Category Archives: Mind

Today is December 11, 2017. I am alive and well.

My short memoir piece, Hospital Visit Number 19, installment 2 of 4 blogs.

I miss you. I have been tucked away. The days slope near weeks like a long slide on the playground. How does it happen that you are always who you are? At least to people like me who have not seen you naked. Lights out. Bare skin. Toe nails. I see you in your favorite boots–black, cowboy, loose souls. I don’t wish to see you naked. You are too strong for me to do so.

You always wear a pressed black shirt with enough girth to disguise the belly you say you have. Black pants, smooth pockets. Empty? No. I think not. Maybe an odd tissue waiting for you to sneeze. And a peppermint. My grandmother carried peppermints in her pockets. The Tibetan prayer beads you wear hint at color. In the right light they are blue. Your long white beard is warm. Your white hair, wisdom attached to roots like a small hand on a Radio Flyer.

You touch lives.

The earth rotates so slowly that I imagine we remain standing still in a rush of daises. You see wind in breeze and send it on to hurricane across young pages the color of wheat. I am lucky to have you as a writing professor. The first time I met you, you touched me like lightening striking a tree that had been asleep even with wind. Nothing rustles in my branches. The air is so still in the hospital. If I wasn’t breathing, I would think I was living in a capsule on a mission to Mars. I send you a letter telepathically. The water you drink has a tinge of sweet this day. Thank you for blessing my life. I am brushed by your kindnesses.

The hail has yet to completely crack the lens of my glasses. I know my case manager is trying to make this happen. Where is Kristina? She is lost in the prison of her own thoughts. I try to explain to him that my thoughts don’t belong to me. They extend past the length of my arm, through my outstretched fingers. I am lost in sentences that remind me of mud. Schizophrenia is nothing to write home about. The hospital has too often been my home. I am not allowed to cook hamburgers with onions and mushrooms.

I miss my boyfriend, Guy. It is not easy to touch anyone in here. Even a visitor. He has become a visitor. I don’t feel his arms around me in a tight embrace, matching that of Santa Claus at Christmas. Am I being a good girl even when I am in trouble? The hospital staff considers me good but sick. I don’t feel sick. I feel tired. A flat tire with no donut available. It becomes necessary to tow. I am moved here to watch the tall man beg for cocoa. I am moved here to catch up with myself. The marathon is over. I am learning only now how to untie my shoelaces. They were knotted to my ankle. It didn’t matter that they had sturdy soles. I needed to feel the carpet between my toes. It is hard to be this vulnerable.

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Today is December 4, 2017. I am alive and well.

My short memoir piece to be installed over 4 blogs. Hospital Visit Number 19, installment 1.

The doctor will try to shake loose my shadow and fail. My schizophrenia is in full bloom. I seek sleep in the hospital gown and am left with wrinkled cotton creating patterns on my back. The hospital gown is not flattering and catches breeze from the movement of other people. I stand still as a hinge. I am told the elephants have moved. The teeth of the comb have been cleaned. It is another calendar year and I am again in the same place protecting my heart from the suddenness of a light snow fall. The snow fall will wait as it is summer in Phoenix. The hospital is the same as I remember it; a series of doors the same color marching down a long hall.

When my hands are locked at the knuckles I cannot plant alfalfa. I am told alfalfa is good for arthritis. I need to let my grandmother know this. Her knuckles are tinged by muscle ache. I can’t tuck the charm bracelet she gave me into velvet. Instead, the elephants with their ruby eyes get tossed beside the comb on the tiny nightstand. Strands of hair now wrap around the teeth of the comb.

It is cold in my skin. In two hours my shadow will appear obvious. It will reach the knob of the door before I do. The door does not lock. The psych techs need to be able to enter on a whim. They are in place to protect me from myself. I didn’t realize I was in danger until it was almost too late. I thought back to yesterday. The bottles of Tylenol and Ativan lined up on the counter begged for my attention. Had my grandmother not walked in, I would have swallowed mouthfuls and then laid down to leave. I have no idea who is on the other side to greet me if anyone.

I am at the end of the long hall in front of the nurse’s station, in front of the desk where the psych techs spend most of their time. The telephone is on the wall across from them. They can her whole conversations. No words leave my mouth. How will they know my heart has stopped since noon? I protect it the way a child does her first hat.

There is not enough room in the hall for the tall man to shout, but he tries. It does not get him the cup of cocoa he craves.

I do not enter the rec room on my left. The voices I hear are louder in there. They compete with the television which is only still from midnight to five a.m. The nurse says she sees me talking to myself. She is wrong. I respond to the voices in a friendly way so as not to irritate them into calling me names. Slut. Cunt. Bean stalk. Irritant. Fucker upper. Slut is my favorite one as I am rarely sexual. I remind them of this. They don’t care.

Today is October 30, 2017. I am alive and well.

Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.   Gertrude Stein

I don’t throw caution to the wind. I am careful in my life. And I don’t think I’ve stumbled recently. I’m not certain what stumbling looks like unless it’s to fall or stutter. I do stumble over my words often in conversation. My brain takes a quick nap and I can’t think of what I’m trying to say. I don’t know if this is because of my schizophrenia or my medications. I know I’m not stupid. But I also certainly do know I prefer writing to speaking. I’m a rather quiet person.

Do you think Gertrude means physically taking a tumble? I don’t wear high heels. I believe high heels gives one the opportunity to stumble. It’s hard to fall off of flats or boots.

How else might one stumble in life if not physically or verbally? I looked stumble up. It means to fall into sin or waywardness, to make an error (blunder), or to come to an obstacle to belief.

Do I stumble in my faith? Do I have moments when I don’t believe everything will work out? Are there moments in which I believe that God doesn’t have my back? Yes, but rarely. I spend most of my time feeling blessed. This has been a long time coming.

The reason I am careful in my life is because of my mental illness. I will do anything to not become psychotic. Psychosis is a shadow in my mind. It is a parrot with a sharp beak. It is news announcing terror. By structuring my life, I avoid pitfalls. My roommate says I’m so predictable she could set a watch by me.

At times I regret rarely being able to be spontaneous. I am in bed by eight and still wake tired after eleven hours of sleep. One of the meds I take causes this. I’m not complaining, though. My meds have given me life.

My roommate says there is someone out there who will love me and not be bothered by all my quirks. I know my ex did and does. Maybe that’s how I will stumble. I will stumble upon someone who will lift me up, who I too could lift up. I would love to stumble over a duffel bag full of money. The most grievous thing I’ve done is not to have spent my money well.

Writing this has been like not being able to move over a lane to make a left hand turn because of traffic. Why I picked such a challenging quote to respond to I have no idea. I stumbled onto the quote and I have stumbled over the quote. So much for not stumbling!

Today is October 1, 2017. I am alive and well.

I’m sending this a day early. Tomorrow is so busy.

Excerpt from Mind Without a Home written by me, Kristina Morgan

When my hands are locked at the knuckles, I cannot plant alfalfa. It is things like this I think about in the psych hospital. What alfalfa has to do with anything, I’m not certain. I think about the goat my grandfather bought to eat the grass and weeds in the corral. The goat refused to eat these things and instead wanted to eat only hay. My grandfather wasn’t about to keep the goat as a pet and pay for its food. The goat got sent back from where it came. I was sad. I liked the goat.

It is cold in my skin. In two hours my shadow will appear obvious. It will reach the outer door before I do and find it locked. I send my shadow in to meet the doctor. I do not want to appear too bright. Too bright, and he thinks I need to lessen the amount of Wellbutrin they give me. The antidepressant has saved my life many a time. I would rather my mind be too stimulated than have to deal with depression. Depression is a blanket that folds itself around my head making everything muffled and far away. I cannot see to walk forward into a life that is worth living. Depression will steal life every time. This I know.

I have little to nothing to do with the other patients. I don’t know how to talk to them about picnics on the lawn. They embrace one another. Share feelings back and forth. My feelings are a Frisbee I don’t throw but keep clutched close to my chest.

I sit at my post, in the chair at the table to the left of the nurse’s station. I write with pens my doctor said I could have. No other patient has a pen. They have little golf pencils. I wonder it they know they too could ask their doctor for a prescription to have a pen. It is good they trust me to not write on walls or stab someone with ink.

Every time I check into the psych hospital they take my pens from me until the doctor writes an order. I cry every time. Once, Charley, one of the case manages, came to my rescue as much as he could giving me full-length pencils. His gesture was kind. I still wanted my pens.

Today is August 21, 2017. I am alive and well.

It takes far less courage to kill yourself than it takes to make yourself wake up one more time.   Judith Rossner

I have spent days finding life particularly hard for no good reason. I trip on the curb of a sidewalk in front of a beauty parlor. One of the manicurists sees this and comes to offer a hand. She picks up the magazines I have dropped and my keys, than reaches for me. I don’t take her hand for fear of pulling her over with me, both of us landing hard on the sidewalk.

An invisible hand offering to pull me up each morning is always there. Most of the time I actually take it. The grip is strong. I don’t fall back against my pillows but instead place my feet on the floor and stand. I turn on a light. My little area in this world brightens. My cats walk figure eights around me and between my feet. I am able to feed them kibbles for breakfast.

I use to wake but not wake, if that makes sense. My body would motor around the house heavy with depression. It hurt to move. It hurt to talk on the phone. It hurt to sit at the table with my grandmother with whom I lived. Magically, this changed.

I have attempted suicide many times in my life. My last attempt was 20 years ago. I remember it clearly. My grandmother found me unconscious in the living room after I overdosed on Ativan and called 911. I woke up in the ICU a day later to the stare of an East Indian doctor. She was young. I guess mid-thirties. Petite of stature. Probably, 5′ 4″ and a hundred pounds. She took my hand and told me I had much to do in this lifetime, that my life was important. I said nothing but let her face imprint itself on my heart.

I’m no longer the cactus who refuses to bend in storms, refuses to let go the thorns. Instead, I’m a bush who waves in the wind and allows herself to be pruned.

I can’t say that I wake up happy all the time, but I do wake. Eventually, it occurs to me that I’m living in love. That my life is charmed and blessed. I’m a 6′ tall woman with no weight on my shoulders. My stride is wide. My gaze no longer haunted. I roam around in my day a free spirit. The ball and chain that I use to be attached to sits quietly in a corner of my bedroom as a reminder that movement has not always come easy to me. But now I do wake. I do walk with my breath a steady in and out.

Today is August 7, 2017. I am alive and well.

If a mind is just a few pounds of blood, dream, and electric, how does it manage to contemplate itself, worry about its soul, do time-and-motion studies, admire the shy hooves of a goat, know it will die, enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart.

Diane Ackerman

I contemplate my mind frequently. It is an engine attached to the caboose of my heart. When mind and heart are in sync, beauty happens. For me to think my mind is special is amazing for I have schizophrenia. I am at peace with this. I wouldn’t change it as it has given me bursts of creativity. Yes I have rough patches, grass browns when needing water, but they pass and I’m left in wonderment.

I believe my soul wants to live in real time. My conscience floods my soul with magic. I believe in the power of soul to ignite hours each day. A candle not gathering dust. A wick waiting to be lit. I don’t worry that my soul will become polluted and I’ll end up in hell. I don’t know that I believe in judgment day.

I’m not certain what “do time-and-motion studies” means. Does it mean we follow a clock? Recently, the library I work at flooded. I was moved to a branch while repairs are being made. I let the boss at my new location know it was really important for me to get my same hours. Time matters. Fortunately, she accommodated me. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, yes?

I feel time move. Especially recently in respect to my age. There’s a gentleman I want to ask out but he’s twenty years my junior. He was an infant when I had my first real kiss!

The line “admire the shy hooves of a goat” is beautiful. I admire the swift feet of my cats, the way my friend sips coffee, the sun entering my windshield. Often, small things vibrate like the pigtails of a toddler.

Of course my mind knows it will die someday. My brain will shut off. My heart will stop beating. My feet and hands will be still. I use to want to speed this process up. I have attempted suicide at least nine times, three of them ending in my waking in ICU. Not wanting to die anymore is an act of God. I value my life and hope to give something back.

“Enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart” of which there are many. I’ll leave you to meditate on this. Thanks for your readership.

Kristina

Today is July 24, 2017. I am alive and well.

So, I need your help. I have to date received 20 rejections from agents regarding my second book, Emma. I rewrote the query in the hope of making it stronger. Below is my new version. I would love it if I could get a yay or nay from you; nay you wouldn’t read the book based on the query, or yay, you would. Thanking you ahead of time. me

Emma, the Giraffe at the End of the Hall follows my book Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia. Kirkus review called Mind Without a Home “inventive, jaggedly lyrical, and disturbing.”

Emma is my continued journey away from the crippling effects of schizophrenia. Unlike years ago, I am addicted to life. Life shows up in good form and in bad. The dark isn’t a terrible thing; it’s simply a moment without batteries. My mind is treating me well; dust stops at my ears. I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet. I am a little beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.

I make a home outside the psychiatric hospital with a lover, Guy, and two Shih Tzus. Seven years go by, and I remain hospital free.

I lose the lover and dogs without losing my mind. Guy was good to me for as long as he could be.

The book comes at a time when people with mental illness are targeted in the media after  hellacious acts on their part. The percentage of those challenged with mental illness committing a crime is really low. My account lets people know that someone living with schizophrenia can be a sane and productive member of society with no tendency toward violent behavior.

The book is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid but lucid in its own way; the hat covers my grandmother’s head allowing the air to slide along her nose. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like there is a plate in my head that I need to dial into. And the other realities still exist.

Today, I am comfortable single with many friends to be responsible to. I am loved beyond the edge of language. A great sense of peace occupies my days.

I would be happy to send you more, or the entire manuscript, to help you decide if it is for you.

That is the end of the query. Someone told me I needed to drop one of these two sentences,”I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet” or “I am a beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.” Which one do you think I should cut out?

Again, thank you for your help.

Kristina