The Rabbit Hole

If you can at all avoid it, please consider avoiding the rabbit hole and staying on the surface of things. Depth doesn’t always yield accuracy; in fact, it often yields projection.

Allow me to explain. Mental health issues, especially schizophrenia, have to do with a system of thoughts that become interlocked and in which a person with schizophrenia becomes trapped. The thoughts are enticing, a sort of waking dream. There is a lot of research into this type of thing, with different major theorists, psychologists, psychiatrists and scholars such as myself, having our own theories about what psychosis is and whether you can avoid it. My take is that some people can avoid it and some people cannot. It depends on if a person is deeply embedded in the meanings and the symbols or not.

For me, with medicine and therapy (when I can respond well to therapy), I am able to stay on the surface of things quite well. Playing piano helps even more, because then I can be expressive without getting bogged down in the rabbit hole of words. Researching my mental health condition also helps provide structure and purpose so that I have language, a sort of handle to grasp, when I’m not doing well.

I’m reading the book The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffmann right now, and I am pretty sure that the protagonist of the story has schizophrenia. It is a sad, compassionate, and yet sensationalized story, and I don’t recommend it. Because it assumes the worst of people with mental illness. But one thing I’m realizing is that it has to do with the Enlightenment/Romanticism split of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and that that seems to be where the nexus of schizophreniform disorders emerged (the illness itself was first “discovered” or diagnosed around that time, as well). Hoffman says that the protagonist is “inner-divided.”

It gets down to the split between faith and reason, which was dramatized through a deeply Christian and moral lens by Dostoevsky in the famous novel Crime and Punishment. The main character is named Raskol’nikov. Raskol’ means schism or split, in Russian. Raskol’nikov goes down the “is everything permitted” rabbit hole of the day.

You don’t need to read these books, which may themselves generate a rabbit hole, but they teach an important lesson. Namely, that there is a rabbit hole, and that, should you be able to, you should avoid it. In Hoffmann’s book, the main character kills himself, and in Dostoevsky’s book, the main character kills someone else. It all starts with lack of purity and morals and a lack of self-accountability to stay on the right path. A novella called “Fair Eckbert” by Ludwig Tieck also talks about how once you start down off the pure path, it is all downhill from there.

Moral of the story: don’t overthink it, choose the good, avoid evil, don’t repay harm with harm, and take your medicine if you think you’ll go down the rabbit hole without it.

Religious Men in Power

I was reading in Christianity Today about a man named Ravi Zacharias, who wrote and preached extensively on why Christianity matters and why it’s real. He was a Christian apologist. But he also sexually exploited many women as he went about the world spreading the “Good News.” I was impressed by Christianity Today because it covered the story at all. So I clicked on the link. Turns out they covered it in detail. This is what needs to happen more often. People have even stopped selling his books. His organization is taking his name off of it.

Then I thought about it in more detail and I thought, why is Yoder, who sexually exploited his graduate students, still being published and talked about even though he did something similar? I bought his book and then learned about his sexual exploits and sexual relationships with graduate students he seduced or coerced, and I thought, wow, I guess liberal Christianity (Yoder is very progressive), is more forgiving of this behavior than I thought. Or see this article (link) about how Bill Clinton is speaking at the 2021 women’s conference with Kamala Harris. Liberals let men slide way more often than they would like to know. I can’t believe Cuomo is still in office after the accusations about him, either.

I have been through this personally, about how liberal organizations protect liberal men for their indiscretions or violence against women. It is so harmful. If you’ve been through this your not alone. And you’re not imagining the disconnect. Zacharias’s legacy has been wiped clean. Yoder gets a slap on the wrist. Apparently his theorizing about non-violence while sexually exploiting women while in power doesn’t seem as hypocritical as Ravi, a Christian apologist, travelling the globe spreading the Good News while sexually coercing women in massage parlors, and other indignities.

I’m still a Christian, and as I gain more influence through this blog and also through my book circulating about my life with mental illness after my own #metoo extravaganza, I have felt the pull to study Christianity and write about it more. But I think this would be a mistake. The more serious one’s evangelizing, the more likely it is that worldly success and corruption will follow. There are so few truly ethical Christian moral leaders. And I get it. The atheist who was denouncing Ravi on his blog was more Christian than Ravi and I think Christ would have stood by his witness more than Ravi’s.

Christ is bigger than Christianity. He must be. While I am Christian and hope others will follow Christ if it makes sense to them, there should be no compromise. The church has compromised on racism and sexual indiscretion. This is human nature. But it doesn’t make it any more excusable. Which is why I published my book for free and decided to run a free platform, so I don’t become one of the many corrupt spreaders of the faith.

My book is free and about my life overcoming schizoaffective disorder. Share it with people you think might need it:

Don’t Be Afraid to Take More Meds

I just did, and wondered whether I might not be alone, that winter’s end brings about mood swings. In fact, Kay Redfield Jamison writes about the particular danger of spring. So just take more medicine if you need. Accept that you need it if you do, and remember you won’t have to be on this much forever.

Of course it is not always a joy to take more meds. Even if they bring much needed peace. Mine make me gain weight, impact my skin and complexion, and I can’t drink even a small bit of alcohol (which that is prolly for the best)….

But on the other hand, I got so much work done today, and not in a manic way, but genuinely, I sat down and wrote a bit, read a bit, even saw some friends here and there (socially distanced and with masks). I started planning meals. These are all things that I’ve been thinking about doing without actually being able to do them, due to the vast amount of ideas in my head.

When I start cancelling social plans, that is when I start to think about taking more medicine. It is a sign I might be going down the rabbit hole. I also bought a ton of books about mental illness that I will be writing about on here now that I have this burst of healthy activity and creativity. I’m thinking I will start doing book reviews.

Always seek professional help, remember I’m not a professional, and never give up hope. It won’t always be this hard.

Be Kind, Especially Now. But How?

As a person who is neuroatypical, people are often surprised by what ends up having hurt me, and also by how I bounce back quickly after setbacks that others might never recover from. The problem with this is that it has had the following unexpected side effect: I can really hurt people’s feelings, and since what I have said wouldn’t have hurt me, I really struggle to realize that it hurt as bad as it did.

A friend of mine has a son who has mental illness and she told me about polyvagal theory. It is a complex theory and I really don’t have the credentials to write about it. But it got me to return to the book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine, PhD.. This book I had abandoned as a bunch of baloney. It didn’t resonate. But since my friend said it resonated for her, I thought I would see what made her tick and would read it.

Honestly, reading this book has rehumanized me. It has given me a model for understanding how I should act in delicate situations, and has given me compassion for people who may have been hurt by my words in the past. (I’m never physically abusive or violent, ever; and never have been.) I find myself asking people for their feedback, and also find myself asking, “What do you think?” and, for once, I am ready to take in people’s answers and pivot accordingly. I am more flexible.

Learning about how “normal” people function helped me to see how they need to be treated, and I think that I am a better person for it. I recommend reading books written about therapy for “normal” people. The techniques may not apply to how you would be helped, but they will build your compassion muscle so you can live life more fully and without causing needless harm. It is important, especially now.

Exhaustion and COVID-19: Carrying on Anyway

Having a mental illness is already isolating, and so in many ways I am more prepared for the COVID-19 social distancing practices that are being implemented around the world. Somehow the community that has always surrounded me, feels more real and accessible. For once, there is a sense of us all being in this together, while usually with mental illness I feel like I’m alone and will therefore support people who actually are able to be integrated into the day to day living of life in the 21st century. From the sidelines. My role is still important, but, as I mentioned in a recent post, it is okay not to be consistent in it.

One thing that does not lend itself well to my mental health condition is the sense that I have no choice but to stay home now that COVID-19 is on the loose. Usually I go to the library or tutor a student.

Usually I’m happy to stay home and it feels special.

But now I feel trapped.

Furthermore, I like to substitute teach, – and now I cannot do this. All of the schools are cancelled.

This means that my sense of purpose is not as strong as it usually is. Luckily, I can rely on my CRM processor to remind me of the earlier clarity I had of what I was doing, why, where and when – which I spoke about in a different post. Thanks to this I’m actually continuing to work on my professional commitments even though I am doing this from home and have a lot more unstructured time.

It’s all about building up continuity through touchstone supports to keep me poised and ready to serve in the midst of this crisis. I have made all of my tutoring and editing services free, and am now offering them online, too – only to those who need and cannot afford. More about that here. And there is no greater purpose than to serve those in need. There are many people in need at this time. I try to remind myself that I don’t have it as bad as many others at this time.