Eleven thirty. I wonder why I have such emotional problems? Life has gotten more difficult since April, with increased stress and pressure from all the people I deal with each week. I feel as if I had to compromise my identity to get along with others, and I was never very good at turtling and wearing a mask with different people. It’s exhausting to do this. I feel so tired. It would be better to simply be myself, and if people don’t like me, then they can go away and leave me alone. It seems like such a sin to assert myself in this life. We assert ourselves just by existing, by being someone, and immediately this draws fire from somebody else. The ideal is to live and let live, but hardly anyone practices this policy. It gets harder and harder just to exist in our society. I don’t know why this is. Am I the only one who notices it? I’d like to read a few pages of Being and Nothingness, except Sartre might make this feeling worse… It was Sartre who thought that hell is other people. Well, I shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to agree with someone with a different point of view. Everyone ought to be tactfully assertive and still be okay with each other. I just get this feeling that we’re really not okay. And the situation is escalating day by day. Someday soon it’s going to explode…
I kind of dread my appointment with Rebecca, though it’s not her fault. The problem stems from the other guys in the band, who wouldn’t understand why I need a personal care attendant to keep organized at home. The guys are a working class sort and probably want me to be one of them. The more I think it over, the more I see how this band is causing me grief. It started when I bought a new bass for myself, knowing that this was something my friends wouldn’t do, or approve of me doing. I suffered a great deal over my decision to buy this instrument. So now I’m beginning to think these guys are not worth the pain I go through on their account, yet it’s hard to know what to do. I realize that I’m taking responsibility for their feelings, which isn’t the right thing to do, according to cognitive therapy, although some philosophers disagree on this tenet. The point is for me to avoid depression and anxiety as a result of interaction with other people, thus the cognitive perspective is likely my best option. Of course I have the freedom to choose to leave the band if things get out of control. And then there is the issue of their substance abuse, while I’m trying to stay sober in their midst. Maybe the music profession is not what I might wish it to be. I feel myself being pulled apart by the attitudes of other people, their politics, and their personal opinions and backgrounds. It makes it very difficult just to be a person in this world, but there has to be a solution.
I’m going without caffeine today, no tea or Coke, no beverage at all. I saw what it did to me yesterday, especially in the early afternoon. It was unpleasant. I left a voicemail for my sister. It isn’t supposed to rain today, so my walk to physical therapy should be uneventful. I feel lonely, and I wish life could be different. I’d like to make another friend like Kate across the Atlantic. The best thing is to keep an eye out for opportunities to meet likeminded people. The sun is making an appearance.
Ten thirty. I just voted and put my ballot in the mailbox… Some of the measures dealt with substance abuse, so those were easy to decide on. I hope it’s a clear day for my stroll later. A thought on the edge of my mind keeps offending me. I think it’s about Santa Clara. I have to go there today, and it makes me feel like a child somehow, or a helpless victim. I’ll be in my sister’s jurisdiction while I’m there. People really believe in spooks in that part of town. It just gives me a feeling of sadness and a little anxiety that I could be caught out as an alien unbeliever. Worse, I fear psychosis and delusions of frightful things. It’s no joke when you have schizophrenia. I once had a frenemy who thought it was cute to make me watch horror movies with him. He was neither very smart nor sympathetic.
Noon hour. I don’t feel very good, but I guess that’s okay. My thoughts are all confused, enough to make me cry. I wish the truth were objective and not plural and divisive. We can be taught that round objects are really flat, or that two plus two equals three— and we believe it for a lifetime. And some will tell you to forget the truth and get on with your life; but what is life without pleasure, without fun? It is pinning the tail on the donkey blindfolded. Pushing a boulder up a hill repeatedly and uselessly. It is work with no play. It’s gray.
Four o five in the morning.
I’ve taken my Vraylar and a Vitamin D3, and eaten a small Hot Pocket. R— isn’t doing a good job of keeping the store stocked with supplies. There’s not enough stuff for me to eat at that little market. I said something about it to M— last Saturday, and she looked distressed. Maybe today I’ll opt for Grocery Outlet. I can’t go wrong with that Seattle International sourdough bread. I don’t ask for much, just enough food to eat. As long as I’m mobile on my two feet, there’s no reason why I can’t go to the other store… I had a nightmare a bit ago about my dad. He was trying to sabotage me by forcing me to drink a substance with pins and needles in it. The dream didn’t make much literal sense, but the drink was probably alcohol… I anticipate seeing the sunrise this morning.
Five o’clock. I guess I’ll go back to bed and rest for a while longer.
Eight thirty. A fine, misty rain is coming down… The PA at the institute concluded that I should continue the surveillance of my ferritin levels. Very strange. Why did she send me that letter? One person even thought it was a forgery. But W— admitted to doing it… Tonight we film the church service again… The letter from W— disturbs me only because it seems she was condemning me for my past alcoholism. There are always people like that. I’m going to keep the letter she sent, in case of problems down the road. Suddenly reality assumes the shape of a Henry James plot, where I am confronted by the irrational in human affairs. And just as suddenly the sun peeks through.
Eleven o’clock. I walked to Grocery Outlet, but had anxiety and energy issues related to gabapentin withdrawal. I just took a pill. Still, I managed to buy food for me and some really nice natural dog food. Aesop should be very happy with tomorrow’s breakfast. His exact birthday is unknown, but the month is September. I want to do something nice for him… I spotted a blue Amazon delivery truck on my way to the store. Apparently they’re making a go of their own delivery service. Dunno how I feel about that. When I arrived in the store parking lot, I saw quite a few cars and people, as if nothing were wrong. People wore masks, but otherwise it was normal. The dog food had been moved since the last time I bought it there. I was exhausted by the time I got home. Luckily it didn’t rain again while I was out. I passed by a few people on the street who courteously said hi. As always, the sourdough bread is outstanding.
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.
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.
Ten thirty five. I ran into Mike at the market. It went okay. He told me about the neighbors he’d had problems with. As far as music, he is open to me looking elsewhere for opportunities to jam. The store was quite busy this morning. People were courteous to each other and it was a good feeling. It makes me miss the days when I used to work. I was around people a lot more and it was fun, especially the first two years. I passed up the Coke and bought cranberry ginger ale. Looking forward to getting my book of Bishop’s poetry. Aesop’s bones are coming tomorrow. As for church, it’s a part of the community, but the ideas are one size fits all. It’s good that I learned how it works. The obstacle I couldn’t get over was prayer. Ontologically there’s no way it can happen. Like telekinesis, we may wish it were real, but try to move a pencil with your mind: it doesn’t work. So I’ve been keeping my distance from church except for volunteering.
Noon hour. I had a good day yesterday. Usually my day starts out good, and then goes downhill towards afternoon. Maybe I expect too much of myself. I never sleep well anymore. Neither did my mother at this age. The solitude kind of gets me down day after day. Still I feel good about my sobriety. I’d still be drinking if the psychosis weren’t under control.
One twenty. I called Damien: he’s coming out this evening to mow. He sounds a little low because his stepdad has cancer. This afternoon I might take a nap. I should plan a trip to Bi Mart this week. Something to do in the afternoon. I always enjoy seeing Shawn and all the others who have worked at the store for eons. Going in there reminds me of Kate and old times in general.
Two thirty. I wonder if buying a car would tempt me to drink again?… Don’t know if I want to live in the fast lane once more. Too much anxiety. Driving makes me think of money and of how I used to work. These in turn remind me of alcohol… The prospect makes me nervous, so I think I’ll steer clear of it for a while. People drive or choose not to for various reasons.
Six o’clock. I feel agitated and can’t relax very well. Can’t convince myself that I’m in charge of my life. If this house is really mine, then why aren’t I free to come and go? The lockdown is getting me down. But the danger is also from within, for I fear a relapse into drinking. Any way I could relax would be welcome, but I’m afraid that my brain desires alcohol. In that case, I’m at war with myself until my support network is back in place. And this of course is my church, Our Redeemer Lutheran. Possibly the best thing to do is to listen to some music. Soothing classical music would be very nice. I found a Cd of Bartok’s string quartets that I never realized I had. This new music could help me restructure my mind for the present day. I’m very curious about it now.
Eight o’clock. The Bartok was great! I only listened to the first disc of two. I liked the No. 3 string quartet the best. After some incubation, a little of the music should swim back to me and keep me company. While I was listening, I thought a bit about theories of the unconscious and other ideas that were around when Modern art was made. Jungian psychology encouraged composers to dig deeper into the human soul, and lately I’ve been missing this depth. The experience of music brings the unconscious to life for me. Human life is supposed to be organic and whole, not chopped up and mechanical. People need things like fairytales and ballets to keep the soul alive. And there’s something more to nature than just morality. Romantic and Modern art express the very sap, the blood of nature and life. Art breathes just as trees and people do. It does more than educate: it gives pleasure and satisfaction. It makes you feel good.
Ten fifty. I dreamt about my brother. I was staying at some motel, probably on the coast, but without him. I played with some device, perhaps a smartphone or tablet. At some point I left my room, and then I worried about losing my door key, but it was where it was supposed to be. I slipped back upstairs to the room, let myself in, and settled down in bed to watch television. Somehow the room came to be my house as it is in reality. I feared that my brother would intrude on my property. Maybe he would steal my guitars and sell them for cash? Whereas Jeff and I used to drink beer at the coast, I didn’t drink in my dream. There was a sense that I was waiting for something to happen, like impending doom. How long could I live alone like this? I wanted to know what time it was. When I woke up, Aesop needed something. He appeared to be feeling unwell. Now he’s resting at my feet. And still I feel like I’m waiting for something…
Five forty. We’re having a food pantry tomorrow, and I will go help out. But I still feel weird about Christian faith. In our culture, is it the only way to be a good person? Pastor proposes having a Zoom coffee hour after virtual service on Sunday. I don’t know. I feel uncomfortable right now. I’m inclined to go to bed and rest for a while. Maybe I’m a little scared of the virus. But many other people are more afraid than I am. Anyway, I gave my word that I would show up, and that’s that. Also I will send in a check to Our Redeemer next week. I feel a little tired. Anxious and distressed, I’m not sure why. Yet getting out of the house tomorrow is better than being shut in. I don’t feel very well… I’m torn between doing the right thing and doing the easy thing. The right thing is to help out my church. But it’s easier to stay home and read a book. Or just do nothing. I will do what I can.
Ten forty. I was just dreaming about abusing benzodiazepines. I was in my mother’s bed with my fist gripping the pill bottle. Dr T came down the hall and muttered something. I also dreamed that I was in the driver’s seat of a car parked at the roadside. It was night. My head was just inches away from being hit by cars passing in the right lane. I guess the message is that I don’t feel very safe. I’ve put myself in the path of danger. I admonished myself aloud, “Jeez Rob, you need to relax.” And it’s true. My body is tense like a coiled spring and my mind can find no peaceful place. It seems that in tough times there’s no substitute and no alibi, no ticket out. The only way out is through.