Harbor at Dawn

Reflections #doryatdawn


wooden dory


When I was alone, I was consumed by isolation

and when I was with others, I was consumed by otherness. I had a hard time maintaining a lasting sense of self. With the help of a few folks, it became clear that the more honest I became with my inner workers, the better sense I had of my own person.

The pattern Iv’e sensed is that lasting, meaningful relationships tend to be at the heart of our emotional wellbeing. Our ability to maintain a connectedness while speaking and living our own truths makes these relationships a lot easier.

And it’s through those relationships that a sense of meaning slowly begins to present itself. We’re social creatures, after all.

To pathologize a state of being is to say that there are some emotions that are inhuman to us. Where we draw this line between normal and what is perceived to be abnormal is useful in some ways, but also alienating, and for big pharma, more diagnosis means more money. Every problem comes with a pill right?

Its been helpful to me to make meaning of the darkness- to demystify a particular way of thinking or feeling detoxifies it. Some of the stings is taken out.

When I’m truly down, its a sadness impregnated with a desire for change. All I can think about is how much it hurts, how every part of me longs for normalcy. This sort of suffering doesn’t always provide wisdom, but it does present an acute way of perceiving the word. My senses are heightened, things smell  stronger, the world takes on a different saturation, I’m cabable of perceiving things within interactions I previously would be oblivious to.

So in being Sadsick, its possibly to catch a greater sense of ourselves and the word around us.

If Bears Can Hibernate….

If bears can hibernate through the winter, is it really that unnatural for a human to desire the same? This morning my cat looked at me and said “There is a lot of evil in this world, but just a little more goodness”. It’s not uncommon for her to spout out didactic clichés about life,but when it’s just me and her. Yesterday is was ” people suck, people are awesome, life goes on.”

But the Sad Sickness is here with me again. I drink out of control and I start believing my own lies. I wake in the morning at a random woman’s apartment. It was Valentines Day and a man was knocking on her window. I went out the back, ate a sandwich and broke a tooth apart– a molar. I call work, I was still too drunk to come in anyway, tell them of my broken tooth. I go to a sedation dentist, he IV’s my arm but I don’t fall asleep. Too many benzos. In silence we judged each other–just pull the fucking tooth. I thought it directly at him so he had no choice. I spent a week in an opiate haze thanks to said dentist. A friend came through with his Adderall script, I became nocturnal I made hip hop beats all night and masturbated myself into isolation until I burned through the drugs and the sad sickness came back to tie a knot tight and hard in my chest.

Reflections from the Mother Tongue

Reflections From The Mother Tongue,

I had the revelation today that narcissism is as much an affair of self-hatred as it is of self-love; both are a fixation- an entanglement with the self. We need to serve something or someone- a lover, a child, a muse, a god or otherwise. Help me find in what way I will provide service. Our interconnectedness is the foundation of out survival. Even in hatred or abandonment we are bound to each other, to an idea or an abstraction. Please remove this rotting ego from my path and let me find meaning. Let me take one soft, simple step in each direction I am afraid to go.

Pumpkin Spice Benzodiazepines

About 15 years ago I was prescribed Clonazepam. The world seemed an easier place. My life was no longer controlled by panic attacks, I could focus at work, and I was happier. What a great guy, my psychiatrist was, he’d up the dose if I needed, refill scripts a little early. We really believed, I think I was getting better. Maybe it had something to do with the deep emotional exploration taking place in those 15 min med checks. Who knows? The guy was a wizard.

You’ve probably figured out by now that he was leaving out a key piece of information; an omission that would take control of my life for years to come. What my doctor didn’t tell me was that I was an addict. I got to find that out on my own-when I moved to Portland, Oregon ten years later.

The concept that I might have difficulty finding a doctor willing to continue my prescription was not even on my radar. “What? You don’t prescribe clonazepam? What might you suggest I do?”

“Get to an emergency room, get there as fast as you can.”

Within 48 hours, I was in full on withdrawal. I don’t have the right words to describe how benzo withdrawal feels, but I would rather have my dick ripped off by a roaming pack of monkey’s than go through that again.

No monkeys came though, only more withdrawals after the ten day script was up. There was a kindling effect that seemed to increase the severity every time.

Surprise, you ‘re a junky!

Unfortunately, stories like mine are quite common here in North America. It’s hard to put into words the contempt I feel towards the mental health system in general, particularly that first psychiatrist who got me hooked. I was just a kid. There is no doubt in my mind he lied by omission, or at the very least did not fully understand the scope of what would later turn out to be a public health crisis.

There is a lot of research now, particularly in the UK and Canada regarding the severity of withdrawal, the difficulty and length of small  taper schedules, and post-acute withdrawal syndrome ( PAWS) that last up to two years after complete cessation on the drug.

I am not a researcher or a doctor. I have no interest in regurgitating the massive amount of information we have ignored regarding the dangers and inefficacy of long-term benzodiazepine prescribing. If you have any doubt, take a look at Ashton Manual, or Benzo Buddies. The latter of which is a US based online support community which became by default the most effective means of support for those dependent on sedatives. Yes, a fucking website became America’s best treatment option.

Why did the US Department of Health ignore such pertinent information? The fact that there are any patients still dependent on sedatives suggests intentional negligence on our behalf.

How, as a patient, do I reconcile this? Who is accountable? Why is the diagnosis of sedative dependence not covered by social security disability insurance? Most importantly, how do I, as a patient learn to trust a mental health professional again?

The short answer is that I don’t. This presents some obstacles in my recovery, to say the least. Collectively, there is a lot to be gleaned from this misadventure. Let’s at least, collectively agree to adopt a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to the prescribing of tranquilizers, and not to ignore information suggesting patient harm.