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Coming under psychiatry at a younger age-good or not?

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:19 pm
by ooby
Back in the 60s and 70s it was a much rarer occurrence to receive treatment pre teens. I suspect that quite a few, like me, would have received treatment far sooner if born a couple of decades later. The thing though is has the pendulum now swung too far in the opposite direction?

The difference between my peers and myself first became noticeable at boarding school(age 8) and really took off in my early teens. Whether I was already ill within being different or the peer reaction to being different set me on the path to being ill is debatable. What I do know is that I had problems. Someone said elsewhere it’s up to the parents as to what to do but parents in the 60s and 70S were less aware of childhood psychological/social problems, and schools lacked the counselling service that some/many schools now have.
To my mother I was always the awkward baby that became the awkward toddler that became the awkward child that became the awkward teenager etc . The thought that I had something I needed help for didn’t occur till my mid-late teens and even then the belief in my awkwardness persisted.
The approach to a child who is ill and different should I think be different than that to a child who is different but develops problems over time due to peer reactions.
I would agree that there is a problem in trying to mould children that are merely different to fit a supposed ‘norm’.
If I had had help earlier would my social and learning difficulties have been flagged up for closer attention and support- given the attitudes and knowledge of the time the possibility might have increased by a small amount but the odds would still have been against it.
Could an adult lifetime of psychiatric drugs have been avoided with earlier intervention? The best I can say is maybe .

Sorry if this was a bit jumbled-ongoing brain constipation!

Re: Coming under psychiatry at a younger age-good or not?

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:43 pm
by acorn
Hello ooby

I have some thoughts to add

1) I think there is a big difference between a child showing signs of serious psychiatric illness such as psychosis, severe self harm/suicidal ideation, psychosis or eating disorder to the extent the hospital intervention is necessary to prevent death from dehydration and malnutrition and a child that is simply not fitting in.

2) it is true that some children/teeneagers are labelled because they are different and this can cause an increase in bullying as it points them out to there peers as being vulnerable. However, identifying children that need extra support to stay in school is still in my eyes a good thing.

3) As for whether it makes a difference later in life I know the outcome for three of the seven other young people on adolescent unit with me when I was 15. One is completely recovered works and lives a normal life. One is still on benefits but relatively happy and functioning. One is dead. Then there is me still needing significant mental health support and reliant on others for care. I do not know if the outcome would be different with no treatment of course but I do jot think the one that recovered would have done without help.

Re: Coming under psychiatry at a younger age-good or not?

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:05 am
by alisontiz
Hi Ooby and Acorn, You've raised some very interesting points. As I said in the other room, I know I was given Phenobarbitone at about the age of ten, but I don't know either whether I was ill before that or, if I was, whether I was given any medication. I remember we had just moved house at the time and I didn't fit in at school to the extent that I was choking back tears all day every day whilst at school and sobbing uncontrollably at home. I know I cried myself to sleep every night. One could argue that it was the house move and change of schools which caused my illness, but I don't remember what it was that I was crying about. It wasn't obvious to me that I felt so awful because I didn't fit into my new school, and no one ever spoke to me about it. When I was given the Phenobarbitone, I wasn't told why I was being given it or what it was for. I just knew I felt what I would now describe as 'relief' after having been given it (as a liquid on a spoon). Does anyone know whether this was usual in the mid to late 60s? Under what conditions would it have been prescribed for a child? Anyway, I don't know whether it was nature or nurture which caused me a lifetime of mental ill health. Ooby, do you think that if you hadn't been sent away to boarding school things might have been different for you? It's very sad to hear of your mother's attitude towards you. I really don't know what my mother thought of me. We were a physically undemonstrative family and certainly never spoke about feelings. Now I'm thinking about it, I realise that those aspects of my childhood are a mystery to me. I should ask my Mother whilst I can (she's 89), but I would find it extremely difficult. It would be interesting to hear from others who have suffered mental ill health since childhood and how they were treated/whether they think their problems were caused by nature or nurture. Alison

Re: Coming under psychiatry at a younger age-good or not?

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:31 am
by ooby
I suspect I might have been a target for bullies whatever school I had gone to.

Re: Coming under psychiatry at a younger age-good or not?

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:29 pm
by alisontiz
Hi Ooby, I can understand that, but if you had been at home, one would like to think that you would have had the support of your parents who, one hopes, would have seen what was going on. Or maybe they would have been like my parents and just given you some rather dangerous medicine! I've been thinking this over and I've remembered that I bit a hole in my knuckle. It was over some time, a big, very deep hole which hurt a lot but somehow I needed to do it. I don't know whether it was some form of childish self harm. No one else has ever known about it until now as I write this to my friends who I think will understand. I've also been thinking about you being bullied, Ooby. Is it correct that bullying was an innate part of being at boarding school and was accepted by teachers and parents alike? You've said that you think you would have been bullied whichever type of school you went to, but I wonder whether there would have been fewer opportunities at a day school. I don't know. I'm getting the feeling that children of the 60s weren't taken notice of with regard to their emotional and mental needs...or was that just my family? And I think you are talking more about being a child in the 70s when I would have thought things were at least starting to get better. But, again, maybe it was just your family who seemed to stand back watching you being awkward and suffering? I haven't mentioned that my 'illness' continued into my teens when I was first given diazepam and I also remember some little red 3D triangular pills and the words imiprimine and trimiprimine and so it went on with seemingly every drug under the sun until today when I am just about to take yet another handful. If this started when I was ten (and it may have been before that), it's been going on for about 50 years. How amazing is that? I cannot believe that I've just worked that out! What exactly is it about me that causes me to need these drugs? I have no idea! I expect I am at severe risk of developing dementia as well as the td that's already been caused by all the meds. What other dreadful things are they doing to the chemicals and pathways in my brain? Who knows?! Gosh! Sorry I've been rambling on and on...and am on my phone so it's hard to see what I've put. I do just want to ask Acorn whether she was treated kindly in hospital as a child? I hope so. Alison

Re: Coming under psychiatry at a younger age-good or not?

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:09 pm
by motherofrage
Hi all,
I've just read this thread because I've been thinking about this question a lot. I was abused when I was 8 or so, I was told to forget about it and not to talk about what happened, and certainly nobody seemed to care how I actually felt. I recently told my mother that they'd just left me completely alone with it all (I've only recently started to at least try to talk to my parents, this was hugely scary for me) and she told me that "one couldn't tell" that I was struggling. I believe that they just didn't want to know - and apparently still don't want to. Being a child then, I tried very hard to do what they seemed to want me to, not to complain, not to need help, but of course I couldn't do that. I just ended up with all this repressed rage, feeling like a freak and a monster, not trusting anyone, always feeling that I'd been wronged but always getting blamed. I do wonder what would have happened if anyone had figured out that there were reasons for my "difficult" behaviour. This was in the 70s and going on into the 80s, so I guess it would have been some sort of pills - just listening didn't seem to have been invented then. What I've heard and read about mental health services makes me think that I was perhaps better off not getting sucked into that system. As things are, I have no record, it is (usually) up to me how much people know about my difficulties - I am in control of what I share, and with whom. But, given how hard I find it to trust anyone, that sometimes feels like more of a curse than a blessing, and I have been let down by people I'd thought of as friends. When things get really tough I often find myself fantasizing about hospitals as places of refuge, with no responsibilites, no expectations to live up to, just a bed and a wall to stare at. I know that is just a fantasy, but I really do so much wish I could have had some help then, when I needed it. I wish someone could have spared me all the fear and the shame and the loneliness.