Author’s Note: I wrote this piece three years ago during a dark period in my life. Propublica picked it up when I published it on my Wordpress blog, using my experience as evidence of neglect. I am reposting it here since I am shutting down my Wordpress blog and want to keep my experience published.
More allegations of sexual abuse at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, already under government scrutiny, have surfaced.
America is great if you're rich. Just look at Kanye West. Or the countless other celebrities that come out having a mental illness and become icons of bravery. You can have a mental illness and go to lush, private facilities dedicated to wellbeing and health.
Those of us with poor health insurance, who have to rely on underpaid, undertrained, uncaring health professionals are having the exact same treatment as our 19th-century peers.
Mental Health treatment in the West has improved somewhat from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Gone are Lobotomiesand Water Sheeting.
Yet, the mentally ill are continual scapegoats for larger societal problems. Every time there is a mass shooting, mental illness is to blame.
This is my experience trapped in a Chicago mental hospital for five days:
I'm Asexual. Yes, I know, I know. There is the gender parade tromping around in 2021 and uptight, confused people are mocking the myriad genders coming out.
I'm ignoring those people. If you haven't had a cursory study of Alfred Kinsey's Work, you have no business discussing gender and sexuality.
Yes, Kinsey made mistakes and his scale definitely needed to be improved—but in 2021, who will take up the mantle? Who is willing to take a scientific perspective to watching people bang? Oprah? Nah. Maybe Eddie Izzard. But he doesn't have a PhD.
OH! Let's enlist Neil deGrasse Tyson to be the next Kinsey. I can see him now, sitting in a deep, soft chair, obscured by shadow in the corner, while two people bang on the bed. Tyson sips his tea and writes in his notebook. The two people moan. Tyson scribbles something. It's over. Shame sweeps through the room. Neil deGrasse Tyson lifts himself from the chair, nods to the two naked, sweaty people on the bed, then disappears without a trace. Gone. Poof. Back to his lab to do SCIENCE!
So a friend of mine noticed I'm pretty good with this online stuff. She's wanting to start her own service of helping people with art therapy. Which I dig, I'm all into art therapy, especially for kids (whom are her main clients). And these kids produce some friggin' amazing art.
I can only draw stick-figures. Poorly. Here's is an attempt of me trying to make my own cartoon “self portrait”:
Pretty horrible I'd say. I stopped drawing after I embarrassed myself by making a horrible personal comic journal. It was maudlin and with bad drawing abilities. Not the endearing bad drawings like Jeffery Brown. No, bad bad like a 3 year old with a box of crayons.
Nonetheless, despite any artistic skills beyond writing, my friend loved the design of my webpages and asked me to help her start up her business page. She's been having a really hard time lately—really hard—so I said yes.
She knows nothing of technology. I asked her what she wanted her domain name to be and she had no idea what I was talking about.
Anyway, I gave her the short and sweet of how the internet works, she kinda understood, I registered her domain, got it hosted, and spun up a Wordpress install.
Since I've been with my hosting company for over a decade, I get premium Wordpress themes and plugins from them. So I just installed one of the premium themes, added basic descriptions relevant to her business, and sent her the link.
I managed to make it a full week at work. Which is surprising because, about four weeks ago, I was in the hospital with severe pneumonia and in the ICU. Five days in a grubby hospital gown hooked up to countless tubes, getting poked in the arm at 2 a.m.
I got used to the hospital staff rotating, never seeing a familiar face, but always a rotating tribe of orderlies, doctors, and nurses. Beeps and alarms interrupted the static sound from the speaker that was supposed to be playing the television show.
A cacophony in prime-time.
My lungs were fire, each inhale striating a line of pain throughout my body starting in my chest. Not to mention the hospital bed began to cramp my back and I had to shuffle shuffle awkwardly to relieve the pressure. My ass still hurts from it.
And the pressure cuffs hooked around my calves pumping and deflating every 45 seconds.
Time became moments of pain and pressure interrupted by the most exciting moments of medication—a Percocet, my regular psych meds, antibiotics—and ordering disgusting hospital food.
So I signed up for Last.fm Premium for a year. I was hesitant as there isn’t a reliable way to scrobble my tracks with Apple Music.
I was using an app called Eavescrob, but it only scrobbled music in my library. And I listen to a lot of music that’s not in my library but I want added to my Last.fm profile.
I found an old Reddit thread and someone mentioned QuietScrob. The big thing about QuietScrob is that it scrobbles non-library tracks. So I decided to try it. So far, it works well. It didn’t scrobble an obscure Hot Mulligan track and that concerns me.
But I think I’ll give it a try for now.
If anyone has a better way of scrobbling Music to Last.fm, please let me know. My Mastodon handle is below, but here it is anyway: @firstname.lastname@example.org
(Also, trying the iOS WriteFreely app so apologies if there are issues in publishing this post)
When I taught my English classes at the university, I taught my students critical thinking. I beat into them to question their sources and make sure the information they were presenting was factual and true. This was at the cusp of Wikipedia and the explosion of the internet. Smartphones weren’t a thing when I was teaching.
One of my favorite exercises was to gather my students into groups and have them read an official document about the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide
I would ask them to construct an argument why we should ban DHMO or why we should not ban it. The group members had to be unanimous in their decision.
I would always have the cocky science major raise an eyebrow at me, as if to say, are you serious? But most of the time the groups would vote to ban DHMO. They’d present perfectly logical arguments why; their presentation based on the information I gave them.
And every student would groan and be upset with me when I told them they effectively banned the usage of water. Many students would complain that I tricked them and made them feel stupid.
In the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd—a catalyst that sparked a new civil rights movement—the prosecution and the defense are focusing intently on Floyd’s substance abuse struggle.
I’m obsessed with HBO’s Westworld. The show’s melding of philosophy and technology is something I’ve always followed and is always present in my writing. In fact, my first book dealt directly with the themes present in Westworld—a robot (or hologram in my story) programmed to be killed over and over, becoming sentient and exhibiting Free Will.
My book deals with an AI woman who is programmed to be killed. No matter what the user does, the program will run its course and the woman will be killed at the end. Except for one program that has a glitch and creates sexual desire. Self-destruction forming a new being. So, that's why I'm interested in all this.
Early last year, Reggie Ugwu wrote an extremely interesting article where he interviewed a Theoretical Physicist about the themes presented in Westworld and the tv show Devs. Both shows deal with Determinism and Free Will. I was absolutely absorbed by the article and it created a new obsession for me: researching philosophy on Determinism and Free Will.