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