Statement of Solidarity

To all the other Little Voices:

We are waking up to the abuses of our environment,

We have been told we are bad and crazy,

and we are obedient.

We have acted bad and crazy.

We have screamed to get our voices heard

and we are labelled manic.

We have been disbelieved,

and we are labelled distrusting.

We have learned from infancy that safety is arbitrary,

and we are called paranoid.

We have anticipated punishment and deferred to pretenses,

and we have been punished for being manipulative.

We must fragment ourselves to integrate multiple realities,

and this process is called psychosis.

What do labels mean to you?

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Trauma – Thoughts of Revenge #1

I survived the mental health system.

I have been verbally/physically abused by nurses, therapists, ER personnel, psych techs, and obviously psychiatrists. A lot of people have been, but they keep quiet about it. The repercussions of trying to tell a mental health professional that abuse occurs within the psychiatric system are monstrous. I have endured a decade of systematic torture. As a result, I’ve developed the symptoms of PTSD, for which I could never afford therapy. Instead, I process things by writing about them.

Revenge? Or Rebellion?

Feelings of revenge are a natural response to trauma. In a study of 96 individuals with PTSD, the severity and repetition of traumatic thoughts surrounding the traumatic event predicted the severity and repetition of thoughts of revenge. Intrusive thoughts were a better predictor than perception of the perpetrator’s being punished for their actions. (Kunst, 2011).

In other words, it might not matter if the abuser is brought to justice; I’ll still be thinking about getting revenge. Should that keep me from fighting this fight? I think many civil rights movements have begun with trauma, and thoughts of bringing the perpetrators of abuse to justice.

Thoughts of revenge have triggers. I take refuge in learning more about my actual conditions: Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy and PTSD as opposed to the diagnoses that have been thrown at me over the years to make me go away: Bipolar Disorder, mania with psychosis, ADD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Dystonic reaction to medications, Borderline Personality Disorder, and of course attention-seeking. Learning the truth, while self-healing and constructive, is triggering. I feel rageful, indignant, hopeless, and empty (uncared for).

Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect compensation for what I’ve been though. But people spill coffee in their own laps and get to sue McDonald’s for it.

Letter sent to a medical malpractice attorney:

I think I have a case for malpractice/medical error with Poudre Valley Health’s ER dept.

I have a history of “mental illness” which has been recently identified as being neurological in origin; i.e. I have Myoclonic Epilepsy. I presented frequently at the ER feeling “confused, shaky, and anxious,” and was even taken to the ER by ambulance for “acute dystonia,” and presented often with suspected Autism. Epilepsy was not suspected and I was treated for “psychiatric” conditions.

When released, I had a seizure while driving and got into a very serious car accident, of which I have no memory. I was given another psychiatric evaluation at the ER and taken to a behavioral unit. Although my car was totaled and I face litigation for the property/bodily injury incurred from this accident, PVH ER records indicate the MVA as “minor with minimal damage to vehicles and no injuries.” I was also convicted of reckless driving.

Is this a case for medical error due to mis-diagnosis?

Could be.

Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

Diagnosis
Delays in diagnosis are common, often until a generalized tonic-clonic seizure brings the child to medical attention. Ignoring the myoclonic jerks is commonplace. Suspect JME in any adolescent driver involved in a motor vehicle accident when the driver has no memory of the event, but did not sustain a head injury.

Clinical Pediatric Neurology: A Signs and Symptoms Approach (2009) by Gerald M. Fenichel

Imagine if we had a voice; What would we say?

Stuff my Mom Says

She’s narcissistic.

And the children of narcissists often feel empty inside. To me, that emptiness is a conditioned expectation of disappointment. When you allow yourself to vulnerable, it’s natural to expect compassion. You get your hopes UP! And they have a loooong way to tumble back down as Mom turns away and ferociously cleans (dismantles) the oven. Too many times we’ve expected compassion, empathy, or validation and been let down. The repercussions of this extend into our adult life; we just cage ourselves up after a while.

Vulnerability is something to extend to people you trust, AND we are supposed to trust our parents, right?

vulnerability

Personality Disorder Mom’s responses to my most vulnerable moments over the years:

When I told my mom I was:

Not doing well in 4th grade: We’ll put you in a Christian school where the teachers can ACTUALLY beat you.
Not doing well in 5th grade: SHOW ME THE BRUISES!
(No, but really, she’s abusing us): don’t get ugly with me!

duckling

Not into Jesus: I just can’t let you leave this room until you can convince me that you’re not going to Hell!
*Jesus bonus!*: All my friends at Bible study told me that it’s not you, it’s just Satan.. acting through you.
Threatened by a harem of Mexican middle schoolers: Well if you leave school early, I’ll call the police and they’ll take you to JAIL.
Sad-walking alone at night: I just know you’re having SEX! With BOYS! (I was thirteen)
Lesbian: I just know you’re going to get tortured and killed like that poor boy in Wyoming! 
Breaking up:
I thought you two were going to be together forever!
…..except she said it like this:

We are a co-dependent family! Now depend!

sick for several weeks in college: well then, why are you wasting all your time on the phone telling me about it? You should be doing homework!
nervous about adulthood: how can you expect ME to tell the future?
epileptic: (…) oh right she doesn’t answer the phone since I found that out
angry about being abused at school: you were a difficult child!

We don’t have to stay in that cage. We can look at the walls and decide as adults where they should be.

She’s not crazy either! Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I am SCARY (and I like it)

It’s been an exhausting night, but at least I got to say cool gay-rights stuff like, “Oh, so it’s because we’re not married, isn’t it?” and “I’m her emergency contact, and we have rights!” Since the recent supreme court decision, saying stuff like that actually gets you somewhere in the medical and mental health system. They tried to brush me off a few times, denying she was in their ER. My partner was definitely there, definitely not getting the attention she needed and generally being misunderstood by the entire staff.

Loonies, UNITE!

I said my scary bull-dyke stuff, and they relented and admitted they’d admitted her. The in-charge nurse RELUCTANTLY passed my number on to the staff psychiatrist who evaluated Jane, and he called me around midnight last night. Thank the sweet baby Jesus!

“Her father said she’s been prescribed some medication, and she’s not taking it, is that correct?” He asked me.
Wake up, Vico. Wake up and use your mouth-words.

“Well,” I said, “I’m not really sure what medications she’s supposed to be taking. Her mother and step-father fancy themselves her in-home psychiatrists and entrap her in their home and force her to take a pretty wide variety of pills. I don’t know what she should really be on.”

“Hmm,” said the good Jewish doctor from the Bay Area, “Well, the reason I ask is because her behaviors are indicative of Bipolar Disor-”

“She doesn’t have that.” I interrupted. You see, I’ve been clinically diagnosed (by my partner’s 17 year old little brother) as a “know-it-all” and it seems I just can’t stop compulsively knowing things. It’s very damaging to my relationship with my partner’s parents, whom I will refer to as “Borderline-Personality-Mom (BP Mom) and “Creepy-StepDad-Who-Has-a-Gun”(CreepyGunDad).

“She has Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” I explained.

The good doctor wasn’t bitter about being interrupted by the crazy girlfriend, which earned him 5,000,000 super-duper gold star happy points.

“Hmm,” he said, “and why do you think that?”

“Oh just her behavior,” I tried to make my answer sound like it was coming from a source other than my compulsively knowing-things-about-things habit. On the strong chance that he had never heard of Complex PTSD, I wanted to validate the good doctor so he didn’t get his little psychiatric feelings hurt and take out his own incompetence on my partner.

“I understand why you may think she’s manic. But she never has hallucinations, never hears voices. She takes risks, and I think that’s the behavior in question here – she absolutely drives recklessly.”

“Yes, and that’s what we’re concerned about,” said the good doctor.

“Yes, you should be. But the reckless driving isn’t just poor impulse control. She takes risks in order to put herself in a dangerous situation; she recreates the environment of her trauma to re-live it, and to to get a chance to change the outcome.” At this point I heard a loud “BING” sound as the lightbulb over the good doctor’s head suddenly ILLUMINATED!

“Do you know what kind of trauma?” asked the good doctor. Which is good, because that information falls outside of the realm of things generated by my unfortunate and clearly mentally ill mind.

“Yeah, I do,” I told him, and I explained that, despite her chronic psychiatric hospitalizations over the past two years, she has never been asked about her trauma or given any chance to speak about it. I only gave him the details of the formative abuse, i.e. the abuse that occurred in the first five years of her life. The list includes emotional, physical and sexual abuse; long-term and repeated entrapment and imprisonment and torture; slavery and enforced labor; long term objectification; and long-term exposure to crisis.

“Wow. That sounds……that sounds awful,” said the good doctor. And the angry little knot with Jane’s name on it that lives in my solar plexus melted just a tiny bit. I explained to the good doctor that Jane would never co-operate with her parents since they are both “part of the whole PTSD thing.”

“Her mother took her to a child psychologist when she was five, who apparently said Jane was doing fine and that they should never talk about it ever again,” I told him.

“What the hell kind of psychologist is that?” the good doctor politely inquired.

“I don’t know, some shitty therapist in Martinez in the 90’s,” I answered, “Please excuse my language.”

The good doctor agreed with me, and I went on to elaborate about BP Mom and CreepyGunDad’s habit of sweeping things under the rug. Without coming across as completely accusatory (which I am) I tried to gently elucidate their tendencies toward chronic accusations, scapegoating, and gaslighting with poor Jane. “That just sounds horrible,” the good doctor responded, and my Jane-knot gradually untwisted to my great relief. I’m sorry, society, but knowing-it-all just feels so good sometimes. I hadn’t even mentioned BP Mom’s chronic physical battle with [horrible degenerative illness retracted to protect the identity of those involved], and CreepyGun Dad’s habit of convincing BP Mom that all her hospital visits could be avoided if Jane would just stop “stressing everybody out.”

The good hospital with the good nurse-in-charge and the good doctor and the good people had no psychiatric beds for the night. She’s been transferred to a different psychiatric hospital. I’m interested in how this will all play out, since the psychiatric system depends on the isolation of their victim to support their pathological abuse and blaming.

The connection between Jane and I is too strong for them to sever, and besides, I’m a Gemini (a lesbian Gemini).

So, Psychiatry, we meet again.
Only this time I’m not trapped in your torture-machine.
We can do this this easy way or the hard way. My only advice is…don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.

feh-muh-nist

Hothead Paisan by Diane DiMassa