Friday, January 31, 2014

Tales from the schizophrenia ward - Part V: Therapy?

Anyone who voluntarily enters inpatient life goes into a clinic with the expectation that he will receive help with his/her mental issues through therapy. Some of the veterans might go only for changing their medication, but to those who are new to the routine, medication is either perceived as a necessary crutch to support actual therapy, or entirely unnecessary while therapy does the actual work. Well, I can only speak from my experience, and from the experience of the many people I have met during my three tenures as an inpatient, but frankly, therapy is a load of crap.

First off, you know how politicians always whine about how the government is out of money? Yeah, that's when they privatise government-run institutions. That is what happened to mental hospitals all over Germany, and probably most other countries in the western world. And once they're private businesses, it's all about economics, which translates to firing just about anyone but a skeleton crew. I have spoken to people who are a few years older than me who have been to mental hospitals prior to privatisation, and they told me they had a jam-packed daily schedule of various therapies. After privatisation? Well, read the first part of this series (incidentally the first post in this blog, easy to find), and if you decide to go inpatient, prepare for eight to ten hours a day of smoking cigarettes, because thanks to economics, clinics are now very spartan when it comes to giving patients something to do.

And that is just the quantity. When it comes to quality, things get even more dire. There were two branches of therapies, one branch was therapies offered inside the ward by members of the staff, the other was therapies outside the wards in buildings specifically hosting these therapies, offered by staff wo were paid just for doing these therapy programs and nothing else.

Of the first branch, there were psychoeducation, metacognitive training (MCT) and integrated psychological training (IPT). The theory behind these is to educate you about your illness and thereby better help you manage it. In practice, and anyone who has been through any of those three can confirm it, all three are a complete waste of time. Psychoeducation tries to explain what is causing your illness (they don't really know) and how the medications they give you alleviate the symptoms, but you can tell half of it is guesswork because science just hasn't made it that far yet, and it doesn't help that they stretch material anyone of average intelligence can learn in 20 minutes over seven units that are one hour each. Metacognitive training attempts to teach you that your perception can deceive you if you don't know the whole story. Yeah, really. How that isn't obvious to everyone is beyond me, but again they stretch it out over weeks in hourly segments repeating the same idea over and over again. Finally, in IPT we played some word games and a board game, neither of which seemed to serve any purpose. I usually understand the intended purpose of therapies in principle even if I do not think they are very useful in practice, but IPT honestly just seemed like a way to kill time.

The second branch, by comparison, seems a little more like some sort of effort was put into giving the patients something to do other than sitting on a chair looking at spreadsheets. I did music therapy for two hourly sessions twice a week, which was a small handful of patients jamming on instruments with the music therapist. Fun, but not much more. Supposed to improve group interaction or something, but no one really listens to what anyone else is playing. I also did a drumming group twice weekly, which was a group of people with congas (African drums) sitting in a circle playing the same simple rhythms every single time. That one wasn't even fun.

The four main therapies you had to pick one from were painting, dance and theater, gardening, and animal husbandry. Painting was exactly how you imagine it, a bunch of people painting pictures. There were three different groups with different therapists, one of them more by-the-book painting by rules, the other more free-form, the third one I don't know. I was at the more free-form group two or three times and the atmosphere was very awkward, people were just doing their stuff and there didn't seem to be a point to any of it except keep people busy. Dance and theater I did not attend, but it was the most popular therapy in the clinic, so I heard a lot about it. Apparently they did half an hour of aerobics, then did improvisational theater. I do sort of see what they are aiming for with this, aerobics, like any physical exercise, has been known to be beneficial for people's mental health, and I guess with the theater they are supposed to train their interpersonal skills, or something? Seems like one of the more decent ideas there, but it wasn't compatible with my social anxiety so I never tried it out.

Gardening was what you imagine, taking care of the plant life around the huge clinic grounds. You even got paid for it, €1.50 an hour, €3 per unit - there were two units a day, but I only took the afternoon one because in the mornings I did music therapy and drumming. Since I was there in winter there was no actual gardening to be done, so I got to rake leaves every day. Fun. Guess this therapy is supposed to simulate a work environment. I just went because of the €3 and because the ward staff badgered me to pick a therapy (or else), and it seemed like the least stupid one. Animal husbandry was the same as gardening, except with animals rather than plants, also with the pay. I didn't take it because I thought it would be mostly scooping poop, but in hindsight I'd rather do that than rake leaves.

What the four have in common is that they are about as mentally challenging as an Adam Sandler movie, which is why I hated the two of the big ones I tried, the two minor ones, despite being music-related, and most certainly the ones offered at the ward. And none of them provide any therapeutic benefit for your illness, either, because they don't have anything to do with it. Those are the two big problems, and a third problem is that they only take up very little time of the day, so you have nothing to do for most of your time. But let me focus on the two big ones.

What really bugs me is that so many people I met during my stay at the schizophrenia ward were of above average intelligence, yet all of us had to pick what can only be appropriately called "idiot therapies." Could have done so much to challenge our brains, flex our cognitive muscles, but instead we were treated like we had Down's syndrome. The official explanation is that psychotic people are too easily stressed out by using their brains, but that's a load of crap. Being treated like toddlers was far more stressful. And why in blazes was there no group therapy where we could directly exchange experiences with our illnesses? Before privatisation every ward in every clinic everywhere in the country had a ton of that, and I have heard so much good about it, yet that seemed to be the first they got rid of when making their new private business more "economic." All we got were patronising toddler therapies that did nothing but kill time, and didn't even kill very much of it because we were still bored two-thirds of the day.

And no, you can't opt out. You have to take therapies in the morning and in the afternoon, or else. They never told me what they would do if I refused to do any of that nonsense, but considering the variety of ways they blackmailed me throughout my stay I figure I'd rather do my pointless music therapy and raking leaves than deal with whatever they would have decided to throw at me. If anyone who runs a private mental hospital ever reads this I can only respectfully request something that stimulates the brain a little, or something in which we can confront our illnesses, or both. Don't save money in areas that benefit your patients, that's like a steakhouse only offering bread because steaks are too expensive - hint: people go to steakhouses to have steak, that's what the business is about. You're a mental hospital, people want proper therapy. That is the service you are supposed to provide, so do it.

Tales from the schizophrenia ward - Part IV: It could be worse...

You know, going by the accounts of this series' first three parts you'd probably think that I had a hellish time at the schizophrenia ward, but it really wasn't all that bad. Yeah, the Haldol stories I talked about in parts II and III were pretty damn bad, and the boredom detailed in part I was somewhat bad, well, mostly inconvenient, but as a whole, I didn't have such a bad time, and neither did many of my fellow patients. Sure, none of us had the best time of our lives, that's in the nature of such a place, but there was a good spirit between patients, a spirit of camaraderie and at times - after a while - even friendship. We hung out, talked, had fun, it was pretty nice a lot of the time. So while some aspects of this episode of my life and the lives of those around me at the time were pretty dismal, sometimes you gotta see things positively and think of the less fortunate.

And we did think of the less fortunate, because there was no way around it. That is because half of us - excluding myself - were the less fortunate prior to their joining the ward I was at. This ward was what they call an "open" ward, which means you agreed to come there, you were free to roam the clinic area, and you were free to leave if you should choose to do so. And where there is an open ward there sure enough was a "closed" ward not far away - about 50 meters from our building, the building next door. This was a place where you'd be brought against your will because you were deemed "a danger to yourself or others", and where you could not leave the ward (either entirely or just for a stroll) without express permission of the doctors. Once doctors decided you were no longer a danger to anyone you would be sent to our open ward, mostly to get your meds down and prepare you for release. So a lot of the people I met at my ward were at the closed ward next door prior to my meeting them, and the first-hand accounts I heard from them were truly horrifying.

One big issue is that in most clinics, there are numerous different wards, each with a different focus. When you decide to become an inpatient by yourself, you have your doctor sign you up for the ward that is deemed appropriate for your diagnosis and you wait until there is a free bed. When you are brought to the clinic against your will however they obviously can't keep you in the ambulance for a week until a bed in a ward appropriate for your diagnosis is free, so when one isn't, you are simply redirected to another closed ward with a different focus in which there is a free bed. This is problematic because most patients' diagnoses require a long-term stay at a ward that offers long-term therapy, but because such wards do long-term therapy, rotation is lower and a bed is less likely to be free at any given time. Wards that do have a high rotation and therefore are more likely to have a free bed are those for short term intervention in an acute problem - most commonly detox or suicidal ideation/suicide attempts.

Since I was at a schizophrenia ward, the majority of people there suffered from schizophrenia or related illnesses such as schizoaffective disorder. So most of those who had been in a closed ward prior to their arrival at the open one I was at were committed there as a result of such a heavy psychotic episode that they were deemed a danger to themselves or others. Now most people who have never experienced a psychotic episode or similar phenomena will never quite understand what happens inside these people at the time, and from my own experience I can only relate to the intense paranoia that my diagnosis (obsessive-compulsive disorder) shares with schizophrenia. Now imagine being in a state of intense, overwhelming, unmanageable paranoia and being committed to a mental hospital against your will (which is bad enough), but because there is no free bed in a ward appropriate for your symptoms you end up in one place with 20 Russians on heroin withdrawal or 20 suicidal people who are intent on trying to end their lives any chance they get. To call that counterproductive would be one hell of an understatement.

But let us assume that you do get a place appropriate for your symptoms, a closed schizophrenia ward, as a good number of people I have met did. Here's where the really ugly truth comes to light: Doctors and nurses, no matter how much training they have received and how competent they are assumed to be, do not know how to handle people who are experiencing a heavy psychotic episode other than with mental and physical violence. You read correctly. This is the "enlightened" 21st century and we live in what supposedly is one of the most civilised countries on the planet, and patients at mental hospitals are being treated with violence by the staff. They are not being beaten or anything like that, but the mistreatment that is going on can only be described as violence. I have heard many such examples by a number of patients, but one in particular stuck in my memory the most as one of the most horrifying stories of mental hospital abuse I have heard in my life (so far):

There was this young woman, a bit younger than me. She was experiencing a massive psychotic episode and wanted to go to the clinic. Naturally, she wanted to come to an open ward since it was her choice to come and she was not a danger to herself or others, but there was no free bed, so they wanted to send her home until something opened up. She however was in a horrible state of mind and felt she desperately needed help, so it was arranged that she could go to a closed ward for a time. While there, her psychotic episode got worse and she was freaking out. Not in a way that would endanger herself or others, but in a way that was horrifying to her. Doctors, unwilling to deal with her, had a perfect solution: Trying to give her Haldol. Now she worked in the field so she knew very well what Haldol was, and she was extremely paranoid about it, so she refused. Here's where it gets ugly. The staff's reaction was simply beyond disgusting. They strapped her to a bed, and she knew from her experience in the field that they would want her pants off, so she begged them not to do it because she had been very badly raped. Two nurses, both male, ripped her pants off anyway. They injected her with the Haldol she refused and left her strapped to the bed overnight. They left a bedpan for her to pee in, despite her saying that she can't do that, so she didn't get to pee for, if I recall correctly, over 24 hours. Once they let her loose from the bed she had massive renal colics and spent the next day lying in a bathtub crying in pain. That was Christmas Eve.

I trust her enough to have told the truth when she told me this story. If you don't think something is very fucked about that, you clearly lack a basic sense of humanity. That is the type of stuff that is done to thousands of patients in hundreds of clinics all over Germany. So yeah, what I experienced where I was at was nothing. Fifty meters away in the building next door, things were a lot worse.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My thoughts on Encoffination

I have already written a post detailing my thoughts on the old school death metal revival, but I think the band Encoffination deserves to have a post of its own because it is a band that, in my opinion, really stands out. Not in a positive way, but not in a negative way, either, which makes this subject matter all the more complicated to deal with. Really, how can you stand out but neither in a positive nor a negative way? It seems to be impossible. Encoffination however have found a way, their own, bizarre way.

To give you a brief overview, Encoffination is a side-project of members of some old school death metal revival bands people go crazy about but that are not even worth being mentioned by name because they are so unremarkable. With this band they are attempting to create a slower, more apocalyptic style of death/doom metal that has been likened to Incantation's slow moments, though without any of the morbid character evoked by John McEntee's blasphemous creation so many years ago by use of these meticulously written riffs in which every note is honed to perfection, and each note preceeding it and each note following it is crafted eloquently to serve as both contrast and balance, creating the unique sense of audial morbidity Incantation are known for. Encoffination, while similar on the surface, and thereby compared to Incantation by people who only look at the surface of music, are nowhere near such dimensions, and I'll tell you why.

Simply put: Encoffination have no riffs. I don't mean that in the way many metal reviewers say it, that they don't think they have good riffs. I literally mean they have nothing you can identify as a riff. I have over a thousand Encoffination plays on last.fm and I don't remember a single riff. Sure, you could say there are riffs but they're simply not memorable, but that wouldn't be true, because even when you are listening to them there is nothing in the note progressions that you can put together in your head to form a riff. They simply noodle one tremolo-picked note for 2-3 seconds, then another, then the first again, then the second, then repeat that one or two halfsteps higher. That or some minor variation on that goes on for the duration of each song. And I do mean every song. There is no variation whatsoever, it's always some note, some other note, a lot of repetition, and eventually the song is done and the next song does the exact same thing.

On first thought, that sounds like it couldn't be any more negative a description, but as I said in the first paragraph, it actually isn't. Yeah, Encoffination's music is absolutely dismal, but not necessarily in a negative way. It sucks all life out of you, again, not necessarily in a negative way. It is, I think, where this band's music succeeds: It is bleak beyond description. There is this utterly nihilistic approach to music that is rarely heard in metal, because usually bands want to evoke emotions, they want to make you enjoy yourself, or feel energised, or invigorated, or strengthened, anything, they all want to stir up something inside you. Encoffination do no such thing. Not only do they seem not to care what you feel, they seem to have this intense aversion against you feeling anything at all, except their music does not express aversion or any other emotion. They take the most dismal and lifeless elements of bands such as early Mortician or Rigor Sardonicous and dampen the emotional release further to a level of non-existence.

Of course you could say that they are simply incompetent songwriters, that they really are going for that Incantation vibe and intensity and that they do want write music that is emotionally engaging, and that they simply fail at it because they don't have the talent to get anywhere near pulling it off, but I don't believe that. I base that on the fact that in their other bands they do display the ability to write tunes that are "catchy" and "energetic", and the fact that they have kept doing this exact type of music since 2008 and show no desire to deviate from this bleak, nihilistic approach to songwriting in favour of something that "gets the crowd moving." No, I firmly believe that this is what they set out to do, and that it is their goal to create the most dismal, soul-sucking and lifeless music possible in the metal framework.

As you may have noticed, I have not said a word yet on whether I enjoy their work or not. I really think I can't, because like I hinted at in the first paragraph, I don't perceive this music as either positive or negative. I don't think this was intended as good music or bad music, either. Some bands are likened to a force of nature, and I'd say Encoffination can be likened to a complete absence of any force of nature. I think the best way to describe this music and close this review is by using the following little analogy:

Religious people say there is life after death. Atheists say there is nothing after death. Imagine if both are partly correct, that there is life after death, but there is nothing there. Imagine the moment of death passes, and you suddenly find yourself in an environment of absolute nothingness. No people, no landscapes, no stars or planets, no gods or angels, no ground to walk on, no light, no sound, no matter, no energy, just nothing.  Ladies and gentlemen, if that is existence after death, Encoffination is the soundtrack.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The mutants are revolting: The treatment of the mentally ill in today's society - Part IV

Psychosis.

Once you have that diagnosis in your life, you are never going to get rid of it, and everything is going to be so much harder. The problem is that psychiatrists hand out this diagnosis like candy without ever questioning its validity, because for them, it is the easiest way to deal with you. They use this diagnosis to not have to deal with whatever actual problems you may have, because the beauty of a psychosis diagnosis, to them, is that psychoses are so broad that you can attribute every single possible symptom to them. Depression, mania, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic attacks, dissociation, depersonalisation, whatever you can think of, they can all be bent and shaped to fit into a psychosis diagnosis, and the psychiatrist will no longer have to do any work trying to get to the root of your problem or make an effort to fix it, because whatever symptoms you may have, it's just your psychosis, and here, have some antipsychotics, come back in a month, and if the meds don't work have some other antipsychotics.

In this post, I have detailed how my paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis came to be about a year ago. But it did not start there. Diagnoses from the psychotic spectrum have been following me since 2010, shortly after I began serious psychiatric treatment after my alcohol detox. I was suffering from massive social anxiety and panic attacks at the time, which in fact was why I was drinking so much alcohol that I needed to get to detox, and I certainly did not have the strength to detail all my symptoms for the psychiatrist by myself, and instead let him ask his questions and answer them as best as I could. These were some really broad and general questions about my panic and anxiety and eventually the conclusion was reached that I am suffering from general anxiety disorder and was given medications with anxiolytic effects (as detailed in the post I linked in the beginning of this paragaph).

Eventually however, I was cornered on my agoraphobic symptoms, and the question arose - I am sure almost everyone who has been to the psychiatrist has been asked that - if, when outside, I felt like people were watching me. Well, yeah, isn't that a natural instinct of any herbivore? Guess not. And it's not like I look particularly ordinary with my long hair, beard, heavy metal or horror movie shirts, camouflage pants and heavy boots. Of course people are looking at me. And of course I feel even more like people are looking at me when I'm in the middle of a panic attack and feel like the whole world is collapsing onto me. But there it was: My new diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder. Psychosis.

Had I had the knowledge of the strength to protest back then I would have, because that's just not me. It does not reflect me or my illness in any way. But at the time I did not know anything about the subject matter and didn't even know that much about myself, and I trusted the psychiatrist to use his knowledge and competence to improve my situation. I did not realise that this would become a stigma that would make any further treatment impossible because every time I went to any psychiatrist since then, I would always be treated for the psychosis diagnosis and every symptom I had would either be somehow attributed to that diagnosis or deliberately ignored.

I have been an inpatient three times since then, the last of which was the stay at the schizophrenia ward I have written four posts about to this point, and nothing has changed. I can try to reason with the doctors, I can try to explain things to them, my symptoms, how I feel, how I perceive things, what makes my brain tick, to no avail. The only thing it has accomplished was worsening my diagnosis from schizoaffective disorder to paranoid schizophrenia. And it's just so wrong. I do not exhibit any symptoms that define a psychosis at the core. I suffer from major depression and an anxiety spectrum disorder known as obsessive-compulsive disorder, with an emphasis on panic and anxiety. I did not self-diagnose this, I do officially have these diagnoses next to the psychosis, and they are true, as they match the symptoms exhibited through my illness spot-on. But schizophrenia? Where? How? Did these guys listen to a word I said?

You'd assume that one wrong diagnosis among three is no major issue, but it becomes one whenever you seek treatment for the other two diagnoses but are only ever asked about the wrong one, and are only ever "treated" (ineffectively, as there's nothing to treat) for the wrong one. With each time I have seen a new psychiatrist I have become more and more desperate to have my depression and anxiety treated, because not only did these issues become increasingly overwhelming as they were left to grow unchecked, but the helplessness you experience in the face of their increasingly overwhelming power and the fact that they remain untreated despite you practically begging on your knees for them to be looked at drives you to a point of despondency. And the reaction is always and will always remain that any attempt to seek help for illnesses that are killing you from the inside is that they are deliberately brushed aside and that it must be your psychosis acting up. Why not have some Haldol?

If you have a psychosis diagnosis and know it does not apply to the symptoms you feel, don't let them get away with it. Fight to have it removed from your file. Make them listen to you. Find people who are in a similar situation, support each other, pool your resources, raise awareness. This is a crime against humanity and it cannot continue. We must end this despicable practice right here, right now. If all they want is to give us a diagnosis that shuts us up and which cannot be legally disputed because every possible symptom can be twisted to fit their diagnosis, just so they don't have to do any work, they clearly took up the wrong profession and should lose their license to practice medicine. It's time we made sure that happened.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My thoughts on the old school death metal revival

First off, let me state right away that I am not going to name any bands in this post. There will be no list of who does what and who does it best, I am reviewing the movement as a whole and do not see the need to namedrop particular examples for what I think of which ideas and directions. If you want recommendations for which bands to seek out and which ones to avoid, go to any metal forum and start a thread asking for directions, it's not what this post is for.

What is commonly referred to as the "old school death metal revival" is a recent phenomenon in the death metal subgenre, which, as you can gather from its name, revives the sound of what death metal was like in its early days before it crystallised into its numerous shapes we know today, when bands started to play with influences of thrash metal and grindcore and began crafting a sound that was more to the point and less fiddling than the former and more elaborate and - for lack of a better phrase - with more "meat" than the latter. There were a number of different varieties, of which the most well-known are the Florida scene, the New York (state) scene, the Swedish scene, and many other notable acts from all over the planet.

Those who were around at the time - I was not, I only got into death metal in the mid-90s - know that this was a short-lived phenomenon quickly destroyed in the early 90s once record labels discovered people were into this new type of metal and signed just about anyone who had ever looked at a guitar in a catalogue and put out trillions of pointless albums, completely drowning the market in feces and killing the desire to hear any more of this type of music in just about anyone on the planet.  The majority of these bands broke up once they discovered they had inadvertently maneuvered themselves into a sewer, a good number of the others moved on to completely other forms of music, some achieving global fame playing gothic metal or somesuch (I know of a German band that was playing pop punk shortly after), while the rest developed new forms of death metal that quickly gathered a cult following or even developed into successful and widely respected entities - brutal death metal and technical death metal being main examples.

As for old school death metal, yeah, there were still a few who were doing it, but no one cared about them anymore. The shock and trauma of that style's great death in the early 90s was deep and disillusioning, and it didn't help that certain events in Scandinavia helped cement black metal as the leading force in extreme metal around that time. Those who were still devoted to death metal moved on to the aforementioned brutal and/or technical varieties, and old school death metal was essentially a dead and forgotten force.

Not too long ago, around the mid-to-late 2000s, people began to remember. Most people, myself included, had not been around in the late 1980s to early 1990s when the style was at its peak, most people only knew of the style through the very, very few bands that still played something along the lines of old school death metal but didn't have any deeper understanding of anything below the surface. I don't know how it happened, and I don't know who started it, even if I were to name bands as I said I wouldn't, I couldn't point out which band was the first, or which label was the first to put out such music again, but suddenly there it was. Maybe people were tired of retro thrash, or maybe the time was just right, but there it was, all of a sudden everyone was listening to old school death metal, seeking out more old school death metal, talking about old school death metal and forming old school death metal bands.

Of course labels were once again jumping on it, putting out every new band's half-baked stuff from every corner of the planet while pumping out compilations of forgotten albums and demos of bands from the late 80s to early 90s by the trillion. But this time it did not lead to a catastrophic collapse, because today people have internet connections and are able to listen to bands on YouTube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Last.fm, et cetera and decide whether they want to pay money for it rather than purchasing blindly, and are thereby not swamped by all sorts of crap and quickly disillusioned with the whole thing. I guess that's the beauty of the internet age, bands that obviously suck no longer get by on good cover arts leading to as many blind purchases, people are no longer bogged down with a collection of which 95% is crap and which cost them hundreds or thousands nonetheless, disillusion is thereby drastically reduced, and only quality material is promoted.

It sounds so perfect, but unfortunately it does not work that way. I am not going to talk about the shitty bands, because they do not need to be talked about. They make up the vast majority of every genre, and thanks to what I described in the previous paragraph nobody needs to give them the time of day. It's the supposedly "good" bands that give me a headache. Here is where my opinion differs from that of the vast majority of old school death metal fans.

When I tried to find a way to put into words my feelings on why the supposedly good bands of the old school death metal revival leave me unfazed, the first thing that came to mind was an analogy to another passion of mine. If you have ever talked to me on- or offline, you know that I love football - the sport you Americans know as soccer. In many other popular sports such as handball or basketball, if you play a good move, you score a point. In football you need a little more: You need a series of good moves culminating in one outstanding and/or genius move, with a bit of luck on top, only then you score a point. Most of the time when you watch a football match, you see chains of good moves, some very good, but the final punch is missing, and so usually no goal is scored. Yes, it is great to watch these chains of good moves, otherwise I wouldn't be into the sport. I love it when they play these one-two combinations back and forth, dribbling around defending players, passing and receiving the ball in a manner that takes many years to master, it is a beautiful sight for every fan of the sport to see these guys play on a professional level that leaves you continuously entertained and at times astonished. But, once the game is over, the spectators do not bask in the memory of the good moves they have seen, no, they look at scoreboard, at the result, because in the end that is really what counts.

This is really what I consider to be the matter with the so-called good bands of the old school death metal revival. They play really well, they show you some of their best moves that took them years to master, and they leave you entertained for the period of time you are listening to the record or watching the live show, but once it's over, you look at the scoreboard and what does it say? No goal. You spent forty minutes listening to an entertaining diversion, but the final result is not something you feel like celebrating. There was never any sense of urgency, nothing compelling, nothing that leaves you with a good feeling for a week. You have witnessed a group of people who may not be on the same level of professionalism as a top league football player, but to carry on the analogy, you just watched them doing spectacular dribbling and passing displays that looked great, but didn't lead to any desired result on the scoreboard. To carry the analogy further, the German national football team of today is, in its technical abilities, quite a few levels above the team that won the world cup in 1990, but Germany has not won a world cup since then. What do you think people in Germany remember? The current team playing brilliantly but dropping out in the semifinals or the 1990 playing less brilliantly but winning the title? The same goes for old school death metal: What do you think I would rather listen to? A technically flawless but non-compelling album from 2012 or an album from 1990 that may have minor technical flaws but is absolutely compelling and captivating?

For me, the choice is clear. Death metal is supposed to be a form of art, and it requires a spark of genius to make something that appears simple into a masterpiece. Yes, craftsmanship plays a part, they wouldn't have the means to create said masterpiece if they didn't have the theoretical and practical abilities to do so, but a death metal album cannot rely on craftsmanship alone. You can spend years studying the very best of the early old school death metal albums and hone your ability to craft something that is very much the same stylistically, but without that spark of genius it will always be no more than a product, never a work of art. And this spark, unfortunately, is exactly what is missing from the new bands.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My thoughts on Masonna

Considerating I concentrated on writing reviews for a site called "Metal Archives" for many years, it does not come as a surprise that this is the first time in over half a decade that I write something on a form of music that isn't some sub-type of heavy metal. For today's excursion into the beautiful broad field of contemporary music, I would like to share a few thoughts on an artist that I have come to hold quite dearly in recent months.

Masonna is an artist that I've known since very early in this century, and my first reaction, probably like pretty much everyone else's was something along the lines of "what the fuck is this shit?" You see, Masonna plays a type of, well, can't really call it "music", a type of audial art known as "harsh noise" of the Japanese variety - commonly contracted to "japanoise", and this artist strives to outdo its contemporary compatriots by a factor best left to professional mathematicians. Basically, it makes more widely known Japanese noise artists like Merzbow look like children's songs by comparison, and what the mainstream knows as noise - Sonic Youth, I guess - is so far removed from Masonna's level of harshness and dissonance that it does not even register as a blip on the radar.

It is hard to describe the type of audial assault Yamazaki Takushi, the artist behind Masonna, unleashes upon his listeners. The first key componant are truly insane levels of amplification and distortion. Everything is not only incredible loud but also incredibly abrasive. Everything is turned up to the maximum. The "these go to 11"-joke from the movie This is Spinal Tap, you remember that? Takushi really does that, except his distortion pedal that goes to 11 is plugged straight into another distortion pedal which also goes to 11, and then another for good measure, and the same goes for the amplifier. One thing one cannot accuse Takushi of is pursuing his vision ineffectually. He goes all the way, and you can probably hear him through half of Japan while he's doing it. Manowar may be the Guinness Book world record holders as loudest band playing in an arena in front of 30,000 people, but Masonna plays at a similar volume whereever he goes, be it in the studio or in a small club in front of 50 people, he'll crank it up and won't let up until he sees heads explode.

The second key component is that while half the time you cannot tell what the devil is being distorted and amplified there, Takushi's intense vocal performance dominates the audial onslaught. For those of you who discovered this blog through various heavy metal (and subgenres) outlets, I can wholeheartedly assure you that you have never heard vocals quite so extreme. I cannot even explain scientifically how that small, skinny guy takes all that lung capacity from that would be required for such freakishly loud, prolonged, near-constant and tortured-sounding high-pitched shrieking. This guy sounds like he has been whipped with a cat o' nine tails before each recording or show, then rolls in a pool of iodine during the performance. Ouch.

The third key component is just how disorganised Masonna's audial art is. This is true to a degree for almost all Japanese noise, including pioneer Merzbow, but Masonna took what Merzbow did and once again took it to levels unfathomable before. The is no rhythm, no structure, no common thread to latch on to, every fraction of a second is unexpected and takes you by surprise - if not shock. If he performed his music in an organised fashion, you would eventually come to expect each blow and know how to put up your guard to defend against it, but instead you are defenseless against Masonna's merciless battery because every time you think you can anticipate the next blow, he strikes from another direction you didn't see coming.

So going by my description from the previous three paragraph, it is easy to see how anyone's first reaction would be, as I mentioned earlier: "What the fuck is this shit?" Your first impulse is to turn it off after just a few seconds because not only is it intensely unpleasant, it also seems utterly pointless. I mean, why would you do such a thing to yourself? There seems no real reason you'd give Masonna the time of day and instead put on something nicer. Sometimes, however, I don't know about you guys, but as for myself, I feel like doing an experiment with myself and try something I wouldn't normally try. So a few months ago I decided to give this artist an extended listen after over a decade of dismissing it as pointless crap. I put a couple of albums into a playlist (about four hours), cranked the volume, and just let it run, to see what happens.

One major impression that forms quite soon is how much it puts you on alert. When I talked to a friend while listening to these albums, I described it as being like having a few cups of coffee too many. You find yourself with your eyes wide open, very wired, restless, always on the move. It actually gets you into quite a productive mindset. Not just physically but mentally as well, because while the music, pardon me, audial art, fires up your body, it also stimulates your brain in a way that has you coming up with all sorts of ideas and thoughts in rapid fire mode. I think this may have to do with the fact that Masonna's art has none of the hypnotic properties that most music has, so it does not put you at rest in any way, and it does not have a rhythm to distract you by getting you into a "dancy", bouncy mood, the message you receive from listening to Masonna is to stay alert, stay focused, don't keep calm, don't enjoy yourself, stay on the move, physically and mentally. And through its disorganised structures, it pummels your mind with many impressions it also leaves many gaps for your minds to fill, and it gets you into a thinking mood automatically. It is, in a way, similar to a Rorscach test where you see a random blob of ink, and your mind turns it into something. It is like a hundred or a thousand Rorschach tests fired at you in rapid succession, even, each not much by themselves, but your mind turns each one into an image, an idea, a thought. And as it keeps going, provided you listen to it long enough and don't turn it off after a few seconds, it keeps growing, because it is relentless, it doesn't let up, so the images, ideas and thoughts pile up, merge with each other, build up upon each other, creating bigger and more complex images, ideas and thoughts. It is a remarkable experience.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that there  is also a certain rock 'n' roll appeal to Masonna's art. Basically, Masonna is what people thought the Rolling Stones sounded like in the 60s. It has this extreme rebellious spirit of going against all conservative conventions and spitting in the face of the status quo. There is something cathartic about it in that aspect, something that stimulates this youthful feeling within you that tells you to raise your fist and go against the grain, no compromise, no retreat, no surrender. It may not be the most intellectually or philosophically valid feeling (or be considered such), but it is a good feeling to have every now and then and it can be quite invigorating. Combine this with the physical and cognitive stimulation described in the previous paragraph and the best way to put it in words is a well-known figure of speech: This makes you feel like a million bucks.

So try it. Or don't. Your experience may be entirely different from mine, don't take my words as universally true, because for you, this music might affect you negatively or not affect you at all. But if you want to spend a few hours of your life trying something new, going down new roads, and if you are already into some extreme or unusual music, why not give Masonna a shot? I don't regret trying it for one moment, as it improved my life and helped me grow as a person, and I have great respect for this artist and what he has accomplished.

The mutants are revolting: The treatment of the mentally ill in today's society - Part III

A few weeks ago, a woman I know who suffers from borderline personality disorder and has a young daughter showed me a really offensive article on Psychology Today, one of many propaganda outlets disguised as science magazines, with the title "Prognosis is Gloomy for Children with Personality-Disordered Parents, Studies Suggest" (see Google), quoting a whole bunch of studies highlighting how people suffering from borderline personality disorder are worse parents, children are abused or neglected more often, become criminal or get into drugs more often, and often have a less rewarding and fulfilling life as they grow up.

This is a perfect example of why psychiatric and psychological studies cannot be trusted. From my perspective, as someone who is capable of critical thinking, and as someone who has lived with mental illness all his life and knows it does not make you a better or worse person or defines your character in any way, I can easily see through this pile of nonsense. For me, the common theme was that in every study they quoted, you could easily exhange the term "borderline personality disorder" with "black skin", and the result would have been the same.

Yes, let us go with that comparison. In North America, where the studies were based, but also in Europe, children of parents with black skin have a higher chance to be abused, to be neglected, to become criminals as they become older, to get into drugs when they get older, and to live a less rewarding and fulfilling life than the white majority. This is statistically documented. Now, if I was a writer at Psychology Today, this would lead me to the conclusion that black people, in principle, are worse parents. Can you imagine the outrage that would cause? It's obviously a load of crap, racist to the bone and based on prejudice and ignorance. But if black people are not worse parents in principle, then why do their children have a higher chance of encountering abuse, neglect, crime, drugs, unhappiness and so forth? It's called "institutional racism." Their parents are less likely to find a job. If they find one, they are less likely to find one that pays anything. And they are less likely to find a job that doesn't have them work at nights or on weekends and leave the kids with whomever. Black families are less likely to live in an area that is both safe, free of crime, and beneficial to a child's development. Black families are marginalised in all walks of life by the majority's attitude of them being lesser people. Black children face verbal and physical abuse from light-skinned people - adults and children - in their neighbourhoods, and in kindergarten and school. Black parents are more likely to be harassed by police, as are the children when they are old enough to be harassed. Suffocating poverty, dismal surroundings and constant psychological abuse wherever they go eventually leads to a youth and an adulthood of crime and drugs in many cases, which then is passed on to another generation.

Is this because of their black skin? Does being black automatically make you a worse parent? Psychology Today would say so.

The article and studies really paints a picture of the institutional discrimination we as mentally ill people face in society today, and how propaganda is being force-fed into the minds of the masses from the highest places with impunity. Let me make one thing very clear, just so we have the facts established: Mental illness, by itself, does not define your parenting skills any more than being in a wheelchair or having diabetes would. They are illnesses that any good parent can work his or her way around, some things you have to do differently and improvise just like a person in a wheelchair or a person with diabetes would have to, but doing things differently does not make you a worse parent just as much as being healthy does not make you a better parent. Your state of health does not define your parenting skills. However, just like black people, mentally ill people face institutional discrimination and marginalisation every day of their lives in every area. Finding a job, finding a good job, harassment and abuse, finding a decent place to live, being able to live a productive and rewarding life, all these are areas where both groups, black people and mentally ill people, face institutional roadblocks. However, for black people this is being recognised as true. Nobody does anything about it to improve it, but at least it is being recognised. For mentally ill people, to society as a whole, it is still us who are to blame for the shit we face. If an employer won't hire you because you're black, most people won't say your black skin is to blame for not getting the job but that the employer's prejudice is to blame. If an employer won't hire you because you're bipolar, it is always your illness that is to blame and the employer is seen as in the right.

And here we get to the part about why the article I have been referring to throughout this post infuriates me so much. That article, and all the studies it quotes, was not written by the Ku Klux Klan. It was written by people society considers respectable and knowledgeable on the subject. It was written by so-called professionals, doctors, professors, people who spent about a decade studying this subject. Men and women of science. Not only will people generally believe that whatever these people say is true, but they also do not generally have the ability to question it because the field is too difficult for many regular people to understand, so it is readily swallowed. The outlook for mentally ill people certainly looks grim if institutional discrimination is condoned and supported by one of the most respected groups in our society, and any critical questioning of their theories by layman rights activists is quickly drowned out with complicated technical jargon no one but them knows how to respond to.

We really can not do much more about this other than to educate ourselves and pass on our knowledge to those around us, and to show people that our illnesses do not make us a better or worse person. We are people like you, and we do not want to be treated any differently because of our illnesses.

Tales from the schizophrenia ward - Part III: Haldol - Part 2/2

Once I got to the schizophrenia ward with my fancy new "paranoid schizophrenia" diagnosis things started to get really weird. The medications I had taken to this point were all designed to combat an anxiety spectrum disorder, which obsessive-compulsive disorder is. (Prior to OCD I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, some of the meds from that time were carried over.) Took a bit of mirtazapine (known by the brand name Remeron in the United States, Remergil in Germany), an antidepressant and downer supposed to calm you down, a bit of fluoxetine (Prozac), another antidepressant that's supposed to help with OCD, a bit of olanzapine (Zyprexa), an antipsychotic with strong sedative properties, for the same purpose as the mirtazapine, and a bit of pregabaline (Lyrica), an anticonvulsant which in Europe is indicated as an anxiolytic. None of that really felt to have any effect, mind you, but I'm trying to illustrate here that before the whole schizophrenia nonsense started, doctors had me pretty clearly tuned to an anxiety disorder.

So I meet the head doctor for the first time, he looks at my new diagnosis with his trademark "why do I have to deal with this vermin?"-look, looked at my then-currennt regiment of medications and basically told me that I shouldn't take all that stuff because I have paranoid schizophrenia, and that I should take stronger antipsychotics instead. Okay, at the time I didn't put up much fight, as you could read in part 1/2 I was in a pretty wrecked state of mind at the time, so I agreed to his recommendation, after all, he's a doctor, right? The first few weeks I was supposed to phase out all the medications I took at the time since they were all claimed to be totally wrong for me, then start a new medication called Fluanxol (flupenthixol), sounded reasonable enough at the time.

Many weeks passed phasing out all that stuff I had been taking. First the antidepressants, which went quickly since you could basically take them out rather abruptly, then many weeks phasing out the pregabaline, which was physically addictive, so you had to go small step by small step to avoid major withdrawal. It was about a month-and-a-half, but finally I was down to only the olanzapine. I may have been ready to bash my skull into the wall out of utter boredom, but after a long wait it seemed like I was nearing the end.  So I went to see the head doctor again, and was ready to begin my switch to that Fluanxol stuff, which didn't seem all that bad from what I had heard from other patients. So friendly Doctor "god, will someone please euthanise this filth?" looked at me, looked at my file, and his words were something along the lines of "Well, we said we were going to try Fluanxol. We will have to try to see if you respond to potent antipsychotics at all. So I recommend you start taking Haldol."

Wait, what? Time-out for a second here. You are going to test if I will respond to the Fluanxol by giving me Haldol? What about testing if I will respond to the Fluanxol by giving me Fluanxol? Wouldn't that make a little more sense? No?

Naive questions aside, "doctor knows best", I suppose, and he made it pretty clear that I would be sent home with nothing if I didn't agree to his recommendations. So I started taking Haldol. If you have read part II of this series, I have already begun to get a bit into what that medication is and what that medication does in there, but I'll recap for those who haven't read it. Haldol, essentially, is the off-switch to your humanity. On Haldol, you are not human anymore. You are a shell of a human, a sort of breathing mannequin with no thoughts, no emotions and no capacity for understanding the world around you or for the world around you to understand you. There really is nothing for you to understand, though, because not only can't you process what little impressions you get, you don't care that you can't, either. And there certainly is nothing for the world around you to understand, because there is nothing inside you. Someone picked up a remote and switched you off. You're in standby mode, now. Nothing is happening.

I knew this, and I didn't resist. Because my thought process at the time was that if I took the Haldol, which I didn't want, the mere thought of which I hated, and proved to the doctor that I'm not psychotic anymore after taking it (assuming I ever was), then he'd switch me to the Fluanxol and I could be sent on my way with maybe a better medication than I had when I entered the clinic. So basically a clear-cut case of taking one for the team, with the team being my misfiring neurons in this case. Suffice to say I was scared shitless before taking the first dose that evening, and had one perpetual panic attack from the time I took the pill to the time it started working.

Once it did work, and I was at a very low starting dosage, I knew instantly that this was not what I wanted. Everything felt so wrong in every possible way, and my previous train of thought of "taking one for the team" as I put it above to score the Fluanxol afterwards (which may not have been any better) became invalid, I just wanted it to stop before it got any worse. The next day I complained to the nurses about the Haldol and that I didn't want to take it again, but they left me no choice (blackmail, again), and instead advised me to take a medication called Akineton (biperiden) in addition. It's an anti-Parkinson's medication that supposedly decreases the side-effects of potent antipsychotics. It didn't do anything. What I did manage to convince the staff of was to at least give me a milligram of lorazepam, a benzodiazepine (sedative) to somehow keep my shit together, because I was extremely stressed out by what felt like my brain dissolving and liquefying. It needed to stop, and I did not know any way out other than to put on a smile and lie to the doctors that I felt much better, because otherwise they would not have let me go, and would most likely have increased my dosage.

So I lied, and they bought it, and I was sent home, and the Haldol experience quickly ended.  It was short, and I was on a low dosage, so I got off easily. What stuck with me were two things: 1.) Just how readily they give that horrifying poison, and 2.) As I witnessed from other patients in the ward, that most of the time, they don't stick to a dosage as low as mine and don't let people go as easily as me. As I'm writing this, I know for a fact that on the ward I was at, right now, there are most certainly a number of patients on a high dose of Haldol. In the entire clinic, there most certainly are dozens (about 500 beds in the clinic if I recall correctly.) In clinics across Germany? Thousands. And does anyone in society give a damn? Not even the doctors have any scruples about it, neither do the nurses, and they actually see the results. How would society care if they have never seen the results? Ninety-nine percent of them do not even know that this is happening, or what Haldol even is.

Or that one day, this may be done to them, or their loved ones.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Alcoholism: A love story - Part I: Overview

This brand new series for my blog deals with the very near and dear subject of my love-hate relationship with alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse. Over the years, I am 31 years old as I am writing this, the sauce and I have been through good times, bad times, easy times and tough times, times when our lives were closely entangled and times when our lives were only loosely affiliated.

The thing it is with alcohol is that it is so perfect for people like me. I'm a shy guy, alcohol helps me be more open. I'm an anxious guy and I am easily stressed out, alcohol helps relax me. I'm a tense guy, alcohol helps me loosen up. I'm not a guy who has an easy time having fun, alcohol gets me in a mood more susceptible to enjoying myself. All sorts of mental issues, disorders, blocks, bad memories, tics, nervous habits, inhibitions and quirks I have are readily alleviated with this marvelous substance.

Of course there are downsides. First of all, once you start using it to help with your mental issues, whatever they may be, as with any other drug you take for that purpose, you will need more of it and will need it more often.

A psychological dependency develops quite easily, you start needing alcohol in certain situations, or in preparation for certain situations, or to settle down after certain situations. I think most people who have tried the booze more than once in their lives know a thing or two about always needing a beer when you are at a party where everyone drinks, or always needing a beer when you go to a bar (or a bar mitzvah), or always needing a beer when you meet that one friend from years ago who you used to drink beer with as a teenager. With a psychological dependency as such, treatment may be recommended, but it is not mandatory, most of your time you don't drink, and function in your daily life, at work, socially, and so forth, it's only in certain situations.

But once you start requiring it to clamp down on your brains unwanted shenanigans and start needing more of it more regularly,  eventually a physical dependency will kick in. Well, then you're screwed. It doesn't take long into physical dependency that you reach a point when the physical symptoms of withdrawal are so unbearable right after you wake up, you have to start the day with a drink. And have to continue drinking until you are ready to fall asleep. Rinse and repeat, every day. There is no question of "functioning" there, you can't work a job, you can't parent children, you can't maintain a (healthy) relationship, you can't meet your mom for a coffee unless she's as tolerant as mine, you can barely go to the grocery store for more booze. Fuck, I couldn't even manage personal hygiene when I was into that level of boozing, which, thinking back of it, was really,  really disgusting.

And of course it no longer helps with your mental issues. In fact, they usually are worse than before. Depressed people, once using alcohol daily to alleviate depression, will eventually become more depressed than before, because quite frankly, read the previous paragraph, wouldn't that depress the hell out of you? Same with people such as myself who suffer from an anxiety disorder. You start boozing and it does wonders for your panic attacks, but it would be an understatement to say alcohol withdrawal directly caused the worst panic attacks you have ever felt in your life.

And if that wasn't enough, your body begins to deteriorate as well. Not just your liver, though that organ obviously takes a lion's share of the damage. No exercise means your muscles begin to shrink to the size of a vanilla bean, the alcohol eats gaping holes into your stomach lining, the nerve endings in your extremities begin to damage causing very unnerving numbness (that doesn't ever go away even after quitting and staying sober), teeth will obviously rot if you can't do the personal hygiene thing, your sense of balance takes its toll and so forth.

So eventually there is detox or death. Trust me, once you reach that point that's not actually an easy decision, 'cause the Grim Reaper looks like a really nice guy when you're in that situation. For most people the situation has become so hopeless that detox isn't even an option, and the choice is merely between quick suicide or slow, agonising organ failure. I went for detox, I've never been much into death. I still want to write articles no one will read and music no one will listen to when I'm 90 years old.

Detox sucked, but I will get into that at some other point. What I want to mention before finishing up this overview though is how the story continued. After detox, I did not drink any alcohol for almost three years. I never considered detox the end of my drinking though, just the end of my regular drinking, and the end of my drinking to alleviate mental issues. You see, any informed doctor will tell you that all scientific evidence points at the fact that what Christian groups such as AA, who want to use your miserable situation to convert you to their wicked church of shit, say about drinking post-detox is false: You do not become a heavy boozer again just by having a drink. In fact, the majority of heavy drinkers who went through detox enjoy a casual drink occasionally afterwards and do not slip back into addiction, that is scientifically documented. You know what causes you to slip back into addiction? Being a fucking moron. You should have learned your lesson, and if you didn't, it's your own fault. It was partly already your own fault the first time, but you were naive and didn't know any better then, and the alcohol helped for a while. But to get into that a second time after all you've been through? You're a fucking moron.

So yeah, I've been through a lot with booze. Had fun times, had miserable times, had too much, went to detox, had nothing for years, now enjoying a couple drinks with friends every couple of months, and finally, yes finally, I believe the relationship between me and alcohol is at a level I can be happy with. So let me close the first installment of this series with the immortal words of Amebix:

"So drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tales from the schizophrenia ward - Part III: Haldol - Part 1/2

To begin this third part of the series, I will have to give you a quick introduction into what landed me in the schizophrenia ward in the first place.

You see, I am suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There are two major groups of symptoms to this illness: The first are by far the more famous, most entertainingly displayed in the Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets. These are the strange habits and rituals that for many people define OCD. Washing your hands every certain amount of minutes, locking and unlocking your door five times, not walking on the cracks on sidewalks, always tying your shoes in the right order, having everything on your dinner table arranged at right angles, that kind of stuff. Those are the compulsions, the C in OCD. You have to do that stuff, or else you get intense panic attacks. Sounds ridiculous, and really is, but is also quite shitty if you're the one affected, not just because of the panic attacks, but also by how it dominates your life and how it estranges everyone who either is close to you or who you want to be close to you. Again, see As Good As It Gets.

Nevertheless, the compulsions, while by far the more famous of the two groups of symptoms, to me were also always by far the lesser of the two. This is simply by virtue of how disturbing and unsettling the other is. Enter the obsessions, the O in OCD. Now this is where things get really ugly, because what "obsessions" refers to may simply be described as "obsessive thoughts" in any "explain it to the layman"-text, which doesn't sound half bad, but try to think to the maximum, try to think thoughts that are not only really, really intrusive but also really, really fucked-up. Ever seen a beautiful girl and had an image pop into your head of ramming a spear up any hole of hers and kicking the other end so it comes out some other part? Ever seen a toddler and had an image pop into your head of repeated smashing his or her skull in with an iron bar? Ever looked at your pet and had an image pop into your head of ripping its head off and taking a bite out of the exposed flesh? Well, this is the type of shit you have to deal with when it comes to the O in OCD. These are not thoughts you want, or which reflect your persona in any way, on the contrary, the vast majority of people suffering from OCD would never want to hurt a fly let alone ever do it, unless there's something else fucked up inside their heads. These are really intrusive thoughts that just randomly pop into your head all the time, that horrify the hell out of you (the mere fact that such thoughts can exist inside your mind horrifies you), but that you can't get rid of.

Now you gotta imagine, after a few years of suffering through these kinds of thoughts that are so strongly contrary to the person I am, I found myself slipping deeper and deeper into utter despair. I wanted that shit out of my head so badly. But there was nothing I could do but somehow arrange myself with having this illness, because not only are the therapeutic options limited at this point, even worse, we don't even really know all that much about what's happening inside the brain of someone suffering from OCD. So basically, what doctor tell you is that they can't do anything except try antidepressants which may or may not ease the symptoms a little bit, and other than that, you have to accept that these thoughts come to you, and you have to accept them as normal, because if you suppress them it only makes them stronger. Well, thanks.

So I tried that. But as it goes, there are repeating obsessions, and sometimes some of them fade away, and sometimes new ones pop up. The latter was what happened in the weeks prior to my being referred to the schizophrenia ward. A new thought popped up. You see, as I described above, the thoughts I had were so horrifying and revolting to me that I felt deeply ashamed to the bone every time one occured. And then there was this new thought: What if other people could actually see them? I know that as we currently understand it in science, seeing another's thoughts is not possible, but a very tiny "what if...?" lingers in most people, as it is so deeply ingrained in myth and folklore that it's hard to resist. It was not an obsession at first, just a thought, but it quickly grew into something that took a considerable amount of my thinking time. Didn't take long and every time one of these violent intrusive thoughts I named examples for above popped into my head, and there was somebody else around me, my first thought would be "Oh god, what if that person just saw that thought?"

Long story short: I went to my doc and told him about that and that I'd like to be an inpatient to somehow get hold of myself, because that new obsession made the regular obsessions ten times worse, and geniuses as these doctors are, it went "Oh, you think others can read your mind? That's paranoid schizophrenia, let's send you to the schizophrenia ward with that exact diagnosis."

Haldol - Part 2/2 coming soon...