I hate Kanye, He’s Awesome

I have to jump on this bandwagon because I’m hearing a lot of opinions in the mental health social media community (that’s a thing now. Dear Lord.) about Kanye’s recent interview with David Letterman. The interview is on Netflix.

They talked about a few things. Clothes, art, and Kanye’s “church”. I don’t–I won’t comment on whatever all that is about.

Whatever.

When they first get into the mental health stuff, Letterman attempts to sum up Kanye’s bipolar diagnosis in an “easy” and “simple” way. He states “the synapses get fatigued and say ‘we’re not carrying this message anymore'”. I won’t ding Letterman for this, nor Kanye for agreeing with it because neither of them have probably ever read a neurology or psychology textbook in their life. But to make it clear, synapses aren’t getting fatigued. If we could tell you what was happening in any mental health condition, they wouldn’t exist anymore.

Kanye gets to a point where he needs to get something off of his chest. He says there’s a moment he experienced in his treatment that needs to be changed and if any of you have read even just one of my many posts, you’ll know that I smiled largely as I guessed what that experience was.

He explains that in the moment of one of his episodes, he feels hyper paranoid about everything, that everyone is an actor, everything is a conspiracy. I’d say that’s pretty similar to what many of us feel. He says, “you feel everyone wants to kill you and they handcuff you and drug you and put you in the bed and they separate you from everyone you know. Something I’m so happy I experienced myself so I can start by changing that moment.”

He’s talking about forced/coercive treatment, but also about the general vibe when you’re hospitalized. The last time I was taken against my will, no family was allowed to visit me until I was transferred to a different hospital an hour away where no one could come visit me anyway. While in the crisis unit, I continuously called my mother asking what the hospital staff were telling her, because they wouldn’t be honest with me and I didn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t. People were possessed and impostors and unreal and I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t feel that also extended to their family.

Kanye very openly, and rightfully so, regards this as “cruel and primitive” and I agree to an extent. Is it smart to have all ten family members crammed in the hospital with you while you’re crippled by voices and dread? Probably not. But if, for whatever reason, you have just one person you can even remotely trust for two halves of a second, blocking that contact with the outside world only pushes you further in your head. As Kanye said: “This is like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more.”

Then, the big controversy comes: the meds.

I figured his opinion wouldn’t be very popular.

He said he has been medication free for eight months. Some of the crowd claps. I would have. Wouldn’t you clap for your friend or parent who was able to come off their blood pressure medication? Do they run the risk of raising it with bad eating habits and lack of exercise just as Kanye runs the risk of being carried away by mania while refusing to take care of his mental health in other ways? Can’t your friend’s blood pressure rise again for no clear reason, just as Kanye’s mania can come unprovoked? Doesn’t your friend run the risk of death just as Kanye theoretically would were he to dip into a serious low? If everyone in the world wants to compare mental health to physical health, then compare it that way too.

But, Kanye is very clear he’s not advocating for everyone to go off their meds. How have people missed this? I have the quote right here, verbatim: “When we clap at the idea of not being on medication–my form of mental health I think is like the luxury version of it. There’s people who can’t function without medication. So I’m not advocating–I’m telling you MY specific story.”

It’s the same thing I tell others. All. The. Time. Yes, I’ve gone off and on meds. Yes, there were times the meds were extremely necessary. And there were times they were a detriment. And for ME, my PERSONAL DECISION was that I have always felt better off medication than on. And I needed to choose: be compliant with meds 100% or leave them alone 100%. It was the on again off again that was torturous.

So even with Kanye stating specifically his personal experience, we think we have the right to tell him what’s better for his body, basically stigmatizing our own. I’ve never once told a mental health peer to go off their meds. But I’ve been told thousands of times by peers to go back on meds. That’s like a religious fanatic: don’t tell me about your atheist or Muslim or Jewish views, but let me tell you about the love of Jesus Christ and why you should accept him into your heart because that’s what’s best for you, that’s what will save your soul.

It’s hard to feel accepted with a mental health diagnosis. It’s even harder when your own people are against you.

Letterman then goes on to explain his own experience with medication and the advances in medication targeting specific areas of the brain (which is just misinformation) and says that medication is what helped him see clearer. Kanye, at some point, reflects that it’s great for him that he found a medication with the least amount of side effects that works for him. That’s the only way to respond. That’s the way I often respond.

My point? Why does Letterman get praise for pushing the efficacy of medication he has proven he doesn’t understand the chemistry of, and Kanye get flack for choosing to go through his mental health journey in a different way? Because medication works for you? Because it’s saved your life and you want to save him too? What if he doesn’t need saving?

This ties into so many topics. Coercion, publication bias, and this idea that we know what’s best, that we have the right to force help on someone.

This isn’t a man in a coma who would never want to sign a DNR. This is a man who is conscious, albeit not in your reality. And that makes you uncomfortable–maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve seen how families can fall apart. Whatever it is. But the point is we must eradicate your discomfort by subduing his experience.

This is coming from someone who recognizes this need to help is innate and out of good intention.

This is also coming from someone who recognizes and has experienced the terror and pain that we go through. This is coming from someone who knows first hand that sitting in two week old dirty clothes, ratty hair, no food while listening and believing voices telling me I’m going to die soon, that I won’t be on this earth anymore, fucking sucks. This is coming from someone who absolutely appreciated the moment medication helped bring me from that. This is also coming from someone who recognizes medication isn’t always a life sentence.

This is coming from someone who understands that you can’t talk to your high blood pressure, but you can talk to your voices. I’d say that’s a pretty big wedge in the whole “mental health should be treated like physical health” argument.

But talking–that’s rarely encouraged in traditional psychiatry. A shame. A lot can come from it.

My point? Don’t stigmatize each other. Don’t act like we as a species have all the answers in the world. Don’t act like anyone really understands the mechanisms of any medication. And don’t thwart someone’s individuality because it clashes with your beliefs.

Two Years of What-The-Fuck

It’s pretty ironic that a few weeks ago I made a post on here saying I wouldn’t be on here for a while and instead of leaving I’ve been pulled back towards this site.

It’s been a long road. I was skimming through some of my older posts and having a laugh at not only the content, my aggressive nature which quite obviously came through in biting satirical wit, but also the comments and the beautiful souls I’ve met through this blog.

One person commented: “Are you mentally stable?”

If you have to ask that question, the answer is probably no. And I saw how many posts I wrote at 3am, 4am, 5am, and then came back the next day with either no sleep or two hours of sleep. I was busting my ass in Calculus and trying to find a job that wasn’t complete ass while simultaneously losing my mind. I’m pretty sure this blog helped me keep some kind of attachment to reality.

Then I ripped Alex Gorsky a new one (here) because there is no way in hell that man should have any kind of award in any kind of “humankindness” category. He’s a straight monster, and if I ever get the chance to meet him in person it’s going to take all of my strength not to spit in his fucking face. He hasn’t done anything that any other C.E.O of a major pharmaceutical company hasn’t done. The difference is he got caught. And I read about it. And that’s where the real danger for him is.

People ate that post up back in the day before I disabled the like button and couldn’t figure out how to get it back up, and it launched me into the blogsphere at a tremendous velocity. I became known for not only tearing apart pharmaceutical companies, but tearing apart anything and anyone who seemed to throw ethics out the window. And people who park in the red zone outside of my apartment. Fuck those people.

Where is this blog now? I have no fucking idea you guys. I basically recorded my decent into madness (I said that in some post a couple years ago) and the large gaps in between posts are indicative of me either being comatose in bed, in the hospital, or running the streets all hours of the night.

Those times consisted of a lot of weird shit. Like, weird shit. Like . . .like this:

Cat-Fish.

That isn’t even weird enough to really explain all the weirdness. I remember a lot of horrible dreams, traumatic dreams, all of which were caused by some unseen forces, dark forces, demons, which followed me around during the day, crowded my bed at night, whispered in my ears, fucked up my thoughts, intercepted them really, possessed people around me, and somehow I went to class and took notes and took exams and went to work and I guess I just sort of let my body work from muscle memory while my mind drifted into a different dimension.

At one point I remember being in hell, literal hell, and I was strapped to a torture board where some demons–I finally saw their true form, rather than the disguises they use here on Earth–turned their dial and stretched my limbs, trying to rip them from my body. That part was a dream, I’m pretty sure, but when I woke up they were still screaming at me, hissing at me, and I don’t remember much after that, just a lot of them screaming and cursing me, and they promised I would die.

One of these fucking things

Eventually I couldn’t keep up with the classes. Eventually I wasn’t picking up shifts at work, and inevitably, I stopped writing on this blog. The last hospital visit I had followed the Las Vegas shooting. Because those demons were after me, (and still are in all truth, that hasn’t gone away) they were hell bent on—

God it’s so much to explain. It’s so much to explain mini explosions detonate across my cortex when I think about it.

I believed I was here for a reason, on earth I mean, and I still believe I am. I believe everyone is. But for whatever reason this was heightened during this time, and I believed the safety of the human race essentially depended on me, and that was why so many dark forces had surrounded me–they knew what I knew, and they had to stop me.

They couldn’t physically touch me because I had the protection of my ancestors–that’s what I believed and still believe. So instead, they entered others around me. Strangers, friends, coworkers, and everywhere I went I felt attacked and unwelcome. I couldn’t tell anyone because 1) they’d think I was crazy and 2) they were all fucking in on it anyway.

So when the Vegas shooting happened, I immediately knew it happened because of me. I waited and waited and watched videos and theories and news stories, waiting for a motive to come out, and when nothing was found that only confirmed my belief: he’d been possessed and the shooting was a message to me, specifically, that they were coming for me. And that’s when they attacked my thoughts and I remember always feeling confused and drained of energy and I couldn’t sleep and I just wanted to die. I wanted to die and happened to mention my plan (I guess I didn’t really want to die anyway) and got the sheriffs called on me yet again.

I wasn’t in the hospital as long as people would expect. I have this problem. It’s called functionality.

She seems functional, albeit stressed.

Through all of this–and this built up over the course of a year, at least, maybe even two, of being out of my mind–I was still functional. I went to classes even though I had to drop them eventually. I went to work, some fucking how, and I wasn’t speaking strange or obviously disconnected from reality. I wasn’t walking down the street talking to myself or accusing people of things or anything. I was just . . . existing. A shell. My body moved, I responded to people when they spoke to me, and that was that–I was okay by mental health system standards.

And so the hospital just wanted to help me sleep. And that’s what they did. They gave me some Seroquel so I would sleep, waited for about a week, diagnosed me with Bipolar 1 this time, and tossed me to the county mental health system back in my town which gave other optional diagnoses (PTSD–which I’d already been diagnosed with, Schizoaffective–there’s a newbie, Psychosis NOS–okay?) no one ever came to a conclusion on, and then they outright rejected me. I didn’t last long enough in their system for them to conclude anything, really.

Now, the wonderful thing about all this is somehow it’s all worked out.

And the weird thing is now that I quit my medication in the worst fucking way possible, a way that almost cost me my life, I feel so much better. I still get confused by my thoughts often, but a lot of the time I feel wonderful, sparkly, like I’m connected to every inanimate and animate object on earth; sometimes I know what people are thinking, sometimes I know that they know that I’m connected to them.

I haven’t heard any voices since I abruptly stopped my medication–it’s been five months. That’s fucking unprecedented. I’ve been a conundrum in the mental health system since I was 5.

I’m back writing, and that’s a good fucking sign. Welcome to whatever the fuck this blog is now!

Perhaps I’ll find another C.E.O to drag through the dirt and hang by his/her ankles.

Sudoku and Neurotransmission

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.

 

 

How Sick Are You, Pt 2

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.

neurotransmitters-5-638

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. 

01100356-36f6-4a94-b89c-3ec0ac29f066-21kh691

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.

 

Who’s In Your Driver’s Seat?

It feels good to be back. And by being back I mean reading articles that really have meaning to them, reading tweets that aren’t just about the memearific Kim K shoot. It feels good to be reading and reporting on articles that support and disapprove of my stance. I read one this morning called “The Corruption of Evidence Based Medicine–Killing for Profit” by a Doctor Jason Fung, a Nephrologist. You can read it here.

I mostly report on the corruption within the medicine of psychiatry, but the same happens in the sector of physical health.

This isn’t surprising. As I’ve said many times, medicine is a business. It shouldn’t be, but it is. It’s the same sort of business Tobacco is: it feeds off of people’s weaknesses. That’s not to say at least medicine has the quality of “helping” some people. Without my dad’s blood pressure medicine, his pressure rises into the 200’s easy. They’ve already seen he’s had a few mini strokes none of us knew about. So I’m not here to say we need to abolish the current system. I’m here saying we need to take a closer look.

It’s not your physicians necessarily that are in on this, it’s the researchers, the pharmaceutical companies, and if you live in the United States, the insurance companies. It’s a shame the only research that gets published is the research that very obviously supports the pharmaceutical or the procedure.

Fung quotes Doctor Marcia Angell when she stated the mean truth:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to reply on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor.”

It didn’t take me two decades to reach that conclusion, and I wasn’t reluctant about it. As soon as I read anti-psychotics were given to three year old’s for tantrums, I knew something was screwy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see the profit within that.

Some psychiatrists and physicians aren’t even aware of what they’re doing half the time. My last psychiatrist wanted to raise me to 15mg of Abilify even though the research says anything about 10mg shows no real efficacy. And yet, how high up do they go in miligrams? 30. Think about that. 2mg of Abilify is 939 dollars a prescription without insurance. Abilify is one of the top-selling Antipsychotics in the U.S. Think about it. It took me digging through a lot of papers and research to even find the truth about the efficacy.

Soon all the rage will be these injections. The easiest way to trap someone on a medication is to give them one they can’t refuse. They are, of course, for the more “difficult” patients. So not only are you a patient with no rights, you’re also a patient with no rights who knows they have no rights, so you stand up to that, and that makes you difficult. Or, your experience of psychosis hasn’t been properly approached yet, and therefore you are left to sizzle in your own mind with only the fleeting hope an injection will change things. Maybe for some it does. But at what cost?

Fung makes a good point: “Evidence based medicine is completely worthless if the evidence base is false or corrupted.” 

Doctor Relman makes another good point:

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

It’s very disgraceful. This is why I have such a strong moral stance against taking medication, this is why I hate to admit that sometimes, yes, a low dosage of a medication does even out my mood. Yes, a low dosage of a medication does help me better understand and better dictate what thoughts I listen to and what thoughts I don’t.

It’s when doctors push up your milligrams because your voices haven’t gone that is the problem. Maybe the voices will never go away: if you haven’t accepted or made peace with that, that’s not a problem medication will solve. Maybe the delusional thoughts will always be there. The depression. The anxiety. If you haven’t accepted any of that, again, that’s not a problem medication will solve. 

It’s also not a problem to be solved. It’s an experience to learn from. It’s an experience to learn how to experience it in a way where you can still live the life you want to. Everyone has some kind of struggle that holds them back at some point in life. You are no different. And to sit back and say “Well, this is my ‘sickness’, I guess I’m doomed to a life of nothingness” is called giving up. That’s not acceptance.

That’s one thing that I struggle with in accepting this “mental health awareness” campaign everyone has going. They’re making awareness for the sickness, the illness, for this idea of helplessness because “your mental illness will never go away”. We should be empowering each other. We should be introducing each other to new perspectives, new ways of hearing voices, new ways of interpreting delusions, new ways of tackling anxiety, new ways of coping with depressions, new ways of experiencing mood swings. The only way we will avoid the corruption of ourselves is to keep ourselves. We can’t lose ourselves within this idea of being ill, of being sick, of needing this, needing that, being disabled.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Mainstream Psychology & Psychiatry

Alright, let’s talk about this. Some of you probably already know my stance on psychology, psychiatry, and the way the system is set up. If you’re new to this blog, and haven’t been through the ringer with me, check out the quotes at the bottom of the home page and you’ll probably get the jist really quickly.

But there’s a trend on social media that I kind of want to address. It’s this cliche thing of naming what people like to call “mental illness”. I’ll use the term here because they do, but know I don’t believe in it, and never will I call myself mentally ill.

twitter_512I came across a Tweet (yes, I use twitter: @Ipenned) today stating “Social Anxiety disorder is not to be confused with introversion–which is true. It went on to state that people who are extroverted can also have social anxiety, which is certainly true. But then they had to ruin that truth with “Social Anxiety Disorder is a mental illness and can affect anyone”.

Why does that ruin the truth? Well, as someone who has struggled with social anxiety since I was a toddler (4 years old), and we’re talking severe social anxiety, I used to faint if I got called to the front of the class, and once spoke in tongues in front of a whole class because a substitute teacher called on me and my brain stopped working. I’ve made two whole friends in my life by myself. But as someone who has struggled with this, the last thing I want to be called is ill.

I’d rather be told I experience life differently. I’d rather be told not only is it okay to be anxious, but it’s okay to not need, want, or feel pressured to make or be involved in friendships. A lot of my anxiety abated when I went off on my own. Not because I’m some sick loner that needs to get my shit together, but because I actually enjoy time to myself, and the anxiety tires me out if I’m around people too long. That’s not a problem. That’s not something that’s wrong with me. That’s me. And if other people have a problem with it, that’s on them. They don’t have the right to call that part of me an illness.

I don’t consider my psychosis an illness. I interpret things differently, I think about things differently, my perspective is often through a lens of trauma, which becomes a lens of delusion, and once I was helped to understand that, a lot of clarity ensued.

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I don’t consider my depression an illness. I’ve been through a lot in my life, including homelessness, growing up around a lot of alcohol and drugs, domestic violence, violence–that changes the way you think, the way you see things, and the way you feel. Your neurons develop different connections. That’s not an illness. That’s an environmental change, an evolution. That’s called plasticity. Depression has opened up so much beauty in the world to me, I wouldn’t be as grateful, thankful, or happy as I am today without depression. And that’s not me glorifying the situation, that’s me finding the good in what everyone says is bad.

So it frustrates me when I see people on social media promoting this idea of illness. Why are you insulting yourself? Why are you feeding into the labels? I’m so confused.

I’m confused on why people think injections of medication is a good thing. I’m confused on why that’s not seen as a trap. I get that a lot of people have trouble taking their medication, I’m one of those people, but are once-monthly injections necessary? What if the person wishes to get off and their doctor doesn’t agree? Their power is taken away. And I understand that people really wholly believe their doctor knows what’s best for them. But I’m come across many psychiatrists who instead push their own agenda and don’t listen to a word I say. How is that knowing best? How is not listening to your “patient” knowing what’s best?

I guess I’m just confused in general. I’m sick of being seen as the enemy. I’m sick of people thinking that because I refuse to feed into the hype of pop psychology that I’m in denial of my own issues. If you want to consider yourself disordered and sick and ill and put all these negative connotations on yourself, and then turn around and say you’re not your illness, you go ahead and play around with it, try to make that logically sound. I, however, refuse to play into bullshit and refuse to play into the hype.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck depression.

That’s eloquent, right?

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

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

Seems a lot easier and less damaging to me.

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

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

You’re unique.

 

 

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”.

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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.

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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.

To Recover or Not To Recover, That Is The Question

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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.

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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:

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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.

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The Future of Preventive Care

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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.