Through a sea of tissues and a hacking cough, I scan Netflix pressing that stubborn button on my Roku remote multiple times. I read the summations of shows for several minutes until I come across a documentary called, the 13th. Finally, I settle in. Resting is not an easy thing to do with that constant sense of urgency I live with.
I don’t know what’s worse these days: dragging through a pre-holiday week on the outpatient psychiatric unit on Dayquil; or listening to the radio talk about impending loss as the new cabinet of Trump supporters get selected.
A cross town slog into East Oakland after work on the unit one night last week revealed once again that the streets are ever-burgeoning with homeless, some of whom I know intimately. In each car encampment, I saw a distinctive cultural story that needs to be heard.
And so I’m hanging with my main man, Dan
Who can’t afford rent, dignity now inept,
Cause federal subsidy is a damn scam!
And we imagine shelterless street sultans
Rooting through boarding home shanties, stench swept
And so I’m hanging with my main man, Dan
He spoke to me the other night
That man there.
He was out with one of his buddies
Out under the decaying urban veranda,
The scent of spring blossoms
Trailing off to sleep
Against the ghetto dust
And gleaming skyline
Of business building core.
“She’s beautiful,” he whispered
Raising his chin to the window.
I held a bucket of grease
And spilled some on my sneakers
Nodding after him.
Belizaro’s old Ford pickup
Strained to cross the deep ruts
It has gauged into me,
Grinding its wheels
Across my soft black earth.
The truck coughed an echo
Against my silent countryside,
Carrying in it
An empty-hearted American boy
Who had come to see
My fields of working men.
Wheezing to a halt,
Its echo was replaced
By the steady:
Of swinging machetes
That remained submerged
In the tall stalked grass
That grows between the mango trees
And Belizaro’s sugar cane.
I can see you skittering through my soul.
I can see blood pulse through your kidney corpse.
Dripping live cells into some fertile hole
For upon human life your presence torques
Blood pressured fear. And the multitude
Abandon city and sleep on sheets clean.
You sit in your puddle of Raid and laugh
And will roll on your back in buoyant mood.
Though we may have killed you, our joy is lean
And your joy is our fear inspired staph.
Ever since I finally, at the age of forty-three, published some of my writing, I’ve found that I am particularly prone to pain again. Ever since, each morning I have woken up driven to find ways to get people to read my book.
A year and a month later, I have primarily had to pay people to check out my work. There are those who accepted the free book without giving it a read, let alone write promised reviews. Sure the memoir itself has collected two awards and primarily five star reviews, but amid the boom of self-published authors I find myself more hurt by the silent echo, than grateful to the friends who have read, and not balked.
After a tough week, I find this pain expounding itself through every facet of my consciousness. I am out walking with my wife and I think about how psychiatrists have hustled me through explanation of my psychotherapy; about the numerous presentations I have provided that ended up empty; about leaders of the psychiatric survivors movement who promote those with less experience; about the presentation when I had people finally laughing and listening to me, and the smoke bomb that forced evacuation. There were past company owners who hired me, ignored statistics as I worked sixty hour weeks and demoted me . . .
“I finally understand what a person with a mental illness feels like,lives like, and how he fights for his sanity and his life every single day . . .This book has compassion, passion, understanding, and a force of will that will allow any person to become better and make peace with themselves. Great job.”
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
“[Clyde’s] story is fascinating because he is able to intellectualize what he was thinking and feeling at the time, even if he is discussing his paranoid delusional thoughts . . . As someone with a Master’s of Science degree in a counseling field, I have found my greatest lessons have been from real people and not material in textbooks. As I read Clyde’s story, I felt like I learned many lessons through what he has to share. My work will definitely be more beneficial by what I learned from him.”
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/15)
“An intensely personal and impressively well written memoir, “Fighting for Freedom in America: Memoir of a ‘Schizophrenia’ and Mainstream Cultural Delusions” is a compelling read from beginning to end.”
Reviewed by Midwest Book Review
“Much has been written on the subject of schizophrenia with as many paths to recovery as there are individuals affected by it, but Dee’s work is most notable for his candid reflections on cultural delusions. Clearly articulating the loss of faculties that make us what we are, they prove intrinsic to the telling of his story. More importantly they provide an often harrowing perspective on the anguish of mental illness from the inside and in doing so allow Dee to address commonly held beliefs and prejudices.”
Reviewed by Book Viral Spotlight
“Clyde Dee takes us on a heroes journey from condemnation to redemption, from diagnosis to self-definition. Seen through a filter of race, culture and often patriotism, Clyde Dee reminds us how fragile our human existence can be. . .” Reviewed by Cardum Harmon, Executive Director of Heart and Soul in San Mateo County
Reviewed by Niki’s book review