doug henwood, my turn: hillary clinton targets the presidency
music friday: my 2015

xmas 2015

Some think Homeland has returned to form this year, and I’ll agree, at least to the extent that it no longer rises above its form. The show is about Carrie Mathison, and about Claire Danes portrayal of Carrie. Danes never falters, and the first season, where Carrie’s bipolar disorder turned her into an obsessive investigator who is “crazy” but also “right”, was stunning. The plot became unhinged in Season Two, and I don’t believe it has ever recovered, although for some reason I’m still watching ... probably because of Danes. (One way Homeland is true to form is that, like almost every Showtime series, it goes on for too many season.)

Season Five, which just ended, began with Carrie no longer working for the CIA. Of course, she inevitably gets involved in the same old shit. A turning point comes early in the season, when Carrie goes off her bipolar medication so that she can do a better job of figuring things out. This call-back to Season One mostly just reminded me of how good Homeland used to be. No one really likes Crazy Carrie any more. Whatever ... this subplot seems to just disappear. We never see her go back on her meds, although I guess she does because Crazy Carrie is mostly subdued.

I have been on bipolar meds for more than ten years. What was I like in the 50+ years before I went on meds? My sister once told me she thought I hated her when we were kids (nothing could be further from the truth, but she must have gotten that feeling from somewhere). There’s an acquaintance from high school ... we reconnected some years ago. She told me she always thought I was an asshole when we were teenagers. One time, I asked a good friend from those days (and today) to support me on this ... he said “you were an asshole”. And he’s my friend.

I don’t know where my sins fit on the continuum of good to bad. I know I’ve never killed anyone ... I know the person I most often hurt is myself ... I know I could have been a better husband and a better father. But lots of people could say these things. They are nothing to be proud of, but I suspect they are fairly ordinary. I’ve done a couple of things that were worse than these ... maybe we all have something like that we keep hidden.

As Xmas rolls around, I recognize how much meds have improved my life. For so long, I detested Xmas. Now, I get through it, and I hope I’m not too much of a burden on others.

But tonight, I find myself wondering what might happen if I did a Carrie Mathison. What if I went off my meds on a temporary basis? She had an explicit purpose for her actions ... what would be mine? I wouldn’t see things differently ... one of the odd things about my meds is that they haven’t changed what I think, only how I act on those thoughts. If I went off meds, that awful anxiety would return, as would the depression. But I wouldn’t be able to save the world from terrorists the way Carrie does. I’d just go back to feeling shitty.

So why would I even stop to wonder what it would be like?

Because my meds take away the one thing I have always been better at than anything else: my verbal meanness. I don’t say what I think they way I used to do, and a part of me thinks it would be liberating to return to the days of cutting barbs for a day or two.

But it would last a lot longer than a day or two, if not directly for me, than for my relationships with others. It took my high-school friend more than 40 years to get over whatever it was I did back in high school. Same with my sister.

So I dutifully take my meds, and wish people happy holidays. I update folks on our dog, Spot, who as you can see is doing as good as ever:

spot

I post a picture like this to cheer myself up:

félix in shades

And I revisit a good moment from 2015:

Got this feeling when I heard your name the other day
Couldn't say it, couldn't make it go away
It's a hard place, can't be friends, we can't be enemies
It's just too much, feel the weight crushing down on my face

The hardest part is things already said
Getting better, worse, I can not tell
Why do good things never wanna stay?
Some things you lose, some things you give away

Broken pieces, try to make it good again
Is it worth it, will it make me sick today?
It's a dumb song, but I'll write it anyway
It's an old mistake, but we always make it, why do we?

The hardest part is things already said
Getting better, worse, I can not tell
Why do good things never wanna stay?
Some things you lose, some things you give away

This time, it'll be alright
This time, it'll be okay
This time, it'll be alright
This time, it'll be okay

The hardest part is things already said
Getting better, worse, I can not tell
Why do good things never wanna stay?
Some things you lose, some things you give away
Some things you lose, some things you give away

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