to this day this person will not speak to me. i gave up trying- it was clear i was a painful reminder to them of their struggle and lack of control over their own being. the heartbreak from this for me was, is, so profound that i tend to avoid close friendships with people. i watched one of the most pure, truest kindest people i have ever known tortured nearly to death by their own mind. all i could do through it all was break down their door and call the cops when they had their head in the oven and a vial of pills in their gut and continually encourage them to find a doctor, a therapist, anyone who could help them recognize and manage the condition tearing them apart. unfortunately, the reality of paranoid schizophrenia is that the illness in all it's self mangling, self defeating glory prevents one from recognizing that there is anything wrong with the damaging perceptions and delusions one holds. when you're depressed, you know it- you may not know what to do about it but you know you feel like shit. when you think that daily someone from Comcast is taking readings from the phone wires outside your bedroom window and then writing secret messages in the dust on your tv screen , it's the gospel truth and no one can convince you otherwise.
i should point out that i was a patient in private psychiatric hospitals for over a year when i was in my early 20s. i am in no way ashamed of this-i care the least what people think of that and generally, from personal experience, they think the worst of you for it. people are more prejudiced and freaked out by anyone who has the gall to admit they were in the nut house than i think they have about someone who was incarcerated for homicide. having strangled babies with your bare hands gets you less worried looks than admitting a tour of the rubber rooms. you're more likely to be denied a gun permit if you admit to having been prescribed antidepressants than if you actually were previously found guilty of a fire arms law violation.
and i must admit i was freaked out at first- to wake up after a suicide attempt and drug overdose to be told i was being transfered to a ' psychiatric care facility'. fuck. great . one flew over the fucking coo coo nest. i am so screwed now. then after about 5 minutes in i realized that inside were the people this vicious cruel unkind world had managed to break emotionally and psychologically- and that the fucks you really should be worried about are the ones still on the outside doing the breaking. i only met one person in all that time who had attempted to harm someone else besides themselves- and they were so crushed with grief and remorse that they paced the ward every night trembling and crying for sorrow at what they had done. the only violence and harm i experienced inside came not from the patients but from the keepers- the jailers , the ' mental health associates' (ma-has), and sundry psych nurses and doctors who were for the most part in my opinion jaded selfish sometimes malicious hacks. most psychiatry as practiced today is a big drug company funded snow job that tends to manufacture more grief than it allays. there are exceptions and good people who do care and try but i think even they admit they mostly sedate people and keep them from harm or from harming and that's all they usually expect of their institution and their staff.
so i have lived in close quarters with schizophrenics, the suicidal, the drug and alcohol addicted( a vast amount of patients were addicts when i was inside. their insurance plans allowed them to use the hospital on almost a revolving door basis. hospitals loved them because it's easy money and easier to ' treat' than those with difficult and entrenched mental illnesses which often defy diagnosis and easy drugging solutions), manic depressives, self mutilators- name the illness and i probably slept on the bed next to it. name a drug and i've probably taken it. as the victim of a severe early childhood trauma, i was just one of those people who didn't want to be alive . perpetually stuck in a damaging and psychically paralyzing experience i could not articulate , i was labeled merely willfully difficult while they spun the magic freudian wheel of diagnosis fortune( really, you'd be shocked at how many freudians were still a kicking in the 1980s) and tried the drug du jour every other week. psych hospitals are a big barn yard full of exotic crazy animals to pump all your new wonder drugs into willy nilly. i became addicted to the sleeping pills they stuffed into us every night so we wouldn't disturb the lazy ass over night mahas. the sheer range of drugs they forced me to take( yes i said force and i mean it) made it so i could not read more than a paragraph at a time for nearly 2 years after my release- and this from someone who used to read a book about every 2 days.
i'm not exactly glad i went through all this but i refuse to disown it or be ashamed of it. there's no way i'm about to disown or be ashamed of anyone i know who has or has had trouble with their head. my best friend at the time i was admitted- who knew nothing whatsoever about my problems and drug use and was in another state when i was committed- completely dropped me as a friend merely because i was in the mental hospital. they actually called me up on the pay phone for the loonies on the psych ward and told me-" look i don't know what to say to you because you're in THERE so i can't really be your friend anymore." this was their response to my letter explaining where i was and what had happened and asking if they'd just have lunch with me on a day pass- because i was trying to re-enter the world and the staff thought i should admit to my friends were i was and try to reconnect.
i never got to say this to you at the time- i was too stunned, hurt and blunted by pharmaceuticals- but fuck you. that has got to be one of the coldest things anyone has ever done to me. i'll take a truck load of zoned out mental patients over some frigid iced over asshole like you any day. it was the empathy and friendship and caring of other patients not my so called friends on the outside who helped me through the hospital, my pain and back into the world alive- people who were in their own spheres of debilitating illness and yet still had it within their hearts to be there for another human. they always had something to say to me. they always listened. they cared- the people no one cares to be associated with.
this is all way more than i wanted to say when i started typing. this isn't exactly where i intended on ending up. the point other than the obvious of the preceding is that i think i've had a brush with someone who has some of the signs associated with clinical mental illness. it's been a slow dawning- i keep thinking is this what the fuck's going on? i don't know.
alogia:poverty of speech( example:Q: how was your day? A: ok. Q:did you go to see that movie? A: yes.Q: was the movie good? A: yes. this goes on for entire conversations. if you've never been involved in an interaction like this- it's really mind numbing and particularly disturbing if you identify that it is something doctors look for in diagnosing certain mental disturbances)- contributes to over all blunting of affect. aloofness. patronizing manner. my friend who was diagnosed didn't admit any delusions until well into the throes of her illness years after onset so you never know. then again it could be alcohol or drugs or a mood disorder. you can worry about people and be concerned but if your concern is seen as an attack, i'm not sure what can be done.