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Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Diagnosis fit for a King


I was wondering since I started blogging on the issue of madness about what diagnosis one could give to a psychiatry, the psychiatry as science and academic domain. Surely I thought, they (the psychiatrists) did probably reflect on that profound existential question? Because when you deal day after day, year after year, century after century with diagnoses, then one would stop for a moment and ask him or herself – wait a moment, and how exactly do I come up in the picture?

You see, I did reflect on the issue. It started even to bother me to a certain extent as how can one reach the unreachable? True, there are groups (usually created by angry mental patients with whom I certainly sympathise), they are protests and organisations created against the psychiatry, but it is all in vain. It is like shouting into the wilderness, because for a start, some things from the psychiatry do help, not all of them are idiots and most importantly, they don’t even listen to all this critique. Why should they?

As Nietzsche once asked the same question but in a more philosophical way: “Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way. He conceals things.”

Funnily enough, he answered the question about the state of psychiatry today. The psychiatry conceals things.

Let me give you an example. For instance, if you are mental, go to your doctor (the psychiatrist) and offer to switch your medication to Seroquel, or if you are already on Seroquel, then ask to switch to Zyprexa. I am ready to make a bet with you on some good money that the first reaction from the doctor will be: ‘What is the name again?’ Before he reaches to that enormous book of theirs which I assume to be the dictionary of different pills.

You see my point? They don’t know themselves what they are doing exactly. Don’t take me wrong, I am not against the psychiatry and I met a few very nice people from the profession, but lately I started to get this impression, that they are bored to death, all of them.

We need to shake things up a little bit. Because as Robbie Williams sings: “And in my confusion I have the right to reign”, the psychiatry is based on confusion (watch Robbie’s video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKt9-SWKDvg).

Take their manual on diagnoses and you will see my point. I started to yawn on the second page.

However, when I googled ‘diagnosis for a psychiatry’, the first item on the list (funnily enough) appeared to be ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’, and so, reluctantly at first, I decided to come up with the diagnosis for the profession from their own ‘A La Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (but of course, Proust is much more interesting than the manual, even if I never arrived to the last volume).

The diagnosis was looking at me right at my face. Gazing at me intensively, because it is something I am familiar with myself. I even chuckled because it was so obvious!

The diagnosis fit for the science of psychiatry is called DELUSION OF GRANDEUR.

To spare you from the ordeal of going through their diagnostic and manual, I will just re-adjust slightly the definition given by the free online dictionary. Delusion of grandeur is believing that you are much greater, more powerful and more influential than you are.

So, for instance, if I tell the psychiatrist that I am a Queen, he prescribes me an anti-psychotic, because he has more power. But essentially we suffer from the same: I believe in my superiority and so does the psychiatrist.

Watch the amazing video by The Avalanches ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8BWBn26bX0&feature=kp)
 
(picture found on juneshlam.com)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tips (While being mental) – 1


It looks like my post on depression was the most popular one. The absence of comments whatsoever demonstrates it quite clearly…

I did get a lot of private messages related to it though, thanking me for positing about the issue. Which led me to an obvious conclusion that instead of my philosophical abracadabra on the substance of madness (I will still talk some gibberish about it on occasions), people with mental problems simply want more advice.

As Nietzsche once said: “There is nothing in philosophy which could not be said in everyday language.”

And so, I will start with the following question. How to have fun when one is stuck in a hospital? (The psychiatric one, that’s it). Mind you, some of my tips will be good for life outside the hospital as well. But I am mostly concerned about those who think that if they find themselves in that place, then it means that they can’t enjoy it, life in general and that it is the end of the world.

And no, let me tell you. One can actually have a blast. The right attitude is the trick in the matter. It took me ten years, but I arrived there eventually.

For instance, a simple tip in case you can’t leave the hospital (usually, it means that you are sectioned), is to ask for a bath. They all have one and it is your right to soak in. Ask for the bubble foam (all hospitals stock it), take a magazine, or a book and go for some relaxation. I can assure you that you won’t be able to drown since nurses will check on you every couple of minutes. I used to have them five times a day.

However, if you can escape or leave without supervision, and you are short of money, then go straight to the biggest department store. Try to wear something presentable (borrow from another patient if it is a problem), and smile, smile, smile. Approach a make-up counter with a bored saleswoman working behind and you might end up with a total make-over. Get all samples which come your way. And if you are lucky you might stumble upon a promotion. On my last expedition (it was at Marks & Spencer) I drunk so much wine that I forgot that I was still at the hospital and returned home. Which leads me to another tip. I was driven back to the hospital by taxi, so desperate they were to have me back.

That was years ago, I have to say and I shall conclude with my final advice.

Do accept some medication. I know, it is like admitting that you belong wholeheartedly to the mental club, but on a right dose, you won’t lose too much. For instance, I can still see all my visions and hear all my voices, but we came to an amicable agreement that at night we all go to sleep.

And it’s better to enjoy a nice bath at home. I add to it some baby oil, which makes water nice and soft. And while I am in it, and by some miracle, on my own, I put on Robbie Williams’s Feel and sing along. I think that his lyrics do reflect the matter quite well:

Come and hold my hand

 I wanna contact the living

 Not sure I understand

 This role I've been given

 I sit and talk to God

 And he just laughs at my plans

 My head speaks a language

 I don't understand

 

(picture found on animaltalk.us)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Note on Depression


One day this week I woke up in a very bad mood and even started to think about whether my diagnosis is not proper at the end (more on the matter of diagnoses can be found on: http://porcupineswisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/to-be-or-not-to-be-in-dialogue-with.html). Bipolar after all is when there is this fluctuation in mood, and I am not talking about spoiling my day once I start reading comments about Russia in the Guardian.

No, I am talking about a really bad mood when you feel like you want to spend the whole day in bed and see absolutely nobody.

Once, when I was properly depressed (this was when I emerged from the hospital for the first time with the whole reassurance from the doctors that something was definitely wrong with me) I spent an entire month stuck in my apartment in Amsterdam. My mom urged me on the phone to go out and do something, and that the best thing to do was to go to the cinema. The advice was actually good, only for some reason I chose to see that movie about the life of Jesus Christ by Mel Gibson and emerged from the cinema even more depressed than ever.

It was a friend of mine who literally saved me. Despite all my refusals to meet with her or her friends or anyone else for that matter, she just came to my house and dragged me with her to a party. And it was there that I had a moment of clarity. I was standing in the middle of a crowd, slightly over-weight due to a wrong medication (it was that bloody risperidone, when the doctor thought I was suffering from schizophrenia), with absolutely no energy, loved by nobody and stuck in the role of a financial analyst of banks, a job I ended up hating with all my heart.

“Wow, you must be so lucky,” a girl told me when I answered her question about my job.

And looking at her I thought: if some people think that my life must be cool then I probably should live up to my status.

In reality, she just made me laugh. She, obviously, had no idea that I was a psychiatric patient, that I hated my job and that I was struggling with my life in general. And so, it was funny. If you are a financial analyst of banks, some people will still envy you, no matter that. In our society of capitalism, it alll comes down to roles.

I changed jobs since then, as well as countries, aspirations, my medication and my weight. But I will always remember that day. Because I learned a very important lesson then. The best way to deal with depression is to get out, even if it seems like the worst idea on earth. Or if you are stuck in the house, then start baking (there is a very good recipe in the Guardian for cinnamon cakes: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/may/22/how-to-bake-perfect-cinnamon-buns).

I also found that reading poems can help as well. Especially if it is written by people who understand what it means to be depressed or feel bad. It is not a secret anymore that depression affects a considerable amount of population. I like the poem by Susan Coolidge called ‘New Every Morning’:

Every day is a fresh beginning.

Listen my soul to the glad refrain.

And, spite of old sorrows

And older sinning,

Troubles forecasted

And possible pain,

Take heart with the day and begin again.

 

And finally, listening to some music does heal the soul. I do agree with Nietzsche who said that “without music, life would be a mistake.”

Don’t stop the music by Rihanna usually does the trick for me.

(picture found on nhs site)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A note on delusions


We all have to deal with them on occasions. A recent example involves a certain Robbie Williams who assumed that he met a certain Maradona.
 

It appeared, however, that Maradona wasn’t real, but was a look-alike.

So, what Robbie Williams experienced was actually ‘a hallucination’. But it can also be put into the domain of delusions. An entry in Wikipedia defines delusion as “a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.” So, when Robbie Williams met Maradona (or look-alike) he, in fact performed a delusion of grandeur, which some compare to narcissism. Not only did he truly believe that Maradona was real, he also put the picture on his site, proving to everyone that he is not right in his head.

However, if we look closely at the picture of Robbie Williams and Maradona, I can say with a hundred percent certainty that it is indeed Maradona. So, when I say this, am I delusional as well?

This is a question indeed. It reminds me of the line from the song by the SunPilots, such as “Deep in a forest of a penicillin mind, where all my illusions are dissolving in deconstructed time” (the song can be listened to on http://thesunpilots.bandcamp.com/track/chapter-iii-god-science). So basically, what they are saying is that it is up to us to decide about the state of our own delusions.

I am writing all this because today I decided to tackle one of my past delusions. I am saying ‘past’ because I changed my mind on the matter after I recovered from one of my psychotic episodes.

The delusion was the following: “In my past life I was Queen Victoria.” I discarded this belief because when I thought about it, it wasn’t following the stream of my other past lives. In one of these I was Catherine the Great, and so being also the Queen Victoria appeared to be slightly too much.

However, the picture of Robbie Williams with Maradona made me to return to this delusion and consult some oracles on the matter.

Since I acquired recently some Meditation cards from the Buddhist centre, asking them for an advice seemed like a perfect choice, indeed, since they do believe in reincarnation.

And curiously enough, the card ‘Our Precious Human Life’ fell from the pack, informing me that:

“Our human life is precious, rare and immensely meaningful. Due to their previous deluded views that denied the value of spiritual practice, those who have taken rebirth as animals, for example, now have no opportunity to understand or practice Dharma” (Geshe Kelsang Gyatso 2013).

So, the answer seems pretty much obvious. In one of my past lives I was an animal.

Something which I knew already.

But just when I thought I reached some conclusion, Madonna sung in the background:

“If you were the Mona Lisa

 You'd be hanging in the Louvre

 Everyone would come to see you

 You'd be impossible to move

 It seems to me is what you are

 A rare and priceless work of art”

Mona Lisa??? I will meditate on that one for now.
 (picture found on bipolarhappens.com)

Monday, May 19, 2014

To be or not to be? In dialogue with Shakespeare


To be or not to be – this was the question I faced once while dealing with a particular situation. I started to talk about in my post on the manual for psychiatrists about how to ‘perform’ diagnoses (http://porcupineswisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-matter-with-manual-for-being-mental.html).

So, the problem I dealt with (while being stuck in a psychiatric hospital) was how to avoid being labelled as ‘schizophrenic’. It was still my first episode, spreading leisurely over two months in a row, and thus, I wasn’t yet properly aware about what to talk with psychiatrists about and what not.

The doctor spotted me. He caught me addressing the void. Obviously, it wasn’t just the void, but Pythagoras who was telling me some mathematics:

"The square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the square of the other two sides,” he was saying, in reply to my worry that all the knowledge of algebra and geometry I ever had I had buried in the ground by chilling out with two of my best friends in the park (and smoking cigarettes) instead of attending the classes at school.

The bigger problem, however, was that while I could see the Pythagoras, my doctor could not.

“With whom are you talking?” The doctor asked, looking suspiciously concerned.

To my greatest shame I didn’t know at that time who the Pythagoras was exactly. I had to Google him, later, when I was researching all the voices in my head.

So, I just answered the first thing which came into my mind:

“He says that he was a genius mathematician.”

“Mhh, is it so?” The doctor touched his chin in a pensive note and went to attend to his business.

And only the next day did I discover what the business was about. He shared it during the interview with my mom and me.

“I think it is schizophrenia,” he announced (with a sad face) to the even sadder face of my mother.

“Shit,” was a glimpse of sanity which passed through my head over the matter.

And so, once I saw the nurse which was new (and kind) in the room of staff, I asked her whether I could use the internet to have a look at my finances.

Once in front (tips as to how to have the best of time in a psychiatric hospital will follow in due term), I quickly googled schizophrenia (I have to admit that I also Facebooked that I was Anne Frank to all my friends, but more on this later).

Right, schizophrenia.

It didn’t look promising. Not at all. From what I could quickly decipher, people with such a diagnosis were the modern pariah of the humankind. In a politically-correct way, but still, the conclusion was pretty much clear. No one wants to have such a diagnosis in our current times.

And so, after reflecting on this for quite some time, I decided to be smarter the next time. As long as I wouldn’t mention any voices I would be all right.

And that’s how I obtained the official diagnosis of bipolar disorder (where they put all those mental people they have problems to label properly).

Or if I rephrase The Pythagoras: to put it concisely, the square of my insanity is equal to the sum of the square of the insanity of other religions.

So, what does it have to do with Shakespeare, you might ask?

And well, I think that the following line of Hamlet (the voice of my bipolar disorder) describes the matter quite well:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question—

Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

 The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,

 Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

 And by opposing end them?”

Or to put it another way: who is the smartest – the doctor or the patient?

After all, we still keep on walking, as Britney Spears sings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elueA2rofoo
(picture from gloverandsmith.co.uk)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Out of the closet and into the open


In my previous post I started to talk about the problem of disclosing one’s mental problem to other people. It was rather unsuccessful because somehow I ended up starting (!) to reflect on the meaning of the statement of Nietzsche  - ““The belief in truth is precisely madness”. (some thoughts are on http://porcupineswisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-problem-with-mental-unburdening.html)

But that’s a thing with quotes like this: a simple sentence can lead to the whole stream of thoughts. As Nietzsche himself commented on the process: “A certain musical disposition of mind comes first, and after follows the poetical idea.”

You see? Here I am again into Nietzsche.

But telling to other people about one’s diagnosis is madness in itself, isn’t?

Let me try to explain.

A few people who know about my little secret (not anymore, obviously, after I started this blog) ask me sometimes the following question:

“How is your bipolar disorder?”

I have to say that for a moment or so I am lost in ideas about my answer. With such obvious figures of authority as bosses, psychiatrists and colleagues, the reply is easy: “It is doing all right.”

But on occasions when I am not dealing with the mighty I try to answer differently, in the like of: “It is on holiday”, or “I left it at home” (a no, no if the question comes from a psychiatrist), or “recovering from a hangover”. I can’t say it to my mom, because then follows half an hour conversation about whether I am still on my pills (yes – mad doesn’t equal being stupid), whether I sleep well (yes) and whether I am not overspending my money (mhh).

But while this kind of reaction is to be expected from my mom (of course, she worries), I noticed that talking to other people about my bipolar disorder in abstract terms tends to confuse them (they, obviously, forget about the formulation of the question in the first place).

I can see it in their faces. There is a moment of silence or so, followed by either more silence (these people then never ask me this question again), or by a joke from those who do have some humour.

And this leads me to the following deliberation. How should I look at my bipolar disorder? Is it a she? A he? It? Or an entity in a totally different dimension? Indeed, can it be abstract?

Because you see, when someone asks me about how my bipolar disorder is doing, an image of the Ten of Wands comes into my mind. Ellen Dugan describes it in the following way:

“An old man is travelling away from us and down a dirt path towards a castle. He is carrying a bundle of ten blooming hawthorn wands over his left shoulder. The old man is slightly hunched over, as if his burden is just a tad too heavy for him to manage.” (Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan).

So, I decided to unburden this lot and give my bipolar disorder a name! It might confuse the other voices in my head, but on the other hand, I might end up with quite a cheerful crowd.

After some thoughts on the matter I decided to name it ‘Hamlet’. I went first for Pythoness (an oracle from Delphi) but decided against it, because apparently she was prone to talk some gibberish, and if I face this problem every time I call her name, I might indeed end up in that place (the psychiatric hospital).

So, Hamlet it is. I think that one of his lines does describe the matter quite well:

"I essentially am not in madness,

 But mad in craft."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The problem with mental unburdening


There is no other way I could think about the matter of coming out of the closet.

You know…the moment when you decide to share that you are mental with someone from your social circle.

This is less of a problem when you are in the hospital. Every time I was undergoing treatment for my bipolar disorder there were all these sad faces around, mostly from my relatives, but also occasionally from strangers, checking on whether I finally understood that I was mad.

I thought about it. In fact I thought about it hard. I hoped that after my first episode it would go away, but since it stuck with me, I had to rethink my position.

You see, there is a profound quote available on madness.

“The belief in truth is precisely madness” said Nietzsche ages ago.

Now, apart from the fact that Nietzsche was mad himself (irrelevant, but still…), the fundamental question remains the same.

If doctors tell me that I am bipolar, and sad relatives nod in agreement, should I believe the doctors, the relatives and in my diagnosis?

I will start with the diagnosis.

If you refer to my post on the matter with the manual for being mental (http://porcupineswisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-matter-with-manual-for-being-mental.html), you will see that I doubt that I received the right diagnosis (I will write a post about it). No, I should correct this sentence: I received the diagnosis I decided was the best under my circumstances. I went for it. Schizophrenia has such negative connotations in our society, that I reckoned that it is better to join the masses of those who provoke tears, rather than fright.

But so, going back to my argument. If I know already that the diagnosis might be wrong, should I then believe in other things?

Another powerful saying from Nietzsche argues the following: “…and if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” This reminds me of Hexagram 48 from the I Ching Oracle: “To be in accord with the time, you are told to: go to the well!” (Ritsema and Karcher, 1994).

However, while the hexagram 48 was the first which came into my mind while reflecting on what exactly Nietzsche was trying to say, he was probably thinking about Hexagram 29, which is often translated as ‘abyss’. It means plunging into the water and accepting yourself as you are.

So, basically, if I gaze long enough into the bipolar disorder, the bipolar disorder will gaze back.

I think that I just (finally!) made one successful connection between The Chinese Oracle and the Tarot. My guess (a humble one) is that Hexagram 29 corresponds to the Hanged Man, which also means acceptance of one’s fate. I read that someone connected it to the Devil, but I am not so sure.
 

I seriously departed from the subject of ‘when do you announce to other people’ that you are mad and will have to come back to it.

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Voices in my head…


Since my last post was on some voices, I decided that it is time to introduce one of them.

I have several (depending on which religion I follow at any given moment) but since at this moment I am into Native American Wisdom, I am proud to present The Porcupine.

I know, I know, I wish it was someone more glamorous like a Horse or a Buffalo, but well, one has to embrace any blessings which come into one’s life, am I right?

So, The Porcupine…since it is the anxiety week syndrome (according to Mental Health Awareness Week), he (yes, my Porcupine is a he) pushed me to have a small dialogue.

Porcupine, if we check his qualities in the Native American teachings, represents the state of innocence and wonder. And so, when he is anxious – it’s one hell of a problem!

For instance, while I try to listen to some music or read Foucault (for some reason, he is especially interested in this character), here he comes:

‘Where is the Magical Raven?’

“I don’t know", I try to ignore him at these moments as he is obsessed with the Magical Raven.

“We need to find him!”

“He retired, just like God”, I try to answer to no avail.

“Something is wrong with this world,” The Porcupine doesn’t give up, “why everyone is afraid? What happened to creativity? Why do all these corporations rule the world!”

“Karl Marx already pointed to this problem,” I answer rather reluctantly, because with this speed I will never read anything of Foucault, I must tell you.

“Oh, no, please, don’t start reading him again. I can’t follow,” The Porcupine calms down for some time. (Mentioning Karl Marx always does the trick).

But five minutes later he is back, right when I am about to figure out whether madness is still socially constructed or moved to another domain.

“We NEED to DO something!” The Porcupine jumps on my head which scares me slightly. But not quite, since I know that the Porcupine is a very nice creature.

“Okay, okay,” I give up. “We will start looking for the Magical Raven.”

And so, when some individuals argue that people with schizophrenia are chased by demons, I have a strong objection to make.

No, they are not chased by demons. They are chased by the spirits from the magical world.

 

Insanity in individuals is rare- but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The matter with the manual for being mental


Today I finally found some time to have a look at The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (not made for those suffering from dyslexia, that’s for sure). Just writing down the name took me a couple of minutes, distracted by the fact that a certain Taylor Lautner started to follow me on twitter. I had to google his name, since I know him more as a werewolf from the Twilight, but yes, it’s him. Just checking that he is still following me…yes, he is.

So, the manual. It is quite a task. I would put it in the same basket as reading the Bible, at least for me. In other words, it is a PhD material. But since I do have already one, I decided to approach it in the same manner I tackle ‘War and Peace’. I read some extracts.

The matter which concerned me mostly about the manual was as to why all psychiatric patients hate it to such an extent? You see, I don’t have anything against psychiatry as such. If I knew when I was choosing what to study that I would join the mental crowd, then it’s where that I would definitely dedicate my time. Most psychiatrists do want to help, but after having looked at the manual, I understand now slightly better as to why they are often unable to execute any help in action.

For instance, let’s have a quick look at the segment describing the bipolar disorder. That’s me, and I was, obviously, interested in that particular diagnosis, since it is what I have officially as a title.

It has several subsections: ‘major depressive disorder’, ‘hypomanic disorder’, ‘manic episode’, ‘mixed episode’.

I do have (truly) a much better idea now as to why most of the psychiatrists I had to deal with had a slightly disturbed, concerned look on their faces. You see, the definition says that the disorder (whatever is the subsection) has to ‘cause distress’. And so, my answer that ‘I feel extremely happy’ (even after having received my diagnosis) seems to confuse the doctors.

I am not surprised as the manual is written as if the whole Candor party (I burrow the term from a remarkable book by Veronica Roth) participated in the task. Up to the point, but extremely boring.

It doesn’t say, for instance, what exactly happens in the heads of mental patients. Not even close.

My happiness with the diagnosis is due to the fact that I avoided Schizophrenia by being super smart.

But I will tell more about it in due term. Voices in my head tell me to stop for now and check whether Taylor Lautner is still following me on twitter.

I am a classic Schizophrenic, you see, and I managed to fool the psychiatrists (except one out of eleven), as well as their one thousand pages bloody manual.

Ha-ha-ha.

 
P.S. After checking my Twitter, not only Taylor Lautner is still following me. He also posted a semi-naked picture of himself! Wtf?


Monday, May 12, 2014

Eurovision’s madness


It is with a great interest that I discovered the current debate about the Eurovision song contest.

I have to admit that I missed the TV translation because I was too busy participating in the comments under an article in the Guardian discussing whether a revolution is possible.

That’s what happens when one is stuck in defending one’s own argument.

I missed a small revolution happening elsewhere.

But the news caught up with me so to speak. There are some posts on Facebook, there is an article about it in the Guardian, there are some interesting tweets.

The theme of this year Eurovision, as it seems, was the theme of outsiders. You know, it has been the subject throughout the art during centuries. The question which bothered many great artists (for instance, Velazquez, Rubens, etc) was: ‘how do we portray weird people in a tolerant way’?

There are no sketches available from this year contest, but there are words, as well as some particular noises.

A tweet accused this year’s winner of being a bloke. This was a powerful statement, but it missed the point. Yes, he is a bloke, but he dresses slightly differently. It is like saying that boys can’t wear pink, because girls wear it.

Another interesting sound came from the audience. It was the booing every time Russia got some points.

This is particularly alarming, especially for me, as I thought that my biggest problem was being mental. Now, it appears that being Russian puts me in a greater danger than the whole business of navigating being bipolar in our over-controlled world.

But the main concern which bothers me while reading about the Eurovision contest is the rise of intolerance, hidden behind the politically-correct doctrine.

Weirdness, being different, being bi (be it bipolar, bisexual or anything else) is still greeted with suspicion by a society marching like robots in our intolerant world.

And a poem by James Berry comes into my mind:

Outsider

If you see me lost on busy streets,

my dazzle is sun-stain of skin,

I'm not naked with dark glasses on

saying barren ground has no oasis:

it's that cracked up by extremes

I must hold self

together with extreme pride.

 

 

If you see me lost in neglected

woods, I'm no thief eyeing trees

to plunder their stability

or a moaner shouting at air:

it's that voices in me rule

firmer than my skills, and sometimes

among men my stubborn hurts

leave me like wild dogs.

 

 

 

If you see me lost on forbidding

wastelands, watching dry flowers

nod, or scraping a tunnel

in mountain rocks, I don't open

a trail back into time:

it's that a monotony

like the Sahara seals my enchantment.

 

 

If you see me lost on long

footpaths, I don't set traps

or map out arable acres:

it's that I must exhaust twigs

like limbs with water divining.

 

 

If you see me lost in my sparse

room, I don't ruminate

on prisoners and falsify

their jokes, and go on about

prisons having been perfected

like a common smokescreen of mind:

it's that I moved

my circle from ruins

and I search to remake it whole.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The State of Madness in Ukraine…and the rest of the world


It is hard to see what is happening in the great country of Ukraine because one thing I do know from schizophrenia is that it is a condition which is difficult to treat. It is especially painful to see people struggling there, while several demons attack the nation in masses (we all know their names).

But what is particularly devastating is seeing people, nations, languages and faiths turning against each other, all at once.

‘We have to take sides!’ – Everyone seems to be proclaiming without actually realising that the only side which can bring a peaceful solution is to recognise that both Russians and Ukrainians, as well as their respective countries, are both beautiful in their own right.

But no, everyone, it seems, needs to put a small piece of fury into the melting point. ‘The Ukrainian language comes from the Latin!’ said one politician, only highlighting the vulnerabilities of people whose language is spoken by a relatively small population. ‘Russia was born in Kiev!’ answer Russians, who feel that while trying to rebuild a country from ruins, they missed NATO moving firmly to the east.

When I see all these people turning against each other, becoming enemies after decennia of being friends, I can only cry. Half of my family is in Ukraine, while the other is in Russia. I remember how I envied my cousin who went to school in Ukraine and could speak Ukrainian. It could never cross my mind that one language is better than another, or that one nation has more reasons to exist than someone else.

A real revolution is not about taking things by force. The revolution can only happen when all people unite over different faiths, languages and eating preferences.

To conclude I would like to cite two poems. One is from a great Russian poet, and another is from a great Ukrainian poet.

"Why is this century worse than those others?

Maybe, because, in sadness and alarm,

It only touched the blackest of the ulcers,

But couldn't heal it in its span of time."

(Anna Akhmatova)

“You’re lucky children, to be born

In such a peaceful time, to live so carefree.

You listen to my talk of past wild times

As if it were some frightening fairy tale.

Yes, children! Once our beautiful free world

Seemed like a prison to people then alive.


And brothers fought each other, waging war.

But do you understand that word called war?

Those days they gave fratricide the name of war.

Called it saving truth, liberty, faith and power -

And all that bloodshed they said was heroism!”

(Lesya Ukrainka)
 

Assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatohu

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Madness and zombielism

I shared a term today in the comments under one of the articles in the Guardian newspaper and decided that I should position it in terms of madness. So, the term I shared is zombielism and I revealed it under the article which discussed whether revolution is possible nowadays.
To be clear what I think about the possibility of revolution in our current society I should first define zombielism.
Zombielism is a virus affecting the current population of the world (mostly in the Western Hemisphere) in a sneaky and intelligent way. It is the force through which capitalism operates in society as we gradually moved into the age of liquid modernity (I borrow the term from a remarkable book by Zygmunt Bauman). It is a condition affecting us in such a way that it is hardly noticeable, or in the case that it is noticeable, the main culprit remains invisible (capitalism), and that’s why it is a state in which the world population finds itself, happily and uncomplainingly, while being half-asleep.
I do hope that it emerges quite clearly that I don’t believe that revolution is possible. Well, not now, not when most of us are asleep.
But so, regarding madness. When I was a couple of times in a psychiatric hospital, I did hear similar thoughts to mine coming from the patients. They all say, and in unison that the current world is mad.
Pondering over the issue, and in particular, over why people who say it are considered as mad, I think that I did come up with a spectacular explanation to the problem. For instance, if you say it behind the doors, quietly behind the scenes, or share it in a caravan-style critique (to borrow another term from Bauman) under an article – nothing will happen. They are obviously watching who is saying what exactly. However, if you go out and start saying it aloud and on top of it, try to organise a small revolution – then you are considered as being mad.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Religious preferences and being mad

While still on the subject of applying for jobs, there is another question which bothers me during the submission process. It is formulated in the following way: ‘What are your religious preferences?’
I have to say that I do ponder very seriously about the question each time I apply for a job. Several concerns pass through my head, simultaneously. First, why do they ask me this question? There is no option such as ‘being a militant islamist’, and so I wonder why all this fuss. There is another possibility available such as ‘Prefer not to say’ which frankly makes me suspicious. We live in the twenty-first century where the politicians reassure us that we can believe in whatever we want.
Obviously, not.
The biggest struggle I face though when confronted with the question (and it does shake me each time I see it) is deciding indeed about what particular faith I hold at the moment. You see, it does change, depending on the progress of my bipolar disorder. I am a Christian at core as I do believe in the good and evil, but I also see some things occasionally which challenge me in my assumptions. For instance, a fairy appeared to me in my garden recently which made me wonder whether I don’t have some Pagan inclinations in parallel.
Hard to say, you see.
I feel like Gideon Mack from the book by the same name in these instances. And this leads me to the following question: are we supposed to be absolutely firm in our beliefs or are we allowed to ponder over them occasionally, change them and well, laugh at the distortions? But they wouldn’t ask this question if it was allowed, would they?

Mad people and Jobs

I wasn’t thinking about the JOB from the Bible but it kind of strikes a chord. Here in the UK, if you need to apply for a job, you have to follow a questionnaire. I am always in trouble filling it in, as it’s like talking with the devil (I did meet the character, just so you know…in real life). But so, after asking the questions about the career, education, etc, comes THE QUESTON: do you have a disability?
I always answer a ‘no’ because my first reaction to that question is like someone is asking me whether I am a retard (but in a politically-correct way). You know, if at least they would put a blank space next to it- to fill in- I could say: yes, I am bipolar, and no, it is not a disability, it is a gift. But there is no blank space, so I try to be cautious. WHY DO THEY ASK ME THIS QUESTION? But it doesn’t end up there. On the next page (after I put a definite ‘no’ already) they repeat a question, but in different words: ‘do you think you have a disability which corresponds to…blah-blah-blah (I feel like applying for a random job now just to make sure what kind of law they mention). This, to be totally honest with you, makes me feel paranoid.
Why do they want to know the answer to the question by asking it twice? Who is a retard here, I wonder?
But so, going back to jobs. Of course, if you are in a reasonable state of mind, and not in psychosis (which happens to me occasionally), you always answer a ‘no’. You know, all that politically-rubbish shit about being against discrimination, but the reality just shows: you don’t say you are mad if you want to get a job. Just an example. All is nice and rosy with all this anti-discrimination policy, but let’s have a careful look at dwarves. Where are they? What happened to them? Apart from being portrayed as clowns in the Wall-Street movie? So, that might be a paranoid talking in me, but I am kind of wary about the recruitment process in this country. On the other hand, I just said to the whole world that I am mad, so basically I decided that I don’t give a fuck. Yes, I wonder what will happen if I answer ‘yes’ to both questions about disability? Will I be greeted with a standing ovation at the interview? Or with a bottle of champagne?