(Disclaimer: Original post written 12/2012). When I was growing up, mental illness was shunned. We did not talk about it in my household. The first time I was exposed to the mentally ill was when I visited my two aunts at their job. They were nurses in a mental hospital for chronic patients in Kentucky. As a young girl of 17, I was immediately drawn into the strangeness of this new world. ( Today a person would not be allowed to visit like I was able).
I walked the halls with my aunts and at times alone. There were patients all around me shuffling along in their psychosis states. I was not scared, but what impressed me most about these mentally ill was how they kept to themselves. They self-talked and did not seem to notice the world around them. One man did come up to me saying some jibberish that had to do with eating Ronald Reagan’s liver for lunch and I said, “I hope it tasted good.” I did not know what to say and as many of you know I do have a strange sense of humor. ( Ronald Reagan was president–hahaha–maybe this guy was a democrat).
When I became a Registered Nurse, I left the crazy world my aunts loved to concentrate on a career in critical care or ICU. I thought this kind of nursing was a much safer world for me. I guess I was fooled. However, the world of mental health never left my personal life. In 1993, I welcomed a beautiful baby boy named Luke. He would be diagnosed with PDD-NOS or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Later this was changed to autism. My world as I knew it was shaken to its core.
Recently a panel of experts in 1994 had completed a new revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that would be used by the medical community to identify and diagnose children like mine with Autism. They say 20% of the population has some form of mental illness. I think it is higher, but what do I know.
This year ( I wrote this post in Dec, 2012) a revised version of the DSM ( ONLY fifth revision since its creation in 1952) came out. Many folks in the medical community are up in arms about it. Change is not easy. My concern is that we do not let the new DSM take away the much needed health care for individuals who need it to function in everyday life. Globally I believe the new DSM is used to diagnose. In America, however, this book is significant to the ordinary person because if a person is not diagnosed, a person may not get the dollars from their health insurance. This concerns me. I think time will tell how all this plays out especially with Obamacare taking root in the next year ( Trump is trying to rid this as I reblog this post, but do not let me digress)..UGH.. In general I applaud the mental health community for updating the book. It needed to be done.
I also want to mention that I fear for the over diagnosing of individuals with mental illness. A word of advice: Do not take a pill for every whim and especially do not put a child on a pill to mask symptoms until you really understand what is going on. Patience is needed . Do not be in a rush. Where the heck you going anyway? It has taken many years of finding the right medications for Luke. He is on two main meds ( they have changed from this post’s original publishing) right now and is functioning fairly well on them. He is monitored very closely by Seattle doctors we have found in our community.