Thursday, April 09, 2009

Confrontation....of Reality

Library 911

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.’
Henry David Thoreau

On 9/11, 2007 the following took place at the Library, Main Branch.
An off duty employee came into the library to alert the staff that a psychiatrized woman had left a message on his voice mail stating that she was coming in to see him about his talking about her.
He was, therefore, there to ‘talk about her,’ to the rest of the staff.
(Notice how we are now fully prepared for this woman’s entrance into the state of dysfunctional Zen. All she has to do now is follow through in yet another attempt to stop him (and ‘them’) for it to play out in the way which is quite predictable. This is the sort of thing some of the locals think of as my ‘psychic ability’, which is really my ability to extrapolate from known variables of something I have already experienced for myself)
No matter what she does now though, she won’t be able to stop the community which is talking about her, and they will all likely keep right on talking about her whether she confronts any of them or not.
Do you know why?
They deny they are the ones doing what they do while they are doing it. If she peaks up, (especially if she does so in a noisy way) she will be blamed for being aggressive. If, on the other hand, she doesn’t say anything, then she will still be blamed for not speaking up for herself (weakness) and therefore ‘deserving’ just what she is getting. Either way, she gets to e ‘defective’ and they get off the hook, for ‘talking about her, even though that is what they are doing.

So, as I sat there listening to the staff nervously laughing amongst themselves and making comments, the door opened and in marched Mrs. Gatling. (As I call her since I don’t know her name.) Mrs. G. performed her daily public diatribe abut the very REAL psychological position she is in and how she is being hurt by others. Since she’s not sure who is who (as is the case in my own experience) she tells people off for it at random. I have actually been on the receiving end of a barrage or two of hers myself. I also suspect that Mrs. Gatling here may be getting some of the abuse intended for me and vice versa since I have told people that “I am their teacher in this” and not the one who doesn’t understand. Also she and I are about the same age and the effort to find out who the ‘patient’ is who talks about how it is all over The city is an ongoing effort.

I have been referred to as ‘a really scraggy old lady' by students calling me by full name without actually knowing who I am. Perhaps they don’t understand that although I am on the receiving end of pretty much the same thing as this woman, I have opted to express my own anger and frustration through my ‘writing behaviours.’ I think I could actually help Mrs. Gatling if she would just lower her verbal weapon for a minute and I could just get near her. She did say to me one day, “Thanks for seeing me.” (If she talks calmly to me, I ‘see’ her)
Having been in her position (which I am still locked into almost fifteen years later too) I know how she feels; bewildered by the ongoing daily community abuse, her inability to separate the meaning which lies behind all those little smiles (which LOOK the same no matter what the ‘smiler’ believes is HER experience of reality, her fear as she can’t get out or make it stop, her near total psychological isolation, her sense of total disconnect from concrete reality and her need to defend herself against a psychological/emotional assault performed by a mob, many of whom do not even know her.

Now, I’ll grant you her coping skills under pressure are pretty shaky to say the least, but then these ‘smilers’ don’t understand the pressure she is under is all too real and they are creating even more of it by behaving the way they are. They are not even close to seeing this from her point of view as the psychiatrized individual because they are busy being the members of a city wide group observing and commenting on the mind, feelings and experience of the individual while considering themselves to be APART from her experience and a mystery to HER.

Let’s go back now to Mrs. G.’s entrance into the scene.
As she came in the front door, all staff’s eyes turned to her (as well as many of the patrons) and one of the staff members announced her entrance: “there she is.”
(How many times have I heard the same words as I have entered one of these community scenes myself?)
She came through the gate already talking angrily to herself, her eyes either darting around looking at those looking at her, or else focused downwards as she looked for ‘him.’ Her face a mask of distress, she marched towards the back of the library determined to put a stop to the nonsense. (I think she went downstairs too looking for him but did not fin him as he had already left the building. I also think I hear one of then call for ‘help.’ I wondered if the irony of the date would strike her as funny at some point of if it would just scare her more. ) As she passed through on this mission of self defense, amused eyes and little smirks appeared on a collection of faces. On her way back up and out, she passed by the two front desks and commented loudly; ‘
Just look at all of you! – all smiling as though you found all of this amusing...”
(A staff member said, “Am I smiling?” which just makes it worse)
She then walked the rest of the way to the front door where she stopped and turned to face her ridiculers:
He is telling people I am a paranoid schizophrenic! Do you know what this has done to my life? You people in [this city] should all be ashamed of yourselves!”
The distress and fear on her face was unmistakable. She looked just like she felt, backed into a corner and with no way out. She had also recently been asked to move out of the housing unit where she was living with subsidized rent. I am sure she is now living in more extreme poverty and likely in a cheap apartment somewhere like my last one with students, and drunks, and perhaps another psychiatrized person or two, and the working poor. This is someplace where she is more likely to be harassed than where she was, although some of these elderly people can give the student mockers a run for their money. This also means her stress level is on the increase. As Mrs. Gatling’s speech ended, the woman sitting next to me smiled with amusement (which I of course now understand as a psychiatrized person myself is not “really’ there) and said, “Well, I guess we can consider ourselves told off can’t we?” (smiles) “Honestly,’ she went on, ‘
Some people.’

“Actually,’ I told her, “
I agree with most of what she has to say. I just think the way she is doing it is only going to cause her more problems.”
The woman looked at me with a sort of blank face. I had failed to bond with the normal deluded and seemed to have had, halfway at least, sided with the labeled deluded. As they said at the bus stop of me last week, “Well, you never know do you?”

Now let me speculate a little bit abut what Mrs. Gatling is doing and experiencing from HER point of view. I am pretty sure her experience of public mocking and ridiculing must be similar to my own, even if I got the more powerful label for daring to talk about it, and even though I did not employ the Gatling defense myself.

Every day for her since her psychiatrization is likely a run through the community abuse gauntlet. Her telling people off doesn’t help the situation any though, especially since she is no longer sure who to tell off and who is innocent so she engages in her verbal machine gunning defense. This tactic of hers makes the people who do this even worse because she provides them with an excuse for their mocking. Of course, in reality, there IS no excuse for their mocking no matter how SHE behaves and if they did not indulge themselves in such childish behaviour; it would go far to change her behaviour as well since she would not need to feel the need to defend herself against impossible odds all the time. Their laughing at and mocking someone who is in such clearly expressed emotional distress is abut their OWN psychological problems; not HERS.
I think the chances are good that the library employee DOES discuss her ‘mental illness’ with others, since I have heard them doing this while there as a patron. He may or may not have given her ‘diagnosis’, whether real or invented, to others. If so, she is suffering more in this community as a direct result of that and because if she ‘claims’ people do this, it will only reinforce the idea of inherent ‘madness’ for others since ‘claiming’ this occurs is considered to be one of the ‘signs’ that it is the perception/reaction problem of the psychiatrized one. All other psychiatrized people suffer the same sort of community abuse as this woman as a direct result of their diagnoses, or even the suggestion that the individual should have such a label applied to him/her. I also have suffered with this community abuse and denying this is not going to make it any less true for me or anyone else who has, or is destined to be, put through it in the name of ‘help.’

I would bet that she has heard this over and over again throughout the community as I have in my own case. It is not a ‘sign’ of anything other than what it is; which is the way people behave when they act in groups. I have personally witnessed groups of young ones and the addicts mocking her openly in the town square and then she fights back with her usual Gatling style which only makes the town morons goad her some more. She may be getting this thirty to fifty times per day. What do you imagine that does to someone who has been forced into emotional/psychological isolation with the stroke of a pen? What do you imagine it does to someone who was already perhaps hanging by a thread psychologically BEFORE she got the label which now defines her? Use your heads for something besides hanging hats on.

She has probably had this diagnosis announced to her by many and often followed with that arrogant little laugh of those who are sure this could not be them, could never happen to them and also that this person they mock really doesn’t have a clue what is going on around her anyway, so that excuses the mockers. This is despite the fact that she states she knows in perfectly clear language. It is the smiles and laughter which causes her rage, pain and fear to increase, which in turn cause her so called ‘symptoms’ to grow worse. This is not an ‘illness’ lived in containment. It is an ‘illness’ lived out in society, BY society as a whole. She may even have heard it announced to her that this guy at the Library is the one who told some jackass on the street that she is a paranoid schizophrenic. It may be true that he WAS told that or it may be his own invention but so what? The result to this woman is going to be the same no matter what she can ‘prove’ to be true or what she can’t.

This ‘illness’ is made ‘incurable’ because those who decide there is an illness to ‘cure’ have proclaimed it to be so and the ‘symptoms’ include telling the truth about how one is treated in a community after being labeled with one and also trying to tell psychiatrists I am not ‘sick’ (in the sense that there is something wrong with one’s brain that makes us ‘think’ other human beings behave this way when “really,’ they don’t. For if people did treat us that way, like mocking and ridiculing someone was a spectator sport, or for the entertainment of it, that would not be reasonable. I have asked you who are always assessing others at the Psychiatric Hospital this question before as we all know.

What planet have you people been living on?

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