Thursday, December 31, 2015

Avoidance Is The Only Cure

Avoidance Is The Only Cure

Dealing with bipolarism and PTSD, I have found one of the only – or, at least, most helpful things I can do is avoidance.  That sounds kind of strange possibly”.  How does a person with significant neural challenges avoid the effects of those challenges?  It might seem that would be mostly impossible.

Actually, it can be difficult, but not totally impossible.  The first thing you need to do, of course, is own up to the problem.  I.e., I think I’m a bit nuts.  A sign is having fits of sobbing for no reason, followed by uncontrollable rages (also for no apparent reason, or minimal provocation).  Anyhoo … not on that topic – let’s just assume that the crazy person (let’s say – me) has been diagnosed by several professional nut hunters (therapist and psychologists) as being loony.  Well, maybe just having difficulty processing proper social interaction and maybe life in general.  So, that part has been determined.

First comes a few days in some facility for observation, diagnosis, stupid support group sessions, etc..  Then you get the meds and more observation and all that.  Several rounds of those things until it would seem you can now handle the crap of living with a MH issue.  If you survive with any integrity, self-confidence, spiritual strength, or any of the human attributes where you no longer simply loath your self and your life, then you get to go out the Clinic door and reface life.  Whatever remaining life you haven’t managed to destroy, anyway.

You are now riding the motorcycle of various medications down the freeway (turnpike) of a new life.  And, truthfully, prior to this time you have never been on a 600 lbs., or more, two wheeled motorized monster.  AND, there is the lovely sidecar of side-effects of those medications.  Which can, and often will, include massive weight gain – even though you eat almost nothing but maybe heavy air.  Drowsiness on the order of a two-toed sloth and shaky hands like a Chihuahua in the snow.   Amongst a few others that are really scary.  And then, one month out ten, or so, the meds just stop working.

Then the whole process starts over.  Clinic, observation, diagnosis, etc.  Such fun can only be had while totally stink-asse drunk (or stoned, baked, whatever your preference) at the State Fair. 

Exercise like an Olympic Hopeful does help.  And I mean, running marathons, swimming wide deep-water channels or rowing from Florida to Cuba.  Any of these activities pursued religiously can be found helpful.  In no way curative, but somewhat helpful.  Exercise is one thing you do not want to avoid, no matter how much you might hate it or how painful it might be.  Just being strong does help and I mean, not just facing your problem and being emotionally and intellectually strong in dealing with it, but being, and knowing, that you are physically strong.

The daily discipline of getting out and doing something that makes you sweat, is really, really important.  Or, once you find out you are nuts, getting physically fit is a side-effect you shouldn’t complain about.

BUT, there are other parts of this scenario that do help by as much avoidance as possible.  Some are obvious; i.e. (again with the i.e.) – liquor (alcohol) and recreational drugs.  The interaction and side-effects of that plus the serious psychotropic meds can be really bad – as in, you could die or totally loose your mind, which might be worse than dying (I think).  Other obvious things like avoiding taking your meds – a millions stupid excuses can be made for doing this.  One of the worst is, “I feel fine, why should I continue to take this stuff that makes me fat and sleepy all the time.”  Sure you feel fine.  That’s partly because the meds are working!!!  Don’t be stupid.  When you put on your prosthetic leg, it doesn’t mean you are now normal and don’t need the fake leg.  Go ahead, take it off and see if you don’t fall over.

What you can avoid.  I used to love Classical Music (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.).  Now it depresses the shit out of me.  Really badly.  I can’t bear to have it playing anywhere.  Why?  Who’s knows?    Sad movies, cowboy music, uneducated or poorly informed people.  Really shallow sit-coms or chick flicks.  Worst of all, being alone.  Again, some of these things may seem like they are obvious personal preferences, but no … for me, these are things I quite literally cannot expose myself to.  For other psychos, this kind of list could be entirely different.

Some things that are really simple and maybe could apply to others with these MH issues.  I take my meds and I avoid letting my mind think I am any different than anyone else.  On the prescribed medications, under professional supervision, I am just a dude like any other dude.  I avoid goofing off.  Even if I am very physically tired, I avoid chillin’ out.  Keep it moving.  Any time, my mind starts to reflect on my life and fucked up experiences, I avoid letting those fill my brain.

I avoid, in the following order; negative (cynical) people, negative situations (like confronting a bigot or stupid lawn statements – a blog to come later), horror movies, any situation where I might be trapped into a conversation where I know that a differing opinion would not be welcomed.  And several other things I will include in a blog later.

This is not a good ending to this particular piece, but it is the last day of 2015 and I want to get this on-line.

So I wish all my readers a wonderful New Year and may the miracle of prosperity of happiness find you.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hatefulness Looks Exhausting

Hatefulness Looks Exhausting

Hate, bigotry and xenophobia are so exhausting. How does a person keep it all straight? Who to hate this week? On whose neck to stand on next week? I mean really ... I guess such a person needs to keep a list handy so they can be sure which child or old person to punch in the face. Does that person appear to be gay or Muslim? How is a downtrodden white plumber to get it right? Oh well, if you're not sure, just pull out your second ammendment shoot 'em. I mean after all they were walking in your personal space of 20 square feet and you were just "standing your ground".

I don’t know for certain, since I am not a person who can hate much – or, at all really.  I don’t really understand it.  But from what I can see; from what I have observed, it looks exhausting to me.  Like hating someone for reasons that are simply stupid – they practice a religion different from yours, or they have a skin color that is different, or they are a man who prefers other men in a way you don’t understand.  Then for some reason, the hateful person feels a need to act poorly towards those people.

Even if those other people are children or old women.  How is it even possible to express hatred towards a child?  !!!  ???  ????  Or, a really decrepit old woman or man.  At my advanced age, I am really kind of old myself, and, I am a war veteran.  Fortunately I never had to fire a weapon or try to kill the enemy.  I had a college roommate who was Viet Namiese  (sp).  He was a really good guy and a good roommate – he liked garlic and fish a bit too much, but otherwise we got along just fine.  Going over to his home country and attempting to shoot at his relatives – because I was supposed to hate them, was too strange for me to contemplate at the age of 20. 

Even though I served for two years – I am as patriotic as the next American – I was mostly a teletype operator and just sat in a overheated teletype rig typing out orders for somebody else to go shoot people.  A conundrum for someone who is basically a pacifist at heart.  I never got around to hating the enemy.  I just typed stuff and ran the transmitter.  I hated the heat and the bugs, but it never occurred to me to hate other human beings.  There were layers of concertina wire, guards and dogs surrounding the rig. 

In order to really hate effectively though, it seems a person has to remember, “Oh, I hate those people.  I can’t be nice to them.  I have to act all hateful and show them disrespect and stuff.”  But, “I like these other people.  So, when I see those people I have to be mean and when I see these people I need to be nice.”  How does anybody keep it straight?  That seems like it would take a lot of concentration and energy. 

Then there is the bit about guns.  They cost money and you can only do one thing with them.  Which is to destroy stuff.  And, you need bullets and bullets cost even more money – and you can only use them once. You can’t use them to build houses or … chop firewood or … paint things.  All you can do is put big holes in stuff – or other people.  Who really really needs to do that?  And what if you can’t keep your hatred straight and get confused and shoot the wrong people.  “Whoops!  I like  those people, it was those other people I hate.  But, once you pull that trigger and put a hole in them, well, that’s pretty much something you can’t undo.

Okay, so now we come to treating them with disrespect.   “That guy, or woman, looks like they are gay (?).”  Which is a pretty tricky judgment.  I know lots and lots of people who are gay.  They don’t really look all that different and many of them are good friends.  I mean, I like them and what is there about them to hate?  Or, if somebody’s skin or eyes are different from mine.  Big deal.  What the fuck difference does that make?  Maybe they speak English as a second language.  Half of the people you will meet in foreign countries speak English – most Americans only speak English.  Even when they go to a place where they don’t, as a rule speak English, they still try hard to communicate with US as visitors.  Why should I hate them when they come here?  At least they tried hard to be able to talk with me.  I should hate them because they struggle with my language? 

For me, it is just easier … or maybe I am emotionally lazy … to like people.  Or, at least to like them at first – give them the benefit of doubt about being a good, reasonable and honest person.  Love seems easier that hate.   Hating  requires scrutiny and making a judgment and then putting that judgment against your list of people and stuff you decided to hate.  Mentally checking that list and then deciding in what manner you are going to shit on somebody.  How much hatred and meanness can you get away with in a given situation?  If you go too far (assuming that’s possible in some locales), where is the line you can’t cross?  Man! That’s a lot of thinking.  Whew! 

It’s also all so limiting to stick yourself in some group with some kind of code that forces you to remember all that stuff.

Being nice, being gentle, being considerate and loving simply seems to be far less work.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Miracle of Madness

The Miracle of Madness

The list of mad geniuses is far longer than the list of normal geniuses (whatever normal means).  Actually I think normal as it relates to anybody’s mental state or mental stability.   Really, look it up.  Name any human who has ever achieved any lasting change; cultural, political, scientific, artistic – any advance (sometimes, yes, even destructively backward) – nuts.  In some manner every one of these individuals have an aberrant brain condition.

In the case of Prophets, any religious figure of import and influence, all of them spoke with God (by whatever name you prefer to use).  God, some entity beyond the normal, everyday experience of normal people.  These Prophets spoke with something in the beyond.  In any context, or definition, other than a religious modality, this would be considered to be insanity.  And, due to simple charisma, intensity and fervor, they manage to pull the weak willed into their world and this new view becomes a general view and, therefore, normal.  

Beyond that we have all of the great artists, every damned one of them – every goddamned one of them.  Michelangelo, yes.  Da Vinci, yes.  Not just Van Gogh, of the missing ear, but Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Kandinski, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol.  All of ‘em were nutty as a deaf bat.  Einstein to whoever other scientist you can think of.  For me there is Einstein and Madam Curie and that’s about it.  Maybe Wozniac  (Apple computers?).  Politically from Ceasar, the Pharoahs, Geo. Washinton, Lincoln, Hitler, Truman – all of ‘em, mentally bent in some intense fashion.  If nothing else, narcissistic as God, himself.

 Logically – to accomplish anything extraordinary, by the definition of the word, you cannot be ordinary.  Ordinary goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing.  Possessing of the ability to reach beyond the ordinary, what is normal, into the miraculous world of seeing, thinking beyond normal and ordinary.  To see, to think of what might be, what could be, made from what is, or could be, into something entirely new.  An evolution, or a total invention of what has never before existed. 

And the genius giving birth to this newness must be prepared to suffer.  Often this is what happens when the madman (or woman) creates from what may seem to be, the ether.  The ordinary, the normal will often kill, or crush, any threat to the status quo.  Go beyond what they know and you put yourself in grave danger.  David may defeat Goliath, but the real world will most often turn on David and destroy him – not make him king; something that could only happen in the Bible or Star Wars.  For one thing, find the helmet from any suit of armor and show me where the forehead is exposed.  Personally, I’ve never seen one.

But none of this is particularly important, more so than to state total focus is a requirement for highest achievement.  The one who comes in first, is the one who refuses to come in second.  Totally refuses, rejects even the vague thought of coming in second. 
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting of Genesis (the creation), which is arguably the highest achievement of visually telling of this story, was painted by one such madmen.  From all historical accounts to his own writings, all psychological science can attribute bipolarism and extreme narcissism to the man.  He went head to head with the most powerful man, the Pope, in the western world and won.  He was celebrated for his creative and physical artistic skills and reviled, by pretty much everyone who knew him, for his temperament and personality.

There were many cities that both the Allies and the Axis refused to bomb, because of the Art present in those cities.  Didn’t give a shit about the people.  Hitler (definitely mad) killed over six million people and yet he hauled off every significant work of Art he could get his grubby paws on.  A weird sidebar, but a truth.  The first group Mao grabbed was the intellectuals and artists.  Shot the intellectuals and forced the artists to produce propaganda.  Shot the ones who wouldn’t do it. 

The cruelty of all this is that while we justifiably despise the immoral mad men, we rarely admit the highest morality evident in the actions, the work, of the totally moral genius.  Those who walk the dark valleys, surrounded by evil and destruction, and yet emerge with only love in their hearts.  Never releasing their grasp on goodness, right action and love.  While that work is going on, being done, obstacles and persecution are ever present, when it is finished and the goodness is apparent, obvious and undeniable, it is worshipped.  The doing of the deed is reviled and the result is celebrated.

It is easy and comfortable to be the bird that hides in the nest, it takes extraordinary courage to be the bird that takes to wing.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

“Suicide Is Painless … ?”

“Suicide Is Painless … ?”

The theme song from the 1960’s (60’s – 70’s) sitcom “Mash” went something like.
“Suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes.”

Of course, this is a stupid statement, but then I believe it was meant to be a stupid statement.  To-ho-tally inspired by the irony of a stupid war, stupid human enforced violence and tragedy.  Stupid wars, as a tradition we have continued in this country since the Korean Conflict. 

But still, is suicide painless?  How the hell would anyone know?  You can’t ask anyone who has successfully accomplished suicide.  They’re dead!  How are they going to tell you?  You can ask somebody who failed at it.  “Woah, dude! Did that hurt?”  “Yeah, it fucking hurt!  I just shot myself in the fucking head!  Yeah it hurt!!!!  It still fucking hurts!!!” 

The greatest tragedy is that to say it’s painless is actually more of a narcissistic statement – outlook – than common thought would embrace.  For the dead guy, suicide is now painless.  That person can’t feel anything.  But, as is also obvious, everyone else who had any contact with that person is very painfully affected.  For the family, the formerly loved ones, it hurts like a bastard!  It hurts with a pain that never ever goes away.  And  “the changes” it “brings on” are a continuous state of pain, regret, despair, depression, anxiety, self-recrimination – the inventory of pain is endless.  And permanent!

But nobody talks about the blame.  Or, when they do, this takes on a vengeful note.  A condemnation of someone.  The person who killed themselves is a sinner who will burn in Hell!  The spouse, parents, friends – somebody must pay!!!  What I wonder is “Why?”  “Why do we have to have a scapegoat?”  Not, “there’s a problem here.  We need to … maybe … find a solution?”  And, “This should not happen?  Oh no, we must assign blame. 

Thing is, no one can know what it is like to walk on one leg, unless they loose a leg.  You can imagine it, sure, but what it is really like to try to walk on a prosthetic limb is something you can only know with the imperial evidence.  Who do you blame when you fall into that black lightless cave of depression and despair?  Really?  Have you been there?  I know when it happens to me, and it does happen to me not infrequently, I don’t blame anyone or anything, I just want to get out of that cave.  And, in the past, I was never in a right mindedness (rational enough) to think, or even care, how I got out of it.  I just wanted the fuck out! 

The judgementality  of other people only makes it worse.  Much, much, much worse.  The brain, in such pain, knows no rationality and it does resent all the insincere, phony sympathy.  Sometimes the brain in pain violently resents phony sympathy.  Brain is shrieking, “Just make it stop!  What to do?  How to help?  Simply?  “Shine a light into the cave.”  Don’t try to yank the afflicted out of the cave.  Most likely you will get bitten or clawed.  Simply shine a light into the darkness with – maybe – a smile or a kind nonjudgmental word or gesture and allow time and space for the afflicted to react and respond as they are able; can find the strength to extract themselves. 

And, make the greatest attempt to understand that what might seem rational or intelligent or appropriate are conditions that do not exist in these circumstances.  Do not expect those things.  They do not apply.  In the case of being the one afflicted, “Faith that nothing BUT nothing is forever for the living. “  The only thing that is forever, is death.  So … if you don’t take away your own life, things will eventually change.  And, hold on to that factual knowledge like it is a floating log in a class five rapids.  Whatever you do, don’t let go of that log and eventually you will float to calmer waters and can climb out of the fucking river.

In the cave, just sit down and wait for the light.  When you see it, crawl towards it.