On April 2nd, 2017 I came to the ER on my own, scared of what I call being “upset.” My “upsets” have also been called nonepileptic seizures by my sister who is a neurologist. They have been diagnosed as fugue states by the psychiatric medical director of Michigan Medical at University of Michigan, and also referred to as dissociation by an advocate as well as a nurse who looked into coping mechanisms for me.
I have been a patient for over a month at a hospital where they have insisted on treating my natural state of being which has been diagnosed as psychotic. They have almost solely addressed my psychosis while they have hardly acknowledged my “upsets.” My psychosis is subsiding without any scheduled antipsychotic or any other psychiatric medication, with the help of a stable environment and kindhearted patients and support staff including nurses, activity therapists and doctors.
In the meantime, I am awaiting a trial by jury so that the medical professionals have the legal ability to inject me with antipsychotics. I have repeatedly told my doctors that these injections make me physically sick, and even worse they often induce “upsets.” The doctors are expecting and hoping that the injections will make my psychosis subside. I explained to my team of medical professionals that the psychosis does not subside, but instead becomes more private. Because I am too tranquilized to physically acknowledge my inner beliefs, voices and persecution, medical professionals subjectively observe me to be more “normal,” and less “disturbed” to witness.
I wouldn’t mind medication if it didn’t cause such severe side effects. Since I experience more side effects than the average person, I have been called a slow metabolizer. The most troublesome side effects I experience include weight gain and sedation. The doctors recently told me their choice of medication to put me on will be Invega. I remember that the last time I was injected with Invega I slept an average of 17 hours each day and I gained 50 pounds. My pre-existing conditions involving my feet and ankles were exasperated by the weight gain, and I had to buy an entirely new wardrobe. Since it was the middle of winter, I couldn’t find a coat that fit me, even when I went to a store for plus size women. When I am not on antipsychotic medication I am a healthy weight and very responsible eater. I have always had low cholesterol, blood sugar and lipids. The first few weeks on any antipsychotic, my blood sugar creeps up to borderline pre-diabetes.
Since I am an avid dancer and horseback rider, these side effects are extremely disturbing. Even activities of daily living such as going up and down the stairs with a load of laundry become too painful to endure with the extra weight on my feet. The sedation also limits what I can do in my life. When I last needed 17 hours of sleep each day, I was unable to hold down a job at 10 hours a week, a job that I had maintained at 20 hours a week for the previous 8 years. This was crushing to my self esteem.
I am fighting the medical orders by going to trial by jury under the direction of the Honorable Judge Owdziej, who also dishonorably refused to schedule the trial for almost a month after she refused to acknowledge the abandonment of two statutes. These statutes mandate that I must be presented with my petition and two physician certs within 48 hours, and that I must appear before a judge for a hearing within one week of involuntary inpatient admission.
I have been repeatedly told I am “safe” and that I have “rights.” Meanwhile I have over 20 bruises that have been documented as brought on by petty fights with nurses and security guards employed by the hospital. These battles are the result of staff instructing me to be quiet as I practice my public speaking skills in transformation and human rights discourse. I am also told that discourse and debate do not exist at this hospital sponsored by the University of Michigan. I may be psychotic, and I may have upsets, but I realize that I am anything but safe.
While I am aware that I will most likely lose this trial by jury, I intend to take a stand for mental diversity and my right to coexist with others in mainstream reality without being medicated. I know my heart and I know that I never want to hurt anyone, even myself. I believe my body is my temple, and that my body and other people’s bodies are to be respected and cared for, not bruised or hurt. People who know me best are familiar with my interest in non-violent resistance. I know I am able to take care of my basic needs, and even more that I am able to serve my community as a public speaker, advocate and trainer.
While antipsychotics may make my thinking more linear in nature, while I may be less grandiose in social situations, and while I may seem to experience fewer auditory hallucinations, I would be more able to walk, to dance and to ride horses without them. I would be able to live a life I was intended to live, as opposed to having a tranquilized state of being forced on me by a judge representing a society afraid of difference — a society in fear of pervasive violence that exists from other people’s hearts and hands, not my own.
A psychologist experienced in writing Independent Medical Evaluations for these types of cases told me that the judge is a politician who is elected every 6 years. She will see every mental patient as a potential headline in the news of a crime committed with a mental health diagnosis involved. Every headline involving mental illness is a threat to her being re-elected. I may be psychotic but I am not the next headline in the news. I am thoughtful and questioning. I am different and unique, but I am not violent and my life will never be anyone’s tragedy.
Would you like to stand with me?
Is my reality a just reality?
Do I have the human right to dwell in my own reality?
You can join my fight by doing any of the following:
1. Call Ann Arbor City Hall at 1-734-994-2700. Tell them Judge Owdziej (pronounced Judge Outside) Bar #P42715 refused to acknowledge the denial of two statues for Carmela Kudyba who is currently being illegally held as an involuntary psychiatric patient at University of Michigan Medical Hospital.
2. Come to my trial by jury at 9:00 am on May 22, 2017 at 15th District Courthouse of Ann Arbor at 301 E Huron St, Ann Arbor, MI, 48107.
3. Donate to the screening of the Healing Voices Tennessee premiere. (This is one initiative I am looking forward to working on when I am discharged.)
4. Say a prayer in my honor for justice to be rendered to all who refuse to live in the status quo of what society and the medical model dictate as truth.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.