Ah, that’s beautiful… We got a lot of little teenage blue eyed groupies who do anything we say…

Title from Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show“The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone'”

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I want to start a one man “band” making loud, angry, destructive heavy music. This is going to be quite a process:

1.))) Dust off my guitar and start jamming.
2.))) Dust off Stacy’s old keyboard, and our Grandpa’s fucking bad-ass electric organ, and relearn how to rock out on keys.
3.))) Procure a drum set and start banging on shit, freaking out like Animal and generally annoying everybody into submission.
4.))) Soundproof the basement (just kidding, sister…)
5.))) Record a shitty demo, transfer it to tape, and hang out in front of record stores in a crust punk jacket begging for donations.
6.))) Talk to anyone who will listen about all my plans when we get our big break, man. We’ll be on tour overseas with Sleep and you’ll still be stuck here baking your fuckin’ homemade gluten free scones, bro…

All this seems very involved, so I better start slow and just focus on settling on a band name for now. Uterine Betrayal and Death Stench Creeps are both already taken…

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Much Would?

Why are we even doubting the woodchucking capabilities of woodchucks? Are there woodchucks out there that can’t perform this task? Because, if so, I feel like they shouldn’t even be called woodchucks at all…

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Started From Blue Velvet, Now We Here… (Gallery)

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I can’t stop making these and polluting social media with them. I don’t care if I’m the only one who thinks it’s funny!

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For reasons that I’m not concerned enough about to reflect deeply upon, I started out doing this with a clear Lynchian theme…

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…and, after burning out on that material, I was compulsed to move on to other imagery…

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You’re right, though. The joke kind of does begin to lose it’s appeal…

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Pills You Take To Mend Will Be the Architects of Your Destruction: A Musing on Paxil and the Struggle With Madness

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Illustration by Joel Benjamin

Someone dear to me shared this outstanding post from Vice News on the subject of psychiatric medication withdrawal. You can find the original post by following this link.

Below is one of my own rantings on the subject from recent months.

Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan

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I have been on and off various psychiatric medications for my entire adult life, mostly concurrent with a good fifteen plus years of self-medication with “illicit” drugs and alcohol. Surprise of all surprises, I am also the kind of “adult” who can never seem to get his fucking life together.  This instability accounts for my inconsistency with staying on the legal drugs — I lose a job, I lose insurance coverage, I lose my doctor, I lose my mind.  In the midst of this, I destroy everything. 

Beyond that, I have ever increasing doubts about the efficacy of psych meds at all, coupled with growing anecdotal evidence and research suggesting I’ve never been accurately diagnosed in the first place. But that is a topic for another time…

I mentioned here that, for various reasons and circumstances, I would be going off the current “wonder drug” that I’ve been pumping through…

View original post 824 more words

At Any Street Corner…

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Photograph: Loomis Dean/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

“At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.”

Albert Camus

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Image via  Camus Society

“At any street corner the feeling of the funk can strike any man in the loins.”

T.R. Sanders

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Via Image Kid

“Get up! Get on up! Get up! Get on up! Stay on the scene! Get on up! Like a sex machine! Get on up!”

James Brown

Ideation on Oblivion

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Image by Kurore García

This could be the brain cloud talking, but oblivion sounds so goddamn appealing in this moment…

Suicidal ideation is often a symptom of mental illness. In a small portion of the population, suicidal ideation is a side-effect of psychiatric medications used to treat mental illness. When stopping the use of psychiatric medications, often drastically increased suicidal ideation is a symptom of medication withdrawal, even when quitting medication under physician supervision.

Makes a whole lot of fucking sense, doesn’t it?

“Oblivion” by Mastodon

“I flew beyond the sun before it was time
Burning all the gold that held me inside my shell
Waiting for you to pull me back in
I almost had the world in my sight

Lost love
Bright eyes fading
Faster than stars falling
How can I tell you that I’ve failed?
Tell you I failed…

Falling from grace cause I’ve been away too long
Leaving you behind with me lonesome song
Now I’m lost in oblivion

I tried to burrow a hole into the ground
Breaking all the fingers and the nails from my hands
The eyes of a child see no wrong
Ignorant bliss, impending doom

Lost love
Bright eyes fading
Faster than stars falling
How can I tell you that I’ve failed?
Tell you I failed…

Falling from grace cause I’ve been away too long
Leaving you behind with me lonesome song
Now I’m lost in oblivion

Falling from grace cause I’ve been away too long
Leaving you behind with me lonesome song
Now I’m lost in oblivion

Falling from grace cause I’ve been away too long
Leaving you behind with me lonesome song
Now I’m lost in oblivion

Falling from grace cause I’ve been away too long
Leaving you behind with me lonesome song
Now I’m lost in oblivion, in oblivion, in oblivion……”

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Image by mumudeckerr

The Pills You Take To Mend Will Be the Architects of Your Destruction: A Musing on Paxil and the Struggle With Madness

I have been on and off various psychiatric medications for my entire adult life, mostly concurrent with a good fifteen plus years of self-medication with “illicit” drugs and alcohol. Surprise of all surprises, I am also the kind of “adult” who can never seem to get his fucking life together.  This instability accounts for my inconsistency with staying on the legal drugs — I lose a job, I lose insurance coverage, I lose my doctor, I lose my mind.  In the midst of this, I destroy everything. 

Beyond that, I have ever increasing doubts about the efficacy of psych meds at all, coupled with growing anecdotal evidence and research suggesting I’ve never been accurately diagnosed in the first place. But that is a topic for another time…

I mentioned here that, for various reasons and circumstances, I would be going off the current “wonder drug” that I’ve been pumping through my system as of late, Paxil (paroxetine).  Here are a few things nobody ever told me about taking Paxil (until it was already too late):*

— Once the medication has built up in your system, it might work great for a while!

— Soon, though — within a matter of months, even weeks — as your body adjusts to the medication, your state of mind will steadily devolve and retreat to the same depths in which it began, and worse.

— Increasing your dose will work for a while.  Until it doesn’t, and suddenly you find yourself more unhinged than ever.

— Rather than treat and prevent thoughts and feelings of suicide, depression, anxiety, paranoia, loathing, and rage (as it is supposedly intended to), the medication will cultivate and nurture those demons to unfathomable strength, then magnify and perpetuate their terrible power until they all but consume you.

— If you have the misfortune of being a slave to this medication, but find yourself jobless, without insurance, and destitute, your physician will not give a shit.  Nevermind that you are in the grips of a powerfully malfunctioning drug; it’s all about that motherfucking bottom line.  I mean, what is this, Socialist French Canada?!

— Should you choose, through calculated decision coupled with necessity of circumstance, to wean yourself off the medication before your final prescription runs out, be prepared.  As in life, love, and most of Hollywood’s output, things will get much worse before they get better.

— Paxil has the proud distinction of being, according to studies and patient testimony, the absolute worst SSRI to stop using, due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Common withdrawal symptoms for paroxetine include nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness and vertigo; insomnia, nightmares and vivid dreams; feelings of electricity in the body, as well as crying and anxiety. (Read more)

— The withdrawal symptoms are not dissimilar to the paradoxic effects the medication itself had, leading you to quit the shit in the first place; they are simply more severe, unpredictable, and debilitating.

— While dealing with the seemingly endless and hopeless period of withdrawal, you may experience moments of clarity and serenity wherein you may be tempted to believe you have come out the other side.  These periods may last mere hours, or they may last days, but they are not to be trusted.  Your demons lie in wait, festering, waiting for their moment to come raging back in ecstatic fury.

— The madness of your withdrawal will cause you to lose yourself in frequent brain clouds, wherein confusion, disquiet, unease, desperate paranoia, and bitter, manic neurosis will consume your being.

— You will react poorly and with little semblance of self-control to even the most seemingly insignificant of stressors, because the battlefield of your mind is not capable of reacting appropriately; in short, due to blockages of bullshit and ridiculousness bred of the betrayal of this thing which was to be your salvation, the sewers are not flowing properly.

— Your broken, damaged, imperfectly deluded rote response to all of this will alternate between abysmal, hopeless surrender in listless abandon and scornful, violent explosions and fits of uncontrollable rage.

— The only ones who suffer through this perhaps worse than you are the ones you love, and the ones you use.

It has been close to a month since I took my last quartered dose of Paxil.  I’ve been hopeful that my recent relocation and the accompanying change of scenery would offer chance at a change of perspective that might breed fertile ground to nurture myself out of this frozen void of hatred and despair.

While that may yet remain a possibility, thus far I have only steadily gotten worse.  What might have been a simple and resolvable conflict this morning was instead filtered through the rotten screen of my madness, and resulted in a bit of a meltdown.  Within half an hour of being conscious, I found myself so enraged and upset to be violently quaking in my skin, followed by an invigorating episode of vomiting and near loss of consciousness.

Science claims it takes about a month for this poison to fully purge from your system.  I am hopeful that I may see some sunlight on the other side of this soon.  I have to be.

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* It should be noted that the experiences detailed here are purely anecdotal and specific to my own experience. Do not start or stop any psychiatric medication without consulting your physician.

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

PESSOA on ABSURDITY

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ABSURDITY

Let’s act like sphinxes, however falsely, until we reach the point of no longer knowing who we are. For we are, in fact, false sphinxes, with no idea of what we are in reality. The only way to be in agreement with life is to disagree with ourselves. Absurdity is divine.

Let’s develop theories, patiently and honestly thinking them out, in order to promptly act against them — acting and justifying our actions with new theories that condemn them. Let’s cut a path in life and then go immediately against that path. Let’s adopt all the poses and gestures of something we aren’t and don’t wish to be, and don’t even wish to be taken for being.

Let’s buy books so as not to read them; let’s go to concerts without caring to hear the music or to see who’s there; let’s take long walks because we’re sick of walking; and let’s spend whole days in the country, just because it bores us.”

Fernando Pessoa (Bernardo Soares), The Book of Disquiet

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Crazy Pills and Brain Storms

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I am going off my medication.

There are several reasons for this.  The first is the Perfect Storm I unwittingly rowed into.  Without going into too much detail, I ramped up the Crazy, quit my job, lost my insurance, all in the middle of finding out my doctor was retiring from patient practice. Without insurance or a job, I’ve been unable to get a new doctor or have my prescriptions refilled. With the Crazy running increasingly out of control, I’ve had trouble searching for a new job and have ruined the few potential opportunities that have come along. Perfect storm.

So, I’ve known for about a month that my prescription would be running out. I started taking half doses for the last couple weeks in an effort to wean myself off physical dependence. I did try every avenue I could think of to try and maintain these medications and to obtain medical advice, but the medical system in this country is still faulty and broken and plenty of people like me get dropped through the cracks. No biggie, it has happened before.

Regardless, getting off of these particular medications is something I feel I would have chosen to do even if not forced into it by circumstance. Events in my life of late have led me to a great deal of introspection and self-reflection. Certain psychological and emotional issues that I mistakenly assumed were extinct assembled in hordes below the surface before finally coming unleashed upon the world in horrible misery a couple of weeks ago. We’ve weathered the worst of it, I think, but that leaves the hard part: sifting through the wreckage.

What I am trying to say is, I have been looking back, tracing lineages, and introspectively dissecting my own history of madness to try and get at the sources, the core of what is housing and feeding these festering demonic creatures that insist on destroying everything I try to cultivate in my life.  While it is clear that my issues go back ages into the Ryan’s troubled and ancient history, I have truly come to believe that this psychiatric wonderdrug coarsing through my veins, while intended to help curb and treat the problem, has in fact only been compounding it.

Evidence of this is as follows. After having been off psychiatric meds for several years (following the previous meltdown), I finally got myself enrolled with medical insurance and back under treatment for anxiety and depression in the Spring of 2014. During the time I was without treatment or medication, I maintained by either self-medicating or isolating and “powering through.” Most days were okay. Some were bad. The worst were relatively few and far between, but are what drove me to get back under medical care.

Following the initial month of physical acclimation to new medication, during which the drug’s active properties build up to effective levels in your system, I started to feel pretty damn great! Some of the potential side-effects were potentially troublesome, but with Crazy pills they all potentially are. I remembered feeling some apprehension when I read about the difficult withdrawal symptoms patients have when stopping use of one of the drugs, but it seemed to be working so well that I decided the risk was worth it.

Unfortunately, the apparent effectiveness of the medications quickly tapered off, even declined. At first, I just assumed my body was acclimating to the drugs, and that what I was feeling was me growing accustomed to this newness, settling in to “normal.” Soon, however, I could tell I was doing worse. It was not long before my Crazy was back to the level I felt before starting treatment.

So, of course, I discussed this with my doctor. And, of course, the solution was to increase my dose. Makes sense. Everything followed in due course much as one would expect: the acclimation period; effectiveness; plateau; descent. It seemed my body was just too good at adjusting itself to new levels of drugs, my Crazy too proficient at adapting and overcoming. After all, I was an active drug addict for more than half of my life. I have tolerance, yo.

Again, I went to my doctor to discuss. Maybe at this point it was worth it to abandon this pharmaceutical cocktail and try something else, I thought. Unfortunately, I found my doctor in the last week of retiring from direct patient care. Apparently I had missed the notice in the mail. It was just my last bit of good luck that I called to schedule an appointment a few days before his last day. All he could do was refer me to a new provider and give me adequate refills to get through a three-month waiting period. New patient problems, yo.

In the meantime, while waiting until I could get on the panel of another medical provider, all hell decided to break loose in my brain. Confusion. Mania. Depression. Whirlwind of thoughts. Paranoia. Bewilderment. Anger. Violence. Defensiveness. Scorn. Anxiety. Lashing out. Self-loathing. Misanthropy. Suicidal ideation. Hallucination. Destructiveness. Ruin.

What started as a slow and gradual decline soon sled steeply into full-on maddening descent and downward spiral. I get the sense it was painfully slow and toilsome for the people around me. In here, subjectively, from my perspective, the whole thing happened so quickly I couldn’t even see or feel to get a grip until the worst of it was done. Hindsight and all that.

I woke up to find myself physically and mentally bruised and bleeding. Alone. Bridges torched, relationships in shambles. In my madness and loathing, in those moments of lashing out trying to stay afloat, I severed some vital ties that I fear in my darkest moments might never be mended. I found myself having dug in, burrowed, hidden myself below the surface of all beauty and magnificence. I had led myself to the lowest point yet in a pit of despair that had become so comfortable as to feel like home. I didn’t want out, subconsciously. And so I hurt everything, everyone that tried to lead me towards the light.

This Shadow has always been a part of me. It always will be. I made the mistake of believing I could separate from the darkness through sheer willpower and focus. I know now that belief is a fallacy. It is not about separating from the diseased parts of ourselves. It is about reconciling those parts of ourselves with the whole, with finding balance and harmony and seeking healing through the whole, the absolute, with becoming complete and not separating, dividing, or removing. Nothing will be gained with trying to cut diseased flesh from bone, with dividing or fracturing. It is about rebuilding.

In any case, I can see now that my issues extend outside and beyond the realm of pharmacological interactions or biological side effect. However, in looking back, in searching clues recovered from the wreckage of this latest subjective event horizon, it seems clear to me that the medication I have been on has not done me any favors. If anything, it felt like the medication was water on the Gremlin of my Crazy. I need to get back to a baseline, to find out what “normal” feels like for the Ryan at this point.

I feel like doing that is the only way to move forward.

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Brief History of the Addict

I had my first panic attack over Thanksgiving holiday 2009. This is the first experience that I can recall which I would identify as a panic attack. The problem is, most of the preceding decade is full of blank spots, gaps of memory burned and washed away by drugs and booze. When this initial anxiety experience happened, I assumed that my lifestyle and bad habits had finally caught up with me and that the chemicals were to blame for any neurological issues. I am realizing now that the things I have been putting into my body have been a pursuit of oblivion, a meager attempt at self medication for much deeper problems.

I was driving through the Salt River Wilderness area of Arizona, on my way to Tucson from Farmington, NM. Having not visited family in Tucson nor seen Southern Arizona in years, I was excited for the quick holiday trip. A few miles back, a sign advised of a 6% gradient for the next several miles, and also indicated the narrow, twisting pass through Salt River Canyon was approaching. Just as I rounded a turn in the road and saw the vast, suffocating expanse of the canyon open up before me, a sudden tide of doom and foreboding overtook me. I knew I was going to die.

I’ve never had an issue with heights, driving mountain ranges, flying, any of that shit. For as long and deep into my childhood as I can remember, any time I’ve found myself staring over the edge of some daunting precipice, the only thoughts in my head are of leaping – not necessarily dying, just relinquishing control. There has never been fear accompanying those thoughts. In this moment, though, I don’t know if it will be because I pass out, lose control of my limbs, make a mistake in navigating, intentionally cut the wheel or what but I know I will die and it will be horrible and that is in this moment the only Fear and it is upon me and within me and crawling up my spine, infesting nerve coils, consuming me, it Is my brain it is my entire being and-

I am fortunate to have made a quick cut into a pull-off and shifted into park before I lost consciousness. When I come to seconds or centuries later, I am sitting in my Jeep still clutching the wheel in numb white-knuckle fists, drenched in sweat, the blood and cries of all things pulsing through my skull. My face is numb and bone-white. I can’t feel my hands or legs, or anything really, save for the seismic pounding of my battered heart in my chest. Nearly two hours later I am finally calm enough to continue driving, having to chant mantras and breath in patterns to get myself through the canyon and the rest of the several hundred miles to Tucson.

The next six months were a dizzyingly fast downward spiral of pills, booze, erratic behavior, and increasing isolation, until a group of friends and family intervened and got my ass into a psych hospital and drug rehab program.  May 20, 2010 was my first day “clean” or “sober” in as long as I could remember.  I went through the program and following eight months of rigorous addict step work with vigor and promise, a soul reborn and swelling with hope. Then, suddenly, New Years weekend, I bought two bottles of whiskey and a handful of Oxy and relapsed in glorious fashion, including breaking my fibia and tibula on an icy driveway whilst attempting to fetch my cigarettes.

The downward spiral anew. Nursing a freshly fractured leg and a glorious supply of pain killers, I was soon without a job, losing my home, and eluding the authorities all over again.  More booze. More drugs. No sex. A suicide attempt. A 24 psych hold. Rinse, repeat.

Relocating from Farmington to Tucson permanently in August 2011, building new bridges even as I torch the old ones, I eventually managed to start getting my shit together. A job. Then another one, because the first one sucked balls. A meager social life. I started doing things other than chemical suicide.

I met an angel. I fell in love.

I put together a few days free of drugs and booze. Then weeks, months. A year. More days.

But the Crazy kept bleeding through. The things I was addressing and resolving in my life still weren’t getting at the root of the problem.  Even without the chemicals, I soon began to unravel, a downward spiral anew that would prove to be the most destructive yet.

My head exploded on Sunday, March 1st. Hardly believable thay date is only a week ago. I had been lashing out at those closest to me for weeks, months, testing their boundaries and their affection for me. I can always see in hindsight that what I am doing in those moments is passive aggressive and destructively co-dependent and insane, but as it is happening it is as though I am operating outside of my own conscious control. A tasmanian demon of emotion and resentment and weakness and loathing. A black hole.

I pushed Jenn away so that she would cling closer to me. Her and I had discussed this behavior at length, she knew that it was something I did in moments of weakness and self-pity, and I knew it was not a game she was keen to play. In a realm of logic and reason, I am always aware of these things. But when the noise in my head is so loud, I do not operate in a world of logic or reason.

I pushed her away hoping she would pull back closer. When she didn’t do the thing the way it happened in my head, I got angry. I got desperate. I put too much pressure in and my head exploded. Insanity and fear and loathing and psychosis and scorn and violence and absolute unrestrained wrath was unleashed and rained down upon my world.

I screamed at her. Called her a fucking bitch. Pleaded with her. Grasped, desperate and clinging. Assaulted her with my words. Destroyed her.

And then, with more pills, and more booze, and more suffering, I tried to destroy myself.

I still don’t know what is at the core of what is wrong with me. It makes me fearful and hateful and vengeful and paranoid. Sometimes I can see it. Lately, always I can feel it. It is a shadow that lives in my spine, a slithering grub nested in the base of my skull. When it takes form and spreads its wings the silken sound it makes is so loud and it is all I can hear. It is the only thing. The pain is consuming.

Just keep digging?

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.