…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

no one ever said he was sane

“Let me tell you a little about myself so you know where I'm coming from,” said my psychiatrist, five minutes into my appointment with him last week. It was the beginning of the end of our doctor-patient relationship.

I was in a bit of a state. My mood had headed south several weeks before and had been stuck in its inexorable downward trajectory ever since. I needed something more than a pep talk but short of a ride to the care unit—the thought of hospitalization depresses me. Even more.

A meds tweak maybe? Childhood regression therapy? Another, heretofore undisclosed treatment option? I was ready to follow the good pill doc's advice because I trusted him. He had come recommended to me as more “holistic” than most in his profession: e.g., he's pharmaceutically conservative and therefore unlikely to dope his patients beyond recognition. True to his reputation, he’s pulled me through a number of crises over the past few years with minimal damage to my overall personality. I'm just as snarky as I've ever been, and if my mind is a bit duller, I blame it on the neuro issues, not my psychotropical cocktail.

“How are you doing today?” he asked, once I was seated in his office.

And I told him. I spoke for what is, to me, an interminable stretch—four, maybe five minutes solid—about feeling crushed under a pall of hopelessness. I know intellectually that this state is nothing more than funky brain chemicals, I told him, but it's vampiric. It sucks at my life force and fucks with my sense of self until I'm ready to do anything to make it stop. I just haven't yet figured out a way to kill the parasite without snuffing its host.

Look, baby animals! They'll lighten any mood.

It was in response to my tragedian soliloquy that the good doctor thought he’d share out a bit himself. He's a Spiritist, he told me, and therefore believes that we are each perfect, eternal, godlike souls. “Death” is not to be feared but rather eagerly anticipated as a beautiful and peaceful place where we shed our physical and psychological burdens to exist in serenity. Our lives are but series of lessons we must learn in order to achieve our highest level of being, akin to Jesus or Buddha, and we are reincarnated again and again to take on our assigned course loads, eventually attaining perfection.

Well, that’s lovely, I thought, nodding in appreciation as he explained Spiritism’s core philosophy. It doesn’t so much resonate with me, but bully for him for finding peace in a belief system he can buy into.

Then it got weird, at least from a professional angle.

He said the difficulties I'm experiencing indicate that I’ve charted an ambitious lesson plan in this life and that my failure to complete what I’ve laid out for myself does me no dishonor. He said there's no shame in suicide, and that as an eternal being the only consequence of an early checkout would be that I won't have learned the necessary lessons of this life and would therefore have to repeat them in the next. Then in a withering tone he said he would of course prefer that I choose life, but should I choose death, he assured me, I would simply continue on to my next life—no harm, no foul. He ended the appointment by upping the dosage on one of my meds.

I drove home in a bit of a daze. Had my psychiatrist really just given me the green light to follow my instincts, the instincts that are presently corrupted utterly by depression? I wondered whether his counsel would have been different had I told him I’d lately felt as though suicide were being marketed directly to me, first as a post-holiday book recommendation from Amazon—Kay Redfield Jamison’s Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, under the banner “Get Yourself a Little Something!”—then as a recurring commercial in the dystopian film Children of Men, in which the world has become so unrelentingly miserable suicide is not only condoned but actively marketed in the form of a product called Quietus. Its slogan: “You decide when.”

Maybe I had just encountered reverse psychology? Was his blasé eternal being picking a fight with my anxious quiver of universal nothingness?

I didn’t counter-share my own belief system, which is that we’re happenstance creatures evolved of primordial ooze and when we’re done the lights go out forever. It’s a cheery philosophy, I know, though it’s one that keeps me relatively tethered inasmuch as what I really crave in the big sleep is a sense of relief, which is unattainable in a “religion” that denies postmortem sense and emotion. Au contraire, Spiritism holds that we not only shed our earthly burdens but pass our between-lives interstices in a state of bliss unimaginable to us corporeal types. If I could choose a belief system, I’d take the bliss, thanksverymuch, but I can’t choose to believe in an afterlife any more than I can choose to be reborn as a so-cute-she-makes-your-fillings-hurt baby leopard.

When I got home I Googled “Spiritism,” because how could I not? As an organized movement it’s been around only about 150 years, but adherents consider it a purer form of Christianity. They say its teachings are based directly on the Gospels of Christ and are therefore uncorrupted by ulterior human motives, unlike those "biblical" teachings contrived in the early centuries to discourage unsavory pagan rituals and traditions.

Spiritists have a fairly liberal outlook (their antigay woman-completes-man stance notwithstanding). They encourage rational scrutiny, they respect all other religions, and they do not endorse evangelizing. They have no churches or clergy, though they attend meetings together. But to be a true Spiritist is to endorse a doctrine that includes the following:

• There is life on other planets, some more evolved and some less evolved than that found on earth.
• Both incarnate (material) and discarnate (immaterial) spirits exist side by side on multiple planets.
• We are rewarded for our goodness in this life—and punished for our transgressions—in future lives (indicating that I've been very, very bad in past lives).
• Certain human spirits [see Allison DuBois] are born with the gift of mediumship, and only these incarnate spirits may communicate with discarnate spirits.

In short, my soon-to-be ex-psychiatrist believes in aliens and ghosts.

I also found these folks when I Googled Spiritism:

As a married Spiritist couple, they’re a force to be reckoned with, if you believe in that sort of thing. You see, they’re both gifted mediums. He channels Jesus. She used to channel Mary Magdalene, whom you’ll be pleased to know married and regularly enjoys coitus with Jesus in heaven. Now, in addition to channeling John Lennon and George Harrison (who have collaborated on a new song!), she channels Alura, a talk show personality on their daily YouTube show Here’s Jesus!

He’s also a self-taught artist. As is she! Christ, I hope my soon-to-be ex-psychiatrist wasn’t self-taught.

I’m not out to ridicule anyone’s religion. Hell, I often wish I had faith in something other than the bleak existential void that fills that part of my brain like some kind of inert gas. I can’t not recommend my philosophy vehemently enough. And yet, if I believed in an afterlife of everlasting bliss, I’d have broken on through to the other side a long time ago, preferably before I met anyone who would have ever loved or missed me.

In the absence of such eternal promise I’m forced to find meaning in the now, something that makes life worth a treacherous journey lacking any known destination. Baby animals are an excellent start, and I suppose the rest goes something like this: We’re all in this thing together. We may as well love one another and make the best of it.

Thanks to for the great animal pics!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

you’re welcome!

In a recent post blogger Weese bemoaned the fact that she had not yet procured a 2007 calendar and therefore could make no plans for her future. Though she gamely shrugged off her plight, I sensed her pain, the note of desperation that told me she was simply too overwhelmed by the myriad choices—even among the culled post–New Year's Day, 50%-off herd—to select just the right calendar to see her through to 2008. Being a giver at heart, I combed through the more than 6,000 titles available at and hand-picked my top 10 choices to see Weese through the coming year. In ascending order:

10. They beg for your fries, they poop on your car, they remind you of dental appointments.

9. Take that, Anne Geddes. You aren't the only photographer who can make perfectly nice babies really unappealing to look at.

8. Cold, dead fish. Month after glorious month.

7. Bimbos and guns. Somebody pinch me.

6. Gimme an M! Gimme an O! Gimme an N! Gimme a D-A-Y!

5. Bimbos and cold, dead fish. Somebody pinch me again.

4. Call me sentimental, but unbagged dog poop reminds me of a simpler time. Please note typo at bottom.

3. For those who like their chickens on the flashy, Vegas showgirl side.

2. A dream is a wish your heart makes.

1. Nuns are funny!