The Mental Health Registry Is Coming


They say it will be like the Cancer Registry: a tool for data gathering, to assist in developing and evaluating and improving treatment strategies and outcomes.

All well and good, but mental health/mental illness information is a little bit different than cancer information.  A little bit more sensitive.

Let’s take one example that’s close to my heart.

Every year when I renew my physician’s license to practice, I must answer a question regarding my mental fitness to practice.

Now we all know that I am disabled, so of course I don’t formally practice medicine.  I keep my license in case I am called upon in an emergency, like Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes’s esteemed companion.  

I have never had a single complaint, lawsuit, or bad outcome.  I am very careful to keep up my continuing education.

And yet, the one time I openly disclosed my psychiatric diagnoses when applying for a license in a new state, I was immediately bundled off to the “Physicians Health Program,” where I was forced to be drug tested weekly and attend a three month sham “behavioral health” program, aka “drug rehab,” even though I have never had any substance abuse issues and was not at the time using any drugs at all.  Then I was put on “probation” for a year, even though I hold unrestricted licenses in good standing in four other states.

After putting up with this garbage for several months I withdrew, chalking this one up to a very expensive experiment.  I paid the Honesty Tax.  How degrading!

I will be very much heartened if I find that this registry is exactly what it purports to be: an instrument to better coordinate the search for better treatments.

But I doubt it.  How could a centralized registry of psychiatric patients go untapped?

Let’s say I want to take a break from retirement and teach high school biology.  They do a background check (I hope), and as of now, they don’t find anything, because I have no criminal record.

But if there is such a thing as this “Mental Health Registry,” who’s to say that in five years Homeland Security doesn’t find itself good reason to insist on the identities of the patients listed–oh, it says the data is anonymous, doesn’t it?  But it also says that the registry will be a good source of patients for clinical trials.

Yes indeed, the Cancer Registry is a good place to find patients with specific cell types of specific cancers, to recruit for clinical trials of regimens for that specific cancer type.

Well and good!  But mental illness is a bit more tricky.

Once we have names and diagnoses, we have information that can be subpoenaed.  Patient information does require a subpoena.

But under the Patriot Act, will that rule of law stand?  Or will the Registry database be…leaked, perhaps?  Or simply mined by Big Brother?

Call me paranoid, but I am not at all comfortable with any computer mainframe having my psychiatric details.  Even the Pentagon gets regularly hacked by high schoolers.  

Bloody Hell.

It started up again last night.  My guts have been low-grade bleeding for…a long time.  It’s become kind of a fact of life.  I’ve come to accept it.  I do get mad that it wrecks my RV holding tank sensors, so I can’t tell how full the tank is.  I have my work-arounds for that, but still.

I get frustrated that I have absolutely no energy to do the things I love doing: hiking, dancing (my spine gets in the way of that too), dog sports, or anything that requires being up and around and away from a toilet for more than an hour.  Shopping leaves me exhausted for days.  I put off going out until I’m out of absolutely everything.

Apart from my holding tank sensors, the part I resent most is my hair.  It’s falling out.  I’ve got a bald spot in front, right above my hairline.  I really should see someone about this, but I’m just so damned tired.

Last evening just about sundown I went to take a crap, and whaddyaknow, a big blob of bloody mucus came out.  Ugh.  Well, thought I, I hope that’s the end of that!

It wasn’t.  

True that even a teaspoon of blood looks like a lot when it’s on toilet paper.  It is quite the shock.  

My first impulse with things like that is to find some alternate explanation.  Toddlers, for example, often ended up in my office, accompanied by a red diaper and a panic-stricken parent.  Most of the time the culprit was that awful red dye they put in Jello and “red” Koolaid.  Excellent teaching opportunity: don’t feed your kids anything you don’t want to see in their diaper!  Beets will also cause red diapers, but not as shocking.

I have eaten nothing red of late.  Not beets, or red Jello, or even the lovely rare steak I’ve been plotting to burn on the grill.

There’s a bit of dullish pain in my gut, nothing I can’t ignore; and a characteristic tinkling bowel sound that only occurs when I bleed.  I once recorded it to play for a doctor, but erased it after my last horror show encounter with the bozos they now call “physicians.”  I can’t wait for the robot docs.  At least they will hopefully be more objective.

When I started getting frank blood coming out of my poor ass, I considered packing up and heading for the local ER.  Then I considered what would happen.  Procedures.  Possibly admission.  A tube in my nose.  Antibiotics.  Colonoscopy.

You know what?  I’ve been there and done that.  My body can’t tolerate the steroids they shove at me.  I don’t want to get C. Diff.  In fact, I want nothing to do with the medical establishment.  At all.

I had plans for today: there is a knitting club at the RV park where I’m staying.  I wanted to pick the brains of the people who actually know what they’re doing.  I’m too damned tired.  I don’t seem to have bled enough acutely to bring my hemoglobin down, but I didn’t have to take my blood pressure pill this morning.

I’m tired.  I’m grieving the loss of my son.  I’m grieving the fact that I never had a real mother, even though I tried desperately to make her into one in my mind.  I feel like I lost my family in a fire.  But they’re still alive.  

Susan Sontag’s book Illness As Metaphor has provided me with a paradigm in which to understand my in illnesses, but not the one she herself offers.  Sontag was more about the way society stigmatizes  certain illnesses.  To my way of thinking, my illnesses are loud metaphors for my inner ecological disasters.

Bleeding Guts= I’m torn up inside

Asthma= I’m suffocated by the people and circumstances I live with

Spine disease= no support

Bipolar= No stability

Etc.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve worked with these metaphors for decades, trying to find some modicum of healing in therapy, NLP, hypnotherapy, support groups, even witchcraft!  I went to India to work with an Ayurvedic guru.  I’ve worked with healers from every continent on the globe.  

And although I can say that the metaphors do help in terms of putting sets of symptoms into a context, I cannot say that I’ve derived one iota of benefit from all this omphalospection.

If not for the Biggess Doggess, I would certainly pack it in.  It seems odd that I would stay alive and suffer for a wolfish beastie.  Somehow I just can’t let her down.  She has been through so much!  A victim of trafficking, quite literally, used and thrown away.  With love and care, she’s flourishing.  I can’t bear the thought of her going through any more trauma.  She totally freaks if I leave her sight.  I’ve committed to staying alive as long as she lives, if I can.  

We’ll just have to see what happens.

We Still Have a Chance to Stop Kratom Prohibition – And the DEA Actually Wants to Hear Your Thoughts | Drug Policy Alliance

http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/we-still-have-chance-stop-kratom-prohibition-%E2%80%93-and-dea-actually-wants-hear-your-thoughts?ms=2D1_1611NewsletterKratom&utm_campaign=fy17newsletter&cid=701U0000000y1Jd&spMailingID=27183648&spUserID=NDA5MjM2NTIzMjY5S0&spJobID=925556829&spReportId=OTI1NTU2ODI5S0

Please consider taking action NOW.  Send the DEA your personal letter using the link in the above article.  Tell them why they should leave kratom alone, just as it is: an unscheduled herbal supplement that many find very helpful.  The harms associated with kratom are minimal.  There have been less than 200 deaths recorded that are associated with–but not necessarily caused by–kratom use.

Please exercise your rights and privileges, and send the DEA a note today!  The next vote on the fate of kratom comes up on December 1, so time is of the essence!

Very Black Friday

Listen, even though I’m living with mental illness, I’m trying to improve, millimeter by millimeter.  I’m trying to carve out a modest existence.  I get dressed every day.  I keep myself clean.  I take my medicine.  I exercise.  I have a service dog who makes sure, by her very existence, that I actually get out of bed to take care of her needs, and that I go on living, because she loves me so, and because I love her so.  I am a creature that lives only because of love.

It might seem silly that I felt blindsided by the family Thanksgiving celebrations,  the ones I was not invited to.  Why should that come as a surprise?  It’s been clear that my mother has recruited her family in her retaliation campaign.  

Yes, I know it’s textbook Narc reprisal.  I have been working to increase the distance to one that’s tolerable for me.  I stopped ending phone conversations with “I love you,” because I don’t.  I don’t hug her, because her touch is abhorrent.

Her style is “love me or fear me.”  I expected widespread destruction.  She’s been working on polarizing the extended family for some years.  And she loves to try to “Cinderella” me, by, for instance, tricking me into taking care of her cats while she goes on vacation with my cousins.  I stopped that.

I do still keep in touch with my mother.  I’m trying to help her find a way to move into appropriate housing.  She’ll be 90 soon, and the house she and my late father lived in for most of their married lives is not a good place for a very elderly person.  She’s very willing to accept my help, because, you know, “I owe her.”

But she is just now on a scorched-earth campaign of fiery vengeance, so instead of returning my calls she sent me a text on Wednesday, announcing that the entire surviving M__ family would be gathering around the Turkey Table…”well, almost!”  She added, just to make sure I got it.

Nice one, Mom.  Hope it brightened up your holiday!

Last year’s Turkey Day was also a bust.  Several years ago, when my dad was still living, I convinced my son that it really wasn’t fair that he spent ALL of the holidays with his father’s family.  Couldn’t he come to his grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving?  

Ugh, that even sounds bad when I read it, but I can’t whitewash it.  This is my blog, for heaven’s sake!  I’m supposed to be brutally honest, and so I shall be.

The first couple of years were pretty good.  He even used a picture of the two of us furiously cooking together as his Facebook profile picture!  And he got to know some of his cousins on my side.   And it was good for him to be with his grandpa, even though the latter, who I nicknamed “The Doormouse,” retreated into slumber after greeting the guests, and stayed there until it was safe to wake up.  A good strategy!

The downside was that he also got to witness my mother “disciplining” me for one or another perceived outrage.  Name-calling, belittling, mockery, silent treatment…oh, she loves to show off!   I was mortified, and unable to just shake it off, I told him how upset I was that she was doing this in front of him.  Another nail in my coffin, all of that.

When my father died, Thanksgiving broke up.  My mother’s absolute savagery toward my father in his last years acted as an absolute repellant!   The moment he died, I wanted to be out of there.  Nothing more to bind me!

Thanksgiving 2014 arrived just three weeks after my father’s death.  I spent it with my son, his girlfriend, and a swirling cloud of their friends, who dropped in for eats and smokes and beers.  I lay on the couch in a stupor of grief and allowed myself to be fed and cared for.  It was very much needed and appreciated.  

Then that woman exited his life.  Things might have been different had she stayed.  Who knows?

T.G. ’15 arrived.  Again, I didn’t want to be around my mother.  I tried to interest my son in inviting people for a potluck, or any sort of a gathering, at his house.   Or perhaps we could go to his friends who were making dinner?  No, he wanted to dine together, the two of us, alone.  I thought that was very strange, but if that’s what he wanted….

I went.  He was furious, and fed me his roast duck, and I slept in my camper in his parking lot.  The next morning he insisted I leave.  I felt as if I had been yanked in and beaten.  And I had been!  I don’t know why.

I called him last week.  He knows I’m in Arizona, no danger of my intruding on his East Coast safety zone.  He texted me, “I’m crazy busy.  Can we talk next week?”  Which is, of course, this week.

But no life-sign from him this week.  Not even a “Happy Thanksgiving!” text.  And that generally means he’s with his dad.  That is perfectly fine.  I don’t expect him to keep up with me.  He’s made it very clear that he’s not interested in sharing any part of my life, unless it’s the part where I give him money.  He doesn’t have to go all silent in order to avoid telling me that he’s reestablished his status quo, enjoying all of his holidays with his father.

What I can’t figure out is exactly why my son is so deeply angry with me.  I wish I could see and experience things through his eyes, his mind, his heart.  What do I do that so profoundly triggers him?

On the other hand, he has always made sure to get his way.  He is the master of the Battle of Wills game.  I was often the villain, because I refused to let his terrorist tactics ruin plans for hiking, skiing, swimming, horseback riding, barbecues, camping, dancing, and anything else that might potentially be spoiled by a child refusing to participate, scowling, stubbing up/going silent, and generally attempting to disrupt any fun that might be brewing.   Refusal to enjoy life!  And determined to take me down with him.  I refused.  I still refuse!  

In essence, I have spent half my life trying to teach my son how to enjoy life, and he has spent all of his resisting me.  Well, now he’s an adult, with a PhD even, and just as I shun my mother and her family shuns me, my own son and his extended family shun me.   Will this circle be unbroken?  God in heaven, how I’ve tried to break it!  But it keeps rebuilding itself: the hoop snake, with its tail in its mouth, spreading poison from one generation to the next.  Dare I hope it stops, one way or another, with his?

It all seems like a surreal mistake.  My mother raised me by threats and fear, violence and withholding.  I tried very hard to use only positive reinforcement (love and praise), but the child I got gave me a fortnight of newborn bliss, then erupted into rage-and-resistance personified.  How can a baby be enraged practically from birth?  I loved him so completely.  

The truth is, I don’t know what it’s like to live with me.  Consider the evidence!  Not so good.

Then what shall I do about this?  This life.  When I look into the future, I see muddy brown dust.

My world is spinning down.  It’s consolidating into a dense blackness.  I’m too dulled out to even feel, let alone care.  

I tried to get drunk yesterday, in order to be fully and righteously dysfunctional.  But I forgot about my drink and instead knocked it over into my bed.  I have never got the hang of drinking.  Just as well–wouldn’t want to add that to the list.  But now I’m sounding maudlin.  Must stop.

Don’t The Moon Look Lonely

Shinin’ through the trees….

https://youtu.be/Ul1MEk4BRsg

Trump Declares Free Ice Cream Day For Inauguration

Just when we thought we were really in hot water….

All Things Chronic

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to bring people together, president-elect Donald Trump has planned a special surprise for his inauguration day, January 20th. Every outlet that sells ice cream, from Baskin-Robbins to the corner gas station, will be participating in Free Ice Cream Day. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (and her husband) announced the new annual holiday on CNN this morning.

Not only will every American receive a free ice cream bar, but Trump has declared January 20th to be an international holiday. Ms. Conway said that any country choosing to participate will be considered friends of the new administration.

Ms. Conway went on to say that: “We want everyone to celebrate on inauguration day, no matter who they voted for. Get a free ice cream at your nearest local store, then join your friends and family in watching history take place. Donald Trump will be the best president…

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Night of The Flamingos

The full moon hangs over my patio, illuminating the palo verde trees, the bamboo, and….the flamingos.

My Pledge

Our amazing warrior in Albuquerque lays it down so it STAYS down. I am totally down with her Pledge. Who’s with us? Please go to her original post to REBLOG AND SHARE!

All Things Chronic

As an old woman who happens to be white, I’m not proud of what other members of my race (and the electoral college) have done in electing Trump. What can I do?

I pledge to stand up with every group that Trump has denigrated. I pledge to be vocal about my support for the LGBTQ community, people of color, women, veterans, the disabled, those who suffer from mental health conditions, the homeless, and of course, pain patients.

If you want to be a racist or a bigot, you cannot do so if I’m around. This has nothing to do with political correctness. This is about being a human being.

On the internet or out in public, at Walmart or in Walgreens, if you behave like a racist, sexist, or homophobe, be warned that I will call you out on it. I’m not afraid of you. You think Trump has given…

View original post 27 more words

Leonard Cohen, whose Jewish-infused poetry and songs inspired generations, is dead at 82 | Jewish Telegraphic Agency

http://www.jta.org/2016/11/10/arts-entertainment/leonard-cohen-whose-jewish-infused-poetry-and-songs-inspired-generations-is-dead-at-82?utm_source=Newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=fd582829cc-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_11_10&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2dce5bc6f8-fd582829cc-27970301

Baruch Dayan ha’Emet–blessed is the Righteous Judge.

Leonard Cohen has died, at age 62.  His last album was released only last month.

Cohen’s music wrote the score for the dark days of my early teenage years.  His music affects me so profoundly that sometimes I can’t bear to listen to it.

But then you hear “Suzanne,” and are overcome with wistfulness, imagining the scene….

Muslim-Zionist Activist: ‘Antisemitism Is the Norm in the Islamic Community, But the World Will Come to Realize Its Mistake About Israel | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com

https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/11/10/muslim-zionist-activist-antisemitism-is-the-norm-in-the-islamic-community-but-the-world-will-come-to-realize-its-mistake-about-israel/

This is an amazing article.  It lights a tiny spark of hope in my heart.