Category Archives: Blog

Anti NAMI Lies at JulieMADBlogger.com

PLEASE go to the embedded link to finish reading JULIE MAD BLOGGER;s  following article, which was succinct and brilliant.

“The following is my commentary on a “fact sheet” from NAMI New York. This is some material from the URL http://www.naminys.org/nys/educational-materials/ Here, what you see in italics is what I have copied verbatim, directly off the NAMI page. Here and there I am replying, as I see fit, with commentary of my own, in non-italics.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

Please note: Much of what NAMI tells you ain’t facts!

  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. BTW, the “brain disorder” theory was disproven almost immediately after it was proposed. There is no scientific evidence of any brain disorder in those with the so-called major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. The implication here is that these so-called “brain diseases” are permanent conditions that will not go away on their own nor can they possibly be transient or outgrown. This is false, as many are indeed temporary, or can be overcome by changing one’s life circumstances, growth, maturity, improved physical health, changing one’s environment, nutritional changes, or improving one’s relationships.
  • Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans — who suffer from a serious mental illness. It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 5 families in America. 
  • The World Health Organization has reported that four of the ten leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. The implication here is that the disability is caused by the mental disorder itself, however...http://juliemadblogger.com/wp/2017/01/28/nami-fact-sheet-lies/#comment-2796

Closing Down

Wagblog is going off-line. Maybe we will return, maybe not. It won’t a great loss to the world in any event. Too many words, too much garbage…

As Lao Tzu was said to have written, “Much talk means much exhaustion, better far it is to keep your thoughts.” Well, I shut up vocally many weeks ago, and it was indeed better for everyone around me…so now maybe if I also cease this incessant blather it will be another improvement for the world.

Sorry for everything. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

 

Liebster Award, Continued, Part 2, and the Nominees are:

 

 

 

IMG_0073

This is the most recent piece of house art that I have done. It is an imaginative rendering of a house on the Broad Street Green in Wethersfield. I wonder if the owners would recognize their antique white farm house now? Anyhow, I thought the house come out okay, but I am not skilled at drawing a veritable forest of towering trees , not yet at any rate!

LiebsterAward_3lilapples

Okay, so maybe I only found ten instead of 11, I am not certain any more. Frankly it takes me a good hour to discover and vet each site so I give up. I cannot take this any longer, so I am going to simply have to leave the requirements for the award as it is, and say, I did my best. I really did. And you will have to accept that. So here are my ten or eleven nomines for the on-going Liebster Award. They are in absolutely no order of preference except for my computer’s having a mind of its own and ordering them the way it chose by its lonesome.

http://claireahriana.com  for her brand new site Cooking as Medicine (nothing much there yet, but it sounds so promising…And the phrase “food is medicine” just clicks because it has enormous significance to me, coming out of my own past)

http://chadpotts.wordpress.com My Rollercoaster Life with bipolar illness

http://milerunner.me run a mile day and you will feel on top of the world…Exercise has its perks and peak experiences!

http://todadwithlove.wordpress.com   Vera Poh’s lovely literary blog

http://uneasyawakening.com  Bipolar Musings

http://greenwake.wordpress.com  a sustainable experiment with living as green and economically with the earth as possible. Go for it!

http://blueowltreats.wordpress.com outdoorsy 24 year old post-grad living in beautiful Vancouver, BC recently started this blog to share her love for baking and crafting

http://thevegangreen.com amazing no sugar raw brownie recipe, among others.

http://carlynnforst.wordpress.com “the fancies of a working artist”

http://mindwithoutahome.com a poet with alcoholism and history of schizophrenia, with a memoir coming out in August

And here are the questions these bloggers need to answer:

  1. What is your name and what name would you choose if you could have given yourself your dream name, and why?
  2. If you were a multi-billionaire, like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, what do you think you would  do with your money? (Dream big!)
  3. Apple or pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Or do you abstain?
  4. If you work, what do you do and would you rather be doing something else?
  5. If you do not work, what are you doing instead, and if you would prefer to be working, what is your dream job?
  6. Everyone has stolen something in their lives…For instance, I stole sand from Mrs Pappas’s beach at Wequaket lake when I was about five.  Six red plastic pails full in fact, and she had a fit and almost called the police but her sand was so very white and soft and ours was nasty and full of seaweed. Luckily, my father was not impressed and just laughed at her…Anyhow, what did you steal and why and what happened?
  7. What was your most powerful learning experience. Was it in school or on your own, outside of school. What did you learn and has it served you well to learn it?
  8. Have you ever experienced an amazing coincidence, met an angel, had a miracle or something along those lines?  Many people have and are happy to talk about it, If you are one of them, I would love to hear your story.

Alternate to 8, if the answer to above is No:

8a. Why blog? I mean this. Why does anyone blog when there are apparently more than 4 billion blogs out there competing for attention. I would like to know..

9. What is more important, Truth or Kindness. Yes, I know you can be truthful and also kind, but this is my Leibster Award and I get to ask the question. So you have to choose one or the other and tell me why you chose the one you did. Truth OR Kindness

10.What are your core values in life

11.  If you could make everyone in the world do one thing, change one behavior or exchange one material good for another, what would  it be, and why.

Finally here is a recap of the rules for the Liebster Award in general, so the Nominees can be sure they know what to do.

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 

2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

Wow, I finally did it, I finished  the Liebster Award requirements. I thought I never would. Apologies to any of my own nominees upon whom this places too big a burden. You need not accept the crown! Now, to find that blasted Icon and see if I can get it to paste onto my front page. I do not think I can get the image widget to work, it has never worked properly alas, so I don’t think it will now. But I can try. It would be nice if the Leibster Award Badge would post after I went to all the trouble of finishing the award requirements! If not, well, so be it but what a shame.

A lot is going on now, ever since I’ve been back in town after my vacation in North Carolina visiting my brother. I will write more later.

100,000 hits…Thank you!

I saw that the counter was reaching 100,000 late on Sunday, but it wasn’t until after Memorial Day that i had a chance to check again and see for myself that, wow! Gee whiz, Thanks! I’ve actually had more than 100,000 visits to my blog. That impressed me – for all of about three seconds. Then i checked my stats and reality’s cold wet towel smacked me in the face. Not that i hadn’t been aware of it, but here’s the thing, and whether it is a problem or not i don’t really know: my blog is supposed to be about schizophrenia and mental illness or at the very least about art and poetry and therapy. However, one day i wrote a WordPress Daily Post challenge – trying to get into Freshly Pressed – for the uptick in traffic that might bring, nothing more. It did not succeed in that mission, but it did bring me by and in itself a whole slew of new visitors. In fact, each and every day i have many more visits and searches for my blog post from that one day, that one post, in specific, than i do for the entire rest of my blogs combined, by far!

On any given day the breakdown could go like this, percentage wise, 90% for that single post, 10% of the searches and visits for all other posts. Strangest of all, it was a very atypical post, having nothing to do with any of my usual topics but about technology. Weird, in the extreme. Now, mind you, i never mind any visits to my blog, all readers are good. And in this case i believe the post has been helpful to a lot of people. But if they searched for the terms they did, they did not find me with any particular interest in the subjects i usually write about, and may not be inclined to return for more.

Or perhaps i am wrong. You never know, do you? After all, MI strikes every family in one fashion or another, and we deal with it in varied ways, some adequately, some not so, and often some very badly. It is just possible that someone landing here, via a search for that DIY posting, actually took a look around, liked what he or she read, and learned something helpful. I would like to think so at any rate.

And, in any event, you, whoever you are, are reading these words now so you did find me, somehow, via whatever search terms or deliberate whim of fate or fancy brought you here. Maybe you will come back to read some more of my words, see a painting or drawing or sculpture you like. In 2014 i may be legally able to sell them, and perhaps you will like that. Whatever is the case, dear reader, thank you for spending the time here long enough to read this post. If you feel like it, click the like button to show me you’ve been here. It is always, always hugely appreciated.

Muchas gracias, grazie mille, danke, kitoksia palmin (not sure how to spell that, my Finnish is rusty…) merci beaucoup, and so forth. Thank you, thank you from the bottom, and the top and middle of my heart…and from the rest of me too.

New Artwork on Display Soon

This piece and many others will be on exhibit at the Wethersfield, Connecticut public library from May 1- June 30, 2012. Another new small sculpture below will be in the display case, along with The African Queen of Paranoia, which may be seen if you do a search for it on this blog site or go to my photobucket artwork site, and small jewelry or pill boxes I made with reproductions of my artwork on the tops.

I made this bird because I wanted simply to make a hummingbird. But after I did so, it reminded me of the poem “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens.

Of Mere Being

by Wallace Stevens

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Speaking of Wallace Stevens, here is a poem I wrote that one of  Stevens’ lines inspired. It will be in my next book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS (saison d’enfers means “season of hell”)

THE SONG OF THE ANT

by Pamela Spiro Wagner

“For the listener, who listens in the snow…”
Wallace Stevens

In those days I was always cold
as I had been a long time, mindful of winter
even at the solstice of my high summer days

always, always the crumb and crust of loss
and near-loss of everything held dear
before the saison d’enfers and the ice to come

But there was the wind
There was still the wind making music,
and I, at one with the quirky stir of air

bowing the suppliant trees
bowing the branches of those trees for the sound
of songs held long in their wood

Changes change us: rings of birth, death, another season
and we hold on for nothing and no reason
but to sing.

Shock Treatment/ ECT – Therapy or Torture?

Freud and an angry God, hmm, I mean Doctor, electro-shocking a poor ant. Drawing by Pamela Spiro Wagner, 2012 (all rights reserved)

Although most of this post was written and posted back in 2011, I have both edited it and written an addendum, especially for the students in Holly C’s course, with whom I will be doing a Skype class on Monday. If others do not want to reread the post and wish to skip to the end where I have placed the addendum, feel free.

First though, please be aware that descriptions and names of places and so forth have been changed back to their originals except for the names of some people involved, such as my doctors. Those names are somewhat similar, but still disguised. In Divided Minds, we were forced by the publishers to completely disguise everyone, including their physical descriptions, and to make amalgams in some cases, taking two doctors and blending them into one. In Blacklight, by contrast, I am determined that my descriptions of people, previously altered in order to “protect them,” will be honest and forthright,  rewritten so that while their names may be changed, their descriptions are as aboveboard as memory makes possible. After all, I write nothing but the truth as I remember it. I wrote a fair amount in my journals at the time and I referred back to my notes there in writing this. What is more, I intend no libel  and in fact, I want only to be  fair and to bend over backwards in giving as much credit as possible where it is due.

The Ogre Has ECT: 2004

I am delivered like a piece of mail to the Hospital of St Raphael’s, on a stretcher, bound up in brown wool blankets like a padded envelope. It’s the only way the ambulance will transfer me between Norwalk Hospital and this one. The attendants disgorge me into a single room where de-cocooned, I climb down and sit on the bed. All my bags have been left at the nurses’ station for searching; this is standard procedure but I hope they don’t confiscate too much. An aide follows me in to take my BP and pulse, and bustles out, telling me someone will be back shortly. I sit quietly for a half an hour, listening to the constant complaint of the voices, which never leave me, sometimes entertaining me, most of the time ranting and carping and demanding. A thin, 30-something woman with curly blonde hair, rimless glasses and residual acne scars that give her a kind of “I’ve suffered too” look of understanding, knocks on the door-frame..

“May I come in?” she asks politely.

“I can’t stop you.” My usual. Don’t want to seem too obliging or cooperative at first.

“Well, I do need to take a history, but I can come back when you’re feeling more disposed…”

“Nah, might as well get it over with.” Then, nicer, I explain, “I was just being ornery on principle.”

“What principle is that?”

“If you’re ornery they won’t see you sweat.”

“Aah…”

“And they won’t expect you to be medication-compliant right off the bat.” I shrug my shoulders but grin, I want to think, devilishly.

“I see you have a sense of humor.”

“You should see me…”

“I’m sure we all will. A sense of humor is very healthy. But it worries me that you already plan not to take your meds.”

“I’ll only refuse the antipsychotic. Look at the blimp it’s turned me into.” I haul my extra-large tee-shirt away from my chest to demonstrate. Fatso, Lardass! Someone snipes. She doesn’t know it but you really believe you’re thin. Ha ha, you’re a house! Look at yourself! LOOK at yourself! Ha ha ha ha! The voices are telling the truth: I know the number of pounds I weigh is high, outrageously high for me, having been thin all my life, but I haven’t lost my self-image as a skinny shrimp, so I can’t get used to being what others see. The voices love to remind me how fat I really am. Only the mirror, or better, a photograph, reminds me of the honest to god truth, and I avoid those. I avert my eyes, or search the concrete for fossils, when approaching a glass door. Anything not to be shocked by what I’ve become. Pig! Glutton! It seems they don’t want to stop tonight…

I realize suddenly that I’ve lost track of the conversation.

“I don’t think they’ll allow you to do that for long.”

“Do what?”

“Don’t you remember what we were talking about? Were your voices distracting you?”

“Just thoughts, you know, plus some added insults.”

“You’ll have to take all your meds eventually.”

“Then they’ll have to switch me to a different pill, even if it’s less effective.”

She sucks the top of her pen and looked down at her clipboard. “So,” she starts the formal intake. “What brings you here to St Raphael’s?”

The voices break in there, again, confusing me. When I can get my bearings I tell her what made me transfer from Norwalk Hospital and why I opted for shock treatments. She takes a closer look at the mark of Cain I’ve burned into my forehead, writes something, then corrects me.

“We like to refer to them as ECT here. ‘Shock treatments’ brings to mind  the terrible procedures of the past. These days you feel nothing, you just go to sleep and wake up gently. I know. I assist at the ECT clinic.

“Oh, I know, I know. I’ve had ECT before. I know what it’s like and it’s a snap. I asked for this transfer because I hope it will help again.”

We talk some more about why I’m here and what I’ve been through and the voices keep to a minimum so there’s not too much interference. She says she’s going to be my primary nurse and that she thinks we’ll work well together. I nod, thinking she’s pretty okay, for a nurse.

I’ve arrived after lunch, which is served at 11:30am so someone brings me a tray and I pick at it in my room. People come in and out of my room but only speak to me a second or two before they leave, a doctor does a cursory physical, someone takes me down the hall to weigh and measure me. I return to my room, too scared to do otherwise, constrained by the Rules of the voices. The first break in the afternoon is medications in the late afternoon, when someone tells me to line up in front of a little window near the nurse’s station. When it’s my turn, I look at the pills in my cup. Ugh, 20mg of Zyprexa, an increase, plus a host of other pills I can’t remember the names of. I hand the pill back to the med nurse. I’m not taking this, it makes me fat, I say. Give me Geodon. at least I don’t put on weight with Geodon.

“Sorry, Dr Kroeder has ordered this one. We can’t just go around changing doctor’s orders. You either take it or you refuse.”

I was in a quandary. I hadn’t even met the doctor and already I was fighting with her? Should I take it and argue with her later? But then I’ll eat my whole dinner tray and more. Better to start off with my principles intact, so she knows what I’ll take and what I won’t take. I hand the pill back. ”Sorry, I won’t take it.”

“If you decompensate further we will have to give you a shot, you know that, don’t you?”

“I’ll be fine.” I do a little dance step.

“Yeah, and look what you’ve done to your face. Come closer.”

Wondering what she wants, I lean in gingerly, fearing her touch, but she only takes a tongue depressor and smears some ointment on the big oozing sore.

“You’re done.Go eat some supper.”

At 4:30? That’s pretty early. I can’t cross the threshold of the dining room, the Rules the voices make forbid it. I cannot enter the milling crowd, suffering little electric shocks every time my body makes contact with another. Instead I retreat to my room. Sitting on the edge of my bed again, I wonder what to do. How can I get supper, or any meal, if the voices won’t let me go into the dining room?

Just then, the thin blonde nurse with the glasses, what’s her name, leans into my room. “Aren’t you hungry? There’s a tray for you waiting outside the dining room.”

“They made a rule I can’t eat with other people, and I can’t get in the dining room…So I can’t eat.” I read her name tag. “Prisca.”

She smiles and glances down at the tag on her chest.  ”Oh, just call me Prissy, everyone else does. I hate it, but what can you do? What are you talking about? There’s no such rule. For now, I guess I’ll let you eat in your room, but that  is against the rules and we’ll have to get you into the dining room eventually, whatever the voices tell you.

She brings in the tray: white bread with two slices of bologna and a slice of cheese tossed on top, a packet of mayonnaise, a small green salad in a separate bowl, with a plastic slip of French dressing, and a packaged Hostess brownie for dessert. I didn’t eat lunch, though they brought it in, so even this impoverished repast looks good to me and I eat everything, despite not having taking the hated Zyprexa. I curse myself for it, of course, and do some  leg lifts and crunches for exercise afterwards. Ever since I’ve been refusing the drug, I have lost weight. Now I am down to 155 lbs from 170 the last time I weighed myself and I intend to get much thinner, since I started at 95 before medications over the years slowly put weight on me.

After supper the voices start in again, louder and louder, telling me how fat I am, how disgusting and terrible I am. I notice the clock hanging on the wall, which ticks audibly punctuating each sentence. The voices were carping, now they are threatening, and demanding…Finally, their all too familiar sequence segues into telling me I’m the most evil thing, and they don’t say person, on the planet. I’m the Ogre that ate Manhattan, I’m Satan, I’m a mass murderer, I killed Kennedy and deserve to die, die, die!

I’m wearing a heavy pair of clogs with wooden soles and almost before I can think about it, I know what to do. I heave one up at the clock, hitting it dead center. It crashes to the floor. Scrambling to grab a shard of the clear plastic cover before the staff comes running in, I lunge towards where I saw the largest piece fall, one with a long jagged point. I have my hand closed around it when someone tackles me from behind. He’s not very big and I can feel him struggling to keep me pinned. I almost succeed in stabbing myself, but he manages to engulf my hand with his two and press them closed against the flat sides of the shard.

Other people  crowd into the room now and they pry the shard from me and grab my arms and legs so I’m completely immobilized. Then at a word murmured by one of the male aides who have materialized out of nowhere, they swing me up onto the bed, like pitching a sand bag onto a levee. I scream but they ignore me and strap my ankles and wrists into leather cuffs which have been rapidly attached to the bed frame: four point restraints.

I continue to scream and scream, but nobody pays attention. A nurse comes at me with a needle,  saying it is Haldol and Ativan and proceeds to inject me. Although I am still crying that I want to die, that I’m Satan, the Ogre that ate Manhattan, that I killed Kennedy, I’m the evil one, the room then empties, except for a heavy-set café-au-lait sitter, who hollers louder than I do that her name is Caledonia. She pulls up a chair in the doorway, pulls out a cosmetics bag and proceeds to do her nails in spite of me.

I am told by Prissy that I scream most of the evening and keep the whole unit awake until given a sleeping pill and another shot. All I remember is restless twilight sleep coming at last, broken when a short sandy-haired woman, dressed in a sweater set and skirt, comes in and takes my pulse. I’m groggy with medication but she speaks to me nonetheless.

“I’m , Dr Kroeder, your doctor. You’ve had a bad night I see. Well, perhaps tomorrow we’ll get a chance to talk.”

“Get me out of these things!” I mumble angrily. I can’t sleep like this!”

“”Not yet. You’re not ready. But try your best to sleep now. We’ll re-evaluate things in the morning.”

Then she turns and is gone.

As I get to know her, I will like Dr Kroeder for her kindness, toughness and honesty, but I will hate her too for opposite reasons and it will be a long time before I  know whether the liking or the hating or something else entirely wins out.

The first thing that makes me know ECT is going to be different at St Raphael’s than where I had it before is that we all have to get there on under own steam rather than travel in wheelchairs, the way I’ve known since childhood all hospital patients must travel. We walk there, all of us, down interminable corridors, around several corners, through doors to more of the same. In short by the time we get there I have no idea where we are.  I said it was a snap when I had it before, but now I feel like a prisoner going to the hangman, a “dead man walking.” Something about our going there in a group voluntarily, by choice and yet somehow not totally by choice, makes it feel like punishment, like having to cut your own switch, not a medical procedure at all. This sets my nerves on edge. When we finally get to the rooms clearly marked “ECT Suite,” instead of the doctor being ready for us, no time to anticipate or fear what is ahead, we have to wait and wait and wait. We’re told the outpatients have to be “finished up” first. My apprehension grows. I’m used to getting to the ECT rooms and immediately climbing up on the table and getting it over with. Waiting and having time to think about it brings me close to tears.

Finally four in-patients are to be taken. I think the nurse calling us in senses I am too anxious to wait any longer, for she makes sure I’m with the first group. I clamber up on the table, and see Dr Kroeder looking down at me, smiling. I notice how white her teeth are and the little gap in her shirt across her chest as she bends over me, strapping something over my forehead as Prissy puts a needle into the heplock already in my arm. I feel my arms and legs quickly cuffed down by others in the team, a mask clamps down over my face and I’m told to breathe, breathe in deeply and I breathe and breathe and a chasm in hell opens and the demons reach out and scream as I plummet past into a terrible inky blackness…

I wake up a second later and immediately vomit into a kidney basin hastily held out by a nurse. “Why didn’t you do it?” I cry out, confused. “Why didn’t you do it, why did you made me wait? I can’t go through this again!”

Strangely, Dr Kroeder has disappeared, and so have Prissy and the nurses that had surrounded me just an instant before. Instead a plump, baby-faced older nurse smiles as she takes away the kidney basin and says, kindly, “You’ve been sleeping  soundly for an hour. They did the treatment already and you’re waking up. How about trying to sit up now?” Slowly, I push myself to a sitting position and swing my legs over the edge of the table. No dizziness, no more nausea. I feel okay, except for a slight headache. So I slide off the table and ask where to go. Surely they won’t make me stay a long while this time. The nurse leads me to a wheelchair and asks an aide to take me back to the unit. Ah, a chair at last. At least I’m not expected to walk on my own after that ordeal.

ECT Takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week and though I vomit many times upon waking up, that is the least of it. What I dread most is the anesthesia, how I plunge from perfect alertness into the dark pit and feel like I wake a second later, sick and confused. I grow more and more afraid until, at the end of a series of 8 sessions, I refuse to go on to a second series. I thwart this by grabbing something to eat every morning, which is forbidden as you cannot have ECT if you have eaten or drunk anything within 12 hours of hte procedure. Because my symptoms are still severe and Caledonia comes to sit with me one to one more often than not, Dr Kroeder tries to persuade me, but I am adamant. I am not depressed (quite despite what she tries to convince me of). ECT hasn’t helped my obsessive intrusive thoughts/hallucinations this time so no more of it. No more! Then she threatens to have the next series court-ordered  and to add insult to injury, she says she will force me to take Zyprexa as well, the drug I so hate. I explode.

“What! You f—ing can’t do that! I’m a free citizen, I’m not a danger to myself or anyone else.”

“In fact, I can do it, and I am going to do it, whether you like it or not. You need more ECT and unfortunately you refuse the only drug that is effective for you. Pam, look, how can you say you’re not a danger to yourself? Look at your forehead! That’s not the mark of  I  it’s just self-mutilation. Look at where you carved that mark into your hand when we weren’t watching you carefully enough. Isn’t that danger enough?”

“But I’m NOT going to kill myself. I don’t want to die. I just want to be disfigured so no one will want to be around me and they’ll stay safe and uncontaminated.”

Dr Kroeder’s eyes suddenly glitter and she has to blink a couple of times. “Well, I’m not going to let you continue to do what you want. Period.”

She was standing at the foot of my bed, one foot on a lower rung, casually holding a clipboard. But she moves closer to me, standing to one side, the clipboard clasped business-like across her chest. Gazing intently at me, she shakes her head in what appears to be sadness.  I’m not sad, I know what I have to do. I don’t understand why she feels this is so terrible, but I know enough to remain quiet. Finally, she turns and quietly slips out of the room.

This alarms me; it shocks me. I know she means what she says. Worst of all, Dr O’Maloney, my outpatient psychiatrist, has signed off on it well, agreeing  it is the only thing left to do, that already I’ve been in the hospital two months and little has changed, that the situation is desperate. Their only problem is that to get a court order they have to get me a conservator who will agree to it. They want to appoint my twin sister and they discuss with her whether or not she’ll agree to forcing more ECT on me, in addition to Zyprexa. Despite fearing that I’ll hate her, she too is convinced there are no other options.

So Dr Kroeder wins and I endure eight more ECT sessions. Finally I’m discharged a month later, much improved, so everyone says. As a condition of my release, I promise that I’ll continue to take Zyprexa. Forced to, I do promise, even though my history clearly suggests that I will not.  I’m also supposed to return once every two weeks for maintenance ECT treatments and Dr Kroeder threatens me with a police escort if I don’t comply. But this time I thumb my nose at her. So, she’s going to get both the Hartford and the New Haven police involved? She thinks they are going to bother to arrest me just to drive me down to the hospital for ECT, something they themselves probably consider barbaric? J’en doute fort. I doubt that big time! In fact, after a call to the Legal Rights Project, I learn that any conservatorship was dissolved the moment I was discharged from St Raphael’ s and that the doctor has no power over me at all now, zilch. So I write Dr Kroeder a nice apologetic letter — sorry, doc, but no more of your ECT for me. Ever.

Several months later, hearing command hallucinations, I pour lighter fluid over my left leg and set it on fire. So much for the restorative powers of shock torture, excuse me, electro- convulsive therapy.

————————————————————————

Addendum: not part of Blacklight

ECT in 2003 (after DIVIDED MINDS ends)

The first time I had ECT was in 2003 at John Dempsey Hospital, which is connected to the University of Connecticut’s medical school. There, in desperation, because of an “obsession” — and I say that advisedly, because I was not so much obsessed as consumed — with the face  that I saw in the biohazard sign (which we  called the biohazmat man in DIVIDED MINDS) as well as a little red figure I saw running through it, I asked whether something like ECT might help me. The head psychiatrist of the unit wasn’t certain, it wasn’t commonly used for that. But he was willing to try it nonetheless. It took some doing. I was very scared, and the procedure scared me even more, as it turned out that a “heplock” had to be placed in your arm hours beforehand, so a needle could be easily inserted and anesthesia given later during the procedure. But this frightened me and I balked. I also balked at signing various papers. I almost backed out, and rescinded permission at least once. But finally I went through with it.

The actual ECT was near torture, both because of my terror of anestheisa and also because at Dempsey Hospital absolutely no attention was given to the comfort of in-patients, so that we were made to wait until afternoon before our treatments, meaning that we could eat neither breakfast nor lunch on those days. Or at least we could not eat until the treatments were given. Since meals in-hospital loom large in importance, especially when there is little else to do and one’s medications induce hunger, this was a huge problem, particularly when I was already very apprehensive. I never did understand the rationale behind this. It seemed to be particularly bad planning to have any ECT patient have to have treatment so late in the day, given that fasting was essential. But hey, who was I but a mere mental patient? I had no rights, I just had to do what I was told!

Anyhow, I suffered the agonies of hell, but I went through with it, hating each session, until, after I’d undergone five of them, I began to complain that my memory was being affected. I decided to stop, but I noted at the same time, strangely enough, that the biohazmat man had also disappeared from my radar. Weird! It seemed to have worked, ECT had broken the back of what had been consuming me. In point of fact, ECT at that time worked so well that the biohazard sign has never bothered me again in such a fashion. Which is close to a miracle in my book.

Memory is Fiction and Fiction, Memory

Where is Memory?

Memory is fiction. I  wrote that in 2005, believing I read it in the New Yorker somewhere. Memory is fiction. It’s not that we make our memories out of whole cloth; we believe we remember things clearly, but the mind is a funny thing and what we recall happened, and what “really” did are two different things. Of course, in the end, there is little way of knowing what is correct, unless the event was a public one and well-documented. Unless? Hah. Just think of one of the most public and most highly documented events of the 20th century, the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and try to come to some conclusion from the “evidence, the facts, about what “really” happened. The truth is, no one can tell you what really happened  because everyone’s memory is different, and in that sense even though the objective evidence supposedly remains the same, each witness interprets it differently, through a different viewpoint and a different political and sociological lens. So where lie the facts of “true memory” and where is the bosh of “mere fiction” in that public event, those historically documented facts? Answer that and I am certain there must be a big prize out there somewhere for you.

But I suspect the truth is that this notion of “really happened”  is just a big brainwash by those in power who have cornered the market on their own version of it. In truth (and these words all get so sticky here), if I believe something happened one way, and this belief has informed my life and behavior, isn’t that the most important thing about the event, more important than any theoretical “facts” of the matter? Given than no agreement has been reached about something so public that it ought to be obvious, Who killed President Kennedy? how can anyone tell me that an XYZ in my own little life that I remember clearly, happened rather in the fashion that they recall and not as I do? What gives their memories more weight than my own?

You can indeed turn it around and say Fiction is memory, and be just as correct, meaning that in all the stories we make up about the world reside parts of ourselves and our lives, that nothing is ever truly “made up” or completely foreign to our experience, however outlandish the characters or strange the events described . There is a truth behind the settings and deeds that derives from one’s center, making fiction a personal memory of the deepest sort.

People have asked how I could recall with such clarity events that happened 20, 30 or 40 years ago, even down to dialogue, the way I’ve written it in DIVIDED MINDS or prospectively in BLACKLIGHT, and all I can say is — aside from the fact that out of 40 years I remember very little all told, even though what I do recall, I recall with great vividness — that I feel I remember every event I recount as clearly as if it happened yesterday. There is no guarantee, mind you, if indeed memory is fiction, that I recall anything with factual accuracy, whatever that is! I can only claim to capture what memory remains of those years, to capture my memories, no matter how time has embellished or hardened them, or in fact hardened the embellishments.

As to DIVIDED MINDS, I remembered a great deal more than what I wrote, until the book project was finished, at which point I pretty much lost it all. Once it set the years down as “my story” I feel as if I mentally deleted all other remembered events as less important, therefore forgettable…I wish this hadn’t happened as there was much I used to and wished to recall. Perhaps I have earlier versions of my book without such deletions, on my hard drive to jog my memory, but it is as Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek wrote, (I paraphrase) If you prize your memories, don’t write them down (because that solidifies them forever in a form that freezes out all others).

Nevertheless, not a word I have written either in DIVIDED MINDS or in BLACKLIGHT has been deliberately fictionalized. I remember each and everything that I have written about, though whether my memory be factually accurate or not is anyone’s guess.

 

As an aside, I know all too well how false memories may be unconsciously confabulated. When I lived at the Transitional Living Facility in Hartford in the 90s, the staff there and at the nearby hospitals were so intent on ferreting out “multiples,” the newest fad diagnosis, short for persons with Multiple Personality Disorder, that I am absolutely convinced they induced many if not most of the residents there to “remember” early childhood sexual traumas, incidents which they might never have “remembered” and which likely never happened. For instance, my friend Joe latched onto the “fact” that his father “molested” him — but the only evidence he ever gave for that was that he put his hand on his knee once while driving…Now, I never bought it, since it seemed a fatherly thing to do, a father putting his hand on the knee of a young boy! And Joe never once said that anything else ever happened between them. In fact, he always said that his father was a womanizer, if anything. Be that as it may, the residents were made to confabulate these false memories and this was a necessary prerequisite for the psychologists there to proceed to “uncover” the desired dissociative disorders, i.e. closet multiple personalities. I am telling you, it was a huge fad, and MPDs were coming out of the woodworks. I am convinced that many so-called multiples today, most of them, are residual from that terrible decade of the 90s, and they have not been able to let go of that diagnosis. Furthermore, no one, no doctor or therapist has been brave enough to deal with the lie that they were induced, even forced to buy into, and so the “fiction” is being perpetuated and their lives and no doubt others connected to them destroyed.

 

Forgive that tangent, but it is one aspect of memory — induced false memory — that does upset me, because it has destroyed so many lives, continues to, and no one is held accountable.

 

Nevertheless, for most and in most lives, those not deliberately ruined by multiple-personality-mad psychiatrists and/or overzealous psychologists, the “facts” whatever they may be don’t matter as much as  one’s memories, as I’ve pointed out. Certainly for me, I’ve lived my life through my memories, and the memories have been what has influenced me, affected me, changed me and made me into the person I am today, for good or ill.

 

I have some other thoughts on this, but it is getting very late so I must quit for now and go to bed…TTFN (ta ta for now).

Psychiatry and Abuse: restraint chair in hospital?

They restrain prisoners in this dangerous chair
Perople have died in this restraint chair -- in Guantanamo, yet they made me sit in one in Manchester Hospital in Connecticut, 2009

Some memories are returning. Not a great many but this one was triggered by something I heard briefly on television the other day, simply the mention  in some other context, of the words “restraint chair” and in an instant I flashed back (and I use those two words advisedly, since I do not actually know what is meant by a “flashback”) on something that happened when I was a priso…excuse me, patient, albeit involuntary, at Manchester Hospital in the fall of 2009.

This had been an extremely brutal stay up till then. When I was admitted the psychiatrist I was assigned to Dr BZ — I have written of this elsewhere so I won’t recap the whole thing, as memory is fickle and I may have misremembered it by now — stopped most or all of my meds, saying that if I was there, clearly they didn’t work. Then he swore I would take the one drug I refused to take: Zyprexa, and he scheduled a forced medication hearing, which naturally I would lose, having no power and only my word against his as to whether or not I needed it. Well, I did lose it, but inexplicably, and sadistically, instead of forcing on me a drug that by all accounts helped me, he changed this to TRILAFON, an old drug that did nothing for me and only made me completely miserable.

The upshot was that every time they came to me with medications, I flatly refused to take the Trilafon, even under the threat of a Haldol injection, The goon squad was called, and since I refused to quietly accept my punishment, they assaulted me, stripped me, and  forcibly injected me. This got to the point that they started four point restraining me to the bed, just to inject me…And it because such a routine that to avoid the “tiresome process” of getting out the restraints they simply left them attached to my bed. I know this not because i remember it but because my friend Josephine told me she saw them.

Me? I was so snowed by Haldol most of the time, that I could never even find my room, and had a sign in large letters taped to the door so I would simply recognize it when and if I managed to find it. Also, I was so dazed that I had to wear red slipper socks as a fall risk…but no one ever decided that maybe this was due to the drugs they were giving me!

Anyhow, one day, one day…and here is where memory kicked in after hearing those awful words on TV: one day the nurse who was most in charge of the daily torment, came to the door with another nurse pushing this large chair, and i recognized what it was at once. I had seen them before, having reviewed a book a long time before for the LA Weekly on the treatment of the mentally ill both in hospitals and prisons, a book, moreover decrying “barbaric treatments” of the past.

“You aren’t going to put me in that, are you? I’m not coming anywhere near it!” I shrank away from them and ran to the other side of my bed.

“We won’t restrain you, not  if you behave. But we want you to sit in it for today. There are no restraints on it now. It is just a comfortable chair. Come, sit down. The student nurse will be with you all day today.”

Then they essentially forced me to sit down and stay in the chair. Or else…I was terrified. and the student nurse knew it. Luckily, she would turn out to be a kind and wonderful young woman (her experience at Manchester almost drove her away from psych nursing, but  as it turned out she discovered Natchaug Hospital, and became one of their most beloved nurses). As she told me later — because memory mostly fails me here, but for her reminders — she did Reiki with me, the practice of nearly touching a person but not quite, and moving her hands along my body, not sure how it works or worked, but she later told me, at Natchaug, that I responded well to it, and stayed calm all day. I even as she said, took my meds. Which means I actually swallowed the Trilafon, probably because I couldn’t bear to have another fight in front of her.

Whatever was the case, if Reiki is as I described it, no wonder I responded well, as it was a NON-physical therapeutic way of dealing with me, non-assaultive, gentle, non-trespassing and non-brutal. Why the rest of them could not have followed suit or come up with some other way to treat me as she did, I will never know. Clearly they learned nothing from her; she left and likely they are back to treating others as they did me.

I believe they would indeed have used that chair as a restraint chair on me. I do not think they brought it in just as a comfortable chair, I believe it was to intimidate me, to cow me, but I think too that they were in fact prepared to use it. I do not have the slightest doubt. I would put nothing past those people who so brutalized me as to put me in four point restraints over and over during more than 8 days. For all I know it might have been more than eight days. I simply do NOT know, as amnesia has sealed up much more than memory preserved.

Enough for now. I need to write tomorrow about the Versatile Blogger Award that DogKisses gave to me. I am shamefully late in thanking her. And I do not know how to place the badge on my site, but she was such a lovely blogger to do so, that I do owe her her own post of thanks and appreciation.

More tomorrow.

Original WAGblog is back!

So

Hey everyone, I just found out that the original Wagblog at schhizophrenia.com is available. I started that blog in 2003 and in 2008 there was a server accident in which it seemed that my entire blog had been lost. I just happened a minute ago to try looking for it, and lo and behold it seems to be back. If you are interested in all my posts, from the original site, go below.

Good luck. I think this link will get you there. (I am writing this on my ipad so all of this is new to me. I hope that the program works here as well  as on a computer.) I think it will work now, but if not, try putting the address in manually until I get to a computer to do it properly.

http://www.schizophrenia.com/pam/

Shock Treatment (ECT) in 2004

(Edited in 3/2012 . Note that all names have been changed back to their originals except for names of the people involved. Although in Divided Minds, we were forced by the publishers to disguise everyone, including the hospitals, here descriptions of people once  changed to “protect them” have been undisguised. I write nothing but the truth as I remember it — I wrote a fair amount in my journals at the time and I referred back to my notes there in writing this — and I intend no libel in any event. In fact, I want to be as fair as possible and to bend over backwards in giving as much credit where it is due as possible.

Note, because many may have read this before, I want to

I hope this will be a chapter in BLACKLIGHT, my second memoir and a possible sequel as it were to DIVIDED MINDS.

The Ogre Has ECT: 2004

I am delivered like a piece of mail to the Hospital of St Raphael’s, on a stretcher, bound up in brown wool blankets like a padded envelope. It’s the only way the ambulance will transfer me between Norwalk Hospital and this one. The attendants disgorge me into a single room where de-cocooned, I climb down and sit on the bed. All my bags have been left at the nurses’ station for searching; this is standard procedure but I hope they don’t confiscate too much. An aide follows me in to take my BP and pulse, and bustles out, telling me someone will be back shortly. I sit quietly for a half an hour, listening to the constant complaint of the voices, which never leave me, sometimes entertaining me, most of the time ranting and carping and demanding. A thin, 30-something woman with curly blonde hair, residual acne scars that give her a kind of “I’ve suffered too” look of understanding, and rimless glasses knocks on the door-frame..

“May I come in?” she asks politely.

“I can’t stop you.” My usual. Don’t want to seem too obliging or cooperative at first.

“Well, I do need to take a history, but I can come back when you’re feeling more disposed…”

“Nah, might as well get it over with.” Then, nicer, I explain, “I was just being ornery on principle.”

“What principle is that?”

“If you’re ornery they won’t see you sweat.”

“Aah…”

“And they won’t expect you to be medication-compliant right off the bat.” I shrug my shoulders but grin, I want to think, devilishly.

“I see you have a sense of humor.”

“You should see me…”

“I’m sure we all will. A sense of humor is very healthy. But it worries me that you already plan not to take your meds.”

“I’ll only refuse the antipsychotic. Look at the blimp it’s turned me into.” I haul my extra-large tee-shirt away from my chest to demonstrate. Fatso, Lardass! Someone snipes. She doesn’t know it but you really believe you’re thin. Ha ha, you’re a house! Look at yourself! LOOK at yourself! Ha ha ha ha! The voices are telling the truth: I know the number of pounds I weigh is high, outrageously high for me, having been thin all my life, but I haven’t lost my self-image as a skinny shrimp, so I can’t get used to being what others see. The voices love to remind me how fat I really am. Only the mirror, or better, a photograph, reminds me of the honest to god truth, and I avoid those. I avert my eyes, or search the concrete for fossils, when approaching a glass door. Anything not to be shocked by what I’ve become. Pig! Glutton! It seems they don’t want to stop tonight…

I realize suddenly that I’ve lost track of the conversation.

“I don’t think they’ll allow you to do that for long.”

“Do what?”

“Don’t you remember what we were talking about? Were your voices distracting you?”

“Just thoughts, you know, plus some added insults.”

“You’ll have to take all your meds eventually.”

“Then they’ll have to switch me to a different pill, even if it’s less effective.”

She sucks the top of her pen and looked down at her clipboard. “So,” she starts the formal intake. “What brings you here to St Raphael’s?”

The voices break in there, again, confusing me. When I can get my bearings I tell her what made me transfer from Norwalk Hospital and why I opted for shock treatments. She takes a closer look at the mark of Cain I’ve burned into my forehead, writes something, then corrects me.

“We like to refer to them as ECT here. ‘Shock treatments’ brings to mind  the terrible procedures of the past. These days you feel nothing, you just go to sleep and wake up gently. I know. I assist at the ECT clinic.

“Oh, I know, I know. I’ve had ECT before. I know what it’s like and it’s a snap. I asked for this transfer because I hope it will help again.”

We talk some more about why I’m here and what I’ve been through and the voices keep to a minimum so there’s not too much interference. She says she’s going to be my primary nurse and that she thinks we’ll work well together. I nod, thinking she’s pretty okay, for a nurse.

I’ve arrived after lunch, which is served at 11:30am so someone brings me a tray and I pick at it in my room. People come in and out of my room but only speak to me a second or two before they leave, a doctor does a cursory physical, someone takes me down the hall to weigh and measure me. I return to my room, too scared to do otherwise, constrained by the Rules of the voices. The first break in the afternoon is medications in the late afternoon, when someone tells me to line up in front of a little window near the nurse’s station. When it’s my turn, I look at the pills in my cup. Ugh, 20mg of Zyprexa, an increase, plus a host of other pills I can’t remember the names of. I hand the pill back to the med nurse. I’m not taking this, it makes me fat, I say. Give me Geodon. at least I don’t put on weight with Geodon.

“Sorry, Dr Corner has ordered this one. We can’t just go around changing doctor’s orders. You either take it or you refuse.”

I was in a quandary. I hadn’t even met the doctor and already I was fighting with her? Should I take it and argue with her later? But then I’ll eat my whole dinner tray and more. Better to start off with my principles intact, so she knows what I’ll take and what I won’t take. I hand the pill back. ”Sorry, I won’t take it.”

“If you decompensate further we will have to give you a shot, you know that, don’t you?”

“I’ll be fine.” I do a little dance step.

“Yeah, and look what you’ve done to your face. Come closer.”

Wondering what she wants, I lean in gingerly, fearing her touch, but she only takes a tongue depressor and smears some ointment on the big oozing sore.

“You’re done.Go eat some supper.”

At 4:30? That’s pretty early. I can’t cross the threshold of the dining room, the Rules the voices make forbid it. I cannot enter the milling crowd, suffering little electric shocks every time my body makes contact with another’s. Instead I retreat to my room. Sitting on the edge of my bed again, I wonder what to do. How can I get supper, or any meal, if the voices won’t let me go into the dining room?

Just then, the thin blonde nurse with the glasses, what’s her name, leans into my room. “Aren’t you hungry? There’s a tray for you waiting outside the dining room.”

“They made a rule I can’t eat with other people, and I can’t get in the dining room…So I can’t eat.” I read her name tag. “Prisca.”

She smiles and glances down at the tag on her chest.  ”Oh, just call me Prissy, everyone else does. I hate it, but what can you do? What are you talking about? There’s no such rule. For now, I guess I’ll let you eat in your room, but that  is against the rules and we’ll have to get you into the dining room eventually, whatever the voices tell you.

She brings in the tray: white bread with two slices of bologna and a slice of cheese tossed on top, a packet of mayonnaise, a small green salad in a separate bowl, with a plastic slip of French dressing, and a packaged Hostess brownie for dessert. I didn’t eat lunch, though they brought it in, so even this impoverished repast looks good to me and I eat everything, despite not having taking the hated Zyprexa. I curse myself for it, of course, and do some  leg lifts and crunches for exercise afterwards. Ever since I’ve been refusing the drug, I have lost weight. Now I am down to 155 lbs from 170 the last time I weighed myself and I intend to get much thinner, since I started at 95 before medications over the years slowly put weight on me.

After supper the voices start in again, louder and louder, telling me how fat I am, how disgusting and terrible I am. I notice the clock hanging on the wall, which ticks audibly punctuating each sentence. The voices were carping, now they are threatening, and demanding…Finally, their all too familiar sequence segues into telling me I’m the most evil thing, and they don’t say person, on the planet. I’m the Ogre that ate Manhattan, I’m Satan, I’m a mass murderer, I killed Kennedy and deserve to die, die, die!

I’m wearing a heavy pair of clogs with wooden soles and almost before I can think about it, I know what to do. I heave one up at the clock, hitting it dead center. It crashes to the floor. Scrambling to grab a shard of the clear plastic cover before the staff comes running in, I lunge towards where I saw the largest piece fall, one with a long jagged point. I have my hand closed around it when someone tackles me from behind. He’s not very big and I can feel him struggling to keep me pinned. I almost succeed in stabbing myself, but he manages to engulf my hand with his two and press them closed against the flat sides of the shard.

Other people  crowd into the room now and they pry the shard from me and grab my arms and legs so I’m completely immobilized. Then at a word murmured by one of the male aides who have materialized out of nowhere, they swing me up onto the bed, like pitching a sand bag onto a levee. I scream but they ignore me and strap my ankles and wrists into leather cuffs which have been rapidly attached to the bed frame: four point restraints.

I continue to scream and scream, but nobody pays attention. A nurse comes at me with a needle,  saying it is Haldol and Ativan and proceeds to inject me. Although I am still crying that I want to die, that I’m Satan, the Ogre that ate Manhattan, that I killed Kennedy, I’m the evil one, the room then empties, except for a heavy-set café-au-lait sitter, who hollers louder than I do that her name is Caledonia. She pulls up a chair in the doorway, pulls out a cosmetics bag and proceeds to do her nails in spite of me.

I am told by Prissy that I scream most of the evening and keep the whole unit awake until given a sleeping pill and another shot. All I remember is restless twilight sleep coming at last, broken when a short sandy-haired woman, dressed in a sweater set and skirt, comes in and takes my pulse. I’m groggy with medication but she speaks to me nonetheless.

“I’m , Dr Corner, your doctor. You’ve had a bad night I see. Well, perhaps tomorrow we’ll get a chance to talk.”

“Get me out of these things!” I mumble angrily. I can’t sleep like this!”

“”Not yet. You’re not ready. But try your best to sleep now. We’ll re-evaluate things in the morning.”

Then she turns and is gone.

As I get to know her, I will like Dr Corner for her kindness, toughness and honesty, but I will hate her too for opposite reasons and it will be a long time before I  know whether the liking or the hating or something else entirely wins out.

The first thing that makes me know ECT is going to be different at St Raphael’s than the to the ECT suite in wheelchairs, the way I’ve known since childhood all hospital patients must travel. We walk there, all of us, down interminable corridors, around several corners, through doors to more of the same. In short by the time we get there I have no idea where we are.  I said it was a snap when I had it before, but now I feel like a prisoner going to the hangman, a “dead man walking.” Something about our going there in a group, under our own steam, makes it feel like punishment, like having to cut your own switch, not a medical procedure at all. This sets my nerves on edge. Then, when we finally get to the rooms clearly marked “ECT Suite,” instead of the doctor being ready for us so there’s no time to anticipate or fear what is ahead, we have to wait and wait and wait: we’re told the outpatients have to be “finished up” first. My apprehension grows. I’m used to getting to the ECT rooms and immediately climbing up on the table and getting it over with. Waiting and having time to think about it brings me close to tears.

Finally four in-patients are to be taken. I think the nurse calling us in senses I am too anxious to wait any longer, for she makes sure I’m with the first group. I clamber up on the table, and see Dr Corner looking down at me, smiling. I notice how white her teeth are and the little gap in her shirt across her chest as she bends over me, strapping something over my forehead as Prissy puts a needle into the heplock already in my arm. I feel my arms and legs quickly cuffed down by others in the team, a mask clamps down over my face and I’m told to breathe, breathe in deeply and I breathe and breathe and a chasm in hell opens and the demons reach out and scream as I plummet past into a terrible inky blackness…

I wake up a second later and immediately vomit into a kidney basin hastily held out by a nurse. “Why didn’t you do it?” I cry out, confused. “Why didn’t you do it, why did you made me wait? I can’t go through this again!”

Strangely, Dr Corner has disappeared, and so have Prissy and the nurses that had surrounded me just an instant before. Instead a plump, baby-faced older nurse smiles as she takes away the kidney basin and says, kindly, “You’ve been sleeping  soundly for an hour. They did the treatment already and you’re waking up. How about trying to sit up now?” Slowly, I push myself to a sitting position and swing my legs over the edge of the table. No dizziness, no more nausea. I feel okay, except for a slight headache. So I slide off the table and ask where to go. Surely they won’t make me stay a long while this time. The nurse leads me to a wheelchair and asks an aide to take me back to the unit. Ah, a chair at last. At least I’m not expected to walk on my own after that ordeal.

ECT Takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week and though I vomit many times upon waking up, that is the least of it. What I dread most is the anesthesia, how I plunge from perfect alertness into the dark pit and feel like I wake a second later, sick and confused. I grow more and more afraid until, at the end of a series of 8 sessions, I refuse to go on to a second, even though my symptoms are still severe and Caledonia comes to sit with me one to one more often than not. Dr Corner tries to persuade me, but I am adamant, No more ECT. Then she threatens to have the next series court-ordered  and to add insult to injury, she says she will force me to take Zyprexa as well, the drug I so hate. I explode.

“What! You f—ing can’t do that! I’m a free citizen, I’m not a danger to myself or anyone else.”

“In fact, I can do it, and I am going to do it, whether you like it or not. You need more ECT and unfortunately you refuse the only drug that is effective for you. Pam, look, how can you say you’re not a danger to yourself? Look at your forehead! That’s not the mark of  I  it’s just self-mutilation. Look at where you carved that mark into your hand when we weren’t watching you carefully enough. Isn’t that danger enough?”

“But I’m NOT going to kill myself. I don’t want to die. I just want to be disfigured so no one will want to be around me and they’ll stay safe and uncontaminated.”

Dr Corner’s eyes suddenly glitter and she has to blink a couple of times. “Well, I’m not going to let you continue to do what you want. Period.”

She was standing at the foot of my bed, one foot on a lower rung, casually holding a clipboard. But she moves closer to me, standing to one side, the clipboard clasped business-like across her chest. Gazing intently at me, she shakes her head in what appears to be sadness.  I’m not sad, I know what I have to do. I don’t understand why she feels this is so terrible, but I know enough to remain quiet. Finally, she turns and quietly slips out of the room.

This alarms me; it shocks me. I know she means what she says. Dr Corner never lies. Worst of all, Dr O’Hayley, my outpatient psychiatrist, has signed off on it well, agreeing  it is the only thing left to do, that already I’ve been in the hospital two months and little has changed, that the situation is desperate. The problem is that to get a court order I have to have a conservator who will agree to it. They appoint my twin sister and they discuss with her whether or not she’ll agree to forcing more ECT on me, in addition to Zyprexa. Despite fearing that I’ll hate her, she too is convinced there are no other options.

So Dr Corner wins and I endure eight more ECT sessions. Finally I’m discharged, much improved, so everyone says, a month later, promising, as a condition of my release, that I’ll continue to take Zyprexa. I do promise, even though my history clearly suggests that I will not.  I’m also supposed to return once every two weeks for maintenance ECT treatments and Dr Corner threatens me with a police escort if I don’t comply. But this time I thumb my nose at her. So, she’s going to get both the Hartford and the New Haven police involved? She thinks they are going to bother to arrest me just to drive me down to the hospital for ECT, something they themselves probably consider barbaric? J’en doute fort. I doubt that big time! In fact, after a call to the Legal Rights Project, I learn that any conservatorship was dissolved the moment I was discharged from St Raphaels and that the doctor has no power over me at all now, zilch. So I write Dr Corner a nice apologetic letter, but sorry, doc, no more ECT for me. Ever.

Several months later I pour lighter fluid over my left leg and set it on fire. So much for the restorative powers of electroshock treatments.

New Poems and Update on Joe and also on Pam

 

In truth, of the following poems one is not really new, since it was published some years ago in a volume called “Three Poets” (no longer available) put out by the Tunxis Poetry Review of Tunxis Community College in Connecticut. But I have always liked it. I will be including both in my second poetry collection, so I am putting them here as a kind of enticement, even though neither is about mental illness and/or schizophrenia. (Those I hope to “pre-publish”  before the book is out…maybe…)

 

BTW: A few notes for clarity and in case you are not familiar with a few words, forgive me: “lieder” means Romantic songs, in German,  “Bawds” comes from the same root as “bawdy” and means, essentially, “bawdy women”, “a water strider” is an insect… “la nostalgie de la boue” translates as “a longing to be back in the mud.” Also, I am sorry that I could not space it better, but the cut and paste option did not allow it.

 

CONSIDER THE BULLFROG

 

who

night and day

belches “jug-o-rum”

to a teetotaling

bog; whose noisy

lieder of drink

and bawds last all

summer long;

who nibbles

asterisks

of water striders

dimpling the surface

of the black pond

and ensnares

tangy damselflies

with the quick ribbon

of his tongue;

who after all

is not a Prince

in disguise; who

suffers himself to be

pithed for science;

who sculls

through sweet

mud in la nostalgie

de la boue; who

is Frog among frogs;

who needs no god;

who does not know

he will die.

 

The other poem, which is new but which I do not believe I will publish before I publish the book, is this one, a “nature poem” of a sort. It was written for my writing group “prompt” on the word “song or singing” as I recall…

 

THE SONG OF THE ANT

“For the listener, who listens in the snow...Wallace Stevens

 

In those days I was always cold

as I had been a long time, mindful of winter

even at the solstice of my high summer days

 

 

always, always the crumb and crust of loss

and near-loss of everything held dear

before the saison d’enfers and the ice to come

 

 

There was always the wind

There was the wind making music,

and I, at one with the quirky stir of air

 

 

bowing the suppliant trees

bowing the branches of those trees for the sound

of songs long held in their wood

 

 

Changes change us: rings of birth, death, another season

and we hold on for nothing and no reason

but to sing.

 

 

Joe has rallied some, yes! yet again, though he is clearly in a terminal decline. Last Thursday, a week ago, we thought he might survive only a day or two,  as he was in and out of consciousness and looked frankly terrible. But the following Saturday he was surprisingly alert again, and so it goes.

 

I was unable to visit him until yesterday, due to sheer exhaustion, and an inability to get a ride there  so that I didn’t have to drive myself in an unsafe state. But when I saw him — that is, Friday —  he was actually able to manage a bit of a smile, and appeared happy to see me. His first words in fact, spelled out on the letter board, were not about him but instead were, “You are beautiful” — what a sweetheart! When I asked him how he was, he spelled only that he was tired. He did tell me that he had trouble hearing, and when I offered to get the nurse to clean out his ear and fix the towel that blocked his other ear, he was grateful. But we couldn’t talk long as he grew weary after a scant twenty minutes. I offered to cut my visit short and return on Monday. That turns out to be easier on both of us anyhow as the letterboard is difficult for each of us in different ways.

 

joe’s level of consciousness remains variable. The irreparable and growing leak in his stoma (a “stoma” literally means a hole, which in this case is the hole in his throat and trachea that holds the tube through which air flows from the machine into his lungs) means that his O2 — oxygen — levels vary tremendously. The fact that he is also very “tired” is also an indication of lowered O2 concentration, though he may not understand this.

 

He did as I reported last time  agree to the DNR designation (Dr O, with whom I have been in touch, because she was so helpful with Joe early in his illness, told me that this is now called AND — Allow Natural Death). I do not think he completely understood its meaning, though, as he asked me two days later. I had to tell him it meant no heroic measures “like cracking his chest and massaging his heart” to make it truly clear to him, even though, if true, it also sounds a little extreme…After all, artificial ventilation is already a heroic measure!

 

As it is, unless the fistula forms (in his case a pathological kind of tube or passageway) forms between an artery that branches off of his aorta, and his weakened tracheal walls, which would cause nearly immediate death (with hopefully immediate unconsciousness without suffocation or any “drowning in his own blood” sensation), it looks like he will die of slow oxygen depletion and carbon dioxide build up. This would probably be the best way…Although his cousin tells  horror stories about “hypercapnia” I think he has been researching traumatic and acute cases of such carbon dioxide excess and not the slowly developing kind that Joe is experiencing. From all I muyself have read about ALS and respiratory failure, Joe’s dying should be painless and “easy.”. Especially if he only gets more and more tired and simply falls asleep…

I have been very weepy about this, esp when Joe has not been able to be very alert and it looked like death was near. But on Friday though he was “tired” he actually spent more time asking me how I was doing than  talking about himself…He “talks” mind you, by spelling via the letterboard. Which means that he looks at me to say yes, and away to say no, while I go down the board by row, and then across the letters, saying them by name…It is very laborious, less so for me because I have memorized the board, than for him because it is clearly tiring. I no longer stay more than a half hour, and try to keep it to 15 minutes. I try also to visit more often than once a week, and if I can, I go every two days or so. Still, as you can imagine, it can get exhausting.

 

I hope I haven’t repeated myself several times in the above, but if I have, forgive me.  I too am tired, though hardly as tired as Joe and not for anything near the same reasons. It is only the stress of having two dear friends “in extremis” so to speak, Joe near death, and Cy seemingly  having surrendered to “fading away.” I know that Cy is 92 and lost his beloved wife three years ago, and it is, I suppose, his right to want to “fade away” but goddam it, his physical health is pretty damn good, but for his own deliberate neglect of it. And it pains me to see that, if nothing else, he is just allowing himself to abdicate living and not even trying to accept treatment, either for his physical ailments nor for any depression.

 

Anyhow, I myself am not depressed at all, sad, yes, weepy as I said, yes, but in general just tired, sometimes headachey, but well enough. I just need to carve out enough time for myself to recuperate each week and NOT visit so much that I cannot do so. I know I need to find enough time to write and do art, as both replenish me in ways that spending time talking with others does not always do, much as I love my many friends. Hey, just writing here has done something towards that end. So thanks for listening, all you, and I’ll be Bach if you’ll be Beethoven for me…(okay that’s a stretch but I hope you’ll be waiting for me, nonetheless.)

 

 

Brad P. Olson’s New Poem: a Must-Read

I loved this small gem of a poem, which I hope Brad doesn’t mind my stealing off his site and posting here. It can also be found at Brad’s site:  http://bradolsonwriting.wordpress.com/

The Day You Were Born

For Grace

The day you were born

I held you swaddled
in the crook of my arm.

Now, 10 months later,

you turn your head
as I try to wipe your nose.

I could hold your head still,

but, to do that,
I’d have to put you down . . .

I don’t look forward to the day
when you’re too grown up

to carry from one place to another.

© 2011 by Brad P. Olson. All Rights Reserved.

Delusions of Grandeur

To all whose websites I had linked to, I had to take them down because my email was hacked, but I will post them again soon. The email problem is completely resolved now.

________________________________________________________

First I will paste in what I wrote back in 2006 about Delusions of Grandeur, henceforth  reduced to the easy-to-understand shorthand, DoG. (Sorry, all you dog-lovers out there!) Then I will elaborate and/or explain where I differ in my thinking now.

From July 2006, then (with a few edits for easier reading):

Delusions of Grandeur

Where do they come from? Mine were usually of a negative grandeur as you know. I was  the devil, the most evil person in the world, I needed to kill myself or burn myself to a crisp in order to save the world from my poison. I even went so far as to set my leg on fire, prelude to setting myself on fire in order to do this, and burned marks on my forehead to prove I was Cain, so people would be warned and stay away…as a result I have had ECT, been restrained, isolated, locked up for months and all the other humiliating things they do to people they think might seriously hurt themselves or others. And obviously I might have, and did. But whence came this sort of thought? And why do others believe they are God or Jesus Christ or as one person I met claimed, the song-writer who provided John Lennon with his music. Their delusions may seem more positive than mine, yet I know they suffered much as I did, probably because they too went unbelieved and scoffed-at. Where does this kind of false belief, clung to in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, come from?

I’m not completely sure but DoG seem, both in their positive and negative incarnations, to derive from a terrible feeling that you lack self-worth in the world, your secret knowledge — if you have SZ or another devastating mental illness, that it has robbed you of everything you were supposed to have, be and do, that you are entirely useless and empty and without value in life. The illness itself produces this feeling, and the feeling is secondarily strengthened as a result of having the illness. People who develop DoG respond to their feelings of worthlessness  with the conscious or unconscious fantasy of a powerful false-self to make up for the lack of real power — to do, to be, to create in life. Others, like me, accept our lack of value, only we exaggerate it until it becomes the dominant factor in our lives and colors everything, so that we cannot but refer everything to it and see all through its lens. We become convinced that if everything in our lives is contaminated by our worthlessness, maybe everything in the entire world is contaminated as well.

I don’t understand the transition from feelings of worthlessness to actual belief in false and grandiose facts, the transition to delusion. But I believe the connection is there, from lack of any sense of self-esteem transitioning somehow to delusions of grandeur. And that either positive or negative delusions all derive from a negative feeling, a lack of positive self-regard. I don’t think anyone who truly feels good about him or herself would ever suffer in such a way…

_______________________________________________________

I must have gotten tired near the end there, as it feels to me as if I simply gave up midway, and relinquished my train of thought, and my pen, so to speak, before I’d even tried to finish. Be that as it may, on rereading the piece, my first impression, the first thing that struck me and struck me with a punch was my use of the past tense when I was describing my own experiences with DoG. This seems to me, even now, as stranger than strange. Does it mean that there was actually a time, and relatively recent to boot, when I did not believe myself to be the devil, not feel that I was evil, did not secretly want, though in a controllable way (controllable in the sense that I will not do it, so fearful am I that it would eventuate in another terror-filled hospital stay…) to destroy myself via the flames? So it seems, but if so, I have as assuredly forgotten how that felt, how such thinking was as an experience, as I have the entire 6 weeks I spent in the hospital this past April and May. Which is to say, “utterly and completely.”

What I can say now, is that it is much harder to write about DoG at any distance, or with any real so-called insight into myself (despite reading my own words) because the feelings of evil and worthlessness I wrote about in the past tense then are so strong now, in the 2010 present. I won’t, at this time, ask (rhetorically) What happened? That is for another essay. But I will admit that for me to continue with this discussion I will have to refer to what I have observed about others and their DoG, rather than any I may or may not experience myself.

Zo! Here are basic definitions, lest you have forgotten them. For my nutshells, I quote the online Free Dictionary (thefreedictionary.com).

Delusion: an idiosyncratic false belief that is firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.

Delusion of Grandeur or Grandiose delusion delusional conviction of one’s own importance, power, or knowledge or that one is, or has a special relationship with, a deity or a famous person.

delusion of persecution a delusion that one is being attacked, harassed, persecuted, cheated, or conspired against.
delusion of reference a delusional conviction that ordinary events, objects, or behaviors of others have particular and unusual meanings specifically for oneself.
Now, thinking about the problem I had when I first wrote about DoG, take that fellow I met, the putative song-writer of all John Lennon’s songs. He was not a happy guy. He gave not the slightest appearance of being thrilled that his songs were so popular and that Lennon had chosen them out of all the offerings he could have picked to sing and record. He claimed that he had given them freely, and wanted neither fame nor fortune, as I recall. But what troubled him, it seemed to me, what that “we,” the — I dunno what you would call “us” — ordinary people, not the rich and famous, not the celebrities with whom Lennon would have hobnobbed, but the (where did I get this word?) lumpen-prole. Actually, I think it was rather much smaller than that, even. I think what troubled him was that  other patients and staff members in the hospital (at that particular time) didn’t care, appreciate, value or even believe his great contribution to the musical world. Nevertheless, despite the use of very controversial ECT (shock treatments — which were rarely used in schizophrenia, and even today are not used often for SZ) his delusion persisted throughout his stay, and by the time I was ready for discharge after 2 months, he was being transferred to a longer stay facility.
Needless to say, whether a delusion of grandeur is “positive”, which is to say that the power one arrogates to oneself is “good” –one is God or Michelangelo or John Lennon’s songwriter, or whether it is “negative” in the sense that one believes one has the power of The Black Plague, the Great Influenza or Satan etc, there can on occasion be little else to distinguish them. Unbelieved, scoffed at, dismissed, ignored,  no one thrives. For some reason too, and again this is solely from the point of view of my experience, people with schizophrenia experience this dismissal, this isolation (from and by others) much more often than those with bipolar illness. This is not so incomprehensible either.
Someone who experiences mania may and often does espouse vastly grandiose delusions, but they can at first be so ebullient, so enormously cheerful and expansive (I think of poets such as Walt Whitman, whose Leaves of Grass, written and rewritten so many times, and so long and expansive itself it almost screams manic-depression — if you can forgive an exceedingly amateur diagnosis) that people are drawn to them, at least at first and for a time. In the grips of mania, a person can convince “anyone to do anything” they are that persuasive and indeed charming, in every sense of the word. But at a minimum, most do not drive everyone away from them, not at least in the beginning. So when a manic person says they wrote the songs that John Lennon sang, one is tempted to at least half believe them, and say, “Hey, you did? Cool! Tell me more.” But that fellow in the hospital, no one so much as listened to him, nor gave him the time of day when he went into his “thing” about Lennon’s songs, and so he was simply left alone to talk to himself.
Hmmm, have I wandered off the topic, or gone too far astray from where I was supposed to be heading? Well, if I have, forgive me. It’s the sort of thing I do all the time in my journal, and frankly it is far too late at night for me to remedy it, alas. So I will stop here, take a stab at proofreading, and hope I have written at least a few things for you to ponder.
As you know, I will be away from the 14th through the 21st, at the Writers’ Fellowship, so if I do not write before then, never fear. I shall write when I get home. (On the other hand, since a Silent Retreat will be going on at the same time, and since there is also Wi-Fi connectivity in the main social area or somewhere — and no one there to socialize with, who knows, I might even avail myself of the internet, and post something from there!)
Get to bed and sleep tight, all youse who are still up with me.
PS I do not know why the paragraphs in the last half keep running together but they simply will not separate no matter how many spaces I edit in between them…sorry!

My Pyramid Tracker, plus Another Medication Change

Before I tell you about the most recent medication change, I want to let you know about  My Pyramid Tracker at  http://www.mypyramidtracker.gov, a website of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. My Pyramid refers to the new and improved USDA food pyramid (http://www.mypyramid.gov) which, by the way, recommends only five and a half ounces of meat or beans a day, which is just a little over a quarter of a pound. The pyramid tracker website is one I highly recommend, however, especially  if you are interested in losing weight or in keeping track of what you eat and how much you exercise. In fact, it is a website worth looking at even if you are only curious about how many calories you expend in everyday activities. You can use it  every day or once a week or on any schedule you choose, and all you need to do is follow the easy instructions at the end of any given day to see how you did, though it helps if you jot down what you eat during the day, so you don’t forget entirely. Every time you log in, the site keeps track, so you can see stats later on about how you are trending.

My Pyramid and the Pyramid Tracker are great sites for general nutrition info, calorie calculation and the general calculation of energy expenditure in your daily life. You can compare what you expend to your daily calorie requirements. That is, by counting such activities of daily life as dish-washing and childcare and yard-work as forms of exercise the site will tell you how many calories you expended on them. It also calculates your BMI — body mass index — your ideal weight, and how to achieve it as well.

Click this

If you happen to be interested solely in finding out how many  calories are in a given food, however, the Nutrient Data Lab website is great. It has a large number of brand name foods as well as fresh and raw foods as well: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/index.html

Should you be on medication that causes weight gain, or makes it difficult to lose what weight you formerly put on, check out those sites (above). They could make a big difference, or at least be a helpful tool in your efforts to keep your weight under control. But two things nonetheless are very important:

Please, do not beat yourself up if you cannot lose weight.

Remember that will power is a matter of chemistry, not bad character.

In fact, in FACT, it is your meds and the chemical changes that they produce in your brain that has caused you to gain weight. It is NOT your schizophrenia and it is NOT your fault. Do not believe whatever they say about research “proving” a close link between your diabetes and your having schizophrenia. That is utter B.S. Diabetes is on the rise everywhere in the country and its increase is directly related to obesity: one gets obese because one eats more calories than one expends. Being more than a little overweight is known to be a huge factor in Diabetes, type II (insulin insensitivity).

Now it is true that you might have been or become overweight without the meds, but I assure you that certain meds all but guarantee it. When researchers have the gall to say that somehow obesity is directly or in some sense causally related to schizophrenia, or that diabetes is genetically connected to schizophrenia, that is a load of hogwash, and I suspect those researchers are on the take from certain well-known drug manufacturers. I’ll bet that for many of you who were once thin before you took medication, whether it was the older drugs or the newer atypicals, it was only when you started taking antipsychotics (and some antidepressants as well) that you began to gain weight, sometimes massive amounts. But “they” want to tell you that it has “nothing to do with the meds” no, it is YOU, it is your illness, not the Zyprexa or the Seroquel or the Risperdal that caused the weight gain, or for that matter, not the Thorazine or the Mellaril or the Prolixin. We know better. They also want to tell us that if we die 25 years earlier than our peers, that is our mental illness speaking or our own fault (somehow) and not their iatrogenic — that is to say, medically-caused, doctor-caused —  drug-related obesity, diabetes and heart disease. I won’t even mention the generally dismissive attitude of many doctors towards the physical complaints of anyone with a major psychiatric diagnosis, it is no minor problem.

So, what to do? Well, there is not much you can do at this time, if you have found a med that works well for you and are able and willing to tolerate the weight gain and potential side effects from it. In some ways I admire those who will make this trade-off, though I worry that they will lose their new found lives early because of it, in which  case is it really worth it? But I know that for some people it indeed is, and I would never question their choices. For me, I am lucky enough to have responded to at least one less-weight problematic drug besides the miracle drug/drug from hell Zyprexa, which is the combo: Abilify/Geodon. The Geodon by itself seemed to me virtually worthless, at least it seemed to do almost nothing for me in terms of improving my cognition or creativity. The Abilify vastly increased my cognition and such, but at the expense of extreme irritability and rage. However, the serendipitous co-administration of the two solved the problems of each so that now I can feel creative and cognitively less impaired (I still cannot read, alas) and yet I am not at all irritable or enraged. Added to that is the fact that my appetite is under control again. While I have not yet started to lose weight, which is already at a decent level, according to most people (just not me) I no longer find myself raiding the fridge constantly or exhibiting uncontrollable food-seeking behavior all day, hungry or no. It feels much better not to feel yanked around by the nose by a med that never let me feel in control of myself…

But what happened to the Saphris? Well, two things: one, I simply could not sleep, and that is a weird thing for someone with narcolepsy to complain of! It was great to be awake all day, but I was awake all night as well. I would but up except for an hour or two for days on end, and it was exhausting. But worse, according to my psyche, was the fact that I ate less than 700 calories a day, walked 8 miles a week, — keeping track via mypyramidtracker.gov and the nutrient data lab — and yet after 2.5 weeks, I didn’t lose a single pound. This was so terribly depressing that I had to change it, had to go back to the Geodon and Abilify on which I got to the weight I was truly comfortable at a couple of years ago…Now, though, I have to try hard, and i will, because I am determined to get there. My father is always saying, Appetite comes in eating. Well, he is absolutely correct. But the opposite is also true, because the less I eat, the less I want, and the more I forget to eat, the more I, well, forget to eat…As far as I am concerned that is fine with me.

I think that is all that I have energy for today, because I want to continue to read Karen Sorensen’s site and blog, which I haven’t seen for a long while. Her art is so creative. It might be called, as my professionally trained artist friend said, Outsider Art, but nevertheless she has such an imagination that I feel stunned. I simply cannot let myself go and “let it all hang out” as we used to say in the “old days.” I don’t know how to do it, not graphically. Not pictorially. I am so hung up on getting my pictures and portraits perfect that I cannot relax and let my mind run free. I can do so in poetry, let things happen, and to hell with what my inner self is “really” saying, Let the shrinks figure it out! But in a painting or collage, I have to be in control, I don’t know why. Perhaps because I am so new at it…?

Thanks Karen. I love your gallery, where I can “flip through” your art works and see them en masse.

I also have to visit Kate Kiernan’s  Ying and Yang blog as her writing is as good as her art, which is saying a great deal. I am not sure which I like better, though I don’t really need to choose, as her writing is very different from her paintings. Kate is also a terrific songwriter/singer as well. On her blog you can sample all three. She is truly one of the most talented people I know.

You can find both Karen’s and Kate’s websites on my sidebar.

Three Schizophrenia Blogs plus…

Judy Chamberlin was hospitalized for depression in 1966 and then against her will in a state hospital, which she found horrific. That experience spurred her life work as an advocate for psychiatric patients and better treatment, gentler, more dignified treatment in fact. But I should not tell her story, because I only today found her blog, thanks to Bill W. No, you can read it in part at the Boston Globe here

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/03/22/a_talk_with_judi_chamberlain/

and then follow it in more detail at her blog here:

 

http://judi-lifeasahospicepatient.blogspot.com/#mce_temp_url#

 

A WONDERFUL blog is Yin and Yang, Kate K’s blog at http://wanderer62.blogspot.com  

 

Kate writes of her journey from schizophrenia down the road to become the person she is inside, the person she wants to be. This entails describing in her wonderful, meditative prose her efforts to regain her singing and songwriting, her ongoing painting enterprise and her struggles with weight and fitness, voices, and isolation. Along the way, there are forays into spirituality — both buddhist and otherwise, all laced together with Kate’s careful and exquisitely thoughtful reasoning. 

 

As for Christina Bruni’s website with articles, memoir and blog, let her speak for herself, because she says it best: “My goal is to be the Rachael Ray of the recovery movement. Have you ever seen this chatty, gregarious cooking expert and lifestyle show host? One day I watched her on TV while I waited in the doctor’s office. Her infectious good humor cheered me so much that I wanted to tape her shows and replay them at night when I got home from work.

It was then that I decided that I want everyone who meets me—whether in person or on paper—to feel good afterwards. I’m open and honest about what happened to me because I believe that people can recover. “Only silence is shame,” to quote the Italian anarchist, Bartolomeo Vanzetti. And if I kept quiet, what would be the point?

I seek to be a force of good in the world, because the illness destroys, and through my recovery I want to create things of beauty and show people a better way.  Quite simply, I couldn’t bear to see someone go through what I did and feel there is no hope, or worse, not get the treatment that works.  If I remained silent, I’d be complicit in perpetuating the stigma.”

 

http://www.christinabruni.com/index.html

 

 

Overcoming Schizophrenia, which is Ashley’s site, is also tremendous. She is in her 20s, an accomplished writer, and though younger than the rest of us, that is an advantage. She can talk about what it is like to recover from a first episode and the hope that recent diagnosis and rapid treatment now offers.

 

http://overcomingschizophrenia.blogspot.com