07 May, 2006

This Blog Is Moving

I am in the process of moving all my blogs to one location. Please set your bookmarks to the new home at http://www.callendamornen.co.uk/blog/

05 May, 2006

The Mentally Ill Are People, Too

This is a topic most people don't want to visit. The unfortunate fact is most likely we all have someone who is labeled mentally ill in our families, maybe even several members.

Why do I visit this unpleasant area? Most who are frequent visitors to my sites don't realize that at one time I was diagnosed as "schizophernic". I was in and out of hospitals because of the condition. Yes, I had issues. The doctor even told my parents there was no hope for me. They predicted I would probably end up on medication the rest of my life and depending on family to help me.

Needless to say that "prediction" caused a lot of stress in my family. It is not like a mental illness was a new thing to our family either. My uncle who I really loved as a kid was also diagnosed schizophrenic. The difference between him and me is he really is that way and I was not. I was mis-diagnosed.

I still have very vivid memories of the hell I went through trying to get through very hard times in my life. I was disillusioned after quitting a life long religion of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I was taught almost all my life that this was the only true religion and everything outside of it was evil. Do you have any idea what that can do to someone when they start to see flaws? Scared of the real world and not wanting to be part of your old world? It was not a pleasant time, but that was not all I was holding in...

When I was 9 until the time I was 16, a close friend of the family, my mother's best friend's husband more than molested me. I am still haunted by that. I really can't even talk fully about it. I was also raped when I was in college and had a miscarriage.

All of those problems along with the normal confusion of getting out of school and not knowing what to do with your life gave me a nervous breakdown. I attempted suicide several times which landed me in a hospital. It was not a good time, but fortunately, I don't remember very much of this time. The times I do remember were bad enough.

As it turns out, I was actually suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was treated as a schizophrenic with the same medications which only made me a zombie who could still remember all the problems I had, but unable to do anything about them

When one is diagnosed as a schizophrenic, everyone gives up. Your life may as well be over according to the doctors who will only lock you up for as long as the law will allow you in the state, give you your meds and a safe place to stay until your time runs out and then kick you out. The lucky ones have a home with loved ones who will tolerate them. The not so lucky are on the streets or in halfway houses. Most treated as if they were criminals for something they cannot help.

Fortunately, in my case, I started to question. I did not settle for what my particular doctors were saying about me. I found my own doctor who gave me a different perspective.

Doctors can be lazy. It is a human weakness. If someone already made a diagnosis, it is easier to just accept it as the truth without looking into it instead of coming to your own conclusions. Besides, schizophrenics mean money. They just don't question and are often on state and federal benefits and no one takes them seriously. It is easy to keep them in their place and make what you can from them.

And just how are they treated? The institution I was sent to quite often in Tinley Park, Illinois was typical of state run institutes for the poor "insane" people. These are not criminals, but people who are having a difficult time coping with reality. Keep that in mind as I describe the place.

When I was just released from the E.R. from an overdose of pills, I was still out of sorts and very depressed that I did not succeed and looking for my next opportunity to finish the job. None of my friends were really there for me because they did not understand what I was doing. My family acted as if I was an embarassment and did not really want anything to do with me. I had no one. I was angry that the idea I had of what life was supposed to be was all a lie. I was afraid of always being a victim of people like the ones who raped me. I had no vision of life ahead. I was afraid the end of the world would come at any time and I hated god at the time. My whole world was upside down and no one could relate to what was going through my mind.

They had intake volunteers who would feed me a line of b.s. that everything was okay and all I had to do was look at things in a positive way. When you are depressed, you don't even hear such things. When you don't respond to such cheery messages, they label you further as a hopeless case before you are inducted into the manditory sentence -- 21 days in the hospital, after all, suicide is against the law.

What happened there? In a ward of over 50 people in a locked unit with only 30 chairs and hard floor and a television set by the nurses who stayed behind their cage to be protected from us "lunatics", I was wandering about for most of the waking hours hoping to find a place to sit and avoid the really serious problem cases who would fling their feces, go around slapping people for no reason, or talking out of their head.

People would smoke just to pass time or stare blankly at the television. What was on did not matter because all they did was drug you into a zombie-like condiditon. When in that condition, you were just too out of it to act up, but deep inside your thoughts which made you "insane" are still actively there. It was a horrible condition to be left in. The doctors would visit with you once a week for only 15 minutes, most of which you were silent while he did paperwork. Then he would see if the meds you were on made you behave and write down notes whether you could be recommended for release.

He never actually talked to you about your problems or tried to help. His job was just to see how the meds worked. When he was done, you went back to the general population. In the general population, there was nothing to do and every opportunity to be harassed by someone who was bored. When things got out of control, you could easily be taken down by a team of nurses who would have a straight-jacket and a shot to calm you down before being locked in isolation for hours. Quite frankly, they got it easier than the rest of us.

Imagine spending most of your waking hours in a small room with lots of other people and nothing to do but watch tv and smoking in the room when you are not a smoker. No place to lie down. No place to take a nap. Not really a good place to get a book to read. Points knocked off your behaviour sheet if you sat on the floor because there were not enough chairs to go around. It was hell. I was not the only one who had escalated thoughts of suicide in that place. Prisioners get treated better than the mentally ill. Because while the prisoners may have broken the law, they are considereed more human than those who have a break with reality.

Unfortunately, my uncle is really schizophrenic. There is no cure for his condition.
To this day he thinks he is personally in touch with god to cleanse the world of their sins, but one could say the same of any religious person. The only difference is he is labeled as not sane and therefore he is somehow less than human.

There still needs to be a lot more done when we consider how we treat the mentally ill. There are people who really believe in outdated notions that they are under demonic possession. Instead of giving them the understanding they need, they are usually treated as something repulsive that they should just snap out of.

I hope you can understand my rant and why I had to make it. It is just something I can't really hide much longer. It is not a pleasant experience and I have my act together a lot more than I did back then. Now that I have kids, I worry all the time someone will hold my past against me. I also worry that it may stigmatize them in some manner.

Sometime people can change if they are determined, but in the case of many with mental illness, they will always have that condition, but they need to be treated with humanity as well as medication.

01 May, 2006

May Day Boycotts

May 1st, also known as May Day is the International Workers' Day which commemorates the struggle of working people throughout the world. Every country except the United States, Canada, and South Africa observe this day.

May Day began in the 1880s in the United States to fight for an eight-hour work day. Ironically, in the US it is now viewed as a socialist/communist agenda based day and for that reason this American created day is not celebrated freely in this country...unless it was downplayed and only by those considered Left.

2006, May Day had a purpose... to protest a pending bill which would in essence boot out all illegal immigrants and force them back into their countries without a second chance and discounting any contributions they have made to the US economy. Hundreds of thousands of people in the US participated, whether legal or illegal, by not showing up to work or school and not buying anything in an attempt to show the real clout this population has on the US economy.

As a result, many businesses with a large consumer market of first and second, even third and fourth generation immigrants as well as those who employ them had to shut down or suffer monetary losses.

Some critics could argue this amounts to economic terrorism, but a point is made clear, this country is made up of immigrants and immigrants are the backbone of this country. Without immigrants, we would have no one here but the original natives. If you felt so strongly against the immigrants, you could have easily tried to walk in their shoes by working their jobs and spending their share of the money.

I don't know if I believe in this tactic for awareness, but I do sympathize with the message as my father is an immigrant from Jamaica. My mother is an American because she was born here, but she was raised in Jamaica and only came back shortly before I was born. I could have just as easily been born Jamaican.

Not all immigrants are illegal and not all illegal immigrants are trying to ruin this country. The law illegal immigrants are breaking is not on the same criminal level of murder, rape, extortion... The law they are breaking is on the same level of a parking fine, forgetting to file taxes on time, breaking curfew. It is only a minority which make a run for the border. Most come into the country legally, but due to forgetting to file the right paperwork in a timely manner have become illegal.

Illegal immigrants are here to make a living because opportunities in their country of origin is limited. Many of them even pay taxes as well as contribute to our society.

For those who are fearful of immigrants taking over and losing all the good jobs to them, there is a remedy, but you may not like it.

Start insisting that large corporation who export all the good jobs outside of the country pay a decent living wage which is comparable to what they pay in the US. It would lead to higher prices on all goods you buy, but it would also assure that the countries which are getting the jobs have some security and incentive to stimulate their own economies and create new businesses which would employ more local people leading eventually to better education and more opportunities in those countries.

At the same time, it would also mean more jobs would stay at home paying decent wages with benefits. We cannot have fair trade unless it is fair all across the board. Unfair trade is why we have illegal immigrants. Not all come here illegally, but most have just overstayed a work permit and continued to work as normal because the desire to go back home where there is nothing available is not an acceptable option.

And insist other countries do more to stimulate their own economies and assure their citizens are treated fairly when they work. If they accept funds from other countries to help them support their people, insist they are responsible with the money and can account for it in the form of better education and more job opportunities. Most foreign aid is wasted by corrupt governments who do not help their people at all. All this wasted money could have been used to make their country better.

When you have an upside down economy, eventually the fallout will come to surface in ways we do not like. That day will come soon to the US and it will not be easy. The workers in the rest of the world are realizing they have the right to be treated humanely and deserve better working conditions as well as better trade terms.

Sooner of later, the US will not have the upper hand and it will be a very sorry day for everyone. I do not say it to gloat, but out of fear. Unless we come to terms with the fact that it is not the US above everyone else, we will go down in flames. This narrow-minded view of immigrants is only one aspect of how this tunnel vision will ruin our country.