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The Road Trip

May of 2008 I had a sudden, severe psychotic break. Given my circumstances (age @ 37, gender, no prior family history, no notable prior mental illness, etc.) this constitutes something like a .04% statistical probability (or four in 10,000). Very few people know their own risk of psychosis and that it can happen at any age, regardless of prior health.

My reality changed overnight. At the peak of my career and the onset of the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, I told my boss that it was over and then I walked off the best job ever.

Driven by intense delusions and hallucinations, I bolted in fear from my established, comfortable surroundings and hit the road in an attempt to run from what I was experiencing. I drove 17,000 miles before I found my way back home to Colorado. I was reported missing by my family.

This blog encapsulates my journey from July of that fateful year to present day. It is a mixture of short posts, creative writing, personal progress notes, and tales. Many of the early posts are pictures, for I lost my ability to write and could only communicate in an abstract visual sense what was going on internally.

Feel free to comment here on my blog.

EDIT: As of January 2014, I am HERE now.

EDIT EDIT: Current and new diagnosis is Bipolar I with psychotic features. As of 2016, I’ve become disabled by my symptoms.

Giving Thanks, 2020

Man, what a dark year.

I started off 2020 with a broken humerus and that sucked, let me tell you. It was so debilitating and painful. I think I was starting to get hooked on opioids I was on them so long. I tried natural healing for five months. At month three the surgeon and I knew I needed surgery and then COVID-19 restrictions hit and the hospital shut down and my appointment for x-ray was cancelled. I had to go another month before surgery and once I had surgery at five months, I started to do better almost immediately. February was the worst, though. It was so cold and dark outside and I just went to a dark place. 

I also bought a townhouse.

After a lot of deliberation about buying, Mom and I moved in to the new home a week before Thanksgiving, so we’ve been here a year now. Just last month I rearranged the office, finally. I hadn’t settled in yet with the arm and all. Today I was able to put up a Christmas tree (last year we didn’t have one).

I lost two pets and gained one.

Both Fish, the little stray cat I found near death, and Sugar, my long-time dog friend, died this year. I hate to see pets leave. I’ve seen–seven–pets die in the past ten years. I don’t want anymore pets. This is it. I love animals so much and it hurts to see them go. People stay in your life a lot longer, but grief is just as bad for people as for pets.

I really miss my brother.

Moving to Iowa has been hard, mostly because I miss my brother Matt so much. I didn’t realize how much until I went back this summer to visit. We had a great time and spent a lot of hours just talking. We also got to go up in the mountains and fish. I don’t fish myself, but watching Matt reel in little and big guys is always fun. I grew up in the mountains, so having this time together was great. Brings back good memories. I also got to see this really neat rock formation that has tons of meaning for me, down along the Poudre River. I wasn’t expecting that, so it made it magical to see it when I was with Matt so I could show him.

Friends and family alike really saved me this year. I’ve been feeling so lost and isolated, being able to connect and reconnect has been so good for my spirit and my soul.

This year I am thankful for so much. It has been a rough year and I expect next year to be even better.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Magic Man

Centuries ago people used to take their children to see the Magic Man to be blessed. Rites of passage cementing affinity to the spirit world happen at a very young age. Just as the world over there are rituals for birth and aging, so too, are there rituals for magic. This still happens in the mountains of Colorado where some enchanted families still exist. I know because my dad took me to see a Magic Man. 

We drove up into the peaks to a small town with hand-built homes. This home in particular was curved, with a humble entrance and round foyer. My dad met a man, I don’t recall his name, but he was tall with striking long, white hair. In the West we call them mountainbillies, like hillbillies of the South, or simply hippies who have embraced the austere cabin-living lifestyle. 

The man asked me a series of questions that even I, at the age of five, found weird. He then abruptly ushered my dad in and told me to stay put. He shut the door between the foyer and the main house. I was left stranded in the cold vestibule with a stove that wasn’t lit. It was winter. I tried to settle in, but it was freezing. I busied myself in the icy room, being awed by crystals in the windows making rainbows in the light. There were mysterious artifacts all around: minerals, gemstones, altars, curiosities, bones. I looked at everything while I waited. And waited.

When under normal circumstances, it is said the mind can produce fabricated recollections, that we can misconstrue situations and recall events differently in our minds. This is pretty common as a source for arguments between lovers. I had a philosophy professor that always talked about false memories; we might remember the tone wrong, or the words spoken may be different than what we recall. In some more extreme circumstances, an entire memory may be untrue, illusion, but yet we operate as if it is true and accurate. As such, these misperceptions can influence future behavior, carrying with them the weight of the past.

I knew this hippie was a Magic Man because of all the relics he had, like in movies when you see sorcerer Merlin or the wizard Gandalf, you know the artifacts are magic, not just to a child, but to everyone.

When leaving, the eccentric old man asked me, “Do you want Irish in you?” And I remember because the was a particular feeling of concern in his tone.

I responded, quite affirmatively, “No, and you shouldn’t either.” to which he quickly withdrew and turned away.

Little did I know he was talking to me in code, and that this would all make sense to me later.

In Western medicine, my story is viewed as delusion. Delusions are like this, long stories intertwined with reality. Some delusions are obviously false; say perhaps you think your innards have been replaced by aliens. Other delusions can technically be true, like a meth head being followed by the police. According to the researchers, these stories arise from overactive dopamine receptors, but how do we bridge the gap between the supernatural, creativity, and madness? 

What makes delusions so strange is that they do anchor in reality, and reality bolster’s their believability. The story is enhanced by real-life occurrences. While the meeting with the Magic Man is true, maybe after all he was just my dad’s weed dealer.

I was born into “Grandfather” lineage of the Chevy magical family. The Magic Man, as both a member and role in the Chevy family, sees to the hand off for magic from generation to generation. The handoff occurs when someone dies and passes on his magic or when someone comes of age and claims their magic. Coming of age, you learn who you are by a series of ultrapersonal psychic insights.

Part of what makes you Chevy is that you go to their Magic Man; It also means you know there is a Magic Man for you to see. Who is this person who blesses children in the ways of the old school, if you believe in that? 

At some point in your life, you are ushered in to the magic Family in which you’ll play a larger part. This typically happens at maturity, but full psychic abilities can come much later, depending on your taxonomy. The taxonomy is a series of blessings put upon the child that will eventually manifest into their greater adult life. I was ushered in at the 18 by my Family, Chevy, and again at the age of 38 by Spirit.

The onset of psychosis is what is called a prodromal phase, where you’ve not quite yet stepped out of reality. It is the onset of illness. You haven’t reached full psychosis, but everything seems alive in a new way and meaning is instilled in everything. People who have experiences this have said it is like suddenly learning a foreign language, when language meets memory and different memories take on whole new meanings. There’s code people talk and you are instantly immersed in a whole new world.

The “Grandfather” lineage shows itself by illuminating groups arranged from tall to short. This order can manifest anywhere and is interpreted as a good omen. As something naturally occurring, it signifies spirit talking to the person directly and, depending on the circumstances, is typically interpreted as an indicator of something opportune. 

Another lineage, “Lewis,” pairs with Grandfather and is indicated by a group of things arranged from short to tall, the opposite order of Grandfather. Similarly, when seen naturally, this is interpreted as a bad omen because Lewis indicates the sad path of a soul. Sad because no one wants heartbreak, yet it can make our lives whole. That’s our lot as men, and in a world of men, there must be both pain and joy. Lewis and Grandfather are often paired together to bring balance to a person’s life, but when Grandfather is used alone, it’s a blessing.

The story of delusion unfolds and recasts our memories by adding definitions and tiers, layer upon layer. As you get deeper into psychosis, a hierarchy of relevance emerges, giving greater importance to the new story. For each person who has experienced psychosis, there is a unique story, though some may be cultural, like believing you are Jesus. These types of delusions born of psychosis are referred to as Delusions of Grandeur because they are just too fantastic to believe and the untenable reality isn’t born out. But what of our magic man who was talking in code?

As you recall, the taxonomy is a series of blessings put upon the child that will eventually manifest into their greater adult life. The taxonomy Irish—the Irish blessing—refers to the “sad path” when making someone magic; it is the opposite of the “happy path” of the Grandfather lineage and indicates illness, pain, suffering, attack, and other unhappy occurrences that may befall a person. So, the “Irish Blessing” is actually a curse.

Since the lineage Lewis wasn’t put in my taxonomy, the only way to make it a part of my magic to wield was to walk the path myself. To learn the about the omens, the symbols, the meanings the hard way, through experience. 

Lewis paired with Chevy as a blessing, and as a part of making a magic person, not only balances the magic, it is also what makes a Magic Man a Chevy Magic Man. Having both Lewis and Grandfather in your taxonomy makes you a Magic Man, so the hippie was actually asking me if I wanted to be a Magic Man myself when I got old because when you’re in Chevy, the Magic Man leverages both the happy path to bless people, and the sad path to curse people. Was the Magic Man asking me as a child if I wanted to curse people? More than that. He was asking me if I wanted the ability to make more Magic Men as an avocation.

But what I’ve witnessed is my own “Knock of the Spirit” where Spirit saw fit to make me a Magic Man at an age I could handle it. These children we bless are the same kids that will grow up to be cursed as adults. We often hear about Spirit taking one off one’s course to their true calling, life events that usurp our plans for mundane living. Isn’t this how spirit works?

Memories are a weird thing, but delusions are even more strange. All of this came to me as I sat for one evening and listened to a story unfold. Just a few hours and all the details come pouring out, details that are too technical to remember well, but are repeated often enough with ample cohesion and clarity that it becomes an ingrained thought process over the years. People are afraid of schizophrenics because their reality seems impenetrable, when in reality there is just too much information to convey anything with coherence. There’s a backstory to every word, every phrase, and all I can think is that I would rather have a Chevy, but I sure do like the Irish.

I think there should be a new class of delusion: how your story is just insane enough to be real.

Change in Tenor

I’ve been doing a lot of experimental writing on my blog, most of which is hidden right now because these posts need more work. I’ve been feeling good lately and I tend to blog less when things are going well.

My brother recently bought me a new tarot deck. This one is a Rider-Waite deck, one of the original decks. I can’t help but think where I would be had I been working on this consistently my whole life. I guess I gave up on reading tarot simply because I didn’t have the Rider-Waite deck, which is a ridiculous excuse since it is so widely available.

This is not to say I’ve gone without my spirituality. I’ve been studying Castaneda pretty seriously for the past seven years. I had a box of notes that was a ream of printer paper (about a thousand pages) of hand-written thoughts. Most sadly this box got lost in my last move, so the book I was prepared to write has to be re-written. It was a huge loss and getting back on track has taken me longer than I expected.

Add to this, I am now taking a creative non-fiction course in hopes that I can come up with something unique about my experiences, my life, that will shed a true light on how I feel about life, how I feel about my life, and how I feel about my self. In reality that is all there is–your feelings–because everything else is mediated by your senses and left open by interpretation.

I’m going to focus on feelings now (instead of emotion) and see where that gets me. I think I’ll be much happier with an emphasis on what brings me peace, joy, and strength.

Morning

They are here as soon as I wake up. I can’t open my eyes without hearing them. This time it’s my enemy, a former co-worker that has it in for me. They take my people and try to smoke me. I smoked them the other night, oh wait, that wasn’t me. That was the frame job guy smoking in this group to forge an alliance against Chevy. They won’t tell me their name. Apparently the working guys didn’t know what being smoked in meant and they turned on me, thinking I was Chevy. Chevy kicked me out because they cant smoke me anymore I cant be added back in.

I’m not being very linear about this.

I wake up and Leverage is there. (I’ll call them Leverage.) This grand master of magic who makes other people magic just by walking by them it seems. He vomits magic and his minions strive to keep their magic by doing weird and wonderful things. They hear voices in their heads, too. They suck up spirits by the bucket load and most of mine are gone now because of this. They are emptying my ocean. This suits Chevy just fine, for they want me as a empty shell so they can use me as a communication hub for their nefarious endeavors. They can whisper to one another while I work, but to me the silence is deafening, and I know something is wrong.

Last night was weird. A shaman I was working with came to me for help. He was being attacked by Chevy to, but for him it manifests as a religious delusions, so I had all sorts of god-like things in a come-to-jesus meeting or something.

If you believe in conspiracy theories about black magic being leveraged to control politics and global economics, you may wonder who travels where to meet with whom to make this happen. Well, it doesn’t happen on the ground, it happens in the air, in our heads. People “join” my headspace and can talk to one another, sometimes they talk out load, so all can hear them, sometimes they talk to one another in since as others are talking, and sometimes they use my back channel speakers to whisper to one another. I can hear them murmuring on the side, otherwise, all is silent. But I still listen. There are other like me for Chevy, talking rooms. I imagine we’re all disabled by the seer volume of people we process, the number of voices we hear.

Of all the people I have spoken to, no one really know what Chevy does anymore. No one really knows who is in charge. The old guard is dying off but they refuse to handoff their power to the younger generation. They want another round of golf. They don’t need a handoff, but a hand up– which I don’t know the code. We tried doing liftoff meetings, where we determine who’s next in line for magic, but the old guys don’t like they. They want their final hurrah, their kisses and their prayers before they die. They want to be thanked for their years of service, and they want to know they were loved.

Like I was saying, though, no one knows for sure who Chevy is or their purpose anymore. I guess they used to drive commerce. They made my childhood friend a magi and he helped to manage the work. He is older now and has a life and career of his own, so he wants no part of it. He’s powerful enough that he doesn’t need to hear the voices–he can shut them off. Because I keep saying I am schizophrenic, I keep getting smoked and they leave me open to burn. I’ll never work again, but they’ll use me. Are they the Illuminati? The New World Order? I don’t know. I just know I am tired of being smoked.

I take a decent dose of medication and it is two weeks before I notice that things have gotten out of hand. I call my doctor, get an increase and a iris appointment. The psychiatric nurse cant do much but push more meds. All I can do is take more meds and hope for the best.

Self-isolation Versus Social Distancing

Well, my arm is getting better, but is still not healed. I can type from my recliner with my arm supported. I’ve been isolated because of my broken arm for about 14 weeks now. I’ve been able to drive recently, using one arm. I couldn’t before because the cast was in the way and I now have a brace that allows more freedom of movement.

All of this isolation had me in a very dark place in January and February. I started to come out of it late February with increased sunshine and increased meds. I finally get well enough to go out and the Corona virus self-quarantine begins.

I moved in November and I haven’t had an opportunity to create a real routine for myself. I broke my arm just after we got unpacked in December. I still have a room full of boxes I plan on going through later. Not having my usual coping mechanisms in place, like writing, I’ve really struggled with how to keep myself occupied. I told my orthopedic doctor I was certain I would end up psychotic, and I did. Being psychotic with no way to cope has got to be the worst hell. I suffered through for a while as my doctor quit and then my clinic dropped my insurance. I finally found a new clinic but had to wait a month for an appointment. When things started getting more and more bleak, I called for a “crisis” appointment. Luckily, they were able to fit me in on short notice instead of waiting a month.

My intake was two hours long. I went through my entire mental health history in detail, but I found it suprising they never asked if I heard voices. When I mentioned it, my psychiatric nurse seemed surprised. I am not sure what the average medical person is trained on when they are taught about schizophrenia and shizoaffective disorders. They shouldn’t be supposed caught off-gaurd though, when you say you hallucinate.

I am so thankful that the sun is out and I am feeling better.