Posted in Community, Uncategorized, writing

World Book Day Lies

Serious question: is World Book Day today, March 4th, or Friday, April 23rd? Google and social media are conflicting sources of information right now. I guess they kind of always are.

Whatever day it may be, we’re going to talk more about Hollow Kingdom. I read another chapter. I’m really going chapter at a time here, guys, it’s hard. I’m stuck somewhere between absolutely despising every single word that comes from the narrator and absolutely loving some–SOME–of Butxon’s descriptions. This certainly is a book that showcases today’s type of modern fiction. A lot of contemporary authors who I’ve read, like Carmiel Banasky (The Suicide of Claire Bishop) and Dan Vyleta (Smoke) have intriguing plots with lackluster storytelling. What bothered me about The Suicide of Claire Bishop was the severe lack of understanding how delusions break. What bothered me in smoke is Vyleta could have went in so many different directions yet he went in the one he chose.

Ugh.

I’m a fan of Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck, John Irving, Tom Robbins, Louise Erdrich. I look for writing patterns, for dialogue development, for Easter eggs in the plot, for motifs, for meaning. I don’t much care for stories that just tell a story. I’m along for the ride, yes, but I’m also here for the art.

Back to Hollow Kingdom. I love some of her descriptions. For example, a crane fly with its “gangly legs and drunken flight” is simple but beautiful imagery. We all know how creepy those things look when they fly. In my house, we call them “Mosquito Eaters.” I have no idea if they eat mosquitos.

Some of S.T’s narration is entertaining. Take, for example, “I was in the basement, spitting pills down Big Jim’s gullet. How long did this go on for? Can’t say for sure–I’ve never fully grasped the concept of time–but I can tell you that I tried to follow Big Jim’s Big Boobs Hot German Girls calendar and that we got through one month (two whole German boobs).”

The problem I find with the narration is that a lot of the description is too often convoluted with the urge to sound deep. Sometimes simple is better. This line irks me in particular: “Dennis [the dog] even chased off taunting college crows and the malicious squirrels intent on tea-bagging the garden gnome.”

When the fuck have you ever seen a squirrel tea-bag a garden gnome? I’ve seen them crawl on the head and subsequently its balls might hang in the gnome’s face, but it’s not humping or squatting over the gnome, laughing like frat boys or ten year old children in Call of Duty.

Those kinds of descriptions are too rampant, and the only reason I criticize it is that they sound like they’re trying too hard to be humorous or stand out. You don’t need to push things like that on your readers. Let them get lost in your story and the way you write, not what you say. I’m damn near so focused on the weird narration that I forget a story is taking place.

For world book day, or fake world book day, whatever today is, I am intent on working more on editing my friends’ memoir, on editing my own manuscript, on submitting my short story to two potential publishers, and reading yet another chapter or two of Hollow Kingdom.

We WILL make it through this book, ya’ll.

We will.

Until next time.

Shiver me Timbers! You’re not following ThePhilosophicalPsychotic? Follow now! And join me over on Instagram @alilivesagain for post updates or on Twitter @Thephilopsychotic for whatever!

Posted in Community, Late Night Thoughts, Uncategorized, writing

250 Followers?!

We hit 250 followers and I’m appreciative of all of you. I’m thankful for the readers and the commenters and those of you who browse past without feeling the need to acknowledge you’ve read. I’ve been reading more of Hollow Kingdom, so I’ll have an update about that tomorrow. I’ve got to highlight some of the overarching descriptor sentences that keep grinding my gears.

I’d also like to say thank you to those of you adjusting to the switch of content on this website. I haven’t been reading a lot of psychology research lately, but when I find a good article (as in, a primary source) we’ll get back to some of our regularly scheduled programming too. I still need to update the website. I’ve mostly been writing songs, making sure I’m taking care of myself, and working on my short story I’m submitting this month. Forgive me if things take a little while to look right on the page of the site.

I also read a really beautiful essay written by Roy Scranton (I thought it said ScanTron like those blue things in college and high school you take multiple choice exams on) entitled “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene.” I might talk about that one tomorrow. Five months ago, my best friend of 14 years passed away suddenly after birth complications from a baby that she thought she’d miscarried fully. Philosophy, and particularly taoism, have helped me learn how to grieve and how to face my own morality. I’d like to share that wisdom with all of you, especially in this time of widespread death, fear, and terror.

It won’t be cuddly. We won’t talk about how everyone dies–that’s a given. We’ll talk about how we’re already dying, how we’re dying every day, every second. We won’t talk about how that means we have to live in the moment–that’s also a given. We’ll talk about how that means nothing matters in the sense that the focus and value we place on things is quite vain, and until we learn how to accept morality, face morality, and place it in the forefront of our mind without obsessing or fearing it, we’ll never learn how to live.

And last but certainly not least in any way, I’d like to thank those of you who remember me from Mentaltruths.com. I see some of you have followed this blog as well, and while my obscene rants about Alex Gorsky and the Risperdal scandal have no place on ThePhilosophicalPsychotic, I hope you remember that with the same fondness I do, and I hope you’ll also see my sarcasm hasn’t changed much. If anything, it’s matured and aged like fine fucking wine.

I appreciate you all. If you’re new, welcome. If you’re old, thank you for sticking around. If you’re not following–what the hell are you waiting for? Don’t forget to hit that follow/join/subscribe button, whatever you see, and also join me over on Instagram @alilivesagain. We have great fun there too and you’ll get updates and sneak-peeks on posts.

Until next time guys.

Meaning, like, tomorrow.

Goodnight.

Posted in Late Night Thoughts

Mental Health Month: Update #2

If this was a full-time position, I’d be fired by now.

I am struggling cognitively in a way that I haven’t in a few years. Writing is difficult. The post on Substance Use will be tomorrow evening after I get off work, granted my mind does not melt from my ears between right now (10pm) and 7pm tomorrow.

You all have been so patient with me, so kind, and have been thoughtful readers.

A big welcome to the many of you who have followed recently in these last three weeks. We will be on a grand writing adventure together.

Until tomorrow, friends

If you want to share your personal mental health experience (anonymously or otherwise) on my website, contact me on here or via my social media below:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

Posted in Late Night Thoughts, psychology, Therapy, travel

What Does Stability Look Like For You?

For some of us this simply means having three meals a day, our medication, an income (social security included) and a permanent roof over our head. For others that means a more than comfortable income, a full-time job, a family, and spare time to travel. Some of us haven’t asked ourselves about stability because it feels elusive.

Feeling Lost

This happens. Stability isn’t born out of stability, it’s born out of troubles and pain and the murky mist of a labyrinth; we are lost before we are found. Understanding that this pain exists because it must, because even pain needs space to breathe, is the first step to accepting the present.

It’s true some people are perpetually lost. There are those of us without shelter, without family, wandering the streets at the mercy of our madness. With poor resources and a poor outlook on mental health recovery, not enough people receive the services they deserve. Chances are, because you’re reading this now, you aren’t that person.

This does not mean compare your life. This does not mean you should feel guilty for having food, shelter, and family while still being in tremendous agony–it’s illogical to compare pains. We all struggle, we all suffer, and that’s that. What it means is that you are not perpetually lost. It means you have a greater chance at recovery. That’s a fact.

Because you have a greater chance at recovery, you also have a chance to help those without your advantage. You can give back. You can have purpose and be fulfilled while fulfilling.

In this we see that being lost is not a time to mourn. It is not a sign of predestined suffering or eternal pain. Being lost is an experience to be grateful for. It’s an experience that teaches us to teach others.

A Change of Perspective

Such a change of perspective isn’t a simple jump from “negative” to “positive”, but a deeper understanding of the beauty of pain and the expectations of happiness.

We often have a vain idea of what happiness means. This can turn into us holding ourselves to unrealistic standards, and when that standard isn’t met, we crumble, our self-worth tied up in our expectations.

We can also have a clear but misguided understanding of pain: we disregard it, try to ignore it, hate it, cry over it, damn it to hell. Therefore we glaze over areas of pain that help us grow, that show us what we really want for ourselves. When we break out of the darkness and into the light, we get wary of the brightness in anticipation of pain, completely discounting the contribution pain had made–if it were not for that darkness, we may not have had the opportunity to experience the light.

Rather than try and predict our pain, rather than set unrealistic expectations of happiness, a balanced absorbance of both experiences, no matter how rough or how euphoric, can present a new way of living, one in which we experience the rawness of ourselves.

Where will you go?

And so my question for you all is where will life take you? Where will pain take you? Where will happiness take you? What journeys can you start and end?

Dramatic change can yield dramatic results.

Stability for me is a comfortable income, a travel plan, proper meals, exercise, and a compassion toward my inner demons, without which I would be heavily medicated, deeply depressed, and unrealistically expecting a miracle.

For updates on posts, research, and conversations, follow me:

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Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you enjoyed this post, please share, like, and follow ThePhilosophicalPsychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to continue this joyous hobby.

Posted in Emotions, Late Night Thoughts, Therapy

February’s Scheduled Mental Breakdown

I like that I’ve already failed in keeping up with my scheduled posts. If I’m actually consistent with a goal I set, someone call 911 because my identity has been stolen.

This will be a short post and not research based. I’ll try and do these once a month. Again, if I *actually* do this once a month, call 911, stolen identity, yada yada.

I preach a lot about the benefits of self-care and ways to manage different experiences/symptoms. A lot of the time the information is helpful and the tips are ones I use myself. And so I wonder, because this happens to me at times: when none of your coping strategies work, what do you do?

I’ll write a more formal post on this idea later, with actual, helpful ideas, but at the moment I have no conception of supportive thought.

I suppose being aware of what your body and mind are feeling and why is important here. My possible reasons for this scheduled mental breakdown include:

  1. Family stress.
  2. Missing deadlines for an online class because of exhaustion from family stress.
  3. Impending death
  4. Health anxiety
  5. Re-activated PTSD symptoms, related to health.
  6. Loud thoughts/quiet voices
  7. Not believing my life is real
  8. Being trapped between school and work and unable to take a break from either.
  9. Believing my therapist, doctors, and friends believe I am a liar about my mental health. *Side note: anyone else ever felt this? That people think you’re just some fake person creating lies for attention? Anyone start thinking about it so much that you think maybe you are a fake and the last 6 years haven’t actually happened, you’re just confused? But then wouldn’t that actually make you crazy? Anyone? This is really fucking with me today.
  10. Physical health frustrations, including forcing my doctor to give me an EKG because I’m terrified of dying suddenly from Cardiac Arrest because of palpitations I’m not even sure are real (I have a history of feeling things in my body that aren’t happening–biofeedback proved it.)
  11. Feeling blank thoughts.
  12. Wanting to withdraw from people but knowing I shouldn’t and also that I can’t, given I must finish these courses and also go to work like a good citizen.
  13. I’ll never get serious mental health assistance because I live at home, in America, can handle working three days a week (barely), am enrolled in college, and have never been outwardly violent, disruptive, combative, or otherwise non-compliant (other than stopping medication). Instead, I spent months in my room, showering only if I went to work (had been on-call); I dropped my classes, spent all of my time playing Minecraft, did rituals to call the god Thoth for help/wisdom, listened to voices and loud thoughts, slept, had nightmares, didn’t sleep, and held maybe one or two short conversations with my parents who figured I was just “going through a phase”–but because none of this caused me to talk to myself or be disconnected in the way you’re expected to be, I don’t get taken seriously.
  14. Anxiety. Just. Anxiety.
  15. Drinking on the weekends.
  16. Not exercising like I was.
  17. Falling short on responsibilities.
  18. Forget *actually* being sandwiched between school and work. Just the feeling of being trapped.
  19. Falling short on personal expectations.
  20. The potential of wasting my potential.
  21. Financial issues

I think that’s a pretty solid list. The healthy thing would be to work through each issue one by one and identify things which can be easily changed and things which may just need to be felt and moved through. Accept that it could take weeks and that this is a rough patch.

But today I just feel like laying on the couch and being unhealthy. So maybe that’s what I will do. My cat seems to feel it; she’s never this cuddly.

Until next time.

For updates on posts, research, and conversations, follow me:

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Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you enjoyed this post, please share, like, and follow ThePhilosophicalPsychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to continue this joyous hobby.

Posted in Emotions, psychology, Supporting Friends/Family, Therapy

Distractions: For Better, or For Worse?

One of the popular coping mechanisms most often quoted by self-help websites, short articles, or purported “ways to help your anxiety” is distractions.

Distractions range from averting your attention to a video or a game to focusing on a particular object in the room. It can be reading, running, homework, or even social media. All of these tactics can be considered a way to remove your thought from dark, confusing, or anxiety riddled thoughts.

If you use distractions, I’d love to hear your experience with them. I will base this analysis on my experiences and the trainings I’ve participated in.

Distractions are often used in all states of frustration, but are commonly suggested for anxiety and depression. In anxiety, these are used as grounding techniques. Some distractions, like averting your attention to something in the room, is just that; you become more aware of the present, more aware of your body in the present, and less aware of the circular thoughts or racing heart rate (depending on your level of anxiety).

I have found this can be quite effective in myself, particularly when it comes down to the pre-panic state: you know, when you feel that warm, familiar wave of dread pass from your head to your toes, when your heart rate starts pumping hard, and your first thought is: here it comes. I had that moment in my old car one day. Terrified, I defaulted to what my therapist at the time suggested—look around and describe an object out loud. And so I did. By the time the light turned green, my panic had reduced over 50%.

None of the other techniques worked well for my anxiety. I found when watching a video, the voices in the videos became background noise to my own anxious circular reasonings. I couldn’t gain enough focus for reading, and any quiet activity (including meditation) only made me more aware of my racing heart. Often these distractions served to increase my anxiety.

Years ago I had taken a psychology course and learned more in depth about the executive functioning of the frontal lobe. I learned about the analytical and reasoning skills which often reside there. I also happened to be taking integral calculus at the time, and noticed a stark reduction in my anxiety while immersed in math.

You could hypothesize this was because the activity of math is very distracting; your focus is not on your thoughts or the world around you, your focus is on using the extremely helpful acronym ILATE (Integer, Logarithmic, Algebraic, Trig, Exponent) to decide how to tackle an integration by parts problem.

I tend to hypothesize that the brain activity that requires math can ease a flight/fight response. I tested my hypothesis a few times only on myself (that means, don’t take this THAT seriously, it’s an IDEA, not a FACT, and I had no control to PROVE that the brain activity required makes a difference). In my pre-panic mode, I did some calculus. Twenty minutes later I had finished my homework and forgot what I’d been so anxious about.

I didn’t just test it with calculus. I tried puzzles too, like Sudoku. It had a calming effect, but not with the same intensity. I used Algebra and easier, grade-school level math. The effect seemed equal to that of calculus. I hypothesized that something about the structure of formula, organization, and arithmetic calmed that flight/fight/panic sense more so than just the logical part of the activity (as we’d see in the solving of puzzles like Sudoku). If you’d like to read a little more about arithmetic, brain development, and implications, you can check out this study here, and browse the references too. I’d like to study this for real one day.

But for depression, this didn’t seem to be the case. I couldn’t muster the energy or the cognitive functioning required for math when depressed. In fact, I couldn’t muster either for any task and found myself lazing away, not bathing, not working, not seeing hope in a future.

Distractions for depression seemed illogical to me, even when I sat contemplating suicide. I didn’t want to put a bandaid on a broken leg, I wanted a way to fix the leg, I wanted something to snap the bone back in place so I could recover properly. Distractions never seemed to do this. Even when a distraction, like zoning out on YouTube, kept me from thinking about dying, I had to watch the videos constantly to get rid of the thoughts. And even then they’d sneak in.

Distractions for depression come from this ideal, I think, that thoughts of suicide and other painful things are inherently wrong. We shouldn’t be having them, so until we can get rid of them indefinitely, or as a way to stop you from acting of them, we put you in front of a screen or a book or the internet. Rather than encourage an exploration of the pain, we must remind you how wrong your pain is by suggesting you do everything possible to stray from it.

But if your pain is a Cougar, the last thing you want to do is turn your back and run.

And so we come to this conclusion similar to many things in psychology: both are right. Distractions can be useful until they become a life-line, until they become the only coping mechanism.

We could also safely say that there isn’t some finite list of coping mechanisms. I didn’t learn how precious math was to me until I experimented with my own inferences; a therapist would have never said, “hey, try math!”. This highlights something important about our mental health journeys, I think, and that something is: explore. There is no limit on what will or won’t help; try everything until there’s nothing else to try. And then try something else, because there’s always something else to try.

We get trapped under this idea that because something works for one person, it should work for us too. Problem is life doesn’t work like that. Distractions may save you pain. Distractions may cause you more pain. Medication may work, medication may not work. There is no perfect treatment because we understand maybe 1/6886th of the brain and its complexities. That should put you at ease, right?

If you have a particularly unique coping mechanism you’d like to share, pop it down below or find me on social media (also below).

I send updates on posts on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve also started a Writing Schedule: new posts will be on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If an idea can’t wait, I will post on a Sunday or a Monday (follow my Social Media accounts for that).

And as always, thank you for reading.

For updates on posts, research, and conversation, follow me:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you enjoyed this post, please share, like, and follow ThePhilosophicaPsychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to continue this joyous hobby.

Posted in Uncategorized

Yesterday

For some reason, yesterday’s post entitled How Important Are Your Psychiatric Meds was posted as three hours earlier than when I actually posted it. This caused the post to show up later in the tag feeds. Some of you managed to find it, but not everyone. If you haven’t read it, give that link a click!

Today there hasn’t been a full post because I’ve been in and out of the local hospital with my father, to my own physical therapy appointments, and to a thrift store. Tomorrow I work and will be at the hospital in the evening, but will try and belt out a post on their WiFi network. It just feels ill NOT writing a post one day.

If anyone has any ideas of a topic they’d like covered, shoot me an email, comment below, or find me on my social media:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @Philopsychotic

How has January been treating you all? Hopefully a little better than it’s been treating me! 2020 is a year of transformation, and with transformation and understanding comes pain and hardship.

Posted in Uncategorized

Totally Inconsistent

My writing schedule has been all over the place this last week and I apologize to those who have dedicated time to reading these posts. I work two overnight shifts in a row (Sunday and Monday) regularly, but have also gained a new connection in the mental health sector who I am interviewing with, and am planning a trip to a national park this weekend, so it’s been a little difficult to squeeze in quality writing time.

So, posts may be later throughout this week and into next. Today, this late post will be about how to manage panic attacks, and how to work through them. It’s something I think many of us have experienced at one time and the feeling of being out of control and unhinged is almost like a trauma.

So, stay tuned! Do not give up on me yet.

I haven’t been posting as much to my Instagram handle @written_in_the_photo, or my Twitter: @Philopsychotic either, but come and follow me there for more discussion and funny memes. We all love memes, right?

Thanks to everyone for joining this site as a follower recently! It’s great to have you all on this journey with me!

If you have any topic you’d like me to write about, you can send me a DM on Instagram or Twitter, or find my email in my CONTACT ME page.

Remember, wellness is possible.

You are more than enough, and anyone who says otherwise has no conception of your true self.

Posted in advocacy, Freedom, Peer Support

When We Can’t Stop Thinking

People say secrets keep us sick.

I’d like to relate this to mental health, but in order to do so, we must read this post with the understanding that I don’t consider our experiences a product of illness or an expression of a sickness. We also must assume this only has to do with secrets in-part. So I suppose it has nothing at all to do with that saying.

What I’m getting at is that there are things we do for ourselves that exacerbate or substantially perpetuate our experiences, and there are things we do for ourselves that foster alleviation. Identifying these things is one of the best ways to care for yourself.

For example, diet plays a huge role in my mental wellness. In one of my most upsetting states, I was eating over 200 grams of sugar a day, an unknown amount of fat, and at least 200-300 grams of carbs. Alongside antipsychotic medication, my weight ballooned. After getting off the medication, radically changing my diet, and implementing a structured exercise routine, my depression lifted for the first time in my life, my anxiety lessened, and heavy psychotic experiences were less frequent.

If I skip meals and eat foods rich in sugar or carbs, my experiences worsen again.

Some of us don’t realize what we put in our body effects our mental state. Some of us know, but struggle in the transition. Some of us just don’t want to transition. None of those ways are right or wrong. But they have different consequences.

Some people have learned to take care of themselves through other peers, others with lived mental health experience. I mention this specifically because it’s what I attribute a lot of my own learning to, and also because it’s part of awareness and advocacy; we’ve been on that kick for a couple days now on this site.

What I’ve noticed is that telling your story can be both freeing and suffocating. There are some people who are able to write a blog about themselves, or speak about themselves, or start a small non-profit advocacy program and live a healthy life. There are others who do the same, but are engrossed on the internet and social media, who tell their story so much that their entire life is dedicated to mental health.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either. But what I notice is that it doesn’t seem healthy for everyone. I think it becomes detrimental when all you talk about is your bad days, or your good days, your experiences, what makes life difficult, and all these things that only serve to remind you how different and/or limited you are. The more that mindset is fed, the less life is lived.

What I mean by that is when you separate yourself from the whole of society, in a good way or a bad way, you start forgetting you’re apart of that society.

I remember being so engrossed in my depression and anxiety, before I experienced any altered states. And it wasn’t just the experience taking up all my time, because depression and anxiety are both all-encompassing, but it was the fact that I spent all my time thinking about both. I’d think about it in a positive light too. I’d blog my experience and talk to others about it; we’d relate and it was a positive moment in a lot of darkness. But it kept my thoughts trapped in this bubble.

People also like to say in mental health that “We are not our illness”. Again, assume that for this post, and for any post on this site, I do not adhere to the terminology “illness”, “disorder” or “sickness”, but the fact is if you spend all of your time talking about your experiences, in a positive or negative light, you are basically your “illness”.

NOT being your “illness” would entail you living life. It would entail you understanding that yes, sometimes things are hard, but that doesn’t make you special.

That’s another thing about certain advocates. Everything is about mental health–everything. Why focus so much on the hardships? Why not focus on the things you’ve been able to do because you’ve gotten support and found a healthy path? Why not show people what they could potentially do were they to also find their path? That would encourage me, at least. What doesn’t encourage me is people saying #depresssionfeelslike.

I gained a lot of freedom from getting involved in other things besides mental health and from hanging around friends without mental health struggles. Every once in a while I’ll talk about things, express views, but I do it at appropriate times and if people are willing to hear.

Sometimes people think I don’t blurt my diagnosis or experiences because I’m ashamed. Really it’s because I’m not a sum of any diagnosis or any experience. I don’t need to say, “yes I graduated with schizoaffective”. I just graduated. And that’s the whole of it.

Travel. Show yourself you can do something unrelated to the terror in your mind. Volunteer. Find a passion. Reignite a passion. Meet people. If people are too much, maybe a hobby. I’ve had to push myself away from reading fiction books with mental health characters because I want to remind myself I’m still in the world, even when I feel like I’m not.

I want to remind myself there is so much more out there than what’s just in my head.

I think we often forget that.

Would you like to continue the conversation, see silly (and beautiful) potos, or nonsensical two-second videos? Great! Follow me:

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If you liked this article, please share it, hit the like button, reblog, and follow ThePhilosophicalPsychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to continue this joyous hobby.

Posted in advocacy, Emotions, Peer Support, psychology

Update Post

Tomorrow we will discuss what happens when we get so stuck in our mental health experiences that they become our lives. Sometimes this even leads to forgetting we have a life, or forgetting we have true potential to live the life we’ve always wanted.

Today I have prior engagements to attend to. I have no time to really focus on this post like I want to. Tomorrow will be free.

If you’d like to keep up with me outside of this blog and see how possible it is to live a productive and generally satisfying life with a schizoaffective label, pop on over to my primary social media:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter @Philopsychotic

I talk about struggles, epiphanies, and good days, bad days, and ask questions on Instagram and Twitter. I’d be happy if you joined the journey!

Until tomorrow, dear readers.