In my manic days, I told everyone.
I woke up one morning, turned on my side, and said to Lynn “I’m sick.” Oh, I had sought help before this, many times from therapists and, one time, a psychiatrist. Encouraged by my mother, I tried the bootstrap approach where you somehow reached into your soul and made the depression go away.
What had preceded this bout? Several months of going from town to town speaking about the war in Yugoslavia and how people could support the peace movement over there. The subject had worn me down, eroded my belief in myself. I stopped returning phone calls, stopped believing in my own intelligence, my worthiness to be human. The period came to a soft but painful landing like running into a beanbag chair and feeling nothing of the collision except a rash of pain. I was not rested. I slept badly. I stayed up in the night and stared at the ceiling. I did not even have the energy to hate my condition. It was as if I did not have a proper body, just a jelly log that could do nothing but lie in bed. Who could pull themselves out of this by sheer force of will when there was no will to have.
I had heard about this new drug, Prozac, and I wanted to try it. Kaiser required that I make the appointment myself, so as Lynn watched, I picked up the phone and arranged to see the psychiatric triage nurse. I feared that she would see me as a fake, but she passed me on to the psychiatrist who prescribed Prozac.
I was cured the next day. Uh oh.
That was the whole plan. That is how I decided to end the pain. Alone.
When you add all the provisions of the 175 page Families in Mental Health Crisis Bill together, the answer is Zero.
A video in which I describe how I came to be diagnosed during my one and only hospitalization
“High functioning” has more to do with balancing bureaucratic costs than the welfare of the patient.
The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.
Let me start out by stating that I do not believe in “self-stigma”: I believe in guilt, shame, and despair but labeling these as “self-stigma” cheapens the meaning of stigma. There may or may not be a motive behind the invention of this term, but the result is that it implies that the people who are the principal victims of stigma are in a conspiracy — or confederacy if you prefer — against themselves.
To further explain what stigma is and isn’t, let me use a parallel that was laid out to me by a friend who was explaining certain terms used to describe race relations. White people often accuse African Americans of being racist, too. African Americans dispute this. My friend — an African American woman — acknowledged that African Americans often hold deeply seated racial and ethnic prejudices. But this isn’t racism because racism requires another element: power. White Americans are in a position to make their racial prejudices inflict suffering on the lives of African Americans. Witness, for example, the unwritten DWB (“Driving While Black”) policies of certain police departments including “America’s safest city” (for white people) Irvine, California. The policy is enforced when a black person drives through the city of Irvine. Because of their skin color, they are assumed to be up to no good and pulled over for some minor infraction. The result is that they are made to feel unwelcome in this college town. That is a ~comparatively~ “mild” example, but American history is rife with other exemplars up to the present day.