Tag Archives: schizophrenia

Do you all remember a time when I would bust out posts every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes thrice a day? That time ended many months ago, and this writer’s block has continued something fierce. Every once in a while I come on and see how everyone is doing, what’s going on their life and where they are heading and I wonder why I just can’t kick my ass in gear and write.

I’m a writer for God’s sake, that’s what I do.

So, as I sit in class right now, it got me thinking about my writer’s block, others writer’s block, and how people just push through it. So that’s what I’m trying to do, for the sake of the cathartic process, and for the sake of my writing future.

Because I am such a broken human being unique individual with a variation of experiences, I decided to do something for myself and attend an outpatient group. This group meets three days a week, for three hours each day, and I’m on the evening schedule. We learn a lot about coping skills, about forming and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as being open and honest about what’s going on in our head. Some people have substance use issues partnered with their mental health, others don’t.

I’m not sure what I’m learning from it. I know that it gets me out of the house and prevents me from isolating, which is good for me, and I know it’s good for me because I absolutely hate doing it. And I seem to hate doing anything that’s good for me. Ever get that feeling?

Meanwhile, the outside world is falling apart and we’re all sitting around twiddling our thumbs like:

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When we should be doing something like this:

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Kanye West is trapped in a perpetual state of “mania”, or at least he’s addicted to the “manic” behavior, Trump is still president, sexual assault victims are coming forward and getting pushed back down, people are putting guns to their heads, overdosing, throwing themselves off bridges and the ages are getting younger and younger, there’s rarely anything positive on the news (in America), everyone kind of flipped the bird to school shootings, cops are still shouting “break yourself fool!”, cocking their gun sideways, and blowing seven holes in innocent people like they work for the crips, and meanwhile I’m sitting here on this computer documenting it all, processing it, and thinking back to similar times.

I think maybe, just maybe, we’re all stuck in a pretty serious delusion about our lives: That we can continue moving forward with all of this baggage on our back. Nothing is being discussed, and when a discussion does arise, it turns into nothing more than the internet being divided on the subject for a couple days. Racism is a hot topic, until a school shooting happens. We’re all crying for the students until a cop shoots another unarmed white, black, yellow, blue, brown, rainbow man/woman. As we writhe from the shock, Trump says something outlandish and/or stupid (mostly stupid), and all cameras point to him. They’re so busy photographing his orange face and blonde toupee that they miss the guy standing on the bridge behind them, tears streaming down his face.

There’s no soft way to put things: we’re living in a society in which things are swept under the rug.

I guess it’s nice that you and your friend on Facebook have these deep philosophical conversations over messenger that ultimately ends with one of you quoting words you don’t understand by some unnamed author, hoping that the way you’ve carried yourself and your political stance will help you sound like an intellectual.

And it doesn’t help that when something serious on social media is trending, it doesn’t get taken serious and its fifteen minutes of fame go by in five. This is my argument against May Mental Health Awareness month. There’s nothing impressive about a month of people saying nice things to each other and being supportive when that mindset falls apart in June.

At this point, I’m ranting, because if there’s one thing we all understand about writer’s block, is that you can’t pull the right fucking words out of your head even if your life depended on it. Something has them stopped up like hair in a drain, and I don’t have a long enough whatcha-ma-call-em to dig the mess out. The only solution is to pour corrosive bleach down the hole and let it set. So, I’m pouring bleach on my brain and waiting for the magic to happen.

What will happen to this blog? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t want to get rid of it, I want to help it blossom into what it once was. I want to communicate to real people about real topics and still promote mental wellness. I want to commit to writing at least once a day to gain back old followers and shake hands with new ones. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, in my own life and in relation to the rest of the world. I want a lot of things, as you can see, and I’m not quite sure what that means.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

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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):

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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.

 

I’m not quite sure how I feel today. My psychiatrist asked me how things were going, how my mood was, and I said neutral. I’m not depressed, I’m not joyful, I just am. I feel like I’m in the mode of just existing again. I know it’s the medication.

I also notice a lot of loneliness creeping in. When I’m home at night by myself, at least. It’s as if I constantly need to be around people, and I’m not a people person. In fact, people wear me down too quickly. I dissociate and distance myself from them. But lately I’ve been needing to be around good company, constantly, as if I’m distracting myself from something.

That’s what it feels like. As if all the old emotions that are being brought up in therapy for the first time are riding the waves and the tide is bringing them onto shore. Only the shore is not equipped to handle these kinds of wave breaks, nor what the waves drag in.

I feel that I’m having to relearn who I am, what I believe in, and a good friend pointed out to me that after such a fall, it’s like starting a new relationship with yourself. And in starting a new relationship you need patience, kindness, compassion, and many other things I need to learn to show to myself.

This is going to be a short post today. I just don’t feel like writing about myself tonight, or anyone else for that matter. I miss bits and pieces of the life I had before the psychosis. I miss the old relationship I had with myself, even though the old relationship I had with myself wasn’t healthy. But it was comfortable. And that’s the painful part: losing that comfort.

And that’s today’s mental truth.

 

I have a poem for you all today about something I’ve been struggling with on an astronomical level. It’s something that’s been hounding me since I first started on this journey when I was 16 or 17. Take a read.

Take it, they say, and I do.

It’s for the better, they say, and I pretend

to believe them.

But there’s no better medicine than human connection,

than walks in nature

where the fireflies conjure

and the Cougars roar.

There’s no better medicine than a domestic cat’s purr,

than a puppy’s head rub,

or the bloom of a rose.

But take it, they said, and I do,

for I understand the consequences of moods

that are self destructive,

that cause more pain than happiness,

that force me to believe

everyone is against me,

even as the evidence proves otherwise.

Two little pills will not dictate my life

but they hound my moral conscience mercilessly:

“You’re feeding the demon, Big Pharma,

going against what you believe in,

what Karma

will that produce at the end of your life span

here on Earth?

You’re hurting your liver, your kidneys, your organs.

How will your heart feel after 21 years of torture

by two little pills?

Don’t you remember Prolonged QT,

or have you forgotten you’re getting a science degree?

It can cause a fatal Arrhythmia after prolonged use of anti-psychotics

and who knows this but you?

A psychiatrist won’t tell you,

a physician won’t tell you

and yet you take those two little pills

against your very own will.

This is all the voice in my head

the one that used to constantly want me dead.

Now he begs for me to save my life

by throwing away those two little pills

that cause me so much moral strife.

 

Check out this poem and more on my Booksie account here.

What are some of the strangest reactions you’ve had when you’ve told someone your mental health story?

Do you tell people your story? I know plenty who do not, and for good reason: we’re not exactly the most understood people out there.

But see, I like shocking people. I like making them uncomfortable, watching them squirm. And so I often tell my story to strangers, especially if they approach me on the street trying to hit on me. How do I do it? Well, here’s the way it usually goes.

“Hi, I’m Dave, can I ask your name?”

“Hi Dave, I’m Alishia, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too. What are you up to today? Any plans for tonight?”

“No real plans, just some relaxation. It’s my day off today.”

“Oh yeah? Where do you work?”

*Insert Cheshire Cat smile in my head*

“I work at a peer respite house.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Well, you see we support people who are apart of the county mental health system.”

“That sounds nice. Did you go to school for that?”

“You have to have lived mental health experiences. We do get trained, but we also have to have lived with some mental health challenges ourselves.”

And if that doesn’t make them uncomfortable, if they don’t glance away or squirm or do any of the body language symbols that means I’ve got them by the neck I mention my psychosis. That usually gets them.

What are the benefits and disadvantages to doing this? I don’t see many disadvantages. I of course wouldn’t do this in a professional setting were I applying for some big time job that isn’t mental health related, I’m aware most people have some serious misconceptions of who someone with mental health issues is. But I do it to people I meet or people I’m meeting because I’m not someone who sees my mental health as a disadvantage or something to hide. I see it as something to embrace, something to be fully, wholly comfortable with.

I don’t run down the street screaming I’m crazy, even if that’s what it sounds like. But if the topic comes up in conversation, I casually mention my struggles, and if people struggle with accepting them, that’s not really my problem.

How did I become comfortable with this? I wasn’t in high school. I didn’t like telling people I had anxiety around people because I thought it was a weakness and I didn’t want to expose my weakness for people to play target practice with. I didn’t start getting comfortable until I turned twenty and was forced to tell my boss at the amusement park I was working at so that I could get accommodations. The way he responded was very understanding, and I regret leaving that job without really giving any proper notice.

Sometimes all it takes is one moment in time.

Sometimes all it takes is a little risk.

People will react badly. And if you already know that, you’re already 10 steps ahead of everyone else. And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

So a recent hallucination of mine has been rather mild but annoying. It’s been a crow speaking to me, and shouting at me, particularly outside of my bedroom window. I also have a running theory that not only are ads following me on my phone and my computer, but they’re following me onto the televisions in the restaurants I’ve been visiting. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Anyway, this “hey” crow has the name “hey”, because that’s the way he gets my attention. Shouting “HEY. HEY. HEY. HEY. HEEEEEY. HEY.” until I acknowledge his presence. I haven’t seen him yet, but for some reason I know it’s a crow. It certainly isn’t a human. Maybe it’s a spirit calling from another realm, I haven’t given that much thought towards it because I knew for sure it was a crow: he always talks from outside up in a tree somewhere. It’s got to be a crow.

I do believe animals speak with us in their own language. I highly doubt they truly know English, but maybe this is a highly evolved crow who happens to have really gained a grasp on human form and language.

I wrote a quick poem about him. It goes something like this:

“Hey!” caws the crow, and I listen,

What wisdom

will he share today?

Will he show how a shadow dances with a mind of its own?

Or remind us how the sunrise ushers in a new spirit for the day?

 

“Hey!” caws the crow, and I listen

to whatever wisdom he shares with me today.

Will he warn me of the passerby–watch your back with that guy–or compliment

my outfit?

Will he watch the passing stars with me

and wonder about infinity?

There’s a lot this crow knows, you see.

 

And while I wonder what he’ll share

I have to remember

and be aware

that it may be fiction

what he wove into his diction

But “hey!” caws the crow,

and I still listen.

 

It’s impulsively penned, and certainly not great, but you get the jist of what I’m trying to say with it, I hope. Check out that poem and more writings on my Booksie account at this link here. 

 

So yesterday I was casually reading an article on schizophrenia and how the cortical thickness seen in the condition is directly related to duration and dosage of antipsychotic medication rather than the progression of a “disease”, and my cat started meowing. Nothing out of the ordinary really. A little spider scurried across the couch arm and I smashed it because I fucking hate spiders (sorry Buddhists, and sorry if there are any spiders from the spider dimension reading this, please don’t come and eat me) and I moved to the other side of the couch so that if there were any more spiders they wouldn’t come near me and I could see them coming. Again, nothing out of the ordinary.

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The only thing out of the ordinary is how content I felt with it all. My cat, the spider, the idea of a spider dimension, the article I was reading–well, I wasn’t really content with that, because that just pisses me off, but you get the point. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t sad, I just was, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I was talking to someone about how uncomfortable being content has been for me lately, because I’m so used to feeling depressed or suspicious about something or other, sometimes about nothing at all. Sometimes I’ll just sit in a depressed, suspicious heap and not understand an ounce where it’s coming from. But lately, besides crippling anxiety, I’ve felt okay. I’ve been pouring my heart out into some poetry, which is something I’ve never really done before, and I’m considering grouping them all together into a collection. I’ve personally never liked poetry, or written a lot of it, but lately I’ve realized how similar it is to writing a story, only the language and metaphors and similes are done in an equally beautiful way.

I’ve also started comparing psychosis, mine at least, to poetry. And I’ll explain that at a later date, as soon as I figure out exactly how to do that.

I think I wrote in a different post about contentment, but there was a lack of feeling in it because I hadn’t got into my groove yet. Now I’m back in my groove and finding my voice again, so I can talk fucking eloquently about my experiences. Are you ready, kids?

Fuck depression.

That’s eloquent, right?

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I don’t know if my psychosis is related to my depression, it very well could be, but it seems to be more consistent across the board than the depression, so it might not be. We’ll see what the psychiatrist says on our next visit: I would like her to tell me what she’s diagnosing me with, besides PTSD which was already established. I don’t want to have to sneak a look on her computer like I had to with the county psychiatrist. Did I tell you all about that? She wouldn’t tell me shit, so when she left the room I sat in her chair and read all the notes she wrote about me, from the “denial” of substance use, to the “ruling out” of schizophrenia. If you’re wondering how I didn’t get caught, it’s because she was wearing heels and walking back and forth across tile. I knew when she was leaving and when she was coming back. She had diagnosed me with Psychosis NOS and Depression and GAD. My current psychiatrist has since wiped that all off the table and added PTSD as a for-sure diagnosis.

And this is why I am not someone who advocates that people need to be diagnosed. It’s just a bunch of back and forth malarkey. Everything overlaps each other so frequently there’s no telling if what you’ve been diagnosed with is even accurate. So you end up with a list of diagnoses and a list of medications and you’re wondering who you are, why you’re so fucked up, and yada, yada. Why go through all that trouble? Why not just be told you’re struggling and these are a list of options to help you through that struggle?

Seems a lot easier and less damaging to me.

I also recognize that for some people a diagnosis really does solidify things for them.

And if that’s the case for you, be proud of it and own it.

You’re unique.