I’ve made it pretty far into this thing. I’m focused more now on healthy living and less on reflecting about my illness.
I have been trying to write a memoir, because I don’t think I can really move on from this until I’ve got a neat look book to hold in my hand. I think a polished version of my memories could do some good for others, too.
But the thing is…it’s harder to relive those memories than it was to experience them in the first place. Reading through my blog posts makes me cry. Thinking back on what happened in the hospital makes me curl up under a blanket. But when it was all happening, I didn’t have the option of pausing things and taking a break. I was psychotic until whatever point the meds kicked in and I started seeing things clearly.
So I know I can do this. Which is why I refuse to stop trying.
As a side note, to keep everyone and myself up to date on my progress: I’ve recently completed an internship as a production assistant for a film camp, I joined a gym, started eating healthier, started dating again, and am headed for school come September.
I forgot that the whole reason I wanted to write today was because I found a book that sort of explains a lot of what was happening when I was psychotic.
It’s called “When God Winks” and it’s about coincidence. How you can think of something, some person, or some idea and then very soon it comes into your life. The author calls this “God winks”, because I guess life is sending you signposts that are leading you down certain paths.
When I was psychotic, coincidence wasn’t mere coincidence, either. But I certainly didn’t think it was God. I thought people were conspiring against me, bugging my phone line, reading my e-mails, reading my mind. But they weren’t. For years, I was convinced that everyone was watching me and knew everything about me. That the entire world outside of myself was omniscient.
Maybe that’s why some people believe the world is a projection of our thoughts. Because our thoughts seem to float around us kind of eerily. I guess it’s all in how you choose to look at it.
That’s all for now. I wanted to get that down because I have a feeling it’ll come in handy the next time I’m surprised the movie I’m craving is playing on TV.
It’s not lost on me that my posts have become more infrequent as I’ve progressed. I’m spending less and less time reflecting inward and more time engaged in what’s going on around me. Also, I’m a little bit more shy about sharing things. I don’t know why. I think it’s just the direction I’m headed.
Well, I’m going to spin things around a bit and share today. I recently joined a gym. My workout routine consists of thirty minutes on the equipment and thirty minutes in the pool. I’m trying to make it an everyday thing but some days I just feel like hiding. Like today. I substituted my usual blanket for my shirt and just covered my face with it. It’s not a very effective hiding technique but it strangely makes me feel secure.
I’ve been looking at my gym membership as a focus on losing weight, but I should really focus on being healthy. That’s something I’ll be focusing on for the rest of my life, and it encompasses a lot more. It’s not good for my mental health to be obsessing over anything.
Speaking of which, I haven’t been obsessed over blogging, tweeting, or talking about Conan. So I guess things do change. I guess I can change.
To quote my favourite song, “Things are looking up again, I believe, I believe, things are different somehow…” My life has taken a few positive turns.
I went through a bit of a slump for the past month or so. I knew that would happen. Recovery isn’t a straight line up, there’s are some bumps along the way. I think what I was experiencing was a lull after the dramatics of my psychotic episode. Things escalated really quickly and there was a flurry of activity and willpower, then I settled down and got into a bit of a funk. Now I’m back on the mend with renewed focus.
I got a gym membership at the YMCA near my house and worked out today for half an hour. Tomorrow I’m gonna try out the pool. I also bought a bicycle. 18 speeds, used. A great find. I love it. I stopped riding for a few days because my butt hurt but I’m gonna get riding again tomorrow.
I am also switching out my pop with carbonated water. Not the same. Definitely not as sweet. But comes in a can, so that fulfils one junk food requirement. Well that’s it.
Oh, and I wanted to mention a show in the Fringe festival that talks about mental illness and recovery. It’s by Harry Wheeler, who you can find on Twitter at @haw_inc.
So it’s been 100 days since I began this journey to recovery, and I’d say I’m doing pretty well. I’ve learned the recovery means a whole bunch of different things. It means remembering, yes, but also letting go. As such, it’s been difficult to blog about my illness because I’ve let so much of it go.
I couldn’t decide for a long time if I wanted to commit to writing a book, but I am not. I’m going to persist. And at the end I’m going to print a copy and then burn it symbolically. Well, maybe I’ll just symbolically delete the file. No fuss, no muss. Actually, I’ve decided I’m going to self-publish. It’ll be an e-book and if enough people want it, then I can look into printing copies.
I’ve started with an 100 word paragraph to introduce the story. Here you go. This is a teaser for what’s to come.
Working Title: The Psychotic Dream
I am a survivor of psychosis. During these past few years I’ve spent dealing with my illness, I’ve lived a hundred lives. I’ve been a famous princess set up for an arranged marriage. I’ve been a spy. I’ve been a saint. I’ve been a celebrity. I’ve even been a mind-controlled slave to the Illuminati. And for each of these stories, for each of these identities, I’ve woken up to realize that they never happened. I’ve known the pain of losing an entire world, again, and again. Because that’s what psychosis does: it turns your reality into an inescapable dreamworld. A world lost, and then found. Here, and then gone. Join me as I recreate those fantasy lands and learn what it’s like to live psychotic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I can’t seem to write that much in the past few days. Usually I feel a need to write, as a way of coping with my overactive thoughts. But I think I’ve laid out the most pressing and emotional memories in this blog and since then, I don’t feel drawn to writing. I feel relieved. Like a huge burden that’s been weighing on me for years has been lifted. I’ve shed old memories and made way for newer, better ones.
I would encourage everyone to write about their memories. It’s not about whether or not it gets a lot of views – it’s about freeing up some of that crusted over emotional gunk in your psyche and allowing other people who might relate to see what that process is like, and how liberating it can be.
I haven’t blogged in a while. I’m finding that the further I go into my recovery, the less the need to write is. I still enjoy writing but it doesn’t seem very urgent at the moment. I think that’s a good sign. Actually, that’s all I have to say right now.
I saw the trailer for the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service and it acted as a trigger for me. Much like the movie Divergent – it looks like it speaks to the matters of brainwashing, cults, violence, slavery, and secrecy…all subjects that comprised my psychotic delusions.
I got upset watching it because I felt a pull to protect the vulnerable people who might watch such a movie and get it into their head that the route the main character goes down – engaging in crime, being blackmailed, having to be subjected to traumatic experiences, and essentially learning to kill people – is a good route. I believe that most people with stable minds would be horrified by that, so I’m confused as to why movies are made that glorify it. I guess because there’s lots of action, and movie-goers can dish out $20, sit in a comfy theatre and enjoy loud noises and flashy graphics. All the while remaining ignorant to real-world events this parallels like child soldiers, cults and mental illness.
I shouldn’t insult the story without watching it or reading the graphic novel, because perhaps it is a deeper message. But those were my instinctive thoughts after seeing the trailer. Thoughts of anger, of fear, of hurt. I don’t mean to be judgemental – I mean to be honest. I think it does a disservice to all the young people who have been recruited into gangs to have a movie made that trivializes the process.
My delusions revolved around the idea that I was being programmed to behave a certain way, and that many others had been programmed to behave in different ways. We couldn’t control our actions because we didn’t know what reality was. That was part of my delusion. I don’t know if that makes sense, or if anyone else relates to that, but if they do they should know that my e-mail is listed on the about page and I always respond. I can’t offer counseling but I can offer a sympathetic ear.
Through this blog I’ve been able to discover my difficulties with counting. Today is Day 77. I think.
Last night the fireworks bothered me. I could hear them in my bedroom as I tried to fall asleep. Bang. Bang. Bang. It took me back to when I was first in hospital.
When the police brought me there, I was put into a room by myself. Nurses – or as I saw them at the time, interrogators – would come in and ask questions. They were trying to figure out what was wrong with me but I was full on psychotic so I wasn’t able to answer. I was hunched over, hugging myself and hyperventilating.
In the hallway I could hear another delusional patient banging on the wall. Bang. Bang. Bang. It was so loud it sounded like gunshots. I had a feeling they were playing a tape to see how I would react to the noises, but my parents later told me that there was actually a girl banging on the wall. Bang. Bang. BANG. I my mind, I pictured people getting shot over and over again.
Eventually this other patient started yelling, “I want to see my sister! Let me talk to Brittany! This is illegal!” Then the connection was formed in my mind to my sister, who happens to be called Brittany. With each BANG I pictured her being shot or hit. I let out the kind of tortured wail that you might hear from a ghost on a sunken ship. I think I was in that room for 7 hours listening to that.
So when I heard the fireworks last night, I relieved that memory and I cried. It was painful. My dog seemed to know instinctively that I would need a buddy to cry with, because she came and lay down on my bed. Maybe she didn’t like the fireworks, either.
I tried to imagine what the fireworks looked like. With their explosions of colour. Reds and blues and yellows. I remember that when I was a girl I used to love seeing them. My sister and I would go down to Bayfront Park and wait until 10:00pm for them to start. Even though they only ever lasted a short while, it was worth it just to see all the types of beautiful shapes they could make in the sky.
Eventually I fell asleep and in the morning woke up to birds chirping outside my bedroom window. Much better.
I had another dream, and it made me recall a memory.
I remember in grade five my friends and I performed in the talent show singing and dancing to ‘Hey Mickey’, the song that plays at the end of Bring it On. That was such an embarrassing time for me! I remember feeling all hot on stage, my face burning up with shyness.It was dark in the audience, meaning you could only see the first few rows. My brother told me later that day that my tank top kept flying up when I was dancing, which was more embarrassing.
I think after that point my self-image issues started. It would make sense, because I’d be around 11 years old. I was fiercely defiant at the idea of being so superficial as to even have a self-image, but that’s not really how self-image works. I was always a bit bigger than the other kids so I felt bad about myself for a long time. It made any type of spotlight activity, like performing, public speaking, acting, or the other seem terrifying.
Thankfully I was able to get over that long enough to perform stand up comedy a handful of times. That was special to me. I never wanted to be a professional comic, I just wanted to know that I could be a part of that world without dying. And I can be!