The News

Seven thirty five.

My jeans are still damp from my morning walk. Other than that I have no complaints, and it seems to me that everything is going well with the world. But this is easier to say when I ignore the news.

I dreamed last night that I was out after dark, walking along Fremont Avenue when I spotted a helicopter right overhead. As I neared my home, I realized with a jolt that the chopper was landing on my street, so I hurried inside and around to the family room. But I could hear the men following me outside to the backyard, and then I believed they would kill me. Throughout the action, the helicopter made a boisterous racket out front, fed in reality by the hum of my alarm clock. It was one of my paranoid dreams, which I have seldom anymore. Very clear and fresh like a hallucination: larger than life.

Real life, however, has been uneventful, routine, and rather boring. I prefer this to chaos and extremity, like when the Trumpsters attempted a coup of Washington two winters ago. The world is screwed up when people can’t tell the difference between truth and lies. I guess we believe what we want to believe, no matter what is really true. I blame it on the revival of Jamesian Pragmatism that started up during the 00 decade. We judge beliefs by their consequences, not rationally or factually. At least some of us care what is logical…

Raising Consciousness: a Letter

Also this afternoon I started reading the Theodore Sturgeon novel. It begins right away with content about insanity and terrible violence, so I don’t know if I’ll read further. It upset me because of its ignorance of mental illness and autism. To Sturgeon, psychopathology is just a blanket field for insanity and idiocy. The story was written in the fifties, when I suppose very little was known about mental health problems, especially among the general public. It was people like him who were guilty of spreading misinformation about “insane” people, and who made it something to be afraid of. My mind went from there to thinking about my brother, who still believes everything he sees on television, having grown up during the tv generation. Frankly I can’t stand people who believe television before they accept reality that is right in front of their noses. My brother’s attitude totally sucks, but no amount of talking to him can change his mind. For him, Alfred Hitchcock is reality, and he’s scared to death of mental illness; which means he’s also afraid of me.

I believe that people should unplug not only their tv but also avoid the movies, or at least watch them with a discriminating eye. Trust experience of immediate reality rather than a lying media.

So that was my little stint with “light reading” today. And the rest of the day I spent mostly napping.

I do think that consciousness is slowly being raised for the phenomenon of mental illness, but the progress is painful and laborious because of the myths we have to bust. Our worst enemy, as in everything, is fear of the unknown. People generally fear what they don’t understand, and misunderstand what they fear.

Fiction and Fact

Ten o’clock. I just had my phone appointment with Rebecca, my worker in Salem. We talked a bit about disclosure of my diagnosis through the process of hiring a personal care attendant. She said it’s up to me. There’s still a lot of ignorance and stigma regarding schizophrenia. People don’t know what is involved in the illness, and they often get the wrong idea from the media. Even my brother believes the television before he believes the real thing. I used to think he was a smart guy. Why is it that we can be immersed in a real situation and still refute it because we saw a certain movie or tv show? The real evidence is right in front of us, but we judge it based on the media… Funny but I feel like such a vampire, a nonhuman phantom on the fringe of reality, only because of a poem I read the other day. There are a thousand ways to dramatize an ordinary phenomenon like mental illness, to glorify it or execrate it. Either way would be inaccurate. My blood is red just like yours, and my figure casts a shadow on the wall and a reflection in the mirror. The sun shines on me as it does on everybody.

At midnight last night I spent an hour listening to Tchaikovsky’s ballet suites. I love the way he throws a chromatic step into a sweeping melody in the strings. If these pieces were not so famous, the jarring effect would be a surprise. The waltz scene in Sleeping Beauty provides an example.

Eleven thirty. It’s another clear day. This afternoon I might return to the store for a second Snapple. Maybe I’ll get two of them. 

Soured on the Screen

I just had a strange memory from eighth grade: I used to have my own black and white tv set down in my bedroom, with no cable connection. I could get two channels, ABC and NBC. I watched a lot of sitcoms by myself, my favorite of which was probably Taxi. This makes me emotional to think of. I wonder why I never think about what I saw on tv anymore? It wasn’t all trash, or was it?

Four thirty. Even as late as 1999, I still watched some television. Except where they were misinformed about mental illness especially, network tv shows were generally good and humanizing. Yet I can see why I got turned off of the media. My siblings were addicted to the movies, and believed everything they saw concerning mental illness on the big screen. My friend Kate hated the movie Rain Man for its misconception about autism. Specifically, there’s no such thing as an autistic savant. But my sister still takes the Hollywood version of autism for the truth, even after I tried to explain to her the fallacy. And then there are the movies about schizophrenia, which do more harm than good. The Soloist was a lousy film, but again, my siblings believed it before they would try to understand me, the real thing. And whenever a case of violence done by mentally ill people got splashed over the media, my brother was reinforced in believing that all of us are violent. The upshot of all this was that I unplugged myself from everything having to do with television. But of course my family is still hooked on the lies they are fed. All I can do is keep writing what I know.