I began the blog Anne C Woodlen: Notes in Passing in August 2010. It has been read 31,789 times, with 215 being the most in one day. Behind the Locked Doors of Inpatient Psychiatry was begun in November 2010. It has been read 28,371 times, with 444 being the most in one day. Sixty thousand times, people have checked in to read what I write. I take that as a responsibility, like having a university classroom in which one hundred fifty people are going to show up every day, expecting me to teach them something they don’t already know.
It is worth noting that my readership includes a lot of people who are above average. They are doctors, lawyers, communicators and a great many government bureaucrats. They are, most particularly, people who have the power to make decisions about how taxpayers’ hard-earned money is spent. By watching the statistics, I’ve learned a few things about my readers. One is that Notes in Passing is read during the day by people at work. Behind the Locked Doors is mostly read at night by people who work all day then come home to educate themselves about emotional distress, psychiatric treatment, and what works.
Notes is mostly about power, poverty and governance. I didn’t intend it to be. I set out to tell stories about what I passed in life and what I thought about it all now that I was passing out of life. Instead, I found that I still had a few good fights left in me. What Notes turned out to be was a lesson in applied citizenship.
Behind the Locked Doors is about mental illness, patients, psychiatrists and drugs, which is what most of my life has been about. It tells of my beginnings in which my parents taught me to be depressed, continued through decades of drugging and the damage caused thereby, and ended with the lessons learned once my head cleared of the drugs. Depression is caused by bad relationships between human beings; it is not a brain disease in the patient. Drugs make your life worse, not better.
Society has rejected me because I lack academic credentials; I lack academic credentials because I have a learning disability called executive dysfunction. I cannot sort and organize things, however, if you give me a blank sheet of paper (or screen) I can tell you what I have learned from my own experience of being very smart and living a long time. Employers no longer judge applicants by their skills and presentation. Instead, employers have decided to let academia do the sorting, which is foolish. The talents and disciplines involved in getting an academic degree correlate poorly to those needed for success on the job.
One of the reasons I write is because I can do it from my “hospital” (i.e., electric) bed. A couple years ago I still could go out and work three hours a day, three days a week. I no longer can, but I can sit here in bed and think and write. (Stephen Hawking is my role model.) My brain and my mouth haven’t quit, which is really dangerous. Several years ago I got taken out of my wheelchair, handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. Handcuffed—WTF? Duct tape over my mouth—that I would have understood.