TED Conversations

Arjuna Nagendran


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What experiences have made you more comfortable with mental health disorders?

What things make you fearful of mental health disorders? And what experiences have made you more comfortable with it?

In the quest to dispell stigma, how can we help our society grow out of its fear?


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    Oct 20 2012: As a person with psych labels (note plural) I would like to add the following. Sometimes having an episode can make life really strange. Sometimes I have a lot of energy and other times I don't. Sometimes I seem to be able to engage with other people really well and other times I don't. I agree with Ruby Wax about the stigma. My life opportunities have been drastically affected - you may or may not see it as a blessing that I cannot get credit or life insurance. Sometimes I really wonder who is insane. People literally stop seeing you as having any potential once you have a pscyh. label. I also viewed Vikram Patel's talk and added my comments about the role of talking therapies like counselling. I do have neurological issues as well and there is a huge crossover in the two. The meds are not benign. Lithium is nasty, risperidone makes you produce breast milk now seems long-term use of some antidepressants may lead to early dementia. So I would advocate for a combination of talking therapy with meds to a minimum for severe episodes and a bit more love, support and understanding. Am a person not an animal. Used to be places for people like me in communities, creative people with ideas but less and less so in a world where you need cold hard cash to pay the bills. So grateful for community based care in the U.K,. and closure of the asylums. Think people are scared possibly because they may think 'well that's what I am like some of the time, am I insane ?' then others may project their own stuff (note tech term from psychology) on to someone else. Nurture, support and tolerance not blame, shame and isolate. Also note the lack of family support and friends for people on psych wards, gentleness helps when someone is having a psychotic break, ever consider a patient might actually be very frightened hence fight or flight. BTW Gullivers Travels written after a psych episode I understand and so many creative people. It's all about different ways of seeing.
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      Oct 20 2012: /
      Who couldn't use a little holistic therapeutic haven? Label me crazy but I like that idea. Do your best to shrug off the shame game. Everyone can afford more tolerance, support, gentleness. Some of us have more scary strangeness happening than others. Some of us engage with others better than others. When I'm not feeling able to engage with others I make sure I am my own best friend. I know what shame is and I know what it feels like and I don't wish that on you or anybody.

      Thank you for writing, Elizabeth. I like how real you are here and the way you talk about how things are for you. I'm glad you have that community based care and that its working out for you.
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        Oct 21 2012: Problem is Mark it's not. Psych label 16 years old. Serious consequences. Less than a person legally, not allowed to do jury service and any court case dismissed by Crown Prosecution Service as 'unreliable witness'. Discrimination in allocation of welfare benefits. Inadequate health care leading to permanent physical disability, spinal op should have happened max 6 months after notification of same. Second disc collapsed in 15 month wait. Serious permanent neurological damage plus meds possibly damaged renal system and now body struggling to cope with pain meds let alone psych meds. Son now 16 my main carer for years and now potential eating disorder. Not having 'career' in mental illess for him. He is brilliant at Maths and wants to be engineer or architect not my carer. Not 'the cervical myelopathy' in bed 2 or 'higher functioning manic depressive' in the community. Graduate Goldsmiths College London 2002 Creative Writing Course then episode stopped progression. Graduate Foundation Degree Integrative Counselling. Enrolled University of Greenwich, spinal surgery potentially ending final B.A. My life ruined, no access to credit or life insurance. Liability for employment but luckily unable to fill shelves. Not giving in to psychosis as escape, psych wards a living hell. Just like Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry but 'non-celebrity'. As a middle aged woman become invisible, humour an ego-defense for truly painful reality.
        • Nov 5 2012: Well Elizabeth, i too am aware of the way people treat you differently when you are a little different mentally. depression has been a lifelong battle for me although it wasn't diagnoed until after military service. My mom battled it all her life. Both of my brothers are recovering alcoholics as was my Grandfather. My dad had PTSD from Korea and taught it well to us kids. But still, through all of my weirdness and depression and creative bursts and MS, I have discovered a couple of things. It has made me extremely adaptable. Darwin didn't say it was the fittest that would survive, it would be the most ADAPTABLE that would survive. Those of us with "The Label" need not totally follow societal norms and we will be better able to adapt AND think outside the box we have been so conveniently excluded from. I don't miss their version of reality a bit even though I have to play the game daily. yes, the exclusions are painful but they allow for self growth within ourselves. That which does not kill me makes me stronger.

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