I went to a seminar led by a visiting professor the other day, and the speaker opened with something close to this: “I do electrophysiological research in the spinal cord and work on new imaging technology, and I am also the head of the University Center for Mental Health, so I guess you could say I am schizophrenic—I basically have two personalities.” This was his attempt to open with a joke, and he got a weak round of laughter for his efforts.
It’s hard for me to decide which part of this sentence needs to be trashed first—the part where he seems to believe that schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder are the same thing (they are not), the part where he seems to think that having two jobs is at all similar to having two personalities (it’s not), or the part where the head of the University Center for Mental Health thinks that schizophrenia is the punchline to a joke. It’s not.
Some excellent thoughts on ableism in academia, and especially in my field, written by a friend of mine. These things are not okay, and I think her point about how the way we talk about mental illness to get grants to study it is exclusionary. Mentally ill people can, in fact, be doing cutting edge research. They can even do cutting edge research on mental illness. They could even be doing cutting edge research on the very mental illness that they have. There’s this pervasive idea that in order to be “really” mentally ill, you have to be completely incapable of functioning in any kind of society.
Here’s a story: my dad has told me many times that he doesn’t consider me mentally ill. I have 4 psychiatric diagnoses (ADHD, depression, panic disorder, dermatillomania), and take 3 psychoactive medications (concerta, effexor, and revia). I get accommodations from disability services readily when my doctor writes a simple letter explaining my diagnoses. I am mentally ill. First of all, it’s up to me to decide if that is a term I want to apply to myself, but secondly, I do not have to meet some arbitrary level of perceived impairment to have a claim to that title. I have gotten in to a very rigorous and competitive graduate program at one of the top schools nationwide for what I want to study. I graduated from college with a degree in neuroscience from one of the best schools in the country for that field. I can drive a car, I have friends and a social life, I can go into most settings and meet societal expectations of what appropriate behavior is. I am not a danger to others, or afflicted by some kind of nondescript madness that makes me incompatible with social interactions with neurotypical people. But I am still mentally ill. My mental illness affects how I have gotten to where I am now- some things have been harder for me, and I’ve had to make my own routes through other things because the path neurotypical people follow is inaccessible to me. For that reason, my mental illness is a relevant factor in my life, and a label that I choose to carry with me. I have still gotten to where I am, and will continue to go where I want to. My mental illnesses have not proven prohibitive; simply complicated. And I’m definitely, definitely not the only one.
Basically, now I’m ranting about what Claire said: “This way of talking about disorders in education, this “us normals” vs “them disordered,” is especially insidious, because the implication is that anybody with the disorder of interest could not possibly be in that room, because people with mental disorders cannot be successful or driven enough to get PhDs (or law degrees, or MDs, or business degrees, or BAs, etc.).”
Why do we still want to believe that people have to be permanently institutionalized and unable to make any progress towards management of their mental illness to be “really” mentally ill? And why do we still want to believe people who do suffer from severe and debilitating mental illness have nothing to offer, and are suitable punch lines?
Ah this is the hardest part, honestly. If you have a general practitioner/family doctor/pretty much any medical professional that you trust, you could start by approaching them to get started. At least in the US medical education, most people are required to do rotations in all specialties, including mental health, so while they may not be specialists in mental health, they have at least some idea of what to do to get started. And if you know and trust them, they may be able to help you devise a strategy of how to approach getting help, or even help refer you to a specialist, which may give you a certain amount of confidence as they know you.
Another thing you can do is bring a friend or a family member to an appointment. They can just wait in the waiting room with you, or they can even come in with you to the appointment. You can debrief them on what you want to talk to the psychiatrist about beforehand, so if you stall out from anxiety, they can help fill in some blanks. My first appointment with a psychiatrist was with both of my parents, so when I couldn’t deal, they could. The psychiatrist also was able to direct some questions to them when I was visibly overwhelmed by having all the focus on me.
Some people are also willing to work with you primarily over the phone, if that’s something you’re interested in. My mom worked with a social worker primarily over the phone. Situations like that can be a bit more complex to work out if medication is something you think will be valuable in your treatment, but ultimately what you need is a mental health professional to diagnose you, and a doctor to prescribe and monitor your medications- there is no rule saying that these two people must be the same person. My pediatrician monitored my ADHD medication for 6 years after I had a single diagnostic appointment with a psychiatrist.
I hope this helps! Good luck, and if there’s any support I can offer you, don’t hesitate to let me know!
Hello people who probably forgot to unfollow this blog because I never post here anymore. I’m posting here now because a bunch of my boyfriends friends follow me on my regular blog and I don’t feel like it would be fair to post this and expect them not to freak out.
It’s just. Okay how did I get so much anhedonia? It’s basically like apathy the way depression is like being sad. How the fuck did I get here? Because now that I’m here I feel like I’m just going to be stuck here until one day I’m not and I have no control over it. I am finding myself feeling like everything I do is just “going through the motions” and even when I try to do self care things they feel forced. I don’t remember the last time I felt actively happy but it was over a month ago.
And it’s fucking with my relationship because I keep feeling like if I’m not happy then it’s not a good relationship. But then maybe that’s wrong and maybe it’s a fine relationship but I can’t feel things right. But right now I’m just annoyed at like 2/3 of the things he does (the remaining 1/3 I recognize as objectively wonderful but I still can’t make myself feel it) and I just want some space which would be fine if I thought that would actually do anything other than hurt him and make him feel like he has to prove himself to me.
I don’t know I just don’t care about things, and when I find things that might actually make me happy, I don’t do them because they take effort/cost money/ aren’t as easy as rewatching teen wolf and hating myself for not doing schoolwork. I don’t know if this is coming from anywhere so I’m gonna tag this with some vaguely related stuff in hopes that it catches someone’s eye who knows how to deal, because I sure as fuck don’t.
Hello friends! My pharmacy just got a new manufacturer for IC Methylphenidate ER (generic concerta) and I thought I’d try to get the word out. Google will not help you and my pill bottle didn’t have a description of what the medicine was supposed to look like. So, at least according to my pharmacists, this is a 36mg pill of generic concerta. They said they just got it in within the last month. I don’t know how widespread this is, but man was I confused- Google showed me a bunch of things that were not this, and my pills looked different. I went back and asked them to be sure.
As always, I’m not a medical professional or anything, just a concerned ADHD-er who thought she might be able to save someone a drive to the pharmacy maybe, or at least a little anxiety.
One of the SERIOUS BUSINESS REALLY BAD SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING side effects of stimulants (according to my pediatrician when I was 13 so you know, I guess it could be wrong) is blurry vision.
Now, I’ve been on concerta for almost a year and a half and it’s practically a wonder drug. Other than the totally missing appetite and slightly raised heart rate, I’ve had no problems. Side effects show up pretty quickly.
But my eyesight has been blurry for the past couple of days. And I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t slept a full night in over a week, or if it’s because I don’t take my contacts out enough frequently enough, or if it’s because I just have bad eyes and always have, or if it’s the SERIOUS BUSINESS REALLY BAD SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING scenarios that my pediatrician (who had the demeanor of a sad and high guy who wasn’t totally into kids but was doing the best he could [and to be fair this was in his later years after his fourth divorce, and it’s possible that he was just better with younger kids anyway] but basically he was sluggish and chilled out all the time) beat into my head to be afraid of. I mean sudden animation “if that ever happens ever you call an ambulance right then, do you hear me chelsea?” style beating into my head.
And like, I should go see a doctor, probably. No scratch that, I know I should. Only which one? Do I go to an ER and hope they refer me to the right person, or to an optometrist to get my eyes checked, or to my psychiatrist to get off my wonder drug? I don’t fuckin’ know.
So I think right now my plan is to try to sleep better tonight, and to deal with it after my anatomy test Tuesday. But like, this shit is actually really concerning. Like, I was messaging my boyfriend on facebook last night, and I couldn’t see enough to check what I typed on the screen- the letter were too blurry. It’s not always that bad, but sometimes it is. I’m gonna go take my contacts out and put on my glasses, and then get back to work.
(ps how messed up is it that i’m still putting my grades ahead of my physical wellbeing? thats not okay i should stop that)
(pps my family has so many doctors, and i’m going to be a nurse, why am i this resistant to going to doctors? i’m totally cool with mental health doctors, counselors, etc, but other doctors are like a thing I put off forever. i had a huge migraine a year ago at a wedding, and had to lie down on the ground outside during the toasts and some dancing because i couldn’t deal and i still have “call doctor about migraines” on my to do list from then.)
TIME TO LISTEN UP! I get a lot of asks from people who have Trichotillomania, dermatillomania, nervous habits, nail biting problems and anxiety issues that make them harm their body in an effort to relieve stress. If you do any of those things, you should be paying attention to this post.
This is not a cure, this is a way to help you keep your hands busy.
Remember, idle hands pull strands!!
a spinner ring is a two part ring. The base band and the free spinning band. You can put it on a finger while you’re reading and have a free hand and keep that hand busy by spinning it with your thumb, or you can use both hands. It really helps keep your hands busy.
This ring cost me 12 dollars at the Trichotillomania Learning Center site.
Go do yourself a favor and get one- it has helped me so much.
this startled me to come up on my dash because it’s relevant since i’ve been picking at myself lately since i have a lot of bugbites and things and ugh
this is one of those things i really should get for myself at some point haha j oj
Chelsea, I am reblogging this for you!
I’m having problems eating again. It’s not just when my meds are in effect either. I lost like 30 pounds in the last 6 months, which isn’t too unhealthy when you consider that it was all weight that I’d put on in the 6 months prior to that, and when you consider that it was all weight that my body didn’t want, but still.
(fyi: bodies defend a set weight that is pretty hard to change. so if you gain weight fast, you’ll drop it fast because your body doesn’t want it, or vice versa)
I keep thinking of this line from Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Wintergirls” about “my tiny pink mouse stomach was happy.” which is how the main character who has anorexia sees it- her stomach is small and pink and clean and adding food in dirties it and makes it unhappy. And, dude, that book is in no way a positive endorsement for eating disorders. It starts with the MC’s best friend dying of complications from bulimia. It’s clearly told from the point of view of someone who has totally detached from reality. The fact that I’m nodding along with this narrator is freaking me out.
My work/class schedule makes it easy to skip meals, or live on whatever I can store in my car. I have class from 11:30-12:25, so by the time I’m home I’m past lunch time. Some days I have lab from 12:45-3:40 so yeah. And then I work at 5 every night as a waitress through dinner and closing (around 11) so it’s easy to skip dinner. I’m basically living on breakfast burritos (when I convince myself to eat them) and chips and salsa. Sometimes ice cream. On weekends at least I’m visiting my boyfriend a lot, and he eats like a real person more often than I do, and I don’t want to drop my crazy food stuff on his head now, so I have to play along.
ugh i have more shit to say about life but right now this is just bad news bears and it’s 3 AM so I have no filter and also should probably go to sleep. I don’t really know what anyone can say, because it’s not like I’m sitting around wanting to eat and not being able to. It’s that I’m choosing not to even when I could and that’s not good.
I made another thing.
As someone with Panic Disorder, I really appreciate this post.
Do not touch them unless they give you permission and don’t tell them to calm down are so important! When I have panic attacks and people (usually strangers) do this, it makes my panic worse.
This is so very useful.
As someone who has these often…. This post is 100% accurate and should be read by everyone.
so so so so so so great.
I’m doing a quiz which determines whether you’re left or right brained, and the question is which sounds more like you “I prefer routines and structure.” or “I enjoy freedom and flexibility.”
And like, what the hell am I supposed to answer - because I crave structure, but my ADD means the moment I have it I stop using it because
So, I’m just sitting here laughing
oh man yes this