1) I love you and care about you, and, most importantly, I am on your side. I will go toe-to-toe against the world with you, and unleash the fury upon unsuspecting doctors and whoever so you do not become a function of their expectations.
a) The drug company salesman, sorry, I mean ‘psychiatrist’ expected to use his Dr god-head to steam roll us on his production line of medicalization of social problems. When discussing alternatives to simply taking drugs he was surprised when in response to his defence of “It’s my job” I said, “Yes, well, not everyone likes your job.” Why was he running things?
2) When you have wound, from a cut or similar, on your body you can:
a) See it (normally)
b) Show it to others
c) See a doctor or some other medical specialist who will give you advice
d) …and who might ‘treat’ or even ‘dress’ the wound.
Your wound is not on your body, but between you and the world. The world is implicated in this wound just as you are. It is what one of my favourite philosophers called a ‘crack up’. It is a crack between you and the world, across the world. Everyone else can see your suffering and your anguish, but they may not be able to see the wound. A doctor can help you with your end of the wound, but because the wound extends into and implicates the world it is distributed across a number of bodies, absences, spaces, practices, and so on. The wound is naked, sensitive and raw and because others are implicated they can pick at the part of your wound that implicates them. The wound festers like any other.
3) There are big things that you are anxious about not having in your life:
a) good health
b) stable job
d) a place of your own
e) energised friendships
f) and I suspect other things
Between you and the big things is an expanse of anxiety. These big things need to be assembled from little things. Some of them are assocated with each other. If you jump to the big things you sound crazy. You need to assemble your life from the little things. From the little things you build hope and momentum. Work on the little things and the big things will follow.
4) Moving is a material and psychological enema. It forces you to clean your shit out. It means to throw things out that hold lingering memories so you are left with lingering memories of things. People who never move breed backyards of sheds and other poorly thought-out storage compartments. You have never moved.
a) I went through your room to create more space for you. You have 30-odd years of shit in there. More than the physical space is the existential space of who you are. Between you and the world are little links that are of you and of the world at the same time and of various degrees. Your photography gear, your cricket gear, your computer gear, and so on. This has been your attempt to produce a space for yourself in the world. You should not give up on this practice. Produce your own space in the world.
5) Although the world is implicated in your wound, you are implicated in the world. You carry part of the wound with you. If the doctors tell you, after myriad tests, that there is nothing physical wrong with you, that you do not have any physcial ailments, then I think you should accept their diagnoses and the sense they make of the medical tests. To stabilise yourself in the world so you can see and work on the various implications means following a course of medication. (However much I disagree with it.)
a) Your anxieties are real, you feel them in your body, the signatures of these anxieties are expressed in your disposition as your disposition. You are pursuing a hook onto which to hang these anxieties. This has affected your perceptual apparatus, what the psychiatrist called your ‘belief system'(!!!).
b) I do not believe in the psychiatrist’s belief system, which is specifically that drugs will solve your problems, or as he put it ‘modify your beliefs’. I have nothing but contempt for this view. He wants to treat symptoms. The wound is between you and the world, it is not contained solely within you. However, if you allow your anxieties to manifest as a psychosis, by fixating on the big things, or by belligerently maintaining that you have physical ailments when all tests indicate otherwise, then you will allow this psychiarist to treat you on his production line of mass-produced individualising sanity. Your psychosis is his conveyor belt.
c) However real you think your physical ailments are, if the doctors and nurses can not find any symptom of an ailment, please trust them. At least believe that they are competent at their job even if they are not especially bright, or more precisely that they are not allowed much creavity in their treatments because of the nature of a government hospital.
d) Remember, the affective dimension of what you feel is very real (your anxiety, your sadness, your depression, your physical symptoms that are produced by these constellations of affect), but not necessarily what you are anxious about. Trust the doctors have the competence to read medical results.
6) This is a war. Against the stupidities of the world and of yourself. You have to become militant. Becoming ‘better’ is hard, because ‘better’ is one of the big things. When you are assessed by the doctors and nurses they are not looking for ‘better’ they are looking for the little things that make up ‘better’. Paradoixically if you tell people that you are ‘alright’ or ‘better’ then they will think you are crazy. You need to demonstrate through connecting with the little things that you are leading to better, tending towards it.
7) Part of the problem with trying to hook with the bigger things is that language — or English at least — suffers from a bizarre poverty of really only expressing big things. Especially if you are a man of a few words, as you are. The rest of communication is intuition, anticipation, of reading the gaps and hearing the silences. You expect too much of those you communicate with if you only give them the smallest fragments of what you are trying to express.
a) One basic, concrete, material act that you can begin practicising is speaking and writing with more words. Don’t use one word when you can use 10 words or three sentences. I can understand you because I am trained in semiotics, and I don’t treat you like you are crazy and I have known you all my life. Sometimes when talking to you I need to access one or several previous conversations from days, weeks or even years ago. Not everyone has this skill, memory or, most importantly for your current situation, the patience and communicative generosity. Using more words is one of the little things. Practise it. Trivial shit about the weather or sport will do.
b) Treat yourself and your current situation not as a medicalised diagnosis of something that is wrong with you but an event; a moment to realise that your soul is suffering from a severe deficit of poetics. You need to give it gaiety, a lightness, let your expression dance. You are not one of your computers. Part of this relates to the existential territory you were attempting to mark out. Do not be content with ready made spectator seats; you do not get a ticket stub for life telling you to sit in seat 13B.
c) As I have already suggested, your break/episode can be understood as an event in the sense of Alain Badiou. If you treat it as a truth-event, if it has presented a world to you to which you would not have previously be aware then you need to extract the singularity of this event, attempt to capture it through a process of axiomatisation. This is similar to what I have done above, however it is more than this; it is a practice. Sure create the lists of directions and goals which you have in life, but it is also a question of realising that these big things are assembled from little things; a multiplicity of acts. It is not a question of convincing someone that your disposition correlates with the image of a ‘sane person’, rather you need to work towards assembling the little things in your life that give you a life worth living. Forget everyone else, especially the stupidity of those who tell you that your life has to fulfill certain characteristics (of adulthood, of achievement, of values, etc). But this includes trusting the doctors (even if they are stupid) when it comes to medical issues.
8) Your goal should be to live a life that is worth living.
a) To achieve this goal you need to assemble a set of tools and draw on appropriate resources so you can live a life that is worth living.
b) What this life is will be entirely up to you. However, it will not fall out of the sky, either in content or practice, the truth-event is a process and a material practice; you need to assemble this life, and this includes the conditions by which you assess and experiment with your life to test its worthiness. You can not jump to the big things, it has to begin with the little things and experiments with how they are assembled.
c) Some people are content to inherit a way of life from previous generations, or from the stupidity of the mass media around them, or from the images of the popular culture in which they are insuated, or as an accident as they follow the desires which couple them to the world and to themselves; there is no right or wrong (no matter how stupid they seem to some arrogant fuck like me). They are only made of of potentials and capabilities. What do the little things allow you to do? What can you do? How can you act?
d) You have damn near a clean slate, you are very intelligent, you can attack the world and love it, insinuate yourself in it and explore its complexities. All these things. But start small, start with the little things. Before you act, ask youself, is this small enough? Think big, yes! Please! But, for example, you aren’t going to walk out the door and get a job. You need to assemble the big things from the little things.
e) Be patient with yourself. Be patient with others. Be patient with me and my stupidities I write up here. Yes, this is my response; to try to be helpful, which I realise is a little bit patronising. For this I apologise. I want to help you. I love you. I care about you. I am always on your side and more than happy to fuck some shit up on your behalf. I don’t want to lose you to the world; it doesn’t deserve you. To take one back from the world would be fun. Believe me. I’d enjoy it.
Well said. Hope he gets the message.
so far, this has been an enourmous and difficult experience for me, with all the pain of learning very important facets of myself. i think i’m glad to have undergone this – i’m still unsure. i think i can see that the love of many of the people in my life has been focused to help me through. man, it is very scarey at times – death, fear, shame, insignificance, moral confusion, conformity, self respect, trying to put all the discrete little bits into a consistent whole many times and not suceeding and more – these are things i guess i’ve popped on the backburner forever. Trying to figure out what is me and what is the world is much harder than i had come to believe. many times i shouted ‘why me ???’ internally. many times i thought – surely i’ve got it this time and every time it would shift. It looks like a huge conspiracy, or more than one :-). i think it was, but now i think probably a good one. A big experiment. i still am unsure what reality is. i hear people in my life leading me in my head – and i could convey my thoughts to them. that does not seem very sane to me, but i can accept it. sounding a bit mad does not concern me too much, but being mad is another matter. it seems to have been organised for a very long time. i do find it exhausting to get this stuff written down and worry that somehow i will ‘fail’ or lose something in doing so.
ah well, i gotta go stir the pasta
thanks (i think) – i hope the straight jacket is roomy enough 🙂
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