Meaningless Suffering

Things are . . . weird. I was hoping to god I would get off medication, go back to being me, and voila! Find myself happily at Secondary Integration and just be whoever the hell I am. Now I see I’m still in directed multilevel disintegration, which is, I dunno. No, it’s good, it’s just still pretty intense. I feel like my process has been held back four years. I know I have accomplished some things, but there’s still, I don’t know, SOMETHING. I’m still kind of afraid of leaving certain things behind, although I’m at the point of no return on that one. I didn’t realize how fucked up I would feel about the misdiagnosis thing. I mean, on one hand I’m really happy to figure out what the hell is actually the deal with me, but on the other hand it makes things very different, it means trying to find meaning in some pretty horrific stuff that happened because I was a psych patient.

Maher Arar is coming to Saskatoon in April to give a talk on Civil Liberties, I want to go see it. I wonder how he’s doing, what his healing process is looking like. And how does someone make meaning out of injustice? I don’t know.

I think I did find some meaning in all the shit I endured, but it got to the point where sticking with that diagnosis was quite literally going to kill me, even though I already felt kind of dead. And not “oh I’m crazy and broken” dead, more like medicated dead, take your pills, don’t rock the boat, all those terrible side effects are natural and you should just accept them.

The side effects were terrible. In fact, while my emotions feel intense again, it’s still thousands times better than being on medication. A lot of stuff which I had assumed was part and parcel of who I was turned out to have been med related, and I have no idea how to deal with that. I don’t hear things, don’t have seizures, I’m not shaking, I don’t get pounding sharp headaches, my body isn’t getting electrical zaps, my memory is pretty fuckin’ awesome again. I don’t know, I don’t know how to deal with the fact that I got majorly screwed over by the psych industry. And I don’t like being placed in a different category than my friends, in some ways I really miss the disabled label, as strange as that may sound. I spent so much time learning about bipolar disorder and struggling for the rights of other people with bipolar and now the diagnosis is wrong. How do I, arg! I hate that suddenly I’m a martyr, and I hate that suddenly people can say “Well psych wards were bad for you, because you were misdiagnosed, but they are fine for everyone else.” No! That’s not the message. I hate that suddenly positive disintegration is natural for me, but for other people it is still a mental disturbance. What the fuck?? That makes no sense at all.

The thing is in a lot of ways nothing has changed, my history is the same, I still experienced a psychotic episode, and I still have inner turmoil. And I’m still scared. I’m scared of people who don’t understand, or who kind of smirk when they find out I was in a bin. I’m scared people will start saying fucked up shit about crazy people to me because I’m not one of THOSE people anymore. Fuck. And even worse, I’m scared people will be so oblivious to what intelligence looks and sounds like that I’ll find myself in four point restraints again being given medication that eradicates my higher brain functioning and being forced to say thank you.

And the thing is, I understand pretty much all the people I knew in the psych ward. I didn’t see sickness, just a process they seemed to be undergoing. But once you get in that system, there is an idea of chronic “sickness.” Even if you do recover it’s just called remission, and it’s assumed it will always come back. I was always kind of suspicious of the diagnoses, but now I’m seeing that it’s a really limited way of looking at someone’s life. I know a lot of my friends in the psych system have histories of abuse, but it’s like people would rather give a pill to make those things go away than to help someone work through it. I have a friend who went to the ward because of rape trauma and she was specifically told not to seek counselling to deal with it. That happens a lot more than we would think.

I remember watching Jane Campion’s An Angel At My Table and when Janet Frame escapes lobotomy only after winning a major literary award, I felt kind of confused. I mean, she gets this letter that’s basically like “Sorry for the ECT, turns out you’re not schizophrenic,” and I always wondered how the hell she dealt with that. How do you create meaning out of torture and misunderstanding? And then, I can’t turn my back on all the other people I know who are being tortured. We still live in the dark ages.

The saddest thing is that through these four years of being a psych patient and doing research, I’ve discovered that not only is there no proof that brain chemicals have anything to do with what’s called mental illness, but the medications actually cause brain damage, and not only that but there have been various alternative treatment options that are proven to WORK, often far better than what’s being offered now, but they aren’t being offered because they don’t amass profit. And now family based lobby groups are advocating for all kinds of mental health “screening” so that people can be “treated.” Teen Screen down in the states would be one of them, and it is FUCKED UP. Basically teenagers, who are all fucked up just because that’s what happens in adolescence, fill in a questionnaire and then are “assessed” based on their answers.

I’m really sad. I missed out on four years of my life because I was all drugged up with antipsychotics and antimanic medication. How the fuck to I give that any meaning? And where the hell do I go from here?

I currently have a pet theory on what I call Atomic Thinking and Subatomic Thinking. It needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but it deals with Atomic Level thinking, or what we see in the usual world according to classical physics. And then there’s Subatomic Level thinking, which is more concerned with the unseen, the reality underlying this one where the laws of physics completely changes. I think in psychiatry we’ve applied Atomic level thinking to Subatomic level crises. R.D. Laing talked once about a patient who told him she was Switzerland, and instead of acting like she was spewing rubbish he gave it some serious thought, considered the military/political state of Switzerland, and realized she was essentially saying “I am freedom.” Or basically, a desire for freedom. And I think he was right. People need to learn to be more creative in thinking about what crazy people are saying. It makes sense if you think about what people say, if you’re open to the fact that there are leaps in thinking patterns but that they are not random.

And then of course I still have personal issues I’m working through, and that is hard. I have an easier time being victimized than standing up for myself, and I don’t know if that’s because I was taught to think that way or if that’s really the way I am. I’m so confused.

Lots to think about. Lots to cry about.

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