Saturday, April 30, 2016

Heloise, Alex, and Frances


Nadia Bolz-Weber beat me to it. Damn it. In Accidental Saints: Finding God in all the Wrong People, she writes of Frances, her depression. Wait. No. I’m the one who has that horrible voice and feeling and intruding asshole with a name. But she’s already famous, has an audience, and was the creative one: she named her depression, my therapist (who I will refer to as Eileen) named mine:

. . .  at one point in my life, my own depression had felt so present, so much like a character in my life, that it had actually felt right to give her a name. I named my depression Frances because she moved in with me around the same time as the birth of Frances Bean, the daughter of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. But I picture my Frances as Courtney Love herself: emaciated in her torn vintage nightgown and smeared lipstick. (86)

So I don’t know who the hell Courtney Love is/was. Never heard of Frances Bean. But really? Was Nadia Bolz-Weber listening in on Eileen and me in 2014? Accidental Saints wasn’t out for my therapist to steal such brilliance, so, obviously, this Bolz-Weber lady is the one guilty of plagiarism.

My depression is named Heloise. Eileen highly dislikes that name. Emaciated or overweight, I don’t recall, but Heloise is not a pretty picture: she blows cigarette smoke over the fence into your face, she has curlers in her hair, she’s that pissy neighbor you can’t help but guiltily wonder when she will move out or die. But she has been around for-fucking-ever. She’s up in your business reminding you how stupid and useless you are, how you’re wasting oxygen by being alive. She sometimes even makes you cry, which really pisses you off. Despite her appearance of being untrustworthy and snake-like, you believe her. Every word. Her voice carries across your yard and around your home, screeching into your ears, so you go inside. Lock yourself away. Just to find that her voice echoes around your head like an arcade ball.

Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Frances has an issue with Wellbutrin: “She’s a bit of a dope fiend, Frances, but it ends up there is one drug that she doesn’t like. It’s called Wellbutrin. Two weeks after my therapist prescribed it, the bitch was gone.” That is not fair. “But not for good.” That’s better.

Heloise doesn’t like a lot of things: Lamictal, Abilify, Lithium, Prozac, and Adderall. All mixed together. Yet I still live in fear of her. She has a cousin (I think they’re married, perves), the kind that elicits hypomania. Name? I haven’t gotten that far. Alex, maybe. Just like the little bastards that tortured me all sixth grade. If she can’t get to me, her cousin will. They’re always plotting and manufacturing manners in which to outsmart my pharmacy.

They are why I’m supposed to wear a life jacket. According to Eileen. Put on that goddamn life jacket—ie surround yourself with friends and family who will support you when (not if, but when) those bastards come around, knocking you down like a sleeper wave and pulling you out in a riptide.

In the face of Heloise and Alex, all I can do is make sure my life jacket is fastened and that I get my pants on. I know, I know, what the fuck? Pants? Yeah. It’s totally awkward to run around with no pants. So. One step at a time. Put your pants on.

That is what Eileen taught me before we went our separate ways: how to swear, to be aware of Heloise and company, to wear my life jacket—no matter how annoying it is, and to put on my goddamn pants. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Speak Truth in Love (Or Hate)


I hate you, God.
Love, Madeleine.
. . .
I love you, Madeleine.
Hate, God.
Madeleine L’Engle “Love Letter”

What a gift, to not be alone in the hatred realm.

People, all people, get angry with/at God. Even the least angry, most loving, graceful, forgiving, cute people get angry. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

But hate? Hate is a nasty word.

Hate is thick, viscous, final. It is a hand up as if to say “stop” “Go no further.” Anger chases, hunts, speeds. Hate walks away, finished. Instead of spitting “fuck you,” it sighs, “fuck it.”

I love Madeleine L’Engle’s lines because they reflect what I have felt and what has provoked my hatred, rather than preach away the validity of the situation.

Love, Madeleine.

The love, amidst hate, is for me a sarcastic, four-letter word. “Speak truth in love.” It’s truth, alright. And to write the word love is as much kindness as I can muster, albeit a snorted “love.”

Hate, God.

Yes. Yes. God loves us so well that s/he too walks away. “God is always with us, even when we ignore Him.” Oh horse shit. God says “I love you,” as she is wont to do, and then mirrors my maturity: walks away, palm turned towards me in a perpetual stop sign.

God invented sarcasm and irony.

I love you, Madeleine.
Hate, God.

I love you too. I love you too.
Hate, Me.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I was Crazy Once


“Crazy?
I was crazy once.
They locked me up,
in a rubber room.
It was cold,
I died,
they barried me.
Worms ate my brains!
Worms?!
Worms drive me crazy!
Crazy?
I was crazy once . . .”

We thought that song was funny as hell when we were kids.

“They locked me up.”
Why didn’t that scare me?

“In a rubber room.”
How awfully real for some.

“It was cold.”
Yes, loneliness is cold. Treatment by society is cold.

I don’t believe my hypomania will ever lock me up. My depression? Sure.

Cliché of the day: mental illness is not a joke.
How is a truth so, well, true, and ignored, cliché?

Don’t call the people downtown crazy. Eccentric? Some. Mentally ill? Many. Self-medicating? More. If they are crazy, I am crazy. Don’t call me crazy. Don’t lock me up. Don’t let me get cold: cold to the world—hardened; cold by the world—in loneliness.

And yet, we are locked up, us “crazies.” Locked in the rubber room of medications, locked into dulled senses: amphetamines, lithium, marijuana, anything for the better—protection—or for the worse—head-banging dependence on a temporary fix; even rubber hurts.

And we become cold: mania spins us into warmth. Medications kill the movement. Society moves away: the warmth of wanted and unwanted company is lost. No one wants crazy.

And we die. A little at a time. The spinning of mania, the numbness of medication, the weight of depression—they kill: spirit and body.

And in our live death the worms of true crazy, of incorrigible crossed wires in our brain-space, we atrophy.

And you call us crazy. We are too tired and dizzy to fight it. Past runs into present. Sure. I was crazy once. I was crazy.