A lifetime prison sentence


I have suffered with something since puberty but it was not until the age of 20 when I was formally diagnosed, for the second time, with schizophrenia. Unfortunately it was the diagnosis at age 20 that stuck with me for 17 years. After I was given this firm diagnosis I was given Clozapine, a medication which, as you may know, you're supposed to be on for life.

It turns out that I was misdiagnosed. I was in fact suffering from menstrual psychosis but the damage from the Clozapine had been done. I always knew when taking this medication that it was doing damage and potentially could kill me, the blood tests were a bit of a give away, but it is only recently after tapering off the dose and subsequently stopping this medication that I am becoming aware that it might have damaged the structure of my brain. I am aware of this due to the physical pain which has been with me constantly since the dose went below 75mg.

With the pleasure of hindsight and access to some of my medical notes it is blantantly obvious that what I was suffering with was hormonal as my times of crisis happened about once a month on around the same day. The fact that my problems started at puberty is another big give away.

What gets me is the fact that someone, once given this label, can then be strongly coersed into taking damaging medication, the side effects of which, when being taken, are physically, mentally and socially debilitating. And expected to comply with this treatment plan for the rest of their natural life with little information about the longterm effects of this type of medication, including in the case of Clozapine the physical addictive properties. I am aware that the offical literature online about Clozapine states that it is not physically addictive but anything that causes extreme pain when slowly and safely tapered off and stopped is in my book physically addictive.

The medication issue is one thing; one of the other issues is the immediate right that the medical profession is given, once the label of schizophrenia has been applied, to deprive someone of their liberty and lock them in a hospital at any time, but especailly if they stop being complient with their medication regime.

Also in my experince, talking threapies, which can have a dramatic positive effect on the quality of life, of the labeled individual, are very hard to obtain access to. I think I had to wait 17 years from the date of my first admission to a mental health unit to recieve this type of therapy, which was in my case CAT.

The fact that once given it is near impossible to remove this label is a major problem, as with matters of the mind nothing is set in stone. Schizophrenia is more than just a diagnosis, for those diagnosised, rightly or wrongly, it is a lifetime prison sentence interspersed with periods of parole, the conditions of which are harsh and potentially damaging.

I know in my case it would have helped if the diagnosing doctor had properly looked at all the other options, like menstrual psychosis, before diagnosising me and landing me with this life sentence. I am however the lucky one as I have managed to shed my label and come out the other side, albeit with the physical pain caused by the medications and the worry that they have damaged my brain. But I am thankful to be out of the mental health nightmare and away from the stigma and ignorance which surrounds those with this label. This ignorance and stigma is very real and something everyone with this diagnosis will know extremely well. Very few of us are axe murders but the public's perception is that the label schizophrenia means just this.