It was 1976. I was living on the eighteenth floor in a dormitory of a college out for the summer months. I was partying with a bunch of strangers a few floors down. We were having a good time smoking hash and drinking beer listening to Steppenwolf, playing cards, and watching TV with the sound off. We were having weird conversations about what was in the fridge, science experiments, but mostly beer and a bag of bones and bottles of vodka in the freezer. We were playing with a big cockroach on the floor, and ransacking the cupboards for stuff to eat. I meet this girl. She says she’s a model. She looked like a model. So I guessed she wasn’t but wanted to be. It was getting late, maybe three, maybe four in the morning. She invited me to her dorm room. There was a bunk bed. We climbed up. We were playing around, being silly. This guy comes in who immediately I got a bad vibe from. They knew each other. Maybe her boyfriend, maybe her pimp, I don’t know. But it wasn’t good. He was talking shit to her, some code I didn’t understand. And then he started banging on the side of her goldfish bowl with a spoon or fork or something scaring the shit out of fish. And he didn’t stop. I couldn’t take it, it was too cruel. In her ear I told her I had to go. I left feeling sick. A depression was starting to shroud my perception. And it was getting worse by the second.
It occurs to me in a flash but instantly forgets itself. I have worked myself out of puzzled looks before. In fact, I have it down to a fine art.
Being a conjuror, I can make myself disappear by concentrating on it. I can reappear on the ceiling or repeat myself on this chair. It is a trick of the eye. Don’t blink or you’ll miss me! I’d pull flowers out of the air for you. I wish I had a top hat so then I would be taller. I would show them but I am just a bunny rabbit and a drum roll and a puff of smoke. It all ends badly anyhow.
You’ll miss me more than you know.
I’m walking down a crowded street. Everyone’s looking up. From the back of the crowd I see a man standing on the edge of the bell tower of the cathedral. He’s dressed in black. I think he’s a priest. I hear the cops coming in the distance. I feel the pain getting unbearable. The hands, feet, and chest of my bunny suit are getting soaked with blood but no one notices. I silently keep reciting Hail Mary’s, but faster than before.
Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
It is Holy Saturday evening, tomorrow Easter. In the setting sun the man on the bell tower starts tossing things from a bag. People are catching them and picking them from the sidewalk. Over the shoulder of the woman in front of me I see it’s a little plastic Jesus. The children in the front are all waving their hands up in the air ready to catch one. Suddenly the woman in front of me turns screaming. It shocks me. Others turn to look. I look down at my bloody chest, bunny hands, and feet and the pool of blood I’m standing in. For a moment I feel sick falling into blackness.
From a bed I open one eye and look around the white room, some white Easter lilies in a vase on the table beside a little plastic Jesus. I am in restraints – psychiatric hospital – feeling ambivalent about being resurrected.
I vomited and got pulled backwards through the spirit world – kind of like a breech birth. All they could hear was me coughing and spitting. Someone’s gone and thrown a brick or put a stick in my eye. I stick to what I know. No-one knows of my existence because I got you one down, two across.
Often it happens that my life falls apart. But I believe I breathe; and although the air goes in and air comes out, I can’t help feeling that water vapour damps the spirit world. It’s an artificial element. That’s the thing: who knows what time will bring? Is my thought sound-proofed? I know my days are numbered. There comes a time when you just want some sweeties and some silence.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched a national outreach campaign around “Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness”, a television program being released to PBS stations in early October 2009 in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). The campaign will last one year, building on PBS broadcasts extending through Mental Health Month in May 1210, as well as other multimedia events. For more information about this campaign and PBS television series visit: www.mindsontheedge.org
2nd in a series. In other words, recycled images.
This is the resistance of the flesh. Death is a threshold. Forcing death’s door is not easy, even by suffocation with a plastic bag, even after a handful of sedatives. I have tried myself. Guilt stains and, my God, I am the traitor who doesn’t come clean. The whole business of suicide is an uneasy one. I wait for the rest which never comes. It is rickety as lithium. I have fluid retention in my ankles. I think I have got off lightly.
I am in the splinters of the mirror I have just shattered. I should not cut myself. But by now it is too late.
They have a go at help. But I am past it. There’s something lost in me. Like hell I’ll ever get it back. Like hell I’ll ever recover myself. I make perfect sense for I am a perfect sphere suspended in time and catching in the light. I caught somewhere, hearing only white noise in the pitch blackness. It is down to impure health.
I need freedom and paper. My day never begins. Or never ends. It is pretty final and it is too late. It’s much too late.
Strychnos ignatia is a plant named for Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. Strychnine was first isolated from the beans of Strychnos ignatia by Pelletier and Leuchs in 1818. Its structure was determined by Sir R. Robinson and in 1953 he wrote, “For its molecular size it is the most complex substance known. Strychnine is a very toxic colorless crystalline alkaloid. Strychnine poisoning can be fatal to humans and can occur by inhalation, swallowing or absorption through eyes or mouth. Strychnine poisoning was often used in literature and film. Human poisoning takes ten to twenty minutes after exposure, the body’s muscles begin to spasm, starting with the head and neck and spread to every muscle in the body with continuous convulsions. Death comes for either asphyxiation caused by the paralysis of the neural pathways that control breathing, or by exhaustion from convulsions. Death occurs in 2-3 hours. There is no antidote for strychnine. Theories concerning the death of Alexander the Great were that he was poisoned with wine contaminated with strychnine. Norman Bates’ mother and her lover were killed with strychnine in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho.
There is something about this image that is very personal. When I was a young child, waaaaaay back in the 50’s, I was afraid of the dark when I went to bed. When I closed my eyes I would see tiny white specs that I thought were out to get me. I obsessive-compulsively chanted a tune I made up to make the specs go away. By the time I got through with my chant, I usually fell asleep. The white specs on this piece of art look like how the specs looked to me when I was a child. They looked disturbing then and they still look disturbing, now. They’re like grit that gets in your eyes or teeth, little pin pricks or the pins and needles feeling when your foot falls asleep.
nailed to a wall
floats another delusion
Pharma “part of well-organised crime” in US
09 September 2009
The pharmaceutical industry has made major contributions to the health of the US public, but it must also be considered part of the nation’s well-organized crime, says an industry critic.
Last week’s $2.3 billion settlement between Pfizer and the US Justice Department for unlawful prescription drug promotion may sound large, but it is not enough to ensure drug companies will curb their bad behavior – in fact, it just shows there is competition in the pharmaceutical industry, according to Sidney Wolfe, director of US advocacy group Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.
Pfizer has broken a record set by Eli Lilly in January for what was then described by the Justice Department as the “largest individual corporate criminal fine” in U.S. history – more than $500 million in criminal penalties for off-label promotion of Zyprexa (olanzapine), its treatment for psychotic conditions including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – but now, just seven months later, Pfizer has broken this record with a criminal fine of $1.2 billion, the largest ever imposed in the US for any matter, he says. The rest of the $2.3 billion represents civil penalties.
“The US pharmaceutical industry, long one of the most profitable in the country with profits last year of close to $50 billion, has engaged in an unprecedented amount of criminal activity in the past decade, all aimed at increasing sales, often by illegally promoting drugs for diseases for which evidence that benefits outweigh harm is lacking – also known as illegal off-label promotion,” says Dr Wolfe. When doctors are induced, either by being bribed or misled by drug companies, to prescribe drugs for such purposes, there is “a reasonable chance” that the drugs will do more harm than good and patients may be seriously injured or killed by such promotion, he warns.
In addition to Pfizer – which also pleaded guilty to criminal charges for off-label promotion of its anticonvulsant Neurontin (gabapentin) in 2004 – and Lilly, other drug companies found to have engaged in criminal activity in the past 10 years include Abbott, Schering-Plough, AstraZeneca, Purdue and Bayer, says Dr Wolfe. However, he adds: “the ever-escalating fines are unlikely to stop drug companies from continuing to bribe doctors because they represent just a fraction of drug company profits and no one has gone to jail.”
Until “corporate titans are forced to fork over a much larger proportion of their illegally-gotten profits and are put behind bars, nothing will change,” he concludes.
By Lynne Taylor