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.

 

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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.

Eleven years old was the first time I wanted to kill myself.

I remember the day pretty well. We were living with a family in their house behind Burger King. We’d been there maybe a few weeks, and had a room to ourselves–my mother, father, and me. It was better than where we were a few weeks before, which was some hotels and a tent. The woman who owned–or rented, I’m not sure which–the house worked as a worker at an animal shelter and liked adopting and fostering different kinds of animals. At one point there was at least four+ dogs in the house, one of them as large as a medium sized bear. The PitBull puppy they brought home they named DeBo (think about the movie Friday) was six months old and he helped me overcome my fear of dogs. I’ve loved Pitbulls every since. They are a bunch of sweeties.

But the day I wanted to kill myself DeBo wasn’t there. I was with a small white kitten who loved me. I can’t remember what they’d named him. But he curled up next to me on a bench they had shoved underneath a tree in the front yard. I was listening to fucking Chamillionaire’s “Rain”, writing, and crying. I remember the words coming into my head: I should kill myself. What did I have? I didn’t have a home, I’d lost all my stuff (what we couldn’t fit in a small storage unit, we had to toss in the dump, including my bed), I didn’t have friends at that point, my father was drinking a lot, and my mother worked all the time. I didn’t see prospects of the future, and I certainly couldn’t see me sitting here at 23 writing about this.

I remember feeling hopeless, feeling worthless, feeling confused, and listening to a depressing song really wasn’t helping. I don’t remember what I did the rest of that day, a lot of crying, a lot of writing, a lot of music. It’s like the moment is just a snapshot in time.

This was before the woman’s daughters and her friends slashed the tires of our car and put a sign on our door that said they didn’t want us there. Because we really wanted to be there, with her mother drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels and taking pills and threatening to kill herself every weekend. Yeah, great environment, I really, really wanted to stay there.

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Anyway, we lost that car to their ignorance.

I think I’m thinking about these things because my therapist called our conversation out on being too logical. I don’t speak with a lot of emotion often, or include a lot of emotion when I talk about things that have happened to me, or things I have done, or pain I’ve been through. I think it’s a coping mechanism I learned over the years that needs to be broken. But it’s interesting to feel as I write this the same sense of loss I felt as a child. It’s weird for it still to linger and still to be so ingrained. It feels like I’m eleven again, sitting on that bench with that cat. It feels like I just learned they slashed our tires and one more thing that I loved dearly (it was a 1972 Ranchero) was being left behind and therefore taken away from me. Something I’ll never get back. It sounds silly, but I didn’t think three years of running around living from place to place could have this much of an impact on me as an adult ten years later. That’s trauma, I guess.

I suppose this is why I don’t think about things emotionally, or talk about them emotionally, I can never handle the emotions that surface. I’m trying to stay present to finish this post, but the tears are heavy and the dissociation is real. Emotional flashbacks, I’ve learned these are called.

I guess the conversation yesterday that I overhead about people’s depression and when it started got me thinking about my own depression. It’s interesting that these feelings mimic those feelings of loss I had when I started getting paranoid and lost all my academic abilities. There’s been a lot of loss in my life, over and over again, as I’m sure it is in many people’s lives, and I’m curious how other people deal with it in a healthy way. I’m not sure I know how. I don’t think I ever learned.

When did your depression start? How have you dealt with it? How do you deal with loss? Those are questions I wonder about you, reader.

And that’s today’s mental truth: loss is a bitch.

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.

 

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.

Songs have a beautiful way of expressing things we struggle to speak. Tonight I am listening to The Strumbellas, and I fell in love with their songs “Spirits” and “Shovels and Dirt”. I think each line has something impressive to offer. It’s hard to miss the main line in spirits: “I’ve got guns in my head and they won’t go, spirits in my head and they won’t go”.

And I think “it ain’t worth livin’ if you don’t get hurt” and “I’ve got a head full of darkness and darkness is good” is also two of the most beautifully truthful lines I’ve heard, along with “Well demons pull me side to side again, yeah well I’m scared to sleep and I hate my friends . . .” I never knew it was so easy to sum up psychological pain.

Is darkness good? A lot of my depressions have been bad, the episodes have driven me into self-destruction and put me through a lot of pain, but the beauty that has come out of that pain has been magnificent. I’ve done some of my best writing. I started this blog. I played some of my best on the piano. Without that little bit of darkness, half of me wouldn’t exist. The darkness is me, and it’s a part of me I couldn’t live without.

That being said, I’ll be in the Santa Monica area tomorrow. Sometimes it’s nice to push aside the darkness and have a little fun.

I don’t talk much about my writing projects on here, but most people know I write short stories as well as some poetry that I think is shit. I’ve been to some fiction workshops, and I’m taking yet another fiction class this semester, but I’m shit at communicating with other writers. Maybe if we write back and forth, I can communicate with them, but not many are willing to do that.

So, if there are ever any fellow writers out there who are serious about their writing, and would be willing to give me some thoughtful, constructive criticism on my work in return for a batch of my own thoughtful, constructive criticism on their work, please get in contact with me. I have a few writing projects that I want to push forward, but I need some more reassurance and criticism before I do.

I’m not quite sure what this post is. Remember when I used to do these kinds of vagabond posts where each paragraph is something completely irrelevant to the previous one? I took some Melatonin and I’m hoping it will knock me out soon so I don’t have to torture you all any longer.

Love yourself. You are enough.

And that’s today’s mental truth. Well, tonight’s mental truth. It’s almost tomorrow’s mental truth. I’ll blog about my Santa Monica experience. I’ll be sharing pictures on instagram, you can follow me there @ Written_in_the_photo, and my twitter @Ipenned. I don’t use Twitter much, and I just created a new account, so there’s not much there, but if you’re a big twitter person, you might get a kick out of things I retweet.

Anyway, enough of this shit post. Ali, Out.