Prescription: It might look gray outside, so go play under the starlight

Generic: Make friends with the starlight.

Common Side Effects: Having fun, a boost in mood, artistic inspiration, positive nostalgia 

Stop “It might look gray outside, so go play under the starlight.” and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as: you don’t Your toes get cold, one of the stars appears to be drawing closer to you

Hello my dears,

management here, otherwise known as your humble narrator Emma Retina.  There are a few clarifications I would like to make as well as update you dears on some new aspects of ASR.

Firstly: I must say we enjoy our satire and keeping a sense of humor.  However, we also want to make it clear that we know the ongoing pain and strife that can come from living with a chronic mental illness.

  • It is difficult in dark times, when you have no external issues or do have other issues to face.
  • It’s dishearting to be in a stage of strong functionality and find yourself slipping again and you don’t know why.
  • It’s difficult to see how it affects the ones you love.
  • It’s difficult when parts of your life are taken away from you and you don’t have the ability to stop this when you are unwell.
  • Depending on your ways of treatment, sometimes you have to suffer for the cure.
  • When you meet new people in your life and they notice little things about you and you wonder “should I tell them I have a mental illness, will the understand?”
  • It is terrible to feel the guilt and embarrassment after a manic high of the things you said and did.
  • It’s difficult when you are so entrapped in your own mind you feel so alone.
  • Life is harder when delusions and hallucinations cast a mist over your general capability.
  • The depression worsens when you are unable to do the things you are good at anymore, or even general activities of daily living.

These are just examples, if you have your own examples please send them in to Emmaoftheimpact@gmail.com

What is new at ASR

  1. We have new tabs for “Looking Through the Illness” which is a project of portraits that portray a presence of your illness (a physical representation) and how it can affect you.There are more details in the video tab on the top menu.
  2. The video tab is where I will post assignments, which are really suggestions for submissions.
  3. I will be making a new link tab for all links to the work of all published submissions.  If you give me a link to your artwork page it will appear under that tab.  This will make it easier for others to view additional work of our talented artists and storytellers.
  4. Additionally there is an additional tab for helpful MI support links.

If you folks have any ideas for ASR please email me and let me know.  I love getting your feedback.  If you have an idea for an ongoing editorial you would like to write I would be ecstatic to hear your pitch!

Inpatient Asylum Press:

 

Contemporary Asylum New:

 

Mental health awareness campaign for students planned

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“An awareness campaign on mental health will be conducted in 20 higher educational institutions in the district to help students handle critical situations with a calm mind.”

You can read further here

Few School Shooters Have Diagnosis of Mental Illness

“NEW ORLEANS — A survey of school shootings in the United States revealed that only 17% of the perpetrators had a diagnosis of mental illness, but several risk factors emerged that could have served as warning signs.”

You can read further here

 

Arts and Entertainment

The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford

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“Much of Bamford’s work examines the relationship between “people” — generally well-intentioned friends and family — and those who grapple with depression or anxiety or any other challenge to the psyche. Her act is a series of monologues and mini-skits performed rapid fire and often without regard for transition. Deploying a range of deadpan voices, she mimics the faux-enlightened who hover around the afflicted, offering toothless platitudes (“You just need to get out in nature”), bootstrapping pep talks (“It’s all about attitude. You gotta want it!”) or concern warped by self-interest (“You’d think you’d just stop vomiting for me and the kids”). The humor of any given moment relies not so much on punch lines as it does on the impeccably timed swerves of her tone, the interplay between Bamford’s persona and those of all the people who don’t get her. Often, she is demonstrating helplessness on both sides. “We love you, Maria,” Bamford says, imitating her 69-year-old Midwestern mother, Marilyn, in one of her recorded performances, heaving a fed-up sigh. “We love you, we love you, but it’s hard to be around you.”

You can read more of Sara Corbett’s editorial here

Maria Bamford Show: Episode 1 Dropout


Our own voices:

The Disquieted Family: Disturbance and Distress in the Carlson Home

Originally presented at the “Adolescence, Mental Illness, and the Impact on Society,” Mt. San Jacinto College–Menifee Honors Seminar, 26 March 2012

David A Carlson

The first time I really started seeking help was in my late twenties, an age when the schizophrenia portion of schizoaffective disorder often blooms.  For a period of three or four months, I would wake up in the middle of the night, consciously sit up in bed, and taste, feel, and smell a gun in my mouth.  I have never owned a gun, and I will not now.  But this tactile hallucination was as real as could be.  And it was, without question, the most disturbing hallucination I have ever had.  With health insurance the way it is, I had to go to my primary care doctor as a first line of help and he was then able to refer me to services.  Unfortunately, the services my doctor referred me to were not psychiatric.  He sent me to the social worker employed by the medical group to which I belonged.

The social worker, though perhaps qualified in a great many ways, was woefully unqualified to deal with the psychiatric issues I was bringing to her.  For that matter, I was only bringing to her the tip of the iceberg.  I, myself, had no idea of the extensive nature of my psychiatric problems.  At any rate, the social worker asked me what I was experiencing.  I told her about the gun hallucinations.  She put on her amateur psychiatrist’s hat, very proudly I might add, and asked me what stresses were in my life, to which I explained that having a young family, going to graduate school, and having church responsibilities were all significant stressors.  Of course, I did not tell her that I was to be king of Israel as my understood instructions were that the world was not ready for that knowledge, and I did not know that that was in any way connected to the gun hallucinations.  The social worker talked briefly and sympathetically about how difficult families are to raise while in school, but she really keyed in on church responsibilities.  She asked which church I attended.  I told her.  And she said, “No wonder you feel a gun pressing against the back of your throat as though you are choking on it.”  She went on to explain her view that the church I belonged to is known for overburdening its parishioners with rules and responsibilities.  No wonder I would choke, she said.  I responded, “Be that as it may, what can be done to stop these hallucinations?”  She said that my church has an extensive social services department with professional psychologists prepared to discuss the problems with me.  The social worker ordered me to call them myself and get help.  What the social worker did not know, and what I found out when I called the church’s social services department, is that the church’s social services are not free, not even to members of the church, and my insurance would not cover it.  So I called the social worker back.  She was not there.  I left a message for her to call me.  She later left me a message: “Your church should handle this,” she exclaimed, “do not call me back.”  So I did not.

I went on untreated for several more years.  But before I move the clock forward in this presentation, I want to discuss the social worker’s reaction to my hallucinations.  The social worker saw stressors as though they were the problem to be diagnosed.  Stress is always a significant contributing factor to the problems of mental illness, in my view.  However, it is only a factor and not the illness itself.  Too often people assume that if stress can be lowered and problems talked out that the mentally ill will be all better.  But such is quite often not the case.  Lowering stress and talking things out help resolve symptoms of mental illness, but mental illness is, it seems to me, physiological and biological as much as it is psychological.  Just as one would not treat a virus by talking it out, so does mental illness require treatment on the brain as a biological entity.  Yet talking things out can help a person with mental illness come to terms with his or her diagnosis.  To return to Dr. Jamison’s interview, she was asked, “What’s an emerging trend that you think will shake up the mental health world?”  Dr. Jamison responded that “In bipolar illness, it was thought that people really could get by on medication alone.  Recently, it’s been demonstrated that the combination of psychotherapy and medication is preferable for many people.  But not everyone.”  Again, every patient with a mental illness is unique.

With adolescents, treatment is so problematic.  So many psychiatric medications are not approved for adolescents or are only approved under limited circumstances.  I think that there is so little understanding, when compared with other health disorders, or mental illness in the young that that contributes to the hesitation to allow prescriptions for what could potentially be very helpful medicines.  But when dealing with the brain, perhaps caution is a good watchword.

I often wonder, though, if psychotropic medications would have helped me in my adolescence.  Perhaps they could have relieved me from my delusional arrogance, thinking I was something beyond the people around me.  And I think that perhaps such medications would have calmed me before I went into temporary rages against those closest to me, the throwing of objects and wrestling with family members.  On the other hand, when I did get on psychotropic medications around the age of thirty, I quickly gained one hundred pounds and developed diabetes, features of new generation anti-psychotics.  So who knows what those same meds could have done to me as a teenager.

At any rate, a few years after the gun hallucinations stopped—well, slowed, as I have never utterly been free of them since their inception—I was in my doctoral program at UC Riverside.  I was reaching new intellectual heights, if you will forgive this moment of pride.  I believe that I had some solid moments in my writings.  And then, inexplicably, I got very tired.  My work load had not changed for years.  I had felt very accustomed to it.  Yet I was suddenly fatigued mentally, having not even entered my career years.  And with the extreme fatigue came two things: an inability to focus when doing my writings and other school work AND an inability to control my moods and emotions.  My mind seemed to crash immediately following its peak.  My ability to reach “gestalt” in my writings by weaving together all the tracks of thought that I had withered away and fast.

Whereas my writings had once been focused and controlled enough to get me accepted into a few fairly high ranking doctoral programs in English, now, all of a sudden, my written ideas were scattered.  Whereas once I could take multiple tracks of thought and bring them together, now my written thoughts were grossly disconnected and even disconcerting to some who read them.  Whereas once my writings had earned me a fellowship that paid for my doctoral schooling completely and granted me a teaching assistantship, now I was suddenly stripped of those great privileges.  My grades slipped precipitously.  My academic and work life had hit rock bottom and those rocks tore me to chards.  I had known I wanted to be a professor in college since I was five years old.  When I was a baby and toddler, my mother has told me, I would toss stuffed animals and toys out of my crib in favor of books.  I would only sleep with books.  Yes, I crashed and I crashed hard.

Coinciding with that was my apparently sudden—though, as I look back, it was not as sudden as I thought at the time—inability to cope with life emotionally as well as cognitively.   I began crying in professors’ offices when I could not make sense of what they were asking of me in my work or when what seemed to me like perfectly logical responses to their questions were received by them with utter confusion.  They could not understand me any longer, and, it seemed, I could no longer understand them.  I remember one such occasion happening with a professor of film studies for an independent study I was taking.  I told her it was just that my family was falling apart.  And with that, my family did.

I became incredibly angry and irritable and irate over the smallest of life’s details.  I began throwing things again.  Mind, I never threw at my wife or children.  There but for the grace of God went I.  There was a long period when I would destroy things around the house.  I felt urgently compelled to do so.  For instance, in a violent rage, I sketchily recall throwing a collection of my wife’s porcelain dolls against the wall.  They had little or nothing to do with me.  It was not satisfying in the way of hurting my wife physically but emotionally.  And yet even hurting my wife emotionally did not fill the black void within me.  The things that I destroyed were a means to an end that did not exist.  There is no satisfaction in senselessness.  And mental illness is so much about the senseless.  It is just that things were no longer metaphors holding happy memories.  They were dangerous and dragging my family down—or so I told myself.

Asylum Artwork

This is the lovely work of Karin Roten:

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A Piece by Ted Jones:

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The Work of Brian Pollett:

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You can see more of Brian’s work here

And you can buy some of his prints!

“I am a digital painter based out of San Francisco. Since I can remember, I have lived with what is best defined as, Tourette. Despite popular belief, I do not feel the need to blurt out obscenities in public, though I display several motor “tics”. These motor tics are preformed due to irrational and paranoid thoughts that I deal with during my daily life.

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For instance, I must rapidly squint my eyes and make a deep humming noise, or something negative will happen. I am not superstitious and I am fully aware that noting bad will happen if I do not perform these motor tics, but in the back of my mind I feel an incredibly strong urge to perform these tics, regardless of the irrational logic. I have several other motor tics, though that is not the point.

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I mainly reach out to express two main points that relate to your project.

The first is that since I began creating digital art two years ago, I have found that my motor tics seem to disappear. I feel no need to preform rituals based on irrational fears and for hours after I paint, I  no longer feel the urge to perform Motor tics. I haven’t put much thought as to why digital art has been so therapeutic, I just know I feel safe and connected to the world when I am being creative. Your post really made me start to analyze the details as to why Digital art has helped.

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The second point I would like to bring up has to do with my years of self medication, psychedelic medicine and an arguable mental illness which is addiction. Not to make it seem like I am trying to get sympathy, but myself and several of my family members suffer from depression. For much of my adult life I have self medicated with phenethylamine drugs to ease my mental state and eventually I suffered from addiction to the point of worsening my symptoms. It would also be dishonest of me to state that psychedelics such as LSD in combination with the digital art medium was not my saving grace. I must state that I am no longer suffering from addiction and my inspiration/health has never been better.”

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Riddle:

The answer to last page’s riddle:  The wind

Riddle Me This: A doctor and a bus driver are both in love with the same woman an attractive girl named Sarah. The bus driver had to go on a long bustrip that would last a week. Before he left he gave Sarah seven APPLES. Why?