A Disordered Mind

I look around and all I see is clutter.  Unlikely pairings: A glass with dried remnants of good red wine atop a crumby plate that also holds a cast-off case from a long disused (broken) cell phone.  Plastic sacks of clean laundry, some of them from last winter, not yet put away.

Useful, that: the weather is already wintry here, so no need to hunt for the winter clothes.  They’re already in reach.

A microwaveable hot pack draped over a still-unopened bedbug-proof pillow case.  I am phobic about bedbugs, but I have yet to put the protective casings on my bedding, even though I travel frequently to places where there might be bugs.  I’ve had the casings for three years and counting.

It oppresses me.  Why do I let things get this way?  Every time I move into a new place, which is often, I vow that I will turn over a new leaf and keep it clean and tidy.

But I never stay long.  My disordered mind gets to feeling restless, or else some duty calls me away, and I start over…again.

After packing up to leave for new digs, I marvel at the expanse, however small, of clean, dust-free floor and counters.  Why could I not just maintain this mind-soothing order?   Such a balm to the senses, to be able to look around and distinguish individual objects rather than piles, piles, piles of things thrown down, left, tossed away, to be taken care of later, a “later” that never arrives.

I think I was born this way.  My child-room was the same way.  I guarded it fiercely from that hated intruder, my mother.  If she got into my room she threw out my treasures indiscriminately.  I might come home from school to find my room spotless, sterile, bereft of projects in progress that I might have abandoned months ago, but still….I might have finished them, someday, but now they are gone and the potential in my mind’s eye is also gone.

And she dumped out my socks drawer, along with the family of field mice that had taken up residence there.  My pets.

There was never a time when I did not hate my mother.

Perhaps it has to do with the constant acid rain of her curses, name-calling, denigration falling on my infant head.  Maybe the piles of junk started out as a bulwark against her obsession with neatness.  Up your ass with a piece of glass, “Mom.”

I survey the utter chaos in my dwelling of today, every single surface piled with stuff that either needs to be put in some logical orderly place or simply thrown out.  I am not a hoarder.  I just feel paralyzed, looking at all the stuff, and it seems to be looking back at me imploring me to do something about it.  Or at least just to take out the trash…start there.

Sometimes I get the urge to just go out and lock the door and buy a tent.  You can’t stuff much in a tent, can you?

Then there is the mail.  I am paralyzed by the sheer bulk of what appears in both my physical and my email boxes.

I have three or four email accounts that I never even look at.  There is probably something of import, certainly, positively, and possibly some three or four items that might even have some significant impact on my life (license renewal notices, things like that).  But I cannot face the task of cleaning out 999,000+ messages from my Yahoo account.

Then there is my mind.  I have packed a lot of stuff into this finite space, within this bone box.  Yes, of course I have heard the rhetoric about how we only use “x” tiny percentage of our available brain space….and I think that’s bullshit.  The rest of our brain is hard at work backstage, doing stuff that keeps the rest of us running, more or less.  Mine seems to be less, or maybe (more likely) too much.

Sometimes I think that if I could just break out of this 60+ year habit of surrounding myself with chaos, that my mind would work better, that my brain would feel more organized and content.

In fact, I am sure of it.

On the other hand, I think my abnormal unusual mind might have built a fortress around itself, beginning as a very young person, with piles of junk, to protect itself from my mother’s compulsive cleaning and straightening of everything in her environment.

Not to say that my disorderly mind was caused by my mother’s OCD.  No, I believe I was born with this mind, and to tell you the truth, when I am not suffering from the pain it causes me, I enjoy the lightness that allows my brain to fly to places where a more tethered mind could never go.  It is an artist’s brain, and I like it, when it lets go of tormenting me.

I used to make some astonishing art.  I recently saw a set of slides of my art from the ’70’s that must have been a portfolio for getting into one of the three art schools I attended.  I was bowled over by the beauty and quality of my own work.

What happened to that?  Where did it go?  I can pick up a pen or some colored pencils, even now, and make a piece of art that would look good on any gallery wall.  Yet I don’t have the urge, the drive, to do it.  It’s lying in the pile of unused talents and vocations, over there in the middle of the floor, where I have to walk around it to avoid tripping.

My music has gone to hell because of the inflammation in my hands.  I can still sing, but I am afraid to, because I might lose that too, and so I actually do lose it because I don’t use it.  Or to tell you the truth, I forget to sing.  How strange.

I forget to listen to music, except for Pandora, because I just, I just….forget.  So except when I am finally doing the dishes and really need something to distract my mind so I can keep on task (oh God….how strange….), my environment is silent except for the background noises, the furnace, the honk and wail of the railroad trains (how I hate these shrieking interruptions in my silence), the mumbling roar of the river after a big rain.

My shrink is sure I have ADD.  He pushes stimulants.  I try them.  They make me feel creepy, and they don’t help.

I know I don’t have ADD.  I have something far deeper.  I have a Disorganized, Dis-Ordered Mind.  I don’t think there’s a cure for that.

Don’t.

Don’t tell me about DBT, CBT, LMNOP.  I’ve done those.  They are interesting, and they help me to understand that Joe Shmoe might just be having a bad day that I was not the cause of.

But they don’t fix my disordered, disorderly brain.

 

How My Father Outlived Death

In case any of you are new to BPFL, or happened to miss it, my father died on October 2nd.

It was an expected event, as I will explain; and although I miss him, I am glad his long suffering is over.

You may be thinking, but she said in her title that he outlived death.

He did.

Let me explain.

I have written before, somewhere or other, of the nights when I would come to visit him, from undergraduate school or medical school or work somewhere out West, and we would sit up long after my mother had said her good-nights in her short thin nightgowns that make me blush.  I have never liked to expose my body parts, not out of religious prudery but from sheer terror of exposure.  But I digress.

Dad and I had a lot to discuss in those days.  He called it “talking philosophy,” but it was really his way of being my teacher, guiding me through the process of critical thinking, of Devil’s Advocacy, hypotheticals–he would have made a good lawyer, except that he had a conscience and that was problematic.

Truth be known, he had always secretly wanted to be a medical doctor, so he lived that part of his life vicariously through me.

Our late-night philosophy-fests always featured a liquor bottle: either Dickel (Tennessee corn likker) or Dewar’s Scotch, depending on our taste and what there was.

One night waxed into three A.M. and we were both high as kites, and he says,

“Promise me something.  I mean, really promise me something.”

“Promise you what, Dad?”

“Promise me, and I mean really promise me, that if I get to where I can’t wipe my own ass, that you will shoot me and put me out of my misery.”

He did not own a gun “because if I had one I might use it,” he would say with a darkly suggestive rise of the left eyebrow.  I was never quite sure whether he would be tempted to use it on my mother or himself, but the situation was moot because he did not have a gun.

I, on the other hand, had a couple of guns at the time, a .22 caliber Ruger assassination pistol, which I still own, and a lovely child’s shotgun.  The latter always made me squirm, to think that a century ago and even more recently, people taught their 10-and-12-year-old children to shoot a highly destructive weapon like a shotgun.

I was caught between a rock and a hard place, Psylla and Charybdis, all of those really tight spots, you know, and I was, of course, obliged to tell him yes even though I fervently meant no.  This was no drunken demand.  He really meant it.  The part about not wanting to live if someone else had to wipe his ass.

We all thought he was doomed to perish in the course of his work as a ceramic artist: so many ways to keel over face first in the spinning clay, or burn up in the heat of the kiln and make an ash of himself.

None of that happened.  Instead he got about ten years of his brain and body being whittled away, subtly at first, then galloping along with each day reaching inexorable claws and ripping out some other vital function.  It wasn’t long before indeed he could not wipe his own ass.

Always the teacher, he accepted this new indignity with much more grace than I would have had.

He was about 88 when this happened.  Things tumbled down from there.  Eating became problematic because his hands had ceased to function, so he had to be fed a lot of the time; or else I had to guide his utensil to his mouth, and he might get half of it in if we were working well together.

As you can see, I never did shoot him.

He did make some inquiries regarding how much of his insulin it would take to kill himself, and also about what would happen if he just stopped taking his insulin.  But in the end he did not really want to die by his own hand, or else he was too afraid.  In any case he managed to live until he died.

He outwitted death by about two miserable, agonizing, humiliating years.  He lived right up until the moment that he died.

And wouldn’t you know it, his last request was for something I absolutely cannot do.  He made me promise, though.  Promise me you’ll….

Well, I think he knows what I can truly promise, and what I can’t.

But as far as he and I are concerned, he cheated certain death by two years, and that’s something.

 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Movie ‘Tangled’: Mother Does Not Know Best

Wow….This is so validating! Thank you, Invisible Scar, once again for a wonderful, healing post. To my wonderful Bloggie Readers, if you grew up (or think you might have) in a home with a Narcissist, I highly recommend The Invisible Scar blog. For me, it’s been highly validating. One of the common signs that we’ve been abused by a Narcissist is that we doubt our own actual experience of our lives, since the narcissist has their own story, which we are told over and over, ever since we were babies unable to talk. Since their story about us differs totally from our own experience, we learn to doubt our own reality to the point where we end up living in a permanent state of dissociation. And then, in my own life, my mother berates me for being “spaced out” all the time. And it seems that my “memory is going,” too, these days. I’d like my memory of HER to go, if the truth be known.

The Invisible Scar

movie-theater [photo credit: Heritage Vancouver Society]

Editor’s Note: Upon reading this post, some readers may say, “Oh, ‘Tangled‘ is just a movie!” Indeed, “Tangled” is a movie, but not just one. Stories, whether in books or movies or television programs, teach us about ourselves, about what we value, about what we love, about what we hate. No “real-life Rapunzel” or “real-life Mother Gothel” may have existed, but for the myriad daughters with NPD mothers, the story itself is not too unlike their own stories.

* * *

Quick, name the cruelest Disney villain… Did you name Mother Gothel? As a parental figure with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), Mother Gothel rates high on the list for her twisted, abusive and relentless treatment of her “adopted” daughter, Rapunzel.

I recently re-watched “Tangled” and took note of the destructive NPD characteristics demonstrated by Mother Gothel. (Spoilers abound from this point on.)

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If only it were so simple….

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What, You Mean I Have A Real Disease???

Holy mackerel, Bullwinkle, there’s actually physical evidence that our brains are different from the neurotypicals!   Yes indeedy, bloggie friends, the picture is not a pretty one, but hey, we knew that already.

The link to the article in Psychiatric Times is below.  If you have trouble with it, let me know in the comments and I’ll copy-paste it in its entirety.

Unfortunately the only way to qualify for this test is to have a post-mortem.  So there’s plenty of time to kick up our heels and enjoy being Bipolar, Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective, or any or all of the above!

Feel free to print this out, and if anybody gives you any shit about “Just snap out of it,” shove it up their, uh, nose.  We have a Real Physical Disease.

Isn’t that great?

Explains a lot, anyway.

 

Bipolar Disorder Shares Pathophysiologic Features with Schizophrenia | Psychiatric Times.