Friday, October 21, 2016

Anosognosia - Why people who have certain mental illnesses don't think they are sick. Part 1


Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are considered to be a couple of the most horrible diseases that exist in our world. Robyn and I have conducted seminars across the United States and in Canada. The most common question we are asked at these events is, "I have a loved one with bipolar disorder (or schizophrenia) and I cannot convince them to seek help. They don't realize anything is wrong and they refuse to take medications or even to investigate ways to help themselves. What can I do?"
I usually tell them, "If I had the answer to that one, I would be a millionaire!" In these disorders, a person's judgment is off-kilter because that very important part of processing in the brain is not firing correctly. You can see how difficult this situation can be. This denial is called Anosognosia.

I have Bipolar II disorder but I have never lost touch with reality.  In many mental illnesses, a person may become psychotic for a while or even chronically. So, since the brain is the organ that helps you perceive things in your environment, some harmful, some helpful, then if you have a brain disease and especially mental illness, your brain may not be able to give you the insight you need to get proper help for your illness.

Robyn and I are amazed that there are so many large movements that rightfully advocate for those who suffer from other diseases but advocates for the mentally ill are scarce. Could one reason be that because the mentally ill do not think that they have a disease, why would they fight to educate and raise awareness of it?  Everyone knows a person has to admit or at least realize there is an issue before anything can be done to help.

One of the best things you can do is maintain a relationship and always hope and pray for a teachable moment.   I worked in Grand Rapids, Michigan for an evangelical non-profit ministry to the "urban mentally ill," one of my duties was to teach volunteers how to make friends with those who suffered from hallucinations and delusions.  I remember it took about six years to get a man who suffered from schizophrenia to get treatment.  It took time and and much prayer.

This is one of the reasons why we have started a grass roots movement for those who have mental illness and for those who are their caregivers. The name of our movement is CAMI, which stands for, Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness. We have named it this way, because we do not blame people for a disease of the brain that affects mind, thinking and behavior. Why would we? It is our passionate burden to educate, counsel and advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves. Blame and shame will never be a part of this movement. We do seminars which I think you would want to attend. The feedback we get after our seminars include words like "encouraging" "educational" "supportive", "helpful" and "motivating." We are starting support groups in Canada and the United States of America. If you would like more information or knows someone who would, please go to our "Contact Us" page on our website.


Don't forget our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It,
 Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.  If you go to the following link and you scroll down to the donation button.  Just click on the button and put in a dollar amount of $13.00. I will give you the book for half the price of the retail value.  This amount will also pay for the shipping.  Limit 5 per person.  Broken Minds will also be signed by Robyn and I. Thanks, Steve Bloem
We will have a part two of this blog in the near future.

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