Posted in Community, Uncategorized

Questions…

While everyone eagerly awaits my post which would have posted already were I not at work, I figured I’d pose some questions to all of you lovely people who have joined this journey with me. I’d like to learn more about all of you since I have put so much of myself out there.

1. What is your greatest achievement? I don’t mean this in some superficial, interview question way. I mean this in a “what has really helped you grow?” Way.

2. What is one of your passions? Do you have a particular hobby you wish could be your main source of income? What will it take for that to happen?

3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what inspires this decision?

4. Do you have any formal education or vocational training? If not, would you like to? What interests you in the sector of education?

5. How was 2019? What will be different in 2020?

6. Is there any philosophical or mental health related topic you’d like me to cover on this site?

Sometimes I like to remind myself of my passions, hobbies, and things outside of myself that remind me I’m still alive and kicking.

If you’d like to comment below any answers, I’d love to read them and start a conversation with you!

A real post will be up shortly. In the meantime, check out my Instagram handle: @written_in_the_photo and Twitter handle: @philopsychotic for funny memes and more mental health discussion!

Posted in advocacy, Peer Support, Supporting Friends/Family

What Makes Us So Divided?

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that there is a divide in perspectives about mental health in our little neuro-diverse community, and this can effect how we advocate and what we educate ourselves about.

Currently, there are two major extremes, and I think each has existed since the dawn of mental health “treatment”, since we started categorizing behavior and attempting to quantify it. This divide became more noticeable after the cure-all lobotomies were deemed medically unfit, opiates for anxiety and psychosis became too addicting, and the development of Thorazine (I.e the chemical lobotomy) hit the shelves. Patients were more controllable, malleable, and more people were able to leave Asylums and enter society.

The problem with Thorazine and E.C.T, the next best treatment for depression and psychosis, was the damage they caused. No one really knew how medication worked, other than later observing a few chemicals in some people, a few others in other people, and never being able to come to a solid conclusion. We still don’t have one. E.C.T fried some people, disintegrated their personality, shredded their memory, but some were content with this because they weren’t really able to have any other feelings about it.

Drugs made money. Did I forget to mention that? A lot of it.

And eventually groups of people who felt outpatient treatments like medication, and inpatient treatments like E.C.T and solitary confinement, were inhumane, united and developed into the Anti-Psychiatry group.

Now, as time has passed, we have made mental health treatment look very pretty. Hospitals are (mostly) clean, medication is monitored more closely, and drugs like Thorazine are not as widely used in the continental U.S. I can’t speak for Europe or Canada or South America. I know Africa doesn’t have much of a choice but to use the older drugs like Haldol and Thorazine because they don’t ever get monetary assistance with anything. People are still chained to poles in the middle of psychosis in some parts of Africa.

But just because something looks pretty here in the U.S doesn’t mean it’s better. E.C.T is still popular. People say it saves their lives and maybe it does. But to send pulses of electricity through someone’s brain without fully and scientifically understanding the consequences (I.e why does it cause memory loss? Why does it effect some people’s personality?), and without fully and scientifically understanding how the depression is relieved (is it because the brain is being damaged or because their personality is so fried they could care less to be depressed?) is probably one of the least ethical ways to go about treating other humans.

The APA specifies that benefits must outweigh the risks for treatments like this to continue. I’m not convinced they do.

The same goes for medication: it’s researched (barely), results end up skewed (publication bias) and no one actually knows the long term effects for the “updated” ones.

So I understand the mistrust, the disdain, and the need for something better, something that feels compassionate and reasonable and ethical. That’s the driving force of most anti-psychiatry believers. I know because when I read Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry by Peter Breggin M.D at 14, I started reading research (I had friends in college with access to databases) and was appalled. I declared myself anti-psychiatry.

The other extreme side is the medical model. Most people who believe in this model also believe that having the drugs is better than having their lives in shambles because of psychosis or mania or depression or whatever. The risks, for them, DO outweigh the benefits. Many believe that their doctors do the best they can.

They also tend to believe that our experiences are the result of chemical imbalances. They agree that these experiences are brain diseases.

Now, I have no issue with either view. Do I tend to lean toward hypothesizing our experiences are more so a variation of the human mind over hypothesizing chemicals (that have no stable baseline to be compared to) and brain deterioration causes “mental disorders”? Yes, I do. But since neither have been proven absolutely wrong, I can’t say I believe one over the other.

The issue with this division is that it impacts what and how we advocate.

When we should be advocating for whole person care and individualized approaches, we waste time convincing the world that we’re “sick” and therefore need compassion (but not too much because we don’t need pity). We don’t want people seeing our “illness” as us, but flaunt the diagnostic label and call ourselves “just the same as everyone else, but different.” When we should be empowering each other, when we should be guiding each other on how to adapt to our experiences, we waste time hating the medical model and spouting all the reasons it’s wrong.

We’re just going in circles. It’s asinine.

I don’t think we all need to ascribe to each other’s beliefs. That’s one reason why I encourage everyone to read research; when done correctly and ethically, science will tell you facts and you can dispute them, but that doesn’t change them. We can disagree on everything else. But not facts.

Now, it’s another thing when the science is wonky.

But in terms of advocacy, being on the same page is pertinent. Otherwise, we’re only impeding each other’s progress; I’ve been witness to consumers putting other consumers down because they don’t believe in diagnosis, or they do believe in diagnosis. Suddenly wanting off medication and believing that you can live a life off medication is a cardinal mental health sin. Suddenly gaining benefit from medication and feeling more comfortable on it is a cardinal mental health sin.

We need to remember that we’re all on the same side. But we also need to pay attention to facts. When we advocate, it’s not about diagnosis. It’s not about being different. It’s not about how corrupt the pharmaceutical industry is. It’s not about how psychiatrists are over-medicating and over-diagnosing. It’s not about the lack of available facilities, or sub-par care. It’s not even about our own experiences. Let me say why.

A lot of these are issues we want to address are serious issues. But they will be addressed naturally if what we present are coherent arguments and factual knowledge, all with compassionate nudging. If we prove that we are a strong, united forced, if we prove that we have insight to what we need for our mental health improvement, we can work alongside healthcare instead of against it or in spite of it. We can do things besides push medication on each other. We can do things besides convince each other medication is poison.

We can recreate the whole mental health system. And I’m sure we can all agree it needs a serious make-over.

And so I say, when you post on your site, on your social media, or when you’re giving talks, keep this in mind. Keep in mind that it’s not just about your diagnosis or labels in general. It’s about all of us. It’s about integrating into the system and becoming a part of it. If you want things to change, if you want to really be heard, if you want compassionate care for us all, that is the way to do it.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek just isn’t going to cut it.

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Posted in Freedom, psychology

The Human Question

I’ve been absent because the pain of sitting with this back injury was too great. I wish I would have injured my back before I started this blog; not writing for days isn’t the proper way to re-build a blog. I know at least that much.

In the midst of all this pain, I’ve been challenged philosophically once more. That seems to happen a lot. You think our minds gets off on presenting existential issues with every little aspect of life?

My drug record is as follows: Marijuana. Psychiatric cocktails.

Marijuana made me feel normal in high school. I stopped when I started college and psychiatric medication. Then 7 years on and off of those medications. Antipsychotics dull your mind, but I wouldn’t call it a high. Benzos knocked me out a couple times. But I’ve never experienced the bliss that is an opioid-based medication.

This medication (which only cost me two dollars compared to the 40 I used to pay for my psych meds each month–there’s your opiate crisis plain and simple) was prescribed strictly for that insurmountable pain I mentioned earlier. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t walk. I also couldn’t give up going to class and work during recovery, and so the pain med and the valium came into play.

Valium is shit, in my opinion. I don’t like that the halflife is up to 72 hours, which can make your body very dependent very quickly if you’re taking it regularly. It was prescribed for muscle spams, which have been plaguing my entire body since the back injury.

The issue I’ve had isn’t with addiction. I’m not crushing the pain med and snorting it. I’m not injecting it, I’m not smoking it. I like the feeling, I enjoyed floating while in class, and in that high I realized how much I missed feeling THIS kind of disconnected. A happy disconnection. And then I wondered if it was really the disconnection I missed. That just didn’t feel right; I’m always disconnected in some way, and often that’s how I make it through my day.

It’s the sense of altering my mind state which I missed. That felt right, until it didn’t. This year has been the happiest year of my life; I’ve lost all the weight I gained from my depression, I’ve stayed off all psychiatric medication, including anti-psychotics, I’ve got friends, I’ve been more open with people. I’ve enjoyed work. I bought a 2019 car. I’m successfully completing the research course which I kept dropping because of psychosis and depression. I’m writing again, submitting fiction again, starting this blog, finished a manuscript draft. I feel mentally and physically back on track. So what is making me want to change this?

I don’t have an answer.

I can look at human behavior and make some guesses, though.

Some of us want to alter our state more than others. For me, it’s not about running from feeling anymore. Now it’s about boredom, it’s about routine, it’s about doing the same thing over and over again and being content, but wanting something more. And I think that’s something everyone can relate to: wanting something more.

People say if you’re satisfied where you are, content with yourself, you won’t want anything more because you have everything you need. Perhaps it’s the ideal case. It just doesn’t seem practical though.

Or, maybe I’m not as happy as I think I am. In that case, what aren’t I happy about? Maybe those who indulge in recreational drugs also aren’t as happy as they think they are. In that case, maybe no one is ever certain about how they’re actually feeling. Freaky.

Maybe the feeling of a new experience is exciting, maybe the devil hooked a Twinkie on his fishing line and we’re all chasing it into hell.

Maybe we convince ourselves of one thing to justify what we know isn’t true. For example, I enjoy the body high. I’m always so tense from anxiety, have been all my life. Marijuana could never take it away, and neither could psychiatric meds. But the pain meds can. And so maybe I’m saying I’m not trying to subdue my feelings or run away from something so I can justify continuing to use them even though I’ve finally made it past the most severe pain.

Seeing as that’s highly likely, although my mind is pushing hundreds of reasons why I shouldn’t admit to that truth, the question then becomes: is enjoying something like a high wrong?

Most people would say yes, if it interferes with your life. If it becomes an addiction and reduces your level of functioning (i.e, using the language we hear all the time in mental health). I would say that wouldn’t make it wrong. It would make it pointless. And pointless isn’t always wrong.

Other people may say yes, it’s wrong, because you’re avoiding life. You can’t cheat like that.

Then people go off on tangents of addiction, of blaming you for “putting your family through this”–similar to shaming you for considering suicide. Then they talk about death–you’ll kill yourself. You can see my analysis on THAT argument here.

I don’t quite know what the point of this post is anymore.

To indulge or not to indulge, that is the human question.