Asking For Help

Things have been troublesome for me. My relationship of 4 years has ended, and I’m still heartbroken over that fact. It’s only been a couple days, and so the feelings are still very raw. It’s difficult to have 4 years of good memories in your head, only to be trumped by the memory of one incident: the break up.

I’m okay with having to move forward. I mean, I’ve been through a lot worse things in my life than a breakup, and have had my heart broken on the same level once before. I’m used to the pain. I’m used to the random crying that hits you when you hear a song that reminds you of everything, or see a couple, or hear about people and their love, or see all the pictures we have. I’m used to the constant feelings of “wow, this is all your fault” because I’m used to things getting ruined because of my mental health. And that’s essentially what all this boils down to.

I still have my cat. I love her, and I will forever love her. And I thank him for buying her for me those 2 years ago, she’s been a great addition to my life. So that’s one thing to be thankful for.

On top of that, the program I work for is also closing in December. I feel I am no longer welcome in this town by way of the universe, and that because both my job and relationship are essentially over at the same time, it’s a sign that it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.

I plan to move down to Los Angeles where peer support jobs are rampant in certain areas, and where I can really use my creative talent: my writing, my photography. I want to be able to blossom in this crazy life, and I’m sick of being stifled and stagnant. All of this stress is really kicking up my mental health issues, and so is not having the money to even pay for my prescriptions right now.

I started a GoFundMe. Hear me out: I hate taking money from people. I hate taking offers from people. I hate doing anything that requires me to beg. But I am in a situation where I can’t just up and leave town and not risk being homeless. I can’t stay in town and not risk being homeless. Again. I’m trying to avoid that. Again.

I would use the funds strictly for moving expenses and nothing more. That means the U-Haul to get my stuff down there, the deposit and first months rent on a place ( a room for rent, of course), and food along the way. I’m asking for 2k. Not too much, not too little.

If you know anyone who is willing to donate, that would be amazing. The link is here. I’m just a young 23 year old trying to make a new start in a world that has beat me down from the beginning. And I’m not trying to act helpless. I’m not even on disability, although with my diagnoses I could qualify. But I want to do things on my own, prove to myself and the world that I can be who I need to be without second guessing myself or degrading myself.

I am just in need of a little help.

I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for three years now, and have been thankful to every single person who has ever liked or commented on this blog. And now I’m finally reaching out to every single one of you and asking for just a bit of help. You don’t have to donate, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking for you to share the link on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, whatever. I only have so much of a following, and could use more help in that department.

If you do donate, thank you, thank you. Every little bit helps.

Now, I’m going to try and get ready for my day, as difficult as that’s becoming.

Thank you.

The MMJ Journal, Pt. 1

 

Part one of this experiment. What experiment? The experiment of Medical Marijuana, CBD, and how they pertain to mental health per my experience.

Remember, I was a general street pot head since I was 13 until around 18. I stopped because I got busy with college and went into a period of being still crazy, but very positive and hopeful. I forgot what depression was, I felt I could handle the anxiety. Until the real paranoia or brief hallucinations started well into my second year of college.

Since those experiences have heightened, I noticed I keep bouncing in and out of psychiatrist offices again, buying into (briefly) the idea of a magic pill. Until I’m faced with the prescription in my hand and remember my own personal beliefs. That’s usually when I tear up the prescription. And then cry on my knees a week later for having done so. Then pick myself up and remind myself of why I tore it up. Then I’m on my knees again and . . . well, you get the point.

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It wasn’t until the big Medical Marijuana legalization and controversy sprang up here again did I wonder about the benefits. So I researched, came across CBD, hybrids, and a load of strains of cannabis I never knew existed.

So I got the card, got the stuff, and have some interesting things to say.

First things first. What have I decided to use it for, mental health wise? A few things.

  1. The PTSD: Flashbacks and thoughts always swirl uncontrollably. I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but flashbacks aren’t always just images. Emotions can be a flashback as well. CBD calms the body and therefore calms the mind.
  2. The anxiety: The shakes, the avoidance, the rumination, the aches, the physical upset, all of it. As I said, CBD calms the body and therefore the mind.
  3. The depression and mixed emotions: There are times I can’t get out of bed and am devastated and valueless. There are times I can’t figure out what emotion I am and that usually results in self harm or broken doors and cracked walls. I get violent.
  4. Other things: I am technically on that spectrum of schizophrenia disorders, although it keeps being bounced back and forth between severe dissociation and some “lesser” form of schizophrenia. Whatever. There are times where I don’t feel much at all, or I feel a lot at once, and either way it’s not going to show up in my face. You’ll find me laughing and smiling a lot, not because I’m happy but because it’s my reaction to my own emotions and others emotions, bad ones, good ones, unsure ones. Rarely, you’ll see me monotone entirely, and that’s when It’s gotten into danger levels. That’s how I was in the hospital and that’s why they thought I was depressed. Anyway, i’ll lose my motivation but I’ll also lose my ability to really care much about it. So when I hear I’ve failed three classes or haven’t kept up to my responsibilities–self-care wise, work wise, people wise, myself wise–the thought just goes through my brain, chills for a minute, but evokes no real panic or anxiety or sadness or anything really. Sativa helps with this.

I’ll explain how each has been transformed a little bit, more so than I’ve ever experienced with psychotropic medication.

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Knowing about the types of strains are important. The main two, Indica and Sativa, have different properties. The Hybrid type does as well, said to be more balanced between the two. Being grown indoor versus outdoor–all these little things matter. Having been your average teenage drug dealer at one point (not a very high status, but in high school it meant you were the SHIT) and your average teenage stoner at one point, I can confidentially say getting dealt with things from the street versus in a dispensary are drastically different. At least around here.

CBD has no THC, but can still be Sativa or Indica. You won’t get high. You can Dab it (i.e, burning concentrate (wax, crumble, shatter on a glass rig) and still not feel anything “mentally”. For all you who have dabbed, you know how crazy that sounds.

Your body will feel it, though. Your pain will dissipate, you might feel a little clearer, or notice your stomach isn’t churning anymore, or that your cheeks aren’t burning anymore. It’s a very physical high, less of a mental head rush.

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So, that being said, CBD sounds like a godsend for Anxiety. For me, it calms my heart rate. Listening to that thing pump like crazy sends my head into a tizzy and makes my anxiety worse. Having that thing sound steady took away 40% of my anxiety immediately.

The stomach stops churning and hurting and nothing is very urgent anymore, that’s the signal your brain gets from your body at least.

The thoughts can still swirl and be a tornado and be overwhelming. But that’s what’s so great about CBD. You’re not disconnected from your brain, you’re being forced to deal with your mindstate clearly, absent of any bodily interference or mind fogging “high”. That’s something not even psychotropics can do. 

Sativa is the upper, Indica is the downer, that’s how I see it. Sativa will kick motivation into gear, focus, energy, and I’ve noticed for me the more focus I have, the less my anxious thoughts hold me back, and that’s where the anxiety relief comes from. Not everyone’s anxiety is helped with Sativa, though, so be warned. Sativa is the strain I was least confident about, giving my issues with anxiety and fast heart rates, so I go about that strain with caution.

So far, Sativa has kicked me out of bed and giving me some focus time. No weighted depression, no avolition issues–yet. It took me a while to balance the Sativa with the THC to a level I could mentally withstand, but the CBD Sativa works fine.

Indica will relax you and put you to sleep. I guess people say it helps with depression because it might influence dopamine? I have no idea, it’s always worsened depression for me. It will wind down that heart and that brain and your body will melt if you do enough of it. Struggling with dissociation I have to be careful of that, because I will slip off an edge if I “melt” too much. I’ve noticed in the past, since I was heavy into Indica and the body melting, that the morning after my depression will be full blast for the next few days, just as getting off any anti-depressant would do–but without the bodily side-effects.

So far, I’ve only used it to put me to sleep and I’m sure that will be its main purpose. It doesn’t take much, with the strength of strain I’ve got, and it’s helped me stay on a consistent sleep schedule. I’ve noticed it increased paranoia as well, and hallucinations, but that’s how it’s always been with Indica and me for whatever reason. Seems backwards, right?

I have only tried a Sativa CBD. I use Indica with THC because it does more than just relax, it physically puts me to sleep.

"You've been eating that 'special' grass again, haven't you?"If I were my teenage self, I’d see this as an opportunity to spend all my money getting high. But because I’ve noticed my limitations I understand this is no different than Prozac or Haldol or any of that: and if I had those medications I wouldn’t buy more than I needed and take extra. I won’t do that with MMJ either. Because I’ve noticed the huge difference between being high and being, as they say, “medicated”.

I guess I will say this last week and a half, I’ve briefly felt what I assume normal people feel. Mentally balanced. The anxiety can be taken down so far I get confused: turns out I was experiencing close to zero anxiety. Never experienced that in my life, not even from the street things, supplements or psychotropics I’ve tried.

The important thing to know, if deciding to try this, is your mind and body’s limitations. CBD you can feel secure with knowing there is next to no THC and the probability your mental state will be “chemically” affected is also next to none. With THC, just test it. It’s no different than jumping between medications, albeit being safer, albeit having no side-effects, and albeit not being man-made.

If you’ve tried everything else, don’t be afraid to open your mind to this. You never know what could happen.

That’s the Sativa talking.

NOTE: I have suspicions Sativa influences serotonin. If you are sensitive to serotonin as I am, be cautious. I notice a headache (just as every other SSRI has been for me) and I notice the teeth grinding and twitching (which has also accompanied things that increase serotonin or serotonin-like receptors in me). I have ONLY noticed with this the THC Sativa strain, NOT the CBD. It’s also sent my thoughts in weird directions, as SNRI’s have, but that’s because I did more than I should have. My mistake. The more I leveled out my amount, the better the results were. Complete focus, Complete ability to stay in the present.

Revelations (Question Mark)

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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? 

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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?

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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.

 

2016 Evaluated

I feel as though I haven’t done a random post in a while and as such have decided tonight shall be the night to put a bit of personal spice back into this internet journal someone coined a “blog”. Although it is not the last day of December, I’d like to reflect on this past year and tentatively avoid political ground for obvious reasons.

There have been a lot of changes this 2016 year. Marijuana was finally legalized in California (there’s goes my promise of political absence, I’m so sorry), in my town Porn producers are now required to provide and enforce their actors and actresses wear adequate protection, i.e condoms. Stores now advertise “Gluten Free” tomatoes.

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January of this year, I acquired a 9-5 that wasn’t 9-5, but all different scheduled hours. The first job I had since 2013. It required gigabytes upon gigabytes of organic brain memory to run monetary procedures for an amusement park. I got a chance to hold and carry a suitcase of twenty thousand dollars to the top floor and across the street with a security guard puffing behind me.

That job ended a few months later.

I experienced a psychiatric hospital for the first time. Curiously enough, that was the same time I experienced a boiling rage ravenous enough to turn all surrounding towns into imitations of Pompeii. Hmm. Odd.

Jack In The Box food poisoned me for ten days; my first experience with that sickness. A panic attack sent me to the E.R that swiftly prompted the doctors and nurses to interrogate me about suspected meth use. No evidence of meth use was found. Hmm. Also odd.

I learned that it’s best to let stupid people be stupid, and fight the urge to constantly reveal their stupidity to them, as stupid people are rarely capable of comprehending their own stupidity.

ips-logo-reduced1In May, I did a training in Intentional Peer Support. It taught me how to communicate in a way that focused on the other person’s thoughts and experiences rather than my own, particularly in confrontation. It taught me how to listen rather than blurt facts or potential solutions as I usually do. It taught me to listen to what people’s voices said rather than get blind sighted by a label like schizophrenia and ignore the person entirely.

In June, I started my peer counselor position at Second Story peer respite. I went in not expecting anything too grand and within a day saw many grand things. I saw healing in process: physical, mental, spiritual healing. I saw community. I saw hope. After growing up in a house with a warped definition of the word “respect”, I finally saw real respect. I saw trust and honesty. It startled me and I didn’t know how to respond. In fact, I got quite anxious and even laughed a few times in my head at the kindness.

I also saw the beginnings of a mental health revolution. I saw an opposition to the ideals of the Medical Model that weren’t extremist points of view.  I remain with that position to this date: the longest job I’ve ever held. I will be eternally grateful to them and it’s a shame my behavior and mannerisms aren’t as emotionally expressive as my writing.

in a few days, I’ll have an article published on Thought Catalog. Wondrous. 

I got a kitten. She’s hilarious. She grips onto things with her front paws and manically kicks at them with her back feet. When surprised or unsure, she emits a noise like a bird call. I got her from a shelter. When she saw me, she ran and slammed into the glass of her kennel, then proceeded to run around, jump, and slam into all of the walls. She wakes me with purrs, meows, and a tail under my nose. She also prefers to sleep like this:

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Everyone always says people change year by year and I didn’t believe it until 2016. I feel the changes and I see them.

I’ve always known I wasn’t alone. I’d just never been exposed to the reality of it, and the moment I was surrounded by people who had been through a manic experience and lived their life, by people who heard voices and lived their life, by people who did take and di not take anti-psychotics and still lived their life, by people who had been through horrible traumas in infancy and childhood to the point they developed different personalities and still lived their life, the moment I saw them with jobs and cars and families and a life, the moment we could all share a space and talk about something other than our mental health, I felt a switch.

There was no more anger. There was less sadness, less loneliness. My youth attracted a couple guys attempting to hit on me and that was a little overwhelming but we remained friends. I didn’t talk a lot, I still struggled with the conventions of interaction, but the fear of interaction was gone. And that I’d never felt before.

So I will say, regardless of the outcome of elections, this year has been revolutionary for me. In fact, this year has only birthed a greater fire within me. My career will never be based around psychiatry like I thought it would be.

My career will be based around people, as hard as it is for me to understand them sometimes. My career will be based around peers, around you all, and around me. Around our growth together, not our fight with pharmaceutical companies, not our fight against stigma, in fact, not our fight at all but rather our transformation. Our development into reminding ourselves that our recovery from what we experience in life can’t be done in the hands of others: we have to take control of it.

We have a saying where I work: Nothing About Us, Without Us. That to me speaks more volumes than anything I’ve heard from my psychiatrist.

P.S: then again, my psychiatrist isn’t the greatest.