To Friend, Or Not To Friend, That Is The Question

Friends. Friends, friends, friends, friends. It’s always been a touchy subject for me.

In junior high I had one friend who made friends with an older group and so I integrated myself into their group.

Well, it was much less of an integration and more like a . . . hmm. More like this:

I didn’t talk much to them, they didn’t talk much to me, but I followed them around because the idea of standing against the wall alone felt too vulnerable. Eventually I met a group of people I jived with and who didn’t bring tasers to school and we were all socially awkward together. Some of those friendships have stood the test of time, and one in particular has got me thinking about the nature of said relationships.

I have been friends with this person for many years (12?) and while I endured college and psychosis, she bumped coke and crashed cars. Granted, I was the one who introduced marijuana to her in high school, but I had enough sense to know when enough was enough. She obviously didn’t.

Psychosis and anxiety played a part, I guess. Hard to enjoy marijuana when every hit increases the two things you’re trying to escape.

She’s not quite an addict. The coke stopped when she had her kid. Now that her and her “baby daddy” (dear Christ I hate using that phrase) have split, and he takes the kid some weekends, she’s back to hanging with losers. For a while I struggled too, dipping back into Marijuana even though it caused me to end up in the E.R and the psych hospital, and back into heavy drinking even though I’d wake up crying, depressed, ready to end my life. Now that I’m more settled in my decision to stay off medication, now that I’ve got more of a healthy routine down, now that I’ve recovered from my abrupt break-up, I’m ready to move on with life. And for some reason I felt myself being called back to my old friendship.

So I’ve been hanging out with her for a few months, and it’s been fun, we have a lot of memories together and our personalities are similar. But I’m multiple people: I’m a peer worker by day (and overnight sometimes), I go to trainings and enjoy doing wholesome things with my friends/coworkers who happen to be twice my age (I’m 23). I enjoy being able to have an intelligent conversation and still find humor in so many things. And by night I’d run around the streets with her, driving places, drinking, smoking, “enjoying my twenties”.

I’m over it. That got so old so fucking quick ya’ll. Am I an old person in a young person’s body or something?

What really broke the camels back, or whatever the idiom is, punched the camel, killed the camel, whatever– wow, all three of those are horrible. What’s really made this decision for me (that’s better) was last weekend. As we wandered downtown, some people were catcalling, and while I tend to have a disgusted attitude about this, she feeds into it. The attention she receives from men–she needs it to survive. I believe it’s an insecurity thing, but having a deep conversation with her is literally impossible.

So, she went back to the group and got one dudes number. We ended up passing them one last time, where she decided to sit on the sidewalk and make a scene, smoke some weed on the street corner. Of course the group migrates over to us and while one loser is trying to hit on me, the other loser doesn’t need to do much to get her attention. They decide they want to eat at a restaurant with us, and while I’m not opposed to “making friends”, I am opposed to being surrounded by fucking morons.

Both are in their thirties and have children, young children. Why didn’t I leave? I’m not the type of person to leave a “friend” with two older men we know nothing about. Especially since she was still reeling from the molly and rave of the night before. She didn’t have a car, and I didn’t trust either of them to get her home safely. And so I stayed. I endured. I threw a lot of shade her direction masked by humor, which got a few laughs at the table. Fine. I can be an entertainer.

At the end of the night (2:50am) they took off, after one of them smacking her ass, and I took her home. Although this encounter is relatively mild (besides the constant being hit on) the reason it struck a nerve with me is because this has happened once before with her and me. In fact, my dumb 16 or 17 year old high self got in the car with two older guys (maybe early twenties? or younger. Adults.) that she said were going to take us for a ride. She lied to me. Her plan was to lose her virginity to one of them because she “couldn’t graduate high school without having lost her virginity”, because that’s something colleges and jobs care about, whether you fucked some loser or not.

Put that on your fucking resume. Literally. Your fucking resume.

They took us somewhere I didn’t recognize, and that’s when I got angry. No one would tell me where we were. I got out the car when we stopped and was pissed. She got busy with the dude in the car. The other guy, his friend, tried getting me to kiss him, to touch him, e.t.c, and I had to elbow him in the chest to the ground to get him off me. I was very athletic, strong, and wasn’t in the mood for his fucking shit. He stopped after that. We waited. They took us back to the mall. I called my mom asking her to pick us up, and called my friend a whore. We didn’t talk for a while.

I realize I’ve held onto this friendship because I’m scared of being thrown to the sharks, of having to make new friends. I’ve never been good at it. Ever. But by being around the group I have been lately, I realize what true compassion and kindness and friendship is. I never experienced it before, really. I now realize we’re at different points in our lives. We’ve both had setbacks, and we both are struggling to get on our feet. The difference is I would like to balance and she prefers the wobble.

I hope it doesn’t take her son being taken away from her for her to get the fucking picture. Because I’m done. And I’m probably the only friend she had who would actually stick their neck out for her.

Not quite sure how to start this conversation with her.

A Rant A Day Keeps the Psychiatrist Away

Must. Vent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would never do that, I love animals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The word to sum up this post: Fuck.

The Future of Preventive Care

Adobe Spark (7)

In the last post, I mentioned the DSM board’s attempt at preemptively striking against textbook psychosis. There’s a whole other world out there in the mental health field dedicated, and quite passionately might I add, to prevention psychiatry: stopping the progression of certain experiences, mainly psychosis, before they turn into something they can label as schizophrenia.

I have nothing against their passion. But I would like one of the members to explain how creating several new disorders like attenuated psychosis syndrome would do anything other than create a new label multitudes of teenagers would be diagnosed with, fed medications that aren’t researched on teenagers, and make them fear their future more than they should.

So, where do we start?

If you ask me (no one did), preventive care, if that’s what it’s to be called, includes family dynamics, relationship dynamics, and self-dynamics, not only diagnosis and medications.

Family Dynamics

This is an important but difficult portion for me to write. I find myself grappling with words that sound rehearsed and disingenuous, because I’m not quite sure what a healthy family dynamic would be. But I understand that what you are taught, what you see, what you experience as a child heavily influences what you teach, what you see, and what you experience as an adult. This includes behaviors and thought patterns that may be seen in the world of psychology as abnormal.

The family as a whole must be looked at in preventive care because it may very well be that the problem starts somewhere in the family, perhaps in the history of the family. Substance use, abuse, neglect, perfectionism, other illnesses of family members that fall on the responsibility of the child. Every moment of life becomes a little more traumatic, and the brain is our rock, it must do what it must to protect us from processing emotions we don’t fully understand. As helpful as that can be in the moment, it becomes something to wrestle with for many years in the long run.

As a child, I never spoke my insecurities, my emotions, or opinions. I didn’t feel safe physically or emotionally. I didn’t learn healthy outlets for anger, and I didn’t learn healthy outlets for sadness. I didn’t know my pain was worth mentioning, so all of it meshed together somewhere in the back of my mind, and eventually came out as panic attacks, depression, psychosis, and self-harm.

Does this mean my family is to blame? No. What it means is that the dynamics were not healthy. It means when looking at preventing further development of experiences like psychosis and depression and self harm, regardless of whether a diagnosis is the main goal, we have to look at how the family functions/functioned as a whole.

Relationship Dynamics

What’s been learned in childhood and adolescence inevitably bridges into the relationships we have throughout life, and if there is a pattern of bumpy relationships–friendships, romantic relationships, acquaintanceship– then it’s time to also take a look at why. Everyone, even the most introverted person, needs a close friend once in a while. The inability to have an open, comfortable, a mutual connection with another person may force a person inward.

It may also signify an inability to understand what healthy relationships look like, another one of my own personal weak points. Part of preventive care should be focused heavily on providing a person resources on how to learn to have these healthy relationships, even if it’s just one person. And I’m not talking about just therapy, I’m talking about workshops and intensive analysis. Having someone in your corner makes all the difference when you feel lost or disregarded or confused.

Self-Dynamics

How does the person regard themselves? How does the person treat themselves? This is the most important aspect of preventive care, because in the end you really only have yourself as your largest support force; if you’re not on your side, who is? This is why I believe adding another diagnostic label telling someone they’re developing a life-long “illness” that they will need long-term medication as treatment doesn’t really empower them to look at their life with healthy vision.

Is the person stuck inward? Do they value themselves? Do they value others? Do they have painful outbursts? I point out these behaviors for a reason: they are most often questions asked and behaviors people want to change. I don’t believe preventive care should be about changing anyone, but rather giving the person a chance to see a different perspective and a different side of things. The personal transformation which transpires from that will help the person loosen up in the way they are meant to loosen up, rather than forcing a way of being on them. We’ve seen that force isn’t a healthy dynamic between “patient/client” and doctor many times.

Where Does This Leave Us?

If you are a provider, take into account everything. I’m sure that’s something that’s taught over and over again, in fact I know it is because I’ve heard it in every psychology class I’ve ever taken. But sometimes we forget. And sometimes we don’t mean to forget. Sometimes we get wrapped up in what our job is versus what our job could be. And that’s when it’s important to take a step back and really engage with people, understanding them on a personal level. It’s a two way street here: while it’s up to us consumers to take our health into our own hands, it’s also up to providers to guide us appropriately when we might not be able to take our health into our own hands.

There’s a notable difference between doctor’s who are genuinely curious about what’s ailing you and those who want to help, but come equipped only with the DSM.