What our Movement needs is a name

Since the beginning of time, humans have been distinguished from animals because we had this penchant for naming things. We name our babies when they are born; thus, one’s name is the very first word that describes, specifically, who one is.

A psychiatric diagnosis is another form of naming. Once a person is diagnosed, he or she is handed a role to play, with set of pre-formed characteristics, quirks, and of course, “limitations.” Some, once given this role, play it well, while others, a minority, reject the role and leave the System behind, if they are able.

Both one’s name, and one’s diagnosis, declare what or who a person is. Naming says, “You are…” Our names define us and shape who we become, despite our pleas and denial.

In the Bible, the text used in many traditions, we humans were told by God to name all the animals. Naming not only animals, but all we see before us becomes what we know as spoken and written language.

When a writer writes a book, he or she might have a title in mind. In graduate school I learned that having a “working title” helps to frame the book. A working title, whether the writer keeps that title or changes it, frames the narrative. “I am writing about this, not that.” I found that it writing got easier once I had a working title to my thesis, (which, by the way, I changed later on).

What do we call our Movement? I notice we don’t have a specific name for it. Some use the term antipsychiatry, but others don’t like the association to the CCHR. We used to hear Mad Pride much more than we do now. Some say the term has been co-opted by pro-psychiatry groups. If we refer to ourselves as psychiatric survivors, and therefore, call ourselves the Psychiatric Survivor Movement, we exclude our allies, such as the many parents who have joined us, protecting children against harm.

If we are to succeed, we need to choose a unified name for ourselves. A name would define us and set us more solidly along a path toward our goals.

Armed with our name, we will know what to call ourselves. We won’t have to shrug and say, “The Movement” which might sound dubious (even delusional) to anyone unfamiliar with our circles.

Naming ourselves will surely strengthen us. It will help bring more patients and concerned citizens to realize the truth. Naming ourselves might even give us more clout in the media.

I’m not going to suggest a name, nor choose among the great ones we already have. I’m only asking that we consider solidifying our cause this way.

How therapy fucked up how we see anger

The psychotherapy industry gave anger a bad rap. While most therapists won’t admit “Anger is negative,” they imply exactly that.

They will have you do exercises to exorcise that demon called Anger. Get your anger out. What is the REAL message here? Clearly, Anger is this poisonous emotion. Actually, that’s a fallacy.

Anger isn’t good nor bad. It’s like the color red. Is red good? Bad? See? Anger isn’t a moral issue, but the psychotherapy industry has created Demon-image of it.

I ask: Why can’t I just feel it, enjoy it, use it to motivate me? I don’t see it as a negative force in my life. Anger NOW does more good for me than harm. And if anyone says otherwise, aren’t they putting words into my mouth?

It’s really okay to have a feeling. It’s not a sin. The only “sin” mentioned in the Bible, the Ten Commandments, that is, is coveting one’s neighbor’s wife. Is that the same as jealousy, or envy? Or some form of The Grass is Greener?

When I was a kid, and, in fact, until 2011, I was passive and naive. I let people walk all over me and I never said anything. I can’t say their actions ever got me pissed off, but sometimes if a person was really cruel I felt stressed out over it. I suppose if anyone talked, they might have called me a pushover.

I got into a few situations where people took money from me. I had a hard time learning my lesson from these experiences. I kept on being a sucker, believing what I was told, not saying much.

Some of you have been following here for a while. Do you think I’d remain silent if someone took money from me now? If someone tried to take advantage of me, do you think I’d let it keep happening?

I know I am a stronger person now. Allowing myself to feel pissed off has helped me speak up for myself. It helped me leave the mental system. It helped me get over my eating disorder. It helped me stay alive.

I ask…Since when is anger such a terrible emotion? I don’t throw things, I don’t hit anyone, I don’t scream, I don’t cry. I do cry when reading sad books but I don’t let anyone see me. Since when is anger so bad?

It brought me to the Movement, too. Our collective anger at the inhumane and cruel way we were treated in the nuthouses fuels us and keeps our Movement going. It keeps me writing, a lot of writing. It helps me generate ideas and gets me excited and hopeful.

Anger is the one thing that fuels my belief that we still have a chance here on this planet. Much as we’ve mucked things up, I believe somehow that our voices will he heard at last. And all that feels very very good.

Excuses

Excuses for Bad Behavior

We learn very bad habits in the System. One of these bad habits is behaving badly and thinking we’re entitled to do so. We’re excused. Off the hook. We can’t be expected to act responsibly, so we don’t.

This is incorrect, a fallacy that sadly, the System is very good at teaching people. It is a tough habit to break. We think it’s okay to fuck up but really, we’re not above our debts, we’re not beyond apology, either.

I was shocked when I first witnessed such excuse-making. I am not going to go into detail here. I was young and naive. I saw someone break the law, then, turn to me and say, “It’s okay, I had a rotten childhood.” When she was caught, that is, nailed for what she did, she burst into tears and told the police she couldn’t help herself; she was a patient, after all…. Apparently this, she claimed, and her terrible childhood excused her totally. She was never fined.

I have seen bad behavior, people being rude, the kind of thing you see on the wards. I suppose folks forget…We aren’t there anymore, right? But the System has drilled it so deeply into our heads. It’s okay to act out. Okay to cry, scream, throw things. Why?

In therapy, they actually encouraged that kind of thing. They cheered us on when we cried. Even hitting got excused. That was “getting your anger out,” seen as a positive and healing action.. Didn’t anyone know that if you do that outside the ghetto you’ll get fired, kicked out, or dragged back to the nuthouse?

What about carrying a stuffed animal around with you? Okay if you’re two years old, cute, in fact. Both my baby brothers did that and so did all the other toddlers. I feel sad when I see stuffed animal on the bus, and I see that a lot, sadly. I watch them and then I sigh…More therapy addicts. I was just like that when I was about 30, sadly.

I am surprised at how many adults act out, throwing their cell phones against the wall or having a “fit.” I ask myself where on Earth they learned that?

Another lousy excuse I hear fully grown adults making is, “But I was drunk then.” I ask who drank. Didn’t the person lift the drink to his lips? There is no alcohol god that sweeps down and dribbles booze down our throats. But they continue to blame “my addiction.” As if the addiction were a separate entity, outside of them, and they, of course, are faultless.

Malingering link from psych journal

This is really comprehensive

Determination of Malingering in Disability Evaluations

I am posting this link not to offend anyone by suggesting that any of my readers might be malingering. Undoubtedly, though, you know someone who is. The person down the street who has “back pain” yet runs an ebay business full time making $2000 a month. The mom with debilitating agoraphobia who regularly attends concerts and school events.

I didn’t see in that article much about doctors who put people on disability fraudulently. We know such doctors exist. Undoubtedly this has been in the papers a number of times. Usually, though, the malingering patient pays the doctor, then, gets the fraudulent papers.

If you peek toward the end much is there about why people fake or exaggerate a disability.  Hating one’s job might top the list. Note that timing is also supposed to be taken into account.

I am thinking if I could find my first evaluation, which I suppose is kept by Social Security, this first one would certainly not reveal any psychosis. He asked very boring questions and I answered them. The second one, the fraudulent one, said I had schiz.This was done without an interview and I was not privy to the papers. I may have been asked to sign something but if I did, I didn’t see “schiz” there, or was too afraid to say anything. However, to my recollection no one at the facility where I was kept had ever noted psychosis as a complaint nor in observation.

I guess they didn’t know what to do with me. They couldn’t deal with eating disorders, didn’t know anything about what I was going through so I guess they defaulted to what most people were given.

I really want those papers.

Facebook is a danger to yourself and others

Check this out: https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/27/facebook-ai-suicide-prevention/

My opinion? I suspect this is real, but what they do is comb for keywords. For instance, if a “friend” (note quotation marks) refers you to mental health “services” or refers you to the cops  or a suicide prevention hotline….Yikes, you’ve just been flagged by Facebook. What can be done?

Of course, not using Facebook is an option. Obviously, at this point even mentioning it in a sentence should be avoided.

Or, move to Europe where they have privacy laws.

Or…..Use a Europe IP. You can do this with a VPN. Now, you’re from France or whatever. Change your location to Brussels and now you’re safe.

I ask….if they can crawl for suicide keywords, what else can they crawl for? Mention of Thomas Szasz? Probably not as most spell if wrong. How about the word ‘Withdrawal”?

If you call it Electroshock you’re delusional…It’s TREATMENT…….Uh oh….Here they come……

Folks it is gonna get worse before it gets better.

Whistleblowing and bridge-burning part 2

Whistle-blowers that I have known personally have often stayed with their jobs. You might wonder why. I can see why they do simply for the paycheck, for one thing. Secondly, they build a professional reputation. It looks good to stay on the job. Some stay to glean more information, but when the workplace finds out this is happening, they usually find a reason to let the worker go.

Whistleblowing is a service a person does to keep the company honest. Patient whistleblowers also help keep medical providers and institutions honest and ethical. If no one spoke out, imagine what they’d get away with!

The truth is, you really cannot go back. You won’t get good care, if you even get any care at all. Your risk of abuse gets higher the longer you stay. However, some people are too dependent on the System and have no clue how to leave.

I tried several times to switch providers altogether after the shock of the 2011 abuse (forced dehydration). I tried moving all my care to Boston Medical Center which was apparently a different system. How on earth I expected my records not to follow me I have no clue.

I was told I’d have to see a PCP first. I was handed one at random. It was around April 2012 I think. This guy was a jerk from the onset. I couldn’t believe I was switching to him. I knew if I did, it would be a terrible mistake. I was scared to go back for a followup, too. They scheduled me for a psychiatry appointment. I couldn’t believe I had to have a “group psychiatry” appointment. I figured I’d be the only one there with ED and feel like a total misfit. I also knew the chances of the psych knowing anything about ED were next to nil. I went home, called them a few days later, told them I had conflict and would call back to reschedule.A while later I canceled the follow-up with the PCP, and that ended that ordeal. I continued to receive snail mail reminders about the flu shot.

There was another attempt I made, also in 2012. This was at Somerville Health Center, with an NP. I had very bad edema. She told me to come back in a week and if it was worse, she’d hospitalize me. OH NO!

A week later,the day before the appointment, the edema was far worse. I called, knowing the consequences should I show up, and told them I needed to reschedule and I would call back. I did, but then, they told me she “was on leave” and they had no clue where she was nor whether she’d be back. Did I want to see someone else? I decided I needed to take myself off that hook, too.

So I made two attempts to leave MGH and that crew, for naught, prior to Dr. Pearson’s threats in April 2013, telling me her supervisors were demanding I go on antipsychotics so I would be incapacitated, that is, so I would not be able to write anymore. I was really scared over how she was acting in her office. Her behavior was certainly worthy of forced lockup but I was scared and said nothing.  She was shouting so loudly I was scared other shrinks and other patients heard her. They must’ve thought it was a crazed patient! She was really that bad. I was embarrassed after a while, just wanted to slink out of there.

I ran into a neighbor who told me about Harvard Vanguard. He seemed to think it was “great.” I kept telling myself I kinda knew he was an addict, but I kept my mouth shut. Maybe he thought they were great because it was easy to get pain pills from them. But for me, I wasn’t interested in that stuff. I only wanted to be heard.

I made the appointment with Harvard Vanguard well prior to actually firing Pearson. Like a good patient, I didn’t want to be without a doctor. I met with the PCP who was Oh So Nice but never nice after that first appointment, not that I knew it then.

Pearson informed me that she was leaving MGH. However, I already had my plan……I went along with what Pearson was saying but inside I knew I wasn’t staying at MGH, nor following her to her Belmont office. I knew I had scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist at Harvard Vanguard and also with a therapist. I figured it was a done deal.

I went back to Pearson and informed her I was not staying with her. My last appointment was July 10, 2013.

Yes it felt freeing. A huge relief.

Now, of course, I realize I should have burned my bridges much, much sooner. I should have cut ties with MGH right after they abused me back in 2011, instead of staying with them like a little lost puppy. Truth was, they were NOT going to validate my story, nor were they even going to agree with the diabetes insipidus diagnosis, because if they did, they’d be so open for a lawsuit.

This is why my PCP at McLean also doubted the diabetes insipidus when she heard about it around August 2012. She knew I had it, but it was a liability issue to validate the diagnosis, so she wanted to plant a seed of doubt in my mind. Of course, I was well aware of this. She wanted me to go to a kidney doctor. I didn’t go. I knew I had DI. She specified which kidney doctor I should go to.

From what I know now, had I gone, they could have convened and continued on like that, negating the truth to protect themselves. I would never have known. We aren’t worthy of HIPAA nor any form of confidentiality. I have learned this, because to them, we’re useless, incompetent, and a waste.

As whistleblower, I was a threat to them. I honestly don’t think they gave a hoot about “consequences” of their actions. Their goal was to stop me in any way they could. They can’t do that anymore.

Whistleblowing and burning bridges go hand in hand

Is it really true that the tendency to burn bridges is yet one more MENTAL DISORDER? oh really? Let’s look at this one for a minute.

I think it’s a person’s right to end a relationship any way they choose. I have known people to end them so abruptly it shocked me. “Why’d ya do that?” and my explanation would still leave me with my jaw dropped. “Because he didn’t come pick me up when I asked him to.”

Yes, there are those types. Those types who get pissed and end it on a whim. We know those types of people who will suddenly get mad like that. I question whether this is a “tip of the iceberg” type of thing. Maybe they’ve been mad for months, and never said a word, stored it up, said nothing, and then…..EXPLODED. Over a toothpick. Maybe it only looked like a trivial matter. Yes, there are folks like that.

I have been criticized for burning bridges. I know that as a whistleblower I have had to. This is part of the trade. What do you think I am supposed to do? Go back to MGH and ask them for a character reference? (I hope you are laughing…)

See, I got into whistleblowing as an extension of writing memoir. I ended up writing about what I had seen and witnessed and been through on the wards. All that would not have been so terrible except they didn’t like that I exposed a lot of wrongdoing. Those were their exact words to me. “We’re afraid you will expose us!” (MGH staff nurse to me, 2011).

As I see it, if they were not doing terrible human rights abuses, there would not have been anything to expose. There was. This started it all.

MGH was not happy that I had written about human rights abuses. First of all, about 1/3 of the patients were denied telephone rights. They were forced to make all phone calls in the presence of a nurse, standing right there, and, the nurse had to dial the number for the patient, at the staff desk. I knew already that this was against Massachusetts human rights laws. These laws could only be overwritten by a doctor’s orders and there had to be a very good reason to overwrite the laws, like if you were calling your drug dealer and trying to get the dealer to bring drugs, or calling your ex and threatening her. These were the most extreme situations. In mine, calling my blog and talking about FEELINGS wasn’t very extreme. C’mon. They claimed I would violate the confidentiality of other patients but I am a professional writer and I knew enough not to do that. And they knew that, too, they even said they didn’t want stuff leaked out.

Secondly, I was being deprived of water drastically. I need six liters a day of drinking water because of a VALID medical condition caused by lithium. I wasn’t taking lithium but the condition is permanent anyway. This is real physical need. I kept asking them to give me water. They cut down my drinking water to 1/6 the daily amount my body requires and kept me at that amount, forcing me into a dehydrated state.  I asked why and they said that everyone was on this protocol. They ignored my medical condition. Ironically I had come into the hospital dangerously dehydrated and with a dangerously low heart rate.

Dehydrating a person causes a traumatic reaction because it’s like they almost killed me. This has nothing to do with an opinion, it is fact. They were wrong and  they know it. I blew the whistle afterward. They were furious.

So yes, you do cut ties, you can’t go back, you can’t expect them to be “nice” after you open your mouth. That’s a consequence. But to me, whistleblowing is a service. It is what I do. It’s something I do to help other people, to open eyes and tell people THIS IS WRONG. These places aren’t even hospitals, they are prisons.  So that way I spare you all some grief, and maybe help out.

So I take these consequences. Can you see why I HAD to leave Massachusetts? After all, how on earth could I live so close to MGH after all that? I continued to stay there and sure enough, I was abused again in another hospital as soon as they “shared” records with my  prior outpatient psychiatrist from MGH. I really felt trapped. I was looking into relocating to Western MA but I knew MGH was buying all the hospitals in the area. It was scary, the thought that ending up in an ER meant being re-captured, more record-sharing, and abused again. I was really scared, scared of many things back then, due to the trauma.

I still blow the whistle when I know something is wrong. Blowing the whistle will, by default, burn a bridge. This is a consequence of doing what I think is right and what I judge may help others. If I spot a scam, I tell you guys. Remember the Windows computer scam? I told you, right? If I find what  I think is a bad business deal, I say so. If I see a good way to save money I will tell you also. And there’s no excuse for bad medical care, right?

Sometimes I really have to stay mum until the fallout clears. That’s been the case recently a few times. For instance, I ran into an opportunity that I decided, ultimately, to bow out of, but I have yet to mention that here. I felt that I should not till the moment strikes me. The only reason for sharing my experience would be to save a few of you the waste of time and disappointment who might also consider the same deal. I need to think it through. Sometimes it is best to stay silent for a long, long time, and mention the offense long after the adversary has forgotten I exist.

Another thing: You really have to be careful when naming names. Sometimes you cannot, nor can you be too revealing nor too personal. There are ways to distinguish this.

For instance, let’s say you went on a date and the date did not show up. I think the proper wording of this is “I was stood up.” Let’s say you are female and a guy stood you up.  I would recommend against posting his name and dating app pic to Twitter and publicly saying what a jerk he is.

However, I don’t see anything wrong with publicly writing on the general human virtue of showing up. Isn’t that 99% of life? If you feel a little better doing so, why not? It’s a useful intellectual exercise, and maybe he’ll get the idea should he ever see what you write even though it’s not even likely. A more general essay might reach a more universal audience and that way, you don’t sound like you’re carrying a grudge.

Sometimes, I speak up immediately when the moment strikes me, as the timeliness will make the story funnier. I tell some stories as they occur, such as some of the hilarious scam calls I have received recently. How many guys named Sam are going to call me about charities for police and fire? Or…Is it the same Sam? Does anyone get these charity calls ALSO from a Sam? Who the hell is he? Or is it a whole team of them? “Hi, my name is Sam!” Oh great, him again…….

He talks like Oklahoma……Have you gotten those calls? I have gotten three male Sam calls recently, and just now, an overly cheerful female Sam telling me I won a Disney trip. Did you get that, too?

Have a nice day.

Decent rant from MIA

I just posted this and since the copyright is mine I figured I’d reproduce it here. Prior to today’s radio show I had posted a notice about it and someone posted a response that poked fun of the show. If the person had been a caller, or personal friend, I might have taken his response a bit more lightheartedly, but I thought it was odd to respond in such with sarcasm, given the context. I’m omitting his sarcastic response but  here’s my comment:

Can I ask why you jeered at my show? Was that truly necessary? I am not aiming this just at you but pretty much everyone so don’t take it personally. My purpose is to bash psychiatry any way I can. I put a lot of work into what I write, went to school to become a better writer, have published and studied widely, continue to do research on my own, and pay money to keep my show on air. So don’t jeer at it.

Are we not allies here? Don’t we all want to see the end of locking people up and taking away their rights?

I ask why on earth, why do we spend so much precious energy, energy that we seem to have so, so little left, on fighting against each other and putting each other down, instead of fighting psychiatry and its discrediting diagnoses. Why are we hurting each other and weakening ourselves instead of fighting the laws, policies. and principles that created this mess? Why are we continuing to act in a hateful, and even vengeful manner toward each other instead of organizing and really doing some good in the world?

I suggest we begin by taking down the walls that divide us, quitting the over-the-top boundary-setting, continuing to maintain dialogue (spoken conversation preferred) and above all, reach out to our neighbors. We need to cultivate trust, not the distrustful culture they imposed upon us in the nuthouses.

If we continue to act in a hostile manner to each other then we’re only reflecting psychiatry. We’re not going anywhere. That has to change.

I’m asking for your support. And maybe we need to each support each other’s efforts, causes, concerns, and look out for each other’s well-being for a change.

Julie