Archive for the ‘collective madness’ Category

Cool Shades of Blue

May 16, 2017

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The sun, a pale yellow disk in the sky, was going down. She thought of childhood. She thought of freedom. Memories thrust themselves upon her. She did not invite them in, they simply arrived, pale ghosts wandering through her head.

Her swim in the calm sea beneath a serene sky had been all too brief. She scooped up a handful of sand and let it trickle down her leg. She wanted to make this moment forever.

She tried not to think about where the car was taking her -back to the bin. She wanted to sit here, on the back seat, forever, reassured by the comforting rhythm if the motor, travelling into an infinite golden sunset.

A place in which night was banished and sky and sea merged and she immersed herself in their cool shades of blue.

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The Chemical Lobotomy

April 23, 2017

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When I was first hospitalized as a teenager, I was, or so I was told, very ill. I was experiencing delusions I would rather not discuss in any detail here. Suffice to say I was only ever a danger to myself, never to others. As a result of this, I was forced to spend six months in the local psychiatric hospital. I was heavily medicated with the most primitive antipsychotic known to man: Chlorpromazine (aka Largactil in the UK, Thorazine in the US and the Chemical Kosh/lobotomy in both countries).

Chlorpromazine was the first of a new type of medication known as ‘neuroleptics’. They were introduced in the 1950s and were the only class of medication capable of combatting the positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions and hallucinations. They did not, as far as I am aware, do much for the negative symptoms.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a documentary entitled ‘Inside Strangeways’ on Channel Five, a terrestrial tv station I rarely watch. In 1985 an infamous riot broke out in the prison. One of its triggering factors was the use of Chlorpromazine to subdue its more troublesome prisoners. They would be forcibly medicated; held down and injected. It is a horrific experience; something I have never really got over. Even though I now see that it was a tragic necessity, I still find it hard to dwell upon. The sense of violation never really goes away.

Throughout my first stay in the hospital, I was on such a high dose of Chlorpromazine that my vision was permanently clouded over. I needed Procyclidine (an anti-Parkinsonian drug) to combat the side effects of the drug I was already taking. Those were the days when the hospital staff would wake you up to give you a sleeping pill then wake you up periodically throughout the night by shining a torch into your bed space. But they were doing the best they could with minimal resources. I know that now but for a long time I resented it. Time does heal some things.

All of this happened in the early ‘90s and thankfully, over the years, much has changed. Atypical antipsychotics such as Quetiapine and Abilify have been introduced. Therapy is no longer contraindicated. People are prepared to actually talk to you nowadays. Medication is no longer the only avenue of treatment.

At the moment I am taking Quetiapine and Abilify. I am told I should be reconciled to the fact that I may have to take this combination of medications for the rest of my life. This does not sit well with me. I worry about the impact these drugs may be having on my physical health. Quetiapine has been known to indirectly lead to diabetes or liver damage. And. if you google it, you will find a list of side effects a mile long. The less serious side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, constipation. The most serious side effects include high fever, confusion and permanent cognitive impairment (something I am terrified of.)

So I stand at a crossroads. I am tempted to simply stop taking the medication altogether so that I can be me again. But those around me say it is beneficial and I should continue taking it. I shall probably compromise and aim for the best possible results on the lowest dose of medication. This, I think, is the most sensible approach.

Volcano

April 15, 2017

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Pale Morning

April 7, 2017

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She stands
On the parapet
Of the bridge
Staring down
At the sparkling blue
Of the water below

Her body slices
Through the stillness
Of the pale morning
At one with the air
Shimmering
And translucent

She descends,
Greeting the dawn
She is ethereal
She is a ghost
Who slips through the cracks
In your consciousness

She bids you farewell
She no longer needs you
She exists now
Only in dreams
And in fragments
Of memory

And in the stories
You whisper to your children
On long, dark winter nights

Sucked In?

April 6, 2017

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My New Toy

I have recently acquired a new toy. I first saw it in the Certified Refurbished section of the online Apple Store and immediately fell in love with it. I knew I simply had to have it. My latest prized possession is a refurbished MacBook 10-inch Dual-core Intel Core M entry level model in gold; the 2015 model. I would have preferred rose-gold but that wasn’t introduced until 2016. Other colours available are silver and space grey. The price had been reduced to seventy five percent of the original.

History

My Mac history is convoluted. I purchased my first mac, a G4, back in 2006. https://rielouise.wordpress.com/2006/03/14/finally-opened/

After that I worked my way through a white MacBook and two MacBook Pros. I still use my 2012 model, the last one to sport an optical drive, as a desktop. My gateway product was the first generation iPod. That was when I became obsessed with Apple. That was when I became one of those infuriating Fan Girls who would defend the Cupertino-based company at all costs. I have matured slightly since then and I now look upon Apple (and everything else) with a more jaundiced eye.

Initial Impressions

Fast forward to last Friday: I snatched the MacBook from the hands of the delivery man and unboxed it; an almost surgical process. It is the Kate Moss of MacBooks: sleek, svelte and compact. It worked straight out of the box. Setting it up was a seamless process. It slotted neatly into my apartment’s Apple eco system. It hasn’t been out of my hands since delivery. It is cleaved to me, like an extra limb. I have hardly touched my iPad Air and barely glanced at my 2012 MacBook Pro. The latter looks ugly and chunky next to my slender new machine.

Impressive Features

It is widely acknowledged, even by the MacBook’s harshest critics, that its most impressive feature is its ultra portability. It weighs just two pounds. It feels like nothing in my backpack. So much so that I’ll pause and panic; momentarily afraid that I have lost it. It is a pleasure to carry around and I must confess I rather enjoy the admiring glances it attracts when I am typing away in the corner of some coffee shop.

There are many other features that make the MacBook a joy to use. Of course there is OSX itself (the main reason I would find it hard to go back to using a windows machine: it would feel like stepping back into another era.) I am heavily invested in the ‘Apple eco system’. I use iTunes Match, the iCloud, along with an iPhone and an iPad Air 2. Then there is its crisp, clear Retina display. Watching videos on this machine is an impressive experience, enhanced by the speakers – the best I have ever encountered on a laptop. It is also good for photo editing; my main activity on this machine. And I would imagine it would be beneficial for video editors too. And, last but not least, there is the new touch force trackpad.

Some Regrets

This is not a trivial purchase for me and I recognise that I have made some compromises. So some buyer’s remorse is inevitable. The single port caused the greatest fuss in the technology community. I am not in the habit of using peripherals so this isn’t such a big deal for me. For others though purchasing this model would be a one way ticket to Dongle Ville. I feel that Apple could have ameliorated this by including an adapter in the box, as they did with the iPhone 7. Another big issue for many is the keyboard. I am slowly getting used to it. No one denies though that the build quality is superb but is it a matter of form over function? Have I been sucked in to the Apple Reality Distortion Field? Who knows.

So would I recommend it? Not to everyone. If portability isn’t your thing, go for the MacBook Pro.

http://www.apple.com/uk/macbook/design/

Twisted Sisters

April 5, 2017

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Sunset

April 4, 2017

daughter_in_profile_by_bellarie-d70dfjcSunset

Evening and the sunset’s compress
Soothes our inflamed flesh
And I am stunned
By its sudden incandescent flare
The mud, the silt stretches for miles
Encompassing everything.
We watch the ocean rebound
Its sounds, its historic hiss
Slaughter all other sounds around
Injuring the air and to verify your existence
I grasp your hand. And above the elements
Bicker with one another and the sky
Is turning into a shade of sluttish red
Our cheeks are pinked by the wind.
And the watery colours
Bleed into one another. Diffusion –
A catalyst for confusion, for fear.
And the wind, once a gentle exhalation,
Huffs and puffs with all its might,
Grabbing hold of our hair, hauling us in.
And visions emerge from beneath the waves
Where a ship ran aground,
Where demented sailors drowned
It rises up. It bellows. A black cat shrieking,
Competing with our own blood pumping.
The gulls flee from it and fly, fly, fly into nothingness.

Slow Road to Dementia?

April 3, 2017

ice_mountain_by_bellarie

Cognitive Impairment in Middle Age

Slow Road to Dementia?

There is only one thing scarier than dementia and that is early onset dementia. But both of these disorders have a neglected second cousin: a neurological condition known as mild cognitive impairment. It has been established that cognitive decline can begin in your forties. The condition consists of ‘subtle deficits in cognitive function that nonetheless allow most people to live independently and participate in normal activities.’ It can be, in rare cases, a precursor to full on dementia.

I am on a variety of psychotropic medications. so I am susceptible to this condition.  I am taking more than the British National Formulary permits. At the moment I am experiencing memory loss, inability to think logically, inability to read fiction. Non fiction is okay. Strangely enough this is not listed as a side effect. Ironically, among the books I can read are those of my old nemesis Theodore Dalrymple. My brain empties of thought. I am forgetting words and names. I run out of material in the middle of a conversation. The conversations and concerns of others are perplexing. I am feeling  increasingly detached from the world around me. It feels as though the world was designed for the young. Then people started pulling away, which leads, in turn to a fear of intimacy. Suddenly I am middle aged and increasingly useless. I feel helpless in the face of this. All I can do is write about it.

Plagued by insecurities and doubts I did the worst thing imaginable.: I googled my symptoms. I can feel my brain slowly atrophying. Am I facing premature dementia? I am in my early forties. I am terrified. I see class action law suits against the company that manufactures my medicine. I read about weight gain and feel my flesh expanding. I read about pancreatitis and feel a sharp pain in my left side. How much is real? How much is psychosomatic? I have been perusing articles on the web dealing with cognitive decline. Just because you are paranoid, they say, it doesn’t mean that nobody is out to get you. I feel as though I have lost myself.

I have been researching solutions. Can this be overcome/ameliorated? What can medicine offer? I often panic when I am confronted with brain fog. This exacerbates the situation so calming tactics such as meditation and mindfulness are useful techniques. I also considered vitamin B12 deficiency. I am in the risk category for this condition. I am vegetarian and often neglectful of my diet. Blueberries are apparently a miracle fruit that may even be able to reverse cognitive decline. Physical exercise, even walking, can alleviate the condition.

Other problems that mimic cognitive decline are depression, medication side effects, or an underactive thyroid. I am praying it is the meds. I am also praying that it is reversible.

edit: in case anyone is interested the illustration accompanying this piece is entitled ‘Iceberg’.

Two Cats In The Yard

March 29, 2017

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Borderland

March 29, 2017

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No feud is enough to keep me from you
I brave the barricades and the border guards
And you appear so near now. I journey
Through memories in dark and restless sleep
A bleak borderland, a stark, dry terrain
Where suicidal strangers meet.

We dwell within the ancient walls
Of a forgotten country, scorched and frozen,
By turns; haunted by a history of hatred
A decimated island on which matchstick
Children stand, tormented by the sun
And praying for death.

This is a vulnerable state, on the edge of hell
Sandwiched between two superpowers
Clinging to an impossible peace
And all around there are pillars of salt,
Crumbling statues of fleeing citizens
Who dared to look back.

The father says, ‘Son, take this gun’
And sends his progeny off to war
And he carves curses upon stone
Primitive and inglorious
Hit by one calamity after another
We are all crazy here.


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