Exposure

Memoirists are  often held up to harsh light. The needle-prodding into what is truth, what is your truth, what is the one and only truth?   And what are our memories but perceptions? I am going to trust my language, trust my memory that abides more by flashbacks in body and cognition. I can tell you I will honor my suffering, I will trust that what I went through is worth writing about and I only know that because it has kept me awake at night for over fifteen years. My mind is wired against what is expected of nonfiction writers, so I will tell my story as I have seen it and felt it, in a sort of peripheral blur of cognitive, emotional, and physiological flashbacks, along with so many moments of clarity that I could never outrun. I know what happened happened, because my body remembers it the way you might remember the feeling of water holding your body up in the ocean, the way your grandmother’s arthritic fingers traced circles on your hand and back when you were young and maybe afraid; the way rain smells on the street and the vision of those drops on the blooms by the back door where you retrieve your newspaper and Spring fills you and in that moment–you may have missed it–but you were existing between two spheres, coexisting in the memory of the fragrance of lilacs in rain in May  while simultaneously putting your body in the present moment of something new.

That is how I work–I am between those spaces yet in both at the same time, so that part of me steps back and watches on the fringe, curious.

Like the time I smelled ici perfume at Macy’s about ten years ago and it pleasured my sense of smell while at the same time triggered an old emotional state and fear response because I suddenly was aware that I had been wearing that perfume on the Sunday afternoon after church when my stepfather told me he didn’t see me as his real daughter but rather as an object of desire he would try to control himself around. Read More

Voices and Comfort

I can’t open up to my psychologist yet.  I realized this when I finally took a breath after weeks of relentless cycles of giddiness and tears and I knew it wasn’t medical or needing a check.  No.  It does this; when something bothers me–in my heart and who and where I am–it manifests in my body until the truth hits.  I cried and let it all out to my grams.  I told her all my secrets NO ONE KNOWS.  And she told me I was still so sweet.  That I had to be better to myself, that I would figure it out–because I always have.  And I sat for awhile in the silence in the dark and let my mind finally rest.  Finally.  And it hit me.  The time here lately has been a progression of the positive–I am changing.  And my “epiphany” was to make a change.  I am going back to school with my writing/soc/psych and I am going to teach art therapy/trauma writing to women and children of trauma (Vets w/ PTSD would be amazing).  I told my grams “I feel so big inside–whole worlds are opening up in me–but my outer life is so small…” And this decision to finish school and USE WHAT I HAVE BEEN THROUGH TO HELP OTHERS GET THROUGH IT.  I know I’ll do it like I know I’m getting better–a well-known FACT.

I wish I could talk to my psychologist, Allison, like this.  After all that’s why I am seeing her.  I had a sort of assignment because I busy myself so much because I am trying to find purpose in my days, and we started talking about the voices I have heard.  THe challenge is to try to listen to them, and to not fear them–see what they say.  And somehow, last night (I’ve sought out the old woman and small boy that talked in my head and i can’t find them) so last night I stopped thinking, I just listened.  Listened to the heat click and kick in, my breath, Emma’s sighs from sleep in the other room…until I noticed a relaxing familiar hum coming beneath the real world, and the hum is what’s really real.  A woman was talking, she didn’t sound old.  I kept listening and tried so hard to remember what she was saying for later but i knew if I did try I’d lose it, so I just listened.  And it at first sounded like my older sister Nikki talking about the television or something, But the voice came closer, and more clear and I knew who was talking in my head to the others–it was me.  ME.  And I remember I said something about finding something and I had it the whole time.  I don’t understand but I don’t think what she/I said was of any importance.  But it was me.  My voice.

WHAT THE FUCK

But I am not afraid–I am utterly curious.  The mind fascinates me.

Thanks Grams, for sorting out my tired head, you in your yellow floral sweater you used to wear with the embroidered collar on it.  I miss you.  I love you.  Sorry I haven’t talked to you out loud since I was in the mental ward, but I know you see into me–you see me getting better.   Rest in Peace.

Dolores Gurske (Aug 2008) with my girl, Emma at Flying Eagle camping resort–she knew from the beginning that Emma was going to be hilarious, and one hell of a little kid.  The way she looked at her.

Dolores Gurske with my Emma at Flying Eagle Resort
Dolores Gurske with my Emma at Flying Eagle Resort

EB-125

published Summer 2016 in Open Minds Quarterly

 

EB-125

 

I think I’m seeing white birds

white birds scattering away

from my window, out there

in the cold January, their wings

sound, from here, like sheets–

my grandmother’s white sheets–

on the line in June.
The light coming in is white.

Color? Or space?

Like the space we can never fill.

Like the start of a narrative.

Like the blank walls,

these hospital rooms cemented

in their smoggy halo.
I’m crouched over a puce tray,

surrounded by the others in halogens, others

that have found strange caverns to fill in

strange tongues native to disorder, asking me Read More

Curious Things

Readers I Have Questions,

I see my psychologist friday but I wanted your insights. Aside from a lot of dissociating (not severe) and hearing voices when I am stressed out, I want to talk about something that has been going on for a very long time–and it's getting stronger and stronger and happening more often: When I am falling asleep I see people in my room and I can feel that they're there, and sometimes I look for them after I'm awake. When I am waking up I see them and I feel that they're there but oonce I'm totally awake they're gone. Sometimes I wake myself up talking to them. Any ideas? Curious….

The Center’s Keep

The Center’s Keep

There are slights–these subtle moments,
in between–that I forget I’m looking for.
There’s no perfume or intention to stumble me
but, if my head’s quiet enough, I see that
inside the folds of my many faces there’s an
opening. I know it’s legit if the “we” turns to “I”
and the disaster of compulsions falls to a floor
and I’m left without all my chemistry clogging
the way
And for a brief moment
my head ends
and I begin
and for the sweetest moment
I am my center.
It’s enough to get me by
as I try try to hold the gravity
yet once I seek what keeps me
I lose.

(taken from http://bordersofthepersonality.wordpress.com)

Copyright2011AmySprague

Orbiting

I would have preferred a monk
and maybe a lifetime of discipline
over the pace I chose to find some way,
collecting my hospital bracelets
from the bin as if they were
peace treaties to some god.
They say the ego is the last to go;
even the broken ones
seem to think they have something worth
holding onto.
But once mine did I spent a year in a cave,
afraid and starved, trying to fight for that
last little part of me that liked to slip away
and send me off into the air.
The revolutions of seasons finally ended
and I found myself in some kind of light–
someone must’ve mentioned something
about grace, something about balance: no mind.
I wanted No Mind, that traitor.
And because there was nothing left for me to do
I let go
and it became clear to me that gravity
could be seducing in its standards
and that maybe to fall away
from all that I knew
was really a falling forward–orbiting
past the dropped walls of the eartrh–
looking back to see myself–everyone–as mere
carnations
nothing wild but with complexities harnassed–
tamed; we had grown in our own beds in files
and as I drifted further into the void
I lost fear; I wasn’t afraid
to not be such a soft, pink thing
but an exasperation of molecules, a release
from the machinery of my chemistry
that I had made over this
peculiar life; and maybe
once I pass
the fear of losing who I am
or what I was
I can ground myself in a  plasma
of the stillness invading my mind
and I’ll finally go home
limitless, adrift, passionless,
pain as vague as air.

Panic

it sounds like a circus back there,
behind me where I can’t go, trapped
in my mute carnival
and I’m suddenly alone
in a huge wide world, a
spinning playground and the people
are paper cut-outs with empty expressions
and painted souls like balloons;
there is no love in this place

Flat Affect

there is a piece I lost
a great, big piece I lost
and I don’t know where I am.
I slipped away once upon…
I stole inside where touch and sight
could never reach me.
It was, truly, a brilliant escape
but it had a high cost
I can’t suffer the balance.
There is a piece I had to give
I don’t know which or how
but there is a piece I lost
and I spend all my time
searching for it
and that’s what makes me
tired.
So tired that I forget where I am
and all the other pieces
keep crashing into each other,
losing their places,
looking at me,
waiting for me to fill the space.

the panic of peace

scattered prose

LISTEN & READ: 05 – 4am

 The Panic of Peace

Flat affect.  What a depersonalized symptom to give the hider.  Yes, let’s play, you seek.  You seek out your DSM and professional books among the cranberry-colored spines with gold writing, or solid, knowing, black fonts.  And inside pours out six.  Six disorders I have because I fit the criteria like a glove.  I was better off not knowing. Yet it was something, a list, I could point to, aim the finger away from me.   I wanted to say “of course I have flat affect, I’m fucking stunned that somebody with six disorders can hardly be funny anymore.”  No I’m not dissociating at these times.  I’m very real when I am angry or crossed or hurt or doubted.  It’s when I’m scared or set by a sound or smell or the mind spins manically in and out over itself, that I calm down to dissociate, where I sit so terrified that they say “flat affect” and I’m so scared I don’t know what’s on my face.  I dissociate when I panic that I am calm.  That’s how messed up this body is.  I’ve stowed away inside again, that’s what we do, us big kids.  We’re an army– an army given cheap guns, yet known to be armed to the teeth with devices that a soul shall never ever pass, and they never will.  Security lock down—it’s a brilliant defense, this dissociation, but it comes back for ya.  You have to pay for it. It comes back when you’re almost thirty and thinking about a diet and reading the classics and going to school to become to become to become.  And then, wham, shot down.  It’s the early-on, unknowing that is most terrifying.  I was sure I fucked myself up beyond repair, that back in the day, I’d done some irreparable damage and I was going to die.  I saw death.  I breathed my grandmother’s name and practically ran to mental health holding my head, to stop the black images popping up with red eyes.  To catch my short breath, and the taste in my mouth…it was coming…the flashback.  Blindfolds, blood, and sex.  I’m a five year-old in heels, smashing my makeup on the ground, crying in the corner, banging on the locked yellow door.

So that’s the beginning, or shall I say, my first day, of PTSD.  Drove my ass right to the bin.  It was my first time but I always figured that I’d show up there some day.  I don’t know why.  I’m not one to prod my weird thoughts.  That’s asking for mayhem.  They shot me in the ass with meds and I cried all night and day after day.  I remember thinking that this was it, that it wasn’t so bad, they’d fix me of course, and I’d never be back again.  That was the baby version of PTSD, when the “psychotic episodes” or flashbacks were so minute they barely counted and I always came out of it squeaky clean, like it was a bad, dirty dream.  Soon, after my stay there, these “episodes” began to creep into my mornings, I started dissociating more when the panic rose when triggers were set off, my legs went numb, I tasted rubber in my mouth.  The flashbacks or episodes were lasting forever, on and off, at a moment’s notice.  Strange, scared thoughts and ideas whipped me around on a fucking roller coaster and flung me out of its seats at the peak of the ride.  Nothing was real.  I called to my fiancé who seemed like an oil painting and we were all dissolving and he’d never reach me.  “Talk me down.  Help me.  Talk to me.”  I’d demand with my voice in total control.  I couldn’t let anyone see that helpless chaos on my face.  It was like seeing your own death.  Yet you believe death would be easier.  You don’t trust yourself in the tub with the pretty pink razor.  What?! You’re screaming what to yourself because now the suicidal thoughts listed in the “DSM” are scrolling off the page and into your ears.  Oh shit.  The book.  The stigma.  You think as you sink “I’m one of them”.  Depersonalization disorder, dissociative amnesia, panic disorder, PTSD…there’s one more (besides the bipolar) but I can’t remember.  At this brief interjection of a strange paragraph I’d like to say “Gee, thanks.  Thank you step-father.  I have seen the light; the dark; and now I can’t see anything but exist as this open wound because of your own tormented soul.  Thank you for the lesson, thanks for not beating this one into me.  My flesh could’ve handled it better than my head, but could you have known?” 

Anyways, death.  Death.  But what’s left?  It got worse.  They couldn’t help me.  I was seeing things, feeling things, things were lost, demanding their recapture, and I couldn’t see them.  I’m five years old, sitting in the crook of my fiancé’s arm, with flat affect.

What the printed, sacred documents of the doc’s don’t tell you is that there is something very key to survival…as they end their chapters in comorbidity and the morbid–suicide rates.  They fail to mention the elements of two things that will save you: hope and love.  Now why would a book about the mind involve such artificial, baseless tones to their story?  You gotta figure it out for yourself, because each persons’ fate is different.  These two elements cannot be captured, their purpose lays in secrecy as they fill us all with blessing.  Hope is that last shred of light you see; it’s that part of your brain that drives you to the hospital for help, instead of into the tub.  Hope makes you wake up and face another day, giving you clues and signs everywhere that there is more, so much more…to life.  And in those signs beams love.  The love of the fiancé who holds you to his chest and waits for you to get better, knowing more than you do that you’re going to make it.  The love of the mother who doesn’t even have to speak, but sits at your side until your episode is over and you can look her in the eye with gravity.  The love of the sisters, who allow you to wail out your fear and struggle through your belief that there is no future, just nothingness and death.  They cry too, and you feel love because you’re not breaking alone.  And the love of a friend, a long-ago best friend—agent of dreams—who tells you as you sit back in the bin again that you’re not alone, she said “tell her I am with her.”  And she was.  This intricate web of hope and love has shown me something not many people get to see—just how undeniably soulful it is to have each other, and to love each other—unconditionally.  There is a greater purpose that must be so simple we can’t see it, but sometimes get a taste of it.  It’s so simple that your heart becomes light and made of pink love that streams through your blessed body that heals; it’s so simple that the mind can find a moment where it is at rest and calm and knows peace.  It can’t really be written—the love I’ve seen.