In case you lose the links, here they are for posterity.
If depression is a dark cloud, then schizophrenia is a black box.
It isn’t just what sufferers of schizophrenia go through during psychosis that makes schizophrenia opaque and impenetrable; it is also that during remission, as psychiatrists try to reassure their patients of a total recovery, reality means functionality does not match up with the supposed recovery. There is still a suffering, stigmata, and the daily survival of negative and enduring symptoms such as paranoia, intrusive thoughts, and reduced cognitive functioning. Even watching new releases on the wonderful Disney channel, while your prefrontal cortex doesn’t budge, cannot address these symptoms sufficiently.
In other words, what is it that we want? We can, with effort, manage to bathe every third day, take out the composting every tenth, maybe do something more creative other than watching Netflix, such as colour in a traced drawing or bake bread. Isn’t that enough? Why are we so unhappy? Why are we asking for more when we don’t know specifically what that vague “more” is? Why can’t we be satisfied with “enough”?
Some of those who gravitate to the political right and don’t either have a relative with schizophrenia, yet—nor will address with sympathy what is already happening in their community—call us “filthy rich pensioners”. The fact is that the right-winged provincial Liberals froze our disability income for 16 years while in power, and while it is true that money can only buy sex and ads instead of love and support, it seems that increases in money is all that has changed for the better for us. Stigma still tinges the way nearly everyone interacts with schizophrenics. Even in being kind, people without schizophrenia in their family are still condescending and want to end interaction as fast as possible. If we do not tell others off the bat that we have schizophrenia, they feel deceived when we do tell them we have schizophrenia. But if we tell them in the very first utterance, they mistake us for violent psychopaths, which actually isn’t even something true psychopaths can be blamed for—just restrained. Basically, social interaction in the west coast of Canada is about rejection or acceptance. They want to know so they can reject you straight off the bat instead of wasting their time in figuring you out. Seriously, don’t waste their time. Many are social-climbers after all. They’ve got things to do and places to go. None of them wants to befriend a loser. (I am speaking on their assumed behalf.)
So what gives? Why make a diatribe about the way we suffer, which, put side-to-side with Third World countries, as the former Liberal MLA, Rich Coleman stated in 2013, isn’t even suffering by comparison? Well, Third World countries are still classified as third-world because of the unbearable poverty and deprivation that most of our detractors have acknowledged is terrible. The fact that they wish to compare the standard of living that schizophrenic citizens of his own first-world country have to the standards of the Third World is shocking. I don’t know of any comparison in the First World that is more oppressive than that except for a total dystopia. (Oh, well, we are not as badly off as the precincts in “The Hunger Games”, or as Gilead in the “The Handmaid’s Tale”, duh.) The one thing I noticed is that nobody will give a damn until their own son or daughter becomes like one of us. Is that really what it is going to take? (And when it happens, do you really think we’ll be around to help you or your kids?) And yes, according to the Penticton Herald, Rich Coleman knows very little about suffering these days as he retires with a pension of $109,000 per annum until it accrues to 2.6 million at a fine age of 85. This ex-deputy premier from 2012-17 for the provincial BC Liberals didn’t give a hoot and now couldn’t be bothered by the plight of people like us. So much for the agenda of BC Liberals.
You can corral, cull and kill us all through euthanasia but it won’t stop the march of the disease. As it is abundantly over-stated, “schizophrenia affects 1% of the population” and does not know race, creed, class, character or credentials. It also doesn’t know age. You could possibly be 8 or 80 and still have psychosis lurking around the corner during those 72 years. Even if you were to cull us, new cases will pop up. Just because you got rid of the existing DNA (mind you, most of us schizos are too smart to breed more of us), it won’t stop the disease. It is mis-wiring in the human brain, unknown yet as to how it became that way, and has been around since recorded history. If you believe the Christian Bible even as just a long-standing book that records stories, you’ll see how King David, then a captured youth, saved himself from certain death by acting the madman. The enemy leader asked, “have I not got enough madmen in my kingdom to deal with? Put him out of my presence!” [My paraphrase]. Psychosis, and it’s stigma, has been around us for a very long time. It would have had to have been by virtue of the use of this tactic and its efficacy.
I guess you can keep on killing us either by culling or impoverishment. You can use the stop-gap, fix-the-broken-window method indefinitely even as you detect rogue DNA while still in the womb. Or you can kill us slowly through deprivation. You could achieve this by putting us back into Riverview, or do what some have suggested: put us in resort area that will effectively be like an expanded, long-term care unit, until out-of-sight-out-of-mind gives you complacency, or worse, uneasy peace.
You are uneasy not only because of your conscience. You are uneasy because it could happen to your kids, because you did not do due diligence or care enough to look for a preventable vaccine or a cure. Oh now look, what has just happened?
©️Vic Young 2020-2021 All Rights Reserved
So much has exploded in the news lately about systemic discrimination of every stripe and polka dot that I felt someone from the silent 25% had to weigh in. One in four Canadians and Americans are mentally ill. Hold on, hold on. Before you click the X, consider this: One in every four of your family, friends, colleagues and other acquaintances have, or have the potential to have, mental health illnesses or conditions. We don’t like to advertise it (OK, so I’m a bit weird that way), but this isn’t Complex PTSD which is what is all the rage these days in the news about COVID survivors. It’s the pre-existing, age-old, persistent, pervasive, and always discreetly disrespected, illnesses like Depression, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality, and all the inglorious incarnations listed in the DSM-V. They are brutal, nasty, and incurable.
There are no known cures. Imagine. You have a rough start in life because, as most of these illnesses go, genetics and environment rule your fate. You learn through observation and immense self-control to keep it together until you hit the first break from reality. It could happen at six, thirteen or twenty-five. It doesn’t matter in terms of stigma. You are FUBAR. Rough, hey? Oh wait, let me elaborate on that acronym. You suffer from a brain disease that ravages your ability to think, feel and act. To your family, you are a burden. To employers, useless. To society, you’re a perceived menace. It doesn’t matter how well you performed on your entrance exams to university. It doesn’t matter how popular you were in high school. It doesn’t matter if you’re naturally gifted and turned those talents into transferable skills. The label “CRAZY” is all people look for when they try to schuss you out. They want to know if you’re crazy right away because then they have the option to reject you. Or, if they’re less than righteous, they take advantage of you. Life after CRAZY destroys every shred of social approval and dignity you might have had, previously.
But the problem is not just that people hate you or don’t give you a chance; it’s that while other pariah groups are given a voice, given multinational coverage, and given hundreds of hours every month with a platform to air grievances, crazy people only given a byline, a royal assent, or 5 seconds of an anchorperson saying “Please support the mentally ill. It’s important. Too many people suffer in silence.” Then, nothing. No follow up. No effort. Texting for raising awareness by donating 5Cents of every text to mental health groups doesn’t help either. We need to de-stigmatize these illnesses and escalate in finding science-based cures. Right now or at least before COVID-19, the emphasis was on cosmetic changes to older drugs, like turning a pill into a wafer, an injectable. or a sublingual, form. Why cosmetic changes? Why would a drug company pay good money for a cure that kills their cash cow? A cure would destroy their bottom line. Maintenance rather than a cure costs taxpayers and private insurance, out of pocket expenses billions each year. And profiting off of that is far more lucrative than using company money to find a cure—only to have to then stop to their reliable income stream. It’s not Big Pharma; it’s Smart Pharma.
Let’s face it. Mental illness is not a sexy issue. Star athletes will give a small boost to kids’ hospitals. People run pledged marathons for cancer. Mental health? Oh, well, the dedicated facilities for that in a country as advanced as Canada will only triage the very discombobulated or those with comorbidities, i.e. are drug addicted and in distress. The walk-ins who self-identify as medicated mentally ill, who look perfectly fine but are suffering still, are considered the walking wounded…falling through the cracks of the system as they lead compliant but desperate lives. They may never end their lives through suicide. They may never commit any crime. They may even finally go back to university to finish a degree. What’s their problem? Well, they think every small noise is their landlord upstairs talking about them. They can’t go through one day without ending up unhappy. First-World Problems, you reply. So we suffer in silence, wishing for an end to our lives not by suicide or aggravation, but just an end so it stops all the damn trauma that happens in our heads as soon as we wake up until we go to bed.
Of course, I don’t expect you to care or give us the time of day. You’re too busy. You don’t have time for all this. And most of you are faith-based in some way. Yay. After all, we deserve everything we get, as one religious blogger said of the mentally ill. I wonder if his opinion would alter much if it happened to his kids.
©2020-2021 Vic Young All Rights Reserved
In less exceptional times, when people practiced social welcoming, there was always the outlier: the schizophrenic. You know, that lurking, dark presence that seemed so out of place with his restlessness and psychotic staring. You never knew if he was ready to jump you or jump in front of a moving truck. You just wanted to get the hell away.
That’s the ultimate social distancing. Not this wussy I-feel-so-sorry-for-myself-because-I-have-to-be-quaranteened-fourteen-days gig. Try fourteen years. Or in my case, try going on thirty.
There is nothing like social distancing to trigger the resentment of a person with schizophrenia. While you stand on your balconies to bang pots and catcall first responders, we stay inside—mindful that your attempts at socializing probably doesn’t apply to us, anyways.
We know you don’t want us around. We know you don’t want us to even pop out onto the balcony to stick out like a sore thumb in your solidarity within social distancing. You wish us away. Even our lit and curtained balcony window stands out to you as an anathema, a rebuke within its expected and sanctioned place in the pecking order. You wish us dead or institutionalized.
That is the problem with the dearth of eugenic planning. You don’t prevent this while in the womb or egg or sperm; you get a lifetime of trouble, instead. It should be universal knowledge now that schizophrenia has no evolutionary purpose, no religious blessing, no ontological meaning. It is simply a bad, genetic/epidemiological defect. It should be dealt with in the womb, or tested in the genome of each person, so as not to proliferate through procreation. Once your child has it, s/he has it. Then to add insult to injury, literally, they are reviled, bullied, beaten, misunderstood, stigmatized, and condemned to a lifetime of isolation on top of the ravages of the illness. It is, simply speaking, vile, social neglect.
So if you think 14 or 28 days is a loooooong time, just pray and hope in your agnosticism that you kids or grandkids won’t get a thirty year sentence of schizophrenia. Or even you, yourself or your S.O. It would be such a pity.
©️Vic Young 2020-2021 All Rights Reserved
“Please note that X Counselling does not have the resources needed to support clients who have an active addiction, are mandated by the courts, have acute trauma, are suicidal, have a diagnosis of a severe personality disorder or a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other major mental illness, have a recent (less than 2 years) history of psychotic episodes or hospitalization, or have very severe depressive or anxiety symptoms that prevent the client from attending work/school, or significantly interferes with usual eating or sleeping patterns.
We do not provide ongoing counselling for chronic or recurring mental health issues.”
Well, to be frank, I didn’t want them either. Now, I really don’t want them. Not wanted. No, they’re not.
The question remains “Who will take care of the mentally ill?” Especially, if the Access & Assessment Centre at the Joe Segal Family Clinic won’t unless you’re high on drugs or actively psychotic or have tried suicide in the last 45 minutes? They won’t triage a distressed schizophrenic with first world problems. (Sorry, we DO live in Canada?)
I call in because I have chronic issues of depression and negative symptoms and suddenly, I’m not acceptable for triaging? Go home? After 3 hours of waiting? Come back? Well at least they had the decency to tell me over the phone not to bother coming—twice. See, no one in the Lower Mainland will see an emotionally disturbed, stress-adverse schizophrenic who doesn’t pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. The system is stretched and the people who are supposed to help send you on a runaround.
I’ve wondered whether they would question me on my self-therapy through craft-making. I’ve been in love with paper crafts for years. I was once boarding a bus with some top-notch paper (Here, it’s either that or cheap paper that bleed or fade. This loud woman in sassy heels and heavy makeup, yelled out, “Did you see that girl? She has a welfare bus pass and has art paper with her, and it’s the expensive kind!” I was so embarrassed. I slunk into my seat a bit lower. Honestly, if I have no therapist, the AAC won’t see me, and my GP isn’t trained to do mental health therapy, to whom do I turn? People in my city can actually be quite mean for being called Canadians. I wanted to go up to her and take my paper blunted pencil out, and shove it in front of her meticulously made-up face, and say, “THIS IS MY THERPAIST.” But, I resisted that temptation. Aggression by a drunk idiot is excusable in these parts. Aggression by a mentally imbalanced person carry a lifetime of consequences and is by default, your burden.
So, with my expensive paper and even more expensive tools, I started quilling. In fact, I’ve gotten good reviews on facebook. I even had my first customized request. I don’t call it a commission. I did it for free. The recipient was so happy with it that she gave me a big hug and words of gratitude. Isn’t that the best kind of therapy? The least harmful? In keeping with the Hippocratic oath, which that career bus slut probably didn’t know about, I am, by keeping well, doing the therapy a therapist would do. My expensive paper actually saved the biatch and all taxpayers “real” therapy money ($195/hour every two weeks), just not mine. In the end, everybody wins. What’s the problem, Madame?
You know, having said all that, I remember watching a program that featured published authors, where one interviewee was a writer researching “the clinically insane” and the attitudes towards the mentally ill, as well as the manifestations of the illnesses in patients. She studied the medieval times, when records of biological topics became more reliable, up until her present time. She mentioned with a lilt of surprise in her voice that “you want to know something? So-called insanity and its manifestations have not changed much at all over millennia. What’s even more interesting is that societal attitudes towards mental illness hasn’t changed at all or very little.” (My paraphrase.) Interesting? Surprising? Nay, it’s downright discouraging and defeating. But yeah, if you want to pique it, observe it as a social scientist. Hard to do as someone with the illness, but, heck, we’re used to cognitive dissonance and entertaining two opposing thoughts at the same time. (How else do you think I passed three years of IB English?)
I’m convinced that I am going to heaven at the point of death sometime far in the future. Why? Because every preacher who preaches makes the schizophrenic an exception to their preaching. Yes, both Billy Graham and A.W. Tower mention it specifically in their sermons. So, though I’m circumspect, I am glad I know that now. That mention of exclusion can also be noted in speeches made by motivational speakers, instructors, mentors, well-meaning relatives, etcetera. I can just give up on money management gurus and any kind of normal instructional pep talk because even these speakers make exceptions for us by saying, “We’re not talking about the mentally ill or psychotics.” O.K. I get it. So now I can turn you all off and listen to my gut and heart. And my religion goes as far as praying and worshiping, both privately. My witness doesn’t count, not only because I am female, but because my experience is exempt from qualifying for normal discourse. So go away. I am not listening to what to me is literally nonsensical, even by your standards.
Why is mental health such a hot button for me? Because I know no matter how much I impress you, once I say I’m Paranoid Schizophrenic, all my other excellent attributes become enshrouded under the pall of dismissal. The real question is, what if this happened to you?
©️Vic Young 2020-2021 All Rights Reserved
Political correctness doesn’t always mean respect. Sometimes, it just means replacing one set of customs with another under the guise of benevolence—almost always coercively.
A couple of Christmases ago a “professional” musician and her sidekick tried not only to rewrite “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but attempted to ban the original version as symbolic of the Me Too movement’s definition of sexual harassment. It is not. It is negotiating banter between two consenting adults with one party worried about how it would look or turn out. Not at all surprising for the 40s when this song was written and much prurience existed in the gossip and legal consequences of dating Americans. Abortion was criminalized then, and contraceptives illegal in most states.
Written by Frank Loesser in 1944 to be sung originally with his wife at evening parties among friends, it had run into seeming setbacks in 1949 when, popularized, NBC thought the lyrics too racy for the air. A re-evaluation found no prurience and the song soared in popularity into this century as one of the best 100 songs of all time.
How people interpret the 1944 song’s material or context is their right. But banning something from the airwaves and then replacing it with a graceless version of the same song, in the name of “mutual respect”, is, at best, laughable.
But it wasn’t just the absurdity of it; I immediately went to download the original song from my music provider because, well, NOBODY tells ME what to do. I resent any heavy-handed attempt to dictate what I could or could not consume. Offering a new version would have been more welcome if it wasn’t done in such a patronizing and paternalistic manner. Ironically, the songstress was aiming at the same vault that institutionalized harrassment she presumably so opposes has done from the very beginning: coercion.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Scorpio. Maybe my father didn’t hit me hard enough growing up. My point is, it isn’t the way of democracy to decide what materials citizens get to access. Although far from perfect, our Canadian way up north doesn’t include writing out histories, opinions, or facts. It certainly doesn’t mandate what we have to listen to, or not at all. Musical pieces are part of history. It’s OK to provide alternate opportunities, but it should remain just that: an alternate opportunity. If it had been well-written, I even might have gotten to like the new PC version and switched. Now, they’ve shot themselves in the foot by attempting not to give me a chance, literally.
The only acceptable reason I can ascertain (if you could call the least degree of stupidity relatively smart) as to why they’d attempt to ban from and replace it on the airwaves is because they wanted to capitalize in dollars what the MeToo movement could almost only do in sensation. In other words, they were financially opportunistic. If she did have honourable motives, then it was stupidly handled. I am a feminist. Feminism is about liberation, yes? Well, no man or woman tells me what to do. Ergo, if I don’t adhere, I support harassment. Having my fem-sister tell me what I can’t listen to, especially under the guise of upholding the values of the MeToo movement, is manipulative.
I must assume, for my sanity’s sake, that this artist was doing it for the money. The sheer stupidity that the idea this woman had to record and plug her song as the only version that a good feminist would ever listen to makes me go blind and deaf with rage and disgust. Chica-sis, the sex wars may never blow over, but you lost this battle. ~V
©️Vic Young 2020-2021 All Rights Reserved
In our day and age, the one conclusion I’ve come to is that it is possible to interpret the present times as one where there is no authority higher than ourselves. With existentialism being passé and Romanticism being junked for cold, hard reality, we are living in a Zeitgeist where the individual self-references. Is it good for me? What do I think? What do I believe? Isn’t God’s Word just so boring and irrelevant? Wait a minute…that is existentialism and Romanticism. Eh?
We live in a world full of rhetorical questions. The oppression we see across the world countered by our own “do-what-feels-good” makes the intelligent woman or man question the validity of rules, laws, regulations, commandments, and even truth, itself. “Fake, fake, fake!” cry the counter-media. But there are deeper questions than what can be tweeted in 280 characters. The question might be, if our border allows all those within it to do this thing, then why would I be persecuted when crossing the imaginary line to the next country? Aren’t there absolutes? Aren’t there any fixed points of reference? What exactly is a universal, human right? When does it apply when the “authorities” of the land says it does not? Or what do we do and whom do we believe when the very Nobel-winning face of a champion of human rights allows for so many deaths, so much suffering, and reprehensible ethnic persecution? Are we being fooled? And how do we know when to trust a leader, even if she is a “Canadian” three times over? But as we will see, such questions most likely will not find answers. The all media (pro-, con-, or alt-) not only does not see everything; more precisely, it does not see all angles, and it does not present objectively all of the time.
I had the same problem when watching what was touted as objective reporting. I still don’t know when our civic and national news centres are feeding us a spin or exaggerating the sins of important people. I mean, how much of the truth can you really pack in a sound byte? We all know that recording a history of something, someplace, or someone is fraught with problems about its veracity. People forget. People lie. People have an agenda. People have loyalties. People have no loyalties. People are patronized by certain groups or by the wealthy and the powerful. People might have a gun to their head or their families may be in jeopardy. People are misguided. The list of possibilities continues. The point is, history itself isn’t objective, and nobody knows what really happened since we take it by artifacts and theories and hearsay. Even historians can’t tell at that moment of action because of the vast scope of unknowns, of which they only know their own point of view. Sure, we can synthesize, but synthesis implies “artificially” stitching disparate parts together that overlap somewhere, at times. Reality is not knowable; we simply weren’t there, nor at all possible angles.
It is the same with reporting. Nothing is knowable. Well, ok, that a man was shot point blank in the chest, while being pinned down, and that he was black and the officer who shot him was white, we can literally see that, nowadays. We can even watch little white guys in sunglasses gang up and choke a big, black man to death even when he’s done nothing criminally reprehensible or provable but have a short rap sheet of petty crime and saying he couldn’t breathe. We can watch systematic racism in a democratic nation as people of Hispanic and African origins are deported, while the British, the French, the Italians, the Slavs—all Caucasian races—breathe a collective sigh of relief. After all, as one policeman put it while being recorded by his own dash cam while stopping a frightened Caucasian couple for speeding, that they weren’t to worry; they should know from the news that “we only go after blacks.”
Is God interested in our lives? Furthermore, is there something inherently wrong with that paradigm? I experimented, for about half a day, with the thought that perhaps no leader, no authority figure, no clergy or family member, is above me. I am my own highest authority. I felt very uncomfortably out of my skin while trying to live that out. By the end of the day, I was back in my shell, begging God to please forgive me for erroneous thinking, much of which was influenced by seeds sown by my betters and by the situation of the free world. We can depend on “sunny ways”, yet the law is the law. We have tremendous freedoms, if we stay within current mores. We have a nation rich in tolerance and diversity, but now the PM has appointed his childhood chum to have vague and overarching powers over the “misinformation” espoused by “third parties and advocacy groups.” Then he appointed enough friends of this friend’s to be members of the Supreme Court Justice to ensure his brand of justice from the highest and entirely “independent “ level: the judiciary.
Does anyone else see how much power has slowly been sucked up by the PM and his cronies? Within a social democracy and constitutional monarchy, we are guaranteed freedom of speech. It is still touted, but it is no longer as a Canadian reality. Slowly, we are experiencing the erosion of this Canadian value as cronyism does its dirty deed to concentrate the ultimate powers in this land into the hands of the ruling few. It is an oligarchy. No Canadian is guaranteed the contents of Charter of Rights signed in the last century by Pierre Elliot Trudeau in front of Her Majesty The Queen. We do not have a true democracy. It is a muted, tone-deaf democracy that may be well-meant, but not well-expressed.
You know, at the end of the day, we can witness for ourselves by the wrangling on the international stage that it is the man, yes—man, with the most powerful gun/nuke who is the ultimate authority figure. By extension, I can see the day when all hell breaks loose and we devolve into tribal warfare. This world is not heading into a very good way. I hope most of us still remember to say our night-time “Now, I lay me down to sleep” prayer, because it looks like now we’re going to need it more than ever.
©️Vic Young 2020-2021 All Rights Reserved
I’m the kind of person that only learns from a good scolding. My parents figured that out long ago, and, to this day, they still use it though sparingly. When some people in your life act adversarially, don’t worry, they’re telling you the truth—about yourself.
For instance, I did not quite catch on to the truth about credit, though I could recite the golden rule of compounding interest. It wasn’t until the checkout woman at the clothing store watched me swap from using my debit card to my credit card that she commented, “Credit? That just means you pay now or pay later.” She didn’t like me much, and yet, she woke me up to the evils of credit. Without that unpleasant exchange, I would not have embarked on my angst over being in debt.
Why is this so crucial? Your enemies are trying to hurt you. They pick on your weaknesses to do this. This helps, believe it or not, because you need to have your weaknesses exposed constructively to grow. Constructive doesn’t mean coddling. It doesn’t mean positive reinforcement. It means what will reach you at your core so that you change. For me, it takes disciplining and scolding. That is simply my personality. I don’t think much when someone says something positive or when I’m complimented. I double-take, though, when someone is negative. Somehow, that is a method of learning that works really well for someone as stubborn and narcissistic as myself. Well, I must not be that stubborn and narcissistic if I can change with discipline.
One thing that discipline does which people like me find difficult is that it puts you in your place. But, you know, I respond to that too. I’m not above the rules of human nature. That’s why this article title is about keeping your enemies closer. Yes, friends are wonderful. The sensitivity some friends show is beautiful. But what really goads us to change is the harsh truths of reality. Only your enemies are ruthlessly honest enough to show you that.
©️2019-2021 Vic Young All Rights Reserved