Unveiled

It’s not often I share a portion of my creative writing on this blog, but I feel like I might as well, it might help me get back in the groove of writing. I also don’t write poems often, nor do I ever follow any forms of poetry when I do write them (so cut me some slack on that, poetry fanatics) but here’s a poem I wrote last night just freely, without restriction or editing. I posted it on Booksie, along with the one following it, but would like to put it here as well. I’m changing the title to: “Veiled”

 

Unveiled,

The truth has thorns,

and the darkness has arms;

happiness lies, and anger explodes.

We move along this common ground,

you and I,

a soup of emotions, ready to blow.

The nature of progression pushes us forward;

we move silently through strife,

and why, who knows.

Plant our feet carefully between mines

we know are there yet we cannot see,

and be, we try, with ourselves,

however bitter that may seem.

We come across a stream that flows free,

how we wish we could be,

blue, crisp, and clear,

with a purpose dear,

to this Earth,

and we envy the stream.

But free we are in the mind and heart,

as the stream can never be,

rejoice, I say, for we are unique.

Unveiled,

the darkness has arms,

and we have voice.

 

This one is entitled “Freedom”. 

 

A renewing of strength,

I stretch my fingers, crack my neck,

I feel I haven’t lived for years.

 

The sun shines bright, an orange morning light,

and I wonder how long this will last,

this time I know this is real.

 

Birds chirp their welcome songs,

trees dance in the breeze,

and I observe it all,

a caged bird now freed.

 

A renewing of strength,

this feels contagious,

a bubbling pot on the stove not contained by any lid,

a new homeostasis.

 

This is freedom

in its purest form,

a feeling unmatched by others,

but envied by them.

Extravagant and glorious,

it makes you harmonious

with the past,

present,

and future.

A trick only freedom can do,

this renewal of strength.

 

Let me know what you think.

I Wonder . . .

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One of humankind’s greatest assets: our ability to wonder.

The best thing about wonderment is that it’s free. It’s free and anyone can utilize it. All you need is a little curiosity, a little motivation. The best thing about curiosity is you don’t have to be the brightest mind in the history of bright minds to embrace it.

There’s this odd phenomena across the globe causing people to think intelligence is truly quantifiable. It’s leaking into neuroscience as well, as they attempt to quantify consciousness.

How do you see yourself, anyway? Do you see yourself as someone who is curious? Who is playful? Who is open-minded? Smart? Unfortunate? Disturbed? Dumb? How much of how you see yourself does the world see?

I didn’t know I was smart until I knew I was smart. And I knew I was smart when I gave myself a chance to show myself what I could do.

shutterstock_56110372It’s a shame, I think, that we often get caught up in the idea of competition. It fuels our ego when we win and (for some) motivates better from us when we lose. Sometimes it motivates us to the point of self destruction. Sometimes we get so busy scrambling up a ladder that we don’t realize the top disappears into the clouds. And then we pause our thoughts and see the others climbing up their ladders ahead of us, all around us, and we see their success as a reflection of our failure. Then we start climbing down and we hide. We hide and we look up at the others and we remind ourselves we’re not them.

We get the sense that our struggle is also a reflection of failure. We get the sense that because we can’t compete with them, we have no right to compete at all. We miss the fact that we haven’t been competing with anyone but ourselves.

I speak on this as a smart person, formally labeled dumb. I speak on this as a person with so many ideas, so much curiosity, who wasted so much time ignoring both of those things trying to find a logical reason for why I failed in so many areas of life. Putting an algorithm on life is like trying to capture a wasp in flight on the tip of a sewing needle.

About 50 people, online and in the real world, have asked me over these last few months why in the peanuts-lucy-psychiatristworld I would ever want to go into something like Psychiatry. Some people call it a pseudoscience, some people call it corruption, some people say it kills, some people say it saves, some people call it medicine. I disagree with no one and I agree with no one. It’s whatever you want it to be.

It’s man attempting to fix what doesn’t need to be fixed.

It’s, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “the sad confession, and continual exemplification of the short-comings of the composite man–the spirit burthened with clay and working in matter–and of the despair that assails the higher nature, at finding itself so miserably thwarted by the earthly part”.

It’s this consistent belief that we can one day have a power over nature that nature could never fathom to have over us. It’s the idea that because we have this incredible gift to wonder, to be curious, to create, to calculate, to consider, that we should separate ourselves from something as simple as natural simplicity. It’s a portion of the arrogance of man.

If anyone was wondering, that’s my definition of Psychiatry.

You don’t have to be smart to be a psychiatrist. It would help, but it’s not necessary. Hell, you don’t even have to know anything about neuroscience or psychology to be a psychiatrist.

We have this weird impression in society that because someone obtains something like a medical degree, they are smart. Because we have this impression of them, we trust their advice more often than we would trust the advice of someone off the street. Sometimes we even refrain from asking questions because we might feel stupid, or because we’re not sure if it’s the “right” thing to ask.

That disturbs me. It disturbs me because that’s squandering curiosity. And to squander curiosity, especially when it involves your own health, your own body, your own mind, and your own future, should be a hate crime.

I would hate to perpetuate fear and suspiciousness. But I would hate more so to perpetuate submissiveness. 

quantum_mechanicsLittle known fact: before I chose this career path, I had my eyes set on a doctorate in physics. Theoretical and particle physics blew my mind; they always will. I spent countless hours in high school reading books about entanglement, and dark matter, and light, and gravity, and multiverse theory, and string theory, and although I hadn’t the slightly clue what the math equations in the quantum mechanics books meant, I knew it was something generations of curious people had been working on for some time now and that, to me, was something to admire much more than Justin Beiber, Bieber, Beaver, whatever.

I recognized that much of the math was only proving what hundreds of Native and indigenous people all over the place, including China, had been saying since they had the ability to tell stories. That, to me, was something else to admire: the merge between spiritual and scientific.

There are so many things in this world and so many more things outside of this world. It’s a crime to lock yourself inside of a box in your mind and focus so much on hurt, and pain, and struggle, that you keep yourself from looking up at the sky at night. It’s a shame that we trap our minds on Earth with our bodies.

Wonder! Create! Be curious! If someone calls you crazy for it, take it as a compliment: it seems only the crazy ones find meaning in the meaningless, and that’s pretty impressive.

Why psychiatry then? To remind people there are so many things in life to wonder about, to worry about, to obsessive about, and your sanity shouldn’t be one of them. 

 

What’s Your Story?

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That’s essentially my take on life at this point.

As I write this, I sit with a scratchy throat of which I will throw miniature tantrums over until it is gone.

Thank you all for the 400 followers, that’s more than I could have hoped for in the beginning of this blog. For the new comers, welcome, you don’t know what you signed up for but thanks for signing up.

Anyway, this semester I’m taking a creative writing course. We cover fiction, drama, and poetry  and it’s been an interesting experience thus far.

I know the blog-sphere is full of published writers, non-published writers, want-to-be published writers, want-to-not-be-published writers, writers who are a million times better than I could hope to be, and beginners. So periodically I’d like to share some of the different outlines we use to spark creativity, and I’ll probably share excerpts of my own until people get annoyed with my shitty . . . shit.

My vocabulary is astounding.

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This week, the first week of classes, she had us describe our life in six words. Then, as a twist after we came up with the stupidest things we could have thought of, she decided to let us go home with an assignment of “develop a 250 word ‘Story of your life’, all centered around the six sloppily thrown together words you came up with”.

Everyone else came up with things like “Born and raised in California, Baby” or used words to describe their life like “shy girl, no friends, something, something” (I can’t remember what everyone fucking said).

Me? No, my brain is a magnet for the abstract, so my phrase was “Fire, water, and some more fire”.

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Here is the 250 rough draft I slapped together over these last few minutes:

In the beginning, there was fire.

Fire foretold more fire, but in a foreign language and therefore was incomprehensible. I came into the world with little fight and a naïve sense of security that the fire would soon target, lock, and destroy.  The flame first licked my skin in infancy when my cries of confusion were met only with a discontented “girl, you better shut up!”. The flame encased the house at the discovery of alcohol and narcotics, and scorched my skin with the disadvantages of poverty and eviction. Although the number one antagonist, the flame and I danced our way through life side by side, lost without each other and lonely without the misery of one another.All that flew from my mouth was fire, all that perspired from my pores was lava, and all that my emotions could emulate was the reaction of cesium in water.

Education enticed the flame larger. Written word was my only true form of communication, spoken word a mystery but required nonetheless. Barked phrases of “speak up!” Or “you’re too quiet” haunted my nightmares and I, verbally inept, silenced myself to avoid the struggle of fighting for words in my own mind.

Water doused the edge of the flames at 18 when I saw through the smoke screen that the fire and I were never friends,but parasitic leeches upon one another. Water brought the gentle and fierce understanding fire would always exist, but that the heat could always be lessened.

Now.

First of all, excuse any mistakes, this is a rough draft. A very rough draft.

That is also a very accurate description of my life, however abstract. I wanted to have people read it first before I give my theory on where all of that came from.

From it I gather I’ve described the “fire” part of my life, the unpredictable yet somehow almost predestined drama and anger and pain and stupidity that accompanied me from infancy, the part which I regarded as my best friend, my loyal friend, as a parasite.

I didn’t learn how parasitic until the water came. I represent maturity and growth and selfflowing_over_dam3 realization with water because water knows when it needs to rage downstream or across mountain ridges. It knows when it needs to make itself known. It knows when to remain calm and still and let life carry on around it. It allows us to drink from it and suffer the consequences when we get too greedy. There’s an ancient wisdom about water, I think. It doesn’t flow against any force, not unless that’s what life requires, but it does flow with force, just enough to get it from point A to B.

ca-wild-fire-2-9-15A fire scorches everything it touches, whether the intention to do so is there or not. A small fire is still a fire; the only difference between a small one and a large one is that a large one covers more ground. There’s always an element of loss of control around a fire. It’s not about whether a fire will soak into the carpet or just dry on the wall and evaporate: it will spread wherever it pleases, swallowing everything in its path and leaves only charred remnants behind. That, I attribute, to my volatile attitude of my child-self, of the attitudes around me, of the unfortunate events that always seemed to surround me, and, at one confused point in time, to my mental health status.

I didn’t learn any of those metaphors until I finished writing. That’s the amazing thing about writing: one minute you have nothing and the next minute you have something.

I think this exercise is good for someone struggling to really put the pieces of their life together. I’m really anal about following instructions (you can count if you want, that excerpt is exactly 250 words), but it’s not necessary. I’m personally someone who needs to work on condensing my ideas.

At any rate, like I said, it’s good for anyone who would like to learn more about themselves, or bring together past events that were otherwise difficult to think about. Representing them abstractly seems to have helped me process some things, to show me that what I experienced is also something nature experiences, something we all experience, even animals. For whatever reason, that brings a bit of peace to my mind.

Psychopathy and The Mental Health System

Hi all.

How’s it going? Are you all doing well?

Let’s talk about psychopaths.

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I have an interesting book here that I’m reading entitled “The Psychopath Whisperer” by Kent Kiehl Ph.D.

If you know anything about this blog site or me, you know I have a fascination with all things considered actually”insane” and/or “untreatable”. Sociopathy and Psychopathy fall undoubtedly in those categories in the psychological world.

If you anything about my career goals, I also have plans of having experience as a prison psychologist or working with the most “troubled” and “ill-mannered” children in a juvenile system.

At 21 years old, I didn’t think I would ever have offers like the above like I have just because I have both a mental health background and a psychological education background. I was telling my psychologist today, everyone always thinks I’m a pretty straight and narrow kind of person, shy, quiet, kind, good in school with a plan for my life . . . when what they really don’t understand is that I’ve just never been caught doing anything and my charm is quite magnificent when I want it to be.

I have not nor will I ever murder someone, get your head out of the gutter people.

And although I’ve discussed many times here my anxiety and depression, there are times during my life where I am void of both. It’s like a switch, and I feel it, and I just go along with it. I’m a curious case, I think.

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Knowing I can fuck with people who are purposefully trying to catch me is an ego boost.

At fourteen I enjoyed taking the family car for a joyrides at two in the morning. I liked dealing drugs, I liked fucking with the staff at the school, I took a lot of pride and joy in them never knowing all of the things I did at their school. I took a lot of pride in the fact that I could lie so easily to their face and mess with their emotions and make them think I was a wonderful, albeit shy student. I took a lot of pride in knowing that was my best cover to never get caught doing anything, whether it be with the cops, my parents, strangers, or schools.

I was never wary of and am still not wary of “punishment”. I don’t commit many crimes, I don’t seek to harm people or hurt people in any way. But if a situation arose where I did want to, or I had to, I know I could do so rather easily and weasel away unscathed.

Which is what drives me interested into the realm of the “psychopath”.

There is an actual difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. A sociopath is labeled with Antisocial Personality disorder once they are caught committing a crime and their history is examined. A psychopath is labeled as such via the PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist Revised).

Convenient, right?

What is the list you ask?

 

  • Glib and superficial charm
  • grandiose estimation of self
  • need for stimulation
  • pathological lying
  • cunning and manipulativeness
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
  • callousness and lack of empathy
  • parasitic lifestyle
  • poor behavioral controls
  • sexual promiscuity
  • early behavior problems
  • lack of realistic long-term goals
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • many short-term marital relationships
  • juvenile delinquency
  • revocation of conditional release
  • criminal versatility

Read more: http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Hare-Psychopathy-Checklist.html#ixzz4CMgJUPC

Most assuredly we all have a bit of understanding towards these terms, I’m sure we all know what grandiosity is and pathological lying, irresponsibility and impulsiveness. We all have general definitions for these things.

judge-with-arms-crossedRevocation of conditional release is essentially the individual repeatedly failing to “redeem” themselves when given an opportunity. For example, you get arrested, you go to jail for 180 days and you never return back–you learned a “lesson”. Your friend gets arrested and goes right back to that life.

“Parasitic Lifestyle” can be summed up as a lifestyle which consistently interrupts relationships in an unfortunate way, like purposefully being a couch potato or constantly draining your parents and or friends of money without any compensation or intention of compensation.

Need for stimulation isn’t like a “poke me with a pin” or “brand my ass with a cow prod” kind of stimulation, it’s more of a “I need to get involved with something” kind of need. I need to feel that rush, I need to mess with these people, create a shockwave.

What is most interesting, in my eyes, about the idea of psychopathy, is the induction of philosophy and personal bias into the characteristics.

For example, in the book I mentioned above the author did a miniature case study comparison on John Wilkes Booth (President Lincoln’s Assassin) and Charles Guiteau (President Garfield’s assassin). In the category of “Callousness/Lack Of empathy”, the author gave an excerpt of one of Booth’s letters where he claims himself a confederate doing duty upon his own responsibility and pledges his love for the Southern half of the united states.

The author goes on to say :

“Booth had adopted the racist ideology of the time. Personally, I find it very difficult not to score a racist who endorses slavery high on the Callous/Lack of Empathy. However, we have to review the rest of Booth’s life. In it we fine little evidence of any callousness or inability to empathize with others. Since we find evidence in only one domain of his life, we must score him in the low to moderate range”.

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I despise slavery as well. I have slaves and cotton pickers in my ancestry after all. It’s ruined generations of my family  and only served to add more fuel to the historical trauma fire that colonialism started.

But it would be biased of me to score someone’s level of empathy based on a belief system they acquired through the systematic brainwashing of their childhood. If I was raised under a strict conservative household to believe blacks are ignorant, ill-mannered animals not worth the dirt under my shoes, how I treat them is a result of what I was told as a one year old, a two year old, a three year old, e.t.c.

Some people grow out of that. Some people see the damage they cause by such belief and they choose to believe something else. They make a choice. Some do not. Do either of those paths effect how callous of an individual you are? If I were taught one specific thing and never experienced a reason not to (such as leaving the family, the state, the environment, e.t.c) why would I feel the need to be empathetic towards that one specific thing?

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I’m not giving an excuse to these people. I understand the majority of people believe that because slavery is horrid, endorsing it and racism in any fashion represents callousness towards humans and/or ignorance. I don’t disagree.  I’m simply asking how much of what you are taught results in the level of emotion you feel towards others and whether or not that can be critically and unbiased-ly judged abnormal, normal, wrong, or right by beings who are inherently biased.

Morality and Ethics is a tough subject in philosophy because one realm takes the side of “majority rules” as what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”. The other realm takes the side of “You’re taught what is right and wrong by a select few who decided what was right and wrong and you have to decide for yourself”. Some realms sum it up to feeling and personal opinion. It’s not something I claim to be an expert in, nor is it something I claim has a right or wrong answer: that would defeat the purpose of discussing this.

80917c90c6d36e170c70f5f15c054d0eThe problem I see here more so than anything is that we judge character, particularly in regards to mental health, on how we believe someone should act. Even when we try not to, we are human, and therefore we will make that mistake indubitably.

In the psychology/psychiatry field, what happens is what becomes normal is what we’re told is normal and what becomes abnormal is what we’re told is abnormal. And what we miss is the entire story of both individuals. We fish for symptoms and characteristics to match them to a chart and they become just another person with a problem. 

(Psychopathy is an exception here, they obviously could care less what you call them, fisherman like to fish so they fish; killers like to kill so they kill. That’s the world).

But that’s just my opinion, as flawed and biased via experience as anyone else’s. I’m sure you see the conundrum now. 

 

Genetics and a Book Recommendation

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I woke up feeling blank as usual and lay in bed in this robe that, honestly, I’m getting sick of feeling on my skin. I spent twenty minutes . . . a half hour . .  . an hour staring at the wall listening to thoughts pass behind my eyes that made no sense at all and then, because I’m terrified of spiders and always wonder about them, put my ear to my wall wondering if I could hear them scurrying around in the wood. No such luck.

After that charade was over I figured I’d trudge out into the kitchen and get some food before my stomach killed me.

It’s two in the afternoon.

I sat at this computer with my food, purposefully avoiding the second email from my previous employer, and got prepared to stare at a screen for another twenty hours.

5231811-a-bowl-of-spilled-neopolitan-ice-cream-on-white-carpet-that-is-melting-stock-photoDays mesh together like strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate in a bowl in 100 degree weather, and I’m sure I’ve mastered the art of existing, regardless of the circular philosophy you send yourself in at an attempt at defining it.

That being said, thank you to those of you sending encouraging words. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like much to just send a positive word to someone but just reading them reminds me I’ve been through this before and can make it out alive yet again. What I will do after that I have no idea. For now, I’ll ride the wave until it crashes on the shore. Whenever that may be.

All of THAT being said, I opened my flipboard in hopes for some juicy content, something I could maybe thrust some sarcasm in, twist, and rip a few organs to shred.

I found a gem but not one to mock, one to bring attention to.

I wish it were longer. But I suppose keeping it short these days guarantees more people will take the time to read. I know it helped me get through the few paragraphs with this fucked attention span of mine. I used to be able to read, I don’t know what happened.

This article has to do with genes. It has to do with genes in relation to mental disorders, specifically schizophrenia, one disorder I feel we often attribute heritability to more often than any other. Is that because those of us in the psychiatric research world have no idea what goes on in the process of this disorder? You can bet your bottom dollar.

Do people still say that anymore?

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That reminds me, there is a book I would recommend for anyone interested. It’s called “Of Spirits and Madness: An American Psychiatrist in Africa”. By Paul Linde M.D. He discusses the lives of 9 patients he treated while in Africa, the majority of whom were suffering psychosis, mania, schizophrenia, or a combination of the three. He speaks of getting accustomed to 1) greeting everyone in the hospital every morning as a cultural requirement, 2) learning their customs 3) realizing how absent spirituality is in western medicine these days. He often asked him self “is there a possibility this person is cursed/possessed by his ancestors as the African healers suggest?” He often found the healers methods worked at times.

In Africa going to a Psychiatrist is a last resort. 

In Africa their go-to medication was Thorazine.

In Africa they don’t care about “how” an illness came about, they care about “why”.

750825-_uy400_ss400_It’s an interesting read. I’ve been going to the library and reading a chapter or two because I still owe them 50 cents and I don’t want to pay it.

Anyway, the article I read today had nothing to do with Africa. The article I read, which you can also read here is entitled “There are no ‘schizophrenia genes’ and here’s why”. Written by a couple of professors.

We all know there’s a big uproar about this, about finding a single gene to link to a mental disorder so we can finally have that biological cause that absolutely means . . .

literally, nothing.

But we want it anyway. So we spend millions on trying to find that gene rather than improving treatment standards and training professionals to help those with the disorder live the life they want to.

Logic.

These professors pinpoint the real issues about these genetic studies.

The “Rosetta Stone” gene that got published last year? The one I remember hearing about? On Flipboard?

Studied on mice and had already not been linked to schizophrenia in a 2012 study.

Harvard, good old Ivy League Donate-To-Us-And-We’ll-Give-You-A-Full-Ride-Scholarship-Especially-If-You’re-ethnic-Unless-You’re-Asian, University claimed they produced “a landmark study that provides the first rigorously tested insight into the biology behind any common psychiatric disorder”. Now if that doesn’t already sound ridiculous (it should), the findings which showed the genetic link incredibly tiny, minuscule even, got exaggerated. As usual.

sn-genetransferThere are hundreds of genes that have found to have a tiny effect, a tiny link, to all psychiatric disorders. Including Anxiety. Including depression. Including things like Autism.

This paragraph explains these warped views better than I could have summarized. I couldn’t taint this perfection with my sloppy vocabulary:

The high heritability estimates reported in earlier quantitative genetic studies don’t rule out environmental influences, but have discouraged researchers from taking social causes seriously. But we now know that there are proven strong associations between psychosis and a range of social risk factors, such as exposure to impoverished and urban environments, migration, childhood traumas (sexual or physical abuse and bullying by peers), and recent adverse experiences in adulthood. So why does the genetic story about mental illness continue to appeal?

What’s funny is that a link to an article below is entitled “Study reveals genetic secrets behind Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder”.

Give me a fucking break here, you guys. Really.

Why does the genetic story about mental illness continue to appeal? Quick fix possibility? Kill the baby before it’s born so it doesn’t suffer? An obsession with the “how” and nothing more? Another reason to call yourself defective maybe? Another reason to prove you’re not part of the average population?

What do you think?

 

 

 

The Power Of Words

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This post is going to be about a recommendation of a book I read recently, but I just saw an ad for a battery powered toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this revelation.

Want your kids to brush their teeth on their own? There’s an app for that.

With this product you are able to:

  1. Focus your brushing on your most important areas with unique, adjustable settings.
  2. Track your progress over time with intuitive graphs and charts.
  3. Motivate the un-motivatable with helpful reminders, recommendations, and rewards.
  4. Sense when you brush too hard with Pressure Sensor Alert.

According to Oral B’s website.

For $99, you can be a real life idiot–with dazzling chompers. No longer do you have to worry about your low IQ getting in the way with your job interviews and your chances of moving up in the professional world; let your teeth do the talking for you and the app do the brushing for you!

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That’s my sales pitch. I’d be a good marketer, don’t you think?

Maybe they’ll start a Facebook and Twitter share feed with the app, so you can compete with all your friends.

We do all know how to brush our teeth right? Or do we need our phones to do that for us too? Damn, if they can make an app for this, why can’t they make an app to interact with people for me? So that I don’t have to do any work on my anxiety? Make the friends for me, keep them entertained, and let me sit in my little corner and read some books and ignore reality some more. That’s the life for me.

We’re already in a virtual reality. Forget the Oculus Rift and Virtuix Omni, just step outside and look at the people driving with their phones in their hand, walking with their phones in their hand, sitting on the toilet with their phones in their hand, learning lessons in school in the classroom on the computer rather than from the teacher sitting two feet away, and now standing at their sink brushing their teeth with their phones telling them they’re doing it wrong. That’s a virtual reality.

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We do all know never to brush our teeth right after we eat right? Bacteria proliferates. We do all know the majority of tooth decay is not due to our lack of brushing or any absurd modern dentist visits, but because of the sheer sugar and chemical content in our 21st century diets, right? If you didn’t know, now you know. You could get the best app in the world and it couldn’t save you from tooth decay.

Like I said, I wanted this post to be about a book. So I’m going to calmly and collectively and respectfully (not really) ignore this dumb fucking piece of shit product that you’d have to be a moron to spend $100 on unless you literally have physical or mental issues which keep you from keeping up on your hygiene and move on to something much more profound and intellectual.

5139de622wl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Anyone ever read the novel “House Made Of Dawn” by Scott M. Momaday? If you haven’t even heard of it, I’m not surprised, but I highly recommend it. Novels these days are often in pure chronological order, you know–Beginning, Middle, End–with maybe a flashback or two for the sake of relevancy and honestly I get bored with that. Momaday is the epitome of unconventional writing and I admit when I first read it I paid way more attention to his style than the content of the story because when I write I stress to avoid tedious or obvious syntax, diction, and cliches. He did it in such a way that I was impressed; I don’t impress as easily as I’m distracted.  You’ve got to maintain a certain level of power and respect in your writing to keep me following the story.

The skill comes in avoiding confusion and predictability simultaneously.

That being said, this book is not one for the “occasional reader” or anyone who struggles in understanding power in symbolism or motifs or the unwillingness to stretch their analytical and cultural muscles. If you’ve read Song of Solomon by Toni Morison and couldn’t understand what the hell was happening, House Made Of Dawn would be bondage without the orgasmic pleasure for you. His flashbacks are continuous throughout not only for the purpose of foreshadow but as means of showing the continuity and flexibility of time with the human spirit.

tree of life (1 of 1)A great many of us find beauty in nature. But there’s a special connection to it that resonates with most american Indians who have spent their lives attuned to the old ways and the old stories and the emphasis in Momaday’s novel is unmistakable. With this descriptions you’ll find yourself connected to the tress, melting with the rain, and reveling in the spiritual and physical beauty even if you’ve spent your life in an underground bunker hiding from radioactive fallout (WW 3 everyone remember? Get ready). We follow Abel, an Indian who returns home from war stuck between the life his grandfather leads and the chaotic life of the western world. There’s murder, there’s sex, there’s religion, there’s spirituality, there’s deluded, murky-eyed priests, there’s alcoholism and there’s understanding. There’s a little bit for everyone and I think that’s partly what makes it so remarkable.

For those of you who care about recognition and awards, he got the Pulitzer for this, his first novel, in 1969.

I don’t recommend picking it up because it sounds “exotic” or because of some shallow interest, I recommend picking it up if you’ve got a true interest in the cultural values, in original style, in getting a glimpse of a lifestyle experienced by many and lived by many, in hearing a voice that isn’t often national or worldly. It may be hard to read and if you feel lost through the first reading, you’ll join the majority of non-scholar readers. It warrants a second read, absolutely.

He’s written many other books but I’ve yet to read another.

If you’ve ever thought of writing a fiction novel, I’d suggest studying his style and absorbing as much as you can from it. Most people don’t know that I’ve been working on a manuscript, because I used to hate people asking me “oh hey, really? What’s it about?”. Because, as you know, spewing your synopsis all over the place warrants the risk of negative criticism and I was often afraid of that.

I’m socially anxious, give me a break. It’s literally in my nature.

charles-barsotti-are-you-ready-to-play-give-me-a-break-i-was-only-human-new-yorker-cartoon_i-g-66-6614-vy9e100z

So I’ve got a few trusted people so far willing to give me critiques and once I hear from them, I’ll be willing to be more free with my ideas. But Momaday inspired me to a level I’ve never been inspired before. This is why it’s so important to read books, writers!

I’m a perfectionist and because of that I’m willing to dedicate as much time and energy into this as I need to. I’m not one of those people who can be satisfied with one career. My passions are many and I intend to pursue as many as I can in this short life. A lot of people say that, I know, but I’m one of those select few who sticks adamantly to their word.

I want what I do to affect many, not just me. There are few ways in a lifetime this can be achieved with the world as large as ours today, and one way is the legacy of novels, of books, of poetry, of art in general.

If I’m ever skilled enough to write with the clarity and power Momaday does, I can only hope to write something to inspire another as he’s inspired me.

That’s the power of the human spirit.

And the power of Pine-sol.

pine-sol-lady-12-10-12

The Sniffling, Sneezing, Coughing, Aching, Best-Sleep-You’ve-Ever-Had-With-A-Mental-Illness, Medicine

Warning: Controversy ahead. Not for the easily offended.

Nyquil, Don’t sue me for that title. I’ll key your car.

Anywhoooo . . . Nights for me are lonely.

I’ll take you through my process last night.

I often revert into bad habits of thinking–I’m worthless, I’ll never be “normal”, I’ll never get where I want to be, I can’t handle this, or life, or living, and I’ll never be able to. I think because my texts aren’t answered instantaneously, I’m not cared about. I feel guilty for being so emotionally needy and I feel guilty for ignoring the fact that people have their own lives and can’t dedicate 100% of their time to me. I feel even worse that I don’t have my own life–and that I wouldn’t know how to if I did. I don’t feel independent; going outside by myself is one of the hardest things for me to do. I get frustrated that I can’t feel safe–it’s not like I live in the Bronx with meth addicts–and I get frustrated knowing that this is the feeling I’ve been fighting all my life without ever having known it. I’m hurt my potential is being squashed by these habits. It’s costing me a lot of money, a lot of time, and whenever I take a leap forward and feel so good about myself, so hopeful, so thankful, I dive off the edge of a cliff into an abyss and fall just as quickly backwards fifty steps.

So what to do in this situation? Do I curl on the edge of my bed and whine and cry and scream in my pillow? Eh, sometimes. But I hate being uncomfortable and those thoughts are very uncomfortable for me. So I look for ways to distract myself.

Books are always my first go-to distraction. My professor let me borrow one by the title of “Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage”, of which I technically am, and some of the first passages I read in that book soothed my soul. Obviously I was never connected to any of my culture as a child and there were no others like me around. As the book states very blatantly, I was around people at school and in public, e.t.c. who couldn’t appreciate my background because they knew nothing about it. I was cast aside before I ever knew what an outcast was. I learned in school my ancestors were either torn apart by white invaders or put in chains as submissive slaves. Do you understand what that does to a child? It’s funny, they don’t teach about all the rebellions the Indians and the Africans caused, they don’t teach about their successes against their oppressors, and they don’t talk about the alliances formed by Africans and Indians and the peacefulness between them. Instead they teach of cultural genocide to continue cultural genocide.

For that, I raise a middle finger to the American education system. You’re pathetic. Go back to Europe and take your bullshit “democracy” with you.

Fuck Thanksgiving and fuck your Congress.

That’s a song lyric and I stand behind it 100%.

You don’t need one day to give thanks. Be Thankful everyday. Thanksgiving is a cop out.

Sure, you learned Fredrick Douglass was a runaway slave, but did you also know he was white, black, and American Indian?

If you took an accelerated history course, it was at least mentioned once that the Emancipation Proclamation had nothing to do with ending slavery–that was a “coincidental perk”, if you like. But you only spoke about it for thirty seconds.

All we ever learn about are western philosophies of government, too. You ever notice that?

You notice that you probably didn’t think about all the negativity in your life while reading that small paragraph?

Seriously, read a book, it helps.

But when my eyes get tired and I’m stuck in my own mind again, I start thinking. And last night I started thinking about all of you lovely people on WordPress, all of the lovely people who are addicted to social media and psychforums and such, and mostly about all of those in the aforementioned categories who struggle with their mental health. I got to thinking of all the posts I lurk around on and how I’ve read so many people who call themselves “sick”. They call their brain “sick”. They call themselves “ill” and they do it in a way that emits either a sense of pride for acknowledging it or a sense of learned helplessness.

I’m confused. Why do you all call yourself sick? I’m so very confused.

I’ve struggled with my mental health all my life, it’s never not caused me problems. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I have depression, you know I have my ups and downs, you know I have anxiety and anger outbursts and self-harm issues. But I’ve only once called myself sick and that was after I realized I had an actual diagnosis. This was around sixteen, seventeen. Then I thought about it and I laughed at myself and said “that’s the most ignorant name you’ve ever called yourself”.

I didn’t come to a conclusion on my own that I was “sick”. Someone told me I was. So I ask you, genuinely, who called you sick?

Despite what you think, you didn’t do it.

Probably the same system who told you the “founding fathers” of “America” were good people. The same system that taught you American History starts in 1492 with Columbus. The same system who skimmed past all the genocide of the American Natives in your history class. The same system who, if you’re African American, rarely ever spoke of the rebellion of your people against slavery in a good light besides a few obvious names (A.k.a Fredric Douglass).

What does “sick” or “ill” even mean? I picture a body under attack by another foreign body–a parasite, a bacterium, a virus. I picture a body that uses white blood cells in defense and demands more food to fuel it’s soldiers. I picture a body who needs a few days or a week to recover. I don’t, however, picture someone struggling day by day with their mental health, I don’t picture someone who has to take their medication to feel better or someone who drives an hour out of town to see the best psychologist then can twice a week. I don’t picture someone burning their skin with harmful intent or holding a gun to their head. I don’t picture someone in the bowels of depression or in the psychedelic field of psychosis. None of that is sick to me, it never has been.

A sickness is foreign. What you deal with in your mind is not foreign, it’s intertwined in you. You are the one who has to cope and struggle, and you’re the one who lives with it for most of your life. That’s not a sickness, that’s just a fact. It’s just you. And if you have a problem with that, then you have a problem with yourself and I’ll tell you right now, that’s not a pretty path to go down.

Calling yourself sick or ill is the equivalent of a special education child calling themselves retarded.

Don’t blame your struggles for your thought pattern or your actions. You have the ability to see yourself in a different light. Obviously if you’re in the middle of psychosis you’re not going to be able to stand up and say “wow, I should probably stop”, but there are some interesting people coming up with interesting therapies to combat symptoms of psychosis or of Bipolar or anything where a loss of all control is imminent. Soon we’ll see the real benefit of treating people like the humans they are.

This is the largest danger of diagnosis. How different would you see yourself if your psychologist/psychiatrist told you that you weren’t sick? If you went in to their office broken and instead of saying “yes, you’re broken, take fifty milligrams of ‘Killemal’, twenty grams of ‘Deludamol’, and come see me in another week” they said “you’re not ill, but you do have some struggles you want to overcome. This medication can help, this therapy can help, yada, yada, see me in another week”.

There’s a big difference. People who show you compassion and accept you are the ones who can help you show compassion to yourself and accept yourself.

Concluding that you’re “broken”, “hopeless”, “ill”, and “sick”, is not acceptance. That’s called learned helplessness.

Take it or leave it.

You Can’t Cure Ebola In Two Weeks

I remember when I was going to cure Ebola.

It seemed all the news could talk about was how fast the disease spread, about how many people it killed, about the 21 day incubation period, and about how, worst of all, we had no vaccines because we don’t need vaccines for viruses that only hit the poorest of the poorest countries. I remember I couldn’t sleep at night when they diagnosed the first case of Ebola in the United States in the Texas hospital that did a shitty job of detecting the virus. I remember all the racial shit that surrounded the fact that they didn’t administer the trial drug to the black guy but they did to the other two white doctors who contracted the virus (of whom the experimental drug saved). I remember all the scares of Ebola on the airlines. And I remember when I told myself if it spread over here to the West Coast I was packing up my shit and moving to Canada.

I probably wasn’t in my right mind when I thought I could cure Ebola. I literally sat at this very desk, albeit on a smaller non-touch screen, non-expensive computer, created a folder entitled “Ebola Research” and started learning about filo-viruses and all this other biological shit, most of which I can’t remember. For days. I read about why traditional vaccines wouldn’t work and came to some pretty obvious conclusions that I thought were just genius at the time, then grew even more elated when I read in news articles that the exact conclusion I’d come to was the exact conclusion the biochemists came to. I thought I was the shit. It felt like they were stealing my work.

It died off, just like my other countless projects.

My first or second semester of college, I was sitting in World Music jiggling my leg as usual, hoping the peaceful sound of Chinese classical music would lull my mind into recess, and instead I got it into my head to start researching the effects of music on the brain–particularly tones. It’s not particularly an innovative idea, plenty of people have done it, but I took it too far. I probably wasn’t in my right mind. I named it “Hypertonal fluctuations . . . ” and some other shit I don’t remember. I still have the folder of unused research on my laptop. I used my knowledge from my bio-psychology classes to pinpoint the areas of the brain I wanted to focus on and did a lot more research on frequencies than I care to admit. I wanted to see if I could cure anxiety with a tone. I guess I stole the idea of “Binaural Beats” and ran with it. I asked my few friends to gather their friends because I needed test subjects. I just knew I’d solved one of the most common mental health issues on the face of the planet.

That lasted for at least a week and a half until it died off too. I didn’t have the energy for it anymore. I went onto something new.

I like thinking about those days because I did well in my classes and I kept up on all my work. I had enough balls to apply for jobs and even sent in an application to a neurofeedback place even though I had little qualifications. My writing made me sound much better than I was. I obviously wasn’t in my right mind thinking I was a professional.

But hey, I learned a lot about viruses and frequencies and the brain and neurofeedback. Being the (usual) socially anxious person I am, I would have never been able to get my boyfriend without these breaks in reality. So I’m thankful for them. They’re much easier to deal with than the depression; too bad they don’t come around nearly as often.

A part of me still thinks I could probably cure Ebola. The vaccine is easy; just blend up some money, melt it in a spoon, suck it in a syringe, and inject it in people’s veins. They’ll be cured in a matter of minutes, I guarantee you.

My Future As A Researcher

But you know, one thing about having mental health issues is that we often get sucked into our own troubles and can find it hard to think of others without thinking of ourselves. So I figured I’d talk about some other people real quick. We all know Africa is, in our “modern eyes”, one of the poorest countries. They got their kid stealing Militia’s, their rampant cases of Malaria, and their lack of clean water. The land is beautiful, the tribes are amazing; they’ve been through colonization hell and are still going through colonization hell. They speak a lot of French and English and a lot of them are Christian. In Africa. No offense to the French and English languages, but get the fuck out of Africa. I’d much prefer to be out in the wilderness with the mostly untouched tribes hearing their invigoratingly soulful drumming, their singing, and their languages of which they’ve been speaking for millions of years.

I swear I’m not trying to be offensive in any way, but this is an honest question: what is Europe’s obsession with colonization of these specific countries? Don’t tell me they still believe they’re showing them a “better” way of life? I mean, we’re not that primitive of a people still, are we?

So what of the mentally disturbed in Africa? That’s a topic we don’t hear about very often. We supposedly give their governments money to help the poor but you think that money ever reaches the poor? Of course not. Unless you donate through Give Directly, in which your money actually goes to the people. I know I’ve mentioned them before and I’m going to keep mentioning them.

There are prayer camps for the mentally unwell there, where the poorest of the poorest send their illest of the ill, meaning those suffering schizophrenia and bipolar, and delusional disorders. Their treatment is prayers everyday. They get chained to trees for weeks, months, even years, until God has healed them. “Healed” means they’re coherent enough to ask for a bath. It’s all the camp leaders know how to do.

There’s one psychiatric hospital in the whole of that specific country.

There’s one man, as shown in the video from the “Prayer camps” link above, who has started an organization where he, some nurses, and one French psychiatrist dude house those with severe mental disorders, give them heavy medication, and help some find jobs. They don’t have a lot of money, obviously, so the only real treatment they can offer is heavy, heavy medication, you know, the old neuroleptics and psychotropics your hauty-taughty doctor knows better than to give you. Hopefully.

The prayer camps wouldn’t be so ridiculous if they actually provided treatment to their . . . patients (?). I think it’s important to treat people according to their culture (whether their religious views were FORCED upon them or not) so if someone comes to you as an Avid Christian your job isn’t to tell them “Science is better”, your job is to remind them “Your God is good, and you can still believe in Him while receiving treatment”. In fact, it’s important they do. That’s their support system. Don’t try and take that away from them.

But don’t chain them to a tree with metal shackles, either. I . . . I don’t think that helps.

I’m also not saying go in there with our Modern medicine and fuck shit up. But there’s nothing wrong with helping them learn what we know and then letting them handle it on their own. That’s sharing information, instead of CONVERTING people into our “modern” (still very primitive) way of life. They don’t have to be “modern” if they don’t want to. That’s their choice.

If we as a society can’t see that “if one man is in chains, than we are all in chains”, than we’ve got to be one of the most primitive-modern societies I’ve ever heard of.

To all you book people out there, if you’re interested in topics like this, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbra Kingsolver about a southern missionary family moving to the Congo for missionary duties in 1959 is an excellent read. I read it a few years ago and still love it.

Yo, Let Me Hit That Apple Real Quick

I woke up this morning, sat at my desk, set my fingers on the proper keys, turned on my sub-woofer, blasted the playlist on my computer, and still couldn’t think of a clever opening line for this post.

I thought of talking about some fancy neuroscience articles on psychiatrists and neuro-scientists attempting to quantify consciousness and then blast them for thinking they could explain something as mystifying as consciousness in terms of man-made mathematical equations that, if you really want to get technical, still don’t explain consciousness itself. I’ll give them props for their Integrated Information Theory, but even that thought process kind of, well, falls short of explaining how we feel the information our brain integrates. They understand the biology, not the result, and that’s not very invigorating to me. If quantum particles can change their state and “teleport” information between each other than how can consciousness be as simple as integrated information? They have a lot of work to do if they think they can understand our perception of life to the degree they understand the transportation of a neurochemical. Which, judging by the psychotropic medication out today, there’s not a lot of understanding. So I guess we’ll never know.

Instead, I’d like to address a disturbing incident I witnessed last night.

I’d like to personally accuse the American public school systems, particularly in my area, of attempted murder. Yes, you read right, attempted murder.

Attempted murder of the human soul, spirit, and creativity. I don’t give a shit if I sound like some weed smoking, slap happy hippie.

Really, bro? 

The robots they’ve turned these college students into reminds me how lucky I am to have suffered Social Anxiety Disorder through elementary school. Being inside of your own head has its advantages.

As some of you know, I’m taking a Native American Literature class, one of the most tranquil courses I’ve taken thus far in my college career. What you may not know is that I’m a very spiritual person. Not religious by any means, but spiritual yes. I enjoy the connections humans share with other humans, animals, seasons, the self, and nature in general. After all, we are all made up of the same material if you want to look at this at a micro-level. If I could embrace it as much as I’d like, I probably wouldn’t have this rampant anger management issue.

I don’t know as much about my own Cherokee ancestral history as I should, but I know every time I walk into that class there’s an aura about it that serves as a pungent reminder this class will be forever life changing.

We just finished a memoir entitled “The Morning The Sun Went Down” by Darryl Babe Wilson, an extraordinary autobiography of a man of the Achumawi and Atusgew tribes from Northern California. When abrupt tragedy strikes, Darryl experiences the reality of how desecrated and disrespected his people have been by the ever expanding American government.

Wilson possesses an extraordinary talent for describing feelings and incidents in relation to nature, as most natives are, and I felt honored in having read this summary of the first part of his life. His words don’t need analysis to be appreciated. They don’t need to have some crazy symbolism and motif attached to them to make them have substance.

I can’t blame these students for not understanding that, but they better learn quickly. In this class we don’t receive grades on any of our work and when we read texts we are supposed to write the responses in terms of how the text made us feel whilst simultaneously providing an analysis without trivializing or being a kiss-ass. When we had a discussion in class last night, hand after hand raised and mouth after mouth made my ears bleed.

I say this because what most of them said was the result of a very one-track mindset, a program. And that mindset is “I’m in a Native American class, so I should talk really good about the Native Americans and bash the Christians in the book that made the Native guy feel bad.”

I’m not a Christian. Or a Catholic. I’m more inclined to read science fiction than The Bible and in all honesty I can’t stand science fiction most of the time. The problem with these students is that they contrast and compare everything. That’s a mindset we learn early in school. Analyze this side, analyze that side, state the facts, and who gives a shit how you feel about it. It’s easy for a kid to realize if you argue with the side that has the most positive points, you’ll get an easy A and you’ll sound so smart.

More like intellectually stunted.

Why not just accept what that particular group of Christians did to that particular group of natives, understand how that relates to the underlying feeling of inadequacy and self loathing in natives today, bask in how that makes you feel, and put some thought into it? Why do we have to spend time in discussion labeling all Christians as murdering freaks and why do we have to spend time labeling natives as victims? State facts without judging who is in the wrong and who is in the right because wrong and right is very subjective. Natives were a victim of settlers, yes. Does that make the settlers horrible human beings? I don’t know, I can only judge of their past actions and I don’t think actions are an entire representation of the self.

That being said, I also call this compare and contrast/over analytical mindset the kiss-ass syndrome. That’s what they were doing last night, kissing the professors ass to make it sound like they actually understand the depths of sorrow in these people’s hearts. But none of their words held any substance or feeling and one guy spoke for five minutes straight. He spoke empty words. I almost fell asleep.

There’s a time for analysis and there’s a time for simple appreciation; they can be combined, cleverly, but they’re not the same.

For this I love my anxiety disorders. These students may be amazing at socializing and vocalizing, but they have no sense of self and no sense of how to relate the outside world to their self. They can only relate to each other, and on a shockingly shallow level. I’ve spent so many years inside of my head that I’m in the head of each emotion I’ve ever felt. #Headception. It’s why I can write a paper consisting of analysis of thought and understanding of feeling on a personal and external level, and have the professor thank me twice for writing the paper I did.

You know you did well when the professor thanks you for your work.

I’ve only spoken in class maybe a hundred times from Pre-School to College, so my thoughts and answers never got shot down by teachers. I was never molded, not to the extent these students have been.

I don’t want to make it sound like these students are horrible students, I think many of them are brilliant. I just don’t think they know how brilliant, yet. I don’t think they were ever allowed to exercise that brilliance.