What its like to be persecuted (plus a little crazy).

I was on a solitary bike ride toward the road up Mt. Greylock, in the North West corner of Massachusetts. As I made my way along the rather boring route 22 in New York State, I found a side road with a walking trail. I locked up my bike, went on a walk.
“THEY don’t know where I am right now” I said to myself. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I knew that when I came back to the road, they would catch up and the weight of troubles would settle right back. But for a moment, I almost felt like a normal human being.

Being persecuted for the long term changes you. You feel dull and depressed constantly. And tense. You don’t even notice the tension after a while, but its there.
I got back on the road. A car with young men came by me. They shouted something. One reached out to knock me over. He missed by an inch. I kept going.
I spent the night at a bed and breakfast. The next day I rode into Massachusetts, rested by the side of the road, and then cycled up the rest of the 3400 feet to the top of Greylock.Greylock

In the lodge at the top  of the mountain, I started chatting with the woman behind the desk, and then a man walked in. He saw that the woman and I were quite friendly, and he gave both of us a contemptuous look. He looked at me. “This man knows me!” I thought. He reached into his pocket. I turned, and a wave of fine dust hit my face. “He’s one of THEM!”  I thought  “and I’ve been drugged!”. I walked quickly to my room, wondering what  the effect of the drug would be.  Soon I had the urge to talk aloud. I couldn’t stop. The thoughts came out like a stream of consciousness, at top volume. Outside my window a couple was getting a tour. Their guide and the couple stared at my window. The guide looked sick, which was not surprising as I was repeating some curse words that had been directed by “bad guys” at a woman I had known.
I told myself to shut up, but it was hard to shut up.  It was as if I was on a drug.  I certainly appeared to be a lunatic.

The next day I headed down the hill in the very early morning, hoping that the “bad guys” hadn’t put a thin rope across the road to interrupt my descent with a flying dive into the asphalt. They hadn’t.
Anyone reading this will recognize pure paranoia. That would be understandable, but it would be a misdiagnosis.

When you are in a real situation, where you have enemies that don’t make life easy by identifying themselves, you can easily become paranoid.

Imagine this (fictional) situation. You have robbed a bank, and the robbery went wrong. Maybe the mask slipped, or the getaway car crashed. You have taken off, and managed to get a thousand miles away, to a quiet road in a rural state, before your money ran out. As you walk, wondering what to do, a lone car appears in the distance.

lonePoliceAs it approaches, you see its a police car. You say to yourself – “The games up!” and you consider running into the adjacent field. The police car reaches you, and the policeman waves. All of a sudden you realize that the game is not up after all.
So the advice I give myself, is that whenever an experience is at all ambiguous, to dismiss it. There is enough bad reality going on, in the world, and in my life, that I don’t have to believe bad fiction.
My experiences would fill a book, but I’ll mention a few here:
My saga started in high school, when I had some sort of depressive illness. There was a fatigue that was worst in the morning, and frozen fingers, and an lack of willpower. I did sickening things, and ended up the butt of jokes, and even was called a “filthy Arab” by one of the students (I’m Jewish).
I’ve had people express serious disgust and animosity in the many years following, but people should realize that being out of control is no fun.  If you are so lacking in self-discipline that you eat so much food that you feel sick, and you repeat this every day, you are more to be pitied than despised.  If you shame yourself with sexual compulsions to such an extent that you feel your body burning up in tension as you sit in class – you really should not be self-destructing in school at all, you should be in front of a psychiatrist, hopefully one willing to experiment with drugs.  Interestingly, one of the medications tried on me for my bulimia was an anti-depressant, but that came years later.

I’d say to those people  who have expressed understandable contempt sporadically over more than three decades, that participating in the humiliation of a person who has been through the wringer, while simultaneously ignoring the very nasty and disgusting events that go on in the world, is a deviation from reality.

I live in two universes. There is the universe of my brothers and parents, who don’t believe anything untoward has happened, apart from having a son/sibling who has been crazy for 35 years of his almost 60 years of life, and shows no sign of ever getting cured.

Therefore much of my life I talk (with them) about normal topics (such as computer issues, or politics, or the bargain on cherries at Stop n’ Shop). That is strange too, its as if I’m on the Titanic, discussing my favorite song as the iceberg cracks a hole in the hull.

Anyway, in graduate school my regrettable propensity to disgusting behavior was set off again, this time by a very pretty young woman who looked my way. I won’t go into the details, but this time my behavior was recorded for posterity on video, probably by a fellow student in my dorm.
The video resonated, and became quite popular, and some very unkind people made some very hurtful comments – enough to consist a micro-aggression tsunami in the very least. That they weren’t politically correct didn’t seem to bother them though.

In such a situation the target (me) starts pushing back. I tried to rehearse arguments against these people, and would go through the landscape, sometimes talking aloud as I thought of replies. Of course trying to defend disgusting behavior is not what I wanted to be doing.
So life wasn’t good.
I tried writing to the woman whose pretty face had destroyed the city of Troy (actually, it did nothing to Troy, though it ended doing something to me).  I was asking her help vs the video.  My parents found out about this and consigned me to a mental hospital. That was an unpleasant experience – I’m a person who likes to move, and I was confined to a small ward, forced to take huge quantities of Thorazine, plus ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and on top of that, my parents convinced the psychiatrist that I was an anorexic, so I was given the choice of being locked up in extremely small glass room, or eating huge protein shakes along with the meals.
After two months of this, I used the payphone, called a relative of mine who is a psychiatrist, and he said “You don’t belong there, I’ll get you out!” And he did.  But now, I had a stay in a mental hospital permanently in my record.  My appearance had also changed somewhat for the worse in the hospital, due to all the overfeeding combined with drugs.

Being incorrigible, when the movie struck again, this time in New Haven, CT, I went again into self-defense mode.  I started putting posters up in the various spots that the town and campus had for that purpose. In them, I tried to defend myself against the movie. To my dismay I noticed that a local Chinese restaurateur covered my posters with his own. I guess to him making a living was at least as urgent as my problems were to me, certainly more urgent than preserving some anonymous crazy poster about a movie (assuming he could read English).

YalePosters
Yale.  One of my posters would have been on that wall.

I decided that my posters were not getting anywhere, so I crossed over into the slightly illegal world.  I invaded the college library, and put my posters on the books of people who were away for whatever reason (maybe they had stepped away to find a book, or go to the bathroom). I invaded some of the professor’s offices, and put posters on their desks.  I can imagine the reaction – some peaceful professor goes to prepare for a lecture and realizes a possibly dangerous lunatic has visited his desk.  In retrospect, I was an obsessed nuisance, and a fool.
But, my goal was to start a discussion. And judging from the dramatic comments I ran into, I succeeded.
Unfortunately, I also attracted attention from criminals.

The criminals devised their plan, and executed it. As the days and weeks went on, I started feeling sick. And stranger yet, my brain was changing.  My sex drive was elevated to huge heights (or depths, if you prefer). This reminded me of my past, and I hated it.  Feelings, thoughts, dreams – all were affected.  It was a very unpleasant experience. As the year went on, it just got worse and worse.

Finally, I had the idea of changing my lifestyle. I thought that instead of eating at home, I would bicycle from work into the nearby hills, after first buying some sardines and yogurt and fruit at the local supermarket. So I did that for several days, and all the symptoms cleared up. I did not understand why they cleared up, or why I had them in the first place, but I was overjoyed.
Then one day, I bought a bottle of spring water, drank some of it, and put in my refrigerator. I read a newspaper, and phoned my parents, and went to sleep.
That night someone came into my apartment. He headed for my refrigerator. He put a soluble powder (or drops of a liquid) into the bottle I had bought. Then he left.
The next morning, I rose, eager to go to work (my job was interesting) but first I made the mistake of drinking the rest of the spring water.
Immediately I felt very, very sick. I felt like punching the walls. But the strangest and most revealing feeling was that my sex drive rose, and rose, and rose. Now, I finally understood what had been happening all year. I finally understood why my handsome looks had faded that year, why I had all that sexual imagery tormenting me for the past 12 months, and why I had felt so sick for so long.
I staggered down Whalley Avenue toward work. My brain was a mess of raging urges. I stopped in a market, and was shocked how all the staid, middle aged housewives doing their shopping looked like seductresses. I reached my office, but I could not work. I took leave, and as I took the train to my parent’s town, I noticed my kidney area felt as if a huge number of little items had landed and attached themselves.
The symptoms did not subside in 24 hours. They subsided in about two weeks. Many people, I am convinced, would have changed their behavior in those two weeks.  They would have succumbed to the very dramatic urge amplification. I think I know what saved me – partly having already been so completely without willpower for years, I had finally developed ways of coping and a fierce desire not to be back in the swamp. I also went to a psychiatrist and asked for some kind of mood stabilizer, and he gave me Zyprexa, which also helped.

If you were in the mood to humor me, you might ask “why” at this point.  If a criminal wanted to target me, why didn’t they shoot me on a dark night?  What is the purpose, as one woman mentioned in my presence, of “sexually compromising him”?  Why, as another woman said in my presence, should, indeed must, “he be kept down!”  For this to make any sense, there must be a big chunk of my story that is missing, in the very least.

In the years that followed I have seen (and felt) a very morally defective subclass of people that pass as normal, and can look and act normal. But when the mask drops – there is something frightening beneath.

But the good news is that I have met people who treated me with a friendliness and warmth that surprised me in a different way. I am a fairly dried-up individual inside – I can’t feel positive about my life, I feel persecuted, and I carry a huge weight on my (mental) shoulders. But to see how genuinely nice some total strangers have been, is a revelation too.

It may be obvious, but I was still surprised to find that for a person to be frightening and powerful and effective and evil, he does not have to be seven foot tall. Evil comes in both genders, and in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and races. So does good.

But here is my point about paranoia. I firmly believe that the bad guys can spray people from close up with drugs that have been made into an aerosol or a fine powder. In fact, there is proof of that in one case, you can google the drug Scopolamine, which you will find is used by criminals, and sprayed at people.

I also believe that the bad guys ran with the technology, developing new types of drugs, and new ways to deliver them. As far as delivering them to victims, victims can be sprayed from a car, or in a crowd, or on a train.  And victims can absorb drugs (like other chemicals) by contact as well.

Now obviously, if I believe that, I will be in a constant state of paranoia, even if the Mob takes a winter break for a month and goes to Hawaii to surf. While they are walking on the beach, I am here, looking over my shoulder in the cold Northeast, and if a car passes and a wave of dust hits my face, I will wonder if I have been hit. If a wave of droplets enters my mouth, I will likewise wonder if something has happened. If I take a nap in a deserted room in a library, and I wake up and there is strong perfume of a rather obnoxious variety around me, I will wonder as well.

But as I said, there is more than enough incontrovertible evidence so that I can dismiss all these experiences, and still have enough remaining to be convinced that my parallel world is the real one. My life has been derailed, my world has shrunk (physically I cannot travel more than 30 miles without running into eventual inevitable reprisals) and my career cannot of course go on under the circumstances.

The joke’s on me. But the joke’s on everyone else too. Consider this. If drugs can be sprayed at me, they can be sprayed at you. The drugs include
1. drugs that amplify urges
2. drugs that put you to sleep
3. drugs that put you into a daze
4. drugs that cause serious heart pains and damage that takes days to recover from (you never fully recover).
5. drugs that make you talk.
6. a drug that gives you such a headache that you will ignore your surroundings, or misunderstand them.

You can be hit with these, and not know what hit you. You will put it down to accident, or disease, or the inexplicable bad luck that happens to people.
Of course you could be correct that no drugs, no foul play is involved.  There is no way to know, which makes it all the more creepy.

In other words, what I’m saying is because the bad guys wanted me to know what was going on, I do know some of the tip of the nasty iceberg out there, but many of you may be attacked, and you will not even know that you were attacked.

In some ways I am saner than most people. I know the temptation of paranoid thinking. I know what it is like to jump to unwarranted conclusions.  So I know what to avoid.  There have been times when I’ve been demonstrably wrong, and I’ve learned from those times.  But I also know not to shy away from radical conclusions, when  they are warranted.
The joke is on all of us, unfortunately.

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