Family Therapy With Dr Velvet Thong

artificial intelligence - 10/2020

Artificial Intelligence

Dr Velvet Thong, Blinky, Okti and Velvet are in the process of drafting an apology to Don Quixote's family, as well as to Australia and the entire planet. We're sorry for trying to colonize you with our memes.

Dr Velvet Thong: Let's try to sort this mess out, if we can.

Velvet: A little more than two months ago, Don Quixote's family sent a message that I perceived as an attack disguised as a book, a tea towel, and a birthday greeting. I fought back by sending an email, and asking that we have no further communication. They accepted my wish, but the message itself was not something I was able to shake off in a day.

I asked that we have no further contact because the ideas expressed were what I had thought would have been conveyed in email if I had allowed it to all play out in slow motion. I had 'guessed' or speculated correctly. I asked for no further contact because I knew I wouldn't have a chance of stopping drinking while we were emailing. I wanted to at least have a chance.

Okti: I have so little power, but it feels like all of Australia hates me.

Blinky: I've crossed oceans of wine to make it to this session.

Dr Velvet Thong: Family therapy exists because many families have communication problems and because family members have trouble understanding each other.

If there is a problem, it is best to speak directly to the person/s involved. However, I believe these are special circumstances, and that it would be harmful for you to do so at present.

Okti: I am wondering if all of this could have been avoided if 30 years ago in family therapy we had received some guidance regarding how to handle the social awkwardness of my condition.

Dr Velvet Thong: When you received a POOR prognosis and were granted disability, they were saying you were a hopeless case. It took about a year to make that assessment, including a two month hospital stay. After that, they knew you didn't have the psychological infrastructure to join society. You had known it before the process began, but you weren't the one with psych training and degrees.

What they knew that you didn't was that you were in for a lifetime of horrifying struggle. They knew you were likely to face judgment and shunning, social isolation, poverty, homelessness, abuse, physical ill health, addiction, institutionalization, suicide, and that as you got older (if you got older) it would get worse.

Blinky: When I meet people now, it's like I have to go through a version of that assessment process with each of them. They might have prejudices regarding mental illness, addiction and body image issues, and they might not have conscious awareness of these prejudices, or in which ways they have absorbed or accepted incorrect or incomplete information.

Okti: Many people are genuinely kind and want to help, and I don't want to go through the long, stressful process of elimination before they finally feel cheated, disappointed, or angry, or before I have to make them feel better about how bad my situation is. It's difficult to know how to explain to people that the experts didn't think it was possible to build the infrastructure, because then we go through the first things that occur to most people - that psychology is rubbish, or, you met the wrong practioners, you can't give up on people in those ways, all you need is love, or a kick in the pants, etc.

Blinky: I'm not sure, but although it seems likely such cases also exist in Australia, Australia's way of handling them, even if amongst the doctors themselves they admit there are hopeless cases, is to pretend it's not true, and just medicate and institutionalize such people or let them make a 'choice' to live on the streets. I find the idea of extended, over-medicated, psych hospice care for the rest of my life abhorrent.

Velvet: All of the attempts I have made to give myself some relief or to connect with the world in my own ways end up being interpreted in ways I can't relate to.

Okti: It's been 20 years. I can't give Don Quixote's family any more of my time. I can't trust that there is the potential for the understanding and validation I crave. At this point, there isn't trust on either side.

Dr Velvet Thong: They lack the psychological infrastructure to understand why you lack the psychological infrastructure to join society, or participate in a family.

Although steps have been taken toward equality, Australian society isn't completely equal when it comes to race, cultural background, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability, but to prove one's value, it is now necessary to demonstrate qualities that reflect Australian Identity. Work hard or smart, give back to the community, give to others, be loyal to family, don't complain (everyone has problems), be responsible enough to seek help if you need it.

If you have a personal website that represents a lifetime of experiences, difficult thought, creativity, and effort, it won't be considered a contribution if it is interpreted as one long, selfish, self-absorbed whinge. It would be considered cruel to put down a person with quadriplegia for needing to use a wheelchair, but still not bad form to criticize an apparently able-bodied person whose unaddressed trauma prevents connection with the world.

Okti: This situaton became another version of an original trauma that all my life I have kept trying to avoid.

Velvet: Trauma, and re-traumatization, occur when a situation is left too long, resentments and misunderstandings build, and then finally explode, and unfortunately it's like I become the scapegoat for all of it.

Blinky: With Don Quixote's family, it wasn't possible for me to make a clean break early enough to avoid the later catastrophe.

Okti: It is a tragedy of errors, in which we have all contributed to the mixed messages, bad timing and good intentions gone awry that led to escalation.

Blinky: Don Quixote's family's beliefs are at odds with my identity, and contact with them isn't helpful in my ongoing struggle. There isn't a nice way to say that. I don't have a strong enough sense of obligation to family or society, or enough basic trust, to want to continue to interact.

Velvet: I can accept that we have different beliefs and I can't change theirs. I can see the ways in which they are intelligent, good people. I know that people are formed by diverse and complex influences and experiences, as well as the interactions amongst these influences. Sometimes we can agree to disagree, and sometimes we can't.

Blinky: I see that it's natural for them to attack me, because they felt attacked. They'd have been content with small efforts on my part to participate, and I've been trying to help them understand why that is not possible, or positive for me.

Okti: I wanted to be understood, and like most humans, I wanted to be loved. Both were off the table. Without understanding, I don't trust love.

Dr Velvet Thong: When you can't trust family, society, or institutions, you feel you have no choice but to come here. This is your church, your support. This is not backstabbing. Others who are isolated might not relate to your experiences and assessments, but you are trying to contribute something to the discussion, in the only ways you see possible.

Velvet: When I originally met Don Quixote's family, I often had the feeling that I was being judged. I tried to just accept it and focus on how lucky I was to be in Australia. I didn't plan to live very long.

Blinky: As time went on, things felt more uncomfortable to me, especially considering I had a public website in which I explained my state of mind and behavioural dysfunction. They never tried to bring it up, and it seemed to me they were ignoring it because they found it distasteful.

Okti: It was extremely difficult to even broach the topic, and eventually it felt to me that I needed to. It seemed like there were so many layers to the situation, and walls upon walls preventing access to the necessary data for interpretation.

Velvet: I understood they didn't like what they considered the superficial and meaningless aspects of modern life. Social media, fast food, beaches, gym bodies, television, fashion and makeup, anything populist. They seemed allergic to any sort of Drama. What I was trying to assess was the extent to which they believed I fit any or all of these categories or groups. I didn't know how to even begin the conversation.

Blinky: Some of my frustration regarding this began to appear on my site. I was mostly trying to challenge prejudices, but I was doing it blind.

Velvet: I'm not confused about it any more. It was very tricky getting to the beliefs through the layers of politeness and propriety and familial obligation. It doesn't seem likely to me that the unconscious beliefs about character or mental illness and addiction will change any time soon. I can't hang in there any longer.

Dr Velvet Thong: Until Authority of some kind (those who work in Psych professions, for example - that is, those with more credible credentials than mine) backs you up, I don't think hearts and minds are going to change. You may have to accept that even if their hidden beliefs regarding mental illness and addiction change, they will still be within their rights to think of you as someone who is mentally ill, an addict, and a bad person.

Blinky: I'm not saying I'm worse off than the people all over the world who are suffering painful and debilitating physical conditions, or who have more serious skin conditions or deformities, or that people with comparable pain should want to die. I'm saying that I am unable to bear my level of personal pain. A lot of the people in horrible circumstances do not have a voice. They might exist in a kind of isolation I don't, they may lack resources or physical strength. I think if we knew more about the numbers and severity of types of suffering, it might help us act to give people humane options. I don't believe everyone would choose to end their lives, even if they are suffering severely. A lot of people believe it's shameful to let others know they are in pain, and the reactions I've received confirm this - there's a lot of pressure for me to just shut up and go away.

Velvet: I know that people with physical conditions are likely to be considered first. I understand that and am not complaining about it. I just want to be one of the ones who is campaigning for the rights of those with unbearable psychological conditions, as well. I'm putting my vote in early. The problem with actual ongoing or regular 'campaigning' relates to the severity of my particular illness and lack of psychological infrastructure. I'm doing it in the only way available to me, using the tools in my particular environment that are available to me. If someone tells me I'm doing it the wrong way, it seems like they're missing the point.

Okti: I don't like going out into the world, because I feel judged in every possible way. I know that I can get away with brief interactions, but conversation is never far from a problematic question.

Velvet: My website was only originally meant to be up long enough to attract a partner for a suicide holiday. It became an ongoing suicide-note-in-progress, as well as an ongoing ROARSCREAMHOWL.

Blinky: We can break off relationships that aren't healthy for us, and we can outgrow friendships, but we have to maintain ties with ex-inlaws we don't genuinely connect with? All of the current mess could have been avoided if we all weren't so concerned with politeness and obligation. It wasn't one-sided. If we're honest we will all admit that we weren't generally interested in each other, and we didn't genuinely connect.

Velvet: I can't trust that finally now I've written something they understand and it can all work out, or that either of them has genuinely positive feelings toward me. I've given the situation 20 years. It's not a case of having dished it out and not being able to take it now. I've been taking it for 20 years. I have exchanged enough communication now to be able to identify the 'process of elimination' or assessment I'd have to go through. I opted out. Rather, I speeded it up.

Okti: I think it's likely that my lack of participation at times felt hurtful. Human beings need feedback. I've always felt sorry about the possibility of having hurt them in this regard, and I was genuinely grateful for some of the practical help they gave. I had no framework for explanation. I had to know what their beliefs or feelings were before I could try to offer an explanation. They didn't expect reciprocation in the ways some others might, but I think they expected more than what they received. I was depriving them, and they were depriving me, of necessary feedback.

Blinky: Gifts of food triggered addiction issues, as did the prospect of any social gathering. The public perception is that those with bulimia are silly, they cheat, and that they hide their behaviour. I have been completely open with two long-term partners about all my behaviour, and they've developed an understanding of what the eating disorder is or was, including how serious it is, that their families haven't. I didn't ever fear that I would binge in public or feel the need to purge after. After a social gathering, once home, I'd have weeks of breakdown bingeing. This all became more complex once caffeine and alcohol were part of the mix.

Velvet: I couldn't ever look forward to or enjoy social interaction, because it was always about trying to be considerate enough not to involve them in my silly problems, and it was about knowing the disruption to my usual life would likely have repercussions. I was almost never in control. I was in constant distress regarding my inability to cope with the very basic task of self-nourishment, and social occasions increased the level of chaos.

When family members don't live in the same city or state/province, how do you stay in touch when one member is so ill they can't use a phone, make it to occasional dinners, or deal with posted gifts or handwritten letters, and the other members of the family have made comments to the effect that email is an inferior, impersonal, superficial form of communication?

Dr Velvet Thong: When you know most people would think of this as utterly ridiculous, and would expect you to snap out of it, it gets harder to motivate oneself to socialize at all.

And even if they try to keep things open, and give you time, and say if there's anything I can do, let me know, it is scary when you know they don't really perceive the severity of the situation, and when you know there isn't really anything they can do.

Velvet: There was a more serious underlying issue. I knew, and Don Quixote knew, that what I wanted was to meet a new partner and go on a suicide holiday. Yes, I could try to discuss environmental, political or social issues, I could have discussed books and films, but I was constantly aware that I wasn't really 'there' in any social gathering. I wouldn't have been authentically participating. I didn't want to try to build a network to life. I wanted help leaving life.

Blinky: What I wanted was for them to understand that I am trying to explain to the world what it is like to live with a poorly understood condition. If they don't agree with my findings, or don't like or respect my method of delivery, we can decide that it's better for our collective mental health to cease contact.

Dr Velvet Thong: You need people on your side who get what you're saying and genuinely support you.

Dr Velvet Thong: Go New Zealand!!!

Velvet: When it comes to euthanasia, it's a definite step forward to have a referendum like the one in New Zealand.

Dr Velvet Thong: There's still a long way to go.

Velvet: I can get involved in a diverse selection of Australian stories and root for the heroes and feel sad for the losses and understand the messages. I can perceive a lot between the lines, too. It's just that I don't see any realistic way for me to connect in Australian society.

This does not mean that I want other mentally ill people and addicts to give up on that possibility for themselves.

Dr Velvet Thong: Maybe you should seek help.

Blinky: If I already know I'm supposed to contact a GP to set up a Mental Health Plan and my distress relates to not trusting that can work, and not having the psychological infrastructure to uphold my obligations of making and keeping appointments, then 'reaching out' to Lifeline seems likely to result in the kind of confusion that occurs when I've tried to contact phone/internet companies.

Dr Velvet Thong: If your issue doesn't fit onto the drop-down menu, you might find yourself in an endless frustrating loop of having to explain from scratch over and over, as they keep finding more and more respresentatives who can't understand what you're saying or who are not prepared for your unusual issue.

Blinky: When I was in a large public hospital for a week, and explained my situation to many people, it was extremely difficult to get any kind of psych consult or appointment, either while they had me there, or after, and in the end I had to give up because of Covid-19.

Okti: A person who has been isolated for almost 40 years had trouble getting help when asking for it directly, and asking repeatedly. I think this says something about mental health in Australia.

Dr Velvet Thong: It could be that you were supposed to call Lifeline, because maybe all psych services in the country are hooked in to Lifeline. You had a serious accident and couldn't get psych help in a major hospital, but possibly if you had called Lifeline they would have:

1. Assessed whether you were a danger to yourself or others, and taken appropriate action (putting you in hold), depending on level of risk, as well as available beds. It seems like at present there is a shortage of spots, for those who are violently mentally ill, as well as for those who would harm themselves.

2. Suggested a shelter, depending on what beds were available, or suggested abuse, neglect or substance abuse counselling.*

3. Let you talk it out, if that's what you needed to get through a bad night.

4. If you seemed open to considering it, suggest you contact your GP to set up a Mental Health Plan which may consist of 10 sessions of CBT and some group therapy sessions. There are some conditions or circumstances for which you might be eligible for more.

5. Suggest you reach out to someone you trust in your family, a friend, a priest, a nurse, etc, and that you try to take care of your physical health, by eating well, remembering to get enough rest and exercise, stay away from drugs and alcohol, stay connected to the community, including to an online community or support group.

Velvet: It sounds reasonable, except that I can't imagine it working for anyone who is already too far out of the system.

I'm not even able to deal with email any more.

*I did recently hear of where you can chat online or email, and this sort of option might be better for someone like me. However, I think in my case the situation has been left too long, and I don't really want to talk now. I'm now too ill to even try out this option. I'd ask that this be factored in when assessments are made about how 'evil' it is of me to post these transcripts. Without my website, I have no connection with the outside world. I have no voice.

Blinky: I suspect that in calling anyone and trying to tell my story, it will all come back around to bureaucratic platitudes about how the system will support me to 'get my life back' if I do my part.

In online support chat, I think the aim would be to help me get through rough nights, and see if it's possible to connect me with any resources that might reduce the amount I drink or give me breaks from drinking. I'd want to have the opportunity to seriously discuss end of life options, and I doubt this would be acceptable, and I'd quietly go away, to free up my spot for someone with a more 'positive mental attitude'.

Okti: My original family was not a healthy family. I don't think a family that can attract a person like me into it, and ignore the level of suffering expressed (for one year, let alone 20), is a healthy family. I don't think everything was fine in that family before I came into it. However, they didn't have a framework for communication, either. There are suggestions online about how to talk to depressed people, but not regarding how to talk to someone in a situation as extreme as mine, or even how to identify a situation as extreme as mine.

Blinky: I had already been isolated from society for about 18 years at the time I met them. They inherited a problem my family ignored, and they went on to ignore it in similar ways, and I was the one who had to try to get through the impenetrable wall of politeness and propriety.

Dr Velvet Thong: Again, I think decent societies should recognize that any person should have the right to decide if their quality of life is acceptable or not, and that humane end of life options should be made available, and that this should not be limited to those with terminal physical illnesses. We don't ask to be born.

We should have the right to decide if we accept the Terms and Conditions that go with Life.

Okti: I am not repeating this to be annoying. I'm not sure if Don Quixote's family have ever fully accepted my pain as valid. I think they believe I can choose to be responsible, or that I can tell them, step by step, what to do and say. It's more complicated than that because I know it's unreasonable to tell people their beliefs are an obstacle to any authentic solution, or that untangling those beliefs is going to be astronomically difficult, partly because it seems like most of Australia shares those beliefs and will back them up. Ten years ago, I might still have been game to try, but I'm not now. I see this as learning how to set limits for myself.

Velvet: In email and on my website, I called them out. I tried to uncover and make them own their prejudices against me.

Blinky: Don Quixote doesn't know how to articulate my situation well himself, and often I've felt scared when listening to him do it, but it's possible his unconscious understanding of it is starting to trump ingrained familial and societal beliefs. Or, my sickness is making him sicker. At any rate, in this most recent debacle, he took my side.

Okti: His family sent literature which triggered associations with a seriously traumatic incident from my past, and has also seemed to trigger PTSD nightmares again after they had lessened in frequency some months after my hospital stay. My self-isolation was ignored in my own family for too long, and then an escalation of tensions resulted in me being sent to a horrifically bad psych ward, with my father having done no research into the matter, and not knowing the stay and his violent anger and misunderstanding would traumatize an already traumatized person further. I felt like Don Quixote's family were sympathizing with or supporting my family, as well as their misunderstanding of me.

Velvet: Perhaps I was seriously misreading the situation, but I felt waves of anger and hatred coming from Don Quixote's family. I felt they (or at least one of them) believed I was a horrible person, and that they deeply resented having to deal with me. It seemed to me that they might be feeling social pressure, that if others they knew observed the situation with me, they might think of them as a 'bad family'. And I felt they were trying to say to Don Quixote that we need to get together and do something about this situation now, and that they were trying to get him to be the one to have me 'assessed' somewhere, or to get on me to 'get my act together', or 'grow up'.

Blinky: I perceived the kind of anger coming from them that in the past I have associated with loss of all power and rights, and the negation of identity, as well as the feeling that no one in the world was on my side.

Velvet: It felt to me like they were, whether they understood it or not, using mainstream Australia's prejudices regarding mental illness, addiction and body image issues against me. It felt like I was being ganged up on. They support authors who perpetuate outdated ideas and prejudices regarding all of these issues. They pay money to buy copies of books not only for themselves, but for others. They used their status, and the status of paid authors, to beat me, a person of zero status, down. They reduced all my previous communication down to useless or malicious intelligence and poor character.

Blinky: I had explained in the past that in some of the literature they sent, stigma and misunderstanding regarding mental illness were reinforced, and this time, they sent a book with a wider range of stigma and misunderstanding.

Velvet: I've already expressed that I feel the world is against me and that I experience a feeling of persecution that others may dismiss as unfounded paranoia.

Okti: It's perhaps unfair that if they send a gift as innocuous as a tea towel with cute endangered Australian animals on it, I suspect it might be a personal message meant to suggest it's worthless or irrational to help Common Brushtail Possums or Common Ringtail Possums, who don't need our help. Or, that it might be a 'survival of the fittest' jab, directed at me, regarding comments I've made about unhealthy competition between us.

In the past, all messages were signed with 'love', and this one was not - it was signed 'from'. And never before has Happy Birthday Grey Monk exclamation point ever appeared, and so I suspected it might have been facetious. Birthdays are usually avoided altogether, and Don Quixote doesn't even know the dates of birth of most family members, so I've never known them.

Velvet: I'm still ruminating on it. I am able to think and write my way through it. It's still taking a lot of my effort. The way I'm thinking about it is that it is therapy, and I have to 'do the work', to try to understand them, and my own reactions to this situation. But it becomes more difficult to find the difference or distinction between understanding what I really want, and feeling pressure to rid the planet of myself for the good of everyone.

I do not wish the stress I've felt over this situation on them.

Contact with them, even when they try to be kind, ends up with me thinking that what they are really saying is that I'm worthless and fundamentally unlovable, whereas what I think I'm saying to them is that they have prejudices that could potentially be changed.

Blinky: I'm trying to say that some incompatible beliefs relating to identity can be dangerous, but maybe I'm missing the mark. I think it is valid to point out that sometimes people believe harmful things, and sometimes whole societies can have beliefs that are difficult to challenge. Maybe in some circumstances, the best thing is to concede irreconcilable differences, when incompatible beliefs are psychologically harmful to the individuals involved.

Dr Velvet Thong: I know there are people who work in mental health who are very kind and compassionate, and some have an instinct for the work others never will, but the policies and protocols will have been created by those who represent the interests and agendas of the governing bodies, and the resources allocated will also depend on these same governing bodies.

Velvet: When Don Quixote's family sent their message, I feared they were going to try to involve the Professionals, when they don't know how the system works, and that it's not likely to help someone in my position. I felt they were trying to get Don Quixote to be the one to have me committed or held for assessment. I even suspected that if I refused to 'do my part', mainstream Australia would understand they'd be right to distance themselves from me, and that they wanted that validation.

Okti: I think they believe people have the right to self- terminate if they so choose. However, it feels to me like they are frustrated I don't just shut up and do it - that they think a person of character, or someone who really wanted to die would have done it by now.

Velvet: I emailed to let them know that after all I had expressed previously what they sent felt like hate mail, and to say I don't want any further contact, that I'm no longer undecided.

Blinky: I haven't had any more direct contact, and I don't want any. Don Quixote phoned them and expressed that he supported me in this matter, and his sister said she apologized and that I was right to see it as I did.

Okti: I have no way of knowing if an apology was sincere or facetious. There was nothing to indicate that anything could or would change. If after 20 years something like this could be sent, it shows there's an issue big enough that it's not going away overnight. However much was about conscious vs unconscious intent, I think the fact something like this could be sent after all I've explained proves that the prejudice I have perceived is there, and it proves that I am not understood.

Velvet: I am living out the poor prognosis in slow motion and it's not fun. I think most people would give up trying to explain, and would have quietly gone away, taken down their website, and it is for that reason that I need to leave mine up, so that another view is seen, one that might be suppressed or beaten out of everyone else.

Blinky: I know I don't speak for all of those who suffer from mental illnesses, addiction, and body image issues.

Dr Velvet Thong: I know it's hard, but it's about trying to learn to think about all the layers. People with a certain mental illness or addiction in common might have other influences that affect how they interpret their illness, and how it is interpreted by those around them.

Ultimately, families would be aware enough and understand each other well enough to know when one member is suffering and needs support, as well as how to ask for help, before the problem is too huge and intractable to solve, and before the inhumane dismissal of identity leads a person who feels like a trapped animal to start lashing out.

Velvet: In Australia, I don't trust the approach to psychological care, and suspect it's going to reflect the policies and interests of either of Australia's two major political parties.

Dr Velvet Thong: I suspect neither party would have a clue about a holistic or sustainable psychological environment, whatever buzzwords they might throw around, and despite the true kindness and compassion of some who work in the field who do not have the power to override policy or designate resources.

Blinky: If Lifeline is open to all 24/7, you need a lot of volunteers. How do you train so many volunteers effectively? Mental illness is an extremely complex issue.

Dr Velvet Thong: I think Australian Identity includes a lot of ideas that are in conflict with or might prevent understanding of mental health issues. I'm not sure most Australians are ready to accept that mental illness, addiction, weight and body image issues aren't a matter of character or lifestyle choices. If all they have is a vague idea of what these conditions are, and a vague idea that help will help if you fulfill your obligations as a responsible citizen and seek it out, there's a long, difficult road ahead.

Velvet: Even when I've tried to select psychologists, they did not respond to my emails, not to refer me to anyone, make a suggestion, or even acknowledge me as a human being. Maybe there are laws or rules that prohibit psychologists or therapists from contacting me, but I'm guessing more than one or two have come across my site over the years, and not a single one has offered me a kind word.

Blinky: Me, either.

Okti: But it would be something if somehow we managed to influence those who work in the system, even if they never acknowledge our contributions.

Velvet: I do not support either of Australia's two major parties. I think the Greens are too wimpy on euthanasia or voluntary dying (or were the last time I checked). I like The Pirate Party.

Dr Velvet Thong: Yay Pirate Party!

Velvet: Originally, it took about a year for the professionals to observe me and make a decision about whether I qualified for disability. I think they were very careful. They didn't want to make any hasty decisions. I was still quite young, and seemed to have certain potentials. They didn't want to slap any negative labels or stigmatizing personality disorders on me in case anything like that became my 'identity'. They didn't want me thinking like a 'hopeless case', and it was an unfortunate slip on the part of a therapist that allowed me to see that the professionals do indeed think of some people as hopeless cases. However, the slip was made at a time when the therapist thought I was so close to normal there was no way I wasn't going to make it. She was talking to me as 'us', not 'them'.

Dr Velvet Thong: When someone is given a "POOR" prognosis and is put on disability, it means they think that person is a hopeless case. Those who have to give this prognosis probably feel bad. They have studied psychology or psychiatry because they had an interest in the subject matter, and because they wanted to help people.

Velvet: I went through the original assessment process a long time ago, and aside from brief and misleading exceptions, my ability to function in society didn't improve since that time. And now, when I meet people or have contact with people, it's like I have to go through an unconscious assessment process with each of them, and they are people who for the most part haven't studied psychology and aren't interested in it, and who are more likely to accept mainstream prejudices against psychology and mental illness.

Okti: I know many people think I'm selfish for only posting about my issues and not helping other people. I can't manage to get my oxygen mask on.

Blinky: I realize that many people have been mad enough at me to think, 'If you're so smart, you should be able to work it out.'

I've never been trying to prove I'm the most rational or logical person in the world, or that I never make mistakes. I've being trying to get people to recognize that I am able to think rationally and logically, while the behaviour and illness don't seem to make sense. I've been able to analyze the behaviour and illness in rational ways, and I've tried logical methods and plans to address them. I'm trying to get people to understand how bad this discrepancy is for me, and how impossible it is to have a positive identity and self-esteem when I have contact with other people.

Velvet: I have watched movies, television programs, current events and news programs, discussion programs, read books, and I can't see any way out of my personal isolation in Australia. I can see parts of my story or aspects of my experiences in many places, but it doesn't look realistic to me that I can participate in Australian society.

If at the age of 24 I had the option of a peaceful death, I would have taken it, and two families would have been spared the stress and shame of being associated with me, and society would have been spared the negative ripple effects of my self-expression. I would have been spared the endless judgment and the horror of being perceived as something monstrous, evil, or worthless.

I completely support all of those who are fighting for equal rights, and fighting for their own survival. I can't fight for my own survival. I can't believe it's important. It is important for me to fight to be understood.

I don't identify as Australian. I don't identify as Canadian. I don't relate to any of my parents' heritage. I feel like I am one of the displaced and dispossessed people of the world.

Okti: My story isn't going to fit easily anywhere on TV, even with lighting that disguises me. I'd have a problem with anything that required me to have or use a phone, or in any circumstances where I might be photographed or filmed - when most people accept these as normal parts of modern life. This does not mean I don't support many causes or think the fight is over when it comes to LGBTIQ rights or other equality issues, or that I think the refugee crisis is over.

I have received various newsletters over the years from various causes, and I know I do not have the psychological infrastructure to become more involved in these causes. I love possums and other Australian wildlife, but if I have to have ongoing contact with people in order to help them, I don't think I can do it.

And even if a kind word would help indigenous youth, and I don't have to be respectable mentor material, I'm not stable enough, and that instability might do more harm than good to those who need stability and reliability. Who's going to recommend that any young person spend time with a person who believes all people should have the right to turn down the terms and conditions that come with Life?

Father Bob is so popular that if I volunteered to help the 'unloved and unlovely' I probably wouldn't make the cut, even if my drinking didn't prevent regular attendance. I actually tried once to find out about becoming a Lifeline volunteer, but their website crashed, and it was more about curiosity about how volunteers are trained than based on thinking I could do it. I also doubt I could quit drinking long enough to become a sponsor or counsellor, and the drinking would also impact every other type of volunteer work.

Blinky: My illness is now so advanced that I don't think I could manage any email interaction at all, let alone ongoing contact.

Velvet: I considered obtaining an Australian Psychology degree, basically with the motive of exposing the problems in education and in the system, through obtaining the 'correct' credibility. It's bloody expensive, and I know I wouldn't be able to do Skype type classes.

I'm just meandering. I know what I really want and I knew 30 years ago. I'm still just trying to explain to people who don't get it.

I want the Peaceful Pill, Pentobarbital, or something like it. I want it for me, and I want it for the others who want it.

Dr Velvet Thong: Knowing that something like this is available might actually make it easier for Australians and others to enjoy their lives. Many people fear not having choice, control, or dignity, and they fear pain. Their quality of life might actually be better, people might feel more motivated to accomplish life goals if they know it's not all going to end in misery and lack of control.

Velvet: If psychologists and psychiatrists know there are 'hopeless cases', and they also know that a lot of them either won't qualify for disability, or their behaviour is too disorganized for them to be able to stay on it, they should be allowed to ask for this option. Not everyone would take it. I want psychiatrists and psychologists to speak up, and validate that some patients are able to rationally and objectively assess their prospects. I would like them to give me that validation, as well.

Blinky: I know that mastering social media is one of the modern ways to demonstrate adaptability and survival skills. I can't adapt in these ways. The structure is always wrong for me, my life and experiences don't fit the formats or rules, and I've had to create my own structure. It's weird if the structure I've created strikes Don Quixote's family as the same as Facebook. To me, it's a fucking Franken-Facebook, but it's not really an experiment or creation, it's me.

Dr Velvet Thong: Attitudes, beliefs, customs, and laws would have to change, and they probably won't in my lifetime. Without Authority to back you up, I think your experience and expressions will continue to be ignored.

What I would suggest to Australia is that we need more programs, discussions and movies that deal with different types of mental illness, addiction and body image issues, and we need to learn a new language to help people feel accepted in society.

Blinky: In my teens, I could already identify with the 'hopeless cases' in AA's book, the ones who didn't go on to be success stories. The eating disorder was affecting my life in the way that a serious addiction would have. It affected my ability to attend school, maintain relationships and plan for a future. And now it's alcohol, but alcohol is not preventing me from going to school, working, maintaining relationships or planning for a future. If I was able to successfully give up alcohol for an extended period, I would not be able to do any of these things. I have no desire to live.

Okti: What I'd ask people to think about, if they can get over the judgment I deserved it or brought it all on myself by being an alcoholic, is if I am indeed a major whinger, and someone who doesn't know what it is to work or try hard, how the hell did I rehabilitate a trimalleolar ankle fracture with almost no help or guidance? I had a lot of physical discomfort and pain (as well as PTSD), and I had to do the work. I had to be aware and mindful enough of my body and abilities to be able to figure out what to do, and 'strong' enough to ask Don Quixote for the help and support I thought he could contribute. I still had to do the work. It has now been a year since the accident, and the ankle is fully rehabilitated. My guess is that my results are above the norm.

Blinky: I knew in the hospital even when the feeling of trauma was at its highest that the accident wouldn't be enough to result in me being able to stop drinking permanently, and that scared me.

Velvet: The more I feel my website and insights have value, the more the world seems to put me down. It's like that's built in to the program. So, I understand what it means to fight for a cause you believe in.

All through the years there have been times when I have been tempted to take my website down at last, but this time, that didn't occur to me once. Instead, I thought about how others might be so angry they might try to punish me or silence me, and I wondered how well I'd cope with that kind of obstacle. I started to think about as many ways as possible to save or cache my site.

Okti: This situation has affected me in a serious way. I did feel bashed. I felt hated and misunderstood. It doesn't make sense to me to avoid commenting about it on my website, but I am in the position of having to think about my 'mistakes'. If I comment, it comes across as more 'backstabbing' after an 'apology'. I need to comment in order to do something 'meaningful' and that shows 'character' in standing up to prejudice, misunderstanding and injustice, and trying to help more people understand complex issues, but if I do, I might just participate in continuing a shitstorm, and 'proving' to Don Quixote's family that I lack 'character', if I'm not conciliatory enough, or unless I cave to pressure to let certain things go, for the greater good. It's difficult to find an authentic balance.

Velvet: It is difficult to know what the most far-sighted and genuinely compassionate approach would be, what would ultimately be best for the individuals personally involved, including myself, and what would be best regarding contributions to raising the collective consciousness in a larger sense.

Dr Velvet Thong: Why can't we just understand that we all need help understanding sometimes, and not hold it against each other or ourselves? Sometimes there will not be an authentic solution within the span of a lifetime. Sometimes problems have been left so long that damage has reached a point of no return, or psychological climate change cannot be reversed. Doesn't it make sense to think about irreversible conditions in the psychological environment that might have been unidentified, at the same time as physical climate change?

Okti: There was another situation, over a year ago now, in which something I wrote affected friendships of Don Quixote's. I want to address that in this session, as well.

I thought I was trying to explain something in a reasonable way to his friends, but that's not how it was intepreted. Don Quixote had been an exceptionally good friend to them, but because of something I wrote, and possibly because for some time there had been some unspoken or suppressed resentment regarding me, he was harshly punished.

I apologized as best I could, considering I didn't know exactly what I was supposed to apologize for, and tried to open discussion, but was ignored. I don't like the way they have treated me, or Don Quixote. I think they are the ones who owe him an apology, but I'm going to leave it up to the three of them to sort it out.

Okti: I would like Beany to know that I was thinking of her on her 50th birthday, and that I honestly wished for it to be a happy one, and that I sincerely wish for her to feel happy and fulfilled in her life.

Velvet: Can I find some way this time to better care for myself, or not let myself be controlled by aspects of life that are beyond my control, including the feeling I am hated for a problem I have tried and been unable to solve?

Dr Velvet Thong: Originally, you felt satisfed to have come up with the whole 'psychological infrastructure' thing and wanted to keep this entry as brief as possible when you came back to it.

Velvet: I think I'm always over-explaining. When I don't get enough feedback, or I get feedback like the kind I referred to here, it makes me feel I haven't been clear enough, when in reality the problem probably is the lack of psychological infrastructure.

Dr Velvet Thong: I don't think there was anything anyone could have said or done. You had to understand the belief systems better in order to be able to ask questions and communicate with his family, and his friends, and by the time you understood enough, you knew there wasn't an authentic agreement to be had, and you'd made the situation worse. Because it had dragged out for 20 years with the family, you weren't able to guide all the repressed tensions and resentments efficiently, or calmly enough, and in the end, the conclusions reached weren't fun.

Velvet: Until those with Authority and power can offer people like me some kind of support or validation, the people in our families and in society might not ever understand, and might suffer themselves as a consequence of our suffering.

Blinky: In the year since the accident, I have asked Don Quixote for his help in different ways. When I went back to drinking, I kept trying to re-focus and stop again, and I would sort out the motivation and possible triggers with him. I wanted to find the right balance between doing things for myself, and asking for his help in making the environment and atmosphere as conducive as possible to a long run without alcohol.

Okti I think it's taken a toll. While there has been some success with this method (approximately 3 months sober, 9 months drunk, in total in the year since the accident), in the longer term he might come to feel as disheartened as I have over the years, or he might need to disengage, for his own survival. I think it's possible he might eventually side with his family, and society.

Xesce: I think now if I were to have contact with people, I'd want to try in all situations to be open about where I stand, about what I consider my real name, about self-isolating for almost 40 years, about addiction, about not having a paid career, about my writing, about wanting to move out of Don Quixote's house, about not relating to my 'natural' appearance, and not seeing any place I can fit into society, and about wanting the option of Pentobarbital, without feeling pressure to hide for the sake of social comfort, and without risking I'm going to be sectioned for my own good, or 'safety'.

It's natural that people ask questions to get to know each other, but I can't deal with any of the familiar roads and journeys into stress any more.

If you're going to go around saying the solution you want is Pento, obviously people are going to have questions and are probably first going to assume that if you're depressed, you are not capable of rationally assessing your situation or prospects, maybe you can get treatment, or maybe even they themselves can help. In that regard, I don't want to have to individually answer to people. That's what my site is for. I don't have the energy now to keep trying to help anyone understand through a customized communication.

New Zealand showed us it is possible to have a referendum on euthanasia, now, not later. I would be grateful for even small steps forward, for all those who are suffering with no way out, and currently no voice, even if I never get to avail myself of those services.

If you want to help, you can vote for those who support euthanasia and voluntary dying, and when you get together with people, you can discuss in what circumstances you would like to have the option of support in dying, and in what circumstances overall you support it for others. You can discuss whether you support this option for people with psychological conditions.

The more open people can be about death and end of life options, the more likely it is that this issue can move forward.

I'm not saying I believe in hopeless cases. What I'm saying is that factoring in all current treatment options, resources and realities, there are times when a person can know they don't want to continue, and they would choose death. Mental illness does not necessarily preclude the ability to assess one's situation and prospects in a realistic way. It should be up to an individual to assess if quality of life is high enough to continue living.

While I'm still alive, I don't expect to connect, but I have more hope for it, and more of a sense of peace, when I don't have to have contact with those whose beliefs or identities are at odds with mine in harmful ways. It would probably help, even in having contact with those whose beliefs contradict or indict my identity, if I thought there were people who understood what I'm saying, and who support me.

When I say I can have peace if I don't have to have contact with people - it's that I don't know if anyone can genuinely like my identity or connect with me. I do think there is a real connection with Don Quixote, with Boo and with possums, but I still feel that I want to leave life.

My accident and hospitalization last year showed me that I do not want to live if I have to face hospitalization again. I very well could have another accident. I don't trust that I can stop drinking. I've been trying to make lifestyle changes for 40 years, and I don't believe I can improve my quality of life enough.

I want Pentobarbital.

Dr Velvet Thong, Velvet, Blinky and Okti have decided that they are not sorry. I'm not, either.

->exile on meme st: a diary