Regression Log

I attempted a regression tonight and found, oddly enough, that it was actually what looked like Phil’s life coming through.

The scene was on a shore of some sort.  The water was still, like Tomales Bay, but I didn’t recognize the exact shore.  There was a narrow strip of beach next to a bank about 4 feet high and on the bank was dense forest.  The thought crossed my mind that this was further north, toward Humboldt, around 1955.

But I had read that Phil had been a good ways north of the Bay Area around that time, on a camping trip with Kleo, so I’m not ruling out kryptomnesia unless I can find an exact match for this particular shore and place Phil there around the time I thought.

More than anything though, what I got out of this was a distinct sense of a life that wasn’t incomplete.  It ended sooner than I would have liked but, truth be told, nobody’s ever ready to say goodbye.  I was as ready as I could have been given the circumstances and as the sting of having possibly missed out on fame and fortune wears away, all I see is a life that was completed and laid down quietly the way all good things are.

“Remember, O man, that dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.”  Do you know what that means?  It’s all swept away in the end and only the soul, which is nothing but a thread of pure Nous with no attachment to your name, your gender, your race, your species, or anything you’ve done, wafts on, either to remember itself and rejoin God or to be kicked back into this earth, back into another cloud of dust that will think itself singular and cosmically significant when it’s only a brief moment.  If something of who we were before survives it’s only because we haven’t learned to let go, or it doesn’t suit us to let go.

But as I find my bearings and curb the bleak depression that had me wringing my hands over whether or not I returned to this life for a reason, I find that a new joy fills me.  It’s not the bleak nihilism of simply not caring, but the joy of a traveler in a foreign land.

I’ll probably falter on this.  I’ll question it again.  My deep karmic fault of constantly having to fight for a cause will rear its head again and I’ll have to rein it in.  The depression ebbs and flows and muddies the waters.

But getting close to finishing the longest, most involved and most conceptually advanced novel I’ve ever written and thinking about the new directions my work is taking makes me happy.  Knowing I’m closer than ever to getting my life back in order after years of struggling with hidden disabilities makes me happy.

And when it’s time for this particular cloud of dust to dissipate, I hope I can be satisfied that the time I spent was good and worthwhile and not hold death to any contempt.

But I sincerely hope I won’t return to dust any time soon.  I’m finally building a real life.

Where I Am Currently

I guess I’m still trying to figure out what my role in all this mess lately is. I’ve gone back and forth on the value of following the life plans I made before the election. I guess the biggest question of all is, am I doing my part? Am I living in such a way that the best outcome will result from my actions?

I worry that the things I want to achieve- making a name for myself as a novelist, entering the priesthood, and earning some recognition as a historian- are a distraction. I’ve been mainly in crisis mode since the election, assuming that normal life was effectively over and that a sense of normalcy amounted to complacency. And so I’ve been breathlessly keeping up-to-date on every detail of this trainwreck trying not to become complacent, searching frantically for my opening to make the biggest difference I can when the chips are down.

I’ve always been this way. The irrepressible urge to do the right thing is something deep and karmic within me that’s been a part of my character for many lifetimes, though this drive to do my part is as much a virtue as a weakness. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in the last few years is that idealistic people like me can sometimes make bad decisions when determined to do the right thing. It’s a quirk of the personality type. Some of the decisions I’ve made came back to haunt me in a big way.

So part of me has this drive to do the right thing, and part of me is always second-guessing if anything I’m doing is ever right because I know that I don’t always make the best decisions. The result is a tremendous existential angst, as you might imagine. Since the election I’ve been neck-deep in existential angst.

I’m mired in a vicious cycle. I’ll fall completely out of love with the things I’m doing because I feel like I should be doing more. Then I reel myself back in and rededicate myself to the path I chose and trust that if I ever am needed to do more, I’ll know. But the cycle goes round many times, and I end up feeling lost because of it.

I’m just trying to find some ground to stand on so that I don’t get sucked back into that cycle again. Don’t get me wrong though. Even if I go through with the life I planned for myself, I’ll be a Friar Tuck to the next Robin Hood any day. I just don’t want to keep living my life worried whether or not it’s the right time. I want to trust that I’ll know when the time comes.

Back With A Vengeance

I’m writing more now than I have in many months!  I hope to continue at this rate until I have finished that novel I’ve been trying to get done since late 2013.

It isn’t a slog any more.  I’m feeling my ability to tell a coherent story come back, like the sensation in a foot that’s fallen asleep, first painful then reassuring.

I’m back, and I’m not stopping.

Writing Again!

Last night I got a little bit done on that novel I’ve been working forever on!

Woke up feeling fine and easy.  Took a few measures last night to shut off the withdrawals and it seems to have helped immensely.

Still happier than I’ve been in a long time.  Taking it easy today and tomorrow after a week of running every which way.  Listening to the rain fall from the eaves of my apartment building in the cool afternoon.

Life is good.

Antidepressants After Note

A little more than 40 hours after my last dose, and I feel amazing!

If I don’t crash before I see the NP who prescribed the pills, I’ll be in great shape.

Even if I do crash, I have the option of trying a smaller dose.  I was on 150mg of Wellbutrin XL once daily; my only worry is that even 100mg of standard Wellbutrin might be too much for me.

I’m starting to think that maybe the problem isn’t that antidepressants don’t work, but that the vast majority of people are being overdosed to boost profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

It helps that I’ve had three very good things happen in the last 18 hours.  I got word yesterday that a short story I had written was recently included in an anthology.  It’s not a big paycheck, but it’s a publishing credit.  My EBT was increased by more than $50, meaning my husband and I can eat healthier which will no doubt help me pick up the pace so we can get off EBT.  I also made a small but important step in my transition, with my court date for a gender change order to amend my birth certificate (literally the last piece of documentation I need to complete a full social transition).

I also have to take my own history into account.  I’m a lifelong depressive but I’m also immensely resilient.  It helps that I’ve had 13 years of learning to cope the hard way.  There seems to be some truth in Nietszche’s adage that “that which does not kill me will only make me stronger.”  I’ve been kicked hard by this condition but I feel like I’m winning the battle for once.

Even though this attempt may not be a lasting success, I suddenly have great hope that my depression might be fairly easy to treat with very little effort.  If I can continue feeling this good I’ll hit my stride as a writer for sure.

It has been very rare for me to feel this good in this life or in any life in the last century.  If I get my depression and anxiety under control I’ll be back to where I was before the war, two lifetimes ago.  The wounds of the past will always be there but I feel like it is possible to heal and have a real life untroubled by these ghosts.

Antidepressants, Day 7

Only a week in and severe side effects have forced me to quit. This was done with the advice of my care team (a counselor and a psychiatric NP).

Among other things, nervousness, agitation, sleep loss, memory problems, mood swings, panic attacks, confusion, pressured speech, and a general worsening of depressive symptoms have forced my hand.

I have only been on these pills for a week and at a low dose. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

A Gnostic Reflection on the Easter Season

I hope everyone has had a pleasant season, regardless of what you celebrate!

For me it has been wonderfully restorative.  As many complaints as I have about the way meds make me feel, I’m actually writing again!  Here’s a little something I composed today.

*    *    *

The Passion of Christ, to the gnostic, is not meant to be a literal event. Whether or not there was a historical Jesus who died on the cross and rose again is not what the gnostic theologian strives to know; that argument has been going on for 2017 years or more and has borne no fruit.

Rather, we seek the branch that bears fruit, namely the symbolic significance of the Passion and Resurrection and seek in our own lives to follow this example to the light of Gnosis.

The crucifixion is the crisis that brings the seeker to the path. It is the call to awakening upon reckoning our own condition as debased beings who are more than flesh. It is a time for contemplating the earthly death and its true significance, and the false hope of the earthly resurrection which will only take us back to where we started. It is the recognition of the cruelty and sorrow of this flawed plane of existence, such that by its very nature, it fought to destroy the Logos just as any self-consistent system tries to destroy a foreign body. But it is also the failure of this plane of illusions to destroy anything but an illusion; the pure thoughtform represented in the Logos is not what is crucified, but a fleshly decoy that was never divine.

As it is written in the acts of John:

Nothing, therefore, of the things which they will say of me have I suffered: nay, that suffering also which I showed unto thee and the rest in the dance, I will that it be called a mystery. For what thou art, thou seest, for I showed it thee; but what I am I alone know, and no man else. Suffer me then to keep that which is mine, and that which is thine behold thou through me, and behold me in truth, that I am, not what I said, but what thou art able to know, because thou art akin thereto. Thou hearest that I suffered, yet did I not suffer; that I suffered not, yet did I suffer; that I was pierced, yet I was not smitten; hanged, and I was not hanged; that blood flowed from me, and it flowed not; and, in a word, what they say of me, that befell me not, but what they say not, that did I suffer. Now what those things are I signify unto thee, for I know that thou wilt understand. Perceive thou therefore in me the slaying of a Word (Logos), the piercing of a Word, the blood of a Word, the wound of a Word, the hanging of a Word, the suffering of a Word, the nailing of a Word, the death of a Word. And so speak I, separating off the manhood. Perceive thou therefore in the first place of the Word; then shalt thou perceive the Lord, and in the third place the man, and what he hath suffered.

Notice this phrase “The death of a word.” It’s worth noting that you cannot understand the gnostic texts unless you have a firm grasp of irony. A word cannot “die” because a word, as such, is an abstract noun. By that same token it cannot be hanged, or nailed, or pierced, or otherwise put to any sort of violence; you can write words on paper and do whatever you want with them, but it isn’t the words you destroy, it is the paper. The physical Christ here is no more the Word than a paper with words written on it is those words!

Going further, the Second Treatise of the Great Seth has this to say:

For my death, which they think happened, happened to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. Their thoughts did not see me, for they were deaf and blind. But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the rulers and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.

Here the Logos is standing over the whole spectacle of the execution of the paper, the facsimile, the decoy, and He is laughing. What a remarkable image! And so the gnostic too can laugh at both the literal death of the body and at the mortification of ego, which is neither ourselves nor our true nature.

Then comes the Harrowing of Hell. This isn’t really part of any canon, or from any of the gnostic texts, but is alluded to in various places in the New Testament and is only articulated clearly in the New Testament Apochrypha, in the Gospel of Nicodemus:

Now when we were set together with all our fathers in the deep, in obscurity of darkness, on a sudden there came a golden heat of the sun and a purple and royal light shining upon us. And immediately the father of the whole race of men, together with all the patriarchs and prophets, rejoiced, saying: This light is the beginning (author) of everlasting light which did promise to send unto us his co-eternal light. And Esaias cried out and said: This is the light of the Father, even the Son of God, according as I prophesied when I lived upon the earth…

The journey of the gnostic is to descend into the hell of reckoning, the purifying trial, the Vision of Sorrow of the Sephiroth Binah. In some ways it’s like one of those fun houses where balls seem to roll uphill inasmuch as we only seem to be descending, when we are, in truth, ascending.

It’s rather interesting, my own Vision of Sorrow (stumbled upon at the point where my ego had been thoroughly mortified at the hands of wicked people who wished me destroyed), where I reckoned with the true pathos of this plane of existence, came in the form of anamnesis of a past life lost on the battlefields of the First World War. And when I described it to a friend, the word I used was “harrowing.” Not “harrowing” in the sense of digging deep and rooting out what is buried, but harrowing in the sense of something that digs deep into the darkest recesses of one’s being. But really, isn’t that the same thing?

The Vision of Sorrow prompts us to continue our ascent. It shows us that we have been chained to a realm of cruelty, and that the resurrection of the flesh (be it reanimation or reincarnation) is to the true resurrection what pyrite is to gold; only a fool would mistake the lesser resurrection for the greater resurrection!

So it is in the resurrection of Christ. If it were simply the literal resurrection of the dead flesh, returned to the world to suffer again, what miracle would that be? I’ve spoken before about how easy a miracle is to fake, and how the gnostic has no need of them; a miracle is a cheap show that only impresses the lowest common denominator. The real miracle is the ignition of those guttering sparks of the divine into the roaring fire of gnosis, the gathering of the Light into the whole which was broken, the liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth to be reborn in higher realms where there is no death.

This is the true hope of Easter. This is the true hope of the journey into gnosis. And so long as we live and continue to walk this path, we return to that renewal, to kindle the flame again, to remember our true natures again, to be delivered from this realm of death into everlasting life and light.

For further reading please check out:

The Acts of John:

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth:

The Gospel of Nicodemus:

Binah, Chokmah, and Kether:

Then There Were None

As a child, I remember being excited to meet people born in the 19th century. Now, none are left. An entire epoch of human history is banished from living memory today.  Only those of us who remember second hand, if our memories are anything but the curious fancy of an overactive imagination, remain.

Antidepressants, Day 2

The initial dose seems to have given me a slight nocebo effect in the first half hour yesterday.  While showering I began to feel dizzy and my arm felt weak. Within an hour of the onset the symptoms were gone.

I’m a bit snippy.  I went off on my husband more times than I would like to.  If this continues, treatment is a no-go.  I’ve heard it takes a couple of weeks to work, but that sounds like a lie to get gullible people to stay on the pills longer.  I need to rein in my cynicism because I’ve seen the science behind it and although I’m not overly well-versed in chemistry, it seems to makes sense, I guess.  Astronomy and physical anthropology were always my strong suits when it comes to the hard sciences, not so much chemistry.  I can look at a skeleton and give you a rough idea of age, sex, and population group, but I can’t make heads or tails of chemical formulae.

Still not concentrating well enough to sit down and write, but that can be put down to a general restlessness I’ve been feeling for weeks.  Can’t be readily attributed to meds yet.  I did do really well in a rather stressful situation for our church’s Maundy Thursday service (our other server didn’t show up so I had to learn an unfamiliar liturgy while serving both her role and mine), but I pulled it off splendidly.

Not sure what to expect once the meds actually start working.  I’ll keep posting here because what the hell.  I need to keep this blog alive until I can afford to travel to Ypres which is going to be a while.

Antidepressants, Day Zero

After 13 1/2 years, I’m going to try the same meds I was on in high school, namely Wellbutrin (bupropion, a dopamine agonist) for depression and Seroquel (quetiapine, which helps prevent a runaway dopamine reaction) to take some of the nervous edge off the bupropion.  I’m a little nervous about taking a pill to treat the side effects of another pill, because at some point it becomes like the old lady who swallowed the fly.  But if my theory is correct, my particular depression/anxiety is largely a matter of dopamine regulation and keeping it within a comfortable range is the goal of treatment.

There is one pill (Prozac/fluoxetine) that I was also on in high school that I won’t be adding.  This was to boost serotonin, but I suspect it was responsible for mood blunting.  Instead I will be controlling my serotonin naturally by upping my intake of tomatoes, which are high in serotonin (and particularly vegetable juice, which is also rich in a number of nutrients including vitamin b).

On most of my public face social media sites, I’m bullish about the outcome.  I don’t feel like I can be honest about my reservations any more.  But the fact is, my chemistry has changed since high school.  My condition, cognition, and insight have changed since high school.  I’m a profoundly different person in some ways.  And the medications I’ll be taking could lead to serious and debilitating side effects.  I’m honestly still skeptical that psychiatry is a real science because its predictions are so inaccurate and its methods are so haphazard that it could potentially be said to have killed more people than it has saved.

I keep thinking of David Foster Wallace, relying on antidepressants to stay productive until, inevitably, they stopped working and he had to undergo ECT which messed with his ability to write and process language.  He wrote about the desperation of the severely depressed, who would rather have the part of their brains that gave them pleasure, mirth, and wonder permanently crippled so that they can be free of pain.

Wallace hanged himself.  Psychiatry failed him.  I’m seriously worried it will fail me too.

It’s funny, I’ve done cannabis, psilocybe mushrooms, salvia divinorum, fly agarics, and a number of legal highs, but none of them scare me as much as the stuff that’s legal.  I don’t trust the pharmaceutical companies.  I don’t trust the FDA.  I don’t trust the DEA.  I don’t trust psychiatry or any attempt to reduce a human being to a machine that you can just tinker with and not expect severe pathos as a lasting consequence.

I don’t want to do this.  What have I gotten myself into?

I wish psilocybin was legal and easy to come by. That’s the only thing that’s really been effective.  The foot-dragging by researchers and legislators is going to kill people like me who need that medicine now.

If I become a victim of psychiatry, I want a portion of sales of my books donated to MAPS.