Taste of a Grapefruit, Rays of the Sun

So, I am off my psych meds for over a month now. And, I am beginning to remember that there are thinks I am allowed to do that have been off limits for years.

Slowly, the memory of these freedoms returns.

It is easy, when your life is already truncated by your condition to accept the limitations that are added with each new prescription. It is weirdly easy to forget to reclaim those rights when the prescription is discontinued or replaced. Or, at least, it has been so for me.

Over the years, there have been so many pills. And each one arrives from the pharmacy in a bottle adorned with festive stickers. The cheery stickers threaten fire and brimstone upon one’s hapless head for ignoring their dire warnings. Avoid sunlight. Don’t frikkin drive. Don’t be violent. Don’t get pregnant. Don’t eat grapefruit. Don’t have a cocktail. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.  The pill bottles also arrive accompanied by a 3 or 4 page missive from the friendly pharmacist .(who, in reality, is often fairly unfriendly if you get tons of anti-psychotic and anti-schizophrenics filled there. The exception is Josh from CVS Monroeville, PA. The only pharmacist who has consistently treated me like a human being instead of like a rabid dog) The missives are printed in about 8 point arial font, front and back.

These missives should be titled “Don’t sue us-the doctor made us do this.”

For about the past ten years, I have read these completely. They are ransom notes for my soul. I didn’t used to read them. Then I managed a disastrous drug interaction that damn near killed me. No one ever believed it was not my seventh suicide attempt.  (With 6 prior major attempts, I can’t blame them really, but it truly was an accident that time)

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So, I began to live small. Avoided glasses of wine, sunlight, grapefruit, steroids, driving for weeks after starting a new medication, the list was endless…and it was only last week that I realized that none of those restrictions applied. Not now. Maybe never again.

Buying the grapefruit was more difficult than you might think. I felt like I was sneaking, buying illicit drugs, hiring a prostitute. I half expected to hear a voice shout, “Step away from the grapefruit!”

Of course, that didn’t happen. But I did feel the need to eat that grapefruit in secret. But it was delicious. To me. I understand that many people don’t care for grapefruit. Me, I love them. I prefer the white ones to the red or pink ones, but I love them all.

So that grapefruit was my first foray into a world that was not foreshortened by the rules of the medication. In short order, I also spent almost five minutes sitting in direct sunlight (I’m one of those soulless gingers-that was a long time in the sun for me) and then I borrowed my sweetie’s truck, and drove over to see my eldest daughter.

grapefruit

None of these acts was huge, or even uncommon for the average person. But for me, they were huge. I think they will continue to be huge, and there will be more of them as I slowly grasp that the medication is no longer the law of my landscape.

And there is some progress.

I leave my room almost every day now. I get dressed almost every day now. I am beginning to get the house clean.  I am beginning to be somewhat alive.

And I am managing my expectations. I know that the medications are not completely absent yet. There will be days where my balance is so shot to Hell that I don’t dare get up for fear of my own safety. (But I am beginning to factor my own safety and well-being into the equation) I know there will be days when my brain feels full of snakes. And the itching. Yesterday started the itching.

But even with the itching and the brain full of snakes, I feel like the sun is shining on me more often than not.

 

I Feel Looked At.

I feel looked at and harshly judged every single day. It is part of the disease. It is every bit as egotistical as it sounds, too. But, we will talk about that another time.

Today, I feel quite specifically looked at. Looked at by others based on what I might say or do based on a single topic I didn’t even choose. Perhaps I’m delusional, it happens. However, it is tough to argue when my email and facebook have multiple people sharing the same type of articles.

http://www.psychintegrity.org/isepp_statement_on_the_connection_between_psychotropic_drugs_and_mass_murder.php

http://libertycrier.com/nearly-every-mass-shooting-last-20-years-shares-one-thing-common-weapons/#vgDbw8sqgSe2yb6C.01

and more others like it.

And folks are getting the idea that I’m trying very hard to divorce psych meds, and that it might be an acrimonious break-up. It is pretty ugly here at the epicenter. Like all break-ups there is a lot of anger, a lot of regret, a strong sense of betrayal. But, all of that is balanced by a deep social conditioning to not air dirty laundry in public.

It does seem that people are beginning to question whether these medications are as benign as Western Medicine has led us to believe.  On some level, I think we have always had an awareness that these drugs have a very dark side. They all have that black box warning about the tendency of  increased risk of violence and suicide. And personally, all of my most nearly successful suicide attempts have been in the month following a change of medication.

But on the other hand, you don’t get a prescription for these medications for being perfectly balanced and mentally healthy.  Mental illness also has a very dark side.

Somewhere between the darkness of the medications and the darkness of the illness itself, is an individual trying desperately to balance between their identity as a person and a patient.

Schizophrenic_Arms - Copy

The cost of this balancing act is unimaginable. But it is also inconsequential, if compared to going off and shooting a bunch of people. So, let me be completely clear.  I have no compassion for the murderers. In fact, I might have less compassion. Elliot Rodger has just personally complicated my life, and he is only the most recent complication. For schizophrenics in particular, every time one of these mass murders occurs, even if the perpetrator has a completely different diagnosis, we are subjected to increased scrutiny. Very real issues in my life are swept under the rug as an ‘informed and ethical therapist’ tries in a ham-fisted way to determine if I am suddenly more dangerous to society than previously suspected.

But the core question is whether these medications are somewhat to blame for these mass shootings.

Answering that question is complicated. We begin with a troubled individual, we feed them into a mental health ‘system’ that is fundamentally broken, we add a difficult social stigma, and mix generously with consciousness altering substances, and then we scratch our heads when something goes horribly wrong.

We would, as a society, view these murders differently if the perpetrator had taken LSD. Somehow, that type of consciousness altering substance is easy for us to blame culturally. But I have a lengthy list of psych meds I have been given over the years that are now equally as illegal as LSD.  That leads me to some questions, but, again, I’ll try to keep my focus here.

This is what I DO know. If I am on my prescribed medications, I really am much less sensitive to others. I will flat-out say some hurtful shit. And I am aware that it is hurtful, the fact that my words are really going to hurt someone, their feelings about my words just don’t matter as much when I am medicated. I also know I am less inhibited in my actions when I am medicated.  Things I could never do in my non-medicated state become fairly commonplace if I am medicated.

About this time last year, I completely bailed on a major project without a word to anyone. Destroyed a good friendship, turned my back on over 6 months of hard work, and ignored one of the most important things in my life.  I know now, and I knew then that there was no road back from the choices I was making. Instead of making the slightest effort to do anything, I took another Clozaril or two, and, literally, pulled the covers over my head. Unmedicated, a year later, not a day goes by that I don’t wish for a do over on that. But, unmedicated, I also clearly understand that real life has no do overs.

The Clozaril I was taking in large doses last year does not exonerate me from my hurtful and irresponsible actions. It is a true Hell Pill, but it does not offer me an excuse for my actions. I might be mentally ill, in fact, I might be batshit crazy, but I still am aware of the difference between right and wrong. And I knowingly did wrong. The pills made it easy to choose to do wrong, but the pills did not do the wrong. That was all me. Clear enough?

Living & Learning

Well, I just spent a couple hours crafting a nice post. In two seconds I found a button here that made it disappear forever. The once and future Luddite rides again.

But it is probably for the best. The post I wrote was not talking about the thing that needs talked about, I suppose. But I have found every possible way to avoid dissecting my own heart. I guess it is time to pick up a scalpel and get to work.

echoes_of_schizophrenia_by_xhimsoulsx-d4h6c0f1

 

From NBC News: “It’s obviously the work of a madman,” Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference early Saturday. “There’s going to be a lot more information that will come out that will give a clearer picture of just how disturbed this individual was.”

A young man,  Elliot Rodger, 22 shot multiple people. But before he did, he made a video and posted it on Youtube. It has been cross-posted everywhere, even though Youtube pulled it quickly. It would seem gratuitous to post it here. I don’t know Elliot Rodger, his family, or his victims personally. But they are all in my prayers.

On the other hand I would like to give Elliot Rodger a vicious pinch. Because I can guess what is coming.  His actions and his video do not paint a picture of mental stability. I’m not a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, not even on TV, however, I do know crazy when I see it. (Like in the mirror every morning) Soon experts will begin issuing analysis and statements about this young man’s psychological state. He might end up having a different disorder, However, I’ll hazard the guess that schizophrenia will get thrown out there.

I feel saddened, sickened, shocked, and shamed. And if they stick the schizophrenia diagnosis on him, I will feel worse. When things like this occur, and you suddenly find you share a diagnosis with the perpetrator, there is that shock of recognition. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. It drives home very keenly the fear, and the dark lurking horrors of this disease. This disease kills. It commits acts of torture, torment and barbarity. And I have this disease.

I do know that schizophrenia has a wide range of symptoms, and that they vary as wildly as do schizophrenics themselves. The internet says so, and so it must be true. On long dark nights of the soul, I will try to comfort myself with this fact. Historically, it won’t bring me any comfort. Instead, I will sit in my darkened room and run my hands obsessively over my face, trying to see if it feels like the face of a killer. I will minutely analyze my every act and compare it with an impossible standard of sanity, and fail. And the fear will come and lick at my toes, gently at first, but the tide will come in, and I will drown in the terror of my own potential. You look at it, and find the behavior to be insane. Well, bingo!

Is my endless fear, shame and guilt going to change anything for the victims of this recent tragedy? No. I know it won’t. Is it somehow going to prevent me from committing a similar act? I probably would not commit an act like this, at least, I pray that I never would. But I do think that owning the possibility, the grim awful worst case scenario face of naked unabated schizophrenia, and trying to confront it helps me maintain a kind of clarity.

Do the prayers of a schizophrenic woman unknown to any victim or their grieving families have any possibility of lifting their wounded hearts, their battered souls? If I did not believe that, I would not be praying them.

LITANY OF THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED

Lord, have mercy on us,
Christ, have mercy on us. 

Lord, have mercy on us.  Christ hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us. 

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on the souls of the faithful departed. 

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on the souls of the faithful departed. 

God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on the souls of the faithful departed. 

Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on the souls of the faithful departed. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

St. Michael,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye angels and archangels,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye orders of blessed spirits,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

St. Joseph,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy patriarchs and prophets,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy apostles and evangelists,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy martyrs,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy bishops and confessors,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy doctors,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy priests and Levites,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy monks and hermits,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye holy virgins and widows,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

All ye saints of God,
pray for the souls of the faithful departed. 

Be merciful, 
Spare them, O Lord 

Be merciful, 
Graciously hear us, O Lord. 

From all evil,
O Lord, deliver them. 

From the rigor of Thy justice,
O Lord, deliver them. 

From the power of the devil,
O Lord, deliver them. 

From long-enduring sorrow,
O Lord, deliver them. 

From cruel flames, 
O Lord, deliver them. 

From horrible darkness,
O Lord, deliver them. 

From dreadful weeping and wailing,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy holy nativity,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy most sweet name,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy most profound humiliations,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy infinite love,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy bloody sweat,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy scourging,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy crowning with thorns,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy carrying of the cross,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy most cruel death,
O Lord, deliver them. 

Through Thy five most holy wounds,
O Lord, deliver them. 

In the day of judgment, 
We sinners, beseech Thee, hear us. 

Thou Who forgavest Magdalen,
and didst grant the prayer of the thief, 
we beseech Thee, hear us. 

That Thou wouldst be pleased to deliver 
the souls of our parents, relations, 
friends, and benefactors, 
from the pains of hell, 
we beseech Thee, hear us. 

That Thou wouldst be pleased to have mercy 
on those of whom no special remembrance 
is made on earth, 
we beseech Thee, hear us. 

That Thou wouldst be pleased to grant them all 
the pardon and remission of their sins, 
we beseech Thee, hear us. 

That Thou wouldst be pleased to receive them 
into the company of the blessed, 
we beseech Thee, hear us. 

King of awful majesty, 
we beseech Thee, hear us. 

Son of God, we beseech Thee, 
hear us. 

Lamb of God, 
who takest away the sins of the world, 
grant unto them eternal rest. 

Lamb of God, 
who takest away the sins of the world,  
grant unto them eternal rest. 

Lamb of God, 
who takest away the sins of the world,  
grant unto them rest everlasting. 

Christ, hear us. 
Christ, graciously hear us. 

Lord, have mercy, 
Christ, have mercy. 

Lord, have mercy, 
From the gate of hell, 
deliver their souls, O Lord. 

O Lord, hear my prayer. 
And let my cry come unto Thee.

LET US PRAY:

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, 
grant unto the souls of Thy servants departed 
the remission of all their sins; 
that, by pious supplications, 
they may obtain the pardon 
which they have always desired.  
Grant this, O God, 
Who livest and reignest for ever and ever,

Amen. 

O eternal God, Who, 
besides the general precept of charity, 
hast commanded a particular respect for parents, 
kindred, and benefactors; 
grant, we beseech Thee, that, 
as they were the instruments 
by which Thy providence bestowed on us our birth, 
education and innumerable other blessings, 
so our prayers may be the means to obtain for them 
a speedy release from their excessive sufferings, 
and admittance to Thine infinite joys.  
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. 

Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
And let the perpetual light shine upon them. 

May they rest in peace.

Amen. 

 

MOJUBA
Omi tuto , ana tuto, ache tuto, tuto ile, tuto alaye, aricu babawa
Mojuba Olofi , Olorun , mojuba Olodumare ,
Mojuba Olojoni Oni Odunmocuedun, Olorun ,
Alaye , Olorun Elemi Olodumare Oba Aterere Kaje , Olodumare ibae baye tonu ,
Mojuba atijo ojo ,mojuba atiwo Orun , mojuba Ayaiodun Oni Odun , Odun Ola ,
Mojuba Orun mojuba Oshukua , Mojuba ile ogede afoko jeri. 
Iba a semojuba gbogbo wan olodo ara Orun : oluwos , iyalochas , babaloshas ,
omo kolabas egun inbelese Olodumare
Mojuba gbogbowan olodo ara Orun : oluwos , iyalochas , babalochas , omo kolaba egun
lagba lagba inbelese , timbelese olodumare .
Ibae bayen tonu gbogbo egun ara Orun ori emi nani Obatala
Egungun egun iku ranran fe awo ku opipi o da so bofun le wo.
Egun iku bata bango egun de bi aba fatori na le egun a sede ashe.
Ibae bayen tonu gbogbo egun ara Orun ori baba iya tobi mi padrino.
Ibae bayen tonu gbogbo egun araOrun ori yubonna mi iyubona.
Ibae bayen tonu gbogbo egun ara orun ori igboro kale ile.
Ibae bayen tonu gbogbo egun , gbogbowan olodo ,
lagba , lagba otoku ara Orun timbelaye ,
InbeleseOlorun olodumare.
K’tInbelese Oludumare.

The Implied Lie

So the great lie.

No one ever told me the lie. Let me make that abundantly clear. But you don’t just randomly begin a thirty year long pill habit. Not the kind of pills I’ve been taking, anyway.

I remember the doctor sitting across the big wide desk, writing on his prescription pad. I remember him explaining that I would need to take these pills for the rest of my life. He then began to explain side effects. And trust me, when you swallow these pills, side effects become a huge part of your life. But he went through his whole spiel. Then he asked me if I had any questions. I had a few questions about the side effects-who wouldn’t?

But I didn’t think to question his assessment that I needed to take the pills forever.

I didn’t ask if the pills would make me better.

But, I was only 17. The idea of asking a doctor a question that did not automatically validate his authority had not occurred to me.

So, I swallowed the pills, and I believed the lie I was never told. I believed that the pills would make me better. I believed that when the pills were not making me better in any way that they were hard at work preventing me from getting much. worse.

File V1

So I took my pills every day. Sometimes several times a day. Always several pills. And I had no idea that those early days were as good as it would ever get. Because, I was 17, it was still several years before anyone knew the word Prozac. So, by my current standards, the pills were cheap then.

Of course, Prozac changed all that. I was about 22 when it came out. It was green, and it was expensive. And it had sisters, brothers, and cousins. A rainbow of diversity as far as colors shapes and sizes. The great commonality of all of these pills were that they were expensive.

So, like any addict, I began the financial scramble to support my habit. It was never easy. Batshit crazy people are not very good at getting cushy jobs, or any jobs, or keeping those jobs if they get one. And, historically, employers are not supportive if you call in because “…this is just not a good day for me to get out of the hamper…*”

*actual quote

The only thing that crazy people are worse at than jobs is filling out forms to get some kind of support. Or even being brave enough to ask about such forms.

I will conservatively guess that my gross expenditures on psych meds all these years would have supported a pretty impressive cocaine habit. Or world travel, maybe even yacht racing…who knows? I don’t. I was buying into that lie with every dollar I could.

But, honestly there was no actual effect on the voices, the disorganization of thought and process. No effect.  The pills did not enable me to leave a place if I was having fear, did not grant me any sense of control.  They created the side effects that became the droning constant of my life, but that is all.

It is only in the past 6 months, battling with the eternal struggle of buying food vs. buying meds that I began to examine my complicity in never questioning the tyranny over my life that I had granted to these pills.

I began to search the internet for any cures of schizophrenia. The only ones listed were from very traditional shamanic cultures, and those are pretty rare. Usually those cultures just turn their schizophrenics into shamans and let them be.

And that was closer to my life as a priestess, as a healer than anything that the pills had ever offered.

I finally saw the lie that was never uttered. Patiently standing there, the invisible elephant in my parlor.

I continue to assure everyone that I am aware that discontinuing all of my psych meds is not a great choice. But every time I say it, it sounds more like good old bovine scatology.

 

 

3 Weeks, No Meds: checking in

Wow. Three weeks with no psych meds.

 

Three weeks of applied dysfunction in inaction. I’m not going to complain, though. While diligently taking all of my meds, I have been just as dysfunctional for the past 14 months. No forward progress, but no backward progress either. Stagnation is always highly attractive, I guess; or, at least I think so. I think that there is an aspect of stagnation in making beer, but I only think that. I don’t know a damn thing about making beer.

 

Physically, I am still crazy dizzy, and somewhat disoriented. A bit clumsier than normal, which is kind of sad because I’m fairly clumsy. I have not got anything to suggest that this is any worse than going off Effexor XR has been in the past. Mouth is dry (HAH! There’s a big surprise) I’m still twitchy and full of tics, and still chewing my tongue a lot. I am hoping that the twitches and tics will subside, but they are a known risk for several of the meds I have been on. Sometimes they go away in time, but sometimes they are quite permanent.

 

So, no physical surprises to report.

 

Not much mentally or emotionally either. In fact so far, the process is pretty boring. Largely, this is a pointless post. But I did promise some friends that I would keep them updated on the process. The process is boring. I am beginning to suspect that I have not actually entered the process yet. I think I have taken all of these pills so long that it is still going to be a bit of a wait before anything really changes. I still really do fear what those changes are going to be like. However, it is a really abstract fear-similar to being fearful of being bitten by a moray eel, which is fairly unlikely since I live in Pittsburgh and don’t go outside. Pretty sure that the bite of the moray would be the pits, but it is pretty irrelevant currently. (however, if I now have nightmares about being bitten by a moray, I’ll have no one but myself to blame)

Stigmata Moron

 

In a way, I feel a little bit let down that nothing has happened. For years, doctors have stressed how bad going off your medication can be. How sick you got, prone to violence, suicide, self-mutilation, how quitting these medications can lead to brain damage. The list of what would happen seemed endless. And I’ve certainly changed meds before and gotten the Hell transitions from it.  I was mentally ready to fight. The reality is feeling like you got worked up to enter a UFC fight, stepped into the ring and discovered that your opponent was a spoonful of runny instant mashed potatoes. Well, huh.

 

I assume that I won’t walk out of this without a struggle. And it is pretty certain that there are going to be some tough days, I won’t claim to be prepared, either. How the Hell do you prepare for something  utterly unknown or unpredictable?

 

So it goes on. Sitting still in my dark room. Just living the dream. Or it would be living the dream-if I was a portobello.

Welcome to the Mad House…

No, really.

From the street it looks sane enough, I suppose, an ordinary-looking house in this part of the world. Perhaps it is a bit shabby, but it fits the neighborhood.

And it is mine house. Not mine and the bank, just mine. Owning this house is supposed to make me feel proud, accomplished, and secure. And absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

The man and I have been renters forever. We are used to the joys of a maintenance man. But, if you own a house, you don’t have the joys of the maintenance man. And this house sucks. Worse than sucks. It is old. It has what is marketed as character. (That is Real Estate Agent speak for ‘a bunch of shit doesn’t work and we will charge extra for it’)

Living in the Mad House is not particularly good for my mental instability. Some of what is wrong with the Mad House is downright terrifying.

We purchased the Mad House from a couple who lived in it for over 30 years. Their name was Wonders. I shit you not. Mr. & Mrs. Wonders. We did not know when we bought the house that he was a HAM radio enthusiast and amateur “inventor” and she was really a crazy cat lady. Those revelations unfolded over time.

Even crazy people know not to buy a cat lady’s house, but if you are not clear why, here are some of Mrs. Wonders’ contributions to my rapidly dwindling sanity:

*Cat urine soaked rags packed around pipes.

*People randomly showing up trying to foist off very sick and dying cats.

*A lot of damaged woodwork.

*A large collection of ugly and terrifying lawn tchotchkes. (Some are still regulars in my nightmares…too many staring googly eyes)

What you may not know is what you get if you buy a house from a HAM radio enthusiast/amateur inventor (and I use the term inventor very liberally-I actually mean hazard in shoes) Here are some of Mr. Wonders’ contributions to my downward spiral:

*An “invention” to prevent snow and ice from forming on the roof. This is festoons of wires all over the roof attached to timed switches. The gay festoons of wire heat up and melt the precipitation. Even I am not crazy enough to have evereverever turned this thing on. But even turned off, I fear it plans to burn down the Mad House.

*A staggering collection of wires on the outside of the house. (Neighbors report he had many antennas)

*An amazing collection of “home improvements” all made of ugly paneling and really huge drywall screws.

A large part of my flavor of schizophrenia is being scared to the point of immobility by completely ordinary things. The challenge here is that I am scared to the point of immobility by these fairly extraordinary things as well.

Then the Mad House has added some new things to terrify me into further immobility.

Such as:

*The kitchen floor is caving in. Actually collapsing. With large holes in it, and places where it is unsafe to stand.

*The shitswamp. Ah, let me tell you about the shitswamp. It used to be a basement. But it is now a Lovecraftian landscape, and aromascape. And there is no escape. Apparently, two marvelous things have taken place to grant us the privilege of tending this amazing ecosystem. First off, the main sewer pipe under the house has apparently caved in for the most part. And then, the previous owner, the genius “inventor” capped off the pipe the sewer needs to breathe. The plumber cheerfully told me that it would cost 7500. to fix this. Not bloody likely. I mean, if we had that kind of money, it would promptly go to the plumber. We don’t.

*The furnace. It is haunted. Or lazy. It only works when it feels like it. Which is not when it is cold. If it is cold, someone needs to venture into the aforementioned basement and flip the circuit breaker until the furnace decides to work. Or not. The furnace feels personal to me. It really works just fine when it is chilly, or cool, or even cold. But when it gets really cold, forget about it. The furnace is sentient. It is also a jaggoff.

devil furnace

 

So. Take a crazy person, and make this fun house their abode. See what happens. (They won’t get better!)

My partner is fairly unflappable. And he loves this house truly madly deeply. And, when we bought it, I loved it, too. I don’t love it so much now. Maybe I could love it if I wasn’t scared of all the ways I think it is trying to hurt me. Maybe I could love it if I was not terrified that the damned basement was going to get the house condemned as a health hazard.

But, as it stands, I do not love it. I fear it. And hiding from the house you live in is a tricky matter. But, for over a year, I have been basically hiding from my house. As coping strategies go, this is a lousy coping strategy, but it is what I have.

Many many days, I sort of envy the homeless.

 

Time Out.

There are actually things in the big world that annoy crazy people.

Tomorrow is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. And, as always, holidays like this annoy me. These holidays should be obsolete. There is no reason for us to need a holiday to remind humans all over the world to quit hating other human beings. There is no reason to need these holidays.

But, reason aside, we need them. Shame on us, and all the Gods help us, we need these holidays.

How frikkin difficult is it to not hate another person because they choose to love, or Hell, simply to be?

It takes time, effort and energy to hate, to harm, to oppress. How much time for good works, good deeds would this weary old world have if we just stopped squandering all of our time in hatred and oppression?  Sad to say, but we would have a lot more time to do good things, if only we would stop doing evil things.

I’ve been crazy for so Goddam long that I’ve been on locked psych wards with people whose only mental illness was being gay, or trans. And putting them there was a hate crime.

Dear world, stop being cruel. Stop for just this one single minute, and see how easy it is to breathe, to be, to just calmly exist without trying to prevent anyone else from breathing, from being, from existing.

A long time ago, there was the “Gay Rights” movement. And, to me, that now sounds dated, funny and quaint. I don’t say it sounds funny to detract from any person who ever stood up as a member of that long-ago “Gay Rights” movement…but to point out how lonely Gay Rights sounds without rights for Lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered persons, or other queer persons represented. Because, over the years, that umbrella of Gay Rights has grown to include a lot of other folks who were treated horribly simply because they loved someone, or simply because they chose to live authentically as who they are.

GLBTQ persons around the world are not asking for anything particularly special, or even difficult. For the majority of humans, they are not asking that you do anything. At most, they are asking that you stop doing a few things. Like stop throwing rocks and insults at them. You know damn well your momma taught you not to throw rocks or mean words, entire world. So just stop already.

These people are asking of you nothing more, entire world, than to be treated like people, like human beings. Is that so much to ask really? Apparently, it is, because a lot of you still treat them wretchedly.

If it was in my power, I’d send everyone to their room for a time-out; to think about how you acted, and to think about how you would do better.

But, sending the entire world to its room far exceeds the scope of my practice.

So, entire world, instead, I’ll point out a quirky, difficult, inconvenient truth. These people who you feel weirdly entitled to deprive of their most basic rights? Yeah, them. They started out as the Gay Rights movement.

Call that oppressed, hated group G.

Soon they added the letter L, for the lesbians. So, hated oppressed group GL.

Then the bi-sexuals…GLB. And they rested briefly, but soon added T for trans-genders. GLBT.

In many places the letter Q has been added for ‘Queer’ to kinda make room for everyone who didn’t fit in one of the convenient pigeonholes above. GLBTQ. We now have accounted for 5 out of the 26 letters of our alphabet. It didn’t take centuries, or even decades to go from one letter to 5. At this rate, honestly, how long will it take before a letter is added to this group that includes your precious human-rights-denying-holier-than-thou-up-on-your-high-horse self?

Personally, I’m no math whiz, but anyway I consider this question, the answer comes back as ‘not very long.’

So, why not consider not oppressing these people. Or if you must oppress them (and I don’t think you must!) then oppress them for something more relevant than who they choose to love, more significant than how they choose to live closer to how they know they were created?

Because, you know, and I know, that there really is no phobia in homophobia, or in transphobia. It never was, and is not about phobia, or fear. It is about hate and repression. It is about getting your mean bone out and exercising it over someone for no good reason.

As long as we need a day to Internationally be Against Homophobia and Transphobia, then I’ll support us having tomorrow on the calendar. But if I wake up tomorrow, and this day is no longer necessary, I think I’ll have a parade.

On Fire

Firehand

So.

Schizophrenia. What does it even mean? First of all, let me be completely clear. I’m not a therapist, not a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, Hell, I’m probably not even an innocent bystander. So, I’m going to talk about “my” schizophrenia, not the illness, or group of illnesses we label as schizophrenia. Just what the Hell my problem is, or isn’t. The thing that everyone ‘knows’ is the problem. Everyone but me these days; I’m no longer entirely convinced that it is a problem.

I hear voices. Voices that other people can not hear. I’ve heard them as long as I can remember. In my sleep, when I’m awake. I always hear them. And there are quite a few. I’d guess there are about 12 actual voices most days. There are also a collection of noises, but we can talk about noises some other time. Right now, we can look at the voices that speak English. And how admitting to a doctor once that I heard them earned me my first (sadly, not my last) visit to the booby hatch.

Maybe things have changed a bit since I last risked going near anyone with the keys to the madhouse, but my last experience was that no matter how calmly, or rationally I explained that I heard voices, I was swiftly locked up. I was considered a danger to “myself, others, and society”. Wow. I’m powerful. If just sitting there doing absolutely nothing makes me a danger to society, imagine how dangerous I would be if I took a walk, or used the phone. But incarceration for mental illness is not like going to jail. You don’t get an attorney. You don’t get a phone call. You don’t have any Miranda Rights.

The question, for me, boils down to ‘Am I dangerous?’ It would be super cool in a James Bond way if I was, but unless you are phobic about being bored to death, I’m not much of a threat. At my lowest points, I have certainly been a danger to myself, but that’s about it.

There is one voice in particular that causes me to get locked up. It is a male voice, but not a terribly deep voice. And it has been with me a long long time. It just calmly tells me over and over to burn. down. my. house. The fact that I have never burned my house down, or ever even tried to burn my house down does not earn me any brownie points. Once I figured out that even discussing the burn the house down voice with doctors just got me locked away, I quit discussing it with them. Oh, and I explored every suggestion the doctors had about ‘curing’ the voice before I quit talking to them.

If you are ever starved for attention or excitement in your life, just tell a doctor that you hear voices. You’ll get a lifetime’s worth of excitement and attention in less than 10 minutes. Be warned though-I doubt you’ll like it.

Does that mean you should worry about me visiting your house? I highly doubt it. And for your added safety and convenience, if I feel at all shaky or weird, I don’t leave my house at all.

Being responsible about living with a disembodied pyromaniacal voice does not prevent you from being involuntarily committed. And it doesn’t net you those (to me) mythical 48- to 72- hour ‘observation commitments, either. My shortest commitment was 68 days, my longest was a bit over 11 months. Being in the hospital did not help the voices in the slightest. The only things I learned from my hospitalizations were how to color for hours in the name of therapy, and to lie like a two-dollar toupee about hearing voices. And, of course, I learned to mind my P’s and Q’s around doctors, social workers, and cops.

Along with the “burn the house down” voice there are others. One reads a seemingly endless grocery list. Both of my parents’ voices are there constantly reciting an endless litany of everything my parents ever said was wrong with me. One endlessly repeats “I will not chew gum in class” (To me it is the weirdest one-I’ve never chewed gum in any serious way…a few minutes when a plane takes off, rarely to get a horrible taste out of my mouth…but, even in school, I never really chewed gum) There are others that come and go. I have been treated to months of the Nasdaq and Nynex, I got about 10 months of Latin declensions, and a super annoying voice that recites the structures of the ear.

The voices are tedious. No doubt. And sometimes they are so loud that I can’t hear an actual person sitting next to me. I get headaches from them. I wish they would shut up. The desire to escape them has been behind several of my most successful suicide attempts. But mostly, they are irritating and sad.

But…do they really make me a danger to others? or to society, whatever that means? I don’t really think so. If I thought I was inherently dangerous, I would have remained in my medicated hyper-sedated state.

I’m getting wicked close to fifty years old. All I really want is to see for myself if the sun can shine on me in a way that I can understand it. All my life I’ve been in the shadows, and I just want to stand in the light. And, I solemnly swear that I’m not gonna burn down anybody’s house.

 

Poor decisions make the best stories

It is a brutal truth.

And I am the queen of poor decisions.  That has never actually been the goal, it just works out like that.

Who knows, really. This may be the grand daddy of all of my poor decisions. It certainly has all of the elements of stupid present and accounted for. Like every patient on psychiatric medication, I know that you are never ever supposed to stop taking your medication.

So, I stopped taking it all. I’m smart enough to taper it off by gradually decreasing the dosages. It took over a month. And, yes, I still feel pretty weird. My routine of swallowing my pills before sleeping is now all unhinged. I have NO idea how to go to sleep without that little ritual of swallowing pills. For over thirty years, I have swallowed pills, then gone to sleep.

Now, I just turn out the light and put my head down. And I lay there. Sleep is like a cheating husband. I know sleep is stretched out snoring away in some broad’s bed. But not this broad’s bed. It would be simple enough to get a sleeping pill. This is America, after all. Everyone I know has a prescription for sleeping pills. I could have a prescription for sleeping pills. But there are a few issues. First of all, I think pills and I need to see other people. And at the root, that is the only issue that matters.

I want to see if I can live without pills.

I need to know if schizophrenia is really the pathology I’ve been told it is. Or if I can live with it in a relatively normal way.

It is a generally accepted fact that there is no good way to live with untreated schizophrenia. I get that. And I am in no way trying to encourage anyone else to try this stunt. All of the evidence suggests that this is a terrible plan.

But, for me, viewing my schizophrenia as a pathology has not moved me closer to balance, health, or wellness. This model of being at war with the schizophrenia has done nothing but engendered a thirty year long civil war inside my head.

I have spent almost the entirety of the past 15 months in a darkened room. And even that has been a struggle. Through not working or having any health insurance, I have consigned both myself and my partner to an existence of grinding nightmarish poverty. Pac-man-like I have dutifully gobbled my pills. I went to the doctor. We have repeatedly bought psych meds instead of food. And the situation just continued to deteriorate.

So, yeah. It is a Bad Idea. I understand that.

But I am crazy. Not stupid.

How can this idea really be any worse than hiding from the world in a dark room swallowing drugs I can’t afford and watching my life dwindle into something so small and mean that no one would want it? I honestly had to wrestle that question for several months.

Frankly, I don’t think I have anything to lose by making this attempt. Not at this stage.

So, yeah. A bad idea, no doubt. But as far as my mental state goes, for the first time in over thirty years, this bad idea is MY bad idea.

I guess we can see what happens next.