Jun 14 2014
I am very pleased to say that my book titled ‘An artist’s Creative Life with Bipolar Disorder” is finally out. Here is the link to order one or more copies: I would like to thank Victor Volkman, of Loving Healing Press , for publishing such book and I would also like to thank all of the people that have been part of this journey, a journey that has lasted ten years while I was struggling to help many people with mental ill health on the net. Here I mention a few: my wife Cheryl Zotti; Psychologist Bob Rich who has written wonderful self help books ; Victor Volkman of Loving Healing Press http://www.lhpress.com/ ; Dr Dean Cavanagh (GP); Psychologist Paul Corcoran; Psychiatrist Dr David Butler; Judy Wright; Earnest Dempsey; Rosemary Martin; Lewis Weir; Professor Geoffrey Samuel of Cardiff University ; Professor Trevor Waring of the University of Newcastle ; Professor Pat McGorry ; Psychologist Dr Anthony Kidman who has written a wonderful book for those with a mental disorder who would like to feel better by helping themselves and putting a little effort: ; and many others, too many to mention here. These mental health professionals are different in that they are aware that people with mental disorders can help themselves.
I would also like to thank the staff of Gosford Hospital (NSW Australia) for being so supportive and understanding and for helping my wife.
The only way I could understand mental disorders was to communicate with those who suffer, their care givers and sometimes their mental health professionals, trying to make sense of it all. It was also helpful that I suffer with Bipolar II disorder and that my wife suffers with Bipolar I disorder. I guess that this book that I have written has many messages that are not just mine but a summary of what many intelligent and creative people with mental disorders are saying. Here is what Judy wrote, to give an example:
“Alfredo, to answer your question, I’d say the most valuable thing I’ve learned is that mental illness doesn’t matter much in terms of who you are or your value as a person. It can certainly affect a relationship if left unaddressed but I admire anyone who tries to function in spite of it and recognizes when they need help. Accepting help is a sign of strength because in reality, all of us are interdependent on each other. You tell your story and it helps someone else…and so it goes. Acceptance comes with understanding.”
…and this is what I think of the book, what I feel that the main message is:
For the past 10 years I have been trying to understand and study mental disorders like Depression and Bipolar. How we treat people with mental disorders, and by “we” I mean the society, mental health professionals and sufferers alike, is something that interests me because I suffer with Bipolar II and because my wife also suffers with Bipolar I. I have been studying mental disorders for a very long time indeed and from this effort my book has emerged.
The book points to some disturbing truths about what is going on. And what is going on is that our society is basically telling people with mental disorders that they are damaged, that only anti-psychotics or anti-depressants can work to alleviate their problems. The great bulk of the mental health professionals (though there are a number of very caring and aware mental health professionals) look down on sufferers. They often believe that it is the experts who have all of the answers and sufferers are merely people who lack knowledge and who are often too handicapped by their mental disability to be able to help themselves. What is more alarming is that many people with mental disorders have bought into these ideas and now truly believe that they are damaged and that only medication can help.
For as long as pharmaceutical companies, many mental health professionals, and sufferers alike keep seeing mental disorders in this way, that there is no hope except to take medication, nothing much will change in our society. Medication has its values but it needs to be used responsibly and sensibly in the contest of a bio-psycho-social model of health. That is to ensure that sufferers have a stress free life, appropriate housing, a job whether part time or full time that suits their condition, a support group, an understanding government, and people around us who can provide support and care. Many of these things are missing in our world today. No amount of medication available will help a woman who takes anti psychotics or anti depressants drugs but who then goes back to a home of domestic violence and abuse. It is clear that the environment and the psychological well being of the sufferer are also as important, if not more so than medication alone.
For as long as the majority of mental health professionals fail to give proper importance to childhood traumatic experiences, to the sensitivities of the person and neglect to look into child abuse or mistreatment, nothing will change.
Our world is full of stressors and it is a world that is far from an ideal one. Money seems to rule over everything else and our real treasure, our planet, is in danger; indeed we are in danger of extinction unless we change our ways and stop sabotaging our life on Earth. This is a mad world we live in and I believe that there is no such thing as sane individuals, or mentally ill ones. We all have problems and all struggle each day. We also have the potential to help ourselves, no matter what our problems or afflictions are.
We can help those with mental disorders, but unless we stop telling them that only medication works and that they are permanently damaged and unable to live a fulfilling and reasonably happy life, nothing will change. Mental illness will go on and continue to get worse as numbers of people with mentally ill health increase. There is no doubt in my mind, after writing this book and communicating with thousands of sufferers from all over the world, that we are contributing to mental illness and even creating it each day. The moment that we realize that many people with mental disorders are special people who need support, help and encouragement to believe in themselves and their future, things will change for the better as people will begin to finally believe in themselves and help themselves towards a better life. We will be able to do the best we can with what we have. Our perspective on mental illness is all wrong and it certainly rarely leads to improvements, something that statistics have been telling us for a long time.
The only improvement is that people are becoming less and less prejudiced and this is something good. But the overall situation is worsening. We need to empower and support those with mental disorders and the government needs to do a lot more to truly support sufferers. Expecting them to work in a stigma loaded and prejudiced world is not the answer. We need jobs that are friendly to those with mental disorders and it is a fact that many may not be able to work. The welfare system needs to support those who are unable to hold full time jobs. Government need to do a lot more and it is a disgrace to see such neglect of our most vulnerable people.
To fix the problems we need to spend money in such a way that improvements are noted. Many mental health professionals know what to do and they’ve been screaming out for changes for a long while; there is a price to pay for solving the problems but the returns are worth it in the long run for to spend money today, in the right way, is to save billions in the future. And this is where governments fail because they are only interested in Band-Aid solutions and the next oncoming elections; alternatively, they fail to listen to those who have the right knowledge for appropriate change.
Most important interventions are: a) to create appropriate accommodation for homeless people with mental ill health; b) to create appropriate employment opportunities that consider the sufferers’ condition. In this sense we have a long way to go, but we haven’t really started to truly help people. Our focus is on money and material possessions not on the quality of life of the people and the planet and the importance of preserving nature. The world has truly gone mad
Get a free CD with 16 fabulous tracks for free, with the purchase of every book either paperback or eBook http://zotti.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-alfredos-journey