Monthly Archives: July 2018

I have a poem for you all today about something I’ve been struggling with on an astronomical level. It’s something that’s been hounding me since I first started on this journey when I was 16 or 17. Take a read.

Take it, they say, and I do.

It’s for the better, they say, and I pretend

to believe them.

But there’s no better medicine than human connection,

than walks in nature

where the fireflies conjure

and the Cougars roar.

There’s no better medicine than a domestic cat’s purr,

than a puppy’s head rub,

or the bloom of a rose.

But take it, they said, and I do,

for I understand the consequences of moods

that are self destructive,

that cause more pain than happiness,

that force me to believe

everyone is against me,

even as the evidence proves otherwise.

Two little pills will not dictate my life

but they hound my moral conscience mercilessly:

“You’re feeding the demon, Big Pharma,

going against what you believe in,

what Karma

will that produce at the end of your life span

here on Earth?

You’re hurting your liver, your kidneys, your organs.

How will your heart feel after 21 years of torture

by two little pills?

Don’t you remember Prolonged QT,

or have you forgotten you’re getting a science degree?

It can cause a fatal Arrhythmia after prolonged use of anti-psychotics

and who knows this but you?

A psychiatrist won’t tell you,

a physician won’t tell you

and yet you take those two little pills

against your very own will.

This is all the voice in my head

the one that used to constantly want me dead.

Now he begs for me to save my life

by throwing away those two little pills

that cause me so much moral strife.

 

Check out this poem and more on my Booksie account here.

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What are some of the strangest reactions you’ve had when you’ve told someone your mental health story?

Do you tell people your story? I know plenty who do not, and for good reason: we’re not exactly the most understood people out there.

But see, I like shocking people. I like making them uncomfortable, watching them squirm. And so I often tell my story to strangers, especially if they approach me on the street trying to hit on me. How do I do it? Well, here’s the way it usually goes.

“Hi, I’m Dave, can I ask your name?”

“Hi Dave, I’m Alishia, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too. What are you up to today? Any plans for tonight?”

“No real plans, just some relaxation. It’s my day off today.”

“Oh yeah? Where do you work?”

*Insert Cheshire Cat smile in my head*

“I work at a peer respite house.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Well, you see we support people who are apart of the county mental health system.”

“That sounds nice. Did you go to school for that?”

“You have to have lived mental health experiences. We do get trained, but we also have to have lived with some mental health challenges ourselves.”

And if that doesn’t make them uncomfortable, if they don’t glance away or squirm or do any of the body language symbols that means I’ve got them by the neck I mention my psychosis. That usually gets them.

What are the benefits and disadvantages to doing this? I don’t see many disadvantages. I of course wouldn’t do this in a professional setting were I applying for some big time job that isn’t mental health related, I’m aware most people have some serious misconceptions of who someone with mental health issues is. But I do it to people I meet or people I’m meeting because I’m not someone who sees my mental health as a disadvantage or something to hide. I see it as something to embrace, something to be fully, wholly comfortable with.

I don’t run down the street screaming I’m crazy, even if that’s what it sounds like. But if the topic comes up in conversation, I casually mention my struggles, and if people struggle with accepting them, that’s not really my problem.

How did I become comfortable with this? I wasn’t in high school. I didn’t like telling people I had anxiety around people because I thought it was a weakness and I didn’t want to expose my weakness for people to play target practice with. I didn’t start getting comfortable until I turned twenty and was forced to tell my boss at the amusement park I was working at so that I could get accommodations. The way he responded was very understanding, and I regret leaving that job without really giving any proper notice.

Sometimes all it takes is one moment in time.

Sometimes all it takes is a little risk.

People will react badly. And if you already know that, you’re already 10 steps ahead of everyone else. And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

If there’s one thing I sometimes wish I didn’t exist because of it, it would be social anxiety. For me, it’s more than the occasional nervous butterflies in the stomach when you get near a crowd, it’s more like the crippling can’t-do-anything-in-your-life kind of anxiety. Let me give an example from this very moment.

My new apartment is about 15 minutes from the main library branch in town, which is wonderful for someone like me, who is an avid reader. The problem is, I’ve been missing my library card since I was about 15 or 16. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except in order to get it reinstated, or get a new one, I have to talk to the librarian.

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Talk.

To.

The.

Librarian.

And some of you might be thinking–wait a second, you’re a peer worker. Isn’t talking kind of your job? And you’d be right. And I’d feel like an idiot, as usual. But you see, being a peer worker is quite different, I’m among my own people and the conversation is more of others talking than me hogging up the space. I can handle that. I can’t handle small talk. And speaking to a librarian about a lost library card is considered small talk to my brain.

So, instead I’m sitting in the library writing this post.

I brought a few dollars with me in case I do decide to get a new card, but with the way my head is spinning and my stomach is feeling, I most likely will not be doing that today. It’s not urgent, but I would like some free reading material.

So how do people live with this? There are some people who aren’t able to step foot outside of their door, and I was one of those people until a couple years ago. What has worked for me may not work for others, but I figured I’d share some things anyway.

add090525_1_560One thing that has helped me was getting to the root of my social anxiety. What makes me most anxious, what makes me least anxious, and where could this have started? For me, what makes me most anxious is crowds. All of the eyes and voices are overstimulating to me, and can aggravate my own voices, and I don’t like the idea of all of those eyes judging every ounce of me. Eyes bother me because I don’t want to be seen. I’ve never been seen before, not truly. When I was a kid I was taught not to be seen or heard by the actions of my parents. Therefore, when I am seen, physically or metaphysically, I am wholly uncomfortable.

What makes me least anxious is one-on-one communication. There is a lot less stimulation. There is still the risk of judgement, but there is always a risk for judgement and that is something I need to get comfortable with, not something other people need to fix. Judgement is within human nature, unfortunately, and some people don’t have the capacity to not judge. Therefore, I need to have the capacity to not care. And I’m working on that.

What fuels my social anxiety is my childhood, and perhaps a predisposition towards anxiety as well. I was yelled at a lot, chased, around a lot of drugs, alcohol, and anger. I wasn’t allowed to speak unless I was being spoken to directly, and not even then sometimes. Silence became my comfort because I knew I wouldn’t get attacked if I stayed silent.

In learning the truth behind my social anxiety I have been better able to manage it. I realize that that trauma is not everywhere. I am allowed to speak if I wish to, and allowed not to speak if I don’t wish to.

58809653-man-at-desk-overwhelmed-hard-work-stress-at-work-fatigue-at-work-vector-illustration-flat-designIt’s easier to say than do. It’s taken a few years of practice, a lot of tears, a lot of frustration, self-harm, suicide threats, hospitalizations–not all related to social anxiety, but in one way or another those experiences have pushed me further towards being less socially anxious, particularly being in the hospital where I have no choice but to “live” with other people.

What has also helped me has been telling people about my social anxiety. I tell people about my paranoia, about delusions, and my mild hallucinations and in doing that I’ve learned to really, really, REALLY not care what people think, because I’m forcing them to judge me. And if you tell someone that when a celebrity dies, their spirit lives with you, they are going to judge you, trust me.

But telling people about my social anxiety has helped them also become aware of what makes me uncomfortable and what makes me comfortable, and that has been really helpful for me. There are some people who don’t care, and there will always be people who don’t care. But of the few that do, it’s been really helpful.

Everyone is at a different level of their anxiety. Mine was severe, to the point where I didn’t leave my house and if I did I would cry, shake, and have a panic attack. It’s now to the point where I can pick and choose some days to step outside, have some fun, and explore my limits. It takes work and dedication. But severity can be reduced. And that’s today’s Mental Truth

So a recent hallucination of mine has been rather mild but annoying. It’s been a crow speaking to me, and shouting at me, particularly outside of my bedroom window. I also have a running theory that not only are ads following me on my phone and my computer, but they’re following me onto the televisions in the restaurants I’ve been visiting. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Anyway, this “hey” crow has the name “hey”, because that’s the way he gets my attention. Shouting “HEY. HEY. HEY. HEY. HEEEEEY. HEY.” until I acknowledge his presence. I haven’t seen him yet, but for some reason I know it’s a crow. It certainly isn’t a human. Maybe it’s a spirit calling from another realm, I haven’t given that much thought towards it because I knew for sure it was a crow: he always talks from outside up in a tree somewhere. It’s got to be a crow.

I do believe animals speak with us in their own language. I highly doubt they truly know English, but maybe this is a highly evolved crow who happens to have really gained a grasp on human form and language.

I wrote a quick poem about him. It goes something like this:

“Hey!” caws the crow, and I listen,

What wisdom

will he share today?

Will he show how a shadow dances with a mind of its own?

Or remind us how the sunrise ushers in a new spirit for the day?

 

“Hey!” caws the crow, and I listen

to whatever wisdom he shares with me today.

Will he warn me of the passerby–watch your back with that guy–or compliment

my outfit?

Will he watch the passing stars with me

and wonder about infinity?

There’s a lot this crow knows, you see.

 

And while I wonder what he’ll share

I have to remember

and be aware

that it may be fiction

what he wove into his diction

But “hey!” caws the crow,

and I still listen.

 

It’s impulsively penned, and certainly not great, but you get the jist of what I’m trying to say with it, I hope. Check out that poem and more writings on my Booksie account at this link here. 

 

What a shit title, you must be thinking. And you’d be right, that is a shit title, but I refuse to change it because it is my shit title and I own my shit titles. If I could see you, I’d stick my tongue out at you.

5227758-a-disgusted-girl-giving-a-bratty-expression-toward-the-cameraa-bratty-valley-girl-expressing-towardYou also may be wondering, like smart-asses always wonder, “why are you writing if it’s the bane of your existence?”

<—(How I imagine your face).

Simply because the bane of my existence also happens to be the thing I enjoy the most. Because I, apparently, enjoy suffering. Think about it. If you don’t suffer, you don’t really grow. And if I didn’t suffer as a writer, I wouldn’t grow as a writer. And we all know a stunted writer isn’t really a writer at all, but rather someone who writes.

It’s the bane of my existence because I can never keep things consistent. That was not meant to rhyme, but it did. What I mean is that I’ll take a hiatus for a while, kick myself for taking that hiatus, struggle coming from that hiatus, and then finally breaking through the clouds and pouring my heart into what I do. However, there’s always that looming cloud reminding me: you’re going to fall again. Hey, hey, guess what? *Initiate plummeting to death sounds*

Take this blog, for example. I had a lot of things going for me on this blog. I had consistent readers, consistent followers, I had a nice little fan base and things were moving along quite swimmingly. And then I went crazy and had to take a hiatus and lost all of it. Well, most of it. I lost the rights to the domain because I couldn’t afford it any longer, and I lost consistent readers because who the hell is going to wait almost a year for someone to stop being crazy so they can start writing again? People’s attention spans are NOT that long anymore. Including my own. I can barely pay attention to myself.

My fiction writing suffered. I stop writing short stories, I stopped jotting down ideas for short stories, and what initiated was a complete breakdown of the self. Writing is the bane of my existence because if I don’t do it, I’m at a complete loss. It’s like heroin. Warm, foreboding, deadly, and addicting. I use negative connotations to describe writing because, as you can see, I have a love-hate relationship with it.

not_funWriting isn’t all fun and games, people. Jesus. You can’t just slap down words in any old order you want and call it a piece. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been doing that for the last 3 years on this blog at all. I totally calculate each word that spears through my fingers.

On a side note, I just bought Schrodinger’s “What Is Life” book, because I barely learned about it yesterday and cannot believe I’ve never heard of it. It should be a good read.

See: attention span = shit.

And that’s another bane of my existence: reading. I love it. I mean, I really love it. I read The World According to Garp in one sitting because I was so enthralled by the story I couldn’t put it down. After that, I picked up a second book and read well into the night. I love reading. But it’s always been hard for me to focus on something like a book, unless it snatches my imagination like The World According to Garp, or I’m on some medication like Effexor that makes me highly focused.

But writing. Oh-ho, fuck writing. I love it, but fuck it. And who’s to say you can’t love what you hate? There’s got to be a reason you hate it, right? Maybe you hate it because you love it. Maybe you hate it because it brings out a side in you that you can never project otherwise. Maybe you hate it because you’re just in a spiteful mood, but really you love it. I don’t know your life, man.

That is why you should embrace what you hate. Embrace your enemies. Embrace that one teacher in school who always picked on you. Mine made me a better writer, even when she called mine shit. Embrace what infuriates you the most, and you may learn the reason it infuriates you is something deep within yourself, something you’ve been ignoring.  And that’s today’s mental truth.

 

I was on a TED talk binge this morning, and I watched Jim Al-Khalili talk about Quantum Biology. Although this is regarded as a relatively new field, it’s not. It’s been around since the 30’s/40’s and was really contemplated within Schrodinger’s book “What is life”.

Essentially Quantum Biology is the study of quantum properties acting within biological systems, like cells. Al-Khalili gave a pretty good summary of the way we have already provided some evidence of this, like the Robin which uses particles that are Quantum entangled in their retina to sense the magnetic poles around the earth–this is how they know which direction to fly during migration. I think this study is the most well known one. The other has to do with Quantum tunneling.

Quantum tunneling is this:

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Basically, a particle has the ability to pass through a physical barrier. This has been shown to be a process within the sun and is a prime occurrence in nuclear fusion, but it has also been shown to occur within enzyme processes. Enzymes are those little guys that help with digestion and metabolism. They keep processes speedy and accurate. It only makes sense that they would evolve a quantum process to help them keep up speed.

If you would like to watch the video and get a better summary/explanation than this, here is the link to Khalili’s Ted Talk. 

What I find so fascinating about this besides the quantum element is what it could mean were we to ever really understand what we’re seeing. Especially what it could mean for medicine. Could you imagine understanding the real quantum process within an enzyme that has been infected with a Cancer?

We’d obviously be dealing with a lot probability and uncertainty, but I think we’d have a greater chance at really understanding what’s going on with diseases like that were we to have somewhat of a better understanding of the process it goes through, and the processes it disrupts. I’m no doctor, and I’m certainly no physicist yet, but I do pride myself on being pretty logical and philosophical and there are a lot of ideas that come to mind when I watch videos like this.

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There are a few more lectures on YouTube about Quantum Tunneling if you’re interested. When I was in high school I got interested in physics and picked up a bunch of books on the subject. This was before I understood an ounce of math, so I didn’t really get that part of things, but I understood the theories. You don’t have to go to college to learn this kind of stuff if you’re dedicated.

Now that I have taken some physics classes, things are even more clearer. So, honestly, had I not read those books I did in high school, I probably would have had a much rougher time in the classes, and I still had a pretty rough time. Too much group work. I can’t group-think. I have to individual-think.

I think the point in all of this is don’t believe everything you see.

There are so many things out in this universe that we don’t understand.

I was listening to another Ted talk from a man talking about how consciousness is basically all of us hallucinating but agreeing on the hallucinations: that’s what we call reality. He said that the brain uses more information that it’s already gathered about the world to show you what you see, rather than actually seeing what’s in front of you, and therefore what we see and experience are kind of like “controlled” hallucinations. This got me thinking, as he mentioned psychosis and other altered states could then be considered “uncontrolled perceptions”. But because he is assuming that all perception comes from something we’ve already perceived, then what is it that the brain has perceived that makes some people see/hear demons, as yours truly does? What is it in this world, outside of our physical realm, that our brains can sense that we can’t?

You can watch that video here.

Consciousness and the world of quantum mechanics is so convoluted and complicated that anyone who claims to really understand any of it is certainly a liar. Anyone who claims they understand the process of hallucinations is also a liar.

Just food for thought: today’s mental truth.

So yesterday I was casually reading an article on schizophrenia and how the cortical thickness seen in the condition is directly related to duration and dosage of antipsychotic medication rather than the progression of a “disease”, and my cat started meowing. Nothing out of the ordinary really. A little spider scurried across the couch arm and I smashed it because I fucking hate spiders (sorry Buddhists, and sorry if there are any spiders from the spider dimension reading this, please don’t come and eat me) and I moved to the other side of the couch so that if there were any more spiders they wouldn’t come near me and I could see them coming. Again, nothing out of the ordinary.

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The only thing out of the ordinary is how content I felt with it all. My cat, the spider, the idea of a spider dimension, the article I was reading–well, I wasn’t really content with that, because that just pisses me off, but you get the point. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t sad, I just was, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I was talking to someone about how uncomfortable being content has been for me lately, because I’m so used to feeling depressed or suspicious about something or other, sometimes about nothing at all. Sometimes I’ll just sit in a depressed, suspicious heap and not understand an ounce where it’s coming from. But lately, besides crippling anxiety, I’ve felt okay. I’ve been pouring my heart out into some poetry, which is something I’ve never really done before, and I’m considering grouping them all together into a collection. I’ve personally never liked poetry, or written a lot of it, but lately I’ve realized how similar it is to writing a story, only the language and metaphors and similes are done in an equally beautiful way.

I’ve also started comparing psychosis, mine at least, to poetry. And I’ll explain that at a later date, as soon as I figure out exactly how to do that.

I think I wrote in a different post about contentment, but there was a lack of feeling in it because I hadn’t got into my groove yet. Now I’m back in my groove and finding my voice again, so I can talk fucking eloquently about my experiences. Are you ready, kids?

Fuck depression.

That’s eloquent, right?

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I don’t know if my psychosis is related to my depression, it very well could be, but it seems to be more consistent across the board than the depression, so it might not be. We’ll see what the psychiatrist says on our next visit: I would like her to tell me what she’s diagnosing me with, besides PTSD which was already established. I don’t want to have to sneak a look on her computer like I had to with the county psychiatrist. Did I tell you all about that? She wouldn’t tell me shit, so when she left the room I sat in her chair and read all the notes she wrote about me, from the “denial” of substance use, to the “ruling out” of schizophrenia. If you’re wondering how I didn’t get caught, it’s because she was wearing heels and walking back and forth across tile. I knew when she was leaving and when she was coming back. She had diagnosed me with Psychosis NOS and Depression and GAD. My current psychiatrist has since wiped that all off the table and added PTSD as a for-sure diagnosis.

And this is why I am not someone who advocates that people need to be diagnosed. It’s just a bunch of back and forth malarkey. Everything overlaps each other so frequently there’s no telling if what you’ve been diagnosed with is even accurate. So you end up with a list of diagnoses and a list of medications and you’re wondering who you are, why you’re so fucked up, and yada, yada. Why go through all that trouble? Why not just be told you’re struggling and these are a list of options to help you through that struggle?

Seems a lot easier and less damaging to me.

I also recognize that for some people a diagnosis really does solidify things for them.

And if that’s the case for you, be proud of it and own it.

You’re unique.