The Crow Caws

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

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

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

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

“Hey!” caws the crow, and I listen,

What wisdom

will he share today?

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

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

 

“Hey!” caws the crow, and I listen

to whatever wisdom he shares with me today.

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

my outfit?

Will he watch the passing stars with me

and wonder about infinity?

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

 

And while I wonder what he’ll share

I have to remember

and be aware

that it may be fiction

what he wove into his diction

But “hey!” caws the crow,

and I still listen.

 

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

 

Eloquence

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

hqdefault

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

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

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

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

Fuck depression.

That’s eloquent, right?

orator-4a

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

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

Seems a lot easier and less damaging to me.

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

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

You’re unique.

 

 

Finally.

I think I pinpointed one of my major problems today.

As I was driving home, listening to SAD by XXXTentaction for whatever reason (shut up), one of his lines caught my attention. It goes:

maxresdefault“Who am I?”

“Someone that’s afraid to let go” (Should be WHO’S afraid to let go, but I let him slip since he got shot and killed)

“You decide”

“If you ever gunna let me know”

“Suicide”

“If you ever try to let go”

“I’m sad I know, yeah, I’m sad I know yeah.”

Not the deepest lyrics in the world, but to me they hit a chord, particularly the “I’m sad, I know yeah” portion. I think denial has been an issue of mine for a long time now. Through the entire three years that I’ve been blogging on this account, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this. And it’s hard to write about something I haven’t already mentioned on this fucking blog.

But I think I denied how “Sad” I really was for some years now. I played it off so well that I convinced myself nothing was going on. So when I got extremely low, I broke. Then I repaired myself, denied it ever happened, and waited until the next break. I think that’s where portions of my psychosis comes from.

Which is another weird thing to say: “my psychosis”.

wireless_giselle

For a long time I denied that as well. And it wasn’t always just because I actually believed the delusions and such. It was also because I just didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. Regardless of the thoughts or any voices, I just didn’t think anything was wrong. I was suffering, and refused to believe anything was going on. I don’t understand how a brain can do that. I just don’t. I don’t because I was aware of everything so vividly. And yet I was so distant from it all.

It feels vindicating to say those few words “I’m sad I know yeah, I’m sad I know yeah”.

I also think I denied the psychosis because it wasn’t “as bad” as other people. I didn’t end up involuntary because of paranoia until I threatened to kill myself over it, so it’s not like I was found running naked down the street screaming about aliens. No, I kept my naked, screaming self hidden within the back of my mind and suffered that way. If there’s no such thing as a quiet psychosis, I’ve just invented it.

I’ve invented quiet everything, trust me. Quiet rage, quiet happiness, quiet sadness, quiet psychosis, it’s copyright. Don’t steal it. The only exception is “quiet borderline” which is already a thing so I can’t steal it. Fuck whoever coined that term. That’s MY term.

I feel like I’m starting to get back into this writing groove. This is nice.

success

Anyway, my point is I feel like I’m getting my brain back, my motivation, my determination, and my passion. I also feel like I’ve learned so much about myself over these last three years that I’m really thankful for every bit of the experience, even the times that have been roughest I’ve ever been through.

It’s been the first time I’ve spoken in therapy about my delusions. I call them that, but at the same time I still kind of believe them. So I don’t really know how to deal with that. I guess I can say that everyone else calls them delusions, I just call them reality. But regardless, I’m talking about them, and it feels good to have a therapist who isn’t judging what I’m saying. She may talk like a speed demon, but her words are valid and kind. So far.

I’ve also been recognizing when my perception of others is getting in the way of me seeing their true self. That’s a whole other can of worms to open.

I think that’s enough for now.

Own up to what you deal with. You don’t have to believe you’re crazy. You don’t have to believe you’re delusional or psychotic or any of those things. Just know you’re struggling, and start to get okay with that, or you’ll never be okay with it. And that’s today’s mental truth.

Reaching Contentment

blog-22-journey-600x300

Where are you in your journey?

I feel like I spent a lot of time confused. If any of you are reading from the past, you’ll remember all the posts I made while I was in classes, about annoying girls flipping their hair right in my face and Calculus tests and writing workshops. You might even remember that I started dropping classes like flies. Now I’m trying to work on getting back into my classes so I can finish this puny fucking degree.

I’ve always liked school, and I’ve always been rather smart. There were some things I had to work at harder than others, but a lot of that was chalked up to my anxiety and inability to raise my hand and ask for clarification when I needed it–everyone needs clarification sometimes, I don’t care how smart you are. And if you are unable to get that small little aide, you start falling behind. And that’s exactly what I did. That’s exactly what I’m still doing.

Where am I in my journey–I’m not quite sure. I still feel a little lost and a little confused, but I feel like the directions are becoming clearer. I feel like I’m not longer standing at a fifty pronged fork in the road, I feel like I’ve narrowed it down to about 4 prongs.

I will be attending some classes again this semester, but I feel more ready for them, more so than I have in the last couple years. It’s going to feel a little strange being back in the classroom and as I watch my cat jump atop the fridge to get atop the kitchen cabinets, I realize that I have to do the same thing she does: calculate how far I can really leap, and what my limits are. I can’t just be jumping aimlessly. I need to jump with a purpose. That’s the only way to keep what little motivation I have left steady.

Life is such a great learning experience, I’ve learned to appreciate so much over the last three years. I’ve learned to appreciate myself most of all, and the shit I’ve put up with.

85

I think what has made this experience one of the best experiences is that I’ve really learned how to feel my feelings. I was talking the other day with someone about how content I was, and how that feeling has been harder to learn to accept than the negative emotions. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m content. I don’t have to fight with my brain, I don’t have to practice breathing because I’m not anxious, I’m not hearing voices or seeing demons, I’m not suicidal, I’m just kind of sitting in my house content with where I am in the moment. And that’s a new feeling. As with all new feelings, they take some time getting used to.

My intention was to pinpoint ways to become content like this, but I’m not sure if I can put it into steps or even words. I’m still expanding my support force, both with peers and in the professional world, and I’ve dropped a lot of pride. I’m still morally against taking psychiatric medication, but I came to the realization that as a temporary tool they can be useful. I’ve decided to give it a year or two, see how much progress I can make, see what skills I can learn to curb my experiences, and re-evaluate at that point. It felt like a defeat. It will always feel like a defeat.

My cat is scratching to the beat of Chop Suey by System of a Down. THAT was hilarious.

I think I introduced my cat to everyone 2 years ago when I got her, and I said I’d named her Andromeda. That was a lie. I have since named her Jazz. She likes Jazz music and is wild like Jazz can be, and smooth and calm like Jazz can be. Therefore, her name is Jazz and it will forever be Jazz. Here is Jazz now:

 

Jazz Photo
She’s gotten much bigger
img_20161124_115142.jpg
This was her 2 years ago

Now she lays on her back and watches Television. ‘MERICAN Cat.

My posts are going to be haphazard like this until I get back into my writing groove. There is a groove, believe it or not, that writers get into. Some people are content with spewing the first thought from their head, and that is their groove. I do most of my deep thinking when I’m writing, so a lot of these thoughts are carefully calculated in my head as I type. Nothing is too spontaneous. I edit and edit and edit and take what I say very seriously, even when I’m joking about Ben Carson lying about his times at Yale. Carson could never be a good manipulator of the masses, he lies too blatantly. You have to lie subtly, with the intent to make the lie sound real. Nothing he said sounded real. I think he needs to operate on his own brain.

I will forever rip him, Trump, and Alex Gorskey a new one at any chance I get. One day I hope at least one of them will read some of the things I’ve said about them. I will be content on my death bed if that is the case.

Throwing Shade.

sonson

 

 

To Recover or Not To Recover, That Is The Question

recover

What do you all think about the word ‘recovery’ in terms of mental health issues? I’ve been thinking about this recently, trying to come up with my own definition and I came to realize I just may not identify with the term at all.

I don’t know if recovery is a good word to describe what we all go through to come out on the other side of things. I believe that every second of our lives living with this is something that requires us to go beyond recovery. Because once we’re in that “recovery” stage, for most of us things don’t go away, we’re just better equipped at dealing with things.

I know for me, I feel as if I’m finally coming out of a fog. That fog was devastating and has lasted almost three years. I did a lot of ridiculous things because of my paranoia and my mood swings, including dropping a lot of classes, losing some jobs, risking the one job I still do have, and was unable to connect with proper support. I went on and off medication, and documented most of that descent on this blog. I even bought this website domain and hoped to turn this into something greater, but failed because depression ruined my passion. Slowly, I’m getting that back.

Is this “recovery”, though? I don’t think so. I’m not recovering from anything, I’m just learning how to better cope with my emotions, how to better feel them and how to better manage them. That to me is a journey. I’m on the other end of my journey, it feels like, and maybe one day I’ll return to that fog with better equipment to put up with it all. I don’t know. So to say that someone struggling with mental health issues is in recovery almost sets them up for failure–if they return to that previous state of mind, what does that mean? That they’re not in recovery anymore? To me, that doesn’t make sense. To me, it’s just another hiccup in their journey.

journey-620x360

Word choice is very specific in the world of mental health. If you walk up to someone who identifies with the label of schizophrenia and call them “a schizophrenic”, a lot of those people would correct you, that they are someone “with” schizophrenia, that they are not defined by their condition. Which is great for them, whatever creates a sense of control over what they deal with. Some people also hate the term “committed suicide”, a lot of them prefer to say that their loved one died from depression or whatever drove them to take action.

The only word choice I have issues with is if someone refers to themselves or other people as “mentally ill” or “mentally diseased”. I’ve done plenty of posts on why I believe those terms should be erased from our vocabulary. In case you weren’t there when I was ranting about that, or don’t remember my rants on it, I’ll give a quick summary:

I choose not to believe my problems are illnesses, I choose to believe they are a result of my dealing with emotions in a different way than others. If I’m hearing voices, it’s not because of some degradation of my brain, it’s because there’s a level of stress I’m reaching that I’m not tending to. If my moods are swinging out of control, it’s not just some biological imbalance, it’s my reaction to life and whatever is going on at the moment, whether that be something good or bad. I choose to see myself as gifted, and I’m thankful to the nurses in the hospitals who had also had that viewpoint. It made my stay a lot more comfortable.

There’s also no real viable research that mental health issues are diseases since all of the brain matter studies they have done have been on people who have taken psychiatric medication, and that changes the brain structure, that’s something that’s been known for years. So:

invalid-stamp

That’s my reasoning.

But otherwise, I don’t care what you call me. I don’t even have a steady diagnosis. So call me a Bipolar, I don’t really care. Call me a depressed freak, I don’t care. You can even call me a schizophrenic, but you’d be mistaken–either way, I don’t care. Because what someone calls me holds absolutely no weight on how I see myself or how I see others. Just like the debate years ago over changing the term schizophrenia to something else, to “remove stigma”. The stigma isn’t attached to the word, it’s attached to people’s perspective of the mental health struggle. Change the word all you want, it’s not going to make a difference.

So when I think about the word recovery, I guess it’s kind of the same thing. Whether you’re recovering or coping depends upon your perspective of your own mental health. That makes sense.

stamped-ps-right-1000

 

Passion

I’m curious what you all think. I mean really lay it on me, tell me all of your thoughts and wishes. Tell me your self-hate speech and what that little voice is like inside of your head. Tell me your positive self speech and what that little voice is like inside of your head. Tell me if you don’t have one or don’t have the other. I’d like to know.

selftalk

I’d also like to know what you think about your therapist, briefly, sharing a struggle they’ve had in order to relate to something you’re saying. I know some people don’t like their professionals to “get personal” with them, but I’m curious why this is. I’m curious why you wouldn’t want someone who is there to help with your mental health prove to you that everyone struggles in one way or another at some point in their lives? I thought the whole point wasn’t to feel alone?

I salivate over the idea of mental health peers being counselors, therapists, psychiatrist, psychologists, people who really understand and can share their successes with you and how they got to where they are: that to me is inspiration, not a sign of a bad therapist. I don’t think they should sit there and tell you everything about their life, I don’t want to know about the star shaped mole on their husband’s nether regions, but telling me about a coping mechanism they’ve used for anxiety would be helpful.

Maybe this is just me. That’s why I’m sending it out to all of you, what’s left of you at least, since I’ve taken so many hiatus’ from this blog that I don’t know who actually reads me anymore or who doesn’t.

Since I will be giving a speech on peer supportive opportunities tomorrow, I’m in the spirit of talking about it.

How useful would it be that your therapist knew exactly what severe anxiety felt like.

How useful would it be that your psychiatrist remembers what their psychotic break was like.

How useful would it be that your counselor knew exactly how low your energy got during a depression because they’d been there before.

I think there’s a lot of compassion and empathy missing from the system sometimes, and I think a lot of that has to do with not really, truly, understanding what we go through. I think it also has to do with this “just do your job” mentality that happens from working a career too long–at least for some.

image

I know there was a big difference between the physician’s assistant my dad saw in the emergency room versus the doctors that had been practicing for years. You could tell the P.A remembered all of his motivational interviewing skills. He knew how to connect, he knew how to negotiate, and he did it all with some serious humor. Maybe he’ll just be a great doctor one day. Or maybe it’s because he was new.

Somehow we have to keep that passion up. How should we do that? Should we, as patients, clients, residents, guests, members, whatever you refer to yourself as–should we start a ruckus? Should we remind our doctors why they became doctors in the first place?

Then there are the nice doctors who you do connect with who make simple mistakes. But it’s how they handle those simple mistakes that tells me whether or not they are decent at what they do.

For example, the nurse practitioner who handles my psychiatric medications (yes I am once again back on meds) told me that Abilify’s starting dose is 15mg.

It most certainly is not. How can it be if the first “therapeutic” dose is 10mg? I have yet to mention to her that the physician’s desk reference tells us that anything above 10mg hasn’t really shown any true efficacy in all the studies its been through, that will be a conversation for when she decides to try to take me to 15mg.

When I told her that I wanted to start at 5mg because my body is sensitive to this bullshit (I didn’t say bullshit, but I wanted to), she said oh, okay, we’ll do that–and didn’t argue with me. She trusted that I knew what was best for my body and I respect that. Not every psychiatrist or doctor will do that. Some of them pretend to know everything. Throw some Calculus at them, I bet they forgot how to do it. So they don’t know everything. Ha.

I think this also speaks to be able to speak up for yourself. It’s taken me a lot of years to learn that skill when it comes to doctors, because you want to trust what they have to say, you want to trust what they say is best for you, but the truth is only you know what’s best for you. Sometimes that means no medication, sometimes that means swallowing your pride and your arrogance and quelling your hatred for pharmaceutical systems and taking some form of medication until you can better handle yourself.

I don’t believe anyone is doomed to medication for eternity. Including myself. But I also recognize now that it’s an essential aide sometimes in life.

The point is, speak up for yourself. Don’t let someone, especially a professional, tell you that you don’t know yourself.

tipoftheday

Kanye, Toss Me 50 Mill, Let’s Change The World Together

d39146bc8bc845478890583accb3f0bf*Ahem*

I’ve been writing on this blog since July 2015, periodically at best, fragmented at best, turned it into a domain I could own, lost the domain because I couldn’t afford it, and now here I am, back to square one, reintroducing myself to the world of rants, vents, and sarcastic musings.

I realized how good of an outlet this place is, and I miss the interactions between new people, old people, and people in general. Fuck building an empire, fuck pleasing people, and fuck everything, in general. I think that’s a good way to start off this post.

In reading back a lot of my old posts, I laughed at my own jokes, humored myself with my own sarcasm, and cherished my vulnerable moments: essentially it was a huge ego trip. Isn’t that wonderful? How conceited can I sound? I could probably be worse if I tried. But what’s life without having a bit of an inflated self-esteem? What’s life without trying to convince the world you’re a god among men? Kanye knows what I’m talking about, right? No? No one? Okay.

Love Kanye. What he say in his new song, Yikes?

“Shit could get/menacing/frightening/find help/ sometimes / I scare/ myself.”

And

“I can feel the spirits all around me/ I think Prince and Mike is trynna to warn me/ they know they got demons all on me/ devil been trynna make an army/ they been strategizing to harm me/ they don’t know they dealin with a zombie. ”

I resonate with that on a spiritual level. That’s not sarcasm.

And, of course, the most influential line of his musical career:

“Scoopity Whoop.”

image

That song took me to higher levels of consciousness. I sat at the computer listening to Lift Yourself, nodding to an average beat, but that next verse? That NEXT VERSE THOUGH? Damn, I just didn’t really realize, I guess. I don’t think I’ll ever find another set of bars that chills my veins like “Poopity Scoop, scoopty whoopty poop”. Or, whatever.

In 2015 I was twenty years old, barely out of the terrible teens, and in 7 days I will be twenty three, still barely out of the terrible teens I guess, and in my own apartment free of the reign of terror that has been my parents’ apartment. I have good memories and bad memories. The good memories are pretty good, the bad memories are pretty bad. Read previous posts for more info. I’ve basically put the last three to four years of my life in a chronological order on this blog.

I remember writing a post about my predictions for the 2016 election, and how if that base head neurosurgeon Ben Carson dropped out of the race, Trump would win. Well, what happened? Without Ben there to cancel out Trump’s stupidity with his own, nothing could stop Trump. Don’t agree with me? No one’s asking you to, but I basically predicted the future, so . . .

Now what I’m trying to predict is when I will find a competent psychiatrist. I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that it’s impossible. I had a good two months with a county-funded psychiatrist who listened to what I said and, for the first time in my life, found a set of medications that worked well with me, but when they kicked me out of the Mental Health building K because I didn’t want to actively kill myself anymore, because I still had a job, I got stuck with a regular county psychiatrist who, when I told her I’d stopped hearing voices, told me I was lying and sent out a prescription for a higher dose of my medication.

cpre4hiueaa3vyg

If you’re wondering, I stopped seeing her.

If you’re reading this and are really confused, I’d suggest reading through a couple previous posts. I would also like to remind my audience that not everyone who hears voices hears them all the time, and not everyone who hears voices has/or identifies with schizophrenia–two common misconceptions. And not everyone with schizophrenia hears voices.

The fucking point is, if I tell you I’m not hearing voices, I’m not hearing voices. If I tell you I’m not seeing shit, I’m not seeing shit. If you don’t believe me, go to the back room, take your head out of your ass, and breathe the fresh air of reality, because you’ve been missing from it for too long.

If I don’t want my medication dosage raised, don’t fucking raise it. 

Now, here’s the tricky thing. In leaving that shitty psychiatrist and stopping all my medication, I not only put myself through some serious mental hell, I also lost the ability to find a psychiatrist or therapist at all.

*For global readers, insurance is what the United States scams it’s citizens with to get more money.*

With my propensity to freeze up talking to doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists, I often get help calling for new appointments because the anxiety paralyzes me. So I’ve pushed my family to help me call. We’ve been calling for two months now.

One psychiatrist has gotten back to us, after a week of him leaving voicemails, us leaving voicemails, and both of us missing each other. He asks how old I am, and what’s going on with me. My mother takes the call, and explains what I’ve described, and he suddenly has too many patients.

Liar rubber stamp. Part of a series of stamp concepts.

Every other mental health professional we’ve called and who has called us back and left a voicemail always, always said “I’m sorry, I’ve got too many patients right now” without needing to know any information about me.

This motherfucker said that after he learned what I was going through. What does that make me think? That he can’t take on a challenge. And, if that’s the case, at least have the balls to tell it to my face. Tell me you don’t want to deal with me. Tell me you can’t handle it. If you can’t admit that, fuck you, you’re a coward.

And most importantly, don’t ever waste my fucking time again.

If you’re wondering, most recently I’ve breezed through 5 new diagnoses (not counting the ones I had as a teenager) after seeing 4 psychiatrists and a few therapists since December 2017 (six months total) , and I only found out the most recent one because I sat in my psychiatrist’s seat and read her notes on her computer while she went to go talk to a colleague. If they won’t tell you what they write, read it yourself–a tip for anyone new to the mental health system. Just don’t get caught.

The diagnoses have been: GAD, PTSD, Depression, Bipolar 1, Psychosis NOS from oldest to newest.

Some psychiatrists haven’t agreed with the PTSD–how is that something to refute, anyway? They ruled out schizophrenia and depression with psychotic features. The psychiatrists in the hospital were bent on Bipolar 1 even though I’ve never been manic in my life, the one I saw immediately after my hospitalization wasn’t sure at all what I was dealing with (finally, an honest fucking response). The last one is hell bent on psychosis NOS. They all agree on the depression and the anxiety.

So, what have I learned over these last six months besides the fact that if I’m not actively suicidal and/or psychotic I won’t be taken seriously as a candidate for steam-lined mental health care? Other than, if I’m still working I don’t actually need any real help?

Absolutely nothing.

If I didn’t love my job, I would have quit just to add the dramatics they obviously want.

I welcome myself back into the blogsphere.

The Emotional Paradox

If I were required to keep a consistent blog schedule to save my life, I would have been dead months ago. It feels almost foreign to be writing on this page, but here I am.

Why have I been absent?

As a writer, and someone who deals with mental health challenges, it’s not always the easiest thing keeping up on my responsibilities and I can easily admit this is one I’ve let fall to the wayside. I’ve also been struggling with some horrific bouts of writer’s block.

These last few troubling weeks has got me thinking, really thinking, about what it means to heal, how long that takes–or how short–and what kind of work goes into the aspect of healing. Healing from trauma, healing from emotional pains, physical pains, imaginary pains. Are there stages of healing? How do you know when you’re in one stage and out of the other? Can you even keep track by yourself? How helpful is it to have someone by your side in the process of your healing? Do you ever actually heal?

These are questions I’ve been asking myself because I find myself in this ambiguous position of being someone people come to during their healing, and being someone who hasn’t really healed yet. And for the people who say “this is why you don’t help others if you haven’t helped yourself yet”, yes, I get it. I’m aware.

But this little mental purgatory I float in is an experience that perhaps needed to be experienced for the healing process to continue. Without feeling that ambiguity, I wouldn’t have ever focused on the subject of healing–perhaps things do happen for a reason.

This doesn’t take away from the fact that I feel completely unsatisfied in life and horribly unwelcome in my own skin. And that’s why I haven’t been posting.

This doesn’t mean I want to give up on this website, it’s still something I wish to nurture and foster, it’s just something that’s going to have to go along this little ride with me, much like the earlier version of my blog did. It went through my ups and downs and all of you followers who have stayed with me from the beginning have been absolutely amazing.

I’m thinking, if there are stages of healing, I’m still trapped in the beginning. I haven’t yet developed the skills I need to surpass the stage and enter into a realm where I can really handle the under-the-surface emotions. I haven’t yet encountered a therapy session, or two, or three, that has managed to break the wall I’ve built around myself. I can’t even break it, it seems, or else I could move onto stage two. And yet my intuition involving other’s pain is pretty spot on. I can feel their emotions and understand their hurt, and empathize with their feelings, all without being in touch with my own. And that’s an emotional paradox.

This isn’t the kind of posting I want to be doing on here, but the only thing I know how to do is be real with the readers who take time from their day to click on this little article. And this is part of being human, we all struggle, and this is what it can look like: ditching responsibilities, feeling drained of all forms of peace, being unsatisfied with every aspect of life.

This isn’t depression. I’m not hopeless, I don’t feel worthless, and I’m generally a jolly person throughout the day. This is a much larger beast that’s been feeding off my mental capacity since the day I was born, and that’s not supporting an ‘I was born this way’ genetic view of ‘mental diseases’. It’s a reference to how my environment influenced my silence and my withdrawal. And it seems that no matter how aware of these things I am, the awareness just hovers and nothing gets done.

And so I drown in this feeling of being inauthentic, because the people around me never really experience me. Some people take my silence or awkwardness as rudeness, stupidity, a lack of interest, or boredom, or sometimes they just think I’m not all there (which could be argued either way). I’m not even sure if I experience me, I’ve never been to “me”. I’m silent towards myself.

And I’ve never quite spoken to someone who experiences this similar to me. I’ve had people say they do, talks with people with social anxiety, regular anxiety, but this is so much different than that. It’s not easy to explain to your average person, and that’s why therapy has never worked for me. All of this, too, is why I haven’t been posting.

So I’m not quite sure where things will go from here. I may need this site as an outlet again, and tie these experiences back to the reason why there needs to be improvements in the mental health system. That’s what’s on my to-do list.

 

 

The Future of Preventive Care

Adobe Spark (7)

In the last post, I mentioned the DSM board’s attempt at preemptively striking against textbook psychosis. There’s a whole other world out there in the mental health field dedicated, and quite passionately might I add, to prevention psychiatry: stopping the progression of certain experiences, mainly psychosis, before they turn into something they can label as schizophrenia.

I have nothing against their passion. But I would like one of the members to explain how creating several new disorders like attenuated psychosis syndrome would do anything other than create a new label multitudes of teenagers would be diagnosed with, fed medications that aren’t researched on teenagers, and make them fear their future more than they should.

So, where do we start?

If you ask me (no one did), preventive care, if that’s what it’s to be called, includes family dynamics, relationship dynamics, and self-dynamics, not only diagnosis and medications.

Family Dynamics

This is an important but difficult portion for me to write. I find myself grappling with words that sound rehearsed and disingenuous, because I’m not quite sure what a healthy family dynamic would be. But I understand that what you are taught, what you see, what you experience as a child heavily influences what you teach, what you see, and what you experience as an adult. This includes behaviors and thought patterns that may be seen in the world of psychology as abnormal.

The family as a whole must be looked at in preventive care because it may very well be that the problem starts somewhere in the family, perhaps in the history of the family. Substance use, abuse, neglect, perfectionism, other illnesses of family members that fall on the responsibility of the child. Every moment of life becomes a little more traumatic, and the brain is our rock, it must do what it must to protect us from processing emotions we don’t fully understand. As helpful as that can be in the moment, it becomes something to wrestle with for many years in the long run.

As a child, I never spoke my insecurities, my emotions, or opinions. I didn’t feel safe physically or emotionally. I didn’t learn healthy outlets for anger, and I didn’t learn healthy outlets for sadness. I didn’t know my pain was worth mentioning, so all of it meshed together somewhere in the back of my mind, and eventually came out as panic attacks, depression, psychosis, and self-harm.

Does this mean my family is to blame? No. What it means is that the dynamics were not healthy. It means when looking at preventing further development of experiences like psychosis and depression and self harm, regardless of whether a diagnosis is the main goal, we have to look at how the family functions/functioned as a whole.

Relationship Dynamics

What’s been learned in childhood and adolescence inevitably bridges into the relationships we have throughout life, and if there is a pattern of bumpy relationships–friendships, romantic relationships, acquaintanceship– then it’s time to also take a look at why. Everyone, even the most introverted person, needs a close friend once in a while. The inability to have an open, comfortable, a mutual connection with another person may force a person inward.

It may also signify an inability to understand what healthy relationships look like, another one of my own personal weak points. Part of preventive care should be focused heavily on providing a person resources on how to learn to have these healthy relationships, even if it’s just one person. And I’m not talking about just therapy, I’m talking about workshops and intensive analysis. Having someone in your corner makes all the difference when you feel lost or disregarded or confused.

Self-Dynamics

How does the person regard themselves? How does the person treat themselves? This is the most important aspect of preventive care, because in the end you really only have yourself as your largest support force; if you’re not on your side, who is? This is why I believe adding another diagnostic label telling someone they’re developing a life-long “illness” that they will need long-term medication as treatment doesn’t really empower them to look at their life with healthy vision.

Is the person stuck inward? Do they value themselves? Do they value others? Do they have painful outbursts? I point out these behaviors for a reason: they are most often questions asked and behaviors people want to change. I don’t believe preventive care should be about changing anyone, but rather giving the person a chance to see a different perspective and a different side of things. The personal transformation which transpires from that will help the person loosen up in the way they are meant to loosen up, rather than forcing a way of being on them. We’ve seen that force isn’t a healthy dynamic between “patient/client” and doctor many times.

Where Does This Leave Us?

If you are a provider, take into account everything. I’m sure that’s something that’s taught over and over again, in fact I know it is because I’ve heard it in every psychology class I’ve ever taken. But sometimes we forget. And sometimes we don’t mean to forget. Sometimes we get wrapped up in what our job is versus what our job could be. And that’s when it’s important to take a step back and really engage with people, understanding them on a personal level. It’s a two way street here: while it’s up to us consumers to take our health into our own hands, it’s also up to providers to guide us appropriately when we might not be able to take our health into our own hands.

There’s a notable difference between doctor’s who are genuinely curious about what’s ailing you and those who want to help, but come equipped only with the DSM.

Where Do We Fit?

Adobe Spark (5)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the middle man lately, us “moderates”.

In the current system of mental health, there are three labels which determine the level of “care” you receive: “Mild”, “Moderate”, and “Severe”.

There’s no doubt that some people face deeper challenges than some of us, someone always will. But have these organizational categories really organized the system into something that’s useful?

Mild

Alright, the milds. I was in this category for a brief period when the only diagnosis I held was Social Anxiety. First I was told I’d grow out of it. Secondly, I was told I’d grow out of it. Thirdly, again, GROW OUT OF IT.

I was called shy, told to “speak up” so frequently the phrase has become something I despise. The worst thing I think, though, was when people walked up to me and said “you’re so quiet”. I–I’m aware I am, I’m glad you’ve realized it as well. That too, I began regarding as an insult. I’m still highly sensitive to these words.

Because no one really saw the level of distress I held on my shoulders, and because I couldn’t properly express that distress because I didn’t understand it, I was told by therapists that I just needed to get out there and expose myself to social crowds. I did. It didn’t help much. And when I said that, well, it’s because things take time and I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The mild category is where those of us with anxieties, sometimes depression, and other experiences like phobias are tossed away. We’re taken serious, but often not serious enough.

Severe

This is where you want to land in the world of mental health IF you want serious care. This isn’t where you want to land in the world of mental health if you want to maintain dignity and independence, because sometimes the “Care” that’s provided steals those right from under your feet. You won’t even see it coming. Like a snake in the grass. Wear high, rubber boots if you’re wading in this swamp.

Damn, my jokes are lame.

This is often where you’re placed briefly if you’re being hospitalized. It’s also where you hear of the “severe mental illnesses”, people labeled with schizophrenia or bipolar 1, schizoaffective, DID, sometimes OCD, and so on.

Of course there are different layers to this thing we call diagnosis because it’s SO scientific, and someone labeled severe can eventually jump down to Moderate and even mild depending on what kind of treatment they receive, what they are told about themselves, and what they choose to believe about themselves and their life.

With my most recent hospitalization, all previous diagnoses were thrown out the window. Four options were put under a microscope: Bipolar 1, Depression with Psychotic Features, Psychosis NOS, and Schizoaffective, and there’s still no consensus as different opinions yield different results. Psychiatry is very scientific, I’m telling you.

I’m not one to chase a diganosis, but what they put on that little piece of paper will determine, in combination with my experiences, the level of “care” I’m given (with insurance limitations), regardless of what I feel I really need. Complicated.

Those with the “severe” label often are those who are homeless, who can’t have a “coherent” conversation (to the outside observer), who can’t take care of personal hygiene, and who can’t work. Disability benefits is often one of their life lines.

Moderate

I think this category wasn’t created intentionally, but as a result of people who were a combination of both of the above. For myself, there are times when I am what they call functional, and times where I am what they call not functional. Where do I go? In the moderate pile. What do I get in the moderate pile? Well . . . not much.

Therapy every couple of weeks is nice I guess.

Often, those of us who have been neglected and/or abused in some way in the past, whether that abuse was intentional or not, have trouble speaking up for ourselves. We’re trapped in that victim mentality, and that can render therapy useless at times. It also means we need a little more guidance and help understanding what is healthy and what isn’t–because we never learned. This means: what is a healthy way to treat ourselves? What is a healthy way to treat others? When do we know our relationships and friendships aren’t healthy?

Therapy can help with that. Support from multiple outlets can help with that. Moderates don’t always have the option of intensive support because we’re decently functional: we shower most of the time, we have a place to live even if that place isn’t healthy, and most of the time we have some source of income, whether it’s part time work, freelance work, or full time work.

The problem with this category is often it can lead to “severe states”. And you have to wait until that point before you’re really serviced.

What Can We Do?

It’s time this “moderate” category get taken serious as a category. Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome, the DSM board’s attempt at bridging the gap between “moderate” care and “severe” care, their attempt at launching a preemptive strike on psychosis, failed majorly.

We don’t need more diagnosis to bridge that gap. In fact, that’s the last thing we need. We just need more of a focus on the moderates. We need programs dedicated towards us. We need care specialized towards us. It’s not that difficult: if we can do it for the “severe”, we can do it for the “moderates”.

This also requires us moderates to really vouch for ourselves. It requires us to step outside of what we’ve been taught and really express the struggle we face. Because what we stuff down has to come out eventually, and that’s what launches those of us in the moderate category into the severe.

“A closed mouth don’t get fed”. Yet another saying jammed down my throat I’ve learned to hate, regardless of how truthful it is.

If you’re a moderate, get involved in something. If therapy is the only thing you receive, and you feel it isn’t helping, reach out your fingers into other options, I know I’ve been trying to. Support groups, peer mentors, community groups, retreats (if you’ve got that kind of money), anything that will support you.

You are your biggest support, until the system catches up.