Lap of Fate

Quarter of ten at night.

Living in American culture hasn’t done me any favors as a person with a mental health diagnosis. Even my family rejects me, as I actually predicted in a story I wrote when I was 19 years old. Sometimes I feel like a perfect pariah, like the monster in Frankenstein, totally cut off from humanity except by the power of his rhetoric. Only his speech gives him any kind of place among humankind, kind of like my own situation. I can remember the lectures I heard on Frankenstein by Professor Pyle when I was a student. It was in the springtime, and occasionally while he was talking, a yellow jacket would fly in the open windows and dangle above his head. I sat next to a young lady named Lori who was nice looking and very smart. She worked for another professor grading papers and exams. Her plan was to join the Peace Corps after graduation and then be a teacher wherever she wanted. I had no such plans after college; I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I had a nebulous dream of being a rockstar. I guess I sort of dropped it all in the lap of fate, though I knew I didn’t want to leave school. Now I’m not sure what happened to me. But I think I knew there was something different about me. And underneath it all I still count on being catapulted to fame, however quixotic this expectation is. I don’t know where I got such a beautiful idea. 

Sanity

Quarter of eight.

We’ve got rain showers today. This is better than the lifeless weather of the last few days. I have to go to the pharmacy for my prescription tomorrow or Friday. Also I should go to the bank soon. For some reason I’ve had ideas that are more spiritual than realistic lately, but I want to shake them. I don’t know what drove me to read a few things out of my ordinary. Yesterday I thought about Dostoevsky all over again: Karamazov to me is the battleground for religion and materialism. It’s possible that I’m not doing so well with the schizophrenia. A lot of people exist in a half world between imagination and reality, not knowing their empirical science, hence the difference between fiction and fact. Today I just want to go out and direct my senses outward, appreciating the support of ordinary objects and natural things. In other words, be an anti poet for just a day. Ever since Christmas Eve my dreams have gone out of control. Part of me says why not let fantasy run amok, but I know it’s really not healthy to allow it to overgrow my logic… Yesterday I took a risk on the potato salad and it turned out great. The time before, the salad was inedible so I had to toss it out. Nobody will consider this of vast importance… 

Strong Wishes

Eight thirty.

Society has no right to be the judge of who or what we are as individuals. There’s so much poison in culture to try to control our words and deeds. Camus describes a firing squad with the gun muzzles just inches from the condemned. It’s a conspiracy… I wandered off to the store this morning in a blue mood, but I thought it would be nice to see Michelle. She has her hands full with her family at home. I just stand there and listen politely. Walking to and from the market can be a chore depending on how I feel, and today I feel unhappy for a lot of reasons. Maybe I made a wrong decision at some point a few years back; but even so, public opinion would still be the same. When I drank, I was tuned out of things like sociology. Now it’s like a sentence: I can’t change the world to suit myself, though I still hope to find happiness given these parameters. The first thing I need to do is boycott the church. Perhaps the bookstores and libraries will give me a clue, but I keep running into the same people in this city, like a kind of circular existence and no exit out of it. There must be something I can do to stop the carousel ride. I think I need a time machine, or to be beamed aboard a mothership to take me to another galaxy. 

Crux

Wee hours of Tuesday.

In my half sleep I was hearing a hymn from church whose words I can’t remember but I know the melody and the key is probably G minor. The music without the words is like a miscommunication between the hemispheres of my brain, or between consciousness and the unconscious. I lay in bed with this music, trying to confabulate the lyric and make sense of the dream. In a way, it’s like reading an old tale by Lovecraft: “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” and the endeavor to live in a dream and maintain some control over its events. It’s like consciousness within unconsciousness, and forcing sense out of the dreamworld. And it’s being a hero in a world to conquer, as in the series of books about Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I read all of them as a kid, but now I can’t access my memory of the stories very well, except sketchily. The type of hero here is different from the model of Jesus or the Buddha, or even of Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins. The Burroughs kind of hero gets his own heart’s desire, while the other ones say you should abnegate yourself and swear off your desires. Maybe somewhere in the dreamworld there can be reconciliation of these two opposites. If not, then I’ll have to choose one way and just go for it. But I think I’ve isolated the crux of schizophrenia: it’s the ego versus the other. 

What’s the Use?

Two forty.

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. 

Underdog’s Gamble

Noonish.

I’m having a rather rough day, though the rainfall is a kind of consolation, like sympathetic tears. Dunno; I’m just unhappy with my role as a person with this illness. The inside of my house is a dirty and cluttered wreck, and likewise is my mind sometimes. The two posts I published this morning I trashed; they were just inconsistent with my usual beliefs and attitudes. I guess I’m okay with the open door policy regarding church, the flexibility to come and go as needed. Today I feel like no kind of existential hero, but even the underdog will have his day. All I really want to do is empower people like me with mental illness by means of this blog, and to show you what we’re capable of in spite of a diagnostic label. And if you get some entertainment along the way, so much the better… Right now feels like sort of a trap, a lot of closed doors and windows, and every road leads me back to either church or the agency. The dice I was given are loaded and always land on snake eyes. If only I got just a fighting chance in the real world, the outcome would be fruitful. In the meantime there’s this blog to be my domain, a place for being simply myself. I will do what I can to get myself together in time for the New Year. 

Critique of Vraylar

Quarter of eleven at night.

It finally occurs to me that the Vraylar I take is very powerful and acts on me like a sedative, rendering me a lot less sensitive to some of the essential experiences of human life, such as spirituality, sexuality, and other things. Vraylar raises the threshold for the stuff that makes you feel alive in perhaps a primitive way, which I find to be regrettable to an extent. It was having a large Coca-Cola today that gave me this self awareness regarding the antipsychotic. Directly or indirectly the drug is costing me my membership in the church; but on the other hand it helps me avoid alcohol for the purpose of minimizing my delusions and hallucinations. It makes me wonder just what is the nature of schizophrenia: could it be just a matter of extreme sensitivity of the nervous system? In that case, maybe the psychosis is truer to reality than anyone had believed. Or perhaps the excitability of the nerves is like a tale by Edgar Allan Poe, an experience of darkness and terror and phantasmagoria not without its own peculiar kind of beauty… The best part about the Vraylar is how it saves me from alcohol abuse by abolishing psychosis; but the pitfall is mostly the way it deprives me of some of the quintessential feelings of human experience, the sheer primitive energy that makes us alive and gives us happiness as well as pain. It banishes the emotional roller coaster of life— which is why it is prescribed for bipolar disorder in addition to schizophrenia. In sum, it pushes down everything for better and for worse. 

Stigmata

Quarter of two in the morning.

Another night as black as coal. This simile recalls an old U2 song, “The Unforgettable Fire,” for me. The day I bought that record I took my SAT test in preparation for college, and I scored very low on both parts because I didn’t apply myself. If I felt that way, I suppose I shouldn’t have been in AP English that year. The truth is that I knew there was something wrong with me, though it defied definition for another seven years. Well, whatever. The important thing is the here and now and what you do with it.

When I left my psychiatrist’s services, I chose to be out of the closet with schizophrenia, to just take my chances, because deception felt wrong to me. I wasn’t even sure of what I was doing, but I wanted to be honest with people. Now, I don’t believe I sabotaged myself. Someone has to do something to change the stigma attached to the illness and it might as well be me.

Schizophrenic people are no more violent than any other population, according to a person I knew with a degree from Boston University. And Fuller Torrey writes that the majority of them are remarkably nonviolent. Speaking for myself, I have never been in a single fistfight. People with schizophrenia are usually more harmful to themselves than to others. The intelligence and temperament of people are separate issues from the disease of schizophrenia. It’s very unfortunate when the media spreads bad publicity of a schizophrenic person who committed a crime. A therapist told me that another 80 years would have to pass before the public would be accepting of the mentally ill. Until then I contribute what I can to that cause. 

Antipsychotic

Quarter after nine.

I’m being picked up for church in a half hour. Feeling skeptical about it, as I usually do. I guess I’m skeptical about a lot of things. This is normal for me.

Three o’clock.

And so I went to church like I was supposed to, but the medication desensitized me to everything spiritual and religious. This is what I told Pastor when we talked for a minute after service, and I know it’s the truth. We sang a dark sounding kyrie hymn but I didn’t feel particularly moved by the music. I can’t experience either the light or dark side of religious faith anymore due to the Vraylar. My mindset is wholly realistic today, with nothing at all fantastic or metaphysical going on. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t stop taking my medication just to have a religious life. Frankly I feel quite comfortable on Vraylar at this dose and I’d rather not change it. There’s nothing really wrong with the way I think or process information. If anything, maybe the church pastor and parish have a screw loose… The rain restarted at about two thirty this afternoon and will keep on until six o’clock. I feel just fine. I may have to resign from the church, depending on how it goes after today. I understand that resignation is something that can be done. Probably it’s for the best if I do so, but I’ll give it another try next weekend. 

“Josh Halliwick”

Quarter after ten at night.

I don’t know why I’ve been reading Mark Twain lately, except for how his message of freedom inspires me to inspire others. This afternoon I drank in thirty pages of Connecticut Yankee as if it were the first time for me. Then I consider my derailment at such a young age and wonder why this illness ever happens to people… I suddenly remembered a little book of another schizophrenic’s struggles, titled Josh Halliwick’s Madness, coauthored by the cousin of my friend who played guitar. This book was published seven years before I ever started my own blog. I can recommend it for its accurate descriptions of psychotic episodes and the ruin that they can make of a person’s life. Since I’m on a medication that works pretty well, I often forget what the “positive symptoms” of schizophrenia were really like. Only 11 years ago I still had crippling delusions of hell and the devil and could hardly play music with my friends. My mind on Vraylar is a far cry from when I was a drunken madman. I say this with compassion for myself and for everyone who has ever suffered from schizophrenia. Unfortunately, religious people don’t understand the difference between psychosis and faith, and Christianity is a big thing nowadays. The fact remains that schizophrenia is a disease, not a spiritual state or anything like that. The delusions are bizarre and absurd and mustn’t be taken for a revelation. It’s a very unlucky situation when people mistake lunacy for legitimate belief.