Monthly Archives: January 2007

God

Recently I was reading “Letting go of the person you used to be” by Lama Surya Das. In it he tells a story about a seeker who visits all of these teachers to ask what the final total encompassing truth is only to be told that he is God by everyone he meets. He disagrees with every teacher until he finally finds one who agrees to let him study with him for years, but only if he also works shovelling manure. Several years later the seeker finally asks what the truth is, and the teacher tells him he is God. He gets furious and asks if that’s true then why did he toil away for so many years. The teacher says it’s true that he is God, but he isn’t very bright.

This is something I figured out when I went “crazy” and this is the main reason people threw me into the bin. I knew I was God. And not just me, you reading this are also God. It’s the greatest irony of human existence, sort of a joke really, but also completely sensible. God was never some Us/Them entity sitting up in a cloud making judgements. God is a being that supernova’d into billions of pieces to learn something about life and become better. And we’re all God and therefore the same person. It’s really terribly simple. But no one believed me, or bothered to do spiritual searching on their own, so when I realized this basic thing I got into DEEP shit, and I never really talked about it since.

Maybe I thought that one revelation was enough, but now I’m realizing it isn’t. Just being God doesn’t answer everything. I still have to figure out how to live my life in a suitable manner, I still have to take responsibility for certain things. So I guess that’s what I’m doing now. I don’t know why it took me so long to be able to just say this again, that I am God. I guess because I didn’t want to get thrown in the bin for something so obvious and true, AGAIN. Also, I think people just have to figure it out on their own. It’s not something you can truly believe unless you go through whatever it takes to understand this basic premise of existence, even if that means shoveling shit for seven years.

I don’t think it’s right to punish someone for having spiritual revelations, and I don’t think it’s right for people to have to hide what they know to be true about the nature of life. So mostly I’m looking for other people who know this too. A lot of people with mood disorders seem to have discovered this a long time ago, which is why I like hanging out with them. Buddhists too. Christianity has these principles in it’s history but I think the church obliterated a lot of it. I just feel like I don’t have a plan for after discovering that God thing. I have terrible spiritual discipline. I collect and toy with various religions, none of which suit me much. I like spiritual concepts but I find so much is caught in dogmatic ideas that have held it back from meaningful evolution. Mostly I find I’m making it up as I go along. But really I’m just trying to figure out how to live my life in a spiritual way, without falling back on rules which make no sense to me.

I guess I have questions, but I haven’t formed them properly so that I can address them. Those questions would be something along the lines of “How do you deal with bad people?” “Is forgiveness always necessary?” “Do you always turn away when someone is mistreating you, how do you hold them accountable?” Questions like that. Am I really crazy? Why am I crazy and not other people? What made me crazy, was it me or someone else? Am I just holding onto someone else’s projections of neurosis? I could ask questions all day.

I also think there is a spiritual emergency going on right now though, I keep seeing visions, and I keep thinking about that thing I saw in the sky. People I’ve been talking to have also noticed a higher incidence of paranormal activity. Personally, I think we’re moving into another dimension. And I also don’t think everyone will realize it. I think there will be a number of people who aren’t going to see things which are manifesting around us. In my own family I noticed my generation are nearly all capable of seeing and hearing things which people say don’t exist. And we can’t ALL be crazy. Something is afoot. What does it mean, I’m not sure. But I know life as we know it is going to be irrevocably altered.

I keep having a dream about something evil, something really bad but also completely paranormal, an entity of some kind. It’s not like it represents something specific, just a generalized Bad Spirit type of thing. And in my dream I have to swear at it, I have to yell really loud and I have to insult it. And I can’t do it, I keep stuttering because I’m so afraid. And this dream just happens all the time, and I’m starting to get better at it, but I still can’t yell. It’s like I’m training for something, it’s weird.

Normally I don’t talk about this side of me at all, because when I did I ended up in the bin. BUT, I think we’re at a point when these things should be talked about. Especially since some of the things I’ve been seeing have a political basis.

Maybe the most troubling thing I’ve seen recently is this vision I had of this dark rumbling cloud, something like the Nothing in the Neverending Story. This dark angry cloud of fury and frustration and anger and sorrow coming out of the whole of the Middle East and moving toward the United States. I don’t think it’s evil, I think it’s bad in that it has negative repercussions on everyone involved, but I also think someone in the Middle East would have seen the exact same entity coming towards them from the States just after 2001. I’ve been thinking a lot about it since I saw it. I don’t know what it means, like, I’m not going to say I see a dirty bomb in New York or anything. I don’t know what will happen. But it’s there, and it’s coming, and it’s slow and dark and huge. And if I could say it has one cause then that would be grief. It’s been built by grief. I saw it back in early November.

So yes, trying to get a spiritual practice together. I’m so often NOT someone who seeks out attention through things I’ve seen on those other planes of existence, so it’s kind of awkward for me to talk about this stuff. But I feel compelled to. I feel like if I don’t then there’s no point for me to be getting these visions. I don’t know why I’m getting them, but I think anyone can if they’re open to it.

Opening, Submission, new Doctor, BOOKS!

So the homeopathic doctor hit upon something everyone else missed, the head injury I recieved when I was two years old. He’s trying me on Natrum Sulphuricum for the head injury and chloramphenicol for a Salmonella infection I got when I was twenty, he thinks it might still be impacting my immune system. Anyway, it was one of those great moments in a doctor’s office where I was like “Holy shit, the head injury!” I did have to go to the hospital for it. And I was two (maybe 4?) when I got it so I wouldn’t have known life without any symptoms from it. I’m going to take this stuff for the next few weeks and we’ll see what happens.

The opening went well, people liked my tape. There were too many people so I hung out with my friend off to the side and felt ridiculously uber submissive feelings keep coming up and I was trying to behave, it was really hard!!! I don’t usually have massive submissive urges directed towards people, it’s nice when it happens but it makes me turn pink and shy.

I bought a book called “The Sanity We Are Born With,” it’s about Buddhist psychology and this idea that we are all born sane and that we are in fact sane at this very moment. It’s specifically written for people in psychological distress, so I’m curious to read it. I’ve never read much about Buddhist ideas around mental health, specifically the sane/insane thing.

I also picked up a book called “The Buddha and the Terrorist.” It’s like a parable about a terrorist meeting Buddha and having a serious of enlightening conversations.

I’m thinking of going to my first meditation group tomorrow night. We’ll see. A friend sent me a huge email about all the things she’s done to live med free. It was really helpful.

The Yellow Ward

“It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw–not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.” – The Yellow Wallpaper

“Is there a reason you’ve chosen to paint this ward in this shade of yellow?” I was specifically thinking of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which I assumed was an obvious cultural reference (it isn’t). However they didn’t get it and just started telling me about using whatever paint gets donated. How can people working in a psych institution not get the Gilman reference? It’s like not being insulted when I call them Nurse Rached.

Briefly, The Yellow Wallpaper charts a woman’s descent into madness while using the yellow wallpaper of the room she’s imprisoned in as a focal point for obsessive ruminations. It’s written by a psych survivor in the pre-med era.

In her own words:

“For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia–and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still-good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to “live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again” as long as I lived. This was in 1887.

“I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months, and came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over.

“Then, using the remnants of intelligence that remained, and helped by a wise friend, I cast the noted specialist’s advice to the winds and went to work again–work, the normal life of every human being; work, in which is joy and growth and service, without which one is a pauper and a parasite–ultimately recovering some measure of power.

“Being naturally moved to rejoicing by this narrow escape, I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, with its embellishments and additions, to carry out the ideal (I never had hallucinations or objections to my mural decorations) and sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad. He never acknowledged it.”

The irony of psychiatry is that time and time again the survivors who finally leave it altogether (or as much as is legally possible) go on to do great amazing and wonderous things, sometimes specifically to spite their doctors. It is clear that psychiatrists are not psychics and can’t truly say someone will be dependent on medication and be insane for the rest of their lives. But they do. And once someone sets up THOSE kinds of expectations in someone, it’s hard to see and move beyond it unless you have some really supportive people. Currently mental illnesses are theories, we know people have clusters of specific symptoms, but we really don’t totally know WHY. There isn’t a test one can do and underlying issues are never investigated. The most likely causes of mental illness symptomology involve trauma or abuse of one kind or another. Social factors like racism, homophobia, and poverty have far more impact on mental health than mere genes. Even beyond that, mental illness is more often a judgement call. I can easily say someone is crazy because they act or think in ways different from myself, but psychiatrists have the legal and medical pull to make that person’s life a living hell. And the cures are often worse than the initial issues.

How would reducing someones life to rote domestic duties cure their depression? It doesn’t, it made Gilman crazier, and the only way she got out was to buck doctors orders and have an intellectual life again. The only way I started feeling more human and in control was to kick Olanzapine. I am beginning to suspect that psychiatry is designed to create mental distress in patients rather than allieviate it. So many alternatives have been shown to be superior to the current medical model (the Quakers had it going on!), and yet we’re still using the psychiatric model born out of Nazism (the heavy neuroleptics have their basis in Nazi experimentation) which we already know compounds mental health issues.

Either way, I am still researching the way out of the system. It’s tricky. I’m just sick of the Yellow Ward and the Yellow Wallpaper and all the Yellow Pills.

You’re going to help me, bitch!

I’ve been trying to commit this year’s 4th Anniversary of the Psych Ward to personal reflection and growth and I’ve noticed that some major issues have been presenting themselves which I was totally not expecting. One thing I wanted to really work on is the repeated rape attempts I endured in the hospital, but in a larger scope I am recognizing that it wasn’t this one element which negatively impacted me for so long. It was the whole concept of the hospital itself and of contemporary psychiatric treatment. Of COURSE I wouldn’t be protected from a rapist in the hospital, for one thing I was “crazy” so nothing I said mattered, even when I went to the nurses station for medical attention because of 1st degree burns. Of COURSE these things would happen because being raped would not be worse than being allowed to be “crazy” and unmedicated. Of COURSE I wouldn’t have input into my own treatment, because I am “crazy” and therefore intellectually diminished.

It’s not just about how I could have been raped (for the second time), or that I’ve been on brain damaging drugs, or that people still watch horror movies with crazy antagonists, or that whenever my mother talks about someone she doesn’t like she says they’re bipolar. It all really comes down to this essential idea of human rights. And not just human rights, but the fact that even among human rights activists there is still this idea of forming a hierarchy of whose human rights are worth MORE than other’s human rights. I had a huge blow out fight with my mom earlier today about Dr. Dickwad and having my right to proper health care violated. She was trying to assert that racism was a more damaging form of discrimination than crazyphobia. I blew up. KA-BOOM!! There is no human rights violation that is more or less important than another. Sexism does not outweigh transphobia. Racism does not outweigh crazyphobia. Homophobia is not more important than racism. They are all equally important. Anytime someone’s human rights are infringed there is a problem, and everyone’s liberation is tied in with that. The concept of a human rights hierarchy is just a fall back to the original hierarchy which created all the hateful isms in the first place. We can’t say “Okay, let’s deal with this one thing and then after we win equality on that basis we’ll deal with your little oppression over here.”

As someone with multiple identities which are oppressed, I don’t value or fight for one more than the others. However, I currently am very invested in disability rights because legally I am on shaky ground in terms of rights. While I am included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I can still be subjected to CTO’s, and I still could have been sent to the ward yesterday because a doctor seeing me for five minutes assumed I was actively batty. Legally, I don’t have a lot of protection. Even emancipating myself from the psychiatric industry is going to be a long hard struggle and I could always be thrown back in the bin if my mom thinks I’m too emotional or back talking. Legally I am a 28 year old adult woman. But in Dr. Dickwad’s eyes I am a “young girl.”

Psychiatric labels aren’t only used for people with genuine neurological problems. They are also used to crush dissent. Step out of line, be defiant, demand equality, stray from a medical definition of normalcy, be poor, and you too could be in the ward. If you get angry about your treatment, it’s because you’re crazy. If you cry because you’re being abused, you’re crazy. If you demand to see a lawyer, you’re crazy. If you try to keep from showing emotions, you have “flat affect” and you’re crazy. If you ask for a second opinion or alternative treatments or try to be a pro-active health consumer, you’re crazy. There is no way out of the ward except to acquiese to doctor’s orders and judgements, to be docile and compliant and take the meds and agree that you have a serious illness which now puts you in a second class citizenship. If my mom was irritated with me, she could easily call the cops and have them haul me to the bin at any given moment. I know this.

So, I am tired of being at the mercy of the medical establishment. I am tired of the ball and chain medical file which follows me around. I want out, for good. I don’t want to see one more psychiatrist. I don’t want to try one more new miracle wonderkind drug. I don’t want some creepy chemicals with no long term studies mucking around with my brain. How many psych industry inmates commit suicide just to get AWAY from it? I’m tempted to myself.

Although to be honest I would probably run away and change my identity before I did that.

The thing is, I have a brain that works really well. I don’t talk in front of people super well, but I am a pretty good thinker and I have that kind of burning passion that’s useful in creating change. I can’t snuff it because I know I can be awfully useful.

So, this is the year where I am going to apply for every single thing I possibly can. Already the Canadian Film Centre has my application for the FFP. Outfest has a deadline coming up. Canada Council and Sask Arts Grant deadlines are coming up in a couple of months. And the beginning of March is the deadline for the Critical Disability Studies MA at York. There’s a program in New Zealand for a month long writer’s retreat. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. But I think if I just keep going, keep applying, keep making films, something will come out of it. My ideal life would be to write critical theory, be active in the Psychiatric Survivors Movement, and make short and feature films. That’s all I really want. I don’t even care about the girlfriend thing or having a family or being fabulously rich or winning a major award. I just want to have a home, food, clothing, my support animals, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees, and the resources to live full time doing the above three things. And by the time I die, hopefully at a very old age, I just want the world to be better because I was here.

Next week I am seeing a psychic and hopefully she can give me some advice or guidance on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I really don’t know if I’ll stay in Saskatoon now. Toronto has a horrid psych industry, but it’s also the epicentre of the Mad Movement in Canada, and it has a really diverse population otherwise, along with a film and video community. Sure, maybe the apocalypse will happen and I’ll be stuck in T.O. and the CN tower will fall, but maybe that’s just where I’m supposed to be. Who knows? Maybe I won’t end up in Toronto. Maybe I’ll go for the MA program and then move back here. I really don’t know.

Really, I just want to have the freedom to be ornery, happy, sad, super in love, crabby, angry, and all those other emotions which people outside of the psych industry take for granted. I have a right to have emotions.

Who Ate The Pube Cake?

Tomorrow the show opens. I have to dress clean and beautiful and stand around making small talk. The media are going to preview the show at 11am, I don’t know if I will drop by for it or not. I do alright talking to the media. I’m excited to see my friend Rebecca though, and my friend Archer is coming in at the end of the month too. Another person from the Grunt millieu. He’s hilarious. Once when Lynn and I were walking around in the hood we found him intently tinkering with his NDN car installing the most whack sound system I’ve ever seen. It was very Powwow Highway. I don’t remember if it was the Toasted Marshmallow, maybe he had gotten a new car by then. One halloween someone set the car in front of his on fire and so the whole front of his white car had a scorched distressed look to it. Hence the Toasted Marshmallow moniker.

One time my friend and I were getting a ride in Marie Baker’s fifth-hand station wagon and while she was trying to show off her new wheels she sped down 7th Ave and a hubcap flew off in a grand jeté.

PUBE STORIES!

Marie Baker reminded me of these. The first is her story. Shawna Dempsey used to do this performance where she masturbated with a chocolate cake and one time Marie Baker happened upon the stage just afterwards, NOT having seen the performance. She saw all this crumbled cake on the ground so she ate some of it because it looked perfectly fine (if you knew Marie Baker you would understand why she’d do this). When I told her where it came from she said “You mean I ate of her bush!?”

This is not the only pube-cake eating story involving performance art though.

During Art’s Birthday at the Western Front, Margaret Dragu did a web based performance that involved me holding a slice of cake while she cut off her pubic hair and sprinkled it on the cake then kissed me.

Well what do you do with a pube sprinkled cake? I put it on a plinth and then later at a function in the same space, cake was being served. My friend Lynn and I watched that Dragu Pube Cake and sure enough, by the end of the night there was a plate with scrapings of crumbs. Who ate the Pube Cake? It’s the eternal question. I told Margaret about it later, I think she got a kick out of it.

SPEAKING of cake, my friends Cindy and Megan told us all about Annie Sprinkle’s wedding over in Calgary this past Sunday. They were in charge of making a three tiered cake, which had four breasts on the top. Megan promises to put it on Flickr soon. Apparently it was mucho fun, and they got to help the blushing brides get their outfits on. So jealous.

I think if you get married you either have to be COMPLETELY over the top, or you have to do a quiet lets-run-to-the-courthouse kind of a thing. Or maybe that is just me. I like extremes.

All I know is, if I do have a wedding cake I’m going to make pubes out of icing and put them all over it. Or maybe delicate marzipan pubes, or sugar glass pubes.

OMG! OMG! OMG!

I keep trolling around for the next degree program that interests me. I’m terribly keen on getting a PhD in The History of Consciousness at UCSC, but I hesitate spending that many years in the States right now. I don’t want to do an MFA because I more interested in expanding my academic knowledge beyond artistic practice.

And then this shit happened at ER and while scoping out disability law I came across a masters program at York University in Critical Disability Studies. Holy shit, oh my god, that would be so awesome! I am practically jizzing my pants reading the program brochure.

Anyway, I have a doctors appointment, with my REGULAR doctor, in half an hour so I should dash. And I have to drop by my old alternative medicine doctor’s office and make an appointment so he can give me snake venom or something to get rid of this rash.

Death of a Psych Hospital

Some inspirational Youtube-ing.

Inside Edgewood (after being abandoned for 16 years). Kind of a goofy clip but at least it shows you the interior of a psych institute complete with barred windows.

Edgewood State Hospital’s demise.

MOTHERFUCK!

Okay, officially City hospital in Saskatoon is completely discriminatory towards persons with mental illnesses. I waited for hours in ER to see someone after fighting with an admitting nurse about why I was there because of a rash. Then I finally get in to see the doctor, Dr. Clifford T. Chase, who as soon as he found out I had bipolar disorder started talking down to me like I was an idiot. He seemed more interested in pontificating on bipolar disorder and telling me what it was than inquiring about my rash and the additional symptoms I would be presenting with. When I told him I was there specifically because Lamictal comes with a black box warning about fatal rashes he just dismissed me as someone “reading things on the internet.” Uh, no, that’s in the side effect profile that comes with the goddamn medication and fatal skin rashes with Lamictal are very well documented. He made some very general assumptions, like assuming I was manic for four years. He interrogated me on my psych history which was not the issue whatsoever, and then instead of giving me specific injections I may need to keep this from going into Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome and making sure I had blood levels checked for a week, he gave me a referral to a psychiatrist.

WHAT. THE. FUCK!?

And the sad thing is I KNEW this was going to happen, I so knew it. As soon as I said bipolar I wasn’t a person anymore, I was just some silly crazy person who was upset over a little rash. He didn’t say anything like “No, that doesn’t look like Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome, you’ll be fine.” He gave me a fucking psych referral and some fucking benadryl. And he never even let me talk really, he just carried on feeling all smug and superior because he has a bipolar son so he knows all about nutters. Fucking ass. Anyway, on the epileptic message board I posted on where they told me to go to ER, someone said to make a complaint with administration. So I will.

What the fuck is wrong with front line health workers? And what the hell is wrong with doctors? I wonder if I should file a human rights complaint. At the very least I will say publicly here and now that Dr. Chase should not be practicing medicine if he can’t put aside his prejudices and actually listen to his patient’s concerns.

By the way, Steven-Johnson’s syndrome starts out as a rash which then blisters and causes large pieces of skin to literally fall off of your body. It’s fatal because then infections develop, and people with it often have to spend a month in the hospital in the most sterile place they have while also getting skin grafts. It is VERY serious and I’m sick of goddamn front line health workers not even knowing what a black box warning means. So tomorrow I will see my regular doctor, hopefully, and I will tell her what happened to me at City. And I will chew out City admin, and hopefully they won’t also be discriminatory.

I’m also making an appointment with an old doctor I used to see long ago who practices alternative medicine. He’s REALLY good, and hopefully he can give me something to get rid of this rash and also help me find an alternative to drugs.

I almost thought he was going to send me to the bin, he had that sickening smile that means “you need a psych evaluation.” Motherfucker. I hope he loses his license.