I Am Not The Reason

Two years ago, I didn’t know what a “social media influencer” was. I didn’t know a thing about Twitter and I despised hashtags. (I still do!)

Then, an “influencer” used my pain, my blog, my voice, and my influence, for personal financial gain and professional profit. Although I expressed my concern many times, I ignored my heart because I was advocating for suicide prevention and hungry for exposure.

For thirty-four days, I tweeted, blogged, and learned web design and social media hacks, around the clock. After the Twitter influencer launched her campaign on Valentine’s Day, she dropped me and my team. She did it through email but forgot I could read any previous correspondence attached to the forwarded letter she sent me while she tried to pretend it wasn’t her call.

She expressed her concern to her main partner in Australia. She wrote about being upset that I figured out how to link a donation button to the children’s platform I was building, even though it was not officially active. She sounded so greedy as she said,

I don’t think she has any intention to share the profit!

Profit never even crossed my mind. They referred to me as if I were a b*tch on a power trip who needed to “heel” and learn “where I belong.” I wasn’t on a power trip. I was on a trip to empower. They were on a mission to sell things on Amazon.

But I was so lost in feeling like maybe I finally had a purpose; so consumed with trying to make use of the pain in my life that I missed the cries of one of my dearest friends, whom I affectionately call my sister. You would think that would have made me stop. But I couldn’t. I still can’t. Every tweet became about her because I was. still. fighting. for. the. same. cause.

Everything on social media became intentional. That includes the bad moments. It includes allowing the world to see real pain, anger, fear, doubt, and emotion. The gloves came off. I took every social media rule and I broke it. I  took the personal and professional filters and ripped them off.

I lashed out. I spoke out. I cried out. I pushed people away. I believed I was to blame. I did what I had to do to survive, and along the way, I grew to become among the top one percent of social media influencers online. But my loss impacted the lives of everyone around me, especially the girls who stuck by my side. Healing was harder than I ever expected. It remains the hardest thing in my life.

Healing was harder than I ever expected. It remains the hardest thing in my life.

When three more family members died by suicide, the road to healing became harder. I definitely hadn’t gotten there yet when I watched 13 Reasons Why. After thirty-three minutes, I turned it off at this line:

If you’re listening to this, you are one of the reasons why.

Two days later, the guilt was so overwhelming, I felt like I wanted to die. I realized I had been talking about suicide nonstop on Facebook for the entire time my sister had been home following a successful nine-month stint at rehab.

Everything I was shouting was what I feel like failed to do in her life. When I first got the call, I verbally blamed her sister. Her sister blamed me. Her mom verbally blamed a mutual friend of ours. Two of us thought about taking our lives because the weight of the guilt and the blame was so hard. It still is. So is the fight for life.

I wish I could tell Nicole I’m sorry. I wish I could tell her sister that it isn’t her fault. I wish, oh I wish, I could change things. I wish that with all of my heart. But I can’t. I can’t go back and reverse my losses. However, I can fight to save the next grieving heart.

I want you to know where my fight comes from. I know I talk, post, and rant, a lot. Maybe it feels dreadful to you and annoying. Maybe you don’t understand why. This is the reason.

I am a survivor of suicide loss, but I am not the reason. 


Please, sign my petition!

Crushing Medication Is Dangerous

Crushing psychiatric medication can come with serious risks. The way a medicine is dispensed is important. It determines whether or not the patient achieves any therapeutic advantage. It can also interfere with and exploit the adverse effects experienced by the patient.

So, naturally, I was upset when my loved one, an inmate at the Comanche County Detention Center in Oklahoma, told me the jail was crushing the medication of the women who are incarcerated there.

More than eight hundred people are waiting for drug treatment in Oklahoma. Many of them are in legal situations involving the court. Many of them also struggle with mental illness. My loved one struggles with Bipolar Disorder and addiction.

The Office of Diversion Control and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have policies in place which serve to protect vulnerable populations from such practice, including inmates. Oklahoma jails should be upholding the law.

The DEA Practitioner’s Manual stipulates that prescription medications are only to be given in accordance with the directions of the appropriate practitioner who has prescribing authority. Crushing tablets or opening capsules contrary to the prescribing practitioner violates the DEA’s assertion. It also places my loved one and every other inmate at risk. Because my loved one has had bariatric surgery, those risks increase even more. For bariatric patients, the “bioavailability of crushed medication can differ substantially compared to the same medication swallowed whole” (Rosko, 2011).

My friend has been in jail for over sixty days. She just saw the doctor today. On top of battling Bipolar Disorder, she has been detoxing from methamphetamine without any medical assistance. Now, she is starting new medication she has never tried before, and no attention has been given to the fact she had a Gastric Bypass and will absorb the medication at a different rate than most people. Yet, the jail can crush her pills without a written order to do so and consequently place her at risk of psychosis, suicidal ideation, stomach difficulties, cardiovascular problems, and even death.

If she wants to avoid that risk, she will have to ask the doctor to provide the jail with a written order not to crush her medication. It can take up ninety days for them to process her request to see the doctor again. In the meantime, she’s forced to consume the medicine as the jail demands. She waits for a bed. She waits for real help and real treatment. She waits with others who fight serious mental health conditions and who don’t even know their mental stability and well-being are at risk.

Like her bunkmate who takes quetiapine (Seroquel), which is crushed by the county jail. A study in 2008 confirmed a “widespread ‘abuse’ of quetiapine by inmates in the Los Angeles County Jail” (Tcheremissine, p. 740).  Quetiapine has street value and is sought out when other stimulants cannot be obtained. I wonder if workers at the Los Angeles County Jail crush the medication of their inmates without the direction of a physician, too. If so, I wonder if attempts to limit its abuse by way of presenting the drug in the exact way one would abuse it hurts or helps.

A report by Harvard Medical School confirmed that “stimulants used to treat ADHD have some potential for abuse because crushing and snorting (snuffing) them can produce a cocaine-like high” (Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2016). For inmates who struggle with addiction, I wonder how being forced to take crushed medication makes them feel. One might infer, it could and/or would trigger them back to the times they crushed medication while actively using illegal drugs.

It is one thing for Oklahoma to acknowledge that residents have a serious need for mental health and addiction treatment. It is another (completely unethical) thing to know and neglect the fact that those who are supposed to be helping fix the problem are fueling it instead and, in turn, placing themselves, the public, and our loved ones at risk.

It is unacceptable and it is dangerous. It must change. Lives depend on it.


References

Cosgrove, J (2017). Seven things to know about SQ 780, 781. The Oklahoman. NewsOK.com. Retrieved from http://newsok.com/article/5539223

Harvard Mental Health Letter (2006). ADHD update: new data on the risks of medication. Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/adhd-update-new-data-on-the-risks-of-medication

Rannazzisi, J., & Caverly, M. (2015). United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Diversion Control “Practitioner’s Manual: An Informational Outline of the Controlled Substances Act” 2006 Edition.

Rosko, T. (2011). Psychiatric medications and weight gain: a review. Bariatric Times, 8(3), 12-15.

Tcheremissine, O. V. (2008). Is quetiapine a drug of abuse? Reexamining the issue of addiction. Expert opinion on drug safety, 7(6), 739-748.

I Wish I Had Been Abused By Gender Ideology

The American College of Pediatricians announced, “Gender Ideology Harms Children.”

In fact, they labeled families who endorse it or have children who struggle with disorders that might embrace gender ideology as “abusive.”

I’m not a scholar, and I certainly do not write for the American Psychological Association, but I have some expertise in the area. If you ask me, the notion is lacking and dangerous.

As a child, I could have used some gender ideology in my home.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome started causing hormonal imbalance by the age of eight. A disorder that medical professionals and researchers still do not know much about today; a disorder not so uncommon to those who struggle with gender identity or who fall amongst the transgender community.

So, I want to tell you about being abusive firsthand.

Abusive is when a disorder or illness is ignored because of cosmetic ideations based on social and cultural norms. Abusive is watching your child become a disfigured “woman” because medical treatments go uncovered or unattempted.

Abusive is watching your child live so uncomfortably in his/her own skin that he/she cannot look in the mirror, go to school every day, go on a date, attend prom or hang out at the mall with friends, but doing absolutely nothing to change it.

Abusive is a system so concerned with professional (and financial) acceptance that it labels those who struggle with finding themselves, those who struggle with feeling like a boy or a girl, abnormal. Freaks. Sinners. Impure.

Abusive is a system that leaves those who struggle with gender identity holding up help signs in the middle of busy streets while their screams are being ignored!

We had a lot of that kind of abuse in my family. The cuts and the bruises still have not healed.

I wish I had been abused by gender ideology.

I wish I had been abused by controversial perspectives and unorthodox treatment options, instead of a mother who made me feel like a boy. I wish I had been abused by something that gave me a little hope in this darkened world! But I wasn’t.

I was, however, abused by the system. I was abused by religious culture, broken health care policies, and systematic neglect like the American College of Pediatricians just set the foundation for, and I’m writing this today, in case I never get my doctorate, to say this:

We are not all the same, and many of us out there need medical professionals to remember what and who they are fighting for.

Oklahoma cited this research when writing yet another state bill to fight against coed bathrooms in schools. Oklahoma used this research to justify why it is okay that state discrimination and abuse of the transgender and LGBT community continues to go ignored.

I hold the American College of Pediatricians responsible.


Brecheen, J. (2017). SJR 36. oklegislature.gov. Retrieved 14 February 2017, from http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=sjr36

Gender Ideology Harms Children. (2016). American College of Pediatricians. Retrieved 14 February 2017, from https://www.acpeds.org/…/pos…/gender-ideology-harms-children