27 December 2010

Being Responsibly Mentally Ill or Being a Responsible Lunatic

I'll put it right here, in gold and black, - this blog is about those with the ability to control themselves. Not the people that are so far gone they need extensive hands-on care most of the time (and that's with the meds).

One of my biggest pet peeves is the stigma associated with mental illness. This, to me, is because of the many, many people who have say, bipolar or borderline, that do not take responsibility for their own actions. Trust me, I fall off of this wagon myself.

Then there's the caregivers that are essentially enablers and excuse makers. Media doesn't help matters either.
Example: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40691150/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/40689405
"He didn't want anyone to get hurt but himself," Rebecca Duke said of the man she loved. She called him a "gentle giant."

"The economy and the world just got the better of him," she said.
Police said the attack wasn't some spur of the moment idea. At his mobile home in the woods, they found Dec. 14 circled on a calendar. And police said he had at least 25 more rounds of ammunition in his pocket.
In 2000, he was convicted for waiting in the woods for ex-wife with a rifle, wearing a mask and a bulletproof vest. She confronted him and then tried to leave in a vehicle, and Duke shot the tires. His second wife, Rebecca, said the incident was a misunderstanding and that he went to his ex-wife's house because the ex-wife "wouldn't leave them alone."
Evans said Duke had been diagnosed by several doctors as bipolar, but didn't have enough money to buy the needed medication. "He was clearly in need of help," Evans said.
He and Rebecca had married in 1999, just before his prison sentence. She said Wednesday that Duke faithfully took his medication for his bipolar disorder, but that he was under a lot of stress.
"My testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V) ... no ... I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95 percent of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats ... same-same ... rich ... they take turns fleecing us ... our few dollars ... pyramiding the wealth for themselves."
I would like to take this opportunity to call shenanigans. Being a severe bipolar myself, the articles associated with this guy infuriate me beyond imagining. There's another quote from the widow. Essentially she stated that he had moved to a quiet neighborhood (the video looked like a standalone singlewide) and was trying to get better.

If you are bipolar, isolating yourself does not mean you are trying to get better. If he was indeed trying to get better, he would have found http://www.needymeds.org/ just like I did... and like hundreds if not thousands of others do every day.

The economy excuse as a trigger for what this guy did and had the intentions of doing is poor at best. His actions this December were premeditated, and not the first time he acted in a violent fashion. He did time for the first one. I can understand if it is before he was diagnosed with anything. I'll give him that much wiggle room, however, either Duke or a person close to him should have seen the warning signs that the medicine was not working or that he was experiencing warped thinking at a worse interval and he probably needed psychiatric intervention.

Clay knew the violent demon was rising up inside of him when he began to make the plans to have a shootout at that school. He knew he was bipolar. He knew he could have gone to any hospital and had himself confined on the grounds his medications were ineffective and he felt he was a threat to others or himself. He knew damn good and well what he was thinking and feeling was irrational and illogical and that his actions could have deadly consequences, and could have been planning for people other than himself to die.

This was a completely avoidable episode. Clay should have taken RESPONSIBILITY for his own care. I have issues with the public mental health system in America (essentially they're far too underfunded to be able to deal with the massive patient population), but he should have used it at the beginning, when he was still completely cognizant of what he was experiencing.

There is a fine line between caring and enabling; being blinded by a personal relationship and being observant of the one you love; being responsibly mentally ill and being irresponsibly mentally ill.

Another useless excuse for a mental health sufferer who refused to take responsibility for his own mental health is Seung-Hui Cho - the Virginia Tech Shooter. To this day my heart still goes out for the victims, their friends, and their families.

Cho had opportunities to take responsibility for what was going on inside his head. He methodically refused to do so.
The records chronicle two telephone conversations and one in-person visit between Cho and mental health professionals at the Cook Counseling Center, the university's student mental health services provider, in the winter of 2005, the only instances in which the student ever interacted with the center, according to authorities. 
Cho denied having any homicidal or suicidal thoughts, according to documents.
Conrad wrote that she provided Cho with emergency numbers should he begin to have "suicidal or homicidal thoughts" over winter break.
In the records from his initial telephone conversation, another triage counselor checked off "Troubled: Further contact within 2 weeks" under the portion of the form that rates the severity of the patient's disposition.
And that's just the first of a 3 page article.

Cho had immediate help and refused to own up to the demons. He was given further opportunity to own up with the emergency numbers. He refused. He also refused to go to a meeting with a counselor. Cho has no excuse whatsoever.

Responsible lunatics, like myself, fight ourselves to be one step ahead of ourselves. Being mentally ill is a responsibility. I choose to fight it every day.

I have to analyze every mood, every swing of the pendulum, every thought to make sure I am not headed down a dangerous path or becoming someone I do not desire to be anymore. Something alluded to in Christmas Morning Update and More.

I'll use jealousy as an example. I'm a Scorpio. I have jealous bones in my body. That would be pretty much every one of them. I try incredibly hard not to be jealous, to not have those thoughts, but at times they do occur. Unfortunately, especially with the jealousy, I tend to fear that I'm becoming the psychopath I once was, not the psychopath I am, nor the psychopath I desire to be.

It's almost like a chivalric fight in its own right. Sir Gawain fought his inner demons and seduction to keep himself pure. William Marshal became the only man of his time to believe in loyalties, what it was to be a noble knight, to take responsibility for his actions, to keep his emotions in check.

It is indeed like my chivalric quest to attain the Holy Grail, to have the perfect soul despite the stormy waters, to be the perfect woman where it counts - the soul which stays forever young, not the skin which wrinkles and sags.

I have failed before, and I will fail again. It happens. Life happens. I'm just smart enough and responsible enough to know exactly what measures can be taken and when to take them.

I'll admit, I'm not willing to commit myself to the psych unit. That has something to do with me being absolutely stubborn about wanting to fight the battle myself. I don't always have the grasp of a "wise general knows when to retreat and when to call for reinforcements." But I fight on anyway, even when it gets to the point where I am expressing myself like this:

Battle weary is an understatement. Having to keep guard over yourself, monitor and police your thoughts, emotions, actions, mostly thoughts, every second of every day of your life, having already done that for 26 years, looking down the barrel at 45 more if the whole life expectancy thing holds true. Which it probably won’t. Your life is lived in a combat mode that does not end. Ever. Even if you are surrounded by friends and those who “love” you. Even If you’re alone with that one special person you trust enough to let you see you at your sobbing, snotting, teary, vomit-filled weakest. You. Have. To. Exert. All. Of. Your. Energy. To. Keep. Yourself. Alive. And. Somewhat. Sane. Each time you hit the depression, not knowing if this is the one that’s going to claim you, or if you’ll pull through it only to know for certain you will be in the same place once again.


  1. Check in if it gets to the danger point. "Present danger to yourself or others" is the phrase.
    No matter what the disruption, annoyance and discomfort in a hospital, it's going to be much less than the disruption, annoyance and discomfort in a prison hospital or a grave.

  2. That's essentially what I was saying when blasting the two failures.