It’s That Time of Year

I reach clarity

A quiet voice speaks to me

My mind’s eye opens

It’s that time of year again, for New Years resolutions. I have been making many changes in my life recently, but there is one that stands out to me that I really need to work on: meditation. I just started doing basic meditation recently, and it helps me focus, clears my head of negative energy, provides clarity, and helps me connect with something I don’t understand yet, and possibly never will. God? The universe? Collective consciousness? I don’t know, but it holds great wisdom.

Not that the other areas I’m seeking improvement in are unimportant, because they are very important. Meditation is my weakest area, and I see it as having the potential of being one of the most beneficial disciplines to develop, as it fosters growth in all areas of my life.

Severe Family Drama

One side of my extended family and my immediate family experienced severe drama shortly after I was diagnosed 10 years ago. It ended with my immediate family deciding to cut off contact indefinitely, and ten years later it’s still in full force. The oddest part about this fiasco is that everyone had their own good (never malicious) intentions about the entire situation.

My psychotic episode acted as a catalyst to enable a series of events to unfold, which brought up old pains and perceptions about family dating back to before I was born. My parents did the best they could to keep me out of the middle of it, and they did a good job save for what was pertinent to our immediate family and to me. I had enough trauma to deal with at the time, and I had to fight tooth and nail to keep my head above water. My parents were taking care of me, so it was in my best interest to side with them on everything. As a result, people got burned.

At the time of this whole fiasco, each party had its own agenda to try and remedy someone or something or another. I had many agendas in that I wanted counseling for a separate personal problem as well as counseling for my immediate family as there seemed in my mind to be issues there. My aunt shared many of the same beliefs that I did and wanted to help me bring those ideas forward. She offered whatever support she could give in the process, including an open offer for my sisters and I to stay the night if we needed to while everything was being processed. My grandparents wanted everyone to stop fighting, to fix the problem and move on.

In everything, no one was in a position to own up to anything, myself included, and that put gasoline on the fire. I wasn’t able to stand up for what I believed, either, partly because the truth may have destroyed my immediate family at the time. My immediate family was treading water, too, after the stress I put forward. I ended up turning on my aunt in the interest of self preservation and keeping my family together. In hindsight, I believe it was the right thing to do, but it is still a band aid, and that just may have to do.

What ultimately did our extended family in is that we decided against getting a professional third party involved. As a result, everything blew up in our faces. I believe that two things need to happen if there is any hope of reconciliation. One is that both parties (my family and everyone else) need to get to a point where they want to resolve the situation. The other is finding an appropriate third party to mediate. The second part is in place, as my therapist knows the situation very well, understands the complex dynamics involved, and she knows me as well, the catalyst. She does house calls and I have her cell phone number for after hours.

While finding the third party is the easier of the two, at least it is in place in case the miracle happens when everyone wants to give things another go.

Opening Up to My Aunt

This post is on the personal side, even for me. At my extended family gathering yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk one on one with one of my aunts. We’re both introverted at heart and needed to go downstairs to recharge, where we start talking.

We start off with the topic of losing weight as that’s something we’re both striving for. This leads to a discussion of my mental health and my medications. I explain to her where I am at, and she says she had no idea because I have left her in the dark. I tell her it wasn’t her fault as she tried to reach out and I pushed her away. She says to me, that my old self became lost and I turned into a different person after my initial trauma occurred ten years ago. I agree with her, and I’m inadvertently trying to get some of the good parts back of my old self.

She’s incredibly happy that I feel the way I do about my bipolar, that it is a very small part of me that I don’t think about other than here or in private conversations from time to time. She says it seemed to define me before, but not so anymore – not at all. I also share my desire to reach a point where I can go back to school and pursue a career in writing – at least give it a shot, if you will.

She suggests that I write down my story according to exactly how I feel first, and go from there. It’s hard for me to do that, as this involves real people whom I love and are close to me, and to share that stuff with certain parties would ruin them. The main one being that my mom played a very big role in pushing me over the deep end early and initially. I know that going over the deep end would be inevitable, but that’s how things went down.¬†My aunt points out I need to get these feelings out sometime that I hold tight to in order to protect others, that it’s not good to keep them in. I know I’ve shared plenty with my therapist, but that’s different than sharing it with family or friend.

I also realize, something I failed to tell my aunt yesterday, that I pushed her away because of other extreme extended family drama from ten years ago and I feared I would repeat that pattern by opening up to her about my feelings.

It’s taken 10 years for me to have a truly meaningful personal conversation with extended family like that. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas! For many, a bittersweet statement. I went to church yesterday for the first time in a long while. It was weird. Yes, a profound weirdness was there. I went to church because I’m staying with my parents for the night because I want to do so. I don’t feel like getting in a theological or philosophical discussion at the moment, so I’ll leave it at that.

However, as I was searching for some reading material last night, I stumbled across a long-lost journal of mine, whose last entry was exactly ten years ago on the date. December 24, 2003, the morning I was first admitted to the crisis stabilization unit. I started reading it and quickly figured out it was not light bed time material, nor good at fostering wholesome family perceptions. I put it in my bag to go home and I shall read it later. One decade ago, exactly, and it shows up! A sort of Christmas miracle, it feels like!

In any case, I hope you are having a good Christmas if you’re reading this, or are at least enjoying a little bit of somethin’ today. Better than a whole lot of nothin’ as they say…

“Satan’s Industry of Death”

An extremist Christian group called “The Watchman’s Report” put out this video entitled “Satan’s Industry of Death” about psychiatry a year ago. However, their title is a self-fulfilling prophecy about what they are unknowingly encouraging, the idea that we should throw psychiatry out the window. Personally, I see them as Satan’s hand in this whole scenario.

The “documentary” is correct in that the roots of psychiatry are dark, indeed. However, so it was in all fields of medicine. Just as medicine improved with scientific discovery, anesthesia, and antibiotics, so did psychiatry improve with time. The Watchman’s Report claims psychiatry is evil, destructive, and Satan’s hand in diagnosing and drugging the masses in order to make money. The video claims that psychiatrists have no right to play God with peoples’ minds, while I say other doctors do the same thing in other fields with peoples’ bodies. Furthermore, God works through people to bring about healing.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a documentary so skewed and taken out of context in a long time. Unfortunately, they are preaching to the choir of many who share the same beliefs. Without psychiatry, I would be a dead man. Do not be a poison to society and spread skewed lies that psychiatry does not work. You could end up convincing some of this and kill them or a loved one of theirs or make them suffer needlessly, b/c they refused psychiatric treatment after reading through rubbish such as your “documentary.” I also thought you had a nice touch with putting ()’s in to indicate what the imagery of the Bible should be interpreted as.

Bravo! And stop making a bad name for Christians!

“I Am Mental Illness” Vs. “I Have Mental Illness”

To be bipolar is to be controlled by my illness. To have bipolar is to have control over my illness. The subtleties of language have great differences in meaning. I imagine to be diagnosed with any mental illness, the initial tendency is to slap the label on myself, saying I am ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar, BPD, schizophrenic, <insert mental illness diagnosis here>. Likewise, the initial tendency for a person not educated about mental illness is to label those people who have it according to their illnesses.

I suspect this is the case because mental illness has an effect on the mind, which is very near to our core being. When it spins out of control, it is magnified and shows up prevalently in the forefront of that person. In order to become diagnosed, this must often happen. In my case, I couldn’t help but look out through a looking glass shaped by bipolar, interpreting a lot of the turmoils I was experiencing along with my past according to what bipolar is and does. My family did the same thing.

However, just like someone who has diabetes doesn’t say he is diabetes, or AIDS, GERD, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, COPD, whatever illness you can conjure up, he HAS that illness. It’s something he becomes educated about, receives treatment for, and he learns how to manage and cope with it.

Mental illnesses are no different. I imagine them to be more challenging than many physical illnesses as they are much more abstract and hard to understand. For John, his recent diagnosis of bipolar may feel like bipolar is him at first, right at the core of his being, but it isn’t. It’s simply got a grip on him.

So please, keep that in mind. To label mental illness as not an illness is incredibly destructive, and so is labeling the afflicted as the illness. In time he or she will take ownership of it, manage it, and cope with it just like someone who has type 1 diabetes, say. Help him or her along by referring to the illness as something he or she has, instead. If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, tell yourself you have it, not that you are it!

Phones and Psychosis Part 2: My First Break

In part 1, I described my experiences with phones during my second hospitalization for psychotic mania. My second break was more of a trippy, metaphysical journey I had, and very different from my first hospitalization. During my first hospitalization, I was in hell.

My first break happened while I was on a family Christmas vacation out of state. I completely decompensated on or around Christmas day, and the only place I could go was a seedy crisis stabilization unit. There, the patients were far gone to begin with, and I was in tune with what was going on around me spiritually. It was truly horrifying. Unfortunately, I don’t have my records as a reference point to what was happening in reality, so I just have the memories of what I experienced first hand.

I noticed that when patients would start talking on the phone, they would fade away and start changing into a different person. I didn’t know what was going on at the time, so I just stayed away from the phone. However, curiosity got the best of me, and I tried listening to the earpiece. All I heard were pops, crackles, and a feeling of me being sucked in. I put the earpiece down immediately.

Then it was time for me to see the doctor. When I heard that, all I felt was dread. I sensed he was a truly evil man. When I got in to the room to see him, he basically asked me why I was there. After my manic strings of answers, he replied. I cannot remember his face other than that I saw two voids for eyes and he looked like nothing I had ever seen before. “I can FIX you,” he said. He handed me a phone and told me to talk on it. I refused. He tried pressuring me hard, and I opened the door and ran out.

Later, I had a brief memory of me in a dark room wearing some sort of helmet that someone was dialing in signals that I could feel into my brain. I felt myself going out of my body to some place else, and entering a realm that I experienced later during my second break, verbatim. I saw many things, and I felt like someone was trying to steal me. I fought back hard, and snapped to in the dark room, threw the helmet off, and ran back into my unit.

I believed they were “curing” these people by attaching healthy souls to them, and part of it had to do with the phones they were strongly encouraging people to use.

That psychiatrist prescribed me Geodon. I refused it, because I could never trust a doctor who tells me “I can fix you,” in such a calm, matter-of-fact demeanor; someone whose face I couldn’t see.

Fortunately, they had another psychiatrist on a different day and she seemed trustworthy. I took the Abilify she prescribed, brand new at the time.