Wee hours of Monday.
I made the mistake of taking my cholesterol medication tonight, so now I’m paying for it in insomnia. I guess I might as well read a book for a while… With Pastor, my first reaction to his sermon yesterday was to rebel and disagree. But later I tried to harmonize with his point of view. And now I don’t know what to think about it. The truth is that I don’t like when people talk about the devil as if he really existed. It sounds quite cuckoo of some Christians, and indeed they may be psychotic, out of touch with reality. Probably for my own good I should avoid the church as I’ve been doing. That sermon yesterday was like a horror movie… I have been made well by taking my antipsychotic, but it sounds like some people are on the downswing, through no fault of my own. In the old days, they used to chain schizophrenic people up in a dungeon. Today, a lot of us still end up in a hospital… It doesn’t help the situation when religious leaders lose their marbles and spout crap about the devil. I’m so tired of all the insanity I run into every day, and the church only fuels the fire.
Slept poorly again, but I thought of something quite important that I’d been missing: the experience of pleasure must outweigh my daily pain, or else life becomes onerous. At the store I need to get an anti inflammatory drug for my backache, which is worse now than ever before. And for fun I might buy a two liter of Coke to try to restore my spirits. Yesterday I longed to fly over the rainbow to escape from these unhappy times, this ride for which we’re all along. Everybody needs a diversion today, or as soon as possible. I might play my guitar later today, though it’s hard when nobody else wants to join me in having fun with music… There will be church tomorrow morning. I’m staying home because of the peer pressure and the denial of what the future will truly be. I guess I’ve grown a bit cynical of how organized religion operates, and I don’t want to make any more donations… I’m embarrassed to say that I had a hallucination last night. I heard the voice of a master of ceremonies somewhere nearby; I kept expecting a band to start playing. After twenty minutes the auditory illusion disappeared.
Eight forty. I bought the way overdue ibuprofen for my back pain and took one when I got home. The sun came out temporarily and now the sky is turning dark gray. The forecast calls for rain… Away from the clinical terminology, sometimes the experience of schizophrenia can be rather poetic. And to ponder the origins of the illusions is always baffling and mysterious. Even Descartes wondered if he could be deceived by an evil genius while writing his Meditations… Feeding the dog was difficult for me, and now the pain reliever makes me woozy. I want to escape with a good book for a while over the rainbow or through the looking glass to a better place than this. The trouble with escape is that you always have to come back. Often it’s with a hangover, depending on your method.
Another possibility: how do you tell the difference between real and fantasy?
Two thirty in the morning.
I was thinking again about the nature of psychosis. Like dreams, it is the fulfillment of a wish. It’s the attempt to make reality conform to your desires. It shifts shapes into what they essentially are not, but what the deluded person thinks they ought to be. Desires and wishes play a major role in the religious life as well. How is prayer any different from a dream? You’re merely trying to influence natural events to go your way. The ancient religious practice of the fire sacrifice had the same motivation as prayer: to sway nature to accord with human wishes. But such endeavors are vain and useless. The only way to change reality is by practical action, and that means work. No purely mental effort can solve a problem. I can sit here and wish with all my might that my house was clean and tidy, but only a physical effort will make it happen. I don’t believe that anybody can move a pencil with their mind, or start a fire, or communicate by telepathy. Psychosis can shift shapes in the mind of the observer, but objectively, reality doesn’t budge.
Real life is not like a Jorge Luis Borges story in which nature yields to the will of humankind… and yet a beautiful song by Yes occurs to me. In “That, that Is,” there’s an interlude where Jon Anderson sings, “How did heaven begin?” And of course, there’s the irrepressible memory of what a baby sees…
My mind is a blank. I was just dreaming about going online and buying a new set of pickups for my bass guitar and finding that they were back ordered. But in reality, I have no shortage of gear; the deficiencies I observe are simply me. I feel that I need things to inspire me when this lack is actually a psychological condition. Why is it satisfying to spend money on myself? It seems like an addiction, “the habit forming need for more and more.”
Meanwhile the housefly that wandered in before the weekend still hasn’t found his way back out— which reminds me of Wittgenstein’s analogy of the fly in the bottle of philosophy. He needs to be shown the way back out. It occurs to me that one can also break the bottle, like Alexander cutting the rope with the Gordian Knot. You can have a loss of philosophical faith, particularly in logic, and make the jump to intuitionism. Sort of like experiencing a psychotic break, when the mind is flooded with mythological content from nowhere. Strong wishes just take over and reality is lost in a waking dream, a dream where your wishes come true.
Seven thirty 🕢. I’m in the waiting room at the institute. My taxi ride was with Deluxe and not Budget, thank goodness. It’s supposed to be a very warm day today. I have a view out the window of hills and trees. I’m alone here. I wonder if Joann still works here. I remember her from seven years ago. A recovered alcoholic.
Eight thirty 🕣. I feel great. No phlebotomy today. Those days are all long gone, and I don’t really miss them. Wendy is very nice. The alcoholism was a disease that sort of ran its course, and now I feel free as a bird. Waiting for my taxi while the world wakes up. It’s still rather cold outside. I’m sitting in the breezeway outside the institute.
Nine o’clock 🕘. Home again. I guess I’ll go to the store now… Now it’s time for Aesop’s breakfast. Things are just getting back to normal— or the new normal.
Quarter after ten. A guy in the waiting room bent my ear with his conspiracy theory of the pandemic. He sounded just as loony as I do sometimes. Something about a scheme to depopulate the world and make a potful of money for a few. I could follow his arguments just fine, but they didn’t quite ring true. I hope he was feeling all right. I guess I just looked approachable and receptive, so this guy opened up to me. I know I’ve sounded equally crazy when talking to people. I was very unwell in January 2008 when I spouted junk to my PCP about Satan replacing Jesus as the champion of the oppressed and poor. I think I’d gotten the idea from reading a little Baudelaire, but I’m pretty sure that the poet didn’t intend anything like what I was saying. I was very sick, and I realized it. I don’t know what my PCP thought of my bizarre speech.
Wee hours. The antipsychotic I take has quelled my paranoia. I can chat with my sister without feeling threatened or devoured. My perspective on my family is more realistic now than before I started the Vraylar. I don’t make second guesses about what they are thinking. This used to be a terrible habit. And the change is all inside of me. Everyone else is the same as they always were. This is the sanest and soberest I’ve ever been. Also I’ve stopped the gabapentin. Now I won’t have to worry about withdrawals from it… Psychosis is really just imagination run amok. I think I’d rather be realistic than deluded. Schizophrenia is bad enough on its own, but alcohol makes it a lot worse. My brother used to weave daydreams about people’s behavior. He could talk about it for hours and hours. A lot of it was inaccurate. It was as if he needed to tell stories about people to make sense of life for himself. But these stories were lies, and he lived a lie… Is it better to be realistic or to tell stories about life? I guess it depends on the storyteller. And how psychotic is it to weave a web of fantasies? Depends on the dreamer.
Six thirty 🕡. Only ten more minutes to sit here waiting. Okay, so playing the green bass did something to my mood today. It disturbed the dust of old memories and feelings. Can I overcome this? Or will I have to stop playing that axe? What made me pick it up again in the first place?
Eight thirty 🕣. I just got back from church. It went merely okay, but it was nice to chat with R— after it was over. We had only four singers this time; I was the sole guy. Some people are talking the end of the world due to the pandemic, but I try to be optimistic about the future. It would be awfully weird if we were the chosen ones to see the apocalypse, right? It would be psychotic to believe such a thing, wouldn’t it? And yet I had a dream once about being in church and witnessing Armageddon. The sanctuary was packed with people, and I had a conversation with our musician’s wife. I don’t know what we talked about. But anyway, the eschatology stuff scares me because maybe I’m not chosen for the New Jerusalem; perhaps I’m destined for the pit. My dream was very strange but vivid. Still I hope against hope that God is not real and not coming back to judge the living and the dead. It would be just too bizarre for my sanity, for the parameters of reason and sense. Has the world gone crazy? Or maybe it’s only me.
Lisa the counselor didn’t like me very much. She often brought up narcissism in my presence, to the point where I took offense and wrote her a letter demanding an apology. She was afraid of me after that. That year, 2009, everyone was extremely superstitious. I found myself writing poems I didn’t believe. They made no rational sense. I shared a few of them with Kate and she perceived that I was not well. So, she patiently guided me back to sanity. She served as my “therapist” and confidante for six years, reversing the damage caused by the world gone insane during the Bush presidency. Kate was actually an anti therapist. She of course did not believe in God or any spiritual nonsense. I sure could use her common sense today. I’m becoming sick of WordPress. The religious people are getting on my nerves. Americans in general are mostly out of their minds these days. Look at who we elected President. We need somebody like Kate in leadership to reel us back in to scientific certainty. The world needs to be healed of its delusions. Learn our science facts and control global warming. Stop polluting ourselves out of a habitat. Stop expecting the new Jerusalem to come and start providing for our future. I will not contribute to the madness of religion anymore.
Two fifty. Almost time to go to my appointment. A date with fate in a black taxi. I’m not having a good day. This tablet is freaking me out. I posted a rant about how I feel to my blog. It’s been a long day and it isn’t over yet. I feel the way most artists do when privacy is menaced.
One o seven. I need to figure out what is really bugging me lately, and I think it’s my coming colonoscopy. I complained of an invasion of privacy, and a camera up the butt can be no other than that. So I might as well talk about my feelings rather than let them infiltrate all my other thoughts. I feel that a colonoscopy is not only an invasion, but also a violation, even though I know it’s supposed to help me. Medical procedures, from a psychological point of view, are often strangely sexual. I feel the same way about psychotherapy. The bottom line is the word rape, and the word violence is related to the French viol, for rape. Once, when I was psychotic, I was in a bathroom of a phlebotomist and saw lingam and yoni in all the plumbing. The faucet looked like a phallus, the basin like a womb. I wonder if everyone has that experience subconsciously? Likewise, the fiber optic tube of a colonoscopy resembles a very long phallus inserted up the rectum and into the colon. So that whoever invented the procedure was probably anal sadistic, to use a Freudian term. I’m likely making too much of a fuss over a little thing. Everyone over fifty years old undergoes this operation, but still I must confess that I’m not mentally prepared for it…
Quarter of one. I teetered on the brink of relapse this early afternoon. Thought I would have a nervous breakdown if I couldn’t drink. I don’t know how close I was to actually going to the store for a six pack. I killed the time by taking a nap; it was futile to try to think my way out of it. I should probably give up Coca-Cola, for this is a placebo for the real thing. Eliminate the hand to mouth behavior completely. I felt guilty for skipping church again yesterday, and this produced a paranoia about my sobriety. But I honestly still doubt that belief in Jesus makes any difference. Or rather, I know I don’t believe except for when I feel psychotic. The catalyst for my episode was listening to King Crimson again. My brain is very sensitive to spiritual suggestion. It was my mistake to put that Cd on and absorb it. I admit that I admire the talent of those musicians, and I may still be inspired by their stuff. But I might have to put on the full armor of God to defend myself from relapse. It’s true that 1995 was a long time ago, yet those mental states still lurk dormant in my subconscious. It doesn’t take much to wake them up. The number one thing for me is sobriety, whatever it takes.