Sixty

That’s what i turned today.

It was a great day.

The best birthday I’ve ever had — ever!

And I began thinking about a lot of stuff.  Stuff like life.  Where I’ve been.  Where I’m headed.  And I might say it’s been an interesting trip.  By no means easy.  There have been highs and there have been ravenous lows, where the body is consumed by psychological pain of such intensity, that all you want it to do is stop!  But it persists.  It is like having a demon at your side.  Sometimes, years.

At this stage, I have finally reached a plateau.  Things are by no means perfect.  There is still much conflict to overcome, but I feel I have grown because of it.  I don’t know how to say this and it might sound corny, but I feel as though I am held together by a spiritual energy I have worked very hard to achieve, against great odds.

I have the best group of friends one could possibly hope to have:  my support group.  That is what has held me together the past three years.  We have become attached to each other because of the common emotional experiences we share.  We know exactly what we’re going through.  It’s just that the rest of the world will never understand it, which makes it easy to stigmatize us.  So they do.  We face probably the greatest stigma because they consider us the loonies.  But what they fail to understand is that many of the so-called loonies are endless sources of creativity and understanding.  We have scientists, professors, psychologists, writers, painters, musicians, whiz kids, high school teachers, Muslims, Israelis, African Americans, Indians, Hispanics, Russians … the list just goes on and on. The only group that is unrepresented is doctors.  But we know they’re there too.  They just haven’t come out yet.

I often compare the psychiatric condition to the gay movement.  Both of us know what it’s like to be in the closet.  And I just hate closets!  But others are terrified of revealing their medical condition for fear of the stigma they must endure.  Such is ignorance.  But you know what I say to that?  FUCK THAT!  Look at me.  I look just like you.  But I am not anything like you.  I am different.  I may even be better than you.  Ultimately stronger than you.  And you’re trying to tell the world something is wrong with me?  Fuck that shit.

It’s been a glorious day today.  Andrew is snuggled on the couch next to me.  I have my blankie at the other corner and the remote and an ash tray and cigarettes.  Phone, of course.  Two good friends came by tonight.  Really laid back.  Just left.  Watched My Neighbor, Totoro.  One was the age of Andrew, the other, older, by about ten years, maybe?  (I don’t even know.  But those details don’t matter because we span generations)

Education is the key, of course.  You gotta get in there early and educate kids about the type of medical conditions we suffer from because chances are, many of them will also exhibit the same symptoms as us, and we need to have a knowledgeable society about these medical conditions, not superstitions.

This morning I was on the phone with Ted and we had a great conversation.  I miss him terribly. I’ve only seen him once this year.  And yet we are not that far away.  Only a 2 hour flight.  However, we are often immobilized by our illnesses, and reach into isolation, as though it gives us some sort of comfort.  Some people cut themselves to help deal with the psychological pain.  You’ll do anything to get it to go away.  Even kill yourself.

Now how many diseases can do that?

Ignorance is a dangerous occupation.  Yet it is everywhere.  Everywhere we look, we can spot Ignorance.  Today I feel blessed to have produced some sturdy children.  They’ve been through a lot and they’ve seen more than MOST people have.  And yet, they are ethically sound, artistic, creative, highly verbal, fluid, sensitive and empathetic.  What more could you ask for?

What a way to end a beautiful a day …

Response to an Article in a Psychiatric journal

That first comment is filled irony. Like seriously, you are measuring ways to fry the brain?

I had 16 sessions if ECT, 3 times a week. At the time I was getting. The anesthesia made me groggy for the rest if the day; my depressive symptoms got worse, and I had serious doubts about its effectiveness. This is about the time I lost my status as being compliant. I skipped a treatment. And then I had another one. After that I determined it wasn’t working, so I skipped the following session.

Two days before Christmas, I was scheduled for a treatment. I was slightly coerced into scheduling that, the jolly doctor, whom I referred to as Santa Claus had called me in Saturday. And I had expressed my concerns. And I told him I couldn’t decide what to do, so he said he would decide for me and schedule a treatment for the 23rd. When I skipped out in that one too, the kindly Dr. George was never heard from again.

No doubt it fucked up my memory. Short and long term. It had no discernible effect immediately but after several months I began to feel better. This could have more likely been caused in my switch from Prozac to EffexorXR. Prozac did nothing but cause problems before and I had been on the other drug for close to 10 years and was familiar with its effectiveness.

But overall, I have had a very good year and wondered if ECT was perhaps responsible, that it did do something to wake up my brain from the lethargy it was experiencing.

So maybe a bit of “frying” the brain is alright.

How the Republicans Look From My Balcony

I have never seen such an extreme example of Ideologues.

They have gone Rogue.  How do we know that?  Well even their fellow Republicans are saying, “Enough is enough.”  But they don’t care.  They have hijacked the American government.  One might even call them economic terrorists.

I’ve heard people talking about extremist groups but won’t come out and just say it:

These dudes are Delusional.  Period.

It’s interesting how it brings up the illness.  The symptoms come together.  The Republicans are in denial.  And not one them seems to know it!

Feeling Bad

Feeling bad chronically I would say is a sign of Depression.  But why do we feel bad?  And what do our early childhood experiences have to do with it? 

I remember being traumatized by a jealous grandmother who took things away from me and shipped them to her daughter in Greece, my Aunt Helen.  Imagine taking something away from an 8 year old that is beloved?  Essentially stealing it.  She was a stupid woman.  Petty, spiteful, stingy, a thief, —  Imagine the role model!

She was a cruel woman who liked to frighten me by putting a full sized blanket over her head and pretend she was the boogey man who terrified me.  The only character I can compare her to is the Wicked Witch in Frank Baum’s novel, The Wizard of Oz — only worse.

Now surely I must have had a sense of humor to survive such a woman.  Even as a child I could see how absurd she was, and in need of help.  But I always also remember how her husband, my grandfather, abandoned her after the daughter was born, and fled to America, where he stayed until he went back to get his wife, now an old woman.  I remember stories that sounded horrid to me — how she tied up her kids so she could work the fields for their food and shelter, for example — and my father defended her for her actions.  He had a lot of respect for his mother.  She was a single parent, after all, in 1921. There was no precedent. 

But I see I have veered way off course here.

Feeling bad.  That’s what we excel at — those who are affected by the Affective Disorders of the Brain — we are good at feeling bad.  Nobody can feel as bad as we do, we think.  And even though each story is different (one of the fascinating things about it) there are common characteristics that emerge, but no reliable pattern.

It’s not hard to make me feel bad.  I felt bad when my Modern Dance teacher told me I was looking “too much like a Ballerina.”  I should have said, “So?”  But instead I started to fret and worry about looking too much like a Ballerina, and wondered what I should do to change that, so I cut down on my Ballet classes, which was a mistake.

And yet, such a seemingly simple comment can have a radical affect on how we behave.

A Word or Two About Stigma Busters

We are a group dedicated to fighting the social stigma which derives not from them (Whatever that means) associated with a complex collection of brain disorders which is topped with a kiss from a group designed to melt away the hostility people fear toward the mentally ill as you call them.

Such a simple task.

Look around you.

Of all the people in jail and arrested for heinous crimes those are seldom as publicized.  But you can bet every mass murderer suffered from mental illness.  This should be a lesson.  For there are many more people out there (than any one might, imagining nothing more difficult than how to get to bed or out of bed, too, feel severely abused, when will we acknowledge that?

I often wonder if we will ever get to the root of brain afflictions.  They evolve so rapidly, sometimes unexpectedly.  Random.  But consistent.  Stubborn.  Unwilling to budge. Yet no other illness is as complicated or more fascinating to study.

We represent the unrepresentable because are unable to do so ourselves.  Yet a small group has been invited to join our group and we have made tremendous progress.  We coached a brilliant 22 year old who had been diagnosed abnormal when she was ten.  Her high school career was highly untraditional.  Did home schooling for close to 2 years of high school.  She failed at one math class and when she took it her results were stunning.  In other words, highly gifted.

It’s a fucking bitch!