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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

Do Not Believe Your Eyes

Question Reality. I do; you should too.
This is no joke - I mean this in all seriousness.
We would all be better off if we did not put such great faith in what we experience.

"... you may be surprised to hear that even if one is self-aware enough to know that one is experiencing paranoia, to understand clearly that what one thinks is a delusion, it doesn't make the delusions go away."
-- Paranoia, from Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

In San Diego during the Spring of 1997, thirty-eight young web designers and their elderly UFO Cult leader committed suicide with such great enthusiasm that they all wore brand-new Nike high-top sneakers so as to be properly dressed for the occasion. It was the Heaven's Gate mass suicide that convinced me to start writing publicly about my mental illness, but throughout the entire twenty-one years since I made that decision, my over-arching goal has been to make the public know that our grasp on reality is not as concrete as most would believe: none of those web designers were mentally ill.

Corpse of Heaven's Gate UFO Cult suicide victim.

Nike: Just Do It.

My first Psychiatric hospital admission was in October 1984, during the first quarter of my Junior year at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. After my discharge I was getting Talk Therapy from Psychiatrist Bruce Kahl MD. I asked him, "What am I going to get out of all this talking?"

"You'll develop insight into your condition."

And he thinks I'm crazy?

But Dr. Kahl was completely correct: if you have insight, you have everything. If you don't have insight, you have nothing. Once I understood that fact, much of my writing began to focus on insight as well.

Today my shrink told me that I am uncommonly insightful, in that I usually know when I'm not experiencing reality. Many, perhaps most mentally ill folk can't do that. It is so uncommon for the most-severely disturbed patients to even be aware that they are crazy that some Psychiatrists are convinced that it's impossible for the paranoid to know that they are.

But what concerns me most is that one does not have to be Mad to be delusional: consider that as early as 1942, Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo was already making plans for what to demand from the US when America sued for peace: the State of Washington and what at the time were the territories of Hawaii and Alaska.

That not just Tojo but the entire populace of Japan was out of their damn trees is made plain by the World War II-era official name for their empire: "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". You just can make this stuff up, folks.

Among my concerns today here in America is that our nation is profoundly polarized. Whether you are Left, Right, Up, Down or Diagonal it is quite likely that you are not experiencing reality these days because very, very few of us are able to process what we see, hear or read without imposing on it our own - presently-extreme - personal biases.

During I think it was the fifties, a survey found that only five percent of the American people said they would object if one of their children married someone who was a member of a different political party than was the parent was who surveyed.

Right Now it is of vital importance that we question all the information we receive from others, whether from friends, from family or from the press. In the case of the news media, foreign press outlets like the BBC, the India Times or quite likely Radio Fucking Moscow are without a doubt far, far more objective than any American reporting.

You all could really help each other out were you to print out - on paper - what I have written herein then staple it to each others' foreheads so as to ensure you will be reminded of the quicksilver-like flexibility of your own experience any time you should forget.

While I've got Happy Pills to help me with that, all but a few of you have nothing at all other than a few voices crying in the wilderness, hoping to guide you home.

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