I need a beating. It’s true. There’s a guy I hang out with from time to time which, for all intents and purposes, can be referred to as my friend. Since, in the past, I’ve had to “buy” friendship with drugs and alcohol, I now find it difficult to refer to anyone I socialize with as being a friend. That’s obviously my trust issues screaming in my ear, but that can’t be helped; years and years of being abused will do that to anybody.
Test Subject A is a 42 year old white male from these environs. Like me, he has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Like me, he never settled down or had kids, unlike his siblings and cousins which all did. Like me, he is saddled with the same mental issues of generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and autism. Where we differ is I also have PTSD and undiagnosed BPD whereas he is topped off with ADHD and anosognosia. Like me, we were both homeless for years. Like me, we ended up in the same outpatient treatment facility and, coincidences of coincidences, now live in the same transitional housing facility. Like me, he has a morbid fascination with horror films, metal bands like Iron Maiden, and the occasional video game. His interest in video games way eclipses mine, though, as his head is buried in “shoot ’em ups” on his tablet for hours on end.
Our main differences is he’s a straight God believer and I’m neither of those things. Still, we try not to let those issues get in the way of our friendship as we both attend the same AA and NA meetings regularly. In that regard, Test Subject A is important to me because he keeps me sober since I’m accountable to him in a certain way; not really, but by choice.
I’ve known my test subject, excuse me, my friend, for about a year or so. Like anyone else I encounter, I scrutinize him, take him apart, try to see what makes him tick. That’s a behaviour I can’t change since it’s based on self-preservation. He’s a cool person to chill with – most of the time. Some of his “bad” qualities, if I may be so bold, is he is quick to anger and accuse. If he says hi to someone in passing, and he doesn’t hear them return the greeting, he’s ready to tear them a new one. I’ve had to tell him a few times that the person we passed in the street did, in fact, say hi. He has also been arrested and thrown in jail about five times but he says he doesn’t know why. When pressed, he usually answers with something along the lines of, “People don’t like the homeless,” or “I guess people just like to hate on others.” One of his ongoing issues is he avoids going into a local department store in the evenings because of the security guard there. He says that the guard gives him grief but he doesn’t know why. In the same store, perhaps about a year or two ago, he got into a verbal altercation with a customer. He said the customer was following him around the store. When he went to complain to the manager, he was arrested and thrown in jail for a month. I said to Test Subject A, “People don’t get thrown in jail for a month because of a verbal altercation with strangers.” He said that he doesn’t know why he was jailed, maybe it was due to the manager lying to the cops about him. I told him that sounded absurd. He then said maybe he was jailed because of prior arrests.
When my friend told me about his frequent troubles with the law, he was so straight-faced about it that I couldn’t help but wonder if he truly didn’t know why he was being arrested. Was he so really unaware of his own malignant behaviour that it caused him jail time? That’s when I started researching anosognosia – a deficit of self awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers some disability seems unaware of the existence of their disability. To wit: 50% of schizophrenics don’t know they’re schizophrenic and 40% of bipolar folks don’t know they’re bipolar. Can you imagine how many autistic people are unaware of their own autism? If you’re severely autistic, then you won’t know. If you’re very high functioning, then you may just simply say, “I’m just quirky like that,” or some other brush-off reasoning.
Test Subject A – The Comorbid King is saddled with…himself. Dropped out of school during the 9th grade to concentrate on smoking weed. Said he preferred weed to school. I’ve no doubt it was a misdiagnosed learning disability that kept him away from the blackboard. In our current and present age, care of those cursed with multiple mental issues are centuries behind in development. Out on the street, the quick cure for someone having a psychotic break is to have the police put them down like a dog. It’s bad enough when someone has to manipulate the world with several mental illnesses plaguing their existence, but when they also have a learning disability and are incapable of explaining themselves, they will be denied the help they so desperately need.
To wit: the laughing joke that is SSI/SSDI. They send out questionnaires to mentally afflicted people who are neither doctors nor psychiatrists, asking them to explain why they can’t hold down a job to save their lives. Simple answer: THEY. DON’T. FUCKING. KNOW. And it’s true. Even psychiatrists and psychologists are hard-pressed in defining what someone’s mental condition is and how best to treat it, so the government expects the under-educated afflicted to understand when they have, with NO training or expertise in that area? What a joke. It’s what makes people like my friend slip through the cracks and end up on the street. It’s what makes people end up in jail and prisons year after year. It’s what makes folks abuse drugs and alcohol by the bucket loads continually.
ADDENDUM (3.23.17): Yesterday, at an NA meeting, as I was about to read from the “Just For Today” literature, my friend blurted out, “Don’t talk about religion.” I was immediately annoyed at his comment because, to me, it amounted to censorship, which I despise. Looking back, I have to try and understand how blunt my friend could be. In fact, his lack of comprehension in the subtleties of conventional social communication has caused him many arguments and fights over the course of his lifetime. There was one area, however, where this behavioral trait came in handy.
My friend was once arrested for public indecency. When he eventually appeared before the judge, he was ruled incompetent and promptly released. The judge realized that my friend really didn’t have an understanding of whatever he’d done was right or wrong. The Comorbid King understands right and wrong for the more obvious things – driving a car up on a crowded sidewalk is wrong, farting in a crowded elevator is wrong, stealing candy from a baby is wrong. He wouldn’t hesitate, however, to tell someone at a dinner party that their teeth is crooked and needs fixing, or the clothes they’re wearing belongs on a younger person and not someone of their age, or he needs to move his bowel right away because the milky appetizer went right through him. (Being an aspie myself I had to research what is inappropriate to say at a party because, well, I don’t really know, either!)