Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas of my choosing

This is the first holiday season that I decided to step outside of it all, to celebrate in my own, spontaneous way without the obligations of tradition. My family has honored my wishes, and I made no plans for Christmas. I bought no presents, I sent no Christmas cards, I put up no decorations. The other day, a friend invited me and another friend to her place on Christmas Eve, and I accepted. First we are going to Phoenix and Dragon, a large metaphysical store that I have always wanted to see. Then we are going to her place to do angel readings with angel cards. I have no idea what that means, but my friends know, and it sounds good to me. Then we will eat a wonderful lasagna dinner.

On Christmas Day, I'll be having a channeling session over the phone with Jean Tinder. I had a channeling session with her a few years ago, and I believe I was her very first client. I still have the recording of that session. She has done many sessions since then, and I have been hearing wonderful things about her from our spiritual community. The reason for this channeling is to enlist the support of my angels during this move. I choose their presence in every moment, and I know they are surrounding me right now. Sometimes their presence is so intense that tears stream down my face for no reason at all. The angels are thrilled that I know they are there, and I am using these sessions to communicate with them with words. I need other humans to be their mouthpiece. Of course this is not necessary in order for them to continue to support me, but words are icing on the cake, so to speak!

And that is how I choose to spend this Christmas season!

Not only is this year coming to a close, but life as I know it is coming to a close. This is my last weekend living alone. I have always loved and even insisted on living alone. I've always said that I am too set in my ways to get married. I eat when I want. I come and go as I please. I never make my bed. I answer to no one. Freedom has been very important to me.

I think I have been making up for the lack of freedom I endured during the times I've been locked up in psychiatric hospitals.

But those days are over. I will never be locked up like that again, and I know it. I am going for something new, and it will begin the day after Christmas. That's when the movers are coming to pack up all my stuff, then the next day they will be moving me into the new Peer Support and Wellness Center. And life as I know it will be over.

The year 2007 was the year of 9, which means completion. The Quantum Leap happened on 09/18/2007, which is 9/9/9 in numerology. It was a powerful day. Jodie flew in from MN to spend it with me, and I learned about this new job opportunity right after she left. Everywhere I look, I see people changing their lives in dramatic ways. I have known about that date since 2003 (?) but never really bought into the reality of it until after it came and went. The rest of the world is waiting for December 12, 2012, which is the "official" date of the Quantum Leap -- or the end of the world or whatever you believe about these times. So, yes, that is a legitimate date as well, and I will be observing it simply because there is much power in mass consciousness, and that alone gives power to that date.

Now that the year of completion is over, what is 2008? It is the year of ONE, beginning on January 1, 2008. The other 1/1/1 days are January 10, 19, and 28, then October 1, 10, 19, and 28. This is the year of new beginnings. It is a year of forward movement, of stepping into new realities, new lives, new dimensions. I can totally see it already. And the newness for me begins this Thursday. I will say goodbye to the nicest apartment I've ever lived in and hello to the nicest house I've ever lived in.

I am so grateful to be alive. As ama would say, "It's the bomb."

The next time you hear from me I have already stepped into my new life. See you on the flip side!

I want to leave you with an earlier post from a year ago: Expect a Miracle in 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Trying Something New

I don't write much about MS because I choose to stay in denial about it. But the truth is, this last year has shown me that I really do have MS in spite of everything I do to slow its progression. The things I do are daily exercise (ideally), avoiding all processed foods (ideally), and taking supplements (ideally). Okay so I don't stick to everything 100% of the time, and I do cheat with lazy days and junk food, but for the most part I do pretty well.

I talk to people with MS who walk with canes and have a hard time speaking and seeing, and I see that I am incredibly lucky. I know that each person with MS is different when it comes to the progression of the disease, and I am very grateful that mine hasn't gotten as bad as it could get. Multiple Sclerosis is what it is, and it will progress no matter what method of treatment you use. I have a milder form of MS, so I believe I have more room to try different ways of treating it. Many say I am gambling with my health by refusing the medical treatments available today, but for me, it feels like more of a gamble to use treatments which only serve to weaken the immune system. MS is an autoimmune disorder, and it just makes logical sense to me to have a healthy immune system. So that's the approach I am taking. If it's a gamble, at least I feel well while gambling. I rarely get sick, in other words, and when I do I can usually fight it off without medical treatment. Not always, but usually.

With that being said, this year I have noticed more ongoing MS symptoms than I had before. My legs are often full of pain and stiffness, they go to sleep easily, and I am unable to walk as freely as I used to. Running is out of the question, although I can still trot! I am not at a point of using a cane, but I can easily see that coming. I can't walk down steps without hanging on for dear life. The house I am moving into (the Peer Wellness Center) is loaded with stairs, 4 flights total, so this has been a concern of mine.

When I first learned I had MS, I joined all kinds of online groups of people who have MS and I learned a lot from them. One group was called "Low Dose Naltrexone" (LDN), and they all decided to use LDN as their treatment approach. The anecdotal evidence was so compelling that I decided that if my MS ever got to the point that I really needed something else besides my current "Best Bet Diet" approach, that LDN was what I would try.

Naltrexone is an old drug prescribed 30 years ago to heroin addicts to block the brain's opiate receptors so that users couldn't get high. Needless to say, the heroin users didn't like it, so the drug became obsolete.

My therapist (who I don't see anymore) told me that Naltrexone could be used in people who self-injure so that they would HAVE to feel the pain in all its intensity, thus stopping them from self-injuring.

I thought, okay, another controlling torture drug. Chilling.

Anyway, not to get too off base here, Naltrexone was taken back then at 50 mg. It works much differently at lower dosages, one doctor discovered. He used it on his patients with AIDS. To learn more details than I can possibly write here, visit the Low Dose Naltrexone Homepage.

In a nutshell, your body produces natural endorphins at night while you are sleeping, and Naltrexone, taken at lower dosages (3 to 4.5 mgs), stops this process just enough for the body to decide it needs to release more natural endorphins to make up for the lack of them caused by the Naltrexone. More endorphins means stronger immune responses, which is something I didn't know before. This is why it works for many autoimmune disorders, and the BEST anecdotal evidence comes from people with MS.

This doctor has done some scientific studies as well, as the findings are always favorable. More studies need to be done, but because the drug companies would not profit in any way by bringing back this old, inexpensive drug, they aren't about to fund any studies. Instead they will continue to invest in keeping the current treatments for MS and other autoimmune disorders alive and prosperous (for them).

The doctors I have talked to about prescribing LDN are not aware of it enough to feel comfortable prescribing it. In other words, they don't have drug reps banging on their doors with abundant supplies of samples :grin:

So I am on my own for now in getting it. Without a prescription, however, along with a compounding pharmacy, I have to buy the pills from a Canadian pharmacy that doesn't require a prescription, and I can only get them in 50mg tablets.

And so I did. After playing mail tag with the post office for 2 weeks, I finally got the package yesterday.

I filled up a 50ml container with distilled water, dissolved the 50mg Naltrexone tablet in the water, then used a medicine dropper to take 3ml of the water. This dosage is equal to 3mg of Naltrexone. I can go up to 4.5 mg, but I am starting at 3 mg for now. If it works I will stay at that dosage. If it doesn't I will go up to 4.5mg. The LDN effect doesn't work if you take 5mg or above.

Last night was my first dosage. I am writing about it here so that anyone with MS can know once and for all if this is a viable option or not. We will learn together :o). It is supposed to be effective within 5 days of the first dose, but I swear I felt a difference this morning. I was able to climb down the stairs to the fitness room without hanging on to the rail! It may be a placebo effect, but the objective is to see improvement, which I did even if it was all in my head.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Week in New England


The trip was great! We left Monday night, just as New England was getting its first snowfall of the year. Of course I assumed our flight would be delayed or canceled, and I was ready. It was delayed about 20 minutes so they could add more fuel in case we had to land at JFK. But we landed in Maine as planned. The view outside as we were landing was incredible. Beyond words. We don't get snow in Georgia very often, and when we do it's minimal. So seeing all the snow was a real treat. I loved every minute of it!

When we landed safely, all the passengers spontaneously applauded.

We stayed at a bare-bones hotel that said they would leave our keys taped to the office door when we came in, and we could register in the morning. This was a very small town, obviously. They had a diner down the block that had the BEST food. They were on the Today Show because of their Lobster Rolls, so of course I had to order the Lobster Rolls. They were delicious!

So the next morning we got up early and drove to the respite center in Maine. They were so hospitable to us and devoted all their time to showing us around and answering all our questions. We were there the whole day. They believe in mutual peer support, which means there is no helper and no helpee. There is no "sick" one and no "well" one. Many of the paid staff also use the respite beds at some point. They didn't have rules (except a few necessary ones like no drugs or sexual activity in the center), and their policies were scarce as well. They emphasized open dialogue, honesty, relationship, and community. If there's a problem, it is addressed by all people involved, and everyone is heard. Negotiations occur. Rules are unnecessary.

I was impressed with their philosophy, and it was in alignment with Shery Mead's training.

Speaking of Shery Mead, we met with her and Chris Hanson after touring our second respite center in New Hampshire on Thursday. She showed us their training schedule for when they come to Georgia in January to train our new staff. I REALLY like Shery and Chris! They are like-minded souls. They get it. We are incredibly lucky to have them help kick-start our center!

We're naming it The Peer Wellness Center for now. That may or may not change.

I am really getting a handle on what it is we are doing, and it is simply groundbreaking. I saw that through this trip. It's freaking me out how HUGE this is, and how supported we really are by our peers in New England who are already doing this. I see the big picture. This is the next natural step in mental health alternatives. I can easily see these respite centers popping up all over the world.

While we were there, I heard that Soteria House has opened in Alaska. Soteria was the first ever respite center. They lost their funding and shut down, which is what happens to respite centers. But Soteria House is the most famous and most ground breaking -- and now they are in operation again! This is excellent news!

Hmmmm, I wonder if I'll ever see the snow in Alaska....

The video is an array of short snow scenes I took while driving.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's not about me anymore...

Everyone keeps asking me how my job at the Peer Support and Respite Center is going, so I thought I'd write a post to catch y'all up.

I haven't moved into that beautiful, big house yet, but I will soon. We just now got the utilities turned on. Furniture buying comes next. It's a lot of space to furnish, so it will probably take some time!

Tomorrow I will be going to New England to tour Respite Centers up there. As far as I know there are only three that exist. These places are scarce around the country. I'm going to find out why they are scarce and what works and what doesn't work. I'm going to learn everything I can during this trip. We'll be there all week (I'm traveling with two others), and from what I am hearing, New England will be getting its first big snowfall tomorrow night, right as we are landing. Yikes! I bought my first pair of snow shoes. Yes, my first. LOL! Who needs snow shoes in Georgia? So this will be an adventure. I have a laptop, so I will (hopefully) be able to keep up with my online life. I also have a new cell phone! This also is a first for me.

Next week we will be holding interviews for the job positions at the Respite Center. Then we will all begin training with Shery Mead. If you don't know who Shery Mead is, go to mentalhealthpeers.com As far as I know she is the only expert in the country on Peer Respite Centers.

On a personal level, I am still in awe at this opportunity I've been given. I am past the shock phase and onto the the deep appreciation phase. I doubt that will end anytime soon. It just keeps growing with every step we take toward opening the Center.

I have never been so committed to anything in my life. It's really showing me what I am made of. It's showing me that there is far more to life than the box I'd been living in. It's showing me that I truly love people and I can work with people. It's showing me that I am competent. I am not perfect, but I am good enough just as I am. I don't have to change who I am at all. I do, however, have to change the paradigm I've been living under for many years.

My life has always been about me me me. I'm not saying I've been heartless or inconsiderate -- quite the opposite -- but my giving has always been on MY terms. I am learning it's not about me anymore. It's about community. It's about relationship. It's about interdependence.

Up till now, it has never been about those things for me. I have been isolated and protected. I have been around people several times a month, but the people I have been around are the same few. My life has been predictable and stable and without too many surprises. I have been in control. God forbid that someone else has control. But this is not about control or ego or petty crap. This is about cooperation and community and building relationships. I never knew I could do this, but I can, and I like it. Yes, it is fulfilling!

Even though the Respite Center has not opened its doors yet, many doors are opening for me. I never knew they existed in the first place.

It's not about me anymore. It's about us.

In other news, my friend, Beth has moved to Kansas. If you watch my videos, you know Beth. I miss her terribly already. We are still in touch by phone and email (thank god) but it is so sad to know she is not coming over this Saturday to go film some videos or go thrift-store shopping or go out to dinner. It just breaks my heart that she is gone. But she and I both know that change is the name of the game now. She got a great new job in Kansas, still working with peers and training them just like she did here. They truly need her expertise and wisdom in Kansas. I used to live in Kansas, in fact, I spent a year at Topeka State Hospital in 1984. Beth and I tend to lead synchronistic lives. We both got interviews in the same week, we got our job offers within hours of each other, and we are both relocating to houses with a 444 address. We are both shifting paradigms, too.

It was Beth who took me to view the 444 house to see if it was a good place for the new Respite Center.

It was.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Linda Buckner, CPS


Linda Buckner is a friend and mentor who has touched the lives of countless others who have been diagnosed and labeled with mental illness.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A dream I had in 1992

Before I post the dream, lemme tell ya my good news...

We found a house for the Respite Center!!! It's a 3-story house with many rooms on all floors. I've never lived anywhere this beautiful in my life! I'll be moving in a few weeks, yes during the holidays. If you don't hear from me for a while, that may be the reason. But I'll be back... eventually. Who knows, I may be able to sneak in a post or two along the way.

Okay, the dream. At the time, I was homeless, not on the streets, but running out of places to stay. I had been living with friends, and I could not find an apartment anywhere in town (Springdale, Ark). I had hopes for one apartment but it fell through. It was my last lead, and I had to leave the place where I was living. Long story. Shortly after I had this dream, my sister Jody called and invited me to move in with her in Atlanta. What a goddsend! I moved there immediately, and I've been in the Atlanta area ever since.

BTW, if you want to read my book, it's called Burdens in the Thought Life. I wrote it in 1995. It's on an old old website with broken links, but the book and the stories are intact. Of course a lot has happened since the book's ending, and maybe one day I will write a sequel. I doubt it, though. Rayne's World is my sequel.

This dream is significant to me because I remember it vividly to this day. It was more than a dream.

July 18, 1992

I had a dream last night that was so real - I believe it was a vision. Jesus Christ and I were walking along a chain-link fence. He was entirely human, like me, and was wearing his Nazarene clothes and sandals. He walked a few steps ahead, occasionally warning me of a ditch or stone in our path. We were like old friends, feeling peaceful in each other's company and comfortable with long stretches of silence.

Suddenly our journey became divine as Jesus transformed himself into a celestial spirit enveloped in pure, white light. He ascended several feet in the air and held out his hand. I reached toward him, tentatively, afraid of trusting him entirely. He grasped my hand and it literally fused into his. Our two hands became one.

As he lifted me toward the clouds, we began to soar with remarkable speed over a large, metropolitan city. The city lights against the dark sky seemed to dance with the harmony of our passage. My eyesight was perfect, and I was able to ingest every building and car and streetlight, no matter how quickly we zipped by. At times I was dancing with angels, spinning around stars, and still able to capture every sight below and behind me.

We landed in a large room full of people dressed in polyester pantsuits. They were sitting on ripped couches and gazing at oversized pictures of autumn scenery. Overflowing ashtrays lingered on chafed tables, and Styrofoam cups teetered near empty corners. I recognized the scene well. We had landed in an institution for the mentally ill.

The patients couldn't see us - they couldn't even see one another - but I could see right through their blank expressions and into their buried souls — all longing to shed a tear over the loss of their earthly purposes. In each latent tear I saw a pool of untapped potential waiting to be released from the grips of a violent whirlpool. It was tugging them down farther and farther with every psychiatric encounter. I remembered those encounters.

Underneath it all, these people knew who they were but they had forgotten how to believe in themselves. I longed to convince them that they still mattered and that any belief at all would begin to feed their inner cravings for life again.

Jesus understood my thoughts and said, "This is what I want you to do."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Healing Time

Thanks to Gianna for posting this poem on Bipolar Blast. It took my breath away. It says it all.


The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.


© Pesha Joyce Gertler

Friday, November 09, 2007

Short note and search terms

Just a short post to let you all know I am still around. I have officially started my new job, and I am really seeing what a huge project this is. I am also seeing what a quantum leap I took just by accepting the position. I have lived on Social Security Disability my entire adult life, and I went from that to THIS at age 45. It's surreal to me, and I am enjoying every last minute of it. It's a challenge like no other, and I am learning things about myself that I never had the chance to know before. And that's only after the first week!

The support I am getting is uncanny. It's like people are seeing this in a way that goes far beyond the present moment, and for some, beyond this present lifetime. And then others just DON'T get it at all! Blank stare. Utter silence. There's no in-between response. It feels like something strange is going on in the "other" realms. The non-responses are coming from people I never guessed would have them. It's not upsetting at all, please don't get me wrong, but it's observable, curious, and amusing.

This is an amazing thing we are doing in Georgia. I am still in utter AWE that it's actually happening. I've dreamed about this for years. Eventually, I will post the actual dream I had in 1992. Maybe next post...

:deep breath:

I posted a video of Charles Willis on Faces of Recovery. Charles is one of my favorite people, and now a collegue. That's the beauty of this job -- I get to work with my friends.

Okay, now onto superficial things...

Call me a geek, but I am fascinated by the search terms people type into Google, which leads them to Rayne's World. Here's my most current list from the last week. Bye for now...

catching clock on 333 or 444

mental health: finding no joy in anything

how were turtle doves named

mental breakdowns

dissociation biology chemistry bpd

concerned2 blog

psychiatric care use of tasers

dissociation how to get well

in the arms of the angels song meanings

rayne

how to deal with depression from painful memories

Monday, October 29, 2007

Georgia steps up to the plate. OMG!!!

Get this! The Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Addictive Diseases (MHDDAD) is funding a brand new, first and only, Peer Support and Respite Center for people in Georgia who prefer to use an alternative setting to traditional psychiatric hospitalization. This center will be run entirely by peers! The State turned the whole operation over to the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, which means they are in charge of the funding, site location, staffing, development, day-to-day operations, everything from the ground up.

It gets better.

Yesterday I was hired as the Director!

Excuse me while I faint. This goes beyond anything I ever imagined for myself. I am overwhelmed. I am speechless. I am in shock.

This morning I woke up with tears streaming down my face. This is how happy I am.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

YouTubers discuss ADHD

This video was on smpfilms channel. He is a YouTube celebrity that I have subscribed to for a couple years. I've also seen him on regular TV. Usually a video related to psychiatry, especially questioning it, is done by a small community on YouTube. This is the first I've seen from a YouTube celebrity. A lot of the people in the video are ones I am also subscribed to and many of them are also YouTube celebrities. I am amazed to find something like this so widespread on YouTube. It made my day, so I just had to share it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Creative Maladjustment" quote from Martin Luther King, Jr

Thanks to Gianna at Bipolar Blast for posting this quote:

“This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred, and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In the Arms of the Angels


Last Sunday I attended the 10th anniversary memorial service of the Cemetery Restoration Project at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, GA. If you are unfamiliar with the story of this cemetery, view a previous video Let Me Live. For those of you who follow this blog, you know what this cemetery means to me and to all the people who died at the "largest lunatic asylum in the world." Of course it's not called that today. We've come a long way but we still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal


Jodie Fisher from Minnesota, my good friend for 10 years, talks about her experiences with getting off psychiatric drugs. She experienced this long before the YouTube video diaries and various blogs dedicated to this issue. She was totally alone during her process, and at first she had no idea what she was dealing with. She realized the strange and frightening sensations were withdrawal symptoms when she took a pill and the withdrawals stopped almost immediately. She got no support from her doctor or therapist; in fact, when she refused to take Zoloft anymore because she was nursing her daughter, her therapist insisted she be hospitalized and called an ambulance. There were other issues going on with her, of course, but the power struggle over the medication was the deciding factor behind her involuntary hospitalization. Today she knows without a doubt that it had nothing to do with psychosis, but she was having a spiritual crisis that she truly needed to deal with on that level. She did not need any medication, nor did she need to be hospitalized. She was not a danger to herself or others, yet that wasn't considered when the ambulance was called.

I plan to post more of her story with the mental health system, but for now her withdrawal story is a good start.

I also posted another video on Faces of Recovery called Peter Ashendon Speaks Out. He was a keynote speaker at the Network conference, and his story is compelling, inspiring, and well worth your time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mostly geeky news

I posted a new video today on the Faces of Recovery blog. Go check it out!

In other news....

I GOT A NEW COMPUTER!!!!

I had to do it. My old computer was groaning, "No more videos, please! You are taxing my energies and turning me into an old, old man." So I finally listened. Who cares that I'm going deeper into debt, right? But get this. I picked out the computer I wanted, an HP Pavilion (just like I always get), had my mouse on the "submit" button, all ready to pay, when all of a sudden I thought, "hmmmmm, I wonder if there's a coupon code for this computer." I jumped over to Google real quick and typed in "coupon code hp pavilion" and at the very top was a code for $400 off an HP Pavilion! I typed in the code to my total, and I watched the price magically go down $400. When does that ever happen, right? So I took it as a sign that I will be okay financially in buying this computer.

And now that I have it all set up, I am wondering how in the world I was able to do all I was doing on my other computer? That thing is at least 4 years old. It had 40 gigs hard drive space and, yes, 256 mbs of RAM. And here I was expecting it to handle several gigabytes worth of footage in my video editor. No wonder why it took me hours to edit one video! And forget about encoding! This new computer is a powerhouse in comparison. It has 2 gigs of RAM and one Terabyte of hard drive space! I can be editing videos, pause to make another video in Windows Picture Show, search and download podsafe music, edit some pictures in Photoshop, and check my email without closing any windows. It's just amazing what I can do now!

And I don't understand all the whining about Windows Vista! It's compatible with every peripheral and software program I own. There was no learning curve, either, and everything was customizable to my personal comfort zone. It hasn't crashed once, and I just couldn't be happier right now. Don't believe everything you hear about Vista. Be your own judge.

Of course I've only used it for two days so far :o)

My friend Jodie will be here Sunday to stay with me all week long! September 18th is 9-9-9, which is why she's coming. That probably sounds odd considering most people consider September 18th to be 9-18-07. But in numerology it's 9-9-9 and it's the perfect reason for her to visit. It's the Quantum Leap celebration in some spiritual circles, including ours. It's also a good excuse to visit a friend in Georgia. I plan to post videos of her visit, maybe even while she's still here. She and I often go to different dimensions when we get together. If you don't know what that means, you will soon find out. Maybe...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Search Terms Just for Fun

I've seen other bloggers do this and I always thought it was so interesting, so maybe it will be interesting to my readers, too. I have a stat page that tells me which keywords people type into Google that ultimately bring them to Rayne's World. The latest keywords are:

gogo lidz
rayne's world
andy rayne
wake up seeing 111, 222, 333, 444, 555
youtube dark rayne
how to deal with mental people
jayme blogspot
april rayne did she die

The one about the triple digits is the most common. April Rayne is common too even though I have no idea who she is. I've never heard of Andy Rayne or dark rayne. GoGo Lidz is common. She's a DJ on MTV in case you don't know her. (Pun alert if you didn't get it. Check archives)

How to deal with mental people? Aw come on!

This geeky stat stuff is hilarious!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Great Divide

I've had enough time to recover from the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network summer conference, so I thought I'd write something about it. I posted a video on the Faces of Recovery blog of some of the opening remarks by my friend and collegue, Sherry Jenkins-Tucker. I decided not to cross post the video because so many people are subscribed to both blogs and they would get duplicates in their email.

This was the third conference I'd attended, and it was by far the most powerful. Not because of any of the activities or workshops or keynotes, but because of the harsh realities I came to realize through the unfolding of the conference.

We are a divided system here in Georgia. We have the "medical model" folks and we have the "recovery model" folks, and both camps were strongly represented at the conference. I was dumbfounded at times because I am typically surrounded by empowered individuals who are in recovery, yet I came face to face with individuals who have no clue what recovery is. They talk about their medications and their doctors and their day programs. That's all well and good for them, but what about a life outside of the mental health system? What about friends and movies and sports and classes and jobs and all the other things that life has to offer? I would have loved to hear about the whole person rather than one diagnosed aspect. We are people first! But our humanity is stripped away from us if we totally buy into the medical model of treatment, which is so painfully prevelant.

I felt this sense of dark oppression among the participants in the conference. I heard staff members who'd brought consumers to the conference straight from the day programs, warn consumers not to stay in their hotel rooms and play hooky from the workshops. I heard one staff person tell their group that they were in school and needed to go to "class", referring to the workshops. In other words, this conference became an extension of their day treatment programs. I ran into one consumer in the elevator scared of missing an event that she was "supposed" to attend and scared of "getting in trouble."

This broke my heart.

After that encounter, I turned to find a room full of peers who were relaxing and playing cards and talking and just kicking back. This was the peer support room, one of the new additions to the conference this year. It was a welcomed success. I just wonder if some of the more oppressed consumers were even allowed to go into that room.

I walked into the auditorium to hear one of the state people talking about how they planned to spend the mental health budget. I saw the Power Point presentation plastered with the typical medical model crap, just like every other year. So I left and filmed the gorgeous sunset at the pier. Later, two consumers joined me and we had fun just getting to know each other. I couldn't help but think of all the consumers still in the auditorium, at that point, pouring their hearts out to the deaf ears of the governor's advisory council. I doubt this council ever had a meeting with the governor, and I doubt even more their power. All I know is that the consumers who spoke to them were sincere and authentic and believed their voices were being heard.

The next day, the Network presented awards to various individuals and organizations who deserved recognition for the work they'd done the previous year. This part of the conference is always fun, but this year I nearly shit my pants when Andy Miller accepted the journalism award. He is the journalist, along with Alan Judd, who broke the story for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about all the deaths in the state hospitals in Georgia. The "Hidden Shame" series is still going on, and it has shaken the state office to its core. You can see an overview of all the articles and the fallout at this webpage, hosted by the Network. Andy Miller is a hero to all consumers in Georgia who are at risk of being admitted or committed to one of Georgia's seven state hospitals. He and Alan, through these articles, are our strongest voices to the state right now. I was totally taken by surprise when I saw Andy there. Wow wow wow!

The mental health system in Georgia is ranked one of the lowest in the country. I think it's #45 but I may be wrong. I know it's in the 40s out of 50 states. They also got a D grade on the prestigious NAMI report card. Not that I give a crap about NAMI but it's enough for our governor to call a special meeting to hear how Georgia can raise its grade.

One the other side of this great divide is Peer Support, which is ranked number one in the country. Guess which programs the state has decided to cut? Can you say Peer Support? Very good.

The more ridiculous our state becomes, the more obvious it appears before the public. So go ahead, Georgia, DHR, Sonny Perdue, get as ridiculous as possible so that any person with an ounce of common sense can see all the damage you are doing. When the public takes notice, things finally get addressed, and people get voted out of office, appointees get replaced, burned-out bureaucrats get lost. So keep doing what you're doing, Georgia. You are only hanging yourself.

Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Seriously, they are incredibly blind.

I know why this is happening! The people who are in charge of the mental health system, the policy makers, the doctors, nurses, case managers, and even the family members do not believe in the capacity and the intrinsic value of individuals they are supposed to be helping. Not only do they not believe in recovery, but they impose their disempowering beliefs onto some of the most intelligent, compassionate, and creative individuals in the state of Georgia. If only they knew what I know. If only they saw what I see. If only they believed.

But you can't force a belief onto someone else. You can't make a policy saying you must believe in the consumers you serve. This is why I have little hope of the system truly transforming. If changes are going to be made, they will most likely be made outside the system from people who actually get it. And these angels of hope will be offering strong, recovery-based alternatives to some of our most vulnerable citizens. You may even be one of those angels. I know I am.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recovery from the Mental Health System

I suppose if I am going to be filming recovery stories next week at the Network conference, I should post mine as well. I am looking forward to the conference. For those who don't know, this is an annual statewide conference for Georgia mental health cosumers and survivors. You can learn more at the conference webpage.

I Don't Care if You Hate Anti-Psychiatry

The last few days, the traffic to this blog has risen exponentially. It's an interesting story, so I thought I'd share.

I wrote a comment on the blog Shrink Rap, written by three psychiatrists who also have a podcast titled My Three Shrinks that I listen to regularly. They are mainstream psychiatrists, and their charm is simply irresistible to me. The topics they cover generally keep me informed on how typical psychiatrists think about current topics in psychiatry. I just believe it's a good idea to have a well-rounded view of psychiatry because I could get lost in short-sightedness and bitterness in my anti-psychiatry activism. Their views are surprisingly easy on the ears.

Anyway, the comment I made (where I revealed I was anti-psychiatry) stirred a whole slew of heated discussions on that topic. A summary can be found on Dinah's latest post titled I Don't Care if You Hate Shrinks. In short, Roy, one of the shrinks, linked to my post How I Deal With Mental Breakdowns. Well, some readers, and Dinah, had a problem with Roy linking to a anti-psychiatry blog.

And so the discussion continues. It's a great discussion, and I hope you check it out, especially if you are a regular reader of Rayne's World. And this discussion has brought literally hundreds and hundreds of readers to this blog, and especially to a certain post, which happens to be the most personal post I've ever written on Rayne's World.

Just for the record, I am not anti-psychiatrist, just anti-psychiatry. Shrinks are people too, and most of them are pretty nice. They just need to practice true informed consent, rather than cookie-cutter treatment regiments for individuals arbitrarily placed in DSM boxes. I just had to throw that in so no one would fear I'd gone to the other side.

Shrink Rap is now a part of my blog roll. Check them out if you believe in true informed consent. This blog only gives the anti-psychiatry side of things, and I would never want an individual to feel stigmatized for choosing psychiatry. It all boils down to choices, folks, all choices.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Asylum

Beth and I spent the day at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, GA. This place is full of both tragedy and hope. It's one of my favorite places to visit, especially with a video camera. I honestly feel as if I am visiting my ancestors, possibly myself from a past lifetime. There is something very healing about visiting the memorial. The energy is sacred and beautiful.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My drawings, dedicated to MN friends and artists.


I figured it was about time I posted my artwork. During the process of making this video, it unfolded magically on its own to become a dedication, not only to my friends in Minnesota, but to those Minnesotan commuters whom I have never met. I pray that we all make it home safely.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

How I deal with mental breakdowns

As most of you already know, I refuse to take any medications for mental illness, even though every doctor I've seen has stated that I need to be on medications for the rest of my life. That is why I no longer see doctors. So what do I do in a crisis situation? How do I deal with the symptoms? This question was asked the other day, and I realized that I needed to write a blog post about it. My answer is highly unconventional, yet I feel it's long overdue.

Before I answer, let me describe the symptoms I experience. I hate the word "symptoms" by the way because they are simply human experiences, yet for this post I'll use the term because it is the psychiatric term used in diagnosing specific, unwonted human experiences.

Depression. When I get depressed, I can't get out of bed. I have no motivation to do anything. All I can do is cry and think about dying. Life has no meaning whatsoever. I find no joy in any activity, and even lying in bed is painful. There is no escape. Nothing helps. I can't tolerate any social situation, and I don't answer the phone or the door. It's a miracle I am still alive today because suicide is the most comforting thought I carry. It allows me a sense of power amidst all the powerlessness that depression brings.

Anxiety. When I am feeling anxious, life becomes overwhelming. I cannot handle noise or movement. It makes me want to scream and lash out and stop the chaos in any way possible. I feel jumpy and desperate and totally out of control. When I get this way, I can truly identify with the person who goes on a shooting spree. That is hard to admit, but it is so true. Again, that fantasy allows me a sense of power amidst the powerlessness that anxiety brings.

Dissociation. Dissociation, for me, is very similar to being in a state of shock. Everything around me becomes surreal. It's like I've been thrust into another reality where nothing is like it was before. Think of a time when you first heard the news of a loved one's unexpected death. That is similar to what dissociation is like for me, except there was no death. Also, my memory gets really bad, and time becomes warped and distorted.

Those are my three primary experiences and symptoms that have been diagnosed by psychiatrists since 1982. The actual diagnoses vary, depending on the psychiatrist, and some of them include Major Depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and the list goes on. I've also been diagnosed with illnesses that have nothing to do with the symptoms I described. You see, once I got into the system, I developed other behaviors simply from the side effects from the medications I was given or from trying to survive in a psychiatric hospital or day program. These added behaviors were diagnosed with things like Chronic Undifferentiated Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizo Affective Disorder, and the list goes on.

These are the reasons I do not believe in the existence of mental illness. The system simply can't get it right, most likely due to the fact that there are no scientific tests for any mental illness. Psychiatrists -- and NAMI -- will tell you that brain scans show differences in the brain chemistry of people with these illnesses, but hey, they failed to stop the medications before scanning the brains. Those scans are of chemically-altered brains! Other explanations are possible, too, like childhood trauma, which is the most prevelant occurance in people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. But this whole brain-chemistry topic is for another post. It gets pretty involved.

So what do I do when those symptoms occur that I described above?

I embrace them. I honor them for what they are and I feel them for all they are worth. If I am depressed, I feel the depression as if I were being paid to describe to someone what depression is like. I describe it as I am feeling it. I don't try to distract myself from it the way everyone advises me to do. I hear things like "Take a walk, call a friend, go out with friends, exercise, do anything except feel the depression, you are only dwelling on it and it will make things worse, and for godssake don't isolate!" I used to feel so guilty for not being able to follow their advice. Not anymore! I will dwell on my depression. I will isolate. I will remove myself from all of society and I will treat myself to whatever my heart desires. That usually means isolating and wallowing in depression and crying my heart out for no reason. There is movement in crying! There is healing. I cry as deeply as my body will allow, and the exhaustion that follows is the most healing experience of all. And "healing" does not mean that the depression is over. It may be around for a while, and that is okay. It is not something that needs to be healed. Depression is simply another human experience, and by god, I am going to experience it!

So what happens when you stop trying to cure depression? The only thing constant is change, and that includes depression. It is always temporary, and you can count on it.

Allowing depression to run its natural course ultimately allowed me to become a more compassionate and empathetic human being than I ever was before. These traits are priceless and eternal. No SSRI could ever accomplish that. Not even close.

Intolerance for noise and movement peaked when I lived in the downtown high rise. The chaos was constant, and my cockatiel Jake added to the chaos every day. I was nearly at the point of hurting that precious little bird, and that's when I realized I absolutely had to find a way to cope with my anxiety. So I began paying attention to the chaos, soaking it in, refusing to try and make it go away, no longer believing that I would find peace if it all stopped. I said "Bring it on!" and I meant it. I observed myself experiencing the chaos and knew that I was safe in the midst of it. It is an amazing, transformational process of surrender, which has far greater value than anything Xanax can offer.

This method also worked with Dissociation. The diagnosis used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. If I have other personalities inside of me, why not get to know them and embrace them and learn from them? They are there for a reason, and they are me! I could write a whole post on this subject alone (and maybe I will), but trying to fight off any aspect of myself, whether it is depression, anxiety, or multiple personalities, is only denying myself yet another human experience. I refuse to do that anymore. I have a right to experience being human because I am human!

So, what really happens when I embrace all these symptoms rather than fix (mask) them through psychiatric "treatments"? Hmmmm.... well, I very rarely have any of these symptoms anymore, and when I do, they don't last nearly as long. To be honest, I can't remember details of their recurrences anymore because they don't stand out like they used to. They are no longer "bad" or "horrible" in my mind or my experience, so why make a note of them? It's like having a rainy day. Who cares? It just happens. Anyway, my goal was never to make the symptoms go away. It just happened.

Probably the greatest benefit of using this method is the lack of fear and guilt I now have toward any of these symptoms creeping into my life.

I truly believe I am on to something here.

I also use this method for other things that are uncomfortable, like quitting smoking. I didn't use any distractions like gum or exercise whenever I would have a craving, which was constant in the beginning. I felt the craving, even invited it. And of course the cravings subsided. I have no desire to smoke anymore, but if the desire creeps in, I take the time to feel it and embrace it. Feelings can't kill you, but smoking can.

One more thing...

What about the individual who experiences these symptoms yet is unable to embrace them without becoming a danger to herself or others?

This is the primary use, in my opinion, for medication -- on a temporary basis. Just to get through the crisis. The greatest atrocity of the mental health system is dooming a human being to taking powerful, mind-altering drugs for the rest of her life.

This is what keeps me up at night. This is what fuels my passion as an advocate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bipolar or Waking Up? 1of 5: The Start of the Journey

This is the story of Sean's journey through a five-part video series. It is the most remarkable story I have heard in a long, long time. I posted all five videos on the Faces of Recovery blog, and I highly recommend that you watch them. You won't be sorry!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

CNN is on my shit list

I can see where this country is headed. All these years of fighting for rights for people labeled mentally ill and CNN could shoot that all down in one weekend. The mentally ill should be locked up so everyone else will feel safer. This is the attitude I've been getting ever since the VA Tech shootings. I saw it coming, even back then. It's a new public outcry for outpatient commitment. We could have avoided VA Tech if outpatient commitment were strictly enforced, right? Wrong!

Cho would have been released from outpatient commitment. He would have had fresh anger upon his release, too. That's the gift the mental health system offers. It cannot prevent violence because it perpetuates it. I was never violent until I stepped through those doors. Let all lawmakers be forced into outpatient medications and case management for one month. Let's see if they will continue to advocate for stricter outpatient commitment laws.

How could outpatient commitment possibly be the answer to potentially violent behavior?

We are human beings, all of us. With human beings comes all the good and all the bad. It's called human nature, and it's been around since Day One of human existence. It has nothing to do with a label you are given. You are human no matter what, and you either have the capacity to kill or you don't. I seriously doubt that punishing people ahead of time is going to stop human nature from being what it is.

Right now the public sits in ignorance. That can't last forever, not in this day and age. Thanks to the drug companies, more and more people are experiencing the mental health system. More and more people are learning what "treatment" really means. People will soon become as intolerant as I have. I see this coming just as I did the public outcries for outpatient commitment. It's just a matter of time. Meanwhile I will do whatever it takes to protect myself and others from outpatient commitment, and wait patiently.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Say 'no' to New York State forced electroshock

I can't believe what I'm reading about New York's policy on forced ECT. Could you imagine for one minute being dragged against your will to a room specifically designed for shock treatments? People in the mental health field will tell you that forced ECT doesn't happen in the US. WRONG! It is happening right now in New York to a woman named Simone who speaks very little English. From what I am reading, it looks as if language barriers allow for forced TORTURE! I am appalled and horrified at this entire situation. THIS is the reason ECT should be outlawed, and the sooner the better.

The argument against it is that some patients may choose to have it, especially if nothing else has helped their depression. My answer to this argument is that I've never heard this argument coming from someone who has actually had ECT.

But the biggest reason I have for outlawing ECT is the capacity for abuse. If our mental health system had no capacity for abuse, ECT may not be as horrible as it is today. The actual treatment would still be horrible, but at least there would be informed consent involved. But because it is given to people against their will, or coerced when they are inpatient (I've witnessed this many times), it should be outlawed.

Nobody ever deserves to have their brain forcibly damaged by doctors. How ridiculous does that sound? Having your brain damaged by doctors? That is what is happening.

So if you want to read the details of what this woman is going through, and especially if you want to take action, go here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Faces of Recovery: Bob Patterson, CPS


This is the latest video in my "Faces of Recovery" series. Bob Patterson is the Project Director for the CPS Project. He is also a friend of mine. This is his story.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Celebrating my first DVD


Beth and I went out to dinner after viewing my first full-length DVD of the Louisiana Peer Support training. Beth was so moved by the film, it was more interesting to watch her reaction rather than to watch the film! She has been such an angel to me. I honestly don't think I would be at the point I am without her encouragement and sheer belief in me. She pushes me to the limit sometimes, especially when I don't feel ready to step outside my comfort zone . If I waited until I was "ready" I doubt I would be holding this DVD in my hand right now. I have an actual product I can use now to show people what I do. It's like my new business card. I plan to sell the DVDs I make from now on, and this will help offset some of the expenses involved. I will also be posting segments on this blog of whatever project I am working on at the time. Tomorrow I'll be going to another training called "I Have a Story to Tell: Trauma Transformation Peer Support." It's a small training being held over 2 days, but I know all the people in the training -- and Beth is the instructor. All the participants know I am coming and they are welcoming me into the classroom for filming! Considering that the subject matter is highly personal, this is a huge thing for any filmmaker!

The good news I promised to tell you at a later date is:

(drum roll please)

I quit smoking! Totally! For good! Forever! I've also been hitting the gym every day -- and I even went swimming yesterday! I haven't been swimming - in an actual swimsuit - for about 20 years. So there are many boxes I am stepping out of, and it feels wonderful!

I feel like my life has just taken off, and I am riding the wave and having a blast!

I hope you enjoy the video. It was made fresh after the first viewing of my first film. It is an event to celebrate, and I feel like the Universe is celebrating with me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Faces of Recovery


These remarkable individuals are from the Peer Support Outreach training in Louisiana. Each one of them touched my heart in a way that I will never forget. I am so grateful that I was able to meet them face to face and gather so much video footage. They all had something to say! In this video, they talk about recovery, and they show us what recovery looks like. This is also the first video posted to my new blog Faces of Recovery and it includes a short intro of this new video project.

Meet the true faces of recovery in Louisiana!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dinner Conversation with Dan Fisher


Dan Fisher is a practicing psychiatrist in Massachusetts who fully recovered from schizophrenia many years ago. He is a walking example of recovery, which is something the mental health system doesn't believe can happen except in rare occasions. People who enter the mental health system with pronounced symptoms are typically given a serious diagnosis and a bleak future. They are told they will be on medication the rest of their lives in order to keep the symptoms stabilized, but that there is no cure for the illness itself. Recovery is unheard of by these newly diagnosed patients, and their future is mapped out by an unbelieving mental health system. I am not exaggerating. This is how it is, and this is something I saw first hand, again, at the Louisiana Peer Support Outreach training. Every person I interviewed said they had been labeled with an incurable mental illness and told they would never recover. Their only hope was to maintain stability by taking medication and participating in day treatment programs, which are designed and run by the same system that diagnosed them. These programs do not teach or expect recovery. They are hospitals without walls.

The thing that struck me the most was that all of these individuals are now in recovery. This happened only after Dan Fisher began his visits with them after Katrina, offered them hope, and introduced the reality of recovery. This is how recovery typically begins.

When people are offered hope and support and encouragement by other people who have recovered, recovery happens all on it own. It just does.

It wouldn't take hundreds of millions of dollars to transform the mental health system. It would take a FREE, NO COST paradigm shift at core levels of the system, starting with medical colleges and universities. If the system itself truly believed in recovery, people would routinely recover. How simple is that?

I get incredibly frustrated when I think about it. Sometimes it makes me cry, especially when I have an experience like I did in Louisiana. This whole concept of recovery hit me over the head like never before. The mental health system in Louisiana is more backward than any other I've seen in this country, yet all it took was Dan Fisher to offer hope to the "hopelessly labeled" for recovery to begin its course. I saw it in each of their faces. I heard it in their stories. It gleamed in their eyes. Hope is a beautiful thing to witness first hand. I'll never forget this trip.

Why is the mental health system so resistant to hope?

Unless hope is instilled at the core level of the system, recovery will not be possible for hundreds of thousands of people - unless they have an encounter with someone who has recovered in spite of the system. It doesn't need to be that way, but it is.

This video is one of my favorites from the Louisiana trip. It's candid and unedited with Dan, Beth, me, and two people from Meaningful Minds, the self-help support network in Louisiana, talking about the terms people adopt to call themselves when they begin to recover and challenge the mental health system. The woman talking is Debra, the executive director of this newly formed organization. We also discuss the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness, which is adopted like religion in the mental health system. It is the primary focus of treatment and prognosis and, most of all, medications. It is highly debatable, as you will see in this video.

I took 106 video clips of my trip. I've just now finished viewing all the footage. I'll be making DVDs to send to the folks in Louisiana as well as to Dan Fisher. The Office of Mental health in Louisiana has also requested a DVD of the footage. Interesting. Meanwhile, I'll be posting clips here and there on this blog. I couldn't resist showing this one first because it is my personal favorite! It's a wonderful introduction to Dan Fisher.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

NAMI on Chemical Imbalance Belief

More on the legislative session in Minnesota debating TeenScreen. This rep socks it to NAMI by stating the obvious. It blows my mind how the obvious is so routinely denied. I have high hopes for Minnesota due to the passion of this man. He's determined to not let the bill slide through unnoticed like it was intended to do.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Behind the Veil


Beth and I went to the Carter Center to talk frankly and honestly about mental health issues. There is no way I could pack all of it into one video, so I will be adding videos one by one as I finish them. I'm disappointed that this is the first clip I'm showing from my new camera because the quality is shocking to me. I tested the camera many times, and this is the only footage that came out badly upon encoding. The raw footage is excellent but something got lost in the translation. Grrrrr! I've done exhaustive tests to figure out what went wrong, but came up with nothing. And it was just the footage at the Carter Center! I don't get it! None of the other footage loses quality upon encoding, even when I choose the lowest quality settings!

I'm posting the footage regardless of the quality because we covered some powerful topics that I don't want to go to waste. This video is Beth talking about connecting with others no matter how isolated some may appear to be.

Next week Beth and I are going to Louisiana!!! She's be doing a training with Dan Fisher from The National Empowerment Center, and I will be tagging along with my camera. This trip just fell into my lap, thanks to Beth. Dan Fisher is someone I admire immensely and could only hope to meet one day. Well, that day has arrived. What a wonderful opportunity!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Dark Side of Human Nature

In my post "Mental illness vs. Terrorist" I wrote that Cho didn't need anybody and he never did. I regret writing that. I didn't mean it. I was angry and sad and full of hate for this killer. I couldn't make him human in my mind because then I might care about him along with the people he murdered. But he was human. He was dark in his thinking. He was depressed. He was suicidal. He was desperate.

When I was much younger I had incredible rage inside of me. I had my own hit list. I was dark in my thinking and suicidal and desperate. I was also incredibly fortunate. I was able to reach out. I had friends and family and hope. God knows where I would be now without the support of the human angels who appeared to me seemingly out of nowhere during my worst nightmares.

The horrific massacre at VT was not about mental illness. It was about human nature and the darkness that resides in each and every one of us. Of course we want to deny that darkness. Most of us succeed in that denial until something overwhelms us to the point of either imploding or exploding. The darkness gets expressed in one way or another. Sometimes creatively, sometimes not.

A large group of people in the YouTube community are commonly called "haters." They write horrible, flaming comments on even the most benign videos. There are thousands of these haters. At first I couldn't understand why they would want to hurt strangers just for the sake of hurting them. But someone made a video about them, talking about how they actually represent the general population of people.

People who carry that much anger are all around us, in our neighborhoods, schools, and communities. But when we walk out our front doors to go to the store, for example, we don't see them because the anonymity is gone, unlike the haters on YouTube. Those haters can hate all they want on YouTube or other Internet websites, but they show a different face in their own neighborhoods and towns. It's not okay to hurl hate at any stranger on the street, but it's okay on the Internet, especially since you can easily get away with it.

What really goes on behind closed doors? How much hate and anger exists right before our eyes? How common is this dark side of human nature?

I believe it is much more common than people realize. I believe it is as rampant next door as it is in the headlines and on the Internet. We've just learned to show a different face when necessary, and we've learned to abide by the boundaries of expression. We've learned that talking about such things is taboo. But hate and anger and depression do exist. It's all part of the human experience.

Granted, not everyone commits murder or other horrendous crimes. The difference between those who do and those who don't remains to be seen. I could write an entire post on that topic, but for now, I will end this post with something I read today on Bipolar Blast :

'School violence: threat assessment'

Please consider the following profile of a troubled young adult, based on an actual case history:

1. Talked about suicide for weeks at a time.
2. Reportedly wrote dark poetry about thrusting a dagger in his heart and "draw[ing] blood in showers!"
3. Was described as "indifferent to transpiring events," and having "little to say" for extended periods.
4. Was known to "go crazy," requiring the removal of knives and dangerous items from his room.
5. Used opiates and cocaine.
6. Wandered around with a gun during periods of suicidal ideation.
7. Was fascinated by a woman he was too shy to approach.
8. Was described as being in a "morbid" state.
9. Collapsed while speaking openly of his hopelessness and thoughts of suicide.
10. Was eventually diagnosed with "recurrent major depression."

Who was this risk to society? The answer is Abraham Lincoln .

Source: Joshua Wolf Shenk, Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness (2006)."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Comic Relief

"Ugly Caricatures" is a short video from "Nalts" on YouTube. He is alwats pulling stunts on people and using his kids and his kids' friends to help him. This one had me rolling over!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Virginia Tech (The Best I could do for now)

This is what the creater (Phil) of this video wrote:

"I was very torn about making a video on the subject because the shooter is being glorified. I believe the people that need to be glorified are people like Zach Petkewicz, and others like him, and the ones who were not as lucky. I tried to make a video talking about it, but I broke down each time. I made this instead. I think the worst reaction to this is hate. At this time we need to be about love for those who are now gone and can not speak for themselves, and their families. I wish you all the best. PS. The volume of the music is intentional. In case you say you cant hear what he says. ------------ The song that plays is called "Hide And Seek" by Imogen Heap PS. For people who say the song is used to "joke about the situation. The song was made....not for the OC season finale, not for the SNL Parody of the finale, which made fun of timing and cheesiness of the OC finale... but for meaning. Most people realize this when they listen to the lyrics."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mental Illness vs. Terrorist

The aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings are everywhere. Nothing has received this much media attention since hurricane Katrina. It's very unsettling to see what is being covered, too. It can be summed up with two major issues - mental illness and gun control.

I have something to say about mental illness.

This incident is not about mental illness! If it becomes about that, we just went 20 years back in advocating for the rights of those with mental illness. Cho Seung-Hui is no representation of mental illness. He is a representation of terrorism. He had guns, an elaborate plan, and believed himself to be a martyr. This was a suicide bombing, except that it was carried out by an individual rather than an organization.

So doesn't the fact that Cho was delusional in his beliefs make him "psychotic"? The 911 terrorists believed they would be greeted by virgins after crashing into the Twin Towers. They believed they would be honored as martyrs and that they were saviors to those who had been victimized by Americans. Why aren't they called "psychotic?" Cho's thinking was very dark and evil, and I see no difference in the way terrorists think.

Our need for a scapegoat in the face of tragedy is more apparent in this situation than in any other that I've seen since the Iraqi war. The only one to blame is Cho! But since he's dead, the need for a scapegoat remains. So let's just make one up. How about something really convenient, like the mentally ill?

Oh great. Bring on the stigma. Like we need more.

The more the media makes it about mental illness, the more rights of those with mental illness are jeopardized. Our rights are always in jeopardy as it is. People with mental illness should not have to be the scapegoats of an evil terrorist!

This is the only thing I've read so far that comes close to what I'm saying:

=======================

Mental health professionals are concerned this massacre may imply people to believe mentally ill people are violent when in fact most are not. "It shines a light in a way that only reinforces ignorance and discrimination, and so I'm very concerned about that," David Shern of Mental Health America said.

=======================

Statistically, the population who are considered mentally ill are far less violent than the general population and are far more prone to be victims of violence. This is a known fact.

But when someone who commits a violent crime has also been diagnosed with a mental illness, the media jumps on it. It makes the story more sensational. What about violent criminals who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness? Are they sane? What is mental illness in the face of violence?

Those who hadn't been diagnosed simply had not sought treatment within the mental health system. Those who enter the mental health system get a diagnosis - for insurance purposes if nothing else. And it's so easy to diagnose the average person who walks through those doors. The DSM has everyone covered. It takes so-called "abnormal" human behaviors and places them into categories. If your behaviors fit a specific category, you get a diagnosis, and if it doesn't quite fit a category, there are wastebasket diagnoses to cover it. The term is NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). Getting a diagnosis has nothing to do with being violent, although violent behaviors, just like all "abnormal" behaviors, have their DSM categories, too. The DSM does not discriminate.

The truth is, nobody knows for sure what causes this kind of violence. Theories are abundant, and much damage can come from theory alone.

Much damage has already come from theory alone.

I need to stop watching the news. But I want to understand. I want to cry my eyes out and gain a perspective I can live with. I want to honor the families and light a candle and see the faces of those who died so I know who I'm honoring. I want to hear about the courageous stories. I want to feel hope for those who can't feel it right now. I don't want to hear about Cho's bout with "mental illness" or see his videos or hear his words. The last thing I want to do at this point is see his face and honor his dying wishes all over the media. The current media massacre is simply honoring a man who deserves no such thing.

The families of those who were shot have my heart. The students who are heading back to school on Monday have my compassion. My brother died of a gun accident when he was 35. It was incredibly difficult to process because it seemed like such a senseless tragedy. This was just one man and one gun where no terrorism was involved, and it was one of the toughest times of my life. I can only imagine what the families in Virginia are going through.

What about their mental health? Let's not overshadow their pain and fear and uncertainty with the pain and anger of some evil terrorist! Those students need us now. Cho Seung-Hui doesn't need anybody. He never did.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Molestation Charges against Psychiatrist

This is more common than people realize. I know of numerous patients who were molested by not only psychiatrists, but also psychologists and hospital workers. One girl who spoke out in a state hospital was told she was delusional, then she was put on Haldol, the most powerful of all the antipsychotic drugs. She stopped talking about it. She stopped talking altogether. Other patients who were molested by this same worker never reported it because they feared being put on Haldol.

I had two other friends who were having sex with their therapists and bragged about it. Of course no charges were pressed in those cases.

It has always been taboo to report sexual abuse from mental health workers. Hopefully the taboo ends here.