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“The Pessimist Sees Difficulty In Every Opportunity. The Optimist Sees Opportunity In Every Difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

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Trauma, And the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Psychiatric Take Down and Restraint

I wrote a version of this in a comment at Linda Lee/lady quixote’s Blog: http://ablogabouthealingfromPTSD.wordpress.com

Hi Linda,

Someone I met here in Brattleboro, really just an acquaintance, maybe 2 or 3years ago said, “get over it!” about the trauma I have experienced, and I found that enormously damaging just in itself. My “guide” Wendy, never tells me such things and she is fully committed to helping people who deal with great traumas. Another thing is that true is that global amnesia, such as I had and still have for a couple of weeks-long hospital stays in their entirety, (and I also have amnesia for other life experiences that were documented as having happened but are lost to my memory,)  this sort of global amnesia cannot be self-induced. You either can remember what happened or you cannot.

What I have found very helpful, and this may not be something you can or even choose to do, is this: I find that when my thoughts erupt or are triggered by something in the present, into a spasm of terrible memories, the resulting emotions and anger etc are so paralyzing and painful that I did consciously decide “I’m not going there, not until and unless it is safe for me to do so.” To that end, when I notice my thoughts turning bad, I immediately find anything to distract myself away from that terrible rut that trauma has clear-cut into my cortex. 

I know the emotions stem from the thoughts I think, and they constitute the story about them I tell myself. So if I try to tell a different story, like, for instance, “okay, that was my life then, but I am here now and if I  am happy now then all of my past including the trauma, has brought me here and I would not be here without it all, yes,  even the trauma.” BUT I fully confess that re-telling my story in a more positive way does not work when I am acutely triggered, so that is when distraction plays a huge role. 

In some sense, I understand that I cannot remain attached to my story of abuse and victimization, because in a  real way this will only lead me down that same trauma path, and even “attract further victimization and trauma”..But to explore these things requires a feeling of safety, which is not usually available, so I get relief from the thinking instead, by distractions and doing things with my mind that I love. Like studying or reading French, or listening to songs, because the verbal aspect of both tend to crowd out the insistent trauma memories. 

As Wendy says, it is a practice, like any spiritual practice, to know when your thoughts are headed down an unhelpful path way and to consciously decide not to “indulge” their wish to ruin your day! It does take a lot of practice to do this, and I would be the last to say it is easy. On the other hand, I know there is a safe place for them, for me to experience the memories and even triggers in security, and that is during my sessions with Wendy. She allows these to be as long as necessary for me to get through things, so they are usually 2-2.5 hours every time. But the thing is, knowing I can hold on and let things “in” in a safe place with her allows me to also decide NOT to let them in or to control me at other  times.

I hope this makes sense. It might not be your cuppa tea, and I dunno if you have a safe place/person with whom you could both process memories or at least let them out, but who also, by being a safe person, might allow you to go the distraction route. I myself have found it very helpful…and you know (I know you above all know!) how terribly I have been tormented by my memories of trauma.

The idea that even trauma memories are part of the story of our lives that we write or create and can de-create also helps me. Because I can decide, of, say, someone who brutalized me, well, in their story I was only a bit character, and they likely told and tell themselves something entirely different from my story about it. But I understand that these are all stories, all dramas, that are not really Truth…and if we can retell the story In such a way as to increase ours and the worlds happiness, that should be our aim. 

More to come about blame and being victimized but I have stuff to do and need to distract myself from the pain that even writing about trauma brings on. 

Love to all,

phoebe

Why We Should Not Take Things Personally

Miguel Ruiz in his THE FOUR AGREEMENTS has a lot to say about not taking things personally (TTP) and I have found his explanation immensely helpful. (Btw, This was originally a comment I wrote today on a column about not taking things personally at Psych Central.)

The first thing is to realize and understand that each person, while we are all part of a greater humanity, sees the world from his or her own perspective, the point of view that is utterly individual and conditioned by everything that has happened to that person. We see ourselves in one way, as the Center of our own world and point of view (how could it be otherwise?) but the fact is that others see us differently, because to them we are just a player on the stage of their own drama. When for example I might say to someone, “I love you” and mean it, that person, because of their history and life narrative, could hear it with many other feelings attached, and not hear my simple words as warm and sincere! Say that person had experienced the words “I love you” as a way for a someone to “manipulate them” or even to con them into doing what they did not want? Perhaps then the person I said “I love you” to will experience my words as dishonest, or a preface to a con, or just as manipulative. That does not mean ANYthing about my intent or my words themselves; it just says that for the other person, such words to them are unwanted because he or she had a life history where they were spoken dishonestly or manipulatively. That person’s view point is different from mine, as is everyone else’s and i cannot control either what or how they feel, or their reaction or perception of me and the world.

As a bit player on everyone else’s stage, where they are of course their own “star,” the “I” that I know, that is to say me as that player in their stage, is seen from their point of view and colored or discolored by their personal drama. Of course it is necessary to remember that everyone or mostly everyone is also taking what I say personally, but from a point of view I can neither control nor truly understand, because I am not that person! If they hear my “I love you” as a threat, does it help me or the situation to take their response personally? Of course not. I know I meant the words honestly but I also know that whatever they “heard” is not under my control.

More important though is the necessity (if we want to live happily and in peace in this world) not to take others’ words or behaviors personally even when they are “intended to be personal” ! This is not easy, because as the captain of our own ships, the star of the universe of our own perceptions, we hear and see all from the viewpoint of our dramas too. However, even such an “intentionally hurtful” remark, such as, “You are so stupid!”does not need to be taken as insulting or personal in any way. In fact, I would ask how it helps the situation if we do!

If instead of reacting from the POV that hears an insult, we take that NVC pause that marshall Rosenberg talks about, we could analyse the statement about being stupid and realize that even the intent to be hurtful is neither hurtful nor “personal”. The words, “you are so stupid” have in fact nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the other person’s history, drama, and point of view. What they perceive of me comes from this and I cannot control them or their feelings. Maybe yes, they are just having a bad day, or maybe their words come from a reaction to something they heard or perceived in the past. Or maybe what I did, from their point of view, felt to them somehow “stupid.” I cannot know. I can only know that it will never help me live a happier or more fulfilling life if I get insulted and yell back because I believe they “should” not have said those words. If on the other hand I use NVC to understand that the “you are so stupid” has NOTHING at all to do with reality, but was derived from their POV alone, I can ask myself (and even them) about it without feeling rancor or insulted…

The thing is to inquire whether TTP contributes to life’s value and happiness, which I am convinced it does not.

I am sure I have not done justice here to either Ruiz’ THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, or to Rosenberg’s NVC, but I try to live life without TTP, without taking things personally, because doing so has made me happier, easier to be with, and more productive and creative. What better argument for this than that not taking anything personally makes life, as Rosenberg liked to say, “more wonderful “?

My best to you all,

phoebe

Staff Personality Disorder

I am reprinting this here because it is so true, and because it cannot be located elsewhere on the net, at least not via Google…The author was brilliant but, alas, I can find no name for attribution. A BIG Thank you to Anonymous!

 

 Criteria for Staff Personality Disorder

Personality Disorders

Staff Personality Disorder 601.83

A pervasive pattern of condescension, degradation of others, and controlling behavior beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Condescending or degrading use of body language, vocal inflection, and behavior.

2. Presentation of two or more markedly different personality styles based entirely on context.

3. Persistent protection of people in positions of power even if such people have done something unethical or illegal.

4. Employment in one of the “helping professions”, or other situations in which a person has or can secure power over others.

5. Rigidity in application of rules and explanations to other people

6. Persistent or stereotyped use of euphemisms, jargon, deceptive language, and double standards in language

7. Persistent use of degradation, ridicule, and violence, either gratuitously or grossly out of proportion to the situation

Diagnostic Features

The essential feature of Staff Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of condescension, degradation of others, and controlling behavior that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder display condescending or degrading body language, vocal inflection, and behavior (Criterion 1). They may use a patronizing “contaminated” smile, a sing-song voice, or the forms of language use described in Criterion 6. This behavior would be considered patronizing when directed at the average individual.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder present two or more markedly different personality styles based entirely on context (Criterion 2). For instance, while dealing with “clients”, while alone, they may be vicious, punitive, and controlling. When dealing with the general public, they may adopt a saintlike persona. It is not at all uncommon for the antisocial behavior of people with Staff Personality Disorder to go unnoticed, even when that behavior extends to torture or murder.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder will persistently protect people in positions of power, even if those people have done something unethical or illegal (Criterion 3). This may consist of putting up a “united front” to clients or to the public. People with this disorder will hide or excuse antisocial behavior in others with the disorder. Hiding may take the form of altering logs and failing to report abuse. Excusing may involve character assassination directed toward victims of mistreatment or abuse, or diminishing their credibility in some other way, while making it seem as if the behavior is the only logical response to certain sorts of people. They will also use these techniques of hiding and making excuses, to justify and rationalize their own behavior.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder are often employed in one of the “helping professions”, or other situations in which a person has or can secure power over others (Criterion 4). People with this disorder are disproportionately represented among psychiatric technicians, group home workers, home health care aides, social workers, special education teachers, counselors, nurses (especially psychiatric nurses), direct care staff, and institution staff. People with this disorder may also be grammar-school teachers, prison guards, and other professionals in positions of direct power over others. These positions may be either the cause or the result of the disorder.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder are rigid when applying rules and explanations to other people (Criterion 5). This, curiously but characteristically, may not extend to others with this disorder. Individuals with this disorder are likely to use a narrow set of rules to understand the behavior of others, particularly clients. They will see most ordinary behavior as manipulative, attention-seeking, or non-compliant. When confronted with something like violence on the part of clients, they will fail to differentiate between malice, self-defense, and frustration at being trapped. This may result in across-the-board application of punishments such as are described in Criterion 7.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder may display persistent or stereotyped use of euphemisms, jargon, deceptive language, and double standards in language (Criterion 6). They euphemistically refer to others as special needs, challenged, or consumers. They prefer jargon to ordinary language, and describe the behavior of others using clinical and psychiatric jargon, often loosely adding such jargon into everyday conversation, e.g. saying that someone they dislike has a Borderline Personality Disorder. They use deceptive language, for instance referring to prisons as hospitals and violence as treatment. They use double standards in language, e.g. referring to themselves as getting bored but to clients as going off task. They may apply certain words in a stereotyped fashion, repeating over and over that others are non-compliant, attention-seeking, manipulative, or playing games, without apparent regard to context or motivation.

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder display persistent use of degradation, ridicule, and violence, either gratuitously or out of proportion to the situation (Criterion 7). Degradation may take the form of degrading language such as “retard” or “psycho”, denial or pathologization of the existing identity or roles of others (for instance telling someone that thinking he is a writer is a delusion of grandeur), treating people like children, or assigning humiliating tasks. More advanced forms of degradation involve using elaborate methods to thoroughly confuse a person’s sense of reality or self on all levels. Ridicule might include laughing at the aspirations or humiliation of clients, or laughingly dismissing their communication or behavior. Violence includes physical or sexual assault, mechanical restraints, chemical restraints, and solitary confinement. These things may be undertaken gratuitously, on a whim, as a result of boredom or frustration. They may be out of proportion to the situation, such as restraining someone for making eye contact with staff. These things are often justified using the means described in Criterion 3.

Associated Features and Disorders

Individuals with Staff Personality Disorder may have a tendency to take care of people who don’t need taking care of, or imposing their idea of care onto other people regardless of context or other people’s wishes. They may have a tendency to rationalize their own behavior in terms of helping others and be apparently unable to see their victims as fully human. They can be highly manipulative, especially to those they regard as inferior. Staff Personality Disorder may be associated with Stockholm syndrome and complex post-traumatic stress disorder in individuals who have been subjected to abuse by people with the disorder. Thus, a significant minority of people who are in institutional situations may develop features of this disorder or the full-blown disorder. Staff Personality Disorder is sometimes seen in the prodromal stages of developing full-fledged Psychiatry Disorder. Non-disabled children who participate in “Circle of Friends” and other helping-based friendship programs are more likely than other children to develop Staff Personality Disorder by adulthood, as are children who have been raised to be caretakers to disabled siblings or parents. People who go into the “helping professions” or who work in institutions are at high risk of developing Staff Personality Disorder, even if they have shown no signs of it in the past.

Specific Culture, Age, and Gender Features

The pattern of behavior seen in Staff Personality Disorder has been identified in many settings around the world, but is especially common on the top end of unequal power situations. Children imitating adults may transiently show signs that seem to point to Staff Personality Disorder where none is present. In the past, it seemed that Staff Personality Disorder was more prevalent in females, but it is now accepted that due to cultural pressures, it can present differently in males and females.

Prevalence

The prevalence of Staff Personality Disorder is estimated to be about 5% of the general population, about 80% among individuals who work in outpatient settings, about 95% among individuals who work in inpatient settings and other total institutions, and about 20% among inpatients and other people who experience prolonged abuse at the hands of people with Staff Personality Disorder.

Course

While there is considerable variability in the onset of Staff Personality Disorder, there is almost no variability once it becomes entrenched in a person’s identity. The most common pattern is that a person seeks a job in any of a number of “helping professions” and is gradually molded into the behavior patterns that typify Staff Personality Disorder. There is a window of opportunity in acclimation to these behavior patterns, in which a person may still have the insight to quit their job or resist further indoctrination. Once these behaviors become entrenched, they are self-justifying and rarely respond to reason or therapy. This is enhanced by the fact that many people with Staff Personality Disorder spend a lot of time socializing with other people with Staff Personality Disorder. A minority of individuals, when presented with the evidence of the harm they have caused to others with their behavior, truly become cured of Staff Personality Disorder, although literature indicates this requires constant vigilance to avoid falling into their old behavior patterns. Some people with Staff Personality Disorder acquire a disabling condition or another mental disorder and recover after learning what it is like to be subjected to the behavior of people with Staff Personality Disorder, but others will maintain their staff identity even within the inmate role.

Familial Pattern

Staff Personality Disorder is about five times more common among first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorder than in the general population. There is also an increased familial risk for Psychiatry Disorder.

Differential Diagnosis

Staff Personality Disorder often co-occurs with Psychiatry Disorder, and when criteria for both are met, both should be diagnosed. In instances where it is related to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma-related disorders, it should be diagnosed in addition to those disorders with a notation that they are connected.

Other Personality Disorders may be confused with Staff Personality Disorder because they have certain features in common. It is, therefore, important to distinguish among these disorders based on differences in their characteristic features. However, if an individual has personality features that meet criteria for one or more Personality Disorders in addition to Staff Personality Disorder, all can be diagnosed. Although Histrionic Personality Disorder can also be characterized by manipulative behavior, Staff Personality Disorder is distinguished by condescension. Paranoid ideas or illusions may be present in both Staff Personality Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder, but in Staff Personality Disorder these ideas are limited to concerns about the behavior of those under the person’s control (often inmates). Although Paranoid Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder may also be characterized by an angry reaction to minor stimuli, the reactions in Staff Personality Disorder have to do with specific situations related to the staff role and distinguish these disorders from Staff Personality Disorder. Although Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Staff Personality Disorder are all characterized by manipulative behavior, individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder are manipulative to gain profit, power, or some other material gratification, the goal in Borderline Personality Disorder is directed more toward gaining the concern of caretakers, and the goal in Staff Personality Disorder is to maintain control over a specific person or group of people. Also, while individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder rarely show remorse for their antisocial behavior, individuals with Staff Personality Disorder make heavy use of specific rationalizations to justify their behavior to their conscience. However, some people with Antisocial Personality Disorder may have co-morbid Staff Personality Disorder and both should be diagnosed in that case. Personality Disorder can further be distinguished from other personality disorders by the typical pattern of protecting others with the disorder and persistent use of euphemisms and jargon to describe one’s actions.

Staff Personality Disorder must be distinguished from Personality Change Due to a General Institutionalized Condition, in which traits emerge solely in the institutional environment due to the direct effects of people with Staff Personality Disorder on an inmate’s behavior.

It also must be distinguished from Factitious Staff Syndrome, in which a person without Staff Personality Disorder masquerades as a person with Staff Personality Disorder in order to assume the staff role and effect change for the better for those under the power of people with Staff Personality Disorder. Factitious Staff Syndrome does not qualify as a mental disorder, but individuals practising it unwarily may develop Staff Personality Disorder.

We Are All Beings Of Radiant Light

997B86F1-2487-4CAA-83DE-B2816CF87FD6Why the name, Phoebe? asked Inkbiotic in a comment on my last post. Thank you for this question; it meant a lot to me. The name Phoebe is the feminine form of Phoebus, which is Greek in origin and means, “bright, shining, radiant.”

I have not always understood why I needed the name Phoebe, not in fifth grade. But it has always felt “given” to me, and in that sense my True Name. To explain, I offer the last lines of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, which ends, in translation, “from here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.” These lines have always called to me. They meant that I, my “me-ness,” needed to die to the artificial self and become what it is, a being of love and light, I needed to change the “false self” full of memories, of deep woundings and petty gripes, of anger and dreams of revenge to a self of pure light and boundless forgiveness and love. In a similar way, just so my name change, from Pamela, which is Greek too, meaning “ All Sweet”, but is also a synonym for cloying, to a name that means “radiant light,” because it is only in the light of love that we humans can be seen for who we really are, children of God, the Source, the Force for Good in every human heart.

I no longer accept the world (or my past) of hurt and anger and the urge to revenge. It is gone, over and done with, a figment of my imagination, which is the only place it can live. Falter though I may, my body being only flesh and human, with this name change I hereby offer myself to Change itself, that is to the Infinite, which can be called space or The Void, but which I saw in a vision of beauty is nothing but Creative Love itself.

Remember that we are ALL of us beings of light and life, we are all God, and we all partake of and participate in That Which Creates, the Space or Void that loves everything into being. My name change is only to remind me of the Source from which I came, as did we all, and to which we all return.

5FDAEFBA-93EC-40E8-8782-7A715B7ED00A

(Photos in public domain)

Changing my name and email

This applies to this WAGblog as well. Please read!

Art Every Day 365

This has been my dream ever since 5th grade in England when my teacher was only given P as my first initial and asked me what it stood for. Having always hated the plosive P in Pam I thought quickly and decided that phoebe would be perfect, keeping the p but not the plosive. It took her a month to discover I was not tell)NG her the truth, and then of course she switched to the dread Pam.

So I am in the process of changing my name to Phoebe Sparrow Wagner, and will probably from this point on be calling myself exclusively Phoebe. It may be difficult for those who have known me as Pam a longtime to make the switch, but my Vermont friends are all trying .

bye bye Pamela

Hello, Phoebe Sparrow

phoebesparrowwagner@gmail.com

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Just Saying: Restraints and Seclusion are ONLY used as punishment

My response four years ago to an article in CT papers about the use of restraints and seclusion in CT hospitals.

“As someone who has been subjected to more use seclusion and four-point restraints over the past “decade of change” than in the two decades previous it boggles my mind that anyone would even dare to state that things are improving in CT mental health care institutions. During my nearly month-long captivity in the winter of 2013, the Institute of Living in Hartford regularly restrained me to a bed for as long as 19 hours at a time, without ever releasing me for so much as a bathroom break — I had to defecate in my clothing. I was not even released to eat. When I was not in four point restraints “for not following directions, I was in seclusion, which they called the “Quiet Room” and not seclusion, but by CMS definitions, it was seclusion as I was separated from the rest of the patient population by force, and was not permitted to leave the room I was isolated in.

The one time I did actually saunter away, walk down the hall to look out the window, and return to my non-seclusion Quiet Room, I was punished with immediate use of four point restraints, into which I was placed without a struggle, hoping that would make it easier to win my freedom. Alas, for me, there was no way to earn freedom from restraints I never “deserved.” The entire point was discipline, and that would last as long as the staff wanted me to be in shackles to learn my lesson. There was literally nothing I could do, –stay calm, sleep, quietly ask for release — nothing, until they were finally satisfied that I was submissive enough to obey their orders, some 6-19 hours later. But I had to cry Uncle, and submit to a set of degrading humiliating “debriefing questions” that assured them that I took responsibility for my own being restrained and that my behavior would henceforth conform to their norms.

I was surprised to see Natchaug Hospital being given good ratings of any sort. One of their chief psychiatrists on the Adult Unit, a longtime presence their Chief Idiot Emeritus psychiatrist you might say, Paul Pentz MD was so insouciant about this job as to be nearly incompetent, but probably hard to fire even for negligence. HIs name I have mentioned . He routinely did drive-by visits with his patients– a wave in the hallway might not be a completely standard morning meeting, but it happened often enough that peatients knew that would be all of this doctor they would see for the day. He routinely discharged patients with GAF scores at or around 60, the highest “global assessment of functioning” that one can have and still be rated “disabled” — not because he knew this level of functioning to be the case, but because it made him and his psychiatric ministrations at Natchaug look good. After all, if person comes in with a GAF in the 20s, and barely able to function, and you discharge him or her a week or two and some drive-by counseling sessions later with a GAF of 60, you must be doing a terrific job, esp for a 75 year old doctor not too keen on using anything like trauma-informed or patient-centered care. I had never left a hospital before Natchaug with a GAF higher than 40, but suddenly I rated a 60….by a doctor with whom I never spoke.

Natchaug Hospital, when the nursing director was Sharon B Hinton, APRN, was a decent place, because she made certain that abuses like restraints and seclusion rarely to almost never happened under her watch. I know, because I was there about three times during her administration. I also knew her when she was Hartford Hospital’s psychiatric Head Nurse at CB-3, where she and her never failing humanity and respect for the dignity of every patient made all the difference in the world. I might have come from an abusive hospital in the early 90s, like University of Connecticut’s Dempsey Hospital, which in those days four-pointed people to an iron bedstead, by shackling them spreadeagled to the four corners of the bed, a stress position that is not just tantamount to but is in fact torture. But I would be rescued by someone finding me a bed at Hartford Hospital, where Sharon would discover me arriving there in tears and tell me, unfailingly,”Its not you, Pam, you did nothing wrong, It is the hospital that treats you badly…We don’t have any problem with you, because we treat you well and you respond to it. When they treat you with cruelty, you respond badly…That’s very normal.”

But as to Natchaug…Bravo if they have done away with restraints completely. They had not done so when I was there last in 2012. Nor with seclusion, which was imposed in mostly a disciplinary and arbitrary fashion. Largely it was used to force medication on loud obstreperous patients or for angry fed-up senior nurses to take out their peeves on patients they didn’t particularly like (e.g. me). I still remember one APRN demanding that I be dragged to locked seclusion, and left there alone (despite all Sharon’s previous assurances that such would NEVER happen, that someone would ALWAYS remain in that room with me if I ever ended up there.. Alas, Sharon had left by then, so rogue nurses like D could have their way…) and when I peed on the floor in panic, and took off my clothes they rushed in to take them away from me, and inject me with punishment drugs, then made me stay for an hour alone on the pee-soaked mats, freezing cold, pretending to sleep and calm myself just to convince them I could leave and not bother anyone. I managed to do so, or at least the APRN D. got over her fit of pique and finally released me, but I was not really calm, and when they finally draped two johnnies over my naked body so I could decently traverse the distance to my room, I left, disrobing as I went…Who gave a damn about my flabby flat behind? I certainly did not. And it served them right if everyone got an eyeful…served them right..

Natchaug’s biggest problem was and probably still is a lack of staff cohesiveness and bad morale between the staff nurses and the well-educated techs/mental health workers who were all very dedicated college grads but were treated like grunts…The MHW’s did most of the important patient contact, but were not trusted to write patient notes, or the notes they wrote were never read, or accorded any import. This was not just despicable but very unfortunate in more than one instance during my stay, as the notes they took personally might have saved me from some terrible misunderstandings and outrageous misdiagnoses that harmed me terribly..

Most places use techs who are trained by shadowing for a day or two, which means, badly trained, if at all…

You have to take all such in-hospital diagnoses with such a heavy grain of salt, you know, even when they are labeled with the words, “THIS IS A LEGAL DOCUMENT.” Because they get so much of fact-checkable, factual material garbled that you cannot believe a word it says. And as for diagnosis, well it is all of it opinion, one, and two, it depends largely upon whether you are a likable patient or a disliked one, what they finally say about you on any given day. No one should have that sort of power over another human being, frankly. And the idea that they can brand one for life with certain psychiatric diagnoses just sickens me.

Be that as it may, my recent last experience was beyond the beyond, at Hospital of Central Connecticut, The old New Britain General…and I expect to go back to talk to someone there about it. I always do And I have much to say to them, after the pain and rawness have worn off a little. They considered it SOP to strip me naked and leave me alone in a freezing seclusion cell without any access to human contact, unless they chose to speak to me over a loudspeaker hidden in the ceiling. If not, I was utterly abandoned, no contact or even view of another human being for as long as they wanted to keep me secluded. They also restrained me, having male security guards four-point me stark naked to the bed, before they had the decency to cover me with a light sheet, even though I begged for a blanket for warmth. (A nurse manager came in and shivered, saying “Brrr its cold in here!” but did they relent and let me have a blanket…No, clearly I was not human, didn’t need warmth.)

This is just the tip of the SR iceberg in CT in the current years, Remember this is happening right now, not ten years ago, or before the so-called reforms. Nothing is getting better. Things are worse than ever, And when you are a patient in these hospitals, you have no help, no recourse, anything and everything can be done to you and you have no way to refuse or say “no”. No one will help you, or offer assistance. They can just grab you and seclude you or restrain you without your having the power to stop them or any recourse to make them pause and reconsider. You are powerless to stop anything…And so they get away with it every time. And once it is done, who will fight for you? What lawyer will take your case if the guards hurt your shoulder rotator cuff, or bruise you up, or degrade or humiliate you? No one….so you are deprived of your human and civil rights, completely, but the hospital knows that no one cares enough to fight for you, so they get away with it each and every time, and they know this when they do it. They have nothing to worry about,….You are just another mental patient, a nobody, a nothing.

That’s what you are if you are diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized in CT hospitals in 2014. A nobody that the hospitals can abuse with impunity and will. Just wait and see if any of this changes…I doubt it highly. They have no motivation to change. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong now.”

Flynn Center Art Show for persons with disabilities

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My picture NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING will be in this show. Click on link to see full color information

Continue reading Flynn Center Art Show for persons with disabilities

Difficult Decision: Will I or Wont I

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went off my psychiatric meds over the course of several months without a problem to speak of, until I was off them for a week, when two things happened. First off the withdrawal dyskinesia (see brief video above) was getting better, but I was beginning to feel, well, nothing, no motivation, no pleasure, no enjoyment in doing anything. I know that many people do not do well on Abilify and hate it, in which case I would say it does little good and to stop taking it. For me, ever since I started taking it in 2006 or so, I have had motivation to start doing and learning art in a way I never felt before. And each time I stop  it, no matter how  fast or slowly, I go down the hole into no motivation or pleasure in anything. I do not like this situation at all, because Abilify also causes me severe double vision, but but but, I must say that i helps me do things, to finish things, to enjoy the process. I do NOT have any idea why this is,  but it has always been so since I started the drug, and I can no longer bear being off it, despite the side effects and disapproval by others. Whatever the damage that years of first generation neuroleptics have done to me, this one drug seems to help me do what I want to do..

.Hate me or not as you will, I cannot bear not taking it. Without it I have no impulse to do art or write, and my life is shit. Is that really what I should be satisfied with?

Q and A, courtesy of Inkbiotic.com

Check out Inkbiotics WordPress blog for the origin of the questions I respond to below…

Now Tell Me About You…

1. Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?
Definitely I would love to be able to walk up any surface — it would provide such a “superpower” and afford me entirely new experiences.
2. Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?
At 65 I have been told I do not “look my age” to which my response is, this is was 65 looks like! That said, my mental and intellectual aging are of prime concern to me, and along with that is generally the requirement of good physical health. So if I had to choose for one of the three, I suppose I would opt for signs of visible aging.
3. What was the last good deed you did?
I hate to tell people what the good things are that I do in the world, it is boasting and so I keep these between “my concept of god” and me, where any accounting of good deeds belongs.
4. I’ve been watching the Good Place. It’s great. To give a spoiler-free description, it’s a comedy about a Heaven-like place, where you can live in your ideal house in a perfect village, eat all your favourite foods, and hang out with your soul-mate. What three things wwould you choose to have in your good place?
Good friends, good books, good memories.
5. You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for?
If such a machine existed, I would reserve its use personally for revisiting all the times that I have written and sent impulsively some email I should not have, or likewise, to repair words I spoke that might have caused immediate harm. I would not use it to visit the future, as that could tamper with the present big time and also I prefer the future to remain tantalizingly unknown and unknowable.
6. You’re such an awesome person, that the mayor of your town has asked you to come up with a national holiday, what would you want the holiday to be for (eg Tree Day, Festival of Dreams), and when would you want it?
Peace Day would be a national holiday of forgiveness where people are supposed to reconcile and make amends for past conflicts , both on the micro or personal scale and on the macro or international level, where this day is reserved for nations to think and act peaceably towards each other, and make attempts to end conflict.
7. What small something would you change right now?
I would start being able to speak again, having been mute since November 2017…
8. What are your plans for getting older? How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?
Having been on disability and not working all my adult life, retirement is meaningless, but I hope to be able to do art till the day I die.
9. You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?
First of all, everything we do has consequences, absolutely everything, it is unavoidable, that is the beauty of what is called The Butterfly Effect. Small changes in a system can have enormous down stream consequences, like the butterfly that flaps its wings in Beijing and by a long series of directly traceable consequences and events eventually leads to a hurricane in the Atlantic. We all always affect others and the world in ways we can never perhaps predict or understand the full ramifications of. So given this, I cannot in any rational way answer this question.
10. When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?
Sorry, but this question again leaves me bereft of an ability to answer. I do not believe in trapped ghosts. Energy exists, yes, and maybe we can “leave behind” personal energy that imbues a place, but I do not think one’s Life energy could get trapped in any place just because you died there. And frankly I think your “living ghost,” the life energy and intentionality you project and leave in your LIVING wake is far more important than where you die. We are trapped only insofar as we believe in traps. Ghosts or spirits or just human energy, life is where energy matters, as it warms the blood and invigorates the mind and body. I worry less about where I will die, and whether my “ghost” might be trapped, than that while living I am free in mind enough not to feel trapped or in a prison of someone else making. Freedom is a state of mind, an attitude. Where the body or the ghost is scarcely matters when your mind is truly free.

What are/were the most significant barriers to your recovery from “mental illness”?

The biggest barrier to my recovery from what had always been diagnosed as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder was, I regret to say, the mental health system and psychiatry itself. Yes, for many decades I had been told I was ill and needed interventions like medications and the hospital for my “brittle psychosis”. I was told even that obvious brutalities, like 5-point restraints and seclusion in locked freezing cold cells, devoid of anything but a slab in the wall and a grate in the floor for drainage, were helpful treatments for my condition and not the torture and punishment that I felt them to be. No one or very few people treated me with kindness or any understanding or with the idea that there was hope for recovery, even though I had a genius level IQ and had shown some significant talents in many areas, and still did even when sick. They seemed bent on only one thing: coercion and control, and to prove that they were able to dominate me, and the other patients. If you dared to question their superiority or their information you would either be dismissed as delusional or worse, treated with more abuse.

 

Needless to say, I lived up to these expectations for many years, and i did not get better or even come near to recovering. In fact, before I took the drastic step of giving almost all I owned away and leaving my home, the state where I had lived for all my life and moving to another 100 miles away, by myself, knowing no one and nothing about it, I ended up again in the hospital and almost did not make it out. Not only did the guards there attempt to strangle me, but the doctor was convinced that I should be committed to the state’s one public facility that provided long term treatment…from which I might not leave for a long time.

Instead, I managed to play the game this sadistic doctor insisted on, and was finally discharged from a city hospital that had spent weeks doing nothing but torturing me, daily throwing me into their seclusion cell or shackling me in restraints …for no better reason than that I “disturbed the unit milieu”.

But discharged I was, with newly acquired PTSD from my treatment there, and within a week I was two states away, safe for the first time from these ministration that had inflicted on me nothing but damage.

It was here, in this northern state that I finally began to heal, with the help not of the mental health system but of a non-licensed therapist (she has a psychotherapist license from the UK) who taught me Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication or NVC, and is the first person I felt sees me for who I really am, not “just another schizophrenic.” Even though I still take medications, I am slowly tapering off of them and doing well after decades on the massive doses I was told I absolutely could not survive without. Why? Because I’m proof of the fact that you can recover from life-long “mental illness” when given enough unconditional acceptance and understanding. When someone sees you and understands you and does not dismiss you, crazy as you might have been told you are, a lot of the craziness just falls away and you become another human being, no more and no less.

There is no normal, there is no abnormal. We are all just human beings trying to get along in society and often society is sicker than “we are” in its demands that we conform to some impossible standard. Maybe my experiences — hearing voices, thinking things that might be called delusions, etcetera — are not common but they are not outside the realm of human experience either. We should rejoice in our differences as in our similarities and look for common cause between us, not find reasons to fear what is Other in each other. Love really is what it’s all about. Maybe that sounds squishy and sentimental, but have you ever met someone diagnosed with schizophrenia who says they both love themselves and feel that they are adequately loved in the world by others?