When looking at the various issues that psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and social workers in my town, and beyond, deal with, you realize there are two key missing issues that relate to folks like me – Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s all well and good that these CBT professionals tackle clients with addiction, marital infidelity, bipolar, depression, adoption, pet bereavement (!), spirituality, domestic violence and other issues, but the brick wall that is Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome aren’t challenged by them. I wish my trifecta of issues (PTSD, Bipolar I Disorder and Autism) didn’t have the Autism component, but it does. In essence, it makes all forms of therapy useless, a complete waste of time. Lizard Boy, the name I’ve ascribed to my hyper-vigilant amygdala, wears a Kevlar vest 24/7/365. He’s impenetrable, a fortress of steel forever on guard, and because I suffer from Bipolar I Disorder, two hours of sleep is the most I can muster before Lizard Boy wakes me up. What a way to live. I’m sure this insomnia is dragging me to a premature death. I guess it’s something I have to learn to live with – a rogue, fatal heart attack is eminent in my future. Can’t win ’em all, eh?
Wow, what a strong anti-anxiety drug Buspar is. My ARNP ordered it last week instead of the regular, controlled benzos like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, etc because it has less problems in the long run. I’m on 10mg twice a day – and it’s strong as hell. Within minutes of dosing, I become dizzy and light-headed to the point where, if I suddenly stood up, I’d be on the floor half a second. Last night, I took it around 11pm with my nighttime dose of Prazosin and woke up at 11am this morning. Yikes! I guess I just gotta get used to the strength. I make sure to only take it on a full stomach now, just in case. In other news, the ARNP also increased my Prazosin because I was getting nightmares again. I’m guess that’s probably related to the continuous furniture-shuffling noises from upstairs. The ear foams I’d recently acquired were okay, but like in the past, irritating after an hour or so. They even slip out during the night so i don’t bother with them then. I’d put in yet another complaint to the building manager, but as before, they can’t do anything about it. It’s just one of those grin and bear it situations.
You would think that, with the passage of time, my hearing would get worse. If you take into account my years of living in big cities, playing in rock bands, and going to several rock concerts over the years, you’d think I’d be half deaf or at least suffering from tinnitus like Pete Townsend by now. But no. EVERYTHING just seems louder to me – traffic, birds, idle chatter, neighbors vacuuming their humble abodes, etc. I’ve complained many times in the past about my upstairs neighbor continuously making noises (stomping around in high heels, dropping objects, moving furniture around all day, etc). I even bought a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones to drown out some of it. In essence, the headphones have been working, but lately, I crave more silence. As you know, I live in a retirement/senior apartment building. Lately, we’ve had more ambulances coming to the place, almost like one each day. Because my apartment is downstairs near the building’s entrance, I can clearly hear the chug-chug of each chattering diesel engine parked outside. Often, they come at the most inopportune moments, too. This morning, for instance, I was awakened at 5 AM by an ambulance which stayed out front for about an hour. Couple that noise with the continued insufferable din from upstairs and you can see why I’m a nervous wreck. In a little while, I’m going to invest in some foam earplugs from Amazon. I figure that those plugs, plus my headphones, ought to bring the noise level down to near-acceptable levels. Either that or pay an otologist to surgically remove my ear drums.
Battling long-term clinical depression is one of the most difficult things anyone can do. For me, it’s like trying to swim upstream in a thunderstorm through the rapids of the Columbia River with truck tires shackled to my ankles. Needless to say, beset with crippling Bipolar Disorder I doesn’t help. My periods of insane creativity, where I’m able to churn out book after book, or poem after poem, is usually followed by the abyss of inconsolable despair. I’m gifted with the ability of composition but the curse of non-promotion. Luckily, the clouds of doom parted for me, just a little, this morning. Seizing the moment, I went ahead and listed my two audiobooks, Commoner The Vagabond and Tears Of A Clown, on AudioFreebies.com. If anyone’s interested, there are promo codes listed there.
I had a psychiatric appointment with an ARNP about two weeks ago. We discussed all the meds I’ve been on before for depression and bipolar disorder. I explained my reactions to each med – tardive dyskinesia from Haldol, weight gain from Lithium, bruxism (teeth gnashing) from Abilify, vertigo from Latuda, dry mouth from Seroquel, etc – to meds which had zero effect (Sinequan, Risperdal). After about two hours, we came to the conclusion that my symptoms (extreme mood swings) were basically kept at bay just by me avoiding my biggest trigger – people. To be fair, one pill does seem to work well with me – Prazosin. Prazosin (Minipres) is an anti-hypertensive; off-label, it’s used to treat sleep disorders in people with PTSD. It really does keep my vivid dreams and nightmares to a minimum and has reduced the ridiculous amount of sleep paralyses I’m prone to. The fact that it’s also an anti-hypertensive is beneficial since I do suffer from high blood pressure. So my pill for bipolar disorder is avoidance. Seems to be working fine so far.
Hello world. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, one of my “traits”, if you will, is I see patterns everywhere. I’m that guy who, walking down the street, will notice how three or four cars parked in a row all have license plates that begin with the same letter. I’m that guy who memorizes train routes then quickly notices something is amiss when a new version of the map is printed. I’m that guy who predicts what the look of a meal at a restaurant would be based on the quality of the arrangement of my favorite appetizer, calamari. Here’s a quiz: You walk into a room and give each of the ten kids sitting there a toy truck. How do you recognize the autistic kid? The nine neurotypical kids will start playing with the trucks, making noises and rolling them all over the place; the autistic kid will be sitting in a corner trying to figure out how the lights work, what the wheels are made of, what kid of metal the body is made of, and so on. Such is a structurally ordered mind.
Which brings me to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. To this day, China and South Korea have a relative grip on containing the spread of the virus as their infection numbers are lessening day by day. China, being authoritarian, was able to initiate a general lockdown that western governments can’t, or won’t. South Koreans are generally well-behaved, following the suggestions of their leaders in mitigating the spread of germs. Western folks, on the other hand, challenge their leaders a lot, and this is fine. It’s healthy. It’s one way of making sure duly elected leaders don’t try to become monarchs. The effect of that, though, is sometimes people won’t heed professional advice and do whatever they want. That’s why I started looking at today, March 15, the Ides of March, as the kickoff to disaster for older folks.
There are two general areas that older, more vulnerable, people should avoid, but they won’t – churches and casinos. Those are perfect spots for circulating the coronavirus as they’re closed-in and the people are in close proximity to each other. I’d say the same thing about movie theatres but older folks generally don’t frequent those that much. Indian casinos have their own sovereignty so they don’t have to abide by the laws of a state government. Federally, they do, but we haven’t gotten to that phase yet. With all the recent banning of large congregations of people in select spots nationwide, there are bound to be those who’ll eschew the new rules and go out today anyway. I suspect that in about two-three weeks, we’ll really see an explosion of coronavirus cases. Sigh. People have been warned.
After spending years sleeping in shelters, car seats or park benches, it’s hard – near impossible – for the homeless to feel at ease once a roof actually materializes over their heads. There’s always the agonizing thought that it could all end in a flash and they could be back to square one – the streets. That’s a thought I harbor constantly, rendering a good night’s sleep difficult to come by. There are the frequent thoughts that I could lose my disability, insurance or the building’s rent could suddenly double in this volatile market, or something could happen to get me kicked out, like an argument or fight with a neighbor. Every day, just a cursory glance at the news reveals the thousands upon thousands of homeless people in the world, my people, people I could unwittingly rejoin if I don’t play my cards right. I don’t want to be homeless again. This hand-wringing anxiety is driving me bananas. I can’t even stay in a shelter because the men complain I snore too loudly or my BiPap machine is keeping them up. I wish I could relax, find some solace. Maybe in the next life.
In the small-press literary world, the Pushcart Prize is analogous to an Academy Award, so a nomination can prove fruitful along the way in getting recognition from other literary markets. In my case, I was nominated by the editor of Hawk & Whippoorwill for my poem “Lost At Sea.” It’s actually one of my favorite poems, too, given the large amount of research that went into creating it.
In other news, I’ve completed my first short film, Major Nobody. That’s the good news. The bad news is I don’t like it that much. I’m the only actor in it and, basically, there is no story. It’s 14 minutes of a man contemplating whether to remain freely homeless or turn himself in to an institution. What I do like about the short flick is it allowed me to combine a lot of my skills – cinematography, acting, sound design, video editing, poetry, audio dubbing, etc. Maybe I’ll take a look at it later and rewrite some of the dialog to create more conflict.
Here’s something I rarely talk about. As an Electrical Engineering freshman and sophomore living in Friley Hall at ISU, I used to host a three hour Saturday night radio show from 11pm till 2am called New Music Experience. Mainly, I played music by punk & new wave bands like Circle Jerks, Lene Lovich, local Iowa band A Testament Of Youth (ATOY), The Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Jimmie Mack, S.C.U.M., Joy Division, The Jim Carroll Band, The Stepmothers, The Specials, Squeeze, B-52’s, etc. My friends at the time were punkers like Fuchsia, the brothers Wump and Wormie, and singer Brad Roth and other members of ATOY.
It was an interesting time principally because we were all outcasts. Whatever was popular then (football, sitcoms, etc) didn’t interest us. We were too subversive for that. Dead Kennedys and Husker Du were more our style. Anyway, such is how life goes: you migrate from one experience to the next. After my 2 1/2 years at ISU ended, I returned to Mt. Vernon, NY and joined a band which we eventually named Future Fuzz. I think my next blog entry will be about that 1 1/2 year experience. Here’s an interesting: I booked us a gig at the legendary CBGB’s at Bleeker and Bowery in New York City. That was a fun Wednesday.
This has been an interesting few months. I suffer from bipolar disorder so I’ve had episodes where I’m depressed as hell followed by times where I feel like I can climb the Eiffel Tower naked. During my “up” periods I’ve been fairly productive, so I can’t complain. Besides writing the occasional poem, I’ve been writing the script for my short film, “Major Nobody,” as well as shooting principal photography around town. I’m pretty much done with the photography so now I’m in the editing phase. I’m using the latest version of Adobe Premiere. I’ve used it in the past so the learning curve wasn’t all that difficult, just had to consult a few online self-help manuals here and there to help me optimize it for my laptop.
I’ve also started working with my recording equipment after a long hiatus. Again, there’s a bit of a learning curve because I’m using Cubase 9. The last time I recorded with Cubase was about six or seven years ago and it was with Cubase 5 so you can imagine how much more complex Cubase 9 is. Still, I have some new toys from IK Multimedia to work with – MODO Drum and MODO Bass, both excellent plugins. I also have some guitars coming in from China in a few months which should bring my collection of axes up to 8, maybe 9 if I spring for a Rickenbacker 4001 Walnut. All in all, I’m not complaining.