Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ren and Gimpy's Coming Out: An advocacy for schizophrenia learns to speak.

For Mervyn, Gail, Stacey, Luke and Helen

In memory of my grandfather, Reyn Higham

In an earlier essay, I wrote about what it was like for me when I was younger to suffer from anxiety and depression.  What I did not mention was that my grandfather died in a place called Wolston Park.  He was taken there when he was in his mid forties.  I am now thirty seven, so of course I worry about that.  About whether that will be the final story that God (yes, I still believe in God, sometimes I have to)writes for me.  Of course, since my grandfather's time medicine and treatment options have hopefully improved somewhat and I might live a relatively long and happy life.  We can all hope, can't we?  What I also didn't mention was that the younger me shared my grandfather's diagnosis.  I am a schizophrenic- according to my profession of psychology.  I prefer to just say, "I AM" and leave it at that.  I am me, that I do know.  But let's talk about words and language for a minute.  That's a pretty harsh word.  It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue very easily.  "Hi, my name's Garant.  I'm a schizophrenic."  Can you imagine saying that?  How difficult it would be? There's something in the word itself which feels ugly. The word tastes in my mouth the way broken glass would feel on bare .  SKZFRNC.  Ugh, that tastes great.  I honestly think they need to change the word, even if they can't change the diagnosis or the condition. "A little mad beautiful lover of truth":  that's how I see myself.  And I tell you, it's not that much fun being a little kooky in a world gone as mad as this one.  You don't have to see things the way I do, but there's certainly room for a few improvements. 

I have something else written down too, but before I go on, just let me mention a couple of heroes.  John Nash, David Helfgott, Mark Vonnegut.  These are names that mean something to me.  Aspergers, which has not been diagnosed properly in my case, but who knows, maybe I do, maybe I don't. has a lot of heroes already.  My favorite is a woman called Temper Grendlin or something.  I could get up and check, but the books across the room.  I haven't read hers but I have read "For the Love of a Dog" about human and canine emotion, by Patricia McConnell.  See, that's a gift.  I bet ylou can't do that.  Rattle off names and titles just off the top of your head when you need something to help you out.  You have to sort through that really slowly, carefully, its always on the tip of your tongue.  Me, John, David, Mark, rainbows that was Mark Vonneguts book, he joined a commune, those communes didn't work, he was doing carpentry, went a bit crazy, met Kerouac, had a difficult reltionship with his dad, Vonnegut, two people ain't enough, jokey letter of divorce in Palm Sunday, writing is like building a house.  I can remember stuff like that. 

Here are a couple of more names: Beagle, Darwin, Jeremy Button, Robert Fitzroy, captain, manic depressive, hero, this thing of darkness, cancer, harry, thompson, bbc, booker, long, The best book never to win the Mann Booker Prize is a book by a man called Harry Thompson, who died of cancer at a young age.  Although, Harry only wrote one novel, he also wrote a biography of Herge that I would love to read, and a cool book about penguins and cricket.  He worked for the BBC Channel 4, I believe. 

Where's my shame in any of that? I don't have any, I have fear, I have stress, I have pain, I have not a lot of anger, and I don't have a lot of shame, about SKZFRNC stuff.

I was born to write.  My family has a lot of gifts.  My brother studied Green Chemistry.  I think he could have made important contributions to the world, to everyone.  I know that's true..  He can still help out a bit, even though he's not that young anymore.  He is a kind, funny, generous, loving man.  He is better at cricket than I am.  A bit overweight, but a pretty good dad.

I have a letter to write later, a couple.  That's what you do when it's hard to be still.  It really is.  Allright I went a bit all tangential there for awhile.  That's okay.  I'm back again, Ren and Gimpy.  Ren (actually Reynold) was my grandfather's name and Gimpy is me I guess.  He drives me crazy, sometimes.  Just a little bit.  And when I need someone to lean on, he's there inside of me, but sometimes he's not a lot of help.  Before anyone does anything stupid like re-diagnosing me, again, let me say I think its pointless. NO, I don't have MPD, not unless you were to induce it through poor hypnotherapy.  That's what I think.  Sorry I don't believe in some things.  I studied Loftus and memory and things like this a long time ago, one researcher was trying to explain the Salem witch trials and its pertinence to all of the crazy kooky stuff about hidden satanic cults and ritual satanic abuse and this nonsense.  That's my opinion.  I'm sorry.  You don't have to read everything I write.  Yoiu don't have to agre,e, you don't have to tell other people what I said.  I would like to protect people from harm, by being very careful the way you approach things.  If I say someone is doing somethinmg which has the POTENTIAL to do harm, and can show you books and research and sarticles, show you people, that would say the same, you should stop and listen.

Anyway, when I was first diagnosed, I neither understood nor agreed.  I still don't, maybe.  Almost every affliction is part of us, all of us, all of these strange things are part of the human condition, or life's conditions I guess. 

For example, there must be schizophrenic mice out there.  Mice that have been afflicted with schizophrenia, mice that have been placed in the exact circumstances and conditions where schizophrenia, or what we call it naturally arises. 

I don't believe in diagnoses and labels.  I just don't.  Oh, you poor terrible thing.  You must be in such terrible pain.  I will do this and I think it is good, I want a little more of it, but please don’t patronise me unless you want to give me a dollar, bro.  That's about it.  I don't need a pity party.  I'm coming out like Harvey Milk (sorry, guys, doesn't mean I'm gay.  It just means I have respect for that man.  Sure he was a little effeminate.  But he was STRONG, he didn't need anyone's pity either.  Other people can believe what they want, but I believe in Harvey's right to believe and to see himself the way he wanted to.  He was proud to be gay.  I believe in the bible, but I believe in the good parts.

I used to know some schizophrenics.  I did.  This is well after my hospitalisation at the age of 20.  I was only there for about six weeks.  Haven't been taking a lot of medication since, but maybe I need to.  I'm taking it now.  And I believe in the gospels.  I used to know some schizophrenics, way back in the day.  I used to befreind them. Some of those guys were crazier than me.  (Now, I want tobe careful what I say right about now but I need to say it anyway.  I am not against Jewish people, so I don't want them to get me wrong.  I have a few heroes who were from Europe.  I think of Primo Levi, and I have books on Jewish meditation by a guy called Arthur Green and Jewish Meditation by a man named A.  Kaplan.)  Just, one guy I knew had torn out all of the gospels because he was bent on destroying things, he justt wanted to be some kind of angel of death and destruction.  I don't believe that's the way to read the text.  If I asked I Asimov or A Einstein they'd say the same.  So I don't believe in that interpretation of things.  I also have some heroes who are not like them.  They believe in the Gospels too, but they don't like gay people, I guess they love them, but they think they have to stop doing whatever they are doing, or be converted to a different set of rules and beliefs.  I agree with Yancey, just sometimes let people alone.  I know he tries to convert people, I believe God is in everything, in every religion.  I agree with T Hopko.  He's the closest thing I have to theology that I agree with and also Metroploitan K Ware.  Except on some issues. My beliefs are weird and unique and mine.  Other people can do whatever they want.  I don't really care, just if you KNOW you will hurt someone through your actions, you should stop and have a deeper look.  So my gay brothers and sisters can just keep on doing whatever they want.  I have no opinion.  I would rather people were just kind and loving and brave and to refrain from causing harm.  If not, that's not my business.  I am only one person with one life.  That's the one I have to live.

You guys have seen the excerpt up until now.  Here is the flood of words of which I am capable, a flood, dams can't stop.  But I can.  I will not say anything that looks like it will harm another human being.  I will offend prejudice, but I don't want to offend other people.  You know how they say  we have one mouth and two ears, we should learn to listen.  Well, I completely agree that we should do those things MUCH more often in person.  What they don't say is I have ten fingers.  So I need to write.  But I only know how to use two of them.  Perhaps its for the best. 

I believe more in spectrums.  Like the colour spectrum we all experience a range of different emotions.  Each colour can be used to signify a different emotion.  We already know this from New Agey stuff like chakras and crystals, neither of which I believe in that much.  I do believe in colors though, and its healing properties.  There are reds and yellows and blues.  These are our primary colours.  Mix them up a bit and you get beautiful things like greens and oranges.  You don't get a lot of chicken but you get some pretty cool stuff. 

We use these to describe temperament too.  I think I am kind of bipolar, but not in terms of moods but in trerms of emotions.  I think I am fundamentally blue, like autistic people, and also red, a bundle of fiery energy like schizophrenics, but I have my yellow days of normalcy, or at least I used to, altogether I'm pretty green, a little quiet, and introverted but capable of learning lots of pretty neat tricks.  My dog Sera is as yellow as the sun in his truest form, with a little bit of green thrown in  if that makes sense.  Right about now some people will be thinking wow, he's some kind of savant with synthasia or whatever its called.  I think logically I might be, not visually.  That's why I wrote earlier I was into concrete logic.  To be honest, I don't believe in labels at all.  And I don't have the aorementioned whatsover, I am using a METAPHOR based upon reading a book called What Color Is your Dog which is about Canine temperament and its importance in training.  I don't even know what colour Seraph is.  I think he's apricot because that's what they call it. 

In my earlier post, I wrote about what it was like to learn to read again as a young man who had emerged from a chrysallis like a butterfly from a coccoon.  I escaped from the blackest tunnels of darkness and despair to find not just light at the end of the tunnel but a whole world full of colors of all shapes and sizes.  Now, I know that last sentence doesn't make sense liogically, but here's something metaphorical for you.  How high is brown, how high is green, how high is yellow, how high is white, what color are clouds, what shape are they, how many are there, where do they go when they go away.  How high is yellow, what shape is it, how far away is it, how big is it.  It's all a matter of perspective.  Why does black become blue, why is it vaster than white.  These are children's philosophical questions, but if evolutioon is true, which of course it is as far as I can tell, I mean the theory is still being worked out and it cn't explain everything but it does have a lot of explanatory power.  One of the things it helps us understand is why natural colors have, I think anyway, healing properties.  Its why so few people say their favorite color is grey.  Have you evrr heard anyone say that?

So after emerging from depression/ anxietyI discovered meditation.  It was pretty interesting.  Music: I used to love the be at els; that's what I used to call them.  BeatlesRed and Blue were my first tapes.  I also discovered a world of books.  The first book I ever read after hospitalisation was about John Lennonby Ray Coleman.  714 pages, I think.  A bit of a door stopper.  and it felt like it contained all of life in it.  Well not all of it, but all of that man's life.  And then it just came from there.  So that' who I am, it's not what I am, and that's a taste of my life story I wrote it this morning at 5*30, in a notebook, with a pen and I wrote an 8 page letter, double spaced, by hand about my brother.  And a bit more stuff. And I started typing, didn't know when to stop.  But that's part of the secret.  Knowing when to stop. stop. stop. dot. dot. dot.          Leave a bit of space and...  I don't know, you tell me.  I'm the crazy one.

1 comment:

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