Moving On

About a week ago, I published a post called the Involuntary Treatment Abolitionist Manifesto on this blog. You can still read it. Near the final paragraph, I explained how coercive treatments traumatized me. I still believe I am traumatized to this day. I am terrified of another one, avoid engaging in conversations with my social worker because of her support in them, feel sick and enraged just formulating the word ”injection” inside my head, and am not hesitant to get a flu shot, which, by the way, I used to have no problems with, but now associate needles with unpleasant reactions and feel faint.

It’s both rational and logical to assume I was traumatized. But what is even more dehumanizing is that the people responsible for it or rather, the system is unavoidable. You’re forced to go to appointments, the psychosis group, meeting your social worker almost every week, told that those injections were ”the best for you” when you explain your trauma.  So, do I feel better? Did the system help me? Absolutely not. It made me fear for my life. That is an injustice not just for me, but for numerous other survivors who have also came out. It’s vital that we must reform it.

Yesterday, I realized this: I can’t let them win. I need to start crawling to freedom. And how will I do that? School. I pledge to dedicate myself to schoolwork in hopes it will serve as an antidote for the broken feelings consuming me. And those injections can’t happen again, for the sake of my health. I believe I suffered an allergic reaction from the last high-dose anti-psychotic injection. It was forced inside of me suddenly without gradual introduction, (from 50 mg to 100 mg without the 75 mg in between) which I think is plausible to conclude. But I can’t win this battle right now. Sometimes playing dead is the best survival mechanism. And that’s what I’ll do.

14 Anti-Psychiatry Questions

  1. Do behaviors indicate illnesses of the brain?
  2. Are behaviors illnesses?
  3. Why are mental illnesses not classified as brain diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?
  4. What should we do with those who pose threats to themselves or others?
  5. Is the relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient imbalanced?
  6. Why do we not give freedom to people from involuntary treatment?
  7. Why should we give freedom to people from involuntary treatment?
  8. If a mental illness was seen as something positive to have, would it still be classified as a mental illness?
  9. Why do we not organize objective brain differences like autism as mental illnesses?
  10. Why are there no objective tests to diagnose mental illness?
  11. Is a mental illness a combination of political, interpersonal, social, and ethical problems of living rather than an actual disease?
  12. Is a mental illness a cultural reflection of how one should behave?
  13. If there was no state, how would involuntary treatment be effected?
  14. What makes a mental illness that particular one according to one psychiatrist, and not another one according to another?

The Involuntary Treatment Abolitionist Manifesto

Involuntary treatment is a weapon. Enclosing someone inside a psychiatric hospital and forcing them to undergo treatment without their consent is synonymous with enclosing a prisoner inside a cell.  Involuntary treatment is a carrier of pain, more so than a freeing experience, for some people.

We must not forget, however, that abolishing every psychiatric service in the world would cruelly deny those who are testaments of their benefits. Why should someone deny a homeless schizophrenic chemical refuge, provided that it’s something they are willing to try and they themselves think it will help start living a healthier, more sane life?

Moreover, psychiatrists share a common belief that involuntary treatment will help protect their patients from harming themselves and others. But first, the process goes that you’ll be diagnosed with a mental disorder, which justifies the drug treatments. Is it even proper to assume that diagnosing something objectively measurable such as a heart palpitation can be applied to the mind?

Where are the objective tests that can accurately determining what malfunction might be producing those so-called abnormal  behaviors without subjective, scientifically unsound testing?  A test measuring behavioral traits is not scientifically sound and objective like a blood test or an ultrasound. You cannot claim to know the effect when you do not know the cause. Rather, it’s an attempt to mash a combination of frowned-upon interpersonal, social, ethical, and political behaviors as an actual disease. What’s the result? Pseudo-science.

What’s even more appalling is that psychiatrists can violently enforce their beliefs into the bodies of the unwilling. Sometimes an involuntary patient is held down, while they scream in agony, as a high-dose crude injection is inserted into them, and this is repeated. Is this treatment, or something closer to torture?

From my own experience, I was injected with anti-psychotic medication, numerous times, without my consent. If my psychiatrist insists it was for the best, is it really so if all the other spiritual, physical, mental, emotional signs point to the opposite?

I am now an involuntary treatment abolitionist. Psychiatry must become a tool welded for those who only consent to it, rather than a metaphor for imbalance, and needless harm. It is time that we listen to the victims and survivors of our outdated psychiatric systems, and start implementing fair change. I was dehumanized and traumatized by involuntary treatment. Were you? Join me.

 

 

 

 

 

My Manifesto

I’m Tiana. There’s a lot of things I would like to do in life, but the most important one is to write. I’ll read books — actually devour them. The formula is simple enough, don’t stick to one genre or website, but expose yourself to a wide mixture.

Books, blogs, websites, newspapers, as long as it’s readable I’ll be willing to read it. I’ll practice writing. In fact, I’ll try to type up a draft every day if possible. I may steal from the greats, but at the same time will allow my writing to blossom with each crafted paragraph.

Generating ideas and converting them into a river of words is the hardest part — you’ll have to practice for months on end if you want to produce something remarkable, but it will be worth it because I believe I’ll become a writer.

I’ll write on several different topics, but what especially quivers my spine is writing on mental health. I grew up around mental illness, and it certainly wasn’t fun. But it inspired me to help people. Not to cure them of course, since I don’t have the credentials, but to help lead people on to a path of recovery.

Writing on mental health has helped enable me to break free from some of my negative thinking. I don’t know where I’ll end up or how I’ll finish, but I know the route I want to take. I will continue to write, with the goal of publishing my work on websites, blogs, and eventually newspapers.

I will meet new people and ask them what I can do to advance my craft. I will eventually move out and earn a writing career. I will volunteer at libraries, and publishing offices, dedicating myself to learning more. I will express my thoughts and beliefs, regardless of who attempts to dictate how I should act or what I should write about.

I will not regurgitate information, but breathe out a humble opinion with each flick of my wrist. This is too big for a teenager to not only achieve, but envision. If I had more friends, siblings, and support networks, they would cushion me from potential failures and miseries. It is too massive, unconquerable, indefinable to contemplate doing.But I won’t give up. What I hope is that when I write, a diagram intertwined with my own visions, thoughts, and beliefs will emerge, and I can capture it with each sense.

I’ll visualize myself standing, hearing my voice chatting, tasting salty sweat from hours of exerting myself, and touching whatever is beside me, desperately trying to withhold from electrocuting euphoria. But I can’t promise you I’ll write every day. There will be days when I need to withdraw, at least for a little while. Let’s come together. I am grateful and excited to embark on this mission with you.

Sad and Sick

Apologies for not blogging as much as I used to. The last few weeks have been tough. I’ve been feeling anxious about leaving my home alone, refused to go on an outing with my only friend, and my thigh and calf have been feeling stiff, cracking like someone cemented gravel inside my bone marrow. Worst of all, my health anxiety has worsened, progressing into brutal emotional suffering, as I continue to become more and more uncertain about my health. The only treatment I am taking right now is a dosage of psychiatric medication, which definitely numbs the pain, but it sort of goes into temporary remission, rather than dissipating completely. I can’t even begin to comprehend who I am – a skeleton dragging its bones, anchoring a brain which overworks and fails to deliver at the same time.

My brain pumps out an overflow of one chemical while struggling to squeeze out the right balance of another ingredient. But still, I disagree that my health anxiety or hypochondria or whatever this damned condition is, should prevent me from achieving what I want in my own life. (Though I can’t help but think how much more accomplished I would be if only my brain were programmed a little more differently.) What I would like to do is address and label the components of my health anxiety into concrete, narrative situations, so that if you happen to struggle with some form of it too, you don’t feel so alone and afraid. Unfortunately, being ill with this uncomfortable mental illness has decreased the amount of work I produce, slowing the volume until I often feel too sluggish and agitated to continue. (It took about five days to just think of the idea.)

  1. Researching symptoms: All too often, I feel uncertain about something going on inside, whether it be a bruise or a pain. And all too often, I misinterpret my symptoms. I believe that a faulty genetic wiring, as well as a misconstrued environmental background isn’t entirely to blame, but that the erroneous health information bombarding our screens and radios on a daily basis must lie rather conspicuously somewhere along the trek back into the origins of my compulsion to research. Don’t believe me? The near ubiquitous amount of diagnostic tools (check your symptoms?) accessible at out fingertips, fueled with a lack of distinction between personalized health information and a misunderstood interpretation of a certain symptom, might have been partially responsible for my obsession to research my symptoms, in the same matter that someone with obsessive compulsive disorder may have a compulsion to check something repeatedly. Like a drug users toxic high, researching and linking any possible disease to my symptoms can ignite a fast, warming sense of relief, almost as though a certified medical professional diagnosed me in person. But at the same time, if the result attracting my attention is grave or fatal, I am engulfed with a troubling panic attack, trembling and struggling to breathe properly.
  2. Confusing a symptom with a life-threatening disease: Yesterday, I woke up and noticed a red, puffy bite on my leg I am warned that it’s a mistake, at least according to a malfunctioning bleeping, somewhere intertwined beneath what I imagine are a near infinite amount of folds, as a predator lurking to devour its vulnerable prey: my soul. It abuses me, promising me that I am worthy of knowing the truth, but then belittles me incessantly with vicious lies and warnings whenever I attempt to find it out on my own. Meanwhile, people coax me into believing that the worst will occur only in very rare, singular cases, but I know that it can’t be true. The mosquito bite indicates a tumor, and now I should understand that my life, like an unfortunate few, was indeed untimely and brutishly short. Here’s the worst part about it: Even when I am unconcerned, it still taunts me from a distance, never truly snapping shut from my subconscious. I mean, I can even sense it’s there in my dreams.
  3. Aversion to germs: This year, I believe I’ve been sick for an unprecedented number of times. I especially hated the time I lay in bed, weakened and exhausted while boiling up with a fever, thinking of how I could have basked in the sunshine and finished work. It lasted less than a week, but feeling as though I couldn’t miss out, didn’t wear off. It’s too much of a risk to become ill, so I stubbornly wash my hands always before I touch something and put it in my mouth.You might be thinking that’s a given, but once you visualize all of the harmful potential viruses and bacteria migrating into your body, you might, like me, begin to question ever leaving the house again. Even when I watch people calmly touch a door handle and then pick up and munch on a burger, I still can sense my hands tremble and your heart thudding, as though I’m the one eating it.
  4. Fear of death: Every one of us realizes that we are born, live for a little while, and then die and return to the earth, back to our unconscious selves. But for some, it’s too much to deal with when you mention death. I scour for empowering quotes about death online, as if I am a terminal patient seeking to exit the world with grace. I listen to powerful music, but still prefer to imagine other people’s lives and deaths rather than taking charge of my own. I know that I need to stop wrecking havoc on my health (how ironic) by preventing those hidden sources of stress from sneakily stalking me, but I can’t. I want to leave and be reborn in a distant time, but then I am grounded with an unsettling fact which is I will be stuck within this calculating, fallible body for eternity.

Life seems dire – this needs to be accomplished today, and yet nothing is truly important or good any more. You are chained to your computer; it’s the only real thing that brightens up your mood ever so slightly. No matter what people tell you, self-help books that you turn from page to page, just picturing never getting what you most wanted almost makes you want to disappear from life itself.

You think the world sucks. You hear stories of children perishing, people harming others with cruel intentions, and then as you stand up from the television, it’s almost as if your field of vision is shaded more dark, and colder. I don’t even watch the news or read it much anymore, because it always seems to be a trigger for lying on my stomach in bed, with the room darkened and the curtains shut tight, with the pillow scarfed around my head as I weep quietly, wanting to give up on the world. I look for a hug, or affectionate words, but if I can find it, I can’t seem to accept it.

Most importantly, I want to endow a legacy, a permanent library of works all titled with my name in pompous signatures, but again, I can’t seem to find it. And I struggle deeply with that. Sometimes you remind yourself that you aren’t demented or insane, it’s just that your imagination confuses itself with logic, but that doesn’t seem to work either. I live for quick, easily-chewable stints of instant gratification.

According to a 2001 study, 5 to 9 percent of the population are hypochondriacs. They fear of suffering from a serious illness, and believe they have one, despite diagnostic evidence signifying the contrary. The study also suggested that the best bet to treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. This treats the hypochondria or health anxiety by teaching the patient to learn that their bodily functions are not a serious medical problem, as well to stop repeatedly looking up health information and excessively seeking reassurance.

I think one of the biggest problems is that mental illness, and even being sick in general is often stigmatized or looked down upon, and the people living with it are often ostracized from school, work, and society. But still, a thought inside my head, almost like an infinitely looping song which has become unbearably annoying, can’t help but nag, ”but what if it is a serious medical condition?” I hope you understand that I’m working on it. I may make a lousy therapist, but at least I’m looking forward to someday having one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Winter

The night sky illustrates hope. Pastel like black softens the tree tips camped behind my apartment. Clusters of star-dust intersect, mimicking pristine brushstrokes on a canvas. I hold the front door open for my dad, who closes it behind me. My boots squeak, imprinting footprints on freshly fallen snow, as I crunch across the ice-coated parking lot. Me and my dad climb inside our van, and clip on our seat belts while I cross my legs to keep warm. We are going to visit an ill family member.

As if someone dry coughed, the van growls hoarsely. We slip away, whisking past columns of dew sprayed apartments. While my father pauses at a cross light, I glance outside of the frosted window, squinting. Are those distant constellations of fantasia in fact, pot-bellied planets whirling and could those rail-thin asteroids rocketing through space be boarded with extraterrestrial life?

We enter the hospital. In the waiting room behind glass doors, a mother hushes her groggy child. A time-worn man lies back on a chair. I notice the scabs encrusted all over his body. This hospital illuminates societal stigmas such as sickness, grief, and death with unshakable honesty. But it also reminded me of how I was able to soar beyond a loss, a tragedy. Peering above at an eternal beauty reveals what it truly means to live! Me and my dad stand in line. He shifts nervously, but I am calm, humbled by the night sky. No longer do I feel so alone.

My Age of Anxiety and Me

Something inside of me is rapidly metastasizing like a horrific cancer. I imagine the neurotransmitters spliced within my brain are overflowing with a bath of tantalizing chemicals. My hands begin to shake, not softly trembling as if I were startled, but instead mimicking the legs of a convulsing epileptic. It’s difficult to look at the print on the computer screen; could it be that the myopia seething on the insides of my eyeball, has finally progressed from hours of staring scrunchy eyed at the laptop screen to an immature macular degeneration? This can’t be happening. Displaced on the chair cushion, I stand up and walk to my bedroom. My stomach feels herniated and distended, and my forehead is wracked with such pain that I can only label it as something comparable to a screw drilled beneath my skull.

Now that I’ve barely made it there without collapsing and curling on the floor in agony, I glance at the window straight in front of me. Sunlight, thick like a spoon of honey, cascades through the extended curtains, glistening and temporarily blinding me. For an indiscernible reason, my hands are still twitching sporadically when I raise them, and I can’t help but wonder why has my stomach been so disagreeable lately. Too much to deal with even in my own bedroom, as if I were disappointed that as soon as I entered, my brain didn’t leech open from the cuticles of my skin. I turn around, blinking a little, slightly relieved that my panoply of eye nerves are settled. Perhaps going back on the internet will also temporarily resolve my fantasy of freeing from an anxious, mortal body. But the moment I sit down at the kitchen table, it happens again. This time my stomach rumbles, and I expect to rush to the bathroom soon despite being abjectly afraid of becoming ill.

Frustrated, I press the button and type in the password situated on the keys. I frown, desperately trying to not pay attention to my stomach, because apparently the digestive burbles foreshadow a soul-sucking, gastrointestinal illness. Watching funny videos to lighten up and laugh a little has an instant gratification, so I think as I contemplate what to search. But so does a greasy burger as a short-lived, hedonistic indulgence. Next, I begin to toil with rage. I have wasted approximately twelve hours from when I woke up into now, in the evening, researching mind-numbing key phrases like celebrity news and TV show updates which secure just carcasses in the pursuit of my own happiness. What is actually debilitating me? Then I remembered how my psychiatrist mentioned something about me being diagnosed with a distinct health anxiety known as hypochondria at a meeting recently. So, I sat up with an awkward glee, put on my glasses, researched hypochondria with a nimble Google search, and discovered that hypochondria is, according to Wikipedia, the first result, a somatoform disorder, meaning mental distress produces symptoms suggesting one has a physical illness. Relaxing, I suppose.

But how could this hypochondria of mine unleash a concoction of cramping, restless hands, and declining vision practically synonymous with an antibiotic resistant bug? And how could I be satisfied with the error-producing body I had? I was caught and tangled, out of breath. The internet, no matter how tightly clustered with constellations of information, isn’t likely to solve this predicament. Right at this time, I press the button off, fold the laptop, stand up, and plop on the couch behind the kitchen table in the living room, gently gesturing and clasping a book in my hand. My fingers smooth its hardcover, yellow cover and open the jacket page. The author has a nonchalant smile attached to a pasty face.

I wonder if he was actually in a pleasant mood, or masked his anxious disposition with charismatic grace. As I read, although I have already read this book multiple times, I mellow out and begin to recall his ample caricatures of a variety mental conditions with each flip of the page. And when I discover his journalism positions, and momentary success in writing, hurtling past his traumatizing and severe episodes of anxiety as a child, I feel gratified and inspired. Perhaps this is a harbinger enlightening me of my own possible achievements in the future? A little probe further, and I am notified more in-depth of his apparent nervous stomach, blurred vision, and lack of stillness all due to his debilitating anxiety. I place the book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind back on the table as gingerly as I reached it, and stand up and walk with a little bounce in my step to my bedroom, while my parents remain with their attention devoured to the television.

As I enter the room once more, I glance outside the window. The sunlight is less bright, but still warm and welcoming. Then something unexplainable happened: I started twirling and spinning, despite reeling from digestive distress, nervous hands, and poor vision. At that moment, the author, Scott Stossel, gave me the strength to feel free. If it was possible he was able to convert or somaticize his mental conditions into real, physical symptoms, then must I too possess the ability? And yet, if he was able to accept his unfortunate makeup, and conduct tangible successes in his life, then why not I? I stop and pause, peering through the window. There’s a bend of road and a grassy hill. Curious, I think of investigating. But I am then conflicted by the barricades of separation anxiety, and I recall that he once was, and still struggles with it to a degree to this day too. But I am beginning to construct something special. And that’s a good sign, since my stomach feels a little better too,