We’re supposed to get some rain today. The streets were wet when I was outdoors for my grocery trip and it was black as ink, but I didn’t get rained on. I saw the edges of clouds white against the black heavens before I started pussyfooting my way on the blind streets. The occasional streetlights helped a little, or the light from approaching cars from N Park to the south. Today I go back to being alone as usual but my mind is getting clearer with the exit of summer and the cooler climate. My sense of duty tells me I should call my sister by the end of the week because she’ll be lonely: maybe it’ll be better if we keep it short. I observed to myself earlier this morning that religion often turns racism into a principle. I just can’t accept that anymore no matter where it comes from. The woes of the world do not stem from Black Lives Matter or whatever some people imagine. While I feel badly for my sister, I don’t share her ideas on social issues. It may seem like I’m picking a fight, but in reality the fights pick me, and this is the story of my life. Moreover, my illness seems to be the price I pay for the attitudes of my family; it never started with me. It all came down upon my head like a doom. Now the day is risen behind a gray shroud. It should be a quiet kind of day for reflection.
As I said in my post today, I didn’t enjoy church this morning, but the whole day wasn’t a loss. My books came by the mail and I got to flap through them. And yes I did get a CBT workbook. I looked at that one first and wasn’t really impressed. However, the Tarzan book is very nice. I skimmed four or five chapters in the middle of it, read the whole introduction, and glanced at the afterword. I was 12 years old when I first read Tarzan of the Apes, so it’s amazing to remember my experience upon reading it again now. Gore Vidal is right to say that Tarzan is a daydream of power and domination of your habitat and to refer to Alfred Adler, not so much Freud. I think it’s an individual’s answer to feelings of oppression by an over civilized society: this and over organized. At some point this morning I also thought of 1984 by George Orwell, about the dystopian future, though I’ve never read the book yet.
The other book doesn’t address cognitive therapy as much as it does behavioral therapy, but it cost only ten bucks and I might still use it somehow.
I think a lot of my feelings nowadays resemble the theories of Adler, who in turn is a bit like Nietzsche. I feel the need for empowerment, for control over my life. And when you have a disability like schizophrenia and its stigma, these feelings make good sense. The opposite of this, Christian abnegation, doesn’t have the same appeal and doesn’t really compute for me in my situation. I don’t know if you’re following my argument or not but I’ll keep writing about it.
I’ve got a couple of books of Adlerian psychology that I can examine. I doubt if a contemporary therapist could understand or help me with my puzzle. I’m trying to be my own therapist, as inadequate as I may prove to be.
I must be losing my marbles. I read back what I’d written in my diary since Thursday and felt horrified by all the bad things I said about the people I’ve known. I pointed the finger at everyone but myself, when the source of my perceptions was just me. I think my moods go in cycles that accelerate the more I do caffeine. I could be bipolar, as Todd has suggested a few times. Also the thought of suicide crossed my mind a little while ago. I wonder if cutting out the caffeine might help my behavior? I feel wretched and very dissatisfied with my life sometimes, alternated with occasional elation and gratitude for good fortune. The world may be going to hell in a hand basket, but that’s not everything that’s up with me. If I thought alcohol would help me then I’d drink again, but I know it would exacerbate everything. For just once I wish someone knew what they were doing. Instead it’s a lot of shrugged shoulders and scratched heads, so a person virtually has to be her own doctor. Or maybe even this is a thinking error?
I believe that everyone is under considerable stress…
Nine thirty five.
It’s raining and ugly again today. I’m getting really sick of this crap but no one can control the weather. At least, not at a finger snap. But I tell myself it’s okay to feel lousy occasionally. Otherwise you’re putting on a happy face. Some people prefer a façade to the real thing if the real thing is unattractive. Well whatever. I offer no apologies for my moods. I have to get ready for my taxi pretty soon to go see Todd at the agency. I don’t feel stressed, though I do feel gloomy and even kind of mad about something. I feel irritable.
Quarter of one.
Something has knocked down my self confidence today so that I feel like just another person with schizophrenia. I wasn’t keen on my trip to the agency but I got it done. Usually it only reminds me that I have a mental illness all over again. It’s just not a very cheerful place to go. At least I’m back home to be with my dog and chill out the rest of the day. One of these days I will finish reading Native Son; I had about 90 pages to go. It’s a good read for anyone who feels disempowered and marginalized in society, not just Black people but everyone of color or disability that suffers discrimination and neglect. And while I’m thinking about that, the weather continues gray and gloomy in this part of Oregon. One good thing happened on my cab ride home: the radio played an old pop tune by The Bangles, stimulating thoughts of my sophomore year in college, back when life was better. Is there a reason why it can’t be good again? I think it’s up to you and me to change our attitude and reverse the tailspin we’re in. Maybe someday we’ll be dancing in the streets. It’s worth working for.
Quarter of seven.
To be at peace on one side is being at war on the other. You can’t please everybody, so it’s best to just please yourself. On my own behalf, I have no complaints. The system works for me well enough. We need to take care of our disabled people and not throw them to the lions or out on the streets. Many people feel resentful if someone isn’t pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, being a bum and a slacker. Even my family feels this way, especially the guys. Maybe my position is indefensible, but I’m not alone in it. My medication out of pocket would cost me about $1450 a month, and there’s no way I can afford that without my benefits. The alternative is to refuse medication or take a less expensive one that doesn’t work as well. Unmedicated people with schizophrenia often use alcohol or other illicit drugs and end up homeless. I just do the best I can with my circumstances, so people can take it or leave it… I had a dream last night that symbolized society with a veterinary hospital. The vet gave me hell for being a poor dog owner, so I told her what she could do. I still question whether sociology is a legitimate science. Is society a measurable, palpable thing, or just a meaningless abstraction? But if I can dream about it then it must have subsistence that I can feel, if not define.
Well I’m glad this morning is behind me and I have two days now to rest and take it easy. I started writing in my new journal this morning: really pleased with it. Seems to inspire me to better thoughts than ordinary blank books. A while ago I returned to my old theme of individual freedom, especially in Continental thinking, for instance Spain and France over the centuries, from Cervantes to Sartre. I just love that stuff. I always get excited for the idea of personal liberty, whether or not it’s illusory, perhaps an impossible dream. The point, I guess, is to keep the dream of freedom alive in our imaginations and work towards its realization. It’s awfully easy to get depressed with the belief that we are nothing but pawns in a government game, puppets controlled by a master puppeteer. This is especially true if you are a mentally ill person snared in the system, having to take the medication and jump through the hoops that ultimately boil down to economics and the associated greed and corruption. Even if freedom is only a dream, still dreams inspire people to action in the end. I might argue that Edgar Allan Poe flew to the moon just by writing a story about it, because posterity made his fantasy a reality, inspired by his original idea.
I’ve put on my scarlet Champion hoodie and a pair of dark blue jeans. Then I took my meds for the night, but I’ll be up for a while longer. The red hoodie reminds me of H— a few years ago, with whom I’ve lost touch. She became very ill from overworking herself and sleeping little, running on caffeine and nerves… Sometimes I feel I want to make everything stop. With Easter just a day away, I had an odd meditation on the fiction of Thomas Mann, especially Doctor Faustus, which implicitly deals with Schoenberg’s atonal music, inspired supposedly by the devil. Mann happened to be a Lutheran with the opinions of a Christian. But is it really fair to accuse people of demonology, especially if they are Jewish? Likewise, is it right to say that people with schizophrenia are possessed? And this is what I want to see come to an end. Ignorant people are unaware of their own ignorance, or else why do they persist in error? It does terrible violence to the mentally ill to impute demonic possession, let alone to attempt a deliverance or exorcism. It’s all hogwash. The real sick people are the Christians. Easter may come, but I’m already gone.
It is odd how people come and go, even me. Everything changes over time, and we go where it benefits us to go. The hardest thing to face is the essential solitude of every human life, and yet the aloneness creates our freedom. I can see Teri’s face in my mind’s eye, the receptionist for the agency. This somehow becomes symbolic of my fortunes since the time of the pandemic. The church pastor flipped his wig and preached about demonic possession in the same breath as mental illness, which was a very serious mistake as far as I was concerned. After the memorial service for my friend was such a disaster, my mind was made up to walk away from Our Redeemer. Pastor’s misconceptions are incorrigible, unfortunately, and he won’t listen to anyone else. I believe they stem from a phobia of biology and the facts of science, which seem to pose a threat to his ironclad spiritualism. Indeed, this would put him in a very difficult position regarding theology and philosophy, an unavoidable contradiction. So his only recourse is to stick his head in the sand and deny the truth that consciousness comes from brain function. I find it ironic that Pastor’s phobia is the very contrary of Freud’s alleged phobia of metaphysics. This accusation came from Carl Jung after the two friends split over the disagreement.
I had a good visit with Tim from church when we had coffee and a scone at Black Rock and then walked over to the dollar store to get a few things. It’s sunny today and forecast to be 59 degrees later on. I guess if I had to be graded on my independent living I’d get a D, or a low C at best. But this doesn’t really bother me right now. Tim remarked on my neighbor’s Spirit of 76 flag on his house. I shared with him that he’d told me that all you need to know are reading, writing, and arithmetic. Tim said that was classic. Oh well; politics is pretty silly stuff. It’s the ideology of the “real world,” but how useful is it in truth? Or how truthful is it in use? It seems like a lot of rhetorical hot air, though I’m fairly guilty of doing the same thing when I make posts. The purpose of my writing is ostensibly to raise consciousness for the fact of mental illness and try to empower those people. Also it’s to integrate their voices with those of the mainstream, at the same time being aware of the difficulties they face.
Quarter of eleven. Today is the calm before the storm Tuesday morning, so I’m going to appreciate this time, maybe read a book or write in my journal. I can play the bass if I need to let off steam or vent feelings of anger and frustration.
Eight o’clock in the morning.
It is mostly cloudy and under freezing right now. The sunrise made the clouds maroon and kind of ragged. Aesop prompted me to go to market, whining for a snack, so I did that. It wasn’t anything remarkable today. This winter has been a strange time for me: no church and no rock band to keep me busy. Just a lot of appointments with the agency, so I feel like a professional patient or something. I haven’t done enough fun things for me this season, for want of cash, transportation, or motivation. And I still feel as if the agency and other organizations have ruled my life rather despotically, giving me no autonomy or freedom to live life my own way. I get so used to compliance with what they want me to do, while below the surface I build up these feelings of resentment and frustration, because after all, who ordained the conduct of our lives? Are the rules prescribed in the Bible, or can I beg to differ as long as I don’t hurt anybody? Who is the lawgiver, and who says what is right and wrong? Do we need to keep the loonies on the straight and narrow? I doubt if life is really patterned after a Shakespeare play, with the cosmos being a big divine dance and everything fitting together perfectly— except for the clowns. Except for the illegitimate people. But Shakespeare didn’t make the rules either… I noticed a lot of bird life on my walk a while ago. Birds usually flock together, but humans are a bit more complex than that. And if they’re not, then they ought to be.