Friday, May 31, 2019

Why I Hate Awareness Months

As the end of National Sadness Month draws near, I'm reminded of a distant past known as my own depression. My life would have been very different if I followed the typical road these awareness events encourage because my mental illness wasn't based on 'erratic chemicals' in the brain. I was being eaten alive and nobody knew what was wrong. I hope this story will help you understand that there is more to mental health than throwing your life at a pill pusher and hoping for the best. Sometimes, something is actually wrong and YOU need to fix it.

Around the third grade I started noticing a change in my mood. I was frequently tired, unmotivated to complete homework, and was a hassle to tolerate in school. My parents and teachers were concerned for me, but weren't sure what was wrong. Mental health initiatives weren't utilized in the district my school was in and I was left to hopefully 'grow out of it'.

In the fifth grade, the night terrors came. I never told anyone about them. I couldn't understand why they were occurring but they sounded so ridiculous to me, I didn't know who would believe me if I told them. Almost every night I would be in a panicked state, afraid to sleep. I feared that if I went to bed, I would die in the middle of the night. I would often listen to the radio or have a TV at low volume to remind myself that somebody was still alive, talking to me. This would go on until three or four o'clock in the morning when I passed out from exhaustion. The ordeal lasted six years.

My childhood dog died near the start of my tenth grade at school. Being my only real friend, the loss compelled me to give up on life. None of my school friends cared, even when I cared for them and their trivial companions. I learned that these things known as people couldn't be relied upon. We weren't together in this struggle called life and I need to get away. I needed to empower myself. About three weeks into the tenth grade, I dropped out of high school.

Don't worry, the story is almost over. During another late night bender, I noticed on the TV a man named Kevin Trudeau. He was advertising his book about natural cures and how you can take simple things to fix ailments. As anybody desperate for help would do, I wrote down everything he would tell the audience to tease the value of his book. I tried some of them such as drinking vinegar for heartburn, and it worked.

I ordered the book and read about the wonders of Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy. Unknown to me at the time, most bottles of hydrogen peroxide have toxic material that can cause a heart attack, so I recommend you don't go to your local drug store if you have similar symptoms. I drank a cap full of the peroxide and had to use the bathroom right away.


I was struggling to excrete some brown material from my backdoor and used my finger to try and pry some of the stuff out. When I took my finger out, I noticed something unusual. Something white was wiggling on top of my finger. It was a pinworm. I'm guessing I caught pinworms from neighborhood cats in the third grade and they have been with me for all these years. But hey, I finally see them. I see a potential solution. Maybe these things are the problem.

I gave myself an enema with about half of the hydrogen peroxide bottle. I must reiterate, this was a bad idea. About 30 hours of being on and off the toilet, I stopped pooping worms. I felt relief and a sense of calm I never felt in over a decade. I went to sleep that night without a struggle. The night terrors ceased and haven't returned. It has been thirteen years since that day.

Now wait a minute, what does all of that have to do with Awareness Month events?

While no one knew what was wrong with me, several family members were told what was wrong with them. ADHD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder: name a mental health issue and they suddenly had it after going to the doctors and requesting mental evaluations. I had four cousins and an uncle diagnosed with different ailments and I got to watch first hand the effectiveness of the drugs they were instructed to take. They still ate the same terrible food and had the same problems. Not once were they told they should try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Their problems were treated as a nuisance that goes away with magic drugs. They weren't responsible for anything and their illness was a freak accident.

I got physicals from doctors, check-ups for blood pressure. None of them could tell I had an intestinal infection and I would probably be on the same meds that don't work for my problem if I sought the doctors out for the purpose of mental health. Be careful with seeking advice about mental health because the common solution may not be the real answer. I hate these public service announcements for they have a higher chance at leading people astray.

It is hard to not cry for what happened to those family members and I can only imagine how widespread misdiagnosis has become over the years. Please be careful with how you treat yourself and especially evaluate the advice you are given. You don't always get a second chance to correct a mistake.


  1. Excellent article Mr. Swingle. I'm proud of you sharing this with everyone! :)

  2. This is incredible. You really are one of the few people that can change the way I think.


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