More Prop Than Person

I got the last word , the most genuine thing I could say out loud and not get kicked out of the rotation . What I wanted to say was that most of the patients are restlessly meandering , drooling , sleeping , or loitering around the nurses ’ station all day long . I wanted to comment on how they’re hunched over in a lobotomized line for a cupful of pills or a tray of food and look more like bizarre props than people. I wanted to tell him to forget the medication and give them something meaningful to do. But I didn’t say any of that.

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Expert Destruction

I’m in disbelief . The tension between Jamal and Dr . Patel is rising . Their cultures are relentlessly clashing right in front of my eyes , like a sword fight between wealthy India and West Philadelphia . My honest impression of Jamal is that he’s bright , sane and doesn’t need medication . If anyone sounds crazy , his mother does . Some part of me will not allow me to remain silent . Jamal’s young and smart , he has a future . He doesn’t need big – gun medications , and I’m overwhelmed with an urge to save him .

“ Dr . Patel , ” I respectfully say . “ When Jamal says he spits in the mirror , it means he’s rapping . He’s a rapper and that’s how he practices . ”

Dr . Patel stares at me blankly . Nothing registers . I’m a stupid , white girl. “But he hears voices . Why else would he talk to himself ? ” Dr . Patel asks.

“No , he spits . He raps . He’s not hearing voices . He’s practicing to be a musician,” I explain. The conversation continues in this relentlessly circular fashion . Nothing is sinking in . I give up and excuse myself to the bathroom. Let the “expert” seal the young man’s fate .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Tattoo Relief

Tory continues to work while I mentally command my body to adjust to the pain and discomfort . The needle spills color under my skin. Tory doesn’t say a word . I break out in chills . My pain tolerance is high, but each time the needle hits, I feel a new, excruciating sting. It hurts but part of me loves it. All I can think about is the growling device marking my back, and not the morbid sentences in my pathology book. The physicality is a relief .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Death of a Mind

I leave the books behind and go to my room. I cry, as if Chase recently died and isn’t brooding in the room next door. I almost wish he’d die. Seeing him lose his mind feels more painful. At least if he died, I wouldn’t have to be teased by seeing his physical body, because the Chase I adore doesn’t exist anymore. His body is a house that is falling apart, and his mind is a prisoner in the upstairs attic. I have no hope. Still, sometimes, a glimpse of his malnourished body makes me want to violently shake him until the chains holding his mind captive fall free. As if that would work.

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Bragging Rights: 6 Months of Lifting Weights

In February of this year, I hired a personal trainer and got back to working out on a regular basis. I’ve lost weight, gained muscle and flexibility – and still look like a middle aged suburbanite. Ah well, I didn’t pay extra for the movie-star makeover (yes, I’m just kidding). Shallow vanity aside, this is a photo taken of me today. It may not look like much to you but I know how much I’ve improved. I’m pretty darned proud!

So, yeah, I’m bragging! 🙂

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

 

By the Book and According to Protocol

She nods but looks dissatisfied. Her expression betrays that she already knows the root of my problem and wants me to provide her with supporting evidence. I don’t think she’s going to change what she’s decided , even if our conversations don’t support her theory. I sigh . She’s one of those people who goes by the books . The medical rule books, that is . The books are the rules that shrinks and therapists follow, full of guidance and expert opinions, the Bibles quoted by professionals when their judgment is questioned. Deviating from the books is too risky , both emotionally and legally , too intimate , and too involved . No one has the time or the energy to deviate from the books , and no one wants to get sued . It’s tough to get sued if you follow the rule books exactly .

The problem is , I don’t feel like my mind fits an exact diagnosis . My mind , like everyone’s mind , is a mysterious , vast world that’s barely been explored . How could it fit under one confining category? Whenever I see a shrink or a therapist, it seems as if they purposefully tweak and manipulate my mind till it does fit, or until I believe the label I’m given. The goal is a nice clean classification, and since I despise labels, I despise the books.

Again , Jessica interrupts my internal monologue and asks me a few more questions . I stay pleasant and answer as best I can . She hands me a few forms to fill out , mostly surveys , and excuses herself . She is back in a few minutes and hands me a script along with a sample of pills .

“I want you to try these,” she says , handing them to me . A psychiatrist , who oversees the Eating Disorder clinic, has prescribed them . I haven’t met him and probably never will . The drugs are given to me almost like protocol.

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Medical Exorcism

Without warning , the patient leans forward slightly in her bed . With her eyes still closed , she spews green and black bile out of her mouth, splattering her hospital gown and hair. She falls back against her bed . Her sister grabs tissues off a table in the room and begins wiping around the patient’s mouth. My mouth opens and won’t close . My heart is galloping. I feel like I just witnessed an exorcism.

“Should I call someone?” Like a priest. I have no idea what just happened, but it looked bad .

“No, no.” Dr . Brown calmly waves me off . “It’s a reflex . She has done that frequently now for the last month and a half .”

I can’t believe it . She’s been like this for a month and a half ?

“It’s horrible to see, I know,” the sister says , now tearful. She caresses the woman’s forehead with her hand. “But I just can’t pull the plug. Not now. I don’t think she’d want that. That’s not what she wanted, and I couldn’t live with myself if I did that.”

There are so many machines that can keep people alive indefinitely. The thought terrifies me . Everyone’s narcissistic , that’s the problem. That’s why death isn’t as naturally accepted as being born. I want to bolt out of the hospital and drink, but I know I can’t. I want to be a doctor, but I question whether I can stand all the physical ugliness of it .

-Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Solving Homelessness: Health Care

Homelessness is unhealthy. In the United States poverty, extreme or otherwise, is unhealthy. For many middle-class families, simply being underinsured in unhealthy. Health care is a wide-reaching issue but the cost of health care, with or without insurance, is frequently financially devastating and potentially deadly.

Doctors don’t work for free. If you can’t pay the bill and the insurance company (assuming you have one) won’t cover the expenses, then medical care and medication are cut off. That’s the way things work.

For people trying to survive extreme poverty (homelessness), the conditions of day-to-day life exacerbate medical issues. The lack of health insurance all but eliminates health care. Trying to find work or other resources necessary to get off the streets is difficult under the best of circumstances, add an illness into that scenario and ‘extremely difficult’ becomes ‘near impossible.’

Universal Health Care

Universal health care would address the financial devastation that pushes middle-class families into extreme poverty (homelessness) when a loved one falls ill.

Universal health care would provide extremely poor people access to much-needed resources and services. Simply being able to address an illness or injury makes finding a job significantly more possible, which makes escaping homelessness possible – not easy or guaranteed but possible.

Universal healthcare would begin the long and arduous process of addressing the medical resource caste-system currently built around government-provided Medicaid and Medicare programs. People who receive health insurance through an employer have significantly more options and receive markedly better care. There are large numbers of doctors and medical care providers who refuse to accept patients reliant on government-provided benefits – unless they are government employees, in which case they receive the same care as people in the private sector. Since extremely poor people are overwhelmingly dependent upon these programs, this creates a prejudiced resource distribution wherein people at the bottom are treated very differently from people who have more social and financial ‘value.’

A true universal healthcare system would help to place all Americans on equal footing within the medical care system. It would place every person under the same medical payment system, giving all citizens access to the same medical resources without fear of financial devastation.

The social stigma surrounding extremely poor people will take significantly more time and resources to change. Medical professionals who harbor an aversion to interacting with extremely poor people (homeless or housed) will continue to shun these individuals, provide substandard care or participate in abusing vulnerable populations for the same reasons that racists treat the objects of their hate in the same manner.

The cascading effects of hatred towards extremely poor (homeless) people will have to be addressed in another way.

Link

Has anyone succeeded in erasing someone’s memory? by Gagan Bir Singh https://www.quora.com/Has-anyone-succeeded-in-erasing-someones-memory/answer/Gagan-Bir-Singh?share=d15154d6&srid=zRYF

The possibilities for abuse are massive and terrifying.

Admiration List: Jennifer Brea

Video

Jennifer Brea has been suffering from an un-treatable and not-yet-properly-identified neurological disease. She has been given diagnosis (e.g.: chronic fatigue syndrome) that basically mean nothing and was told it was ‘all in her head.’ This woman has been through the proverbial fire.

Yet, despite extremely difficult physical and social barriers, she has persevered, created a film about her experiences and pursued a life of activism, acting as a voice for all people suffering from invisible and un-diagnosed illnesses.

From her TED talk, you can see her strength, attitude and remarkable good will, as she expresses her hope that one day the medical community will learn how to face a disease like her own and speak the honest truth: I don’t know what is wrong with you.

I have to agree with her statement that this ability to be able to admit to not having an answer is a key step in eventually finding an answer.