For those who are interested (like me!), PsychCentral has a transcript of President Obama’s remarks at the first national mental health conference, yesterday.
Today’s mental health conference at the White House seems to me to be a success. As I’ve mentioned frequently on this blog, I have had to deal with stigma and discrimination related to, particularly, schizophrenia ever since I was diagnosed. Even from educated, liberal people. People who normally don’t walk around openly saying other types of discriminatory things. I spent the entire month of May–Mental Health Awareness Month–being as active as I could in raising awareness about not only my personal illnesses, but others as well.
Today, Obama called on all of us to end mental illness stigma. It brought tears to my eyes. Here’s one of the reports I’ve read on today’s conference.
I was talking with a good friend of mine today about what it’s like to be psychotic. He has bipolar disorder, and has had psychotic episodes. I told him I walked around in a psychotic state for quite some time, and had more severe periods when I was hospitalized. We shared some of our common experiences. Things that other people may never know, because we mostly kept them to ourselves.
For example, when I’ve had psychotic thoughts, they often frighten me, and I become withdrawn. I don’t express all of my thoughts to people. Why would I? I typically feel everyone is plotting against me, conspiring to harm me, and so on.
My friend and I shared some common themes in our psychosis, however.
For example, we each, separately, thought everyone in the psych unit during our hospitalizations were actors.
Each time I have been hospitalized, I have thought the other patients were actors, placed there right before I was admitted. Sometimes, I have thought each of the people in the unit represented someone from my life. Sometimes, I thought I had to figure out some secret code or action in order to be released from the hospital. Once, I thought I had to find and somehow express some color combination in order to be released from the hospital, so I ate copious amounts of grape jelly.
My friend had similar experiences, thinking everyone was an actor, and trying to find patterns or secret codes that would solve whatever plot was going on. We each thought it was interesting how people become psychotic in similar ways sometimes. Our experiences were not identical, but they were enough alike that it was stunning for us. I’m sure many other people have had similar experiences.
Because I tend to keep those thoughts to myself, I thought I’d write a little about them today.
Today, I had a doctor appointment. I had a very comprehensive mental exam. (I’m doing well, by the way.)
One thing that came up during the exam was my shame in not working. What many people don’t know is that people on disability have a deep shame in not working. Even people, like myself, who tried and tried to hold jobs. Even people who physically cannot do practically any job.
I’ve mentioned before that I was careerist all my life. I was. Truly. So, applying for SSI was a concession for me. It was my last resort. I tried many jobs–even low-level, part time jobs–before finally making the move to apply for SSI.
Today, however, my doctor told me something that I thought was appropriate. It was an example of something to be said to a person in my situation.
I told the doctor that I had wanted to work, but that many of my symptoms flare up in the workplace.
She smiled and looked at me and said, “You don’t need to worry about work. You can always find things to do in this life.”
It was a wonderful validation of the fact that my inherent value does not derive from being a worker. I am valuable in my own right. And I can do valuable things without holding a job.
It made me happy to hear someone supportive of that. Because, in fact, I do do things that are not officially “work” but are valuable.
Here’s a neat video that may shock you regarding the distribution of wealth in America. Obviously, I am one of the ones who barely register on the graph. But, it would be interesting for my readers to find out where they register, too.
Yesterday, my brother and I went to the store to get items for our mom’s Mother’s Day dinner. My mom is my hero. She is an amazing woman in her own right. But, also, she has been there for me in my darkest hours, through all my struggles. Talking with people with mental illness, I have found that I am lucky to have had such a supportive mother, who researched and understands my illnesses. She is also a supporter of my blogging and housing fund.
But, yesterday, as well as today, when I went to get her some fresh flowers and a small cheesecake, made me realize that not only does SSI not allow me to live on my own, and buy things I need to survive on my own, it also doesn’t account for holidays, like Mother’s Day.
I had to think hard about the money I spent on her dinner, dessert, and flowers. What, I asked myself, can I go without in order to celebrate how wonderful my mom is? I also went to places with good prices. I would do that, anyway, because I am naturally frugal. But being on SSI makes it much more imperative to buy things at a good price. (I have doctor appointments coming up and medications to buy, after all.)
So, I was able to buy things for a Mother’s Day dinner for my mom. But I will have to go without certain things the rest of the month. I want my mom to know how wonderful I think she is, how much I love her, and I want her to enjoy a nice dinner. She doesn’t require that I buy her anything. She knows I have very little money. But I want her to have her favorite meal. She deserves it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.
This is a really interesting article about types of therapy and attitudes therapists take toward their profession. According to what I’ve read–and this article mentions it–cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is successful in treating many disorders. I’ve mentioned previously that CBT helped me quite a bit with my OCD (although it didn’t cure it).
Have a glance at this article. It’s a good read.
I came across this really good article about homelessness stats. The recession has hit many people hard. But sometimes the way data is collected, or what populations are counted is distorted.
Normally, people don’t think I qualify as “homeless.” This is because I stay in a house. With family.
However, as I’ve mentioned on this blog, neither I nor people in similar situations can actually afford their own place.
I. Am. Homeless.
Have a look at this article to learn more about homelessness.