When All We’re Left With Are The Yellow Pages And A Broken Phone

Out driving — photo by me, April 10, 2008


Since he deleted his blogs ‘Marty’ and I have exchanged a few emails… the thing is, I don’t really know ‘Marty’ (I’ve changed his name for this post). I only looked at his blog occasionally. But I think I recognize ‘Marty’.

A friend of mine… a former best-friend of mine took a left turn about ten years ago, now he thinks the American government have set up concentration camps all across their country, ready for the coming coup in November. My friend watches planes crisscross the Ottawa skyline, but for him their contrails aren’t exhaust it’s chemicals being sprayed over all of us… he’s not clear as to the why.

My friend spends his days getting high and staring into a camera and speaking about global-wide conspiracies to a mostly nonexistent audience.

‘Marty’s’ blog was almost entirely taken up with anti-psychiatry conspiracies. There were fifteen or twenty pages made up of proof of a cabal of psychiatrists who take people off the streets and against their will subject them to ECT treatments and medication regimes. Thousands and thousands of people have been subjected to these experiments.

I think we all have some aspects of this before we come to treatment, and even for some time afterwards. And I think it gets much, much worse when all we have is ourselves to act as both speaker and audience.

We don’t know who we are, how fucking crazy we are, until we start saying the things in our head out loud. Until we place ourselves in situations where we have to talk, speak our opinions, to people and not just to the three other voices in our head.

And the more we’re alone the more we limit ourselves to having conversations solely in our heads.

There’s a program called Futurama, it’s done by the same people who put The Simpsons on TV… only it’s funnier. Tonight the cable station it plays on started playing it from Episode One again. The difference between the first episodes and the last episodes are almost like watching a different program. As a series progresses it becomes a parody of itself. Each season the hijinks get a little wackier, the characters get more ridiculous. Each action and reaction piles on top of the last until you have a doctor on “ER” killed off by having a helicopter land on him and explode. Or Sam wanting desperately to marry Diane on “Cheers”… or Fonzie jumping a shark in “Happy Days”.

These are not natural evolutions. These are situations forced into very narrow parameters which only make sense within the parameters. These are situations based around very limited casts, which then limit the story lines. The cast of “Cheers” could never meet new people, so their situations were limited to interactions with the cast.

Being on our own is the same thing. Instead of getting out and interacting with new people and expanding our understanding of who we are, people in our situation speak only to ourselves. And after time stuck within those narrowest of parameters we become parodies of ourselves.

I think the biggest problem for myself and ‘Marty’ and my friend, is no one listens to us like we do to ourselves. Nobody reacts to us in ways which make it easy for us to react better than ourselves.

I’ve known my friend since high school. It’s easy for me to remember how funny he used to be. When I see him now I see a parody of that person. Even when he does speak with other people now it’s in speeches, like he’s orating to a class. He has been talking to himself for so long I’m not sure if he’ll really ever be able to have a normal Out Loud conversation again. It’s like he has talked himself into being a True Believer five years after walking into a church looking for the bathroom.

I’ve never met ‘Marty’, I didn’t even know he was schizophrenic until he told me in an email not too long ago. But from what I’ve seen of his blogs, and from the mini-conversations we’ve had online, ‘Marty’ is funny and intelligent. He was able to poke back when poked.

But when we blog, when we write to people we’ve never met and never seen, we’re not really writing to them… we’re writing to who we think you are. To the attributes we’ve assigned to you, I don’t know what makes people I blog with smile or cock their eyebrow. I’ve never seen your mouth move. And ‘Marty’ doesn’t know who I am anymore than I know him.

But I do know when we’re in pain and no one listens or gives us the attention we think we deserve, we moan a little louder, our limp gets deeper… we complain a little louder. Now what happens if you’re a daily drug user, like my friend, or if you’re delusional like people with schizophrenia, and you take the time line to years… it may start at “I’m not getting the attention I deserve” but without the proper treatment, or family or even just friendship, it becomes “there must be a reason why…”. And when you can’t see a rational reason why, then the irrational makes sense because there still Has to be a reason.

When I was untreated and trapped inside the manic depression I could never leave the house, find a bus, get to a clinic, explain myself coherently, get a prescription, bus to a pharmacy, fill the prescription out, go home and take the pills regularly. I could barely brush my teeth.

Right now ‘Marty’ is an untreated schizophrenic who believes psychiatry is wrong, his offline support system is almost non-existent and he has deleted almost all of his online identity. I’ve checked online and couldn’t find any support groups not related to the Canadian Mental Health Association, that doesn’t mean they’re not there, but it does mean ‘Marty’ will have to look through the phone book and start calling…

There should be more we can do…



About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in crazy people with no pants, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to When All We’re Left With Are The Yellow Pages And A Broken Phone

  1. dw says:

    futurama’s tha bomb. i wish they’d rerun sealab 2021 episodes. boohoo.

    “There should be more we can do…”


  2. exactscience says:

    There should be more available.

    I think you are right, it is important to remember we don’t know who we are blogging to. Not in a wary, stay safe sense, but in the way you pointed out, we need not to try and understand everyone through our perspective alone. I am mincing my words – maybe someone will make sense of them.

  3. thordora says:

    I wish there was more. They always say that they help is there if you look for it-but looking is usually the headfuck.

    I hope my personal voices never go that far…that’s what really scares me, is finding a day when they overtake me.

  4. Gabriel... says:

    I received an email from someone (who wants to remain anonymous) who shares my concerns about ‘Marty’… but felt my post was disrespectful to him. So I sent the following as a response:

    ‘Marty’s’ ‘delusions’ absolutely deserve to be taken seriously… but I believe things get worse for us when the only person we have to talk to or share them with is Ourselves. In the post I say ‘Marty’ has problems with psychiatry, I don’t say he’s wrong. I do say he, like my offline friend and like myself, get frustrated when we’re not taken seriously and that leads us to focus more on the problems we believe we have and less on solutions/treatment/recovery for the ones we really do have.

    You, me and ‘Marty’ have the same basic issues with psychiatry. The FDA and Health Canada are far too lax with the pharmaceutical industry, and the majority of psychiatrists I’ve had were fools and/or idiots and/or egoists. But the same can be said of any professional group. There are a lot more people who feel the same way about lawyers or politicians than people do about psychiatrists.

    At some point the frustration we have with a certain group builds and leaves the rational and gets into the irrational, especially if we’re not taken seriously about something we consider to be so self-evident and important. From what I can tell (from what he has told me in the past) ‘Marty’ has had only himself to care for himself for a long time, which means the only person he’s been able to bounce ideas off of are himself and the people he blogs with… and from what I saw I was the only person in his blogroll who even came close to suggesting medications and psychiatrists can be vital to someone’s recovery.

    It’s like if I had an anti-Bush blog and the only two types of people who commented were people who are pro-Bush/me and anti-Bush/me. I’d see the first group as attacking me and the rhetoric would get more visceral because They couldn’t understand what was so self-evident to me.

    The second group almost always facilitates the rhetoric until someone like my friend thinks it’s rational to believe Bush is building concentration camps. I’ve seen this on so many “anti-something blogs” where the rush is to the extremes, not to the centre.

    So if I’m running the anti-Bush site the only feedback I’m getting is from people who hate the same things I do, or people who hate the things I care about… that’s where the parody I wrote about comes in, we set the parameters for our blogs in the content (posts and pages) and our blogrolls.

    You and I have offline lives we can use to expand the parameters, but ‘Marty’ and my friend really don’t.

    …this [my response] has been one big absolutist mess, I don’t know ‘Marty’ nor have I ever met him. I don’t know if he has ever been diagnosed by a doctor, and why he trusts that doctor and no others. ‘Marty’ is not black & white, he’s got shades of every colour just like us.

    I do take ‘Marty’ seriously. People who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia need serious help. And if that help isn’t working they need to find something else.

  5. Clare says:

    I just opened another fotune cookie, read the fortune then ate the cookie. (That’s the way it’s done, isn’t it?)

    The fortune reads:

    “You need to talk to someone about what’s on your mind. ”

    That is ever so true.

    I plan on eating biscuits with butter and Canadian Maple Syrup tonight, after I cry out this rock in my chest. I’m overwhelmed. I’m lashing out. So much in my head I’m swaying.

  6. Gabriel... says:

    If it helps Clare, you’re supposed to put “…in bed.” at the end of the fortune. Just take it easy on the Maple Syrup, the sugar will have you lashing out and swaying at 100mph.

  7. voodoo says:

    Gabriel that is a great insight into what most of us don’t understand. The street drugs can make the paranoia much worse.

    Clare, Sorry you are having a rough time. I would also like to have someone to talk to, with an open mind. E-mail me anytime.

  8. markps2 says:

    I deleted my my blog etc. As sometime a cigar is just a cigar, my deleted blog is just a deleted blog. It wasn’t a cry for help. I was manic or altered in hindsight/looking back.
    I still have a roof over my head eat three meals a day, sleep, shi* etcetera.
    I have hatred for forced psychiatry. I expressed it logically. Gabriel and others who like and want psychiatry can not perceive or intellectually think in my antipsychaitry point of view.
    1) (most)psych wards are prisons. 2)There is no lab test for brain chemistry, it is guessing which and how much drugs will help 3) Psychiatrists are Priests, as they make moral judgements or peoples behaviour. Determining if it is bad or good. Medicating the bad behaviour as if it is an unbalanced brain chemical.

  9. Gabriel... says:

    3. Find me a school of medicine which doesn’t involve guesswork, and one which doesn’t screw up occasionally.

    2. Medications are dealt out based mostly on behaviour, and? I’m not sure why this is always on the list… it’s obvious to anyone who thinks about it.

    1. (most) psych wards are prisons in Romania. I know about your problems, Mark, but you can’t extrapolate from a few incidents to condemn an entire profession.

    Ten years ago if a doctor wanted to see your brain work he had to pull your scalp off and poke the grey matter with a stick and ask what colour you saw. fMRI and PET scans… the time is coming, in a hurry, where most of the guesswork will be taken out of psychiatry.

    You deleted your blog for manic reasons, like it or not that’s a cry for help. It’s just like an alcoholic going on a bender.

    Yes, “forced psychiatry” is what you focus on. But it’s obviously not the reason why you refuse to see a doctor or accept psychiatry as a legitimate form of medicine. Otherwise you might look for voluntary treatment.

    The closest thing in Ontario to forced treatment is the December 2000 change to the Mental Health Act which extended the courts use of “Community Treatment Orders”. I can remember people wringing their hands about the homeless being disappeared into “The System”.

    But that never happened.

    Dude…. there are basically three ways to treat a mental illness in Canada. Either:
    a) you do it voluntarily, or;
    b) wait long enough and you might die of old age, or;
    c) you wait so long and it becomes so bad you do something so totally fucked which forces some judge to say “ninety days”.

    This is the Ontario law regarding the rights of people voluntarily admitted or involuntarily admitted. Take a look…

  10. markps2 says:

    I don’t know if this is the place for an agruement but I’m game…
    “1. (most) psych wards are prisons in Romania. I know about your problems, Mark, but you can’t extrapolate from a few incidents to condemn an entire profession.”

    1)I believe “you” have to actually commit a crime, or are incapable of communication, before someone can forceably put “you” in jail-hospital. To hospitalise/jail people for what they might do is an injustice in a free society. This fear of psychiatric imprisonment is what I and thousands of others have to live with.

    2)re:medication for behaviour . It isn’t mostly, it is 100%. Szasz wrote” In psychiatry, we use one set of laws to explain sane behaviour, which we attribute to reasons (choices), and another set of laws to explain insane behaviour, which we attribute to causes (diseases)”. Diseases that are lab physically undetectable. Mental not physical… get it?

    3)re:screw ups. There was just a show on the CBC on police corruption. You don’t care that mental patients die 25 years younger? 25 years shorter life is just a screw up?

    re:psychiatry as a legitimate form of medicine.
    I don’t get to pick my psychiatrist, my psychiatrist is a killer IMO as she performs ECT on many patients. I consider ECT( never mind physical brain damage) erasing someones memory, equivalent to murder.

    Tell me my reason for not seeing a/my psychiatrist?

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