It’s The Thought That Counts

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I tried ya’ll.

I tried so hard to ignore it.

But everyone is posting about it, I’m seeing articles on major magazine websites pouring their heart into it, and as much as I respect their excitement and their enthusiasm for totally real, hardcore science, I must push my way through the crowd and get a little word in.

“New Imaging  Study Shows How Schizophrenic Brains Regenerate”.

“Science may have moved much closer to curing Schizophrenia”. 

“Imaging study shows promising results for patients with Schizophrenia”

“Brains of people with Schizophrenia attempt self-repair:study”.

One categorized schizophrenia s a “neurological disorder”.

I . . .

Look ya’ll, I’m going to be frank. I know I’ve been in sort of a professional, formal sounding haze these last few weeks, but this kind of shit just pisses me off.

 

 

A neurological disorder? When was this concluded? NEVER, THAT’S WHEN.

*breathe*

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There are such things as hallucinations caused by neurological issues. For example, often elder people in nursing homes who are blind have visual hallucinations. I recall hearing a story of one woman in her nineties who had lost her vision for many years but was steadily seeing people walking past her. She saw napkins floating in mid-air. None of these interacted with her, none of them acknowledged her, and if you fucking ask Oliver Sacks what the difference between a psychotic hallucination and a neurological hallucination is, he’ll tell you in your fucking face that psychotic hallucinations tend to interact with you. They tend to recognize you are there, even if that means just looking over at you. They are (generally) not just a scene in front of your eyes that are pretty to look at. They are (generally) not a cute little movie based on the real world that you get to watch and smile at.

Unless you count hundreds of bugs crawling on the wall or shadow figures sitting at a table with red eyes with little movie based on the real world that you smile at.

Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, everyone experiences such things differently. But if you want to get “Sciencey”, if you want to act like a textbook has all the answers, there’s the scientific/textbook difference between a psychotic hallucination and a neurologically-caused one for you.

child-abuse1Could there be a reason for this difference? Oh absolutely. Could you think of a reason? I could think of one huge one: environment. How you grew up. Where you grew up. What you were told. How you were exposed to the world. Trauma.

For example I’ve learned from talking with people who are in the state of mind where they walk up to you very boldly, very furious, and say “stop stealing my thoughts. I hate it, get out of my head, stop stealing my thoughts!” 

And at first you’re a little taken aback. You go on the defense and your first reaction is “I’m not” or “calm down” or “here, take these”. You might even be fearful as we’ve all been taught people sucked within delusions or hallucinations are unpredictable. And in some cases that has been truth. But has anyone ever paid attention how we react to them? Does anyone care about that? 

Because I’ve learned to react a different way. I’ve learned to sit and speak with them about why they feel someone is stealing their thoughts. And you know what I’ve discovered in a few? They have a history of feeling invaded. Of feeling their privacy means nothing, as if they had none to begin with. How their brain reacts to that?: People are stealing my thoughts. 

Is that neurological?

After speaking with them, after steadily extracting a whole new story from them, have I convinced them someone is not stealing their thoughts? No. But we just spent an hour talking about their restrictive childhood and suddenly I’m not the one stealing their thoughts anymore.

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Often in these articles I read they support the idea that you are born with schizophrenia, that you are born with a broken mind, one that it (this cracks me up) needs to be repaired.

Is childhood psychosis something of interest? Absolutely. There are tons of children who seem to hallucinate before they turn 3 years old. Does that warrant some interesting neuroscience? I think so. But it doesn’t mean you only speak to them in clinical terms, it doesn’t mean you constantly reassure them they are sick and “damaged” as one article put it. How much of a difference does self-esteem make? Has this been studied as well?

But when it comes to adults, when it comes to people with troubled pasts, or  even un-troubled pasts but just experiences where they may have been constantly controlled, invaded, or verbally abused once in a while, it warrants we take a look at their entire life and not only their neurology.

“It’s been suggested that neural degeneration in this region is at the root of Schizophrenia, though this is still widely debated . . .”

It is very widely debated. But you don’t hear much about the side debating, do you? 

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Everyone loves NAMI. Oh they’re raising so much awareness, they’re doing this, they’re doing that. Well, if you go on the NAMI or NIMH website, whichever hosts research articles I forget, and download their studies on Schizophrenia, and you search for the word “Trauma” you won’t find it once.

Not. Once.

That tells me this is a one-sided conversation. This tells me we’re hunting after schizophrenia like it’s going to be a crack in the brain somewhere, that as soon as we find that hole all we’ll have to do is patch it up with a little super-glue and it’ll be gone.

I feel we do that with many “disorders” we characterize.

As someone studying in the psychiatric field, as someone with lived experience of mental health issues, I can confirm heavily for you that as an industry we set up a batch of symptoms, we analyze you without taking into consideration who you are or where you’re from, and then we stick you with a label and tell you, well, this is for the rest of your life.

I love that one article which talks about “self-repair”, as if there is a leak to stop somewhere.

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“The researchers’ main finding is that, in terms of overall grey matter volume, schizophrenic brains become more “normal” the longer they’re schizophrenic. That is, the largest deviations occur early in the illnesses onset. Moreover, patients with the most dramatic deviations from normal early in the illness were not necessarily the most likely to be better or worse off later in the illness than patients with less deviations.”

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Love the “schizophrenic brains”and “longer they’re schizophrenic” rather than  “brains with schizophrenia” or “the longer they experience schizophrenia”.

They depersonalize these articles on purpose. These findings are meant to generalize an entire population, they’re meant to isolate an illness. They’re not meant to speak on behalf of the people going through these experiences. And that’s where the biological model falls short.

Yes, I can’t deny they have found differences in grey matter in people with schizophrenia versus people without. But the thing is, they can’t prove whether it’s because of the way people react to the world around them or because of the physical matter of the brain. They act like it’s because of the way the physical matter is developed, but they have no proof. No one has any proof either way.

So each side spends all their time trying to convince us either way instead of taking time to speak with the people they’re degrading. 

I guess the DSM-5 made an attempt: they did put out a call to the general public to see if anyone had a disorder they wanted published before they finalized the DSM-5 in 2013.

Can anyone see how that’s a bad idea?

Can anyone see just how fabricated a lot of these characterizations are made now? 

 

How Sick is Sick?

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It’s the end of the week at the IPS training and besides being mentally exhausted, I’m slightly conflicted.

Tomorrow I have to do a two to four minute presentation. He said it can be anything, you can just stand in front of the group and talk about what IPS means to you. That’s essentially what I’m doing unless I come up with some kind of fanatical art project. I thought of doing a poem, but let’s be honest here folks, I’m no poet.

That being said, a major thing that resonated with me throughout this week is the idea of looking at what the clinical setting calls “symptoms” as experiences or reactions.

brainWe all know the biological model is not as sound as they say it is. And we all know that biology and neurology cannot be taken out of the equation when talking about mental health; that’s like leaving out the division of cells in the growth of cancer. But do we know how much we rely on the idea of being biologically or genetically sick?

Have you ever been asked that?

 

Have you ever thought about your “symptoms” in the light of something else?

I’ll give you a personal example and a separate example from a brilliant TED talk I watched a few years back, one the speaker today showed us all.

When I graduated high school. I was the furthest from depressed: I was finally off the medication I was put on, I didn’t have to get held back because I skipped so many classes, I didn’t have to wake up at 4 in the morning anymore to feel comfortable at school, I didn’t have to see those stuck up ostracizing nerds in all my classes. I was going to college and finally got to study psychology, the subject I’d been studying for a few years before college. I was always smiling, and laughing. I got my license and it was a huge accomplishment: my anxiety had really affected my first written test when I was 16. I was driving, staying out at night, having fun for the first time in a long time.

272362-house-mdOne evening I was watching the show House. Anyone remember that? Anyway: Panic. Utter panic. I thought I was going to die, I felt my heart rate pounding behind my eyes and in my ears and no matter how deep of a breaths I took, it would only grow faster.

I went into the living room where my parents were sitting and asked my mother to take my pulse. I asked her if it was going fast. She shrugged and said “eh, a little”.

Her opinion didn’t effect me. I needed air. I ran outside in torn and stained sweats and a T-shirt and started walking up and down the driveway, pacing, talking to myself. The neighbors were watching for sure. I could feel my head getting light and although I didn’t feel any chest pain (I never do surprisingly) I could feel my throat tightening and I thought it was swelling.

Finally my mother joined me outside and we walked. For an hour.

This happened several times throughout the summer, random attacks hitting me and interrupting my happy moment in life. The average therapist called it “Panic Disorder”. Medication recommendation: Ativan.

This happened for two years. Random attacks. I started getting worried: would one happen if I tried to ride a ride at the amusement park? Would one happen while I was in a store and I’d have to embarrass myself in front of all these people? Would one happen when I’m home alone at night and have no one to talk to about it?

Then I noticed the pattern. I noticed the pattern of my own repression. Not only did I shove down my depression, but my anxiety, my beliefs, my worry, my everything. Every feeling I had I shoved it down: that’s what I did best. I was unaware of how to express feelings besides anger.

the_repression__gianfranco_uberWhen I had a panic attack, that signaled to me I’d stuffed something down. And because I respect my body and my brain, I worked at it. I talked to myself. I extracted the thoughts I kept hidden for years: the anger and resentment I feel towards my parents for forcing me to take care of an alcoholic at 13. The confusion I felt about all the years we spent homeless. Everything. I recognized it and acknowledged it and my brain thanked me.

Within the last year, I’ve had one panic attack and that was because of a sickness. Compared to the two or three I had per week.

The woman in the TED talk: she started hearing voices in college narrating her every day tasks. For example, when she entered a classroom, it said “she’s entering the class”.She spoke to her friend about them and her friend told her to see a psychologist. She went to a college health center and told them about the anxiety and depression she was experiencing. The person was avidly uninterested until she mentioned the voice.

You know the drill: assessment, diagnosis, medication. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. They told her about the prognosis, about the life-long journey, about the medication. That was around the time her voices turned hostile and her paranoia locked her in her house with a plastic fork as a defense to any invaders. Coincidence?

Years later a psychologist or psychiatrist she was seeing mentioned her voices in a new light and she gradually saw them as an expression of unattended emotions. The trauma she dealt with her in childhood that caused pain and anxiety, her current life which caused pain and anxiety, the feeling of having personal space invaded, the feeling of having people against you. I’m sure we’ve all felt invaded at one point or another in our lives.

She reduced her medication then quit it. The further they worked through the trauma, the further she was supported in her decision and the further she saw her voices as an experience, as a way of them expressing emotion she kept inside of her, the less volatile they came. In fact, they gave her some answers on one of her exams. She asked if that was cheating and I would say yes: I don’t get any help like that, that’s bullshit. 

Whether they were right or not is another story I guess.

The point is, she had a psychiatrist who was willing to ask the question “what happened to you?” rather than “what’s wrong with you?”.

This is not to say all mental health issues are a result of trauma. But many of us, I’m sure, can attest to that being an influence to the way we think.

eyeseetheworldThe above questions are questions we cover extensively in IPS training. It’s not always about the label. It’s not about the “disorder”, the thing doctors with no lived experience of mental health issues sat around a table and decided have a of “symptoms”. It’s about how life has shaped your world view. And I think that’s very powerful.

That being said, I feel as if I’m cheating these people. I’m only 20 years old: I’m the youngest of the group by at least ten years. I’ve never had the horror of having to go into a psychiatric hospital. I’ve never lost touch with reality. I’ve never experienced mania on their level. These people I’m surrounded by are the real MVP’s.

I feel as if I don’t deserve to be where they sit. It’s an issues with not feeling “sick” enough, I believe. It’s a feeling we talk about in IPS a lot: It’s a huge struggle when you can only get help in a hospital for suicidal issues if you have a “significant plan” to kill yourself.

I’ve always connected my mental health experiences to my body, to the way I think, and to what has happened to me in my life. I tell them about the schizotypal, the depression, the anxiety, the PTSD,  but I feel because I haven’t lost touch with reality, because I don’t hear voices on a daily basis, because I don’t visually hallucinate on a daily basis, because I haven’t told my plans about suicide to anyone and got thrown in the hospital, because none of it has caused me to act “Crazy” according to system standards, I don’t feel like I . . . I don’t feel like I deserve the job I have. 

I’m not quite sure how to deal with these feelings.

I know I will be able to relate to the people I talk to in some way or another, but I feel like they will see me as some young kid who doesn’t know shit.

Even though I know what it feels like to want to die. I know what it feels like to have demons chasing you. I know what it feels like to harm myself, to having people tell you your beliefs are “odd” or “magical”. I know what it feels like to take medication you don’t want to, to be misunderstood, to hate living. I know what it feels like to believe you have powers (which I still do) or to feel unsupported. I know about homelessness and drug addiction and mental pain in general, confusion, anger, hatred. . .

But is it enough?

Medication Contemplation

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What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “mental disorder”?

I think for a lot of people it’s sequentially “medication”.

Let’s talk about that.

I haven’t kept it secret that the field I am going into, the field of psychiatry, is very inadequate at keeping track of who they medicate, why they medicate them, and yet is very adequate at hiding research results of medication. I haven’t kept it secret that there are lots of pill pushing physicians and pill pushing pharmaceutical companies. Let’s put it all on the table and be honest about it: medicine is a business. It’s not about you, it’s not about your health, it’s about how much money they can make off your health.

That doesn’t make medication any less important. That doesn’t make your health any less important. And although I stopped medication years ago, it doesn’t defeat the fact that I realize how much harder I’m making it on myself.

So every once in a while the thought slips into my mind: see a psychiatrist. Talk to them. See what they recommend. You have the smarts to tell them they’re being ignorant if you feel they’re being ignorant.

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Then I think about everyone who has had the displeasure of being stuck in “the cycle”. We all know what the cycle is:

  1. Try medication.
  2. Hate side effects.
  3. Try different medication
  4. Doesn’t work.
  5. Try different medication.
  6. Hate side effects
  7. Doctor gives another medication to combat first medication side effects.
  8. New side effects. New Health problem
  9. Two new medications.
  10. Cocktail of pills at the end of the day.

“The Cycle”.

Then there are people who get stuck in the “secondary cycle”:

  1. Find good medication
  2. Develop tolerance
  3. Up dosage
  4.  Doesn’t work
  5. Coming down off medication is too hard
  6. Stays on medication.

There are about fifty other common cycles we could discuss here.

It’s hard for me to sacrifice my personal beliefs. I am not one to readily put a man-made product in my body. It doesn’t react well with me, it feels wrong, it’s foreign, it’s a form of control. . .

And yet, here I am contemplating it once more.

I think this is common for many of us who struggle. We teeter between a variable amount of medicinal release and a variable amount of “I can handle this”. The result:

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But then I think of the cycle I currently live in.

  1. A few good days.
  2. Heavy anxiety
  3. Paranoia
  4. Depression
  5. Mood swings
  6. insomnia
  7. Suicidal ideation
  8. self harm
  9. depression
  10. A few good days.

“The other Cycle”.

This alter of mine ( I like to consider it as such) is, simply put, a beast. Teflon strong. Impenetrable.

Were I to live a life inside of my room six days out of the week with no threat of ever having to drift from routine, with no threat of ever having to learn new skills or meet new people, I could manage these things. But that’s not a life I want myself to live, that’s a life my alter prefer I live.

I feel this is something that is often common with some people who struggle. It’s easier not to tempt our comfort zone with abandonment. It’s easier to be in our heads and know where we stand. It’s easier to watch the world carry on than to even think of interacting with it on an on-going basis.

pharmacy_software_trainingTomorrow I start the week long training course for the counseling position I work. They do it every year and you need to attend at least 4.5 days out of the 5. Each day is 7.5 hours and although I know I am surrounded with people like me, I know my trust issues will get in the way of me connecting with them the way they will try and connect with me. I don’t believe their eyes, their expressions, their words, their body language, none of it. It’s as if they’re impostors, mimicking human beings in an effort to mock me.

Today I became much more aware of my hoarding issues. I’m one to buy things online that I only use a few times, then set it off to collect dust. I keep old papers from years before, and the majority of the time my floor, my desk, my dresser, and bed-side furniture are overflowing with things to the point where you can barely see floor or desk top. And when it comes to “clean”, as I’ve had to do partially today because an electrician is coming tomorrow and the spark plug box is in my closet, I shut down.

Every step someone makes near or in my room, I snap at them. Every paper touched, even torn ones, I have to read and touch to make sure I don’t want to keep it. I hold onto the majority of things, but I have the ability to  toss some things if they are absolutely useless. I’ve been worse.

And when I finally see things starting to clear up, I panic. My sensitivities skyrocket, just the simple sound of paper crumpling or the movement of someone’s arm passing by me to pick up something sends me into a rage. I just want everything and everyone to stand still, shut up, and let me think in silence.

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The whole process has exhausted me even more. And as usual, I don’t have anyone willing to talk to me about it, nor do I feel like bothering anyone at 11:30 at night.

So I think about medication. I think about how it would dull some of the anxiety and paranoia, how it would blunt some of the moods as well. I think about how it might help me think clearer, get rid of some of the miscellaneous thoughts clouding up my vision and preventing me from smoothly writing this post right now. It might even ward off some of the depression.

There is a possibility I could live easier than I am.

I enjoy who I am. I love my personality, I love the quirks of my day. I love seeing the world in a different light and honestly I love being suspicious of every one and everything. Why would I want that defense dulled? I love living in fantasy. I love having overloads of ideas and shocking people.

But it all comes with a price.

I don’t remember a moment from the time I was aware of myself consciously where I wasn’t living in a fantasy world, where I wasn’t in my own head,  where I wasn’t anxious about every living and non-living thing. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to not have that.

normalAnd I think that’s what attracts many of us to medication when we first hear about it: the prospects of living as close to a societal “normal” as possible. Because the concept of normal is quite attractive.  The concept of relief is quite attractive. The concept of not being lost within your struggles or your disorders is quite attractive.

I don’t know what I will do. A psychiatrist is appealing, but expensive.

I will not go to another physician for my mental health, for Gods sake that’s a nightmare and pointless.

Perhaps I will just go in for a consultation. Perhaps I will talk about my options and ask the right questions. Perhaps I will make them tell me what they don’t tell the average person because the average person doesn’t ask.

It doesn’t hurt to try yet again, does it?

The Unmentionables

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

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

The subject is schizophrenia and race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this is according to a new study published.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which we have.

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For many years.

What was the point of the apology?

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

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

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

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

I wonder why. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Cough* Racism *COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH*

Sorry, I had a political tickle in my throat.

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

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

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

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

They cursed us, to only see the worst in ourselves

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

–Immortal Technique 

Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

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I believe there are also weeks out of the year dedicated to such a thing, am I right? Well, you all know I’ve got to put my two cents in on the subject because my mouth is huge.

This is when all of us suddenly get a burst of confidence and we blog about it, we “Tweet” about it, we “Facebook” about it, we Instagram pictures of our medications with “#noshame” and we take group pictures with NAMI shirts and celebrate our uniqueness and remind the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we have to go through each day.

Come June, about 80% of us die off.

I’ve said it once on this blog and I’ll say it again: as someone who has struggled with mental issues for the majority of my life I’m a little offended that people think a hashtag, a brief campaign, or a picture is enough to represent a daily fight. 

I am all for spreading awareness and understanding. I am not for spreading awareness and understanding one month out of the year. I’m not for spreading it one week out of the year or a day out of the year.

socialbranding-534x280Social media is a powerful force. It can spread love or hatred, happiness or despair, anger or calmness. It is also a host of one-hit post wonders.

Awareness of mental health and mental disorders has absolutely nothing to do with your pretty hair, your make-up, and your Ativan prescription while you sit in your car with your cell phone camera angled slightly so the sunlight bounces off your skin and makes you look inhumanely radiant.

I agree you shouldn’t be ashamed if you have to or feel that you have to take medication to help manage your symptoms. I agree you have a right to prove to everyone that you’re not ashamed. I do not agree that a picture and a caption is the only way you can make people aware of mental disorders. I do not agree that a post on Facebook that’s heartfelt, gets you a lot of likes, and makes people think “wow, he’s such a caring individual, I’m so sorry for his struggles” is the only way to make people aware of mental disorders.

Because people in the every day world don’t stigmatize those of us who are perceived as “well”, they don’t stigmatize those of us who are supporting ourselves, going to school, and “overcoming” our “problems”. Because it’s not always obvious with those of us who are able to manage our symptoms that we even struggle.

rob-tinfoil-hat-compressedThey stigmatize those of us wandering around on the street muttering under our breath about the CIA tracking them with the chip planted underneath their skin right next to their temple. They stigmatize those of us who can’t get out of bed for months regardless of treatment, who gulp down forty Xanax or slash vertically down both wrists. Those of us who fall into a pit of immeasurable despair after, just recently, thinking we had come up with an algorithm for the cure for cancer by linking words in newspaper clippings and spending all day and all night putting it all together and emailing university departments for their help.

Because when you post a picture of you and your medication with a caption of smiling emoji and a hashtag “#noshame”,  you’re making everyone aware of what they’re most comfortable seeing: people succeeding over great adversity.

The problem is, those people don’t know about he adversity you went through to get there.

So it’s all good and well to post positivity. It’s all good and well to boost your confidence and show how proud you are of your accomplishments: by all means, continue to do so.

But do me a favor, do yourself a favor, and do all your brothers and sisters in the mental health community a favor by not forgetting where you came from and what you went through to be where you are. Don’t forget about those of us on the street, those of us locked up in jail, those of us battling addictions to combat the untreated depression, the mood swings, the psychosis, the voices. 

Don’t just show, educate.

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Help people understand the difference between “feeling anxious” and having an anxiety disorder.

Help people understand the difference between being “totally paranoid about that creepy neighbor guy, like, O.M.G” and experiencing paranoia.

Help people understand the difference between laziness and depression.

Help people understand the difference between being ridiculously tidy and having an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Help people understand the difference between “being moody” and bipolar disorder (for God’s sake, educate some doctors on it while you’re at it). 

The reality of the matter is, although we all span the globe and the majority of us have never met each other, we’re all a family. We’re not a family united against the “normies” or the “neurotypicals”, we’re a family united in our struggle.

The first thing I was told at my new job ( Yes, I’m officially a team member at this place as of today) told me was “we’re a family here”.

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And that was the only line I was waiting to here. It’s not something you’ll hear with sincerity when walking into a mental institution. It’s not something you’ll hear with sincerity when walking into a state rehabilitation clinic. But it’s something you should hear with sincerity.

With only six available beds, and the program being run by staff all with mental health struggles, I knew this was a place that focused on the health of the people, not how fast they could get them in and get them out, not how fast they could find a medication combination for them. It’s about giving them the skills they need to live a productive life.

This place is small. It’s also few and far between.

I am a mental health advocate; always have been, always will be, every day, all day. If you really care to know, “label wise”, I struggle with GAD, Social anxiety disorder, Major depression, Dissociation (fugue states, e.t.c.) and, more officially than I’ve let anyone know on this website for personal reasons, schizotypal personality disorder.

But no matter how successful I become (or unsuccessful), I won’t forget about those of us who don’t yet have the support, the ability or skill-set to pull themselves out of whatever hole they are in.

That’s what awareness is about. It’s not about your #noshame pictures with your fucking medication, I’m so sorry to say. In fact, it’s not about you at all. It’s about all of us, all of our struggles, and the truth of them. Not the nice side of it. Not the media’s view on it.

And it’s certainly not something that can be done in a month with nicely printed shirts. Sorry you wasted $25.99.  

So, if you want to make use of this short, 31 day month dedicated to mental health, go out and educate someone. Help someone. Offer your support, your understanding.

You want to “break the silence, break the stigma”? Try doing it a little more often than one month out of the year.

 

 

 

Healthy Obsession

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These last few days were some crazy days.

But everyone could use a crazy day every once in a while, right? These are the days that remind us we’re alive, that we can live, that we have the right to have fun and to push ourselves.

A few of you are aware that I had an interview with a place looking to hire for a peer counselor. It went great: I’ll make sure to tell about it in a later post.

vcw_d_sjose_t4_winchestermysteryhouse_christysharp_1280x642None of you are aware that I took my boyfriend with me to one of California’s registered “haunted houses”, the Winchester Mansion, for their infamous “flashlight tour”, and one of the actresses scared the shit out of my boyfriend. And managed to creep me out just as well. I’ll make sure to tell that in a later post.

But this post I want to be about fun.

We all deserve a little fun in our lives. If you’re anything like me, you struggle to get through the day, to get out of bed in the morning, to make food, to eat even. Days are often the same with the same cycle of thoughts in your head and the same old coping mechanisms are used to try and stop them. Sometimes with success, sometimes in vain.

Some of us struggle to be around others, some of us struggle to be by ourselves, some of us struggle in telling what’s physical reality and what’s mental fantasy. But the point is, we all struggle.

So whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, a personality disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia, Autism, Narcolepsy, whatever: you deserve to have a little good time in your life.

Even if you don’t feel like you deserve it (talking to all you depressives out there; don’t worry, I know the struggle, I’m not calling you out without having experience with it) you deserve it.

You deserve to have a moment you can look back on when times are rough that help you remember happiness exists in the world and in your life even when it doesn’t feel like it.

That’s why I’ve reserved one day out of every year for the last 5 years to go here:

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And tonight was that one night:

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Now, you’re probably thinking why would someone with social anxiety disorder ever go that far out of their comfort zone to attend a concert.

And my answer would be another very important question: Do you know Tech N9ne?

 

 

If you don’t know who Tech is, or Strange Music, than I suggest you climb out from underneath that 100 year old rock you’re under.

I’ve been listening to this guy since I was 11 years old, almost ten years now, and I’ve seen Strange Music get off to a slow start and steadily climb it’s way to the top of the independent charts.

I haven’t been there since the beginning, because I would have only been a few years old. And I haven’t been there since Tech started rapping because I wouldn’t have even been born.

But that being said, I am a very dedicated fan because I enjoy the philosophy behind their business, I enjoy their music, I enjoy that they explore deep concepts and mix in a little “club”, metal, or “ghetto” hip hop in with their tracks every once in a while, and I enjoy that they don’t sound like Lil Wayne, Drake, Trey Songz, Fetty Wap, or any other motherfucker who can’t seem to understand what music actually is, any motherfucker who is a puppet for the company that owns them, their songs, and their life.

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I don’t know where all of you live, but around here we have a little radio station called Kdon. And whenever a “rapper” or a hip-hop “artist” comes on, I can’t tell their voice from the person who got played just before them. Everyone sounds the same, looks the same, acts the same. That goes for pop stars too.

So I’ve clung heavily to Strange Music once I was saw the direction music was heading.

Now, some people might call me obsessed. I have two of their emblems on the back of my car, I have their license plate frame that says “Strange Music, Estb. 2000” (I was born in ’95), I have three of their lanyards, I have their mugs, I have their attire, and I have their keychains. I listen to Ces Cru, Krizz Kaliko, Rittz, MAYDAY, Stevie Stone, and Murs, and have heard at least one song from everyone signed to the label, and I’m getting a Tattoo of the labels symbol:

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There is only one person who I don’t agree with being signed, and that’s this little motherfucker right here:

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I never dis Tech for trying new things, but fuck man, this guy does not fit with the label’s sound at all. He sounds like Trey Songz and Fetty Wap had a mutant baby together that looks like Yelawolf: how does that even work?

The point is, some people say I’m obsessed. And I’m fine with that because this is something that soothes me when I’m angry, that hugs me when I’m sad, that hypes me up when I’m excited, that makes me calm when I’m anxious walking through a crowd or talking to a cashier: it helps me through the little things most people on the outside don’t get to see.

When I’m having a particularly bad day and feel like I need something or someone to understand how I’m feeling, I’ll listen to “Low” or “Alone” or “suicide letters”, when I need someone or something to understand my life with my family and health problems and memory loss I’ll listen to “Meant to Happen” or  “Fear” or “Mama Nem” or “Show Me A God”. When I want to let loose, I’ll listen to “Beautiful Music” or ” Hood Go Crazy” or “Einstein”. When I feel like being sly and gangster-like, I’ll whip out “RedRags” or “Bitch Sickness” or “JellySickle” or “Check ya Temperature” or “Questions”.

There is always a song for one of my moods. And that’s hard to accomplish because I have many of them several times a day.

It’s my comfort and in a way Strange Music saved my life. Going to the concert every year also saves my life. It’s one night for me to scream and act ridiculous and, even though I’m thinking about the 799 other people around me (we have a small club, alright?) I try to force myself not to care. I focus on who is on the stage, on the way it feels to hear a song that you’ve laughed, cried, sung, or smiled to right in your face with so much energy and heat and sweat.

I lose my voice and a lot of my stress.

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The show sells out a month before the concert every year. The lines wrap around a block in both directions: one line is for physical tickets, the other line is for VIP and on-Call. There are mosh pits (as a teenager, my first Strange concert I got thrown across the room and into the wall and my other friend and I must say, I picked myself up and told the guy who was helping me I was okay and made up my mind that I would definitely be coming back each year) and drunk people, shirts are coming off, people fuck on the balcony, the artists bring smoke machines, so when people start lighting up joints, the machine will cloud over whoever has the drugs so security can’t find the culprits.

It’s a night to go crazy before we all return to school and work and whatever other responsibilities are out there. For me, it’s a night to go crazy and ignore my anxiety and ignore everything else floating around in my head and just feel the energy in the room, feed off it, and let it, for a moment at least, melt my stress away.

Everyone needs memories like that to help them through the bad times.

If you don’t have anything, I’d suggestion going out and finding something to become healthily obsessed over.

Together we are a powerful force

As one mind, body, and soul

Let no evil enter or attempt to reduce us

Because of the beliefs we hold.

And with this love, combined with our strength

we ward off pain and stress,

Technician I am, Wholeheartedly, 

In life and in death. 

 

 

The Willingness To Change

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Here’s a challenge for you all:

Name one person who has never been nervous or skeptical of change.

Take a few seconds, I’ll wait.

.

.

.

Done? Alright, that was a trick question, of course you can’t come up with an answer. It was a joke. We have fun here. We. . . . we have fun.

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The point is when we go through moments of change our entire lives flash before our eyes: our current, comfortable lives, that is. It’s like a death or a near death experience. Change can be good or bad, but it is always traumatizing because one thing is for certain: you won’t be the same afterwards.

That alone is a terrifying thought: where will the old you go? You were so fond of that guy/girl, they always bought you chocolate when you were down, you don’t want them to leave you all alone in some unnamed territory with no fucking chocolate, that’s just rude.

But we’re rational beings and whether you have a religious/spiritual background, a secular background, or are just not quite sure whether your background exists at all, (it could or it couldn’t, who could really know anyway?), we all agree that humans have no other option on this planet than to adapt. Those who don’t . . . well, they don’t really live to argue against me, do they?

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Because we’re rational beings, we also have the ability to make choices. You’re not forced to take a promotion at work. When you have your first newborn, you’re not forced to tend to it’s needs. When that one guy with one pair of sunglasses over his eyes and one pair of sunglasses hanging from his V-neck cuts you off in traffic, you’re not forced to stifle your anger and allow him and his worn out fashion statement to live, you could just as easily murder him. I mean, good deed of the day right?

When you realize your mental health affects your functionality, you’re not forced to put the work into gaining that functionality back.

But you can.

So what we choose is just as important to the way we change and why we change as the change itself is.

What does that mean? That means we have a lot more creative freedom in this life than we think we do. Sometimes we have chains on our mind and we tell ourselves we “can’t” do this, we “can’t” do that, but those are just ways we convince ourselves to choose comfort over change.

We don’t choose to struggle mentally, but we do choose how we react to the struggle. Either it smothers us or we adapt and maneuver and find the advantages hidden underneath all the horror.

If it weren’t for the struggles I’ve been through, I wouldn’t have the interview I do on Friday.

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I’ll be an “On-Call counselor” at a local Respite house for people who have voluntarily signed themselves up for the program. There are six beds in the house run by peer staffing (the counselors), meaning everyone who works there has struggled with their own mental health, whether it be a mood disorder, a psychotic disorder, or a very, very serious or “all consuming fear” (think Severe GAD, OCD, or Agoraphobia). In the cover letter I was required to explain my mental health, as they only hire people with disorders.

The peer counselors need only a high school diploma, a disorder/mental health issue that lasted at least 3 months, and some training of which they provide. I think my degree helped me get a call back within a few hours of me applying.

This is a terrifying situation. On one hand I’ll be working one on one, or one on six depending on how hard they want to push my buttons, with the very people I want to work with once I get my degree: those with heavy psychiatric diagnosis. And I’ll be honest, I could have had the diagnoses they did had I gone to different psychologists in the past and didn’t keep to myself what I keep to myself. They could interpret a lot of things as paranoia, as mood swings, as hallucinations (well, I’ve had a few, but they are audio, far and few in between, and not harmful, so leave them alone #hallucinationlivesmatter). And it’s not as if “Cyclothymia” hasn’t been discussed. It’s not as if “Schizotypal PD” hasn’t been discussed, they all have at one point. 

Maybe I am them, maybe I’m not.

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The difference between me and the people who try and slap their diagnoses where I don’t want them, is that the things I describe I’ve lived with all my life.

I’ve always felt things watching me.

I’ve always felt I was put here with a power no one else has. I have plenty examples I won’t bore you with.

I’ve tried to contact aliens through meditation, in fact I spent months trying it, because I know I have a connection outside of this earth, I’ve felt it since I was a toddler. I was aware of things before people told me about them.

There are personalized messages for me in online ads (well, that’s true, Google tracks the shit out of you), in songs, in commercials, in simple street scenes. They let me know I’m heading in the right direction.

I’m anxious of people judging me as my social anxiety dictates, yet I’m paranoid that they create a coalition against me and lie to my face every day because people are untrustworthy and ruthless.

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I could go on for ages. The thing is, because I’ve always thought these ways, and because I’m one of the lucky few who haven’t disconnected with reality, I can accept these parts of me. I live with them. They are my normality and whether or not anyone else considers them such is irrelevant to me.

My job as one of the peer counselors is to share my story and my experience with those who will share their stories and their experience. Through active listening the goal is to teach each other and learn from each other. And I think that’s a big thing missing from the psychiatric world: there isn’t a lot of time taken to listen anymore.

Those who live in the house have freedom in the kitchen, freedom in the outdoors, and people are thankful they’re treated like adults rather than lab mice in a jail cell.

But this position will be live changing for me. It will force me to be uncomfortable. It will force me to connect with people through the feelings of inadequacy, judgement, and distrust. I know I won’t be the same person sitting at this desk after my first day there. And that’s a good thing. I’m ready for this version of myself to, well  . . .  breathe it’s last breath.

I refuse to accept my lifestyle because it’s familiar. What worked five years ago isn’t going to work today. If I’m going to be successful, I need to be willing to change.

This part of my life will always be in my memory. But it’s time to move on.

 

How I see Myself

 

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How many times in a day do you confuse yourself? 

It’s a strange question,  I know.

I don’t mean confuse yourself by picking up an item, putting it down, and then asking yourself “where did I just put that?”

I mean in terms of personality. In terms of defining why your depressed, why you’re anxious, what situations make you anxious, what situations make you depressed.

How times a day do you have trouble managing your emotions?

Mine get mixed up so heavily I feel I’m on the cusp of insanity. I can’t focus on anything, I can’t identify any feeling, every sound infuriates me and I can’t even listen to music without feeling like the lyrics are confusing my thoughts.

Like right now. Which Is why I’m struggling to write at the moment.

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When I get this way, the only emotion I can truly identify with is anger and frustration. So I listen to aggressive music and think about how happy I’d be if I saw that one Laundry worker from the healthcare center on his knees in front of the three APS agents in business suits and sunglasses.

I switch personalities quite frequently. Not in a DID sense, and not in the average sense where you switch on your “charm” to go confidently into an interview and switch off your “bitch” so the interviewer doesn’t throw you out of her office. In public, we all switch certain traits of ourselves on and off. That’s average behavior.

I switch from generally content to unbelievably aggressive/disinterested to generally depressed and suicidal and each of them have a separate personality attached to them.

My content personality is the average, one. It’s anxious and unsure and insecure about the majority of decisions I make in my life, including if someone asks me “what do you want to eat?” That personality will always beat the rest of me to the punch and say “I don’t know” in fear of insulting the other person if I pick something they don’t like. That personality gets offended to the point of tears if someone says “No, I don’t want that”. That personality feels like it’s done something equal to the social crimes of Hitler. Yes, that is my content self. 

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The depressed personality is lethargic and generally not anxious. It may be brought on by the anxiety but generally that personality will keep me locked in my room, in bed, and ignore the anxiety of missing class and ignore the anger of missing class. I might cry out of anger or sensitivity.

Contrary to what many people believe, my emotions do not have a wide range. When someone asks me what makes me happy . . . I don’t really have an answer. I have to think very hard. When someone asks me what makes me sad . . . I don’t really have an answer for it, I have to think very hard. I know the things that typically make people happy or sad, so I just say those things. Things don’t make me happy or sad, they just make me satisfied or unsatisfied.

The truth is, I’m just really good at faking it. 

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The personality of “unbelievably aggressive/disinterested” is my baseline personality. It’s completely separate from the other two. It was never developed like the others, it was always with me, therefore I consider it the baseline.

The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized my “disinterest” is in . . . well, everything.

I don’t care much about other people’s opinions. I don’t care much about what they like nor do I care to discuss their interests in length. That, to me, is “chit-chat”. I hate chit-chat.

I listen to other people’s opinions. I give them respect when they’re based on fact. I do things they like or give them things they like because I know that’s normal.

And I know as you’re reading this, perhaps your eyebrows rose and you’re thinking “and you want to be a psychiatrist? You want to listen to people?”

Here’s the thing.

How many psychologists do you know who have given up therapy because listening to the horror stories of other’s lives took a toll on their own mental health? I personally know a few.

I might not convince you, but trust me: you want someone who is capable of separating their emotions from your emotions. You want someone who can help you find logic in your illogical thought patterns.  You want someone who understands what you’re saying, and can think outside of the box you can’t for ways to use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage. You don’t want someone who will bathe you in sympathy and be just a friend. You want a helpful friend you can trust. 

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Helpful, Motherfucker!

I am a nice person. I’ve learned to be nice. I’ve learned social customs, I’ve learned how to make people laugh, and I’ve learned to tolerate things. I know that I have a gift in terms of the way I can relate to people (it’s a one-way street in this case, I don’t feel I relate/connect to anyone), the way they flock to me for advice or just so I can be an ear for them. Since I have this gift, I might as well put it to use right? That’s the logical thing to do.

My aggression got me interested in psychiatry. The blatant disregard for logic in the world of business and medicine also got me interested in psychiatry. The people get helped in the process and that’s my main goal.

This is how I see myself. A shoddy integration of three distinct personalities. How do you see yourself?

Mental Illness . . . err, sickness . . . err, Disorders.

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An interesting conversation on some forums came up yesterday about those of us who struggle mentally possibly making ourselves ill. They had the support of people until they questioned:

Now the doctor should say “try to imagine that your not mentally ill, don’t tell yourself that it’s the case, and go about your daily activities as if you aren’t ill.”, would that get many people over the depression? Physical problems are obvious, but with mental illness it’s always subjective, one may answer that I have these traits, but those could be grey areas.

After using their logic to defend their belief that if you took a lot of tests everyone would have some kind of disorder, so they wouldn’t be disorders they would be normal, they came up with the above question.

I think it’s why the person who responded to them was not on their side. Their response was:

No, it wouldn’t. Depression is epic to deal with. If a person responded to that kind of “treatment.” Then they probably didn’t have depression in the first place. And yes, there are grey areas. Where something could be depression or another issue. But that’s the same with physical illnesses. There’s often not a firm single diagnosis. The doctor will treat the most likely cause. If the treatment doesn’t fix it, they try the next most likely. And so on. Any physical illness forum will have “horror” stories. About doctors who refused to believe the actual diagnosis. And tried all the wrong treatments first. That doesn’t mean that people don’t have a genuine issue. Or that whatever it is is something they should “just get on with.”

I gave them both the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s discuss it anyway, shall we? Because one of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about stigma and self-stigma and how we as the people being stigmatized can address it in a productive way. Although that concept has gotten a little lost in my aggressive, generally satirical rants. 

I’m sure we can all agree here that telling someone “you don’t have depression” will not solve their depression.

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However, can we all agree that when we were first diagnosed, or when we’re labeled by a professional, you almost immediately get that sense of something being wrong with you? Of being clinically different than others? Of having a “chemical imbalance”?

Can we all agree that so many mental disorders listed in the DSM-V have overlapping features, and can we please agree that many of them have symptoms that could easily be misdiagnosed by a professional or exaggerated by a patient caught up in themselves after searching on the internet?

This is what the original poster mentioned about labels:

[Labeling] people with a disorder is a more polite way of saying “your a pussy”, “or your lazy”, “or pull your head out of your ass”, maybe they can’t do that, but until they test whether it is an illness and not the latter, then you can’t know.

Because they defined everyone as having some portion of mental disorder, and therefore rendering mental disorders normal behavior, they can come to this conclusion, it follows their logic.

A response to that line of text was that labels are a way for people to “Deal with a collection of symptoms” in which a method is suggested to resolve or manage said collection of symptoms.

I agree with neither of them. I don’t think a label is a way to deal with a collection of symptoms, nor do I think the doctor is calling me a pussy whether or not he’s actually thinking that, I think a label is a way to list a collection of symptoms for clinical purposes and nothing more. And yet, over the years, we’ve placed stereotypes on those symptoms, labeling them “abnormal” and “weird” or “freaky”.

Then we want to start changing the name of the label as if that would change the way people see the symptoms. Because the label is the problem here, right?

Wrong.

Stigma isn’t just people calling us lazy and unorganized and this and that. Stigma is us calling ourselves that and honestly, as an advocate for all of us, I’ve always pushed more for a transformation of how we see ourselves, rather than a transformation of how other people see us.

We can always change how we think. We can’t change how they think That’s their job. 

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That doesn’t mean we stop educating the public, it just means we focus the majority of our energy on ourselves, on how we feel about ourselves, on realizing that we’re not defective, genetically mutated, chemically imbalanced, or “Abnormal”, no matter what kind of professional documents say so.

As much as I love psychiatry and psychology, it is not in any way, shape, or form an exact science. We need to stop treating it as such.

That being said, I believe that poster had an underlying point the person responding didn’t catch: seeing ourselves as ill is a problem. Our illness isn’t a problem, obsessing over it as an “illness”, is.

depression-and-bipolar-disorderI have depression. And anxiety. It’s been severe, more severe than I let people on about. But even as a child, even when I knew there was something about me that didn’t quite match with the other children, there was only a brief period in time (a few months maybe) where I thought I was defective.

That doesn’t stop me from being depressed. However, it does stop me from worsening my depression, my anxiety, my obsessions, on my own. It stops me from worrying that my ideas of reality and death, the way I relate seeing a sign on the road to my destiny or seeing someone flash their lights as a message to me, or reading a really inspirational quote and feeling it was meant for me because I’m here for a special reason, my derealization and such, are the beginnings of something “psychotic”.

I think people in general get worried when they take a test online that tells them they’re suffering from traits of a disorder, a mental health problem, an illness.

So I took the liberty of taking a few personality tests, things I feel people go online for the majority of the time. 

Paranoid:

High (Not surprising)

more info | forum
Schizoid:

Moderate (Also not surprising)

more info | forum
Schizotypal:

High (still not surprised)

more info | forum
Antisocial:

Moderate (fucking hilarious if you know what Antisocial means)

more info | forum
Borderline:

Very High (hysterical)

more info | forum
Histrionic:

Low (honestly truthful)

more info | forum
Narcissistic:

High (fuck you)

more info | forum
Avoidant:

High (Not as ‘high’ as you think)

more info | forum
Dependent:

Very High (LOL)

more info | forum
Obsessive-Compulsive:

Very High (Yep. Totally.)

Paranoid |||||||||||| 41% 50%
Schizoid |||||||||||||| 53% 40%
Schizotypal |||||||||||| 45% 56%
Antisocial |||||||||||| 45% 46%
Borderline |||||||||| 36% 45%
Histrionic |||||| 21% 52%
Narcissistic |||||| 30% 40%
Avoidant |||||||||||| 45% 48%
Dependent |||||||||| 40% 44%
Obsessive-Compulsive |||||||||||| 44% 45%

I feel these are pretty common tests people take on the internet, I see it all the time, people self-diagnosing based on traits generalized from an automated system. And when someone sees: “Jeez, I scored 53% on Schizoid, that’s 13 percentage points above the average score!”, they google the term, find the symptoms, and two things happen:

  1. They feel they’ve finally got answers
  2. Subconsciously, they embody those criteria, they embody those symptoms. They may have legitimate struggles, but making themselves (by no real regard of their own) fit a label, they’ve essentially made themselves “sicker”.

I took a mental health assessment. Scores out of 100, animated with the following gifs of my exact reactions:

Substance Abuse: 0

kramer-yes-nod

MDD: 92

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Manic Episodes: 43 (keep in mind, I answered ‘sometimes’ to the ONE question that spoke about “feeling elated” and I answered never on the ONE  question about impulsive behaviors, spending, gambling, sexual encounters.)

dvjnujlvs6yeyeyhtjil_confused20mark20wahlberg

Bipolar Disorder: 99

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GAD: 100

Panic Disorder: 58

Panic attacks: 53

I took several more. Psych Central thinks I have Borderline Personality Disorder and so does “Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified”. Healthyplace also thinks I have BPD, but they also think I have schizophrenia so go figure. Psych Central disagrees and says I do not have schizophrenia.

What do I gather from all of this?

over-under_yale-wolf_nothing_2_u_1000

Because what people don’t understand about these things are how bullshit the questions are. If someone truly has magical thinking, do you think they’re going to know what that entails? They’ll most likely mark “never”. Most of the questions are generalized, provide no concrete examples, and would be better at rating the consistency level of a healthy dog’s bowel movement than anything about my personality or mental health.

My advice?

Use personality tests for fun. Don’t even use them to “see if you have traits” of a disorder. It’s just not accurate enough for that.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, avoid the internet, it bullies you into believing it. If you’re struggling with your mental health, see a few professionals and get some different opinions.

Don’t take their diagnosis as a life sentence. Don’t take what they say as words from a religious text. You really are as sick as you think you are.

You could struggle with the worst disorder known to man, and as long as you don’t limit yourself, no one else can limit you.

I’m not saying what people experience on a daily basis is a lie. What I’m saying is that it exists, but not in the terms the medical business puts it in. It exists, it’s manageable, and the better we feel about who we are, the easier it is to live with ourselves.

I figure that’s pretty solid common sense.

I’m going to sleep. It’s 5:18 a.m

My Fucks Are On The Curb

5-things-to-consider-before-applying-for-a-job-691ee3b7b5

Perhaps I forgot to mention I have another job.

Yep, I flip through jobs faster than my moods change.

I’m a housekeeper at a nursing home exactly one minute from my apartment. I walk to work: I’m serious, I can see it from my bedroom window. It’s right there. Right across the street.

Today I had my orientation and . . . and let me tell you. Let me tell you something.

I’ve had my fill of people already. It’s not looking good, folks, I’ll make sure to round up some more applications and you can tune in next blog post to see which other job I hop to.

Fucks sake.

There were two other women doing the orientation with me as first. They were applying for CNA positions. They were mother and daughter. They would not, could not . . .

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

I fucking hate, and I mean HATE, casual chatter. It is human kind’s single most useless skill.

I mean this in the most respectful way possible: they would not shut the fuck up. They kept telling stories about their lives, about their schooling, about how they went for a quick “Two month” program because they’d been working as nursing assistants for a while (the mother for ten years, the daughter who fucking knows, she was 14 in 2008, I was 13 in 2008) but had never been officially “registered”. She worked for a place where her boss got hammered, never showed up for work, and she got stuck working 13 hour shifts at night.

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The guy doing our orientation is a nice guy. I could tell. He was too nice. He let them take over the conversation sometimes and the lot of them had a nurse-threesome while I sat in the corner staring into spacing waiting for this bullshit to end.

I can tell there are cliques. CNA’s stick with CNA’s, RN’s stick with RN’s and the fucking physicians spend two minutes wandering around the facility dressed in their fancy clothes with their stethoscopes and then they take them and their fucks and they leave off to wherever the hell they go.

The kitchen staff? They stare blankly at you like you’re an alien.

A fourth woman, also applying for a CNA position, came an hour and a half late. She was from Kenya.

The orientation guy kept saying the word “Bloodborne” in terms of pathogens, but I kept hearing “Bloodborne” the video game. I kept getting myself confused. Legitimately. I asked myself once, “why is he talking about Bloodborne?”

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The orientation often got interrupted by stories of the mother and daughter duo and their tattoos and piercings. Once again. I don’t give a fuck.

We had to watch training videos. Now, I’m relatively alright around the elderly, they generally like me because I’m quiet and smile a lot (little do they know how utterly fucking annoyed I am inside) and I let them talk. I’m used to short term memory loss because of my father, I’m used to brain damage-type behavior because of my father, I’m generally alright with being around psychosis and mania, because of my father’s reaction to Ativan and a woman I used to talk to who was part of a residential mental health facility. She used to walk around the block sometimes manic, sometimes psychotic, talking about the most random shit and on my way home from high school I’d stop and talk with her until I had to go over the railroad tracks and she had to go back to the facility.

That does not mean I do not get tired after two and a half hours of talking with an elderly woman obviously in the midst of a mental disease. She kept repeating the same questions to me over and over again “are you alright? Alright, that’s good. Are you hungry? No? Are you going to eat? Are you all going to eat?” and once she pointed at me and said, about four times, that Jesus had told her this morning that I would be coming to make her happy today.

Knowing me and my tendency to link everything to everything, that freaked me out a little #Trigger-moment.

Then she pointed at my feet and said “is that yours? Is that yours? You should pick it up. Pick it up and put it in your pocket.”

I thought she was talking about my shoe, so I lifted it and asked “this?”

She pointed at the floor and said “no, that. Is that yours? You should pick it up.”

how-to-tile-a-floor-step-by-step
A generally accurate representation of what we all saw her pointing at.

One of the new hire CNA’s picked some air up for me and I put it in my pocket.

Then she started singing the star spangled banner. Loudly.

She liked calling me Irene. In fact, she called all four of us Irene. And she liked alluding me to Jesus, calling me beautiful, a prophet, and that I’m the boss around here, that when I walk down the hall people know who I am. Again: freaked me out a little. Had to rub my ears and blink a little to make sure I wasn’t also hallucinating.

She asked the Kenyan woman if “the little one” was hers and pointed. We stared where she was staring. The Kenyan woman tried to reason her out of the hallucination, that she did indeed have ” a little one” but that little one was at home and she was only four years old. It didn’t work very well.

I generally enjoyed this woman. She was from Hawaii, and if you could yell in her ear loud enough for her to hear you, she gave coherent answers sometimes. But the majority of the time it was just babble, hallucinations, and an odd growl she kept exuding. After two and a half hours of simultaneously watching some boring ass 80’s video about HIV while also trying to be kind to the woman spouting nonsense, I had a headache, was thoroughly irritated, and had had enough of the fucking chatter box next to me.

Not the elderly woman, the fucking new CNA’s. The daughter, the one my age, kept trying to fast forward the DVD because they’d “seen it before”, and they almost broke the fucking DVD player and the T.V.

d0f003ca7a05ae5597d501f95c185d4d1d1c75121b843d0899a87d4931ad3696I don’t mean to be cocky, but I was sitting there like bitch, I’ve read more books about your profession than you did in that two month course you took when I was fifteen, stop acting like you’re someone, sit the fuck down, and be professional. You don’t see me spouting all my knowledge about the brain, dementia, Alzheimer’s, hallucinations, ativan, and other things do you? No. So sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up before I do get smart and shove one of those DVD’s up your ass.

At this point I was NOT in the mood for the disorganization of this system. We got a tour of the facility in which the guy giving us the orientation caught six health code violations his employees were doing right under his nose. Within the first two minutes of the tour. Things he said they always did no matter how many times he told them to quit.

I said I could work tomorrow. The guy in the orientation took me to the administrator to ask where I should report in the morning and he spent a few minutes running around looking for the housekeeper. They started speaking Spanish to each other. They stared at me.

I stared him dead in the eye and said, as calmly as I could at this point, “I don’t speak motherfucking Spanish.”

Minus the “motherfucking” part

He, being obviously CONFUSED because he was yet another person to NOT ask me if I fucking spoke Spanish and just assumed because I’m tan, apologized and said I would meet up with this woman (I forgot her fucking name already) in the morning at 7.

Where the fuck am I supposed to find her? I asked twice. He just kept saying to meet with her.

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How do we clock in? We fucking don’t. We grab a piece of paper, write in the time we came in, the times we go out for lunch, the time we leave, fold the paper and slip it in a box until we get employee ID numbers and can use the automated system like normal people.

The problem is, no one told us if we fill it out right when we get in or after our shift. Where do we keep it if we fill it in in the morning? How do we known when to take our lunch? Where the FUCK are the superiors in this fucking place?

They also forgot to mention I needed Scrubs.

Which I handily remembered at 4:20 P.m and called just in time to catch the administrator and ask. This entailed I drive to a Goodwill and pray I could find some last minute without blood stains on them. I did.

I’ve been suffering mini anxiety attacks over this place already and I haven’t even started yet. I assume once I go into the flow of things, once I figure out how to clock in correctly and where to go, I’ll be working on my own like normal and generally keep to myself.

Thank God. This place is letting my inner Schizoid Personality out. I could honestly give two shits. The residents are fine, I’ll say hi, how are you, smile and hopefully make them smile by default. But everyone else I refuse to fake for. I’m done faking.

As for now, since I have no idea where to go tomorrow or what to do, I’ve convinced myself that it’s time to stop giving a fuck. I give out way too many fucks in a day, it makes me anxious.

So I’m emptying out my fucks.

I’m pouring them on the curb right in the red zone so no more SUV’s can park there and block my vision. I’m sure you all remember that rant. I drew pictures. Me. That’s how you know I’m pissed off, when I use my shitty artistic skills to illustrate a point.

I’m going to leave the fucks there. So if some of you feel you need to start giving a fuck more often, there’s a few hundred outside my apartment for free. Take them. They’re no use to me.