Where “too much of everything” is just a business model, not a diagnosis.
Twitter. You know?
The other day, a Canadian guy I follow tweeted the following:
Just a goofy throwaway, I suppose. To which I threw immediately back:
Furt Furtney @furtneyWe are at Costco! What do you need??
Haha. A lot of folks thought my little large-lot joke was cute — because, I further suppose, it’s not always easy to recognize a cry for help. Maybe that’s because I didn’t specify being overwhelmed with despair and rage and existential dread so deep that there are moments I shut down entirely, unable to cope with the horror and hopelessness. Last week I had to cut short a Zoom session because I couldn’t summon the energy or courage to complete a thought.
Is it good, or bad, that the person I was Zooming with is my psychotherapist?
Either way, point is I’m not doing well over here. There is a lot of seething going on. Also blood-pressure spikes, trembling and, every now and then, extravagant tears. It is a pain I haven’t known since 25 years ago, when I barely escaped a kidnapping and found myself, weeks later, on the floor of my running shower, keening like a Sicilian mourner.
Speaking as someone with a history of PTSD, who has lived with low-level depression for my entire adult life, I promise you I’m not talking about moodiness here, or even the intermittent sense of what’s-the-fucking-point that’s run in my family, on both sides, for at least three generations. I’m also certain this has little to do with my levels of serotonin reuptake. Mind you, I’m speaking of disease, debilitating disease, but not clinical depression. I’m speaking of something more sinister and deadly.
I’m speaking of contemporary Republicanism.
This extremist cabal, this theofascist movement, this conservative party-turned-evil cult of hatred and superstition and ignorance is destroying our society. It is destroying our planet and the future of human life. And it is every day, bit by bit, outrage by outrage, lie by lie, denial by denial, mass shooting by mass shooting, medieval law by medieval law, destroying me. I hate these people as I’ve hated nobody and no thing in my 67 years on Earth. This includes Pol Pot and the Yankees.
Shall I compare it to a cancer, gnawing at me and consuming my ever-diminished vital force from within? No, too trite. It isn’t like a cancer. It’s more like Novichok, one of the nerve toxins Putin uses to poison his political enemies. Only at scale, like bioterrorism.
Maybe Cruz and DeSantis, and Alito, and Bannon, and Murdoch, and Abbott, and Greene, and Boebert, and Gaetz, and Cawthorne, and Beck, and Steube, and Blackburn, and Daines, and Rubio, and Boozman, and Johnson, and Noem, and Palin, and Doocy, and Jones, and Fuentes, and Alexander, and Spencer, and Kirk, and Taylor, and Ellis, and Torba, and Green, and Kavanaugh, and Gosar, and Thiel, and McConnell, and Mastriano, and Little, and Cox, and Lake, and Vance, and McDaniel, and Scott, and Miller, and Roberts, and Paxton, and McCarthy, and Carlson, and Barrett, and Pirro, and Hawley, and Graham, and Jordan, and Gohmert, and Clyde, and Mast, and Gorsuch, and Reeves, and Braun, and Eastman, and Gutfeld, and Clark, and Gianforte, and Kennedy, and Cotton, and Pompeo, and Lindell, and Perry, and Thomas, and Thomas, and Hannity and thousands more officeholders and agitators around the country — the whole lot of Nazis and ayatollahs conspiring to take America to 17th century Salem and/or 20th-century Germany — are terrorists who, in their lust for liberal outrage and the power it confers on them, willfully destroy truth, justice, the American way and the planet Earth no matter the human toll, even if it is counted in the billions. Shall I not despise them? And the donors who underwrite them, and the 100 million deplorable bigots they hold in their thrall?
“Aha!,” you say triumphantly. “You are deranged. That is simply paranoia speaking.”
Well, first of all, I fully confess to being deranged; that’s what I’m writing about here. But paranoia? One thinks of Catch-22, and Army Air Corps Captain Yossarian — too sane to be declared crazy enough to be grounded.
“They're trying to kill me,” Yossarian told him calmly.
“No one's trying to kill you,” Clevinger cried.
“Then why are they shooting at me?” Yossarian asked.
“They're shooting at everyone,” Clevinger answered. “They're trying to kill everyone.”
“And what difference does that make?”
Yossarian wanted to be Section 8’ed out of the service, but was stymied by his own articulation of truth. Never mind, though. Let me not undercut my despair with glibness. Disease and poison and terrorism and war analogies take us only so far, and do a disservice to the gruesome simplicity of my endless pain. And the endless pain of countless others, to the undisguised delight of Republicans, who, beginning with Trump outrage, mocked the “Derangement Syndrome” afflicting snowflake liberals who aren’t tough enough to watch their democracy and human rights be stolen from them in plain view. Republicans are correct in their diagnosis. Their evil has savaged psyches on a grand scale.
This includes two of my children, all but dissolving in anger, bitterness and fear. You may have heard one of them on my podcast, looking at the horizon for any signs of climate hope, of democratic hope, of economic hope, of social justice hope and finding none to cling to. The best years of my children’s lives are being consumed in the holocaust of political malevolence, with God knows what implications for their own children, born and unborn. This is why I sob in private and scream in public. Twitter, you know? It’s a dreadful platform for deliberation and a perfect one for catharsis.
The other day — freshly infuriated by the demagogues and bible thumping con artists at Turning Point USA or some other GOP grotesquery — I unburdened myself in a flight of angry absurdity:
Like I said, absurd. But also weird and random enough to make at least one follower uneasy:
So what could I say? How could I reply to an expression of concern from the Twittersphere? It took only a second or two for me to decide. Though I huff and puff a lot about speaking truth to power, it turns out that’s also how I deal with random strangers.
Poor NJ-Rob. Pretty sure this isn’t what he signed up for. Or you, either, I suppose. My tragic assumption, though, is that, as I whine about my own crisis, I’m also agonizing for the multitudes. May God help us all.
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