Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Of Russian Composers and Vulnerability

It's a relatively mild day, and I've opened a window at the House of Four cats to provide a vent for the smell of cigarette smoke and cats. My father is out somewhere, the cats are spread about, and I'm cleaning. I'm listening to Rhapsodie D'auvergne by Saint-Saëns. I discovered this composer through his piece The Aquarium, which is used to profound effect in the amazing film, Days of Heaven. It's always exciting to find an artist that speaks to you more than the rest, whatever the media. When I was a child, I discovered the works of Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Borodin, to name a few. I was, and still am, greatly moved by the music they created. Specifically, Dvořák's 9th Symphony and Slavonic Dances; Tchaikovsky's violin concerto #1, Marche Slav and 5th Symphony; and the piece that I've listened to probably hundreds of times in my life, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade. The same is true with Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.

Something about the Russians that works for me...that's true of literature, too. I'm pouring through Dostoevsky's works right now. Not to mention the unpublished novel of a Ukrainian friend of mine, almost complete, that he sent to me yesterday. One time I called him years ago and I heard Marche Slav playing in the background. He doesn't know it, but my opinion of him soared after that. Not that I didn't already have a high opinion of Moisha. I was so honored that he sent me the manuscript and asked my opinion. I intend to work hard to provide a thoughtful commentary. Showing your novel to others for the first time must make one feel terribly vulnerable, like the first time you stand naked before your lover.

In the past few days I've had a nasty time with mental illness, and I do admit that I've been lessening my dosage of lithium because I thought I was doing well. It happens all the time, to all the crazy people, at one time or another. Especially given the unpleasant side effects some medications have. But I have to stick to the program and just resign myself to accept the simple fact that I'm nuts.

Could be worse, could be raining.

Last night, I was speaking (via IM) with a fellow who has bipolar disorder, as I do. He said something about being happy that he is not normal, that he finds his mental illness is a source of creative energy. I told him that if he felt that way, he isn't really mentally ill, which isn't true, but he really pissed me off. In my opinion, there is nothing romantic or interesting about the mess in my head. Racing thoughts leave me weeping and begging for some peace, nightmares disturb me, depression is withering on myself and others, and paranoia makes it almost impossible to function normally in a social setting. I have trouble looking others in the eye, I mumble, and I relentlessly attack myself in my head as being just about every bad thing a person can be. I'm used to this voice, and I am able to ignore it somewhat, but it takes a toll. It never stops. And the guilt...that's another thing.

How boring for you to read this. If I do end up flinging myself in front of the 87 bus, this will serve as a record of my deteriorating mind. Today, at least, I don't see that happening. The most disturbing trend in my behavior is my desire for solitude. I crave it and seek it out to get the eyes off me, as it were. That provides a modicum of peace, but it's no way to live. I love Linda and my friends, and they can draw me out. But every time I go out it's like holding my breath. I can go for awhile, but I need to get back to my flat. So much for my dream of traveling the globe. Social phobia...good times.

More later.


Apocalypse Cow said...

For some, drugs to help mental issues affects their creativity directly. I have a friend with ADD, and while some drugs she has taken in the past have helped her with the ADD, they've also crushed the creative voices in her head that gave her ideas and inspiration to create and be artistic. She decided to live with the ADD.

I know that comparing ADD to your illnesses is trite, but there it is.

Darren W. Lyle said...

Yes, some of the drugs they give you for psychiatric disabilities will knock you out. It took me years to find drugs that were acceptable to me. But living with paranoia, which manifests in a way that is hard to describe. But I'd give anything to get rid of that, and the anxiety and suicidal thoughts and cutting. I know three people who chose to fight through ADD rather than take drugs. But as you say, it's not the same thing. I applaude anyone who can get by without medications. But I get really upset at people who imply that my needing them is an indication of weakness. Or even worse, some even act superior.

Right now I'm just trying to avoid going back to a psych ward.

Chica. said...

I really hate it when I hear that this fucking (sorry, lang.) disease is a blessing. It's not a blessing to second guess yourself everyday. It's not a blessing to take six to seven meds a day just to function.

Fuck creativity. I can't have that if I can't even function. Oh, and my kids might miss me if I neglected to take my meds and I slit my throat.

Sorry for venting here, but I just wanted to let you know that I get you-- 100%.

Darren W. Lyle said...

Right on, Chica. Depression, which is one of my diagnoses, makes everything uninteresting. Every action and thought is washed out and I feel half-alive.