Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mental Illness and Gun Control

I am not doing so well right now. I've been under a lot of stress, and a close friend is facing  cancer on top of my own personal problems, so all in all the symptoms are worse because of whatever variable that is that makes them worse, which is always an unknown thing. But I am working on it. Hearing things intermittently, living in squalor, but working on it. I continue to do my job and do it well.

What I want to talk about today is mental illness and guns. I am going to categorically state right here whether you agree with me or not, that nobody with a serious mental illness has any business owning any guns. I also fully believe that nobody else other than a law enforcement officer, if necessary, or a military person, if necessary, needs to own a gun. At all, ever. I couldn't care less about the goddamn 2nd Amendment. Guns are for killing. Automatic weapons are quite decidedly for killing. Guns that are made to shoot dozens of people in three minutes do not belong in anyone's hands. They don't belong in my hands and they don't belong in your hands, and they certainly do not belong in the hands of James Holmes who shot 70 people in a movie theater, in Aurora, Colorado last week.

I know a little bit about guns and mental illness. It isn't yet "proven" that James Holmes has a mental illness. The pundits debate whether he will "fake" a mental illness to defend himself and get away with the murders he supposedly  committed in order to become famous. But I believe James Holmes, a 24 year old bright student, is likely an individual suffering from Schizophrenia. Call him evil if you like, but I believe he has a disease like mine, and I'm not evil, and I don't kill people. Untreated Schizophrenia can lead to suicide, homicide, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and lifelong torment. Those of us who get treatment know it doesn't have to be that way, but not all of us get treatment. I am guessing James Holmes was not getting  treatment, otherwise he would have been justifiably locked inside a hospital and not out shooting people dressed up like the Joker from the Batman movies and comic books. Delusion of reference? Most likely.

What I know about guns and mental illness is what it is like to purchase one with a mental illness that you intend to use to blow your brains out of your tortured head. And that is what I did in 2005.

You don't even have to believe me. I've got some of my medical records.

DATE OF ADMISSION: 5/20/2005

IDENTIFYING DATA: The patient is a 30 year old Caucasian female who apparently has a history of schizophrenia, paranoid type, with schizoaffective disorder, major depressive type, who was admitted for suicidal ideations with a plan.                                   
       CHIEF COMPLAINT: "I just wanted to die".
      
     
It goes on to describe the patient believing she was pregnant for over a year, despite all negative pregnancy tests, the patient not wanting to take psychiatric medications, the patient, "probably joined Scientology", and the patient having not had sex in some time despite believing she was pregnant.

"The patient after that is having significant feelings of guilt and loss of esteem feeling that she cannot live like this anymore and she looked around for a way of committing suicide from internet and from reading books. She found that, the State of Florida, they do not check the background of mental healthcare or the mental illnesses before obtaining a gun. Since she found that, she bought a handgun and it was fully loaded. She was thinking about pulling the trigger. In the meantime she called her brother and expressed concern that she was not doing well and felt that she has abdominal cramps and so she was taken to (blank hospital) emergency room where then later the police were called and the patient was Baker Acted.......The patient stated that, by having a gun, it is likely that she will be successful in her attempt at an overdose, which has also been her backup plan.
        She also has some religious preoccupation, believes that she is Jesus."

These are some of my discharge summary notes when I was being transferred from one hospital to a longer term unit at another one. It was my longest hospital stay. It was the one that saved my life. It was when I was put on Risperdal and when I met my case manager, who is still my case manager today, and when somebody finally, finally told me what mental illness I had. It was my beginning.
James Holmes won't have a beginning, most likely. Just like the lives that he so horribly stole, his is gone too now. Lost to a system of underfunded mental health services, and a society loaded with stigma about mental illness and overflowing with loaded guns easily available to purchase any time. Over 8,400 people die in the US from gunshots every year. When will enough be enough already? When will it be time to start ADEQUATELY FUNDING COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTERS and to start taking away assault rifles? Let me ask you, how many innocent people will die before our country will make that happen.

I can tell you how easy it is to by a gun. You walk into a store, and you fill out a form, and you pay money, and three days later they hand it to you. I had been in psych hospitals about 15 times before I bought a gun. I never intended to hurt anyone, ever, but myself, but why should I have been allowed to shoot my head off? I almost did. I held it loaded in my mouth. If it wasn't for the police taking me away in handcuffs, I would be dead right now.

But I am not dead. I am here to tell you there is hope. There is recovery. You can get better, better enough to go to college, better enough to work, better enough to volunteer, better enough to serve on boards, better enough to go to the doctor when you need to and to the therapist when you need to, better enough to never want to die, better enough to have a very healthy fear of guns. Maybe not totally better. I can't say I am doing great right now. But I am not a 30 year old Caucasian female with a GAF score of 21-30 right now like I was in 2005. I am a hell of a lot better. And I am never going back to that life.

My hope is that, someday, we will be able to talk openly about mental illness, the way we talk about dental problems, diabetes, heart disease, amputated limbs, and other health issues. Because a brain disease is not the same thing as being evil. It's easy to chalk these horrific crimes up to someone being a subhuman evil alien unlike the rest of us "good people". It's too easy. That's a cop-out. This guy is a human being, and it is our responsibility to manage this society so that all human beings, everywhere, can be safe.

Monday, July 16, 2012

She was a January girl


"Black-Dove (January)"






She was a january girl

She never let on how insane it was

In that tiny kinda scary house

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods



Black-dove

Black-dove

You're not a helicopter

You're not a cop out either

Black-dove

Black-dove

You don't need a space ship

They don't know you've already lived

On the other side of the galaxy

The other side of the galaxy

The other side of teh galaxy



She had a january world

So many storms not right somehow

How a lion becomes a mouse

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

But I have to get to TEXAS

Said I have to get to TEXAS

And I'll give away my blue blue dress



Black-dove

Black-dove

You don't need a space ship

They don't know you've already lived

On the other side of the galaxy

The other side of the galaxy

The other side of the galaxy



But I have to get to TEXAS

Said I have to get to TEXAS

And I'll give away my blue blue dress



She has a january girl

She never let on how insane it was

In that tiny kinda scary house

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

By the woods

Black-dove







I was born in January. I group in a house by the woods.  It was very insane. I have always loved this song. My email address used to be blackdove@juno years ago.


Crickets are chirping outside. Like me, I guess they do not sleep at night. I turn to Tori Amos, Dar Williams, Joshua Radin, and other calming singers to help me in these nights. These nights are every night. Tonight I forgot to get my Vistaril refilled so my ability to sleep is lessened even further by that. I turn to over the counter sleeping pills, but they do nothing, even with my other medications. This Thursday I'm supposed to see a specialist about possibly getting a sleep study.

I haven't slept normally on a regular basis in years.

Today, when I was lying in bed, fully awake, I heard the voice of an African American male in my bedroom saying my name. I was so sure someone had broken into my apartment (or maybe it was the police coming to get me again), that I didn't move. I just laid there. Couldn't move. I was too scared to go out into the living room, so I just waited for him to come get me, whoever he was. Nobody ever came. Later I looked at the door to the apartment. It was still locked, and the device that goes under the door handle to keep someone from breaking in was still in place. Nobody I had been here. But I heard it, "Jennifer". I thought maybe it was someone from the landlord agency coming to remove me from my home because it is such a disaster area. I've been thinking a lot lately that they're going to do that. I also think a lot that I am going to have a horrible car accident or hit someone on the side of the road who is riding a bike. I think people in my family are going to die. I think about their funerals. Life is very depressing.

I went to my mom's house tonight and curled up on her couch next to her. She patted my back. Normally I wouldn't allow this or like it, but tonight it was okay. I told her I am tired of my mind going crazy on me, and I can't handle much more. My mother screamed at me throughout much of my life, but I still turn to her for solace sometimes.

Meanwhile, there are things I want to do. I want to help with what I have been asked to help with in NAMI, which is setting up a support group and a peer-to-peer class at my college. I just don't see how I'm going to be able to do this, and when I agreed to do it, I said I would help do it, but not do it alone. It looks like I am being expected to do it alone now, and I know I can't. I go back to my university next month. I am trying to keep my job. I am trying to keep my disability benefits which I need to survive. I am trying to get by here. All I can really manage is bare survival. I'm not the best person to ask to take on other tasks right now. My apartment is covered in garbage, old food, and clutter.

My brother is off in some motel drinking himself to death again, and I am so sad about that. But there is nothing I can do about that. I have given him all the advice I can, but he listens to none of it. He chooses self destruction, and he doesn't care about himself or about anybody else, including me. He almost got my apartment burned down by leaving it vacant with a burning candle for days when I was trusting him to take care of it a few weeks ago while I was out of the state. I haven't really heard from him since.

I'm tired, but I'm wide awake. It is going to be another very long night. It is already 3 AM right now. In the morning I have a therapy appointment. Then I have to work. I dread going to work now that people know I have a mental illness.

Life is hard right now.

Sorry if this is a depressing post.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

violations of privacy and civil rights

Note: I apologize for screaming and cursing in this post. Thanks for reading.

Things aren't going too well.
I don't feel comfortable writing about it here.
Thanks to being exposed at my workplace as having a mental illness, I don't know if I'll ever feel too comfortable writing here again.

It's not exactly a great situation.

I'm not even entirely sure who to thank for it.

One thing I know is, I cannot afford to leave my job or lose my job at the moment.

I'm still proving the facts of my existence pain-stakingly on a daily freakin' basis to Social Security.

If I could just work full time and not need Social Security, life would certainly be easier. But then, how exactly would I do that when I've never been able to manage it so far?? And how on earth would I ever get all my many medications that allow me to work in the first place?? It's not like I can pay for any of them or even co-pays that would come with private insurance.

My life feels like a total nightmare right now.

That's not all I have to say, but that's all I'm comfortable saying here now.

Thanks, people who caused this situation.

I refuse to delete this blog.

I'm frankly really fucking sick of hearing people telling me to die every day, and I'm also really sick of people really treating me like I am beneath them in real life. I'm sick of this whole disability shitfest that has become my life. I'm sick of medications, and I'm sick of justifying THE FACT THAT I NEED THEM to the people who are nothing be schmucks for a goverment agency that provides me with enough money to buy cat food and put gas in my car every month. I'm sick of looking over my shoulder, not because I'm merely paranoid, but because IN ADDITION to being paranoid, I have people breathing down my neck and someone at my workplace questioning my mental stability.

I'm sick of my apartment, my neighbors with their bed bugs and cigarette butts, my mess, my brother who left a candle burning and the door unlocked for days when I was 1,000 miles away and trusting him to take care of my cats because he's an alcoholic who doesn't give a shit about me, my whole screwed up family, my screwed up "friend" who really is just annoying, and I'm sick of myself, and I'm sick of going to physical therapy and mental health counseling as if IT EVEN MATTERS AT ALL ANYWAY.

I'm sick of being sick and even more sick that I still am sick.

I'm sick of my whole life.

And thanks to a couple people, I no longer feel safe talking here in my one safe spot in the world were I could ever talk about anything that really mattered for the past seven years.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Dear Music, thanks for being there when no one else was


"Music Swims Back to Me"
By Anne Sexton 1928–1974

Wait Mister. Which way is home?

They turned the light out

and the dark is moving in the corner.

There are no sign posts in this room,

four ladies, over eighty,

in diapers every one of them.

La la la, Oh music swims back to me

and I can feel the tune they played

the night they left me

in this private institution on a hill.





Imagine it. A radio playing

and everyone here was crazy.

I liked it and danced in a circle.

Music pours over the sense

and in a funny way

music sees more than I.

I mean it remembers better;

remembers the first night here.

It was the strangled cold of November;

even the stars were strapped in the sky

and that moon too bright

forking through the bars to stick me

with a singing in the head.

I have forgotten all the rest.





They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.

and there are no signs to tell the way,

just the radio beating to itself

and the song that remembers

more than I. Oh, la la la,

this music swims back to me.

The night I came I danced a circle

and was not afraid.

Mister?





Anne Sexton, “Music Swims Back to Me” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. Reprinted with the permission of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

 
I have always found solace in music. It helps me sleep, when I can sleep. It calms me. It drowns out voices when I'm psychotic. It motivates me when I'm depressed. Music is a big part of my life, and I'm not even a musician. I suspect music is meaningful to many of us with serious mental illnesses, especially those of us who experience auditory hallucinations. My Mp3 player is my lifesaver in such times, and I wouldn't know what to do without it.

I've been away from the blog lately, because I went to Maryland for a week and only had sporadic internet access. I stayed for four days with my grandmother who is still alive (my mother's mom), and visited aunts and uncles and cousins (just a few), and my grandfather who is still alive (my dad's father who lost his wife last month). Then I went to a hotel for the national National Organization for Women conference which I go to every year because I'm involved with that feminist organization. It was great fun, and educational too. I got to see my friends from NOW who I don't see very often because they don't live near me.

Since I came home, I've been really worn out and tired. I'm going to physical therapy twice a week now, for my Fibromyalgia and arthritis pain. I go to see my mental health therapist for the first time in like two months tomorrow. The problems with Social Security are still going on. Today I was so exhausted I did practically nothing at all. Now I can't sleep, of course. But I will listen to music and try to fall asleep. Music swims back to me.

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