Monday, April 16, 2007

Beth's healthy plan: the eve of destruction

I am not a passive person. But many weeks I have been perplexed by one thought; how does a person with body control issues handle a body over which they have little to no control? Perhaps, being ordered to the hospital for another test tomorrow for which the only outcomes are immediate admittance or a negative result made me question who was in control of my limited waking life. Or maybe it was the other tests "urgently" ordered. What was the outcome: was it hope? As sure as night follows days, I can say that as of this minute, I have no hope. What forces me to the hospital is social pressure. I go because I do not know how not to go. And that’s when it came to me. I do not have control over my body, I do not have control over the medical system. Taking a page from society around us, I may no longer be capable of resisting the effects of my own heart; but I can always take control of the path to my own self destruction.

What the medical profession doesn’t like to advertise is that highly focused depressed people, particularly people who can pop in and out of disassociative states of mind, can willing endure far more pain than the average person (when inflicting it on themselves or enduring it for destructive ends). This includes even someone with as low a pain threshold as me. And with the body I have right now, I cannot control feeling good, but just by standing upright and staying conscious for four minutes, I can feel very very bad indeed. Now, try to stay with me; self destruction is a very human thing after all. I recommend listening to Tom Waits’ Come on up to the House a few times to get in the mood. That song happened to be the last song I ever played in a Christian Church; it seemed a good Christian hymn at the time: “Does life seem nasty, brutish and short /Come on up to the house..there's nothin in the world that you can do /you gotta come on up to the house /and you been whipped by the forces that are inside you”

Maybe I was having a few issues with the church about them going to throw me out at the time, hard to say. Anyway I thought it might be good to start testing the limits of this new body state; see what it takes to make it break. Of course, even if I go unconscious, I may not provoke a cardiac collapse. I do seem to be able to absorb a lot of punishment. But a dedicated program should steadily weaken the system. Earnest Becker says that much of what we derive anxiety from is our flight or denial of death. Indeed, collectively, when we put our immortality into a system which we believe will last forever, meeting another who has a different system in which they believe so strongly produces a clash. The hundreds of millions killed in the last century in order to oppose “evil” or fight for God, or fight for “right” shows a natural inclination in humans toward destruction. I am sure there is some connection between me and collective culture. Can't quite pin it down now but I always liked Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction (though not the white codpiece look) back in the days when protestors had faces like bricks and sang until the cords on their necks bulged: “hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace.”

Of course, this little blog piece may be hard to follow. You could say there seems to be a few logical leaps missing (or some freaking logic at all other than: humans destructive; you self destructive). DUH! Did you think self destructive depression makes people brilliant thinkers, nope, just makes them very FOCUSED thinkers.

I always wondered how I was dealing with the stress of all the crap sailing downstream these last few months. I mean, no minimum dose anti-depressant is THAT good. Sure I had my sobbing bits and my crying bits and my laughing bits and my buying weird stuff bits but it never really seemed like I had never really absorbed what was going on. I still don’t think I have. Last night I read two papers and both had at least 2-4 articles about sort of will-to-power, health-to-power and I realized that there won’t ever be an article in the paper about people like me; I have seen two articles in the paper about people with disabilities: one was about a man who willed himself from a spinal cord injury back to walking and running again through will power and determination and the other about a woman in a wheelchair who through will power and determination is getting better and better times as a wheelchair racer. There might be an article about someone in a wheelchair making lots of money too one day. Money, will power and success: the values of our society. Well, I can’t will-to-power getting better. But I can do it in order to get worse. Does that make me a success? Anyway, in keeping with that idea, how about Mad World from Donnie Darko (Don’t have a freaky rabbit telling me what to do yet, but I’ll keep an eye out).

Anyway, in control or not, I will be in and out of hospital for the next few days.


kathz said...

I hope things do work out for you.

It may not be enough, but you do have power over words - and that's quite some power. Remember that, even in other continents, there are people who read your words and care about you - and about questions which you have brought to their attention.

Very best wishes to you and Linda.

(if I'm a little slow in responding to posts, it's because I'm having computer problems)

KateJ said...

I think Mad World is increasingly becoming the anthem for today. Maybe they should play it at the start and end of each news report. It's as appropriate for your last posting (about the war in Iraq) as for this one.
Your courage to keep blogging, and to keep doing all the things you do, in the face of everything that's going on in your life amazes me.
I was reading something in the paper just this morning from a woman (a medical student no less) who thought she had a trapped nerve in her wrist but it turned out to be a serious brain problem, requiring surgery, that then went wrong... As it happens, that story ended happily. And hopefully she'll be a better doctor as a result of having been at the receiving end. Like you, I think that suddenly being out of the control seat - the one we all think we're in - has got to be the scariest part. I can only think of it like being in a car when the brakes fail and you're going down hill(this happened to me). And imagining it going on indefinitely. So what's the message? That there is sometimes nothing you can do, no fighting back, no determination to survive, just hope that you do get control back, that you can dip and dive your way through and that the big truck coming the other way isn't actually going to hit you this time.
Thinking of you...

GayProf said...

I wish that I had something witty to say. All that I have, though, are good wishes.

Sober @ Sundown said...

Hi Beth,

I hope he doctors can figure out what is out of balance with you so you can get back to living....

Keep us posted on your progress.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for that Tom Waits song. Songs like that always seem to help me hang on and get through the times I am feeling like that. Times when I wish I could just let go and not have to struggle with it anymore.

belledame222 said...

agh, Elizabeth. What they all said. Thinking of you.

I hope you don't mind--I included one of your earlier posts, about the shopping for goth clothes, in this Carnival of Feminists. It's a great piece of writing, as is all your work, and it sucks beyond the fucking telling of it that my delight in being able to introduce someone as awesome as you to a larger audience is coinciding with such untrammeled awfulness (in all sense of the word) in your life. goddam.

peace and strength and comfort to you from here.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I wish you everything, but right now I'm simply focusing on the hope that the cluster of medical types who are NOT working together on your behalf will get some clue as to how to constructively help you to regain health.

hazel said...

First, Love the Tom Waits pick you left for us.

Second, I agree strongly with you

RE: The hundreds of millions killed in the last century in order to oppose “evil” or fight for God, or fight for “right” shows a natural inclination in humans toward destruction. I am sure there is some connection between me and collective culture.

I mean this impulse has got to be hugely important to our collective and individual survival or final destruction, or so I'd think.

The one thing we all share is the pain of loss- dignity, trust, limbs, lovers.

It occurs to me you could be right about depression being a tool of focus, for some.

So back to self destruction, and the spectacular ways with which we accomplish that.

If our final goal on this planet is to face destruction (ie death)then maybe those of us who rush head long into it before our time are just trying in a primeval way to hurry up and get it over with?

I have struggled with my own impulses to self destruct. I still do. Lately though I've realized eh it'll come soon enough, I want to have a bit more fun before that should happen. I feel slightly robbed of it over the past oh I don't know two decades maybe? So I'm making up a bit for lost time.
Which is why you see my footprints around this blog.The humor here is oddly refreshing despite its darkness.

It is so much more fun to chase the giggle factor between deep draughts of the soul crushing daily grind, then just taking and stuffing the pain.

I'll be sending you goth-sweet thoughts as you go in and out of the hospital this coming week.

PS. On a whole other note: You're emerging "crip" fashion and documentation is riveting to me, as a fashion industry refugee. In fact I don't think I've been this excited about trends in fashion since Lycra.