Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm done

I've beat around the proverbial bush for years on this blog. More precisely, I've hidden behind a bush, a bush called "shame." Here's what I haven't said, and am saying now: I am a person who has been "diagnosed" with a number of so-called psychiatric "illnesses." Here they are in all their glory: Major Depressive Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder Type II, Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Affect, Dissociative Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm probably leaving something out.

On top of these diagnoses, it has been suggested to me that I have Attention Deficit Disorder.
Me? I can spend an entire day paying attention without wavering. Oh, but wait! That proves I am overcompensating for a problem with attention. My deficit has created a need to be involved with things that require attention to detail such as tattooing and lace making.

This reminds me of when I was in the 7th grade and my English teacher thought I was mentally retarded because I was reading books that she could not understand. I "obviously" could not tell the difference between an easy and a hard book. I was forced to take a standardized test, and well, the results were that I had a reading comprehension of a college graduate. So much for the label of mental retardation (which is now called Intellectual and Developmental Disability).

It has also been suggested that I have Asperger's Syndrome because of my past history of reading said "hard books," especially when they were technical or scientific (because surely no one who doesn't specialize in such areas would read said books), and because I have had social difficulties and the aforementioned interest in detail oriented activities.

I had written previously about the idea of having Gravitational Insecurity.

Perhaps I do not have anything.

Perhaps I am simply a human being, who, like all human beings, has some problems and flaws. Perhaps I have a few more of these than the "average" American. Perhaps I do not, and am simply sensitive. I've certainly been accused of being over-sensitive. Then again, I've also been accused of being under-sensitive "for a woman", because I'm not fond of those long hand wringing conversations that girlfriends seem to like to engage in, and because I have strong opinions that I express freely. These factors have also contributed to the possibility that I have Asperberger's Syndrome, because my propensity for speaking up even though I am soft-spoken "proves" that I have a deficit in social skills (again, only because I am a woman - men can have voice strong opinions freely).

Not socializing "properly" means one must have something.

Perhaps being brought up by artists, and being trained to be an artist may have more to do with my not fitting into this society than any diagnosis I can think of. The fact that I have not negotiated being a financially successful artist is not proof positive that I am so very, very sick, is it?

Some of the worst artists I know have been the most successful. The reason for this is that they were primarily entrepreneurs. In a society that knows little about art, this makes sense. Tell folks you have a good product, and they will believe you.

I was not trained to be a business person. I was brought up by people who made art, read philosophy, and didn't fit into society neatly themselves. I watched them suffer, and learned suffering is the plight of the artist in society. This has pretty much always been true in Western culture.

Then I (and the rest of the world) read Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac (now renamed Listening To Prozac: The Landmark Book about the Remaking of the Self),and started to question this notion. Thank you very much, Mr. Kramer, for leading me down the path to true misery. 

I was much better off when I thought suffering was not optional.
Buddhism tells us that life is indeed suffering, and that we have the tools to transcend our suffering. This doesn't mean that we will not suffer some. In our can't-stand-it society, where we believe that everything can be fixed, that happiness is our right, and success is possible for everyone if they just work at it (since we were all born "equal"), what explanation is offered to those who can't compete fast and hard, and with enthusiasm? The answer: We are sick. 
I reject this. Sure, I've been brainwashed enough to have trouble with the idea, and I have preferred to think I have some syndrome or disease that explains the problems I've had in this lifetime. But, in the end, all these so-called diagnoses have served to only tell me this: that I'm a disabled, disempowered failure in my capitalist society. I'm done.

If you think I sound manic or crazy, that is your right. This kind of crazy is fine with me, and does you no harm, except to perhaps challenge your belief that you too are a sick person in need of fixing in order to assimilate into the dominant culture. 

Big Important Addendum: I know that some people reading this will be offended, for having a diagnosis is a way of understanding the troubles one has in one's life. It also helps to have a support network of other people with the same diagnosis to relate to and discuss strategies for coping. In truth, I do not doubt that there are indeed legitimate diagnoses. I believe there is plenty of scientific proof that autism and schizophrenia are legitimate illnesses. As to the rest of them, I have my doubts, but I am not a scientist, as I have already pointed out, and I do not claim any special knowledge except this: I am my own best expert on my self.  So, I do respect your own assessment of your self, and whatever works for you is fine with me. My caveat is this: Is your assessment empowering or disempowering? Please think about it.


Fabianna said...

You are on a roll! I love it! Whether or not you have all those disorders is irrelevant. Expressing yourself is a way to discard the negative and empower oneself.

Julie H. Rose said...

I'm REALLY glad you love it, Fabianna. Not everyone is getting this, or thinks it's positive.

Dick Fischbeck said...

Today, serious heresy, and rather peculiarly in the United States, is a deviant state of consciousness. Not so much deviant opinions as having a kind of experience which is different from "regular" experience. And as Ronald Lang..has so well pointed out, we are taught what experiences are permissable in the same way we are taught what gestures, what manners, what behavior is permissable and socially acceptable. And therefore, if a person has so-called "strange" experiences, and endeavors to communicate these experiences, because naturally one talks about what one feels, and endeavors to communicate these experiences to other people, he is looked at in a very odd way and asked "are you feeling all right?" Because people feel distinctly uncomfortable when the realize they are in the presence of someone who is experiencing the world in a rather different way from themselves. They call in question as to whether this person is indeed human. They look like a human being but because the state of experience is so different you wonder whether they really are. - AW

Julie H. Rose said...

Who's AW?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Julie!