I can’t

I hadn’t been blog posting rants or personal posts for quite some time now, because I was actually partially adulting.

No, I wasn’t adulting, I was simply coasting through the adult world for a brief period of time. As someone who dislikes most medication, and can’t ever seem to agree with one or the other, Effexor XR did wonders for my mood or whatever hole I was stuck in previously. I could my emotions again, and work through them rather then get entirely overwhelmed by them. It was a stabilizing moment in my life, now gone.

I got eight hours of sleep. Now I’m back to getting whatever the fuck THIS is. This 5:34 a.m clusterfuck of thoughts and no sleep.

The withdrawal, I will say, is fucking terrifying. At least, for me it was. I had to lay in bed for a couple days because every time I stood up to walk, the world tipped on its side and a shockwave ran from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I’m still getting the shockwave senstation a bit, and that’s convinced me 2016 is going to do what it does best, and kill the fuck out of me.

My head is killing me. The headaches were another bad withdrawal symptom. I got so dizzy and my head hurt so bad I was immobilized and crying for a good hour or two. At least I’ve got my kitten sleeping on my shoulder.

Because tonight the thoughts are going, going, going, gone into fucking outerspace. I can’t tell what I’m thinking half the time. I described it to someone as having a head full of thoughts crashing into each other–not racing thoughts, just a bunch of them–and because they crashed into each other so quickly, I can only capture snippets of what they want to say. So the conversation I had with this person consisted of me blurting as many snippets as I could to try and convey how I felt. I don’t think it worked. Shit got weird.

I’ve been away from this side of my brain, or at least this intensity of this side of my brain, for a good couple months. And now, because health insurance costs want to shove a lead pipe up my ass, I’m back to where I started. Too bad. I was making progress.

But, considering the withdrawals, to be honest, I wouldn’t want to stay any longer than a couple months on that shit. With the way my body reacted, me being on it for a year would get me stuck on it for life. And I’m not about that bullshit.

The emotions are all haywire again. I felt it the instant I woke up this afternoon and rushed through twenty emotions at once and confused myself so badly I forgot to eat. This was my problem before. My head gets so muddied up with random thoughts, anxieties, paranoias, pains, that I forget to do basic things like eating or I just don’t have the energy to take a shower or go out and buy necessary items. If I lived on my own, I wouldn’t survive more than a week.

That’s what impressed me about Effexor. It’s labeled as an Anti-depressant, and it sure did give me some energy back, but wholly hell were the thoughts calmed to a dull roar. I wasn’t so quick to convince myself of whatever it was I was going to type here because I type to slow for the thoughts in my brain. And I type pretty damn fast, ya’ll.

My plan going forward is to go talk to the dreaded county office. They can help set me up with Medi-cal. At least I can get healthcare that way. My hope was to get into system.

To get into “The System” you need to be labeled “severely mentally ill”, three words I never put together in one sentence. Ugg. It makes me cringe.

The truth is, I don’t have the capability, or the skills, to live independently. It doesn’t mean I can’t learn, it just means at this moment I don’t possess them. I get lost in my head and shit gets weird and I don’t leave this room, I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t do anything really but think and think and think. At this point it’s not even thinking really, more so as such my brain blurting random shit and then attempting to foil a theory from it, failing, then trying all over again.

Is that “severe” if I have an on-call position and a record of going to college? Probably fucking not. Severe means you’re in the streets babbling about the bastards you know and the hero you hate and scrubbing your feet with a dead squirrel because it contains the blood of Egor, the giant in the clouds who tells you to punch the kid on the red bicycle and shove a pine cone in the ass of the next skunk you see.

Sorry.

See, I babble about that kind of shit in my head or I babble about it out loud in the shower. I’ve only slipped up a couple times in public, and I yanked my dumbass self back down and shut my mouth. You can’t be seen loosing it in public man–reputation forever tarnished.

People don’t hear me talk to myself, or the images that get put in my head, or any voice I may hear, because, well, fuck me, I’m aware of stigma. Well, fuck me County, let me just disregard everything I’ve taught myself and let the crazy out JUST FOR YOU, let me do it JUST FOR YOU.

And they’ll still shove a steel pipe up my ass and kick me out their office.

I’ll repeat, I have not slept. I am tired. My teeth hurt from clenching them. The only reason I care so much about being part of “The System” is because you’re assigned a team dedicated to help you get along. They’re there whenever you need them. Sure, I could also use where I work as a support force, but the difference is I have to initiate it, and that’s something I’ve never been able to do. This “team” would be “assigned”. And as you all know, I prefer structured things over willy-nilly things.

So whatever. First things first–get Medi-cal insurance. Second: tell medi-cal I’m crazy. Third: take over the world. Fourth: finally, for once in my fucking life, actually get the services I need because I rule the fucking world, and if they don’t do as I say, I’ll just blast them away with the laser hidden in my third eye.

Now, I’m going to go ruminate on the third eye, all the powers it contains, and try to unleash Pandora’s box on the world. Cool.

THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE SLEEP TO ME.

 

Fact, Fiction, or Something Else?

Religion confusion

Let’s talk about beliefs.

Respectfully.

As if that’s something that could ever happen. Not in this PC Principal world.

Let’s all get our laughs out and then let’s get back to being at least a tiny bit serious here, people. I get that everyone’s freaking out because Nostradamus apparently predicted Trump and economic downfall and sequentially the end of humanity, love, reality, and sanity in 2017–not quite sure if sanity even existed in the first place–and I get that everyone is terrified because 2016 seems to be throwing names into a hat, plucking them out, then squashing them to death day by day. I get that someone set up a gofundme account to keep the deathly hands of 2016 away from Betty White’s neck.

BUT.

Let’s be fucking serious here. Fuck’s sake. You’re all crazy. All of you. Coming from someone who is also very, very, VERY crazy, and very, very, VERY proud of it, that’s probably not saying much.

I believe I’m being followed by demons. You believe an angel saved your son from drowning. Some people call you crazy, some people call me crazy. We’re on an even ground here. Let’s shake hands and agree not to argue. 

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If there’s one thing that irks me, it’s this weird, diabolical concept that one belief exists superior to another. In the past, I had many friends who were Christians. I had some Buddhist, Atheist, Jewish, Catholic, friends. I grew up in a house that regurgitated the word of God without really understanding what the words were saying, and as a result I found Taoism and am more inclined to find spiritual connection in my native american ancestry. That doesn’t mean I’m a heathen and dislike God. So if that was going to be your comment, stop typing and walk away from your computer slowly.

Because, if you know anything about religion, you’ll know the majority of them believe heavily in a creator of the universe. Even science has developed the Cosmic Mind. So we can all agree that we believe something, someone, or some kind of entity (whether that be some spooky, conscious matter bursting into existence out of nowhere or ethereal force or intelligent spirit) created the universe. Look at that. Something to agree on. So why can’t we just stop there?

I feel people are inclined to believe that their belief is correct not because it is factually correct, but because they believe it. It’s like some weird ego boost. Because what they believe has to be right. Perhaps they’re not meaning to be this way on purpose, in fact most religious people I meet and speak with are very opening minded. They believe what they believe, they are proud of it, but they welcome other’s beliefs too. They don’t sit out on the street corner like the morons over here, protesting a mosque in development.

FACT: you don’t have to agree with someone to respect them.

FACT: you don’t have to undermine other’s believes to keep the faith in your belief alive.

FACT: Regardless of what you believe, we are a tiny amount of people on a tiny planet in the middle of a universe larger than our mind can comprehend.

QUESTION: Why waste all this time and all this life shooting missiles, debating, and ruining other’s happiness for the sake of a belief that COULD very well die with you? With all of us, in the end?

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So when someone comes up to me on the street babbling things that could be a result of an altered state of mind, or a mental struggle, or a belief system, or a drug, I don’t discount them on any words they speak. Not because I believe what they’re saying, but because they are saying it and I don’t have the right as another fellow human being to label them as damned, disgusting, insane, stupid, or any other negative connotation to those words.

 

I understand certain religions have doctrines on how you’re supposed to live, and I respect that. Just don’t be a dick about it.

You all know me pretty well by now: I’m very blunt and, at times, emotionally inconsiderate. Sometimes that works to my advantage, others times not to much.

At eleven, I had a friend–SHOCKING, I know, it gets better–and this friend came from a devoted Christian family. I went to church with her. One day, I got saved.

Saved is the term they use to describe being a new believer and follower of Jesus Christ. You accept Him into your heart, essentially. Some will say I was brainwashed: I was not. I was not your average eleven year old, I had a very clear understanding of things around me. I’ve spent the majority of my life with my mouth shut, observing. But, I was not like these other Christians. I was not a follower, as they were, and I wasn’t convinced I believed in Jesus Christ, either.

top-20-spiritualWhat I had always been sure of, as a child, was my spiritual connection to the universe itself. Whether some see that as God, or enlightenment, or an endless list of Gods and Goddesses mattered not to me. So I took part in this saving because of the spiritual value, not the religious aspect.

As a result, I acquired this book from them called a “New Believers” bible. I found it the other day after about ten years of not seeing it. And on page 973, there is a page called “Aren’t other religions just as good as Christianity?”

And that disturbs me. Because it’s putting a spiritual connection one has with whatever their belief is on a pedestal. It becomes less about spirituality and more about superiority. More about this thing people seem to call “Truth” . . . without ever really defining what truth is.

The page goes on to talk about Buddhism and Muslims. They don’t degrade the religions, but they don’t give them justice either. They say, on the subject of Salvation, that “Buddists believe salvation is by self effort only. Hindus believe you achieve salvation by devotion, works and self control. Muslims believe that people earn their own salvation and pay for their own sins.” They go on to say “Christians believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins. If people turn from their sins and follow Jesus, they can be forgiven and have the hope of being with Jesus in Heaven”.

I copied that all verbatim. I see no problem with self effort for salvation. I see no problem with achieving salvation by devotion and self control, or earning salvation and owning up to their own sins. None of that seems to be a big deal to me. Why is it to everyone else? Is this really the kind of stuff we’re arguing over?

All these philosophies and religions have wonderful values and teachings, but rather than think about the messages and gain a sense of spiritual calmness from them, we like to nit-pick and claim our set of values is higher than those other sets of equally fine values.

I would say, in response to this book, that there are no religions as good as Christianity, because Christianity isn’t good. No religion is good, no religion is bad. It all just simply IS.

And that’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s just a thing.

I feel for those stuck in the fire of the religious wars across seas. And I feel worse for those not in the war who look down on those in the war. In fact, I feel bad for every person who thinks any portion of man, including thoughts, including beliefs, feelings, writings, teachings, are any kind of superior at all. That’s what I call delusional.

A Burden Shared Is A Burden Halved

There are days where giving up doesn’t feel like an option, but instead feels like an obligation. These days it feels as if the grey overcast encases not the city, but just myself, my individual body, in a soft coffin of my own, inanimate despair. Through the fog I can see others, I can hear others, but I can never reach them, I can’t touch them, and even if I could, I wouldn’t be sure how to. These days are boil over into nights which simmer into more days.

Today was one of those days.

Happy Holidays.

.

. .

. . .

I could have ended the post there, and I would have, had my night ended differently. Many of you already know my struggles with depression, as many of you have your own struggles with it. Welcome to the club, we have cookies.

I’ve been on a steady dosage of Effexor XR, which returned my energy to me. I pay out of pocket for it, as well as my psychiatry appointments, and since my psychiatrist decided to raise her prices tremendously high, and since I know she gets kickbacks for each prescription she writes, and since the cost of the medication would run over a hundred dollars a month, I’ve decided I can’t do it anymore, not until I get health insurance. So, I’ve run out of pills and have been struggling with the withdrawal.

I’ve heard this is one of the hardest drugs to come off of. I’ve only been on it for four months, perhaps three weeks at a dosage of 150 mg, and I am swayed by how shitty this experience is. The dizzy spells, the hot flashes, the head aches, the tremors, the brain zaps, all of it.

I’ve steadily been more depressed. I awoke this morning in tears, and remained so. My kitten came up to me, pawed away my tears, and licked my cheek as if to say “it’s okay”. The phone rings and I get called into work as a late notice. They could find no more on-call staff, and I was the last option they had. I went in because I thought maybe it would be good for me. It was.

A woman tonight, who had had a very bumpy entrance a few days before, asked to speak with me. She said she was happy I was there. I smiled. She began crying. And crying. And crying. I would never disclose personal information of one of our guests, that’s just unethical, but the jist of her message was that she’d never been surrounded by people who could be this kind, this gentle. She’d never known she had peers. She’d never been so understood, so part of a community like ours. She said we were all ourselves here. And I agreed: we certainly were.

It’s not easy to be yourself. It’s even harder when people place a stereotype on you because of a mental health struggle. We agreed all of it was a journey.

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She was overwhelmed with the shock. In that, we shared much in common. I had felt the same my first day at this place; the day of my interview. I was terrified of the kindness, it freaked me the hell out. Being told that these strangers were here to support me, that they understood, honestly left me stumbling down the stairs of the house back to my car like I’d been clocked in the temple by a fucking bear’s claw.

We talked for a half an hour or so. We shared stories and views. She couldn’t have known that half of the day I’d had to stop and bend down to stop myself from being dizzy. She couldn’t have known that half of the day while I was having a random conversation with my coworker, I was also listening to random voices echoing out of no where telling me equally random bullshit. She couldn’t known that that entire day I’d been horribly depressed.

Now, if there’s one thing I know about antidepressants, it’s that when you stop them, you become much more depressed. It messes with the chemicals in your brain after all.

So what this tells me is that conversation, connection, this thing we call “peer support” has more of an influence on the chemicals of our brain than some of the people in psychiatry would care to admit, or would care to research.

To be clear, I’ve never had a conversation ever, ever, pull me from a depression. I’ve been fighting urges to finish this shit, kill myself, for the past week, ever since I had to drop from 150 mg to basically nothing. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my depressions dive swiftly, and deeply.

I will remember this conversation for the rest of my life. I will cherish it for the rest of my life. Because in that moment, in that brief amount of time, one woman realized she didn’t have to keep anything inside, she realized she didn’t have to hide herself, she realized she could be happy with who she was and I realized, once and for all, that I’m not insane. I realized that this pain that haunts me can be shared, and not to burden someone else, not to look for a solution, which everyone tries to give like they’re fucking Mother Theresa and knows everything there is to know about mental health, but to connect. I realized that I need to reach out.

That’s my goal. Her goal is to learn to be happy with herself. My goal is to learn to reach out and trust, regardless of the stupid excuses I make for why I don’t talk to people. I do have trouble expressing myself verbally, I can’t follow conversation, and it makes me feel dumb. But I’ve been using those struggles as an excuse not to ever talk. I’ve been using them as excuses so I can stay prideful and keep that weird, warped mindset that because I’m a peer counselor and have struggled with my mental health for longer than I can remember, I shouldn’t struggle anymore.

I shouldn’t be the one talking to myself.

I shouldn’t feel depressed.

I shouldn’t be anxious.

And most of all, I shouldn’t feel embarrassed to talk about all of the above and more because I preach self confidence and I believe fully that these things people call mental disorders, these things I call experiences, are just a different perspective and integration of life rather than the result of a “broken” or “sick” brain.

I’m not supposed to feel embarrassed.

But I do. A lot. That fuels the anxiety, so I tell no one about anything because I’m terrified of their reaction, even people who have been through similar things. 

It’s taken a long time just to admit THAT, for fuck’s sake.

This is going to be a long fucking journey.

Thanks for letting me vent, blogsphere.

The Tao (Pt. 1)

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We get caught up, often, in the material part of the world, the part of the world that’s surface-level compared to what some would call “The Truth”. There are many truths for many people in the forms of religions, philosophies, anarchists, e.t.c. I’m not one who could consciously say any belief of anyone else is false, wrong, or ignorant. Everyone handles the struggles of life differently and that constancy will never change.

As for me, I don’t much affiliate with any religious preference, although I many teaching from many different religious texts, and I don’t much claim to be a philosopher with any set belief, although I’m entertained deeply by some western philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche. I’m not one to claim science over God, gods, deities, e.t.c, either.

I’m spiritually connected to the parts of my indigenous culture I’ve been able to learn about. I’m also engrossed heavily with Taoism (known as Daoism, or dào jiào, more correctly). For this article I’ll refer to it as Taoism and “The Tao”, because it’s what I’ve noticed a lot of people are more familiar with.

For those who aren’t aware, Taoism is one philosophy indigenous to China (6th century B.C, Laozi). Some call it a religion, but I’m more inclined to consider it a philosophy; there is no set creator like in Christian or Catholic religions. Although the cosmos and The Tao are the universe and the creation of, neither are worshiped.

First and foremost, let’s consider The Sage, as this understanding encompasses the majority of what the beliefs surround. Essentially, this is someone who is in completely harmony with her surroundings, in their environment as well as in the universe. What does this mean? Briefly, it means this person has gained a wisdom extending beyond intellect and instead enriched with an intuitive understanding of life.

“Rank and Reward make no appeal to her. Disgrace and shame do not deter her. She is not always looking for right and wrong. The world is ruled by letting things take their course”.

–Chang Tzui

We’re all capable of embodying these characteristics because they are all parts of our humanity.

As a way express and embody this, Toaism is birthed. The Tao is considered “the way” the-secret-book-cover-250x357or “the path”. It’s how we perceive and interact with the world around us, and how we interpret that reality influences our path of action. Do you all know that book “The Secret”? This book? They’re putting a really westernized twist on this philosophy of The Tao. 

The most important thing to understand, in my mind’s view, is that all of life, every manifestation of life, is part of this whole that is inseparable, an interconnected organic unity from The Tao itself. Life’s forces are attracted to balance because it’s their nature to do so. Sound familiar? It should; it’s pretty damn similar to the basis of The Law of Inertia, one of Newton’s three law’s of motion–an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by some unbalancing force. Essentially, it’s this “natural tendency” for things to say in the state they are in, unless they’re disturbed.

How can relate this to ourselves and the Universe? Well, we have a couple choices as humans, and one choice is to follow this “Way”, and “go with the flow” as you will, ot we can choose to do the opposite and remain disconnected from life.

As someone with indigenous American roots, this speaks volumes to me. My ancestors lived a life conducive with nature, with the cosmos, not one which ruled the land and claimed the Earth as “ours”. There was violence, there was hierarchy, yes, but with nature they were one and connected to life.

7030828-3d-yin-yangYin-Yang is also important to talk about here. This is the principal of change and harmony. They’re primal energies, not opposites as many think. They’re complimentary to each other: in other words, Yin creates Yang and Yang creates Yin. You can only know pain because there is happiness. You can only know good because there is evil.

This leads to the conclusion that one shouldn’t ever get intertwined in contradictions like right and wrong, to choose one over the other. Instead, we should only recognize their relatedness.

How can we relate this to ourselves? Well, how often do we find ourselves, especially those of you who are my mental health peers, picking at ourselves over parts of us we dislike, or disowning parts of ourselves? That’s fighting against the natural balance of things. In other words, although times are tough now, every force in life, including that which lies within us, strives for balance and we can’t achieve that balance within ourselves by fighting what must happen. If that means a shitty period in life, a horrible mental break down, or manic episode or days upon months upon years of hearing voices or anxiety or depression, than what’s what it means.

It’s not giving in. It’s recognizing that this reality is here, and to try and eradicate it would be like trying to erase a negative current from electricity just because it isn’t positive. Eradication is not balance. That’s like removing your left eye and then wondering why you can’t see out of it anymore.

There are two other areas I would like to speak of, the “Te”, which is the principal of inner nature, and the Wu-Wei principal of “non-doing”, but I’ll save that for a different post. As of now, I’d like to share two translations I found in a book at work, coupled with the Chinese writings of each.

“In the pursuit of learning, everyday something is acquired.

In the pursuit of Tao, everyday something is dropped.

Less and less is done,

until non-action is achieved.

When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.

It cannot be ruled by interfering.”

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“The beginning of the universe

Is the mother of all things.

Knowing the mother, one also knows the sons.

Knowing the sons, yet remaining in touch with the mother,

brings freedom from the fear of death.

Keep your mouth shut,

Guard the senses,

And life is ever full.

Open your mouth,

Always be busy,

And life is beyond hope.

Seeing the small is insight,

Yielding to force is strength.

Using the outer light, return to insight

And in this way be saved from harm.

This is learning constancy.”

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Anyone?

I’ve a question for all of you out there who are fellow sufferers of what is commonly called “intrusive thoughts”. In fact, I have several questions.

What I hear most commonly around intrusive thoughts is their connection to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. From my understanding, on a clinical standpoint, those intrusive thoughts are usually repeated and have a resulting compulsion. Correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t have any real connection personally to OCD, so if the experience is completely different please feel free to blast me in the comments below.

Or just politely explain it. Whichever you prefer. The last time I was offended by someone’s comment on the internet, T-Rex’s roamed the earth. And yes, I’m that old. No wrinkles. Want the secret to my everlasting youth? Stay turned until the end of this article.

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What was I talking about?

Intrusive thoughts. Yes. Yes. Another way I’ve heard them described is thoughts that come out of no where and invade your brain space and fill it up until it feels like it’s about to burst. Usually that get’s explained by someone’s anxiety and worries or brought on by stress.

I’ve experienced intrusive-like thoughts throughout the majority of my life, as well as intrusive images? Does anyone else go through that? Most of the images I see either appear in front of my eyes or on the back of my eyelids when I blink or close my eyes. They’re not pleasant. Usually gruesome images of demon babies, demons, mangled corpses, skeletons, e.t.c. I don’t know where the depictions are coming from?

(# Government satellites circling the earth transmitting messages to my brain).

Anyway, most people’s intrusive thoughts are spoken with the dialect and accent of the voice in their head–you know, the little guy who chills with you everywhere, who you hear-think when you’re reading a book silently, the one school helped you develop by forcing you to read silently rather than out loud. Mine have never been in that voice. Anyone else experience this?

Mine have developed into other people’s voices, that’s how I can distinguish the thoughts provoked my anxiety (in my own voice) and the ones that seemingly develop from thin air (in other voices).

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, because I’ve been reading more and more posts about anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, and voices. I believe these are a result of stress and different anxieties, but are expressed as something completely unrelated.

For example, when I first got my kitten, I posted all the lovely pictures of her and how much fun she is. I did not mention that as I watched her play on the ground, this thought person told me I should snap her neck. I should step on her. I should throw her in front of a car.

I’m used to having stupid thoughts about stupid things in some other stupid voice. I might be thought-told to murder someone or run over a biker while I’m driving, maybe even something as disturbing as violating a child.

They’re not repeated thoughts. They don’t make me avoid things. Compulsions don’t result. I don’t “worry” constantly I’ll become a murderer, because I’ve always been away of these thought-voices, I know what they suggest are pretty dumb and vile. They come and they go and I move on. Usually I’ll just remove myself from whatever situation I’m in (i.e, leave the room my kitten is in) and do something else.

My problem is finding someone else who totally gets what I’m saying. Someone who knows what I mean when I say “thought-voice”, in that it’s internal dialogue not in my “brain-voice”. I usually tell them to shut up if they start showing me images/memories I don’t want to see, or curse me out, e.t.c. It’s like there’s two other people living inside of my brain.

Sometimes it’s not frequent. Sometimes it’s very frequent. Sometimes I feel a little distant from things and once my brain settles down I feel like I’ve just woken up from a coma or something. Everything is clear again. I have a hard time remembering what went on in the last few days or weeks. I’ll remember things, but not well I guess I should say. What I remember very well is the feeling of being distant.

Can anyone relate? Leave a comment or email me if you don’t like personal things in a comment section.

For now, I’ll just go with my Government theory: they’re zapping our brains with specific plots of theirs, so that we develop into mass murders and then get sent to prison and then make millions of dollars for the prisons, e.t.c, e.t.c. And I’m a test subject. Cool.

Oh yeah, I haven’t developed wrinkles because I’m immortal. So, just get some immortality and you’ll be fine.

The Treatment of Us

Opportunities are often snatched from chaos. They don’t drift by idly. They come as a result of coincidence often, of hard work, of belief. Sometimes they come to you because they were meant to come to you. Never leave any stone un-turned.

I’ve been amazed this past few months where much of my writing has taken me. It’s increasingly won scholarships and the recognition of professors, professionals, and magazines. Much of what I write about surrounds mental health, as you all know, and because of that I’ve run into many road blocks.

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I started a blog as a journal. As I found my voice I realized, as the comments rolled in, that my ideas surrounding mental health aren’t typical. I realized that peer support wasn’t something many could put as much faith into as I. I realized that medication and pharmaceutical companies were things many consumers of mental health were things they saw as requirement rather than option–and I completely respected that. I myself have been on and off medication, and as of now I’m on medication again. There’s nothing shameful about that.

What has bothered me is the lack of choice people realize they have. What has bothered me the most is the cold shoulder I’ve been given by many fellow consumers. And while I absolutely respect their point of view, as I at one point believed the same, I can’t help but grow frustrated that those mental health writers in complete support of the medical model, of the ideals that mental disorders are 100% a chemical balance, that we are people who are “ill” and “sick”, get more of a voice out to the mental health community than those of us spreading a different message.

I grow frustrated that my ideas and I are treated as an outcast because we’re not preaching subservience to the portion of mental health treatment run by corporations, by money, and by greed.

What is interesting is that the evidence is very, very clear. Peer programs, when they first began, showed extreme promise. The idea was created for people experiencing “first break” psychosis. It eventually developed into something to aide those with a schizophrenia diagnosis to stay out of psychiatric hospitals, to live independently, and to learn how to cope with experiences like voices. Upwards of 70% (or more), after they went through the peer programs and moved on in their life never fell into the hands of a psychiatric hospital again. Some never needed psychiatric medication again.

Let’s compare that to recent pharmaceutical research, where maybe 174 people in a clinical trial lasting six weeks meant to represent the entirety of a population that would be taking a medication for possibly years, found that there was hardly a significant difference between the placebo pill, an older medication, and the new medication. Those findings are tossed off somewhere in the research lab while the company developing the pill tells the researchers to advertise the drug towards a specific population and say it helps with a specific problem.

The paper is published in a scientific journal without the reject papers. That, my friends, is against the law and the code of honor of research.

And when those reject papers are found and wrote about (there are articles about it across the internet), not many hear about it because the companies settle out of court and get off with a slap on the wrist.

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Everything about mental health consumers, our health, and our livelihood is done without us. So if that’s the kind of care you want to promote on your websites, if that’s the kind of care you want to promote as a mental health writer, go right ahead. I’m not afraid to let go of a writing position or a chance to do a guest article if I’m required to mold to something I don’t believe in.

When I first acquired my peer support position and was dazzled by what I saw, I searched the internet for information. I found several articles about similar programs, and was astounded at the difference and impact respites and peer programs have done–things you never hear about unless you search for it. Things not published on websites who claim to give all kinds of information on mental health and different treatments.

One writer said, as a respect to peer programs:

Dream Two? When all people are able to set aside their need to label and diagnose another human being in order to understand “what’s wrong,” and instead sit at a kitchen table to find out “what happened,” and share stories. This is my dream of what “mental health” will look like one day.

–Yana Jacobs

Written by a woman who is the Senior program officer with the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.

Like it or not, change is coming. You can hold on to the old models all you like. You can feed into bullshit all you want. I personally don’t care what medication someone takes. I don’t care what their diagnosis is. I don’t care how many times they’ve been hospitalized. All I care about is who they are as a human being. I care about their story, where they came from, what they’ve been through. I care about what they have to say and how they express it.

You could write countless “list articles” about steps to “recovery”, or why you’re still “sick” on your medication. You can advocate compliance with the old system all you want. But you’re only perpetuating the idea that we’re all at the mercy of our “illness”, even when you’re trying to put out the most positive message you can. 

I’ve been blessed to have a lot of writing opportunities coming my way. Thank you, Thought Catalog. Thank you to my professor who ran after me in the rain to talk to me about my writing. Thank you to my blog followers who’ve kept me going for over a year now. Thank you to the people who’ve asked me to write an article for their websites. Thank you to the people who email me and ask me questions about all of this. Thank You IPS. Thank you to Second Story Peer Respite for showing me all you have, because without them none of this would be a reality right now.

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And thank you, most of all, to everyone who thinks I’m absolutely insane. You’re pushing me to fight harder to get this message known.

2016 Evaluated

I feel as though I haven’t done a random post in a while and as such have decided tonight shall be the night to put a bit of personal spice back into this internet journal someone coined a “blog”. Although it is not the last day of December, I’d like to reflect on this past year and tentatively avoid political ground for obvious reasons.

There have been a lot of changes this 2016 year. Marijuana was finally legalized in California (there’s goes my promise of political absence, I’m so sorry), in my town Porn producers are now required to provide and enforce their actors and actresses wear adequate protection, i.e condoms. Stores now advertise “Gluten Free” tomatoes.

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January of this year, I acquired a 9-5 that wasn’t 9-5, but all different scheduled hours. The first job I had since 2013. It required gigabytes upon gigabytes of organic brain memory to run monetary procedures for an amusement park. I got a chance to hold and carry a suitcase of twenty thousand dollars to the top floor and across the street with a security guard puffing behind me.

That job ended a few months later.

I experienced a psychiatric hospital for the first time. Curiously enough, that was the same time I experienced a boiling rage ravenous enough to turn all surrounding towns into imitations of Pompeii. Hmm. Odd.

Jack In The Box food poisoned me for ten days; my first experience with that sickness. A panic attack sent me to the E.R that swiftly prompted the doctors and nurses to interrogate me about suspected meth use. No evidence of meth use was found. Hmm. Also odd.

I learned that it’s best to let stupid people be stupid, and fight the urge to constantly reveal their stupidity to them, as stupid people are rarely capable of comprehending their own stupidity.

ips-logo-reduced1In May, I did a training in Intentional Peer Support. It taught me how to communicate in a way that focused on the other person’s thoughts and experiences rather than my own, particularly in confrontation. It taught me how to listen rather than blurt facts or potential solutions as I usually do. It taught me to listen to what people’s voices said rather than get blind sighted by a label like schizophrenia and ignore the person entirely.

In June, I started my peer counselor position at Second Story peer respite. I went in not expecting anything too grand and within a day saw many grand things. I saw healing in process: physical, mental, spiritual healing. I saw community. I saw hope. After growing up in a house with a warped definition of the word “respect”, I finally saw real respect. I saw trust and honesty. It startled me and I didn’t know how to respond. In fact, I got quite anxious and even laughed a few times in my head at the kindness.

I also saw the beginnings of a mental health revolution. I saw an opposition to the ideals of the Medical Model that weren’t extremist points of view.  I remain with that position to this date: the longest job I’ve ever held. I will be eternally grateful to them and it’s a shame my behavior and mannerisms aren’t as emotionally expressive as my writing.

in a few days, I’ll have an article published on Thought Catalog. Wondrous. 

I got a kitten. She’s hilarious. She grips onto things with her front paws and manically kicks at them with her back feet. When surprised or unsure, she emits a noise like a bird call. I got her from a shelter. When she saw me, she ran and slammed into the glass of her kennel, then proceeded to run around, jump, and slam into all of the walls. She wakes me with purrs, meows, and a tail under my nose. She also prefers to sleep like this:

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Everyone always says people change year by year and I didn’t believe it until 2016. I feel the changes and I see them.

I’ve always known I wasn’t alone. I’d just never been exposed to the reality of it, and the moment I was surrounded by people who had been through a manic experience and lived their life, by people who heard voices and lived their life, by people who did take and di not take anti-psychotics and still lived their life, by people who had been through horrible traumas in infancy and childhood to the point they developed different personalities and still lived their life, the moment I saw them with jobs and cars and families and a life, the moment we could all share a space and talk about something other than our mental health, I felt a switch.

There was no more anger. There was less sadness, less loneliness. My youth attracted a couple guys attempting to hit on me and that was a little overwhelming but we remained friends. I didn’t talk a lot, I still struggled with the conventions of interaction, but the fear of interaction was gone. And that I’d never felt before.

So I will say, regardless of the outcome of elections, this year has been revolutionary for me. In fact, this year has only birthed a greater fire within me. My career will never be based around psychiatry like I thought it would be.

My career will be based around people, as hard as it is for me to understand them sometimes. My career will be based around peers, around you all, and around me. Around our growth together, not our fight with pharmaceutical companies, not our fight against stigma, in fact, not our fight at all but rather our transformation. Our development into reminding ourselves that our recovery from what we experience in life can’t be done in the hands of others: we have to take control of it.

We have a saying where I work: Nothing About Us, Without Us. That to me speaks more volumes than anything I’ve heard from my psychiatrist.

P.S: then again, my psychiatrist isn’t the greatest. 

Law Of Conversation Of Oppression

In yesterday’s post, I established my footing in why constantly seeking control in a world powered by chaos effectively leads to a vain existence. Today I will establish my footing in why we are only as free as our most oppressed members of society.

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My heart lies with many societies with factions of people held down under tyranny and dictatorship and religious ideologies that restrict general rights. Being that I consider myself a mental health blogger, I’d like to talk specifically about stigmas and the oppression those of us with such issues might encounter.

Let’s just not forget there are people out there in the world suffering through levels of oppression that keep them from simply having a life.

At any rate, stigma is a huge topic these last few years. Everyone is gunning for the big guys: the media that shows serial killers with voices in their head, or the OCD Target sweater scandal, e.t.c. I’ve advocated for a few years now that rather than force people to view us as regular people, we should group together, support each other, and show them that we’re just regular people wanting just as much respect and trust as any other human being.

My view today is no different. It was, however, squashed a bit today. I want to give my apologies beforehand out to the mental health community, my peers, as I’ve let us all down a bit today.

Walking through a market my boyfriend and I were mesmerized by some gift boxes and sets. I ran off towards the candles and soaps which I often sniff until I get a headache, and he bolted off with his eyes on the gift baskets of food and popcorn and hot sauce. As we walked side by side, a woman in the aisle over stood with another man. He was slender, tall, dark hair, but very pale and skittish. He held behind him one of the market baskets. The woman seemed boisterous, an attitude mirrored by the frizz in her hair.

Suddenly she blurted words from her mouth that I didn’t catch over the music of the market. She then spun, faced the man, and shouted very blatantly: “No! You have a MENTAL DISORDER, you don’t think right!” 

There were a few words after that crucial line I didn’t catch. My boyfriend and I stared at each other. The man she’d shouted at muttered a tentative “oh”. He fiddled with the basket in his hands. By the time we turned around the aisle, they’d wandered off.

I watched her across the store floor. She talked and talked. The man followed, silent, carrying the basket. I couldn’t guess their relation or age if I tried; it didn’t matter anyhow. 

Driving away, my boyfriend and I both agreed we should have spoken up. I’m not sure why he felt he didn’t, but as I drove home I thought heavily on why I didn’t. I’ve spoken up in situations like that before. I’ve stopped to help strangers and I always say hello to the people in society others won’t make eye contact with.

But for some reason I froze in this situation, and I believe it has much to do with being used to the abuse. I’m used to people thinking the way that woman thinks: you have mental issues, you can’t do things normally. I’m even used to myself telling myself those words.

8fc0a3d3374a8dd7f78114e206f79305And the more I came to this realization, the more I regretted my silence. He needed support. He needed a reminder that words like that were opinion and not truth. He needed someone in his corner in a world where many people are in the corner of the woman.

He was oppressed by a simple sentence, and in turn I was as well; he wasn’t free so I couldn’t be free. That’s how my subconscious reacted in the moment.

I don’t like playing by the rules of the bystander effect. I never have in the past and now that I have, I feel filthy for it. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

As I always have, and always will, I encourage you: we’re all in this together. Don’t freeze like me. If someone speaks to you in a manner as blatantly (or subtly) disrespectful as that woman did because of a mental health struggle, a physical health struggle, your religious preference, your attire, whatever is a part of you, don’t mutter “oh”. Don’t fiddle. And remember, an opinion is an opinion. No matter how many times people beat you with words, you can always beat them back with class and intelligence; chances are if they’re using a bunch of words to hurt, they don’t understand the magic of language and in my book if you don’t understand the magic of language then there’s probably a lot of other things your small brain can’t understand.

If you see someone being obviously verbally/mentally abused or disrespected, forget the weird notion that “it’s not your business”. Allowing someone to be hurt in any way possible means you’d be willing to let yourself be hurt in the same way–would you? If not, than it is your business. Not your obligation of course, by all means take out your cell phone and post a video to Facebook. You might go viral and get on the news and everyone will treat you as a hero instead of a bystander. 

As for me, I won’t step back next time, particularly for my peers who I care deeply about.

We’re only as free as our most oppressed members of society.

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The True Qualms Of Existence

A couple years ago, a philosophy professor of mine advised our class to never think about how suddenly we could all die. In fact, she urged us not to as we’d eventually go mad. However, me being me, I thought about it very heavily the moment she made her statement.

I don't think...and yet here I am.

I could poof from existence as I write this. You could poof out of existence as you read this. Perhaps we both poof out of existence at the same moment and because our subatomic particles are somehow entangled, our souls end up in the same version of some afterlife where we can spend our wispy eternity together, haunting people in Halloween stores and hiding as the monster under some kid’s bed.

Death is a serious topic. It touches everyone’s life at least once, usually more often. The older we get, the more we have to endure the passing of friends and family; it’s one reason most people say they wouldn’t enjoy the gift of everlasting physical life.

I cannot and will not claim I understand the full amount of grief someone undergoes after losing someone close to them. I’ve seen the impact it can have: I’ve seen it at work, at home, and heard it from friends. I’ve seen that it can cause turmoil and insurmountable pain and it gives me the greatest respect for this thing we call life: something so elusive, so sudden, so dark, has so much power.

People are afraid of the unknown, right? Those of religious faith perhaps not so much as they know what to expect at the end of their life. But for the rest of us, there is a level of uncertainty and perhaps even arrogance around the idea of death. That we can cheat it with some pills. That we can speculate theoretical possibilities with math and physics to keep our mind off the possibility that perhaps death is just nothingness.

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Never have I ever experienced the death of someone close to me. There are members of my family who have passed away who I had only met once. My pet passed away when I was ten.

There is one instance in which I thought perhaps death would hit close to home. Most of you are aware of my father’s alcoholism history, which he still battles today. During the time he first began having serious withdrawal symptoms (i.e, seizures), I was still very much a night owl and still in high school. Often I stayed up until six or seven a.m. I’d check on him before I went to sleep just to put my mind at ease.

One afternoon I awoke and he was laying face down in a sleeping position he normally slept on. But I heard a wheezing. I glanced over at him once more and saw a pattern indicative of what he experienced after a seizure. His eyes were fixed towards the left and then I saw the blood. Piles of it. His bladder had let itself go. I asked if he could hear me and although he couldn’t speak or move or blink, he growled somewhere deep from his throat. He started seizing a little bit more, just because of the stress.

I didn’t know where the blood was coming from: that was where the panic started. He was laying in it and I couldn’t see if it was coming from his mouth or elsewhere. I later learned it was from a bite in his tongue, cheek, and the rearranging of his teeth from his jaw clenching.

I also didn’t know how long he’d been in this position. Perhaps a half hour. Perhaps hours. And as many of you probably know, withdrawal seizures don’t stop. They continue rolling like a boulder down an endless hill.

The scene, the blood, distressed EMT’s, the fact that I was home alone, the feeling of guilt for having not been awake in the first place caused my meltdown. I fell into a heap and can’t remember anything beyond that.

When he woke up, his short term, and some other parts of his memory, were gone.

I blamed myself for that for a long time. I still kind of do. In fact, this is a difficult post to write because what followed that incident was a changed life. A life of learning to live with someone who forgot what day my birthday was. A life of learning to deal with the anger outbursts from all of us, a life of learning that even seizures can’t stop addiction. A life of learning that life isn’t permanent.

I set up a contraption in my room which tied around my doorknob, went up on the ceiling, through a hanging hook, and back down to a chair which sat beside my bed. I couldn’t sleep for months and if I did, I made sure there were tons of noisemakers near that chair set up. It was there so that when I slept, and if I had a seizure, my leg would most likely knock over the chair onto the stuff on my floor and make noise so I wouldn’t die in such a position.

I didn’t think he would make it that day. I was convinced I’d been partly responsible for his impending death.

Since then I’ve been preparing myself for the big day. Not just for him, but for anyone. I learned to tell myself that I can’t be responsible for someone else’s life choices and that if death came before any of us wanted it to, than I had no say in that either. For months I kept that chair by my bed. I still think about it every now and then, five years later.

This is a story left untold, one I generally avoid because it hits deeper than any other. It plays flashbacks of scenes and feelings I still haven’t processed. Before, I’d never dare speak word of this story. Now I’m telling the internet.

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What I learned is that control isn’t something we have, it’s something we created as a figment of our imagination in a world of spontaneity and chaos. It’s something we wish we could have. I’ve learned to stop wishing for it. The more I wish for it, the more I want it, and the more disappointed I am when I can’t have it.

When the day comes, for me, for him, for anyone I know, it will be another life changing moment and that’s okay. Because if life never changed, no one would live.

If Thoughts Could Speak

It used to be, in the finer stages of youth, the world was a bright, magical place.

It’s still very magical, but in a different light, I think.

Like many people, I’m disturbed today by injustice, by incivility, by disrespect, by the pain we cause each other and the struggles we can’t get help for. I’m disturbed by the county welfare office and how discontent they are; I’m disturbed how they run us around in circles. I’m disturbed that I’ve had physicians laugh plainly in my face about my mental health.

I’m disturbed that we, as a human race, can claim the theoretical possibility of a simple algorithm describing human intelligence (N=2^i-1) and yet indigenous people across the globe are buried beneath bigotry, stupidity, and greed. I’m disturbed that we can put intelligence into math terms and yet never use that intelligence to better ourselves as a whole.

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I think it’s wonderful when a single person gets the drive and determination to volunteer, to help out their elderly parents, to pull over to the side of the road to help someone who they’ve never met before. I think it’s even more wonderful when a group of people do that.

If one person performing one act of kindness makes one other person perform one act of kindness, what do you think a group performing several acts of kindness could do?

The magic I find in the world is dictated by my imagination. It’s dictated by hours spend reading about futurism and Elon Musk’s goals. It’s dictated by days of neuroscience articles and reading about the potentiality of a new Cancer vaccine. It’s dictated by the stories scribbled by my pens and the character’s voices in my head.

 

While I have the drive and the insight, I would like to contribute things to this world. After watching days upon days of videos of people in comas and recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury, after reading article after article about pictures of neurons and the future implications of implanting memory chips into people’s heads, and after dissecting paper after paper about some new early (and un-reviewed) idea that gravity isn’t a fundamental force, but rather an “emergent phenomenon”, I’ve rekindled my love of neuroscience and theoretical neurophysics and the merging of physics and biology.

There are so many things to think about, and this is why I never get things done. If my mind isn’t caught up in worries that will never happen, then it’s caught up in conspiracies against me that I shouldn’t care about. If I don’t feel like people are planning an attack, then demons are–somewhere, somehow. I feel them and I see the signs. If the demons leave me alone, then I dive into a rabbit hole of articles and videos and when I wake up from it all, in the brief period of silence I get, I realize I’ve lost track of time, of my school work, and of life itself.

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So when I say I’m tired, and you give me a strange look because I’ve been laying in bed all day, think about it this way:

Your computer sits on a desk for three weeks in sleep mode. When you open it, the battery is dead. You get frustrated ravaging your room for the charger and you ask yourself: why did the battery die when it wasn’t doing anything?

You left the system running on its only power source.

My brain is my only power source. I dream about math and philosophy and violence. I wake up and am bombarded by thought after thought after thought, anxiety related or not. My battery runs dry even in sleep mode, even when there’s a screen saver on, even nothing is being done on the computer, but the screen is on.

Meanwhile, my kitten sleeps in a wonderfully peaceful exorcist position:

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Her head is completely upside down: you’re looking at the underside of her mouth.

Now I understand Oscar more. Oscar is the cat at my place of work. He was beside me last night as I worked an overnight shift. He had this wild stare in his eyes and this calm demeanor. But nothing about him felt calm. His eyes were always elsewhere. He was always focused on something else, somewhere else, with such a great intensity I got worried he saw some paranormal forces behind me that I couldn’t. It was difficult to get any rest last night.

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Oscar Laying On Me At 3 a.m

This is Oscar. He has a stare worth a thousand words. Vacant but very much present. Focused, intensely. He felt tense and he couldn’t sleep either. His disconcerting vibe made me wonder if this is how people felt when they saw me staring into space, un-moving, monotone.

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He’s gained weight again: he was larger when I first started working here. He slimmed down a lot, was running around like crazy, and now he’s gained some weight back again. I don’t know if that influences his stare, but it might.

Either way, Oscar and I spent a night of staring into each other’s eyes. He understood me and I understood him. He saw into my soul a bit, I think.

He wouldn’t show his though, that’s why he wouldn’t let me take a picture of him when he stared directly at me. He wanted those moments private, and I respect that.