At last the mood of the day is mellowing out as I relax and kind of coast the rest of it. I haven’t thought anything very deep today, and my feelings were up hill and down dale, peaks and troughs from the time I got up this morning. I believe there’s something wrong with this situation, and maybe what began as schizophrenia has changed to a mood disorder like bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. I think it’s true that everything is in constant flux, even if we need something eternal and immutable to keep ourselves grounded and stable: the one necessitates the other. To be honest, I don’t feel so intelligent lately and can’t offer any wisdom; and besides that, I was never all that smart to begin with. It’s the first of the month and Pastor retires on the 25th, so as a result I feel kind of rudderless and lost when there’s nothing to respond to anymore. The biggest shock of all is finding that my delusions have mostly gone away. My life today is not like life 15 years ago. The present is inevitably the present; and probably every attempt to box up the facts of life or sandwich them in the covers of a book will ultimately fall short. The only thing like a true almanac is the body of work by Waldo Emerson, or more like a Declaration of Independence for American writers and thinkers. He was the pioneer, and everything else has been a postscript or appendix to the main messages of self reliance and firsthand experience.
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.
Ten twenty five.
Before going to the store, my mind was assailed with dark self doubts. What if my life is similar to that of Ezra Pound? His madness caused him to commit treason, and he spent a lot of time incarcerated. Is my brother right that I should keep my mouth shut? I don’t know… Tonight I’ll probably stay home from recording the service at church. Only seven people are allowed to meet, under the new squeeze rules. But I got good news in the mail today. My SSI payments are going up eight dollars, and my healthcare package has been renewed… Many years ago I saw a film with Jessica Lange about some kind of mental illness. Her character might have been bipolar. She had emotional outbursts that she couldn’t control, and at the end, her parents had her lobotomized, making her a vegetable. I felt horrified and outraged by what I saw. I still think my response was appropriate. No one deserves to be a victim, a casualty of brutality. I feel that I’m whistling in a windstorm, but the rights of the individual must be heard out eventually. I’ve never been a one size fits all person. And that’s going to have to be okay.
Quarter after five. Thomas Mann assumes that sickness has moral underpinnings. I’ve always struggled with that opinion, but there’s such a consensus that agrees with him. What we don’t understand we treat with religion. I’m not even sure how to define mental illness anymore, having heard so many perspectives, and none of them superior to another. When was the last time I heard the DSM5 referred to? At least in America, talk therapy has monopolized the field of behavioral health. I never hear anything about psychiatry anymore, maybe because mental illness is too expensive for society to afford. While this is going on, people with schizophrenia and bipolar still self medicate with illicit drugs on the street. Some of them even refuse medication, and we tell them that’s okay. Honestly, I haven’t spoken with another person who has schizophrenia in many months. It’s as though they were running around undiagnosed and unmedicated. Mental illness has become a big gray area, and all because we’ve done away with psychiatry and diagnostic labels. Or is this only my own experience in the past three years? What do we do with our severely mentally ill people these days? Where have they gone? Why don’t I see them anymore? Perhaps they’re all homeless and sleeping under the Washington Jefferson Street Bridge? They seem to have been assimilated into the mainstream, their symptoms ignored and untreated. Is this a good thing or a terrible miscarriage of justice? I only think of the suffering of people with psychosis who don’t get the relief they deserve. There’s something wrong with this picture. But of course, I would have to see some statistics on recovery rates to really know what is happening…
My head is full of doubt that I’m doing the right things. What I’ve done is to dismiss the church in favor of rock and roll, basically. Two different mentalities. Rock music is about rebellion, to some extent. But also it’s about progress. I shouldn’t analyze it too much. It has to do with experience in the world, the secular, and less with the sacred. I’ll be ok as long as I don’t drink. My imagination can make more of it than is really there. I just thought of the apostle Paul’s opinion on the things people do by night, such as drinking, fornication, and music. Better known as sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Instinctively, I am giving up the church to do the other. I suppose it needn’t be a dichotomy, but I just feel that way. Nor would I want to play Christian rock music necessarily… It’s a sunny morning, and so cold that Aesop didn’t want to go out. It could be another bad day with delusions. It doesn’t help that my sister thinks rock music is satanic. She’s like Oprah that way. But she’s not here. It’s only my own mind I have to deal with. I’m remembering a lot of past experiences with music and my sister. It isn’t fair. My brother has no respect for music either. So I’m beginning to doubt myself. It’s hard to have faith in myself when I have to do music without family support. I guess I can channel my parents, especially Mom. I feel like I’m dying. I want a Coke…
Ten o’clock. I thought of Emerson and Jung on my way to the market, and the former made me feel better. I put on a second sweater against the cold. I bought a Coke and two burritos. Aesop had his breakfast, but I feel that I just hate myself for having problems. The word miserable came to mind. Maybe I should give myself a break. Nobody’s perfect. Schizophrenia is tough to live with, so it’s ok to be imperfect. I still have much to offer to others who suffer from mental illness and poverty. I don’t have to hold myself up to my family and judge myself. My brother was terrible to me. I won’t talk to him again. An impulse in me says I’m my own worst critic, and CBT would agree with that. How are other people ok with themselves? What gives them the confidence to be who they are without guilt? And why do I have religious delusions about music? I’m just not happy today… and that’s ok too. Accept the depression for what it is. If I can’t change it, then live with it until it passes. Todd thinks I have bipolar, and it’s beginning to be more plausible to me. The sunshine is beautiful and there’s the whole day ahead. My biggest fan has four legs and is lying at my feet.