Tag Archives: college

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.

 

 

Advertisements

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.

 

This title is the excerpt I read while searching for a new place to live. What is this, the 1800’s? Do you know how dry it is in California, people? Just buy some water from the damn grocery store because you ain’t finna find any in the ground, not this time of year.

I’m being forced to look into a roommate situation, which is not ideal, but I suppose it is better than homelessness–at least, that’s what my psychologist is trying to drill into my head: it’s better than being homeless, it’s better than being homeless. I’m not sure I’m convinced. I’ve been homeless before, jumped around from place to place, and at least in all those situations I had some kind of privacy. Someone living in my living room in this apartment does not seem private to me.

The emotions of the break up have kind of calmed within me, I no longer drive in the car crying to songs on the radio, and I no longer huddle in the apartment with a blanket over my shoulders looking at all the things I did wrong and all the things that were my fault. Ultimately, things ended because things needed to end. I’ve had a lot of things I’ve loved end in my life, and I’m still standing. I’ve been through a lot worse than a breakup, and I’m still standing. I can make it through this.

independence-1024x673-1024x673It’s time to gain some independence back too. I think I was pretty dependent in this relationship and that’s something I need to let go of as well. I think this will give me the proper time I need to really recover from the psychosis and get my mental health back on track.

Where I will move, I’m not sure yet, either north or south of where I am now. I have plans to move on with my life at this point. Because, here’s the even bigger news: the mental health program I’ve been working at for the past 2 years may very well be closing in the beginning of December. We’re making efforts to save it, and I think good things will still come from these efforts, but I’m not sure about them actually saving the program.

So, I am also stuck looking at the possibility of having to find another job in the “real world”. The real world meaning: working with people who are not my peers, who do not openly have lived experience. And that bothers me a bit. I tend not to get along with those people.

Classes have also started up again, and I’m swamped with homework. Go figure.

So life is pretty stressful right now. I’m broke, I can’t pay for my prescriptions, I can’t buy food, I can’t afford gas, and it’s hell waiting for Netflix to put up Black Panther. I mean, the wait is literally like sitting on a stump in hell listening to the screams of damned souls while embers lick the top of your head and fire burns through your skin to your bone.

I am writing an article about the closing of 2nd Story, so stay tuned for that on Mad in America. Not quite sure what I want to write yet. I said I’d have a draft by the end of the week, but with classes I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible.

My cat is sitting on my arm and making it very difficult to type. She’s going to give me Carpal Tunnel.

If you are willing to share a GoFundMe page on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, that would also be great. The link is here. I know clicking the share button is honestly asking a lot of people I don’t know, but I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for 3 years and I’ve loved every moment of it. You all are helpful in small little ways you might not even know. Every comment I’ve ever gotten, every view, every read, every personal story shared with me is another thing I cherish. So one share is all I ask. I’m asking for 1500 in the Campaign, just as general moving expenses because I have zero dollars. I would be using it to pay for a UHaul and to tow my car if I move out of town. I”m not asking for much, but I am.

If you can share the GoFundMe link that would be great. If you can read it, that would be great. I don’t want to end up homeless again, and I think crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity for a lot of people, including myself. If you can donate even a dollar, I would be eternally grateful.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking for a place to live so I don’t end up on the streets.

Fun!

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.

rolls-eyes-in-spanish-11693645

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.

blog-22-journey-600x300

Where are you in your journey?

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

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

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

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

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

85

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

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

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

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

 

Jazz Photo

She’s gotten much bigger

img_20161124_115142.jpg

This was her 2 years ago

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

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

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

Throwing Shade.

sonson

 

 

College: To be Or Not To Be?

o-dinner-with-kids-facebookAge 1-4: Develop as a mini human being. Make messes, be silly, discover how disgusting healthy fruit and/or vegetables are and how delicious candy that looks like fruit and/or vegetables are. Generally allowed to make bathroom mistakes without being whipped with a belt across the back.

Age 5-10: Introduction to education (and the system). Learn (or don’t learn) how to communicate with peers. Get labeled weird if you don’t. Get labeled annoying and inattentive if you do. Learn you are what label you’ve been given. Live up to label. Beg your parents for a cell phone because “everyone else has one!”.

Age 10-15: Get bricked in the face by puberty. Live up to the label you were given or prepare to be ostracized. Think about what you might be interested in as a job. Perhaps get a job if you have THOSE kind of parents. Convince yourself your popularity and status in 498ddf446ef98b77b1492eadc8100e1818ab60ecf7da47b86a152d6cf5476c45_1.jpghigh school is, like, the only thing that’s really important because, like, isn’t life about networking? Get excited about a driver’s permit. Get excited about driving. Realize you need money and a job to own a car. Rock in the corner for hours after realizing you can’t be both lazy and rich until you’re actually rich.

Age 16-19:  Fuck labels. Stupid conformists! See working a job as another way to kiss the ass of The Man, see NOT working as a middle finger to The System. Identity makes attempts at stabilization, and fails many, many times. Worry you have every listed disorder in the DSM because you’ve just never been able to do this, or that, or this and that and it’s all in the news that parasites from cats cause this thing called Schizophrenia and your mom has two cats who used to lick your face when you were a baby. Apply to colleges. Start college. Immediately, and simultaneously, like it and hate it. Smile because you might be on a good path now.

Age 20-onward: Find an awkward, unbalanced point between “fuck the system” and “submit to the system”.  Smile because you realize your path is way more unpredictable than you intended.

I’m in the latter category. The category of internal and external exploration and a heaping pile of “OhShitOhShitOhShit”. That’s how I would describe my personal experience with being in the twenty-something category.

For those who are unaware, I lost my mind for a good two weeks, and I am grounded once more . . . at least, more than before. Within this time frame I’ve spent at least 500 dollar or more on things I’m surprised to find in the mail, I wrapped packing tape around certain limbs of my body for a couple nights to keep away the cold that the demons were causing, I got a few pages of unintelligible rambles, and I’ve probably gained a couple pounds eating way too much chocolate. I have a feeling much of this had to do with the worse peak of the withdrawal from Effexor. I have been this way before, but usually from anxiety, stress, being overwhelmed, over stimulated, not sleeping enough, e.t.c.

3c0fe46571bcdfd94dcac8b26d757caaI spun into a hole of wishing sweet Miss Murder would swoop from her perch on the tree of Freedom and take me to a new Kingdom away from this earth, then bounced into a world of sweet treats and happiness and ideas and the realization that the entity which follows me was the cause of my sudden depression. That spun me into a whole other world of psychedelic colors and Cheshire cats and voices laughing at me because I couldn’t get to sleep. One of the bitches mocked me for four hours because “she can’t sleep–look at her, she can’t sleep“.

Straight out of her mouth. Hoe. If she were a physical being, I’d knock her out cold with a “left, right, right, left, she’s toothless”.

I finally got up a bit of courage to explain some of my mindset to a real human being in a live conversation over the phone (i.e, my wonderful boyfriend), and let off all of that pressure, things subsided a bit–enough to where I could at least sleep at 4:55 a.m instead of 6 a.m.

That helped. A lot. And I got a bit disappointed when I woke up the next morning realizing one of my largest struggles is that I don’t reach out. Then I realized I don’t reach out not necessarily because of anxiety, but because I don’t know how. I really don’t.

It’s a skill you have to learn, almost, and mostly from your family environment. You learn you can trust your parents or cousins or whoever so that whenever you have a problem, you can go to them and they won’t tell you “suck it up” or “that’s just the way it is” or “you’ll grow out of it”, e.t.c , e.t.c–invalidation, that’s called.

Well, invalidation is all I know. This may just be the root of my distrust, and why I’m so off-put sometimes by kindness. It might be why I’m so prone to paranoia about being mistreated, about being watched, about being followed. It might be that my brain turns my feeling invalidated into a feeling of otherworldliness, of being constantly mocked both in this world and in a spiritual world.

I’ve noticed that with a lot of families, particularly ethnic or mixed families, that “problems” are not always seen as struggles to be overcome or understood, but weaknesses to get over or to hide or to, at the very least, never speak of again. That’s how I grew up.

bfd_title_suicide

And that’s the direction I want to take my program. Because of whatever factors are in my family’s past, I was never taught or encouraged to reach out, other than “if someone offers a drug and you wanna do it, bring it home first”. Because I’ve never reached out, I’ve never known about resources.

As I mentioned in my last post, there’s this weird middle ground in mental health categorization between “moderate” and “severe”. Those who are “moderate” often seek a therapist and try coping methods. Those who are “severe” often learn of resources through inpatient (and most often involuntary) hospitalization. So . . . where are the rest of us?

The rest of us are where I am. The rest of us are all different ages. We struggle reaching out, we struggle knowing about resources and therefore are the most silent group of mental health consumers. We’re the ones most abundant in online support groups. This isn’t a matter of knowing they existed and not going because of anxiety–this is a matter of actually NOT knowing.

The anxiety can come later, when we find out resources exist.

This is a matter of not knowing where to start, how to start, or what to expect. And that is what I’m developing this program for, geared towards those of us with ethnic, cultural, or family issues interfering with our ability to take care of our mental health. Because, within the last 24 hours, I have found over ten resources I could have been taking advantage of, had I known they existed–excluding the peer respite house I work at now. The peer respite I learned about through chance too–a fucking post on some obscure job website that got recommended to me in email.

And sometimes it’s not as simple as googling “support groups” or whatever. Because those of us in this category don’t know how to reach out, it’s not always anxiety that keeps us from these things, it’s the prospect of having to make a connection and being unable to know what that even means. Those of us in this category sometimes need a little extra support.

34ef47b7011b1b758e89e1aa164b1220

I’m developing a type of outreach program that supports people in finding resources who perhaps are new to this “mental health” thing, or new to a hospital (which would have been nice when I went there). A type of outreach program geared towards–but not solely focused on–ethnic groups. A type of outreach that offers not just a relay system of “here’s a resource, go here”, but also a peer approach that recognizes “wow, you’ve been through a lot, tell me a bit about it”. That strikes up conversation, eases anxiety and builds connection–and then resources. A type of outreach program that keeps in touch with people, that is a consistent support, not a brief one. A type of outreach program that works with those same individuals with finding volunteer opportunities, vocational opportunities (or, at the very least, a place to go to find vocational opportunities) and other community opportunities. A type of outreach that doesn’t just reach out to the “mentally ill” (ugggg, I shudder whenever I type that now), but also to the rest of the community, that builds relationships with other programs and schools and hospitals. A type of outreach program that reaches just a little farther than most. 

To accomplish this, I’m having to overcome many things as well–like my fear of reaching out. I’ve found so many support groups and peer classes to get involved with, even more than I’d known about through my work place. Through the connections I make, I want to be able to develop a solid pitch and perhaps even a small team to present to the fellowship I mentioned before.

I’ve been in college for almost four years now. I came to a startling revelation that one of my main goals toward becoming a psychiatrist was being able to interact with my peers on the “highest” level possible. Being able to interact with people who struggle the worst sometimes–i.e., voices, mood swings, e.t.c, and I knew often those kind of people don’t seek therapy, but psychiatrists. I also thought that was wrong; I wanted to be a combination of a therapist and psychiatrist.

Tonight I realized I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to already and more. I’ve been doing it for 8 fucking months and it’s taken me this long to realize it. It’s taken me almost four years of college to realize I don’t need college. That’s the reason I’ve been so unmotivated and depressed this semester: I’m not doing what I need or wish to. I’ve been frustrated because I can’t “be a successful student” like the other students.

Because I’m not like the other students.

Revelations (Question Mark)

gkmjk

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. I’ve been thinking a lot about independence and my struggles with it and, most of all, my career. I’ve been thinking about transferring to another university and falling into the same hole I have over here of never reaching out and saving my grades by the skin of my teeth at the last minute. I’ve been wondering what I really, really want to do with my life.

I’ve been wondering about this position I hold now and how much it’s impacted me on an internal level. How I thought I’d had it all figured out before, how I was so arrogant about my “progressive” stance in the mental health industry. How I preached that those of us struggling with our mental health should band together and be a community and “F.T.I.” as Tech N9ne would say. “Fuck. The. Industry.” How I preached all of that and failed to see that my vendetta against the industry has literally made no impact. It did nothing. It never will do anything.

So I’m changing my visions.

And I’ve got ideas. Boy do I have ideas.

What I’ve experienced with respite houses is unfathomable love and support. I experienced some genuine concern and gentleness from people in the hospital, but not at this level. I pray for the day we see a hybrid cross between the two: a peer respite that has hospital services that aren’t down your throat, up your ass kind of services. In fact, I want to be apart of that merge. I don’t think any kind of mental health care can move forward without us being a true influencing force behind it.

By “influencing force” I mean participating within the industry.

We could burn down the APA and the pharmaceutical billionaires, but as much as that fantasy really titillates my pleasure glands, what good will that really do? 

66558000

So I’ve been thinking up ideas. I’ve been thinking of ways to both involve myself in the mental health community and ways to get the mental health community and I in all the rest of the aspects of community. I’ve been thinking of starting something.

I have many, many ideas. Not starting something big, not starting something wholly impressive like Paypal or Tesla, but something smaller, maybe like a Lenovo IdeaPad compared to a Macbook Pro. We all have to start somewhere.

“Oh no, what now, don’t go off the deep end”.

I know you’re all thinking that. But this idea that I have, I’ve been putting a lot of organization and thought into it. I’ve also been thinking about how rough of a transition it is to go from hospitalization to different programs and places and how it can feel like you’re being juggled around from place to place, from people to people, and even when some of the places are good, it can get exhausting to deal with it all. I’ve also been thinking about how important it can be to have an advocate on your side, and how–at least with the system in this town–if you’re not part of a specific program and you’re struggling or end up the hospital, there aren’t too many options for you.

Nicole's liberal dog college: 'We believe there is a gray area between good dog and bad dog.'There’s this weird middle ground between a classification of “moderate” and “severe”, between “insured” and “uninsured”, between “needs daily help” and “is generally well”, Between “no support” and “has support”. And I’ve been wondering, since I’m one of these middle ground people who sometimes struggle reaching out, what would beneficial for me? What kind of program that is connected in some way to peer programs?

A program that is a good educator for the community. Sure, NAMI does that I believe, but that’s not their main focus. They have many things they focus on, which is great. They’re a huge ass organization, with great funding. But what about something focused on advocacy and education? On helping people in hospitals, especially new-comers, finding all  the possible resources that could help them get back on their feet? Something that worked in conjunction to peer places and other like-minded programs? Something that, perhaps, helped vocationally or volunteer wise? Something–anything–to promote peer connection and community connection?

At the moment, there’s a fellowship I’m attempting to receive, that would help me create something like this locally. It’s going to take a while.

A condition of the fellowship, were I to receive it, is that I drop out of college. That scared me.

I came back to it and read their mission, their reasoning for this requirement, and I fell in love with it. I’m willing to give up college for the time being to become a part of something worth more than a degree. College isn’t going anywhere.

I’ve never been a college kid anyway. I’m good at academia, but it’s never been my real interest. My ideas have been my real interest. Besides, since when was school for smart people?

bf9

Why would I wait another ten years to start a bit of what I planned on starting from the beginning any damn way? Why pass up an opportunity to Just Do It?

Obviously the refined finishings will be more innovative than what I put up there, and worth the amount put in by the investors and the amount awarded. I’ll be updating everyone on this. It’s not a “sudden” thing, really, I’ve been thinking about this idea for a couple years, before I even knew something like a respite house or a peer program existed.

What I want to do will be different and much smaller. It won’t be a respite or a group or anything that already exists. It will be smaller than all of the combined, but profound nonetheless, and connected to all of the above. I’ve got until I turn 23 to develop this idea to finite pieces, pitch it, and get the fellowship. That’s a year and a half. If there were ever a time for hypomania to be introduced to my life, now would be the time.

Ha ha see I can make jokes too.

I’ll stop now.