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$50,000,000,000 in Profits
Category: Community News
Tags: Medicine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pharmaceutical industry made $50,000,000,000 dollars in profit last year. Meanwhile 1 in 5 Americans cannot afford life-saving medicines. How is this fair? Can we not lobby for cheaper medicine? Why is healthcare a profitable industry? Doesn't that go against the concept of "helping" others? Of treating others? How can we live in a society that sees patients as dollar signs and still expect the same treatment when everyone in the USA has different economical standards? What is affordable for one is not affordable for the next. And we call this society fair?It is far from fair and time we made a stand. We need to lobby for our rights, which are being walked on and trampled over.

My own way #2
Category: Personal Blog
Tags: health illness mental health my own way healing

The re-evaluation of my life. A strange feeling. Weird energies flow from the gut to the throat, pouring out like so much vomit. A forced re-evaluation of priorities and values, brought on by illness, stress and madness.

 

Previously, my aim in life was some form of success. From writing, or drawing. Not even success as such. I just wanted to earn a decent living from doing what I love. I`m not good at that much, honestly. I`m good at drawing and writing, fairly well versed in the production of alcoholic beverages and decent enough at gardening. I`m also very good at one other thing. But that`s between me and my wife, you filth. Heh. Weird energies from the gut again.

 

My goal was economic independence, an important goal for me. Seems it`s dead in the dust now, these strange pains and horrid lack of energy engulfing me, wrapping me in a web and rendering me – quite simply – too weak to work as hard as I need to, or want to, in order to achieve financial independence. It sucks. Drawing or writing for 60 minutes straight drains me of energy to such an extent that I struggle with the most basic tasks of life the rest of the day. With this as a baseline, it should go without saying that the amount of work needed to suceed in my previous goal is nigh impossible for me to attain. Not to mention the inevitable stress from success. Can`t cope, won`t cope, shutdown.

 

So what to do? I`ve never wanted to do anything other than what I have always done. Or always wanted to do, for that matter. Seems strange, though. This incredible focus on a career, of sorts. There are more important things in life. For sure. And of course. It still does not detract from the fact that I am stuck with this strange feeling of wasted potential, a life not well spent. And as such, I struggle to feel fulfilled. Sitting around wasting time is not my thing: I used to be fairly busy, active, always doing something. Now there is too much downtime, as I need to relax and come to my senses after doing the most mundane tasks. There is an incredibly ugly depression just hanging around the corner, waiting to pounce on me if I am not careful and keep my wits about me. Always on guard, lest I fall into selfpity, or worse, selfanalysis. I had two years worth of severe introspection. I don`t think I need any more at the moment. It`ll do for a lifetime. The extreme fatigue gets worse with depression, as well as the physical pain.

 

Channeling the energy spent on creating outwards, I found calm and relaxation in my family: wife, two dogs. Domestic bliss for a domesticated primate. Interests and hobbies, passions and fascinations that don`t spend my energy-reserves abound, as long as I manage to see them through the thin, lacy veil of depression. I found a renewed passion for homebrewing and gardening last year, as I struggled to regain some control over my perplexed apathy. Some not-too-heavy physical activites that really brighten my day. I can spend long hours conjuring up a new recipe for some strange and beautiful wine, cider or beer. And then there is the joy of the process, when all the pieces of the recipe is at hand and the hard work begins – all the boiling and mashing and stirring and so-and-such. The wait for it all to mature, and the giddiness from the first tasting – a year or so later. It is a true spectacle, a monument to a patience I thought long gone in 2015, when my concentration-span suffered a harsh detour due to a severely racing mind, madness erupting from the chrysalis.

The same can be said for gardening. The smell of the soil, waiting for the seeds to sprout, and later produce fruit. The fantastic feeling of using my hands – doing something, atleast being selfsufficient in a small way. Now, if only I had more room for the plants. All in due time. With patience and persistence, things will fall into place.

 

All throughout this short life of mine, I have loved music. Not playing it – I won`t subject my wife to that torture. It`s probably cause for divorce, come to think of it! I do love listening to music, though. After my illness, I found that those quiet moments where I am able to listen to a record and not do anything else as long as the record lasts are even more important than previously. Taking time to relax – to absolutely relax – is more important now than ever. And music relaxes me in a way nothing else – with the possible exception of meditation – can do. It is a pure, unfiltered drug pouring in through my ears and filling my veins with brilliantine chill, pure beauty.

 

Success is transient. It comes. It goes. It never lasts. Everything eventually passes. With forced and severely limited energy, priorities do shift, values change, what was important before becomes less important in time. I`ll create as I manage, taking my time. And, as such, spent my time on matters that matter. Potential success can suck it. My gut won`t allow it, my fractured body and psyche rendering it unreachable. What`s left to say?@!$%# it. I`m good.

 

- Kim Solvang Andersen, Sandnes, 2018

 

 

My own way #1 Tags: health illness mental health my own way healing

 


Being in a state of complete physiological and psychological burnout is not easy. The immense fatigue is hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it. Stemming from a psychological breakdown starting early in 2015, to which I have previously alluded and will elaborate on at some later point, I spent 2016 and 2017 recovering as best I could. The breakdown lasted until sometime in late 2017, when I finally managed to sleep properly again. Up until late 2017, i had been running on empty since early 2015, averaging three hours of resless sleep each night.

   It should go without saying that this took a great toll on mind and body, and as the recovery proved nigh impossible without proper sleep, I turned to seeking help, comfort and understanding. I then turned to despair when I realised that there were no proper help to be had. Neither during my breakdown, nor during my recovery. What I realised trying to get professional help was that there was noone willing to listen properly – I sought action, practical applications to get me through whatever it was that I was going through at the time, either in the midst of my breakdown, or at the beginning stages of my slow recovery. I received medications and a constant stream of "therapeutical" talk which did little to help. The meds made my sleep worse and my behaviour even more erratic than it were, alien even, as I quickly became someone I was not, due to the medications crackling in my brain making me seek constant action of some sort or other. To combat my insomnia, I was put on stimulants with a chemical buildup, I later learned, closely mirroring amphetamines. Not a wise choice, one would say.
   I spent six months tapering off this medicinal treatment. And another six months still suffering withdrawals and sideeffects. The therapeutical talk did little to help as well, every session being nothing but a rundown of the previous session. I know this pattern too well, having been in therapy for seventeen years. One would think that, after seventeen years, some good would have come of it. Rather than gradually being cured from whatever psychological ailments I might suffer, I was medicated into apathy and isolation, misdiagnosed and treated for several ailments which I did not suffer. Treating the symptoms, not the cause. The assumption being that I could not get better. It seems to me, in hindsight, that all these years of therapy have been nothing but a vicious cycle of symptoms – medication for symptoms – more symptoms – more medications. On and on.

During my breakdown of 2015, there was no help to be gained. My psychiatrist had gone on vacation without informing me. Desperate calls from both my wife and myself to health services rendered nothing. What I needed was instantaneous help. Help in crisis, pure and simple. Nothing was done, nor could anything be done, I learned.
   Hindsight being 20/20, we should have pushed and pushed until they had to render help. But the lackluster response were of a sort so unsympathetic and callous, so cold and clinical and bureaucratic that hope was lost and the willingness to proceed on my part gone the way of my sleep and my relaxation: blasted into dismal and confused oblivion.

   Seeking help from the personal sphere proved difficult as well, as the responses I got were to suck it up, followed by questions about how my wife were doing through all this. The message I received being that the wellbeing of my wife mattered more than my own wellbeing, despite me being in the midst of a complete breakdown where nothing seemed familiar to me. Of course, this did nothing but add a layer of bad conscience to my fractured and fragmenting psyche. Which brought me to a point of absolute despair, come mid-2016, where I wrote something like "No matter what I do, it all turns to shit. I give up." on my Facebook wall. Obviously, I am paraphrasing, as I can`t remember my exact wording. That matters little, though. I got one response, being told to "Not make myself so pitiful". As if this would alleviate my very obvious breakdown. I replied with anger. To which I only received the answer of "I have said what I wanted to say". Not much empathy nor understanding to be found.
   Now, to be clear, I do not consider Facebook a place to seek comfort, understanding or reason, facebook of course being the land of unreason and kneejerk reactions. But at that point in time, I was not thinking clearly. What was clear to me then, however, and still is, is this: my suffering did not matter in the least. The reason for this response was that the "culprit" found what I said uncomfortable, not that I should not make myself "pitiful", but that I should not make this person feel uncomfortable. It was not born out of compassion for me. Better that I suffer in silence, than let this person feel uncomfortable about my state of mind. Or my non-state of mind. Nevermind the fact that my original post was born from despair out of not receiving any support at all; a last and desperate cry for help. This reply proved to me, without a smudge of doubt, that I would receive no understanding, nor support from anywhere. A cynical outlook, for sure, but born from experience and carried ever forward as the weeks and months and years of unrest and lack of sleep carried on, me still being expected to drop everything in my life to rush to the aid of others instead of receiving aid myself.

Fast-forward now, to december 22, 2017. Mind getting calmer, sleep getting better through meditation and the application of antypsychotics, calming my mind a bit. The only medication, I migt add, that has ever worked properly for me. At this point in time, I have been receiving proper professional treatment for some time, after slamming my head into the wall. Had I received immediate treatment during my breakdown, I would have fared way better. Anyhow, I am sitting in the doctors office, completely exhausted, with every part of my body aching, my mind feeling foggy, sluggish, uncomprehending. And I am told that I now suffer a condition of chronic pain and fatigue: Fibromyalgia, which seems to me to be another modern ailment, brought on by stress and societal madness. A catch-all diagnosis for a variety of aches and ills, all different, yet close enough to be caught under an umbrella-term, bunched together and given a name. A name, but no cure. I am aware of the reasons for my current predicament. It is easy to say that this is brought on by my breakdown in 2015, but the truth is that 2015 was the catalyst. It has been building for untold years, repressed anger and fear and confusion brought on by unacknowledged and untreated/poorly treated trauma. My chaos of 2015 brought it all out into the light, and showed me myself to myself, my history and the core of my madness.

Now, this diagnosis brings with it the necessity of re-evaluating ones life. There are no two ways about it: things must change, in order for the mind and body to function properly together. When one wanes, the other follows. Psychological stress brings forth physiological pain, and vice versa – yet another vicious cycle handed me by my psyche. Everything I previously had sought and worked towards had to change. My planned career of art and writing tossed out the window in a catastrophic collapse of my body and mind. I have become unable to work as hard as I want to work on my art and my writings in order to achieve whatever success I might have achieved had I not "squandered" it all by getting ill. Through becoming ill, I have had to take a objective look at my life, my hopes and my dreams, my values and my passions. I have been forced to sort myself and my life out. In many ways, it is a blessing in disguise. This fucking ailment has made me truly seek my own way, to carve my own path through life based on my own values and desires, my own loves and passions, my own interests and hobbies, as well as my own strenghts and weaknesses.

This ramble serves as a short introduction to a series I have entitled "my own way", in which I will ponder my values and wax philosophically on the meaning and eventual goal of my life. Make no mistake: this is written mainly for my own development and healing. I am, however, hopeful that some of what I write might be applicable to the life of others, that someone will find some advice, perhaps even words of wisdom, in my ongoing ramble.

 - Kim Solvang Andersen, Sandnes, 2018

 

 

Night Terrors Tags: night terrors terrors night anxiety fear dread insomnia overcoming

For about a year and a half, I suffered severe night-terrors. I should say a year and a half in my adult life, as I had previous experiences with the beast during my childhood and early adolescence as well, a fact I had almost forgotten about until I once again felt that clammy hand on my throat during adulthood.

I would wake every night in a state of absolute panic and confusion for those eighteen-or-so months. More often than not less than an hour after falling asleep. Confusion and panic would tear through me as I sat at the edge of my bed gasping for breath, covered in sweat, cold and clammy even in the midst of summer.

After some time of this, I developed an intense fear of sleep, postponing going to bed as long as I could, knowing that the grip of absolute terror would choke me once more the moment I fell asleep. The sanctuary of sleep was broken, beat down by an inner anxiety, ripped apart by a beast whom I could neither name nor subdue at the time. It goes without saying that this state of affairs contributed to three years I have dubbed ซmy insomniac adventuresป.

Insomnia is a fell beast which I have battled since my early teens. I was then, and am still, no stranger to tossing-and-turning. However, I usually managed to fall asleep at long last, and thus get some rest between the battles. The exception being, of course, previous aforementioned battles with night-terrors, so far removed from me at that point that I can`t remember when it happened. I can only assume that it has followed me at semi-regular intervals through my childhood. This time I found no rest between battles. It jolted me bolt upright and wide awake every night, rendering my ability to relax in bed impossible, rendering my bedroom a domain of terror, making sleep unavailable, resulting in countless hours awake in front of the computer, counting the dull hours until morning finally came and my wife got up so I could see some semblance of a day beginning.

I remember these slow hours ticking away with fear and trepidation. That horrible tea-time-of-the-soul every night, breaking me down, leaving me too much room to think, and to suffer the crushing loneliness of panic and dread, slowly wasting away into nothing but a trembling ball of flesh and bone, so exhausted by panic and lack of sleep that life became not life, but mere existence, a grey and dull haze through which I could barely see, let alone function.

There was so much time spent in this state of exhaustion and permanent panic that I still feel the effects and consequences, now settled in my bones, tendons and muscles. My body is reduced to an aching lump of clay, a veteran returning from war to find his home devastated by the very forces he fought, despite me having seven hours of sleep every night for about seven months now.

Of course, this state of affairs is brought on by more than just the night-terrors. Night-terror played it`s part, that`s for damn sure. But other factors contributed, which will be examined at some later time.

Healing from this terror came slowly. Gradually. I had to teach myself how to sleep again. How to not fear sleep in order to sleep. The anxiety I felt prior to falling asleep had to be quelled gradually, through the passing of time and me sorting through a fair few issues I had let fall deep beneath the waves of my subconscious, grinding and grinding on these issues as they ground on me, until both the issues and myself were ground down to mere pebbles, with the end result of me being but a shadow of the man I was. Then the slow upwards climb began, gradually rebuilding myself, pebble by pebble, through the tiny area of calm I discovered within myself during this process, until I saw something resembling the man I once was, now refined, better, stronger even than I was before, due to facing the fell beast and emerging victorious, despite it all.

 

  • Kim Solvang Andersen, Sandnes, 2018
The virtue of alcohol (short musings and various thoughts)
Category: Alcoholism
Tags: alcohol virtue pain chronic relaxation fatigue stress psychology medication

 


In a corner of my livingroom, mixed in with my records and stereo-equipment, I have a small, rugged and steadily growing collection of various whiskeys. Straight across from this eclectic collection of ambrosia, there is a small bar containing wine and various spirits, mainly strange german herbal concoctions, meant to aid in digestion and in general provide good health and longevity. I don`t know. I just love the taste of it. Go down four flights of stairs from our apartment, and you will encounter the "winecellar" – a small rectangular room containing my homebrewed beers and wines, as well as a more serious collection of storebought wine, each bottle saved for a special occassion. Of course, as always is the case with special occassions, the special occassion is whenever I damn well please.

These collections of heavenly nectar are growing at a fairly steady pace, ever since I traded partying for relaxation and quantity for quality.

Suffering severe pain and fatigue for about eighteen months left me in a bit of a odd state of mind. Being diagnosed with a severe chronic pain/chronic fatigue disorder, after a lengthy run to-and-from between doctors and psychologists, experts of medication and specialists in psychotherapy, psychobabble and strange, ethereal diagnosis that meant little and helped me less, (especially considering the farcical nature of my various psychiatric diagnosis – all proven to be wrong, then replaced by another, yet another, yet another)  left me in an even stranger state of mind. Of course, my partying days were over. Granted – the partying had been declining rapidly over several years anyways, and given my age I was already dangling from the precipice of this shit ain`t worth the hassle anymore. There are limits, of course, to the amount of abuse a body can withstand. Getting drunk once a week is not exactly abuse, as such, but add the chronic pain and fatigue to the steady decline of my body due to age, and it should become clearer than adamantium-armour that the hangovers would just be getting worse and worse. The morning after, previously treated as a lazy-day, became unbearably painful and clearly the shit really weren`t worth the hassle.

I do love alcohol still, however. The difference now, as opposed to the years of hearty, hardy partying lies in the amount consumed, as well as the reasons for consumption. Where before the desire for intoxication shone, shines now the desire for relaxation and reward.
   Of course, it sounds ridiculously selfcongratulatory to reward oneself at the end of the day for doing nothing but accomplishing simple tasks that everyone does everyday without even thinking twice about it. And that is quite simply because it is incredibly selfcongratulatory.

With my levels of pain and fatigue – and it is incredibly severe – comes the inevitable result: ordinary tasks, however mundane, drains me of energy. With the lack of energy comes the pain, and vice versa. A vicious circle, difficult to break, brought on by years upon years of a personal lack of ability to cope with stress. Piling up tasks, piling up to much of everything and everyone and leaving precious little time for myself to find that center of calm that I desperately needed. The end result of living like this, hiding it as well as I could for reasons unclear to me, for several years were two years where I averaged three hours of sleep a night, and spending my waking hours in a state of near-constant panic. Of course, this could only lead to the inevitable collapse of my body – both my mind and my body turning against me in a great wave, crushing me to the floor of the ocean and squeezing all the air and all the life out of my body.
   These two years marked the end of atleast fifteen years struggling with severe psychological distress, for which I received precious little help and support – instead being severely medicated and left in a odd pseudo-comatose state for several years. That`s healthcare for you. Don`t go to the root of the problem. Don`t heal. Subdue. Bury it under mountains of drugs. Drown the sorrows in pharmaceutical rain. If you can`t see the issue, it ain`t there.

This leaves me in the state I am in, a point in my life where I find it necessary – and of course helpful – to celebrate myself for achieving mundane tasks: cleaning, laundry, caring for my dogs, and so-and-such.
   One single drink, or a bottle of wine shared with my darling wife at the end of the day. Of course, it`s not just the alcohol that causes the relaxation. The alcohol is just another factor in sometghin that is almost ritual in nature: the sound of the cork opening, the pouring of drink into the glass, sitting down and feeling some semblance of calm washing over me and then having a sip and realizing that, even through the layers of fatigue and pain, through the anguish and the torture of my aching joints and muscles, I made it through another day, I did it, and life is, for what it is and despite it all, still pretty damned good.


- Kim Solvang Andersen, Sandnes, 2018

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