It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World—Never Mind, It’s Just Me

I didn’t want my next journal entry to be a rant, I really didn’t. Hell, I’m excited because I have some really cool entries lined up for the near future (i.e., I’ve been writing a lot and am eager to show off). 

I’m pissed because I am sick of reading people disrespecting psychology and psychiatry. The psycho-haters are an interesting and very diverse group. On one side, Tom Cruise and his fellow [tax-fraud, cult-like organization with a litigious history that is prompting me not to name them] rails about them, the religious right-wing suggests praying, and liberal potheads like Bill Maher (whom I strongly dislike because he is exactly the kind of latte-sipping, white-wine-sniffing, New York Times-reading, elitist snob who looks down his nose at the middle-class and makes it hard to sell progressive reform) claim that all doctors are out to get you. 

There are concerns, to be sure. I think some doctors are too quick to prescribe some of this medication, and I don’t think they have educated themselves enough about their side effects. In my humble, never-took-a-biology-class-past-tenth-grade opinion, if your patient is complaining about Prozac deadening his libido, the answer is not a prescription for Viagra. Yes, the FDA is a political organization that was, at one time, run by world-renowned agricultural biologist and chemist, Donald Rumsfeld, but it’s not all bad. 

However, the kneejerk, lefty claim about meds (Holier-than-thou doctors and big pharma want to control you and profit off your misery! OMG!) is too similar to the right-wing reaction to global warming and evolution (Holier-than-thou scientists and big government want to control you and profit off your misery! OMG!). Scientists and doctors went to school for years and years to become scientists. You just read an article on the Internet. Science fucks up, but they will admit if they get something wrong. Don’t pretend they don’t. 

Let’s try to be a little more realistic: For the most part, these drugs work. I said for the most part. And that’s what’s so damned difficult to comprehend about it. It’s all guesswork and trial-and-error (and yes, Mr. Maher, doctors do admit that it’s guesswork), and it takes a long time and a lot of effort on the part of doctor and patient to make it work. 

There. Is. No. Simple Cure. 

That in itself is frustrating, because I would like more than anything to take a pill or be hypnotized or something just to get rid of it. Full disclosure: I am mentally ill. It’s a pretty minor illness in comparison, even to some of my friends. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been depressed and riddled with crippling anxiety. I tried everything I could find to take the edge off, including cigarettes, illegal drugs, alcohol, poetry, really bad poetry, cognitive-behavioral therapy, heavy metal, support groups, medication, parties, exercise, rock concerts, EMDR, and journaling. All of it worked, and at the same time, none of it did. 

In one case, I found the perfect drug cocktail that made me less stressed out and less sad. And I had to stop taking one of the drugs because it had a side-effect I couldn’t live with. Now I’m trying a combination of a powerful anti-anxiety med, therapy, exercise, and writing. In a few months, this might not be working. It drives my wife crazy, and it drives me crazy. We both just want me to be better, and we’re sick of having to be vigilante for the rest of our lives. 

There is no one solution for any one person. Diet and exercise alone will not fix your depression. You can’t think it better. Anti-depressants will not make it all go away. 

What doesn’t work is telling myself (often at the urging of others) is that it’s all in my head. That my anxiety is shyness or stage fright or what have you. That the depressed are a bunch of whiners. That big agriculture and fast-food chains and TV have all poisoned our minds, and that’s the drugs are only there to make us sheep who will blindly follow The Man’s orders. The truth that lives in these statements makes them hurt, but these statements aren’t the whole truth. In short, Its complicated! 

Rant over. 


Old Friends

I’m tired and cranky and restless. Even with functional air conditioning, my apartment is confining and choking me, like a necktie. There are no less than four parties in my little corner of this condo complex this evening, blowing laughter and smoke over to me. Nobody’s being obnoxious or rude. Even the partygoers lining the sidewalk don’t chat too loudly. But still they chafe. 

I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I had a few options when I did. In Jersey City, salvation lay on my stoop, where I’d sprawl out on the stairs, take a hit off a hash pipe, light up a cigarette or two, and let my mind wander. In no time at all, I’d be jotting down colorful words, whether they be the musings of disgraced demigods, the rantings of confused college students, or the minimalist observations of a boy and his depressed, talking dog. 

If my imaginary friends weren’t speaking to me, it was just a short jog down the block to the corner pub to a cute bartender who knew what I wanted to drink, a foaming-at-the-mouth divorcee, a tough old broad, and a guy I’m positive worked for the mafia.  

In Bloomington, Indiana, things were simpler. I had wine, cigarettes, and the company of my wife. 

Tonight, though, my wife is out of town for a little bit. But more than anything, I want to kill this mood with a bottle of rye and some menthol. I’m trying to remind myself why I can’t have those things anymore. I mean, why can’t I slip around the corner to the drinking establishment, ordered a drink and a pack of cigarettes? Why can’t I creep downstairs to the kids on my sidewalk, bum a smoke and a paper cup of rum? What if I just stopped there? What’s the harm? 

The harm is that I can’t stop there. I’ve proven that to myself repeatedly. I had my fun, and now it’s time for the echoes on the sidewalk and the balconies around me to have theirs. I’ll just yearn from my yonder window and soak up some ambience. 

It’s midnight now, and the crowds are thinning out.  

Kids these days: no stamina.