Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Sign of the Cross

I walked down to my favorite park, smoking cigarettes feverishly, and talking to myself like some madman, quietly, well after midnight. It seems like such a long distance to the park from my house, but only takes thirty minutes to walk -- that thirty minutes feeling like an eternity I am so excited to get to my favored place. The park has a different ambiance at night that belies it's presence during the day. A quiet calm -- almost spooky. Serene and yet eerily foreboding. Dark, tall shadows are cast by the big old oaks in the light of the street lamps by the highway. I sat in one of those long shadows, smoking, as I watched the very few cars parade past on the nearby highway -- their headlights shining like dual beacons in the night. The coffee I bought at the convenience store and my radio, my only companions.

Was musingly entertaining thoughts of becoming a monk tonight -- leaving my life to join some monastery in Old Europe. A life of quiet contemplation not much different than the life I already live. I could spend my days writing in quiet solitude evoking thoughts of the monasteries of medieval times when men of the cloth would feverishly slave over tomes of knowledge and religious texts. Atoning for my lifetime of sins, maybe God would cure me of this unfit mind and this incredible urge and cupidity to drink. I wouldn't have to give up much -- my home, finding a home for Maggie which Rosa would readily agree to harbor her. Kissing Rosa goodbye would be the hardest part. It was just a passing thought, though -- a muse to entertain my fanciful notions. I would probably make a terrible monk as I would talk too much.

Walked by that Catholic church once again on the way home -- my wanderlust for the night satiated. The auspicious chapel calling out to me; the front lit by a lone spotlight showing a glaring white cross. I stood for a moment, looking longingly, thinking of the church as being a safe haven for us troubled souls. I said a little prayer for good health and then did the sign of the cross in good Catholic fashion -- the four points signifying loving God with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength. Pleased with myself, I walked onwards as I talked to God. Pouring out and bearing my soul.

Stopped by the convenience store for some salt and vinegar potato chips and a refill of my coffee before arriving at my destination. My favorite after-hours clerk was pleased to see me, his moustache bristling as he grinned, greeting me as he looked over his glasses. We made small talk with him discussing the crazy customers he gets in the early hours of the morning. "It's a full moon," I told him as I smiled knowingly. "Ahhh," he said. "No wonder tonight's been interesting."

I have feverishly tried to gather my thoughts tonight -- my mind feeling chaotic and turbulent -- which is sometimes an embarrassing struggle. Most people take a fit and well mind for granted. Thus my insomnia. I want to try and will away my mental illness through prayer and sheer determination. No medications -- the same medications that make me constantly feel tired, slow, sexless, stupid. I sometimes feel that my fragile mind will just blow away like on a strong gust of wind in a storm. And that terrifies me — that one day, who knows when, my mind will just soar off on ‘the wings of madness’. It has happened before. So I come to write in this journal. Orderly organizing my thoughts and writing them down -- proving to myself that to do this means I am of a sane mind -- still in control of my faculties. Crazy people don't write blogs I try and tell myself. Proud that despite all my problems I can still think, can still put one thought after another -- that despite everything, I haven't lost it completely.

I don't know how other mentally ill people cope without a safe place to talk about it anonymously like I do on this blog. Families are terrible places to go to discuss an unwell mind. At least, my family is -- causing fear and harsh judgement. You turn to doctors and express forlorn and disorganized thoughts -- delusions and paranoia -- and they want to put you in the psychiatric ward of the hospital for weeks on end as has happened before to me and it is very much like being in jail. It is totally beyond me, how, when life and your mind spirals out of control and detaches itself from reality like a veneer detaching itself from on an old wall in a dilapidated house -- people survive without a safe place to write and express themselves. How they survive and still keep their dignity. I can see why so many mentally ill people turn to alcohol and drugs, and end up on the streets. How it is almost essential to be "fucked up" as much as possible -- anything to forget and detach ourselves from the reality that is our lives when feeling mentally ill.


justLacey said...

Are you sure you aren't bipolar and not shizophrenic? What is the difference between the two? Perhaps you are on the wrong meds and that's why they don't work as well.

Terri said...

I love your summations in the second to the last paragraph in this post. I do take my fit and well mind for granted, until I come and read your insightful struggles. Thank you Andrew.

impromptublogger said...

ITA - I do see a definite manic side to you, although that COULD be brought on by your meds. When somebody is in an extreme manic phase they can suffer hallucinations, hence the reason why misdiagnosis happens.

Neuroscience, while making strides, is the "the new frontier" in medical science. They are years and years away yet from unlocking the brain's secrets. Hopefully in about 20 years genetic testing will be able to determine treatments, but until then unfortunately it's still a crap shoot.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I have learned so much from you in your blogging, Andrew. We stand on the outside and know what mental illness looks like from that perspective, but I never really understood until now, what it must feel like, to struggle every day to meet expectations that your very being fights against. I admire you so for your openness and honesty here. I know in turn I will be a more compassionate person. I hope that you do find some comfort in writing, it is my only real outlet in life too.