Toward Turkey Day

Two ten PM.

An interruption in my cocktail of meds has thrown off my ability to think very clearly. The state I’m in brings back old memories of therapy from four to five years ago. Life wasn’t very happy then, I admit. It was hard to tell who my friends really were and I wound up being abused on several fronts. Afterwards I perpetuated the grief by flogging myself with the same stuff. It was awful to be so vulnerable and weak, so now my sympathy goes out to others in a similar situation today— especially as the holidays approach and I know so many people will be alone for them, or among strangers for a public dinner or some other function. The most wonderful time of the year can actually be the most depressing for the ones dispossessed and disowned by their families. Some families are just plain dysfunctional and fail to come through for the members. It is not the individuals that fail the family but just the reverse.

These are my thoughts at this juncture. I hope other people are mindful and have an open heart and an open hand as we near the holiday season. 

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Not Stupid

After midnight.

My case manager is coming to see me tomorrow for an appointment. Since thinking about it, I’ve decided I’m going to request a different person for the job. What had been elusive to me is now quite clear: C— treats me like a moron. I may be psychotic but I’m not an idiot. There’s nothing wrong with my IQ, so why does he condescend to me like some kind of fool? My guess is that he doesn’t have his own mental health issues, so he’s kind of clueless on how to relate to clients. Unfortunately it comes across quite offensive to me, even insulting. There’s a phrase in Ulysses that I remember: “Hooray for the goddamned idiot!” It stuck with me and I said to my professor, “I’m not stupid.” He looked surprised and said, “I don’t think you’re stupid at all!” It was before my diagnosis with the illness, yet it’s still true that, with the right medication, my mind is very clear and sharp. 

Eclipse

Eight o five.

I haven’t been very well lately but at least I can spot it. The big tangerine in the sky has cleared the horizon as I try to relax my mind. Sometimes it seems to collapse on itself, or explode like the splitting of the atom. When I think I’m critiquing culture, it’s really just the tissue of my existence. The best I can do is avoid the church and religion and focus outward on ordinary objects. I feel like a shapeless glob of gelatin, like a jellyfish or something. Today is a lot like how I felt five years ago, though it’s not very pleasant to remember it. Back then I lived on a tub of ice cream and a loaf of bread every day… This is something different: Aesop isn’t hungry for breakfast yet today. Somewhere there must be an eclipse or sunspots; a supernova or some cataclysm. A long lost comet coming around. Asteroids.

Medication: A Complaint

Today I read 13 pages of The Magic Mountain; I’m not even sure what drew me to it. It’s one of the books that I dabble in and then put aside for long periods. Jeez, I must have started it 22 years ago! I blow hot and cold on the book. I also played my bass again, but I noticed how my chops are slower than they used to be, and I’m kind of sloppy technically. Another observation is the impact on me of the antipsychotic medication. It makes me feel very realistic even to the exclusion of experiencing anything mystical or romantic. Thomas Mann writes of romantic love in a magical kind of way, though with tongue in cheek humor. But I think my medication puts the skids on a lot of things that make life worth living. Thus it’s a tricky balance to maintain between imagination and reality. It seems that even Eros contains a share of mystic sentiment. When you love a person, it’s like taking a potion, and you idealize the object of your desire. This is the magic I mentioned. But a realistic mood ruins the effect of the love potion. It knocks Cupid’s arrows off course. I know it sounds silly but I’m serious.

But I have no choice but to keep taking the medication. The imagination thing is feast or famine, or all or nothing. As it is today, I have to live with the famine side of the equation. So although I’m feeling sane and rational, I’m not having any fun with my life. I think that sooner or later, something somewhere is going to break. Something’s got to give, or it’s all for nothing.

Inside and Out

Quarter of eleven.

The best I can do is be honest with everyone and me too. I’m really struggling to stay sober, and it has nothing to do with externals at all; it’s on its own autonomous time clock like a bomb waiting to go off. I wish there was a better way to control it, though I think it’s controlling me instead. A counselor said I’d be rich if I could explain why some people recover and others don’t. I believe it’s a matter of biology and can’t be argued with from the outside. Like necessity, it does what it’s going to do: like the awe you feel from experiencing Greek tragedy, where fate and free will operate simultaneously on different levels, but fate is always borne out. Go ask Tiresias. Go consult the Oracle at Delphi. What happens in the end happens all the same.

Four fifty AM.

I awoke 90 minutes ago, my sleeping stint spent, and read a sampling of Whitman. I don’t know what accounts for the crap day I had yesterday; I only know I felt small and helpless and my case manager pissed me off. When I got home, I waxed delusional towards late afternoon: not a happy camper. Perhaps the passing of today will give some perspective so I can see what happened to me. And maybe the outdoor smoke will clear up before Wednesday. Between the smoke and the fog, life has been a study in obscurity for a week both outside and within. 

Over the Coals

Eleven o’clock.

C— is coming to pick me up at noon, so then we’ll go to Black Rock to have our appointment. It isn’t much fun growing older; I notice how my body is changing with age and I want to turn the hourglass over to start another lifetime. I remember a song called “Visine.” It talks about “the torture of growing old / You must stand there / You must agree…” You just have to accept aging and eventual death, however you deal with it: with belief in heaven or whatever helps. I was playing my new bass when I realized I had rubbed a silly blister on my left thumb. I can’t get away with the things I used to… The air is incredibly smoky today from regional wildfires, yet despite this, C— still plans on our rendezvous. I’m a little nervous but I’m trying mind over matter and the rational side of psychology. This is more black and white than the full color of emotional thinking; rather flat or two dimensional, but it helps me control the tendency to panic and paranoia. It’s very good for people with severe mental illness or simple anxiety or depression. Imagination can be my worst foe sometimes. It makes a catastrophe out of something small, fanning the flames to a conflagration… Most people swear by emotional therapies. However, fighting imagination with more imagination is illogical and infeasible in my case. How does a belief in “karma” help someone with paranoid delusions, for instance. It only makes them worse…

Quarter after one.

My appointment is done. I didn’t enjoy it very much; I felt I was in the hot seat, under scrutiny or inquisition, a severe test: almost as if I’d done something wrong. So, maybe I had good reason to dread this meeting. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood today. But it’s over with now, while the air outside gets still smokier and less breathable, and my thumb smarts for lack of a bandaid. 

The King of Pain

Six forty.

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.

A Letter

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.

Egg in a Vise

Four o’clock.

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…

Manic Friday

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.