Age has crept up on us
like a thief in the night
as I watch the clock hands
remain stuck on 1:30
as I wait
in the third doctor’s office
in six days
with my newly retired husband
with the illness
that drove him
from his beloved work
with the poorest of the poor
and I wonder
as I worry
how did he do it
did he marry me
taking my major mental illness
as a dowry
and I wonder
how did it happen
that we got so old
we look at people
30 years our junior
on the TV
in the waiting room
and think ourselves
but we are not
old age has crept in
like a thief in the night
were we always broken
cast under a veil
which now becomes
seen at times
and age creeps in
are we finally seeing
the unreality of the “reality”?
A fragmentation of reality
A major psychotic break
The other day I wrote a poem, Point of View, about having a psychotic break recently. Well, the break was a very slight one. Perhaps many people thought I was just being poetic. It reminded me of a time when I was being prepped for a surgery and the surgeon asking me about the medications I take. When asked why I took Thiothixene, an anti-psychotic, I told him that I was Bipolar. He said, “I think we are all Bipolar.” Maybe it was an effort to relate to me but it hit me in a “sore spot.” Everyone has moods, it is true, but being Bipolar is not just being “moody.” If we who are Bipolar have to endure the stigma of mental illness, at least allow that it is different from being “normal,” and not just some self-indulgent form of self-pity. So braving the stigma of it all, for I am sure many will stop reading here if they have not already, it seems incumbent on me to educate people. Bipolar Disorder is a major axis 1 mental illness characterized by extreme highs and lows. It is one of the most risky mental illness diagnoses because people can die from it. They suicide during a low. In Bipolar 1 the sufferer can become manic and while manic, and even while despressed, can become psychotic. Normal people do not become psychotic except perhaps in their dreams. Being psychotic means a major break with reality. It means entering another world that most don’t even know exists. So, no, we are not all Bipolar.
And, yes, people have fractured views of reality. But some views are more fractured than others. There is another “reality” in psychosis. This other reality exists when one is psychotic. What interests me is that different people who are psychotic have similar experiences, making me think there really IS another reality that is floating around out there. In this other reality the TV and radio can give you messages directly relevant to your life– so relevant that one begins to think there is some mind-monitoring device in your TV or radio. And the AC has a microphone that allows you to talk to the world outside one’s window, to the people in the street, and they respond to your commands. When one has the nerve to venture outside of one’s apartment, a cacaphony of voices tells you positive or negative things. People (I thought of them as teachers and/or psychics) do not come up to you and speak to you directly for they know you could not handle that. Rather they speak loudly to one another about your behavior so you can’t help but overhear. If they are pleased with your behavior at the time, the comments are your reward for getting well. If they are displeased, criticism comes from everywhere. There is nowhere to hide the shame you feel because negative feedback is coming at you from every direction. Then life becomes a hell that does not disappear when you go back home, because you can still hear the voices next door or in the street. That is just one down side of this other “reality.” Everything has self-referential meaning. You are either hearing voices that don’t exist, or you are one step away from that because the voices you hear are actually real, saying real things, but those things all have meaning for you and you alone. There is no safe place. No escape. No privacy. I was living in an apartment at the time. How much worse is it to be living in a shelter, hospital, prison or, worse on the street where one is overwhelmed with every kind of stimuli possible!
Synchronicity is everywhere. This is, I suppose, a lower from of altered consciousness. Life alternates between heaven and hell. That is what I meant by a fragmented view of reality in my poem, Point of View. One wonders if there is some divine intervention in these states because of the ubiquitousness of synchronicity. Is this another take on discerning Maya? I often lament to my husband that I cannot see the world as a dream or Maya and I feel so utterly unenlightened. And yet, how foolish I am, for many years ago I lived in another reality. Only now can I see that “reality” IS a consensual dream or “Maya.”
(For a narrative non-fiction account of being Bipolar and Aspie, the quest for sanity and the search for love, please see: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html to purchase my book.)
We live in a dream world the Hindus call “Maya”
All is illusory–
a cosmic dream from which we will awaken
when we die.
Just as a baby may think
it is the “end”
of life as he knew it
when he is being shuttled through the birth canal
while being born,
so, too, we may think it is the end
when we are dying
to this world of delusion.
But we will be born to something real,
something just beyond the veil of illusion
in which we are so enmeshed during this “life” as we know it.
“When we awaken in God we shall realize that mortal life is only a picture made of shadows and light, cast on a cosmic movie screen” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
This excerpt from Chapter 2 of my Biolar/Asperger’s memoir of finding love shows the beginnings of a psychotic breakdown.
I feel the electric light glowering at me. I look around the room in my basement apartment. The men following me. The phone call from Yvonne. Nothing is making sense. Obeah island witchcraft? Danielle’s thing. Danielle is the island woman. The room spins again. I feel like someone is watching me. I feel someone here— looking in the window.
Jumpy thoughts. Buzzing mind. I know the signs. Feeling the victim of a plot. Fear of being followed— of being watched— of evil spells coming out of an inanimate object— panic— magical thinking— paranoid ideation. I have made the break with reality. I have entered the deep, dark hollows of the paranoid’s world. Terror! I pick up the phone and dial. 242-6637.
“Hello, Dr.’s office.”
“Hello, may I please speak to Dr. Agostinucci?”
“Hold on a minute.”
“Hello, this is Dr. Agustinucci.”
“Hello, Joey. It’s Ellen. I’ve got to talk to you. Can you talk?”
“Yeah, you got me at a good time. I’m just in between sessions. What’s up?”
“Joey, I don’t know. I’m flipping out. I can’t sleep. I called Danielle last night and told her.”
“You told her what?”
“I told her what I told you— that I loved her. And then she told me that she wasn’t ‘that way’. And then . . . ” I start crying. “Oh, Joey, I’m so scared. I mean it means that all along I couldn’t see reality. I’ve been living in this fantasy world all this time, thinking Danielle’s in love with me and gay, and I’ve been drinking and drinking because I haven’t been able to sleep. And then today I started thinking that spells were coming out of the elephant that Sundra gave me. So I took the bus up to Columbia to throw it away. And then I thought two men were following me home. And Yvonne called me up from work and, Joey, I think it’s all a plot . . . ”
“Wait a minute, calm down. You’re all upset!”
I continue. “Yvonne and Danielle are in cahoots. Maybe they’re both testing me to see if I’m gay. Joey, I don’t know how I’m going to go to work tomorrow and face Danielle and face Yvonne . . . ”
“Calm down. One thing at a time. You’re overwrought.”
“But, Joey, I don’t know what is real and what’s not real anymore. I can’t sleep and I can’t stop crying.”
“Okay, look, I’ll give you a prescription. I’ll call in the prescription to the pharmacy. They’re probably still open. I’ll have it delivered. Just give me the name of the pharmacy you use— the one nearest you.”
“Uh . . . I’ve got to look it up— just a second . . .” I run to the bathroom to find a prescription bottle.
“Joey, it’s Rexall on 76th Street. The phone number is 663-7684.”
“Okay, look, I’m going to give you a prescription for Valium, 2 mgs. Take one pill and see what happens. If you still feel very anxious, take two.”
“Listen, I think you should go to work tomorrow.”
“Joey how can I? I keep bursting into tears.”
“Look, the Valium will help calm you. It’ll be a whole lot worse if you stay home. I suggest you call the Health Service first thing in the morning and make an appointment to see someone. Tell them it’s an emergency.”
“Okay, Joey, I guess you were right. You always told me I needed therapy and I always told you that I felt I’d go to pieces one day and now it seems that day has come.”
“Listen, you’re extremely upset. Take the Valium and try to get some sleep. If you need me you know where to reach me. And if things really get bad you know you can always go over to the emergency room in Lenox Hill.”
“Yeah, that’s right, I can always go there.”
“Listen, when I call in the prescription I’ll arrange for them to deliver it, too, so you don’t have to do anything. You have enough money to pay for it?”
“I don’t know. Let me see. Yeah, I think I do,” I say as I scramble through my purse.
“Okay, look, are you going to be able to answer the door? Or are you still scared of those men?”
“No, the doorbell only rang twice. Whoever it was is long gone. I’m not scared of that anymore.”
“Good. So just wait for the delivery. I’ll tell them to speed it up.”
“Thanks a lot, Joey! Thanks for everything!”
“Okay, take care, get some rest. I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you are.”
“Okay, thanks a lot, Joey, bye.”
For information on the memoir see: 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 The book is also available on Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.
The foundations of daily life are crumbling
It is all “Maya”
a dream we are living thinking it is reality
We have no choice but to go on
All that matters is love
and God is Love.