invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

it’s not/what you thought/when you first began it June 5, 2009

it’s not/what you thought/when you first began it…
lyrics from Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up”
from one of my favorite songs and film, Magnolia.

my absence is not due simply to work (i’m finished and broke again) or negative attacks. it’s also simply (and i hope i don’t offend anyone but if I do, I apologize in advance….) I need to take of ME.

21 years ago around this time, i was raped. as my regular readers know, it was so brutal, i blocked it from my mind for nearly four years until something triggered it. then, at 19, i began traveling a road of escapism, addictive behaviors, etc. along the way I was diagnosed with just about every ‘mental illness’ out there…first depression, then double depression, then borderline personality disorder and lastly bipolar. I’ve been on numerous psychiatric medications all of my adult life.

and now, as I’m about to turn 36 next week, i have realized (with the help of some dear friends and readers…you know who you are and I am eternally grateful to you!!!) that it’s not what i thought when i first began it. for the majority of my life, i wanted to BELIEVE I had a mental illness. i took the pills. i spent tens of thousands in medical bills…saw the most expensive psychiatrists, therapists, etc….none of whom never understood me nor cared to. a waste of money and time to say the least, but a lesson learned and I grew from it. that’s what life is about….

I have been reading Peter Levine’s Healing Trauma and of course I have realized that the symptoms of many ‘mental illnesses’ are absolutely 100% identical to the symptoms of trauma. and I have a lot of trauma in my life, not just the brutal rape. The obvious cases of trauma being war, sexual abuse, physical or mental abuse, loss of a loved one, etc. But I was surprised by the lesser known cases of trauma and I encourage you to read his book if you haven’t already or one similar.

while working on a job recently, a girl turned me onto a beautiful center here in town. it’s a sexual assault center. my first appointment was earlier this week. i nervously walked in and was immediately overwhelmed by a beautiful, caring and loving energy unlike anything I have ever experienced at a place like this before. i will get more into it at another time, but let me just say, it is a wonderful place. and i received a grant so my first 8 sessions are free, after that, sliding scale. not sure how i’ll afford it then, but I will find a way. what matters here is: these people CARE. they do not medicate you. they HEAL you.

during my first session i did 90% of the talking (not uncommon during a first visit) but when my therapist was able to get a word in she brought up dissociation and a form of esp…something I will also get into at another time. (my intuition has grown much stronger over the years and she explained why) but as i sat in her office staring at the toys, the window covered with children’s artwork and drawings…i cried….tears of joy and sadness. through the window I could see children doing their ‘play therapy’ in the beautiful yard. i cried because i wish i had that experience earlier (but have also learned there are no regrets in life, at least that’s my belief) and i cried tears of sadness knowing what these children have been through.

i made it very clear to my therapist, i am anti-meds in my case. especially after 20 years of the meds making me sicker and masking the real issue: trauma. luckily, she is too. i told her the meds I’ve been on that I can remember: Seroquel, Abilify, Paxil, Prozac, Lamictal, Effexor, Celexa, etc. she told me i’d be surprised to know how many young children come in to see her who are on 6-8 meds and it saddens her. i told her i am fully aware of the child bipolar, etc. epidemic. i told her it angers and saddens me. HOWEVER, my dear how it was refreshing to see a place like this where children are loved and nurtured. they are not medicated. my therapist believes fully in creativity and I could see it everywhere. I didn’t see a diploma in her office but instead toys and books and games. even though i know she has a degree…that doesn’t matter. what matters is her heart and what this center is doing.

anyway, i don’t have much energy for more right now. (i haven’t had any energy lately and my mind has been numb) i will end by saying…i am so thankful for this opportunity and i KNOW it’s going to work. i also know it won’t be easy. and so, I haven’t been reading blogs, the news, etc…like I normally do because I’m focusing on me right now. I must do so in order to heal. I have also been escaping by playing games but I believe that is a result of 2 months of non-stop work and the nature of this therapy I’m receiving. That escapism will end as I get further along in therapy.

and in the end….i will hopefully be free of 21 long years of trauma and paralyzing pain.

my love to you all.

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Joe Pantoliano on mental illness stigma April 27, 2009

thanks to Van for posting on this-I’ve been out of the loop and missed it although I am familiar with what Joe has been doing lately.

Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, Memento, The Matrix, The Goonies) started an organization called No Kidding, Me Too! He has a documentary coming out with the same title. I want to start off my saying, I commend him for this. Stigma is a real problem in America and throughout the world. We must bring an end to it!

This is Joe’s message at his website:
We are ready for the fight and we ask you to please join us in the revolution and help us educate souls all over the world to “Remove the Stigma!”

Mission
No Kidding, Me Too! is an organization whose purpose is to remove the stigma attached to brain dis-ease through education and the breaking down of societal barriers. Our goal is to empower those with brain dis-ease to admit their illness, seek treatment, and become even greater members of society.

The Goal
Make Brain Dis-ease cool and sexy. We want a normal conversation in America to be:

“I have bipolar disorder/schizophrenia/insert dis-ease”

“No Kidding, Me Too!”

Who Has The Stigma:
Those suffering from brain dis-eases including anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, pyromania, kleptomania, compulsive gambling, addictions, paranoia, multiple personality disorder, gender identity disorder, Down’s syndrome, psychosomatic disorder, tic disorders, and others.

How Will NKMT Accomplish This?
h Create strategic partnerships with members of industry, academia, organizations and government to ensure a broad-based spectrum of support and input.
h Organize the creative talents of our industry professionals to generate messages for various media and use our celebrity status to ensure these messages are heard. The messages will be of empowerment and acceptance and can include topics as basic as giving job opportunities to those with a brain dis-ease.
h Coordinate, participate in and generate interest for national and regional educational events consistent with our goal.

He has an impressive list of Advisory Board members, some of whom I greatly admire in the industry Joey and I share: Robert Downey, Jr, Ed Begley, Jr, Jeff Bridges, Edie Falco, Marcia Gay Harden, Ang Lee, Robin Williams and many more.

At his website there are photos of Joey from the screening of the teaser at the Democratic National Convention with people like Tony Goldwyn, Dana Delaney, Bobby Kennedy, Melissa Etheridge and Tom Fontana.

Here’s the teaser to his documentary:

Under the resources section at his website-the very first resource listed is NAMI. ahem. I wonder if Joe has researched Big Pharma’s influence at NAMI? Is he aware that Sen. Grassley is investigating NAMI’s funding? I am a registered Democrat and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with this party, a party who is ignoring the corruption of Big Pharma and anyone linked to Big Pharma mainly because of their involvement with them. They are looking out for themselves and those that financially support them instead of the PEOPLE. Senator Grassley is all alone and that is sad.

At Joe’s website he links to several articles, letters, humorous videos and some of this favorite quotes, here’s a sampling:

To Fight Stigmas, Start With Treatment

Call for New Home to Address Health Disparities for Mentally Ill

FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful

some of Joey’s favorite quotes

The teaser for his documentary opens with the statement:
1 in 4 Americans suffer from mental illness
4 in 5 Americans are affected by it

And then throughout you see more statistics on the screen:

87 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness
There are over 350,000 diagnosed cases of PTSD resulting from the Iraq war
18 of our American heroes are committing suicide every day

And statements like these:
There is a fine line between madness & creativity
Mental illness is the only DIS-EASE which you can be diagnosed with, and get yelled at for having

Joe went public with his illness after he was hired to do a film. (FYI: one of the first things required for actors and directors before they start filming is to see a doctor and production schedules a physical for insurance purposes) He had done this over 70 times but in this case he told the doctor the two medications he was currently taking, one for depression and one for heart disease. His lawyers were then informed that the production company/studio could not insure Joe because he was taking an antidepressant. They were told Joe could sign a waiver basically saying if he had a ‘breakdown’ he would be financially responsible for the loss of work or a shutdown. Joe’s real problem and awakening was simple: they were willing to cover his heart but not his brain. That is stigma. We all know it and it’s something I’ve been fighting and living with for countless years. It’s heartbreaking.

However, in a separate (lengthy) taped discussion with Joe he discusses a number of topics, mostly stigma, his films, politics & mental illness. He also talks about the fact the he quit drinking and has started practicing yoga, he exercises, etc. He believes in the theory that mental illness is genetic. I believe he mentioned his mother was diagnosed bipolar. Now, I haven’t seen his documentary but when his teaser states 87 million Americans suffer from a mental illness-I doubt (and I hope I’m incorrect) that he mentions why we have this false statistic. This number has increased drastically simply due to Big Pharma’s influence and a bunch of doctors started diagnosing people for a variety of reasons: more money in their pockets, get the patient in and out as quickly as possible, falsified data and studies…the list goes on and on. Instead of dealing with the true issue at hand, whether it be trauma or dysfunction, it seems Joe has partially bought into the quick fix system. And he’s using his celebrity status with people in the government in hopes that his message will be heard. That would be all fine and good except there are many flaws in his message. I agree with ending stigma but ‘his message’ goes much, much deeper than that.

In chapter 15 of the discussion linked above someone asked him if he’s tried alternative treatments like acupuncture and he states that he does practice yoga and meditation, he partakes in talk therapy, 12 step groups, etc. He seems to be all over the map and that is fine. It is his path. But it will truly disturb me if he does not mention Big Pharma’s influence within our modern psychiatric world (doctors, NAMI, etc) in his documentary, No Kidding, Me Too!

 

Kevin Siers’ cartoon April 8, 2009

Filed under: mental illness,stigma — clementine @ 10:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

If this cartoon titled: Local Terrorist offends you, I encourage you to write a letter to the editor at the Charlotte Observer. According to his bio, Kevin’s cartoons are distributed to over 400 newspapers nationwide by King Features Syndicate.

275-siers04_02highlight_largeprod_affiliate138

Here are the email addresses:

Rick Thames, editor:
rthames@charlotteobserver.com

Letters to the editor:
opinion@charlotteobserver.com

Cartoonist Kevin Siers:
ksiers@charlotteobserver.com

This was my letter to the editor and I cc’d Rick and Kevin:

I am writing in regards to Kevin Siers’ cartoon titled “Local Terrorist”
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/kevinsiers/story/638466.html

Horrific images like this one promote the stigma associated with mental illness. Just look at some of the comments regarding Kevin’s cartoon. I find this cartoon extremely offensive as someone who has lived with a mental illness for more than 25 years. I must ask if you, your readers or Mr. Siers has a family member or close friend that suffers from depression or another mental illness? I have news for you: mental illness is an illness just like any other and it can be successfully treated. I am living proof of that-although, no thanks to Big Pharma. Unfortunately, I have spent more than half of my life living with the stigma associated with mental illness, meanwhile I have family members who have diabetes or cystic fibrosis and there is no stigma because people are not ‘afraid’ of those illnesses. People continue to be afraid of anyone with a mental illness partially thanks to cartoons like this. It is disgusting and you should all be ashamed for printing such a thing. This is one giant step backwards for the millions of people who have long suffered and been misunderstood. Don’t be surprised if you lose readers over this and you should!

****UPDATE: I should note that I don’t necessarily believe in mental illness these days. Of course my entire life I wanted to believe I had an illness because at the time it was the only thing keeping me alive as others around me labeled me crazy, odd, insane, etc. You get the picture. Today, this is my belief, if there is such a thing as mental illness…where is the scientific proof? Where is the cure? Scientists have had plenty of time to prove this and yet they haven’t. That speaks volumes. Instead we have numerous drugs promoted on television, pimped by our doctors and pharma reps for a quick fix. And let’s face it-there’s a a lot of money in it for Big Pharma and doctors. I wrote this email to Kevin because he does feed the stigmatization of a group of human beings that have been discriminated against their entire lives. That is not something I can sit back and ignore.

 

Ray Sandford March 18, 2009

Filed under: ECT,mental illness — clementine @ 1:11 pm
Tags: , ,

Ray received another involuntary outpatient maintenance electroshock on March 4th. This is approximately his 40th. His next two scheduled electroshocks are March 25th and April 15th.

Please share this video and help stop his forced ECT.

For more information please visit MindFreedom!

 

Light and Shadow March 14, 2009

Filed under: mental illness,stigma — clementine @ 3:11 pm
Tags: ,

please everyone, check out: Light and Shadow.

It is a quarterly e-zine which focuses on moving beyond psych labels, psych diagnosis and mental health stigma.

 

3 year anniversary March 8, 2009

march 8, 2006-my first blog entry at my old website.
so much has happened since then.
is my life better?
absolutely.
am i still on the path to recovery?
yes, and i always will be.

I would like to think I have helped some people along the way. maybe they don’t feel so alone. but i will be honest-this is an outlet as well. after my last therapist dozed off during our pricey session, i quit therapy for good. this website allows me to voice my concerns, my fears, my anxieties and I would like to thank all of you who have been there for me over the years. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. I have met some wonderful, beautiful, strong and compassionate people like Gianna, Stephany, John, Ana and so many others.

Over the last three years I’ve had many ups and downs, if you will. I lost my beloved cat of 16 years and I still miss her so. We adopted a beautiful, funny boy from a shelter a few months later. He had a rough past. Beaten, bloodied and lost most of his teeth when he was brought to the shelter but he, like so many of us, is strong and survived. His purrs soothe my soul. I was diagnosed with Adenomyosis and had several ovarian cysts. Shortly after, I had an injury at work and was diagnosed with sciatica. There has been much physical pain the past three years, and I’ve had a hard time dealing with it. My entire life I have been battling the mental pain and was extremely healthy otherwise. I lost my health insurance, a frightening reality I never thought I would have to face. My work has slowed down tremendously due to the economy and strikes but I also reached a goal in my line of work that will soon provide health insurance and a pension. Lastly and most importantly, I got married and it was a beautiful day. The man I married knows me, he gets me and he is not afraid. He loves me unconditionally and has helped me break down some old walls. I know it’s not easy for him. He has no idea what it must have been like to be raped at 15 but he is always there, listening and comforting. I feel very lucky.

Over the past three years it has been bittersweet to see Big Pharma more and more in the news. As much as I hate the Rebecca Riley stories, these stories need to be heard. Thanks to Furious Seasons the Zyprexa and Seroquel documents were made available to the people who have earned the right to read them. Speaking of which, we have seen the descent of journalism. Newspapers are closing their doors. Great journalists are hard to find and we need them now more than ever. So, please head over the Furious Seasons and donate if you can. And over the past few years the Joe Biederman’s of the world are being called out. It has been a long time coming.

I have also began to question my mental illness. I have been labeled with so many, it’s hard to keep track of. I have been on antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. None of them have worked-although a few worked temporarily but that is not good enough. I deserve better. We all deserve better. And on the mark of my 3rd anniversary, I can say that I am happy to say goodbye to psychiatric medications. I have had a long love/hate relationship with them beginning many, many years ago. I’ve suffered through horrific side effects and withdrawals. I may never be the same because of them. However, I have learned there are other paths out there. Safer paths and I am choosing the safer one. It might be a more difficult path but it will be worth it in the end.

And lastly, I feel I have grown quite a bit the past three years. I have learned a lot. I cut off ties with my family around the historic election last year and have since began to mend things. We might not see eye-to-eye politically or even socially but I still love them. I have learned you can’t open everyone’s eyes and that is okay. What is important is….love. And enjoying life and your loved ones while we are here on this planet.

peace to you all.

 

comedy pt. 2 February 13, 2009

and this is comedy at its worst, script style.
(A true story, in fact, this happened today)

EXT WAITING ROOM-DOCTOR’S OFFICE

A WOMAN in her mid-30s sits waiting. She is lethargic, depressed, tired of it all. This is nothing new to her. She’s spent more than half of her life waiting, waiting for her doctors. SEVERAL PHARMACEUTICAL REPS enter as she waits for nearly 40 minutes. Her HUSBAND, by her side, *coughs* whenever they pass by and says, “drug pushers!”

I/E WAITING ROOM-DOCTOR’S OFFICE

A bored NURSE opens the door.

NURSE: Ms.____________?

The WOMAN rises. The usual. Weight check. Blood pressure check. The NURSE shows the WOMAN to her room.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE

The woman takes her usual seat and she hears…

NURSE: The doctor will be right with you.
WOMAN: (sighing) Thank you.

The WOMAN is waiting, flipping through a magazine. She thinks, will this ever end? Finally, she hears a lot of chatter outside the door and it opens. Her DOCTOR enters.

DOCTOR: Soooo, how’s it going?
WOMAN: Oh, well, the usual. The Celexa is horrible, just as I suspected. An antidepressant with side effects of depression symptoms. Oh, by the way, I heard your husband died in car wreck. I am terribly sorry.
DOCTOR: (looking down) Thank you.
WOMAN: So, anyway, I cannot deal with these side effects. Especially the loss of libido and constant lethargy. One cannot get out of a depressive state when you are on a drug that brings on more depression or depressive symptoms. I have no desire or energy to go anywhere. The anxiety is still there. Am I better than three months ago? Absolutely. But this is not my idea of a life and I want my life back.
DOCTOR: Okay, let’s try something new.

The WOMAN rolls her eyes as her doctor scrolls through her computer looking for a cheap, generic alternative. She’s having a hard time finding the generic.

WOMAN: May I ask which drug are you looking for? As you know I’ve been on most of them.
DOCTOR: Wellbutrin
WOMAN: Sorry, I’m allergic, should be in my chart. Bad rash. Hospital. Out of the question.
DOCTOR: Oh shit, that’s right. So, let’s try Effexor. I’ll be back, I’ll grab some samples and go over everything.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE-MOMENTS LATER

The DOCTOR enters with a 14-day supply of Effexor XR. She sits down and faxes a prescription via her computer to the WOMAN’S pharmacy.

WOMAN: I think I’ve been on Effexor before. In fact, I am positive I have been. Although, thanks to memory loss from the numerous medications I’ve taken over my lifetime, I cannot remember a thing about it. I have one question for you, does Effexor have the side effects similar to Celexa, those I am so desperately trying to escape?
DOCTOR: Look, I know you’re more well-versed on medications than most of my patients. I know you do the research. But I will tell you this: with Effexor XR you will have no weight gain.
WOMAN: Great!
DOCTOR: No feelings of lethargy. No loss of libido or other sexual side effects.
WOMAN: (unsure, but willing to give it a shot again) Okay. I’ll try it out.
DOCTOR: I’ve also refilled your Xanax.
WOMAN: I’m happy you mentioned that, I’ve read numerous studies, heard and read horror stories on Xanax withdrawal, when I get to that stage, I’d like to meet with you and discuss the best possible withdrawal scenario.
DOCTOR: (behind schedule and not really listening) Okay, no problem.

INT. WOMAN’S CONDO-ONE HOUR LATER

The WOMAN sits at her computer furiously researching Effexor XR. This is what she finds. Common side effects of Effexor: headache, nausea, dry mouth, sweating, sleepiness or insomnia, and diarrhea or constipation, weight gain, loss of libido and a host of other sexual dysfunctions. Most everything but the weight gain and sexual dysfunctions usually goes away within a couple of weeks.

The WOMAN stares blankly at her computer, really not surprised at the information she has found. She wonders to herself, “Someone please explain to me, why am I PAYING this doctor?”

FADE TO BLACK.