Not Fake News

We need some good stories. Especially these days.

With Trump claiming he got the most electoral votes since Reagan, and then being contradicted immediately by a reporter who listed Obama’s stats, and George Bush’s stats when Trump tried saying “he was talking about republicans”, it’s nice to be able to talk about something much more positive than this moron.

His response to the reporter was “well, I’m just told these things, I don’t actually know”.

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Anyway, enough of that. I watched a video on the YouTube channel VICE news the other day, about a shelter for the “mentally ill” in Mexico, created by a Pastor named Jose Antonio Galvan. I was interested because the title used the word asylum, and I honestly thought they were going to talk about horrible conditions and horrible treatment of the mentally unstable in Mexico. That was my stereotype and assumption.

It was the exact opposite.

Galvan started this shelter in 1995 with the intent to provide home, care, understanding, and compassion for those living on the street who struggle mentally either because of drug induced illness (something like meth psychosis for example) or not. He himself has a history of such things, including an incident which he talks about in the video: seeing hallucinations telling him to attack a preacher on the street who was spewing the word of God. He attacked the preacher with a bottle, cut the preacher’s forehead, and the preacher placed his hand on his head and prayed for him. That was a defining moment for Galvan.

Their government isn’t the most stable. Everyone and their mother knows the country is controlled more so by drug cartels than actual political officials. There’s not a lot of funding or wealth, or solid community structures. Galvan does point out, however, that everyone else gets some kind of care: except those struggling mentally. So he decided to change that. He said only those who had been through such things could understand. He said at Vision En Accion (Vision In Action) the point was to treat humans like humans, to have compassion for those struggling after having been through similar struggle yourself.

Peer support; that’s what he’s doing. Can you imagine how excited I got? You all know me. I found their Facebook page and their website.  Click them. It’s good to read stories like these today.

Now, the landscape, the available services, the healthcare, it’s all different over there where Galvan is compared to us here in the U.S, so they still use terms like asylums and they don’t have proper housing for people who are particularly violent. They’re kept in rooms with bars according to the video. That’s not preferable, but this man and his team are doing more for those citizens than anyone else probably ever has. They don’t treat them poorly behind the bars, they at least get good food and can stay clean and get compassionate support mentally . . . they just kinda, you know, gotta stay in a cage. Like I said, not preferable.

But when you think about it, it’s not much different from isolation in hospitals over here. So get off your high horse and let’s not be so quick to judge. Just because we paint our bars a nice pretty white, call it a door, and decorate the halls with “trained and educated professionals” doesn’t mean a thing. Remember, America is notorious for embellishing shit to make it look like blooming roses.

If you have a passion, if you have an idea, don’t worry the idea into extinction about how you’re going to do it, what you need to do it, or if it would even work. Just do it. That’s how organizations get started, that’s how lives are changed. At one point in my life, I would love to volunteer here and include Vision En Accion in the growing spectrum of compassionate healthcare.

1.2 Billion and Some Change

At a 1.2 billion dollar a year profit, I could understand the temptation. I could understand the temptation to market a product for something that it isn’t.

As a song says, regarding Michael Jackson: “He could fuck me–for 45 million”.

Money, money, money. We say we hate it, but we do whatever we can to get it, and in this world I can’t blame anyone for that. You need it to live. I don’t know if you need billions, but you know, it must be nice to wake up in the morning in satin sheets and eat off of plates made of gold with a meal cooked by your sixteen five star chefs you keep locked in the basement–the basement, of which, is also gold plated with its own set of maids.

I’m assuming that’s what billionaires do. They probably sit in chairs–excuse me, thrones, gold ones–and swing their legs back and forth and whine and whine about how bored they are. That’s how they make so much money. They have time to think up good schemes.

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The 1.2 billion dollars of which I speak of is what AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company, makes on Seroquel XR alone.

In October 2009–get this, because I’m dying from laughter over it for several reasons–they settled on a 520 million dollar agreement against two federal investigations against them. The charge? They’ve been marketing Seroquel as something it isn’t. SHOCKER. From what I’ve seen online, they’re being investigated for this once again.

Remember, 520 million dollars is like getting smacked with a twig on the inside of the wrist to them. It’s not even like the sting of a tattoo. Think about that before you believe they got their just dues for that.

By marketing, we’re not talking about commercials on television. We’re talking about pushing doctors and anyone who can prescribe medications to give their “clients” Seroquel for things like insomnia, panic attacks, and anxiety. Doctors, not knowing any better, do so.

I say this after being prescribed it, but not for anxiety and not for sleep but because I went into my psychiatric appointment pretty distressed and distracted over feeling invaded, internally, by someone having control over my body. It’s progressed a lot since my last post on it, I think, and I am impressed with this psychiatrist. I am. I talked shit about her many, many months ago. But she impressed me because she didn’t say I was a delusional freak. What she said was that it’s okay to have these feelings and it’s okay to have these beliefs.

I was shocked. But, what that did for me was not close me up. I even told her these are things I don’t normally say to people. Towards the end of the visit she of course said that from a psychiatric standpoint it’s a little concerning, and being who I am, I understood that fully. There’s this eerie sense in me. Because this is stuff I’ve grown up with in myself, these kinds of feelings and thoughts and beliefs, and because I’ve studied what I’ve studied, I’m completely aware of how my beliefs sound. That doesn’t mean I can disprove them. I can’t. People expect me to just be like “come on, doesn’t that sound a little ridiculous? Someone telepathically controlling you?”

No. No it doesn’t. Because I feel it happening. Maybe it doesn’t happen to you because no one wants your shit body or your shit brain, ever think about that?

I get defensive sometimes.

warning-exclamation-triangle-md If you were prescribed Seroquel in any form solely for something like Insomnia, Anxiety, depression, whatever, you’ve been prescribed it “illegally”. Because that’s not what it’s for. There’s no evidence that the benefits for those issues outweigh the risks. Not to mention it’s one of the worst antipsychotics in terms of weight gain and diabetes. Heart problems as well, I believe. Don’t take long term.

Technically speaking, from a lawful standpoint, which is still pretty loose, it’s for adults and adolescents (13-17) for the “treatment” of schizophrenia and bipolar. Now, the adolescent part is a lie too, because they didn’t do trials in that. So really it’s adults with schizophrenia or bipolar.

Now, think about how SMALL of a market that is. As if they’d make 1.2 billion dollars a year from that alone, when you take into account how many of those people probably wouldn’t like it, probably would stop taking it at one point, and probably would never want to be back on it, and switch to something else.

So the trick? Say it works for anxiety, say it works for insomnia. Everyone and their mom has anxiety and insomnia the last time I checked.

That’s not to say some people might feel “better” on it. If you take it for anxiety or insomnia or whatever, I’m certainly not coming after you. I know anxiety isn’t a joke, I’ve lived with it all my life, insomnia too. I’m coming after the people who convinced your doctor that was a good idea. 

The fact of the matter is, people, that when you go to someone who is a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist, or even your GP if you’re more comfortable with them working with you on your mental health, the knowledge they’re spewing at you is knowledge not sent to them from the medical world, it’s what they hear from researchers funded by pharmaceutical companies. You’re not getting accurate information.

You can discredit me by calling me delusional. And I honestly welcome that. Research it for yourself. I’ve been doing so since I was 15.

 

Oh How The Mighty Has Fallen

Oh dear.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. We have to stay strong in this time of unrest. The Mighty, I am disappointed. Mad In America, you deliver once more.

As many of you may know, those two online magazines are among the largest contributors to mental health writings. The Mighty has a focus on disability, mental illness (their term, not mine), and disease, a very versatile platform with contributors I’ve always enjoyed reading. The people have good hearts and their stories are always worth reading. They will always be worth reading, because those stories are people’s lives, regardless of what I’m about to say in this post.

Mad In America is a website I was first introduced to when applying to my position at Second Story Respite House–mostly because Mad in America wrote a couple articles on them and because the trainer I had for IPS, Steven Morgan, has contributed some articles. But the website also has articles on science and drugs and psychiatry and social justice, another versatile, well spoken, and respectable magazine with just as respectable contributors as The Mighty.

Now.

The one thing I understand about being a major website with editors and contributors regarding mental health is the same thing I understand about being a non-profit, “progressive”, mental health program: funding is shit. Funding is shit. Funding is shit. It’s not easy to keep these kinds of things going, and temptations are out there. Embellished temptations that look better than they are.

When I read the article “Why I Resigned From The Mighty” by Twilah Hiari published on Mad In America, I was disheartened but not surprised in the least. Not the least. You can read her work for herself, and I encourage you to, but I’ll give a quick summary.

She’d been offered a position at The Mighty as an editor I believe, and summoned to a work retreat. There she learned the chief revenue officer’s plan to monetize The Mighty with pharmaceutical advertising. The quote Hiari included from her is as follows: “If the CEO for Abilify was in the front row right now, he’d be salivating”. This deal included giving drug companies data on the website’s users for targeted advertising and marketing.

I will never at all blame this officer for her poor decision–because that’s what it is, a poor decision, and we’ve all made poor decision in life. I can’t fault her for being human. And I understand the need to fund the site and pay contributors, but the problem with this is that it’s like protesting Animal Abuse, and then–unknowingly or knowingly–buying a product in a store that tests on animals. You have to be careful with this kind of thing. You have to be very, very careful.

Hiari then goes into her own experiences with the drug Abilify and how it’s negatively, very, very negatively (go read her article, seriously) impacted her life.

And I think the important distinction here is to recognize that Hiari is not bitter about how medications have caused her harm and now refuses any and all association with them and plans to blast them on the internet, but that she’s pointing out a serious issue we have right now: this inclusion of  big pharma whose intention is money and nothing more into our mental health empowerment strategies. Big Pharma is not for mental health empowerment. If they were, we probably wouldn’t call them Big Pharma.

That’s like funding Second Story through Big Pharma and allowing them to place their appointed psychiatrists in our house to monitor our guests’ medications and market. I mean, fucks’ sake. Yeah, that’ll go over real well. Come in and undermine everything we stand for, thanks, appreciate it, high five.

*Major Eye-rollage*

Corporate pressure is real, and The Mighty has Fallen. Beneath the pressure, that is.

We have to remember in this world that’s controlled by business, that when we have a view that we stand for, we have to actually stand for it. Not sit, not cower, not bend over, but actually stand. So your legs might hurt, your back might ache, you might feel week, but it’s your view. Own it–don’t sell it.

How Do You Feel About Safety?

What’s your experience with this? With suicide hotlines, or being interviewed about it with a mental health professional?

Because I feel there’s a major flaw in this system, and I’ve thought about different ways it could be fixed, I’ve thought about ways it could be improved, internally and externally if that makes sense–everything is internal and external with me–, but what I’ve yet to do is ask others who have similar experiences to me how they feel about this.

The last time I used a suicide hotline or service thing, I don’t know what to call them, I was halfway going to do it. I pretty much led the entire county and hotline on a wild goose chase. I was teasing them about trying to find me before I die, while simultaneously trying to find a place to either jump off and break my neck or jump down far enough to die on impact. That’s hard to do when you’re avoiding overpopulated places like bridges. Maybe I picked a hard way to go for a reason. All I knew was 1) the trees weren’t talking to me anymore 2) I didn’t see any point in anything and 3) there were no more butterflies, and that’s a problem.

Eventually some county social worker and a sheriff got me. My boyfriend had got to me first, because I told him where I was. I’d told the hotline people where I was too, but in cryptic language and they must have decoded my message.

Anyway, my point is the whole reason I fucked with those hotline people, and pretty much myself, was because I hate, hate, hate when I get asked “can I help you get safe tonight?”

What the fuck does that mean. What does it mean? Can someone tell me? I don’t know what it means and I don’t know how to answer it. If I say I have a plan, they freak out. If I say I don’t have a plan, they say well, let’s keep you safe tonight and then suggest I listen to music or write.

I have different reasons for suicidality. Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed and can’t handle my emotions because I don’t know how to do that efficiently, so I say I’m going to kill myself. Sometimes I half-mean it, like when I sent them on a wild goose chase, and when I really mean it I tell no one, I just try. TRY. Because I’m shit at killing myself too. People say that’s a good thing, and being in my right mind right now I say it’s a good thing too. The creepy thing is I got the same treatment in the hospital, I got the same run around.

I also got a lecture. Remember? Remember that LCSW I posted about? My God, 45 minutes of fucking her repeating what depression is and ignoring the fact that I’d said several times I didn’t feel depressed, just overwhelmed, e.t.c and then at the end of it all, after I stopped talking for thirty minutes, she got concerned and said “I hope some of this resonated with you”.

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Who knows, it could have been more than 45 fucking minutes, THERE’S NO CLOCKS, HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW.

Whatever. The point is, nothing got resolved because everyone just wanted me safe and I didn’t know what that meant, and they seemed to feel that means leaving me alone for two days and I don’t know if that’s what keeps me safe or not, I don’t know. Because when they asked me in front of the entire room if I still wanted to kill myself, I lied very angrily, pretty much through clenched teeth, “no.”

So is the goal to just stop people from killing themselves, or to actually resolve the feelings of wanting to die? I didn’t want to say yes and get my rights taken away. I saw it coming from a mile away, I didn’t trust them an ounce. I don’t trust anyone. I was pretty much convinced the two women who were talking to me actually wanted me to kill myself, legitimately, like they were working together, which is partly why I didn’t sleep on top of the last week and a half of me not sleeping, and why I refused the “sleeping medication” they wanted to give me. Sleeping medication my ass. Fucking cyanide. And I wouldn’t have dared to mention that or anything about the trees, magic, or voices.

So my question is, since different people have different experiences, what do think about your “safety”?

Does helping you stay safe do anything for you?

Do you find yourself giving answers as empty as their questions?

*Some food for thought. Or thoughts for food.*

 

Master Of Puppets, I’m Pulling Your Strings

Last night I walked into the house (I.e, work), and saw the printed paper I’ve been waiting to see: the “Fuck ICE” paper.

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It didn’t actually say that, but that’s how I like to think of it. ICE, if you didn’t know, and if you couldn’t tell from the picture above, are the Immigration officers here in the United States. There’s a man who works for them who lives in my apartment complex. My mostly hispanic apartment complex. Hmm.

Anyway, the point of the paper was to remind us all of confidentiality rules. That is, if ICE officers bang on the door and want to search the house, we immediately need to ask for a warrant. Repeatedly, if needed. If the warrant is signed by a judge, and once we’ve read the criteria, we let them in. If they don’t have a warrant, or the warrant isn’t signed by a judge, we stand our ground at the door. If they call looking for specific people, we say “I’m not your puppet, Master.”

You probably shouldn’t say that, but that’s what I’d say. And then I’d hang up.

No, fuck it, that’s what you should say. Fuck it.

Like I said in my conversation this morning before I left the house: I expected Trump to get assassinated on Inauguration day. I’m still convinced the CIA is planning his assassination, too. Or aliens are going to abduct him and put him on display in an alien zoo to showcase what Earth (pronounced Ee-Arr-th) has to offer. And that’s when we all die. I bet Nostradamus predicted it.

What hasn’t Nostradamus predicted, I mean, Come on.

I’ve written an article prompting the deportation of Mike Pence here. Have a read. It’s short. And #DeportMikePence. #I’mNotYourPuppet.

I’m sick of people calling people who feel like they’re being watched, judged, and spied on by the government “paranoid”. That’s not fucking illogical paranoia, wake up! Look who’s in office! There was a huge raid just a few nights ago in my town. One was right across the street from my apartment, the other was downtown near my boyfriend’s house. ICE and homeland security and the local police department. “Gangs” they claimed, but not really. I’m sure all the people they arrested won’t be coming home any time soon, and it won’t be because of prison time.

And we’re the “progressive” town. We’re in California. I hope we secede from the union. The “union”. The fucking broken gram cracker of countries, fucking burnt ass popcorn of countries, fucking rotten-fruit-of-the-loom of countries, that’s what America should be called.

I haven’t been sleeping again, can you tell? I think all that medication is completely out of my system. I’m supposed to see that psychiatrist on the 20th, but I’m not going. I’m tired, but I’m funny again. So, you know, pick and choose your battles people, that’s a good life lesson. R Kelly taught me that.

Not really. He’s nasty.

I sleep maybe four hours a night. I go to bed around 3 or 4, wake up around 7 or 7:30. Without fail. Either at my apartment or at the house. I’m tired and distracted and pretty sure I’ve been contacted by Aliens the last few nights, but it’s all good because I’m also more evolved than the average human being, or so they said. Maybe that’s my inner arrogance coming out.

I’m tired.

Fight the Power.

Crowded Stores And How To Handle It

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If you’re anything like me, when you’re in a crowded store there are one of three things that goes through your mind:

  1. What the fuck is wrong with you people, personal space!
  2. Okay, how many of you are telepathically communicating with each other to plan my demise? (You ask them all telepathically, of course).
  3. Too many, too many, too many, run, run, leave, leave, panic, panic–wait! There’s chocolate–okay, run, run, run.

Or maybe you think all three and have a hell of a time shopping. I can essentially go into two stores by myself: Walgreens and Rite Aid. When those two stores are crowded, I sit in my car for a good twenty minutes until I feel safe entering the establishment.

But when you can’t wait twenty or thirty minutes in your car with your kitten comforting you, and you have to take a deep breath and dive neck deep into the hell that is a sea of human nematodes, here are six things that help me.

  1. If you feel like people are planning your demise, or if the clerks are conspiring to get you kicked out, do as I do and put some ear phones in. If you hear the clerks conspiring to get you kicked out, I suggest even more you put some ear phones in. It’s a good distraction and you can blend in pretty well. If you start talking to yourself, it looks like you’re on the phone. What a wonderful age we live in, right? Conversely, if you are not someone who talks to yourself regularly and you walk around with those bluetooth things in your ears talking to the air, you look ridiculous, you really, really do.

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    Oh You’re Sooooooo Suave
  2. If people are crowding around you, remember you have the right to leave the aisle. I feel sometimes our anxiety can paralyze us and we’re stuck between two people on our right and two people on our left with thoughts circulating about how close they are, about if they’re watching us pick out an item, about how they’re judging the item we pick up, or maybe just that there is another person next to us and we’re trapped so we have to pick something before we can leave. These are all thoughts I experience as well. It’s a good idea to just squeeze on past and come back to the aisle later. It’s not going anywhere.
  3. If you then think those people are following you around the store just to crowd you, or to track you, as I often have felt, try and remember that everyone came in this store for something. Chances are, you will run across someone looking for the same thing you are. It may be that they are following you: just not on purpose.
  4. You do have the freedom to punch someone. I don’t suggest doing it, in fact I recommend you don’t. But remembering that may give you some security.
  5. Talk to yourself. In your head this time. Too often we let ourselves be victimized by this beast called anxiety and it starts running the show. It controls our thoughts, our actions, our emotions. It’s up to you to take back at least a sliver of control: remind yourself it’s okay. Sing along to lyrics in your head. Focus on a list you may have made. The point isn’t to dissociate from the situation like I pretty much always do, but to be able to maintain a level of composure while being present. Remind yourself what you’re feeling is anxiety, or paranoia, or panic, whichever it is you come across, and recognize it and know that it’s there. Try not to push it away. The harder you push, the stronger it gets, have you noticed?
  6.  Remember it will end. Remember that when you get out of that store and away from those people you will have a moment to breathe again and you can count it as a victory. Even if you don’t make it, even if you have to run out without buying anything, you went in and tried and that takes courage. There’s no failure here, only small victories, small accomplishments.

Too often we beat ourselves down for what we don’t do, what we feel we’ve failed at, and don’t nearly give ourselves enough credit for the things we do accomplish, even the small things–I’m guilty of this myself. One thing our minds are very talented at in the midst of something like anxiety is telling us how wrong we’ve managed to do everything. Not even the one thing we tried to do, but it becomes a generalization of everything.

Our brains are very good at hyperboles. And that’s okay, we just have to recognize them and have an action plan when they pop up.

 

 

Alternatives to hospitalization, suicide, and loneliness.

I’ve talked a lot about the ideals and research and experiences and proofs of the efficacy of peer programs, peer respites, peer hospital diversion programs, peer everything, and I probably have a lot more to say in drafts that I just having refined for publishing. However, what I haven’t done is talk about how these programs are growing throughout the United States and spreading internationally.

This is a good thing. Other things like Ebola, that spreading, that’s bad. Peer programs good. Remember; Ebola: BAD. Peer programs and respites: GOOD.

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Although these systems are fairly new, the research, the propositions, have been around since about the 1980’s from my knowledge, but they haven’t gotten good footing until recently. It’s hard to get good footing when you’re pushing up against a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s hard to get funding for good, credible research (in the eyes of science and the APA) when psychology research is  more often than not funded by those multi-billion dollar industries. I.e, Big Pharma.

But this isn’t about “fighting the system”. I suppose in a subtle way it is, but it isn’t about the system really, it’s about the people, which is something the system is not about. For us, it’s about communication and connection and relating and processing: processing emotions, processing whatever you yourself considers illness, disability, disorder.

It’s not about diagnosis. We don’t care if your diagnosis is schizoaffective, we just care about what you’re feeling, how you’re reacting, and what we can do to support you through that. Schizoaffective is the last thing on our mind. In fact, we won’t even know a thing about diagnosis unless you tell us: and that’s only if you want to.

And in case you’re confused, peers are people with lived mental health experience supporting you through your experience, whatever that may be.

Most respites have a phone line you can call. We call ours a warmline, I’m not sure what others call theirs, maybe it’s all mutually exclusive. It’s 24/7. It’s not a suicide hotline. If you’re in a crisis and need to chat, and we think maybe you need further support, we can talk to you about how you feel about getting more support. It’s not about calling the police. Obviously immediate, drastic crisis is different. But I’m someone with frequent thoughts of suicide and frequent plans and I’d feel ten times more comfortable telling a warmline that than a hotline that because hotlines just keep asking me “can you guarantee to me that you can be safe tonight?” And I don’t know what the fuck that means and if I say no, they want to get my location and if I say yes then they say “have a good night and stay strong”.

Warmlines are different. We know the feelings you’re feeling and we process them with you to the best of our abilities. I’m not saying we can connect with everyone. I know I’m not a person who has managed to connect with everyone. I try my best, but it’s like life: you’re not going to get along with everyone. Everyone tries their best.

There’s no script or series of questions we have to ask. I like to call it supportive conversation, not active listening. It took me a while to really understand that and be able to offer support through words and not just an ear. I’m still working on it.

You can call for anything. You feel like your thoughts are racing? Call. Feel like your neighbors are watching you? Call. Aliens chatting to you and annoying you? Call. Feeling harassed? Call. Seeing demons nibbling on your feet? Call. Feeling depressed? Call. Feeling anxious? Call. Feeling stressed? Call. Whatever it is, Call.

I’m saying these things to give you alternatives. Alternatives to hospitals, to suicide, to loneliness.

I don’t know the exact places of every respite house in the country. I don’t know which communities have established peer programs or peer hybrid programs, whatever. Take initiative to look it up.

But in the meantime, I do have a list of some respite houses and programs here. They have descriptions and where they’re located. If you don’t see your state or whatever listed, google, google, google. Call, call, call.

They’re out there.

Want more information? Email me.

Once Again: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION

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I tried, ya’ll. I tried so hard. Before I took a personal break from this blog, before wordpress updated everything and my tags went wonky, before Trump figured out he can give executive orders and still have them banned, I told you all very, very blatantly, very calmly and collectively that my hatred for the industry had ceased. That I would focus more in my career and life on expanding and integrating Peer Support services.

I told you all that this blog would no longer be a clusterfuck of my sarcastic droning on people like Alex Gorksy or that guy on his team who wanted to put lollipops in packages of Risperdal for children.

I kept my promise.

Until now.

There is a textbook that has set my brain aflame. My skin has rotted away from words in this textbook. My brain started fucking my rectum because of words from this textbook. I ripped out my own eyes, stuffed them in my ears, and ate fifteen poisonous frogs when I heard words from this textbook.

This college textbook:

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Fuck you, Pearson, and Your 14th Edition

No classroom should ever, ever have a student read a textbook for a health science class with a mental health section as sloppy and bullshit as this one. It’s like the authors wrote all the things they’ve been told about mental health from their super conservative, super gullible, super fucked-in-the-head second cousins all twice removed who all like to staple their heads for YouTube views who thought just because they read an article on google scholar, that they knew the complete biological, environmental, and genetic causes of these things labeled mental disorders.

But, no, it gets better. Oh it gets so much better.

I don’t hate on any textbook, article, or person who believes in the medical model of psychiatry. I understand that it’s the widespread belief, I understand that there’s been research (and that the research has been warped and twisted with lies for the sake of money), and I certainly understand that until there’s more widespread research proving otherwise, people will continue to believe they are sick and defective for life.

However, a textbook that promotes this and attempts to, quite literally, discredit every other form of research is one that should, along with the authors, be stabbed, maimed, thrown in a hole, pissed on by someone with Gonorrhea, then burned.

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And of course they make the most misunderstood, most feared, most confusing, and most stigmatized “mental disorder” their fucking scapegoat for their shitty view of mental health.

This, people, is why stigma exists. Books and classrooms based on this viewpoint are literally the reason stigma exists.

Let me give you some quotes and then discredit the shit out of them with actual credible sources. #Karma, bitch.

First, their definition of schizophrenia was pretty typical. “A psychological disorder that affects about 1 percent of the U.S population”. Yada, yada, heard it all before, right?

They go on.

“For decades, scientists believed that schizophrenia was a form of madness provoked by the environment in which a child lived” (mostly blamed on the mother back then), and “they blamed abnormal family interactions or early childhood trauma.”

Another true statement. They go on.

Basically, MRI and PET scans “[allowed] scientists to study brain function more closely; based on that knowledge, schizophrenia was found to be a biological disease of the brain. The damage occurs early in life, possibly as early as the second trimester of fetal development. Fetal exposure to toxic substances, infections, and medications have been studied as a possible risk, and hereditary links are being explored.”

And it continues.

“Even though theories that blame abnormal family life or childhood trauma for schizophrenia have been discarded in favor of biological theories, a stigma remains attached to the disease.” Then they go in to talk about how the families of people with schizophrenia need extra support.

If none of that really bothers you (YET, wait for it), “support of loved ones and access to therapy [helps] many schizophrenics lead normal lives”.

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Wonderful. Let’s all give this piece of shit book a big round of “a-fuck-you”.

I will not promote the idea that children develop schizophrenia from fucked up mothers. If that were true, a lot more people would, as this textbook would say, “be schizophrenic”. I also refuse to promote this strange idea that we are 100% certain this is a disease.

Because the research is very, very faulty. They’re doing comparative studies, in which they study the brain of someone who already hears voices, sees things, and has cognitive problems, compares them to someone who doesn’t and then says that depleted white matter, or that so called “abnormal” level of dopamine is,  a result of the disease of schizophrenia. The problem? You couldn’t possibly know if “schizophrenia” caused that, or the depletion of the brain matter or the abnormal dopamine or whatever caused it. Basically, you still don’t know shit. Waste of time and money.

Unless your’re big pharma and can cash big on telling people they have an incurable disease that no amount of TLC can ever, ever relieve, no amount of support or activity in life will ever, ever relieve. Medication will correct your brain abnormalities. Because you’re defective.

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*COUGH COUGH*

Correlation is not causation. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. If you did not study these brains of these children– many, many children, not just 18, that’s not a large enough sample size if you’re trying to define a fucking disease–from the time they were born until the time they developed characteristics of schizophrenia, than you know absolutely nothing about how the brain develops.

In fact, you’d need to study them prenatally.  All those risk factors that you hear about? The flu? All that? You know what they are? HYPOTHESES. It’s called the NEURODEVELOPMENT HYPOTHESIS. They’re not facts, they don’t even have enough agglomerate, valid, credible research to be called a THEORY! They’re hypotheses. Hypotheses with experiments that:

“… provided evidence consistent with an association between second-trimester exposure to influenza epidemics and schizophrenia; further investigations, however, some of which were larger and featured more complete case ascertainment, failed to replicate the association. While similarly designed studies of other infectious agents have suggested potential relationships with schizophrenia, the effects have been generally weak, and few replication attempts have been made” (1)

You know what you need in research to publish a real study? To be credible? REPLICATED EXPERIMENTS.

You can read that publication if you wish to learn about the other risk factors that apparently had a slightly more correlational effect. But once again, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. BASIC PSYCHOLOGY 101.

Check all the studies you want: Trauma has never, ever been discarded as a major catalyst towards the development of any mental health issue. Never. Not. Once. In fact, it’s never even been studied to a great extent. I have not found, in my search of databases of empirical articles at least, one article that specifically disproves that trauma of any kind changes the physicality and mental state of your brain. How much do you want to bet that it does? 

If none of these reasons disturb you about what our future health students are learning about health, than at least be pissed off they said “schizophrenics”. Come on. That’s so 1980.

If you’re going to make a bold claim of a mental health problem solely being biological, at least have the facts and the research to back it up.

(1): Brown, A. S., & Derkits, E. J. (2010). Prenatal Infection and Schizophrenia: A Review of Epidemiologic and Translational Studies. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(3), 261–280. http://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09030361

The Truth Behind Trauma

Let’s talk about Trauma. Fun!

And I’m not talking about the kind of trauma you get from thinking you’re badass enough to put a glob of Habanero hot sauce the size of a U.S quarter on your tongue without an 8 ounce glass of milk near you.

*Tip* Water makes it worse. Why? Water spreads the chemical compound capsaicin (C18 H27 NO3,) while milk breaks it apart, putting it generally.

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And while making the mistake of sipping your ice cold water on top of your gulp of Habanero may very well traumatize you enough to keep you away from hot sauce for a while, it’s much less likely to reduce your functioning compared to, well, a near death experience.

Compared to child abuse.

Compared to sexual assault.

Compared to emotional and verbal and physical abuse.

If someone tells you they were abused as a child, and they give you the honor of actually sharing those painful memories with you, do the best you can to not to judge how abusive of a situation they were in. 

Concept: Construction workers inspecting brainEmotional and verbal abuse does not leave physical scars or torn innards, but it does shape how someone’s mindset is. It shapes how their brain reacts to every portion of their environment, to every social relationship, to every coincidence, to themselves. That’s essentially the person’s entire life.

There’s one type of trauma I feel isn’t talked about much, and reading what I’ve read recently from a health textbook used to teach students going into health careers, it’s obvious it needs to be talked about *RANT  ON THAT COMING SOON, MARK YOUR CALENDARS*.

And that’s the trauma that is a mental health crisis. You hear people give credit to the overwhelming medical model and biological “basis” of mental health issues simply because there’s a gap in people who struggle. In other words, you see people from all over the world, with all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds, coming down with these “illnesses”.

Let’s take psychosis.

Picture this: you’re a young adult with blonde hair and blue eyes. Your family is upper class. Your parents don’t ask too much from you, or too little. You learned how to clean up after yourself, you learned how to work, you learned how to handle some emotions, maybe not all, but some. Everything in your house is fun and laughter and love and happiness, except for when that one uncle comes over and gets a little too drunk.

Then the fucking alien assholes start contacting you and the government starts freaking out about it, so they track you to your residence and, in the middle of the night, sew a tracking device in your wrist and the aliens keep telling you they’re after you so you start trying to protect yourself by hiding in the gutters at night.

Roughly.

Then you’re held down with restraints and medication and no one’s telling you anything, so it’s probably the CIA trying to do experiments on you so you fight them and they fight you and finally a few months later you come to a vague conclusion you’ve been in a hospital and that’s really only after they hounded into your head both heavy, heavy psychotropics and the heavy, heavy idea that you’re really sick. 

Then you’re sitting in a chair staring at the wall wondering if anything exists.

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If that’s not traumatic, than I don’t know what is. If that’s not something that needs to be addressed, that needs to be processed, that shouldn’t ever be responded to with “you’re just sick, sorry, get over it, learn to live with it, or don’t, whatever.”, than I don’t know what is.

I’m not going to sit here and argue with everyone who believes in the medical model. If you do, fine; if you don’t, fine. That’s not really the issue here. The issue here is that more often than not, mental health crises are written off as just “something that happens”.

It’s ignored that the feelings of fear, of mistrust, of confusion, of the million other emotions running through your head are a result of what you’ve just been through–not your “symptoms”.

It’s ignored that those feelings need to be processed, not repressed. Not summed up as “sickness”.

Still iffy? Alright, I’ll put it this way: as a child, and to this day in my adult life, if I butter my toast by holding the knife in my left hand, with the blade ridges facing away from me, my father will undoubtedly yell at me and tell me I’m buttering my toast wrong. If I dispute one of his beliefs, he’ll most likely launch a laundry basket at my head and call me a bitch like he did the other day.

There are a lot of feelings from that: anger, fright, sadness, confusion, frustration, exhaustion. You would probably agree that 1) those incidents are ridiculous, and 2) that those feelings should not be repressed, but processed and outed. If so, you get an:

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When I was in the hospital, my self-harm wounds that were obviously bleeding and staining my clothes and, although not deep enough to kill me, but deep enough to cause concern, were called scratches and they didn’t ask me why I’d done it: it was just part of the depression. My lack of eye contact and refusal to speak until someone reached me on a human level was also chalked up to depression. When I said I wasn’t depressed (because I wasn’t, I had other things going on), they didn’t believe me and told me I was depressed.

So, the fright that came with being hauled away by the sheriff, of having all these nurses crowd around me and take my shoes and all my belongings and of the counselors repeatedly lecturing rather than talking, of having to ask to use the bathroom, of the yelling match between the nurses and the man about him not pissing in the cup at 5 in the morning, about the guy who bolted across the floor on his hands and knees, about the man who kept wandering up and down the hall muttering to himself and never receiving any more interaction besides an occasional “hello” from a nurse, and most of all the threat of being stuck in this fucking place for more than twenty four hours, were never processed. I ran out of the doors, free, laughing hysterically when I left. In the short time I spent there, I’d already felt the harsh sting of institutionalization.

I can only imagine the fright and anger and terror and mistrust and pain and hurt that comes with being forced in there against your will, stuck in restraints, or completely isolated. 

And none of those feelings were ever asked about. None of it was ever processed. My privacy was continually violated as they asked me in front of eight other people if I still wanted to kill myself, as if that wasn’t private information. It’s as if they figure, hey, they’re all crazies, who cares how they feel about anything.

And that’s how people get worse. Repression. Repression. Repression. Invalidation. Invalidation. Invalidation.

It’s not just about “disease”. It’s not about “sickness”. It’s not about “disorder” or “illness”. It’s about emotions and your reactions and how you’ve been taught to react. It’s about learned helplessness.

It’s about feeling deprived the right to process your own emotions. And, as someone who says they are in control of their health, you have to take that right back.

 

 

Reality Vs. Fantasy

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Sometimes I question whether we really can make a distinction between the two.

I liken it to the idea of normal versus abnormal. And the idea of stupid questions. Those of you who have been following me for a while can either guess where I’m going with this or you’re getting ready to flip away from this post because fuck she’s at it again.

The brain is a fingerprint. We’ve established this, correct? Either you have established it through your own observation of the world, or you’ve established it through the multitudes of neuroscience research supporting it. So the idea of “normality” is simply a social construction: it changes over time and it’s defined by a culture. To say that I’m not normal is to remind yourself that neither are you and neither is anyone else. That in itself nullifies the idea of abnormality and normality in one fellow swoop.

I drive a white car. If you walk up to me while I’m in my car, and you are not in any way color impaired, and you ask me if my car is white, well, that’s a stupid fucking question.

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Don’t believe all your grade school teachers who used to say “no question is a stupid question”.

There are tons of stupid questions. Like when the professor clearly says “don’t pay attention to the statistics” and you raise your hand a second later and ask if you should pay attention to the statistics.

What am I talking about again?

Fantasy and reality, that’s right.

The last time I checked, there was no clear distinction between either. We can only live in the reality that we observe, so to be bold enough to say that this reality is the only reality makes me wonder how you walk around with those hundred pound balls between your legs.

This makes me wonder what in the world I could be missing–what we all could be missing. We’re such limited creatures, stuck in a world where all you know is what’s in front of your eyes, and even then you don’t really know those things, you just see them. Is seeing really indicative of every truth imaginable? From my experiences, definitely not.

What’s the point of this, you may ask?

Well for those of us whose reality perhaps is not the best, who wish they could get away from their parents, or their spouse, or themselves, I think it’s best to remember that it’s okay if reality doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing in the Book of Life that says you have to be %200 sure of anything. There’s nothing that says your reality has to mimic everyone else’s and there’s nothing that says if your reality is horrible now it will always be horrible.

There’s nothing in the Book of Life that even says any of us are really human. I’ve known since I was a toddler I wasn’t from here, no way in hell. And the older I got, the stronger that sense became. And no, it’s not because of fucking Trump, and if I hear one more thing about him, I’ll explode.

I’m not telling you to be happy with whatever shitty situation you’re in right now. What I am saying is understand it’s okay to be there. And it’s okay to hate it. And it’s okay to be confused. Because it’s okay to live, whatever that means for you.