Quarter after five. Thomas Mann assumes that sickness has moral underpinnings. I’ve always struggled with that opinion, but there’s such a consensus that agrees with him. What we don’t understand we treat with religion. I’m not even sure how to define mental illness anymore, having heard so many perspectives, and none of them superior to another. When was the last time I heard the DSM5 referred to? At least in America, talk therapy has monopolized the field of behavioral health. I never hear anything about psychiatry anymore, maybe because mental illness is too expensive for society to afford. While this is going on, people with schizophrenia and bipolar still self medicate with illicit drugs on the street. Some of them even refuse medication, and we tell them that’s okay. Honestly, I haven’t spoken with another person who has schizophrenia in many months. It’s as though they were running around undiagnosed and unmedicated. Mental illness has become a big gray area, and all because we’ve done away with psychiatry and diagnostic labels. Or is this only my own experience in the past three years? What do we do with our severely mentally ill people these days? Where have they gone? Why don’t I see them anymore? Perhaps they’re all homeless and sleeping under the Washington Jefferson Street Bridge? They seem to have been assimilated into the mainstream, their symptoms ignored and untreated. Is this a good thing or a terrible miscarriage of justice? I only think of the suffering of people with psychosis who don’t get the relief they deserve. There’s something wrong with this picture. But of course, I would have to see some statistics on recovery rates to really know what is happening…
My suspicion is confirmed: there is a sociological component to schizophrenia. To be ill with it is to lose touch not only with reality but also with society. For convenience, let’s assume that there’s a collective soul of sorts, which we may call “God.” A person with schizophrenia has lost contact with this reality. Another way of saying this is that schizophrenia is nonconformity or even rebellion towards the trends that others take for granted. There really is a right way and a wrong way of doing things, in accordance with one’s social context. Or anyhow, this is my impression today. The factual accuracy of this observation remains to be substantiated… UPS just dropped off a package at my door, upsetting the dog and interrupting my whole train of thought. I was saying that schizophrenia is a sociological condition as well as psychiatric but I cannot verify this claim. I am only one person with the illness and can’t speak for everyone. And how much sense does it make to say a person is “sociologically ill?” Let alone how to help the person. Radical nonconformity is unhealthy for both the individual and his culture… but again I am ignorant about the field of sociology and its terminology. It would be necessary for me to go back to college and study the science formally. Still, most people will understand when I quote Pink Floyd: “Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the loonies on the path.”
One fifty. I guess I’ll just start writing and see where it goes. Maybe there’s not much to say. Except this: life doesn’t take a dump on me like it used to. Life respects me a little better than in the past two decades, which seems like a miracle. I remember the uphill battles I fought in the workplace 12 years ago, and how guilty I always felt. What was that all about? More recently, I was able to go back to L— H— and get a little revenge. Truly it was criminal how they arbitrarily closed Harmony House and began to crack the whip on the mentally ill. I never felt that that was right. The agency transformed into a labor camp, in my opinion. I only know what I saw firsthand: participants shredding documents, mowing agency lawns, and washing agency cars. Only once I saw a guy watching a movie by himself in what used to be Harmony House. I felt a strong sense of injustice at what I saw happening. For their part, the Republicans at L— H— were loving it. But it was just wrong. Those participants deserved to have fun and to be human. Instead they were treated like robots. My resignation was in large part a conscientious objection to the injustice I witnessed. Call me a radical, I don’t care what people say.
There is no evidence that schizophrenia is caused by repression of gay instincts. It was merely a nonsense theory dreamed up by Sigmund Freud a century ago. Without proof, a theory is sunk, or at least it isn’t a fact. Scientific studies show that the predisposition for schizophrenia is hereditary and not phenomenological. This is what I go by. As for the prognosis, the illness is incurable except in 15 percent of cases. I doubt if Sheryl was aware of either of these facts. She believed she was onto a miracle cure that she read about on the web. I have no faith in talk therapy with regard to schizophrenia. I’m an oddball for my opinion in our time, but posterity will probably prove me right. Talk therapy is in vogue because it is less expensive than psychiatry, and of course the world wants to save a buck or two. The rule goes, any accurate knowledge costs money, while misinformation is available for free. I just hope for a day when this sad state of affairs is redressed. Some rich and generous soul with a science brain must come forward and set things to right. But then, the rich usually get richer while the poor get poorer. This problem needs to be fixed first.
Quarter after two. I slept for about four hours and had at least one significant dream. It featured Vince from across the street many years ago. We were having a conversation in a sparely appointed room about James Baldwin. Vince said very articulately that Baldwin’s life had been a social experiment. He added that it was a difficult one, but Baldwin didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be a homosexual. He was born that way… What Vince was saying so intelligently could not have been voiced by the wife he divorced long ago. Although, his daughter Victoria is studying to be a therapist, or will be someday. I recall the bond of father and daughter they had. They shot hoops together out in their driveway… So when I awoke, I returned to think about giving talk therapy another chance. My plan is to call Laurel Hill this morning and ask about the possibilities for me of doing that.
Quarter after four. Well the book came. I marked my place in it where I left off… Tomorrow I’ll call in a refill for my medication, as I am down to my last three pills. It seems to me that my life would have been totally different if I had flown the nest at 18 years old. What if I had gone to Columbia University in New York? Would I have learned that I was a homosexual? And then what? My mother was protective of me while I went to college here. She judged that one friend who came over was gay— and she was probably right. He and a circle of his friends tended to be androgynous. They had wanted me to join their clique… and what would have been wrong with that? The bunch of them used marijuana frequently. I figured out later that must be why one of them had tits like a girl. They were not good students. But why did they want me in their group? I belonged to another group of friends, mostly musicians, who were all heterosexual. The network spanned multiple high schools and ages. This was the reality I chose, and which my mother approved. It appears quite clear to me now… Moreover, when I looked up Sheryl on the web, I noticed that her name was preceded by a “Ms.” I don’t think she’s ever been married. On the other hand, Beverly is a mother and a grandmother.
I’ve been mistaken for gay since junior high school because I never had a girlfriend. My illness made me shy of dating when I was young. Some people accept that schizophrenia is a biological disease, and that’s that. You treat it with meds just as you would a physical illness. But others go in with a psychic scalpel and try to find meaning in the nonsense, a method I disagree with. The controversy between psychiatrists and psychologists will likely go on long after I’m gone.
I don’t know what my reason is for wanting to leave WordPress. Was I really serious about giving a call to my old psychiatrist?… I just left him a message with his receptionist. She was very nice. Apparently they still have my old chart, which she was able to access. It also sounds like he is taking new patients. Again, I don’t know why I’m doing this. It probably has to do with the pandemic. I have a vague desire to go home, wherever that is. To return to my roots… I deleted the Daily Devotions from my inbox. Religious practice is more and more difficult for me. As long as it’s a free country, I can choose where I go. I began having delusions of the apocalypse last night. No, such ideas are not for me. I’m going to go where it’s okay not to believe crazy notions.
I don’t trust anyone to know anything important, so is that the basis of the schizophrenia? I once trusted my psychiatrist’s opinions, but when he insulted me I left him. Implicitly I still refer to him for answers. But it also turned out that he was withholding information from me regarding my meds. The antipsychotic I was on eventually gave me arrhythmia and occasioned a hospital stay. Then I began to perceive Dr T— as a dictator. Ever since, no authority figure has been stable for me. Kate disapproved when I wanted to fire him— but by and by I left her too. I’ve been just a maverick after that. The only truth I know is rooted in my past with the two of them, and it was scientific certainty… Dr T— was my shrink for twenty five years, then when he called me a homeless bum on three occasions I finally rebelled in a big way. Perhaps I did the wrong thing, and my sister would take his side just as Kate did? I only know that all the certainty in my life has been shaken to the foundation, and the only one who can repair the damage is myself. But there’s an exception to the things going wrong, and that is the sobriety I’ve managed to pull off since firing my psychiatrist. Is this just a coincidence?
Midnight hour. Deep down throbs the love for my mother still. I hear archaic music in my brain: strains of Irving Berlin from an LP record I had. I was three years old and still sleeping in a crib. One of the songs I knew was “Blue Skies.” I located the record online: the Melachrino Strings, on RCA Camden. Only available on vinyl. Interesting how I projected my soul into the music I heard. Hearing it again for real would be restoring. Goodness, 1968 was a long time ago. I was alive then! It seems impossible to me because of all the therapy I’ve had. I’ve been gutted with CBT and Vraylar, rendered a robot with a robot’s feelings. Yet I wanted to do this. I thought it would make me happy to be so independent. But per Wallace Stevens: “It is not the reason that makes us happy or unhappy.” And indeed I’ve reached the end of the mind… to begin anew. My family can’t go there with me. It’s beyond their capacity, so even if we’re in touch, mentally I’m somewhere else. Indeed I am a machine, but of my own making. And my house reflects my mind, rebuilt to be healthy and righteous. My perceptions will be accurate and true. Can T or F be what we call happy? But we are beyond flesh and blood now. Perhaps the feelings are in my bones?
Two thirty. I read the second book of The Prelude and then had my sandwich. The workers were done after twelve and now have gone. My back hurts from sitting in this seat, so I might lie down soon. Wordsworth says something critical of science that I like. To him it’s preferable to apprehend nature as a single whole with what he calls the heart, to dicing her up into different quantitative sciences. He assumes that Coleridge his friend would agree. And again W alludes to the plasticity and active quality of the mind, projecting as he says its own kind of light onto natural objects, thereby transforming them. Perception for W is a creative process, with the mind wrapping itself around things— like the “Anecdote of the Jar” by Wallace Stevens, but W had the idea a century earlier. So that: my experience with psychosis the day of my cemetery errand would be quite normal for Wordsworth, but nobody calls him psychotic for having those perceptions. What if “psychosis” really is just another way of sensing reality? Could we then abolish the DSM?
But I’ve seen some low functioning cases of schizophrenia that were very pathetic, peppered with religious delusions and odd speech. Some people have delusions of the FBI or CIA or other government agencies. One person with OCD I overheard obsessing about the future of the species. Another always wanted to use the fax machine to communicate something to the authorities. Still another believed that someone had sabotaged her TV and VCR with electromagnetic energy.
Thus there is a marked difference between delusions and Wordsworth’s active perception. It’s just difficult knowing where to draw the line. I think it would be terribly rash to eliminate the DSM on a whim, but again I am hung on the horns between two schools of thought…