Sunday, May 11, 2008

see... it's not just us!

Dear doctors, people who go to doctors, and people who look after doctors,

I found an interesting article today that describes how doctors, like the rest of the population, are susceptible to mental health problems... However, according to the article, doctors are very unlikely to seek help, fearing that it will affect their professional status. (The link is available at the bottom of this post.)

"Some doctors believe the stigma of mental illness is magnified in a profession that prides itself on stoicism and bravado. Many fear admitting psychiatric problems could be fatal to their careers, so they suffer in silence."

In an ironic twist, doctors are one of the groups that are LEAST likely to seek treatment for mental health problems, despite all of their education about mental health. And even more ironic, doctors are much more likely than than any other demographic to suicide. (Sadly, they are the most successful at suicide attempts because they have access to drugs and metabolic information that regular old folks don't have.)

"A psychiatrist in the New York area who asked to remain unidentified said he had suicidal thoughts every day for several years. But in medical school in the 1980s, he said he was so embarrassed about seeking help for depression that he went to a pay phone instead of his dorm to call a therapist."

So, isn't it interesting that the very people who keep us healthy are the most likely to have serious issues of mental health?

And doesn't this point to the fact about the detrimental effects of stigmatization? Doctors are so afraid to "come out" about mental illness because they fear it will affect their careers and their status.

"There could be reasons the stigma would be worse for doctors, "but you can come up with just as many reasons why physicians would be better equipped to acknowledge" mental illness, she said."

It's a strong indicator of how pervasive the effects of stigmatization are when some of our most informed citizens (in terms of understanding problems of mental health and their effects) are detrimentally reluctant to seek treatment for their own mental health issues. Very interesting how what's good for the gander is NOT good for the goose... very interesting, but mostly, very very sad.

Here's the article.
Medical know-how, access to drugs raises suicide risk for doctors

Wishing everyone good health,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

olivia is a tired hamster...

Dear fellow hamsters,

Today I am tired. Tired of jogging in that perpetually spinning wheel of life, doggedly chasing... well... not much. I'm tired of organizing the details, details which are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. (Although, there really is no 'grand scheme' that I can see.) And I'm tired of desperately trying to keep it together, when the natural propulsion of my current life events actually wants to cause things to unravel and erode.

I am tired of feeling sick, and tired of feeling tired. And I'm tired of trying not to look sick and tired. And I am tired of making excuses for why I feel sick and tired.

I'm tired of feeling guilty, like I can never do enough, and when I do do enough, it somehow winds up not being enough, or it is the wrong thing. And I'm just plain tired of trying to please and invest in others, with no hope of a return.

And I'm just plain tired. Understand? Just let me sleep without calling, without asking for something, without making me feel like I need to be doing something. For one day, maybe a week, just let me sleep.

Off to take a nap,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

definitely *not* keeping it together...

Dear savers of face (addendum to previous post),

Just so you know, it's probably okay to have a meltdown. And I think most people can empathize with a meltdown.

About two days ago, around midnight (my meltdowns usually happen at night for some reason), I had a mini melt down.

I had spent the previous five days feeling extremely ill (due to my neverending flu), and I just crawled into bed beside my boyfriend, and began whimpering.

He said, "Awww... sweetie, what's wrong."

Big mistake on his part. Personally, I think if someone's crying, and you acknowledge that crying, I just makes them cry harder... At least it does in my case!

So I start blubbering about how I feel like such a loser because I've been so sick, and how I suck because I'm unemployed, and how I feel like such a burden. I went on and on about how even though I feel sick, I feel like I have to clean and do all the house stuff, and I feel like I can never let anything fall apart, and how everything needs to at least look decent, if not fantastic. I blubbered on like this for about 30 minutes, all the while feeling guilty, because he had to wake up for work early in the morning.

And he, the eternal darling, murmured, "Honey, it's okay to let things unravel for a little while. You don't have to be on top of everything all of the time. I don't care if things are messy, or if you don't feel like getting dressed. And who ever comes over? Just take care of yourself while you're feeling shitty, and let the rest do whatever it's going to do."

It was like a breath of fresh air!

So, it took awhile to digest what he said; but today, I let go.

I laid in bed until past noon. I didn't do any dishes. I made my SO cook. And I pretty much read and watched TV all day.

You know what?

The world didn't stop. No one said anything about anything. And, best of all, I actually feel better.

Letting it unravel, one thread at a time,
PS. "Letting go" seemed to have some karmic advantage, since I got my first call for an interview this afternoon! Woohoooooooo to letting go!

keeping it together, even when i really just can't!

Dear fellow savers of face (you know who you are!),

I like to "save face." Saving face means that you are in a position where you have lost some element of your personal dignity, and you try to recover a shred of that dignity in whatever way you can.

Say for example you go to pay for your groceries at the store. You know you don't have much money in your account, but you're pretty sure you have enough to pay for the groceries you've picked out. You swipe the card, tap in your PIN, and wait... wait... then the machine beeps and flashes "Insufficient Funds!"

What do you do?

It's pretty rare for anyone to say, "Oh, shit! Look how poor I am! I can't even afford $20 worth of groceries!"

Usually a person will say something to the effect of, "Aw, crap, my cheque didn't go through!" or, "What the? My boss was supposed to deposit my pay! What an ass!"

Then you either whip out a credit card (if you have one), or scrounge through your purse to pay part cash and part debit, or (horror of all horrors) you slink away from the register and abandon your groceries whilst muttering excuses.

My version of saving face is a system of survival unto its own.

I grew up po'. I grew up po' and went to school with all the rich kids in town.

When you grow up surrounded by kids with all the right clothes, who live on the right side of town, in the right houses, you sort of develop a complex.

Growing up with all these kids who had all "the toys" was not easy. (Mind you, it was easier pre-ipod, pre-cellphone, and pre-laptop, and so on.) I worried a lot about fitting in.

It was pretty easy to hide the fact that my family lived in a not-so-nice apartment... all I had to do was make sure that no one came around to visit me. It was pretty easy to hide the fact that I was not up with the latest video games... all I had to do was pretend that studying and playing were more important than games.

It was a lot harder to hide the fact that I simply looked different from the other kids. Those kids had the brand name clothes, and the expensive shoes, and the pretty jewelry, and the funky new accessories.

I did not have those things. But I tried. Confronted with the "indignities" of poverty (or relative poverty), I tried to save face.

I learned very quickly that if you don't "look right" then you won't fit in. So at a very tender age, I became meticulously focused on my appearance. I tried to always look nice... to take care of my hair, to keep my clothes clean and fresh looking, to make sure that my outfits always matched and fit me well. I even went so far to harass my financially stretched family to go out and buy me some of those brand name clothes... I wound up with some second hand brand name sweaters that I was thrilled with!

When I was diagnosed, so many moons ago, with psychosis, that meticulousness, and how it had kept me socially viable (when I might have otherwise stuck out like a sore thumb), stuck with me.

Psychosis imposes enormous indignities on the people who live with it. Psychosis causes symptoms that seem strange or frightening to those not familiar with the disease. People who live with psychosis often face discrimination as a result of the ignorance and mythology that persist about this condition. The media, our friends, and even our families claim that murderers, rapists, and molesters must be "insane;" inadvertently diminishing the dignity of every single person who is truly afflicted with the condition of psychosis by placing perverse criminals in the same category as someone with a serious and life-altering biological disease.

So I knew that this disorder would somehow affect or at the very least distort my personal sense of dignity. And I knew I had to save face (again).

I knew very deep inside of me that I could not "look" sick. I knew that people would judge me if I somehow looked "different" from everyone else. My hair could never be unkempt in public. My outfits always had to be perfect. I always had to be properly dressed and accessorized for every occasion... even if I did not feel like it... even if I really could not afford it.

Now, as an adult, living on my own, this sense of "saving face" takes on a whole new meaning.

I sit here, seven days into a flu (now on the healing end, I hope!) and I look around me and think, "What can I do to make this place look better?" Because for some reason, to me, if *I* look good (and by extension, my surroundings look good), then all must be well... even when all most definitely isn't well.

So everyone, please know, that sometimes looks are deceiving. Even when someone looks great, when they're home looks wonderful, and when they seem to have it all together, that person may be hiding behind appearances, hoping that no one will notice what is going on underneath.

I have to go clean something now.

Always hiding, even when I'm too tired to hide,

spm... self portrait monday!

Dear people who like pictures,

A new feature, here at addressed2occupant: Self Portrait Mondays! (Aka. SPM)

In honour of having the flu for a total of 7 days so far, this portrait is of me, being sick, feeling like my nose has been sucked up into my sinuses.

Wishing you good health,

Sunday, May 4, 2008

dignity is hard to come by...

Dear fans of music and people who feel the burn of daily life,

I love a good line. Some people just really know how to say something, without needing to say much.

I love these lyrics by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah:

"So go salvage some of your human dignity,
'cause it'll be a long hard road."

For some reason, I think that people don't think enough of themselves. The ennui of daily life, with all the complaints, and aggressions, and all the saddness, and the irritations... the ennui eats away at us a little, day by day, by day.

We don't see our sadness or frustration or anger. We don't see that we are leaden with the burdens of our daily lives. These ennuis build up slowly, like grains of sand on a table. As we move about our lives, the grains are added, one by one, by one... until the legs of the table begin to wobble beneath the weight of its burdens.

These song lyrics remind me, that no matter what negative things happen in my daily life, I am human, and I deserve respect, kindness, and to be treated in a manner that is free of judgment or stereotyped thinking. Nobody has a right to impose their burdens, anger, or general shit on me.

So every day, I salvage my dignity by standing up for my beliefs and convictions, by commanding respect from those who would rather put me down than see me as an equal, and by offering the same dignities to every single person I meet... respect, kindness, and freedom from judgment and discrimination.

Forever yours, in dignity and in respect,

more comments on post secret postcards...

Dear post secret poster (and anyone else who works with people with mental health problems),

"I work as a counselor for people with mental illness and it scares me how much I can relate to them. I'm afraid of ending up like them."
See this secret on :

I can relate to you too! Wow! Isn't that amazing?

I can relate to your desire for a happy, fulfilled life. I can relate to your wishes for people who love you unconditionally. I can relate to your need for arms you can fall into when you feel weak, tired, afraid, or unhappy. Arms that will support you, and warm your heart in your coldest and loneliest hours.

I can relate to the notion that some aspects of your life might be dissatisfying. I can relate to feelings of frustration, anger, or despair. I can relate to thinking I'm not being paid enough for my skills. I can relate to wanting a better home, or car, or job, or better health... or even just more energy!

I can relate to feelings of low self esteem. I can relate to feeling unloved, or unwanted, or just unneeded. I can relate to feeling useless, incompetant, and frankly overwhelmed; feeling like I can never do enough, or that the things I do don't even matter because the problems of the world are so big... and I... well, I am so small.

Isn't it amazing how much we can relate to eachother?

Or does this scare you for some reason?

Why does that scare you?

Are you afraid of me?

Are you afraid of being "like" me? (Whatever that means!)

Relating to you in more ways than you will ever know,
PS. Sometimes I'm afraid of winding up like you too!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

bleah! i have the flu!!! :(

dear beloved readers,

so sick... can't post... flu!

psychiatrist thinks i "look great!"

at least someone does! i feel like poop!


talk to you when i'm better,