Career Shameer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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.

This Is Why You’re Depressed

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Let me explain from the beginning.

Perhaps if you’re just tuning into this website, you’re not quite sure what it’s about or why after all these months I’ve decided to make another post. Well, let me say that not everyone who disappears never reappears. There are some of us writers who need long breaks, vacations, a little time to go crazy in the comfort, or discomfort, of their own room. The latter, applying heavily to me.

I preach. I am a preacher. I preach self-care, self-love. I preach happiness and the dual meaning within it. I preach the importance and skill of being mindful of your emotions, your own inner processes, and the pain which accompanies those two things. I also work at Second Story Peer Respite, a place which values communication, peer support, and mutuality. If you’d like to hear a bit about Second Story, click here. If you’re confused on what a respite house is, click here. Click both, if you have the time.

I struggle in practicing what I preach, and with communication, which is why this website first started out as a whiny, self-centered blog that a bunch of people liked because my sarcasm was over 9000, especially in regards to Alex Gorsky. It’s since turned into something greater, and is still building despite my hiatus. We talk about mental health in different ways here, examining critical perspectives, and every once in a while I post another personal article like this one. I like openness, and for you to know the person behind the virtual paper.

In September 2017, I wasn’t doing well. If you know dissociation, you know the feelings of leaving this world for another. The feeling of unreality and reality merging into one big blur. At home it seemed whenever I walked through the door I’d get called some version of bitch, motherfucker, lazy ass–something derogatory–and that’s a very hard environment to live in for 22 years. I felt myself getting depressed. I’m well versed in depression, since age 10, and knew I’d need to ride this out. So I gripped for dear life.

Why didn’t I speak with anyone? A peer? My psychologist? My Boyfriend? I’m not sure. Sometimes there are things in life you can’t explain, and this is one of them.

But then things were better. I could wake up for work with energy, I engaged with guests at the house, happily too! I felt connected and strong. And then the Las Vegas shooting happened.

Like a lot of people, I was affected. Watching the videos of people running for their life, ducking for their life, screaming for their life, holding onto their loved ones whose blood is splattered across the dirt, hearing the gunshots fire without remorse–all of it was quite traumatic for many, no one more so than those there.

But I became obsessed. I started listening to the conspiracies, believing them. I stopped sleeping, I wasn’t eating regularly (two heavy self-care things) and I knew something was off, but I’d felt this way before–ride it out, you’ll make it, just like the depression: you’ll make it.

Then I went to take some cash out of an ATM two weeks later. Worst mistake of my life.

As I stepped from my car, conspiracies repeating themselves over in my mind in the form of thoughts and voices, I glanced at the grey haired woman with the white stripe. Her eyes locked into mine, her smile sly. I frowned behind my sunglasses. Her head was twisted around–all the way around, like an owl. And she stared. She stared so hard, I knew she was attempting to penetrate my mind. And this is where my memory gets a little foggy.

What I do remember is that, in that moment, I knew possession was to blame for all of this, including the shooting; it only made sense, considering the police couldn’t find a motive at that time. And so I sped home. And I wrote all of this down. Somewhere.

What I do believe, what I’ve always believed, what I’ve been running from since I was a kid, is bad spirits, that I’m here for a reason on earth, perhaps not to preach but to bring some kind of light to the world. And I believe there are spirits attempting to prevent that, and that the Vegas shooting was their way of getting close to me. They split themselves into that man, the woman at the ATM, my family, and my coworkers.

Drama at work lead me to mistrust every body in the house, even people not involved, and I believed they were possessed. I believed it fully. I didn’t tell them that, but I believed it. Have you ever told someone you thought they were possessed? Imagine the conversation. Especially if they really are possessed. Demons don’t like being revealed.

It makes you wonder: you went to work during all this? Yes, I did. If you’ve read the articles above, you’ll understand why. Regardless of what was going on, it was still my sanctuary.

I don’t hear voices as frequently as others, usually when I’m stressed I expect them and they come, and I was very stressed. They often followed me into my dreams, and into the waking world, where they told me 1/3 of my body had been possessed as well. They’d taken me down into hell to show me their truth and some rotted, tortured corpses and sent a killer after me who chased me through my dreams and into the waking world, once again. I guess that sounds a bit like Freddy Kruger. I think I watched that movie too often as a child.

Anyway, bottom-line: I wasn’t safe as I slept and I wasn’t safe when I was awake, so I stopped sleeping: I like to see my death coming.

As work drama died down for the others, it only intensified for me. I learned things that made me feel not only betrayed by many, but disturbed. Rather than take some time away, I picked up more than my usual two shifts a week. Twice in a row I worked four or five days, on only a few hours of sleep, while being chased, tormented, and screamed at. I’m not sure how I do the things I do.

I wanted to die. And so I said that. Against my wishes, I was transferred to a hospital 45 minutes away. Best mistake of my life. I got out of town, away from work, away from my family, and away from my town: every source of stress in one swoop.

If you look at the quotes on this website, you’ll infer hospitals, psychiatric medication, and the mental health industry is not something I agree with regularly. This hospital softened a spot in my heart for it all. Not for the corruption, the publication bias, and the lying research, but for the idea that compassionate people do indeed work in this industry, regardless of how clueless they are.

Each staff knew my work place. In fact, they encouraged me to quit: I’m too young and too fragile. I certainly didn’t take that advice, I’ve never been too young or too fragile for anything, quite obviously.

But there was one woman, one nurse, who tuned into something greater than myself, something hidden within my subconscious which she must have seen in my eyes given we’d never spoken. She called me out of the day room, away from my comedic happy place, and into a group room. She asked me why I wanted to die. No filibuster, no opening joke. I appreciated that.

She shared some stories, some words of wisdom. She asked me how I grew up, she asked me about home life, she gathered the facts and truths and she made me repeat something she used to tell herself: “I am enough, I have enough.” I thought it silly, particularly since she made me repeat it a million times, until I found myself balling–and not from the torture of repetition, but something deeper, perhaps feelings I hadn’t yet touched. She asked me when everything started: the voices, the paranoia, the depression, and I told her. She only had one thing to say as a response: It’s a gift.

Something I’d known myself, but it came with greater weight from someone who really had no idea who I was besides what she gathered during this moment we’d shared.

Back in my room that night as I read Plague of Doves by Louise Eldritch, the same nurse knocked on the door and slipped some papers into my hands, one of which was a quote:

“Everything is energy; and that is all their is. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.” –Albert Einstein.

I’m not a big Einstein buff, but I am a physics buff, and philosophy buff, both of which I’m working on degrees towards. She had no knowledge of this, but she grasped on something about me, perhaps the way I spoke, the metaphors I used. And I thanked her graciously for her taking the time to connect with me. She didn’t have to. Only one other nurse did that out of the five or so I interacted with.

So why did she give me this quote? Well, I could go into the relative explanation. I could go into the different theories which support this fact that energy is everything, including the holographic principal. But I won’t bore you all that way, I’m sure I’ve done it in other older posts.

What I’m around, who I’m around, how life is in general, the energy of life, influences your mentality, and if you remain in that mentality it’s all you will attract. It sounds like something out of that quack book “The Secret”, but there is some truth to it. I’m not saying everyone can just snap out of whatever they’re dealing with, if that were true we’d be a perfect society. I’m certainly not snapped out of what I went through. But I am more conscious of myself, my environment, and I’m back in tune with my gut, whether or not it leads me astray sometimes. Because when you disconnect from yourself you disconnect from everyone else, and everything else.

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Will I continue this website? Will I be posting more frequently again? Will the content still be as sarcastic and beautiful as the old days? Yes, yes, and oh yes. Tune in for more.

 

 

Reality Vs. Fantasy

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Sometimes I question whether we really can make a distinction between the two.

I liken it to the idea of normal versus abnormal. And the idea of stupid questions. Those of you who have been following me for a while can either guess where I’m going with this or you’re getting ready to flip away from this post because fuck she’s at it again.

The brain is a fingerprint. We’ve established this, correct? Either you have established it through your own observation of the world, or you’ve established it through the multitudes of neuroscience research supporting it. So the idea of “normality” is simply a social construction: it changes over time and it’s defined by a culture. To say that I’m not normal is to remind yourself that neither are you and neither is anyone else. That in itself nullifies the idea of abnormality and normality in one fellow swoop.

I drive a white car. If you walk up to me while I’m in my car, and you are not in any way color impaired, and you ask me if my car is white, well, that’s a stupid fucking question.

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Don’t believe all your grade school teachers who used to say “no question is a stupid question”.

There are tons of stupid questions. Like when the professor clearly says “don’t pay attention to the statistics” and you raise your hand a second later and ask if you should pay attention to the statistics.

What am I talking about again?

Fantasy and reality, that’s right.

The last time I checked, there was no clear distinction between either. We can only live in the reality that we observe, so to be bold enough to say that this reality is the only reality makes me wonder how you walk around with those hundred pound balls between your legs.

This makes me wonder what in the world I could be missing–what we all could be missing. We’re such limited creatures, stuck in a world where all you know is what’s in front of your eyes, and even then you don’t really know those things, you just see them. Is seeing really indicative of every truth imaginable? From my experiences, definitely not.

What’s the point of this, you may ask?

Well for those of us whose reality perhaps is not the best, who wish they could get away from their parents, or their spouse, or themselves, I think it’s best to remember that it’s okay if reality doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing in the Book of Life that says you have to be %200 sure of anything. There’s nothing that says your reality has to mimic everyone else’s and there’s nothing that says if your reality is horrible now it will always be horrible.

There’s nothing in the Book of Life that even says any of us are really human. I’ve known since I was a toddler I wasn’t from here, no way in hell. And the older I got, the stronger that sense became. And no, it’s not because of fucking Trump, and if I hear one more thing about him, I’ll explode.

I’m not telling you to be happy with whatever shitty situation you’re in right now. What I am saying is understand it’s okay to be there. And it’s okay to hate it. And it’s okay to be confused. Because it’s okay to live, whatever that means for you.

Neurology, The Side Chick

With the intention of speaking words of the otherworldly, I opened this page and now have lost sight of my original motivation.

So I’ll just let the words flow like water.

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Today I had conversations filled with self-acceptance, Dr. Dre, Greek Gods and Goddesses, George Washington, free-style rap, the energy in your pancreas, and meditation. Were I able to repeat the actual words of the conversation, I wouldn’t want to. They were personal and private.

What is this thing call self-acceptance after all? Is it some mysterious being that makes you happy with yourself? Or is it the act of being happy with yourself even when you’re not happy? Is it the act of feeling your emotions without stuffing them away? Seems to me you can’t accept who you are if you’re constantly stuffing away your thoughts, your feelings, and yourself deeper and deeper until they’re gone completely–that’s self-deprivation, a form of self mutilation, if you ask me. Your emotions, your moods, they’re there for a reason, and the reason isn’t to be ignore. It isn’t to be stuffed down or waived away as a defect of your mind. They’re there to remind you of how human you really are.

If you stuff away your humanity, well, no wonder life becomes so miserable.

Granted, I’m not a human. But that’s another story for another time.

I’ve lost my sarcastic spark recently because, if you all remember, a lot of my sarcasm revolved around my own personal anger issues and my fiery hatred for the mental health industry. I mistook it for passion, I really did. I mistook it so easily for passion, it scares me.

That hatred had been sutured on my soul. I never took for granted a moment I could trash talk Big Pharma, psych hospitals, or psychiatrists who prescribe one year old’s Risperdal to parents who couldn’t even spell the word if their life depended on it. But that hatred has long dissipated. In fact, it’s fallen away, rotten and diseased, like a rejected skin graft.

I’ve lost my passion for psychiatry, because it was never about psychiatry. I just wanted to be around the people who dealt with the same kinds of things I did, and I knew being a psychiatrist you often dealt with people who had “odd” beliefs, who heard voices or struggled with trust issues in this reality and others, mood issues, e.t.c.

I do that now. What the hell do I need psychiatry for?

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Me In College

I didn’t expect for me to lose interest so quickly in something I’ve been studying, literally, since I was fifteen years old. That’s six years. I’ve got so much pharmacology and medication and industry and research knowledge that sometimes I don’t know what to do with it. Now I’m thinking, IF i choose to stay in college, I may go for Neurology.

But one thing is for certain, I can’t stop what I’m doing now.

I know I have many issues I still need to work on. My anxiety is fucking Cthulu, my trust issues are like Jack The Ripper and murders every possibility of having a connection with a hoe who gets near me, and my social skills are dark matter: can’t see it, can’t hear it, not even sure if it exists. Those are the things I’m struggling with. Fuck any voices I hear or things I see, fuck the occult shit, fuck all–all that is normal. I hate the word normal, but I’m using it here because I feel ten times more comfortable with myself when I’m indulged in those things than if I’m outside and fronting against anxiety or trying to blend in with the crowd. THAT shit feels weird. It makes my skin crawl.

I don’t see that as me being broken or sick or “abnormal”. I see it as everyone else being just a little off their rocker too. Who buys clothes just because a rapper has them? Fucking weird dude. You call me weird? You’re copying a multi-million dollar superstar with a cheap knock off, just to look cool in front of your friends. And I’m the one with the problems. Yeah. Right.

Dude. People bought Yeezys. People buy iphones just because they’re iphones. Come ON

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I’ve probably said this before, but I didn’t talk to other kids when I was a kid. I didn’t have friends. So the world in my head, all the talking cars and the personalities I spoke to that helped me become the fiction writer I am today, all that? THAT was my normal, and I never had any reason to feel wrong for it. Me being quiet and reserved and having trouble communicating–that I got scolded for. That I still struggle with feeling wrong and bad about. See the connection?

Imagine if I would have told my teachers the truth, about the feelings I got at night trying to go to bed, the other worldly forces watching me, the characters in my head that spoke to me, that consoled me when I had trouble, that wrote the brilliant things they called “advanced”. Imagine what would have happened to me. The thought makes me shudder.

At this point I”m just babbling. I would like to continue my involvement in peer support. I don’t really want psychiatry anymore. It’s like that one used up hoe you pounded when you were drunk and feeling powerful and then you woke up so close to her you could almost taste the night’s sweat still on her and realized she a rachet-ass, bat-lipped-ass, saggy-titty-ass, stank-breath-ass hoe. That’s psychiatry to me right now.

Peer Support is like the gorgeous girl working as a cashier during the day and attending school at night and taking care of her kid and struggling to survive but understanding that she can make it, so she smiles at you when you set your items on the belt.

Neurology can be the okay-ass side chick, I suppose.

I wonder how long it’s been since I used the term mental disorder and actually meant it? It’s been a long time. It feels good to have that removed from my tongue. It was starting to leave a stale taste in my mouth.

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Vulnerability

A man is born gentle and weak.

At his death, he is hard and stiff.

Green plants are tender and filled with sap. At their death, they are withered and dry.

Therefore, the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death,

The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.

Thus, an army without flexibility never wins a battle.

A tree that is unbending is easily broken.

The hard and strong will fall;

The soft and weak will overcome.

–Lao Tsu

This becomes a testament to the importance of vulnerability, the importance of being connected with the present, of essentially “going with the flow”.

Often those of us who struggle mentally are praised for being so “strong”, so “resilient” to the things we go through, and often those who are the strongest of us are the ones suffering greatly, more so than those giving us the “compliment” may actually perceive. It takes much more energy to build (and maintain) walls than it does to crumble under the force.

There’s this odd sentiment among people that you always have to “fight back”. That the prospect of being vulnerable leaves one open for attack  . . .

Attack from?

They try and tell us we’re paranoid.

If you believe you’ll be attacked, you will be attacked. By your own mind.

Being rigid in mind and body leaves you trapped, encased in your own personal hell. Being flexible in mind and agile in body leaves you, well, like this: the-matrix-billboard

If you’re flexible in mind and body, you’ll learn to absorb different forces and push them back as a reflex. If you’re stiff and rigid, what hits you will bounce off . . . until the force is large enough and breaks you.

There’s nothing wrong with struggling. There’s nothing wrong with feeling weakened. There’s nothing wrong with being flimsy or flexible or agile. There’s nothing wrong with vulnerability.

There’s something wrong with thinking you can absolutely handle everything thrown at you with a smile on your face. There’s something wrong with thinking being “strong” means “being closed”. There’s something wrong with thinking resiliency is the ability to turn every negative into a positive–particularly, when you turn that negative into a positive without ever focusing on, and growing from, that negative.

There’s something wrong with the idea that focusing upon negativity drives you downward. Dwelling on the negative, perhaps, but focusing upon it for the purpose of confrontation, for the purpose of learning, is how a negative makes a transformation into a positive. Recognizing a negative, saying “oh well”, then “finding” a positive within the negative does nothing but allow you to ignore the feelings of the negative. If you can’t embrace negativity, what makes you think you can embrace positivity? They’re one in the same.

You can’t experience positivity without having ever experienced negativity. And Visa Versa. It’s the concept of Yin-Yang: love cannot exist without hate, evil cannot exist without good, and you could never tell one from the other if you have never experienced both. Hence interconnection.

I can preach twenty four hours, seven days a week. Some people with disagree, some people will agree, other’s won’t understand what the hell is wrong with me, and really none of it matters. Everyone has their way of life and I respect that. However, I’ve seen the damage of being this kind of “resilient”, of being this kind of “Strong”, and it’s done nothing but create more mental strain than any of my apparent “illnesses” could.

Life is a cycle. Pain is a cycle. We don’t categorize death into right or wrong, than why do we categorize people’s pain as such? Why is one type of pain disordered and wrong, but another average and understandable?

HINT: Everything on earth is understandable if you take the time to climb off your high horse and understand it.

 

 

The Tao (Pt. 1)

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We get caught up, often, in the material part of the world, the part of the world that’s surface-level compared to what some would call “The Truth”. There are many truths for many people in the forms of religions, philosophies, anarchists, e.t.c. I’m not one who could consciously say any belief of anyone else is false, wrong, or ignorant. Everyone handles the struggles of life differently and that constancy will never change.

As for me, I don’t much affiliate with any religious preference, although I many teaching from many different religious texts, and I don’t much claim to be a philosopher with any set belief, although I’m entertained deeply by some western philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche. I’m not one to claim science over God, gods, deities, e.t.c, either.

I’m spiritually connected to the parts of my indigenous culture I’ve been able to learn about. I’m also engrossed heavily with Taoism (known as Daoism, or dào jiào, more correctly). For this article I’ll refer to it as Taoism and “The Tao”, because it’s what I’ve noticed a lot of people are more familiar with.

For those who aren’t aware, Taoism is one philosophy indigenous to China (6th century B.C, Laozi). Some call it a religion, but I’m more inclined to consider it a philosophy; there is no set creator like in Christian or Catholic religions. Although the cosmos and The Tao are the universe and the creation of, neither are worshiped.

First and foremost, let’s consider The Sage, as this understanding encompasses the majority of what the beliefs surround. Essentially, this is someone who is in completely harmony with her surroundings, in their environment as well as in the universe. What does this mean? Briefly, it means this person has gained a wisdom extending beyond intellect and instead enriched with an intuitive understanding of life.

“Rank and Reward make no appeal to her. Disgrace and shame do not deter her. She is not always looking for right and wrong. The world is ruled by letting things take their course”.

–Chang Tzui

We’re all capable of embodying these characteristics because they are all parts of our humanity.

As a way express and embody this, Toaism is birthed. The Tao is considered “the way” the-secret-book-cover-250x357or “the path”. It’s how we perceive and interact with the world around us, and how we interpret that reality influences our path of action. Do you all know that book “The Secret”? This book? They’re putting a really westernized twist on this philosophy of The Tao. 

The most important thing to understand, in my mind’s view, is that all of life, every manifestation of life, is part of this whole that is inseparable, an interconnected organic unity from The Tao itself. Life’s forces are attracted to balance because it’s their nature to do so. Sound familiar? It should; it’s pretty damn similar to the basis of The Law of Inertia, one of Newton’s three law’s of motion–an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by some unbalancing force. Essentially, it’s this “natural tendency” for things to say in the state they are in, unless they’re disturbed.

How can relate this to ourselves and the Universe? Well, we have a couple choices as humans, and one choice is to follow this “Way”, and “go with the flow” as you will, ot we can choose to do the opposite and remain disconnected from life.

As someone with indigenous American roots, this speaks volumes to me. My ancestors lived a life conducive with nature, with the cosmos, not one which ruled the land and claimed the Earth as “ours”. There was violence, there was hierarchy, yes, but with nature they were one and connected to life.

7030828-3d-yin-yangYin-Yang is also important to talk about here. This is the principal of change and harmony. They’re primal energies, not opposites as many think. They’re complimentary to each other: in other words, Yin creates Yang and Yang creates Yin. You can only know pain because there is happiness. You can only know good because there is evil.

This leads to the conclusion that one shouldn’t ever get intertwined in contradictions like right and wrong, to choose one over the other. Instead, we should only recognize their relatedness.

How can we relate this to ourselves? Well, how often do we find ourselves, especially those of you who are my mental health peers, picking at ourselves over parts of us we dislike, or disowning parts of ourselves? That’s fighting against the natural balance of things. In other words, although times are tough now, every force in life, including that which lies within us, strives for balance and we can’t achieve that balance within ourselves by fighting what must happen. If that means a shitty period in life, a horrible mental break down, or manic episode or days upon months upon years of hearing voices or anxiety or depression, than what’s what it means.

It’s not giving in. It’s recognizing that this reality is here, and to try and eradicate it would be like trying to erase a negative current from electricity just because it isn’t positive. Eradication is not balance. That’s like removing your left eye and then wondering why you can’t see out of it anymore.

There are two other areas I would like to speak of, the “Te”, which is the principal of inner nature, and the Wu-Wei principal of “non-doing”, but I’ll save that for a different post. As of now, I’d like to share two translations I found in a book at work, coupled with the Chinese writings of each.

“In the pursuit of learning, everyday something is acquired.

In the pursuit of Tao, everyday something is dropped.

Less and less is done,

until non-action is achieved.

When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.

It cannot be ruled by interfering.”

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“The beginning of the universe

Is the mother of all things.

Knowing the mother, one also knows the sons.

Knowing the sons, yet remaining in touch with the mother,

brings freedom from the fear of death.

Keep your mouth shut,

Guard the senses,

And life is ever full.

Open your mouth,

Always be busy,

And life is beyond hope.

Seeing the small is insight,

Yielding to force is strength.

Using the outer light, return to insight

And in this way be saved from harm.

This is learning constancy.”

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Law Of Conversation Of Oppression

In yesterday’s post, I established my footing in why constantly seeking control in a world powered by chaos effectively leads to a vain existence. Today I will establish my footing in why we are only as free as our most oppressed members of society.

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My heart lies with many societies with factions of people held down under tyranny and dictatorship and religious ideologies that restrict general rights. Being that I consider myself a mental health blogger, I’d like to talk specifically about stigmas and the oppression those of us with such issues might encounter.

Let’s just not forget there are people out there in the world suffering through levels of oppression that keep them from simply having a life.

At any rate, stigma is a huge topic these last few years. Everyone is gunning for the big guys: the media that shows serial killers with voices in their head, or the OCD Target sweater scandal, e.t.c. I’ve advocated for a few years now that rather than force people to view us as regular people, we should group together, support each other, and show them that we’re just regular people wanting just as much respect and trust as any other human being.

My view today is no different. It was, however, squashed a bit today. I want to give my apologies beforehand out to the mental health community, my peers, as I’ve let us all down a bit today.

Walking through a market my boyfriend and I were mesmerized by some gift boxes and sets. I ran off towards the candles and soaps which I often sniff until I get a headache, and he bolted off with his eyes on the gift baskets of food and popcorn and hot sauce. As we walked side by side, a woman in the aisle over stood with another man. He was slender, tall, dark hair, but very pale and skittish. He held behind him one of the market baskets. The woman seemed boisterous, an attitude mirrored by the frizz in her hair.

Suddenly she blurted words from her mouth that I didn’t catch over the music of the market. She then spun, faced the man, and shouted very blatantly: “No! You have a MENTAL DISORDER, you don’t think right!” 

There were a few words after that crucial line I didn’t catch. My boyfriend and I stared at each other. The man she’d shouted at muttered a tentative “oh”. He fiddled with the basket in his hands. By the time we turned around the aisle, they’d wandered off.

I watched her across the store floor. She talked and talked. The man followed, silent, carrying the basket. I couldn’t guess their relation or age if I tried; it didn’t matter anyhow. 

Driving away, my boyfriend and I both agreed we should have spoken up. I’m not sure why he felt he didn’t, but as I drove home I thought heavily on why I didn’t. I’ve spoken up in situations like that before. I’ve stopped to help strangers and I always say hello to the people in society others won’t make eye contact with.

But for some reason I froze in this situation, and I believe it has much to do with being used to the abuse. I’m used to people thinking the way that woman thinks: you have mental issues, you can’t do things normally. I’m even used to myself telling myself those words.

8fc0a3d3374a8dd7f78114e206f79305And the more I came to this realization, the more I regretted my silence. He needed support. He needed a reminder that words like that were opinion and not truth. He needed someone in his corner in a world where many people are in the corner of the woman.

He was oppressed by a simple sentence, and in turn I was as well; he wasn’t free so I couldn’t be free. That’s how my subconscious reacted in the moment.

I don’t like playing by the rules of the bystander effect. I never have in the past and now that I have, I feel filthy for it. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

As I always have, and always will, I encourage you: we’re all in this together. Don’t freeze like me. If someone speaks to you in a manner as blatantly (or subtly) disrespectful as that woman did because of a mental health struggle, a physical health struggle, your religious preference, your attire, whatever is a part of you, don’t mutter “oh”. Don’t fiddle. And remember, an opinion is an opinion. No matter how many times people beat you with words, you can always beat them back with class and intelligence; chances are if they’re using a bunch of words to hurt, they don’t understand the magic of language and in my book if you don’t understand the magic of language then there’s probably a lot of other things your small brain can’t understand.

If you see someone being obviously verbally/mentally abused or disrespected, forget the weird notion that “it’s not your business”. Allowing someone to be hurt in any way possible means you’d be willing to let yourself be hurt in the same way–would you? If not, than it is your business. Not your obligation of course, by all means take out your cell phone and post a video to Facebook. You might go viral and get on the news and everyone will treat you as a hero instead of a bystander. 

As for me, I won’t step back next time, particularly for my peers who I care deeply about.

We’re only as free as our most oppressed members of society.

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The True Qualms Of Existence

A couple years ago, a philosophy professor of mine advised our class to never think about how suddenly we could all die. In fact, she urged us not to as we’d eventually go mad. However, me being me, I thought about it very heavily the moment she made her statement.

I don't think...and yet here I am.

I could poof from existence as I write this. You could poof out of existence as you read this. Perhaps we both poof out of existence at the same moment and because our subatomic particles are somehow entangled, our souls end up in the same version of some afterlife where we can spend our wispy eternity together, haunting people in Halloween stores and hiding as the monster under some kid’s bed.

Death is a serious topic. It touches everyone’s life at least once, usually more often. The older we get, the more we have to endure the passing of friends and family; it’s one reason most people say they wouldn’t enjoy the gift of everlasting physical life.

I cannot and will not claim I understand the full amount of grief someone undergoes after losing someone close to them. I’ve seen the impact it can have: I’ve seen it at work, at home, and heard it from friends. I’ve seen that it can cause turmoil and insurmountable pain and it gives me the greatest respect for this thing we call life: something so elusive, so sudden, so dark, has so much power.

People are afraid of the unknown, right? Those of religious faith perhaps not so much as they know what to expect at the end of their life. But for the rest of us, there is a level of uncertainty and perhaps even arrogance around the idea of death. That we can cheat it with some pills. That we can speculate theoretical possibilities with math and physics to keep our mind off the possibility that perhaps death is just nothingness.

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Never have I ever experienced the death of someone close to me. There are members of my family who have passed away who I had only met once. My pet passed away when I was ten.

There is one instance in which I thought perhaps death would hit close to home. Most of you are aware of my father’s alcoholism history, which he still battles today. During the time he first began having serious withdrawal symptoms (i.e, seizures), I was still very much a night owl and still in high school. Often I stayed up until six or seven a.m. I’d check on him before I went to sleep just to put my mind at ease.

One afternoon I awoke and he was laying face down in a sleeping position he normally slept on. But I heard a wheezing. I glanced over at him once more and saw a pattern indicative of what he experienced after a seizure. His eyes were fixed towards the left and then I saw the blood. Piles of it. His bladder had let itself go. I asked if he could hear me and although he couldn’t speak or move or blink, he growled somewhere deep from his throat. He started seizing a little bit more, just because of the stress.

I didn’t know where the blood was coming from: that was where the panic started. He was laying in it and I couldn’t see if it was coming from his mouth or elsewhere. I later learned it was from a bite in his tongue, cheek, and the rearranging of his teeth from his jaw clenching.

I also didn’t know how long he’d been in this position. Perhaps a half hour. Perhaps hours. And as many of you probably know, withdrawal seizures don’t stop. They continue rolling like a boulder down an endless hill.

The scene, the blood, distressed EMT’s, the fact that I was home alone, the feeling of guilt for having not been awake in the first place caused my meltdown. I fell into a heap and can’t remember anything beyond that.

When he woke up, his short term, and some other parts of his memory, were gone.

I blamed myself for that for a long time. I still kind of do. In fact, this is a difficult post to write because what followed that incident was a changed life. A life of learning to live with someone who forgot what day my birthday was. A life of learning to deal with the anger outbursts from all of us, a life of learning that even seizures can’t stop addiction. A life of learning that life isn’t permanent.

I set up a contraption in my room which tied around my doorknob, went up on the ceiling, through a hanging hook, and back down to a chair which sat beside my bed. I couldn’t sleep for months and if I did, I made sure there were tons of noisemakers near that chair set up. It was there so that when I slept, and if I had a seizure, my leg would most likely knock over the chair onto the stuff on my floor and make noise so I wouldn’t die in such a position.

I didn’t think he would make it that day. I was convinced I’d been partly responsible for his impending death.

Since then I’ve been preparing myself for the big day. Not just for him, but for anyone. I learned to tell myself that I can’t be responsible for someone else’s life choices and that if death came before any of us wanted it to, than I had no say in that either. For months I kept that chair by my bed. I still think about it every now and then, five years later.

This is a story left untold, one I generally avoid because it hits deeper than any other. It plays flashbacks of scenes and feelings I still haven’t processed. Before, I’d never dare speak word of this story. Now I’m telling the internet.

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What I learned is that control isn’t something we have, it’s something we created as a figment of our imagination in a world of spontaneity and chaos. It’s something we wish we could have. I’ve learned to stop wishing for it. The more I wish for it, the more I want it, and the more disappointed I am when I can’t have it.

When the day comes, for me, for him, for anyone I know, it will be another life changing moment and that’s okay. Because if life never changed, no one would live.

If Thoughts Could Speak

It used to be, in the finer stages of youth, the world was a bright, magical place.

It’s still very magical, but in a different light, I think.

Like many people, I’m disturbed today by injustice, by incivility, by disrespect, by the pain we cause each other and the struggles we can’t get help for. I’m disturbed by the county welfare office and how discontent they are; I’m disturbed how they run us around in circles. I’m disturbed that I’ve had physicians laugh plainly in my face about my mental health.

I’m disturbed that we, as a human race, can claim the theoretical possibility of a simple algorithm describing human intelligence (N=2^i-1) and yet indigenous people across the globe are buried beneath bigotry, stupidity, and greed. I’m disturbed that we can put intelligence into math terms and yet never use that intelligence to better ourselves as a whole.

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I think it’s wonderful when a single person gets the drive and determination to volunteer, to help out their elderly parents, to pull over to the side of the road to help someone who they’ve never met before. I think it’s even more wonderful when a group of people do that.

If one person performing one act of kindness makes one other person perform one act of kindness, what do you think a group performing several acts of kindness could do?

The magic I find in the world is dictated by my imagination. It’s dictated by hours spend reading about futurism and Elon Musk’s goals. It’s dictated by days of neuroscience articles and reading about the potentiality of a new Cancer vaccine. It’s dictated by the stories scribbled by my pens and the character’s voices in my head.

 

While I have the drive and the insight, I would like to contribute things to this world. After watching days upon days of videos of people in comas and recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury, after reading article after article about pictures of neurons and the future implications of implanting memory chips into people’s heads, and after dissecting paper after paper about some new early (and un-reviewed) idea that gravity isn’t a fundamental force, but rather an “emergent phenomenon”, I’ve rekindled my love of neuroscience and theoretical neurophysics and the merging of physics and biology.

There are so many things to think about, and this is why I never get things done. If my mind isn’t caught up in worries that will never happen, then it’s caught up in conspiracies against me that I shouldn’t care about. If I don’t feel like people are planning an attack, then demons are–somewhere, somehow. I feel them and I see the signs. If the demons leave me alone, then I dive into a rabbit hole of articles and videos and when I wake up from it all, in the brief period of silence I get, I realize I’ve lost track of time, of my school work, and of life itself.

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So when I say I’m tired, and you give me a strange look because I’ve been laying in bed all day, think about it this way:

Your computer sits on a desk for three weeks in sleep mode. When you open it, the battery is dead. You get frustrated ravaging your room for the charger and you ask yourself: why did the battery die when it wasn’t doing anything?

You left the system running on its only power source.

My brain is my only power source. I dream about math and philosophy and violence. I wake up and am bombarded by thought after thought after thought, anxiety related or not. My battery runs dry even in sleep mode, even when there’s a screen saver on, even nothing is being done on the computer, but the screen is on.

Meanwhile, my kitten sleeps in a wonderfully peaceful exorcist position:

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Her head is completely upside down: you’re looking at the underside of her mouth.

Now I understand Oscar more. Oscar is the cat at my place of work. He was beside me last night as I worked an overnight shift. He had this wild stare in his eyes and this calm demeanor. But nothing about him felt calm. His eyes were always elsewhere. He was always focused on something else, somewhere else, with such a great intensity I got worried he saw some paranormal forces behind me that I couldn’t. It was difficult to get any rest last night.

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Oscar Laying On Me At 3 a.m

This is Oscar. He has a stare worth a thousand words. Vacant but very much present. Focused, intensely. He felt tense and he couldn’t sleep either. His disconcerting vibe made me wonder if this is how people felt when they saw me staring into space, un-moving, monotone.

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He’s gained weight again: he was larger when I first started working here. He slimmed down a lot, was running around like crazy, and now he’s gained some weight back again. I don’t know if that influences his stare, but it might.

Either way, Oscar and I spent a night of staring into each other’s eyes. He understood me and I understood him. He saw into my soul a bit, I think.

He wouldn’t show his though, that’s why he wouldn’t let me take a picture of him when he stared directly at me. He wanted those moments private, and I respect that.