Physical Illness & Mental Illness ~ & Never The Twain Shall Meet

Though we have an unspoken adage surrounding this topic with “never the twain shall meet” between the two – in actual fact, mental and physical well-being are wholly and inextricably linked. For example, the proverbial hard driven Type A personality, with high blood pressure, is prone to having a heart attack or stroke. Yet for some reason, he is not considered mentally ill, even though he may have been told what the outcome would be, ten or twenty years ago, when he walked into a doctor’s office with a blood pressure of 220/110 – or got diagnosed with atrial fib or Type 2 diabetes while in his fifties.

In addition to medication, this Type A person would be told that if they don’t change their lifestyle – they are high risk when it comes to being a statistic for a leading cause of death. Almost every illness created or worsened by lifestyle factors – should also be called a mental illness, because thinking is what leads to behaviours. Repressing emotions can be just as sickening – as oppressing, regressing, or expressing them.

Every single human being gets physically ill from time to time. When you add accidents, sports injuries, falls, pulled tendons and ligaments, burns, iatrogenic, idiopathic, and chronic illnesses – the range of physical ailments we and our loved ones are faced with, is a cringing fact of life. Yet, from bumps and bruises, to life altering disabilities – the resilience of the body and mind, will dust off what we can, and get back in the saddle.

When a person develops a physical ailment – they are not automatically labeled for life as being “physically ill”. Why wouldn’t we apply the same transient logic to the many facets of mental illness as well? Certain diseases, injuries or events – cause life altering disabilities, but in most cases, people get over their colds and broken bones – and carry on. The same goes for most of the psychological hurdles and hardships we face.

Considering the credibility of the DSM manual is steadily decreasing, as it increases in volume, it is time for the industry (and general public) to pause and take stock. Inventing and adding new mental health disorders by the dozens is highly questionable, and is finally being challenged by many altruistic and educated professionals in the field.

The DSM has been designed so that any person who goes in for an evaluation or screening, would be considered to have at least one of those burgeoning 347 mental health disorders. Truthfully, a somewhat scatter-brained manual is growing like a stage four glioblastoma. If they continue to invent and add more illnesses to the book at the same rate, by 2030, there should be around 500 mental health disorders for society to contend with.

What the average person might not know, is that they are coming up with these diseases without any diagnostic criteria whatsoever. No wonder the entire field is frequently being called junk pseudoscience by a growing number of educated people and organizations. How do they come up with all these disorders? They simply get together, make them up, give them a name; and then vote to add these new disorders to the book (in their own best interests of course). Who can escape being mentally ill at that rate?

Anxiety and depression are considered to be mental illnesses. Who – in their right mind, has not experienced anxiety and depression at some point in their lives?? Are we all nuts? Or is the DSM a true extension, and example of what is bat shit crazy? Yes the human mind is very complex. In fact, the brain and the mind are not exactly the same either. Who are they to be judge and jury over how another person processes their experiences, thoughts and emotion? Most professionals in the mental health field are more nuts than the general population. That much HAS been proven!

Why are they being so sickening around the subject of mental health? Pure profit motive underlies the growing fiasco. Worse yet, like they did with Oxycontin, it is a way to get innocent people struggling with what could be little more than temporary sniffles, into a lifelong battle with drugs, side effects, and increasing marginalization around being “mentally ill”. But ironically, mental illness is still not compared to physical illness. The industry itself is more than happy to label and stigmatize people for life.

How does a psychiatrist, having never before met a person, and using zero diagnostic criteria – have a ten or fifteen minute conversation, and then pull some diagnosis out of his hat? Ten different psychiatrists would probably have ten different opinions. Every single one of them would be inclined to sling prescription meds at the poor person to top it off, whether they need them or not. It becomes alarming, when they start making these assumptions without any criteria, or even manifestations or documentation of overt maladaptive behaviours. Who can honestly say they are not motivated by profit, ego, politics, or their own distorted values – when they make their rash judgements?

The reason people are supposed to be referred to a psychiatrist by a GP or family doctor, is because many mental health disorders have an underlying physical cause. Also, a family doctor who knows the person, is more likely to recognize atypical behaviours or symptoms. It is up to the GP to rule out physical causes first and foremost. Therefore no psychiatric diagnosis can be made, without first doing some physical diagnostics and baseline tests.

For example, hypothyroidism causes depression. Idiopathic dystonic movement disorders might start with anxiety or panic attacks. Parkinson’s disease, MS, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances are often signalled by depression, withdrawal, and a loss of motivation. The list goes on an on, especially as people age. Even a urinary tract infection in an elderly person can lead to delirium.

During the years I worked in community mental health, the correlation between physical and mental health was very obvious. In the mental health system, when people would get physically sick, they would quickly decompensate mentally as well. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that when we are physically ill, we soon battle depression.

There is an entire spectrum surrounding drugs of choice, when it comes to substance abuse. But when you consider that a very high percentage of opiate users started out with prescription pain pills, in order to medicate a physical injury – what does that tell us? Substance abuse is one of the most debilitating and life threatening mental health disorders, yet the person often started out with physical pain and symptoms.

In the case of drugging children who are diagnosed with ADHD, with Ritalin and Adderall, because these are stimulants – the corresponding street drugs are Meth and Ecstasy. How many kids diagnosed with ADHD started crushing and snorting those meds as early as grade six? How many of them were misdiagnosed to begin with?

Heavy cocaine use will cause cardiac arrhythmias and stroke. Alcohol eventually causes liver disease, GI bleeds, and a host of other co-morbidity factors. So why do we continually separate physical illness and mental illness?

When people are ill, it is usually temporary. If they are permanently ill, they are terminal, or unable to overcome whatever it is that has struck them down. People with a mental health diagnosis do not need to be permanently ill. In the case of any diagnostics, a physical exam, to rule out a physical cause, is the first step taken by a prudent GP. The importance of evaluating physical health, diet, exercise, substance abuse, side effects of medications, and external circumstances – cannot be underestimated, before making a mental health referral.

If there is a debilitating and disorganized thought disorder, threats of violence to self or others, abnormal and disruptive behaviours, and the inability to self-care – those are the real parameters of mental illness. We need to stop permitting the labelling of every human struggle as a permanent disease condition. Every time we hear that someone is mentally ill, we thing of a deranged and dishevelled person staggering around and babbling incoherently.

Why is mental illness stigmatized as such? Are you still labeled as being physically ill, from a bout of bronchitis two years ago? The medical and pharmaceutical industry is responsible for stigmatizing mental illness. Someone needs to oversee how and why they are creating all these new illnesses to add to the DSM manual. It’s all for profit – and in most cases, they are also exploiting the vulnerabilities that led the person to their doors in the first place.

We are either all mentally ill due to past experiences with depression, anxiety, grief, substance abuse, insomnia, hyperactivity, etc.etc. Or in truth, very few people are permanently mentally ill. For those who are permanently disabled for mental health reasons, they will most certainly have some sort of movement disorder due to the medications they must take, which signals a direct effect on the basal ganglia of the brain ( a physical problem). Therefore the long term treatment must also include what the treatment itself is doing to the body, brain, and central nervous system. Do they care? Or do they just keep adding more?

Mental health professionals frequently overlook physical causes of mental health disorders because they themselves are uneducated and lack experience medically, when it comes to physical health. How many psychiatrists take a person’s blood pressure, or will pull out a lab req, before they make their diagnosis and order heavy duty psychoactive drugs?

The law denies insanity pleas, because the law defines the knowledge of right and wrong, as being a key parameter in determining culpability. Therefore, insanity pleas are usually no excuse when it comes to thieving and violent crime. Otherwise all property crime related to getting enough money for the next fix, would be deemed a mental health issue. If they do decriminalize drugs, surely they won’t decriminalize violent crime or property crime, claiming the person was compelled to be aggressive due to substance abuse. Yet the crime rate is a direct result of the substance abuse disorder.

If drugs are decriminalized, there has to be a way to prevent the crime that is secondary to those addictions. In the bigger picture, we cannot overlook the fact that physical and mental health represents an integrated set of systems within the body – one that has a rippling effect on families, the workplace, and the communities. In a similar way, illness and toxicity is spread to encompass a wider legal and social challenge.

Therefore an orientation to a more holistic approach is warranted, not just in the three spheres that are charted on mental health records – but on a half a dozen other spheres, extending to families and communities. Various societal influences, indirectly deceive us into creating our own “egosystems” and “ergosystems” out of their skewed drug-induced sales pitch. It’s both an excuse and a blame game – to fully and completely crush the vulnerable, since that is how those who exalt themselves stay “high” on the totem pole in the hierarchy of life. They readily judge others, without considering their own fragile state.

It’s all so complicated – few know where to even begin to bring it all together for the common good. One of the first questions we might ask ourselves; is what is the polarized opposite of vulnerability and shame? Arrogance and blame. Arrogance itself is a common delusion, and known as one of the dark traits of human nature. In truth, it is an attempt to cover insecurity and deception.

If we must blame, it really should be backed with some empirical evidence and accountability. But who is capable of taking on big egos or Big Pharma? Who can deny the need for medication, when it is initially prescribed by a doctor? By the sounds of it, the average middle aged person cannot go anywhere for a week without taking along his or her plethora of medications. Once prescribed – there is a duty to take the medicine. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, to include false mammogram readings, there is an immediate duty to treat and follow doctor’s orders. Pre-screening carries more hazards than benefits.

The only solution is to start teaching people to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. Autonomy does not equate to blind trust – by allowing ourselves to become human market potential. Yes we all need help from time to time, if we can afford or even find a qualified, and sincere professional. But the DSM model of inventing diseases and making people sick, instead of concentrating on wellness, is a profit driven model, prone to exploiting those who are struggling with a temporary problem.

The growing trend around volunteer peer counselling and education to equip people to do peer counselling, is a very positive trend. It is geared toward empathy and compassion, as opposed to the crumbling DSM criteria. It is more equality based, much cheaper, probably deeper – and every bit as effective as expensive counselling sessions, if not more so. Talk therapy does not have to cost the system $150.00 an hour. After all – most of us know how to talk! It takes a big whack on the head – before they can take that much away from us!

Valerie Hayes

Quiet West Vintage represents a private vintage and designer collection that has been gathered and stored over a thirty-five year period. I now look forward to sharing this collection and promoting the "Other Look" - a totally individualistic approach to style.