Welcome Home, Old Friend

Rage

Rage seems to be intrinsic to my flavor of bipolar disorder.  In a mixed state, where symptoms of both depression and mania manifest, my “manic” is some form of agitation—anxiety, compulsive behavior, or rage.

I made the journal spread above in the midst of anger so black and sharp I could barely breathe.  I painted over the picture on the right—mini-me with my dog, Rebel—then slashed at it with a steak knife.  The violence stunned me, violence aimed at myself, at the innocent and vulnerable part of me.  I painted in the gouges, then echoed the savagery on the opposite page.

I left it that way for several days, coming back to take in the images and process the layers of Truth I’d uncovered.

I used to believe there must be a reason I got so mad.  I used to sort through all the old betrayals, snubs, and layers of unfairness in my cheesecloth memory.  But, there’s no reason for my rage other than funky brain chemistry.  Trying to justify it only throws napalm on the fire.

Rage is just another part of me, like the creeping hopelessness that sits on the other end of the spectrum, like my blue eyes, like the way I put words or colors together.  And like everything else, the only thing to do with it is welcome it home.  That’s when I pulled Thich Nhat Hahn’s Anger off my bookshelf and found the words my Rage needed.

Today, this moment, contains no rage.  This morning I wrote in my journal next to The Dalai Lama:

Dalai Lama

“When the symptoms are big, there’s always this base undercurrent of failure, a deep Mariana Trench of wrongness, that awful and vague sense that I should be doing something else/more, that I should be something else/more.  It negates all that I do and all that I am.  It robs me of any satisfaction or sufficiency.  Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to these journals now.  They are so immediate.  The rush of rightness washes over me without any censor.  Pictures together tell an immediate story.  Color bypasses thought.  The soft texture of the Pan Pastels signals instant comfort, and I feel masterful… I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for this tool.”

Yes, I do.

The Adventure Continues.

Primatives

Call Me Crazy, But…

smoking-gunNot again.

Another movie theater.  Another slaughter.  Another deranged man with a gun.  Another gun that never should have found its way into that man’s hands.

At the same time, Iowa’s governor is trying to close down the last two mental health hospitals in the state.  Plus, Iowa’s psychiatrists receive the 4th lowest Medicare reimbursement rate in the nation.  In 2011, we ranked 47th in the nation for the number of psychiatrists per capita, and the exodus is ongoing (who could blame them?).

No psych docs.  No hospitals.

And no gun control.

So, why aren’t mass murders happening in my cineplex?

Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, said in a 2014 interview that a history of violent or assaultive behavior is a better indicator of future violence than any mental illness diagnosis.  Substance abuse is also a strong indicator of violent behavior.  Mental illness is a risk factor for suicide, he said, not for homicide.

People with severe mental illness are more likely to be victims, rather than perpetrators, of violent crime.

Do we know yet if drugs or alcohol were involved in the Louisiana case?  No mention one way or the other, but we know he had a history of violence.  And we sure do know he was bipolar.  The media latched onto that buzzword immediately.

It seems clear to me—people who are drunk, high, or beat their wives should never be allowed to buy a gun.  People who have a history of hurting other people or themselves should never be allowed to buy a gun.  Period.  I would be included in that group because I tried to kill myself once.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think I should have a gun either, because I’d hurt myself before I’d open fire at the next Marvel movie.

Still, the debate about rights and mental illness keeps us from actually doing something about the guns.  Diversion tactics.  When will we stop talking around the problem?  When?

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