Tag Archives: Mental Illness

Today is September 12, 2015. I am alive and well.

Does our mind follow our body like a pan following heat? Or does our body follow our mind like that of a comatose individual?

As someone with schizophrenia, I have to be careful when following my mind. When psychotic, delusional, and/or paranoid, I am instructed by my mind to do bizarre things. None of these bizarre  things include killing. Unlike the media suggests, not all mentally ill people have it in them to kill and act violently.

I am a pigeon, gray wings folded against my body in anticipation of flight. I sit, spine straight, head up, eyes opened but not focused, on my bed. I send my mind to the corner lot down the street. My body does not follow.

Construction workers are building a house. I settle on the branch of an oak. I smell fresh sawdust. It is cool. One of the workers wears a red scarf. I covet the scarf, but cannot act to get it because my body is not with me.

One day, the house will hold people. The people will make memories. The boy will become a congressman, the girl, a forensic pathologist. The father is a teacher and the mother, a phlebotomist. They can afford to pay for their children’s education. They can afford to pay for fancy cereals and fresh greens. The kids dress in the latest fashion and play golf on Sundays. No one can tell me this is not so because my mind believes it. I believe it.

The wind tugs on my feathers. I enter the sky and return to my body.

My body craves movement. My body craves exercise. I drive to the gym and get on a treadmill. I read trashy magazines while my body walks. My mind is following my body. My body falls into a steady rhythm of walk. My body carries my mind gracefully; I do not trip, shoe laces tied, feet moving repetitively, one-two, one-two, up-down, up-down.

In answer to my original questions, I believe the mind and body are both powerful. I believe they are inseparable even though a torture victim leaves her body. In order to die, the mind will retune to the body. Both are locked in death. After death, well, that is a whole other thing. The soul speaks…

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Today is August 10, 2015. I am alive and well.

To begin, I don’t have kids and have not often been around them. I don’t know if I’d be any better in my interactions with them then the parents I see at the library. Yesterday, a mother was screaming, yes screaming in the library, at her four-year-old son “there is no where to play right here.” The boy was spinning around and around with an empty red basket in one hand. Who was he harming? No one. He wasn’t even in the way because he spun in a tight circle, his body gaining momentum as if he could drill a hole through the floor.

There’s a pond in the library. I don’t know what else to call it other than a pond, a body of water on the first floor beneath wide cement stairs that contains no fish, just scattered change from well wishers. The toddlers are fascinated by this. I applaud the parents who let their children touch the water. The children recognize wet. Water drips from their chubby little hands.

I abhor parents that put their child on a leash. They do this buy attaching a back pack, usually in the shape of a monkey, to the child’s back. The monkey’s tail becomes a leash about five feet in length. This contains the child. Just as I think a child should be able to play anywhere that suits their imagination and doesn’t disturb the reality of others, I don’t think children need to be contained in such a way, especially if they’re in the children’s area of the library.

It is creative chaos in the children’s section. There is more than just books. There’s a puppet house with puppets, large building blocks of wood, a canoe shaped item that the kids rock in, some PVC pipe creations ready to be reconfigured, puzzles, computers, desks and chairs. Virtually, a small bit of paradise for children to explore. Let them roam, I say. Let them laugh loudly and thwart the screaming mother’s chastisement…but then remember, I am not a mother.

I regret not having children even though there are many good reasons why I didn’t. First off, I would have to come off all  my psychiatric medications. This would be traumatizing, and I suspect the trauma would have a negative effect on my fetus. Then there is the fact that I’ve never been financially stable. Nor would I want my child to inherit  schizophrenia from me. I do applaud women in my same situation for going for it despite everything. I have met some of these mothers. Their babies are loved and cared for. As adults, these same babies will probably have a great deal of compassion for the downtrodden. I understand it could go another way, but for today, I am hopeful that mothers with mental illness do well by their children. I am hopeful that mother’s without mental illness do well by their children.

Today is November 26, 2014. I am alive and well.

Excerpt from my book Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia…..

September 1993. I am 29 years old. At eleven years of sobriety, a heavy cloud drops on my head. Voices from other realities plague me like a gaggle of hurt geese who can’t find their way home. Men and women in black suits appear in my home and at my front door and in the grocery store aisles where cans neatly line the shelves, and boxes of cereal promise to make me an Olympian. Their presence is a plague. In three months’ time, I overdose seven times. The intensive care attendants get sick and tired of bringing me back. They refuse me cups of soda and stop washing my forehead with soft cloths in the ICU.

I move three times within these three months. People don’t want to rent me a room. Taylor comes to my rescue, as she has done many times before. She converts her living room into a bedroom.

There are three of us living in a small two bedroom apartment along with Taylor’s two large dogs. No one complains while I’m there. And no one kicks me out after I get drunk.

__________________________

not an excerpt. present day…

Life is so unlike the above today. I have 21 years of sobriety, live in my own condo, have not attempted suicide for I don’t know how many years. And I have learned to manage my symptoms well enough to have a good and full life. My past seems weird to me because I am so removed from it. I don’t live yesterdays. Today I am content with life, with who I am, wishing good cheer for all..corny, yes. But corny lights days and massages nights. I am wealthy without a dime. But I can always come up with enough to buy coffee other than Folger’s. Loving is the best thing I do in a day.

Today is May 26, 2014. I am alive and well.

“I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired,” writes Richard Wagner. Are the vibrations stronger when my mind is sick? Sometimes I think so. I need people to remind me of how it is when I am at my worst. I am convinced the government has my name and needs something from me. The something has never been clear to me. I am convinced there is a dial attached to my brain that can be turned to various frequencies. Bugs are crawling underneath my skin and rats are covering the floors–I do kind of like the rats. And on and on it goes.

I am removed from the world of a psychiatric unit. A Japanese fighter fish jumps from one bowl of water to the next. There is a plastic castle in one bowl and a pile of rocks in the other. Today, I am with the rocks. I drain the bowl, put the fish back with the castle and allow decorative weeds to sprout from the crevices of rock. Weeds can be beautiful. I pull them from the rock and flatten them on paper with a roller. I sign my name to them knowing I am the weed, flattening myself to the wall of a common reality where love prospers and cookies can be baked. Add milk. Delight in the curved edge of the kitchen chair. Taste the sun bouncing off the table and later, allow the moon to reflect off my glasses. The glasses, not the same pair I wear when visiting the psychiatric unit.

Today is April 1, 2014. I am alive and well.

I turned 50 last week on the 27th. Amazing. I didn’t expect to live past 18. I’m happy to be fifty and look forward to the coming decade. Work spoiled me, cake and card. My friends spoiled me with a potluck. I picked up the cake. It weighed at least 8 pounds. Huge. Below is an excerpt from my second book..title unknown, yet to be published, yet to be finished.

Dear Behavioral Health Patient, Be glad you missed the heart attack. It can be worse–you could be blind. I understand you stumble around the unit, shamelessly in your gown. I’m glad you are giving the medication a chance, although the side effects are real. A rat flattened itself, lost its bones, squeezed through the door jamb. It was quite the odd thing, but then you looked away and the rat went missing.

Thank you for your readership.

Today is July 29, 2013. I am alive and well.

It is good to feel alive, and good to feel well. I am glad Guy is not around when I wake up. I’m grouchy before my first two cups of coffee.

excerpt from Mind Without a Home

I want what lies beneath my madness. It is warm there. Thick there. Strong there. It is a place where Guy can rest his weary head on my shoulder, nestling into my long curls. I want the time I touch Guy to always be electric and new. This can be as long as my heart pumps blood to my mind, reminding me that madness is just a temporary thing. Whipped cream on coffee can be skimmed off, leaving coffee full and warm. Guy visits me where the birds dance hearts in the air above. Love and happiness lace my bones like liquor soaking cake.

Today is June 8th. I am alive and well.

I’m entering a couple of excerpts from my book. If you want more excerpts please let me know, or less, let me know that too. Yes or no, it’s all good.

Excerpt–
It’s the nature of night to be dark, but then the moon gets thrown in to pull at our bellies, to pull us right out of our pants before we become lost like a black ant in the bottom of a black bowl.

As for mental illness, I struggled. The plague had yet to catch me completely. I thought of it as a Stephen King novel. I knew it was there, I knew something was happening, but in the first 150 pages of a 500 page book, it had yet to reveal itself. I still had time before my heart was cut out and my mind completely poisoned.

End Excerpt.

Today, I will go to the movies; something I couldn’t do when my mind was wrapped in sickness. It feels lovely. And I will of course be accompanied by the love of my life, Guy. We have been together for eleven years. Amazing. Thank all of you for being out there.

Today is June 8th. I am alive and well.