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A Very Personal Account

By Abigail George

There is a torment in waiting for the psychosis to break.

You can never heal completely from that wreck. I can tell you what it is not. Psychosis is not polite madness. It is not going to go away any time soon. You will recover, but then again, you will relapse. Psychosis is, I am afraid, another dimension, a violent dimension, in which we are dealt the cruel blows of hallucinations and voices. I wish that it could only be my potential, food, music, and love that affected me deeply instead of psychosis. I have discovered that a woman and an inpatient of a mental hospital must always keep a diary. I have discovered that there is always this struggle for creativity, extraordinary innocence, and enduring hope within me. I have to be better. Better than sane and better than mania. I have to be better than when the hypomania triumphs.

I have discovered when I do better; everything begins working coordinated. My parents are my guardians. My mother’s love is my anchor in the great house where my childhood ruled. My lifeline. It features goals, adolescent potential, sanity, and sleep. For a long time, I lacked awareness of what having psychosis would mean in the long term. I know now that depression would make me an ordinary woman, but what gives me creativity? I have never been in love like other women. I have never married like other women. I have never had those children with the white picket fence, but I write books. They pour out of me. I dismantle marriage and give it a bad name in my short stories. All I know of life is empty fields and waiting rooms. I am waiting for doctors, psychiatrists to see me. I am left overwhelmed.

I have been damaged, filled with anguish, bittersweet angst, and manic energy, and I have written with spontaneity. Family life and keeping diaries have saved my delicate psychological framework. It has motivated my intuition to dream again when all I have to offer the world is my sadness. I know what the word ‘lack’ or rather the term ‘lack of’ means. The lack of being there so wholly in the present. I know what the sensation of being caught between fantasy and illusion means. I spend a lot of time on my own now. I do not call the pain and the wounded feelings that stir deep within me loneliness. Psychosis is a nightmare. I cannot really bring myself to explain the parts of this non-reality that are also frightening for some.

It is only a voyage. It is only a voyage into eternity. There is winter in my heart. Ice in my lungs. The horrors of depravity in my chest. All are holding me down. This is a critical system. Psychosis is like suffocating in the dark. Drowning with despair on your left-hand side and hardship on your right. Studying the case studies of people who experience psychosis must give you a profound take on humanity. How much of our soul we give away. How much we take and take and take from the people around us. These are people who love us. After all, the people who treat us, the doctors, the nurses, are not strangers. These are all rhythms that go by the name of love. These are all rhythms that are a return to love and normalcy. I think when I say that, I mean it to be factual.

People could never see the brightness behind my eyes, why I kept to my quiet self. Perhaps all they saw was intelligence. I knew early on how dangerous it was to make friends, to have relationships. I was deathly scared of the boyfriend and girlfriend relationship because this would mean now I would have to come clean. I would have to confess. I was always the confessional type, though, especially throughout my poetry. I could not see what others saw. I knew I would be no good for anyone. No good for domestic life. No good as a wife and a mother. Sacrifices would have to be made. My children would have been too independent at a very young age. They would have had to look after me. I do not think men really have it within them to care for a mentally ill wife.

I know every day what I have given up in pursuing sanity. Mostly I feel the hunger in the dark. I yearn for closeness, contact, and love, but I know I would not have been able to deal with it or accept it. I cannot even accept praise for my writing. I shy away from it. I painstakingly crush it. I know I must, or else the art form that has become part of my perspective of the exterior world will not survive. All those drawings of people. Am I tragic? That is hard to escape. Not with the wealth of ideas that I have, though. With my battle with psychosis, I have encountered coma, relief, disaster, and horror. I write about what I think intimacy is. All I know of intimacy is the partnership of my parents. Sometimes I feel that all I am are fragments pieced together.

Fragments of dopamine, serotonin, burnt-out nerve endings, and flashbacks to times when I was happier. As a child, I did not have to deal with trauma, depression, my dad’s depression, pharmaceuticals, and lack of parental supervision. Still, you must understand I was dealing with all of these things at some level, even when I was a child. Life was stressful when I was a child. Life became even more so when I grew up. What is despair compared to love? We all want to be accepted. I mean, it makes you question the distance between self-love and fear. I have lived my whole life fearing what others might think of me, what they will say, and their opinion of me. Fear programs the psychosis. Fear becomes another reality. What I wanted for all of my life was to live in your world.

All I wanted was to have thoughtful parents who loved me; thought the world of accomplished me. Parents who clapped every time I won something at school. Every diploma I received. My goal was to perform excellently. Even as a child, I was a perfectionist. The doctors never spoke about the hallucinations. The hearing of voices. Maybe they wanted to protect me. Maybe they wanted to say. Perhaps this will never happen to you, although it has happened to other people whose diagnosis played out the same way mine was about to. Maybe psychiatrists do not believe in the future. Perhaps they only believe in the now. Maybe they only believe in fixing the now. I made my everyday life up for as long as I could when I was in high school. It worked. Then it did not. Now I write for a living. Psychosis banging at the door.

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