From my in-progress book on mental illness …
Yes: I relapsed. I guess, just too much suffering, for too long, and it got to a point where I could no longer handle my situation, my mind, my life, my circumstances, my treatment for my mental illness at North Valley, my mental illness in general, etc.
I’m not happy saying this. I thought I had built a conceptual apparatus, a system of thought, that could keep me stabilized in a chaotic and dangerous world. I thought that I was stronger than hospitalization and even medication, and that I was hard like a diamond (Nietzsche …), and that my mind could make it. But, it seems that mental illness is a real thing, and while there may be no cure for the soul, there is a cure for, seemingly at least, biological anomalies.
It started simple enough. A series of events led to another series of events which led to another series of events: A cascade.
A dude wanted to sleep with me and do meth; what the hell? And I was taking part in activities I normally wouldn’t take part in. And I thought the city was being destroyed. This, come to find out, according to the doctors, was a mere delusion. But, all I saw that day, the day before I admitted myself, was destruction, chaos, torment, death: I kept getting bitten by mosquitoes, I saw flies, I saw no beautiful insects least of all animals, and I was sure that things were all going to hell, that it was the end of the world. (Of course this isn’t completely true in retrospect; I saw beautiful butterflies, but only sporadically, and they were in the wrong context …)
It started because I watched The Jungle Book, the live action one. Mowgli stands up to Shere Khan, the tiger that wants to kill Mowgli. He says, “I’m not afraid of you anymore!” And after enough crying and weeping from watching such a beautiful show, from wishing I could partake of the innocence depicted in the movie, of being around beautiful animals and being in a world of nature and being innocent like Mowgli, well … I wondered if maybe I wasn’t afraid anymore, if I could figure it out. If it was possible for me to confront my past, even though I had no plan. Could I not confront my past and be brave and figure out, just what was going on?
So, I left home. I left to go to the University of Utah. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, I just wanted to go. So, I went. I walked all the way up there, manic and psychotic, but determined to find an answer, hungry for truth.
But things didn’t go as well as I planned. It wasn’t long before I felt tired and needed a break. But what kind of break? I was sick of the mosquitos, I was sick of not seeing beauty. I passed a torched building that was once called, of all things, Sizzler. I should have enquired into the disaster, as I could have done by calling a number, for more information, but … well, I don’t know. Cognitive illusions? Where I persist in incorrect thought because I don’t challenge myself and my thinking and am not confronted by correct thought? Or has society really collapsed into a type of decadence that is destroying the very fabric of our world, not just mine, but the world in general?
A lot of strange things happened. I saw a fly at a Taco Bell getting waved away by an irritated worker. Fucking Marx: He was right: And what is it with this wage slavery, all this exploitation just for good, just to have our basic needs met? Just to eat at a stupid fucking place like Taco Bell? Why can’t my mind be strong enough? I want that question answered …
I saw suffering; I’m telling you, I saw destruction. But according to the psychiatrists, the city wasn’t being destroyed. But why can’t they see I was being symbolic, metaphorical? Something felt wrong. Is this feeling to be disputed by the scientific prowess of psychiatry? It would seem so. They always make internal somehow rather than external.
I honestly don’t know. It’s too hard to say, really, exactly what happened. I saw destroyed buildings and poverty, I saw … stuff. And now it seems so silly in retrospect. A cognitive illusion. Was I that wrong? Was I that incorrect with my inferences? Is it safe to say that the city was destroying me? The downtown vibe, as my friend Andrew described it … maybe? And I drank a Mountain Dew Voltage, because I was hungry but couldn’t bring myself to eat because I didn’t find good food.
Anyway, life went on. I walked up to the University of Utah. I looked up books on Skinner, B.F. Skinner, and kept in mind his ideas of rewards and punishments. I saw that he’d written a lot of things about biology and of course psychology, things I wasn’t aware of. Things I couldn’t have been aware of, because I don’t have the same kind of access to knowledge that a college student has. So I settled on reading his notebook, which was interesting, and fun. Because he talked a lot about mental images, I suppose, the presupposing power of mental images, images of the mind: They condition us, don’t they? Just like advertisement.
The library was a kind of death to me. The old books felt like dead knowledge. Would I ever be more than a worn out book?
Before all of this chaos at the library, I was asking Muse, the band, to tell me the Secret. Later on, in the library, I saw a book called Secrets. The narrative voice was gentle. As for whether or not it was a secret, it’s hard to say, but it felt like it was a secret. Normally this would sound delusional, but I thought, at the very least, it was a strange coincidence.
My internal world continued to devolve and collapse: Even Nietzsche wept.
I roamed around, told a guy that the Jains are the answer, because of their gentleness and the way that they make sense of things. The way they make sense of what exists and what doesn’t exist in an ahimsa metaphysics. So I wonder: Why was I letting the mosquitos bite me? It was causing me so much pain, itchiness? I let one bite me on my hand, just to let the process of life continue. Life. We are not better than the insects.
We are not better than a mere fly at Taco Bell.
After I hung around the library for a while, realizing I couldn’t concentrate enough to read, I got on Grindr and looked to see if they approved my photo of my pill bottle next to books on the law in Arizona (Phoenix …). This image was rejected. I have no idea why. It’s not explicit. Maybe too political? Well, whatever. What can you really say. And did I really want to hook up with a guy twice my age that I wasn’t attracted to, out of pity for him? It’s stupid what we think of when we aren’t thinking clearly. When we’re manic and idiotically impulsive. Love should be just a little bit more mutual. I have too much shit to figure out, and I would do well to figure out that shit. Figure it out before I end up doing crazy stuff in the future. Which I do not want to do. I just know I can’t be hyperrational and hyperlogical all the time. It’s too hard.
I want, and need, the catabasis.
I want, and need, the decline of the disease.
Things got worse when I went up to the School of Medicine at the University. In the meantime, I passed the children’s hospital, and saw an abandoned wrist band, presumably that of a kid. I felt real pain there. I didn’t have the details of the pain, but I wondered nonetheless, what that pain was. I wasn’t sure. I honestly wasn’t sure. I just felt that this kid had experienced a lot of hurt.
But I’d passed a children’s hospital, so of course there was a lot of pain. And I’ve confronted pain: My pain, and the pain of others. And I’ll tell you: It’s nearly destroyed me. I guess why I thought the city was destroyed, if you want to look at my psychosis metaphorically.
I went up to the university School of Medicine and that was intense. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was having pain in my genital areas, probably psychosomatic, and I saw images, tons of images, graphic images, of violence towards the body, of painful surgery. How the fuck do people become surgeons? How can they concentrate on the chiefly horrible fragility of the human body? The human body should be beautiful, and I wanted to see beauty, but seeing these graphic images evoked pain in me. The violence, the despair. The openness. Organs! So, I went to the bathroom and took a photo of my pill bottle on the shelf in front of the bathroom mirror and posted it on Grindr. Then a guy sent an innuendo suggesting he’d sleep with a hospital patient. Or so that was my understanding. I was so strung out I wasn’t sure.
I walked out of the bathroom, feeling okay, to a room where there were hospital beds. I thought this would be a comforting place, but the next thing I knew, I was experiencing an intense pain in my genital areas and groin/pelvis. Perhaps because as I was walking in the building I saw so many words I didn’t understand but that designated types of surgeries, and parts of the body: vasioctimy, maybe? I was frustrated I couldn’t talk my way out of this psychosomatic pain. It was the worst feeling in the world. The pain felt real. I was going to be operated on to no end, this was going to be my ultimate punishment, and I knew it. I knew it would happen, I had no choice. This was what I deserved for being a monist, a material agent, made of nothing but human flesh and blood. Bone. This was what I deserved. Never had I seen so much pain, God bless the doctors, certainly. And, of course, surgeons.
Traumatized, literally shaking with fear at my fate and at what people go through, I went outside slowly, gingerly, in pain. I was still feeling the psychosomatic pain. But I thought I’d walked in my White Death (a metaphor which meant I thought I’d faced my fears and seen what was awaiting me symbolically, perhaps literally, in the future of my life or even life after death, when I go to Hell). Where, everything feels electric. Where everything feels confusing and … just crazy. Crazy indeed. And more than crazy: Pure torment. Pure gnashing of teeth: Death.
I walked out of the hospital, not knowing where I was going. Saw a guy who asked me if there were shops around the campus. I didn’t fucking know because I’d just been traumatized by psychosomatic pain of a deep intensity and by graphic images I had no context for. So I spoke weird, and strange, strained, but, he seemed to have an idea that I’d be okay, and I told him he’d find the shops, good luck.
I went to a dormitory of some sort, saw a shirt that said, “Glory for guys.” I honestly thought this meant, glory that I experienced that pain because now gay life could become more prevalent. Because we understand things about the human body now. We understand things about pleasure because I saw things and experienced such intense pain.
I felt better walking around, but not quite better. There was still a lot of I was feeling. Still a lot I didn’t get. And had I really experienced the pain that I did?
I don’t know.
I just knew things were going to get a lot harder for me …