I have written about the different myths there are about mental illness, self harm and borderline personality disorder. One of the things about mental illness which still receives a lot of stigma is the ways that it is treated. People often joke about different treatments, but mental illness is no joke.
Padded Cells are a spongy room where you can bounce off the walls.
As fun as this would be, they aren’t. The walls are a lot softer than the walls of a normal room but the softness is more likened to carpet vs concrete, rather than actually feeling spongy. You also have to be in a hospital gown, on your own, with nothing in the room. These rooms are often used when someone is posing a great risk of harming themselves. They aren’t feel happy at all.
ECT aka shock therapy is barbaric.
In it’s original form, Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) was extremely barbaric. However in its more modern form, ECT is an effective way to treat depression, bipolar and schizophrenia. It is often used when other forms of treatment such as medication and therapy. ECT works by administering a small electric current through the patients brain while they are under general aneasthetic. The patient experiences memory loss so it usually used as a last resort for patients.
Once you start medication you have to be on it for the rest of your life.
For some people, yes that is a reality but it isn’t for everyone. For some people medication is a stepping stone for them to be able to better access therapy.
Medication is just happy pills.
No, just no. The first time someone said to me that I needed to shut up and take my ‘happy pills’ I felt like jamming the entire packet down their ill informed throat. Medication doesn’t instantly make you feel better, in fact most medications actually take 6-8 weeks to reach a therapeutic level, as long as it’s the right medication for you. Medication, in my opinion, needs to be used in conjunction with talk therapy, at least when it’s first administered.
You just lay on a couch in a psychiatrists office and tell them all of your problems.
First off, I think that a lot of people get psychologists and psychiatrists mixed up. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specialises in psychiatry. They prescribe medication and appointments tend to be quite short, they are more of a check in with how the medication is going. However a psychologist is the one who deals with talk therapy, and they can’t prescribe medication. Therapy isn’t just about spilling your troubles and then feeling better. Therapy is about so much more than that. It’s really hard at times, and it challenges beliefs that you have had for so long that they feel a part of you. Therapy is about give and take, you really only get out as much as you put in, and the same goes for the psychologist.
There was a good example of ECT on episode 2 of changing minds on the ABC last week. Shows the induced seizure and explains why you might elect for it as a treatment. The man who had it was exteremely depressed and suicidal, and it had helped him greatly in the past so he was having another round to get him out of that terrible space.
I was also thinking of Changing Minds as I read this post. It’s so good for everyone to be talking about the specifics of mental illness. To lift the lid and show that it happens to so many of us and it’s just a part of all of our lives. x