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Thursday, 3 January 2008

Do unto yourself as you would unto others

One time, I was tooling around Oakland and these two guys jumped on this other guy and started beating on him. They took off and left the other guy lying bloody in the street. This was before everybody had cell phones, but somebody passing by had one and so the cops were soon there. Nobody jumped in the middle heroically or anything, but they did call 911. And if I saw something like that again, I'd be on the phone right away, talking to the cops. For the most part, I'm not fan of the police, but they do have their uses.

And you, if you were someplace and you saw somebody about to kill another person or hurt them, you'd call 911 (or your country's equivalent) too. I mean, even if it was somebody you didn't really like, you might not want to jump in the middle, but you'd make the phone call. It's the right thing to do. And, I mean, it's not so hard to pick up a hone. You don't have to give your name. You just have to say where you're at and that somebody there is in trouble. You would do that, right? It's a moral imperative.

I don't know what it feels like to be in an agitated state. I've been depressed, anxious, closeted, etc, but I've never been bipolar and I hope it stays that way. Agitated states suck. People who are in them feel as crappy and awful and unbelievable deadenedly sad as somebody with bad depression, but with energy. Like how somebody might feel on a day they couldn't get out of bed, but they can get out of bed and move around, because they've got the stamina to do it. Feeling that low and having energy to take action is a dangerous situation. A friend of mine (who I neglected to ask if I could plagiarize) describes it as feeling like you leg was caught in a bear trap. You'd do anything to escape, even gnawing off your own leg.

But if you had a cell phone, you wouldn't gnaw off your own leg, you would call 911. And if you saw somebody so trapped, you'd call for help. And if you saw somebody about to kill somebody else, you'd call for help. And if the guy whose about to get killed is you and the guy whose about to do the killing is you, it's still the same situation. One where you have to call for help.

So I don't know what it's like. I've never been there. But I'm in the arts and so I know a lot of bipolar people. The suicide rates for bipolar folks is alarmingly high. I'm ignorant, but as your friend, I want to remind you to call 911 in an emergency. Even if you're going to do it anyway. Even if you don't like the guy getting killed. Even if you don't want to be saved.

the most futile blog post ever

Ok, so I used to have anxiety and that's mostly vanished, thank gods, (although my first self-inflicted T shot this morning did leave me feeling kind of freaked). It made me really suck at risk assessment. I never knew if I was actually in peril or not. Danger could be lurking around every turn. I might be unprepared!

I got very concerned about being prepared. Not just having an earthquake kit, but also being mentally prepared. In a crisis, you can't sit down and think out carefully what's coming. You have to just react. You need to already know how to respond when something gets thrown at you. So I used to sit and think about things that might happen and how I would deal with them. I would visualize myself taking steps to respond. I practiced it in my head in case I was called to do it in real life.

I don't even remember now what I was worrying about, but if it happened, I bet I would (still?) be on top of it. This isn't a completely crazy idea. It's the whole basis for fire drills. Certain dangers are so unlikely that they're not worth worrying about. But if you live in a tsunami zone, you know the evacuation route. Because when you get the 2 minute's notice that a tsunami has just passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, you don't want to be looking at an elevation map trying to figure out where to go.

I don't want to be presumptuous or anything, but some of you live in tsunami zones or earthquake zones or flood zones. And having a mental drill once in a while might be a reasonable thing to consider doing. Which is to say that if you feel like you're in a bear trap, I don't think you'll be recalling and following along with my moral reasoning about calling for help. But maybe for some of you, occasional mental fire drills make sense?

You folks all have shrinks and meds and people who know way more about stuff than me. I've got virtually nothing to contribute to this conversation. I really hate losing people and I want to feel like there's something that can be done. That I can do. Something to keep the folks that I care about around longer. And it's as futile as demanding that you stop smoking and start eating oat bran. Because that's not up to me and I don't know what I'm talking about.

fucking hell

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