Monday, January 10, 2011

Wood Piles and Arizona

My outside time: walking to the wood pile to get a log for the fire. I should be at work, but am home nursing this squished rib.

Which gives me time to watch all the events in Arizona. Liberals blame the hyperbole of Sarah Palin (with some justification) regarding the actions of this psychotic kid who took so many decent people's lives. I agree to an extent.

But the real tragedy of the situation is that this kid was sick. Probably schizophrenic. And all those folks who could have stepped in to get this kid some help didn't step in. His parents didn't. His school (which expelled him until he got a psychiatric examination) didn't. The cops who took him out of class didn't. His friends who watched him deteriorate didn't.

Schizophrenics have their first break, usually, between the ages of 18 to 25. I've seen hundreds of these cases now. I also have never seen a first break where cannabis wasn't involved. True in this case too.

Maybe the blessing out of this situation will be two-fold: The nasty, violent hyperbole of different political worldviews might simmer down; and maybe we will learn to intervene when a kid gets sick.


Jackijo said...

Could you explain what you mean by a first break?

I do agree with you that this kid needed help and he didn't get it.

Allan Stellar said...

Hi Jackijo,

A "first break" is sort of a slang term that psychiatric nurses use to call a kid's first psychotic break with reality. It is usually compromised by very delusional thoughts, auditory and visual hallucinations, bizarre ideas, grandiose paranoia and very bizarre behaviors. Usually the kid has about a year, or more, of disconnecting from others, previous to the break. They may become pre-occupied with religion or politics...usually in a grandiose or persecutory manner.

It is a sad time and very overwhelming for family. It doesn't help that the kid usually doesn't know that they are sick. The suicide rate for kids under the age of 25 who become schizophrenic is around 25 percent.

Hope that helps...

lph said...


Interesting editorial in today's New York Times by David Brooks. His premise is that we shouldn't be focused on the political rhetoric but instead should be looking closer at the idea of how we can better treat and recognize mental illness.

Although I refuse to give those political and media loudmouths (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and yes, even Olberman) a free pass, I do agree with much of Brooks's rationale.

Yet I also know that our health care system, and its refusal to accept mental health as a real health issue, is absolutely a part of this tragedy!

Why we are so afraid of real health care I have no idea? The external costs of our broken health care system are scattered throughout America, its emergency rooms and its homeless...and ignored by those who sitting around with a fat and happy health care plan.

Take care of those ribs...and remind your friend that neither of you are 25 anymore.


Allan Stellar said...

Hey Larry,

I haven't seen the Brooks piece--but find it refreshing that he said that. I like David Brooks, and always find him to be a good read.

I'm disappointed about the mental health coverage thus far. Nobody on MSNBC has really delved into it. They take the gun control angle (which is important)--but seem oblivious to the mental health issues. Geesh, haven't we figured out that almost all of these horrific shootings are really mental health issues?

And you are right about not being 25---although my friend seems to lost in a permanent adolescence.

Woodswalker said...

Thanks for this, Allan. A very important issue, but no easy solutions. I've known too many families who struggle to get young people treated and can't, either because they can't afford it or the young person refuses to cooperate.

Jennifer said...

I think this is one of your best blogs yet. I quoted you on facebook. (Hope that's ok)

Allan Stellar said...

Thanks Woods...and it is sad when families can't get help for their kids.

No problem Jennifer...although I didn't think it was any good....