Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peripheral hallucinations © Megan Snider

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless,
one's own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror's least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O'erlooking a superior spectre
More near.

--Dickinson, "XXIX. Ghosts" (click to read)

Peripheral hallucinations--what are they? I'll tell you. Peripheral hallucinations occur with psychosis and should be in the psychosis post, but they're not. There are so many symptoms and overlapping criteria, that I am bound to miss something. So, you will either have to grab my clammy hand and come along or be totally fed up with my jumping from subject to subject. I hope you will just take my hand, for what it's worth.

Peripheral hallucinations can occur with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and, of course, any sort of psychosis. Peripheral hallucinations are misinterpretations in thought brought on by psychosis. The object of the hallucination fluctuates from person to person-- one person may hallucinate differently than another. Do you recall when I told you about "mis-seeing" things? Peripheral hallucinations fall under this category. It is basically anything from seeing an amorphous blog to a human figure out of the corner of your eye. You may also feel a menacing "presence"on all sides of you. Paranoia is a symptom of psychosis and these disturbances are usually accompanied by massive fear.

Now, there is an occurrence where Schizophrenics, Bipolars, and Schizoaffectives can "mis-see" texts as well as shapes. I am unsure if this has a separate name. Sometimes they will mistakenly see profanities or misread words or jumble patterns.

It is not always dramatic. A mentally ill person does not necessarily see a man wielding a knife or a face in the darkened window while they're in the house alone. Now, they CAN, but they don't always. They may just see a shape or a color and it is no big deal. The affect of the hallucination has to do with the progression of the psychosis.

They are quite terrifying depending on what one might see. The variety and sheer horror involved in the hallucination depends wholly upon the person and the disturbance in his or her brain. I'm not quite sure if anyone believes their hallucinations are real; I'm sure some might be inclined to believe so. Considering the strageness of mental illness and the tragedy of it, I would say that is not such a far-fetched idea.

I will say that such experiences can't be easily shrugged off one's shoulders.

© Megan Snider

Devil's Move © Megan Snider

"And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed."
--Shelley "Ozymandias" (click to read)

"In the history of oppression, using haloperidol is kind of like detaining people in Abu Ghraib,"
--Nigel Rodley, former United Nations special investigator on torture

Haldol gained notoriety in the Soviet Union, where it was often given to political dissidents imprisoned in psychiatric hospitals. (click to read.)

I am outraged. WHAT are we DOING to our mental health patients? Haldol is used to absolutely retard the whole body, leaving the drugged person half-alive, slurring, tongue lolling out and eyes rolled back, convulsing and twitching.

Haldol is used in TORTURE. No, no-- read it again: HALDOL IS USED IN TORTURE.
That leaves one to deduce that therefore Haldol IS torture.

I read this story and I was speechless. There are many more-- go ahead, read them. This one in the Washington Post, this one from a Soviet Union report; it's all there and it's undeniable.

Have you ever heard of Thorazine? Thorazine knocks you off your feet if you're Schizophrenic. Haldol is FIFTY times more powerful than Thorazine. Oh, there's no denying Haldol "works" but it's sort of like selling this for that-- bartering pieces of humanity for pieces of normality. I'll wager my sex drive for psychosis, my arousal for paranoia, my ability to feel and my intricate sensation system for a nice steady walk. I'll also wager a pretty face for tics that make men laugh at me and red-lipped smile for an involuntary sneer.

I'm a 24-year-old woman. How would you feel if I approached you, twisting my body, my lips wriggling and my eyes batting unsteadily? So ein Pech we Germans would say.

When I used to watch movies or documentaries about the mentally ill in psychiatric hospitals, I assumed that their movements were due to their state of mind. Now, sometimes, in some illness, this is correct. I did not have the life experience to realize that those movements-- those movements that "tell" other people they're crazy, right?-- are actually brought on by the brutal and invasive regimens of psychotropic drugs. Those who cannot be "rehabilitated" (I find this word inappropriate) are just doped up, numbed, bound and gagged with pharmaceuticals. Who cares if you twitch and twist as long as you're quiet and look appropriately sedated?

The anger I feel from treatment is due to my circumstances. When I was told to seek help for Panic Disorder, I was 17 years old. I had had Panic Disorder as far back as I could remember-- even before sixth grade. So, when my parents said no to the drugs, I felt like they were saying no to the cure.

We eventually tried drugs.

We've been trying drugs ever since. My diagnosis has broadened.

There is no cure.

The best hope is lowly "adequate" treatment.

And, after that, there's always the threat of drug tolerance.

Why must one bargain for one's health?


Why must one bargain for one's life?

I suppose it is not up to me to ponder these questions. But, I do. What does it take to get well and when will we find it? Can you see my hopelessness? Do you see the deals with the devil we must make to seem "normal"?

The mentally ill have no voice-- their tongues are twisted up in their mouths like fat snakes, their veins bulge from constant pressure in the muscles and rigor in their arms and legs. They can't speak because pills are crammed down their throats.

It would be different if the pills could actually "cure", but they can't. And therein lies the great shame. We're still treating patients with Haldol. Haldol was approved by the FDA in 1967. It is on the list of essential psychiatric care drugs. It has the ability to stop acute psychosis and land you in the E.R. if you have a low seizure thresh hold and if you don't take the counter-acting anti-spasm pills. But to be normal, for that hope to be normal, for that dream to enjoy moments and not fear them, the mentally ill allow doctors to subject them to their best "cure-alls."
With a bunch of this will do the tricks and I believe this will helps.

And since then it's been a game of chess with the devil;

he moves;

we move;

no one wins.

© Megan Snider

Wondering About Just © Megan Snider

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh..."
--Kerouac On the Road (You have to buy this one, kids-- no click to read)

A couple things happened the other day which is bringing Schizophrenia to my attention. It seems to sort of keep looking back up at me from the sidewalk. I'm not going to do an in-depth blog about Schizophrenia without having a lot of ammunition, so you'll have to wait for that one.

I read a man's post on the Internet talking about how he was a teacher and during school he would wonder if he were real and if the students could see him. I'm not sure if the experience terrified him or not. I can't recall the text. Anyway, he mentioned that he was diagnosed as a high-functioning schizophrenic, which is basically what happened with me. But, I still carry confusion with me about the diagnosis. It was rejected by family, horrified my friends and startled me a little bit because I've always been terrified of becoming schizophrenic. Confusion compounds the fact that my counselor disagrees with this diagnosis yet the therapist keeps pushing Haldol at me. Haldol was primarily developed to treat schizophrenia and is still diagnosed for that purpose along with the treatment of psychosis and delirium. It is used for people who have frequent relapses in their mental health.

"You don't have it bad--otherwise you wouldn't be sitting here talking to me."

What, I have a touch of it? Well, sir, you're a touch of an #$@#^%.

Whatever I have doesn't feel great. I don't feel like being on a Metlife commercial or anything.

"For the ifs in life-- like what if you were diagnosed as schizophrenic..."

That's the first thing.

The second thing is something that came to my attention yesterday and today. Yesterday my mother was asking me to look at some writing to determine if someone was really schizophrenic or just pretending. Today I read some of Kerouac's writing and the preposition placement and usage surprised me as well as the fusion and inner combustion of some of the words. Apparently his writing is coined as "Spontaneous Prose". Ok, I can buy that, I suppose. He wrote thirty guidelines to apply to his prose. I'm not going to reproduce them here and frankly, I'm a little scared to reprint some of them here. Ha ha? I like numbers 19 and 29.

19. Accept loss forever
29. You're a Genius all the time

Hm. Sounds a little like my philosophy, too. You're either great or nothing. Anyway, back to the blog. I'm familiar with the "word salad" effect in schizophrenia and everyone knows all the telltale signs, of course. But the placement of words is interesting. Kerouac, might I point out, did not learn English until he was six and spoke French. I know, it must have been horrible for him...French...Oh no...(LOL.)

Sometimes, especially as I've gotten older, I have to reread things quite a bit. I "
mis-see" (I will have another blog about this, too. It has a name-- seriously...) things or I see another word. Sometimes the words knock together in my head and I have to get them to sit down in their seats and settle down so I can take roll call and make a sentence out of the present ones and nonsense out of the tardies. Kerouac made me do that several times. Look at some of the entries from the list:

Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy

Submissive to everything, open, listening

Be in love with your life

Something that you feel will find its own form

Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind

Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

The unspeakable visions of the individual

No time for poetry but exactly what is

Visionary tics shivering in the chest

In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you

Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog

The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye

Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea

Accept loss forever

Believe in the holy contour of life

Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind

Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better

Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning

No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge

Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it

Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form

In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness

Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better

You're a Genius all the time

Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

I don't have a problem with the wording. I actually like it. But, I am getting a headache again. The "Visionary tics shivering in the chest" remark makes me wonder if he was prescribed Haldol, too. Ha ha.

I'll come back to this post later.

© Megan Snider

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Infamous Mrs. Eliot © Megan Snider

"I came to persuade myself that I was in love with Vivienne simply because I wanted to burn my boats and commit myself to staying in England. And she persuaded herself (also under the influence of Pound) that she would save the poet by keeping him in England. To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land."
--Eliot, writing about Vivienne Haigh-Wood-Eliot

I've read a lot concerning Eliot's relationship with his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood. For some reason, it is not until tonight I feel quite so sorry for her. I've read this story before in a seperate book, but I'll leave it here for your reference. (Click to read.)

Strangely enough, I can see myself as the next Vivienne Haigh-Wood. I don't run, but I have walked after a few ambitious male writers. LOL. I guess my high esteem of Eliot took away from the fact that he did not do a great deal to rehabilitate his wife. It is possible he did not know what to do or he did not care. It seems as if he rather abandoned her now that I see the story again. I always saw Vivienne as an interference because I believe he married her for the wrong reasons-- but that was not her failure; it was his. Assertions of his suppressed homosexuality also spring up which I will not really go into detail about. (I have had headaches for three weeks now; leave me be.)

I'm not sure why I have a renewed sympathy for Vivienne. I went over "The Wasteland" with my mother the other day-- yes, it's true; I did-- and she pointed out that Eliot's supposed answers to his wife in the poem did little to help soothe her condition.

Supposedly, so I was once taught once upon a class, the quoted sections are mimicking Vivienne, while the unquoted remarks are Eliot.

'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.

'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.

'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?

'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'

I think we are in rats' alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

'What is that noise?'

The wind under the door.

'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'

Nothing again nothing.


'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember


I remember

Those are pearls that were his eyes.

'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'


O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—

It's so elegant

So intelligent

'What shall I do now? What shall I do?'

'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street

'With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?

'What shall we ever do?'

The hot water at ten.

And if it rains, a closed car at four.

And we shall play a game of chess,

Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.

I'm not sure where the passage ends; there is interference from a number of voices in the poem. But, you can see the general idea. Eliot is in blue; his wife is in red. The passages I am unsure about are left in the color of the regular text. I will not assume anything about Eliot. That's a good way to get kicked in the pearly whites.

Vivienne's condition was marked down to "hysteria" thanks to the wonderful attention doctors pay to women in particular. It seems to be a "nerve condition" or, more appropriately, an Anxiety Disorder and psychosis from the paranoia. Strangely enough, both Vivienne and Eliot display disordered thought. Eliot's passages clearly state apathy, lethargy, and depression. He's not hard to nail down in this respect.

The Shakespeare reference, I can explain thanks to an excellent doctor I once had. I wondered about that for a long time. But, my headache is pounding and I'm concerned over my writing status. So, not tonight; I have a headache. LOL.

© Megan Snider

I've had enough with critics and editors! Enough! Enough! Enough! (Especially ones with no degrees.) Everyone's a critic, eh?

If you have complaints, send them to: kissmyfoot@idon'

Writers with Mental Illness © Megan Snider

Writers with Mental Illness

Charles Dickens--Clinical Depression
Sylvia Plath--Clinical Depression, possibly Bipolar Disorder
Ernest Hemingway-- Clinical Depression, possibly Bipolar Disorder
Tennessee Williams--Clinical Depression
Franz Kafka-- Clinical Depression, Anxiety Disorder
John Keats-- Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder
Leo Tolstoy-- Clinical Depression
Virginia Woolf-- Bipolar Disorder
Edgar Allan Poe-- Clinical Depression, possibly Bipolar Disorder
F. Scott Fitzgerald-- Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder
Lord Byron-- Bipolar Disorder
Samuel Taylor Coleridge-- Bipolar Disorder
Ralph Waldo Emerson-- Bipolar Disorder
Herman Melville-- Clinical Depression
Friedrich Nietzsche-- Clinical Depression
Kurt Vonnegut-- Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder
T.S. Eliot-- Clinical Depression (and the wifey, too-- Vivienne Haigh-Wood)
Anne Rice-- Clinical Depression
Anne Sexton-- Clinical Depression
JK Rowling-- Clinical Depression
Amy Tan-- Clinical Depression
Mark Twain-- Clinical Depression
Walt Whitman-- Clinical Depression
Jack Kerouac-- Schizophrenia

If you have anyone to add, please drop me a line with the author and his or her disorder. This list is in no way complete. It probably never will be. I dispute some of the folks and diagnoses on this list, but who am I to criticize?

It is not uncommon for Bipolar Disorder to couple up with severe Clinical Depression. When I began to study mental illness, I had trouble with this concept. Now that it possibly has happened to me, I have less of a problem rationalizing it and accepting it.

We must not forget that spectrum disorders like Schizoaffective Disorder have not been identified enough to be applied to this list. So consider the diagnoses you see here as broad labels, but frank confirmations of some mental illness present in the author.

Keep in mind also that severe emotional disturbance and depression can create psychosis-- just as severe fear can generate it. So, by no means marginalize these authors and say, "Oh, he or she ONLY had THIS."

Also, do not rule out drug use pertaining to these authors. Drug usage intensifies and antagonizes mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses link hands quite frequently and easily, sort of like a game of "Red Rover" gone out of control. Once they link hands and the more comrades that are added to the line, the harder it is for you to break free and the more painful the attempts become. Skinned knees, raw elbows, a bloody nose, a black eye, a chipped or missing tooth are the physical symptoms of the psychological scars we carry for trying to break through that damned line.

I had a professor who used to say in response to my confession of mental illness, "You are in good company."

I believe he meant that all writers and artists go through a similar journey through Hell.

© Megan Snider

So, don't despair for you are in good company.

Indeed. The thought of that is a lullaby that hums me quietly to sleep.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Great Speech © Megan Snider


Ha ha! Look, it includes T.S. Eliot. I guess I'm not the only one who thought he might have been mentally ill.

I must admit, I'm not quite sure who this fellow is. His speech is nice, though. That's all I will say about that.

© Megan Snider

Yes, I am familar with NAMI (the National Alliance for Mental Health). I will say nothing more than that.

Crisis of Faith © Megan Snider

"Burning burning burning burning

O Lord Thou pluckest me out

O Lord Thou pluckest


--Eliot "The Wasteland" (click to read)

I've been under a huge amount of stress lately-- mainly with men (who never stay), friends, jobs, and my general deterioration of mental health. My father tells me that my descriptions of my mental symptoms are vague. I used expressions such as "I don't feel real," "I feel like there is a thunderstorm in my brain," "I felt like an inanimate object when I took Haldol (but it helped.)"

This may be for a combination of reasons. Aside from snickers of Schizophrenia, my description of my mental states may simply be over-worded or abstract because of my ongoing heated affair with words. I don't want to use words like other people do.

Since my bout with Tardive Dyskenisia, which I basically consider a strong seizure or brain malfunction, I feel quite damaged. My body went through Hell for three hours and I still feel the electrical pain of that rigor and it stalks me in my memories and dreams. Since the T.D., my brain has not felt right. Now, I have gone through a depressive episode since then which I am still in. It is quite severe. Nonetheless, my brain feels like it has been scorched too long in God's furnace. That's why I stuck that quote in from Eliot. I am a burning woman for many reasons, but primarily tonight my brain burns.

I have made the statement on many occasions that my brain hurts. I feel quite a lot of pain in my head. I have been suffering headaches for three weeks. I don't want this blog to turn into the "poor me chronicles". I am interested to know if anyone else with mental illness experiences "brain pain" or, as I like to call it, "brain freeze". Though, I must admit, there is little freezing in the neuropathological pain.

Kafka came out with his pain. That is why I love him dearest. Dickinson’s life vaguely mimics mine—we both hide, though I am no wordsmith to that degree. Eliot, I believe to a great deal, lied about his circumstances. I’ve read a lot about him and generally he seemed to have it together. The word I’d like to underline in that prior sentence is “seemed”. His wife, as we all know, was ill. Yes, yes, Mrs. Eliot, ill, yes, yes, allusions to her in “The Wasteland.” Maybe it is the use of the voices in “The Wasteland” that points me to the conclusions of mental illness in the poem. That could very well be it. So much of what I read there points me towards psychosis and schizophrenia and delusions and a general disarray of scattered mental health problems.

Some of his other poems give off this impression and some do not. So, I will leave Mr. Eliot alone. You may very well point out that I am hiding again, picking apart poets. Yes, you are quite right. I find comfort in that. Poets, whether they want to be or not, are my friends. Ah, maybe I should say their words are my friends. That is better.

But I seem to exist in a haze and where my written word succeeds, my spoken word falters. I search for words, I forget words, if I try to speak too quickly sometimes I stutter or my tongue stumbles over words. My word order is also wrong most of the time. I know these are common cognitive impairments brought on by psychoactive drugs, yet the drugs aren’t helping much. My parents say I seem better when I’m off the drugs, yet that is when I feel the most vulnerable. Yet the drugs…The drugs do not make the psychosis shrink or the depression crumble or the panic shudder…Ah, it is all a paradox and I am trapped in the middle. What to do?

Pluckest thou me out, O Lord? <---(This sentence seems wrong to me somehow and I used German question structure on it since I was a little unsure of how to phrase it.) Somehow my faith falters. Author's note: "Pluckest thou me out, O Lord?" <---(This sentence seems wrong to me somehow. I used German question structure on it since I was a little unsure of how to phrase it.) German question structure: Verb-nominative-direct object-mashed potatoes-corn on the cob LOL German students, are you laughing?

© Megan Snider

Depression and Motor Skill Retardation © Megan Snider

"Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht,
Das Leben ist der schwüle Tag.
Es dunkelt schon, mich schläfert,
Der Tag hat mich müd' gemacht.
Über mein Bett erhebt sich ein Baum,
Drin singt die junge Nachtigall;
Sie singt von lauter Liebe,
Ich hör es sogar im Traum."

--Heine (87.) (Click to read)

Literal translation (by Megan Snider)

I have omitted confusing elements of German grammar for the reader's sake

The death is the cool night
The life is the hot day
It will be dark soon; I'll sleep
The day has made me tired
Over my bed rises a tree
In it sings the young Nightingale
She sings loudly about love
I hear it as if from a dream

I'm not sure why I'm writing this post. I guess to get it out in the open. I'm writing again from Hell. I will make no corny jokes about the floor show or the waiting list or the occupants. As far as I can see the occupancy is one. No, I am not boo-hooing into a glass of whiskey. I am downing Diet Pepsi and working on drafts and rewrites sluggishly as I type to you. This is called depression and it is real.

Heine wrote in his poem about how life was a hot day and death was the cool night. As he writes, the singing Nightingale on a branch semi-wakes him to the thought of love and life and he despairs. I love this poem. I related to my counselor that I pray before I go to sleep that I won't wake up. Not to disturb anyone, but wouldn't it be nice just to drift off in a Xanax dream and never wake up again?

Ah, maybe I scare you. I apologize, reader(s). I'm not sure if you've come here because you know what this place is about or you want to know what this place is about. Sometimes I am afraid to be honest, because I am unsure how my words reverberate in your mind.

I wanted to write to you today about a symptom related to severe depression, which I have. I cannot say I battle it; to this day it has me pinned. When it gets bad-- when men reject me or lead me on, then off, when friends hurt me, when love sours, when I am made a fool-- I crumble.

The French word for orgasm is "petit mort" which means, "little death." As a German speaker and of German ancestry, naturally, I spit at the French and I'm not quite sure why they would call an orgasm that. Petit mort would be a better term for depression. Severe depression could then be the "big death" or, as we Deutsche say, "Der große Tod."

What's wrong with the French, anyway?

Now, now, that's enough of that. Break it up, you two.

So, let's talk about the big death. Severe (Clinical) Depression will kill you. You can forget your petit morts with depression altogether. Now, what I wanted to talk about specifically is the retardation of motor skills seen with severe depression. People assume naturally that it is cliche to shut down with depression. Oh, oh, no, it is not.

Let me share something with you for the sake of making a point. The night after I graduated from college, I knew everything was over for me. I have Panic Disorder. That means I have panic attacks every day-- even if I don't leave the house. For those of you who have never experienced a panic attack and believe a little panic is nothing to worry about, I envy you in your ignorance.

I have overwhelming depression. There was a character in the film "Gormenghast" who went around prophetically yelling, "DARKNESS! DARKNESS!" It was hilarious to watch, but I may as well be that man.

So, back to the story for illustration. The night after I graduated, I knew I was doomed. Job worthy by credentials, yes, job un-worthy by the mentals, yes, of course. So, I thought that it might be a nice night to drink. Usually when I say drink I mean pop or coffee or juice, but this time I meant liquor.

I had never drank before.

I drove to the county line liquor store and bought the cheapest Vodka I could find. It's all the same poison-- right? Down the hatch. I took it home and when my parents went to bed, I began to drink. I had panic attacks while drinking, but I kept going. It could be due to the German genes in me or the alcoholism in my family, but I could not stop drinking. I wanted to drink until I forgot my life and forgot that I was mentally ill. That point never came. That point will never come-- no matter if you drink pop, juice, or vodka. I drank for three hours straight non stop. Sip, sip, sip from a kitchen cup, waiting for the pleasant numb of oblivion. Do I need to tell you again that it never came?

I recall a point where it hurt to move and I laid in one position. Here's where the point comes in-- that feeling, that pain upon movement and life-- is depression at its deepest, darkest core. When you hit the bottom, it hurts to live. Like Heine said, the sunlight sears, the darkness cools-- the singing of the bird from the branch brings moans and pangs of torture-- of knowing that you have survived the night and must continue on alone, again, pretending that the thought of another day isn't a bloody nose or a fat lip or a crushed eye socket.

When severe depression hit again yesterday, for reasons I must not disclose, I was unable to move or work. I laid in bed all day. No T.V. blaring, no fans to cool me, no books, no noise-- only text messages from "friends" telling me how I'd "failed" and "blew it." I can't tell you what I am writing about, I can only tell you the circumstances.

I rose oh so slowly to go downstairs to take a dose of God-knows-what for God-knows-why, thinking that my parents would be in bed. My mother was still up. As she spoke to me she pointed out that I moved and spoke slowly and inquired if I had overdosed on benzodiazepines. I had not. What she was seeing, as my counselor and I agreed, was motor retardation applied to severe depression. It's not laziness. It's not overdose. It's literally walking death.

Motor skill retardation is the screeching halt of the muscles. The gait slows, the mouth slows, the eyes slow, the arms and legs, the twisting and pulling-- everything shuts down and switches off. Why? Because the mind has slowed and has given up hope. The body follows the mind. Evidence shows that during major depressive episodes fine motor skills slow as well as gross motor skills.

Fine motor skills are movements of small muscles such as in the fingers, thumbs, and eyes. This also applies to hand eye coordination.

Gross motor skills usually follow patterns and involve large muscles, which develop before small, intricate muscles. Babies usually learn gross motor skills first in addition to learning how to control their eye movements.

Retardation of these skills hints to a deep problem. I suppose that no longer wanting to live could be considered a deep problem. This is not written for offense or shock value-- rather for "truth" value.

Think about that and watch for it in your loved ones. Sometimes things are not so easy to define in life. Watch, look, and listen. Someone might need you.

© Megan Snider

Sources Cited:

Fine Motor Skills
Gross Motor Skills

Author's note: Ah, yes, I realize the era of citing from Wikipedia is over and it is frowned upon. It is still good for the general once-over glance in my humble opinion. Sometimes I need information quickly and simply, like one might need a hamburger quickly and simply-- hence, Wikidonald's.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Psychosis © Megan Snider

"And this is not my face
And this is not my life
And there is not a single thing here
I can recognize
This is all a dream
And none of you are real
I'll give anything I'll give anything..."
--Reznor, "Head Down" (click to read)

Let’s talk about psychosis today. A psychotic person is not a psychopath. You must realize this. Write it on the back of your hand for reference. Tattoo it on your back. Remember what I tell you.


A psychotic person is not a psychopath.

With this blog, I struggle between the use of first and third person pronouns. Should I say “I” or “she”? Sylvia Plath used “she” for “I” in The Bell Jar. She used “she” for “I” often. I hesitate between “she” and “I” simply because I don’t want to be Exhibit A in the Looney Tunes section of Ward B.

That’s how we treat mental illness, right? It’s funny. Straight jackets are funny. Padded rooms are funny. People that drool from Thorazine (Chlorpromazine) are funny, right? Paranoid Schizophrenics are funny, too, aren’t they?

It’s funny until it happens to you.

So, psychosis, let’s deal with it. Let’s look at it. If you’re scared, that’s ok; you should be. Psychosis is terrifying and can be the result of a mental disorder or can be a torture all by its lonesome self.

In the 1950s they used to stick needles behind the orbital sockets and skewer the brain like hamburger to get rid of it. The effect was permanent brain damage. Once again, thank you, mental health centers. They called it a Frontal Lobotomy. If it were the 1950s now, I would be walking around in white with half my brain shaved off. Simply because of the horrible fact that many psychiatrists cannot realize the total sum of differences between dissociation and psychosis.I actually read an article that suggested a new treatment for psychosis was to disrupt or destroy a portion of the frontal lobe to subdue psychosis. This is the rebirth of the Frontal Lobotomy. We put it in a new pair of boots and a new jacket, but it’s still the same sadism. Still the same, loving, biting, painful psychiatric care that all of us should be used to by now.

This will make you better– by the way, do you have insurance?

If you don’t have insurance, we can only destroy one section of your brain and not the whole lobe.

So what is psychosis? Simply put, it’s a break from reality. You have experienced psychosis and you probably don’t know it.

Did you ever believe something that wasn’t true?
That’s a delusion. Talk to folks with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia about that.

Did you ever hear a noise when no one was there? A foot on the stairway or a knock at the door? Did you get up to answer the doorbell and there was all of nothing standing on the other side of that cherry or oak door?


Di d y our thou ghts eve r go like thi s an d you coul dn’t s top the m?

Did you ever have trouble or think you didn’t fit in?

Did you ever think someone might be able to see through you and tell what you were thinking?
Were you ever scared you were paper-thin and see through and translucent?

Hey, let’s give you a pat on the back and a push through the door.

You just experienced psychosis.

Virginia Slims would say: “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

It’s not really funny, is it?

Did you laugh when that happened to you? Then why do you laugh if it happens to me or her or him?

Psychosis may be present with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Panic Disorder, Clinical Depression, unspecified mental disorders, sleep deprivation, epilepsy, extreme trauma, brain tumors, drug abuse, severe stress, brain damage, and drug withdrawal.
Oh, man– Oh, no– That means…It could happen to anyone…Jeez…Man….Oh my God….

Yeah, that’s right, you just got a bingo on your score-card.

Psychosis is a scary term and it’s a scary problem to have.

If I had a lobotomy for every time someone told me that…

© Megan Snider

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Antipsychotic Trinity Gospel © Megan Snider

I have some things I should probably mention about antipsychotics before I let my experience with Tardive Dyskensia slide. So, I'm going to cover them today.

The first thing you should know is that as far as antipsychotics are concerned, there are three "generations."

The First Generation-- Typical Antipsychotics, 1950
The first generation came with Haldol. Haldol was the first antipsychotic developed, is the oldest, and provides the kind of psychiatric care you might read about in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Haldol is also dirt cheap. Thanks to the Wal-Mart $5.00, prescription plan, you can buy a nice pill jar of Haldol, look in the mirror, and watch the muscles in your mouth spasm. Haldol is a strong drug and often administered in strong doses. Haldol is what they give Schizophrenics to shut them up when they can no longer provide care. They just shoot them full of Haldol injections monthly and let them jitter and spasm. Thank you, mental health centers.


Even with the drug, you will still twitch.

Antipsychotics are used both to treat Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorders. Generally speaking, these two illnesses are eerily alike. Aside from that you have Schizoaffective Disorder, Psychosis, and it continues on down the spectrum of disorders mixed with conception of reality and conception of mood and personality.

The Second Generation--Atypical Antipsychotics, 1950-1970
The second generation also began in the 1950s, but continued into the 1970s. These drugs are generally safer. I, myself, had taken Zyprexa for three years without an anti-spasm drug and had no effects. Zyprexa, at first, stopped my mind from racing and helped me get to sleep. After a while, it did nothing but make me gain weight.

The Third Generation-- Abilify and Bifeprunox, Currently being tested
The third generation of antipsychotics is still in testing, basically. Abilify has been trumpeted as the Messiah of antipsychotics, but its true effects remain to be seen. I assume the third generation is safer than the second and requires no anti-spasm medication.

Never forget, ANY antipsychotic can cause: Aranulocytosis, Tardive dyskinesia, Tardive akathisia, Tardive psychoses and Tardive dysphrenia.

That's really all I would like to mention in effect to that situation for now.

© Megan Snider

Friday, May 29, 2009

Depression Speaks © Megan Snider

"Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well."
--Plath "Lady Lazarus" (click to read)

I think that Plath had her finger right on the waning pulse of depression. Depression is a cycle, mostly. It may not feel like one, but it is.

I'm going to do an experiment, since I have just been roused out of my ignorant days of happiness and hope by the punch in the jaw of the fist of reality. I've just had another handful of teeth knocked out by depression again.

Here's a quite tame expression of clinical depression for your observation.

On the surface, we have the steady throbbing emptiness of total despair that wastes away at the soul.

The threadbare linen, the white shroud that haphazardly clings to the being.

Then we have the being, the hard shell and the center that is in all actuality a whirlwind.

It does not take much to start depression back up again because it never really goes away.

A tooth pulled, a finger sliced, a black eye-- always affirmed with those everlasting aches.

The heart, bruised and tarnished with years of stains and regret and sweat-- false hope and false dreams-- finally learns to beat for no reason other than to write.

I write because I can. Everything can and will be taken away from me with time. Bluntly put, time destroys everything and somehow my touch causes empires to crumble-- not because of my power, but because of the shrug in my shoulder and the void in my eyes-- because I fail and am a failure.

I guess maybe the last thing I have is the alphabet. That is funny to say, but it is true. A word, some words, a lie, some lies-- it's all the same-- it all comes out the same way and reaches the same end-- with a gigantic accumulation of absolute nothing.

The hopes of youth, the hopes of passion, the hopes of victory-- the hope of something-- all disappear

--From my hands.

--Just give it time.

This is a tame example. It's been edited and watered down so no one gets too scared or disturbed.

Most people with Bipolar Disorder commit suicide during their manias because they know what is coming next-- the fall...and the crushed spirit and broken bones: Incapacitation.

If you understand metaphors, then you can see what I'm driving at here.

The desire to be pulled to the grave, as I related before when I quoted from "Tithonus".

Nothing is lower than this moment.

But it lasts forever.

I know why Plath put that tape on the door frame and put her head in the oven.

Do you?

© Megan Snider

Family Therapy © Megan Snider

"There is nothing wrong with me but myself."
--Franz Kafka

I think, in my opinion, Franz Kafka is the poster child for the relationship between the child with mental illness and the parent. Kafka had, it seems to me, anxiety disorders and I know for a fact that he had Clinical Depression.

When I read Kafka's diaries, sometimes it is like looking into a mirror. I mean that with no disrespect because on many occasions I have referred to Franz Kafka as my "dead boyfriend".

That's why he never calls.

Seriously, I suppose this should be done, because I've gone through similar struggles with my own parents. In one respect, I understand what Kafka says to his father and in his famous "Brief Der Vater" ("Letter to Father"), on certain days of the week, I feel ashamed that sometimes my parents may blame themselves for my condition.

Let me say this once-- aside from chemical imbalances, passed on traits, and shared attitudes-- my condition and my parents have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Mental illness starts up in little ways-- maybe you don't notice at first or maybe you do-- when you hit 23-25, you're usually exhibiting full-blown symptoms. This is what I read and, from my point of view, it is certainly true. In my senior year of college (I had two senior years LOL) I began to really break down. Of course, various events and attitudes have helped to set me off, but that can't be helped. I have always had Panic Disorder, but when it set it again something else came with it.

As far as "dealing" with mental illness goes, NO ONE has the capacity to cure it. Parents, doctors, and even the mentally ill themselves can do similar things and gestures, but the best result is a suppression of illness-- not a remission. My own doctor gave me pills that gave me involuntary muscle spasms/rigidity/tardive dyskensia for three hours. What does that say?

I do resent, honestly, being told to be positive because I feel like the same treasures that other people find in their lives were not created for me to enjoy. I feel like I live in this fringe of society for various reasons and that my life is not entitled to joy and companionship or anything along those lines. I don't just "feel" that; I believe it.

Cycles in my life have convinced me that I am simply not going to have the things I want; that all I can hope for at best is to bury myself in pages and ink pens and web pages and pretend like being alone and being mentally ill doesn't effect me.

I think symptoms are beginning to pile up in my life. Within the last week and a half ago I completed 32 published articles. Yesterday I sat in front of the computer screen and cried. Today I felt the familiar feeling of not wanting wake up.

But that had nothing to do with my parents.

I do not blame them for my illness and I am proud of the legacy I come from. I resent the "positive attitude" talks and the "self-fulfilling prophecy" talks. I resent the fact that when I am upset, I must be having some sort of specific woman's problem or be having hormonal issues. I resent the fact that people with AIDs or cancer get to live "brave" and "noble" lives, while people with mental illnesses are just insane.

Franz Kafka said something to the effect that he felt like the point in the crack of a cup where the pressure is applied the hardest. I agree. Emily Dickinson never came out of her room. When she began to fall in love with a man whom she had been exchanging letters with, she quit writing. I have fallen in love with men and then said to myself, "It's time to stop now." And I've snapped the necks of plenty of my dreams. T.S. Eliot wrote in "The Wasteland" that he could connect nothing to nothing with his hands. I agree.

When I make comparisons between authors and my condition, sometimes people think I am claiming to be as great as they are. No, I'm not. What I'm saying is that it helps me to know that geniuses had mental illnesses, too. When they wrote, they brought their conditions-- purposely or not-- out into light and into the arena of speculation. If you can't see how I feel, then you could go read one of these authors and figure it out to a small, small degree.

Not only that, but these writers are revered. They didn't go around drooling, with red eyes, and monster claws. But, they did suffer in some way or another.

My doctor is not sharing my diagnosis with me. I specifically asked and he specifically said nothing. So, aside from Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and Clinical Depression with Psychotic Features, I am left to choose between two disorders to account for the rest of my diagnosis.

At the mention of those prior disorders, I have no doubt that some people reading now fear me. It's alright, I've been down that road before. I just hope that if you are one of those people, that in your hour or HOURS of need, society will also snicker and laugh softly at you, too.

But, my parents did not create these diagnostic criteria and they did not push me into them. It's like I'm in a locked closet door and they're banging on the other side. It's like we're looking at the same picture, but I am looking at the portrait upside down.

To all parents of children or "adult children" with mental illness: IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.
To all the people who have mental illnesses: Find comfort in what you can.

Understand that you cannot understand your child and also understand that your child cannot understand you all the time. Understand? (Ha ha. Get it?-- "Understand..." Well, I'd like to see you do better...)

Anger comes from fear, sadness and regret from realization. Over time these usual feelings of doubt, pain, torture, and anger become real somehow. You begin to feel like your life will never change. You will go on loving the same people without them loving you, you will have the same conflicting desires to be seen and disappear, to yell and shut up, to cry and scream, to fantasize and to realize.

The reason your children don't believe you when you try to help is them is because they don't believe themselves. They no longer believe nor belong in their own dreams, aspirations, and fantasies. The realism of county mental hospitals, rounds of horrifying drugs PROMISED TO HELP, days of isolation of staying in bed, inabilities to find a mate, a purpose or comfort have all been bent down and formed with the weight of realization.

My mom said to me the other day in response to something, "I know what I am."

Well, I know what I am, too.

And I hate it.

That does not mean I hate you. I hate that as parents and children, we no longer understand each other.

It was once common for mental illness theories to center around mothers. That was the fifties. Those theories are now debunked and not accepted by the mainstream of psychiatry treatment practictioners.

For reference, they were called "Refrigerator Mother" theories. They were called that because they centered on a mother who was cold and did not nurture enough in the early stages of a child's development.

In reality, I have more trouble with my father than I do with my mother.

Actually, the term "Refrigerator Mother" simply makes me hungry. Refrigerators are a good thing for me-- think of all the food they have in them. That is a delicious theory.

Now I kind of wish I had a refrigerator for a mother.

But I don't.

No one does anymore , because no one did to begin with.

© Megan Snider

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tardive Dyskinesia IV: Antipsychotic Interactions © Megan Snider

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.What falls away is always. And is near.I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.I learn by going where I have to go.
--Roethke "The Wakening"

ALL antipsychotics can cause Tardive Dyskinesia

--Even the new, "safer" ones.

The only antipsychotic shown that has a low risk of Dyskinesia is Clozapine.

Here is a list of common antipsychotics:

Amisulpiride (Solian)

Aripiprazole (Abilify) "New" and "safer"?


Olanzapine (Zyprexa)


Risperidone (Risperdal)

Zotepine (Zoleptil)

Chrlorpromazine (Largactil)

Flupenthixol (Depixol, Flupenthixol,Fluanxol)

Fluphenazine (Moditen)

Haloperidol (Serenace, Haldol) -- This is what got me.

Loxapine (Loxapac)

Pericyazine (Neulactil)

Perphenazine (Fentazine)

Pimozide (Orap)



Sulpiride (Sulpitil, Sulpor)

Thoridazine (Melleril)

Trifluoperazine (Stelazine)

Zuclopenthixol (Clopixol)

© Megan Snider

Tardive dyskinesia III: Symptoms © Megan Snider

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.What falls away is always. And is near.I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.I learn by going where I have to go.
--Roethke "The Wakening"

Every case of Tardive dyskinesia looks different.

The common symptoms of Tardive dyskinesia are as follows, but please note that there may be other unique symptoms not listed here. Also note that ALL of these symptoms are painful and uncontrollable.

When the E.R. doctor asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, I said, "Eight."
I will highlight in yellow, for the sake of my memory (in case I forget), what I experienced.

Common Symptoms:
Involuntary, repetitive movements
Grimacing or "smiling" (fake facial "expressions")
Tongue protrusion
Lip smacking
Lip puckering
Pursing of the lips
Rapid eye blinking
Rapid movements of the extremities/ convulsing or jerking
Impaired movements of the fingers

Rapid movements of the fingers

Unique, Unlisted Symptoms not listed that I experienced:
Sneering (fake facial "expressions")
Grinding of the teeth
Thumb paralysis or twitching/flexing/ holding thumbs "outward"
Claw-like posture of hands
Uncontrollable blinking (see rapid blinking above)
Neck stiffness and pain
Arching and spasms of back
Extension of arms
Eyes in a locked, upward position
Impairment in speech (see tongue protrusion above)
Locked position of muscles for long periods of seconds
Contractions of muscles
Movement of brow, eyes, and eyebrows (fake facial "expressions")

Pinching, claw posture of fingers

© Megan Snider

Tardive Dyskinesia III: Causes © Megan Snider

"This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.What falls away is always. And is near.I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go."
--Roethke "The Waking" (click to read)

This is the most important part of the blog for those on antipsychotics. Please, read this very carefully.

Tardive Dyskinesia is caused in two ways:



Tardive Dyskinesia can manifest itself at any time it chooses to do so.

One dose may trigger it or 2,000 may trigger it.

© Megan Snider

Even after you stop the antipsychotic it may remain permanently.

Even after you stop the antipsychotic it may recur periodically.

Tardive Dyskinesia II: What it Looks Like © Megan Snider

"This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.What falls away is always. And is near.I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go."
--Roethke "The Waking" (click to read)

First off, let's start with what it looks like.

Here are some videos exposing the effects of dystonia and dykinesia. Dystonia and dykinesia are related movement disorders. Dykinesia is usually in the face and is caused by either prolonged ingestion of antipsychotics over the years or in response to a high does of antipsychotics in one ingestion, but it can also affect the body in a way similar to Dystonia. (It happened to me.)

If these videos disturb you, then I have done my job well.

Tardive Dystonia-- In Body and Face (click to watch.) PERMANENT. ***Disturbing***
Dystonia-- In Body and Face (click to watch.) PERMANENT. ***Disturbing***
Dystonia--In Body and Face (click to watch.) PERMANENT. ***Disturbing***
Tardive Dyskinesia-- In Hands, Face, and Mouth (click to watch.) PERMANENT. ***Disturbing***

The muscle rigor, extensions, movements, and convulsions you see here are INVOLUNTARY.

With Dyskinesia, when you see someone bearing their teeth, grinding their teeth or moving their mouth it is involuntary and it is painful.

When I had Tardive Dyskinesia, I remember my mother once asking me if I was smiling in the E.R.

No, I wasn't.

© Megan Snider