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Psychiatric Diagnoses are not voodoo

The Hazards of Psychiatric Diagnosis

Read the whole thing if you want to understand my rage. Here’s the paragraph that made me stabby:

Medical diagnoses are real. When you learn you have pneumonia, diabetes or even cancer, you quickly discover that there are potential remedies. There are scientific tests and studies to diagnose the disease and to evaluate its treatment. Medical diagnoses don’t demean your mind and your soul, they describe your bodily impairments.

1) His complaint that there are no positive psychiatric diagnoses. May I ask when the last time someone was diagnosed with a most excellent spleen? People usually go to doctors because they have a perceived lower quality of life, not for validation. They get diagnosed when the doctor sees something wrong. Or are people rampantly being diagnosed with good cholesterol and no one’s telling me?

2) A diagnosis gives you something positive in that it allows you to work towards a specific goal. “I have ADD, therefore I need to take particular care to learn patience and find ways of learning that are hands on and interesting.” Instead of being like oh my life sucks and there’s nothing I can do about it you can instead be like, hey here’s what’s been wrong with me all this time and there’s something I can do about it.

3) If someone’s life sucks and getting a diagnosis is going to get them medication that will make it suck less, that’s a positive. Not everyone can look at life with sunshine and roses and hugs in their hearts, and it’s absolutely shitty of that guy to imply that people’s real problem is that they’re just not trying hard enough to face life with warm fuzzies and empathy.

4) By his definition, all drugs are toxins because the point of a drug is to try to chemically alter the body to improve symptoms. Damn those asthmatics and their toxic inhalers, how dare they want to live. Damn those depressives with their anti-depressants, how dare they want to stop being suicidal. How dare anyone take any of that voodoo medication that’s been carefully studied in clinical trials to help the symptoms these people have? Everyone knows if you treat a headache, all you are is that symptom, not some sort of human being who had a headache that needed some ibuprofen.

5) He’s just furthering the bullshit argument that psychiatric problems aren’t as “real” as other health problems. His worry that someone might be one-dimensionalized by a diagnosis is because people like him keep saying that the only important thing about a person who has been diagnosed bipolar is that they’re bipolar. As though getting a mental condition under control is going to make someone less able to live normally because they have to recognize they have issues. Yes, let’s let all the schizophrenics and autistic kids have terrible lives, but at least no one will call them schizophrenic or autistic.

6) Just to be clear, fuck that guy.

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5 random things I’ve been thinking about

1. Toilet seat sheets.  If you’re too grossed out to sit on the toilet, is a sheet really going to make it better?

The show I’m working on, these two women who were otherwise not like high maintenance said they would never use a toilet that wasn’t their own without a toilet sheet.  What?  Seriously?  Was I raised by weirdos because they never said don’t put your butt on the toilet?

2. Ableism and online dating.  Particularly in the mental health department, but also in general.

Now I appreciate that online dating attracts a somewhat skewed group that has the semi-anonymity of the internet to make unusual demands, but I have seen so so many guys profiles where they say they don’t want to date “anyone who’s ever been on anti-depressants” or “I don’t want to date anyone who has had any health problems”.  These are not necessarily guys who, in my opinion, have girls knocking down their door and they’re just trying to filter out some people by being picky.  And I realize we’ve all got things where we aren’t able to have a nuanced viewpoint, but here are guys lumping in people with asthma with people with cancer, or people with well-treated depression with untreated schizophrenics.  I get how taking on a significant other with terminal cancer or an untreated illness might be difficult, but are we going to scratch out every one with a health quirk?

At first I thought, oh it’s just this one guy who had a bad experience, but I’ve seen it so many times I just don’t know what to think.  Is it really that awful to date someone who at some point in their life was depressed or has some other chronic illness that’s well under control?

3. Also related to online dating, why do guys who are super Christian message me advertising their good Christian morals when I state that I am an atheist?  I mean, I know why, they don’t read, but I mean really.

4. Equating religion with race.  There’s a super long thread over at Pharyngula where people are accusing PZ of being a Nazi for posting a picture that a cartoonist drew of Muhammed because there are people in Europe who are racist against Muslim immigrants.  I’m just not sure “racist” is the right word.  “Religionist” maybe?  Anyway, critiquing a religion isn’t a violent act, no matter how crudely done, and I don’t understand how blasphemy is racist.

5. How difficult or impossible it is for the religious to understand that there is value and meaning to life regardless of whether there is an afterlife.

Useful Links:

Dirty Toilets

PZ

Sully on Tragic Atheism

The most horrifying thing ever:

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Hollywood: Not for the weak

I very rarely get into anything particularly personal on this blog.  One, because it’s public, and two, because it rarely seems relevant to my career, which is the focus here.  But sometimes the personal and the public are a bit intermixed, and that’s what I want to talk about.  My health versus my career.

I have for the last few months been really struggling with extreme fatigue, dizziness and nausea.  This isn’t totally out of the norm for me, I have several chronic conditions which often take the wind out of my sails: allergies, asthma, depression and hypothyroidism.  Any of those on their own is usually manageable, but they pack a bit of a wallop all together.  On top of this, I’ve been to the doctor a half-dozen times since this started and they’ve tested for everything they can think of and they can’t find anything wrong.

This last week has been totally lost.  I was so fatigued that I cannot actually remember most of it.  It is extremely frustrating.  I manage to go to work which fortunately is a very low energy sort of job, but I struggle even there.  I haven’t managed to do much editing because I stare at the project and get overwhelmingly tired or motion sick.  I basically come home and lay down.  Last night I went to bed at 10pm and got up today at 1pm; it’s not yet seven and I am barely awake.  Obviously it is quite difficult to be productive, in writing or in anything else, when you’re that exhausted.

Film and TV are not careers for people with low energy.  If your personality doesn’t naturally exude the sense that you’re on speed, it’s a really tough business to be in.  It is probably a miracle that I got through the two years of film school with as little collateral damage as I did — one broken bone, one major case of bronchitis, three total emotional breakdowns, and three months of vomiting for unknown reasons that led to my current state as a vegetarian.

I could imagine nothing worse than letting my health dictate what it was I could and could not do with my life.  But sometimes, especially after weeks like this, it’s very difficult to believe that it’s not going to do just that.  Sometimes it’s hard not to go to the dark place and wallow in self-pity.  Hard to remember that this is just my struggle, and, though it’s different for each of us, it’s never easy.  I want to be able to offer advice to others, to make it and say, “See, my health didn’t stop me, and it won’t stop you!”  But all I know is that right now it’s really hard and sometimes fighting to survive in the film business just sucks.

But here is something nice, from a fellow writer at myothercareer.wordpress.com

Life in LA; It’s the Economy Stupid

Sorry I’ve been quiet a while, crazy couple of weeks. I went to SC this weekend. I’m trying to put together a budget and business proposal for Bible Con, with plans to shoot it in SC. I think it can be done on a low enough budget that raising the money myself is feasible. I don’t know that I’ve described the story here, so have my logline:

Bible Con — Comic Con for Christians — goes straight to hell when Jesus and Mary Magdalene fall in love, the keynote speaker turns out to be an atheist, and the event is besieged by DaVinci Code fans.

It’s Best in Show meets The Life of Brian.

Nicholl Semi-Finalist, Movie Script Contest Finalist

I’m trying to do a rewrite now, but the drama in my life is making it difficult to concentrate on. I know too many unemployed people is basically what the deal is. One of my roommates is having to give up on LA and drive back home, selling all of her possessions to afford the trip. My other roommate is also unemployed, but theoretically has something coming up. Obviously, not a happy situation. And my closest friends can’t find jobs either.

And as much as I hate logging, and as much as it doesn’t pay me enough to live off of, I guess at least it’s something. Admittedly, the idea of getting my own project off the ground is probably all that’s standing between me and the cratering depression my current economic state brings on.

I’ve gotten a couple more requests that I haven’t kept up on posting. Maybe I’ll do that at some point.