Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Lunatics and God...

For those of you who may be new to this blog, there's a specific reason why it's called The Lunatic's Asylum. This will be pretty long, but bear with me; I promise, there is a point.

Thanks to nineteen Islamonazis with a death wish and an inability to get laid, I found myself under the nose of a hijacked airliner as it was deliberately slammed into One World Trade Center. Soon after, my life and behavior began to change in ways which, at first, were not very noticeable, but which eventually transformed me in ways I would never have thought possible.
With the mental scars came the mental issues: Post-traumatic stress disorder, Anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Clinical Depression, Agoraphobia.

Any of these on their own can be a terrible burden on anyone. To acquire them all at once can be overwhelming. Every day was a struggle to simply "hold on", as every waking moment seemed as if were to be the last. I walked a precipice all the time; I was in sheer terror every minute of every day, for no reason that could I could discern. I was hyper-alert at all times. Sleeping was a problem, and I could often go three or four days without sleep, until sheer exhaustion brought unconsciousness. Eventually, the pains began. A constant, dull ache in the center of your chest that grows worse or better depending on your ability to ignore it. Multiple visits to the Emergency Room, one of which resulted in Five Days on the Cardiac Ward, and no one could find a physical problem. I soon began to seek solitude. The smaller and darker the refuge, the better it was. Black curtains went up on every window in the house, and when a blacked-out living room or bedroom became too big and uncomfortable, I started looking for smaller and more-enclosed places in which to hide; bathrooms, closets. I could spend hours in them, always in the dark.

I would just call in sick for work. Sometimes, I might take an entire week off. I'd make up any excuse I could, and this inability to do what was needed to earn a living depressed me to no end: I couldn't work. I wanted to -- but I just couldn't leave the house; it was too dangerous out there, it made me too uncomfortable, I would get to the corner, and turn right around and run back. Leaving the house involved a complex ritual; I would place folded up index cards in my pockets and shoes, with my name, address and contact information on them -- just in case something happened to me and they only found my body parts -- at least they'd know who they used to belong to and next of kin. Then I started carrying my medical records in my briefcase -- just in case I wasn't dismembered but injured badly enough so as not to be able to speak. I had to plan my travel in such a way so that wherever I went, I would never be more than 10-15 minutes from a hospital. I would always avoid bridges and crowded places like train terminals or bus stations, if I could. It made going anywhere incredibly difficult -- I would be super late for everything, and if I couldn't adjust the route to fit all that criteria, I just wouldn't go.

It became too obvious to deny anymore, and I sought treatment. Treatment, unfortunately, came with a lot of drugs. And, Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! you often have to experiment with drugs, combinations of drugs and levels of dosage before you find a regimen that works for you. Which is always a lot of fun; especially when you pop a pill and five minutes later are literally bouncing off the walls with sheer manic energy for the next 24 hours, and to counteract, you get a really nifty tranquilizer which makes you nauseous, and they have to yank that away because you might puke in your sleep and choke to death. I went through four or five meds in combo, keeping some, chucking others, before we found the two that 'worked' for me (i.e. either knocked me out so I would sleep for 18-20 hours a day, or was capable of making me forget the pain and fear for an hour or two after I took it).

Eventually, I wouldn't even leave my own house...for anything. I pretty much didn't for the better part of three years. Three years in a darkened house, sometimes in a closet, always in the dark, I would only venture outside for food and cigarettes and to keep medical appointments, dodging from tree to tree, and trying to avoid being seen, as if I were a soldier in some kind of house-house fight. There was the one time when I took a really bold leap and decided that staying in New York City -- with all of it's reminders of 9/11 -- was a living Hell; I drugged myself up (lots of Zoloft, lots of Xanax, and lots and lots of Absolut) and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I needed to leave the Big Apple, my birthplace, the place where all my friends and family were, something fierce. I felt I would have died if I hadn't.

It didn't work out the way I had planned it, mostly because I wasn't a well man. I probably did more damage to myself, but that's par for the course with some of these issues; you hit absolute rock-bottom, often painfully. You know what you're doing, you know what not to do, but you can't stop yourself. Things got awfully bad: I was even homeless for a spell, and the only thing left to do was to come back to New York. My family had never understood what was happening to me(that's fairly a common phenomenon), and was never much of a support (but that's my problem) -- but they were all I had left.

And then I vegetated for another couple of years.

In the meantime, my career was ruined. Even if I could get over the mental issues, I had been out of work for a couple of years, and in an industry where currency is everything, that's not good. Also, technology has advanced, and there was a reduced need for manpower. What jobs were left in the field were being shipped overseas, or being moved to godawful places like North Dakota and Delaware. It didn't help that I was brutally honest about why I had been out of work for so long; see how many second interviews you get when you tell people you've been treated for a mental illness. The insurance money ran out, and then my money ran out, and I owe everyone on the planet, it seems. I'll probably never get out from under my debts. I can forget paying for more schooling to get those "qualifications" everyone wants. I'm chronically unemployed, and the jobs that I do find never last for very long; I either get frustrated and quit because it isn't what I want to do, or I find something I want to do, but they don't need me permanently. Full-time employment is almost impossible to get: I could do most any job I set my mind to do, but nowadays people want qualifications up the ying-yang, which is not so much a way to get the best qualified people as much as it is to discourage minorities from interviewing for jobs they aren't going to get in the first place and then filing discrimination lawsuits when they don't get them.

It's a constant battle, trying to sort yourself out when you're laboring with these sorts of problems. But, I've been working on them for years now, one thing at a time. I started on the PTSD and Anxiety first; haven't had a panic attack or a nightmare involving airliners and flaming cityscapes for a good long while now. Then the Agoraphobia -- started getting out more, walking, playing with my nephews, eventually, getting up the nerve to get on public transportation or cross bridges again. The OCD? Getting somewhat better, and I don't carry a briefcase with medical records anymore, nor do I use hospitals as waypoints. I do, occasionally, need to "hide", but that's not a response to anxiety anymore; it's more a matter of comfort -- when I need to relax, I want to do it in solitude and quiet, and you could say "I've come out of the closet"...

Depression, however, is the killer. If there was ever anything you might wish to inflict on a blood enemy, someone you truly despised and detested and wanted to inflict the worst upon, then pray they get stricken with Depression. It is truly a paralyzer. It can often put a person in a state of complete and utter inertia. It saps the will, it breaks the spirit, it is perhaps the Worst Thing Ever Created. You, the person gradually disappear, one piece at a time falling into a pit of dark despair, a little more of you gone today, another tomorrow. And you can't stop it, even as you're totally aware it is happening. The really amazing -- and truly-frightening thing -- about it all, is that it's your own mind that does it all to you. The Human Mind is perhaps the most dangerous weapon in existence. You are under a constant assault from yourself. Your brain doesn't 'shut off', and you are compelled to relive the same traumas, the same mistakes, the same issues over and over again, and each time the process starts, you become even less of a person. It takes everything that is YOU and eats away at it like acid. You start to feel hollow, aimless, with no ambition, no apparent purpose. Some people fall in deep enough to kill themselves, some -- like the guy who crashed his pane into the IRS building this past week --decide to take others with them.

For me, it was matter of getting the right information,and figuring out what was happening to me. The physical symptoms, understanding the mechanisms and symptomology, learning what the disease was, what it did, and why it happens. I'm better now, much better, but the depression always comes back. It makes me angry, it makes me bitter, it makes me snarky and sarcastic.

And you get to read it. It's like another form of Tourette's Syndrome. Go back and look at some older posts, and you'll see the effects of mental illness, drinking, SSRI's and plain old CRAZY have had over the years.

Anyways, the battle against any of these things is never truly "won". You may be able to control your symptoms for a while, maybe even many years, but at some point in your life these things will return to haunt you again. They never go away. You will need to learn to live by different rules so that your issues don't consume you. Often, this means changes that are difficult and painful, and result in you losing some of the things, activities and people that meant something to you.

You just have to be able to throw things away. You have to be able to say "No, I don't want to keep this, it's not worth having", because if you don't, you're dead. There is only one destination at the end of Depression and so you have to go out and do what must be done to see that doesn't happen -- confront the problem, solve the problem -- do whatever you need to do.

Recently, I have been extremely nasty on the subject of religion. It has upset some readers, who have found my comments extremely rude and demeaning. Those comments cannot be taken back, and they won't be; I still believe religion is a crock and has created more problems than it has ever solved, but I could have been a lot more careful and respectful in how I expressed my feelings on the subject (it's funny, however, how those who complained the most apparently had no problem when I was having a go at Islam -- it's only when I start talking about Other Invisible Man from the Desert that they all get their noses out of joint, but that's a post for another day).

So, I apologize to you Bible Thumpers, but NOT for what was said -- only for it's condescending and insulting tone. I will now confront my issues with religion, and hopefully I will overcome them, probably by ignoring them. I can promise you that it won't, as some have suggested, involve me getting washed in the blood of the lamb or me doing any praying. It'll be more in the vein of figuring out just why it is that I'm hostile to the very idea of faith. When I get the answer, I'll post it here, and another of my great internal battles -- the Question of "Does God exist, and if so, why is She such a Cast-Iron Bitch?" might finally be answered, and I will be one step closer to the goal of complete sanity.

Wait a minute, I think I have it! Maybe it was because faith is what motivated nineteen morons to do something so savage that it has ruined my life that has given me the idea that not only is faith dangerous, when placed in the hands of mouth-breathing morons, it's downright deadly.

You can keep your extremely-twisted explanations about "mysterious plans"and how even a "Loving God" can allow 3,000 murders (Hell, She allowed the Holocaust, didn't She? September 11th must have been Bush League to Her, right?), or how such a thoughtful and caring deity could even invent, and then inflict, things like PTSD and Clinical Depression on those It loves; that's pretty fucking sadistic. Maybe it could explain how my being deprived of my sanity, nine years of my life, my career, my fortune, my property, a lot of good women and good friends, is supposed to make me a better person or bringing some benefit to the world?

Perhaps having my brain chemistry possibly altered by ever-increasing dosages of drugs who's ultimate effects are complete mysteries to the doctors who prescribe them was all part of that Merciful God routine, too?

Your God doesn't exist -- there is no all-powerful, merciful, loving being. If there were this world would be quite a different place (spare me the Free Will routine!). If God exists, She is a capricious, vengeful, spiteful, disinterested, petty little beast. I could find far more proof for the existence of that sort of God than you can for the one you believe in. Either you're terribly mistaken about who and what God is or isn't, or you choose to ignore the evidence before your eyes.

I'll tone down the assault on your so-called faith when you finally have the courage to admit that faith doesn't necessarily save -- it far too often destroys.

Update: If there are readers out there who may be suffering from any of the disorders I've talked about here, and you need someone to help, or just listen to you, or maybe give you a little bit of hope and advice...I'm here for you. We're all-too-often dismissed as dangerous, or treated like lepers, and so if we don't help each other out, we're probably doomed, right? You can contact me at

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