One thing I am constantly worried about is what my daughter will think of me. One day she will find...
One thing I am constantly worried about is what my daughter will think of me. One day she will find...
The right to die is a topic that interests me a great deal, partly because I read about healthcare ethics for fun, and partly because I have some semi-specific thoughts about how I’d like to die (see: this recent post) and what I’d like to have happen to me when I’m dead (see: this kickass dealy). I told Husband that I want a pine tree to compensate for my mercurial nature in life because evergreens are steadfast and I am not. I also asked him to put a bench under Tree Laura so people can read to me because I’ve heard that being dead is super boring.
So, I was reading a right to die discussion today and I reminded my husband (again) that I made him promise to help me buy the farm if I become demented because I don’t wanna die frightened and confused. Actually, the thing that might be worse is what my grandfather is going through right now. He has dementia – possibly Alzheimer’s – resultant of a stroke he had 12 years ago, and he’s still cogent enough to understand that he’s losing his mind. He’s like completely aware of his eroding cognitive faculties and he’s super depressed about it, as anyone would be because he knows that, at some point, maybe soon, his mind is gonna become this tormented and horrifying place where he’ll grasp desperately at every thought like it’s an unfindable word on the tip of his tongue. That’s gonna fucking suck for all of us. I never want to know what that feels like. There’s some dementia on the other side of my family too, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to plan ahead in case my brain – my very favorite body part, though my magnificent collarbones are a close second – turns to grits and I can’t remember any of the cool stuff I know or any of the awesome people I love.
I realize this is a topic that might be painful for some people who have watched a loved one succumb to dementia or people who have lost a loved one to suicide. But it’s worth talking about. So, tell me: How do you feel about the right to die? Would you ever elect to end your own life (not because of your mental illness, but because you’ve reasoned it out ahead of time)? Would you help your partner, your best friend, your sister, your dad end their life if they saw no other way out and asked you to? Discuss. All arguments are welcome.
I reckon the title makes it puh-lenty clear that this isn’t a perky pollyanna of a post. On a serious note – if you’re likely to be hurt by it, please give it a miss. I don’t want to hurt you.
“Mentally and physically ill persons should be left to death; they do not have the right to live.” – Plato
Well fuck you, Plato.
Although I’ve already written about honouring our dead, I wanted to see just what information and statistics are readily accessible. I wondered if it was even possible to extrapolate numbers of deaths in psychiatric institutions globally. What about suicides? I wondered whether anyone in using the black triangle (formally designated to the ‘antisocial and work shy’) as a symbol of activism, the way the pink triangle is used by some queer organisations. People do, notably some anti-psychiatry bodies, some lesbian feminist ones (lots of controversy around that one) and some disability ones.
“I will not administer poison to anyone when asked to do so, nor suggest such a course.” – Hippocratic Oath
Eugenics has been around since ancient Greece and it reached its ‘peak’ during the first half of the 20th century. There is a lot more to it than the stats I’ve posted here (more reasons and a lot more countries); this post only deals with the
mentally neurobiologically ill. Forced sterilisation, for example, has certainly not vanished completely, although in the first world now, it has become a matter of family petition followed by a court ruling.
1907 – 1939: USA, over 30,000 people in 29 states, nearly half the operations were carried out in California.(First country to implement formal compulsory sterilisation in the name of eugenics)
1928 – 1972: Canada, 2,800 in 2 states.
1940 to 1945: Japan, 454.
1934 – 1945: Germany, an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people.
2008: Russia, 14.
“Cripples and idiots, however incapacitated, enjoy the same human rights (though not necessarily legal competence) as normal persons… One human life is as precious as a million lives, for each is infinite in value…” – Dr Immanuel Jakobovits (1921-1999), former Chief Rabbi of England
Until the end of the nineteenth century, euthanasia was regarded as a peaceful death.
Nazi disabled victims memorial in Berlin.
1939: 3,700 shot in Poland.
1940 – 1941: Operation T4 – code name for Nazi Germany’s euthanasia programme. 70,273 deaths by gassing at the six “euthanasia” centers.
1941 – 1945: code name 14f13, continued ‘covertly’.
Totals: 200,000 – 250,000 mentally and physically handicapped persons were murdered from 1939 to 1945.
Present day: legal and voluntary euthanasia/assisted suicide, subject to application, available in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
It is, of course, impossible to reach a remotely accurate idea of numbers of deaths in so called lunatic asylums, poorhouses, on streets …
Psychiatry possesses a built-in capacity for abuse which is greater than in other areas of medicine. – Medicine Betrayed
It’s impossible to know how many people have committed suicide due to neurobiological disorders and how many others have died due to complications of the disorders and their treatment. How could we ever put a number to the amount of dissidents categorised as mentally ill and then killed? I don’t even know how many died during apartheid’s ‘mental illness genocide’ – but I’ve downloaded more academic papers on the subject.
We have a lot of dead to mourn.
We have many lessons to learn.
Jewish Virtual Library – Nazi Euthanasia Program: Persecution of the Mentally & Physically Disabled
Daily Telegraph – Hitler’s mentally ill cousin “killed in Nazi gas chamber”
Wikipedia – Forced Sterilisation
Concentration camp prisoners who wore a black triangle will be honored in a new Berlin memorial
A General History of Euthanasia (life.org)
Daily Maverick – Mental illness and euthanasia: a conundrum within an ethical dilemma
H-Madness – a history of psychiatry (academic site on WordPress)
Medicine Betrayed – the participation of doctors in human rights abuses
Apartheid & Mental Health (article download)
And I stumbled across this truly fascinating article along the way, Myth vs. Fact: Violence and Mental Health
Oh, yes, it came for me last night. Like a stealthy ninja. One minute I am cooking supper and eating with my kid…Then bam. It was beyond splat. The darkness enveloped my mind. I became cold and shivering. I started feeling fragile and weepy. The creepifying thoughts telling me how everyone is evil and life is futile swept in like a scourge.
Basically, my mental issues were plugged into a stack of Marshall amps.
It. Kicked. My. Ass.
Because I was doing fine. Well, okay, not fine,but I was doing my zombie shamble, getting through another day.
I haven’t had such an abrupt shift into blackness like that in a long while. It’s almost like my brain is mocking me: “You thought that depression of 2013 was as bad as it gets? Ha ha, have I got a treat for you.”
I tried to fight it. I failed.
But it wasn’t difficult to coax my child into going with the vegetate plan. She thinks sleeping in my bed is some sort of winning lottery ticket. And I needed the warm blankies and snuggle and even the cats were burrowing in with us.
I felt like I was drowning in darkness.
I had a migraine making it all worse.
Round and round the cyclone of my mind went. Pointing out ways people are fucking me over. And maybe there’s some truth to it, I do seem to get taken advantage of more than I am comfortable with. But are they really doing it to be purposely cruel or are they just so stupid they don’t even know they’re being ass trash?
My mind has this gift for distorting things, be it in a depressive abyss or a manic episode.
But then again, pms does the same thing to me.
Am I ever in my right mind with all the imbalances going on here?
I reached the end of my tether this week and spent three bucks on a bottle of melatonin. Once she was asleep last night, I cut a 3mg pill in half, because last thing I want is to risk being too zoned out to care for her. And I waited. And the thoughts swirled. And an hour later, they were still swirling. Anxiety was eating me alive. Why wasn’t the stuff making me sleepy?
Then I did doze off.
For three whole hours.
And so I took an entire 3 mg pill, thinking, well if half got me three hours, maybe the whole thing will keep down.
Make a plan, hear the fates laugh.
I woke up so many times, with a new gift. Fits of coughing and not being able to catch my breath because, oh surprise, my daughter was at my mom’s last week and they all have colds and sent my kid home with their petri dish germs to give me.
I don’t see how life could get any more frustrating.
Mind you, I didn’t say it couldn’t get worse. Oh, no, I know the answer to that one and I will not tempt the fates even if chances are it is coming for me anyway.
Then after I got my kid to school this morning, after blowing me off for two days on a project I’ve been waiting for him to do for two weeks…R has the nerve to ask me to go fetch him a pack of smokes.
THAT is where my brain gets the idea I am being screwed with.
Ignore me, it’s because you’re busy and I am insignificant.
But when you beckon, I must drop everything.
All I want is a goddamn level playing field. People are just toxic because everything is some sort of power play. There’s no quid pro quo, there’s no consideration or compassion. It’s all just a fallacy where I keep trying to adapt and roll with the punches but the only time I am ever truly content is when…I avoid people.
Ok, call it a personality disorder.
But when your own brain tortures you daily then the people who are supposed to add to your life rather than suck the life out of you make you feel like a hollowed out husk…
Doesn’t take a rocket scientist.
Allergic to peanuts? Don’t eat them.
People make you feel shitty? Avoid them.
I must sound nuts.
I feel like I am losing my mind.
I need to retreat back into my own little bubble and stop trying to be what everyone expects me to be. I can’t be them. I don’t like to socialize. When I need company, I seek it out. Otherwise, I am quite content on my own.
But all the mental health propaganda has me jumping through hoops to prove I am trying my hardest to not give in to my own dysfunction…And instead of helping, I think it’s destroying me.
And maybe if the meds were sorted properly, I might be in a better frame of mind.
I just feel disgusted and pissed off and a little…hopeless.
At once point last night I even had this thought that death would be preferable to living like this day in day out.
That’s the scary place to be.
I thought it might have lifted, cyclothymic shifts and all, by today.
But it’s hanging around, like a noose around my neck.
The rebel in me wants to say fuck depression.
But at the moment, this husk has no fire left to spew venom at anyone or anything.
Someone asked me if it bothered me that I’ve gained so much weight as I’ve aged. And it does to a small extent. But I play the game and say oh, yeah, it bothers me a lot. Because that’s what is expected. I am supposed to feel bad for being heavy. And if I own it before someone can wield it as a weapon…All the better.
Because it would serve no purpose to tell these people the truth. They’re too shallow to get what breaks my heart the most about myself.
I look at old pictures of myself. Ok, I was younger, thinner, prettier…
But mostly, I had this glimmer in my eyes, so full of hope.
And now my eyes are just…hard. Like they’ve seen so much ugliness they’ve hardened to black lumps of coal.
I miss the light that used to be in my eyes.
And no matter how hard I have tried, I can’t seem to get it back.
That bothers me more than aging or gaining weight.
I want the hope back.
It’s been mentioned that I need a more exciting name for my blog. Something more dramatic. I call it “Day by Day” precisely because my life isn’t dramatic–I deal with many of the same issues everyone else does but through a bipolar lens. I thought I would though open the floor to thoughts for a new name that still incorporated that spirit. Or you can make an argument for an exciting subtitle to go with the more mundane mane. Let me know what you think in the comments.
It is almost impossible to describe what depression feels like to someone who has never struggled or suffered with a bout. There are words that can be used to perhaps capture some of the darkness/sadness/despondency/desolation that is felt as part … Continue reading
We’re at the end of the universe, the end of time and you’re … blogging!” David Tennant as Dr Who
Day Four: Identify Your Audience
Today’s Assignment: publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-you element in it.
Not reader eh, but audience member. I’ll have to start selling popcorn. I already have ideal readerS (take a bow), but the rest of that email talked about the head of Random House and so forth. So if I need a dream reader to exploit …
Dearly beloved Dream Reader,
Wow, you are looking fantastic! No really, you’re skinny, the new hair is gorgeous and your ass will never look fat in anything!
What’s that? You need my email address to send eBooks to and my postal address for other gifts? Ohhh alright then, if you must.
Blah de blah
The new to me element there would be the shameless whoring for gifts. I really am more than satisfied with the readers I have already.
Day Five: Love Your Theme
Today’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.
Nope. Been blogging since about 2001, done all of that and more.