Deaths of Despair

In response to this article: https://time.com/5606411/millennials-deaths-of-despair/

 

Go ahead
and tax
the alcohol,
like that
wasn’t part
of the plan
anyways.
Make the
prescription drugs
harder to
get for
pain patients.
Ramp up
so called
abuse monitoring.
It all
suits the goal.
Think about
making it
“affordable”
to get
health care
as if
any one
of us
had the
unique opportunity
to decide
whether we
could afford
our illnesses
or afford
our fates
or afford
ever having
been plopped
on this
damn planet
in the
first place.

If this
is your
solution to
deaths of despair,
you are
showing your hand.
You don’t
understand the
depth of despair.
And you’re
likely one
dealing it.

Happy Pride

I wish a

“Solemn Wrath”

to the people

who can’t yet

muster up “Happy”,

or “Pride”.

To the folx

who realized

why it was

that they

wanted to kill

themselves,

only to realize

that now

there’s a

huge faction of

vocal and cruel idiots

that want you dead

instead of you

and you have to wonder

at every moment

if you are worth it

if you are real

if you are more than a plague

if you aren’t really an abomination

when mothers

clutch their children

away from you

in the goddamn grocery store,

to you I wish an armor

so mirrored and fabulous

that you might return

every laser gaze of hate

with a reflection of understanding,

followed by a spiraling dance of non-caring,

and an eye shattering glow of exposure,

bringing to light the hateful hearts

of those that wish

to strike you down.

Dangerous People

Today I went to the Community Mental Health, ready to raise hell(unfortunately she wouldn’t let me record the conversation though and I really believe it should have been), as I had been advised to, and got some differing responses than I did last night at the psychiatric urgent care. They claimed to have never told them that they wouldn’t authorize services, only that I needed to go to an emergency room no matter what. If that was the case, I can’t imagine why personnel from Pine Rest, who are in a private and unconnected system from both CMH and Pivot, would have brought up and mentioned that I had been authorized to go to Pivot once and not showed up. He shouldn’t have known that and would have had to have been told something of the sort for that message to get relayed in any way.

I asked the woman I was working with today to imagine what it was like to already feel like you should die, that you aren’t worth treatment, and hearing that you’re being punitively prevented from seeking it out because you’re bad at treatment. The kind of treatment that you need to get better at the things in life that prevent you from being good at treatment.

She said today that if I had called back last night they would have told me the same thing, just go to an emergency room. And that if anything like that happens again(which she called “basically an ‘f you.’”) to call the CMH directly and get clarification.

Last night, no part of me wanted to call and talk to the on call person who had apparently made that decision about me.

I’ll admit that I’m a vulnerable person. I’m fairly easily manipulated. Easily lied to. Every person on this whole process also has their own motivations and interests in covering their own asses and the ass of the organizations they work for. I don’t know who to trust. I don’t know if I should contact the Pine Rest people and find out the name of the CMH on call person from that night. I don’t know where to go from here.

I do know that I’m in a safe(r) place now. The mental health system is fucked and it’s taken me 10 years in it to learn how to see where the problems are, to advocate for myself. For instance, at my intake today, I was asked to sign a blank belongings inventory, before they had even completed the work of looking through my belongings and listing what would be kept on the sheet. I didn’t do it and it wouldn’t have affected me negatively to sign in advance because I have played the hospital game so many times that I don’t even buy pants with strings in them anymore, but let me tell you, when you are a vulnerable individual, all it takes is just one staff member finding something they like in your stored belongings and “forgetting” to put it on your inventory. A pre-signed empty inventory could be a disaster for someone with, say, a sentimental knife or jewelry. I also had the right to be there while they inventoried my belongings and they didn’t inform me of that or ask.

 

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned enough now to know that I’m giving up an enormous amount of power and dignity when I make this decision of hospitalization. Every time. Every time is a chance to be re-traumatized or experience something cruel or outlandish and it seems like nearly every experience I’ve had in the mental health system has involved that.

 

I think a lot of it really feels like gaslighting.

Go to the Emergency Room.

Get stripped of all your belongings. Yes, even your phone. You got people worried about you? Well, they get to leave messages to your locker. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get phones.

Get stripped of your clothes. Sometimes even your underwear. Sometimes they’ll have you do a naked squat to show you aren’t smuggling anything. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get clothes.

Depending on where you are, you’ll be watched non-stop either through the window, a camera, or a security person in the room. If you’re lucky, you might be allowed a family member or friend as a sitter. You will have to be monitored everywhere you go. Sometimes this means bed alarms. This always means someone else in the bathroom with you. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get privacy.

You’ll get to re-explain everything that’s wrong with you at a bare minimum of six times. This means what’s happening in your life, medical background and health management you currently are in, meds, feeeeeeeeeelings and “What brings you in today?” You have to hash out your pain, your struggles, your limitations and weaknesses, again and again and again. Get reminded of how much crap you feel like, again and again and again. To strangers. Anytime they ask. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get personal boundaries.

You’re in gown. In a too small bed. You can see the blood spatter on the blah floral curtain. And the doctors and nurses and phlebotomists and social workers all come in and stand towering over you and imply “I’m sorry that you’re feeling this depressed, but it’s wrong to feel that bad and people aren’t supposed to be like that and we can fix you, we can make you better.”

Ending that sentence was the precise moment that I realized I’m in an abusive relationship with the mental health care system.

Maybe more accurately it makes me realize I think I have a process addiction to mental health care but it just makes me feel so good(when it’s not hurting me).

I’m anti-psychotic right now.

I had a really good day hanging out with a friend and running errands in preparation for a planned on trip to the psychiatric urgent care. Once there, they wouldn’t help me. Apparently the CMH wouldn’t authorize treatment because in the past I had been authorized for Pivot and not shown up. I wracked my brain for when this might have happened and the only time I can figure is right after my car accident, when I wanted to go in because I could feel a spiral coming on and figured I could do a 2 for 1 on my Emergency Room time. The ER let me go with the instructions that Robert Brown Crisis(not Pivot but its sister) would call when a bed opened up. I missed a call from a number that was listed as Unknown, and they didn’t leave a message, leaving me no way to respond. They absolutely dropped the ball and now I come along months later and say to somebody that my suicidal thoughts are getting unmanageable and they say “Sorry, you miss appointments, you don’t deserve treatment.”

Can you imagine what that feels like?

When your depression already tells you that you are a drain on government resources and are better of dying? That it’s almost your civic duty to get off the damn disability payroll by offing yourself?

How many times do you offer someone treatment when they reach out? *

One time?

Three?

A dozen?

I’ve been hospitalized 21 times so far.

I’ve had CBT, DBT, ECT, REBT, IOP, month long rehab, gestalt therapy, and I’m working on family therapy and EMDR as well as digging into trauma. I could probably think of a couple more if I really tried. I’m a heavily therapized individual.

I remember one time in IOP(Intensive Outpatient, basically sobriety night classes) that he had been to rehab 27 times before it stuck. At that point I was a lot earlier in my career of crazy, and I thought to myself “how could you not give up?”

I know now.

You don’t have a choice.

You keep on marching, slogging, because a little taste of hope is all you need to get hooked.

I thought it would be convenient to die tonight.

My zines are printed and could be available at the funeral.

My friend had all the paperwork about how I was feeling and witnessed the whole thing.

It would’ve been a great headline for that brand spanking new psychiatric urgent care. Might help make some changes in the system.

I was ready to be a martyr for the mental health movement.

But you’re supposed to live for spite, you’re not supposed to die for it. Don’t punish yourself.

I jerked myself out of those thought loops. I thought to myself “You know better. You can choose to stop indulging in this.” And it was indulgent, it was mopey down the to core, I could practically feel my chin inside my chest.

I reminded myself of the good things in my life. Of the good things that I believe I may still have coming. Then I realized and complimented myself on having rerouted my Inner Critic/pity party so effectively. I’d also like to think that my activism will mean more if I’m alive.

Later that night I realized that maybe the reason I was having a good day for today despite enormous setbacks in a few arenas and a shoddy one other days despite them being relatively innocuous is that I didn’t take the antibiotics I was supposed to for my tooth. I’ve had full blown psychotic reactions from antibiotics before, but usually only the very strong single dose ones, and this was just a standard course of penicillin. Then I realized, slowly, shakily, with more of a sense of fear and power than I have ever felt before, I could account for at least three of my hospitalizations being very close to rounds of antibiotics. I have a variable now. Something to test. I can maybe get records from the offices of places that I’ve stayed, and from my primary care physician.

Also, my healthcare provider called and asked if I wanted to be a part of the Spectrum All of Us research program, and as a person who is transgender and on a lot of medications, I believe I’m scientifically valuable so I’m excited to have that appointment coming up. I’m going to share my hypothesis.

 

 

 

ECC84699-4E60-427A-8B86-78AFC0B584FA*Every time. Any time. It’s so scary to reach out and so much of the mental health system is like “oh, you have a problem?” WHAP! and when you are consistently punished for reaching out, you stop doing it. Remember that you’re dealing with people who are tender.

Becoming

I am
becoming
satisfied
with the
idea of
myself,
the way
my brain
maps my thoughts,
the way
my body
maps my responses,
the way
my journey
maps my future.
I am
who I am
becoming
who I am,
an ouroboros
phrase
that you
can jump in
anywhere
and to all
those who
share the
slightest smattering
of shared humanity,
I say to you,
walk with me
for as long
as our paths
travel together,
and our travels
will be that much
lighter and brighter,
for I will always
welcome a fellow.

Grief Pickles

On the days 

when I forget 

to eat anything 

but my 

weed laced oatmeal, 

sometimes I still have 

Grief Pickles. 

When my depression 

or my disordered eating 

grabs a hold of me 

and prevents me from moving, 

I can lift a Grief Pickle 

to my mouth,

the temptation

to feel again

too great. 

In a moment, 

the tiny sweet gherkins 

yield to my teeth, 

meaty matter crumbling 

into itself 

along the structures 

that created it, 

and I remember 

my Grandma. 

I remember 

every Saturday night 

when she would 

consider it 

something special 

to break out 

a frozen pizza 

and some 

potato chips 

and some 

tiny sweet gherkins. 

Not a balanced meal, 

nothing like her 

homemade roasts 

or goulash 

but she thought 

it was special

(probably because 

it took less work), 

so I thought 

it was special. 

I bite into a 

Grief Pickle and 

I remember 

my Grandma, 

who kept the house 

at 76 degrees 

for two years 

after my 

Grandpa died, 

never thinking 

that she could 

change it to 

what she liked. 

I remember 

my Grandma, 

who played 

strategy games 

as if she didn’t 

quite fully 

understand 

everything 

she could do 

to screw 

other people over, 

until the time came 

that she didn’t quite 

understand 

strategy games 

that deeply at all, 

not for the benefit 

of others

 or herself. 

I remember 

my Grandma, 

who would 

subtly rib 

on my weight 

by suggesting 

things like, 

“perhaps you 

should check 

the weight limit 

on the chair.”

I remember 

my Grandma, 

complicated, 

human, 

trapped 

just the same 

in a society 

and a family 

with such profound 

generational trauma 

that we don’t 

speak of emotions 

much less feel them. 

I remember 

my Grandma 

on the hospital bed, 

looking lost and tiny, 

a wrinkled fetus 

abandoned in the 

slow gradual breakdown 

of the prison 

that holds 

our consciousness. 

I remember 

my Grandma’s 

hand, small 

and soft and spotted. 

I take another bite. 

Unfinished Daddy Issues Poem

My father says I can’t be a man because I express too much. I’m a slave to my emotions, and I’m using a gender transition to stuff my trauma. 

I feel. 

I sit. 

I process.

and everything I make is steeped in emotion, every drip of paint or drop of ink or flash of flame or cut or weld or arc is sacred feeling encapsulated in a single moment on canvas or metal but then 

I feel.

I sit. 

I process.

and I abandon those loving harsh moment of truth in closets because they are past truths and they are therapy and they exist for me. 

Human Contact

d2101730-fc48-41f1-8e93-2c780a95d6a8I need 

human contact

as if I was 

a person 

or something

it’s a 

radical idea

I’m not 

used to it

I’m so 

used to 

these pits 

and cages

and walls

and institutions 

that I 

forgot I 

was ever 

Really

Meant

To Be

A Person

I dunno anymore

where the edges are

I can’t find what I’m

still holding onto 

and I’m grasping at

the tears 

and the frays  

and the holes

and the grays

and I am 

very much 

alone 

inside 

myself

but then again, 

so are you

and maybe 

perhaps

it’s possible 

to reach 

across the divide 

of the 

human consciousness 

and 

simply

Touch

Growth Work

I’m learning a lot about both making art and processing trauma. 

You have to trust the process above all else. 

It won’t look pretty at a lot of stages but you are doing the work and that’s what counts. 

It’s the layers of tiny details that build up to make a whole image. 

If your system doesn’t account for mistakes, your system is broken, not your work. 

At any moment you may see what you are working on and declare it beyond repair, but ultimately it is you who decides when you are finished so the only way for it to stay flawed is to stay unfinished. 

Don’t give up until the work is done. 

Did you think the work was done? Think again. There’s fresh ideas to be had. 

You will never be pleased and nor should you. The brilliance of growth is that it is unsatisfied. 

Pride in craftsmanship shows and people are drawn to the light of vulnerability. 194A6857-7BE9-4736-9E94-AEDC26DB9D60

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Please check out my Kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iamzine/i-am-who-i-am-becoming-who-i-am-lgbt-zine

If as my friend you’re counting on me to get published copies of the zine and planning on throwing me cash sometime, instead of supporting the kickstarter, I would like you to consider that every purchase on the kickstarter will directly buy me more copies that I can hopefully sell for more income. Additionally it helps me with my planning for how many copies I need. Your dollars go further as an investment this way.

Also it’s a little above fully funded right now so there’s a good chance I might be able to add another set of pages.

I guess to put it another way, if you buy on kickstarter you’re also helping buy copies for two strangers. Sort of. Or you not taking away a copy from a stranger. I dunno. I’m bad at this.