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.

Our Journey

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It’s a journey to learn how to love. It’s a journey to learn how to listen, how to interact, how to develop. It’s a journey to learn how to accept and hold on. For some of the older, less technologically savvy folks, it’s a journey to learn how to use Internet Explorer, then an even harder journey to learn why Google Chrome is better. For some of the younger, less open and honest folks, it’s a journey to learn where their place in the world is.

Living is a journey and I’m a firm believer that death isn’t the destination, but just a simple continuation. I’m a firm believer that our physical bodies encase a spirit more free and universal than the limited capacity of our physical brain could fathom.

Religion is not the only way to be spiritual, and science isn’t the only way to understand facts. Given the recent research and mysterious observations in quantum physics these days, it’s evident to me that stories of cultures from the past are ringing more and more true: we don’t just live in the universe, we are the universe.

So, is what you see really what you get? Or are you getting what you see because you believe you saw it? In other words, are coincidences really coincidences, or are they happening because a portion of you is calling out for them to happen?

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I don’t have these answers. I may be completely off my rocker; I’m sure many have thought that. I’m sure many thought the first person to claim mental health struggles were perhaps something woven in experience or genetics or brain matter rather than demonic possession were off their rocker. I’m sure many thought the first few to come forward and proclaim those struggling with hearing voices and mood swings could actually live medication/treatment free were off their rocker.

We could go back hundreds of years, in whichever culture you like, and find one person deemed insane for a thought perpendicular to the others.

There aren’t many answers in life and sometimes I feel this is because we create questions the universe never intended to have answers for. I think it never intended to have answers for these man-made questions because, to the universe, neither question nor answer matters. One day we will all be lying in a bed or on the floor or in the arms of another struggling against our nature for one more breath, just one more, to be conscious around our loved ones for another five seconds.

So next time someone gives you a dirty eye, before you get angry, think about how much that glance really doesn’t mean. Next time someone laughs at you or calls you crazy or says your ridiculous or cyber-attacks you, think about how much they’re missing in life; to focus so much negative energy on one person must take a lot of positive energy they could have been putting into themselves and the community around them.

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I don’t have much more to say tonight. I sat around a dinner table with guests of house and coworkers and ate a meal all of us cooked together. We all laughed and complimented each other and shared a moment of relief from whatever hell we all experience in our mind. We took the energy we use to beat ourselves up, the energy we use to fight the anger, the depression, the anxiety, the voices, loneliness, the hopelessness and put it into something we could all share and come together over. And that one moment of coming together I glanced around the table at the woman now volunteering who, not only a month before I’d met in the psych hospital where she barely spoke above a whisper, and I glanced at the other guests, each with their own story on their shoulders, and I smiled genuinely for the first time in a long time.

This is what I was missing. This is what she, the volunteer, was missing. This is what each of us was missing until we all found each other.

We’re all one in the same. We’re not “republicans” vs “democrats”, we’re not “mentally ill” vs “sane”, we’re not “smart” vs “stupid”.  We all come from the stars, and we each have a story worth sharing.

That being said, I’ll leave you a quote from a healing book my Native American Lit. professor gave me a gift a couple semesters ago, entitled: Prayer To Find It Everywhere:

There’s so much missing, so many places the magic goes awry, but let me find it everywhere, in cross-country restaurants, waitresses with an easy smile, in people at crosswalks and crossroads, everywhere, each day at least in little ways. Let me not focus on what can’t be done, but on what’s here, who’s here trying, doing it, offering it freely, for their own desires. Let me find these people and spread their tale too, of how this came to be, of why it is, of what we must see and do. Let it fall easily, anyway it can, before my open eyes. Let the simple reach me, and let me answer from the heart. Let me return each greeting in respect, always knowing how far we’ve come and how much it takes to bring it all together, every time. Let me find it in the midday train whistle, and the distant barking dog. It’s good from here, and it keeps on going everywhere it needs to. Let this be.

–An excerpt from the book “Sam Woods, American Healing”.

#StopAllHumans2k16, UU 203, across from #StopWhitePeople2k16 UU 202

There comes a point in every blogger’s career that she must step back for a moment and remind herself of the beginning. Granted, my first three posts on this website were rather sickening in my eyes, so I would like to get back to the dry humor, sarcastic banter, and industry bashing cynicism. With all of the recent stress I haven’t had a chance to have a good laugh.

So I would like to give a shout out to Binghamton University in New York for making it a possibility for the spark in the ten facial muscles specified to stretch my mouth into a small smile.

“StopWhitePeople2k16”.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

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Let’s stop and think. How big are their balls to name a course that?

Obviously they’re coming under a lot of fire; I hope they’re located near a fire station.

I wonder if this course is available through Distance Learning online courses?

Anyway, the point of the class besides bragging rights of having one of their classes listed in the news is apparently to provide students with a deeper understanding of prejudice, privileged, and diversity. It’s for Resident Advisers–you know, the people who help squash issues in the dorm halls.

The administrators are defending the three RA’s that are instructing the course. They said they verified the class is not Anti-White and that the name was taken from a common, ironic hashtag on Twitter.

Twitter is now creating college level courses.

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How many signs does the Bible say we will see before the Apocalypse? This is probably one of them.

Critics say it’s creating more of a divide, more segregation, that it’s simply “counterproductive at best”.

To that I say, well, welcome to the world. Everything we seem to do is counterproductive at best, when you get down to the bottom of the barrel. Someone, somewhere is always going to take something either up the ass or opposite of how you intended him/her to take it. For example, my boyfriend and I were discussing this on drive last week. He is of Mexican descent, and by now you all know my ethnicity is mixed.

If we were to have children, they would have a bit of the entire world in them.

We went to different high schools. His high school had, for the first time, a Latino Graduation separate from the regular high school graduation to recognize all of the Latino/Latina students who managed to get a diploma. Obviously the intention of the school was to honor those students who may have had it harder than other students due to economic status, due to language barriers, or due to working/supporting the household with their family.

The intention was good. Through the eyes of those who are Hispanic, it was great to feel honored. And I think that is okay.

Through the eyes of someone like me, through the eyes of a mixed student who was completely ignored, who was placed into college prep only because they assumed I was hispanic, who was only one of two ethnic students in all the advanced placement courses, I see it as another form of racial segregation.

If you want to do a race specific graduation, do it for all races that attend your school.

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Hey, wait, . . . wouldn’t that just be a regular graduation?

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If your focus is instead on low income students, on students who have troubling family lives or language barriers, don’t just do it for those who are low income, troubled, hispanic students. Don’t just do it for those who are low income, troubled, black students. Don’t just do it for those who are low income, troubled, white students. And yes, those exist.

I learned in my college prep course that students from all walks of life have family troubles, mental health issues, and low income families, and it wasn’t from a diversity textbook. My senior year of high school my college prep course got its first two white students. One girl I know had a bit of a rocky home life, the other shared with me her mental health struggles with anxiety and depression as well. Both were very talented; one was a wonderful people person and great at theater. The other was academically gifted I felt, with her AP calculus and physics and English and history and everything.

They weren’t ethnic, but both have their story of struggling. It made me wonder how many fucking kids in this race-obsessed system get left behind, thrown under the rug, disregarded, because some administrators want to pay attention to the statistics related to race rather than taking a true, unbiased look at the real students in front of them.

So to Binghamton University I will say yes, the course name is another way of segregating people. But races are segregated within each other. We have a lab at my college with a name in Spanish, I don’t know what it means, but it’s really encouraged towards Hispanic high school students to join. They get field trips, help with classes, and accommodations.

It’s open to every race.

It’s encouraged towards Hispanics at every possible chance, including high school.

I’m not calling my college racist because they aren’t. Their intentions are good. But there are many more people, not just ethnic people, who could use the help that they  encourage towards specific races.

So before we start pointing fingers at Binghamton University, let’s first take a moment to understand what they’re doing isn’t very different from what everyone else is doing. The only difference is “white people” is in the title. 

Ten Quadrillion Ways To Be Fucked Up

Sometimes you just want to wake up, go online, and not get bombarded with stupidity. All the time you should realize this as an improbable feat.

You try to read a serious article about someone in a car accident and all you see is the ad for “Precious lost weight, now she’s a hottie!” or some fatsist, sexist bull.

Then you make the mistake of clicking on the “I hear voices mumbling, am I going crazy?” question on Yahoo Answers and find an extended, wanna-be-intellectual answer of “that sounds like schizophrenia and here are my dumb reasons to why I think I have the right to make that comment”.

Now some fifteen year old female is running around thinking she has schizophrenia because some loon on the internet told her so.

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A reminder for us all: We’ve got to be careful what words we release into the ether of the internet. I shall repeat something I feel I repeat much too often to people: hearing voices is not indicative of schizophrenia. There are many different types of auditory and visual hallucinations, and only a very small fraction of them can be categorized and attributed to a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Did you know you can hallucinate merely from being stressed out?

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Shocker!

There is this overwhelming belief in our society that something “abnormal” must be disordered or a sign of a “broken brain”. I don’t know where it’s coming from. Seriously, someone find the answer for me and link it to my blog in the comments below.

But for God’s sake, don’t get the answer off Yahoo. If you link me to yahoo, I will personally hack your Facebook and post graphic Hentai gifs to all your family members.

It really all comes down to this idea that we’ve got it all figured out, that how the majority of the population perceives things in the world is the only way to perceive the world, and if your perceptions are different, if your brain integrates information with a twist to it, than you and your wacko brain are in the wrong and we will make sure you’re aware of how wrong you are. And we’ll drill it into your head until you know you’re wrong and we’ll make sure you know how not acceptable you are. So along with your weird perceptions of what we label as reality, you also have to deal with being disrespected.

And we’ll make sure none of us get on your level to try and relate because, well, fuck you, you’re below us.

That attitude isn’t everywhere, but it is in many places, and I’m sure those of us who struggle with our mental health could pinpoint it somewhere at least once in in our lives, whether it be from family, doctors, psychologists, neurologists, whoever.

6ddI gave up on the internet today. I closed all the tabs, put my computer to sleep, and sat wondering how people with such strong beliefs of “mental disorders make you insane” aren’t also labeled as delusional. 1) it’s an irrational thought 2) you can’t talk them out of it and 3) when asked, they have no real evidence to support their claim other than the media and their unintelligible link of mental illness to violent crime and since when is the media a credible source?

Then I got bored of trying to catch all the thoughts whizzing past my eyes, so I turned the computer back on. The internet Gods have been merciful on me and presented me with two wonderful articles from Scientific American and a website called “Medium.com” that kind of rips off flipboard but I’ll ignore that.

Links to both articles can be found here and here.

Both are in relation to the idea of consciousness and theoretical physics and I promise I will quickly link all of these ideas back to the reason why I say there is no one true reality or one true/right way of perceiving said reality. One article believes the concept and action of our consciousness may never be solved, but perhaps it could be merged with computers and bionics–as soon as neuroscientists can crack the “neural code”.

Now, I’m no neuroscientist, nor am I a particle/theoretical physicist, but the idea that a neural code (meaning a comprehensive pattern the brain/mind follows that results in an algorithm describing the function of consciousness and every single neural network in the brain) would be reduced to something as simple as a couple action potential spikes with specific milivolts as they’re suggesting sounds kind of . . . well, dumb.

That’s like saying  “specific sounds have specific frequencies, and those frequencies are are the reason for the pitch of the sound” . . . without taking into account the particles that allow all of that to happen.

If you’re studying sound and how it syncs to the entirety of the universe, wouldn’t you need to dig a little deeper than that? Kind of how, you know, consciousness is everything to us?

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But a good point they made is the amount of neural synaptic connections in the brain: A quadrillion. If it averages ten action potentials per second, that’s ten quadrillion operations a second. Can you fathom that without making your brain hurt?

Oh, the irony.

At ten quadrillion action potentials per second, don’t you think there’s going to be some several million of us who perceive things different than the other several million? If each brain is like a finger print, don’t you think we’re all going to see things through our own eyes and we have no right to think that our vision is the only kind of vision?

Does it seem a little silly yet to think that ONE “imbalance” of serotonin is what has ruined your life without other factors playing into it all? Does it make sense why they find some people with the same differences in serotonin as you that are not depressed or not anxious? Does it make sense that everything you’ve read about imbalances are basically just loosely educated guesses?

Does it make sense that hearing voices isn’t indicative of schizophrenia yet?

There’s no such thing as a perfect brain. There’s no such thing as a broken brain. There are just brains. Love your brain. It does so much for you.

Next time you and your brain quarrel, just remember there’s a little mass of squishy tissue with billions of neurons scrunched together just above your brain stem that gives you the freedom to never have to remind yourself to breathe. It lets you enjoy the portions of your life that you’ve enjoyed. Don’t piss it off. 

In The Name Of Remembrance

Often I don’t speak about serious topics on here that are unrelated to mental health, but this topic, this topic is a disgusting exception.

As every good story starts, I was browsing Facebook this morning and came across an NPR article on the current Pope visiting Auschwitz concentration camp memorial museum. The article is here if you would also like to read it: click.

I have always been aware that the former concentration camps like Dachau and Auschwitz were open to tours. I went on Google Earth to creepily ride past in my virtual google car to see buses upon buses upon buses of school children and regular people walking into the Auschwitz entrance. It looked as if the whole of the Polish education system was there.

Across the street were some Restaurants and a Hotel. Cool bro.

After reading about the way both former concentration camps choose to educate those who come to mourn, to remember, and to learn, I came to the understanding that “tour” wasn’t really an appropriate word. It’s a memorial experience. It’s a “path of remembrance” (that’s the name of a specific route you can walk through at Dachau).

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They Have Historical Information Signs Along The Path, Hence The Name.

I respect these people for that. They take what has happened in their past and to make sure it will never happen again, they teach people about it. They have survivors share their story, and it’s part of their children’s education–extensively. A lot of Germany and Poland has healed as a result, they have been for the last 50 years. Say what you will about Germans, they’re not so ashamed of their own history that they hide it under the rug or play it down.

Reading all of this got me thinking about the United States. I wondered how many of the old slavery plantations are still resurrected today, and if we have any similar programs. There was a portion of my heart that hoped, with naivete, that America would have the scant amount of decency needed to partake in something as healing as the aforementioned. The other portion of my heart knew better.

The other portion of my heart knew with the amount of race-related turmoil going on in the United States today, there was no way in hell any amount of healing from the trauma of the south has happened.

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August 12, 1959

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February 19, 2016 Source

The first plantation that popped up in my search was Pebble Hill. I’ve heard of it, but don’t know much about the history of the slaves. According to research, the land for Pebble hill was bought from the Creek Indians. Fraud and scandal was used later to steal the rest of the land and leave many Creek homeless.

I read this information on a Southern University website, particularly this one: click here. I admire them for adding the Indians into their history, many people do not. However, I critique their title of “African-American’s at pebble hill”. I critique their explanation that “African American’s helped build pebble hill”.

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Pebble Hill As It Stands Today

Those were slaves. Not “African-Americans”. Say what it is. Not what you wish it was.

That website also contains a list of families who lived there and took over the plantation, if you’re interested.

Continuing my search, I came across a website with an article where you could “Tour the South’s Best Historic Homes”. Pebble Hill was listed.

In fact, under the “Inspiring Ideas” category, it described the house as: “This classic plantation [with] breezy, colorful interiors with chic chinoiserie elements that feel au courant.”

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Now.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

Plantations did not kill as many as Hitler’s and Stalin’s concentration camps. Unless you include the generations to come after that. Particularly if you include the Native Americans . . . in which case, we’re at about the same level of indecency and murder as both Hitler and Stalin. So I suppose the only difference is ours was systematic and generational, and their was all at once.

To describe an area where people’s lives were shattered, where people served and got whipped and hanged and had to pick cotton and run your fucking house for you because you were too lazy of a piece of shit to do your own house work and take care of your own kids or pick your own cotton, as “breezy, [with] colorful interiors . . . that feel au courant” is a disgrace. Whoever has done this needs to feel the shame they deserve.

My anger fueled me to go onto their website. That’s where I learned weddings are held there.

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“I’d love to get married in a concentration camp one day” said no one ever. Why? Because that would be fucking DISRESPECTFUL, that’s why.

“I’d love to get married on your mother’s grave” said no one ever.

Would you do this shit at a concentration camp?

(#ConcentrationCampSelfie)

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No, Because You’re Not An Insensitive Prick.

Than don’t do it at a plantation.

Their “history” section on their plantation webpage talks only about the owners, and never the slaves.

Google reviews reiterated that the house was beautiful. A few commented on how they never mention any history of the slaves or give any types of remembrance for them. One individual who wished to at least see the grave sites had to ASK DIRECTIONS to find them, because it’s not included in the tour.

Texan textbooks described the slave trade as people bringing “millions of workers”.

The publishing company offered to send stickers to cover up the word “workers” in the printed books while they worked on more accurately depicting the slave trade.

The author of the article I read said it perfectly: “It will take more than that to fix the way slavery is taught in Texas textbooks”. You can read more about that here: click. It’s worth the read, I promise.

raf220x200075ffafafaca443f4786It’s not about political correctness. I’m not being PC principal here. It’s not even about bashing the South. I just want the truth. Don’t cover up the truth with a slightly, less severe way of telling it because then it becomes a lie. And if you want your country to be built on lies, than don’t act surprised or disgusted when citizens start rising up against you.

We need to give these people remembrance so their spirits can rest and ours can be healed. Stop beating around the bush, stopping putting stickers over the things you don’t want to read: we all know what happened, we might as well talk about it.

The goal isn’t to forget. It’s to remember. 

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The Point Of A Respite House

The majority of what you all have heard about this new job I have is the training we went through.

Tonight I figured I’d let you in on the alternative to a mental hospital. The alternative that is severely underfunded, understaffed, and few and far between.

I took you all through each day of that. In fact, the last post I published on the subject matter of IPS, which you can read here, was noticed by the organization and they published it on their Facebook page.

Somehow they found my identity. I’ll worry about that later. 

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What I think I did not mention, was that it wasn’t so much of a training as it was a chance to experience a different way of connecting with people, a way of personalizing your time with someone, a way to establish mutuality where both people involved learn and grow with each other.

It’s something not prevalent within the mental health system (I.e, Hospitals), I’m sure we can all agree on.

If you’ve read my past blogs, you’re familiar with the fact that I’ve spoken often of, and started this blog on the concept of STIGMA. Particularly the concept of SELF-STIGMA.

The concept of “I’m so sick, I’m broken”.

The concept of “I’m so broken, I can’t be fixed”. 

The concept of “being fixed”. 

Whatever any of that means.

But most importantly, the concept of self-advocacy. The idea that you are both your worst enemy and best friend, and that no one understands you better than you. That if you don’t put the work in, if you don’t take a step back and see what part YOU play in your behavior, your actions, and your thoughts, than nothing is ever going to change, regardless of your diagnosis.

As you know, we often stigmatize ourselves and each other within the mental health community, sometimes more often than those on the outside do. I read a great post on this issue by a fellow blogger over at A Schizoaffective Story, and if you’d like to read his post on this issue, click here. I think he does a wonderful job of being concise but illuminating some of the main struggles of this stigma within the mental health community. I hope he doesn’t mind me linking this post.

This is where a respite house comes in.

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Let me explain how this respite house works.

  1. We do not restrict you. In doing so, we are giving you a lot of freedom and are being vulnerable to manipulation. In that openness, we invite you, tacitly, silently, to also be open. Usually it works. I notice how trained some people are coming from hospitals and the county where they have to ask to do everything: “can I use this dish? Can I color before I go to bed? Can I sit outside to eat?” And being bombarded by these questions saddens me. “Can I color before I go to bed?” 
  2. We are 18+
  3. We are free, via government funding. Small government funding.
  4. We have 6 available beds. 
  5. You can go for a walk whenever you want. You can come and go as you please, as long as you are home at night so you can stay overnight.
  6. We take field trips.
  7. We do not take care of your medication, we do not handle your food, we do not answer the guest phone, we do not treat you like a child. We do not lock you up, medicate you, or shout at you.
  8. Most importantly, for God’s sake, We are your peers. We have been suicidal, we have attempted suicidal, we have been depressed. We have heard voices, we’ve seen hallucinations, we’ve road the roller-coaster of Bipolar, and the sudden terror of PTSD. We’ve had panic attacks, we’ve had anxiety, we’ve struggled with Ritualistic OCD, intrusive thoughts, and serious mental pain. We are NOT clinical. We are not doctors, we are not psychologists, we are not therapists or social workers or counselors. When you tell us you want to kill yourself, we don’t shove a needle in your arm. We don’t pound a diagnosis on your head. We take you out back under the tree where the birds are chirping and we say: “That’s heavy. I’ve been there. What’s been going on?”
  9. We are support. We’re not your parents. We’re not your doctor.
  10. When you ask “what should I do?” We don’t act like we have the answer if we don’t. In fact, we say “I’m still struggling with that. To be honest, I have no clue. But . . .let’s try and do this together”.

What we do is create a community of people. We’ve all struggled, we are all still struggling.

When I interviewed for a job at this place, I was a little off put by the manager. When he read my cover letter (I believe I included the anxiety, depression, and schizotypy), he said we had things in common. He speaks very softly, but packs so much authenticity and meaning into one word I was momentarily dazed. He told me I wasn’t alone and that we were all in this together (something along those lines) and I didn’t know how to respond.

In all honesty, my first thought was “what the fuck is this? You gunna fatten me up and cook me or some shit?”. 

In response to true kindness and understanding, I went on the defense.

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Because that’s not the treatment a lot of us are used to. We’re not used to support. We’re not used to people relating. We’re not used to connection on that level.

We’ve gotten used to the idea of “help” being someone trying to fix us, someone trying to give us the answers to our never ending questions, someone we speak to in order to up our medication dosage and spend 10 minutes asking us how the medication has been acting lately.

And then we wonder why we keep ending up in the same places over and over again.

This concept of a respite house is the future of mental health. This is the direction we need to go. This is what funding needs to go towards. Community, mutuality, support.

Not a traumatizing moment of being smacked onto a bed and strapped at the ankles and wrists.

Not a person of authority to tell you you’re broken, or to reinforce the sense of helplessness you already feel.

We’re here to tell you you’re not alone. We’re here to be vulnerable too: to cry with you and tell you how frightening and uncertain things are. We’re here to be human towards you.

This is the program, alongside IPS, that isn’t talked about. It’s not advertised. It’s not given as an option to many people.

And that needs to change.

 

 

Learn To Love It

Good evening, all.

Evening for me, probably morning for you, afternoon maybe. I know I get a lot of views from people across the world (which, holly hell, thank you so much for reading, even if all you get to is this sentence and you think *fuck, she’s boring me already* and click out. You’re still awesome to me. -cue thumbs up and winky face-)

Good -enter time of day here-, all.

I just thought I’d take a moment out of my night time to discuss something interesting with you all.

The idea of positive and negative in this world.

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We’ve seemed to really . . . well, blatantly, fuck it up.

We’ve got this misconception that “negative” means “bad” and “positive” means “good”and that one is desirable and the other should be exonerated.

At this point all you word nerds out there who are frantically googling the word “negative” for the origins just ready to blast me in the comments saying “negative is literally the definition of bad, idiot”.

But what you will find is word nerds who care much more about semantics than your whining and will kindly, but perhaps aggressively and arrogantly correct you: negative is simply the denial of something, the absence or something. Positive can be seen as the affirmation of something.

Rather than continue the tradition of the original meanings of the word, we’ve transformed them into tools to use against and/or shame people into thinking or behaving how we think they should.

People tell you to “think positively”.

They tell you to “not think so negatively”.

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Let’s break these phrases down a little, shall we?

When you say “ugh, this really sucks, I’m so depressed, I just can’t stop all these negative thoughts” and you get that horrendous reply of “try and think more positively about things”, do you realize what that person is actually suggesting?

Before you punch them in the face, think about this, think about how we’re all misunderstanding the terms we use on a daily basis.

By them suggesting you think more “positive”, they’re essentially saying “don’t think negatively”.

Hmm. So how do you do that?

You don’t.

You don’t ever think negative without having thought positive at some point in your life. Humans are like magnets: we have a positive pole and a negative pole. We don’t have one without the other, because their very definitions imply there is an opposite.

hiding-negative-people-longThe goal isn’t to ignore negativity. The goal isn’t to pretend it’s not there and just think more positively. Do you know what that’s called? Do you know what ignoring the “negative” or more properly, the “bad” and focusing only on the bright side of everything? That’s called repression. And if you struggle with your mental health, repression will only escalate both.

When you have thoughts in your head that feel like they are overwhelming, that feel like they are horrible and “negative” and they’re pressuring you to end your existence because, fuck it, nothing goes right, everything is bad . . .

That’s fine. That’s fine and you will make it through that. It’s okay to feel fucking worthless and stupid and horrible and dumb and it’s okay to be self-loathing. It’s okay to HURT. 

You’re human. You’re going to. And if you try and avoid it, it will only hit you ten times harder.

What those people are suggestion when they ask you to think more positively is to essentially ignore the negative and focus on only one side, the bright side.

This isn’t to say succumb to those feelings. It’s only an encouragement to talk those things out. The place I’m working now just avoided a horrible incident of suicide because of auditory hallucinations with the same tactic. It took four days of a lot of talking, a lot of human connection, but to see the smile on someone’s face once more when they realize the people around them have helped them through the negativity, to realize that they themselves can survive when things are horribly rough, is priceless.

They don’t tell people “don’t think so negative”; they don’t tell people “It will help if you think more positively”. They don’t say “oh, sorry, you’re sick, this is your reality from now on”. They tell people “We’re here for you, you can make it through this, and let’s talk it out”.

No hospital intervention. No cops. No forced medication. Just human connection. 

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That one incident to me is greater than anything psychiatry or psychology has shown me thus far in my studies. 

It’s not about being negative or positive, it’s about acknowledging both and working through both.

Now all of you who didn’t believe me when I said mental “disorders” aren’t a disease, to those who didn’t believe me when I said it’s not only a “chemical imbalance”, to those of who you still believe you are doomed to live life stuck behind the idea of “mental illness”, I’ll be giving you various, very general (i.e, no names, or any information about people for confidentiality reasons) real life examples proving you wrong throughout the months, just like the one above.

The reason I say we’ve essentially fucked up by thinking negativity is something bad is we end up wanting to avoid it. We end up wanting it to leave us and trying to force it to leave us. We want it out and we want it gone. We just want to be happy.

But in all that muck we are unable to see by trying to force a part of humanity away from ourselves can easily get in the way of our own happiness. If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to scream, then scream. If you want to talk to someone, talk. Get it out. Don’t ignore it, don’t leave it there to fester, don’t put yourself through more pain.

Negativity isn’t bad. It’s not something you should avoid or hate. It’s something you should embrace. It’s something you need to be comfortable with experiencing, or else life is going to be straight hell.

When it is present in your life, it is there for a reason. It’s your choice whether or not you want to ignore it and hope it will go away, or if you want to say “Well, here we go again” and work through it.

It won’t ever go away. You’re a human, not an inanimate object.

By today’s psychological standard, we practically need to be a robot with little feeling both negative or positive to be considered “normal”.

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This is Pepper, the “emotional” robot. With all the right emotions, at the appropriate times, with the appropriate intensity to their standards. This is what they want you to be. Here’s your role model kids, soak it up. 

So don’t be so negative about your negativity. It loves you. You need to learn to love it back.

Taoists will understand what I’m saying. It’s all about interconnectedness, am I right? No good without evil, no positive without negative. You need the definition of the other to know about its counterpart.

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Controversial Concept Monday

I should make that a thing.

Here’s a common misconception about my “mental illness”. It’s a disease.

#ControversialConcept coming up. Everyone, grab your mouth guards, put on your boxing gloves, run a lap around the track until your huffing and puffing results in a calf cramp because you didn’t stretch before hand, fall on the ground, and let me put my foot on your back and explain something real quick.

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And before I go any further, I’ll start with my usual (usually unofficial) disclaimer: I do not in any way deny what we feel. The mood swings are real. The hallucinations are real. The pain is real. The anxiety is real. The panic attacks are real. The obsessive, compulsive behaviors are real. The struggle, of all things, is very, very real. They are not something we can turn off and on like a switch. They don’t just “get better” because we want them to get better. We can’t just “push through” like what we experience doesn’t exist.

What we experience does exist and it is very, very real.

What I will always, until the end of my days, fucking put on blast is how we describe what we experience. What I will always put on blast is how we act like everyone else needs to change how they view us (which they do) without addressing how we need to change how we view ourselves with the same urgency.

Just like your average child with mental health issues, I knew I was different from the other children, and I knew how, but I didn’t have a name for any of it. I knew people who were shy, but they didn’t seem to isolate themselves like I did. I knew people who were “weird”, but they didn’t seem to think of things the way I did. I knew people who did things alone but they didn’t seem to adore it in the way I did.

I knew people who didn’t trust people, but they didn’t seem to create theories around it and ruin relationships over it.

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I knew people who were sad, but it didn’t seem to drive them to write suicide letters and self harm.

I knew people who were confident sometimes, but they didn’t seem to think they could cure a major disease by reading a textbook and scrambling down random theories like I did.

It was high school I decided to do research on myself. I started reading. I read about dopamine decreases and increases. I read about serotonin (back before the study came out that reaffirms serotonin is so complicated neither an increase or a decrease can be solely blamed for anything)  and medications for all types of disorders. I liked to ignore the symptoms of “more severe” disorders because, although I met the “Criteria”, I knew I, as a 14 year old, wasn’t qualified to diagnose myself. I could never know about me what the professional would know about me.

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Right?

I was 17 when I realized something major: it was rare someone with one of these apparent mental disorders was in the field of psychology. It was rare they were psychiatrists. It was rare they were clinical psychologists.

That left a large margin of people (bipolar, schizophrenia, and otherwise) at the hands of people with little to no experience but their trusty little textbook case studies. I died a little inside.

Then I pulled a Kenny McCormick and I kept dying. I died when I found out the companies researching funded their own research. I died when I learned many old medications are restructured and then sold as new medication with little or no difference for a hundred times higher of a price. I died when I learned, from experience, we don’t have a lot of say when we’re up against this system. I died when my therapist was required to recommend me for medication or else my insurance wouldn’t cover my fucking visit. I died when I heard stories of toddlers being force fed anti-psychotics for fussy behavior.

I died when I realized this was a business.

But most of all I died when I heard people referring to themselves as sick. Because when I was growing up, in my own world, absent from my peers, I understood I was different. I hated myself often for it, but I loved myself as well. And I only started seeing it all as a problem until I was told it was. And even then, at 17, I was beyond a point where I would believe their point of view.

I died when people who didn’t know one thing about biochemicals, about epigenetics, about environment, about neurotransmitters or how no one, I don’t give a fuck if they are SUPERMAN, can EVER trace ONE neurotransmitter and act like that’s the problem, agreed that a “chemical imbalance” is causing their “disease”.

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I died when the studies coming out of Stanford and other such institutions disputing the evidence supposedly “found” for a chemical imbalance got shoved to the back burner.

I’m sure NAMI has told you more about your imbalance than it has about how much of a very poor theory it is.

My inspiration for this post came from this article on The Mighty: Click Here.

I respect this contributor. I respect The Mighty fully. I simply disagree with her statement here:

The brain is a physical organ, with physical components, one that resides within a physical body, and when things go awry, one that needs very physical solutions. So many people make the mistake of treating this physical problem with spiritual or emotional solutions, as I did, for decades and with little success. There may be periods of relief, yes. But the problems return.

I don’t disagree with her because she is “Wrong”, because she’s not. The brain is a physical organ, just like the heart.

Ask anyone with a member of their family diagnosed with a heart disease (my father has congestive heart failure) and you will know they are often told take this medication and reduce stress.

There’s a physical component, and an environmental component. Your heart reacts to life just as your brain does.

To act as if there is only one component to your physical health or your mental health?

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It’s true, we can’t control everything we experience. I’m not disputing that. I’m disputing calling that a problem. I’m disputing the idea of that being caused by solely a physical malfunction in every human being.

Your brain is not like other organs. It harbors consciousness. It harbors personality. It integrates every ounce of information you receive, even subconsciously. It can’t be treated like the other organs. Even THEY respond positively to environmental changes. And as much as I would love to agree with all of you who say we need to start treating mental illness like physical illness . . .I can’t. Because we already have been.

We call it an illness, a sickness, a “disease” and we make you believe it because, fuck it, scientists signed that shit.

We show you the scans of the brain and tell you what it means. We don’t tell you our study was only of 30 people and only for four weeks. That’s certainly enough time to make a generalization for the whole of the mental health biological basis, am I right?

We won’t tell you the studies fell through when people tried to replicate it.

We get rid of the psychological component and any interpretations based on human common sense, and focus on the biology we don’t even understand. 

We make money off you. 

That’s treating mental health like physical health.

At 15, I thought studying psychiatry would help me reach those people who didn’t have peers in the system. I then learned I would be required to pay attention to their symptoms, not them. I would be required to do what the book said, what the insurance companies said, and that’s what I was going to 10-12 years of fucking school for, to be a zombie, when I have more experience with mental health issues than the fuckers on the DSM-V board.

If they think I’m someone known for playing by the rules, they should read my previous post. 

How Sick is Sick?

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It’s the end of the week at the IPS training and besides being mentally exhausted, I’m slightly conflicted.

Tomorrow I have to do a two to four minute presentation. He said it can be anything, you can just stand in front of the group and talk about what IPS means to you. That’s essentially what I’m doing unless I come up with some kind of fanatical art project. I thought of doing a poem, but let’s be honest here folks, I’m no poet.

That being said, a major thing that resonated with me throughout this week is the idea of looking at what the clinical setting calls “symptoms” as experiences or reactions.

brainWe all know the biological model is not as sound as they say it is. And we all know that biology and neurology cannot be taken out of the equation when talking about mental health; that’s like leaving out the division of cells in the growth of cancer. But do we know how much we rely on the idea of being biologically or genetically sick?

Have you ever been asked that?

 

Have you ever thought about your “symptoms” in the light of something else?

I’ll give you a personal example and a separate example from a brilliant TED talk I watched a few years back, one the speaker today showed us all.

When I graduated high school. I was the furthest from depressed: I was finally off the medication I was put on, I didn’t have to get held back because I skipped so many classes, I didn’t have to wake up at 4 in the morning anymore to feel comfortable at school, I didn’t have to see those stuck up ostracizing nerds in all my classes. I was going to college and finally got to study psychology, the subject I’d been studying for a few years before college. I was always smiling, and laughing. I got my license and it was a huge accomplishment: my anxiety had really affected my first written test when I was 16. I was driving, staying out at night, having fun for the first time in a long time.

272362-house-mdOne evening I was watching the show House. Anyone remember that? Anyway: Panic. Utter panic. I thought I was going to die, I felt my heart rate pounding behind my eyes and in my ears and no matter how deep of a breaths I took, it would only grow faster.

I went into the living room where my parents were sitting and asked my mother to take my pulse. I asked her if it was going fast. She shrugged and said “eh, a little”.

Her opinion didn’t effect me. I needed air. I ran outside in torn and stained sweats and a T-shirt and started walking up and down the driveway, pacing, talking to myself. The neighbors were watching for sure. I could feel my head getting light and although I didn’t feel any chest pain (I never do surprisingly) I could feel my throat tightening and I thought it was swelling.

Finally my mother joined me outside and we walked. For an hour.

This happened several times throughout the summer, random attacks hitting me and interrupting my happy moment in life. The average therapist called it “Panic Disorder”. Medication recommendation: Ativan.

This happened for two years. Random attacks. I started getting worried: would one happen if I tried to ride a ride at the amusement park? Would one happen while I was in a store and I’d have to embarrass myself in front of all these people? Would one happen when I’m home alone at night and have no one to talk to about it?

Then I noticed the pattern. I noticed the pattern of my own repression. Not only did I shove down my depression, but my anxiety, my beliefs, my worry, my everything. Every feeling I had I shoved it down: that’s what I did best. I was unaware of how to express feelings besides anger.

the_repression__gianfranco_uberWhen I had a panic attack, that signaled to me I’d stuffed something down. And because I respect my body and my brain, I worked at it. I talked to myself. I extracted the thoughts I kept hidden for years: the anger and resentment I feel towards my parents for forcing me to take care of an alcoholic at 13. The confusion I felt about all the years we spent homeless. Everything. I recognized it and acknowledged it and my brain thanked me.

Within the last year, I’ve had one panic attack and that was because of a sickness. Compared to the two or three I had per week.

The woman in the TED talk: she started hearing voices in college narrating her every day tasks. For example, when she entered a classroom, it said “she’s entering the class”.She spoke to her friend about them and her friend told her to see a psychologist. She went to a college health center and told them about the anxiety and depression she was experiencing. The person was avidly uninterested until she mentioned the voice.

You know the drill: assessment, diagnosis, medication. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. They told her about the prognosis, about the life-long journey, about the medication. That was around the time her voices turned hostile and her paranoia locked her in her house with a plastic fork as a defense to any invaders. Coincidence?

Years later a psychologist or psychiatrist she was seeing mentioned her voices in a new light and she gradually saw them as an expression of unattended emotions. The trauma she dealt with her in childhood that caused pain and anxiety, her current life which caused pain and anxiety, the feeling of having personal space invaded, the feeling of having people against you. I’m sure we’ve all felt invaded at one point or another in our lives.

She reduced her medication then quit it. The further they worked through the trauma, the further she was supported in her decision and the further she saw her voices as an experience, as a way of them expressing emotion she kept inside of her, the less volatile they came. In fact, they gave her some answers on one of her exams. She asked if that was cheating and I would say yes: I don’t get any help like that, that’s bullshit. 

Whether they were right or not is another story I guess.

The point is, she had a psychiatrist who was willing to ask the question “what happened to you?” rather than “what’s wrong with you?”.

This is not to say all mental health issues are a result of trauma. But many of us, I’m sure, can attest to that being an influence to the way we think.

eyeseetheworldThe above questions are questions we cover extensively in IPS training. It’s not always about the label. It’s not about the “disorder”, the thing doctors with no lived experience of mental health issues sat around a table and decided have a of “symptoms”. It’s about how life has shaped your world view. And I think that’s very powerful.

That being said, I feel as if I’m cheating these people. I’m only 20 years old: I’m the youngest of the group by at least ten years. I’ve never had the horror of having to go into a psychiatric hospital. I’ve never lost touch with reality. I’ve never experienced mania on their level. These people I’m surrounded by are the real MVP’s.

I feel as if I don’t deserve to be where they sit. It’s an issues with not feeling “sick” enough, I believe. It’s a feeling we talk about in IPS a lot: It’s a huge struggle when you can only get help in a hospital for suicidal issues if you have a “significant plan” to kill yourself.

I’ve always connected my mental health experiences to my body, to the way I think, and to what has happened to me in my life. I tell them about the schizotypal, the depression, the anxiety, the PTSD,  but I feel because I haven’t lost touch with reality, because I don’t hear voices on a daily basis, because I don’t visually hallucinate on a daily basis, because I haven’t told my plans about suicide to anyone and got thrown in the hospital, because none of it has caused me to act “Crazy” according to system standards, I don’t feel like I . . . I don’t feel like I deserve the job I have. 

I’m not quite sure how to deal with these feelings.

I know I will be able to relate to the people I talk to in some way or another, but I feel like they will see me as some young kid who doesn’t know shit.

Even though I know what it feels like to want to die. I know what it feels like to have demons chasing you. I know what it feels like to harm myself, to having people tell you your beliefs are “odd” or “magical”. I know what it feels like to take medication you don’t want to, to be misunderstood, to hate living. I know what it feels like to believe you have powers (which I still do) or to feel unsupported. I know about homelessness and drug addiction and mental pain in general, confusion, anger, hatred. . .

But is it enough?

Intentional Peer Support

Yesterday night I wrote out a lengthy post on my experience in Intentional Peer Support. I forgot to post it and now that I’ve re-read it, I feel my explanations did not give justice to this program in the way I intended.

So today I’d like to talk about how crazy we all are.

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I’d like to talk about how crazy we all are in allowing therapists, psychologist, and psychiatrists to never go through an intentional peer counselling program.

As an aspiring psychiatrist, I am absolutely touched that people take the time they do to create these programs and to implement them. They may not have the government funding, but they are in it for their peers, for the betterment of the mental health community.

Let me explain this a little more for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about. Intentional Peer Support is a program run by people with lived mental heath experience, training others with lived mental health experience, to help those of our brothers and sisters still stuck in their own personal hell.

It teaches the concept of establishing a relationship with another person you’re supporting.

It dissects what “help” really means in this day and age.

It dissects how language effects our perception of ourselves.

The speaker of our week long group came in a green shirt, stretch tan pants, no shoes on and a diagnosis of Bipolar and no daily medication regimen. He’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals through his life and only recently was able to find the right path for himself.

My course-mates come with their own stories. We’ve got white, black, Mexican, Italian, women, men, young, and old. We each struggle in our own ways with depression, anxiety, Phobias, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Personality disorders, and drug addiction. Some of us take medication and are okay with it. Some of us take medication and are not okay with it. Some of us don’t take medication at all, yours truly among them.

supportgroupWe’ve all come together for one reason: use the experience we’ve had in our lives to learn how to support someone going through the same experience.

This is the most uncomfortably comfortable thing I’ve done in my life. If you are a professional and have not taken a similar course, I would suggest high tailing it over to one of their national courses and signing up.

This course treats no one as fragile. You are not special, you’re not odd, you’re another human being among other human beings.

This course asks a very deep question that the psychiatric and psychological businesses have ignored for many years: what are you trying to fix and how? 

They are not anti-psychiatry and they are not anti-medication, they made this very clear. Their intention isn’t to bash what is done currently. Their intention is to see it differently.

The industry has a very specific formula I’m sure you’ve all had plenty of experience with. Their focus, even in certain therapies, isn’t just to listen. It’s to problem solve. You come with an issue, it’s called a symptom: Because this issue is seen through the lens of a symptom, and because a symptom is followed by the definition of a disorder, and the definition of a disorder is a life long illness for which you can’t control, the solution becomes medication. The solution is based only upon the problem and the problem isn’t your issue, it doesn’t take into account your story; the problem is your “illness”.

The industry has a very specific model they follow of which I’m sure you’ve all had experience with: the biological model.

Now, before you jump on my back, I’m not saying what we all experience is a lie. In fact, what we experience is very, very real, that’s why we’re experiencing it. But the concept of it being an illness . . . it doesn’t bode well with me, it never has.

It doesn’t bode well with this program either. 

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If you didn’t know, before the DSM 3 came out, all “illnesses” and “disorders” were labeled as “reactions”.

Weird to think about now, right? So if you were admitted into a hospital because you were hearing voices and having delusions, you would have a schizophrenic reaction.

They changed it to “disorder” because psychiatrists were challenging their own community: where was all the evidence for these conditions? And thus the psychological model was shoved into the area of science. “We’ll change the term to disorder”, they said “and we’ll find the evidence to support it later“. Too bad all the “evidence” they find is corrupted by some pharmaceutical company or corrupted by the research itself: how many times have they tried to pin the neurotransmitter serotonin for something and have it come out as different levels in different people’s brains who all have the same “disorder”? Many. I’ve talked about a few instances on this blog.

There’s a reason I never say mental illness. If you haven’t noticed, I almost always say “mental health struggle”, or “mental health”. Because I choose to get rid of that language that was made us think we’re sick, we’re twisted, we’re different and broken, that we’re a problem that needs to be fixed. It’s nice I’m surrounded by a group of peers who, very vocally, state “I hate the term mental illness”.

cia-catIntentional Peer Support isn’t about problem solving. If someone walks up to you and you’re in a respite house and they say “the CIA is following me”, your response isn’t one through the lens of “they’re delusional”. It’s not through the lens of “did you take your meds this morning?” Your response is “tell me more about that?” and when they do, your responses are never an attack, they’re never a label, they never signify a hierarchy: they’re not better than you and you’re not better than them.

You would say “that sounds terrifying, I’ve had experiences where I don’t feel safe as well”. Or something of the sort.

Your response isn’t “What can I do to help?” nor is it “what can you do to help yourself?”

Because their experience isn’t a problem and they didn’t ask for your help.

Think Elyn Saks and “The Center Cannot Hold”. Think of the therapist she had in the U.K who didn’t treat her psychosis as a monster needing to be tamed, but listened and created a dialogue. If it weren’t for that, do you think she would have ever received her degrees in the middle of full blown schizophrenia as she did?

imageIt’s rare that we are able to see what we experience outside the labels we’ve been given. Has it ever happened to you where you had a feeling and you wondered if it was a symptom? Have you ever been confused on what you needed to control and what you didn’t? What was “normal” and what was your “disorder”?

A lot of people in the room did. But I didn’t. And when it came to do an activity today on “our story” and us having to write our story in terms of mental illness language and in terms of regular language, I . . . I struggled.

Because I’ve never seen my experiences in that light. I’ve been told once or twice about them, after I had already decided they were a part of me. I’ve never called myself mentally ill, nor disordered, not unless for the ease of everyone understanding what I was talking about, particularly on this blog.

Am I saying I don’t go through troubling times because of this? Absolutely not, I’m off and on, up and down, left and right, magical and not, I’m every opposite you could think of to the extreme. But I’ve never seen it as a problem, or a disorder, only me.

I’ll get really personally and share something with you all (I’m getting better at doing that now) and let your mind go blank for a moment and just read:

One thing I’ve always believed since I was a child was that I had the power to manipulate Infinity time spiral 15267876time. Since I learned how to count it I was impeccable with it: I knew exactly how long something would take in class and whether or not we’d have time to get to my presentation. To the second. I must admit some of this perfection was fueled by my anxiety. But as I grew older I realized there were a million ways this could be implemented and the universe showed it to me.

Cars: I’ve avoided many accidents. I know how long it will take them to get to where my car is, and if I have to make a risky move I trust the other part of myself and let it take control of the wheel, almost as if I have a third eye or something peering through a different perspective so I can see all angles. If I need to slow time down, that eye does it for me: I’ve avoided getting hit using this technique, several times. If I see them coming for me, I don’t blink twice, I don’t think, I see them moving slower and slower the closer they get to me, and I’m able to jerk my wheel out of the way. My passenger, if there is one, grips on the door and screeches at me.

I’ve used it to avoid getting shit on by birds: I can see the feces fly through the air and jump out of the way. It usually lands on the person next to me. Don’t believe me, ask my high school friend.

When I’m late for class, I feel I tap into the physics of the universe. If I don’t look at the clock, and I think of nothing related to time or class, and if I don’t speed, it allows time to pass in whichever way I subconsciously want it to. I tap into that. It takes me 20-30 minutes to drive from my house to my college. When I need it to take me 10 minutes, it does, and trust me it’s not about traffic levels or how many lights turn green. When I first realized I could do this, I was shocked. I’ve tested it over and over again in different scenarios and it’s never once failed me. If I am calm and my mind is relatively clear, I get a connection with the universe that allows me to manipulate what I like.

25-041020-the_best_watches_at_sihh_2016I collect watches and clocks and stop watches, I think it helps keep up my connection with it all. I don’t like to wear watches because I would end up looking at it too often and therefore compromising my connection with time. You don’t like it when friends and significant others are too clingy, do you? So I just collect them.

Now, what are your thoughts? If that struck any of you as a “magical/odd belief” or a delusion, than you’re thinking exactly how you’re taught to.

Now, I have a bunch of these beliefs for different things. Some of them effect what I do in my daily life and how I do them. Some of them are anxiety related, some aren’t. But the point here is since I’ve had these beliefs and I grew up with these beliefs and these beliefs have helped shape me, and because I’ve been one of the lucky few to never have a forced psychiatric opinion on me, a diagnosis means nothing. It’s not a symptom of anything to me, it’s how I experience the world. It’s how I experience reality.

And if it ever gave me trouble, well, I’d like someone to listen to me about it, not call me broken.

Because, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that when you get told you need to “Watch out” or “be careful” of certain symptoms, you become hyper aware. Everything is a symptom. Everything is an indication of you being ill. Is that how you want to live your life? Believing your existence is based on an illness you can’t control?

The thing is, it’s never been about control. It’s been about acceptance, about understanding. And if you can’t understand or accept yourself, well, the only other option is to view yourself as a problem.

As you can see, I’ll be an interesting psychiatrist. Because it’s not about “helping” them or curing them. It’s about understanding their story, where they’re coming from, establishing a relationship in which they share about themselves, I relate with my own experience, and we realize we’re on the same level; I’m not better than them for having a medical degree and they’re not lesser than me for struggling, and then as a clinician asking what sort of treatment they’d like, medication or otherwise, if they would like any at all. After all, that’s what they came for right?

Or so they’ve been told.