Friday, May 25, 2007


May is Mental Health Month ...

In 1989, before I moved from Binghamton to Houston, leaving an editorial job at the regional newspaper to resume study in creative writing, I signed up for therapy with a Ph.D. psychologist, a married man in practice with his wife, also a Ph.D. psychologist. He gave me an inventory called Myers-Briggs. I tested as on the border between ENTP and INTP. Basically, that means somewhere between performance artist (extroverted) and counselor, writer, or teacher (introverted). In other words, my vocational pathing had been on track. We also talked about men: Had I met any good ones, had I had a good relationship with one, was I drinking too much? We decided that my drinking, reduced by my work life and limited to Tuesday nights off at bars, was a little bingey, but not alcoholic. Otherwise, no diagnosis was given. I went on my merry way -- I'd been helping myself to sex with a hockey player before I left town -- when I arrived to gay town, Houston.

In Houston, or at our school, at least, men and women weren't allowed to be seen out together, to eat together, to do anything besides have simple sex quickly, since the men were hoping to marry heiresses, lawyers, and girls nextdoor, the latter plucked directly from classes they were teaching. The women who were my age -- 28 at the outset -- were expected to die young, not to marry; those of us with medium or dark blond hair grew our hair long. There were professions on all sides of my family, and all our old people had lived long and well, all but two never in nursing homes.

At the school there was a beauty pageant in progress, one that lasted four-to-six years. Asian women generally were favored for their beauty. After my first year, following a physical attack by a boy who wanted to be in our school, but who was not in our school, I had a breakdown involving writing that ranged from the sublime to the inane, and that I kept mostly in reserve. At a bad hospital I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That would be difficult enough, but the diagnosing frenzy had only just begun.

I had many Catholic friends, with whom I drank beer, and none of them diagnosed me with anything (God bless Catholics), but Catholics in therapy, unmarried Catholics, divorced Catholics, Catholics in AA (I was a health-quit later) diagnosed me with or sent me to the following: PTSD, sex addiction, co-sex addiction, codependency, alanon, AA, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder -- a partial list (dog-blamed Catholics). Doctors (all except one psychiatrists -- my own uncle is one) had diagnosed me with bipolar 1 disorder atypical, temporal lobe epilepsy, hypoglycemia (past), alcoholism (past), ADD, and panic disorder without agoraphobia.

I take medication for bipolar disorder, and there is cross-coverage should the epilepsy counter-diagnosis have bearing. Besides shouting, emphatically, "Protestant," in my house, I can think of no other way to insist that the people stop diagnosing me and other people randomly with signs of illnesses they suspect. They create a climate of crime, of crime where there is none. I have been suffering as a celibate, when I would not have chosen it, of having no children, when I would not have chosen it, of being unmarried, when I would not have chosen it, and paying infernal fees for "therapists" who demand that I go on more and more welfare, without regard to my basic Human Rights, as outlined in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The gays had an expression, "Off our backs!" The "mentals" as I have begun to call us -- we are related by diagnosis on grounds of religion, economics, including farm backgrounds in our families, profession, literature if any -- need a slogan to regain our human and civil rights. The gays lacked one human right, but made a movement of it. We lacked no rights but were effectively blocked from ours by sicklier people, people whose rights we would not block -- people as we are!

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