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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

Please to Forgive

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My Deepest Fear

They're the worse kind of police there are.
If they catch you, there ain't no attorney gonna save your ass:
You're going DOWN.

Michael David Crawford, Consulting Software Engineer
Solving The Software Problem
mdcrawford@gmail.com

September 6, 2006

This is a chapter from The Vancouver Diaries: last week I left my wife behind in Atlantic Canada then flew to British Columbia hoping to make a better life for both of us.

I explained in A Time-Honored Technique why, despite being deeply in debt, I don't fear bill collectors. Anyone who has faced the kind of Horror that I have and survived to tell the tale knows that credit reports and bill collectors just aren't that big a deal.

I will tell you what I really worry about: The Thought Police.

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Copyright © 2006 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

I placed this story under a Creative Commons License to encourage you to copy and distribute it. I hope that by doing so I can get every cop in the land to read it someday.

The Thought Police have pursued me for over twenty years. I always managed to escape, but many times they have come close enough to catching me that I feared for the worst.

I managed to evade them completely from May of 1994 until shortly after I published Living with Schizoaffective Disorder here at Kuro5hin in April of 2003. I thought they'd never find me in Maine, but I'm afraid I've never been that good at covering my tracks. One night they chased me down the highway all the way from Portland to Rockland. I don't know how it can be that they keep finding me yet never manage to actually catch me, but once again I escaped.

The Thought Police are the worst kind of police there are. If they catch you, there ain't no attorney gonna save your ass: You're going DOWN.


Contents

Busted

[Top]

I know this all too well, because someone filming a documentary in downtown San Jose just by chance managed to capture on tape The Thought Police busting one of their Most Wanted. The cops seized the tape from their camera as evidence, but they somehow managed to get it back. I was horrified when I saw it on the TV news because I knew I might be next. My memory of that day has never been far from my mind.

For no apparent reason, a mentally ill homeless man walked up to a police officer, pulled the cop's gun from his holster and immediately shot him dead. I don't remember clearly, and I couldn't find a web page about it, but I think he may have killed other officers before the San Jose Police Department's massive and immediate response mowed him down in a hail of bullets.

We can never know for sure just why he turned himself in to The Thought Police. But I can hazard a guess.

The Forgotten Ones

[Top]

I will now introduce a theme to which I will return frequently in The Vancouver Diaries. Vancouver is a vibrant, prosperous city, with no shortage whatsoever of comfortable, well-off people, some of whom welcomed me into their society just last week.

But there are many unfortunate people in Vancouver too: the homeless, the mentally ill, the batshit insane, the addicted and the women who sell their bodies for the pleasure of strange and uncaring men. No doubt there are men who sell their bodies too.

There's no damn good reason to be homeless in a country like The Soviet Republic of Canuckistan. But even safety nets have holes in them: the shelters won't house addicts because that enables their addiction, and some crazy people either refuse treatment or are just too far gone to know they could get free room and board for the asking. Some are too far gone to find their way back if they wander too far from home.

I am by nature a very shy and quiet man. I am far more comfortable staying home with my books, my writing, my cat, my dogs and my piano than going out in the company of even my closest friends. But I know from my experience of the soul-crushingly lonely time I spent couch-surfing while working on-site in San Francisco back at the start of the dot-com crash that the success of my move to Vancouver depends far more on my ability to make new friends here than any amount of work I might do at my new job.

That's why I have made a continous, concerted effort to strike up conversations with every single stranger that has been willing to sit still and listen to me, and even a few who weren't. It's been quite a stretch but it's worked surprisingly well: I have made several good friends already, in just... let me count them... six days.

But you're likely to be surprised at some of my choices for friends.

I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General

[Top]

In every respect, I look, act and dress the part of a Senior Software Engineer who is employed by a successful firm. I don't just talk the talk, I can walk the walk: my credentials are impeccable; the code I write is of the very best quality.

I'm a good coder. I have a Bachelor's degree in Physics. I even went to school at Caltech. I have written and, more importantly, shipped more top-quality software products than I can even count anymore - I have been a software engineer for nineteen years. All of my products that have been reviewed by the trade press got top marks, and some of my programs made millionaires of the employers and clients who paid me to write them. That's why you'll be surprised to hear that every single time I ever read my own resume I am unable to believe it's anything but a work of fiction.

But try as I might, I am unable to find even a single word of untruth in my resume. I can't even find any exaggerations. I am forced to accept that it really was I who wrote all that code, and did a damn good job too.

But the long-sleeve dress shirts I wear to work, my khaki pants, my two hundred dollar Rockport shoes, my short, neatly-trimmed hair, my Panama hats, my air of respectability - they are all outright, bald-faced lies. The fact that I even pretend to act like a Senior Software Engineer? It's all a charade!

I swear to God I'm telling the Gospel Truth! I'm living a lie, and have been for almost twenty years:

It's called "passing". I learned to pass about a year after The Thought Police actually had me in handcuffs but I managed to break free and escape:

Passing refers to the ability of a person to be regarded as a member of a particular group other than his or her own, such as a different race, ethnicity, class, sex, or disability status, generally with the purpose of gaining social acceptance.

Possibly the most remarkable example of passing in History was portrayed in the film Europa, Europa: a teenage Jewish boy survived the Holocaust by pretending to be an Aryan war orphan. He was adopted by a prominent Nazi Party official and enrolled in an elite school for Hitler Youth. His name is Solomon Perel, and his reward for his bald-faced lie was to live to a ripe old age. He appears at the end of the film, living in modern day Israel and playing a flute.

While he and I committed different offenses he was then and I am now both fugitives, but we both remained Free because we quickly learned a deadly important lesson:

Every fugitive from justice must learn to pass if he is to remain a Free man.

More than that, we must toe The Straight And Narrow Path. The slightest transgression, even so much as a parking ticket, and you're dead. On my first day here all the headlines told of man named Daniel Perrault who tried to rob a Vancouver convenience store. The cashier maced him, then chased him down the street while screaming at the top of her lungs. Two security guards tackled him only to find that he had disappeared from a halfway house where he was serving out the end of his fifteen year sentence for manslaughter and sexual assault.

Had Mr. Perrault learned to be a law abiding citizen, he might have been able to remain free for the rest of his life. Perhaps he could have even gone back to school to learn how to program computers and one day been promoted to Senior Software Engineer. He won't get the chance again: he's going back to prison.

Why I am a Law-Abiding Citizen

[Top]

If it were just me, if I were still single, I might not be so careful. I don't know how many times my truck got ticketed for expired tags before the City of Santa Cruz rang me up and told me I'd get the boot if I didn't pay them two thousand bucks.

But that was a long time ago; I'm married now, and I have my wife to think about. The Thought Police don't care one damn bit that Bonita isn't done with art school yet, and that she'll have to spend years struggling to develop her work before she has any hope of being able to provide for herself with her art. Being married, being someone's sole provider, that's no defense whatsoever when you're wanted by The Thought Police.

I thought I'd be safe in Canada, but I didn't count on the fact that The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Always Get Their Man. My heart damn near stopped when a Mountie suddenly turned on his lights and sirens right next to me at a stoplight late one night. I let my guard down for just a moment and didn't realize I was pulling up next to a police car. But he was after someone else; I was to live another day.

Bonita and I still joke about it, but to me it's not one damn bit funny that one afternoon I drove right into a whole parade of cops coming the other way down Arthur Street in Truro. I thought I was hallucinating: there had to be at least two hundred uniformed police officers marching in step behind a motorcycle cop, lights flashing, leading the way. And every single one of them was a woman: a hundred women in blue city police uniforms just behind the motorcycle followed by a hundred female Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in their famous red dress uniforms.

Another close call: I read in the paper the next day that Truro was host to a female police officer's convention.

What I said is true, that legal advice won't help when The Thought Police bust you. But I got help anyway. I had no idea why they were after me again, in another country even, or what crime I could possibly have committed, but I was new to Canada and many of its laws are completely different from the ones back home.

I knew that if I didn't fix this situation but quick, Bonita was going to be a widow. I didn't hesitate for a minute once I realized that fact: I got the very best legal advice money can buy. The first attorney I met with realized the gravity of the situation and immediately referred me to a legal specialist with whom I continued to consult until just a couple weeks before I left home.

My attorney and I got to be good friends. He's easy to like; even in my most fearful moments he can put me at ease with his humour. I said to him once "You don't have a serious bone in your body, do you?" He was on vacation when I left for Vancouver so I never got a chance to say goodbye. I didn't think a phone call was good enough, so I bought a nice card and wrote him a letter on the plane from Ottawa to Vancouver then mailed it from my hotel.

I had to pay a lot of money for the first attorney, but it was worth every penny. The guy who she referred me to, my humorous friend, has worked for me pro-bono ever since. I told you he was a great guy!

More importantly, I remain a Free man, and even have some reason to believe I may have survived beyond the Statute of Limitations: even The Thought Police aren't so cruel as to pursue a man who has genuinely rehabilitated himself. To a criminal, to a fugitive, yes, they are merciless and swift at dispensing justice. But The Thought Police obey the law themselves; they never wrongfully convict anyone. They don't plant evidence. They don't drop guns next to anyone's dead body because they never kill a man without cause. They don't ever even tap a telephone without a properly executed warrant signed by a judge.

I thought the whole world had gone crazy when they first came for me, that nothing whatsoever made the least bit of sense. But over the years I realized that there is a certain sense, a certain completely rational logic to the laws they enforce and the manner with which they enforce them. That's why I'm still Free. That's why I even think I might even be able to remain that way for the rest of my life.

My Salvation

[Top]

I recently realized that The Thought Police are in fact willing to forgive every criminal who does what it takes to rehabilitate himself. Unfortunately, they aren't willing to tell any of us how to go about it. The best they will do is drop hints. Stray too far and they'll chase you down, but if you obey the law again they'll leave you alone, maybe even for years. We can all get our records expunged if we are clever enough to figure out what makes The Thought Police tick, and work hard enough at making cases for our innocence to a judge.

But few have the stamina to persist for so many years. Even the simplest felon can figure out The Thought Police if he thinks about it long and hard enough, but the mental effort required is very taxing so most give up long before they are pardoned.

Not to mention the legal fees. I paid at least sixty grand to my attorney back in Santa Cruz. While there are public defenders, I soon realized I would only get what I paid for, and only by earning the money myself. I am very fortunate at having been able to learn a new trade, one that actually pays pretty well.

I said earlier that I would introduce a theme tonight to which I would repeatedly return. I said you would find my choice of friends perplexing. I said that despite its prosperity, Vancouver is home to many poor people too. In fact, the poorest neighborhood in the entire Nation of Canada is just six blocks or so from where I work in Gastown:

The Greatest Give One Can Give

[Top]

Saturday afternoon I ventured out onto East Hastings Street to see if it was really as dangerous as I had heard.

It was. Just down the street was a big crowd of really hard-looking, unfortunate people. I immediately realized it was the wrong place for a naive country boy like me.

I wasn't on East Hastings for ten seconds before I got solicited by a really hard-looking prostitute.

I want to explain to you why, despite that I did not take her up on her offer, I looked her right in the eye and smiled gently for a moment before I silently turned and walked away.

In Melancholia I wrote:

In the deepest parts of depression the isolation becomes complete. Even when someone makes the effort to reach out, you just cannot respond even to let them in. Most people don't make the effort, in fact they avoid you. It is common for strangers to cross the street to avoid coming close to a depressed person.

If you come across a depressed person as you go about your day, one of the kindest things you can do for them is to walk right up, look them straight in the eye, and just say hello. One of the worst parts of being depressed is the unwillingness that others have to even acknowledge that I'm a member of the human race.

I am a country boy at heart. I have never liked living in cities because they make me feel so anonymous. What I hated the most about going to school at Caltech, in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, was that anytime I got more than two blocks from campus no one knew who I was anymore. It wasn't for a couple of years, not until just a couple months before I dropped out of Caltech entirely that I made my first off-campus friend.

But I know that even worse than living in a city, even worse then being anonymous in a city, even worse than being all alone in a city of millions of people without a single friend not just in Vancouver but in the whole entire world, is:

The single most fucked-up awful feeling that one can have is to know, to be absolutely certain of because it is beaten into you blow by blow, every day, maybe even a hundred times a day, that not only does no one care about you, but that you are actually not even worth caring about, that you are one of The Untouchables, that you are less than, that you are sub-human, that you are a burden on society, that you are a blight on what would otherwise would be one of the most beautiful cities on the face of the Earth.

To know, deep in your heart, that no one whatsoever would miss you, or even notice, if you just dropped dead.

And why?

Because you are homeless.

Because you are mentally ill.

Because you are addicted.

Because you are a woman who sells your body for the pleasure of strange and uncaring men.

Because you are a man who does the same.

And just how do I know that such people have the most fucked-up awful feeling in the entire world? There's one more reason one might feel that way:

Because You Are Batshit Insane.

In a moment I'll explain why I smiled so gently at the hooker. They have a saying for it in Alcoholics Anonymous:

There But For The Grace Of God Go I.

I must have said that to myself twenty times a day since I got here last Thursday night, and every single time it's made my eyes well up with tears. A couple of times I've said it on the phone to Bonita and it made me cry like a baby. Sometimes I get so choked up I can't even say it, but have to stop talking until I can calm down.

The Very Finest Accomodations

[Top]

You see, I'm doing OK these days, but I've been batshit insane on more than a few occasions because I have Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder. It's just like being Schizophrenic and Manic Depressive at the same time.

Back when The Thought Police almost had me but I managed to give them the slip, I was so profoundly manic that I did not sleep for five entire days. Staying awake long enough all by itself can make you insane; a little longer and your brain will hemorrhage and you will die.

By the time I was able to get a doctor to give me medicine powerful enough to make me sleep, I was hallucinating so hard I could not see where I was going when I walked. He asked what I saw and I said "There are worms coming out of your face".

I slept for over twenty-four hours. When I awoke I was lying on a stretcher in a psychiatric hospital.

A very special psychiatric hospital, full of very special psychiatric patients. The hospital's chief administrator was a well-known Los Angeles resident named Sherman Block. I cannot possibly forget his name because it was printed on all the cartons of milk that came with our meals; Mr. Block also operated a farm on the outskirts of town whose cows supplied the milk we all drank there in the hospital.

What made us all special was that, while not all of us were criminals, all of us were accused. The best any of us could hope for was to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Mister Block was elected to his position as hospital administrator: he was better known as Sheriff Sherman Block. Three times a day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, I drank a carton of the very finest Sheriff Sherman Block-brand milk, its carton emblazoned with his pointy Sheriff's badge, the carton's contents milked daily from the happy cows at the Los Angeles County Honor Rancho where those of Sheriff Block's clients who maintained the very best behavior during their stay were able to pay their debt to society.

When I awoke on that stretcher, I was in the Mental Health Block, number 2600, in the Los Angeles County Central Men's Jail. It holds ten thousand men. Each of us patients had the very finest accomodations: a private cell of our own. Most inmates had to live in overcrowded dormitories.

But it wasn't The Thought Police who brought me there. Remember I escaped from them.

No, the regular police who arrested me then brought me downtown when they discovered I needed psychiatric care were in every respect kind, courteous, helpful and thoughtful, and made it abundantly clear they felt bad for the trouble I was in and the fact that I was mentally ill. They brought me to The Mental Health Block because the Pasadena City Jail did not have a staff psychiatrist.

Undercover

[Top]

You see, the Thought Police aren't real. I didn't understood that at first, but even once I grasped completely that they are in fact figments of my imagination, it was of no comfort whatsoever:

You see, it turns out that knowing that you're paranoid doesn't make the paranoia go away.

Quite often I see The Thought Police, and, on rare occasion, I can hear Them calling my name. And every time I see them, feel their presence, and worst of all, hear them calling for me to come turn myself in, I fear for my life.

The Thought Police are the most secret and shadowy of all police forces. The only people who can see them, hear them or even sense their presence are us fugitives. No innocent person is ever aware they even exist. I and many other fugitives have tried to warn them they might be in danger, but every time we try they all just look at us like we're out of our minds.

To catch one of Their fugitives leaves the arresting officer with such a heavy burden of guilt - if he even survives the experience - that no real police officer ever willingly volunteers to enlist in The Thought Police Force. The Thought Police are thus forced to resort to press gangs: when a fugitive finally grows weary enough of his life on the run that he willingly turns himself in to The Thought Police, They will find the nearest real police officer and take possession of his soul so he can welcome the accused in from the cold.

Thus you can see that the arresting officer is never responsible for what transpires. But as he is a law enforcement officer and not a criminal, he is blind to the presence of The Thought Police, even when they exert complete control over his body. The poor cop never believes anyone who tries to comfort him by asserting he had no control over the situation, that it was not his fault or that it was an Act of God. Every arresting officer spends the rest of his life wishing that he had somehow found a way to violate his oath by failing to enforce The Law just that one time.

The Guardians

[Top]

Our attorneys are the only ones who believe us when we beg for protection from The Thought Police. But because they are innocent, our attorneys cannot see Them themselves but must rely on our keener senses to warn of Their presence. There are a few attorneys who can both see and defend from The Thought Police: fugitives who are so talented at passing that they can work in the legal profession while running from the law themselves. Those of us fugitives who have studied hard enough to pass The Bar Exam have a special insight into The Thought Police which enables us to secure the Freedom of even the most incorrigible fugitive.

I discovered my special power very early on but soon realized my blessing could only help others, never myself:

In the Intensive Care Unit of the Alhambra Community Psychiatric Center, I saw a man named Bernard desperately squirming in a chair as if he was trying to hide from a tormentor. He repeatedly made The Sign Of The Cross with two outstretched fingers. He was able to keep his attacker at bay but could not drive him away entirely.

"What's your name?"

"Bernard."

"Who is that there? Who is bothering you so much?"

"It's The Devil. I can't get him to leave me alone!"

"Can I help somehow?"

"Please say 'I Bless you in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour."

"OK." After I crossed myself I said "I Bless you Bernard in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord And Saviour". And he relaxed for the first time since my arrival several days before. My blessing had excorsized the Demon which had possessed his Soul.

Bernard was safe, but only for a time. Eventually The Devil returned to torment Bernard yet again.

I have never witnessed anyone else do what I can easily do, so I asked one of the Alhambra CPC Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit Psychiatric Nurses who watched me do it when she stepped out from her desk:

Did you see what I did?

Yes.

I knew instantly what to do, and that it would work on my very first try. But I don't know why it worked.

You entered his reality. If you understand the rules that apply there, you can bring him some relief.

But I cannot always be on my guard - there just isn't enough of me to go around. I hope that by writing essays such as this one I can help us Forgotten Ones learn to help ourselves. Information Wants To Be Free after all, and web hosting is cheap. It's the least I could do.

Thus I finally understand a perplexing statement another nurse made to me once, just as I was leaving that Intensive Care Unit:

We could learn so much from you.

In reality, I cannot make Schizophrenics stop hallucinating just by talking to them. But every Schizophrenic can make himself stop, just by thinking about doing so, by adopting a certain state of mind. It's just that they don't know they can until I give them that Insight.

While healing the minds of the mentally ill comes easily to me, I knew I needed a law degree if I was ever to pass The Bar. That's why, after six weeks of intensive training, I volunteered for the night hotline of the Suicide Prevention Service of Santa Cruz County back when I was a student at UC Santa Cruz.

Several times I took phone calls from people standing at payphones with loaded guns in their hands who had every intention of blowing their brains out when we finished speaking. But all it took was an hour or so of active listening to get them to unload their guns and go home to bed. In a year on the hotline, I never once had to call 911.

Many times I've considered studying for a Ph.D. or M.D. so I could be a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. But I prefer to practice the law as a paralegal, on the streets, as one of The Forgotten Ones. I must never forget my roots.

When My Blood Runs Cold

[Top]

That's why I have, for many years, sought and paid for the very best legal advice money can buy. But the attorney I met with in the Emergency Room of the Colchester-East Hants Health Authority in Truro, Nova Scotia December of 2003 was no lawyer:

She was a young Russian psychiatrist named Marina Sokolenko. I'm pretty sure they paged her and made her drive all the way to Truro from Halifax, as I had to wait a long time for her to get there and she arrived wearing a short skirt and black fishnet stockings, not the sort of attire most medical professionals wear to work.

(She was quite surprised when I said, in Russian, that I spoke Russian. I studied it at Caltech.)

And the legal specialist she referred me to was a fellow named Dr. M.. I'm sorry, but he asked me once not to write his full name in my essays. I'll explain why later.

He was my psychiatrist starting the week after I met Dr. Sokolenko in December 2003 up until a couple weeks ago. I don't think he knows I moved to Vancouver yet; I have to call soon to cancel our next appointment, and ask him to write a letter I can use to get a referral to a new psychiatrist here in my new home.

And the reason I decided to it was so urgent to seek legal advice, and went to the Emergency Room, and threw an absolute shit-fit at the Emergency receptionist when she demanded I pay two hundred and fifty bucks before I could see a doctor - I wasn't covered by Canada's Medicare yet - was that I knew I was just days away from making the worst mistake a fugitive from justice can ever make:

I knew Damn well that if someone could not stop The Thought Police from chasing me, they were going to catch me in just a few days, a week at the most.

I was getting ready to confuse a real cop for a Thought Cop. It's not always a fatal error, but it easily can be, as the poor guy might be faced with having to defend himself from me trying to defend myself from Them. And I knew I could not and would not blame him for doing so, even if it cost me my life:

You see, The Thought Police aren't coming to arrest me. They never have been. They never arrest anyone. The Thought Police don't have jails and there is no arraignment because you can't get out on bail. There is no judge and there is no trial because there is no evidence to present. Not only is one not entitled to a defense attorney, there is no prosecutor either. There is no jury, no sentence, no prison, no parole.

One is not set free when one has paid one's debt to society because no one ever survives paying it. The currency with which The Thought Police collect society's money is denominated in human lives.

But when one has been caught by The Thought Police, one does have a choice: there is the gallows, the chair, the firing squad. One can even ask for a certain kind of mercy known as lethal injection.

It's long been out of fashion, but a long time ago, in France, The Thought Police also offered the guillotine. I understand it's still available upon request.

I never, ever once thought they were coming to arrest me. No:

I knew they were coming to kill me.

It's called Officer-Assisted Suicide. I understand it's the worst thing that can happen to a cop, worse even than giving his life in the line of duty because he knows he must take the life of an innocent man to save his own.

Why I Went Straight

[Top]

But what's worse, it would make Bonita cry.

Oh!

How she would cry!

Nothing makes me feel worse than to see Bonita cry. I've said it before, I've said it to her, I've said it to everyone who will sit still long enough to hear me say it:

If there was only one thing I could change about myself, it's that sometimes I make Bonita cry.

And it is Bonita, and Bonita alone, that led my decision to once and for all do whatever it took to finally rehabilitate myself, so that The Thought Police could never threaten my life again. If it were just me, if I were still single and on my own, I know for a fact that I would not have bothered. After all I lost when I went batshit insane back at Caltech in 1984, I never really felt I had much more left to lose. Not until I met Bonita:

I would not then and will not now make Bonita a widow because I don't care enough, because I don't try hard enough to stay well.

I Lived To See One More Sunrise

[Top]

I'm going to have to stop before I make an awful scene. Now that the Sun has come back up there's a bunch of people in the cafe and I have been crying for over an hour.

I don't know when I'll be able to post it, but in my next Vancouver Diary I'll tell you about my dinner last night with an impressively well-traveled young man named Gavor, and what I saw that made me burst into tears as we left the restaurant.

My team meeting starts in one hour and forty-five minutes. Just enough time to walk back to the hotel, eat breakfast and get ready for work.

The Hooker

[Top]

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Sometimes I have a brain like a squid.

The reason I looked in the eye of the prostitute I met on East Hastings Street, the reason I smiled so gently at her then lingered for a moment, the reason I turned silently away rather than telling her I didn't want to purchase her wares, was this:

I knew, because I could see it in her eyes, that I was able, if only for an instant, to make her understand that a man really could appreciate her beauty for who she was, rather than agree she was worth her asking price because she happened to be equipped with a cunt.

I do alright at work, I do alright back at the hotel because the Westin Bayshore's twenty-dollar-a-day wireless Internet hardly ever works, but when I walk the streets of the city, and especially when I sit in one of the two Robson Street Blenz Coffees to use their free wireless, like the one here at Bute where I just pulled an all-nighter, I don't do so well. No, I don't do well at all, and it's not because I'm crazy:

For days now I have burst into tears damn near every twenty minutes because there are far more sad and lonely down-and-out people in Vancouver than I can even bear to contemplate.

The Thought Police Academy

[Top]

I wrote in the conclusion to Living with Schizoaffective disorder:

It is likely that you've heard or read the ramblings of a mentally ill person and written them off as inspired by delusion. But there is often truth behind even the most paranoid manifestoes, sometimes a terrible truth, if only you were able to decipher their real meaning.

You see it is not quite true that what we see hear and feel isn't real. In most cases we really do sense The Truth. The problem is that The Truth is revealed to us as metaphor, but we experience it as literal reality.

The Truth we see actually comes from within our own minds, but we see, hear and feel its presence metaphorically in other people through a process called projection:

In psychology, psychological projection (or projection bias) is a defence mechanism in which one attributes ("projects") to others, one's own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or/and emotions. Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted subconscious impulses/desires without letting the ego recognize them. The theory was developed by Sigmund Freud and further refined by his daughter Anna Freud.

There really is someone who is out to get all us paranoid people, but our persecutors lie within our own subconscious minds. The fact that I have been insightful enough to understand and accept this for twenty years is of no help whatsoever: my tormentors still follow me everywhere. My only comfort is the powerful, expensive, mind altering drug I take that deadens my senses enough for me to relax a little and feel safe.

Projection is also the primary case of stigma: we hate the most in others that which we hate the most in ourselves. Homophobia, for example, often arises in the minds of men who doubt their own sexuality. Hitler persecuted the Jews because he was ashamed of his own Jewish heritage.

The mentally ill are hated, and many hate me for incessantly whoring my essays on mental illness because darkness lurks in the hearts of all men, not just the crazy ones. Yet, at the risk of my reputation, my livelihood, even my career, I continue to proclaim my batshit insanity from the highest rooftops because I know that the education of the sane is the key to our survival.

I accept such awful risks because I know that stigma kills. The Jews of Europe weren't the only ones to die in the gas chambers: I would have joined them had I lived in Europe a little over sixty years ago.

God's Hourglass

[Top]

I sat up all night at the Bute and Robson Blenz Coffee to write this chapter of The Vancouver Diaries after working only two days at my new job because I knew I might not get a second chance: a new friend I made that night works there. His name is Jeff. Optimistic, idealistic and proud of his Chinese heritage, Jeff is working three jobs so he can put himself through school starting next year.

But Jeff's idealism struck me as a little naive. It was when he told me of his career aspirations that I knew I had not a moment to waste. I couldn't be certain I'd keep running into him:

When Jeff graduates from University, he hopes to be accepted into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan.

It's not just that I want to warn Jeff never to enlist in The Thought Police Force:

Jeff is such a fine, upstanding young man that the worst thing that could happen to me would be for him to be my Arresting Officer should I ever decide to turn myself in someday. While I might have survived beyond the Statute of Limitations, there is no way for me to ever know.

There may be no hope for me, but there still is for Jeff. I simply cannot fail in my duty to warn him.

Time may be running out.

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