Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mental Illness?

The Gambler's Anonymous book says 'Compulsive gambling is an emotional problem.'

I used to find that very offensive.

It sounded to me like they were calling me 'mentally ill'....which I took exception to.

Then....I realized...that I really DO have 'issues' around my EMOTIONS....fear, anger, grief....and I said..."OHHHHHH it's an EMOTIONAL problem!"...NOT a 'mental illness....' ok...I get it.

but then....recently... I was talking to a (non-cg) girlfriend of mine who had just been put on anti-depressants by her primary care physician.

She was adamant about not wanting to take them.

The doctor encouraged her to try it...for four weeks...then they'd re-evaluate...just give it a go.

So she did...and she feels soooooooo much better.

So we were talking about it...she was asking me whether I take them...and how long I thought I'd need to....she is glad to have them now...but is anxious to be off of it asap.

I asked her...'why? do you have any side effects?'



I told her about my own my Mom died in 1996 I have been off and on them....the dr. prescribes them...I take them...I feel better...then I stop taking them.

I slowly begin to fell worse...but it never occurs to me that I should reconsider taking meds.

Eventually I get to the point where I need help....I see a dr., they prescribe anti-depressants...and I do the same thing over again.

and again

and again

and again.

I am finally at the point where I accept that....the chemicals in my brain are obviously out-of-whack...and if I don't take medication...I won't function as nicely as I do when I'm on it.

I don't plan to stop taking them again.


'Really?' she said.

'Doesn't it bother you that you NEED something to feel 'normal'?'

I said

why is it....that....if a dr. says to us...'your heart isn't working properly....or your cholesterol is high, blood pressure, blood sugar, your kidneys have problems'....we are UPSET...because we want to be HEALTHY...but....

those things do not EMBARRASS us.

our a physical organ.

sometimes our organs do not operate exactly as designed.

why is that shameful?

why do we think that we should be able to somehow control a PHYSICAL condition?

Philosophers have struggled for ages about the brain/mind thing....the brain being the physical organ and the mind being....our thoughts...emotions...who we are.

so yeah....if our brain isn't 'ok' then... the essence of who we are changes....and I guess THAT can be embarrassing...seems like we should be in control of who we are..what and how we think.

but sometimes I can't.

anyway....I was reading this morning and come across this statement:

Extreme cases of problem gambling may cross over into the realm of mental disorders. Pathological gambling was recognized as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM-III, but the criteria were significantly reworked based on large-scale studies and statistical methods for the DSM-IV. As defined by American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder that is a chronic and progressive mental illness.

I would imagine that doesn't apply to all compulsive gamblers.

I imagine....the possibility exists that...many people who had NORMAL brains before they started gambling....have somehow damaged that organ and it's ability to function normally by gambling compulsively for an extended period of time.

maybe....the damage is only temporary? and after some time of abstinence....the organ will again operate normally.

I know that my mind was far from normal when I was stuck in the cycle.

I'm not really sure why that article didn't offend me this morning....the thought of perhaps being 'mentally ill'.

I this point...the label really isn't important to way or the other...whether or not it's an emotional illness or a mental illness or a disease or an impulse control ME isn't really relevant....because....

I now know...what I must do to be OK....and I am doing it.

and THAT is what is important to me today.

Take care of you,

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