Also I just discovered a writer - Rachel Aviv - who wrote a sad but moving article in a July New Yorker about the lonely life of a bipolar/schizoaffective woman who abandoned her 13-yo daughter b/c she was so paranoid she believed she needed to leave her daughter behind. Read Rachel's website here.
Since I got rid of my 10-year-old desk-top computer in favor of a newer one, I removed all my old files and have many of them on this here laptop I'm typing on.
Slowly, I'm going thru all the articles and essays, hoping to delete as many as possible. So far, they're all wonderful! Just my opinion of course. Many of them are also unfinished, a total drag, b/c my mind is no longer on the topic and it would be very hard to recreate the mood and memory.
So, on behalf of my friends with the amazing propensity to become psychotic, here's a piece I wrote about 10 years ago.
Being psychotic, I've always felt, is a true privilege. That is not the American way to think. But, be reasonable. How many people have this tendency? As I said in my poem, "Ah Mania" - psychosis "showed me the stars, cut the world open like an orange and bid me dip inside."
I beg you not to be ashamed and to value this "waking dream - or nightmare" - and then get out of it as fast as you possibly can.
Antipsychotics always worked for me.
A BRIEF GLIMPSE OF THE TOY TRAIN
Monkeys, in one of those horribly cruel studies scientists perform, will do just about anything for a thirty-second glimpse of a toy train on the move.
One morning I believed that psychosis had come again. I couldn’t be certain but I was thinking things I’m not supposed to think – grandiose things – and I was also in a trance. I came out of my writing room and couldn’t get out of the trance. I went for a walk and the trance still wouldn’t go away. This had never happened before.
I was petrified.
I could have taken my antipsychotic – I have permission to do that when necessary - but I wanted to hear the voice of my doctor.
I poured my coffee into the sink and dialed the doctor’s number, which, of course, I knew by heart. I carried it in my wallet - next to my foil-wrapped Klonopin and Risperdal - just in case my mind went hysterical or galloped all across the plains.
Larry seemed to have hired a new answering service. I didn’t like them at all. I am exquisitely sensitive to the human voice and didn’t care for the new voice at all. The woman sounded like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters.
“Yes, hello, this is Ruth Deming,” I said. I heard her tapping away at her computer. She didn’t ask my phone number, which she ought to have done immediately, but I gave it to her anyway. Tap, tap, tap.
“Please give the doctor the following message,” I said. “Can you write it down exactly as I say it?”
“Yes,” she said. She was not irritated.
“I’m in a crisis.”
I paused so she could type it up.
“I’m becoming psychotic… Do you know how to spell psychotic?”
“Yes,” she said. Her voice had quickened.
“Please get this to him as soon as possible.”
“Yes, Mrs. Deming, I’ll page him immediately.”
I paced around the living room, still in my trance, until he called back. He wanted to know everything that was going on. He always asked good questions. He told me I sounded all right – he has a wonderful way of summing you up and telling you - and then told me how much Risperdal to take. I didn’t care if some of my brain circuits would be shut off. All I cared about was getting rid of the thoughts and coming out of my trance.
After all, I wasn’t the sibyl at Delphi.
By dinner time, I was better.
A few days later, upon the advice of a friend, I bought a tape of the Gypsy Kings. I had never heard of them. It was Latin music with an impossibly driving beat and raucous voices. You stood there after putting in the tape and without even thinking, started dancing. You moved the furniture out of the way so you could look in the mirror and admire yourself gyrating. You were getting higher and higher.
“Stop that!” an inner voice shrieked. “Stop this immediately! You know what will happen.”
“Jesus Christ,” I answered. “Must I? I’m having such a good time!”
“Do you think you’ll have a good time when they drag you in chains to Building 50?”
I thought about it a second. I took a look at my mind and listened to the beat of my heart.
“You’re right. I’ll shut the tape off now.”
My spirits sank. The house was quiet. The excitement was gone. The silence was excruciating. Maybe I should make some chocolate milk to cheer myself up. Certainly I could not go back into my writing room. The trance would come again.
I put on the classical music station. They usually played awful music so I figured it would calm me down.
I sat there, on the couch, sad, calming down, watching without interest the leaves outside and waiting for the sparrows to come to the birdbath.