Tag Archives: Personal

On Such Stuff that Rattles around between My Ears

I was wandering through my thoughts the other day, reflecting on vague recollections of a book I read many years ago titled who owns what’s in your head, or something a kin to that.  Ownership of a thing I understand but the contents in my head or yours for that matter, are those such things some how the same as a house or a car?

After all, how do you fit a car inside your head?

A thought certainly is the same as a car but does a thought take up space?  What about a novel?  A novel certainly takes up space when it is finished even if it exists in digital form but where does all of that come from?  Does it take up space when it is nothing more than a compilation of thoughts.  Can such a thing be measured?  IQ aside, I mean what does IQ really mean other than a basic measure for an individual abilities to deal with mathematics, language and complex problems (logic), where did the idea of IQ come from?

I look around the studio where I am writing this and I honestly can’t figure out how I perceive it the way that it is.  The space I am observing is much larger than the space my head takes up so is nothing more than a mental trick, some type of an illusion?  I find my self again confronted by Aquinas concept of the Phantasm.  For all I know he borrowed the concept from the Greeks by way of Islam and maybe the Greeks borrowed the idea from the Egyptians, I lack any really understanding of the history of the idea.  Who am  I to judge any way?

Are these carried thoughts in our head along with feelings and creative urges just genetic cargo.  The result of our genes functioning and really nonexistent in the end, that Picasso or Kandinsky is just an illusion and nothing more than a genetic exercise.  When ever I consider Genetic Determinism this is one of the Walls I run into to.  How much of our existence is determined by our genes.  Is our every single creative moment, our thoughts and our feelings all contained in our genes at birth and exercises like this nothing more than genes mindlessly interacting with the environment.  All other things are simply an illusion?

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to answer the question.  Though I don’t think that is a bad thing.  Everyone needs a little wonder in their life.  This keeps existence from become grey and maudlin.

At any Rate have a better than average day.

 

A Sidebar on freedom of Speech

First I feel the\ need to say that I support the second amendment.

That being said, I have a question to ask.  That question is what constitutes Hate speech?

You can define it how ever you like, it makes no difference to me.

So if we as American’s suppress any from of speech because it is hateful what purpose does that serve?

Does it simply serve the elimination of speech that makes us uncomfortable, that feels threatening?

So this is a move to eliminate speech that we, whom ever we maybe, from feeling discomfort from the speaker.

This is censure ship.

Okay

I can deal with that but I have a question, what is the purpose of this action?

If it is to eliminate hate I fear that it will fail.

what THIS DOES IS FORCE HATE INTO PRIVATE GATHERINGS WHERE IT FESTERS, IT IS NOT allowed to be discussed in public where the every day CITIZEN can HAVE A CHANCE TO HEAR THE ARGUMENT AND DECIDE. It allows evil to fester under the skin where only the privileged have the opportunity to speak and there is were the real violent danger lies.

Have a better than average day.

Another Adjustment

The next big adjustment I want to try and discuss is getting use to the idea that I couldn’t trust my senses, principally seeing and hearing but to a much lesser degree sense of smell and touch.

When a Mental Health Professional states to some one like myself that what they are seeing or feeling is not real, they, the Professional, don’t seem to understand what a profound task they are asking us to undertake.  People don’t generally question their senses.  As the old statement goes, seeing is believing.  Many of the Schizophrenics I have been able to talk to on the subject have made it clear to me that eventually they learn to play a long.  Imagine for a moment that some one told you that your family was not real, that they were a hallucination and, just for the sake of argument, you love your family, they were a vital part of your life, how would you react?  I am beginning to think that this contributes to the problem of medication compliance.  The is something about the hallucinations and the world they help the sufferer to create that is seductive.  Chronic sufferers have a hard time reentering the mainstream simply because they lack a certain social understanding leaving them feeling awkward.  Suddenly they crave that world they knew so well.  The regular world is an alien land and they are way behind the curve.

The second issue with the problem of accepting that one cannot trust their own senses is that a hallucination is so much more than just an image or a sound.  There is a complex set of other physical sensations that go along with them.  I remember digging out my Abnormal Psych text book to look up physiological phenomena that accompany mental illness.  Top of the list was Hypertension, somewhere else on the list I found Diabetes but no where did I find a discussion of these other sensations.  If the sufferer perceives a thing that is terrifying then their heart rate increases, the respiration increases, muscles tense and a liberal dose of adrenaline is dumped into their blood stream.  For people who lack any real awareness of their body this may result in nothing other than a panic attack.  On the other hand if they perceive a thing that is loved and is believed to love back they’ll get a very different set of feelings almost opposite of the last description.  They may even be a scent involved or a very rare touch.  In both cases these reactions are either instinctive, emotional or both.

I had a strange advantage, again I must pay tribute at least in word to abnormal Psych which I took my sophomore year.  I was already in a state of doubting my senses, particularly eyes, ears and touch.  I don’t think this was good for me in the long run as my Major at the time was Physics and Chemistry.  I think it might have promoted the eventual breakdown.  On the other hand it might have given me the tools to deal with this very issue.  The whole thing sounds crazy.  I could tell when I was Hallucinating and when I wasn’t.  I remember describing it to Meta like this:

Imagine that you are looking at a movie screen.  There are two movies playing on that single screen at the same time.  One film is black and white and it is a comedy/mystery and the other film is science fiction and in color.  Both sound tracks are playing at the same time and at the same volume.  One film is reality and the other film is not.  In time, a human with enough concentration and patience will be able to tell one from the other, in parts.

The weird thing about this is even though I could tell and know that a thing I was experiencing was not real my body still reacted as though it was.  This has taken a toll on me.

Also when I am away from familiar surroundings I must spend extra energy reality testing, some thing that Meta often helps me with, but often I carry out a silent survey of the area.  This is an effort to catch anything unreal before it creeps into the world.  Visual experiences creep into the viewers world generally from the side of the eye or the corners of the room and sneak up on you, at least that has been my experience.  If I catch the experience early I can’t circumvent the worst of the physical reactions.  Plus I don’t always see the people I am interacting with true. This requires a certain level of concentration and at the same time a social awareness to void appearing “creepy.”  The whole exercise is quite exhausting.

I have been trying to discuss this with the various individuals I work with through the clinic but they don’t seem much interested.  I can assume that their are many different reasons for this most of which are not unkind nor untoward.  For some reason I feel that it needs to be out in the world so I write it here.  Maybe some one can get some use out of it or maybe I am just crazy.

Either way, have a better than average day.

Comments Inspired by the Last Post

Art is about the process, they say.

I suppose that this is true.

When I mess around with visual art.  Old fashion Art which is mixed media on board or paper, generally, the idea of the process seems obvious, to me.  It is a struggle to get a image, a thing, from my mind’s eye onto paper.  It is a struggle between the mind which can be crisp and clear to the hand which, in my case, is far less certain.  What comes out at the end, whether I like it or not, is the result of this process or struggle.  Sometimes I surprise myself, not to say that I am particularly good at it, just to say that the end product is both pleasing to my mind’s eye and it comes with a sense of accomplishment.

Growing up and through into my late twenties I also had a love affair with the written word.  In this case reading it for leisure or escape.  I was always interested in the act of writing.  It was a thing that I was passionate about.  Well as passionate as I can be.  I was just never very good at it.  It seems that English wasn’t my strongest suit so when I wrote it was simply for the love of the act, the process.  I think that it is this love that keeps me working on a thing in which I fully realize I lack real talent.  In the case of writing, skill counts as well, but skill takes time.  It has been a serious education.

Here is the strange thing.

After I washed out of college and the work force I found that I had nothing but time.  I certainly didn’t want to spend my days sitting in front of a television set or later a computer monitor.  So I continued messing around with drawing, mixed media and writing.  From my experience, for what ever that is worth, schizophrenia, I think, is an ailment that in part effects that way one thinks.  We like terms like chemical imbalance or genetic defect and we avoid idea about states of consciousness and the power of world view.  World view in this case being about how thoughts are ordered, logic and the underlying assumptions that structure that logic.  I used to like and think that being schizophrenic was like having a waking dream.

It took time to get my head together well enough after breakdown to begin to tinker with words again.  I think it took several years before I started to put pen to paper with any regularity.  It was a challenge that I enjoyed and over time I could see my words and their use improve.  The better my writing became the clearer my thoughts grew.  I don’t want to undervalue medication in my case, but medication alone is not enough.  Meds aside, the decades that I have been working on writing whatever thoughts I may have on my mind, mostly fiction, have led to a certain state of clarity.  Not to say that I am as clear as a person free of Schizophrenia, simply that I am far clearer than when this whole hootenanny started.  I have reached a point where all of the people I knew personally with this diagnosis are now passed, the last being Meta’s sister.  That makes me the last person standing.  This leaves me with a weird feeling.

I can’t say that this path will work for anyone else.  My conclusions are drawn from purely anecdotal evidence.  Instead I forced to admit that I am lucky.  This is so because of my interests, studies, experiences and college course work before my breakdown and my relationship with Meta after Breakdown.  Change any one thing in that mix and I may not have survived to 30 much less 50 something.

It is times like these that leave me wide eyed with wonder at the staggering complexity of any individual life.  That every life has something nearly unique about its existence.  This is not a question of God or not God, but rather the wonder we each should struggle to maintain so that we may get the most out of each life.  It is a way for baffling the mundane, the bad days, the less than adequate work, short comings and failures we are all confronted by.

I hope you have a better than average day.

The Art of Adjustment

I have a hazy recollection of the day I was finally diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  I remember the intense sensation of relief.  As far as the date goes, I am far less certain.  That question I always answer as late spring early summer of 1989.  I want to say 1990 but I moved in with Meta around December 6th 1989.  That occurred after I was instructed that I had to stop working.

I had no idea how I was about to eat and put a roof over my head with out work but the alternative was institutionalization.  I can say I was the most not cooperative client the clinic had on this issue, but I was fully well aware that there was no real way I could resist if such a decision was made so I acquiesced.

I am pretty sure that I have talked about this before.

The label, Schizophrenic, like anything else, is a double edged sword.  One of the hardest things to cope with as the moment the sense of relief wore off was shame.  Wu live in a culture that has an individual-centric meaning with which every good thing that comes our way is the direct result of our individual merit and every bad thing that comes our way is also the direct result of our lack merit.  This is true it the very least in the working class and the lower middle class where I formed the basis of my world view.  This is a hard thing to cope with and it took many years, decades to be fair, to work passed this.  The most important step in this adjustment was resignation.  I mean this in the sense that Kierkegaard discusses in his work Fear and Trembling. 

I am getting a head of myself.

The first big adjustment that most people like me have to make, if we want to live, is medication.  I had taken a few Psych courses while I was at the university one being abnormal psychology and I had a distinct recollection of the subject matter the day I received my diagnosis.  That was “The number one problem with the treatment of schizophrenia is medication noncompliance.”  I remember saying to the Doc that day.  One of the big problem with Meds is side effects.  These are often hard to describe other than dry mouth, stiffness of the joints and one of the stranger effects for me was vivid dreaming and the sudden sensitivity to sunlight.  Now once a doctor has chosen a med for a client, such as myself, they generally don’t like to change it right away.  They want to give the medication a chance to work.  Often the recourse is to increase Meds if the desired effect hasn’t been achieved.  This causes side effects to intensify.  This will lead to other Medication being prescribed to deal with side effects.  I like to call this the Medication Pyramid.  I am a medication minimalist.   It best to learn to trust the Doctors.  When some one feels both vulnerable and powerless this is a lot to ask.  I remember the feeling of being threatened.  It was an intense experience and it took a couple of years and a change of doctors before I could make the least little bit of head way in this respect.

It was a tiny, tiny bit of head way.

When an individual is vulnerable and powerless the act of trusting requires a leap of faith.  This is a very difficult thing to accomplish.  The first few times it is a gut wrenching experience.  It isn’t like a great leap you might see in various action type films for the leap of faith is taken in an environment where you can not see the other side.  You have no real idea how the doctor, in this case, is going to react.  We like to paint doctors as great humanitarians but they are still human beings like you and me…well maybe not that much like me.  They have their own problems to deal with.

In my experience just being real with a person I barely know requires this leap.  There are repercussions to being mentally ill, especially schizophrenic. in a social and economic sense.  These are unpredictable.

I guess that I am writing this to get across one idea.  As a persons moorings give and they find themselves falling uncontrollably into a new unknown world where they don’t know the rules or how to work the system they will find that they too may have to take this fated leap.  I hope this provides some help.

Post Industrial

Welcome to my desolation

post industrial rust pile

cold home

There are others here

shades paler and darker

in the streets

as shackled spirit eyes

with out vision

Once greatness was here

it still whispers

from the dark corners

of any winter’s night

but we walk child like

unknowing

empty gazes haunted

by impossible futures

The Searcher

I search

in the eyes

of those who pass

for something unproven

a thing rumored

a hope

peace

I am paranoid

they say

you know how they are

and they are mistaken

I am aware of my surroundings

Am I or I am, I think

I search

for a softer trait

but, the all too human darkness

hides in shadow

what is kind

in our kindred

even faith succumbs

and still

I search