mental health, Uncategorized

Sleeplessness and the bureaucrat

I shouldn’t be doing this right now. I should be trying to grab some precious ever elusive sleep but I can’t. My mind is stuck reevaluating with increasing disbelief, the interaction I just had with the front desk of the mental health conglomerate that I go to. Here is a word for word transcript, annotated with my escalating unimpressed thoughts.

Me: Hi, my name is ___. I’m a patient of ___ and I have had insomnia for three days.

X: And how can I help you? (in a tone that said, yeah what about it?)

In my head: wow empathy must not be your thing.

Me: I need to schedule an appointment to see her.

X: Ok. (she proceeded to get the information she needed to look up my chart and schedule) Well your next appointment isn’t until March so how about the 22nd of February?

Me: I don’t think so. I’m missing work I can’t go sleepless until the 22nd .

X: So you’re looking for a med increase.

In my head: what did you just say to me?

Me: I’m looking for a solution. I’m certainly not chasing medication if that’s what you’re saying.

X: How about 2:30 on the 16th.

Me: How about something today or tomorrow with anyone who’s available.

X: Are you available at 2:30 today?

Me: Yes that would be perfect.

During the subsequent wrap up I got her name so I could report her because I don’t take this kind of shit anymore.

So let’s just recap: A patient called and said they weren’t sleeping. She had an appointment open for today and she tried to schedule that patient for three weeks from now. Did I mention she had an appointment open today?! That isn’t just a lack of empathy but a lack of ethics.

While it’s not an uncommon occurrence in mental health patients, sleeplessness in my book and among the medical community in general, is a very big deal. Lack of sleep leads directly to decrease in cognitive function and motor skills, not to mention the fact that lack of rem can lead to suicidal behavior. Here are just a couple articles about the effects of lack of sleep.

“Depressed patients who experience sleep disturbances are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who are able to sleep normally.”  From and article from Harvard.

“This study showed that REM sleep has a critical role in facilitating brain plasticity. ” from an article looking at a study of the effects of four days of sleep deprivation.

 

I attempted to go back to work yesterday after finally achieving 7 hours sleep in 48 because I love my job. But my job requires a level of concentration and reasoning skills that I was unable to bring to bear with my head spinning. I was not sharp. I could not focus and I sent myself home after just 3 hours because I recognized that I could not wrap my head around things that I had been fully on top of the day before all this started.

I wonder how many patients without the benefit of my bullheadedness, without my ability to tap into my well of petty wretched spite in order to not cave to people like that, would have taken the appointment three weeks from now and suffered. What if that patient then had an episode. What if they spiraled so out of control that they harmed themselves or killed themselves. What if they fell asleep at the wheel?

Bottom line this type of soulless behavior is not acceptable in any profession but so much less so in the medical world. As bad as my regular doctor’s office is, they have more compassion than that and mental health patients don’t need less empathy they need more because we are often at a diminished capacity to care for or advocate for ourselves. We don’t need anyone else making our lives more difficult and we don’t need someone taking advantage of that state to pass off sub par care. My opinion as of today is that if you don’t have a mental illness and can’t score really high on an empathy test, then you shouldn’t be allowed to be the front face of a mental wellness office.

The chief reason I see the nurse that I do and have changed practices every time she has, is that she doesn’t dole out scheduled drugs like candy. When my previous nurse had continued to up my klonipin to help me sleep without looking at other options until I was on the maximum dose and simply dependent on the drug, it was this nurse who took the time to ween me off it. She found a safe alternative which I was a little shocked to find was an old drug that frankly my other care providers should have been knowledgeable about and I feel should have been ahead of habit forming drugs on the list of possible solutions.

I have specifically chosen with no small degree of difficulty to pursue a course of medical treatment that avoids anything habit forming and the implication that I am some how looking for a fix was absolutely insulting to me in every way possible.

I bring this up to illustrate that what we are prescribed is not our fault. It isn’t within our control that someone we think is looking out for our well being is just handing out the latest thing the drug rep told them was a good treatment. We come to professionals because we don’t have the answers. This isn’t the first time a receptionist has done more than insinuate that I was chasing medication. I’m not sorry that yes, in the same way that I insist on having my blood pressure treated or my Lyme disease treated or a broken leg treated, I insist that I have access to the medically proven solutions for the problems with my brain. I don’t put up a stink that I have to check in every 90 days so they can bill my insurance for a visit that isn’t necessary if nothing has changed. I do however expect that when something does change and I need to come in sooner, as my nurse always tells me to do, that I am treated with dignity and respect. I don’t think it needs to be pointed out that everyone regardless of their medical needs deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

It is not the job of a scheduling drone to judge what I do or do not need. That is why the professional I see in the office has a degree and she does not. It is not her job to do her level best to keep me from being seen as soon as possible. It is not her job to decide if I have addiction problems or not. Someone who does have addiction issues probably really really needs an appointment asap wouldn’t you say? Someone’s medical needs are not a character flaw and they are certainly not an invitation to make judgments about that person and never an excuse to act on those judgments by doling out your version of the law.

I have observed in myself and those around me as a bank teller that the authority to say no to someone corrupts pretty quickly and a tendency to say no without really considering the situation takes root. This is simply a human failing but compassion is a human responsibility and if you don’t have it you at least need to pretend and if you can’t even do that, then you have no business interacting with people who need compassion which by the way is EVERYONE in the world.

It is my assumption whether it’s a good one or not remains to be seen, but my assumption is that this practice as a whole has a low opinion of people with mental illness and thus doesn’t really require sterling behavior from it’s staff. It’s easy to declare a group of people second class citizens and then have little compunction about treating them as such.

As for my sleeplessness issue I have found that as the light returns I have more and more mania and anxiety at night which becomes a self perpetuating thing. Fear of lack of sleep leads to lack of sleep etc. Needless to say the dark of winter has become my favorite time. Spring and summer mania are not fun. Now I’m off to advocate for myself. Keeping yourself well is bloody hard work.

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mental health, Uncategorized

I am not Beth March

It’s true. I’m not but I’ve been attempting to play her for over twenty years.

Of all the March sisters Beth was brightest and best. She had no lessons to learn, no character flaws to fix. She was quite literally an angel.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women  is a beautiful piece of fiction but perhaps it was introduced into my life at the wrong time. We never know quite how things will imprint on a child do we? Sitting quietly with my mother and sister while she read the book out to us is a fond memory, idyllic really. How cozy were we, in the living room with the wood stove burning while Yukon’s winter raged outside. I was learning to crochet around that time further adding to the feeling of living in that era.

In my first memories of childhood I was incredibly happy. I was wild, boisterous, and queen of my own ranch. We lived on a 300 acre ranch in the middle of no where. I had endless places to play and I quite literally ran amok.  I had thought for a long time that moving to town had affected me so badly because I lost all that space.

No. I realized today that on the farm I was wild child but I was accepted. No one tried to make me anything different.

All that changed when we moved into town and I was exposed to people who had very strong opinions on how I should behave. Archaic, “children should be seen and not heard” views just to begin with.  Suddenly I was surrounded by other children, judgmental meddling adults and a religious doctrine claiming that we were “called to walk into perfection.” All of these things together was a recipe for disaster. Children can be cruel and if the adults are worse then you really are stuck in a nightmare.

I had a problem and since as my father is fond of saying “we are not your average bears” I turned my mind to it full time. At church I heard over and over that it wasn’t enough to repent you had to also completely stop sinning and when a sin can be as small as an unkind thought, that’s a pretty tall order. However I took it as given that it could be done, after all these were adults talking.

My behavior at school and elsewhere was a constant source of issue.  I was being bullied and always handled it “poorly”. A week into school I got tripped, so I slapped the jerk who stuck his foot out , I got detention. The boy got nothing. Through that and various other situations I learned eventually that my reaction to a situation would always outweigh whatever had happened to me in the first place. It’s a lesson I’ve learned so well I perpetuate in on myself without any help.

I decided that what I needed was a personality make over. All I needed to do was learn to be just like Beth. No one ever spoke sharply to Beth because she was so sweet that she never deserved it. I, of course, always brought these things on myself because I couldn’t be nice. Becoming Beth was possible. I was certain of it because this was my version of walking into perfection.

I took the wrong message away from that book because of my single minded pursuit of being the best version of myself that I could be even if it was not me at all. That part of my view of life never changed. All the while I rooted everything else from my child hood religion out, I held this one poisoned kernel nestled deep in my heart.

I worked at being perfect constantly like an athlete honing their skills and muscles I worked at holding my tongue, having patience, being kind. None of these goals are bad in and of themselves but if you believe that you can be perfect at any of them let alone all of them, you are quite deceived. I was. It’s taken me this long to realize it.

In some ways nothing has changed since child hood. Something happens, I “over react”, I’m devastated, I resolve even harder to be perfect. The fact that I’ve vastly improved over these years holds no comfort whatsoever. I’m not perfect and only perfection will do.

All I’ve learned is to internalize what everyone tried to punish into me, that I am not good enough as I am. That no matter what happens my reaction will always be wrong. I will always be wrong. It’s gotten so bad that I avoid people or situations where I can fail, or embarrass myself by being too loud and inappropriate. I leave even the best social situation with regrets strong enough to keep me up at night. I am reclusive and constantly afraid of doing the slightest thing wrong but tonight the light dawned.

No matter how hard I try, I will never be calm enough, kind enough, patient enough and quiet enough satisfy everyone or even myself. I just have to accept that. Also Beth was dying and I don’t want to live like I’m already dying.

Now, I guess, I get to learn to be me again and maybe I will be able to turn all of that mental energy to something more worthwhile.

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feminism, LGBTQ, Uncategorized

No More!

I’ve seen a lot of very well-intentioned people asking for those of us on the losing side to be calm and rational and kind. I want to take a moment to ask you to please stop.
After listening to a year of a hates spat in our ears we are now faced with the bleakest future in generations.

People are afraid with good reason.

Some are facing mandatory registration for their religious affiliation, loss of their marriage rights, loss of a dream of being able to have children/adopt, loss of identity. 

People you know and care about are in eminent danger.

The building is on fire! You cannot just love the fire away!

All of our hope for future has been snatched away and we are under absolutely no obligation to be nice.

Racists, sexists, transphobes, fatphobes, homophopes, ablist, xenophobes around us are emboldened to express their vile inhuman beliefs because now they are validated by the powers that be. People are going back into the closet and de-transitioning for the sake of their safety.

We do not need to be tone policed in this hour of crisis.

Positive thinking isn’t going to solve this situation. 

We do not need to turn the other cheek anymore. We need to stand side by side with all the people facing oppression under this new regime and say “NO MORE!”

NO MORE!


We need to roll up our sleeves and dive into the fray.

We need to scream out for those who cannot do so and if that scream is a snarl so be it!

If we sit back politely the tank treads will roll over our brethren and their blood will be on our hands, yours and mine, and I for one will not accept that stain on my soul.


For my part I am headed north, not simply to escape but with the determination to create a safe haven for those who may very well need it.


A white supremacist is heading into the white house. We cannot possibly overreact in this situation and anxiety quite often manifests as rage.

Please do not attempt to take people’s anger for you do them a disservice.

Anger is the backbone of healing. It is the motivator than is going make us realize we can’t simply love this situation into control. This is the moment to wake up! Many of us woke up months ago. For us our democracy has now been snatched away twice. 

When everything else has been taken from us please do not also take that one thing that can propel us forward.

In the words of King Arthur as written by William Nicholson

“I command you now all… to FIGHT! Fight like you’ve never fought before. Never Surrender! Never Surrender!”

We need to fight prejudice where we find it. Call it out wherever you are. Start a dialogue that is uncomfortable. Speak up whether it’s in the street or at your work or in a social setting.

This election was lost to the louder lies of hate and bigotry. Now is the time we have to speak up and louder than before. Drown out the ignorance around you. Hold people accountable for the unconscionable things they say.

Scream NO!

The road that got us here is paved with our being nice.

 

 

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Uncategorized

For the Trump supporter crying over the Mean Mean internet

O.K. my mind is completely blown! On a day when I didn’t think it could get any worse; when I had never doubted the goodness humanity more, my mind has officially been shattered. I am mad as hell and I am sure not going to shut my mouth.

I have a coworker who is a rabid Trump supporter, in spite of the fact that she works with not one but TWO immigrants, who might be negatively affected by his policies, Never mind the fact that his vice presidential candidate thinks her other coworkers should not have the right to marry and should “pray their gay away”, she still knowingly cast her ballot for someone whose policies would hurt these people that she sees more often than she sees her own family! At very least those of us around her are harmed by the hateful things that come out of her mouth in regards to these issues.

I was very glad that on the day after this disastrous election she was not on the schedule. A day of her gloating when I was having difficulty not crying all day was more than any reasonable person should be asked to bear. However, when she came in tonight for the team meeting she was visibly upset and said that everything on the internet was too awful and she was hiding and watching cat videos!

Are you fucking kidding me? I’m just going to say this without apology. YOU don’t get to sit in the corner and cry! You made this happen! You knowingly voted for someone who spews nothing but hatred, racism, bigotry etc etc. You have supported this person for a year. You repeat the horrible things he says. YOU CAST YOUR BALLOT FOR A CHILE RAPIST! And now you want to play the victim because the internet has some mean things to say about a person who has NOTHING but mean things to say about everyone else? GET FUCKED!

This is the memory of this election day that I will keep, the absolute mind melting cognitive dissonance that allows you to be as unkind as you want but as soon as someone disagrees with your vile calloused twaddle you want to moan and cry about it.

 

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feminism, Uncategorized

Georgie Porgie wasn’t a role model!

He wasn’t. He was  a little shit who needed to respect other children’s space.

As I understand it from following my niece’s progress through her daycare/preschool this is an issue that teacher’s and parents alike are addressing from the beginning. Kids are taught to use their words, give each other space, ask before taking something etc.

This is so so important to me as someone who didn’t get that lesson that other’s should respect my space and who also has a really big bubble. Seriously don’t touch me even to give me change or hand me something just leave it on the counter and I’ll deal with it.

I would have thought that antiquated nursery rhymes wouldn’t represent a modern standard of behavior but I guess I was wrong in this instance. A young parent, younger even than me was laughing about how her son literally kisses the girls and makes them cry.

I don’t don’t find this funny in the slightest. Sure it might seem like harmless behavior in a three year old but from the parent’s response I was extremely uneasy. She found it cute, not a problem at all that he had brought his friend to tears. I felt like the conversation was one step away from “boys will boys” but I didn’t push it because I’m not a parent and the child involved wasn’t even my niece.

However it’s plagued me ever since. Just how young does this disrespect of the space of women and girls start? If you don’t curb it now when exactly do you plan to do so? In this case the answer is probably never but the question still remains when do we talk to our kids about consent?

Consent isn’t just for adults.

It’s everything from asking before you borrow a toy to getting someone’s permission before you touch them. I think kids need to know that their space is theirs and that asking first is just as important as sharing because sharing is something we might over-emphasize.

I also think that the official methodology coming from the professionals in my niece’s life support that claim. Thank the Gods!

Here is a great article from a guy who has spent a long time examining toxic masculinity from the inside and I think what he has to say is invaluable. Moreover reading it made me realize that this post I had sitting in my drafts was relevant whether people wanted to hear it or not.

 

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economics, Uncategorized

The Millennial Conumdrum

As much as I don’t want to throw blame on the generation before me, I feel there is a genuine lack of understanding of how things have shifted since they entered the job market, went through school etc. Job uncertainty, soul crushing student debt and wages that do not in anyway pace with the cost of living even a very bare bones existence are a reality for generation x which I just barely fit into to and millennials who I have much more in common with.

At thirty five I’ve been through two layoffs worked entry level jobs over and over and after 7 years have only just now gotten back to the wage I was making in 2009. When you have to choose between defaulting on student loans and paying your mortgage and car payment, vacations are completely out of sight. Things you once considered necessities become luxuries until your only thoughts are food and shelter. Dr.’s visits, dental care new glasses clothes you actually like these are costs you weigh against saving money for Christmas presents. How do you prioritize your own needs over your family’s joy?

Having one child is so financially taxing that a lot of people my age aren’t even having children. Others want more than one but literally cannot afford it. Some are working but their wages are so low that they qualify for support. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. Wages are so low in Maine that even working full time with the requirements for state aid as stringent as they are, people STILL QUALIFY for state help.

We live the effects of ruthless capitalism and the now almost non-existent middle class every day. Millennials aren’t living with their parents because they want to but because THEY HAVE TO in order to eat. Talented and educated people aren’t leaving the state because they don’t like it here but because if they want any kind of a future they need a better job that you cannot find here.

We see no end in sight. Social security is already failing those who need it now. We don’t anticipate that there will be any left for us and we’re lucky of our budget balances. We can’t afford a retirement plan of our own. That’s not an excuse it’s a reality. We know we’re going to work until we die.

Millennials are making choices our grandparents and great grandparents had to make during the depression, stay and be dirt poor or go and possibly not be.

Pinterest is full of upcycle ideas because everything we do is on a shoestring not because it’s trendy. It’s popular because it’s necessary for the appearance of not being impoverished.

Gone are the days when you could get a degree and then find a job that will train you. Everyone wants experience up front. Or if they will train you it’s because they’ve conveniently layed off people who were making a fair wage for the work in order to hire desperate kids straight of college who don’t know what the job used to and should pay.

Wages aren’t going up. They’re going down because after the economic downturn companies weren’t going to eat the loss of profits. They passed it straight on to the consumer and the workers to keep their margins the same.

Don’t tell me it isn’t so. I’ve lived it! As the great poet Eugene Hutz sings, “It’s more than true. It actually happened.”

Many of us are working jobs in retail jobs at minimum wage or just above with a four year degree behind us. This isn’t a livable wage before you count in student debt.

For most of the people I consider to be in my wage class a vacation is a long weekend getaway to the white mountains or some other destination we can drive to. Did I mention you will have saved for this for months ahead of time?

No one should be blaming this generation for the mess we are in. We didn’t orchestrate the housing collapse, We’re too young to have benefited from the .com boom. We’re joining the armed forces and dying in staggering numbers because of lack of viable job options. We are literally stuck in the after effects of everyone who benefited before us.

I put forward the idea and I firmly believe that the numbers support it, that not since the great depression has there been such a need for a re-evaluation of the unlivable wages in this country.

This is why we wanted Bernie Sanders as a president because he was the only candidate that understood what we’re up against. The only one who demonstrated that he cared whether we have any kind of quality of life, ie being able to eat healthy foods and clothe our children without living in constant fear and worry over our financial state.

And you know what? There are plenty of members of previous generations that are right there with us because they fell through the cracks as well. The truth is none of us at the bottom have financial futures.

Here are the two  slides that started this rant and I think they hit the nail right on the head.

 

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Uncategorized

Why Dr. Strange? Why?

So what is the big deal with Tilda Swinton’s character in Dr. Strange?

Let me start by saying I have the utmost respect for Tilda Swinton both for her acting prowess and her fearless activism. Furthermore I have no doubt that had she seen how this character would play out she would never have taken the part.

The problem that I see with casting her in this role is not with the casting itself but everything else. The studio has given their line of reasoning as this: they wanted to update an otherwise heavily stereotypical character for the 21st century, feeling that the tired trope of the wise old Asian monk needed some work. So they did what any forward thinking group of ignorant white people would do and cast a woman in the role. Problem solved.

Apparently after that they dusted their hands and considered their work to be done and therefore did nothing to actually make the character less of a walking stereotype at all. They simply cast the whitest white woman they could find, shaved her head, stuck her in a flowing kimono and plunked her down in an opulent set that screams “mysterious Asia”. She then proceeds to train our hero in the mystical arts. So what exactly apart from the casting have they actually changed? Nothing!

This all leaves me screaming “are you fucking kidding me?”

They have taken one of the foremost actresses of our era and turned her into an insulting back handed joke. The rumor is that they didn’t want to lose the Chinese film market, a rich one obviously, by portraying a Tibetan character with a Tibetan actor. Yet they were so lazy and obvious about it that what they made was much, much worse and I really hope the Chinese censors block it based on a dire lack of sensitivity at the very least. What they’re saying with this is,

“Hey China we’re so terrified of your censors that we decided to white wash the only Asian character in here. Enjoy!”

Personally I have no issue with the wise old man character whether it’s Gandolf, Mr. Miyagi, Dumbledore or Chun from Remo Williams, especially Chun. I probably quote his “blessed silence” line once a week at least, basically every time the world just gets too frantic around me and I manage to get it to shut the hell up for a second.

The issue is not the role but rather that the sage ninja master is often the only role presented for Asian actors to play. Well, I suppose there is the “acrobatic buffoon” and the “good child” struggling to meet the unreasonable expectations of their  “strict traditional” parents but you begin to see the point.

You can’t justify casting women at the expense of actors of color. here’s a thought maybe they could have cast a non-white woman. Oh My God what a fucking notion! Where do I get these wild ideas?

The solution is not just to eliminate these roles or worse stick white people into them. The answer is to stop classifying actors as “normal” and “exotic”.

Take the movie you have seen most recently and ask yourself would it actually have made a lick of difference if the main character had been an actor other that white?

Would anything actually have had to change materially in the plot to accommodate that switch. This is North America and people of all colors do all the same things, eat pizza, go to the movies, work, go to the beach go to sporting events etc. This is not to discount the richness that other cultures bring to the US and Canada and film and tv can and should draw on that in a respectful way and dare I say with people of that culture in the driver’s seat. I think cbc’s “Kim’s Convenience” is a good example of that.

Immigrant stories need to be told and they need to told by the people who own that experience.

I’m simply stating that a scene doesn’t need to take place in a specific culturally stereotyped setting to have actors of color in it. Antman wouldn’t have to have grown up in “the hood” to have been played by an actor of color. No offense to Paul Rudd but I think he could have been replaced with any number of actors of color with absolutely no changes in dialogue or story.

I mean it might have been good to cast his daughter as a person of color and maybe his ex-wife and oh no I think I’ve uncovered the real problem. It’s a slippery slope when you start to add non-white actors then you have to make the families match and then before you know egads you have so many people of color that you’re accurately reflecting the population of the country! Holy shit we don’t want that.

Actually we do want that. We absolutely do. I think it’s time for art to reflect life more but what do I know?

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