Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Comments by LavenderSage

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  • as to your first paragraph:
    Yes! That is just like telling someone that their head hurts BECAUSE they have a Headache!

    as to your second paragraph:
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And an addition to the list: even if the partner is not abusive, pregnancy did not allow for sex after about 6 months’- I was too big to breathe! And lying down flat (no matter the position) was impossible from the heartburn that caused. Between that and postpartum recovery (I suffered a 4th degree tear with my first child), it was about 6 months of no sex. Not having that release available also took its toll- on the marriage, and on me as a person.
    And then there’s Birth Trauma- the things women are subjected to while in labor/birthing is horrific. And having that possibility looming ahead sure makes subsequent pregnancies fun! I was not willing to be traumatized again, and had my second child at home with a wonderful midwife, but not all women can do that.

  • I have witnessed a form of that phenomenon, too, McB18.

    I watched this same lack of empathy, of comprehension even, play out in my MSW program. For two years, we went through this program as a cohort, taking classes together all weekend every 3-4 weeks. One of the students was going through an awful divorce. She did not really share many of the details, but you could see clearly the toll it was taking on her. The husband was a wealthy professional, and she was completing her degree as one of the building blocks she would need to build a life for herself and her kids. When she did open up, it was usually in response to one of the other students in the class making some asinine statement about wealthy people not being in need of social supports. There were a couple of folks in the class (both of them die-hard Republicans, btw) who just could not even fathom that money can’t buy you peace, or emotional safety. In their minds, her account balance canceled out any possibility of her having an emotional crisis.

    It definitely IS a thing, but it is not just a “left” thing.

  • this is in response to Gabi’s request: “If someone has another emergency first-aid way of getting someone “down” from a mad spell that threatens to turn very violent, I’d like to hear it .”

    How about being on their side? Not pacifyingly, but agreeing with them, radically being with them. Instead of countering their fear, terror, paranoia with rationality and trying to bring them around to agree with the consensual reality, flip the script. Try being in their reality with them, as an ally. You cannot be an ally while insisting they are wrong and you are right. Doing that only paints them into a corner and makes you another thing they need to protect themselves from, so don’t allow the consensual reality to dictate your interactions.

    Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson gave a lovely example of this in one of his blogs here on MIA, a story about a woman who spent all her time under her bed acting as if she were a fish. What made her finally talk to someone about why was that the man had joined her in being a fish: he laid down under the other bed, assumed the same position, looked at her and said “glub” probably through puckered fish-lips. He did this patiently until she trusted him enough that he was an ally fish, and finally trusted him and herself enough to be willing to be human again.
    Now, granted, there was nothing threatening in her demeanor as a fish. But the technique would be the same in terms of gaining trust. Can’t be done if you are frightened, feel threatened, or are pacifying them long enough for them to drop their guard so you can proceed with your agenda. You’d have to be open and curious and caring, willing to step into their reality and be on their side. Being an ally can often de-escalate a situation that otherwise would escalate to somebody getting assaulted (and yes, needle rape is definitely an assault!).

    One of my favorite shows is Grey’s Anatomy, and I can think of several examples on that show in interactions between the doctors and patients with Alzheimer’s. When Dr. Ellis Grey was admitted to the hospital, they needed to do a basic exam, check vitals, etc. but she thought it was decades earlier and that she was running late to perform a surgery. When Dr. Karev went with that narrative instead of insisting she agree to the consensual reality, and told her it was a new hospital policy, she rolled her eyes and allowed it. That’s just one.

    I would think that people who have experienced the “yes, and” of improv theatre would be good at this.

  • Wow, what a powerful statement:

    People unable to take responsibility for their deaths are also unable to take responsibility for their survival.

    I felt this truth in my gut, literally, when I fired my obstetrician at 30 weeks and decided to have a homebirth with a midwife instead. I Trusted her, this midwife. I was unwilling to cede the responsibility for the well-being of my child and my Self to this man my gut told me was a Danger, “specialist” or not. Thank you, Sylvain, for words that perfectly express what I felt in that decision. The assumption of risk belonged to Me and nobody else. I had no regrets in the least doing what I knew from the heart of my intuition was right, and my baby (over 9 lbs) was born at home, perfect APGARs, and I did not tear or require even 1 stitch. Neither of us would have had a sunny outcome had I not followed my gut and just caved to the threats and fear-mongering he tried to pull on me. But I trusted Myself, put my life and the life of my baby in my Own hands instead of trusting him more. He was flabbergasted at being fired!

  • Back in the early ’90s, I noticed a strong correlation between the darkening of the days and the darkening of my mood. I used to journal almost daily, so it was right there in the pages, a big difference between the me that wrote in spring/summer and the me that wrote in the fall/winter was easy to discern. So I located a guy who made high-intensity full-spectrum light boxes (not easy before the internet) and bought one. Mine was 10,000 lux and I used it first thing in the mornings, for about a half-hour. The theory went like this: our circadian rhythms are primarily cued by the light we see. For some people, during the darker months when mornings are not as early or as bright, the light cue they take in visually is not strong enough to signal the brain to slack off on its melatonin production. So you boost the strength of morning light by adding the light box. Later, they came out with a “dawn simulator” version that you’d set like an alarm clock to brighten your bedroom gradually each morning. I never tried that- the light box I bought worked wonders.

    Yes, it is another neurotransmitter imbalance theory. But considering that the biggest risk to the “treatment” was a little bit of UV exposure (less than I experienced in the summer sun) it was easy to test this theory on myself. I slept better. I had more energy in the day. I felt more human and less like a grumpy hibernating bear. So yes, my system improves dramatically with the introduction of a strong light cue to help my body regulate its melatonin production. To me, that’s no different than drinking extra water when I’m constipated: I’m just giving my body a bit more of an essential it needs to perform basic functions better.

  • Wow, Stephen, what a beautiful affirmation of my experience! Thank you very much! I always love reading your comments and replies. I wish there was a way to have MIA as a physical place, a coffee house maybe, that we could Tron (movie reference) our way into through the computers, so we could sit and have deep discussions together. Folks lonely or in pain could find soft eyes, warm hugs, hot cocoa. Really support each other, you know?

    I have a friend who had done some chaplain work in prisons. I was contemplating that- what it would be like to hold sacred space and be able to connect with a person who had committed heinous crimes, how would I get past judgement, how could I possibly open my heart? And I realized that the answer was simple: they are no less a manifestation of All-That-Is than I am; there is no separation. I find comfort in the notion that we choose to embark on each human journey we take as spiritual beings, that we have informed consent, if you will, about the circumstances of our birth. I am not a victim of my life, though I have been victimized/traumatized by others. I know profoundly that some of the most awful experiences can produce growth and change that would not come about otherwise. Like my friend’s mom who is grateful for all that she discovered about herself on the healing journey she found herself on after being raped. The rape experience made her look deep within, it challenged her faith- in God, in herself, in humanity at large. She found places within herself that she had never had reason to access before: founts of strength, determination, courage to fully inhabit her own life. Her rapist had facilitated that growth experience, and in acknowledging that, she forgave him. Kinda like without Pilate’s role, there would be no resurrection story.

  • Hi Au,

    Let me start off by saying I love it when they post stuff you’ve written. I like what you have to say (content) but also appreciate the way you express yourself.

    I have no experience or knowledge of Open Dialog, but I used to be a social worker on IEP teams- I was the bane of districts that railroaded families the way you describe. I was the type of advocate who would set the tone of the meeting right there as I introduced myself to the rest of the “team,” and remind them that the student and parents would be the ones driving the meeting, which put them front-and-center. Special educators loved me- they knew they could call me ahead of the meeting and let me know the real situation, not the district’s CYA version of things we would hear at the meeting, because in my role I could be effective at fighting for what the student needed without risking my job like they would be if they stuck their neck out. I really miss doing that job- I hated that the systems made it so difficult for families who were already facing so many difficulties/challenges. It was my honor and privilege to be on their side of the table, to be the one they knew they could call if they needed help.

  • Hi Betsycam, I used pot for Effexor withdrawal. My worst symptom was the extreme vertigo- for two weeks I could barely walk, could not read at all or watch tv, nothing that required me to track visually. It did not take away the vertigo, but staying really high during that time gave it a context that made it bearable existentially, if that makes any sense. I’d recommend a good sativa-dominant hybrid strain that’s potent in thc and mix it with one that’s high in cbd. If you know your tolerance for edibles, I found it helpful to have an edible on board especially through the night, BUT I would caution against experimenting with edibles during withdrawal if you aren’t used to ingesting cannabis, because edibles can be a completely different experience than you have smoking cannabis and many first-timers ingest too much because they underestimate the time it takes to feel the effects (can take up to an hour, depending). Ingesting too much can be an unpleasant experience, and defeat the purpose.

    Hope that info is helpful for you, and best of luck withdrawing!

  • and they call us “crazy!”

    Reminds me of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a death row prisoner scheduled for execution in 4 days is brought in because he was stabbed. He has a brain bleed and they do surgery, but his intercranial pressure keeps rising and they want to go back in, but he refuses. He wants them to let him die and donate his organs to the boy in the PICU dying of liver failure (he’s a perfect match). They insist on intervening as soon as he loses consciousness.

  • Puppies are “cute.” Kittens are “cute.” Rainbows and unicorns are “cute.” Existential matters? Not so much.
    And I agree that you should consider stepping away from the keyboard until you are no longer tired and livid. The “troll” did not personally attack you as you did him. I hope the site moderators are reading all this. Him saying “It sounds like you have a lot to live for…” is not a personal attack. You calling him “a vile and disgusting human being,” however, certainly is.

  • I agree wholeheartedly. We need to reclaim our rights of personal freedom from the ENTIRE medical establishment. I used to be a case manager for families who had a child with developmental disabilities, but I had a few adults living independently as well. One of them had high blood pressure but stopped taking the pills his doctor prescribed for it because of side effects he found intolerable. The independent living assistance agency threatened to drop him from services. He didn’t care; he knew his rights, and was quite assertive in saying so. They relented, but sent a nurse out to explain all the dire possible health consequences, documenting it to cover their liability. She did not change his mind, and they grudgingly accepted his choice. This was years ago- I have no doubt that the same situation today would result in a medical kidnapping (in the case of adults, should it be “medical abduction?”) as the law has changed making it easier for them to strip the rights of those labelled “gravely disabled.”
    I am not home-bound like your elderly friend, but I share his fear/concern. My wife and I have a very clear understanding that if any life-threatening event happens to me in public, she is to whisk me away before any first responders can arrive on the scene.
    I am with you about avoiding hospitals, but I went to the ER a few months ago (was losing sight, not something I could treat at home). Not only did they expect me to sign a carte blanche Consent for Treatment, they wanted me to sign it electronically before they even printed it out! No way. I do not sign those without altering them, crossing out the word “treatment” and replacing it with “diagnosis.” The whole notion of informed consent seems to have gone the way of privacy: people don’t insist on it anymore, they just sign it away without even reading the fine print. Seems people have forgotten the time-honored wisdom “never sign anything until you’ve read it twice.” They’ve also discarded the phrase “none of your business.” Those “assessments” that ask about my emotional state? None of your business. That’s the only answer they get. It’s the flipside of informed consent- informed refusal, which should also be our civil right.
    Catholic-run hospital systems now own 60% of the hospital beds in the US, and it’s been in the news a lot regarding women’s reproductive health, but not much has been brought to light about how this will effect end-of-life care. With the baby boomers aging, though, it’s bound to become an issue. Everyone has a stake in this, you are right about that. I hope people wake up and realize that.

  • Suicide should definitely be a civil right! It is the ultimate body autonomy. Whose life is it? Whose body is it? None but your own. Nobody else can know what makes anyone’s life worth living; that is entirely personal. Nobody else can know what personal values drive any personal decisions. People like to say “you only live once,” but I know that to be untrue for me. I do not just believe in reincarnation, no more that I believe in rocks or clouds- it is simply a reality, something I have experienced many times before. I remember past lives, and I remember what it is like to die. There is the sense that you are dissolving, and if you cling to this life, this ego-self, there can be fear and existential suffering. If, however, you can hold fast to the reality of universal connection, the understanding that we are each a unique expression of All-That-Is, surrendering one’s ego-self is freeing. For death is not dissolving into nothing; it is dissolving into everything. That is my truth, because that has been my experience.

    My grandparents avoided doctors like the plague. They both insisted that they wanted to die naturally, at home in their own bed. I watched as their health declined, each of them in turn got coerced into a medical facility (with my grandmother it was a hospital; with my grandfather, a nursing home) and neither had what anyone would consider a “good death.” I made myself the promise that I would not travel that same road. I have my eye on my “canaries in the coal mine” that will let me know when to get out before it is too late. Of course I have my advance directives, my DNR, but I know that I can’t put much faith in them being respected, especially with the proliferation of Catholic-run hospitals (and they make it near impossible to find out whether a hospital is subject to the bishops’ directives). When my body can no longer do the things that make life worthwhile to me, I will have no qualms about ending it rather than endure the existential (and physical) suffering. Those that really know and love me know me well enough to understand this, and though my dying will cause grief, that eventuality is inescapable- everyone will die, and those left behind by them will grieve the loss. Loving me means letting go, means not wanting to let me linger in suffering when living becomes nothing but existing in suffering and misery. I never won an attendance award in school; I’m not looking to win one in life either.

  • Let me provide a glaring example: I was seeing a psychiatrist through my HMO, because I was off work due to an emotional trauma and the disability insurance that came with the job would not kick in without an MD’s signature. He seemed okay, did not seem to play the usual crap. We got along well enough; he was signing off for me every couple of months, which was all I required of him. Then, he became unavailable. I had to see whatever psychiatrist was covering for him, and they would only sign off for a 2-week period. When asked when he would return, they always said “in a week or two.” Now, it took a huge toll on me trying to recover my equilibrium whilst having to report my “symptoms” to a brand new face every time I turned around. I got exasperated about the situation and gave them my 2 cents on it all in a conversation with the doc who was 2nd-in-charge (vice chair? whatever the title) of the psychiatry dept. And he blurted, “you gotta give the guy a break; he’s depressed!” speaking about my original doc. I confronted him big-time. Asked him how he determined that disclosing that private information about his colleague to me, said colleague’s patient, was in my best interest. Asked him whether he had a release signed by my doc allowing his personal, confidential health info to be revealed to me. He could only stammer.

  • Exactly! Journalism used to be about truth. There were ethics about things like confirming an account from reliable sources rather than speculating, and also about following leads until you got to the nitty-gritty truth, not pulling your punches or avoiding the tough questions. I was reading Ronan Farrow’s article in the New Yorker titled My Father, Woody Allen, and the Danger of Questions Unasked the other day. Here’s the link: ( He discusses how journalists are told by their editors not to ask, not to pursue certain stories. He’s talking about sexual abuse and assaults, but the same thing is going on regarding the psych drugs’ role in all these killings. I remember in the late 80s and early 90s when ACT UP began outing gay politicians in order to get policy changes and funding for AIDS research. We need more courageous journalists like Robert who are willing to “out” these dangerous drugs as the real killers that forced the hands of the people in the mugshots.

  • Yes! And I have always felt a need for more sleep in the winter, less in the summer. And pre-industrialization, summer was when the work at hand required he most energy: out in the sunshine, harvesting, building, canning, tasks that were pretty draining. But in the winter, the tasks were more like quilting and sewing, and weaving blankets or rugs.

  • You do realize that Christianity is just as violent as Islam, don’t you? (go read the old testament if you have any doubts about that) And yet, the acts of terrorism committed by Christian extremists are rarely labeled as acts of terrorism and are never chalked up to Christianity’s inherent violence, as a stain on all Christians. There’s plenty of denial about holy books to go ’round.

    This was supposed to be a reply to the first comment, by the way.

  • Thank you, Danielle, for investigating this, and introducing us to Jim, Steve and Rich. It’s horrific what passes for medical science!

    One request, though: Please don’t use the term “committed suicide.” Jim was not a criminal; he committed no crime. Say he ended his life, say he chose to die, say he killed himself, but please don’t use criminal terminology for the act he took. It’s demeaning. Words matter. Thank you.

  • Scott,

    You never mentioned in this piece whether you yourself have ever taken MDMA. In my spiritual tradition, substances (usually natural/herbal, sometimes chemical) can be used to journey and gain very deep insights and connections, personal as well as universal. But one cannot be a guide on another’s journey unless they themselves have been down that road. Personally, I cannot even fathom handing that level of trust over to someone in a medical-paradigm context. This is spiritual work.

  • Bonnie (and Julia),

    I’m very glad to see another post from you. I was surprised to see you are allowing comments considering how you’ve been bashed so unfairly here before. I am very glad that parents have your studies to turn to when they are being pressured by school to intervene on an active child. Thank you for doing the work that you do. And thank you for not leaving MiA.

  • Julia, I agree whole-heartedly with what you say here:
    Everyone can be a burden at times, regardless of DSM diagnosis. I hope that if someone told me that a certain aspect of my behavior was causing someone else pain, I would be able to respond honestly and with a desire to solve that problem. I understand that it’s painful and that people with a background as psychiatric victims are defensive about this. But denying that aspects of your trauma-induced behavior causes others very real pain is not going to help anyone.

    I’d like to add, though, that there are (at least) 2 sides to every pattern/dynamic, and many of us have been scapegoated as The Family Problem, the “identified patient” whose perspective is completely disregarded, or worse yet, twisted to confirm the pathology narrative. Most every psychiatrized person I’ve met has greater sensitivity to the fucked-up family dynamics they are caught up in. We get “caught acting crazy” but nobody ever seems to catch the crazy-making behaviors of those around us to which we are reacting. This website is our safe space, our haven from that crap.

    Please understand that I am making generalizations here; not talking your family or mine, but rather, the shit that tends to happen to us.

  • Hi Emily,

    I think the reason you are getting so many replies that echo the same message about labels and dysfunction and telling you not to define yourself with the label psychiatry slapped on you is evident right there in your title, and heartily reinforced in your very first sentence.
    Perhaps if you had started the piece with something more akin to: My intention with this essay is to make the case that maybe having a fear of abandonment isn’t a bad thing that needs to be overcome and then proceeded to literally question the basis of the label, as such:
    I’d like to ask you – who gets to decide how much fear of abandonment is excessive? Who gets to decide whether it is my fear of abandonment harming relationships, or whether it is our society’s counter-dependence/fear of those who are too attached/dependent? Who gets to decide which person’s fear of abandonment needs to be overcome and which person’s fear of abandonment is helpful and okay? Would you agree that the answers to these questions would all vary according to cultural context and personal preferences/values?
    before naming the label, folks would not misunderstand your position.

    I think you confused your message from the outset by giving their label such deference as to place it front-and-center. I think you unintentionally misrepresented yourself a bit. People are responding in a way that challenges why you chose to give the label such power, because the words you chose do reinforce the label.

    (this perspective comes from the writer in me.)

  • Hi Ally-
    I am dealing with the realities of being someone whose pain tolerance differs markedly from most others’. I have a very high tolerance to physical pain. Sensations that would register as quite painful for most people don’t hit me as “pain” until the problem is severe. For instance, I’d been having headaches that I thought were migraines, very light-sensitive and would go away after lying down a couple of hours. I avoid docs whenever possible, but had to go in when I started to notice a change in vision. My eye pressure was over 400% above normal that day and was only beginning to feel “pain” so I run the risk of missing pain cues that would alert your average person that something is terribly wrong. (Consequently, I am now blind in one eye.)
    My sensitivity to existential pain, though, is on the other extreme. It makes me different; it does not make me disordered. It does, however, make it difficult to feel at all understood by those who seem to experience pain “normally.”

  • Many thoughts on your article, Emily. First off, thanks for putting yourself out there. That’s very brave, especially in light of how your young life has handed you experience after experience that naturally produces a greater sensitivity to abandonment, and greater pain than everyone else seems to feel within that universal experience of existential loneliness. Life dealt me that kind of hand too, so I get it.
    “Abnormal” is such a powerful toxin, and anybody trying to sell anything (a product, an ideology, a lifestyle) uses it as a tool of control. Get people to feel that they are lacking, and you create a need. Narrow the definition of “normal,” and you create that need in more of the population. Did you know that before psychologists got involved, advertising was basically just product info? Psychologists introduced the idea of creating an emotional need for the product by making people feel inferior without it.
    The only way to take the teeth out of “abnormal” is to not assign the power to define what your normal is, but keep a firm hold on that power for yourself, the power to self-define. I read the other day that the official definition of high blood pressure is tightening. 120/80, once the definition of normal, is now on the border. Same thing with the blood glucose number a few years ago, when overnight 140 became borderline. You must ask yourself: who gets to define your borders? Who has the authority to decide whether you are “normal” or not, and in what respects? Will you give that power to a doctor? a professor? a researcher? an ad firm? I choose not to.
    One more thank you, and that’s for referencing “people of size.” I learned long ago that language matters, words matter. I watched the gay community reclaim words of hate, thereby depleting their power to inflict harm. My body has a substantial layer of fat. Yup. And most people are put off by that, romantically. But I do not have to agree with them that I am unattractive. Whatever put-downs were leveled at me in my formative years did enough damage at the time. I do not need to continue the abuse by agreeing with those destructive messages. Neither do you. Even if nobody else in the world (including myself 30 years ago) appreciates the ample flesh on my upper arm that sways when I wave at someone, I do. Is it the defined bicep I find so sexy on women like Michelle Obama? Hell no. But it is always a pillow if I need to nap on a long drive, for instance. It is a part of me that I can love for what it is, rather than be ashamed of for what it’s not. I invite you to try on those lenses in your own life. Flip the script and be the author.

  • Is there a possibility of offering the courses to non-professionals without a fee and only charge for the CEU credits? The info on psych drug withdrawal seems an especially important topic to reach as many of the folks who are suffering and have no other support as you can. Keep in mind that many folks have to taper themselves down without any medical support because they can’t risk the very real possibility that their prescriber could freak out and strip their liberties, and that those who have been compromised the most by the drugs are often on fixed income at the poverty level (disability payments) and cannot afford to pay.

  • Even if they get the concept, Steve, there’s still going to be the question of whether the data is trustworthy. Most folks are intimidated by math as simple as fractions, percents, probability. Statistics is math that’s way too complicated for most people to understand, and people just don’t trust what they can’t grasp. Research is suspect.

  • I think it’s a matter of trust. People trust what they know, what they can observe for themselves or hear second-hand. But aggregate data is too many steps removed, and is subject to so many levels of manipulation there’s no integrity in it. From the outset of a study, the researchers are seeking a particular outcome and make choices that are most likely to yield the desired result. Who do we recruit to participate, and how do we access them? Is there a control group? Are they truly a control group, or are they cold-turkeyed off a drug right before “testing” another? Do effects get reported as stated by the participants, or interpreted (as in suicidality being watered down to “emotional lability”)? And then there are the definitions, and whether the researchers’ idea of a good outcome, of “treatment success” looks remotely like what the participant would consider to be successful. And that’s before we even venture into statistical manipulations! Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, “there’s Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics?” Most people find math as basic as fractions and percentages intimidating- don’t ask them to trust advanced statistics! Personal stories are always going to have more of an impact. Research is dry; stories are juicy. Research is elitist; stories are accessible, people can relate to them, can empathize with them, can trust them. Not so with stats. A voice spouting stats is never going to ring as true as the voice of experience.

  • There was a blog post here quite some time ago- the guy was so flatlined emotionally from his anti-depressant that he found himself frequenting a website that was ultra-violent videos because they actually provoked an emotion in him. He had to go that extreme to feel anything. And there was a discussion section at the website- he found out he was not the only one. And the discussion at the end of the blog post about it, the MiA discussion, had a lot more people echoing that truth: their anti-depressant was an anti-feeling pill. So yeah, what you are experiencing is normal, FeelingD.

  • Thank you so much for sharing that experience! You are so much better off having escaped that cult, and that marriage, before you got in too deep.

    Self-acceptance, why does that seem like such a radical concept to people? Maybe because it doesn’t create the ripeness for control that guilt and shame do. I’m reminded of the father of advertising (John Watson, I wanna say, but attribution is not my strong suit), a psychologist who changed ads from merely product information to a story that creates an emotional need for the product based on the fear of rejection and inadequacy. Create the problem so you can sell them the solution. Ah, but if you refuse to buy into the idea that you have a problem that needs solving, they gotta find another mark.

    And by the way, you did not create the 9/11 massacre when you were six any more than I created the Jonestown massacre when I was seven! How absurd! Reading that, it felt like a tactic for assessing how fully you’d been hooked, and who she needed to bully more thoroughly.

  • I ran out of Reply buttons, so this is in response to kindredspirit:
    Boy are you right about other fields of medicine, especially end-of-life care! Things are only going to get worse with that as now 60% of the hospital beds are in Catholic-doctrine run hospitals, meaning that no matter what the patient’s values, it’s the Bishop’s Directives that dictate care! Forget expecting an advance directive to be honored at these places- they honor that about as much as they honor a woman’s reproductive rights (read: not at all).
    Just as I chose not to entrust a hospital with birth, I will not entrust an institution with my death either. Once my body gives out and life is no longer a joy but a burden, I have no intention of suffering and waiting and depending on professionals to dispense mercy. I will die where and how I choose, comfortably.

  • Hi Steve and kindredspirit,
    After the first baby was born almost 10 lbs., a successfully medication-free birth, my OB moved and I found myself with a new doctor. Throughout the pregnancy, he kept seeming to find one bogus reason or another to suggest a cesarean. And when I made it clear that I was not going to let him do that, he started making threats, and I fired him on the spot. I was 30 weeks along, and decided right then and there that I would rather have an unassisted birth than have him involved AT ALL. The husband went to the library and got books on homebirth that had resources at the back- where to buy birthing kits, how to find midwives, etc. and that was how I found my midwife. She was perfect, very well-trained, and had an OB back-up in place just-in-case. But the most important thing was my body trusted her. This was 30+ years ago, so “birth rape” was not a term, though it was not at all a rare phenomenon, and it was not a risk I was willing to take. Nobody is ever going to bully me into siding with their “expertise” over my body’s own wisdom. Not ever. The second baby was almost as big as the first, and I had not one stitch- no birth trauma whatsoever.

  • I first encountered the term when I was pregnant with my first child, and researching the way that childbirth has been medicalised. Iatrogenic injury is why the US has such a dismal record on childbirth outcomes, business as usual involves many unnecessary interventions (electronic fetal monitoring, labor induction, epidurals) which almost invariably lead to the ultimate intervention: major abdominal surgery. I couldn’t find a midwife to homebirth the first time ’round, but I managed to avoid most of these by refusing the initial unnecessary intervention- an IV line. When I got pregnant the second time, I was even more determined to have a positive, trauma-free birth. I found the perfect midwife, and was tended by her OB nurse friend for the hour it took her to get to my home (she was out of town at a wedding when labor hit strong). It was perfect, and I’m a huge homebirth advocate.

  • Witches, by the way, have not been eradicated. You’re speaking with one. Wiccan training involves accessing and using altered states of consciousness, and is very pertinent to this topic of discussion. Thanks for bringing it up, Fiachra!
    Many of the experiences that psych would label, are indeed essential on that spiritual path. How an individual experiences themselves in the midst of it is very much influenced by the paradigm they look to for clarity. Look to the toxic paradigm of psychiatry and you will be told that these experiences are something to be feared, shunned, fixed. Witches and Shamans will tell you that these same experiences are meaningful, useful, a step towards greater awareness. Hearing a voice others can’t? Depending on the message and the context, you might have just become aware of a spirit guide- perhaps an ancestor, or “guardian angel” (in quotes because Judeo-Christian concepts are not my paradigm, though to many, this explanation would make sense) or totem animal. Witches train to master abilities like scrying: gazing into a focal object to see into the past, to see into the future, or to see into the present moment somewhere far away. What some would call dancing on the edge of madness, we call walking between the worlds. But it starts with self-awareness, and self-discipline: recognizing and owning your energy; containing it; directing it; learning to erect a shield, an energy barrier that keeps unwanted energies out. One of the most important aspects of Wiccan training is discernment: not every spirit that wants access has beneficial intentions, for instance. Many people seeking training are just learning how to open themselves to altered states, but for those who arrive already adept at that skill, the first thing I address is psychic self-defense so that they can be empowered to safely travel those realms.

  • Well that really depends on the nature of the handouts, and who is receiving them, doesn’t it? Corporate welfare is doled out on a Maybe- if we give huge tax breaks to rich corporations, then maybe they will use the funds to create new jobs. Very little oversight, very few hoops to jump through if you’re a corporation with your hand out; no Nanny State for you, it’s just assumed you’ll do the right thing. But if you are an individual who is truly in need, there must be something wrong with you, some moral failing that gives us the right to dictate how you spend “our” money. It all sources back to the Calvinist work ethic, that god reward$ people who are good and punishe$ those who are not. Wealth is seen as proof of morality through this fucked-up lens. How many times I have wished I were born Scandinavian!

  • Tina, once again, Thank You! What you do is invaluable.
    As I was reading this, it occurred to me that this sense of being entitled to control others springs not only from fear that an ‘other’ might not control themselves, but also from this mindset that “if I pay for it, I own it.” I see parallels to food stamps, and “welfare” here in the US. If we had the mindset that supports a basic universal income for all citizens, if a basic standard of living (including decent health care) were the right of every citizen, that would strip away that particular rationale for subjugation. Thoughts?

  • Since psychiatrists love to tout the explanation that “mental illnesses” are just like physical illnesses, I challenged mine about this notion of “symptom reduction” being a good thing this way:
    Okay, so somebody says they are having chest pains. You do NOT tell them to take painkillers for the rest of their life and if the pain is deadened, (i.e. “symptom reduction”) then treatment goals have been met and they are a-ok. You investigate the SOURCE of the pain, because you recognize it is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed; whereas if you just send them off with a drug to numb the pain, the underlying cause is going to get worse, and the heart attack that could have been prevented may well kill them.

  • Stephen Gilbert,
    You are one of the people whose words have been the most valuable and meaningful here. If you do jump ship, I will sorely miss you. Please consider leaving a “forwarding address?”
    I come here and I read, and you and Alex, Steve McCrea, and oldhead and madmom and acidpop and humanbeing and kindred spirit (and others) make me feel less alone.

    The thought of any of you being driven from this home has me crying right now,

  • Thank you so much for explaining that! I must admit to being intrigued and have thought about visiting your site, but was very reluctant to do so for the terminology used here. Additional info changes the picture, so please re-post the link?
    I intend to write my own story here on MiA, but I don’t carve out the time required to do so, and life has been throwing a lot of challenges at my family these last few months that have me feeling spent, so I don’t know when it will be complete and cohesive enough to present. But I will say this for now: I am on a similar journey (there are way more people in my house than there are bodies). But my experience is very like, and very unlike, that of folks who claim the label DID or MPD. I, too, have tried to connect with others with whom I could find community, but I don’t fit and the needs a community might meet for me go unmet. Reading the psych terminology very much puts me off (it is self-preservation to tune out) and I find myself unable to trust those who seem comfortable using those terms, and so, unable to connect. If you are inclined to ditch that vocabulary, I encourage you to do so. Would make you/your story more approachable.
    I have found it liberating to self-define, and refuse to cede that to doctors, therapists, screenwriters, even other Mad folk. I don’t need to wear their shades to see myself, and can’t really be seen by anyone looking through those lenses. My hope for your wife (and more importantly, for her girls) is that they can separate the truth of who they are from the “self/s” others have imposed on them.
    Ok, I feel like we’ve “met” each other a bit, now I’d like to come visit on your turf 🙂

  • Hi samruck2,

    Sometimes I sit with things awhile to have a better understanding of my reactions before speaking. Uprising’s characterization of your comments didn’t feel on-spot to me, but in the middle of that feeling sat some sort of grain-of-truth, so I clicked on your name and went back and read the entirety of your comments, and I think I get it now. I do not see what uprising sees. Please hear that. I understand that you are here expressing your thoughts and feelings relating to this healing journey you are taking with your wife, you’re being real about it, about how hard it’s been. Please know there is room for that. Sometimes the way you express yourself might cast shadows that resemble those that hurt us, and that’s what I heard in uprising’s comment. Reading the exchange, the phrase nothing about us without us kept resounding for me. You use the psychobabble terminology (system, alters, host) even though you’ve expressed clearly that your wife’s girls just wanna be referred to as girls, and even though you’ve expressed clear discomfort of your own using them- one of your comments had “gag” right alongside ‘alters’- so why do you use those terms? To me, it feels disrespectful to do so when the psych terminology doesn’t really seem to sit well with either you or her/them. I find myself wondering how your wife would present herselves, and how different it might be hearing about the journey from their perspective.

  • A few points:

    1. Science only acknowledges as real those things that can be observed and measured. It is rarely acknowledged that this is a fundamental limitation on its authority to deem anything not real. Germs existed before we had microscopes to observe them, radiation existed before geiger counters, etc. Some people are very sensitive, and can detect things others cannot. How many people out there felt an awareness about the US gov’t spying on us all and got labeled paranoid or worse before Edward Snowden’s revelations confirmed their knowledge? Have you ever considered the possibility that their perception is based on more information than yours? That they may be sensitive to things that you are unable to perceive?
    I can sense energy fields/auras around people, and put full faith in my ability to discern certain things about an individual based on their energy. Someone with bad energy is not trustworthy in my world. Period.I have often made this determination upon a greeting handshake, without even a word exchanged. I do not talk myself out of following my intuition, and cannot be swayed by rational arguments. I am more sensitive than most people; that is my truth.

    2. Children often express their knowing with the best vocabulary they have, which is often symbolic. Let’s revisit the example of the child who says they were placed with their family by aliens. Perhaps they were adopted, and though it’s been kept strictly confidential the child feels the truth. Or perhaps the child, though natural-born, does not at all fit in with their family, is a shy quiet bookworm in a family of rambunctious jocks, and aliens is the explanation they have found for this situation and why they feel so different/out-of-place. There are kids who realize they are gay from very early, and others who feel a pervasive sense of “otherness” long before they understand why. I was one of those kids, though gay is just one facet of my “otherness.” Take them literally and you not only miss a precious opportunity for deep understanding, but you damage their trust in their own intuition.

    Rev. Dr. Epperson wrote in a previous essay here on MiA about a young woman in the hospital who would not interact with anyone, but would only lay under her bed and claim to be a fish. A young man decided to be with her “where she’s at” and laid under the other bed, facing her, and only said “glub glub” and this went on for a bit, until the woman felt safe enough to share with him (a fellow fish) the atrocious thing she witnessed that made her so distrustful of humanity that she decided to be a fish. By entering her aquarium, he was able to help her build a sense of trust in some humans again, and she was able to heal. Your approach would not.

  • There are also folks like me, whose melatonin system is outta whack somehow. I do not say this because of anything a Dr put together. I recognized a seasonal pattern to my life- winters were way hard emotionally, I had low energy, craved sleep and carbs. I was a journal-er, so it was easy to go back and read and confirm. And I happened to read an article about this very phenomenon happening in northern latitude regions. The theory was that sunlight taken in through the eyes triggers a waking response in the brain, signaling us to slack off the melatonin production because dawn is breaking and it’s time to get up. If there’s not enough sun to trigger this response, the melatonin production doesn’t slack off enough. The solution is very bright full-spectrum light, which you can switch on and read your morning paper by, or a dawn simulator that wakes you up with light, soft at first and gradually full intensity. Light therapy worked for me! This is the one and only brain chemical imbalance that I claim, but I do claim it because it rings true in my center, that place of wisdom that knows what’s what. And it makes total sense because my eyes have always been very photo-sensitive; ever since I was a kid I squinted.

  • I watched the whole thing, and it’s not easy, especially the last 2 episodes. But it is very worthwhile, and I am very grateful they portrayed everything the way they did. In that way, it was like watching Schindler’s List: bearing witness. It is not supposed to be easy, or comfortable.


    I felt a kinship with Hannah, and with Skye, and somewhat with Clay and Tony. Hannah made several attempts to hang on to living. Each time a door closed, she tried to find a window. She tried the old adage that to have a friend you have to be a friend, continuing to have compassion for the closeted girl even after the girl spread more slut rumors about her. How many times can a vulnerable person get kicked in the gut before they stop trying to get on their feet again? She finds herself trapped in her parents’ disappointment when her mother refuses her offer of restitution for the bank deposit she lost, blocking her only avenue of making things better. Hannah’s last effort (school counselor) caused exponential harm to her situation, so where to turn? I was glad they depicted that there are real risks to turning to the official “helpers.” Jessica sums it up great when Clay asks if she needs to see somebody, “Who? Did you listen to the last tape? Do you know what happens to girls who try to get help?”

    I can’t help but wonder whether Hannah might have noticed the support the adult members of the poetry club were poised to offer if she had encountered the librarian before the school counselor. Even though she had attended the club only briefly, Hannah definitely made an impression. “We’ve missed you at the group- Linda even wrote a poem about it” felt like the possibility of a lifeline, but Hannah was already too battered, too betrayed to feel the possibility there for understanding, support, love. She had no trust left after the counselor’s victim-blaming misogynist assumptions over-wrote her story before she could even tell it. She had already experienced the catharsis that recording the tapes brought, and writing might have “bled off” enough of the toxic emotions of the moment to get her through the rest of high school. It was that feeling of catharsis that gave her the glimmer of hope to attempt to keep living. If she had entrusted that spark of hope to the Lindas in her world instead of the Official Helper, she might have had a chance.

    Throughout the series, we see Clay being torn up by Hannah’s pain as he goes through the ordeals with her via the tapes. One of the best scenes, that conveys the best support, is toward the end, when Clay reaches out to Skye and asks if they can hang out sometime, like now. She asks if he’s okay, and their exchange is perfect: “No. Is that alright?” And Skye replies that yeah, that’s alright. That’s the message we all need when we are Not Okay: it’s alright that you’re not okay, I will be with you as you are.

  • Here’s a fine HIIPA story for you, Steven. The last time I interacted with psychiatry was about a dozen years ago, give or take, but HIIPA was in effect at the time:
    I’d gotten the call that one of my parents was dying, and made the trek back to my hometown, where deathbed admissions were made and family skeletons tumbled from the closet, confirming memories I’d had of incest. They ended up slipping into a coma but woke after a few weeks. The whole experience shook me to the core, and the standard 3-day bereavement leave was nowhere near enough time off work to integrate everything that happened. Even though I had been working with an MFT for awhile, the insurance required an MD to sign off on the time off. Kaiser assigned a psychiatrist that seemed to be sufficient, but after a couple of appointments with him, he suddenly became unavailable (but they always assured he’d be back in a week or two), and no matter which psych-du-jour it was that was filling in for him would only write me a 2-week extension. Having to address my situation with a new person every 2 weeks made healing impossible, and when I got fed up and demanded to be assigned to a doctor who was actually there to do the job, his boss got exasperated with me and said “Cut the guy some slack, he’s depressed!” This was the guy just beneath the head of the department, and REALLY should have known better! I lit into him: Did DR. Depressed give you written permission to disclose that to one of HIS PATIENTS?! I rather doubt that. And you don’t even know me! You have no idea how that info will be received by me, or what I might do with it. I’d call that reckless disregard for his emotional well-being AND mine!” The next call I got was from the dep’t head, who gladly signed off on the 8 months’ leave that an independent eval suggested. I was too twisted up by it all to follow through on my intention of reporting him to the AMA, APA, medical licensing board, etc.

  • I’m not good at attributing quotes, so I’m not sure who said this, but it was something like:
    “if you see me struggle, and want to help me, no. But if you see that your struggle and mine are bound together, we should join forces.”
    Whatever the exact wording was, the message speaks to the fact that too many “helpers” are on an ego trip that makes them think they are better, smarter, more evolved than those poor unfortunate souls they are “helping.” This mindset puts everyone on an equal footing, instead of one-up, one-down. You should find the quote, and put it in your lecture.

  • Personally, I just find it appalling that it is anyone other than the PATIENT making their OWN life-and-death decisions based on their OWN values, regardless of which way that pendulum swings. That anybody would ever feel so entitled to impose their own ethical values on another’s Most Fundamental Choice (to live or to die) just offends me to the core!
    I am very different from the mainstream, in many fundamental ways, and I never want anybody assuming anything about what it is I want. They’d almost always get it wrong. If you assume I’d want mustard on my sandwich or peppers on my pizza, I live with a temporary condition of discomfort: I go without a meal, I get hungry, maybe grumpy. No big deal in the long run. But if you assume that I’d want to fight through terrible pain/trauma/debilitation and keep on living, you’d be Dead Wrong, but I’d be the one stuck with the consequences. If you assume I’d be okay sacrificing my ability to sing in order to keep on breathing (or breathing via machine, for even one minute), you’d be Dead Wrong. If you assume I’d accept a transfusion of someone else’s blood in my veins for any reason, you’d be Dead Wrong.
    Now, turn the tables: think about how you would feel if I were an MD and felt entitled to decide YOUR care based upon MY personal values. Really sit with that scenario.

  • To me, the scary thing about all these Catholic hospital buys (6 in 10 hospital beds in the US!) is the fact that the healthcare you will receive can go directly against your own values because it is the Bishops’ Directives making the choices. There’s lots of talk about sex (contraception, abortion) but what about death? Advance directives don’t mean shit to the bishops making your decisions once you are in their beds.

  • Sharing LSD stories? I only have one, but it’s a good one. Was 1990-ish and I was at my favorite dance club with friends. I knew it was coming on when the neon flamingo hanging on the wall started dancing too! We went back to my house, laughter sitting on the porch roof, hilarity when somebody came with pizza dough they had dumpster-dived and we played with it like pulling taffy. Very good times. At some point though I decide that it’s time to get some sleep. I lay down and close my eyes but sleep will not come, so I gaze out the window and the street light captures my attention- so beautiful, the rainbow halo effect that surrounds the glowing source. And the motion of the bugs around it is mesmerizing, and they get bigger, become butterflies, and one especially gets bigger and more majestic in its winged beauty as it flies away from the light. I am transfixed, even as I watch it changing, growing darker and larger the closer it gets. It is the grim reaper by the time it approaches the window, and it taps on the glass with the tip of its scythe. And I laugh, wag my finger and say something to the effect of “go back to the light, you silly butterfly!” It made me laugh, and I shifted into this dual-perspective place where I was able to have the experience and be in it, but also aware of it being a chemically-induced thing, and thinking observational thoughts. And I think I might have been coming down a bit by then because sleep came maybe an hour after. I really enjoyed it, all of it. Next time I would have better snacks around (we had potato chips and cream soda), and art supplies on hand, tactile stuff and colors and glue. When the cream soda spilled up on the roof, I remember tracing patterns in it with my fingers, watching the light play off the wetness.

    For me, there is important transformative work in those places, that is best done when I have something I can destroy and then create from. I didn’t know that at the time. I was 20-something; I thought I was just taking drugs. Now I know there’s no such thing.

  • I don’t have any answers for you, Robert, wish I did. But I couldn’t have the only response to your plea be a scam pitch (why do those keep popping up here?!) and just wanted to say stuff you already know, I’m sure: you are not alone, so many of us doing better but not doing okay enough. I feel you. Me too. And anybody who wants you to shell out $300/mo on supplements through them, that screams of exploitation of your vulnerable state and desire to heal, and I find that repugnant. I wish you healing, with plenty of discernment along the way, same wish I have for me.

  • Alex- I did as you suggested and emailed Hana asking her to forward my info to you, but have not heard anything back. I, too, value my privacy, and don’t have any contact info that’s for public consumption I could just post here. But it has taken me quite awhile to take this step of reaching out to you, time to ride the seesaw of need vs. risk (heart-trust being the fulcrum it balances upon), and then once decided, time to gather my courage to actually express that need. And now that I’ve done so I’m eager-bordering-anxious to get on with the process and communicate directly with you.
    I’m wondering whether it would get a quicker response if I hit the “Report comment” button for this comment, just to get the attention of any MiA moderator with the ability to help me with this? They can reply to this comment and let me know to email my info to them, perhaps be on the lookout for it.

  • Alex, can I please reach out to you to converse privately? You’ve put your heart energy out often here in these pages, and I feel a level of trust and understanding with you. I am very vulnerable and do not trust easily, but I need to trust someone and my heart feels you are trustworthy enough to take the risk.

  • Wow! Is that all in the court transcript? Because it seems like there ought to be some way to appeal this. It’s just so Wrong. Have you contacted Tina Minkowitz (one of the authors here)? She has a law degree- I just have empathy.

  • That’s the first time anyone’s asked me that! Lavender is my color- I experience my personal aura field that way, and unless I am experiencing distress that changes it, that is the color others (who can sense these energy fields) perceive my aura as well. Sage is my favorite smudge for clearing and aligning energy, the scent of burning white sage is always significant for me in dreams– it feels like an ancestral connection, a way of my own ancestors getting my attention, the ancestors who were herbalist/shamans. So I guess LavenderSage represents the me I can stand in when I am healthy, balanced, confidently walking my path. LavenderSage is she who I am and yet aspire to be, me without the clutter of ego-struggles and pity parties.

  • I wish there had been someone there at the time that she would have allowed to “interview” her about it! I wanted to hear all about it! But from the very beginning she was not apt to entertain others’ curiosity, not a people-pleaser type, so there was no pumping her for info! She was invested in a shared memory, and once she realized I could not give her that, the experience was over for her– kaput!– despite my piqued curiosity. “Move along, nothing more to see here…” became her position.