Because the enormous narcissism of their parents deprived Will and Tom of suitable role models, both brothers learned to identify with absence. Consequently, even if something beneficial fortuitously entered their lives they immediately treated it as temporary. By the time they were teenagers they were already accustomed to a discontinuous lifestyle marked by constant threats of abandonment and the lack of any emotional stability. Unfortunately, “accustomed to” here is really synonymous with “damaged by.
― Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
Absolutely nothing visible to the eye provides a reason for or even evidence of those terrifying shifts which can in a matter of moments reconstitute a simple path into an extremely complicated one.
-Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
What can I say, I’m a sucker for abandoned stuff, misplaced stuff, forgotten stuff, any old stuff which despite the light of progress and all that, still vanishes every day like shadows at noon, goings unheralded, passings unmourned, well, you get the drift.
As a counselor once told me -a counselor for Disaffected Yought, I might add: “You like that crap because it reminds you of you.” Couldn’t of said it better or put it more bluntly. Don’t even disagree with it either.
-Mark Z Danielewski, House of Leaves
We all create stories to protect ourselves.
-Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.
― Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
In addition to my ongoing project of reading very self-help book known to man and working my way through an assortment of treatment manuals, I’ve been tracking down autobiographies and memoirs of people who have mental illnesses. Part of that is due to my own curiosity as to what mental disorders that I don’t have are like, and part of me suspects that they may prove more useful to my clients than yet another skills workbook that they will complete three exercises in and then abandon because skills workbooks tend to be largely irrelevant. It doesn’t help that I primarily work with teenagers, who, by and large, refuse to do homework on principle.
My Body is a Book of Rules is Elissa Washuta’s account of coming to terms with adulthood, her racial identity, her experiences as a woman, and, of course, her diagnosis of Bipolar II. Told in a series of disjointed vignettes, IM conversations, poems, scripts, chart notes, online dating profiles, and research papers, the memoir tracks Washuta’s journey through college and grad school, numerous med changes, and a series of unfortunate relationships. I enjoyed it immensely; Washuta is an incredibly gifted writer and everything she wrote was so relatable that reading it was like having a conversation with a friend.
I’m definitely hanging on to this one.
Also, my life is so stupid I just made my therapist cry when I was talking about stuff. I was talking about the old rape or something and she starts tearing up and then crying and I was like, “Why are you crying?” and she said, “Your life,” and I said, “Is it really that bad?” Because I thought this was just growing up. Maybe not. Maybe I’m special in the worst way.
-Elissa Washuta, My Body is a Book of Rules
Side note: something similar happened to me when I was in college, and it had the awesome effect of me thinking that I was broken beyond repair (I mean, if my story was so fucked up that it made a psychologist cry, it kinda follows…) and therapy would never help me.
I read non-stop, and my reading material is…eclectic, to say the least. I found this one in the philosophy section.
“Self-aggrandizing asshole with thin moral pretext.”
“To see this, consider why we swear out loud at the asshole in traffic.”
“When we are at risk for being exploited, we can at least take ourselves out of the asshole’s way.”
It has also usefully confirmed my (extremely negative) opinion of Flaubert, which felt pretty good.
Madness deals not so much with truth and the world, as with man and whatever truth about himself he is able to perceive.
-Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization
If not, it probably should be.