Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shooting of a policeman by a man with severe mental illness, in Tampa

Recently, a man who, according to his family who I heard interviewed on the news, had a severe mental illness and was totally psychotic (eg, he heard voices, talked to them, and said things that made no sense), shot and killed a police officer in Tampa. The shooter, himself, was also a police officer in the Virgin Islands for several years.

When I heard the news, right after this happened, a woman was being interviewed who stated she was a cousin of the shooter, Humberto Delgado. From her descriptions of him and his behavior it was clear that he likely had Schizophrenia. He was also, according to this cousin, homeless because his uncled had kicked him out of his house as he wanted his dog to live with him. He had said he would rather live on the streets than give up his dog. This brought to mind my own history. I was homeless more than once for reasons that would make no sense to a person whose mind is working correctly. I never lived on the streets, but I did live in a car for a few weeks, which isn't much better.

Unlike Delgado, I had never been a police officer or a member of the military, and had no collection of guns or any experience ever holding or shooting or owning a gun in my life. However, deep into psychosis, I became obsessed with obtaining a gun. Despite believing I was Jesus and Anne Frank, that the world was soon to end in a Holocaust, and that people secretly eat humans, I was still able to present an appearance of a "normal" person, to those who did not talk with me in depth. I was able to walk into a gun store, buy a gun, and buy ammunition for it, that could kill me (which was the goal). I was able to drive to a shooting range, get some men there to show me how to shoot, and practice, telling them that I was only doing this for self-defense. I held this .357 Magnum in my hands, in front of people, and these people, at the shooting range, were not, apparently, alarmed. After all, I don't look much like Delgado. I'm female. I'm white. At the time, I was also very thin and relatively attractive. I dressed in decent clothes, and I showered at least somewhat regularly. I did not look like a "crazed maniac", or any other stereotypes of a person with a serious mental illness. Yet, I was completely psychotic.

On the day that I ended up in the hospital for the visit that resulted in my diagnosis with Schizophrenia, I was accosted by a group of policemen. I had a loaded gun a few yards away, in the trunk of my car. I never planned to shoot anyone but myself. In fact, the Glazer safety slug bullets I purchased were bought because I had learned that these would explode upon impact (with my body), and supposedly they wouldn't go through the wall of my apartment or any other place to hit anyone other than myself. I had planned on shooting myself in that apartment, so I wanted to be sure I would not injure or kill another person when I did the deed. The police who came when someone called 911 about me that day had heard I might have a gun, and did not know if I had it on me. They did not know what my history was, or why I would have purchased a gun. They had no way of knowing if I was going to hurt someone else, or myself. So they yelled at me, asking if I was Jennifer Robinson. Then they yelled at me to get up against the fence and put my hands up (or something to that effect), and the next thing I knew I was slammed up against the fence. I totally understand why they had to do that now, though I didn't know what was happening at the time. "What did I do??!" I asked. "I didn't do anything!"

Five years later, I could say that something different could have been done. But, really, they did what they had to do. And in that situation, it worked out okay. I complied with exactly what they told me to do. I got handcuffed, and put into the squad car. When they had searched my car and asked me whose gun that was, I said, "It's miine, which I legally purchased."

I didn't fight back. I also didn't have a gun on my body at the time that the police arrived. I didn't have any urges to hurt anyone else, and I didn't have any voices telling to hurt anyone else. Just myself. In short, I was really damned lucky.

It could have been so much different. And if the situation was infused with other social conditioning, if I had been a large, black man disheveled hair, and a gun in my hand, maybe, just maybe, I would not be here to write this. Because, in truth, people with Schizophrenia are a lot more likely to be the ones who end up dead in these situations, than the police are. I am not saying this to undermine the horrible tragedy of a police officer's death. Rather, I'm just pointing out a simple fact.

I feel terrible for both families in this situation: the family of the police officer, and the family of the mentally ill man now in jail for killing him. What I hate about this situation is the consequences it will have. Inevitably, after an incident like this, people with mental illnesses are portrayed with ugly stereotypes, broad generalizations, and insulting discriminatory words in the media. People call this man a monster, not just because of what he did, but because of the illness that he has. The serious nature of mental illness, and the funds needed to address it, are ignored in these articles and broadcasts. The fact that we need more Crisis Intervention Training in Florida and throughout the United States is ignored in these reports. The way that Crisis Intervention Training has proven to be successful in causing fewer such incidents to occur is also ignored. The "crazed maniac" is considered a monster who chose to be a monster, rather than a person whose actions were dictated by uncontrollable voices in his mind due to a condition he didn't cause or create.

So, I feel sorry for both of the victims here: the police officer, Corporal Mike Roberst, and the man who shot him, Humberto Delgado.

Not everyone would understand that statement. Probably most wouldn't. But that's how I feel, having lived in my own shoes.

Two former presidents of our NAMI chapter, Don and John, wrote a letter which was published in the St. Petersburg Times op/ed section about this issue. I hope you will take a moment to read it.

Edited, to add: Here's an older post on the topic of mental illness and crime.

Monday, August 24, 2009

tapering off Seroquel (err, oops) and depression

I'm feeling depressed. I hate depression, so I'm setting my hopes on the possibility that this is just a very temporary thing, and that tomorrow, or the next day, I will feel like myself again. As this correlates with my tapering off of Seroquel, I blame this on the Seroquel situation. I think I also messed up. I sort of forgot the schedule by which I was supposed to taper off of it. I don't know if it was one week or one month that I was supposed to remain on 400 mgs, before going down to 200 mgs. I know how stupid that sounds. Trust me, if anybody knows how to take medication properly, I think that I have mastered it (and this is the only thing I've mastered!). I take over 20 pills a day. I know all of the things I need to know about all of them. I have a list of all of them on my computer, to print out and take to doctors. I know what I'm doing. But this time, with this medication, I screwed up.

I mentioned the bees here before. I mentioned that the psychotic symptoms hit me like a bee buzzing by my face. I keep noticing them. I hope that they are temporary. I try to convince myself they are nothing to worry about. I try to ignore them. I always make myself decipher them to the best of my ability and convince myself the noises are just in my head, etc. But sometimes, they get to me, still. I don't feel like saying much more about this at the moment. If it becomes a big issue again, I'll deal with it. I've done that before. It's not a big deal right now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

sometimes things are aggravating....the weight gain/loss (or lost for now at least) cycle and life at my job

Thank you to everyone who has been leaving comments. I read them all and appreciate them. I've been trying to keep up with other people's blogs, though I really don't have enough time right now to do it much. Some that I have come across are listed on the left of this page, in case you didn't notice the change.

My job is a bit aggravating right now. I work for a college, and when it's just about time for a new semester to start, all hell breaks lose around here. Everybody and their mother wants to sign up to become a student, get through the entire registration process, and take classes all within 24-48 hours, it seems. People waiting till the month before, I can understand. People waiting till 5 days before class starts to enroll, I do not understand. Why so many people do this confuses me. I will never understand it.

As the college where I work accepts anyone with a high school diploma, we tend to get a lot of prospective students who are not necessarily prepared to go to college. I have sympathy for these people, but occasionally the process of explaining what a college credit it is and how a college operates gets tedious and annoying. Topping this off, a lot of the people who call are not even the prospective students; they're the mothers of the prospective students. Why someone cannot make a phone call by herself or himself about something as important as attending college confounds me.

I also feel a bit pathetic that I'm not in college right now myself. This is the school I have gone to, off and on, for some 15 years now. I want to finish my degree. I need only about three classes to do so. But I can't afford to take classes right now, as I'm totally broke and not eligible for a loan right now. Also, I can't concentrate well enough to read a book. This is the main reason I can't go to school right now. It's not to say that I'll never finish my degree, but I'm losing hope as time goes by, and nothing helps me concentrate any better. None of the medications seem to help me with this problem. I'm not looking to get any new prescriptions though. I'd much rather be putting an end to my relationship with Seroquel, Anafranil and Klonopin, permanently. So far I have the doc's approval to say syanara to Seroquel soon, and that's good. But, my last appointment with my ARNP is my last appointment with her, ever, as Medicare says she's not in possession of the proper credentials to be treating patients. So, next time, I'll be seeing yet another new ARNP.

Today I had an appointment with the endocrinologist who's prescribing my thyroid medications and my diet pill, Phentermine. I've lost 32 pounds, since April. That's the good news. I expected the doctor to share in my happiness about this, but he, apparently, did not think it was so great. He said, "This medication is a crutch, you know. You cannot stay on it forever." Um, yeah, I do know. I think about that all the time, every day. "You can maybe stay on it for another six months." That is a change from last time, when he said I could stay on it for up to two years. Six months? Not so good. I cannot possibly get back down to a normal, healthy wait for my height in six months, unless I'm going to turn into Jane Fonda overnight. I'm already eating only 1200 calories a day, which is, basically, starvation according to some sources (or a great feat according to others). I walk about 45 minutes almost every day. This is as fast as it's going to go for me. Besides, losing about two pounds a week is considered a healthy way to lose weight. Going faster than that is not.

And the doctor pointed out that my health is the main concern. He said he had to watch for side effects and heart trouble, something that I believe he never mentioned when he put me on this medication. So I was a bit surprised by that. I was also really disappointed that I'll have only a few months left to complete this major weight loss challenge. And then. What? I don't know.....

If I have to stay on Risperdal injections and pills the rest of my life, I can live with that, IF, I do not go back to gaining weight all the time. The trouble is, I tend to gain weight all the time when I'm on this medication, no matter what I do. I watched what I ate, and I still gained weight. I exercised, and I still gained weight. I never, ever LOST ONE POUND before I started on this medication, Phentermine. My body simply could not do it, thanks to the psychiatric meds. At this point, I am going to make a goal of getting off Anafranil, Klonopin, and definitely Seroquel in the next five months. I want to get rid of everything that might be adding to the weight gain issue, and all of those are possible culprits. Then, if I go off Phentermine and start gaining again, I'll know it's the Risperdal. And I'm not going to remain on Risperdal if that happens.

I refuse to agree to be obese for the rest of my life, just so that I can avoid psychosis. This is utterly ridiculous in the year 2009 that there is no treatment for Schizophrenia that works for a huge number of huge people without causing obesity. It's really ridiculous. It's as if the medical community thinks, "Hey, they're already mentally ill, what do they care if they end up overweight? At least they're not peeing on the sidewalk!"

If this were any other kind of illness, people would be outraged about this problem. I am telling you, out of the dozens of people with serious mental illnesses that involve psychosis who I've met, 80% of them were obese by the time they had been on meds for a year or so. That's not an exaggeration. I am going to guess that it's actually the norm for people on antipsychotic meds to end up overweight. This is not some minor problem. It's a major issue. Our life expectancy is 25 years LESS than the average person's life expectancy when the person does not have Schizophrenia. That bothers me. This is my LIFE we're talking about here. It happens to matter to me. I don't plan on going to an early grave from heart disease just so I can avoid getting put into a hospital or losing my sanity. I think there should be a way for me to keep my sanity and maintain a healthy body weight at the same time. Is that really too much to ask for from the medical community in 2009??!!

Every doctor I've met, who I've spoken to about this (there have been about eight of them), has told me, "Just walk and watch your portions". Bullshit. I walked. I watched my portions. I took Dexatrim and drank green tea. I TRIED to lose weight on my own. It did not happen. Not only did I not LOSE any weight at all, rather, I GAINED weight whilst trying to lose it! I blame this mostly on my medication and partly on my low thyroid. It just really disturbs me that I am doing so much to lose this weight, and I believe I will manage to lose quite a bit, but then I have to face a future of taking Risperdal, and possibly gaining it all back again. I don't know what I'll do in that situation, but I don't think I'll remain on Risperdal.

Anyway....this post is starting to sound like a list of complaints! Sorry about that. I do have other news. I was asked to run for a position on the board of directors for an organization I'm part of, and I think I'm going to do that. So that should be interesting, as I've never done anything quite like that before. It would be an opportunity to gain experience in a new field (not that the job I have now is acctually in any field other than "answering the phone"), and meet new people, perhaps make friends, I don't know. We'll see how it goes. A friend did mention to me that I tend to get worse when I get stressed out by too many obligations or other issues. I am taking that into consideration. It could turn out to be too much - trying to manage my job, this volunteer work, NAMI, and going back to school in the future. But I'll try my best. That's all one can do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On this day in 1920...

....American women finally won the right to vote!!

That's right, women did not have the right to vote as citizens of the United States until August 18, 1920.

For more facts and history you never learned in school about women's lives, visit my women's studies site and the section on the suffrage movement, here (I made these pages ten years ago, but they're still useful):


or here:


You also may wish to check out old articles on the suffrage movement from the New York Times, on this site:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stereotypes, stigma, and beaurocratic red tape (SSDI Saga Continues)

As promised, I am (for now, at least), mentioning the negative stereotypes and insulting portrayals of people who live with mental illnesses, when I catch them, on TV, in movies, etc. So last night, not more than a couple of hours after my last post, I was watching Law and Order: Criminal Intent. The police captain said about the "psychotic" boy in this episode: "When I hear psychotic, I think murder."

And that right there says it all, folks. That right there is the crux of the problemo. It ticked me off, of course, but rather than try to forget this incident of flagrant discrimination and ignorance, I decided to make a point of telling you all about it as soon as I got the chance. As the sentence was so offensive, I remembered it so far, and just wanted to share that with you to sort of reiterate what I was saying in my last post.

I also wanted to write again to mention something. I'm getting frequent, little episodes of voices. It's really annoying, and I thought (perhaps too soon?) that this was behind me for the long haul. But it's not severe, either. It could be a million times worse than this. I just hear people whispering while I'm at work. I hear people calling my name. And I still have the classic problem of thinking I hear my phone ringing when it's not (this is something that has always happened to me for years). I get sick of this stuff, because, as you know, I've been doing well with Risperdal, and I wanted to think I was going to never have auditory hallucinations more than a few times per week for the rest of my life, but, of course I knew better than to make that assumption. So, luckily, this doesn't really come as a big surprise.

Also, in another episode of the ongoing, and extremely boring story of my Social Security Saga, I paid a visit to the state's Medicaid office today. And I have to tell you about that. First of all, why is it, exactly, that people who work for offices which issue public benefits to citizens seem to believe that they are superior human beings to those clients who they serve (ie, the citizens of this country who have the nerve to need assistance)? Let me explain what happened.....

A week ago, much like the three or four other times this has happened in the past year, I opened my mail to read a letter from Social Security stating that my benefits had been cut. Again. I then embarked on the endless journey of seeking what this letter was talking about, why my benefits were dropped, and how to fix the situation. After being told by an agent at SSA that "we do not have anything to do with this" and that the State of Florida had decided to no longer pay my Medicare premiums, so I needed to contact the State, I began contacting various social services' and health departments' phone numbers, in a long chain of calls that ended when someone said "If I may give you a word of advice, ma'am, you should just go there in person. It'll be a lot easier." I then decided to do the obviously sensible thing in this situation. Go online.

So I got myself a new application for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries program, which was the program that had, for reasons unknown to me, cut me off. I filled it out. Then, today, I took it to the Medicaid office, as, the state of Florida's Medicaid program is the program that runs the QMB program. (As I'm sure you were all aware, just like any other rational person would be!) I then encountered a person who I will refer to as Rude Government Wench, because she is not deserving of a kinder title than that. She told me to go to the copy machine, make a copy of my driver's license and Medicare card, and give it to someone. I gave it to her. She then said, "I CAN'T EVEN READ THIS NUMBER! What's wrong with your card??!!" Um, my card is a few years old and it's a little wrinkled, but no worse for the wear. I can read the numbers on it without a problem, and my vision sucks. So I said, apologetically that my card is old, and I was sorry.

She then said, looking me up and down (I am wearing a dress), "Do you WORK?" Yes. I work. "Well then that's probably why you're not eligible. Your probably have too high an income." No, I work part-time, 20 hours per week. My income was higher than this two years ago and I was eligible then, so I should still be eligible....."I KNOW WHAT YOU DID WRONG!! You didn't turn in your income verification!!" I have no idea what she is talking about now. What income verification? "You were supposed to send in your income verification." I heard you the first time. What are you talking about please? "IF YOU DON'T SEND IN YOUR INCOME THEN IT'S YOUR FAULT YOU'RE NOT IN THE PROGRAM ANYMORE." I think for a moment, about how inane this entire conversation is, and ponder whether or not I want to continue participating in the dialogue with Rude Government Wench. I don't. I say to her, I did not know I was supposed to turn in any information. I did not get a letter asking me for information. I do not know how I was supposed to know that you wanted it. "Well, I don't know what you were dropped for, but it's probably your income. How much money do you make?" I tell her how much I make. "How much do you get in a check?" I tell her. "Well that's probably too high anyway then. You were probably not eligible at all."

I continue in this inane conversation despite my internal knowledge that is futile. I say, I was eligible last year and the year before. My income has GONE DOWN. There is no way my income was too high now. "You need to do another application, I guess. I think your income is too high." I look at Rude Governmment Wench. I think about strangling her. No, really, I don't. I think about what a rude person she is, and how odd it is that she is assuming by looking at me that I make too much money to be deserving some measly government benefits that don't even add up to two hundred dollars a month to pay for a Medicare premium, that I obviously don't need since I'm making so much money and all. I think, perhaps you should live a day in the life of a person with a disability and see how much fun it is and how rich you get, wench. I tell her, I already did another application, and I pull it out of my purse. She says, "OH you already DID IT? WELL..." As IF the fact that I know how to use a computer, go on the internet, find the application, print it out, fill it out, and bring it there without someone holding my hand during this process is proof in full that I have no disability and am making a lot of money and I don't need these benefits. I leave.


I drive and scream and scream and drive for about five minutes. Then I feel better. I know I can always go online later and complain about this incident on my blog, after all. No need to be a screaming maniac in a car, alone. But, really, I don't want to bore you readers with any more of this saga. So, I'll stop now. And, yes, I know that it is horribly sexist to use the word "wench", but anybody who doubts my feminism doesn't know me well. I had to use that word. The worse ones are more offensive. I just write about this, in truth, to illustrate to people what life is like on government benefits, even when you only are on them because you absolutely have to be (which is probably the case with most people who receive them), and you wish you didn't need them, but you unfortunately do. The myth of the welfare queens really is just a myth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

a forest of hatred (here I go on my soap box again....)

So the other night I was watching the show "The Closer" with Kyra Sedgwick on TNT, and, as so often happens on shows about crime and the police, there was a character with Schizophrenia. Of course, unlike most people with Schizophrenia in real life, this character appeared to be mentally retarded. He spoke with an odd, puzzling manner and described his "friends" which were his visual hallucinations. This boy (and one can only call this person a boy since he behaved like a young child below the age of seven even though he looked to be around 25), was being accused of murder, since, for reasons that made no sense, he confessed to killing a man who he did not actually kill. He rambled about how he killed the person, telling the Kyra Sedgwick character (who's the police chief), about the murder as she looked at him as if he were a specimen in a petri dish. To "test" this guy's honesty, a young woman was sitting on the other side of a window where he could see her. She was real, but the police had put her there to confuse the boy with Schizophrenia and test whether or not he knew if she was real!! Unbelievable? Of course. Like most media representations of people with mental illness, this was insulting and idiotic.

I see things like this so often - these "wacko", "crazy" "lunatics" and "nutjobs" in books, on television, and in movies, that I don't write about them all here as doing so would take up a great deal of my time and result in making me seriously annoyed on a regular basis. But I am annoyed already. This is not right.

I have this illness. Therefore, I have a real reason to care about how this illness is portrayed in the media. But more than that, I think that all people in this world have a reason to care about how people with mental illnesses are portrayed in the media, because if 1 in 4 people is affected by a mental illness (as some statistics indicate), chances are that you, or a member of your family, or a friend of yours, has a mental illness. And if you don't care about it for that fact, you might care because of the sheer immorality in portraying people with psychiatric disorders as if they are stupid, unkempt, and intellectually disordered.

As Pastor Martin Niemoller once wrote (or is thought to have written), "First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

In other words, when discrimination takes place, there is a reason for everyone to care. Not just people immediately affected, but the people, all the people, who can potentially be discriminated against. In a society that allows for mental illness to be cast into a wasteland of ugly stereotypes, it is only a matter of time before racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred are prevalent and widely accepted. Oh. Wait. That's right, those already are prevalent and widely accepted. I was thinking of my future life in Utopia.

But seriously, people. Why do we allow this blatant hatred to exist? Why is the term "stigma" even a necessary part of the English language? How long do we wait before we start complaining? This is a question every person must ask herself. I asked myself this as I sat on the couch getting ticked off the other night. And the only answer I could come up with is, every time. We have to care every time. I have to care. I do care. And I should say something about these incidents more often. It's not just enough to get the NAMI Stigma Busters emails as I already do - though that is an excellent starting point if you are not already subscribed to that email list. I also need to make a point of mentioning these incidents here. Because every time a person with a mental illness is displayed as a freakish, stupid, foolish, unkempt, dirty, criminal, evil, disturbing person on television, or in a movie, or in a book, it affects society, and that seed of hatred is planted once again. Pretty soon after that you get another hatred tree. We have a whole Amazon full of hate as it is. We really don't need to add to that global pandemic by making things worse!

I don't mean to sound too dramatic, but seriously - prejudice is a major problem within the human race and it's a problem that we can fix. People need to keep that in mind. I think the main reason people don't stop making fun of certain other groups of people is that they don't understand the effects of their words. People don't easily spot the link between a depraved "Schizophrenic" serial killer on a TV show like Law and Order, and, say, the Holocaust. But there is a connection. Hatred breeds more hatred, like a tree growing branches. It has to be stopped. And, I might add, a lot of people with mental illnesses were slaughtered in the Holocaust.

I am vowing to myself that I will speak up more frequently about the portrayals of people with mental illnesses in mass media that are ridiculous and insulting. I have written letters in the past to advertisers about this, but I need to write more. I am glad that there are a number of people, including some of you reading this, who are also aware and keeping track of this problem in our society. It's not right or fair, and it must be stopped.

And here's the page where you can sign up for the NAMI Stigma Busters email list.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

life is not a walk in the park, but I am fortunate in many ways

I complained at length in my last post, so I'll spare you any whining here, as I hate whiny people and don't particularly want to be one.

So, my sister who's 27 has moved back to the area. She was living in New York for college. She has graduated and I went to her graduation a couple of months ago. She needs a place to stay, and I offered my couch, though she may have another option she prefers instead. My place is super-clean right now. I straightened it up. Did I mention the mega cleaning session I did on my bedroom a couple of weeks ago? (I think I did but I'll mention it again.....) I had a ton of old clothes that I never looked at, much less wear, as they did not fit me at all anymore. Because of my weight gain, they were tucked away, but because of the size of my apartment, they were not really out of the way. They were in the way. So I got them out of the way. I took them to the Salvation Army and donated all five of the giant bags full of clothes. I love the Salvation Army, and this particular guy who works there, who is probably an ex-convict volunteering there to complete some community service. He is friendly. I bought a vanity there for my bedroom a couple of weeks ago. This guy tied the pieces down to my car. I carried them all up the steps to my apartment and put the thing back together myself. I was a little proud of this. I am not a very muscular or strong person, so I thought for sure I'd need some guy to help me, but I managed without one. I have no guy I could ask anyway, other than my neighbor or one of the many homeless men who live in my neighborhood.

So my bedroom is more tidy right now than it has been in the previous three years that I've lived in that apartment. The place looks great, except for the carpet. My vacuum cleaner broke. I had bought it because my mom broke the last one I owned. Then I broke this one. I have no clue how to fix it, but there is a guide on how to do anything somewhere on the interwebs waiting for people to find it. So maybe I'll fix the thing somehow.

I feel better when my environment is tidy and clean. It's not a common feeling, since I am a generally messy person, but I always like the feeling when I have the opportunity to enjoy it. I always resolve to be more neat and tidy in the future. I rarely live up to that resolution. I'm convinced there is a glitch in my brain that makes staying organized something very difficult for me. But it's not that it's impossible. I just always find something else I'd rather do than clean. Like nothing - ha. Sometimes I do nothing when I intend to be cleaning. I just watch TV and think about how difficult the mess would be to conquer. But more often than not these days, I get off my butt, and I clean the place. And then I'm glad I did so. Somebody I used to be friends with once told me that instead of the phrase "a mind is a terrible thing to waste", rather "a waste is a terrible thing to mind." I lived by that axiom much of my life. But others never seem to understand why you pile your clothing on the floor rather than "waste" your time folding it. As I get old (I feel very old) -er I find it more important to me that I conform to social norms like keeping a clean house.

I've lost 26 pounds to date. I eat 1200 calories a day, every day. I've been doing that for months. I walk 45 minutes or so almost every day. I work out at physical therapy once a week and am soon graduating from that, but might go to the physical therapy place to exercise on my own if I can afford the fee for that. I probably can't afford it, but I don't know what the fee is yet, so.....we shall see. I feel better about my appearance, a little bit. My clothes are getting baggy. I fit into some things I was not able to wear for a few months or so. But I still have to lose 50-60 pounds to be happy with my weight. So I'm part of the way there, but prepared for the long haul too.

What worries me is what will happen when I have to stop taking Phentermine. That is the appetite suppressant I'm taking. It's a prescription and the doctor who prescribes it told me you only take it for one-two years. Then you stop. The problem is I'll be taking antipsychotics, which are the reason I gained all this weight, for the rest of my life. This is not a "win-win situation". I'll have to figure something out. I know that when I lose all the weight, there will be no force that will make me put it all back on. I am determined to have a decent body again, one which does not disgust me every time I look in a mirror or cause people to comment on my fat-ness. As a feminist, I am tempted to bite my tongue and not admit that my body makes me sick when I look at it, but as a real person who has a real weight problem (and not just a history of anorexia like in the past), I am just being honest here. I never have seen any point in lying in this blog. The whole point of it is to tell my truth. So, yes, I hate being overweight. And I'm going to do everything in my power to end that problem for myself, even if it's extremely difficult.

The funny thing is, when I looked at those old clothes I gave away, I could not recall ever being so thin that they actually fit me. They weren't from ten years ago or anything. They were from three and four years ago. And I do recall wearing them. But when I looked at them, I thought, "My god, I've never been that skinny!". Because, since I still do have the old tapes of anorexia playing in my head, I thought I was fat, even when I was a size four. That's ridiculous! I'd love to be a size four now, and probably never will be again. But when I was a size four, I disliked my body even then! That's because of the mental problem of an eating disorder. I'm convinced a person never gets rid of that mental component completely, even after all the weight is normalized and the health is better, physically. I still had anorexia in my head three and four years ago, despite thinking it was long ago in the past. Also, my boyfriend Jim told me, later, after I had gained too much weight, "You were getting fat when I met you". I was a size four when I met him and also a year after I met him. So that goes to tell you something about him, not just about me. I don't miss him anymore.

There are two nice parks where I live. I walk in one of them each day that I go for a walk. I see all these misfortunate folks who live in the parks, and I think, "there but for the grace of the universe....." I don't particularly believe in God. But I believe in a higher presence of some kind. I also believe that I have worked my ass off to get to this point, where I am not the person who is living in the park. I am the person who pays rent, lives in an apartment, has a car, pays bills, works, and thinks semi-clearly because she takes medication that works for her some of the time. And I'm grateful for that. Despite the fat it put on me, I'm grateful for Risperdal injections, and, more importantly, I'm grateful for the presence of mind to go and get the injections. I'm grateful to myself for managing that too. I am lucky in many respects.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Screwed over by SSDI yet again

***Warning: This post contains excessive cursing and unapologetic complaining. If you have a problem with that, do not read it.***

I am ticked off. For the third or fourth time in the past year, literally, I just got a letter from Social Security about how they're cutting back my benefits. Again. I have been through this rigmarole so many times, and wasted so many freakin hours of my life stressing over this problem, and sitting in the goddamn waiting room of that goddamn Social Security office, and sitting on the phone for hours and hours with those poorly trained, ignorant people who work for Social Security and never answer the same question the same way twice, and crying, and fretting, and begging my case manager for help...........THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

This agency expects me to live on $404.00 for this month. HOW EXACTLY DOES ONE DO THAT???!!!!

My rent is $500 a month. That doesn't include electricity, cable, car insurance, food, clothes, gas, and HUNDREDS of dollars in medical bills every month. I'm such a welfare queen. I am really living it up here. I'm just partying all the time. People assume that if you are collecting disability and you don't LOOK disabled to them, you are just living off of the government. Well, I'd like these people to try living my life for a few months, and see exactly how enjoyable that is.

When you bypass your pride, when you decide to bite the bullet, when you have absolutely no resources left and absolutely no choice, and you MUST get on disability, you do so because you have no other option left. If I could WORK full time, I would surely be doing so, because, I may not be a neuroscientist, but I have enough job skills to make a bit more than $404 a month! If I didn't NEED disability benefits, I sure as hell WOULD NOT WANT THEM.

Goddamn these people. What is wrong with this idiotic government system that doesn't bother to do anything when certain corporations do fraudulent activities that send the entire US economy into a tailspin, but they have plenty of time to figure out that Jennifer in Clearwater, Florida has earned slightly above the minimum wage at 20 hours per week of work, so she should no longer be receiving this other money that she simply uses to, well, SURVIVE.

I'm not trying to get anyone to feel sorry for me. To the contrary, I can't stand people feeling sorry for me, which is exactly why I HATE dealing with this government bullshit, that requires me to go and plead my case to people who DO NOT KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT PSYCHIATRY and have NO CLUE what it is like to live inside my body every day, yet they think they can determine what I need or do not need to survive. I HATE THIS CRAP MORE THAN I CAN EXPLAIN.

I am so sick of this bullshit, that if I could leave this country and get free healthcare, which will likely never be possible in the United States, somewhere else, anywhere else on this planet, and financially survive somehow, I'd go there! I'd go right now. Just tell me where the boat is, and I'm on it.
This freakin' crap is just ridiculous. I am writing this only because, I know it's not something most people discuss. I know I don't like the entire planet to know that I need help from the government because I hear voices and hallucinate and don't know what reality is much of the time, and can't concentrate to read well enough or learn well enough to get through college or work full-time. I know I don't like discussing the details of my bank account with others. But for GOD'S SAKE somebody needs to talk about this nonsense, and if I don't, then, who will? I might as well just lay it all out there, because SOMETHING has to be done about this system. It needs to change now. Right now. And healthcare needs to be provided to all Americans without expensive deductibles and co-pays and premiums. Healthcare needs to be free, because healthcare is a human right and not a luxury item that should only be afforded to the wealthy and healthy folks of the world. And healthcare, or rather, the lack thereof, is exactly why I am in this situation in the first place, so it is an issue I care about quite a bit. I think it's an issue MOST AMERICANS care about quite a bit, and we're all getting screwed over by the well-funded insurance industry lobbyist assholes who don't care if we live or die.

People need to just say the truth about their situations. We don't get anywhere by pretending it's all rosy, when we're barely able to survive. Why the hell do people on disability not deserve an income that will ALLOW THEM TO LIVE?? WHY?? I REALLY WANT TO KNOW.

Geez.....I am going to scream into a pillow.