I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone interested in psychological exploration – from clinicians to self-diagnosticians to concerned family members to lovers of extraordinary tales well told.
Do not imagine that this is a lesson-plan about Bipolar Disorder, or Asperger’s Syndrome, for that matter. On the contrary, we see Ms. Wolfe wrestling with a panoply of symptoms residing on different points of a spectrum – we never know exactly where we are, and neither does Ms. Wolfe. We get first person, real-time intimacy – the raw data, not the spin.
Asperger’s, autism, schizophrenia, paranoia, mania, depression, and challenging questions of gender identity blur back and forth until one is overpowered by the sense of a shape-shifting, ghostly enemy. We witness Ms. Wolfe inaccurately interpreting social cues the way an anthropologist might puzzle over artifacts from an alien civilization.
The writing is austere, elegant, forceful and almost chillingly honest. There is not an ounce of self-pity to be found, or self-aggrandizement. Serious students of these illnesses could hardly find a more useful document because – using meticulous diaries she kept through the years – Ms. Wolfe has made scrupulous accuracy her battle cry.
From very early on I found myself caring about what happened to Ms. Wolfe, wanting to know more. I sensed sweetness, innocence, and vulnerability – and that made me want to protect her. Consequently, the dread I felt as I watched her struggle with her own mind – and the outside world – created the tension of real drama. One would have to be a cold fish indeed to not suffer along with her as she trudges ahead with heroic determination.
Ms. Wolfe has achieved something quite remarkable. She has applied the direct simplicity of science to a human ordeal and, in the process, accomplished what art does, when it is at its very best. She has fearlessly and generously taken us into her world and – in doing so – enriched us all.
It is Friday night. Ten thirty and I still have not eaten. I walk into the kitchen, take out a can of soup and dump the contents into a pot. I walk into the bathroom, open the medicine cabinet and stare at the three bottles on the top shelf. Mellaril. Stellazine. Valium. I have already taken my Stellazine. Valium is the drug of choice for the night. I take one of the yellow pills out of the Valium bottle, go into the kitchen again and pour glass of wine. The pill goes down. The wine goes down. And the soup goes into a bowl. I sit in the yellow light at the kitchen table, and force myself to swallow the soup that doesn’t want to go down. Another glass of wine.
SHIT! IT’S 11:00. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO PULL ANOTHER STUNT LIKE LAST SATURDAY. DRESSING AND UNDRESSING. GETTING UP ALL THE NERVE AND LOSING IT. HIGH. SO HIGH. READY TO GO FINALLY AT 1:00 A.M. AND THEN DECIDING IT WAS TOO LATE. TOO LATE TO GO ROAMING AROUND NEW YORK ALONE. YOU CAN’T DO THAT AGAIN. BUILDING UP ALL THE TENSION AND THEN JUST GOING TO BED. YOU CAN’T DO THAT AGAIN.
I wash the dishes. Brush my teeth. Comb my hair. Change my blouse. Change my shoes. Comb my hair again. Change into a different pair of shoes.
SHIT! 11:30. GET OUT OF HERE. GO! JUST GO!
I walk into the street and into the late February night. It is freezing.
TAKE A CAB. A BUS. NO, WALK. IT’S OKAY. WALK. JUST MOVE ONE LEG IN FRONT OF THE OTHER AND WALK.
72nd St. 68th St. 66th St. The streets go by so fast. Too fast. 65th St. I approach the door. This is it. A camel flashes in red neon lights in the window and above that a sign painted in gold appears to vibrate in the neon light— “Arabie”. “The Club” as it is known. Four women are in front of me. Two guys hanging out in front of the disco next door make comments. The women make like they don’t hear. I can’t make out what the guys are saying. I just follow the four women in through the red door. I’m doing it. I’m actually doing it! A stout man asks me for five dollars as I get to the door and he gives me two tickets. The tickets say they are good for one drink. I follow the four women inside and line up to check my coat in the cloak room on the left. It is lined in red velvet. I fumble with the coat check ticket as I try to take the whole scene in at once. The walls are also lined in red velvet. I feel as if I have walked inside a giant womb. The air is filled with smoke and a flood of voices overwhelms my ears. Twinkling lights line the reflection-laden mirror behind the bar. I try to take a breath. I see women everywhere. Sexy looking women. Butches. Dykes. All kinds of women. Women talking. Women hugging. Women kissing. I feel dizzy and giddy. I feel all eyes are upon me, but walking up to the bar to order a drink I relax a bit and I see they are not.
THIS IS PERVERTED STUFF.
My legs want to run back out of the door into the street for a breath of air.
NO. YOU’VE GOT TO SEE. CALM DOWN. LISTEN. HEAR THE MUSIC. IT’S COMING FROM THE BACK. THERE’S AN UPSTAIRS. GO TO THE BAR. GET A DRINK AND THEN GO TO THE STAIRS. CLIMB UP THE STAIRS AND LOOK AROUND. YOU’RE JUST SCARED. YOU HAVEN’T COME THIS FAR JUST TO RUN OUT THE DOOR AGAIN. RELAX. LOOK RELAXED, GODDAMN IT, OR THEY’RE GOING TO THINK YOU’RE STRAIGHT. RELAX, YOU FOOL.
I down the rest of my drink and go over to the bar to order another. I gulp. My body slowly loosens to the effects of the alcohol. The tension in my muscles unwinds in hot little waves. I want to dance. Women with women. It doesn’t seem perverted anymore. I decide I like it. I feel safe. I feel free at long last. Free to be me.
I watch a woman in a long white skirt dancing near the bar by herself. She sees me looking and smiles. Is she smiling at me? I look away.
I sip the rest of my second drink more slowly. More women are coming upstairs to dance and the dance floor is filling up. The wall opposite the bar and the DJ station is all mirrored and the reflections of the dancing bodies double the size of the crowd. I begin to feel giddy with the smoke and the reflections and the music and the alcohol and the bodies. I lean against the bar to steady myself. I watch the dancers and through the sea of undulating bodies I see a woman leaning up against the mirrored wall watching. She is alone. Tall. Black. Well-built. Dressed all sexy with a blouse open at the neck and tight fitting jeans and boots. She stands straight and cool with her shoulders thrown back and her head held high on the muscular body of a dancer. Her eyes a counterpoint of pride and vulnerability. She sees me looking. I keep staring and when the woman looks over to me again I let my eyes meet hers. Our eyes play a game of flirtation across the room, between the sea of dancing bodies which separates us. My courage is building. When the woman looks over again, I smile. The woman smiles back. She walks across the room to where I am standing at the bar.
“Would you like to dance?” she asks in a sweet, accented voice.
From Chapter 6 of my memoir on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Eye-locks-Other-Fearsome-Things-ebook/dp/B007TOOF56/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345051643&sr=1-1&keywords=eye-locks Also available on Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.
This is the mind in mania, a sampling of the free-flow of racing thoughts and rhyming words that occur. On first glance, the meaning may seem random but in the context of the memoir, themes of paranoia and the flip side of mania, depression, are apparent.
I catch the Number Four bus. The bus is crowded. The motor in my head starts racing again.
IT’S PANIC. AND THEY’RE PUSHING. PUSHING AND SHOVING. AND THE STREET LIGHTS ARE FLASHING— GREEN VENOM/BLOODY TEARS ALTERNATELY ON THE RAINDROP WINDOWS OF THE BUS. AND THAT WOMAN OVER THERE IS STARING, DAMNED BITCH! AND THAT HAIRY MAN— THE EYES ARE PROBING AND LOCKING. IT’S SHOCKING. THE MIND MOTOR’S GOING FASTER AND FASTER STILL. NERVE ENDINGS FIRING. AXONS AND DENDRITES SYNAPSING ALL OVER THE GODDAMNED PLACE. AND THE STREETS CRAWL BY. FLIP FLOP. THE CAMERA SHOP. GOTTA MOP THE CAMERA SHOP. FLIP FLOP. THE BUTCHER SHOP. CHOP. CHOP. RAW MEAT DROPS AT THE FEET OF FAT FLESH. TICK TOCK. THE ROUND, WHITE INSTITUTIONAL CLOCK TICK-TOCKS TO THE CHOP CHOP OF THE BUTCHER SHOP. A SEAT. SIT DOWN. CLOSE THE EYES. YEAH. THAT’S BETTER. NICE AND EASY DOES IT. TRANQUILITY. SENILITY. DEBILITY. THE MIND MOTOR’S RACING. THE HANDS ARE SHAKING. GRAB HOLD OF THE BAR. YOU’LL GO FAR IF YOU GRAB HOLD OF THE BAR. KEEP THE EYES CLOSED AND GRAB HOLD OF THE BAR. THE BLACK HOLES IN SPACE TAKE THE PLACE OF THE RAY OF HOPE WHICH LIES LIKE A DOPE BURIED UNDER THE FALLEN STARS. A MURKY MIASMA AT THE BOTTOM OF THE UNIVERSE. REHEARSE THE HEARSE. ANOTHER STAR IS DYING AND TRYING TO REST AT BEST IN THE BOTTOM OF FOREVER. AND PEOPLE ARE LEAVING. AND THERE’S MORE SPACE. AND I’M DOWN IN THE VALLEY OF THE DESPAIRING DAMSELS, SITTING WITH THE DOTTED, SPOTTED DALMATIANS, IN THE PURPLE PANTRY PUDDLES OF THEIR PISS.
From Chapter 2 of my Bipolar/Asperger’s Memoir. For more information see:
Also available on Barnes & Nobles Nook, iBooks and Smashwords