Panhandling for Life
As a “consumer” of LA County Mental Health Services, I have sometimes had to avoid suffering by begging on the street. Panhandling never came easy; aside from the shame, you could ask for a buck and a quarter for the bus and get ten cents. You’d spend the next two hours sometimes groveling over and over until you got enough for a round trip ride to the food bank.
But I have found begging useful, if not comfortable. It got me through twenty-five years of chronic emergency, twenty-two mental hospitalizations (back before we all realized these were not ever going to work), a stint at a “community mental health center,” thirteen years in a Pasadena “board & care,” repeated withdrawals from addictions to legal drugs (while faithfully compliant), a twelve-year marriage, a certificate in graphic design, and the Rose Parade.
Well, I am begging for resources once again. I have just read an article, “After Seroquel,” by Nancy Rubenstein del Giudice. Is there a test or a clinic to repair the damage of previous high daily doses of Seroquel, Depakote, Lithium or Clozaril? I have been incredibly sick for a year with an apparently undiagnosed something and am exhausted with groveling. I cannot find a doctor interested in looking for clues to severe exhaustion and dizziness. The PA tells me that it is “probably not” hepatic encephalopathy but provides no guidance or testing other than lab after lab and another appointment in three months. Doctors continually pursue my history as a psychiatric survivor — not the years of psychiatric overdose, but the history of social bewilderment.
The Literary Critic in the Hope, As Advertised
I was a little lucky to have been born of monogamous, evangelical, missionary teachers on the Navajo Checkerboard Reservation. They at least believed in history (if only EuroAmerican history), in education (if only EuroAmerican education), and in books (if only books written in English aligned with EuroChristian culture). So I believed in books; I grew up believing in democracy and equality; I believed that suffering had a purpose: the demonstration of the compassion and glory of God. I always believed you could be better and useful, and maybe even joyful, after steady discipline and measured labor.
It all fell apart when I turned five. Violence, cultural disconnect, and unmitigated patriarchy contributed to our psychological confusion. My faith disintegrated further when I was seven, then nine, then fourteen and eighteen, imploding in a mental breakdown in Bible College when I was twenty-one, in 1979. I did not quit then. I eventually became one of the connected white citizens to have been provided SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), after leaving McKinsey & Company in 1988. I did work as a clerk for Pacific Clinics in 2002 for four years.
This was an environment of bullying: the clinicians were only condescending; the lower-level staff were vicious. I will never again work in the system which marshals the “redeemed” (i.e., those with American degrees in psychology and the eugenics of the “Compendium of Psychiatry”), as the shepherds of the “pagan” (those learning from world perspectives). It feels to me that an MFT or a degree in Social Work or Psychiatry becomes a membership in a party which may or may not be perpetuated in heaven. Those who continue to struggle toward greater light, as opposed to simply white, must be forever lost.
In that time, I learned much about the System and nothing about resilience or progress. I joined the peer movement in L.A. County in about 2006; it had also not quite died yet.
I think we Advocates had hope at the political level before our personal records were lumped in with the new Health Agency databases, when we were fingerprinted and our documentation provided to anyone with “authority” under HIPAA. I am talking about “progress notes,” a system whereby clinicians in public mental health are required to take “evidence-based notes” on every session. These are meant to be brief, to “prove” to the Government that their money is not being wasted. It is. “Progress notes” are entered into the system and frequently reviewed in nightmare audits by the County. Clinicians are trained in the nonsensical complexity of not saying anything of consequence, but saying only those items that can be reduced to a dot plot. These pages and pages of abbreviated nonsense are in our permanent records. Some of us have tried, as is our legal right, to get access to these notes, with no return email.
It had become a criminal act to be accused of a diagnosis. I could not apply for a job other than “peer support,” what with the barriers of fingerprints, no transportation, and “gaps in the resume.” On SSDI, they would garnish your check if they discovered you had more than $2,000 in savings. I couldn’t save for a car, pay for competent therapy, or start a business. Couldn’t get credit. If you are arrested for confusion, they take your phone; you could be disappeared into a privatized system such as a board & care with $100 per month with which to start another life elsewhere. You could be shot by police for making a 911 call for mental health assistance. Suicide hotlines are recorded. In a climate of such abject dependence, we do not need social workers and case managers to “help us develop life skills.” We need Advocates and friends to survive. We can live without medical insurance, but we are dying without intelligent healers free to act with experience.
- If I refuse the drugs that destroy my body, then I am in noncompliance.
- If I seek care outside the State System, I sink into endless debt.
- If I now choose to maintain my recovery with healthy alternatives outside the County System, then I am in danger of having my income cut off before I can develop the community and products that I need to sustain me into retirement.
- If I will not admit that recovery is impossible because it is genetic, then I am in denial.
- If I say I am no longer mentally ill, how do I account for a life of failure as a useless eater?
- And if I am cold toward NAMI, the Church, MHA, and SAMHSA on the basis of serious cultural issues, I must be stuck on an FBI watchlist.
Nevertheless, I am taking my high school education seriously, along with what is said in the brochures of the Department of Mental Health, that recovery is possible and essential, not only for the individual but for the State. I so look forward to paying taxes.
My monumental recovery from “mental illness” occurred in 2012-2013. It took two years of pecking and wiggling my soggy feathers out of the sticky shards of divorce, during which I obtained several degrees of education:
- AA (Alone Already), Los Encinas “Hospital”
Primary Models in Psychiatric Exceptionalism:
“How can someone with so many emotional problems be so brilliant?”
- BS (Bachelor of Science), Della Martin “Hospital”
Intensive Independent Study:
Two weeks in the shriek of geriatric patients in need of immediate assistance not forthcoming
- PhD (Please Help, Dog), Del Amo “Hospital”
Gang Warfare in Therapeutic Forensics in a HealthCare Partners-Contracted Camp: Friends assisted me through two inpatient courts to allow me to retain my Social Security income and come home.
I matriculated from “mental illness” in three flash courses through the study of the contrasting accredited models. I was 54 years old. Old, but not dead yet. When I got back to the enclave of Pasadena, I moved out, got a divorce, picked up a Professional Peer Support Certificate, and began focusing in earnest on an A.S. degree with a Certificate in Graphic Design. By that time, I had 162 units of credits from two colleges and a university. I was recovered, lightning struck, hunched forward like a sumo wrestler, mean and wild. Still am, only now the wild is accompanied by encephalopathy (or something). Don’t know what to think anymore. Never know in a pinch what is rolling out of my orifices.
Then 2018 happened. 2018 is a book I might write later, “No Mas Funky Que Wow.” Several events occurred, completed by physical collapse at Pasadena City College in April and the suicide of a brilliant friend in May. I applied with MediCare for funding for extra sessions with my psychotherapist. SCAN would only pay for drugs: $560 per month for Seroquel, from which I had titrated years earlier. They would pay for Buproprion and Lithium and visits to an unknown shrink. They refused to pay $360 a month for therapy, which I had been paying bi-monthly out of pocket, and which I have always found effective and not debilitating or overtly stigmatizing.
The requests for “mental health treatment,” along with letters of protest to both SCAN and Healthcare Partners, were duly recorded for every subsequent medical doctor. I elected to retreat for two weeks to Hacienda of Hope Respite House (PRPSN) where they allowed me my own clothes along with my shoestrings, my belt, a bed, an unlocked door and a garden. Mind you, the acceptance of government funding by Project Return still requires Advocates to come up with computer notes of private information inconsequential to any healing. And no counseling by “nonprofessionals” is allowed, even though these counselors have abundant experience in navigating trauma and injustice. But silence is sometimes gold. Private rooms with double beds. No restraints. No padded cell for panic attacks. No obliterating drugs causing shaking, nausea, psychosis or the terror of numbing. Hope is gold. I called advocates in several States, visited the Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art, sat on the beach contemplating waves of God, ate simple but tasty homemade suppers, read books from wiser times and countries, had highly intelligent conversations with the homeless and the hopeless, and I got on to the next matriculation.
It is not perfect, but your pants weren’t always falling down, at least, and they let me use both pens and paintbrushes to self-regulate. It beat suicide.
Stress, Psychotropic Overdose, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, or What?
There is something wrong with my body. In April 2018, I had been struggling with family issues and the psychological disconnect between American education and American eugenics at my community college. In L.A. County, as in earlier forced American education of Navajos, students are actually encouraged to go into deep debt for the rest of their lives. We are encouraged to think that endless “insurance” payments are normal, universal private ownership of cars is necessary, mortgages are desirable, and that success is measured by how much you borrow. Fifteen percent of the student body at this city college of 35,000 are homeless. Money does not grow on trees, only food does and who grows fruit trees in an apartment?
I was also struggling physically. While studying in the college cafeteria, I experienced what felt like a fire down between the lobes of my brain. I made it to the bus stop and called a friend who got me an Uber home. The exhaustion is agonizing. I walk in a mind that feels like the burn of a dust storm. My eyes swell and sting or become recessed. I have lost the night vision in my right eye. My bones have begun to ache, and my muscles and skin are so sensitive it is hard to be touched.
With no empirical evidence, my primary care doctor concurred with the subjective opinion of another guy that I was “bipolar” — and that I should see a psychiatrist again, which I had done for thirty years with disastrous physical and emotional outcomes. I went to an Urgent Care. They took my blood pressure and sent me back to my PC who sent me to a “pulmonary specialist” to sell me a C-PAP (a breathing machine). The sleep study was normal. The doctor let it slip that according to my records my study had also been normal ten years before when they sold me my first C-PAP which I never used after trying to get it on a plane.
I went to another Urgent Care and then three emergency rooms, culminating in a desperate attempt to get a “Health Navigator” at Pacific Clinics. Six EMTs arrived with an ambulance and a gurney, shouting at me, insisting that I admit that I was suicidal, telling me I was wasting their time and resources. I walked the ten blocks to the hospital. I had come all that way to survive.*
I spent about eight hours in Area 54, a psychiatric hallway at Huntington Hospital, bullied by staff who had bruises and broken teeth. I watched as three men were locked into a glass enclosure and then taunted by staff into a frenzy, to be stormed by four staff, tied with white plastic ropes, drugged, and taken out on gurneys. I would have become violent myself had I not been rescued by a peer advocate.
In that time, “nurses” refused to give me water. They forced me to strip and put on a gown even though they had no intention of examining me. They confiscated my cell phone after I offered to document a visit by a social worker. She was intent on bullying me into a confession of suicidality (or not, I am still not sure). The medical labs included tests for cocaine, meth, marijuana, heroin, and three other drugs. They did not include ALT, AST, or ammonia levels for liver disease. They included no brain scan, MRI, or PET. They included no recommendation for further diagnosis. I was grateful to get home. I do not know where they took the other “clients.”
Evidence Base Even a Psychiatrist Might Consider, Off Grid
As a baby, I survived “RH Factor” with a blood transfusion, which may have caused my Hep C. Of course, the cause could also be some pocket of adventure but who’s to say, and who’s to care, unless you are a legal or medical professional with an investment in a private prison, mental ward, religion, or a pretty pharmaceutical salesman?
Since MediCal patients get to be the first to try experimental drugs, I was a research subject for Harvoni in 1997. It killed the virus, but 50% of my liver is cirrhotic. After finally changing from SCAN to L.A. CARE with a new PC, my hepatologist diagnosed hepatic encephalopathy, for which I have been on Xifaxan and Lactalose since March. If I lose 100 pounds (obesity supported in part by psychotropics), I can get on a transplant list, should I ever find a medical doctor I could trust with a knife. But my liver function is pretty good, considering. It had improved dramatically (Vitamin D, thyroid, liver function, glucose, and magnesium) after I had gotten off the psych meds completely. Platelets 105 now after six years.
Or maybe my abscessed tooth is leaking infection into my system. I tried to get it pulled in an emergency a few years ago, but I have long roots, low blood platelets, and no dental insurance other than MediCal. Dental insurance improved under Obama, but by now, the tooth has become a sculptural weapon; the bubble burst long ago. I have no pain, other than the shards of the tooth cutting into my lip. I have been to six dentists in this past year. I can get the tooth pulled if I apply for CareCredit and they find my credit is good. How does one apply for credit? After six months and repeated bloodwork, USC School of Dentists has offered to pull it. They will do no restoration.
And finally, my father died in August, at 91. I could not go to the funeral; I was in bed most of the time. My evangelical family largely shunned me; I am no longer evangelical, barely European enculturated perhaps — single, poor, poetic, and bisexual. I do not necessarily think these things are negative. I have rich friends; they have enough to share their poetry, their time, and their potato chips. But the death of my father raised up demons and relatives and shamans and guardians, and oh, yeah, the re-attention of the righteous wrath of my mother.
WordCraft Personal Design
Please Help, Dog! I am obviously still able to write. I finished my seventh or eighth book, The Last Run, in June 2019, typing on a Samsung for hours with my finger. It is exhausting to sit up, but I am, and I’m getting out some. By phone, Facebook, and ZOOM, I continue to advocate for people who have been “diagnosed,” abandoned to making collages in a CMHC (community mental health center) and then ostracized for that. My website and “business,” WordCraft Personal Design, is — like psychiatrists and attorneys at the bottom of the ocean — a good start.
I continue to go to psychotherapy every two weeks and Medicine Dance on Tuesdays. Medicine dance is movement meditation, the most effective therapy I have found for emotional regulation in trauma. Do not the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, the best of the Blessing Way of the Dineh, and the General Theory of Relativity point out that there is no faith — no energy — without works, a physical movement? I have come to believe that both vocational training and dance integrate the body, the imagination, emotion, thought, and soul’s connection to the planets.
This is what WordCraft Personal Design is about: Teaching, free expression, growing or Being, doing, feeling. There can be no mental health without the ability of groups to survive in kinship and collaboration. Therapies which attempt to nurture humanity in people who have been traumatized since birth — who have developed chronic intermittent conditions — cannot be effective without some hands-on training in product and project to develop professional portfolios. (This includes computer literacy, damn it.)
In the past six months, I reaffirmed three solemn decisions: To live, to work, and to accept the healing proffered. I do believe in Somebody. An angel comes to check on me. I will not suicide; my people need me to be careful and kind enough to call when I can. I accept that I can slip into a coma tonight, and I am more than ready to go.
I have advocates in Hep C, Christian, Indigenous, Mental Health, and Buddhist healing. I attend All Saints Writers Group and “Unconditional Healing” at the Shambhala Center. I am paying for my amino acids, milk thistle, protein powder, multivitamins, and therapy on my own; I am consistently overdrawn. I had a social worker who made five visits, then quit for lack of funding from “medical insurance.” I have a skeptical medical doctor trying to be nice to this uneducated, deluded bipolar thing.
I have gotten on my feet, and am moving on: to advocacy groups, art venues, small business development and therapy. I am going to live every single last breath out as a survivor, an advocate, a poet, a writer** and a dancer. Dizzy. I do one thing a day. I look older than Kraepelin, and he’s been dead a minute longer than his 1922 German textbook.
Please, please help, Dog!
* Full Story is available as “Report to Pacific Clinics,” by Jane Engleman.
** WordCraft Personal Design, www.wordcraftworkshop.com, and lulu.com/spotlight/wordcraft08. My most recent book, The Last Run, is still unpublished, but I’ll send a hand-stitched pdf if you ask for it. Next Books: Enemy Born of Me, novel of experience on the Checkerboard Rez, NW New Mexico. The Emergence Room, advocacy in mental health from an autobiographical perspective in L.A. County.
Outstanding article — the best and most compelling thing that I’ve read in years. You make me look like an amateur.
Thank you. I have only begun to connect with the writing of other survivors. I am still stuck back with Dickens, Beers, Black Elk, Dix and Saks. Do you have a website, list of writing?
Yes! I’ve known Jane since we both completed the Peer Support Specialist training at Project Return, in 2016. Her artistry is phenomenal… same with her persona.
Thank you, Sandy Goodwick, researcher, brilliant writer, activist, survivor, and Professional Advocate. Thanks for your hand across three states that got me through this.
No one should dismiss the close parallels between a fundie upbringing and a quacked-our adulthood. Each form of tyranny presents the same atrocious patterns of social dysfunction – censorship, lies, a coerced surrender of personal will. Worse yet, the endgame of psychiatry is, literally, a plight of biblical proportions: physical illness of an iatrogenic nature that is painful, debilitating, and lethal. Jane’s 40 years of “treatment” dragged on without a single moment to validate its mammoth cost to her health, her safety, her happiness, and her abundant potential. If anyone else but me has ever wondered about psychiatry’s capacity for fraud, stop. After reading Jane’s story, we can state with confidence that its fraud is an infinite scourge.
I only hope you are young enough to build a life beyond ethnocentrism, fundamentalism and psychiatry, or can teach anybody and everybody under the age of 25 that hope is as real as despair, and that science is as subjective, personal, lit and necessary as poetry.
That was poetically put!
You are so lucky it wasn’t thirty pages.
Thank God for small favors!
Brill essay. You are a successor to the Beats. https://www.beatdom.com/women-of-the-beat-generation/
I shall investigate your website. I wish you luck with the project, from a fellow poet.
Thanks for the encouragement. I am going to read it all. I am seeking professional performance poets/writers to develop dramatic gatherings in the L.A. area. I have no connections and no credentials and no funding. I have a plan, a purpose, and a determination. I have also built an abiding belief in increments, syllables and iambs. I am learning to work with others. Do you have a website and a list of books or videos?
Here is a book I wrote
I am in Reading, England. A long way from LA.
I wish you luck with your work.
I hope I can get your book soon. I have it on my list. Never underestimate the power of the pen in rhythm, or it’s terrible destruction when not connected by a source of forgiveness for ourselves.
And how exactly is our MI systems seen as anything but non mental health.
Another story of the great “mental health care”, out there. Let’s get rid of “stigma” says the MI association, yet are the only ones that treat their creations like criminals.
I wonder if a non “user” reads these stories and when they do, do they then believe this is an isolated case?
I suppose these stories really do not engage most people’s empathy. I talk to a lot of people and apathy seems to be rampant.
Perhaps your story could be turned into a “fringe play” by you? Write? Direct and act, or get someone suitable?
It could be income. I wish some of the talented folks around here would get a play happening, one that tours.
Twice I was warned by GP’s to stay away.
Who are the “talented folks.” Where is “around here?” I have a friend in Washington State with whom I would like to work on a project, an experimental play written and performed by advocates. We are calling the pregnancy “The Lemongrass Tea Project.” I am very sick, but find I can get up several times a week to get to rooms to talk, talk, talk, and I can still write, write, blog, cough, fart, write, type. If you know advocates with the skill to stay focused, and some craftpersonship, have them get in touch. I have been isolated in a County Cell called “community mental health.” Ha!
here is MIA. Here exists within other pockets of anti-psychiatry groups I’m sure.
I see anti-psychiatry as exposing the ills that psychiatry is. And psychiatry reaches even the medical care that is supposed to or should be completely separate and apart from psychiatry, so psychiatry affects everyone, not just those who in an unaware state, knock on psychiatry doors.
It is the thing that became church and state.
I believe three factors are important to bring the business down or in the least weaken it to a non importance. One is education, two is laws, lawsuits, three is having alternative access that is completely apart from a “mental illness paradigm”. All three are active now, but need to be kept growing.
I find education is not needed within the community that has already become wise and gained insight into the big propaganda machine.
Education needs to be appealing to the younger crowds and to parents or would be parents.
I suppose more books can be written, but perhaps in unique styles. Many buy books to support a view they already held, not out of curiosity.
Fringe festivals I think are a great way to trap audiences into seeing something that they might not have envisioned.
Because as psychiatry traps it’s victims, which is now basically everyone, so should anti-psychiatry try to claim some of the brains out there that have not experienced the industry.
It seems the only way people become enlightened is to go through the experience, but that seems radical.
Perhaps if the seeds are planted, with a vision, or actual alternative help, then when people actually access psychiatry, they recognize the attempts to “cult-ivate” and also experience the very thing, the disconnect and the falsities that they were given through the messengers.
The message has to be brought to the general public that emotional crap is real, but it is not an illness, even if it renders you flat and even if one feels as though it is an illness.
Some folks past-tense psych experience, seem to be so anti-alternative because many so called alternative still embrace the “MI” ideal. And that is okay for the older generation, but it surely does not protect the continuing existence of human experience. So yes, we need alternatives.
I need somewhere to go if I experience a state that is highly upsetting, since talking to walls is not sufficient, and not having alternatives only subjects the young to the assaults of shrinks.
The very best people to give to the young are ones with lived experience.
I myself am not at all equipped with literary abilities and am not at all brilliant in any way. In fact I barely have enough wits to work my way out of a busy store.
I can’t do “education.” Don’t know anything about Law or if it exists in the wild wild west. So I am looking to the “fringe.” I am a goose that lays eggs, looking for a farmer and a marketplace. For myself, this means both handmade textual art (books, boxes and 3D hangings), graphic design in publishing, and dramatic group performance. I figure if I connect to enough advocates, I’ll find some art professionals. What is your busy store?
Thank you for sharing your tale of the staggering disfunction of our so called “mental health” industry, Jane.
“Money does not grow on trees,” no it’s created out of nothing by fiscally irresponsible, never ending war mongering and profiteering, bailout needing, “banks steal trillion in houses,” globalist banksters. “only food does and who grows fruit trees in an apartment? Since I love lemons, my mom keeps trying to convince me to grow a Meyer lemon tree in my apartment, maybe some day I’ll choose to do so.
But, wow, your story really does help shed light into the systemic problems with our society’s, scientific fraud based, so called “mental health” industry. Keep writing, dancing, and telling your story. It’s really important!
And I hope you haven’t given up all faith in God. But know the mainstream Christian religions, and their never ending money worshipping “not for profit” hospitals and doctors, are a huge part of the problem, not the solution.
“Physician heal thyself,” is a wiser prayer, instead, at this point. At least that’s been what’s helped me, since i had to research into medicine myself, because I found next to no doctors help those who’ve been defamed as “bipolar.”
But I did eventually find an ethical doctor with a brain in his head, who took that misdiagnosis off my medical records, so hopefully there are some decent doctors that do indeed still exist.
Nonetheless, God bless, and I hope you know in your heart, your testimony is VERY important. And my prayers are for your continued healing.
Uh, back up… I just read this again. You MEAN it is possible to get a misdiagnosis off your medical records?! Does that threaten the system? Could they allow it? Did you have to go to court? Do they expunge the “progress notes”?
I think one of the things lawyers should be MUCH more interested in is the defamation of labels.
ALL studies say that people with labels get worse healthcare, not to mention less or no clout in the legal/social system.
This, these facts of being a second class citizen due to “illness”? If it is an “illness”, why would this result in being viewed as people that do not get equal access or no access? Systems where even judges participate in degradation?
So I am stumped as to why lawyers would not pounce on this? Perhaps because it would lead to invalidating the DSM? So no more jobs for lawyers to play games of pretending to work for those with labels? Honestly the labels simply need to be one label.
“second class”, or “lower class”, and it’s clusters of how that should limit access to jobs, healthcare, respect, value as seen by society, the justice crap system.
One is better being labeled a “criminal”, because we can always be pardoned, and we can fight for human rights, we can also be rehabilitated. We are no longer a criminal once our time is done.
The only thing my lawyer was interested in was never getting so cold that she had to put her hands in her own pockets.
This dual system is a means of ensuring that a rule of law does not prevail. A black person in my country steals a packet of pencils from Walmart and they go to prison under mandatory sentencing laws, a white woman does it and they call it kleptomania and she gets psychotherapy in a clinic.
I have seen people screaming in a “hospital” given a lawn chair, a counselor and a cup of tea if they were connected, and other people (same age and education) screaming and strapped down, drugged and hauled out the back in a gurney if they didn’t have a Family.
Really, in or out of it, the only hope we have as indigents and people with brands of skin or history is in the slowly developed professionalism of peer advocacy. And I’m telling you, sometimes rebuilding a Self to become a warrior out of a stomped-on tulip takes time and a lot of InLightning.
I am finding that “recovery” is impossible in the current system. Once “diagnosed” always the label. And the Labeler is the Department of Mental Health.
We’ve seen this collective dignified crazy overturned in many countries over the centuries… Why are the little tyrants so filled with terror? Problem is, we’ve seen strange flips: the Indians become the British/American, the Israelis become the Nazis, the Tutsis become the French, the slaves become Masters, and women become men.
In art and poetry, we might study the ritual of the Tibetan and Navajo sandpaintings. We come into these prepared performances for healing in myth, design and color. But then they are carefully swept up to be discarded in a sacred place. Have they been destroyed forever?
Everytime a Navajo Medicine Man brings the Beauty Way to his people, the world is re-created. The mandala might be a reminder we can have no other Gods than the God who loves us Everyday. Every time a woman has a baby, life is re-created. We are temporary, given the awesome experience of bottomless peace in the spark of our being together for a bit.
Art and liturgy implode us into daily performance as revolution and war never will. We’ve got to keep fighting like crazy to be the cooks of Renaissance. One forgotten project, one burned tuna picnic, one smile at a time.
I wish, outside of this funky foggy, I would be sued by the big guys, or shot as so many broken people have been in L.A. Just to have my little say.
I get up in the morning amd they haven’t come after me yet, to force a confrontation. I wake up, HUH, and I’m still alive and unbothered. So I get my coffee and I have my little say.
If you point out to an ethical doctor, that your prior doctors (who your new MD does not work with or know, that’s important) misdiagnosed the common adverse and/or withdrawal effects of an antidepressant as bipolar, which was a misdiagnosis according to the DSM-IV-TR:
“Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”
Then point out that those doctors proceeded to create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome, which is also not “bipolar.”
And admit that you did (do?) suffer from a drug withdrawal induced “super sensitivity manic psychosis,” which is also not “bipolar.” But confess you were able to heal (or believe you will heal) from that, and it wasn’t (isn’t) bothersome to you anyway. In my case, since it just felt like Godspeed, and functioned as a staggeringly serendipitous, awakening to my dreams, and a born again type story. In your case, you have a seemingly benign angel.
Yes, you can get an ethical doctor to call you a “one in a million medical researcher,” and take that misdiagnosis off your medical records (in my case, while that cute MD reveled in frightening one of his students, with the vast medical knowledge of her potential new patients.)
If that’s similar to what happened to you, feel free to impress your skeptical doctor with your newfound, “one in a million medical researcher,” medical knowledge. Pointing out the real etiology of your illness does somewhat render all prior medical records invalid. Especially since the DSM believers don’t claim to know the etiology of any of their “invalid” DSM disorders (that’s written in the DSM itself.)
Show your doctor you’re more than an “uneducated, deluded bipolar thing.” Because I’m quite certain you are much more than that. God bless, and good luck.
By the way, it was a head of family medicine Cleveland Clinic doctor who took the bipolar misdiagnosis off my medical records, and called me a “one in a million medical researcher.”
No doubt, a lot more credible than all those foreign doctors, with degrees from foreign medical schools, who defamed me in the first place. To cover up her spouse’s malpractice, and the medical evidence of the abuse of my child, for an ELCA pastor and his pedophile friends.
I hope you are writing just this one little book. Cover to cover. I Survived the DSM Five. Don’t write it long, but write the Punch.
Man, Someone Else! This is brilliant! If I had more than fifteen minutes of war in me in the morning, I’d be out in a march on these lines. I see myself more as a roller of bandages with a big pot of chicken posole’. If you can fight, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT.
If you can hold an android in your lap, stroke it gently. If you can keep the kids back in the yard, out of the roll of the bullets, do that. If you can paint heiroglyphics in the underpass, do that. And if you can dance as an extended family out in the droning, be the dancers. We might not survive the excitement, but it’s a little joy in the hard, hard oppression of love-deprived generals.
I would kill, no, LIVE, to find an ethical medical doctor. I am now relying on friends, shamans, Google, books and the love of a shady angel big as an flaming oak tree who hovers around, giggles and battles and tells me I’m not crazy… much.
Kelly O’Mally tells her story of psych abuse. She managed to get the CTO removed 2017 with a CYP450 gene test.
Forced medication again – 17/12/2019
“For the last two years, Kerry O’Malley was in control of her life and living independently. Recently, she travelled alone to Ireland for a six-month holiday, visiting friends and relatives without any difficulty and occasion of trouble. Upon returning home, she was the victim of a home invasion and sexual assault. Six weeks passed before she informed the police however they treated her with indifference and did not investigate the matter.
Kerry soon after became disturbed and sought assistance from the hospital. They assisted her but then applied for a community treatment order (CTO) for six months, which would involve forced injections of Ablify (aripiprazole). The forced injections caused her great ‘anxiety, distress, and restlessness’. Kerry entered the hospital as a voluntary patient but was converted against her will to an involuntary patient. The CTO deprived her of her dignity and control over her life.”
What is the solution for her?
Wonderful writing, Jane.
I can relate to so much you’ve shared.
All the best to you~
Bet you have a story of your own. It doesn’t look like we are going to replant with a tidal wave of these stories, but a constant system of steady irrigation on the local level. Our hope, I hope, is to be clear and connected, to be part of the flow from Source to gardening to market. And that is not just writing and art. Our story is whoever we are, the products and projects we finish, because we are compelled to by the curiosity or the fires in our lives. Do the work and take days off to dance with the planet.
Most of all… for my friend Jane… I wish SomeBody with Someone Degree of Insight… would nicely BLAST THROUGH the clogged-with-concrete chunnels of Healthcare in Los Angeles County and FIND A PHYSICIAN WITH A BRAIN.
Someone who could accurately plumb the signs and symptoms, then contemplate with This Test and That One Too…. and start narrowing things down a bit.
How do we”delete” the healthcare propaganda of “once a psych patient, always (first and foremost) a psych patient”?
It is endlessly curious to me that I can still write, clause after clause. Writing is no problem. I think I am on a track developed for survival in second grade; part of my brain holds a space to write.
Everything else is a muddle. I can’t cope the tech; I panic and collapse every time I have to see a doctor; I see those doors sliding behind me and I can’t breathe. So it is not only the problem of the current clinic; there might be competence somewhere. I only hope I can continue to wax Buddhist, accept the love of Jesus in my life, come into the awareness of the Infinity of Allah and the Creativity of White Shell Woman, in time to be open again to a human healer, so that I can get these last projects done.
I wish I could leave a more satisfying comment because you deserve one, but before I retire for the night, I just wanted to say: you are an AMAZING writer in spite of the limitations (which I gather are very difficult, since you mentioned typing with one finger). I appreciate the trouble you took to get your story out here because you can spin the straw this world gives you (and us) into pure gold. Wish you the best from the bottom of my heart and thank you for a genuine, provocative piece that deserves a bigger audience.
Actually, I typing with all ten fingers again! I’m really not sure if my health improved; I was wiggly with sick terror of getting out of bed and getting out to my groups and work, buying into the look in the eyes of the ignorant, that I might be dying because of my own stupidity, trips and stubbornness. I had a terror of stroke or psychosis. But I have come to sit in a chat in a beautiful Community.
Stubborness is a funky tool, given us by prolonged terror. We hang on to survival in freezing waters. Later when they try to pry our bony fingers off the gunwales, they seem frozen solid. We really have to learn to let go. It is the stubborness that saved us, until help came.
I’m thinking my help has arrived, in shamans and therapists, horses and the colors in vegetables and brown rice. Anyway, I might die today. But then, anybody might, too. I’m dizzy all the time with a weary cough, but I am still writing, going to my groups and dancing my brains out. I can’t begin to describe the ecstacy of life in the terror of the rollercoaster on high steel.
Hi Jane. I thought anyone on just SSDI didn’t get penalized for having more than $2000 in savings. I thought only people getting SSI or SSDI + SSI (because their SSDI payment alone is low enough to get SSI) got a penalty. I read where you said you would be penalized on SSDI if you had more than $2000. Did the rules change?
I really have no idea if the system has changed. We were always terrified that they were “coming after us” to cut us off from MediCal or SSDI if we made too much in a single month. Some friends had their funds cut within a month so they suddenly couldn’t pay the rent. I hope it is improving.
I haven’t been bothered lately by fear; I know I can survive, with friends, on the street. I’m not so fearful of discomfort or oppression. Maybe the County government works now, or maybe I just don’t care enough to worry. If your community will not help you, help yourself to the community.
My previous response to you did not get posted. Not sure why. Maybe it was too wordy.
My overarching concern is that you described having a bad tooth.
My own experience leads me to believe that making a resolution to have it taken care of will improve your well being.
I reccomend making the tooth care a priority.
My own experience with being ill from a bad tooth ( or two) was that relief is immediate upon extraction. Healing rapid. The missing teeth rarely missed.
I strongly believe untreated dental infections are a strong missed culprit in peoples poor health and well being.
I look forward to a realization in mental health care that prioritizes providing dental care as a preliminary course of treatment to persons sufferring physical and mental distress.
I wish you well.
Hey, thanks. I did get the tooth yanked out by a dentist. It too 5 minutes, 4 pills, two shots and a wad of gauze. And I do feel much better.
Hi Jane. Thanks for your story.
Just finished reading the 01/24 article here at MIA about Drew Pinsky’s views on homelessness. Reread yours.
We need more stories like this You put the lie to Pinsky’s BS statements about how all “mentally ill” people enjoy being homeless.
You tell why it’s difficult if not impossible to bootstrap your way out of poverty once psychiatry has “helped” you.
The proper term for stigma is segregation. Psychiatry’s primary function has always been to separate the “unfit” from mainstream society via labels or incarceration. Making getting hired difficult.
Once diagnosed SMI you are subjected to treatments designed to render you childish and docile. Not independent or level headed. Even if you escape these brutal regimens of drugs/shocks/brain mutilations the damage is real. Whatever health issues you may have had are far worse than before.
And SSI for the disabled punishes you for trying to better yourself by cutting you off at the knees.
With the high housing costs in California it’s no wonder homelessness is a problem.