Tag Archives: mental illness

Core Beliefs

Core Beliefs

my therapist says overthinking
can be a defense mechanism

overthinking can be
a defense mechanism

overthinking can be
an unfenced metaphorical prison

it’s not my fault
my therapist says

confessional poems
can be used against me

my therapist runs a mom & pop
Oedipal arrangements shop

with thirty-one flavors
of oral fixation lollipops

overthinking can be
a dense intellectual prism

a defense mechanism
defense mechanism

anxiety is a preexisting
human condition

paid for by a
state institution

my therapist ties
Freudian slip knots

to agoraphobics flying
kites in parking lots

it’s not my fault
it’s not my fault

I don’t believe
it’s not my fault

my therapist is the reason
I’m in touch with my feelings

c b snoad
2-13-17

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Recovering Melancholic

Recovery Mode

I once performed mental
gymnastics upside
down on a tightrope over
the Grand Canyon

I once unzipped my flesh
and stepped out naked
in spirit astonished at
the jumble of my bones

I once rode a roller coaster
at a joyless amusement park
with my old friend vertigo
and a bottle of brine

yet here I am with my wits
about me and a new lease
on life ready to reboot
my drive in recovery mode

here I am with my wits
about me and a new lease
on life writing poetry
in recovery mode

c b snoad
draft 10-24-04
edit 1-28-17

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Manic Monday

Just Another Manic Monday (Through Sunday)

I am the free will of my Self
I am the life of my Self
I am the breathing breath of my Self
I am the paper pen yellow tablet of my writing Self
I am the Right Here Right Now of my present Self
I am the visions of my viewing Self
I am the mistakes of my erring Self
I am the sadness of my desperate Self
I am the shower I washed my Self today Self
I am the chicken potatoes juice of my Self
I am the wandering of my restless Self
I am the problems of my troubled Self
I am the sitting chair Self on the floor Self
I am the room of my loafing Self
I am the limited Self that limits my Self
I am the passing moments of the times of my Self
I am the Poetry of my Poet Self
I am the wall ceiling lights hallway of my Self
I am the memory of my forgotten Self
I am the sleep of my snoring Self
I am the habits of my habitual Self
I am the pills of my medicated Self
I am the lunatic of my Beautiful Self
I am the age twenty-three years of my old soul Self

**********

I am the Second Stanza of this Poem Self
I am the movement of my do-it-yourself Self
I am the silence of my silent Self
I am the child of my infantile Self
I am the doctors of my evaluated Self
I am the tyrant of my terrorizing Self
I am the asthma of my allergy Self
I am the confusion of my poorly worded Self
I am the lazy of my boredom Self
I am the thirsty of my parched Self
I am the sex of my fucking Self
I am the gender of my penis Self
I am the dreamer of my dreaming Self
I am the misspelling of my phonetic Self
I am the sound of my hearing Self
I am the impending end of my doomed Self
I am the dying of my living Self
I am the editing of the original copy of this Poem Self
I am the free will of my Self (still)

**********

I am the omissions of my censored Self
I am the attack of my alien Self
I am the sloppy penmanship of my hurried Self
I am the trauma of my traumatic Self
I am the inmate of my prison Self
I am the space-filler of my occupying Self
I am the steadiness of my constant Self
I am the adjectives of my descriptive Self
I am the technology of my robot Self
I am the ALL CAPS of my little Self
I am the liar of my lying Self
I am the aching of my aching Self
I am the nausea of my nauseous Self
I am the cramping of my right hand Self
I am the arch of my barefoot Self
I am the Responsibility of my Self
I am the waiting of my patient Self
I am the insurance of my hospitalized Self
I am the No Exit of my inescapable Self
I am the No Self of my Self
I am the culture of my Self
I am the human nature of my Self
I am the helplessness of my learned Self
I am the Existentialist of my philosophical Self

**********

I am the villain of my evil Self
I am the hero of my savior Self
I am the money of my worthless Self
I am the questions of my ambiguous Self
I am the peace of my fragmented Self
I am the graduate of my undergraduate-degree Self
I am the arms hands fingers of my Self
I am the clothes that hang about my body Self
I am the pointlessness of my pointless Self
I am the enemy of my Self
I am the perpetrator of my Self
I am the Becoming of my Self
I am the refusal of my Self to fully be my Self
I am the empty of my hollow Self
I am the Unique Insignificance of my Self
I am the __________ of my __________ Self
I am the water of my wet Self
I am the belabored point of this ranting of my Self

**********

I am the happiness of the pursuit of my Self
I am the feeling of my numbed down Self
I am the crossword puzzle of my wordsmith Self
I am the fear itself of my fearful Self
I am the free will of my Self (yes still)
I am the shadow of my presenting Self
I am the gentle tap on the shoulder of my lover’s approaching me Self
I am the Possibilities of my future Self
I am the logic of my illogical Self
I am the God of my non-believing Self
I am the reading of my scripted Self
I am the italics of my italicized Self
I am the absurdity of the absurdity of my Self
I am the flavor of my tasting Self
I am the fart of my farting Self
I am the loser of my losing Self
I am the vapor of my phantom Self
I am the dog-walker of my dog-walking Self
I am the unshaven mask of my follicle Self
I am Nothing More Than the Everything of my Self
I am the depression of my depressed Self

**********

I am the moving away when people come towards me Self
I am the sole participant in the world of my Self
I am the hyphen of my self-esteem Self
I am the fulfillment of my Amazon Order Self
I am the balls of my naked Self
I am the ME of my ME Self
I am the free will of my Self (of course still)
I am the neurotic of my psychotic Self
I am the rage of my macho Self
I am the repetition of my repetitious Self
I am the repetition of my repetitious Self
I am the anticipation of my anticipatory Self
I am the navel of my gazing Self
I am the THE of my THE Self
I am the simile of my metaphorical Self

**********

I am the Buddhist of my mindful Self
I am the activities of my daily living Self
I am the violence of my violent Self
I am the syntax of my grammatical Self
I am the hunger of my insatiable Self
I am the appearance of my doppelganger Self
I am the signs of my signified Self
I am the cost of my expendable Self
I am the desire of my longing Self
I am the reactions you have to this Poem Self
I am the disaster of my post-apocalyptic Self
I am the television of my TV Self
I am the free will of my Self (on and on and on)

**********

I am the stock boy of my stocking-groceries Self
I am the knife of my cutting Self
I am the process not the product of my writer Self
I am the compassion of my nice guy Self
I am the darkness of my light Self
I am the smell of my nostril Self
I am the grunt of my brute Self
I am the drifter of my drifting Self
I am the rhythm of my rhythmic Self
I am the embers of my burning Self
I am the English of my language Self
I am the unconscious of my Jungian Self
I am the proof of my self-evident Self
I am the okay of my okay Self
I am the glasses of my bespectacled Self
I am the free will of my Self (it has only just begun)

c b snoad
draft 10-16-03
edit 1-23-17

I am the line below my name and date on this page of my Self

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Down In The Trumps

Writing in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, Franco “Bifo” Berardi tells us in The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy that “there will be no full employment in the future.” The global workforce over the last twenty years has been forced to work more and more but with less and less guarantee of job security or economic stability. Working from home sounds convenient, but what happens when jobs become increasingly “temporary” and flexible workers drift from low wage job to low wage job without health care or the promise of retirement benefits? The precarious nature of work is indeed a dire situation, but it might be a blessing in disguise. Against centuries of capitalist logic, Berardi states his case for a dramatic reversal of values:

Society does not need more work, more jobs, more competition. On the contrary: we need a massive reduction in work-time, a prodigious liberation of life from the social factory, in order to reweave the fabric of social relation. Ending the connection between work and revenue will enable a huge release of energy for social tasks that can no longer be conceived as a part of the economy and should once again become forms of life. (213)

Berardi is dead serious: too much work is killing the Soul. There’s no use producing goods and services for bodies too exhausted to enjoy them. The Soul, which Berardi says includes language, creativity and affects, has fallen into a deep depression. People suffer individually. Society suffers as a “hole.”

It’s time to utilize our creative powers to rebuild a more just society in which everyone is entitled to food, clothing and shelter.

“Every person has the right to receive the amount of money that is needed for survival. And work has nothing to do with this. [. . .] Until the majority of mankind is free from the connection between income and work, misery and war will be the norm of the social relationship” (214).

Depression is a natural response to perpetual misery and war. But a way out emerges in the midst of tragedy, a revolution via the Soul. The pain of depression is infused with the potential to develop a new existential template, an enlightened approach to life accessible to us only through our unique brand of suffering under capitalism. To overcome depression—both on a personal and social level—we need a special type of therapy, one that helps each patient “singularize” and “become conscious of his or her differences, to give him/her the ability to be in good stead with his being different and his actual possibilities” (216).

The goal of therapy is to find and embrace my “self” in order to appreciate the Otherness of others.

After the Great Recession, de-growth is here to stay. Today the notion of wealth should not be based on possession but enjoyment, on having enough time to spend with each other in communities rooted in trust and understanding. Politics and therapy should be one and the same.

A therapeutic politics. A political therapy. Berardi is the ultimate idealist; for his passion and vision I applaud him. But he wrote The Soul at Work at the beginning of Obama’s first term as president. Hope and change were promised but rarely delivered. Congressional Republicans had made a pact, we later learned, to thwart the first black president’s efforts at the same time he was dancing with his wife at the inaugural ball.

Berardi puts too much faith in rationality and the triumph of compassion over fear and bigotry. Some people hate for no reason. Some people vote for “security”—from minorities, immigrants and refugees—over their own economic interests. Economic competition is no longer just a race; it’s about “opposing” races competing for American jobs that end up being outsourced or go to robots that don’t complain or call in sick. Inequality is a social, not a natural, division between individuals who all live and suffer and die together. We are more alike than different, and we’re all afraid of poverty, disease and isolation. Yet our misery under capitalism grows.

Prior to 2015, few could imagine a Donald Trump presidency. Berardi has redefined some of his thought in light of Trump’s rise to (white) power, but the core ideas he laid out eight years ago appear naïve today. Rather than less work, there will be more work. Plenty of work after Trump unravels “the fabric of social relation.”

We live in a post-truth world. Can the Soul survive post-hope?

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The Spirit Of Melancholy

I took away three main ideas from Alina N. Feld’s brilliant analysis of depression in Melancholy and the Otherness of God.

First, philosophers from Ancient Greece to modern times have seen the Melancholic as a visionary soul vital to humanity’s recognition of its own simultaneous vulnerability and power. The Melancholic thinks and feels at a higher frequency than “normal” people. This leads to greater distress and untold suffering for the afflicted, but this pain is survivable. Those who attend to the vibrations of what today we call depression become wiser human beings.

Second, living with depression requires courage. The Depressed must feel the fear and proceed anyway. At the heart of Being lies the specter of Nothingness; the Depressed encounters Nothingness but doesn’t back away from it. There is value in appreciating the vertigo of contemplation before the abyss.

Third, in order to reach heaven one must go through hell. Depression feels like hell on earth, but its torment is far from eternal. The life of the Depressed is a spiritual journey, a path to freedom in the face of terror. There is no Resurrection without Crucifixion.

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Filed under Life, Philosophy

Patient, Interrupted

There are strange doctors in every specialty. Offbeat cardiologists. Creepy podiatrists. Sketchy dermatologists.

Then there’s almost every psychiatrist I’ve seen.

Socially awkward? Speak incredibly soft with minimal emotion? Eye contact not your thing? After you’ve exhausted your first, second and third through sixth choices, consider a career in psychiatry.

I don’t know the extent of French psychiatrist Jacques Lacan’s quirks, but when he introduced the variable-length session his colleagues must have thought him batty.

Analysts typically bill for a “50-minute hour,” which affords them a 10-minute break between sessions to maintain their own sanity. Lacan found this format too predictable. A depressed patient aware of the clock might limit herself to less pressing concerns in the interest of time. An obsessive patient attuned to patterns might prepare in advance an outline of his session, a classic defense mechanism.

To combat complacency and open possibilities for unexpected associations, Lacan liked to end discussion at any moment. He interrupted patients after an intriguing thought or provocative turn of phrase, inviting them to process these moments between sessions.

Maybe you’d see Lacan five minutes this week, 47 the next and 18 the week after that. Surprise was guaranteed.

It’s possible that Lacan’s own psychology informed his unorthodox approach. Rumor has it that an examiner interrupted Lacan near the end of his thesis defense, cutting him off mid-sentence. Did he feel compelled to repeat this experience with patients in an effort to regain control? If so, it didn’t work. Lacan’s methods led to his expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association.

I admire Lacan’s creativity but today the variable-length session would drive insurance companies and hospitals nuts. Imagine the paperwork. The fluctuating co-pays. If I were in and out of the office, who would validate my parking?

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Sensitive Subject

In my encounters with other depressed and anxious people I have found behind their struggles a deep sense of compassion. Are they compassionate as a result of living with mental illness or is their “sickness” a natural response to being highly sensitive to their own bodies and the needs of others?

Like Forrest Gump says about whether we are free or determined by outside forces, maybe it’s both. Maybe both are happening at the same time. Sensitive folks take things harder than most people, and in coping with their pain want to ease the suffering of others.

I’m a sensitive guy, no doubt. While we’ve made some progress, it’s still unmanly to be sensitive. Dare I say many alpha males find sensitive guys “womanly,” or another hot-button name for lady parts? Don’t forget what term middle school boys (and grown men who act like boys) hurl at anyone deemed “gay.”

That’s the thing. Sometimes I feel the need to come out as straight. Just because I write poetry or don’t wave my dick around and drool like a frat boy, doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer or almost any woman who is both: (1) conscious; and (2) in my line of sight.

Maybe it’s my below-normal testosterone levels or how high my voice sounds over the phone. Thank God I’m not into musical theater and don’t have any fashion sense.

Okay, now I’m being a dick. But if you’re reading, J-Law, I hope you get my point.

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