Category Archives: The Clinical Side

The place for acceptance of clinical terminology and stories alike.

COMING SOON!

There’s nothing that can convince me that this life is meant to be as complicated as we make it. There’s nothing that can convince me that we will ever find all of the answers, and to think that we have some already is naive and wishful. These are the things I think about as I backtrack in my Sudoku game, something I used to hate doing as a child because I could never get it right the first time. I have once in my life, but that was in a bout of mania. As much as I like to think it was my own brain power, it was really just a flood of neurotransmitters doing all the work.

250px-sudoku_puzzle_by_l2g-20050714_solution_standardized_layout-svgI was thinking about this the other day, about neurotransmission and Sudoku, and how they both have algorithms to describe their process. We have more neural connections in our brain than we have estimated stars in our galaxy. 1000 times more, to be exact. Sudoku has a bunch of different number possibilities, but only one answer. I fear neurotransmission is not as simple.

We have an algorithm for the probability of neural transmission: when certain neurons will fire and the chance of that happening, essentially. I believe if we do wish to describe the processes that happen in our brain, math will be the catalyst for success in that field. There are too many connections, too many variables, to settle on an explanation as simple as, say, a chemical imbalance.

I came across an essay in PLOS medicine titled “Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the Scientific Literature.” This is a big deal. Although published in 2005, their words are still very relevent today. I’m sure you have heard in commercials about psychiatric medication that “so and so disorder is a chemical imbalance, and [insert drug] works to correct that balance”. Notice they will never explain how or why, because they simply don’t know. We don’t know.

And that’s where my area of study will be, once I do graduate: let’s explore this idea of chemical imbalance and what it may mean. My ultimate goal? Disprove the theory.

That’s a long way off, and it may only be a pipe dream, but I believe I can catalyst a different type of thought in the mental health community by proving, scientifically, mathematically, whatever you want to call it, that something like a chemical imbalance cannot possibly exist. Why?

As the essay says:

Attempts were also made to induce depression by depleting serotonin levels, but these experiments reaped no consistent results [9]. Likewise, researchers found that huge increases in brain serotonin, arrived at by administering high-dose L-tryptophan, were ineffective at relieving depression.

As it also says:

Contemporary neuroscience research has failed to confirm any serotonergic lesion in any mental disorder, and has in fact provided significant counterevidence to the explanation of a simple neurotransmitter deficiency. Modern neuroscience has instead shown that the brain is vastly complex and poorly understood.

And of course, let’s not forget:

There is no scientifically established ideal “chemical balance” of serotonin, let alone an identifiable pathological imbalance. To equate the impressive recent achievements of neuroscience with support for the serotonin hypothesis is a mistake.

comic-bubble-hmm_1609021If there is no established balance, there, logically, cannot be an imbalance. This article focuses purely on serotonin and depression, but this in fact relates as well to the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia and any other neurotransmitter they claim causes certain mental health issues. These studies are indeed correlational and not experiments. What does this mean for us that struggle mentally?

It means the door is open again. It means we can find a different explanation. It means we can focus on genes. We can focus on environment. We can focus on the way society structures thought–how we’re taught to think about ourselves in the first place. We can focus on things we can change, rather than this pipe dream that a little pill that may or may not cause more harm to our bodies/brains than good, can cure anything at all.

To deny that there is a biological component would be ignorant of me. To accept the propaganda that pharmaceutical companies place in front of my eyes would be even more ignorant of me.

There could be a chance that neurotransmission is just like Sudoku, and that perhaps there is one single answer and we just have to back track and back track and back track until we find the right numerical composition. But more than likely that isn’t the case. This isn’t a pattern devised by a computer. This is a pattern devised by universal chaos and quantum processes. What is there to correct? What’s created by nature is created by nature, and for us to label that right or wrong, normal or abnormal, is rather selfish and egotistical.

What else could it be, if not a chemical imbalance then? We could brainstorm ideas for hours. Genetics–if your mother has what we label as schizophrenia, there’s a greater chance you will too. But stop. It also depends on: Environment. There’s a striking number of people who receive this label who have been through some type of sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe emotional abuse, and often voices and delusions reflect this pain. What does that tell us? That deep pain that isn’t processed properly leaves a lasting stamp on our neural connections, and turns something on and off in our genetics. Socio-economic status plays a role: think of all the homeless people you see wandering the street talking to themselves. Assume they are not on drugs, and you’re dealing with a mental health issue. You think it’s easy to get well in poverty? You think there isn’t trauma in poverty? What effect does trauma have on the brain? There are studies on this, but what does it mean for neural connections? What does any of the things I just mentioned mean?

That’s what I plan to study in my life. I’ve given up the fight against these pharmaceutical people. I can’t fight a corporation. But I can fight their bullshit research with real research.

Ironic, considering Research Methods is my LEAST favorite class.

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.

 

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.

I’m not quite sure how I feel today. My psychiatrist asked me how things were going, how my mood was, and I said neutral. I’m not depressed, I’m not joyful, I just am. I feel like I’m in the mode of just existing again. I know it’s the medication.

I also notice a lot of loneliness creeping in. When I’m home at night by myself, at least. It’s as if I constantly need to be around people, and I’m not a people person. In fact, people wear me down too quickly. I dissociate and distance myself from them. But lately I’ve been needing to be around good company, constantly, as if I’m distracting myself from something.

That’s what it feels like. As if all the old emotions that are being brought up in therapy for the first time are riding the waves and the tide is bringing them onto shore. Only the shore is not equipped to handle these kinds of wave breaks, nor what the waves drag in.

I feel that I’m having to relearn who I am, what I believe in, and a good friend pointed out to me that after such a fall, it’s like starting a new relationship with yourself. And in starting a new relationship you need patience, kindness, compassion, and many other things I need to learn to show to myself.

This is going to be a short post today. I just don’t feel like writing about myself tonight, or anyone else for that matter. I miss bits and pieces of the life I had before the psychosis. I miss the old relationship I had with myself, even though the old relationship I had with myself wasn’t healthy. But it was comfortable. And that’s the painful part: losing that comfort.

And that’s today’s mental truth.

 

I didn’t think I’d make it to 23. I thought for sure I’d kill myself before then, or get possessed into damnation and die while the priest tried exercising the demon. After the Las Vegas shooter and the stint of psychosis and hospital visits that succeeded it I wasn’t sure what was going to come next. I certainly didn’t expect to move out of my parent’s apartment, start looking for a new car, a second job, and start school again.

I still remember the first day paranoia hit me like I’d never experienced. That was the day I learned the difference between anxiety and paranoia. I was no longer anxious, I was fearful, I was suspicious, and I was sold on the idea that those classmates were jealous of me and formulating a plan to get me kicked out of college. I was for sure they were reading my blog posts and wanting to shut that down as well. On top of that, I believed a coworker was invading my body and controlling my movements, intercepting my thoughts, and preventing me from speaking. I spend days sitting in front of my computer watching YouTube with the lights off and a blanket over my head. I couldn’t go out into the kitchen and get a damn bowl of cereal without feeling my movements weren’t my own.

That was almost two years ago to this date.

Then some conflict happened at work that made me question the trust I had in myself and trust I put in others. I had just begun trusting people for the first time in my life and when that was broken things spiraled quickly out of control. I was convinced the shooter was possessed by the same demons who were possessing my coworkers and they shot all those people as a warning to me. I started seeing women with their heads spinning around like the exorcist and hearing voices telling me to strangle my cat, telling me I was a “dead man walking” (even though I’m a woman) and making my footsteps echo like I was walking through the halls of hell. They showed me where I would be in hell through dreams, and tormented me in ways that would seem normal: nightmares, bad thoughts, e.t.c., things that don’t make me look “crazy” so they wouldn’t be caught. I’d see faceless people following me down the street at night.

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I can’t put these events in order because everything sort of blends together. I worked 4 or 5 days out of the week for two consecutive weeks and it broke me. I ended up back in the hospital and that’s where I received a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, on top of my past diagnoses of PTSD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression, and GAD. Out of the hospital, I received a revised diagnosis of Psychosis NOS: considering I’ve never had a stint in Mania in my life, it made sense from a professional standpoint.

I don’t tell what my diagnoses are not because I’m ashamed but because they don’t really matter. What matters is the experience, how I cope, and how others can cope. I don’t define myself or anyone by diagnosis, I don’t call them sick, I don’t call them “mentally ill”; in fact, I regard that as an insult.

If we want to reduce something like stigma we need to advocate for ourselves in a way that shows we are the same as everyone else, but with a different perspective on things in life. The brain is as unique as a finger print, I’ve said it many times on this blog, and that essentially crushes the idea of standard identity: no one is standard, there is no standard. There is only variety.

If we want people to take mental health seriously, we need to show them we aren’t dangerous, we aren’t crazy, we aren’t sick, we aren’t ill, we are strong, empowered people who struggle and are able to cope with that struggle in whatever way we can. We are people who have a lot of offer to this world, and perspectives to share with the world. We can work, we can live independently, we can choose to take medication or not and if you don’t believe me (even though I’m walking proof of that), please refer to Soteria house with Psychiatrist Loren Mosher and this post here.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

Something I’ve noticed about this world today, and maybe you’ve noticed it too, is that social media has become the main platform for not only giving news, but receiving news, updates, and connecting with people. You all know that I’ve got a Twitter (@Ipenned), and an Instagram (@Written_in_the_photo), as well as a Booksie account (@ImpulsivelyPenned) and this blog. One crucial element I feel that has been missing from my social media life (besides Facebook which I rarely ever go on) is a YouTube Account. I’ve been talking about making one for ages and I think I will finally follow through with my talk.

I will be starting it up in the next few days. What will I talk about it, you ask? What will it be about? I’m thinking of weaving some mental health stuff in, information about peer support, where to find it, how to find it and how to give it.  Maybe some gaming, some rants, a little bit of everything, and some shoots of the ocean to show you the life I live and the travels I go on.

If there is anything you would like to know about me for the first video, or about peer support most importantly, post your comments down below or email me some questions through my contact page. I will be answering questions in the first video. I would also like to collaborate with people who are also up-and-coming YouTubers, people who are just beginning, or who have begun and would like a new face on their channel. If you are any of those people, or any other people, contact me through my contact page and I’ll surely address you.

This is an exciting time for a millennial like me, all this new technology, and I figured I might as well take advantage of it, despite the hate I may get. I think one of the best ways to get a message out there is to try. And YouTube seems like a great way to connect with people I’ve never had the change to connect to before.

So again, have any questions or comments or maybe even concerns, shoot them in a comment below or send them to me through my contact page. We’ll see where this journey leads us.