first in a series of series of declared series

I am so frustrated I could file a class action lawsuit! If, you know, I had a lawyer. And money to pay them if they did not want to do all this work for free because I have a hunch the system is rigged and besides I am the most unreliable witness alive.

Ok maybe not the most unreliable. But my credibility and my credit are both shot. Probably it is no coincidence that they would go down together but if I start drawing connections too sharply I am going to look like I am psychotic or something and that would just–

well, underscore the “with psychotic features” portion of my vast collection of diagnoses. Which diagnoses will come up again if I get that far before I die but I am not sure how far I will even get before the coffee wears off or my eyes start aching so badly that I must stop typing and stare at my feet for the rest of the evening.

Personal responsibility. I have a lot of thoughts about that. Of course in late capitalism the persons saddled with personal responsibility are not those persons the Supreme Court saw fit to fashion out of the inherently lopsided autocracies that are corporations. They can do whatever they want; the invisible hand will guide and protect them in its boundless mercy for profit seekers.

The rest of us though. No such protection.

Still I can fantasize that everyone who espouses personal responsibility would actually be happy to take some on themselves and prove to the rest of us that they do believe this responsibility applies to everyone, not just to those other people who are not able to meet the free-market definition of worthiness.

I had the idea today to go out into the world. Because lately I have not been doing a whole lot of that because when I do what often happens is quite a lot like what happened today. I took my camera; I sort of made a new Gregorian calendar year resolution to go take pictures on my block at least once a week for the rest of the year and to try to see things that I have already seen a million times at least differently enough to take interesting pictures. Part of the resolution included posting them, somewhere, for anyone out there to look at. I hope to be able to get to that in between what may be called dystonic storms if what is going on with me is what I think is going on with me.

Really I think this was just an idea I had around the first of the year and I figured well this is a punctual moment so why not start and call it (one of) my project(s) for the year.

Looking up at an old building with columns and wrought iron faux balconies on the boarded-up windows

Today I took pictures of an old building that I am quite certain will soon lose its beautiful crumbling facade when someone buys it and decides that restoring said facade would cut into profits too much and instead they replace the facade with a facile quote of said facade. Because this has already happened to the two buildings adjacent to this one that were built in similar styles some time ago when architectural flourishes were not seen as excessive or if they were seen as excessive then it was still worth the time and money to carry them out in order to simply be excessive.

The point of my field trip was not necessarily the photography although I was aware this might be the only thing I was able to accomplish if I did accomplish anything at all. My general plan was to walk somewhere where there was a place to sit and then to sit there and maybe write a little bit about one or two of the million things that have occurred to me in the last couple of years and then gotten lost in the ceaseless clatter that is my central nervous system looking for itself or America or some other nostalgia-ridden peaceful ideal and that also makes starting andor continuing to write or think on any of these things into a challenge of modestly exhausting proportions.

I got as far as the parklet outside of a cafe over on Valencia just south of 22nd Street. I had thought maybe to try for the library at 24th Street but my back did not like all the standing still I had done while using my camera so I stopped here. I even got some coffee although I could not really afford it because why not go all out?

So I took my coffee to a parklet table and got myself seated which is itself an involved affair for reasons I do not fully understand except that it might have something to do with how I hang half of the things I think I might need from my bag and so they often get tangled up in each other and me and the dozen or so wallet chains I decorate myself wtih besides. Plus today a camera on a strap around my neck and you would think that carrying a bag would make organization easier instead of harder but no. It gets even worse if I put things in or on a backpack with carabiners and velcro and paracord. Backpacks are made to keep things out of reach until you Get There but I usually need things enroute and I should probably just get a toolbelt or something similar that could hold lots of things without using up my hands and neck.

Eventually though I was seated with my iDevice out and my coffee in front of me and I opened a note-taking app all ready to start. And then I realized that my eyes, neck, and head were all throbbing. At slightly different frequencies and also and this has been going on for a while but I do not notice that much here in my house because I guess I do not look down much at home if I look down that is if I bend my neck rather than, say, my waist in order to see something below my current horizon line then my head starts to ache or in this case ache worse. My neck muscles apparently do not like to be stretched that way because the ache starts in the back on one or both sides of my cervical spine and apreads from there to my temple(s) and forehead(s–oh wait. I only have one of those!).

This can be annoying when trying to use an iDevice without holding it up so that I can look directly ahead at it. Holding the iDevice up in that way makes my shoulder muscles angry if I do it for too long especially if the reason I am doing it is because the muscles in my face are angry because they will just spread the love on down to whatever part of me tries to do anything but remain still and as relaxed as possible which often is not at all possible but you have to try anyway if you want to be able to do anything at all the rest of the day.

My nose was twitching. Not so that anyone could see it but some nerve in my right-nostril-flaring muscle(s?) was unhappy or alarmed or something and so sending a repeated signal to a tiny bit of that muscle to contract and then shiver at about 70Hz or so for half a second. A half second of rest and then another signal. You might say it was on a 70Hz over 2Hz sort of signal. Or the other way around.

I don’t know which.

But most of the muscles in my face twitch for short periods at about 70Hz and in the night when it is quiet I can hear them, you know, from the inside, through whatever bone is between the muscle and my inner ear. Because my jaw is trying to shut itself with great emphasis much of the time and with varying amounts of force fueling that emphasis, I can only tell if it is relaxed if I stop hearing it strain against itself. Sometimes this means my jaw can be fully slack, but it usually finds rest somewhere between clenched tight and teeth not quite touching. A point of homeostasis between warring muscle groups, always at a slightly different length of the arc that defines the full range through which my chin can move all by itself. “Slack” jaw for me actually requires continuous muscular effort against the contractive forces almost always exercising themselves. And this generates that same hum slightly higher in pitch than the familiar sixty cycles of AC power. Or wherever those sixty cycles come from. Wall socket I am pretty sure but don’t quote me on that.

My eyes do not hum. They just ache if I try to swivel them upwards or sideways. You know, in their sockets. Not moving my head. Not all the time but if my nose or cheek or eyebrow are twitching it is usually the case that my eyes are not wanting to do any work at all other than the heavy-lidded unfocused meditation gaze at forty-five degrees of nothing. And so that is what I let them do even if I am not formally meditating right that minute. In fact this whole symphony of muscular restlessness will sometimes relent of I meditate on the spot. Or at least I can keep it toned down a little for as long as I look down with my eyes half-closed and my neck absolutely straight or even bent back slightly. If I wait long enough I can say I was meditating even if I was just waiting for the storm to pass and trying to think calm relaxing thoughts to help it on its way as well as to retain my own composure for another few minutes.

Klonopin can help a bit too, so I took a quarter of one and washed it down with my coffee so as to maybe counteract its sleepier-making effects. Oh and also water. Especially if I have eaten recently, half to a full liter of water can hurry my face along towards placidity. Of course then I will be hurrying myself along to the restroom soon enough but I know where all the good ones are in my neighborhood plus if all else fails I can just use the one in my therapist’s waiting room I mean hallway.

And so once the Klonopin and water and coffee were administered I sat somewhat Buddha like in the parklet chair with my head facing forward and my eyes down. People walked past with great commotion of noise and light. They say that the eye thing–if dystonia is the cause or rather the effect become a cause of the twitches and contractions–is a slow spasm of the eyelid muscles, but that does not explain at all why sound becomes all clanky loud and light all knife-edged bright while I cannot look at anything that requires eye muscle movement of any kind not just lid-raising.

In any case. I managed to type two paragraphs into my iDevice eventually but that was all my body would let me do, so I got up and walked home after getting my bag and my jacket and my camera all tied on in the right places. I rifled through the things I keep in my head to write for the one that would be a useful tangent for the story I keep saying that I want to write which is my own story of which there are thousands if not tens of thousands or more and it hit me: fucking class-action lawsuit! The mess I have been in the last several however manies is one that others share and not one of us chose to place outselves here.

But against whom? I start to make a list:

Jack Chick, most definitely, or whatever he left of his little evangelistic comic empire.

The Southern Baptist Convention?

How far back into the multiple, ramified chains of events would one want to reach?

I think the statute of limitations has passed to try to find the dude who raped me.

Not my brother. I know where he is.

The other dude.

How about a class-action lawsuit against the whole of compulsory anatomically essentialist heteronormativity? Who precisely is responsible for that?

Billy Graham Industries or LLC or Incorporated or however his offspring continue to make money by threatening the masses with the Lake of Fire. Oh, sorry. This one belongs up there with Jack Chick. I would not say the Grahams are completely to blame for the heteroassumptions into which they were all born.

I am refraining from naming what might be the most obvious entity to sue if the symptoms that started as soon as I stopped taking Zyprexa and continue to this day are actually somehow even in the most tortuous of ways connected the drug itself or its method of discontinuation. I will just leave this here though.

OK this was going to be a short intro? And I was going to write the story of why Jack Chick is the first culpable party that sprang to mind upon imagining financial compensation for chronic daily annoyance? But probably I have lost most of my audience already so I will try that a little later with some luck and Klonopin and water oh and lots of just. breathing.

 

 

look. a post. or as they say on myspace: a blog! a blog within a blog: not opening day

I was going to re-open my blog with some sort of heralding post that announced the re-opening of my blog etc and how I had no idea what I was going to make it “about” so I’ve decided not to make it about anything in particular but to be perhaps more rantish or more linear or more of a certain “je ne sais précisément quoi.” I may still do that. But today I’m going to start with a kind of Pre-Grand Opening Sale because I learned very very recently that today is Blogging Against Disablism Day.

I was supposed to work today. I will work tomorrow I am fairly sure. Today I battled uncontrollable anxiety from shortly after I awoke at 6:30am until I finally took an anxiolytic and fell asleep at 2:30 until 6pm. I lost a day of work which, because I work as a private contractor, I don’t get any kind of compensation for. Today was a Lost Day.

I’ve lived through thousands of Lost Days. No one knows I’m disabled except for my closest friends, and some of them do not even comprehend how it is that a disability that is “all in your head” can possibly have the material effect of robbing me of my ability to act, unless of course I am being lazy or irresponsible and “letting it” have an impact on me. Those who think that way tend not to be friends for a very long time, as it will become clear to anyone who knows me that I am a vehement apologist for the “lazy” and “irresponsible” who “let” things like mental illness or social disability–as well as cultural degradation and social erasure, which might be said to be non-material disturbances on a collective level–get in the way of a “successful life.” I mean, whatever that is. Read me for long and you will get the distinct impression that I do not have an orthodox opinion of “success,” either.

Of course, it is a feature of my mental illness that I do not believe in many of the same paradigms that ordinary Americans believe in, because I have seen firsthand how they assume the everyone is equally endowed with personal, familial and cultural faculties to pursue their dreams uninhibited. And so I find myself in a curious relationship with psychiatry itself even as I realize that I am at least “differently abled” in a way that might be labeled “psychiatric,” if only because that word conveys pretty much what I mean it to convey: that getting out of bed and having a day to do as you wish or as you are obligated is not something that I can count on and yet the conditions (My many diagnoses. Let me show you them.) that occasionally dictate that I crouch in my chair all day or curl up in bed or simply sit here unable to move are not taken to be particularly “real” by a large segment of the culture I live in.

Psychiatry itself is to blame for this to a certain extent: it itself parades as a science even though there are very few empirical studies that establish “mental illness” as strictly analogous to physical illness and there is very little evidence to support most of its pet theories regarding neurotransmitters and psychological disturbances. And yet it continues to act as though it knows what it is “treating” and how, even though a cursory look at most entries in the Physician’s Desk Reference for psychiatric medications will reveal that in most cases, “it is not understood” how the medication actually works, although it is usually “assumed to be related to” the given pharmaceutical’s effects on the availability of one or more of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Nevermind that there are more than one hundred neurotransmitters in the human central nervous system [Source: Hyman, Steven: “Neurobiology: On Neurotransmitters” Science Week, http://scienceweek.com/2005/sw050429-2.htm, 1 May 2008.]. Psychiatry pays attention almost exclusively to The Big Three.

But I’m not writing this in order to critique psychiatry as a science. Mainly I decided to “blog against disablism” because I am one of millions who are “invisibly disabled” and that not only are we not obviously disabled, but our disability is such that we ourselves often internalize the rather Victorian notion that if we simply had enough guts, willpower, or something, that we could “get over it” and get on with life just like “everybody” else.

(Yes I use lots of scare quotes. I am endeavoring to use them less often, but unfortunately I find myself frequently in the position of using words that, I think, are widely understood in a way that is personally counterintuitive, so I can’t really get behind them 100%, as they say. So I “quote” them in order to make it clear that I am repeating ideas that have come to me from even further away than most of the rest of “my” ideas. If it gets annoying, someone will tell me. And I will ignore them, in all likelihood.)

To be sure, the particular “mental Illness” I have has killed a number of people in my family. The fact that the cause of death in all cases was suicide might lead some to postulate that it was not the mental illness which caused their deaths at all, but rather some sort of character weakness, selfishness, or a the very least an inability to overcome phantoms of pain rather than real, palpable pain. Of course, it is rarely noted by those who would argue thus that any inability that leads to such an unthinkable decision as suicide must be quite powerful, given their own sense of the urgent need to sustain oneself in the face of whatever calamity. It is not as though there are a bunch of us who sit around trying to think of ways to die for the fun of it, to get attention–though we might truly need it–or to otherwise manipulate death so that we somehow receive from it a Get Out of Jail Free card.

(I wonder, actually, why it makes so many people so angry that someone would want to kill themselves. Apart from being angry with a loved one who says a permanent good-bye in that way–people also get angry at loved ones who die for other reasons, and whether that is rational or not, it is a frequent component of grief–there seems to be a large group of people who are quite angry with the idea that anyone, anywhere would commit suicide. Is it fair to make of them an analogy with those who are so “happy” in their jobs that they widely and loudly resent anyone who does not work for a living? What is it about life and work that makes us think not only that they are compulsory, but that someone who escapes either is somehow cheating us, or the system, or getting something for nothing? Is death an unmerited freedom? I just wonder.)

Myself, I’ve not bothered even to try to apply for any kind of disability here in the US–even partial disabilty–because I have seen the hoops one has to jump through in order to have a non-physical ailment recognized at all, much less given any assistance for, and those hoops would intimidate many who have no particular impairment in social or economic functioning. I can’t even begin to want to subject myself to the humiliation of being denied once or more to “test” the authenticity of my claim (Everyone is denied the first time. Ask anybody who receives disability for a psychiatric disorder and you will see that they had to apply for it at least twice, if not three or four times).

As is fairly well known in the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 began to require that insurance companies cover certain psychological disorders “in parity” with their coverage of physical disorders. What is not coming to the attention of many, however, is that insurance companies (most notably Blue Cross, in my experience) are either finding loopholes or have gained the right to define parity diagnoses themselves, and the number and types of diagnoses that they cover at parity is dwindling by the month. For another post, or perhaps for your homework, some research into the legal machinations allowing them to do this would be a very good thing.

Right now, I think I have to find a point for writing all of this. Well, my point is simply this: physical pain and psychological pain are not all that different. They are both “soul-destroying” and they are both vividly real. Of course, pain management in the US is a completely other can of testerical Drug War worms, to the point that those suffering physical pain are often “demoted” in the eyes of the medical establishment to patients whose pain is “all in their heads”–another betrayal, this time by medical professionals themselves, of the culturally entrenched belief that psychologically-mediated pain is somehow less real, easier to bear, and not worthy of serious treatment.

In the end, I wind up as I often do: extremely suspicious of an American Individualism that assumes unlimited agency for the human subject. Science itself is at odds with this particular assumption, to the extent that physiology and environment are beginning to be seen as intimately interacting with each other. It seems that “choice” may be an accident of fate, and that unlimited personal agency is at best a frequent illusion and at worst an enslaving, paradoxically dehumanizing myth, demanding that we ignore the very real limitations of our own physiology and psychology and instead relentlessly pursue profit at the expense of anyone who cannot keep up.

I think that it is time to recognize the vast variability of human experience and to create a society unafraid of generosity and compassion, as the US so often seems to be. I’m not the first to come to the conclusion that life itself is, by definition and situation, synonymous with suffering, and I won’t be the last, but I find it necessary to point it out every chance I get. Because one day, it will come for you too.