This is a poem by ANDREA GIBSON. I thought it was amazing and wanted to share it with you all. Again, I did not write this poem. I’m not this good :p
THE MADNESS VASE/THE NUTRITIONIST
by: Andrea Gibson
The nutritionist said I should eat root vegetables,
said if I could get down thirteen turnips each day
I would be grounded, rooted.
Said my head would not keep flying away to where the darkness lives.
The psychic told me my heart carries too much weight,
said for twenty dollars she’d tell me what to do.
I handed her the twenty and she said, “Stop worrying, darling,
you will find a good man soon.”
The first psycho-therapist said I should spend three hours a day
sitting in a dark closet with my eyes closed and my ears plugged.
I tried it once but couldn’t stop thinking
about how gay it was to be sitting in the closet.
The yogi told me to stretch everything but the truth,
said focus on the out breath,
said everyone finds happiness
if they can care more about what they can give
than what they get.
The pharmacist said Klonopin, Lamictal, Lithium, Xanax.
Read in full at:
Should have written this yesterday but it was a busy day!!
I participated in self care yesterday by making a doctor’s appointment for a physical examination and an HIV test. I’m overdue for a physical and since taking the AIDS course online I have been thinking how it is silly of me to now know my HIV status. I have no reason to think I have HIV but it should be a part of my general health to know my sero status!
All of that will happen in early May.
I began reading One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest last week and reading the first part of the forward got me thinking about how the mental health perspective, as a way of analysis, is ignored.
The forward is written by the author Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) and in the first sentence he states that some people he loves, hate this book. He explains that people find it racist and sexist because Ken Kesey (the author of Cuckoo’s Nest) portrays women as “frigid monsters” or “whores” and blacks as “sadistic sodomites”. What is Kesey trying to say about women and blacks in this book by portraying them so negatively? He must be a racist and sexist asshole! Palahniuk says that we need to put race and gender aside (the blatant negative depiction of Nurse Ratched and the Aides is to surface of an analysis for me) and see Cuckoo’s Nest as showing the paradox of living in a modern democracy of only two political parties.
“How can you live within a democracy that expects you to vote and participate, to hold an opinion and vote thereby control and be responsible for your society-but at the same time, you must surrender and follow the will of others if even the slimmest majority disagrees with you?” -Chuck Palahniuk, Forward, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Palahniuk is on to something there! I completely agree with him but I still feel a very important perspective is missing and it should really be the most obvious: the mental health perspective.
Is it just me or is not trying to understand a story that takes place in a psychiatric hospital from a mental health perspective a little weird? I think it further shows how society forgets people with mental health issues and feels that their experience is not valid and I guess not intelligent enough to deserve an analysis of its own.
My 18 year old sister encountered this in one of her university English classes last year. She was writing an essay on The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. My sister wrote about having neurosis and how it is stopping Gilman from fulfilling her duties as a mother, wife and the woman she wants to be. Her professor commented that no student had ever written this essay using a mental health analysis. Up until my sister, students had been handing in essays that talk about how women’s oppression caused Gilman to descend into madness, the pressure to be a wife and a mother were too much to take. The students neglected to look at the most obvious perspective, mental health but this could most likely be because it is a perspective that is just not talked about in academia.
I do agree that mental health can be linked to feminism. I do not think that it is a coincidence that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depressive mood disorders (passive) and men are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and ADD (aggressive/active). I have said on this blog and in my life that I believe part of the reason I have been diagnosed borderline is because I am an angry woman. But to ignore the actual mental health component is unjust.
We need to look at Cuckoo’s Nest through a mental health lens. Analyze the power imbalance between patient and staff, sane vs. insane, what does being insane mean, how are men viewed in mental health, patient rebellion and attitudes toward alternative treatment. Knowing this can help further our understanding of the mental health experience and how we can improve policy, treatment and social campaigns.
At one point Fry briefly speaks about self medication and how he used cocaine and vodka to help him get through his manic depression. I personally used cutting, alcohol, the occasional drug and sex.
Something hit me though when I was listening to him speak and this I feel like the term “self medication” devalues our own ability to make ourselves feel better.
Just because a doctor does not prescribe a medication/treatment/whatever does not mean that what we chose to do should be looked down upon.
It is also interesting that self medication is usually, if not always, something that is labelled as bad. If it is something “good” then it’s not called self medication at all. It’s called coping or self care.
To cover my butt, I am not saying that abusing alcohol or self harming (etc) are good things. These can hurt you and sometimes kill you. I do acknowledge though that these are valid ways of coping that people use to get through live.
We need to believe that we are able to make decisions for ourselves. We know what will work for us and not all of those answers can come from doctors.
I found this on Psychology Today and thought it was great! This is something we need in mental health and all healthcare! You can print this contract out and have your doctor sign it!
Imagine if you and your doctor signed a contract like this:
As patient and doctor, you and I are entering into a partnership. As such—and with all due respect—I’d like to clarify a few things about the terms of this partnership and how I hope we can work together with the mutual goal of my whole health and healing.
My Voice Matters
I agree to speak up and use the voice of my intuition and my own self-healing knowledge. I understand that you are not giving orders, but rather you are giving advice based on your knowledge, training, and intuition. Both of our voices are equally important if we are to be partners. I am not here to be “fixed” because I am not broken. I am here to be supported, guided, and given the tools to support my own healing process.
I Can Heal Myself
Just as my arm can knit and heal when it breaks, the rest of me is capable of self-healing as well. As my doctor you will act as my proverbial plaster cast, but my own self-healing mechanisms will need to do the rest. I fully believe that I already have within me the power to heal myself. When we meet, I will gaze, with love, into the mirror you hold up for me so that I may see what I need in order to optimize my wellness and happiness, so that I may live the most joyous, vibrant, fulfilling, sexy, healthy life possible. Although you will support me, by educating me, giving me choices, answering my questions, and making recommendations, I know that I am here to be the force behind my own healing. You may offer me the tools you have become an expert in providing—drugs, surgeries, and any other treatments you deem helpful, but I understand that I must do the heavy lifting myself.