Though it’s Thursday, I keep thinking tomorrow is Saturday. I guess I’m just bored and lonely. I look forward to having company this weekend, so my imagination tries to rush it. During any given week or even a day, I go through mental phases, but I usually end up on what is rational and realistic. There’s a difference between believing and being a historian of beliefs, if I am either one. I’ve just squandered eight dollars on two classic books of Freud dealing with society and culture. His attitudes on science may be on the upswing again, for all I know. Eight bucks can also buy a great cheeseburger. I get this image of my old psychiatrist’s office in the Minor building downtown very long ago. For some reason I refused to grow up mentally while under his care. If anything, I regressed to a childlike state. Was I being deliberately perverse with him? The more he pushed me, the more contrary I became. His assumptions were like Freud’s: science was a higher development than religion, just the opposite of Kierkegaard. My shrink was not familiar with philosophy such as existentialism. He didn’t waste his time. Today I can’t think of Freud without linking him to my psychiatrist. Ironically, it seems safe now to go there, to read his (rather dated) stuff and rise out of the primordial ooze.
My Vraylar medication blocks brain dopamine so well that I can’t feel anything spiritual. Obviously this condition will influence what I say.
Do we want to conceive life as a big something or a big zero? This was the argument of Victor Hugo in Les Miserables. Unfortunately I have to take the medication, so I’m kind of stuck regarding the religion thing. I wish it were not so.
With dopamine levels, it’s feast or famine. Is there a happy middle ground between these extremes?
Quarter after eight.
The sun is in my eye where I’m sitting with my iPad. By eleven, they say it should rain again. The streets were wet for my promenade around the corner to buy groceries. Today, I was the only customer in the little market. Thomas was the clerk. He’s a young guy with a black beard and glasses, wearing a black beanie advertising an NFL team. He is always pleased when he sees me enter the door. Also he told me he’s a computer science student at the community college… I’m not planning to go to church this morning. Before I left for the store, I said to myself, “No spooks!” And I really meant this, whatever kind of infidel it makes me. You’re not an American if you don’t believe in theology or metaphysics, so I guess I’m un American. It’s the fear of supernatural beings that makes life a pain, and the menace of hellfire. I belong to a long tradition of epicureans, whether they know who Epicurus was or not.
I brought up a book to my prescriber the other day, a classic work on schizophrenia by Eugen Bleuler called Dementia Praecox. The book is fascinating because it describes cases of psychosis in a time before medications were developed. The delusions the patients reported were like the experience of hell. I had a copy, purchased online for about $80, then sold it to my psychiatrist for $20. I wonder if he uses it for his lectures on the history of psychiatry? He was never very grateful to me for anything I gave him. A lot of people are like that.
Six fifty five morning.
Outside is black as ink but I went out in it anyway. At four thirty I could no longer sleep so I got up; besides, my dreams were rather unpleasant. The music I hear is archaic for me, some Three Dog Night from my grade school years. My family was closer knit in those days, or so it seemed, maybe because all the adults drank, while today, the drinkers make a minority.
I remember a birthday breakfast I had with my sister nine years ago at Burrito Boy on River Road to the south of here. A strange rendezvous, because she called me to say the battery in her van was dead and she wanted to cancel. However, I suggested picking her up in my truck, and that’s what we ended up doing. Distinctly I recall telling her at our table that I thought I was a nicer person when I was drinking, which in hindsight was a load of crap. But in my defense, I drank for self medication of the illness, so it wasn’t entirely illicit. The drug I take for psychosis now wasn’t on the market until the following year. Up till then I squeaked by on a drug developed in the Fifties, a “first generation” antipsychotic that barely sufficed to keep me feeling okay… There had been a controversy over whether talk therapy could take the place of medication for schizophrenia. I don’t know what the current thinking is on that, but it seems very dubious to me, especially when psychologists can’t agree on what causes schizophrenia, if it’s even an experiential thing.
I think psychiatry is to thank for us being out of hospitals, not to mention out of medieval dungeons, chained up in darkness.
Quarter of nine.
The early days of my recovery have returned to my memory due to the fifth anniversary of the same. I even remember being on a different medication before Vraylar, a sublingual that didn’t work very well for me… I confess that I’m all confused and I don’t make much sense lately. I need to stay sober, but I also have to maintain sanity and proportion. I hear it raining now, at last. The sound of it is soothing, a simple thing for tranquility and peace of mind. I’ve been so scared of relapse because the five year milestone seems so big and important. But no one else has control over it: it’s only me with that power. For this reason, should I be afraid of what might happen? I think I should trust myself to do what’s good for me.
Nine fifty five.
The recovery rates reported by AA are astonishingly low, and they go down as more time goes by…
Quarter of eleven.
I feel bloated after an early lunch and the second Snapple tea. I left a message for my sister on her voicemail. Now there’s an opening in the cloud cover for the sun to peek through. I don’t see the point in much of anything. Writing keeps my mind and my hands occupied so I won’t be tempted to drink. Yesterday I played my bass but I wasn’t satisfied with my sound or the way it went. When you don’t have a car, how can you hope to play in a band? The world has moved on and left me behind. Even my sobriety doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Supposedly all these good things will drop in your lap when you don’t drink, as if a god took care of you. Still I persist at my life and wait for something good to come my way. And that’s probably what I’m doing wrong. I think what I need is some good advice from a person who is shrewd and realistic, kind of like how my old psychiatrist was, because my life is going nowhere!
I think it’s good that you took the day off from reading today… I just got back from the store, where I bought a Coke and Aesop’s favorite treat of chicken jerky. I looked around at the sky and it was blue with a lot of white from clouds or maybe smoke. It’s 90 degrees. You know, what you’ve been saying is right. The fact is that I really like my Edgar Rice stuff. Why should I let anyone ruin it for me? It takes me back to a happy time in my life. In 79 I was 12 years old and just finding some things that I really loved. I read my pulp novels and drew pictures to illustrate what I’d read. I had a wonderful time. I didn’t really hit the wall until I started high school and caught mononucleosis. There’s evidence now of a possible correlation between schizophrenia and the virus that causes mono. In my case, this makes good sense. My battle with mono in high school was awful and depressing. At the end of my senior year, my doctor did some work on my blood and determined that I had a low level of immunoglobulin type A, which may also turn out to be related to the schizophrenia. But I’m only guessing, and the research on this stuff is going very slowly. Anyway, I was terribly sick during high school, and the schizophrenia happened to me in college.
A problem with my ex psychiatrist was that he never believed anything his patients said until there was a consensus, a considerable body of evidence. It always drove me kind of crazy to have him pooh pooh my observations or complaints about something with my illness or a medication I was on. He had to see it in JAMA or whatever before he would believe it. He didn’t credit us with any intelligence, sometimes even humanity. His patients were beneath him. Ick! He was an autocrat.
The Coke tastes really good this afternoon. I’m resolved to read my Edgar Rice and enjoy it.
It’s a Gloria day. I’ve just gone to the store for the basic daily stuff and a Snapple tea for her. The sun is out and there are no clouds. Aesop heard a cat screech and went ballistic for a minute. I’m kind of pondering the nature of introversion just now. I wonder if it’s related to how assertive a person is, or unassertive as the case may be. I was thinking that Coleridge used his imagination and constant talk as a defense for a scared and nervous person inside. My old psychiatrist was very righteous about being an extrovert but it’s not for everybody, depending on how natural it is for people to be shy and withdrawn. Probably we’ll never know the truth of this… My mind hears music by Debussy from Images for Orchestra, taking me back to my birthday in 1995. My dad took me to Fifth and Pearl Shops downtown where I got a couple of new CDs. After that he drove me to the top of Skinner Butte for a look around at the city… I think that in my case, introversion has been a matter of having toxic parents; and yet how can I say this when I have positive memories of my dad since I became sick? Nothing is ever very simple. I guess that’s the thing to keep in mind. Also it’s so hard for people to communicate with each other: our minds are inevitably private and personal, like when you read Virginia Woolf. If it were not for language, we’d never know anything about each other’s thoughts. It is naive to say that everyone’s experience is the same. My psychiatrist was wrong at least on this point. And the Debussy keeps playing in my head, inaudible to anyone but me.
Quarter of one.
I have nothing to report today except to say that my poor brain is all screwed up, or so it seems to me. Tomorrow I’ll start a new antidepressant to complement the Vraylar, so hopefully I’ll feel better after that. I did an all-nighter with a big Coca-Cola last night and it actually felt pretty good to me. I think I’ve been struggling with depression for a few months, and when you can’t fix the problem through the interior, you must resort to biology for the remedy. And who would be dumb enough to deny biology any validity; although I’ve heard some people say they reject evolution, especially where it affects human beings. This is such a Victorian attitude; I remember a poem Tennyson wrote about being descended from the brutes. He couldn’t accept this idea from Darwin. But Maryann Evans was a Darwinist in her fiction including Middlemarch (another book I should get around to reading)… The proof of materialism is that you take the psychotropic medication and your mental state changes. This also happens with alcohol and anything else you put in your body. As for indeterminism and the idea of freedom, the proof of these things is an uphill battle, and ultimately a crazy making endeavor. I think I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll just embrace the world of sanity and limits; of cause and effect.
I tried playing the bass but my confidence was blown away by the therapy visit I’d had this morning. I usually put on blinders to the ugly things I don’t want to see, like a form of extreme introversion or maybe selective denial of reality. This began when I had a Nissan truck and the interior was always a big mess. My brother said, “You don’t see it, but other people do.” He meant himself of course. Since that time the messiness has spread to my house, and I don’t know why. It’s a problem that has gotten progressively worse in about ten years’ time. It seems like there’s nothing I can do to fix it. Maybe underlying it all is a subconscious motive, perhaps an attitude of devil may care; maybe I need a good reason to keep things clean. Otherwise I figure it’s not worth the effort if it’s only me. Underneath it all I think it’s due to a feeling of despair and futility. It’s a voice saying what’s the use. Or it could be from a sense of rebellion and reckless independence, like defiance and perversity. It could be any or all of these things at a submerged level. Possibly I have anger issues directed somewhere. No one else has been able to figure it out yet.
And then maybe no amount of psychologizing will ever expose the reasons for my behavior. It’s just a schizophrenic brain glitch.
My mind always tends to dichotomize, I don’t know why. It could be schizophrenia or my college training. But I’m okay as long as I don’t think. I’ve just gone to the store, a bit later than normal. Michelle was worried about a customer who was wasted on some drug and loitering by the storefront. For a change I bought an Arizona tea, raspberry flavor. Only a dollar. Funny but I didn’t see any women customers in the market today. Aesop’s mood is better this morning than a few days ago. I partly regret that I left the band with Mike and Ron, yet I know my reasons were good. In fact I was dreaming about that this morning. Mike had said, very reasonably, that he did music to have fun. But it’s not very fun when the drugs get in the way of making music… The air outside is still very smoky and gross. The sun that comes through is amber colored. After a while I think I’ll dig out my hybrid SX bass and mess around with it. I bought it ten years ago from Rondo Music for dirt cheap. It reminds me of better times for the world… and for rock and roll.
Ten forty. And yet a lot of that was an illusion, facilitated by alcoholism. I remember a ride I took to see my psychiatrist in February 2014. There was snow on the ground, snow in the parking lot. Seems like a billion years ago. Visits with him were getting tense, and I dreaded going. Orchestrated versions of The Beatles in the waiting room. I stared out the windows, thinking of my parents who were gone and wondering what my doctor really expected of me. Was it realistic? Would he have accepted that I was doing the best I could?
On second thought, I might retire the old SX bass.