Ask The Audience: Mental Health, Ctd

A reader writes:

As someone who has lived with serious mental health problems, I can relate to the sister your reader writes in about. It's important to understand that every one of us has the innate desire to not be different. Many mental illnesses don't begin to manifest until early adulthood - so you've spent your life as a normal human being and now you're crazy. Right, who's going to accept that? Even if you've always had a mental illness, you just want to be normal. This is why almost every individual with mental illness goes through a period of abandoning medication - it's just much easier to think "I don't need this because the hard times which caused it are over" or "Now I'm cured". In my experience it takes a "bottom" so to speak to realize that you do need to be medicated and arrive at acceptance.
This relates directly to the earlier post regarding patient rights and how often people with mental illness are treated or institutionalized against their will. When I was unmedicated, every thought - no matter how innocuous - twisted into something dark and disturbing. I would begin by thinking how nice it is to hear children playing outside, and then find myself dwelling on all the horrible things that could happen to them. I would look at green grass, and end up thinking about how someday I'll be buried under a patch of it. When I looked at my gas range, the telephone cord, or the beam across my roof, I started to think about how it could be used to kill myself. My thinking was different and dangerous, and I was in no position to make rational decisions about my healthcare. Patient rights really don't apply in the same way under these conditions. I was institutionalized against my will on several occasions, and if I hadn't been I would probably be dead today.