Teens May Disguise Depression Symptoms by Saying They”re ”Down” or ”Sad”
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If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices. Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. Check out the browser extension in the Firefox Add-ons Store. Easily clip, save and share what you find with family and friends. Easily download and save what you find. I hope you don’t mind me saying,’ said my cameraman. It had been a gruelling couple of weeks filming, yomping through the ice and snow with heavy cameras and tripod in one of the remotest places in Britain – Barra, one of the most southerly islands of the Outer Hebrides, 60 miles off the wild north-west coast of Scotland.
We’d been shooting for a BBC documentary series called Island Parish, and now my cameraman Aidan and I were sitting in the tiny airport terminal beside the sandy beach where the planes land from Glasgow, heading home to London for a few days’ break. Suddenly, I noticed Aidan was leaning forward and looking at me in an odd way. I hope you don’t mind me saying,’ he said awkwardly, ‘but your eyes seem to have turned slightly yellow. I checked in the loo mirror, but it was quite gloomy in there and I couldn’t see anything wrong. At home in my Islington flat that night, the lighting was low and my partner Sally Ann didn’t notice anything. That all changed dramatically the next morning.
My God, you’ve turned completely yellow! Sal shouted in alarm when we awoke. I had assumed I was in the peak of health, and had felt no aches or pains at all. Things then moved incredibly rapidly – and never again will I curse the NHS. You’ve got jaundice,’ said my GP an hour later. It was a Saturday, and they’d sent me straight in to his surgery. Not a huge problem, but you need attention immediately.
I’ll make an appointment for you to see someone at UCLH. University College London Hospital is my local general hospital. This was my first big piece of luck. I didn’t know it at the time, but UCLH is a world leader in treating the liver and pancreas. No,’ he said, looking at me kindly. A few hours later I was in the ward being examined by a surgeon.
I’d never felt better in my life. One of the common causes of jaundice is blockage of the bile duct, which normally carries bile from the liver to the gut. The liver extracts potential toxins from the blood, modifies them and passes them into the bile so they can reach the gut and be excreted from the body. If they cannot escape, the toxins ‘leak’ back into the bloodstream, and one – bilirubin – produces a yellow colouration, usually visible first in the whites of the eyes, and later in the skin. An endoscopic camera examination revealed that, in my case, the blockage was the result not of gallstones but of a tumour in the pancreas.
Sal and I were horrified, well aware that it could be cancer. A quick trawl of the internet revealed that pancreatic cancer has an appalling prognosis for most people. We passed the three-week wait for the operation in a kind of dizzy dream, heightened by the fact that still at no stage did I feel remotely ill. As it turned out, my swift diagnosis was my second big piece of luck. Early symptoms of pancreatic cancer disguise themselves behind less alarming problems such as weight loss or diabetes, and are notoriously hard to identify. Often it is simply too late by the time doctors realise what it is. The fact that my tumour had blocked the bile duct, making its existence obvious, was a blessing in disguise.
Of every 100 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, only ten can be operated on. I was already in the ‘lucky’ ten per cent. The operation is called a Whipple procedure, and in my case it lasted seven hours. Led by an outstanding surgeon, Charles Imber, the team removed not just the tumour but part of my pancreas, gall bladder, and parts of the bile ducts, bowel and stomach, in an attempt to prevent any potential spread of the tumour. I was in intensive care for a few days, then moved to the ward.
The registrar broke the news from the pathology lab. I’m afraid your tests reveal that the tumour was cancerous,’ he said. But we have managed to cut out the whole growth. I suppose we had been wildly hoping against all the odds that the tumour was benign so, knowing that this form of cancer has a high chance of recurring, this was, in a way, the lowest point. It was almost more of a worry trying to imagine how my friends and family – and particularly Sal – would take the news. In fact, whatever their private thoughts, everyone was unbelievably upbeat and supportive.
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Having stared death squarely in the face, I decided to put it back in its box and focus on recovering from the operation. I’d been told it was vital to get out of bed and walking as quickly as possible – even though this was painful at first – to get the lungs working and so help stave off infection. I took a few more steps each day, eventually pounding the ward and later the stairwells. Seeing the other patients, many of whom seemed to be in a far worse state than me, made me realise that I was, even now, lucky to be alive.
I met a man who had started to undergo the same operation as me, but the surgeons were unable to remove his tumour because of its proximity to a major blood vessel. Later, I saw the delight on his face as his wife and young children arrived for a visit. He, too, looked the picture of good health. Of the one in ten pancreatic cancer patients surgeons can operate on, in six cases they are unable to remove the entire tumour. I was now in the ‘lucky’ four per cent. Hugely helpful was the fact that, even in the ward, I could keep working. If I was a teacher or employed in a bank, I would no doubt have been signed off for months.
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The offices of my TV production company are just down the road from UCLH, in Soho, so colleagues were able not just to visit, but to bring in scripts and DVDs of rough-edited programmes for me to work on in bed. On my return, I started a six-month course of chemotherapy at a neighbouring North London hospital, the Royal Free, designed to attack any rogue, post-operative cancer cells that may still have been whizzing around my system. Mercifully, there were few side effects. My hair thinned a little but not noticeably. I had terrible blisters, which made walking difficult at times, and handshakes could be embarrassing. But I was able to function pretty much as normal, which I’m sure was a major contribution to my rapid recovery, both physically and mentally.
In late November last year, I had a CT scan, and this, along with the results of blood tests, showed that the chemo appeared to have done its job and there was now no evidence of cancer. The consultant was beaming as she gave us the results. Go away and enjoy Christmas,’ she said, and we all laughed idiotically. I guess they spend a lot of time dishing out bad news in the oncology department. We’ll be monitoring you every three months with a scan and blood tests.
Outside the hospital, Sal and I hugged with relief. Again, the next few days had a surreal quality. I had been in the hands of doctors since early February – nearly ten months – so I had handed over responsibility for my life to them. Now I was on my own, feeling lost and lonely. I had coffee with an inspirational woman called Ali Stunt, a mother of two young boys, who had surgery for pancreatic cancer three years ago, aged 41.
Ali had experienced months of unexplained back pain, and was diagnosed only after a CT scan paid for by her private health insurance. My surgeon said that had I waited four weeks for the scan I would probably not be here today,’ she told me. Early diagnosis of this killer would help save so many lives. Ali went on to found a charity called Pancreatic Cancer Action to try to increase awareness among doctors and patients alike. She has become something of an expert. The general population need to know about it, the symptoms and the risk factors – smoking, obesity and hereditary links.
I am well aware there is a real risk of recurrence, but if you can get through the first two years, your chances of survival increase dramatically. Never has the cliche ‘take each day as it comes’ been more relevant. It has been a joy to return to normal life. I wake each morning feeling more ambitious and vigorous than ever. I have a job I cherish and a family, friends and a partner whom I love. All I have ever wanted is the chance to continue as before. If I can function, I can be happy.
Has it made me appreciate life more? There is no past, there is no future, so the saying goes, there is only now – and you can either seize the moment, or not. Island Parish is on BBC2 at 7. 30pm on Fridays, starting this week. This is a classic, text-book case of how doctors are taught pancreatic cancer shows itself.
Painless jaundice is what we call a ‘red flag’ for cancer and must be investigated immediately. Jaundice can also be caused by gallstones, but patients normally experience pain with this. Anyone with jaundice should see their GP straight away. Pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis generally, but the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of survival. No comments have so far been submitted.
Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. We are no longer accepting comments on this article. Intimidated by the thought of taming your garden for summer? Rochelle Humes powers through London Marathon as she completes her first 26. Gordon Ramsay’s twins Jack and Holly, 18, complete first London Marathon as he celebrates impressive 4. Channing Tatum hangs out with ‘Bachelor’ Arie Luyendyk Jr. Pippa’s timely baby news shifts spotlight from troubled father-in-law to his VERY different sons but she reach out to Vogue after wedding ban?
An oily secuder and a flirty heiress: This is REAL Victorian melodrama! I want to make sure I respond to it in the appropriate way! Will Meghan’s ‘something borrowed’ be from Diana? Rita Ora will be raising temperatures in Henley, Lionel Richie promises a mean time in Greenwich and Chris Evans revs up at Carfest. Please forward this error screen to 64. A password will be e-mailed to you. I wasted a couple of precious years at first because I bought, albeit without much enthusiasm, the costly medical model.
I spent the years until now struggling against this model. There is so much to talk about, that I’ll narrow the focus of this post to the perils of the diagnosis of schizophrenia. The original diagnosis of schizophrenia handed down by doctors who should have known better but didn’t bother to inform themselves, set our family up for needless suffering and prolonged my son’s psychosis. I can’t speak for my son, but I can tell you what the diagnosis did from my perspective. First of all, this particular diagnosis, an even more stigmatizing diagnosis than other mental health ones, initially killed any hope or belief that my son could get better.
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I was naive enough to think that the diagnosis was valid, like if you are told you have early stage cancer. I assumed there was some sort of science behind it. I didn’t challenge the diagnosis, although being told that my son would probably need drugs for life never set well with me. It hasn’t been subjected to diagnosis creep, unlike bipolar and depression. One reason for this is pretty obvious. I began to treat my son as if he were feeble minded.
No, not all the time, because I didn’t like hearing myself do this and I was uncomfortable treating him this way, but enough that he must have got the picture that there was no hope for him. There is a research study that shows why I stigmatized my own son. In 1997 Sheila Mehta of Auburn University conducted a fascinating study about whether the disease view of mental illness reduces stigma. This study examined the widely held belief that a disease view of mental disorder reduces stigma.
Behavioral and self-report measures were used to assess 55 male students’ treatment and attitudes toward another, whom they believed either to be a typical student or to have a history of mental disorder. The mental difficulties were characterized in either disease or psychosocial terms. When I wasn’t treating my son as if he were an idiot, perhaps my worried glances and tears sealed his fate for the time being. Not only was I worried about all the bizarre behavior, I constantly lectured him about the need to take his medication. I watched him down those pills. I often cried in front of him out of frustration mixed with fear.
Why, if he didn’t take those pills, he would be one of those non-compliant patients who we are told have worse outcomes! It was bad enough dealing with the aftershock of the diagnosis, but the drugs that came with the diagnosis added insult to injury. My son got fat, for a start. It pained me greatly to see him that way. We replaced his wardrobe several times.
The doctors seemed to imply that being fat was a small price to pay for sanity, but my son wasn’t really sane on the pills they insisted he take. Then there was the fancy day program that my son was enrolled in for two years. The psychopharmacologist who ran it said so. There seemed to be no way out for my son, because, after all, the doctors told us that schizophrenia was a chronic, disabling brain disease. My son left the day program as much a mystery to the doctors as when he entered.
So much for their belief that this illness can best be managed by professionals or that a program can succeed where individual solutions fail. I was only beginning to get the idea that a program like this is a self-serving platform on the profession’s part. I got involved with writing and blogging because I saw that there was a gap in the market to be filled. That gap needs to be filled by a holistic book written by a parent, because parents are often the people having the most influence over the choice of treatment. NAMI wouldn’t be where it is today if parents had refused to buy into the biochemical imbalance view of mental illness. The mistaken and unhappy notion that a man is an enduring unity is known to you.
It is also known to you that a man consists of a multitude of souls, of numerous selves. The separation of the unity of the personality into these numerous pieces passes for madness. Science has invented the name schizomania for it. The final chapter is to be determined by Chris. He’s twenty-eight, and even with my embracing a holistic approach, it’s been a lengthy process.
I do believe we could have shaved a few years off his recovery time if I hadn’t been blindsided by the diagnosis. This error of science has many unpleasant consequences, and the single advantage of simplifying the work of the state-appointed pastors and masters and saving them the labors of original thought. This is the art of life. Life is not a race past milestones. Life is a journey to the wonders of the universe.
The mind can take you there. Are Billion Dollar Settlements the New Normal? Noble, your local bookstore, and libraries. This is a secure SSL encrypted payment. Best regards to a mother and son, from another mother and son.
I am comforted to see this movement progress and build! Please keep on writing here and on your blog, sharing Chris’s story and your take on the overall topic is valuable to mothers and families everywhere. As a mother of sons who have, all of us, come through the psychiatric system I can identify with your journey. It has taken me to the end of myself and beyond. Heartbroken and back together again, over many years. I went to this meeting on Friday, of a relatively new, and some would say élitist, Danish organisation, a branch of WAPR, World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation.
A club of hot-shot bureaucrats and other theorists in the social and mental health sector. Thank you for sharing your story. What a great gift of hope you have given to people ensnared in the confusion and hopelessness of the mental health labyrinth. Your story will definitely save lives. I’m looking forward to the book. Big love to you and your family. But what if a young man is brought to a psychiatrist?
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We have certain expectations of wearers of the honorable cloak of Hippocrates, primarily that they will do something to restore health. Some years ago I walked through a psychiatrist’s door and faced the same risks. I came for help, because the things going on in my mind frightened me and made me want advice from an expert. I felt I was in serious danger of losing control of my emotions and I would make a fool of myself and destroy what little credibility I had with my family. Yes, I was the sensitive one that carried the generational burdens. Finally, in desperation, I asked the psychiatrist if he thought I was crazy.
No, he said soothingly, not really. You haven’t come here with any wild theories or tell me people are out to get you, stuff like that. A great light dawned on me. You mean I’m not crazy if I don’t act crazy?
I’m sure he went on to give me advice about not getting all upset about things, but all I remember is that. I wasn’t crazy if I didn’t act crazy. It was as simple as that. No matter what happened behind my eyes, I couldn’t let it make me act crazy. Not unless I wanted to end up in the looney bin. I thanked the psychiatrist politely and took the prescription he offered me, but never went back again.
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I did what he said: I didn’t act crazy, no matter what. And yes, it got bad, so bad that I finally had to go to the ER one night for a shot. I told them I had a terrible migraine, though the agony went much deeper than that and filled the whole world. But I had read enough about psychosis by then to suspect it would soon subside enough to be bearable, and it did. I went back to school, got an advanced degree, had a successful career, and retired a few years ago to enjoy my children, grandchildren and travel.
I’m afraid my story has a depressing moral: that we should teach our young men and women the risks of going to psychiatrists who deploy their dangerous potions and powers in such blissful ignorance. Consider the need for a psychiatrist with the same prudence needed in selecting a family doctor: don’t wait for an emergency. See if you can find one with a reputation for prescribing talk therapy and family communication before powerful drugs and institutionalization. I dislike speaking so harshly, but sooner or later the emperor’s nakedness has to be recognized, along with the priests’ rape of alter boys and psychiatrists’ abuse of their patients’ trust. Otherwise the lie goes on and on.