Thursday, September 27, 2007
Only Lunatics Need Apply
My weeping spells continue most of the day.
There has long been a debate in psychology about which comes first, the affect or the thought. Obviously in the death of a loved one the thought precedes the affect. But clinically, as in my case, the affect overcomes me and afterwards I may append thoughts, but the thoughts are not valid. When sad you seek something sad in your mind to explain it. So I can fasten on Rachel’s death, or my own infinite shortcomings to fill the necessary object for the sadness. But in truth there is no object; the labels are falsely appended afterwards. I cry because I cry.
When I cry I keep hearing in my inner mind: “God helps those who help themselves.”
It’s true, you know. I’m not saying I have to make the burden worse by “trying harder,” just that I should make the effort to cope and seek help as best I can. I am doing that. In fact, the doctor started me on a new medicine yesterday, only $14 a tablet—which we can’t afford—nevertheless Kathleen insisted that we buy it now that she has a job. I would not have spent the money but she would do anything to make me well. This depression has now matched my longest depression of 1982-83, also 16 mos. and sent packing with ECT.
I’ve thought of starting a fund drive: “Dr. Chaffin needs ECT. He has no insurance and no way of getting the proper treatment. It will cost around 50 K. Please send your donation to Dr. Craig Chaffin, PO Box 2436, Ft. Bragg, CA, 95437.
Who knows? Maybe a millionaire will read this and send me the money. I promise to use it only for treatment, and if the medications start working consistently, I will naturally send the money back.
I said I was done with poetry but the other day I reverted to the familiar form to exorcise some dark feelings:
I wear the Elephant Man’s mask
like a Jewskin lampshade.
Do you see the glow of hell through it?
Come, warm yourself,
take my gold fillings,
my bones for your Camellias
Living is for men in sunglasses
who can filter the not me from the me.
Suicide is for sissies
in little nautical suits with big bow ties.
Don’t worry about me.
If my blood has been desiccated
and ground to red pepper,
remember me on your pizza.
I am the Jesus of the broken cell phone,
the Savior of ceramic kitsch.
I’ll glue that broken cat
with the clock in its belly
back together with my spittle.
Of my healing there shall be no end.
I think that’s pretty dark. The title, incidentally, was furnished by my old friend with whom I have recently reconciled, Eric. He seems in a very good space, content with his lot in life, grateful to serve in a church where he is a deacon. It was my illness that drove him away in the first place.
Funny, for the last two nights I saw TV ads for “bipolar treatment.” Although they never came out and named a drug, you know some big pharmaceutical company is behind them. And in Emily Martin’s book, Bipolar Expeditions, she points out that the hypomanic/manic side of the illness is considered valuable in business. So bipolar disease has become fashionable nowadays, it seems, and is being greatly overdiagnosed in children.
I for one resent the lowering of the bar for diagnosis. The word “lunatic” is derived from early observations of manic-depressives, whose cycling was thought to be associated with the phases of the moon. As a true lunatic I don’t want some penny ante bipolar II or cyclothymic wannabe sharing my hard won moniker in this matter.
BTW, I should say, that although I don’t pick up the phone, I am always happy when someone calls me, as a friend did today. Though I teared up several times on the phone, my voice cracking, listening to him was a great comfort. So don’t be afraid to call me, I’m happy to hear from you. Write me if you need my phone number. My only caveat is that I already know you; I don’t want to encounter new people, I am in no position to make new friends right now, the strain of the introduction would be too much.
Thine in lunacy,