Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mike's Story Part 53 - Klutz

Today was a more normal day - we went to the bank, ordered joint checks, talked, joked, watched part of Command - The Far Side of the World, with Russell Crowe.  Another he-man’s movie about male bonding during hardship; a stalwart leader.

   I pointed out what progress this represented but Mike assured me he felt as depressed as ever.

   “I want you to know I don’t think I’m going to make it,” he said.

   I never know if his occasional cheerfulness stems from the knowledge that he's holding onto suicide as a way out.  Psychologists have observed that people don't commit suicide while in the depths of depression; it's when they start to come out of it and have more energy that they act.

   But this evening he said, “I’m glad we had that talk this morning."  He was referring to the conversation about how any romantic overtures from me make him want to throw up or kill himself.  "We need to talk some more about that because it has implications for both of us.”

   “Meaning I should go to the shrink too and grow up, finally.  Been there, done that.  No dice.”

   But even though my shortcomings in this arena are a real obstacle to us, at least he’s thinking long term about the future.

March 13, 2007
   He’s back to shaking, possibly because he’s withdrawn from Lithium.  A while ago it looked like another Ativan alarm but instead he took a nap from which he just rose and called me into the bedroom to say, “I’ve given myself unreserved permission to stay in bed all day.”  He was in a, “Fuck you, gods” mood which is a damn sight better than where he was pre-nap, shaking and saying, “I’m so cold.”
   “Partly it’s you and me,” he explained, which was a new slant.

   “You mean, ‘How can I be stuck with this person?  How can I make love to her, she’s so weird?’”

   “Give me a break.  The sexual problems are way down on the totem pole.

   'I’m wondering - you’re so good to me - if you’re not making me more dependent.”

   “I try not to do things for you that you can do for yourself.”  I refrained from adding that apart from the effect on him of such enabling, performing supererogatory tasks would only fuel resentment and fury on my end.  Did he think I enjoyed hanging out at the bank?

   “I know.  I’m also wondering whether that relationship isn’t also playing out in bed.  But don’t ask me how that works; I’m just throwing it out.

   'I was having a fantasy before of putting out a barn fire.  You had inadvertently knocked over a lantern.”

   He laughed hollowly at how he’d made me the perp.
(Klutz:  "A person who is never without a scrape or bruise. Always finds a way to trip, bump into things and people."  www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=klutz)

   “Lantern?  What century are we in?” I asked.

   “A kerosene lamp, or oil or gas, after the electric grid went down.”

   I have a fantasy too - far more immediate - of his going to the roof to throw himself off.  I chase him up, arguing why he should live.  He jumps. 

   The police accuse me of pushing him.
   I remember my clinical psychologist friend's admonition that a fear of something can be "reaction formation," a defense against one’s own wish.

   He talked about making a will, leaving half of whatever is left after the debts are paid to me and half to Cynthia.

   “You’ll be OK.  You’ll see the signs and get yourself to a lifeboat.  They’ll take you in.  And you won’t have to drag me along.”

   “Try to get it through your supposedly brilliant mind that I might want to drag you along.”

   “That’s where I really think you’re crazy.”

   “I can’t have these conversations with anybody else.”

   “They are great conversations."

   Ken says if Mike went back to LA now, he’d be hot shit; all his predictions of three years ago are coming true.

   He looks agonized.

   “You told them everything they need to know,” I said to mollify him.  “They just have to read FTW and move.”

   “My work is done,” he said.  “There’s nothing left for me to do.”

   “The only job anyone has to do now is build a lifeboat and go there with a few close friends.” 

   “I’m in no position to build a lifeboat.  You’d have to drag me along.”
   “You have to stop looking at yourself in terms of that world that’s falling apart.  Stop using their criteria.  The people who you’re afraid look down on you now are going to be in exactly your position in a few years.  You’re judging yourself according to the standards of a system that you yourself have argued is corrupt at the core. ‘Man of substance’ and all that shit.”

   “Might as well get out now, then.”

   “Whatever rationalizations you come up with, whether you live or not comes down to whether or not you want to.”

   The morning headlines included one about terminally ill newborns.

   “I couldn’t even look at that one,” Mike said.

   It was newborns who got to him in a movie a few weeks ago too.  No wonder he avoided being a father.  The unconscious memory of his own newborn self, declared dead on arrival, still exerts power.
To Ray:
"he's having a really rough time all day every day. it's a good day when he gets out at all. there were many days which consisted literally of just shaking on the bed then lapsing into a nap which could last two hours. on those days he barely ate two meals and observed - accurately, i think - that he wouldn't have eaten anything if i hadn't made it. (he does make his own breakfast and might eat lunch if i made it but i don't and won't.)
yesterday we went to the bank, - tada! - which i attribute largely to the intervention of the holistic guy last week who gave him supplements and acupuncture.

last night he finished the scotch and isn't going to buy another bottle so that may improve his energy level.
today he took up shaking again, possibly because he's now off lithium. but he's resisting taking ativan as it usually knocks him out.

i'm not sure i see a general vector in a good direction but depression can last a year, a fact i don't remind him of too often. at least he's been talking for the last couple of days. before the holistic guy, conversation had been spiraling down to a cypher. and he does do better when we have a positive project like watching part of a movie, which we did last night and which would have been unthinkable a week ago. so what this indicates is that the reasons for his paralysis or whatever you want to call it are not systemic but can be treated.
i keep an intermittent journal of some of our conversations. i mentioned this a few months ago when he raised the subject of a history of ftw, but by now he may have forgotten. i didn't want to keep this project a secret but i also know that he doesn't want it to be in his face.

right now he seems to be waking up from a nap and is making bad-dream noises.

Sent at Mike’s request to Ray, Mike's psychiatrist; X (a colleague) and the "holistic guy," an acupuncturist/FTW subscriber who treated Mike for free.  (The needles which are supposed to relate to particular organs, in Mike's case had tapped into memories, arousing profound grief:)

   mike asked me to talk to you "out of school" and give you an update.

   he's now out smoking a cigarette.

   ...his self-report that he's sinking and becoming more agoraphobic and bedridden is accurate.

   as he sat on the edge of the bed a few minutes ago, he said he was scared even to stand up.

   X, i know he just spoke to you and sounded sort of normal, though downbeat. you should know that i used that call as an example to him of how he's able to muster attention and stop shaking when he's talking to someone he feels comfortable with.  that call was the closest he's gotten to normal life all day. [What I did not say in this email is that Mike explained the reason for his comfort zone with X this way:  "We used to hang out after an event and have a Guinness.  Now we’ve both lost everything."  X has a serious illness and while Mike was filing for Medicaid, X was filing for the equivalent program in his state.]


Update email to Ray a few minutes later:
Subj: "he let slip that he's planning a trip to the hardware store"


...this must be to buy rope or something. it was clear that the trip had to do with suicide. he didn't deny this.

so now what am i supposed to do? i don't think he'll do anything before a will is made out.


To Ray, Ken, the holistic practitioner and Mike's psychiatrist:
a few minutes ago he said, "i don't have the balls to make a will. i don't have the balls to fill out the medicaid form."

i said, "you do realize those goals are in conflict."

he said, "i do."

right now he's eating one of the holistic practitioner's nutrition bars and says he's going to take another ativan.  

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