Monday, February 8, 2010

Song of Life

You know it's not going to be good when you take one of those little black shopping totes when you enter Sephora after seeing your psychiatrist.

Yesterday: I went to the Barnes & Noble and bought the Cultural Creatives book because it was only $16 and I decided that would be okay. I skimmed it waiting in Dr. Altman's office and on the way home.

One thing: I doubt I would be willing to go to jail for what I believed in and most likely I couldn't anyhow because I'm on the Geodon and we know what happens to people with schizophrenia who wind up in jail.

Also I continue to read Traveling With Pomegranates and I'm halfway done. Cultural Creatives buy and read more books than most people and attend cultural events in greater numbers too. In that book someone interviewed was quoted to the effect that the ego gets in the way. This was the contention Eckhart Tolle made in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.

Always: I've had a sense of self that guided me to achieve things. The concept of failing didn't occur to me and even if it did it I set out on my merry way regardless. I admit a part of me revels in my achievements. Does that mean I have a big ego?

In ways it doesn't matter to me whether I make a name for myself as there's no glory in mental health activism: you do it because it's the right thing to do and only that.

I wanted to buy the book because I have now another book I'm reading: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert. So I want to wait on reading Cultural Creatives until I finish this book and the Pomegranates one.

What can I do? How can I act? Protest marches aren't my style yet I want to be certain I "walk the talk" as the expression goes. I was approached with a request to join someone in advocating for better and safer atypicals and I'm at a loss for what can actually be done. Government research dollars would need to be freed up for this effort. Could I send a letter to my elected officials? The three key factors beside education are research, research, research when it comes to making things better for people living with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

I feel like Isabella Rossellini who in an interview lamented that so many people made demands for her time and she could only give the interviewer two hours. Possibly I have to concede that all I do is good enough and there's not much more I can do. How many people face the dilemma of doing too much? I wonder.

A friend said one thing that needs to change is that people keep saying the mental health system is broken yet nothing has been done to fix it. True enough. Yet I cannot stand on the side of people who are against forced treatment because sometimes that is necessary and the death of Esmin Green should not be a deterrent to getting people the help they need. I'm as shocked and outraged as anyone however my contention is: if you have schizophrenia you'd better well take your medication you have no right pushing a woman in front of a subway train. What about Kendra Webdale's civil liberties? So I couldn't allow Kendra's Law [requiring forced treatment] to sunset in 2010. All the civil liberties folk rail against forced treatment well if I hadn't been hospitalized against my will the second time I would be dead. Case closed. Andrew Goldstein did not have the right to kill someone folks so get out of the way and let people be treated with drugs for their medical condition.

The laws are not perfect however in the absence of the laws there would be chaos. More than that the billions we spend on mental health might reach into the trillions if we allowed people their "rights" to go off their meds and decompensate and go off their meds again and further deteriorate.

My contention is that when you are diagnosed with schizophrenia and have to take medication to be able to function well, you give up certain rights: namely, the right to do as you please and not take your medication. I believe it is part of the social covenant each one of us has with everyone else in the world that we do the right thing not what we feel like doing. So Mad Pride and the Icarus Project can champion their right to be crazy and it holds no sway with me.

Mental illnesses are not "dangerous gifts" they are real diseases and require treatment with medication.

I'm sorry but I gave up my rights a long time ago when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The one thing I did not give up was my right to have a good life. That is what taking the Geodon does: enables me to have the kind of life worth living.

Now I do believe that some people can be what a friend calls "crazy as a jaybird" and still function in society. However that is not everyone and for the great majority of people with mental illnesses we need to take some form of pills.

OK: a person could go off his meds once to see if he can live without them however if he cannot that's not an experiment you want to keep trying. I grant it that this is a natural desire and it's perfectly reasonable to want to see if you can function without the meds. Most of the time this doesn't work, OK?

Because. I'm not. The kind of person. Who would settle for less. Another life awaits me when I go back to school. Which would not. Be possible. Without medication.

I think I've made my point and there's no need to belabor it.


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