Sunday, July 17, 2005

Am I OK?

"Are you OK?" it's a question I hear a lot. Usually, I give an uninspired affirmative because people in general don't want to hear the truth: I've come to accept life at a significantly lower level of participation and achievement than I did in the past. If I knew in 1997 what I know now, I would have pulled the trigger again. No question, no compromise, just bang. I feel like my doctors mislead me into false hope, while my friends and family ask unreasonable conditions of my continued existence. How exactly am I supposed to tell my Mom that I seriously think about suicide several times daily? My fantasy this week is swinging on a cable wrapped around the I-beam in the basement. The doctors have no idea what it's like to be on the inside of a psychotic mind. Every thought is trapped, and every memory is subject to change and alteration, usually for the worse. I don't feel safe around the doctors; they stuff me full of pills. These pills are toxic; I just want some of them to operate as prescribed. The people closest to me demand that I don't off myself, demand continued improvements in my symptoms, and furthermore demand that I smile and like it. "At least you're not dead" some of them say. Those people don't have to listen to prester Bane, and can be reasonably sure the memories that matter most stay the same, like a first love, a true love, and the first birthday party when no one needed to help blow out the candles. I want to make everyone happy; I want to make the doctors feel vindicated in their prescriptions, but I can't. I want the strength to soldier on, stoically staring madness in the face and not flinching an inch. I want the tools to express myself to where I'm understood, and not so lonely anymore. Unfortunately, the medication proved itself to be ineffective over time, and I've proven completely useless. I don't even have the strength to suffer gracefully. I'm not starving, freezing, or dying of thirst; I have a mental illness. There are people out there who cling to lives less rewarding than mine just to feel the thrill and sensation of life. There are some people who will beg at gunpoint to see tomorrow, and I will beg the same way to never rise again. Tomorrow will come, and I will be no closer to happiness than I was in February 1997, everything I'd call happy has proven to be a lie. The crow feather of my discontent is heaviest in the morning's wicked hours before dawn, and I'm too weary to continue. Take me home, with a pill, or a Luger, or a fall.


Shamgar said...

Suicide is the ultimate act of self-indulgence. And don't use a Luger. &%^$^&* little 9mm will leave you a quadrapalegic and then you'll REALLY be depressed. Besides the cops will confiscate the Luger and a piece of history will be lost to your family. Statistics: Committing suicide increases the chances one of your immediate family will do the same by 400%, that your friends will take their own lives by 200%, that aquantinces will do so by 100%. You have, to quote Bill W.the founder of AA, " right to buy yourself peace of mind at someone else's expense."

Thomas Jackson said...

I can deal with depression. The part that leaves me so helpless isn't feeling blue, It's the uncertainty and alienation dealt out with paranoid schizophrenia. I can feel down and deal with it; the psychosis is a different animal. I live in a fundamentally different world. I smell, see, feel, taste, and hear differently from the rest of you.

You hear a choir on Sunday. I hear a choir everywhere I go; the cacophany of their voices is constant. They laugh, they taunt, and they never stop. There is no rest; there is no peace. Every schizophrenic I know thinks about suicide, and ten percent succeed.

For a schizophrenic, suicide is not the way out of pain or punishment of the living, it is the only cure. When medication fails, which it often does, what are we supposed to think about? With what are we supposed to occupy ourselves? Our friends? Our family? They want to hear about the difficulties of a psychotic life about as much as you do.

I suppose you can go ahead, and think that all suicides are from depression, or look to punish the living. However, schizophrenic suicide is fundamentally different. The last thing a paranoid schizophrenic close to the edge needs is someone lampooning the struggle. If you insist that schizophrenics may not speak, and must keep their desperate and ever increasingly flawed thoughts inside, then you might as well pull the trigger yourself. Before you pull the mote out of my unpredictable and useless eye, perhaps you should deal with the beam sticking out from under your arrogantly closed eyelid.

We don't have any advocates. Everyone either assumes we're dangerous, or disbelieves the seriousness of our situation. This is not an illness to be trifled with: nobody can use strength of will to escape the symptoms or alleviate the disease. I'm blessed with being more articulate than most with this disorder. By denying my authority to express my feelings on my own blog, you only put me in a smaller box, and fuel the misunderstanding of myself and others with my affliction.

I am a paranoid schizophrenic. If you can't see that sickness from your prejudice, perhaps it's you who buys yourself peace of mind and the expense of others.

Laurel Makepeace O'Keefe said...

Bravo on that pristine rebuttal Thomas!
If you dont mind my asking, why arent you on anti-psychotics..or taking one that works?

Thomas Jackson said...

I'm actually on three different anti-psychotics, the best of which is Abilify. However, none of them completely work. Schizophrenics are divided into thirds regarding their prognoses. The first third will never get better no matter how their doctors treat the disease. The second third will take medication and be fine. The last third is my group: the periodic relapse group. I'll never be completely well, but I will have enough lucid time to lead a life in general society, away from a hospital ward. However, there will be moments when I'm just as sick as the untreatable schizophrenics.