002-Light Under the Shade-Memoir


I find myself on some sort of road trip. I feel like I am in a dream, but I wouldn’t bet my life that it’s a real dream; possibly, my sense of Reality is a little askew at the moment, or rather, as usual. There’s no foggy border around what I perceive so it must be Real. I feel drugged up, quietly subdued and psychotic, having taken a slight overdose of Benadryl. I’m sprawled out in the back seat of my car. My wife, Kelly, is up front, behind the wheel.

I’m terrified of all the uncertainty in my head. I’m exhausted, from life as it is, dealing with the illness. All I want is to dissociate and blunt my affect, which is why I took all the Benadryl. I took them because I want to dream a bit and imagine that things are better than they are currently.

Having just passed through a nasty hailstorm, under which I thought we were going to die, literally, Kelly pulls off the road. She checks us into a Comfort Inn. The ten-hour drive is too far to make without a nap half way across the state.

Kelly and I have adjoining rooms. I’m not napping, so my lights and TV are on. I’m giving Kelly her own space.

I contemplate my newest single diagnosis: Schizophrenia. I was actually diagnosed with Sz when I was a kid. I just didn’t remember. I didn’t want to remember. The doctors I’ve had in the past usually appeared to diagnose me with hesitancy, which meant to me that the diagnosis wasn’t concrete or definite. For now, we know it’s plain old Schizophrenia, and of course I have Tourette’s syndrome. I’ve had Tourette’s, since I was just a boy. It’s a pretty insane hand of cards I’ve been dealt, but at least I can stop collecting so many labels like they’re stamps.

I can accept Sz as the all-in-one explanation for my strange and bizarre experiences. Everything—every event, every memory, and every person—it all makes better sense to me now. There’s finally a reason for things, or at least a single name, label, or condition. I can start looking to manage and treat this condition from somewhere—from right here and now—and let the healing begin, again.

I’m not alone. I’m still of the lucky few—lucky that I can maintain my uniqueness and eccentricity, and be able to share with others just how disorganized the mind can be, while still having even the slightest access to conventional reality, as long as I can keep my awareness of this condition. And so are you; you’re lucky. Believe me, we are all together are and we’ve all made it this far, haven’t we?

According to my new doctor, within the Porcelain Utopia, this rabbit hole of a heaven, nothing has changed. Only the diagnosis has changed. It’s been clarified.

Oh, and here’s a big one to swallow: my new doctor, let’s call her Dr. T… she suggests to us (we are passive, submissive, so she is actually not suggesting anything, she seems to demand) that we have to (she said we “should consider,” but we take it as an imperative must) become role models. Can you believe that? We have to help others. We have to share everything and keep it real, and genuine, and authentic.

Here I am and here we are, trying to write another installment of Porcelain Utopia—Part Four (otherwise known as Light Under the Shade) as I attempt to keep the content cool, on the edge, and hard core. I rewrite all of this so that it comes from the heart and soul—the higher self.

If I turn into a sellout, (the band, Green Day comes to mind, and how they were accused of selling out) I swear, I’ll stone myself, if that’s even possible. I’ll jump on my face. Wait, that is definitely not possible. That doesn’t even make sense.

“You have this gift…” we recall Claudia telling us, telling Georgie (after all, Claudia is his girlfriend, even if only in my fiction), that we “owe it to the world,” to do it for her, if anyone else. Claudia, the princess of Long Beach was the reason we moved to New Mexico in the first place.

And now we’re on our way to the institution. I was told it’s a sort of schizophrenia school. Oh, boy, I’ve got to write from the heart now.

We remember the Dream Telepathy (a chapter in Porcelain Utopia): the whole conversation about why should we help others when we can’t even help ourselves?

So this was the start of what Georgie and I were thinking, just a few minutes ago, at about midnight, when we were sharing a smoke near the lobby outside, while Kelly caught a few Z’s.

Some other things have changed, too, since Lover in the Nobody (initially, Part Three of the Porcelain Utopia series). The whole scene at the end, when we realized, sure, that we didn’t count, but that nothing was real.

The truth makes us feel sick. Here’s some of the truth coming out, like vomit:

Georgie has stopped watching pornography, if you can believe that.

As for me, I was hospitalized and had a big break, a schizophrenic break, from reality. (Reality?). The break started full force the moment I wrote about going to “bum a smoke” on the last page of Lover in the Nobody when nothing, even ourselves, existed.

I felt screwed. I felt trapped.

But, things have changed.

Now, we are about five hours from Sz School. Somewhere near Trinidad, Colorado, the so-called Sex Change Capital of the World. My last impression of Colorado was from when I was still a boy, skiing. I remember Colorado being Health Freak City. What it really is: an alternative to the ward.

Please, and I swear, anyone out there, if there is anyone out there, we’re sorry. I’m sorry; I must have acted like an arrogant jerk all this time that’s passed. Please, if you are religious, pray for us. If you are a New Ager, please send us white light.

Please, help us.

We’ll do our darnedest to “help” you in return. All we have are our experiences to share. They might help. The whole ‘help’ thing scares the daylights out of me, out of Georgie, and all of us.

Not to make light of it anymore. We really are mentally ill, and there apparently is a real world out there, right here, and all around us. We used to use sarcasm and hypocrisy to cope with it in our earlier writings and even with the ways we behaved in general.

We didn’t know what we were doing.

And because of that, the Family—the Living Colorful Rich—they coerced us to sign over everything we had to them.

The Trust Fund—A new illegal Trust Fund—We got karma-lized.

All the bad karma (we’re mean and vindictive little bitches) and the good (we’re loving and generous with huge hearts of gold)—it doesn’t cancel out the good and the bad. Instead, the good and evil contorts, gets confused, and perplexed. It makes everything even more complicated than it is already.

The consequences have come.

We’ll be there, at the schizophrenia school by morning. (Morning. Mourning.) We can’t sleep. And the Bennies (Benadryl) are wearing off. Our throats are opening back up, less psychotic feeling, less dissociated by means of the Benny itself.

Our affects are afflicted with fear, and possibly disappointment.

Please allow us a break before morning. Allow us one more time out, one more second with our freedoms—freedoms of self, of delusion, of our nothingness. Just give us another spring break, like from school, like in college, or school in general. Feels like we’ve been in prison, and the court has us departing from prison, and we’re going directly into rehab from prison, jail, or the pen. Lindsay Lohan had no break to party, and have her Last Hurrah, between her two-week jail sentence and her being escorted straight to treatment.

None of this is even court mandated—it’s nothing like that. It has everything to do with my family controlling our lives, and our money. We couldn’t just go and work at Starbucks because we are disabled. We used to make $10,000 or so a day, just on interest, and now we’re in dire straights. Sure, we’ve been spoiled all our lives, but our finances have been taken away at he drop of a hat. Now, we come across as whiney babies, through manipulation. We can’t even afford kitty litter, my wife and I. The poor little kittens we’ve got at home have been flooding the flowerpots, and the weeds took over the property. That’s no way to love, certainly not unconditionally, by taking everything away so drastically. It’s no way to look after our best interests as Living Colorful Trustees. They took away the estate. That’s nearly $250,000,000. Georgie helped with the software development for the start-up companies Price Club and Amazon.com back in ’91—the year the Internet was invented. Pops was an investment manager (a crook, nonetheless), and we were all but 15 years old, thus the set-up of the trust fund, as far it’s known.

The doctors think it’s a mere delusion, no wonder. But I have the paperwork on file to prove it; same for the hit TV show they took, which aired for two seasons on A&E. We wrote what’s called The Treatment. It was a three-year long project.

All of my work turned into pure nothingness.

A break, just until the morning—that’s all I want, just until we wake up in Wonderland. Boy, at the moment, I am full of complaints.

Kelly just woke up from her power nap and we have to float on. Yeah, right, float…whatever floats the boat.

­Now Kelly has the car running. We must continue on to the facility for the Schizophrenics, like us.

I have decided (not Georgie…me…) to write Kelly on a memo pad, to communicate, instead of talking. Giving her the silent treatment, like the little baby-game, the schizophrenic—B.S.—boy, I am really getting the audience empathy I’m aiming for. I say that with intentional sarcasm. This sarcasm will soon end, as you’ll witness.

I just hope there is one person out there who relates to my situation—somebody we can help. Are we even doing any good, so far?

Mom and Pops took the house. No more New Mexico. No more Long Beach.

I am taking dictation from the memo pad thus far. Want to capture every single thought—all of the erroneous chitter-chatter. (I know. We know it might not be possible to capture everything.)

We can’t write in the car. It’s too turbulent.

OK, Honey. Coming!” we call out to the woman behind the closed window of the car. We grind our Winston into the pavement and take off. (We’ll type this out later on because it’s too shaky in the car now. We’re lying down in the back seat, like babies being chauffeured to school.)

“About the ‘School,’ it won’t be as bad as the hospital,” Kelly assures us. “Less rules and stuff. Anyway, are you comfortable, back there?”

We think, “Sure, honey. Sure we are. Just jolly-pip-pip hooray…”

About Jonathan Harnisch

Author | Mental Health Advocate | Schizophrenia | Artist | Blogger | Podcast Host | Patent Holder | Hedge Fund Manager | Film & TV Producer | Musician
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