I hate Kanye, He’s Awesome

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

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

Whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

Then, the big controversy comes: the meds.

I figured his opinion wouldn’t be very popular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Years of What-The-Fuck

It’s pretty ironic that a few weeks ago I made a post on here saying I wouldn’t be on here for a while and instead of leaving I’ve been pulled back towards this site.

It’s been a long road. I was skimming through some of my older posts and having a laugh at not only the content, my aggressive nature which quite obviously came through in biting satirical wit, but also the comments and the beautiful souls I’ve met through this blog.

One person commented: “Are you mentally stable?”

If you have to ask that question, the answer is probably no. And I saw how many posts I wrote at 3am, 4am, 5am, and then came back the next day with either no sleep or two hours of sleep. I was busting my ass in Calculus and trying to find a job that wasn’t complete ass while simultaneously losing my mind. I’m pretty sure this blog helped me keep some kind of attachment to reality.

Then I ripped Alex Gorsky a new one (here) because there is no way in hell that man should have any kind of award in any kind of “humankindness” category. He’s a straight monster, and if I ever get the chance to meet him in person it’s going to take all of my strength not to spit in his fucking face. He hasn’t done anything that any other C.E.O of a major pharmaceutical company hasn’t done. The difference is he got caught. And I read about it. And that’s where the real danger for him is.

People ate that post up back in the day before I disabled the like button and couldn’t figure out how to get it back up, and it launched me into the blogsphere at a tremendous velocity. I became known for not only tearing apart pharmaceutical companies, but tearing apart anything and anyone who seemed to throw ethics out the window. And people who park in the red zone outside of my apartment. Fuck those people.

Where is this blog now? I have no fucking idea you guys. I basically recorded my decent into madness (I said that in some post a couple years ago) and the large gaps in between posts are indicative of me either being comatose in bed, in the hospital, or running the streets all hours of the night.

Those times consisted of a lot of weird shit. Like, weird shit. Like . . .like this:

Cat-Fish.

That isn’t even weird enough to really explain all the weirdness. I remember a lot of horrible dreams, traumatic dreams, all of which were caused by some unseen forces, dark forces, demons, which followed me around during the day, crowded my bed at night, whispered in my ears, fucked up my thoughts, intercepted them really, possessed people around me, and somehow I went to class and took notes and took exams and went to work and I guess I just sort of let my body work from muscle memory while my mind drifted into a different dimension.

At one point I remember being in hell, literal hell, and I was strapped to a torture board where some demons–I finally saw their true form, rather than the disguises they use here on Earth–turned their dial and stretched my limbs, trying to rip them from my body. That part was a dream, I’m pretty sure, but when I woke up they were still screaming at me, hissing at me, and I don’t remember much after that, just a lot of them screaming and cursing me, and they promised I would die.

One of these fucking things

Eventually I couldn’t keep up with the classes. Eventually I wasn’t picking up shifts at work, and inevitably, I stopped writing on this blog. The last hospital visit I had followed the Las Vegas shooting. Because those demons were after me, (and still are in all truth, that hasn’t gone away) they were hell bent on—

God it’s so much to explain. It’s so much to explain mini explosions detonate across my cortex when I think about it.

I believed I was here for a reason, on earth I mean, and I still believe I am. I believe everyone is. But for whatever reason this was heightened during this time, and I believed the safety of the human race essentially depended on me, and that was why so many dark forces had surrounded me–they knew what I knew, and they had to stop me.

They couldn’t physically touch me because I had the protection of my ancestors–that’s what I believed and still believe. So instead, they entered others around me. Strangers, friends, coworkers, and everywhere I went I felt attacked and unwelcome. I couldn’t tell anyone because 1) they’d think I was crazy and 2) they were all fucking in on it anyway.

So when the Vegas shooting happened, I immediately knew it happened because of me. I waited and waited and watched videos and theories and news stories, waiting for a motive to come out, and when nothing was found that only confirmed my belief: he’d been possessed and the shooting was a message to me, specifically, that they were coming for me. And that’s when they attacked my thoughts and I remember always feeling confused and drained of energy and I couldn’t sleep and I just wanted to die. I wanted to die and happened to mention my plan (I guess I didn’t really want to die anyway) and got the sheriffs called on me yet again.

I wasn’t in the hospital as long as people would expect. I have this problem. It’s called functionality.

She seems functional, albeit stressed.

Through all of this–and this built up over the course of a year, at least, maybe even two, of being out of my mind–I was still functional. I went to classes even though I had to drop them eventually. I went to work, some fucking how, and I wasn’t speaking strange or obviously disconnected from reality. I wasn’t walking down the street talking to myself or accusing people of things or anything. I was just . . . existing. A shell. My body moved, I responded to people when they spoke to me, and that was that–I was okay by mental health system standards.

And so the hospital just wanted to help me sleep. And that’s what they did. They gave me some Seroquel so I would sleep, waited for about a week, diagnosed me with Bipolar 1 this time, and tossed me to the county mental health system back in my town which gave other optional diagnoses (PTSD–which I’d already been diagnosed with, Schizoaffective–there’s a newbie, Psychosis NOS–okay?) no one ever came to a conclusion on, and then they outright rejected me. I didn’t last long enough in their system for them to conclude anything, really.

Now, the wonderful thing about all this is somehow it’s all worked out.

And the weird thing is now that I quit my medication in the worst fucking way possible, a way that almost cost me my life, I feel so much better. I still get confused by my thoughts often, but a lot of the time I feel wonderful, sparkly, like I’m connected to every inanimate and animate object on earth; sometimes I know what people are thinking, sometimes I know that they know that I’m connected to them.

I haven’t heard any voices since I abruptly stopped my medication–it’s been five months. That’s fucking unprecedented. I’ve been a conundrum in the mental health system since I was 5.

I’m back writing, and that’s a good fucking sign. Welcome to whatever the fuck this blog is now!

Perhaps I’ll find another C.E.O to drag through the dirt and hang by his/her ankles.

2016 Evaluated

I feel as though I haven’t done a random post in a while and as such have decided tonight shall be the night to put a bit of personal spice back into this internet journal someone coined a “blog”. Although it is not the last day of December, I’d like to reflect on this past year and tentatively avoid political ground for obvious reasons.

There have been a lot of changes this 2016 year. Marijuana was finally legalized in California (there’s goes my promise of political absence, I’m so sorry), in my town Porn producers are now required to provide and enforce their actors and actresses wear adequate protection, i.e condoms. Stores now advertise “Gluten Free” tomatoes.

yeah-sure

January of this year, I acquired a 9-5 that wasn’t 9-5, but all different scheduled hours. The first job I had since 2013. It required gigabytes upon gigabytes of organic brain memory to run monetary procedures for an amusement park. I got a chance to hold and carry a suitcase of twenty thousand dollars to the top floor and across the street with a security guard puffing behind me.

That job ended a few months later.

I experienced a psychiatric hospital for the first time. Curiously enough, that was the same time I experienced a boiling rage ravenous enough to turn all surrounding towns into imitations of Pompeii. Hmm. Odd.

Jack In The Box food poisoned me for ten days; my first experience with that sickness. A panic attack sent me to the E.R that swiftly prompted the doctors and nurses to interrogate me about suspected meth use. No evidence of meth use was found. Hmm. Also odd.

I learned that it’s best to let stupid people be stupid, and fight the urge to constantly reveal their stupidity to them, as stupid people are rarely capable of comprehending their own stupidity.

ips-logo-reduced1In May, I did a training in Intentional Peer Support. It taught me how to communicate in a way that focused on the other person’s thoughts and experiences rather than my own, particularly in confrontation. It taught me how to listen rather than blurt facts or potential solutions as I usually do. It taught me to listen to what people’s voices said rather than get blind sighted by a label like schizophrenia and ignore the person entirely.

In June, I started my peer counselor position at Second Story peer respite. I went in not expecting anything too grand and within a day saw many grand things. I saw healing in process: physical, mental, spiritual healing. I saw community. I saw hope. After growing up in a house with a warped definition of the word “respect”, I finally saw real respect. I saw trust and honesty. It startled me and I didn’t know how to respond. In fact, I got quite anxious and even laughed a few times in my head at the kindness.

I also saw the beginnings of a mental health revolution. I saw an opposition to the ideals of the Medical Model that weren’t extremist points of view.  I remain with that position to this date: the longest job I’ve ever held. I will be eternally grateful to them and it’s a shame my behavior and mannerisms aren’t as emotionally expressive as my writing.

in a few days, I’ll have an article published on Thought Catalog. Wondrous. 

I got a kitten. She’s hilarious. She grips onto things with her front paws and manically kicks at them with her back feet. When surprised or unsure, she emits a noise like a bird call. I got her from a shelter. When she saw me, she ran and slammed into the glass of her kennel, then proceeded to run around, jump, and slam into all of the walls. She wakes me with purrs, meows, and a tail under my nose. She also prefers to sleep like this:

img_20161126_124012.jpg

Everyone always says people change year by year and I didn’t believe it until 2016. I feel the changes and I see them.

I’ve always known I wasn’t alone. I’d just never been exposed to the reality of it, and the moment I was surrounded by people who had been through a manic experience and lived their life, by people who heard voices and lived their life, by people who did take and di not take anti-psychotics and still lived their life, by people who had been through horrible traumas in infancy and childhood to the point they developed different personalities and still lived their life, the moment I saw them with jobs and cars and families and a life, the moment we could all share a space and talk about something other than our mental health, I felt a switch.

There was no more anger. There was less sadness, less loneliness. My youth attracted a couple guys attempting to hit on me and that was a little overwhelming but we remained friends. I didn’t talk a lot, I still struggled with the conventions of interaction, but the fear of interaction was gone. And that I’d never felt before.

So I will say, regardless of the outcome of elections, this year has been revolutionary for me. In fact, this year has only birthed a greater fire within me. My career will never be based around psychiatry like I thought it would be.

My career will be based around people, as hard as it is for me to understand them sometimes. My career will be based around peers, around you all, and around me. Around our growth together, not our fight with pharmaceutical companies, not our fight against stigma, in fact, not our fight at all but rather our transformation. Our development into reminding ourselves that our recovery from what we experience in life can’t be done in the hands of others: we have to take control of it.

We have a saying where I work: Nothing About Us, Without Us. That to me speaks more volumes than anything I’ve heard from my psychiatrist.

P.S: then again, my psychiatrist isn’t the greatest.