My social life has taken a turn for the better lately. I’ve been able to go out and meet with friends, hang out in public places, meet new people, and go out for dinner. In fact, I’ve been so active that I haven’t been keeping track of my bank balance. One of the most embarrassing things that has happened to me in a while, was having my debit card declined because of insufficient funds and having my mother come and pay for my meal. I’ve never really been good with money.
However, I was able to foresee my funds running out eventually – considering I don’t have any sources on income right now. So before this all happened I was able to score a temporary gig as someone’s live in pet sitter. I’ll be looking after two dogs for about five weeks while their owner is away. That should be fun, and will solve my bank balance problem, too. I’m not allowed visitors and I can’t leave the dogs alone for long, so it might be a bit isolating. But maybe that will encourage me to study!
But I get impatient when I’m low on funds. Even if there’s nothing I want to buy, I feel trapped. I live with my parents and I don’t have any expenses right now, but there’s something about not being able to afford a bus ticket outta here that makes me nervous. And when I get nervous, or feel any emotion to excess, I paint.
I really like painting. I paint mostly modern, abstract art. Not because it’s popular, because trust me it’s not, but because that’s what I find relaxing. I put up my paintings on a new page in hopes of encouraging people to buy some but don’t worry – there’s no delusions of grandeur here. The last painting I sold – the only painting I sold – went for one dollar.
Money issues aside, my psychosis symptoms are pretty much gone. I’m understanding myself again. We’re still experimenting with the right medication plan but everything seems to be going smoothly. It’s only a little over a hundred days until I hit the one year mark.
It’s hard to believe, but I’m actually sitting in a library writing a paper that is NOT due tomorrow. I’m finding that taking three courses really helps me manage the work load. And I’ve discovered the cure to boredom here on campus: get a coffee and go the second floor of Mills library and write. Even if there isn’t anything due, there’s always blog posts and e-mails and articles to catch up on.
I’ve even taken to reading scholarly articles on JSTOR, an online academic journal. I figure they can give me ideas about future projects and areas of study. My psychiatrist made a good point that if I try to make every assignment seem applicable to real world problems that I actually care about – the work will seem less dry.
She also told me that I need to get out more. It’s true, I’ve been so focused on ‘getting better’ and getting past my episode that I’ve been building myself into a socially isolated cave. I forgot that wellness is best achieved holistically. And, maybe my anxiety was holding me back a little. I’m anxious about doing anything that isn’t hiding under a blanket so that makes ‘getting out’ kind of difficult.
For the longest time I was nervous about seeing people in person since I had my episode and started blogging. I thought coming out of the psychiatric closet would be easy – no big deal. And when I did it, I was so concerned about being in a satanic cult that I didn’t really care about what people thought of me. But now that I’m getting better, and the fog is clearing, I’m left feeling exposed and aware of how exposed I am. It’s hard to own it. Now I understand what people meant when they said I was brave. Turns out I wasn’t that brave, just a bit delusional.
But, I can’t trade the experience of my episode and all the things that came along with it. So instead of back peddling back into the closet (or under the blanket), I’m gonna go forward. Slowly. And maybe something new will happen, once I let it.
Sitting in a bustling library with a coffee and a laptop, writing an essay. Student life isn’t so bad.
I’ve finally started to settle into a rhythm with my classes and exercise. It’s been difficult, because I often feel anxious around people (who are EVERYWHERE) but I’m working through that. I find the key is to put myself in a good mood – even if it’s unnatural. As my high school gym teacher told me: fake it til you make it.
I’m in the two hundreds as far as these posts go. Not two hundred posts, but two hundred or so days since I started blogging. 226 to be more accurate. It really does take a long time to see change. But I’ve forced myself to keep moving and now my life is relatively on track. But I’ve still got a long way to go til I’m back to my old self. To be fair, at my best times I’ve performed improv and stand up comedy, exercised for two hours every night, and been an A+ student. I’m keeping the bar set high.
As far as my symptoms go, the worst I’ll get is a bit of anxiety or low mood. There’s not much I can do about that except ride it out. It’d be worse if I were growing delusional or paranoid, which I’m not. I don’t think I am at least…
Anyway, I have an essay to finish. Have a good day!
School starts soon. I got my schedule and it looks pretty manageable. I’m nervous about taking the two research courses I’m taking, because I’m actually retaking them. Last time I had to drop them because I was ill. But I’m excited for the Islam in North America elective I’m taking. I bought a book on the history of the middle east but it’s a bit too dry to get into.
My new aspiration is a career in law enforcement. I’m not sure in what capacity yet, but the thought of it excites me and gives me reasons to stick to my health routine.
Speaking of which, this week I’ve cycled, ran on the treadmill, swam and done pushups and sit ups. I’ve also eaten a lot better. For lunch today I had a spinach and avocado salad. I also started logging my food and exercise on Lose It. My goal is to get down to whatever percentage of body fat I’m allowed to apply to be an officer, which means this will probably take a while.
I’ve developed a three year plan filled with attainable goals to get me to where I want to go. I’m also learning French!
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.