This is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I avoided my laptop all day yesterday. I wrote some decent posts using my iPad. Today, I hiked over to Bi-Mart and bought Vitamin E and a kit for removing earwax. I have taken one of the vitamins at 400 IU. Afterwards, I felt dizzy and drowsy. I just need to get used to it. Years ago, I took 800 IU daily on the advice of my psychiatrist. I think his reason was to prevent dyskinesia from the old antipsychotic. Secretly, he was also thinking of my heart… It is very strange to look at the blue sky today and see something ineluctably here and now, and to know that here and now is much different from any past I ever knew. The sky appears whitish with smoke or a sort of smog, but it is unlike any ceiling I have seen in the past. A typical summer sky in the NW looks azure, a deep, rich blue. Partly, it is because I am sober that I perceive the heavens as they really are today. Drunkenness could blot out reality and replace it with whatever I desired… In addition to the afternoon white skies, I have observed that the predawn light in the east is virtually greenish mixed with peach. It looks like a kind of chemical stew, improper for the dawn, and quite disturbing. This change in color and climate is what we have done to our habitat… Damien is coming tomorrow at noon to mow and to collect what I owe him. Otherwise, I have no plans for Sunday or Monday. On Tuesday I have my lab appointment at nine fifteen. I must be ready to leave an hour before. I cannot think of what else is going on next week. Wednesday is forecast to be 99 degrees. Tomorrow: 91, I think. Hopefully, my portable a/c will arrive soon. I paid for it a long time ago… I asked Aesop if he would like me to brush him tonight. He seemed a little uneasy about it, but I think he will put up with it… I dislike the Editor feature of this app. It doesn’t allow me to use contractions without it flagging them. If I took its suggestions, my idiomatic English would come out quite plain and sterile. I’d look goofy. Therefore, I’m going to use apostrophes anyway. From my experience so far, I think I prefer writing with my iPad. Okay, I’ve told it not to check for this issue.
Quarter after five. I’m gazing again at the dirty sky. It seems so unnatural, and for that reason, ugly. A good rain might help it… It’s about time for dinner. Just a burrito. Sometime thereafter I can take my other dose of Vitamin E. I don’t remember the last time I took a gabapentin. The good news is that I’m not chemically dependent on any drugs.
Quarter of noon. The good news is that I don’t have any psychosis or superstition at all. Time should take care of my woes. I want to enjoy my life.
One twenty. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My chemistry is all fucked up. It could be the Vraylar. Not enough is known about this drug, so I’m just a guinea pig, or maybe a body bag. I want to find a homeostasis, a state of stability, but instead I just feel worse and worse. I’m tempted to drink beer, but out of masochism I won’t do it. If I were to give myself what I really want, I would probably get drunk and shoot the whole thing to hell. Still I won’t drink. The epic novel of current events is too fascinating to obscure from myself. I might as well read it as far as I can follow it. Some people are talking the end of the world. I’m not going to hurry it up. Hang on and hope for the best.
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?
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.
Eight o’clock. I felt myself get really pissed off for a little while. Better now. My brother is very cocksure in his science mind, and Polly in her religious life… so where does that leave me? But when I raise the question of morality, then I see it differently. The old-fashioned word for psychological was moral, and for consciousness, conscience. Morality and the good life have been around since the Greeks. I don’t know if moral necessarily entails spiritual, as many people maintain, but it definitely relates to psychology, for psychology grew out of morality… This discussion is getting kind of weird, and I suspect that I need a dose of medication. The tinnitus seems to happen either way. Anxious to hear what Todd has to say tomorrow. Until then, I’m going to take my Vraylar one more time. Signing off for the night.
I woke up with my mind on how I used to be a Jaco imitator in 1989. I always did a lot of alcohol, but not enough to impair myself. My favorite axe was a pewter Jazz Bass Special crafted in Japan. I put more mileage on that bass than on any other. The reason I idolized Jaco was probably his bipolar disorder, though at the time no one in Eugene seemed to know much about that. Years later I read his biography where his diagnosis was documented, along with his addictions to alcohol and cocaine. The music community is still a little unenlightened regarding bipolar, and if anything, they eschew the mentally ill rather than help us out. It’s unfortunate because musical talent and mental illness sometimes coincide. But I wouldn’t trade my circumstances today with those before Vraylar. I was too unstable. Speaking of medication, Dominic told me that many participants refuse it out of suspicion and fear of side effects. My gut reaction to this was to say how silly it was. But the law goes that they cannot be forced to take meds, and that sounds right. At the same time, however, they do themselves a disservice not to be medicated… Jaco was a great musician. The best compliment I ever read paid him was by Sting’s bassist about thirty years ago. She said, “Jaco was a musician who happened to play bass” as opposed to a mere bass player.
I realize now that I have no libido as a side effect of the Vraylar. It makes my life experience different; a little frustrating, yet I’d rather be sane than psychotic. There’s hardly any bleed through of hallucinations or delusions now, and barely any other superstitions. I feel a bit like a space alien, someone from another galaxy. I have very little fear of anything. The scariest thing possible is human beings, but I know how people operate. Usually people are benign, or indifferent at the worst. If they are aggressive it’s because of drug addiction and sometimes mental health issues. I’ve been on the inside of that, so it doesn’t scare me. Tomorrow it’s off to Laurel Hill again to visit Todd and Heidi. I was really irritated this morning until after ten o’clock when I decided to go to the store. Very angry about something, but I’m okay now. It could’ve been a craving for caffeine, which means I’m getting addicted. But you know, the way my hypothalamus is being clamped on, my brain could be feeling very frustrated. This is not a natural state for me, nor for any average person. The desire is there but cannot be expressed except in my desperate words. It’s similar to D H Lawrence in the grip of tuberculosis writing like a maniac. Ditto for Katherine Mansfield. They wrote for dear life because they were doomed. I hope that’s not the case with me, but Vraylar hasn’t been on the market very long. No one knows what the long term is like for patients who take it. Again I identify with Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon. Such a tantalizing experiment that ultimately fails. The difference is that my case is real. People can read about this live experiment as it transpires, and hopefully afterward. I don’t know what to expect in the coming year. What began as a success story could end in sudden death. In the meantime, hang onto your seats. It seems every silver lining has a cloud.
Three thirty. We’re having a rainstorm, and my dreams reflect the weather. I thought I was driving a car through the tempest. The trailer is a tin can in the cold and wet, but the heater works okay. The idea of lunacy shouldn’t scare anyone. I’ve been there and back, like a round trip to hell, more than once. It is a maelstrom of voices and images, a reservoir of our deepest fears and desires. But the only treatment for the madness is antipsychotic. The worse nightmare is the cost of the drug: over $1300 for a bottle of 30 capsules. If psychosis is hell, then the redeeming heaven is Medicare for the cost of medication. Smart people with schizophrenia are able to get themselves in the system and find relief for the symptoms. However, many patients aren’t so fortunate. If they don’t have the support of caring family, they may end up psychotic and homeless. My parents were great about getting me set up before they passed away. But I’ve had to be super wary of my older siblings with their incomprehension and outright envy. My brother is particularly poisonous, thinking only of what’s fair to himself… I’m thankful for my intelligence and for a good upbringing and education. My mother’s values were ten times worthier than the hollow ones I encounter in the remaining family. Everyone called her crazy, but I believe she will have the last laugh.
Four thirty. I figured out that I feel so lousy due to the Vraylar… and the illness too. Chemistry explains everything. My friends in church might not understand psycho physiology, the way the human brain works. I can try to explain it to them. It’s no big secret that the brain determines behavior, and that physics is precedent to any notions we can have about the soul. Well, like I said, the controversy over whom we should listen to about behavior will rage on till after I’m dead. At any rate, my brain, my mouth, and my whole body hurt as effects of the Vraylar. It has the desired effect too— to an extent. I still hear music and voices that don’t exist. I don’t get much pleasure from life, but the real music I listen to or play or sing gives temporary relief. Intellectual work is done in dead earnest and yields no happiness. Reading Dostoevsky is like trying to solve a riddle, and doing so compulsively. Well maybe that’s fairly normal, but I need a break. My voices are very bad. The thought of putting an end to it all crosses my mind. Tomorrow I will call my nurse practitioner if I don’t feel better. Until then I’ll just grin and bear it.