There’s a joke about how different people of different cultures react to bad news from a doctor..the German gets drunk on beer, the British gets busy with gardening, and the Jew goes to another doctor for a second opinion.
What i would like to speak about what are the risk factors involving misdiagnosis;
We grow up trusting doctors and putting them up on pedestals with an almost God like reverence but what if the doctor is wrong ? what if the doctor just can not be bothered to look beyond surface symptoms?
I would like to describe an experience to demonstrate what a misdiagnose is like;
Sara has been struggling with loneliness, isolation for some time, perhaps for her entire life, a neglected child, left alone by herself for long hours at an age when children should not be left alone, she grew up to be an isolated teenager, not popular in school she never learned the social skills of how to befriend others though she did have friends from time to time, she never had real friends, people she could rely on or depend on for anything.
Somehow Sara grows, she seeks love in all the wrong places, and then realises that men will not provide for her all that was missing from her life, a hole in her soul would not be filled by surface sexual relationships , and one day she met someone with similar feelings, they got together, married, had children but since they both never learned to deal with their emotions and went about dealing with each other completely differently, the man she had married had temper tantrums and became violent rather than taking responsibility for his emotions of frustration and lack of fulfilment and sara went about being his victim and having to take no responsibility for making a change in the vicious pattern that has become her life.
The children born of such a marriage would have to deal with a lot of issues themselves, and then one day Sara goes to therapy, she goes to someone for a long time, they talk, he explains to her how giving medication is complex, and she carries on living a life with not much happening, no solid relationships, no friendships, shallow encounters, and not much else, despite having earned degrees, and then she stops the therapy since she does not feel anything is changing in her life, time passes and she feels stuck.
Sara changes her places of living, returns to the place where she had been born, feeling the childhood pain overwhelm her and hoping that enlightenment would occur and that she would be able to put the puzzle pieces together , but she feels she can not manage to figure out on her life on her own . Sara finally goes to a psychiatrist at the mental health clinic . She has been waiting for the appointment for a long time, a month and a half, he only has time early in the morning before work. Sara arrives ten minutes late, the doctor, a Russian moustached elderly man frowns, he speaks and does not allow her to ask questions. He asks whether she always speaks so fast, Sara is not aware of speaking fast, the psychiatrist speaks and she has to listen, so after FIVE minutes, the doctor says that she has bipolar, he tells her she has made enormous efforts struggling through life with a mental illness, but that is definitely what she has. Sara asks for a standarized test but the doctor who knows it all rejects that suggestion, hinting this is part of her problem, not trusting..
“You are manic” , the doctor concludes and writes her a perspiration of Lithium.
Sara feels lonely and the doctor promises her a beautiful new world once she takes the pill. The doctor rejects discussing the diagnosis further or Sara’s request to talk to someone, “It is like buying a friend”,he says, “You need real friends” and with this pill, real friends will come ..Sara will be able to accomplish everything with the help of a pill..a song from the 1970’s about drugs goes through her mind ..
Sara has been an obedient child for the most part so she goes to the pharmacy and gets Lithium.
Later on Sara goes to her local coffee shop and speaks to the man behind the counter with whom she has had a few profound conversations about family and life, he is a father of two grown daughters and he runs the coffee shop with his wife. Sara trusts him and so she asks him “Do you think i speak too fast?”
“No”, the man answers and Sara tells him about the meeting with the psychiatrist, and the man expresses his doubts Sara has any sort of mental illness.
“Maybe i will just come here and have a cup of coffee with a pastry as a medicine” Sara mutters and the man smiles and nods . Yes.
At the pharmacy the pharmacist agrees that sara should get a second opinion.
Youtube offers one scary video about how Lithium has side effects of confusion, blurry vision, muscle control , nausea and Sara just began a new job which demands being alert and organised and managing a lot. Oh, no! sara thinks, as she listens to people who have side effects from Lithium causing them to lose their jobs, and not to be able to deal with a lot. Sara just wanted to see someone who could help her deal with the despair she feels sometimes and instead she could have been in danger of taking medication which would have made her feel sick, very sick.
“Get a second opinion” advices the pharmacist..and sara thinks about giving back the Lithium and just forgetting she ever went to the doctor. The manic part of her wants revenge and to complain but she knows she needs to pick her battles..
Sara thinks about seeing someone for talks, talks about her life and how to figure out new strategies..and to continue her daily regime and to not think constantly that there is something wrong with her. Coffee and pastry have little side effects.
Identifying and diagnosing a mental health issue is never an easy process. Most mental health struggles do not live in isolation, and many of us have negative thought or mood tendencies that, while challenging, do not qualify as a disorder.
As a relationship coach, I’ve found that loneliness is one of these tendencies that often come along with a diagnosed mental health disorder. While correlation is not causation, it seems that loneliness could be more of a cause than a symptom in some of our commonly recognized mental health issues.
Human closeness is fundamental to our mental well-being; without it, any number of pathologies could plague us. The loneliness that arises from a lack of human closeness could easily bring about any number of presenting problems.
Here are 4 recognized mental health disorders that may spring from, or be exacerbated by, loneliness:
Source: Stocksy/Simone Becchetti
Loneliness and depression have always gone hand-in-hand. We’ve all experienced moments when we find ourselves a little down due to a lack of close friendships. If someone had no close relationships in her life, it’s not a stretch to assume she would feel some powerful malaise as a result.
Recently, a study conducted over a five year period at the University of Chicago found that the presence of loneliness early in the five year span was an excellent predictor for depression later in the five year span. In fact, loneliness was an even better predictor than the presence of depression itself early in the five year span. What does this indicate? Loneliness may precede depression even more frequently than depression precedes depression.
2.) Social Anxiety:
If one’s loneliness is not caused by physical isolation (such as living in a very sparsely populated town), it’s reasonable to think loneliness may be caused by discomfort getting to know people. This is usually called social anxiety. While there are extreme forms of this problem – not being able to leave the house, for example – the more mild symptoms of social anxiety could be caused by feeling alone. You may feel as if you’re unlikeable or unworthy of good relationships, causing fear and anxiety about the process of forming them.
On June 26th, 2015 NPR ran a story about how research suggests lonely people may actually have superior social skills than those who are not lonely. In other words, lonely people are not lonely because they don’t know how to talk to people. Instead, findings suggest they struggle with relationships because they are scared of messing up – they worry about saying the wrong thing in social situations. I see this as suggesting that loneliness and social anxiety may be intertwined, creating a vicious cycle of isolation and fear of isolation.
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Source: Stocksy/Irena Fabri
Released in January 2015, Johann Hari’s revolutionary book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs made people aware that drug addiction may be much more than just chemical hooks in the brain. He posits that when people lead lives full of closeness with others, they do not become addicted to drugs – even when they are put on powerful painkillers after an accident, for example. But the opposite is also true. Those who feel lonely before ever taking a drug are much more likely to get hooked.
In a Huffington Post article, Hari references the work of Professor Peter Cohen, who says: “If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find – the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. [Professor Cohen] says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else. So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
While hoarding is generally categorized as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, there is an element of loss and heartache in filling one’s life up with stuff. When we’re not able to fill up our lives with close friends and family, some people may turn to comforting objects to fill the void. The International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation speaks directly to this, stating: “Loneliness is one of the main factors that causes hoarding to occur.”
We’ve likely all touched on this tendency to a certain extent – holding on to the trinkets, letters, and keepsakes of a relationship that’s ended, for example. These objects may “fill the emptiness,” but as the emptiness gets bigger, so may the mountain of objects.
If you suffer from one of the above conditions, or know someone who does, it may be worth considering if loneliness is playing a part in perpetuating the problem. Addressing your loneliness could be the key to unleashing your healthy mind.