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I haven’t been updating the blog regularly for a long time now, and I suppose it still has its readers, so I will try to put up some new material. One thing that has been happening in my life — longtime Rubard watchers may be surprised, or unsurprised, to find out — is recovery from my alcohol addiction. There are many famous stories of “lost weekends” and the like, and people who straighten up good, but one topic that merits more attention than it usually gets is “dual diagnosis” — mentally ill people with substance abuse problems. If you suffer from a mental illness and are a drug or alcohol user, listen up: a key condition of recovering from depression or psychosis may be ditching the beer or the weed.

I wouldn’t have believed this myself a few years ago. I had been binge-drinking since I was 13 and an occasional user of weed since 14, but early in my mental illness I believed that substance abuse was treatment for my mental illness — “something to take the edge off” — not one of its causes. Though I had been experimenting with hallucinogens shortly before becoming ill, and the causal links between LSD and psychosis are no joke — and I noticed that weed didn’t really improve matters — I hewed to the alcoholic’s line that a drink or three was a civilized way to relax. Many people may see through this line for “normies” — but for the mentally ill the stakes are much higher. Mixing anti-psychotics and alcohol is a recipe for brain damage, and after a year of drinking and Risperdal I partially lost the ability to speak and write fluent English.

It must have been a trip in itself to be around me at the time. I would test my enfeebled grammatical “intuitions” by Googling potentially leaden phrases — I would drop important words from sentences; and later on, I could hardly sign my own name. Apparently mixing anti-psychotics and booze raises one’s blood pressure to dangerously high levels; perhaps I had some transient ischemic events, but at any rate I was f-ed up long after the drinks wore off. Yet I still kept drinking: even if I only did it once a month, I kept my toe in the muddy waters of alcoholism even when the stakes got higher and higher. I alienated family and friends, harassed people while under the influence — I suppose it’s a good thing I never learned to drive, since I probably would have crashed a car.

But what I really want to talk about are a different set of “stakes”: mental wellness for the severely ill is improved drastically by sobriety. Today, like an AA infomercial, I can see through delusions that plagued me for years: I never understood how to “let go and let God”, since I thought large swaths of our social world were nods to my vexed noggin. Now I have a much saner approach to illness and wellness, and can let the past be what it was and not what I cooked it up to be. If you suffer from schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorders, please, please, consider that sobriety may be the thing for you; the “insight” you lack may be that your already-troubled brain is too clouded by drugs and alcohol to see the sun that shines on all of us.

 


NB: COSATU!

“Living Life Over Again.” DAVID BLUMENFELD. 2009; Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol 79 Issue 2
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122594433/abstract

Tax-spend

Although I look a lot like Harry Hopkins (and am, like him, a man on none-too-generous welfare) I’m actually several shades more radical than the New Dealers. However, I’d settle in the short term (i.e., most of my remaining life) for some initiatives like the job-creation program; but advocating for unions, higher wages, etc. during Clinton and Bush has essentially cost me jobs and virtually gotten my ass kicked. If that sort of thing has worked for you, maybe I should take notes, but I suspect I’m not the only person to regret taking “radical” stands on issues — for purely pragmatic reasons.

I intend to discontinue The Fortunes of the Dialectic, as I discontinued my previous web site “OpenSentence” in 2005, at this point. Initially a piece of Popery, the title later came to refer to many things: the fruits of genuine intellectualism, a Fred Astaire movie, una economica populare, life outside cars, “star systems”, and the results and upshot of Hegelian dialectics: however, when one is within “spitting distance” of sobriquetization, one ought to consider “other opportunities”. Including, I suppose, a return to genuine pseudonymity by a man who could, in truth, neither be Jeffrey nor “Jeff” Rubard: there was at least one of the former before, and the “pronoun of laziness” concealed derailed memory traces. I live and breathe, not too comfortably but comfortably within the law; we are now able to hold our elected officials and their bureaucratic “minders” to promises and reasonable expectations, and I have said much more than I hoped to, wanted to, or ever thought possible on a number of things (tho’ unstitching the joys of Kipling may just have been too damn much). It is one country, though we stand in disunity: and like the Spinners, I’ll be around. Be seeing you.

In the spirit of things, I’d like to direct people’s attention to an American film that was once a central reference-point for discussions of mental illness, but which many people party to the arrangements currently made may not be familiar with: the 1950 Jimmy Stewart movie Harvey. Adapted from a play by Mary Chase, Harvey tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd, a small-town dipsomaniac who spends his days introducing people to an invisible six-foot-three rabbit named “Harvey”. Although the critical-theoretically minded have been told “It would perhaps be possible for a good movie to be made according to the Hays Code, though not in a world where the Hays Code existed” Harvey is a carefully-crafted and delightfully entertaining look at the way mentally ill people interface with the world: some people may dismiss it as “fantasy”, but those people may indeed not be party to the social compact of American rationality it (or the expression “looney-tunes”) sketches out.