carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
"She Was Not A Fiddler, She Was A Lady Violinist. I Was Her Beau."*-:- -:- -:- -:-

I decided to try to eat better, particularly in the morning to maybe stave off my panic attacks. To this end, I hardboiled a dozen eggs. Hardboiled eggs are easy and the only preparation they require is the removal of their shells.

And it's been going really well, except for the echoey thing in my head.

I remember words. Mostly dialogue, but also song lyrics and poems and actual conversations I had with real people. It's triggered by certain words or combinations of words or just the rhythm of certain phrases.

For instance, there's a scene in Casablanca where Victor Laszlo tells Major Strasser that he could never support the Nazis. "You see," he says, "I am a Czechoslovakian."**

And the way he says it, his inflection, requires me to quote Peter Warne (Clark Gable) in It Happened One Night. He tells Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) that her virtue is perfectly safe on the other side of the room—which he as divided with a blanket hanging from a rope. He declare it as sturdy as the walls of Jericho because, "You see, I have no trumpet." And he says it with exactly the same inflection.

I'm calling my diet a special hardboiled egg diet because on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Buddy tells them he's on a special hardboiled egg diet. It's just there in my head and I have to say it.

But the part that's driving me a little crazy(er) is A Night at the Opera. Because also as soon as I think two hardboiled eggs, there's the sound of Harpo's horn, followed by Groucho saying, "Make that three hardboiled eggs." Because it's there in my head and it just falls out whenever it's triggered by real life.

I wonder if this is related to earworm music. I get that, too. Right now Bob Dylan keeps repeating, "The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handle." That's not bad; when I think of it deliberately, it makes me laugh. The worst one I ever had was the song the children in the school sing in the The Birds when the crows are massing behind Tippi Hedren. The problem was, I wasn't hearing the words, just the tune—and I couldn't figure out what the hell it was! This was in high school, before the internet, when the most you could hope for was that you knew the right people who you could quote the words to and they'd tell you what the song was—but that only worked when you had words to quote! (I actually did have a friend good enough that I could go up to him and say, "Da-dunt, da-dunt, da-da-da-da-dun—what is that?" and he understood what I was talking about, though I don't think he recognized it. It finally came to me.

I find that the best cure for an earworm is to feed it. I listen to the song over and over until it's burned out of my brain.

While I was writing this, I looked up earworms on wikipedia, and they say musicians and people with OCD are more likely to have issues. I fall into both categories, a little. I'm certainly not musical, but I write by rhythm. And I'm what I call Comfort OCD. There are things I like to do in certain ways because the pattern-ness of the activity makes me happy—like hanging my clothes out on the line with the socks matched up. But if I can't do it that way due to time restraints, it doesn't upset me.

*Jonas Clay
**I just needed you to know that I spelled Czechoslovakian right the first time without looking it up. On the other hand, I left the h out of Jericho and had to look it up. Batting .500.
carose59: mental health care (and the pelican says)
[Originally posted elsewhere January 9, 2010]

When I talk about myself as emotionally unstable, I'm being literal. I'm taking both Cymbalta and Clonazepam. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics, and one of them had a grandmother who was manic-depressive. There's agoraphobia and panic attacks slithering around on one grandmother's side.

And the second grandmother? That's where you hit mental instability pay-dirt. All but one of my father's uncles died in the mental hospital. That one was the over-achiever of the family; he died in prison.

My father was manic-depressive, heavy on the manic, hospitalized many times, on Lithium when he died.

My mother has panic attacks and has had serious agoraphobia. She (and I) have the symptoms of one of the milder forms of manic-depression, heavy on the anxiety (and with me depression), light on the mania.

Like my father, I'm high-functioning. (The man would come out of the mental hospital and go right back to work. His only addiction was to cigarettes, and he took his medication religiously.) I don't drink, smoke, gamble, or have random sexual encounters. I was in a committed relationship that lasted twenty-five years and ended only because she died five years ago. I've held the same job for thirty years. After some moving around, Pat and I settled in a house next door to my parents, and have been here since 1986. I'm not in debt. I've never been arrested. I am overweight and my house is a mess. The only one who's diagnosed me is me, and my mother concurs. When I told all this to my last psychiatrist, I told him I was mildly manic-depressive, but not very good at it.

I describe myself as emotionally unstable because my emotions are where the instability shows. I cry easily, I have periods where I feel (metaphorically) as though I'm standing on a wobbly stool with my hands tied behind my back. I have periods where I feel as though my shadow is simply too heavy, and periods where the weight of other people's thoughts keep me immobilized. (I tell my therapist these things and she writes them down because they're both poetic and accurate. There are some things you can only be accurate about by being poetical.)

Besides all that, I'm terribly nearsighted and have an over-active imagination. Life comes at me in puzzling images that my imagination interprets before the rational part of my mind gets a chance. Those interpretations could be scary when I was a little girl, but now they're usually amusing.

I honestly don't understand most other people, which makes them potentially dangerous. I'm always saying things that seem perfectly reasonable to me, but upset other people, and they almost never tell me what they're upset about. (I do have a very silly sense of humor and a very serious way of expressing myself, which confuses people.)

I don't feel compelled to write this—I write about this stuff all the time in my private journal. I'm writing it because I want to, because if people are angry or upset with me because of nothing more than misunderstandings, this seems the easiest way to clear them up.

Not a bad day

Saturday, 6 February 2016 10:58 pm
carose59: crime and other violations (i read the news today oh boy)
"A Man Was Born, He Lived And He Died. The End!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I saw something odd this afternoon.

I was downtown to see Diane, parked in the parking lot for Roberts Park Church, and there was a line of men at the end of the parking lot. It wasn't readily apparent what they were lined up for; there was nothing at the beginning of the line. But a few yards away was a bench with a couple of men talking on it, and another man just standing there, a few feet away. From what I saw, it looked like the men were lined up to talk to the guy on the bench. I don't know what the man standing there was doing; maybe he was the guy's secretary.

I have no idea what this was all about.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I walked over and got a pizza from Bazbeaux. (It's about a block from the church.) Besides having really good pizza, they're the only place I know of where I can get a shrimp and red pepper pizza.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The session with Diane was good. I no longer feel like a sociopath. I figured out that I no longer care if my mother approves of me or is happy with me, because her disapproval and unhappiness aren't caused by anything I'm doing. It's very freeing. I'm mostly worried about feeling guilty about this later, but even if I knew how to make myself feel crappy right now, I don't think it would ward off bad feelings later. So I'm going to focus on coasting and enjoying myself. (Worrying about feeling bad later is typical manic-depressiveness, in my experience. Neither ups nor downs last forever, but the feeling that downs are payment for ups is pervasive.)

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Biting is very important to Meg, but he seems to have learned that there are acceptable ways of doing it. He bites my sleeves, and he also does this sort of mouthing thing where he only uses his lips and not his teeth. I praise him for this because it doesn't hurt and it's adorable.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

At the book sale the other day, I found a copy of one of my all-time favorite books: The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. I love anecdotes, and I also love that the book itself is seven hundred and fifty-one pages long with a green cover. Its title refers to the publishing company Little, Brown. And besides all that, it was edited by Clifton Fadiman.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Tomorrow I turn fifty-seven.

*Lucy Van Pelt
carose59: PLS (moses supposes his toeses are roses)
"I Don't Know Why. I Could Speculate, But I Won't."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I read an article in The New Yorker recently about a hospital where the survival rate of patients with a particular terminal disease is much higher than any other hospital. (I'm not being intentionally vague; I read the article sometime during the autumn and it's now late December and I no longer remember the names of either the disease or the hospital.) It was a disease that effects children, that they usually die from by the time they become teenagers, but one doctor has a program that is keeping them alive much longer. The reason for his success is constant vigilance, constant work, both by the medical staff and by the patients. Good enough wasn't good enough; taking a day off of therapy wasn't tolerated.

The point of the article was about how medicine, how medical treatment could be improved, but while I was reading it all I could think I was, I wouldn't have the energy to do this. I just wouldn't, not even when I was a kid.

My mother and I were talking the other day about our mood swings, and how it required a certain amount of emotional energy to call someone on the phone and talk to them, and I said it was like the tide: it comes and goes and you can't control it; when the tide is out, the tide is out and the energy just isn't there.

I've been feeling so bad about Pat for so many reasons, not the least of which is, if I was a better person, she'd still be alive. If I had looked after her better, she'd still be alive, and if I wasn't so selfish, I would have looked after her better. I believe that.

But I have to start letting it go, because I keep wondering about things that are wrong with me, various pains, and the whole one percent-possibility-of-cancer thing that I'm right now ignoring, and all I can think is that really, it would be all right if I had something terminal, because I don't really care about living a lot longer, and anyway, I deserve it. I'm not suicidal, but I am . . . not terribly concerned with living. It doesn't seem worth a lot of effort.

And besides, I feel very unhappy about this, the guilt is very painful, and it's making me feel like nobody wants to have anything to do with me. (Either that or it's true that nobody wants to have anything to do with me; I can't tell. But if I could get rid of the feeling, I could do more about making contact with people, and if I was doing everything I could and people were still . . . not there, well, then at least I'd know.)

If I had been a better person, stronger, more focused on Pat, on making her see doctors when she didn't want to, on making her eat better—

(I have no idea how I would have made her eat better. How do you force an adult to eat what she doesn't want to? For that matter, how do you force her to go to the doctor?)

I think we have a right to our own deaths. I think we have a right to be irresponsible with our lives, and choose how we're going to be irresponsible. I couldn't make her do the exercises the doctor told her to do, and making her feel bad because she wasn't doing them wouldn't have helped. I did what I could to make her happy; I did what she asked me as far as her health went. I could have done more, but I honestly don't believe she wanted me to, because I believe she would have asked.

The day Pat died, or maybe the next day, but probably that day because that's the day everybody called (and I never heard from most of them again), a friend who had just seen Pat a week earlier said Pat told her she was dying. I don't doubt that in the slightest, but I do wonder what she meant by it. Other people don't seem to be aware of her tendency to over-dramatize things. (But then other people never had to pick her up off the floor while she kept saying she was never going to be able to get up. It freaked me out when she said that, and I had to start answering with, "Well, then you better get used to the cats walking on you.") I don't know what to think. I keep thinking I should have known, but I'm pretty sure that's entirely the wrong thing to think.

If there was doctor who could have helped Pat, who would have kept her alive longer but who expected the constant vigilance and constant work I was talking about earlier—Pat would still be dead. Even though I'm doubting myself awfully right now, I do know this about her. She was not that kind of person, anymore than I am, and she wouldn't hate me for that. I did what I could, and she thought that was a lot; she told me so.

That was the first thing. The second thing was about my father's family, who I might have mentioned were crazy. Manic-depressive. My father had four uncles, three of whom died in the mental institution. The fourth one died in prison.

My father was manic-depressive. His brother, his only sibling, wasn't, but my cousin, his only daughter, is. I am, though I seem to take after my mother's side of the family more.

But my father had a cousin who was manic-depressive. He was married, no kids, and a pension from the army (because he had his first breakdown while he was in the service). At some point he was on some medication (I don't know what), but he stopped taking it, and he lived his life without it. He and his wife made the decision that they could do that, that they could live through the highs and lows without medication.

I don't know if they were happy together, but they stayed together, so I'm guessing they were.

*Bill Ayres
carose59: doctors (they understand matter not spirit)
"Trust Me. I'm In A Lab Coat."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I talked to the second neurologist to see my mother. (I was there when the first one saw her.) I should have been getting her to her Coumadin clinic appointments. This might not have happened if I had done that. But is in no way the fault of the two sets of paramedics who didn't see any stroke symptoms—not even the ones who came after I called 911 and said, "I think she's having a stroke." Because they can't be expected to know everything. I, of course, can, because I'm not part of the Perfect Doctor Club.

And my mother has been telling people that the reason she hasn't been going to the doctor is that it's so hard to work around other people's schedules!!! I got her to admit (to me) that this is not, in fact, the case. We were supposed to go . . . somewhere last month. I took the day off work. She (predictably) cancelled at the last minute. But I was there, ready and waiting. Between her agoraphobia, her depression, her physical problems, and my depression and PTSD, we haven't been doing a good job getting her out of the house. I admit that. But just like with Pat, I don't know how you force an adult in her right mind to leave the house when she doesn't want to, or to allow strangers in when she doesn't want them there. I wish I was better at this stuff, and the ironic thing is, I'm just like her about this stuff.

The second neurologist also said that "there was probably some dementia before the stroke." He bases this on his years of knowing my mother and—no, wait. I don't know what he bases this on. Her making bad decisions? If people making bad decisions = dementia, we might as well throw out the word dementia, because everybody makes bad decisions. I've clearly made bad decisions here, am I demented? (I like "demented" better than "suffering from dementia." Call a fucking spade a spade.)

He seemed utterly disinterested in her vision problems—wouldn't even let me finish talking about them. Doctors tend to be classically pro-life: we want to keep people alive forever, but we don't give a shit what kind of life that is. Casually tells me she won't be living at home anymore, like that's no big deal. Asshole.

She's going into rehab this week, maybe. I'm fighting them on sending her to rehab until they figure out just what's causing the nausea she's been having. The last time we came to the ER, it was about that and they shuffled it off to the side in favor of some other problem she had. The woman's eighty-six; point to any part of her, you'll find some kind of problem. But I see no point having her transported to rehab, only to have her unable to do the rehab because of her nausea. I've fought with doctors and hospitals and rehab people before; I'm not afraid to get back in the ring. I'm the Tiger Daughter. I'm the one who forced the first rehab center to send her to the hospital when she was having intestinal blockage that could have killed her. I'm the one who went completely apeshit on the woman who claimed vital information wasn't in the chart—and who asked the doctor who defended her, "Are you telling me she can't read? Because if she can't, I think she needs a different line of work."

Don't mess with depressed people. Sometimes being angry is the best we feel, so if you piss us off, we will lean into it and enjoy the energy rush.

I want my mother back. I suspect that's only going to happen in very small pips** from now on. I have to remember that I'm her sword and I'm her shield; I fight the battles and I take the blows that she can't.

*Julian, SoulPancake
**You know how Hershey bars can be broken into neat little rectangles? Those rectangles are called pips.

Brain stuff

Thursday, 23 July 2015 11:31 am
carose59: mental health care (and the pelican says)
"So One Way Of Looking At It Is Simply Not To Look At It At All."*

-:- -:- -:-

I'm listening to The Marshmallow Test, and I shouldn't be. My brain does not work like other people's, and I find it very upsetting listening to how things are "supposed to be" when I simply can't make them be that way. (This isn't the fault of the book; the author isn't talking about manic-depressives, so what he's saying isn't necessarily supposed to apply to me.)

One study they did was on how realistically people rate themselves socially, particularly how depressed people rate themselves, as opposed to other people with serious mental illnesses. The participants didn't know what the study was about, and there were outside observers also rating them, to compare how realistic depressives were about their social skills.

What they found was that while most people—including other seriously mentally ill people—give themselves unrealistically high ratings, depressives are incredibly accurate in their evaluations. Once again, depression is shown to be realism.

I say this stuff, and people think I'm somehow in favor of depression. I'm saying it because people tend not to listen to depressed people because we're depressed and not saying the things they want to hear. We're not pessimistic, we're realistic. It might feel good to have the optimists ruling the world, right up until their rosy plans crash and burn. That's why we need to listen to the depressives, who will point out the problems because depressives can see reality. We need optimism to see the future (because you can't build the future if you can't see it first), but we need depressives to keep it grounded.

By the way, I have excellent social skills. People talk to me, people like me, because I'm interested and engaged and amusing. They don't know that I'm mostly lying.

I keep wondering about these other seriously mentally ill people. Are we talking about schizophrenics? Maniacs? [I mean that literally, people in manic episodes.] Paranoiacs? God knows people in manic episodes can be very charming, but they can also be utterly insufferable, and how crazy were the schizophrenics? I can't imagine paranoiacs being very sociable. I'm thinking about this too much, but it's amusing the hell out of me.

The Marshmallow Test has to do with how we use our hot and cool brains, delayed gratification, and how it affects our lives. My cool brain methods are humor and logic; I find things funny, which cools them off. Or I find the flaw and just start deconstructing the thing until it's a small pile of rubble. Hell, I just did it here, now, while you were reading. I started off upset, but when my brain started picturing social interactions with seriously mentally ill people, it just went really funny.

*John Lennon


Saturday, 21 August 2010 09:34 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When you live in a garden,
people all come at you with plans


They seldom ask,
and what can a plant say anyway?
Please don't cut that leaf.
No, not that vine

Not that it matters.
Do I know what shape I want to be?
I thought this one

but I knew it wasn't.
I knew it wasn't.

And you have to fit in the garden.

Somehow I defy fixing.
Branches trained to bend one way
bend back no matter how hard I try
no matter how hard I try.
And I mourn even the losses of thorns I wanted shorn away.

Even asking,
even saying could you please make me look like
feel like
please make it
make me
please make me

For someone who is supposed to be so good with words,
I am remarkably incoherent.

What can I tell you?

Plants don't speak. We only follow the sun.

And when it goes down, we get lost.
Bound to the earth, we still get lost.

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.

Coming to a boil.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010 10:10 am
carose59: it's all in my head (the wind of the wing)
"No, I Definitely—I Don't Believe That. But I Have Found It To Be True."*

-:- -:- -:-

My Cymbalta hasn't been doing anything for me for a while now. It's the latest in a long line of drugs to start off promising and then renege on those promises.

Or maybe it was the doctors who made the promises. It's hard to tell. I've never been sure if any of them (besides the Great God Paxil) did anything more than help me sleep better for a while, which would make me feel better all by itself.

Cymbalta was also supposed to help with aches and pains, and I think it started off doing that. Now, not so much. And I'm on a higher dosage than when I started it, except I'm not.

I'm being non-compliant. A while back I started taking one every other day, so I'm back to my original dosage.

Then my GP recommended I start taking fish oil for my cholesterol and incipient carpal tunnel. So I've been scaling back further on the Cymbalta and taking more fish oil. (Scaling back. That's a joke, son.)

I tried telling my psychiatrist about the Cymbalta, but he wants to raise my dosage, after I'm tested for sleep apnea, which I probably have because I am, after all, fat.

Diane and I talked about the whole shame cloud that hangs over so much of this. I know that I deserve everything that's happening, even if it's not really happening, because I'm fat. Being fat is my own fault. Blaming my short, dumpy grandparents and their people is useless. If they were alive, they'd tell me how fat I am, too.

Anyway, I'm having some problems, mostly that I'm not getting enough red meat and that I'm crying a lot. I see my GP on the twelfth, and I'm going to tell him about this stuff, see if he still likes me.

I long for someone who understands all this to tell me what to do, but who understands all this? I looked for Dr. Thomas, the psychiatrist I had for a while last year, but I don't seem to be able to find him. So I'm going looking for someone new.

In the meantime, I can't seem to stop crying, particularly when I write about this stuff. I think it's all the stress that's been suppressed by the drugs, climbing out of my body the way on TV when somebody dies, you see a filmy image of them get up and leave. I haven't been up and I haven't been down, I've just been. Right now I'm feeling down, but I've also felt up lately.

*Tiffany Porter

I'm leaving comments on, but please don't think badly of me if you don't get a response this month.
carose59: dreams (whose mind watches itself)
"This Will Be Just What She Needs... ..A Bowl Of Rain!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The first one was from several nights ago. I dreamed I went into the kitchen and there was a large glass bowl full of green apples on the back of my stove. I was surprised, because I didn't think I had any apples, so I was looking at them a little strangely, and they started ridiculing me! They were saying things like, "You need to pay more attention!" and "We've been here for weeks!" in these snotty little high-pitched voices. (When I woke up, I wondered if they came from Crabby Apple Tree, who was a character on Tom Terrific, who I don't remember. But Pat told me about both of them. They were cartoon characters, in case you couldn't tell from their names.)

The other one was from night before last. I love dreams like this.

It was set in the Bones universe, and Zack was still part of the team. I was part of the team too, though through it all I was either invisible, or changing who I was repeatedly. We'd all been locked inside the lab for a new test the government had devised to make us think more creatively. (It was like the scene in Apollo 13 when the scientists had to figure out a way to make the square part and the round part fit together so the astronauts wouldn't die.) Anyway, we were all there with all our equipment, and Booth was there, but he was very unhappy. He kept saying that there was no reason for him to be there because there was nothing for him to do, none of the tools he used were there, he didn't even have his gun. He kept complaining until finally Brennan very kindly told him that he was one of their tools, so he should go sit down until they needed him. Oddly enough, Booth accepted this.

Then I woke up, turned over, got comfortable, and went back to sleep where I dreamed I was back in the lab, now telling Hodgins about my dream of how we were all locked in the lab, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. (You can never use two et ceteras. It's either one or three, and if it's three, you have to spell it out. I may have watched The King and I a time or two too many.)

Apparently in my memory of my dream, I had had a crush on Hodgins, and I didn't want to mention that part of the dream to him, but without it there was a gaping plot hole and the whole thing made no sense, so I was sort of tiptoeing around it, very embarrassed and afraid he already knew, or could tell by the way I was looking at him.

Analysis: the apples are red peppers I need to cut up and freeze. They aren't mocking me--not to my face, anyway--but they could be.
The first Bones dream is an exercise I did with my therapist two weeks ago, and which I will talk about later. I think I set it in Bones-land because it fits well there, and I've been watching it a lot lately.

*Linus Van Pelt

Why yes, I am.

Friday, 21 December 2007 06:40 am
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
"Feeling a Little Manic, Are You?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Sunday morning, I got up at six and started picking up the clothes piled up in my room. I dragged them down to the basement, sorted them into piles of things that needed washing and things that just needed a little refreshing (which I just run through a rinse cycle).

I don't know how many loads I did. I do know that I bagged up thirteen grocery bags of clothes and put them in the car.

Since then I've gotten rid of those bags, and done eleven more, and gotten rid of them. (I'm donating them to the Gaia Earth Movement, and there's a box just down the street, which helps a lot.)

Today I did three loads of wash.

I own a ridiculous amount of clothes, I make no bones about that. But I'm a little crazed (I can tell because in my head, I can perfectly imagine this ungodly mess of a house perfectly organized. Believe me, this will not last). So I'm a little crazed, and I'm taking advantage of it by getting rid of clothes, and reorganizing drawers.

In Shirley Jackson's last, unfinished novel, the heroine's husband has been dead some time, but it's only recently that she's left their home and gotten rid of his stuff. She was nervous about doing this because she was concerned that he might come back and want to know where his things are. Since the book was never finished, I don't know whether or not this was a reasonable concern. I do know that I feel the same way.

Last night I dreamed about Pat (which I've been expecting since Sunday) and yes, she wanted to know where her clothes were, and I was a little panicked and feeling guilty. (And, for the record, we were in a car, which is right. We spent a lot of time in cars. I don't think it was one of our cars, though. I think it was one of my parents' cars, from when I was really young. I don't know what kind of car it was, except that it definitely wasn't my mother's Dodge Dart.) The ones that make me saddest to get rid of are the things Pat owned before we ever met. They feel like the piece of road just before she reached a crossroads, and there was a path she could have taken that didn't include me. And maybe that would have been better for her, and was I ever kind to her, was I ever anything but selfish, is it my fault she's dead, or that she was sometimes unhappy? And I go to that place for a while, feeling like I'm watching some other life dying before my eyes.

So, anyway, I'm kind of manic. I took the day off work today and this is what I'm doing, and I have four more days off. I cleaned out Pat's closet, and I'm hanging my clothes in there. My goal is to own nothing that I would be unhappy to find was the last piece of clean clothing in the house, so I'm not only getting rid of clothes of Pat's that don't fit me, but things of mine that I just don't like.

There's still too much of it. My underwear is getting a little shabby, but otherwise I have enough clothes to last me a good long while, as long as my weight doesn't change. And I don't think I'm quite manic enough for that to happen.

If I start getting the urge to go out for promiscuous sex, or to spend myself into a huge hole, I'll let you know.

*my mother
carose59: FHK (feed them on your dreams)
It's Not Science. And I Wouldn't Exactly Call It Art Either.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I've got years of experience with crazy. It's in my blood, my bones, my hair follicles. My family is crazy, both sides, though of course the side that has the least tolerance is the one that was most fucked up.

My father is manic-depressive. (I won't use bipolar, they can't make me. It makes me think of the Arctic Circle. It makes me cold. And anyway, even if you use bipolar, you still have to use manic and depressive, or how do you describe an episode? "The patient was very bi today"?) And I've been having depressions since I was thirteen.

My father's craziness wasn't exactly the problem. My mother confiscated his checkbook after he spent them down to the ground during a manic episode, but we didn't scoff at his delusions, or humor them either, exactly. We believed them. The idea that the stuff that goes on in your head is just as real as the stuff that that goes on outside it is ingrained in me. It's given me a healthy respect for insanity, and I've got this idea forming, about hallucinations and other crazy thoughts being metaphors for things people can't deal with head-on.

Crazy Doesn't Mean Stupid.

I think my favorite crazy person in the movies is the guy in The 12 Monkeys. Not Brad Pitt; the black guy in the mental hospital. I don't remember the character's name. But he explains to Bruce Willis that he's not from another planet. Although the construct of the fantasy seems perfectly real to him, he is not from another planet. And since he now "knows" this, he's getting better.

The only trouble is, he doesn't know it. He's learned to repeat it, but it's obvious that nothing in his reality has changed. In his mind, he is indeed from another planet. But he's learning not to be crazy. He's learning to pass.

Only a movie, you say? My mother's told me the story of how, when she'd visit him in the hospital, my father would earnestly ask her to explain things like "a rolling stone gathers no moss" or "a stitch in time saves nine." The reason was, they'd use these to test my father's thinking. If you understood these metaphors, you were healthy, at least on some level. (They do this at the beginning of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, too, I believe.) Well, my father didn't know. (My father never knows; his brain just doesn't work that way, it's got nothing to do with how sane he is or isn't at any given moment.) But he would memorize what my mother said, repeat it to the doctors, and voila! Instant mental health! You, too, can learn to be sane, in the privacy of your own home. Though, of course, the privacy of your own home probably isn't the place you really need it. It's out there, with the scared people, that you need to act as sane as can be.

Can't write any more on this today, but I do want to talk about the whole "punish them 'til they get sane" aspect of mental health care.

*Prozac Highway

July 2017

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