Message to fellow psychiatric survivors

I am a psych survivor, too. So I recall just like you do the ghettoized life we led while we were patients. We were either institutionalized within psych prisons, held in halfway “houses,” sometimes called “homes,” ironically, or coerced into spending our days in “day treatment” which isolated us in “treatment communities,” effectively silencing us. All this kept our communities very happy. Ah, the Crazies are out of our hair and out of trouble! A silent Crazy is a Good Crazy! However, I don’t agree with that, do you? A silent Crazy isn’t a very happy Crazy! In fact, a silent Crazy is a trapped one, a Crazy who only wants his freedom to live like anyone else.

We all have the right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression. These mean we all are free to be who we are. Being isolated within the confines of a “treatment community” is demeaning and demoralizing, almost like we were being “kept” or still imprisoned, or we were only being fooled into thinking we had equal rights. We did not. Was it all that great living like lepers?

Let’s not still live like lepers, then. We do  not need more mini-Day Treatment in the form of online communities! An online community is great as a stepping stone, but when it becomes the end-all, that is what it becomes. The Dead End Day Treatment for Psych Survivors. Sorry, but it is. I think the Establishment is thrilled that there are these forums now, including Facebook, to keep the masses that aren’t in real “treatment” off the streets and out of trouble. This keeps the phone lines of the House and Senate free of calls from psych survivors, because it was oh so nasty when they were calling all the time. Facebook and the forums are so handy to distract them from real activism.

So what I am saying is that the survivor commu8nity needs to realize that the forums are great, but keep it in proportion. Use it for networking, but If you Talk the Talk, then Walk the Walk, please. Don’t just yap (text) all day and do nothing. Because if that’s what you’re doing, you’re choosing to remain silent and inactive.

So I ask, if you’re STILL complaining about your life on these forums, and still silent and inactive….then I really don’t feel too sorry for you. Go walk the walk and spend less time complaining.

Uh oh, look who trump’s mental health appointee is

Here’s the latest from David Oaks, who reports that Trump is appointing an advocate for forced outpatient drugging and a person who does not support the notion of “recovery.”

Speak Out to Break the Silence: President Trump Appoints Mental Health Leader Who Campaigned for Involuntary Outpatient Drugging

IT’S CONSIDERED RUDE TO EMBARRASS THE RICH, BUT IT’S JUST FINE TO BELITTLE SOMEONE FOR USING FOOD STAMPS.

Have you ever been in one of those awkward money situations when you don’t want to say anything but the obvious financial discrepancies just plain get to you?

Me too.

The other day, I saw an article in the paper, one of those “Guts and determination” articles. It was an eye-opener, or appeared to be at first. I read it and said, “Wow.” But then I read again.

Lemme describe it to you (without giving away the particulars). Ann (not her real name) is told by her doctor that she has a horrible degenerative disease. She will only get worse, and die. So she decides to run a marathon.

Of course, journalists love this. They love to write stuff like this. It sells, doesn’t it? A guts and determination story. An Against All Odds story. One of those stories we love, since there’s a winner in it after all. However, I saw the other stories woven into it.

I noted the photos that either the journalist or corresponding photographer took. Here we have Ann running in her neighborhood. Do I see crumbling streets, houses falling apart, boarded-up businesses, and garbage along the sides of the streets that never got cleaned up? No! Her home is worth a fortune as are the others I see on her street. She is married and her husband works at a company some of you readers have heard of, by the way. Perfect shiny streets paved with gold, ah………

As I re-read the article, I read about the equipment, the fancy trainers, the gyms, the saunas, and luxury that Ann “had” to go through to get herself to the marathons she now runs in. Poor Ann!

I want to know if the story is really about guts and determination anymore? Or is it about financial differences between us? Who can afford these luxuries and who cannot? Who can afford the fancy gyms, and who can’t?

Those of us who can’t are undoubtedly doing what we can, but doing it the budget version. We can’t afford the fancy kind, and rarely do you see us in the papers. Life’s most amazing heroes, those we love and cherish, have been right here all along, and many are unsung, in fact.

I’m not saying anything about Ann. I don’t know Ann personally and for sure she’s a fine human being. I just question the Guts and Determination approach of the article. Somehow the elephant was in the room there. I couldn’t help but notice the affluence, and I felt like I had to hold my tongue just to be “polite” even though if I said something, no one was going to be there to hear it.

See, we’ve been conditioned to be polite to the wealthy. We’ve been told if we EVER think anything about their being “greedy” we’d better keep our mouths shut. Not a word!!! Oh no! Only but praise for “a lifetime of hard work” even though we know deep down it was mostly inherited or “good luck” or “they were born into money.”

Now for those that weren’t….Do we think twice about criticizing? If you have EVER experienced humiliation at the cash register for using food stamps, then you know what it’s like to be humiliated for being poor. Have you ever had your knapsack searched, or were followed around by a sales clerk pretending to be dusting shelves, or were asked to remove your hat or hood at a convenience store for security reasons?

Has your food stamps PIN not worked at the machine, and then, you were further humiliated and told, “YOU HAVE TO CALL THEM.” Or told you are “out of money. Sorry.” when you know you aren’t? or told you’re stealing? Or told to “get a job”?

And this is considered okay, not even grounds for firing, while saying ONE WORD to suggest a person who is affluent MIGHT be a bit greedy is considered rude.

The journalist didn’t say word, either, not to Ann, and not in the article, but as far as I could tell, something was missing here. Ann had guts and determination, but the story didn’t tell us something else that was vital. Ann was extremely lucky because she had the money to pay to train for a few marathons. Of course that would have spoiled the plot, though.

 

Is your drug list your only resume? Get a life, please……

I am saddened that at places such as survivingantidepressants dot com, participants (who are not allowed to use real names, but are REQUIRED to identify by location, oddly) are also encouraged to list a resume (CV, as it is now called) of drugs. That’s right, folks, a resume, or listing of drugs they got off! This is the listing of stripes on the uniform.

“I successfully got off Abilify!”

“I am drug-free.”

And this is supposedly the great accomplishment, the status symbol. And get this: the “sickness” is “withdrawals.” But the “withdrawals” can range from something rather tangible (something you can sue for) to something so vague it will NEVER show up on a medical test such as an xray. Show me the withdrawals, please! Where is the rash?

Ah, how handy! Many of these folks are collecting disabilty checks or depending on parents or spouse for an income. Now, they can continue doing the same, since “withdrawals” are keeping them conveniently DISABLED. They can keep doing it, claiming they’re still sick, and keep doing it for the next few years, for the most part, with nothing actually tangible going on. Just like the brain disease or chemical imbalance that didn’t exist, they’re playing the same ole game, but don’t want to admit it.

And of course, the scare tactics are handy, too. What a great reason to stay on the drugs longer! Stay disabled, stay dependent longer and stay sick! Great. All this adds up to excuses.

I swear so many are addicted to the online forums and don’t have a life anymore. Is your drug list your only status symbol?

I suppose it’s okay to parade around with this accomplishment for a little while, but after the party’s over, find something else to do, please.

It’s their business if they want to require or encourage posters to post such resumes as their signatures. How about other life accomplishments? Or don’t they mean anything anymore? Remember in the System how that happened, how our old lives were wiped out by our diagnoses and symptoms? Sadly, I see that happening, and I also see people using “withdrawal” to excuse bad behavior or as excuse to not live their lives.

I’m not saying withdrawal is nothing, but don’t latch onto it just because it’s a handy excuse to stay on the disability rolls or because you’ve read some stories about other people’s nightmares and you’re totally swept away by the scare tactics. And don’t let your drug withdrawal life take over and wipe out Who You Are. This is exactly what they Mental Health System did. All over again.

The truth about damages from psych drugs vs “withdrawal” scare tactics from both sides of the fence

We are being bombarded via the media from the NAMI side and also, from the psych survivor side about the horrors of “withdrawal” and I believe we need to get ourselves back into a realistic mindset here.

Don’t do psych drugs! Period! These are harmful pills whether they are “prescribed” or not! In fact, a prescription makes them more harmful, not less harmful, because a prescription fools the user into thinking the drug is “safe” or “okay” or “not addictive.” This is total bullshit. Whether it’s street Valium or from the drugstore, it will harm you the same. Even if the doc says it’s okay, the harms will still happen, and you need to be aware that a smiling face and “nice bedside manner” cannot erase, take back, nor justify drug harm. Many of these drugs are very hard to get off, too.

Now regarding “withdrawal.” On both sides, the scare tactics run high. You will be harmed by drugs for sure, but only a segment of you will be harmed by “withdrawal.” Many will not feel any “withdrawal” effects whatsoever. It’s a total Russian Roulette and most doctors cannot predict how you’ll do nor whether that bullet will end up in your head. That ole MD is not a guarantee of competency when if comes to plain ole “we don’t know.” However, think of it this way: Drugs do much harm, and if the drugs are CURRENTLY causing very serious harm then you should stop taking these scare tactics seriously (no matter who is shoving them at you) and save your life.

Here’s an example: You wake up one day and have a rash and a fever. You notice this is a particularly nasty rash and you are feeling worse and worse. Finally, you go to your primary care doctor who tells you you have a rash from Lamictal and you MUST immediately be cared for inpatient and you’ll have to go off Lamictal. NOW. Because the rash will kill you.

Do you worry about night sweats now? Do you worry about brain zaps? Do you worry about the shakes? Do you worry about a headache?

Folks, get over it. Please. Do you want to die, or do you get off the damn drugs?

On the other hand, killing people while you are in withdrawal, or jumping in front of a car is serious. Yes it can happen, but take your pick between the least of the horrors please. It can also happen FROM these very same drugs. So there. Just don’t take them if possible and avoid the entire hellish nightmare. Stay away.

How your ex-friends ruin the telephone experience (and what can be done about it)…..

Did your ex-friends spoil the phone for you by guilt-tripping you EVERY SINGLE TIME you called? Did they make you feel like you were walking on eggshells with them? Do you feel like you have to ASK PERMISSION to call people lest you lose them as friends because of your ex-friends labeling you with various nasty names over the years? Are you afraid of being called that again if you pick up the phone and reach out?

If this fits you, then you are not alone. If, in the past, you called your buddies and they acted like you were a violent person who was going to come ATTACK them if they ever answered the phone (so they avoided you every single time and never picked up) then you are not alone. Do you subsequently feel guilty if you fail to ask permission from your new friends before calling them? “Can I call? Is now okay?” If you feel like you have to ask, if you feel like you have to double-check every time, or send an email first, you’re not alone. Gone are those carefree days when we could just pick up the phone and say, “Hey, how are you?”

It’s just too complicated now. You gotta text first and get permission. No, I’m not a criminal. No, here’s my ID. No, I got clearance. It’s really me. I’m not fake. I really don’t have a criminal record. I’m not on drugs. I’m not here to sell anything. I’m not high. I’m clean. I have not had a smoke in __ years. I’m not trying to sell you drugs. I am not a shoplifter.  Do I have to pee in cup before calling, too? Pass a psych clearing test? And when we’re on the phone, will you have your other hand on a panic button, ready to call 911 any minute “in case she blows”?

I don’t need that kind of friend. My exfriends ruined the phone for me. I wish that never happened. A friend isn’t someone who sees you as dangerous. Or potentially so. Hey, whoever claims to be psychic must have a huge ego, eh?

So nowadays, I try to get over it when I want to call my friend and I feel like I have to “ask permission” first. I should just call, but that little birdie called “trauma” tells me I’m good for nothing and tells me to “warn” the person and ask permission. Because little birdie reminds me that it wasn’t too many years ago that I was seen as a dangerous mental patient, was it?

If they do not see you as a nut, you aren’t one. This is the formula. Follow it, if you can.

New Plan: Book reviews

Seeing as I am not very good at collaboration I plan to take a different approach as far as writing goes. My performances are going ahead full steam at this point so I am very happy about that. Writing-wise, I hope to write book reviews from the point of view of “usefulness to psychiatric survivors” and see if I can get these reviews published.

Collaborative projects are not working too well for me right now, or any suggestion of collaboration, in fact. I have tried. I have tried suggesting conference calls, feeling that this might be especially useful to folks who have stated they’d like to convene on topics of similar interest. I have tried contacting people I THOUGHT would be interested but they tell me they are “too busy.”

My idea of “online book club” flopped immediately. No interest, I suppose. Does anyone read anymore? Does anyone (besides me) have interest in anything besides TV and Facebook?

I suggested to MIA that maybe since they offer classes, they’d want to offer a writing class for survivors. Well, no, they said flat out NO. NO NO NO NO NO.

I’ve also asked MIA if they will publish anymore of my articles. They say NO. They will publish “Op Ed,” that is, journalism. I don’t write journalism, although the truth is, they’ll publish pretty much ANYTHING written by a big name, and simply call it “Op Ed.” Yes, it sucks. A few of the recent articles I’ve seen up there I wondered if they even looked at before they published. But that’s publishing for you.

I can’t really expect cooperation or generosity from anyone or anything these days. I’m going to write a critical book review, try to submit it and see where that goes.

Meanwhile…..

My fridge broke but my freezer still functions fine, so I have been freezing ice blocks and keeping them in freezer boxes to keep the veggies cool. It works a little but makes a racket and on the highest setting barely cools anything. But the freezer is fine. The current arrangement is MUCH more efficient, works better, keeps veggies longer, is MUCH quieter, and I imagine I save a bundle on electricity. I have the refrigerator completely off now. I can’t believe I didn’t realize they were independently controlled. I am also in the process of fixing my stove. It’s been out of order for over a month now, missing a part. This is okay as I have a hotplate, so I don’t miss the stove at all.

Meanwhile, one sink seems to leak, but I’m honestly not sure how. Is the leak coming from a pipe, or is it water from outside? Whichever it is, it’s been doing it since long before I got here. I don’t think it’s due to my error. I’ve had the hot water in that sink shut off for months now, and I only use it for drinking water. I have a dish underneath to catch whatever drips, and the drip water I collect and dump elsewhere, rather than allowing it to go down the drain. Otherwise, I’d say the sink looks nice, sitting there, but otherwise isn’t really useful. Maybe I can plant flowers in it, or do something else super creative.

I purchased a used computer for about USD $30 and for under $4 found a USB flash drive on sale. Then I downloaded a free file from the Linux developers. It seems they’ve come up with a new version called Serena (Mint 18.1) this as the next step from Rebecca (Mint 18.0). I tried Serena in my “new” machine as a tryout off the USB. I must admit I had to format the USB about five times before it became properly “bootable.”

I am delighted with Serena’s accessibility options, so I decided almost immediately to replace the OS that was in the “new” machine with the brand new Linux. All that took about an hour to install the files, though I didn’t really time it. The next day the system had many updates to do, but all that happens in the background. You don’t have to DO anything. Had I truly been cost-conscious, I would have casually allowed my “new” machine to update while I sipped on a cup of coffee in a cafe with free wifi. I am hanging onto the USB drive in case I want to install Linux Mint Serena into any more machines. I have Rebecca in my other machine. The developers are going to inform users on how to update from 18.0 to 18.1, so you don’t have to take everything out and then put everything back in, as I imagine a quick update would be far less time consuming. Only one “bug” I found was that adding 18.1 messed up the wifi driver. It’s still there, and the device isn’t broken, but rather than spend hours fussing away, I plugged in a dongle and solved that problem. If you ever run into this, a simple wifi dongle costs under $10.

When something lost gets found again after many years…or, rather, decades

Folks don’t even realize this, but I used to be a musician. In fact, when I was a girl growing up just about all I did was music. I drove my school teachers crazy because I refused to do my other school work.

I remember the lectures back then. “If you don’t….” and then, all kinds of scare tactics about “career” and “college” that didn’t apply really. See, the truth was that after we girls got to a certain age, no matter what, most all of us got pushed into marriage anyway, whether we wanted that or not. So what on earth was the point of studying if this thing “income” was going to be “husband’s income” for most of us? What was this thing “career” if most of the girls were going to end up appendages to some man?

I had no clue that I would succeed at refusing to fall prey to the coercion. I knew I could TRY to refuse, but would I succeed in weaseling my way out of it? Was there a pathway, some secret tunnel, or would I get stuck in some marriage I didn’t want? What could I do?

I saw these girls falling for it, one by one. To me, marriage looked like slavery. Period. I couldn’t comprehend it any other way. I knew my mom wasn’t slave to my dad, because you couldn’t enslave my mom (it was NOT possible to enslave a dancer, was it?) but I also saw my parents as the “Big Exception” some Other World that I’d never find for myself.  They were another generation. Other people. I was not them, I was ME. Different. Girls my age ended up slaves. I didn’t see any positive role models of marriage who were my own age.  So I figured all that was not for me.

So the “you HAVE get good grades” was totally irrelevant as far as I was concerned. I did music for the love of it as much as I wanted. When I got to college I got to do music all the time as a music major, and that opened a whole new world for me. “Hey, I LOVE studying and practicing!” Why? Because it was fun. I had a blast at it. I kept doing it. I was good at it. I remember having so many fun times, getting along with others, playing duets late at night, all the rehearsals, long hours in practice rooms, so many concerts, church gigs, laughter, joking around about stuff only musicians understand, losing my sheet music at the last minute and then, finding it again (phew!), opening my trumpet case at the beginning of the rehearsal only to find out my mouthpiece is MISSING….(every trumpet player’s nightmare…) valve oil leaking on my clothes, the jokes about it afterward, the borrowed spare mouthpiece (thank you!), passing around valve oil to guy who always forgot his, my pal who always showed up stoned to rehearsals but never missed a single note….

I remember it was always the same person who did the audio recordings for us. Presto! Like magic, each and every one. What fancy equipment we had back then, microphones, speakers…all that now replaced by 21st Century techno wizardry beyond anything we could have possibly dreamed of back then.

In 1981, which was decades ago, when I was 23 years old, I stopped doing music entirely. Stopped dead cold. All that gone. Stolen.  Poof!

I look back and feel sorry for my parents, who wondered what the heck happened. Gone? Over? Just like that?

It’s hard to believe that all my high school teachers couldn’t convince me to just do a little less music and a little more “homework,” but PSYCHIATRY was so, so powerful that it stopped my music entirely. Killed it.

Really? Did that really happen?

Do you recall the story of that Princess who ate a poison apple? She didn’t quite eat it, because it got stuck. Yeah, I know that’s gross, but we kids put up with a lot of grossness when we were little, didn’t we? That apple sat in her throat for how long? A hundred years! She wasn’t dead. She was sleeping.  Only sleeping.

That is what happened to my music. Psychiatry only thought they killed my music, but they didn’t! They failed! They fail at everything! My music’s been asleep, that’s all. For a while.

You might wonder why I am writing this silly story. Why I am making up this Sleeping Beauty stuff and changing it around to be a story about “career” and “psychiatry.” I’m doing this to encourage anyone out there.

If you think your life was squashed by someone or something, destroyed halfway, interrupted maybe, or waylaid…think again. Maybe it was. I sure called mine “stolen” for a long time.

For a long time I wondered about all those years that I studied music and I wondered how on earth I could bring back that part of my life. Lately, though, I’ve been realizing I’m already bringing it back. Living it.

I took up writing after ECT (Electroshock) because writing had sustained me after the damages caused by the shock. Writing had helped me survive the shock, and helped me survive the coverup that the doctors and their institution tried to pull on me. Then I managed to earn my degrees.

What I found out, especially in graduate school, is that I love reading for an audience. There aren’t too many courses for writers that teach writers how to get up and perform! Many writers dread that part. Thankfully, I took to it naturally because of my musical background. After grad school, I sought out coffeehouses and other venues where I could read aloud.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed public speaking. I discovered I am really good at it. Public speaking is almost like a cross between reading aloud and acting. I am never at a loss for subject matter these days. I find that I can bring together all my musical knowledge and everything I learned in writing school, too, and all my life experiences as “patient” and to pull off a truly stellar presentation.

Psychiatry didn’t kill anything. No way. Hey, the kid is back! What happened after Sleeping Beauty woke up, anyway? Weren’t there some Dwarves involved? Seven? Or twelve? Wait a minute, I’m kinda short myself, so maybe I should just run off with them instead and have a party. My dog Puzzle too. Only she gets liver instead of cake.