Purple People

 

“Susanna: I am a crazy girl. Seriously. 

Tony: You’ve been in a hospital?

Susanna: Yes.

Tony: Do you see purple people? My friend, he saw purple people. And so the state came and took him away. He didn’t like that. Some time went by and, and he told ’em he didn’t see purple people no more.

Susanna: He got better.

Tony: Nah, he still sees ’em”.

          Girl Interrupted

So apparently I am psychotic. My own clinical knowledge says the doctors are right. But my own intuition convinces me they are wrong. Honestly, I feel fine. This so called ‘delusion’ of mine has been going on for a good decade or so. And although it isn’t terribly pleasant at times, I’m coping fine. It doesn’t affect anyone but me. I’m functioning. I’m a good mother. I’m not socially inept (well not completely anyway ;)). I don’t feel that I have lost touch with reality. It’s not like I am running around town in a bed sheet proclaiming to be Jesus.

But that’s what they always say about crazy people. They always think they are sane.

I had an emergency meeting with my new psychiatrist; Dr. Very Long Name, and my psychologist on Monday after the revelation that I could be mad. I sighed heavily during the interview “Oh I knew I shouldn’t have told anyone about this…now you all think that I am crazy!”. “I don’t think you are crazy”, Dr. Very Long Name replied “I think you are psychotic”. Well. That’s comforting 😉

 

Interestingly they have now assigned me to this “Hospital in the Home” program. I don’t know the details, but apparently nurses will be visiting me daily. Now this is interesting because as I said before. I feel fine. I have lived with this ‘delusion’ for a very long time. Truly, I’m ok.

Yet when I wasn’t ok, when I was desperate for help I didn’t receive it. It’s a strange world.

They have got me on a new drug. An anti-psychotic. Abilify. Worst drug ever! Imagine being so tired you can barely stand up. Then imagine being so restless you can barely keep still. Then chuck a few achy joints into the mix. That is Abilify. I took it for two days then gave up. I have a toddler to look after, a thesis to write, and a goddamn life to lead. I’d had enough of that bullshit.

 

I don’t believe medication will stop this ‘delusion’. Mostly because I don’t believe I am deluded. I’m wondering if the only way to get out of this is to claim recovery. Perhaps I will have to pretend that I can’t see purple people anymore.

 

Hello, Psychosis!

 

I have been waging a war for the past three months or so with my Seroquel. God I hate that stuff. It’s an antipsychotic whose main effect seems to be what I like to call “zombification”.

 

I have been on the stuff for almost a year now, and I suppose I have built up a tolerance to it. But I still seem to feel completely exhausted on it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s GREAT for getting to sleep. The problem comes when the next day arrives and you feel as though you are positively wading through the day, counting the hours until bedtime.

So I’ve gotten into this completely stupid routine (not advised by my doctors either – when will I learn?). I will stop the Seroquel for a few days in the vague hope that I *will* get to sleep without it. I don’t. After three days or so I reach my limit, reach for the pillbox and reach for my pillow. And then I continue to reach for my pillow the following day. And so the cycle continues.

Anyway the other day Steven and David went out for a few hours. My plan was to get some quality work on my thesis done without David rampaging around the house. I sat down at the computer but started to feel a little funny. Funny strange, not funny “ha ha” – although I suppose it depends on how you look it. I started to tired. Normal. Dissociate. Normal. Hear voices chattering in my head….so not normal.

Yep that’s right. I started to hear voices. Chattering. Grinding their horrible teeth on metal. It was horrible, and peculiar, and horrible. Now I have experienced a lot of crazy things in the last decade or so, but I have never heard voices in my head. I started to feel alarmed, the voices were so noisy that I actually couldn’t listen to my own thoughts. Somehow I made it to my mums house, where according to her I staggered in shaking from head to foot, barely able to walk.

She was alarmed too. She had never seen me like that. Somehow I have managed to hide the nasty sides of my illness from the people closest to me (aside from Steven of course). I’m lucky in that I dip in and out of psychosis the way others dip in and out of shops. I’m never completely psychotic. I’ll have an episode, then recover. When my psychosis was out of control in hospital I refused visitors except for Steven.

Anyway she was alarmed and immediately called Steven to come home. She started saying she thought I needed to go to hospital which upset me. There was no way I wanted to go, and heaven forbid, get admitted again. How would I look after David?!

Steven came home and calmed me down, he coaxed me into taking some Seroquel and within about half an hour I was feeling much better. Yes, Seroquel is both my villian and my saviour. Friend and enemy. It makes me feel tired but brings me back to sanity.

I saw a psychiatrist who wasn’t sure whether sleep deprivation or the missed doses of medication were responsible for my momentary freak out. Either way I am back on the seroquel. Full time. Bleurgh. I figured as much as I hate feelings washed out, it’s sure as hell better than being immersed in a world of chattering people chomping on metal.

It’s been a while since I’ve had any *incident’s* and I was hoping I was completely stable. I guess I just need to come to terms with the fact that these sort of things may happen occasionally, but they are controllable, and I AM okay.

 

 

Flashbacks and Nightmares

 

I keep having these flash backs. It’s strange. I’ll be going about my normal business when suddenly it will hit me. I’ll feel like I am *there* again. It’s not entirely unpleasant. But not entirely pleasant either. For the briefest moment I’m propelled back into the past. I feel it again, the blackness, in the pit of my stomach. But at the same time I know that I’m safe now. I’m OK now.

In one of the flashbacks I have just been admitted to hospital. I’m sitting on the bed, my head resting on my knees. I can’t describe how I feel. Relieved. Finally someone believes me. Finally someone is going to help me. Perhaps I have a chance. Perhaps I can keep going. But I’m so tired. I’ve held myself together for so long. Now that I’m safe, now that there are people looking after me I feel I may simply fall apart. The Hubster wants me to unpack my suitcase so I feel more at home. But I’m just so tired. I had to tell people today that I was going to hospital. I had to admit that I had a problem. I had to pack a suitcase not knowing when I would be home again. What if the people out there judge me? What if they think I’m weak.  A failure. Hospital is my last chance. My last ditch effort at saving myself. What if it doesn’t work? I’m so incredibly exhausted. I just want to sleep.

In another I am in the art room furiously painting a picture. I’m talking to my doctor who is carefully colouring in a stained glass window. I’m asking her if I am crazy. I had a dream about South Korea and the news article on TV was about South Korea. I walked in at that very moment. Surely that means something. Why would I dream about South Korea if it didn’t mean anything? I must be able to predict events. My dreams must be predictions. My dreams are important. I’m telling my doctor that I must be crazy. I must be crazy because of what I am thinking. I’m telling her how angry I am. She tells me this is the first time I have talked to her. Said something other than ‘I can’t keep going’. She says this is progress.

In another I am waking up from a vivid nightmare. I’m soaked in sweat, my hair sticking to my forehead. I’m hyperventilating. I want help but I remember I am on isolation and can’t leave my room. I can’t breathe. I pace around the room then spy the emergency call button. I’m just about to punch it with my fist when a nurse opens the door. I’m shaking and pacing as the dream haunts me. I trip over my dressing gown and the nurse steadies me. I just can’t breathe. I tell the nurse about my dream, how I need to put pictures of my loved ones on the wall. If I don’t put them on the wall they will die and I will be responsible. I could have prevented it. But I don’t have pictures, and I don’t have blue tack. The nurse doesn’t understand how important this is. She gives me some pills but I’m scared to fall asleep. She holds my hand and stays until I drift away again.

As soon as the flashbacks arrive they leave again, and I’m left with a strange sensation. No matter how I try to push the memories away they bubble up to the surface when I least expect them. Often things, moments, that I thought I had forgotten. A little reminder. A bitter aftertaste. A motivation to keep myself stable.

Traces of Nuts

The first time I was hospitalised, when I was about 17, I started hearing voices. Well, to be more specific I started hearing a robot voice.

I tried to ignore it at first. Get on with things. Go about my business. But this robot voice was every where I went. In my room, in the dining area, in the halls. This voice was starting to (if you’ll excuse the irony) drive me completely insane. I began to feel more and more dejected. Here I was. In a psychiatric institution. Hearing voices.

Then I became angry. I couldn’t even understand what the damn thing was saying.  I couldn’t even be a normal crazy person.  Someone who could actually understand their stupid voices. This is ridiculous!

One day I was waiting for a group session to start when I heard the robot talking again. I decided I had to settle this matter once and for all. I turned to the guy next to me and asked him:

 “Did you just hear that robot voice?!”

He looked vaguely startled and looked around. “Robot voice?”

“There it is again!” I exclaimed. “See! That robot voice! Please tell me you can hear it! I’m being driven insane. I know I shouldn’t say that here…but seriously….can you hear it?”.

It was then that he burst out laughing. “That’s Harold!” he told me, in between snorts. “He’s had a tracheotomy, he speaks through a tube. I guess he does sound a bit like a robot.”

We were both silent for a moment. “Well that’s a relief,” I finally said. “For the last week I have been convinced I was hearing robot voices”.

Oh we laughed and laughed after that. I felt a huge range of things. Guilty for starters (poor Harold!), embarrassed, but most of all relieved. THANK GOD! I wasn’t crazy. Well, at least not in that way.

But this experience got me thinking. What is crazy anyway? Do you know if you are crazy? I’ve heard that the craziest people often believe they are sane. But sane people can think they are crazy too. Are you crazy if you are sane but think you’re crazy? Who defines it? Where is the line between crazy and sane?

One day, in the MBU, I was trying to make some lunch for David. Another patient was experiencing a manic episode and was pestering me, talking a mile a minute, following me around the kitchen. In between peals of laughter she managed to say “wow! You must really think I’m crazy!”

“Yes,” I responded rather grumpily. To my surprise she just burst out laughing again.

“That’s because I am!” she sung, before waltzing outside to the garden.

She certainly thought she was. Did I think I was crazy? I’m not sure. Do I now? I don’t know. What I do know, is that the deterioration of mental health results in a need for intervention. Some people resist it, but I was open to it. Perhaps that was the sanest part of my condition. I believe that everyone has their own eccentricities, some are just more obvious than others. I believe eccentricities need only be a negative thing should they threaten the wellbeing or reputations of themselves or the people around them.

Although I can’t define what I was before, at this point in time I’ll conclude that for now I’m swinging around the ‘normal’ end of the continuum. Normal. With traces of nuts 😉

 

 

The Wood and the Trees

Something strange happened the other night. I had had a lovely day lunching with my best friend. Master D was in bed and I was curled up on the couch watching TV with Hubster. I was happy and content and relaxed. Bliss.

Then suddenly I started to feel like I was lying down on a wooden board. That’s the only way I can describe it. I shifted around and tried to get comfortable but everything just felt hard. I stood up and walked around but the horrible wood feeling followed me. The molecules in the air surrounding me seemed to turn into splinters and I felt a huge pressure, like I was being pushed into the ground. I started to feel like I was encased in a coffin of wood, and I started to panic.

Sounds crazy right?

 While it was happening I kept trying to explain to Hubster what was going on, but he just couldn’t understand it. How could he?  I suppose that’s what being ‘crazy’ is like – having horrible things happen but no one being able to understand what you are experiencing.

He tried his best of course. Bless him. He told me there wasn’t any wood around me (“I KNOW there’s no wood, I just feel like there is!” I snapped back). He suggested that I ‘calm down’, which unfortunately had the opposite effect. “Would YOU be calm? If you were trapped in wood?!” I asked him. He didn’t have an answer for that one! Finally he asked if I wanted to go to hospital to which I vehemently declined. A Friday night at the hospital attempting to explain my plight to a physician really didn’t appeal to me.

In the end I took a few extra anti-psychotics and went to bed, willing the hardness to disappear. In the morning I woke up, minus any wood, but I was annoyed. It simply wasn’t fair. I had been taking my pills religiously, I had been keeping my stress down, I had had a damn good day, why would something like that happen?  What did happen? I mean, seriously….wood?! What the hell?!

My confidence was knocked. I thought I had been doing so well. This was just reminder that the blackness…the craziness…could come back at any time. “Hi Rachael! Remember me? Just popped into say ‘hi’ and remind you that I’m still here.”

But I guess it is naive to think that I have completely exorcised a part of myself that has been around for so long. Do I even want to do that? I don’t know. If I’m happy, but have a few crazy moments is that ok? Maybe.

It has been about six weeks since my discharge from the mother and baby unit. At the end of the day after what I went through before that, I think one slightly odd evening in six weeks is pretty damn good. It passed quickly, no one got hurt and it even makes me chuckle now.

I guess sometimes weird things happen, things you just can’t explain. But I’m not going to dwell on it, or analyse it, or worry about it. I’m still doing well. I’m still happy. I’m still laughing. I’m still me. And as strange as the experience was, now I can see the wood through the trees 😉

Onwards!

 

Yep! 😉