When Did You Become an Expert?

I have spent the past year trying to focus my writing around issues of mental health. With this I hope that I have given some helpful advice and some interesting stories. I like to believe that by doing this I have helped at least one person to see that they aren’t alone. What I wanted to achieve by writing about these issues was to give people who don’t live with mental health problems a glimpse into the difficulties faced by those who do. What has somehow happened is that people now have decided that I do not have a mental health disorder, but instead an addiction problem. I want to know when it became more acceptable to be an addict than it is to be crazy.

I think that part of this is because crazy is something we don’t control. People who don’t live with a mental health disorder, much less multiple disorders, seem to accept addiction more easily. Addiction is something that can be controlled, or at least that seems to be the prevailing theory of those who have been confronting me lately. It isn’t my OCD that causes me to think in circles, but instead it is some addiction. The truth is that I am not an addict. I can’t say that I have never drank too much or tried things which I shouldn’t have. I have never needed a substance to survive, well other than food water and air—all of which are made up of chemicals. I can live without medication, and even if I choose not to, this choice doesn’t mean I am an addict. I do not feel as if I cannot handle life without medication, and I don’t believe that for my disorders that medication is a long term fix. It is a band aid to be used while I learn other ways to cope.

The truth is that many people with mental health difficulties do self-medicate, and often find themselves in positions of addiction. Since I do not claim to be an expert in addiction, I cannot say anything more than that it is possible for someone who starts off with a diagnoses and medication can become an addict. I only know this much because I have seen it happen. This does not mean that anyone who has gone to a doctor for help and takes medication is an addict. Nor does it mean that every person taking medication is doing so because they need to. There are plenty of people who get prescriptions legally for problems they don’t really have. From what I have been told, and experienced, if you go to a doctor who is just trying to see as many patients as possible, all you have to do is give a list of symptoms and they will prescribe what pill goes along with that set.

Recently I have been told by recovering addicts that I have addiction problems, and that I need to get clean and sober. They congratulated me when I went off medication, and proclaimed that I was taking a step in the right direction. They seemed to think that they influenced my choice in going off meds, but the truth is I went off meds because I wanted to see what affect they were even having on me. The reality is that for the most part they were affecting my memory. There were other effects from the meds, but the most disturbing to me was with the memory. Other than that they didn’t change my personality and they didn’t help consistently with my anxiety, so why take them? Well for me the only time I feel medication is helpful is when I have to be in a situation where I have no ability to avoid my stressors. These would be holidays, family events, and weddings.

The next set off accusations about being an addict came from someone who doesn’t know me outside of text messages. We text a couple times every few months and that is the extent of our communication. I have never met this person in real life, and I really don’t have any desire to. Recently, while talking to him about my current job situation he accused me of being an addict. This was based off me not having been able to find a decent job in the past nine months. Because of course only an addict would have trouble finding a job in a bad economy, therefore I must be an addict. It couldn’t possibly be that my skill set lies with writing and mental health advocacy. Or that my degree, which he also claimed I must not have, is in a field which tends to require at least a Masters to find work. My education allows me to be a candidate for entry level jobs, but my experience puts me at being a little over qualified, or a little under qualified. If I mentioned that I am crazy I would spend another ten years looking for work.

So when did mental health turn into addiction? When did people who have no experience with one or the other become experts? I don’t claim to be an expert in mental health other than my own. I know what is wrong with me, and I don’t need people to create new labels for me to make themselves feel more comfortable. If you don’t believe that OCD, and Anxiety can cause extreme difficulty for someone, then I am not someone you should be associated with.

As we change how mental health is viewed, we seem to being adding a new face to crazy. I can’t just be crazy, I must be abusing something, or I wouldn’t act the way I do. Since people tend to think that crazy celebrities are only this way because of substance abuse, why not believe that everyone is this way? Well, the biggest reason for why not, is that it is Not True. Not every person who decides to embrace their own crazy, go out into the world and live their lives is an addict—just as not every person who is on drugs has a mental health disorder.

The picture of mental health is bigger than people seem to want to accept. The rules keep changing, and they aren’t all changing for the better. Every day we have to learn how to live in a world which doesn’t understand us, and has to create some new reason as to why we act the way we do. We can’t just be crazy anymore, no we have to be on something, and even if the thing we are on is to help us control the crazy aspects of our personality this now means that we are addicts. Not everything is so cut and dry. People however don’t like messy, and mental health is messy—it’s complicated and makes people uncomfortable.

So I am sending out a big thank you to all of the people who realize that this is not easy. Thank you to everyone who doesn’t try to change me or anyone with a disorder, and to everyone who doesn’t need to have me be an addict so that I can fit into your box. Thank you to all of the people who are fighting for these diseases to be understood, and who stand by their friends and family who are fighting everyday with some form of mental illness. And most importantly a huge thank you to those of you who are yourselves fighting for your own version of sanity and doing what you can to live in a world which hasn’t learned how to accept your particular brand of sane.

I hope you all have a happy, crazy, fun filled and safe Thanksgiving.


Strange Mood

I have been feeling weird all day, not sick or anxious, just off. I’m not sure why but it has caused some odd introspective ramblings in my writing. This evening my writing has been unfocused, yet interesting. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s any good. In fact it’s the type of thing I tend to hide until I can pull out lines to create songs, so at least there is a silver lining to my odd feelings today.

I am trying to stay positive as my job search continues. That is another odd thing, I have always been a fairly pessimistic person and now I’m practice the power of positive thought. So far it has just caused me to not want to listen to anyone being negative. So while the rest of the country watch the ruling in ferguson, I took a nap, then I avoided Facebook and Twitter. I don’t need the constant reminder things need to be changed. I remember that all the time. This might just be because I have lived with being judged based off my disorders. Or maybe it’s because I studied sociology, either one it likely.

Well in light of today’s events I don’t know if embrace the crazy is the right thing to say. Instead I will say to stand up for what you believe in, if that’s civil rights, civil justice, or mental health awareness.

Just to update, I don’t agree with the rioting, there are better more productive ways to show displeasure. Chill out America, use your brains, implies aggression doesn’t help anyone!

Money troubles continue

I have been struggling with money problems for about a year and a half now. I was barely making ends meet for a little while, with help from friends and family. Now though I am not sure how I’m gonna come up with the funds I need for my bills.

It’s tough out there for those of us on the job hunt, and it seems that more often than not I am not getting job offers in areas where I can work. I am plagued with commission sales, one area where I know I do not do well.

My next problem is that I currently don’t have the money I need to pay for my phone and electric bill. Also I really need to find a way to have my internet turned back on. The internet is unfortunately a necessity and without it I won’t be able to find a decent job.

There are only so many hours I can spend at the library or my friends houses. I had been offered a couple work from home writing and editing jobs, but I can’t take them because of my lack of internet.

If anyone has any idea how I could make some decent money, quickly I would really appreciate it. In my struggles to live with anxiety and OCD jobs are difficult to come by and solutions tend to hide from me.

Hopefully things will get better soon. I am working on a collection of essays which I am thinking of self publishing, but this is another area which requires some money and internet connection.

Pray to the gods of the crazy people, the artistic people, and the solitary writers. Embrace the crazy, and let me know if you have any ideas which could help me. Thanks, I love you all.

Dwindling focus

I have been back on my game with writing this week. I am focused, well sorta focused. I figured out a way to get myself writing even when I don’t have any idea what to write and that’s a good start.

I have managed to get several essays started and I finished two, and the week isn’t over yet. This is a good thing I know. I am having trouble really focusing though. After days of inspiration life is creeping back in and reminding me that I have other things which deserve my attention.

Well, I don’t know if these other things deserve my attention, but the keep getting it. I can’t decide if the job offer I got for a commission only sales job is worth the money I won’t make at it. Plenty of people do well with commission sales, but I don’t have the personality for it. I generally feel the same way as the customer, the product is stupid and a waste of money. I hate those people when they stop me at the gas station, can I really be one?

I know my OCD plays a part in my fretful thoughts about this job, but I still can’t bring myself to think of it as a real job. For one thing, if they make that much money selling car cleaner, then why can’t the manager buy a decent pair of shoes? They don’t have to be expensive, I just think they shouldn’t look so beat up they might fall of his feet when he walks.

So I’m hoping for other jobs to call me back, there is one I should hear from soon and I am trying to decide if it’s worth holding out for. I am told they are just waiting for my background check to come through.

So while I wait and fret I put on movies that I don’t watch and write instead. There are some good things coming out of my brain and actually landing on the page where they are supposed to be. I am trying to post here more as well. Although this is made difficult by have to post from my phone because my internet is out right now. For some reason they don’t let you keep your service if you don’t pay them.

So please excuse my typos and grammatical errors at the moment, my phone has a mind of her own. I will go back and fix things when I get to a place with interwebs.

Embrace the crazy and have a crazy weekend!

Just because it Seems hard to Believe doesn’t make it a Lie

I am one of those people who has alway had a hard time getting a job. While my friends in high school worked after school, I mostly focused on music lessons, rehearsals, and homework. I was fine with this because the one job I had in that time was really gross.

Once I started college I managed to get a job at a bookstore. This would have been ideal except our GM made a practice of clocking us out and locking us in the store during inventory. Needless to say I quit. I knew this was legal for my manager to do this, but I also didn’t know that I could do anything about it.

I moved on from there to working under the table as a bartender and then waitressing for the next six years. During this time I played music and sometimes got paid for doing that. For a little while I even fought private music lessons.

I moved a couple times and ended up back in Jacksonville. Then I decided to finish my BA. Unfortunately sociology isn’t as marketable of a degree as I would have hoped. So since graduation I have been taking whatever jobs come my way. Most are some version of commission sales.

I also started writing more. However, the more money and health problems I had, the less I would write. Now I seem to have moved past my major health issues: anxiety is low and my stomach problems are under control so long as I avoid beef products. Because of these health problems though I can no longer work in the job fields I had previously worked.

Now it feels as if the only jobs I am interviewed for or offered are in commission only sales. Unfortunately I am terrible at these jobs. I get nervous and I don’t believe in convincing someone to buy a product they clearly don’t want.

I wrote this because lately I have been accused of being an addict and have been told that this is why my life isn’t going how I wanted. While this is a good theory I suppose, the truth isn’t nearly as interesting. I have allergies, made bad choices in jobs, and I’m crazy. No addiction issues, unless you count shoes or cigarettes, and I don’t know how that made my life tough.

Hopefully things will change soon. I’m not asking for much, just a steady regular paycheck so I always know how much money to expect. I just don’t know how to switch job fields and that is creating the bulk of my job problem.

If you have any advice or ideas, please feel free to share.
I want to embrace the crazy, but today I’m too confused.