Why I started smoking, Part I (the path of the fatuous loon)

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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I went off the deep end
Others remained at shore
I may fail to transcend
But I will not remain a bore

What separates the sane from the insane? The prevailing ethos in America says that there is a chemical imbalance in individual’s brain that renders them to appear to others as fatuous loons. Sadly, really, there seems very little factual documentation on what chemical components separates a person from his/her sanity. The way that antidepressants and the ilk prescribed by psychiatrists come to the conclusion that since, for example, a group of depressed peoples’ have lowered amounts of serotonin on the spinal fluid, that a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor will cure the problem. This invariably does alleviate short term depression, but does not actually cure the disease as a whole. Many a case sees the individual toward ever increasing prescriptions that further increase serotonin activity, or even doing the reversal and disinclining the serotonin towards breaking the blood-brain barrier. Serotonin production does try to regulate itself in humans though so combatting this innate procedure creates a perpetual battle (increasing or decreasing depending on the case) that doctors cannot seem to regulate at this moment.

This psychiatric scientific model does seem rather conjectural for me, but if things work better for some than they did for (perhaps myopic) self, then have at them. What this series of articles explaining myself shall try to come to a conclusion on what made me, at least in my mind, and from what I have gathered upon the perception of others, seem more together in the mental faculties than those that were exhibited the years prior.
After a month long stay in two different mental hospitals, the last diagnosis was Bipolar I with psychotic features. Anyone that has been put into a mental hospital outside of their own volition because of bipolar tendencies invariably gets diagnosed with the Bipolar I distinction over the less innocuous Bipolar II or cyclothymia (that Stephen Fry admits to having). I will not deny the diagnosis was not without reason. Nor will I say that I have fully recovered. I probably was and still am under this distinction. Without proper care and understanding of the underlining symptoms, I fall privy to all its misgivings. Life seems a continual battle of discipline versus affliction.
So what got me there and how do I perceive myself a year removed from the “worst” of it? Before the point of loony bin incarceration, I really felt that sleep was optional. Not that I suffered from insomnia, just that I felt so ALIVE awake that sleep felt like something that only a mental weakling had to succumb to. Five months of staying awake routinely for 40+ hours, then crashing for 12-18 hours became the norm. Note, don’t try this at home.
It should also be noted that with my lack of social acumen towards dealing with other people (every test regarding introvert vs. extrovert seems to put me exactly at 100% introvert) fostered by this silly notion that I could gamble for my livelihood, I set my own hours. So one day bled into the next, waking up in my car or in some hotel somewhere then immediately spending the next forty hours holed up in some casino. Oh yes, did I mention that I thought it would be prudent to save on monthly housing by sleeping in my car/hotel? Do not try that on the backseat of your car.

But, I did do sort of well financially given the time structure that I was involved in along with the sample size of how many poker hands I was dealt given the period. At some point though, after traveling along the thoroughfare of Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Delaware, I wanted a break. Off toward North Carolina I headed with its new WSOP (World Series of Poker) circuit event in Cherokee, North Carolina. If I had it over again, I wish I would have just played poker there all day and all night. The action was so unbelievably soft, as they call it in poker terms (aka supremely easy), that I cannot believe I just did not salivate with the greed of an avarice lover. Alas though, I did not participate in much poker action. I had other ideas of what made my life meaningful, mainly megalomaniac delusion.
I believed I was the poet laureate for this generation. Mania has a way to do that to a person. Delusions somehow become manifested into reality even when the vast majority of encounters with people furrows into their brow a questioning countenance or a tone questioning if your own mental faculties have not deteriorated beyond repair. Flat out garble-dee-goo indecipherable drivel I put out. But at the time I thought, THIS IS BRILLIANCE REINCARNATE!!! It would not have been so humiliating if I only had thought, well, lets put this down for only my own eyes for later revival. I had to put this down for every person I have ever met to know how superior my poetic triumph was compared to their meaningless disposition towards life! You might want to look up the meaning of megalomaniac if you do not know what it means already.
After a few weeks of living the life of very little sleep, prodigal poet of drivel, I just felt the need to stop gambling. Despite the fact that it is really the only thing I know how to procure income for myself, I just decided to travel instead. Take a hiatus from the “working” world. Did I mention that I have never really had a full time job working for other people?

Then for the next month, the audio decibels cranked to the maximum in my traveling side show of insanity with Billy Joel Stranger album, Red Hot Chili Peppers “What Hits?” and The Band Greatest Hits, I hit the road to destination unknown. East, west, north, south, I had no previous conception of where I would go. Other than I had to be in California for my brother’s wedding in about a month and a half.

I cannot recall how many reiterations of “Fight Like a Brave” by Red Hot Chili Peppers I heard in that month, but that was by far the predominant mantra of the season. “Fight like a brave, don’t be a slave, no one can tell you that you got to be afraid!” If there was ever one song to repeat towards a bipolar maniac like me that wanted to foster complete insanity, I cannot tell you what else to listen to. Not only did I think my poetry was revolutionary idiom, now my behavior as a whole encapsulated the guiding beliefs that everyone shall be encumbered with because of my brief encounter. You see this guy act just like him or FAIL AT LIFE!

South Carolina came first on the places to visit after a two week hiatus in North Carolina. What I recall of North Carolina was the weather being absolutely splendid mostly spent either walking around or sitting down on a bench chain smoking cigarettes and writing line after line of horrendous tripe.

This should probably be an interlude on why I started smoking tobacco. The vast majority of people get addicted to it before the age of 18. It took me till 23 to start. It was after a weeknight rendezvous at a strip club in Tempe, AZ. I solicited the services for a “private” dance with one of the ladies of the finer sex. Then for some reason that I truly cannot recall how it ever got to that point (thanks Alcohol), the stripper had her legs wrapped around me, with another stripper beside her, while I have my knees and hands on the ground. With the paddle in the stripper’s hand pounding on my ass I whinnied like the inner donkey that I never let get out while playing poker. I was not aroused by this really, I just thought it was funny for some reason.

After ending that little session of what most would think to be quite humiliating, I walked back to my rental property. Outside of the stripper establishment, the two strippers were outside smoking. They then quibbled something in jest that I cannot recall exactly, but I could smell the contempt vapors even through the smoke. I walked back a few miles feeling rather glum about life. Even my jokes about the meaningless of life where I was the clown did not impart a jovial attitude towards life.

Sometime that morning I decided, before I kill myself, I should at least try all the drugs first. So off I went to the convenience store. I asked to get a pack of Marlboro and the clerk asked which kind. Naive in this regard, I thought like a bull and chose the red pack. Perhaps I should have read up on some smarter animals than donkeys and bulls right?
Continued soon…

posted in: Self Shit Post

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