Category Archives: Mental Illness

Open letter to Elizabeth Warren

Sept 4, 2019

Dear Senator Warren,

I just watched your town hall appearance focussed on climate change, and even though I have been rooting for you and contributing to your campaign ever since you entered the race, I was thrilled to hear you mention both science, your faith in it, and the morass of corruption that characterizes everything in Washington DC. 

I know you don’t have a lot of time to read emails, if indeed you read this one, so I will get right to the point.

There is only one group of law-abiding American citizens who can be and regularly are deprived of their civil rights in this country, with utter impunity, and that is the group of us who have been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar conditions. On the word of a psychiatrist or even in some cases just a masters-degree-carrying “counselor” we can be deprived of our freedom, institutionalized and forcibly drugged for months, even years at a time. Why? Because someone else believes we might be dangerous, even though in fact future violence is notoriously hard to predict, even some will admit impossible to predict.

 No one who has committed a crime is kept in prison because of possible future violence, no, what prisons are for, whether you agree with this or not, and I think it is shameful, is to punish, by applying violence to those who HAVE committed a crime.  But many, even most of us who have been forcibly hospitalized and drugged have never been violent towards any other person, period. Look at the statistics if you have not already. As those predict, i have been the victim of a violent crime, but never have I been charged with a single incidence of lawbreaking…

Senator, the thing is, if you believe in science, and in rooting out corruption, look at what is going on in psychiatry, and don’t just get the word of psychiatrists, or people who run the so-called mental health system. They either do no know or do not care about the extreme damage the drugs they force on us have done and are doing. They are either completely in cahoots with big Pharma, or they too believe the lies they taught us, that schizophrenia and bipolar conditions are real disease entities, chemical imbalances that such drugs ameliorate if they do not actually amend them. As you may learn, psychiatrists now claim they never said this, that we patients “made them say it.” But this is a lie, and the chemical imbalance lie is still being used on us and the general public.

Psychiatrists as a group do know the truth of what Thomas Insel, former head of NIMH, wrote just a few years ago, that they spent over 20 BILLION dollars in their effort to prove that these things are real neurochemical imbalances, with neuro-anatomic foundations, and in Insel’s words, they “have not moved the needle” on discovering either the cause or any effective treatment. 

And yet medication, drugs, are the ONLY treatment that hospitals offer Involuntary patients. In fact, if you are a willingly hospitalized patient, even then such drugs — which shorten the average lifespan by as much as 25 years — are de facto the only treatment. Sure there are “groups” but those who run them will tell you they are just to keep people busy, and are not intended to do anything else.

I am not one of the lucky wealthy people who have been treated voluntarily in posh private  hospitals. No, i have been beaten up and tied to a bed too many times to count, which is also involuntary treatment, in public and municipal hospitals, the only ones who took my Medicare and Medicaid, so I know where of I speak…

I could say so much more about this. I am a former medical student, and now an author and artist who was diagnosed and treated, in hospitals and out, for schizophrenia for decades.

The drug companies and psychiatrists lie when they say the drugs work. They do NOT lie when they say that is all they have…indeed it is! But is this right, to lock us up in hospitals because we are different and people claim we might be dangerous for being different? To drug us for life on compounds that drastically curtail our lifespans, and rarely increase our happiness, or our productivity as citizens? No, please see that a resounding NO is the only answer. 

And keep us in mind when you become our next president.

Sincerely,

Phoebe Sparrow Wagner

 

Demons of Power and Sadness

I continue to be assailed by the same demons as usual, of which i will not speak except to say that it is an effort more often than anyone knows not to walk out of here and away into the cold of night, that  indeed i feel deeply (and am told by voices much more powerful than they should be) that i should disappear for the good of all. If I seem strong and resilient it is only my fear of death and a rage that so many want me to die nonetheless, but i feel a terrible resulting sadness that i can’t find it in me to comply completely…In fact, whatever life throws at you, one either survives or dies. But no one can possibly understand how much anguish such a conflict causes me daily, minutely, even by the second, even when I appear at my most cheerful.

I give you Rachel Platten’s lyrics, because I like the song, and sing along with it, though I do not in  fact believe that I have any right to believe in them for myself.

RACHEL PLATTEN

Fight Song Lyrics

Like a small boat

On the ocean

Sending big waves Into motion

Just like how a single word

Can make a heart open

I might only have one match

But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say

Wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight

Can you hear my voice this time

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m alright song

My power’s turned on

(Starting right now) I’ll be strong

I’ll play my fight song

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep

Everybody’s worried about me

In too deep

Say I’m in too deep (I’m in too deep)

And it’s been two years

I miss my home

But there’s a fire burning in my bones

And I still believe

Yeah I still believe

And all those things I didn’t say

Wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight

Can you hear my voice this time

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m alright song

My power’s turned on

(Starting right now) I’ll be strong

I’ll play my fight song

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

A lot of fight left in me

Like a small boat

On the ocean

Sending big waves

Into motion

Like how a single word

Can make a heart open

I might only have one match

But I can make an explosion

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m alright song

My power’s turned on

(Starting right now) I’ll be strong

I’ll play my fight song

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Now I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

SONGWRITERS

Bassett, Dave / Platten, Rachel

PUBLISHED BY

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Tortured and Thrown into the Hole. A nd Why I tell you: DO NOT APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY PAYMENT

Ankle swollen and discolored from hours in 4-point punitive restraints the night before discharge/escape
Ankle swollen and discolored from hours in 4-point punitive restraints the night before discharge/escape

IMG_0002IMG_0004

The above is are just some bruises of many I received during my month-long course of “psychiatric treatment” at the Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, on the unit called Donnelly 2 South in January through Feb 2013. In  Connecticut, the Institute of Living, first known as the Retreat, and once quite famous as a posh sanatarium for the rich and famous though this is no longer true, was first made famous by  Clifford Beers, I believe, who wrote about similiar torture he underwent there just a hundred years ago in the book, A Mind That Found itself.
 (I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS WAS FROM 2013)

After burning my face with cigars and cigarettes, in response to command hallucinations, I spent the last month in Connecticut’s well-known Institute of Living (yeah the dangerous 6th month was JANUARY not February but nobody thought to check my math) being beaten up and trussed like a pig in four-point restraints almost daily for many many hours. Why did they deal me this sort of treatment? Why? Because “You do not follow directions”.

I DID NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS so they beat me up (despite my policy of non-resistance) and tied me, shackled me with leather and metal cuffs  to a bed for dozens upon dozens of hours.! Time after time I had to defecate in my own clothing, because they would not even give me bathroom breaks.  Get that? I was disobedient, so they shackled me to a bed as an excuse for treatment!

After this experience, I LOST ALL FAITH in the ability of any institution to do anyone any good who has a mental illness or sickness of the mind, or any emotional disorder or whatever you wish to call it. I GIVE UP! I will kill myself if anyone ever tries to send me back to such a cesspit of a place. I do not care if it is appointed like the Taj Mahal. NO ONE who works there is uncontaminated by the evil infecting such places. I may be the devil but I never wanted to be evil while they are ALL EVIL EVERY SINGLE ONE. I have NEVER been to a hospital where the people are kind and well meaning and where the treatment is actually kind and decent. Once in a while a single person, such as the Middlesex Hospital occupational therapist  Christobelle Payne, may stand out in memory as being a rare human being of warmth and dignity and  caring, but otherwise, they all to a one fail the test of being decent human specimens and all fail royally to be even normally humanly responsive to suffering persons. They are in it for the money and a cushy job, and don’t you forget it if you go into a psycho hospital, DO not expect to get well there. Expect deadening dulling drugs that never worked and the research tells so, and directions (ie ORDERS) that you HAVE To follow or ELSE.

Get out of there as quickly as possible, because your life depends on it. I am serious. DO NOT LINGER expecting care and treatment or to feel better no matter how helpful you might want it to be.

Furthermore. if you are a young person, do not listen to the sweet seductive advice that some may give you that you woul do well to go for “disability” and social security payments. THAT Is a load of total crapola and the worst thing anyone could tell anyone under the age of 40. Too many young people are being 1) told as children that they have Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADHD, both of which are adults’ and psychiatrists’ ways of saying, “You don’t as we tell you to huh? Okay, then, we will label you mentally ill in retaliation!” But that is not the worst because they then “medicate” you young children or adolescents with Ritalin or SSRIs and if those cause the anticipated problems of irritability and anger management problems, and outburts and moodswings (!!!), then “add on” atypical antipsychotic drugs (and who would not think to themselves, in momentary awe and self-pity, “OOOh, I must really be Mentally Ill if I take an ANTI-PSYCHOTIC drug, right???”)

The thing is, they will justify these drugs with another label, a label imposed because you now have an IATROGENIC or doctor-induced, medication-caused illness,  like some version of “bipolar”, or if they really dislike you, the untreatable Borderline Personality Disorder, which only means largely that you are youngish, female and emotional and angry and don’t shut up when they want you do. (Test: Do they want you in DBT classes? Then you have the BPD diagnosis, trust me. Dialectical behavioral therapy is FOR “borderlines” no matter how hard they argue that it is open all…)

NEITHER of these labels reflect your or anyone else’s REALITY, mind you, they are ONLY labels, and neither Bipolar nor borderline have ever ever been shown to be real bona fide physiological illnesses or even (for all the talk) genetic diseases. What is a “real mental illness” anyway? No one agrees on the diagnosis, in any one person, and no one can find any chemical test or neurotransmitter than it out of balance or even an anatomic difference between the ill and the well. They only have the person’s words and the doctors opinions… If you disagree, prove what you what to argue. Do not tell me, well Manic depression “runs in the family” because that is horseshit. Messiness and not making beds can seem to run in a family, you know why? Because NO ONE breaks the cycle and teaches the kids the value of neatness and making beds every morning. It matter where and how and WITH whom you grow up, and the myths you grow up with matter just as much. The notion that  Manic-depression runs in your family is only that. A MYTH. but that doesn’t mean you cannot induce it or see it and make it real in your kids or yourself if you try hard enough.Lord knows teenaged angst these days is frequently dx’d as bipolar so jump on that bandwagon by bringing your child to a psychiatrist and they will be happy to oblige!

But do not think that your label of “Borderline” is something elevated and “nearly psychotic” as if that itself is anything superior to other MIs. Trust me, when someone else calls you Borderline it is shorthand for MANIPULATIVE, DRAMATIC, attention-seeking, devious, lying…if you like those words, go ahead and claim the diagnosis for yourself, but i doubt you will. So why do you vaunt it, and flaunt it? Do you not understand that the hospital and therapists actually hate your guts? Get a hold of your chart and READ IT. it is YOUR right and it might open your eyes to what those people REALLY think of you…It won’t be pretty or nice at all, but it will be instructive, and maybe you won’t want to be Mentally Ill with Borderline Personality Disorder any longer, hey?

Another few words as to young people going for social Security Diabilty: Someone asked me about this and my response is unequivocal. It is the very same trap that Welfare was for young mothers with too many children years ago…It had positives to it, but it ended up trapping many and many generations in poverty of the most extreme sport for, well, generations. Speaking just for myself, IF anyone had had the time to find out where my talents lay, in art and writing, and had been able to provide the community and home supports for me that I truly needed, rather than funding my rent and hospital stays largely, plus a visiting nurses visit to bring me medications. I might have blossomed and never ended up recurrently in the hospital for decades. I mean this from the depths of my broken heart. I was always an extraordinarily talented and intelligent person, and everyone knew it. At the same time, I had very real problems. But no one ever said, LET’S NOT FOCUS ON YOUR PROBLEMS. LET’S SEE HOW FAR YOUR STRENGTHS CAN TAKE YOU!

You know, I still cannot socialize  or be away from home for long, and I cannot tolerate any 4- hour work day, far less an 8-hour work day…I do not have ordinary or “normal” stamina in any fashion. Narcolepsy is partly to blame and probably the mental issues and whatever else is at fault, I cannot say. But an extreme lack of stamina that eating well and exercise daily does nothing to help is a FACT of my existence. Nevertheless, I do not believe that I had to stay on Disability and “relief” all my life and be a leech on society…No, i just had no one from the ADA or any social services (god forbid a family member or friend) looking at my individual needs and assessing what I could do to earn a living and helping me, in deep and truly helpful way.,..I believe that my life might have been very different and more productive had the AMERICAN system not dumped me onto antipsychotic drugs and social security and essentially thrown me away…

But it will do it to you too, and you are assenting to it, if you go for disability at at young age. DO NOT DO IT. You will NEVER get free from those checks. NO ONE EVER DOES, unless they marry or get rich some other way…It is the worse decision you will ever make. I know that some living situations demand a check for rent, but don’t assent to their demands, make a radical decision to take charge of your own life, CHALLENGE the psychiatrist’s diagnosis. How long have they known you for anyhow???? Challenge the pills, or at least the dosage. DO YOU FUNCTION BETTER NOW???? that is the only question that matters. If not, the pills do not help. PERIOD.  NEVER take any pill on  a “For the rest of my life basis!”

Oh, I am so angry and broken at the moment that I cannot speak more. But if I can later on, I will say more to explain. At the moment, I have to attend to too many PHYSICAL bruises and to find a way back to sanity on my own, having  been driven to the brink of near extinction by one of the best known hospitals in this state. At the moment I am both rigid with rage and so confused and broken that I scarcely know how to continue, or whether I even want to. Why bother? Why bother? How can people be such  monsters, and in such monstrously powerful places and ways. I hurt so deeply and feel I will never trust an single person ever again when they say, “Come let us help you. You need our help.”  YOUR help? Like being raped, I need your F—ing help!

GO jump in a lake of snot is what I should say to all of you so called helpers. I’d rather die. Go F— yourself.

Reaching Out…Will I get past this?

GUILTY AS CHARGED!
GUILTY AS CHARGED!

All I want to say is that someone connected to me died on Saturday and I have reason to believe it was suicide.  This is what I wrote to four people:
“The assistant building manager —– died — i am certain it was suicide — Saturday…i feel to blame, to blame, to blame. It is not that i knew or could have helped her, no, i feel like i caused her to kill herself. I’m shaking in –what? — terror, something! Even the music on Pandora is blaming me. What have i done?”

For hours there was no reply. I located two cigars in the bottom of an old purse, knowing what I had to do…I planned to place this photo:

Fire to Set something or someone alight...Me?
Fire to Set something or someone alight…Me?

and let fate determine the consequences, both what eventuated in terms of the voices and what happened after that. All I knew is that even Pandora “radio” is blaming me for the death — suicide as  I suspect — and I do not know what to do. I have already been responsible for two suicides of friends. How can I take this again>???

Then my shrink brother wrote me back, after I thought he was long ago in bed and asleep. I quote him in part: “you feel guilty for taking care of yourself. I hope that makes sense. I know it applies to me, so I’m not just saying it. Let it go. You had nothing to do
with her death. It’s sad, if it indeed was suicide, but just leave it at
that. I do think it’s more than symbolic that the person you’re guilty about was the manager of the building you hope to leave for good soon.”

Then he suggested that I take an Ativan (for a change?) and go to sleep. I wasn’t going to, I was going to do something that was ordered of me, and which I felt was essential. But I feel a little less alone, and feel as if I can hang on another night. At least he didn’t get angry and tell me I am not his “top priority”…as if I needed that rammed down my throat ever or again.

I may not make it all night, but if I can sleep it would help a lot. I barely slept last night at all and all these songs on the Bruno Mars’ station are getting to me. I am crying because of how bad I feel…

Will I get through the night? Only the future can tell. I will take the Ativan, against my better judgement, and I already took the half that I refused of Geodon, much against my judgement because otherwise I would be blamed for everything  that happens from now on. I do not need the Geodon, but I know what the nurse will say if I refuse it. Until I get to Vermont and then I am free to do what I choose, and if that means — well, I won’t go there right now.

Thank you for listening, if anyone out there really is — either there or listening.

This is what the voices really instructed me to do...
This is what the voices really instructed me to do…

P

Solitary Confinement is Torture and You, Michael E. Balkunas, MD, Can Go Fork Yourself!

This is from the New York Times today:

To the Editor:

Re “When Cell Door Opens, Tough Tactics and Risk” (“Locked In” series, front page, July 29):

The events leading to Charles Jason Toll’s death highlight the dangers of prison procedures, especially for vulnerable inmates who suffer from mental illness. Particularly concerning is Mr. Toll’s solitary confinement, a disciplinary technique repeatedly identified as ineffective and counterproductive, and even as torture.

The Justice Department has found that solitary confinement of mentally ill people violates their rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Solitary confinement worsens psychological symptoms and can trigger outbursts tied to the person’s feelings of hopelessness and loss of a sense of self through extreme social isolation and sensory deprivation.

Providing mentally ill people with appropriate and compassionate mental health care, including integration of psychiatric, psychological and psychoanalytically oriented treatments, is crucial in restoring a person’s identity, alleviating feelings of loss and distress and reducing violence.

Mr. Toll’s solitary confinement, suffering and death were avoidable, and again show that the mentally ill are more likely victims of violence, not the perpetrators.

SUSAN McNAMARA
Middletown, Conn., July 30, 2014

The writer is a psychiatrist.

_____________________________

When I was a patient in May and June 2014 at New Britain’s Hospital of Central Connecticut, Dr Michael Edward Balkunas regularly imprisoned me in a horrific seclusion cell, without a single amenity but a concrete built-in bed and rubberized mattress, for nothing more than making too much noise for the approved hospital milieu. In fact, several nurses took it upon themselves, with Dr Balkunas approval, to do the same. This became literally routine. I was NOT, as is required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, in IMMINENT danger of causing severe harm to myself or others. No, I was loud, disruptive and uncooperative, and I was rude. Period.

My first reaction when the double doors locked behind me was immediately to start screaming, at the top of my lungs, from the base of my lungs. But screaming brought no one. Okay, they did soon come in at me with three IM injections, but they came back every time with IM injections anyway, because as I took to calling it, these were part of the drill, they were “punishment injections.” I was pushed onto my stomach and shoved into the mattress so I couldn’t breathe and injected whether I liked it or not. I tried to say, “STOP! I will take the injections, just don’t hold me down.”

But sometimes they didn’t listen to me, and held me down anyway, and I got scared that they would kill me, because it didn’t matter that I didn’t struggle. There were four of them to the one of me, and they expected me to fight and so they forced my face into the mattress and held me tight, hard, and with all their weight….until I felt my breath go out of me. Did they have any idea that I was NOT struggling, that I felt I was going to die? Did they have any idea that they were killing me?

I don’t know. I don’t know. All I know is that I felt in mortal danger when they wouldn’t let me just accept the injections on my own, in my arm, but insisted on giving them to me by force in the buttocks, even when I said I would take them voluntarily.

Then they would leave and lock the double doors. And I would scream, and NO ONE would respond, even though I eventually learned that they could not only hear me through the intercom hidden somewhere in the ceiling, they could also talk to me. They wouldn’t but they could have. When screaming brought no one, I would strip and urinate on the floor, and I would defecate too as much as i could, and smear everything on the walls and floor. I would even eat it and paint it on my body. I didn’t care, I DIDN’T CARE! I just wanted someone to come in and help me.

Several times I washed and colored my hair with urine, thoroughly. But no one came back for hours. The urine, which completely soaked my hair, had time to dry completely. Not that they cared or noticed. If they had, they said nothing. It was nothing to them. Only Barbara RN asked me what was in my hair, and insisted that she wash it out when finally they released me. I went with her to the shower-tub room and allowed her to do so, but only one other person was kind enough to notice and do that. Everyone else just released me and expected me to somehow be reformed and “better” after my hours of punishment.

Of course that wasn’t the case. I got worse, much worse. I started defecating in my bedroom, at any hour,for any reason, any time I was frustrated or angry. They decided I had “borderline personality disorder,” that I was simply manipulating them. They failed to see that they had traumatized and broken me. They failed to see their continuing role in my behaviors…which were getting worse and worse the more they punished me. Every time they secluded me, or four-pointed me, I regressed more.

Dr Balkunas actually decided to commit me to the State Hospital claiming it would help me “get better.” But really he was just in punishment mode. You could tell, because he wasn’t using any of the methods that you are supposed to use for REAL borderline patients….If he really believed I was BPD he wouldn’t have kept at it. But he knew from my brother, a psychiatrist too, and my own psychiatrist, that I do not have BPD, so that was bogus and just an excuse to torture me. He didn’t really think I had BPD. He just needed an excuse to use solitary confinement and he knew that schizophrenia was NOT a good reason. A very BAD reason in fact, so he invented a secondary diagnosis to use. But the thing is, there are other therapies you are supposed to use in BPD, and he never bothered to treat me with anything but punishment and then threw up his hands and said, Well, the antipsychotic drugs take time to work, so you will go to the SH until they do.

Bastard! He gave up on me without even trying to help…so-called saintly doctor. Just a bastard! Because torture doesn’t work to make me better, he decides that I am the one at fault????? Well GO FUCK HIM UP THE ASS WITH A BROKEN GLASS JAR!

Original Art: How NOT to Treat Schizophrenia: with sound

 

Trying again…

Still not playable on ipads or iphones, not sure why.  I think the sound will work. for what its worth…

Youtube video with sound available for all devices here:

Donna’s Story and More Art

P1020796-001

 

This picture is Tim’s sister in law, Dawn, whom I drew at Christmas, in 2012. It took me about an hour. The elephant below is remarkable only in that it is my first painting, in oils, that I have ever done. And for that matter, almost literally the first time I have painted anything, except for a few portraits. I usually draw, in pencil or oil pastel. I have painted some acrylic portraits, in the past, but none recently, as I told myself I’d better learn to draw a few years back  “before I go any further with painting.” I never ever did anything with oils at all. So if I achieved any success with the elephant it was completely by chance. I find oils very difficult. I do not know how to work with them, nor how to manipulate a brush or the colors, or how to do anything at all with paint. So this is an interesting journey, and transition, if transition it be. I do not know what will happen. Whether I will switch to oils completely, or simply use them desultorily…We will see. I am now working on another elephant painting, just for practice. Both of them started with the use of oil pigment sticks, which enable a sort-of drawing technique, very bluntly, and ended forcing me to paint, using either my fingers or real brushes. So it seems I am being led willy nilly to the brush and paint pot!

 

IMG_0015

 

 

This last picture started as a doodle that I did of another patient at the Institute this winter, but I liked it so much (and the patient hated it!) that I finished it by changing her to make her unrecognizable. I would have given it to her otherwise, but she didn’t want it, so I said nothing more. But I gave it to my friend Bill, who loved it. In the mean time, I figured I would finish it as I wanted to and did. I love it myself, and would gladly have kept it, had no one else expressed interest in it. But once I knew Bill loved it, well, I knew I wanted him to have it. And it meant I took extra care finishing it when I did. I never really knew much about this patient’s story, nor about anyone else there. Nor did they learn much about me. I do not believe they ever knew what the staff was doing to me that last ten days, when they kept putting me into four point restraints. That was the point: I was in seclusion so no one had any idea I even existed by that time. No wonder I ended by screaming non stop and blood curdlingly that last night when they restrained me the second time for no reason. Everyone who had known of me had left by then. All the patients were new, and no one even knew I was there. I was aware of it, and I knew that if I didn’t scream, they would simply four point me for another 8-10 hours and get away with it…Well, enough of that. This patient did not mind my drawing her, for the few hours that I was allowed to be in the general population. In fact, I think she was flattered that I wanted to. Unfortunately, she was not pleased by the results of my efforts when she saw the drawing…and made her feelings clear when she saw the drawing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

 

___________________________

One of my loyal blog readers, Donna, wrote a long comment the other day, and I asked if I could post it on the blog proper, as I felt it was important for her story to be heard. She said Yes, and so I am reprinting it here.

 

“I have many personal arguments against taking antipsychotics. First of all, I endured schizophrenia since I was about 10 yrs old without anyone knowing anything about it. Without being diagnosed, that is. Yes, I had been thought of as weird and even retarded by my peers, mostly because of social anxiety and being an extreme introvert that were a result of or in addition to the schizophrenia. But my sanity hung on the fact that I was creative and could physically exercise to the point of exhaustion. I think that exercise (running) was the most potent antipsychotic I have ever experienced, probably due to the release of endorphins and the subjugation of ongoing anxiety for a few hours. The hallucinations never really bothered me because I couldn’t remember being without them. Nevertheless, once doctors knew of the hallucinations, that became their excuse for medicating the hell out of me. And subsequently robbing me of my creativity and the ability to exercise. You can see where this is going.

For one thing there was exercise equipment in the hospitals I began to frequent (after starting on antipsychotics, of course.) but I could not use it without a doctor’s prescription, which was never forthcoming. I guess they didn’t put much stock in exercise. It can’t be patented and marketed and sold as a pharmaceutical. Once I began taking Zyprexa, the option was moot anyway, because I gained so much weight there was no possible way to run anymore.

Although I had schizophrenia, as I said, for many years before diagnosis and treatment, I was always able to read voraciously, retain what I had read, and use that as grist for the mill of creativity. Once I started taking mood stabilizers (which, btw, never stabilized my mood) like Lithium, Depakote, and Tegretol, I began to REALLY suffer mentally. Yes, I could tolerate hallucinations, but what I found intolerable was the side effect of being unable to be intellectually stimulated. I was laid low. I could no longer read and understand the combination of words. I couldn’t sit through a movie because I could no longer process the sensory input — what I saw and heard became separate entities rather than combining seamlessly into a meaningful whole. It was a frightening, assaultive experience. Even music ceased to be soothing. All I wanted to do, and practically all I DID do was to lie in bed just trying to think one clear thought. It couldn’t be done.

After the antidepressant and mood stabilizer failure, ECT was tried. Again, that only made things worse. Then came antipsychotics. The first one I took, Trilafon, was a nightmare. Kind of like what you said, Pam — I then had an inability to tell dreams from reality. The scary kind of hallucinations started, like seeing a gargoyle when I looked in the mirror. And the parade of multiple antipsychotics drifted ineffectually past the window of my consciousness. Finally, when I was given Zyprexa, I “awakened.” Would I have needed awakening if I had never started taking these medications in the first place? I had my doubts. But on Zyprexa, I could read again. I could tolerate movies. I could write creatively. But the weight gain that started with Lithium began to really pile on with Zyrpexa. My weight doubled within a few months. I had always been extremely weight and diet-conscious. With Zyprexa came mind-numbing sedation and a tremendous 24×7 appetite. So I was eating and sleeping, but I was also reading and writing.

Talk about the horns of a dilemma — I could take the medication and regain my ability to think and create but be a slave to the fork, spoon and pillow, or I could stop taking medication and keep my appetite and weight within normal limits and be insane. What I’m wondering now is whether any of this would have been a problem if I had never taken the medications to begin with. I became much more insane after being medicated and stopping the medication. To my way of thinking, medication had stopped the positive symptoms but had made me especially prone to relapse every time I tried to ease back on it. And the hallucinations had never been much of a problem — not nearly the problem of weight gain and intellectual poverty. Zyprexa did at least give me back a portion of my mind. Medication giveth and medication taketh away; blessed be thy name pharmaceuticals.

SInce then, I have tried just about ever atypical on the market, with the exception of Invega, hoping to find the “right” medicaiton. They were all promising at first, but each with an array of intolerable side effects. Anxiety. Hypoglygcemia. Hypothyroidism. Akathisia. Pruritis. Mania. Severe insomnia. And for a long time, I could return (somewhat relieved) to Zyprexa and what had become my standard of recovery — stabilization and the ability to think and sleep again.

Now, however, I refuse to take the previous 40mg of Zyprexa. My psychiatrist seems to believe the higher the dose, the more effective the medication. I have weaned myself down to 2.5mg which is enough to keep me out of the hospital but apparently not enough to keep my appetite so revved up. It does not allow me to lose all this weight, no, but at least I am no longer gaining. I am writing again. And reading. The problem is, this dose of Zyprexa does not solve the problems of anxiety and insomnia, which are pure torture. So I take the minimum dose for several days, then double that for a couple of nights in order to sleep, then back again. I used to just stop taking the Zyprexa completely because the weight gain frustrated me so much. The stigma of mental illness is bad enough without the stigma of obesity. Schizophrenia is bad enough without metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

The real kicker, to me, is that yes I was having problems before I ever started on the psychiatric medication rollercoaster. I had some psychosis, depression, hypomania. I heard voices once in a while. I had a roster of impossible people renting space in my head. But I lived a close-to-normal existence from all outward appearances. I could hold down a stressful job. I managed to keep a marriage together. I was winning regional poetry contests in my spare time. I had my own home. But it was not until I began taking all of these medications that it all went to hell. And now, from what I’ve read and what I have experienced, my body can no longer tolerate being without the medications. Life is worse off of them now than on them. I have to take Zyprexa or go back to the hospital. I have to take it or I may end up living on the streets. I have to take it or risk killing myself. My doctor says oh, but the medication has SAVED you from these horrors. But am I where I am today — on SSDI, unable to work, a slave to my fat-bound body — because of antipsychotics and antidepressants? Or am I able to be independent, sane, and creative again because of them. Or both? Somehow, something doesn’t seem right.

Update: All is well

104_3423

This is the drawing I finally finished that I did at the horrible torture chamber of the Institute of Living. There are all sorts of hidden things in it that you must rotate it to see fully…

Hi Everyone, Sorry to worry Lady Quixote and anyone else. I was in Yale New Haven  Psychiatric Hospital for last several weeks. A much better stay by far of which I have much to say. But I am recuperating for the next few days as I just got home a couple of days ago. Forgive me for being so out of touch, but even making a long distance phone call was nearly impossible from there…Luckily, the staff and doctor treated me and everyone with immense kindness, gentleness and dignity and respect, so I got what I needed, which was some weeks of healing. Praise whatever force of the universe you believe in for that! More to come as soon as I am able to write more and many thanks for all your concern and your patience.

Pam

My Psychiatric Advanced Directive — IGNORED at the Institute of Living at my Expense

These are the first two pages, including a note from the cover page, of my very very detailed Psychiatric Advanced Directive, and I think you will see why what happened at the Institute of Living, the psychiatric section of Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital, NEVER should have happened. Not only did I bring a hard copy of this PAD, but I wore a medical bracelet with a code for a very complete online medical record, with uploaded documented evidence, both of narcolepsy diagnosis and need for medication, proof from longtime outside mental health providers that I do NOT have “borderline personality disorder,” and other such assistive documents…ALL were soon ignored completely in the effort to discipline and punish me “for not following directions” i.e. not getting better fast enough and speaking my mind to the psychiatrist.

__________________

Prominent NOTE on cover page:

Miss Wagner has experienced multiple episodes of severe psychological and physical trauma. She must NOT be subjected to either physical or mechanical restraints or involuntary seclusion at ANY time. The use of either imposes a serious risk of re-traumatizing and injury, leading to regression and severe worsening of symptoms.

Pg 2.

HOW TO INTERVENE IN A CRISIS:

DE-ESCALATION IS ESSENTIAL

  1. 1.    PLEASE REMEMBER: I can calm down if YOU follow these steps and do not threaten me, order me around, or approach me in anger or in fear.
  2. I need one person to talk to. I should be approached calmly, by someone who will speak in a kind and respectful manner, understanding that above all:
  3. I AM SCARED and my anger masks fear. I am not dangerous. I WILL ONLY FIGHT IF YOU ATTACK ME. Please remember that any show of force and people ganging up on me to administer forced medication will be felt as an attack.
  4. I can be persuaded to take oral medication, usually, if this is negotiated with dignity and kindness and not by means of threats.
  5. DO NOT ISSUE ULTIMATUMS you won’t back down from…That will push me into a corner and you too, and will serve nothing but to escalate the crisis.
  6. A calm unthreatening and unthreatened person should ask me calmly and patiently if I can speak in a lower tone of voice, so she can hear me better. Ask me if I can take a deep breath and try breathing techniques that will have flown my head in the moment of crisis.
  7. Should you have a COMFORT room available, you can guide me gently to it but do not close me alone. Make sure I am warm…
  8. ABOVE ALL YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED TO LISTEN TO ME. This is not just a matter of forcing medication. Medication may not even be needed if you hear what is going on and what the problem is.
  9. If you take these simple steps, it is virtually guaranteed that the situation will resolve calmly and without any need to resort to the sorts of violence that would permanently damage and re-traumatize me (or produce secondarily negative behaviors afterwards): seclusion, forcible injections, or mechanical restraints or physical holds.

p 3

STATEMENT TO CAREGIVERS

It is vitally important that you understand that despite a few previous in-hospital assessments, I do not have a personality disorder, borderline or otherwise (you can confirm this with any of my longtime outpatient providers) and that if my behavior seems out of control, it is because I am out of control: I literally do not at the time know what I am doing or why. I am not manipulative or attempting to achieve secondary gain. The fact is I have had tertiary CNS Lyme disease and after positive PCR and Western Blot tests during treatment, I was informed the condition is likely incurable. (Dr ******* of ****** NY, will confirm this.) During the initial illness, my brain developed multiple lesions, visible on MRI, which may predispose me to temporary emotional and behavioral extremes and abnormalities but these are NOT my norm. Anyone who knows me well would confirm this, if you asked them.

You need to understand that I am not always able to communicate the extreme fear I feel, the global paranoia that I experience, but because I feel so threatened and unable to communicate clearly about it I may become very angry at the hospital situation. I am not an angry person. I do have trauma issues, as many people do, which may be exacerbated by being in the hospital.

Please be aware in advance that my “memory in the p.m. for what happened in the a.m.”  is often faulty. That is just how it is. When in crisis, I have little ability to recall from moment to moment what happens. This is why it is essential that I be able to write things down. I have lost many years to this amnesia and if I suffer additional trauma it will only make it worse.

I beg of you, do not make assumptions about me. Do not make assumptions about my state of mind. Do not “put two and two together” in your mind without asking me if the conclusion you have drawn is the correct one. You do not know what is inside my head without asking me.

Ascertain whether the information you have at hand is correct. Too many records and hospital charts have been drawn up (because “patient is not communicating”) on faulty information from earlier charts or information gleaned from others but not from me, and the consequences to my treatment have been devastating. PLEASE CHECK MY INTERACTIVE HEALTH RECORD ONLINE at www. — .com Use code ***** to get access.

 

I have been traumatized by abuse, sexual assault and by brutal treatment in hospitals, from being deliberately choked and given forced ECT to being kept in four-point restraints for several days at a time. So if I experience seclusion or restraints or even that euphemistic obscenity called a “therapeutic hold” it will be devastating and counterproductive. Such treatment invariably leads to increased anger, regression and worsening of symptoms, and my behavior becomes unpredictable afterwards. This is a response to trauma NOT because of any inborn temperamental disorder. I have already outlined a better way to deal with me and help me on page 2.

I KNOW YOU MAY NOT APPROVE OF POLYPHARMACY. But you need to understand that I must take the antipsychotic drug combination: Abilify 15mg with Geodon 160mg, a TWO-Drug regimen. Monotherapy does not work. I have tried many solo drugs over the course of 4 decades – Thorazine, Mellaril, Haldol, Prolixin, Clozaril, Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa and others – ALL monotherapy has failed.

I will not take any drug that induces weight gain. If you force the issue, know that it will be a useless endeavor because I will stop taking it immediately upon leaving the hospital.

Finally, understand that if I am here in the hospital it is for a reason, and I want only one thing: to get better and be out of here as soon as possible. You can traumatize me and worsen my symptoms and keep me here too long, or you can work with me to achieve my goal, which should be the same as yours. I don’t see any other alternative.

 Respectfully,

Pamela S. Wagner

Now, I think that is about as crystal clear as it can be, no? And indeed, Dr Banerjee, my first psychiatrist LOVED it. Said so, and raved about how complete both were, both the PAD and the online medical history which he downloaded, printed out and brought with him to our first consultation. So what happened? YOU tell me! I will write more about what I think happened later. I am still trying to figure it all out.

Art created at the Torture Chamber called the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital

104_3377

 

I was a prisoner at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living’s Donnelly 2 South from January 10th until February 7th, 2013, the day before the east coast blizzard, and I only “escaped” because the torturing doctor went on a four day vacation and the substitute decided that I was not actually psychotic any longer and did not need seclusion or restraints after all…and opted to let me go the very day I was freed from both.

 

Good thing too, because it was a Thursday and all travel stopped the very next day and for several days after that. The picture above is one that Shedana, RN liked very much. She said it captured her “physique” and while the flooring is imaginary, the unit was structured much as it is pictured. At least while I had a bed on the unit, with my door facing the med room and another bedroom opposite. Shedana was a “good egg” but of course it didn’t help when they decided to attack me in force and secluded me for two weeks and worse…But more on that later.

 

The first doctor I had merely convinced me to take, semi-voluntarily, a fairly stiff dose of Zyprexa. which I tried to do with regularity. I soon found, however, that far from being the miracle drug it had once been, mixed with Abilify and Geodon it induced a state of apathy and boredom. As if the Intake and Feeding drug, the drug on which I used to feel enthusiasm to learn and read, Zyprexa, simply mixed very badly with the Output drugs of Geodon and Abilify, such that I neither could read and learn, nor do art or write. In any event, this abysmal lethargy pushed me out of desperation to paint this, in oil pastels.

 

104_3389

 

 

After that, I simply started refusing to take the Zyprexa, and refusing a lot of other things…A great deal of abuse happened. But I did this picture before all my art supplies were confiscated for no reason other than punishment (you cannot damage yourself or others with soft oil pastels)

 

104_3404

 

Before I tell you some of what happened, without naming names, lest a legal case be made against them, as there might possibly be a chance to do, let me show you most of the rest of the art I did there, though one of them is unfinished and may never end up being finished, since it was hospital art and may stay that way.

 

104_3410

 

This one is an oil pastel, me with a dung beetle pushing a ball of shit around on my cheek…Says enough just that, doesn’t it.

 

104_3402

 

This one can be turned any which way to see all sorts of things buried in the picture. It was the one I started first and never did get to finish. What I can point you towards is the central object at the very bottom, which you can trace up to the blue figure and see what is happening. It should tell you something…The hand on the upper left is pointing at this process. Also, the exploding biohazard ball is part of it all, representing me, the all-polluting biohazard…But you have to look at the picture carefully. There is a Boat To Nowhere, and there are a couple of turtles, why, I don’t know…yadda yadda.

 

Finally, the very last time I had access to any art supplies, and I do not recall whether it was my last morning or some other time, I painted this one with oil pastels. I believe it speaks for itself.

 

104_3412

 

What happened was that they were routinely, literally routinely restraining me “for not following directions” as they would quite openly state. Four-point restraints, in a tight no movement position, for many many hours at a time, with absolutely no indication of how, just how, I might “earn” my freedom. Of course they wouldn’t tell me what I could do to “be good” because I hadn’t done anything to ‘deserve” restraints to begin with as they knew perfectly well. For example,. and this was typical, but it was one of the few opportunities I managed to document because they ha removed all my writing materials, illegally, but I forgot that I had a right to a crayon and paper until Feb 6th. That afternoon, I simply walked away from my seclusion room. I had had enough of them saying it was “merely a side room” not a seclusion room, then preventing me bodily from leaving it. So when I could do so without someone actually wanting to fight me, I walked away, and proceeded to enter the unit and walk down the hall to the end and look out the window, I took a deep breath, heard THEM behind me, and sauntered back to the proper end of the hall, the “lost end” where they kept anyone from seeing me or knowing what they were doing to me. Once I got there, they descended on me, the horde of the goon squad, some staff I knew, but most I did not. I did not bother to look at who was doing what to me. I simply lay passively on the bed, and put my arms out so they could do what I knew they would do. Tightly, they shackled my wrists out past my hips so there was no play in the restraints and I could not turn on my side or do anything but lie stiffly on my back. At the same time, others jerked my feet apart and just as tightly shackled my ankles to the lower corners of bed. Then came the coup de grace. They pinioned me on my side somehow, pulled down my pants, and injected me with three drugs: Haldol 5mg, Ativan 2mg, and Benadryl 50mg. Why, except as punishment I do not know. because I had, just a half hour before, been doped up on involuntary Zyprexa 10mg.

 

But of course it was punishment. The very fact that they told me it was “not punishment” but “what your behavior brings on every time, Pamela” only proves my point. At first and usually they only said, it was because I “didn’t follow directions” so if they were not punishing me, what were they doing? They most certainly were not following Centers for Medicare and Medicaid regulations for the use of Restraints and Seclusion only in cases where a person is in imminent danger or harming self or others! Indeed, the best they could do, when I protested, passively, saying just those words, was to respond, “You are not safe” as if that proved somehow that I was in danger or posed any imminent threat to the safety of anyone.

 

No, I did not. I didn’t threaten or harm anyone. I merely walked the length of the hall and looked out the window and then went back to my solitary confinement. But it was enough to trigger their retaliation, and that started at 1pm. I was not released, not even to use the bathroom or eat supper, no never even was a single hand freed to permit me to eat supper — until 7pm.

 

THEN, at 8:30pm, I became upset and frustrated because — well, I do not know now why, but I “threw a half a graham cracker at the wall” as I recorded later. And the goon squad descended on this dangerous patient again, not only with the strait jacket of four point restraints, but with the same 3 drug IM-in-the-ass cocktail.

 

This time, however, passive as I was as they trussed me up — and I said only, “For shame, for shame. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, doing this to me…” — passive as I was, allowing them to seize my limbs and tightly shackle me yet again in truth I dared not resist, as that would only have justified their violence, and i already had my share of bruises. Bur I had come to my limit of the abuse i would silently tolerate. They could restrain and seclude me but they had up till now only silenced me in restraints because iu wanted to earn my way free quickly. THis time I didn’t give a damn. It was nearly nine o clock and no one knew what they had done to me. Everyone was getting their bedtime meds and going to bed without any understanding of what was going on. I was a stranger to most people on the unit, who had no idea I even existed. THAT was a situation that had to change. NOW.

 

After they trooped out of the room, stationing a 1:1 sitter at the door as usual, I stopped my merely silent and passive resistance and started to scream. I wanted to be heard. I wanted to scare people. I wanted them to wonder, Who is that person,. and what in god’s name are they doing to her? Are they torturing her? And I wanted them to ask questions of the staff that the staff could not answer. I screamed and I screams in desolation and despair, feeling like my life was at an end. The plan they had set up for me was impossible for me to live up to. In nearly 10 days I had not even earned my way to a pencil and my journal. Only to restraints and more restraints. I saw no way out of the hospital. So I screamed, long blood-curdling, heart-wrenching screams that I assume did the job of scaring all, as eventually they closed my door, much to the disgruntlement of the sitter who was forced to come inside with me and was no longer free to socialize. But not for a while. I kept on screaming until my voice gave out and I felt asleep.

 

The next day the substitute doctor freed me, I dunno why or how, but she did. and I thank my lucky stars as the staff doctor was a sadist and never would have. I have a lot more to say, but for now I am hoping to hear from a sympathetic lawyer who will take on my case for some reason for some purpose…Unlikely to happen. despite my bruised body and joints that are so out of whack I cannot sit indian fashion or cross my legs. Why won’t they help me or respond? I didn’t die, so they won’t earn a lot of money from my case, nobody gives a damn about mental patient abuse…

 

You really know when you are a third class citizen when you only MIGHT be worth more to them dead than alive.

 

 

Guns R Us…Why should Sandy Hook Surprise Us?

Don't shoot!
Don’t shoot!

We are what we do. As a society we are what we teach our children to do. And we are no better than what we allow to happen by our inaction, if we don’t act to stop it. Our gun laws permit, nay, they encourage gun use by everyone, they enthusiastically promote gun ownership and usage, and they turn a blind eye to gun ownership and usage by those who should never lay their hands on a toy gun, much less a loaded one.

Guns kill. They are not decorative or ornamental items. They are not collectors items. So let’s not fool ourselves. It may take a human agent to pull the trigger, but it is the bullet from a gun that kills. And get this straight: when a gun kills 20 little kids, it matters not whether the slugs come from a sig sauer, a glock, a .22. or a Saturday night special, what kills is a gun that does the only job it was designed to do.

0-1

When it comes right down to it, it is far too easy to kill someone when you have a gun, any gun: if you push or punch someone because you are angry, it is likely that he or she will be bruised, but they will live. It is only when there is a gun attached to your fingers that lethality comes attached as well. GUNS KILL PEOPLE. People using GUNS KILL PEOPLE, but people without guns do not so frequently kill people.

Let’s face it, Adam Lanza would have found it extraordinarily difficult to have murdered 20 children and 8 adults in less than an hour without his two handguns. The guns literally empowered him to do what he did. Without his guns, he would likely not even have attempted such a deed. Guns made him a god to grant and take away life, and in a moment of passion, he decreed that 28 people would lose theirs. Now, I don’t even believe doctors should be playing god, so I am horrified that all it takes is a gun, and Everyman has the power to do what only god should be in charge of.

Check out the website created after the Newtown, Connecticut, kindergarten shooting this afternoon, http://wearebetterthanthis.org, sponsored by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. God bless them,  I fully support the Brady Campaign. However, I am not sure we — whoever we are — are truly better than any “this”…Who are we anyway, and what proves that we are actually better than we witness happening around us?

The stats are ominous and more than distressing. And they speak volumes about whether perhaps it’s just a big fantasy, our being any better than the murderers among us.

For one thing, you should know that while there are 34, 589 hardware stores in the United States, there are more than 129,817 licensed firearms dealers as of Aug 2012 .  Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors. The rest are manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices.

There are also 80,000 ice cream parlors. Ice cream does 18 billion in sales a year, which isn’t bad considering an average ice cream cone costs only between $2 and $4. An average Glock 17, “America’s favorite gun,” costs around $500.00 You do the math and then tell me how easy it will be to convince gun dealers to change their ways…

JAKEgmGun

But right now, why should they bother? Guns are great business! In 2010 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for firearms purchases.  Only a small number of these purchases (78,211 or 0.48 percent) were denied. During Obama’s first term, and well before it ended, more than 50 million background checks had been run by the NCIS. This was a bonanza for the gun industry compared to the same 3.5 year period under George W Bush, when “only” 28 million such checks — background checks are an index of the demand market — were run. So clearly, if guns in the hands of the wrong people kill, chances are that more guns had to be getting in the hands of more wrong people than ever during the last four years…many many more.

Note that it doesn’t matter how many guns are purchased at one time, there is only one background check per purchase. After that, what you do with the guns and how many you have purchased at one time, is your business and yours alone… Oh and lest you think the so-called “mentally ill” would be screened out by the NCIS background check, think again. Being “adjudicated mentally ill” and barred from buying a gun is not at all the same thing as simply seeing a shrink or even being hospitalized in a general hospital, with or without your consent for 15 days.

I have been kept in a hospital against my will for even longer, but I have not been formally adjudicated mentally incompetent, or if I ever was, now that I am OUT of the hospital, I am no longer considered non compos mentis, and I could buy myself any gun I wanted to.

Frankly, I think that is only right. Why should some angry redneck be able to buy himself a Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun and I, peaceable and very, very unlikely even to pick it up, let alone use it, could not buy a sweet little .22? Furthermore, I would be far more likely to use it ON MYSELF not on others…

This last is a notable case in point, because unbelievably, suicide far exceeded homicide as the cause of gun fatalities at least in 2005. In 2005, 5.75/100,000 people committed suicide with a firearm, whereas “only” 3.43/100,000 people caused firearms homicides in that same year. Since in 2012, the suicide rate has hugely increased, probably due to PTSD in returning veterans, this ratio likely has only increased.

Approximately 34 persons are felled by guns each and every day in the US. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010,  47,856 people were slain by gunfire in the U.S., more than twice as many as were killed by any and all other means.

Whether or not the suicidal mentally ill should have access to guns – and just how to prevent it, just how to define who is mentally ill would be a huge problem — I see a bigger problem with an angry man of any stripe being able to purchase a handgun. Anger is a big spur to impulsive behavior and impulsivity and guns decidedly do not mix.

So I ask you: How can we be better than Friday afternoon’s Glockencatastrophe if we buy or permit/encourage the purchase of so many more handguns than ever? We are a gun culture, we worship guns,  we hav a national love affair with guns. What do we expect?

You know, one of the first rules of writing fiction is, if you “plant” a gun in the early scenes in a story, it must go off by the end…Similarly, if we have and are a gun culture, who are we not to expect to be a culture of shootings? We have the guns, how can we expect people, both good and bad, not to use them?

During the Newtown shooting, from what I gather, the shooter killed himself after he shot all the 28 other victims…All the high tech and paramilitary heavy weaponry with which the police have equipped themselves did zilch in the end to prevent mass murder. No, 20 small children and 8 adults were quickly and savagely murdered, a horrific act accomplished largely so it appears with two handguns, a plastic and metal glock and a sig sauer. The shooter supposedly had access to a Bushmaster combat rifle it is not clear that he used it for the killings.

Whatever is the case, things will become clearer in the coming days as the police reveal more information.

Perhaps I should be softer and sadder right now, perhaps I should not bring up things like slugs and guns and such at this moment. Forgive me for not wailing and beating my breast or crying but many more are doing that tonight elsewhere, so I am just going to save my breath for rage on behalf of those poor murdered children and the eight  others…Any more  tears added to that ocean would just be wasted salt and water.

Where Have All the Multiples Gone?

One of the terrible consequences of the APA’s DSM is the Multiple Personality Mayhem that resulted from that fad diagnosis of the late 80s and 90s. I was hospitalized many times in those years, and I was appalled even then at how this once extraordinarily rare diagnosis was suddenly “popping out of the woodworks.” Somehow, multiples, with their putative history of extreme childhood sexual torture, were everywhere. At any time on a psychiatric unit of 18-20 beds, you might see 4 people supposedly suffering from MPD. It was absurd, but try and point that out to the professionals! No, they were much too busy creating very sick individuals out of the whole cloth of their own — the psychiatrists’– minds!

Even at the time I felt very frightened by what was happening, as I understood how difficult it was going to be, when it was all over, for such patients to come to grips with the fact that their disorders were invented for them by the doctors who wanted to have their time in the limelight. Now that the fad is over, where have all the multiples gone? Have all of them been converted to DID — that is, are they still being lied to? or has anyone decided to be honest with them and admit that the Dx was bogus all along, that they never did have MPD or any other such disorder. That their so called multiple personalities were suggested to them by the therapists and invented for them ditto.

It was a horrendous situation, and one that I do not believe anyone has dealt with completely honestly or fully to this day…Of course not. When did you ever meet a doctor, much less a psychiatrist willing to admit he or she made a terrible mistake, or say, I am sorry, I will make amends. Hah. That’ll be the day.

Doing Art to Save My Sanity

THey Love You So Much, You Hate Yourself… © Pamela Spiro Wagner All rights reserved
This one you have to look a little closely at to see what precisely is going on…It isn’t obvious at first glance…

 

Unnatural Still Life or Natura Morte, as the Italians call it. Not your typical fruit bowl, I leave it up for interpretation, but will let you know that the two aqua items are from left to right a packet of Bugler cigarette papers and a bugle cigarette roller. © Pamela Spiro Wagner All rights reserved

 

 

 

A left handed doodle © Pamela Spiro Wagner All rights reserved

BioHands 1 ©Pamela Spiro Wagner All rights reserved

 

BioHands 2 ©Pamela Spiro Wagner All rights reserved

 

Three Catboats in cove, in mist. ©Pamela Spiro Wagner All rights reserved
This one was inspired from a photo but is not a copy, done in colored pencils and oil pastels.

As I have been having a hard time dealing with things,  I do art and do art and do art…It is as good a way to cope as any other I suppose. Anyhow, I hope to get back to writing here soon. In the meantime, I am investigating more about temporal lobe epilepsy and schizophrenia/bipolar illness. It seems to me very significant, and at the same time strange that so many people who bear the diagnosis of schizophrenia and/or bipolar are also supposedly burdened with yet another condition that is so tricky to pinpoint, so I may also be posting more about that in the future as well.

 

The more I read the less I am convinced that schizophrenia, as an entity, exists, one, and two, that if there is any such thing as “schizophrenia” no one has yet figured out what it is. Which is the same thing as saying it is an imaginary/artificial illness. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that mental suffering and psychosis do not exist, only that no one has proven, not to my satisfaction, that there is any such illness constellation that can go by the name of schizophrenia and be recognized as such by a preponderance of physicians world-wide… That offers a lot of leeway by the way. I don’t ask for a lab test or even a set of hard signs. Only a reasonable way for psychiatrists around the world to agree on symptoms that  constitutes a recognizable disease that is the same thing no matter where you go, just as measles is measles and the flu is the flu…

 

But there won’t be any agreement, as we know. Because schizophrenia is a cultural construct. It is imaginary and largely meaningless. Except within the society that uses it as a concept in order to disapprove of and stigmatize certain ways of being, speaking or thinking. In that sense schizophrenia is more than just a construct or concept it is a social tool. It is a weapon used to keep people in line. In western society, if one doesn’t keep to the obligatory path,  some semi-acceptable social role, the result is the withdrawal of social approvals and the substitution of punishment — think drugs, hospitals, seclusion, restraints — in their place. And yet, in other cultures, the very same “out of bounds” thinking or behavior, rather than being labelled schizophrenic or “crazy” is regarded as the mystic’s path and spiritual, highly regarded rather than  anathematized.

 

This is nothing new. It has been observed before. So why do we keep going back to beating the same old same old drum: “We need better drugs to treat mental illness.” “We need better diagnostic methods to pinpoint mental illness. ” “We need better interventions to help the “mentally ill” who cannot  or will not help themselves.”…YOWCH! Yada yada yada. Maybe we continue to bark up the same wrong, wrong, wrong tree. Maybe there is NO SUCH THING AS MENTAL ILLNESS, perhaps all along there has always only been physical illness. Perhaps much suffering, emotional and mental though it may be, is not illness, just part of the human condition, and while we want to ameliorate it, we call it illness at our peril.

 

More to come.