Get Involved

There are a countless number of things in this world you can get sick of.

  1. Politics.
  2. People.
  3. Liars.
  4. Pollution.
  5. People.
  6. Yourself.
  7. Aspertame in your soft drinks.
  8. Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, E.t.c
  9. Money
  10. People

Just to name a few.

You can choose to let those things impede the functionality of your life, you can choose to ignore those things, or you can choose to let their annoyance fuel your passion. I choose the latter.

That being said, let’s talk about the industry a bit. If you’ve been following me, you can probably sense a mental health rant coming. If you’re new, the quicker you learn the word “industry” to me relates 100% to the business that is the medical field, the easier it will be to decode what I’m saying. That being said:

pharmapsychiatry45rd6

I’m sick of reading statistics that state out of 170 people on the DSM committee, 95% of them have financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies.

I’m sick of reading statistics that state things like “ADHD” are on the rise.

I’m sick of reading personal stories of people who feel they have no control in how their treatment goes.

I’m sick of reading articles on mental health written by people who think “Schizophrenia” and any of the “serious mental illnesses” result in mass shootings.

I’m most disturbed when I read articles of those of us who struggle with our mental health sum up our lives according to symptoms.

This, for me, raised one important question: if this industry is supposed to be focused on us, if it’s supposed to be for us, about us . . . then where are we? 

'The doctor will see you as soon as he shrugs into his god suit.'Why are we sitting on the sidelines? Why are we stuck under this ruse that our doctors know more about us than we do? Why are we stuck under this burdening illusion that because we struggle a little more than the average person, we are limited to the amount we can contribute to anything?

Why are we so focused on what we can’t do, rather than what we can? It’s a question I think is overlooked much too often. It’s a question people like Temple Grandin raise and promote. If you don’t know her, she’s a professional with autism who promotes the idea of playing on Autistic Kid’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. That idea applies to anyone.

You can’t turn every weakness into a strength. And you don’t need to. Because it’s impossible to be perfect.

Those of us in the mental health community have many varied daily experiences. Some of us feel fine with calling ourselves mentally ill, some of us hate the term. Some of us work well with medication, some of us react badly to it, some of us refuse to take it whether or not it works. Some of us have had amazing experiences in psychiatric hospitals, some of us have had horrific experiences, some of us have never even been.

1_bethlem-gallery-750x400Some of us hear voices, some of us see things, many of us have been through traumatic experiences. Some of us can’t step outside of our door, some of us can’t stay inside alone. Some of us have to flick the light switch twenty times before we leave the room. Some of us have racing thoughts. Some of us are extremely creative. Some of us have above average intelligence. Some of us have one hobby that gives us ultimate comfort and therefore we’ve become masters at it.

But no matter what we’ve been through or what we’re good at or how we perceive ourselves, we have one thing in common: we all experience something different than your average person. And that is our advantage, not our disadvantage. 

At 15, the brain became one of my obsessions, and consequentially so did psychology. I memorized the anatomy of the organ, and listed all the chemical imbalance theories at the time. I memorized as much of the (then) DSM-IV as I could, listed every psychotropic drug known at the time, their class, what they were used for, their interactions with other medications. I still have the written lists. At 15, the one problem I saw in the industry was that we weren’t in it. We weren’t on DSM committees. We didn’t work for the APA. We weren’t nurses or doctors in psychiatric hospitals.

original

We. The actual mental health community. 

At 21, I’ve been meeting more and more people who also see this problem. And what I would like to do in my professional career, whenever I get there, is start dishing out that power back to us. Remember when I went to the IPS training? Remember how I was bombarded by each individual in the room, including the instructor, about why I wanted to be a psychiatrist? Remember how one woman even flat out said “I hate psychiatrists, I can’t stand them” in my group and refused to look at me? Remember how I had to explain myself completely before she warmed up to me?

It’s a question I get everywhere I go, including work.

Psychiatry didn’t attract me because of the money. It didn’t attract me because of the title. It attracted me because I saw an opportunity to slither my way into the system legally, rather than strap some AK47’s to my back, bust up into Merck and the APA, and the DSM committee and put some bullets through some bodies, which was my original plan.

We’re so dangerous. 

I get a lot of comments like “oh yeah, that’s cool. You’re not the first one to try this.”

The only difference between me and the others is I’m focused on pulling us out from under the rug. I want you involved in this, not just me. Because when I have that title hanging on the wall and I can sink into a leather chair behind a desk, I’m not going to forget where I came from or what I’ve been through.

10c73d2d0b8c87f2fbdfd412ad6c993d

I won’t be a physician. I won’t be a doctor. I won’t be a college graduate. I won’t be a psychiatrist. I’ll be another one of you. And my job isn’t to tell you what’s wrong with you and tell you your life will never be the same. At that point, I won’t even consider myself having a job to tell you anything at all. My want is to connect. Even though I am, admittedly, horrible at that. Because you’re a human and so am I, and where you’ve been I have as well.

I’ll never forget the things I’ve been learning in peer support or the experiences, good and bad, I’ve had with people. I’ll never not be involved in peer support, regardless of where I have to do my residency, regardless of whether my mentors think I’m sane or not. I could care less what someone who has never dealt with a serious mental state experience has to say.

In fact, I’ll be inclined to staple their mouth shut. Don’t talk shit about what you don’t know.

In 2012, this happened: click here.

In case you’re wondering, that’s where I work now. I don’t remember how I came across the article, it just kind of fell in my lap one day and I said hey, what the fuck, I work here.

I don’t just see peer respite houses as something to be as few and far between as they are now. I see it as a revolution in this industry. I see it as a subtle jab in the ribs at people like Alex Gorsky.

le-directeur-general-de-johnson-and-johnson-alex-gorsky-le-13-octobre-2015-a-new-brunswick-dans-le-new-jersey_5500029
*Shudders Uncontrollably*

My explanation of my discontent with Gorsky.

I see it as a way to show us we have much more power than we think. We experience things that can be terrifying, sickening, horrible, horribly amazing (#mania), confusing. We interpret things internally and externally differently and that’s valuable. We’re not just a lump of “disordered” people.

And I know it feels like I repeat the same thing over and over sometimes on this blog. That’s not to be redundant. That’s to keep the idea fresh in everyone’s mind who reads my blog. It’s not just about being “Sick”. It’s about learning who you are, how you think, and using those things to your advantage. It’s about sticking together. It’s about  realizing that if your treatment hasn’t been about you, that’s because it never was. It’s about realizing that needs to change. It’s about realizing that you are a key in helping us change that. 

I’ll leave you with six simple words from the #1 Independent rapper in the world: “Industry, get off your high horse”

 

How To Survive College

There are tons of articles on the internet giving you lists of endless strategies to survive the seemingly endless hell of college group projects, surveys, lectures, and anti-abortion rally meth heads who camp out in the quad with their six foot tall posters of aborted fetuses, enticing women and men alike to screech pro-choice ideals at the top of their lungs.

Everything those lists have told you is a lie.

o-graduation-facebook

College is a bubbling cauldron of exponential debt. It’s a place you go to enhance your nihilism. If you weren’t already a nihilist, it’s a place where you can easily become one. It’s where you hustle to in the morning with your baggy sweatpants and a cup of coffee so you can walk into class, lean your fist against your cheek, and catch those extra Z’s you wasted this morning trying to find your car keys. It’s where you can major in rigid thinking, overly-liberal thinking, and non-thinking all at once.

It’s where you withdrawal from a course life intervenes on, only to take it once more while simultaneously kicking yourself. It’s where you sit in that course and bang your head repeatedly against the desk until the professor notices out of the corner of his eye, but tentatively ignores it because you have an accommodations contract from the disabled students center.

It’s thought to be a place for thinkers, innovators; the next Steve Jobs, the next Albert Einstein, John Nash, Nikola Tesla . . .

. . . but it’s mostly a place for hippies, kids looking for an excuse not to work full time, people with rich parents, or people with sports scholarships.

richkids

It’s where you could get a perfect score on a paper for memorizing a concept, but only fifty percent for creating your own outside the box.

With that in mind, there is your first tip: Lower your expectations. 

  • This isn’t 387 B.C and college isn’t a Platonic Academy. Plato has nothing to do with it. There’s less “let’s discover the world/the ether/ the mind” and more “we did the discovering for you, now read it, learn it, memorize it”. There’s a small percentage that will take that knowledge and build on it. Most will recite it and manage to feel proud.
  • Most people in college have average intelligence. That’s a good thing. Because if everyone was smart, i’d feel like an idiot.
  • The more you expect, the more disappointed you’ll be when things don’t go your way: like when you realize your major is the epitome of horrid and you want to switch but now you have to go through a bunch of paperwork and university is not fucking happy with you at all.
  • Instead, take everything with a grain of salt. Take charge when you need to. Coast along when you can.

We all know how sickening disappointment can be. So instead of making a list over summer hyping yourself up about all the great things you’re going to do in college, make a list reminding yourself not to do that. That’s stupid. And only smart people go to college, remember?

If you have an incessant need to list, than write this fifty times on four sheets of paper:

No matter how easily I sailed through high school, college will not be the same.

That’s my second tip.

It’s not the work content, it’s the work load. Professors don’t care if you have two part time jobs, a child, and a social life. They don’t get paid enough to care. And if they have tenure than you’re shit out of luck.

farley-katz-tenure

3). Learn your limits and don’t overexert yourself. Think you can take seven courses in a single semester and make it out alive? You know what, go ahead, fuck it, I want to see you do it.

4) When you get a boring professor with an accent you can’t understand, restrain your urge to mock his accent loudly and/or strip off all your clothes and mount the person next to you because they keep sneaking glances down your shirt. Trust me, don’t do it. You’ll regret it. You know how you went to that party the night before your exam, woke up with a headache and puked on your desk in class? You remember that regret? Do you really want to feel that again?

5) It’s okay to not move the same speed as everyone else. If you start struggling and feel like everyone is zipping past you at the speed of intellectual light, that’s okay. Because someone next to them is zipping past them as well. And so on. Everyone moves at different paces and if you’re not perfect, that’s alright. Don’t swallow thirty Ritalin and expect it to turn you into a super human. If anything, get in the Ritalin underground dealing on your campus, especially if you go to Harvard or Yale or any place where people are pressured to be inhumanely perfect. You don’t need your degree to get rich then.

6) If you don’t like it, don’t go. The simplest tip of them all. Not everyone feels like they need to constrain their mind (or their time) to the few options college has to offer. It’s not impossible to be successful without a little piece of paper signed by someone who calls himself/herself a “dean”. I’ve heard of tons of people with doctorates working hours at McDonalds now. College degrees don’t guarantee a good life. No college degree doesn’t guarantee homelessness. It’s all about how you maneuver life to your advantage.

7) Last but not least: if you can find a way not to pay for room and board, TAKE IT. LIVE OFF CAMPUS. Often paying for a dorm is the second most expensive thing you’ll waste your grant/loan/scholarship money on. If you can rent a room in a house or live with family or parents or whoever, do it. Trust.

8) Actually last but not least: if you are taking math, and math is not your greatest subject, I would suggest always doing the homework directly after class. I would also suggest doing some right before you go to sleep. The difference will astound you.

I once struggled on a problem for ten hours. Finally I said fuck it, threw my book across the room, resisted the urge to take a shit on my homework page, and went to sleep. I had a wonderful dream of the problem, how to work it, and the solution. Woke up and, for a second at least, declared myself a genius.

But actually, mathematical dreams are not too unheard of. It happens to many people, especially mathematicians. You might not care whether you know math, but apparently your subconscious does enough to work on it throughout the night.

If all else fails, flip off your campus, walk away, and give your life up to nature. What difference does it all make anyway?

df038df4a54e0a4b3657bd9630cb85cd