I’m Not as Crazy as You Think I Moose!

Gustave Doré's illustration for Poe's 'The Raven.' (1884)
(From Gustave Doré, via Library of Congress, used w/o permission.)

I’ll be talking about ADHD, PDD, PTSD, ASD and me; and what that alphabet-soup assortment of acronyms means.

But first, a spot of poetry.

“…Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had tried to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—….”
(“The Raven,” Edgar Allen Poe (1884) via Wikipedia)

Fast-forward 35 years —

“…Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

“Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand…..”
(“The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats (1919))

New York Times 'Crossword Mania Breaks Up Homes' article (December 10, 11, 1924), New Britain Herald 'The Cross-Word Puzzles Bridegroom' cartoon. (July 18, 1924)Instead of the Second Coming, we got the Roaring Twenties and Crossword Mania.

I talked about that a couple weeks back.

But I haven’t talked about the Second Coming, AKA Final or Last Judgment, for some time.

Looking Forward to Judgment Day?

Lucas Cranach the Elder's 'The Last Judgment.' (ca. 1524 (but not before 1520), 'meat grinder' detail.)
(From Lucas Cranach the Elder/Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

The Last Judgment is this creation’s closing ceremony. It’s when everything each of us has done, or not done, will go public. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038-1041)

But before that, I’m looking forward to my particular judgment. Then, after an interview with our Lord, I’ll live with Jesus for eternity. Or I won’t. (Catechism, 1021-1050)

I’m “looking forward” to my particular judgment, in the sense that I’m anticipating it.

But since each of our particular judgments is a performance review, it’s not the sort of anticipation I feel when looking forward to reading a good book. More like “looking forward” to finals week before graduation. Only more so.

What happens then is up to me: what I do now, how well I love God and neighbor; and what I decide at my particular judgment.

I can opt out of Heaven. It’d be a daft decision, but it is possible. (Catechism, 1021)

Bosch’s “Last Judgment,” a Triptych Tangent

Hieronymus Bosch's (?) 'The Last Judgment.' (after 1482)
(From Hieronymus Bosch (?)/Groeningemuseum, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

Now, about that weird picture: it’s from a “Last Judgment” triptych, a three-panel painting, done by Lucas Cranach the Elder. He’s a bit younger than Hieronymus Bosch, and nowhere near as famous. Not in my country, at any rate.

If you’re a Bosch buff, you’ll likely think the Cranach painting looks like one of the Bosch “Last Judgment” triptychs. Which it should, since Cranach copied the Bosch original.

The Bosch original is in the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. Or it’s in the Groeningemuseum in Bruges. On the other hand, maybe there are two identical Bosch triptychs. But that which seems unlikely.

I’m pretty sure that Cranach’s copy is in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie.

The Bosch ‘Vienna’ original, assuming that Bosch painted it, has been ‘restored’ a few times, so odds are that the Cranach copy looks more like the original than the current triptych that’s in Vienna. Or Burges.

I don’t know why different folks say the Bosch triptych’s in different places. I suspect that it’s at least partly due to a post-World-War-II scramble, sorting out who had looted what from where.

Looting, souvenir collecting, or whatever, isn’t new. But I like to think that we’re developing respect for the Decalogue’s ‘don’t steal’ instruction. (Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19; Catechism, 2401-2449)

Art restoration, these days, at least for museums, focuses on restoring artwork to the way it looked when it was new.1 Art restoration’s goals have shifted over the centuries, and that’s another topic. Topics.

The Last Judgment’s Go Time, Doomsayers: and Something from Sirach

Wiley Miller's 'Non Sequitur.' (June 13, 2011)I take the Last Judgment, this creation’s closing ceremony, seriously.

My native culture’s perennial End Times Bible Prophecies, not so much.

I haven’t run into the COVID-19 pandemic being ‘prophetically revealed’ as a horseman of the apocalypse. (Revelation 6:18)

Which strikes me as a bit odd.

Particularly since showing our ongoing supply chain SNAFU as the third horseman’s effect on wheat and barley prices might seem plausible; given flamboyant delivery, a receptive audience and carefully-selected Bible bits.

Then there’s Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which so far hasn’t gone nuclear. For which I’m duly thankful.

But with at least three of the four horsemen in daily headlines? Like I said: I’m not sure why someone hasn’t packaged these current events as perilous portents of Armageddon.

Maybe End Times Bible Prophecy books aren’t potential best sellers when folks are faced with real problems. And that’s yet another topic.

As for why I don’t take ‘Bible-based’ doomsayers seriously, apart from effects they have on their followers — I read the Bible.

Our Lord said that only God the Father knows when the Last Judgment will happen. (Matthew 24:3644, 25:13, Mark 13:3233)

Sounds to me like go time for Judgement Day is available on a need-to-know basis. And if the Son of God didn’t need to know, I sure don’t.

Besides, I’m in no hurry for judgment.

“When mortals finish, they are only beginning, and when they stop they are still bewildered….
“…The number of their days seems great if it reaches a hundred years.
“Like a drop of water from the sea and a grain of sand, so are these few years among the days of eternity.
“That is why the Lord is patient with them and pours out his mercy on them.”
(Sirach 18:711)

I’m Not Normal: ADHD And All That

My methylphenidate prescription, with one day left. (June 10, 2021)

If I yearned with every fiber of my being to be a nice, normal member humanity’s teeming throng, I’d be a mighty morose man.

Brian H. Gill. (March 17, 2021)That’s because I’m not normal.

My second-oldest daughter said I am eccentric, scholarly and eclectic. She’d been asked to describe me in three words. The second word might have been “academic,” or something of the sort, and I’m drifting off-topic again.

The point is, she’s right. On all three counts. My interests are varied, I enjoy doing research and sharing what I find; and I don’t do “conventional.”

Being eccentric accounts for “Cluster A personality disorder” having been among my diagnosed quirks. It’s the DSM’s label for folks who act oddly.

As I said, I don’t do “conventional.” Not convincingly, at any rate. And small wonder. Here’s a half-dozen items that have appeared at various times in my medical records:

  • ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, inattentive type
  • ASD: Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cluster A personality disorder
  • GAD: Generalized anxiety disorder
  • PDD: Persistent depressive disorder
  • PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder

DSM? That’s the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.2
And that’s where I get back to acronyms and me.

ADHD and More

An image from Brian H. Gill's brain scans in 2018.ADHD often gets diagnosed in childhood.

Today.

If I’d been born in the early 21st century instead of the late Truman administration — but I was born when I was born, and was a middle aged man when I began learning about my versions of ADHD and the rest.

I’ve got the inattentive version, apparently, which arguably accounts for my train of thought’s frequent derailments and mood swings. Make that mood ricochets.

On the other hand, I’m not a typical adult with ADHD. Good grief, I’m not even conventionally unconventional.

An article in The Conversation got me started thinking about ADHD this week:

“ADHD looks different in adults. Here are 4 signs to watch for.” (Tamara May, Mark Bellgrove)3 Paraphrasing their four-point list:

  1. An inner sense of restlessness, feeling driven to always do something
  2. Start organized, then feel overwhelmed
  3. Procrastination
  4. Poor timing: underestimating how long something takes

I’m not a perfect match for that list, either. Which isn’t surprising, since that article was giving an overview, not diving deep into details.

The “attention deficit” part of ADHD may be why I skipped from psychiatric disorders and acronyms to weird paintings and the Last Judgment.

ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, strikes me as a catch-all category for a whole mess of glitches that we’ve been studying.

I’ve watched definitions shift over the last several years, as researchers collected data, formed theories, collected more data — and I am not going to start discussing scientific method. Not this week.

Cluster A personality disorder? I talked about that earlier.

GAD, generalized anxiety disorder, is just what it says: fretting above and beyond the call of reason. I wouldn’t rank it as my top problem, but I do need to rein in my inner worrier more often than I like.

Depression and Something I Don’t Remember

National Institutes of Health's illustration: regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (ca. 2018)PDD, persistent depressive disorder, AKA dysthemia, is pretty much like major depressive disorder. It’s a mood disorder, and involves neurochemical glitches.

PDD is “persistent” because it’s chronic. In other words, it sticks around. Which can make diagnosis difficult, since folks like me can assume that feeling this way is “normal.”

And that brings me to — oh, goody — PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD has been in my diagnosis list, but wasn’t there the last time I checked. Why it was removed, at least from the copy I can access, I don’t know. If that detail becomes important, I’ll dig into it. But I’ve got enough on my plate without trying to unravel metaphoric red tape.

Assuming that I have experienced PTSD, which seems reasonable, I’m pretty sure that it was triggered by something that happened around Christmas, when I was 12.

Talking or writing about it hurts, so I’ll repeat what I said last year:

“…When I was 12, my mother had a severe stroke. I’m told that I was with her at the time, and accompanied her in an ambulance. My father tells me that he blamed me. That’s understandable. Dealing with me can be stressful.

“I have no memory at all of the ‘stroke’ events, all my knowledge of them and the month or so surrounding them I have second-hand, from my parents.

I suspect that’s how PTSD got on my list, and am as sure as I can be that those events started my experience with depression….”
(August 7, 2021)

Perceptions, Beauty, and a Decision

W. Spooner's (?) 'A wretched man with an approaching depression; represented by encroaching little devils.' Coloured lithograph (1830s)/ Vincent van Gogh's 'Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate.' (1890)I remember seeing sunlight on green grass, in the spring after that event, correctly perceiving that it was beautiful, and noticing that I was not experiencing an emotional response to the perceived beauty.

I had grown a foot while staying the same weight that year, and knew that I was going through puberty.

At the time, I thought that maybe all the metaphoric light and color draining out of my universe was normal for someone transitioning into adulthood. The ‘dead-behind-the-eyes’ look I’d noticed in so many adult faces seemed to support that assumption.

I was also wanted to avoid becoming blind to beauty and wonders, so I made a point of paying attention; and I’ve probably talked about that before.

Fast-forward several decades.

At my wife’s recommendation, I talked with a psychiatrist. Then came diagnoses of depression plus an assortment pack of other psychiatric issues. I’ve been taking prescribed medications, including methylphenidate ever since. That’s geek-speak for Ritalin.4

Taking my Medicine

Illustration of 'icepick' lobotomy, from Dr. Walter Freenan II's 'Psychosurgery in the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain.' (1950)Methylphenidate is a Schedule II controlled substance, so every month I have to get authorization for the prescription.

The process usually goes smoothly.

But several times, years back, the authorization documents got lost. I never discovered what kept happening to the paperwork.

But I did get to experience discontinuation syndrome when my month’s supply of meds ran out. Several times, as indicated above.

And I learned that “discontinuation syndrome” is a euphamism for withdrawal. Which helps me understand the (very unpleasant) experience, so I’ll count that as a “plus.”

I like being able to use my brain without fighting the neural machinery, so I don’t mind taking my prescribed medications.

And I certainly don’t mind living in the early 21st century, when lobotomies aren’t as fashionable as they were in my younger years.5 And that’s yet again another topic.

But — is it right to take my medicine?

Since I’m a Catholic, and briefly, yes.

Life is a ‘precious gift’ from God. So is health. Getting and staying healthy is a good idea. Within reason. Even taking painkillers is okay. Again, within reason. (Catechism, 1506-1510, 2279, 2288-2289, 2292)

I was going to say more about being (not) being normal, sharing in humanity’s transcendent dignity, and related topics. But getting authorization for methylphenidate was a tad more labor-intensive this month.

And there’s that ‘underestimating how long something takes’ thing, too.

So (not) being normal and all that will wait for another time.

Finally, the usual links of allegedly-related stuff:


1 Art and artists:

2 ADHD, PTSD, and points between:

3 Here’s what got me started this week:

4 Irksome, occasionally; but effective:

5 Rules and unpleasantness:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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