Self Confidence

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Confidence is key.

At least, that’s what they say. And let’s be honest: how much of what “they” say should we really hold on to?

I think a lot of people struggle with confidence because of the standards set upon them. You should be good at this because you studied this. You should this, you should that. I think a lot of people struggle with confidence because there’s this misconception that being confident means you’ll succeed.

As someone who is thoroughly confident, I know this is not the truth. To be confident does not mean you will succeed, it means you have the ability to accept where you fall short. It means you don’t avoid the hole by risking your life and leaping over it, it means you fall into the hole and manage to climb your way out.

Some people call that resilience, but you can be resilient and stand strong while continuously getting beat into the ground without a chance to get back up. And without the chance to get back up, you start believing you won’t ever get back up. And that doesn’t sound like confidence to me.

To be confident means you know it’s okay to feel bad. To be confident means you know that the struggle is not the end, but a process to birth an outcome. To be confident means you know that outcome, whatever it may be, is just that: an outcome. And once that outcome passes, there will be another chance, in whatever way it presents itself, for you to create a new outcome.

To be confident means you don’t always smile. It means you accept what emotions come when they may, whether they be “appropriate” or not. To be confident means the words placed on your social media meant to provoke you into a rage doesn’t dent your pride, but elicits a laugh because words on a computer screen are like salt tablets thrown into the ocean.

To be confident doesn’t mean you’re strong, and it doesn’t mean you can turn your weaknesses into strengths. Being confident is the act of allowing weakness to simply exist.

To be confident isn’t to be smarter than the person beside you; confidence and arrogance are not synonymous, I’m sorry to say.

All of the above is the reason they say confidence is the key to success. When a wall is presented, those of us who are confident don’t slink in defeat and we don’t majestically leap over the wall with no effort. We stare at the wall and acknowledge it. We say, “okay, this wall is new; let’s see where this takes me”. Then we walk along the wall and feel the wall and see the wall and never ignore it. We let the wall think it controls our fate and we understand that by giving up the power of perfection and standards and the illusion that we can simply climb up the wall without understanding why the wall exists in the first place, we gain even greater power of our outcome.

You don’t need multiple successes for confidence: take it from someone who, in many people’s eyes, including my own, has failed over and over and over and over and over again. And those failures are what keep me going. If I didn’t have those, I wouldn’t be nearly as confident. I would be terrified that one day, at some point in time, my successes or my achievements or my standards would be ripped away in an instant. I would smile all the time so people couldn’t see my terror.

With that, I shall leave you with another excerpt entitled “Prayer For Keeping On”.

Let us find a way to keep it moving, to keep it alive and free, where it wants to be. Let us walk all the way through doubt consistently, to believe in what we have found in our beginnings. Let us know what is real, and let us pass it back and forth between our hands until we are gone from this earth, and even then, let us remain in this spirit, please.

From “Sam Woods, American Healing”.

 

In The Name Of Remembrance

Often I don’t speak about serious topics on here that are unrelated to mental health, but this topic, this topic is a disgusting exception.

As every good story starts, I was browsing Facebook this morning and came across an NPR article on the current Pope visiting Auschwitz concentration camp memorial museum. The article is here if you would also like to read it: click.

I have always been aware that the former concentration camps like Dachau and Auschwitz were open to tours. I went on Google Earth to creepily ride past in my virtual google car to see buses upon buses upon buses of school children and regular people walking into the Auschwitz entrance. It looked as if the whole of the Polish education system was there.

Across the street were some Restaurants and a Hotel. Cool bro.

After reading about the way both former concentration camps choose to educate those who come to mourn, to remember, and to learn, I came to the understanding that “tour” wasn’t really an appropriate word. It’s a memorial experience. It’s a “path of remembrance” (that’s the name of a specific route you can walk through at Dachau).

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They Have Historical Information Signs Along The Path, Hence The Name.

I respect these people for that. They take what has happened in their past and to make sure it will never happen again, they teach people about it. They have survivors share their story, and it’s part of their children’s education–extensively. A lot of Germany and Poland has healed as a result, they have been for the last 50 years. Say what you will about Germans, they’re not so ashamed of their own history that they hide it under the rug or play it down.

Reading all of this got me thinking about the United States. I wondered how many of the old slavery plantations are still resurrected today, and if we have any similar programs. There was a portion of my heart that hoped, with naivete, that America would have the scant amount of decency needed to partake in something as healing as the aforementioned. The other portion of my heart knew better.

The other portion of my heart knew with the amount of race-related turmoil going on in the United States today, there was no way in hell any amount of healing from the trauma of the south has happened.

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August 12, 1959

VS

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February 19, 2016 Source

The first plantation that popped up in my search was Pebble Hill. I’ve heard of it, but don’t know much about the history of the slaves. According to research, the land for Pebble hill was bought from the Creek Indians. Fraud and scandal was used later to steal the rest of the land and leave many Creek homeless.

I read this information on a Southern University website, particularly this one: click here. I admire them for adding the Indians into their history, many people do not. However, I critique their title of “African-American’s at pebble hill”. I critique their explanation that “African American’s helped build pebble hill”.

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Pebble Hill As It Stands Today

Those were slaves. Not “African-Americans”. Say what it is. Not what you wish it was.

That website also contains a list of families who lived there and took over the plantation, if you’re interested.

Continuing my search, I came across a website with an article where you could “Tour the South’s Best Historic Homes”. Pebble Hill was listed.

In fact, under the “Inspiring Ideas” category, it described the house as: “This classic plantation [with] breezy, colorful interiors with chic chinoiserie elements that feel au courant.”

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Now.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

Plantations did not kill as many as Hitler’s and Stalin’s concentration camps. Unless you include the generations to come after that. Particularly if you include the Native Americans . . . in which case, we’re at about the same level of indecency and murder as both Hitler and Stalin. So I suppose the only difference is ours was systematic and generational, and their was all at once.

To describe an area where people’s lives were shattered, where people served and got whipped and hanged and had to pick cotton and run your fucking house for you because you were too lazy of a piece of shit to do your own house work and take care of your own kids or pick your own cotton, as “breezy, [with] colorful interiors . . . that feel au courant” is a disgrace. Whoever has done this needs to feel the shame they deserve.

My anger fueled me to go onto their website. That’s where I learned weddings are held there.

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“I’d love to get married in a concentration camp one day” said no one ever. Why? Because that would be fucking DISRESPECTFUL, that’s why.

“I’d love to get married on your mother’s grave” said no one ever.

Would you do this shit at a concentration camp?

(#ConcentrationCampSelfie)

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No, Because You’re Not An Insensitive Prick.

Than don’t do it at a plantation.

Their “history” section on their plantation webpage talks only about the owners, and never the slaves.

Google reviews reiterated that the house was beautiful. A few commented on how they never mention any history of the slaves or give any types of remembrance for them. One individual who wished to at least see the grave sites had to ASK DIRECTIONS to find them, because it’s not included in the tour.

Texan textbooks described the slave trade as people bringing “millions of workers”.

The publishing company offered to send stickers to cover up the word “workers” in the printed books while they worked on more accurately depicting the slave trade.

The author of the article I read said it perfectly: “It will take more than that to fix the way slavery is taught in Texas textbooks”. You can read more about that here: click. It’s worth the read, I promise.

raf220x200075ffafafaca443f4786It’s not about political correctness. I’m not being PC principal here. It’s not even about bashing the South. I just want the truth. Don’t cover up the truth with a slightly, less severe way of telling it because then it becomes a lie. And if you want your country to be built on lies, than don’t act surprised or disgusted when citizens start rising up against you.

We need to give these people remembrance so their spirits can rest and ours can be healed. Stop beating around the bush, stopping putting stickers over the things you don’t want to read: we all know what happened, we might as well talk about it.

The goal isn’t to forget. It’s to remember. 

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Totally Unintentional Self-Promotion

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Could have been the champagne, the champagne,

Could have been the cocaine, the cocaine,

Could have been the way you looked at me that told me we were through!

I’m rocking out to some Cavo at 2:40 A.M and you’re reading me while I rock out to some Cavo. Isn’t life peculiar?

I’d say so.

Now, I’m not one for self promotion or anything. I don’t promote any accounts that would give away my true identity because, let’s face it, I’m your paranoid Uncle who happens to be a woman who also happens to screech at you if you don’t lock the door behind you when you come in the house. I’m like my Ethics professor: if I catch someone videoing me without my consent, I smash your camera to the floor.

But, in this case, I’ll do a little self-promotion. While I’m working on a couple of projects for a magazine submission and a later Glimmer Train submission, I’d like to announce that I’ve started a Facebook page, separate from my old account I had as a teenager where I spit out pathetic teenage angst to my former friends who replied with equally angsty-type-angst.

I want this page to be separate from my life and I want it to be more of a digital community than a page where someone posts picture of food and other shit no one cares about. In the attempt to stay positive and move forward in my life, I’ve found that helping others stay positive and move forward in their life is a good catalyst for both parties. Therefore I’ll be uploading positive things, quotes, pictures, events, whatever, thoughts for the day, things to give you a quick laugh or the feeling of being hugged through a computer screen and of course everything and anything relevant to mental health. I’ll try not to  be biased towards any specific disorder or issue.

That’s my goal, at least. 

I’m not sure what’s urged me into social media, perhaps I’ve gotten fed with with all the #shitIsaymatterssolistentome campaigns and wanted to start something semi-interesting of my own. Something relevant, something real.

I’m still not a fan of Facebook. I haven’t been on it since I was 14. It’s changed a lot since 2008 hasn’t it?

At any rate, if you’d like to check it out, it’s here. Or better yet, log into Facebook and search “Mental Truths”. The one with the black and white photo. Because, you know me: I fucked up the link I posted in this post. For fucks sake.

Anyway, It’s also anonymous, so if you’re a stalker planning to stalk me, you’re out of luck. Obviously it’s not going to have a lot on it since I barely started it, but I’m hoping to grow it rather rapidly in terms of content.

I’d also like to share another account that was tweeted (fuck, did I just say tweeted?) to me here. He’s an individual with autism who obviously advocates for, well, autism. I’ve checked it out and I think it’s a nice little community of people.

I also have a Writer’s Cafe account, in case you wanted to know. It doesn’t have much on it because I write things and never upload them. I think I should start.

Of course you don’t care. I’ll shut up now.

MentalTruths OUT.

snoop

 

A Better Way To Spend Your Day

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This edit page seems foreign.

That’s how long I’ve been gone.

I’m sporadically posting now and I hate that. I apologize to people who read me who also hate that. With all the stress this new job has caused, I’ve fallen behind on homework and sequentially feel a little depression coming on. Alas, I have strayed from my normal, consistent postings.

But rest assured, I have returned.

And hilarity will ensue.

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That being said, if you enjoy writing, if writing is your love, your life, and if you had to choose between custody of your children and the livelihood of your several novel scrap piles in the back of your closet and you hesitate to choose, chances are you’ve googled “jobs for writers” or “online writing positions” at some point.

If you haven’t, you’re lying.

What I’ve noticed is, if you want to make a quick buck, technical writing is the way to roll. You know, describe this product in the most extraordinary way without being extraordinary (speaking from my brief experience with technical writing, of course). Websites also like those  cheesy “hook, line and sinker” posts that pop up on your news feed telling you “Ten Tips on Loosing Weight Without Diet Or Exercise!” or “15 Reasons Why Kim Kardashian Wouldn’t Like You And Why You Should Even Give A Shit”.

In celebration of those news feed posts everyone hates, I’d like to take a moment, say a blessing for the ignorance of this era, and, of course, do my own version. My own relevant version.

I present to you:

*double bass drum roll please; let’s make this metal as fuck*

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Ten Totally Rad Reasons Your Mental Health Struggle Can Make You A Better Person. 

1)You Have Tangible Experience In A Subject Not Many Do. 

  • You know when you’re sitting in a math group and that one smart ass with his little tea cup thermos cap and his pinkie in the air corrects your work and constantly points out your mistakes and you just want to pour that hot tea on his crotch but you refrain because 1) he’s helping you out and 2) he’s more knowledgeable than you in this subject and you just need to suck it up? Well, now you can get that feeling too for three payments of $65.99. I don’t accept money orders, so have a check ready. If you suffer from a mental health issue you can now be that annoying friend who interjects in conversations correcting people’s language, explaining to them what anxiety or depression or psychosis really means rather than the warped connotations they assign them. That’s a priceless gift.

2) You See The World Differently.

  • Not in a “I’m so special, everyone look at me” kind of way. Let’s not get a bad case of Influyeezy here, we have to be better than the majority of society, remember? I’ll give you an example I’m most familiar with. Being one of anxious tendency, I notice when a moment presents itself in which I should panic, (on coming car, someone jumping out of bushes with a knife, e.t.c,) I don’t. In fact, I can handle myself quite well. Whereas my counter part is gripping onto the car door and hyperventilating or busy getting stabbed.  My body is always in fight or flight mode; it’s the most disadvantaging advantage I’ve ever experienced.10906709116_85d506df91_b

3) You’re More Likely To Empathize With Other’s Mental Health. 

  • If someone walks up to you and says ” I slit my wrists and I think I’m depressed”, your first instinct isn’t going to be “it’s stupid to cut yourself”, your first instinct will probably be something along the lines of “let’s talk for a minute”. You’d probably comment on their bravery for telling you. You’d probably let them know you’re proud they managed to reach out for some help. Because, you see, struggling with your own mental health reduces your level of assholery. It’s a proven scientific study. “10/10 best study by the American Psychiatry Association”–IGN.

4) You Don’t Take For Granted The Good Days.

  • Even when you’re struggling, you try and make an effort to enjoy what you can. You know what it’s like to be consumed by your own personal hell and you know there’s going to come a time when you’re going to struggle again. And you’re able to recognize that’s okay. When something precious comes along, like a naturally good day, you relish in it and perhaps get more enjoyment out of it than the average person. You recognize there will be good days and bad days and horrible days; some people can’t handle that fact. good-days-last

5) You Have A Large Sense Of Yourself Even When You Think You Don’t.

  • After spending such a large amount of time looking inward, and as crazy as it might drive you, it’s more inner experience than most people get in their lifetime. Sure, you might analyze yourself over a mental cliff, but when you finally experience that “ah-ha!” moment about who you are, how you want to live, and you regain your appreciation for life, you’re going to experience it on a much deeper level than your average nine to fiver.

6) Things Touch You On A Heavy Emotional Level.

  • You might see this as a bad thing. But it can be good as well. That one song with the heavy symphony that reminds you of some convoluted, undisclosed sadness on the part of the composer? A tormented life of which no one ever knew the likes of? Yeah, you’re going to choke up a bit. Maybe a lot. Maybe a whole lot. 5946534747_220px_emotions_answer_1_xlarge

7) There’s Never A Dull Moment.

  • Up, down, zig-zag, you name it, you’ll experience it. And you know what? Sometimes I feel that’s better than wasting my life in a cubicle repeating the same old patterns of thought over and over again. As much as I love consistency, I was never fond of a stagnant mind.

8) You’ve Been To Hell And Back . . .  

  • And all you got was this lousy mental disorder. And a blank T-Shirt that’s two sizes too big. You know the definition of struggle and you’re stronger because of it. Even when you feel weak, you’re stronger than most.1

9) You’re Different. 

  • You’re not another Drake or Tyga or Minaj, no, you’re much more talented than that. You’re an Imagine Dragons or an Adele or a Nina Simone. And that’s something to be proud of.

10) You Can Give Back To The Mental Health Community What the Normies Can’t.

  • You can share your experience. You can help others out of their hole, you can relate to them, you can make them feel wanted and needed and understood, three things they may never feel otherwise. You can help change the connotation behind mental disorder, behind anxiety, behind depression or schizophrenia or OCD. Stigma can hurt you, but you rise above it because you know you’re more than a label.

*Normie*: The term a man with Bipolar Disorder shared on an old forum (it doesn’t exist anymore, so don’t ask) and defined as “what those of us with mental health issues call people without mental issues who call us ‘crazies'”. I’ll probably never forget him, his humor was otherworldly.

So there you are. Ten reasons to be proud of who you are, and one more reason to read this blog instead of wasting your life with“The Stunning Miss Universe Winners: Then And Now”. 

#Selfpromotion

Positivity Counts

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If I had the creative ability at the moment I would write an ode to the woman in the black Mercedes with the brain the size of a pinball and an ode to the rehabilitation center with the monotonous workers who only cracked a smile at each other at the sound of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” blasting over the radio, I would.

Alas, I have a headache.

And thinking about them makes the headache worse.

Today I figured I’d focus on ways to stay positive instead of ranting about why I’m so negative, for the sake of my readers and for the sake of myself. Because staying positive, or calm, or content, is not as easy as staying negative.

My above encounters with those people today are two of the main reasons I 1) have a headache and 2) had to coax myself down from more road rage and rage in general and 3) had to find ways to be positive.

I think I singed my hair.

The rage. It seeped out of my pores like molten lava and coated my curls. Now I’m bald.

See kids, that’s what rage does to you. It makes you bald. 

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Today started off with general annoyances I tend to overreact to. I couldn’t find my wallet. I lost my water bottle. I was nervous. I took too long of a shower and had to rush out the door.

Enter bullshit #1: TRAFFIC

  • Cars are the bane of my existence. No, I take that back: people who drive cars are the bane of my existence. I drive a car. I am the bane of my existence. But not as much as these other people. 20 Mph in a 30 zone? Hit the fucking gas pedal you old hag! Some people need to piss in a cup in a nurses office in fifteen minutes! mjaxmy04zdk3ntcwnjg2njuyztuy
  • Tourists are also somehow meandering around town. One woman in a black Mercedes was driving 10 mph in a 25 zone, trying to figure out whether she needed to turn left or right. She hit two right turns before serving back into the street in front of me and deciding to go left. Only, she never put on her blinkers. No, she looked me dead in the fucking eye from her side mirror and veered left without signaling. Looked right at me. Looked at the line of cars behind me. And decided to be a bitch. How do you come to such a conclusion? What kind of faulty wiring do you have in your head? Did a toddler line your neurons with play-dough because you’re acting like a child.59002642

I arrived at Human Resources to take my drug test, which I’ve been preparing for. Since I’m not a chronic marijuana user (once or twice every six months), I just flushed my liver with some water and got all those pesky THC metabolites out of there. I drank some juice before I went in the office so they wouldn’t get suspicious over transparent urine.

I filled out paperwork. I walked down the block and across the street to the nurses office. The results of these really simple urine tests are practically instant. And yet, I had to walk back down the block and back to HR just for the lady to say “you passed.”

Then I had an appointment with a physical therapist for a “back exam”, as required.

They didn’t tell me you had to wear special attire. Which means I had to drive back across town to get home, and then back across town to the physical therapists office.

Enter Bullshit #2: Rehabilitation Center

  • As soon as I stepped in the door a woman looked up from her computer and barked “Photo ID”. I handed her the item. She looked at it and said “you sit down now”. So I sat down. It took her a good five minutes to find me in the computer and scan my license, then walked around the corner and handed it to me. She should have handed me her fucking attitude so I could smash it in the ground instead of her face. 
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  • My appointment was at 1:30pm. I arrived promptly at 1:25. The office was small, there was only one room for physical therapy and a break room and maybe five employees and that’s including the two receptionists. There was an older woman sitting beside me who’d been there before I came. She was falling asleep. I watched those workers walk back and forth about fifty times. I also watched the clock. Which ticked . . . and ticked . . . and ticked . . .
  • I saw the physical therapist at 2:00pm. I saw him so he could tell me to turn my head to left, to the right, upward, to turn my upper body to the left and to the right, and to squat. I then lifted 45 pounds three times. It took three and a half minutes.
  • Three and a half minutes.
  • I waited a half an hour.
  • For three and a half minutes. y4r5xy0sys9ztwbllqbs

Now to some people these kinds of things are just daily stressors. For me, they’re infuriating. I have admitted more than once that I have an anger problem, and I always try and relax before I drive because I know it’s dangerous to speed the way I do, to yell and flip off people the way I do. I’m aware of my behavior and that’s the first step.

I also know I snap at people. I’ve been known to batter certain people with my opinion until they give up, or if someone gives me a “look” I don’t like, I’ll call them out on it. I’ve been known to not give a shit; I will call you stupid. I get into heated arguments over dumb shit and I’ve been notorious for letting said dumb shit ruin my day.

At least I try and realize how I fucking act, instead of miss stuck up little receptionist who probably gets paid 18 dollars an hour to be a straight up bitch. 

So, in general, how do I stay positive?

  1. I always remind myself there are two sides to a situation. Maybe the woman at the Rehab center was having a particularly bad day and didn’t have the self-control to not let her anger boil over onto me. In the same way, even though I had a negative experience at that particular time, the actual physical therapist was insanely kind and his three and a half minutes made up for that woman’s atrocious customer service. If there’s a negative in a situation, there is always a positive; sometimes you just have to look for it.
  2. I remind myself it’s alright to be negative. Obviously in dealing with depression, you develop a certain level of comfort in the negativity. But you never let yourself be “okay” with that negativity. Instead, you just tell yourself there’s something wrong with you, that you’re horrible and that you’re this and that. There’s nothing wrong with being negative just like there’s nothing wrong with being positive. As long as you can develop the tools to never let that negativity consume your soul (which is a life process and easier said than done when living with depression) you’ll find yourself enjoying every human emotion. I hate on myself all the time; you all know I have a history of self harm and other such un-pleasantries. I’m barely learning how to acknowledge those types of thoughts and how to accept them and let them stay there wallowing in their own pile of filth so I can get on with my day.
  3. If I feel myself slipping away, I engage myself in activities that get my brain focused. Sometimes that’s math, sometimes it’s writing, singing, anything to help combat that nagging feeling of falling over the edge. Keeping busy is a good way to combat depression or depressive feelings. It might keep you from falling into that dreaded state of “bed rest”. I’ve been there too many times to let myself get back there without a good fight.
  4. Go outside. I have social anxiety disorder too and I still try and go outside. It sucks, but I do it. In fact I hate it with a passion, but I do it.
  5. I realize positivity isn’t as simple as “being positive”. I think a lot of people wish that were the case. But being positive when you’re so used to feeling negative takes a lot of time and effort. It requires you think differently. It requires you recognize when your negativity is inappropriate, even if you feel like you can’t change it. I’m talking about the people who have such automatic thoughts that when you say something nice to them, they automatically combat it with what’s wrong with them or something else bad. I do that. I used to do it a lot more often, but I realize that the words I was saying weren’t entirely true; they were almost a figment of my imagination. Sometimes it’s hard to see that your mind is playing tricks on you.

I’m sure you all have good ways that work for you so you can share them below if you want. If you can’t think of any . . . well, there’s a good starting point.

What Are Your Goals?

 

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Something’s lurking. I’ve been much too content this last month. It’s like I’m the delicate fawn at the drinking hole and I can feel the lioness crouching in the weeds a half a mile off, waiting, watching, and licking her teeth in anticipation of my floppy fawn flesh on her tongue and my blood dripping down her jaw.

Floppy fawn flesh.

Alliteration phrase of 2016.

Is fawn flesh actually floppy? I suppose it could be. The next time I’m around fawn flesh, I’ll make sure to flop it around and report dutifully back to you all.

Floppy fawn flesh fears fire.

Say that ten times fast.

Tongue Twisters. Most words are tongue twisters to me. If it wasn’t bad enough that the world cherishes extroverts over introverts, they are also much more fascinated and give much more respect to orators than they do writers. Most fantastic writers aren’t recognized for their talent and their intelligence until their death.

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I guess I’ll let my soul be flattered by your recognition while I’m hiding in your fucking closet and haunting your every step.

 

I’m suspecting most people who are different know they’re different. I assumed I was shy until I reached the age of 14 and started researching how I felt–my first real introduction into psychology.

Before that I had my eyes set on Musician’s Institute.

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Then I figured I’d become a millionaire writing a best seller. I’d be the next J.K Rowling in the realistic fiction section. The next Fyodor Dostoevsky. The next Mark Twain.

Then I wanted to study theoretical physics and philosophy.

But as a teenager I identified strongly with social anxiety disorder. I spent a few days crying over it then wondered what other disorders were out there.

Where would I be today without that one moment in time? Studying theoretical physics, probably. Or producing music at Musician’s Institute.

I learned I have something different to give back to the world. That’s kept me from many breakdowns and it’s why I say it’s important to have goals in your life. I learned I have an external family, all of you who deal with their mental health, whether it be mild or “severe”, and that means I belong somewhere.

How did I get interested in psychiatry? It’s not because I’m a smarty pants, it’s not because I’ve had to take care of my alcoholic father like he was one of my patients instead of being a kid.

I read a book called Brain Disabling Treatment In Psychiatry.

Can you guess what it’s about?

51v59e07qel-_sx329_bo1204203200_I read it at 15 before I understood the scope of the overlap between mental disorders, environment, neurology, and biology. Obviously it’s a book with a very strong opinion, and he had many facts to back up his argument just as those pro-psychoactive drugs have many facts to back up their strong opinions.

I got interested in psychiatry because I saw the disconnect between humanity and medical treatment caused by the introduction of business into the industry. You don’t see doctors poppin’ their new drugs to see their effects like we saw with the man who discovered the possible benefits of lithium. Now you see the same drugs being reproduced with a different name for a higher price and available only on certain insurance plans.

Quickly I learned it’s not the drugs’ fault, nor the people who take them, it’s the people who sell it. 

Some people don’t have the luxury to just stop taking medication like me. Those people can be taken advantage of easily and find themselves either drug hopping from pill to pill with no relief and no explanation for why, further inducing their sense of hopelessness which could, in turn, exacerbate depression and low self-esteem, and spark the idea in a doctor’s head to prescribe even more. Or they find themselves on four or five or six (or more) different medications, many of which they might not need.

That’s why I’m interested in psychiatry. People whose rationality gets disrupted don’t always have the cognitive ability to choose how their treatment goes. I want to be that one trustworthy person they can come to who they know won’t ever feed them lies or misuse them.

Psychiatry to me isn’t about “oh heh, you get to dish drugs, hurr hurr derp”. It’s about being a doctor. If you think doctors are good for dishing drugs, than you see the issue I’m stressing.

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I haven’t decided whether I want to do adolescent psychiatry or not, but I’m leaning towards it. Children and teens can be taken advantage of even easier because their parents are in such a desperate state of mind. They need someone who isn’t going to take the easy way out. They need someone who looks at their child’s behavior as a family unit, not someone who blames the child’s chemistry, not initially at least.

There are children like Jani Schofield who are different. I’ve been following her story since she was 6. Her parents are getting divorced now, right? Or are they already?

Then there are children who aren’t like Jani and get diagnosed with something when really they just need someone to talk to or their parents to stop letting them play on an Iphone, a tablet, and a laptop 24/7.

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This fact keeps me pushing through each semester. I think about it whenever my anxiety and depression tells me to quit, whenever it keeps me up night after night. I think about it whenever I have a panic attack or feel the urge to self-harm again resurfaces, whenever I rage or my mood gets confusing, whenever I get the urge to attempt suicide or whenever the little people in my head tell me I’m worthless and everyone hates me.

I hesitate to say “voices” for obvious reasons. Besides the hypnagogic hallucinations, I’ve only ever heard voices once. That was during a deep depression. If you’ve been depressed, you’re probably familiar with your brain expressing how worthless you are, but you might not be familiar with other voices, other people , external from yourself and rather loud, telling you that you are. You might not be familiar with them telling you to kill yourself or hurt yourself. I can’t remember a lot. I can remember their voices and I can remember feeling confused, but I don’t remember the moments before I heard them or when I snapped out of it. I can’t remember how long it lasted. I just remember being confused.

The only other hallucinations I’ve experienced were olfactory in nature: smelling wood smoke in the shower water.

Through all my experiences, I’ve learned mental “disorders” overlap quite a bit. I learned environment chips in. I learned genes chip in. I learned biochemistry chips in (not to the extent you’re told about) and I learned thought patterns chip in.

I learned we don’t know as much about the brain as we think.

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I learned a lot of research is biased and I learned a lot of what is published is biased. I learned some of it isn’t biased. I learned it’s hard to tell between the two.

I learned there are good psychiatrists and bad psychiatrists. I learned some people do well with medication and others don’t.

I learned the brain is as unique as a finger print and deduced the wide-spread idea that mental “disorders” are due solely to a chemical imbalance is about as accurate as my hand being my foot and about as creative as this painting:

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Green White By Ellsworth Kelly. Sold For 1.6 Million Dollars

 

 

The Negative Side

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Life is hard. 

Addiction is hard. 

Learning Python without a guide is hard.

Bloodborne is hard. 

Window shopping is hard. 

Walking into Bath and Body Works without being stalked and assaulted by staff with blue bags is hard. 

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Don’t Let Their Smiling Faces Fool You

#FirstWorldProblems. 

This might sound crazy, but I’m thankful every day (I do honestly think about it every day) I’ve never experienced famine to the degree others must. I’m thankful I’ve never had to be a child armed with guns, that I’ve never been a slave in a sweat shop (#Nike, Gap, and all the rest of ’em), that I have no serious physical health problems as of yet, that my parents hasn’t kicked me out of the house yet, that the tradition of my family isn’t to burn my chest flat at the first signs of puberty, that I have the ability to be who I want, how I want, and live life without worrying about being stoned for wearing a T-shirt or refusing a forced marriage.

But one thing that I’ve noticed about many inspirational people who have lived through such things and have developed into a positive influence across the globe, or at least a positive influence to someone or to themselves, is that they often attribute their past to the positive experiences now in their present. 

That’s a hard thing to do for a lot of us.

I’m not much into daytime drama shows but sometimes when I’m feeling spectacularly frisky, and perhaps a bit dull in the brain, I skim through some on YouTube and listen to ingrates screech at the top of their lungs and have a crowd of people laugh or boo at them.

It’s a way to fulfill my human urge to be a part of drama without actually going through the heavy social process of getting involved in it.

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Some young man was on a show telling about his childhood in which his mother supposedly ignored him, picked her drug addict boyfriend over him, didn’t feed him or take care of him, gave him up to social services, and then when he came back as a young adult, kicked him out of the house after she stole all the money he’d saved up. At the present moment he was homeless living in a tent getting food and money from one of his siblings. Regardless of the validity of his story (which mucked up the majority of the thirty minutes), his mother finally admitted that she did many, many things wrong. He hardly accepted her apology in the moment. He continued to rub in her face that she was the reason he was the way he was and blamed her for his depression.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I had a turbulent childhood. Lots of addiction, violence, mental/emotional abuse, homelessness, poverty, and for most of my life I’ve been a survivor. I had to grow up when most kids were barely discovering the fun of sleepovers. I remember having social anxiety in kindergarten because I knew I was different from others and I remember developing depression, rage, and mood issues by the time I was 10. At fifteen I became a caregiver by default for an addict and still am. There are a lot of things I remember and many of them I can contribute to the way I am today.

Who wouldn’t?

The host of the show, who’d been on the young man’s side until that point, told him his statements were valid and invalid. The things that “made him” indeed happened, but he wasn’t taking personal responsibility for his rage and violence towards his mother, nor his own life.

I’ve seen a lot of people write about the horrors of their past and how they wish it would go away. They blame people and incidents and they say “if this wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t be on this” or “doing this” or “with this person”.

man with dummyBut how mature is that attitude? What makes them think blaming a person or a thing will solve their depression or their melancholy? If anything, it serves as an excuse not to do the work needed to get out of the pain and the mental hole they’re in.

I think it’s always good to understand how the past represents the present. In fact, I think it’s pertinent for those of us who have traumatic pasts that contribute to our mental health. But once we develop into our own person, once we can understand that who made us, how they made us, and why they made us doesn’t have as much power over our future as we have over our future, only then have we developed a healthy thought pattern, only then can we make a dent in our depression or our anxiety or any other mental health issue.

The blame game is something children play when they want to steer clear of conflict and ownership. It is a measure of avoidance, a maladaptive behavior and pattern that, in adults, often comes with being consumed by negativity and humanity.

We’ve all blamed someone for something once.

Blame is sly partners with denial, too. Some of us refuse to believe we do it.

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I Acknowledge I Am

We focus strongly on the negative because it’s a genuine constant and therefore a genuine comfort. There will always be negativity and new reasons to consider yourself worthless or useless. Sometimes there seems to be no reason at all. But for the times there are reasons, for the times you do feel your mind wander into a flooded playground of negativity, for the times when you realize “wow, I’m being really negative today” (if you don’t notice that yet, that’s the first step), ask yourself why when a negative thoughts hits or something negative happens, you put all your attention and energy into it, but when a positive thought hits or something positive happens, you don’t give it nearly as much validation. Sometimes you look for the negative in it. Sometimes you even remind yourself “this won’t last long”.

Next time something positive happens, meditate in the moment. Take advantage of it. Let it fill you up and if your train of thought reverts into the negative, let it pass through. Sure, maybe your happiness won’t last long, but nothing in life is absolute or permanent, perhaps not even death. Depression has it’s own form of anxiety: worrying about the next time you’re going to fall into a hole. It’s the same as me worrying about embarrassing myself in front of my supervisors in a job I don’t even have yet.

job-search22I choose to be excited about this job opportunity. I’m going to worry, I know that. I’m going to be awkward, I know that. The first few days will be hell, I know that. I know I’m going to need stress management techniques, I know that. If I know all that, what’s the point of worrying?

Strength isn’t just about living through abhorrent situations and coming out physically alive, it’s about extracting the positive from the most bottomless and abysmal darkness.

Mental health issues aren’t just about having a mental disorder and being a patient for a doctor, it’s not about being a statistic for some obscure health statistician or a customer for a pharmaceutical company, it’s about coping and living and realizing you have a future just the same as anyone else no matter the obstacle.

Perhaps half of the people who read this won’t believe it. They might even think “your issues just aren’t severe enough to incapacitate you”.

To those people I say: try me. I’ve been to hell and back and every once in a while I purchase an Amtrak ticket and visit accidentally. These are words coming from someone who understands how hot the flames are in hell and who has come out scorched and scabbed over and still determined.

I’m not trying to act like developing a positive outlook is easy when dealing with mental health issues. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried. But i’m a firm believer my long-time coming acceptance of my quirkiness and . . . shall I say, uniqueness, is the reason I can say these words today.

Therefore, take these words how you will. I’ll continue to keep after my goals and make something of myself.

The Promiseland

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How/where would I be if I did not tussle with my mental health?

It’s a question I’m sure many of us have asked ourselves.

What kind of job would I work if I could hold a job?

What kind of people would I meet if I understood conversation?

What activities would I take part in during the day if I weren’t spending the majority of my effort swinging my feet to the floor and getting into the shower in the midst of negative thoughts?

How many more classes would I be done with if my social anxiety didn’t take the reins on my decisions?

For all the days I wasted with suicidal ideation and self-harming, would those days have been replaced with something positive?

How much sleep would I get without health anxiety, paranoia, and intrusive thoughts?

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I think those are relevant questions for many of us, regardless of diagnosis differences. 

Whenever I start pitying myself, these are the types of questions that swirl in my consciousness, and although they appear to be questions which harbor negative answers and negative ideation, I’m a logical mind highly capable of understanding there are two sides to everything. If there is a negative answer to a question, there is also a positive answer.

If there is a north pole, there is a south pole.

If the sun rises, it’s also going to set.

If you die in a video game, your life will restart. Don’t believe me? Play Bloodborne and rage your life away.

One person’s death may spark life in another.

90% of the situations I can bring to my consciousness at the moment have their positive and negative opposites because life is about balance. We ride the plank high and low and trample over each other in attempts to get as close to the center as possible.

how_to_balance-600x337You’re never going to reach a perfect center; it’s not logical. Our physical life is much too randomized for you to be in perfect harmony 100% of the time. I accepted that many years ago. It teaches you to cherish the moments in which harmony and happiness do exist, but to not cherish it in a way that indicates you’ll never feel those feelings again. Life has a haphazard way of imitating circular patterns and yet veering off at the most inconvenient times into the unknown. It’s like it watches your every move and plans a silent attack.

The harrowing thing about depression, anxiety, and many other unbalanced responses to the world are that they are both necessary and disabling.

The brain is a prime example of the center of a beam. It thrives on balance and moderation. If your electrical activity flies off the handle, you very well may end up with a seizure.

It adapts to new situations. If you’re a cab driver, your hippocampus will shrink in the front and grow larger in the back to hold street and navigation memory.

It has little hiccups though, it’s not entirely centered. Nothing can be, remember? You can hear voices without ever having Schizophrenia. You can feel immense sadness for a few months and never develop a depressive disorder. You can have bad mood swings that aren’t indicative of a Bipolar disorder or Borderline PD.

self-evaluationmarking-set-of-three-faces-stamper-with-storage-box-classmatesWhat are mental health disorders? They’re not solely chemical imbalances. They’re not brain abnormalities. They’re not a reason to hate yourself. They may be disorders–because we label them as such–but they are also  unbalanced humanity. Many of them are normal reactions to simply existing as living beings, and we label them abnormal because the reactions are either above the average person’s reaction level, or below.

I can remember feeling anxiety and uncomfortable outside or around loud noises the strongest around the age of 4, or 5, so although I’m only 20, I’ve dealt with it for many years and I’ve had the opportunity to attend mental health conventions with professionals and interact in other settings with people who label themselves sick, who label themselves broken, who label themselves “uncurable”.

And I decided years ago I don’t want to be one of those people. What am I going to cure? My humanity? How the fuck am I going to do that?

My anxiety wasn’t solely birthed through some trauma or bullying as a child, like it is for many, mine was just there. And the further I coursed through life, the more the symptoms accentuated and tuned me to the frequency of the wreck I am today. While most people get nervous doing, say, a public speaking event, and they sweat and practice for hours in front of the mirror, I’m worrying of it a year before I have to do it.

I did that my freshman year in high school over a two minute presentation we were told we wouldn’t have to worry about until the end of the year.

38f7b400-47f4-0133-0a83-0e76e5725d9dI’ll ruminate over what could happen and will happen and when I get in front of people my Amygdala is “hijacked” and I forget every word I also spent hours practicing for. I read into the expressions of the people around me and see pure hatred and disrespect, negativity, I see it plain as day, even though it’s not there. It’s like a hallucination: only I can see it and when I ask other people if it’s there, they say no and look at me like I just tore up a winning jackpot lottery ticket. Then I spend years reminding myself how stupid I looked and sounded and how many people still laugh about it every day.

That is a normal response accentuated. That is this “disorder”.

I understand fully the breakthroughs of neuroscience and research psychiatry, I’m all over those articles the second they come out in the journals. And I understand there is a lot of validity behind chemical changes and differences. My problem is with categorizing a myriad of humanly differences into one, abnormal category. My problem is with soley blaming our chemicals, our bodies, for symptoms of something we call “disorders” when in reality life is full of reasons for why people act the way they do. Yes, medication helps even out those who jump between the severely manic and severely depressed. But don’t forget Cognitive Therapy helps them learn their triggers and how to cope with stress; how you think influences your behavior, whether you’re disordered or not.

Genes play a part. Chemicals play a part. Cells play a part. Environment plays a part. Society and Religion plays a part. Why do you think people in certain places of India hear voices that recite positive words day after day, have voices that claim they are “God” who tell them “hey, good job on that” and here in the western part of the world, voices heard often much more violent?

Our brains respond heavily to the environment we’re in, regardless of genes or predisposition. I wish I had the source of that article, but it’s been a few years since I’ve read it.

If you’re wondering, yes, I do think many (NOT ALL) people are misdiagnosed and I think many disorders being added to the DSM year after year are starting to diagnose normality. 

It’s pretty arrogant, if you ask me, to think something as complicated as human behavior can be summed up with one or two neurotransmitters.

So when I start asking myself those questions from the beginning, I remind myself that part of my “disorders” are just me being human. Yes, I struggle, yes my functioning is impaired by them, yes it’s horrible, yes, blah, blah blah, whatever!

I like myself. I like my personality and I can’t keep comparing my lives to other people’s.

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It meant the world to me that my boyfriend today acknowledged the fact that it’s okay that I have my anxiety (among other, ha, issues) and that he can see I’m making progress, however small, and that it’s not easy. No one’s ever said something like that to me and for a moment I was in shock. I didn’t actually realize the depths of his words until a few hours ago.

I know I’m not perfect (who is, right?). I know I have things I want to work on and I know I have a personal goal to reach. I know I’m not sick, or stupid, or held back by anyone but myself. So honestly, I don’t care what kind of job I’d have if I didn’t struggle as much as I do. I don’t care who I’d meet or where I’d be, or how fast I’d get through my classes. None of that matters because hypotheticals are useless. I only care who I do meet, what classes I do take, and what kind of job I’ll eventually have.

I could give two shits less about my non-existent twin. She can go be extroverted and whiz through university and work at amazing places by herself. I like where I am and what I’m learning.

Give It A Pat

If you are still recovering from a stressful holiday season, pat yourself on the back.

If you had a bad day at work today, pat yourself on the back.

If you’ve been arguing with your brain all day like I have, pat yourself on the back.

If you’ve been struggling with negativity, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re a recovering addict and you’ve been struggling with that recovery extra hard lately, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re a rageaholic who managed to not yell at that stupid piece of shit fucker that cut you off in traffic today . . . definitely pat yourself on the back. And maybe drink some tea. And do some Tai Chi.

If you’ve been feeling hopeless but you’ve been pushing onward, pat yourself on the back.

If you’ve been working on yourself and your life, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re doing well for yourself and happy for once in your life, you can pat yourself on the back too.

If you don’t feel like you have a reason to pat yourself on the back, do it anyway. You deserve it.

Greater Than A Label And Smarter Than One Too

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I received messages from people yesterday who were shocked that I wasn’t celebrating New Years, that I didn’t go to a party or celebrate 12:00am by screaming, hugging people, and saying Happy New Year to everyone I came across.

I responded with shock at their shock. This was one of the best New Years Eve’s I’ve had in a long while. And I spent the majority of it alone. 

 

2015 was not a satisfying year. Probably because I can’t remember half of it.

I forget a lot, remember?

I don’t know what 2016 will be like. Prediction is not a science. Science isn’t even good at being science half the time, so if prediction was science it would be one and a half times worse than science originally was. Like my bullshit numbers there? It’s okay, just breathe, your brain will recover from my awesomeness in a moment.

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Recovered? Good.

2015 unearthed a lot of issues in America we’ve left swept under the rug. Racism is the big one. Healthcare is another. Mental healthcare and mental health is right up there with them. All those shooters, all the stigma, all the panic, all the politicians sticking their little rat noses into business that isn’t theirs to control, issues they don’t even understand. The day a neuroscientist runs for presidency without the slightest bit of knowledge of politics is the day we need to rethink our healthcare system in this country. The day money dictates the kind of mental health treatment you get is the day we need to rethink our entire lives as human beings.

Oh, what’s that? Hold on, I’m getting some word from my producers right now. We . . . we have all that already? Hmm. Well . . . shit. 

Then we need to rethink the entirety of our lives.

That’s a lot to process and it’ll never happen, so let’s just rethink the healthcare system for starters.

 

If 2015 unearthed all this, 2016 better come along and flip it to the top of the soil before it gets buried again.

I believe one of the major issues we’re having in this country is lack of involvement.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaauhaaaajgy4mte4ntizlwjkmtutndk2oc04mzbmlwzknmqynjlizwyzmgI think that’s one of the major reasons people like Alex Gorsky a.k.a “America’s most admired Law Breaker” got awarded that “man of integrity” bullshit in September. You all remember him right? Responsible for the marketing scheme of Risperdal? The one who snuck through FDA loopholes to get Risperdal marketed to children and elders? The C.E.O of Johnson and Johnson? The one who got caught and had to pay back 2 billion dollars as “punishment”? The one whose team wanted to put lollipops and candy in “trial” packages of Risperdal for kids? The one I had so much fun talking shit about here and the one who is described in a little more proper detail by The New York Times here?

There’s a prime example of the main issue not being the drug, but a corporation embracing their typical sociopathic selves. 

I could never write articles on people like that for big time news websites. How are those writers able to keep their composure? I’d have to slander some names and point out some stupidity with harsh sarcasm. That’s how my brain operates.

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People learn from the emotions they feel, from their reactions. If I get a disgusted feeling or a laugh or some anger out of someone, they’re more likely to remember the subject than if I just rambled off some facts like a school girl know it all.

People like Gorsky get away with things because citizens like us are misinformed and uneducated.

It’s why there are published articles about how published research findings are often false. Don’t believe me? Read it here.

It’s why the figure of speech known as “chemical imbalance” has been so widely accepted as a proper way to describe a mental disorder. Hey, I didn’t come up with that on my own, that’s from Harvard Med.

I also agree that “much of the general public seems to have accepted the chemical imbalance hypothesis uncritically”.

trust-me-doc It’s all accepted because people often don’t take charge of their own recovery. Obviously some need more help than others and obviously some respond to certain kinds of treatment better than others–there’s never a black and white, the entire world is a grey area. Everyone is different.

That’s not an excuse to be completely clueless. 

If you’re going to do anything in 2016, get involved. Don’t just be part of your own mental health recovery, advocate for others as well, and that means becoming active in your recovery. That means learning a little more about psychology and the psychological system and not letting those rude doctors we’ve all come across at some point drop bombs in your lap like you’re some disordered freak.

Reevaluate what an “illness” is to you. Reevaluate what a “disorder” or “brain disease” is to you. I know quite a bit about depression from experience and from schooling knowledge and I’ll tell you one fucking thing it isn’t: disease. So if people could kindly stop saying that, it would really, really drop my blood pressure a few points.

stop-being-ashamedStigma is a good way of keeping us ashamed of ourselves. You probably don’t feel comfortable blurting a diagnosis in your work place or to certain friends or maybe even to family members. But remember, your diagnosis is only as harmful as you let it be. A word is a word. It’s up to others to see you differently because of it. And if they do . . . Will. That. Kill. You? Be logical here. Is it Ebola? 

When we cower in the shadows behind what other people tell us we are, when we let ourselves be drowned out by several different labels–talking about the people who say “yeah, I’ve got ADHD, depression, Bipolar 2, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Borderline Personality, Narcissistic tendencies, and Schizoid tendencies”–our recovery will be inexplicably harder.

I didn’t make that diagnosis up by the way, I’ve talked with people who gave me that exact line up. It confused me greatly.

You must have one interesting psychologist or psychiatrist to give you that many diagnoses. Or many.

Or your self-diagnosing.

I’m a psych student with a copy of the DSM-V and a lot of criterion memorized. By that account, I’m more qualified than the average citizen to diagnose myself. But I don’t.

4c128dd9169c5db3c7dcf90905137ae4Feeding the thoughts of being “sick” and “ill” and having something “Wrong” with you because you struggle with your mental health is called “self-stigmatizing”. Believe it or not, that contributes to public stigmatizing too–you’re acting exactly how they expect you to.

Meanwhile, Gorsky is up in his Country Club Prison suite rolling in the rest of his billions of dollars and jacking it to pictures of kids with Risperdal lollipops in their hands and uncontrollable drool dripping from their mouths.

Why do I focus on the negative things?

Why not? Why should I focus on the positive things?

Those things are already positive, they don’t need to be changed or rearranged; they’re good how they are.

If your right leg is broken, you want me to examine your left leg? Want me to put a cast on it and send you out the door?

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Focusing on the positive things in your life to make you hopeful? Good.

Focusing on the positive things in the industry to distract you from the major areas that are cracked and going to hell? Bad.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, these are things you need to know about it because you’re involved in it.

We have the power to walk into a doctor’s office and demand the treatment we want.

We have the right to be educated.

We have the right to be seen in better light.

We have the right to never be ashamed to mention “oh yeah, I suffer from depression” or anxiety, or anorexia, or bipolar, or schizophrenia, or “covert narcissistic tendencies with a hint of borderline” if you really want to fucking get that technical. 

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We have the right to be informed mental disorders are much more complicated than a “chemical imbalance”.

We have the right to be informed mental disorders are much more complicated than merely “psychological factors”.

We have the right to be informed on other treatment options with as much emphasis as is given to medication treatment options.

We are not merely test subjects. We’re also human. Be truthful to us. Say, “this drug works on serotonin and a few studies involving about twenty people, some of whom dropped out because of side effects, showed significant improvement”.

We have the right to depend on medication if we need to without being seen in a negative light.

We have the right to stand up for ourselves.

We’re not sick or abnormal or ill or disordered or diseased or incapable of anything. We’re not a label or a diagnostic criteria. We struggle and we survive just like every person, plant, or organism does on this planet.

We’re unique, we’re individual, but we’re not so different from everyone else.

This year make strides in your own life to improve your mental health and the world’s mental health. Misconceptions will be the death of us all.