Friday, July 18, 2014

Home. Exhausted.

There are no good funerals, but driving 12 hours each way just adds to the misery.  It is possible to fly into North Bend, Oregon, airport, but departures on Monday were either way too early, or way too late. 

There are funerals where you can honestly say, "This is a person who lived a full and satisfying life, but every life comes to an end."  Ron's life, however, was a tragedy--a person with enormous potential largely wasted by schizophrenia.  One of my sisters described it well: the brother she knew and loved died decades ago, and a complete stranger had taken over his body.

Adding to the tragedy is that parents should not have to bury their children.  It is out of the natural order of things.

I am writing this at 4:15 AM, my sinuses on fire, as bad as I can ever remember them being.  Ron's bedroom, which he had not allowed anyone to clean, was much like the interior of his car: filthy in a way that was utterly repulsive.  I spent a number of hours with my wife and siblings on cleaning his car in preparation for sale, and making a small dent on cleaning the room.  I suspect that my sinus problems are connected.  I should have worn a dust mask before going in to either.

I have become quite unsympathetic to decriminalization of marijuana over the years because it is certainly one of the triggers of schizophrenia.  (Alcohol is likely another, and LSD certainly so.)  Watching the last forty years of my brother's life play out makes me utterly unsympathetic to those who are prepared to tolerate an increase in such tragedies so that they can get high.


  1. Could you select a charity to which I could donate in his memory?

  2. First, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. I think I mentioned before that my brother too smoked a great deal of marijuana (he became visibly shaken if he had to go a day without it), and later sunk in schizophrenia, finally killing himself with an overdose of sleeping pills. I am well aware of the damages that these drugs can cause.

    But people who want it legalized are not motivated "so that they can get high". There are unintended consequences to the the criminalization of drugs, the first of which is that it creates poverty and death squads in neighboring countries (which ends up as illegal border crossing here).

    Decriminalization, along with a program of education, might be the best and most civil course of action.


  4. asdf: I agree that there are arguments for decriminalization that are not "so I can get high." But those are a pretty small fraction of what is driving decriminalization.

    I agree that education is the most effective strategy on this. But in a pothead culture like this, even when the news media cover this connection, it seems to disappear into a vast black hole, perhaps overwhelmed by the "but I want to get high" dominance of our culture.

  5. I had had a long hiatus from reading your blog -- work has been crazy. Tonight I read it -- and read this.

    I am sorry. I read your account of Ron a few years ago. I have a dim idea of what this must mean.

    Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.

  6. "But I want to get high" always strikes me as the motivation. Whether it's pushing for medical marijuana, with the winking nod to the existence of quacks who will write a prescription for a fee. and the whines of "My Medicine" like an old lady a hundred years ago taking her Laudinum. And now the celebration in this state of legalization.

    If Pot is "Medicine" how can it be Recreational? Or have they been lying to us all this time (well, of course, they'll say anything to get high)? Can we have Recreational Aspirin now? Ahat about Oxy-Condone? Potheads can't make fun of Rush any more, at least and not be hypocrites. Oh, right, they're okay with that.

    One the other hand, I had a friend when I was in high school who had terrible migraines caused by arthritic in his cervical vertebrae. It was inoperable, and regular pain medications left him non-functional. He had quite a tolerance to pot built up, and could live fairly normally with it keeping his pain in check.

    So I'm of two minds, because I know some people CAN be helped by it, but on the other hand, the vast majority just want to get high and will say anything and game any system in order to get it.

  7. A new batch of prayers dispatched.

  8. My condolences.

    I think you are overestimating the "want to get high" component of the legalization movement. I haven't touched the stuff in 30 years but support legalization. I am concerned about the excesses of the War on Drugs, its intersection with the National Security State, police corruption and militarization and fiscal issues related to policing a significant part of the population. The "want to get high" folks have never had any problem obtaining drugs regardless of their legal status.

  9. ... parents should not have to bury their children.

    The Chinese have a saying: the worst thing is white following black.

    That is, the white-haired parents following the coffin of the black-haired child in the funeral procession.

  10. I offer sincere condolences on the loss of your brother, and your book is still high on my reading list, having just finished a biography of Dorothea Dix and looking to obtain a copy of the also not-widely-available Joe's Journey.

    Still, having lost a very beloved father (who fortunately was not lured or compromised by "recreational" drugs) to the "care" of an arguably inept and unethical psychiatrist, I request that you use your strong voice to advocate for biomarker research such as this:

    Without the scientific constraint of objective, physical biomarkers, the field of psychiatry retains the taint of Freud's dusty, incestuous couch and the guesswork application of potent drugs and drug cocktails. In the absence of such industry reform, the lay public is far too easily manipulated into projecting an otherness onto psychosis to realize that "[t]here but for the grace of God, go I."

  11. Laura: I agree. There is a LOT of research being published now that is examining the biochemistry involved with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and it rapidly separates the "your mother didn't love you as a child" psychoanalytic foolishness from real science.