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UFO hover in backyard. You can see the top edge of the fence at bottom.

About 6 months ago a buddy of mine told me about the UFO that was hovering above his neighbor's back yard. He had been asleep on the couch and woke up suddenly around 2 AM needing to take a leak. Because his water had been cut off he headed to the backyard to do it and as he opened the door, he told me, there began a pulsing vibration that reverberated throughout the house and inside his body. He was frightened but compelled to go outside. The UFO was telling him to match the vibration as best he could.

Driven by this command he pulled the lawnmower from his toolshed and started it up. He pushed the mower furiously up and down the sloping turf, eyes fixed on the lights in the sky. The next thing he knew he was waking up in city jail.

He had been naked and humming loudly to the aliens when he was found by police. The mower had run out of gas, so he was matching the vibration with his voice.

Jim had neglected to refill his medicines.

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After a week long psych hold Jim was released to his family and to the care of his longtime doctor. Within another week he was back to a stable baseline. No more hallucinations, no more rage or ranting. No more vibrations. Jim suffers from schizophrenia precipitated by severe PTSD. He is a 15 year veteran of the US Army and had 3 tours in Iraq.

Keeping Jim out of jail and on his meds has been the constant source of worry among his family and friends. When Jim is maintaining his regimen he's the sweetest guy. Intelligent and caring with a wry sense of humor, Jim is one of the lucky ones for whom medication has few apparent side effects. He doesn't gain weight nor does he suffer any neurological symptoms often associated with antipsychotics. His hallucinations and repetitive dreaming about war are kept almost completely at bay. He doesn't have the urge to drink.

Like so may others battling this type of mental illness, however, his compliance seems to runs in cycles. He's "feeling so much better" and "on top of the world". His meds are only clouding his feelings, he doesn't need them anymore. So, it's often on his best and brightest days, the triple home runs of perfect life, that he begins the shift from doing well to red alert. The changes are unpredictable and sometimes result in dangerous outcomes a week or two weeks later, ushering in continuous rounds of grief to friends and family.

Dead cardinal.

Late last week another buddy called me to say Jim was behaving strangely again. Jim had called him to say he found a dead cardinal in the yard and was concerned because there should be no cardinals here in Austin this time of year. This is not true, cardinals do not migrate and can be found in the brushy edge of the Texas Hill Country all year round, huddling against the cold in thickets and dense evergreens. Jim did not believe this. The internet was wrong. Jim was convinced that his neighbor (the same one whose UFO had conspired against him) had brought the cardinal back from a recent trip to Mexico to send him a "message".

This time no one waited for him to stop answering his phone and emails, let alone get himself arrested. His mother convinced him to see his doctor on the pretense of refilling a long since discontinued prescription for Xanax. It was his love and desire for this medication that set the stage for a 30 day stay in a private facility. His doctor was prepared and within two hours had convinced Jim he needed help. Soon was on his way in an ambulance, voluntarily.

Jim is fortunate to have private insurance paid for by his parents. Many veterans have only TriCare and the overtaxed VA system to rely on. Too often that translates into county jail or state prison.


Jim texted me yesterday, and included this picture from a fortune cookie.
"I don't need conspiracy and paranoia when Life is a Verb, man.
Here is to hoping his next cycles are longer and longer still.


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