Category Archives: mental health

Do you all remember a time when I would bust out posts every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes thrice a day? That time ended many months ago, and this writer’s block has continued something fierce. Every once in a while I come on and see how everyone is doing, what’s going on their life and where they are heading and I wonder why I just can’t kick my ass in gear and write.

I’m a writer for God’s sake, that’s what I do.

So, as I sit in class right now, it got me thinking about my writer’s block, others writer’s block, and how people just push through it. So that’s what I’m trying to do, for the sake of the cathartic process, and for the sake of my writing future.

Because I am such a broken human being unique individual with a variation of experiences, I decided to do something for myself and attend an outpatient group. This group meets three days a week, for three hours each day, and I’m on the evening schedule. We learn a lot about coping skills, about forming and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as being open and honest about what’s going on in our head. Some people have substance use issues partnered with their mental health, others don’t.

I’m not sure what I’m learning from it. I know that it gets me out of the house and prevents me from isolating, which is good for me, and I know it’s good for me because I absolutely hate doing it. And I seem to hate doing anything that’s good for me. Ever get that feeling?

Meanwhile, the outside world is falling apart and we’re all sitting around twiddling our thumbs like:

this-is-fine-0

When we should be doing something like this:

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Kanye West is trapped in a perpetual state of “mania”, or at least he’s addicted to the “manic” behavior, Trump is still president, sexual assault victims are coming forward and getting pushed back down, people are putting guns to their heads, overdosing, throwing themselves off bridges and the ages are getting younger and younger, there’s rarely anything positive on the news (in America), everyone kind of flipped the bird to school shootings, cops are still shouting “break yourself fool!”, cocking their gun sideways, and blowing seven holes in innocent people like they work for the crips, and meanwhile I’m sitting here on this computer documenting it all, processing it, and thinking back to similar times.

I think maybe, just maybe, we’re all stuck in a pretty serious delusion about our lives: That we can continue moving forward with all of this baggage on our back. Nothing is being discussed, and when a discussion does arise, it turns into nothing more than the internet being divided on the subject for a couple days. Racism is a hot topic, until a school shooting happens. We’re all crying for the students until a cop shoots another unarmed white, black, yellow, blue, brown, rainbow man/woman. As we writhe from the shock, Trump says something outlandish and/or stupid (mostly stupid), and all cameras point to him. They’re so busy photographing his orange face and blonde toupee that they miss the guy standing on the bridge behind them, tears streaming down his face.

There’s no soft way to put things: we’re living in a society in which things are swept under the rug.

I guess it’s nice that you and your friend on Facebook have these deep philosophical conversations over messenger that ultimately ends with one of you quoting words you don’t understand by some unnamed author, hoping that the way you’ve carried yourself and your political stance will help you sound like an intellectual.

And it doesn’t help that when something serious on social media is trending, it doesn’t get taken serious and its fifteen minutes of fame go by in five. This is my argument against May Mental Health Awareness month. There’s nothing impressive about a month of people saying nice things to each other and being supportive when that mindset falls apart in June.

At this point, I’m ranting, because if there’s one thing we all understand about writer’s block, is that you can’t pull the right fucking words out of your head even if your life depended on it. Something has them stopped up like hair in a drain, and I don’t have a long enough whatcha-ma-call-em to dig the mess out. The only solution is to pour corrosive bleach down the hole and let it set. So, I’m pouring bleach on my brain and waiting for the magic to happen.

What will happen to this blog? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t want to get rid of it, I want to help it blossom into what it once was. I want to communicate to real people about real topics and still promote mental wellness. I want to commit to writing at least once a day to gain back old followers and shake hands with new ones. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, in my own life and in relation to the rest of the world. I want a lot of things, as you can see, and I’m not quite sure what that means.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

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Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

situation-clipart-theory-5

which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

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You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

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Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

In the shower this morning I found a piece of anger within me that I have yet to fully eradicate.

The thing about dealing with mental health problems is that you will always have days you feel like you can manage, and you will have days you feel like you can’t manage. Sometimes the days you can’t manage are consecutive and go on for months, maybe even years. And the shitty thing about that, other than the fact that you are struggling managing life, is that other people will not understand that.

Everyone has their own pain that they deal with and everyone deals with it differently. Some people can breeze through a truama and choose to put it out of their head while others develop Post Traumatic Stress and dissociation issues. I don’t think there’s a right way to deal with trauma, but generally what works is facing it and working through it. Sometimes when you do that, it takes a while and it takes a lot of pain. And that pain can shut you down for a while, maybe some weeks, months, years even.

For me, learning more about myself and what goes on in my head is proving to take some months, coming up on a year now. And for the past year it is true that I have been withdrawn and I have avoided other people, mainly because I’m struggling believing people have respectable motives towards me. I feel that they’re against me, and that if they say they aren’t, they’re lying.

Trying to explain this to someone who doesn’t experience it is almost impossible.

And I feel that since this was a part of the conditions of my recent breakup, that I should address this on this blog so I can also process it for myself.

Last November was a tough time for me going into the hospital and losing touch with a lot of reality. When I came out of the hospital, I didn’t really have anywhere to turn, at least that’s what it felt like. I still struggle with reaching out when I need some kind of support because it seems like whenever I do, it’s never enough. That’s my own issue I need to work on.

But knowing what I’ve been through, knowing what I’ve gone though, it should go without saying that It’s going to take me years to really get to a point where I feel comfortable “being outgoing” again. Unless I stop this infernal medication and go manic.

I just don’t feel like any part of me was understood in this break up. It was another trauma, because I’ve never had anyone so close to me misunderstand me so entirely.

And I respect his decision, and I respect that this has been an issue between us for a while. I don’t have any problem with someone making a decision that’s best for them. I just wish it wasn’t because of my mental health. I finally understand that saying: if someone can’t handle you at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best. 

And I will be back to my best, I will return to myself. And it hurts me that I couldn’t have someone I love walk that journey with me. I guess it’s something I need to walk by myself. Maybe that’s just how it’s meant to be, and that’s fine too. I can’t control everything.

I also know there are people out there who WOULD walk that journey with me, who would research what they don’t understand, who would offer support in a way that will help me grow and get back to myself. And those are the people I need to surround myself with. I’m not quite sure where or when I will find them, but I will find them and I will latch onto them.

It seems like it’s a lot to ask of someone, but I would do the same for them. If they suddenly woke up in the midst of psychosis and ended up in the hospital, I would learn all I could about their experiences. I would be with them in their experiences and I would support their confidence until their confidence could support itself. Sometimes we need someone to do that for us, and it seems like if you truly love someone, that wouldn’t be too hard of a thing to do.

I had a great four years in my relationship. It was great fun, and there were times where I was supported by no one else but him. I acknowledge that. And maybe that was too much of a burden. Maybe it’s difficult for some people to hold that kind of pain and confusion with someone else. I tend to think it’s a rather simple thing because that’s what I do at work at all the time. I also acknowledge it’s different when you’re around it 24/7, or at least more often than three days a week.

So, these are things to be aware of going into my next relationship, whenever that may be. But I never felt like I overburdened him with my problems. I never sat there and complained about myself all day and all night, and I never demanded support. I only talked about my problems when they became overwhelming and I really did try and get out and do things.

I’ve been told all my life I’m not outgoing enough. I’m sick of hearing it. And you know what? I don’t give a fuck anymore. I’m done giving a fuck. Don’t like it? Not my problem anymore. I was ready to put effort into saving the relationship and that was cut off. So I’m not going to try to put anymore effort. I’m not going to try to win you back. I’m not going to bother you all the time. I’m just going to do me. I’m going to move and I”m going to try starting over. This town, Santa Cruz, has nothing left for me. And that’s okay. Everyone has to move on some time.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

This title is the excerpt I read while searching for a new place to live. What is this, the 1800’s? Do you know how dry it is in California, people? Just buy some water from the damn grocery store because you ain’t finna find any in the ground, not this time of year.

I’m being forced to look into a roommate situation, which is not ideal, but I suppose it is better than homelessness–at least, that’s what my psychologist is trying to drill into my head: it’s better than being homeless, it’s better than being homeless. I’m not sure I’m convinced. I’ve been homeless before, jumped around from place to place, and at least in all those situations I had some kind of privacy. Someone living in my living room in this apartment does not seem private to me.

The emotions of the break up have kind of calmed within me, I no longer drive in the car crying to songs on the radio, and I no longer huddle in the apartment with a blanket over my shoulders looking at all the things I did wrong and all the things that were my fault. Ultimately, things ended because things needed to end. I’ve had a lot of things I’ve loved end in my life, and I’m still standing. I’ve been through a lot worse than a breakup, and I’m still standing. I can make it through this.

independence-1024x673-1024x673It’s time to gain some independence back too. I think I was pretty dependent in this relationship and that’s something I need to let go of as well. I think this will give me the proper time I need to really recover from the psychosis and get my mental health back on track.

Where I will move, I’m not sure yet, either north or south of where I am now. I have plans to move on with my life at this point. Because, here’s the even bigger news: the mental health program I’ve been working at for the past 2 years may very well be closing in the beginning of December. We’re making efforts to save it, and I think good things will still come from these efforts, but I’m not sure about them actually saving the program.

So, I am also stuck looking at the possibility of having to find another job in the “real world”. The real world meaning: working with people who are not my peers, who do not openly have lived experience. And that bothers me a bit. I tend not to get along with those people.

Classes have also started up again, and I’m swamped with homework. Go figure.

So life is pretty stressful right now. I’m broke, I can’t pay for my prescriptions, I can’t buy food, I can’t afford gas, and it’s hell waiting for Netflix to put up Black Panther. I mean, the wait is literally like sitting on a stump in hell listening to the screams of damned souls while embers lick the top of your head and fire burns through your skin to your bone.

I am writing an article about the closing of 2nd Story, so stay tuned for that on Mad in America. Not quite sure what I want to write yet. I said I’d have a draft by the end of the week, but with classes I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible.

My cat is sitting on my arm and making it very difficult to type. She’s going to give me Carpal Tunnel.

If you are willing to share a GoFundMe page on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, that would also be great. The link is here. I know clicking the share button is honestly asking a lot of people I don’t know, but I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for 3 years and I’ve loved every moment of it. You all are helpful in small little ways you might not even know. Every comment I’ve ever gotten, every view, every read, every personal story shared with me is another thing I cherish. So one share is all I ask. I’m asking for 1500 in the Campaign, just as general moving expenses because I have zero dollars. I would be using it to pay for a UHaul and to tow my car if I move out of town. I”m not asking for much, but I am.

If you can share the GoFundMe link that would be great. If you can read it, that would be great. I don’t want to end up homeless again, and I think crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity for a lot of people, including myself. If you can donate even a dollar, I would be eternally grateful.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking for a place to live so I don’t end up on the streets.

Fun!

Things have been troublesome for me. My relationship of 4 years has ended, and I’m still heartbroken over that fact. It’s only been a couple days, and so the feelings are still very raw. It’s difficult to have 4 years of good memories in your head, only to be trumped by the memory of one incident: the break up.

I’m okay with having to move forward. I mean, I’ve been through a lot worse things in my life than a breakup, and have had my heart broken on the same level once before. I’m used to the pain. I’m used to the random crying that hits you when you hear a song that reminds you of everything, or see a couple, or hear about people and their love, or see all the pictures we have. I’m used to the constant feelings of “wow, this is all your fault” because I’m used to things getting ruined because of my mental health. And that’s essentially what all this boils down to.

I still have my cat. I love her, and I will forever love her. And I thank him for buying her for me those 2 years ago, she’s been a great addition to my life. So that’s one thing to be thankful for.

On top of that, the program I work for is also closing in December. I feel I am no longer welcome in this town by way of the universe, and that because both my job and relationship are essentially over at the same time, it’s a sign that it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.

I plan to move down to Los Angeles where peer support jobs are rampant in certain areas, and where I can really use my creative talent: my writing, my photography. I want to be able to blossom in this crazy life, and I’m sick of being stifled and stagnant. All of this stress is really kicking up my mental health issues, and so is not having the money to even pay for my prescriptions right now.

I started a GoFundMe. Hear me out: I hate taking money from people. I hate taking offers from people. I hate doing anything that requires me to beg. But I am in a situation where I can’t just up and leave town and not risk being homeless. I can’t stay in town and not risk being homeless. Again. I’m trying to avoid that. Again.

I would use the funds strictly for moving expenses and nothing more. That means the U-Haul to get my stuff down there, the deposit and first months rent on a place ( a room for rent, of course), and food along the way. I’m asking for 2k. Not too much, not too little.

If you know anyone who is willing to donate, that would be amazing. The link is here. I’m just a young 23 year old trying to make a new start in a world that has beat me down from the beginning. And I’m not trying to act helpless. I’m not even on disability, although with my diagnoses I could qualify. But I want to do things on my own, prove to myself and the world that I can be who I need to be without second guessing myself or degrading myself.

I am just in need of a little help.

I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for three years now, and have been thankful to every single person who has ever liked or commented on this blog. And now I’m finally reaching out to every single one of you and asking for just a bit of help. You don’t have to donate, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking for you to share the link on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, whatever. I only have so much of a following, and could use more help in that department.

If you do donate, thank you, thank you. Every little bit helps.

Now, I’m going to try and get ready for my day, as difficult as that’s becoming.

Thank you.

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.

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.