There’s no point talking to someone who doesn’t care. Or is too stupid to understand you.
A technician at an ophthalmologist’s office told me this afternoon that he had to touch my eye to conduct a test.
He had a can of some power drink nearby.
I asked him what it was.
He said it was tea but that it had some caffeine to help him on the long drive back to Las Vegas.
Understandable. After his shift!
I told him my Dad once noticed an assisting physician’s hand trembling.
Dad asked if the doctor had coffee that morning and the answer was yes.
My Dad told him that he would never assist him in surgery again.
And that was that.
I told this story to the technician and it did not register. He smiled a little and moved on to the test.
You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help or is too stupid to recognize help when it is given.
No point talking.
And that is that.
Just woke up. Yay!
In last night’s installment, I found myself in two different locations, the Los Angeles Valley and the Sacramento, California area.
SoCal wasn’t so disturbing.In that nonsense, I was in the middle of a thirty year old video footage of air pollution problems and citrus tree production, don’t try to make sense of that.
There was vintage footage of a 1980s news anchor showing an expert in citrus describing how to keep production up by inducing air movement over a grove by cutting the height of the trees at two levels. Seemed an elaborate and intensive pursuit.
Somehow things switched to the old Tower Books store on El Camino Avenue in Sacramento. It’s been closed for decades and I haven’t thought about it for that long.
There was massive sale going on and I found an old plant book of mine on the shelf. It no longer had a cover and was falling apart. I still wanted to buy it.
Some of my parents books were on the shelf. Io Triumphe!, which goes back to their days at Albion college. My Dad had copies in his den, heavy cloth binding and dark ink.
There was some mad person screaming down the halls that someone was stealing books out of the bathroom. The inventory seemed to shrink away as time passed.
A poster inside said that Tower Books had to close their Starbucks counter but this Tower never had a Starbucks. There was, however, an empty coffee counter at the end of the store.
Several people inside and outside of the store were killing chickens and such by wringing the necks of those animals. Several people were earnestly engaged in this activity, much to the stress and horror of those having to do it and to people like me who had to watch.
The end revolved around me having to kill a dog by wringing its neck, if I were to leave the dream.
Or, it could have to do with watching a young kid kill his favorite dog by wringing its neck.
Or, as I saw a nice white Labrador coming up to me, it could be that the dog was going to kill me by wringing my neck.
It’s hard to know what is going on in these nightmares.
NB: I never had a violent nightmare before the violent incident I experienced (internal link) so dream interpretation is worthless.
Interpretation might be useful if my nightmares started unexpectedly. Where did those come from? Let’s try to analyze the dreams! No. We have a starting point and a cause. All well known. Pointless to continue. Let me be clearer.
A war veteran with PTSD nightmares shouldn’t be asked about life before he saw someone’s face shot off, it is because he saw someone’s face shot off that he has nightmares. You get it now?
I know, I know, some will say, “What made him more susceptible to having nightmares when other people saw the same thing and are not having nightmares?”
If you have the time and the money to go down that rabbit hole, well, you are in a very well financed part of mental health that I don’t know about.
Certainly not a part of healing because I don’t see any answer to that question that has ever helped anybody. Make my nightmares stop if you are so damned smart.
Unless interpretation might help them go away. Which doesn’t work, in fact, documenting and analyzing makes my nightmares more concrete by giving them substance as they are recounted.
You’ll have more dreams or nightmares the more you recall them and especially if you write them down. Try it. You’ll see.
This recounting is a one off for unbelievers. I’ve had as many as five violent nightmares in a single night although that is rare. Usually only one or two. And in my afternoon naps, too.
I know everyone else has their own problems. Just don’t deny my misery because you can’t see it. I’m glad that you can’t.
Managed to get back to sleep after 5:00 AM or so. Had what I call a stress dream. For some reason all of my expensive lapidary equipment was outdoors on a balcony and it had all fallen off the balcony because of an earthquake and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back together because the entire building was sliding off its foundation and it was up to the landlord to get everything rebuilt so it would take time if it could ever get done and would I be homeless? and it was extremely upsetting, extremely upsetting and then I woke up.
Another night in my life ends.
And who cares? Cares enough to do something?
Life is What Happens When You Are Making Other Plans
John Lennon said that and Life Happens all the time.
Case in point, yesterday and my continuing experiences with modern medicine.
I developed the worst case of indigestion or something fierce at about midnight on Sunday. It felt like I had swallowed hot coals, my lungs were on fire. Yet, no change of diet. No chili-cheese dog.
Scared out of my mind that I may have been having the kind of heart attack that my Dad suffered, I drove to the ER at Pahrump’s only hospital. It was only the second time I have visited an ER.It’s not a place you want to go.
After conducting a battery of tests they said the blood levels for my liver were nine times higher than they should be and all attention began focusing on that. Not the burning I had experienced. I haven’t had a drink in three years yet they were focusing on my liver.
I asked the ER doctor whether I was showing any jaundice and, if so, was it consistent with the test results? “How do you know about jaundice? Most people don’t.” And then he admitted I wasn’t really showing much. But, no matter.
Saying they were duty bound by protocol, I was put in an ambulance and sent off to a Las Vegas hospital an hour away. I had to leave my truck at Desert View hospital. No choice. Was not allowed to drive.
At about two in the afternoon on Monday I was still getting tests and there was a lot of talk about holding me for an another two or three days. I could have no food or water since there were constant mentions about immediate surgery.
I had an important medical appointment the next day that was weeks in scheduling. And another appointment for Thursday for my earache which continues to get worse. Making something of a fuss, I demanded that they release me which they did. Only their revenge was that they would not pay for my transportation back. I was now a patient with an unauthorized release.
They understood that I didn’t want to break long standing appointments with other doctors. But they weren’t their doctors so they had the perfect excuse to make me pay for my trip back. It’s all about money with Modern Medicine.
I called Uber from the front entrance of Spring Valley Medical Center and a hundred dollars later I was back in the Desert View Hospital Parking lot with my truck. Yay!
I am getting my primary care doctor to look at my test results. And there is a Digestive Labs here in town which can conduct more tests. Maybe they can figure out that blood level thing. Meanwhile, no opinion on what caused my heartburn or how to prevent it from happening again.
Another wasted day, another day with a lot of pain and anxiety and desperate messages to friends for help and nothing to show for it.
And so it goes.
Discouraging talk with my family practitioner yesterday.
Although he wouldn’t admit it in so many words, no cure or fix exists for my chronic anxiety, nightmares, or insomnia. There never has been.
All the medications and talk therapy over the decades has only been to help. Not cure.
Some of those drugs and talk have helped me for a while. Perhaps. Because its difficult to know if I got better on my own (spontaneous remission) or whether I got better from a treatment.
For the majority of people like me suffering long term mental health problems, however, cures are not forthcoming and never will be.
It is in a doctor’s nature to want to help. They do that by prescribing treatment after treatment, even when the problem is insolvable
Medicines for most mental illness just tamp down or help control symptoms, they don’t root out the problem.
I’ve always envisioned electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a method to reset or change my brain in a fundamental way but no doctor I’ve talked to will prescribe it. I haven’t checked overseas.
Failing that course of action, I’m not sure what’s next. Other than my conditions continuing while old age problems add to my misery.
Compounding all of this, the insurance industry would now like to see everything through the lens of depression or anxiety. Anything outside these two conditions is too complex, untreatable, and therefore not worth covering to the extent those problems need.
Myself aside, what about the mentally ill homeless people who haunt our streets? No fix for them either or perhaps even treatment. Without insurance, what happens? Who covers them? If they did get their meds, though, would they take them on schedule? And what if they drank?
I no longer drink but I used to. I had to quit alcohol each time a doctor asked, to make sure they knew I wanted to get better. Many of the powerful drugs I took were contraindicated by alcohol. I don’t know, therefore, how these meds could help someone who has a drinking problem.
Everyone seems to need help.
Given my forty plus years of dealing with mental health problems, I think a better approach to the craxy expensive and unavailable mental health system would be a network of advocates.
People assigned to patients, people that could be called at two in the morning to listen or someone to go with the patient to anxiety crippling events like blood draws or dental appointments.
People oriented management may be a better approach or an adjunct to all these short term fixes which in fact are no fix at all.
Louis Wain’s drawings of cats as his schizophrenia worsened.
In the Eiger Sanction, Clint Eastwood’s character named Jonathan and his climbing partner are stuck on a mountain wall that has completely iced over.
Andrei, a Frenchman, remarks to his fellow trapped climber, “Johnathan, you’re very good. I have really enjoyed climbing with you.” “We’ll make it,” comes the encouraging reply. “I don’t think so,” says Andrei. “But we shall continue with style.”
Indeed. For what is more important in the face of death or an impossible situation? I want to tie this into mental health and the invisible, iced over mountain that so many of us are stuck on.
Mental health problems aren’t often visible. People that mumble incessantly, talking to themselves or to people that aren’t there, are clearly disturbed. That shows. People too depressed or anxious to go outside may give up on hygiene and present a ragged appearance when they do go out.
For most of us though, we keep up appearances. We keep ourselves clean, work if we can, get groceries, drive around, and run errands. What else can we do? Who would do these errands for us? We can’t be a burden on anybody else.
Unfortunately, this outward appearance of normality completely fights against our inward struggles and nightmares. The more we try to appear normal, the less people think we have problems.
I remember walking in San Francisco toward the Embarcadero Plaza one year. A completely disheveled street person was sitting on the sidewalk as I went by, asking for a handout. I ignored him, although I am normally prone to charity.
He yelled after me in a very angry voice, shouting about how I would like it to be where he was, sitting on a sidewalk like him. I closed my eyes and kept walking.
For several days before, I had some of my worst nightmares, which I have written about before. (internal link). Bloody, violent, suicide inducing nightmares, which have come and gone since October of 1988. Chronic, along with an induced anxiety in the day that is often unbearable. Would he trade his life for mine if he saw what I had seen? Too often, what I continue to see?
Appearing completely normal, and fighting to keep that way, those of us with mental health problems erase all indication of what we are going through. We have no credibility with the outside world as to our condition, we look just fine.
I don’t know what to do about this. I can’t worry people with descriptions of my nightmares, I can’t relate my anxiety, and believe, me, therapy doesn’t do any good for a condition that has gone on for decades. Although, yes, I am still seen by a psychiatrist. I hold out hope, still, like playing the lottery.
There’s an odd sounding theory in the law called the eggshell skull rule. Let me quote the Pepper & Odom Law Firm (external link) before getting into this.
“The basic principle of the eggshell skull rule is that the Defendant in a civil case must take full responsibility for all the damages that they caused to the victim, regardless of the fact that the particular Plaintiff was more susceptible than a normal person may have been.”
“This is a very important rule when it comes to personal injury claims and it shows up all the time in car wreck cases. For example, if an older person is rear-ended while sitting at a red light, and they suffer a broken back because they have weaker bones – whereas a younger person may only have suffered soft tissue injuries in the exact same situation, the person who hit them is still responsible for the full extent of the damages they caused.”
You take people as you find them. That’s the conclusion. That’s the point of law. Appearances aside, you take the whole person as you find them. Without appearing so, some people are more prone to damage.
You need to be kind. We all need to be kind. We don’t know each others’ lives, what stress they are under at work or if they just had a death in the family. Or a history of mental health problems. We need to be kind. There’s too many careless people in the world running people over.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Worse, though, are the mean and cruel. Management at my apartment here is like that. They won’t kick a puppy when no one is looking, I think, but they will do violence to the truth if their job depends on it or if they are just feeling like it. Like that woman who told me what I had seen was in fact an opinion. She told me that behind my back. As I was walking away. (internal link) No guts to say it to my face. It is this lying and tearing down of things that is so easy.
It is far easier to be destructive than constructive. You can burn down a building with one match what it took a year to build. Similarly, lying is easier than admitting a mistake. Being mean and cruel are like running downhill, there’s no effort involved. Compare that to being positive in the face of difficulty, that is like running uphill.
Cruelty has inherent power that kindness lacks. Kindness and good acts should be effortless as rain falls to the ground, however, most good works require some kind of deliberate, conscious, willful effort. Meanness is too often a thoughtless impulse, an immediate reflex, for the more inculcated, like Ribbentrop or this apartment’s staff, a way of life.
The mean have no interest in building up or caring. You have to care to be kind.
I continue, however, without as much style as a Frenchman. I never looked good in a beret. I try to make up for it, though, by watching early Bridgett Bardot movies. My mountain wall is not quite iced over yet, but until then, I am still setting anchors and handling ropes as best as I can. If only people knew. If only people knew how many others are like me. Don’t worry, we won’t worry you. But please, be kind to everybody. Please. Thank you.
“We are truly the sum of our own choices, nothing more.”
That’s the distillation of every self-righteous self-help advocate who has never had a loved one suffer or die from mental illness. Or had a loved one killed when someone blew through a red light. Or had a friend or loved one brought down by a crippling disease like cancer. To these zealots, life is simple. Problem is, life ain’t simple.
My mother and grandfather didn’t choose to have dementia. They didn’t ask to die from it. They didn’t choose how they felt, which was probably anxiety and confusion and feeling lost. The sum of our choices?
I have a 60 year old friend in Folsom who is still tending to her child, now a fully grown adult in his thirties. It would break your heart to see him as he approaches you, with his staggering, clomping, limping gait. His head swivels in an aimless manner while he walks, looking at everything, looking at nothing. His face wears a constant smile, but it’s vacant and punctuated by random grunts and other other unidentifiable sounds of disease. The sum of our choices? Damn you!
John Lennon said that life happens when you are making other plans. Exactly. Life happens. We control what we can but life makes its own plans, too. Too many self-help advocates make money off of misery as they blame people for things they would desperately like to change but can’t.
I didn’t choose to have my nightmares. I don’t choose to have them now. But I can’t count how many totally clueless people nearly drove me to suicide with suggestions that I was responsible for the way I felt. That I could control how I felt by simply thinking better. Making a choice to feel better. Perhaps these people are more mentally ill than I am.
You try to act normal after you wake up from a nightmare in which you just smashed in a baby’s head with a baseball bat. Live with that! I feel tremendously for vets and anyone else who suffers from PTSD or whatever caused their problems. Whatever caused their problems. You see, you might understand what started something but finding the off switch may prove impossible, no matter what you try. That’s life.
Finding the off switch is like trying to find a light switch panel in a huge, dark room whose floor is littered with painful tripping obstacles you can’t see. These self-help experts seem to know where that light switch is, you just need to listen to their advice. Their life is undoubtedly a mess. But they know how to get your life straight.
According to them, you could find that switch with more talk therapy, less talk therapy, more medicines, less medicines, meditation, Scientology, organized religion, exercise, hypnosis, or whatever seems in at the time. Oh, and most importantly, buy their book. As if that would do any good. Because their outlook is based on blaming you. You’re the one making bad choices, so suffer from that until you listen to them. And if you did listen to them and their advice didn’t work, well, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. You’re still to blame.
This self-determination mantra might work for mentally healthy people, whatever healthy means. But while they peddle their self-serving, self-righteous shtick, they drive anyone tortured by mental illness further into madness by saying that one can control the often uncontrollable. They debase people depressed over losing a loved one or those fighting the blackness that comes from having a miserable, crippling disease. Isn’t a little charity in order?
In the Inferno, Dante is allowed to move through Hell and eventually return, leaving the condemned to the Pit. As Eliot translates it, a wretched soul cries out to Dante upon seeing him start back. “Now, I pray you, by that virtue which leads you to the top of the stair, think of me in my time of pain.”
None of us wants our personality judged when we’re drunk, high, or have lost our temper. “That’s not who I am.” Fair enough. But what if you always want a drink, a drug, or live in a violent environment? Who are you then? What’s your true personality? The person you are during years of addiction? Or the person you were before? What’s the real you? With years passing and the changes that happen naturally because of that, can you even remember what you were before?
We all know people are different at twenty than forty. And that a person acts differently if they are an alcoholic, addict, or live locked up in a threatening place. They’ll get back to normal once their life gets back to normal, right? Maybe. So what are they now, in their present condition?
I started Zyprexa for my violent nightmares in 2007 and it helped immediately. It saved my life. And it drastically altered my personality, at least that’s how it felt to me. Drugs like Zyprexa or Prozac aren’t temporary and short acting, they build up in your blood stream and stay with you as long as you take them. They’re not like a drink or a fix, you are under the influence for perhaps years.
Although Zyprexa reduced the number of intensity and severity of my nightmares, it never ended them. They’re still with me but less bloody. And Zyprexa wasn’t my first attempt at ending them, I’ve been on psychoactive drugs of all kinds since 1990.
With Zyprexa I became less contentious, less argumentative, less inclined to make a point. Actually, not inclined to make a point at all. I walked away from insults and slights I would have never tolerated before. I didn’t care anymore. I also didn’t care about many things that were important, that were worth fighting for. More difficult to explain was that I felt my brain changing. A physical-like feeling which was very disturbing. But I couldn’t live with my nightmares so I accepted my new personality.
The question, though, again, is what makes up a person’s personality? I worried tremendously when meeting new people. I didn’t want to start any new relation. Who were they meeting? I wasn’t myself, I was something else. A new person would only see me in this drug altered way. Would they accept me when I went off the medicine and got back to my real self? Or would that self return?
Zyprexa failed me last December and I went off it because it was no longer working. And I gave up alcohol on doctor’s orders in April of 2018 for health reasons. I’m still drinking coffee but stopping that has always left me tired and stupid. I should be as clear as I was before the drinking and the drugs. The real me. Right? And that’s a good thing. Right? But who was I all those last few decades? Something else. I don’t know what.
Life is now back in my face. Drinking and medications put a blanket over everything. A soft focus on the world, distance. That distance is now gone and I’ve noticed this every time I’ve stopped prescription medicines or drink. Everything is painfully close along with tremendous anxiety. That anxiety starting for me in the third grade. Well, here I am again. The real me. Right? It’s been a long road back.
“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.” J. Krishnamurti
My dentist doesn’t want to treat me any more. The anxiety and difficulty I have with procedures is causing him stress. The dental office manager says a patient’s stress produces stress on a dentist, making it more difficult to care for the patient. Perhaps, says, the manager, another dentist will do?
Stress? Really? Or maybe the real reason is that the practice overbooks, not giving the dentist enough time to deal with an occasional phobic patient. Or perhaps the dentist didn’t have any patience to begin with. Here’s an idea: the dentist should get professional, get back to work, or get out of his damned trade.
Stress. We all deal with it. A mom raising kids by herself is stressed around the clock. She can’t neglect her children or pass them on to someone else because she is stressed. An EMT or a tow truck driver sees horrible things at an accident. They have jobs to do, however, and they all get on with their work. We all have to deal.
I had a badly needed job that was so stressful it gave me anxiety diarrhea before every shift. For three years I took a double dose of Imodium before going to work. That prevented having any “accidents” on the job. When I could finally quit that job, I did. But during that time I managed. I had to. We are all stressed at different times.
I didn’t handle that office call well. I blew up. I ended up yelling at the office manager. Stress? My Dad and his colleagues handled stress trying to save people’s lives. They were even more stressed, perhaps, when they had to tell a family that their loved one had died. That’s stress. But professionals carry on.
My Dad referred many patients to specialists or others when treatment required care or knowledge beyond his ability. Although I was not in his office throughout his career, it is inconceivable to me that he passed off a patient to another doctor because he was stressed. You finish what you start. That may be the first rule for engineers, but it applies to medical practitioners as well.
I am now in the difficult position of finding another practice to take on my case, my dental implant procedure now incomplete. I’m not sure another dentist can do that. They may become liable for a problem they didn’t create. My former dentists are in San Francisco, so I’d have to fly from Las Vegas to get treatment there. I am considering this. Stress. Again, get professional and get on with it. Like the rest of us.
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