Letting Out the Anger

Recovery is three steps forward, two steps back. I feel like that especially over the last two months. The spring and early summer were so promising. I was regularly doing yoga, I had lost a bunch of weight, and I was feeling great.

Then the mania happened. Yet another psychiatric first. I believe it was because of the sertraline which has been known to trigger mania in people. Studies have been done to capture that side effect of the drug as well.

The hospitalization was awful, the traumatic events leading to me even needing all the care I’ve needed in the last year and a half were awful.

I hate what a certain Weasel triggered in me a year and a half ago. I was never as “mentally ill” as I was before he fucked with my head. It’s hard to let go of the anger.

I met with a spiritual healer last Saturday and she told me my anger was justifiable. People who harm while masquerading as healers are a special kind of deplorable.

And that applies to the last psych unit I was in two months ago as well. The abuse I received there was horrific. The way they victim-blamed me after I was assaulted was disgusting. And the way they tried to convince me I must be bipolar after barely knowing my history and not even consulting with my outpatient mental health clinic is negligent and irresponsible.

I even wrote a post accepting that label, and after learning more about bipolar and what I went through and knowing the power of sertraline and knowing that I’m generally a sensitive person to side effects, I’ve come to reject that diagnosis until I know more about myself. And I’m not alone, my current providers at my outpatient clinic are also currently disputing that diagnosis.

Everything’s led me to be very skeptical of common psychiatric practices in this country and in general. I was totally dehumanized in the unit I was in, and I tried to flee when I was triggered in the unit. And so what did they do? They locked me in a tiny room, and if you want a first hand account of that horrific experience, you can read my short story about it here.

I’m still finding support in my psych nurse and my therapist, and I’m thankful for that. But these meds. Oy. One that I’m taking causes psychomotor retardation and I’m feeling it. Everything has slowed down. Especially now that I think it’s actually had time to kick in.

I’ve become wary of meds in general. There are other approaches that can be used. This last weekend I met someone associated with a group in Tacoma that supports people who have had extreme states of consciousness. I did some research on this group and their resources led me to this fabulous video about how even voice-hearing can be integrated into someone’s day-to-day without being a hindrance.

I should mention at this point that this is the part of the post where I’ve picked up writing after stepping away from it for a moment.

I’m a little distressed at the moment, I got records and a letter from my last psych unit and they’ve conflated and skewed things to fit their narrative of what happened. They cannot “substantiate” that I was raped even though I was clearly manic, drugged, and incapable of consenting for that sheer fact, and there was a nurse who witnessed it.

I’ve been painted to be something I’m not. I’ve been accused of “sexually acting out” and accused of changing my story about consent when I never said it was consensual.

It makes me angry. It makes me angry that they twisted my history to give me a diagnosis of bipolar. That they twisted my success in grad school and gave it a label as “hypomanic.” In that case everyone who works and attends grad school should be labeled “hypomanic.”

I’m angry that no health care professional ever told me about antidepressant-induced mania and how that could lead to a false diagnosis of bipolar.

I know this is a rambling nonsensical post, but I have to get it out. I’m dismayed at the system that I’m in. I’m sad that it failed me when I needed it the most.

I was able to talk to like minded people this evening, and that really helped a lot. And after meeting these people, after venting about records that I received yesterday that were distressing, I came home to a shitty letter from the hospital’s “risk manager.” I knew I shouldn’t have even read it, but I did. So all those good feelings I had after talking with friends are muddled with the frustration that these people at the hospital have literally NO accountability.

Psych wards are nests for abuse. I saw it first hand. Nurses abuse patients and get away with it all the time. They poke and prod and get reactions and those reactions are then labeled “symptoms” of the illness and the patients get abused even further.

I’m so disgusted right now. I’m going to spend the rest of the night eating my feelings away.

 

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Why I Ditched My Pen Names

“If you want people to love you for who you are, take the mask off.” – Quetzal

Writers have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to publishing their work. The name they choose to use can be a big one. I understand why pseudonyms exist, and I don’t have a problem with anyone using one. But I realized recently that my personal reasons for having a pen name were unhealthy and blocking my creativity.

I have had a couple of pseudonyms over the years. There was a time when I blogged under a pen name about leaving my former faith. It was immensely freeing to speak honestly about my struggles with Mormonism without fear of being disciplined by church leaders or hurting family who had not yet known about my faith crisis. It gave me an outlet to process what was going on in my mind and to connect with others who were going through something similar.

Later, I used a pen name to publish a personal story involving religious abuse. This time I was more worried about protecting someone who had emotionally abused me. And I think that’s where I started to realize that maybe this was unhealthy.

Protecting people who’ve hurt me is something that I’ve done throughout my life. I’ve always struggled with emotional boundaries, and I empathize to the point of being unable to be an advocate for myself for fear of upsetting the other person. Because throughout my life, my needs were labeled as ‘selfish’ or hurtful.

I also had this silly fear that if I wrote something and someone would read it, then *gasp* they would know it was me. It was like I wanted to share something with the world, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was sharing it. It made me feel like I wasn’t truly connecting with my readers.

There was also a concern that people I admired or respected might read and dislike my work. But I’ve since come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like my writing. Not everyone is going to like me. And that’s ok. True friends will be there for me regardless of the quality of my writing.

It always felt like a weird tug of war between valuing authenticity while at the same time being afraid of it.

Eventually, because my reasons for using a pseudonym were based in shame and fear, I discovered that it was emotionally stifling to write under a different name.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

When it comes to publishing, attending writer groups, conventions, etc., it’s just a lot easier to have one name for people to associate with you. I tried going to a convention with two names on my badge once and it just didn’t feel right. And, in the end, the writing is the important thing, not the name.

Plus, I’m fond of my name. Larissa means ‘cheerful.’ My last name is my husband’s. And while I don’t believe that women are obligated to adopt their husband’s surname, in my case I’ve come to cherish his as my own. When I found him, I felt like I found home, so it just feels right to me.

So I’m lucky enough to like my name as it is. And if that’s the case, why on earth would I use a pseudonym?

 

We forget you Queen Mab!

I have a lot of great people in my life. Supportive friends and family who were there for me when I was at my worst.

I love my therapist. I will continue to see her every week and will continue to process my trauma with EMDR and CBT therapy for a long time. I don’t want to give the impression from my last post that I’m not currently receiving treatment. I still am.

I’m just getting better and more autonomous with the help I’m receiving, so much so that soon my healthcare providers will no longer have me see the psych nurse at the outpatient clinic. When we receive the right kind of treatment using scientifically backed methods, we get better. And that’s the hope that I’d like to share with others.

I have been officially diagnosed with PTSD, major depression, and generalized anxiety. I know that this will be something I will have to work with for the rest of my life. And that’s ok. Mental illness is something that should be treated and talked about. I don’t feel ashamed to have this illness in the same way someone with cancer or heart disease shouldn’t feel ashamed to have their illnesses. If anyone feels ashamed of their illness, or overly defensive about what people might think of them for having said illness, that is something they should probably talk about with their therapist.

There are healthy coping mechanisms and healthy methods of therapy and treatment from the medical establishment that are (sadly) ignored or shunned. I’m a huge advocate for scientifically proven methods of treatment.

The abusive treatment I received from an unlicensed mental health practitioner in the BDSM community was not at all helpful and not backed by science. My husband has known me for 11 years now. He saw first-hand what happened to me.

Before last year, I had never had a psychotic break in my life. It was triggered when someone accessed repressed memories of my past trauma in a careless and arrogant way. I have always struggled with depression and anxiety, but not psychosis. Cause and effect. Not a difficult concept to understand. This person used hypnosis/BDSM on me and age-regression like therapy to access repressed trauma from my childhood and boom. Psychosis and hospitalization in a mental health unit.

“Many things can cause temporary psychosis. Environmental triggers, such as losing a loved one, are known to contribute, as may excessive stress,[2] or the interaction of strong social demands with a pre-existing vulnerability of self.[3]

Other causes that have been identified include lack of sleep, fever, brain damage, and even hypnosis.[4]””(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotic_break)

The person who hurt me literally boasted after his “therapy” that he had basically done what a regular therapist would have taken years to do in accessing repressed memories. He also bragged that he could “start a cult” if he wanted to. This was witnessed by myself and my husband.

My current therapist, who I have been seeing for about 8 months now, and who I will continue to see, told me why what he did was dangerous. She told me that hypnotherapists have a lot of professional training and need to be held accountable for their practice with licensing standards.

She told me that traumatic childhood memories are repressed FOR A REASON:

To protect the brain.

Repressed trauma and old memories that could be difficult to process should never be just pulled from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind without a stable treatment plan already in place, and without the individual having developed coping mechanisms to address the traumas.

What happened to me was dangerous. My whole family was put at risk. I could choose to be bitter and angry about what happened. I lost a year of my life thanks to an induced mental breakdown. But I made it through, I choose life and living now.

I’d also like to mention that my current therapist is BDSM/kink friendly and sex positive. She explained to me how what happened in my case was not at all kosher. Being manipulated or bullied into a lifestyle is not ok. I had an interest in BDSM before I was abused, for sure. That’s what got me into the situation. But now I just associate it with trauma because that was the pretense for my abuse.

Calling someone a “worthless piece of shit” and then telling the person that they liked to be called a worthless piece of shit because of the way they were raised is abusive. Telling me that my husband needed to “stop being a pussy” and “get with the program” by being a full-time dom is abusive. Trying to forcibly indoctrinate me and my spouse with fake religious beliefs involving “chakras” and “energy” is abusive. Acting as a self appointed mental health guru and accessing repressed trauma via hypnosis and BDSM without a license or accountability is abusive and a con game.

I strongly recommend this article to people in the kink community. It addresses my concerns with nuance and level-headedness and it’s written by someone with a lot of experience in the community:

“Out of context, kink can look like abuse or domestic violence to the outsider, which it decidedly is not. But members of the kink community also aren’t very good at policing our own, and what I see happening again and again is victims of predators being swept under the rug, forced to leave communities that have become intolerable while the predators remain to prey upon the next batch of innocent newbies.”

This whole episode has been very hard for my family. We lost friends. My kids had a broken mom for a while. I have had to give the vague reason of “we had a disagreement” to my child when she wondered why we no longer visit certain people. Of course I would never tell her why, at least not now, because it’s inappropriate to emotionally dump on a child or encourage them to perform an armchair diagnosis on a person. Maybe someday we will have a long conversation about this as grown ups.

I have made mistakes. There are things I did and said when I was unstable that I wish I hadn’t. But my mental breakdown was literally caused by someone who exacerbated my mental illness with his “therapy.” That wasn’t my fault. And I know that. When it comes to this specific issue, I’m self aware, which means I can’t be gaslit by these folks anymore.

I’d also like to talk about my references to cults. Of course, I know that BDSM itself is not a cult. But it is very possible for cult-like dynamics to establish in kink “families.” People in cults don’t know they are in a cult. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in it! When I was a Mormon, I was terrified of apostates (people who’ve renounced belief in the church and its leaders). I thought they were dangerous and scary people who might hurt me and my family. How could they accuse church leaders of being abusive? How could they say that the system isn’t perfect?! There must be something wrong with them.

I don’t blame Mormons for that. I don’t blame fundamentalists for that either. Rigid belief systems are hard to challenge. Cognitive dissonance is scary. It’s much easier to just label people who leave as unstable or crazy or dangerous than to critically address why a person had to leave the group.

As a penultimate point, I’d like to talk about the KonMari method.  It has changed my life in so many positive ways. I’d strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to make their home into a zen clutter-free sanctuary. It basically advocates only keeping things which “spark joy.” I have applied that to my home and I’ve noticed this philosophy has started to creep into other areas of my life.

From now on, I refuse to read or seek out anything that I know will make me feel bad or hurt me (that’s the opposite of KonMari!). I talked with a friend about it today, and she made me laugh. She told me it’s human nature to poke something that hurts and say “Ouch! That hurt!” But it’s just smart and common sense to stop poking at it altogether when you realize no good will come from it.

And so I won’t “poke it” anymore. 🙂

Lastly, I’d like to end with a scene from Merlin. It’s one of my favorite scenes of all time. The mythology of the story here is that old gods fade out of existence when people forget them. And so Merlin defeats the evil faerie Queen Mab by turning his back on her at the end of the film and saying “We forget you Queen Mab!” I love the meaning here. It’s worth a watch! (Start at the 2 min 30 second mark.)

Best wishes, and farewell.