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.

Featured

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.

A Balance Between Clarity and Calamity

Well, this summer is blowing by. With all the social activities I’ve been involved in, you would think nothing at all is wrong with me. I’ve been feeling well, clear headed, and energetic. This is indeed a bonus not only for my personal life, but my work life as well. The solution, for me it seems, has been reducing my meds to 15 mg of Abilify – down from the prescribed 30 mg. I feel like I am playing with fire, however. The dose is not enough to suppress the audibles, but enough to keep me cognitively clear enough to focus at work and then come home and have energy for the basic tasks of life.

30 mg, even 20 mg, drags on me so that I sleep when I get home from work and I don’t have the energy for anything more. Nothing gets done. Bills go unpaid, dishes pile up, clothing is strewn about. Now, on 15mg none off this is true. My little pad is tidy, maybe not spotless, but at least I have the wherewithal to start projects and slowly finish them over the course of a few weeks.

My neuro-behavioralist told me that anti-psychotics are powerful sedatives. I don’t think most people realize this. I know I didn’t, but boy do they pack a whollup. I don’t mind hearing things at all, so long as I am not delusional. Finding that balance between clarity and symptoms has not been an easy solution to happen upon. I admit I’ve played doctor with my meds – sometimes going off, sometimes running out – in an effort to find this optimum spot that reminds me how I used to feel, how I used to perform before adult-onset schizophrenia.

Sometimes it feels like I am chasing ghosts, and ironically, other times it seems like I am amidst ghosts, listening in on ethereal conversations. I am happy, though, all in all, and I am quite content with how I am feeling. Now if I could just get my closets organized.

Talking About Psychosis

Yesterday my nieces asked me about when I was sick. They had moved back into town just after I became floridly psychotic. My niece said, “You weren’t the Deas we knew in Dallas.”

It’s really hard to describe to people how psychosis can be so devastating. Descriptions of strange thoughts or beliefs and hallucinations don’t really delve into the emotional fear and confusion. Similarly, describing something to older teens who don’t have the benefit of many years of lived experience makes it even more difficult.

One of the things I told them was to call an ambulance next time I start acting strange, which launched a conversation about how they felt I had “wanted” to be in that crazy state in which they found me. Horrified, I quickly corrected them and, as best I could, tried to describe how when I was psychotic I didn’t know I was sick. Agnosia often plays a role in schizophrenia. Nobody chooses to suffer like that. Intervention is what I want.

Forced medications and forced hospitalization is a big topic for people with psychotic disorders. Many families and loved ones struggle with the issue as they watch their friend, brother or sister, child or parent spiral into madness. While there is not a single clear-cut answer, I do think achieving a functional stability should be the end-goal for anyone with psychotic illnesses, especially when we can’t make good choices for ourselves.

Mail-order Sanity

My meds finally arrived from India. They are in such tiny packages I hardly recognize them as medicine. You would think in America that people pull their sample medications from their purse and dance through the streets advertising them–the boxes and labels are so large and you only have five pills per box. India, on the other hand, packs 50 in a box not much larger than a box of matches. The price, too. What a difference. My medications from India cost $87 for 100 pills, whereas here in America I would pay $900 for 30 pills (that’s $3000 for 100 pills). I wouldn’t believe this myself if I hadn’t priced it out personally at my own pharmacy. The difference here is that they are allowed to sell the generic overseas while in the US patent rights are still in force and only the brand name is sold, which my insurance doesn’t cover.

With meds comes the lingering question: do I really want or need to take these? I don’t like medications very much, though I do Continue reading “Mail-order Sanity”

Moving Soon

I am moving soon, finally away from my family. In a mad stroke of luck the apartment just next door to my old apartment was available. I’ll get the same great view in a quiet corner on the grounds of a vintage complex. Though much has happened in the nearly past four years since I left the apartment when I became ill, I’ll be happy to return and begin to rebuild some of what was lost. Unfortunately, Zoey and Fatty wont be with me and I will certainly feel their absence as an unfulfillable void. Some things can never be recovered.

Despite the heartbreaking tragedies I’ve endured through the past four years, I am hopeful I can find peace and stability as well as  further my healing.

Zoey

As I was driving to an interview yesterday, I saw Zoey. I am certain it was her. I was too stunned by disbelief to stop. She looked good, healthy and cared for. When I lost it and lost her I kept thinking this is the Reality Show as a maroon car followed me.

Is it possible I will find her? She had her tags and was registered. I can only hope that somewhow I will be reunited with Zoey.