I forgot I had these discussion questions until I saw the book I’m reading now (Odd Girl Out) had them as well! I saved the questions on my computer for times when I had nothing to write. I haven’t looked at Manufacturing Depression since June 19, 2012.
Here are the links for the first two questions:
Now, on to question 3! Please feel free to answer the question as well! I would love to hear from you
Consider that: “If you’re a psychiatrist or a drug company [you will put great emphasis] on dividing up the territory, on separating your chemicals from theirs, on making sure that yours are medicine and theirs are drugs, that you are treating illnesses while they are abusing substances.” (174) Should people be allowed to take drugs simply to feel better, rather than to cure disease? If depression isn’t a disease, than how can we distinguish antidepressants from recreational drugs? What are the implications for the drug war, which is waged primarily to prevent people from taking drugs merely to feel better?
I’m not entirely sure how to answer this question except with saying that I don’t have a problem with recreational drug use. I have a problem with addiction because that can severely hurt someone physically and emotionally but we do not know how addiction may change if illegal drugs because legal.
If there was no stigma attached to taking a drug (prescribed or not) to feel better then maybe it wouldn’t be seen as substance abuse. Just because a person is not experiencing a disease doesn’t mean that they should not be able to feel better. Depression can still make it difficult to function and if someone wants to take a medication to help with that then they should be allowed so long as it is done as safely as possible.
The War on Drugs has recently had more critics because politicians have been seeing that it’s a war they are losing. I have always thought the War on Drugs was a waste of time and resources as well as being ineffective. If we acknowledge that people who take drugs to feel better are not bad people but doing what they feel they need to do in order to get through the day then the war on drugs will become more useless. Drug consumption NEEDS to be monitored by a professional who knows the drug and knows the human body so instead of putting into anti-drug campaigns that are not working we could put the money into organizations that will make drug consumption safe.
On top of that, psych meds aren’t curing disease; they are managing symptoms. Should we take drugs that do not cure our diseases? Yes because management is the next best thing. Same goes for some recreational drug use. Again, I want to emphasize safety! I’m talking in terms of a world where people would get help for their issues and be support appropriately.
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 was in a meeting last week where we were discussing how some people are not allowed to attend group sessions if they come under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This was becoming a little debate between those who believe in abstinence and those who believe in harm reduction.
Turning someone away from a part of their treatment if they are under the influence is not very harm reduction. At the same time it is not fair to the rest of the group, who did not use prior to group, to have to be around someone who may be triggering. This is supposed to be a difficult decision.
One person asked, “What is someone cuts before they come to group? Should they not be allowed to attend?” I responded that while cutting is maladaptive, like drugs and alcohol, it does not alter your state of mind the same way. Both women in the room disagreed with me (both are aware of my experience with self harm).
Without either of them having to explain to me why I do understand what they meant when they said that self harm can alter your state of mind. For those of us who engage in the behaviour we can admit that before, during and after the behaviour something does happen to our bodies (if it didn’t we wouldn’t engage in the behaviour in the first place).
At least for me, once the moment was over then that was it. I quickly returned to my usual functioning. The whole “mind altering” part maybe have lasted 5-10 minutes whereas a high can last much longer.
What it comes down to is we cannot have different rules for the different behaviours but we can work on a case by case basis. This is fair.
What does worry me about all of this, in particular in regards to self harming, is that it may promote secrecy. I would be so upset to learn a youth I worked with was hiding their self harm for fear of not being able to attend treatment. One of the women in the meeting pointed out though that if there is no change or an increase in the behaviour that this just meant we should take another look at their treatment because clearly what they are currently receiving isn’t working. Completely valid.
It’s been a very interesting experience for me to go from the frontline advocacy to the more policy side of mental health. It’s difficult. A lot of tough decisions that I do not agree with but I know have to be there. I’m glad that I play a role in it though because I can help change or modify.
I have never talked about my drug and alcohol use in-depth on this blog. This seems especially strange because they played a fairly decent size role in my life.
I’ll break it down so this doesn’t become super lengthy.
Part 1: Drugs
Part 2: Cigarettes
Part 3: Alcohol
I remember thinking that people who did drugs were gross. In gr. 5 I attended Racing Against Drugs (http://www.racingagainstdrugsdurham.ca/) held by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to promote drug and alcohol awareness. I still have the t-shirt they gave me. It’s covered in hair dye and I wear it to bed.
I went through the D.A.R.E program (http://www.dare.com/home/International/StoryPage64e3.asp?N=International) when I was in gr. 6 and “pledged” to never do drugs. My class sang a song about in front of our parents as they proudly looked on, dreaming of the drug free children they would now have because of the program.
When I was in gr. 8 and some “friends” blew pot smoke in my face I was horrified that they would touch something so horrible and so illegal!
Little did I know that upon entering high school I would become not just someone who tried pot but someone who smoked it quite a bit.
My best friend was a year older than me. She was smoking pot. When we were hanging out with her friends I didn’t want to be the little girl, I wanted to be cool so I decided to smoke pot.
I soon after became involved with a “gang” and my pot smoking increased since that was all they did.
I was high almost every day. I didn’t even like it.
I became quiet when I was high. I felt so overwhelmed by the feeling that I just sat there wishing it would go away.
I have “greened out” 4 times. The first time I greened out was the highest I have ever been in my life. We had hotboxed my friend’s bathroom and had to crawl out. We listened to the Cypress Hill song below which tripped me out so much that I just fell in and out of sleep for what felt like hours. I decided eventually that I had to go. I walked the short distance home (I don’t know how I made it) and laid on my couch. I felt the urge to throw up so I slowly made my way to the bathroom. I saw these small green dots appear in front of my eyes. They flashed and got bigger and bigger until my vision was completely black. I collapsed, falling into a quilt stand. Luckily no one was in the house to hear me fall. I didn’t throw up but instead headed to my bedroom. Eventually my Mom came into my room, questioned me and took my money. I felt sick for 5 days after (called a “stoneover”). Rumor was that someone had put cocaine in the pot. Who knows.
The second time I greened out I bruised my arm because it got stuck on the side mirror of a car. The third and fourth time were together. I was in a forest with my ex-boyfriend who didn’t care and began walking away while I lay in the snow trying to plan how I’d walk home.
Also in gr. 9 I was introduced to prescription medication. Just random pills that the girl who brought them called “pain pills and happy pills.” I had no clue what exactly there were but they made me feel great. A group of us would split them in study hall (which is where you went when they couldn’t find a supply for your class) and take them during school.
After a bit of that I started taking “focusers” aka Ritalin. My then boyfriend didn’t like them so he let me have them. I felt fantastic! I was very talkative, adventurous but I couldn’t sleep. If I got 3 hours I was lucky.
Once I entered gr.11 I had basically given up pot, had stopped taking Ritalin and other pills when the supplier disappeared. I hated it. It had cause me to experience horrible things and horrible people.
I would take other prescription medications as a form of self harm. Technically overdosing even if nothing physically would happen to me. If the bottle said “Do not exceed 8 pills in a day” I would take 10. This is why I try to only take medication when I HAVE too.
I did extacy (also known as E, X, MDMA) for the first (but not the last) time in gr. 11. I was with my on again off again, full of complications, boyfriend. I enjoyed E. At this point I had been diagnosed with dythymia and was on psych meds. Prozac never made me feel as fantastic as E had. I felt “normal”.
I got the feeling that the only reason this boy got E for us was to make a move on me. It’s said that sex on E is fantastic but when I did it then and the odd time I do it currently I actually don’t want anyone touching me.
My theory with E was that since my serotonin levels were already low (causing my depression) E essentially brought them up to a more functional level. I also do not “crash” the same way many other people who take E do. A cash can be a very depressing experience since your body has pumped out mass amounts of serotonin because of the drug. By the end you’re left with a depleted amount of serotonin in your brain. I never experienced this depression. I believe I had just gone back to my “normal” which was low already.
Like I just said I will occasionally still do E. I’m talking maybe once a year. Even when I do it I find I’m fighting the high. I like to feel in control of my body. The fact that these drugs make me feel things and sometimes see things differently bothers me a lot.
Overall drugs are out of my life. I’m not anti-drug, just for myself. I do believe that some drugs, like pot, should be legalized. I believe that extacy has potential as an anti-depressant and that has been looked at by researchers, especially for PTSD.
E is the only drug that I will ever do and this video describes why. Once a year use is not enough to damage my brain or do anything horrible.
I would never encourage anyone to do drugs if they do not want to. If you ever want to try a certain drug I would advise you to learn about it, get the drug off someone you trust and then take it in a safe space with friends.
Greened Out: passing out from smoking too much pot.
Hotbox: smoking pot in a small space in order to get high off the smoke that stays in the room.
Tripping out: Experiencing sensations caused by the drug that can be good or bad.
Crash: When you come down off a drug and your body tries to return it’s normal level of functioning. This can be a very horrible time.
My Dad said to me a few days ago, “Can’t you shut it off?” Can’t I shut off my constant need to immerse myself in the shit of the world? No, but I can take a little break! thebipolarplace posted a few interesting things about him and I can’t think of nothing I love more than talking about myself!
I have 4 cats, 2 at my parents house who I grew up with and two with my partner and I (Phoenix, Duchess, Omen and Vonnegut).
My favourite colours are black, red and purple.
I love rainbows.
As much as I love men, or my man, kissing girls is wicked awesome!
When I was 13 years old I wrote a 148 pages story that was a massive rip off of Harry Potter.
I’ve had two rabbits throughout my life, Rebecca and Kit.
I drink alcohol because I want too but I don’t drink a lot, casually mostly.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was 14 years old and quit at 21.
I have never broken a bone (knock on wood).
I am the oldest of 4 girls (23, 20, 18, 14).
My favourite number is 12.
My favourite food is pickles!
I am pro polygamy as long as, like with every relationship, all adults consent.
I was raised mainstream Mormon but left the Church emotionally around 2002 and physically in 2007.
I have only ever tried 2 illegal drugs in my life, pot and MDMA, and used to take prescription meds for the hell of it.
I played soccer and ran cross country when I was younger.
I look more my Mom.
I think that’s it for now!!!!
If you want to know more ask BUT you need to tell me 2 things about yourself in return!
I didn’t know about mental health stigma when I was younger. I faced a lot of anger from my friends, peers and family but didn’t know it was a part of a bigger picture.
Here are parts of an MSN conversation (I’m translating it from teen online language) between a friend and I in January 2005. I am 15 years old, I had been cutting for about 2 years and have not yet been diagnosed with chronic depression.
This friend had told our group that she was throwing up her food and not taking the medication she needed to survive. I confronted her.
Me: You would have fucking died if you did that…
Friend: But see, I knew how to stop. That’s something you never knew how to do.
Friend: Thanks for trying to tell me about my sickness though.
Friend: Appreciate it.
Friend: I think I know a little more than you do about it Kristen.
Me: Stop fucking talking about mine! You know nothing about this shit!
Friend: Ha ha, yeah I only dealt with it for 3 years
Friend: I know nothing?
Friend: I only tried to stop you for 3 years.
(Note: It’s interesting how she can know about my illness but I can’t know anything about hers even though we’d known each other for the same amount of time…????)
Me: You never apologize for stuff you say that isn’t true.
Friend: Yeah I do.
Friend: To people I care about.
Me: Oh ok that makes sense….So all that shit about my counselling, saying you cared about me….Oh my god a lie!
Friend: No that was true till I found out you were hopeless.
Friend: Then I knew I was just wasting my time.
Me: Aww thanks…..I always knew I was fucking hopeless….that’s why I’m happy right?
Friend: Happy? Because you fuck guys and smoke?
Friend: Good life!
Friend: Happy? Ha ha….your definition of happy hasn’t always been right.
Me: At least its happy.
Friend: In all the wrong ways.
Me: Sorry for fucking my boyfriend.
Friend: At 15.
Friend: Yeah good one.
Me: Sorry for trying to quit cutting by smoking. At least I tried to quit.
Friend: And you failed.
Friend: Because smoking is a great habit it…
Me: And after I stop cutting I’m quitting that…and at least I quit pot.
Friend: You shouldn’t have even did it!
Me: You always need to cut people down to make yourself feel better! You’ve always been like that.
Friend: Never mind quitting, you shouldn’t have even started!
Friend:I am fine about myself.
Me: Well I did but at least I stopped it (smoking pot)
Friend: I love my life,
Friend: my friends, my family.
Me: And I love mine
Friend: and I don’t need to smoke to do it.
Friend: Or get high,
Friend: slice myself
Friend: You can quit anything if you really, really wanted to, to make yourself happy! But you’ve never been strong enough to do that.
Friend: And then when people tried to help you,
Friend: You shot them down and went crazy saying all people do is nag!
Friend: You can never win with you.
Me: I know you’re right. It has been a challenge for me to quit but how can I when all you do is make fun of me and make me feel worse? Basically telling me that my life is shitty and pointless then you fucking try to tell me that there’s nothing wrong with it?
Friend: Ok, ha ha, whatever, I don’t care. Everything I say to you goes through one ear and out the other. There is no hope in talking to you.
(Note: I had only had sex with 2 guys at this point, both boyfriends. My first “long-term” boyfriend was in grade 9, we were a year a part. At this time, because I looked it up, Canada’s average age for first having sex was 16 years old. This friend would later on the rare occasion smoke pot which would mean she smokes more pot than I do currently because I don’t smoke any. I quit smoking, 2 years ago, before I would quit cutting.)
Me: It’s not like you ever fucking listened to me anyway! You never even knew the whole reason why I cut. You were always to busy crying about your own sad pathetic life!!
(Note: This friend would always tell me how her life was worse than mine which she felt was enough reason to make me stopping cutting and being depressed. If I kept cutting, and I did, then I was selfish and attention seeking.)
I am not friends with this girl anymore.
I would like to think this MSN conversation speaks for itself. We cannot have this attitude and expect healing.
Last night I was once again participating in a live chat on TVO’s The Agenda. They were talking about depression (the causes, treatments etc) and one of the producers of the show in the chat said that people must want to be upset about life instead of having optimism, trust and hope. I responded trying to explain that’s not a matter of “want” it’s a matter of “can’t”. How can you be optimistic, have trust or be hopeful when people hate you?
WHERE IN THIS MESS WAS I SUPPOSED TO STOP AND THINK I WAS MEANT TO BE ALIVE? HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO THINK I COULD OPEN UP ABOUT MYSELF AND BE SAFE!?!? AT WANT POINT WAS I SUPPOSED TO TAKE PRIDE IN MY LIFE AND WHO I WAS AS A PERSON?! EVERYTHING I THOUGHT ABOUT MYSELF WAS FUCKING CONFIRMED BY THOSE AROUND ME!!!!!! THIS WAS FUCKING HIGH SCHOOL FOR ME!
I’m a little bit resentful to hear that Ontario high schools are now actively involved in mental health days/weeks. They are talking about mental health stigma in ways they never did when I was in high school! Talking about it is more than my high school ever did! The only thing I remember about mental health “awareness” in my high school was a slide, one slide, on celebrities who had mental health issues that would play on TV’s set up in the hallways and classrooms. THAT WAS IT!
“Oh, let’s not hate Kristen because Drew Carry has depression!”…..I wish it worked like that.
I know I should be happy that the next generations of young people will have a better understand but I’m the youth that got left behind and I need to deal with a system that didn’t care about me when I was a teen and doesn’t care about me now that I’m an adult. I am happy that something is being done now just I still need help to heal the damage that was done.