Today is 12 Ahau 18 Xul

1240 shopping days until 4 Ahau 3 K’ank’in.

8 miles wide.

This viddy by Storm Large blew me some good this evening. I was stalled in the worst part of a manic funk… Becalmed in the horse latitudes… I always liked that phrase, and the little diorama that it makes play out behind my eyes, of conquistadors making horses walk the plank, under the slack sails of their little caravel, the horses swimming in the Sargasso Sea. But Storm Large stirred a little laughing breeze in the Sargasso of my soul.

I say manic funk, because 12 years after I married my meds, the experience of depressive pole of my “bipolarity” has changed. Shifted, with an occasional quake, like continental drift, or like the magnetic pole wanders around, south of true north. I say manic funk, because “depression” is not quite the right descriptor anymore. It’s both better and worse than unmedicated depression, or rather the depression I used to experience before I joined, as my friend the late Don Becker called it, the Lithium Chorus.

The main difference is a quite practical benefit; on the meds duly prescribed by my psychdoc I am not incapacitated, merely impaired. I am functional in the mundane world. In a phase of funk I can get out of bed, bathe myself, feed myself, go to work, come home, and so on.  Mostly.  This does not make me fun to be around, as Mrs. Dr. Omed will certainly tell you.  Bits do fall off. The pain is not less, it’s simply chemically distributed by the drugs in such a way that I can bear my fardels through to tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeping at a petty pace without making my quietus with a bare bodkin.

As I’ve said before, the meds make it possible for me to hold a job, to get married and stay married, to maintain this pseudo-middleclass lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed. I’m grateful to my meds, my wife, and my psychiatrist for all this and more. None of this makes me sane. None of this is a cure. Like many manic depressives (not all) I don’t want to be cured. The meds just give me a minimum of shelter from the stormy weather of my own brain, and install a crude thermostat I can crank one way or t’other.

None of the therapy, none of the treatment, none of the drugs, none of the love makes me sane. I’m merely a modified maniac, streamlined for your convenience.


The blood smokes in the snow.
That is the good dream.
The leafless, moonless trees
asleep under the stars.
The stars: Embers
sucked of their marrow.
By such ghosts of light
are my eyes sewn shut.
That is the good dream.
The blood smokes in the snow.

This little poem came while I was suffering from severe, unmedicated depression. I lived in Denver at the time and the weather that November was bitter cold. These few lines are semaphore signals of a little black flag, a small reminder of what depression, pre-meds, was like for me. It is the closest thing to a suicide note I ever wrote.  But I’ll never commit suicide, not in the embrace of the vast reality that life is pain. It would be too easy.  You want nothing easy in that state of mind.

I put that in the second person, but all persons in this ramble are me. I speak for no one but myself. The following sentence is written in pencil on the back of the typescript of THE GOOD DREAM: “you have to pass thru the terror of existence to reach the joy of being.”

I still think that is true.

The unvarnished truth, the terror and joy are at the poles. In between is a waking sleep, something like amnesia, but the chemicals of the psychiatric pharmaceuticals I take paradoxically allow lucid dreaming. I remember what I am, and I am my disease.


5 responses to “Today is 12 Ahau 18 Xul

  1. Pingback: Dr. Yoshev Omed (tinydoctor) 's status on Friday, 31-Jul-09 06:43:52 UTC -

  2. Is “fardel” then the Arabic for “blivet” ? Sorry Doc, but despite the illusion, the everlastingnevergetover of symptoms, we are not our dis-ease. And i have a question for you: Considering the enormous number of mind-destroying religious radio stations, should we infer that all those listeners need meds for depression ?? After all, we are talking about at least a quarter of the USA population.

  3. The symptoms are not the disease, Spike. Which quarter would we be talking about?

  4. You’re a remarkable man, Doc.

  5. My lovely new love and hubby-to-be–same deal, almost. Zyprexa, though. Used to be Lithium. I hold great hopes for the glutamate drugs they plan to release in 2011. This bit here that you’ve written takes me a long way toward really grasping what the struggle means for you, and for him.

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