Sunday, July 26, 2015


The more I think about Sophie's behavior, seizures and involuntary muscle contractions, the more I believe them to be symptoms of benzo withdrawal.  I've invested the process of removing this drug from her body with all the fuckeduppery of The Whole Business. I feel stripped of trust in anyone or anything.

I also fight off feelings of despair that this will ever be over. Benzo withdrawal syndrome can persist for years, even after the drug is weaned completely. I've always hated war imagery when describing illness. Her battle with epilepsy. His warrior spirit in the face of cancer. Etc. Actually, as long as I "fight" the feeling of despair, it increases. Instead, I allow it to wash over me, acknowledge it, bathe in it, open my eyes even as I'm in over my head. It goes away, then, leaves me dry and again, stripped.

I'm suspicious of the "mental illness" excuse that people of all persuasions trot out every time a man uses a gun to mow down innocent people. I'm not talking about gun control, either. I think the mental illness trope masks something deeper and more rotten that has everything to do with a culture that has always glorified violence, that is deeply paranoid and most of all, intellectually lazy. Does that sound pretentious? It's certainly not original, but it's what I'm squirming about today.

Here's a poem:

In the Library

There’s a book called
A Dictionary of Angels.
No one had opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

Charles Simic


  1. Back when I was an active Zen practitioner, we were taught not to fight our feelings, but make ourselves aware of them and experience them fully -- keeping in mind that, happy or sad, they would pass like they always do. Which is kind of what you're saying, I think.

    I would agree that there are cultural forces that contribute to these mass shootings.

    Wonderful poem!

  2. There is indeed a lot of "fuckeduppery" in "The Whole (Medical Industrial Complex) Business. It is not easy to be ahead of/outside of your time and culture. You are one of the clear seeing ones. Fight on, Woman Warrior. Sending blessings. x0 N2

  3. I was astounded at an NPR thing I heard a bit of the other day. It appears that it's a groundbreaking thought to give doctors access to lists of drugs which they use and their score as to success at whatever they're supposed to be doing AND the price of them. One company made billions last year on a chemo drug that out of a possible 130 points for a success rate got a 16 and costs $9000 a month. Doctors had no idea. It was just the go-to drug in certain cancers. And of course they had no idea how much it cost.
    Our system is fucked beyond belief.
    And so is our culture.
    But that poem was heaven.

    1. And if you try to refuse it you get aggressively treated, belittled, bullied... threatened, if you're a parent of a sick child. Ack. Such a mess.

  4. Witnessing.

    Not a thing I can do to help, not a word I can say that will make it any better, but I will not turn away. I see you, and your girl.

  5. What a lovely librarian-loving poem! I do hope Sophie and you both feel better, somehow, soon.

  6. Along with Ms. Moon said. I have depression as you know and I can't tell you how many doctors use Trazadone. For a simple anti-depressant it is hard core. Should not ever be used as a first line of defense.

    "Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself."

    I and may people I know have been on it and it totally fucks you up. If you go back and complain about side effects? Let's up your dose! Doctors write on prescriptions with little or no knowledge of how dangerous medications can become. The Whole Business, indeed.

    But there is this. You said, "I feel stripped of trust in anyone or anything." I think this. I think you can trust yourself to do what is right and what is best for your daughter. Not only could you speak circles around any professional you are also her mom with a huge mother heart. You know. You know. You know.

    Seeing the picture of Sophie sleeping breaks my heart.

  7. who can you trust? the angels, but they've been put away. i adore that poem.

    I'm curious as to whether or not you've upped her dose of the oil while she is withdrawing from the benzo? could that help?

    it's hard, terrible, exhausting to feel as if you are going it alone. you're working diligently to ensure your daughter has the best life possible. you are a resilient and marvelous being.

  8. Benzos are truly awful drugs. Poor Sophie, to go through this without understanding. Poor Elizabeth to watch. Sending hugs and thank you for your friendship. It means a lot to me.

  9. Yes. What Steve said. I have read and continue to read various versions of the Tao Te Ching, nightly readings a page at a time to remind me to let go, to give me perspective, to keep me aware of my connection with every other human on the planet. You are not alone. You are loved by strangers and friends you've never met. You are wise and loving beyond what you think you know. And then you add a poem . . .

  10. Your description of despair speaks deeply to me, how it increases the more you fight it. And accepting it, "letting it be," does not decrease it for long. We merely try to coexist, and sometimes it is enough to get through the day. Thinking of you and Sophie as you ford this river.

  11. i wrote a long comment last night on my phone but it disappeared. the gist: you are speaking my exact thoughts on the shooting in Louisiana. Where will it end?

    Dear sweet Sophie...

  12. I will sit in serenity for you and Sophie for a bit this morning, imagining the Benzos gradually weeping from her body and fervently hoping that the spaces they leave behind are filled with light and peace. There is nothing to do but sit with it, is there? You are absolutely right that fighting it only makes it worse.

    As for the mass shootings: I wrote once before about my thoughts on the "insanity" defense and how it all seems so absurd to me. By definition, who in their right mind would pick up a weapon with the express intent to use it to destroy other people? Yes, it's insanity, but it is insanity that is first ignored and belittled and then fostered by our culture and, finally, locked away or destroyed completely by the death penalty. It is like removing a cancerous tumor one cell at a time without regard to the cigarette smoking that continues to create new ones. I am at a loss. We are altogether looking at the wrong end of things.

    Lest I leave you on a depressing note, we had an 'unschooling' moment the other day when I had to leave for a few hours for a meeting. I was afraid that Lola would spend her time staring at a screen while I was away, but I came home to discover that she had gotten hungry, looked unsuccessfully in the cupboards for Nutella, found a recipe online for homemade hazelnut/cocoa butter, walked to the store for the ingredients and made a quart of it before I returned. That's not to say she cleaned up the mess, but it's funny what desperation and cravings will lead a lazy teenager to. Have a glorious day!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...