I hate Kanye, He’s Awesome

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

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

Whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

Then, the big controversy comes: the meds.

I figured his opinion wouldn’t be very popular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Years of What-The-Fuck

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

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

One person commented: “Are you mentally stable?”

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

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

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

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

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

Cat-Fish.

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

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

One of these fucking things

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

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

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

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

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

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

She seems functional, albeit stressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Farewell?

This webpage has been up since July 2015. It’s going on four years. I’m quite ecstatic about that. And I’m saddened.

I’m saddened because during one particularly rough mental health year I was unable to keep up with enough positivity, coherency, and drive to keep this site aiming high. And we were going places, too. I’d bought the domain, I’d made connections with other writers, and with the help of all my loyal and fantastic readers/fans we were going to launch something truly spectacular.

I thought about abandoning this website, but I check in on my statistics every once in a while and see that many are still discovering posts that resonate with them and I can’t take that away from anyone.

This has been a place to spout personal dribble and shed light on mental health experiences and the problems with calling ourselves “Sick”. I don’t want to stop that. And I won’t. I see myself in the near future revamping this page and redeeming what was lost.

That being said, sometimes I have to take a step away from mental health and really talk about other things. And so, I’ve created a separate account for that, entitled “Rant, Rave, Dab, Repeat”, and if you click on the link you will be teleported into a realm of writing reminiscent of some of my older posts here on MentalTruths. I implore you to check it out. We’ll have a lot of fun over there.

I started this post intending to say goodbye to everyone. But I realize I can’t do that. Even if three-quarters of the readers I used to have are gone, I still feel an obligation to keep this site alive and keep the truth about mental health experiences out in the open.

So, alas, this is not a farewell, it is simply a polite “hello, I’m back, sort of, and check out my new website” post.

Or, if you’re not a new reader and remember my sassy attitude, it’s a “I’m back bitches, look out.”

Writer’s Block

Do you all remember a time when I would bust out posts every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes thrice a day? That time ended many months ago, and this writer’s block has continued something fierce. Every once in a while I come on and see how everyone is doing, what’s going on their life and where they are heading and I wonder why I just can’t kick my ass in gear and write.

I’m a writer for God’s sake, that’s what I do.

So, as I sit in class right now, it got me thinking about my writer’s block, others writer’s block, and how people just push through it. So that’s what I’m trying to do, for the sake of the cathartic process, and for the sake of my writing future.

Because I am such a broken human being unique individual with a variation of experiences, I decided to do something for myself and attend an outpatient group. This group meets three days a week, for three hours each day, and I’m on the evening schedule. We learn a lot about coping skills, about forming and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as being open and honest about what’s going on in our head. Some people have substance use issues partnered with their mental health, others don’t.

I’m not sure what I’m learning from it. I know that it gets me out of the house and prevents me from isolating, which is good for me, and I know it’s good for me because I absolutely hate doing it. And I seem to hate doing anything that’s good for me. Ever get that feeling?

Meanwhile, the outside world is falling apart and we’re all sitting around twiddling our thumbs like:

this-is-fine-0

When we should be doing something like this:

screen20shot202016-08-0320at2010-31-0420am

Kanye West is trapped in a perpetual state of “mania”, or at least he’s addicted to the “manic” behavior, Trump is still president, sexual assault victims are coming forward and getting pushed back down, people are putting guns to their heads, overdosing, throwing themselves off bridges and the ages are getting younger and younger, there’s rarely anything positive on the news (in America), everyone kind of flipped the bird to school shootings, cops are still shouting “break yourself fool!”, cocking their gun sideways, and blowing seven holes in innocent people like they work for the crips, and meanwhile I’m sitting here on this computer documenting it all, processing it, and thinking back to similar times.

I think maybe, just maybe, we’re all stuck in a pretty serious delusion about our lives: That we can continue moving forward with all of this baggage on our back. Nothing is being discussed, and when a discussion does arise, it turns into nothing more than the internet being divided on the subject for a couple days. Racism is a hot topic, until a school shooting happens. We’re all crying for the students until a cop shoots another unarmed white, black, yellow, blue, brown, rainbow man/woman. As we writhe from the shock, Trump says something outlandish and/or stupid (mostly stupid), and all cameras point to him. They’re so busy photographing his orange face and blonde toupee that they miss the guy standing on the bridge behind them, tears streaming down his face.

There’s no soft way to put things: we’re living in a society in which things are swept under the rug.

I guess it’s nice that you and your friend on Facebook have these deep philosophical conversations over messenger that ultimately ends with one of you quoting words you don’t understand by some unnamed author, hoping that the way you’ve carried yourself and your political stance will help you sound like an intellectual.

And it doesn’t help that when something serious on social media is trending, it doesn’t get taken serious and its fifteen minutes of fame go by in five. This is my argument against May Mental Health Awareness month. There’s nothing impressive about a month of people saying nice things to each other and being supportive when that mindset falls apart in June.

At this point, I’m ranting, because if there’s one thing we all understand about writer’s block, is that you can’t pull the right fucking words out of your head even if your life depended on it. Something has them stopped up like hair in a drain, and I don’t have a long enough whatcha-ma-call-em to dig the mess out. The only solution is to pour corrosive bleach down the hole and let it set. So, I’m pouring bleach on my brain and waiting for the magic to happen.

What will happen to this blog? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t want to get rid of it, I want to help it blossom into what it once was. I want to communicate to real people about real topics and still promote mental wellness. I want to commit to writing at least once a day to gain back old followers and shake hands with new ones. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, in my own life and in relation to the rest of the world. I want a lot of things, as you can see, and I’m not quite sure what that means.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Sudoku and Neurotransmission

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the essay says:

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

As it also says:

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

And of course, let’s not forget:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ironic, considering Research Methods is my LEAST favorite class.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

 

The Water Comes From A Well

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!

Progress and Advocacy

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

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

That was almost two years ago to this date.

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

Loss

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

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

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

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

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

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Anyway, we lost that car to their ignorance.

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s In Your Driver’s Seat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor Relman makes another good point:

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Eloquence

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck depression.

That’s eloquent, right?

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

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

Seems a lot easier and less damaging to me.

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

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

You’re unique.