The Woman at My Table

Posted on June 16, 2015 in Mental Illness Stigma

square891The lunchtime speaker at the Meeting of the Minds was barely audible, but sounded good from the snatches that we caught here and there. Because engagement was difficult, many of us at the table gave up and surfed on our cell phones.

Among our party was a woman. She was shy and simple, but had a fresh smile. Now and again, she would say something, sometimes to the point of discussion and sometimes entirely out of context. What I admired in my table mates was that we did not ignore her or try to act as if she were some crazy and embarrassing aunt at a holiday dinner, but always acknowledged her and let her take part in the conversation.

I think this is what is meant by living a life free of stigma. You take the mentally ill as they are, not conceiving of or treating them as children, but as full participants in life. This woman was just trying to be one of us. She reached out and we accepted her for it.

My Life with Bipolar Disorder, Part 3: Mood Stabilizers

Posted on June 15, 2015 in Bipolar Disorder Medications Video

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The Flaws of Murphy’s Law

Posted on June 14, 2015 in Accountability Courage & Activism Human Rights Stigma

square890I won’t say that Tim Murphy’s bill is completely without merit. That would ignore improvements such as eliminating the 190 days lifelong psychiatric care cap for Medicare/Medicaid and allow us to use Medicare at larger inpatient facilities. It makes it easier for psychiatrists to volunteer at mental health centers. It is about time that anti-psychiatrists stopped being in a position to make policy. Pete Early at The Mighty sings the praises of Murphy’s Law (where everything that can go wrong is guaranteed to happen). Here is my counter-list of why it is a bad law and why we need a better alternative.

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What Does Murphy’s Law Do for the Homeless?

Posted on June 13, 2015 in Class Insurance Mental Illness Psycho-bunk

square889When you add all the provisions of the 175 page Families in Mental Health Crisis Bill together, the answer is Zero. Murphy’s Law is a caretaker’s bill. I have nothing against compassionate caretakers, but some seem to want to control the lives of their loved ones down to the toothpaste they use to brush their teeth. Murphy’s Law reorganizes the federal mental health bureaucracy so that it is subject to Congressional politics; it erodes HIPAA protections (claiming that caretakers have no access in emergencies to patient records which is not true); it requires states to implement forced medication programs; and, it is the harbinger I have no doubt of privatized mental hospitals. It is anti-patient. And it stands in opposition to the Recovery Movement.

Proponents disingenuously claim that people like me want to keep the status quo which does nothing for the most severely afflicted, the jailed, and the homeless. One word: Bullshit. I am among those who call for real homes for the homeless where they can achieve the stability to maintain a standard of self care. I note that patients are often prescribed medications like Abilify and Latuda in the hospital — which work for them but which they can’t afford — even with health insurance — when they are discharged. I note that police are overworked and often respond in a way which ignores their training for dealing with the mentally ill when they are exhausted. I observe that Laura’s Law — which allows those who are brought in to devise a treatment program that suits their beliefs and conditions — has resulted in more patients choosing medication. Studies show that coercion does not work. Demolishing HIPAA will cause some patients to avoid treatment because of privacy concerns. Is this helping the homeless? Let’s put together a scorecard….

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Dream

Posted on June 12, 2015 in Dreams

square888A cult is kidnapping children and turning them into devotees using computers. The children preach a message of simple life, but the cult is collecting millions of dollars. I follow one child who, when she is found, doesn’t want to leave the cult. The cult talks her into accepting that she will be brought up differently, wearing special clothes, etc. She has been with them for two or three years before she is found. I explain to her what the cult is really up to, but she runs away and disappears on a hillside of tall grass that comes up to my chin.

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My Life with Bipolar Disorder, Part 2: Medication (Video)

Posted on June 5, 2015 in Bipolar Disorder Psychotropics Video

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Sane Privilege

Posted on June 1, 2015 in Authoritarianism Class Clueless Oafs Mental Illness Psycho-bunk Stigma

For Larry Drain.

square887The sane are not like you or me, nor, understandably, do they want to be. But they also don’t want us to be like we are and they have the power to thwart and make our lives more difficult, power that they exercise to protect their own status, power that they strive to deny us at every turn. Being sane frees them from the burden of stigma (which they don’t want to admit exists or harms so that they can use it to control us) and gives them access to special privileges, jobs, privacy, etc. which are denied to us.

Observe the way they identify themselves. They call themselves “human beings” “people” or “just plain folks”. They do not mention whether they are afflicted or unafflicted, abled or disabled; they decline to state their social class, their race, their gender, their sexual preference, their sex. They think they are being inclusive, but their actions speak otherwise. They refuse to recognize the unique perspectives that those of us with mental illness bring to the table. What sounds like a language of inclusion is actually one calculated to exclude the expression of our views and needs.

When one is privileged, one gets to set the rules. Police officers in Abilene, Texas, instead of trained medical professionals, for example, get to decide who needs to go to the hospital or not. Courts get to decide whether our mental illness plays a part in the crimes we sometimes commit. Police departments are allowed to declare whether shooting a suicidal man is justified or not. Input on these rules from the people who most affected by such rules is seldom solicited or taken seriously among the privileged. They can do what they want and they see nothing wrong with the hegemony of their views.

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Dreams

Posted on May 31, 2015 in Dreams

square886In the first dream, I have a job at a radio station playing music. It’s almost my time slot, so I go to look for something to play. Everywhere I look, I can only find a few records if any at all. I run around the station — which is very large and filled with shops — but I can’t find the kind of music I like to play for my show.

In another dream, I remember being on a bus that stops in Louisville, Kentucky (where I have never been except in a dream). I am in some kind of aquarium/zoo when this memory comes to me. I am on a platform overlooking a swimming pool, watching the water with Lynn?, and a couple of girls, one a teenager and another younger. The little girl fixates on a seal which comes to the surface for a breath. It goes underwater and she loses it, but I see where it has gone and point it out to her. I turn my back and when I look back, she has jumped off the platform and jumped into the pool to pet the seal. There is an alarm and a panic. The operators of the attraction turn the platform away so we are looking at what people standing in line are doing. I briefly wonder if we are going to get a refund.

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A Mental Health Advocacy Manifesto

Posted on May 29, 2015 in Authoritarianism Hospitals and Prisons Mental Illness Psycho-bunk Stigma

square885In the course of Mental Health Illness Awareness Month I have shared my perspective on many issues involving those of us who live with organic brain dysfunctions. Now that we approach the end of the time of the lime green ribbon, I think it behooves me to share with you where I think mental health advocates should and shouldn’t go at this time.

The following planks are given in no particular order; though I have striven to put the most important near the top, all should be considered.

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Meet the Duggars: The Sane Get a Free Pass

Posted on May 28, 2015 in Authoritarianism Clueless Oafs Hypocrites Stigma

square884More powerful and dangerous to the Mind than mental illness is Ideology. That is the lesson we are learning from the recent scandal involving the reality television show stars, The Duggars. You can mark The Duggars as vehement as one can be: a family of 21 ruled by an autocratic, “Christian” father who expects his wife and children to honor his every command. They are politically conservative — in 2002, Jim Bob Duggar advocated the death penalty for incest. But like presidential candidate Jeb Bush — who advocated severe penalties for drug users but treated his own daughter to rehab — Jim Bob Duggar is a hypocrite. When his fourteen-year-old son, Josh, molested his sisters, the patriarch was lenient. Because he feared the injection of ideas into his son’s head that he did not want there, Duggar sent his son off to work on the floor in a friend’s house for a few months instead of to a therapist. When the son returned, Duggar had a police officer friend — who has since been convicted for child pornography — give the boy a stern lecture. Josh Duggar grew up and got a job with a faith-based family values organization, a position he held until his predilection for “dating” his sisters was revealed to the world. Nothing was done for the violated daughters.
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The Police War on the Mentally Ill

Posted on May 26, 2015 in Accountability Authoritarianism Stigma Violence

square883I believe that the mentally ill — like all other Americans — have certain basic civil rights, among these being the right of security from harm by those charged with enforcing the laws. I am against forced treatment except when there is a clear danger to self or others as proved in a court of law. Time and again, I have read about times when cops have been called out to handle a suicide and ended the incident by killing a mentally ill man. That some people who claim to be advocates for the mentally ill explain away these shootings as justified and declare that the police are our friends should disturb us all.

It is not surprising that prominent forced medication and mental hospital advocates are jumping to the defense of the police: they must make mental illness the villain at all costs. They don’t care about who dies as a martyr to their cause, just so they gain the upper hand. Control is their aim.

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Video: My Life with Bipolar Disorder: Part 1, Diagnosis

Posted on in Bipolar Disorder Video

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