My radio has been scanning into a local independent (103.5) and the other morning I heard a program featuring a New Zealander who had written a fictional book (‘based on small truths’)
about the wreckage that mental illness can cause in people’s life. Most people, when they read that sentence will assume it is because crazy people fuck up their lives…however, as the New Zealander was keen to realize – the illness itself is usually far less destructive to a person’s wellness than the ‘treatment’ of that illness.
I sort of actually know what I’m talking about with this one. In fact, I am damn expert. See, when I twelve or actually thirteen, I think – – – it was a long time ago, almost 2/3 of my life ago…well, I was pissed off and burgeoningly hormonal and culturally confused because the damn Navy built a nuclear sub base three miles from town and suddenly all the mean kids I grew up with were joined with new legions of mean kids from such far flung places as Guam and California. They were all military. The 20,000 person explosion prompted a sale of the family land and my family bought a Jeep Cherokee and my father ironed his shirts for meetings with real estate people. And everything changed and I discovered The Cure, and that did, admittedly, make me moodier.
I was a pill, angry and sullen and hating every single bulldozer that tore up every single blackberry thicket and old road.
When some girl from Birmingham who I didn’t even like that much invited me over to her house – some nouveau South whopper in the north of the county – well, I went. We drank peppermint schnapps and I didn’t even like it that much, but I have never been good at standing up for myself and she was from Birmingham and had a face like a ferret. Well, it was her idea to take the stupid van to the stupid shopping center, to go to the damn franchised sandwich shop. She drove. It was dumb. Nobody was even really hanging out. Of course, her mom was in the driveway smoking a cigarette when we got back. Of course, we were so dumb that we didn’t think her ‘sleeping’ mother wouldn’t notice that we, and the vehicle, were gone. I mean, jeez, we were thirteen.
My parents had to pick me up at the 1/2way exit, in Kingsland. The next morning they took me to the police station (shaming) and then they took me (blaming) to an inpatient psychiatric facility that has since changed management and seems quite cushy…I just remember it as being very dark and beige/mauve…and pretty f*in horrible, if the truth be told.
They taught me how to be mentally ill, to state at the beginning of each ‘new patient’ group – “My name is Faith and I am depressed, manipulative, with suicidal ideation.” Like a catechism.
I was there for five weeks and five days.
This last little parental (yes, it’s true…I am 34 years old and my parents had me involuntarily committed because I was trying to prove God and escape reality and found a couple of easy and interesting friends to keep me company during a family-fear laced weekend, we made potatoes and talked about music and language. I told them to go away as soon as I realized that I had majorly screwed up. I was asleep in an empty house when the police came. It pretty much sucked…and continues to suck, but I am trying to learn what I can from the experience, etc.)
Anyway, this last little send-away was time #5 in some locked situation…three were by my own circuitous doing…but, it’s been a long time since I have been that idiotic…a solid ten years…whatever.
Anyway, the issue is this…I wonder if my ‘brain chemistry’ as it is now – which actually ain’t half-bad, I have been a little depressed since taking the good old Depakote…they have me on 2G a day. Crazy, huh? But, if I don’t take it – well, then I will be non med-compliant, so what’s a girl to do?
It’s a little tough that my mental health providers are the one’s who determine whether or not I am ‘stable’ enough to – (ouchouchouch) and it really is unfortunate, because the other day when I was waiting to see the doctor, they forgot I was there and I heard them beginning to discuss another ‘client’ and the way they spoke of him and his circumstances, his fate, his possible IQ…
“Um, hi? Yeah, I am going to go in this room, because of…you know, confidentiality.”
What I meant was that I am going in this room because you are talking about a person as if they are nothing but a collection of diagnostic criteria and indicative sociocultural factors…as if they were nothing…and it makes me feel queasy.
When I wrote about the people who have the missing pieces, who are the missing pieces…well, the way a lot them are likely destroyed because someone mistook their sensitivity as sickness or forgot that sometimes the world is a miserable f*in place to bear witness to or that sometimes people have ups and down, currents and tides, and that if people are empowered to manage them wisely – well, it’s no big deal…
We aren’t the missing pieces because we are special…except, oh yeah…we are. Isn’t that true? Oh, only if your measured intelligence quotient is rather “low” – then you’re special. I guess we are just ‘ill’ –
I’m not sure why. I guess I don’t understand a lot of why folks forget that people have actual hearts and minds and electrical limits, in a literal and figurative sense.
I personally am really quite tired of feeling the tired breath of ‘mental illness’ – it’s pretty damn obvious and stale. If I am trying to do one thing, just one – well, I am trying to prove that the people you box up to suit your perspective, well – we have whole worlds inside us.
I wonder – and here I wander back to my earlier query – – – I wonder what my ‘chemistry’ might be like if I had not been on such a steady diet of anti-this and anti-that for 1/2 my brain developing years. I mean, really…it’s a little alarming to consider the quantities of equal and opposite reactions that must have occurred.
Just today, I heard a practitioner say, in response to the identification of risperidone as causing the man beside me to fall asleep at the table. “Oh, yeah – we’d give that to kids…if they got agitated.” She used to work with abused kids.
I recall several months ago, I was so alarmed to consider the implications of giving a 5 year old something that can increase the possibility of pituitary tumors. That’s horrifying. I have been on that ‘medication’ – I shook so badly that I couldn’t even write my name.
I don’t think my family ever considered that perhaps they should talk to me. Or that perhaps there were other options. My papers say I’m bipolar. I never claimed that diagnosis, it’s a double fisted rip-off.
Speaking of queasy, I hear (on the radio) The Prez went to India with Walmart. What the hell? Yup. What the hell?
Mega-Corporations just might be the devil. A complicit government isn’t much help…unless of course, you’re a corporation.
Why doesn’t Walmart do something here? And not just build another place to deposit our money for a no-return, some cheap chemical crap we don’t really even want or need. Why don’t they re-establish manufacturing here? Manufacture your own lines, give people jobs. Whatever. This place makes no sense at all.
When I was talking to my friend from the Farmer’s Market, who is 66 – well, he was talking about his childhood and it sounded like a 100 years ago…it was in the 1950’s, in Rhode Island.
My new penpal – who lives in a Death Row “pod” – is much nicer and more considerate than a lot of the folks who are walking around here. He reports that folks there are on good behavior to avoid solitary confinement and the risk of losing out on the opportunity for ‘special’ food during the holidays.
(I like how the overloaded sound furrs together. Lyrics are fairly improv. Not to be taken literally. I don’t have a single horse. Not a one. Nor can I fly. Nor will I know.)
(Man, I totally crack myself up.)
By the way, just to reiterate, I’m not upset with my family. I seem to be at an emotional impasse, but – like I’ve said – I really am unable to hold much of a grudge.
Besides, they got ripped off, too. It happens. A lot.
Amazing the stuff we buy into…often at the expense of one another.