ON NOT SPEAKING
Over the seasons of my sixties
no wonders spark in my visual brain.
But a reason why’s no wonder.
For so many years schooled
into naming everything
words and sounds categorize the world
and wordify my senses.
Precipice, for instance,
with its sliced peaks.
And acrid’s encaustic, that bite on my tongue.
somehow leaves me paler
and more livid than before.
But there are descents into being speechless
for reasons besides pathology.
Although these may not seem any reason
or even be
reason enough, to many,
who believe only talking out pain aloud
Sensible or senseless
I know when shutting up is preventive.
or at least is less insane
than trying to be heard
by those inured to hurting
or being hurtful
when they indeed would rather hurt me
than pay heed, having heard me.
But if silence as you claim
overspeaks the chattering air
why do you refuse
to hear all I cannot use
my voice to say.
Of course you can’t change your life. Your “giants go with you wherever you go,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many many years ago, and it is still sadly true.
I left Connecticut, thinking I could escape, at least the hospital torture, but I cannot escape the voices that hate me and the demons that I carry with me, the fact that I burden the world, poison it when I exist in it, and that wherever I go I leave a slime of pollution and hatred..I cannot help that. It is a genetic flaw, no matter what good I try to do, the generosity I practice, the kindnesses I have done and preached, it all goes for naught in the end, when the poison leaches from my marrow and through my skin and permeates the world. People feel it then and run away, screaming…
I know this and feel it. and I cannot take it any longer. I have had it. Lord knows I have tried and tried to obviate it, to deny it, to remove the stain or fix it, but it has never worked. I am done. I can’t do it any more. It is over. I cannot deal with the voices and the evil that I am and cause any longer. It is so clear to me that others want this end from me too, because although they talk a good game about help and programs to assist me, they actually refuse to make them available to me, and deliberately– DELIBERATELY — turn a deaf ear when I overtly say, I NEED HELP NOW…How much more obvious and clear spoken can I be?
I will NOT beg for my life or my skin. No. I do not deserve that. And if not one wants me alive or intact, then there is a reason for it…and I know what it is, as I have stated. So if I get the message that “this is it” today, at my appointment again, that We HAVE NOTHING FOR YOU, that YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, that “we do not really care what happens”. then it is OVER…I cannot care for myself, the devil, and I know what must be done…
I have done all I can, I really have. Do not try to tell me I haven’t tried for 62 years as bravely and carried on ALONE as I could possibly do it and be. But I cannot do it any longer, I am sorry, But this is it. Either PROVE to me that YOU CARE THAT I EXIST AND DO NOT WANT ME TO DO…whatever.
No , in fact YOU cannot do anything, any of you out there. Frankly. This is strictly between me and the folks here tasked with making sure I am safe and it is clear that I have poisoned all of them already, I have used up my quota of caring and assistance and that is that. It’s gone. It’s over. I’m gone. GET LOST. YOU BAD RUBBISH. We have had it with you. You are worthless shit.
Goodbye. I don’t know what will happen to me. But I can’t do this any longer.
TAKE THESE BROKEN WINGS…
This is an incredible video, which, though long, is well worth watching. For anyone who believes that recovery without medications is impossible or not likely, you should watch this with at least half an open mind. And for anyone who has given up hope, this should give you a lot of hope. I usually cannot watch entire videos half this long, but I watched this one all the way through, even though I admit I had to take breaks because (Yes, I take meds myself) my attention span is short…But it was worth it to learn that one of the women featured not only recovered from her severe schizophrenia without taking psychiatric medication, she remained absolutely psychosis free and became a psychiatric nurse for 30 years. What I would give to speak to her about the sorts of treatment, or abuse that passes for treatment here in CT! But be that as it may, do watch this if you can. It is absolutely astonishing. And beautiful too.
This was the third picture I did at Yale. During the three weeks I was there, I often had a difficult time when I heard another patient yelling or getting angry. At one point, a young woman (younger than I at any rate) did a fair amount of screaming and complaining. And I heard a lot of noise that I thought portended or suggested violence was happening. I became very scared, terrified in fact, not because I thought I would be hurt, or that she would somehow hurt me. I am never ever afraid of other patients. My only fear at any time, aside from fear of the staff behavior towards me, is fear that another patient will be hurt or traumatized by staff use of seclusion or restraints or other violence on them.
Christine Simpson, the LCSW assigned to me on my team, recognized that I was panicking, and at least three times that day sought me out and just sat with me, talking to reassure me both that I was fine and that the other woman was fine, whatever was going on. She even came back before she went home to check on me and make sure I was okay before leaving, well after 5pm. I don’t think I ever thanked her enough for her support in the other posts, so I hope this does so. She was wonderful and I think she went out of her way to make sure I was not only “just okay” but that everything was as good as it could possibly be.
I am so profoundly grateful and remain astonished, both, that YNHPH has a philosophy of patient-centered care, of dignity and respect for the person, and also practices it so well that it doesn’t need to preach anything to the patient at all. You know, I believe the Washington Square 2 unit “advertises” itself online using the words Dignity and Respect, but I did not know this before I wrote my first blog post about yale or went there. I simply understood it from the way they treated me and everyone else. It was also perfectly obvious to everyone who visited me there.
I have donated picture #2, the one with the red bird of fear (“oiseau de peur”), to Yale Psychiatric Hospital, because of Chris Simpson and Dr Milstein and everyone else on the team and all the aides and counselors on the unit who work so well together. A huge thank you, to all of you.
Today I have a guest poster, someone who has been contributing a lot of comments to my blog and who wrote one that I thought deserved a post of its own. Without a lot of introduction, since she tells it pretty much as it is, I offer the following: one brave woman’s unique and amazing recovery story.
From “LADY QUIXOTE”:
I believe it is a normal part of grief to have moments of hearing and seeing those close to us who have died. This is true of our pets, as well as the people in our lives, who have recently passed on. I’ve experienced it, as have many people I know, most of whom have never been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness.
What I don’t know, of course, is whether these experiences are “real,” meaning do they exist independently of our own grieving mind? I believe that at least some of these ghostly grief visitations may be real. The reason I think this, is because on two separate occasions, with two different deceased loved ones, my paranormal experience was witnessed and experienced simultaneously by other people who were with me at the time.
Life is a mystery. Death, even more so.
When I feel that someone who has recently died may be trying to communicate with me in some way, I tell them that I appreciate their caring enough to contact me, and that I miss them and hope they are in a wonderful place where I will join them someday – but to please refrain from contacting me again, because it is a “trigger” for the schizophrenia I was diagnosed with in 1967. I have not been bothered with continual voices since 1969, and I don’t ever want to go back to that miserable real-life-nightmare, again.
In most cases, when I make this request, the “visitation” immediately and permanently stops. On the rare occasion when it has not stopped, I prayed to my Creator for help and protection, and I also studiously ignore the voice or vision, and in every case it soon stopped.
My voices started when I was 14, shortly after my paternal grandfather died. His spirit seemed to visit me twice, the first time immediately after his death, when I was sitting at my desk in school and had no idea that my grandfather was about to die. Suddenly, I “knew” he was dead. It was so real, that I started to cry, right there in the classroom. When I got home from school that day, my mother met me at the door and said, “I have some bad news…” I stopped her and said, “I already know what it is, my Grandfather ‘R’ died today.” She asked me how I knew, and I said I “just did.”
A few months later a friend of mine introduced me to her Ouija Board. She said it was a tool for contacting the spirits of the dead. I had never heard of such a thing and was eager to try to contact my grandfather through her Ouija Board. We seemed to have success in contacting some kind of spirit, but whatever it was, it wasn’t my loving grandfather
My friend who owned the Ouija Board then decided to hold seances with me and some of our other friends, but nothing much came out of those, except that one girl starting screaming at the top of her lungs during one of the seances, saying that she saw a horrible vision. But no one else could see whatever it was that had her so terrified.
Around that time another school friend told me he had heard about the seances I was involved in, and he loaned me a book which he said gave excellent instructions on how to contact the dead. I don’t remember the name of that book, but it should have been entitled “Spiritism for Dummies,” or better yet: “How To Become A Schizophrenic in 5 Easy Steps!”
That book gave point by point instructions for things like “autonomic” (spirit) handwriting, and also on how to become a medium, so that spirits could use your body and your mouth to speak through. Good grief, what was I thinking when I went ahead and followed those instructions? I really must not have been very bright, when I was 14.
So, naive me, I carefully followed the book’s instructions and put myself into a trance, then I called forth the spirits, and – lo and behold – suddenly my hand was writing words all by itself, and the next thing I knew, I had a head full of loud voices that would not shut up even for a second. My only escape from the nonstop circus in my head, happened when I was asleep. During my waking hours, every moment was a real-life NIGHTMARE.
I begged the voices to PLEASE go away, go back to where they had come from. But they just laughed, cursed, and mocked me. Sometimes they told me to kill myself if I didn’t like my life anymore. They even told me to pray to Satan, since praying to God didn’t seem to help. Truly, I was in a living hell!
In desperation I went to my mother and told her about the Ouija Board, the seances, the How-to-be-a-Medium book, my “success” with autonomic spirit handwriting, and the visions and the voices that would not leave me alone. I desperately wanted help to get rid of those maddening voices, because I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without a crowd watching, mocking, and commenting! I couldn’t have a private thought without a multitude listening to it, and commenting and mocking me for the silly 14-year-old things I thought about! I asked my mother if she knew what I could do to make the horrible spirits go away?
My mother responded by making ME go away. Although I had never tried nor threatened to harm anyone, myself included, she immediately put me into a mental institution. The year was 1967, during that era when the answer to mental illness was to drug you up, lock you up, and throw away the key. My mother assured me that I would only be in the institution for a few weeks, until they made me well. But right after taking me there, as I later learned, she went home and took every item I owned to the town dump. I was never supposed to come out of the insane asylum, you see, because the schizophrenia I had been diagnosed with was “incurable.”
One of the other young teenagers involved in our seances, also ended up hearing voices, seeing visions, diagnosed schizophrenic, and committed to the same insane asylum. He had been trying to contact his mother, who died when he was six.
After nearly 2 years in the asylum, a social worker who saw me periodically because of my young age, asked me why I was there, when I always “seemed” so normal? (I was asked that question a lot, because I was not one of those who went around behaving oddly. I never talked aloud to my voices; I had no need to, since they could hear my thoughts, anyway.)
I told the social worker that I heard voices, and she asked me how the voices had gotten started. So I told her all about the Ouija Board, the seances, and the book on spiritism that had taught me step-by-step how to put myself into an hypnotic trance and contact the dead.
Then this brilliant social worker said, “Well, it seems to me that all you did was hypnotize yourself into hearing voices! You’ve seen hypnotists on TV, haven’t you? How they can hypnotize a person into believing something ridiculous, such as that they are a dog, and the next thing you know that person is barking and behaving like a dog? Then the hypnotist gives them the suggestion that they are no longer a dog, that they are themselves again, and they instantly revert to their normal human behavior. Why don’t you try hypnotizing yourself once more, and while you are under hypnosis, tell yourself that the voices are not real, and that when you wake up, you will not hear those voices, ever again.”
I went back to the ward, got into my bed, and did what she said. I highly doubted it would work, because the voices seemed as real to me as anything – how could I make myself believe via hypnosis that they were not real, when I “knew” better? But, I went ahead and tried the self-hypnosis-reverse-suggestion like my social worker had advised me to do, and…. IT WORKED! When I woke myself out of my self-hypnotic trance, the voices were GONE! There were only a few, very distant, occasional “echoes” of “little voices” now and then, for a brief period of time, but they were so quiet and intermittent that they were very easy for me to ignore, and soon even that stopped.
In this manner I have been free of voices, 99% of the time, since 1969 when I was 16 years old. I have also not taken any anti-psychotic medication since that time. The only exception to my not hearing voices is, like I said at the beginning of this long-winded post, when someone close to me dies. But in every case, I handle it by telling them to please leave me alone, with a brief explanation of why I need for them to leave me, and most do so immediately. Those that do not comply with my request, quickly go away after I pray to the Lord for help, and then I tell the voices to “get behind me,” and after that I ignore them until they get bored enough, I suppose, to go bother someone else. 😉
Today, my residual “mental problems” have to do with my chronic PTSD, general anxiety, and an occasional dark depression. I am in therapy for those things, and I also take a low dose of an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication. But I have no schizophrenia, and no psychosis of any kind, not in over 40 years, YAY!
I shared my story here in the hopes that it may help you in some way. You are someone I feel very privileged to call a friend, and I feel sad when you are having a rough time.