also important that he accepted the fact that he needed medication, it is also equally important that he continues taking his medication even when it seems as if there is no change in his condition.
In conclusion, Johnny's case has given me a lot of insight into the way individuals with mental illness feel; about the reality of their daily lives. It has also been a good opportunity to dispel the misconceptions I, like a lot of other people have about individuals with mental illnesses.
Comparing the experience of Johnny to the experiences of people from the readings, one would realize that stigma was a central theme in the Penn & Martin (1998) discussion. One will realize that the difference between Johnny's story and this friend's story is that close relatives and family members stigmatize her the most.
Also, looking at the story of the other individual in the Davidson et al (2005) reading one would see that Johnny no longer has symptoms of his illness and is no longer taking his medications. From the reading, one would see that they are still on the road to recovery from their illness and are trying to manage their illness with their daily lives.
David er al (2000). Interpersonal factors contributing to the stigma of schizophrenia: social skills, perceived attractiveness, and symptoms. Schizophrenia Research 45 (2000) 37–45
Response to Jessica
Many thanks for sharing your personal experience. It has also reinforced the way i view mental illnesses. You have pointed out a valid fact about how people with mental illnesses are managed according to the current health care system. I totally agree with you. Although probably the reason why the number of visits are limited is that sometimes, the treatment can seen ineffective initially and the health care service providers are doing this so as to save cost. Whatever the reason is, i don’t think it is right to play politics with a person’s health, especially when their mind is affected. I think that an overhaul of this system is needed so that individuals with mental illnesses can get the treatment they want. Also, Johnny’s video should serve as a proof that the treatment for mental illnesses does work so that more resources will be devoted to the management of individuals with mental illnesses. Top of Form