Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interview with Dr Manny

My twin sister and I did this interview for Foxnews.com last year. While I generally consider Fox network as the "enemy," in this case I must tell you that the interviewer, Jessica Mulvihill, was one of the most prepared, and the interview itself one of the most interesting for me and thoughtful that I have undergone since the books came out. Also, while the interview is a little over a year old, the information is not really that dated, though some of the facts are inaccurate. For instance, DIVIDED MINDS is a memoir, not an "autobiographical novel," and I was not asked to leave medical school, as Dr Manny relates. Instead, I was hospitalized. When discharged  6 weeks later, I was given a leave of absence, but promised that I could return after a year off, if I had medical, which is to say, psychiatric "clearance," so to speak.

Interview on the Dr Manny Show

I want to add something to this post, which came to me after watching the interview another time. Although the incident alluded to again , the one about Kennedy's assassination being the start of my schizophrenia, is mentioned in my poetry book as well as in Divided Minds, my new psychiatrist has a take on it that I found immensely -- I dunno -- reassuring, and somehow right on the money. Dr C suggested, and it feels right to me, that although I heard voices and deeply felt responsible for JFK's death, highly sensitive pre-adolescent children can be impressionable and emotional, and often they may get so involved in a tragic event such the assassination that rocked the entire country, that they may indeed begin to blame themselves. She feels that instead of the incident indicating that I was in the prodrome of schizophrenia, that it was instead an extreme emotional state, but more or less "normal" for a sensitive kid going through a terrible time.

I cannot tell you what relief this take on the event gives me. Why, I do not know, but I feel better being able to see my childhood through this other lens. To be able to say that indeed the illness maybe did start later, rather than to have to try to figure out why there was such a long break between 6th grade's psychotic episode and 10th and 11th grade and certainly the breakdown in college. To see the Kennedy episode as something altogether different, and not prodromal at all, puts another spin on things. It is not that I think that childhood mental illness is something to be ashamed of, only that I did well in those days in other ways, though not in all ways, so to date schizophrenia from age 11 always felt a bit shaky, compared to later years when my ability to cope was so diminished.

1 comment:

Rossa Forbes said...

I am glad to hear what the psychiatrist said about the understandability of your experience at the age of 11. But what does the psychiatrist think when it manifests in the typical subject, a young male of 19 or a woman of 25? That we are dealing with "true" schizophrenia? Schizophrenia to many people is an understandable reaction by sensitive people to a traumatic event. Yet, for years we have been told that no, it's a brain disorder. I am frankly quite angry that I have had to beg these psychiatrists to see it a different way, to forget about the label and think of the pain, (but also the potential), but no, I was supposedly in denial about what schizophrenia is. There is too much money to be made in seeing it as a brain disorder, too much work to do if you see it as a trauma response. Psychiatry has shirked its responsibilities.