Archive for January, 2009

INSIGHT-OUTSIGHT #2

The further ahead you plan, the less likely your plan will be realized.

TOO MUCH INFORMATION? TOO BAD!

I’m 6’3″ tall, with a large frame–so looking at me, you wouldn’t think I’m over 100 lbs. overweight.  But I am.  I gained this weight primarily from being on 400 mg. Seroquel.  And though I’ve been able (with my psychiatrist’s approval) to lower it to 200, I still have to take it. 

I got back from Winn-Dixie a moment ago, having purchased some Jones Pure Cane Cola.  Because I’m not exercising at all, right now, I feel bloated after every meal.  I’m a member of a TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) chapter, in which I weigh-in every meeting.  After the last meeting, I decided to stop drinking soda.  That would have made a difference, since I was drinking it after every coffee (i.e. every meal).  But soda relieves the bloating!  And in the last two days, while I’ve been drinking no soda, I’ve been bloated more!

So I went to Winn-Dixie for the sugar-free Jones.  Only one problem, it’s got citric acid–that’s the second ingredient listed.  And citric acid burns the hell out of my stomach!  Thus I had to get the regular.   And though I got the cola–which has less sugar than the cream–I’ll still continue gaining weight.

I wish my body demanded as much activity as my brain!  If that were the case, I’d be exercising like mad!  But it doesn’t.

I’ve been hyperactive all my life–not physically, but mentally.  My mind must be occupied, at all times, or I get bored.  And I am literally frightened of boredom!  That’s why I’m writing this post–just  to use my mind, before I eat with my singles group in a little over two hours.

I tried reading another blog, but couldn’t focus.  Then I  resumed watching “Unfaithful” ( I can’t watch an entire film, in one sitting, so I bookmark the DVD, and return to it later).  But the second sex scene was about to occur (I’d seen this movie before), and I was already getting horny.  Horniness is tension, and there’s only one way to release it.  But I didn’t want to make a mess, since I was cleaned-up for the dinner (yeah right, you never masturbate).  So I had to bookmark it again. 

That’s when I decided to go to Winn-Dixie.  Now I’ve finished two cans of Jones Pure Cane Cola, and do feel less bloated.  I need to start walking again (I prefer swimming, but there’s no pool anywhere near my house).

Well, I can’t write anymore.  Maybe I can mark the time on “Unfaithful”, and start a different movie in my endless stack of new DVD’s (most from the $5 bin, at Walmart).  But when will I finish “Unfaithful”?  Actually, I have a VHS copy of the film, but I got the DVD because it has an alternate ending.  And I hate the ambiguous ending!

IF ANYTHING CAN GO WRONG, IT WON’T!

I can’t remember when I last had a day like this–when things seem to be going too well, as if something really terrible is going to happen, any minute! 

In the 11th grade, I studied Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”.  I wish Miss Newton (who was one of the hottest teachers I ever had) had chosen something else.  Because I was introduced to the concept of “tempting fate” (a recurring theme in the play).  Whenever you think, say, or write how well things are going, you tempt fate!   Fate waits just long enough–then attacks you with the worst thing you could imagine!

Of course I may be seriously tempting fate by writing this post!   I took fifteen creative-writing courses in college–that’s how much I enjoyed writing.  Sometime, during the first or second quarter of fiction-writing, I had an unusually vivid dream: I am leaning against my car, in my parents’ front yard.  On the car is a sheet of paper, and in my hand a pencil.  I write, “Tyrannosaurus Rex”, and one appears!  It is glaring down at me, “grinning”, and drooling!  It’s hot breath reeks!  Very slowly, I turn the pencil over–then rapidly erase the word.  And the beast is gone!

Was that dream a warning to be careful what I write–or have I just assigned it a meaning?

It’s been over an hour since I started this post, and everything is still okay–so much for tempting fate!  Of course, if you never see any more posts after this one, you can assume I really pissed-off fate!  But superstition is, at most, self-fulfilling prophecy.  If  someone believes, strongly enough, that he is possessed, he will act the part.  And superstitious folks will utter, “Oh my God, that man’s possessed!”

Now faith is another matter–Jesus was right.  But faith only works for the good.  So don’t bother trying to wish someone to death–it won’t work, no matter how much faith you have.  However, faith can heal.   Before the Enlightenment, healings were an everyday occurrence.  Because the afflicted had no science to contradict their faith, it was far more abundant, thus far more powerful.  This is the price we pay for our knowledge–though, in my opinion, a reasonable price.  Still, in the most remote villages of the Fourth World, healings continue–because there is no science.  The patient has total faith that the shaman will heal him, and is thus healed.

How did I get on this subject–I was writing about superstition!  So before I digress again, here’s a question for lurkers: Do you have any superstition that–to your knowledge–is unique to you?  As an example, I feel uneasy if any cash in my wallet is upside down–as if that somehow curses it!

Now I’ve written all I can, this time (I’ve got “computer claustrophobia”), and am going to watch a taped episode of “48 Hours Mystery” (the only TV show I regularly watch).  Maybe someday there’ll be an episode entitled, “Did Fate Kill the Blogger?”!

MOVING ON

The SOLO Adults had its monthly potluck dinner this evening.  I bought a pecan pie at Winn-Dixie, on the way, and drove to the church.  I hadn’t planned to go, since Jan would be there.  But I decided, at the last minute, that I wasn’t going to let her keep me away.  I was very frightened of going.  I was afraid seeing Jan would upset me and I’d have a panic attack.  But I’d learned that the only way to overcome fear was to face it.

When I arrived, I met several people who hadn’t been to SOLO Adults before.  I quickly made friends with them, and sat with them.  I didn’t eat any of the food because, frankly, it didn’t look appetizing.  But I did drink tea, while conversing with these new folks.

The only thing I said to Jan was “Hi”.  The rest of the evening, I completely avoided her.  Everything went well.  I invited one of my new acquaintances to the Singletons dinner Friday, and she said she planned to come.  Driving home, I thanked the Creator for the courage to face my fear.  And by the time I got home, I’d recovered from the situation with Jan.

Warren–a good friend and fellow CPS–called, and I had a great conversation with him.  Then I ate, since I hadn’t eaten at the church.  I always have coffee, while listening to my stereo (the filmscore of “The Dark Knight” this time), after each meal.  It’s a ritual, for me (we all need rituals in our lives).  And just as I began drinking my coffee, someone else called.  To my utter shock, it was Jan! 

I just listened, for a while, as she went into this long story.  She said she had been dating someone named Doug, for a long time, and was about to get engaged to him.  I asked why she didn’t tell me this in December, when I asked her out, instead of giving me her phone number.  She had no answer.  Then she explained that she really had been sick all week.  I asked why she’d been at the potluck dinner, obviously quite well.  She had no answer.  She went on with all this shit–contradicting herself several times–before I simply asked, “Jan, why have you called me?”

She said, “I’m calling to let you know that I really did lose your number–and that you had no right to say I was unchristian!”

I replied, “Jan, you didn’t lose my number.  You may have discarded it, but you didn’t lose it–you had three days to call me, and back-out.  And I didn’t say you were unchristian, but that your standing-me-up was.”

She kept on going, accusing me of yelling at her, last night, and whining about how hard her job (substitute-teaching (which I’ve done myself)) was.  She also told me that the only reason I went to SOLO Adults was to find a date, and that SOLO Adults was not for that purpose, etc.  It was almost as if she had called me because she had no one else to call!

Finally, I’d had enough.  I calmly asked, “Jan, why don’t you just come clean, and admit that you stood me up last night?”  And Jan  hung up on me, again.

Jan’s call tonight is a good example of a “trigger”.  A trigger is something that happens to you, over which you have no control, but (as I teach my students) you have to deal with.  Now here I was, feeling great after facing my fear by going to the potluck and accepting Jan’s presence there (though avoiding her).  And she called me, to convince me she hadn’t stood me up last night!

Of course I couldn’t drink my coffee.  I called Warren back, and he consoled me with some teachings of a Sufi master that were relevant.  This helped, and I thanked him.  Then I called Mrs. Dondeville, whom I have “adopted” as my mother.  Her take was that Jan, having seen me at the potluck, felt guilty.  But since she didn’t have the character to come clean, she was attempting to relieve her guilt by convincing me she wasn’t guilty!  And Mrs. Dondeville suggested another possibility–that Jan felt no guilt, but didn’t want anyone to think badly of her!

This having helped even more, I was able to make a fresh pot of coffee (the other had become stale), and drink it with ice, while continuing the filmscore of “The Dark Knight” (which–it being the most wonderful filmscore I’ve ever heard–I highly recommend)!

Now I’m drinking Lapsang souchong tea, while calmly writing this post.  I may not publish it.  In fact, I may delete all the entries involving Jan, because they could be triggers for me, in the future.  Yet on the other hand, they are testaments to the stress which single people regularly encounter–as well as the difficulty of recovering from a trigger.  And being stood-up is a trigger for anyone–not just someone with mental illness. 

So, in the interest of recovery, let me move on!  I have a beautiful new monitor for my computer now!  It’s one of those very thin, yet very wide ones, and it works wonderfully!  Mr. and Mrs. Dondeville, as well as their son Brandon (whom I met in college over twenty years ago) gave me this monitor yesterday.  I hooked it up today, and will use it from now on.  This screen is as large as the one on my television! 

My clothes in the dryer are ready, so I’ll attend to them.  Then I plan to continue drinking tea, while watching “Superman Returns” (I haven’t seen it yet). 

This is what recovery is about–moving through triggers, and other obstacles, for the purpose of living a happy, fulfilled life!

AN UPDATE ON A NO-DATE

After the SAGA meeting Wednesday, I finally approached Jan, and reminded her of what she said in that answering-machine message in December.  She agreed to meet with me.  I told her I didn’t have her number anymore–and she said she could call me.  So I gave her my phone number, as well as my last name.

Jan called later that same night.  We set up a date–we’d meet at Cracker Barrel this evening at 6:00.  I was surprised that she never called, to back out.  So I showed up at Cracker Barrel at 6:00, and waited thirty minutes.  She didn’t show. 

When I got home, I noticed Jan had left no message on my answering machine.  Then I called her, and asked what had happened.  She nonchalantly apologized, and said that she’d been sick all day, but had lost my phone number.  Of course, I told her that was nonsense, and she said I could believe what I wanted to believe.  Then I said, “For someone who prides herself on being a Christian, your behavior is most unchristian,” and she hung up on me.

When someone hangs up on you, this usually means that either you were shouting and/or swearing (which I was not)–or that you said something that person knows to be true, but is unwilling to admit.

Jan is a liar, a coward, and a hypocrite.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD, JAN!

There is another singles group, whose functions I’ve been attending, off-and-on, for over ten years.  This one is a church group.  It’s called SOLO Adults.  “SOLO” is an acronym, but nobody knows what it stands for!  It’s certainly appropriate though–both the women and the men are the most frigid I’ve ever known!  No one dates–in fact, these people take pride in being lonely! 

Anyway, there’s a woman named Jan, on whom I’ve been fixated since the first time I saw her.  She’s beautiful–dark eyes, dark hair–and very prim and proper (a quality which always arouses me, I guess because it’s such an opposite)! 

In December, I invited her to the next reading of my writers’ group, and hinted that I would like to treat her to dinner sometime (to which she replied, “Well–we’ll see”)  To my shock, she gave me her number!  When I called (I didn’t know it was a cellphone number), she said she was at a church meeting, and suggested I call her the next night, between 9 and 10 pm.  I did so, and (“Surprise, surprise, surprise!”) got her voicemail.  So I left a message, with my number.

Two days later, she called.  I happened to be asleep (when not working, I usually sleep till after 2 pm), and couldn’t wake up.  So she left a message on my answering machine.  She explained that she unexpectedly had to visit her daughter the night I called.  Then she said she wouldn’t be able to date me until January, because she was too busy with some “Angel Tree” bullshit at the church.

She lied–because she showed up, for the first time,  at one of my singles-group dinners the next Friday–too busy, my ass!  I was so nervous I had to drink three beers in a row, as fast as I could!  And even after she left early, for no apparent reason, I had to drink one more!

Jan hasn’t been to any more of my singles-group functions–I think the company is too much fun for her!  On January 10, she hosted a dinner (a monthly SOLO Adults event) at Miller’s Ale House.    The dinner went well (I found out later, from a mutual friend, that Jan did drink alcohol, although I didn’t notice if she did at this dinner); I had three beers with my pork ossobuco, and the rest of the group didn’t seem to mind my drinking (some of them drank a little too, though much less–I’m a very large man).  But Jan said nothing to me about dating.

I saw her again last Wednesday, at another singles group of that same church called SAGA (Single Adult Growth and Accountability).  When Doug (one of those “born-again” church-addicts, and apparently the director of SAGA) asked me how my job was going,  I answered–and went ahead and revealed that I had a diagnosed mental illness, myself (in explaining that most unique quality of a certified peer specialist). 

I probably killed any possibility of a date with Jan, right then, but I didn’t care.  In fact, Jan uttered “Praise the Lord!” as I discussed my being able to help the patients in a way the other staff members couldn’t (by relating to them from my personal experience with mental illness).  I simply replied, “Thank you,” yet said nothing after the meeting about going out with her.

But tomorrow night I plan to approach her, after the SAGA meeting, to gently remind her of what she’d said on my answering machine, and to request a dinner-date.  Now this is not the only reason I’m attending SAGA again–I’m not that pitiful (lol)!  But it is the primary one!

Of course, I expect her to decline–or accept, and change her mind at the last minute.  But this is the only way I’ll know for sure.

Still, I’m frustrated!  Unlike most men, I fall in love immediately!  If a woman is gorgeous, available, and seemingly virginal, I imagine a lifelong love affair with her, in a few minutes!  It’s like one of those fast-forward romance clips in a film–the kind in which the man and woman jump from first meeting to first phone call to first date to first kiss to first fuck,  in a series of  five-second scenes, to the accompaniment of music!  I should be a screenwriter!

So of course I’ve already planned out my lifelong relationship with Jan, who’s probably going to brush me off!  Then I’ll do the same with another woman!  This post may seem sad, but really I’m laughing all the way through it!

Well–considering the countless times I’ve gone through this same thing, and bounced back to go through it again, at least I can crow what a resilient son of a bitch I am!

INSIGHT-OUTSIGHT #1

As aforementioned, I’ve kept a personal journal, in spiral notebooks, since 1992.  My personal journal is not just for my eyes, but for the eyes of others–after my death.  Of course, it might be destroyed after my death (since much of it is very critical of family members, particularly my parents–and they do not tolerate criticism), but I have no control over that.

Yet in the past several years, I’ve written very little about my life in this journal–but have primarily copied quotes.  And some of these quotes are my own.  It just occurred to me that, since I now have a blog, I could include my own quotes in this public journal instead of my private one.  After all, these quotes are ideas I have that might provoke discussion–and I have always enjoyed discussion!

So here’s the first one.  I came up with it last week.  I include no quotation marks, since it’s my quote.  Feel free to comment on it, as well as future quotes of mine.  I can’t promise I’ll approve any particular comment, of course, but I can promise to be as open-minded as possible.  After all, that’s what discussion is for–sharing ideas, and considering those of others, for the purpose of intellectual and spiritual growth!

Only God can forgive those who do not ask to be forgiven.

LONG OVERDUE

I’m a member of a writer’s group, here in Pensacola.  Each month our President publishes a newsletter, in which she includes contributions from members.  I submitted the following essay to her last year.  She never indicated that she would not publish it in the newsletter–in fact, she encouraged me to continue sending it, each month, because she didn’t publish anyone’s writing during the Holidays.

Today I got an e-mail from her, explaining that she could not publish it in the January edition, because it was too controversial.  I replied that I understood, and I thanked her.  I wish I would have asked her why in the hell she waited so long to tell me this!  But I didn’t, and I’m not going to bother asking–it’s over.

Yet I can publish it here!  So for the first time, I’m sharing some of my hard-copy writing with you, and I thank you for reading it!  Please keep in mind that I wrote this in October, so it has been revised twice, to keep it up-to-date.  It is presented, as follows:

 

OBAMA, SAVE US!

Scott ____

I recently encountered the above in a blog.  My comment to the blogger pointed out that the President cannot save us.  Neither can Congress.  As Americans, we can only save ourselves, and each other.

I may seem to contradict myself, then, in insisting that the United States desperately needs a major third party, or an Independent President.  My first presidential vote was for Ross Perot, in 1992.  Both the Democratic and Republican Parties were already powerful enough to keep him down–and, as a result, are even more powerful now.

I disliked Clinton, with his politically-correct liberalism, and his eagerness to get this country into foreign conflicts in which it had no business.  So when conservative Bush said, in an interview, that he was not into “nation-building”, and that America was not the “World’s Policeman”, I was sold (out).  Bush would save us!  He would focus on domestic issues, and keep us out of military conflicts!

Of course I did not expect 9/11, and felt that our intervention in Afghanistan was a necessary exception.  But when Bush said we were going into Iraq; after automatically thinking, ‘Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam,’ I said to the TV screen, “What?  We’ve barely made progress in Afghanistan!  We haven’t even found Bin Laden yet!”  So in 2004, I voted for the Libertarian candidate, whose name I could not even pronounce.

Of course, that vote was wasted.  In 2006, though I had changed my voting registration to “Independent” (as it remains today), I realized I could not afford to cast an independent vote.  The Republican Party was dangerously out of control, and I had to vote Democrat for the Senate.  In other words, I could not hope for a third-party win; I had to begin pitting the Democratic and Republican Parties against each other, for the sake of balance.

I voted for McCain this time; simply because Congress was now Democratic, thus if Obama won, the Democratic Party could get dangerously out of control.  We do not vote for candidates, anymore, but for parties.  Obama is controlled by the Democratic Party, and McCain by the Republican Party.

There is no question that the United States–an empire, in all but name–is falling, like all empires before it.  In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “America is great because she is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  And one of the ways America is ceasing to be good is its increasing support of only two major political parties–each as powerful, extremist, and corrupt as the other.  The Democratic and Republican Parties will worsen, as time goes by.  And it is just a matter of time before this becomes unchangeable; unless America demands a major third party–one which takes only the best of Democratic and Republican, and fuses it into a moderate, reasonable, practical doctrine.

An ancient saying goes thus: “The man who knows, and knows he knows, is wise; follow him.  The man who knows, and does not know he knows, is asleep; wake him.  The man who does not know, and knows he does not know, is a child; teach him.  The man who does not know, and does not know he does not know, is a fool; shun him.”  America knows it is giving itself to a government controlled by two equally powerful, extremist, and corrupt political parties; but is asleep.

Let us wake it!

NO RIGHT TIME TO WRITE

Plato said, “A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.”  This quote really serves me well in social situations.  But does it apply to writing, as well as speaking?

I’ve been keeping a personal journal (in spiral notebooks), since 1992.  I started out trying to write daily entries, but found it impossible.  The same is true with this blog.  Some people can make daily entries, some can’t.  It just depends on the individual. 

My biggest difficulty, with my journal and my blog, is that I wait to be inspired.  I have an irrational idea that everything I write must be profound–that I am not allowed to write anything ordinary.  The consequence of this kind of thinking, of course, is that it keeps me from writing, at all! 

So to hell with it!  It’s about 2:10 am.  I ate a late supper (i.e. after midnight), which is usual for me.  But since I drink coffee after every meal, while listening to music (the soundtrack of “Interview with the Vampire” this time), I remain awake a little while! 

Yet now my Seroquel’s kicking-in, and I can’t keep my eyes open!   A moment ago, I started to save this, as a draft–but realized that would be giving-in to the aforementioned two-valued thinking!  So I’m posting it! 

And as for the Plato quote–I don’t care whether it applies to writing, or not!

THE CPS AND MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY

Two summers ago, I took the training, and passed the exam to become a certified peer specialist.  A certified peer specialist (CPS) is a person with mental illness, who works with others with mental illness, to aid in their recovery.  In fact, a CPS position is the only one that requires that the employee have a diagnosed mental illness!

Certified peer specialists work in many different mental health facilities–not limited to hospitals, but including hospitals.  I work in a hospital, specifically with male patients in the psychiatric unit.  I volunteer, since I’ve just begun this job–but will probably start getting paid within the next few months. 

Today was a first, for me–because my immediate supervisor (a paid, full-time CPS) had surgery (she will not be able to return to work until the 26th).  So I was on my own.  But I did very well!  I remembered everything I’d learned, thus far.  Specifically, I taught a class, for the patients. 

From now on, I will be teaching a different class every Tuesday and Thursday.  This is all I’m required to do, but I plan to do more.  I plan to spend one-on-one time with patients, to discuss their post- hospitalization plans–but especially to actively listen to them (for this is the greatest service).

Of all the jobs I’ve ever held, this is the most rewarding!  Last time I was hospitalized (about fourteen years ago), there was no such thing as a certified peer specialist.  Now I can provide these patients with help that was not available to me!

The CPS is on the same team as the psychiatrists, therapists/psychologists, and nurses–but has a special advantage.  Unlike the others, the CPS has a mental illness him/herself.  So he/she can relate better to the patients, thus fulfilling a  unique role–that of a mentor.  We cannot prescribe medications, conduct psychotherapy, or administer medication.  But we can teach classes on recovery, offer support and comfort–and most importantly, show the patients  they can recover too–and even become certified peer specialists!

Is recovery from mental illness finite?  No–it is a lifelong process, just as spiritual and intellectual growth are.  Does recovery mean the mentally-ill person can stop treatment, particularly stop taking psychiatric medication?  No–not for most of us.  There is no cure for mental illness–at least not yet.  For the rest of my life, I will have to take daily medication, and channel my thinking in a healthy direction.  

The following consensus statement, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines recovery better than I can.

Mental health recovery is a journey of healing and transformation enabling a person with a mental health problem to live a meaningful life in a community of his or her choice while striving to achieve his or her full potential.


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