How Sick Are You, Pt 2

Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

situation-clipart-theory-5

which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

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You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

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Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

The Water Comes From A Well

This title is the excerpt I read while searching for a new place to live. What is this, the 1800’s? Do you know how dry it is in California, people? Just buy some water from the damn grocery store because you ain’t finna find any in the ground, not this time of year.

I’m being forced to look into a roommate situation, which is not ideal, but I suppose it is better than homelessness–at least, that’s what my psychologist is trying to drill into my head: it’s better than being homeless, it’s better than being homeless. I’m not sure I’m convinced. I’ve been homeless before, jumped around from place to place, and at least in all those situations I had some kind of privacy. Someone living in my living room in this apartment does not seem private to me.

The emotions of the break up have kind of calmed within me, I no longer drive in the car crying to songs on the radio, and I no longer huddle in the apartment with a blanket over my shoulders looking at all the things I did wrong and all the things that were my fault. Ultimately, things ended because things needed to end. I’ve had a lot of things I’ve loved end in my life, and I’m still standing. I’ve been through a lot worse than a breakup, and I’m still standing. I can make it through this.

independence-1024x673-1024x673It’s time to gain some independence back too. I think I was pretty dependent in this relationship and that’s something I need to let go of as well. I think this will give me the proper time I need to really recover from the psychosis and get my mental health back on track.

Where I will move, I’m not sure yet, either north or south of where I am now. I have plans to move on with my life at this point. Because, here’s the even bigger news: the mental health program I’ve been working at for the past 2 years may very well be closing in the beginning of December. We’re making efforts to save it, and I think good things will still come from these efforts, but I’m not sure about them actually saving the program.

So, I am also stuck looking at the possibility of having to find another job in the “real world”. The real world meaning: working with people who are not my peers, who do not openly have lived experience. And that bothers me a bit. I tend not to get along with those people.

Classes have also started up again, and I’m swamped with homework. Go figure.

So life is pretty stressful right now. I’m broke, I can’t pay for my prescriptions, I can’t buy food, I can’t afford gas, and it’s hell waiting for Netflix to put up Black Panther. I mean, the wait is literally like sitting on a stump in hell listening to the screams of damned souls while embers lick the top of your head and fire burns through your skin to your bone.

I am writing an article about the closing of 2nd Story, so stay tuned for that on Mad in America. Not quite sure what I want to write yet. I said I’d have a draft by the end of the week, but with classes I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible.

My cat is sitting on my arm and making it very difficult to type. She’s going to give me Carpal Tunnel.

If you are willing to share a GoFundMe page on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, that would also be great. The link is here. I know clicking the share button is honestly asking a lot of people I don’t know, but I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for 3 years and I’ve loved every moment of it. You all are helpful in small little ways you might not even know. Every comment I’ve ever gotten, every view, every read, every personal story shared with me is another thing I cherish. So one share is all I ask. I’m asking for 1500 in the Campaign, just as general moving expenses because I have zero dollars. I would be using it to pay for a UHaul and to tow my car if I move out of town. I”m not asking for much, but I am.

If you can share the GoFundMe link that would be great. If you can read it, that would be great. I don’t want to end up homeless again, and I think crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity for a lot of people, including myself. If you can donate even a dollar, I would be eternally grateful.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking for a place to live so I don’t end up on the streets.

Fun!