Okay, so some cool friends really want to know about mental health, because mostly they love me, and they want to learn from “my” perspective, what it feels like inside my head, so we sat down, they asked, and I answered. (This was separate from the amazing conversation that WEOC Hosted with Allison Gaines who studies Psychology and Mental Health Specifically.)

Here we go.

What Does Dysfunction look like to you?

You know when you go into a house and everything is clean and organized and you’re like “This person had help” but really they do keep their shit clean and together on their own? To me that’s dysfunctional, I don’t know how to do that and work on my mental health, and focus on writing the blog, creating, and marketing. I don’t “like” mess, but I don’t really understand how to live without it and so I focus on the stuff I do understand, which is creating, which to others is completely dysfunctional.

So for me, it’s just easier to focus on what I can control – whenever I have to step aside from my “comfort zone,” which is my computer, I get super anxious and nervous, and my system goes into panic overdrive at the littlest triggers.

How Do We Connect to other patients “in The Wild?”

It’s not really polite to enquire about someone’s mental health issues, but I put mine out there, so sometimes people want to know – so far no one’s been rude enough to ask, but here it is. I’m diagnosed as being psychotic, which covers a range of things, but they don’t really know what “it” is.

I suspect, though I haven’t been proven one way or the other, that I have PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, and other similar emotional disorders, due to what I’ve been through to get to this point, and the importance of feeling like I have these things, helps me to organize what it is that I’m going through so that I know how to cope.

Proper diagnosis is super key to mental health issues, but as Allison Gaines mentioned, psychology is a new science, and it’s ever-changing and evolving and can have thousands of factors that go into a proper well thought-through diagnosis. I don’t honestly feel that we’re at the place yet where anyone can say that anyone has any one “thing” all we can really say is that people present with certain symptoms. From my perspective.

What Would Help Patients?

I think more patient advocacy, and I think for that to happen, we need schools of psychology to bring in a variety of people with a variety of different mental health diagnoses to explain their experience. I think that we need. to create a system where we pay patients for their experience because it is their experience upon which psychology is being built.

What would help Doctors?

Several anonymous people might agree, that doctors need to put aside their preconceived notions. What you learn in a book is not going to be exactly what you learn in the real world and if you keep behaving that way more patients are going to continue to get sicker and sicker. You need to be able to ride the wave of medicine while understanding that we’re willing to work with you, we really are, we just want to feel heard.

How Do You Stay So Calm?

I take my medication. I hate that it helps but it does. I never wanted or realized that I would become someone who would depend on medication to save their lives. I tried life without it for a while and it was good, but it wasn’t as good as feeling like I had a solid grip on reality, or on the reality, my friends family, and neighbors are living in.

Also, I smoke cannabis. I try really hard not to smoke too much but I’m not going to lie, cannabis makes it easier for me to function and because I microdose with coffee, I don’t get -too too- high, but I just enjoy the feeling of cannabis ringing through my body, and music helps. Copious amounts of music. But also I talk it out, and I accept that there are probably things that other people just can’t understand.

There are parts of me that I don’t fully understand and do not talk about, and that’s because I’m never sure how others will react, and often times when I tell people something they react badly, so with my mental health, a lot of it is Hulk based – like…I have to FORCE Myself to stay calm, I yell at my mom sometimes which always makes me feel like shit, and I snap at people when I’m pushed. I’m great on my own, I can cry, yell, whatever, but when I’m around other people, it’s not nearly as easy, with or without cannabis.

Consequences of being Disabled

My mom is one of the smartest women I know, and she also happens to live most of her daily life in a wheelchair. But people treat her often like her brain is out of sorts because her body isn’t presented to them the way they think it should be.

So, it’s a lot like that. When you’re disabled by any health issue, people think you’re less intelligent than they are, and they go out of their way to show you, and it’s really frustrating.

It can even be debilitating and for me, it is one of my biggest triggers to my anger and something that I am genuinely trying to work on. I say “I know,” a lot, and I hate that about myself because it’s so dismissive of what people are saying.

I feel constantly the need to impress people with how smart I think I am, and that’s really frustrating because for one part it comes from being educationally bused, and for the other, I really have nothing to prove to anyone.

Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions, I weave a lot of these answers into my regular posting, but it’s nice to have been able to actually put it all into a singular context for other folks.

If you or someone you know is struggling with your mental health or you feel you need to have a disability designation attached to your name please seek help, and remember that one doctor’s opinion is not necessarily a negative. Having a team of people there to help you on your journey will go a long way to helping you get where you want to go.

I have a team, and even though they and I are not always on the same page, I know what they want most is what’s best for me. Advocate for yourself when you have to, and if you can’t ask for help. You’re allowed and no one can stop you.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

If you have thoughts you’d like to add about this post, please leave a message, and let’s talk about them in the comments below

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