012-Light Under the Shade-Memoir


A couple hours have passed now. I had phoned my wife following my last writing installment and even though I knew she was and is doing all that she can to get me home, to get the house ready for me, for us, when I return… I still felt like I had to press the issue. The meds I take in the morning somehow don’t feel like enough. It’s a matter of a delicate balance of trial and error, and by 11:00 or noon, there’s been an anxiety within me that feels like too much of the wrong kind of energy in my system. I end up craving the afternoon meds, and the slight sedation they offer by about 12:30, the latest. I am aware that I drink a ton of caffeine in the morning especially, and I don’t want to stop drinking what I do all morning, so this balancing act becomes incredibly, well, I should call it a real art. And it takes a real talented artist to figure out the meds, of course with my input. I meet the doctor again in a few days. I’m scared to admit to the doctor that I drink a case of soda plus a few coffees each day, and smoke over a pack, and dip at least one can of smokeless tobacco every day. I’m scared, even though caffeine and tobacco are abused by most schizophrenics according to what I have read, I’m scared to tell them because I have never seen any other schizophrenics abuse this stuff like I do. When I was an inpatient, never. It concerns me that this, just like my symptoms used to feel so private, is, well… just another symptom. I believe that I am doing quite well in being honest and with my opening up to those who are here to help me. Anyway, enough on that… I mean, hell, I am on a lot of medicine, and have been most of my life. A healthy person would certainly take the amount of meds I’ve been taking and go comatose.

I took the bus to the outpatient office. I didn’t bother being obsessive about packing the little bag I take with me, with cigarettes, the bus schedule, wallet, etc., so I just brought my bus passes for going there and coming back, and left my wallet behind, and left I think everything else I usually pack… behind. I figured I could trust my own head enough to know that the buses run on the half hour and I didn’t need anything. And I didn’t let it bother me. It didn’t bother me that I left behind my phone, and iPod, and books… I knew I wasn’t going on a vacation. I basically said to myself, “Jonathan, just go… and quit worrying about what the heck you pack. Just go, and when you get there, tell the therapist that you are having a bad day, and that you would prefer not to talk about it. Know that she would ask why I am having a bad day, and you can just tell the simplest version of the truth: that it’s just the whole situation, plain an simple.” And that’s what I did.

I was already melancholy when I arrived, probably because when I finished the call to my wife, before I left, I had taken a small dosage of anxiety medicine that causes sedation before I bused over to outpatient. There were a couple of times in the last month where the nurse filled my weekly medicine box with an extra dose. I decided to keep them, in case I would have a panic attack or a spell of extreme anxiety, since the doctor has not given me any PRNs, which means an extra dose of medicine for emergencies, or as they say, as needed.

I was back within the hour – usually going to outpatient is a 2 hour ordeal on average, depending on how much I talk, or hang out, or wait for the bus, or sidetrack to the gas station to pick up a pack or two of smokes, while I’m in the area over there… closer to downtown.

The nurse asked me about my kitten, Georgie, and I was elated to talk about him. I smiled and remarked to the nurse that that was the first time I had smiled all day. As calm as I was on the “PRN” I took, part of the chaos of the mind kept telling me contradicting ideas: 1. I seemed calm, she, the nurse, would assume I was on my as-prescribed meds, so that if I was to tell her I felt anxiety and nervousness, she would say that I seemed calm. And in fact she made the comment that “it changes.” My mind just went blank again. 1,000 thoughts came through and then dropped dead. So I have no idea what I was going to write for a #2.

Just to say that the nurse asked me if I was still keeping up with my list of activities that I created the other day in order to keep some structure and I let her now that I was.

Regarding Georgie, she and the case manager who had entered the room at the time said that I was a really nice person. I felt a lightening bolt of joy, on the instant.

As with my wife, the nurse and case manager came up with suggestions, the few minutes I was there in the office, just wanting to get out of things I could do. They knew I wasn’t into groups and things, and I just again, reminded them that I am pretty much a loner, and that I want to do things with my wife, if anybody, that I didn’t care how dependent I am on her. I told her that just the ten short minutes on the phone were “charging” me up. I could maintain stability at least until the next time we’d talk. I also mentioned that I am good doing things or interacting with people for only 15 minutes, maximum. I didn’t say but I use those 15 minutes to recall very specific details when I need to be uplifted, whereas on a five-hour field trip, I’d grow easily tired and not have specifics that my memory could hold on to, but instead more of an overall good or bad time.

I returned to the hotel, I noticed that the hotel staff was able to purchase my sodas, so that was a relief. A couple cases had been put in the fridge and the rest on the counter, or rather the desk that is half way in the kitchen and half way near the main part of this studio apartment-like room.

I had a soda and a smoke outside and started to cry. There is so much pain and grief, and as my wife often points out to me that I have a lot to cry about. She is able to see that and to know that and to share that with me. God, I love her so, so very much. It scares me when I get those intrusive thoughts that she is going to die tragically. I am not having those thoughts right now, thank God.

I wanted to write about you (my readers) joining me to cry, rather asking you to join me. I mean, there are times when I feel such anger and talk about killing babies—just coming up with the most horrible things to think about or write about, and then there’s this certain sensitivity in me that feels like the polar opposite. And I am not just trying to tell you that I cry. My life sucks. I have it bad. No. I know that everyone’s got his or her own demons. What I want to convey in this writing session is to let me cry and whine and tell how crazy things are, but knowing that I just hope you can relate and see some of myself in yourself, and no matter what the particulars are in each of our own life stories… Read this with anger in your heart, read it with compassion, read it with hatred, even hatred for me. I am purposefully writing a lot of depressing things without fears like conveying my story in some prefabricated way, and possibly not having a happy ending. I don’t care how depressing this project is to read. I am doing it for myself and thus for you, no matter how this thing turns out.

-J. Harnisch

About Jonathan Harnisch

Author | Mental Health Advocate | Schizophrenia | Artist | Blogger | Podcast Host | Patent Holder | Hedge Fund Manager | Film & TV Producer | Musician
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s