“Conscience Clause” Gone AMOK — Rape Victim Denied Morning After Pill By Prison Guard | RH Reality Check

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/06/29/conscience-clause-gone-amuck-rape-victim-denied-morning-after-pill-by-prison-guar Assaulted twice: once by the rapist, again by the prison guard who confiscated the victim’s second “morning after pill” dose, forcing a possible unwanted rape pregnancy on the victim. Disgusting.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Rape in the Military: ‘Invisible War,’ New Documentary, Exposes Assaults – ABC News

http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=16632490 Is anyone here surprised that rape is a routine happening to females in the military? It certainly isn’t to me. The conditions are perfect: an ironclad hierarchy where hazing of underlings is routine and even institutionalized, where “only the strong survive,” where women have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to advance(or even be considered as viable prospects for advancement, and where “telling” might land you in a heap of trouble if the assailant is of superior rank. There have been notorious scandals like the “Tailhook” party referred to in the article. But for the most part, rape in the military rarely bubbles to the surface. I shudder to think what might go on in places like Iraq and Afghanistan where aggressive tension runs high, and for women on base there is no way out. This ain’t your mother’s episode of “Mash.” When I was in medical school, the psychology department ran an interesting experiment. They recruited a group of college men, to whom they administered a “propensity to rape” scale. In short, this was a series of questions that measured whether it was OK to force sex on a woman who said NO. It presented various scenarios in which the men were asked to rate on a five point scale whether they felt she “deserved” to be raped, or whether they felt justified in forcing her to have sex with them. After establishing a baseline, the researchers split the men into three groups. Group “a” watched a romantic and very explicitly erotic movie. Group “b” watched a movie in which there was explicit violence and also explicit sex. Group “c” watched a movie where there was explicit sexual violence. Then the men took the same “propensity to rape scale” test over again, and compared them with their first test outcomes. What do you think the results were? 1. Group “a” who watched romantic sex’s propensity to rape went down. They felt more connected with and protective of women. 2. Group “c” who watched films of sexual violence thought it was more OK to “take what they wanted” regardless of consent. 3. But it was group “b” WHO WATCHED FILMS THAT HAD BOTH EXPLICIT VIOLENCE AND EXPLICIT SEX WHO HAD THE HIGHEST PROPENSITY TO RAPE. That is to say: men who witness wholesale violence are more likely to transpose that violence onto sex, because rape is about violence, not sexual desire. This study makes it simple to understand why rape is so easily used as a weapon of war. We might ask, how can a man get aroused to penetrate some hapless woman, as is done all over the world in the course of warfare? Violence transposed on sex, is how. Likewise on US military bases, where there is often such an imbalance of power, it is easy to see where the studied aggression of trained warriors might overflow onto women of lesser rank or position, especially when the price of “telling” often spells loss of career for the woman. The article tells of mysteriously “lost” rape kits and any number of ruses for “exonerating” the assailant. I hope to see many more articles like this one shedding light on a topic that has kept military women in a type of slavery. Yes, they are free to quit or just not sign up. But that is like saying “well, she shouldn’t have been wearing that skimpy dress, she was just asking for it.” Oh, right: “she shouldn’t have signed up for that four-year hitch if she didn’t want to take what comes with it.” NOT. NO WAY. We must not accept this.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Bipolar, Rape Survivor, PTSD. In that order.

In a previous post I wrote about my dread of April 22nd, the anniversary of the first time  was raped.

I know that I was a bipolar child.  A bipolar depression set the stage for that first rape.  I was heart-breakingly vulnerable.  The combination of my own depression and vulnerability with intense familial emotional abuse set me up as a prime target for predators. 

No one in my family noticed that I was depressed, just as they hadn’t noticed that I had anorexia.  I guess they just thought I “looked good,” which is the family code word for “thin.”  Yes, even at 5’1″, 78 lbs is thin.  “Lookin’ good.”

Even if they had noticed my depression, they would only have given me the usual treatment for any kind of aberration: derision and mockery.  They didn’t believe in psychiatry, not for us, even though my mother worked in a psychiatric hospital.  Even if they had taken me to see a doctor I wouldn’t have dared to say anything for fear that my parents would find out and give me hell.

So I came by my PTSD by way of the abuse at home, the initial rape, then running away from home and living pm the streets,  more rapes, more PTSD, untreated bipolar… But I didn’t die.  I fought my way back.  I haven’t won the war yet, but I’ve won a lot of battles, and with G-d’s help I hope to win more and more.

By the way: if you happen to know my family, I thank you to watch my back.   Don’t go to them and say, oh guess what I just read….

Writing that last paragraph just jogged my consciousness to notice how difficult it is for me to let go and trust. When we write a blog post, it’s like an offering to the world, a butterfly that flutters up from the palm of your hand into the breeze. There’s no telling who willreceive it, or what their reaction will be. It takes a certain measure of chutzpah to publish these extremely personal reflections publicly, as all of us in this particular mental health blogging community do.

Nevertheless, even as I sit here in this coffer shop I’m aware of every door. I’m sitting where I can see all of them at once. I didn’t do that consciously. It’s burned into my neurology. At the same time I’m watching the man who just came in and sat down at the table to my right with my peripheral vision. He is directly between me and a rear exit. My breathing is constricted. After I finish this post I will move so that he is no longer in my field of vision. He is paying the table in time to the bubble gum music overhead. He chews whatever he is eating loudly. Space invader.

Time for me to move my act somewhere more safe.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Sleep, don’t fail me now

Uh-oh.  This is not good.  Not good at all.

Last night I didn’t sleep because of the nightmares, one after the other.  I’d wake up from one, sigh, go back to sleep and boom, another nasty one right on top of it.  I was so tired, though.  I wanted to just say the hell with it and get up and drink tea, but I couldn’t wrench free of that thick sea of monster soup.  When I finally dragged myself out of bed, exhausted, I was shocked to look in the mirror and see only bags under my eyes and not shiners and lacerations like on Friday night fights.

Now it’s tonight.  I was really looking forward to tonight.  It was going to be my come-back match, the one where I went sweetly to sleep (courtesy of Seroquel, Ambien, and Ativan, as always), thumbing my nose at the monster contenders in the other corner.  Let ’em stay there and sweat it out, the bastards.

But.  It’s now 12:49 a.m. and I am no more sleepy than I was an hour before I took my chemical knockout drops.

Maybe it’s because I have to move out of my apartment but have no place to move into because my new place won’t be ready in time.  Could that be it?

Or that in a little over a month I’ll be returning to my home country, my beloved Israel, but knowing that it’s only for a couple of months?  I’ve been here in the States for a year and a half, and only very recently stopped having daily violent crying jags from missing my country so.  I’m so excited to be going Home, and seeing my friends, walking on The Land, and yes, living with my Beloved….it’s enough to keep anyone awake.

But.  I live with the Bipolar monster.  So that means I have to S-L-E-E-P in order to stay healthy and not go mental.  (You see that I have not even mentioned the possibility of this sleeplessness being the harbinger of a hypomania episode.  But.  My Psychiatric  Service Dog, Noga, has come over and started disrupting my writing behavior by bumping me with her nose-that’s what she does when she sees I’m doing something abnormal, according to her, that is.)

image

Noga the Lhasa Apso

So I will have to take another Seroquel and force myself to sleep.  TKO.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

On loving, and having a Beloved, and being a bipolar blogger

The very first thing that I must mention here is that my Beloved and I are in a tough spot.  You see, if I tell him what I’m going to be writing about in my next blog post, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle sets in:  according to Heisenberg, nothing exists unless it is observed; and the mere fact of being observed changes observed phenomena. (I would like to add the link here to the International Physics Society article about Heisenberg, but my handheld won’t let me. I hope to add it later.)

So if I tell him, “today I am going to blog about how we interact as a couple when one of us is bipolar,” then he will certainly wish to discuss it (like the good Beloved he is), and then my post will not be anything like my original conception.  Which, sometimes, might be a good thing;  but since the purpose of this blog is to express and explore my raw, uncut, unprocessed feelings about my experience of bipolar-ness, it rather thwarts that purpose to process things prior to publication.

I must say here that having a Beloved who actually wants–not merely wants, but is eager to–process my experience with me is a dear delightful thing, one which I have never before in my life experienced.  So it does pain me a bit to forgo his proffered gift, and go ahead and write my piece, and discuss it afterward.

He did extract a promise from me, that I would send him a link to each piece as it is published.  And I did invite him to subscribe, which would ensure that he is notified maybe even faster.  I don’t know if he did or not, finding myself suddenly shy about asking.  I send him the links anyway, unless I forget.

I am used to writing all the time.  It is a need, like eating–no, more like going to the bathroom, if the truth be known.  I have no control whatsoever over when a piece will hit me and demand to be let out.  Two in the afternoon, three in the morning, the Sabbath (on which it is forbidden to write, so I guess I will be spending time in the Jewish version of hell. Maybe I will get to meet Spinoza.)

Writing is old hat to me.  Having a Beloved, on the other hand, is an entirely new style dance.  Not that I have not had lovers before:  let us not begin to count them.  I’ve been married.  Twice.  But a really truly Beloved?  Not till now.

What this does for me is: it puts sharing into an entirely new perspective.  Yes, I now have someone who actually cares how I feel, and wants very much to participate in my process.  For my part, I have lived my life quite alone, even when in relationship, so transitioning into sharing sometimes leaves me feeling confused and clueless.  I’m hoping that time and practice will smooth the way.  I desperately hope that he’ll be patient with me.

And a big–no, big is not big enough: think of a better word–challenge for me is to be both aware of the Uncertainty Principle, that simply observing a phenomenon changes it, and yet resist living my life in fear that this or that thing I write might offend my Beloved, or anyone else who has a stake in how I feel. I must evolve a new, functional version of the self-edit. I do not know what that might look like, since I have never had one.

Having grown up in a house where “children are meant to be seen and not heard,” where displeasing the ruling tyrants reliably lead to being squashed like a bug, it’s hard for me to navigate the waters of any relationship, let alone a real and genuine one where people express their feelings and opinions openly, and sometimes get passionate about them. My Inner Protector Alarm goes off more frequently than I’d like it to: “Danger, danger! Raised voices! Dive, dive!” (Submarine alarm sound from movies)

This includes both real and imagined threats, arising from both internal and external sources. The good news here is that I’m becoming more aware of the sound of the dive alarms, whereas previously I would find myself at the bottom of the ocean having not a clue how I had arrived there.

This is just the tip of this particular iceberg. I hope to see myself opening up here and writing my heart out, quite literally, without self-censorship and without fear.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

N-Acetyl Cysteine Effective for Bipolar Depression (mobile format)

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/744371 Well, dear readers, I have some really good news for us all. I am particularly personally pleased about this, because today I began having those nasty creeping feelings of incipient depression. Having had a nice long remission (thank G-d), with a bit of hypomania to spice things up, I am not looking forward to the down side of the equation. But there is hope on the horizon! Just today this article on the efficacy of n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) flashed across my medical literature radar. I pounced on it like a hungry lioness. As a pediatrician, I’m familiar with NAC from its other uses: intavenously, for protecting the liver after acetaminofen overdose; and inhaled, for liquifying sticky lung secretions in cystic fibrosis. There is a growing fan base among athletes for NAC, as some feel it enhances performance. According to the above linked article, there is now good evidence to support that. NAC assists essential metabolic processes that enhance the function of the body and the mind. As is my previous post about metabolic syndrome in the brain, scientists are finding that the biochemistry of the brain is a lot more similar to that of the body than was previously thought. For instance, we know that inflammation in the body can cause all kinns of ills, so we might take antiinflammatory supplements or, even better, eat an antiinflammatory diet. This article points out that inflammation can also happen in the brain, setting off a cascade of ill effects, including triggering bipolar depression, which is notoriously difficult to treat. This gives us a window to wonder whether perhaps the biochemical/electrophysiological profile of bipolar depression might be different than that of unipolar depression. Bottom line: NAC was forms to be very safe and effective as an ad-on to the meds the patient was talking already. The dose in the study is 2000 mg, once a day. I have seen other dosing schedules that also worked, in some very promising studies on using NAC in autistic children to reduce distressing behaviors instead of using antipsychotics. The biggest challenge right now seems to be getting hold of the stuff, since it is so popular with the athletes, who no doubt feel like a million bucks. I’m definitely going to try this one. I sure hope it saves me from another round of rTMS. The old brain is not sure she can take that kind of pounding any time soon. If you decide to try NAC, I’d really appreciate it if you world keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved