Career Shameer

It’s 10:44 in the morning. I got off of work two hours ago. I am sleep deprived from the last few days, and quite irritable. That’s the perfect time to belch out a post. Agreed?

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but my best cognitive realizations and abilities are birthed from pure, elegant exhaustion. I did much better in Calculus at eight thirty in the morning after four hours of sleep than I did in an afternoon class after a solid seven and a half hours of sleep the night before. My brain is backwards and I appreciate that.

However, I am at a rather jarring crossroads in my life right now. After the last three years of being in and out of psychiatric hospitals, on and off psychiatric medications, jumping around from (ignorant) diagnosis to diagnosis, gaining weight, losing weight, gaining weight again, in and out of a four year relationship, it’s left my education in shambles.

Most of you know I currently work as a Peer Support worker at a Peer Respite house and if you didn’t know, now you know. Somewhere on this blog I still have the post I put up about my first day of work there. I’ve been there for 2.5 years by this point, the longest job I’ve ever held. I started when I was 20 years old, a month or two away from my 21st birthday that I don’t remember. In my interview I told them I was a Pre-Med student eager for a career in psychiatry to fight the system.

I am now 23, four months away from my 24th birthday.

I’m not quite sure what happened. I was fully invested in my psychology degree and unscathed by the physics and math required for Med-school. I was a little perturbed about chemistry. I can’t balance an equation to save my fucking life. Another fun fact: put a Calculus equation in front of me, or teach me Linear Algebra and I”ll eat it alive. Put a pre-algebra word problem in front of me and I crumble, I disintegrate. As a writer, you think I’d understand what word problems are asking of me. As someone pretty decent at math, you’d think I’d understand how to calculate what’s being asked of me. Both of your assumptions would be horribly, horribly misled. I’m sure you can, then, deduce how well physics went.

My point in all this rambling is I can’t figure out what I want to study in college anymore. My psychology degree is almost complete and I don’t much care for it anymore. Every psychology class I take I no longer take interest in. Perhaps it’s from 1) living the experience of mental health issues and realizing textbook explanations are pale in comparison, 2) understanding the corruption that lies in the mental health industry/business, and 3) from working in the exact opposite environment that I would be working in were I to pursue my original career choice.

Perhaps it’s my stubbornness. I don’t want to answer to Insurance companies. I don’t want to be solicited or bribed by pharmaceutical salesmen offering me money to push certain drugs. I don’t want to have to deny someone my services because their insurance won’t pay for me because they don’t want medication. I don’t want to make that choice for them, it’s not my business. I don’t want to go into private practice and have to charge 300 dollars an hour and limit myself to an elitist group when we’re all very much aware that the people who need the most help are often struggling with housing, substance use, financial issues, as well as their mental health.

I don’t want to work for a county that would allow me to see that population but underpay me significantly and overload me with cases. I don’t want to only be allowed to see those people for 15 minutes when they need so much more time than that. I don’t want to be considered a doctor that only hands out medication. I don’t do well with rules that are illogical and all of the aforementioned happens to be just that.

And yet I feel that to not pursue this would be abandoning my own people. I feel the difference I wish to make can only begin with legitimizing myself, and unfortunately that requires a college degree in this day and age. But if the passion for the classes isn’t there anymore–where does that leave me? I still have a fiery passion for exposing pharmaceutical companies for what they are, for guiding people through their own mental health journey, for offering other opportunities and healing besides medication and hospitalization, but I just can’t handle sitting through these fucking brainwashing classes and pretend to care about what they’re saying.

So do I start over? Do I accept the psychology degree and switch to a different discipline? Do I follow my original plan, which would require a hard science degree? Do I have the confidence for that? Or will word problems best me? Will I make the same mistake, get the degree, and then not want to pursue the discipline? Will I even be able to get the degree? Or do I say fuck school all together and live the rest of my life check to check, roommate to roommate?

I’ve been off all meds for a couple months now. No antipsychotics, no mood stabilizers, no antidepressants, no sleep medication. I’ve 360’d my diet, and now exercise five days a week for an hour and a half. I’m making a lot of changes and it feels like it’s only natural that my career path do the same.

The real problem is i’d love to have a career in physics and a career in peer support. That just doesn’t seem realistic though. Research during the day, peer during the night? Sounds exhaustive.

What’s helped you choose your career path? Are you still searching for something? Are you at a crossroads too?

The Night I Tried to Kill Myself

I don’t quite know how to put this experience into words. I haven’t written for some time again, due to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and general brain fog. I can’t seem to form coherent sentences as quickly as I used to, nor can I focus for long periods of time on something that I have a deep love for.

Thursday, 10.25.18 I remember walking into the outpatient center I attend for a therapy session. I remember the feelings of utter hopelessness attending with me, like a sack lunch I was carrying to school. I had made the decision to give up. I was tired of fighting, I was tired of trying to fight, and I was tired of the only option being fighting. I was tired of fighting myself, I was tired of, for the millionth time in my mental health career, coming off of medication, and I was tired of hearing I needed medication to thrive.

I was taking 10 milligrams of Abilify and 10 milligrams of Trintellix and I couldn’t find the energy to finish homework, or get out of bed, and I didn’t have the luxury of feeling any emotion at all: happiness, sadness, inquisitiveness, passion–nothing. And so I did what I always do: stopped the medication.

This usually happens without consequence. For the most part, I’ll stop cold turkey after a couple of months, struggle through a few physical withdrawal symptoms, and get on with my lifestyle. The last time I stopped these two meds, I regained my energy quickly, breezed through four classes, and managed happiness until the opinions of those I care about convinced me to try the medication again.

So I tried again, For maybe two and a half weeks. Then I stopped. I stopped and I noticed my energy did not come back. My mood was stable until it wasn’t. It plummeted. I focused a lot on what was wrong with me, the disappointment of my relationship ending (yes, I’m still stuck on that), and the worries of the future regarding my education, where I’m going to live after December, and the simple fact that I struggle taking care of myself. Those are the surface issues. There are deeper issues I don’t think I’m in touch with yet.

I’ve struggled with depression since I was ten years old. A low mood was nothing new to me, in fact I welcomed it because the darkness was comforting. It was an old friend, a sinister reminder that life is suffering and suffering reminds us that we’re alive. I was thankful for this friend to return because on the medication I didn’t feel alive.

I started planning fun things to do to keep me from falling further: A concert, an overnight trip to San Francisco, Halloween plans and costumes. I got excited: the week of the 21st would be marvelous.

But I started separating from myself.  I don’t remember when, and I don’t remember how, but part of me blacked out. I know I was around and talking to people because I went to work, had laughs, made plans. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I was there.

By Thursday, the 25th, I was moving slowly, not comprehending where I was, no hope or vision for the future, and I’d even lost interest in Halloween, my favorite holiday. I confessed to the therapist that I didn’t have energy to care much about my life, nor could I answer her questions. I didn’t tell her I’d made a plan to (somehow) kill myself after Halloween. It wasn’t fully developed yet, an undercooked chicken in the oven.

I don’t remember much about the session other than the ending: a mindful meditation seeking to locate my inner child. I remember a lot of pain resurfacing, so deep and profound I had never felt it before, and I snapped. I was gone. She asked me how I felt, and I told her dissociated, separated from myself. I remember that. She made me do some grounding activities to bring me back into my body. I don’t think they worked.
That night I went to a concert. It put me in a seemingly better mood.

Friday and Saturday I spent the days in San Francisco at the Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, Six Flags, and around town. Saturday evening, on the drive back, a sinister part of me reminded me of my plan.

I’m not a stranger to hearing voices. I don’t hear them every day, and I haven’t had a bad episode in a while, not since my last hospitalization last year, but this time was different. This time I heard nothing external, and everything internal.

We all have an inner voice that reads to us, thinks for us, and we are in control of that voice, we dictate it. I’m dictating it now as I read back what I wrote, and as I write. But what I listened to that Saturday evening was not of my own doing. A different voice, a male voice, one inside of my head that I had no control of, which directly told me I needed to kill myself. He instructed me to open the door of the car and jump out in traffic–on the highway–and end it. He addressed me as “you” and I addressed me as “I”. That’s the only difference I can pinpoint right now. When I had a thought of my own, I said to myself “I need to calm down”. When I didn’t, he said “you need to do this. There’s no reason for you to live, you don’t deserve life.”

Was this a demonic entity interfering with my thoughts? I didn’t know. I sat paralyzed in the rental car my Ex drove, crying consistently for an hour and a half. The torment wouldn’t stop. “You don’t deserve to live. There’s nothing good about you. Jump out of the car. End it. When you get home, kill yourself. Hang yourself in the closet, no one will even find you.”

I had plans that evening with another friend, so I did not act on those commands. I did, however, drink quite a bit of whiskey and wander around the downtown city. When I got home, I drank more whiskey and fell asleep.

In the morning I awoke instantly crying. The day was Sunday, 10.28.18. I turned on Breaking Bad: I’ve never seen it before. I don’t remember much of the episodes because my head was so loud: “hang yourself in the closet. Take a knife, slit your wrists. You will never amount to anything. You don’t deserve to be on this earth, you don’t contribute to anything.” I joined in: “I can’t write anymore. I can’t enjoy things anymore. I don’t see this getting any better”.

It was 6pm that night when I finally stood up and searched my apartment for something, anything to hang myself with. I didn’t feel in control of my body, I was just going along with the motions.

“Fill up the tub, get in the water, slit your wrists.”

I grabbed a kitchen knife from the drawer and filled up the tub. I remember this part more clearly than other parts because my heart was beating out of my chest, my hands were clammy, and I couldn’t get a grip on myself, I felt like I was losing myself to someone else.

I got in the water with my clothes on and fought the noise in my head. I tried to give myself reasons to live–family, my cat, work–but it was always overpowered by that other voice. I spent a half an hour sawing at my wrists with a dull blade that could barely cut a tomato. I pressed as hard as I could and my skin barely broke. Eventually, I threw the knife. I remember a lot of crying and banging my head on the wall and hitting myself. The noise wouldn’t stop. I ripped out the string from my leggings I had on and wrapped it around my neck and pulled and pulled and pulled. Thinking back on it, I would probably pass out before I die, given my hands are the one pulling the strings, but in the moment I just needed to cause some sort of harm to myself. I kept trying the knife in between strangling myself and I sent one text message that I don’t remember.

It was a couple hours before I stopped. My neck was sore and I had stopped crying, but I wasn’t back in my body yet. The water was cold and I heard the front door open and footsteps running in.

We spent a couple hours talking, and I was gone completely. I don’t remember an ounce of the conversation. I remember seeing through my eyes my body stand up and go for the knife, go for the string, and my ex preventing me from doing so. I remember telling him I didn’t want to traumatize him.

There’s a block on my memory of the conversation, what I said, what he said. I remember being on the couch wrapped in blankets, soaking wet, distraught, eating pizza. I didn’t remember the last time I had food. It couldn’t have been too long. I took a Seroquel. I only had three or four left. It’s a shame I didn’t have a full bottle, or I would have just swallowed them all and called it a night.

The next day I didn’t awake until 1pm. I could barely move, my mind was paralyzingly loud, and I turned on more Breaking Bad. The urge to die was so strong. People took turns watching after me, texting me, calling me. I refused to let anyone call 911. The hospital is not a place to be when you’re in a crisis.

Today is Halloween. My head isn’t loud. I came back into my body and have trouble remembering what the depression felt like because I feel I wasn’t the one to feel it–this entity within me, whether it’s paranormal or just a fractured part of my self, is hell bent on destroying me.  I haven’t experienced a dissociative experience so destructive since high school.

Am I still depressed? I think. Mildly. Or it’s so severe that I’m incapable of comprehending the severity of it.

I didn’t learn to love life from this attempt. I didn’t learn to appreciate the little things or find new meaning or purpose. I still feel lost and confused. A hospital visit isn’t going to change that. What I did learn is that I’m more committed than ever to never taking psychiatric medication again in my life. After 7 years of being a guinea pig, I’m done.

My outpatient group counselor asked me why I despised medication so much. I told her it’s poison. She asked in what way. I told everyone in that room that long term treatment results in heart issues, liver issues, physical ailments that permanently scar your internal body and shorten your life span.

She said okay,  well, then would you rather kill yourself now and not have a life to live, or have some little problems a little later?

I said that was a dumb question, and that heart arrhythmia’s aren’t little problems. I said I’d rather kill myself than subject my body to synthetic chemicals.

And through this experience, if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the only two ways I will die is by my own hand or nature’s hand. I will not slowly die at the hands of greedy monsters making a profit off my death. If anyone is going to shorten my life span, it’s going to be me.

Should 911 have been called on me? Probably. I’m worried what I will do after Halloween–my original plan–and where my mindset will go. I’m worried I won’t be able to receive the support people are offering because I don’t know how. I’m convinced there is nothing left for me and that the only thing keeping me alive right now is fear of the unknown and a low threshold for pain. I’m worried this depression will slide past, unnoticed, and sky rocket into something more. I’m worried I’m not going to find a purpose again, that I’m not going to find a reason to live. I’m worried I’ll never feel passionate about anything again, or optimistic. I’m worried I’m shutting down, like the last stages of liver cancer. I’m worried I’ll pass as functional and be in misery for the rest of my life, however short or long that is. I’m worried someone will convince me to go back on medication. I’m worried that the only thought in my head right now is that I give up.

I’m worried that, recently, every time someone offers their help, my response now is “I don’t want it.”

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.

 

 

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.

 

Finally.

I think I pinpointed one of my major problems today.

As I was driving home, listening to SAD by XXXTentaction for whatever reason (shut up), one of his lines caught my attention. It goes:

maxresdefault“Who am I?”

“Someone that’s afraid to let go” (Should be WHO’S afraid to let go, but I let him slip since he got shot and killed)

“You decide”

“If you ever gunna let me know”

“Suicide”

“If you ever try to let go”

“I’m sad I know, yeah, I’m sad I know yeah.”

Not the deepest lyrics in the world, but to me they hit a chord, particularly the “I’m sad, I know yeah” portion. I think denial has been an issue of mine for a long time now. Through the entire three years that I’ve been blogging on this account, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this. And it’s hard to write about something I haven’t already mentioned on this fucking blog.

But I think I denied how “Sad” I really was for some years now. I played it off so well that I convinced myself nothing was going on. So when I got extremely low, I broke. Then I repaired myself, denied it ever happened, and waited until the next break. I think that’s where portions of my psychosis comes from.

Which is another weird thing to say: “my psychosis”.

wireless_giselle

For a long time I denied that as well. And it wasn’t always just because I actually believed the delusions and such. It was also because I just didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. Regardless of the thoughts or any voices, I just didn’t think anything was wrong. I was suffering, and refused to believe anything was going on. I don’t understand how a brain can do that. I just don’t. I don’t because I was aware of everything so vividly. And yet I was so distant from it all.

It feels vindicating to say those few words “I’m sad I know yeah, I’m sad I know yeah”.

I also think I denied the psychosis because it wasn’t “as bad” as other people. I didn’t end up involuntary because of paranoia until I threatened to kill myself over it, so it’s not like I was found running naked down the street screaming about aliens. No, I kept my naked, screaming self hidden within the back of my mind and suffered that way. If there’s no such thing as a quiet psychosis, I’ve just invented it.

I’ve invented quiet everything, trust me. Quiet rage, quiet happiness, quiet sadness, quiet psychosis, it’s copyright. Don’t steal it. The only exception is “quiet borderline” which is already a thing so I can’t steal it. Fuck whoever coined that term. That’s MY term.

I feel like I’m starting to get back into this writing groove. This is nice.

success

Anyway, my point is I feel like I’m getting my brain back, my motivation, my determination, and my passion. I also feel like I’ve learned so much about myself over these last three years that I’m really thankful for every bit of the experience, even the times that have been roughest I’ve ever been through.

It’s been the first time I’ve spoken in therapy about my delusions. I call them that, but at the same time I still kind of believe them. So I don’t really know how to deal with that. I guess I can say that everyone else calls them delusions, I just call them reality. But regardless, I’m talking about them, and it feels good to have a therapist who isn’t judging what I’m saying. She may talk like a speed demon, but her words are valid and kind. So far.

I’ve also been recognizing when my perception of others is getting in the way of me seeing their true self. That’s a whole other can of worms to open.

I think that’s enough for now.

Own up to what you deal with. You don’t have to believe you’re crazy. You don’t have to believe you’re delusional or psychotic or any of those things. Just know you’re struggling, and start to get okay with that, or you’ll never be okay with it. And that’s today’s mental truth.

Passion

I’m curious what you all think. I mean really lay it on me, tell me all of your thoughts and wishes. Tell me your self-hate speech and what that little voice is like inside of your head. Tell me your positive self speech and what that little voice is like inside of your head. Tell me if you don’t have one or don’t have the other. I’d like to know.

selftalk

I’d also like to know what you think about your therapist, briefly, sharing a struggle they’ve had in order to relate to something you’re saying. I know some people don’t like their professionals to “get personal” with them, but I’m curious why this is. I’m curious why you wouldn’t want someone who is there to help with your mental health prove to you that everyone struggles in one way or another at some point in their lives? I thought the whole point wasn’t to feel alone?

I salivate over the idea of mental health peers being counselors, therapists, psychiatrist, psychologists, people who really understand and can share their successes with you and how they got to where they are: that to me is inspiration, not a sign of a bad therapist. I don’t think they should sit there and tell you everything about their life, I don’t want to know about the star shaped mole on their husband’s nether regions, but telling me about a coping mechanism they’ve used for anxiety would be helpful.

Maybe this is just me. That’s why I’m sending it out to all of you, what’s left of you at least, since I’ve taken so many hiatus’ from this blog that I don’t know who actually reads me anymore or who doesn’t.

Since I will be giving a speech on peer supportive opportunities tomorrow, I’m in the spirit of talking about it.

How useful would it be that your therapist knew exactly what severe anxiety felt like.

How useful would it be that your psychiatrist remembers what their psychotic break was like.

How useful would it be that your counselor knew exactly how low your energy got during a depression because they’d been there before.

I think there’s a lot of compassion and empathy missing from the system sometimes, and I think a lot of that has to do with not really, truly, understanding what we go through. I think it also has to do with this “just do your job” mentality that happens from working a career too long–at least for some.

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I know there was a big difference between the physician’s assistant my dad saw in the emergency room versus the doctors that had been practicing for years. You could tell the P.A remembered all of his motivational interviewing skills. He knew how to connect, he knew how to negotiate, and he did it all with some serious humor. Maybe he’ll just be a great doctor one day. Or maybe it’s because he was new.

Somehow we have to keep that passion up. How should we do that? Should we, as patients, clients, residents, guests, members, whatever you refer to yourself as–should we start a ruckus? Should we remind our doctors why they became doctors in the first place?

Then there are the nice doctors who you do connect with who make simple mistakes. But it’s how they handle those simple mistakes that tells me whether or not they are decent at what they do.

For example, the nurse practitioner who handles my psychiatric medications (yes I am once again back on meds) told me that Abilify’s starting dose is 15mg.

It most certainly is not. How can it be if the first “therapeutic” dose is 10mg? I have yet to mention to her that the physician’s desk reference tells us that anything above 10mg hasn’t really shown any true efficacy in all the studies its been through, that will be a conversation for when she decides to try to take me to 15mg.

When I told her that I wanted to start at 5mg because my body is sensitive to this bullshit (I didn’t say bullshit, but I wanted to), she said oh, okay, we’ll do that–and didn’t argue with me. She trusted that I knew what was best for my body and I respect that. Not every psychiatrist or doctor will do that. Some of them pretend to know everything. Throw some Calculus at them, I bet they forgot how to do it. So they don’t know everything. Ha.

I think this also speaks to be able to speak up for yourself. It’s taken me a lot of years to learn that skill when it comes to doctors, because you want to trust what they have to say, you want to trust what they say is best for you, but the truth is only you know what’s best for you. Sometimes that means no medication, sometimes that means swallowing your pride and your arrogance and quelling your hatred for pharmaceutical systems and taking some form of medication until you can better handle yourself.

I don’t believe anyone is doomed to medication for eternity. Including myself. But I also recognize now that it’s an essential aide sometimes in life.

The point is, speak up for yourself. Don’t let someone, especially a professional, tell you that you don’t know yourself.

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The Future of Preventive Care

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In the last post, I mentioned the DSM board’s attempt at preemptively striking against textbook psychosis. There’s a whole other world out there in the mental health field dedicated, and quite passionately might I add, to prevention psychiatry: stopping the progression of certain experiences, mainly psychosis, before they turn into something they can label as schizophrenia.

I have nothing against their passion. But I would like one of the members to explain how creating several new disorders like attenuated psychosis syndrome would do anything other than create a new label multitudes of teenagers would be diagnosed with, fed medications that aren’t researched on teenagers, and make them fear their future more than they should.

So, where do we start?

If you ask me (no one did), preventive care, if that’s what it’s to be called, includes family dynamics, relationship dynamics, and self-dynamics, not only diagnosis and medications.

Family Dynamics

This is an important but difficult portion for me to write. I find myself grappling with words that sound rehearsed and disingenuous, because I’m not quite sure what a healthy family dynamic would be. But I understand that what you are taught, what you see, what you experience as a child heavily influences what you teach, what you see, and what you experience as an adult. This includes behaviors and thought patterns that may be seen in the world of psychology as abnormal.

The family as a whole must be looked at in preventive care because it may very well be that the problem starts somewhere in the family, perhaps in the history of the family. Substance use, abuse, neglect, perfectionism, other illnesses of family members that fall on the responsibility of the child. Every moment of life becomes a little more traumatic, and the brain is our rock, it must do what it must to protect us from processing emotions we don’t fully understand. As helpful as that can be in the moment, it becomes something to wrestle with for many years in the long run.

As a child, I never spoke my insecurities, my emotions, or opinions. I didn’t feel safe physically or emotionally. I didn’t learn healthy outlets for anger, and I didn’t learn healthy outlets for sadness. I didn’t know my pain was worth mentioning, so all of it meshed together somewhere in the back of my mind, and eventually came out as panic attacks, depression, psychosis, and self-harm.

Does this mean my family is to blame? No. What it means is that the dynamics were not healthy. It means when looking at preventing further development of experiences like psychosis and depression and self harm, regardless of whether a diagnosis is the main goal, we have to look at how the family functions/functioned as a whole.

Relationship Dynamics

What’s been learned in childhood and adolescence inevitably bridges into the relationships we have throughout life, and if there is a pattern of bumpy relationships–friendships, romantic relationships, acquaintanceship– then it’s time to also take a look at why. Everyone, even the most introverted person, needs a close friend once in a while. The inability to have an open, comfortable, a mutual connection with another person may force a person inward.

It may also signify an inability to understand what healthy relationships look like, another one of my own personal weak points. Part of preventive care should be focused heavily on providing a person resources on how to learn to have these healthy relationships, even if it’s just one person. And I’m not talking about just therapy, I’m talking about workshops and intensive analysis. Having someone in your corner makes all the difference when you feel lost or disregarded or confused.

Self-Dynamics

How does the person regard themselves? How does the person treat themselves? This is the most important aspect of preventive care, because in the end you really only have yourself as your largest support force; if you’re not on your side, who is? This is why I believe adding another diagnostic label telling someone they’re developing a life-long “illness” that they will need long-term medication as treatment doesn’t really empower them to look at their life with healthy vision.

Is the person stuck inward? Do they value themselves? Do they value others? Do they have painful outbursts? I point out these behaviors for a reason: they are most often questions asked and behaviors people want to change. I don’t believe preventive care should be about changing anyone, but rather giving the person a chance to see a different perspective and a different side of things. The personal transformation which transpires from that will help the person loosen up in the way they are meant to loosen up, rather than forcing a way of being on them. We’ve seen that force isn’t a healthy dynamic between “patient/client” and doctor many times.

Where Does This Leave Us?

If you are a provider, take into account everything. I’m sure that’s something that’s taught over and over again, in fact I know it is because I’ve heard it in every psychology class I’ve ever taken. But sometimes we forget. And sometimes we don’t mean to forget. Sometimes we get wrapped up in what our job is versus what our job could be. And that’s when it’s important to take a step back and really engage with people, understanding them on a personal level. It’s a two way street here: while it’s up to us consumers to take our health into our own hands, it’s also up to providers to guide us appropriately when we might not be able to take our health into our own hands.

There’s a notable difference between doctor’s who are genuinely curious about what’s ailing you and those who want to help, but come equipped only with the DSM.

Oh How The Mighty Has Fallen

Oh dear.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. We have to stay strong in this time of unrest. The Mighty, I am disappointed. Mad In America, you deliver once more.

As many of you may know, those two online magazines are among the largest contributors to mental health writings. The Mighty has a focus on disability, mental illness (their term, not mine), and disease, a very versatile platform with contributors I’ve always enjoyed reading. The people have good hearts and their stories are always worth reading. They will always be worth reading, because those stories are people’s lives, regardless of what I’m about to say in this post.

Mad In America is a website I was first introduced to when applying to my position at Second Story Respite House–mostly because Mad in America wrote a couple articles on them and because the trainer I had for IPS, Steven Morgan, has contributed some articles. But the website also has articles on science and drugs and psychiatry and social justice, another versatile, well spoken, and respectable magazine with just as respectable contributors as The Mighty.

Now.

The one thing I understand about being a major website with editors and contributors regarding mental health is the same thing I understand about being a non-profit, “progressive”, mental health program: funding is shit. Funding is shit. Funding is shit. It’s not easy to keep these kinds of things going, and temptations are out there. Embellished temptations that look better than they are.

When I read the article “Why I Resigned From The Mighty” by Twilah Hiari published on Mad In America, I was disheartened but not surprised in the least. Not the least. You can read her work for herself, and I encourage you to, but I’ll give a quick summary.

She’d been offered a position at The Mighty as an editor I believe, and summoned to a work retreat. There she learned the chief revenue officer’s plan to monetize The Mighty with pharmaceutical advertising. The quote Hiari included from her is as follows: “If the CEO for Abilify was in the front row right now, he’d be salivating”. This deal included giving drug companies data on the website’s users for targeted advertising and marketing.

I will never at all blame this officer for her poor decision–because that’s what it is, a poor decision, and we’ve all made poor decision in life. I can’t fault her for being human. And I understand the need to fund the site and pay contributors, but the problem with this is that it’s like protesting Animal Abuse, and then–unknowingly or knowingly–buying a product in a store that tests on animals. You have to be careful with this kind of thing. You have to be very, very careful.

Hiari then goes into her own experiences with the drug Abilify and how it’s negatively, very, very negatively (go read her article, seriously) impacted her life.

And I think the important distinction here is to recognize that Hiari is not bitter about how medications have caused her harm and now refuses any and all association with them and plans to blast them on the internet, but that she’s pointing out a serious issue we have right now: this inclusion of  big pharma whose intention is money and nothing more into our mental health empowerment strategies. Big Pharma is not for mental health empowerment. If they were, we probably wouldn’t call them Big Pharma.

That’s like funding Second Story through Big Pharma and allowing them to place their appointed psychiatrists in our house to monitor our guests’ medications and market. I mean, fucks’ sake. Yeah, that’ll go over real well. Come in and undermine everything we stand for, thanks, appreciate it, high five.

*Major Eye-rollage*

Corporate pressure is real, and The Mighty has Fallen. Beneath the pressure, that is.

We have to remember in this world that’s controlled by business, that when we have a view that we stand for, we have to actually stand for it. Not sit, not cower, not bend over, but actually stand. So your legs might hurt, your back might ache, you might feel week, but it’s your view. Own it–don’t sell it.

To Everyone Anti-Psychiatry . . .

Life is an experience. 

That’s all it is.

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You can hate it, you can love it, you can take it for granted, but at the end of it we’re all reduced to the same fate. For anyone to take anything so serious that it completely thwarts their vision to the fact that it’s okay to wake up and not know what you’re going to do that day, or that it’s okay to wake up and hate everything, or that it’s okay to be a little different, is only fooling themselves.

Remember, a winner is not someone who never fails, but someone who never quits. 

Experiences are good and bad and life is a conglomeration of them all. Expect horrible things to happen now and then. Expect good things to happen now and then. But, don’t ever expect that you’re privileged enough to not experience one of the two.

 

I work at a peer run mental health respite house called Second Story. I’d link you to something but . . . we don’t have a website and the last time I linked something, the entire organization of Intentional Peer Support found my article and that was honestly a little embarrassing. Granted, they loved the article and published it on their Facebook/website or whatever. Still. I said, as a joke in the article, that my first impression of the trainer dude was that he was a hippie and described his exact clothing. And he read that shit.

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Anyway, I’ve read articles about Second Story in a magazine called Mad In America. There are videos on YouTube about Second Story. In the state of California, they were the first mental health respite house. In the United States, they were the seventh. They’ve been open almost six years now. Apparently, there are about thirty respite houses in the U.S now.

I found them by typing “psychology” into a job search engine and applied.

At the same time, I was offered a position at a behavioral therapy center for eighteen dollars an hour. Eighteen dollars a fucking hour. That’s a lot for someone like me who has no degree and hardly any experience in anything. I held off confirming anything with them until I heard back from Second Story.

Technically, the respite is almost like an alternative to a psychiatric hospital. If you’re struggling and you are connected with county coordinators or psych doctors through the county and you have housing and you’re not conserved or on a sex offender list and you’re over 18, you can come stay with us.

We have a “WarmLine” phone number you can call and talk to someone 24/7. It’s not like a suicide hotline where the people just ask “do you have a plan?” “will you be safe tonight?”. No, this is a line to call when you’re looking for someone who understands what you’re going through. It’s a line to have a conversation.

How glorious it would be to have enough money and be big enough to open the doors to people who are not connected to the county. But I’m willing to bet fifty dollars before you read this post, a “mental health respite house” was foreign language to you.

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We’re completely voluntary. Come and go as you like, just let us know if you’re going to be back late because we do require you stay in the house overnight. We can be flexible depending on the circumstances. You can stay for two weeks, and if you seem to be working on your goals and participating in the house we are always open to granting an extension. Once again, it’s also flexible depending on the circumstances.

We’re all peers. We know how depression feels or anxiety or the experience of hearing voices or feeling manic and whatever else you can think of: PTSD, trauma, addictions, general mood issues, confusion, e.t.c; I’m not going to list every human emotion for Christ’s sake.

Because that’s basically what it is. Anything a human can or has experienced: we’ve hopefully got at least one person who has experienced something similar.

So we don’t go prodding around your “diagnosis”. Because we don’t really talk about diagnosis; it’s not the point. I’ve very, very rarely heard words like “schizophrenia” or “bipolar” used in this house to explain an experience or a person.

ih_140611_dsm_v_5_book_800x600I’ve heard the experiences of what a professional would probably use to categorize one of those disorders talked about in the house. I’m on both sides: the textbook and the experience side. For fucks sake, I own both the DSM 4 and DSM 5. Sure, I could have gone into this house and talked to a guest and immediately categorized their speech as “loose association” or their thoughts as “delusional”. But if I went in and did that, I’m saying it’s okay that 1) someone do that to me and 2) that this person is only saying these things because of this disorder and 3) it’s not worth my time to listen to “rambles” because it’s the “disorder” speaking.

And that’s how the mental health system handles people, that’s how I learned to talk and see things. It’s not what I believed, but it was what I learned.

I remember I used the word “delusional” in my interview with them, now I feel like a fucking tool for it. Seriously, that memory haunts me every time I walk in there.

And to act like some egotistical, medical prick wasn’t why I decided to send in a cover letter to Second Story. I applied to be able to connect not just for others, but for myself as well.

scientology_psychiatry_killsOne thing I love about Second Story is that it’s not “anti-psychiatry”. It’s not “fuck you, medicine” or “fuck you, psych docs”. It’s completely distant from all of that extremist stuff, where people rant all day but really do nothing to impact anyone, which was where I was heading very, very quickly. Instead, it’s focused on the real people, it’s focused on working together. We’re in the bottom of the industry’s mixing pot, but from being with these people I see none of that bullshit matters. None of it fucking matters you guys. NONE of it. 

Fuck the money. Fuck trying to shove Alex Gorsky/Johnson and Johnson’s ego down their throats. Fuck all that negativity. It’s not about your disorder. It’s not about your doctor. It’s not about telling psychiatry that it kills. It’s not about any of this monopoly fucking industrial fake bullshit. 

It’s about getting through the experience of life together. It’s about being able to share your story and have it be heard and feel that relief when someone else says “I know what you feel like because I’ve been there”. That makes way more of a difference to that person than your rant on Psych Forums about how all anti-psychotic medications are poison.

Not saying they’re not. Just saying your rant really serves no other purpose than to get out some anger for you. Which is great for you.

Watching these people come in and out and face their demons head on, whether they want to or not, has given me the strength to try and do the same myself. Because now that I see it in them, now that I see they’re struggling right beside me and still moving forward, I know it’s possible.

And that’s the power of peer support.

P.S Fuck Alex Gorsky.

Sorry. That’s the last of my negativity towards the industry. I had to get it out.

The Unmentionables

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In honor of mental health month, or week, or whatever (for my opinion on the matter, and the solid reasoning behind my opinion click here)  I’d like to take a moment to discuss something that isn’t spoken about very often until another study comes out proving the same statistics over and over again.

If you’d like to read the original article (from which I’ll be taking quotations as well,) you can also click here. 

The subject is schizophrenia and race.

Race is a touchy subject. Schizophrenia is as well, in my opinion: it’s something many people don’t understand, something some people refuse to understand, and as a result it isn’t spoken of often in the general public, not as openly as depression and anxiety.

I could spend a good four or five blog posts on the stigma behind schizophrenia and how bad I want to punch idiots in the face. But I won’t. I can’t make any guarantees about the punching though.

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Race is something many people refuse to recognize as a social construction and therefore it becomes a way to fuel our human instinct to judge.

So when you mix the two, it’s obvious it’s not a subject you’d bring up over coffee with your average “neurotypical” and expect them to not do this:

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The article I read, published on may 20, 2016 states the same old statistics that I’ve known for years:

African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than whites and less likely to receive medication to treat the condition.

And this is according to a new study published.

And the response from the professionals who receive these statistics is the same as usual:

“It’s concerning that we saw a higher rate of diagnosis of schizophrenia and seemingly an undertreatment in terms of pharmacotherapy for that group . . . In general, pharmacotherapy is an important part of the treatment plan. That’s a finding that warrants some additional research.”

The woman who said that co-authored the study. What’s peculiar to me is their language. It’s just “concerning” that certain ethnic groups are being targeted specifically (or subconsciously,) and left to the deal with their own demons on their own time when there are treatments available for them to try. It’s a finding that “Warrants additional research”? Really? What the fuck is research going to do?

Now, let me and my ghetto self butt in for a moment, because I grew up with a very southern, black part of my family and a very midwestern, polish, White part of my family. It is not a secret that in African American hosueholds, mental health is not taken very seriously. In many ethnic groups this is the case. It’s seen as a weakness or a personality flaw that warrants seclusion. It’s also the case that most ethnic groups are of a lower socioeconomic status (which, remember, is a larger contributing factor to mental illness than people give it credit for)  and without insurance, so the prospects of treatment, of expensive psychiatrists, of expensive therapy, of expensive medication, are pretty much nil.

*Remember, you save a huge blow to your finances if you see a psychiatrist who also provides therapy services.*

“White patients were 77.8 percent more likely than other racial groups to receive medication.”

Once again, health insurance, money: all very important when receiving medication. Does this statistic mean the medical industry is racist? I don’t believe so. Does it mean there is a gap between treatment of races? Absolutely: of course there is, for finance reasons, so societal reasons, for family reasons. The problem isn’t just in the medical industry, it isn’t something that can be solved with “more research”, it’s a problem ingrained in the deepest corners of American history that we’ve, well, ignored.

It’s all nice and well to apologize for slavery, it’s all nice and well to encourage hispanic kids into college, to enjoy Chinese food, to talk for ten minutes in public school about Native American culture (ten minutes is better than it used to be) as long as you don’t continue on with the same under the rug bigoted behavior.

Which we have.

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For many years.

What was the point of the apology?

“Interestingly enough, Native American/Alaskan Native patients had the highest rate of any diagnosis at 20.6 percent, and Asian patients had the lowest rates at 7.5 percent.”

That’s a cute statistic. We are all aware of how stigmatized mental health is in Asian communities, I am sure. To be quite honest, it would be hard to distinguish schizotypy in patients with a culture rich in signs, symbols, ancestry, stars, and hallucinogens which are heavily present in Native American culture. There are some native cultures whose medicine doctors snort some of the world’s most potent hallucinogens, take a second to themselves, and then use the trip they go on as a way to heal their patients. They manipulate the hallucinations, the emotions they gain, and believe it a portal to the spirit world.

Hand if off to a westerner and they’ve been known to run off into the forest with their mind miles away from them.

The Office of Minority Health reported Black adults are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness in comparison to white adults.

I wonder why. 

Perhaps more African-American physicians are necessary to even the gap between Blacks and whites. The 1999 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health found that Black doctors are five times more likely than white doctors to treat Black patients, and African-American patients consistently rated their Black physicians higher when it comes to bedside manner. Respondents said Black doctors had a more participatory style of interaction.

1And this makes the article all worth it, in my opinion. It’s not a matter of “perhaps”, it’s a matter of necessity. Not only for fair treatment of ethnics, but as a way to boost overall morale of all ethnic groups: we need people our children can look up to, people our children can see are successful not because their black or Asian, or white or Hispanic, but because they had a vision for themselves, a passion, and they went after it.

People think it’s about their own race “comin’ up in the game”, but it’s not. It’s about seeing someone you relate to, someone you can understand, make something of themselves. And that’s more powerful than any skin pigmentation.

Like I’ve stated before, I’m one of the lucky ones. I grew up accepting every asset of myself, my fantasy world, the weird way I shove random words from my face hole with shocking inconsistency, and as I’ve grown older the things I hear that others don’t, the things I catch glimpses of that others don’t, the people (every human being) I mistrust, the insomnia, the signs, the this, the that.

I say I’m lucky because I’ve never had the displeasure of breaking from reality indefinitely. I say I’m lucky because what I experience isn’t nearly as bad as what others do. Not yet.

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That doesn’t mean things aren’t annoying. For example, one reoccurring hallucination I call “megaphone” I think I’ve talked about briefly. Essentially it sounds like someone right next to my ear whose voice echos all down the street and all around my space, but hasn’t moved from my side. I can’t ever understand what they say, it’s just a mush pot of words.

Today it startled me twice. He usually comes around when I’ve been stressed. Although it sounded right next to me, it also sounded like it was coming from the lawn of the apartment across the street. But when I looked there was no one. No cars bumping loud music (that’s a first for that complex), no apartments bumping loud music (yet another first), and no kids screaming running around the grass (a third first). No live music, no microphones, nothing. Just dead silence. Except, of course, for the megaphone mumbling.

Yo, I had a drink called a “Zombie” tonight at this place:

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They served it in a tiki zombie ceramic cup. It was delicious: Rum, passion fruit, pineapple and lime juice. Delicious. 

Anyway, I deal with megaphone-for-brains often. I mistake silence or thuds and crashes for voices all the time, I hear my name all over the place, yada, yada,  other things: beliefs that I have evidence to support that people still seem to deny exist, women in bowling alleys conspiring with their friends to talk about me just because I was aware of their existence and probably would have spiked my drink last night if I had had one there too, blah, blah! You get it. 

I talk a lot about my anxiety and depression. But not much about these things. Why? Well, depression is a crippling disorder, there’s no doubt about that. So is anxiety. The majority of the population experiences some or all of the disorder at some point in their life. The same can’t be said for Schizotypal PD.

So I understand why African American families are wary of mental disorders and diagnosis, especially when it comes to something as life-alerting as schizophrenia. I understand we don’t like to talk about it: it just sounds plain ridiculous and ignorance is bliss. But since when has ignoring something ever made it go away?

*Cough* Racism *COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH*

Sorry, I had a political tickle in my throat.

This is the why sharing is such a huge asset to those of us in the mental health community: fuck trying to change people, that’s gotten us no where. We need to know that if no one else on the outside is there for us, than someone on the inside is.

What happens when we’re not there for each other? Well, those aforementioned statistics, suicides and misery.

I used to wonder why people don’t believe in they self

and then I saw the way they portrayed us to everyone else.

They cursed us, to only see the worst in ourselves

Blind to the fact the whole time we were hurtin’ ourselves

–Immortal Technique