Monday, March 10, 2008

Still Crazy After All These Amperes

March 9, 7 P.M.:

The blinding gold over the ocean makes writing hard. Seal that light off by adjusting the shutters and I'm still suffering after-flashes from the brightness.

Think about that: Every day we have the possibility of blinding ourselves forever by staring into the sun. How can we possibly leave such decisions to the mentally disabled? We're just risking our favorite wackos, not truly guarding them from imminent dangers--like exposure to the Craig Kilmer Show. These late-night less-than wits could prove toxic to the fragile scaffolding by which a depressed patient attempts to construct a sense of hope, even a sense of humor. Why not more protection in the name of the rights of the disabled, more restrictions on their freedom for their own good? How the ACLU frees us through restrictions, liberates us by encircling us, the kind of groveling freedom old-time liberalism produces. “Let us take care of you; we can't trust the great unwashed to care for themselves.” And yet, here am I, a mental patient with suicidal yearnings perfectly capable of blinding himself on a natural phenomenon anytime he likes. The last freedom is the right to suicide, but it may also be the first freedom. Even so, in our Western society it is frowned upon as the ultimate failure. Famously the Japanese have a different take on this.

Although it has been hard for me to admit in the past, I hereby publicly admit that for the present time and foreseeable future I am disabled, that is to say, unable to work in any normal capacity without an undue risk of being incapacitated. By imagining myself as someone else I can function, though I still fall victim to that 1000-yard stare. How I wish I were better grounded!

My dear friends have been calling me, and that shores up my sanity, because they treat me as fully human and in charge of my capacities, which makes me feel more and more competent as I talk with them. (There is something parasitic in all of us, something vampirish, in how we can, when we need to, suck a great bunch of energy from another person. Talking with close friends so energized me today, almost to the point of feeling normal. But what price did they pay?) The obverse of this experience is that by projecting myself as incompetent and disabled, I fulfill my own prophecy and encourage acquaintances to treat me as such.

If today's post, which will really be tomorrow's post when posted, seems directionless, it is. And here's why:

Kathleen raised the possibility that the self-involvement of blogging might be bad for my depression, and I countered that when I felt particularly dissociated, writing helped objectify my being, just as conversations on the phone with friends helps restore my sense of personality. Because of her point, however, I resolved to try to write comically from here on in. I know nothing is harder. But if I could succeed in making the reader laugh, wouldn't that be a gift? And now that I have burdened myself with humor, can I be humorous? Was anything up to here in this blog humorous?

What do you say to an ECT patient after his third treatment?

Anything you want, because he'll forget it after the fourth.

Why do they give depressed patients so many medications?

To insulate them from the reality they can't handle and enable them for the reality they can.

How do doctors tell the difference?

Why they get paid the big bucks.

Are you shocked that Craig needed electroconvulsive therapy?

No; it was Craig who was shocked.

It's hard to be humorous on command. Usually I have to be writing about a subject for humor to occur, as it does naturally in most stories worth re-telling, stories of extreme stupidity and disappointment (like our two-trillion Iraq War). When I think of all the other things we could have spent our money on, like flat-screen TVs, it makes me weep. Who's the candidate to turn the neocon hubris around? Who's willing to step down from being “The World's Policeman” and simply coexist without having to dominate? I don't know if any of the candidates get it. It's not a call to isolationism, it's a call to realistic expectations in a new global order.

At least I didn't fall for talking about me, here at the end. I know you wouldn't have minded. But I truly have nothing to say about myself except that I had another day and got through it, even hiking in the afternoon. Of the terror and sadness I will not speak.

I cannot properly rate myself in kilorats anymore because my psyche is not that simple. Nevertheless it is a handy shorthand, so I will return to it.

At -5 Kilorats (with quite the electrical hangover),

Dr. Chaffin


  1. Anonymous5:24 PM PDT

    There may be something to Kathleen's point I think CE, regarding what I might call 'self-dilution'. A blog tends to be inward-directed by design. Does talking about your depression dilute or reinfiorce your symptoms? It's a question worth asking yourself. I don't c,iam to know the answer.

    take care

  2. Anonymous9:08 PM PDT

    you need to try kratom.

    just do it.

  3. So, you sucked some much needed energy from a friend.

    So, you were a parasite.

    Dude, friendship, REAL friendship, is about reciprocity. Someday, that friend from who (whom?) you sucked all that energy will someday return the favor in kind maybe and suck some much needed energy from you.

    It's called being there.

    I find it interesting that you find yourself feeling more competent, more sane, more human when you interact via conversation with people. You say you can't work...but maybe you should be working even if it's only a part time job, something that would allow you to interact face to face with people. Do you still have that tour guide gig? I could see you running one of those roadside vegetable/fruit stands.

    What I really wanted to say about your reaction to feeling better after TALKING to people was that maybe you ought to pursue psychotherapy again....but I knew you'd roll your eyes at that pretend I didn't insert it here at the end. (grin)

    I'm sorry you're still down and out. I am heartened to hear that you do have glimmers of light in your life though. Continue to hike and talk to your friends and blog and whatever else makes you feel.

    I was going to say feel better. But I'll leave it at feel.

    Courage, friend.

  4. I could also see you working happily in a bookstore or library...

  5. What is kratom?

    Norm and LKD, you're both sweethearts. I think blogging is helpful for me at this juncture; the words prove, in a way, that I existed and I also draw comments from others, like those to which I just referred. The employment problem is twofold: my back is trashed for prolonged sitting, standing, stooping or bending; if I take employment, even if it pays less than my disability, I fear my disability ends altogether, though I must research this more.

    And LKD, yes, I went to lead a tour at the Botanical Gardens on Monday but no one showed up. I try to stay active in whatever capacities are available to me, so I'll be assisting gardening this Saturday, for instance.

  6. "If you're going through hell, keep going." -Winston Churchill

  7. Anonymous7:04 PM PDT


    I have wanted to write to you for a long time, but was afraid I might say something harmful. I'll attempt something here.

    I simply have a request. Could you post more pictures?

    All the best,

    Joel Fry (I miss Melic.)


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