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Refuge for the rational.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Race Car Ya-Yas 

Once again, I realise that it shouldn’t come as any surprise to me that I find myself scandalized by the drive to consume in this city. I don’t know that it’s really different elsewhere unless it’s out of necessity, but I know there certainly must be other people like myself who find it rather distasteful and, to be quite blatant, utterly fucking disgusting. It’s like creatures who were formerly feeling, emoting, thinking and giving a shit beings have been transformed into these pathetic masses of lethargy that are liable to implode if they don’t spend enough love time with their television sets or in front of their computer screens. This is why I get so many stupid forwards, which by the way I don’t have time to read and simply erase.

I’d like to use a better word, but this city is just gross. It’s not quite as liberal as the rest of the country and the result is a suburban sprawl that expands as quickly and indistinguishably as a colony of bacteria. Within this urban mess is a labyrinth of torn up streets and 70k highways that slow things down considerably. Even with all of these considerations though, I can’t forgive the fat woman in the minivan who felt the need to entertain her children with the latest obnoxious cartoon DVD. What have we come to? Do we really find it so necessary to be distracted at all times? What exactly are we distracting ourselves from? God forbid we should be alone with our thoughts for even a mere moment. No, it’s better you pull out your cell phone and download a game of Tetris, otherwise you might actually experience, you know, existence.

Now, as usual, there are going to be those of you who feel that I’m blowing this completely out of proportion and simply harping on something that has nothing to do with me and therefore abandons me without the right to complain. And, also as usual, I don’t think it’s quite that simple. You see, I think the need for constant distraction, for constant consumption, is an epidemic. We are unable to deal with life anymore. We can’t stand to be kept waiting, to be on our own, to be silent; we buy solutions to our problems, we cover things up because it’s easier than dealing with them. Instead of dealing with the fact that your brat is hopped up on video games, constant media stimulation and carbohydrates, just give him Ritalin; it’s not time consuming and you won’t have to deal with the guilt that accompanies the realisation that maybe you shouldn’t be breeding. It all reeks oddly like bad air freshener to me.

The most unfortunate part of all of this is that the profession that would seem to be responsible for advising on this sort of thing is too busy over-prescribing and over-diagnosing to realise that it is creating and/or perpetuating a virtual pandemic. Before seeing the error of my ways, I will admit, I was planning to devote my life to the field of psychology. At this point I had also been diagnosed with a mental illness more than once. First, I had chronic depression; this was to be remedied by Prozac, which had all the effectiveness of a placebo pill. At this point, I was given Celexa three times a day. When the mania started they diagnosed me as bipolar and put me on a mood stabilizer, also three times daily. Some time after that I decided that my shrink, who insisted that my state must have something to do with my morality (as if drugs were some kind of catharsis for my unclean ways), was an old cook and must be gotten rid of immediately. I was then referred to an obsessive-compulsive doctor who would sit in almost complete silence for an hour if I didn’t fill the silence myself. I had two choices, the first of which was filling the silence with complete bullshit about how fucked up I was and create superfluous misadventures to exercise my creative capacity, which I admit would probably have been a riot. Most of the time though, I wasn’t in the mood for this and opted instead for option number two which left me wasting an hour at a time not engaging in discussions about myself and staring out the window squirming amidst the uncomfortable silence. The only thing this doctor did right was suggest that perhaps I didn’t need medication after all. This suggestion was, however, countered by the theory that I had a personality disorder, Borderline to be exact, a non-chemical problem that drugs could not remedy. The suggestion was also not enough to actually stop the drugs.

After rejecting my second therapist, my doctor decided that it might be better for me to see someone less “medical” and recommended a counsellor who referred me to a youth program that was intended to lead troubled youths, in this case people aged 18 to 25, in the right direction. Since I could barely swallow my contempt for anyone in a position of authority and was therefore unable to keep a job, I was a perfect candidate. Once in the program, however, I found multiple reasons to hate it. They weren’t empty reasons, (even though you must admit the term ‘youth program’ gives away a fair degree of just how obtuse and sit-comish the whole thing was), in fact they were the first step in reaching the point I’m at right now. I was surrounded by about twenty irrational, anarchic and unintelligent ‘badasses’ and even though I could see them for what they were, I still had the overwhelming urge to walk in every day dripping with attitude. I wasn’t one of them and I knew it. I also knew that their penchant for being difficult lay in their self-hatred and stupidity and that all of this was perpetuated by a diagnosis that allowed them to be that way without consequence. I promptly left the group and gave up the drugs. Two weeks after doing so, I woke up one morning and literally felt as though I’d awoken from a coma. I couldn’t stand to be around the people I’d once called friends, (they were really just people I’d smoked a lot of hash with), I had urges to do things that I hadn’t done in years, such as write. So, for the first time in several years I was drug-free, but still clinging to a diagnosis that left me with the freedom to fuck up as I pleased and not pay the full penalty due to my ‘disorder’. Drug-free until the insomnia and anxiety attacks began, that is. Once I reported to my family doctor that I hadn’t slept in two weeks, he put me on a cocktail of sleep aids and tranquilizers that I found a little too pleasurable.

The final straw was a series of trips to the hospital in lieu of a few ‘episodes’. My longest stay was three days and during that time I had a nurse who was an angel. It was quite clear to her that I didn’t belong in the crazy ward and she would spend hours at a time talking to me without referring to my tantrums as ‘episodes’ or allowing me to get away with the garbage I was so accustomed to throwing in peoples faces. I didn’t have a disorder, I was frustrated with feeling as though by brain had no niche. And now, maybe my chronic disappointment with being constantly unchallenged and let down by people may seem slightly clearer.

After this, I abandoned the diagnosis and attempted to live a life free of creating and proliferating my own drama. I still catch myself pouting and starting fights with people that I have no intention of continuing but as long as I recognize that this comes from a boredom that can be more effectively quenched, I can simply take a step back and stop. People who create problems in their own lives, people with so-called disorders, aren’t interesting outside of movie theatres. I know this is much in contrast to what some of you may believe, but really they’re just bored and boring people looking for ways to stand out and too afraid to do or say or think anything really creative or constructive in order to reach this goal. It’s all just smoke screens and distraction to hide the fact that even if you were to actually try, there is a very real possibility that you just might fail.

One more addition: A few weeks ago the FDA ordered ALL producers of antidepressants to place a black box label on their products warning users that they have the potential to cause either mania or even more serious cases of depression. This is the most serious type of warning the FDA orders.

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