There are a countless number of things in this world you can get sick of.
- Aspertame in your soft drinks.
- Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, E.t.c
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:
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?
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.
Some 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.
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.
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.
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”