Thursday, June 30, 2022

Comments by Scary Black Kitty

Showing 13 of 13 comments.

  • I agree with what Ron Unger said above, but want to add one more thing.

    While the issues of employment and social functioning are important, emotional disorders cause great distress even when people are employed and even when their social systems aren’t impacted at all.

    I suffered from major anxiety and OCD for decades in secret, while doing quite well in college and career, and without being on meds. Nobody knew what was going on inside my head, yet I was suicidal because I WAS SUFFERING.

    I often encounter the idea in this forum that people with emotional and mental illnesses are just “different” and everything would be fine if society allowed them to be the way they are. I can tell you that even if society had PAID me a zillion dollars to have anxiety and OCD, I still wouldn’t want them BECAUSE HAVING THEM FEELS HORRIBLE.

  • Respectfully, Pacific:

    Many people actually have emotions so overwhelming and powerful, they can’t work. They can’t talk to people. They can’t leave their homes. Some can barely cook meals or leave their rooms. And this emotional state lasts for weeks, months, sometimes years.

    People have actually had this experience without ever having taken a psych medication or even spoken to any doctor. And this has been happening since since long before psychiatry or psychology existed.

    I’m curious: What do you propose should happen with these folks? Or do you deny they exist and that they have ever existed?

  • Elizabeth, I read your story with interest and investigated your blog. I have 2 questions for you:


    I understand pushback against the psychiatric community and Big Pharma for labeling depression and anxiety as “illnesses” attributable to chemical imbalances, and profiting from treatments and medications.

    But when I look at Functional Medicine, I see similar ideas. According to FM, emotional symptoms can result from nutritional deficiencies, hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, inflammation, thyroid issues etc.

    You were diagnosed with pyroluria, a genetically-aquired chemical imbalance in the brain that causes symptoms like ADHD, antisocial behavior, anxiety, depression, explosive temper, and fatigue.

    Diagnosis and treatment for FM is usually not covered by insurance. To cover tests and nutritional therapy, patients can join the Kalish Institute for $300-$5,000 each year (per their website). Supplements, etc., wouldn’t be included in this cost.

    Patients at Front Range Functional medicine generally invest between $3,000 and $15,000 on their care (per their website).

    The article “4 Ways to Make Your Functional Medicine Clinic More Profitable” on the Lifestyle Matrix website says:

    “The average plan costs the patient between $6,000 and $8,000 for the 10 to 12 months they work with us.”

    A survey by the Institute for Functional Medicine survey says the average annual income of an FM practitioner is $130,000, “the lowest income among all medical specialties.” (But do FM practitioners aren’t required to have a medical degree.)

    I’m NOT saying any treatment should be given away for free. We live in a Capitalistic society, and people have to earn an income.

    But FM and psychiatry seem to share a basic premise: trauma and life circumstances can play a role — but emotions are affected by chemical imbalances in the brain or body, and can be treated with substances (either dietary supplements, a $2B industry, or or Rx meds). Many people are in both types of therapy with blessings from the practitioners. So what is the PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCE between the two approaches?


    I was intrigued by your your gentle reference to your faith. What are your thoughts about how faith figures in to the emotional picture?

    I’m sure you’re aware that John Piper teaches that anxiety and depression can be caused by (literally) Satantic forces.

    Also, I’m wondering how you feel about Piper’s stance on divorce (never acceptable for any reason, including adutery, abandonment or abuse); homosexuality and gay marriage (sinful, incompatable with Christian faith; a “path to eternal distruction”); and salvation (only accessible to born-again Christians, with everyone else — about 85% of people on the planet — consigned after death to “eternal conscious torment in hell.”

    *This isn’t a troll question. It is VERY RELEVANT in discussion of trauma.*

    You may be unaware of it, but there’s a huge number of religion survivors who developed anxiety, depression, PTSD, self-harm, sexual dysfunction, and suicidally as a direct result of “Desiring God” and similar theologies. ExVangelical, No Longer Quivering and Kiss Shame Goodbye are just three of them.

    Religious Trauma Syndrome is a very big thing out there, and Piper’s teachings open a door to it. I’m curious about your thoughts.


  • 》Abena needed an endocrinologist. Not a shrink.《

    Um … what?

    Endocrinologists treat diabetes. She did not have diabetes. She had advanced liver disease.


    I brought Abeba to the ER of our local hospital (University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics) and she was in the psych ward initially because she was in crisis.

    They didn’t say, “You’re crazy. Here are some chill pills.” No. As I said, they did a complete workup.

    They discovered she had advanced cirrhosis of the liver from Hepatitis C that had gone untreated for decades. She was dying. The psychosis was due to hepatic encephalopathy, and yes, there was trauma in her past as well. It was multiple things.

    She was in the hospital for some time, but only in the psych unit for a few days. She was in different units, under the care of a whole medical team from different disciplines, working to save her life. It was a team approach.

    Psych was only one part of it. There are some psych drugs that are contraindicated for this condition, and others that are helpful. They monitored her. They did not lock her in a dungeon with rats.

    》Why not fix the liver?《

    Is this a real question?

    Do you really think a medical team working to save someone who was dying from cirrhosis didn’t think about “fixing her liver?”

    They slowed the progression of her disease. She likely would have died in a month or two, had she not been treated at that time.

    But some damage cannot be reversed. A liver is not a sprained ankle.

    You know…I came here and really tried to be respectful. I asked some legit questions.

    I do not think it would have been better for Abena to have burned down her home, and continued to believe her daughter was a demon, than to have had a period of happiness in her last few years because psych was involved.

    I am in the middle of this debate because in my life, I have been both hurt and helped by psych meds & doctors, and I have seen friends and family both hurt & helped by the same.

    I realize most of you have felt invalidated and gaslighted by the psych industry. They denied your lived experiences. The same thing has happened to me, and I know how horrible that is.

    But here, I feel like MY lived experiences (and those of others, as well) are likewise being denied, invalidated and gaslighted. And it actually feels more painful here, because it’s coming from others with lived experiences…who I’d hoped would have some empathy.

    I just don’t have the bandwidth for this right now. So I have to step away.

  • Thank you, Rachel. I’ve seen you a lot here.

    》For my part the “antidepressants” caused my psychosis. The massive quantities of Haldol …《

    Yes, I know your story, and the story of others who developed their symptoms as a result of the meds.

    I don’t want to get off-track with my own story. But I am a person who suffered multiple symptoms of what I call mental illness for 15 years BEFORE I ever swallowed a pill.

    I do know about Haldol. Personally. I have blogged on it. It is a horrible, horrible thing. In fact, with both Serene and Abena’s family, I discussed this and was relieved to know it was not being used in either case.

    I will leave it there.

    》It’s good these drugs managed to shut off the right parts of the brains in both instances. This is not always the case. 《

    You are absolutely right. It isn’t always the case.

    However, to me, it suggests that there is some medical basis behind these symptoms and the drugs that affect those systems. It suggests that there are, at least sometimes, physical or medical causes for symptoms like these.

    》It’s troubling they were the only answer for people with a damaged liver and brain, since they only make those physical problems worse.《

    In both of THESE cases, specifically, the person was in the process of dying at the time. One has died (and would have either way.) One has a likely shortened life span due to the lupus. The question, I think, was to improve quality of life if even for a limited time.

    Abd yes, I am VERY aware of long-term effects stories. Very. But these “short” stories are valid to discuss as well.

    》I wonder if dialysis might have helped Abena《

    She did have dialysis. That doesn’t fix the liver though. There was also discussion of transplant but she was not a candidate.

    》As far as the third example the use of pot and emotional trauma may be to blame.《

    Yes, I am 100% sure that is true. We all are, which is why I mentioned the pot at all.

    I realize a lot of folks think that while Pharma is all bad, pot is all good…the natural medicine. I think it isn’t benign.

    》Does your friend trust you enough to tell you what’s going on in her head?《

    Not right now, but she’d had long discussions with many friends about all this in the months prior. We all knew parts of the story.

    (My mom is dying and I have been out of town. I am getting this from our friends.)

    But my main question is about the acute issue.

    When your friend is drilling holes into her walls and ceiling, ripping lights and wires out, and telling people they are cameras… when she is screaming accusations at neighbors….

    And you (her friends) have taken turns for weeks staying with her, talking to her, listening to her, and this is happening….


    If it is WRONG to get police or psych involved, then what?

    If it is WRONG to hold people against their will, and what they are doing can get them electrocuted or shot… What are the options in those hours?

    That is my question.

    》Too bad only those drugs work at calming Serene. There is a reason she hates taking them.《

    You are reading into what I said. I didn’t say she hated taking them. She, her mom and doctors all wanted to see how she would do tapering off various meds, to see what worked and didn’t.

    It was not JUST her psych meds. Lupus has a cocktail, like HIV.

    Without the antiosych meds, her delusions return. And she hates THOSE.

    《And they correct nothing–biologically speaking.《

    Very true. But many or most drugs DON’T “correct” things. Pain pills don’t fix a broken back. Insulin does not reverse diabetes. Many drugs relieve symptoms, and almost every drug has drawbacks.

    》Neurologists might be able to come up with solutions other than destroying what brain tissue she has left. Sadly they have abdicated cases like hers to psychiatrists.《

    I don’t know every detail, but Serene and her mom work with an entire staff of health professionals, social workers, occupational and physical therapists.

  • Boans,

    Thank you for your excellent questions:

    》Just wondering if “Abena” and her family were Muslim?《

    No. Actually, this Habesha community was Tewahedo (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian). My then-husband was a priest, and we had a local mission for immigrants and refugees from Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    Orthodox per se are not against any western medicine. Nor do I suggest they are “primitive.” My best friend was one of the immigrants; she came here, got a master’s in biology, and helps runs the cancer research center at a local hospital.

    But this PARTICULAR family, Abena’s, was not educated or “Westernized,” for lack of a better word.

    As for intoxicants … you are correct that they are prohibited. But I know Muslim alcoholics, and Catholics who have abortions. Folks don’t always follow religious rules especially when they come to the US.

    》I guess my first thoughts were that Abena was suffering from toxicity related to liver disease, deal with the toxicity and the delusions/hallucinations stop?《

    Because her situation was extreme and acute (it also involved a couple of arrests, and posession of some dangerous stuff), they had to deal with what they perceived as medical and psych all at the same time.

    And her liver was permanently damaged, it never returned to normal function. My understanding at the time (and there was always a language barrier, especially with complex things) was that she was essentially already terminal by that time.

    And yet (and I hesitate to share this here, but it is honest), the time between her her hospitalization and the final stages of her illness — about 2 years — it was miraculous.

    She was on anti-psych meds during this period (I know that word is disputed here) and she was a person I had never met before, the person her family told me she had been previously.

    She had never come to church, because she rarely left the house. She didn’t bathe regularly, and smoked constantly. She rarely ate. She kept to herself, mumbling. She literally never spoke to her child.

    That was the Abena I’d known for a couple of years before they said to me, “You must get involved.”

    After… my God. I had no idea how gorgeous she was. She wore makeup, jewelry, gorgeous habesha kemis. She smiled. She was witty. She went to concerts and hosted dinners at the home. She became a mom again to her daughter. And, they were able to visit home.

    I am not saying she was “manic.” She acted like a normal high-functioning person during that time. She even quit smoking.

    》My second thought was that you described her as being “combative” and well, if you tranquillize someone who is combative they tend to be a little more compliant《

    I don’t dispute that this is true in many cases.

    In this case, I am talking about a Habesha family, fairly recent immigrants, who had cared for a woman for years WITHOUT involving the psychiatric system.

    By “combative” I mean she screamed, threatened, threw things, destroyed property, and at one point had collected some illegal devices.

    Like many families would be, they were overwhelmed.

    》 but its not really the treating of any disease, 《

    Sedation for sedation’s sake, of course not.

    I am aware of what happens in nursing homes.

    This was different.

    This was not about making a grouchy person manageable.

    I am sure you don’t believe me, but it is true.

    And I am not sure if this community believes in Alzheimers, but it is real, and some patients do get violent as a part of that disease.

    I don’t think we have any good answers for that.

  • Thank you, Frank.

    What you say about the language of mental illness is 100% correct.

    I am sorry if I wasn’t clear when I wrote:

    》What people call “mental illness” or “psychosis” today has been around a very long time.”《

    By qualifying it with “what people call,” and putting quotes around words, I hoped it was evident that I understand this.

    My next paragraph said:

    》I’m talking about hearing terrifying voices, incapacitation due to depression, and unrelenting agitation.《

    Symptoms. Distressing things happening in the mind of the person.

    I actually spent a couple of hours writing, and rewriting, my comment last night. (And I’m a writer!) I struggled so mightily with the right words to use, to be clear and not cause offense.

    I don’t care about the language. We can call those symptoms “BZJHT” (just random letters on my Android keyboard.)

    People have experienced BZJHT in all cultures throughout time.

    Is that more clear?

    I have seen people here say things like “I don’t know what to call it.”

    It makes this extraordinarily hard to discuss.

  • Well, FWIW: we do have real-life examples for how these things are handled.

    Regarding “the insanity defense,” for good or ill, it’s rarely used, and very rarely successful; unlike on TV. I wrote a little about it here:

    Regarding euthanasia and mental illness, I find it impossible to believe we will be seeing a combination of these two inside of a century. Today, voluntary euthanasia (for medical illness) is available only in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and in six US States.

    Voluntary euthanasia for mental illness is available only one place in the whole world: the Netherlands. It requires leaping through multiple hoops. And it is relatively rare. (A report last winter that a teen girl had “been euthanized” for depression by doctors was false. In fact, the girl had been denied, and she startved herself at home.)

  • Oh, yes — I assumed that all comments are moderated. I was just concerned it wouldn’t pass that step, but it did.

    And BTW I agree with your comment above (“… If it is the latter, then claims that all shooters are “mentally ill” is pretty meaningless, as it seems to be defined simply as behavior that a society disapproves of.”)

  • I’ve been lurking here at MIA for a long time. Can you help me understand a couple things? I apologize for the length, but this piece finally compelled me to speak.

    (I see this is awaiting moderation. I have commented respectfully and honestly, and if it is rejected I will be disappointed and no closer to understanding.)

    First, two things you don’t need to convince me of:

    ✔ That some people would rather create scapegoats than deal with child abuse, domestic violence, poverty and gun laws — hence the false narrative that all violent people are “crazy” (and that all “crazy” people are violent), and

    ✔ That errors, negligence and abuses happen in the arena of psych care, meds and diagnoses.

    That said…

    1/ A bit of history: What people call “mental illness” or “psychosis” today has been around a very long time.

    I’m not talking about “creativity” or a refusal to “fit the mold.” I’m talking about hearing terrifying voices, incapacitation due to depression, and unrelenting agitation.

    Historically, most societies and cultures have not seen such people as seers or sages.

    In ancient Greece, Rome, Babylonia, China and Egypt, these were signs of demonic posession. Exorcism “techniques” included starvation, floggings, and, when these failed, execution.

    In 25 BC, Cornelius Celsus shacked and beat them. In the Middle Ages, many of them were imprisoned or burned as “witches.”

    But punishments weren’t always imposed by force. Autobiograpical accounts reveal the lengths sufferers have gone through to hide their symptoms and finally to seek relief. Crude surgeries, forced vomiting and bloodletting were among the “cures” through the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

    Journalist “Nellie Bly” discovered a literal snake pit when she feigned mental illness to get into the Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. The people there were mostly societal “outcasts,” and she said, rightly, that most had been perfectly fine until after they’d been sent there. But the era is still full of accounts of people who suffered from delusions and “hysteria” without ever having seen the inside of an asylum.

    I study history — not just history of psych, but history in general. And it seems to me that dehabilitating depression and psychosis existed LONG before SSRIs and Big Pharma.

    It also seems that such symptoms WERE seen as “a thing” — a particular, extreme condition for some people, not just universal emotional experiences to be treated with rest and herbal tea.

    Yet I often see narratives that suggest false (at best incomplete) historical narratives. What am I missing?

    ◈ ━━━━━━━ ⸙ ━━━━━━━ ◈

    2/ Can you tell me what SHOULD have been done in each of these 3 cases?

    A] I had connections within a community of Ethopian immigrants. One woman, “Abena,”
    had suffered from symptoms of “psychosis” for years. Her extended family had taken turns supporting her financially and caring for her. But she’d become confused and combative, and they were at the end of their patience.

    I know Abena had not received any “psych” treatment. Her family was traditional: they didn’t trust western medicine at all. They attributed her symptoms to entirely to spiritual issues, and had been treating it with prayer.

    By the time they specifically asked me for advice (they didn’t speak English well and could not navigate “the system”) Abena thought her beautiful daughter was a demon, and was talking about burning the house down.

    I confess that I helped her sisters get a 72-hour hold for her (which wasn’t easy). A full medical workup revealed that Abena’s delusions and hallucinations were the result of toxicity from undiagnosed liver disease.

    The bad news was her liver was so damaged, she died a couple years later from liver failure. The good news (according to what Abena and her family told me, and what I saw myself), antipsychotic meds were able to decrease her delusions to the point where “the demons” went away, and she, her sisters and daughter were able to enjoy a wonderful visit to Addis Ababa before she died.

    Her family thanked me at her funeral for my help. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life, but was getting psych care for Abena really one of them?

    ⊱⋅ ──────────── ⋅⊰

    B] Another friend (American) had a 22-year-old daughter, “Serene,” with no known psych history. Over a period of weeks, Serene went from being a bright, sociable and athletic Ivy League student to psychotic.

    Serene was hearing voices, thought her mom was poisoning her, and believed she was a concubine in the harem of a powerful king. My friend found her wandering one night in the street, naked, looking for him.

    Within days, Serene was in the ICU, with massive, multiple organ failure. It turned out she had lupus (the psychosis is a symptom, albeit a rare one).

    Against the odds, Serene survived, but suffered major brain damage. My friend had to quit work to become her full-time caretaker. And Serene still believed she belonged to a king, was being poisoned, and tried to climb out the window to escape … when she wasn’t on meds.

    When she is, though, she reads, hangs out with friends, listens to music, and helps her mom cook. This is the way Serene has been for most of the last 2 years, except for a couple periods when she wanted to stop meds.

    I guess you could say her mom is “controlling her.” Maybe she thinks this is better for Serene than her being naked on the streets where she could be raped or shot.

    (Actually, without financial assistance from “The System,” her mom being named legal guardian and caretaker, they’d BOTH be living on the streets. I’m unsure what people with certain symptoms, who cannot support themselves financially, should do for rent and food if they eschew medical diagnosis.)

    》 So, those were two cases of “mental illness” that certainly seem to be medical conditions…”brain disorders.”

    ⊱⋅ ──────────── ⋅⊰

    3] Just yesterday, a friend of mine decided her walls and light fixtures contained tiny people, who were spying on her and talking about her.

    She got up on a ladder and used a drill to tear her ceiling and wall apart. I found out because neighbors contacted another friend, adding that she has tried to enter their home multiple times and threatened them.

    This happened after several years of my friend self-medicating anxiety with marijuana (which is illegal here). To MY knowledge, she has not been on antidepressants, since I have known her. She has no insurance or doctor.

    As we learned more (alarming) details, it became clear that she is “a danger to herself or others.” We are working with her parents to (hopefully) get her professional help. But things don’t seem to be going well at all. They don’t have a good relationship, and her issues may well be “their fault.” She thinks we are all part of a spy ring. None of us has the resources to care for her (and she doesn’t trust us anyway).

    So, reading this made me realize I really had to respond today.

    What should we do? Just let her be?

    Even if she electrocutes herself?

    Even if she gets shot by the neighbors?

    Even if she winds up living in a sleeping bag because she can’t support herself?

    Because she should have “freedom?” “Automomy?”

    Help me understand.