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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

The Text of the Polar Vortex

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one
has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome."
-- Booker T. Washington

Michael David Crawford, Baritone,
mdcrawford@gmail.com

Friday, February 8, 2019

In the Summer or so of 2010, I myself came up with what for me at least was a completely original model of the neurochemical processes in the human brain. I called it "The Self-Driven Firestorm". While some other may have thunk it up before I, I'd not heard tell of it before.

Real, physical firestorms, even very small ones such as ones that you can create with a campfire and a couple lunchroom trays by fanning the flames tangentially, are very powerful as well as commpletely uncontrollable once their Vortex Fluid Flow gets "Locked In". The Dresden Firestorm launched by the Royal Air Force and the US Army Air Forces toward the end of World War two killed one hundred thousand people. A similar firestorm in Tokyo killed just as many.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as a young body-builder

Governor Schwarzenegger

Real firestorms are powered by the combustion of wood in one's campfire, or that a city's structures are made out of, with the oxygen in the air. My Neurochemical Firestorms are powered by the oxidation of the Hydrogen and the Carbon in Glucose by the Oxygen that one's Red Blood Cells transport to one's brain.

My - as yet completely unsupported by any experiment nor physical evidence also modeled our learning and our memory on the "Microinjuries" that enable exercise to make us stronger: to stress a muscle just a little beyond its capacity causes small tears in one's muscle fibers; these tears then heal up into somewhat stronger muscle fibers. Lather Rinse Repeat: Lift weights, run, bike or swim or even dance three times per week and I Vill Pump Yoo Up Chust Leik Der Governator!

My model stipulate that we form new neural pathways as a result of the inability of our original ones to establish a "loop" - a very small but also self-sustaining circular pattern of neural transmissions - that is capable of representing some manner of neurological, sensory, memory, thought or psychological activity. For our brings to struggle yet fail to establish such loops results in failure and very, very small and minor physical damages to the very tiny, very fine tendrils that form each side of our Neural Synapses that use such Neurotransmitter chemicals as Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine or - I Am Absolutely Serious - Nitrous Oxide to transfer a neural signal from the end of one neuron, across the synapse's very small gap to the beginning of the next neuron.

HOWEVER!

In Physics we speak of "Motivating" our theories. For example, the curved shadows on the Moon during its various phases "motivated" the Ancient's hypothesis that the Earth was round - but those curved shadows did not prove the earth really was round; only direct measurement or experiment can do so.

I prefaced the following with the preceding with the above that you may have a basic and admittedly tenuous mental framework to aid you in understanding the rest of this essay:

I've been experiencing Tactile Hallucinations.

While quite rare for me, I have had Tactile Hallucinations a couple times before: one evening, a Deputy stepped into my cell than tapped me quite sharply on my shoulder. I turned to look only to puzzle over that my cell that had no other occupants than I, its heavy steel door locked securely.

What's quite different about this particular one is that it's persisted for two or three weeks; the others were just one-time occurrences.

It feels just like my phone is vibrating, even when it's not in my pocket!

I at first thought it was a Vascular Effect - something happening to the veins or arteries on the upper-front of my right leg - as I once experienced Paxil's "Electric Flashes" that a nurse I spoke to suggested Vascular Effect in my scalp. Perhaps the illusory phone vibrations are really the tiny muscles that act as valves in my circulatory system fluttering open and shut.

No.

This is quite definitely the very same experience that I have when my phone really does vibrate

All of my psychotic symptoms - Hallucinations as well as such Delusions as Paranoia - always have some Tiny Speck Of Truth deep within them. But my phone ringing all day?

Surely that symbolizes something important! The Client Who Never Calls?

Sarah Phoning Home?

("Sarah" is not her real name; I guard her privacy as she leads an excruciatingly miserable life.)

Just last night I was all set to look her up at Oregon Live's Death Notices, but gave her Just One Last Try:

"Please tell me you're not dead."

"I'm ok. Cold. Are you still at the hospital?"

Then Nothing More.

Despite Sarah's uncommon brevity she's quite heavily into reading, and so feels honored that I've been telling her story:

A book whose author I regard as self-righteously ignorant despite his being a Psychiatrist and which book's title is just "Schizophrenia" quite bluntly asserts that Schizophrenics only experience Auditory Hallucinations, that is, we "Hear Voices From Outside Our Heads".

In my entire life, I've Heard Voices just twice; both times, in ways I won't explain just now, I was able to make those Voices stop.

However, it is exceedingly common for me to see things that aren't really there.

In "Schizophrenia", that G-d's Gift To The Madmen also quite bluntly asserts that Visual Hallucinations are never the result of Schizophrenia but that of Organic Brain Injury or the abuse of such mind-altering drugs as LSD.

Most would regard them all as Hallucinations, but my actual experience is that there are Illusions, in which I see something that's real, but experience it as something entirely different, Hallucinations, which are entirely the products of my own imagination, and Visions.

I've only had one such Vision in all my days, but that one was a profoundly life-altering experience.

I describe it at the start of this page from Living with Schizoaffective Disorder, immediately below the photograph of mountains - Mount Wilson and the San Gabriels - immediately north of Pasadena's Caltech campus - the Yin-Yang Symbol that stretched from horizon to horizon:

In April 1994, in Soquel California, the Dominican Hospital's Mental Health Unit's Intake Psychologist Joan Junquera suggested that I had experienced a "Spiritual Emergence":

While obviously closely related, the distinction between Spiritual Emergence and Spiritual Emergency is that the Emergency occurs when the Emergence is profoundly disorienting, when it is poorly received by others, or when it is mistaken for garden-variety Psychosis and so inappropriately treated as such.

I've had by now three Spiritual Emergences, the first having resulted in a Spiritual Emergency due to the Caltech Community's being completely unprepared to help me through what I experienced in the Fall of 1984. Even my highly-insightful Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist at the Caltech Mental Health Center to the best of my understanding were unfamiliar with my experiences, as it had not been that long since Spiritual Emergence and Emergency Theories entered the mainstream of Psychology.

Back to April 1994... Simply put, quite literally overnight I was unable to make sense to anyone when I spoke, nor were they able to make sense to me, until Joan pointed out that:

"I understand that in more-traditional cultures, the Schizoaffectives are the Shamans".

As if struck by lightning, my whole entire utterly senseless life locked into clear and sharp focus. From then on we all made perfect sense to each other. I was discharged just four days after.

Did G-d Speak To Me That Autumn Night?

No, I spoke to myself. Or rather, I thought consciously with two portions of my brain whose thoughts are only unconscious for most.

Quite a lot of further reading led me to Geschwind Syndrome, a set of five personality traits are that common among those with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. Our Temporal Lobes are on either side of our brains just above our ears.

That I have all five traits, and that I experienced seizures from 2010 through 2015 - only partially controlled by the Trileptal (oxcarbazepine) that I started taking in the Summer of 2014 leads me to be completely convinced that I myself have Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

The Five Traits:

Hypergraphia

Need I explain that Hypergraphia is an obsession with writing?

Quite common is for Hypergraphic writing to be mindlessy repetitive - such as decades spent writing the very same sentence over and over again - or for that writing to have no real value unto itself.

At least some people like to read my Walls Of Text. ;-D

Hyperreligiousity

"Remember: if you talk to the Virgin Mary, that's prayer. If she talks back, that's psychosis."
-- Azuma Hazuki, at Soylent News

In addition to that life-altering Vision, it's not hard at all for me to go on "Shamanic Journeys", in which I ascend to Heaven to talk with G-d.

And He Talks Back.

But He speaks in what I denote as "The Language Of The Gods:

Despite being omnipotent and omnipresent, the Gods are very busy with their very important work and so have no time to waste. Therefore They speak in an ultra-refined, ultra-compact and ultra-expressive Language.

In The Very Sweetest Smoke, I write of being visited by a profoundly elderly as well as profoundly beautiful woman:

"My name is Jon," I said as I extended my hand in greeting.

I should explain that Jon is not so much my real name, but the label by which I refer to my real name. My name, when expressed in The Language of the Gods, is complex, subtle and very mysterious. You could devote your entire lives to the study of my real name, but even if you did so, you would only be able to approach the very most basic grasp of it.

That morning, when I asked Her name, She replied with Her real name, as expressed in The Language of the Gods. I write now not Her real name, but the label by which we all refer to it.

"What's yours?"

"Gaia."

"Please forgive me for not shaking your hand. I have no hands, you see. It's a problem."

I found myself filled not just with a profound sadness, but with an aching loneliness of such a depth as I have never known.

It was then and only then that I finally Knew. I Knew My Purpose.

I sat in quiet contemplation for a long time. But I knew well She would not be impatient.

Finally, I said, very softly and very gently:

"Why so sad?"

But softly at first, rain begin to fall.

Atypical Sexuality

I'll just leave this as an exercise for The Gentle Reader. :-0

Circumstantiality

This one is quite a serious problem in my Psychotherapy: I wander aimlessly and endlessly.

From The Free Dictionary: "A disturbed pattern of speech or writing characterized by delay in getting to the point because of the interpolation of unnecessary details and irrelevant remarks."

Compare this to Tangentiality: replying to questions with irrelevant answers, or as if one has heard some completely different question than that which was actually asked.

The difference between the two is that Circumstantial speech or writing eventually gets to the point; Tangential speech or writing does not, rather it actively evades coming to any conclusion.

Tangentiality is a hallmark trait of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, originally identified by New School For Social Research Psychologist David Shapiro, who denoted is as "Obsessive-Compulsive Style" in his 1965 text "Neurotic Styles".

I've got OCPD too; Dr. K. diagnosed me with the "Style" variety in March of 1994; it was just two weeks later on I think April 4th of 1994 that Dr. K. pleaded with me to admit myself to the Dominican Mental Health Unit because I was quite clearly far, far out of touch with reality.

Note that it's quite a different disorder than the more-widely understood Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: "OCPD" vs. "OCD". The language of Psychology is highly metaphorical.

Intensified Mental Life

This is not what most would at first expect of me:

It's quite common for me to quite happily go for days without talking to a human soul, as I rather enjoy being lost in my thoughts.

So much so that I quite deeply frightened my own Mother in fourth or fifth grade when I several times convinced Mom that I was stone deaf:

"MIKE! CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

"Yes?"

"Are you deaf? I just shouted your name right at you!"

"No Mom, I just wasn't listening."

Then again when I was thirty-three, several times during my first visit to my then-girlfriend, later wife, now ex - :-( - Bonita Hatcher in Truro, Nova Scotia.

I don't recall what I was thinking about, but I wasn't thinking about it in any intense way, rather I was idly letting my mind wander where it may.

Very, very slowly, I noticed that it was extremely cold, then - vaguely at first - quite a beautiful nature scene dawned upon my consciousness: at first I just notice a frozen waterfall, then the surrounding snow, then the frozen stream below the falls.

After a little while, I happened to notice an uncommonly beautiful young woman.

A little while later, for no reason I could fathom, I could see that she was extremely upset. Then:

"MIKE! MIKE! SNAP OUT OF IT!"

"PLEASE MIKE! DON'T DO THIS TO ME!"

For several weeks from that very strange day until I'd spent quite a lot of time talking with Dr. K, I remained mystified as to just why Bonita would be so very, very frightened at what she called "Living Inside My Head".

In my own experience, absolutely all I was doing when Mom or Bonita so fearfully shouted at me was idly mulling over some inconsequential things. Even so, Dr. K. and I were able to work together to put that particularly extreme variety of Head-Living to a permanent end.

Only just a few months ago, I finally figured out - as a result of my familiarity with other types of Dissociative experiences, that whenever I Lived Inside My Head, I was experiencing a a Dissociative Trance.

Only just now by clicking a link in the above article, I discovered that what I had long regarded as Dissociative Fugues - more commonly known as Fugue States - were more likely to have been Dissociative Amnesia:

I've long puzzled as to why I've experienced several Fugue States - for durations ranging from sixteen hours to a month - despite that such States are exceedingly rare.

From time to time, a sad and desperate person while appear in the news begging for someone to tell them Who They Really Are! This because those who experience Fugue States - very rarely - live for many years with no memory whatsoever of where they came from, where they went to school, while they may know all about, say, Electrical Engineering they will have no memory of actually attending college, who their parents were and the like.

From time to time, it will turn out that this sorrowful victim is living just thirty or forty miles from their home and their grieving friends, family and loved ones.

That's not my experience, not consciously, anyway:

What happens in my experience is that there is a short, sudden fade-out, just like in a movie. Then instantaneously, I am somewhere far away, among completely different people who are often strangers to me.

Not only don't know how I got there, often so very disoriented that do not even remember my own name until some time has passed.

Others told me when I asked that I appeared conscious, in that I could walk and talk, but that I did not appear conscious of the world around me. The desk clerk at the San Jose, California Fairmont Hotel dialed 9-1-1 because I was saying something about "Alien Conspiracies".

But what I actually experienced is that it was late at night, I was very tired but even so wanted to do quite a lot of work on my website. I plugged in my MacBook Pro in the Fairmont's lobby, sat in a chair, opened my laptop then...

... fade-out.

Quite Suddenly And Completely Out Of Nowhere I was outside and with two very In My Face and Angry Emergency Medical Technicians who were both shouting at me, demanding to know if I had any weapons.

WUT?

The very first time I had this experience, as if G-d Almighty Himself said "Let There Be Mike!" I found myself quite unexpectedly behind the wheel of some complete stranger's car, driving on a twisty mountain road, well over the speed limit yet with complete safety.

I had Absolutely No Idea where I'd come from nor where I was going. I had no memory whatsoever of any times before the instant I instantaneously popped into existence.

A while later, to pass Mount Shasta led me to realize that I'd set out late the previous afternoon's from Mom's place in Salmon Creek, an unincorporated community just North of Vancouver, Washington, and that I was driving home to San Jose, California.

A couple hours later, I recovered the memory of having been pulled over by the Oregon State Patrol, then quite cheerfully let go without even a verbal warning when I sadly explained that "work has been slow lately".

Well into California's Sacramento Valley on Interstate 5, I recalled writing a Kuro5hin Diary while seated at a table at the Medford, Oregon Sharis Restaurant And Pies - try the No-Sugar Added Marionberry, It's To Die For! While I do recall some of the text of that Diary, I don't remember parking my car in the parking lot, entering the restaurant, being shown to my table, I don't know whether I actually posted that Diary, what I had to eat if I even had anything to eat nor whether I paid. I don't remember leaving the place, I don't remember getting in my car nor getting back on the road.

That led me to conclude: Oregon at night does not really exist.

Immediately upon arriving home, at my own home as well as several other buildings, I kept finding myself locked out of doors - this despite that I later really did find my house key on my keyring.

My business card wallet as well as my phone quite mysteriously disappeared then reappeared in plain sight.

I rang up Psychiatrist Justing Grey MD in South San Jose then left a voicemail inquiring what he might thing was going on.

In the early evening, I went to stay for - what we planned anyway - three weeks with my friend Ann Brolly in Half Moon Bay; Ann's toddler Ailes - French for "Wings", as in "Angel Wings" - was on Dialysis and awaiting a Kidney Transplant. Ann asked me to stay with her and her daughter as Ann's sister Beth and their mother, also Beth, were to be away from home.

Just after I'd gone to bed, Dr. Grey's Assistant returned my call and said:

"You left a message today in which you asked... questions... Please go to a hospital."

I've spent years struggling to understand why she didn't understand my quite straightforward question: "Dr. Grey, why do my business card wallet and phone keep disappearing and reappearing?"

That Dr. G's Assistant and I expect Dr. G himself couldn't figure out my "... questions..." eventually led me to conclude I was speaking in "Word Salad", a symptom of quite severe Psychosis. I've only known just two others to speak that way, leading me to conclude Word Salad must be quite rare.

However, again in my experience, it is in reality quite easy to understand - and to understand well - Word Salad: the actual words themselves are irrelevant; all the meaning is in the tones, the inflections and the emotional connotations of the words, but not at all in the actual definitions of the words:

"Hi! My name is Mike. I'm very sorry - I'm bad with names. could you remind me of yours?

"Paul McCartney." (My friend was carrying a guitar.)

"How've you been, it's been a while since we last met."

"My mother's name is Jane."

"Can you tell me your mother's last name?"

"See that fish in the tank there? He's my friend!"

"Where does your friend live?"

"Scottsdale, Arizona."

Eventually I managed to extract his Mother's name from him, rang up Scottsdale's Directory Assistance, then his mother, who told me what while she did know that her son lived in Portland, Oregon, she had no way to contact him. The two of them had not spoken for well over ten years.

"Hey Paul! You're Mom's on the phone!"

"I like to ride bikes."

Then the two of them had a perfectly lucid and rational conversation.

That second time Paul and I met, both times on the Trimet MAX Yellow Line, I accompanied him to the once-grand hotel in Oldtown where he lived in a single room. That once-grand hotel was not a very nice place. Even so, I could see that the gentlemen at the desk was possessed of naught but kindness, mercy and concern for his tenants, every last one of them as crazy as my old homey Paul McCartney.

It is important that I stop writing.

I Must Stop Writing Right Now.

Fortunately, I have a simple yet powerful device, crafted in the Eighth Level Of Hell by the Daughter of Lucifer herself, that is completely effective, but only to make me stop writing, and only when I really need to so.

DON'T TOUCH IT! You don't want to get hurt!

Step well back lest you be caught in the blast.

Are you ready?

And-A One, And-A Two, And-A...

STOP

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