Archive for the Random Mental Health Related Philosophising Category

Reflections on 2009

Posted in C, Everyday Life, Moods, psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Random, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 31 December, 2009 by Pandora

Wasn’t it 1992 that the Queen said was her annus horribilis?  Well, let’s fast forward 17 years to now, New Year’s Eve, 2009. This year has turned out to be the annus horribilis of your humble narrator – mostly. I’ve been on the brink of sectioning on a number of occasions, the brink of suicide on others, I’ve developed serious psychoses, I’ve been twatted by the system and I lost my job.  Yet, there are a few glimmers of non-shit somewhere in there.

To that end, here, for your dubious delectation, is the good, the bad and the ugly (well, the bad and good anyway) of the last 12 months in the world of this PsychoFreakBitch…

THE BAD

Being Mental

Perhaps rather obvious, but yeah, being mental hasn’t been a great deal of fun.  I know I’ve argued that if I could flick that figurative switch to the sanity setting I wouldn’t do so, and I still hold to that, but nevertheless, the panics, depressions, mixed states, psychoses and frantic states are not exactly things that I enjoy.

As you know, faithful, darling readers, I have been mental for many years – my first diagnosis was in 1998, but in reality I did have some manifestations of madness well before that juncture.  However, 2009 was by far the worst year for it, as I think most of those close to me would attest.  The dysphorias, the exceptional levels of anxiety and the psychoses, all having existed before, have been exacerbated so considerably during the last 12 months.  I’m not sure why; maybe it is the intensity of psychotherapy, maybe it’s medication, maybe it’s simply the ‘proper’ development of BPD and/or bipolar disorder, given as they tend to manifest most strongly in one’s 20s, maybe it’s another psychiatric illness altogether.  Maybe it’s nothing more than coincidence.  Either way, it is.

Specific Issues on Mentalism

–> Psychoses

Tom was alright, but ‘They’ have been a hideous bloody curse.  Even with the anti-psychotic, ‘They’ are almost ever-present, though their severity was mostly reduced with said medication.  The worst manifestations of ‘They’ were when they tried to get me to kill myself and, worse again, when they wanted me to kill MW on Christmas Day.

Of course, the psychotic symptoms were not limited to hearing voices.  The shapes continued amok throughout 2009, though in retrospect I think I can say that I maybe noticed some abatement of their severity when I started taking Olanzapine.  However, I also developed new hallucinations, such as music, knocking and whimpering.  And I hallucinated my erstwhile stalker once.  Fuckin’ A.

Oh, and let’s not forget the delusions – A was in collusion with GCHQ, the sun and signs were watching and/or communicating with me, ‘They’ steal the thoughts from my mind, my cousin ScumFan was a drug dealer, A was not A but A’s sister, yadda yadda.

–> Dissociation

This has been pretty fucking annoying and at times highly disturbing.  There have been a number of times that I have found myself in dissociative fugue states – being in random places some distance from home, having no idea how or why I got there.  I need not explain the potential implications of these (admittedly relatively minor) fugues to my readership.

Of course, it does not take a fugue to make a dissociative episode.  Despite my ability to write 3,000 or more words on my sessions with C, my psychotherapist, it is not infrequent for me to dissociate parts of these meetings, particularly (unsurprisingly) when we are tackling something difficult together.  Several of the fugues have been in the wake of sessions with C.

I’ve also found myself in amnesiac states during or after arguments or highly stressful events, and of course I have the standard BPD features of depersonalisation and derealisation – forms of dissociation, I believe – on a frequent basis.

Although I’ve experienced depersonalisation and derealisation for years, I’ve only knowingly experienced full dissociative episodes – ie. proper periods of amnesia, losing time – in the last year.  Well…maybe it began in 2008, but it would mostly have been in 2009.

However, I only remember the rape and other parts of the sexual abuse in flashbacks, for example, and in discussion with C we have found that I have many ‘symptoms’ characteristic of someone who dissociated something traumatic in childhood.  The suggestion has been that, given the strength and quantity of these symptoms, there may be more than I don’t consciously remember.  I hate the idea for its own sake, obviously, but I hate it even more by virtue of the fact that it is not recalled (if indeed it did happen); it leaves me with a distinct lack of control over how I now react to triggers.  Perhaps that can be addressed in therapy over time (if therapy even fucking continues over time).

–>  Self-Harm

Is self-harm even bad?  Sometimes I really do wonder.  As a way to cope, it works.  As a way to fascinate (by virtue of watching the beautiful krovvy), it works.  As a way to seek absolution, it works (albeit temporarily).

Still, it serves as a permanent record of a very horrible year of my life, and I suppose in that way it could be considered a bad thing.  It’s something that, as of this writing, I feel quite nonchalantly about, but who’s to say in 10 years or something, I won’t look at my scars and feel triggered back into mentalism from which I may have found some relief?

I’m classing this as a bad thing of this year because, prior to 2009, I hadn’t engaged in any serious self-harm for years.  2009 saw it return on a relatively frequent basis.

Losing My Job

In reality, I was nowhere near as upset about this as I should have been, but one thing I really do detest is being in the hateful position of being dependent on the state for my living.  I had always dreamed of a career (not just a job) and the opportunity to use my intellect in a meaningful fashion.  I did not want to end up being a dolescum, and this is still something that I am hoping to change in seeking treatment for my madness.

So I suppose that is the worst part of losing my job; I now am officially everything that I never wanted to be in my adult life.  It’s also awkward from the perspective of my developing my career; having to explain a gap in employment of whatever length and an incapability dismissal will not be a lot of fun.

Trouble with the NHS

It all started with all the trouble with getting an appointment with, and then sustaining appointments with, the VCB.  Then C waded into the quagmire with his ‘I can only offer you 24 more sessions’ bullshit.  As you know, of course, I am fighting this.

Then there was Dr Arsehole just before Christmas (about whom I will write in the next ‘C’ installment), and the latest is that I have an appointment with Psychiatry on 20 January (more than a month after I was meant to have my most recent review appointment)…but not with VCB!  No, readers, apparently I am seeing ‘Dr M’.  What in the fuck..?  I might not like VCB, but at least I had got to know her to some extent.  But now they’re fucking me about again.  Arsecunt.

Christmas

It was fucking God-awful dreadful.  Enough said.

C

Not C himself; of course I don’t know the man in any realistic way, but my sense of him is positive.  OK, he does wind me up sometimes, and it is not at all unknown for him to actually anger me, but generally I am very fond of the man, regardless of whether or not that is simply a case of transference.  However, psychotherapy is not a fun process.  It’s not fun at all.  In fact, I believe firmly that it has made me more mental than I already was.

It therefore seems ridiculous to continue with it, but there’s method in the madness…

THE GOOD

C

‘Him again?  You just said he was a bad thing in this year!’

Yeah, I did, but he’s also been one of the most fabulous things.  Aside from my absolutely obsessive attachment to him, which I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have were I not very fond of him in a non-transferential sense, I believe the therapy is good for me, and is working.  Yes, it has made me more mental, but I believe this is a temporary state.

In being forced to (re)live some of the most horrible things about my past and, to a lesser extent, my present and potential future, it seems inevitable to me that my conditions would be exacerbated.  I had to get worse before I get better.  That was what I expected well before I commenced therapy with C, and that is still my belief.

Additionally, and this is probably related to the transference issues, C is the only person to whom I will talk completely openly.  For a long time, I would literally discuss many (not all) things with him, but it is only in the last couple of months that I really have stopped abstracting things.  I’ve now let my guard down and allow myself to be vulnerable around him, and I trust him.  That kind of relationship, however strangely asymmetrical, is a big achievement for me, and I think if it is allowed to continue as it should that it will pay dividends in terms of my mental health.

Diagnoses

Some people hate them.  There are a number of other mental health bloggers for whom I have the utmost respect that consider diagnoses ‘diagnonsense’.  I do get where they’re coming from, but I am grateful for mine.

It helps me to be able to attribute certain symptoms to an actual illness.  Now I’m not saying I use the conditions as excuses, but they do explain some erratic and bizarre behaviour, and I find that rather comforting.  Furthermore, in saying I have certain illnesses, it makes my range of symptoms part of something, rather than just a nebulous bunch of ‘things’; quantifying it in this way makes it seem more real, I am convinced, to others.  Just throwing the term ‘depression’ out makes it sound like a cop-out (NB. please note that this is not my view of real depression at all – I just think that some people, ignorant of mental health issues, view the word this way.  They believe that “I have depression” equals “I’m depressed,”, which of course those of us who have been there know to be a fallacy).

One further positive I’d add about the diagnoses is that they have enabled me to connect with others that have the same (or similar) disorders.  I will be eternally grateful for that, and for the support and kinship those individuals have given me (see more on this below).

Turkey

Our holiday to Turkey back in September was probably the happiest time of this year.  As I wrote at the time, I felt entirely contented throughout our stay, and indeed we enjoyed it so much that we are returning to a resort close to the one from 2009 again in May 2010.  I will never forget the crystal clear waters, the warmth of the locals and the sheer relaxation of lying about in secluded coves.  Whilst reading Social Factors in the Personality Disorders: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Etiology and Treatment, of course.  I mean, obviously!!!

This Blog

I will always be thankful that I started writing this blog, and indeed that I kept writing this blog.  My initial hope was that it might help me to identify triggers, but to be honest in that regard it hasn’t been as successful as I might have liked.  It has, however, given me a focus – writing is an activity that, despite the sometime difficulty of it, is something that I enjoy, and can direct my energy towards.  It also serves as a chronicle of what has been an extremely difficult period in my life, but one that is also likely to be a highly formative one too, if I don’t end up offing myself.  I’ve found it fascinating to rediscover diaries I kept in the past, and no doubt I shall find the same with this – though I hope that I will still be maintaining this journal well into the future.

I’ve been ever so grateful for the wonderful feedback I’ve been given on this blog too.  Some people find my writing style engaging, which is a huge compliment; others find solace in the fact that they are not alone, as what I’ve written correlates with their experiences and/or feelings; yet others seem to be grateful to learn directly what everyday life, therapy or whatever with my various diagnoses is like.

On a similar note, the blog has enabled me to meet so many people with whom I have found affinity.

Twitter

By far the best thing I have done this year was join Twitter (I’ve met many brilliant people through the account allied to this blog, but even more again through my ‘main’, slightly less anonymous, account).  I have met so many wonderful people – both mentals and non-mentals – through this service that I could not possibly thank them all here, much as I’d like to.  The support, friendship, empathy and, frankly, in some cases love that I have been shown has been a source of immeasurable help, more than the personnel concerned will ever know.

–>  Thank Yous – Twitter

CVM*
K*
@bourach
@woundedgenius / @behindthecouch
@notbovvered
@fromthesamesky
@error505
@an_other
@kimshannon
@helentaustin
@benpolar

* Both of whom I now consider ‘real life’ friends – I have met K and communicate with her most days; I haven’t met CVM, but again communicate with her most days and certainly will meet her when finances and circumstances allow the travel.  I love them both.

The above is far from an exhaustive list, but there are others that I cannot mention to protect either their or my anonymity.  Some to whom I am incredibly grateful are not even aware of the fact that I write this blog.  That does not mean I value them less, however.

–> Thank Yous – Blogging Buddies

Some of the above-named individuals of course keep blogs, but they are not people I met originally through this medium.  The following are.  Thank you to:

Alix Rites
Crazy Mermaid
Borderline Case
The Prozac Queen
Pumpkin
Vanessa
NiroZ (no longer blogging, alas)

Again this is not an exhaustive list.

It is my honestly held belief that were it not for the aforementioned individuals – both the Twitter friends and blogging mates – I would either have killed myself or been horribly sectioned this year.  So thank you to all of you listed, to many not listed, and extra special thanks to a select few – I hope you know who you are.

Friends

Of course, real life friends have been of immense value to me this year too.  I haven’t been fortunate enough to see my best friend D an awful lot, but we’ve have corresponded via email and communicated via the hated telephonic device, so of course I am very grateful for his support.  In spite of an acrimonious break-up of a serious relationship, not to mention other problems, D has still been there for me through all of this sorry year, and for that I am significantly in his debt.

B has also been very supportive.  It’s not that we tend to go into great detail about issues of concern, but he’s just there, and that means a lot.  In particular, like D, his ability to provide a metaphorical shoulder to cry on whilst dealing with significant difficulties in his own personal life is testament to his integrity and the strength of his friendship.

AC has also been great; as well as actually giving a shit and supporting me through mental illness, AC has also been there just for those ordinary, everyday things that friends do together – the theatre, lunch, whatever.  I also must hat-tip DL for this too.

Honourable mentions to A’s friends and family too.  Even though they’re (mostly) not conversant with the finer points of my mentalism, they nonetheless have been a source of fun and comfort.

And of course a re-acknowledgement of CVM and K 🙂

A

Saving the best for last.  He’s seen it all, and it all ain’t pretty.  Yet he is still there.  Still loving, still comforting, still supporting, still protecting, still fighting the corner, still providing, still entertaining, still staying sane.

There are no words.  ‘Thank you’ seems so woefully inadequate, but it is all I have.  I just want to make it publically known that I will always owe a debt of gratitude to A for everything he has put up with this year.

AND FINALLY…

This post might lead you to believe that there was more good than bad this year, and I suppose in the most objective of senses that may be true.  This is why something like CBT will never work therapy-wise for me; it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is or is not for a belief – the belief is still held.  The reasons for the belief need to be explored fully and processed.  But I digress.  My point: 2009 was an absolutely fucking shit year, and I will be glad to see the end of it.

But I have hope.  A small glimmer thereof, but a glimmer nonetheless.  Not of a miraculous cure, but of some stability maybe.  With the help of C (I hope) and the love and support of my fabulous friends, both those in the physical world and those online, there might just be a path to stability somewhere down the line.

Happy New Year folks.  If ‘happy’ is ambitious, then at least I wish you peace and something approaching sanity in 2010.

Yours ever

SI x

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Wanking Yourself Sane (or at Least Calmer)

Posted in Psychotherapy, Random, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 1 December, 2009 by Pandora

First Signs are a UK-based charitable organisation devoted to the prevention, or at least the minimisation of, self-harm.  Whilst as regular readers of this blog will know, I don’t really see the big issue with (controlled) self-harm, I can and do admire the work that FS are undertaking.  If nothing else, at least they’re raising awareness on the issue – why people self-harm, that most people who do it aren’t dangerous to normals and so on.

However, as you can see from the title this isn’t a post espousing the worthwhile cause of this user-led charity.  I am writing in response to this supposed distraction technique.  Yes, folks, they are arguing that bringing yourself off is a viable alternative to cutting or burning yourself.  Riiiiight.

I read a lot of articles on psychiatry and psychology, much to the detriment of my Twitter followers (not so much on the account allied to this blog), but I rarely feel the need to respond to them.  However, I just find this article so ridiculous that in this case I felt compelled to do so.

The first thing that struck me about the piece was that FS had devoted the entire thing to masturbation.  I mean, even if you do accept that wanking is a credible alternative to self-harm, it’s not the only distraction technique that exists out there.  When C and I first discussed the stupid DBT bullshit way back in week 12 of our therapy, some of the stuff in the material he gave me was devoted to distracting oneself – and, as it happens, masturbation was mentioned (to which I responded with an ‘LOL’ which I know is really rather puerile)…but the difference was, it was only mentioned in passing, as one technique amongst dozens available.  No 1,300 word article on this topic per se was deemed to be required.

Personally, I think distraction techniques are all bollocks, but that’s not really the point.  The point is, to what extent is masturbation really a viable alternative to self-injury?

FS pose this question:

When you’re urging to hurt yourself, aren’t you looking for a release, and some relief from the emotional distress you’re having trouble coping with?

This basically forms the central tenet of their entire argument as far as I can see.  In fact, looking again at the article, it seems to be their only tenet.  What a convincing argument they must have if they only have one major thread to their point.

That said, OK – successfully orgasming undoubtedly does relieve tension, and no doubt endorphins are released upon climax just as they are in cutting.  But for goodness sake, how obvious is it that it is an entirely different type of release?!

I wrote about the satisfaction, if that’s the correct term, that I get from self-harm in this post a few weeks ago.  I suppose my main point was that bloodletting is beautiful because one feels, temporarily, that they are watching their own evil flow away along with their blood.

Which, to be objective, is the only point I really made – but it feeds into the idea that many people will injure themselves as some sort of ritualistic punishment for their perceived inherent evil, or for the self-disgust they feel.  I know I have been known to cut for this reason.

Why, then, would I allow myself the satisfaction of a pleasurable activity?  If I am a bad person, I need some obvious form of punishment, not a reward, whether that’s sexual or otherwise.  Now, satisfaction is undoubtedly garnered from the ‘punishment’ of cutting – but it’s not a premeditated satisfaction (masturbation is in my view, even if a sexual urge comes on one quickly, because it usually has a clear objective that one is trying to meet).  And in any case, the satisfaction is, primarily, mental, not physical (which is all masturbation, unless conducted mutually with a partner, can ever be).  You are satisfied because you have done what needed to be done to this bad individual; you have hurt them.

Of course, that’s only one aspect of self-harm.  One other major function of it is to reorientate oneself when going doolally or, as FS admit, to release some psychic pain in the same circumstances.

Now let me get this straight.  When I am going off my head in a mixed state or panic attack, am I seriously going to sit down and analyse distraction techniques (this is why I think they are all complete arse, as discussed here, for example, or there’s always this epic rant specifically about methods of distraction)?!  In particular, am I going to think, “Christ, life is so fucking terrible right now…an orgasm would make it better”?  Well, maybe it would actually, in an ephemeral sort of way, but would that really be forefront in my mind?  The idea, as any one who’s experienced such a state will appreciate, is ludicrous.

All one can think about when going mental is the mentalism.  The ‘decision’ to harm, if it can be termed that as it is not always conscious, is almost innate.  OK, so sexuality is innate too, but there the comparisons end.  Perhaps the reason for the visceral nature of self-harm in these circumstances is simply that its effects are instantaneous (my mantra to C: “it’s quick and it works”).  Even if we (erroneously) were to agree that an orgasm can have exactly the same physiological effects as self-harm, time (for most women but I reckon to some extent blokes too) is required.  One does not feel like they have time when one is going mental.

Another issue that escapes them, and my aforementioned post on blood being beautiful ties in with this, is that cutting isn’t always about pain or distraction; sometimes it’s about blood.  Personally speaking, I love watching the blood.  Occasionally I cut only to watch the blood and how it flows.  Again, if we make the false assumption that orgasm release = cutting release, where is anything tactile or tangible from that?  FS do state that “…masturbation doesn’t cause any physical problems..,” and in doing so of course acknowledge that cutting can and does of course have physical consequences – but, as I said, they miss the point that that can be exactly why it is done in the first place.

Above all, what antagonises me most about this article is how it trivialises the issue of self-injury.  Now, I don’t think it’s a big deal if done under controlled circumstances, but neither do I think it can simply be equated as having similar physical and mental properties as something that most people have done in their lives and that is seen, rightly or wrongly, as something to be sniggered about at the back of a classroom.

FS state several times in the article that they fully recognise that self-harm is a serious issue, and to be fair they wouldn’t exist in the first place if they didn’t think so.  Nevertheless, singling out masturbation as a distraction technique in this fashion strikes me as counting it as some sort of panacea in a path to recovery from self-harm.  That probably wasn’t their aim, and what they have written was clearly with the best of intentions, but it has sadly worked out as over-simplified and utterly ineffective.

It may seem like I’m saying, “fuck distraction techniques, self-harm for the win!” in this and other posts – I am not.  This may be what I think for myself, but I would not advocate such for anyone else.  One thing FS got right in this article was to remember that everyone is different, and so other cutters / burners / whateverers may find a range of distractions, including this one, effective.  To that end may I reiterate that I admire the work that First Signs do; I applaud their very existence.

But wanking is never going to be a viable alternative to the scalpel for me.  Sorry folks.

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Mad versus Bad, Stockholm Syndrome and Defending HIM

Posted in Context, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 19 November, 2009 by Pandora

The phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome has been bandied about a lot in the media recently, in the wake of the Jaycee Lee Dugard abduction and, to a lesser extent, in discussion of the Fritzl case (though I am not sure to what extent Elisabeth Fritzl was affected by it).  There is a particularly good article, by trauma therapist Kathy Broady, on the condition here.

For those of you not familiar with the issue but who don’t have time to follow the links, Ms Broady puts Stockholm Syndrome thus:

It is when victims form positive, caring attachments with their violent perpetrators.  The more victims have to depend on their perpetrators for their very survival, the more likely the victim will form an attachment to their perpetrator…

[Victims] knew that their life and basic survival needs were completely dependent upon keeping the perpetrator happy.  They learned to base their own survival on effectively meeting the needs of the perpetrator, and the perpetrator had the power to decide if they would live or die.  To survive, they became loyal to the perpetrator.

Perpetrators purposefully create this kind of dependence in their victims.

As far as I am aware, and it fairly logically follows given the above set of circumstances, Stockholm Syndrome is most frequently seen in cases of long-term abuse (and is thus not particularly applicable to me).

During a recent documentary on the Dugard case, my mother sat aghast as the narrator described how Kaycee and her two daughters wept as their abuser (and father of the two younger girls) was arrested.  She admitted that, had they randomly told their story without proof, that she would have thought them to be either unforgivable liars or seriously afflicted by folie a trois.  How, she argued, could you care so deeply about a person who had so horribly and systematically abused you?

I spoke to her at length about Stockholm Syndrome, but to little avail.  She understood the concept in theory, I think, but was nevertheless unable to grasp how it could actually be.  The whole idea is so alien to her that she cannot conceive of it being a very real condition, borne – initially at least – out of necessity.

A similar, though distinct, query arose with her when the Fritzl story broke last year.  “But how is it possible for her father to have done this to his daughter?” she despaired.  As with the Dugard case, had the story not been there in black and white, I don’t think she would have believed it.

“He must be mad,” she concluded.

Quite possibly.  Indeed, quite probably.  But at what juncture do we allow abdication from Fritzl’s personal responsibility (not to mention his duty of care to his daughter, morally if not legally at her age), due to the fact he clearly had a twisted and sick brain?  When does bad become mad, and/or vice versa?

Anyway, the point of this post is not to write a psychocriminological masterpiece on Stockholm Syndrome.  I’m only here to say that, although I do not believe for one second that I have it or anything approaching it, I do understand it.

I suspect some of my readers – those few in my real life, in particular – will dislike the latter part of the title of this entry.  “Defending HIM” – ‘Him’ being MMcF’s husband, perhaps unsurprisingly.  I am going to defend him…but, and it is a very BIG ‘but’, that does not mean that I am defending his erstwhile actions towards me.

I mentioned in the last post that I’d explain why I had become less concerned for MW’s welfare so let me clarify that point.  I have been exposed to Paedo in large doses twice recently and have found myself to feel nothing other than overwhelming pity for the man.

In some ways, I have done for many years, but he was so much a shadow of his former self of late that the sense of sorriness felt all the more palpable.  I think I have alluded to the fact before that he is mental too, suffering from some unspecified psychotic disorder.  He, like me, takes Olanzapine to counteract it, and it has been effective in its indicated usage.  But he is now incredibly depressed regardless.

So what, SI?  (a) Doesn’t he deserve to be and (b) depression is treatable, so why are you decreasingly concerned for MW?

(a) Well, yes, maybe he deserves to be.  But the man has had no life.  His life, for as far back as I can remember, has been nothing more than a pathetic existence.  He was forced to marry MMcF when they were both very young, as she was up the stick (a reviled state of affairs in the ’50s), and he has been under her tenacious grip ever since.

As I have stated on the page about the people in my life, at face value MMcF is a lovely woman.  The reality, however, is that she is domineering, manipulative, cruel and overwhelmingly demanding.  I consider it no coincidence that the two of her children that still live with her – S and K – both have no lives.  In their 40s now, they will never leave that house.  I also consider it no coincidence that S had very severe social phobia and still has depression (she claims she has bipolar disorder, but none of us have ever witnessed anything approaching even hypomania, and she only takes Venlafaxine, no mood stabilisers.  But what do I know) and indeed that Paedo is severely delusional.  The two other sons eventually escaped, but are nevertheless intrinsically linked to every brick of the house’s build, as are their children.  S’s daughter seemingly escaped but her, her husband and little MW might as well move in because they are always there.

The hold is enforced by MMcF.  Frankly I am scared of her.

Now, re: Paedo.  Well, given his entrapment, I actually can understand a willingness on his part to stray.  Could he separate from her, divorce her?  He could – or could have, more accurately – but even if he had, she would have manipulated him back.  I guarantee it.

So, yes, I feel sorry for him, and long since have.  MMcF does nothing but criticise him, and yet he serves her and complies with her selfish desires without complaint, and endlessly worries about her health and welfare (neither of which are great).

It does not, however, condone child molestation, because quite clearly nothing does.  No matter how shite his life may be, may long since have been, I did not deserve to be raped by him (nor, of course, by anyone else).

All I am saying is that the person is distinct from the act, no matter how heinous or twisted that act is, so I have the ability to feel pity for this man, who did this most horrid of things to me.  I don’t like him, and I most certainly do not love him, but I feel regret that he’s had such a waste of a life, and if I can feel that, then I can completely understand how in more serious cases of abuse that that could progress to compliance, submission, friendship and even love.

(b) Yes, depression is treatable, and Paedo may well be able to be treated for same.  Still, it is very chronic, and with the aforementioned shitty life, will be all the more difficult to shift.  We have a saying in Ireland: if a person is perceived to be on their last legs or just otherwise haggard and decrepit, it is often said that they are “done”.  Well, Paedo is thoroughly and utterly done.  Quite honestly, death would be a mercy to the man.

So on the balance of probability now, I am fairly sure that he simply isn’t either physically or mentally capable of posing a threat to MW, MW’s impending sibling, or any other member of that (or any other) generation.  He is beyond it.

Of course, I am not, and cannot be, 100% certain of this – who is ever 100% of anything?  As such, I will remain vigilant and will tune my awareness to any changes in MW’s behaviour as finely as possible.  If I think for a second that the child is under threat, I will act.  I will break Paedo’s neck myself if needs be.  However, I do genuinely not perceive this as likely at the present time.

To address my mother’s points vis a vis the sad Dugard and Fritzl cases.

If you, mother, find it so hard to accept Kaycee and her children’s attachment to their abuser, consider proportionally the defence your daughter has just given of hers.  Does it seem so alien now?

Furthermore, as stated Stockholm Syndrome develops of necessity – in the case of most long-term trauma victims, because they cannot escape the situation, so it is better to ’embrace’ (for want of a better word) what the abuser wants, in order to make life somewhat more tolerable.  In my case, evidently a less serious one, I would also say that some of my reaction to Paedo has developed of necessity.

I have basically accepted him, and I have kept the story to myself, to save an entire extended family.  Others could have been abused, I know, and I will never stop wondering if I could have prevented that – but I would have had to go to the police, alone, as a traumatised child, and with a total lack of evidence, what would have happened anyway?  So, with the best will in the world, I could hardly have prevented harm to that generation, and so I did all I could in the circumstances – I tried to keep the family my mother loves together.  And now I am looking out for the next generation’s welfare, which is the best I can do now.  I cannot ruin a family over an incident 16 years ago for which I have no evidence.

So no, abused individuals do not automatically hate and reject their abusers, for a multitude of reasons.

Finally, why is it really so impossible to believe that close relatives can and do abuse those close to them?  Many readers will be aware that most acts of sexual violence are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.*  Well, I can’t say the rape and the overt sexual behaviour were particularly systematic in my case but still – he was my uncle, I was his niece, so there you go.

* Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet, National Child Traumatic Stress Network – http://www.nctsnet.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/caring/ChildSexualAbuseFactSheet.pdf


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The Beauty of Blood

Posted in Moods, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 28 October, 2009 by Pandora

I have been incredibly good recently and haven’t self-harmed for about a fortnight. That’s good going for me since May.

That does not mean it isn’t on my mind, though. I think about it almost all the time – well, either self-harm or suicide. As things stand right now, it isn’t about feeling pain, or distracting myself from the mental agony of a severe mixed state or whatever. It is about a desire to watch the blood. The beautiful, dark, flowing krovvy.

A lot of other cutters get this, but I’m not sure normals do, or frankly ever will. At least in part that’s probably because it’s so difficult to articulate why watching your own self-inflicted wounds bleed has such ethereal beauty.

One argument is that it’s like watching the psychological pain flow away, however temporarily. However, when that pain can be contained (as in my present case), I’m not sure to what extent that point of view is applicable.

I think – for me, at present – it’s symbolic in a different sort of way. It’s such a perfect delight at the time because, by average societal standards, it is a dark and forbidden pursuit in which to engage. Enjoying it, wanting it – nay, needing it, at times – that’s “bad”, right? Yet it isn’t when you’re me.

It is beautiful because it’s representative of the darkness that inhabits me, and becomes a temporary acceptance that it might just be OK to be so internally flawed. That my ‘real’ being, with all her twisted, gruesome little thoughts, might just be, in some sense, a beautiful persona.

Of course the effect is, as stated, temporary, and the endorphins that (presumably) create this illusion leave after a short while, and you feel all the more fetid and grotesque looking at the scars that scatter your body.

But in that one glorious moment, it seems worth it.


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On Being on Holiday – Is this Normality?

Posted in Everyday Life, Moods, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 28 September, 2009 by Pandora

Of course, almost by definition, being on holiday is not normality.  It is a break from it, a break from the humdrum everyday mundanity that is the rat-race in which most of us here in the West have to engage (or not if you’re a dolescum like me, but anyhow), not an experience we can hope to replicate as part of our ‘normal’ existence.

But I don’t actually mean the overall experience of having a break from it all, I mean the general emotions, behaviour and state of being whilst one is on said break.  I think, during my ten nights in the Turkish Republic, that I found something as close to “normality” in terms of these matters as I can ever remember.

I’d written here and here that I was manic the day we left, and the evening before that.  I’ve already offered my reasons as to how that differs from ‘excitement’, and it was certainly profoundly different from most of what I experienced whilst we were actually away.

I don’t particularly believe in ‘happiness’, not as a distinct emotional entity from mania, or at least genuinely-felt cheer, anyway.  This is not just cynicism; I really believe that the best any of us – mentals, normals, in-betweeners – can hope for is contentment in our lives.  If nothing else, the state of contentment conveys much greater connotations of relaxation to me.  ‘Happiness’ denotes a mood of elevation and excitement, which surely requires energy, and I believe that that can only be sustained for brief periods – ‘contentment’ suggests relaxed acceptance of life, the ability to contend with and combat any negativity in it, and that, I believe, can be (broadly) sustained over time – circumstances permitting.

So, I won’t say I was ‘happy’ whilst on holiday, with the exception of one manic episode (as A saw it anyhow), where I was randomly talking to the bar staff in a friendly pub we liked, and having my pictures taken with them.  This isn’t behaviour consistent with my everyday character, only my manic one, which is why A found it odd, but he let me continue experiencing it, as “normal people do it” and I was “having fun”.

By the same token, neither was I in a negative mood for the most part.  There was only one brief episode wherein I went mental – I broke a glass in our apartment which sent me into an insane rage at myself – but it was relatively minor and short-lived.  On the last day, I found myself quite emotional (I still hate that fucking evil word) and in tears quite a bit, as I didn’t want to leave.

The rest of the time, I felt nothing other than contentment.  I found myself constantly wondering, “is this what it’s like for ‘normal’ people, in the general course of their lives?” (of course whilst recognising we all have ups and downs, but you know what I mean).  Contentment and relaxation.  Both are so far removed from my version of normality that, despite the positivity of them, I found it all quite alien and perplexing.  But in a good way, I assure you.

Is this normal?  I’ve already questioned what the sodding hell ‘normality’ is anyway, and why I reject it, at least in part.  But if that’s it, then actually, I’d quite like some more, thank you very much.  Controlled madness, with this as my default mood, would be quite nice.  But maybe this is ludicrous idealism; perhaps my default cynic is right – ‘normality’, even for normals, is simply existence.  Achieving contentment, something akin to proper living, maybe – probably – takes a lot more work.  Maybe I’m wrong above and contentment isn’t a broadly sustainable state of being – perhaps a better way of describing a life that isn’t mental or shit in the long-term is to, paradoxically, say that one is “content with not-particularly-content”.  Content with mere existence.

Well, it may not be quite as enjoyable as what my perception of contentment in Turkey was, but it’s better than what I usually know.  Things have been shit (normal) since I came back, and it’s not just a case of the post-holiday blues.  Those of you that read the password-protected post will know the reasons, but in brief summary to the rest of you, the psychoses (auditory and visual hallucinations, severe paranoia and delusions) have been worse, I’ve got a fucking stalker through no one’s fault but my own and my mood cycles between depressed and mixed states.  I’m also experiencing the hallmark BPD traits of severe derealisation and depersonalisation at times.  I never like hypomania, because I know it ends (sometimes abruptly), at which which point you can crash and burn – but I’d rather have it than this.  Even more than that, I’d like to have my contentment back.

This week is not going to make things any better, I fear; it all starts when I have to see the VCB in the morning.  She has it in her power to change my mood right round, but she has let me down so many times that I simply do not trust her nor expect that.  I would not be surprised in the least if she actually exacerbates things – but if that’s the case, she better be prepared for some extra attention from the media, the voluntary sector advocacy services and high-ups in the NHS – I’ll write to the Minister and Permanent Secretary of DHSSPS (essentially, the NI Department of Health) if I have to.  But it’s all too stressful to think about now.  I hate thinking about it.  I hate thinking about her.  I hate thinking about that building, her office, the other mentals, the car park – and the fact that there’s a bin and a day-bin right beside it.  Bleugh.

Then I have to go to occupational health on Thursday, which is especially shit as even though it seems to be with the nice OH doctor, things simply haven’t changed since I last saw him.  That’s largely because VCB has neglected to see me, so I don’t have anything/anyone other than C (and frankly, not at the moment him either) to help me to control my all-over-the-place moods, other than stupid practices of ‘mindfulness’.  So yeah, I have to go there and say, “well, aside from the wonderful further development of psychoses [most notably Tom, the voice], things are exactly the same, so this meeting is fucking pointless and you should just tell them to fucking sack me and stop this silly little dance of procedural ass-covering.”  Meh.

Sorry again for whinging.  I seem to have been doing quite a bit of that this last week.  On a brighter (?) note, I said that I might share a picture with you from the holiday.  I have decided to do so, though obviously you won’t be able to identify me from it (or if you can, please let me know as that would be unacceptable!).  Below is SI…but what is that she reads?!  She lies on the beach of a remote, idyllic, tiny and largely empty cove, on the shore of the clearest water she has ever seen, basking in the beautiful warm sunshine…

How SI Spends Her Leisure Time

…and she is passing her time reading Social Factors in the Personality Disorders: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Etiology and Treatment.

This picture was not a set-up.  I really did spend most of my time at the beach reading it.

Well, as if you needed it, there is proof that I’m a freak.  It’s a really interesting book though, so thanks to beautifulstones, one of my blog readers, for suggesting it.  It came on a great journey with me 😀


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To Hell With Today – and the Philosophy of DBT

Posted in Everyday Life, Moods, Psychotherapy, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 22 June, 2009 by Pandora

Today sucks ram and ass bollocks.

My range of happy experiences since last night are the delightful following:

  • The fabulous agitated depression *
  • Severe depersonalisation
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety (of course)
  • Insomnia (what a surprise)
  • Racing and disjointed thoughts (related to, or a symptom of, the agitated depression, naturally)
  • Physical restlessness – rocking back and forth, desire to pace blah blah blah
  • No particularly strong suicide ideation for a change, but certainly self-harm ideation

* I wrote about this state before, calling it “Simultaneous Mania and Depression“.  I didn’t know there was actually a psychiatric name for it – a Mixed State – but apparently there is.  In a sense this is reassuring as I was convinced this was an infinitesimally unlikely psychological place to exist and that ergo I must be the only person on Earth thus afflicted.  I am clearly not, however.

I am not anywhere near approaching the state I was in the night of my cousin’s birthday party, but what I described there is basically just a more extreme version of what’s been happening now.

I am trying to “mindfully breathe” (even the name pisses me off) and maybe I should find my stash of rubber bands or a fucking ice cube so I can feel lovely pain and maybe whilst I am at it I should paint on myself with red fucking dye or some such wank.  Heh, is it really bitchy that making snide remarks makes me feel marginally better?

This leads on quite adequately to a long discussion I had with A’s friend, G, on Saturday night.  As stated in the afore-referenced link, G has a degree in psychology and is incredibly clued-up on Eastern (as well as Western) philosophies.

Basically I complained that DBT and mindfulness were both a pile of patronising, meaningless fuck and that in particular even thinking about C’s particular choice of book on these matters made me angry.  I also told him of my recent diagnoses, making him one of only about five “real life” people that is aware of them (though having said that, I’m sure Mummy Dearest has told half the world by now.  On the other hand, maybe not, because perhaps now she knows it is not “just” depression, she is probably ashamed of me because I am certified by a consultant psychiatrist as being clinically insane.  Not a good conversation starter down the golf club, is it?).

My memory is absolutely awful since I lost my marbles, so I tried to take notes on stuff G said, which he found quite amusing (as I would have done had the situation been reversed).  The notes don’t grasp the conversation properly, but they do serve as something of a reminder that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The essence of the conversation is that G thinks this stuff has benefit.  He is dubious about Linehan‘s development of the background issues in dialectics, and argued that although statistically DBT has been proven to alleviate some of the typical symptoms in borderline people, there is very little empirical research to back up the actual science behind it.  Nevertheless, he claimed, the actual concept of dialectic argument has a strong and ancient philosophical background.  The main philosophers practicing what Linehan tries to call radical acceptance were the Greek Stoics.  I believe the argument ran that philosophical stoicism allowed the Greeks engaging in it to reach ataraxia (though if I am mistaken in this, please, please point it out.  I was very brave and gave G the URL of this blog so he – or anyone else with knowledge of this – can correct me if I have remembered it incorrectly).

He also told me to look into the works of Max Stirner, his current favourite Western philosopher, and Georg Hegel, who also wrote extensively on the concept of dialectics.  I haven’t done any of this, but it is my project for today and tomorrow assuming I can overcome my mixed episode and all its little idiosyncrasies.

I told G that I would review online material of all the above but that in the meantime I was still dubious about the notion of radical acceptance or ataraxia or whatever the fuck you want to call it these days.  I contended, as I had done here, that to simply accept everything was to cease to have an opinion, and therefore was equal to losing a sense of self, which in my case is something with which I very strongly struggle anyway.  I even went on a similar rant about Hitler, Ahmadinejad etc as I had done here.

G took my point but the man is too clever for his own good and has an answer for everything.  DBT is to be taken in four stages, of which acceptance is one of the early ones.  Once one has made psychological progress and is able to cope and deal with the symptoms of their illness, opinion can be reintroduced to the person  By this stage you are able to see the issues with which you struggle in a more rational, less all-consuming light.

He provided some really good physical analogy for this, which annoyingly I don’t remember.  My very inferior, shite and frankly airy-fairy-cunty alternative analogy is something like you have to take your clothes off to have a shower to rid yourself of dirt, but once you are clean you can put them back on again.  How fucking arsey can you get?  I fail as ever.

G further stated, when I whined and whined about my failure to develop a career and even hold down a job because I am mental, that if anything the intellectuals amongst us are in many ways the more hoodwinked in the world.  He said, quite rightly I think, that those with lower IQs and others who happily work in what some might see as “lesser” jobs are in actual fact much more savvy than those of us that think we are entitled to glamourous careers due to having brains because – funnily enough – they simply accept their lot in life and as such are happier people.  I agreed with him that oftentimes ignorance is very much bliss.

I’m not eloquent at all in my description of this conversation and for that I would proffer my apologies to G.  The reality is that his knowledge and persuasiveness was as strong as ever, and he articulated himself verbally in a much superior way to the way in which I do so do via any medium.

In any case, the problem, for me, is in learning to deal with acceptance of this nature.  I have already alluded fairly extensively to the fact that I have real issues with that.  You can’t just click your fingers and suddenly find that everything is accepted and unjudged in your mind.  So, today, I will try and read about Hegel and Stirner’s philosophies on dialectics, and indeed on the Greek Stoics.  I might well end up completely mind-melted, but at least I am not likely to feel patronised in the way the tossy book from C makes me feel.

Again, a lot of my issues with DBT lie in the presentation of it.  Some of the ideas have merit – though I certainly don’t think they all do by any means – but condescending wank just makes me angry and homicidal, and I would really have expected C to have been aware of this after nearly four odd months of therapy.  But perhaps Messrs Hegal and Stirner can convince me, and in fact I think I am now feeling sufficiently improved from how I felt when I first started writing this entry to actually go and try and read stuff about them.  In some ways writing this blog is cathartic, but in an additional way writing it serves as a decent distraction from fuckuppery.  (Ha – C will be delighted, as writing the blog is one of the activities on my “distraction plan”.  But on the other hand no doubt he’ll be fucking annoyed because he features so strongly in it.  Can’t win.).

At the very least, I can now go to C’s office on Thursday armed with loads of intellectual ammunition.  He’ll tell me that as ever I’m intellectualising matters, but at least he can’t accuse me of not making an effort to engage with this.


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A Consensus: Nobody Likes ‘Sane’! Do We Have ‘Mad Pride’?

Posted in Everyday Life, Mental Health Diagnoses, Moods, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 15 June, 2009 by Pandora

I wrote the other day about my mental dichotomy as regards wanting to be able to manage my episodes of madness and not wanting to lose my mentalism altogether, mainly as it has such a large bearing on my sense of self.

I was surprised but pleased by the level of response from others with mental health difficulties that I received to this post.  Aside from the comments left on the page in question, I received a number of messages on Twitter and even a couple of emails.

I was further surprised that there was not a single person that disagreed with what I had said.  One individual even commented that after 30 years of pain they would not flick the metaphorical switch to which I referred and allow themselves to be rid entirely of their condition(s).

In fact, over the course of my life I’ve only met one other person that would choose to flick the switch (my cousin S, who has severe agoraphobia and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder).  Everyone else does not want to be rid of their problems, or at least not entirely.

So what is this all about?  Why do we not want to lead ‘normal’, happy and contented lives?

As I stated in the aforementioned post, and in the subsequent comments, if you are mental then that mentalism becomes an inherent, completely entrenched part of your personality.  As such, whether you like it or not, it has become you, or at the very least part of you.  To lose it, surely, would be to lose part of your personality and therefore part of yourself.

Then there’s the fear element.  If being mental is all you know (or at least all you’ve known for some time), how can you reconcile ‘moving on’ with where you are at present?  If being mentally ill is your reality, how can you even conceive of having another reality?  What will it be like, how will it feel, what way will you behave?  The idea of living in what is effectively another mental dimension is a petrifying prospect when you have little to no conception of what that alternative dimension is like.

Apparently it is not just us lot.  There has been an emergent trend in some quarters since, apparently, the ’60s, towards “Mad Pride“.  Factions of Mad Priders are people who want to actively embrace their mental illnesses, and throw away their medications and do not engage in traditional forms of psychotherapy as a consequence.  They want to encourage their mad episodes.  Others that come under this umbrella term seek to reclaim the supposedly offensive terms “mad” or “insane” and to educate the public on mental health matters.  Read an interview with an advocate of the throw-away-your-tablets side of the movement here.  Indeed, view the UK’s official Mad Pride website here.

So, what do we think of this, eh, folks?

It seems to me from the aforementioned articles/websites that “Mad Pride” means different things to different people or groups.  Some throw away their tablets and stick two fingers up to the psychiatric establishment.

I cannot and do not agree with this; in fact, I think it’s nearly as worthy of shitting on as DBT.  It’s one thing to be scared and contemptuous of normals and normality – whatever that actually is – but it’s another to stand up and say, “it’s fabulous that I am psychotic today.  Oh, the plant is talking to me!  Fucking great!  Bring it on!”

The reality, or at least for me, is that episodes of psychosis, panic and all sorts of mania are frightening whilst you’re in them.  They are not fucking pleasant.  They are not fucking fun. Why would you actively choose to invite this when you can minimise the frequency and duration of same?

The dichotomy lies in the innate effect these episodes have on one’s long term psyche.  How do my manias, panics, episodes of sheer madness effect me in the long-term?  Regardless of some sort of diagnostic answer to that question, the truth of the matter is that the incidents in question shape my personality along the way, and it is probably this most of all that I fear losing.  That does not mean I want to encourage the actual incidents when they come.  Their complete absence is not what I want, but it would be good to be able to manage them and live a functional life, something that at present I cannot do.

The advocate interviewed in one of the above links claims that without (traditional) psychotherapy and medication he is still able to live a functional lifestyle whilst still having schizophrenia.  I find this difficult to believe at all, but regardless of whether or not it is true, just because he can manage does not mean that the rest of us can.  My current medication is rubbish, but I know from experience that some types of it can help you manage a day-to-day lifestyle, without becoming a normal entirely.  At the very least, medication can “take the edge off” a rotten and chronic feeling of, in my case hitherto, depression.  As regular readers will know, I am also intensely reliant on psychotherapy and cannot imagine not engaging in it at present.

The result, for me, of abandoning these treatments, regardless of how frustrated they may make me at times, is simply not one I wish to contemplate.  I find it difficult enough to cope as it is, and can’t imagine the darkness of the alternatives.  That would be really rather unmanageable, and all I want is manageable, thank you very much.

In slagging off this “Mad Pride” stuff, though, I am conscious that there is another element to it – a side that is not ashamed of being insane, a side that wishes to educate the public in open and direct terms about the realities of life with mental illness.  A side that is not just not ashamed of being mentally fucked, but actually proud of it.

I can see more merit in and feel more empathy with this.  The public do need more education about mental illness, as despite many shifts in attitudes in the 20th and 21st centuries, there is still an incredible amount of discrimination and ignorance surrounding mental health issues.  People do not realise that being a crackpot is the mental equivalent of having a chronic physical illness.  This has always annoyed me – I do get not understanding the problem because you haven’t experienced it, but I do not get these cunts that are not even willing to acknowledge that their awareness is skewed.  They label us as psychos or freaks (not that I haven’t done so, I suppose) and think we’re all a fucking danger to society and should be locked away.  We become an easy target for their abuse.

Or then there are the twats that are not as hostile as this, but through ignorance or fear or whatever it is, simply try to turn a blind eye to the entire problem.

But I digress.  The point is, the public do need educated on mental health problems, and whilst there is certainly a movement towards that from many organisations (Mind, Rethink, Time to Change etc), there is still a lot of work to be done.  The other point made is that the Mad Pride people are not ashamed of being mental – indeed, they are proud

Am I ashamed, am I proud or am I neither?  How do I feel about this idea?

I don’t think there is a short answer to this.  As it happens, I am not ashamed, or at least not consciously.  I didn’t choose this in the first place and regardless of what some new-age fuckwank twats may tell you, I can’t help it.  Before someone argues, “yeah, but you don’t want rid of it bitchface, do you?” I would contend that not wanting rid of it and not being able to help it are distinct and are certainly not mutually exclusive.  So, if it’s not something I can change, why would I be ashamed?  Additionally, why would I be ashamed of something so seminal to my actual person?  Furthermore, madness makes me think.  Thinking makes me question.  Questioning encourages intellect.

And yet, there must be part of me that is shamed by it, because if not why do I not broadcast it to people?  Most people in my real life have only rudimentary awareness of how doolally I am and, although I’ll discuss it in some ways if asked, I don’t go around doing so just for the issue for the sake of it.  This blog, aside from a few selected personnel, is anonymous.  Why would this be the case if I were not ashamed?  On the other hand, is it shame or just tact?

I do argue that I anonmyise this and feed only parts of the story to people I know as I wish to protect them.  When I read back through this blog, or when I reflect on past experiences, I don’t find them especially disturbing.  However, I know non-mentals do, or at least could.  It’s like protecting C; why would I wish to contaminate their minds, unless they specifically want me to do so?  Even then I am not that comfortable with it.  Even then they are not that comfortable with it.

But I’m not sure it’s just about that, really.  Perhaps if society cleared up its act regarding mental illness and discrimination was reduced, I would feel more in favour of complete public forthrightness about my ailments.  I don’t think it’s necessarily about me feeling shame per se, but I do recognise that I could be intensely stigmatised if I were more open.

So are Mad Pride the right people to help reduce this stigma?  I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but until there is a more general shift in societal attitudes (which would be better brought about by the NHS and the aforementioned voluntary organisations) I think that they will just be dismissed as nutjobs or psychos, in the convenient way that many nutjobs or psychos are normally dismissed.

For my part, I think I’m actually opposed to them as an entity.  Not because I am ashamed and not because I disagree with the provision of mental health education, but because the more noise they make about being proud to be mental, the more they actually alienate us from the rest of society.  Paradoxically, although factions of them seek to change attitudes, in my view the more attention they draw to actually being mental, the more they distance themselves (and, by proxy, other crackpots) from the rest of society.  Education needs to be more subtle than the methods they advocate, especially when some of their own elements feel that abandoning treatment is a sensible and desirable course of action.

Yet, to complicate matters further, although we should be accepted by mainstream society insofar as that is possible (obviously I draw the line at people like Ian Brady or Peter Sutcliffe, both sufferers of mental illnesses), part of me does feel that we shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that we are so clearly different from others in whatever nebulous way that may be.  If almost all people from my admittedly very anecdotal survey agree that they wouldn’t switch off their mental health problems, then surely there must be something in them that feels being crazy is something of which we should not be ashamed, and indeed that has something to add to our lives as well as much to take away?

Thoughts?


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