Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Glissade

Glissade, by the way, is a sweetened carbonated drink made from crushed glisses.

Well, today I spent at home. I got three or four hours sleep last night, the increased dose of reboxetine is kicking my diurnal rhythms about like Jacky Chan at the soccer. I finally got up at five and wrote apologetic emails to everyone I know, which luckily were so long and grovelling and involved they (mostly) remained unsent.

And I've been stripping the house of carbohydrates like a fanatic during a purge. If it's got sugar or starch in it I eat it - tomorrow I either start on cellulose (eating old newspapers) or begin licking the coating off all the cat medication in the house (mmmm, lactose - plus I'll be safe from ringworm).

There seems to be a close correlation between glycaemic index of my food, my score on that Beck Depression Inventory, and how many furlongs my waistband is. There's a research paper here waiting to be written.

Mmmm, paper.

Besides the Beck Depression Inventory, by the way, there exists a Geriatric Hopelessness Index, a Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory, the Rust Inventory of Schizoid Cognitions, and the MRS (or Mania Rating Scale, where extra points are obtained by folding the single sheet of paper upon which the questions are written into a beautiful pair of wings that will enable mankind to flee the tyranny of gravity and build a million shining cities on the Moon).

Anyway, I stayed home because, to be honest, the whole thing was starting to get to me. Is there a recommended daily maximum of murderers and rape victims you want to see in a day? Or a RDI, a Recommended Deviant Intake?

And I also had a day (and maybe more) off because the staff at Southern have been concernedly commenting about the number of times they come in to my office to see me sitting at my desk, head in hands, or staring teary-eyed at the wall.

And today was some kind of meeting, anyway, and I didn't fancy sitting there in front of the various clinical teams from every point of the compass and looking like I cared about irrelevant stuff - so I stayed home and stared at Chapter Four of Ganong, entitled Synaptic and Junctional Transmission, the Untold Story.

A problem shared is a problem halved, or doubled, or something, so let me transcribe a little bit from this "...international bestseller acclaimed for [its] readability...":

"Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin 3, NT - 4/5 and NGF each maintain a different pattern of neurons, preventing apoptosis, although there is some overlap. Disruption of NT - 3 gene knockout causes a marked loss of cutaneous mechanoreceptors, even in heterozygotes. BDNF acts rapidly and can actually depolarise neurons..."

What alarms me the most about all this is the rising tone of excitement in this man's voice (and he is a man). You can almost hear the incredulous squeak as he breathlessly announces what BDNF can actually DO!!! I have nothing but sympathy for Mrs Ganong, if such exists. And all this after marrying a man with a name like a bloody sound effect, as Sarah points out.

I should point out I aim to get out of this mood thing before the whole constellation of symptoms descends on me and those around me like a meteor shower. I am a long way from any "ideas that kept coming into your head" or "unusual beliefs" or "things you believed very strongly at the time that later on turned out to be wrong", or "hearing something, like a voice, or something moving about, but there was no-one there?", all of those phrases I use with speed clients. No owl-headed people, no temptation to vote conservative, none of the other stuff I am too embarrassed to mention here.

And no suicidal ideation, which is good, because I'm the only guy who is allowed to ferry the methadone from central to southern. I'm the doctor, (or one of the two, and everyone knows Dr Grizzle is crazy), so I've got one hundred and fifty mgs on the kitchen bench, next to the bottle of cleanskin red. I stress that 150 mg isn't nearly enough to kill a full grown adult with no other co-morbidities, but there is a touch of irony in this.

Sigh. I have also been trying to do all that mood-lifty stuff I tell other people to do. In my case one of the things that works well is looking over my fiction writing, seeing what I've sold (very little) finishing up and sending off some stories. Normally this cheers me up.

And I'm sure it will. But not quite yet. Look at this poem I can't sell:

Eric had an iPod and he used it on the bus
He turned the volume way up high when people made a fuss
The tinny driving rhythm made him slump upon his seat
And twitch and chew his bubblegum and trample with his feet

He had a great big duffle bag, he slung it on his back
And as he passed by pensioners he gave them all a whack
While veterans of Gallipoli were forced to stand and watch
He sprawled across a row of seats and rearranged his crotch.

But late one winter afternoon (the sky was cold and dark)
As Eric waited for the bus outside the football park
Instead of the old rattletrap that usually appeared
Came one different. Black as midnight. Sleek and shiny. Really weird.

The driver was big man with a tattoo on his face
He chewed on his tobacco and sat staring into space
Behind him sat a woman with a helmet on her head
Her teeth were long and sharp and white but both her eyes were red

"What a backward bunch of losers" Eric muttered with a sneer
"The Government should get these freaks and move them out of here
They make the place look ugly. They take room up on the bus
I don't know why they drive around like they're as good as us

Get out my way, ya senile git! Move it, ya brainless dork!
Come on, ya mangy cripple! Wassamatta, can't ya walk?
Well, next time move y' bloody foot! D'ya think I've got all day?
Oi you! Porky! Baldy! Stupid! Move your fat guts out me way"

The bus turned off the highway down beside the railway track
(The sign "St. Martin's home for psycho killers" on the back)
As Eric turned the iPod on and sprawled across the seat
He did not see the massive man get slowly to his feet

He did not note the barn-door back, the walnut-crushing fist
Did not observe the badge that said "Officially round the twist"
He did not feel the chassis shake beneath the man's slow tread
Didn't even see the crowbar till it hit him on the head

And down there by the railway half a dozen scattered graves
Stand in mute and morbid testimony, and the visitor who behaves
Can be shown around the spots where Eric's body was interred
But of the large and violent man, no more was ever heard.



No bugger wants this kind of stuff. They want vampire porn or serial killer stories or meandering, frustrating vignettes where people stare emptily, make futile gestures and then bang on about how meaningless life is and other stuff that makes no sense.

Anyhow. That's my crie de couer - or at least my crie de dysfunction within subcortical (striatal-thalamic)-prefrontal networks and the associated limbic modulating regions (amygdala and midline cerebellum).

Can't argue with that. Anyway, I'd better go... one of the choir outside has just coughed up a pellet of mouse bones. Thanks for listening,
John

By the way - have I mentioned my idea for a mood bank? Prudent bipolar patients - and face it, we're a dime a dozen - could store up some of their mania for a cloudy day, and draw on it when stocks were low. The problem would arise when you tried to factor in interest - you could bank a feeling of smug satisfaction and when you withdrew it it would be clinical monomania. Alternatively, you could have a small overdraft, but then if you lost your job and interest rates changed, you'd end up with unhandleable psychotic depression. And what about when someone stole your credit card and ran around town giggling and cackling while you got more and more miserable at home?

5 Comments:

Blogger Niamh Sage said...

I love your poems. You wrote that one a while back, didn't you? I seem to remember reading it.

There doesn't seem to be much of a market for amusing poetry these days, does there? I don't understand it. What with the preponderance for depressing Goth wangst you'd think people'd need cheering up.

Don't mind me. I'm grumpy because we're in the middle of a heat wave (don't laugh) It's as hot as Perth here at the moment, and v. unpleasant.

On the plus side, I came here, saw you'd written, and was happy.

Gah. Stupid brain.

Camillaaargh

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Danny said...

Doc, I don't like poetry, but I enjoy your poems. As for selling stuff, well if people buy my shit then you should be the next Stephen King in no time...

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your poem out loud to my 3yo.... ooops.... luckily she seemed to miss how wicked it was.... just made a comment about "that man is a bit nasty"...

Splendid writing as usual :-)

9:10 AM  
Blogger Prom said...

Sorry you're experiencing an upswing in the symptoms BJ, what a bitch of a condition it is.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Thanks to all concerned. Sad to say, replying to comments will be the big social event of the last week - but presumably not the next one. Danny underrates himself - his circle of friends and aquaintances now includes one of Steely Dan.

Anyway, here the birds are shining, the sun is singing and spring is springing about like a baby goat. All will doubtless soon be well.

Thanks again,
John

9:56 PM  

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