Manic Friday

Nine thirty five.

It’s raining and ugly again today. I’m getting really sick of this crap but no one can control the weather. At least, not at a finger snap. But I tell myself it’s okay to feel lousy occasionally. Otherwise you’re putting on a happy face. Some people prefer a façade to the real thing if the real thing is unattractive. Well whatever. I offer no apologies for my moods. I have to get ready for my taxi pretty soon to go see Todd at the agency. I don’t feel stressed, though I do feel gloomy and even kind of mad about something. I feel irritable.

Quarter of one.

Something has knocked down my self confidence today so that I feel like just another person with schizophrenia. I wasn’t keen on my trip to the agency but I got it done. Usually it only reminds me that I have a mental illness all over again. It’s just not a very cheerful place to go. At least I’m back home to be with my dog and chill out the rest of the day. One of these days I will finish reading Native Son; I had about 90 pages to go. It’s a good read for anyone who feels disempowered and marginalized in society, not just Black people but everyone of color or disability that suffers discrimination and neglect. And while I’m thinking about that, the weather continues gray and gloomy in this part of Oregon. One good thing happened on my cab ride home: the radio played an old pop tune by The Bangles, stimulating thoughts of my sophomore year in college, back when life was better. Is there a reason why it can’t be good again? I think it’s up to you and me to change our attitude and reverse the tailspin we’re in. Maybe someday we’ll be dancing in the streets. It’s worth working for. 

Towards a Cure

Four thirty five in the morning.

It’s been raining fairly hard and constantly. The sound of it was comforting while I slept. I recall a dream I had when I was a sophomore in college. I hid by my bedroom window to avoid being seen by pteranodons in the sky, a paranoid dream. About ten years later I dreamed of men landing in my backyard in a helicopter to take me away with them. Somehow I think helicopters symbolize sex because they hover like an erection, as Freud would say. Dreams of floating or suspension in air usually mean that… The problem with gay sex is the clash with conventional morality as it is prescribed in the Bible. Internal conflict like this gives rise to neurosis and maybe even psychosis if my theory is right. I also think the homosexuality is innate, something I was born with. In schizophrenia, there’s a split between feeling and reason. But what if instinct and the intellect could be joined in harmony rather than opposing each other? Perhaps it would heal the illness. In this case, I could quit taking the medication and maybe live longer… Freud wrote that homosexuality is no degradation, no vice, and can’t be called an illness. And of course, Freddie Mercury said, “I’ve done my sentence but committed no crime.” 

Self image: A Letter

Well tomorrow’s the big day. I was just playing my bass. The song I wound up with was “Yours Is No Disgrace,” an oldie by Yes from their third album. Now I’d like to listen to that one again soon… I thought last night that I’ve been under a great deal of pressure and stress since this year began. I agreed to do a lot of things that I probably should have refused to do, so it wouldn’t turn into a runaway train. From the start with Misty I got talked into stuff I didn’t really want to be involved in. For some reason I couldn’t say no to her. I spent the last weekend feeling pretty miserable, remembering the way I drank 18 packs in 2017. That was the year I finally quit drinking. I’m not sure what triggered these memories, unless it was just being stressed out.

You know, with the schizophrenia and everything, sometimes my life just seems hopeless and not worthwhile.

I think I’ll go take a nap right now and write more to you a bit later.

I’m quite certain that I feel so lousy due to having been manipulated and forced into this situation. Maybe I shouldn’t blame myself but rather Laurel Hill and all these government organizations that steamroll right over your human rights, shoving their version of what’s appropriate down your throat. And of course I feel mad and resentful about all that. So maybe the thoughts I had about drinking 18 packs were a desperate attempt to rebel and feel free. The same is true for reading Native Son. Underneath it all, I have very strong libertarian feelings traceable to my teens and twenties.

Perhaps I’m just a divided person? There’s the Robert before schizophrenia and after schizophrenia, but I want to believe in the continuity of my identity throughout my life.

Reveille!

Five twenty five.

Since my visit with Misty yesterday morning, my brain finally made a connection and I did a little research on the homeless mentally ill. I realized also that my sister and her park ranger son were ignorant about the situation. Their attitudes are moralistic and damning of the homeless, not bothering to try to understand how and why people end up that way. They ascribe evil motives to their behavior as if they were “responsible” for their fates, but really, things just happen to people. It’s not a human problem, but rather a clinical problem, and religion has nothing to do with it. At least 25 percent of homeless people are severely mentally ill, and as many as 45 percent have any kind of mental illness… Now I recall my church’s incomprehension of mental illness when Katie passed away and we had her memorial service last fall: it was so embarrassing. And I was another schizophrenic person looking on, a witness to the whole thing. And then Pastor with his sermons on demonic possession and other crap! Americans need a wake up call to reality, and reality is certainly nothing spiritual. We need a revival of science in our culture before Dark Age America seals its own doom. 

Expatriate

Eight forty.

I can’t believe the people who think the devil exists in reality. It makes me want to get on a Concorde and fly to the United Kingdom. But short of that, I can at least skip church tomorrow. It’s for the sake of my health. If I believed that we live on an entirely Christian planet, I would probably commit suicide. It’s just not worth it anymore, having this disease that nobody understands, and which everything religious aggravates five times as bad. Somewhere in the world there must be a little nook without Christmas… It’s a very drab cloudy morning with hardly any signs of life, and not a prayer of intelligent life anywhere. With a little money in my pocket I would do a Henry James and expatriate myself. Alas that I’m so poor and unprivileged… Yet things can only get better after the holidays are over. Speed the time when that happens. I’m just having a very bad month. 

Feeling Unwell

Six thirty.

I finally figured out that I’m not well right now. The holidays are triggering my psychosis and wreaking havoc with my sanity. I’ll have to tell Pastor that I can’t come to Christmas Eve service this year. For my health I’m going to stay away from church for the rest of the month. And if I’m wise I should avoid church indefinitely. It’s just not the place for a schizophrenic person. 

What’s the Use?

Two forty.

I tried playing the bass but my confidence was blown away by the therapy visit I’d had this morning. I usually put on blinders to the ugly things I don’t want to see, like a form of extreme introversion or maybe selective denial of reality. This began when I had a Nissan truck and the interior was always a big mess. My brother said, “You don’t see it, but other people do.” He meant himself of course. Since that time the messiness has spread to my house, and I don’t know why. It’s a problem that has gotten progressively worse in about ten years’ time. It seems like there’s nothing I can do to fix it. Maybe underlying it all is a subconscious motive, perhaps an attitude of devil may care; maybe I need a good reason to keep things clean. Otherwise I figure it’s not worth the effort if it’s only me. Underneath it all I think it’s due to a feeling of despair and futility. It’s a voice saying what’s the use. Or it could be from a sense of rebellion and reckless independence, like defiance and perversity. It could be any or all of these things at a submerged level. Possibly I have anger issues directed somewhere. No one else has been able to figure it out yet.

And then maybe no amount of psychologizing will ever expose the reasons for my behavior. It’s just a schizophrenic brain glitch. 

Critique of Vraylar

Quarter of eleven at night.

It finally occurs to me that the Vraylar I take is very powerful and acts on me like a sedative, rendering me a lot less sensitive to some of the essential experiences of human life, such as spirituality, sexuality, and other things. Vraylar raises the threshold for the stuff that makes you feel alive in perhaps a primitive way, which I find to be regrettable to an extent. It was having a large Coca-Cola today that gave me this self awareness regarding the antipsychotic. Directly or indirectly the drug is costing me my membership in the church; but on the other hand it helps me avoid alcohol for the purpose of minimizing my delusions and hallucinations. It makes me wonder just what is the nature of schizophrenia: could it be just a matter of extreme sensitivity of the nervous system? In that case, maybe the psychosis is truer to reality than anyone had believed. Or perhaps the excitability of the nerves is like a tale by Edgar Allan Poe, an experience of darkness and terror and phantasmagoria not without its own peculiar kind of beauty… The best part about the Vraylar is how it saves me from alcohol abuse by abolishing psychosis; but the pitfall is mostly the way it deprives me of some of the quintessential feelings of human experience, the sheer primitive energy that makes us alive and gives us happiness as well as pain. It banishes the emotional roller coaster of life— which is why it is prescribed for bipolar disorder in addition to schizophrenia. In sum, it pushes down everything for better and for worse. 

Stigmata

Quarter of two in the morning.

Another night as black as coal. This simile recalls an old U2 song, “The Unforgettable Fire,” for me. The day I bought that record I took my SAT test in preparation for college, and I scored very low on both parts because I didn’t apply myself. If I felt that way, I suppose I shouldn’t have been in AP English that year. The truth is that I knew there was something wrong with me, though it defied definition for another seven years. Well, whatever. The important thing is the here and now and what you do with it.

When I left my psychiatrist’s services, I chose to be out of the closet with schizophrenia, to just take my chances, because deception felt wrong to me. I wasn’t even sure of what I was doing, but I wanted to be honest with people. Now, I don’t believe I sabotaged myself. Someone has to do something to change the stigma attached to the illness and it might as well be me.

Schizophrenic people are no more violent than any other population, according to a person I knew with a degree from Boston University. And Fuller Torrey writes that the majority of them are remarkably nonviolent. Speaking for myself, I have never been in a single fistfight. People with schizophrenia are usually more harmful to themselves than to others. The intelligence and temperament of people are separate issues from the disease of schizophrenia. It’s very unfortunate when the media spreads bad publicity of a schizophrenic person who committed a crime. A therapist told me that another 80 years would have to pass before the public would be accepting of the mentally ill. Until then I contribute what I can to that cause. 

“Josh Halliwick”

Quarter after ten at night.

I don’t know why I’ve been reading Mark Twain lately, except for how his message of freedom inspires me to inspire others. This afternoon I drank in thirty pages of Connecticut Yankee as if it were the first time for me. Then I consider my derailment at such a young age and wonder why this illness ever happens to people… I suddenly remembered a little book of another schizophrenic’s struggles, titled Josh Halliwick’s Madness, coauthored by the cousin of my friend who played guitar. This book was published seven years before I ever started my own blog. I can recommend it for its accurate descriptions of psychotic episodes and the ruin that they can make of a person’s life. Since I’m on a medication that works pretty well, I often forget what the “positive symptoms” of schizophrenia were really like. Only 11 years ago I still had crippling delusions of hell and the devil and could hardly play music with my friends. My mind on Vraylar is a far cry from when I was a drunken madman. I say this with compassion for myself and for everyone who has ever suffered from schizophrenia. Unfortunately, religious people don’t understand the difference between psychosis and faith, and Christianity is a big thing nowadays. The fact remains that schizophrenia is a disease, not a spiritual state or anything like that. The delusions are bizarre and absurd and mustn’t be taken for a revelation. It’s a very unlucky situation when people mistake lunacy for legitimate belief.