Category: Mental Health/Mental Illness


It’s May! That means it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, which in turns means there’s going to be “well meaning” people coming out of the rafters in fake support of mental health issues and disparities – preferably without letting those with mental disorders talk or only picking ones that are super general (depression) or “sounds a little worse but still marketable/not too scary” (bipolar). Then there is the “omg, self care!” crowd. I’m sure it started as something real but it’s a bunch of meaningless capitalistic bullsh*t at this point, aimed at people who have little wrong with them.

Let’s start with Self Care:

Dealing with mental illness is difficult. Many people across the globe struggle and experience it everyday, me included. However, instead of actual, viable solutions such as better access to authentic mental health care, more genuine diversity in psychology/therapy fields, things of that nature – we get “self care”. Which is a paltry, hyper-capitalist idea that basically boils down to “Treat Yourself!”

An article written by Shayla Love “The Dark Truths Behind Our Obesession with Self-Care” talks about this in depth:

From the ashes of these increasing mental health burdens has risen a trendy, Instagrammable solution: self-care. We young people, suffering in unprecedented numbers, have been forced to take on the responsibility of caring for ourselves, and have fallen under the spell of this hashtaggable term to do so.

Self-care is a nebulous name for a group of behaviors that should have a simple definition: taking care of yourself. But it’s no longer just meditation and journaling; everything can now be #selfcare. Eating healthfully or indulgently; spending time alone or seeing friends; working out or taking a rest day; getting a manicure or forgoing beauty routines.

These activities and products are not sinister in and of themselves. I would hope that a life includes leisure, time with loved ones, and exercise. But self-care has been appropriated by companies and turned into #selfcare; a kind of tease about the healthcare that we are lacking and are desperate for. As Baba realized, you can’t actually treat an anxiety disorder with a bubble bath or a meditation app, and the supposition that you can is a dangerous one.

The article is a very good read (even despite being a Vice work, which is pretty rare for me to say) and strikes on how the captialized version of self-care, not necessarily the concept itself, is not a decent replacement for mental healthcare.

I have ran into people preaching self-care over and over again, especially when I bring the fact I have mental disorders, particularly trauma disorders.

“Do exercise!” I have practiced martial arts for over 10 years. And I roller skate. And I go biking. And I’m usually told this by folks who are less healthy than me.

“Do yoga!” Been there, done that. Doesn’t do anything for suicidal thoughts. Or stop attempts.

“Get a hobby!” I already knit, crochet, build robots, code, do martial arts, cook, write long length stories, make books and journals, create CADs, 3D print, roller skate, draw, sketch, bike, fix cars, fix bikes, speak several languages and more … and yet I still have several disorders. Huh, it’s almost like the two aren’t related. Like I can be really good at something, and still my brain will malfunct. Y’know, like how you can be really, really good at deep breathing but that’s not going to stop you from having lung cancer – or cure it.

“Have a gratitude journal.” Sounds like bullsh*t and I’m both a writer and a bookbinder. Gratitude journals are worthless because while being grateful for things is nice – it doesn’t fix problems. It’s just pointless distraction better aimed at those who have little wrong with them.

While doing these things are not bad in and of themselves, they are a shabby and crap replacement for actual mental health care. Happy thoughts and “positive vibes” can’t heal cancer nor mend a broken leg, why would it do the same for a messed up mind? It is important for people to have access to real resources for proper care. While having green tea every morning is nice, it doesn’t cure depression (if that were the case, Korea and Japan wouldn’t be fiercely competing neck and neck for who has the most suicides and China would save massive yuans on anti-suicide nets they put on buildings). Real conditions should be met with real solutions.

Then there is the money part – a lot of these “self-care” things cost money. Luxurious amounts. Here is the thing: if a poor person can’t participate, it is not a legitimate practice. I always use that as a litmus test because if something is supposed to authentically help but ices out those who need it most, then it is probably a fad for the rich and self-indulgent. I mean, who truly believes that wearing a temporary tattoo that says “you got this” actually fixes PTSD? Either you’re nursing a drug habit or plain stupid to believe this.

The Self-Care movement seems borne from the fact that, honestly, it is far too hard for the average person to get psychological help if they need it. On its face, Self-Care sounds very individualistic, pull-yourself-up-from-your-bootstraps … which conveniently ignores the fact you have to wait long months for a professional you can’t afford. As if being besieged by a disorder is a choice and can be greeted with simple solutions, like buying expensive tea or buying fuzzy pillows.

And this is just Self-Care. There is also the fact the bulk of mental health assistance really is just, “pills are the new strait jacket, everything useful is expensive, White people only – preferably women. Everyone else can go to jail. Or die.”

This isn’t to say that proper medication does not help conditions but A) not every mental disorder can be solved with a pill (or a litany of them) B ) Pills do not replace talk therapy, at all. US mental health care honestly feels that if someone winds up in a psych ward, they just need to be drugged up, no need for cohesive one-on-one therapy. And if they are not White, even their cultural experiences and perspectives are going to be labeled as a disorder, usually one of the psychotic ones. By the way, that is a historical problem because, long story short, White people always thought Black folks were legitimately crazy for believing racism exists. Give those same White folks a clipboard and hospital badges, and you get a lot of misdiagnosed people who never get helped – or get swept into a system that just rather dose them into silence or compliance. I actually had to argue with doctors over my diagnosis because they wanted to diagnose me with – guess what? Schizophrenia! Or bipolar. Because it was easier to ignore the fact I had a trauma-filled childhood that gave me memory problems that heavily hinted I had major dissociation. Y’know, a dissocative trauma disorder? Since I believed, “cops harm Black folks on the level of serial killers, the drug trade literally poisons and rot communities, and racism exists”, I was considered “militant and bananas”* – oh, and they weren’t too interested in shoving me in front of a therapist but they were pretty quick about “what pills should she be on?” That’s a problem. A big one. And pretty oft ignored.

And if you get tossed in-patient? Problems just compound. Remember, you will just about never see a therapist if you’re general admissions (which is most people: the suicidal, the psychotic, the addicted, everyone in between. They all wind up here) so if you want to talk out your problems, you have to settle for your fellow patients during down time – which is not what they are there for, by the way – or group therapy, where if you are not really cool with telling swaths of strangers your problems, you really don’t have options. And there is really little to do so if you want to stay outside your head, that’s probably not going to happen.

Should you spend too much time in your head and fall into an episode, the options are restraints, being tersely spoken to, solitary, or getting the Spike (sometimes three needles, sometimes one, always a knock-out serum). Restraints are no fun, you feel like you’re in The Exorcist. Solitary is exactly that, just you and your thoughts in a teeny room. Some places have teeny 6×6 rooms with four walls, a mattress and a camera staring riiiiiiight at you embedded in the corner of the room. You get a sheet and pillow but nothing more than that. Other places, it’s just a cleared out room – most hospitals have done away with padded walls, those are a thing of the past (and bad movies). The burnt out nurses have no idea how to talk to you so they opt for “as if speaking to a bad child”. The ones who do use training were trained by people who read from guides crafted by idealists and edited by paranoid lawyers – useless. And most do not seem to know how to reference the DSM, the handbook of mental health and disorders, when they meet a patient whose disorder they do not understand. Despite the fact I am diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (old name: multiple personality disorder, hasn’t been used since 1994), nurses would go directly down the “schizophrenia” route in treatment and mannerisms towards me. If not outright ignore me because, eh, what is there to do? I’ve seen others get the Spike, it’s fast acting and you either wake up in restraints, in solitary or in your room. In some places, you’re surrounded by a small crowd of people when you come to, in others, you just wake up on your own but someone is definitely checking on you.

Psych wards pretty much are like holding cells for the mentally bereft. You’re not allowed outside, you get three squares a day, the nurses act like wardens, and your time is dictated with little variation. Not to mention, it’s a holding cell you get a massive bill for. And I am talking “You could buy a fancy Tesla with all the trimmings” massive. I thought I amassed student debt fast, I managed to outpace what I accumulated in four years from college in less than three weeks at a mental hospital for my trauma disorder.

Speaking of which – yes, there are mental health programs. For example, there are a few for trauma disorders – emphasis on few because there are about twenty hospitals maybe on the planet that can treat DID. I’ve gone to one of them twice. However, mental health programs are hard to get into and prohibitively expensive. Just one night there is about $1,500 USD. For my disorder, I need about at least six weeks for treatments to actually work. Some have stayed over a year. Yes, you get one-on-one therapy and structured plans but still cultural barriers exist (yay, being labeled “aggressive” even when you’re not and not being allowed to discuss institutional prejudice or racism). And if you opt out on meds, things get a little worse because it concerns the doctors. And the insurance companies think a mental disorder is like a cold – you do a couple things and the person is all better again.

For example, my insurance, United Healthcare, did not want to pay. They actually had me booted out a day after being taken off suicide watch, saying I was all better. Refused to talk to the doctor, just said “she’s good.” Oh, and they do this a lot. United Healthcare’s reason? As expressed in the linked article:

United had a structural conflict of interest in applying its own restrictive coverage rules because it felt pressure to keep benefit expenses down so it could offer competitive rates to employers.

… A major issue in the case was the adequacy of United’s coverage of behavioral and substance use disorders as chronic rather than acute conditions. The plaintiffs said United’s guidelines inappropriately limited coverage once patients’ symptoms subsided, rather than covering the range of services needed to maintain patient’s stable health conditions over a longer term.

And they were doing this for yeeeeeeears. That is a lot of people under-served because of one insurance company’s belief of “crazy people are crazy expensive”.

In Baltimore, my hometown and where I live, hospitals practice “patient dumping”. Still out of your mind and nowhere to go? Not their problem, out you go. I remember asking nurses when they would prepare discharge to people without stable homes, “Where do they go now? Like, they still seem not well.” The nurses would shrug and reply, “We give them a three day supply of meds and turn them loose. We can’t keep y’all here that long, state laws.” Because in Maryland, you’re out in a matter of days, it doesn’t matter if you’re really well or not. There is no infinity of beds and, again, “crazy people are crazy expensive” so that’s just how it is. They do try to point you to shelters and homes, they even try to give you bus vouchers and cab fares sometimes but if you’re not mentally fit when it’s time to go, you’re not going to understand any of that. Doesn’t matter though, out you go.

And as for the hospital that did the January patient dumping, University of Maryland Medical Center (better known locally as “UMMC” and used to be Maryland General Hospital), I am not surprised they did this because this hospital in particular is pretty nefarious about how they treat the mentally ill. When my doctor was seeking out hospitals for me, first thing she said was “Not UMMC” because of how poorly they treat patients. Other patients who have been to UMMC have described over-bearing security guards, non-caring staff and higher ups who pretty much don’t care as long as there isn’t a nagging lawyer staring over their shoulder. I bring this up because these are the same exact places that present themselves as forward-thinking and probably has countless “Mental Health Awareness Month” events that look wonderful but, let’s face it: they don’t actually care. Might as well say on a banner, “It’s nice to be nice to crazy people, but don’t ever become one.”

I personally don’t always believe in social awareness months. Black history month? Sure, be great if it was naturally embedded into everything already, though. Asian American Heritage month? Sure, be great if it was naturally embedded into everything already, though. Domestic Violence awareness month? Sounds like a checkbox excuse, a way to pretend to care about gender violence issues without actually doing anything. Same for Mental Health Awareness month. It’s a checkbox issue to pretend to care without actually doing anything. Outside of the occasional depression screening events, I honestly do not really see anything actively useful for people who have disorders. Maybe those who get a case of the blues or fret about a test but nothing more than that. Again, handing out bath bombs do not cure disorders. It would be poignant if it was a year-round thing and not something to do for a month because it looks good in the eyes of the unaffected.

For all the awareness month does, it really doesn’t do much. People still think mentally ill people are dangerous and vicious. You could get fired for having a disorder, and don’t bother with EEOC – they’re too overburdened to care or do anything about it. You could get placed into a hospital where you don’t get any sufficient care, just pills and apathy. You could find someone to treat you but it will put you in the poorhouse by hour 3. You might not be able to find anyone who can treat you at all. An awareness month on the issues of mental health is absolutely pointless if it’s does not cause any action and no one is better informed or impacted by these efforts. It simply feels like a way for neurotypical people (people who do not have disorders) feel like they’re good people, great allies – without lifting a single finger.

Actually, that’s probably the point.

 

* I still think it is ridiculous I was declared “militant” since I have friends who could make Spike Lee sound like Ben Carson. That and their solution for “militant” is not therapy but pills. Talk therapy isn’t lunacy but appears to the doctors I’ve ran into, it is.

 

I want to discuss mental health and magick because in the really recent weeks, I’ve gotten letters from people who believe they are experiencing fantastical and occultic things but actually aren’t.

The most recent one:

I was turned into a spider on a few occasions, and now I’m being eaten by them and other parasites. What can I do? One of the spiders says it was trained to be my Satanist. I can hear them, but I can’t see them. However, I do feel their presence and can hear them quite well. I’d like to know how I can protect myself too. If you have any advice.

I suggested this person talk to a psychologist because this isn’t an occurrence of magick, it’s a sign of actual possible psychosis*. Let’s break down why first and go from there.

Unless the person was a regular practitioner of very advanced magick, it’s not normal to say “I was turned into a spider on a few occasions”. And even for very advanced magick, that’s pushing it.

The whole sentence of “I was turned into a spider on a few occasions, and now I’m being eaten by them and other parasites” sound really similar to what people that experience symptoms of psychosis in terms of sensory issues. In short, it sounds like a sensory delusion. Magick doesn’t create what the person is describing in this sentence.

The sentence “One of the spiders says it was trained to be my Satanist,” sounds like a textbook definition of a “word salad”. Nothing in that entire sentence made sense, especially the latter part.

Though auditory hallucinations (not to be confused with clairaudience**) are the most common types of hallucinations a person can experience and are not promised hallmarks of psychosis, the next sentence unfortunately sounds like it: “I can hear them, but I can’t see them. However, I do feel their presence and can hear them quite well.”

In magick, there are myriads of experiences, sensory and extra sensory, but this whole letter is not it. There is nothing to protect from because I’m pretty certain nothing is actually there. The best advice is for the person to see a therapist or psychologist because it is nothing from the realm of magick, just mental illness.

Here’s the thing to remember, also: we’re currently looking from the outside in, where it is pretty clear. When standing in the eye of the storm, things get a little more blurry. I should know, when I was younger, I thought the fact that I had a split mind was just part of “being a witch” and doing magick – despite the fact pretty much everyone in the magick/Pagan community went “naaaaaaah, that don’t sound right.” This definitely included the psychologists and therapists in that community. I didn’t believe them then but turns out they were right: I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, a childhood trauma disorder. Does this render all my other experiences moot? Not at all. The Pagan community just narrowed down that and went, “That particular thing right there, that doesn’t sound right. That exact thing you just described.” Everything else I’ve shared with the community is more garden-variety “Yup, you’re dealing with witchcraft and magick, all right.” So, there is a difference. Sometimes the difference is blurry, but there is one.

Whenever I get letters that are glaringly “this sounds less like magick and more like mental illness”, I regularly suggest getting help and diagnosis if they don’t have one. Yes, mental health care is terrible all around the world, I can’t think of one place where it is awesome (the United States certainly weighs close to the bottom of the list for me), and it gets even worse when race is applied*** but it is important to get on top of it somehow so the disorder does not atrophy. This can even mean doing your own research, like I did. I already knew I had depression, OCD and PTSD so I knew what to rule out in my experiences (for example, I knew that nightmares and quickness of breath were not instances of metaphysical occurrences, just my anxiety and PTSD acting up). I didn’t know about the DID, though, so that was inaccurately attributed. Now that I do, it helps me rule out what is and what isn’t. It is also why I tell everyone to research as much as they can about their practices as well because if you know what sounds like a metaphysical occurrence, that also means you know what doesn’t and that can be a pretty ample clue.

I’m not irritated that I get these letters but it is concerning that it’s growing a little in volume so I think it’s a good topic to pen.

 

 

*Note I’m calling it “possible psychosis” and not outright “schizophrenia”.  A) I’m not a psych doctor, I just research a lot B ) The person is not physically here to make such a call C) Psychosis can be a range of disorders, which can include Schizophrenia but it could also be something else under the same umbrella.

** “Clairaudience” is the hearing version of “Clairvoyance”. Remember, this is a blog about magick and even psionics, for any confused new-comers.

*** I’ve met many not-smart doctors who couldn’t see past their own biases and try to misdiagnose me because they didn’t understand A) what Paganism is B ) how Black people work and C) the DSM-5 has more than five disorders in there for a reason – so I nearly was slated as some version of schizophrenic or bipolar until I argued them into the ground about why they wanted to ignore the glaring fact I have memory problems related to trauma and that my “delusions” have grounds of reality – such as “cops are homicidal and unchecked, racism literally harms my life”. I’m a Black person, that’s not a delusion. This is a major result of the psych field being waaaaaaay too White and myopic – and none too interested in fixing that beyond lip service.

I have talked a fair amount about having Dissociative Identity Disorder in the past. Several times. It is still a pretty commonly stigmatized disorder – how many times have you heard of “multiple personalities” in online jokes and media (the most recent one being “Split”/”Glass”)? Though I want to say “Despite aplenty resources on the disorder…” there is a lot of distracting bunk out there that still calls DID “Multiple Personality Disorder” (at term that got retired in 1994 because it is not a personality disorder, it is a trauma disorder (the different identities are dissociated identities from trauma, hence, “dissociative identity disorder”)) and even the bunk that doesn’t call it MPD still have nonsense in their writings.

I have seen everything from “magical beings” to “new race of human evolution”.  To the former, I think that’s ridiculous even for an occult practitioner such as myself. To the latter, nice to know to “evolve” a person, just add R. Kelly/ Michael Jackson/your local serial child abuser – like a horrific pokémon evolution stone. I don’t think that’s how evolution or magick works, everyone.

Then, overlapping that big problem is the fact that DID also has the same problem the depiction of mental illness has: it’s seen as very exclusively White. Outside of a Korean/Chinese drama with the exact same plot (Korean: “Kill Me, Heal Me”/ “킬미힐미”, Chinese: “Seven of Me”/ “柒个我”) annnnd the Nigerian penned book Freshwater, DID is usually seen as something only White people have. Only recently have there been another non-White DID character in media, Crazy Jane in Doom Patrol. After that, it’s a bounty of snow all across the screens and pages. Also, in regards to Doom Patrol, the creators of the show as well as the actress, Diane Guerrero, really did their research and both the show and the character portrays the mechanics of how DID works very well.

Not only does these issues make getting a proper diagnosis harder because racial barriers and deep cultural ignorance in Western psychology but it also makes it difficult for a non-White person with DID to find material and people to relate to. This also causes rifts in the DID community because it appears no one really wants to “talk” about racism because it’s a trigger (it isn’t in this sense ) but are fine with engaging in it – which renders the “racism is my trigger” argument moot. That and neurotypical (individuals without disorders or mental disabilities) White people have the exact same problem – the slightest discussion of racism makes them fall to pieces but doing it is perfectly fine.

There are unique traumas and issues for people of color/minorities who have dissociative disorders (DID, D-PTSD, OSDD, etc) such as structural racism, racism in general, police violence, being forced to be raised in violent, neglected communities, the list goes on and on. If DID centers itself on Whiteness, that ignores a lot of traumas that can also create dissociative trauma disorders like DID. That means there are a lot of people walking around with the disorder, don’t know that they have it, don’t know how to deal with it and no idea where to begin because “Well, I’m not White”.

I recently made a facebook group called “PoC w/ DID” for this very reason. It is currently small but it is there.

Looks like this

 

When I announced the group in a DID FB group I’m in (Not Alternation, I got booted out of that group and its respective Discord server for the exact subject of this post. So now I’m in a different DID group) it went about poorly as could be expected. I got some new members but here came the bevy of “you’re being divisive”, “this is [somehow] racism”, “Why can’t I join?” and other pretty frail and agitating reasons. Y’know, all the reasons why the group exists.

As for the PoC w/ DID group, it’s pretty simple to join: just be a person of color who has a dissociative trauma disorder.

Late as heck but ABW is here, yay!

Hi my name is Jonte and I am reaching out to you on a very serious situation I have been dealing with for the last 3 years straight.  I am getting harassed by spirits 24/7 and I can actually feel them attaching to me.  They enter my ear and through my feet and I can actually feel something on my lower back by the tailbone area.  I also get pin pricks all over my body and if feels like they are watching me all the time.  When they latch onto me (which is often) they make noises wherever I am at and cause all types of disturbances.  I now have company staying with me and they make the noises around him also.  I really want to put a end to this and I have been searching for help so long I am getting harassed by physical people and by spirits..  It’s a phenomenon going on that some people call gang-stalking but I call it demonic harassment.  I know that witch craft is involved and I was wondering if you could maybe help me understand what might be going on?  Thanks.

– Jonte

With little info, I can’t tell if this is a simple medical/body problem or not. Given my experience, though, I have noticed things are usually less mystical than they originally appear. I always hear from people who say “I know witchcraft was involved” but usually it boils into nothing serious. Does it mean that folks don’t wind up haunted? No. Is it common, though? Absolutely not. And this is the second or so person I have heard use the term “gang-stalking”. “Gang Stalking” is considered a concerted effort from a group of people to ruin the target individual completely and totally – and sometimes considered an offshoot paranoia delusion by the psychological field. I could always say “this is a poltergeist just being annoying” but poltergeists don’t tend to bring real, physical people into the mix.

Another thing that tells me this is not a psychic/psionic thing because of the specifics – which make not a lot of sense: “they enter my ear and through my feet and I can actually feel something on my lower back by the tailbone area”. Reminds me of people who say they can hear the CIA through the microwaves and fillings in their teeth. Possessions and things of that nature are usually not so pointed, from what I know.

All in all, I don’t think this is a “magick” thing, and will little info, I can’t call it much else.

 

Hi there,
I’m the Community Manager with Anagram Interactive, where we specialize in connecting established brands with prominent bloggers. We’re currently working with Paperless Post, a company that designs customizable online stationery, to show that communication can be personal and well-designed regardless of the medium.

Paperless Post has partnered with several world-famous designers and lifestyle brands, including kate spade new york, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and Rifle Paper Co., and has delivered over 85 million cards to date. Since you have such an engaging and beautifully-designed blog, we’d like to offer you a number of Paperless Post digital Coins for free to try out our online service and write about your experience.

We really think you’ll enjoy Paperless Post and can’t wait to hear what you think. Please let me know if this is something you’d be interested in and I’ll show you how to get started!

Best,
Helen

I feel like being a douche because I abhor these emails. Money-grubbers were never my favorite kind of people. Ever. Never heard of them or Paperless Post but since both websites are not diverse enough (I’m not into tokenization, guys. Be diverse or be honest, pick one) I officially think they suck, greatly. The letter is so bland, they name people I don’t care about and it’s so pathetic, right down to the tepid compliment.

So what I think? These folks should peddle their annoying bullsh*t elsewhere. Come back when you’re Black owned or something remotely interesting.

 

Is it possible to become a immortal vempire? I will do whatever it takes.

– Unknown 2.0

Why do I get annoying questions like these? Stop reading Twilight.

 

I have a friend, I am trying to help him. his parents are very controlling and manipulative towards him. He has a disability and his parents try to control his life because his disability. he cant have friends come over to his house and he cant leave the house to see anyone unless his parents approve of it. I recently found out he went to a lawyer with parents to supposedly help him get a disability check from the government. when he showed me the website for the lawyer, it said they dont give disability rights but they give arrangements for people to get money after the person dies and went on to say they help prove incompetency. I am really scared for my friend and really worried about him. please help me find a spell on can on his parents that will help break the control and manipulation and stop the madness that goes on inside his house hold, HELP please i need a spell to help him stop his parents

-Trista N

As always, I DON’T do spell help/paid spellwork or ANYTHING of that matter. This sounds like disability abuse, they should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline under their Disability Abuse section.

 

Hello,

My name is Corie. I’ve been interested in wicca and paganism for awhile now. I feel overwhelmed with the conflicting information and practices. Can you suggest a good book for a general foundation?

– Corie

Where to Park your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy annnnnnnd all the other books I have ever mentioned on my site. And the Resources & Information tag.

 

My name is Abigail Rabi and I work for the content team in a legal firm in California, HoganInjury. We came across your article about mental health at https://thisblackwitch.com/category/pagan-life/mental-healthmental-illness/

I wanted to ask if you might be interested in sharing with your audience an article of ours that is related with the topic mentioned above.

[Link redacted]

We hope that our article can provide value and a unique perspective for your readers. You can syndicate this article or use it as an additional resource for your content. In return, my team and I will be happy to promote your content on Twitter.

Let me know if you are able to share our article and if there’s anything we can do for you on our end.

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear back from you soon.

Kind regards,
Abigail Rabi

Another pandering email. Again, I abhor these. And I doubt the ambulance chasers didn’t even read anything in the Mental Health category, just blindly copied and pasted it because fake bonding. They linked the category not a particular article/post. Proof of not reading anything to me.

The article is not valuable or unique, if you have read fear-mongering articles penned by old people scared of the internet for your local news station to regurgitate, then you already read what these folks have supplied, but sans anything mean about Millennials. It’s actually an ad for the firm that looks like an article because fake Lionel Hutz up there probably is running out of poor people to rinse and fleece in California – by the way, I live in Maryland. (Also known as “On the other side of the United States of America”.)  So they bother folks like me to hopefully and blindly peddle their bullsh*t.

My own lawyer, who I would be much more inclined to recommend, thankfully isn’t this much of an attention whore.

Here’s the thing, you’re a lawyer who wants to do stuff with mentally ill folks? Here’s some tips if you don’t want a nasty email from me:

  • MUST be pro-bono work only – not interested in folks who just wanna fleece the feeble and defenseless because they want the newest Zonda or Bugatti. You actually do have to help the people. I know, the horror.
  • Doesn’t talk to me like a corporate shill -I can’t stand people like that because they don’t care about the people they serve, they just want money
  • Actually builds rapport – See prev. point
  • Don’t be White – I’m a Black blog, guess which types of lawyers I’d rather hear from? The fact you wanted old dumb coot Bernie Sanders in office isn’t good enough (if you wanted that guy, seriously never talk to me)
  • Again, MUST be pro-bono or go rinse someone else.

I wouldn’t want to be tied to these people at all. They seem terrible trash to me. Why do folks think I’m Buzzfeed or something?

What they can do for me is to screw off and stop pestering anyone else.

 

I am from india…i am in love with a boy..but my parents are forcing me to marry some one else…can u help to stop this marriage??

– Lovestruck and Silly

Forced marriage is still a major problem in India, hence why I used a fake name for the person. However, in our really long back-and-forth, it seems they seriously didn’t really want any of the sites I dug up to help them, just more “Genie, grant my wishes” nonsense. She even tried to say “Your website said you give free readings” and when I asked where did I state that, she clammed up. So for anyone who is in such a dire situation, here’s some info for you:

National Human Rights Commission, India

National Commission for Women, India

Love Commandos

All three websites are in both English and Hindi. Please use these sites. I do NOT offer magick anything so this is the best you got if there is nothing else.

Race-Blinders

Ah, a group I was in had kittens over a complaint I had about lack of diversity. They simply booted me out without known warning. I didn’t think the response would be that bad but then, again, this is what happens pretty common in White dominated spaces, especially the ones that try to present themselves as “forward-thinking”.

They go “we don’t tolerate prejudice. We don’t like racism, sexism, etc etc” It’s usually a hint to what they will accept if it can be subtle. And not even super subtle, just simply omit the usual words that make it brash and they’re fine. In White dominated spaces, this is super true about racism. Saying the “n-word” is (sorta) not okay (I say “sorta” because it doesn’t stop them from trying) but using AAVE/ebonics and doing verbal Blackface is consider fine despite them being forms of racism. White dominated groups think they’re fine if they just avoid the usual slurs and that the Black person noting that it is not is a “troublemaker”.

When I brought up the whole “hey, this place has a diversity problem”, one person brought up that the subject of racism is a trigger for them (it’s a space for people with trauma disorders so the term “trigger” is appropriately used here) but here’s the thing, well, two things: a) the talk of racism is a trigger but acting it out is not? b) I’m usually okay with people having odd triggers because the traumatized brain works very, very odd (I explained this in a previous post) but a White person saying racism is their trigger is like Warren Buffett saying investing and money is his trigger. In a way, it is a bit odd because how could a White person be more troubled about racism than a Black person to the point it’s a psychological trauma trigger? They’re not killed as a result of it, they have far better opportunities in life from the existence of it, it really helps them out immensely. Not to mention, if anyone should have a trigger about racism, it should probably be the Black person. They’re the one that has to worry if the police officer on their street will turn into a cold-blooded murderer. They have to worry if a White person won’t try to mow a group of their peers down in a car or air out their business, place of worship or school because they feel entitled to do so. They have to watch videos and pictures of ice-cold murders or acts of prejudice of people who look exactly like them be circulated on the internet like trading cards. That is traumatizing. That could easily create a trigger for a Black person because it is a repeated enough trauma to very much count. To say that simply the subject of it is triggering but to engage in it all the same? That sounds less like an actual trigger and more like a “this makes me uncomfy as a White person”, especially since I hear this from other White people who also engage in racism and don’t have trauma disorders. They just don’t call it “triggers”, they just say something equally stupid like, “this causes bad vibes” or “ we don’t tolerate racism, you’re just blowing it out of proportion”. I know this because this is what I commonly run in to in White-dominated groups.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle, the trauma disorder group I was in usually has people in the chat all day long just going “I’m so gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay/traaaaaaaaaaaaans/queeeeeeeeeeeeer/etc.” Being happy in who you are in the face of adversary is fine but then there is this overdoing it to the point it practically seems like they’re not and they’re joking like cis straight people. That and given their uncomfiness with racism, I think if someone came in there and said “I have so much melanin! My skin is loooooovely. I’m so Blaaaaaaaaaaack,” it would probably make people act shifty. Like, the White folks in the group can chat about their family history heritage but it’s not as accepted to joke about how family history for a Black person is way more murky (I think I only know who’s who in my family up to my great grandparents and relatives on my mom’s side. Up to my grandparents on my dad’s side). It makes White people “uncomfortable” the realities of historical racism and institutionalized racism. Here’s the thing: it happened and it’s not that lava hot a subject unless it’s made to be. Not every time a Black person talks about their lived experience is a construct to induce White Guilt (which is a pathetic and selfish concept in and of itself). We don’t exist as walking life lessons to a White person. We are people also.

It’s really annoying that I can’t participate in the groups I want because if I bring up that there are any issues, it gets iced out as “she’s causing problems for our happy group!” but they also want to say “we don’t have problems and prejudice here and if we do, we root them out”. They don’t, they just root out the person that says, “hey, here is a problem.”

And this is usually a big problem in White dominated spaces. Even official ones. I remember being in a hospital for my disorders and was told that the idea of being afraid of police is an act of paranoia because police officers are here to help and be trusted. If you’re White, this is absolutely true, you get Officer Friendly, here to protect and serve. If you’re Black, you get Officer Jigsaw, here to maim and sever. It’s not irrational for a Black person to see a cop come near them and think, “Great, I’m about to die.” Then there’s the fact that you can’t talk about racism as a trauma because the doctors (who are usually White) get really, really defensive about that, especially if you note that they don’t have diverse doctors at all. Like, if you try, they say you’re getting aggressive, even if you’re calm about it. And if they think you’re aggressive, congrats, you risk getting snowed with pills (unless you’re good at knowing your patient rights) all because you brought up that prejudice does indeed exist and can indeed cause psychological damage to a person.

Having blinders on is acutely annoying, to say the least. Especially since a White person in the group made an all call saying, “Hey, we should have more diverse youtubers about trauma disorders” and it’s accepted politely but I mention, “Hey, we need more diverse voices because hearing White people use AAVE is annoying”, I am booted. Granted a person could say, “your version was harsh” but I don’t think there really is a nice way to say it. And the way said is already “nice” enough. It’s a problem, not a compliment, the basis of the statement isn’t “nice” in and of itself.

Frankly, what is it with White people and they wanting to appear forward-thinking and good but really don’t want to put in any effort to do so? Especially when it comes on the ground of racism? They want a trophy and ceremony for being non-prejudiced buuuuuuut when it is brought to their attention, they have a conniption about it at the person who said it is an issue, especially if they themselves are not White. If this is how groups keep their spaces “drama-free” or “problem-free”, it just builds an echo chamber that deludes itself in thinking that it is forward-thinking because they got rid of all dissenters instead of tackling the problem.

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Before I start with this post, there’s gonna be a teeny-weeny change here! Black Witch will be using Venmo for instead of Ko-Fi, now. For a few weeks, I have began posts with “Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee” as a way for readers to donate via Ko-Fi but it’s getting switched to Venmo. This will be it’s own post but for now, let’s continue with below.

Alters
This is a trailer for a short film about having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Constant readers will know that I talk about DID pretty extensively, especially if there is any good media about it. While this is simply a trailer, the video looks great, just like the website.

Does not center Whiteness
Just about every storied retelling of DID I have come across has a White person at the center. Sybil: White. Split: White. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: White. United States of Tara: White. Even when I look at documentaries about DID, they feature White people, always. Besides K-Dramas Heal Me/Kill Me and Hyde Jekyll, Me, everything stays very blanche neige. Even only super recently did I find a Black youtuber who talked about having DID, axolotls-in-a-trenchcoat.

In Alters, the lead is not White, but Latina. The alters don’t appear White. This is really great because not every person with DID is a White person. For example: I’m not White and I have DID. Severe and extensive long-term childhood trauma happens to way more than just to White people. Way, way more.

Well Researched/Well Done
The trailer doesn’t appear that they will rely on DID tropes but be more honest in its retelling. Basically, the creators did their homework, it seems. Usually, stories about DID sound very absurd and always forget that every person with DID all started out the same: with extensive childhood trauma. It appears the lead will be moreso humanized than anything – a person with DID who is simply just trying to get through life just like everyone else.

The website even has a fact sheet about DID. Also the writer for the script has DID herself so it really showed for great accuracy from a primary person’s perspective.

Why this trailer appears promising
Reminds me of another, creatively accurate telling of DID, short film called “Inside”, which I have also featured here. DID is not a hard disorder to display if you have enough actors on one hand (and a smart researcher in the other). Those with DID constantly say that their alters (short for “alternate identities” – not to be confused with “alter ego”, which is generally used by entertainers, not those with DID) are like separate people, complete with their own ideas, looks, thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. While this short film plays on the mental asylum trope (dark and spooky), the depiction of what it is like to have DID is pretty dead-on.

I really look forward to seeing the full film, which also will be featured here.

Abdullah X
To say that this is a constantly changing world is putting it lightly. In America, there are constant mass shootings, a numbnut in the White House (that’s working on getting himself impeached because a) he’s a numbnut and b) don’t take help from Russia to become an American president, we’ve got a long history together and it isn’t a fun one, so much going on. And super hard to keep the faith. Or at least keep the faith from getting twisted. America has a very, very long history in both Christian extremism (Timothy McVeigh, Ku Klux Klan) and the more displayed in media, Islamic extremism (Daesh/ISIS).

Religion extremism happens from a bevy of reasons – xenophobia, nationalism – but it basically is a power grab thinly veiled as “God told me to do this”. In pretty much every case of religious extremism, it’s usually a group of guys – or one guy – who thinks God wants them to murder everyone but deep down, that’s more of a phony front than anything. The Klan believes the bible doesn’t want Black people to exist (really, they just want to murder Black folks wantonly because they’re incurable terrorists fueled by racism). Daesh/ISIS wants the West to back off and spread Islam everywhere (really, they just want to do a power grab in an unstable political environment because they’ve murdered other Muslims by the payload, too). Sticking with both Christianity and Islam, there is nothing in either of these religious texts that say “murder everyone who disagrees with you”. Tons of stuff about accepting others, especially those who help others like doctors and teachers, but nothing about mass murder being a great PR move.

Zeroing in on young Muslims trying to navigate the world around them, it can be very tough. Everyone thinks you’re a terrorist. You start to become paranoid that FBI will eventually wiretap or even swarm your mosque. All this negative exposure, it leaves open the chance to be radicalized because fear makes people act in very surprising ways. This is literally how street gangs work and recruit: join us and get protection from them – or, better yet, make them pay.

This is bad news bears for so many reasons but Abdullah X breaks down radicalization for young Muslims and even tries to prevent it.

The video is really well animated and greatly done. I like how he takes the subject, it is definitely directed for young Muslim viewers. He doesn’t make his points boring, he gets to the point and is engaging. The videos serve as very good counterweight against radicalization. There also is a comic that you can download in the Apple store.

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All the questions for Ask Black Witch for September were all crappy so free space! And it’s a couple weeks late, boo. I will spend this time to talk about stuff I’ve been doing, up to Oct 1.

I was in a podcast recently, Feminist Killjoys, PhD. I talked about Paganism, mental health and more!

Update on my cat feeder project: Still working on the code so it won’t rapid-slap my cat and then go full on rebellion. The tech stuff is mainly done, I just have to code and then assemble the whole thing. The goal: Feed my cat a cup of food once a day…and my cat doesn’t destroy the machine. And the machine doesn’t rapid-slap me or my cat. This machine isn’t evil, just very rebellious. It wants to live with vigor. I need it to tone down the vigor.

For Oct 20-22, there will be the Dawtas of the Moon convention, in its second year. It’s hosted in Baltimore and I will be teaching a Cartomancy Workshop, teaching the ins and outs of cartomancy, playing card divination. Get your tickets!

This is going to be about suicide because I feel like talking about it and both the Black and Pagan community suck at discussing it. Simple as that.

Firstly, I’m not going to suggest National Suicide Prevention Hotline because they absolutely suck. I think I have called it only twice in my life and both times were pretty useless. The most recent time, a counselor started to be slightly combative saying “Oh, you can’t disturb the peace in myself. I am at peace with myself.” That’s nice, you’re a happy camper no matter who calls. If only I cared, the person who is not at a whole lot of peace with themselves. Unfortunately, Google and Facebook plasters them everywhere if you have “suicide” in your search term. (Unless you search for specific methods and avoid the word “suicide”, then you don’t see it at all). Thus I want to get this declaration out of the way. National Suicide Prevention Hotline does nothing to help those actually suffering from suicide. If anything, it’s just a fairly fleshed out dummy number for people who have never experienced suicidal ideation, feelings or attempts to rattle off to feel better about themselves. It’s also usually coupled with a “If you don’t want to talk to them, you can always talk to me” (which is usually a load of bs by itself, unfortunately).

Before we go further, also want to get out of the way the fact pro-suicide sites exist.

About pro-suicide sites: I’m not going to link them because while pro-suicide sites don’t bother me and, in my opinion, are better at being frank about suicide than anti-suicide sites (so frank that they have convinced people away from killing themselves), they are pro-suicide. They refer to folks who are anti-suicide as “happy shinies” (because they’re delusional in their thinking that “everything will be okie dokie if you just smile, do yoga and be happy!”) and I certainly can’t disagree with that because, hey, most people are scared of knowing someone who is suicidal so they think a pointless pep talk can make someone put the razor down. However, I am not going to just link to them because this is gonna be “do as I say, not as I do” moment. I dislike these moments and try to keep them as rare as possible but it’s happening today.

Alright then, moving along.

There’s no one reason why people attempt to kill themselves or successfully accomplish it. There’s heartbreak, bullying, general depression, financial strain, social isolation or combination. It’s really unfortunate but happens all the time. And some problems can simply not be fixed, no matter how empty or rehearsed the pep talk to a suicidal person gets.

Everyone has heard “try to pull through, it’ll get better” but that’s intensely hollow because it doesn’t provide even the slightest glimmer of a solution right now. The future looks far away and full of hurting so what’s the point of dragging yourself through all that…especially when there’s the chance that this feeling may be around for months or even years? And may never go away? Most people don’t know what to say to someone in emotional pain or crisis so they go for surface things like, “be happy” or “go pray” because getting into the murkier waters can be scary and are very, very not easy to fix at all. Someone wanting to kill themselves because they feel like an incessant failure is not going to magically perk up because you reminded them that a god existed. Actually, while we’re on the point of religion…

Never bring up religion to a suicidal person. If the suicidal person is very stressed and convinced of their method, they’re very much in a headspace where religion can’t reach them. No idea of an eye in the sky or an invisible friend is going to turn them around at that instance. You may hear the common, snarky rebuttal to “Oh, go talk to god”, which is: “I’ll be able to talk to god in person soon, if you’ll just go away.” In all the times that I’ve talked to someone who was genuinely depressed and considering suicide, I never would bring up religion, even if we were in the same religion. It’s because I know how it feels and if anything, it could stoke some latent anger (“If god/the gods is/are so all knowing, why do I have to go through what I’m going through? Why are they putting me through this? I’m not perfect but I try to be a good person”). That anger is not what the person in need needs. They’re just going to feel more abandoned and it’ll just plummet themselves down further. That and what if the thing weighing on them is a bad break up or, worse, money issues such as an eviction notice with only 5 days to remedy? Reference to religion just starts to sound deflecting from going at the real problem, as if the person talking to the troubled person reaaaaaally don’t want to acknowledge that some problems in the world are incredibly complex and need practical, real world solutions.

Actually, let’s talk about that for a bit: people who mean well but sincerely do not want anything to do with the existence of suicide, suicidal people and suicidal thought. Best explained in this article from Care For Your Mind and this article from Red Eye, even though people may spread numbers and links to suicide awareness hotlines (usually National Suicide, which, again, I would like to remind is not that good), it’s a very hollow act that serves the person spreading the link more than the person who should see it. A one sided feel-good act. If anything, this is a pretty detaching act to do, especially if the person feels alone or isolated. Because instead of the friend actually talking to the suicidal person about what is troubling them, all the suicidal person gets is a cold “here, call this number, I can’t be bothered with your issues” message. Even if the friend is just passing the number along because they honestly don’t know what to say but, truly, they know more of what to say than a random, poorly trained and burnt out volunteer on the phone. For starters, the friend actually knows the suicidal person, and therefore can pull from a bigger bank of information, which means better questions, avoiding emotional landmines, and getting trust and cooperation. A random from the Suicide Hotline can’t do that. What the friend could say would have more gravity to the suicidal person than a random person who may or may not really care. Basically, if you’re the type to say “talk to me if you’re suicidal”, back it up with some actual talk. No, it won’t be easy, glamorous or lovely. Hey, you may even have to spend the night with the person to make sure they won’t kill themselves. But it’s better than a cold shoulder after originally offering comfort and help.

It also does much better to help the suicidal person if they’re not called “selfish”. Actually, it’s usually others that drive people to that point, hardly narcissistic. Also, isn’t it even more selfish to want someone to live despite all their pain and suffering (that you’re not going through, especially not on their behalf). To just drag through what is senselessly hurting them and causing incredible pain because it might give you a sad. Oh, woe. Don’t just bother to help, just tell the person “Why don’t you think about me? Me and my feelings?” Look, once you pull yourself from the mirror, you should remember that there’s a person in need of help, not your selfish nonsense. Same with complaining, “Don’t take the coward’s way out.” Plenty people going through hardship killed themselves and they were pretty tough people, they just got tired of handling the weight of their issue by themselves. Anyone can carry a 3lb rock, but people eventually break if you saddle them with a 250lb boulder, regardless of their strength level. Even faster if you tell them, “It’s a three pound rock! Stop saying ‘it’s heavy!'”

For most people trying to kill themselves, just simply giving a sh*t is generally good enough. Most suicidal people think they’re a burden to others, that they’re not worth anyone’s time (part of why just haphazardly tossing a number to a suicide hotline that barely works can be a bad idea), that they’re a problem that needs to go away. They feel alone in their issues or like all they do is bother everyone, even when they try to do well and make all the right moves. Someone who actually knows them and actively tries to help them (not suggest religion, not suggest yoga, not suggest hobbies, actually sit on derriere and tries to help). It tends to do a lot more work than tossing a random phone number about.

However, some people who are suicidal are very invisible and isolated, they don’t have a network of people to talk to or even if they did, they feel that probably no one in that network would listen or even take their grave feelings seriously. Perhaps they’re getting tired of the “prayer” line. Maybe they’re part of a culture that internalizes prejudiced ideas about them and tries to pass it off as a positive. For example, if you’re Black and suicidal, you’re going to hear that Black folks are very strong and pretty much impervious to emotional pain…which stems from internalizing the centuries-old dehumanizing “animal/subhuman” stereotypes. That and you can go to church and pray away the pain and leave it all at the Cross. It all boils down to “Black people don’t commit suicide”. Which can be true, if you exclude Don Cornelius, Kayrn Washington, Lee Thompson Young, Phyllis Hyman, Jay Bowdy and countless, countless others. Actually, here’s a Think Progress article about the fact that suicide among Black youth is booming. Here’s another article from The Body is not an Apology. I guess Jesus and pretending nothing hurts aren’t really that effective. Feeling like it’s a must to suffer in silence or to just not even be noticed at all, it can be a terrible pressure that can lead to someone trying to kill themselves because no one who commits suicide really wants to die – they just really want to escape what’s hurting them and make things better somehow. For those who really just want to talk to someone that is actually going to chat with them and not judge them, there is the Crisis Text Line. It isn’t a physical person sitting there with you, but it is someone. It’s also free and quick to use. (It’s also faaaaaar better than National Suicide).

Now, some find comfort in their suicidal ideation, that they have a “way out” if everything really goes very south and with no avail. I think it’s a bit silly to think society can prevent suicide because the reasons of suicide is complex. If suicide were an easy subject, people wouldn’t wait for someone famous to kill themselves to talk about it for a few weeks before going back to ignoring its existence and shunning anyone who’s ever tried it. Some problems are simply too hard to fix or with very short time restrictions. Some people just have nagging thoughts that pester them that life isn’t worth living, regardless of achievements. It’s all very complex. Suicide is complex. And it’s never going away, but it can be alleviated in those who feel this way. But not always, which is just how life is.

This post is part of the Same Situations, Different Faces series. Normal posting resumes in April.

Alright, this is the last post of the Same Situations, Different Faces series. I thought of what would be a good or useful thing to talk about and it seems I’ve glossed over a topic that is pretty important: hospitalization. Your therapist can diagnose you with DID (or just being on the Dissociative spectrum (Dissociative Disorder, Dissocative Amnesia, Dissocative Identity Disorder, Dissociative Fugue)) but being at an actual trauma/dissocative disorders program is where you can really start to get properly diagnosed and treated with a specialized treatment plan. However, hospitals that are top in treating this are few. In the US, there is Sheppard Pratt’s Trauma Disorders program (Which is why it’s very weird Korean drama Heal Me, Kill Me very much did not mention it, but Hopkins instead, which is more for physical ailments.) If you want better than Sheppard Pratt, you’re going to have to go to the United Kingdom to the Clinc for Dissociative Studies. The US has good trauma disorders programs but dissociative spectrum disorders need a lot more attention than chucking pills at the problem. Medication is useful but treatment has to be therapy-heavy for these disorders, especially since there is no medication that can directly manage dissociative spectrum disorders, just the symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The UK tends to use therapy as the primary stop of mental care before going to meds, the US does the exact opposite.

Going to a hospital actually isn’t that scary. Some parts will definitely make you feel like you’ve very much have lost your mind – I think just the realization of being in an actual mental institution kinda does that all on its own – but really, most of your stay will be unbelieveably quiet and boring. It is nothing like Arkham Asylum, there are no strait jackets and most hospitals have phased out their padded rooms (there’s getting the spike and the safety burrito, now. I’ll cover those two later). Mental hospitals and psych wards (the psychological conditions ward of a regular hospital) tend to resemble incredibly quiet hospital waiting rooms with halls that are lined with doors to bedrooms. The windows are stronger than police riot shields and very soundproof, you can barely hear a thunderstorm.

Getting into a trauma program is pretty tough because of the history of sane people being sent to mental hospitals for terrible reasons with relative ease. You can’t pick up a phone, say “I’m like the dude from Split, please come get me,” and there you go. That would skip the mountains of paperwork that needs to be collected!

Before you go, it’s paperwork city. The first day is also paperwork city. In addition, you’re explained your rights, sort of tested to make sure you can understand that you have rights (or are simply cognizant that you’re in a hospital) and more paperwork. Depending on hospital or state, you will also be told the gun laws in your state…because awareness. Your vitals are taken (blood pressure, temperature, etc). If you don’t like needles, you are gonna hate having your blood taken. And the nursing staff will try to take it every day, which will make you think you’re surrounded by vampires. Oh, and the taking of your vitals daily, this is to ensure you’re actually taking your meds if you have any. You will also have to fill out a bunch of tests as well to see if you just have PTSD, if you’re on the dissociative spectrum or simply misdiagnosed. Here is a sample of what a Dissociative test looks like and no, you can not fake the answers to look less dissocative. I’ve tried. Besides, even if you successfully fooled the test, you’re under 24/7 observation. Someone will notice something.

Speaking of dealing with the staff during intake, your stuff is examined with more thoroughness than TSA. This is to make sure you’re not sneaking anything in that could be dangerous, counterproductive to treatment or harmful. If you bring body wash, it must be transparent, both gel and bottle. Otherwise, it’s getting seized because you can sneak stuff in it. If you have cleanser for your face, it’s getting seized because there is alcohol content in the ingredients. If you have a loofah, not a regular sponge, it will be taken because you can unravel it and attempt to hang yourself with it. Unfortunately, people have come up with some super creative ways to hurt themselves or try to kill themselves and that’s what implements changes in the rules. If you have wireless headphones, you can bring in music, as long as you have a super short cord (3″ or less) to charge them with, in view of staff. If your electrical devices can access internet and/or have a camera on them, it’s getting seized. This obviously means no cell phones. The reason is to protect everyone’s privacy. That and there’s a metric crap ton of triggering content on the internet…as well as distractions that could impede your focus on treatment, which is why you’re there. Should you bring books, they can not be of the horror or murder variety. If you bring comics, anything worse than Archie comics will most likely get taken. The nurses do look through the content to see what is in it, unless the title is a dead giveaway, like “Deadpool”. E-readers can not be brought in either unless they are the 1st gen “no access to internet whatsoever” kind. You will be living mainly as a Luddite, basically. A bored one at that. Your clothes will be checked and if there are any drawstrings, they’re gone. Shoelaces, gone. Heavy shoes or thick soled shoes (such as platforms), also gone. If you have any shirts or pants with religious, violent or disturbing art, it’s a no-go. For example, you can bring a Linkin Park shirt and, as long as the checking nurse doesn’t know LP’s songs that well (I love ’em but the song “Given Up” is distinctly about wanting to kill yourself) you can bring their albums but you can’t bring in P.O.D. anything because A) Religious iconography B) P.O.D. stands for “Payable on Death”, which is a banking term but the staff only cares about the “Death” part. I’m sure bringing any The Prodigy is fine (They are responsible for the title of this piece, after all. P.O.D. for the series’ name). Everything taken is securely bagged up and kept in Security until it’s time to leave for home. If you don’t have any sufficient clothes to wear, you’re given either hospital clothes (which is like a cross between paper and cloth) or “safety sweats”, which is just sweatpants and sweatshirt that have no drawstrings. And grippy socks that may or may not have do not have heels.

If you have natural hair, it would be best to get your hair into yarn twists or any other low/no maintenance hair styles if you have any forewarning because, frankly, nearly every black hair care product will not pass the list. Most of them aren’t clear liquids or in clear bottles. Hair picks are automatic no-go, even plastic ones. Satin bonnets and night caps are not likely either. You can probably talk your way into having a satin pillowcase but that probably will be it.

After getting through paperwork city, having your stuff checked and taking your test to see how dissocative you are, that’s when an individualized treatment plan is really hammered out. The meds, the group therapy sessions, triggers (potential and known), things like that. And this is where the boredom begins. The trauma disorder ward is immensely boring. Between groups, there are wide blankets of time where there is nothing to do. You can’t always have the tv in the general living area on, that’s strictly regulated. There are few board games and card games to pick because “safety is important”. If you can possibly choke on it, throw it or attempt to kill yourself with it, it can’t be in the ward. This means you’re stuck with puzzles and coloring books. Tons of them. If you want something of more intellectual stimulation, you’re going to be out of luck. There are books in the trauma disorders ward, but just like every psych ward, the books are completely snowstormed – White writers, White-led story and content. No diversity, nada. If you have a 1950’s housewife’s taste in books, you’ll be well suited. If you’re basically everyone else, you’ll be screwed. Few people donate books and games to mental hospitals so you get little selection. Perhaps you could bring a word search book or a crossword puzzle book. At least two of them.

When you’re in a trauma disorders program, it’s voluntary. That means you can go after a 72 hour hold. This is given that you’re not kicking up a major fuss or showing that you’re very, very unstable. (Sometimes, kicking up a major fuss can get you to go home faster but don’t count on it as the rule, just the exception). Two doctors have to sign your paperwork that says you’re mentally fit enough to leave and not have to be returned via police escort that very night, based on your past 72 hours. The only common exception is when your insurance finally craps out and you have to leave practically on that very day, regardless if you’re well or not. In voluntary, you can refuse meds you don’t want to take (given you’re relatively self-stabilized) and treatments you may not want (like electro-convulsive therapy). Basically, you’re fairly involved in your treatment experience. If you’re in a psych ward involuntarily, it means that you can’t refuse meds or treatments you don’t want to take and you’re more at the mercy of the psych staff. You stay as long as they think you need to stay and you hardly have a say. Basically, you don’t want involuntary because it is the “we’re bringing you in kicking and screaming”. It’s not common to be in the Trauma disorders program as an involuntary, however.

The various groups are therapy groups to teach you and the other patients about your recently diagnosed (or confirmed) disorder, the meds you might be using and methods to help manage it such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Here is a game created by Nicky Case that shows an example about this particular method, titled “Neurotic Neurons“. If you’re not a fan of group therapy, you’re not going to enjoy this. They’re usually quiet, few people want to talk (understandably) and you will sometimes get the sense that the interns, doctors or nurses are taking stabs in the dark about some parts of the disorders. It’s not that they don’t know what they’re talking about but they do sometimes give you a “learned about swimming from reading aplenty but never been in a pool” feel. And by “sometimes”, it will be “almost regularly”. Bringing a journal is strongly suggested because in group, you’ll have activities to do.

Speaking of dealing with doctors and nurses who may not have first hand experience with dissocative spectrum disorders, you’re going to have to advocate for yourself or they will get something wrong. Mistakes happen and constantly. Misunderstandings are regular, especially if you are not with a lot of social privileges and the staff is not very diverse. Since I’m Pagan, I’ve had to explain a host of times that don’t have schizophrenic or psychosis disorders simply because I believe in occultism, magick and spirits. It’s part of my religion. I’ve had to do the same about being Black and creative as well. Chances are your program was subconsciously designed for middle class White people who are usually hailing from Christian-leaning backgrounds. For example, the ward will have a priest and maybe a rabbi but no imam.The less known or more stigmatized your religion is to the Western world, the more likely it will be read as a psychosis disorder by the average mental health professional handling your chart. Hooray.

Now, I previously said that mental institutions have done away with strait jackets and padded rooms for the most part. If anything, you have complete freedom to be visited, use the phone (they have one for open use during the ward when groups are not happening) and even get care packages. It’s not a prison, frankly. However, if you start acting out, such as pulling the fire alarm, acting over belligerently, cause harm to yourself or another person, there are repercussions. The nurses will try to talk you down as much as possible, offer you meds, etc. If you’re not calming down, the nurses will eventually call for security, which is “code green” (think “hulk”) – actually, there are several color codes – and things are going to be a lot more complicated. There will be several security guards and they will also try to talk you down. If you’re not cooperating still, more doctors will also be called because they have to administer what is kind of known as “the spike” as the security restrains you. “The spike” is usually three needles but you only feel the first one. This cocktail is to calm you down and make you super sleepy, thus easier to be placed in “solitary”. Solitary is either an empty room with a mattress and pillow or a bed with four point restraints (to restrain your wrists and ankles), depending on hospital. Most folks don’t remember being placed on the four point bed after getting the spike, they just wake up there and staring at a host of doctors, nurses and security crowded around their bed asking them if they’re going to be more cooperative. If you’re not incredibly aggressive enough to warrant the spike, there’s the safety burrito! The safety burrito is two thick blankets laid out for you to be placed upon and swaddled firmly into a burrito. You’re usually in either the Solitary room or in your room. It can be comforting or depressing, depending on how much you think about all the things you have accomplished in life and how now you’re holed up in a mental institution laying on the floor or on a bed wrapped up in heavy blankets like a infant. It’s definitely better than getting the spike buuuuut it’s not a million times better.

I mentioned that there are color codes these hospitals. The color codes are:

Code Green – Aggressive patient, need security
Code Green, All Male – Aggressive patient that is too violent for regular orderlies, need stronger people (yes, this is a pretty sexist name for a code that basically means “Please come if you’re really strong”)
Code Silver – Patient has a weapon (regardless of the weapon. The patient could be wielding blue, bamboo knitting needles, it’s still “code silver”)
Code Blue – Physcian needed, patient is going through severe physical ailment episode
Code Red – Fire

Now, hearing all this, again, I want to reiterate that mental hospitals are not like Arkham Asylum. It’s not very common for people to get to the point of getting the spike or get into a safety burrito. It definitely does happen, it certainly is not rare but it’s not a wild house where everything and anything happens. If it is like that, try to find the patient advocate and get out.

Lastly, being at a trauma ward will be expensive so if you weren’t a fan of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA, Obamacare) then, you will be when you find the bill for a three week stay is over $27,000. And the suggested stay time is six weeks. The ACA is how I actually have never seen the bill. Speaking of insurance, you should read the fine print of your insurance to see if it accepts milieu care/milieu therapy (basically, you’re housed in a supervised, dorm-like atmosphere) because that is what your experience will be. If you have medicare, it’s automatically covered. Otherwise, your healthcare provider will try to weasel out of paying that hefty bill or cut your stay really short. Or both. Because American healthcare.

In short, being hospitalized is definitely no vacation. It’s strictly for treatment and that’s what your experience will be geared towards. It isn’t a halloween terror ride, either. Trauma wards take great pains to make sure you don’t have additional trauma. It isn’t perfect but it’s certainly not 100% like the movies. It’s much more boring.

This finishes the Same Situtation, Different Faces series. This last piece was surprisingly tough to write and make sense of so if there is any need of clarification or just plain questions, please feel free to say something.

This post is written by The Aether System as part of the Same Situation, Different Faces series. Normal Black Witch posting resumes in April.

Although having Dissociative Identity Disorder is not nearly as scary as the media and recent movies make it look, it is still a very difficult disorder to live with. Facing troubles with a cynical view can make things much harder on yourself, so having a way to laugh despite the troubles you face can make a huge difference. Therefore, starting a meme page for those who have D.I.D., or want to learn about it seemed like it would be helpful to the mental health community. “DID I meme that?” is on most forms of social media, so it is accessible to almost everyone.

Ever since the movie Split came out, the amount of people interested in D.I.D. has spiked considerably. However, this can actually be a good thing, since it provides more opportunities to educate the public on what this disorder is and is not. This is another situation where the memes come in handy. Rather than seeing a bunch of people with mirrored selfies and fun filters in the tags associated with D.I.D. and Split, it seemed better for the viewers to see accurate, yet comedic representations of this disorder, created by people who actually have it . Not everyone as the time and willpower to read an article, but almost everyone has the time to scroll through a few memes.

Words can only go so far when it comes to describing feelings and experiences, so sometimes a picture is a more effective description than words. Pictures can also be easier for people to process, rather than paragraphs, particularly to those who have difficulty when it comes to reading.

A lot of the terms included in these memes use the vocabulary of the D.I.D. community, such as “Littles” (young alters), “Protectors” (alters whose job it is to protect the host), and much more. The creators of these memes use this vocabulary so the memes feel more genuine and personalized to the audience they are aimed towards. Another part of the meme creation process is deciding what captions to use. When it comes to D.I.D., it can be difficult to know what type of alters will be viewing the memes at any given time. That is why we aim to keep the language closer towards PG-13, in case there are any younger ones browsing the memes.

Although “DID I meme that?” is only a couple of months old, it has received a lot of response on many social media platforms, particularly Tumblr and Facebook. There have been questions of what living with this disorder is like, suggestions for memes, and many other people with D.I.D. who share the memes while tagging them as “relatable”. It can be very hard to find relatable mental health memes, particularly when it comes to the more rare disorders, so finding a page full of memes from real people with these disorders can be very refreshing. One of the comments received on the Instagram page expressed surprise when the user found out that the page was run by someone who actually had D.I.D., and they were glad to finally find memes that really expressed the experience of D.I.D. with accuracy.

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