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.
Seven fifty five.
I read the daily email from the church pastor; evidently their little world hasn’t changed in my absence. I wonder if I can be called a “lapsed Lutheran,” or was I ever a Lutheran at all? I sort of dropped myself on their doorstep almost five years ago, desperate from my addiction to alcohol. Today, the idea of drinking doesn’t even sound good except when I feel like disappearing down a snake hole. And that still happens sometimes. Facing the world sober can be burdensome. I sympathize with people who need to escape from reality or enhance it to sweeten it up. I guess my weakness growing up was my broken brain. Fortunately for me there’s Vraylar for the delusions and hallucinations. By now I’ve given up the classic theories of what causes schizophrenia. It is not caused by repressed urges or by demonic possession; not even by suppressed anger at unfairness, or whatever else they can dream up for an explanation. Schizophrenia is just a biological disease passed down by genetics… It’s an overcast morning with a bit of wind. Moving about the house a while ago, I recalled the fresh autumn days before the pandemic, when I would go to church and everything was peachy. Now I ponder why most situations with people turn sour. Nothing is ever permanent, nor was meant to be.
Four thirty five in the morning.
It’s been raining fairly hard and constantly. The sound of it was comforting while I slept. I recall a dream I had when I was a sophomore in college. I hid by my bedroom window to avoid being seen by pteranodons in the sky, a paranoid dream. About ten years later I dreamed of men landing in my backyard in a helicopter to take me away with them. Somehow I think helicopters symbolize sex because they hover like an erection, as Freud would say. Dreams of floating or suspension in air usually mean that… The problem with gay sex is the clash with conventional morality as it is prescribed in the Bible. Internal conflict like this gives rise to neurosis and maybe even psychosis if my theory is right. I also think the homosexuality is innate, something I was born with. In schizophrenia, there’s a split between feeling and reason. But what if instinct and the intellect could be joined in harmony rather than opposing each other? Perhaps it would heal the illness. In this case, I could quit taking the medication and maybe live longer… Freud wrote that homosexuality is no degradation, no vice, and can’t be called an illness. And of course, Freddie Mercury said, “I’ve done my sentence but committed no crime.”
Quarter of eight.
The weather is cloudy yet again this morning. Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday, so I’ll have to give her a call soon. She’ll be 74 years old. I really don’t want to drink again, so whatever comes, I’ll stick it out however ugly it proves to be. I believe that psychosis is what happens when elements of the personality are in conflict with each other. Beyond that, my knowledge is rather sketchy. My personal experience will have to guide me from here on out. There are no traditional psychoanalysts near me in Oregon. Only Jungian therapists, and they are mostly ignorant. What I’m looking for is a permanent cure for schizophrenia. Also for alcoholism. I think I’m on the right track. Maybe I can go online to the forum and discuss it with somebody else who has recovered completely. I remember one person who actually did that with the help of a therapist.
Quarter of nine. I don’t really know what’s driving my thoughts since my last talk with my sister. But I think I need to talk to her some more. Maybe something will be jostled loose and I’ll be free.
I’m no longer doubtful. I was thinking back on being in ninth grade, all of the little clues to my identity. It’s almost as if willed by a god or something. All of the pieces fit now, except I still have to confront my sister. Maybe not on her birthday.
I feel a little sad so far this morning, I’m not sure why. I was lightheaded walking to the store a bit ago in the rain, maybe worried about having Gloria over. Also, my dog is getting older and shows less vitality as time goes by. We only age towards the future and not the past. And yet some things can rejuvenate and restore us. I thought of the poetry of Wallace Stevens yesterday; I like his “Study of Two Pears” very much. His concept of nature is totally different from that of someone like Shakespeare three centuries before him. For Stevens, religion is just another man made thing while reality is very broad and round rather than flat. And for Shakespeare, the Word of God was logically prior to the natural world…
Gloria will be here at nine o’clock. Soon I have to put the dog in the room down the hallway. I’m feeling under the weather but I hope to pull through.
Noon hour. The best part of Gloria’s visit was our trip to Bi Mart and St Vinnie’s on Division Avenue. Especially I thought it was great to see Sherri, Kirsten, and Ann at the first place. Sherri was laid off when the pharmacy closed in November, but obviously got rehired on the floor as a cashier… Gloria said she would like my help with her computer when we can set it up at my house, so of course I’ll do what I’m able to do. I let her borrow a book and gave her two movies on dvd; also some old blue jeans for making patchwork quilts. The book was Josh Halliwick’s Madness, a self published account of a person’s battle with schizophrenia. Gloria said she’d love to read it because she really liked A Beautiful Mind, the mostly true story of John Nash, winner of a Nobel Prize for his economic theory and a person living with schizophrenia… As sometimes happens in March, it just hailed this afternoon. And now I owe Aesop his crunch bar snack for being good while we were working today.
Well tomorrow’s the big day. I was just playing my bass. The song I wound up with was “Yours Is No Disgrace,” an oldie by Yes from their third album. Now I’d like to listen to that one again soon… I thought last night that I’ve been under a great deal of pressure and stress since this year began. I agreed to do a lot of things that I probably should have refused to do, so it wouldn’t turn into a runaway train. From the start with Misty I got talked into stuff I didn’t really want to be involved in. For some reason I couldn’t say no to her. I spent the last weekend feeling pretty miserable, remembering the way I drank 18 packs in 2017. That was the year I finally quit drinking. I’m not sure what triggered these memories, unless it was just being stressed out.
You know, with the schizophrenia and everything, sometimes my life just seems hopeless and not worthwhile.
I think I’ll go take a nap right now and write more to you a bit later.
I’m quite certain that I feel so lousy due to having been manipulated and forced into this situation. Maybe I shouldn’t blame myself but rather Laurel Hill and all these government organizations that steamroll right over your human rights, shoving their version of what’s appropriate down your throat. And of course I feel mad and resentful about all that. So maybe the thoughts I had about drinking 18 packs were a desperate attempt to rebel and feel free. The same is true for reading Native Son. Underneath it all, I have very strong libertarian feelings traceable to my teens and twenties.
Perhaps I’m just a divided person? There’s the Robert before schizophrenia and after schizophrenia, but I want to believe in the continuity of my identity throughout my life.
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.
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…
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.
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.