A couple of weeks ago, I gave the following speech to a classroom of Occupational Therapy students at Eastern Washington University, to whom my mental health history and medications were relevant. I will be working with three of the students for the remainder of the quarter as a consumer educator. Since I gave the speech, I’ve decided to wait until spring to participate in the writing group mentioned.
May I present…the one, the only…Myra Sue St. Clair Baldwin (that’s me)!
Hello everyone! My name is Myra St. Clair Baldwin. I have a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from E.W.U., am a former AmeriCorps Vista project coordinator for SCC, write for a blog, attend the Evergreen Club, and have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, PTSD, ADD, anxiety, plus chronic fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia and/or somatoform disorder and have chronic insomnia. In the past I had a problem with depression that manifested as sadness and later as anger. I still have issues with anger sometimes from the PTSD, but most people wouldn’t know it, unless they see my Facebook posts in which I lash out at some family members who I believe out of ignorance spied on me and subjected me to psychological torture for suspected drug use (and indeed I had been taking drugs for a few months), as well as suspected malingering. The real or imagined spy operation eventually led to my diagnosis of schizophrenia, which may be a misdiagnosis. I believe family, former neighbors who wanted me out the apartment complex for being a so-called “nuisance neighbor”, apartment management, the maintenance guy, and some family members of my controlling ex-husband were all involved in the alleged spy operation. I actually have a blog named “The Deep End Northwest” which includes a page with posts about the spy operation or schizophrenic episode, named “The Privacy Invasion Collection”, in addition to some pages discussing some leftist-leaning socio-political issues and mass consumerism.
I take Neurontin for Fibromyalgia and anxiety, Prozac for Fibromyalgia and depression, Risperidone to help with hypomania (which I started taking due to the Schizophrenia diagnosis and continue to take for hypomania), Amitriptyline to help prevent migraines, Xanax to help me sleep, Montelukast for hay fever, Flonase & Cetirizine to help with allergies, as well as Thera Tears and some kind of eye drops. Occasionally I take Sumatriptan for migraines.
I am currently attending the Evergreen Club through Frontier Behavioral Health in which I do unit work in the business unit such as working on some of the PowerPoint presentations, Facebook posts, and phones, plus I am involved in committee work. Additionally, I attend social activities with the Supportive Living Program (which I prefer to the social activities at the Evergreen Club) and am receiving counseling through Frontier Behavioral Health, in which we’re going to be focusing on systematic desensitization to prepare me for public speaking, engaging with the greater community, and pursuing a lengthy court battle with the potential for negative publicity as I intend to pursue litigation against my alleged spies. Although I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a couple of counselors at Frontier Behavioral Health and a few friends believe it’s possible I really WAS spied on. I’m extremely terrified of suffering under the stress of a lengthy court battle as well as the stress of any negative publicity I might receive. I also plan to start attending a couple of groups at Frontier Behavioral Health: one for anxiety and one on emotional expression & reflection, called “Rise Up!” based on the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown, PhD and LMSW.
I’m currently working on preparing a case report in which I’ll be sharing my whole story as well as laying out circumstantial evidence to present to a legal team in the hopes that they will further investigate my case and help me bring my alleged spies to justice as well as help me receive substantial compensation for months of illegal spying in my home along with psychological torture as they said a lot of cruel things to me. The alleged privacy invasion lasted for quite a few months.
I am an aspiring writer and speaker and started attending a few writing group sessions on Zoom available through Spark Central Library, a nonprofit library in Spokane. Now the group is meeting in person, and I keep skipping out on it, due in part to my anxiety as the last time I was in group it triggered my anxiety and my muscles got really tense and knotted up.
I plan to begin sharing my story of recovery through the Evergreen Club to civic organizations in Spokane for the Public Relations committee, in hopes that some civic organizations will speak well of us to area businesses, as we need to gain additional transitional employment positions in the community to be in compliance with Clubhouse International standards. This is important because Clubhouse International provides us with our accreditation. Others from the Evergreen Club will be sharing their stories to civic organizations as well. Systematic desensitization, including speaking to occupational students here at E.W.U. should help with my anxiety about speaking and sharing my personal story with others and further help prepare me for the fight of my life in court and in the public arena.
One of the committees I’m on at The Evergreen Club is the Social Justice committee. This provides me with meaningful work, and providing meaningful work is a key component of Clubhouse International, of which The Evergreen Club is part of. Furthermore, I have a history of civic engagement in the community. In the past I helped organize Service-Learning fairs for SCC as an AmeriCorps Vista project coordinator and sustainability-related events for the SCC Hagan Center for the Humanities. I resigned due to severe pain and fatigue, and it was a few years later that I experienced a real or imagined spy operation that left me feeling traumatized and led to my diagnosis of PTSD.
This is how I intend to request letters of support for my case:
Use DEAR MAN (A Dialectical Behavioral Therapy tool) to request letters of support. Offer $40 to friends for their time spent reviewing and responding to my request.
Obtain email addresses and physical addresses of people I’m requesting support from.
Email them the request letter, asking for them if they’d be willing to spend a couple of hours reviewing my case report and write a letter indicating whether or not they believe it’s possible that I really WAS spied on, along with supportive evidence.
Send them the case report if they are willing to spend the time doing this. Offer reward for doing this for me, as it will take a couple of hours or so. Pay them for their time regardless of whether or not they believe me.
If people feel it’s possible, ask them to use talking points, including:
Competencies demonstrated that run counter to a schizophrenia diagnosis.
Recognizing a strong motive for the alleged spy operation.
Specific points addressed in my case report that support the possibility of a real spy operation.
Anything they know about the character of my alleged spies (for those who have met some of my family, for example).
Their credentials, if they have any, and/or their relationship to me.
Schedule a 2-hr session with MJ, Laurel, Stephanie A, Rex, my peer support specialist, and a couple of counselors at FBH who believed I may have been spied on, to review my case report and interview me. Ask if they believe it’s possible that I really was spied on and ask them for letters of support to present to a legal team, along with their credentials.
In the case report, document:
My request letters (showing organized thinking and applied DBT skills).
The letters of support from those who believe it’s possible I really WAS spied on.
My full report, showing the who, what, when, where, and why of it, circumstantial evidence, as well as the history and character of some of my prime suspects.
This is the agenda I came up with based on the SOLVED application, a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy tool for problem solving. My problem is that I believe I was spied and subjected to torture, and I want justice. I discussed this agenda with my counselor, who seemed supportive.
Continue to work on my case report. Demonstrate a motive. Show the who, what, when, where, and why. Examine the character and history of some of my alleged spies.
Work on systematic desensitization with Stephanie A.
Prove my competencies to others and document them in my case report. Look for opportunities to build and demonstrate competencies, especially in the areas of written communication, oral communication, relationship-building, collaboration, organizing, and other tasks. Demonstrate ability to organize thoughts, offer editorial advice (which I did for the EGC self-study), etc.
Presentations for The Evergreen Club (EGC):
Present to the Spokane Homeless Coalition.
Present to other area agencies and civic organizations.
Perform speaking tours for the EGC in which I share parts of my personal story (although there will be parts of my story that I WON’T be sharing publicly).
Consumer Educator Position for the Eastern Washington University (E.W.U.) occupational therapy program (limited, contractual employment).
Publications @ EGC.
Writing group (when I’m ready).
Eventually: Work with Spokane group MAC (first focus on other committee work and presentations for EGC).
Gain competency on speaking both through practice, and by learning speaking skills.
Show my case report to other individuals and ask them if they believe I was possibly subject to a real spy operation. Ask for a letter indicating whether or not they believe it’s possible I really was spied on, including talking points discussing their opinion with supportive evidence. Ask Stephanie A, MJ @ EGC, Laurel @ EGC, Rex @ EGC, Diana @ EWU, Rachael A., Chris Snell, Elaine Terdal, Elizabeth Ross, Orion Moon, Sean McKelvey, Kristen, agencies, reporters, and journalists. Have a sit-down meeting with Stephanie A, MJ of EGC, Laurel White of EGC, Rexanne of EGC, as well a couple of counselors who believed it was possible that I was spied on, to review my case report and interview me.
Collect letters of support.
Show my case report along with letters of support to a legal team and ask that they further investigate by looking into phone calls and talking to people. Ask them if they can hire a psychologist or psychiatrist with a PhD to sit down with me, review my case report and my medical records to determine if they believe it was possible that I was spied on.
Address anxiety about potential publicity by seeking moral support from others. Gradually share more of my story to certain individuals and in group (though asking my group leaders not to document everything I share). Ask agencies that will be sympathetic to my cause for moral support as well if/when my case goes to trial and during any potential publicity via the press and social media that results.
During times of negative publicity (assuming there is negative publicity), reach out to people who have pledged moral support.
Be sure to celebrate my progress including small action steps towards my goal. Post my celebrations on Facebook.
So, the big important thing I’m going to be doing in the next several weeks is – I wish it was abolishing capitalism, but no, that’s over my head – is preparing a document to present to a legal team that makes a compelling argument that my privacy rights were violated, that I was put through psychological torture, and that I was a victim of a hate crime. Putting this document together and preparing to speak to a legal team is anxiety-inducing, so I’m going to be working with therapists and am going to try what’s known as “systematic desensitization.” I’ve already started the process of desensitization by sharing parts of my story publicly on Facebook and on my blog. I’m also participating in a public group outside the safety of the mental health community, though I haven’t shared a lot yet with them about my personal story, but it is a writing group, and I will be writing about myself, and sharing parts of it. I ended up in pain from the anxiety last time I was in group, and I’m going to have to embrace some physical pain as I expose myself to triggers. So long as I understand what’s causing the pain, so I don’t freak out about the pain and end up in extra bad pain from health anxiety, I’ll manage. And I have Xanax I can take when it gets really bad. If I get the publicity I’m pursuing, I could end up in severe pain for a few days when news breaks out. But I’ll have supporters I can lean on. I can call First Call for Help if I need to. I can take Xanax and practice coping techniques. I’ll be learning and reviewing lots of coping strategies in the next several weeks as I plan to attend group therapy at Frontier Behavioral Health. So, I will be arming myself with solid steel armor. And I will be taking lots of busy breaks to distract myself from all of this as well. What I won’t be doing much of is resting as that just increases my anxiety because I spend my resting time thinking and overthinking stuff, which really isn’t restful at all. Sometimes I sleep well, and sometimes my sleep is shitty. I’ll just have to deal with it. btw, I’m reading “Fight Club” which is one of my many distractions right now. Got other projects going on at The Evergreen Club. I might be at risk of going overboard, which I have a history of doing, but I’m trying to stay as busy and preoccupied as possible when not spending time constructively addressing my “situation.”
My neck muscles are all knotted up. My nerves through-out my fascia are whining obnoxiously, like a children’s choir. But I’ve got to do this. I’ve GOT to! This is my revenge. I must teach them a lesson if it kills me! I could get tied down at the stake and burned alive, a human roast. I might get tortured first. But I want them to wake up one day; fully wake up to the realization of “Oh my God, what have I done?” I want that to sink in, deep down into their bones. I want every ounce of fiber in their entire body singing my song in a squealing voice, laden with a high-pitched synthesizer sound. I want their stomach muscles tight and achy much as mine, and I want them to feel so sick to their stomach that they vomit puke-green slime. I want them to cry out to the great heavens, begging forgiveness for what they have done; for what I have had to endure.
Six years ago, someone wanted to know if I was civil rights minded. I didn’t understand why she was asking that. But now I get it! I finally made the mental connection. And YES, actually, I AM civil rights minded, and that should TERRIFY her to death. In fact, I hope she loses sleep at night over it! I’m civil rights minded to the CORE. She and others put the wrong person to the test! I WILL speak out. I WILL sue! I WON’T cower to any intimidation tactics. I am STRONG. I may be suffering from anxiety-related pain, but that’s not going to stop me! I learned about some strong people in my classes at Eastern Washington University and I KNEW people who were strong and proud. I absorbed their strength. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I wanted to do something to help create a better world. I focused on the environment for a while. I focused on antiwar protesting for a while. But it wasn’t until this THING happened to me, that my true colors really shined. THIS was it, my big test, to see if I could stand my ground and to see if I would resist or follow the path of least resistance. This inner battle continued on after the event, as well as the question remained: how would I share my experience without sounding like I’d totally checked out of reality for a long minute? Or trying to explain the “why” of why they did this to me. They had their reasons. They had legitimate reasons, but that’s not an excuse for what they did. I won’t say at this point what their reasons were. But trust me, they had their reasons.
When I learned about triggers in a Frontier Behavioral Health group, I thought the point of us learning about triggers is so that we could AVOID triggers, but apparently, it’s so we can be better equipped to handle our triggers. I want to go into public speaking but am imagining bad-case scenarios and of course the worst-case scenario imaginable. There is not much I can do to prepare for the worst case, which would involve receiving negative publicity and being tortured and burned to death by some crazy white supremacist, except perhaps to prepare to approach it through meditation and guided imagery. I once read about someone who was able to undergo surgery without anesthesia or pain medication because he was THAT effective at meditation. That’s some MAD skillz! I know in anxiety group they warn against “catastrophizing”, but I have good reason to believe that I could be further targeted and become a victim of a hate crime a second time around. I don’t want to back down, though. I SHOULDN’T back down. Others out there that have come before me have braved some insanely serious potential threats but did what they believed was the RIGHT thing to do for the betterment of society, despite the risks. Some have died for what they believed in but didn’t let death threats get the best of them and refused to back down. They died, but they died for a CAUSE. I survived through psychological torture, but physical torture is another beast, and hopefully I won’t have to come face to face with it. Torture should NEVER happen, psychological OR physical. What happened at Abu Ghraib was UNTHINKABLE, regardless of whether any of the suspects were or weren’t terrorists. It was sick and morally repulsive. My alleged spies didn’t use the same exact psychological torture techniques, but it was torture, nonetheless. Torture is against international law. Does that include psychological torture? And what if the torture is done by outlaws and not by the government, as I believe was the case with me? Is it still against international law THEN? Remember, it was in Spokane, WA where there existed the psychologists who were behind the psychological torture interrogation practices experimented with at Abu Ghraib. THEY invented those techniques. Spokane is the city I call home, and it is the very same city I believe I was spied on by a vigilante “justice mob” consisting of primarily neighbors and family who thought up some “lovely” torture techniques of their own to try out on me.
I tend to think of myself as nonjudgmental. Ya know, accepting and respectful of all human beings. But upon reflection, I’m realizing we’re ALL disapproving of others. I tend to be hypercritical of those I see as cruel towards some people. The snobs in society. Judge Judy drives me crazy the way she rudely nitpicks at certain individuals.
So, I try to be accepting of all people. We’re all different. I had a friend who drove me nuts, she was so judgmental. But she couldn’t, she wouldn’t let go of me as a friend, and I didn’t want to tell her straight up that she was goddam ignorant; I didn’t know how she’d take it. But she had something to say about everyone, including the homeless people outside her apartment building. That, despite the fact that I first met her when we were staying at the shelter. But she considers that different than living on the streets. I finally let her go…
You know, most people are alright. Well actually, peasants on the street can be just as judgmental as anyone. The gossip about others never ends, no matter what circle of humans you find yourself in.
There is a lady that I sometimes see at the bus plaza and on the bus though that I’m curious about, and have a hard time not checking out her growing outfit, as she continues to add more and more layers of frills to it, made from cut up brightly colored fabrics. I saw her recently on a hot summer day, and my how her floral garden had grown! She must attract a lot of bees. I mean, she’s interesting, that’s for sure – a walking piece of art. But I wonder, how often does she disassemble and reassemble her getup? Or does she sleep in it? She doesn’t smell bad, not that I’ve noticed, so surely, she’s taking showers. How long does it take to take off all those layers of frills and how long does it take to put them back on? Or do the ruffles stay on her jeans and shirt that she can just pull them off in a cinch? So yeah, I try not to pass judgment on her. But she’s certainly an exhibitionist and I don’t know how she can stand the summer heat in all those layers. I saw her during the record heat wave that just hit the Pacific Northwest and she was still covered in layer upon layer of frills. I’m not so curious about her, however, that I’m gonna sneak into her home and set up spy cameras to find out what her daily habits are like. That is something I’D never do.
Her outfit actually, now that I think of it, reminds me of my crazy junk-based 3D art projects that started budding and blossoming in my apartment – spreading out across my living room like wild strawberries run amuck – during the few short months when I was doing meth, before my siblings and neighbors got super curious about me, so inquisitive about me that I believe they DID put spy cameras in my home. I also remember when I was playing dress up to entertain, cheer up, and energize myself, as well as sometimes dressing up for my boyfriend. I had cut up fabrics and concocted some wild, sexy ensembles. Normally though I didn’t go out dressed super crazy. But come to think of it, one time I did. This was during my post drug-days (which was a short-lived time for me), when I thought I was being spied on, and I was determined to let it leak to the public that my 4th amendment constitutional privacy rights were being violated. I wore some kind of crazy getup. I wish I could remember what it looked like. All I can recollect is I had a collage duct taped to my outfit made from some issues of The Finger, which was an underground zine some friends and I put together. Well, I only worked on the Finger for three issues, actually. I believe I was also wearing a denim jacket with “Report Privacy Invasion! Call Crime Check!” along with Crime Check’s local phone number, even though I wasn’t really the biggest fan of “law & order.” Anyway, I went out clad like a spectacle, hoping to draw interest to my cause (my resistance to privacy invasion). I thought if I could attract attention, perhaps someone would investigate and discover that I was being spied on. I also had produced signs on blank paper using colorful sharpies and doodling that I taped to my apartment window facing a distant parking lot, in the hopes that someone would see the signs and take out binoculars to read them and view my battle for privacy rights. The regional manager told me to take the signs down as I was “defacing” the building, and I protested, insisting that I was being spied on and it was my cry for help.
Another time I crafted a huge sign and dressed up in an interesting – albeit not as spectacular as the getup I wore to my outing – outfit and started chanting “Psychological torture is against international law!” outside. A lady passing by asked me what it was all about, and I told her some people were spying on me and putting me through psychological torture. She responded with something like “Well, good luck!”
I do recall dressing slightly odd when I was in high school, and later when I was attending E.W.U. I was a radical Spokane cheerleader, against war, and had been inspired to “wear my art” by spoken-word artist Alix Olsen. But my outfits were NOTHING compared to this lady with piles upon piles of colorful frills decorating her underclothes, which remain on her regardless of the weather. I mean, someone I saw at a Mead High School reunion did comment that she liked the clothes I wore in high school, which just meant she thought my garments were “interesting”, but this was a high school with a bunch of rich preppy snobs and it didn’t take much imagination to be “different” at that school.
There was a time when my friend Orion and I ventured out, decked out in costume to distribute copies of the first ever issue of The Finger (with a middle finger printed on the front page pointed at an image of The Spokesman Review) in FRONT of The very same Spokesman Review. It was my idea to dress up initially, and I wore some kind of outfit with the bottom half of my bridesmaid dress from a friend’s wedding. It was a two-piece bridesmaid dress with a full long skirt; pastel lilac colored with metallic beads attached. I can’t remember the rest of the outfit, but I definitely remember what Orion put together. I have no idea how he did this, but somehow, he was a two-sided man. On one side he was wearing a white wife-beater ribbed tank top with red and white polka dot boxers, and on the other side he was dressed up like a 1930s businessman. He’s a true artist and did a fantastic job putting together that ensemble!
There was another time during the alleged spy operation, when I was hoping to attract FBI attention in hopes that they’d investigate my outlaw vigilante spies. I painted “DRUGS” with acrylic paint in loud colors and large print (maybe red and black? Can’t remember) on a canvas bag. I was walking near the federal building downtown. I don’t know why I thought they might be interested in helping a radical leftist out who had also been a suspected and actual drug user. I mean, they really don’t care at all about us. The feds and police let somethings slide, while inventing reasons to put more people of color, radicals, and drug users behind bars. I’m white but I had been a radical who had probably drawn at least a little bit of FBI attention in the past (well one friend though I probably had an FBI file based on what all I posted on Facebook). I was quickly becoming a temporary non-leftist however as instead of wanting a world without prison, I wanted to send a bunch of people to prison who I thought spied on me. But I reasoned we could let most everyone else outta jail!
So I guess I’ve been known to draw attention myself, although nowadays I go out dressed like a total “normal” person. You wouldn’t guess I ever had a wild streak from my current attire. Well maybe on occasion I sport a neat black & white bandana, but that’s about it. And I’m glad my junk-based art collection and scrap collection aren’t expanding exponentially and consuming my home. It’s good I’m writing instead. Although I must say, my new collection of hand-written journals IS increasing. They don’t take up as much space as my gigantic art projects, my years of accumulated paperwork, and my enormous book collection. But they do take up space. I might get around to scanning them someday to my PC, but then they’ll hog up digital space, and I’d need a roomier external drive, or an extra one. Eventually the external drives would pile up and invade my living room space!
Anyway, so yeah, I’m against judging and yet I judge people who judge, as well as notice some oddballs of society, but you know, some people really do deserve to be judged. Like white supremacists who murder black people. And x-husbands who forcibly budge their way into their ex-wives’ homes to look through the cupboards. Hell yeah, I’m gonna judge them! I’m gonna judge the fucking daylights out of them!
Speaking about people being judgmental; my sister Karrie recently called me a “nut bag” for accusing my siblings of having once spied on me. That ignorant fucking piece of shit bitch! It is NEVER okay to call someone a “nut bag”!
I did a lot of journaling when I was homeless. I will need to go back and read my notes when I am ready to write more extensively about being homeless. In a way, I was more privileged than many of the homeless people at the shelter in that I could go back and forth between my parents’ place in the country and the urban shelter located in downtown Washington. I had been through a lot of trauma though due to the spy operation I had been through. Fortunately I had a bus pass and could easily access the mental health system, which included the Evergreen Club where I could do light volunteer work in a comfortable environment and got to participate in groups at Frontier Behavioral Health which included art group. I wasn’t feeling particularly artistically inclined though, as I lost a lot of my creative energy when I went off of uppers. And I went off of the uppers due to the privacy invasion. So I guess that’s the “silver lining” of getting spied on, since my brain’s not going to become eroded by the toxic chemicals in meth, but I’m still angry about the psychological torture I experienced and plan to bring my former spies – including family, family of my exhusband, and former neighbors – to justice.
Ya know, during the privacy invasion or “schizophrenic episode” I endured, one of the “voices” or “spies” I heard kept calling me a “Commie”. And you know, he was afraid of Communists. So instead of trying to explain what a Communist REALLY is (as opposed to some mean scary dictator), I tried to pass myself off as a “moderate Green Party” person. Which is funny, because I used to think that the Green Party was on the radical left. Nope! And the way our president makes it sound, Democrats are fucking “radical leftists” which is a joke. They’re NOT radical at all. Also the way Trump talks about “radical leftists” is like it’s some bad thing to be. Which couldn’t be FURTHER from the truth! Being a “radical leftist” is a fucking compliment! But you know, I was trying to get my fucking “spies” or the “voices” to leave me the fuck alone, and telling them to “leave me the fuck alone” really just infuriated them and got them going”! So I caved. Sorry, I really tried to put up a big fight at first but was too weak to put up with all the psychological torture they put me through.
A friend doesn’t think I should “waste” all my stimulus check on my business, but it’s totally NOT a waste, even if I never make a buck from it. This website has become a real passion for me. It gives me purpose in life, helps me contribute to society, and is creatively fulfilling. It also gives me an opportunity to build a case against some people that I believe really may have spied on me. While I’m no fan of mass imprisonment, I have come to view spies as being on the same level as snitches, and snitches are bitches! I’m willing to put away some spies and let all my many many junkie friends out jail! Including junkie friends I haven’t ever met; not yet! On the day I put some people behind bars, it’s also going to be widely known as the “Get Out of Jail” Holiday for most prisoners and it will be a national holiday to be celebrated forever more! We’ll be celebrating the holiday with organic, non-gmo, union grown, sustainably grown & transported (by bicycle! haha!) government subsidized cocaine (not funded by the CIA as a cash cow, but rather funded primarily by taxing the rich)! Because someday all drugs will be decriminalized and the violent war on drugs will come to a screeching halt! It will be the celebration of our lifetime! We’ll need government PSA’s of course to remind us not to take too much and overdose and not to give any to our dogs or our children (yes, U.S. Americans can be THAT dumb sometimes).
The Deep End Northwest… is a blog covering life, politics, and social issues such as anti-theism vs. religious supremacy, disease, hunger, global climate change & the environment, peace & war, capitalism vs. socialism, big business & worker’s rights, homelessness, mental illness & privacy issues, drug addiction, art, racism, reparations. LBTQA+ issues, gun rights & responsible ownership, legalization & decriminalization of recreational drugs , and more from a leftist perspective.
The “Privacy Invasion Stunt” and My Descent into Homelessness The Fight for Privacy Rights for Every U.S. American Citizen! Written by Myra Sue St. Clair Baldwin Essay #1 (Introduction): A Carrie Brownstein Wannabe Tries on Different Hats!
Note: Essay #1 takes place mostly in the months leading up to me becoming homeless, while I was still residing in an apartment located in downtown Spokane, Washington. As part of this series, I will be writing about my experience with homelessness in an upcoming essay or essays. Prior to becoming homeless, I thought I was being spied on. After I lost my home, I wasn’t sure if a couple of them were still allegedly tracking me. I still think it’s possible that there was a real spy operation AND that I was also imagining some things. That is to say, that a real spy operation could have triggered my imagination, because some of the thoughts, such as believing at one point that some people had the technology to communicate with me telepathically, were clearly not real. I believe that a real spy operation may have triggered trauma-related thoughts in my head. I am writing this essay both for the people who I thought might have been spying on me, as well as a broader audience.
Forward:Thank you to all my many, many spies that gave me an experience worth writing about; making this essay (and possibly a whole collection of essays about privacy invasion and homelessness) possible, but no thank you for making my life miserable both during the spy operation and in the wake of it, when I was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the ordeal, was obsessed with my memories of it, and feeling sad and angry!
I was planning on eventually writing a whole book about the single but long drawn-out schizophrenic episode or actual spy operation that I experienced, and also about becoming homeless one winter during a highly emotional imagined spy operation that interfered with my ability to get my jam-packed, low-income HUD (Housing and Urban Development) apartment cleaned up and organized to pass what would become multiple housing inspections. Annual inspections are required by HUD housing and I kept failing them, leading to subsequent inspections before I finally lost my home. Today, my language skills (which are typically impaired in schizophrenia) are pretty much intact, when not suffering from occasional brain fog associated with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) from over-doing it (or maybe it’s cyclical anxiety & depression; perhaps both) so I believe I may indeed, with time, be able to write down a whole series of essays and publish them in a book. I actually believe my language skills were ALWAYS generally intact (with the exception of brain fog which came and went), even during the evidently – per most mental health professionals I saw – imagined spy operation. I’ll have to look through my “Cinderella Butt” (a reference to a nick-name I had during the imagined or real spy operation) collection of “Privacy Invasion” memorabilia and see what I can unearth to see how coherent my language use was during my experience of “Privacy Invasion”. I recall writing down some quotes of many of the voices during the supposedly imagined spy operation plus some idealistic ideas I had for transforming prisons into places of healing and the world into a healthier place. I’ll have to analyze what I wrote sometime to see how good the grammar was despite my imagination supposedly going WAY off the deep end. Anyway, my behavioral health specialists never mentioned my language skills being disorganized. They just said that I had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. So I’m not actually sure how my speech came across to real live people that really did exist, during the days when I was being subjected to a “One-of-a-Kind Social Security Field Test” (i.e. “Privacy Invasion”) as one of the voices – the voice of a neighbor-at-the-time called it. It was after all a few of the imaginary or real voices who gave me rave reviews on some of the skills they claimed to observe (that they would later say proved that I was able to work and didn’t belong in housing for the elderly and disabled) such as my “great speaking skills”, when I was in the middle of passionately lecturing them for hours and hours (while I was sitting or standing alone in my apartment) about why and how their “Mind Control Stunt”, as I called it at some point, was inhumane and unethical. I was planning on writing a whole book at once, but it’s hard to write and organize a full book. It’s difficult to write down all my thoughts on paper into a coherent, chronological format, since my memories of the episode are scattered and tend to come back to me in random order. Also, I don’t know if I have the discipline to write a whole book as I haven’t yet done so in my 45 years on this planet. I have decided instead to try and write a series of essays about my experiences with the “Privacy Invasion” and post them on my blog, one by one. Hopefully someday I’ll have a full collection of them that I can then publish in a book. If I am successful enough, perhaps I can pay the rent without any support of others. Hey…MAYBE I’ll even do some speaking gigs and traveling, if I can manage my energy and stress level and not succumb to another episode! Perhaps I’ll even someday become the famous, important civil rights activist that the voices (when they were being “nice” to me) led me to believe that I could be – and indeed I thought I was an almost-famous civil rights activist at the time. After all, I was in the middle of a battle for privacy rights that I believed would eventually lead to civil rights litigation in the COURT OF LAW, with some legal assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who I thought might help with no up-front charges because it would be such an important case. I believed I would be standing up and fighting for each and every United States American citizen who was ever told that they had schizophrenia when some of them actually were, they themselves (like me), experiencing what I thought was an actual factual legitimate spy operation (as opposed to an imaginary one)! One of the voices that I heard through the walls of my apartment or inside of my apartment – who I thought was a journalist for Spokane’s weekly paper “The Pacific Northwest Inlander” – repeatedly said that I was destined to go down in history. I believed it too, because – I reasoned – I was going to be a famous whistleblower who blew the cover on an elaborate spy operation that was set up in a way that I’d come across as schizophrenic if I ever dared to tell my tale to others! One of the voices (the voice of my apartment manager at the time, Mary Hurst) said she was going to get me put in a straightjacket for years or even permanently; so I feared opening up to counselors (I had already started counseling before the spy operation at my mother’s request) and telling them ALL of what I was experiencing.. I was afraid they’d diagnose me with a severe mental illness and send me to Eastern State Hospital where I envisioned myself wasting away (like people used to in insane asylums) in isolation in a room with nothing but boring blank white walls, no stimulation, and nothing to do but think for hours on end, with no end in sight. Now, I wasn’t initially one for wanting to increase the United State’s highly inflated prison population by putting multiple people behind bars for their participation in the alleged spy operation, as I had some anarchist ideological leanings and wasn’t a big fan of our prison system. Yet, when I was being subject to a psychologically torturous “Mind Control Stunt” as I called it, with multiple actors, I was really wanting a LOT of people to be held accountable for what I believed they were doing to me and I wanted it all to STOP! If they all got busted, and were locked up in prison – then it would all end – or so I reasoned. It also felt good to imagine my sisters (who I thought played a major role in the “Spy Operation”) being dragged off to prison in handcuffs with grimacing faces. I often felt like I was being attacked by an angry hate mob, as there were the voices of many (who were apparently afraid of me, as I was afraid of them), that I believed were all in the “Spy Operation”. I recall one of the voices through the walls or in my home early on repeatedly asking “Is this a citizen ON the attack, or a citizen UNDER attack?” to which I kept replying “A citizen UNDER attack! ”Originally, when I thought about writing about the spy operation, I was going to write an “exposé”, believing that the whole spy operation was real (I still sometimes believe it was all too real). I believed that some details about my life, such as identifying as solo-polyamorous at the time, being a heretic atheist who was smoking rollies made out of “sacred” Bible paper (I couldn’t afford papers back then), living rent-free at the time in government-subsidized housing despite having a 4-year college degree, being a former Spokane Radical Cheerleader with some Anarchist leanings plus a former owner of a so-called anarchist book store, and being a hoarder which neighbors may have viewed as a fire threat, would show that I was “at high risk” for an actual spy operation. I believed the “exposé” would convince some others that I actually was spied on and continued to be spied on and would lead to a famous investigation and civil rights court battle and maybe even a highly important case in international court regarding the use of psychological torture, as torture is against international law. The voices treated me like a dangerous anarchist or communist revolutionary or even a potential terrorist, and also as someone who was faking my disability who didn’t even belong in HUD housing for the elderly and disabled in the first place. At first, the voices were just trying to chase me out of the building, and I was adamant about standing up to them and refusing to leave my home for the streets or even for another apartment complex. Then, they (the voices) were determined to find me guilty of a crime by spying on me to collect evidence against me and put me away behind bars where I would be doing time. That, or put me in a mental health institution. Or just get me kicked out of my apartment onto the streets to give me a “hand up” and not a “hand out” like some of the voices liked to say. One of the voices, the voice of my ex-husband’s father (Glenn; a wealthy, conservative stock broker who believed in the essentially unfettered reign of a free market) said they would put me at “Ground Zero” where there was only one way to go, and that was up. The latter – getting thrown out of my apartment – really did come true. I did end up homeless after a few months of battling the voices rather than de-cluttering my home with its accumulations of random stuff including gobs of books, over 20-years of collected paperwork (though some of that had been in storage that I lost due to not footing the bill), and gigantic unfinished multi-media art projects made from leftover packaging and leftover boxes that had overgrown my living space. Oh, how I desperately yearned for a small home with a big junk yard surrounded by brick walls decorated with lovely and intriguing murals painted on them (to hide the hideous junk collection outside where I’d be free to make stuff like big and small papier-mâché movie props from upcycled junk). I felt constitutionally entitled to my art projects because – I reasoned – I had a first-amendment right to freedom of expression. That, and it was really important to me to not throw anything away but rather to figure out how to upcycle stuff (although I was no longer saving my smelly food waste in the fridge to rot for a long time with the good intention of eventually taking it to the compost bins of a community garden located over a mile away that I rarely made it to on foot). I was going to help end “The Age of Garbage” by being a role model for the WHOLE WORLD of someone who was transforming all their junk, including washed and sanitized packaging, into beautiful (and interesting) works of art. I was even trying to make a “papier-mâché” cupboard out of leftover boxes (which I obtained from the nearby the dumpster out back, behind O’Doherty’s Irish Grille), to store my art supplies on, and was trying to convince my reluctant father to drive me to the incinerator to get some free leftover paint that would have otherwise gone to waste. I couldn’t talk my dad into it, because he had seen the condition of my apartment and wasn’t going to be an accessory to increasing the “mess”.
Introduction: It all began in July or August of 2015 in a former apartment building called “The Coeur D’Alene Apartments”, located in downtown Spokane, WA on the corner of Howard and Spokane Falls Boulevard; above some local shops, including ones named “Boo Radley’s” and “Atticus”. I thought some neighbors and family had set up tiny cameras in my apartment as well as a microphone that they could see and hear me with, plus speakers that I could hear them with, and I thought I could hear some of the voices through the walls as well. I believed that they were gathering together in a nearby apartment to shout at me, boss me around, poke fun at me, interrogate me, control me, and test me. Before the “Spy Operation” even started, I fancied myself “The Princess in the Attic above Boo Radleys and Atticus.” The Princess in the Attic” was a reference to the book “Still Life With Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins. The names of the local shops “Boo Radley” and “Atticus” were based on two well-known characters in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I lived on the 5th floor of a six-story building and had started to pretend that my apartment was an attic, kind of like the attic in the book “Still Life With Woodpecker”. My energy level, mood, and pain level had all improved for some time, so I started making art from junk. This included scraps from cigarette boxes I had saved. I had a thing for an exciting guy named Josh who was always in flight that would occasionally stop by to visit me – who LOVED the book “Still Life With Woodpecker” (it was, in fact, his most favorite book of all times). In the book there is a quirky modern-day princess who lived in Seattle who was forced into the attic of her home for a few years by her parents after she dropped a “bombshell” to an audience, including her parents, who were in the audience. She had a miscarriage in the middle of her high-school gym while cheerleading for a game. During the time she spent in the attic, she started reflecting on the packaging of her Camel cigarettes and developed an intense interest in the moon. Later she was let out of the attic and in time, became an activist with the planet’s survival and the unity of all the world’s people at heart. She also fell in love with some crazy guy nick-named “The Woodpecker” who she would later find out was a violent one-time bomber on the run who had managed for years to escape being caught. I was mostly a shut-in in my apartment while experiencing the privacy invasion, so the “Princess in the Attic…” nick-name seemed fitting. The guy named Josh that I was attracted to identified with the Woodpecker guy – always chasing after excitement – although he was no bomber (not that I’m aware of, anyway). At the time (before the “spy operation” began), I was attracted to excitement as I stayed inside the building much of the time, welcoming drama and surprise visits into my life. Back then it didn’t bother me to chase after a guy who would randomly show up and didn’t stick to a schedule as, for a while anyway, I had thrown out the calendar and the schedule planner, as I was feeling better at the time without a schedule. Actually, the calendar was on my wall being ignored, and the schedule planner was buried away in a box somewhere, as I didn’t throw any random paperwork away, not even years and years of crossed-out to do lists and lists of health symptoms, plus various other paperwork, including years of mail (a lot of it unopened). It was all somewhere in my apartment, requiring hours at a time to do an archaeological dig for some piece of information I was looking for that I could have probably found online at the nearby library (I didn’t have online access at home at the time). I acquired a great many nick-names during the “Spy Operation”. I coined some of the nick-names, such as “The Carrie Brownstein Wannabe”, based on my desire to be an actress playing an assortment of hipster-like roles just like Carrie Brownstein, who took on an array of characters in the Portland, Oregon-based show Portlandia, and who was also a member of the band Sleater Kinney. Other nicknames were coined by the voices; including “Cinderella Butt” – which was coined by the voice of my sister Joyce. “Cinderella Butt” stuck and I started calling myself “Cinderella Butt” as well, as I could envision myself wearing a spectacular full-length patchwork gown made from upcycled fabric scraps, and I also had lots of chores needing to be done to pass an upcoming housing inspection. Later, when I started making wise cracks during the perceived or real spy operation, I exclaimed that “…Cinderella Butt Wisecracks are clues…for the police department!” I was under the delusion that the police department would notice that there was what I thought to be a genuine, highly illegal spy operation against me occurring in that apartment building, and would come to my rescue, despite me being a former radical cheerleader with some anarchist leanings. I even envisioned a SWAT team landing on top of the roof of my apartment complex, and entering the building to investigate the spy operation. The voices were afraid of me (I guess for threatening loudly through the apartment walls to start a revolution if they kicked me to the curb), so I started identifying as more of a harmless moderate / somewhat liberal non-threatening Green Party person rather than a radical leftist. I also became less and less opposed to the idea of my “spies” going to prison to do some time, despite my dislike for prisons as a form of punishment and despite my “spies” being family, neighbors, and community members, many of whom I had held so dear and in high esteem prior to the spy operation. I heard lots of voices, including the voices of family, my ex-husband and some of his family, neighbors, and apartment management for the complex and possibly the regional manager for Goodale & Barbieri that the apartment management fell under (though I wasn’t very familiar with her voice, so I couldn’t be sure). I also heard the voices of previous employers and co-workers, local activists that I knew, people I knew from my previous work as an event coordinator for the Hagan Foundation Center for the Humanities, plus from my work in Service-Learning at SCC, SFCC as an AmeriCorps Vista. I even thought that someone I knew through the AmeriCorps program from the west side of the state (Bellingham, WA) showed up. Additionally, I heard the voices of other community members including someone who was a local KYRS Community Radio host, some people I knew from college, some people from the underground “alternative to the alternative” zine “The Finger” that I had helped with back in 2004, and people I met through the kinda-leftist bookstore I opened back in 2004 called “Myra Sue’s New and Used Books and Things”. Other voices I heard included the voices of some people I had gone to church with back when I was a child and pre-teenager, some of the guys I had crushes on during my life, plus a voice I associated with a journalist from “The Pacific Northwest Inlander” because I thought I heard his voice say something about being from The Inlander to neighbors, but who’s voice actually sounded like a former college professor from when I was a student at EWU (Eastern Washington University; located nearby in Cheney, WA). I even thought my sister Joyce and her husband Tony, who were (and still are) financially “comfortable” (they take trips all over the world), flew in some people from outside of Washington State; including a couple of people I had met while working at Diedrich’s Coffee in Irvine, California (located in Orange County) years ago, during my early twenties. The voices tried to figure out if I was indeed disabled as I claimed to be, and just what my disability might be; watching me in my home and trying to determine if I was bipolar or had multiple personality disorder (as their accounts of what I was like all differed). The reason I came across differently to different people is because I have always been a work in progress – evolving over time and trying on different hats – and also due to the different roles I played in life, such as mother, girlfriend or wife, daughter, classmate, neighbor, co-worker, church member, atheist, friend, radical leftist, and so on. The voices of my sisters Joyce and Karrie – who were the ones I believed were conducting the outreach to others I knew and also ones that I didn’t know, bringing them into spy on me, and questioning them about me – were calling me “fake” (which I guessed was because I presented a different persona to different people during my lifetime). I could only imagine why the voices were testing me for bipolar disorder. I guessed that it was due to me having periods of fatigue when I would crash and periods of time when I would excitedly plan ahead – writing long detailed to-do lists of things I was going to get done – and was sometimes a person in action (though I often moved in slow motion).The voices were also doing a skills-assessment on me, while watching me in my home and interacting with me. My sister Joyce’s voice didn’t understand how I had become such a failure in life. During the so-called “Spy Operation” her voice was often sarcastic, and in that tone said “It’s as if she was set up for failure her whole life!” I didn’t catch on to the sarcasm in her voice until later during the imagined (or maybe real) spy operation. I heard some of my “spies” discussing articles that I had written for the SFCC (Spokane Falls Community College) Communicator (the school newspaper) when I attended community college at SFCC plus for The Finger, as well as papers I wrote in my four years of college, with one of the voices (a male voice) exclaiming that I had beautiful writing. The voices also praised my perceived acting skills. My sister Joyce’s voice spoke about my “star power” plus the voice of my ex-husband’s sister Jennifer would say something along the lines of “it’s more role rehearsal” whenever I took to repeating myself to the voices to explain myself or to tell them over and over that they needed to stop the abusive spy operation. Another thing they praised was my speaking skills whenever I took to lecturing them about how their “Spy Operation” amounted to psychological torture, plus I lectured them on other relevant topics including privacy rights guaranteed by the constitution, human rights, International law, etc. and about the book “1984” by George Orwell). They praised my singing and dancing skills – one of the voices called me his “star entertainer”. To psychologically survive the imagined spy operation, and try to convince my alleged spies to stop what they were doing, I tried out some different methods of coping and demonstrating to the voices. At one point, I started dancing and singing to an Oingo Boingo cassette tape I had which had some songs on it that seemed relevant to me at the time with a song titled “Wake Up! It’s 1984” as well as a song called “Who Do You Want to Be” about people putting on different personas. They praised my reporting skills (I was their “star reporter” AKA “underground reporter”). They said I could be a civil rights activist or a lawyer (apparently I proved my lawyer skills with all my counter-arguments to one of the voices that engaged me in debate that lasted for hours and hours and days and days – it was endless and extremely frustrating, to say the least).They also said I could be a philosopher (they noted that I was a free-thinker and told me I was full of wisdom – my brother Gene’s voice even called me a genius at times), a detective, speaker, a poet, and so on. One of my imagined spies, my former father-in-law Glenn, saw the hundreds and hundreds of books (many of them were actually unread or just barely started) stuffed in my apartment and decided I must be “scholarly”, so he called me his “scholarly Myra Sue”. I developed a keen sense of humor to psychologically survive, and yelled out random funny musings through the walls (funny to me, anyway, though one of the voices I thought was coming from the hallway outside my apartment at some point expressed how he was tired of my “Cinderella Butt wise-cracks”), including some ideas I had for article subtitles for “The Onion” which prides itself on humorous fake news. The article titles related to my experiences during privacy invasion, which wasn’t fake to me, but that I thought would make for good Onion articles if cleverly written, and might eventually lead to it leaking out to the public that there was indeed a REAL spy operation against me occurring. One of the voices had warned the other voices about letting it leak to the public that there was a spy operation in the building, and I was dead set on letting it leak, though my method of yelling through the apartment walls to leak it were unconventional (and ineffective).
In addition to some of my spies saying that I had great acting skills and therefore must be malingering, they said some other abusive things as well. My brother Gene’s voice repeatedly called me “useless” and also repeatedly said that he heard that I was as “hoe as they go”. I think his voice called me “useless” because I was just sitting and lying around much of the time during the spy operation, and also because I wasn’t working at a job or “contributing to society”. I guess his voice called me “as hoe as they go” because I was solo-polyamorous before the spy operation began and had a few different guys coming to my door to offer me their company, which raised eyebrows with some of the neighbors (though I should point out that in HUD housing, anyone not on the lease can only stay for 14 nights/year, so it makes sense to have more than one partner). The voice of my apartment manager at the time, Mary’s, asked if I was up to the “lie test” before I heard the voices of her, my sister Karrie, and my brother David start interrogating me through the walls of my apartment building (I thought they were in the office located on the floor above my apartment). My brother David’s voice kept calling me a liar and also kept saying I was “clearly clueless” for trying to learn experientially about life (such as playing pretend at being an underground journalist, underground reporter, or an anthropologist that was studying the culture of HUD housing in a downtown apartment complex that had a lot of foot traffic.) My sister Karrie’s voice was telling me to “grow up!” for playing pretend and playing dress-up. I tried to explain myself to her, saying that it was giving me a psychological boost that was good for depression and energy level. I had also been doing some oral story-telling, comedy, and theatrical play-acting with friends prior to the spy operation, calling it “drama therapy” that I benefited from psychologically. I was at my creative peak before the spy operation “crashed the party” with my self-prescribed art projects and drama therapy. Neighbors had concerns about me personally, because (before the spy operation started), I was noisily moving stuff around all hours of the day, in an effort to get organized for my HUD inspection, and also because I had a few different visitors coming to my door (I was letting a few homeless people hang out in my apartment to be nice to them and also to learn more about Spokane’s homeless population, and the culture of homelessness). One neighbor saw me one time in the elevator when I was tipsy from wine, and thought I was high on drugs, and verbally harassed me (he was known for harassing and stalking other tenants). He also asked me if I even belonged in the building. I said “Yes” and he said “We’ll see about that!” The spy operation started within a few or several days of him saying that. After the spy operation started, I stopped taking visitors into my home (except for my counselor Janelle). I spent nearly all my time alone for several months.
As far as the skills assessment, one thing I failed to do was cook regularly for myself – and they (the voices that plagued me) had brought in a local chef named Zack I had once dated to participate in the privacy invasion, to see if I had good cooking skills and could be a cook in a restaurant. I wasn’t eating much and I was losing weight. I had no appetite and couldn’t focus on the complex task of cooking, as I was an emotional wreck. All I could do at the time of the spy operation was focus on the voices of my spies and loudly defend myself and hope to convince the voices to stop their torturous “Mind Control Stunt.”