The giving, offering, and forcing of selves

meansanta2Not another post about nuance! Yes and it all started when I heard benevolent superstar Jon Swift is offering exposure to his blogroll writers with another year-end round up of Best Posts Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves. Last year was a great success, providing hours of enjoyable reading and oodles of new visitors to the entrants’ blogs. This is not a contest, but an invitation for writers of all kinds who want a little more attention. I’m posting about it in the enduring hope of seeing psychiatric bloggers do more crossing-over into the wider progressive blogosphere. Of course you have to be on his blogroll, but since his blogroll is famous for being open to anyone I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t be on it.

I had little trouble choosing my own favorite post from this year’s slim pickens because I’m still pissed about that blogger from last year’s round-up who decided the most important post she wrote in 2007 was an injunction to readers to take their psychiatric meds. I don’t easily let go that sort of bullshit and it’s not because I’m against people taking psychotropic drugs. It was the compulsion to thrust her garbage onto the faceless reader as if the reader was any of her damn business, it’s that sort of foolishness gets stuck in my craw.

It looks like we’ve come full circle in one year’s time. These days the big drag in the psychosphere is seen in the browbeating of bloggers who actually do take their medication, to the consternation of antipsychiatry bullies who know for a fact that using meds does nothing but support corrupt big phRma. The DSM’s a bastard, mental illness a social construct, everybody hurts, but if you need a crutch there’s always B-Vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acid, looser! You may think this a caricature and sadly, so do I. But it’s for our own good, the twisted stigmatizing by double-talking activists who seem to think unvarnished contempt of their own (imagined) constituency is lost on anyone who believes other people’s choices are deserving of respect.

What are we to make of it? Unsolicited warnings about disabling side effects, but ZOMFG stopping drugs cold turkey without “tapering” will make you a school shooter, calling out fellow bloggers in a keyboard-pounding frenzy to justify their failure to denounce the modern tools of psychiatry, and without a single self-deprecating nod to their own fixation over this grave and pressing life and death matter.

One popular no-med blogger did just that to your shy and retiring flawedplan this year and thankfully I was able to maintain sufficient wit to persuade her to swiftly remove the nonsensical post but these displays of nerve can leave a chilling effect. And they’re accumulating, some phase, the pendulum swinging, whatever the reason, antipsychiatry abounds. Yes I know, google antipsychiatry and you’ll end up here, isn’t that ironic. Something’s gotta give.

Just this October while cleaning out my medicine cabinet I found a two year old bottle of un-opened Effexor and decided I’d take one a day to see what it did to my mind. First time I try psych drugs in over three years but can’t bring myself to share this experiment on my own damn blog because who wants to fight with competitive antipsychiatry ass berets? That’s fucked up . And more fool me, being so wilting lily sensitive but
so let the record show, Effexor kicked ass in the third week, got me talking to people, telling jokes, on the phone and off my computer, playing with kids, looking up at the sky above, cornbread moon and twinkly stars, take that, assholes! all very banal and run-of-the-mill, a mood elevator doing what it was designed to do, someone better call Ripley. But I dreaded the outcry — Placebo effect!— Uh huh, and it only took 32 trials with prior “placebos” til Effexor hit the sweet spot, what a mystery these dadgum sugar pills, 31 fakes til the real placebo kicks in.

Now, wait just a dadblasted minute. Did I not just say I’ve been off psych meds for three full years and now I’m going on about undergoing 32 drug trials? Which is it, what gives? I get these triumphant gotcha emails and don’t know what to make of them that seem to be saying “Come Clean!”

Because nothing says you’re filling a necessary void like an excruciatingly detailed exposition of your journey with psychotropic medications, therefore a blogger is beholden to describe her course in its entirety, stops and starts, gains and losses, why I changed my mind, then changed my mind again, til I came upon the final wisdom, whether from compliance to non-compliance or non-compliance to compliance and the road back to where I was before the meds destroyed my fill-in-the-blank, the fact of the matter is every veil that falls from my eyes will be validated by matching veils falling from your own. Or else.

Else what?

You can face the pathetic need to have complete strangers put their stamp on your own life choices or you can assume the identity of a pharmaceutical fetishist, choose to troll blogs, shut down discussion, expect everyone to be similarly obsessed with pharmaceuticals in a vain attempt to normalize batshit insanity by projecting your issues into the environment, which no one in the history of the world has ever tried before.

They’re out there. Trolls are meant to be smacked down, though I wouldn’t call them concern trolls, because they’re incapable of misrepresenting the concern part of the concern troll protocol. It seems more like a minority of angry antipsychiatry usurpers have united in an effort to seize the mental health discourse, make discussion ugly for any mental health blogger inclined to post about a casual relationship with said drugs and prescriber, who gives the topic due proportion, as an aside, one detail in a multi-faceted narrative. Not to mention any blogger who feels conflicted about using pharmaceuticals, you will watch your mouth or rue the day you turned off comment moderation.

Antidepressants aren’t that interesting, they are just the device in a battle of wills. It’s about control, over-powering the blight of personal sovereignty by those who feel personal sovereignty was stolen from them, and by the looks of things it was. But there has to be a way of reclaiming what’s yours without destroying the self-esteem of psychiatry’s willing guinea pigs as if their peace of mind is what’s wrong with this picture.

Perhaps I’ve gone far afield of the original subject, but it seemed some preamble was in order. I’ve come to realize that anticipating a jump to conclusions has become necessary in blogging and guess there’s nothing to be done for that but learn to address it in fewer words. I’ll aim high, meanwhile my favorite 2008 post at Writhe Safely remains this one, but I won’t submit that since it’s pure link love, I didn’t write anything. My own best typing in 2008 combines social criticism with personal confession (and if you think I exaggerate the violence of online antipsychiatry read that thread) but will submit this instead with a thought for public service. If you come away from that convinced of what I stand for you are privy to a truth that is not even in my own possession. Why would you want that responsibility? Just think about the post, not a bunch of interesting ideas about the person who wrote it.

Right now I am thinking of various mental health bloggers who deserve a wider audience. Here’s hoping half my blogroll makes an appearance in Jon Swift’s self-selected personal bests for Election Year 2008! I’ll be clicking along with my Christmas toddy, in solidarity, basking in the plenitude of complimentary hits.

Tagged with:
Posted in DSM, Enemies...must...have...enemies, Force, Humanistic psychology, Mad in America, Mental illness, Pharmageddon, Psychophobia
12 comments on “The giving, offering, and forcing of selves
  1. susan says:

    Dearest Robin,

    First of all every post you write is a favorite. I love the way you write and I do learn a lot from you. Besides- you are the only person I know since I left school who has the same tastes in Modern American Literature as me. That makes you golden.

    Have a wonderful holiday and the best of New Years. To you and the darling cats. And keep blogging in 09-I will keep reading .

    -Susan S.

  2. Jaye says:

    How are the kitties?

    And how are you?

    The session is upon us. Keep me posted. I am going to try to follow it closely and do a bunch of stuff this spring. Take care of yourself because as you well have written (above) obviously someone else will happily do it for you.

    My new world this year is “happily”. In the film “Zodiac”, one character played by younger eye candy and good actor Mark Ruffalo, tells another character, played by older eye candy and great actor Robert Downey, Jr., to “go fuck himself”. To which Downey replies, “Happily.”

    So any time anyone asks me to do something I really don’t want to do, I say, “Happily.” My little joke to myself.

  3. flawedplan says:

    Hi Susan,

    I am grateful for our connection, and just noticed we share another one in chronic migraines, my introduction to oh so frabjous menopause.

    Jaye, I was thinking of you today, are you psychic?

    Yes indeed the season is upon us, I am not sure how ready I am for the session but just started vitamin and yoga therapy to grease my wheels. We must find a way to get together for once, let me know when you come to the Capitol and I’ll give you a tour of my office, one floor down from Obama’s headquarters. Would you like to do that?

  4. susan says:

    Robyn, you suffer from migraines too?

    Normally I only get one or two a year, but the last couple of months, probably since October I get one almost every day and they don’t go away til five or so in the afternoon. By that time the whole day is shot.

    I hadn’t made the connection with menopause, but since I am in my 40’s perimenopause is possible. I’ll talk to the gynocologist next month when I have my yearly mammogram. (One medical procedure, I hate hate hate!)

    Take care.

  5. flawedplan says:

    I used to get them about 10 years ago, about one a month. I ended up hooked on Codeine, the one major drug struggle I’ve had and it messed up my life. Eventually the headaches stopped completely for like, eight years, but they’re back with a vengeance now. I wake up with them and they’re as totalizing as ever, with an added element of mental crap having to do with helplessness, decay, pointlessness, mortality — thinking goes completely around the bend. I projectile vomit and get nausea, unbalanced, fall down, sound and light hurts and the one I got this week was so intense I was late shooting Angelbait, I just laid under the covers knowing her blood glucose was rising and apologizing and knowing that this was how it would be til some abusive state guardian is assigned to me who will probably put her to sleep and steal my CD collection.

    I was reading your blog yesterday and seeing those posts about your own suffering cheered me up in a crazy way. I value this similarity and visiting you for shared sympathy, because there’s no cure is there? Damn.

  6. susan says:

    Hey Robin, I understand what you mean about my suffering cheering you in a crazy way. I think it goes back to Kierkengard, I know I misspelled it, but his whole thing about wanting to be unique in despair.

    No one is going to take Angelbait and Kamakazie from you. They are your cats. If it ever went to the state coming in you have friends like me and others who would hold your babies until you could take them again. Please give them a hug from me.

    Take care and it means a lot to me you read my blog. I am really trying to make it a literary masterpiece. I am tied of Kay Jay having the “ultimate” bipolar book- (Unquiet Mind). it’s time for either your or me to dethrone her .

  7. Dr X says:

    I dreaded the outcry — Placebo effect!– Uh huh, and it only took 32 trials with prior “placebos” til Effexor hit the sweet spot, what a mystery these dadgum sugar pills, 31 fakes til the real placebo kicks in.

    Re, the outcry. These are people who have never had the experience of the right antidepressant, for the right person at the right time. No one knows why one is powerful and 5, 10 or 32 others do nothing, but this scenario isn’t the least bit uncommon. And anyone who has experienced it knows that the ‘placebo’ claim is ludicrous.

  8. sOmebOdy says:

    Are you pissed at me because of the random comment I left on Dionysiandialect’s blog when I was drunk/high?
    To address the rest of your post: I’d agree that it would be pretty annoying if someone was calling you a pharma tool just for taking medication, but I haven’t really had any experience with anyone doing that. The only “anti-psych” people I really have contact with are the people at the Icarus Project, and they don’t really want to abolish psychiatry, just free it from the use of force and the influence of drug industry dollars, which is the same thing I want, and I think it’s the same thing you want. But the difference between you and them (I think, tell me if I’m wrong) is that you talk more about mental illness being caused by trauma, and the Icarus folks talk about it more as a natural variation/ dangerous gift. Different people have it for different reasons, I guess.
    I just got out of the psych ward yesterday. I told the doctors that the drugs I took were just for self-medication, not for suicide, but I guess they didn’t believe me. Ah, well, happy New Year’s Eve.

  9. flawedplan says:

    I don’t get it Somebody. Are you looking for a conflict? What are you defending? Why on earth would you think I’m pissed at you? I surely am not. And I am in agreement with every word ever uttered at the Icarus Project but it’s small potatoes and gets five visitors a day.

    I don’t see the anti-psychiatry vibe there either, but Icarus is a
    message board;
    and this post is about the blogosphere
    which isn’t about support.
    In sum, my opinion is valid, look no further than Furious Seasons, the go-to mental health blog with thousands of hits a day; it’s become lousy with anti-psychiatry cranks.

  10. sOmebOdy says:

    Looking for a conflict? No, I just remember that we actually started to have a conversation once about punks, beat poets, madness, and all that, but then after I left some dumb drunken-bravado comment on dionysiandialect’s blog you stopped answering my comments here so I figured you were pissed at me.
    I guess I’m kind of unclear: Does being anti-psychiatry only refer to people who are against any and all psychiatry existing and don’t want anyone to take psych drugs, or can it also refer to people like myself and most of the Icaristas who want it to exist, but not in its current anti-human form?
    I looked at the comments on FuriousSeasons and I get your point. On the Icarus forums, I think the average blog gets about 20 views per post, so yeah, that’s not much. But they do a lot of real world stuff, support groups yes, but also vigils, discussion meetings, tours, workshops, art shows to get their ideas out there. They got mentioned in Utne last month, for whatever that’s worth…

  11. Poodle says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR (((((((((((((Robin)))))))))))))))))

    Love ya and ya blog

    xoxox co co co co

  12. flawedplan says:

    we actually started to have a conversation once about punks, beat poets, madness, and all that, but then after I left some dumb drunken-bravado comment on dionysiandialect’s blog you stopped answering my comments here so I figured you were pissed at me.

    I was actually amused by your comment at DD’s blog. It looks like you *went* to a bad explanation based on an assumption that I was irked about something you said over there (which would make me an asshole in my opinion), and that assumption led to the next assumption that I was pointedly ignoring your comments here. Is that right?

    It might be nice if I was more reassuring but I only comment around here when the spirit moves me though when mad at someone I generally let them have it.

    You could generate other explanations for why I haven’t replied to your comments that have nothing to do with you, and I think that is a good rule of thumb in situations where there is scant evidence that someone has a problem with you personally. You don’t have to go through life feeling any responsibility for other people’s stuff — you can learn to say “It’s not about me!”

    On the other hand, what’s the harm of asking, “are you mad at me?” The only way to know for sure is to check it out and that can be hard to do because it makes us seem “needy.” I think it’s more brave than anything. To be open, un-jaded.


    I too adore Icarus for all the work they do, their visit to Virginia Tech after the massacre was heroic. It made the national news, Madison laid down and made gravel angels and the group’s monument included a stone for the shooter as well, not many people saw the humanity in him.


    I think of antipsychiatry as basically tied to ideology, a nasty, un-supportive, authoritarian head trip that’s not about helping people but *correcting* them.

    Reading the current hot threads at furious seasons is a lesson in projection — all the hatred the antipsychiatry types denounce in the psychiatrist dguller is non-existent, the hatred exists nowhere but in themselves.

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