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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Syndrome

I found out by accident. I hadn't known, or even suspected he had it, until I saw a TV show about it. Then I researched it online, and the symptoms fit him to a T. I first heard about it a few years ago, in a discussion online about the late Syd Barrett. It was suspected he had it too, but I say he didn't. I still say his symptoms pointed to a kind of schizophrenia exacerbated by heavy psychedelic drug use. Syd's problems took hold when schizophrenia usually does, in his early 20s. The *other* problem is present since early childhood. Of course Syd's sister denies he had *any* issues, but that is typical of a close family member, always denying there is a problem. Unless it really hurts you. Then you know there is something terribly wrong, but no one believes you. Especially when there is no name for it at that time.

I believed me. I always knew there was a problem, but never knew what it was. I wanted to be a psychologist when I was young...as an alternative to an artist. I considered it, but I wasn't very good at sciences and really didn't like studying that much. And anyway, people said that those who become psychologists are just trying to make sense of their own messed up past. Well, I guess that's true, at least it was in my case.

---

Last year, a friend who I hadn't talked to for many years asked me just what was it about him after all this time that still bothers me so? Still at a loss for words, or diagnosis, I told her in the only way I knew how: "He is a very different person from me." Extremely different. I am so glad he is extremely different from me, and that would explain so much...our fighting, our inability to get along, his non-compassion, non-empathy, rigid, immobile, unspontaneous conservativeness, a textbook case for his condition. It also relieves me so, because I know then that *I* don't have it myself, something that did worry me. After all, I do cut tags out of my clothes, and I do really get into subjects that I'm interested in and am able to concentrate very well on them. But fortunately, that's where the similarity ends. I'm not big on nerdy subjects. I only took two semesters of high school math and then stopped. I couldn't test out of any math credits for college, so I took the required math course ("math for humanities majors" as I dubbed it). Yes, I did well in math, but I didn't see the point in continuing. Had I had the *syndrome*, I probably would've continued through Calculus. I also read people really well and am good at picking up on facial expressions. I want to be touched and wanted, and I love to be with my friends, and love doing things that are totally unplanned on the spur of the moment. I'm also concerned about looking good when I go out in public. I had to make an emergency run to the store today for some Coca Cola because Price Charming had an upset stomach. But not before I brushed my hair and put on some eyebrow darkener and lipstick. If I had *the condition*, I certainly wouldn't have taken those steps because I wouldn't have a perception of self and how I appear to others. If I had *the syndrome*, I wouldn't have fought so much with him because we would've understood eachother. As it is, he can't understand me and my "normal" (although not normal in a typical suburban soccer mom sort of way) lifestyle, and I can't understand his lifestyle of emptiness, nothingness, self-denial, self-righteousness, rigidity, piety, etc.

I took a test online the other day. It confirmed I do not have it. But what is an online test, anyway? That's no better an indicator than someone without a clinical background diagnosing someone with a certain condition, which is what I'm doing. But what is a psychiatrist anyway? They diagnose a patient who they see for a few hours, but they've never lived with that person. They've never had any deep emotional pain caused to them from that person. What would make them know anymore than someone who's felt that pain, and who's taken time to research the condition?

At least I can put a name on it now. After 45 years, I finally have an answer. Of course The Queen of Denial isn't saying much. I present her with the information, and she says it sounds interesting, but she hasn't had time to look it up. Whatever, Cleopatra. Cleopatra has been a super enabler to his condition. Sure she gets very infuriated with him and mad at him, and she says he's getting worse. But if she was serious about not being a co-dependent, she would've left him ages ago--my childhood fantasy.

---

The thing is, I'm not mad at him anymore. I realize there is a problem and it now has a name and I'm not the only person in history who has had to deal with this sort of thing. I used to feel so alone, as do others in my situation, and I wished he was an alcoholic instead because at least then I'd be in the company of millions. But now I know he can't help it. And he doesn't do things to be mean, it's just that he can't see the world in the way so-called normal-functioning people see the world. I'm not angry at *him*. But I'm still angry.

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