Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day - 28th anniv of my first Manic-Psychotic episode - Poem: Ah, Mania!
In 1984, when I was 38 yrs old, I had my first manic-psychotic episode. Like most psychotic individuals I had no idea what was going on save for a small "island of reality" which said, "Am I having a nervous breakdown?"
At the time I was an athlete and regularly played volleyball and tennis. Hello former tennis partner Dr Eisenman. Six months before my breakdown, I lost motor coordination and could no longer serve a volleyball or do my tennis serve.
To compensate I would practice for an hour before a game. I often ask that question to folks who have had a breakdown: Did you lose motor coordination? It's all about the brain and the nervous system.
My brain began to break the morning of Feb. 13. I had unaccustomed energy and began doing crazy things like calling the New Yorker to tell them I was a great writer. I also called Life magazine and typed up a query letter to them to see if I could write for them.
It was written in all punctuation marks.
When I pushed my mother down on the cold February ground at the corner of Masons Mill Park, here in Upper Moreland, she hailed a car and asked them to call the police.
I was carted off by the Upper Moreland Police Dept. to Montgomery County Emergency Service, then housed in Bldg. 16 on the grounds of Norristown (PA) State Hospital, where I spent the worst three days of my life.
When we arrived, I thought they'd taken me to a southern mansion.
The worst part of the stay was I was terrorized by an aide named Howard. But the patients were super-nice and helped me around in my utterly perplexed state.
As a single divorced mom of two children, Sarah was 10, Daniel, 8, my priority was to get home and attend to their needs.
Finally, my sister Donna drove me home through the numbered gates. I was never hospitalized again.
I was summarily fired from my part-time job as asst. editor of Art Matters monthly newspaper.
After diagnosis, I faithfully took my lithium and when I got psychotic, which I knew was approaching, would take an antipsychotic. These ranged from Haldol, Risperdal, and Navane.
At age 56, we discovered lithium was ruining my kidneys, so I went off. Within several years, it was clear that my bipolar disorder had vanished. At age 66, I haven't had a moment of depression or mania.
And who knew that my adorable 10-yr-old daughter Sarah, who I left behind when I was hospitalized, would donate her kidney to me in 2011, in a life-saving operation.
These are the happiest days of my life.
My Valentine Wish for my readers is to do everything in your power to live a good life. We only live once. If you have a mood d/o read my Keys to Recovery here.
You are faithful, I’ll give you that, coming ‘round just in time for
You snuggle close and ask me to be yours. I smile knowingly and say,
Show me your virtues....if you have any.
You, in the guise of a gypsy with pots and pans strung across your back,
take down a few tarnished wares and hold them out to me.
I snort. Haven’t we been through all this before?
Then, as I touch your rouged cheek, I ask, Why won’t you give me up?
What am I to you?
Your gypsy eyes, ringed with soot, brush my face.
Okay, I say, it was good. I admit it.
I saw the stars with you.
We ran with the moon at our backs and
leaped across the sleeping earth.
You showed me the future in a
dead dog’s eye, then led me away
lest I drown in my own dream.
You spun sweet songs from the morning breeze
and trickled them through my hair.
You peeled back the world so I could dip inside.
Took the fire from the sun and winked it in my heart.
Okay, I say. You’re a friggin’ marvel, a regular storehouse of miracles.
But can’t we say goodbye?
It’s February and you’ve come back.
You always do.
I hear you breathing at my front door, soft as a kitten.
I’d know that sound anywhere.
Let me in, let me in, you whimper.
Can’t you be more original?
I followed you
never dreaming of deceit,
dazed by your taste for light and color
awed by your contempt of boundaries
so like my own
which you swept away
with a lion’s paw
while I cheered you on from the sidelines,
until I found myself
tethered insensate to a hospital bed.
And forgot I had a name.
Amid the tumult
amid the sea of screams,
the broken minds a-bob the
slicing waves like so many
wind-up clocks jangling out of time,
who should come ‘round but you.
There, amid the black,
the granite slab of eternity sawing through my chest,
you kissed my eyes and bid me see.
My debt to you is incalculable,
simply beyond measure.
But no pots and pans today, dear Gypsy,
Put them away.
Today I travel alone
Fishing for words, as I do,
Fishing, without you.