Daily Archives: January 27, 2013

Conversation Among the Ruins

For those of you who have recently been released from locked wards of psychiatric hospitals, cut off from the unceasing flow of news and information,  allow me break the news to you that the seven time winner of the Tour de France has finally admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs to win his bike races. In a high – profile two-part interview with the renowned American chat show host Oprah Winfrey he openly admitted his misdemeanors, bullying  the peleton, slandering fellow professionals, giants of the sport who had questioned his success, such as 3 time winner of the Tour de France Greg Le Mond. He admitted to pursuing people who doubted his honesty through the courts, and taking millions of dollars in sponsorship on the back of his vacuous success.

His reputation lies in ruins, and he tried to use this media platform to try to resurrect his reputation, and salvage an athletic career as a tri – athlete, something he is banned from for life.

A conversation in the ruins.

What about those of us who have been taking drugs that are marketed as improving the performance of people (like myself) to function more effectively and find that the effect of such treatments cause a whole host of dreadful side effects? I am one of the lucky ones who has only been troubled twice by unwanted side effects a couple of times – feeling sea – sick when I was prescribed my first ever anti – depressant (Prozac). More recently I struggled with grogginess on a dose of 500 mgs of a drug that otherwise suits me on a lower dose - Quetiapine. I could go into details of the most attractive side effect I have ever had – vastly increased libido – but on second thoughts, let’s not.

I have heard many accounts of people who have suffered from vomiting, diarrhea, sleeplessness, poor motor control, lack of libido, severe headaches – and in some cases - suicidal ideation as a result of taking prescribed mental health drugs.  What impact do I hear time and time again from peers who share these experiences with me?  They stop taking the pills.  Then what?  The inevitable return of distressing, disabling symptoms such as suicidal depression, anxiety, distressing psychosis to name but a few.  Doctors talk of the ability of patients (that’s people like me) to tolerate such treatments.  The implication is clear: the best we can hope for is to come to a point when can put up with these treatments.  ‘Recover from psychosis?’ I hear doctors say,’ impossible.’  To suggest such a possibility with a diagnosis is simply dismissed as a symptom itself – delusional.  The response? You guessed it – increase the dose.

A conversation in the ruins.


At least they’re talking.  The U.K. charity Time to Change aim to shift perceptions of mental health and of the people who have to cope with them.  You can find out more about their work here: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/?gclid=CM6FtK-9ibUCFW3MtAodVD0AAw

I have written nearly 100 editions of this blog since I started in the summer of 2010.  While it’s true that readers regularly ‘like’ what they read by clicking on the relevant button at the bottom of the page, it’s not a conversation.  96 comments in response to these musings over the last 2 and a half years doesn’t really amount to a conversation, does it.

Sounds like self-pity? No, just venting my frustration that readers from Argentina to Zambia via New Zealand and Nepal are comfortable reading, but not in engaging in a discussion.

A conversation in the ruins?  Don’t all rush at once.

Conversation Among The Ruins

Through portico of my elegant house you stalk
With your wild furies, disturbing garlands of fruit
And the fabulous lutes and peacocks, rending the net
Of all decorum which holds the whirlwind back.
Now, rich order of walls is fallen; rooks croak
Above the appalling ruin; in bleak light
Of your stormy eye, magic takes flight
Like a daunted witch, quitting castle when real days break.

Fractured pillars frame prospects of rock;
While you stand heroic in coat and tie, I sit
Composed in Grecian tunic and psyche-knot,
Rooted to your black look, the play turned tragic:
Which such blight wrought on our bankrupt estate,

What ceremony of words can patch the havoc?

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)

In the Booth with Ruth – Virginia Heath, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Filmmaker

Reblogged from Ruth Jacobs:

Click to visit the original post

What inspired you to support the movement against human trafficking and make films about human trafficking and sexual exploitation?

As a woman filmmaker, I have always felt strongly about issues of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. In 2009, I was asked if I would write and direct a film – My Dangerous Loverboy – that would raise awareness of the sexual exploitation and internal trafficking of young people in the UK.

Read more… 1,402 more words

VIrginia Heath is the filmmaker of My Dangerous Loverboy, a film about how sex-trafficking of young girls is done. She has developed a whole curriculum for schools to teach girls the signs of grooming for trafficking so they can avoid becoming trapped.

Blog For Mental Health 2013!

I am proud and humbled to have been pledged by Ruby Tuesday of A Canvas of the Minds as a Mental Health Blogger for 2013.  It’s not an award, but a commitment to keep on blogging with the aim of erasing stigma and creating community among those of us who live with mental illness.  Our Mental Health Blogger community is a place where people living with mental illness as well as their families and loved ones can come together in mutual acceptance and support.  It’s awesome!  So here’s the pledge:

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

Here is where I’m supposed to write a short summary of my own journey with mental illness.  Where to begin?  I’ve had issues all of my life with PTSD and dissociation.  Likewise, I cannot remember a time when I was not depressed.  I ran away from home, permanently, when I was 16 and only by the grace of G-d did not die or end up trafficked to Mexico, although there were some close calls.  I didn’t know I had a mental illness till I was in college and desperate to make money.  There was an ad in the student newspaper: take drugs and get paid!  No, really, it was a study that the Psychiatry part of the medical school was doing.  So I went and applied, and had to take a whole day’s worth of psychological testing before they would give me the drugs.  Some guy called me the next day and said, “You have to go to Student Mental Health right now!  Your testing shows you are Severely Depressed.”  Humph.  I didn’t feel any different than I always felt, but if I had to go to Student Mental Health in order to get my drugs, that’s the way it was.  I went.  There was a nice lady behind the desk in a cozy room.  She smiled beneficently and asked, “Why are you depressed?”  ”I’m not depressed,” I said. “Then why are you here?” she asked.  ”The Psych Drug Study made me come,” I said.  She shuffled through my slim chart and said, “Your testing shows you are severely depressed.”  She looked up at me with that saintly smile and said, “You get good grades.  You have a good job.  You’re good looking.  So why are you depressed?”  I stood up, thanked the lady, and walked out.

The next time I got an inkling that I might be depressed came when I was in medical school, married, with a baby who never slept.  I adored him, and many years later I still adore him, but the fact is, he never slept through the night until he was five.  So at that time I think he was maybe ten months old, and I had not slept since he was born.  I was in the middle of my Cardiology clinical rotation.  Everyone had gone to lunch, but as usual I had no appetite and was uninterested in hanging out with people, so I was sitting in a study carrel reading EKGs.  My Cardiology attending came over and said, “Aren’t you going to go get some lunch?”  And I said, “No thanks, I’m not hungry,” avoiding eye contact by studying the EKG.  ”Look at me,” he said, and I did, mechanically.  ”You’re depressed,” he said.  ”I want you to go home and get some help.  You need to see a psychiatrist.  Please call me tomorrow and tell me what you have done about this.”  And head hanging, I went home.  My ex-husband came home and said, “What are you doing home so early?” since I usually stayed late studying.  ”I’m depressed,” I said.  He turned on his heel and walked out.  ”Let me know when you’re better,” he said on his way out the door.  I called somebody at the medical school whom I trusted, and told him the situation.  Five minutes later I got a call from a psychiatrist, who gently demanded that my (ex) husband accompany me to an appointment on the following day.  He did.  The shrink explained to him that I was physically incapable of doing what I was doing, taking care of our son all night and being a medical student all day (and sometimes all night too).  He explained how to give the baby a bottle.

He also gave me my first psych drug, imipramine, which not only knocked me completely out, but gave me a horrible itchy rash from head to toe.  Then he gave me antihistamines for the rash.  I dimly remember lying on the cool hardwood floor wishing I was dead but having no control over my body and therefore being unable to act on it, which was good.  After I got over that, he gave me some other drug, which allowed me to make it through med school in one piece.

Then I got to my residency in Pediatrics, where the standard work week was 120 hours.  More sleep deprivation.  And still with the non-sleeping child, who, bless his heart, sleeps like a baby now that he’s in his 20′s.  And then there was the husband who needed attention too.  So I went to a shrink and got Wellbutrin, which is very good for some people, but me it tipped over into hypomania.  Only nobody in the medical world in which I lived seemed to know about Depression and Mania and those kinds of nervous system brain sorts of things.  They only knew about Show Up For Work And Keep Your Mouth Shut.  I had this private joke: if one of us residents died, they wouldn’t give us time off to go to our own funeral.

As it happened, three of us residents DID die, and another one got taken out of service for accidentally giving someone the wrong medicine, which caused their death; so instead of every third night call, we had every other night, and sometimes “every every” night, which meant we didn’t get to go home much.  I really don’t know how the program directors thought that flesh and blood human beings could tolerate that for three years and not kill themselves or die in car accidents falling asleep on the way home, both of which things did happen in our little corner of Hell.

Anyway.  Fast forward from the late 1980′s-early 1990′s when all this shit was going down, to Y2K.  That’s right, the nearly infamous Year 2000.  Well, it WAS infamous for me, because a whole conflagration of disasters hit me that knocked my pins right out from under me and I ended up in the hospital.  And I became disabled, just like I am now.  The only good thing was that some shrink finally noticed that I’m bipolar, and put me on Lithium.  But by then my medical practice was in ruins, my family life in tatters, my finances non-existent, and worst of all, I had lost my identity.

I’ve wandered around some more since then, and although I’ve just been declared permanently and totally disabled by a Federal Social Security judge (and that feels pretty rough), I’m writing more than I ever have.  I’m blogging, and have become part of this wonderful community that is centered around A Canvas of The Minds.  I’m FINALLY writing my book, having used NaNoWriMo for the past two years to give me the kick-start I’ve needed to get two of the volumes well into progress.  I’m slowly redefining myself, and even though I still have attacks of  ”the mentals,” I’m bumping along, and that’s OK.

Oh all right, that was not short.  I am Incapable Of Writing Anything Short.

Now comes the part where I am supposed to pledge five other Mental Health Bloggers.  OMG.  How am I supposed to choose????  I’ll just start, and when I get to five I’ll stop.  Maybe.

PAZ, of Melancholically Manic Mouse

Lunch, of Lunch Sketch

Nicolas, of Puncture Repair Kit

bpshielsy at The Pipolar Place

survivor55 at Bipolar and Breastless

I hereby pledge to remember to let all of the above know I’ve pledged them.

Lastly:  I am supposed to remember not to forget to link back to Canvas, so here it is.  I think I’ve linked back to Canvas about six times in this post, but I’m feeling kind of wacky today so if I’ve messed up in some of this stuff I hope everyone will forgive me.  And feel free to let me know!

Love to everybody and sending good juju for staying healthy this winter, and looking forward to another wonderful year of Mental Health blogging together!

Soul Survivor

A Quiet Day

I am going to do my best to relax and be quiet today. By quiet, I mean I am going to keep willing my brain to silence and see if I can derive some calm. I wish this was as easy a task as it sounds on paper! And it might well be harder than I like, as I can feel a scratching rising in my throat… still, physical ailments seem to do a good job shutting up my brain, so maybe it’s for the best? *laughs* It’s really not, but I do believe in trying to find the best in all things. In that way, I try to bolster myself against… well… myself.

But ey, today is mainly okay, so hopefully it will continue in that vein for me. And of course, hope all of you are having good days.



Loving Someone with Mental Illness

Reblogged from Broken Light: A Photography Collective: Photo taken by a woman in New Jersey who battles the ups and …

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