Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Teetering on the Brink of Depression

In the aftermath of the shootings in Arizona almost every person speaking out about the shootings, and trying to figure out who Jared Loughner is and why he went on that rampage of gun violence targeting a specific Congresswoman and her aids and constituents, have pronounced him a madman, a homicidal maniac, a paranoid schizophrenic, a psychotic and more, all without a single mental health professional actually speaking with him and doing a mental health assessment.  And all this flinging of the crazy is done in a country with very poor access to mental health care.  I did hear one woman with mental health credentials (she'd been a profiler for the FBI)  call him all kinds of crazy without actually speaking with him, based solely on the tiny bits and pieces pasted together from his You Tube videos and the brief comments of a "friend" of his.  Not only is that kind of pronouncement hugely unethical, it's hugely irresponsible and prejudicial.  If there was already an impediment to seeking mental health care due to the stigma of a diagnosis that labels one "crazy," there is now the extra stigma of being labeled such a danger to society that we crazy people should all be incarcerated to protect the rest of you undiagnosed crazies from us diagnosed crazies. It makes those of us who have sought help for our mental health problems worry that we are now viewed by our friends and neighbors as a ticking time bomb of potential homicidal rage.  But these days, who isn't?  And when you look around, how many of those who seem too angry or too unstable to be out in the world are not only gun owners but packin' heat at any given moment.  Does this make you all feel safer?

Since the shooting rampage in Tucson, I've heard a great deal about the rights of all to buy a fully automatic Glock and an extended ammo clip but very little about the rights of all to receive mental health counseling.  In fact in these hard economic times most states are cutting budgets for mental health coverage just as we're ramping up the fear and loathing of the mentally ill. 

I know from my own experience with the mental health care system that it's not easy to diagnose a specific mental illness.  I have been depressed since early childhood, but my depression wasn't treated until I was in my late twenties despite two suicide attempts, one in my late teens and one in my early twenties.  I was called "moody".  And despite the many years of therapy, it took an internist to put me on an antidepressant in my late twenties.  She was smart enough to tell me that I would always need to be on an antidepressant.  In fact, the first antidepressant was so effective that it's still a great drug for me, for my specific brain chemistry, despite all the new antidepressants on the market these days.  I was in my mid-forties when I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  The reason this diagnosis took so long was that my mania was seen as unlimited drive, mercurial range, access to vast energy.  I was called high strung.  I was compared to a race horse.  My whole system was speedier than average.  I was a tightly coiled spring.  I was a disaster in the making.  But on the way to disaster I did a lot of very interesting things. I was articulate enough to get away with almost anything.  I even owned a gun.  And I almost pulled the trigger on a man in a moment of exasperation with him for not leaving me alone when I asked him to.  Luckily for me, and for all the annoying men to follow, I got rid of the gun and never replaced it.  Where is that stylish little Browning Semi-Automatic Pistol now?  Probably in the hands of someone like Jared Loughner.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Armchair Psychiatry in the Wake of Political Assassinations

Everyone seems so comfortable pronouncing Jared Loughner mentally deranged.  I've seen him called paranoid schizophrenic and/or psychotic yesterday on Facebook, and heard nearly every pundit on MSNBC or CNN  make similar pronouncements including calling him a homicidal maniac with the sole exception of Rachel Maddow.  If we can agree that anyone who commits mass murder and/or political assassinations is crazy, then we can stop calling political assassinations terrorism when the person committing mass killings with a handgun has a Middle Eastern last name. 

In the sense that Jared Loughner's had problems in school, was kicked out, tried to join the military and was not allowed to do so because he'd taken drugs or was on drugs or some other vague something about Jared Loughner and drugs is another fairly common part of his mental health assessment the armchair psychiatrists out there cite as proof that he was unhinged. (Drug use as evidence of insanity would make a high percentage of young men and women officially crazy on every single day in every place in the country at one moment or another.)  He was arrested for having drug paraphernalia, but the charges were dropped. I haven't heard how long ago that happened, but it's part of his history and I trust an arrest record and a courts dismissal of charges.  Are they determinative of his craziness?  Not in my book, but I'm just the bipolar lady living in her garage who makes little secret that she self medicates with pot and has her whole life long.  But then I believe almost all of you are self-medicating with one thing or another at any given moment.  And who didn't go through a period of experimenting with some kind of intoxicant that your parents might have called you crazy for (if they'd only known what you were doing) back when you were young and rebellious?

The attempted mass assassination of United States Congresswoman Giffords and murder of her staffers and constituents, with a Federal Judge as collateral damage, is horrific, unspeakable.  We can only make sense of it if the angry and alienated young man who bought the gun and ammunition and went on a very targeted killing spree was insane, was a homicidal maniac.  No, he was a just another angry and alienated young white man in America in a state where the crazy seems to be in overdrive and anyone can go to the local store for guns and illegal ammunition.

 It's a pretty safe bet that money for routine screening for mental health problems is nonexistent in Arizona where money for life saving organ transplants has been cut from the state budget in favor of providing $500 million to private prisons.  Besides that, how many angry young men in America do you know who would avail themselves of the opportunity for a voluntary mental health evaluation?  I'm guessing that a lot of young men would rather lose their left nut than be diagnosed with a mental illness. But once insnared in the system and diagnosed and treated with drugs and therapy, it's almost impossible to force young men to take the drugs that would manage their illness.  Men are under served by the mental health system because they can't and won't admit they have a problem that requires medicating.  It's stigmatized like nothing else in this country. I bet it's easier to take being called a fag than a psychopath.  This has to be part of the reason that his schools, the police and courts, and the military were not willing to make treatment mandatory after coming into contact with a young man like Jared Loughner.  Either the evidence of mental illness was thought to be too flimsy to make it mandatory in any of his brushes with authorities, or we don't know anything yet.  But can anyone who targets large numbers of people for killing be considered sane?  Is there a family in this country of 90% gun ownership who doesn't have an angry, alienated young man who isn't talking about why he's so angry, why he feels so alone?

We know that Jared Loughner was trying to get an education.  He was attending a Community College and was evenually asked to leave and prohibited from coming back.  He tried to join the Military and was rejected there.  I'm sure each of these rejections fueled his alienation and anger.  And even if he hadn't been able to buy a gun and amunition legally, he could have bought one from a private seller at a gun show or out of someones trunk in the parking lot of Wall Mart.  Guns are easier to buy than antidepressants, and cheaper when you get right down to it.

Monday Rachel Maddow held up clippings for twenty or so mass shootings by young men with handguns all over the country in the past twenty years (which was a fraction of the actual number of such stories).  It's not as uncommon as it should be.  I'm not as shocked as I should be.  Yes, I'm filled with sorrow for the family's of the victims.  I'm hoping for a good recovery for Congresswoman Giffords.  I'm stunned that no amount of slaughter with a single handgun with an extended clip can make us talk sanely about gun control.  We are the most heavily armed nation on the planet. This is the one area where we are number one.  There are 90 guns for every 100 people in the United States. I know, for most of you that's just a ho hum statistic. That's a sickening statistic to me.  Because there is no way to force anyone into a taking a psych evaluation prior to buying a gun and ammunition.  I think it should be a requirement for anyone buying a gun, but I'm just the crazy lady who takes her medications and doesn't own a gun.  But I'd bet money I could go to any sporting goods store and buy a Glock drive a couple of blocks to Wall Mart and buy an extended ammo clip.  It would make committing suicide a lot easier.  The difference between a crazy old woman and an alienated young man is, he's far more likely to kill other people before killing himself.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bad Air Equals Big Money In Utah

Salt Lake City is infamous for it's bad air in the winter.  It happens every winter and it seems to me that it gets worse every year, but I'm probably getting more sensitive to it as I get older.  For at least a week, probably more like two weeks we've had RED AIR ALERTS every day. This means our air is toxic to breathe.  The Red Air Alert is a warning to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.  I almost always think about the poor Mail Carrier trudging through this crude with weeping red eyes and a dry hacking cough as he/she worries about slipping on ice that no amount of ice melt will melt.  Day time temperatures haven't been higher than the 20s in all this time, and the combination of trapped stinking air pollution also keeps the sun from reaching the ground.  It's probably crystal clear and 20 degrees warmer at the ski resorts where I (when I was still skiing or living up Emigration Canyon) could look down on the Salt Lake Valley and see nothing but a bowl of thick taupe air that looked like a dingy blanket and wished I didn't ever have to breathe it again.  The local news media euphemistically calls this crud "fog."  I call bullshit on that.

We are governed by Mormon businessmen whose only goal is to get rich and richer and stay that way, by any means possible.  The only exception to that rule is the occasional Democratic Mayor who spends all his time (sad to say Salt Lake hasn't elected a Liberal Democratic female mayor in my lifetime -Didi Coridini doesn't count) battling the Legislature and Governor trying to improve air quality standards and put in place fines for polluters.  But we are now in the very big business of courting other countries toxic and radioactive waste, and I'd bet every penny I own that we're cutting corners on safety to make money for the dickhead politicians and their business cronies who are getting very rich in this business.  Our motto isn't "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free," or something nice like that.  Oh no, our motto is: "Give us the most dangerous toxic waste no one in the rest of the world feels safe living next to and we'll dump it near our biggest city, because we don't give a  shit about anything but money and the end days are near anyway, so get it while you can."  The company doing this is Energy Solutions and the guy running that operation is now on the staff of our new Senator, the very awful, very corrupt, Mike Lee.  I hear he also has a lobbyist for Blackwater/Xi on his staff.  This guy makes Orrin Hatch look like a saint.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Blackbirds Falling From the Sky

The story about Blackbirds falling dead from the sky by the thousands over Beebe, Arkansas makes me very sad.  Killed by trauma in mid-air.  What trauma?  Breathing the air over Beebe, Arkansas?  Why the huge fish kill in Arkansas?

Arkansas was the biggest producer of poultry in the US when I spent a year there living in Fayetteville, not all that far from the Tyson Chicken processing plants, surrounded with all the poultry farms that fed that enormous processing plant.  Maybe the Blackbirds were dying of grief at what we're doing to another breed of bird or they died from flying through the fumes of chicken shit that hover over all those factory farms, producing nothing but chickens and eggs and unbreathable air.  Probably produce some pretty toxic ground water as well. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Texas TeaParty Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

(This was given to me by my doctor on my last visit.  Shocking to many will be the idea that a doctor might not be a GOPer.  Live and learn).

I____________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of the 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment Rights by legally, but brazenly, brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will forswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls.  Also:

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life.  I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

*     Social Security
*     Medicare/Medicaid
*     State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
*     US Postal Service
*     Roads and Highways
*     Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
*     The US Railway System
*     Public Subways and Metro Systems
*     Public Bus and Light-rail Systems
*    Rest Areas on Highways
*    All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g. see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations--  http// Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)

*     Public and State Universities and Colleges
*     Public Primary and Secondary Schools
*     Sesame Street
*     Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
*     Public Museums
*     Libraries
*     Public Parks and Beaches
*     State and National Parks
*     Public Zoos
*     Unemployment Insurance
*     Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
*     Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal
      Government (pretty much all of them)
*     Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant
      or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
*    Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA
*     Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPENET was the basis for
       subsequent computer networking.
*     Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce, and Crops that were grown with, fed with, raised with, or that
       contain inputs from crops grown with Government Subsidies.
*     Clothing made from Crops (e.g. Cotton) that were grown with or that contain inputs from
       Government Subsidies.
 *   If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forgo my VA benefits and insist
     on  paying for my own medical care

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capital in Washington, D.C,

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:

*   Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
*   The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments.
*   The government operated Statue of Liberty
*   The Grand Canyon
*   The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials'
*   The government-run socialist-propaganda location know as Arlington National Cemetery
*   All other public-funded socialist sites, whether in my state or in Washington, D.C.

I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forgo their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded, and therefore, socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of other that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forgo Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.


____________________                                __________________________
Signed                                                             Printed Name/Town and State