Science of Change

Mental Illness has taught me maybe a few things about grander schemes in life. Just a few. Like on my bike ride to Allison this morning and I’ve been mulling it over for a while but never worded it—there is not an end to everything. Anything. I was thinking of this because I was thinking about how I have always pushed and pushed myself to just “get better” and to make it go away and cure myself, heal, recover, that the hell would end. But the thing is “recovery” is a sinful word. Because it implies getting back what you lost. You never do. What is lost is gone, irrevocable CHANGE. But it’s like evolution. You change. You change, change, change—good or bad, your choice. Like the springs that shot from that embodiment of the death–that piece you lost– are now fueled with a new strategy, protons and neutrons and whatever-the-hell-have-you imploding your neuroplasticity, and you wake up, and one day you just know, chemically in your soul—the science of your heart–that you are of some kind of substance. So many things that kept you transparent, floating about as a million different selves, had ruptured, and made you sick. Made you mad. Made you hide from the world out of fear that you were dying, when really parts of you were. A midnight bloom. Jacynth. And like I said, you wake up, and you actually look down at your hands, your forearms, your thighs, to your words, to your feelings, to your thoughts and reactions—and they are there, you can actually feel these things as you–as your own. Your own—like living in a world where you were owned and almost destroyed by others—yourself, your one God given right, was never given to you. And one day, after what so many faiths and poets call the darkness—you emerge not in grandeur and answers, but in your own skin, under your say, your command, your voice. “I AM THE CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP, THE MASTER OF MY SOUL.” Walt Whitman wrote something like that.
And this realization has proven wrong to me another theory of mine. Are we invincible if we are good or bad? Is there such a thing as bad and good?
We don’t recover; we do not heal because healing implies “better,” we change, and that direction is partially choice and partially what our mental capabilities will. The “soul” is not either good or bad, and neither is the body, but they are both amazing, and they are both beyond our comprehension, but they can also both be toxic, and they are not friends. But merging a mind of logic and skill and emotion and function with the destruction of its parts to the mending or altering of its parts (the uhhh fall-out of your, well, death in a way—a nuclear sub-atomic-spiritual-soul-against-the-sweating-wall-poetic-flim-flam-waste-of-a-dying-star)—change as far as we have seen has purpose, and brighter and darker things can come of it. Do come of it.

My Yellowed Reminder, The Bell Jar

FB_IMG_1425902949292_edited“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.”

“but when I t came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defenseless that I couldn’t do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get.” bell jar

So I have three copies of The Bell Jar.  Well I only need two–because one of them I still can’t bring myself to look at.  But I refuse to let it go.  It means too much.  When I do look at it I feel that old familiar feeling of dread, the bad kind, the kind that is a glimpse of what you know inevitably is 1111111111112wedfcoming.  I was in high school when it became really strong.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew something was mentally off with me around sixth grade, and had cried and worried so much about it in private by then that I had become accustomed to that level of panic.

…until I got a copy of Plath’s The Bell Jar.  An old yellow one with browning pages.  The bold, curly letters in the title.  Her gnarled name–the woman who didn’t make it.  And she was me.  She was so much like me.  Or IS.  I couldn’t read as I read it in class after class.  I was nauseous but unafraid.  When you know something is going to happen to you that cannot be helped, you somehow brace yourself for more pain, and the fear becomes a numb root in your gut.  And these roots had taken their initial digs years ago, and yet I felt too mildly mad at this time of The Bell Jar reading, that I dared myself to continue and explore what felt like a schizoid terror.

I read and read and read, ill and beyond uncomfortable.  My head fell asleep like a limb, and I couldn’t shake it out.  My friends looked different, they talked different.  I was suffocating.  And I learned only later why Sylvia named it The Bell Jar.  Because that’s what I was in–and it was what I remained in for over a decade after until I broke it.  I decimated the mother fucker.  But it took years away from me…  Years away from my life.  I was dead.  I died.  And then it’s as if I had to just be let be for a few years, which came at a very high cost, but I did come back.  Well, no, you never come back.  Someone else does.  But it’s someone better.  Someone who knows that that rot is gone, it is over–I know that better than I know myself.  Okay, okay I’m sidetracking….

Toward the end of week two (back in high school now) I still hadn’t dared to explore my mind or question my “off-ness.”  I was terrified of it.  And looking back, it’s almost like I could see my future splayed out before me.  A rot.  Some of the parts in t 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….

Check Out Turtle Way: an Online Arts Journal on Mental Illness

I wanted to share with you all that I was fortunate enough to be published in Turtle Way, a literary art journal in support of those with mental illness.  My essay published in it (“The Silent Army”) can be found here.  Thanks, Turtle Way! The magazine is wonderful–real, raw emotion; a real glimpse into mental illness.  Well done.  (I’m quite taken with Bryan William Myers‘ poem “Unease“ and Doug Metz‘s “breakdown“–both taking my breath away, reminding me of those long days, those long, wretched nights, the dead dreams.  Beautiful.

Go Forward Already

Sometimes I wonder if even my writing about it all is another way, maybe healthier way, of dissociating from it. No. Because dissociation is a problem when we dissociate from our true selves, not circumstance or the bindings and abuses from others. The abuse, oddly, isn’t what’s been bothering me these past few …months? A year? It’s not my mother (I don’t think, because in spite of it all I love her deeply), it’s not my stepfather, it’s not the memories, its not the flashbacks or hypervigilence or the trauma from the psychosis itself. It’s ME.

I think I’ve come so far and then I wake up to rotten curtains on dirty windows and I want to see the snow coming down, yet it’s hard to get up–out of habit. I’ve let it all become HABIT. Not entirely but lots of it. I am afraid of myself most of the time. When I’m focused and rested and on top of the meds and in motion, then I feel like I’m on top of the world and I have it all, because I lost it all, and was given back something better. That’s so true.


When I feel my molecules start to scurry and ping off each other

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Paper Girl

Listen to Modest Mouse:

Well I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. I and my docs experimented with new meds, which involved getting off what had been lifelines for me for so long–abilify and seroquel. And we tried Latuda, which was amazing at first–got rid of my auditory hallucinations (yeah I hear a little girl crying CONSTANTLY throughout the day if I’m not medicated or “my time” is coming), but unfortunatley the amazing med made me sicker than a dog. I was a useless wreck, tapered off, then went somewhat crazed and terrified for lack of meds in my system, and now we’re trying Lamictal. I also had during this Bronchitis and a seriously infected tooth. Sure I’m complaining, but really I just wanted to tell you why I’ve been gone so long.

I am disappointed in my mental reaction to being off most, maybe all, my meds. The abilify was just about out of my system when I momentarily “cracked”, the Latuda I quit for three days to stop the nausea, and the Seroquel was well out of my system. My, I guess, “reaction” or “state” was extreme anxiety ( I was certain I was going to lose it again and be back in the bin), I thought flashbacks were coming liking a train and I was this amebic blog that was pissed that I hadn’t managed to develop my own, personal defenses and strategies strongly enough; I was sort of in that floating stage where nothing seems quite real,

where you’re on the ledge of a very big drop and vacancy into outer space, that godless place. I called all my favorite numbers and was, thankfully, able to reach my psychiatrist who was on call and he prescribed me some benzos (not my favorite things but they helped). I actually called the hotline, bawling like an idiot, and said I needed a shot of Abilify in the ass before it was too late. 🙂 Yes I said that. “Too late? For what? Are you going to hurt yourself? Are you in danger?” Ummmmmmmm…trying to figure that out when you’re off your rocker is a tough one. What if you feel like there’s this count down happening in your system and at zero you’re going to lose total control and you may hurt yourself or worse, someone around you. Yet you always get like that when it’s bad, and you never hit zero. Ever. Must just be a fear. But how can you not be scared when you hear crying and you run for the door, thinking it’s your child or a neighbor girl in serious trouble, in pain and sorrow, only to find nothing there. And why did a med for schizophrenia work SO WELL for me, aside from the nausea? I felt better on that (before I got sick) than I’ve ever, ever felt in my life. Now there, I suppose I’m fearing labels. And that’s ridiculous.

I was driving the other day, waiting at a stop sign, when something wretched occurred to me: What if I’m not the best thing for my daughter? What if I’m not the best thing for her? My head tells me I’m not good for her, look at the bipolar (tho it’s mild and I still think it’s mistaken for borderline personality disorder), adhd, complex ptsd, psychotic features (though they don’t effect her, are not even seen by her, and mainly occur during PMS), unable to work (i’ve tried so many times and I’m going to again dammit), can’t finish my chapbooks or even start the memoir–what kind of example am I setting? Then my heart kicks in and it’s like this–the way I love her is my example to her. I love her good and I know I do. Our relationship–our connection–is beautiful. I realize I wouldn’t want a child to grow up in a “normal” “perfect”, conforming environment, but I want her to know she is so lovable and is loved, and to believe in herself, to have faith in her body and mind, but to eventually teach her that that body and mind can trick you, and then you have to rely on a strong heart and a faith based on your instincts and secret moments. I want her to have faith in every step she takes, accepting mistakes and learning her lessons. She’s got such a huge heart, always looking out for the feelings of others, and I want to be sure she doesn’t forget herself. Like her mother. I guess I feel like she doesn’t have a sick mother, she has a mama that learned a lot through some wretched experiences that I will never let her go through (unless she has chemical, biological mental illnesses), and I’m still learning. I see, I see more and more about this life and who I am and how I want to not live it but just be for now (it’s all I can handle), and how my family taught me about love when I was mad and lost and given up in the hospital or in the prison of my rooms, faithless and empty and scared. But they loved me in all kinds of ways that kept my sick head afloat, like they held out a rope to me and said to the shell of what I was “we promise, we promise, just keep swimming.” And eventually, when I came out of it, they were there, in tears, waiting and believing and knowing I’d come out somehow. It shocks the hell out of me when someone proves that they believe in me,. It shocks the hell out of me that I was worth drudging through all the shit with, that I was worth anything at all. I still find that hard to believe. “Just stick to your mother role” my T always told me. I miss her, after ten years, yet she just wasn’t letting me be me. Or of course it could be me and not the educated psychotherapist–I just couldn’t, in the end, breathe with her, I wasn’t me shining, I was becoming this paper girl who acted as directed. Paper Girl. I’ve always felt like a paper girl, but when I’m with my girl or my sisters or cousins, it disappears. In small ways I’m becoming whole, fractions are filling in, and I just have to keep taking the shit in stride.

On an end note I was extremely happy with myself a few weeks ago–I started dissociating and instead of panicking like usual, I faced it, I accepted my depersonalized body and no mind, and actually was able to shut off my mind (no mind!) and let it just happen. And the fear vanished and suddenly I was in control of losing control, it was amazing, so the fear never came and it ended sooner than usual. Sweet, eh? More later, Amy Jo.

Radiohead and Cat Stevens and Awolnation–my music choices of the month.