I’ve decided to split my last post into two parts after some revision. Sorry it was so long.
After only seven treatments, I’ve been released on my own recognizance, maybe upon my wife’s pleas, I’m not sure. It’s all been a bit cloudy up here in the noggin. Oh, I haven’t told you yet? I’ve just had shock treatment, which makes me more punk rock than Joey Ramone; and he’s dead. Although, I’m not entirely sure how long ago just is. Alice! Oh, Alice dear!
In any case, that’s the primary reason my posts have been, and will likely continue to be, quite spotty. Ramones songs and images of 1940’s asylums aside, the procedure itself wasn’t that bad. Everyone was quite friendly—perhaps they were former clients. I even got away with a song requests after my 3rd treatment. Naturally, my first was the Ramones.
While the treatment helped with my depression, it hasn’t really helped with Parkinson’s symptoms at all. Shock treatment or ECT, as the liberals like to call it, has been linked to providing symptom relief for both Parkinson’s and Depression. Unfortunately those shocks have fried the ol’ tater baker a bit. Basically, my memory isn’t what it used to be. Not that I remember what it used to be. So if I repeat myself sometimes, like posting old posts, or finding something I like online and acting as if they were new content, just leave me be. I’ll be fine.
Two of my favorite things really, mental illness and punk rock. Both are firmly planted behind board games (great,) family (immediate,) and all that (newly clipped fingernails, learning, and ice cream sandwiches.) Still, they have both occupied so much of my life. I couldn’t imagine what my life would have been without either of them. They share something else as well, the thread of this ragged quilt I’m constructing, they have been or are still taboo.
The subject of mental illness has been taboo throughout modern history. It’s an embarrassment to family, a public nuisance, and something that can’t always or ever be proven. This affords those of a less generous mind to minimize or discount mental illness as wholesale laziness, a good way to get out of work.
A friend of mind was suffering from depression. In the hallway outside of my office (all back when I was working) I heard one of his coworkers say, Well I guess I just need to get me some of that Depression so I can have a day off. Firstly, I do live at the very corner of where South meets Mid-West so this type of speech isn’t as ridiculous to the rest of you as it is to me. Secondly, this is exactly how many Americans view mental illness.
People are afraid to talk about things like depression, shock treatment, and mental illness. We pretend they don’t exist. Everyone I know is on an anti-depressant. Granted, they’re not locking themselves into basement rooms with a stash of board games for a few weeks, eating and drinking only what is brought to them (ahem…). But everyone’s sad, and no one ever talks about it.
Being punk was about trashing preconceived notions of what a person is, the who I am, the what I do, and the why I couldn’t just get on with everyone. It meant realizing that the whole ball of wax was flicked from the cosmic finger of a being who was probably doing the same. It meant realizing that Budha was right, life is suffering, death was inevitable, and tapping phone lines and war dialing into open servers was easy.
That’s why I didn’t dye my hair or get piercings with a safety pin or a jail yard tattoo of a band’s name which I might some day regret. Not doing these things was my nihilistic response to punk rockers who lived in stranger’s closets and spent the money they could scrounge on Manic Panic. I was Milo (google image search) without the steady job and misogyny. I was living a taboo life within a taboo life, which made me transcend punk rock and forced me to start listening to Fugazi way too early in life.
One of the biggest taboos in the world of board games is Magic: The Gathering. It’s like that really successful younger brother who all the other siblings hate. He’s always dropping in with gifts for mom and dad and telling stories about his business trips over seas. And generally making everyone else feel like losers.
If only I’d spent my teenage years practicing a firm handshake and a formal greeting, instead of loitering in the parking lot of the Subway, on the main strip, smoking cigarettes and listening to the Dead Kennedy’s drone on about Cambodia, I might be just like him.
Probably not, though.