I've stopped keeping it, partially because blogging is kind of silly. But more importantly, because I wish to put some distance between myself and my struggles with the psychiatric machine in late '03 and the first half '04. Unfortunately, there's stigma and discrimination associated with having been institutionalized for any reason. So though I speak openly about my experiences, I don't need *everyone* I meet to start our conversation with "so tell me about the nut house". I'd also prefer to separate these matters from my professional life to the extent that is possible (while still publishing my findings freely, here and in press articles).
For those who want an aerial view, I'll make a long story short:
Inexplicable shifts of perception (later identified as a chemical imbalance) led me to behave really oddly, and my neighbors were rightfully concerned so they called 911. I went cooperatively in an ambulance, but where I ended up didn't resemble a hospital. Thinking of myself as a patient and not a prisoner, I did not know that locking someone up in a creepy room and refusing to talk to them is standard practice. The rights you have in this nebulous state of "mental evaluation" aren't something we're taught in high school civics, and they won't explain it to you (they are busy, and will tell you so). Repeatedly insisting to speak to whoever-answers-the-intercom's-manager isn't just going to get ignored, it gets you tied down.
Perhaps a reasonable person would quietly ask "pardon me, when will I be seen"? and wait indefinitely when they said: "when we get to you"--but brain disorders like mania aren't associated with patience. And I challenge anyone to not freak out when silent people (who obviously dislike you) lock you in increasing restraints and chain you to a wall in some windowless room. I also question the practice of choosing to make intercoms beep a la Chinese Water torture when someone is stuck in this state. But anyhow, after some hours of this and a minor stroke or two, the evaluation period was up and they let me go. I walked (ran) out the door with a prescription for a batch of pills (which cost in excess of $300/mo), which they pronounced I'd need to take for the rest of my life.
I'd have been better off checking into Shady Palms and taking the tranquilizers for a few weeks, so I could calmly fill out a complaint form regarding the two-thousand-dollar medical bill. Instead I went pretty much ballistic, and the value of any specific personal relationship came to seem irrelevant when no one would confront the hospital, or me. Unfortunately my condition was going untreated during this time, and whether you are sympathetic or think I got what I deserved depends on a number of factors. The behavior of those in power takes on an aspect of sinister cruelty when you view it as the treatment of a person with a disability. I don't see it all like that, so I cut a lot of slack for reactions to my more incomprehensible activities, though even in that context there's a lot to account for.
Where this stands these days is that The Establishment has set me up with a decent drug that has pretty much taken care of my symptoms. They've dropped charges against me--which is good--but also means there won't be any forum for my complaints unless I choose to sue someone (which I've been taunted to try doing if I feel so inclined). Yet it's nearly impossible to attack an intertwined government system that has its own "internal justice" and won't put anything in writing without a court order...it's kind of like Jack Nicholson's speech from A Few Good Men. The relativists, including extremely well-meaning ones who work from within the system, say: "Count your blessings, Mr. I-Didn't-Die-In-A-Tsunami. In the end, you got the medical intervention you needed. As for criticisms of the process, why don't you put together a made-for-TV-movie or something?"
I might. In the meantime, don't think I'm somehow defined as a person by wanton challenges to authority. I also wantonly challenge subservience. Plus, I'm kind of funny, a passable artist, and am (obviously) willing to put my cajones on the line for any perceived furtherment of mankind. I have one or two other talents, and an otherwise productive life. For that matter, the potential impact I have to make by spreading this information could far outweigh any other achievements I have to point to. Time will tell.