Do I have PTSD and some Low-calorie PTSD Comfort Food

I think I will start with the recipes, since that might interest everyone. First, what is more the quintessential comfort food than mashed potatoes? So this comfort food main course starts with mashed potatoes, but it adds a cholesterol-lowering “superfood” curly kale, which is not only a deep cruciferous green, and therefore anti-all sorts of cancer and a first rate antioxidant, but it is extremely low-calorie, so you can eat virtually all you want. What we are going to make is a healthy version of the Irish dish, Colcannon, a dish that many cultures have some version of. It is not only easy enough to make from scratch, but we are going to cheat, as much as we can, to make it absolutely as easy as possible. I do however insist upon using fresh curly kale, since that is the only way you can obtain all the benefits of that vegetable. Here is the recipe, but don’t stop with that because following it is a recipe for a low-calorie, sugar-free, diabetic friendly cheesecake!

LOW-CALORIE COLCANNON (mashed potatoes and curly kale plus…)

2 bunches of curly kale, or about 6-8 leaves

1 box of prepared mashed potatoes, enough for 8 servings of 1/2 cup each, though for our purposes we will be allowing each person a whole cup!

7 walnuts per person (crushed into pebble-sized pieces)

Butter-flavored salt or butter buds, or sea salt or any herbs or seasoning you like (I like Badia brand All-purpose Seasoning, but the choice is yours.)

Procedure: Chop off the Kale stems and then chop the leaves into small bite-size pieces, approximately 1/2-1 inch square. You can also use a food processor and coarsely shred the leaves too, I imagine. STEAM these in a small amount of water until tender but still a deep bright green. Do not over-cook or you will lose all the “goodness.”

Prepare the mashed potatoes without the butter or milk, using ONLY water. (If you really insist, you can add a tablespoon or two of low fat dried milk to the water but remember that this will add calories…). Add your butter salt or seasonings to taste.

Now mix the kale and mashed potatoes together in microwave safe bowl or a saucepan and add crushed walnuts. If you need to reheat at this point, you can do so either in the microwave or in the same saucepan as you made the mashed potatoes on the stove.

Ta dah! The best part of this is that you can eat 2 whole cups and only consume 300 calories, which is PDG, in my humble opinion because most people are quite full after that.

Here’s the breakdown, in case you don’t believe me.

Plain mashed potatoes without milk or butter = 70 calories per half cup.

Kale= 30 calories approximately for 3.5 ounces…essentially negligible but we will call it 1/2 C.

Walnuts= 100 calories for 7 nuts

Seasonings= 0 calories

If you eat 2 cups of equal parts of kale and potatoes, you are only having 1 cup of potatoes, or 140 calories, plus maybe 1 cup of 60 calories of kale, plus 100 calories of walnuts. So that comes out to 300 calories total.

Now for the Low-Calorie Diabetic Friendly Cheesecake. This one is unbelievable delicious and simple to make. If you want to avoid ALL fat, simply make it without the crust, or experiment with making the crust without butter. I think it should work fine.


1 large container of NO-fat Greek yogurt (120 calories/C.)

1 package low-calorie, no-sugar cheese-cake pudding mix

1/2 large bag shelled walnuts

2-3 Tbs butter or oil

Approximately 1-1 1/2C sucralose or Splenda-like sweetener


First if you are making the crust with butter, heat the butter in a small no-stick pan on moderate heat until it begins to sizzle. Add the walnuts. Toss them for about a minute but do not let them brown or burn. Add the Splenda and toss for about a minute or two. The Splenda will not melt so the mixture will remain crumbly. It will not get particularly hot. After a couple of minutes, remove mixture from heat and pour into a slightly greased shallow bowl or platter with a lip on it. (I use a large salad bowl.) Make sure the layer has no holes or tears and is relatively thick. It should resemble a largish pancake of crumbles. About 8-9″ circumference.

For the “cheesecake”: scoop Greek yogurt into a bowl and add the package of cheescake pudding mix. Stir vigorously until mixture is nice and thick and makes hearty peaks. With a rubber spatula, spoon over the crust, being careful not to tear apart and smooth it with care. Cover and refrigerate for around 8-12 hours. Enjoy!

Depending on size of slice, you can calculate calories from these:

1 C Greek yogurt= 120 calories (4 C. per large container, so likely 1/2-1/3 C per serving of cheesecake)

7 walnuts=100 calories

1Tb butter=100 calories (Since this recipe makes a whole cake, your slice shouldn’t have more than a pat or two or 30-60 calories)

Splenda=0 calories

1 serving of low-calorie cheesecake pudding mix=35-40 calories

(My estimate from this is: approximately 250-300 calories for 1/8 -1/6 slice of the cake…)


I will write more soon about the post topic, i.e. the personal question, Do I have PTSD? But I have written for an hour and a half already, including what is copied below, so for now I am too tired to add much more. I will only say that my results of the test at the bottom, when I took it, definitely indicated that I have PTSD, despite the fact that I did not experience a trauma involving death or the possibility of death or serious injury (as the good doctors have now decided to redefine trauma.) Note that if you take the test at the site, they will evaluate it and give you a score, which you cannot get by taking it here, though you can get some idea of how you would do just by looking at it.

Finally, I don’t know if it is really okay to “lift these” directly from another website, but as I am providing a direct link as well as full attribution, I cannot imagine that the originators would object strenuously.

The first website is and here is the link to the PTSD symptoms and diagnosis article below:

Also as is noted below, the article was written by Harold Cohen, PhD

Cohen, H. (2006). Symptoms and Diagnosis of PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2012, from

Symptoms and Diagnosis of PTSD

By Harold Cohen, Ph.D.

There are three main kinds of symptoms that clinicians look for when diagnosing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These include re-experiencing symptoms, avoidant symptoms and symptoms of increased arousal.

Re-experiencing symptoms include ways in which the person persistently re-experiences the traumatic event. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Intrusive memories of the traumatic event
  • Recurrent, distressing dreams about the traumatic event
  • Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event is reoccurring
  • Mental and physical discomfort when reminded of the traumatic event (e.g., on the anniversary of the traumatic event)

Avoidant symptoms are ways in which the person tries to avoid anything associated with the traumatic event. These symptoms may also include a “numbing” effect, where the person’s general response to people and events is deadened. Avoidant symptoms include the following:

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings, people or situations (anything that could stir up memories) associated with the traumatic event
  • Not being able to recall an important aspect of the traumatic event
  • Reduced interest or participation in significant activities
  • Feeling disconnected from others
  • Showing a limited range of emotion
  • Having a sense of a shortened future (e.g., not expecting to have a normal life span, marriage or career)

Symptoms of increased arousal may be similar to symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks. Increased arousal symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Exaggerated watchfulness and wariness
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Being easily startled

Difficulty in Diagnosing PTSD

Identifying people with PTSD can be difficult and this disorder is often unrecognized. PTSD is unique among psychiatric disorders in that it is identified not only by symptoms, but also by the precursor of the illness (the traumatic event). Since talking about trauma may evoke painful emotions, people often refrain from discussing past traumatic events.

When a person is unable or unwilling to discuss a traumatic event, accurate diagnosis is difficult. For example, domestic violence and sexual abuse are subjects that many persons feel uncomfortable in raising, even with professionals. For others, feelings of shame and guilt related to the event and social pressures to “deal with” the symptoms that come afterward make talking about it difficult. Additionally, persons with PTSD often have other disorders, such as substance abuse or depression. These other disorders share some of the symptoms of PTSD and can also make diagnosis more difficult.

Doctors and health professionals may also ignore the signs and symptoms of PTSD. Indeed, it has been argued that at times society turns a blind eye to the existence of traumatized individuals, denying that posttraumatic responses constitute a disorder. Indeed, PTSD has only recently been recognized by the official psychiatric nomenclature. Persons who suspect that they are suffering from PTSD should seek out professionals who have experience with this disorder.

Then the following is an online PTSD Test, which you can also find along with other psychological tests at the link below. Note that I have NO opinion regarding the online therapy offered except to say, beware of all such offers and check everything out first…


Question True False
Do you often experience flashbacks? (A flashback is a painful or intense memory; a vivid memory of a traumatic experience that returns repeatedly.)
Do you have nightmares or thoughts frequently in regard to frightening, horrible, or upsetting things?
Have you been exposed to a traumatic event involving a real or actual death threat, a threat to your physical integrity or that of others, or experienced a serious injury that resulted in responses involving intense fear, horror, or helplessness?
Do you often re-experience the traumatic event in one or more of the following patterns: intrusive/recurrent memories; acting/feeling as if the event is still occurring; nightmares; intense psychological or physical distress once exposed to cues (triggers) that associate with the traumatic event?
Are you constantly watchful, on guard, or easily startled (extremely vigilant)?
Do you feel detached from others, your surroundings or activities?
Do you frequently have sleepless nights, or insomnia?
Do you persistently avoid stimuli associated with a traumatic event, or experience general emotional numbness?
Do you experience extreme reactions to images or sounds that remind you of a traumatic event?
Do you have persistent symptoms that increase arousal responses that were not there before a traumatic event? Persistent symptoms may include sleep interruptions, irritability, outbursts of anger, excessive vigilance, exaggerated startle-response, or difficulty concentrating.
Have the symptoms lasted for more than one month and caused significant disruption in your life, including significant distress or impaired functioning?
Do you experience night sweats often? (Note: not everyone with PTSD experiences night-sweats.)
Do you often avoid the things that remind you of the past traumatic event?
Have you experienced memory loss, or amnesia because of seeing something that reminded you of the past event?
Do you often feel emotionally numb, emotionally responsiveness, or feel deadening emotions after being triggered back to the past event?
Are you easily startled by noise?
Do you feel depressed?
Do you show a lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed?

In-Patient Psychiatric Abuse Can Be Subtle (and not so)

I will be rewriting this for my new memoir, but wanted to try out the episode here, in part, though I have not yet rewritten it…I have been rereading my many journals that I have retrieved from storage in preparation for really seriously writing this thing, and it was one of the first events recorded that I happened to dip into. It is in a relatively recent journal, but I was reading randomly and I just happened upon it. It very much upset me, as just as I read it, I remembered it very clearly. I had no amnesia, it was only that I have been in so many hospitals in the past 3 decades that I cannot separate out one from another, nor tell what happened where or when.

Subtle abuse? In fact, I don’t know that the episode I relate here is an example of subtle anything. I can only say that at the time I had no idea that it was abusive. I felt that perhaps I deserved it.  I had no idea that it should have been reported, that someone should have defended me, that anyone…Well, you will get the drift upon reading the following brief description of one incident, among the way-too-many that have happened to me over the past 5-10 years in Connecticut hospitals. All I can be sure of is that if hospital staff do these things to me, I am fairly certain that they must do them to others…In which case, that Hartford Courant article in 1998, “Deadly Restraints” which was supposed to have changed everything both in Connecticut and around the country in terms of in-patient treatment of the mentally ill, that article did little to nothing. I would say, in fact, that treatment has gotten markedly worse over the decade. Compared to my treatment in the two decades before this past one, I was never abused as much in the 80s and 90s as I have been since Y2K and 2000.

For once, what I write of here does not involve restraints per se, at least not immediately, but as you will see it involves abuse, physical abuse, just the same. I have transcribed this from my journal from a few years ago. I have edited it, but most of the edits I made were for clarity or to convert partial sentences to full ones, though in a couple of places I had to flesh things out more. But here ’tis, what happened to me at a general hospital I spent a fair amount of time in, in Fairfield County, where my twin lives:

“After a run-in with Karen again, I apologized and we had a decent talk. I took off my coat for once, went to Wendy’s communication group and did okay. Then I was sitting in the alcove talking with Mark about my dread at every anniversary of JFK’s assassination when a hullabaloo started near room 306 at the other end of the hall. It seems a woman was having a heart attack. I immediately felt the floor fall beneath me: I was to blame, my inattentiveness, my raucous, hyena laughter, my evil had killed her!

I knew that I needed to take my 4 o’clock medication for what little it would do, but no one called to announce them or for me to take them. My ears rang, booming! The air was full of blaming and criticizing voices, so maybe I didn’t hear, but I think they just didn’t call me. I rang the intercom buzzer at 6:45 and was told that Jamie, the medication nurse that night, would be back from supper around 7 o’clock. I rang back at 7:05 but he was still gone, so I waited another 15 minutes since no one told me that he had returned.Finally at 7:20 I pushed the intercom button to ask if I was supposed to skip all my 4 o’clock and 6 o’clock medications. They now said Jamie was waiting for me. But why hadn’t he called to let me know he’d gotten back from dinner? Slowly I managed to shuffle up to the medication door again, zipped to the mouth in my coat and balaclava hood, verging on stuckness, only to find there was no Geodon in my cup.

“So I don’t get my 4 PM medications,” I whispered in stunned panic, too afraid to simply ask for it.

“Nope” was Jamie’s only answer.

I was flabbergasted, completely stunned. My second prescribed dose of BID Geodon was what I’d been waiting patiently for ever since the patient in room 306 had her heart attack. After Jamie ignored me, giving me no explanation, I just turned, took my 6pm Ritalin, then dropped the DIxie cup of water and all the other pills on the carpet. In a daze, it took everything in me to start making my way down the hall towards my room again.

Then I heard footsteps pounding up behind me and suddenly Jamie was in front of me, blocking my way. “You’ll go back there and clean up the mess you made right this instant!” he bellowed and pushed me towards the med station. I stared through him, tried to walk away, but he blocked me again and again pushed me backwards until finally I gave in, relaxed and let myself succumb to his pushing. I didn’t walk though, I merely fell backwards to the floor, saved from injury only because he grabbed the front of my coat as I fell, and lowered me to the floor. I curled up in a ball like a porcupine, hoping not to be killed. Well, he was in a rage and forced my hands down, away from my shoulders, and unzipped my coat. Then he ordered me to get up and clean up the mess again — what mess really? A few pills on the floor, and a little water that would dry? I refused. I curled up on my side and closed my eyes, responding to nothing. He threatened me with restraints. At that, I gave up resisting, knowing resistance would give him the excuse he wanted. I let him pull my coat off my limp body. And I remained limp as he carried me to my bedroom where he dumped me coatless on the bed and thundered away. I was triumphant, however. No restraints! I’d figured it out. If you refuse to resist, if you don’t fight back against their power plays, they have no excuse to justify putting you in restraints. They cannot put someone who is completely silent and limp into 4-point restraints. What would be the point?

Nevertheless,  I was cold and felt exposed in only my T-shirt and jeans, and with no coat to protect me, nor others from me. So I got up and grabbed a sweater and started bundling myself into hat and  hooded scarf. Suddenly Jamie barged in again. I backed away and fell onto the bed behind me. In a fury that was unbelievable to me, he leapt onto the bed and pinned me down, knelt so his knees trapped me and I couldn’t move. Then he unbuttoned my sweater and tore it off me, ripped off my hat and scarf, then without a word proceeded to empty the room of any clothing that could possibly cover me, including my shoes.

This was too much to bear. But I said and did nothing in protest. How could I? I had no words, no sense that I had rights of any sort. All I did was huddle against the wall under a blanket and whimper, “I didn’t mean to kill her. I didn’t mean to cause a problem.” Jamie, who had left with all my things, stormed back in and angrily lectured me on how I was guilty of  “just wanting attention!” I wept silently. All I’d wanted that entire afternoon had been my 4:00 pm medication, and to be left alone to deal with repercussions of having killed the  patient in 306. I was too stunned to respond and could only whimper over and over, “didn’t mean to kill her, didn’t mean to cause a problem.” Still furious, but getting nothing from me and spent, Jamie finally left for good.  After a while, I looked around at the nearly empty room, and there on the night table was the pen Lynnie had left behind that afternoon. Jamie had overlooked it in his rampage. I had no energy to get off the floor, and no paper to write on, so I did the only thing I could, and  I began writing on the wall. “I didn’t mean to kill her, didn’t mean to cause a problem,”  I wrote and wrote. I wrote until I physically could not write any longer, I wrote until my hand gave out.

That was not the end of the evening, but it was the end of the interchange with Jamie, RN and it’s all I wanted to go into for tonight as it is getting late, very late and I needs must go to sleep.

Recovery: A New Definition

My comments on this article will follow it. If I can I may highlight points that I particularly wish to discuss.

New Working Definition of ‘Recovery’ from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders

ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2012) — A new working definition of recovery from mental disorders and substance use disorders is being announced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The definition is the product of a year-long effort by SAMHSA and a wide range of partners in the behavioral health care community and other fields to develop a working definition of recovery that captures the essential, common experiences of those recovering from mental disorders and substance use disorders, along with major guiding principles that support the recovery definition. SAMHSA led this effort as part of its Recovery Support Strategic Initiative.

The new working definition of Recovery from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders is as follows: A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

“Over the years it has become increasingly apparent that a practical, comprehensive working definition of recovery would enable policy makers, providers, and others to better design, deliver, and measure integrated and holistic services to those in need,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde. “By working with all elements of the behavioral health community and others to develop this definition, I believe SAMHSA has achieved a significant milestone in promoting greater public awareness and appreciation for the importance of recovery, and widespread support for the services that can make it a reality for millions of Americans.”

A major step in addressing this need occurred in August 2010 when SAMHSA convened a meeting of behavioral health leaders, consisting of mental health consumers and individuals in addiction recovery. Together these members of the behavioral health care community developed a draft definition and principles of recovery to reflect common elements of the recovery experience for those with mental disorders and/or substance use disorders.

In the months that have followed, SAMHSA worked with the behavioral health care community and other interested parties in reviewing drafts of the working recovery definition and principles with stakeholders at meetings, conferences, and other venues. In August 2011, SAMHSA posted the working definition and principles that resulted from this process on the SAMHSA blog and invited comments from the public via SAMHSA Feedback Forums. The blog post received 259 comments, and the forums had over 1000 participants, nearly 500 ideas, and over 1,200 comments on the ideas. Many of the comments received have been incorporated into the current working definition and principles.

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has also delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

* Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way;

* Home: a stable and safe place to live;

* Purpose: meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society; and

* Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Guiding Principles of Recovery

Recovery emerges from hope: The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future — that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.

Recovery is person-driven: Self-determination and self-direction are the foundations for recovery as individuals define their own life goals and design their unique path(s).

Recovery occurs via many pathways: Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds, including trauma experiences that affect and determine their pathway(s) to recovery. Abstinence is the safest approach for those with substance use disorders.

Recovery is holistic: Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.

Recovery is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid groups, including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in recovery.

Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks: An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.

Recovery is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all of its diverse representations, including values, traditions, and beliefs, are keys in determining a person’s journey and unique pathway to recovery.

Recovery is supported by addressing trauma: Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical and emotional) and trust, as well as promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration.

Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility: Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.

Recovery is based on respect: Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and substance use problems — including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination — are crucial in achieving recovery.


At first, I admit, I read the basic definition of recovery and was unimpressed, in fact massively under-whelmed. All I could think was: “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential” pretty much describes how anyone should live life. What is so unique and different, I wondered, that this should say anything about recovery from mental illness or substance abuse or that we should care about it? I almost threw up my hands and neglected to finish the article, which would have been a pity as it was worth reading, even if some of the conclusions were a little “pie in the sky,” given the economy and current attitudes towards “entitlements” and public services.


Health, Home, Purpose, Community. Four essential supports for anyone who is attempting to sustain recovery. But as the red words make obvious, it is hard to have a safe and secure home when you don’t have a job, and it is impossible to find a job when you have never worked before and are only just now entering the workforce years late, even as so many others, vastly more experienced, are being laid off.  So without those, independence, income and resources go out the window, and with them often go the hope that things can change. Surely if this is often the case for “normal” people, we should expect it also for those with substance abuse problems or mental illness.


Poverty is draining, mentally, physically and spiritually. And it does not foster recovery. But it is a fact of life for many of those with addiction problems and/or mental illnesses. As so many researchers, sociologists and psychologists know, raising oneself from poverty, even in good times is difficult. In hard times such as these, unless you happen to be lucky enough to have a family with resources (in which case you are not truly poverty-stricken) or to reside in safe subsidized housing with enough foodstamps to live on, you are out of luck. How can anyone expect recovery to blossom in such circumstances as hunger and homelessness, not to mention a lack of medical care and medications…But I agree, if health and home can be obtained, then purpose and community can be sought, and the four are indeed recovery’s under-structure; without any or all of them, a person’s stability is easily undermined.


I really liked the guiding principles of recovery, though. Hope is the sine qua non of recovery. If you do not believe that you can get better, do something, feel better, then you will never get there. It once helped me, I thought, that others had hope for me, kept hope alive when i had no hope. And perhaps it did. Because it kept me alive, at a minimum. But it did not help me recover. It was only when I started to feel some hope of my own that recovery began to be possible. In fact, I believe it was only when I began to take up art, teach myself something new, and discovered a brand new interest, talent and passion, that suddenly something opened up in me, in my brain and heart and soul, and hope sprang forth. I had a purpose. I had a purpose, for the first time in decades. I had always had writing, but somehow this was different. For a long time I wasn’t sure why. Then it occurred to me: even if I was only drawing at a table, it was physically active, which meant that it woke me up rather than being dependent on my being sedentary and staying alert. That was the first joyous thing about art: it stimulated me, it kept me awake rather than by its sedentary nature putting me to sleep. I loved writing, never get me wrong on that, I used to love reading when I could attend to books, but because of narcolepsy it was so terribly discouraging that whenever I sat down to write or read I had to battle daily the demon of drowsiness. No matter what I did. Nothing ever helped for long, not even Ritalin. Not, exercise, not diet, not sleeping at night, not, well, nothing. I found Zyprexa such a miracle drug, one that helped me attend and read, but that, that was so sedating in and of itself, that without mega doses of Ritalin, I could barely stay awake to read a few pages.


Somehow, though, art found me, and with it hope was  roused. Simple as that.


Or maybe not so simple. First of all, I had to give myself permission to do art. I had to say, it is okay if I don’t write all the time, art is “just as good” as writing, even if my father looks down on it. Many people think art is even better than writing! And I do not have to live to please my father, god knows, though his capacity for devastating judgment is ever mauling my shoulders like a great lion. But what he likes and values, are not absolutes, they are opinions not morals. He is not god, God knows, and I do not need to listen to or absorb what he tries to get me to take in, subliminally or explicitly.


As the next Recovery Principle implies, recovery comes from within, is person-driven, so I had to tell myself that no one could tell me how to do my life but me, and if art kept me alive and awake, so be it. Maybe it wouldn’t be his choice, but so what. It wasn’t his life either, was it?


Recovery cannot be coerced or compelled, only determined by the individual. I would add that treatment too ought to be person-driven, person-determined. That treatment, in-hospital or out-patient should NEVER be coercive  but person-centered and self-determined. Why? For the same reason in both cases: It works best that way. Coercion never works; it may appear to but it only breeds trauma and ill will and resentment. It doesn’t foster either health or recovery. Period


However, that Recovery is holistic? While I agree, I had to laugh at the following: “The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.” I dunno about the “array of services and supports” in your state, but around here there ain’t no such thing…I mean, there are very basic services, like Foodshare and the Food Pantry and hospital inpatient units. But aside from that, and the visiting nurse service that provides/assures medication administration and that grows more precarious every month, I dunno about anything that counts as an “array of services and supports” in this state. I  do for myself because sure as shooting the state isn’t going to provide it. Array of services and supports, my eye! You get an appointment for medication every 3 months, in a clinic, and that’s it. And as for integrated and coordinated? What a joke. Who is going to do that? That is like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid setting new strict regs for seclusion and restraints, and making accreditation of hospitals dependent upon their proper use, and then when it comes time for their yearly review, the psychiatry service isn’t counted or even looked at. Anyhow, I am digressing more and more as I go, I apologize.


Finally, as you know if you have followed my blog, I have had many words to say about traumatic experiences, so I am appreciative of these principles taking the role of trauma into account. If I may read between the lives, since they are talking about “services and supports” being “trauma-informed” perhaps they do mean to  speak to the seclusion and restraint issue, as well as the fact that many people have been traumatized and should not be coerced or re-traumatized by treatment. The final passage about respect, however, says it all. No one would have to say a word to anyone providing services and supports about being trauma-informed, if only those needing treatment for substance issues or mental illness had always been treated with respect and dignity.


My apologies for the ineloquence of my writing today. I am coming down with a cold and am not writing up to par. Perhaps the next time I will be back to my usual self.

Psychiatry and Abuse: restraint chair in hospital?

They restrain prisoners in this dangerous chair
Perople have died in this restraint chair -- in Guantanamo, yet they made me sit in one in Manchester Hospital in Connecticut, 2009

Some memories are returning. Not a great many but this one was triggered by something I heard briefly on television the other day, simply the mention  in some other context, of the words “restraint chair” and in an instant I flashed back (and I use those two words advisedly, since I do not actually know what is meant by a “flashback”) on something that happened when I was a priso…excuse me, patient, albeit involuntary, at Manchester Hospital in the fall of 2009.

This had been an extremely brutal stay up till then. When I was admitted the psychiatrist I was assigned to Dr BZ — I have written of this elsewhere so I won’t recap the whole thing, as memory is fickle and I may have misremembered it by now — stopped most or all of my meds, saying that if I was there, clearly they didn’t work. Then he swore I would take the one drug I refused to take: Zyprexa, and he scheduled a forced medication hearing, which naturally I would lose, having no power and only my word against his as to whether or not I needed it. Well, I did lose it, but inexplicably, and sadistically, instead of forcing on me a drug that by all accounts helped me, he changed this to TRILAFON, an old drug that did nothing for me and only made me completely miserable.

The upshot was that every time they came to me with medications, I flatly refused to take the Trilafon, even under the threat of a Haldol injection, The goon squad was called, and since I refused to quietly accept my punishment, they assaulted me, stripped me, and  forcibly injected me. This got to the point that they started four point restraining me to the bed, just to inject me…And it because such a routine that to avoid the “tiresome process” of getting out the restraints they simply left them attached to my bed. I know this not because i remember it but because my friend Josephine told me she saw them.

Me? I was so snowed by Haldol most of the time, that I could never even find my room, and had a sign in large letters taped to the door so I would simply recognize it when and if I managed to find it. Also, I was so dazed that I had to wear red slipper socks as a fall risk…but no one ever decided that maybe this was due to the drugs they were giving me!

Anyhow, one day, one day…and here is where memory kicked in after hearing those awful words on TV: one day the nurse who was most in charge of the daily torment, came to the door with another nurse pushing this large chair, and i recognized what it was at once. I had seen them before, having reviewed a book a long time before for the LA Weekly on the treatment of the mentally ill both in hospitals and prisons, a book, moreover decrying “barbaric treatments” of the past.

“You aren’t going to put me in that, are you? I’m not coming anywhere near it!” I shrank away from them and ran to the other side of my bed.

“We won’t restrain you, not  if you behave. But we want you to sit in it for today. There are no restraints on it now. It is just a comfortable chair. Come, sit down. The student nurse will be with you all day today.”

Then they essentially forced me to sit down and stay in the chair. Or else…I was terrified. and the student nurse knew it. Luckily, she would turn out to be a kind and wonderful young woman (her experience at Manchester almost drove her away from psych nursing, but  as it turned out she discovered Natchaug Hospital, and became one of their most beloved nurses). As she told me later — because memory mostly fails me here, but for her reminders — she did Reiki with me, the practice of nearly touching a person but not quite, and moving her hands along my body, not sure how it works or worked, but she later told me, at Natchaug, that I responded well to it, and stayed calm all day. I even as she said, took my meds. Which means I actually swallowed the Trilafon, probably because I couldn’t bear to have another fight in front of her.

Whatever was the case, if Reiki is as I described it, no wonder I responded well, as it was a NON-physical therapeutic way of dealing with me, non-assaultive, gentle, non-trespassing and non-brutal. Why the rest of them could not have followed suit or come up with some other way to treat me as she did, I will never know. Clearly they learned nothing from her; she left and likely they are back to treating others as they did me.

I believe they would indeed have used that chair as a restraint chair on me. I do not think they brought it in just as a comfortable chair, I believe it was to intimidate me, to cow me, but I think too that they were in fact prepared to use it. I do not have the slightest doubt. I would put nothing past those people who so brutalized me as to put me in four point restraints over and over during more than 8 days. For all I know it might have been more than eight days. I simply do NOT know, as amnesia has sealed up much more than memory preserved.

Enough for now. I need to write tomorrow about the Versatile Blogger Award that DogKisses gave to me. I am shamefully late in thanking her. And I do not know how to place the badge on my site, but she was such a lovely blogger to do so, that I do owe her her own post of thanks and appreciation.

More tomorrow.