Cowbird Analogy

Ten twenty five. I found out that the party is not until noon today. So I went ahead to the store and got a root beer and some food. Cathy was cashiering and Supertramp was on the radio. After ten o’clock, business picks up really well for the market. I saw quite a few people there. The weather is cooler today, much more temperate and agreeable. My root beer tastes fab…

It’s nice to see that life goes on, much the same as before. Part of me craves beer, the taste and the feel of a cool Foster’s Lager. But I know that one beer multiplies to a 12 pack before I even know what happened. It’s a perfect day for a bacchanal, a drunken spree, but I have to forget about that. I can’t judge by what other people do. Some can afford to drink, but I remember how my account used to be overdrawn from spending on beer. And I didn’t care at the time; I could only think about having more to drink. It was a kind of mania with me, occluding my perception of everything else. Alcoholism takes over your whole life if you allow it to. Thus I won’t go back to drinking in any capacity. If I could make a political cartoon of alcoholism, it would look like this:

A bird’s nest full of eggs. A cowbird comes along and lays an egg in the middle of the nest, except this egg resembles a 750 ml can of Foster’s Lager. Before the other eggs can be hatched, the can of beer nudges them all out of the nest, becoming the sole occupant while the legitimate lives ultimately perish. The mother bird feeds the Foster’s bird until it grows to the size of a dodo…

Buzzed and Confused

Three o’clock 🕒. I can see why some people use gabapentin for recreation: I’ve got a good buzz going. No joke, I have to get off of this drug. It looks as if my brain has become normal enough to respond to pleasure once again. This is dangerous to my sobriety, and maybe I can’t call myself sober anymore anyway. I want to be able to write soberly and seriously. Writing ought to be my way to mental wellness. Use it as a vehicle to transcendence. This idea makes me want to go over my Keats and Mallarmé again… I just don’t want to relapse to alcoholism. It nearly killed me three years ago. And I was useless as long as I was drinking. The withdrawals were awful and scary. What hooks a person on alcohol is the euphoria, which resembles a foretaste of heaven. But when you abandon your life to alcoholism, you give up your responsibility to society. You lose everything you had due to an obsession with a buzz. It is like the Lotus Eaters in The Odyssey, the most depressing episode in the poem.

Quarter of five. I just emailed Pastor about my discovery regarding gabapentin. How worried should I be?

Blue Tuesday

Eight twenty.

I’m going to try to make today a better day. Think happy thoughts. Yesterday was ridiculous. A downward spiral straight to hell. I used to think reading Sartre was fun, but now it’s too real and gruesome to enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with Romanticism, the beautiful and true. We need something to lift us up from the pits. It may not exist already, but we can create happiness by means of music and poetry.

Nine forty. W— sent me a letter saying it’s unlikely that I have hemochromatosis, but she didn’t tell me what I should do. So, I called the institute and asked about it. I will get a call back later today. It seems to me that W— is trying to be a diagnostic hero or something. Looking for a feather in her cap. The decision is up to the hematologist, not her. Why did she send me the letter? It just seems confrontational on her part. Whatever, I’m getting to the bottom of it. She’s probably right, but still, the doctor is the one to say… People do crazy things in the summertime. The heat gets to everyone, messing up our judgment… Aesop is begging me for his breakfast, due in one minute…

Well, all I have to go by is the note W— wrote. Maybe my reaction was paranoid. I’ve been in a bad frame of mind since yesterday. Perhaps she didn’t think it through to the same conclusion that I did. And my conclusion was, Why be seen for a condition I don’t have? Why waste my insurance money on unnecessary visits and labs? Indeed, I probably did jump to a conclusion that W— hadn’t thought of. Anyway, getting that letter in the mail puzzled me and got my day off to a rather bad start. I’m having a very hard time staying positive. I’m looking for evil motives in people where none exist.

I should burn the Sartre book.

Quarter of ten. I wonder if I should take a gabapentin? Maybe it would help my mood. But this would be psychological dependence on the drug. My cranky mood probably has to do with stopping the med. It is definitely addictive. I think I’m in a mess, a vicious circle of addiction.

Gabapentin

Quarter of three. I appear to be physically dependent on gabapentin. I looked up the withdrawals on the internet and not only do they exist, but I could identify with several of them. So I started taking it again just to get rid of the withdrawals. Then I left a message for Darcy at Laurel Hill. I hadn’t realized that gabapentin is potentially addictive. People had said such good things about it. But by now it is well documented on the web that the withdrawals are similar to alcohol and benzodiazepines, which for me is deja vu all over again. I bet my old psychiatrist would have known the risks of prescribing gabapentin. Worst of all, while experiencing the anxiety symptom, I wanted to drink alcohol to make it stop… Therefore I would warn people about this drug before agreeing to have it prescribed for you. In some ways it’s as bad as alcohol and Xanax.

Mental Healthcare: a Letter

It’s been an inauspicious day for my writing today. It was a dud. Well I had my one liter of Coke and suffered no ill effects except for a little hypertension. Okay, and a twinge of conscience for being reckless. I did enjoy the taste of the Coke, but was it worth the self scourging? Probably I was flirting with disaster, knowing as I do that my motive for having a Coke was submerged alcoholism. Tomorrow I’ll have a decision to make: repeat this behavior or force myself to leave it. Before long I could be addicted to caffeine again. The way this works is quite mysterious, but everybody with an addictive personality understands it. My brother has been addicted to Vicodin at least twice and kicked it, but he always returns to alcohol. My sister had a good start on quitting smoking when all of her teeth were pulled— and went back to it again. The thing about alcohol that makes it so maligned by culture is the way it alters behavior. I don’t believe that God and Satan have anything to do with it, although I’ve been indoctrinated with this nonsense so that I know it far too well. But the real mechanism of addiction is poorly understood, and whoever solves the puzzle will be a very rich individual. It is because no one understands it that people resort to religion for treatment of it. My sincere hope is that, someday, reason and science can expose the workings of addiction to the light of day, bringing us out of the Dark Ages and ending the blame and shame that addicts unfortunately have to go through. It was never a fair situation for people with this problem to browbeat them with a guilty conscience. Some healthcare professionals are downright sadistic toward alcoholics. I’ve witnessed this at the emergency room and even been a firsthand victim of it. I despise PeaceHealth and the RiverBend hospital for demeaning people with alcoholism. They also suck at helping people with schizophrenia. And as I write about this and ponder it, I think there must be something I can do to improve these conditions. The days of chaining schizophrenic people in dungeons are not over, yet in the name of decency they ought to be. The dungeons just have been given a facelift. Strangely, where healthcare professionals have failed, I find that a random cross section of people can be quite progressive and accepting of the mentally ill and addicts. So that all hope is not lost for humanity as far as keeping an open mind.

Afternoon Again

Three forty. Aesop and I are both suffering from the heat, and I’m afraid of how the Vraylar interferes with my ability to breathe. I imagine it could kill me. Well, with schizophrenia, it’s been kind of a crappy life. Vicki is not much older than I, and she may have bad news to face regarding her brain tumor. I can only say that life has never gone the way I expected it to. Now I look back on the church and wonder if I did the right things. But I fought with the decision for a whole year before finally leaving. A year is a long time. It had to be a thorough process. Every time I think of Jesus, I think no way. A pantheistic god might be possible but not a human god. My reason likes a Unitarian god but not trinitarian. It is simpler and more parsimonious than the Trinity. And any soul that we possess is probably born with us and not given when we are baptized. This means preexistence and reincarnation rather than heaven and hell. Clearly I have thought these things through… I don’t know if I will be welcome to volunteer anymore or not. We’ll see what happens…

Last night I thought of the addiction group I attended two and a half years ago. It was a good one. I was a mere shadow of myself then, however. The upstairs room we met in had a high ceiling and large windows, out of which I could see the sky with birds and planes and things while we had session. It’s kind of interesting to remember now. The group expanded suddenly from being three people to more like fifteen. And then I graduated. All at once I lost my med prescriber and I was stuck with two bad professionals, and then I went to another place only slightly better. It was all a nightmare before I went back to Laurel Hill. It’s tempting now to believe that I did something wrong for the whole world to go so awry. But it’s only a delusion of grandeur. It couldn’t possibly be my fault. China is a long way from Oregon. And I don’t believe in magic, or in being a jinx. It doesn’t make sense.

Voice of Reason

Five o’clock. I ordered two more books by Ayn Rand, but direct from the publisher rather than from Amazon. Free shipping. One title, The Voice of Reason, reminds me of a coworker I once knew named Raejean. I don’t know if she ever read the book, but I think it’s possible because she used the phrase to me in a conversation. She was kind of a Vulcan, but for a few years, so was I. I wore an engraved dog tag that said “Reason” around my neck. I had a little obsession with the idea of “practical reason,” a term I borrowed from Aristotle, for as long as I was working. I converted myself into a robot and worked my job for as many years as I could. The abstraction of Reason was my totem every day until it broke down. Maybe it would have kept going were it not for my growing addiction to alcohol. Being a machine was okay with me up to a point. But eventually I wanted my freedom of thought restored to me. Or maybe I only wanted to drink my life away? I wonder if I’ll ever want to be a robot again. While it lasted, being a cog in the machine wasn’t so bad. It gave me a paycheck every two weeks, and I had a vehicle to drive around. The best part of it was that I could eat all the fast food I wanted. I was a frequent flyer at Carl’s Jr. They had one burrito item, grilled chicken seasoned with cumin, that I was crazy about… Perhaps it was just the alcohol that sabotaged my working life. How can I prevent this from happening if I decide to work again?

The Caffeine Trap

Quarter after four. I restrung my J Bass and gave it a good workout this afternoon. The strings are extremely bright and made more so by the bridge. I told Pastor that I’d be willing to buy a keyboard amplifier for the church so Eduardo can set up outdoors. Maybe at Guitar Center I can work a trade in for the American Fender bass. But no: see about an exchange from Musicians Friend first. Call them Tuesday, after Memorial Day is over with. On Friday I spoke with a rep who was a complete ignoramus. She knew absolutely nothing about music gear, nor how to retrieve records from their system. She was too stupid to be embarrassed about it. I came away frustrated and angry… Meanwhile, Aesop is dozing after an anxious afternoon of me messing with my bass guitar. And I’ve probably overdosed on caffeine again, making me irritable and kind of mean. I felt great five hours ago and now I’m a jerk. One two liter of Coke is almost a six pack of cans. Also I feel like I’m having to rationalize my caffeine intake. I know that it’s too much to be healthy and moderate. I begin to use it because it makes me feel good, and then I want more and more of that euphoria. How does that differ from an alcoholic buzz? In principle it is no different, and that’s why I have to justify doing it. It’s another addiction.

The Bottle

One o’clock. I think I want to drink beer, and that’s my battle with myself. A lot of evidence points to it. In this case, I probably need to heap on the religious discipline. It hurts, but it keeps me alive. I don’t know what to do. If I want to drink, then it’ll probably happen that way. My body would hate it, especially stomach and liver. I can’t afford the financial cost of drinking. Before I knew it I’d be overdrawn. I’d lose my friends. Aesop would be neglected. I could end up in the hospital. People would accuse me of being selfish and irresponsible. My conscience would kill me. I would be worthless as a person… It’s beginning to rain. Damien is not here… I know that I cannot drink alcohol. If I can just drive that home to my inmost self, I might achieve some peace. What can I do for a diversion? Playing an instrument usually helps.

Tuesday

Quarter after ten.

Tempted to do Coca-Cola again, but I don’t like the feeling of being hooked. Also I can’t sleep well with caffeine. My book is coming today. Aesop needs wet food. Guess I’ll go to the store right now… I’m thinking about aborting the story I began. Maybe let it germinate for a while. The Coke yesterday really went to my head. I was able to distinguish between sanity and craziness induced by caffeine. Today I bought just a ginger ale. It occurs to me that the caffeine triggered a hypo manic— if Todd is right that I’m bipolar. I had a wild flight of ideas yesterday afternoon, which isn’t like me. Usually I’m quite realistic, even a little bovine and dull. I’m safer to avoid caffeine. I can only imagine how alcohol would affect me now. Not pretty. I anticipate getting my Baldwin book today. A package from UPS is always a good thing. Roger just drove up and backed into his driveway in that old rust colored Ford. The weather is fantastic again. Corona has become business as usual each day. I feel kind of restless and frustrated. Mostly I’d like to jam with my band again as soon as possible. Between now and then is just marking time.

One fifty. I pulled out my Aria bass and gave it a play. First I checked the battery to make sure it wasn’t leaking. There was no damage. It’s a great sounding bass. I had a friend who distrusted it because it wasn’t a Fender. Everything was different back then. I drank and acted like a prick. But Roman insisted on talking politics, and left his television tuned to Fox News all the time. It got so I felt uncomfortable at his house. I can remember it now. The last time I saw him was ten years ago. The right wing was everywhere around me, no escape from it. Everyone I knew was a conservative. The street I live on was entirely the same. But nowadays it’s harder to tell the difference between a liberal and a conservative. Maybe it’s only me. The Millennium was a strange time. I heard a lot of people say that you can’t be ambivalent. You are either for Christ or against him. There is no fence, no agnosticism. I learned later that black and white thinking is unrealistic and not very healthy. In my opinion, Jesus was a dichotomous thinker, as was Aristotle with the Law of Excluded Middle. In truth, we need the shades of gray to be healthy.