I hate Kanye, He’s Awesome

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

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

Whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

Then, the big controversy comes: the meds.

I figured his opinion wouldn’t be very popular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Rant A Day Keeps the Psychiatrist Away

Must. Vent.

Ass. Hurts. From. Sitting. But. Must. Belt. Out. This. Post.

My last post consisted of my complaining about something or other, a career or whatever, abandoning my people, becoming a no-good-foul-traitor, but all of those worries have been eradicated. I will be pursuing another degree in physics while simultaneously keeping my connections to the mental health community by remaining employed as a peer counselor, participating in trainings, and eventually getting involved with NAMI: In Your Own Voice. So, all that complaining I did in the last post? Yeah, ignore that, I figured it out.

This post is a different kind of complaining. This post is more . . . hmm, what’s the word?

Seriously, what’s the word? How about you read the post and then tell me in the comments a word that sums all this shit up.

It’s been . . . five months? Six months off medication? I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been. I haven’t heard any variation of voices since the night I tried to kill myself (a post about that wonderful experience here) and my mood has been relatively–relatively–stable.

I feel like I need to re-customize this blog. The fact that the titles of the post don’t show up on the homepage literally makes me want to kick a bird.

I would never do that, I love animals.

I do this with my cat on the daily, and 99% of the time she fucking hates it

And this is the type of energy I’ve had since I quit those godawful medications. A warning to anyone attempting the Trintellix route: BE CAREFUL. It’s very understudied, still very new in terms of psychiatric medications go, and it fucked me up when I got off of it. My blood would have been on that companies’ hands.

I did have a bit of a breakdown yesterday, the first major one in five months, and that’s what’s prompting me to write this post. Just when you think you’re through the thickest part of the forest, you turn west and an abundance of pine trees cover your path in thicket.

While writing a different post for a different blog, I recounted my childhood in relation to school, specifically math classes. And while writing I got this overwhelming sensation, this bombardment of pain, a deep pain, a subconscious pain, one my conscious mind couldn’t comprehend. I couldn’t type anymore, the words were so muddied it felt like every sentence sounded like jumbled shit.

I couldn’t identify any other emotion besides pain. I couldn’t recount what kind of pain it was. I was sad, hurt, frustrated, confused–it felt like I was one of those Russian dolls that have smaller dolls hidden inside of it, and one of the smaller dolls was screaming in agony while simultaneously being burned alive, raped, and verbally accosted.

I’m sorry for that picture, but that’s the depth of the pain.

School is generally shit for most people. Very rarely have I met a person who said: “I liked everything about every year of my school and I don’t have one embarrassing or bad memory related to it”. If you are one of those people, comment or email me, because I want to hear your story.

But school wasn’t that horrible for me. I didn’t talk, suffered through Selective Mutism for a while, then paralyzing anxiety. I had trouble making friends, I was shit in math, and I was an outcast. No one really bullied me because I was tall, athletic, and hung out with kids who brought tasers and drugs to school. Home life was hard: surrounded by domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, emotional torment. And while I recognize all of that as a sort of systematic trauma, I thought for sure my awareness of it would cut down on the effect it has on me. Apparently I was wrong.

There must be some memory–or memories–of which I’ve either repressed or I just ignore and refuse to explore because there is an inner child, an inner part of me, that is consistently crying, screaming, cowering. It never stops. And sometimes there’s a “trigger” that ignites this part of me, like writing about my childhood.

A therapist I had at the Outpatient group I attended insisted I get in touch with my inner child but the closer I got to speaking with her the more distant and dissociated I became. That was another catalyst for that wonderful get-in-the-tub-and-kill-yourself incident you can read about in the above linked post.

Another trigger for me is when teachers say “Alright, we’re going to do an activity today” or “We’ll do something fun today”. The word “activity” alone sparks my fight and flight response whether it’s at a team meeting at work or a class or a workshop or a training. Or, when people say “you’re so quiet.” Even when they mean it in a good way.

Speaking of training, I have a three hour one on Wednesday of which has been really fucking with my head. I don’t do well around large groups of people and if I’m forced to do a role play in front of even five people I will spontaneously combust. I will.

I’m scared to touch my inner child with a ten foot pole because it seems like a volatile, unstable, nuclear ball of energy. I know I need to do it in order to properly heal, but I haven’t found anyone who can help me through that process yet. The last therapist I had who I paid for not only discounted my job and my skills, but insisted I get a second job even through I was curling on her couch crying my eyes out every session. I could barely hold my head up, and she wanted me to push myself harder.

I’m done with those kind of people in my life. Sometimes it’s not about pushing through the hard stuff, sometimes it’s about holding the hard stuff.

It feels good to post on here again, a real post. Not a whiny, woe-as-me post, but a thoughtful, reflective rant.

The word to sum up this post: Fuck.

The Opiate Crisis: An Ethical Dilemma

How dare they. How fucking DARE they. Prepare for the rant of a lifetime.

I know. I know what you’re thinking.

“Didn’t you just post something saying you weren’t going to post on this website anymore?”

And in fact, you would be correct. But this, folks, THIS requires publication on a site that is relevant towards mental health because those of us who are apart of this marginalized community are being targeted once again. And quite ruthlessly. And have been since the beginning of this pathetic scapegoat of a problem called the “Opiate Crisis.”

Let me clarify: the crisis is indeed real. It is authentic and it is terrifying. People are dying. Children are dying. Mothers are dying. Fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, are dying. Fentanyl is being mixed with Heroin. Doctors are standing on the roof tops of their clinics tossing bottles of 60 Oxycodone pills to whoever cares to play catcher.

Why do I call the opiate crisis a pathetic scapegoat? For one reason and one reason only: it’s distracting us from the true perpetrators of the crisis in the first place. Those of you who have followed this website for the past four years, and specifically the last two years, know where this is fucking going.

*Knock knock* Big Pharma? Big Pharma! Hey, it’s me, open up. We have to talk.*Cocks shotgun*

I just finished watching a clip of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (who I think is such a brilliant replacement for Stephan Colbert, who I also loved) where Trevor mentions Trump’s claims that Mexico is to blame for all the drugs and crime coming into America. I didn’t care about Trump’s words, I’m used to him saying unfounded statements. What I cared about was what came next.

Trevor describes a doctor, one Barry Shultz I believe his name was, who managed to dispense 800,000 opiate tablets over a period of 16 months to his patients from the pharmacy in his clinic, some of which were prescribed with 60 Oxycodone a day. He justified this by stating “Sixty a day is a large number, I admit. But, if it’s taken properly–”

The reporter asks how to take 60 Oxycodone a day properly. The doctor replied, “some people need that dose”.

No. Some people don’t need that dose. What YOU need is that check you receive from the pharmaceutical companies for pushing their product.

Then, came the claims I was waiting for. Then, came the pharmaceutical companies which were caught falsifying information and bribing doctors; if these five specific doctors chose to push a specific Fentanyl spray they, combined, were awarded over 800,00 dollars, treated to lavish dinners, and granted access to specialized strip clubs. That was Insys theraputics. Purdue Pharmaceutical was sued by their state under the grounds that they were personally responsible for launching the opiate crisis. I don’t know how truthful that claim can be, but the company did admit (in 2007) that they had purposefully misled doctors and consumers on the truth of their opiate’s addictive properties.

The company chose to create a strategy to get the feds off their back. In an email from 2001, chairman Richard Sackler, stated quaintly: “We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”

Well. Look who’s calling the fucking kettle black. “Reckless criminals.” And what the fuck are you, mister former Purdue Pharmaceutical chairman? A saint? A fucking angel? What a sack of shit.

This is a game people, a game of chess, and innocent human lives are the betting agent.

This doesn’t just happen with opiates, it happens with psychiatric medication too–lying about efficacy, pushing doctors to diagnoses specific conditions to prescribe certain medications, insurance companies refusing to pay for therapy unless a client is diagnosed and medicated. I mean, the history of Johnson and Johnson C.E.O Alex Gorsky says it all. I will forever fucking bash his name.

People seem to forget the history of what is slowly becoming the least dangerous of all opiates: heroin. People seem to forget that morphine, derived from an opiate substance, was also once killing people (and still is) on an astronautical level due to its addictive properties. People seem to forget that a chemist then synthesized heroin, a very pure heroin, and a pharmaceutical company pounced on it. That synthesized pure heroin was advertised as an alternative to morphine that was not addictive.

Little did they know, right?

Cocaine in the united state was processed in a similar fashion. Most street drugs that don’t include a plethora of battery acid and other ridiculous chemicals, street drugs that are derived in some form from a plant, were often first in the hand of pharmaceutical giants. That’s how the public got their hands on it. Why do you think the idea of legalized marijuana is terrifying? I’m not sure how someone could fuck up marijuana, but leave it to people like Alex Gorsky and Richard Sackler and I’m sure they’ll find a way.

My point is that the opiate crisis is not the addicts fault. It’s not the drug’s fault. It’s not even the doctor’s who relinquish their will and fall ill to the temptation of strippers and hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s the company which lies, which manipulates, and which dictates these disgusting actions.

This isn’t an opiate crisis. It’s an ethical crisis. It’s a philosophical, moral crisis.

Change my mind.

Comfort

I’m not quite sure how I feel today. My psychiatrist asked me how things were going, how my mood was, and I said neutral. I’m not depressed, I’m not joyful, I just am. I feel like I’m in the mode of just existing again. I know it’s the medication.

I also notice a lot of loneliness creeping in. When I’m home at night by myself, at least. It’s as if I constantly need to be around people, and I’m not a people person. In fact, people wear me down too quickly. I dissociate and distance myself from them. But lately I’ve been needing to be around good company, constantly, as if I’m distracting myself from something.

That’s what it feels like. As if all the old emotions that are being brought up in therapy for the first time are riding the waves and the tide is bringing them onto shore. Only the shore is not equipped to handle these kinds of wave breaks, nor what the waves drag in.

I feel that I’m having to relearn who I am, what I believe in, and a good friend pointed out to me that after such a fall, it’s like starting a new relationship with yourself. And in starting a new relationship you need patience, kindness, compassion, and many other things I need to learn to show to myself.

This is going to be a short post today. I just don’t feel like writing about myself tonight, or anyone else for that matter. I miss bits and pieces of the life I had before the psychosis. I miss the old relationship I had with myself, even though the old relationship I had with myself wasn’t healthy. But it was comfortable. And that’s the painful part: losing that comfort.

And that’s today’s mental truth.

 

The MMJ Journal, Pt. 1

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the Sativa talking.

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

Murder-Suicide Close To Home

I’ll catch up on the challenge post tomorrow. There is something I feel that needs to be said that has a little more priority, simply because of the context.

The town in which I live is relatively small. Tourists come from wherever they come from (hell, I think), and there are about four or five different . . . regions? I don’t know what to call them. I live in an unincorporated area of the town, but I’m still part of the town. That makes sense.

There was one man who parked his truck in the cliffs a while back. I guess the police had been informed he was feeling the need to end his life and before they got to him, he’d shot himself through the temple. I have no clue if the police knew where he was or not. This was maybe five minutes from my house, and probably a few months before or after (I can’t remember) some other guy was running around swimming in the nasty lagoon with a gun trying to hide from the cops. I don’t think he could hold his breath or stand the stench long enough to NOT get caught, because he got caught.

Yesterday there was a shooting at the mall about ten minutes from my house. A woman, her husband, and daughter had been shopping at the mall earlier in the afternoon, and now the woman called the police about her husband making “suicidal threats”–he was still at the mall with their daughter. I don’t know if the woman had left or not, the story is still rocky.

Regardless, the police didn’t make it, and I guess mall security isn’t trained and/or wasn’t notified, because the man shot himself and his daughter in the back of their Kia Soul in the middle of the parking lot. The girl was 8 years old. They both died in the car.

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Crime scene investigators survey the Capitola Mall parking lot Sunday, where a man killed himself and his 8-year-old daughter. (Stephen de Ropp — Contributed).

I’m not going to blame anyone here for anything. People can nitpick at the speed of the cops/security, they can nitpick at the man’s wife, and most likely they’ll nitpick at the man too. But the truth is, we’ll never really know why this man shot himself and his daughter or if anything preemptive could have been done.

Instead of blasting suicide hotlines at you, I think this is a perfect opportunity to remind everyone how hidden these feelings can be, and how serious the consequences are when they’re hidden for too long. People can blame it on “mental illness” or whatever you want to call it, but there’s much more too it. People can say he should have been shoved into a hospital, but even statistics knows 50%-70% of people who go in feeling like they should end their life come out feeling they should end their life tenfold. It’s not about being a sick bastard disturbed enough to kill his daughter. It’s about being a person who got fed up with whatever he got fed up with, or was struggling in some other way perhaps no one knew about, so he turned to the only logical thought in his head at that time.

It’s logical because it’s about taking control of things that are out of control, and that’s what he did. That’s a very human response. It’s not the response we generally like to hear about, nor is it the response I wish anyone to have, but it’s a human one alright.

That being said, had the cops arrived, would what they have done prevented anything? How much do they know about wanting to end their own life and what would they have said to him? Would the man have shot his daughter anyway, so they shoot him? What difference would that have made? Where the fuck did the gun come from? I didn’t know people who drove fucking Kia Souls were gun wranglers, I’ll never tailgate another Prius in my life.

There are so many assumptions to be made here, and that’s where the danger and the stigma and the stupidity starts, especially in murder-suicide incidents.

People get scared when the ones around them are spewing things like “suicidal threats” and I think that’s because of the panic and the fear that comes with losing someone they care for and the thoughts of what could happen. That’s also a pretty human response. But I think it’s also helpful to remember in that time that this person is telling you these things for a reason, and it’s not always just to let you know what their plans are.

That’s a lot of pressure–for someone to come to you and say they’re going to kill themselves. Now all of a sudden you feel it’s up to you to stop them. Is it? I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone has any kind of responsibility for anyone else’s life. What I do know is that if you’ve experienced that kind of despair, or even if you have experienced any kind of deep pain at all, for any reason, you know how hard it is to see past it and how lonely it is. Maybe it’s not really about stepping in to save their life and be the hero walking away from the fire.

Maybe it’s not about convincing them to stay alive or being responsible for them, maybe it’s just about using what you know, what you’ve felt, to connect for just a moment. Maybe it’s not your responsibility to make them change their mind, maybe it’s their responsibility to change their mind and maybe you can support them through that change.

I would consider this situation at the mall very high risk and that’s why I say I don’t know if anything would have changed had the police reached that man and I’m not going to sit here and criticize people for things they should have done: that doesn’t bring either person back to life. I don’t know what kind of threats he said to his wife or how long he’s expressed these kinds of things. Maybe he never has. Maybe a slow growing brain tumor finally cut off some blood supply to a specific area of his brain and suddenly he didn’t want to live anymore and no words could have ever made a difference. You don’t know.

You can’t save everyone. That’s not meant to sound morbid, just truthful: some people have made up their minds and you could be the best connector in the world and they’ll still put a barrel to their temple.

But, a good try is better than not trying at all–or, you know, chalking it all up to being “sick”.

The Truth Behind Trauma

Let’s talk about Trauma. Fun!

And I’m not talking about the kind of trauma you get from thinking you’re badass enough to put a glob of Habanero hot sauce the size of a U.S quarter on your tongue without an 8 ounce glass of milk near you.

*Tip* Water makes it worse. Why? Water spreads the chemical compound capsaicin (C18 H27 NO3,) while milk breaks it apart, putting it generally.

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And while making the mistake of sipping your ice cold water on top of your gulp of Habanero may very well traumatize you enough to keep you away from hot sauce for a while, it’s much less likely to reduce your functioning compared to, well, a near death experience.

Compared to child abuse.

Compared to sexual assault.

Compared to emotional and verbal and physical abuse.

If someone tells you they were abused as a child, and they give you the honor of actually sharing those painful memories with you, do the best you can to not to judge how abusive of a situation they were in. 

Concept: Construction workers inspecting brainEmotional and verbal abuse does not leave physical scars or torn innards, but it does shape how someone’s mindset is. It shapes how their brain reacts to every portion of their environment, to every social relationship, to every coincidence, to themselves. That’s essentially the person’s entire life.

There’s one type of trauma I feel isn’t talked about much, and reading what I’ve read recently from a health textbook used to teach students going into health careers, it’s obvious it needs to be talked about *RANT  ON THAT COMING SOON, MARK YOUR CALENDARS*.

And that’s the trauma that is a mental health crisis. You hear people give credit to the overwhelming medical model and biological “basis” of mental health issues simply because there’s a gap in people who struggle. In other words, you see people from all over the world, with all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds, coming down with these “illnesses”.

Let’s take psychosis.

Picture this: you’re a young adult with blonde hair and blue eyes. Your family is upper class. Your parents don’t ask too much from you, or too little. You learned how to clean up after yourself, you learned how to work, you learned how to handle some emotions, maybe not all, but some. Everything in your house is fun and laughter and love and happiness, except for when that one uncle comes over and gets a little too drunk.

Then the fucking alien assholes start contacting you and the government starts freaking out about it, so they track you to your residence and, in the middle of the night, sew a tracking device in your wrist and the aliens keep telling you they’re after you so you start trying to protect yourself by hiding in the gutters at night.

Roughly.

Then you’re held down with restraints and medication and no one’s telling you anything, so it’s probably the CIA trying to do experiments on you so you fight them and they fight you and finally a few months later you come to a vague conclusion you’ve been in a hospital and that’s really only after they hounded into your head both heavy, heavy psychotropics and the heavy, heavy idea that you’re really sick. 

Then you’re sitting in a chair staring at the wall wondering if anything exists.

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If that’s not traumatic, than I don’t know what is. If that’s not something that needs to be addressed, that needs to be processed, that shouldn’t ever be responded to with “you’re just sick, sorry, get over it, learn to live with it, or don’t, whatever.”, than I don’t know what is.

I’m not going to sit here and argue with everyone who believes in the medical model. If you do, fine; if you don’t, fine. That’s not really the issue here. The issue here is that more often than not, mental health crises are written off as just “something that happens”.

It’s ignored that the feelings of fear, of mistrust, of confusion, of the million other emotions running through your head are a result of what you’ve just been through–not your “symptoms”.

It’s ignored that those feelings need to be processed, not repressed. Not summed up as “sickness”.

Still iffy? Alright, I’ll put it this way: as a child, and to this day in my adult life, if I butter my toast by holding the knife in my left hand, with the blade ridges facing away from me, my father will undoubtedly yell at me and tell me I’m buttering my toast wrong. If I dispute one of his beliefs, he’ll most likely launch a laundry basket at my head and call me a bitch like he did the other day.

There are a lot of feelings from that: anger, fright, sadness, confusion, frustration, exhaustion. You would probably agree that 1) those incidents are ridiculous, and 2) that those feelings should not be repressed, but processed and outed. If so, you get an:

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When I was in the hospital, my self-harm wounds that were obviously bleeding and staining my clothes and, although not deep enough to kill me, but deep enough to cause concern, were called scratches and they didn’t ask me why I’d done it: it was just part of the depression. My lack of eye contact and refusal to speak until someone reached me on a human level was also chalked up to depression. When I said I wasn’t depressed (because I wasn’t, I had other things going on), they didn’t believe me and told me I was depressed.

So, the fright that came with being hauled away by the sheriff, of having all these nurses crowd around me and take my shoes and all my belongings and of the counselors repeatedly lecturing rather than talking, of having to ask to use the bathroom, of the yelling match between the nurses and the man about him not pissing in the cup at 5 in the morning, about the guy who bolted across the floor on his hands and knees, about the man who kept wandering up and down the hall muttering to himself and never receiving any more interaction besides an occasional “hello” from a nurse, and most of all the threat of being stuck in this fucking place for more than twenty four hours, were never processed. I ran out of the doors, free, laughing hysterically when I left. In the short time I spent there, I’d already felt the harsh sting of institutionalization.

I can only imagine the fright and anger and terror and mistrust and pain and hurt that comes with being forced in there against your will, stuck in restraints, or completely isolated. 

And none of those feelings were ever asked about. None of it was ever processed. My privacy was continually violated as they asked me in front of eight other people if I still wanted to kill myself, as if that wasn’t private information. It’s as if they figure, hey, they’re all crazies, who cares how they feel about anything.

And that’s how people get worse. Repression. Repression. Repression. Invalidation. Invalidation. Invalidation.

It’s not just about “disease”. It’s not about “sickness”. It’s not about “disorder” or “illness”. It’s about emotions and your reactions and how you’ve been taught to react. It’s about learned helplessness.

It’s about feeling deprived the right to process your own emotions. And, as someone who says they are in control of their health, you have to take that right back.

 

 

Brain Block

You ever listen to Erykah Badu’s “Danger” and just find yourself rocking out like you’re a bad ass ready to “flush the Yayo” before the cops bust through your door and nip your gangsta’ ass in the bud?

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On Tuesday I am seeing this psychiatrist for the second time. On Wednesday I am seeing my psychologist. On Friday I’m working a shift.

It’s amazing how different being at work can make me feel. Although my anxiety rises during check in’s and check out’s and interviews and I try to avoid them because of it, being among familiar faces really creates a safe space for me. The guests I’ve all got a great rapport with. My social struggles are there when speaking, but the anxiety is generally erased.

I’ve thought about confessing, not only to this new psychiatrist who I’m paying a pretty penny, but also to my coworkers, perhaps my supervisor during supervisions this week . . . or next week . . . or whenever we can get to it. Supervisions are basically a period in time where I meet with my supervisor and we talk about how I’m doing work wise and mental health wise.

What in the world could I possibly have to confess? Am I a malingerer? Am I a murderer? Did I #FuckTrumpInTheAss?  Well, we all know the latter is out of the question, I don’t want an STD. I also couldn’t be within ten feet of the moron without the homicidal thoughts racing.

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I would like to confess my deepest, darkest secret, of which I’ve probably revealed on here many times in terms of thought process. All the things I share on here are nothing about what I share to the others.

I think it’s gotten to the point where school is so effected, where my daily life is so affected, that I don’t have time to mess around anymore.

I also believe this is a problem for many. We wait until we’re at a breaking point, or until we break, to reach out. Not necessarily to a professional, but to anyone. It’s like we deny ourselves the right to struggle and not feel lesser for it. Obviously there are a lot of environmental factors that play into that mindset, and perhaps even some personal beliefs or mindsets and, understandably, some anxiety.

Being around people so willing to be open, and not so willing to be open, has held a large mirror in front of my eyes.

I’ll speak more on this later. Or I’ll speak more later, in general. To be honest, I just can’t fucking think. I really can’t. It’s like pushing words the size of a horse’s cock through a sieve the size of an ant’s urethra. It’s like shoving a kid against a brick wall and continually pushing their face into the bricks, shouting at them go forward and stop being a nutty little bastard. It’s like that itch on the middle of your back you can’t reach. It’s like someone cut one of your neurons so all the electrical signals that make up thoughts fall off the axon like a derailed train.

I’m sorry to the sensitive viewers. I’m really dissatisfied with my brain at this moment. Good-fucking-night.

When Life Gives You Anger . . .

. . . make some really angry lemonade.

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This is going to be a very, very weird question.

But, I must ask my fellow bloggers, my blogsters, all you blogging bloggers of the blogsphere:

Have you ever felt the need to really hurt someone? Either physically or mentally?

If you have, was there something within you that urged you along? Did you despise yourself or your life in someway? How much of your anger towards others has ever been a reflection of your own anger directed inward that perhaps you never noticed?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about bullies, about manipulators, about those parents who go on day time talk shows and swear to the God they put their knees on the filthy floor for that one day their child will grow up and be the next Columbine Shooters or the next creepy old guy down the street who secretly severs the heads of corpses in his basement.

There’s a difference between the columbine shooters, or the kid that brings a gun to school, or the bullies in the hall, and people in terrorist groups like ISIS who are brainwashed into believing what they are doing for a divine power–if we consider the divine power their own arrogance and delusional pride in their country.

The kid that brings a gun to school is not brainwashed, and they’re not always bullied. Something else is going on.

People spend enormous amounts of time trying to figure out just why these kids seemingly flip a switch.

tumblr_inline_mjksn3cctm1qz4rgpI was never a child who fantasized about shooting up the school. I was, however, a master manipulator. Although I stayed silent, I’m very good at mimicking behavior and observing how others interact with each other. I didn’t understand how friendships were made, or how they were maintained, or why I never felt like a human among all the other humans, but I did form a sort of algorithm in my head. It essentially mapped out words, expressions, and personalities.

I could smell bullshit from a mile away.

I could smell a genuine soul from a mile away.

I couldn’t talk to you, and sometimes I couldn’t understand what you asked me, but if you wanted a personality profile, I could whip it up in five seconds easily.

I gained a sort of arrogance from this, because suddenly I had a power. Suddenly I knew more about these people then they knew that I knew. Suddenly I could sniff out the quiet kids in class, the ones that were easiest for me to talk to because their personalities were often hidden under anxiety or general disinterest, and snatch them.

I had teachers eating out of my hand, so when I got in a fight on campus with a girl faker than a stick-on tattoo, the teacher blamed her and let me walk away. I dealt and smoked drugs under their noses, I passed classes without ever turning in homework. I had some kids afraid of me, others wanting to, quite literally “follow” me.

Suddenly I had another power, all based on beating others down. And that, to someone consistently emotionally neglected at home, someone who had no real place to fit in other than in her head, someone who ached so terribly inside that shoving that on others created this weird “confidence”, was priceless.

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Many people with anxiety, or trouble speaking up, get bullied. Most people are surprised when I tell them I never did. I never did because I was the bully. And I will admit I’ve often had trouble understanding people’s pain of being bullied. My response was, very unemotionally: “well, fight back”.

But I know it’s not that easy for some. I didn’t learn to respect that until I was around nineteen years old.

I often went after people who could not, or would not, stand up to me. They were the easiest to feed off. The lower they sunk to the ground, the better I felt. I was like that snake in the grass you can’t see, so when you creep around with your back turned, I sink my teeth in your fleshy ass globes.

There were a few times I attacked some people making fun of special needs students, and those special needs students ended up becoming my friends throughout the years. I still consider those justified.

Anxiety is a beast:

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Anger is a behemoth:

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I see red when enraged, and I black out. I’m one of those kind of people.

So when people got an idea that they would try and talk down to me or argue with me, I would be in their face in a split second, fist ready. And yes, I’m a girl. I didn’t put up with bullshit because I had to put up with bullshit at home.

But what I find most interesting about all these experiences is that . . . you know how you find someone and feel such a strong love or adoration for them, that it spreads from person to person? Now that I’m older, and much less prone to be ignorant (although perhaps still a little manipulative, I’m not proud of it), I find it very ironic that inner pain works in very much the same way. If you’re pained inside, it spreads. If you have much love inside, it spreads.

Often, the pain on the inside, if it’s strong enough, overshadows that love and as a result, you have someone willing to hurt others for the sake of feeling paid attention to, for the sake of having an outlet, for the sake of having a moment of power in a world, or environment, that makes you feel powerless.

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That seems obvious. But I think it’s often overlooked when it comes to bullies, mass shootings, or fighting in general. If this is how our kids and our world reacts to each other, what does that say about the vibes we’re spreading? 

This isn’t a behavioral problem. This isn’t a mental health problem. This is an inner peace problem. This is a power struggle problem. This is a competitive problem. This is a problem of people feeling like they need to better than the next person, so that next person feels they need to be better than the next person, and so on when in reality none of it matters once you’re lowered in the ground.

This post was inspired by some thoughts I left on another blog, and my own urges tonight. Often I get uncontrollable urges (that I usually manage to control) to fight someone. I just want to grab someone by the hair and smash their teeth into the ground and kick their throat in, or I want to tell someone to come toke a bowl or two with me. I want to feel that power of being in control as I drown in an environment and head of mine that is so utterly out of control.

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Not Going To Argue

The first step to rationalizing your feelings is understanding them on a logical level. Anger is something I’ve struggled with for many, many years. This helps.

The Point Of A Respite House

The majority of what you all have heard about this new job I have is the training we went through.

Tonight I figured I’d let you in on the alternative to a mental hospital. The alternative that is severely underfunded, understaffed, and few and far between.

I took you all through each day of that. In fact, the last post I published on the subject matter of IPS, which you can read here, was noticed by the organization and they published it on their Facebook page.

Somehow they found my identity. I’ll worry about that later. 

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What I think I did not mention, was that it wasn’t so much of a training as it was a chance to experience a different way of connecting with people, a way of personalizing your time with someone, a way to establish mutuality where both people involved learn and grow with each other.

It’s something not prevalent within the mental health system (I.e, Hospitals), I’m sure we can all agree on.

If you’ve read my past blogs, you’re familiar with the fact that I’ve spoken often of, and started this blog on the concept of STIGMA. Particularly the concept of SELF-STIGMA.

The concept of “I’m so sick, I’m broken”.

The concept of “I’m so broken, I can’t be fixed”. 

The concept of “being fixed”. 

Whatever any of that means.

But most importantly, the concept of self-advocacy. The idea that you are both your worst enemy and best friend, and that no one understands you better than you. That if you don’t put the work in, if you don’t take a step back and see what part YOU play in your behavior, your actions, and your thoughts, than nothing is ever going to change, regardless of your diagnosis.

As you know, we often stigmatize ourselves and each other within the mental health community, sometimes more often than those on the outside do. I read a great post on this issue by a fellow blogger over at A Schizoaffective Story, and if you’d like to read his post on this issue, click here. I think he does a wonderful job of being concise but illuminating some of the main struggles of this stigma within the mental health community. I hope he doesn’t mind me linking this post.

This is where a respite house comes in.

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Let me explain how this respite house works.

  1. We do not restrict you. In doing so, we are giving you a lot of freedom and are being vulnerable to manipulation. In that openness, we invite you, tacitly, silently, to also be open. Usually it works. I notice how trained some people are coming from hospitals and the county where they have to ask to do everything: “can I use this dish? Can I color before I go to bed? Can I sit outside to eat?” And being bombarded by these questions saddens me. “Can I color before I go to bed?” 
  2. We are 18+
  3. We are free, via government funding. Small government funding.
  4. We have 6 available beds. 
  5. You can go for a walk whenever you want. You can come and go as you please, as long as you are home at night so you can stay overnight.
  6. We take field trips.
  7. We do not take care of your medication, we do not handle your food, we do not answer the guest phone, we do not treat you like a child. We do not lock you up, medicate you, or shout at you.
  8. Most importantly, for God’s sake, We are your peers. We have been suicidal, we have attempted suicidal, we have been depressed. We have heard voices, we’ve seen hallucinations, we’ve road the roller-coaster of Bipolar, and the sudden terror of PTSD. We’ve had panic attacks, we’ve had anxiety, we’ve struggled with Ritualistic OCD, intrusive thoughts, and serious mental pain. We are NOT clinical. We are not doctors, we are not psychologists, we are not therapists or social workers or counselors. When you tell us you want to kill yourself, we don’t shove a needle in your arm. We don’t pound a diagnosis on your head. We take you out back under the tree where the birds are chirping and we say: “That’s heavy. I’ve been there. What’s been going on?”
  9. We are support. We’re not your parents. We’re not your doctor.
  10. When you ask “what should I do?” We don’t act like we have the answer if we don’t. In fact, we say “I’m still struggling with that. To be honest, I have no clue. But . . .let’s try and do this together”.

What we do is create a community of people. We’ve all struggled, we are all still struggling.

When I interviewed for a job at this place, I was a little off put by the manager. When he read my cover letter (I believe I included the anxiety, depression, and schizotypy), he said we had things in common. He speaks very softly, but packs so much authenticity and meaning into one word I was momentarily dazed. He told me I wasn’t alone and that we were all in this together (something along those lines) and I didn’t know how to respond.

In all honesty, my first thought was “what the fuck is this? You gunna fatten me up and cook me or some shit?”. 

In response to true kindness and understanding, I went on the defense.

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Because that’s not the treatment a lot of us are used to. We’re not used to support. We’re not used to people relating. We’re not used to connection on that level.

We’ve gotten used to the idea of “help” being someone trying to fix us, someone trying to give us the answers to our never ending questions, someone we speak to in order to up our medication dosage and spend 10 minutes asking us how the medication has been acting lately.

And then we wonder why we keep ending up in the same places over and over again.

This concept of a respite house is the future of mental health. This is the direction we need to go. This is what funding needs to go towards. Community, mutuality, support.

Not a traumatizing moment of being smacked onto a bed and strapped at the ankles and wrists.

Not a person of authority to tell you you’re broken, or to reinforce the sense of helplessness you already feel.

We’re here to tell you you’re not alone. We’re here to be vulnerable too: to cry with you and tell you how frightening and uncertain things are. We’re here to be human towards you.

This is the program, alongside IPS, that isn’t talked about. It’s not advertised. It’s not given as an option to many people.

And that needs to change.