Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Social Security nightmare

So, since I need disability benefits to survive, as I cannot work full-time, it is my frequent fear that these benefits will, for some reason, be taken away. And this is what is now happening to me.

I received a ridiculous letter last week, which sent me spiraling into a state of suicidal despair. The letter said that, among other ridiculous things, I've supposedly been able to work since September, 2006. And so, the disability benefits I got since then were monies I should have never received. Also, the letter stated that I am perfectly able to work now and in the future, and that my benefits may be retroactively taken away from me.

During some the months that this letter claims I was WORKING, I was, in some cases, locked up in a hospital 24/7, or I was unemployed, sick, and living in a homeless shelter or a motel room, or a group home, or an Assisted Living Facility. There is actual proof that I could not have had a job during these time periods. There is no proof that I did have one. The IRS, obviously, knows if I've been working. So, the funny thing is, that Social Security claims that it was the IRS who told them I WAS working during these months.

These months span across the years 2004-2009. Apparently it takes a few years for the government to figure out that they have some reasons to accuse you of stealing from the government, so they are now telling me I worked too much in 2004. Anybody read this blog from the beginning? It started in 2004, I think. It started when I was flagrantly psychotic and unmedicated.

In 2004-2005, I was hospitalized numerous times (I don't remember how many times), was living in homeless shelters, motel rooms, my mom's house, and assisted living facility, and a crappy excuse for an apartment or two. I worked for a week or two at a pretzel shop in a mall, where I thought what I was doing every day was BAKING DEAD BABIES out of human flesh, for humans to eat. I thought the NAZI "Illuminati" had taken over the world. Social Security claims I was working for months. Um, no. The reason I worked there at all was to keep myself from being sent to a concentration camp.

I also worked, for a week or so, at a 7-11 convenience store/gas station, because I thought that WORKING would keep me from being sent to a concentration camp. I was quickly fired for being physically and mentally unable to do the job duties.

So, supposedly I was raking in big bucs during these weeks, which have been turned into months by the government screw-up that is currently ruining my life.

Also, I worked for a couple of weeks at Nielsen Media, again, while psychotic and unmedicated, before I got hauled away by the police for having a gun in the trunk of my car with which I planned to shoot myself. The government is now claiming I worked throughout that year, when hospital records prove I was IN A HOSPITAL for half of that year.

No problem, you might think. As I have proof (in the form of W-2s from the companies I did work for), that I was not working for all these months, it should be no problem. But Social Security doesn't have to be nice. They don't have to listen to me. I have no legal authority to make them fix their own mistakes. I have no idea how they ever got all the facts this messed up in the first place. I do not know if I can make them listen to me.

My therapist wrote a letter to tell the agency that they need to take into consideration my currently lousy state of mental health at the present time and expedite this nightmare, but they don't have to listen to her either.

They can, and likely will, cancel my benefits retroactively (unfair though it would be), and then worry about fixing their screw up some years down the line when I have a lawyer who will help me. I would have no way of paying my rent during those years, but they don't have to care about that.

They are also trying to claim that when I really did work, in 2006, I made too much money, though, according to what they told me at the time, I had no reason to believe this was the case, and I never worked more than 20 hours per week during most of that time. If someone can live on a 20-hour-a-week salary doing a clerical job, I would love to hear how they do it, but according to Social Security's own definition of disabled, being able to work 20 hours per week DOES NOT MEAN I am not disabled. Again, I am using logic here, and since this agency doesn't believe in logic, nothing I say matters much.

I probably have no choice but to try to get legal help, since the situation is about survival and I do not want to have to lose my ability to pay my rent, lose the insurance that pays for my medications, go off medications, become homeless again, and then reapply to get disability benefits again. Great. Sorry if I do not sound exactly optimistic here, but, really, I am not feeling like there is going to be a positive outcome to this situation. I now understand again why I used to think the S.S. was the name for Social Security as well as the Nazi party military regime of WWII.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Threat to society?? Please, kiss my threatening arse

This past Sunday, I was having lunch with my Mom, who was looking over a newspaper as we sat in our booth at Panera Bread. She had come across an article on Seroquel (one of the meds I take), and pointed it out to me. I read the article, which discussed how the company -AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals -that manufactures this medication is arguing that they should not have to release research documenting certain side effects of the drug. Their excuse, as to why they should not have to release the information was that people with Schizophrenia would learn of the side effects, then stop taking their medication, and become threats to society. Yes. Threats to society. And it is 2009, folks.

Let me just point something out here to the makers of Seroquel, the people who read this blog, and the world at large. I am not a freakin' threat to your society, my society, or all societies in existence. I don't hate you, don't want to hurt you, have never wanted to kill you, and won't become your murderer tomorrow. Also, I am not a serial killer. Movies that present people who supposedly are "psycho" as crazed murderers, and who use mental illness and the label of Schizophrenia as synonymns to "PSYCHO KILLERS", do not represent me. Again, I am not a serial killer. I am not even a one-time killer. I am so not-a-killer that I actually detest killing bugs. I am a vegetarian because I do not want animals to be killed so that I may eat them. I am an anti-war, pacifist activist who has marched one Washington to protest killings of peoples in other parts of the globe. I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. I am not a killer. I am not a threat to you.

I don't want to eat your kids. I don't want to poison your oatmeal or chocolate milk. I don't want to break into your home in the middle of the night and slit your throat. I don't have a backyard, but even if I did, there would be no bodies buried there. I don't want to kill anyone. I don't want to kill you. I am not a killer. And I have Schizophrenia.

Dear staff members of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, though I take your products into my body every day, and though I do fit the criteria for a person who has been psychotic and had all the symptoms of Schizophrenia, I don't pose any threat to you, to future generations, to the universe at large, or even to any other galaxies where you might dream I was born. I am no threat, have not ever been a threat, and will never be a threat to anybody on this planet with the lone exception of one person: myself.

I have been a threat to myself, like many people with mental illnesses. Like so many before and after me with Schizophrenia, I have tried to kill myself multiple times. I almost "succeeded" in that. I have never tried to kill you, or anybody else other than myself. I have not ever longed to kill or harm anyone else either. I am no threat, just like most people with mental illnesses, to anybody, other than myself. Most people with mental illnesses don't kill anybody. Of those who do kill someone, the large majority kill themselves - not anybody else. The large majority never even attempt to kill anyone else. Ever.

We are not threats to you, or your world. We have mental illnesses, sometimes obvious ones, and sometimes not so obvious ones, but we function, day-to-day in your schools, your offices, your homes, your neighborhoods, and your grocery stores, without ever harming anybody at all and without murdering an ant. We are people.

That's right, Big Pharma. I am what is known as a PERSON. P-E-R-S-O-N. Not a psychopath. Not a serial killer. Not a danger. Not harmful. Not a threat. A HUMAN. H-U-M-A-N. HUMAN. Just like you.

So, if there are some side effects to some medications that I happen to be injesting on a daily basis, well, guess what? I deserve to know what those side effects are. If there is a danger that I am going to be obese because I take a certain medication, and a danger that I might also become diabetic, I deserve to know that to. In fact, I currently am obese and at risk for developing diabetes, because of Seroquel, Risperdal, and other antipsychotic medications I've taken. When doctors prescribed these pills for me, they did not bother to warn me about the possible consequences and side effects of taking the pills for years, or, perhaps, for life, as the case may be. They did not show me the research you all did which proves these pills could cause a life-threatening, lifelong condition in my body, which may or may not be just as bad as the Schizophrenia itself. In other words, your cure is just as evil as my cause for needing your cure, possibly. But you don't want me to know that. You say you don't want me to know because I'll come kill your rabbit and eat your foot while you're sleeping in the night. But really, what is this all about, Big Pharma? Is it not, after all, about the bottom line?

I believe it is. I believe it is about money $$$$$$$$$, pure and simple. The bottom line that is the bottom line of so many societal ills, is still the bottom line of this story. Big Pharma doesn't want to lose dollars from Schizophrenic people who refuse to continue to pay big money for dangerous drugs. So Big Pharma, instead of ADMITTING this fact, sets out to paint a big, scary picture about people who use Big Pharma's medications. And those people are people with mental illnesses, who are so easy to paint lousy pictures of. So Big Pharma tells the public that they should all be scared of the unmedicated Schizophrenic people who are going to come and slice off their cats' ears in the night, rather than admit that Big Pharma is illegally poisoning people without telling them so.

This is an old story, just with a new face. I have been on so many harmful psychotropic drugs over the years, I don't even know that I could count them all. I have taken them, willingly, under the auspice that they would do me more good than harm. They sometimes worked; they often did not work. But, regardless, I credit these pills with saving my life, and restoring my sanity - no small task. I give them A LOT of credit for that, and I frequently argue against the stupid fools who claim pshychiatry is evil, because I know it's not all evil. I know it saved me. I also know, however, that I DESERVE TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MEDICATIONS I AM INGESTING EVERY DAY. I deserve just as much information on that as a person with cancer would get about their chemotherapy before they decided whether or not to go through with having it. I deserve to know the possible long-term consequences, and the day-to-day possible side effects of every single drug I ever take. I deserve to know, just like you do, just like the doctors do, just like Big Pharma knows. I deserve to have all the facts laid out before me, with which I can make a knowledgable, wise choice.

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals can call me all the names they want to contrive, but I can point out the facts. AstraZeneca is killing me with their wonderful drug, because I am now overweight, at a higher risk of diabetes and heart attacks, and I was never even told that I might gain a ton of weight if I began taking this medication. I should have been told. We all should have been told. Every single person I know who takes antipsychotic medication has, generally, gotten fat on them. And that's a lot of people. I've met a lot of people who take these medications. None of those people are too skinny these days. No, quite often, in fact, they are obese. And being obese is not exactly healthy. I, myself, have made the choice to take the meds, even though I know now that they made me obese. But I deserved to be able to make an INFORMED CHOICE, with the information laid out in front of me, five years ago. I may not have chosen to take medication, if I had known I'd end up fat. But, I am HUMAN, and not a lab rat, therefore, I HAVE A RIGHT TO MAKE THAT CHOICE.

AstraZeneca can, quite frankly, kiss my threatening, Schizophrenic ass.

Friday, February 13, 2009

i want back what i was (Sylvia Plath, "Eyemote")

The first time I used the internet to help myself access mental health assistance was 1996. Around the time Al Gore invented the internet, I guess.

I went on this suicide/depression message board site. It was before message boards looked neat and clean as they do now, and before there were a billion of them. It was called the ER. That is where I met a guy named Kevin. What followed from that was an twelve-year-long strange situation, a bit of an obsession, and what I thought was true love because it was the only thing I had ever experienced that felt like that. This whole thing went on and on, mostly a sad, epic tale of woe, consisting of me making a fool of myself by being codependent on a person who I never even met in person. This ended some six months ago when Kevin stopped talking to me, for one final time, apparently. And still I am left sitting here with the stray threads of some sort of relationship tangled in my hands wondering why I managed to mess it all up so badly and to never make it real.

I am very lonely. I have written this before, and the fact that I am being redundant is not lost on me. I have written about Kevin here many times and then deleted the post. Because I was ashamed. I don't really need to be ashamed, but I was, am. Because I feel pathetic.

I always had in my head, like most people, a number of goals I wanted to achieve. I wanted a close, romantic relationship, a college degree, a decent job, my health, a roof over my head. I have found that securing some of these things has taken a lot of time and energy and not always been successful, and yet, I mourn those life markers I never earned, the wedding I never had, the degree I never achieved, the house I never managed to buy. I barely keep my apartment paid for, and I don't have the health needed to work a full time job. I will probably never get married or even have a good relationship, because I am now overweight and unattractive. Yet, I feel so helpless, as if trying to lose weight or to go back to school were just utterly impossible things I will never, ever manage to do. And then sometimes, I think it doesn't really matter anyway, and I curl up into a ball and cry and wish I was dead.

I started wishing I was dead the first time when I was 12 years old. The fact I still do this at age 34 is not encouraging. I try not to do it. I try not to let my mind recede into dark corners which it cannot escape. I try to think, "Yes, there will be good things in the future. The future is promising. I can, and will, accomplish my goals." But it's hard to believe it. I've struggled so long with so many health problems, I don't even know how to explain to you how far removed I am from the self I once was. But she isn't here much anymore. Well, she is here, but she is somewhat damaged, I guess.

I loved Kevin the entire time I knew him. I know how dumb that sounds. It sounded dumb to him too. I know how crazy it sounds. I've been called crazy before, as you might imagine. I don't care how dumb or crazy it sounds though, deep down, because I know what was real to me, what matters to me, and this was a person who - unfortunate as it might be - mattered to me a whole hell of a lot for a very long time, over a decade of my life. I don't think I would be presenting an accurate picture of myself if I did not tell you this. This is a large part of who I am. I believe in love, and that peace can be achieved. I don't kill bugs usually. I like daisies better than roses. I enjoy a good poem. I guess I'm a bit of a sap. After all, if you've seen one movie with some element of romantic comedy in it, you've seen a romance that should not have succeeded ending happily with wonder. And that is all it took for me to think, for twelve years, that some day I'd be in a real relationship - off the internet - with a guy who never even wanted to meet me. Yes, I do know how pathetic that is.

I have always been a person who dreams well but doesn't accomplish the feats of her dreams very well. I am insecure, unsure of myself, and have issues that you know all about if you've read this blog, which preclude easy accomplishments. I would tell you I believe I am going to finish my college degree, but right now I can't say I believe that, really. I cannot read a book these days, nor even a chapter of a book, and that makes college just an outlandish idea. I try to manage my symptoms and the stress in my life by focusing on what is necessary. College, technically, isn't necessary, so it comes after the job that is necessary to pay the rent. I cannot, at this moment in time, manage the job and the college. I wish I could, but my brain has limits, and I pay dire consequences when I do not respect those limits.

So I am disappointed and depressed sometimes these days, because I want more than this out of my life. I want my Master's degree, I want my true love, I want to be my skinny self again. But wanting does not equal achieving. I need to find more strength within myself to push through these barriers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

a day in my current life

I am bored at work, so I thought it would be interesting to try something new here. I thought I would try to describe a typical day in my life (inside my mind) for you, as a mode of better explaining what life with Schizophrenia is like. Bear in mind that I am a person who has insight into her illness, luckily for me, and that I am also very "treatment-compliant", meaning I take many medications, I take them everyday, and I take them exactly as prescribed. I also see a therapist weekly, and have a case manager who occasionally keeps tabs on me. So, here are some typical situations - my goal here is to tell you what life with symptoms can be like - in my particular, little life, currently.

Wake up in the morning. Eat breakfast. Turn on television. Feed cat. Take shower, dress, do makeup, look for keys which are always lost, find keys, lock door, head to car looking for car keys. Stop for something to drink (admittedly almost always Diet Coke) on the way to work.

While at job involves answering the switchboard of a college. I am one of the main operators for all the lines at all the campuses for the school. We have a high volume of phone calls, and I answer up to 160 calls per day, on a busy day, fewer on other days.

Example of a call:
Me: "College Name. This is Jennifer, how may I help you?"
Caller: "Would you tell me the number for financial aid?"
What My Brain Hears: "Wood Jew count out your last number of days?"
Explanation: My brain hears double speak. This is an example to show you a typical way that my brain misinterprets what it hears. Note that I ALSO hear the real words the person is actually saying, but simultaneously I hear the other words, which are related to my specific delusions about anti-semitism, myself being labeled a Jew, myself being Jesus, and myself heading toward death. These are long-held delusions in my brain which come back when my medications are not working correctly, ie, right now and frequently.

Now multiply the above scenario by 100 times, and you will have an idea what a typical day at work is like for me.

Here is another example of a phone call:
Me: "College Name. This is Jennifer. How may I help you?"
I hear myself say "hell may help you". I know that this means I am connected to Satan or demons and I am talking about the spirit world which my subconscious mind is aware of.
Caller: "How late are you open till today?"
Me: "7:00"
Caller: "Gotcha".

The word, "gotcha", ie, "got ya", is a key delusion word for me. Whenever I hear this word, which I do very frequently, it means, in my mind, that I have been caught releasing information in double speak and/or that I am in serious trouble, and it is a reminder that I am headed for both torturous hell in a concentration camp, and a horrid death. "Gotcha" is a word laden with horrible meanings in my mind, and I hate it every time I hear it. The word, frankly, terrifies me. It means that horrid, terrifying things are going to happen to me in the near future. It is not a good word to hear. I hear it often. Many people use that word on the phone.

Now, multiply this by many times - and you will have an even better understanding of what my day is like, internally.

On top of the double speak I hear from every caller on the phone, I also hear double speak coming from my coworkers who sit around me at their desks answering their phones all day, and my supervisor who sits at her desk answering her phone as well.

By the time four to eight hours have gone by, I have heard dozens of hidden messages and words laden with meanings nobody else understands or ever will understand, and I am exhausted, and I am thrilled to be going home. In the car, I play music loudly and sign along with it, drowning out any double speak or voices my brain might want to concoct.

After work, I usually just go home, and get something to eat, watch some TV, play with my cat, do dishes, etc. I cannot concentrate well enough to read more than a page of a book right now, so going to a bookstore or a library no longer interests me, although they are generally my favorite places to go when I am able to concentrate well enough to read. I take my medication around 8-9 PM, and then I go to bed, early. I need a lot of sleep as my meds all exhaust me, and I take most of my meds at night because of their severe side effects - serious fatigue, etc, which are easier to deal with during sleep than when you're trying to get something done.
Because I have to take the antipsychotics at night, they generally don't work well for me the later it gets into the following day. So, for example, by the end of my day at work, every single thing I hear is convoluted. Everybody is speaking double speak. Delusions are everywhere. My medication is completely not working at all at that time of day. It is like this every day of my life right now.

I will add more to this post as I think of more to add. It is a fluid topic, and not one I can easily conclude and wrap up in a box.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil

I was just watching a documentary on the IFC channel about people who committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. One of the people who jumped, but lived, said that his thought at the time was the Bible verse, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil." I almost committed suicide myself in 2004, and that verse was what I recited to myself when I lay on the bathroom floor with a loaded .357 magnum in my hand.

I had many suicide plans and numerous attempts. One of my plans was to go to San Francisco and jump, like so many do, from the Golden Gate Bridge. What I would like people to understand about that, particularly people who have, themselves, never been suicidal, is that you can, literally, save someone's life if you intervene. People in this documentary discussed not wanting to put their friend or family member into a psychiatric hospital, not believing medications would help them, and assuming it was inevitable that the people would commit suicide, or that it was so out of the ordinary, they never could have predicted it at all. People stopped me from committing suicide. Obviously, the main person to stop you if you don't go through with it is yourself, but I almost did go through with it, and what stopped me was my friend, my family, and some policemen with guns drawn who put me in handcuffs and carted me away.

There's nothing romantic or dignified or memorable about the police carting you off to a psychiatric ward to lock you up and force you to live. But I would argue that there is also nothing very romantic or memorable or dignified about committing suicide. I would suggest that people do ask questions, that they do make phone calls, that they do alert the police, that they do have someone locked in a psych ward if that is the only way to keep the person alive. I'm not saying it is anyone else's responsibility to keep someone alive, but it is possible to assist someone who wants to die in not committing the act "successfully".

When I calmly browsed internet forums about suicide, asking for advice on fool-proof method (although in the U.S. to give such advice is technically illegal), I didn't tell the people I was communicating with that I believed I was Jesus and I was going to be hung on a cross, or that I believed I was Anne Frank or an alien or L. Ron Hubbard, or that a modern day Holocaust was occurring. I did, however, think all of these things all the time back then. When I walked, calmly, into a gun store and purchased a lethal weapon, claiming I needed it for self-protection, and when I bought safety slug bullets, so they wouldn't go through my body and kill someone else, and when I went to the shooting range to learn how to use the gun, I did not tell the people who assisted me in my preparations to end my life that I was also insane.

I did not know I was mentally ill. Most unmedicated, psychotic people do not know they are psychotic, and I was no exception. I very well could have died the night I lay in the bathroom with a Bible and a gun, after preparing gifts and checks for my family members and friends, after writing my living will and my goodbye letters, after deciding there was no choice at all but to end it now...I could have died. People assisted me in saving my life. So I believe in interference. I believe that we have a responsibility to our fellow woman and man to say, "Hey, I'm worried about you. Let me help you." I believe that it is okay to have someone's dignity taken away in order to keep that person alive so they can know what dignity really is for another day. I believe that suicide is a preventable problem.

I just wanted to say that here.

When I was suicidal, I found, easily, people online who were perfectly willing to help me plan my death. Now, if I had, say, asked them to help me plan someone else's murder, I don't think many people would defend their right to help me do that or my right to commit the murder. There is this rather troubling idea that many people have, however, that suicide is a human right. I can understand that if the person is dying of a physical illness, and they are mentally stable, and they want to end their life. However, a mentally ill person is not mentally stable, and many of us with mental illness, who will go to great lengths to plan every detail of our suicide when we are sick and not on medication, are completely glad to be alive, later, when we are on medication and our minds are working better. I don't think people should tell a young woman on the internet what kind of gun she should by to be sure she dies when she blows her head off. I don't think there is any logical explanation for someone giving out that sort of advice, particularly on the internet when they have no idea what the person they are talking to is actually dealing with.

By the time I got to the point of nearly shooting myself, I had already overdosed numerous times over many years, totaled a car by smashing it into the side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge while trying to drive over the guardrail to kill myself, and contemplated all sorts of other methods. I had spent many hours, over many years, at the Skyway Bridge thinking of jumping. I had counted pills, researched pills, and figured out lethal dosages countless times. I had tried to suffocate myself with a plastic bag. I had tried to die.

During my most serious attempt before the gun incident, I successfully lied to the police and the emergency room doctor to prevent them from sending me to a concentration camp, which I thought was what they would do if they believed I was mentally ill. My mother, I learned years later, had pleaded with them to keep me in the hospital, over the phone, because she knew this was no accident and I was trying to kill myself. They sent me home, in a cab, alone, with donated clothes on. I laid in bed hallucinating for days or weeks after that. I don't know how long. I never saw the car I crashed - which was my mom's car, but she and my brother saw it and they both said they could not believe I had survived that crash.

Now, I'm not saying that the doctor or the policeman who sent me home are at fault for what they did, but I am saying they made a serious mistake. If I had gone on to kill myself, it would have been, obviously my own choice, but that would have been a choice made by a flagrantly psychotic brain who had no sense of reality at all. I could not make a rational decision to die or to live at that time. I needed help. I believe that most people who choose to die don't really, completely want to die when they are feeling like themselves. I believe that if we can ride out these dark moments of the soul rather than indulging in the idea that there is something romantic about jumping from a bridge, then we have the chance to live our lives and find fulfillment. I don't think the people who created the film I watched tonight were doing much to assist the people who they videotaped as the people killed themselves, rather than interfering.

I believe in interference. I believe that the valley of the shadow of death is created by neurochemicals and is a place from which one can escape.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

there goes my brain again......and Dar Williams!

I went to a concert last night. It was Dar Williams, who is one of my favorite musicians, and two opening acts, Jesse Harris, and Joshua Radin, who were also great. I took my friend Kathy, and wasn't sure she would like the music, but she did, which was good. She made me let her pay for her ticket, although I had planned on paying for them myself, since it was completely my idea to go.

Anyway, so I'm sitting there in this concert, and lo and behold, there goes my brain again, doing it's wacky things. So I became convinced one of the musicians was looking directly at me, as I am prone to thinking that sort of thing when my brain goes AWOL on me. I told myself, "remember when you thought this about Ani Difranco too? She even wrote a song about a girl who thinks she's looking right at her while she sits in the audience..." so I tried to reason with my brain that, just as Ani was never looking directly at me, neither was this guy who was, I should also mention, one of the most attractive guys I have ever seen in my entire life. I'm sure that he has plenty of people to actually look at, and many of them are likely beautiful, thin, and younger than I am. So, it's not as though I actually believed this person was looking at me. I was just getting that message sent to my self from my mis-wired brain, as it were. When I got home, I was thinking about all the things I need to fix and change in my self and my life in order to be able to actually attract a guy like this one, as if that would ever happen, or, as if it actually mattered if it happened.

Luckily, I woke up this morning clear in thought, and had no ridiculous notions about the guy. But, I woke up still thinking about a past boyfriend and a past friend who was never my boyfriend but who I always dreamed about as if he were (and who has also not spoken to me in some six months now), and I woke up with that empty loneliness you feel when the realization truly hits you that you are, actually, very alone in the world. I hate that goddamn realization. It happens to me frequently.

So I went to work today, and I tried, as I always try, to ignore all the people speaking in double speak, all the people talking to me about the Holocaust or telling me I'm going to end up walking to a concentration camp where I'll die, or telling me basically to die right now. I always have to ignore this crap now, and it seems like it's been quite a while since the last time when this stuff left me alone and my brain was devoid of bizarre wackiness.

So then, on this day, when, obviously, I am a bit shaky already, when I have a cold and am convinced the cold medicine is affecting my mind and mental processes, today, on THIS DAY, my boss has to decide to take her wrath out on me about a bunch of nonsensical, stupid little things no rational human being would ever care about at all. My boss, though I don't think I've mentioned this hear before, is a bit of a pain in the ass and not a rational person. So I did what I know how to do, smiled, said, "okay, thank you", etc. and tried not to yell or run out of the room as my brain would have preferred me to do. I thought about quitting, since, quite frankly I'd make more money at McDonald's than I make in this stupid job, and I'd probably have less of a headache, but I decided, no, I need this job, and the satisfaction of telling my boss to go to hell would not exceed the amount of stress and problems that being jobless would bring down upon my head.

So, I took my lunchbreak, cursed her mentally, listened to some music, drank some liquid love (aka Diet Coke, elixir of the gods), and returned to my desk to finish the day (which I am still in the process of finishing).

I know I can do more than this. I know that I could walk out of here right now and find another job, but the thing is, I spent eight months jobless before I came to work here, and I know that I did not possess much motivation to take on the task of securing employment then, so it is not all that likely I would do a better job of it in my present state.

I know that I can lose weight, too. I know that I used to be super-skinny and relatively attractive, neither of which I am at this time. I know I used to be able to find guys to go out with easily, via online dating, and I had no trouble with it, at that time (which was a time when I was manic but didn't know it), but now, frankly I don't even have a remote bit of self esteem left about my appearance, and there is no way in hell I would try to go on a date with anyone at all. Ever.

I know that I need to stop it with the Diet Coke. Stop using plastic cups, and what's worse - the disposable cups! Stop destroying my body and this planet with plastic and caffeine and Nutrasweet. I know my therapist has given me entire book chapters to read that she dutifully copied for me with some aging Xerox machine at the community mental health center and I, for god's sake, should at least show some appreciation for her efforts to save me from my wanton desires to consume caffeinated beverages with no calories in them. I know that it's not really funny or healthy when everybody who knows you thinks you need an IV going into your arm to give yourself your daily soda consumption. I know I should care about this. I should care about everything and everybody. But I'm human, so, I don't always care.

I know I should be over my friend who I miss all the time from the years I spent writing to him, and who, for good reason probably, doesn't talk to me anymore. But I'm not over that, for whatever reason. I can't get past it.

I know I should still run the weekly support group meetings for people with Schizophrenia that I did last year, but I don't want to and I don't think it matters to anybody anyway.

I guess my problem boils down to a lot of apathy. Which is ugly and frightening and not something I like to admit to, but it is true, nonetheless.

What's also true, though, is that I do CARE about a great, great, great many things and many people, but I also live with daily, frequent auditory hallucinations and mental delusions with which other people would not be able to cope any better than I do, and which my brain is, technically, NOT SUPPOSED TO BE CREATING ANYMORE, because I am on enough medications to kill a whole field full of cattle, and it is quite obviously not working. And that, that little factoid, is really not my fault. That is just a fact of life.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Out of the Shadow: an excellent documentary

I recently purchased the film, Out of the Shadow, which is directed by Susan Smiley, an advocate whose mother has Schizophrenia. The film chronicles her mother's life within the Illinois mental health system, and the various places she lives or stays in (hospitals, etc.) over a six-year period. Her mother, Millie, does not have insight into her disease, and is not aware she is sick or needs medication, so she only takes medication reluctantly, and she frequently stops taking them. For those of us who do have insight into our illnesses, this is the tale that, "but for the grace of...." go we. Millie has a difficult life, and her daughters, with their then-undiagnosed mother, had a very difficult childhood. But this film, unlike any Hollywood rendition of mental illness, is accurate, honest in its portrayals, and informative for those who do not understand this illness. For those who have experience with the illness, this film offers a reassuring affirmation that our work to combat stigma is not happening in vein, and that there are people like us who understand and relate to our struggles.

I recommend that you visit the website of Out of the Shadow, and, if you can, purchase the film. If you purchase it through NAMI, twenty percent of the cost of the DVD will be donated to NAMI, which is, of course, an excellent organization always in need of funds.